Slumbering Angels

My downstairs neighbor had her quarterly check-up at the Cancer Center today and I took a later train than usual so we could go downtown together. I made sure to put breakfast on the table and leave the Tupperware and chopsticks that J and M needed to take with them for their post final exam rice cake pounding event before waking J up with instructions to wake everybody up in time for school. My neighbor and I managed to arrive at the hospital a little after 8 a.m. and go our various ways for check ups and treatments. Her survivor friends also scheduled their appointments today so they could get together. They kindly invited me to lunch with them when I met them after my treatment just as they were finishing up with Dr. F.

Thinking that the kids were already home as both schools got out a little early today, I decided I'd go ahead and join the ladies for lunch as it was already too late to rush home and be here before they got home anyway. We had a pleasant time and my neighbor and I got home around 4 p.m. to an empty house as the older girls were at club or team practice and the elementary kids were out in the park with friends. I noticed the answering machine light flashing so I pressed the button to hear "This is Mr. H. from junior high school. Neither J nor M have arrived at school this morning..."

That's when I found the uneaten breakfast on the table and deposit of pyjamas, discarded school uniforms, dirty socks etc. scattered over the yet to be folded and put away futons. Guess I should have called the kids from the hospital instead of assuming they were all already in school. Oops.

I called the school to make sure that the girls had arrived in time to take their exams and was told that they had arrived with a few minutes to spare, just after the teacher had called. Whew!

S went to help out at the rice pounding event, kindly taking the necessary Tupperware and chopsticks that had escaped notice in the apparent rush to get out the door. J said that there was one 7th grade boy running a few hundred feet behind her as she ran in the front gate so she was glad that she wasn't the latest kid.


Wishy Washy Day

I gave a sample for my blood work this morning and was promptly called in for my check-up. My oncologist had printed out results from my Ct scans of July and of last week to show me how much the Taxol (the ultimate head lice control drug) had shrunk the tumors in my lungs. This was encouraging. He asked about all the possible side effects and examined my hands, checked for lumps, listened to my breathing, looked carefully for any swelling and asked about the general quality of my life to determine if the treatments have been affecting my quality of life. We discussed extending the Taxol treatments until I notice more side effects and he typed in a schedule for up to 26 treatments in the computer. So far, the only side effect that is worrisome is the gradual numbing of my feet. For some reason, my hands haven't been affected yet (knock on wood) but my feet feel like I've been skiing all day and my old (not very warm) ski boots were buckled too tightly. This isn't really a problem as I've always been a little clumsy and as long as I wear my SAS shoes or other well cushioned sports shoes, I'm OK. If this neuropathy advances to a point where it changes my gait, I will probably stop the Taxol and, per the original plan, keep up with the Herceptin. There goes the 20 time countdown goal.

I asked to see the bone scan results from a few weeks ago and he showed my that my skeleton had a little illumination on a spot on my upper left rib cage and another spot on my right hip that weren't there last November. As I have no symptoms (pain) the current course of action is to stay on the Taxol/Herceptin menu and keep an eye on the spots. These scans detect trauma (breakdown and regeneration) to bones and it might not necessarily be metastases to my bones and could be a number of things (I am a little clumsy and could have bumped my hip and the rib cage spot was radiated two years ago...). I need to research a little more. I tend to think that it is cancer spread, but feel that the Taxol is probably working on this too. Not shattering news, but still a little dismaying.

I walked around Shinjuku Station and Yoyogi today to get my exercise and look at the hundreds of men setting up billions of Christmas lights the Takashimaya Times Square area. What a lot of electricity and manual labor for a generally Shinto/Buddhist metropolis.

Sunday Fun

J and I left breakfast and lunch on the table with a note for the younger siblings and S who were sleeping when we tiptoed out the door at 8 a.m. to go to a musical instrument fair in Yokohama. Getting everyone out the door in time and dragging them to Yokohama would have detracted from fun for the day all around (J would have had to rush through the exhibit so we could get out before the other three broke anything and they would have been grumpy about tagging along when they could have slept in) and increased our total round trip time ("Where's L? OK, now where's N?...."). Our student/sometimes helper and his sister came over in the afternoon to play with the younger kids and the kitten, so they weren't at all unhappy about being excluded from the day trip.

We checked out Xaphoons (handmade bamboo saxophones from Maui), ouds (guitar-like Middle Eastern instrument with beautiful mother-of-pearl inlay and 11 strings), saz lutes and all sorts of unique instruments as well as a plethora of mainstream instruments and accessories. J was most impressed with the contra bass saxophone in this photo. There are apparently only four of them in Japan and this is the only privately owned one. The other three belong to various symphonies of bands. She was ecstatic when the people at the booth kindly encouraged her to play the monster sized sax. She actually managed to play a song from her brass band fall concert program, but it was hard to get the sound on the video of my cell phone as the very large conference center was filled with booths of other visitors sampling instruments and the low frequency output of the huge instrument couldn't compete with the din of clarinets, trumpets, alto saxophones etc. She had a great time.

We arrive home to sit down and play with Koro and her guests who were kind enough to bring Baskin Robbins ice cream.