Tiptoe the Chinese Hamster Posts on Her Trip

We made it to Japan! Kathy’s brother J escorted us after we spent a few days
with his family in Ithaca, NY. Check out our travel magazine.

We were surprised that Tokyo is so far from Narita Airport. The sign at the bus stop said that it would take 140 minutes to our hotel which was actually on the other side of Tokyo and then some but there was a huge thunderstorm and it took us three hours! Kathy and her two younger children were a little afraid when lightening struck the building where they were waiting and the power went out for twenty minutes.

We were all glad to check in to J’s hotel and rest up before our big day of sightseeing on Friday and trip to a hot spring on Saturday after Kathy’s older two daughters joined us. The cold beer looked very refreshing after a long day of Buddhas and beaches but we three decided to refrain in order to get over the jet lag.

Fireworks from the roof of Kathy's apartment were fun in spite of the drizzle and the low visibility due to all the smoke.

Kathy took us to the National Cancer Center in Tokyo today. (26Aug2008) It looked huge from below and the big Tsukiji fish market next door ... seemed tiny from the 19th floor.

Look at this sheet of origami cranes that some patient made out of a single piece of paper. They must have had a long drip! The Chicken was able to speak with them and learn that cranes are a symbol of longevity.

The nurse smiled at us and was very interested in my album. She checked Tex’s compression sleeve and was pleased that there was no swelling. She took this picture of Kathy and us.

A Herceptin sister who has treatments on the same days brought Kathy some rice balls made with genmai and grilled salmon wrapped in nori (Kathy says it’s paper-like sheets of seaweed and I thought it tasted pretty good when she gave me a few grains of genmai without the salmon). The nice lady patted us all on the head and sent her best wishes to the Her2 Support members. She has a wonderful laugh.

After treatment, Kathy took us on a quick tour of the neighboring fish market. Some of the people there thought I was a rat and didn’t look too happy, so there aren’t many photos. I can’t imagine why anyone would eat things with tentacles when pine nuts and other seeds are sooooo good. Kathy’s kids love chomping on boiled octopus.

Tex, the Chicken and I have enjoyed our time with Kathy and her family but we are looking forward to returning to Pink's place soon and recuperating from the international travel.


Life Goes On

I was surprised at how much manual labor is involved in implanting a port. The surgeon had to tug fairly hard to make a space for the resevoir portion of the device and then carefully push the catheter part into the vein. I saw why it took longer than expect when I saw the x-ray confirming placement; those catheters are quite long. I didn't feel a thing thanks to the local anesthesia, but I wasn't surprised that I had a sore should the next day. I was told to keep the bandage on until Tuesday, when I go for treatment, and that showering and bathing were not a problem. The bandage kept moisture out and would have worked fine if I'd stayed home and relaxed in the airconditioned living room all week.

Did I relax at home? Of course not! I got back from my overnight stay in the NCC spa around lunchtime on Wednesday and took the kids out to karaoke for two hours before meeting S at a cheap Chinese restaraunt for lunch. The private airconditioned karaoke room and the cool Chinese restaraunt were fine and I was glad to have no dishes to wash. The area under the bandage stung a little but was fine after a shower and a good night's worth of sleep.

J and I left M in charge of the younger two with food for breakfast and lunch and went to an open house at one of the better public senior high schools on Friday. She'll be taking tests to be accepted to a high school so we're checking out as many possibilities as we can to decide where she wants to try for. This school look really great; a good blend of academics and other character building challenging yet fun events. This will be the first time in her life when she can be surrounded by similarly talented students with like interests. She manages well now in spite of the riff-raff, but I expect that this is due to the training she's had at home in concentrating among the chaos created by her siblings.

We finished our tour around noon and I mentioned to J that Mrs. Y lived on the other side of one of the nearby stations. We decided to call and see if we could meet for an impromptu cup of tea. Mrs. Y said that she had plans downtown but could meet us so we walked on to her station and she caught a bus. We coordinated by e-mail messaging on our cell phones and she suggested we wait in the cool bookstore near the station. We browsed for a while and were very pleasantly surprised when she showed up with her daughter M. M and her husband have been in Colorado with his job for the past few years and I haven't seen her in a very long time.

They changed their plans and the four of us enjoyed a delicious lunch in a new Italian restaraunt near their station. J had a wonderful time at our leisurely ladies' lunch and we head home in a good mood, arriving around 4 p.m., a little later than our estimated "lunch-time" frame we had given M but apparently the younger two had slept until about lunchtime anyway and there had been no problems.

All that walking and talking in the heat did a number on the bandage and it peeled off on its own from the sweat to reveal four neat but still yucky black stitches and a fairly neat and well healing incision. I washed and applied iodine and let it air dry for a while before covering it with a non-stick bandage from our first-aid box. I expect the tugging sensation to go away after the stitches come out.



I got a bed in a quad with a spectacular view and no room mates.The TV runs on prepaid cards and also has an internet connection with a doohinky "ring scroll mouse" I can use to click on a cyber keyboard to type excruciatingly slowly.

I had a quiet day and my port went in smoothly. My neighbor came by with a friend of hers to sit and talk for while.

More details when I have a real keyboard.


Hmmmmm and Wow!

Dr. F showed me the CT scan results from last week. The good news is that the cancer has not spread anywhere outside of my lungs. The not bad but still not great news is that the lung tumors are still slowly growing. I've only had the Xeloda oral chemo and Herceptin IV combination for two months, so the next scan, in October, will be the decision maker. I'll probably stop Xeloda then and go on to a IV chemotherapy drug called Navelbine. I haven't had any trouble with Xeloda side effects at any rate.

Tuesday I go in to have a portacath surgically inserted to a vein on my chest to facilitate the weekly IVs. No more poking and prodding search and destroy every week. In the U.S., this procedure is an outpatient one, in and out in a few hours. Here they keep people overnight. The kids have a few things they can cook and eat and there is a large variety of inexpensive take-out food nearby so I know I can relax during my night away.

A few months ago one of the domestic phone/media companies was offering 1,000 yen gift cards to people who responded to a survey. Women in an online group here requested that their gift card amount be offered as a contribution to help me with my medical costs. Last week 52,000 yen was sent to my account. I was awed by the support and am very thankful to know these women, some in person, most only in cyberspace.


A Nine Year Old

L made a Monster Cake for his birthday. It was actually banana chocolate chip bread, baked in the stainless steel mixing bowl per his instructions to achieve the pot-belly he needed. It was good enough that it didn't need frosting or whipped cream so he used sweet straight pretzels (Pocky Brand) to stick it all together. Friends from downstairs came over and were duly impressed by the obviously home-made cake.

We celebrated the birthday a day early by going to see the new Miyazaki animation "Ponyo" on Tuesday evening. Cute and simple movie with a catchy tune. "Alright already! Stop singing it over and over again!"