Chemo Curls

Yes, there is a name for that. Those of you who know me personally know that prior to my cancer diagnosis I had curly hair. I had curly hair because about every four months or so I paid a stylist for a perm. I had been doing that for probably thirty years or so because my hair in it’s natural state was very fine, lacking body and wouldn’t hold any kind of curl or style. I’d spend an hour with a curling iron and walk out the door and that would be all she wrote. Not totally straight but almost.

About two weeks after chemo began the end of March 2016 my hair began falling out. I asked that same stylist to shave my head rather than wait for it to happen naturally… or unnaturally as the case was. If you haven’t read that post you can find it here: https://mishaimelda.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/i-am-not-my-hair/

I had been going grey gracefully but in December 2015 I needed a change and dyed my hair. Here is what it looked like then:

DSCN5582

Once I was bald I began wearing a series of head scarves and wigs. I wasn’t comfortable going out with my bare head because even around my apartment I found that it was just too cold.

DSCN5877

DSCN5842

Yes, the photo below is a wig. It’s my free wig from the American Cancer Society. I really, really like the color.

DSCN5935

So you can imagine my delight when chemo finished on August 29, 2016 and my hair started growing in curly. Painfully slow but curly. Even by the end of March 2017 in Venice, Italy it was still way too short and impossible to style.

DSCN6956

But by mid May it was more what I liked. Now, at the beginning of July 2017 I have hair I love and I have actually been to the stylist twice for a trim.

DSCN7152

Checking to make sure I like the look.

DSCN7157

I don’t like to smile full on for photos because it makes my eyes crinkle up and look like I’m squinting. I did discover if I put the camera down lower it will cut off the top of my head. And, yes, I got the earrings in Venice.

When I was at the salon my stylist asked if this was going to last and I had no idea. So I Googled “curly hair after chemo” and discovered that it is indeed called Chemo Curls and from the message boards I read most people hate it. I love mine. Sadly, it will not last. It takes about a year or two for the last of the poison of the chemo to work its way out of the body and then your hair roots regenerate and it will grow back as it was before chemo. But for now I will enjoy my curls. My red curls.

And for an update….there is no change in my condition, the neuropathy has not improved and my appointment with the Cancer Rehabilitation Specialist was cancelled (was originally today) because he had to go out of town. They are supposed to call me back and reschedule. So that is my news from here. We are actually having summer with temps between the mid 70’s to 80. I have finally gotten all of the flowers planted for my patio and will have pictures for me next post. Because of the fatigue caused by the Cyberknife radiation I can only do a little bit at a time even when I’m sitting. That part will go away…eventually.

Posted in Aging gracefully, Beautiful Day, Cancer, Chemo, Chemo Curls, Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy, City of My Dreams, Cyberknife, fotografia, Hair, Photography, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

I fiori è il gatto

I’ve promised several friends an update from my last post and here it is. These photos were taken on my patio on a very rainy, record breaking rainfall day just last week. It was day long great big drops. Diavolo is in summer mode and spending most of his time outdoors but it was a patio day for him. If you’ll remember he was the community cat for many years before I adopted him so he is parking lot savvy and knows to stay away from the raccoons.

DSCN7122

Since we last spoke I met with a pain specialist and had a nerve block injection. I chose to do it with only a local anesthetic because the heavier one would have kept me from driving for 24 hours which I could not do. It was a very uncomfortable procedure and the effects although immediate lasted less than 24 hours. I will not be repeating that. I did meet with the Palliative care doctor and she put me on a new medication for my neuropathy. It’s a cocktail and helps with a lot of things. The effect on the neuropathy can take a month or more to happen so nothing to report on that front.

Would you get this string out of my face?

Would you get this string out of my face? I did take scissors to the string.

She did refer me to another doctor who specializes in Cancer Rehabilitation. I see him for an assessment on July 11. He’s booked out that far because he is the only one in the area who does this kind of treatment. We will see if he feels that physical therapy can help with my walking.

DSCN7128

I had my Cyberknife on the active tumor from June 1st thru the 7th. It did help with the hip and leg pain I have been having so I only need two to three pain pills per day instead of two every four hours. This is a good thing. One of the Cyberknife techs told me I look fabulous. I thanked him and said it was too bad I didn’t feel as good as I looked. After all, my hair has grown back curly (no more perms needed), I dyed it red and have lost 60 pounds so I do look different than when he had last seen me. Next post I’ll have a picture of me with my current hair.

DSCN7130

No, they haven’t told me I don’t have cancer. They can’t do that yet. They have treated the cancer but the effects are not instant. I will have a new PET scan in October unless I have a reason to have one sooner. They won’t tell me it’s gone until there is “no evidence of disease” for five years. It’s a very long process.

At this time I’ve decided not to make plans for any travels until I’m well….as in I can walk properly without pain and have my stamina built back up. But I have lots of travel pics I haven’t shared and some old favorites too. So plenty for future posts.

Here’s Diavolo in his favorite chair on the “catio”. Note the new cushions. They all match now.

DSCN7147

 

Posted in Cancer, Cats, Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy, Cyberknife, Diavolo, flowers, Hair, Home, me, Photography, Radiation Therapy, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

At last…Spring 2017

Yes, at last Spring, which has been a long time coming to the Pacific Northwest, is showing more signs of its arrival. I’ve been watching the rhododendron hedge along the walkway between my apartment and the pool. It’s had buds for a while now but opening has been slow. According to the local news sources we have had the wettest rainy season (starting in October 2016) in Seattle history. From October 1, 2016 to March 1, 2017 we had received 38.22 inches of rain. That’s a lot of water. And we’ve had quite a bit since the first of March.

DSCN7099DSCN7101 I took these photos last Thursday, May 4th, I think.  Several hours later around 4 pm we had a major storm with thunder and lightning. We don’t usually get thunderstorms here so it was quite an event that did a lot of damage just to the south of where I am. I was lucky and didn’t loose power although it did blink off and back on for about a minute.

After it was over I caught this view of the sky.

DSCN7104

Earlier this week it had been a little warmer and the rhododendrons had made a little progress.

DSCN7106

 

And here they are today in all of their glory.

DSCN7108

 

Sort of makes it look like I live in a woodland glade but that car parked in the lower right corner is a giveaway.

I manage to catch a couple of shots of a very, very brave squirrel…Diavolo was watching from the patio and would have had a snack if he had been interested. I’ve tried before to get a picture of this one. He/she comes on my patio and buries peanuts in my flower pots. When I go out to plant or dig my grey friend watches from the lawn. If I dig up a peanut I either put it back or toss it out into the lawn near its owner.

DSCN7110DSCN7111

As many of you know I’ve had a bit of a health set back that began a week after I was back from Venice. I won’t go into major detail but a PET scan showed that I still have an active area in a tumor (yes, that means I still have cancer) that was previously treated and I’m in the process of setting up more Cyberknife appointments. Please do not ask for more information. It’s really hard for me to constantly answer questions about how I’m doing, what I do all day, etc. Thinking and talking about what I can and can’t (mostly can’t ) do makes me sad. I don’t like being sad. That doesn’t mean I have my head in the sand, it means I don’t dwell on my disabilities. Just remember that your friend is and has been seriously ill with cancer, its treatments and the side effects( mostly those pesky side effects) of those treatments for over a year now. When there are improvements I will let you know. Oh, and please, I’m not dying so save the sympathy. Your good wishes and prayers are appreciated. If I need anything else I will ask. I have been referred to a doctor who is a specialist in Palliative care to help with my peripheral neuropathy that was caused by last year’s chemo and has not improved in the least. I’m hoping for some relief there.   Again, I will share with you what I feel like sharing….things like books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen (I love Netflix old school on DVD). Speaking of movies I just saw “A Street Cat Named Bob” based on the book of the same name which is a true story. Also true is the fact that Bob the cat developed such a great rapport with the actor who plays James that he (Bob) plays himself in the movie….no stand in cats. Even if you aren’t a cat person the story is great.  According to Netflix they just mailed me “Hidden Figures” today…also a true story. 

Posted in Cancer, Cats, Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy, Cyberknife, Diavolo, flowers, fotografia, friends, Gardens, Photography | 16 Comments

Final farewell

April 1, 2017, the city of my dreams put on a wonderful show to wish me a final farewell. I don’t usually use my camera for photos but this worked fairly well. I’m just going to show you all of them. 

IMG_20170401_071000

IMG_20170401_071004IMG_20170401_071018IMG_20170401_071715IMG_20170401_071719IMG_20170401_071740IMG_20170401_071741IMG_20170401_071744IMG_20170401_071750IMG_20170401_071753

I arrived back here at home April 1 at 4:30 pm Seattle time. That would be 1:30 am on April 2 in Venice. Yes, Diavolo was glad to see me and when he realized it was really me he just could not stop purring. As I write this it is now Sunday morning and he finally decided it was okay to go outside because I wasn’t going anywhere for a while.

For those of you who want to see all 945 photos in my album Venezia: My Spiritual Journey here is the link: 

https://goo.gl/photos/GPcb7h37QaGaXqZGA

The slide show at a speed of 2 seconds takes about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Posted in Beautiful Day, City of My Dreams, Farewells, fotografia, friends, Golden hour, Home, Memories, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Arrivederci, Venezia

The evening of March 31, Max and I planned to meet for dinner at La Calcina where we have dinner reservations at 7:30.

DSCN7074

I’m early and I’m waiting in that lovely room.

DSCN7076

This man will be our waiter.

DSCN7078

I zoomed in on the table setting in the next room.

DSCN7084

It helps to have reservations as we were ushered to a corner table by the window.

DSCN7085

Max ordered a Caesar salad and I ordered this salad which was artichokes from the nearby island of Sant’Erasmo which is known for it’s market gardens. The artichokes are topped with shavings of parmigiano reggiano. They called the red berries “ribes” and I researched and they are related to currants and gooseberries.

DSCN7086

I also had pasta busara this time with salmon.

DSCN7087

The view from the window was extremely distracting being it was my last night in the city of my dreams.

DSCN7088DSCN7090DSCN7091

We finished our meal with dessert…sorry, no pictures. He ordered strawberries and cream and I had gelato…limone.

As we walked to the vaporetto the new moon was hovering over the Molino Stucky complex.

DSCN7096

Posted in City of My Dreams, Farewells, food, fotografia, friends, Gelato, Memories, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Sitting in the sun and paying too much for cappuccino….again

March 30, 2017 is an anniversary for me. It is exactly one year since I began chemotherapy to treat a recurrence of pelvic cancer. The day does need a special commemoration and it began with “brunch” at Grancaffè Quadri in Piazza San Marco. You may remember that I spent some time and too much for cappuccino at this same cafè back in December 2013. The prices have gone up since then.

DSCN6972

We were lucky the orchestra at Quadri was not playing. So no extra cover charge. Cappuccino, a croissant with pistachio cream and a bottle of passion fruit nectar (imported from France). 

DSCN6975DSCN6976

Max prefers his coffee not quite so strong and has an Americano (espresso served with water so he can dilute it as much or as little as he likes) and a croissant with apricot jam.

DSCN6977

Our waiter may be concerned that it’s a sunny day and 11 am and they aren’t very busy.

DSCN6979DSCN6982

Our orchestra was not playing but the one at the cafe next door was and they played my favorite opera aria “Il mio babbino caro” by Puccini.

DSCN6984

My hair is even redder in the sun.

DSCN6986

Max had scheduled a guided tour of the Basilica. I chose not to go because I tend not to like most tours and knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up anyway. So wandered towards  the other end of the Piazza. I found the Olivetti Museum. Yes, a museum dedicated to typewriters. I knew there were stairs so chose not to go in. Maybe next visit because I’ve read it’s not just the typewriters on display  but the architecture.

DSCN6987DSCN6990DSCN6991

Florian’s orchestra was playing “Fly Me to the Moon” when I strolled by.

DSCN6993

And in the Piazzetta they were playing “The Girl from Ipanema” 

DSCN6995

The poor lion of San Marco gets no respect from the birds.

DSCN6996

The gate to the Giardinetti on my way to the vaporetto to Accademia.

DSCN7000

I realized that I haven’t shown a good picture of a vaporetto. This is one of the boats that are water buses, the public transportation in Venice. They have other styles but this one is the easiest for me to board and many of them have outside seating. That’s the back end closest to you.

DSCN7001DSCN7003DSCN7004

The view of Peggy’s place from the Grand Canal.

DSCN7005

Mosaics on a palazzo.

DSCN7007DSCN7008

Approaching the Accademia Bridge.

DSCN7009

And spring has definitely arrived as I make the walk from Sacca Fisola to my apartment.

DSCN7011DSCN7013DSCN7015DSCN7016DSCN7017DSCN7018

This is the courtyard where the lovely tortoiseshell cat lives. I haven’t seen her again but she has a lovely home, if you look closely you can see the house they have made for her against the back wall in the second picture. 

DSCN7023DSCN7024

Since you have seen the post about Trattoria Da Jonny you know how we spent the evening. March 31 will be my last full day in my beloved Venezia. I do have housekeeping and packing to do and that is how I will spend my day on Friday. But dinner at La Calcina awaits.

Posted in Beautiful Day, Birds, Bridges, Cancer, Cappuccino, Cats, Chemo, City of My Dreams, food, fotografia, friends, me, Palazzo, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Trattoria da Jonny

Last evening, March 30, I had promised Max a back calle tour of my old Castello neighborhood on the way to dinner. We met at our usual Zattere vaporetto stop, walked through to Accademia and caught the No. 1 to Arsenale which was my home stop my previous two visits to my beloved Venezia. We wandered along through the Sotoportego dei Preti. According to Lonely Planet:

Under the arch of the covered passageway Sotoportego dei Preti is hidden a reddish, heart-shaped stone about the size of a hand. Local lore has it that couples that touch it together will remain in love forever. Not ready to commit just yet? This is also a nice private spot for a smooch.

They must be joking! This is a very well traveled passageway for locals and not at all private. On to Calle de l’Arco, across the bridge and left on Calle Dei Scudi. Follow this to Ponte dei Scudi (the bridge of shields) my previous apartment is just to the right before the bridge. Pause to enjoy the views and the voices of the families echoing from the open windows. Cross the bridge and on the left is….Trattoria da Jonny. He wasn’t there when I stayed in the neighborhood….it was a vacant building for sale. But  now….

DSCN7030

We were early…probably about 6:45 pm but Jonny welcomed us as though we were old friends. When I mentioned my friends Karen and Mike we were family. That’s Gio Gio one of our waiters back at the bar.

DSCN7029

Yes, there is no one else there because it’s early for Italians for dinner.

We were provided with a basket of bread while we perused the menu. And the “coperto” was only E 2 per person. A coperto is not a tax…it is meant to cover the cost of the bread and the table setting (cover).

DSCN7028

It was hard not to fill up on bread but I had suggestions about what to order. I got a bottle of l’acqua frizzante (sparking water) and Max had Venetian beer.

DSCN7031

Karen had recommended the octopus (tentacoli on the menu) appetizer and Max ordered that. Sorry the picture is a little fuzzy. It is served on a bed of smoky mashed potatoes.

DSCN7032

I order gamberi in saor (prawns with red onions, pumpkin, raisins and pine nuts) on polenta. There are some good sized prawns under those onions. The waiter teased me because I ate everything and even nibbled on the chive. I said maybe I should lick the plate. He laughed and said it would save doing the dishes.

DSCN7033

For my main course I just had the “primi piatti” of paparadelle con ragu di cinghiale. A pasta with wild boar sauce.

DSCN7034

Max had the tuna with seasonal vegetables.

DSCN7035

We were both saving room for dessert because Karen had told me the chocolate cake was to “die for”. She was so right. Torta ciccolata con cuore morbido e salsa alla vaniglia. That is chocolate cake with a soft heart and vanilla sauce. I’m showing you two views:

DSCN7037

DSCN7038

Max chose torta di mele (apple cake)

DSCN7039

As we were finishing our meal (around 9 pm) the place was beginning to fill up with …Venetians. We were the only non natives in the room. I must say our Italian teacher Josefina would be proud because the waiters complimented us on our Italian pronunciation. I had asked them to correct us. Behind the bar is Gio Gio, one of our waiters. I’m sorry I didn’t get a better picture of him.

DSCN7041

Here is Max’s reaction when they brought two complimentary glasses of limoncello.

DSCN7042

They knew I don’t drink alcohol but said it was so we could clink glasses and say “cin, cin”. We lingered and he managed to take care of both glasses….hard work but someone had to do it.

This sign on the wall really says it all:

DSCN7044

English translation: By Jonny, the chef of your dreams. I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Here I am with Jonny and one of the waiters whose name I did not catch. Jonny hugging me.

DSCN7045

So, my friends who are in Venice or planning a trip there….it is well worth finding your way to this wonderful trattoria in Castello. I told Jonny it was the best meal I’d had in Venice. More thinking and I realized it may be the best meal I have ever had. Really! I’m just sorry I’m leaving Saturday (for many reasons) and that I won’t have time to go back. Ah, next time…for there will be a next time and I hope to be staying just right across the bridge.

Here are some night views and reflections as we wandered back to the vaporetto and our apartments.

DSCN7049DSCN7052DSCN7053DSCN7058

The new moon over Piazza San Marco taken from the vaporetto.DSCN7061

DSCN7064DSCN7068

I will have two more posts for you of my beloved Venezia….breakfast yesterday morning in the Piazza and dinner tonight but they will have to wait for a bit. I need to spend my day making sure I can get everything in my suitcase and doing some final clean up here (dishes and take out the trash) then dinner at La Calcina tonight. Came close to cancelling the reservations and going back to Da Jonny but getting in there on a Friday night is unlikely. Hmm, we are family now. Nope, not going to do it.

I am sad to be leaving my beloved early tomorrow morning but also happy to be returning to the paws of my Diavolo. I have missed him so much. Not enough cats in this neighborhood and even if there were they are no substitute for your own fur buddy.

Arrivederci, Venezia! Ritornerò!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Beautiful Day, Bridges, City of My Dreams, Farewells, food, fotografia, friends, Home, House cleaning, Italian Lesson, learning Italian, Life is good, me, Memories, Moon, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments