Monthly Archives: September 2012

Not High Enough Today

[Oops – sorry if you just received a notice of a posting that wasn’t actually there. I was using some different software to load the image and I didn’t believe what was written on the button I decided to press!]

Anyhoo … here is a quick update just so you know the sort of thing that can happen from time to time if you or someone you know has to go through all this.

Blood Test

At the BCCA chemo is not administered if your blood counts are too low (reflective of the state of the bone marrow):
Platelets must be >100 (normal: 150 – 400)
Neutrophils must be >1.50 (normal: 2.0 – 8.0)

Turns out the reason I have been feeling so tired and lousy recently is that my platelet and, more importantly, neutrophil levels are still way down (99 and 0.9 respectively) and have not recovered from last week’s treatment. Fearing I had been over-doing things I asked what I could do to improve these numbers, which reflect the state of the bone marrow. The nurse said “Nothing”. Of course, I’ve been trying to eat well and will pile on even more protein and colorful and green leafy vegetables!

In any event, my chemo was cancelled today – in part because aside from low blood levels I feel I am “getting something”, although that might just be related to the struggling bone marrow. I am three quarters of the way through the whole treatment plan and the effects are cumulative.

Will make up the missed treatment next Friday, then have a week off and start Cycle 6 on October 19, I hope.

Met Opera Rheingold
Alex brought me home again, where I sat in front of boring daytime TV, reading the paper and doing nothing. Finally found that I had taped a documentary on the recent Met Opera Ring Cycle – phew!

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend! We shall be seeing my parents installed in their new place in Port Moody, on the outskirts of Vancouver – it will be good to have them on the mainland again.

Henna Hat and Update

Hello everyone …

Henna Hat
A couple of weeks ago Alex and two other friends separately suggested I get a henna tattoo done on my head (thanks Lynne and Lorie). Alex was leery of a complete “henna hat” and thought I should have a small saying inscribed at the back of the head. I decided to go with the full Monty and the pictures below show how it turned out (click for larger images).

The concept is based on the mehndi designs of the South Asian community and I went to the Little India section of Vancouver to get it done. Traditional patterns include floral and decorative abstract designs. It was a little thoughtless of me to wear a white, collared shirt that day! The process involves free-form painting on the scalp, using small tubes of henna, which goes on very dark and dries over a few hours. Of course, you can’t touch your head over this time, which is surprisingly difficult if you drive a car or wear glasses (you can see how tight the design is to my glasses)! When it has fully dried you rub off the hardened bits to reveal the design, which darkens over the first couple of days. With the right care the whole thing can last two to three weeks.

I was pretty pleased and wished I had thought of it sooner. I’ve had many compliments on it and as many men as women ask questions. Men are particularly interested in it if they naturally have little or no hair. Bald is beautiful these days but clearly there is an interest in mixing it up a bit. The “do” was also met with great interest at the Cancer Agency, where very few women bare their heads. I think this would be a fun service for both men and women going through the treatments.

Not sure what can be done about the eyelashes – of which I now have only five on each eye!

Health Update
I only have three treatments left to go now, but the rubber is finally hitting the road and I have been extremely fatigued between recent chemos. The bone marrow is getting hit harder with each treatment and taking longer to recover. This leads to the fatigue and being quite short of breath because not enough oxygen is getting into the blood. Other side effects that are causing some nuisance include being cold most of the time (another bone marrow side effect), not being able to taste things properly, sore gums and very sore feet. The gums are a function of the chemo affecting fast-growing cells and the foot problems are symptoms of nerve damage caused by the Taxol chemo I am receiving. These should all end a few months after the treatments stop (October 19).

Having said that, I’ve been doing quite well otherwise and Alex and I were able to go to the wedding of friends on Vancouver Island this past weekend. The weather has continued to be lovely for the last two months and we had only one very short shower last Friday. The sun has been shining and the days are still pleasantly warm. It is always nice to take these short breaks and the ferry ride to Vancouver Island makes it feel like you are really going away on a holiday, reminding me of the Hull/Rotterdam ferry to Europe as a child.

I recently finished Just My Type, a very interesting and illuminating book on fonts: history, creators, uses, best, worst, etc. A very easy read, with visual examples of almost all the fonts discussed.

I’ve been interested in this subject since my parents were publishers in the 1960’s and we had lots of technical and design documents lying around the office. Their business spanned a time of enormous changes in the world of printing, moving from hot metal to computers. My parents installed the very first computer typesetting in Scotland – a venture frustrated by the unions of the time, to the point where they sold the printing arm of the business and kept the publishing side. One of their weekly classified advertising publications was still in existence 40 years later, but appears to have recently bitten the dust just as most print advertising has.

I will post again in a couple of weeks, as I come to the end of the chemo. Whoo hoo!