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New and Adapted

This August will mark twenty years that we’ve lived in Chelsea among the woods and gardens of “Glenharris”. And the mosquitos of the twilight hours. This is also how long it’s taken us to get a screened gazebo for the back deck to allow us to linger outdoors over dinner in the lovely summer months. Decision made last week, it was astonishing that it took only one day for purchase, delivery and installation thanks to an entrepreneurial employee at the local Canadian Tire store. And time on the second day for Angie, with me as her dutiful helper, to implement logical modifications to the rails for the netting – accomplished with one arm, a step ladder and a ratchet set. The ‘can do’ spirit lives on.

Another revelation after our twenty years here when we’ve been so frustrated by the lack of public transportation, has been to learn from our social worker that rural transportation (with payment of a set stipend to a driver) is available for people who are unable to drive and need to get to various kinds of appointments. Who knew? This has created a whole new level of mobility for Angie just as enhancing mobility is her theme. She is making slow but steady progress, adding various implements of torture to her kitset including stretch bands, massage balls and silicone ‘cups’ to loosen adhesions and scar tissue. She will be getting fitted for a JAS system this week – a form of traction to stretch her arm and shoulder. – which she’ll use for the next couple of months three times a day for thirty minutes.

My new things are a mixed bag. I’ve completed Phase I of chemotherapy. Chemo IV went off without a hitch three weeks ago. Good blood counts. Without doubt there are cumulating effects. I tire easily and have limited stamina. The PICC line has settled down and is a great help if inconvenient at times. Generally, I am in generally good form with good appetite. Tuesday, I start Phase II and a new regimen with the drug Taxol. I will get this weekly for 12 weeks. The side-effect menu is different – including significant fatigue, neuropathy in hands and feet (numbness and tingling), and nail peeling. Many people find it much milder than the first regimen so I am hoping that I’ll be able to tolerate it well.

I have a strategy for the neuropathy which includes L-Glutamine after each chemo and following some guidelines that recommend keeping pressure off my hands and feet. [Note: Sadly it didn't seem to work very well as I did develop neuropathy.] Apparently it is doctor’s orders to sit with my feet up as much as possible. The cat will be pleased. I’ve been preparing for the nail issue by using a nail-strengthening polish for a few months now. But starting Taxol will up the ante. One recommended strategy is to apply a dark-coloured nail polish to block ultra violet. Accordingly, this afternoon I made my first effort to do so. I couldn’t bring myself to try anything darker than a dusky rose. It turns out, however, that I am not good at this task and neither is Angie. Who knew it was so tricky? I’ve now also made my first appointment to have nail polish applied this Friday!

I feel like I am in a bit of a holding pattern. The chemo seems unending and intensifying although it will be over in a flash. It’s been hard not getting more concrete medical updates while I’m in the midst of the process. But it’s a matter of staying the course. Depending on how the Taxol affects me, one positive of being in a bit of a pattern is the glimmer of hope that a little of my intellectual energy may be returning. That said, I’ve not been reading much in the last few weeks so have no new book reports to share.

One thing that has given me a lot of pleasure has been figuring out how to keep golf as part of my life once in a while.

Mini-golf at

Dunn-D’s (next to the Dunderosa Golf Course in Chelsea) has been a tonic and unalloyed fun. Even if I have been losing to Angie and our friend Janice.

In terms of golf-golf, I went down to Rivermead Club to spend some time on the putting green. But I felt a yearning to be a bit more social and to be back on the course. The adaptation has been to try out being a caddy, albeit one who can’t lift a golf bag, push a cart or rake out sand traps. It’s also been really enjoyable to do this a couple of times now and figure out how much exertion of I can manage. There’s been one ironic benefit here -- I can honestly say as I cross the bridge to the green on the 18th hole that I’ve had a really relaxing round of golf. No missed putts. No balls in the woods.

I am also still walking and still drinking broth. No call after today’s blood work is a good sign that my blood counts are okay for chemo tomorrow.

I’ll be in touch again soon. Meanwhile, thanks for sending your love and thoughts. Your ongoing support, visits, calls, emails sustain us as we navigate these waters. We’re also aware that your lives are also full – we send our love to you too.

With love,

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