The last Chemo session was followed by Neulasta and its effects. We took another week off to go to Montreal. No fuss from anyone. Live your life being our latest motto. And live we will.

Fetneh organised a lunch with a bunch of friends. I mentioned this before. We rented the Quartier Perse owned and operated by Mahin and her husband Siamack. They are friends of ours. Mahin barred Fetneh from making any decisions regarding the food.

We flew Porter from the Toronto island. What a Godsend that is. 15 minutes cab ride from our house is a small airport catering to short hauls. In this case Montreal. The Porter staff are very friendly and look after really well. We landed in Montreal and arrived at our apartment (courtesy Steve Mykolyn) at 3PM. This is more of a corporate apartment. Very sparse with the minimum amount of perks. Except for the abundance of magazines like Dwell, one of my all time favourites.

Fetneh joined us and I went to bed soon after she arrived.

This was very confusing. The flight was short and not tiring at all. Yet here I was exhausted and yearning fro a lie down. Janet and Fetneh went out for hamburgers which they brought back with them I was not hungry. Kept sleeping, waking up occasionally to the sound of the ladies enjoying their delectable dinner. Interrupted sleep is not an issue. My sleep is constantly interrupted by concerns of the colostomy bag coming off. I wake up regularly to check and make sure all is well. Waking up to the sound of people enjoying a meal is a whole other matter.

I was tired again on Friday. We went shopping int the morning. Had a cup of coffee and lousy apple turnover at this small coffee shop. Janet wanted to go to Simmons. Not sure why they do not open a store in Toronto. They would make a killing. Maybe Toronto is not fashionable enough for them.

I got tired very quickly. The nature of my fatigue appears to be changing. I cannot describe it very well. I seem to have energy until the batteries run out. I collapse and sleep off the fatigue only to start the process over again. Not much fun, and difficult to predict when the batteries are about to run out. I should talk with the Energizer people about this. I wanted to show Janet some stuff. No energy. I went down to the food court and sat down to see if that would help. It didn’t. I was not sure is If was noxious, or just tired. Was it fatigue or more than that. What more could there be. Janet wanted details which I could not supply. Working through the feelings.

I walked back to our apartment. Walking is often good for working things through the system. They would make us walk in the hospital. We had to walk three or four times a day. That was almost the first question the nurse would ask you. They made me walk a couple of days after surgery. I am not sure why walking has the effect it does. I often find myself burping a lot as the gases make their way out of your system. The stomach sometimes comes alive, which is a good thing. Walking is good. the walk back to the apartment was not long, just long enough. I slept until Janet came back. Still stayed in bed to rest for the evening.

We had dinner on Friday night with a few of our friends. Some of them would not be able to make it on Sunday afternoon. They wanted to see me, make sure I was OK. Don’t trust my entries in the blog. They want to hear it from me, see my face, make sure I am not lying. These are old time friends, since we first came to Canada some 42 years ago. We had a great time. Went to Chez Gauthier which has seen better days. The food was terrible, service went along with the food quality. No sense in rocking the boat. We were served an hour late. My brother went to see if he could speed things up to no avail. I went up to our waiter and told him flat out that I had cancer and needed to eat right away. Past my lack of food tolerance. Play the cards you have. They served our food within ten minutes, though I doubt it had to do with anything I said.

The company made up for the lack of quality elsewhere.

We spent Saturday having lunch with Ignacio at the very wonderful Hotel Saint Sulpice in Old Montreal Highly recommended. Good food and great service. I had a lobster club sandwich. Did not know club sandwiches came with lobster. On the other hand, why should they not? I have a soft spot for club sandwiches. Toasted brown bread, lots of mayonnaise, and more of it on the side. Mouth watering.

Fo’ad came by the apartment for a visit while I rested. Janet went, you guessed it, shopping. I rested and talked with my brother and eventually went to sleep. We had dinner at martin’s house. Great company and wonderful food made for a great evening. My main regret in all these things is that I have to leave early. Seems like I am cutting things short.

Brunch on Sunday at Fetneh’s apartment. Lunch at Mahin’s.

Fetneh tells me 56 people showed up, a lot of whom I do not know. A bit ironic that a lunch thrown in my honour attracted a bunch of people I do not know, who did not introduce themselves to me. It did not bother me any. Interesting to see all those friends and relatives. Interesting to see so many children. The next generation.

Mahin is an amazing cook. The food, all Persian was astounding. White rice, green rice, rice with fava beens, sour cherry rice (my mothers favourite). All of it complemented by kebab. Mouth watering, melt in your mouth, delicious Iranian kebab. I ate lots. No repercussions.

I sat outside and let people find me. I spent a lot of time talking with Barb Puky and her husband. Nushin and Mehran graced me with their time. Funny thing about friends of long standing. You do not need to get to know each other. You pick up where you left off. No conversation is taboo. We have gone through too much in our history to let small things get in the way.

Barb Puky has been friends with us since University. She was in the same dorm as Janet.

Nushin is related our family through one of my great uncles. My grandfather had two wives. The second after the first passed away. Nushin in related to us through this first marriage.

Mehran’s parents were friends with my parents. That is going back a long ways. Makes for easy conversations and a very relaxed afternoon.

The end of the afternoon was more emotional than the beginning. I had expected it to be the other way around. I was caught off guard. I did not cry when I met everyone. I did cry when we left. Everyone in Montreal has been very supportive. I cannot thank them enough.

Fetneh works for a lady called Hong Lan. The best description I have of her is that she is a Traditional Chinese Medicine Naturopath. Hong Lan asked to meet with me to discuss my situation. She appears impressed with the progress we have made and would like to contribute. I cannot tell you what we talked about. The conversation went on for over two hours including a deep breathing exercise. I was and still am overwhelmed by the amount of information she parted with. I will be back in Montreal in September for a second conversation.

I think that is all for now.

I have received comments on this blog, personal comments, and comments through eMail about my post in which I talked about crying.

Let me clarify my thoughts. I have never viewed crying as a weakness. I cry with the best of them. The issue is that we, cancer patients, seem to cry a lot. I have written about this before. I have come to the conclusion that we cry because we are not feeling well. The weakness is not in the act of crying. but that the tears reflect the weakness of the moment.

We do not feel sorry for ourselves, or feel mistreated by the Gods, just that we do not have the strength to feel good and therefore cry. It is a sign of our health, and a good one at that. There are times that I feel that I am doing OK. Someone hugs me and tears fill my eyes. A sure indication that things are not going as well as I thought they were.

I hope this clarifies things a bit, and does not add to the confusion.

As always, thanks for the comments, keep them coming regardless of the venue.

The full import of the situation is slowly settling in. Hard to avoid the issue now that you have a shit-bag connected to your stomach. The word useless asshole has taken on a whole new meaning. A colostomy bag is front and centre on my stomach, a sure sign of a changed way of life.

I also have a neat row of staples going down my stomach. 38 of them to be exact. Dr. Kennedy did a great job with those. Once all the tubes, staples, pipes and stuff are removed, you are left with the bag.

Janet bought a Queen CD with We Are The Champions so I could listen to it. Diana lent me a bunch of CDs to while away the hours. Nancy lent me a relaxation CD, courtesy of Jacquie. Marina got me one of those pathetic Word Search books. I have magazines and books. Lots to keep me busy. The only things I could do with ease was the relaxation CD, and the Word Search book.

I could think as the grogginess started to ease up. I could talk, mostly with Janet. And I could cry, which I did a lot. I cried when I first listened to the Queen CD. Uncontrollable. Trying to figure out why I am crying so much. Yeah, yeah, I would not be normal if I did not cry. But that is not the point. Life has changed dramatically, possibly for the worse, but why the abundance of tears? I do not feel sorry for myself. No wallowing in self pity here. Waste of time. Serves no purpose.

I do not fear death. Baha’is believe in life after death. There is continuity. No idea what form it takes, or where or whatever. None of that is important. Just that death is not the end of life. The soul carries on to the next phase. A bit like the birth of a child moving from the world of the womb to this one. And so we move from this womb to the next life.

This lack of fear removes a huge psychological problem from the equation. And change does not scare me. We have moved and changed our lives way too often for me to be scared of change. Of course, this is change on a grander scale than any I have experienced. But I am not alone in going through this. Janet and Devin are there, and as it turns out, so are a WHOLE bunch of friends and relatives in totally unexpected ways. And yet, I do feel alone a lot.

I tell people about the bag, and no one quite understands. How could they? What a concept. A bag attached to your stomach through which you go to the bathroom. You can hear the doubt in people’s voices when you talk about it. So I tend to show the bag just so everyone has a fair idea of what we are talking about. In the great scheme of things, the bag is becoming a minor issue specially in context of the bigger picture of everything else that is going on.

And yet, the tears keep coming. When people are kind. When I look at the home videos my nieces sent me. When a phone call is received from a friend out of the blue. I go through days of extreme sensitivity where the tears are closer to the surface, and other days, when they seem to be more controllable.

Janet and I had long discussions while in hospital about all this. Where is life taking us? What happens now? How much time will be spent on treatments? What does the new life look like? So many more questions. Questions, and more questions. Very few answers.

The lack of clear answers adds to the difficulty of coping with everything. We have a clear direction about where the chemo is going. Starts probably next Thursday and will last for whatever length of time is required. No end point. And that is OK. What is not OK is not knowing how the body will react. Nausea and diarrhea are a given. Or not. As is the loss of hair. My sister tells me all body hair is lost. The first reaction is contemplating the loss of hair on the head. Not such a traumatic event where men are concerned. But then you have to consider the rest of the body hair, the ones on the back, legs and arms. That becomes a little more troubling, but not too much. My sister tells me to be prepared for finding hair on the bed when you wake up.

The hair is not a big deal. I might even have a head shaving party, and invite my bald friends. My hair will grow back at the end of it all. So no worries there. What is more troubling is the body’s reaction to everything else. The weakening of the immune system, the same immune system that has saved me so many times during this whole process. The one that makes people believe I am so strong. It will get weakened and exposes you to all sorts of things. Cannot shave with a razor in case I cut myself. Or be exposed to people with a cold. What about H1N1 which has not troubled me at all. It suddenly becomes an issue. Do I walk around with a mask? Or have a mask in the house?

The oncologist said we would take a breather from chemo at some point next year. I think that might be a good time for us to go somewhere like Cuba and just absorb the sun, recharge the batteries.

This has been a bit of a rant. There will be more. Bear with me.

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha