We ended back in emergency on Saturday afternoon suffering from severe abdominal pain. These visits are now becoming part for the new normal. It is always interesting to me how accustomed we get to life’s changes. Visiting emergency rooms has always been one of those things you try to avoid. It is now just a part of life.

I am always seen to right away. The critical case that I am. The staff are generally very nice and attentive. They did blood work, blood cultures, chest X-Rays, stomach X-Rays and an EKG.

We were looked after by an amazing doctor, John Dean Jammal. A doctor and a human being. I am a very lucky man. He had read my chart. No questions were asked. He thought at first, that I may have a hernia in my stomach wall. He pushed and prodded which hurt me a lot. Then off to do all the tests.

The freakiest part of the afternoon was the nurse who came in to do the EKG. She had forgotten her glasses at home and was working anyways. The EKG is pretty simple stuff. Her next job was to take blood from an alternate source than the Port-a-Cath, in case the latter is part of the problem. She had to find a vein from which to draw blood. I had my eyes closed the whole time, because I was not feeling so well.  It only occurred to me afterwards, as she was extracting the needle that she had the procedure without her glasses. Yikes.

The results, when all was said and done are as follows. The lungs are as fine as they can be. The are cancer cells in there, but nothing else. Crystal clear. The doctor said if my lungs were the main issue, I would live for another 20 years. The liver on the other hand was a whole different ball game and the main cause of all the problems. The liver enzymes were out of whack with reality with some of the numbers tripling since the end of September. The liver was irritating the stomach and the lungs causing the shortness of breath and coughs that are plaguing my life right now.

I am also severely constipated and have been put on some commercial grade laxative. Big piece of poo just sitting there. I am also not drinking enough water. Drink more he says. The body will release whatever it does not need.

Like everyone else, he was terribly amused by our use of Tylenol 1 as pain medication. He suggested, and prescribed a drug called Dilauded. It is a variation of morphine more specifically Hydromophone. I am allowed to take 2mg of it twice a day. They gave me on the way out. I look at it as Percocet light. It pretty much dulls everything. A whole new lease on life. No pain. All organs dulled. The only side effect I have felt so far is drowsiness. I could sleep for days on it.  I am taking one pill a day to see me through the day. Works wonders.

The other side effect we are very concerned about is that I might become addicted to it. I might have to go cold turkey to wean me from it.

The doctor laughed at that possibility. For some reason, he thinks that is the least of my problems.

He also recommended we go on a trip. Just the two of us. He said if this is a case of lying around the house waiting to die, might as well lie around on a hot beach somewhere instead. We pack all the drugs we could possibly need, including something to take care of a chest infection in case it happens (not likely). We also have to be prepared to fly home if things turn sour. Purchase two one way tickets home.

The doctor does a lot of Medivac work and sees a lot of people who are very sick. He said, that looking at me walk and talk, the colour of my skin, and my general good health, I should have no problems going somewhere for a week. We are clearing the idea through Dr. Hedley this week.

We have moved our appointment with palliative to November 3. They are supposed to take over from Dr. Hedley. I will report more when I know more.

Finally, the big party is set for this Sunday at 3PM. Thank you to David Powell for generously providing his house for the occasion.

I cannot thank you all enough for all the support you have provided.

We went to Atlanta to visit my brother and the rest of the family. My niece Khandan, and her family came up from Louisiana. My Aunt, Iran Joon and Habib, came down from Vancouver. Ruja, Dariush, Gaby and her child came up from California. Along with the rest of the nieces, Shamsi, Shayda, Devin, my son, this brought the total of participants to 20. it was a full house.

Our family and Fetneh stayed in a hotel, the Courtyard Marriott. It was a motel, very quiet once we changed rooms away from the exit doors. Silly idea to get rooms next to the exit doors. Fo’ad lent us one of his cars. Janet calls his yard the Dukes of Hazard for the number of cars that constantly populate it. We forgot to put gas in it before returning it. I am sure he will not invite us back as a result.

It was a very difficult weekend. The grand nieces showed us some of the gymnastic moves. They are so flexible. It should not be legal. Specially not showing it off that way. I lay on the couch mostly and watched. Truly a beautiful sight.

No one knew quite what to say or how to behave, specially the first day we were there. Khandan appeared to be the hardest hit of all. We spent quite a bit of time holding hands. Not saying anything. There is nothing to say. Just sitting holding hands. More than enough love in that action. Her husband, Scott kept disparaging himself. That is usually my job, he kept beating me to the punch. What a hoot. He is a very nice man, full of life and totally devoted to his kids.

My grand nieces and nephew are home schooled. Not through any sense of political or feelings that barriers need to be broken. Khandan felt that sending her children to a school system that was rated second last in the U.S. would probably do them an injustice. Khandan, herself has grown as a result of the experience. She was not really equipped to do home schooling and had to learn the ropes as she did things. Reminds me a bit of the philosophy behind the Warldorf Schools that Devin attended. Very organic. Her efforts have paid off in spades. Thigh I am not sure she wants to paid in spades.

We ate lots and lots of rice. Green rice and fish on the first night, kebab on the second, and jeweled rice on the third. We also had a turkey on the third day just to add a sense of balance to the meal. I ate very little. The appetite is healthy, the stomach, not so much. I have had two bouts now of severe stomach cramps and averted a third one the other night. Small plate of rice for me. I had yogurt with my rice, which is not usually a good thing when you are susceptible to cramps. But I could not help indulging. Imagine, yogurt being considered as an indulgent.

Everyone left on Monday. Copious tears all around. Specially me. It is strange and disturbing to have to say goodbye to everyone. The English do not have the equivalent of Adios or Adieu, which is too bad. Good Speed just does not have the same effect. So Adios it is. My brother is coming up for a visit, so his was a good bye.

The trip was pretty uneventful. We requested wheelchairs everywhere we could. The systems in the U.S. and Canada handle things differently. The one in the U.S. works a lot better where all special assistance is handled by the airport and not the airlines. They have a speciually trained crew that comes and looks after you. Very efficient.

We went to New York, you will recall in August and ran onto the same issues we ran into this time around. The Air Canada staff process your tickets then make you sit in the lobby while you wait for an agent to look after you. They always seem to have three people ahead of you so you have to wait in the grand lobby that is Terminal 1. Nothing to do but sit.  We asked for a time frame on our trip to New York as to when we would be taken in. There was no rush they said, lots of time. Same story this time. It occurred to me that they did mind us sitting there till we had to board the plane.

Lots of time? For whom? I suggested to them that I would rather spend the time in the Air Canada Lounge than in the great ballroom. Busted. There was no comeback.  An Agent appeared within minutes to look after the elderly lady sitting behind me. We have a chair. Are you alone? Yes says the lady. Well you will have to hire a porter to take your suitcase because I am not taking it, says the agent. I am not compensated in case of injury. But the suitcase has wheels. Nothing doing. Hire a porter or think of something else. The agent was quite rough and very rude. There was no room to bargain. There was also some question as to whether the porter could go through security, which meant she was on her own past that point. She decided to walk. Upset to say the least. Gives the words Special Assistance a whole new meaning.

Our turn next. Same agent. Same rudeness. Wrong target. She asked how I was. I am in a wheelchair, I said, how do you expect me to be. You don’t have to be rude about it she says. I lowered the foot supports before getting into the chair which sent her into a tail spin. I must not do that because I might trip over them. Oh my God! I exclaim. She decided that she will get another agent to look after me if I am going to use that uppity voice. Go, baby, go. get another agent. Could not possibly be worse than you. The second agent was truly wonderful. I regret not getting her name to send in a commendation.

No troubles in security. The U.S. customs agent did not even ask me about Iran. A first in 42 years of travels back and forth. No questions, no opening of bags to check the camera. Go on in, have a nice trip.

Janet and I spent a bit of time in the lounge. We ate and drank, then made our way to the gate to join Fetneh.

The trip back was the same. Uneventful. No questions, have a nice trip. See you later. Except for one incident. We were being cleared to go through security. They have a gate at which they check your passport and boarding pass so the security people do not have to do it. I got into a discussion about my imminent demise with the guy. A refrain I have heard often came up. People do not decide when they die, God does. I suggested that God has had his say and I am probably in line waiting my turn. Your are pessimistic, he said. You never know. I will pray for you through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Janet does not have any time for any of this stuff. I, on the other hand, relish every second of it. One of the tenets of Christianity is the belief that a goal of life is to die and attain the Kingdom of God. Yet faced with the possibility of my death, the man says I am being pessimistic. Surely the opposite is true, and he should be jealous of my good fortune.

We got off the plane where a chair was waiting, but without a cushion. Two shards of metal jabbing into my ass. The Air Canada Agent was unrepentant. This is the way they all are. I regret not letting her go and making her get me one with a cushion. We braved the soulless chair. Customs was a breeze.

Finally home.

I have come to the conclusion that Air Canada goes out of its way to hire Agents that are belligerent and rude. I can see them in the interview process. Oh, I am sorry, you appear to have a sense of humour. Here is the number for West Jet or Porter. You could never work for us. The ruder the agent, the less helpful, the better the interview process.

I am glad to be home. Unfortunately, this was the last trip we will take. I cannot risk being away from my hospital. Everyone was very kind and considerate as I lay on the couch and was waited on hand and foot by all. I do not like those circumstances, but there is little I can do about it.

More posts on their way.

People seem to like to talk about themselves. They like it a lot. A compulsion if you will.

Our family went on vacation in the Yukon in 1994 or 1995. We stayed with some friends in Dawson City, a small town made famous during the gold rush of the twenties. We flew to Vancouver, connecting to Whitehorse. We rented a van to complete the drive to Dawson City. We were warned about speeding. The fact that we should avoid it. Cops, we asked coming from the big city? No, they said, bears and moose. Hit one of those and you are pretty much done. Specially the moose. They have long legs and roll over the hood of the car straight into the windshield crushing all who happen to be in the way.

This is not to mention the occasional forest fire that might impede your drive. And the lack of gas stations. The closest one is located about where you will run our of gas if you drive at the regular speed. Drive any faster, and you will be out of gas sooner, where there are no gas stations. And there might be bears. Got it, do not speed.

We saw a stunning lake and decided to pull over on the shoulder to enjoy the scenery, maybe take a picture or two. Pulling over is very safe. Not like there is a lot of traffic. Pull over we did. There was this sudden sinking feeling. We were not depressed. The car started sinking into the permafrost. A lot like driving in sand, or more appropriate with our experience, snow. Being the quick thinkers we are, we decided against stopping to ponder the situation, and instead kept driving at the same speed pulling ourselves out of danger.

The ice that covers the north melts in the short summer creating the permafrost. About 18 inches of very soft something that covers the ice beneath. It is soft and mushy and heavy with mosquitoes who refused to bite us for some reason. We walked on a lot of this stuff and never got bit. Safe to walk on, dangerous to drive.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. No bears, no moose, in fact, no wildlife of any kind. Only thing we saw was acres and acres of burnt out forest. Turns out they had a forest fire a week before. People slept in their trucks waiting to continue their drive. Always have a blanket and candles handy, and food.The forest on both sides of the highway was black, charred, heavy with the smell of burned wood. One giant bar-b-que. We noticed clumps of trees that had survived the fire. Almost as if the fire had swirled around them sparing their lives. The future of the forest guaranteed in their staying alive. A clump of green surrounded by the black. Could not stop to take pictures.

We purchased a Canon video camera for the trip. This was before the amazing handycams you can buy today. Even before digital cameras. I loved taking movies, hated the editing process. All the movies are still on tape somewhere in this house. I will find them one day and transcribe them to the hard drive. Prepare to be bored.

My forte was making people talk about themselves, lowering their barriers. One of the first jobs I had in Canada was with an outfit called Household Finance, HFC. They gave loans to people who were unappreciated by the banks. Rates of interest equal to that of credit cards. There was no shortage of demand. Most of the branches were in disadvantaged areas. They fired me after two years. Turns out I was an excellent lender, terrible at collecting.

In my first week, I was told to see a customer who was waiting in the consulting room. He wants a loan. Fill out the forms. No problem. I came back to the manager with a half filled form. What about the rest of the information, he asks. Are you kidding me? Way too personal questions. I could never ask those, and why would they answer. The manager was a big burly man who had been with the company for twenty years. Trained a whole bunch of people just like me. Go back, he says, fill out the rest. I think he found the whole thing a bit amusing.

Back I went, screwed up my courage and started asking the questions required to fill out the rest of the form. Much to my surprise, the applicant was more than happy to answer the questions. Volunteered more information. Ask, and you shall receive, And receive I did. I discovered over the next couple of years, that if asked with the proper tone, people will reveal all sorts of information about themselves. The success f Facebook is a testament to this.

This observation has been confirmed many times over the years. Open the door with the right question, and wait for the deluge of information.

So it was on our trip to the Yukon. Ask the right question, and people will talk. The stone carver was more than happy to reveal his secrets. Fill the gaps with more questions, and more answers pour out. No one else appeared to enjoy these moments as much as Janet and I did. They were way too long. I hate editing. The tapes are buried in the basement somewhere.

I find myself now, not in the position of the inquisitor, but of the one being questioned. I am the one who has to decide how much information to divulge. How much information does the person want? How to dissect the question? The latter is very important. I have found over the years, that people rarely ask you questions they want answers to. It is the inferred question that is important. People would ask me question about computers. Why did the computer do this? I discovered by looking at the glaze in people’s eyes, that the question was not asked properly. What they wanted to know was, did they cause the computer to crash or misbehave. The answer eventually became, you did not cause this to happen, and you cannot prevent it from happening again. Here is what you can do to protect yourself from its consequences.

The same principles apply now. Different people have different tolerances to information. Diana wants to know and see everything. She was the first to ask to see the bag. Most people do not know how to ask to see the bag. She, on the other hand, said, can I see it? We were in the hospital at the time. She saw the bag, and the staples. Wow. The action on her part help me get accustomed to my situation. She was not repulsed, or did she faint. She touched the staples and the conversation continued.

We were at Heather’s farm the other week. Heather and family were there. It was an altogether very pleasant weekend. A lot of conversation flowed, philosophies expounded upon. All the worlds problems were solved. I talked a fair bit, mostly about myself. Given the relationship, the conversation would very often go in other directions. I was very grateful for that. I am off the hook. We are talking about other things that have nothing to do with my condition.

I remember at one point sitting there thinking, why are we not talking about me? I was conflicted. On the one hand grateful that we were not talking about me, on the other wondering why there was no interest in talking about me. It was interesting to notice how much I have become accustomed to talk about myself and my condition.

Kali and I get together for lunch about every two weeks. Much appreciated. We talk about me for a brief bit, then continue talking about all sorts of other things. I have known Kali for the better part of fifteen year. We both feel that we have grown a lot closer since we have been having these lunches. All that talk has to lead to something.

Catherine has been home this summer. She has back problems. Collapsed or slipped discs. She comes over once in a while. More to the point, we pick her up. She comes to our house and lies on the couch. We talk a lot. We went swimming the other day. It is very amusing to have the two of us with our fair share of physical ailments conferring with one another. The conversation is easy. We both get tired easily, both need to lie down regularly, both laugh at ourselves a lot. There are a lot of similarities.

Fetneh will not leave me alone. We talk every couple of days. Thank God for Skype. We do not seem to run out of subject in spite of the frequency of our conversations. I always look forward to the call. I always answer the phone if I can. Doesn’t matter what condition I am in. I can always call her back when I am in better shape.

Conversations are what connects us to one another. What us able to live together, put up with the most bizarre idiosyncrasies. Conversations frustrate us. Some think quicker than others. Some like me, need a couple of days to assimilate information and come up with clear thoughts. Others like Janet, want to jump in and talk right away and get tot he bottom of things. She has never gotten used to my need for a couple of days to put my thoughts together.

Conversation. Keep them coming. Even if you are not talking about me. Though I would have to question you severely in those cases.

Cancer creates such wonderful opportunities. Bi-weekly visits to the Chemo Daycare, the side effects of all the treatments, the incredible amount of information you have to sift through to get the an inkling of what to expect.

The other side is the amazing support of friends and relatives. The good side.

We spent last weekend visiting friends and taking full advantage of their hospitality. Saturday was spent on the shores of Lake Simcoe. Janet’s cousin Deena, rents a cottage on Lake Simcoe every year. We spend a day visiting. Her brother Bryan and family come up as well, as does Eva. All good making for a small family get together. I had a good chat with David Margolese whose company I always enjoy.

We spent Sunday and Monday at the Fraser farm taking full advantage of the company and space. The Frasers were all there, including the delectable and always charming Ceilidh.

Heather Fraser is doing some very interesting work in all kinds of places. We talked (again) about the work of one of her friends. A Dr. Robert Buckman. He, the Doctor, theorizes that we are better off treating cancer by slow doses of Chemo instead of the current methods of bombarding the body with a huge dose of the drugs. The theory is that the cancer cells start dying when bombarded, but soon retreat, in effect removing the threat. The magic happens once we stop treating the body to the cancer drugs. At this point the cancer cells return in full force attacking the body with renewed viguour.

The slow treatment allows the body to be treated with low doses of the Chemo drugs, in effect fooling the cancer cells into thinking nothing is happening, that they are not under attack. This treatment lulls the cancer cells allowing for a more prolonged attack. The current trials have been done on breast cancer patients. The treatments are called DalCM-P. Goolge it, or read this article. I have an appointment with Dr. Buckman this coming Thursday.

I have started my Chemo vacation in a very slow mode. I have been away from my computer for a few days, which is very unusual for me. I have a lot of projects on the go, but find myself in some sort of a limbo state. Still trying to come to terms with all the unsaid words about why we are on vacation. I am eternally positive in my outlook, yet cannot help but wonder about the future.

People insist on telling me that they could die early when they get hit by a bus. I finally found a link that talks about the possibilities of ending your life with said method. As my friend Stone remarked, it is not a competition. If people insist on getting hit by a bus, they are more than welcome to go before me.

I am also receiving information about alternative treatments. More specifically, two people have written me with information on Y-90, an isotope based treatment directed at liver cancer. It is also used for treating metastasized cancer that are now affecting the liver. Items for discussion with Dr. Buckman.

I have not been interested with the type of cancer that is afflicting me until now. The rare occasion when the question has come up has resulted in me answering with something to the effect that I have the type of cancer that eventually kills you. A lot of the remedies I am reading on the web refer to very specific types of cancer that are affected by the treatments. It might be beneficial for me to know what type of cancer I do have to make sense of the articles I am reading.

The amount of information is mind blowing and very confusing. Following the idea that each body is different and reacts differently to everything adds to the confusion. There are cases of people who have been removed from treatments that have survived. People given 6 months who have lived for a lot longer. The comments of people who have tried certain remedies and are waxing poetic about it can also be misleading. Are they genuine? What was their affliction? None of it is corroborated with statements from reputable hospitals or clinics or doctors. We will believe anything that we think will cure us, however absurd it may sound.

How to differentiate between the absurd and the items that make more sense. Does the guy who claims that eating hot peppers on bread with garlic for two weeks make sense? A pepper based diet will rid you of cancer in two weeks he says. That diet will also be rid of me in less time. He just might be right though. Do I throw caution to the wind and attempt his remedy? The temptation is there, going against all common sense.

The next few weeks will see me working on a few projects. I will attempt to make my camera bag. Finish at least one of the two web sites I am working on. Maybe render my new kitchen to paper, as well as the new design for the back yard. All these things take time and concentration. I ams till sleeping in the afternoons. For longer periods than before the vacation. These get in the way of the projects. Do as the body tells.

Time to see the psychologist.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for your thoughts, support, and prayers.

The level of confusion, for want of a better word is amazing. On the one hand, it is good news. Let the chemicals run through their routine and exit the system.

Take a couple of months off to reassess the situation.

Ponder the meaning of life.

Start working on all my projects.

Keep away from the routine of the hospital.

Janet was talking the other day about this situation. You start on this adventure in a bit of a daze. You ask a bunch of questions. According to Janet I was asking my fair share of questions. Except that I was repeating my questions. I was getting answers and repeating the same questions. As I said, in a bit of a daze.

You acquiesce to the advice given by the doctors. Specially if you like them. They seem to know what they are doing. Dr. Heldey has a huge collection of articles to his credit. Surely, he knows a lot of stuff about colon cancer and its metastasized state. He is very reassuring. All we can do is follow his advice.

There is a lot of talk of alternatives to the traditional medicines. There are no proofs, just a lot of information. It is very hard to sift through all the information. We have discovered that you tend to make sense of the information as time goes by, as the need arises to make sense of things. So much of the information is anecdotal. We have no idea if people are responding to the medication, the alternative choices, or not.

I have always maintained that I will not live just for the sake of living. I will not go through a regime that seems to be more work than it is worth. What price is life worth living for? All this work and you live an extra two years. Is it worth it? Probably to the people around you, but not for the person going through the chronic condition. At least not to this one. I keep reading about people going through all sorts of programs to live longer. Why the compulsion to live at any cost?

The health network has looked after me for the past year. Diagnosis, operation, Chemo. Everyone looking after the chronic. With a smile, a laugh and a hug. You, the chronic are being looked after by all these people. The chronic is not doing anything, while things are done to him. We are a bit powerless. Go to the hospital, give blood, get Chemo. Make sure you have taken your drugs before the Chemo. Go home, sleep, rest, make the best of the situation.

We have to move now from having things done to us to deciding what we need to do for ourselves. We have to follow through with some of the stuff we have been reading about. Make sense of all the messages we are getting. Again, sift through everything and make decisions.

I find the situation very confusing. Again not sure if that is the right word. I have a lot of projects to work through, a lot of time to figure things out.

Seeing the oncologist and negotiating a Chemo Vacation for a couple of months. The news is overwhelming.

We took a week off Chemo treatments to visit friends and relatives in Montreal

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It was short. It was quick. It was fun. Ok, I will tell you more. We flew Porter from the Toronto Island Airport. Landed in the Newark International Airport. Took a taxi into town. We have a letter from Dr. Kennedy that stipulates that I am infirm and require a wheelchair to get around. I [...]

I am going through a bizarre set of events. I keep thinking and thinking and the thoughts provoke new thoughts, and I reverse my position don’t care about this or that, come to new conclusions, confuse myself to all high hell. What else do I have to do? It turns out that I have a [...]

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