Every once in a while, you wake up in the morning expecting this to be a nasty dream. But there is this bag thingy hanging off your stomach to remind you of the stark reality.

We, Janet and I, have this dream often, except she has it without the bag being on her. We remind ourselves often that this has been a very short journey so far. The operation was only on September 2.

My wound nurse, Annmarie was over on Tuesday to look at the gash on my stomach from the sutures that did not hold. No gash to amuse her. I am healed. One less bandage. Another milestone.

I am done with the daily or twice a week visits from the nurses. Barb called today to try and figure out what my needs are moving forward. The only thing left for the nurses to do is to come every two weeks to disconnect me from the chemo bottle. They are not rid of me just yet.

Annmarie and I talked for a while while she filled in her report. Talked a bit about eHealth. The information the nurses complete on us remain in our possession. They are not transferred to our electronic files. A glaring gap, I think, in the information gathering process.

We talked a lot on how we should keep our sanity. There is no set rule of course. Everyone has their own method. We talked about relationships that are created with patients. How different we all are. The work load. Some of the nurses work from nine in the morning to nine at night. We talked about the need for more communications between the nurses and the hospital staff. More training. More openness. I have to invite her over for a cup of coffee one day.

One more step taken normal a more normal life.

Today was a good day.

Got my H1N1 vaccination from my family doctor, or at least the nurse. My doctor was giving a speech in Calgary. Something to do with whether extroverts or introverts get better grades or perform better. I will have to get the lowdown from her next time we meet. I have had no side effects from the vaccine. The conundrum with this is the following. One of the possible side effects of the vaccine is fever that they recommend you take Tylenol for. One of the side effects of chemo is a temperature for which you re forbidden to take Tylenol. What to do? I got the vaccine a week early so it would not interfere with chemo.

Went for a drive to Bayview Village, all by myself. This is the longest drive I have taken, and the longest I have been out of the house. It felt very good, somehow. I did not take a nap when I got home. I tried, but the phone kept ringing, so I gave up. Did some research in changing the look of this blog. Watched some TV. Not much. Still prefer quiet over noise.

Went to Chapters in Bayview Village and saw a couple of books I think I want to read. Just that is interesting. I have a book on my shelf in the bedroom that I have to read, and a couple of others downstairs. First time in three months that I felt like reading something that has nothing to do with cancer.

Devin has a date with me tomorrow. We are trying to make this a regular day for the two of us. We are going to Taps in the morning to look at shower heads, the height of excitement, I know. We are putting a shower in the bathroom on the second floor. Then lunch (shawarma), and finally a visit to the botanical gardens downtown. I think I will pass on the relaxation and visualisation session this week just to spend more time with him.

It all sounds a bit boring and every day. That, of course, is the whole point. I am attempting to get some sense of normal back in my life.

I accept that chemo week is going to be bad. Maybe that is too strong, how about not good. Chemo week starts on Thursday, with a preamble on Wednesday. It should end the Wednesday after, hence the week. No normalcy in defining the week. So there will be the occasional redefinition of things. Once chemo week is over, the more normal part of life has to start. I did say ‘has to start’. I am not giving myself a choice.

I have to start taking pictures again. Go to the movies. Eva Almos has volunteered since her schedule is more flexible, which allows us to go to a matinee. Fewer people, means less risk of catching something. More reading. More meeting people for lunch at their place rather than mine. More of anything that will make me almost forget that there is a bag hanging on my stomach.

I guess that is why the occasional cheating about normal definitions does not matter. You can never forget about this bag. The tape that binds it to your stomach is a perpetual reminder. Some level of normalcy is a must.

Sunday night had the predictable sleep schedule. There was a slight variation. I drove Janet to work, then went back to bed. We have an appointment with the surgeon, Dr. Kennedy at 3PM for a look see at various things. I still don’t know how they can tell whether the insides are healing or not.

I woke up at 11:30 and was contemplating getting out of bed. It turned out to be 1:30 when I finally rolled out and into the shower. Picked up Janet at 2:30 and went to see Dr. Kennedy. The waiting room was unusually full. One doctor appeared to be running a production line. He was whizzing through his patients.

One patient sat across the room and was coughing and sniffling all the time. No mask. I finally went to the nurses desk and brought this to their attention. They started discussing amongst themselves trying to determine whose patient she was. But nothing was done about it. We have a ways to go in enforcing the rules that we post so freely.

David Woodley, Dr. Kennedy’s assistant came to get us. He has a very firm hand shake. A handshake. We are supposed to avoid those as well. This will all take a while.

Dr. Kennedy called a nurse in to remove all the tapes from my stomach. The main problem has so far been the sutures that did not hold. Dr. Kennedy says it has granulated and needs to be burned off. Out comes the sticks. They are 6 inch Flexible Caustic Applicators with 75% Silver Nitrate ans 25% Potassium Nitrate on its tip. The sticks are kept in a dark pouch. They lose their torture rating if exposed to air.

The tip of the stick is rubbed against the granulated skin on your wound. The skin is granulated which appears to be skin that has formed but has no idea what to do next. It is burned off to allow new skin with half a brain to form and take over. The burning process is repeated every three days until it is totally healed. Dr. Kennedy says it is pretty much healed at this point, just needs a bit of encouragement to close up completely.

My super wound nurse, Annemarie had done this to me once with interesting results. Lots of pain rolling across the stomach. Annemarie says she has not seen my reactions before. Imagine that, me, with a unique reaction to a treatment. The burning hurts again. You might well imagine that burning any part of your skin, healed or otherwise, hurts. Nothing two Tylenol 1′s will not mask.

We also have a discussion about the alien forms in my stomach. Dr Kennedy smiles. She is slowly getting accustomed to my sense of humour. The insides will eventually settle into the right position. May take six months or a year, but eventually, all will settle down and the lumps and growths will disappear.

Is is strange how adaptable we are. The first sight of the alien stomach horrified me. It is is now not even a minor point. Not that I am anxious to share the look with others, but it is not an issue to dwell over. The more important elements of my condition happen every couple of weeks when I get the chemo treatment. It is all relative to whatever could be happening that would be worse.

All is good. Though no Avastin yet. There is no rush for that anyways. It can always be added at a later time when the body has healed a bit more. Avastin may have a negative effect on the sutures that were done inside the body, the ones we cannot see. No rush.

We go home in good spirits.

Leslie is not feeling well. She keeps wearing a mask around the house and is considering moving out until she gets better. I have very mixed feelings about this. I understand why she wants to move out, but it is very nice to have her around. I wish we can make some changes to our house that would accommodate her lifestyle.

I take a nausea pill after supper. This is what things have come down to. Feel bad, take a pill. As Fetneh said to me the other day, what a twist. A person who has never taken so much as a vitamin C now has an apothecary in his bedroom.

A bad night’s sleep. Took the Lorazepam, eyelids weigh down, Word Searches taking longer. Yep time to sleep. Lasted an hour. Woke up, leg jumping, posted to this blog, if only to make Sharon happy, tried to sleep again. Went downstairs, had a snack, took the other half of the L, back to sleep. Awake an hour later, back downstairs for another snack, finally fall asleep at around 4AM.

The thing about these hours, is that it throws your sense of time off. We vacationed in the Yukon one summer. Light 24 hours. There was a dusk and dawn which lasted about an hour collectively. We were having a bar-b-que one night when a neighbour came over and asked what we were up to. Seemed obvious, but his question had to do more with do you have any what time it is? It was midnight and we were just sitting down to dinner.

I am sleeping strange hours. Woke up this morning and thought it was early, except for the fact that it was 11:30AM. Late start to the day which is something I have to get accustomed to. It sort of changes the order of operations. Nothing wrong with that, just have to get accustomed to it.

Kali is thinking of coming over this afternoon. I think we will go for a walk. I need to shower before she gets here.

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