Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Big Ones - Part Six

A short hike above the town of Canmore, Alberta are twin jewels; Grassi Lakes. There, in September 1991, I painted my first ever plein air painting. Nowadays the trail is heavily traveled and the lakes are always crowded but in the summer of 1993, when I made a daily practice of meditating there early every morning, I had the lakes all to myself. A part of me will always be there just as the beauty and peace of this sacred place is always in my heart.  

FIREWEED AT GRASSI LAKES   1994 watercolour 7" x 10"  Collection of Mary Shillabeer and Tom Matier
Painting at Grassi Lakes August 2nd, 1992

Back in the 1990s spring kicked off our seasonal, reproduction business and all summer long, when it was in full swing, we kept a hectic pace. The above watercolour was my study. I had the use of the Canmore Artists and Artisans gallery space (mid week) over four weeks in April and May of 1995, but I managed only eight random paintings days before bringing the big oil home, where it sat, unfinished, for two years.

The large oil in progress at the Canmore Artists and Artisans Guild's gallery, April and May, 1995

FIREWEED AT GRASSI LAKES   1997 oil 4 x 6 feet   Collection of Gordon and Carol Godfrey

In order to include it in my solo show at Whyte Museum, Banff, I finished it at home, in August 1997. Saltiel; Routes Without Limits was a milestone for me. The curator and I were like oil and water. Gathering together 39 paintings from over a 25 year period was epic. But the joy of seeing them installed, side by side, in the large gallery (September 13th to November 30th, 1997) made it all so very worth while.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Medical Update

With both daughters in town, Richard Brown offered to do a family photo shoot, November 18th, 2018
Love our photo bombers
And we loved photobombing them!

My first chemotherapy treatment, of the last round, was on November 2nd at the Tom Baker Cancer Clinic, Calgary. A familiar place that makes me cringe whenever I enter. Rounds two and three were much more palitable at the Canmore Hospital. The 'chemo lite' that Dr. Glaze negotiated with me was Carboplatin, 455mg per treatment, which was given by IV over 45 minutes. Although the link says to expect hair loss, Dr. Glaze assured me that would not happen, this time, and it didn't.

November 22nd, 2018, my first chemo treatment in Canmore Hospital, Janice and Karen came to sing to me.

Before the second chemo treatment, my chemistry and blood work were strong so it was recommended I take a higher dose. I did. They increased it to 520mg. Putting that much through in the same time frame caused the vein I my left hand to collapse and to pain for a few days. By the third treatment I had lost weight and the dose was dropped back to 430mg.  

Chemo round three, December 13th, 2018 Part of the Threshold Choir came and sang to me, again.  My new cancer Hug Quilt.

For the past month and more I’ve been having stomach cramps with pretty much anything I eat. Just before Christmas Home Care began checking in on me daily and I began taking morphine for the pain. Palliative Care has been enlisted. It's felt I have months, not weeks. Fingers crossed. We're looking into MAID as well.  

Pain brought me into Emergency on the 20th, where I spent a night. It was then we determined we wouldn't be flying to Saskatoon on the 21st. That was also when the results of the December 18th PET and CT scans were given to me, here at Canmore Hospital. They are not favourable. The three rounds of chemo did little, if anything, to shrink the tumour(s) which are now plentiful and aggressively growing throughout my abdomen, liver and in a lung.  

Fortunately the Scammells were able to come to us for ten great days. In the 11th hour we scored a thawed/fresh, organic turkey from Valbella's and with plenty of cooks we had a full on turkey dinner. As we sat to eat Avery wanted to speak, but last. We held hands and went around the table expressing gratitude for being together. When Avery did speak she said "This may be Gran's last Christmas, so I want it to be a really good one." And it was.

Christmas dinner 2018
Knowing I needed help to deal with constipation and after the kids departed on New Year’s Day, Bill brought me to Emergency, again. I’ve been admitted and I’m still here. For 48 hours I was on IV, with nothing by mouth. My bowels finally moved on the 2nd and I'm empty. I'm back on a clear fluid diet, my intestines didn't care for the short foray to a full fluid diet. Broth and jello get awfully boring. My stomach is still distended. Palliative radiation is recommended to shrink the one large mass and relieve pressure to my intestines. I have an appointment with a radiology oncologist at the TBCC on the 10th.

I have a bladder infection (no symptoms but a regular, to-be-expected affliction for us folks with kidney stents) and I'm being treated with antibiotics by IV. All other medications go in the same way (aids for digestion to settle the bowels). I am 'unplugged' between infusions. 

It has been suggested/advised that I stay admitted and come and go on day passes. I may even sleep at home, occasionally. Bill brought me home the night before last for about three hours. Caught up with online banking, fussed around the house a bit and watched TV.

I'm looking forward to resolving a lot of my discomfort, to being able to eat again but in particular to Laura's, Amira's and Everett's visit for a week commencing January 26th.

The view out my window here at the Canmore General Hospital, January 5th, 2019