Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Friday to Tuesday

Just a few updates from the last five days.

On Friday morning my mother told me that my grandmother had died the night before. Like my grandfather last year, it was pneumonia that did her in. (See, I was right to be worried before.) She was 93, passed peacefully, and one of her granddaughters—arguably the one grandchild who spent more of her childhood with her than any other—was with her. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to go.

I have a lot of memories about my grandmother, but there are two that have stuck out in my mind since Friday. One: Her Scrabble skills were razor-sharp. It didn't matter if her opponents had more schooling, she would whup all comers. She was pretty formidable at Boggle, too. Two: No one in the world has ever made homemade chocolate-chip cookies as good as hers. Ever. Suggesting otherwise will earn you hostile glares—if I feel like letting you off that easy.

I spent enough time in Kingston, Jamaica as a kid that I consider it one of my three home cities (Montreal and New York are the others). With my grandmother's passing, the three family members I saw most often when I was there are gone. Going to Jamaica won't feel right without them there.

Saturday, of course, was awesome. Sunday was less so, but still pretty good. I was still a bit bummed about missing the SIGGRAPH conference, but several compatriots have been sending me updates (and a great personalized video!), so I don't feel too bad. I've also decided to attend in spirit with a series of photos.

When I went to get my shots yesterday I also had a blood test. My hemoglobins are down, but since I felt (and still feel) reasonably energetic, I elected not to receive a transfusion. My white blood count, however, has skyrocketed. Since the azacitidine shots often depress the white blood count, my hematologist took me off the Hydrea. But with these results, I've ended up going back on them.

The down side to going back on Hydrea is the effect on my mouth. It's not as harsh as my earlier chemotherapy regimens, but Hydrea does reduce some of the mucous in my mouth, making it a little more difficult to eat. Really, I just had to be careful. However, the azacitidine has the same side effect, and it's starting to kick in as well. Last night I gingerly but greedily enjoyed pork souvlaki with rice, vegetables and naan bread; this afternoon I couldn't eat a tuna sandwich with soft bread. It's back to soups and potages for me until things get better. There's also the fact that, as before, more foods just aren't tasting right. I have what should be a tasty glass of chocolate milk with me now, but I took a swig and it's actually kind of revolting.

(I should confess that I've been toying with the idea of pureeing a tuna casserole. After all, the one in the hospital wasn't bad, and I'm sure my casserole would be yummier. Still, it seems like sacrilege somehow.)

With all that said, today was my last trip to the hospital for azacitidine shots. Since last Monday I've received seven injections on each side of my abdomen. The needles are tiny and in the hands of a good nurse the shots don't really hurt, but after all the jabbing my abs are extremely tender. I'm glad this phase is over.

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