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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Big Brother 18

Been watching Big Brother three nights a week, as I have during the summer season for the past eighteen years.  When I started watching, I was in my forties, and most of the "houseguests" are usually in their twenties or thirties, with an odd 40-something now and then, maybe even a 50.  Of course, the older I get, the younger they get.  I also subscribe to the live feeds (cameras are on these people 24/7), and I can tune in any time of day or night to see what's going on with them.  This gives a better picture of them, beyond what is broadcast on prime time.
This season, they all seem unsually young, generally 23-27, and relating to them, on almost any level, is virtually impossible... Except for maybe closeness with family, and stuff like that, the division I feel with most of them is tremendous.
There are some potentially good minds in the house, but these people need some work, that's for sure.  Paul comes from money (they did a segment where his mom and dad were interviewed in thier mansion like home), and has a tendency to stress how unimportant the money is to him (winner gets $500K).  I can see how he prides himself on the unimportance of money.  That is a positive thing of course, but I can say, without fear of contradiction, that Paul has never gone hungry, without more than a pitcher of water in the fridge (assuming the electricity didn't get turned off).  Take a walk there, Paul, and then tell me how unimportant money is.  He has a small clothing company (think black with skulls), and frequents Europe
Michelle, is heavily into social media, and seems to see this as a career path.  She needs a lot of reassurance, and because of that, she doens't seem to have a good sense of self. Wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her.
Victor is quite young, 23, I think, and laughs a lot, and likes to make people laugh.  He's Puerto Rican, and is real easy on the eyes.  He seems to be the most regular guy of them all.  I'd like to see him win, but odds are that he'll be "evicted" soon.
They ALL use the word "literally" every other sentence, it seems.  There is rarely a valid reason for using the word to begin with, and why they interject it anywhere and everywhere is just beyond me.
A lot them curse incessantly.
They use the word "bone" to indicate sex.  Yea, that's sexy.  Geez.
The girls spend half the day putting on make-up and doing their hair.
The boys pump iron.

I think they call this generation, The Millennials
God help them.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Wonderland coloring pages





Here are some quick shots of pages I colored in the Wonderland coloring book.  My apologies for the blurriness; I didn't spend much time setting these up.  Some pictures covered both pages, but weren't photographed that way.  Click on any pic to view as a clickable slideshow.

I used Pentel Arts Fine-Point Color Markers.































Wednesday, August 17, 2016

oh to be in Saranac Lake

I check the weather at the online site called Weather Underground.  Along with current and future forecasts, there is an area that shows the state lows and highs.  Invariably, the highs will be  close to home, like New York City, Queens, Yonkers, etc.  The lowest of lows is almost always at Saranac Lake.  Yesterday's high was in NYC, at 91 degrees, and the low at Saranac Lake was 50 degrees.  Major difference there.
I've been to Saranac Lake once, when I was doing audits on medical offices throughout New York State. It is located not far below the Canadian border, amidst the Adirondack Mountains, I believe. The doctor's office was in the middle of nowhere, as most things seemed to be in that area.  It was run by a Chinese doctor and his wife.  Much of their medical equipment was quite old fashioned, including an otoscope made of wood.  The doctor and his wife were sweet and soft-spoken, their demeanor reflective of the mellow surroundings of Saranac Lake.
This is the kind of easy and laid back type of place I wouldn't mind living in.  I would certainly enjoy the weather... even in winter, when the lows are often in single digits.
Nevertheless, I live in Brooklyn, where the temps are most often higher than New York City temps which are recorded in Central Park.
Chances are I will spend the rest of my life in Brooklyn... the past being a fairly good indicator of the future.
If I owned a car, I might actually consider moving upstate, but even if I did, it would mean moving away from my sister/niece and great nephew, which would probaly be too hard to do.  I imagine Evie would consider moving with me, which is why I didn't name her among people I'd be leaving behind.  I bet we could rent a house for half the price of what I'm paying for a one-bedroom apartment.
The heat was terribly oppressive yesterday, feeling a lot worse than the readings of low 90's.  The air was just thick with the heat.
I had gone to the cancer center, where I had to get an IV calcium infusion, before getting the injection that aides my bone strength.  It was so cold at the center that I had to be covered with a blanket while getting the infusion.  I am not complaining.
When I went back outside, the heat came as a shock after spending hours of shivering in the center.
Luckily, I've been able to use my air conditioner without any more leaking.  Mark Durfee, fellow poet and blogger (The Walking Man, http://themanwhowalksalonewalksfaster.blogspot.com/) had suggested to me that I raise the temperature setting, and lower the energy mode, to ward off the leaking problem, which thankfully, it did.  Just about saved my life, considering the heatwaves we've been having.  Bless you, Mark!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: Understanding Exposure (How to shoot great photographs with any camera) by Brian Peterson, 4th edition



Having been a photographer for over 35 years, I am pretty familiar with the Exposure Triangle, and how to use it, but it is always good to have a nice reference book at hand to inspire and encourage me to use my knowledge more effectively.
I enjoy all the varied photographs showing the same subject at different exposures, and how this can greatly effect the outcome.
I very much enjoyed the section on Light.  It included:  the best light, frontlight, overcast frontlight, sidelight, and backlight.  Again, giving good examples of each.  
Also, the section on shutter speed, giving good examples and techniques for freezing motion, and implying motion.
I have never been one for using filters, but recently acquired some polarizing and neutral density filters, so the Special Techniques section, outlining these exact filters, was quite welcome.
Despite my many years of photography, I have never quite mastered the art of using electronic flash.  There's a very comprehensive section on this, and I will no doubt refer to it many times in my quest for understanding it.
This is a good photography reference tool for beginners and advanced photographers as well.
For more information, click on these links:  
I received this book from Blogging for Books in return for publishing an honest review.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

on Becoming a Bird, despite being Earth-bound

Becoming a Bird


Broken wings lay against your breastbone
digging deep to the other side
A visceral attachment
Seemingly significant, yet still
you cannot fly.

Iridescent feathers lay flat against your cheekbones
Your eyes are separated by yet another,
You are cross-eyed, two by two,
Visually aware of elemental differences
that further define the yin and the yang
You can see.

Playing hopscotch with frogs
defines your personality
You like to laugh,
but you will not win.

Everything is in the trees,
and on the edges of clouds and
deep hanging fog.

But all you need is a sidewalk
and chalk
if you want to play.



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

wonder when it started

Just two years ago, on summer vacation with my sister, niece, and great-nephew, I was still pretty active.  The only real discomfort I felt at the time was from the breast expanders I had in me since the double mastectomy.
I was able to take a running start to jump into the pool, and did a great deal of walking the day we went to Hershey Park.

Even last year, I was still doing pretty good when we went away in the summer. That was several months after the reconstruction.  I was able to climb the ladder to use the pool slide, and spent many hours playing around in the water.

There was just one day, I remember, when I was in a lot of pain, and spent most of the day in bed.  Other than that, I was doing fairly well, considering.
It was soon after the reconstruction reversal this year, in March, that I started to really go downhill.  Of course, the pain (mostly in my abdominal area) had been persistent for fourteen months.  But then the breathing problems really came to the forefront, which of course precipitated that first hospital admission, where the diagnosis of breast cancer metastasis was made.
Prior to the admission, I'd started having bad leg pain, which I kind of chalked up to on and off leg pains I'd had most of my life.  Since I was a kid, I'd suffered with bad knee pains at various times in my life, and though this pain felt more severe, and involved my entire leg, not just the knees, I didn't think there was something more ominous going on.  Little did I know that I was now experiencing painful metastatic bone pain.
Had I not gone to the hospital because of my breathing problem, there's no telling how long I'd remain undiagnosed.
I wonder when the mets started. 
I had the PET scan back in April or May of 2014, after chemo was completed, but before radiation started, and that's when they told me I was cancer free.  So, sometime within the next two years, the metastasis developed.
I have been on some kind of pain control for the past year and a half, now taking oxycodone every 4-6 hours.  Sometimes I try to do without it for a few more hours, but pain comes back full force, unfortunately.
Recently my legs have started to get very numb and painful soon after standing up.  Feels like a thousand rubber bands gradually tightening around my legs from my feet to my knees.  Almost makes it impossible to walk.
Worse than the pain is the breathing problems, which don't improve much at all.  I can't walk more than half a block without stopping to rest.  This keeps me more or less homebound.
Yesterday, I went to the cancer center to get the injection for my bones.  Turns out my calcium was low again, despite taking a calcium pill and calcium carbonate oral suspension every eight hours since being discharged from the hospital last month... so, I was unable to get the injection.
Next week I have to go for an IV calcium infusion, which will take two to three hours, hopefully improving my levels, so I can continue with the injections.
I worry about the effects on my heart, since the low calcium caused me to have EKG changes.
I don't understand why my calcium is so low when I'm taking so much stuff to regulate it, and haven't had one of those injections (which causes the levels to drop) in about two months.
What the fuck body?  Why aren't you cooperating?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

what's been happening


Well, it's August now, so summer is moving on, thank God.  Another couple of months, and blessed Autumn will come in.  None too soon for me.
A couple of days ago, my superintendent came to my apartment saying there was water pouring down into the apartment below me, so apparently it was my problem.  After he left, I discovered that my bedroom air conditioner was leaking badly from the bottom, causing a virtual flood that I never even noticed.  Cleaned it all up, and shut down the a.c., letting the super know I'd solved the problem.
Unfortunately, I have an a.c. that is useless to me now, and it's only 3 years old.  The one in the living room worked for nearly 18 years, before dying this year, the compressor failing to kick in.  I use the a.c.'s mainly because they help me breathe better in the hot and humid weather, and we've been having heat wave after heatwave lately.  Now I am out of luck, unable to afford fixing the newer one, or buying a new one, for that matter.  The bad heatwaves seem to have subsided for the time being, and I just hope I can endure the rest of the summer with the one fan that I have.


Got these things called knitted knockers for free from a site online (knittedknockers.org). 

They are knitted with a fiberfilling, and meant to be used in lieu of a breast prothesis.  Says they can be worn with any bra.  I threw out all of my bras after I had the double mastectomy, so  last night I sent for an inexpensive one so I can try these things out.  Hope they work; I would like to have some semblence of breasts when I get dressed, and I've yet to get prosthetic forms, which I know can be heavy and uncomfortable. 

Bought some more Ensure Plus today, since I continue to have a numb mouth with an odd taste, and nothing tastes good or right anymore.  No doctors have really addressed this problem, except to say that it might be caused by my calcium deficiency, and since that was corrected when I was in the hospital, it may just be something I have to live with.  Everything has the same sort of salty, yet somewhat indistinguishable taste.  It truly sucks.

Found out today that I've been approved for Access-A-Ride, which makes me very happy.  I can get transportation from my home to anywhere in the 5 boroughs for the same price as a bus trip.  I spend a fortune on car service to get around, so this will save me a lot of money.

My hair is falling out pretty drastically due to the oral chemo meds.  Unsure if I will go completely bald again, or if it will just get really thin.  If bald patches start up, I will probably just shave it all off again.

I haven't been back to the Cancer Center since getting out of the hospital, mainly because I just haven't felt well enough.  I know I have to get myself together and start getting back there again this week, since I need to get those injections that help my bones and my blood.

Been coloring a lot in the Wonderland coloring book.  Will maybe take some pics of stuff soon to show you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

be it ever so humble

There's no place like home.

Was finally discharged from the hospital tonight after thirteen long and trying days.

This certainly was an unexpected turn of events in my life.  Makes one reflect upon the impermanence of it all, and how things can change so suddenly, on a dime.

Having stage 4 metastatic breast cancer is no joke.  One's life is now so consumed by constant treatment of the disease, and even treatments of the treatments, if you can fathom that.  Test this, test that, monitor this, monitor that.  Deal with the pain.  Deal with not being at all what you once were.

Things are simply different.... I'm different, and I perceive a different world/reality. 

It is a very lonesome reality.  No matter what support you may have, this is essentially a very private journey.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

ongoing

These hospital admissions go from one thing to another.   I am still here.  My breathing improved, but dangerously low calcium levels caused EKG changes, causing me to stay.
There is an injection I get, once a month, at the cancer center, to help with the bone loss due to the bone metastasis.  This seems to be what caused the calcium disruption.
I had to have a central PICC line placed in my neck the other day for needed IV infusions, because I have absolutely no viable IV access in my arm. Being one arm is compromised by lymphedema, and unable to be used, I had half the access to begin with.
Placing the PICC line was painful, but necessary.
On top of all this, I haven't been able to move my bowels in eleven days, and they won't discharge me until that happens.  I have received just about every drug and procedure you could think of to facilitate this, but to no avail.  Tomorrow they will introduce a rectal tube to see if that helps.  It's really out of line now.
One night, the cramping pain became so severe that my blood pressure went out of control, going over 202/120.  Vomited throughout the night, and was just so miserable.
Damn, I just want to go home, and be done with this madness.

Monday, July 4, 2016

another hospital admission

Another episode with me admitted to the hospital, for COPD exacerbation.

Last week I had done an Albuterol Sulfate nebulizer treatment at home, looking for some relief from labored breathing.   On the contrary, what ensued was one of the worst episodes of shortness of breath that I've ever experienced.   Barely able to take in a breath, I felt sure I could die at any second, or at the very least, have a heart attack.

I was able to type out a couple of words on the computer to get Evie to come over asap, and just be with me.  When I was able to draw in a breath, I used my rescue inhaler, and my rapid fire breathing started to ease up.  Weird thing is, the rescue inhaler is also albuterol, but yields a totally different effect.

Unable to walk even 5-10 feet without losing my breath, I spent the next day and night in bed, putting off going to the ER, but called 911 by Thursday, June 30th, and was taken by ambulance to Maimonides Medical Center.

After spending 8 hours in the emergency room, I was admitted to an Oncology floor for observation and treatment.  Was really thankful that it wasn't like my last trip to the ER, when I spent 29 hours there before getting a bed on a medical floor.

They treated me with another nebulizer treatment... this time something other than the albuterol, but I can't recall the name of what it was.  Anyway, I had a bad response again...  this time having audible wheezing, and painful chest tightness.   I don't know what it is about these nebulizer treatments that have me reacting so poorly, but I now refuse them, and won't ever do another one.  Only the rescue inhaler works for me.

I'm also being treated with 4+ liters of O2, and IV Steroids, 40 mg., 3X a day.

Tomorrow with be my fifth day here.  I haven't yet tried taking a walk in the hall, but will attempt that.  I've been able to walk to and from the bathroom without losing my breath.  I'm improving slowly, and can maybe be discharged in another day or two.

At one point during my stay, I was asked some sensitive questions about whether I would consent to intubation and/or chest compressions if an emergency requiring that were to arise.  Being the likely alternative to these things would be death, I did agree to both.  They said the chances of being extubated would be slim, and a trach would probably have to be done.  That whole conversation bummed the hell out of me, but I knew it had to be discussed.  I'm not exactly ready to consent to death just now, you know?

Pretty sure I will go home with supplemental oxygen this time, and probably continue on a course of oral prednisone.

It has been a pretty scary time, but I am getting through it as best I can.

Some really hot and humid weather is expected to move in very shortly.  That is never good for my breathing, so I will stay quite still and close to the air conditioner.  I have an appointment at the cancer center in three days, but will no doubt have to reschedule that.

My sister, and Melissa and Logan will be going on a short summer vacation soon, and I feel so bad I can't be going with them this time.  I will surely miss that.  I think Logan's Godmother, Kim, will be joining them, too.  Wish I could go, but this just isn't my time.

Hoping I can get back on my feet real soon.