Monday, December 27, 2010

documented response

I keep re-reading the email from Debb (RN).  "The documented response to therapy is 58% reduction. This is a low ball as there were some shrinkage/disappearance of lesions that couldn't be used for documentation..."  This would certainly seem to indicate the the crizotinib is doing a lot of good. I hadn't even thought about such a high level of reduction.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Amazing CT

I had great news from the CT (chest & abdomen) today. Significant tumor reduction. Two undefined spots that were found in my abdomen during pre-crisotinib testing are no longer visible. Dr E said that about 75% of the tumors were reduced. Apparently, I will get more detailed comparisons next week where they will compare various tumor sizes pre and post crisotinib. Treatment with crizotinib continues.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Well...still waiting for 12/22 when I get a chest CT to determine if the crizotinib is helping. I still sense that it is working due to the real reduction in my coughing. But, I don't have any other gauge. Certainly, I have been a little fatigued, I have been having a little bit of edema (swelling) in my ankles, and I experience the vision effects (mostly trails). But, those don't really indicate much. Appetite has been pretty good and I have put on a couple pounds in the last few weeks. Happy that I haven't really had any significant side effects from the crizotinib. Will be very happy if it stays that way.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Status quo

About half-way through the second cycle of crizotinib. Pretty much just status quo. No new side effects. Nothing new to measure progress. A little more than a week until I get a CT and will have more definitive information regarding the progress of the test/study drug.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

End of 1st cycle

Apparently, crizotinib is given in 21-day cycles and I have just finished the 1st cycle. So...I went in today for blood draw and an EKG first thing this morning. Then, saw Dr Einhorn. We discussed my status and side effects so far - basically, very minor stuff. Dr E signed off on the paperwork for me to start the 2nd cycle - which I started today. After that, I had lunch at the Bistro and had to wait 2 hours from the time I took the pills for another EKG and blood draw. At this time, everything looks good. Won't really know anything until 12/22 when I go back for the tests and get a CT.

It is different being in a study because I don't just keep taking the pills. I had to turn in the Rx bottles and remaining pills (along with my medication diary) and got new Rx bottles/pills for the next cycle. I guess they do that as a double-check to confirm the number of pills vs what I put on the diary. I did forget one evening dose so they would be able to see that when they count the remaining pills.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Turkey, dressing, ham, Jill's potatoes, green beans, sweet potato souffle, corn souffle, cranberry sauce, Connie's pumpkin pie - great meal. Follow that up with a little football and a nice nap.  Great Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Crizotinib - day 12

So far I have not had any significant negative side effects from the Crizotinib - 12 days so far. I am still getting brief, minor trails in my vision - very insignificant. On the good side, my dry cough from the cancer has reduced quite a bit. The cough had become very frequent during the last few weeks before the new med. Now, it is mostly limited to right after I eat/drink and just a few other minor occasions. I will take that as a sign that the Crizotinib is doing something good. I see Debb (Research RN) in two days. I assume she will do blood work and other test. Not sure that she will be able to determine the impact of the Crizotinib yet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Visual side effects

This morning I experienced a brief episode of visual side effects. When I woke up and sat up in bed, I experienced trails in my vision and ghosts in my peripheral vision. The trails are, basically, multiple repetitions.  The ghost was like if you filmed a flashlight in the dark with a camera using the bulb setting - meaning that you get this random etch-a-sketch in light. These are one type of side effect that is possible from the crizotinib. It was a very brief episode - gone in just a few seconds.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Crizotinib - start 11/11/10

Yesterday, I started the journey on crizotinib - the study drug that is very new. The routine is 250 mg in the AM and 250 mg in the PM.  This amounts to 2 large 100 mg pills and 1 50 mg pill twice each day.  The next time that I will really know about progress will be around 12/22 when I will have a CT.  I have a couple of appointments before then for labs, tests and to see Dr E.  But, the CT will be the real test of the benefit of the crizotinib.  Until then, my job is to take the drugs and watch for side effects.  I have anti-nausea meds in case I get nauseous.  Other than that, will have to deal with any other side effects as they come.  Dr E says that the typical side effects of crizotinib are normally less severe than I have dealt with from other chemos.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

protocol of one

So it appears that I will not be the patient 83 in the study protocol as originally planned. Rather, I will be on a new study protocol and that protocol will have one patient - me.  Apparently, there is more than one way to skin a cat; and, Dr E found a different way. They went to Pfizer, the FDA and the IU Internal Review Board with this new protocal with one patient.  And, it was approved.  This process is why the final approval took so long.  So, I have my first dose tomorrow.  I had to get blood tests and a CT today.  I will get an EKG before taking the dose. Then I will get another EKG two hours after the dose. Debb the RN will also give me a schedule of visits, tests, doses and apparently diary-like entries that I must do to follow the protocol. As long as I have instructions, I can follow those instructions. So...I will embark on this journey of testing a new cutting edge lung cancer drug. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Great News!!

I was notified today that I have finally been approved to start the study/test drug for my lung cancer.  This was a great finish to about 3 weeks of frustration just waiting for final approval. 

Apparently, some of the tests done previously are now "out of the window" - meaning that I need to have the tests again.  So...tomorrow I go in for blood and other tests and a new chest CT.  Per Debb (RN), they are trying to get me going on the drug on Thursday.  We'll see...  I have waited so long that I won't be surprised if they can't get me going until Friday or even Monday.

Most importantly, I am pretty sure that they now have all the necessary approvals. we go...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

still waiting

Getting final approval for the study is taking longer than I would like. Dr E referred to it as "bureaucracy". They have completed an Emergency Investigational New Drug application. Now waiting for review by the IRB - I assume that is an internal review board. Apparently, this IRB meets Nov 9. looks like we will have an answer then. The drug has been in the news and seems to now have a name - crizotinib.  I don't wait well.  But...that's my only option.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Well...the lab came back with an ALK mutation negative - which would mean that I wouldn't qualify for the study.  However, we have previously had a test that showed positive.  So...DE is asking them to retest in light of the fact that we had a previous positive test.  All I can do now is wait.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Long day of tests

Today was a long day of tests to confirm qualification for the study of a new lung cancer drug being tested.  I have been previously approved by IU and the NIH.  However, now the drug maker, Pfizer, must agree.  I already had a chest CT last week (which indicated that my lung cancer is active again) and a brain MRI (which confirmed that I have no new brain lesions and no existing lesion growth).  Today, I had an abdomen/pelvis CT, a bone scan, an eye exam, blood tests, and an EKG.  I also met with the Research Nurse to discuss consent and process for the study.  If all tests are OK, I may be able to start taking the drug Thursday or Friday.  The ophthalmologist also determined that I have some type of irritation in my right eye that has caused a little edema (swelling) of the retina - which explains the red I have had in the right eye occasionally.  She will treat it with some prescription drops.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Life is odd

This week has been filled with fabulous Fall days.  Temps in the 60s and low 70s.  The leaves are turning beautiful colors - red, yellow, brown, a Fall rainbow of colors.  It has been an awesome drive to the office and the hospital.  And, there's the rub.  Lots of days at the hospital.  Days for Jill to go to her kidney transplant clinics.  (By the way, she is doing well.  She is planning to drive herself to her clinic tomorrow.)  Days for me to get a CT and and MRI.  One day, Tuesday, October 13, to learn that my lung cancer has once again become active.  Life can be such a contradiction.  Beautiful and harsh at the same time. 

Next week I go through a batch of tests to confirm that I qualify for this special no-name drug that will battle with my lung cancer.  Chest CT, Brain MRI, radioactive stuff injected to do a bone scan, CT on abdomen and hips, blood tests, EKG, eye exam and who knows what else. I will be glowing by Wednesday. But, hopefully, they will determine that I can start in the study of PF-02341066. 

I admit that I am a bit apprehensive.  I had hoped that this remission would continue for a few more months and would get us past the holidays.  That was not to be.  I am anxious to get going with this new drug.  I want to see if it lives up to its supposed success.  I'm the kind of person who likes to just jump into something, getting going, find out the side effects / deal with them.  I think that is the only way to really make the most of this kind of new drug.  So, PF-02341066 - let's get going.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10/13 - on to the next treatment

A CT scan this morning confirmed that my lung cancer has become active once again. So...I got 10 months from this last remission.  After discussing this with Dr E, I met with a Research Nurse to go over what needs to be done to start me on the new test chemo.  Apparently, the drug is made by Pfizer and they need to also confirm my qualification for the drug - PF-02341066.  I guess it doesn't even have a name yet.  They now have 83 patients in the study.  Next Tuesday, I will have a long day full of various tests and exams.  DE (the Research Nurse) will contact me with the schedule for the day.

I've been reading lots of paperwork about the study - various "informed consent" and disclaimer type stuff.  It also includes some details about things I will need to do - follow up tests, etc.

I am sure glad that Jill got through her kidney transplant and is well on her recovery.  It could have been pretty complicated otherwise.  We will still need to coordinate her follow ups with what I need to do. So...I guess we move on to the next adventure. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Well...FB friends know that yesterday was my 36th Wedding Anniversary.  Jill and I have had a great life.  We knew each other in high school and went to the same college - where we became good friends.  It's a great thing to be married to your best friend.

She has had her own serious health issues.  We have been lucky that we have taken turns being in tough shape.  I was scheduled to see Dr E (my oncologist) today and she told me to tell him that it isn't "my turn" right now.  I did tell him that and he delivered great news.  I continue to be in remission!! 

He feels that I might expect to have a good run of time coming.  Whenever my current remission ends (hopefully, quite a while from now), I will go on the NIH test chemo which is a "specialty" chemo specifically targeted for a somewhat rare gene which I have.  He said that the NIH has had extremely good success with this drug; and, it apparently hasn't been causing side effects.  He thinks it is possible that I may have a couple years before it will be necessary to figure out a next treatment.

Nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to cancer.  But, it sure is good to think that I may be feeling OK for a while. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Annual physical

Saw Dr F today for my annual physical. BP (108/70) and Pulse (60) - very good. Cholesterol (total 127) - excellent. Kidney & liver functions - normal. No diabetes. Prostate - good. Basically, I am in excellent health other than cancer. How lucky is that?

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I love when lots of fruits are in season.  Have been getting blueberries every Saturday at the Farmer's Market.  Blueberries every morning in my Cheerios - until they run out on Wedn or Thurs.  I bought an extra pint this week.  Also, buying lots of grapes and cherries.  The cherries travel well in a ziplock so I can have some at work.

But, there are only a few things as good as fresh strawberries at this time of the year.  Oh my gosh!!  I have been buying 2 lb containers.  Last week they last about 2 days.  Today, I just ate about a lb in one sitting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

MRI and eyes

Today, I had a head MRI, saw my radiation oncologist and saw a retina specialist.

Dr Henderson informed me that my brain lesions continue to be stable.  That's a very good thing and I am not experiencing any new neurological symptoms.  I will go back in October for another MRI.  Dr H wants to be aware of changes in the lesions rather than wait for new symptoms.

This afternoon, I visited Dr Phan - a retina specialist.  Dr Zlioba had recommended that I see a retina specialist to evaluate what he called floaters.  She confirmed the floaters in both eye and did a pretty complete physical evaluation of my eyes.  She indicated that the current floaters are not causing any issues with my retinas.  I will also go back to see her in October for a re-check.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Back in Indy

Getting to work was tough on Tuesday after getting home so late from the trip and getting into bed a 2:30AM.  But, I made it in a little later than usual. Caught up on things before a couple days of medical stuff.

On Wednesday, went into the IU Simon Cancer Center for a chest Xray and appointment with Dr E. Drove to Joliet right after finishing with Dr E.  Appointment with Dr Z on Thursday to do a final check on my cataract surgery. All went well at both appointments. 

Back to work Friday after driving back to Indy on Thursday evening. Since I had mostly caught up on Tuesday, I spent the day doing normal things. Got a referral to a retina specialist at IU per Dr Z's suggestion. Apparently, I have "floaters" and he wants me to have them checked out by a retina specialist. Was able to get an appointment to follow my brain MRI and appointment with Dr H next Tuesday. So, I will spend most of the day on Tuesday at IU Hospital.

With Alaska behind us and no new trip scheduled yet, will be doing typical stuff for a while. Which means, work and medical stuff for both Jill and me.  And, we are looking forward to a short visit from Julie next week.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reflection on Alaska

Now that we've been home a couple days, I can reflect on the Alaska trip. As cruises go, it was a very good vacation. Alaska remains our favorite cruise destination.

The wildlife viewing was exceptional as always. Kodiak was a little disappointing - or we had overly high expectations. Seeing the pod of killer whales at Juneau so close to the excursion boat for about 20 minutes was outstanding and was a cruising highlight. I think I got my best-ever whale tail picture.

Entertainment onboard was just OK. Lorna Luft put on an unexpected, fabulous show - maybe one of the best we have seen on a cruise ship. However, much of the performances by the ship's show group was too obviously pre-recorded and blah.

Food in the dining room was generally good - as was the Lido Cafe. The Pinnacle Grill was outstanding. I admit that I ate a lot and gained 4 lbs. I don't usually have dessert after every lunch and dinner!

We, again, had very enjoyable dinner partners. And, we continue to prefer the "old style" assigned seating for dinner.

Scenery was awesome, as expected, and we confirmed that Hubbard Glacier is "the" glacier to see. Glacier Bay can't compare. Butchart Gardens remains an incomparable place to visit.

Travel to/from Seattle through Atlanta was grueling and we must only do a direct flight (and not so early) next time.

The ship, the HAL Amsterdam, was good. We did have glitches - like the toilet required 4 or 5 plumber visits. But, in general, it continues to be a nice ship after 10 years. The concierge at the Neptune Lounge (for suites only) was very friendly and helpful.

As always, I am very glad that we visited Alaska once again.

Good News

Well...the good news for today is that my lung cancer is still stable/in remission. No treatment needed at this time. Next follow-up in mid-August.

Next, the eye doc tomorrow.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cruise food

Apparently, I haven't discussed food enough. are some added comments.

Most of the food was what I would call typical cruise ship food. I had a variety - steak, salmon, chicken, and lamb. Desserts were typically very good. If a dessert included chocolate mousse or was souffle, I had it. For some reason, I ate a lot more bread/butter than usual.

Jill ate small portions - usually mainly the protein - beef or chicken.

We ordered breakfast in our cabin almost every day. Went to the dining room once; but, ate the same things. So we figured there was no reason to bother leaving the cabin early. Most lunches were in the Lido Restaurant. Stir-fried rice or noodles with chicken or beef. Bread pudding and chocolate bread pudding most days.

A few times we had to eat on the run due to excursion timing. Missed a couple lunches.

I can't wait to get home on a scale. I think I have actually gained a few pounds. But, I'm sure that Jill probably lost wait since she ate such small amounts at all meals.

So...that's the food update.


Yesterday was our day at Buschart Gardens. Always beautiful plants and flowers. We had about 90 minutes on our own. We used about an hour before we were pretty much pooped. Jill did a little shopping and we returned to the bus early.

Getting off the ship was a chore. Crowds crammed into hallways, stairways and elevator lobbies. It was a zoo. On the bus, I commented to someone from the Cruise Directors staff about the people packed like sardines and the safety issue. She told me that, if I was going to just complain, she would change seats on the bus. When Jill and I started to explain how other cruises have controlled such crowds, she blamed the passengers and said this is how they have handled such things for 3 years. It's a irritating story and she was ruder than anyone I have ever encountered on any cruise.

The wind was cold and biting. When we got off the ship, we had about a 100 yard walk to the busses. It was much worse coming back because we had to walk directly into the wind - one of those winds where you must lean into it to walk.

But, at the Gardens, it was quite pleasant. We both had to take off a couple layers. Lots of flowers - I don't know the names. But, very pretty. They have Rose, Japanese, Italian, and Sunken Gardens. We cut a few short because they involved too many steps or long upward slopes.

Didn't get back to the ship until 8pm - too late for our regular dinner. Luckily, we had made reservations in the Pinnacle Grill. We ate in this special restaurant 3 times. The food is as good as any top notch restaurant on land. I had filet mignon twice and lamb chops once. Chocolate souffle and creme brulee were great. Jill had filet mignon, a beef skewer and a chicken/turkey skewer - all were delicious but too much food for her. She went for the souffle all three nights.

It was a very late evening - complicated by the fact that we had to pack for departure today. We are taking advantage of expedited luggage handling. Once we put our luggage out last night, it goes directly to the airline and we don't see it until the Indy airport. Hope it works well.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Juneau - killer whales

Well...what a great day in Juneau. Took our usual whale watching excursion. How exciting to see a pod of about 6+ killer whales - adults and a juvenile. They came within feet of the boat and even swam under the boat. Even the guides were obviously excited because they said they see killer whales very seldom.

We also saw many humpback whales - including a young humpback breeching (jumping) completely out of the water. Many of the whales were very close. Sea lions, a sea otter (apparently very rare in Juneau), eagles. Today was a superb day for wildlife. Cloudy, rainy, 50's.

We also saw Mendenhall Glacier; but, it is saw much smaller than the first time we saw it. It is retreating about 500 feet per year. Soon, it will not be worth a stop.

Hubbard Glacier

Day at Hubbard Glacier yesterday. It is absolutely the best viewing for glaciers in Alaska. I took a few pics - but not many since we've been here twice before.

We are in Juneau today for our usual whale-watching. Based on history, we expexted the viewing to be good.


Day in Kodiak today. We were very interested in visiting - and I think our expectations were a bit high. We went on a wildlife viewing excursion. It was a little chilly but very sunny. Our small excursion boat carried just five of us plus the captain and a narrator.

During the first two hours, it was basically a very scenic boat ride. Finally, during the last two hours, we saw lots of puffins and other birds. The narrator wasn't terribly good with identifying the birds. He was more an area history expert. We also saw several dozen sea lions grouped on rocky islands.

We certainly hoped to see more. But, it's wildlife and there is never a guarantee that you'll see anything.

We will spend tomorrow cruising Hubbard Glacier. In the past, it has been much better glacier-viewing than Glacier Bay. Hope that will be true tomorrow.

Homer, AK

Spent today in Homer. Can't say that I ever expected to be here on a cruise. Town of a couple thousand literally "at the end of the road". We went on a wildlife viewing boat trip. Saw sea otter, seal, eagles, mountain goat, puffins, muirs (sp?), cormorants, black tipped kitty winks (sp?), loads of other kinds of birds.

For anyone who watches Deadliest Catch, we saw the Time Bandit. Also saw Readout Volcano - the one that erupted in the last few months and delayed flights into/from Anchorage. Saw several other volcanos that apparently erupt every 10 to 15 years.

We head to Kodiak tomorrow. Will be on another wildlife excursion.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Beautiful day in Anchorage. Sunny and warm. We went downtown for a little shopping. Jill got a few very nice sweaters. The port is industrial. So, they offered frequent shuttle busses to downtown.

Glacier Bay

Yesterday, we spent the day cruising Glacier Bay. It is always awesome to see the huge, majestic landscape in this area. Unfortunately, it is clear that the glaciers are much reduced from our last visit here.

Some of the glaciers have retreated so much that they no longer reach to the water. They are melting faster than the growth of the ice pack. Much of Glacier Bay is now dirt/rocks without snow or ice cover. That doesn't diminish from the expanse of the bay; but, it is obvious that the glaciers are shrinking. We spent about 9AM until 4:30PM in Glacier Bay.

In general, it has been pretty chilly. Mid-40's in Glacier Bay. Highs in the mid-50's other days. We have had a bit of sun; but, it has been cloudy most days. Rain one day on the ship and light sprinkles one day.

Sunset at about 10:30PM. Right now, at 11:50PM, it is gray - but not dark. We don't see when it actually gets dark since we're sleeping. When I woke up briefly at about 5:00AM, it was already light outside.

Entertainment was special last night with Lorna Luft singing. She is the daughter of Judy Garland and the half-sister of Liza Minelli. She has a strong voice that is similar to her mother & sister. It was a great show - she is a strong performer/entertainer. Jill and I think this may be one of the strongest shows we've seen on a cruise ship.

Lazy day at sea today. Saw dozens of humpback whales from the ship. Had a good meal at the separate Italian restaurant - Canolletto's. Played trivia - won some, lost some.

I've been eating quite a bit. So, maybe I've put on some weight. Will see when we get home. Relaxing and naps most afternoons. Sometimes Jill goes to the casinos. She's up so far.

Tomorrow, we dock in Anchorage. We will be there for a long day. Don't have an excursion and don't know if we'll get off the ship. Depends on whether Jill wants to shop. I guess we'll decide after breakfast in our cabin.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sitka & Skagway

We spent yesterday in Sitka where we took a wildlife viewing excursion. As usual, Alaska is beautiful. We saw humpback whales, a grey whale (our first), sea otters, eagles, a dolphin, a seal and a large brown bear on shore. It was a good day to see the wildlife.

Today, we are in Skagway. We walked around town and shopped. Nice little town with multicolored clapboard buildings and wooden boardwalks on both sides of the street.

Don't know if I'll have service tomorrow because we will be in Glacier Bay.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Boarding on Monday was pretty smooth. Our luggage was handled through HAL & the Fairmont - they hauled it straight to our cabin. We got on a bus provided by HAL.

We boarded a little before the cabins were ready; but, we were invited to the dining room for lunch - rather than the buffet on the Lido deck. It was nice to avoid the crush of people.

Our cabin is a nice suite (like we have had before) and we are directly across from the Neptune Lounge - the Concierge lounge for suite cabin only.

Yesterday was a day at sea. We saw about a dozen dolphins from our verandah. Other than that, it was just a relaxing day of doing basically nothing.

We had breakfast delivered to the cabin - way too chilly to eat on the verandah. Had lunch in the Lido - I would prefer to avoid that as much as I can. Met our dinner tablemates - a couple from Edmonton and a couple from the San Fernando Valley in CA. Good conversation the past two nights.

We arrived in Ketchican early this morning. It rains 162" average each year - more than 200 days per year. No surprise that it is raining today. We ventured off ship and shopped a few blocks before we had both had enough and returned to the ship and our warm cabin. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday in Seattle

Dinner in the room last night. Excellent chicken noodle soup. Shared a steak sandwich.

Slept well. We both really needed it. Breakfast at Bella's - a French pastry place attached to the hotel. You can't beat a good chocolate croissant and caffe latte.

Took a Duck Tour of the city this morning. It was a little chilly; but they provided wool blankets. Very energetic, entertaining driver. Saw the house where much of Sleepless In Seattle was filmed. And, we heard many stories about Seattle history. As usual, it was an interesting 90 minute tour.

Then, we went to the aquarium. It was a good option for a brief activity. It was packed with families. We were both pooped by the time we finished the aquarium. We had planned on eating in the aquarium area; but, we just took a taxi back to the hotel.

When we got back to the hotel, we went to the Terrace where they could get Jill a cup of the chicken noodle soup that I liked last night (even though it wasn't on their menu) and I had very good clam chowder. With the bread and crackers, it was a good lunch for us.

Now it's time for a nap. We have almost adjusted to the time difference. But all that morning activity and walking has worn us out. I think we'll go back to Shuckers for dinner.

We board the ship tomorrow. Since our room tonight is compliments of Holland America, we have instructions for luggage handling and shuttle to the ship. They will take our luggage from our hotel room to our cabin on the ship. So, we don't need handle all the big luggage. If all goes well, we'll be on the ship mid-day tomorrow. Can't wait.
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Adjusting to local time after a grueling travel day. Yesterday started with a huge problem. Our limo didn't show up for a 4:15AM pickup. It was already bad enough that we needed to leave in the middle of the night. Being forced at the last minute to cram luggage into our own car and drive to the airport later than planned. We had never been to the new airport on our own. It was very hectic/stressful since we had to figure it out while we knew we were late.

I dropped Jill off at curb side luggage service. The AirTran guy saw that we clearly needed help. He helped take all 5 bags from our car to the check stand and gave me directions to parking. He also sent a wheelchair attendant to meet me along the walk from parking. This attendant pushed us both through security - allowing us to bypass the long line at security. By the time we got to the gate, the plane was already half boarded. The wheelchair attendant took Jill to the plane and helped her get her carryon into the overhead. He then pushed me to the plane. I was one of the last to board. The doors were closed for departure very shortly after I got into my seat.

This was way too close!! Damn near missed the flight. Not a good way to start a vacation.

The flights were uneventful - Indy to Atlanta and Atlanta to Seattle. About 6 hours flying plus a layover in Atlanta. We landed in Seattle about 12:20PM - about 20 minutes early. Our driver found us at baggage claim, got us to the curb and brought the car to us.

Seattle weather was very cloudy and only 51 - quite chilly.

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel is very nice, very classy. Starting with the Bell Captain, we were treated very well. Everyone at Reception and the Concierge was very friendly and helpful.

Our lunch at Shuckers (in the hotel) was excellent. Apparently, this is one of the top-rated seafood restaurants in Seattle.
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Monday, May 17, 2010


We flew to Philadelphia yesterday. Brett & Arielle took us to dinner at Warm Daddy's - a Southern food place. Luckily, Arielle's brother joined us. Lots of leftovers for them to take home. I got jambalaya. Jill got huge beef ribs. Of course, Brett got fish - a large sampler. David had catfish and Arielle got ?? - don't remember. Excellent cornbread, black-eyed peas/rice, sweet potatoes, collards w/ bacon. Service wasn't the best. But, they were already very busy even though we went at 5:30.

This morning we went to Reading Terminal Market for breakfast. Unfortunately, my breakfast at the diner was just mediocre. Corned beef hash was only average. Potatoes were not good - something like sliced, rubbery boiled potatoes. Eggs were over easy rather than over medium as I ordered. At least they had cold whole milk.

Mid-day we went to Arielle's graduation ceremony. Typical long event with speakers and reading names of the graduates - only those in attendance. We only went to the separate, smaller ceremony for the Masters/PhD grads in the Arts & Sciences dept. Full school event was at the Penn football stadium and had around 6,000 grads.

They had a reception lunch in another tent next to the ceremony. As usual, I don't particularly care for that kind of meal.

Tonight, we went back to the Reading Terminal Market for a Philly steak sandwich - no cheese. Good sandwich. Huge. But, we enjoyed it. As far as I'm concerned, it was our best meal here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Penn Grad

We will be attending the grad of Brett's wife, Arielle. She has completed her Phd in Sociology and Demography. We will fly over the day before. Have plans to eat dinner with the kids.  We're staying at a downtown Philly hotel because we think it will easier to get from the hotel to the grad on the Penn campus and back via taxi. Not renting a car. We will be going to the afternoon ceremony about 1pm. The early grad ceremony will be at the Penn football stadium with many thousands of people. That would be physically difficult for both of us. The smaller ceremony should be better for us to handle. I hope things go well. This will likely be the last time we see them in Philly since they are moving to NC late summer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

lots of driving but eyes good

Yesterday, I had a very typical day at the office - email, meetings, stuff. When the final meeting ended about 5:30 EST, I hit the road and drove to Joliet (about 3 1/2 hours drive time) to see the eye doc for a follow-up. Just north of Indy, I had to go through a patch of monsoon rain and lightning. Got to Jill's Mom's place about 9PM CST. She has been very kind to let us/me stay with her during all the trips for my eyes. This morning I sat around and responded to emails. My appt was in the afternoon and went very well. Dr Z confirmed that both eyes are 20/20 - which is considered normal vision. He told me that I can go back to normal activities (bending over, lifting something over 20 lbs, etc) and I don't need to wear the patch any longer. I will still have a regimen of drops in both eyes for four more weeks.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

McD's on Saturday

Well, Jill didn't want to go to lunch. So...I got to pick and I picked McDonalds. I haven't been there for lunch for a very long time. OMG!! I certainly found out where all the grandparents and grandkids are hanging out on Saturday. The place was packed with moms, dads, grandparents and kids of all ages. I looked around for signs saying it was "discount for families" day. I got a Big Mac meal - with fries and root beer. It's nice that I don't need to worry about calories or fat. I lucked into a table close/facing the counter and enjoyed the people-watching. Grandparents trying to figure out what the grandkids wanted. Parents telling the kids what they could have. Kids smiling about their Happy Meal toy. All in all, it was a fun and interesting lunch. Who would have thought I could enjoy just going to McD's?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Normal vision

I can't even begin to describe what it is like to have normal vision again. Both eyes have been corrected to 20/20. I need to wear reading glasses. But, I had to wear them before the problem started with the cataracts. After I made the roughly 4-hour drive home today after seeing Dr Z, one of the first things I did was to check all the reading glasses I already own. They all are suitable and I can read well. Basically, I am back to were I was after lasik (7 or 8 years ago) and pre-cataracts (past 9 months).

During the drive, I got to thinking about what would have been my situation many years ago before someone figured out how to remove cataracts and implant artificial lenses. I could tell that my vision was getting worse just about every week. Everything was blurry. I couldn't read street signs. I had to be within 8 inches to see my computer screen. I suppose 100's of years ago I would have just simply gone blind. Eventually, I may have just seen colors and blurry shapes. That would have sucked.

I still have a couple follow-up appointments. But, all the real work is done. I will now be able to see well when we go to Alaska!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

right eye cataract surgery

Cataract surgery on right eye today. Seems to have gone well. A little gunky right now from all the drops and the clear plastic protective patch. But, even with all that, I can see much better. By tonight I should have good vision in both eyes.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day before second cataract surgery

Today was a follow up with Dr Z and prep for surgery on my right eye. He is very happy with the left eye surgery. So am I. I see very well with my left eye. Dr Z did, however, say that I will need to use reading glasses - as I did pre-cataracts.

Surgery on the right eye is tomorrow morning. With the "twilight" anesthetic, I imagine I will sleep most of Tuesday as I did last week. Dr Z expects the right eye surgery to go just as well as the left eye.

If, however, I need reading glasses, I may have an issue posting here or reading/answering emails on my blackberry. I didn't think about bringing any reading glasses. We'll see.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

left eye cataract surgery follow up

Follow up with eye Dr went well. My left eye vision is corrected to 20/20!! Can't wait for surgery on the right eye next week.

Directions are that I shouldn't exert myself - just sit, watch TV, nap, don't lift anything, don't bend over, don't do anything strenuous.

I must put the patch back on to sleep so I don't rub or scratch the eye while sleeping. Two different drops four times per day. With all the sitting, I'll certainly have time to remember the drops.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

left eye surgery

Cataract surgery on my left eye is complete. After a last-minute checkup yesterday, I started eye drop,  went to the surgery center at 7:30 this morning. After check-in, I changed into one of those fashionable hospital gowns. Over a period of time, the nurse put 12 drops in m left eye - to dialate and numb the eye. When they were satisfied, I was taken to an operation room for the surgery. I was given a "twilight" drug. I wasn't really knocked out; though, I guess some people experience that effect from the drug. I was aware and conscious throughout the procedure. Lots of colors and no pain. After a few minutes, the Dr said he was done. They put a protective, clear plastic patch on my eye and wheeled me to recovery where I transferred to a lounge chair similar to the chairs used for chemo. A nurse brought me crackers a d apple juice for a snack. It didn't take long before I felt OK and we left. I have more eye drops for the rest of the day. When I took of the patch to put in drops, I could already see much better. Much brighter. I go in for a follow-up. Apparently, my vision will continue to improve over the next couple days. I will probably be able to remove to patch tomorrow.  So far, so good. Right eye next week.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

another long day

Another long day Wedn at the conference. This morning I had a big breakfast in my room to avoid the under-nurishment of yesterday. Went with MT to see Forum Shops and a new competitive property. Lots of walking. But, I handled it OK. Trade show opened at noon and I was outrageously busy all afternoon. Finally got out for 1/2 hour to get a snack. Returned to the show for a completely full schedule until 6pm - when I was scheduled to have dinner with our reps who are here. MT and I went to that dinner with the 5 reps and I headed to bed right after - already 9pm by the time I got to the room. Productive day; but way too tiring for me. I basically passed out again in my bed. Woke up in time to prepare for a breakfast meeting. Then, to a taxi for MT and me. Now, waiting for our flight.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What a day!

Today I started my first out-of-town business trip in a very long time. Took a 4 1/2 hour flight to Vegas to attend the SPREE conference. MT, my new boss, came with me

Turned out to be a very productive day. But, I am wiped out. My feet are killing me. I walked more and stood more than I have in years. Had the chance to visit with many friends - haven't seen some of them in years. They have all been kind and supportive. Pre-diagnoses, pre-chemo and pre-radiation today would have been a blast. I am very glad I came to the conference. But, I know I will pay for it with a very worn out body.

With long flight and 3-hour time zone change, my body is out of whack and I haven't eaten as well as normal. Tomorrow I have a very full day. Visiting local properties with MT and, then, we have a full afternoon of meetings.

I miss Jill. I can't even remember the last time when she wasn't with me. But, I think it would have been even harder on her to make this trip. She will also have a rough day tomorrow - filled with more testing and seminars re: treatment. It will be a rough day for her and I will wish that I was with her to help her through it. I will be thinking of her all day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

eye ultrasound & cataracts

Had an ultrasound on both eyes on Friday. The process was pretty quick. These measurements will be used to determine the proper artificial lens implant to use for each eye. I have a total of eight more appointments to complete the entire process. The surgery will involve making a very small incision. Then, a probe will be inserted and the doctor will use ultrasound vibration to break up my current very cloudy lens. The tiny pieces of the lens are then suctioned out. A new artificial lens implant is inserted through the same small incision and I will go through a recovery process. The doctor will do my left eye first and, one week later, he will do the right eye. It is not likely that I will be able to drive during this time; so, we will be staying with Jill's Mom in Joliet. Jill will drive until I am able to see sufficiently to drive. I can't wait for the surgery so that I can see without the fog and poor focus that I currently experience. It will be nice to really see colors again. Just nine days to go.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

still stable

Saw Dr Einhorn today. He reviewed the Xrays that were done this morning and says that I continue to be stable. No treatments. He also commented that it is now 13 months since the discovery of brain lesions; and, that none of those lesions had grown. Scheduled a 2-month follow up for mid-June. He discussed my weight loss and went through my weights when I have visited him since August. 37 lbs lost since then. I told him he should go back a few more months because that's only half of it. I have lost 74 lbs since last April. He actually seemed to be fine with it since he said that I was clearly too heavy and that might have contributed to some of my problems - like shortness of breath.

Next up, I start the cataract surgery process Friday with an ultrasound to measure for the new artificial lens size.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Day

Got a new blazer today. First that I have bought since losing 74 lbs. Much smaller.  Last night, I tried on every suit coat/blazer that I own. All were much too big - overlapped around 8 to 10". Thought about it on my drive downtown. Stopped by Leon Tailoring - close to downtown - before going to the office. Never been there before. Small, family-owned shop that has been open 102 years.

Turns out they had a blazer in stock and they could tailor it to me - TODAY. And, I didn't have to pay for alterations. Now I have a very nice blazer for the Alaska cruise and for the conference in a couple weeks. I've never owned one tailored this well. It's not custom-make; but, it's probably as close as I will get.

And, this is a two-fer day. I also got the written notice that our home mortgage is now fully paid off. No more home mortgage payment. Hurray!!

Jill visited the doctor who did her stem cell transplant eight years ago and has been treating her since. He told her yesterday that her amyloidosis has been stable long enough that they now have many new treatment options in the event the amyloidosis becomes active.

Nothing really new about my health. Too much good news to talk about instead.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cataract process

Well, I start the cataract surgery process on both eyes in about two weeks. First, I apparently get an ultrasound to measure and determine the size lens inserts I will need. Then, in about ten days after the ultrasound, I get the surgery on my left eye. As I understand it, this surgery is a little less complicated than lazik which I had 7 or 8 years ago. The doctor will make a small incision and zap/remove the lens/cataract. Then, he will insert the new lens. After a few days monitoring for issues, I will get the second surgery on my right eye. I understand that my vision should improve immediately - as it did when I had lazik.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Saw Dr Zlioba in Joliet this morning. He confirmed that my vision has deteriorated quite a bit. I could get new lenses; but, they can't correct my vision fully.
He feels that it is time to do cataract surgery asap. He could do the surgery in the next couple weeks; but, he would not want me to travel. So, we will do it beginning the week after I attend a business conference in Las Vegas in mid-April.
Over a two week period he will do one eye one week and the other eye the next week. This expedited process will require that I stay in Joliet for almost two weeks. But, this will get both eyes done the quickest. And, I will have almost a month to heal before Alaska. He wants me to have a few weeks to heal before travelling.
So...I need to put up with so-so vision for just a few more weeks.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Back to work

Have now been back home for about a week. Has actually been sunnier here in Indy than it was in the Caribbean. Not much different during that past week or so. Since I keep up on my email with my blackberry, I didn't have lots to catch up on at the office. Just had to review a few email with attachments that are difficult to read on the small screen.

Since my vision has continued to deteriorate, I moved up my eye doc appointment. I go in this coming Saturday. Will find out if he recommends replacing the lenses in my new glasses or if I am getting close to doing the cataract surgery. I'm kinda hoping for lenses for now so that I can see better when we go to Alaska in late May/early June.

My health is, otherwise, very good. Just the usual aches & pains and a little cough. Gained a couple pounds during the cruise; but, I have leveled off at my pre-cruise weight. No treatments at the moment.

Jill has been undergoing various tests during the past week or so. So far, she has passed everything with flying colors. She has been having pain in her back - probably her kidneys. She sees her kidney doc soon - maybe tomorrow or next Thursday. We'll see if he recommends that she prepare for dialysis. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday and more

The glass bottom boat turned out to be like our cruise. We were looking forward to it; but, it didn't turn out to be worth it. Certainly, we have enjoyed taking the vacation. But, it hasn't been the warm up we had hoped for. And, the smaller, more expensive cruiseline simply did not deliver for us. We will not be back on this cruiseline.

Well...we won trivia again. From the looks of some others, we have apparently become "that team". We won about 4 out of 7 or 8 times. We were very lucky that we had good team mates.

We sure have enjoyed the afternoon tea. Chocolate chip scones today with clotted cream and jam.

Tonight, they are showing the Oscars in the show lounge - in Spanish!! Apparently, the show will be on TNT from somewhere in Latin America. Should be interesting.

Docked. Waiting for our turn to disembark. It's over.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday and Saturday more

Before I move on to Sunday, we won trivia again on Saturday. So far we have won three times out of about six. Tonight's show by the ship's crew (Motown) was very good.

Immigration early tomorrow and, then, Key West. Finished immigration quickly. Just waiting for our excursion time. Don't know temp yet; but, it is very sunny.

Know now that, whatever the actual temp, it is quite chilly here in Key West. Probably about mid 60's. We took a glass bottom boat ride. Didn't see much - water had been stirred up by winds and waves the past few days.

Last excursion is over and we have our dinner tonight in the "special" restaurant. Jill has ordered filet mignon. I will pick either the filet or lamb.

Tonight we pack - Jill's least favorite time during any trip. Travel day tomorrow - at least we don't need to connect. We have a direct flight from Ft Lauderdale to Indy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday at sea

Day at sea - we slept in, of course. The butler brought me a double order of blueberry pancakes. Of course, I ate them all. Wasn't very hungry at lunch. Spent some time reading in the library and watch a bit of Iron Chef type cooking competition between a group of passengers vs ship officers.

Naturally, we napped. Getting ready for afternoon tea and trivia. Still not hungry; but, I will probably have tea and a scone with clotted cream/jam.

We continue sailing to Key West. We should arrive tomorrow morning and will spend the day in Key West.

Friday in Costa Maya

Well... Today our ship is docked at Costa Maya, Mexico - but, we didn't get off the ship. Had planned to get off briefly; but, Jill didn't feel 100% and we just stayed onboard and relaxed.

Nothing really different. Really good breakfast in our cabin. I've discovered that they make very good blueberry pancakes.

Then, we sat by the pool for a few minutes. Lunch at the buffet - good rice pudding.

Nice long nap this afternoon. Tea again this afternoon - followed by a surprising win at trivia.

Getting ready for dinner - followed by the show. I guess you could say that we're in a rut - a nice relaxing rut. Day at sea tomorrow.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday - Roatan

Roatan is one of the places with what I think is some of the best snorkeling. But...can't handle that. So, we stayed onboard for a very relaxing day. I got a massage and Jill read by the pool. She took a bubble bath this afternoon - while I napped. No other plans. We'll have dinner and see the show tonight by the ship's singers and dancers.

Wednesday more

OK, after such a tiring excursion, it is time for some other general info. We will be staying onboard for the next few days. We haven't booked any excursions until Key West on Sunday. Nothing but relaxing for three days.

Breakfast in our cabin has been very good for me. Jill doesn't as much; so, I think she has been OK with breakfast.

For lunch, we have been doing the buffet - but we missed lunch due to excursions on a couple of days. The buffet has been just OK. Nothing particularly bad - but the Holland America buffet at the Lido Restr is much better.

Afternoon tea, served in one of the lounges, has been excellent. Not a great sandwich selection. But, the desserts have been very good.

Dinners have also been mostly OK. A few things have been very good and others have been average.

The ship, the Navigator, has been very good for us. At just 500 passengers, it is a good size for us. Everything is within comfortable distance.

The evening entertainment in the show lounge has been very good. The ship's singers and dancers are as good as any we have seen. The other performers have been fun and very entertaining.

The butler has been reserved and not particularly outgoing; but, in general, he gets the job done. Not as good as the butler we had on Celebrity or the Concierges that we have had on Holland America. Cabin Stewardess has been very friendly and has done a very good job.

Waiters in the dining room have been much better the last few days. I get the impression that they have heard our complaints and must gotten our pics from when we boarded. They have clearly known who we are. Our waiter tonight addressed Jill by name even before we told him that she had a special order meal. And, they have been bringing two iced teas to avoid needing to refill.

I am now even more strongly opposed to open seating. Besides repeating the same initial conversation topics every night (boring!), it definitely feels as if many of the staff are not as motivated to please since they know the ship is "no tipping". It's too bad since we would normally tip extra for exceptional service by waiters and cabin staff. It is not likely that we will tip extra for this cruise.

Oh, second in trivia again today. And, Jill didn't go to the casino again today. Apparently, she is often unable to get a slot machine that she likes and she says the slots are very tight.


Well...let's start by saying that our excursion today is what Jill called the Excursion from Hell. Certainly, we understand that nobody can control the weather/temp. But, that was the worst ride on a small boat that we have ever experienced. I thought my spine was going to be shattered by the extreme banging at the speed we were going in a flat-bottomed boat. For most of the almost hour ride each way, we tucked down our heads, held onto our hats, froze and took a real bruising on our butts and backs.

This was one of the only excursions that we paid for and I was quite put off that they clearly solicited donations for the school we visited. Also, their excursion description definitely did not help us to understand the difficulty of the steep, uphill walk and the many even stairs. It turned out to be an extreme challenge for both of us. The guide actually said "Of course we don't tell you. If we did, you wouldn't come". The only break in the beating that was the return boat trip was when they stopped the boat for about ten minutes for little kids in dug out canoes to badger us and try to harass us into buying their sea shell and trinkets. Certainly, we have experienced that type of thing before; but, it has never been so blatantly initiated by an excursion operator. We will try to find time tonight or tomorrow to lodge a complaint with the ship's staff.

More later.


Not a lot to write about today - and, we need to get to sleep. Early start tomorrow for us.

Jill stayed on the ship today in Belize. Got a facial, took a nap and relaxed. She is feeling well today. I went on an airboat tour. Saw loads of birds and quite a few crododiles. Nice afternoon tea. Our team won trivia today.

Good dinner. Very improved service. Entertaining show by the ship's singer and orchestra.


Cozumel Day Two. Today we were booked on a Cozumel Highlights and Shopping tour. Turns out that Jill wasn't feeling well about an hour into the 4 1/2 cruise. We just got back on the bus after the first stop and took the bus ride around the island since it turned out we were seeing most of the same things we saw yesterday.

The bus took us "downtown" to shop. Didn't take long to realize that most stores were the same as other islands. Diamonds Int'l and others of that type. So, we headed back to the bus pickup spot and just waited a few minutes for the bus back to the ship.

We missed lunch due to the tour - not a good thing for Jill. But, we can go to dinner in about 90 minutes.

Jill decided she needs a "do nothing" day tomorrow. So, I returned her excursion ticket.

Oh, I got a call from the concierge today. She said "I know that you cruise a lot and wanted to see if there is anything we can do for you to enjoy the rest of your cruise". I told her about some of our problems. We'll see...

Tonight we sail for Belize.


Well...Jill wanted to swim with the sting rays today. She figures this might be her last chance. But, that was not to be due to the weather. We skipped Grand Cayman and headed to Cozumel - where we docked this morning. Quite a night with very high swells. We will stay overnight and have another day in Cozumel tomorrow.

They offered most of the same excursions - so, we went on a sightseeing bus and saw local folk dancing. It was interesting and a chance for us to get off the ship for a few hours. On past visits to Cozumel, we have snorkeled the barrier reef - beautiful. This is where I fell in love with snorkeling. It would be nice; but, my snorkeling days are probably over.

Tonight, I had my best dinner so far - broiled red snapper. Unfortunately, service has not improved. Three nights, different waiters but similar inadequate service. Had to ask three times for sugar for our iced tea. Finally, he brought a container with lots of pink, blue and yellow chemicals and one real sugar. So, I had to ask him again for sugar - real sugar - artificial sweeteners.

One of our tablemates got very frustrated when she waited forever and had to flag down someone to refill her water. This was the second time they sat with us at dinner and the second time she had the same issue. She said she has cruised with Regent and has never before had such poor service.

Waited more than 1/2 hour for dessert menus after they cleared our table. I could go on about quite a few other things. But...clearly, we will not be sailing on Regent again. Most things are simply OK and are definitely not worth the considerably higher cost. I realize that we are being picky. But, that is supposed to be why we paid the high premium to be on Regent.

It is, however, a good thing to be in weather that is much warmer than home. And, we are getting lots of relaxing time. It was sunny all day today. Not sure of the temp; but, I did get chilly in short sleeves. Taking a sweater on our excursion tomorrow.

I have been feeling very well. Jill is doing pretty well. She has felt a little funky a few times - but not for an extended time. She was bothered a little by the waves yesterday.


Breakfast was great. 2 fried eggs, 2 pieces of crispy bacon, 2 pieces of toast with strawberry jam. Potatoes sat on my plate looking like McD's hash browns. Grapefruit juice seemed fresh-squeezed.

Watched a lecture about the original people in the Caribbean and took a short nap afterward - not during the lecture.

Weather is rainy and a bit chilly. Since there will be no poolside activities, they are showing Julie & Julia in the show lounge this afternoon.

Lunch was OK. I had small portions of Caribbean Chicken, Beef Shortribs and Red Snapper. Also had linguine with bolognese sauce - which I finished since it was the best of the bunch. Chocolate banana roll was excellent.

After an afternoon of rough seas, the captain just announced that we will not go to Grand Cayman tomorrow. Really too bad because Jill was looking forward to swimming with the stngrays. Instead, we will continue on our sail to Cozumel and we will now spend an overnight in Cozumel. We were just planning to shop there; so, now I guess we'll have another lazy day on the ship.

Based on the captain saying that the swells were about 16 feet earlier today and it is worse now, I would guess the swells to now be 20 to 25 feet. Temps seem to be around 55 or 60.

Decent dinner tonight despite the very rough seas. Only one crash of plates. Initially, they cancelled the show that included dancers - unsafe. Now, they have also cancelled the show that was to be musicians. They are showing another movie - one that we have seen. So...Jill headed to the casino and I will look for something on TV in the cabin.

Friday boarding

OK, I'm going to try to give impressions based on what I expected from Regent. Arriving at the terminal building, their organization was good and we pretty much went right through registration and boarding.

Being almost 1:30, we looked for food for lunch. We came across the pool grill which had burgers, brats, beef (maybe roast) and typical pasta and potato salads, lettuce salads. The brat was very good - or maybe I just haven't had one for a while. Everything else was like what might be served at a office picnic.

Unfortunately, we later found another buffet location that might be more to our liking. We'll try it tomorrow.

Staying with the food theme, it appears that I have a good selection of fresh fruit in the suite. I will certainly nibble on it tonight.

Dinner was OK. Jill's rice was excellent but the shrimp were tough. My pumpkin soup was good but the salmon not fabulous. Plain grilled with no sauce. Cut veggies were decorative. Baked potato was acceptable. Another at our table said her potato was not fully cooked. Creme Brulee was commercial - nothing special.

Biggest issue was the lack of beverage service. Jill and I got iced tea - what the waiter referred to as American Champagne - like he was looking down on us for just drinking tea rather their wines and mixed drinks. Unfortunately, those drinking wine at our table had glasses filled numerous times while Jill, another drinking water and I were basically left alone with empty glasses. It took quite a while to get anyone's attention. I finally talked with a Maitre de' and we suddenly had four glasses of tea. They finally filled Linda's water glass.

This was certainly not the kind of service we had expected. I contend that this is a negative of the open seating where a waiter doesn't serve you every night. But, hopefully, this will get better in the next few days. I am not yet a member of the "Regent is so much better club". I'll come back to this after a few more days.

It was a bit extravagant to have the butler unpack my luggage and hang/fold everything. But, he got things put away lickety-split. Cabins seem a little tight on drawer space.

The Regent Version of the Penthouse Suite is OK. Much smaller that the Royal Ste on Celebrity. 20-30% smaller than the Concierge Ste on Holland.

Tomorrow, while at sea, we will observe other things - TV entertainment options, other onboard entertainment, etc. As we settle in, we will certainly enjoy ourselves. Our comparisons will answer the simple question "Would we sail Regent again?"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Taxi in FL

Today started pretty well. Our ride picked us up a few minutes early - which was nice since it gave us extra time to get to the gate. Flight left a little late and arrived a little late - to be expected with all the bad weather around.

However, things went really bizarre when our taxi driver didn't have any idea how to get to our hotel - Spring Hill Suites Airport. He asked for the hotel name at least a dozen times as we drove. He asked if we had ever been there.

I finally, called the hotel and they told me we had gone too far and gave us directions. Our driver still couldn't handle it and I had to call the hotel again. I kept her on the phone and she said "Oh no, I can see your taxi and he just missed the turn."

Once we finally got there, he tried to tell me it was a Marriott even when I pointed at the Spring Hill Suites sign. He tried say it was my fault. It is owned by Marriott; but, it is not a Marriott. Just how slow and clear can you say Spring...Hill...Suites? And, how many times should need to give the exact address?

I asked him what he expected me to pay for that ride. I knew the meter was over $22 plus a $2 extra charge. He asked what I would pay and I told him I would pay $15. He shook his head and said that he would just give it to me free. Obviously, he didn't expect that I would say "OK" and went immediately to asking for the full fare - pointing at the meter. I handed him $20 - no tip. He took it and went away. I thought about taking his cab number but decided it wasn't worth the trouble. We decided it was as bad as our last car in Rome.

We checked in, got to our room and decided to order Chinese so we could watch the Olympics. Turned out the place we used (from the hotel-offered menus) was excellent. Hunan Wok II in Dania Beach. Way more food than we could eat; but, very reasonable price and delicious.

The rest of the night is Olympics and sleep. We take the hotel shuttle to the ship tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pants & Shirts

Well...yesterday I got a big box from Land's End. Loads of new pants and a couple shirts. Took all my old, larger pants out of the closets and replaced with the new pants which are 4" and 6" smaller. Will donate everything since they are all in good shape. I am hoping that I am about done with weight loss for now.72 lbs is absolutely enough.They also had a couple nice dress shirts which I bought at what we guessed is my new size. The shirts fit great. 2" smaller neck size. Now that I have confirmed the size, I will need to replace the rest of my dress shirts. Then, I will move on to the rest of the wardrobe. And, I don't need to shop Big Man sizes anymore!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

brain lesions

First, I was hit in the past few days by more than 150 attempted spam ad postings on my blog.  Thankfully, I learned how to change my settings after a few spam posts about a year ago.  Hopefully, I caught them all.

Today, I visited Dr Henderson to get the news regarding my MRI last week.  Happily, the news is that the lesions in my brain are stable.  No new lesions.  Current lesions not active.  Dr H discussed status of various side effects.  No new side effects and most previous side effects have reduced or subsided.  No neurological issues.  I am having a some short-term memory issues and a little difficulty coming up with words and names.  These are apparently common things after full-brain radiation and Dr H wasn't really concerned.  Go back for new MRI in late June.

I also saw my ENT this week regarding the tubes in my ears.  Everything is OK.  Go back for re-check in August.

So...lots of good news in the past few weeks.  I certainly realize that this will bite me eventually.  But, I am happy to take the good news for now.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Looks like I forgot to post regarding my appointment with Dr Einhorn this past Wednesday. Most important - my lung cancer continues in remission. In fact, he said that my CT scan looked very good compared to the last CT scan in July. So...I am not taking any meds/chemo or other treatments at this time. I am still approved for the test chemo from the NIH; but, will not start it until my lung cancer is active. My last extended remission was 18 months - that was August, 2007 to March, 2009. If I am lucky, maybe I won't have any chemo for a year or so. Will just have to wait and see what happens.

I see my radiation oncologist, Dr Hendersen, regarding the brain lesions on Feb 17 after getting an MRI on Feb 11. Haven't had any neurological side effects yet. So...hopefully I will get more good news. The radiation did cause the funkiness in my eyes and development of cataracts in both eyes. But, we are dealing with that and I will have cataract surgery when Dr Zlioba says I am ready.

Otherwise, no other real symptoms beyond the usual fatigue. It just slows me down and I need to limit activity. Thankfully, my very kind neighbor used his snowblower on my driveway last night and this morning. We got quite a bit of snow - maybe 8" or more. I'm pretty sure that would have been too much for me to handle.

And...tomorrow is the Super Bowl. We will be glued to the TV rooting for the Colts!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Clothes

Ordered some new pants & some shorts last week. I realized that my old shorts wouldn't fit me on the cruise. I took a shot and ordered a much smaller waist size. I had already gone down a size (2") but those pants & dress slacks are already way too loose. A few weeks ago, I ordered some jeans down another size (another 2"). Then last week I ordered another size smaller (yet another 2") and got the order today. I can't believe how small they look - couldn't believe I would fit into them. But...they fit quite well. Am now down 6" in the waist from about a year ago. That would be about 70 lbs. No more shopping at the Big Man shops.

This order was all casual shorts and pants. So, I will need to order some dress slacks for work. And, I will need to start replacing my shirts. I've been getting by wearing sweaters over my shirts. But, that won't work when it warms up. I don't think my weight will ever get back to as heavy as I was; so, I guess it's time to replace just about everything.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Football today and need clothes

Today is a real football day. First, the Colts play the NY Jets. Then, the Saints play the Vikings. Will be a fun day hunkered down in my chair watching football most of the day. Obviously, we will be hoping that the Colts win.

I have been doing pretty well. On Friday, I had a strange re-occurrence of the problems in my eyes - mainly just the right eye. During the afternoon, at work, the right eye started to get really itchy and watery. By the time I started to drive home, the right eye was blazing red and the lid was swelling. I managed to make it home and immediately put some of the Tobradex on the lower lid. Gradually got better during the evening and the red was gone by Saturday AM. Today, both eyes are pretty much back to what is normal for me - not perfect but acceptable.

Otherwise, most everything else is about normal for the circumstances. Pain in my right side is still there from the pleurodesis surgery last April. Have talked to the docs and this is, apparently, normal. The fatigue continues; but, I manage to deal with it. Just need a nap occasionally and I don't overdo activities.

Appetite is about the same. Not a lot of food is particularly interesting and I can't really taste some things. Typically, I just eat because I know I must.  Normally, I need to eat pretty small meals and I supplement with yogurt or a nutrition drink (Ensure plus). I am continuing to lose weight - but much slower. I lost just 1 to 2 lbs this past week or so.

I bought some pants/jeans that were down one size. Too bad I bought as many as I did because I have only gotten a few months at that size. Now, I got a pair of jeans down another size - but even they are loose. I may need to go down again. That will be down 6" in the waist. And, I will try to get through this winter; but, I will definitely need all new sweaters and shirts. Jill says that I am "swimming" in my sweaters. Lots of cashmere to replace. AMVETs will like picking up all the donated clothes during the next few months.

I also just realized last night that I need to buy some things for the cruise. I had totally forgotten about that and it is coming up fast. At a minimum, I will need to buy some shorts. I don't have any except for my original size. Jill and I will probably go through Land's End online to see what we can order. I don't really have the energy to do lots of store shopping; but, we might do a little. But, I have become so accustomed to buying online because few stores carried the big boy sizes that I needed before the 69 lb weight loss.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Off today for MLK day. Jill bowled - so...Jake and I went to Taco Bell for lunch. One of my favorites for fast food; but, Jill won't go there. Finished my burrito supreme. Had to save the bean burrito for a snack later. And, brought home cinnamon crisps for both Jill and me. Don't know what is in them; but, sure do like the cinnamon crisps.

This weekend was lots of football. Watched all or most of every playoff game. Colts play the Jets next weekend. We'll be in front of the TV for that game for sure.

I have been doing reasonably well. Haven't lost any weight in the past week. Eyes are watering. But, I can see reasonably well and my eyes aren't red. Another couple weeks before a spend quite a bit of doctor time during mid-Feb. ENT will check my ears and tubes. Radiation oncologist will get an MRI to check status of my brain lesions. Oncologist will get a CT to check whether my lung cancer is officially in remission. If the NIH agrees that I am in remission, will hold off on the NIH test drug until my lung cancer is active again. Hopefully, that will be quite a while.

All this just before we leave for a Caribbean cruise for a couple weeks. We are cruising on Regent Seven Seas for the first time. The Navigator is on the small side with just 500 passengers. Should be more comfortable for us.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I have forgotten to mention my appetite and weight for while. I haven't had much of an appetite for a while. And, my stomach bothers me if I eat much at one meal. But, I eat anyway because I know I must. I need to get better at eating more smaller meals.

Since about a year ago, I have dropped from 265 lbs (on my scale at home) to 197.5 lbs this morning. Dropped below 200 lbs 2 weeks ago - first time in many years. So, I am down about 67 lbs.

I had bought new pants a size smaller over the past few months. But, it looks like I need to go down another size. Luckily, I can make the others work for a while. They aren't falling off like my original size. New pants need to be 6" smaller than my old pants. Sure didn't expect that. It is now getting to the point where I might need to consider the size of other clothing.

Take care and be well. - JimA

Sent via Blackberry. Please excuse short answers and typos.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Doing pretty well.

Yesterday I saw Dr. Forkin. My annual physical was July and she wanted blood tests to be sure that my meds are at the right doses. So many different docs. She is my primary care physician and monitors the basics like blood pressure, cholesterol, kidney & liver function, normal blood test stuff and other basics that aren't cancer related. Happily, I was good on all things. I also discussed a couple other issues that I have. She said that the pain that I have in my right side is still remaining effects from the pleurodesis surgery done back in April - when they removed 1 1/2 gallons of fluid from the area of my right lung.

She also examined my eyes which have been bothering me for a week or so. Last Tuesday both eyes became very red, itchy, watery and crusty. This was much the same as a few months ago. On Wednesday, I started to use the ointment that was prescribed last time and my eyes have been better each day since. Most of the redness is gone and they aren't crusting up much. I am to use the ointment daily until 2 days after my eyes are what I consider normal. Dr F indicated that I do not have any infection in the eyes. As was the case before, it seems to be a result of eyelash loss from chemo. It is a relief to know that there isn't an infection. But, it sure is irritating again.

It has been cold - actually, frigid. We have a few inches of snow on the ground. Neighbor boy did the driveway once; but, we have had more snow since then. We just drove over it this morning when we went out to get groceries. I guess I may have to get help again since I can't really handle the snowblower.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years's 2010 - a New Year. Hopefully, this year will be a good one for us and for everyone else. We didn't do anything particularly exciting for New Year's Eve. Went to friend's house with soup. All the soups were very good. We used the leftover prime rib to make a beef/vegetable. But, we didn't make it very late. Jill didn't feel well and we returned home very early in the evening.

Took down the tree today. That is a bit of a chore for us. Brett and Arielle have decorated the tree the past few years. That is a big help for us since the tree and ornaments are stored downstairs in the basement. But, of course, everyone is gone when it is time to take down the tree and return things to the basement. We had been putting it off for a couple days; but, decided we had to get it done today since we have theater tickets tomorrow - The Color Purple. And, we host our euchre group next weekend. So...though everything is not re-organized in the basement, the tree is down.