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. So...here 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