Day 8 Florence to Milan

image Thank heavens we are out of this apartment today. I’m allergic to something in here…and so is Mary. I think it’s mould. Tonight should be interesting…we are sharing part of a house.

  1. imageDid a bit of shopping at Ponte Vecchio (first bridge) and bought Frick some Pandora charms of Italy. Bought Bobo some postcards of Firenze and 2 Christmas ornaments.

imageimage

 

 

 

 

 

Writing my blog on the Frecciarossa train. Mary got us Business class tickets. The seats are leather and super comfortable. The waiter popped open a bottle of champagne for us. We are going about 300 miles per hour on this train. So FAST!!! Love it.

Arrived in Milan and met our host Rodolpho. I think he’s weird. Mary & I didn’t realize AirB&B meant we were sharing a place (until it was to late to do anything about it).  I think he was suppose to provide us with breakfast.

I almost died when we got there and all I could smell was cigarette smoke. That isn’t going to help my lung situation. Seriously thought we should leave and try to find a hotel, but there is a furniture design convention in town and I knew the pickings would be slim and terribly expensive. We were stuck and would have to make the best of it. We had a full day tour the next day and would t be in the apartment long anyway. At least our room didn’t smell.

image

We went to an interesting part of town near canals. It was a lively place with lots of young people and outdoor cafes. For $10 euros we got a drink and buffet. Should have taken a pic. But I didn’t. Sorry. Lots of appetizers, salad, pasta and more. We thought that was a great deal until we got the shitters shortly thereafter. Crap! Mary was first. Then me. Had to find a place fast and get a coffee so we could go to the bathroom!

image

Found this handsome Italian dude….

 

 

image imageBridges….

image

I found a lovely, tres moderne lady on a slim canvas which I bought. There were some art shops around which we meanders though.

 

imageOne guy’s stuff was amazing….so realistic. He told me he studied the masters in school. It was pretty funny when I starting talking in Italian. The men always wanting me to keep talking to them because they were trying desperately to figure out where I was from. I think I amused them. Bru told me that while I was in Italy, my pronunciation was something akin to a peasant. Well, they loved it. Most of the people I met in Firenze and Milano were Calabreze which is where my parents are from. It was great. I felt at home. Whenever someone was firing something in Italian to her she would say, hang on a minute. Come find me and then I became translator.  Was fun.

 

Advertisements

Day 7 Venice: Gondola Ride, Here We Come!

Venice Day 7
imageYou have to check out these locks on our apartment doors. Am I missing something or is the security measures a little bit excessive?  Seven locks?

Lord help us if there is a fire in this place. I might as well jump out a window before I could figure out how to get out of this place with all these locks.

image

I cut my hair before I went on this trip. This is what happens after you wash it.

Just so you know. I look like a troll.

I do not give anyone premission to take this or any other photo or written work on my blog to use for there own purposes.  I hereby claim my own copyright.

All I need is for this photo to go viral.  (Well…at least I could make some money off of it so I could travel some more and pay for my cancer treatment!).  That would be good.
imageMary booked us first class tickets on a train to Venice. We got peanuts and an orange juice for the extra bucks.

 

imageWe took a sort of hop on hop off water boat and started exploring. Our first stop was called Ca’d’Oro. The gallery was small and had the most beautiful balcony. I got some great pictures there. The light reflecting from the floor was really neat. I think Mary should get these pics of her framed!

image

I think I want to take a photography course. Loved the way the light shone on the floor in all those cool patterns.

One of my favourite paintings at this place.

image

We travelled on the Grand Canal again and got off at Santa Maria Della Salute (mother Mary’s Church). Salute means health. I was in the right place to say a few prayers for me, some sick friends and those who passed. The church was built in honour of the Virgin Mary for casting out the plague in Venice.

image

Next on my list for sights to visit was the Punta Della Dogana. I really wanted to get this next shot for my post, but atlas it was not meant to be. Apparently the flying donkey with his head stuck in the hole of wall can only be seen after this Sunday. I’ll be in Germany by then. Disappointed I didn’t get to see the real McCoy,  but what can you do?  You must go on, despite disappointments. So for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture out of the book (Fodors 25 Best – Venice) which Bobo gave me before we left. Thank heavens for the book or I wouldn’t have found my way around Venice and I wouldn’t have known about the jackass without it. And for you, my loyal readers, here’s a pic of it from the travel book.

image
We made our way to the Basilica di San Marco where we were swarmed by pigeons!  I laughed.  If my cousin Bru was here with me she would be running in the other direction screaming her head off.  After watching a scary Alfred Hitchcock movie about birds, she has a thing about black birds.

image

Time to eat! Decided it would be a good idea to try some Seafood! Yum!  A white wine with a seafood platter for two and an order of Rigatoni with Gorgonzola Sauce (Mary’s new favourite cheese).

Simply Delicious!!!

image.jpeg

After that, I was in a rush  to fulfil a lifelong dream of mine… to take a gondola ride in Venice.
It was a rip off, but I was on a quest and I was determined.
We were the last gondola out because the weather was starting to change.

Alex, our driver, was a bit Standoffish, I think.  He wanted $80 euros ($120 cdn) for 1/2 hour.  For an extra $60, he would provide us with a commentary about the buildings (like where Galileo lived).

Forget that.  Already saw where Michelangelo lived and it wasn’t that exciting.  Galileo would have to be there alive, in person, for me to really want to pay an extra $60 bucks for it.

The sea was getting choppy and it was getting really windy.  It was hard for him to maneuvere the boat and we had to lean sideways to go through a narrow bridge.  Out gondola was elaborate (black and gold) and was used for special occasions…like people getting married.  A sunset gondola ride would have been lovely, but we had to get back on our train to get to our Florence apartment.

Wait I forgot to eat a gelato today.

It’s 9:00 p.m. Not too late to get one!  That’s on my bucket list too…one gelato every day while I’m in Italy!

image

Cheers from Venice everyone!

Day 3 Rome: The Vatican, Sistine Chapel & St Peters Basilica

Today Mary and I went to the Vatican and had a gelato while we waited for our tour.

There was lots to see…tapestries, maps sculptures, Emperor Nero’s giant sized bathtub, well-crafted wooden confessional booths, and there were several bodies of previous Popes.

The guide was boring and then she dumped us at St. Peter’s Church, handed us a pamphlet and told us to go check it out ourselves.  So what did we pay her, our guide, for?

Mary told me she learned more from me than our tour guide.  I told her I was going to set up shop and do my own tours (but I’d probably get kicked out because I know the x-rated version of the Vatican).

At night our host Guiseppe took us for a 2 hour night tour around Rome and we got some cool pics.

When we got back at midnight, I set off the alarm at the apartment because I forgot to turn it off when I entered and pretty much woke up the entire neighbourhood!  Opps!  Damn tourists!

Day Uno in Rome!

Mary and I got off to a great start.  We did selfies on the plane and I laughed so much I was crying.

We got to Rome at 2:00 in the morning, got a driver to take us to our apartment and had a lovely meal at an Italian bakery nearby!  Lasagna, zucchini pizza, an artichoke, dolce, Good grief…. the food is to die for!

Guissepes mother (guy whose apartment we rented) drove us to the colosseum. Really nice people.  This area is Toronto’s equivalent of Yorkville.

image

image

 

 

 

 

We took a tour that included the underground areas where the wild animals and gladiators were kept.  They’d pop them up from their cages below via a trap door.  The gladiators were like sports wrestlers of today.  It was just a 1 1/2 show  for put on by trained professionals.  Or they’d pop up a prisoner of war to see a wild animal have fun with them.  The animal was not fed or given water for two days and was very angry when let loose.

image

One of the most fascinating spots I found was this room with a trench in it.  It was where 80,000 people would go to pee when they were at an event.  They’d do their business in the hole with a seat, and then get a sponge on a stick to wipe their butts!  The guide said it was very clean💩 , but I’m skeptical and am thinking there must have been an awful lot if STDs if this really did take place in Roman Times.

Visitors would dip the sponges in the fresh water in the trench and clean their sponge for the next person to use.  Funny how we had a 3 1/2 hour tour and this was one of the most memorable thing about the colosseum I decided to share with you.

image

I’m having a very hard time downloading my pictures to my web site.  It’s so slow it quits on me before the picture is done being uploaded.  The apartment wifi is very weak.  I may have to upload them when we get to Florence on Tuesday.

image

Sorry 😂  I have so many wonderful pictures to share with you too.  So disappointed!  Will try again tomorrow night….its 3:45 a.m and I need to get to bed!

 

 

Look Who’s Driving the Bus

Look Who’s Driving the Bus

  Dear Friends, I’ve been busy doing all sorts of fun things lately and haven’t had much time to write. Tried to do a quick update, but had to relearn to put pictures in my posts because they changed the … Continue reading

Possibility of Green Hair Today!

I may be green in about an hour. Bought some organic hair dye from Germany. Decided today was the day I was going to try to see if it works. Figures it’s St. Patrick’s day.

Well, at least everyone will think I did it on purpose if I walk out of here with green hair. Smells like sewer sludge!

image

Beam me up Scottie!

I’m Good (for now!)

Thought I’d better blog again because people are starting to phone and ask me if I’m alright.  I’ve also been told to keep it short!  So here it goes!

My Carepath nurse collected my CT Scan results and told me I was stable!   Hurray!  Life is good.  

 I think my hemoglobin is better now because I can walk up the stairs better without huffing and puffing and feeling like my legs are full of jelly.

I’m glad she let me know since I still haven’t seen my oncologist since November.  My January appointment consisted of sitting in the waiting room with my husband for 1 1/2 hours.  We had to leave again because my husband has 1 hour for lunch and he was gone for 2.  Funny how my clinic note (which I now have Internet access to) stated I telephoned and told them I couldn’t make it in for my appointment.  Hmmm……  not sure how I’m going to handle that.

Top-40-Funny-Minion-Quotes-and-Pics-Best-minionsI requested to see my oncologist in February when I was suppose to get my shots in the stomach. However, he is on vacation; so now I don’t see him until March.  Oh well, if I’m stable now, I’m good.  My hemoglobin, red and white blood cells were really low in December (worthy of a blood transfusion), but now I got some new medicine from Germany and am feeling much better.  Guess it was worth turning yellow for a while.

———————————-

And now for some humour….

This is a conversation about reading which I overheard from the back seat of the car….

Frack:    There are no good books in my classroom.  They are all so old.

Frick:     Really, in my classroom, the books are from the 1900’s.

Frack:    Oh yeah, well the books in my classroom are from Jesus’s time.

———————————————————–

life is shortPoor Bobo. He comes home one night with chunks of meat in his coat pockets.  “Darn,” he said, “Now I’m going to have to get my coat cleaned.”   He forgot to take his ziplock bags when I sent him over to my parents to fix their TV (they keep pushing the wrong buttons and then get no picture/TV).  Well, you know you can’t go into an Italian house without being fed something. Needless to say, he wasn’t prepared to hide whatever he didn’t want to eat so he stuffed the food in his coat pockets when they weren’t looking.  I laughed and laughed and laughed at him. 

I wish I was smart enough to think of concealing ziplock bags for food when I was a kid. 

Would have saved my butt from getting whacked more than once!

wooden spoon

Oh Crap, Now What?

Dear Life what the hell ru trying to do to me

Well, the results are in and now I really don’t know what to do.

Apparently the tumour in my right lung is 2mm bigger than it was in August.  In 2013, they saw something there.  On Jan. 2015 it was .9 mm.  In August it was 1.9 cm.  Now it’s 2.1 cm.

I don’t see my oncologist until the end of January.  I could always go back on that horrible drug capecitabine that burned my feet so bad I couldn’t walk.  Or I could ask to get hooked up to a picc line for a couple of hours on Taxol (chemo IV) which will make all my hair fall out, including my:

1.  eyelashes (so I will cry if it’s windy)

2.  my eyebrows (I never was that great at drawing them back in)

3.  my nostril hairs (nothing to catch the snot) and

4.  let’s not forget all my pubic hair (free Brazilian wax).

And let me remind you that Taxol was the drug that stopped my heart on my 2nd treatment.   Fancy going to my grave prematurely because of it rather than cancer.

Hmmmm.  Choices, choices.  Risks Vs Benefits.  Wait.  Wait.  I think I’ve made up my mind.

I think I’ll stick with Germany.  I could always go back in the summer and try some curcumin IV if things start to progress again, but frankly, I think I’m pretty stable now.

I just spoke on the phone with my friend who is a nurse.  She said that sometimes when technicians are reading a CT, there may be a shadow making a spot look bigger than it is. That makes me hopeful that my results aren’t that bad.  My CT Scan also mentioned a spot or two on my left lung that was unchanged in this interval.  Sigh.

———————–

I had my junior girls volleyball try outs today and I must say, they are looking good.  Had a big fat juicy gluten free burger for dinner to get my hemoglobin levels up.  Tomorrow I’m going to go for my vitamin C IV in the morning (more oxygen) and then I’m going to revisit my salt cave in the afternoon.  Maybe all that salt in my lung will shrink and kill the damn tumour.  I wonder if anyone has studied that?  News Bulletin….Salt Kills Cancer.

I found a giant natural salt cave in, where else?  Germany.  Gotta add this to my bucket list.  You can sleep there overnight!  Check this out.  You even take a little kiddie train through the mountain to get to the salt cave. Who wants to come?

 

And now some special messages…..

Rumours have it that a Great Big Baby Shower was in the works for me at work.  Thanks guys, you truly are the best, really… (smirk!)

McLandress….loving those pictures of you lapping up the life of luxury in South Africa.  I have a job for you.  Can you get in a jeep and make your way up and down the east/west coast of Africa and every time you make it to another country, log into my blog so I can see it light up?  I’m not asking for much.  You are already over there.  Just don’t drive in the ebola territories.  I don’t want you getting hurt.  And watch out for the animals. (P.S.  I got Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa covered…you’re in charge of getting the rest).

Bobo….if you are reading this post.  I know you don’t like washing dishes until the next morning but really, if you are eating fish for dinner, the stuff REALLY needs to be washed right way or it gets quite SMELLY in the house.  So unless you want me to puke tomorrow morning, please, please, please, wash anything touched by a fish immediately upon consumption.

Sandy….good luck on your operation tomorrow.  Let me know if you want anything…a visit, some grub.  I promise it won’t be gluten free unless you really want it.  My kids won’t eat it, so I don’t expect you too either.  I can do take out too, if you’d rather.  But I don’t know where you live (you may not want me to know where you live).  If you do, just call (but not on my cell phone, it’s dead and still lost in this house somewhere) or email me. Luv you.  Hope you aren’t in the hospital long.  Same day service works best.  I’d get out of there quickly if I were you.

Doug….I’m bringing that cup I won with the bell on it next Thursday….. expecting good service!  My birthday is coming up.  Don’t forget my cupcake!  Ha Ha Ha!

Frick and Frack…no I am not having a baby even if you do want one.  Stop encouraging me.  It ain’t happening despite what the blood test results say.

Life boring without me

 

 

Miracles Happen, Right?

IMG_2225Tuesday, January 5

Would you believe that I still have no results pertaining to my lung yet?  I was checking all day, scared of what I might find.

Saw my surgeon.  He is a good guy. Asked me how I was doing.  I’m okay, I told him, but it looks like I have mets in my bone marrow again… although I don’t really believe it because this happened to me before when I came back from my cancer treatment in Germany.

Oh?  Why did you go to Germany?

Now there’s a loaded question.  This is what I told him.  Hmmm…it might be because they almost killed me three times here.  Or maybe it was because the hormone treatments stopped working and they told me they couldn’t do anything for me anymore except manage the pain.  That’s when I decided to high tail it outta here because at least over there they thought they could keep me alive for many years to come.

“Well it looks like Dr Sahgal is happy with your progress,” he said.  “Nothing going on in your spine.  Your bones are growing back and your hardware is good.”

nutella

“Yes but my oncologist is not happy with me right now because I’m not doing what he is telling me to”, I replied.

“How did you find out about this place?”, he asked.

“My friend knew someone who went there”, I told him.

Short and sweet and I was out of there with an appointment scheduled for next year.

Before I saw him,  I was talking to the nurse in the room by myself (she was the one that nicknamed me “The Screamer” after my surgery).   I asked her if she would mind looking for my chest CT scan on her computer because it wasn’t appearing on myUHN.  I had results for my pelvis and abdominal scans, but nothing has been reported about my lungs.  I was worried because I have been coughing lately and I was told in August that I had a tumour at the bottom of my right lung.  She checked.

Thank heavens PMH actually did the scan which included the lungs.  That was a relief because I would have gone on some kind of Italian rampage if someone messed that up and I had to go do this again. I really don’t need more radiation considering I’m maxed out.  The nurse went through the slides and said, “I’m no technician or anything but I don’t see anything”. Meanwhile, I was peering over looking for white spots on my lung scans too and didn’t see anything either.

Now wouldn’t that be something if the 1.9mm intelligent doubts, stupid confidencetumour they found in August and spots on the fissure line disappeared just like the thing on my pancreas?

Miracles do happen, right?

—————————-

That afternoon….I decided to try something new today to alleviate my bronchial asthma problem.  I visited a salt cave.

Several years ago when I experienced this same yearly nagging cough in the fall (rain + leaves = mould), my allergist told me the only way to get rid of it is to go to somewhere hot with a beach and breathe in the salt water air.  Sounds enticing.

Well although I would love to escape right now, it ain’t happening due to the fact that my family dr seems to think I need a blood transfusion and I’m not exactly rich.  Btw, I phoned Germany for some hemoglobin help and it should be on its way.  Plus I stopped taking my German drugs temporarily until my white/red blood counts improve.  There was also some mention about giving me a neupragena (sp?) shot ($3,000-4,000 a pop) on my Sunnybrook blood test results but no one has phoned me about that one yet.  That prescription certainly will give me lots of air mile points for my next trip, as a patient usually needs 3-4 shots to get their counts up. Although I think I would decline that proposed strategy because I’m sure it comes with some interesting side effects which I could do without.  I get to visit my family dr next week.  Can’t wait to discuss the sudden disappearance of “my baby.”

IMG_2211The salt cave was wonderful on my lungs.  I spent the first 1/2 hour coughing up a storm.  I felt rather bad for the gentleman in the cave with me and my older sister.  He certain didn’t get a quiet session because I was coughing up a lung.  Felt really good.  Salt is so healing.  Wish I had know about this before when I suffered with bronchial asthma.  I can’t use a puffer because I’m allergic to ventolin, alupent and its whole medicinal family including it’s cousins.  The cave was a little bit cool so I wore my white alpaca babushka hat which I bought from Germany.  My friend Doug calls me the Snow Queen whenever I where it.  The cold weather lately sure warranted it.

IMG_2208

Wednesday, January 6

Still no lung news.  I phoned the CT Scan place….got a recording, what else.  Maybe if I’m in a bad mood, I’ll nag them and call them every 5 minutes tomorrow.  Fill up their answering machine with 20+ calls.

Today I went to The Art For Cancer Foundation and made the  winter scene above.  It was challenging.  I enjoyed painting it, but my back sure could use a rest.  Time for bed.

———————————————————-

Below are the benefits of going into a salt cave, should you ever decide to go.  The one I went to was in Mississauga.  There is one near York University, in Niagara Falls, and The Windsor Arms Hotel.  I didn’t realize it increases your hemoglobin level too!  Next time you’re sick or have a respiratory ailment you may want to check it out.  Prices range from $17 (Groupon) to $50 for an hour session depending where you go.

IMG_2229

One Minute You’re Pregnant, The Next Minute You’re Not

normal

So last night I decided to delve back into the results of my blood work from Sunnybrook because some of the tests were time sensitive and needed longer to get the results.  Probably not a good idea.

Really?

Apparently one the tests indicated that I was pregnant.  I thought that was hilarious and decided to go downstairs (with my Ipad/video) to lay the big news to Bobo.  “What are you doing?,”  he asked me covering up my Ipad with his hand.  “Oh, I have some great news!  Are ya ready?  Tell me you are ready.  Remember the blood work I had from Sunnybrook?  Well apparently, I’m pregnant.” 

couples

Stunned belief is the best I can describe the look he gave me.  “Oh come on,” I told him.  “There is no way.  They messed up again.  What else is new?”  “Do you want me to go to Shoppers and get one of those pregnancy pee tests?” he asked.  “Are you kidding me!  Save yourself the money”, I told him.  “It’s another fuck up.  You should know by now not to trust anything they tell you.”

Me Bad, Never

Oh this is going to be good tomorrow when I go to PMH to get my CT scan and they ask me if there is any chance I could be pregnant.  Yup, here it is on this sheet!

———————————————————–

Did NOT have a good day at PMH.  Went in at 8:00 with Bobo.  The secretary looked at my blood work, took the sheets to the technician, and then told me they would not do the test unless I got clearance from my doctor.

rope:neckWell my doctor wasn’t coming in until Wednesday.  My nurse told me that it must be wrong because I’ve been on ovarian suppression shots all these years.  But the CT Scan secretary wouldn’t hear of it.  Said I had to have PROOF that I wasn’t pregnant.  Was thinking that Bobo’s idea about peeing on a stick was a quick and efficient way of testing it out until she said it had to be Blood Work Proof!  I think I’ve masterminded the art of rolling my eyes by this point. 

Had to go to the Dr On Call to put in a requisition for more blood work.  This is what 1/2 the line looked like while I was there. It was all the way out into the hallway.

image

And this is the sign which says how they are improving their services so you don’t have to wait so long in line.  Beautiful.

image

When I finally got in, the guy at the lab told me they had to send it across the street to Toronto General because they didn’t do that kind of testing here….2-4 hour wait.  Grrrrr.  And I wasn’t allowed to eat anything either. 

Just after 11:00 my ipad dinged and I had a message from UHN telling me, guess what?  I’m NOT pregnant.  Ohhhh….Big surprise there!  

Took my ipad to the CT secretary who, as soon as she saw me said, “The results aren’t in yet”.   “You wanna make a bet,” I told her, throwing my ipad in her face.  She ran to get my contrast dye drink. 

Train u 2b CrazyNow here’s a helpful hint if you are ever in a situation where you have to have that CT Scan drink that tastes like orange toothpaste.  Tell them you are allergic to it and then they will give you another more expensive one that tastes like weird water.  They both give you diarrhea, but drinking orange chalky toothpaste is not my idea of a good time.  My scan wasn’t until 1:00.  Waiting again. 

They told me to get into a gown.  I told them not on your life, it was freezing in there.  I would take off all the metals on me, including my bra and go in with my track pants/top, but that was the best I could do.  I was not going to get into one of those flimsy gowns today.  Thankfully, he didn’t object.

advice

When the technician felt my hands to put in the needle he said, “Boy you really are cold”.  Yup.  It was really chilly outside (-16) and inside the hospital too.  The only good thing about this freezing weather is that my cough has improved now that it’s not so damp outside.

Anyhow, got the Ct Scan done.  I got back 3 out of the 4 tests.  The one I really wanted (lung) has not arrived in my inbox.  Sigh.

Here’s what I did learn….

  1. I am not pregnant.
  2. There is nothing new in my abdomen.
  3. There is nothing in my pelvis….maybe an spot on bone L5 but that wasn’t mentioned in my Sunnybrook MRI.

Now I just have to wait for the lung one.  I’m expecting it to say I have pleural effusion because I am still coughing up mucus.  The last time they saw that my oncologist said I would be returning in 3 weeks to get the cancerous fluid drained from my lung.  I told him it was allergies.  I was right…the pleural effusion disappeared.  However, I want to know about the spot(s) they they found on my right lung and fissure line the last time I had a scan.  Hoping they disappeared like the IMPN on my pancreas.  Oh, that would the a miracle I am searching for.  

My family drs office phoned re:  blood transfusion.  Told them I’d phone back later if I was interested and did they know I was pregnant?  And tomorrow I get to get up bright and early to visit my surgeon who put in my metal rods in my back in 2012.  I’m going to bring him a bottle of wine and thank him that I’m not a paraplegic.

Still Alive

———————————–

Sometimes I just wished all this would JUST GO AWAY.  

Sigh…..

travelling