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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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!

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Cheers from Venice everyone!

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Day 4 from Rome To Florence

We are on our way to Florence today.

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I will miss our little apartment, it’s hot tub, and pretty patio.

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We had a wonderful time in Rome.  It was amazing.

Can’t wait to see what Florence is like.

As of yet, we haven’t been mugged or attacked by gypsies.

We did get ripped off by a Pakistani man at Popolo Square for flowers (which we didn’t want).  They were thrusted in our face.

He was a good talker.  He suckered us out of some euros.

Now Mary and I have a system when we want to buy something.I listen in Italian and tell her what the guy says in English.
She says no. We walk away and then all of the sudden, it’s 1/2 price!

It’s working well for us.

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When we got to Florence we took a cab from the train station.  Mary thinks he ripped us off because it was $7.40 when we arrived at our apt, then it suddenly turned to $12.40.

We meandered around and found a quaint little Italian restaurant.  I asked our waiter (from Nepal) to recommend something.

Needless to say, we ate some wild boar with pasta.  Chunky pieces of meat.  Must tell you that it was pretty good.

Actually tasted delicious with red wine!  Mary’s turning me into a lush!   I never drink wine, and now we are having it with all our meals.  She says we have to try all the pastas, oils and wines of the region we are visiting.

Walked around Florence.  Quite a lovely place.  This is the covered bridge at Ponte Vecchio.

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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!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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U know Ur in Trouble When the Dr Calls!

So early this morning before I even got out of bed, I got a phone call from my family doctor. Oh.., that can’t be good I thought when I heard her voice. It’s not the secretary.

“Ahhh, I got your blood work back and it looks like you need a blood transfusion,” she said. “However, the problem is that every place where you can get this done is closed today and I don’t even think they can do it for you if you went to emergency.”

“It’s my lucky day,” I thought. I’m not going to emerg today. Happy New Years!

“So how low does your hemoglobin have to be when you need a transfusion?”, I asked.

“The low 80’s,” she answered.

“What am I at?, I questioned her.

“78…. I’m surprised you are still walking.” she responded.

“Well I wasn’t walking last week and I turned yellow, but I’m better now.”

“What do you want to do?”, she asked me.

What can I do? I’m going to party? Everything is closed until Monday and that’s when I’m suppose to have a CT Scan. So I’m going to do nothing right now. I don’t really care anyway. I’ll send Germany an email and tell the dr to send me something. This happened to me before.
“Just don’t get cut until then,” she said, “And get into hospital if you start bleeding for any reason”.

“Even a hemorrhoid?”, I asked.

“Even a hemorrhoid”, she answered.
WTF? Now I’m going to be shitting blood too? I don’t think so!  Holy crap!

By the way, did you happen to get the results of my latest MRI?, I asked her.

“No,” she said.

Well, apparently I have extensive metastatic disease throughout my bone marrow again.

She didn’t say much after that. I think my doctors are more worried than I am.

I had a nice burger yesterday hoping to get my hemoglobin up. I’m eating more now, but I now weigh the same amount I did when I was in university. Bobo says I’m getting pretty skinny. My scale says so too.

The conversation in the car went really well on our way to the market.
Who wants to give me some blood?, I asked.

Aughhhhh! No way, cried my brood in the back.
“I will”, said Bobo, my universal O type donor husband.
“Good”, I said. We just need two needles and a tube and we can attach ourselves to one another! True love!

Happy New Year Folks. I need to drink some blood tonight. I’m turning into Dracula’s wife tonight!
Cheers to 2016!

Pompeii

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One of the things on my bucket list was to go to Italy and go to Pompeii which I find fascinating. Fat chance I’m getting there any time soon as having cancer has a point of killing you financially.  I really hope to go there though.  One day.

imageSo Buba bought me and the kids tickets today to go to the Royal Ontario Museum to see their Pompeii Exhibit. It was really neat but difficult to handle because Frack was in charge of pushing my wheelchair around and he is nuts. I barely had time to read the information cards before he would whip me around to see something else. Boys! I tell you. A different breed. He wanted to know what all the plaster casts were about but was too impatient to read about it himself. Lazy bum. So I would speed read the excerpts and tell him a story about it in hopes that he would remember something about what he saw. It was hard work!

Here are the models of how the archeologists painstakingly found the bodies buried under the ash.

  1.  Very hot ash and pumice bury the victim early in the eruption of 79.
  2. The body lies buried underground.
  3. The body slowly decays creating a hollow, still including skeletal remains.
  4. Archeologists fill the hollow with plaster.
  5. The plaster hardens.  The cast of the body is carefully excavated.  The ash is chipped off.

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There was a dog tied to his leash and a family who hid in their wine cellar and ran for it when they thought the coast was clear (briefly of no ash). Unfortunately for all 13 of them from that cellar, they were caught running through their garden and died of a flash of intense heat from the volcano.

Apparently there were approximately 12,000 inhabitants in Pompeii at the time of the eruption, but they only found about 1,550 bodies. There is still 1/3 of Pompeii that needs to be excavated near the shoreline. Wonder if and how many escaped by sea? I imagine running in a metre of ash after a couple of hours after the first mushroom volcanic explosion would have been close to impossible. By the next day Pompeii was buried under 4 metres of ash. As big as my house.  From what I understand wouldn’t most of the people die right away from the initial gas explosion? No oxygen. Wouldn’t they have been cooked from the immense heat? How about being pelted by huge rocks dropping from the sky as they were trying to run to get on a ship by the sea?

Gotta go see the real Pompeii for myself and blog it!
There were lots of beautiful Roman frescos and marble statues/busts to see, but this exhibit is only open in Toronto until Jan 3, so your days are numbered if you want to go.  But buy your tickets online before they are sold out and skip the lines.

I lost my cell phone and it’s dead.  I know  it’s in the house somewhere but I can’t find it. So if you are trying to message me, it ain’t happening. I hope this isn’t like the time I lost my engagement/wedding rings. It took me over 8 years to eventually find them.

My iPhone 6 will be ancient history if I don’t find it in 8 years. Sigh.

When I got to the ROM and requested a wheelchair, all 10 were out. The guy at the coat check told me to leave my number and they would call me when one was available. Ha!  No phone.

Had to go back every once in a while to see if someone returned a wheelchair. Eventually I got one.

I really miss my phone. Where r u?  I miss u so much.  Pls come back.