Friday, February 27, 2015

more waiting rooms

i should give a quick update on yesterday's appointment.  as i knew, there wouldn't be any big shockers (though i suppose he could have found a spot during the exam that troubled him-- but he didn't, and i didn't expect him to).  in talking to him about my chances of recurrence or metastases and about my fatigue he said that the problem with breast cancer is that 9 out of 10 patients will be cured, but the treatment is so rough that only 1 in 10 will feel like their pre-treatment selves. i'm not sure his first statistic isn't overly optimistic, as about 30% of women with breast cancer will end up with stage 4, but i take his point as to the latter.  "i'm not that 1," i said.

today we were in a different doctor's office as it was henry's four year check-up.  we wanted to get some follow-up on his nighttime breathing problems.  the answer-- go back to the ENT.  oh that we could just be done with doctor's appointments.

on the way to his check-up...

he was adamant he did not want a shot, but when the time came he didn't even want to sit on one of our laps.

waiting for the bus home... you can see a little of the town (specifically the cathedral) and our lack of snow and lack of sun...

the bottom of this is blurred because henry was in the process of trying to swipe the camera out of my hand like an actor fed up with the paparazzi... except his smile shows otherwise...

well, 9:35.  time to have a friday evening before we both fall asleep.  last friday of february. spring is declared to be march 1st in these parts.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

waiting rooms in real life

it's 11:46 in the morning and i feel a little like the pressure of my pounding heart is keeping me from moving from this couch... so i might as well post.

okay, let me stop the hyperbole.  i'm not physically unable to get up from the couch and my heart is only slightly fluttery and my palms only a little sweaty.

it's nothing, so don't let my anxiety transfer over to you, because there is no bad news coming from this post.  i promise you.

yesterday my oncologist's office called to tell me i had missed an appointment with him that day.  "no," i said.  because i knew nothing whatsoever about an appointment scheduled for yesterday.  i did know of the possibility of an appointment being scheduled in the last week of february, but because i never got a letter in the mail or in my virtual mailbox (the way we are all supposed to start getting mail from public institutions here in denmark nowadays), i let it go and decided it wasn't going to happen and i didn't need it anyway.  i have my ct scan next monday and an appointment two weeks after that to get those results and have a check-up.

i'd talked to my doctor in mid-january about changing my treatment from tamoxifen to an ovarian function suppressor (i.e. a menopause inducer) plus aromatase inhibitor (i.e. potential osteoporosis causer)  (sounds like fun, huh?!), because a large study came out (SOFT trial) indicating that for people like me (i.e. high risk for recurrence or spread), it's a good idea to make the switch.  i wanted to talk to my doctor (my third oncologist who i will meet today for the first time-- the first switched hospitals, the second became the 'head doctor' for the department and so doesn't take patients anymore), before switching.  but he didn't have any openings until the last week of february and so we decided i'd come in then (but like i say, that appointment, as far as i was ever concerned, never got scheduled) and in the meantime i decided to go ahead and switch treatments without talking to him (convinced after hearing a talk about it, that it really is what i should do.  so i've been on this treatment now for the last 20 days).

so today's appointment is about not much really.  an early check-up.  a chance to tell him about our summer plans.  and yet still, the thought of sitting in that waiting room... well... makes me nervous! a pavlovian response, nothing more.

so now i have to leave.  i take care of a sweet but growing golden retriever pup named nana peter pan a few days a week these days.  then i'll leave for the appointment that isn't until 1 p.m. simply so i don't have to add "rushed" to "nervous."  and then i'll take a deep breath once i'm out of that waiting room, go to the grocery store to pick up bananas on my way to tutor our friends' daughter in english, and pick up my boys like it's just been any other thursday in february.  (and i haven't edited this post, so watch for all kinds of spelling and grammar errors.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ghost drivers and missing fingerprints

we all "held free" today.  that's another danish phrase i like better than our english equivalent.  (at holde fri = to have a day off.)

henry asks me all the time (because he "holds free" every friday), "mama, am i holde fri today?"

"well yes henry.  today you are."

today we went into copenhagen to get our biometrics done, taken, collected, recorded, whatever the verb is, i'm sure there is one, and that in 20 years we'll all know it, for our new residence permits.  this procedure began just after we got residency three years ago so it wasn't part of our current residence cards, but now we'll have cards with a microchip embedded, inserted, seared on, what have you, so that, i guess, if we get lost, they'll be able to match us to our correct identities.  something like that... i'm sure...

a few things about this trip...

1) we went on the metro.  if you'd told us a year ago that there was a metro train in Copenhagen and described it to us, we would have said, 'no, you're thinking of a different city.'  because we really didn't know about the metro.  we'd never had an occasion to take it.  there's a thing called an 's train' here, which differ from the usual regional trains... i would have said, 'are you thinking about the 's trains by any chance?'  they're sort of metro-ey on the inside.

2) about this metro.  two things stood out to us as being different from the metros we've ridden on in other cities.   first-- there is glass paneling between the tracks and the platform, with sliding glass doors which match up to the metro doors.  let me tell you-- this is really nice when you have squirmy little boys who like to wrestle with each other with no warning on train platforms.

and second-- the train is run by a computer, or, perhaps, as henry conjectured, by a ghost.  and what was so cool about that (because neither ghosts nor computers need a little room for themselves at the front of the train) is that there are seats and a big window right at the very, very front of the train, so you can watch as you're propelled through the subway tunnels.  very cool indeed.  especially if you're a little boy but really, for the parents too.

3) i had an enormously difficult time, or rather, the biometrics machine had an enormously difficult time finding my fingerprints.  while i was trying for the umpteenth time to press down a little harder, no, a little less hard, with my fingers closer together, etc., etc., i remembered reading something about chemo and fingerprints.  it was in this article here, which i liked (though 'like' seems like the wrong word here... appreciated, perhaps) for other reasons.  and you can look up chemo and fingerprints and find all sorts of articles and case studies even on people held in airport customs or whose government paperwork couldn't be processed because of lack of fingerprints after chemo.  it's mostly about a specific chemo drug that i didn't have though, so maybe i'm just naturally lacking in the fingerprint department, but eventually they were able to capture them on both hands and so our government paperwork is, in theory at least, being processed as i type (though three of our four applications were not yet in their system).

so that was our day's adventure.  hope your wednesday also included something out of the ordinary.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

first one, then the other

greg's day started early at 4:30 a.m.  he's "on call" this week in case one of their complicated sounding machines breaks down, and this morning it did.  production needs to start very early in the morning so what they're making can get to the hospitals on time for patients (like me-- i have been the recipient of their isotopes twice now) so it wasn't a phone call he could ignore.

despite william's nearly 11 hours of sleep last night, he is still tired out from the winter holiday and stated that he would probably fall asleep during the movie, 'paddington,'  which his class was going to the theater to see today.  something about winning it in a christmas bingo game.  i am not exactly clear on that point.  it doesn't sound like he fell asleep during it though as he was able to relate key plot points to me and especially liked when paddington bear took a sandwich out of his hat and threw it at the film's antagonist.

henry was dancing when i got to school.  he ate only meatballs for dinner (we ate at the common house tonight and he wouldn't even hear of keeping the coleslaw and potatoes on his plate and one of his parents acquiesced).  he's snoring loudly right now, as he's been doing ever since he caught cold a few weeks back.  it's a little disheartening to hear after his many months of post-tonsil reduction quiet.

me.  i'm just tired.  the kind of tired i get in my muscles, in my bones, when i've had a physically (for me) demanding day, like pulling a burley, that sort of thing.  i also got my blood taken today because i have my 'routine' CT scan coming up on monday (with the results a keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seats 2 weeks later).

so, to bed, or to look for houses in madison for our two month sojourn there.  in any case, more tomorrow (i hope!).

Monday, February 23, 2015

bike accidents, birthdays, breaking codes...

today was and still is spent completing our applications for residence permits.  this basically consisted of:

  • coffee
  • four separate applications
  • four separate fees
  • searching for a marriage certificate (this required an actual trip to a safe deposit box in the u.s. (clearly not by us)) 
  • taking pictures of passport pages and certificates of live birth
  • watching the upload progress stall at 92% 
  • and then at 89% 
  • and more than once disappear completely due to inactivity of more than ten minutes and having to start back over
  • nearly losing and mercifully recovering an automatically generated and unchangeable user name and password
  • exceeding the 10 MB limit on attachments and modifying the attachments to make them smaller
  • and smaller still
  • command C times 100
  • command V times 100
  • looking up the same phone number more than once and finally writing it down 
it's one of those things in life that is not difficult, but time-consuming.  it's not rocket science yet somehow makes you wonder how many people are screwing it up because of all the little details that can be screwed up if you're not careful.  as of 9:37, two of the four applications have been submitted.  we're still working on bullet points 10 and 11 for the other two.

but other things happened here too, today.  for instance:

  • it rained and it snowed.  
  • i was involved in a head-on collision (between bikes) with a 12 year old kid.  it was on my way to pick up the boys from school.  about 4 boys were riding up a hill as i was riding down.  i was on the far right side, and the boy who ran into me was on his far left, with his head down, going at an impressive speed considering gravity was working against him.  i thought, he's going to look up.  he's going to see me and get out of the way.  when it became clear he wasn't going to look up without some notification i yelled out something silly like, "HEY! YO!" but it was too late.  our front tires hit, head on.  i'd slowed down and braced myself so was no worse for the wear.  he fell off his bike, but i think it was a gentle enough fall... that is, no flipping over handlebars or anything.  still, he seemed shaken up.  all i could really think to say to him in danish was 'are you okay?' over and over.  he assured me that he was.  i assured him that i was as well and we went on our ways.  
  • i played 'stone school' with william and henry.  henry won by making it to 10th grade first.  we're two steps short of actually graduating.  
  • we read chapter 7 and half of chapter 8 in the voyage of the frog.  it's a little heavy on the sailing terminology but they seem to be alright with that.  and lights were out by eight!  
transferring more pictures from my phone to my computer.  here are some from the past couple weeks.  (and i am happy to report that in the time it took me to upload these photos, we made everything very small and submitted the last two applications.)

it wasn't actually this cold in our house...

making a mastermind code for me...

henry, taking over the game...

william's 'morning song' on the day they celebrated 'fastelavn.' (danish carnival.)  william didn't want to put on the perpetual ninja costume that somehow never gets too small, that early in the morning...

this next bunch is from henry's birthday.  first, his birthday celebration at school, then the ice cream sundae party with mom, dad, and big brother, then going to "the play paradise" with friends (well, you get one shot of it), then waiting on his cake....

proof that he does eat with a fork (at school at least)...

eating the oatmeal-raisin cookies he made the night before...

as seen on facebook...

making his cake...

waiting for ice cream...

(to my sister: my ice cream was simply frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, and a little cream whipped together in the food processor... it did the trick.)

the slides on the right would have some serious warning signs and age bans attached to them if they were in the u.s... kids under 20 pounds were seriously airborne and there were more than a few tears (and probably some whiplash) while we were there...

excited by the prospect of cake...

william had done up a little treasure hunt for henry and our kid guests to find sparsely packed goodie bags...

i really think that's the most birthday crazy we've ever gotten, but it was so fun!

finally, the typical state of our house during winter ferie... i do already miss having those little guys home.

well, that's it for now!  goodnight! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

feathers and furs

so this post actually contains pictures.  i have lots of pictures from all the times i haven't updated the blog, but today it's just some recent ones... from the past few days.  

here you have a simple picture of henry eating crackers.  this was on friday morning because we still hadn't put the slipcover or cushion covers back on the couch (you see it in the background) after he fell asleep (one of his once every 6 months naps) thursday afternoon and wet the.. couch.  

on tuesday greg had the day off and our plan was to go to the national museum to see an exhibit on the history of fur wearing. (since one of our boys is part cave-man, it fits nicely with his interests.) however, we became so engrossed with a puzzle we'd started the day before that we just stayed home all day putting it together and generally building railroad tracks and legos and such.

finally saturday the boys put the last two pieces into the puzzle...

(oh here's just a cute shot of william's preparations for last night's movie night... everyone was in the audience...)

so that today we made it to the museum...

good thing, because today was the last day for this temporary exhibit...

modern fur wearing...

henry fur wearing (he was railing against the killing of chickens just yesterday and forbade us from buying one for last night's dinner, so i don't think this will be a regular foray into fur wearing territory.)...

and this guy, just because i think the squirrels here are so cute and i have never managed to get a picture of them.  i mean... i guess it's a little less cute when stuffed.  a little creepy looking, but check out the ears!  they have his all spiked up, but usually they're rounded like little bunny rabbit ears.

furs by necessity...

water proof jackets...

made with fish skins...

part of the permanent collection...

afterwards we went to eat a late lunch at a noodle (and rice) place...

henry enjoyed his chicken... four year olds have short memories i suppose.

so long as he doesn't start asking for a fur coat.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

saturday, snow and rain

i'm doing another post tonight, not because i necessarily have anything to say (if that doesn't draw you in, i don't know what will!), but because i'm trying to see if i can get myself back into the habit of posting more regularly.  so, if you're still reading this, you'll just have to bear with me.  i might as well be telling you to sit down and watch me eat lunch.  but actually, if you'd watched today you might have wanted to pick up a fork and tuck in (how does that transfer to the analogy of reading this post? that if it were an exciting one, maybe you'd want to tell your own exciting story?) anyway... lunch... it was at a place called pipers hus on top of a hill overlooking a city park with some friends.  now, there was a humongous brunch plate option that i would have been drawn to normally, but a) it had some sugary items, and it's still february, so sugar's off the table, so to speak, and b) it had about three different red/cured meat items, and that i try to limit, which would have meant i'd be paying $20 for toast and eggs.  warily, i got the smoked salmon salad.  i say warily because well, i've become wary of salads with smoked salmon.  i really love smoked salmon but they're on the menu of every restaurant i've ever been to in denmark and they are hit or miss, more often the latter.  not the salmon so much but the salad part (and this is easily explained by the fact that i just do not (i.e. cannot afford to) go to nice enough restaurants).  oh why am i telling you in so much detail that despite my pavlovian response to fear the smoked salmon salad and therefore avoid it, i ordered it today and it was wonderful all around?

i don't know.  my inner critic is telling me the smoked salmon salad story is done.

and because it's the last official non-school night of winter ferie, we had our third movie night and tonight it was greg's choice and he chose 'robin hood' (the 1970's disney cartoon version) and we recognized the voice of friar tuck as the frightened marshall of shinbone in 'the man who shot liberty valance' which we'd watched (sans boys) just the other night.  

the boys spent most of the day playing with a neighbor friend who'd just gotten back into town, and i think the best part was when they took out the friend's homemade go-cart with a milk crate seat and no brakes.  i was a good mom.  i made them wear their helmets.

so that's that.  inspired?  tell your own story now.  salad a little too wilted?  well... there's bound to be some misses.