December, 2008 browsing by month


Sunday…a time for rest…or walk several miles! ;)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Can you believe it’s almost 2009? And can you believe I’ve been working on this post since Sunday, and it is now Tuesday night at 7:45?!! :) We’ve been keeping busy here, hanging out, running errands, taking walks…we even walked down to Pike’s Place Sunday! We didn’t stay long ’cause it was as packed as usual—can’t people just leave so I can have it to myself for a while? :)

Oh! Before I forget, and you automatically scroll down to the photos, BEWARE!!! THERE ARE SOME PHOTOS THAT MAY BE INAPPROPRIATE FOR SOME OF YOU….THEY INVOLVE NEEDLES!! Lori, make sure you’re sitting down if you look at them! Katie took a photo shoot at my request during the bone marrow aspirate yesterday, so you can actually see what it’s like. I know people say how horrible they are, but when you’re looking at it, just know that it’s not hurting me. Grace numbed that sucker up with Lidocaine, so once the big needle went in, I just felt pressure. After the bone marrow, she did a quick skin biopsy to check for any GVHD (I don’t have a rash or anything, but this is part of my post-transplant work-up). The best thing is that she had some nice Christmas music playing in the background. I love that they play music here!!! Plus, I’m not ready to give up the Christmas songs yet–they stopped playing it on the radio here…before New Year’s…can you believe it? :)

By the way, the prelim results of the bone marrow are good–it looks clear! We get the cytogenetics back by the end of the week. I met with my team today and everything looks good. We’re looking more at January 15th to come home to Virginia to make sure we have time to fit in all the appointments I need and to really ensure that I’m doing well….basically until they feel confident that I can leave their warm embrace and head across country. Of course, I’m looking forward to the warm embrace of my doctor’s office in Fairfax too, but I definitely want to make sure my peops at SCCA don’t have any concerns, and also that my treatment transitions smoothly.

The dentist spent a long time with me today, and talked about dry mouth and how to take care of it; how to deal with chapped lips; what to look for in mouth GVHD. He also did a full check-up of my mouth, and everything is looking good!

By the way, these steroids must really be tapering ’cause I’m feeling tired already! (it’s 8:12 PM) But I am NOT carrying this post into another day!!!!! :)

Let’s see…in other news, we met the cutie Rocco (see below) in one of our favorite stores. We pass it each day on “Julie and Carol’s Way”…actually, you should check out the website: Not only do they have cool stuff, but a couple of people bring their dogs to work with them. One is a little puppy and the other is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, AKA Rocco. Whenever we walk by, he’s lying on one of the beds in the store, and I’ve seen him hopping from bed to bed. He’s so loving and is the perfect “store dog”, kind of like Carlo who is just down the road from him. I want a job where I can hang with my pups too! I know everyone keeps telling me to start a doggy daycare…who knows? Maybe in a couple years. :) John, thanks for letting us visit with Rocco–he made my day!

So tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, huh?! Any big plans? I have appointments at the clinic all afternoon, and then we’re heading over for the early bird special at “La Spiga”! My dad arrives in the morning, and hopefully he’ll get to rest a bit before we party all night?! Just teasin’….it’ll be a stretch to make it ’til midnight! But WE WILL and then we will go to the roof to watch fireworks over the Space Needle…pretty cool, huh?

We all send our love from Seattle…Katie, Carol, Laura and I


Enjoy the photos.

I’m baaaaaack!!!!!!

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Haaaappy Friday, everyone!

Well, the Internet is working again here at the Pete Gross House, and we’re all very excited about it. I mean, the Internet is like electricity now, don’t you agree?

OK, now it’s mannnnny hours later…it’s almost midnight! My eyes are glazing over, so I gotta get to bed. But I added a LOT of photos to this blog, and I can guarantee it will be a long one. My eyes just can’t take trying to organize the photos anymore!!!! So you’ll just have to wait. :)

OK, now it’s about 7:30 Friday night, and let me just tell you how long I’ve been working on this post….I had so many pictures and it took me hours to upload them, describe them and put them in order…so you better click on each picture and appreciate it, damnit!! :)

Of course, it’s been several days because our Internet was down, so that’s my excuse for all the pictures! All is well here. Katie arrived today, and she, my mom and Laura are all sitting on the couch watching “Jeopardy” and making moaning noises or saying “Oh”, “Oh yah”, after each answer, as if it were just on the tip of their tongues. Does everyone do that?! Because I think it just comes naturally, whether you ever heard of the category/answer or not! :)

So my schedule starts getting busier next week…I’ll put it on my schedule section of the blog, so you can know what’s going on. This was a wonderful week. I hope you all enjoyed a beautiful holiday and spent time with your family and friends. For Christmas, my mom, Laura and I went to “China Harbor”, a Chinese restaurant recommended to us by Anitra, my scheduler at SCCA….good recommendation, Anitra!! We went early in the afternoon and there were only about four other people in our room, with a gorgeous view of Lake Union. Inspired by “A Christmas Story”, we thought it would be fun to go out to a Chinese restaurant, but we just couldn’t order the full duck, and unfortunately, they didn’t sing to us! Oh well….next time! I admit, I’ve always been a person of tradition, but this year everything feels like an adventure, and Christmas dinner was no different. :)

I’m feeling well, although I do notice that I feel a little more tired at night (which is a good thing), so maybe that’s from the tapering of the steroids. I still don’t sleep well, but I’m taking so many medications, who knows what to blame it on!

Speaking of side effects, I hate to harp (or do I love it cause I keep doing it?!!!) on my puffy cheeks and hairiness, but they do still bug me. I’m trying to think of it in a different way: my body is strong enough to take all these meds and heal itself (well, obviously, with the help of my “gift of life”!!!), so hair and fat cheeks (and a little bit of a growing belly which I also blame on the steroids…I mean, when else have I eaten everything on my plate and then had cookies and doritoes, a piece of pie AND hot cocoa all in one evening?!!)….anyway, what was I saying?…oh yah, so the steroids are helping me healthwise, but still, when I look in the mirror, I see a patient and that feels weird to me. I feel healthy, but in the mirror I see tired eyes with a ridge on my nose where my eyeglasses rest, chubby cheeks, and hair where it shouldn’t be (cheeks, lip, eyebrows…on my nose!). I look for a while, and then I just get going with my day. They don’t want me to pluck or anything for a while.

I’ve been looking at old pictures a lot, I guess just awaiting the day I will look and feel totally like myself again. It sounds pretty narcissistic, considering the pain and side effects other patients go through, but this is the honest blog, so of course I wanted to share it with you! :) I know I will look like myself soon, and I guess I’m proud of the fact that I honestly don’t worry too much about it. It may seem like I do, but I don’t. I look in the mirror each day, and sometimes I feel disappointed, but mostly proud of what I’ve accomplished out here in Seattle, so I go out, hairy and cheeky (or does that word just refer to the British word meaning “offensively bold”, according to :) ), and I do what I need to do.

Anywayyyyyy, enough of that!!! Speaking of what we’ve been doing, the snow has paralyzed lots of the Seattle area (outside the city, some people got three feet!), but my mom has been driving around like the expert Pittsburgh driver she is! Although…a couple nights ago, Gobind and Kamal were stuck in the car (as were Laura and I) when we were driving home after dinner. My mom got into opposing traffic at one point (it was hard to tell where the line was) and then she decided to turn where she knew she shouldn’t…luckily, no one was on the road!! BUT, another driver pulled up beside us, a very nice man, and said “You know you can’t turn there…they will ticket you”. Mom didn’t say much except for “Oh, thanks for telling us”. Then he asked “Are you still ‘gonna do it?” and for a moment, I thought she was going to answer “yes”, but she decided against it. The funny part was how much my mom hesitated at his question. :) We’re all convinced he was an off-duty officer, just being nice (and probably wondering if we were drunk considering the fact we drove on the wrong side of the road for a while!). Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny. Apparently the last time all this snow happened was in 1990….everyone gives us different stories, but I trust Eddie, the source of this info. He drives the shuttle that runs from the Pete Gross House to SCCA and the grocery store.

From the apartment window, you could see people cross-country skiing, walking, dogs running and playing in the middle of the road, cars getting stuck. I also saw someone crossing the street in snowshoes!! We were going to rent them from REI when Gobind was here, but by then it looked like there might not be enough snow on the ground to actually use them…still, it looks like fun! I’d love to try it someday!

Hey, remember when I accidentally made a fool of myself in front of the housekeeper when she delivered a package to the apartment? Just to refresh your memory, she kept knocking on the door, and I thought it was Laura and my mom…I kept yelling “I’M COMINGGGGGGGG!!!!!”, and when I got to the door, I said sweetly, “Whooooo issssss ittt?”, and it was the housekeeper. She got over that quickly, but I felt dumb!

The other day, another employee came up with a package and I yelled “I’m coming!” a couple times, and when I got to the door, I said it again, but not as nicely, again thinking it was my mom (who didn’t want to use her keys), and there he stood. I apologized, but I think the whole staff here must agree that I treat my family poorly, according, at least, to the way I answer doors. :)

Well, there are lots of pictures today (since the Internet was out!). I told myself I’d put my camera up for a couple days considering the Internet problem, but I just couldn’t do it!! I hope you enjoy them (and don’t forget to appreciate each one for at least five minutes, since this blog took extra long). hahahahaha

Lots of love to everyone,


PS Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday!!!

Still Snow, but Laura’s on her way!!!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Can you believe it’s still snowing?! And, it’s still gorgeous!!! Laura should be blowing in with the snow at 8:30 PM (it’s now 6:30). Looks like the roads are not too good….we’ve been watching people get stuck on Minor Avenue all day (yesterday and today!), but Gobind got in OK from the airport the night before last using a taxi, so hopefully Laura won’t have a problem…

OK, that first paragraph is from Sunday.  Monday our power went out for a while, and now we have no Internet at home (it is Wednesday, Christmas Eve).  I’m typing from the SCCA communal computers, so needless to say, I don’t want to spend too much time in here.  I called the apartment manager twice and actually walked down to ask about the Internet once, so I figure there’s not much else to do!  But all is well….I have lots of funny stories AND pictures to share with you, but you may have to wait until next week….in the meantime, HAAAAAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!!!  We’re thinking of you, and sending lots of love.

We’ll be home before you know it! (I know, I know, you can’t wait!!!)  :\

Lots of love,

Enjoy the few photos I’ve added!!

More snow

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Hey there everyone!!!!

I’m sitting here with my mom, it’s 10:50 PM on Saturday, and we’re watching “Frasier”/the beautiful snow falling outside the windows. We had a wonderful afternoon with Gobind and his mom, Kamal. She came in yesterday afternoon, and the photos of Mount Rainier are from on the way to the airport…unfortunately, by the time we picked up Kamal, it was too cloudy and you couldn’t see it anymore! What a fickle little peak. :) Unfortunately, on the way to the airport, we noticed two buses near our exit off of Route 5, hanging out over Route 5 from a street up on Capitol Hill. It made me feel nauseous to even look at!! I took some pics and tried to fix them up as best I could, but they’re very bad quality. Here’s a link to the news so you can see some better footage. Luckily, it sounds like there were only minor injuries.

Thank goodness everyone was OK. because obviously the situation could have been quite tragic. I love the snow, but not when it’s so dangerous. On our trip to and from the airport, we just took it easy and had no problem. We spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with Kamal. She brought gifts galore from English Hills–it was like Christmas morning!!!! Thank you so much everyone. I was touched by your thoughtfulness…and Kamal, thank you for carrying everything out here!! Really, you have all been amazing, and I always knew I grew up in a special community, but you have gone above and beyond for our family these past few years, and we appreciate everything. AND my mom and I look forward to seeing you when we get home!!!!!

Kamal brought me several special gifts. She had previously given me some beads and a scarf that were blessed in India on a mountain at 15,000 feet! In October, she went to Nanded, India, which is a sacred place for the Sikh religion. There was a 300-year celebration, and visitors came from all over the world to be part of it, and she got me another scarf. Both scarves were blessed by a leader in the Sikh religion, and I keep them safely by my bedside for blessings and prayers. And she brought samosas!!!!!!!!!!! Gobind, I can’t believe you told her not to bring them!! Thank goodness she did!! If you haven’t tried a samosa, you need to try one!!! They are delicious.

Today we bundled up and headed out late in the afternoon with Gobind, Kamal and my mom to enjoy “Carol and Julie’s Way” in the snow. Boy, was it beautiful!! As you can see from the photos. And you know, it’s not easy to get those pics for ya!! First I have to take off my mitten, then I have to touch the cold camera and make sure everything is ready and then I take the shot—then I review it to make sure it’s halfway decent. It can be a hassle, I tell you, but I love doing it (for me as well as you!).

The snow has been falling for half the day, and I would say its about 3-4″ now. Did I write previously that our shuttle driver says this only happens about every four years?! Glad I can be here to see it. Along our walk, we went into “Vivace’s” and warmed ourselves up before heading over to REI. On the door to REI, they posted signs that read “Due to weather, the Seattle REI will be closing at 6″…this is the flagship REI, and there are four inches of snow on the ground (or something like that)….crazy, huh? Just kind of ironic. But the feel inside this REI is what was cool. People weren’t walking around to get skis for one fancy trip, or just picking up a coat so they look cool in the most stylish outdoor jacket…these people only wear the best layered outdoor clothing, reasonable foot attire, they were practically running through the stores to grab everything they knew they needed for whatever trip they were planning! It was an exciting feeling to be part of.

We all split up and spread throughout the store, checking for clearance items, browsing, and just generally exploring the hugeness of the place. It was also nice to warm up by the fire. I noticed lots of people coughing and sniffing though, so I was pretty much in constant movement, trying to avoid any of those people! When we left, we saw some people stopped in the hiking path, putting on these little cagey looking things that cover your shoes (see: or this one ( to help you keep traction in the snow…apparently that couple got the last ones ’cause we tried to look for them when we were there!!…some other people walking in heard it was the last pair, and they couldn’t hide their disappointment.

It’s just crazy…it just seems the equipment all goes to use immediately. I don’t see Seattleites as the types to pick up some outdoor gear from REI and go stuff it in their closets. They are hardcore! It was funny this morning because I guess they had someone on the news who couldn’t get to work in time due to transportation issues, so he ran!!!! Um, can you picture that in DC? Maybe some people, but I don’t think so! I think it would definitely be a vacation day for him/her! I think Seattlelites relish a challenge, but they would rather be out playing around in it than driving in it…they all seem like adventurers.

Stepping outside was a shock after sitting by the fire for so long, but we enjoyed the walk home in the snow. We spent the rest of the evening in….good conversation, delicious food, and great company. It was a great day.

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you about “Angel Carol, AKA Mom”. We always knew she was an angel, but lately she’s been showing up in just the right places to help people get around Seattle. Yesterday, she met a woman in the grocery store, and this lady had walked to the store and had yet to go visit her friend in the hospital….yup, she was gonna walk! So my mom offered her a ride (it was so cold yesterday!), and off they went. When she discovered there were some patients at the Pete Gross House (a couple we only met recently) who were trying to move out and get to the airport, she offered them a ride too because the taxis weren’t running. She’s always in the spirit of giving, but she really helped make someone’s holiday week a lot better just by reaching out and taking advantage of the fact that we have a rental car.

By the way, check out this article……this is the lady my mom met at the grocery store and drove to the hospital….pretty cool, huh?!

Well, it’s still snowing out there and you know I’m loving it! But think good thoughts that Laura arrives without any problems tomorrow. I love having all this company here!!!

Looking forward to another beautiful, snowy day tomorrow.

Love you lots,


Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland!

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Morning everyone!!! (well, it’s almost noon here, so perhaps “good afternoon” would be more appropriate!

OK, NOW it’s 12:32 AM!!! I’m workin’ on a deadline here!!! hahahahaha All these posts from me are a good sign…I’m feeling well, I have lots to share, and I have the energy to do it (thanks, in part, to the Prednisone). As you can tell from the title and the photos, it snowed today!!! The weather people called for snow, but I didn’t want to believe it until I saw it, so every time I used the bathroom last night, I looked out my blinds, peeking beneath the bottom to see if there was anything going on weatherwise. Nada. Then my mom came in around 5:45 or 6 to help with my iv (well, basically she does it herself in the AM and I just lie there and talk in my sleep…I mean, I might as well be asleep, because I’m no good at that hour….not at this point yet! Who knows? Maybe someday)!

Anyway, she woke me up earlier than usual because she saw the snow and knew I’d be excited. We had also both heard some crazy thunder—-two huuuuge claps of it! I’d never heard that before with snow. She came in my room, I ate some pumpkin bread, took some photos, stared at it (the snow, not the pumpkin bread) in awe for a while, and went back to sleep. I know I must sound like a little kid to some of you, but there will always be something magical about snow, and it’s always good to bring out the kid in you (after all, isn’t that the function of the hula hoops too?). I think my dad and mom always made sure we enjoyed all weather, so I must have them to thank. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for dressing me up in my rain gear when I wanted to play in the rain (but for advising against it when I still wanted to go out when it was lightning), and for taking us all on walks in the snow. Even though the layering up of warm clothes and the tearing off of wet ones seemed annoying, in the end, some flushed cheeks and slightly cold extremeties always reminded us of the exhilaration of being alive!

Yes, I’m still talking about snow. I just wanted to add that one of my favorite memories (and I have soooooooo many) is of sledding in our backyard. We have a gully that is the perfect hill for sledding, and all the kids from the neighborhood would wind up on sleds with a big black Newfoundland (my first dog, Thunder) running behind them to snatch their hats. Afterwards, we would come inside and warm up by the fire while Mom dried our wet clothes and served fresh (made in a pot with milk, not a microwave with water!) hot chocolate.

Don’t you feel cozy just reading about that? :) Well, my mom and I decided to stay in today instead of running some errands we had planned to do. It was relaxing and perfect. I am so lucky that Mom and I can enjoy such companionable silence while commenting on our different activities whenever we feel necessary. Mom, I’ve had fun living out here with you! Maybe that’s one of the things that makes me a little sad sometimes. I mean, I know I’ll still live with you in Virginia, and I can’t wait to see everyone, but it’s rare that a mother and a child get the opportunity (well, I guess I shouldn’t refer to it that way, but it’s mostly been enjoyable so I will!) to spend so much time together at our ages. I think we make a good team, and I seem to have a hard time expressing myself to you verbally about how much you mean to me, especially now—it kind of comes out as if it were just an aside, when really you made this fun for me, the way you touch everyone’s life with fun and humor and kindness. I’ve enjoyed our “semester abroad” as you call it, and I’m excited to reunite with everyone at home, but I just want to make sure you know I love you more than the whole wide world, and even when I tease about driving or snap about something stupid or I get focused on blogging or organizing or whatever it is at the time, I love you. I appreciate your patience, guidance, stories…I appreciate and truly enjoy your company. I don’t know how many daughters can say that, but I hope it’s a lot. You are joy wherever you go (unless it’s to park in the Pete Gross House!). I love you and I thank you.

I guess I didn’t realize how much that was upsetting me, and it feels good to share it. Aw, man…I just wrote some more touching stories on my blog and the internet went out and didn’t save it!!!!

I’m getting pretty sleepy now, so I’ll do my best!!! My mom and I enjoyed our day; we rested and stayed cozy in the morning and then we ventured out for a walk in the afternoon. It was beautiful, but cold!!!!! According to my research (via internet and Seattleites), snowfalls like this happen maybe once every couple years or so. Lori suggested I make a snow angel, and I had full intentions of doing so, until my mom pointed out I don’t have any snow pants. hahahaha That would have been funny!! So we opted just to walk “Carol and Julie’s Way”, and we stopped in “Vivace’s” so I could enjoy a deeeelish hot chocolate. Then we walked slowly across the street, arm-in-arm, to REI. I wanted someone to take a picture of us from the back to get us arm-in-arm in the snow, but my mom said they’d probably steal my camera. :) We’ll try and get another one of these days! We did get cute new snow hats, and my mom got a matching scarf and some awesome gloves. Who knew we needed all this out here?!!

Think good thoughts for this weekend though because my friend, Gobind is coming with his mom, Dr. Sethi tomorrow. Laura was supposed to come tomorrow, but her throat was bothering her, so luckily Mom was able to switch her flight ’til Sunday. Either way, think good thoughts that everyone will get here safely! I love the snow, but not when it starts adding stress to travel.

I can’t remember if I told you my favorite Christmas song is “O Holy Night”. I had requested the a capella group to sing it at the party last week, but they were told to stay away from religious songs. I was hoping last night, the group from the Seattle Men’s Choir would sing it too, but it was not meant to be. Then just as I was falling asleep to the sounds of the all-Christmas radio out here, guess what came on? Yup! “O Holy Night” and I drifted off to sleep a happy listener.

Here’s another good song that my Aunt Nancy forwarded me…this lady is quite talented!! I love the music! And speaking of music, I’ve been thinking of “Murphy’s Irish Pub” in Old Town a lot lately….maybe because we usually go there this time of year. I miss the music, the singing, the revelry, the cider and of course the cheese sticks (that goes without saying!). I know I won’t be allowed in there for a while, but I am certainly looking forward to the day!!!!! And then it’s on to an Irish pub in…………Ireland!!! Still my goal!!

OK, I’m off to bed. Enjoy the song and the photos!!

Lots of love from snowy Seattle,


They’re Calling for Snow!!!

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

OK, first things first….you HAVE to watch this video!!! Whether you are a dog lover or not, you will be laughing out loud! Thanks for sharing it with me, Paula!

Now there’s a snow-lover for ya!! Speaking of, still no snow out here, but when I check my phone, it has snowflakes here almost every day! It has been chiiiiiilly!!! Remember how I told you about how I was all cozied up in the onesy pajamas Katie gave me? Well, I forgot to tell you that not long after I had them on, there was a knock on the door, and my mom was busy, so I had to get it! I knew it was the medical suppliers bringing me my fluids, dressings, etc….so I shuffle to the door (you can only “shuffle” in those pjs), and open it up, acting like nothing is strange. Well, he did a good job of not reacting, but I think I know what he wa thinking!!!!! “hmmm….a woman her age in onesy pajamas with clouds on it?!” hahahaha Well, Katie, I was not ashamed because I had my supplies AND I had warm and snuggly pjs, AND perhaps I made someone’s evening simply by reminding him never to forget the kid inside……ok, I’m probably going a little far with that last part, but I like to think it at least made him smile….he was working really late (11 PM!).

In other news at the Pete Gross House, someone apparently stole a microwave!! Mary, my mom said she forgot to tell you that earlier…can you believe it? There was a note in the elevator asking for information about a microwave left outside a patient’s door. Honestly…who would steal a microwave in a house full of cancer patients? I tell ya….some people.

Today, my mom and I did more stuff around the house (you may be wondering, “What ARE those two doing together over there that they’re constantly “doing stuff around the house” when it’s a small apartment??”) Well, there’s lots of paperwork, lots of getting ready to box up the place, different projects here and there…somehow we keep busy! I didn’t get my walk in today, but it gets dark so darn early! We didn’t leave the house until 5-something, and we headed over to Hotel 1000, a very swanky hotel where someone had told us about a free concert of the Seattle Men’s Choir.

It wasn’t the whole choir (I think someone said there are 70 of them), but the music was beautiful, and the atmosphere was really cool, as you can see. Listening to them reminded me of my UVA days, listening to the Virginia Gentlemen and the Hullabahoos, our all-men a capella groups there. There’s something so peaceful about the harmony, and it was another special night for Mom and me. One of the songs they sang was sad, but gorgeous, so I thought i’d give you the link. The person singing is not of the Seattle Men’s Choir, but you should listen to the song (despite the sadness): Isn’t it beautiful? It surprised me in between the mix of Christmas music and I had to break out the Kleenex. I am not a very religious person, but I was really touched by that song. I still wish I could find a recording of “Precious Lord, Take me Home” that I heard at my dad’s church a couple years ago. It was sung by a young man from the Army Men’s Choir (if I remember correctly)….music has never moved me so much, and I was actually sobbing. His voice was mesmerizing.

OK, here’s another good one: Much happier…thought we’d end on that note! I think it’s been on a commercial lately because somehow it’s been sticking in my head and I love it! Hope you enjoy them!

Well, my mom is in bed now and I’m getting tired (good sign with the steroids!), so I’ll sign off for now.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Love from Seattle.

“Lifetime” in Seattle

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

You know…”Lifetime”, the women’s network? The gals in my family have a long-standing relationship with the network, especially around the holidays. You know, I think if the network weren’t called “Lifetime”, perhaps some men would like the shows too!! After all, I watch “Spike” sometimes despite the name. :)

OK, now it’s Tuesday, and I am 31!!! Guess I’ll have to change the “about me” section on the blog, huh? I woke up early this morning to a beautiful, clear day! My mom served me some delicious pumpkin bread and coffee, I opened gifts from Laura and Katie (and I love them all!!!!), took a shower, and got ready for my day.

We were at the clinic from about 9:45 AM until 1 PM going to different appointments: blood draw; team meeting with my Dr., P.A. and nurse; chest X-ray; meeting with my social worker; and meeting with my nutritionist. They are very happy with how I’m doing, so all good news! Unfortunately, I have gained some more weight…nothin’ crazy, but I spoke a lot with my nutritionist about different suggestions, and she isn’t worried at all about the weight gain, especially since I’m still on the Prednisone. She said the main thing is that I’m eating and drinking, and as long as I make sure I’m getting protein, a some type of grain, a fruit and/or veggie with each meal, I’m doing well! BUT she said not to expect to do that all the time, especially this time of year! I love meeting with her because I’ve always had questions about food and how best to use it to energize your body. I asked her about starting a food log, but she said to wait ’til the Prednisone is completely out of the picture, and only if I really feel like doing it. So that’s that!

By the way, aside from being the most wonderful day of the year (my birthday), today is day 70!!!!! Hard to believe in the early fatigued days (remember, magnet on the couch and bed fatigue) that I would ever feel this good, and I would be out and about in Seattle (you know, relatively speaking….restaurants on the off-hour, outdoor activities, shops where there aren’t too many people).

Oh, I know what I forgot! I took the ZGF (architects of SCCA) book into clinic today to show Jackie (my nurse) and the rest of my team. My P.A. especially loved it, so he’s going to keep it for a week to check out all the beautiful photos inside. I’m really going to miss my team. Jackie has stayed the same throughout the months, and we love her! But we’ve also gotten to know Peter, and other doctors and P.A.s, and every single one is pleasant, knowledgeable, thorough and reassuring. Of course, I am excited to get back to my doctor in Virginia, but it’s been nice to meet some new friends out here.

I know, I keep harping on about missing Seattle and the changes to come, but I’ve been thinking about it frequently, so you’ll have to pardon the repetition. :) I guess some people may not think of it this way, but after cancer (or any other traumatic event, I imagine), if you look normal and you’re doing well, everyone assumes things are back to normal. So many emotions are involved…I love Seattle and the city life, feeling healthy and having my own space, but I miss Virginia and my dogs, cat, friends, etc, etc, etc. My life is forever changed by leukemia, but you can’t tell it from the outside (well, once the hair and puffiness are gone). You all know what’s going on on the inside, because I’ve basically put all of it up here on the blog, but I guess there is a a fear of getting back to “normal”, and leaving my safe “bone marrow center” haven, the SCCA 3,000 miles away.

There, I said it! I’m afraid. It’s weird because I’ve done so well, and they expect me to continue to do so, but it’s scary to leave the cocoon of safety I feel here, and the life my mom and I have created, albeit a mini-version of one. Some patients might read this and think “What a crazy girl!! Why on earth would she be worried about going home?!”, but we’ve spoken with others who feel the same way. You just can’t duplicate the SCCA; it’s all about the organization, the friendliness of everyone, the feeling that EVERY PERSON in the clinic knows what’s going on with you.

Geez….listen to me droning on. This was supposed to be a light blog!! But I guess, since I am technically a year older, perhaps I’m becoming more of a thinker………..nahhhhhh, can’t be that!!!

I hope everyone is doing well!

Enjoy the pics. :)



“Outside the snow is fallin’ and friends are callin’ yoohooooo….”

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

hahahaha, ok, it’s not really falling anymore, and I haven’t heard anyone callin’ “yoohooooo”, but we’re singing it up here in the apartment!!! And we’re getting ready to go for a walk….do you think everyone would really think I’m crazy if I go out there saying “yooohoo” to everyone in the street?! :)

OK, we’re back from the walk and it’s about 4:18 PM…it’s really hard to get used to how soon it gets dark out here. I don’t mind it so much ’cause it’s kinda cozy (my new favorite word) in the wintertime, but sometimes you look at the clock and think “What am I going to do with the rest of my time?—it’s not even 5!” :)

We had a relaxing day today. I got up to finish the end of the coffee (that’s a big deal that I made it up in time!!), we watched some news and chatted, talked about ‘portant things (when I was little, around two or three, I would see all the adults pouring themselves coffee in these nice cups and saucers and sitting around the table talking, so I decided I wanted to join. Apparently I asked my mom if I could have some coffee—-which was probably 1/20th coffee and the rest milk and sugar—but she did put it in the nice cup and saucer. Anyway, I asked her for the coffee and said I wanted to talk about ‘portant things with everyone). After all, it seemed to me that adults drank coffee and talked about important things! (or ‘portant, as I referred to them). I still have a funny feeling when I sit down with everyone drinking coffee, like somehow I’m still an outside member of that club, always a child. But I rarely make myself any coffee when no one else is home because it seemed such a social activity.

Wow, that’s a long story. :) Anyway, there’s no shortage of coffee here in Seattle!!!!! I’ve mostly been sticking to hot chocolate (I go through phases…hot chocolate, decaf tall vanilla skim latte, sometimes spiced cider). My mom recently discovered the eggnog latte and highly recommends it to anyone! Aunt Barbie introduced her to that.

Geez…I guess I don’t have much to say if I’m droning on about coffee. Let’s see….after we dropped Aunt Bitsy off (we miss you!!!!!), we came home, did a couple things around the house, and went for our walk. Not many dogs out, but it’s a beautiful wintry day out there, and I stopped by Vivace’s for a hot chocolate. Now we’re just doing more stuff around the house–we’re in for the night! Who knows what excitement awaits, but we’re safe and sound and happy here, and we hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!!!!

Lots of love from Seattle,

Julie (and Carol)

Morning, everyone!

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

It’s about 11 AM, and we’re getting ready to go to the SCCA Christmas party!!!

OK, now it’s 10:30 PM….wow, this day went by fast!! :) It was a wonderful day and GUESS WHAT, it’s snowing!!!!!!! It’s sticking to the tops of cars, buildings and trees, but not too much on the pavement which is good since everyone says the city basically shuts down when it snows. We’re all cozied up by the Christmas lights (and I think Aunt Bitsy might have fallen asleep :) ), watching a Lifetime Christmas movie, looking at the other apartments to see their trees (hey, they leave their blinds open!)….it’s a good night. Aunt Bitsy treated us to a delllllicious birthday dinner at Szmania’s, one of our favorite spots in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle (where they have Sauerbraten!).

This morning we went to the SCCA Christmas party, and it was wonderful. Hollie (remember, one of the volunteers they assigned me?) came with my mom, Aunt Bitsy and me, and we enjoyed some hot cocoa/coffee, listened to some gorgeous a capella music, and were even invited into the “North Pole” where local places had donated gifts for each patient and their families. I was surprised and touched to see all the gifts there. I picked out a journal for myself, Aunt Bitsy picked out “Rascal Flatts” to give to me, and Hollie chose “Apples to Apples”. I told them they were supposed to pick out presents for themselves, but they just woud not listen! My mom said we didn’t need any more stuff since we have to pack it up soon, so she didn’t get anything. :) Yah, we definitely have to start packing up soon. Can you believe we’ve almost arrived to that point—-packing to come home? Thank you to everyone who helped put together the party. I know the Matthews/McDougal/Zepke group really enjoyed it! I even took my antlers, and we took turns wearing them to show off our holiday joy. :)

After the party, Hollie had to take off to be somewhere, but my mom, Aunt Bitsy and I went to University Village to do a little browsing (but I had to leave lots of stores quickly because someone would start coughing or sniffling…I spent more time outside which was fine with me!). It was chilly out, but that is the way it should be in this season, isn’t it? :) ….just checked…still snowing!!!

Since we made our dinner reservations early to avoid the crowd, we drove around Seattle more to look at neighborhoods and Christmas lights. It was just perfect. Everything today was perfect!!!!! No, I haven’t upped my anti-depressant; the holidays (and the wonderful company) have brought out all the joy. I’m so glad I have all of you as my support network. There are several papers at SCCA that talk about “coping with the holidays”, and I just keep thinking how lucky I am. Lucky to be healthy, lucky to have so much contact with friends and family, and lucky to feel happy, I guess. So, I just pass those papers right up!!!! :) Thanks for helping me do that.

Aunt Bitsy leaves tomorrow, and I will really miss her, but we had a wonderful visit together. It’s funny ’cause when we were all little, when Laura knew Aunt Bitsy was leaving soon, she would start to tell her things like “I hate your hair” and little phrases showing that she was angry Aunt Bitsy was leaving…so my mom and I started telling Aunt Bitz that we too hate her hair. :) By the way, Aunt Bitsy woke up and pointed out that the snow is reaaaaaaally starting to come down right now! I won’t be able to get any good pictures since it’s late and I know it won’t come out through the window….I’ll try with words, how about that?!

We can only see a block up the street ’cause it’s so thick, and there are big, thick flakes dancing around under the street lamps. The streets are starting to cover themselves in white, and cars are starting to leave their tracks on the ground….you know what?!! I know an article that describes snow much better than I do…I found it last year (February 13th to be exact, in the “Washington Post”, and I loved it so much, I printed up a bunch of copies, and I even wrote the author to tell him how much I enjoyed it. So, here it is. I hope you like it!!:

“Let it Snow, Let Drifts Grow, Let Us Slow

Bring it on.

Bring on the breathless TV weather drones. Bring on the frantic milk-and-toilet-paper shoppers. Bring on the desperate homeowners fighting for the last snow shovel, stick of firewood or bag of ice melt at the hardware store. Bring on the school-closing second- guessing. Bring on the endless chorus that “no one” in Washington knows how to drive.

Bring it on.

Bring on the snow.

Silence, if only briefly, the honking and the squealing and the rubber-on-asphalt moan that is our daily soundtrack. Force us to hear the hush of falling snowflakes, an almost imperceptible sound, like two hands being rubbed together.

Throw a thick white blanket over all our human imperfections: our cracked sidewalks, our crooked shingles, our dented cars, our stinky dumpsters, our towering billboards, our trash-strewed riverbanks, our ugly strip malls, our mute and unblinking bollards.

Whiten all our window ledges.

Frost our gardens and our hedges.

Obscure all the city’s edges

With your powder so sublime.

Inspire in us a primal longing for food and shelter. Engender in some long-suppressed strand of our DNA a nervousness that drives us to the market to hunt and gather. Convince us that a few talismans - - a gallon of milk, a bag of Bugles, a roll of toilet paper — will appease the spirits, will help us survive the storm.

Let us succumb to our primitive urges.

Gather our shamans — Toppershutt, Bobryan, Suepalka — and make them chant and fall into a trance and summon forth the magic SuperDoppler.

There! On the flickering screen! It’s a bird’s-eye view of our village, etched with lines of barometric pressure and wind chill temperatures, the squiggly portents of our future, as reliable as the goat intestines our augurs once spilled.

Remind us of Nature.

Remind us that Nature isn’t our creation; we’re Nature’s, subject to its immutable rules, occasional victims of its nonchalant shrug. Remind us that Nature doesn’t care if we’re inconvenienced by winter, any more than a tree cares when we cut ourselves shaving or a stone that we sat on our cellphone.

Slow us down. Make us decide what’s really important — what trip, what task, what so-called necessity. Challenge us to find new ways to reach the nearest store, ways that don’t involve driving the paltry three-quarters of a mile.

Compel us to pull on socks and lace up boots, to bundle up and sally forth. Make us lean into the wind and hike, our footprints leaving temporary traces of our passage (for are they not a metaphor for our very lives?).

Encourage us to see the world anew, to notice how the fresh white mantle both blurs and transforms all that it covers: parked cars turned into lumpy hillocks, curbs turned into mere suggestions of the granite underneath.

Force us into close proximity with our families (without wringing one another’s necks).

When the power goes out, challenge us to somehow entertain ourselves (without wringing one another’s necks).

Shush the whiners who can’t recognize that a snowstorm is a gift. Quiet those who would have us power through the day as if it were like any other. Shut the traps of people who believe a day off school for a kid is the end of the world. Silence those who are ticked that they’re “essential personnel” — or that they’re not.

Allow us just a few hours of communion: with the huddled masses in the checkout line, with all the people shoveling off their stoops, with Nature itself.

So bring it on

Bring on the snow.

Ice, however, we could do without. And sleet. We don’t want any of that. Ditto freezing rain.”

It’s the perfect ending to the perfect day. I know the east coast probably isn’t in agreement with me right now because I’ve seen the horrible storm pictures from there. I better make clear that I only favor the benign snowstorms, where no one gets hurt, it looks beautiful, and it’s just plain ol’ fun.

On the upside though, maybe Aunt Bitsy will be stuck with us!!!! :)

Enjoy all the photos.

Love from a ***snowy*** Seattle!!


It’s a gettin’ chilly!

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Hello everyone!!! Now don’t be overwhelmed by the number of pictures in this blog…….hello?! hello?! Are you still there?!!! :) Oh well…I’ll just keep on writing whether or not you’ve already fallen asleep. hahaha Dad, remember when you said “less can be more”? Well, I just can’t seem to whittle everything down!!! Most of these shots are street shots, just little pics for you to see Seattle and for me to remember it, street by street. OK, we don’t go down every street, but each different photo reminds me of something, so to me it was important to capture it.

OK, enough defending my photos! Guess what?!!! Yesterday I received a beauuuuutiful book from Zimmer-Gunsul-Frasca Architects, LLP (the firm that designed the SCCA Clinic). It’s called “Future Tense”, and it includes photos of the firm’s designs from the past twelve years. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to go through it page by page, but I’m looking forward to it! The most touching part was that there are five pages of “thank yous” and well wishes from employees. Wait ’til you see it—their work is beautiful and their words are both touching and thoughtful.

All is going well medically. I went in to have my blood drawn to check my Cyclosporin and Magnesium levels today (they do that every Tuesday and Friday). The Cyclosporin is the big gray scary pill that turned out not to be sooo bad, but they often have to adjust the amount I take. The magnesium is what they add to my fluids which I give to myself through a pump twice a day (with the help of Mom, of course!) You know, I was just thinking….I wonder how often I repeat myself in this blog? I can’t remember what I’ve written…I’ll keep blaming the chemo/radiation and now Prednisone. Anyway, sorry if I repeat myself. Anyway, sorry if I repeat myself. hahahahaha

Yesterday was a big day for my mom, Aunt Bitsy and me. We went to “Pike’s Place Market”—basically we did a run-through because we didn’t want to be around a crowd; we saw the Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton (very cool—see pics :) ); we went for a walk on “Julie and Carol’s Way”; we ate some delicious leftovers, AND we went to look at Christmas lights!!! It felt like snow all day, but nothing yet! They’re talking about possible snow this weekend, and Seattleites are freaking out! They say that since they don’t get snow in the city often, no one knows how to drive in it and they don’t have much in the way of public trucks/sanders, etc to clear the roads….still, I would love just a little snow! There’s supposed to be lots in the mountains around here for all the skiers/snowboarders/snowshoers. Has anyone ever been snowshoeing? It sounds like fun! Difficult, but fun. I haven’t been skiing in a very long time…I wonder how I would hold up on a slope?!! Guess now’s not the time to try it out. :) And as for snowboarding, I do not think I am capable of that high level of coordination, although I do have the Wii so I can practice. By the way, I’m really good at the snow jump on the Wii…don’t think I’ll see if that translates to real life or not–a liiiiiiiittle risky, don’t you agree?

Oh! I know what I forgot to tell you. While I was resting in bed yesterday morning, I heard a little “thwack!” on my window (my blinds were up because I like to see the sunlight coming in during the early hours), and guess what?!! There was a cute little gray bird….nope, it wasn’t our cardinal, but I think Uncle Pete must have sent a trusted friend just to check in on me. He didn’t stay long, but it was long enough to make me smile. It also made me think of VA, where all my animal buddies are…not just Jameson, Guinness and Bella, but also the many deer, foxes, skunks, owls and birds that frequent our yard. You don’t get that in the city, and I always find great comfort in nature (although no offense to them, but not the creepy crawly members of nature). ;)

So I realize there will be things about the city I will miss, and things that I long for awaiting me in Virginia. I suppose this is a good place to be. Here we are, “deep thoughts with Julie” again! I know I’m feeling this way because we’re getting ready to leave here fairly soon, but I also turn 31 next week. I truly surprised myself when I felt sad last year. Of anyone, I thought, I should simply be glad I’m here…age is nothing…but there were some tears and I did indeed feel a little down, I guess because of what I didn’t have at age 30 that friends did, even though I realized the leukemia held me back. It sounds so silly. Well, this year is different. More than ever, I realize what I have and what matters, and I don’t have time to think about the other stuff…I guess none of us should ever waste the time doing that, but it’s easy to fall back into the daily grind. Anyway, this year I plan on celebrating being older!! After all, we can’t avoid it, right? And the older I get, the closer I am to making all my dream trips come true–accomplishments take time and that’s what I’ve got now (thanks to Laura, my gift of life). :)

Well, I hope you’re not asleep at your desks!! Aunt Bitsy, Mom and I are watching an old movie, “Madame X” and looking outside at the rain. I’m not sure what the rest of our day will entail, but it’s certainly nice to have good companionship, relaxing momemts to catch up on the blog, and a Christmasafied apartment looking out over the city.

Remember the sheet of fun activities I typed up in case other patients might want to try them out too, well we went by the volunteer desk today just because I wanted to make sure they received it, and they had made copies of it, and it was the top page open in their binder! I hope someone out there has some fun with it! Only annoying thing…I was being all cutesy, and I made part of the font green and part of it red, then I remembered the resource center only has a black and white printer. Oh well!!! :)

It’s dark now, and my mom is getting ready to make some more Steak Diane (mmmmmmm…), along with my favorite, spinach and artichoke casserole (Steve, I’m glad you’re not here so I can eat all the leftovers….but Aunt Bitsy loves it too!).

Enjoy the photos!! Did anyone go crazy decorating their house?

Lots of love from Seattle,