Saturday, August 30, 2008

10 Years

Yesterday, Mike and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary - yay, us! August was a good month for us - a one year cancer anniversary and this. We had a low-key day after work with dinner at Raaz (Indian) at the Rio and then a movie. We were supposed to go to Elk Lake, PA again with friends, but something happened with them and we ended up not going so our weekend plans have shifted. We thought dinner and a movie was a nice way to celebrate after going to Maine the week before.

Maine was truly great. We drove up Saturday to Portland, ME and spent the night. We tooled around Portland on Sunday before driving up to our final destination: Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park. It's so hot down here in August and we tried to get our minds around 55 degrees at night before we left, but we still weren't ready for the fall-like weather. After finally finding a hotel in Portland, we put on warmer clothes from our shorts and headed into the historic and restaurant-heavy Old Port part of town. It was cool. We had dinner at the Portland Lobster Company on the pier. We sat outside (with our coats on) and enjoyed the live band and some local food. Mike had some lobster bisque since we were in Maine. After dinner, we wandered around taking pictures and such. We found a 6 foot section of the Berlin Wall sitting on one of the piers - I walked right by it at first and then we realized what it was. Simply amazing to see.

On the way up to Bar Harbor, we stopped in Freeport - the LL Bean "mecca". We had gone to LL Bean at midnight the night before just because we had heard they were open 24/7. I wasn't overly impressed because I thought the clothes wouldn't be as expensive as they were. I was thinking "outlet" when it wasn't. We did hit the LL Bean outlet on Sunday (a separate store that's not open 24/7) when we returned, but there wasn't anything I was interested in. However, we hit the jackpot at North Face and each bought winter coats for $40! Those coats sure came in handy the rest of the week as the temps dropped down a couple of nights that week.

Bar Harbor is great. We loved this tiny town right next to Acadia. We stayed at a B&B, a 10 minute walk from town (we didn't realize how close it was for 2 days and drove into town to hunt for parking). Our B&B was nice and quaint. The inn owner was very quirky, but his wife wasn't so bad. During our tour of the facilities, he stated that they don't usually have a tv, but they had made a special exception for the Olympics and had placed a 13" tv in the living room downstairs. Our host stated we were only to watch the Olympics and nothing else. I thought Mike was going to run out the door! "R" just had a very particular manner of him, kind of like an old-fashioned dad. For example, R offered to have coffee and tea waiting outside our room every morning but we were not to bring our mugs downstairs to the breakfast area because he would have new ones at each table. Fine. Our first morning, we selected our table and then went to the dining room area to see what coffee and teas were available. We didn't take the mug from our table because we were just looking and R instructed us not to take a new mug from the counter because we had our own at the table. He was just so particular, precise and anal. It drove us both a little crazy. We spent most of week just hoping we wouldn't run into him, but the location was great and the B&B itself was nice.

We had lots of lovely meals in Bar Harbor and a fantastic lunch overlooking the harbor in Southwest Harbor on the other side of the island. We met lots of dogs and lots of people. We attended a local improv show that was really funny. We took pictures of sunrise and sunset on Cadillac Mountain, which is the first place on the east coat where you can see the sunrise. We got up at 4:45am that day to get there. For some reason, I thought it would just be us up there but there were about 100 of our closes friends that morning to usher in the new day. I was kind of disappointed in the people talking about being loud because I think you should quietly appreciate the sunrise instead of goofing off and stuff. Maybe I'm old - or just grouchy that early in the morning. We walked across a sand bar at low tide to the neighboring island (with some of the same people who were up for the sunrise). We saw lots of little boats and quite a few yachts. We took 2 whale watch cruises because we were fogged in on the first trip and couldn't see anything past the boat. The 2nd trip was a success and we saw 3 whales! It was really cold out there - I'm glad we had our new winter coats!

We walked a 6 mile loop on one of the carriage trails in Acadia and did a little bit of trail hiking around Jordan Pond in the park. It was beautiful and peaceful. I really enjoyed the park and wish we had either brought our bikes or rented them. I also wish we had hiked a little more because it was so awesome. We stood in the rain to see "thunder hole" do some thundering when the high tide rolled in, but it was more like "burping hole". We also stuck our feet in the ice cold water on the only sand beach in Acadia (also in the rain) just to say we did it.

On our way back home, we stayed in Portland again for a couple of days. This time we walked to the Portland Observatory tower that had been built in 1807. It was used as a communication tower for the busy port as the ships sailed in and managed to survive a devastating fire in 1886 that wiped out half the city. It had great views of the city and the port. We also took a sunset ferry ride for $13 each. We saw a beautiful sunset and some of the islands off the coast. It was a nice way to complete our Maine vacation before we headed back home the next day.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm Alright!

It has been a LONG day, but I'm finally home and still CANCER FREE on my one year anniversary. Everything basically went well (but YOWZA did that first IV stick hurt like $*&#$&*)$). She did much better on the second try but it was too late, I got light-headed and had to sit in the chair until I could get up to walk out of the room. They scared my a bit before they told me the good news. I had just told Mike my theory that if just Dr. Dunleavy came into the room, everything was good. If the team came into the room, not so good news. Moments later, in walked my NP, Dr. Wilson (THE GUY), and another colleague. Dr. Wilson relayed the news so nonchalantly that I almost didn't catch what he said. He also said the scar tissue has shrunk even more since last time. Then they said, "See you in December." Great to hear it and relieved it's over.

Once I heard the good news, I kept picturing that dancing groundhog from Caddyshack with Kenny Loggins singing, "I'm Alright." I felt like boogying right alongside Mr. Groundhog. I was even going to try to post a picture of the cute little guy, but it's late and I'm going to bed.

Since I left NIH, I've spent a lot of time in the car between driving to Bethesda, home, National airport, Arlington (happy hour), Rockville (shopping because they lost my brother-in-law and his girlfriend's suitcase), back home, Rockville again (dinner), National airport (to pick up my mother-in-law), Iwo Jima monument in Rosslyn, the airport (they lost my mother-in-law's suitcase too). In the end, we recovered all suitcases and just arrived home at midnight. Whew, I am so ready for bed but I wanted to post the news before I got a bunch of frantic calls tomorrow that I couldn't answer because we'll be on the boat.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Jitters

Tomorrow is my 1-year check-up (although the actual “anniversary” date is August 16). I moved up my appointment from next week to tomorrow since my mother- and brother-in-law are visiting this weekend and we want to celebrate the good news with them. I’m glad now that I moved up my appointment because I won’t have to worry for another week about the test results. This week is nerve-wracking because I think every little thing is the return of Priscilla. I had severe itching the other day, which worried me until I remembered we had eaten dinner on the deck the night before and it was simply mosquito bites. I was having trouble breathing in the car and then I realized it was at least 95 degrees with high humidity and the AC hadn’t kicked in yet. I’ll know tomorrow that everything’s okay and then I’ll breathe a sigh of relief…until I go back in 4 months for my next CT!

Light the Night Honored Walker. On July 31, I was honored with 7 other blood cancer survivors at the Washington Nationals game. The LLS invited us to attend the Light the Night kick-off on the roof-top of a parking garage next to the stadium. The honored walkers were showered with attention from the moment we arrived. I sat up front at a reserved table with my teammates: Mike, Melissa, Mom & Dad at a reserved table. I received a special “honored walker t-shirt” and a MLB baseball. 2 Nationals players took time out before the game to come up to our roof-top party and talk about the National’s support for the Light the Night walk.

LLS introduced each honored walker and we were allowed to say a few words to the crowd. The cutest was 5 year old survivor, Meghan, who waved and said, “hello”. Another survivor, 3 year-old Alexis wore an adorable home-made Nationals baseball dress and a pink Nationals baseball cap with “Cancer sucks” embroidered on the back. I read her story and this little girl was diagnosed with leukemia when she was just 11 months old. She had a grueling battle, but on this night she smiled and enjoyed the moment.

Before the game started, the honored walkers were escorted all the way down to the field where we would be presented in front of the crowd! This is my 3rd Nats game. I started off in the owner’s box, moved down to the diamond level behind home plate, and now I was standing on the field. Mike says I’m spoiled for sure! Little Alexis played in the dirt, drawing wonderful pictures in the dirt until it was time for the camera shot. Her dad video taped her playing and all of us waiting for our moment, which he plans to place on youtube. Then we were moved out onto the actual field, something I thought wouldn’t happen because I know how much the groundskeeper monitors the grass! I was surprised again when the announcer introduced me as the honored walker from Montgomery County. Unfortunately, Mike didn’t see me on the jumbo-tron because my parents chose that moment to walk up to their seats and chat with Mike and Melissa. LLS had a photographer so I hope she snapped some great pictures.