Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Salad Nicoise

Joan has lost almost all the appetite she had before this last round of chemo. We are worried that she will lose even more weight and become dangerously weak. How would Nigella cope with such a loss of appetite?

At lunchtime she tried a favourite recipe with the hope that she could eat it. The meal is a salad...Salad Nicoise. As with most of these meals, by the time she has prepared it she has lost all desire to eat. She did have some and I enjoyed my portion. This is a lovely snack meal.

Here is a pic of the leftovers and below the recipe.

Ingredients: 3 small potatoes, 2 eggs, parsley, 3-4 cherry tomatoes, anchovies and olives, approx. 12 green beans and a small can of Tuna in oil.

Method: Boil the potatoes and eggs; peel.
Cook the green beans.
Cut the eggs and potatoes into bite size pieces.
Cut tomatoes into halves
Combine all ingredients and chill.
Serve on lettuce leaves.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Xmas and the New Year

Christmas was hot and without snow. We drove up north of the city to Joan’s sister’s place. Katherine, our niece, Dorothy and Mike’s daughter was over from the U.S. along with her fiance Rick. It was a most pleasant day , but we left early at around 4pm as Joan was feeling poorly. Katherine and Rick changed their itinerary to attend Helen and James’ wedding.

It is over one week since Joan’s infusion of Irinotecan and it has been most debilitating. Once again she has lost her appetite and is sleeping about 15 or more hours a day. We usually host a New Year’s get together with a few of our friends, but unfortunately Joan is not able to manage an evening even if everyone brings a ‘plate’*. I will call the usual guests tomorrow to let them know.

Each new year’s show seems to finish earlier...I doubt if any of our friends have actually seen in the New Year for years.

Years ago I had a local studio put some of our 1960s/70s Super8 movie film onto DVD. A few days ago I decided to try and extract some scenes of our kids when they were quite young living in Papua New Guinea. It has been a bit of a learning curve for Kev, but I think I have been able to save the bits I needed using the Demo version of a program called Screenium. The demo allows 30 second grabs which seems to be about the size of the scenes I want to extract. A couple these grabs will appear in future blogs.

* a ‘plate’ is old fashioned Australian for a plate with food on it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Assange mimicry

Well, that creepy guy Julian Assange certainly is well known around the world. He has been very influentual and has a big following of ‘friends’ who are defending his right to expose stuff about the U.S.. Seems like the only way we are to get leaks about other nations, including Australia, is through U.S. diplomatic cables mentioning our Pollies.

He has influenced a young football groupy who is posting compromising photos of some of the much loved sports heroes on Facebook. Just like Julian, she promises more exposes in the form of photos, regularly. She has achieved Australia-wide notoriety and has done dozens of interviews and been reported on by just about every newspaper in Aus. This gal is just 17; claims to have had a stillborn baby to a footy player, had sex with a couple of other players and now wants to punish footy blokes, especially those in the Saints Football Club. Julian is also out to punish the U.S. for its reaction to his leaks.

A Russian billionaire (aren’t there lots of them!?) publisher is cooperating with Assange to expose corruption in Russia. Watch out mate; people who blow the whistle in Russia don’t usually last too long.

Here is a link to that young 'lady’s' story.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

compromised immune system

Monday afternoon we visited the oncologist and he ordered the makeup of the Irinotecan. It is a lesser dose than she will get in the future if this infusion does not have extreme side effects.

A big worry is what Irinotecan does to the white blood cells and the immune system (neutropenia). I have suggested that Joan make up a badge which tells people that her immune system is compromised. She doesn’t need any infections from well-meaning huggers.

The infusion is administered by nurses in the Ivy Suite just down the hall from his office. The ‘Ivy’ Suite is so named, not for some floral tribute, but because all the chemo is administered by IV infusion. I guess it could also get its name from Poison Ivy. It was 8pm when Joan phoned me to collect her.

The oncologist’s waiting room is seldom a place of joy. There are sometimes ‘newbies’ with the look of hope. There are others who are near their end and look resigned to their fate. We are still with hope at this stage....there is the hope of extended time if not a remission. Joan hopes for a few years yet.

Oncology must be a very stressful facet of medicine, but it must be very rewarding when there is a success story.

So far Joan has not had any side effects from ‘Angry Irene’ but most of the nasties present after a few days. She still has a reasonable appetite, but cannot eat red meat. No curries for her these days.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Helen and James- 18th December 2010

The wedding of our daughter Helen to James went off very well. Earlier in the morning it was overcast which is good for photographs, but as we arrived at Minim Cove, the sun came out in all its eye torturing brilliance.

The bridal party did the photos at a nearby park and then it was off to the Red Herring for the reception. The food, drinks and service was excellent and we fronted up to pay,it didn't break the bank.

Some Pics....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An anniversary

Today is the anniversary of Joan's diagnosis of bowel, liver and lung cancer. She went to the GP to hear what the scan had to say about a minor pain and some nausea. I was at home and had a phone call to come straight in to the explanation...just come now. I guessed what it might be but I wasn't prepared for the number and spread of the tumours and the advanced stage of the disease. Many tears that day 12 months ago.

The treatment has been harsh...probably worse than the cancer. Joan has lost 30 kilograms and is quite weak, but still driving and enjoying the company of friends. Next Monday she recommences chemo with a new (to her) drug named, Irinotecan and it promises to be very debilitating with all the side effects of the worst of them.

It has been a bastard of a year! So no anniversary presents please.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Zillund

New Zealand is quite close to Australia and both countries speak the same language; English....well sort of.

The New Zealanders have an accent which is a bit grating, something like the Africaans accent. We in Australia of course have perfect diction and nobody can take the micky out of us about how we speak English.

You too can learn the image to enlarge

A few years ago we were touring in NZ and took the ferry from Wellington in the North Island to Picton in the South Island. Mid way the weather got a bit nasty and a loudspeaker announcement suggested that....’All those pissengers on the top dick should now come inside’. I couldn’t help laughing and other local passengers looked at me as though I was two steaks short of a barbie.

New Zealand does have a lot to offer the tourist and it is all within reasonable driving distance. Australia is at the moment trying to boost the tourist trade by putting Oz on the world scene by having Oprah gush about us. Trouble is that Aus is a big place and the distance between touristy sites is mostly too far to drive and too expensive to fly. One can drive North in Western Australia for a thousand kilometres before seeing anything really spectacular. Even a week at Rottnest Island , 12 miles off the coast at Fremantle, costs more than a flight to Bali including hotel accommodation.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Helen and James should be getting excited at the prospect of their wedding this coming Saturday. We have borrowed a wheelchair for Joan in case the effort of walking down to the gardens for the ceremony will make her too tired to enjoy the reception. She is not too thrilled at giving in and being wheeled down by me, but realises that it must be so just for that part of the day.

Computers given to me are reloaded with an appropriate operating system and software; tested thoroughly before giving them to needy folks. A recent donation was from a young IT specialist at a large Australia-wide publishing company. The 11 machines are Mac G5 towers; solid workhorses beautifully made with solid aluminium cases. He told me that two of them don't work and that another top notch machine was experiencing a Kernel Panic. It is such a nice machine I made a huge effort and got it running and was pretty proud of myself. As a precaution it has been in use for a few weeks, but yesterday it fell down with the black screen and instructions in different languages.
It's not going to recycling like the other stuff in my trailer....too good for the tip!
A few pics of that G5.....
there are two sets of fans which just slide out of the box.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big Julie

Julian Assange has been arrested and it looks like his fame has spread worldwide. I reckon he is up for Time Magazine’s ‘Man of the Year’ cover. Time’s Man of the Year cover doesn’t always show the nice guys.

Some things should be exposed to the world, but some things shouldn’t and I believe he has been a bit naughty in exposing diplomatic cables. U.S. consular staff assessments of world leaders look bad when there are no similar assessment of the U.S. leaders by foreign governments. That is most probably because those foreign governments haven’t (yet) had an insider sell the documents. Can you imagine what foreign governments would have said about George Bush? Is it just me, or does Jules look more than a bit creepy?

This week I have placed a couple of computers with needy folks. One was to an Aboriginal fellow who strangely, out of the blue, asked if I had a sickness. I told him about Joan’s fight with the BigC and he offered me an Aboriginal bush medicine which he assures me will cure her.
I took up his offer and although it doesn’t taste too good, Joan is trying it.
We both know that different cancers; prostate, liver, lung, breast cancers are treated with different chemo regimes and a single tea concoction from tree bark is not going to be a wonder drug. We also know that it can’t really hurt and is worth a try.

Another Mac was installed for a woman who is going through a tough time with a mental condition. She brightened up considerably when she fired the machine up and talked about the world that would be opening up to her when she connects to the WWW.

I loaned another Mac to a young Indian man, who has been employed in Australia for 6 years. He is an IT person who works for the Education Department in Perth. In recent times schools are going back to Mac computers in classrooms and the Education Department doesn’t have any Mac savvy IT people to support them. He hopes to get up to speed on the borrowed Mac and will give it back when he thinks he is familiar with the operating system. He is very bright and shouldn’t take too long to get the hang of it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Angry Irene

Our plasma TV has started to die. It has a vertical red stripe about three inches wide on the RH side. It is about 5 years old and cost around $2,600 when we bought it. It isn’t one of the major brands. In fact, when I mention the name, people smile.

Yesterday we bought a Panasonic 50” Plasma HD TV and thrown in the deal was a Panasonic Blue Ray 3D player priced at $399. Along with a 5 year extended warranty the package cost around $1800.

The TV will be delivered tomorrow and I will have to dispose of the old one. In some suburbs it would go on the verge and be snapped up in minutes, but this suburb with dozens of cul-de-sacs, doesn’t lend itself to ‘GutterMart’ curb-crawlers. Off to landfill?

The technological advances in the new TV over the old one are significant.
It has all sorts of tricks that need to be setup by a 10 year old child. Where will I find one?

Not long until Helen and James wed. Two days later Joan starts the chemotherapy, Irinotecan....colloquially called ‘Angry Irene’. Something to look forward to for Christmas?

Friday, December 3, 2010

A delayed chemotherapy session

Today we went to see the oncologist. We talked about the chemotherapy regime Joan was about to embark on and he told us that, yes indeed, Joan would lose her hair, feel nauseous and suffer badly from diarrhea. Joan was upset with that news as she wanted to be as good as possible for Helen's wedding on December 18th.

He told us he could delay the chemo if she so decided. He reminded us that the radiotherapy is not terribly effective without chemo follow up and gave us the chance to consider her options. Personally, I wanted Joan to have every chance and do the chemo, but she opted for the delay which is her right. The Oncologist did say that he could have started her on a light dose before the wedding and increase the dose after the ceremony. I guess she will be straight into the full hit when she starts Irinotecan on the 20th of December.

I finally got my iPhone working. One of the problems was the $40 hard case we bought which was holding down some of the buttons on the side. It is now working like a charm, but as yet nobody has called me. Tomorrow morning I am going to put my name (Sharon) along with my mobile number at bus stops suggesting people 'ring me for a good time'.