Sunday, May 16, 2010


The weather has teased me out of my easy chair and onto the trainer (thanks Leila!) in my backyard for a spin or two. And, actually, last week I started to do some errands and various chores around the neighborhood on my bike again. (I also drove a car for the first time in two months...) I'm back!

I have to be careful (as do we all right?) to not crash and bleed.... my platelets are still low and I am still pretty low energy. But being upright on a bike out in the world feels pretty good to me!

Which, of course, reminds me of an old song...from Graham Parsons and Chris Hillman

We've all got wheels to take ourselves away
We've got telephones to say what we can't say
We all got higher and higher every day

Come on wheels take this boy away
We're not afraid to ride
We're not afraid to die come on wheels take me home today
So come on wheels take this boy away

Now when I feel my time is almost up
And destiny is in my right hand
I'll turn to him who made my faith so strong
Come on wheels make this boy a man

My favorite interpreter of this song is Emmylou Harris

Here's a cool version on YouTube of Emmylou and Elvis Costello (and Gillian Welch!)

Also a nice YouTube video doing wheels and the song "sin city" too.***

*** In which she mentions three of the ten commandments of country music: "Always do a waltz" and "Two voices are better than one" and "always do a shuffle"

I've been a fan of Emmylou since, well, I've always been a fan.

Those Big Gibson Guitars have certainly aged well haven't they?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day + 30: Restaurants!

Tomorrow is Day + 30 which means I'm allowed to eat in restaurants again! Please call ahead for reservations ;-)

I am also available for 'viewing' at home pretty much anytime. With my nearly normal White Blood Cell Count (see below) - I'm no longer a danger to myself and others. My only restrictions at this time are travel - and crowds and I'm still on a low bacteria diet - which is odd, but doable. My energy level is still "low and slow"... so I have to pace myself pretty carefully.

But basically, I'm back! Ready to Rock!***

Details Details:
Yesterday I had multiple appointments with my "team" of doctors.

The consensus is that I'm doing great! My OHSU coordinator, Carol, said that I "looked like a champ"! And Dr. Lo, my Ophthalmologist said: "The eyes look great with no sign of ocular inflammation".

For those of you playing at home... here's the #s as of yesterday:
  • White blood cell count: 4.6 (remember, in the hospital I was 0.1.. and 'normal' range is from 4.2 - 11.5)
  • Platelets: 26 (Still pretty low - but ticking up. This is the main reason for further restrictions - they worry about bleeding and bruising from everyday activity - let alone a real accident. Once I get past 50 I'm pretty much in the clear.)

***With some caveats: I have to act my age; be in bed by 10:30; groupies are limited to immediate family members only; and by drinking plenty of fluids, they apparently mean, er, Water....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The ripple effect

In Geography, we talk about the "fundamental laws" - like in physics - which are stated as:
  1. Everything is related
  2. Near things are more related than far things
  3. ***(see below)
Another way of saying this is: "distance matters". A lot of geographic analysis is based on measuring how well stuff either follows these laws, or, often more interesting, how stuff doesn't follow the law. What is immediately around you profoundly effects you - and you can have a measurable effect on your immediate neighborhood too. So I've been thinking about this because of bread.

I talked about our bread project on the blog the other day. The one where with the application of long, luxurious time, one can build a beautiful complex bread out of just a little yeast, flour and water. Well, I'm here to confess that it was a bit of a failure - mostly due to how unusually cold it is outside! Our yeast never did take off, which I guess is kind of an example of a lack of a ripple effect (note: we will persevere with another attempt tomorrow - stay tuned).

But, never worry, the day is saved (or dinner is saved anyway) by the great news I got from my "coach" and Nurse Practitioner Carol Jacoby at OHSU today: that I'm healthy enough - with sufficiently high blood counts - to be able to bend the "low bacteria diet" rules a bit. Specifically, I told her that I live just blocks from a really good bakery (the Fluer De Lis in Hollywood), and, could I possibly get baked goods from them? (The rules of the diet says that all bread has to be prepared in "commercial facilities and covered in cellophane or plastic wrap"). She also allowed that getting an espresso at a coffee shop was also OK under her interpretation - they are pouring boiling water over the beans after all!

Anyway. Julie and Carol went shopping for dinner, and stopped in at the bakery to pick up my favorite Olive Ciabatta. Turns out they were out of them - or rather - that they only make them on weekends now because, as Heather, our familiar cashier said: "since your husband isn't coming in every night to get his loaf". She then asked about me, and how the Bone Marrow Transplant had gone.... Somehow, through the local grapevine, my bakery learned what I was going through (I'm pretty sure I didn't tell them). How they found out I'm not sure - but we have a pretty tight neighborhood and the bakery is a natural gathering spot for folks. Oh, and, it is the closest one to my house.

So maybe this is kind of a little slice of "It's a Wonderful Life" where I'm seeing what the effect of my life has on the city and the local economy ... GASP! No Olive Ciabatta on Weekdays! (picture Jimmy Stewart stumbling out of the bakery wide eyed and desperate...running in his rumpled suit - arms and legs flailing - down the dark, snowy - black and white only - streets)

We all have a ripple effect in our universe of family, friends, neighbors and all our associations - some of them are emotional, some more practical, some are economic, some biological (cover your mouth when you cough!) - or usually some mysterious combination of these.

(Come to think of it, I better check in on the bartender at Moon and Sixpence - he's is probably scaling back a bit lately too...)


Ripple by the Grateful Dead.
I've never been a "deadhead" particularly, but, really, is there a sweeter song to go with this theme? I like this live version a lot - Gerry's solo guitar starts to really soar toward the end, and, the vocals are so sincere and, while not perfect, certainly earnest.

;-) enjoy.

BTW: The 3rd law of Geography is:

The area of interest is at the intersection of 2 or more map sheets.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Counting Time....

OK, so I'm feeling guilty about not "keeping up" with the blog. But, now that I'm on the other side of the bone marrow process, I've kind of started losing track of the time. My perception of time is not foreshortened, it is lengthened. Besides, recovery contains much less drama than the procedure itself did; which is good right?

And of course, (an anachronistic variation on the current saying): "there's a song for that"...
Judy Collins singing Who knows where the time goes?

Sandy Denny in a YouTube video/recording from the Fairport Covention back in "the day"

Easy Does It

An example of how my perception of time has changed: this morning, sisters, Julie and Carol - and I - sat around discussing how to plan and prepare the making of bread. Normally I am more of a "get to know your local Baker" than a "bake your own bread" kind of guy. That's why we have town centers, villages, cities in general right? Access to the tools and methods of fermentation and their results: Beer, wine and bread. That's why I live where I live. That's the foundation of civilization in general right?

Currently, in my recovery mode, I'm on a "low bacteria diet" - meaning I'm not to eat fresh fruits and vegetables (Ironic right? Isn't that what they tell you to eat to prevent Cancer?...). This diet includes a restriction on restaurant food and even bakery bread - because the loaves are not "factory sealed" in cellophane.

So. We are going to bake our own using the slow fermentation method popularized by the book: "my bread" by Jim Lahey. His thesis is that using less yeast, and more time, you yield a bread that is more subtle and satisfying - bringing out the flavor of the grain and building more complex structures and textures. But it takes a LOT of TIME. - like 18 24 hours in advance.

But sometimes, not counting the time too carefully, letting it wash away, results in the best outcomes...