Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brain Rads Results, Thanksgiving, and Vegas Baby!

I've been pretty busy over the past couple of weeks, finishing brain radiation, celebrating Thanksgiving with the family and enjoying a trip to Las Vegas.  Considering the fact that I was staggering like a drunk person when I started rads, I'm pretty happy with my recovery.  I was in such a state of confusion that I couldn't even make popcorn - something I've done since I was ten years old.  And the night I tried to fill my pill bottle...oh my, I made such a mess of it that it took an hour for my son Joe to help me straighten things out!  But I am back!!!  I am happy to say that I am almost fully functional - balance has improved dramatically, I can make that popcorn, my keyboarding skills are almost back to normal, and I made homemade spaghetti sauce last night.  And I'm back to driving so I was able to do a little grocery shopping.  My glucose levels are back down to earth after reaching stratospheric levels while on steroids.  I have to admit seeing 400 on that meter was darn scary!

Speaking of food, now is a good time to say a big "thank you so much" to you "Meal Train" friends.  It was so generous of you all, every meal was absolutely wonderful and you spared me lots of take-out, for which I am eternally grateful.  And so are Rick and Joe!  My handwriting still sucks, so I probably won't manage to send written thank you notes, but do know that we recognize how lucky we are to have such wonderful, caring and helpful friends and family.

I don't seem to have suffered any real side effects from the rads except for the promised hair loss.  It's mostly gone again and it's questionable whether or not it will ever grow back.  Christine took me to a wig shop in Acton, made a selection and picked it up on Tuesday (right before the fallout).  Unfortunately, it turns out that it's too big for my little bald dome so I'm going back to the shop tomorrow and we'll try again.  I told Peg (the stylist) that I needed a petite one but she measured and said I measured as average.  I should have told her I had a lot of hair.  That wig fit ok on Tuesday and by Thursday I was swimming in it and it wouldn't stay in place.  The good news is she didn't cut it and she can send it back.  The bad news is that it won't be the same style because she sold me one from a line of wigs on closeout and so I'll have to choose from a whole new assortment.  I've had more looks than a chameleon in the past year and a half!  Here is the latest look:

We had a lovely Thanksgiving Day with our family.  We enjoyed tortiere (French Canadian pork pie) around 11 at Ron and Christine's home, then we all headed to Paul and Christine's for the main event.  And it was quite a meal - 23 pounds of beautiful turkey, stuffing, mashed pots, gravy, sweet potatoes, parsnips, cranberry sauce, homemade bread by Paul's uncle, onion relish, peas with pancetta and shallots, French silk pie and chocolate pecan pie!  It was an awesome meal prepared by Christine and Paul's parents.  I was pretty much relegated to a bar stool in the kitchen and a couple of chopping duties.  I don't think I've ever done less for a holiday meal and I thank everyone else for picking up my slack. 

On Friday morning we left for our trip to Las Vegas.  Our mission was to scatter my mom's ashes on Mt. Charleston overlooking the city, take a hot air balloon ride, see a couple of shows, and win some money.  All missions accomplished except for that last one.  We had a great time but Vegas took our money.  And I found out that I have a lot less endurance than in the past!  Haha, I thought I could go to Vegas and walk that Strip like I used to, but I have to concede that the Strip beat me up.  Everything is so big and so spread out that you can walk a quarter mile just crossing the street!  Escalator up, cross over the pedestrian walkway, escalator down, then another quarter mile to get into the casino.  I can see why the older generation goes to Fremont St (downtown) because it's so much more contained and it's actually possible to walk out of one casino and into the next one rather easily.  The Fremont Experience is quite good and I recommend anyone visiting the area should check it out.  Here's a link for your perusal:

We stayed at the Aria at City Center, a relatively new property very convenient to the Bellagio, Monte Carlo and NYNY.  The hotel rooms make use of  technology in a way I've never experienced before.  There was an iPad on the bedside table with connectivity to every system in the room.  It controlled drapes, lighting, temperature, audio and video.  You could use it to control bedtime and wakeup settings like turning everything off at night or opening the drapes in the morning - very cool!  Here's a link to the room details at the hotel's website, including a link to a virtual tour of a room.

We got this hotel for an excellent price considering its 5 star rating, and it didn't disappoint.  It really is the most luxurious, most technology-forward hotel we've ever booked.  I used Hotwire and didn't know what hotel it would be until I paid and when Hotwire revealed it was Aria, I knew we'd be delighted. 

On Sunday we drove to Mt. Charleston to find a good spot to scatter mom's ashes.  The mountainous terrain didn't offer up many good spots, but we found a place at the historic site of an old ski tow at 7600 ft.

Click on the link below and then click on "slideshow" just above the first picture on the left.

Monday morning, bright and early, our pilot Kevin picked us up at the hotel and transported us to the pre-flight meeting place...wisely, a Starbucks.  It's almost impossible to get a cup of coffee in the hotel or casino at that time of the morning, except as we learned, at one of the bars.  Thank goodness!  Once we arrived at the launch site, the balloon was unloaded, inflated with giant fans and then the air was heated to make it "rise."  We entered the basket - no easy trick for me.  It had two foot holes, one low and one high.  My leg wasn't long enough to reach the higher hole so Rick helped me up to the edge of the basket and I sort of "fell"! We lifted off and rose to about 4000 ft during our 1 hour 12 minute flight.  There was very little wind and the pilot kept trying different altitudes to find a breeze, but it wasn't to be.  So we just floated for 2.2 miles and came down in a lot similar to the one where we departed.  Once the balloon was repacked and stored, we had a champagne toast and Kevin told a few stories. 

I LOVED the balloon ride, it was so calm and peaceful and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.  Maybe I'll just have to take a ride in one of our local balloons.

We saw two shows - Blue Man Group and Cirque Du Soleil's Zumanity.  We thought Blue Man Group was ok and perhaps overpriced.  Zumanity was funny, sexy, and everything we've learned to expect from a Cirque show. 

We had a lovely dinner at Vic and Anthony's in the Golden Nugget on Sunday night.  TripAdvisor rates it as #6 out of 2180 restaurants and it was the highest rated steakhouse.  It did not disappoint us - the steaks were fabulous and so were the scalloped potatoes.  On the other hand, we ate lunch on Monday at Todd English's Olives.  Rick had a burger that was good, his fries were average.  I ordered a brick oven-roasted free range chicken that was dry and unseasoned.  I ate just a small portion of the meal and commented to the waiter on its lack of flavor.   They comp'd my meal, which was appropriate, all things considered. 

Vegas casinos are full of amazing things that you just won't see anywhere else.  Here are a few pictures of things that caught our attention:

Yes, this is a chocolate dragon.  Jean Philipe Patisserie at Bellagio and Aria had the most beautiful chocolate sculptures and an amazing chocolate fountain.

This is a chocolate santa sitting in a chocolate chair!

Yup, these 3 pictures are of the biggest chocolate fountain I've ever seen.

Our Delta flights were all on time and lacking any drama.  Actually, they offered in Boston to check carry-ons because the flight was full so we checked my bag (we had already checked the bag with mom's cremains on advice from the funeral director).  On the return trip, they once again offered to gate check the carry-ons through to Boston, so we didn't have to deal with them.  Our flight into Boston arrived about 25 minutes early and our shuttle service was waiting for us.  It was good not to have to make the drive ourselves as we were tired. 

The trip was awesome but I was ready to be seated in my recliner!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Brain radiation doing ok

Just a quick note to let you know that I seem to be tolerating whole brain radiation fairly well. I am still struggling with typing and my balance is not great. But I am hanging in there. The fatigue has found me along with the steroid "can't sleep" issue. But I am coping and Rick is ever watchful of my every move. I managed to put away some laundry while he is off to the store. It made me feel good to be able to do something productive.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A scary time...

We went to the ER on Monday morning because I was having neurological problems. A brain PET scan showed that I have brain mets. So I started whole brain radiation on Wednesday -l0 treatments. I will be bald again, probably for a long time if not is I will provide more details when I can type better.