Process

Brain Cancer

Dictation sucks. My wife is currently typing (and editing) as I speak. Maybe some day I’ll be able to do this again, but right now I can’t. It sucks.

This is going to be a tough post to write. The short of it is I have a brain tumor. We’ve done a biopsy and it’s a glioblastoma, deep in my brain and inoperable, but I thought it was time that I let people know what’s going on.

This has all come on relatively quickly; we didn’t know what I had last week, but I was definitely feeling woozy and uncoordinated. On December 1st, not feeling well, I drove to New Milford for an unrelated blood test. While taking blood, the techie remarked that I looked like shit. He took my blood pressure which was very low, and then advised me that I shouldn’t drive home. But I did, stopping at my primary care doctor’s office. I was immediately waved in by the nurse who I’ve known for 25 years. She sent me home to collect my wife and check in at the emergency room at New Milford Hospital. After 7 hours attended by the fabulous Dr. Chu, a CAT scan and MRI, we got the bad news. Brain tumor. BRAIN TUMOR!

After the initial diagnosis I was on a steroid drug, and it helped me feel better. I talked and walked more easily. The tumor seems to be in the motor area of my brain although we don’t know much more than that yet. I’m off the steroid now. Lots of other chemicals are swimming around in my blood. I’m a little loopy now.

On Tuesday, December 3rd, we met with Dr. Altorelli, our long time and wonderful physician. He showed us the MRI, explained what had been learned and laid out the general plan for the upcoming weeks. He was extremely reassuring about adhering to quality of life issues that will obviously be relevant in the upcoming months. I didn’t know how he could be blunt and kindly at the same time, but he was.

On Friday, December 7th, we were sent to Yale/New Haven Hospital emergency room. Unbeknownst to us, ER’s are routinely used for diagnoses. It was very busy; my bed was in the hall which gave an interesting view of comings, goings and all kinds of strange activities. Various technicians, nurses and doctors arrived at bedside with all kinds of vague (to us) communications. Finally, they ordered their own MRI, which resulted in admission to the hospital. We already had an appointment for the following Tuesday for a biopsy and wished we’d been able to return home before the scary event. Most likely, it was best to be in the hospital for monitoring and preparation, but it sucked. No one in the three-bed room got any sleep, or knew what the heck was going on with them.

To the OR

On Tuesday December 11th, Bonnie (daughter) arrived at the hospital to be with us for the duration. She took point and steadied the elders throughout the pre-op interviews and preps. Once in Smilow Cancer Center, things seemed to go more smoothly and quickly. Everyone on the team introduced themselves and were very reassuring both with words and physical contact. They tell me that after I went to sleep, they slipped a needle through my skull and then deep into my left midbrain, then took samples of the monster in my head. They identified the tumor as a glioblastoma, but further testing will give more detailed information that will drive treatment.

Post OR

When the results are final from the the biopsy, we will meet with doctors who specialize in treatment using chemicals and radiation. We are also hoping for some immunotherapy. We have the appointments at Yale/New Haven right after Christmas. Soon we will have appointments at Memorial Sloan Kettering for second opinions.

We’ve been home for two days. The most frustrating symptom is the loss of typing and sometimes word retrieval. I don’t mind not driving since my chauffeur (Anne) is right here.

I get tired by mid day, but the sofa in front of the wood stove is very nice.

I’m going to use this blog to share information. Link to it and/or pass it around.
So, that’s it for now. I’ll update you as I know more.

Stay tuned.

Earthrise

Earthrise

I keep trying to embed NY Times video but can’t seem to do it with WordPress. Just follow the link…

This is an incredible piece put together by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee for The New York Times about how the now infamous earthrise image came about. It’s a long time ago but what a magnificent achievement (to put men on the moon).

[via Kottke.org]

How To Use iPhone’s New Shortcuts

This is a brilliant video by Snazzy Labs. I’m not really ready to try it out yet but I’m posting it to placemark it for later.

I’m using Siri a lot more these days in my wife’s Honda CR-V with CarPlay. It’s extremely useful to use on the road (not shortcuts, just speech driven phone use). I use it in my truck but only through the phone: bluetooth is so awful that I just have the phone on a mount and use it directly.

Dear young people, “Don’t Vote”

This country belongs to whomever shows up. And do you know who shows up for every election? Old people. But only 46% of people 18-34 years old voted in the last election.

Fantastic piece.

I’ve voted in every election since I was 20 and I’m 66 now. My parents drilled into my head that voting is the most important right a U.S. citizen has and no matter what, it should never be taken for granted.

Wildlife photography in Finland

This is an incredible video documenting Morten Hilmer spending 15 hours in a photo blind on the Finland/Russia border.

Morten has a youTube channel with lots of other amazing videos: Morten Hilmer: Wildlife Photography.

There are many things to like about the video and the post where I found it up on PetaPixel:

I can feel Morten’s excitement, wonder, and awe of being in that blind and being so close to amazing things. We live in a rural place and have bears, foxes, bobcats, hawks, and other large wild animals come close to the house and it excites us just as much after 25 years of it. It’s thrilling and Morton’s post and video allow us to experience that.

The video and images are wonderful and the narration works well. Just enough music but not overly dramatic, the animals and situation provide more than enough drama without overdoing it with music.

What caught my attention was Morten’s comment about going from Nikon to Canon and not having enough familiarity with the Canon body to use it without thinking. This is a crucial point for folks who regularly consider sea changes of gear and it’s true for any kind of tool we use frequently. Car dashes come to mind.

Stamps from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Tunisia

Stamp 8

Iraq

This is just a taste of some loose stamps in my collection. I have many more mounted with hinges in albums and over time I’ll be working to unmount them and get them cleaned up and scanned.

For more on how these stamps were scanned and processed check out this post.

Iran

Iran

Stamp 25

Iran

Stamp 47

Turkey

Stamp 87

Tunisia