Plain Start to Fresno 2020

Started January 20, 2020

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
Two weeks after the last record, I find myself wondering if it is time for more and then I go back to wondering why do these diaries at all. Twenty years ago it was to share our Kievian adventure with family and friends. Over the years, we've had plenty of interesting travel and events to share, but the diaries shifted over to our own record of our own lives, shareable, by definition, but mostly just support for our own sometimes-faulty memory.

We ended 2019 with two months of an almost-daily record and, looking back, we're glad we chose to share a "complex" period in such detail. January is less event-full. Nevertheless, I have a feeling we will value a record, so here goes.

Necessarily, I start with a cancer-survival record. Marianne lost her hair at the end of the last diary. The next day she was back into the pattern of a Wednesday blood test (all good results), on Thursday another start taking Decadron steroids for nausea-prevention, and another round of physical therapy for lumpectomy repair. Then she had the Friday infusion of the poison that cancer-treatment calls "chemo".

Saturday started well, with the Decadron holding nausea at bay. Barely. On Sunday we needed to return to Kaiser for a bone marrow booster (Zarxio), but by the time of the noon appointment, Marianne was feeling lousy and she just did not want one more chemical on board.  We left the clinic.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, our patient tolerated the Zarxio shots, but generally felt terrible. No nausea, exactly, but all sorts of other flu-like symptoms: fatigue, irritability, mood swings, general malaise. On the basis of two chemo rounds, we recognized a pattern.

Doctor Box, the oncologist, scheduled a consultation on Thursdays following Friday infusion. By then, the side effects have lessoned, so we are less agitated customers, I suppose. We always learn in these consults, particularly if we are aggressive enough to interrupt the doctor's mile-a-minute delivery of new information. Lesson one: stopping steroids prompts a "crash", a likely cause of Tuesday and Wednesday misery. (Or, it could be the taxotere poison itself.)


Lesson two: no exams to see if more chemo is needed because all this treatment is "preventative", meaning there is no known cancer lump to look at. There will be two more rounds of chemo, no more.

Lesson three: radiation will start two or three weeks after chemo #4 and brings with it limited side effects beyond fatigue and the inconvenience of four weeks of Monday through Friday trips to the radiation clinic.  No fun travel.  Then there will be five years of hormone therapy.  Marianne asked about side effects and Box replied: "Yes, but we won't talk about them yet.  I don't want you to worry."   I'm not sure she could have said anything less comforting.  At least it was raining, good weather in Fresno.

Week two of this chemo round has not been complication-free, but we have some faith it will get better.

irdhouse og So, do we have a non-medical life? Barely. Gardening was limited to cleanup and erecting our Christmas-gift bird house. No birds though. Maybe the fog keeps them away.

We worked in a trip to the Saturday farmers' market. In winter, the all-local selection is limited, but a reminder that farms do have seasons. Besides, the knife-sharpening guy only shows up once a month.  All in all, it was nice to do something "regular."

uts nives reens aisins

After this excitement, Marianne was ready for a nap.  She's ready for that more lately.  I was generally anxious.  I am that way lately.  When I was a little kid, my mom's answer to that was "Go outside and play", so I did.  I grabbed a camera, drove downtown, and looked around.

piggiemarchersThe main excitement was the 2020 Women's March.  We had made The March in 2018 and 2019, but this year the location changed to "downtown", with no more clarity than that.  Fortunately, Fresno has a very small downtown and I looked around for big crowds.  Eventually, I ran across a few dozen left-wing-looking types, with women-march themed signs.  Disappointingly small numbers. 

buildingAfter that, I looked for other photo-worth subjects and re-discovered that those are in short supply in downtown Fresno. I took one picture of a new-old building that is just finishing renewal. Nice to see some investment. Maybe with enough development, we could move into a luxury apartment here. Maybe. Later. Much later. (We tried moving to downtown San Jose a decade or two before it was popular. Should have kept that condo, except we needed the equity for other projects in our real estate saga.)

On Sunday, we did very little. Our cancer survivor was out of sorts, way out of sorts and the care-giver can be in no better sorts than the survivor. Just the way it is with us.

Toca signOn the Martin Luther King holiday, we had an art show to hang. Our local art gallery, Vernissage, had arranged for some of the locals to hang art at the Toca Madera Winery, just north of Fresno. As we understand it, Toca will be part of the Wine and Chocolate shows February 8 and 9. Marianne is hoping attendees will drink a lot and celebrate with some good art to go with their wine. Please attend, if you are in the neighborhood.

abstractswood panelsbarrels

Curry signpizzaAll this work made us hungry and we headed to Curry Pizza, one of the nations top 100 restaurants, according to Yelp. I have my doubts about the criteria, as the place was dead simple, plastic forks and all, but the pizza was truely outstanding. The combination of flavors from India on the best pizza crust we may have ever had, merit a special mention in the diaries.

Who says Fresno isn't multi-cultural!

Tuesday, we were back to out of sorts. The survivor is getting tired of this. She did take a break to get a free wig from the American Cancer Society, but I'm not allowed pictures before it is properly styled. (Next diary)

On Wednesday, we left Fresno, bound for grandkids and all the out-of-sorts disappeared. Pictures and story next time.

Stay tuned,

John and Marianne