Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
Another April week, this time with a little travel. In form, we continue our three-part record of war, health, and things that distract.
Ukraine and War
No new word from friend Lena. Overall, the country is cleaning up from the successful Battle of Kyiv, cleaning wreckage and burying almost 1,000 civilians. In the south, the Naval Battle of the Black Sea has been won by technology and technique as the Ukrainians used a pair of home-grown cruise missiles to sink the 634-foot Russian flagship, the Moskva. The ship bristled with defensive weapons to defeat just such a threat, but weather, luck, diversionary feints by drones, and amazing water-skimming missiles won. This battle will be studied by navies around the world.
Now, the Battle of The Donbas is starting with opening salvos of Russian missiles, rockets, and shelling. Death is the only result that is certain.
Health: Covid, A Test, Chemo, and Cancer
Covid messages are a mix of "it's over" and "it's back". Our compromised household remains mostly-masked and cautious. When will this end for all of us?
Speaking of ending, I had the last of my annual exams for the Project Baseline health study. This required a drive up to a Stanford study clinic in Los Altos, just around the corner from the former Tesla world headquarters. It also required 25 blood samples, mobility tests, mental health questions, and a heart imaging session. This was the end of my five-year enlistment, and I still don't know what my testing record really means. The program started out very ambitious, but that enthusiasm may have been defeated by Covid complications and the reality of how expensive long-term health studies can be.
Chemo continues for Marianne and this week saw her penultimate infusion session. Once again, it was an unpleasant experience, between the pokes and the pain of the chemicals introduced to veins. Just one more session to go.
In her hours-long session, Marianne struck up a conversation with the hooked-up woman next to her. They reportedly discussed cancer, chemo, and plans for when treatment would be over. They discussed the desire to travel again, and both agreed that living overseas was even better than travel. The neighbor mentioned that she had lived in Brazil for 20 years and THAT was interesting. Marianne asked where: "Rio" and where in Rio: "Botofogo". Her husband had worked for the power company Furnas.
Marianne texted all this to me as I waited out in the parking lot and I immediately recognized who her infusion neighbor was: the wife of my work colleague four decades ago, Igor Suckau. Marianne asked her "Are you Susan?" "YES!"
With this news, I went to the clinic to see for myself and Igor himself preceded me into the "no visitor" zone. (We were both given permission.) Everyone was shocked by the remarkable reunion and after as much conversation as we were allowed before the nurses and staff needed to go home, we vowed to stay in touch. We will, for sure.
The Friday Project Baseline appointment led to our real distraction of the week: visits with family and friends. On Thursday, we drove up to Monte Sereno to the Rahimi house, but the only welcoming committee was a pair of dogs: little Sarbi and older cousin Charli. The host family was still on vacation in Hawaii.
While I went to my appointment, Marianne went shopping with friend Adrienne, shopping and chatting, among their favorite distractions. After that excursion, Marianne and I enjoyed a lunch-dinner at Shepherd & Sims. Since this was Good Friday, we did fish: tuna salad for me and octopus salad for Marianne. We finished with Baked Alaska, one each, since sharing didn't seem festive. It was all wonderful.
On Saturday, Adrienne picked Marianne up for their lunch date with Rita and Ovilie "over the hill" in Santa Cruz. The four have been friends for a half century at least. The crowded restaurant made Marianne nervous, but the company was worth it. I hope we will become more crowd-comfortable in the near future.
While the girls ate and chatted, I read, walked the dogs, and took flower pictures. It's what I do when left alone at the Rahimi Resort.
That evening, I drove Gabby's giant GMC SUV to pick up the family at San Jose airport. I should have taken happy pictures, but I think I was too nervous from driving and too excited at seeing the family for the first time in awhile.
Back home, Gigi could not wait and after appropriate hugs, told the kids to check out their rooms for new developments. They both returned with Easter baskets filled with goodies. It's a good thing their dad is a dentist.
For Easter Sunday, the original plan was for a big Rahimi family gathering, with the normal two-dozen brothers, wives, moms, and cousins. However, Marianne was feeling puny, some of the other family were sniffling, and we were all still Covid-cautious. At the last minute, the whole gathering collapsed. There will be another holiday, after the current times of trepidation.
That left our little family with a very relaxed day. There was a brunch, an Easter Egg Hunt, chatting, and screen watching. Marianne said it was the best day she could have imagined. After all that's been happening, that brought me to tears, good tears.
A few pictures.
Monday came quickly and it was time to return to school, work, and home in Fresno. We will return in a few weeks, after chemo is over, and when we hope our patient is feeling more energetic and comfortable in crowds. We'll see.
John and Marianne