Sunday, December 28, 2008
This is University of Michigan Hospital in a snow storm. We had four storms in the two weeks were there, so we didn't get around to exploring Ann Arbor as much as we wanted to.
Tom had ten sessions in all. From start to finish, his treatment time each day was 20 minutes - they are very efficient at U of M hospital.
He'd walk into the radiation clinic, sign in on the computer just inside the door, then head for the radiation room. By the time he'd walked down the hallway, they were ready for him; he rarely had to wait.
One day I went with him to see the giant radiation machine. That's it below, with Tom being set up by the technicians.
It's pretty simple - Tom would lay on the table, the technicians would line up the tiny tattoo dots on his chest and sides with the red laser beams, and then they'd leave the room and turn on the beams.
Although I wasn't in the room when they were radiating him (no one is allowed in there), the techs were kind enough to let me photograph Tom as they prepared him for his treatment. Had to shoot fast - they had him on the table and lined up in about 90 seconds!
He went through all ten treatments with very little side effects - just a touch of radiation redness on his back and chest, but he said it didn't burn at all. He was tired much of the time, but the hotel was quiet and he was able to get plenty of sleep.
His radiation oncologist told us that since radiation is accumulative, he may see some additional side effects in the upcoming weeks. This has turned out to be true, but so far has been minor stuff.
The good news is that he's been able to eat better, and is able to get nearly all foods down. He's still sticking with mostly soft foods, but does attempt chicken and fish once in a while. He's definitely noticed an improvement in swallowing.
He's become calorie-conscious to the extreme - he writes down everything he eats and how many calories each item is, so he can track the calorie totals every day. On his good days he's managing 2500-2700 cals, and on his bad days he drops to 1500-1800. He's having more good days than bad, and last week he actually gained two pounds.
He's discovered that if he's tired and takes a nap, he can then continue his day with renewed strength. And once in a while, I even sneak in a nap with him . . . caregivers deserve a break too!
Friday, December 19, 2008
CHRISTMAS AT ARLINGTON CEMETERY
(I wonder why the press hasn't enlightened the public about it??)
Arlington National Cemetery
Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell...
Readers may be interested to know that these wreaths -- some 5,000 -- are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine . The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He's done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Also, most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one the poorest parts of the state.
Please share this with everyone on your address list. You hear too much about the bad things people do. Everyone should hear about the good things.
(thanks to my good friend, Dan Buckley, for sharing this)
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The plan was to come back this Monday for radiation - daily treatments for one week, then two weeks off, then back for a final week. But Dr Pan mentioned that he felt that Tom could handle a shorter program, a bit more intensified, and surprised us by saying that he could start his first treatment in an hour!
We jumped at the opportunity to get started, and made arrangements to stay an extra day in Ann Arbor so Tom could have his second treatment on Friday. It's quite fast - total time from when he walked into the hospital to the moment he scooped me up from the waiting room was only 20 minutes.
The new treatment plan is for Tom to get ten days of radiation, beginning this past Thursday. They don't do treatments on weekends, so at the moment we're home but getting ready to return to Ann Arbor on Sunday for his next radiation on Monday. He'll continue through the week, treatments every day, and then back again the following week. His last radiation treatment will be on Christmas Eve.
As Tom puts it - "This is my own personal Christmas present - I'm all done with radiation just in time for Christmas! Two down, eight to go." And he said it with a smile.
After only two treatments, he feels he's swallowing easier, and he's hardly thrown up at all today. (Well, maybe a few times, but that's a major improvement so he's pleased.) It's possible that the continued radiation may cause severe irritation when he swallows, but it may also make it easier for him to swallow. They don't have any way of knowing which way it will go for Tom, as each person reacts differently to radiation. But so far, it's been an improvement - hurray!!!
He was feeling pretty good this morning, so we buzzed out for a quick shopping trip. On our return, he installed a new tv antenna - in 25 degree temps and a strong blowing wind. On a ladder. He's not good with ladders, so our neighbor Randey helped out with the installation. But Tom is a determined guy when it comes to doing things, and by the end of today he was planning on seeing some decent tv with a decent antenna - no more of those darned rabbit ears!
So he got the antenna up, wired it to the tv at the opposite end of the house, and - after a short nap - was able to watch good digital 15 channels instead of the one lousy analog channel we'd been receiving previously. He's happy because he found a station that shows old MASH reruns, and I'm tickled that I can actually get in some good PBS and some foodie and travel shows.
So it's back to Ann Arbor for us tomorrow, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that the radiation will make Tom able to eat easier. So far so good - okay, everyone cross your fingers for us!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
When a photographer friend showed me his first attempt at creating his own video with Animoto, I have to admit I was impressed. He was just playing around with some images, and the end result was fabulous. I'm definitely sold on Animoto.
If you are looking for a quick and easy web application to put together your photos for a free short slide show, Animoto Productions is just what you need.
You can create a holiday greetings video - of your pets, your kids, your skiing trip, your office Christmas party - or just about anything else you'd like to share. You upload the photos, use either their music (and they have lots of licensed tunes to choose from) or your own uploaded music, and they'll put it all together in a customized short video that looks just like a movie trailer.
Like hip-hop? Punk? Mozart? Animoto's technology works with your images, taking into account the genre, energy, vocals and instrumentals your selected music needs to match your photos for a one-of-a-kind video.
Based in New York City, Animoto consists of a bunch of techie tv and film producers who create with a wide-screen format with a motion and energy "movie-feel" to them.
The same television and movie skills these veteran-techies used in the film and television industries make Animoto a perfect choice for both personal and business films. Their credentials include the 2003 and 2004 Video Music Awards (MTV); the Katrina Benefit (ABC, NBC, CBS); Worlds Aids Day Concert (MTV); Dr. Keith Albow (Warner Brothers); The Constitution (ABC); Alanis Morissette Concert (Viacom); Peter Jennings: The Kennedy Assassination - Beyond Conspiracy (ABC); Steep: A Documentary of Extreme Skiing (The Documentary Group), and many more industry works.
Animoto videos only take minutes to create, are never boring, and you can share them with family, friends, co-workers, customers or anyone you wish to send them to. Once you have chosen your photos, you can actually create a short video that's embed-able in your website, or can be downloaded or emailed, too. They can even be included in sites like Facebook and MySpace.
Make unlimited short films for free, or you can sign up for their business program. For commercial needs, Animoto creates dvd-qulaity videos for any kind of business. A wide variety of companies have used Animoto, including wineries, real estate brokers, wedding photographers, sports teams, and on-line retailers.
Animoto costs $99 for three months, or $249 for a full year. You can also purchase - or give as a gift - an all-access pass for $30. If you decide to sign in to Animoto, please click on the Animoto button at right, or use my referral number prjusnxl - thanks!
Here's just a few accolades:
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Flip is a quickie way to turn your typing upside down.
It's easy to do - just go to the Flip site , type in whatever you want to say in the top box, and it turns your words upside down in the box below. Then all you have to do is copy and paste the new copy to wherever you want to use it.
A lot of flippin' can make you crazy, though - I was trying out sentences, and it didn't take long before my eyes started to cross. But for short statements which are bound to catch attention, Flip is lots of fun.
Want to drive someone nuts - Flip 'em!
♥♥ ¡¡ʎɐp ʇɐǝɹƃ ɐ ǝʌɐɥ ♥♥
Saturday, December 06, 2008
When I wrote Dr Pan, I had no idea of what to expect. He's a pretty busy guy, carrying both an oncology practice and as an Assistant Professor at U of M. I didn't know when he would see my email, or even when he would have time to figure out something that would help Tom.
But, as Tom keeps reminding me, God works in mysterious ways. (I say it differently: "God is weird but good, and I am thankful.")
Less than 30 minutes after I wrote that email, Dr Pan was on the phone with us. Thirty minutes!! I was astounded.
And here's what he said:
First, he apologized for not making his treatment plan clear to us. He told us that Tom would be starting radiation treatment, and that this treatment would help both with Tom's esophagus and with the lymph nodes and spine, as they were all in close proximity to each other. He did confirm that the bone biopsy Tom had last week showed cancer in the spine.
Dr Pan said that after Tom's radiation treatment, he would begin chemotherapy, the goal being to try killing off any floating cancer cells that might be wandering around.
That's the part that we didn't get. I don't believe it was Dr Pan's fault that we didn't hear that part. When we learned that Tom might also have colon cancer, it was so overwhelming that we just missed hearing Dr Pan's game plan. At that moment, Tom and I definitely went blank, and we missed the full scope of Dr Pan's treatment plan. (But how endearing that he would take the blame . . . )
We completely misunderstood what was to happen, and believed that the only treatment on the table was palliative care through radiation. But - thank you, thank you, thank you, Dr Pan - this isn't what is going to happen, and within the next couple of weeks Tom will be undergoing his first step his fight to live.
Dr Pan talked with us for more than 30 minutes. He wasn't in a hurry, and he answered all our questions, making sure that the treatment plan was covered thoroughly. Dr Pan is my Hero of the Day.
He explained that after radiation, Tom will then start chemo. The good news is that the chemo he will be using is also the type used in colon cancer, meaning that this will overlap and have a positive effect on that too.
Dr Pan made it clear that at this moment, they do not know for certain that Tom has colon cancer. It is possible that the MRI may be showing the colon overlapping itself in such a way that it looks like a small mass, but might not be. He's more concerned about fighting the other cancers, and for now, since it's not causing any problems we've agreed to put specific colon cancer treatment on hold.
Now more than ever, we are convinced that U of M Hospital is the right place to be. Although it means long driving trips for treatment, and more time away from home than we wish, we know that we are getting the best treatment possible. They are People Who Care, and Dr Pan is one of many. In a huge medical system where it would be so very easy to treat patients as numbers, we've found compassion and understanding every step of the way, from nearly every medical professional we've met. We love University of Michigan Hospital.
(Dr Pan, if you read this, thank you for taking such a heavy load from our shoulders. The last couple of weeks were tough, and your call was so welcomed. We realize that there are no promises and understand that there's a long road ahead, but at least now we know that Tom has a fighting chance, and we are so grateful for that. You made our day.)
Friday, December 05, 2008
Dear Dr. Pan,
My husband is Tom Pulsipher, patient # 0388x xxx. We met with you two weeks ago, on November 18th, about Tom's esophageal cancer. Since then, he's had a spine biopsy, but has not yet been scheduled for a colonoscopy.
Tom has been seeking help for his illness since June. It's been a long, difficult road of sickness, countless appointments with doctors near and far, plus tests and more tests. It wasn't until we arrived at U of M Hospital a month ago that he felt he was finally getting help. The staff at U of M has done more for him in the past four weeks than all the previous doctors in the 5 months prior. We are grateful.
Although we already knew about Tom's cancer spreading to both his spine and lymph nodes, it was tough to learn about the possible colon cancer. But Tom still feels the same way he did before - he wants to fight his cancer as best he can. He was terribly disappointed and upset to learn that he was only being offered palliative care.
From the beginning, he's been an atypical patient. He doesn't smoke or drink, and he didn't feel any signs of discomfort until late this Spring. He tried so hard to get help, but the diagnosis was missed until October, all the while he was physically suffering from his not-yet-recognized advancing cancer.
He doesn't want give up. He doesn't see that as an option. He's ready to fight, realizing that the treatment will be tough.
He knows that his chances aren't good, but he's prepared to give it his best shot. This past month he's worked hard to keep his weight up as best he can, and has been carefully tracking his calories. Every day he shoves 2500 - 3000 calories into an esophagus and stomach which don't want to cooperate. It's very uncomfortable for him, but he does it because he wants to be in as good a shape as possible.
He feels strong most days, and tries hard to keep a normal schedule. He only wants a fighting chance. Yesterday, he asked me, "What if I was one of those few people who are part of that tiny percentage of survivors? How will I know if no one will give me the chance?" We are people of faith, and we recognize that miracles can happen.
Please - don't give up on him. Give him at least a fighting chance against this mean disease. He's been so patient these past six months, waiting for help. He just needs the opportunity to fight his cancer.
Please, Dr. Pan - Do Something! He desperately needs you to help him.
his loving wife,
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
We received phone pictures of her during her first minutes here, and then later, more lovely photos of daughter-in-law Shannon with Shaylen in her arms. Shawn, you took fabulous pictures of your wife and new daughter!
Today, eighteen month old first daughter Skyla will be meeting her new sister - oh how we wish we could be there for that!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Xerox will print the card and send it to a soldier currently serving in Iraq. Though you don't get to choose who gets the card, it will go to a member of the armed services.
It's quick - took me less than 30 seconds total start to finish - and even better, it's free. Please do this for our guys and gals in the military, and if you can add it to your blog or website, so many more people will add their cards to yours.
Doesn't matter if you are for or against the war. Our servicepeople are away from their families and loved ones during the holidays, and we need to let them know they are important and that we care.
Please take just a few seconds to send a card. You'll feel good afterwards. :)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Procedure took about an hour and a half, with them shifting him in and out of a CT scan to help them determine the exact site of the biopsy. He even has these black Sharpie marks on his back showing where to take the biopsy. He assured me before his morning shower that the marks were made with non-permanent marker. Hah! He has lovely black very-permanent dots in the center of his back! Not a problem, said pragmatic Tom - "I can't see them anyways."
Tom was given what they call "conscious sedation," meaning that he was almost asleep but could be wakened if the doctors had questions. He remembers falling asleep completely during one of the CT scans (they do several), but that's normal for Tom - he can fall asleep almost anywhere.
The doctors' instructions told him to limit his activity to zero for 24 to 48 hours, but he was feeling okay this morning and did the stuff he would usually do - walk down to the mailbox, vacuum the living room, last minute grocery shopping for Thanksgiving. But by early evening, he realized he'd overdone it and has headed off to an early bedtime. He never was good at listening to instructions . . . but I love him anyways.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
We looked at Tom's MRI to see that Tom's esophageal cancer has spread to lymph nodes and most likely his spine, and - just in case that wasn't enough - his MRI is also showing a suspicious mass in his colon. The doctor believes that it too is probably cancerous, but not necessarily related to his esophageal cancer, and thinks it may be in early stages.
More tests are scheduled - this upcoming week a bone biopsy of his spine, and later, a colonoscopy to figure out exactly what's happening there.
What all of this translates into is that Tom is no longer qualified for the study trial we had hoped he'd be in, due to the movement of his cancer. The doctor is being thorough by ordering both the bone biopsy and the colonoscopy, and both are out-patient procedures in Ann Arbor. With the results of these tests, a treatment plan can be designed specifically for Tom.
So onward we go, and we're okay with it. We have definitely not given up. God's just taking us in a different direction, and we can handle it. As our friends Lori and Robert said, "Be strong!" and we are so thankful for their encouragement. We are strong.
We've been trying some different things. Tom's been taking lots anti-oxidants, both in natural fruit and veggies like blueberries and fresh carrot juice. We're very fortunate that we live in blueberry country, and can buy 10 pound boxes of frozen berries at very reasonable cost. And I'm thankful that Tom really likes blueberries, because he's getting more than anyone should ever have to swallow.
He's also taking high-dose anti-oxidant drink supplements. And he's upped his caloric intake to 2500 to 3000 calories/day. That's a bit of a struggle for him as his stomach only accepts small amounts of food and drink at any given time, but he's adjusting.
That means he's eating or drinking something every waking hour, which generally sounds like heaven until you realize that there's many, many foods he cannot eat. At the moment, he's able to handle Ensure, well-cooked veggies, rice, pasta, beans, eggs, soups, small amounts of baked fish, ice cream, mashed potatoes and gravy, jam sandwiches, and lots of cheese (one of his favorites). Eggnog is a great high calorie treat for him, but he's definitely very sick of all the dairy products.
He can't eat anything hard like nuts or raw veggies, anything tomatoes or citrus, definitely no pizza, nothing with coatings, no meat in general (but once in a while he can eat tiny bits of chicken), nothing fried or cooked with oil or butter (including pie crusts - but he's getting a piecrust-less pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!), and even peanut butter has been giving him problems lately.
But he's mentioned that when he gets his calorie counts up, he feels physically better the next day. I've noticed that he has a bit more stamina and strength since he's been at the 2500/3000 calorie range. Today we went out for 2-1/2 hours of errands, and went to five different places - quite a bit of running around for my sick man, but he did it with almost-ease (well, he was planning on a nap when he got home anyways, which is where he is right now).
The more often he does it, the easier it is to get more calories in - and he's learned that it works better to get the majority of those cals in before 1 pm. He can still eat and drink up to about 6 pm, and then he quits - he needs a few hours of digestion time before he hits the sack, and that's usually around 9 pm. (We are just such party people!!)
We've decided not to weigh him until the next doctor's appointment. Last Tuesday at his doctor's appointment, we found he had only lost 1 pound in the previous two weeks. That was really great news, as he'd lost 20 pounds in the previous month. His eating efforts are paying off, and I couldn't be happier!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
If you want something other than cranberry nut, you can add whatever other ingredients you wish - I've made this base with lemon juice-lemon zest-candied ginger (after cooling, topped with a lemon juice & powdered sugar glaze), and in another version with chocolate chips and nuts.
Cranberry Nut Biscotti
1-1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted (any other nuts can be used)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries (more is okay if you like cranberries)
Zest of one lemon
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Finely chop half the nuts, leaving remaining nuts in halves. set aside.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine baking powder, flour, sugar, salt. (If you don't have a stand mixer, use an electric hand mixer.) In a separate bowl, beat eggs, yolks, and vanilla quickly with a fork.
3. Add wet mixture to dry, mix on medium low until sticky dough is formed. Add nuts, cranberries and zest.
4. Turn dough out on well-floured surface, sprinkle with flour, and knead slightly. Shaped into two half-inch high logs, slightly flattened. Transfer to prepared baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or a Silpat). Bake until golden brown, about 25 - 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 275 degrees.
5. Remove biscotti from oven, let cool about 10 minutes until you can handle them. On a cutting board, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2 inch slices. Return pieces cut side down to baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes. Turn over and bake until slightly dry, about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Store in airtight container - they'll last about a month - but I bet they won't make it that long. :)
Monday, November 17, 2008
We arrived early, and that worked out well since Tom also had to have an orbital xray to determine if there were any metal fragments still in his eye from a metal shop accident 30 years ago. The fragments were taken out at that time, but the MRI staff wanted to be certain, hence the orbital xray. They then gave him the all-clear, as no metal was found, and he was able to get his MRI a few minutes earlier than scheduled.
If you haven't had one, an MRI is "interesting" (rolling eyes). They slide you horizontally into a huge machine, and they make extremely loud pounding noises for 30 to 60 minutes. If you didn't have a headache when you started, you probably will by the end of the scan. They do several scans, taking a few minutes break between, but it's still seems like a very long time listening to that pounding noise, even though they give you earplugs to wear. Tom's was a full body scan, so his MRI would take about 60 minutes,
In Tom's case, there was an additional concern. He's claustrophobic, and they had to take him out of the machine twice because of that. Since he was part-way through the test, he was allowed to slide out of the machine, but had to lay perfectly still. No sitting up, no movement of any kind - otherwise his test wouldn't come through clearly enough for the doctors to read the scan. Movement meant re-taking the MRI, so he was very good about staying perfectly still and recouping from his claustophobia, then finishing the MRI.
Originally, he felt he could do the MRI without medication, but now he knows that doesn't work well for him, and he's decided that next time he'll ask to be sedated.
We have an appointment with the radiation oncologist tomorrow, so tonight we're going into Ann Arbor and will stay over. It's so much less stressful than trying to drive over early in the morning, especially since the weather is turning colder and the roads icier. This morning both expressways near our home were shut down due to accidents involving semi-trucks and black ice. But by this afternoon when we leave for Ann Arbor, the road conditions should be much improved and we'll have a nice easy drive, plus a good dinner at an Ann Arbor Thai restaurant we want to check out (Tom can still eat some soft foods like well-cooked veggies and noodles or rice).
And then there's the Whole Foods Market just down the road from our hotel - since we don't have one within 100 miles of our home, it's a treat to go to WF so we're looking forward to that. Treat-time, here we come!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I first learned about it from a blog by Arty Allsorts , a photographer selling affordable fine art prints and notecards on Etsy.
It's a really cool way to introduce yourself to other bloggers, so I'm going to 'tag' her blog and then add to the Tag List six other bloggers you should meet.
Here are the rules (pretty simple ones, too):
1. Link your original tagger, and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.
So here's my Seven Facts:
1. We have four cats, all adopted strays who needed someone to care about them, except for one Ms. Sophia, a half-Persian we actually bought because she was just too adorable to let anyone else have her.
2. I've been a freelance writer/photographer for 30 years, and sure wish we'd had blogs and digital cameras way back then.
3. Antiques have been my vocation and true love (right behind my husband Tom) for nearly 30 years - I've exhibited at antiques shows in 28 states, from Maine to Texas.
4. Love cooking good simple food, especially anything Asian . . . and really enjoy baking all those things sweet and sinful that I'm not supposed to have but can't live without.
5. Learning about Twitter has really improved my networking with other photographers, small biz people and a whole lot of new friends around the world. I highly recommend it to everyone.
6. Weird?? Nothing really comes to mind, except my obsession with my husband, who is very tolerant of me while I'm driving him nuts.
7. One of my favorite photographer forums is The LooneyBin, where an active group of us stock photographers share info, kid around a bit, and generally have a really good time. If you like photography and enjoy being around really nice people, join us at the LooneyBin.
1. Artsy Allsorts http://artyallsorts.blogspot.com/ Twitter: @artyallsorts
2. Jim Connolly http://jimsmarketingblog.com/ Twitter: @Jimconnolly
3. Creative Wisdom http://blueleafcreative.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @Creative Wisdom
4. Cars 4 Causes http://blog.cars4causes.net/ Twitter: @Cars4Causes
5. Darren Rowse http://www.twitip.com/ Twitter: @twitip
6. Robert Gebbie Photo http://rgebbiephoto.blogspot.com/ Twitter: @RGebbiePhoto
7. Sharlyn Lauby http://www.hrbartender.com/ Twitter @sharlyn_lauby
Now that you've seen how tagging works - make it work for you, and share with us 7 of your favorite blogs!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It was quickly determined that Tom needed a PET scan. We were turned down two weeks before for a PET scan with the local cancer center because we didn't have insurance and we didn't have $7,000 to pay-in-advance for the scan. They told us that when we had the money, Tom could be scheduled for the scan.
The University of Michigan Hospital sees it differently. They scheduled Tom for the first PET scan available, feeling that his care and treatment came before dollars. We are so grateful for that wonderful, uplifting attitude. Tom could not be treated without the PET scan, because it's that scan which tells the doctors exactly how far his cancer has gone, and therefore allows them to identify the specific treatments he'll need.
So we stayed over in Ann Arbor for an extra night so he could have his PET scan the next day. Driving 5 hours roundtrip from the hospital and then back again didn't make any sense. That evening, knowing that we were finally getting started in this road to recovery, he was feeling pretty good - so we spent the evening at the biggest, baddest testosterone retail store in the world - Cabela's.
All you men probably know about Cabela's - but for my female friends, Cabela's is a world reknowned giant hunting and fishing store. As you wander through it, you'll see live trout in indoor man-made streams, more live fish in gigantic aquariums fifty feet long and ten feet tall, and hundreds of wild animal taxidermy mounts. That's all scattered amongst the hunting, fishing, gun, watercraft, furniture, clothing and snack departments. After an hour plus of strolling down the man-aisles, we were ready for a quick snack and back to the hotel.
Tom had his PET scan on Wednesday, and we were home that evening to await the news. By Thursday we were told that his scans were being reviewed by a board of oncologists and radiologist, who would discuss and decide what the best action was to be. Not just one doctor makes this decision, and it's comforting to know that a team of the best U-M oncology specialists were working for Tom.
U-M Hospital is rated by US News & World Report as #9 in the best esophageal cancer hospitals in the United States, and the care and compassion we've experienced there is the best. Speed is U-M's middle name - they scheduled his PET scan within 15 minutes after his meeting with Dr. Urba, and today they called to give us the results and request that he have one more test.
He'll need an MRI to answer some questions for his doctors that came about because of the PET scan. Within 30 minutes of today's phone call, they'd scheduled him on the "urgent" list, so within the next two days Tom will be back in Ann Arbor having an MRI. After waiting for nearly five months for Tom's illness to be identified and for treatment to begin, U-M managed to get it rolling in ten days. They are super-heroes to us.
So, we're on-call, waiting for the MRI call. And then we'll know the game plan.
It's a much-welcomed glimmer of hope . . .
Sunday, November 09, 2008
It's an easy way for a blogger to get feedback on posts. We'd all be driven by the responses we get from our readers, if we knew what those responses were.
By using Reactions, you can find out if your readers find your posts funny, interesting or cool. Those are the default choices when you sign up for Reactions, but you can change those options to suit your own needs. And you don't have to limit your Reactions to just three choices - you can have more if the need is there, or maybe you have a yes-or-no question you want answered. It's up to you, and you can change it as often as you wish.
With Reactions, your readers can give you feedback with just a click, allowing you to fine-tune your blog to attract more readers.
To get your own Reactions, just log into your blog's Dashboard, then go to Layout > Page Elements, and then to the Edit in the Blog Post element. Check the box next to Reactions, then add the specific Reactions you desire as a comma-separated list.
Click Save and you've added a really nifty tool that will give you the feedback you need to make your blog even better!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
I've learned to Twitter, and am having a ball with it. Twitter is a free social network-style service founded in 2006 in San Francisco, California. It allows us Twitterers to micro-blog - to send and to read other users' tweets (that's the 140 character updates we Twitterers post). You sign up for free - then the goal is to have other Twitterers "follow" you. Many of us use Twitter for letting others know about our blogs, our websites, our politics - you can say whatever you want to say, as long as it's under 140 characters. If you have more to say, just post the first sentence and then start another!
Although I can usually manage to complete a tweet in under 140 characters, I do sometimes run through several tweets before I get everything said. I've used Twitter to refer my followers to my Red Moon Antiques website at Ruby Lane, but just as easily I might Twitter about what I'm having for dinner.
Major companies use Twitter to promote their products and services, including Whole Foods Markets and Jet Blue. Even NASA uses Twitter! Most recently, Barack Obama used Twitter to get out the vote, and had more than 120,000 followers.
It's amazing to see the responses from other Twitterers. Many of them have posted about tweets I've posted, and from them I've learned about some really helpful websites. It's an interesting community of people - professionals, politicians, charity volunteers, small business people, college kids, just about anyone from just about every walk in life.
Twitter has caught on in a big way - you can tweet from your computer, but you can also tweet from your phone. Facebook has an application for Twitter, which opens a huge number of doors - many of my Twitter followers found me through Fb. I also have Twitter on this blog - you'll see it in my right sidebar.
Although currently Twitter itself doesn't offer advertising, you can stilladvertise on Twitter, or you can get paid for posting tweets on Twitter, both through Magpie. You can also advertise through TwittAd, which allows for website promotion and product placement.
Twitter is definitely a place to try your own style innovative marketing, whether for your business or your personal blog. Take a look at my own Twitter, and you'll see how much fun it can be!
Sunday, November 02, 2008
While wandering through the website of digital Photography
School, I noticed their tutorial on photographing pets.
Besides the great shots like this one by Buntekuh, also
known asSabine, her series of nearly 400 shots of cats on
her Flickr page is spectacular.
The dPS tutorial had several other excellent examples of
pets, and offered nine different ideas on how to achieve
great pet photos. This guest post on Pet Photography was
written by Antoine Khater at All Day I Dream about
I've found a tremendous amount of great photo information
at dPS, and signed up a while ago for their daily updates.
Hardly a day goes by that I haven't found something fun or
useful - it's one of my favorite sites for quick and easy
Photo of the white kitten (below) is by Jose' Luna. You
can click on this photo to see more of his work.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
We don't have health insurance, having been turned down by several agencies due to our pre-existing conditions of diabetes. So, one of our options was to apply to Social Security and to Michigan's Family Independence Agency for financial help. We know that Tom's medical treatments will be costly, and since we don't have that kind of money, it was clear we would need to request help, especially since my stroke has left me unable to continue as a full-time antiques dealer.
For the past two days, we've shuffled around the various aid offices. First we went to the state office, only to learn that they only accept walk-ins for 3 hours in the morning, and - of course - we were there in the early afternoon. Then we went to Social Security, only to learn that because of the antiques inventory I own (and am actively trying to sell to no avail due to horrible economic conditions), we are over the allowable asset limit stipulated by the US government.
Then, back the next day to the state office. As a walk-in, you are entitled to see a caseworker the same day as long as you sign in before 11 am. We were there at 9 am, and after a 90 minute wait, we spoke with a state caseworker. Unfortunately, we again have too many assets - and were again turned down. Except that we might qualify for food assistance, which will be determined within 30 days or so.
Here in Michigan, if you are young and have children, there's an aid program for you. If you can be qualified as disabled, you can get financial help. My stroke might qualify me as disabled, but having too many assets disqualifies me completely. Also, Tom and I each have a car, and our old van has been for sale for more than a year without any takers. We are allowed one car only, so that also disqualified us.
Now that we've established that we cannot get financial help from either state or federal government, we're now waiting until next week to find out what the trial study can offer. We don't know if it's going to cover Tom's treatment, but hope it will. He was turned down for a PET scan last week because he doesn't have health insurance nor the cash to cover the test. His oncologist ordered the test because it is critical in determining how far Tom's cancer has spread, and is part of standardized treatment for esophageal cancer.
If the study trial doesn't cover his PET scan, there's a Plan B out there somewhere. We are positive-thinkers, and I'm a firm believer in thinking outside the box.
Tom's doing well at eating soft foods, and has only lost one pound in the past week. He's stuffing himself with fruit smoothies, Ensure, egg dishes, milk, yogurt, juice, quesadillas (they went down a bit painfully, but he managed). He's definitely very tired of dairy products.
In the meantime, we're trying to be normal. It's good for our heads to be normal. Life isn't normal right now, but we're giving it our very best shot.
For the Little Sugarloaf Mermaid - so good to see you yesterday! You and your Tom are in our hearts, and our prayers - please stay strong - we're thinking about you every day. Call if there's anything we can help with. Really. Really-REALLY.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Although we're disappointed in having another delay, this extra week gives us a chance to do several things we probably otherwise wouldn't accomplish, so it's okay. It also allows us to catch our breath, re-evaluate, and prepare a bit better.
November 4th = Election Day! But we were anticipating not being available for voting on Election Day due to Tom's situation, so we've both already voted by absentee ballot. Nice to have that accomplished since we both feel strongly about voting.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
We've been praying for this, and with all the other wonderful prayers all of you have offered, this is the beginning of Tom's road to health. Thank you, thank you, thank you - from the bottom of our hearts . . . it means so much to hear from you, and know you care enough to send us your heartfelt prayers.
I'm asking everyone to check here at my blog for news on Tom. So many of you have written me, for which I truly am grateful - but I just cannot answer each individual email. So for the latest on Tom, I'll start each blog about him with his initials TDP, so you'll be able to find them easily.
(And I'll be writing again about other things too - just to keep my sanity . . . )
Friday, October 17, 2008
Two weeks ago today, Tom was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
It's a very difficult cancer to battle. It usually doesn't show symptoms until it's in advanced stages. The treatment is brutal - or as our new oncologist says, "I'm going to really beat you up before treatment is finished."
It starts with daily radiation for at least six weeks, combined with chemo every other week. The program is designed to shrink his tumor as much as possible before surgery, which will remove the lower end of his esophagus and then reconnect the remaining esophagus to his stomach. It means chemo ports and stomach feeding tubes, since the radiation to the esophagus will cause extreme pain when Tom tries to swallow.
We have a good oncologist, one we like very much. He doesn't sugar-coat anything, and told us the truth - the prognosis isn't very good. But he also is strong on pointing out the good stuff - that Tom actually looks healthy, isn't a smoker or drinker (both major causes of this cancer), and has a very positive attitude. His blood tests this week were all very strong. Those are all in his favor - and Tom's not a quitter.
He's ready to fight.
Spending hours and hours on researching this uncommon cancer, I came across a trial study that is being held at U of Michigan hospital, about 1-1/2 hours from here. It's being directed by a nationally-known doctor who specializes in this cancer, and is testing a drug now currently being used successfully in the treatment of advanced colon cancer. Since colon cancer is similar in many ways to e-cancer, there's a strong belief that this could prove to be a significant drug. I gave a copy of the trial to our oncologist, and he almost fell out of his chair in glee!
Turns out he'd done his homework before meeting with us, and had already lined up some local trials for us to consider. He said that usually he has to talk people into trials, as many do not want to be a guinea pig. And here we were, shoving this piece of paper into his hands, asking - begging - to be considered for that trial. He hadn't been aware of this particular trial, and feels that it would be very good for Tom, so he's sent a referral asking for Tom to be admitted. Now we're just waiting to hear from the trial study . . . waiting is hard.
Tom's now lost 70 pounds since May. Since he was overweight, originally he could afford to lose weight. Now we're battling to keep his weight stable so he can get through treatment. He cannot eat much solid food, but can tolerate soups, scrambled eggs, fruit smoothies and similar soft foods. We should own stock in Ensure, because it's the bulk of his current diet.
Over the last couple weeks, the valleys have overtaken the hills, and it's been tough, but we're getting used to it. At least now we have some direction, when before we just knew it was bad but didn't know what could be done. It's the unknown that really screws your head.
We are both the patient - although Tom's getting the worst of the deal, I'm right here beside him every step of the way. We have a long and hard fight ahead, and we're ready for it. Well, we're as ready as we can try to be . . . and we are trying really, really hard.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
That one click, combined with all the others, will allow a woman in need to obtain a free mammogram. Women all over the country benefit from this, and all it takes is about 20 seconds of your time.
You can find out how many clicks are coming in each day, and how many free mammograms those click represent, by clicking on Results in the left column. Be sure to scroll down that page for more info.
(Love you, Mom.)
Friday, October 10, 2008
Some are traditionalists - they shoot weddings, events, models, assignments for newspapers and magazines, and other things we tend to connect them with.
But some find a niche that is uncommon, like Terry Davis. Terry lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, and specializes in photographing the mining industry.
He doesn't have a huge amount of competition.
Terry actively works the mining trade, always searching for new ways to improve his business. He attends trade conventions, makes sure to introduce himself to as many potential clients as he can, and shakes a lot of hands. He never knows how many new clients he might get out of a trade convention, but he knows it takes time to build up a niche business. If he can walk away with some good contacts, and maybe a job or two, it's been worthwhile.
The magazine cover at the right is one Terry recently completed - and he has two more covers scheduled.
He's also found some business in shooting for corporations which need head shots of their executives. When a company needs photos of new execs for it's website, they don't have time to schedule for studio shooting. Terry's learned to shoot on the fly, with some really good results. Take a look at his new blog.
He also has a website that shows off his work, and it links to his portfolio at Shutterstock, which shows many of his mining industry photos.
Terry's easy-going style makes him a perfect choice for those last-minute gigs in the mining and industrial field. He loves the work, and it shows.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
All photographers find themselves squinting through their viewfinder with one eye. It's handy to know which is your dominant eye to be certain everything lines up properly.
Here's a quick test to determine which is your dominate eye:
> Place both hands at arm's length in front of your face, and place the hands together making a small triangle - about 1/2 to 3/4 inch per side - between your thumbs and knuckles as shown in the picture.
> With both eyes open, look through the triangle, centering something specific. I used my computer screen as my focal point, but just about anything usable as a target will work
> Close your left eye. If your target object remains in view, you are right eye dominant. If your hands seem to move off the object and move to the left, you are left eye dominant.
It's been suggested that for the shooting sports - firearms and archery - that right eye dominant shooters should participate as right-handers, and left-eye dominants as left-handers. Don't know if this applies to photographers or not, but it's an interesting concept.
I'm left eye dominant, and have been naturally squinting through the viewfinder with my left eye. But I'm right-handed, which seems sort of strange. Yet it works - I use my left hand for lens adjustment, right hand for f-stop and shutter speed adjustments. Some how it all works.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
It's a clickable box that takes you to The Breast Cancer Site, where you can click on a box that enables a fund through sponsors which gives free mammograms to those in need.
It doesn't cost you a cent, and literally takes less than 20 seconds (and my computer is slower than most). Wander this site and you'll learn about where these free mammograms are given, how many have been funded this month through clicks, and other ways you can help.
This site began eight years ago, and over the years has funded free mammograms for more than 11,000 women in need. There's a map which shows programs in the US which benefit from both clicks and from purchases in the site's store, as well as info on how many clicks are coming in on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.
Just do it - you can make a difference. Click on that bright pink box at the right, and then click on the button at the Breast Cancer Site. Do it every day, not just for October. This is an on-going program, and your click counts every time.
If you can add this clickable box to your website, you can link to them through this link.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - so click on on this site and get started. Do it for your mother, your sister, your wife, your daughter. Do it for anyone you love who has breasts! :)
I click on this site every day in memory of my Mom, Gloria Chernecki, who died of breast cancer in 2003. Love you, Mom.
Monday, October 06, 2008
It's Pro Photo Rental to the rescue. Love the idea - professional photogs who recognize the need for equipment rental, and make it as simple as possible. You don't have to commit for a week on your rental - you can rent for as little as 4 days. And they offer their equipment at a discount if you want it for longer.
They ship equipment in nearly indestructible boxes, and - just in case you're worried - they offer optional insurance, too. Pro Photo offers Canon, Nikon and Olympus equipment, including lenses, bodies and flashes.
They even give you three-day shipping in both directions within the continental US for free! The rental is set up to arrive one day before the actual rental time period, so you'll get a half day or so extra on the front end, plus the portion of the day on the back end of the rental period when you ship it back.
Here's their latest popular rentals:
Top 10 Sellers
See our list below of this week's most rented equipment!
Canon - EOS 40D Body
Canon - 580 EX-II Speedlight
Canon - EF 24-70 f/2.8L
Nikon - D300 Body
Olympus - Zuiko Digital 7-14 f/4.0
Canon - EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS
Canon - EOS 5D Body
Nikon - Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8G VR
Nikon - SB-800 AF Speedlight
Canon - EF 16-35 f/2.8L II
There's definitely a couple of lenses I need to try . . .
Sometimes, what seems like a good idea turns out not to be - PhotoLooney was difficult to manage, due to the complicated way that WordPress sets up it's features.
So - I give up! No more WordPress, and I'm back for good on Blogger. It'll be photography-based, with other stuff mixed in - foodie, antiques and more. After spending hours and hours trying to decipher WP, it's going to be good to come back to a site that is uncomplicated and easy to use.
Hurray for Blogger!
(but I may change my Blogger Name - I sorta liked PhotoLooney, which originated partially through a photographer friend who used to call me LooneyTunes)
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Today's weather was cold and rainy, very dreary, thanks to Hurricane Kyle. The good news is that Kyle stayed out in the ocean and went further north, missing us by a good distance. Not such good news for our friends up in Nova Scotia - they're getting 75-90 mph winds and drenching rains.
Bad weather usually means I'm home for the day, and since we've had several days of rain, I've pretty much accomplished my list of things-to-do. That means it's baking time, and I've spent a happy afternoon baking biscotti and - a new recipe for me - cream biscuits.
Both turned out well. But the cream biscuits were tender and wonderful. I altered the recipe slightly, adding grated cheddar cheese, as I had about a cup of cheese left over from another dish and wanted to use it up. Worked great - the cheese added a bit of dimension to the biscuits, and they taste lovely by themselves with a touch of butter, or could be used for small sandwiches (ham is the first thing to come to mind).
If you are looking for a quick, easy recipe for biscuits that only take a few minutes to pull together, try this one. You can skip the cheese - they're great without it.
Quick and Easy Cream Biscuits
Makes Eight 2 1/2-Inch Biscuits
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for the counter
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
optional - 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1. Place oven rack to upper-middle position, heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds.
3. Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch-high circle. Cut biscuits with biscuit cutter into rounds, or cut into wedges. Place rounds or wedges on parchment-lined baking sheet. (The baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.) Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.
Unlike traditional biscuits, cream biscuits benefit from relatively rough treatment. This biscuit, which was kneaded for 30 seconds before baking rose higher compared to biscuits which were handled gently and kneaded only a few times.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The name of the site is ClockLink, and it's a freebie. There are many different clock styles available - just click on the Gallery tab to see them all. You can change the time zones, and there's even a World Clock that shows all the different countries in the world as a graphic, with their respective time zones.
I wanted something simple, so the hand-drawn clock was perfect. But you can get animal clocks, transparent clocks, digital clocks, and some really god-awful animated clocks - there's lots and lots of choices.
Unfortunately, I also tried to add it to my WordPress blog, but it wouldn't accept the code.
Thanks, Mel, for sharing!
Monday, September 22, 2008
So much can be learned from early photos - the clothing people wore, the work they did, the homes they lived in, what was happening in their lives. Photos were sometimes used as "jewelry", like the pinback photo button above.
Just after the turn of the 20th century, it was common to see photographs made into these buttons. I've had pinback photos of men, women and children - sometimes they are even hand-colored. They are usually of a single person, although I've had one very rare pinback which showed two young sisters. The children pinbacks are the most popular, and they seldom last long in my shop.
Pinbacks are becoming harder to find, and I buy just about every one I'm lucky to stumble across. They're a wonderful image to collect, since they are usually small and easy to display. The one shown above is a bit over one inch in diameter.
Below is a bit more unusual type of vintage photography known as a Mirror Back photo. They were popular during the 1920s, and were often used as gifts. I have a small collection from one family that shows several different daughters, the photos being taken around the engagement and wedding times of one of the girls. One of these mirrorbacks is shown below.
The wreath-style framing details added by the photographer are lovely - this mirrorback's style is classic 1920s, from her clothing and jewelry to the floral wreath used for framing the image. For those interested in historical information, the photographer's studio name and address are identified on the front of this mirror.
The mirrored back of this button is in excellent condition, showing good age in the glass. Often these mirrors are not found in good condition - over the years these buttons often ended up tossed into the backs of drawers or into sewing boxes, bumping up against all sorts of things that can cause breakage.
These different kinds of vintage photography are such a joy to own! They're inexpensive, one of a kind miniature works of art. If you find one, don't pass it up, for they are certain to be even harder to find in the future.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Can't really explain it, but I sure love cufflinks.
And I don't even own a blouse that uses cufflinks!! But I've gotten so hooked that I'm constantly on the hunt for them. They must be vintage, and so far I've had good luck finding some really nifty ones. I have several sets in my on-line antiques shop - "Red Moon Antiques" at Ruby Lane.
This pair is a bit unusual, showing a rider and horse jumping over a fence. Especially nice to find them in brass, which - because they are old - shows that beautiful glowing patina. The three dimensional design helps too - these are really stand-out cufflinks.
Anyone thinking Christmas present???
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Discovered this blog site the other day and thought I'd share it. It's called "Unique Pictures", and offers just one thing - different and interesting photos found on the Internet.
Well, actually it offers two things - the daily photos, plus a connection to a website which promotes "common and practical information for the young, independent person." The site asks for article submissions on matters of money, food, people and technology.
The Unique Pictures blog shows a disclaimer which specifically states: "The pictures below have been found on the Internet and we do NOT claim property of them. This is for entertainment purposes only." Unique Pictures also has two mirror sites, called Random Pictures and Awesome Pictures, with the same photos showing on all three blogs.
The key word here is "found". The site shows no attributions to any photographers nor any stock sites. Were they "borrowed" without the photographers' permission? Unknown, but highly suspect. This is one of the downsides of posting one's pictures on the Internet - there's no way to know when they'll be copied or where they'll show up.
Many of these photos are of high quality. I'm sure that some of them can be found in micro stock sites, and could possibly be purchased. Certainly the photographers would - at the very least - appreciate a by-line and direction to the site where their photos could be purchased.
This blogster is now following me on Twitter. In fact, he's following 872 Twitterers. I suspect it's so he can find (and use?) the photos I post on my blog. So, to Mr/Ms AeHong, I ask one thing of you - before you lift any of my photos, since my photos are copyrighted, would you please contact me first for permission?
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Having never been to a horse show before, I decided to enjoy a morning of camera, horses and kids. Primarily I was there for practice, and after shooting nearly 150 photos, I ended up with just a handful of decent shots, none of which are stock-worthy.
Fog and low-light really made it difficult to shoot, and I tried both inside the show barn and outside in the show ring. But keeping in mind that this was a learning experience, I tried different ISOs and f-stops, and played with various shooting angles, trying to get more light into my camera. Still had lots of noise, since I started shooting at 1600 and moved downwards towards 200 on the outside shots.
The photo at left is a young girl - such a cutie with her pigtails with pink ribbons! - psyching up for her turn in the ring.
Photo at right gives you a perspective of how small these girls are compared to big horses!
Bottom pix are of young ladies and their mounts, one waiting to be called to the ring, and the other just finishing her round in the fog.
The photos seen here have been cleaned up with Neat Image, but they aren't as sharp as I'd like them to be. Had a great time, but still learning, learning, learning . . .