Farmocology

Posted on September 30th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I was really fortunate to be able to grow up on a little farm in Albany. Although I ain’t a farmer, I do love being on a farm and pretending I know what I am talking about. One of the brotherhood, Steve, has folks who live on a farm just outside of the hometown and so for a few months now we have planned to go down to set up camp in the bottom paddock.

Three couples (Steve & Leanne, Muz & Katie, Libs and I), one baby (Muz & Katie’s Asher), one fetus (Steve & Leanne’s ‘No Name’), camping gear and farm boots headed down on Friday arvo to Albany ready to escape the comforts of civilization. Sometimes you just need to strip everything back to the bare essentials to appreciate life – no electricity, no showers, no flushing toilet, no tv, no phones – just people and paddock.

We got down pretty late Friday night, so the Pyles (our camp parents and hosts) had kindly set up beds in the farmhouse for us all. Superb! After hot drinks, catching up and getting settled into our camping experience, we headed to bed.

Woke up to Muz’s Birthday, and so we all went into town for supplies (except Muz, who kindly babysat). The nation stops around the end of September for the Aussie Rules Grand Final. When I say the nation stops, me and a few other non-sport-watching Australians usually have the rest of the nation to ourselves for 3 hours while supporters tune in to the game. So being Grand Final day, the television took care of the afternoon and I was able to get whatever else done.

The rest of the day was dedicated to setting up tents, meeting cows, preparing meals and having communication breakdowns. The rain was always going to be threatening the weekend, but it ended up being a perfected first night in the great outdoors. Much to the delight of the women, we gentlemen spoke with Russian accents the whole weekend. As expected, the novelty never wore off and I know that our wives are disappointed we men are no longer feeding off each other’s comments.

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In the moment.

I told my usual Ghost Horses story, which is actually a true story. Those of you reading whom I worked with in the summer of 97 in the Blue Ridge will know what I am talking about.

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The bottom paddock campsite.

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Cowboy Asher

That was the only night we really camped. I guess the combination of possible rain and a warm farmhouse just made it clear it was the right thing to do. Thanks Ma & Pa Pyle!

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(l-r)Steve, Leanne (and No Name), Diane, Asher, Muz, Katie, Colin, Libs, Cam.

Apologies to hometown locals who we didn’t get to catch up with. Looking forward to seeing you around the new year though when we are down with time to do so.

It has been another special time of marking the beginning of this next stage of life. I live in constant amazement at the friends and families I have the privilege of walking the same patch of earth with at different times in life. The battle to get through this sickness is not a battle to keep my body in a world that I know – but to keep it with the people I know. This is when it becomes the fiercest battle of all. If everything I have experienced in the last year only got me to this weekend, I would have done it smiling, wondering what to pack.

7 comments.

Bloody Nuisance

Posted on September 26th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Actually forgot to call pathology yesterday to get results, so I called this morning and we picked up the envelope. The nominees were tumor or a blood clot, and the winner is… blood clot.

We were driving out of the hospital as I opened the envelope, pulled off to the side briefly to read the report, then continued on driving. It was as if I had just pulled over briefly to read a map. “Well, that’s good” I said, then drove home. Other info included that it has reduced in size by about half. Nice.

So another saga over with. I guess I could get all reflective about it now, but I am happier just to take this one at face value and be happy. I am so grateful for everyone’s support during this time.

We are heading down south for the weekend with friends. Really looking forward to it.

It will be nice to be without cancer for a while.

13 comments.

Indifferent, almost.

Posted on September 24th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I think the approach, or the resignation, is being quite effective. I haven’t really thought about getting results back, haven’t been anxious about the findings, and I feel kind of indifferent to the outcome. I expect that would change if there is anything to worry about medically. I may have mentioned this before, but my feeling after the last biopsy was, “I couldn’t really care about what you find. just get that thing out of me!” I am overreacting maybe. I don’t want to make out that a procedure like that is close to child-bearing, but if you had to bear a child 7 times in just over a year, the novelty would wear a little thin. I imagine that if this were to happen, on the seventh time you would be forgiven for thinking “I couldn’t really care about what you find, just get that thing out of me!”

I have been postponed again insofar as radiation treatment. I am meant to start next Tuesday, but I doubt that will happen.
For now, we prepare to go camping with some friends over the long weekend. I am really looking forward to that. It is the perfect time of year and a chance for a little bit of relaxing.

I feel like I have done my fair share of relaxing. It seems I have spent a major part of the last 18 months in bed, hospital or on the couch, relaxing. Time to get moving.

Above all, I am so thankful for the support and prayers during this time. This has been a real ride, something I wouldn’t want anyone to go through, but people have chosen to and I am grateful, yet sorry for putting people through this (yes I know, your choice, but the feeling remains). I am honored, nonetheless. No one likes this kind of waiting. It is not exciting, not conclusive, not soothing, not peaceful. Just a reminder that things can certainly be very uncertain at times.

5 comments.

Lala

Posted on September 21st, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Stella Rose, affectionately known as Lala, had Auntie Rach come over with the camera yesterday.
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She is dainty, beautiful and peaceful (the times I have seen her).
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Those who are keen to see more can click on this:
http://picasaweb.google.com.au/LaLaBain/Stella12Days
and choose slideshow.

5 comments.

Ok, that’s enough.

Posted on September 19th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

The biopsy is over and the preliminary results (observations) are favourable. The sample today again looked like just blood drawn from a hematoma. The cytology report should be ready in a week. I don’t know what I was happier about- the biopsy being over or the news that the mass is likely a blood clot.

For those who may want to know the details of such a procedure, read on. I know it can sometimes be helpful for people to have some sense of preparedness if you are going through this. Some may choose to not find out if it adds to their anxiety.

I have now had four samples taken from my sternum area. Of these, hang on, let me count… none have been enjoyable. I think it is more to do with the fact that someone is working quite close to the core of your body with sharp implements. Every part of your body’s instinct is to protect the core of your body, so to allow such violation is a real discipline. I would imagine similar feelings occur with procedures to the head.

I gowned up in a two-tie exposing little number today. Being fairly tall, the gown tends to be more of a shirt for me, leaving my legs and upper thighs as temporary highlights on the ward for staff and other patients. I need to be careful not to drop anything on the floor as bending down to pick anything up can be awkward.

After a chat with the Specialist, consent forms were signed and I was taken into the CT room, as the CT scanner is used to provide guidance as the needle goes in. They did a few diagnostic scans first up which involves injecting a contrast dye into the cannula. This moves through your body pretty quickly and gives you a warm rush, you feel like you need to take a leak, but it passes (the sensation, that is). They then marked on my chest where the entry point would be and then prepared me for the biopsy.

They didn’t give me a sedative like I hoped for, as I needed to be fully awake to respond to the instructions of breathing. Local anesthetic is injected around the entry point, and for me this was just left of my sternum. Once the site is numb, the biopsy needle is pushed in a little way, and a scan is taken. The Specialist makes sure the needle is following the right line into the mass.

A guy from cytology was standing just outside the door, and as soon as a sample is drawn, he views the cells under a microscope and gives immediate feedback on the nature of the cells in the sample. In my case, it was to determine whether they did a full biopsy or just the aspirate. In the end, they just left mine as an aspirate, as there were no suspicious cells observed.

The most pain was felt as they punctured through cartilage. It is just uncomfortable, but then the needle reached a place that did give me a bit of pain, so I let him know. I did this with a pitiful wincing expression and a groan that spoke a thousand words – mostly expletives.

I realize how tense my body is during the procedure, as it is exhausted when I relax afterwards. After about 3 hours of monitoring, I was allowed to head home.

I don’t want to have to do that again. I have had enough for now, and am looking forward to getting back into my normal routine. I have decided that it is easier for me this time to live as if my results are benign while we wait for cytology. It is a lot easier than living in limbo. If the results are not favourable, I will deal with that then.

Innocent until proven guilty.

4 comments.

So I guess you’re wondering why I have called this meeting.

Posted on September 18th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

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Yes, a very cute photo of The Gusmister. Stay tuned over the next week when I put an updated photo up of Stella Bella.

1 comment.

More Core

Posted on September 17th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Dr Brad called today and let me know that the Cardiothoracic Dr dude decided it would be better to do just a core sample of the mass, rather than send in the camera and whatever else they were thinking of.
I can’t say I am looking forward to it. I am hoping they give me some kind of sedative this time. There is something about someone pushing a long needle into my chest I have come to not enjoy.

2 comments.

You wanna piece of me?!!

Posted on September 16th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Biopsy, this Friday morning.

I noticed this morning that I have lost 14 kilos since I bulked up for chemo. I have lost a lot more than I thought I would this time around being on my diet too. I am trying to get to a goal weight of 85kg. Depending on how much they want to sample from me, this biopsy should help.

3 comments.

Postponed

Posted on September 15th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I have been officially postponed. I was scheduled to go to the hospital today for what is called a simulation. This is just where they lay me down in situ as if I was going to have radiation to make sure all the angles and measurements are correct. I think they take a few scans from memory.

I got a call from the hospital asking to delay it for a week, until the results of the biopsy are confirmed. No problem there.

My body is going ok at the moment. I walked into work again today and back, so I am going to start getting back to the gym now and see how things go.

All we are waiting on now is a call from the cardiothoracic surgeon who will be performing the biopsy to let me know when it will take place.

1 comment.

From Whence I Came

Posted on September 14th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Nothing really to do with the walk, but I am just finding the following interesting.

I have been going through some old photos to use for promotional material for the silver business recently. This is one of them.

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This is Grandpa Harris, the master craftsman. He did his training as a ring maker in Birmingham before coming out with his parents to Australia. He and his father melted their own watch chains to make rings to sell to Perth jewellers. This partnership was the beginning of Harris & Son.

When I look at Grandpa’s hands, I see that I have his hands, and so does my dad. Sometimes it is easier for others to see the resemblances, but I see the hands. Actually, there is more, but not in the photo. When I was about four, Grandpa was working silver down the shed in the Albany and as it was summer, Grandpa had his shorts on. Grandpa’s legs were thin, but strong, and crowned with knobbly knees. I said, “Grandpa, you’ve got funny legs!”
He looked down at his legs as he bounced up and down on them and replied, “What do you mean? There’s nothing wrong with my legs! They’re fine legs!”
I looked at his legs as he bounced up and down on them and the image stuck in my mind. Well, I grew up, as did my legs. Grandpa died when I was about twelve, but his legs still walk this earth with me everyday.

During my recent trip to the Albany, my Aunty mentioned a few times that out of the corner of her eye I would remind her of her father (who is my Mum’s father). It was the stance mainly, and maybe a few other characteristics.

Granddad Brown was a Baptist Minister in and around Perth. He spent a lot of time traveling through country areas, and eventually drove a van around carrying books and preaching at different places. One night, when my Mum, Aunty and Uncles were still quite young, he was involved in a car accident and was killed. He was about 40 years old. Here is a picture of him.

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When I look at this picture, a few things stand out – the tilted head, the placement of hands, and the hair. Although I never met my Grandad, I can’t help feel these things feel quite familiar to me for some reason. I also have a three-piece suit, but I don’t think that’s genetic.

I haven’t written enough to do these two men justice here, but it is just something that I have found interesting more recently.

6 comments.

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