This past week has not been one of the greatest. First was the discovery, after 14000 stitches that I had commenced my tapestry at the wrong end. In other words, at least 4 inches below where I should have commenced it if I had bothered to check how much was rolled up on the top dowel. This meant I would run out of canvas as I reached the deck of the boat. Not Happy!!
This is the original photo. I designed and built this boat in the early 70s. “Shiralee” was 30 ft long and displaced 7 tons. She was very easy to sail with her junk sails and long keel.
Anyway, as I near the end of my life (let’s be realistic) I decided I wanted to leave something of myself for anyone that might be interested. This was an achievement I was proud of, so the idea of making a tapestry was born.
And this is how far I got before discovering my error. 14,000 stitches!
I tried to fix it by cutting off the top of the canvas and sewing it on the bottom but it was never going to work. Besides, there were a few things I was not totally happy about…so I decided to start again, however I made some adjustment to size and colour first. The new one will have 29000 stitches as against 34000 previously.
A perfect tapestry, no mistakes. Definitely starting at the right end!
Checked 3 times!!
One week later, well on track. I try to complete at least 200 stitches per day. This week I have completed over 2000 so quite pleased with myself.
Now for the worst news of the week. I finally obtained my medical records from my hospital stay in January. Scans show that my cancer has metastasised further to my ribs and sternum and also further into my femur.
My psa continues to fall. I had a blood test today, results soon but I am expecting somewhere in the 40-50 range. It seems to halve every month. Naturally my beautiful wife is upset as are my close relatives, but what can you do? Life goes on. I feel well apart from some occasional mild discomfort in one rib. I am active and enjoying life. I made it to 71 and expect to see 72, so I have very little to complain about.
After receiving my latest psa, we made the decision that I should return to Oz as soon as possible. We went to Vancouver Airport to arrange a flight. The young lady at the Delta check in, said she could get me on a flight May 1. There would be a $300.00 penalty payment. We asked if it could be waived. She said she had already waived a good part of it. Then my hero, S, stepped in and said, “this is a medical emergency, my partner has cancer and needs urgent treatment.” The young lady said she would see what she could do. When she came back she said her supervisor had waived the whole fee, and also they would arrange for me to have a window seat (which I wanted) and also a vacant seat beside me on both flights! Wow! What great service Delta. And all on just a few days notice….
On the flight day, I went through US customs at Vancouver airport. There were no problems, it was a very smooth process. I have a 90 day visa for the US. At LAX there would be no Customs to worry about and no bags to transfer, easy!
We took off over the water, and I got some glimpses of Vancouver Island. After that there was lots of cloud until about halfway to LA. We passed over Lake Tahoe and I got some video. I got some great shots. I could see a huge ski resort at Mount Rose just North of Lake Tahoe. The mountains were amazing, then it was miles and miles of farms around Fresno. The sun was out coming up to LA. We swung out over the sea and then circled back over LA before landing. It was a good flight with my empty seat beside me. The guy in the other seat slept all the way.
As I left the plane, I saw a man with a wheelchair, holding a sign with my name on it. So I got a wheelchair ride to the departure lounge. It was not far like last time, but I was grateful not to have to walk. My hip hasn’t been too bad lately but I don’t want to aggravate it. No customs, no baggage to worry about. I had a nice dinner and the 5 hours went quickly thanks to scintillating conversation with my Darling S on Facebook Messenger.
When I boarded the big 777 for the long crossing of the Pacific, I discovered I had 3 seats all to myself and mine was the only bag in my overhead locker. After take off a woman asked if she could sit in my aisle seat. They had put her in the middle with two fatties. She was going to Perth, so of course I was fine with that. The rest of the plane was full. How good was that. The lady who arranged my flight deserves a medal! All credit to S too, she was most persuasive and I am sure she arranged the wheelchair.
I watched 3 movies en route. Lion was good, but not exactly bedtime stuff. At the end they showed the real people and you saw his adopting parents meeting his mother. Bit of a tear jerker that one. That started me missing S again, so I had a bit of a teary moment!
After a while I watched Manchester by the Sea. I didn’t really like it. It was about dysfunctional people and I kept waiting for the good bit, but I must have missed it!
Later I watched The Meddler. Susan Sarandon. I loved it. Had me laughing out loud at times. A great movie, I can recommend it.
Later in the flight we had some turbulence and I opened my blind and had a look. There was the Southern Cross, just above the wing. I looked down and there were all the lights of Fiji. What a beautiful sight. You could see the different islands like jewels of light in the black.
The sun rose an hour before Sydney. There was very thick cloud. It was a bit better when we arrived, we did a big circle over Sydney before landing and I was able to shoot some good video despite the partial overcast. The captain gave a really good talk about Sydney as we circled. It was a good flight. The hardest thing was trying to get comfortable. My new neck pillow was a big help. When I left the plane there was no wheelchair for me. Apparently the guy was late getting there I learned later. There was a huge crowd of passengers all trying to figure out the passport check machines. I was getting pretty tired by this so went straight to Customs. I had declared that I had “restricted drugs or medications”. I expected to be searched, but the Officer just took one look at me and said “medications?”. I said yes, he said go to aisle 6. I could see people lined up in rows to go through the x ray machines, then I discovered aisle 6 went straight to the exit. My cousin was waiting to take me to her place, where I had breakfast and crashed for the day. I had been awake for 60 hours!
This morning I received the long awaited phone call. “Your psa is 107”. I had so much hoped for a much lower number than last time (48.6), or at least a levelling off. I was even prepared for at worst a doubling (97.2) but 107 came as quite a shock. S and I were getting ready to go out to lunch with some friends. We had a great lunch, fresh Halibut at a great venue, right near Vancouver airport. Of course we could not say too much as we are still trying to come to terms with what this number actually means……
So, what does it mean? At first sight it would appear to indicate that the cancer cells are multiplying at an increasing rate. A closer look at the graph shows that there was a decrease following radiotherapy and then a sudden rise coinciding with taking black salve internally in October 2016. I am now taking a powder form of black salve in capsules. To be more correct it is a mixture of bloodroot powder, chaparral powder, graviola powder and burdock root powder. None of which would cause me any harm, but should disrupt cancer cells.
Prostate cancer is supposed to be slow growing, so maybe it is reasonable to assume it will be slow to die as well. (It works for me!). I can theorise about it until the cows come home, but at the end of the day only definitive tests by my oncologist will reveal the true story. I plan therefore to return to Australia where I can have testing and receive treatment.
Tonight, S will give me a Zoladex injection and I will have another psa test in 3 weeks to see if it is making a difference. My sincere thanks go to Dr JM for his advice. (I am so grateful that you cared enough to give your opinion.)
Maybe some reader is wondering about how I am feeling. I feel disappointed. I feel frustrated that I will have to leave my beloved S, even if it only for a short time. I hope she will join me in Australia at a later date. I feel there are so many things that I have not done and may not be able to do, yet at the same time I am grateful for the things I have done, the people I have met and the opportunity to spend real quality time with the woman I love. I feel hopeful that my treatment will be successful and that we will return soon to Canada in time to enjoy the beautiful weather that is just now coming with Spring. I thank all of my readers for your prayers, your good wishes and your support. God bless all of you. Les.