Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When Shopping Carts Win

In which our Heroine is soundly beaten by a Pair of Boots. 

Today at Costco, I found some rain boots in Eva’s next size.  Happy thoughts of splashing in puddles with my delighted daughter filled my apparently vacuous head.  These thoughts pestered me—eventually developing hands, nails, and teeth, which pulled and yanked on various parts of my psyche until I was thoroughly inundated.  I became powerless—a mindless automaton with a membership card aslew in a sea of temptation.   I was quite suddenly gripped with the immediate need to put these boots (which were decorated with a painted-on smile and two bulging eyeballs) into my cart.  In a feverish battle with my financial sense, the boots won.  They cheerfully kicked the monetary smarts right out of my head, where they landed with a splat on the ground.  Then I flattened my fiscally good intentions with my over-sized cart in a frantic move toward the women’s wool socks section.
All right, I know you’re going to roll your eyes at me on this one, but here’s the thing: ever since surgery, I’ve developed a serious budgeting problem.  I blame a lot of things on my cancer—some more successfully than others—and I hesitate to really hold my brain’s recent issues responsible for my financial difficulties, but the bare, ugly, stripped-down truth is this: Before surgery, I kept a carefully documented budget; After surgery, this budget went to the dogs, so to speak.  I might as well toss my bulging receipt folder into the wind for all the good it is doing me these days. 
I truly believe myself capable of using a budget.  Despite all indications, I can still add.  In fact, I never actually had a problem with calculations at all, because those happen on the left side of the brain.  I do have “water on the brain,” but only on the right side.  Besides, even if my long division has never been my strong point, there are calculators for these oh-so-boring (but unfortunately not mindless) tasks.  Oh no—my brain can handle it.  Let us say rather that I seem to be experiencing a loss of my ability to care.  It’s like I used to have my money tied up firmly with a good stout rope—so much so that it felt like a noose sometimes—and now I’ve loosened the knot and my change is literally falling out of my pockets.  I imagine pennies and nickels (or hundred dollar bills), bouncing merrily down to the floor somewhere next to those lovely striped wool socks.
As Aesop could have said:
It is possible that man may be at his end,
When size five boots and shopping carts win.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vampire Cookies

In which our Heroine yearns for the Wheat Berry. 

Dear Diary,
I’ve just finished ordering over $600 worth of organic, non-GMO foodstuffs.  I am so excited.  I justify my shopping spree tonight by the fact that I feel like having food storage available, and also that I am one of those odd ducks that actually uses the oddity called the wheat berry.  I have a wheat grinder, and I’m not afraid to use it.  Even though it is kind of scary and loud (it sounds like the Chainsaw Massacre in action on my kitchen counter).  Images of bloodletting aside, the results are worth it.  Did you know that it only takes a matter of a few days (presumably sitting on a store shelf) for wheat flour to lose its supposed nutrients and turn rancid? However, if recently ground and then stored in a refrigerator, those nutrients stay intact, plus you get the benefits of high fiber that is usually stripped from white flour.  Oh, and then “They” add bleach to the flour to make it pretty.  Mmmm—I just love a good cup of bleach with my average, everyday, death-defying meal.
Speaking of those kinds of meals… Remember reading the nutrition panel on the back of cereal boxes back in college?  I used to feel somewhat mollified in eating my high sugar breakfasts because all those B vitamins were identified as present, listed out in a clean column next to a cheesy kid’s game—and in exact amounts too!  With military precision, aligned into a column, each one would have the number “25%” neatly labeled next to said vitamins.  A year or two ago I learned how very wrong it is to have this kind of homogeneity in my food.  Think of those delicate nutrients being sifted, damaged in the process, lined up in rows, labeled, and sent on their merry ways inside plastic wrapping.  It seems a tad eerie to me now.  Maybe it’s the crazy rock music I’m listening to right now (Eclipse soundtrack—vampires you know), but I begin to feel that we torture our own food and then enjoy eating it!  I bet vampires get more nutrition out of their meals.
Also on my order list are my new discoveries of: Soft White Pastry Berries (“perfect for pie crusts, cookies, muffins, angel food cakes”), Real Salt (“similar to Celtic, but harvested in Utah,” thus cheaper), and Coconut Oil, organic, extra virgin.  I can only hope that the coconut oil comes in a container and not as a semi-solid brick or some other massy shape.  I’m only a little nervous about the weird items.  But I’ve got to learn sometime, right?  Meanwhile, I munch on cookies full of non-GMO, non-tortured, non-militarized, and non-carcinogenic fresh ground wheat, real butter, and cane sugar.  Take that, vampire cookies everywhere—you shall not have my brain cells!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Amber's Baby

In which our Heroine reflects on Another (for once). 

One of the most puzzling things about humanity is the way that we can know so little of someone and yet can often be apprised of their greatest tragedies.  Oddly enough, these situations are not based on malicious gossip concerning, oh…the paparazzi, but on moments of heartfelt empathy.   I often grew tired of having my health problems frequently aired out in conversation like so many pieces of hanging laundry, but the results were always good enough to merit being such a public figure.  Unfortunately, yesterday I learned what I assume will be a certain young mother’s greatest grief.  Having only heard her name a few times, you can imagine how little I cared about her life before yesterday.  I don’t know what color her hair is, what books interest her, or what kind of shoe she prefers.  And yet, I know an intimate detail.  It is unsettling—and not just because of the nature of the detail.
A woman named Amber who lives only a few miles away from me, but who attends a different LDS ward (church group) has a ten month old that has been diagnosed with cancer of the kidney.  Tests are still pending on whether the cancer extends to Kidney No. 2 or whether it is contained in only the first organ, which I understand is already ravaged with cancer.  The tragedy intensifies.  Her sister is in my ward and lost a child to a brain tumor only a few years ago. 
From my own experiences, I know that awful difficulties like this may often lead to good things—or at least not to the brutal horror that we immediately assume will happen in all its horrific Hollywood glory.  But I admit that my first feelings on hearing of Amber and her little one was an overwhelming certainty that this is not fair.  I discover that I can on the one hand be grateful for my own brief experiences of learning, while on the other turn physically sick when thinking of another just at the beginning of their own trial—and one that I count myself fortunate to never have had as it involves a small child and the likely broken heart of a young mother. 
The reason this knowledge seems so intimate is probably because my mind begins to conjure up situations resulting from this event.  I see a sterile doctor’s office complete with paper-covered bed and sterilizer pump bottle next to the sink.  I see a woman’s face, startlingly like her sister’s as tears roll out of red-rimmed eyes.  And then there is the baby (girl or boy?) who cries every time he/she wets their diaper.  The horror of finding blood when she changes the child.  The new sense of loss and too-much nostalgia as she rocks her baby to sleep.  The uncertainty.  The waiting.  The insomnia.  The inability to do mundane tasks or watch a useless TV show.  There is also the circling of this young mother in the arms of her own mother.  The disposable casserole dish of lasagna from a neighbor.   The brilliant violet of the bow on that vase of flowers.  The feeling of comfort that comes after everyone she knows—and even some she doesn’t—have prayed and fasted together on a Sunday.  Because if there is one thing that I do know, it is that the worst of times can be soothed by the balm of empathetic prayer and thoughts of good will. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Friend's Uncle's Favorite Artist's Legacy

In which our Heroine receives Good Advice. 

My friend Marel has responded my comments on her Uncle’s brain cancer (mentioned two posts ago) by finally forwarding the advice he gave.  Albeit brief, I appreciate what Marel’s Uncle wrote and have decided to include the letter here in what I hope will not be a copyright infringement.  I have italicized the parts that resonate with me:
"As they say about Artists and their you face death is at least as important as how you face life. Keith Haring faced his death head on and made true work of his sense of betrayal. Jorg many come to mind. I guess everyone asks themselves how they would respond to such an ultimate betrayal of expectations. Some get a chance to find out. Everyone finds out eventually but for the ones left behind, it's just a question of how much Love you can give.  There is much to learn from your friend's situation. I'm grateful for my experiences. I was never afraid of death but it wasn't real to me. Now, it's real and I'm less afraid than before. I've got too much philosophy to be afraid of the next step. I would prefer it was not handed to young women, though.... Have a look at the work and life of Eva Hesse. She's a favorite of mine. Not well known until SFMOMA picked up her seminal work "Untitled or not yet". Seriously...check her out... The main thing is that her work only became completely clear when informed by her mortality. It's quite a legacy."

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Inevitable

In which our Lady grays. 

Despite all my efforts, things have gotten away from me.  I have practiced careful planning and goal-setting.  In fact, one of my favorite things to do in a spare minute is to take a piece of paper and a pen and set down the way I want things to happen.  I do this for daily tasks, a to-do list for mundane things like the dishes and laundry.  I do it for monthly, or quarterly goals, fixing a firm image of the finished result in my mind.  I’ll even do it for very long periods of time, though I admit that these goals often have the character of dreams and hopes because of course I don’t know what the future will bring.  For instance, two years ago I began to feel that my health was slipping and I soon found myself exploring different ways of eating.  I had begun to grind my own wheat berries into flour, experimenting with home-made breads, pastas, and flat-breads the spring and summer before that fateful August day, only to ultimately find out that I had started too late.  Over the past months I have worked desperately hard to be healthy and to make positive lifestyle changes.  I made hopeful goals of living a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life.  I wrote on paper that I wanted to quit feeling so old and to extend my youthfulness, as it were, with better health.  And yet, despite all this effort and goal-oriented, positive thinking, I found a gray hair.
Okay, I’ll be honest, I’ve found them before, 4 or 5 sprinkled about behind my bangs—but this one was in my eyebrow!  It is one think to add a few “highlights” to the top of my head, but this curiously light hair near the place where my nose meets my forehead is an entirely different matter.  I keep remembering my grandmother’s gray eyebrows.  The hairs became coarse and curled their long tips messily out from her face.  The hairs were merciless in the face of assorted beauty products.  I am in grave danger of this phenomenon as I already sport a lot of coarse, long, barely controlled, black brows.  As of now, this first little gray intruder is soft and small, but I fear for the future.  I am afraid to just pluck the thing out and get rid of it because for all I know, I could face a too-soon future of appreciating its delicacy and good manners as it lies sedately against my skin alongside a slew of gray springing half an inch out of my face!
Dramatic?  Maybe.  But I am genuinely vexed that I have started all this healthiness stuff too late.  There’s a good chance I was going to be going gray by now even without the cancer, but apparently my body just can’t fight two battles at one time, and my gray hairs are telling me that I’m going down, down, down into a pit of gray despair.  Weep for me, friends. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Epidemic Proportions

In which our Heroine is Glad to be over a few Hurdles. 

Three days ago, my brother Mike called me and told me of a good friend of his who has been diagnosed with cancer.  It is a very advanced stage of thyroid cancer in a 38 year old woman.  Two days ago my mother told me of a member of our extended family who has a very terminal cancer.  One day ago my friend Marel called to tell me about—I don’t know—ten people she knows who have recently come down with cancer.  For instance, her 23 year old brother in law just had surgery to remove cancer from his bladder, of all things.  Twenty-three???  Unbelievable.
Marel’s uncle, a very cool man who used to travel the European continent playing in rock bands, has been diagnosed with brain cancer—what those familiar with the disease call a glioma (basically, that means REALLY BAD—a grade 4 terminal brain cancer).  Apparently, he’d had some seizures and his friends forced/tricked him into going to the ER.  I assume he did this with little grace as he is accustomed to living “off the grid.”  A few months ago when Marel told him about her friend that had brain cancer, he wrote some beautiful words to her about how it can make you stronger and that it can really improve your creative capacities as an artist.  (At least, this is what she claims.  She forgot to send the actual letter to me).  Anyway, in response to his current problem, Marel basically sent his letter back to him.  In what is possibly the worst case of tragic irony ever, I hope his own words give him comfort. 
Also, Marel has a cousin who has just had her second child and has breast cancer.  This is so sad to have such a recent addition to the family and yet to be plagued with cancer.  Marel knows of several other women who have had this problem.  These developments make me feel very uncertain about the medical field at large because my understanding was that a woman who has nursed babies has little chance of getting breast cancer.  Shockingly, she is currently nursing her second child and has breast cancer!!!  Also unbelievable. 
Dear Marel,
When you called yesterday to tell me congratulations on my good news, I assumed the conversation would be a normal one—heartfelt and fuzzy, but ultimately not a very impactful message.  I was wrong.  Like all good scholars, you proved your point by providing excellent reasons, examples, and support material.  You’re right that I am very blessed to be at my current stage of recovery.  As I said in my writings before, I feel like I have been privileged to be on the fast-track learning program.  I am so glad that I am past the initial stages of shock/horror, surgery recovery, and the emotional strain of knowing my days are very numbered.  Spring is almost here in Alaska, the sun is shining, and it is all rainbows and green pastures from here as far as I can tell.
Your friend in good health,
It just seems to me that there is an influx of cancer recently—affecting people younger and healthier than ever.  In my mind, a little bar graph shows improbable cancers reaching epidemic proportions.  Is this my imagination, or does anyone else see this trend? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


In which our Lady continues in Awesomeness. 

1.       There is no sign that my cancer is growing back yet.  I will do another MRI in 3 months.
2.       I can drive again.  I feel so free, so unhampered, the possibilities are so limitless!  I’ve already taken the car out for a spin—to buy dinner for myself and my family.
3.       I am so tired.  I have obviously been overexerting myself due to anxiety.  I can’t wait to sleep.
4.       I feel very relaxed right now and therefore have no intention of sitting in front of my computer and straining my tired eyes.  Goodbye for now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fifth Time's a Charm?

In which our Heroine gets her Fifth MRI. 

MRI: check.  Finished for this round. 
That’s really all I have to say.  I did it, and now I wait until tomorrow.  Random details are as follows:  The MRI tech remembered me from last time.  Also, I haven’t had any problems with claustrophobia before, so I didn’t bother to even tell them that it might be a problem this time.  Guess what, I think they have a bigger machine for claustrophobic people, and the rest of us get the skinny little tube.  I still did all right though (as long as I don’t have anything wrapped around my limbs I tend to be fine).  And that really is all.
I don’t have the emotional capacity tonight to write more.  I just need to go watch a movie or read a mindless book.  I think its best to pretend I don’t have a brain right now.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gypsy Season

In which Springtime seduces our Lady. 

Dear Diary,
Here in Anchorage it feels like the heart of winter, and yet some mysterious biological clockwork inside of me claims it to be spring.  This week I have organized various parts of my house carefully into various Sterilite/Rubbermaid boxes.  Anything from batteries to lightbulbs, canned goods to art supplies, has found itself fitted snuggly into a new home.  I also have piles of items set aside for donation to Value Village.  Since moving into our house last year I’ve had no time to put things in order, and I found out the hard way that my physical state of disrepair was made much worse by the disreputable state of my house.  It is terribly frustrating to lose certain books or art supplies in a nearby room and not have the energy to search them out.  And so I am now driven to extreme house makeover, expending more energy than I really have into this mundane task. 
Besides this curiously overwhelming urge to organize, I have lately been fantasizing about gardening.  My brother Todd has drawn up a detailed plan of how my yard should look after several thousand dollars and ten years of work.  It is good of him, but meanwhile I keep my gaze firmly locked on hanging baskets and perhaps a few more houseplants.  I long for warm sun and growing things.  I have seeds already picked out, and nowhere yet to put them.  Story of my life: I make plans, and have no way to make them happen.
I am a flurry of activity whenever I find the energy to put toward it.  I am excited about spring.  Right now this is where most of my creative energy is going.  I’d like to tell you that I am 100% sure that a healthy and green spring full of health and vitality is just around the corner.  Unfortunately, an inexplicably chill breath of winter stirs in my heart as I wonder what the results of my MRI will be tomorrow.  It is very possible that all of my hard organizational work will have been done in the service of a sick and frustrated me rather than a biking, hiking, jogging me. 
In conclusion, I am really dealing much better with this round of uncertainty.  The last bit of MRI-stress nearly took me over the edge—it being the first time I had to face my future by 3-month segment.  But I could really use some fortune-telling gypsies camping out in a nearby copse of wood ready and willing to give me just a hint about what this next season will bring.   

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Looking Up: Inspiration from W. W. Phelps

In which our Heroine continues her Independence Missouri Monologue. 

The second main thing that I learned at the visitor center in Independence, Missouri was a little about a man named W. W. Phelps.  He was, of course, Mormon, and operated a printing press there in the town.  As I learned about his personal history, I felt strengthened and inspired.  Here is a quote by  former (now deceased) LDS apostle, David B. Haight, that summarizes the events of which I’m speaking:
"We were singing a great song as the intermediate hymn, 'Now Let Us Rejoice,' written by W. W. Phelps (Hymns, no. 3). That was written following an incident in Independence, Missouri, where Brother Phelps was the editor of a little newspaper. He had a printing press, and the people who were unfriendly towards the Church decided to do away with it, and the mob broke in and burned the building and destroyed the printing press. They burned some 200 homes of the Saints in showing their displeasure over the people following this movement. In that despair W. W. Phelps wrote those words, 'Now let us rejoice in the day of salvation. No longer as strangers on earth need we roam,' bringing hope to the people and encouragement. With hope that those things will happen in our lives, we move on because of the truthfulness of what we are attempting to do."
Elder Haight’s topic is essentially courage, something I am by and large lacking on a regular basis.  It seems that I am in constant need of stories like this to buoy me up throughout my health problems.  What Elder Haight does not do, but that the visitor center did do well, was to really flesh out the story.  If you can imagine a violent mob burning your place of business and threatening the lives of all of your family and friends, then I think you can get a little more of an idea about the despair Phelps was living through.  The people were forced out of town with no time to prepare for travel.  They left red tracks in the snow from their bleeding feet as they trudged away.  But was the exhibition and discussion of this topic depressing?  On the contrary!  I had the sense that there was just this incredible hope that the Mormons of that day had as they suffered, then relocated, and rebuilt (again and again and again). 
They must have had their eyes not on their bloodied feet, or on their smoldering homes that terrible day, but on some great goal that kept them going.  I think that they had a sense that if they could just keep pressing forward—or in other words enduring to the end—that things would come out all right eventually.  Actually, they recognized that they would be better for it and I think it gave them great courage. 
We can all do with a little courage at the worst of times.  It’s a good reminder for me to think of the words that Phelps wrote as he tried to reason his way through the difficulties, and to remember that setting your sights on a higher goal is not only worthwhile, but essential. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Reasons to Travel More

In which our Heroine convalesces; or, the Benefits of Procreation. 

Sorry I’m such a blogging dork.  I honestly forgot to write yesterday, and today I have no desire to type out my thoughts at all.  I think I am still struggling with being healthy from this cold and getting the basic things in life done—at least, that’s what today’s over-long nap seems to indicate.  I dropped so many hints tonight about Jon taking Eva to scouts with him that he actually caught on and did it.  Good husband.  And I get a much-needed break from Curious George episodes.  My daughter’s brains are rotting, but on sick days, momma has a “you can pretty much watch whatever you want” rule.  Well, until I feel like writing something worth reading, I will offer some photos from my trip.  These are Eva with just a few of her cute cousins (there are many more):
Eva and Jonas: almost exactly the same age, height, weight, etc…  Got along really well mainly because Eva was fully entertained just watching Jonas being busy.
Eva and Luka: this picture is not indicative of their relationship.  They had some cute moments, but Eva is just feisty enough to go at it with Luka on a regular basis.
Eva and Maren: liked each other quite a bit—mainly because Maren is very patient.
Chase, Mae-Mae (Marina), and Eva: Chase is the best babysitter ever!  Eva and Mae-Mae were only slightly jealous of eachother…
Eva and Benson: Loved each other, but again, this is mostly because Benson just doesn’t care when certain other children swipe his toys.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Independence, Missouri

In which our Heroine recounts her first Weekend of Travel. 

We only spent 2 days in Lawrence Kansas visiting Jon’s sister Cindy, and her family.  It was definitely too short.  Prior to flying there, I entertained a small fantasy of somehow finding the time to go visit some of the LDS church sites located within a few hours driving distance in Missouri.  I have never visited any of the church history sites near there, and have always been interested.  Given the extreme lack of time in our schedule, I eventually dismissed the idea. 
Thus, it was with great surprise that I found myself visiting the LDS visitor center in Independence, Missouri and then Liberty Jail nearby on Sunday evening the 6th of February.  Both places turned out to have incredible personal significance to me, and I will always be grateful to my sister-in-law for using up her tight schedule to get me to those landmarks.  I will have to devote two, maybe three days worth of blog entries—one at least for each location.  Today, I will start with the Independence Visitor Center. 
First, you must understand that there is a great feeling of calm and peacefulness in that place.  It whispers in the air like some sort of celestial ventilation system.  Seriously, it is a palpable rush of comfortable quietude as soon as you enter through the front doors.  It speaks of holy spaces, which is fitting because I will always view this experience as a sacred moment in my life.  We shook hands with a venerable old couple, clearly in charge, who then ushered us over to our tour guide.  Her name is Sister Cleveland and she is a full-time missionary who spends her days in Independence.  She immediately struck me as a person who felt deeply about the things she daily discussed about religion. 
We went through an excellent tour filled with many good messages and I learned a lot about LDS church history that I hadn’t understood before—despite my considerable background in religion classes at BYU-Idaho and BYU in Provo, not to mention growing up in the church.  Some of the things I learned I will discuss at a later date.  For now, let me just say that it wasn’t until we were about to depart for Liberty Jail—literally on the verge of leaving—that I learned that Sister Cleveland has cancer. 
What a shock.  We had been talking about something else entirely when Cindy interrupted the conversation and asked Sister Cleveland if she thought she would ever get to go to do another assignment on her mission or if the visitor center was what she would do for the remainder of her time (or something like that…).  Sister Cleveland answered by explaining her condition and how that kept her where she was for some very good reasons.  Cindy looked around at us in surprise.  “Wait—were you guys just talking about that?”  No, we weren’t.
Remember when I wrote about meeting Patrick at the hippie store?  I posited in that blog post that some meetings are not by chance.  Obviously the same applies here.  I was amazed to learn that Sister Cleveland has had cancer for the past 10 years and even now receives a monthly dose of chemotherapy.  This is why she is serving a mission not in some far away land, but in a visitor center near an American city with good medical services.  I can hardly imagine the horrors that her body has seen in the last ten years of fighting lymphoma (not a nice cancer at all).  The thing about chemo is that if you are winning the cancer battle, then you stop doing it.  If you continue chemotherapy, then… well. 
What ensued?  Girly hugs and some crying, basically.  And suddenly within a few short moments I had a chance to put everything Sister Cleveland said about the importance of families and about believing in God and life after death into some real context.  No wonder she seemed to speak so forcefully about it all. 
I am so impressed with this Sister missionary and her testimony and feel very privileged to have met her, even briefly.  She strikes me as a very special person—one who maybe through her suffering will affect hundreds of lives for the better.  I don’t mean to seem brash about her affliction on the one hand or story-book simplistic on the other when I say this.  I have a belief that suffering is for a purpose, no matter how obscure or difficult to understand from an outside point of view.  From my limited perspective (and limited suffering), I will simply say that I have changed a great deal in the past months.  Refining and purifying metal takes a lot of heat and ultimately some serious beating on the anvil.  But beyond just ME, I will tell you plainly that if I could somehow help my most beloved ones back to Heavenly Father by suffering more, then I would do it. 
(Geesh—it sounds so cheesy when it’s written down in a blog—but I am sincere).
Incidentally, I plan to write Sister Cleveland a letter soon and hopefully make her a pen pal.  I’ll let you know how that goes, along with my future MRI on the 15th of March and a meeting with the doctor on the 16th.  Oh—and a report on my favorite kind of dark chocolate candy bar will be coming soon as well.  This because I continue to eat chocolate with the lame excuse that it will make me healthier.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Typhoid Mary Strikes Again!

In which Typhoid Mary returns from a Long and Arduous Journey. 

Well—actually it was incredibly fun because I got to see so many of my family and do so many fun things with them.  However, in my defense, it did seem at times to be long and arduous—but only because nearly all the small children in the households we visited were deathly ill with a plague the likes of which I have never before seen.  As we were plane-hopping from one end of the country to the other, this gave my husband, Eva, and I the choice opportunity of spreading germs near and far to each and every one of our loved ones.  You think I jest.  HA! I will let you in on a secret: I am afraid to call my Phoenix family, who I fear were greatly infected completely and totally due to us. 
In related news, traveling with a child who has a double ear infection is no small matter.  Also, Jon managed to contract an evil ear infection—the course of which led him to consult with two doctors and further to destroy his digestive system with powerful antibiotics.  He took nearly the whole next week off from work to recover.  Good thing he came back a week before Eva and me so he could go back to work... 
The good news is that I have sturdy ears of the non-infecting type, able to withstand both the piteous wails of my airplane-borne toddler as well as dreadful sickness.  The bad news is that no amount of Omega 3-packing cod liver oil will prevent me from feeling like I’ve circled back to square one as far as the healing from cancer thing goes after I’ve contracted a terrible cold.  I will just say that it was frustrating to have gone to so much work to keep healthy and prevent over-exhaustion on this trip only to have a stupid head-cold completely undermine everything.  I surmise that cancer plus cold equals super-exhaustibility.  Also good news: after lying low, literally, for several days, my cold is nearly gone.