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So it's now been a little over two weeks since my last radiation treatment. I had stopped taking chemo a week before that due to low platelet counts. On the Monday after my last radiation treatment, my sister and I drove out to La Push in the Olympic National Forest, which has become one of my favorite places on the planet in the past few years. LaVelle had been intrigued by my descriptions of the rain forest and beaches and had been hinting that she'd love to visit one day, so I thought this was a good opportunity and would be a good place for me to lick my wounds. Unfortunately, as soon as we got out there I pretty much collapsed. I spent the first day and a half more or less sleeping the whole time. By Wednesday I was sufficiently recovered to go to the Hoh Rainforest with her and dawdle along the half mile Hall of Mosses Trail, which was just as awesome as I remembered from my previous visit, and we also drove down to Klaloch to eat lunch at the lodge there. But my appetite was shot, so I didn't enjoy the dungeness crabcakes as much as usual. The next day I managed to hike with her the half mile (but with some steep climbs) to and from Second Beach, but I barely made it a hundred yards down the two miles of flat sandy beach before I had to stop and snooze on a drift log for a while. Fortunately the sun came out, so it was very pleasant. My thought had been that we could stop at Astoria on the way to Portland so I could drink beer at the great brewpubs there, but my tolerance for alcohol was shot, so on Friday we just drove to her house in Portland.

LaVelle in the Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest

On Saturday I rested and read, and on Sunday I got my Shakespeare tattoo ("Thy life's a miracle") from Adam Lunoe, which was quite an experience for LaVelle, I'm sure. Death metal, talk of prison experiences, two other people (plus a third companion) with neck to waist arrays to which the two were having additions made, and much loud talk freely laced with f-bombs.Bronx-born Adam quietyly told me story after story about his history as a tattoo artist in the NYC area, where tattoos were illegal/underground between 1962 and 1998. He apprenticed under a guy who went by the alias Spider Web, which was a name that provoked wows from tatoo aficianados Dan and Lynn Steffan when I mentioned it. After the tattoo I got together for a beer at Alameda Brewing with my old college buddies, Brian and Carl, and old fannish acquaintance, Neil (I knew his brother Ole better), and his partner Gloria, whom I'd never met before. The beer still tasted like crap (to my radiated tongue), but the  company and conversation were great. On Monday I got together for beers with Dan and Lynn at the Moon and Sixpence, and once again the stories that flowed were mighty fine bu this time mostly fannish. In the evening my sister cooked dinner for me, my niece, Jolie, her daughter (LaVelle's granddaughter), and Jolie's boyfriend. Good family fun, and little Celine made us all nurse her weirdly animatronic burping doll.

The new tatoo

Early the next morning I tearfuilly parted from LaVelle (who had been taking care of me for most of the previous two months) and flew from Portland to Palm Springs. I was in such a brain fog still that I somehow left my boarding passes behind while I went through the TSA line and then had to go back to get the boarding passes and go through the TSA line again, hooray! Clearly I still needed LaVelle to hold my hand! Anyway, Mom and Dad picked me up at the Palm Springs airport and drove me to their winter home in Desert Hot Springs. I'll be here until March 23rd. So far I've done a little sun bathing (protecting both my radiated scalp and fresh tattoo), read, watched Pac-12 basketball on TV, and visited with my Aunt Ardys (my mom's sister), Uncle Truman, Cousin Kris, and her husband, Steve. I'm still feeling worn down and still don't have much of an appetite, but I think it's very slowly, very gradually getting better. I keep waiting for a big breakthrough, but it looks as though it's going to be a slow process. I guess I really have been through the wringer. They told me that it would probably be at least two weeks, and maybe four, for me to get back to normal, whatever that is anymore. I'll practice my patience. It still feels to me as though I haven't fully reckoned with what has happened to me in the past four months -- there's really been no time to stop and digest the news since I first found out about the tumor on December 2nd -- and I'm still waiting for the sledge hammer of emotional reaction to hit at some point.

Please give me strength



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 11th, 2016 03:40 pm (UTC)
The turtle comes to mind.....slow and steady wins the race.
Mar. 11th, 2016 03:47 pm (UTC)
I didn't mean my comment to be anonymous :-) LaVelle
Mar. 11th, 2016 03:53 pm (UTC)
It's a good reminder. Maybe I need a turtle icon here.
Mar. 11th, 2016 04:07 pm (UTC)
Speak yet again
Mar. 11th, 2016 04:09 pm (UTC)
Mar. 11th, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
I love the picture of you giving the tree -- i always start thinking of "Give me peace" by George Harrison.

-- Luke
Mar. 11th, 2016 05:13 pm (UTC)
Jesus, Randy, do you reliaze what a pillar of strength you are
and a shining light in a world of darkness?
Mar. 11th, 2016 07:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Randy
Can't say I feel like much of a pillar right now. Others are being pillars for me.
Mar. 11th, 2016 07:19 pm (UTC)
You make me want to go to Ozette, where we haven't been in about 15 years.
Mar. 11th, 2016 07:40 pm (UTC)
I've hiked the Ozette Triangle a couple of times and really love it.
Mar. 12th, 2016 06:12 am (UTC)
Those places sound amazing; sounds like a fine place to visit while recuperating. With naps! I'm not sure that I could nap on a log, myself, but hey if you can do it, more power to you.

Love the tatttoo, BTW.

Desert Hot Springs? I had some grand-relations who retired to Palm Desert back in the '70s. It was cool to be so close to desert, especially in date season. Are you going to be able to spend any time in among the Joshua trees?

Mar. 12th, 2016 02:53 pm (UTC)
I've been to Joshua Tree National Park before, and another beautiful site near here called Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve. Don't know if either one will be on the agenda this time. It will partly depend on whether I recover enough energy to hike.

And yes, I couldn't have gotten through this ordeal without LaVelle. There really are no words that suffice.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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