Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beginnings and endings

Today, the weather turned very nice in the afternoon, and, looking out the front window, I was struck by the intensity of the cherry tree fall colours on our street. I recalled the nice spring colours and thought I'd post a couple of pictures. For good measure, the rainbow which appeared late in the day a few days ago is also shown. Nature's way of displaying the constant beginning and the ending of life.

April's finery

October's dress

Can you see the rainbow's reflection on the raindrops?

A little outing

Yesterday evening, we invited Derek, Airdrie, Marina, and Lauren to dinner, keeping in mind that Derek has to watch what he eats. He decided that Earl's would be a good place; so we all went there. Derek enjoyed his "Alfredo" noodles, and each one of us had our own individual food choice; all chosen menu items were very well prepared. It's good to see that Derek is on the way to eating more normal food.

After dinner Derek and family went to see the "High School Musical III" movie, which Marina and Lauren were anxious to see. I'm sure they all had a good "quality time", something that Derek has had to largely forego while fighting his cancer. He's in the middle of making some very important decisions regarding what treatment direction to take. You may want to read about this on his blog at As Derek's parents, we are very much concerned, of course; while we can, and have, provided family help, it hurts to be unable to directly contribute to his fight and to his hoped-for recovery. His cancer is always on our minds. We'll support him in whatever decisions he makes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Derek's resting today, and will post only a little. He is feeling somewhat tired, and will likely spend the next few days mostly sleeping, I would think.

It's great having him back home. We're all relieved that the surgery has not resulted in some complications, and we hope that will continue.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Taking a rest

Derek is home now. Things have improved sufficiently for him to continue his recovery away from the hospital.

He was going to continue resting, but I think he'll be posting something on his blog in short order.

We're all glad to have him back among the family.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Coming home.

Derek had some more substantial food today - some pasta noodles and another one of his favorite scones from the hospital cafeteria. His pain is much diminished, and he's handling it with regular Tylenol. He's also managing his diabetes himself again - the nurses agree that he knows better than anyone regarding the timing and amount he needs.

His bowel movements are still minimal. With the more solid food today the expectation is that he'll be more active "down below". If all works out, he'll continue his convalescence at home, starting tomorrow. It'll probably take about 6 weeks before he'll be back on his regular diet. In the meantime he'll be on the same kind of diet as the one he was on when he got his ileostomy bag attached. Now that it's been removed, he's looking forward to a more normal life, without the restrictions that the bag imposed.

I expect he'll be posting soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's a gas

For those who've read this post before: check the update below.

Derek phoned, asking us to bring him some of his favorite broth from a delicatessen located on our way to the hospital. Apparently, the doctors have decided that some more substantial, though still liquid food is indicated. And the indication is? Well, there has been some activity at Derek's "lower end" - he's passed some gas. Who would have thought that "breaking wind" would ever be cause for celebration? In any case, we're happy to fulfill Derek's wish.

Mothers, being mothers, will always think of their children in need of motherly help, regardless of how old their children are. Our mothers were the same - I remember it with great fondness and a sense of nostalgia and a little sadness. That is why, in addition the requested broth, my wife is also preparing some clear beef broth and some clear chicken noodle broth here at home to take to Derek in thermos bottles. There is a chance that the delicatessen is closed today (Thanksgiving) - and she wants to cover all bases. Derek can always rewarm the broth in the microwave oven located in the "patient room" on his ward.

More later.

Update at 15:20 (3:20pm): We've just returned from our visit with Derek. He consumed, with obvious relish, the chicken soup broth we had picked up from the delicatessen. He also had the cream of potato soup which came with his dinner tray, along with some ice cream, and asked us to get him one of his favorite scones available in the hospital cafeteria (he's been in that hospital often enough to know what's available there). Liquid food is still the order of the day, but that scone apparently "melts in his mouth" (he really likes them). It's great to see him having a good appetite.

I expect that some more substantial motion will come soon "down below". His surgeon came by to check on him, as he has done every day (he has the best specialist gastro-intestinal surgeon - every doctor we talk to tells us so). The surgeon said: "you poop, you go...", meaning that Derek'll be discharged from hospital when things get to that stage. Derek thinks that it won't happen until Wednesday, and he won't leave prematurely, because when he did that before, he was back in the hospital a couple of days later .

Airdrie and the girls are going to visit Derek this evening. I think that it's possible that Derek might feel well enough to get the hospital's computer room; in which case he'll likely post a bit himself.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More today

Derek is making good progress. He's off the intravenous line and has had some vegetable broth. His portacath has been reactivated, in case he needs some intravenous treatment. No motion yet below; it usually takes a few days for any activity, after operations like this.

We had (decaf) coffee together this afternoon, and took a walk around his ward floor. He's doing this several times a day now, it's considered to be good physiotherapy. Any pain is now controlled by Tylenol three alone.

It is a measure of his good spirits that we discussed the various political parties competing in our elections on Tuesday. If he were in pain, he'd not be interested. He was also happy to receive copies of the latest news magazines (MacLeans)- we subscribe to it. He also keeps up with current events by watching television.

We hope his recovery continues on like this. More news tomorrow.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


We had another visit with Derek at the hospital today. He's doing fine. Although he cannot take solid food at this time, he's had some Jello, tea, and was offered some "chicken soup" which he declined (he described the taste as hot, salty water - "contracted" patient food is the source of many complaints in our hospitals here). He is also on an intravenous saline drip, for electrolyte balance.

Derek had a slight fever today, but his temperature had returned to normal by the time we saw him. This is apprently a normal reaction in cases like his. It's early for any activity at "the other end", but some rumbling in his gut indicates that there is progress. He says that isn't in any distress, and his mood confirms that. Judicious use of Tylenol 3 and an occasional administration of oral morphine keep him comfortable, but not dazed. Derek also sends his thanks to all who sent their best wishes via the blog comments, by telephone, or other means.

More tomorrow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hospital Report

We had our grandchildren stay with us overnight yesterday, had breakfast together, and saw them off to school this morning. This afternoon, we picked them up from school, and they, my wife, and I visited Derek in the hospital. He is in very good shape, taking some painkillers, but otherwise fine. An intravenous tube keeps his electrolytes balanced, and he won't be having any food for a couple of days at least. So he'll be losing some weight, but he was back to slightly above his normal weight before, so it should be relatively little. The operation itself took about half an hour.

Because we were looking after the kids, our daughter-in-law stayed with Derek since he went to the hospital to have the operation this morning. All of us (except Derek, of course) went to dinner at Earl's after our visit - Derek was getting tired, and we didn't want to make it hard on him. My wife and I got back about 45 minutes ago - the kids went home with mom, after going back to his hospital room to say "goodnight".

All of us hope to have him back home within a week.

They grow up, too

We have two nieces (my wife's sister's daughters), whom we've known since they were born. When they were babies, we baby-sat them many times, with all the attendant "activities" which looking after babies entails. The older one now has a daughter of her own. The younger one just graduated from Simon Fraser University. We congratulate her for this wonderful achievement.

She studied hard over several years, including on-line courses, which I think requires extra motivation. Myself, I've always done better with my studies in class. The exposure to other students' perception of course content always was a help in my own understanding of it. So, for her to do at least part of her studies "on her own" really elicits my admiration.

Our niece's graduation is a "high point" in our family history. We're all very proud of her.


Derek just phoned to tell us that he came through the "reconnect" operation just fine - he's already sitting up, and feeling quite well. The operation was done through the existing hole where his ileostomy bag used to be - no new incision was necessary. No doubt, Derek is happy about that. We all hope that his recovery is uneventful, and that he'll be back on regular food soon. It'll be a great improvement in Derek's quality of life - he's been vocal about what hindrance the ileostomy bag has been and how it restricted many of his activities. On the other hand, of course, it was a necessity. There was always the hope that he'd be able to get rid of it - that has now happened. If all goes well, it'll be one less hurdle in Derek's fight with cancer.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The hazards of living on this planet

Below, I have reproduced the content of a NASA news release, about a very small asteroid crashing into the atmosphere. In my opinion, this illustrates the impotence we would have, should this asteroid have been larger, a mile across, say. We would have likely detected this object earlier, because of its larger size, but we could have done nothing, in that case or now, to prevent this object from hitting the Earth. The larger object would not burn up, and, if it came at a time slightly different time from the one predicted, could hit a heavily populated area, with loss of life, and lots of other damage.

What is astounding is the fact that this very small object has been detected at all. Asteroids and meteorites intersect the Earth's orbit at an average speed of about 30 km/sec (20miles/sec), which translates into 108,000 km/hr (72,000 miles/hr). Nothing we can do to stop, or even to deflect an object like that from its pre-determined path. In the past, larger asteroids hitting the Earth have resulted in a wholesale extinction of species.

Here's NASA's press release:

DC Agle 818-393-9011Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726NASA Headquarters, Washington
NEWS RELEASE: 2008-186 Oct. 6, 2008
Small Asteroid to Light Up Sky Over Africa
WASHINGTON -- An asteroid measuring several feet in diameter is expected to enter the atmosphere over northern Sudan before dawn Tuesday, setting off a potentially brilliant natural fireworks display.
It is unlikely any sizable fragments will survive the fiery passage through Earth's atmosphere. The event is expected to occur at 5:46 a.m. local time (10:46 p.m. EDT Monday).
"We estimate objects this size enter Earth's atmosphere once every few months," said Don Yeomans of the Near-Earth Object Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The unique aspect of this event is that it is the first time we have observed an impacting object during its final approach."
The small space rock, designated 2008 TC3, will be traveling on an eastward trajectory that will carry it toward the Red Sea.
"Observers in the region could be in for quite a show," Yeomans said. "When the object enters the atmosphere, it could become an extremely bright fireball."
The small space rock first was observed by the Mount Lemmon telescope of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey early Monday and reported to the Minor Planet Center for initial orbit determination. The Minor Planet Center alerted NASA and JPL of the impact potential. NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth. The Near Earth Object Observation Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," plots the orbits of these objects to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.
For more information, visit:


Sunday, October 5, 2008


Yesterday, our family gathered at our house to have our annual Thanksgiving dinner. There were 17 of us to celebrate; unfortunately our older niece could not come, because of a bad cold and sore throat. Our meeting was a week early, because on the actual thanksgiving weekend Derek is scheduled to be in hospital for the removal of his ileostomy. So we did it this week, while Derek is still able to enjoy his food. Next week he'll be on a liquid diet, and it'll likely be some time before he can take regular food again.

We had wonderful news at our get-together as well. Our younger niece announced the she and her boyfriend are engaged to be married - no date set yet. The two of them are wonderful young people; we're all very happy for them.

We had a great family gathering; the youngest member present is 4 years old, and the oldest is 82. We believe that the children should be part of such an occasion - we hope that they'll grow up to continue the tradition.