No Spring Chicken #10
We went to Oregon over New Years. My brothers both live in Tigard (near Portland), and we got together for a lot of gaming. Janet & I stayed with Joe, another gaming friend, who has lots of open space, and went to an aunt's 85th birthday party on the 30th. Colleen used to go sailing with me in my old 8' pram, and it seemed like a good thing to do to make it to her 85, since I missed her 80th. I wore out early in the party after the long drive down but since I'm getting used to that I just sat down and listened until I had more energy. Jeff had gone with us to the party, and after his surgery to fix a deviated septum earlier that week he wore out, too, pretty quickly and crashed harder than I did. So we didn't stay too late, but it was good to see a lot of family again. That night Joe and I stayed up talking about my illness and his mother who had recently passed.

Joe sleeps in pretty late by anyone's standards. On an early morning he is up by 11am and ready to face the day by noon. So Jeff came over at what is a normal morning time for he and I and we got in a couple of DBA (De Bellis Antiquitatis - ancient land wargames rules) games with my Han Chinese before Janet or Joe got up. Once again, in the first game my die rolling was mediocre at best, while his was consistently good. This is a game where your die rolling is critical to success, and I've managed to lose the entire army on three die rolls (not easy to do). So when most of my rolls were low and he rolled 5 (on a six sided die) eight of eleven times, and one of the others was a 6, I easily lost the first game. The second turned right around and I rolled good and beat him. But I've had these chinese since I painted them many years ago and have hardly used them, and not for DBA at all. So it was good to get them blooded. We then took a look at some other games that Joe wanted to play. So we were ready when he got up. Basically, we gamed all day with rest breaks because Joe was recovering from travel and Jeff & I from medical issues.

We did a lot of gaming on Saturday, too, but watched the Huskies win the Holiday Bowl and hand Nebraska a good thumping.

Sunday morning I went over to Jeff's and he, Pat & I played a few games of Wings Of War (World War I air combat) with the planes I bought long ago and haven't had a chance to use. One-on-One-on-One is an interesting way to play. Given a little more time we'd have had one with two planes against two with one plane each. Now, as usual, when three Condon siblings get together we have a bit of difficulty in making things work smoothly, so there were a few squabbles over rules interpretations and positioning of aircraft after intricate maneuvers. Not that any of us would cheat. No, heavens not. But sometimes a 60 degree turn gets a bit closer to 65 or 70 degrees. Reminds me of the old engineering saying: 1+1 = 3 for sufficiently large values of 1. But we solved that by taking the three of us against some bombers flying through. After that we watched the Seahawks play their way into the playoffs.

We came home Monday morning, having only left a book at Jeff's and my DBA battle-board at Joe's. We stopped at Colleen's on the way home to have a peaceful chat without the crowd, and to pick up the water bottle I left there. You may be detecting the theme about forgetful. Well, my memory doesn't remember as well as I seem to recall it once did. But I'm not sure I can trust that memory, either. Ah, well. I guess I better blame it on the medicines I'm taking. That will last me through May, but not much longer. Then I'll be off the current batch of heavy duty chemicals and I'll either have to remember better or blame it on old age. Oh, well, I'm over 60 now, so I guess I can be getting a bit older. Now about the not feeling bad about it part...

It is fun to travel on the odd days so we don't have to fight the usual weekend traffic. The weekday traffic in Portland and Tacoma is bad enough. On the way home we stopped in Lakewood for a quick trip through the Game Matrix. OK, I went into the Game matrix for some flocking and stands for my Chinese. Janet took Clair for a walk. We've taken up listening to books on CD while we travel in the car. This time is was Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe on the way down, and an interesting tail (not a mystery) called The Long Night of Winchell Dear. Traveling with Clair has become, hmm, interesting. When we did our month driving around the country a couple of years back we took Clair down to Jeff's and left her there while we travelled. Clair had a great time and was truly spoiled by the time we picked her up, but she hasn't forgiven us for leaving her to the point of trusting us not to leave her behind again. The next year we took her to the vet and left her and they took her knee apart and rebuilt it along with fixing the ACL which was torn. After that she couldn't run for two months, and boy was that tough. Now, any time we are leaving she wants to go. But if we get someplace she is worried we won't take her home with us. So she has vocalized a lot more than usual. This is a dog that doesn't whine under normal conditions. When she needs dinner or to go out she just stares. If nothing happens she gets up, moves a couple feet, sits down and stares some more. I really know what the term being "hounded" means, she just does it silently. But now she makes these squirrelly sounds of distress when we are packing to make sure we know she wants to go. Once she is in the car she is fine. Then, once we get there if we go anywhere near the door she wants to be sure she isn't left behind. With all the dancing to insure she wasn't left behind she was exhausted by the time we left. She slept all the way home, slept until bedtime, then went to bed around 7 and didn't get up until around 11 the next morning. That is a long time for an older (9 years old) dog to go without a trip outside. It must be terrible to be so insecure. Wait, Janet, where are you going? Can I come, too?

I should mention that I had sent my doctor an email Wednesday evening before we left with some questions about lab tests. She was off with family for the holidays, so there wasn't any response until Monday, but I didn't know she was gone, so I kept checking all weekend. She sent me the results of the bone marrow biopsy and the blood work (a bone marrow karyotype). The blood work was normal. But the bone marrow biopsy shows that the lymphoma is also in my bone marrow. That means I'm in stage 4 out of 4. I have also begun getting night sweats - one of the symptoms. Which means it is Grade 3b (out of 1-3) aggression, too. But maybe I can blame the night sweats on the medicines, along with my memory, and then I'll be able to pretend it isn't as bad as it seems. Not that it matters. I'm already at the point where we'd be treating it anyway, and the treatment would be the same. So it changes nothing, and shouldn't bother me. It doesn't, really, just feels strange getting those two pieces of news yesterday. I guess I can expect lots of news over the next few months. Most will be better than this, though. At least, that is my plan and I'm sticking to it!

I've managed to give away 1 1/4 cases of the 4 cases of beer so far. Another half case will go with me to chorus tomorrow night. You gotta show appreciation for good directors and Mike has allowed as how some Stout will go down nicely. I thought it might. But I better not hear any more "surprisingly good" comments, Mike!

I could feel pretty bad about my condition, but then I tune in on some friends who are fighting various medical problems and I know I've got it easy. I only have to kick this once, not live with it all my life like Jeff & Joe with their diabetes. I don't have the eternal complications and additional problems that Scott is having after kicking his cancer. We have received so many offers of help getting to and from the hospital, providing meals, etc., not to mention prayers. I can't help but think I'm one of the lucky ones in this life. Even the lymphoma I have is one of the least intrusive of cancers. And I still have a wonderful wife and a loving puppy dog who can't stand to be without me. Truly, My Cup Runneth Over with Love!

Love you all,

Tom the Lucky