October 26, 2018 Bend, Oregon

Mountain Above Bend
Mountain Above Bend

Medical Update

Sorry for the long delay in posting anything on this blog, but as some of you have probably guessed, I had a serious relapse of my Multiple Myeloma. As I have stated before, I did not want this travel/photography blog to become nothing more than a medical update blog, so since I am not traveling and have been confined to Bend for two months now, there has been nothing to blog about, other than health issues.

In late October, while I was staying at South Beach CG on the Olympic Peninsula, I began experiencing extreme fatigue and felt there was something seriously wrong. Since I figured I could make it the day’s long trip down to Bend and the oncologist that saved me a little more than a year prior, I packed up and headed south. I made it to Bend and drove up to a snow park near Mount Bachelor to camp. The following day I drove down to Bend and checked into the Emergency Room at St. Charles Hospital. I remained in the hospital for two weeks, including a three day stay in ICU where I since been told I came close to buying the farm, due to an infection that my nonexistent white blood cells could not fight off. My Multiple Myeloma had returned with a vengence.

My oncologist got me started on a new chemo regimen while I was hospitalized and that has now continued for the last six weeks on an outpatient basis. As was the case last year, I have been able to stay in the 11 space hospital camping area while I go through this recovery process again. This full hookup camping area on the hospital campus is once again, a true life saver.

Today my oncologist told me that I could probably resume traveling sometime around the end of November, and he could arrange for me to receive the last couple of months of chemo infusions at a hospital in a warmer climate. It does appear that I probably will get the cancer back into remission as the last few weeks’ blood numbers look very encouraging. So maybe this blog will resume in it’s former form by the end on November. Here’s hoping!

The Kindness of Strangers

As I mentioned above, when I arrived in Bend, I parked my motorhome in a Snow Park up near Mount Bachelor, about 17 miles outside of Bend. The next day when I drove down to the hospital, I locked Pearl in the bathroom with her bed, toys, water, and food, not knowing if I would have to be admitted to the hospital or not ( though I had a feeling I would be ).

My first concern, when the Emergency Room doctor quickly conveyed how perilous my condition was and checked me into the hospital, was how to get Pearl rescued. The solution turned out to be a Forest Ranger the hospital called who came to my bedside, took my info and motorhome keys, and drove up to the Snow Park and picked up Pearl and then delivered her to the Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend where she could be cared for until/if  I was released from the hospital. On top of that, on his own, he went to the shelter to check on her two days later and relayed her status to me in the hospital, something he certainly did not have to do, but that was greatly appreciated.

Since the Myeloma had clogged my kidneys once again, I had to undergo treatments in the dialysis unit where they ran my blood through a centrifuge of some kind to filter out the Light Chains, though they did manage to keep me from requiring dialysis thankfully. This took several sessions over five or six days and lasted several hours each day. I can not say enough about how wonderful the staff of this department was at a very trying time for me.

The department head ( Mary) was very concerned about the welfare of Pearl ( maybe a little bit about me also ) and her confinement at the Humane Society, and insisted that she would go pick her up and keep her at her  home until I could take her back … and she did just that, with Pearl ending up staying with her for three weeks. And I might note that Pearl was reluctant to return to life in the motorhome after being spoiled with a fenced yard, being able to sleep in a real bed, new toys, and more pampering than she she ever gets from me. But she has readjusted now to her her prior dull life wth me, though she really looks forward to having Mary come take her for a walk every week.

The Dialysis Unit nurses and doctor were also concerned about my motorhome sitting unattended up in the Snow Park while I was confined to the hospital and asked if I needed someone to go up and get it and drive it down to the hospital and set it up in the hospital camping area. Talk about “above and beyond the call of duty”. Sure enough, two of the male nurses in the unit took my keys, drove to the Snow Park, prepped the motorhome to travel ( raise the jacks, stow the TV and lower the satellite dish, etc. ), and drove the motorhome back to the hospital, backed it into a space and hooked up the utilities for me so that I had a place to go when I got released from the hospital. I can not say enough about these kind folks!

If it weren’t for the freezing temperatures and snow, I would elect to stay here in Bend to complete my treatment, but living in the RV, I do need to get to a warmer climate before the snow does start to fall. I’ll resume some blog posts when I hit the road!

October 20, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm

Wandering Around  Central Oregon

I took a couple of trips out of Bend last week looking for foliage primarily. I have to admit that I didn’t find much on either trip but sure did put in a couple of long days and a lot of miles looking.

I returned to the Cascades and revisited Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls, then continued west on Route 126 to Cougar Dam Road, shown as Route 19 on my Oregon atlas. Though I encountered a little bit of snow and ice on the road at the absolute highest elevations, I enjoyed this drive on the western side of the mountain, through the rain forest and alongside the south fork the McKenzie River.

From Atop Sahalie Falls
From Atop Sahalie Falls

Before heading down Route 19, I walked the short trail to the top of Sahalie Falls for a different perspective of the falls.

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

 

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

The other perspective of Sahalie Falls. I then drove the quarter mile down the road to Koosah Falls with the intention of hiking back north up to Sahalie Falls to check out some of the blue pools along that stretch of the river. Unfortunately, I never got very far on the trail, being forced to retreat and retrace my steps back to the car after going no more than a few hundred yards up the  trail. The side affects of my chemo were making themselves well known here and the weakness in my legs forced me to turn back to avoid injury. Sure hope this subsides at some point and I regain some strength in my legs or I will be forced to give up hiking and thus lose a lot of photo opportunities..

Then on west to Route 19 and eventually back east on Route 58.

Rain Forest Foliage
Rain Forest Foliage

I would recommend driving Route 19 if in the area. It is a decent two lane paved road winding down the west side of the Cascades roughly following the South Fork of the McKenzie River.

Mossy Rocks
Mossy Rocks

As you can see from the two images immediately above, this side of the mountains gets a little more rain than the eastern side near Bend, thus lush, green rain forest and lots of moss.

Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm
Abandoned Farm

My other day trip went north and east of Bend up through Antelope and parts east of there, but produced nothing to speak of as far as scenics or wildlife are concerned. The old abandoned farm pictured above is the only thing I even got the camera out for on this very long day on the road.

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September 28, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Exploring the Cascades

Below Sahalie Falls
Below Sahalie Falls

With some wonderful autumn weather presenting itself, I drove about 80 miles north of Bend to check on foliage on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. While traveling south on Route 126 towards Belknap I happened to stop to check out a couple of waterfalls along the way, Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls.

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

Unfortunately, instead of my camera gear, I only took Sam along with me for a longer than expected, though still short, walk along the trail to Koosah Falls. I did take the camera gear down the trail to Sahalie Falls and will be going back to revisit both falls on a better day for water shots, less in the way of perfect blue skies.

Oregon Foliage
Oregon Foliage

Mostly coniferous forests here in Oregon, so fall foliage is certainly not the same as back in New Hampshire, but if you search long enough, there are some stretches of mixed forest here and there, and that is the case along Route 126.

Oregon Foliage
Oregon Foliage
Kayakers on Clear Lake
Kayakers on Clear Lake
Lava Fields Foliage
Lava Fields Foliage

The one thing here that is unavailable in New Hampshire is a shot of fall foliage in a lava field. Throughout the Cascades there are many large lava fields and the pioneer plants that take hold in these fields do tend to be deciduous shrubs and trees.

Yesterday I completed round 5 of 6 of my chemo treatments at the Bend Memorial Clinic. One more three treatment round and I will be swapped over to a Revlimid maintenance treatment and taken off the steroids and other chemo drugs. Might take a couple more weeks here in Bend to get the new maintenance dosage adjusted since my oncologist plans on starting off with some pretty low dosages. So it is looking like early November before making my escape from Bend for warmer climes.

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July 30, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

Balloons Over Bend Festival

Until I saw them coming my way during my daily walk around the hospital loop road, I was unaware that this weekend Bend was celebrating it’s annual Balloons Over Bend Hot Air Balloon Festival. Since recovering my energy several weeks ago, I make it a habit to walk the roughly one mile long perimeter loop road of the St. Charles Hospital every morning before the traffic rolls in, so I am out there around 6 or 7AM daily … and that, of course, just happens to be the same time that balloonists favor for their flights.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

This morning, as I was just approaching home, I watched as the pilot of this balloon carefully set down on the paved parking lot amongst several tall street lamps, just across from where I am camped on the hospital’s loop road. As I walked by, the chase team arrived and as they were hauling out the protective tarp to collapse the balloon on, I hurried the short distance to the motorhome to grab my camera for some shots and managed to get this one of the balloon just as it was being deflated.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

A little later, another balloon came along the same route, but this one continued on across the hospital campus to the north.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

Two more balloons show up after coming over the top of Pilot Butte.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

As you can see from the image above, the hospital camping area had a front row seat for the show this particular morning. Note the non-interested spectator ( Sam ) in the motorhome, keeping an eye on Dad, not terribly interested in the balloon activity.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Another Way to View Balloons Over Bend
Another Way to View Balloons Over Bend

There were others getting a very close, and I imagine, a very interesting perspective on the activities.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

Another Completed Acrylic Painting

"Maine Harbor Reflections" 18'" x 18" Acrylic
“Maine Harbor Reflections” 18′” x 18″ Acrylic

This makes three completed paintings since I have been waiting out my treatment schedule. Learning a little bit more about these acrylic paints with each completed painting and may eventually get the hang of how to use them.

Nothing much new to report on the health front. Chemo continues and results are all going in the right direction. My oncologist has set up a referral for me to go to Portland and meet with the specialists who will do the transplant procedure ( if that is the way they recommend going ) sometime in the next week or so. He also wants their input on perhaps truncating my chemo regiment since I have had such a rapid positive response so far. This means I may get this over with a little sooner than originally expected.

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