Unfortunately, I am still in Bend, Oregon and winter has caught up with me. The scene above is what I see when looking out my motorhome window, here at the St. Charles Hospital camping area. The snow is bad enough, but the temperature is going down into the low teens for the next several nights and I am not sure the motorhome is meant to withstand temperatures that low.
I have added foam and fiberglass insulation to the outside storage compartments that contain my water and sewer hookups, and have dumped 4 gallons of antifreeze into my waste tanks, but I am afraid that won’t be enough to prevent me from freezing up. This motorhome was never intended for winter camping and God knows I never had any intention of finding out what camping in the snow would be like.
My plans had been to make my escape and head for the desert Thanksgiving week, but some poor bloodwork test results has my oncologist scrambling to find a new chemo formulation that will get me back on track before leaving the area.
If I do freeze up, then I will most likely be stuck here for the foreseeable future, though I have no idea what I will do for shelter. I’m afraid things are looking a little bleak right now.
On the plus side, my situation has forced me to resume painting ( to keep from going stir crazy ) and today I was able to complete my latest, one that I actually started last year when I was here for treatment. Only took me 13 months to complete this painting, though for 11 months of that period, I never actually worked on it, just moved it around the motorhome any time I wanted to change the bedding or look for anything in the bedroom.
This painting was a composite of two photos, the eagle taken in Seabeck, Washington where the bald eagles gather to take advantage of a sculpin spawn, and the Salmon Glacier landscape background was taken in British Columbia just outside, and high above, Hyder, Alaska. I’m actually kind of proud of this one, one of the more complex paintings I have attempted, and it actually came out quite well ( in my humble opinion, he says ).
Still hoping I may yet make it to the desert, but I am getting very nervous about my chances.
First off, I would like to thank all of you that have sent encouraging comments regarding my current health situation, it is greatly appreciated. I originally had no intention of posting progress reports on that front, but several readers suggested I should, so I will keep you posted.
But since the main purpose of this blog is to showcase the landscapes and wildlife of this continent, let’s proceed in that direction first.
I am currently camped along the loop road around the Saint Charles Hospital Campus in Bend. The hospital has a small, eleven space campground with full hookups that it graciously supplies to it’s patients and their families, free of charge. And for me, it has been a lifesaver! The Bend area has a few very nice, and very expensive RV Parks, and the surrounding area also has several public and private campgrounds. However, they all have one thing in common … they all are booked pretty much solid throughout the summer months. And, until I was allowed to park my rig here, I was out of luck trying to find a place to stay for my chemo treatments. So, thank you, Saint Charles !
I have been here undergoing weekly treatment now for seven weeks and really haven’t had the emotional, or at times, the physical energy to get out and explore the area.
A couple weeks ago, on a ninety plus degree day, I needed to cool down, so I hopped in the Prius, turned the AC on and did the 100 mile drive east to the John Day area of central Oregon. I only made it to the painted hills section of John Day, but that alone was worth the trip as I hope some of these shots may show.
Earlier this month, I made a return trip to Malhuer NWR in the Prius to check out what the refuge had to offer in early summer. I was really hoping to be able to explore the Stines Mountain area and perhaps get a chance to see some of the wild horses there, but the road was still gated.
The refuge certainly looked different than on my previous visits, both of which were in very early spring. There was very little bird activity, and the roadside shrubs and bushes were now all leaved out and the fields were now covered with three and four foot high grasses, so even if there was anything there, it would be impossible to see anything.
The only shot I even took was of this common nighthawk sitting in the middle of the refuge road.
Memorial Day weekend, I drove up to Mount Bachelor, only 20 miles out of Bend. Base depths on the hill were still at eight feet at the end of May and the parking lot was quite crowded, with many RV’s and folks staying in tents below the high parking lot snow banks.
Seventy-five degrees and sunny, ideal weather for golf or fishing down in town, yet perfect spring asking weather half an hour away, not hard to see why this area is so popular. Just an incredible amount of building going on and housing is very expensive here.
Got a kick out of this lab enjoying himself chasing snowballs on the parking lot snowbanks.
OK, Here’s the Progress Report
I have forced myself to resume painting and just completed my first acrylic painting on canvas. This is a composite of a few photos from the Hood Canal in Washington, where Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons congregate in late spring to take advantage of the sculpin spawn in the oyster beds along the shore where Big Beef Creek enters the canal.
This painting measures 24″ x 16″ and depicts the way the Bald Eagles harass the herons to give up their catch. The eagles perch in tall pines along the shore and watch while the herons hunt through the oyster beds looking for the spawning sculpins. As soon as a heron plucks a fish from the water, the eagles swoop down from the pines and force them to give up their catch. You can right click on the image if you would like to see a larger version of the painting.
On the myeloma front, I just completed round two of my multi-drug chemo therapy, and my oncologist is very pleased with the results thus far! My kidney function, not that long ago at a stage four kidney disease level, just a hair’s breath away from requiring dialysis, has already returned to completely normal function. My red blood cell count is slowly increasing and all the bad stuff is rapidly decreasing, indicating that the chemo is doing it’s job. Other than some severe fatigue initially, the result of the disease and the aggressive chemo approach, I really have had very little, if any, adverse side affects, no nausea, no pain, no hair falling out, etc., and the last couple of weeks, even the fatigue has gone away, as the red blood cells continue to increase.
My oncologist says I am, in his words, ” way up on the good side of the bell curve “, as far as my chances of having a good outcome to this process. He says the fact that I have had such a rapid reversal of the progression of the disease, along with my bodies ability to tolerate the potent drugs, bodes very well for my immediate future.
He assures me that I am a very viable candidate for a stem cell transplant and that procedure could possibly be done as soon as August. He has also suggested that perhaps, and he says he is about at a 50/50 position on this, I may be one of the folks that may be able to keep the disease in remission without the transplant because of how my body has responded so far, but the final decision will be made after another round of drug therapy.
But the overall prognosis has decidedly changed in a positive way, and for that, I am most grateful.
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