Today’s Green Valley News Column

I just got back from my barber.  He is a pretty cool barber who, in his earlier years, was a barber for movie stars in Hollywood. Upon retirement he set up a barber shop (complete with vintage chairs, barber polls and autographed photos of stars) in his golf cart garage. Golf cart garages are very versatile, we turned ours into a wine cellar.

Along with chatting about vacations and such, we discussed today’s column about my early entry into hospice.  It had not occurred to him to interview hospice companies, especially at such an early time.  He was blown away that there were so many hospice companies serving Green Valley.  I explained  that choosing hospice is like going to a restaurant and choosing something from the menu as opposed to just getting the leftovers.  Other than Lee’s fantastic leftovers (I almost blew that one) leftovers are generally uninspiring.  If you wait until a health crisis you take want is put in front of you instead of making a choice.  That made sense to him.

The first week of hospice was busy, many hospice staff to meet and it certainly has good for business, Lee’s art business.   She sold two paintings.  The first painting was a Buddha a couple of weeks ago and the second painting is the barrel cactus below.

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Barrel Cactus Blooms

Even though I do not consider myself currently “in need” of hospice services, I was pleasantly surprised that I can already benefit from some of them.  I miscalculated a medication and would have run out on our upcoming trip to California, my hospice nurse Liz got on the phone and I had the medication delivered to my door that afternoon!  Liz was a pulmonary therapist prior to becoming an RN and she was certain that I will benefit from oxygen on our September trip the Rockies and the DUCK game in Wyoming with altitudes in the 7,000 ft range.  So she arranged for a portable tank to be delivered two days before our trip so I could get used to it before the trip.  Its all about maximizing quality of life.

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My RN Liz to the rescue!
GVN 8-23-17
Green Valley News 8-23-17 Column
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Bottle Shock!

In 1976 a wine merchant in Paris organized a competitive wine tasting between the best Bordeaux wines and select Cabernet wines from the Napa Valley in California. The identity of the wines were concealed and all of the judges were French with impeccable professional credentials. At that time the French considered Napa Valley wines substantially inferior. Guess who won the tasting?stags leap

This tasting established Napa Valley as world class wine. Guess what wine Lee and I shared courtesy of our friend Paul? The actual wine at the tasting was a 1973 vintage, the 1974 vintage we enjoyed was actually higher rated than the 1973 that won the tasting. This 43-year old bottle of wine was incredibly fresh and vibrant. It was truly amazing.

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The sommelier opened our treasure flawlessly and was rewarded with glass of wine which he whisked away to his office, dancing the whole way.

We enjoyed many wine treasures last week. It seems that Paul has an endless supply! I was determined not to buy any wine on our little side trip to Walla Walla wine country and even asked Lee to kick me if I wavered. Fortunately Lee kicked my left leg, which is protected by my brace, so I didn’t feel a thing. I joined two wine clubs and purchased wine at a third winery. Jimmy was having fun!

Beyond our incredible wine adventure we explored the Oregon’s Painted Hills, the John Day Fossil Beds and the lakes in the Cascade mountain range around Mt. Bachelor. Lee and I had a fabulous time and a much needed break with our friends Paul and Linda.

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The Painted Hills in the background
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Enjoying a beautiful day at Cultus Lake

Today we visited with Dr. P to review my CT scan from yesterday and to plot and plan our next step. Overall there has been disease progression since the last scan seven weeks ago. Some tumors did not grow but most had modest growth. What we previously thought to be a lymph node under my collar bone, turned out to be a metastasis on the top bone of my rib cage. The good news is that I feel great. My cough is under control, no temperature, sleeping well, no fatigue and a healthy appetite. I am working out at the gym five days a week and tomorrow I will resume working on a painting.

This afternoon I made an appointment for Tuesday to sign up on Hospice as I discussed in my last blog. Since I have this “no treatment” window, this gives us a perfect opportunity to get acquainted without a crisis environment. We anticipate that our research oncologist, Dr. M, will contact us in the next month or so regarding the “off label” treatment options and I continue to review clinical trials. Should I wish to pursue any treatment I will simply revoke Hospice.

In the meantime I believe it is approaching the cocktail hour.  Live life to its fullest!!