Category Archives: just a post

Countertops + More

It’s mid October so it’s a perfect time to post an entry here.   I’m mostly focused on pictures right now, but in short, 2018 continues to be a challenging year and some days are much harder than others.  Work insists on being stressful and it is sometimes difficult to deal with that on top of all the other stuff.  Larry’s chemotherapy is apparently doing its job, which is fantastic, but the side effects continue to build up and progressively get worse.  He’s able to find ways to deal and mitigate, but it sucks nonetheless.  Mom can’t feel her hands and it doesn’t look to be carpal tunnel, so here’s hoping that upcoming appointments with a nerve doctor provide insight on what is happening.   So all around, good times, right?  That’s the update then on what’s been going on, so now I’ll just post some pics.

Sunday, Oct 21: Our Countertops at the Glen LA

Yesterday, we celebrated Mom’s 70th.  Planning for this evolved as Mom’s not been feeling that great so we kept this very simple.  Larry and I made a cake, and then we met up with Stacie at Mom’s to get lunch and celebrate.  Wish we could have done more but the plan is to eventually have a do-over when she’s feeling better.

Sat, Oct 20: Mom’s 70th

And in completely unimportant news, I rebuilt my PC.  I do this every now and then because one simply can’t have an old computer.   Well, I’ve actually held off on rebuilding the computer’s motherboard and processor for 5 years!   I’ve replaced the graphics card a few times, got a solid state drive or two, and upgraded the power source in that time, but hadn’t really felt the need to update the main processor.   But the latest round of computer games were starting to tell me that if I wanted the premiere experience, I’d need to do something about it.  So I did.  And just in time, as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which just came out, is a beast and I can run it without a problem and it looks glorious.  It’s a fantastic game too.  My components this time around included:

  • Intel i7-8700 3.7Ghz processor
  • ASUS Prime Z370-A Motherboard
  • 16 GB of DDR4 3000 RAM
  • be quiet! Dark Rock processor cooler fan
  • GeForce GTX 1070 Ti video card (which I had got a month or two ago)

Behold, my new PC as built on a Friday, Oct 5 night:

Two Weeks of Travel & Stress, But We Made It

I won’t lie – the last two weeks have been hard.  I’ve been having to travel for work and while of course when one hears where I went, they probably think I’m a little bitch because oh boo hoo, I had to go to great places.   But the fact that I had to leave Larry (even though he had amazing support from friends and family while I was out) was ridiculously hard to deal with.  Then the travel was all about work, but when you’re traveling for work, it’s very difficult to not fall behind on the regular work stuff you’re also responsible for doing.  So yeah, it has been a relief to be at this point and know that I am back to a regular kind of schedule.

It wouldn’t be me though if I hadn’t taken pictures while out and about!  So let’s start from long ago and work our way back to drywall.  It’ll make sense once you see the pictures.

Larry started his 4th round of chemo back on Monday, August 27th.  It was another round of the FolFoxIri + Avastin, which is the max approach we can take at this point.   I then was leaving to go to Mexico City on Tuesday.  EEK.  Larry wasn’t on his own though, as my mom was able to help take him on Wednesday for unplugging the chemo port, and Nicki also came by on Tuesday night to keep him company.  It was a relief to know he was in good hands.

I went to Mexico City to help with training up PwC Mexico folks on our code review template and to also, and more specifically why I was there, to give an introductory crash course on COBOL.  Yep, what was my life for 16 months in 2016 and 2017 is now part of what I’m known for here at PwC.  Good times!  🙂  I was slightly nervous about the whole ‘going to Mexico’ thing, but I managed.  Uber is prevalent in Mexico City just like nearly everywhere else in the world; my experiences from Puerto Rico also had me prepared for what to expect, as just like there, there’s plenty of the regular, non-touristy areas where people live as well as the more haute-touty places.   While during the day of Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at PwC Mexico, the evenings were good for enjoying the area.  My coworker who was there with me is Mexican and knew the area, so we had good ideas for where to go.  The first night, we went to a good restaurant right nearby, but on the second/last night, we got to go into historical Mexico City’s Zocalo, the city center.   It’s where you see James Bond in the beginning of Spectre – and it’s pretty damn great.

Mexico City, Aug 28-30, 2018

I was very very happy to get home though – which was Thursday night.    And god bless Global Entry – I was able to get right through customs without much fuss at all.  But leaving LAX on a Thursday evening is awful any time of the year, but worse before a holiday weekend.  I got home finally but I was exhausted.   Obviously Larry wasn’t feeling all that great himself, and in this case, one of the side effects of his chemo was causing him a lot of discomfort.  We had been trying to rig some solutions using OTC medicines but it really wasn’t doing much to help, regrettably.  Spoiler alert:  Larry was able to call the wonderful GI doctor (Dr Fisher) and get prescribed something that has drastically reduced his discomfort.  It’s not entirely gone, but to say that it’s so much better for Larry is entirely accurate.

Anyway, let’s talk Labor Day weekend.  We had originally been going to go to the Hollywood Bowl to see John Williams’ concert, along with my mom.  But Larry’s discomfort basically meant we weren’t going to be leaving home this weekend for that kind of excursion.  It sucked, but Nicki and Rekha reached out to see if we wanted some company so they came over and brought delicious food from All’Acqua (which is a great Italian place in Atwater Village).  That evening, in addition to food, I got them to play Jenga with me, so yay!

Nicki & Rekha Cheer Us Up w/ Jenga, Sat, Sep 1, 2018

On Sunday, we again mostly just hung out at home and watched The Crown and relaxed.  It was nice.

Then on Monday (Labor Day), Nicki & Rekha came back over to enjoy our apartment’s pool complex, which is a very nice thing to have.  We not only enjoyed the pool, but managed to snag one of the cabanas.  It was a nice way to spend the day.

Labor Day Cabana Fun, Mon, Sep 3, 2018

Jetting off yet again on Tuesday, I went to Orlando for PwC’s Risk Assurance leadership conference.  This was a trip that had been scheduled for quite a while, and at one point (pre-diagnosis), I think it was something Larry & I had considered maybe him going on too so we could spend some time at Disney World.  That didn’t happen obviously.  It was a good conference though and I got to spend some time with current friends and connect with new people too.  Always about the networking in this company.  Like I said before, Larry ended up getting some medicine to help with his side effects while I was gone this time, but when I left it was definitely not a resolved issue.  Happily, by Tuesday evening, he was feeling better.  So yay for victories where we can take them.

So while I was in Orlando, we really only got one evening of pretty awesome fun – we were going to get a dinner in EPCOT center and then time to ourselves in the park!  Not a lot of time (<2 hours, actually) but still, this was my first time ever at a Florida Disney park so I was gonna take advantage of it.   Larry gave me the heads up on what rides were worth it in EPCOT so I had my marching orders.  A few others of my friends were on board for this too, so off we went!  Basically from our event space by the UK area of EPCOT, we headed straight to Spaceship Earth, which is within the famous geodesic sphere.   It’s a slow ride that drives you through the world of communication and how it’s evolved over 30k years.  It’s pretty great, to be honest.   It’s also cool to be inside the sphere!   After that, it was over to Test Track, and let’s just say that this ride is the shit.  It’s clearly a forerunner to Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure, and possibly even more fun?  Finally, we ramped up the intensity for the last ride, Mission: Space, and geeeez, it’s a rough one.  It’s a G-Force simulator and fucking wrecks you.   It’s still a fun experience, but next time, I’ll take the less intense alternatives, which do exist!

PwC & Epcot Center, Wed, Sep 5, 2018

Again, it was wonderful to be back home after this trip, especially knowing it was the last one for hopefully a while.

This weekend has been good – our house has drywall up!!  It’s actually been a few weeks since we heard that process started, so waiting a few weeks means it’s all up now.  It’s very exciting – within the next few weeks, cabinetry will be going in.  Yay!

Drywall!  Sat, Sep 8, 2018

Catching Up on the Last Few Weeks

I’ve been pretty bad at updating, as is my way.  So I’ll try to rectify that here, with some pictures and general “here’s how it’s been going” updates.  Long story short though, Larry has been doing pretty damn great during Rounds 2 & 3 of chemo.

A brief update on the chemo story:  For Rounds 1 & 2 of his chemo, we were doing a “doublet” chemo treatment called Folfox.  I’ve linked to a site that kind of explains it so I don’t have to get into the weeds.  This treatment approach is the typical standard one for colorectal cancers, and so that’s what our oncologist recommended.   The goal though was to see how Larry took to these and if the side effects were going to be too much. Because his port surgery was still within 4 weeks, we did not do the +Avastin though, as that is the drug that inhibits capillary growth, to stop both cancer cells from building out but also good stuff, so healing Larry’s surgery scars would have been impeded.  But we did Folfox for the first 2 rounds and while he definitely did experience neuropathy as expected, and of course fatigue and occasional nausea, it wasn’t anything we couldn’t manage.  And by the time each 2nd week came around, Larry felt pretty good.  So by the time it came time for Round 3, the onocologist (Dr Arzoo, who is an amazing man and doctor) let Larry decide if he wanted to increase the treatment potency.  There is a “triplet” chemo treatment that has been shown to be very effective too, Folfoxiri.  It’s more aggressive and comes with heightened side effects, namely much more diarrhea.  Dr Arzoo was supportive if we were wanting to go for this, and after some consideration, Larry was on board.  It definitely adds more time to the chemotherapy process on Monday, and the neuropathy seems to be heightened, but the dreaded constant diarrhea really didn’t manifest for Larry.  He’s been actually doing pretty good during this Round, which is certainly hopeful for us.  Really hoping that will remain the case as we go into Round 4 tomorrow.  All thoughts and good vibes are appreciated!

Here are some pictures from Round 2, on July 30, 2018

Why don’t I have pictures from Round 3 two weeks later?  Well, that’s because Fran came in to spend some time with her boy!  Only one visitor is allowed at a time, so I stayed home while she went in for the Round 3 super dose.  I had told her that it wasn’t such a long day, but Folfoxiri + Avastin does take a long time, so my bad!  I’ll get to be there for the long day tomorrow.  Anyway, before she accompanied Larry on that Monday, we picked her up on the Sunday before from LAX.  Taking advantage of the fact that we don’t typically spend much time on the West Side anymore, we planned an outing to the Century City mall – and went to Eataly for lunch!

Eataly @ Century City on Aug 12, 2018:

As far as other stuff that happened since, here are some pictures and stuff!

One of the things Larry & I saw at the Hollywood Bowl was a live performance of Annie – which was amazing.  Much like Mamma Mia last year, it’s basically putting on the Broadway show but keeping the sets from being too over the top.  In both of these cases, the sets actually were pretty flexible in that they took advantage of rotating sets to great effect.  In Annie, the letters themselves were able to be used as various locations by rotating them around to show they were hollow and had sets in them.  AWESOME. The cast of Annie, especially the lead and then the celebrity cast that filled in the other main starring roles, were all amazing.  Ana Gasteyer was great as Mrs. Hannigan as was David Alan Grier as Daddy Warbucks.  The girl who played Annie was fantastic.  I love the songs too, and they didn’t disappoint with numbers like “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”, “Tomorrow”, and “Maybe” (and everything else, of course).

Annie @ the Hollywood Bowl, July 28, 2018

Early this month, Larry & I went back to the Glen to see how our house was coming along.  No drywall up (although we have heard that has started this week!) but we got to see that all the electrical and plumbing is in, as are all the windows, and a lot of the clutter on the floors was gone, so it was much easier to walk around and imagine the future.

The Glen LA, Aug 5, 2018

The day before Fran arrived in town, Larry, my mom, and I went to the Hollywood Bowl to go watch The Empire Strikes Back accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl orchestra.  It’s a phenomenal movie and has one of the more iconic soundtracks – obviously it’s the movie that first used the Imperial March, but it also has such great themes such as the love theme and the stupendous Asteroid theme.  It was a pleasure to hear it play out live.  Plus there were so many lightsabers in play it was a joy to see them all come out when certain actions or musical moments came on, notably when the Imperial March played.

The Empire Strikes Back @ the Hollywood Bowl, Aug 11, 2018

I have been working basically from home while Larry is going through this.  With the stuff I’ve been working on lately, that’s been an option.  I do go in occasionally though just to make sure people see me or when others let me know they’ll be in.  In this case, my ex-work wife Barb let me know she was going to be downtown one day AND she wanted to take me to lunch!  How could I refuse that offer?  Fran took Larry duty (I kid, honestly – he doesn’t need such attention) and I went in and met her at her new office neighborhood and she then surprised me by saying we were going to 71 Above, the restaurant which resides at the top of the US Bank building.  It was spectacular, and since we got there around 11:45am, we beat the rush and got window seats.  It’s kind of nuts.  The food was fantastic, and I definitely appreciated her generosity!

Lunch w/ Barb @ 71 Above, Aug 16, 2018

It’s been a blur though, to be honest.  I can’t believe we’re on to Round 4 tomorrow, and that Fran has come and gone already.   There was fun to be had, as we did go and see Crazy Rich Asians which was awesome (go see it), we’d go for walks to keep Larry active, made dinners at home, Fran and I drank wine, she’d watch a lot of her British Netflix shows, and overall it was just an easy time, thankfully.

So here’s hoping the good vibes continue.  We’d love to learn that the chemo is doing its job, but we won’t know how well it’s working for a little bit longer.  Dr Arzoo has mentioned we’ll test levels after Round 6.  In the meantime, positivity and confidence it’s all working out are the order for the day.

In random news, I’m in love with this mop I saw at Bed Bath & Beyond:

My absolute joy

I got it and I used it yesterday at home and never again will I use those stupid Swiffer Wet Jet things.  Such a waste of paper and resources those things are.  This mop has a built-in spinner function to help you both wash the mop head and then a salad-spinner thing that helps you rinse off excess water before using it.   I’m sad to report that our floors were filthy, but damn if they’re not clean now!

Week One Complete + All Sorts of Other Stuff

Yep, the first week of Larry’s chemotherapy is complete.  It’s been a whirlwind, a rollercoaster, and exhausting, and I don’t recommend it for anyone.  But it’s all in service of the fight that we will be winning, and I am frankly glad to get it started.  No more quarter for these fucking cancer cells in Larry’s liver.  No. More. Quarter.   Get the fuck out.

The beginning of the week was when Larry had to go and sit in the treatment center for about 3 hours hooked up to an IV.  He’s taking the Folfox treatment chemotherapy which is the standard method of treating colorectal cancer.  We didn’t do Avastin this round, which will likely be back for Round 2.   With this therapy regimen, Larry will go every 2 weeks.

On day one of each cycle, he’ll get chemo in the center.  Before he leaves, the staff then attaches an infusion pump that attaches to his port and he carries around with him, which keeps administering the chemo.  He keeps the pump with him for the next 48 hours, and after that, can then go back in and have the pump removed.   His regimen is then over for the next 1.5 weeks.  All things considered, it is something he has to deal with for like a full 2 days, but after that, he can get back to just building his strength and living his life.

Obviously it doesn’t come without side effects.   Neuropathy, nausea, and fatigue are the main ones we experienced, but I don’t think they were too overwhelmingly bad this round.   I don’t know what we can expect as this continues, but I do know the key is to keep him eating, drinking, and exercising.  So that’s what we’ll be doing, dammit.

To prepare for naps and relaxation on the couch, we got some help from Nicki to go to our storage unit and grab the chaise part of the sectional couch.  We’d put it away as our apartment just really wasn’t big enough to have it present…but now it’s like, fuck it, we want to be comfortable!

Honestly, while the walking space was intruded upon, you can still get by.   And it’s amazing to have a full couch again.  You can truly sit a few people there now to watch TV!  And I like having a chaise option to sit in.  Sometimes you don’t want to chill in the chair, right?

On the weekend before chemo, on Saturday, July 14, Larry and I happily made it out to the Hollywood Bowl.  We’d had to miss our first planned show around July 4 as we just weren’t feeling good enough to make it, but Larry’s made huge progress in feeling back to normal, at least as much as he can.  It was a huge happiness to make it to the Bowl this time though, as the performers were Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, and Michael McDonald.   Yep, the Kings of Yacht Rock were all together, and the songs and performances were amazing.  AMAZING!  And that place was sold the fuck out, as obviously many are unashamed in their love of smooth pop rock!

Anyway, that concert was a nice thing to have right before heading into chemo.  We got through the week of chemo with its ups and downs, but this isn’t really the place to go into all of that.  Just know that Larry made it like a champ, and he will continue to fight to be free of this cancer.  His youth will be an asset and we’re going to take advantage of that in this fight.

So on Friday night, Mila and Sveta dropped by and it was just a blast.  We had dinner, talked, drank wine (well, Sveta and I did), watched TV (showed Sveta the first episode of Pose, which is one of our favorite recent shows as it’s glorious) and just overall had an amazingly fun evening.

On Saturday morning, Larry & I went for a brisk walk around Glendale, and Brand Blvd was shut down in advance of the annual car thing they do here.   So here are some pics of that:

This weekend, we had yet another Hollywood Bowl concert in store!   On Saturday, July 21, it was a screening of the movie Jaws accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl orchestra.  As a reminder, Jaws is a fantastic movie, and even with it being 40+ years old, it still thrills and kicks ass.  Seeing it with a giant crowd makes it even more fun, as it was clear there were some who weren’t ready for some of the scares.   Chief Brody’s snap to attention when the shark nearly takes his arm off is still fantastic.

And now it’s today!  We just came back from seeing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! and gotta say…it WAS FANTASTIC.  So much fun, they got some of the deeper ABBA cuts into the song (“Andante, Andante” was a particular delight), the new members of the cast portraying the younger versions were amazing, CHER was wonderful, and the story ended up being very poignant.  The ending scene might have made me cry just a LOT.  But then there were the upbeat numbers to “Waterloo”, “Dancing Queen”, and happily, “Super Trouper” that just made my heart swell with happiness.  ABBA is the fucking best and will always be.  And I’ve heard that Cher is going to release an album of ABBA covers and that just makes me so happy.  Anyway, go see it, you’ll be very happy you did so.

Finally – I have to share that my Daily Double clue from my game way back in 2016 ENDED UP IN THE 2018 JEOPARDY DAILY CALENDAR!!!  And it’s today!   And I’m so stoked.  I had seen my super bestie from the taping (Vicki) had posted a few weeks back in the J! group that her clue had showed up in the calendar.  I had bought the 2017 calendar thinking maybe my clues would be in it, but I think that the production schedules of that never would sync up – so it makes sense our clues wouldn’t show up until 2018.   So I was motivated to find a copy of the calendar (got it on eBay) and quickly flipped through it to find anything that looked familiar…and there it was on July 22!   It’s not correct that it was a Final Jeopardy (I WISH), but still, I’m psyched that my question made it:

This Guy

You may have seen some of the Facebook posts I’ve put up over the last month or so having to do with Larry.   We’re going through what we’ll have to call our “cancer period.”  Yeah, Larry has cancer.  More accurately, he has colorectal cancer which spread from his colon to his liver.   Fortunately, it has not spread beyond the liver.   Spreading to the liver is the typical place that colon cancer travels to if it does spread, so right now we’re dealing with “run of the mill” colon cancer that’s spread.   We obviously are relieved it hasn’t spread further.   There’s lots of emotion right now about the whole situation – some of it is fear, some of it is anger, and a lot of it is hope.  Lots of the latter, honestly, but there are days when the other emotions can threaten to overwhelm hope.   I don’t like those days.

Larry’s going to get his chemotherapy port installed on Tuesday.  A port allows a much more efficient way to administer chemo and take blood without having to destroy a person’s veins.   Also, chemo can’t go directly into veins as it’s toxic.   He’ll then start chemotherapy shortly thereafter.   We have gone to get second opinions at another specialist doctor at UCLA and then another at City of Hope.   We think the therapy will be folfox avastin but City of Hope’s proposal was to do something called folfoxiri avastin.   Basically, it seems that folfox avastin is a ‘doublet’ treatment while folfoxiri avastin is a ‘triplet’ treatment.   You’re getting more drugs injected into you in the triplet and it’s much more aggressive at fighting the lingering cancer in the liver, but of course the toll is greater.   The City of Hope doctor believes Larry’s age will be an asset here and he’d be able to respond well to it.  So we’re currently in that stage of running that information by our current oncologist at UCLA/Burbank to see if he agrees.

All of these things are a lot to deal with.  Some days are better than others, emotionally.  Send out good vibes into the world for Larry, for everyone.  This diagnosis is so fucking messed up – he’s 43 and diagnosed with colon cancer.   You’re not even advised to get a colonoscopy on a regular basis until 50, although we’ve been learning that guidelines were recently changed advising it at 45, and thoughts are that it may even go lower because there are more and more incidents of early colon cancer being observed.

I’ll try to keep updates coming either here or on Facebook – the good vibes do help, as do the stories of people beating this.