Kona Trip Report day minus one

Tomorrow morning I begin my trip to Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi for a week of meetings [itinerary].

I’ll start out on one of the Lincoln Service trains from St. Louis to Chicago where I’ll catch Amtrak’s California Zephyr all the way to Emeryville, a suburb of San Francisco.

I’m leaving a day early to give myself a buffer in case the Zephyr has any delays along the way, likely if there’s much snow on the ground.  If all goes as planned, I’ll spend two nights in the Bay Area.  The Hyatt House Emeryville is just across the tracks from the Amtrak station; and the Grand Hyatt at SFO is just a short AirTrain ride from there to the terminal.  I should have a whole day to get from Emeryville to the airport and so not be stressed at all.

The return trip will basically be the reverse of that, except I’ll spend only one night in the Bay Area and a second in Chicago.  The eastbound Zephyr will likely be late, and so the extra night will give me plenty of time to catch my preferred train for the last leg back to St. Louis.

I’ll have a decent camera with me this time, so maybe I’ll take some pretty pictures.  We’ll see whether I’m any good at it. 😎

[timetables for Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Emeryville]

Chemo Three

I have now officially completed the third of four rounds of chemotherapy for the cancer.  The drips finished yesterday just before noon, and I had a couple of pills to take this morning after breakfast.

After the infusion yesterday, they stuck a small boxy thing on my abdomen that gave me more medication to stimulate the bone marrow, in particular to ward off a low white blood cell count, another possible side effect of chemo, giving an increased risk of infection.  I was instructed to take it off when the green light stopped flashing, which it did about 4:20pm; and I promptly took my first real shower in six days. 😎  (It was a little disconcerting the first time I woke up to see my stomach flashing green; but after a beat or two of cognitive improvement, I knew what it was and could laugh at myself.)

As before, I’ve been fortunate to experience none of the horrible side effect of chemo.  I expect my bowels to be all stopped up for two or three days, but that’s just an annoynance.

Next up is to get all ready for my trip to Hawaiʻi that starts on Wednesday.  That trip will get in the way of my fourth and final round of treatments which will be delayed a few days until the Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving; but I was adamant that I wanted to make the trip.  These ISO standards committee meetings are what’s keeping my brain exercised during retirement. 😎

The New Speaker of the House

FtB already has plenty going on about Johnson (R-obviously) [Mano, PZ]; and I won’t repeat any of that; but I was taken by one possible dystopia in which all of our corporate media maybe have only short bullet lists of Johnson’s looney bits at the ends of stories that are mostly about how the Republicans “got it together.”  I had planned to watch a bunch TV news shows to see how that’s playing out so far.

PBS’ World Channel has an english language broadcast from DW News at 4:00PM my time (UTC−5).  They’re usually more concerned about what’s going on in Europe, but they did have a short story about the new speaker that contained the expected bullet list at the end, and they lumped a lot together under the rather bland “conservative Christian” label.  (Maybe that’s a red flag for Europeans—I don’t know.  It doesn’t sound particularly ominous to us US folk until you’re reminded of all the various bits of it.)

Unfortunately, I hadn’t slept well last night, and I had to get up early for a normally 35-minute drive (but during the morning rush hour today) to the hospital for the beginning of my third round of chemo drips; so by the time that BBC World News America came on, this old fart had to take a nap for about an hour, expecting to skip the BBC show and my local TV news.  When I woke up, all the news was over; but I stayed up for the World Channel’s repeat of PBS NewsHour and the local news on my NBC affiliate.

PBS NewsHour covered the speaker vote only during the initial “headline” part of the show, but that can often expand on particular stories.  This time was mostly Lisa Desjardins talking about how Johnson is “well thought-of among Republicans”; and she also grouped a lot together as “conservative Christian.”  (She did eventually break out the LGBTQ+ and abortion issues, but there was no mention of, e.g., creationism or Christian nationalism, the latter being particularly scary for me.)

There was also an interview asking a Republican representative some softball questions.  She wants to “keep the government open” and described Johnson as humble and one who puts the best interests of the country ahead of party (I’m not making that up).  We’ll see…

That was it.

I was hoping that my local TV news, after the leads that bleed, might have a bit from NBC News about the House vote, but no such luck.

It’s Official

I’ll be hosting a meeting of the ISO standards committee that I serve on.

It took a little longer to set up than I had expected; but our meetings can be a little complicated.  (I hope the hotel’s sales rep. didn’t get too exasperated with me.  I try to not be one of those 20% of customers they spend 80% of their time with; but details, details don’tcha know.)

We’re expecting to have about a hundred people show up with maybe twenty or thirty more Zooming in.  The meetings are scheduled for five and a half days with Monday and Saturday mornings being plenary sessions where we handle a variety of administrivia and take formal votes.  The committee’s real work is done in smaller breakout groups, some of the groups dealing with as many as twenty or so papers during the week.

I’m looking forward to actually hosting a meeting.  I’ve gotten a great deal more from my participation than I’ve given over the years; and now that I’m retired and getting older, I think it’s time for some payback.

Two Down, Two to Go

I finished the second round of chemotherapy sessions on Friday, and once again, nothing bad happened that I could recognize.  The only side effect that I noticed was constipation, but I got moving again last night, so that was just a minor annoyance.

There was one side effect of my first round of treatments that had no symptom that I was aware of:  a blood test before the second round showed that I had a really low white blood cell count giving me a high risk of infection.  This time, after the last drip on Friday, the nurse taped a small box on my stomach that, I gather, gave me a trickle of some drug that would stimulate my bone marrow.  I was told to leave it on for a bit over 24 hours and then just take it off and throw it away in the regular trash.  Again, just a minor annoyance at worst; and most of the time, I didn’t even need to pay any attention to it.

They found a really good vein on Thursday and so were able to leave the IV in overnight; but I don’t think I’ll ask them to do that again:  given the really small needles they use these days, and the high skill level of all the nurses that I’ve had, getting stuck one more time is better than not being able to take a proper shower later and worrying about messing up the IV while I was sleeping.

I’ve been tremendously fortunate so far.  I’m just n=1, of course, so my experience isn’t significant; but so far this hasn’t been bad at all.  Indeed, once I found out that I could bring my computer and WiFi hotspot with me, there wasn’t even any boredom. 🙂

My next round of treatments will be Wednesday through Friday starting on the 25th; and the doctor said that it would be OK for me to get my next COVID booster about a week before that.

On the first of November, I’ll begin my trip to Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi for some meetings; and I’ll get my final round of treatments probably a couple of weeks after I get home on the 15th.