When chasing rabbits… well, actually in our case, porpoises and clams.

Monday 7-27 at 8AM. We are getting in the car to head for Anacortes to have one final look at a boat before making an offer.

Phone rings, boat broker says, “Hi, well, we just got another offer.” While he couldn’t tell us specifically what the other offer was we did get enough info to understand that it was more than we were planning on.

Me, “Well, call me if the deal falls through after the survey.” While the boat fit our preferences, it had also seen lots of use and would need to catch up on a lot of preventative maintenance.

Anna says, “Let’s go to the beach.”

Ft. Stevens State Park, Looking South down Clatsop Spit from the foot of South Jetty.

Our big plan in life is sailing off into the sunset and there are a whale of a lot of decisions and building blocks that go into designing and building that life. Each of those things, in turn, have their own set of things that go into them.

The biggest, and most expensive decision, in sailing off into the sunset, is picking the ‘mothership’, our home to be. For us, the key to picking a good mothership is deciding how we will use it. Deciding how we want to use it means knowing where we want to go and what we want to do when we get there.

Well, for one thing, it’s actually about getting to the beach.

Monday was great, we enjoyed the beach, climbed over rocks, watched the wind push bubbles across the sand, enjoyed the way the weather over the ocean played against the weather over the dunes, chased seagulls, …

Looking Northwest into the Pacfic over South Jetty

While it did feel like a small tragedy, not to get a shot at that boat, C’est La Vie. One of the good lessons that came from this experience is that it gave us the time to understand that we don’t really need the mothership right now. That’s something one doesn’t always see when in the midst of chasing a dream.

Anna in the dunes.

There are other things we can be doing that may be more important, like going to the beach and enjoying each other. The mothership will come, just not today.

Looking through the old trestle.
Bubble

Clarity…

Had my appointment with the doc today. Prognosis of success is 95%+.

I’m also getting a big schooling by seeing the lingo used appropriately by a true professional. My ignorance is profound in that realm, I’m happy to have Dr. Pavlovich as a schoolmaster.

It does seem that, if one is going to get some form of cancer, a ‘well defined’ Thyroid cancer is a preferable option. It’s seems to be the one type of cancer that can be targeted very specifically with chemotherapy and in my case that means radioactive Iodine therapy.

Lingo alert, chemotherapy or chemo is just some form of ‘chemical therapy’ and there are a variety of chemotherapies. My brain made a new path when that clicked, I could consider aspirin as ‘chemo for a headache’ and alcohol a ‘chemotherapy for shyness’ and THC as ‘chemo’ for pain and…

That is an amazing idea. Chemotherapy isn’t always a nasty, sickening, life threatening treatment that’s going to make me lose my hair and wish I were dead.

Hopefully this idea also makes it easier for the people around me to understand that too.

The rest of my Thyroid will need to come out before the radioactive Iodine therapy. I learned today that one of the big reasons for that is the follow up.

As you probably know, one of the big problems with cancers in general, is that some of the members of the original colony are inevitably unhappy in their hometown and of course they decide to go on ‘walkabout’ and they can end up establishing new colonies in parts unknown.

After my doc is done with the dissection of my neck (I’m still not comfortable with that description) and the Endocrinologist finishes the initial radioactive Iodine therapy the hope is that I’ll be free of both the cancer and any thyroid cells.

The ‘follow up magic’ is in having ‘no known thyroid cells’ in me, that means there should be no thyroglobulin produced in my system. Going forward from there as long as testing reveals no thyroglobulin, that is a good indicator of no cancer.

Things are looking good so far.

Statistics suck, but…

There’s an adage in the life insurance industry that goes something like this.

“Life insurance underwriters know exactly how many people are going to die this year, they just don’t know their names. If you want to know the names, you have to ask the big guy in the back of this Gin joint.”

(Yes, I used to support myself as a Life and Health Insurance agent.)

The first sentence provides the truth, the second is just there to get the listener to pay attention and remember that truth.

In the mid to late 2000’s Mutual of Omaha came out with “Critical Illness Insurance”. The basic idea was If you were diagnosed with a Heart Attack, Stroke, Cancer, or a few other conditions you would get a lump sum payment. No need to die to get the money either and you can use the money for whatever you need or want.

I bought one of those policies. My policy had a face value for ‘minor’ problems like an angioplasty, stent, or “in situ cancer” of $15,000. But, if I got a life threatening diagnosis, like a heart attack or cancer that’s spreading, then the face amount is $60,000.

Found out today that I get the larger amount. Financially, that’s a really nice turn of events. The problem with getting the larger amount is that I understand that the doctors and underwriters at Mutual of Omaha who decided what my policy will pay out, are darn good at their jobs.

Tomorrow I talk with my doc to figure out the plan for going forward.

Statistics suck, the threat is statistically real, but they still don’t know the names…

Lumps and bumps, and cancer. But don’t worry…

January 2019, went in for my commercial drivers license physical. Company doc says “Hey, your thyroid is too big on the right side, don’t worry, but go get that checked out, just in case.” At the end of the physical doc says “I wasn’t kidding, don’t worry, but you really need to get that checked out, just in case.”

It’s a good thing, that as a rule, I don’t worry much. Otherwise the doc’s double insistence might have really worried me.

So off to my regular doctor, and blood tests, and an otolaryngologist, and an ultrasound, and a needle biopsy, and a manual pathology of the biopsy, and a genetic pathology of the biopsy and … woo hoo! 97% sure there was no cancer. Doc says “Nothing in medicine is ever 100% definitive. Don’t worry, but let’s do this all again next year”

Even with the good news I knew it was time to learn something about cancer, and lumps in one’s throat, and probably to clean up my act a bit. One of the videos I found useful is here:

What William Li is advocating fits well with what most docs and such have been advocating for a long time, cut out the sugars, eat better food, and eat things that actually look like food.

Time for me to get those recommended vitamins and minerals so I changed and biased my diet more toward veggies, fruit, and nuts to get the nutrients that might really help.

So much for those slices of banana creme pie and pizza I was taking in my lunch.

Well, I can’t say that the diet staved off cancer, but to be fair, in my case I started this diet much too late in life to really expect that. Eating better food (though not less) really has improved the way I feel. Almost no acid reflux anymore, except when I splurge on something really sugary, and it’s helped helped control my weight, and my gut feels better and…

Eating well is a win.

So back to testing again this spring. Blood work is normal, ultrasound though reveals that the problem lump had grown by 10%. On learning that it became absolutely obvious that regardless of what might be growing in me, that rate of growth was not going to be a sustainable situation. Time for the right half of my thyroid to come out.

That removal operation happened in June, a complete success. At my first checkup after the operation the doc held up his fist, to demonstrate the size of the half thyroid with the growth. (When I use that visual talking to the people I bump into in life, it always brings an interesting reaction.)

At this point I do want to say that, my neck feels different, not better, not worse. The extra (now missing) mass in my neck had moved my esophagus and trachea about an inch off center. My muscles when I swallow and such are having to adjust to a different geometry.

The removed bits were sent off to the lab, put through a meat slicer, dyed with special chemicals, stuffed under a microscope, and analyzed by smart people.

Oncocytic (Hurthle cell) carcinoma, minimally invasive. Margins of resection: Involved by carcinoma (posterior aspect, inferior half). Pathologic stage (AJCC 8th Edition): pT3a.

The troubling bits in that diagnosis are not in the fancy words, it’s buried in the plain ordinary english.

The margins are involved. That means it may have escaped the confines of the right lobe of my thyroid.

My treatment isn’t done.

But hey, don’t worry… 😉

First real fall

I’m okay.

I knew that it was inevitable, an inherent risk in skateboarding, I just didn’t know when.

It was one of those times when you actually see it coming. Where you understand the challenge ahead is above you skill level.

I was going to fast.

The concrete was ending and asphalt started with a short pushed up hump. My trajectory was set and I’m still learning how to handle these transitions.

It was fun!

I was commuting to work, crossing the Interstate 5 bridge from Tomahawk Island to mainland Oregon. Full uniform, helmet, and elbow pads. Backpack with lunch, coffee, board charger, jacket, and such.

The gloves and left elbow pad took most of the hit. Left hip hit and slid.

Luckily I packed well and there was no yard sale.

A little earlier I had thought it might be time to turn the board up to high, glad I didn’t.

It’s nice to be getting challenged.

Working on my Vlog Mark Barendt #1 and 2

My plan is to start a YouTube channel, partly to help support us retirement, partly to have a purpose in life. Having purpose in life is important.

These are the first two installments, not highly polished in terms of professionalism of the works yet, that will come in time. I also think it’s going to be fun to have with my early work out in the real world.. I want to be able to see and show how I’ve progressed over time, not just has a view logger or cinematographer or whatever, but how my life has changed too.

Exercise (well a little)

Well, using the little coffee grinder to make my ‘morning blood replenisher’ is getting easier.

For quite a while we’ve been getting our coffee beans at the grocery store and using their grinder. Roasting our own beans means grinding coffee for ourselves. The muscles involved have been getting a fresh workout and we were considering an electric grinder.

What’s interesting though is that after just a few days, the motions are getting easier. It’s not just the grinding either, the whisking we’re doing to pan roast the beans is new too, and there’s 10 minutes (or so) of it. I’m sure this is why many people who do their own roasting come up with more automated ways.

The question in my head becomes ‘is this exercise that I want?’

Well, yeah, I think so.

Many years ago I worked as an underground miner. My buddies and I were joking around one day 2700 feet underground, in 110 degree heat, while doing our very physical work, that other people driving to a gym, parking as close to the door as possible, and paying good money to get the workout and saunas we were getting paid for every day.

I need more exercise and this is actually a nice regular bit of ritual. I want to find more ways to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. I’ll also be saving energy, which may seem like a small thing, but our goal in life (sailing the world) involves being off the grid where space and power generation are truly limited resources.

A little change here and there can add up to a better whole.

Fresh coffee, first brew.

So to make a pot I fill the grinder twice and do a pour over as shown. I start with water that has just come to a boil, I don’t keep the water hot, just sits there in the kettle during the pour.

Once the pour over has finished this cute “Year of the Dog” cup is my favorite. I got it in Seattle at a World Market just outside Pike Place Market.

The cup is a remembrance of my dog Odin.

Good coffee, good morning, good dog, I miss him. Rituals are important.