All in Month: An Update, More Photos & Adventures

A week after we arrived home from the May 15th surgery, we returned to San Francisco for the 2 week infusion follow-up. There were no MRI’s. Simply a meeting with the oncologist, a quick physical and a blood draw. It was a quick trip. We left on Thursday, had appointments on the 29th and flew home at 6:00 am on Saturday. At one point in travel I dozed briefly, as I roused myself, I wondered whether we were coming or going and from where? Life is moving at lightning speed.

The trip did alleviate some outstanding worries and for that reason felt worth it. Luke has had some discouraging numbness in one thigh; however, the doctors believe this was due to a pinched nerve while he was out during his 4+ hour surgery. It seems to be recovering. The day before we headed to San Francisco he had an unusually nauseous moment, but likely due to moving too fast; he’d only gotten his foley catheter out the day before and was raring to go. He’s had more head pain and less energy lately, but both are explicable given that he had a round of steroids, came off a quick tapor of them, had 12 days of uncomfortable catheter-ville, quite a bit of travel and let’s remember, brain surgery. Anyone might be tired – Luke was too. Thankfully he rested.

Luke can feel something “going on up there.” It’s disconcerting at the least. In the past, his intuition has closely aligned to reality; however, this time we know something’s going on. I imagine a microscopic battle – chemo vs. cancer. I hope the chemo is causing the raucousness that is the cause of his discomfort and winning. It could of course be any number of things… the tumor could be growing, it could get worse before it gets better; it’s new technology, it’s a crazy diagnosis and it’s totally unknown. We are hopeful the coming June 12 MRI tells us more.

Truthfully he’s feeling better every day and went back to work Tuesday feeling good. We march on, one day at a time, knowing that we’ll know more soon… Until then, pictures are worth a thousand words. Here are a few more insights into our recent, more light-hearted adventures:

Iao Valley

Iao Valley is home to the Needle, a steep, prominent point, used as a lookout in historic battles. A silver stream, full of luscious, deep pools flows out of the base of the valley and is obviously the locals’ favorite place to cool down. It’s also a state park with stairs that lead to a good viewing area of the Needle.

However, it’s a pretty short walk to the viewing point and easy enough to hop the fence and continue on what started out looking like a very reasonable trail. Unfortunately the jungle nature of the hike affords few view points until you reach the “top” – a high point in front of a cirque of steep green slopes. Very pretty. Pretty enough to carry your 4 year old piggy back 3+ miles in super muddy, slippery conditions… Verdict is still out, but we’re always up for an adventure. She definitely had the cleanest feet at the day’s end.

Haleakalā National Park (Volcano)

We ascended from our sea level home at the more reasonable time of 7:30 am – it’s suggested you catch the sunrise from the top of the volcano with a 4:30 am departure. I think we timed it just right, there were no buses and few people by the time we arrived; the next round of buses showed up as we were leaving. We also caught good weather and great views. Very fun to see snow from afar on the big island.

The spikey, silversword plant (pictured below) is singular to the top of this mountain and blooms once every 50 years before dying off. Very beautiful. In addition to a few viewing areas and trails, there is a nearby observatory on the mountain top that is touted as the 4th best viewing location in the world. The telescope can apparently monitor objects as small as a basketball 20,000 miles away.

At 10,023 feet it was quite the drive from sea level. We greatly enjoyed driving through that much elevation gain and looking back down on it. Well worth it.

Blow Hole & Heart Hole

I could have spent an entire day here. There was a cliff-side maze, ocean-side lava ranging from red to black, a distinct blow hole and the elusive heart-shaped hole that Luke wanted dearly to find in a nearby cliff wall.

The 2nd half of the road was an adventure in itself – narrow, windy and steep with super ocean views all the way. We also passed through a historic Hawaiian village (panoramic above) that looked its part in location and otherwise. Very idealic.

Seaside at Baby Beach and Elsewhere

We somewhat belatedly checked out Baby Beach, which was too bad, because it was delightful and we greatly enjoyed it. We squoze quite a few visits there in our last days. We also splashed in a bombed out WWII bunker outside Pia – out of the wind and surprisingly delightful. The Buddhist Stupa in Pia was also especially touching for us. The Dali Lama had personally blessed it in 2007. I spent time in Nepal right after meeting Luke, in 2001, within days of the royal massacre. The country was engaging, beautiful, friendly and memorable. It was only later we learned of the devastation Nepal faced in an earthquake the day after we visited the Stupa and sent our prayers heavenward. So tragic. The world is indeed full of suffering…

On a more joyful note and a benefit to spending so much time waterside during this trip was that Elsa had some breakthrough swimming moments which were super fun to witness. Additionally, the snorkeling was all very national geographic, that is to say, pretty magical for this land-locked family.

Swimming with sea turtles is absolutely amazing. Even Elsa got a chance to experience their magic after she & her cousin practiced snorkeling poolside one day, the next day we took them out into the ocean. Elsa wasn’t out 4 minutes, bit her snorkel, looked down and boom, there was a turtle! It was awe-some in the way that she was done and wanted to go back to shore asap. They are big – especially when you’re little and not expecting them. Friendly as they are, they do take some getting used to – so glad we got the chance. It was totally amazing.

Portland & San Francisco

We spent a quick day in Portland, but made good on it by visiting the Rose Garden, Sofie’s Island and the Cathedral Park. At the park we were mesmerized by a fellow blowing large and prolific bubbles. While we tried to keep the kids out of them for a while, it was just too difficult and understandingly tempting, eventually we broke down and let them chase bubbles to their hearts content. This made everyone’s hearts content as smiles, laughter and bubble popping ensued.

Luke & I took a quick trip to San Francisco by ourselves for the April 27th MRI, but returned with Elsa and Anna (Luke’s sister) in-tow for the May 15th surgery. The day after Luke was settled at home, I took Elsa down the hill to see the Bay to Breakers race that we’d been hearing so much about – the longest running race in the world (since 1912). It was started to improve the community’s spirit after the 1906 earthquake. Approx. 50,000 participants run 7 miles from the bay to the open ocean. It literally cuts the city in half for the day. We’d missed the Kenyans and other actual racers, but enjoyed a variety of costumes and likely a dozen naked men over the course of the hour we watched – apparently it’s legal for special events.

I brought Elsa home and Anna took her out again to go for a run. They went back to the course to check it out and found the mostly young and drinking crowd, now ambling the remaining distance. They took up the course and ran in the race – team denim with EB in her denim dress and Anna in her denim shirt. Perfect. Apparently Elsa felt the spirit of things and ran a good distance herself. Whenever she got out the stroller a “shark” that ended up running with them would chase her in fun. Anna thought Elsa really ran a mile or so of the 7 mile run. The next day Elsa barely caught herself as she got out of bed, she was so sore. Pretty cute.

We made it home and salvaged what was left of Luke’s hair into a mohawk for a few days. Fun while it lasted. Little did I ever know I’d be with a man with a mohawk…

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