Friday, January 30, 2009

Serious Business in Seattle

Oddly enough, after living in Bellingham for 20 years, I've never spent much time in Seattle.
Aside from an occasional overnight at a friend's house, there have been no extended stays here.

For example, I've never been up the Space Needle, or visited many of the museums, except for the Burke at U-Dub.
I have attended a few lectures and presentations at the former Mountaineers building, and once at Benaroya Hall.

Then, I did go to a Mariners game, plus attend the special event for the Dalai Lama's visit.
We also have enjoyed several local restaurants and done a little shopping at REI and Patagonia.

So, cumulatively, I have spent some time here, but not until recently -and now- more than two days at a time.
Mostly, that's because we've seldom had the need or the urge to spend time in Seattle.
After all, one can get most everything needed or wanted in Bellingham, barring few exceptions that require short trips elsewhere.
That assumes a pretty simple lifestyle, that is also varied by mainly fun-based travel to experience the great outdoors, friends and favorite retreats.

All this has changed during the last few months, as I have had the need to seek expert medical attention.
Now, there is a compelling need for me to visit Seattle for an extended stay that is not simply 'fun'-related.
Unless, of course, the concept of 'fun' also includes the idea of living a longer life!
I think it does, and that's why I'm here.

In October, I was diagnosed with an obstruction to my bile duct from my liver.
That may not sound like much, but if left untreated would result in, uh, death; there, I've said it.
Thanks to good and quick medical care in Bellingham that situation was sufficiently mitigated to allow the time to seek more specialized care in -you guessed it- Seattle.

Who knew that the Virginia Mason Medical Center is one of the truly world-class places for treating Pancreatic Cancer?
'PanCan' is what I turned out to have, and that required radical surgery -called a Whipple- to remove the growth, plus some innards, then some internal re-plumbing, all performed by the leading surgeon in his field.

That event and the preceding tests that lead up to it were the reasons I began visiting Seattle more frequently and for longer periods of time.
It is also the rationale for entering the next phase of my recovery, which entails an aggressive protocol of chemotherapy and radiation treatment to prevent any remaining malignant cells from growing or moving to other parts of my body.
That's the phase of my Seattle visitation program that I am in right now, almost 6 weeks of that dread -but vital- treatment regimen, again under the direction and care of another, world-class Doctor, an Oncologist specializing in PanCan.

So far, so good, after just 2 of 28 planned treatment sessions.
But there are more to come, and the cumulative effects over time may -and probably will- make my stay less pleasant before its over.

This aggressive Chemo/Radiation routine is set to end on March 6, at which time I get a month off to recuperate before more tests are conducted.
Boy, am I looking forward to that!

In the meantime, we are here in Seattle, ensconced in a very comfortable condo that was generously offered to us by good friends.
What a wonderful gift that has been!

We are so grateful and fortunate to be visiting Seattle this way, especially in these circumstances.
That kindness affords us a tangible relief to the serious business we are here for, and we appreciate it very much!