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Yesterday was non-stop consultations with nurses, social workers and insurance specialists and then a chest x-ray and bone marrow biopsy. Everything went smoothly, but it was a really long day. We arrived at hospital at 8:00am and didn't finish up until about 4:30pm. The two Percocets and Ativan helped during the biopsy. LOL The drill site on my pelvis hurts a little today. Oh, well.

The bone scan folks took me early this morning, as did the EKG people. My dad and I spent the long gap just hanging out and enjoying the midday. My afternoon appointments included some lung capacity tests and an echo cardiogram. I'd never experienced any of these previously, so dare I say that they were somewhat "fun".
Current Location: Lakewood, Ohio
Current Mood: tiredtired

I admit that I've done and said some pretty stupid things in my lifetime, but I pride myself on having a pretty healthy stash of common sense. At my last job, there were all sorts of stupid people who were either just completely stupid or just had no common sense. Now, I don't have a degree, but I can figure things out pretty quickly and can recognise that life has provided enough lessons and examples that I should've learnt something from. Like not ending a sentence with a dangling participle, which I just did.

It was a daily occurrence for any one of us to drop into the middle of a completely inane conversation inb the lunchroom. It just so happened that on this particular day when I was making a pot of coffee, I was privvy to one of the most incredibly dopey interactions I ever had at this job. To protect the identities of the ignorant, I will refrain from using their names give them new monikers for the point of storytelling.

Gary Coleman: Oh, my God, gurl... I. Love. Love. Love that Chinese buffet up the street. I think I'm-a go get take out from them today. You wanna go?

Princess Glitterbomb: Maybe-- but wait-- I thought you said this was a buffet!

Gary Coleman: It is!

Princess Glitterbomb: Well, okaaaaaaaaaay... but how do you do take out from a buffet??

Gary Coleman: You get a styrofoam container and just put the food into it from the buffet and then you weigh it before you pay.

Princess Glitterbomb: Why do you have to weigh it?

Gary Coleman: Because they price it by the pound.

Princess Glitterbomb: Oh. But what happens if you get more than a pound?!!! Do you have to put the food back?

Me: Seriously?

Princess Glitterbomb: WHAAAAAAT??!!!

Me: If it is $4.99 per pound and you get more than a pound, the scale does the math and you pay whatever that little bit more costs. Haven't you ever bought anything at the supermarket deli counter or from the produce section??!!

Princess Glitterbomb: Well, yeah! But when I go, I just tell them to give me a pound and I get a pound!!

Me: Exactly? Every time? Never under or over?

Princess Glitterbomb: I dunno! I never pay attention!!

Me: Hmmmmm... well, it looks like the coffee is done brewing. Talk to you guys later and have a great lunch. Bye!

One final note: "Princess Glitterbomb" is proud of herself and loved talking about how she has a degree and I don't. Sure, kid. Well, at least I understand the concept of how pricing by the pound works. Yikes.

Current Mood: sleepysleepy
22 May 2015 @ 11:54 am

Hello there! I'm coming to you from my little chemo room down at the Taussig Cancer Centre at Cleveland Clinic's sprawling main campus.

There's not a whole lot to report today other than: I'm doing fine for the most part. The "most part" component is due to the fact that my white blood count is low. What does this mean? Well, this week it means that I probably shouldn't be around sick people (or groups of people,for that matter) and that my hobby of licking things should be put on hold for the time being.

The doctor said this drop in white blood counts is pretty much normal, but they thought they would see this much earlier in the process. They are going to look at the lab results of my blood draw next week to see if they will need to adjust my Revlimid dosage. If that's the case, they may need to alter my cycle a little. I'm hoping that they don't 'cos I'd like to just get on with the stem cell harvest.

The crazy thing about all this is that none of my other blood data has changed. As a matter of fact, they say that my blood is still crazy healthy except for that one thing.

The doctor was very encouraged that I walked between 4 to 6 miles every day when I was on vacation and that I started back at the gym. He did not oppose my 45 minutes on the crosstrainer or that I was doing moderate lifting again. He told me that he is happy to know that I am doing these things because he wants to make sure I am fit as I go into the transplant. Well, yes, that's the goal!

Check back in next week to see if my white blood count has gone back up or if I will need to have my Revlimid routine altered in any way.
Current Location: Cleveland, OH
Current Mood: chipperchipper
19 April 2015 @ 06:20 pm
I sit here feeling a little lost at the moment-- one part of me is joyful that I got to make this journey and see all these people, but the other part knows that this time is over and it will no longer be the focus of my plans or my future. I am grateful that to know that I am loved and supported by my friends and that Celebration is not just an event that happens every so often for us. No, in fact Celebration is something that I carry inside me every day that I live. These people-- my friends, are not ones that I leave behind as we scatter back to our lives in various parts of the world, but rather ones that I hold in my heart when I am feeling lost or scared and even when I am feeling happiness and excitement over something they would appreciate.

Celebration is a time of old friends and new friends and not just about being fans of a particular film franchaise even though that is what brought us all together. I am happy that these friendships are strengthened with each party and locked into place when we share other important moments in our lives. I believe that we all feel the same way and understand that these are important days and ties that will help us get through whatever life throws at us.

I thank my old friends for loving and stalwart and steady. I thank my new friends for being so brilliantly wonderful and allowing me to weave them into the fabric of my existence. I truly love you all and I am having a difficult time allowing myself to say the "inner goodbye" so that the one I speak later this evening is easier to say.

Who am I kidding? It never is easy. I'm sure I will cry at some point.

I already cried once as I hugged my friend Marjorie goodbye as I left the collectors' lounge area.

We shall all be together at some point again. Even if we are not, my only hope is that my friends know how much I appreciate every little thing they've brought into my life.

Thank you-- and love to you all!!
Current Location: Anaheim, CA
Current Mood: sadsad
Current Music: "Ahsoka Leaves" - Kevin Kiner and The City of Prague Orchestra
19 April 2015 @ 06:03 pm
Today was an emotion-filled day; we all knew that this had to come to an end, but we weren't ready for it to happen. It's never an easy thing to face the final day of a convention when you know that it is the last day you'll get to see your friends for a while.

As I finished up my breakfast this morning, I was approached by two ladies who were looking to fill a cab to the convention centre. I told them I would be more than glad to share the ride there. I recall their names to be Karen and Judy. Karen's husband and son were already in the queue and, as it turns out, they were in the medical badge line as well. So, we got to hang out for a while.

I spotted my friends Brian and Daniel in the next queue over and said "good morning". They were staying out of the immediate area, so we didn't get to hang out, which saddened me, but I am glad I got to see them from time to time during the days of the convention.

The Celebration Store line was quite short and the items for sale were few, but I managed to get the t-shirt with the Japanese poster for "The Empire Strikes Back". It was really the only one I wanted, so it worked out well. I also picked up a shirt for a friend's son-- I can't wait to get it to him!

A new friend, Ed, informed me that there would be a good panel this morning. It was one that I had overlooked and so I changed my plans and ditched the Kenner figure panel for the Kathleen Kennedy / Kiri Hart panel. They spoke about the future standalone films that will be referred to as "Anthology" films. They introduced Gareth Edwards and he spoke a bit about the upcoming Rogue One film that will start filming this summer. There was no footage to be shown, but some art was revealed and a teaser that they put together at ILM was screened for us. This film will take place before Episode IV and will be a war film based around the Rebels stealing the Death Star plans. This should be exciting!

I got to share this morning with Jim and Annabelle and we had a load of fun. We suspect a female attendee thought we were a couple and said "oh, you two are so wonderful with (Annabelle)." I'm sorry, I'm just silly old Uncle Dale.

I stopped by the show floor again to say "goodbye" to Jeff Carlisle and his wife before heading into the Billy Dee Williams interview with James Arnold Taylor. Billy Dee was a good interview and I am glad that I got to see him. Over the course of the conventions, I have been fortunate to sit in on panels with Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and finally Billy Dee Williams. I think I've done pretty well and I thank them for doing this for us long-timers!

The last thing that I got into was the Closing Ceremony. James Arnold Taylor trotted out all the hosts of the various stages at the con and showed footage culled over the span of the last few days. I met up with some of the Sir Steve's Guide crew (Barry Benecke and Josh "Tycho" Weiselberg) for this one. It was wonderful sharing that time with them and getting to end this convention as I had ended my first one in 2005.

It looks like some of the SWANlings are heading out to dinner at 6:30 and I planning on joining them. I need to wrap this up, but I think a proper epilogue would be more appropriate.

So with that...
Current Location: Anaheim, CA
Current Mood: wistful
Current Music: "Luke and Leia" - John WIlliams and The London Symphony Orchestra
19 April 2015 @ 02:45 am
Changed things up a bit this morning and met up with a couple of friends from the Sir Steve's Guide days. I met up with John Lindquist and Richard Beal (who had his wonderful kids, Julian and Charlotte, with him) and had breakfast at IHOP before heading to the convention. We spent some time catching up, laughing and enjoying the silliness provided by Richard's children. We even collabourated on a "dragon giraffe" picture on the back of Charlotte's kids' menu!!

We walked over to the convention centre and parted company. Richard didn't have tickets for the con, so he and his kids wandered the grounds and had pictures taken with the cosplayers. As I split off from them, I discovered I was walking alongside the legendary character actor, Deep Roy. I said "good morning" to him as we proceeded into the convention hall. Once I was inside, I was told all people with medical badges could go right inside.

I wandered the show floor for about 20 minutes before the general pass holders were allowed in. I found it nice to be able to wander the convention floor before it was jammed full of people. I still haven't gotten into the Celebration store due to the long lines that never end.

My first panel this morning was for the Heroes of Rebels and that was held in the arena on the Celebration Stage. James Arnold Taylor hosted the cast of Rebels (Vanessa Marshall, Freddie Prinze Jr., Steve Blum, Tiya Sicar, Taylor Gray) along with Simon Kinberg and Dave Filoni. I had been slowly warming up to the show, but the trailer for the second season really got me excited and is giving me a lot of good feelings about what is to come. Ashley Eckstein and Dee Bradley Baker were added to the panel as Ahsoka will return in season two and Captain Rex will make an appearance in this series. EXCITING!!!

The next panel explored the incredible music of Clone Wars as well as Rebels. Pablo Hidalgo interviewed Kevin and Sean Kiner. It was interesting to learn of his process and to hear some of the music cues playing against the scenes, but without the dialogue and sound effects.

It was a toss up whether I would attend the season two premiere of Rebels or if I would return to the Celebration Stage. The queue for the first had filled up whilst I was in the previous panel, so that made my decision for me. I ran into Jim and Annabelle again and he was trying to get Annabelle into the premiere (even the medical queue was full!). It must've been "the will of the Force" that we ran into our friend Berent Lawton and he gave us the bathroom break password to get back into the room. Our scheme worked and they were soon in the queue to see the premiere! It was unfair that any child would have to wait 4 hours in a queue to see a cartoon.

I headed down to the Celebration Stage queue and was soon met by Margo. We had an absolute blast hanging out together. She is a lovely lady! James Arnold Taylor's "Talking with Myself" performance was enlighting and entertaining. He is such an incredible voice talent and just a great guy. He revealed at the end of his show that he almost lost the ability to use his voice in early 2005 due to illness. His words of encouragement to those with struggles caused quite a number of us to tear up. I even felt moved to send him a Tweet and thank him for his words and talent. I woke up to discover that he had acknowledged it and I felt even more emboldened in my fight to get well.

After James' amazing show, he remained on-stage to interview Mark Hamill. Mark was funny and told some great stories. Many were familiar, but many were not. I was just feeling like such a fanboy as I sat in the same room as he. Mark told us that he had gone into Bad Robot the week before to record his lines for the second teaser trailer, but that J.J. Abrams used the original dialogue from "Return of the Jedi" and blended the newly recorded parts as a vocal double.

Yes, kids-- this is why the line goes "my father has it". This has nothing to do with Vader being alive in the new film.

I closed out the evening with the Lehanes and a nice light dinner at Mix at the Hilton. I love these folks!!! Little Annabelle was so exhausted that she fell asleep as soon as her food arrived. It was a long and exciting day for all of us.

Spotted on the convention floor: Taylor Gray, Dave Filoni and Deep Roy
Current Location: Anaheim, CA
Current Mood: gratefulgrateful
18 April 2015 @ 02:33 am
It was another fun-filled day at Celebration!

I got into the medical queue with the Hamiltons and Mr. Cogan around 9am today. We split up when they opened the doors and I got into the EA Battlefront panel at 10:30. I was thrilled to get into this panel because I have been absolutely gagging to get an update on Battlefront II, which is probably my most played videogame ever. Doug Chiang and the folks from EA talked about the game after showing us the game trailer. I admit that the graphics for this game looked so beautiful that I actually felt more for this than for the trailer for "The Force Awakens". Yeah, I am sure a lot of people are going to say I'm even more mental than they previously thought.

After the panel and getting a Battlefront t-shirt, I caught up with the wonderful Jowers family in the line for the costumes, props and models exhibit for "The Force Awakens". I was really impressed by the new troop armour and lingered there for a while. "Jedi Larry B" was working that room, so we got to spend some time with him. Lovely man!

From there, we headed to queue for Carrie Fisher. As usual, Ms Fisher was in fine form with her patented brand of crazy and wit. She and James Arnold Taylor had great chemistry and the hour just flew. Carrie looks healthy and wonderful!

I wandered around the show floor and caught up with Jeff Carlisle, an artist who grew up with some of my favourite cousins. It was good to finally meet him in person. It's weird that we both live in the same state, but it took us to both be in California to meet.

For the second time today, the Jowers family helped my pathetic ass out by letting me jump into line for the panel for "One Big Story", which discussed the LucasFilm story group and canon.

I popped into the collectors' lounge and was recruited by my friend, Arnie, to film a segment for Star Wars Action News. We headed back down to the show floor where he conducted an interview with our mutual friend, Andrew, about some premium collectibles from Hot Toys. My eyes were tired, so I hope I didn't film everything out of focus.

I was late getting into the queue for the screening for "Revenge of the Sith" in 3D. I finessed my way into the medical line and managed to get in. I had saved a few seats and looked for my friends who had been in line. I only found Will and Margo, so the three of us spent the evening together. The post-conversion on this was probably the best I'd ever seen, so it's a shame that the 3D treatments got vaulted by Disney when they bought LucasFilm.

It was a great day and I'm glad that I was able to do as much as I did.

Spotted on the con floor: Anthony Daniels, James Arnold Taylor and Dave Filoni (again)
Current Location: Anaheim, CA
Current Mood: contentcontent
17 April 2015 @ 01:53 am
What a day!!!

I met up with Eric and Gary a little before 8:00 in the morning and headed over to the convention centre. We caught up with Jim Lehane, his wife and daughter out front and went inside. I gave little Annabelle my extra medical badge (intended for a caregiver) since she was in a wheelchair and there were no more passes. I figured this would help them out if they needed to bypass a line or get access to things. Not only that, she was so freaking CUTE!

We stood in the queue for about 90 minutes before being let into the Digital Hall. Some people had waited all night long. Margo and Will got into line around 5:30 this morning and got into the main stage area. I honestly didn't care if I was in the same room as J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy; I just wanted to see the opening ceremony.

JJ and KK spoke for about 45 minutes and brought out Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac. They were soon joined on-stage by Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew. After some banter, they screened the new teaser trailer. It was definitely better than the first trailer, but I'm still not sold. I'd give it a 7/10. The shots of the Falcon were largely better than the horrible tracking shot in the first teaser. Still, there was a jarring shot that pulled into the action and it seemed... "wrong". There was a lot of expected cheering when Luke's voiceover started, when they showed TIE Fighters and then when they showed Han and Chewie. I hate to say that the thing that impressed me the most was when an actual BB-8 rolled onto the stage.

Oh, well. I'm sure the movie will be fine.

From there, I visited the collector's lounge and sat in on a panel about the history of French collectibles.

I ventured back into the fray and attended David Collins' fascinating "experiment". He restored music that was ultimately edited out of the final cut of The Empire Strikes Back. The music exists on the soundtracks, but a lot of it was cut. It really would've changed the tone of the film in a number of places.

The final panel I attended featured James Arnold Taylor interviewing Ian McDiarmid. It was quite entertaining and informative. At one point, JAT produced a copy of William Shakespeare's "The Jedi Doth Return". He asked Ian to read the Emperor's monologue to Luke at the end of Jedi before he started to fry him with Force lightning. It was incredible!

We closed out the evening at a place called Clancy's Bar and Grill. It was Arnie, Marjorie, Will, Margo, Andrew, Robert, Jason, Damon, Kimberly, Eric and Gary as well as a couple other folks! It was a great evening, but they overcooked Marjorie's burger and then the owner came out, angrily (and sort of accusingly) shook the order ticket at her and said that the ticket said she wanted it medium well, not medium rare. Then, when she brought out the replacement burger, it had the wrong fries. When Marjorie mentioned it, she sniffed at her and said, "TAKE IT!!" before she stomped away. She returned a few minutes later with the correct fries. We started to refer to the original fries as "hate fries". It was kinda funny.

Sooooo... I need to get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be another LONG day!!

Close encounters on the con floor: Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett) and Kathleen Kennedy (Head of LucasFilm)
Current Location: Anaheim, CA
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Day minus two was a really great day. I got to the hotel and spent a lovely afternoon with Mr. Barry Jones. He met me at the hotel and we had lunch over at The Cheesecake Factory (I'd never been) and it was quite good. We hung out at the hotel and spent some good quality time talking about life and our ills and things before he had to part for WeHo again.

I met up with Eric Stuckey and his friend Gary for dinner that evening. We had a really nice catch up at P.F. Chang's. We got some apps and drinks and talked about everything under the sun. It was an absolutely wonderful day!

Day minus one started where it had left off-- I met up with Eric and Gary after breakfast and we did a walkaround at the convention centre grounds. While there, we saw Dave Filoni. It didn't seem like anyone recognised him. But I did!

Eric and Gary parted company with me and I did some shopping at the CVS. I was almost back to my hotel when I received the call to active duty from Marjorie Carvalho. I turned around and headed back to the convention centre and met her in the lobby of the Hilton. I also saw Steve Sansweet at the Starbucks! I waved and he waved and again, everyone around him was oblivious to his presence.

Chris and Sarah Hamilton soon joined us, as did Daryl Whitlow. Arnie finally made it out of his and Marjorie's room at long last and we were all finally ready to go.

We headed over to the convention centre and started to set up the collector's lounge. There was a lot to do, but our small and dependable crew managed to get things handled. Berent Lawton also lent a hand, so things moved along smoothly.

Earlier, Marjorie and Sarah had been badgering me about getting a medical badge. Sarah had one and said there wasn't any reason why I should not. "Later", I thought.

I headed back to the hotel and stopped for a delicious lunch of authentic tacos asada with onions and cilantro as well as a sopes con pollo. Both were delicious and the tortillas were made fresh! While I was waiting, the taco lady said that her son loves Star Wars. We conversed a while and I told her about the convention. I gave her the pin I designed for Star Wars Action News to give to her son. She was so grateful. Lunch was delicious, so I was grateful!

I ate lunch in my room and laid down for a little nap before heading back out. I ran into Will and Margo Olds on my way back to the convention centre. I also ran into Brian Dellascio and his partner, Daniel Hildreth. They were hanging out with some friends, so the three of us went inside to get my medical badge. I paid it forward and badgered Margo into getting one. She did and n ow she can sleep in the bed they paid for and arrive to the line at 5:45am rather than having top sleep in the line outside.

After we left the complex, we headed over to the SWAN party at Tony Roma's (thank you Eric for arranging this). So many people were there and it was wonderful! I made a couple new friends there... Ryan and Dan, specifically.

It was a wonderful night. Hopefully I will be able to sleep better tonight so I can be fresh for the first day of the convention tomorrow!!

Close encounters at the con: Dave Filoni (Director: Clone Wars / Rebels) and Steve Sansweet (Owner/Curator: Rancho Obi-Wan)
Current Location: Anaheim, CA
Current Mood: tiredtired
03 April 2015 @ 02:46 pm
Today was a very long day down at the Main Campus of Cleveland Clinic. I had my blood drawn (lots of it), my thorough visit with Dr. Valent and his amazing crew and then I had chemo. Everyone could see that I was noticeably stiffer (stop snickering, perv) and so-- guess what? I got a massage scheduled at the Clinic next Tuesday!! I have to pay for parking and this gets to be covered. Brilliant!

As it turns out there isn't a whole lot of interesting information to be given here. They moved the treatment timeline again and it looks like I will finish my sixth cycle of chemo on the 19th of July and I will start getting my calendar assignments for the transplant around then. The pre-harvest and harvest procedures sounded pretty invasive in terms of my actual ability to not feel awful, so I asked if I should really consider not going into work during that time period. Dr. Valent told me that he wouldn't advise working and his nurse, Janice, said I probably wouldn't have time because of the way things would need to be scheduled during those days. OK-- just let me know what you need me to do and I'll be there.

Anyhow, anyhow, anyhow... the isolation floor is pretty much like a bare bones hotel. This is what I'm told at any rate. Let's see if I can find a photo on the internet...

OK, yeah. Here you go--

Each patient room is a private room with a private bathroom. They encourage patients to have their spouses/partners to stay overnight with them if they are able just to make things seem more like home. They also said that I should bring everything that I could possibly want to make the environment my own whilst I am there.


I think this is going to go well. Yes, I get to lose my hair (hopefully not ALL of it... but just on my head-- 'cos people without eyelashes or eyebrows don't seem particularly complete and I need some hair to hide my physical shortcomings). Still, I will be in a place where my every medical need will be met, so I already feel safe and well looked-after. No worries here!

Oh, yes!! I got a pneumonia shot today. I guess I have to get a second one in the coming weeks. See? Already well looked-after!

Dr. Valent had absolutely no issues with my overall condition or health and indicated that I am in remarkably good shape physically and emotionally. He has no concerns whatsoever.

Before I left, I asked his nurse about alcohol consumption because-- there are some days a guy needs a drink! She said that I could have one drink a day if I had to have one every day (but I don't), so I can at least enjoy one glass of wine, a good beer or a Margarita when hanging out with friends. I made sure Lou heard someone say that this time around because he acted like I was living in a time bubble that was 1920. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

So that's me. That's it. Last week of the third cycle of chemo started today and then I have two weeks off 'cos of Celebration in Anaheim.

Current Location: Lakewood, OH
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: Star Wars Oxygen: The Music of John Williams VOL 16