Monthly Archives: September 2010

Stockholm: other angles

Open to interpretation

A day in the swedish countryside

Stockholm and Uppsala: out and about

Around Stockholm


Quick, quick post just to say god morgan (good morning) from Sweden. After almost a full day of travel employing a wide variety of modes of transport (car, bus, airplane(s) and a taxi), August and I arrived at our first stop in Stockholm; STF Fridhemsplan. Our flight out of Boston was a redeye, but we had time to enjoy a delicious meal at the Legal C in the international terminal in Logan prior to departure. Good thing, as the in flight dinner was never served. Our flight plan coincided with the path of a tropical storm (Ivan?) and so was quite turbulent for a sustained period. I actually found the rather gentle jolting soothing, and slept soundly for a couple of hours.

We had to change planes at Heathrow, which ended up being a huge hassle. Extremely poor signage, not one but two passes through security (where I had to justify my second quart baggie of liquid meds–alubuterol and such) and after going to the wrong terminal, a rather mad dash to the correct one.

When we finally deplaned in Arlanda, the order and serenity of the Swedish airport was a breath of fresh air. After checking in at our hostel (we are working our way up the food chain accommodation wise), we took a stroll around and ended having a great dinner out.

Yesterday August was feeling a bit under the weather, but a trooper nonetheless. As it was a beautiful sunny day we spent most of it walking around the center of Stockholm.

We are checking out of this lovely hostel (which bears no resemblance to the six dollar a night hostels I frequented throughout Europe in the 1970’s) this morning and after stowing our luggage in a locker at Central Station, we shall walk across the bridge to Gamla Stan. Tonight we shall have dinner at the home of some Swedish friends; tomorrow I hope to travel to Uppsala.

Herding snakes

Buddy and I just got back from a walk. On both the way down and the way up the hill, I had to shoo a snake from his basking spot in the middle of the road. I understood perfectly well his desire to soak in the sunshine, as the air possesses the crispness of fall today. However, it wasn’t a safe place for a sleepy snake to lie, so I herded him back to the tall grass. Buddy desperately wanted to help, but I kept him on a short leash, as it would not have ended well for either dog or snake.

I’m nursing a  bit of a stomachache today. Over the past few months, it would seem that I experience what I assume to be side effects from the crizotinib with greater frequency. Beginning in the early spring, I would have perhaps one day a month where I’d have a headache accompanied by nausea for an hour or two. Gradually the duration and intensity of these spells grew longer. Now it can happen two or three times a month; last for twenty four hours or more, and might be accompanied by spasmodic cramping in my calves.

I have to wonder if there is a correlation between the side effects and the fact that the I am becoming resistant to the crizotinib. This is merely speculation on my part (conjecture for which I am woefully under-qualified), but if the drug is either being blocked or somehow no longer completely engaged; perhaps there is potential for more noticeable effects on surrounding cells. If you fire a bullet and it enters the target, you can assume that most of the damage is to the target itself. However, if the target repels the bullet, it still has to go somewhere.

I had my monthly appointment at the hospital last Tuesday. Another potential side effect of crizotinb is a slower heart rate. When I began the trial I was taking 60 mg of propanolol (a beta blocker) daily to control a benign essential tremor. Within the first few weeks my heart rate had slowed significantly and I had to go down to 40 mg. On Tuesday my pulse was hovering around 50; which was somewhat slower than usual, so I earned myself an EKG. That meant a longer day, but I also scored a bed, lunch (oh hospital food!) and a short acupuncture session from Irene. I also had more time to chat and catch up with my favorite nurses; all in all, not a bad way to spend a Tuesday. The EKG was normal, but we lowered my dose of propanolol to 20 mg as a precaution.

Linnea and Sadie pretending to be figureheads on a schooner

I had my annual appointment with the dermatologist scheduled on Thursday, so rather than drive back to New Hampshire, I headed to Sadie’s home in Newburyport. We had a delightful 36 hour spree of talking, trivia games at the local pub (our team came in second), and lots of walking on the beach. Sadie and I also saw a movie, the absolutely amazing I am Love. I cannot recommend it enough; it moved me as perhaps no movie ever has. Make certain to stay through the credits.

My feet: firmly planted on the ground, one in front of the other, dusted with sand.

The following morning, Sadie awakened me just before dawn and we hurried to the beach to watch the sunrise. There were already several people gathered; mostly solitary women sitting on individual blankets, and I realized this must be a ritual of sorts. Off to our right a larger group was assembled in a circle for what we assumed to be a memorial. As the sun came over the horizon, they each tossed an object into the sea and then they broke into song. Between that and the movie the night before, I felt absolutely raw (but in a good way) with emotion. It was a truly spectacular experience.

And then we capped it all by driving to an isolated section of the beach where Sadie took some photos of me in the early morning light. I am (yes) dressed only in my skivvies, and in my favorites I am crouching down, the rising sun to my back, drawing in the sand. My stance resembles a shore bird, my face is alive with joy and wonder. I am in my element; another day just born.