Chronicle of a Stem Cell Transplant (and on through to the other side)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sweet Home Montreal

So, here we are, nearly one month into this little adventure and slowly getting used to our new life in Montreal. Our new place is great, although Ian keeps going out on the patio in his housecoat late at night to curse the "partyers" down the road (though I've tried to tell him this is not especially cool). We finally have our phone and internet up and running, but we only have a few English tv channels (by choice) as there is just too much else to do here, and I was hoping that by watching the news in French, I would spontaneously become bilingual.

The first few weeks on the new drug, MGCD, have been mixed. The first week I had fairly severe stomach pain, but we attributed it, as did my new doctor, to the drug going straight to the disease and kicking some ass. Well, those weren't his words exactly, but you get the idea. The intestinal pain has since subsided, but has been replaced with some pretty major fatigue and mild nausea with a barf thrown in here and there for variety.

Still, we are very grateful that it has been manageable as my dear friend who started the drug at the same time here with me is having a very rough go and we are hoping she will be able to remain on the trial long enough to see if it works. The reality of what we are doing has certainly kicked in - that an incredible leap of faith is required to begin an experimental treatment. On the other hand, we wouldn't be here if we weren't confident in the ongoing results this drug has been acheiving in patients with similar circumstances as mine.

Despite all that has been going on and my frequent bouts of narcolepsy, we have managed to be out and about quite a bit. Last week, we hit "the best burger joint in town," La Paryse," with my new friend Heather and her boyfriend, where I enjoyed a delicious veggie burger - a nut pattie with apples, sauteed mushrooms, and a blue cheese dressing. So good. We also found a cozy neighborhood pub in the Latin Quarter (like our Granville...seedy, but full of popular pubs) where Ian was introduced to an artist (who claims Mother Theresa was a client?) who would like to paint some of his photography.

Last Friday, we wanted to go beyond where our legs could take us so we rented a car (a very hip, burgandy Buick) and headed north toward the Laurentians. I know I'm going to alienate my new Montreal friends by saying this, but the Laurentians are so cute, like little hills in training to become big, grown-up mountains some day. They even ski on them! I'm sure they get bigger the further north you go, but we settled on Saint-Sauveur and had an excellent lunch at a little wine bar with charming ambiance and a great waiter who was sympathetic to our not understanding most of the menu.

In sporting news, our ride with the "Rouge Blanc Bleu" was short-lived and we missed the opportunity to riot and get arrested.

Our next adventure will be Quebec City in a few weeks. We will probably take the train so we don't have to worry about parking and I want to see how we like train travel so we can decide if we want to go that way to NYC in a few months. We must get thee to MOMA and the Guggenheim! While there, I also want to investigate the "Earth Room," a 280,000 pound installation of dirt (yes, dirt), that has been in a building in the middle of NYC for more than 30 years. Apparently, it has to be protected as people throw things in it in outrage at the waste of public space. I think it is interesting, but I'm not sure why.

Speaking of dirt, or dirty, tomorrow is a full day at the hospital to have my weekly blood work and evaluations. The set-up here appears to be even more mickey mouse than at home, ie. last week we were at the hospital at 8:30 am for blood work and then sat for five hours in a packed (and stuffy) waiting room with at least 30 other people to see my doctor who apparently takes no heed of appointment times. If they make me wait that long again, I am going to strategically projectile vomit on the magazine rack. That should get things moving.