Skip to main content

Big long post: Raccoons, cancer update, Rush concert

Man, this house. It's been a year now since we moved to our rancher in London, and it's been a never-ending series of calamities, puzzles, annoyances and expenses.

The story about the concrete steps that were poured last fall and proceeded to sink a foot will have to wait until another time -- we're laying the groundwork for a legal case against the contractor.

For now, let's stick with the frustrating but amusing story of the raccoons.

At the start of May, we took a shot at cleaning out the garage. We took it back to the walls.

The walls were filthy with animal smears. Footprints, body grease, and general gunk from years of having assorted wildlife come in through the unable-to-be-closed garage door.

Amanda wanted the walls torn down. I wanted to paint the walls. I liked having walls and was willing to do the painting, but not equipped nor motivated to tear down drywall, scoop out whatever was in there, and haul the debris somewhere. So, I painted. Looked great. I even vacuumed the floor.

I used the most expensive Kilz primer to block stains and stink. Looked great. Until later that night, I heard some rustling in the walls. A chipmunk, I thought.

Then, soon after, I encountered momma raccoon, taunting me, growling, hiding in the walls.

Of course, I didn't realize it was a momma raccoon until later. But soon we realized she had a baby or babies in the walls. Dammit.

Fast-forward two and a half months, after we tried blaring the radio, leaving the lights on, leaving stinky bags of kitty litter there, getting the front garage door replaced, trying to lock the mom out....

.... yeah, that didn't work. Mom raccoons are tenacious. This one chewed up the weatherstripping on the bottom of the brand new garage door. She didn't get in, but she did some damage.

Another weekend, we had her out, but she went to the roof and decided to try peeling our shingles off.

Enough. We got Bob from Bob's Wildlife Removal to come by. Take down the walls if you have to, Bob. Get these beasties out.

Bob chased the raccoon family into the soffits. No good. So, he laid a trap with an opened can of sardines. Days went by. No raccoon in the trap. Fed up, I put some cat food in there. Next morning, a pissed-off raccoon in a puddle of raccoon piss. Bob came by, took momma raccoon away, but couldn't find the babies. Told us to call him back when we could hear them making noise.

So, I did. He came by. Cut a couple of holes in the wall and pulled this guy out.

Awwww. Cute and squeaky. And GONE.

We're back to a raccoon-free garage. Now, if someone can point us to a cheap guy with a hazmat suit who can take out the walls, I'll consider it.

On to Amanda's health ....

The latest cancer scan had positive but underwhelming news. The past several scans have showed her tumours shrinking. This time, they came back stable. The docs didn't promise the tumours would shrink at all on the hormone-blocker she's been taking for the past year, but they did. The hope was that the drug would stabilize the cancer, and that's the result we have now.

Still, we've gone from an A+ to an A result, which can feel like a step back. I'm still taking it as a win, though it has Amanda wondering how much longer the current therapy will be effective, and dreading the next level of treatment, which will undoubtedly have worse side effects than what she's on.

Among the side effects have been fatigue, joint pain and weight gain. It was already tough for her to get around, and then her knee went all out of whack. Her kneecap began slipping out of place, with so much pain that the super-duper painkillers she was already on weren't even helping. So far, no easy solution to this, and she's hobbling around in agony all the time.

Amanda still struggles with the fact that she's still alive, but living a painfully deteriorated life:
So it's been a year since my life changed (again) and got completely turned upside down (again)... or maybe it was right side up? Last summer wasn't my last summer. This one could be, but I don't think so. I still don't have a grip on the reality of this news (it's amazing how the psychological damage of only 5 months of believing in and planning for your imminent death cannot be undone in 1 year) nor do I feel that I have really figured out how to "live" with this yet, but I'm trying. I still harbour enormous and intense anger toward the hospital and doctors whose series of mistakes and oversight led to me being given very wrong information about my health, which in turn led to me making huge life changing decisions, not to mention the psychological damage noted above. I'm having conversations with Gordon now (not deep ones, yet) and I'm halfway to my goal (i.e. 2 more years) of walking my little boy to his first day of kindergarten.
Even with the pain, Amanda has been working as hard as she can to finish the gardens around our property. She's built some gorgeous stretches of land out of what was originally a wall of neglected shrubbery. I hope we can share before-and-after pictures soon.

Hey, how about little Gordon?

He's getting bigger all the time, and is talking a lot. Seriously, in a matter of months, he went from being 'delayed' in his speech to hitting speech milestones well beyond his age. It just blew up, as we hoped it would.

Gordon continues to be a joyful, sensitive, bright and perfectly hilarious little boy. I'm totally digging being his daddy.

We continue to be blessed that he sleeps well, eats just about anything we feed him, loves to play, and has only limited outbursts of fury and crying. He's a great kid.

Oh, one last thing -- I took Amanda to see Rush, along with friends Sandra and Byron. Great show! From what I've heard, this will be the band's last big tour, and I'm glad we could make it.


  1. Glad the coons are gone ... even if it was cute. Fordon is as charming as ever - he is so cute. And I breathed a sigh (a very big one) of relief at the most recent outcome. Stable is okay. That could last for a long time. And then, there's prayer. She's got mine (you too).

  2. Hoping you all had a good rest of the summer! REALLY hoping for another update soon!! Although we don't know each other, I think of your family often!
    Heidi-fellow ovarian cancer survivor.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Gordon turns four and has questions

Gordon wanted to know where mommy went.

Not what happened to her body, but where SHE went.

We celebrated his fourth birthday this weekend with three gatherings. One at our house with his little friends. One at nana and grampa's house. One in Stratford with the Simpson clan.

The big party for the kids was a success. I'd never planned such an event. Thank goodness for the Internet, where I found a Martha Stewart article that laid out the basics. And thank goodness for Party City, which had a ton of Transformers party stuff ready to buy. I wasn't feeling well, but managed to pull it off. Thanks to sister Shannon and SIL Amy for being the Designated Adults who helped in wrangling and last-minute logistics. G thought the whole event was kind of loud, but he really enjoyed it. And I feel like a winner for making it happen -- some of the other parents even chimed in that they now know what goes into a kid's party, since they were as clueless as me! Great!

Great time at nana&#…

Things get much worse as tumours spread fast

Things crawl in the darkness
That imagination spins
Needles at your nerve ends
Crawl like spiders on your skin

Pounding in your temples
And a surge of adrenaline
Every muscle tense —
To fence
The enemy within - Rush, "The Enemy Within"
We don't know how or why, if there is a how or a why, but Amanda's cancer has woken up and is on the move, double-time. Things have become much worse in the time since the last update.

At that point, the docs had found a couple of spots on her ribs that were causing her pain. They zapped it with radiation to give her some relief.

Since then, things have progressed quickly.

Just after the hospital stay when they were trying to get Amanda's pain under control, docs found more bone metastases in her sacrum (large, triangular bone at the base of the spine) and iliac crest (the big wing-like bone on the pelvis where they harvest bone marrow). More radiation. This time, the radiation hasn't knocked the pain down.
Then she had headac…

The sweet smell of success (the opposite of that)

Let me lock in the system at warp 2 Push it into systematic overdrive - U know what 2 do - Ween, "Poop Ship Destroyer"
Pardon the juvenile humour off the top, but this journey has been so unreal that I can't help but fall back on laughing in the absence of appropriate things to say.

Amanda's headed for another big surgery this week.

Quick recap of how we got here: She went into hospital in late January to have her ovarian cancer tumours taken out. That surgery ended up taking a foot-long chunk of her colon, so they spliced what was left to her nature-given outlet. Well, that blew apart and she went for emergency colostomy surgery. THAT didn't work, either, as illustrated by our guiding light with the scalpel hand and the silver tongue, Dr. Sugimoto:

The business end of the remaining colon sloughed its way back into her insides and strictured itself off, creating a cul-de-sac with no escape for poop nor gas. They put her on TPN (full nutrition by IV) but let her …