Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fun wit frens in da Caribbean

About a week ago, Brian and I got home from a trip to the Caribbean! I know, how exotic, right!? It was amazing, a world away from Seattle. My friend Jen from college and her husband Aaron got married in St. John and we stayed in St. Thomas (both in the US Virgin Islands). What a terrible obligation to attend a wedding in such an exotic location! Life is rough. It was truly beautiful. The weather was in the high 80s, maybe hotter. And muggy.

Our hotel/resort had a private beach and pools and spa, etc. It would have been easy to stay there the whole time and never see anything else. But we dragged ourselves away, rented an open air jeep, and cruised around to check out some other parts of the island. Charlotte Amalie is the major town in St. Thomas and was packed with shops, many that sold diamonds, perfume, electronics, etc. Apparently some items are quite a lot cheaper there, if you're into buying expensive diamonds and perfumes, that is. To me, they still seemed expensive. I bought a beautiful rose quartz necklace for $60 which was plenty expensive for me!

They speak English in St. Thomas, but we also heard some Creole! I didn't even realize that was still spoken anywhere. The English sounds pretty Caribbean, too, kind of like Jamaican for those of us who don't hear it very often. Apparently Virgin Islands Creole was formed when African slaves created a new English-based dialect with West African-derived words and sentence structure. It's strictly informal and constantly evolving and not recognized as an official language.

Anyway, the wedding itself was, of course, gorgeous. It was on the beach--but before I go any further, I have to say it was really unfortunate that many of us were literally eaten alive during the ceremony and suffered through more than a week of insufferable itchy bug bites. Mine just went away not too long ago and I still have hundreds of little purple-like scars to prove it. ANYWAY, aside from that, the ceremony was beautiful!! And so was the bride of course. It was a fun time and I am very happy for the newlyweds! This marks the end of a two-year wedding frenzy for us. In the past two years, we have been to nine weddings, including our own. I am looking forward now to hibernating in Seattle and enjoying some down-time.

Without further ado, here are some pictures from our trip!

View from our hotel

Downtown Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas

Beautiful wedding ceremony at Trunk Bay in St. John

Jodi and I getting much needed relief from the insane bugs

Long-time pals from college: Erica, Jen, and me

The boogie line

Oh my gosh, iguanas were EVERYWHERE!

Brian and I enjoying some good Caribbean food

Monday, November 17, 2008

A walk in the park, but not...

Um, hello. I've been busy these past few weeks. Too busy to write here apparently! So many things to write about, I don't even know where to start.

Let's start with my brother Steve. I haven't written about him in a long time. He is keeping his blog pretty updated, though he hasn't posted anything in the past few days. About three weeks ago he started what they call 'induction chemotherapy.' It is pretty harsh stuff but is supposed to reduce the number of abnormal cells, giving him better chances of a successful transplant. So he spent several days in the hospital and then proceeded to feel like total crap. Mouth sores, incontinence, nausea, you name it. I wrote a little guest post for him when he wasn't feeling very well.

After a few days, he went home and started to feel better and better. Then about a week ago he was admitted to the hospital for an infection, liver problems, and jaundice. Then went home. Then went in again last night because he had a fever (possibly another infection). But his fever went down right away and I think he is going to be released to go back home tomorrow. It's a bit of a rollercoaster.

I know he is disappointed because being admitted over and over again to the hospital feels like setbacks, especially when he had been feeling so much better. But apparently this is not unusual. When your resistance is that low, you can get an infection quicker than you can say "chemotherapy." I am bummed that I haven't seen him in about two weeks or so. We were out of town for awhile and traveling on airplanes, so we didn't want to pass on any unknown germs. Then sure enough, the day after we got home I came down with a nasty cold which I've been fighting for five days now and I think I'm finally at the end of it. So I'm glad I didn't see him right when we got home because I could've passed on a nasty germ.

So after he recovers from this particularly intensive chemotherapy (not like the 'lighter' ones he had before) in a couple more weeks, I think they are planning to start the transplant process possibly in early December. First they start with lots and lots of testing. Then they do total irradiation to wipe out his existing marrow. According to his doctor, this last round of chemotherapy he just had is a "walk in the park" compared to what the irradiation will be like. (That makes me wince...) Then he'll recover from the irradiation, and then finally he will have the bone marrow transplant. Or, more accurately, a stem cell transplant. Stem cells are extracted from the donor's bone marrow and will then be injected into Steve's marrow and will replicate themselves.

One thing you can do is support Steve is to support his friend Nic, who is running 13 races in 12 weeks to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Please consider donating to this great cause! Check out the website here:

Thanks for listening. I'll write more about the many other things in the coming weeks...