Category: Travel

Funny things that happened on trips to nowhere in Particular. In considering the number of experiences may have been consolidated into one or more particular trip. (I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times, let’s guess 15 to 20 times)

Mr Fuller, this is as good as you are gonna get….

Last week, after my latest CT Scan,  I asked the doctor about a slightly itchy rash on my elbow and also on the back of my neck.  His  answer was pretty direct as he said, it’s not gonna get any better Harry. This Keytruda trial is working now, and as long it does great. When, or if, you stop responding to the Keytruda, your only other option is likely chemotherapy.  (ie.  stop the Keytruda, kiss your ass goodbye!)  In other words, the Keytruda trial therapy will continue every 21 days for the remainder of your life, period.

Besides the life sentence to inject this stuff forever, it was a pretty good scan result this time. Tumors in my lungs are continuing to shrink in both lungs and my kidneys.

So as I’ve always said, it’s all good until it isn’t.  Gotta keep a positive attitude here and thank God, and everyone praying for me.  So my reality is that I’m now closing in still on being alive nearly two years after the six month prediction of my demise.  (death)

Concerning the itchy rash on my arm and neck, I’ll take the rash.   The only downside is, according to Mick Jagger,  It’s gonna take an ocean of calamine lotion, but I’ll take that!

Morale of this story:  It is all good, until it isn’t.  Enjoy your day, keep your blind faith and live your life as if it might end tomorrow.

All in all a pretty good prognosis with continued therapy every three weeks or so. Headed back to Las Vegas in a week or so, then a short trip to Washington DC.

Then in an effort to my prove my theory that it’s all good until it isn’t,  While it’s still good I’m soon off to the races, so to speak.

I picked up a couple of round-trip tickets to London🇬🇧and figure I can randomly jump around Europe for a few weeks.  Those who know me also know I am somewhat OCD when it comes to creating an agenda of when, where and how I might enjoy everyday to a maximum return of fun.  (ROF)

Also think I’m going live a little like Tom Petty’s song, Time to move on, time to get going, what lays ahead I have no way of knowing.

Not really sure of what lays ahead here so I booked a ticket from London to Athens🇬🇷,  then to Rome🇮🇹 and then a nice stay on the Greek Island of Santorini.   After a little serious chillin like a villan,  a few nights in Amsterdam🇳🇱 then back to my sweet home Chicago and on to Las Vegas.  If anybody has a tip for excellent cuisine along the way please drop me a note!

I’m packing light, a backpack, a Nikon and an American Express card.  I am fairly certain my wife will enjoy shopping at the massive Harrods with its 330 plus departments and over one million feet of shopping fun,  only a short jaunt from our hotel.  Our other main stop(s) will be at a few of the over 330 Fuller Brewery Pubs around southern England.  I’m feeling a jacket, t-shirt who knows.

Watch for this blog to turn into a travel blog for a while, frankly I’m a little tired of thinking about cancer, the related cancer treatment industrial complex and my next CT scan.  Ready for a relaxed few weeks of exploring, and eating!

On a sad note more than a few good friends have recently lost loved ones to this thing classified as cancer.  Every time I hear of someone passing on it’s hard to have a little anxiety concerning my own destiny .  I attempt to control this anxiety with faith and an expectation of improving health. 

No matter how much anxiety I experience in this life,  a  faith in God and the holy spirit will ease your pain.  Faith does work for me and that might be the best thing that’s come out of my stage 4 bladder cancer.  

So stay tuned and stick around for some fun, for a change!  Time for a little european vacation.  I’m sure it will also result in some great pictures of the sites and of course food.  Happy Trails my friends, until we meet again.

Take a minute
Do what needs to be done….

Miracle of life, start thinking you are invincible? Think! Death can be around every corner.

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A recent trip to Cabo San Lucas found Barbie and myself enjoying four nights in a paradise!  Gourmet food, infinity pools, a luxury hotel suite overlooking the crashing Pacific surf.  Life felt great and we felt this trip was a reward for the blessings that had been bestowed on us.

The trip was a celebration of an initial six-week inhibitor treatment that had reduced the size of my cancerous tumors by over 50%!  To describe my wife and I as happy with the results of our prayers, new-found faith and hundreds of friends who had prayed for my successful treatment would be a gross understatement.  The results almost started me feeling like I had passed the hurdle of death for a little bit.  God was providing us with a life saving result of my cancer treatment.  Began to feel like superman.

We returned to Las Vegas for a few days and then headed back to Normal, Illinois to share our joys with friends and family.  I was feeling strong and better than good.  Stupidly, I was starting to feel invincible to this stage- 4 cancer.

After returning to Normal for a two-week visit, I went to sleep for my first nights sleep in our old comfortable bed.  As I sank into the comforter,  I felt the cool air-conditioning  all night blowing on myself and thought that this was nice compared to the 110 degree plus temps we had been used to in Vegas.  I woke up the next morning with a chill, slight temperature and my voice was  very hoarse.  To me, no big deal since I had slept under an a/c vent all night.  I then spent approximately four hours completing an anticipated legal deposition on Monday.  When I got back home Barbie insisted that we see a doctor immediately because of my elevated temperature.

Initially I ignored this and thought I had set the a/c a little too low; however, I was sure this symptom would shortly disappear.  Barbie immediately disagreed and reminded me that I had been losing my voice for a few days.  She also didn’t believe the air-conditioning draft was the problem. When she took my temperature she saw it was 102.  She then wanted me to go to the emergency room to check it out.  I informed her that I would likely get sick from being in the emergency room waiting area more than sleeping under a cooling  vent.  I even spoke with a physician who I convinced that I should wait until the next day at least.  I went to bed.  The next day,  by four o’clock I was becoming  progressively worse.  I finally agreed to go to the hospital.  To my surprise they immediately placed me in intensive care and started to monitor my condition closely,  after 10-hours they put me in a room.  I was slipping into septic shock, Barbie had been correct, should have went to hospital the night before!  I was feeling progressively worse.

When I woke in the hospital the next morning I commented that I felt like I was dying.  I had lost all appetite, had my temperatures fluctuating to 103, my blood pressure had dropped like a rock and I realized I had made over 20 trips to the bathroom the night before.    I was on two-iv delivered antibiotics and continued to feel worse.  The iv’s were not working and I was going into septic shock.  (I know realize over 50% of those who encounter septic shock die.)

After days of tests, while a few of the nurses considered this Montezuma’s revenge, an infectious disease physician, hospital doctor and my oncologist knew better.  I didn’t even realize what septic shock was or how serious it might be.  I did think if I could beat an aggressive cancer,  I sure could shake this Montezuma’s revenge!  Then my doctors stopped the two antibiotic drips and changed to a different antibiotic, within half an hour I started to respond; however, I had another rough night.  By the morning I was getting my appetite back and even commented how “good” the hospital food was!

I’m lucky for one thing, a wife who is watching out for my well-being.  Unlike me, Barbie listened to every doctor and nurse and sat with her phone googling every symptom.  Barbie’s actions saved my life.  My ignorance of the symptoms and my initial refusal to seek medical assistance nearly cost me my life.

After this colitis and an infection in my kidneys, I guess it was Montezuma’s revenge in it’s purest form.  Next day I walked out of the hospital, turned up temperature at home.  I felt great again and ready to continue this fight against cancer.

I do realize that my next full-body scan is early August and the third scan in October; however, I am pumped and have four things to be grateful for.

  •  Everyone’s prayers that I would qualify for a continued, successful experimental treatment along with God’s answer to these prayers. 
  • The remarkable research team at MDanderson Cancer Center in Houston who created a new drug that attacks bladder cancer and everywhere that it spreads.
  • More time to love this great life and those who are important to me.  I now consider that the most valuable part of my life.
  • A loving wife/partner who constantly watches for my best interests, both medically and spiritually.  (It’s sometimes a bitch to realize your wife might know more than you do!)

Here is a tip for all of you who have a loved one or friend suffering from late stage cancer, we do appreciate your prayer and the renewal of our faith; however, don’t tell us how sorry you are we have cancer.  Afterall,  you don’t have cancer, we do.

Another takeaway for myself, time to make my next adventure in the USA,  I hear Glacier National Park calling my name.

Don’t wait til tomorrow to enjoy your life and family.  I now realize that no one is guaranteed anything more than the day you have today.  Tell your children that their life is what they make it.  Illustrate your life as a guide to others, do what needs to be done.  You will be remembered by your actions, thoughts and words.  Time to be kind.  (Also time to drop the guy knows more than his wife attitude constantly.)  God Bless

 

 

 

Incidentally, the six weeks of treatment  cost $14,000.00 for each treatment.  (Times 6 equaled $84,000.00!)  Unfortunately these treatments had little effect on my aggressive bladder cancer which had spread  from my bladder, to both kidneys and to my lungs.  I could spend quite a while discussing the excessive costs of chemo, but that would be another blog for another time.

 

 

 

Amsterdam, funny sh*t

This particular trip included a first stop in Munich to pick up a BMW with my wife Barbie and my  sister in law Joanie Gabrielli.  Our journey included numerous small villages in Germany, Austria,  with a final destination of Amsterdam to get the vehicle loaded on a ship headed home.

After we dropped off the vehicle our happy trip headed to the epicenter of the sins of Amsterdam and also of arts, architecture, hookers,  dutch apple pancakes, cheese and incidentally Heineken and weed.  (My wife and her sister are avowed beer drinkers.  I myself lean towards the weed.)

Ater a quick check in at The Golden Tulip Babizon Palace, we began a day/evening walking tour thru central Amsterdam, the red light district and more than a few local pubs/ coffeehouses.  After hiking and  walking around central Amsterdam we stopped at a quaint coffee shop Stones Cafe, a very small friendly kind of place for a coffee, latte and some marijuana.

During the recap of our days travels the front door swung open and a very handsome, well built Slavic man walked up to the bar and stood next to Joanie.  Barbie and I made a comment to each other as watched to see Joanie up close in action.  Again this guy visually way at least a 9.5 on a scale to ten.  Thought maybe the hookup was on, but it was not to be.

As their conversation got started  Joanie proceeded to explain that she was missing her daughter Laura’s homecoming or prom experience and she wouldn’t even see her date to the affair.  After just a few sentences the guy abruptly interrupted Joanie and, The handsome man asked, ” with your daughters date, did you f*ck him?”  Joanie shot back, “excuse me I’m talking about my daughters date!”  She again proceeded to explain herself when the guy stopped her again ask her, “Did you bl*w him?”  Joanie said, emphatically, sir I’m talking about my daughters date!”

His answer was epic.  The handsome model-like man said, “Lady, if you didn’t f*ck him and you did not bl*w him, your story is just not interesting.”  He then spun on his heel and walked to a table on the other side of the very small coffeehouse.

Barbie, Joanie and I stood in silence for a minute and then I told Joanie, “he was right you know we are in Amsterdam and your story really wasn’t that interesting.”

To this date, in appropriate company and always with Joanie  I have often stopped boringly uninteresting stories with, “Did you f*ck him?  Did you bl*w him?”  Your story is not that interesting.  It has been used repeatedly around this small planet and then repeated by many who have heard it.  #Believe it!  Barbie also utilizes this little quip when  my story’ssdll

We all sat there and didn’t say a word, until my comment.  Joanie, your story wasn’t really that interesting!  I recall we all agreed and told to sharpen up her tavern talk.

The first time I visited Holland was with my oldest daughter April Rain (Fuller, Adams, LeFever) during  her ISU foreign exchange student experience  in Canterbury, England.

That first trip  turned into numerous journeys to Amsterdam over  nearly 20 years!  I’ve traveled alone, with friends and now with my wife and several different adult children.

I say go to Holland for the paintings/art, history, canal boats, Heineken, flower market, cheese and a few coffee houses along the way.  They are kinda like a Starbucks, only they have better coffee and weed.  More than a few more stories from Amsterdam, trying to figure out a way to share in a way appropriate for younger readers, aka my grandchildren.