Saturday, February 25, 2017

Quebec City

Chateau Frontenac and Bill walking up to The Plains of Abraham

June 7th, in a rent-a-car this time, it was well after lunch when we left my cousins' home and even later before we departed the Montreal area because we wanted to scout out the Ciccihillitti's anniversary celebration venue and find accommodation nearby, for our last night before flying home. The latter proved to be a lengthy challenge because the night we required a room was on the weekend of the Grand Prix. Either there was no vacancy or rates had been raised significantly to capitalize on the influx of people for the event. We finally found a hotel, which met our criteria. 

Although it's less than a two hour drive from Longueuil to Sherbrooke when you leave the former at 4:30pm, need to find hotel for the night and then have dinner, it's too late to do anything but retire.

The following day we meandered through towns skirting the Eastern Townships. Their rolling hills and villages made a serious bid for our attention but we pressed on as we had only three nights at this adorable, 10-room, boutique hotel in Quebec City ... 

We were on the top floor in the room called L'inconnue

The Auberge de la Chouette is across the street from Esplanade Park. In winter the park is the site of the Winter Carnival's Ice Palace, more about that below.

Auberge de la Chouette  

Old Quebec City is incredibly enchanting with its quaint, European flavour ...

These steps lead to Rue Petit du Champlain 
Rue Petit du Champlain 
Quaint shops and cafes line the Rue Petit du Champlain
 Bill with the mural of Cap-Blanc

One of the troupe-l'oeil murals in the city, Cap Blanc depicts Quebec's working class waterfront neighbourhood, from the beginnings of New France to the present day ...

Cap Blanc mural
Port St. Louis
Port St. Louis is one of four surviving gates in the wall that surrounds most of Old Quebec  City. The British began refortifying the wall after they took Quebec City from the French in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. In 1985, the fortifications were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How unfortunate that the day we chose to tour Île d'Orléans was rainy for it is a most idyllic and charming place. Only 15 kilometres from Quebec City, access to the island is via a single bridge. The island has maintained is pastoral and historic character (you won't find any of the chain villains here) with more than 600 buildings classified or recognized as heritage property. The entire island was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990. 

Map of l'Île-d'Orléans showing the six village/parishes

We circumnavigated the island on the 67 kilometre long Chemin Royal and established that our favourite village was Saint-Jean ...

Part of this Saint-Jean house has a lovely antique shop 
Coffee time at Saint-Jean
Church at Saint-Jean

In Sainte-Famille things seemed more rustic, lay back and agricultural. Bill engaged this fellow who has considerably more antiques and collectables in his yard and buildings than is visible in this photograph ...

Domaine Steinbach, Cider House and orchards at Saint-Pierre
In Saint-Pentonelle the homes were the most lavish


Back on the mainland we drove east along the St. Lawrence River to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré where I could embrace my mother's Catholic roots.

The basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
Bill and the grand copper doors of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
Inside the basilica 

A little further up the road from the town of Beaupré we did a drive by of Mont Sainte-Anne, the highest ski area in eastern Canada. 

I'm sure the hill wasn't as developed as this in 1969 when the ski hill had been in operation for only three years


Here is where I go off on a tangent to tell you a little story. In 1969, both Bill and I attended the Quebec Winter Carnival but not together. We had just begun our courtship and both of us had made other plans. He and his pals attended the carnival as a side trip (safety day) from a ski vacation, at Mont Sainte-Anne, while Donna and I went specifically and exclusively for the carnival.

Bonhomme's Ice Palace 1969 (Bonhomme, a snowman, is the official ambassador/mascot of the carnival)
My travelling companion, Donna Polgrain, on the back steps of the accommodation she secured for us, February 1969
Yours truly in Old Quebec City, February 1969 

I selected this romantic hand-made print as a memento of both of our independent trips to Quebec City, in 1969, and of this trip. The birds apart, yet facing one another in a wintery scene, represent how we both saw Quebec City for the first time.

Embossed, aquatint, copper, etching by Paul Cloutier (no website)
titled Casse-cou translated it means Daredevil or Risky (???)


Before heading back to Quebec City, we made one last stop at Montmorency Falls. We were disenchanted to find that the falls are within a commercial park. To gain closer access to them you must pay admission. By the time we arrived the park was closed but I doubt we'd have paid $10 to park, $14 to ride the cable car, or use their zip line.

Montmorency Falls at 272 feet high is 98 feet higher than Niagara Falls

Naturally, the following day the weather was massively improved. We wandered Parks Canada's Governors Promenade, the vast boardwalk which connects the Dufferin Terrace to the Plains of Abraham. Due to construction we could not obtain access to the plains, so we wandered the old city instead, ultimately finding a great place to have gelato. 

Monument to the explorer and founder of Quebec City, Samuel de Champlain, and the Chateau Frontenac
Love the costumes of the staff at the Musee du Fort
We took the ferry across the St. Lawrence, to Lévis and back, just to view Quebec City from the water 

For our 'last supper' we chose the the Auberge Louis Herbert and because it was a lovely evening we sat on their terrace which provided all the amusement you could possibly want witnessing the activity on the bustling Grand-Allee.

Sangria before dinner. You've got to love our photo bombers!

I'm thinking Bill had the duck, but I was there for the seafood bouillabaisse

After dinner we strolled the now familiar streets enjoying the lights and savouring our last evening.

Port St. Louis

Chateau Frontenac

Sunday, February 5, 2017

One Third Through Chemo

January seemed exceptionally long this winter and yet the days melted into one another in an odd sort of blur. It was after chemo treatment four that my hair began to thin, slowly at first and then to the point of being annoying. I took Debie up on her offer to cut all my hair off, in the privacy of her home. Now the 1/4 inch stubble is falling out. I want to know when will the leg hair go? 

Gussied up for guests in Janice's wig January 27th

Having been down this road a couple of years ago, Janice has graciously loaned me her wig, its accompanying products and many head coverings. 

January 25th - vanity prevents me from showing you a photo of my shorn head

January 9th was a day to celebrate, that's when my bladder resumed full function. Oh joy, the self catheterizing was over! However, using antiseptic wipes, each time I voided for six weeks, created a chemical imbalance and an external, perineum yeast infection which had to be treated with an anti-fungal cream for two weeks.  


The day after treatment two I had a Power Port implanted just under my right collarbone. This eliminates repeated IVs in my hands or wrists and facilitates a speedier administration of the chemo drugs directly into my jugular vein.  

Power Port is installed January 6th at South Health Campus, Calgary

In my last medical blogpost I mentioned how the chemo drugs seemed to check the pain in my left hip, well that wasn't the case after all. I'm very fortunate in not suffering from any of the nasty side effects you hear other people enduring through chemotherapy. The great thorn in my life is the wretched pain of my left hip. I've been prescribed it all, first Percocet, then Oxycodone and lastly Lyrica but not even these scary drugs touched the pain, so I quit them all. I asked my GP and my Nurse Practitioner for cannabis oil but was denied by the former and discouraged by the latter. January 16th, at my monthly follow-up appointment with my surgeon/oncologist, I thought why not ask her? "Sure" she said "Go get yourself some." Well blow me down! She also approved a cortisone shot which our GP gave me on January 23rd. Other injections I've had over the years have worked well and lasted months. Sadly this one lasted less than two days. 

On February 28th, I have an appointment with Chinook Bone and Joint Clinic about a hip replacement but I simply can't imagine having that surgery this year. Counting on the waiting list being so long that it will be 2018 before I have to face that.  

Thanks Esme for coming out to treatment #3, January 12th

Now, desperate for pain relief, a friend passed along the name of the 420 Clinic in Calgary, for medicinal marijuana. We had an appointment with them January 26th. I required and secured a referral from our GP who oddly, and suddenly was prepared to offer me a synthetic form which I declined. The 420 Clinic selects a strain that is right for the individual and sends you to the doctor, they work with, who prescribes it. On February 3rd we had an appointment with Dr. Abounaja who agreed with 420's recommendations and faxed his prescription to them. With the prescription in place I promptly phoned 420 to get the account number I need to proceed in ordering directly from the provider (in Ontario) but being as it was late on a Friday afternoon they were gone for the day. It all seems rather convoluted but I rest assured knowing that what I will be getting is regulated and within the law. The strain I've been prescribed has less than 1% THC and 9% CBD. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana which I have no interest in. CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of many cannabinoids in marijuana which reduces inflammation and helps fight cancer cells. You see, in surgery, Dr. Glaze removed everything she could see that had cancer but she can't be sure about microscopic cells, doing what cells do, multiplying and dividing, hence the chemotherapy.  


A visit to a Naturopath on January 21st yielded helpful information and recommendations for an alkaline diet which is to help with the inflammation causing the pain in my hip. I responded rather too well to a high fibre diet. Diarrhea is the last thing someone with a colostomy needs. 

One of the side effects of both my chemo drugs is diarrhea. Neupogen injections (a man-made form of protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells) began on January 22 (the first of 40 I will have in all) also has a side effect of diarrhea. As I can't discontinue chemo or these shots I've opted to stop taking the magnesium supplement because it too promotes diarrhea. I've also adjusted my diet.


I'm still instantly affected by the Benadryl (which forestalls allergic reactions to the chemo drugs) that is administered at the beginning of treatments (along with Dexamethasone which prevents nausea) and doze my way through them. God love Bill for sitting by my side throughout. 

I'd be lying if I say I never get down over all of this but at my core I'm a strong, relentless person. I keep telling myself to buck up and bear it. To remember that at the end of it all I've requested perfect health please. 

It's every bit as hard on Bill as it is on me and so your continued support, kind words, visits, food and love are an enormous boost to our morale. Thanks for continuing to stick with us.    

Treatment #6 February 2nd, 2017