Ice Storm, Yoopers, and Chemo

This morning we had to be at the Cancer Center at 9 a.m. for a 90 minute chemo session. I was afraid the roads would still be slippery from this weekend’s ice storm, but EJ drove skillfully, as always.

Michigan map
Michigan map

There is a gate at the entrance to the Cancer Center. We have to push a button on a speaker and say that we have an appointment at the Cancer Center and then the security guy raises the gate. JJ and I always laugh because whenever EJ speaks into the speaker at the gate, he suddenly speaks with a strong Yooper accent. “We’re here for da appointment at da Cancer Center, eh?” he says. Sometimes he says, “We’re here for da cancer thing, eh?” JJ always says, “Dad! Don’t say we are here for the cancer ‘thing.’ Say we are here for an appointment!” We go through this routine every time we go to the Cancer Center. LOL.

I probably should explain Yoopers and Yooper accents.

Michigan has two peninsulas–the Upper and the Lower–which are separated by the Mackinac Bridge. (“Mackinac” is pronounced “MackinAW”) The peninsulas are in the shapes of our hands, so we tend to use our hands as maps. Whenever anyone asks where we are from or where a certain city is located, we pull out our hands and point.

People from the Upper Peninsula call those of us in the Lower Peninsula “trolls” because we “live under the bridge,” like in the story The Three Billy Goats Gruff. The Upper Peninsula is called “the U.P.” Not the word “up” as in the opposite of “down” but the initials U and P. People who live in the U.P. are called “Yoopers,” which comes from U.P.ers. Say “UPers” fast and you have “Yoopers.” Yoopers have a distinctive way of talking. For example, they say “Say ya to da U.P. Eh!” or “We’re here for da appointment at da Cancer Center, eh?” You can hear a Yooper accent in the following video, as well as some Yooper humor:

I do not know why EJ has a Yooper accent since he is not from the U.P. It must be his Norwegian ancestry coming through. He said he had to work hard to overcome this accent, but he reverts back when he is stressed. The speaker at the gate stresses him. It always makes JJ and me laugh. I think EJ is adorable when he speaks Yooper.

The major topic of conversation at the Cancer Center today was whether or not a person lost power during the ice storm. The hospital is located in a city about an hour north of us, and they were harder hit. Many of the nurses and patients and families lost their power during the storm and still don’t have it. As we passed side streets, we could see branches and power lines down and streets blocked off with caution tape. Some of the street lights were off.

EJ and I looked at an on-line map showing which areas have no power, and the power outages reach to just about our village limits. We were and are really fortunate to still have our power.

At the Cancer Center we were put in our favorite room, Room 8. Toward the end of JJ’s chemo, we had roommates: A grandfather with his wife and their young grandson–maybe 3 years old. I was surprised that they’d bring such a young child with them. They told the nurse that day care was cancelled because of the weather, and the little boy’s parents asked them to babysit today. I wonder if the young parents had any idea how exhausting chemo could be?

Bear Hat
Bear Hat

The chemo session went well enough. JJ was given Benadryl along with Bleomycin, which always makes him sleep. He wore his bear hat for the first time for a bit before he fell asleep. He pretended to scowl while I took his picture, but he wasn’t seriously scowling. I think he thinks it’s hilarious too. I bought this hat for JJ because he made a bet with me and lost. He bet I’d faint during chemo class a few weeks ago and I didn’t. This hat is very cool. It has pockets in the paws.

Over the weekend JJ developed a sore throat from mouth sores. He said it felt like strep throat. We were faithful about having him gargle with warm water, salt, and baking soda every few hours all weekend and it did help some. However, the nurses always ask JJ if he has any problems, so I mentioned his mouth sores and sore throat and Kim, today’s nurse, said that she’d have the doctor examine him. The doctor said that he has an infection, so he gave us a prescription for an antibiotic.

We were on our way home when we got a call from the nurse telling us that JJ’s white blood cell count was very low, and JJ needed to return to the Cancer Center so he could have an injection. So back we went. As we waited in the waiting room for a second time, I learned over to JJ and whispered, “Well….we almost escape from the Cancer Center.”

We don’t have to be back again until next Monday. Monday will start another week of chemo every day.

On the way home we stopped for some food because JJ said he was STARVING and couldn’t wait. We also got his prescription filled. While EJ was in the store, I got a call from the computer repair place, which said that JJ’s laptop was fixed and ready to be picked up. Yay! JJ has been impatiently waiting for his computer to be fixed. But Bummer! The repair place is right next to the hospital, and if we had been called an hour before, or maybe less, we could have easily picked it up today. EJ will go pick it up tomorrow. We would have taken JJ so he could get his precious, but it’s best he stays away from people right now. EJ will also do some shopping for us while I stay home with JJ. Fortunately, tonight is EJ’s last night of work, and then he has until after the New Year off.

I thought I had forgotten my camera on the way to the Cancer Center, and was kicking myself because the scenery was so very beautiful. That I should forget my camera on such a day was beyond enduring. But at the Center I discovered it in my purse. Yay! I took pictures on the drive home, and on the way back to the Center, and on the way home again. Here are some pictures I took. They are all from the moving car. You can see trees bent from the weight of the ice, and broken branches, and also the beauty of the ice-coated world. The only thing more beautiful would have been if the sun had shown and turned the world into sparking glass.

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3 Comments on “Ice Storm, Yoopers, and Chemo

  1. You really captured what I am seeing outside. Glad JJ gets a few days off of chemo. Hope that his mouth heals quickly too

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  2. Such beautiful pictures Teri I’m just enjoying what I see. And so glad that you all have a week off from chemo and I do hope and pray that the antibiotics will work for JJ. And great that is computer will be okay again. Wishing you peace and quiet times enjoying simple things and having a change to rest. O and tell EJ I love the way he spreads when he is stressed:-) Loving you and praying (((((hugs))))

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