Test results!

Hi everyone! Oh dear, I’ve been gone for quite some time, haven’t I? Life really does get in the way of plans sometimes.

In this period, in addition to being super busy with a million other things, I’ve been focusing on getting my arthritic knee in shape. There’s no going back to the knee I had in my 20s, of course, but I can try at least to stop it from getting worse, mainly with physiotherapy. Okay, but enough about my knee….that’s not the reason I’ve written this post…

Today I have some good news that I’d like to share with you… 😛 

Here’s the news: I just received my most recent blood and urine tests, which are about the same as my previous ones. Some numbers have actually improved, such as my C-reactive protein, which is now within the normal range. In sum, no huge changes compared to previous tests, which means that I’m (still) stable. Relief!

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well…Again, I apologise for being absent on the blog, but my knee is an everyday issue (oh no, no no no!, here she goes on about her knee again… 😉 ).

Speaking of my knee (agggghhhh!), Stefano and I are about to go on an anti-inflammatory diet with the help of a nutritionist…I do hope that this diet will help (it should)…In fact, I wonder if it might help improve my MM markers, too…Hmmm, that would indeed be an added bonus.

And, in case you’re wondering, I’m still taking my high dose of curcumin every day (divided into two doses — half at lunch, half at dinner), to which I’ve now added some boswellia capsules. A recent Italian study showed that boswellia can lessen pain in the…ah yes, you guessed!…in the knee!!! Hehe. Besides, as we know, boswellia is also a MM cell killer, so it should work on both fronts, knee and MM. Too early to tell, though. We’ll have to wait for my next tests…

Okay, off I go. Today is a good day! Take care, everyone! Ciao!

Happy Holidays!

Hello everyone! Time is really flying…it’s Xmas, already??? How did that happen? Anyway, I just wanted to wish you all a very happy and healthful and peaceful holiday…

Just about an hour ago I read some interesting news on the curcumin front, positive news…unfortunately, I don’t have time to write about it now. But I will be looking into it, you can be sure of that…

In the meantime…

Buone Feste, Happy Holidays! Margaret 🙂

An update from TAB

TAB sent this (see below) as a comment to his older news post, but I decided to put it in a post so more readers will see it immediately. TAB, you are amaaaaazing! A big hug! Margaret. 😀 

Here’s his message:

TAB’s Update December 8, 2023
Alive and well at age 82 after dealing with MM (IgA Lambda) for 25 years. I have been off Velcade treatment for a year. I am feeling good with no symptoms. I am taking 6 grams of curcumin, resveratrol, vitamins C and D, selenium and a multivitamin. My blood work is good but M spike is rising. I will probably be going back on Velcade in February 2024 if the M spike keeps rising. My report is available if anyone is interested in a copy. tabbat841@outlook.com

Knee osteoarthritis and Pavarotta

Well, earlier this week we had to say goodbye to our eldest cat, Pavarotta. She was 19 years old.

Here, in brief, is what happened: last Monday, November 27, I heard a scary, very loud howl coming from the dining room, where the kitties have their water fountain. I got there in time to see Pavarotta fall on the floor and begin scrambling about, trying to get up. A few of our other cats came running and sat around her…I think they wanted to help. After hearing my reassuring voice (but I was freaking out, truth be told), she finally lay down and rested for about a half hour, then got up and seemed almost normal. She even ate some wet food. I called the vet hospital immediately but couldn’t get an appointment with our usual vet, and I didn’t want to take her in to see another vet. I made an appointment for the following morning. With our vet.

Our blue-eyed Pavarotta, recent photo

Pavarotta had another neurological issue in the late afternoon…same thing…but again, like the first “fit,” she rested, then got up and even ate some food. At 3 AM, though, another fit, the final one, I think, in retrospect. In the morning, she wasn’t really moving.

She was always such a feisty girl who hated to be picked up, but when Stefano lifted her and put her in the cat carrier, she didn’t move or make a sound. We knew that she wouldn’t be coming home with us…and she didn’t.

Ciao piccolina, ti voglio bene…I never thought I’d say this, but I really miss your ear-splitting howl for attention in the mornings when I go down to the kitchen…

Okay, I’d better change the subject…

Knee news. Ah yes. Well, I finally received a diagnosis for the pain I’ve had in my left knee since July. Yes, July. I didn’t have it checked out back then, because we were about to go on holiday, and I had a zillion things to do. But climbing all those castle stairs in Scotland became agonising for me. When we returned to Italy, I postponed going to the doctor mainly because I had pain only when I went up a flight of stairs, so it didn’t really have an impact on my regular routine. Plus, I was super busy at the time. But, about a month ago, I had had enough and decided to have some tests done.

The diagnosis arrived more than two weeks ago: knee osteoarthritis. That basically means that my knee joint cartilage is gone on one side, and the pain is caused by bone scraping on bone.

But it’s not all bad news: I went to see the surgeon who did my perfect hip replacement two years ago, and he said that even though I’m in stage 4 (and there is no stage 5), the damage is, put simply, on the left side of my knee (he used a more technical explanation, of course), which means I won’t need knee replacement surgery, not now, anyway. Phew!

However, there is no going back. The damage is done. But I can try to stop it from spreading, mainly with physiotherapy. Fine, let there be physiotherapy!!! And even though I haven’t had more than 5 sessions, I already have no pain going up our stairs. No pain. Amazing.

Anyway, unless the pain gets much worse, my surgeon said that I won’t need surgery for six years. Six years…not bad at all! However, I’m aiming for…never! We’ll see…

Okay, that’s about it for now. I hope everyone is doing well. Take care! Ciao!

AL Myeloma/ Cardiac Amyloidosis

A dear friend of mine, whom I met via the blog many years ago, has been dealing with an unusual and very serious condition for several months. She asked if she could post an appeal on the blog to see if anybody else has had a similar experience or can help her in any way. If you have any information that might be useful to Clare in this very difficult moment, please let me know, or leave a comment on this post. If you want your comment to remain private, I will definitely respect your wish and send it only to Clare.
Thank you very much.
Here is what she wrote:
I’ve had smouldering Myeloma for 13 years without treatment.
Over the past year and a half I have become more and more out of breath. I thought it was just Asthma.  I had an echocardiogram last March which looked normal. Suddenly, in July, my legs swelled up, and I felt even more out of breath and tired. My cardiologist is concluding that I must have Protein Amyloid deposits in my heart from the Myeloma. They couldn’t see any on  a heart MRI, however, so I have a heart biopsy coming up to be 100% sure.
I just wonder if anyone has AL Myeloma or any experience of Amyloids from Myeloma.
It would be great to hear from you.
Thank you.
Clare, UK


Hey there! This is going to be a kitty post…My cellphone is full of photos of my cats (though there are a million of ’em!), so today I thought I’d share some recent ones, since I have nothing much to report… Here goes! 🙂


Stefano and I spent a bit more than three weeks in Scotland in August, one of our longest holidays ever. What a fabulous trip…

We landed in Edinburgh on August 4th, the day The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo started. It was spectacular. My photo (left) doesn’t do it justice. Even though I’d watched a few videos of the Tattoo on YouTube before leaving for Scotland, I had no idea it would be so engaging…so exciting, even. We thoroughly enjoyed it, as clearly did the other spectators. Definitely one of the best times of my life!

Ring of Brodgar, a huge ceremonial site dating to the 3rd millennium BC

After that first weekend spent in Edinburgh, a city we both adore, we began our road trip. We drove up to Scrabster, located on the northern coast of Scotland, where, the following morning, we caught the ferry to Orkney.

Orkney…what can I say about Orkney? Its group of Neolithic monuments, which was proclaimed World Heritage Site in 1999 by the Unesco, with the name “Heart of Neolithic Orkney,” were absolutely fascinating: the Standing Stones of Stenness (which my automatic spell checker keeps changing to “Sterness” Stones… 😆 ), the Ring of Brodgar, and Skara Brae (Skara “Bread”??? Hahahaha, must admit that my spell checker does have a  sense of humor).

Skara Brae, the best preserved prehistoric village in Western Europe…older than the pyramids, even…! Check out the stone dresser and beds…quite amazing, eh? 5000 years old!

These three, plus the Maeshowe Chambered Cairn (which we didn’t manage to get tickets for), are among the most important Neolithic sites in Western Europe. How about that?

Another incredibly interesting site, where you can actually see archaeologists at work, is the Ness of Brodgar, a huge complex built 5000 years ago. When I was younger (40 or so years ago!), I wanted to become an archeologist, and I studied archeology (and anthropology) as an undergraduate, so the Ness of Brodgar dig was dear to my heart…

Marwick Head RSPB nature reserve

The day we arrived, the first thing we did was hike up to Marwick Head where, sigh, we didn’t see any puffins (too late in the season), but where we did manage to see young gannets testing their wings. They would fly out from their nests on the cliffs below us, turn around in a semicircle, and head back to the nest. Over and over again. Oh, and the fulmars, too. So much fun to watch. Too bad my photos didn’t turn out…

Yesnaby Castle sea stack, Orkney’s second most spectacular sea stack after the Old Man of Hoy…and what a lovely scenic coastal walk to get there, too.

Oh, and the views of the North Sea. From up there, we could see all the way to the Old Man of Hoy, the tallest sea stack in the UK (note: you get much much much closer views of this sea stack on the ferry from Scrabster to Stromness, but on a clear day you can see a tiny thingy in the distance from Marwick Head, too). Anyway, I could have sat on the Marwick cliffs for days…In fact, I would still love to be there. 😉 So relaxing.

So, yes, Orkney was wonderful, magical, but we did have to leave. After five days of exploring the island, we returned to the mainland and began our very slow descent towards Edinburgh.

As I always do when we are about to go on a trip, I had made a list of things not to be missed–castles, mainly. We prefer ruins, generally speaking, but we did see well-kept castles such as the Castle of Mey (the Castle of “Men,” says my spell checker…hahahaha!), where we got some amusing royal gossip from one of the friendly guides.

Nope, sorry, my lips are sealed. 😉

As interesting as the tour was, my favorite castle on this trip was not Mey. It’s hard to choose one in particular, but I have two very special mentions.

My first mention definitely goes to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, see photo on right, which actually consists of the ruins of two castles, one from the 15th century, the other from the 17th. It’s located on a rocky promontory and has small sea stacks all around it, as you can see (the ruins are in the back of the photo). Spectacular.

Tolquhon Castle

My second mention has to go to Tolquhon Castle whose tower dates to the 1400s. It is also said to be haunted, like many of the castles we visited, although we didn’t see any ghosts (now, wouldn’t THAT have been fun?). One of the photos I took (these are all from my cellphone, btw) does look like the face of a creature from another world, doesn’t it? Whoooooo! Lots of house martins flying around in the courtyard and rooms…Lovely little birds…

Okay, if you ask me about my favorite castle garden, well, that’s much much easier: the walled garden of 16th century Crathes Castle, no question. Lovely flowers and plants.

A close second for me was Castle Fraser where I was “attacked” by red admiral and peacock butterflies…Obviously, I’m kidding…it was truly a magical experience.

Red Admiral, Castle Fraser
Peacock butterfly, Crathes Castle

I’ve never seen so many butterflies, flying all around and above me, which reminded me a bit of the Hitchcock movie “The Birds,” but in a pleasant, peaceful way. Magic. If I begin posting photos of flowers and butterflies (took a million photos of both!), I’ll never get done… 😉

We also visited several stone circles, both on Orkney and on the mainland: Orkney’s Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness, of course, but, back on the mainland, also Loanhead, East Aquhorties, and a few others. I find stone circles fascinating in general but I have to admit, my all-time favorite (well, of the ones we’ve seen thus far, and we’ve visited maaaaany) is Avebury in southwest England. Orkney’s Stenness Stones are much much older than Avebury, but they didn’t have the same, almost magical and relaxing effect on me. No idea why that is, but there you go.

Pennan, with its beach of perfectly, or almost, round pebbles…

And then…oh I can’t even remember or begin to list how many lovely coastal towns we visited, with stunning views over the North Sea…Pennan, Cullen, Portsoy, Gardenstown and so many more.

Best name for a castle? Hehe, definitely  Findlater Castle, near Cullen. FindLater…Gotta love it!!! 😎

And the beaches on the North Sea…wow, what can I say? Oh dear, I have to stop reminiscing now. Time for dinner.

I hope everyone is doing well! Take care! See you soon! Ciao!

My Piccolo

Stefano likes to keep a note of anniversaries, birthdays, and other important events, but sometimes I would really prefer not to be reminded of certain dates. This morning, for example, as I was checking my phone calendar, which I share with Stefano, I saw that six years ago today we had Piccolo, our extraordinary and much beloved 14-year-old male cat, put to sleep.

It hit me…tears…grief…

No matter how much time goes by, it is still hard…

But no, I don’t want to remember the period around Piccolo’s death, or, even less, the terrible day he died, one of the worst in my life.  I want to remember him when he was well, happy, with us (almost all his life).

Piccolo…how funny and smart and loving he was (I have written a bunch of posts about him, incidentally). And sometimes I look at what one of our cats is doing and think “Hey, Piccolo used to do that,” and it really makes me smile. There is a bit of Piccolo in all of them, especially Pandora…

My Piccolo

Here is a photo of him…not a great one, but it will have to do…taken in the days before I got a decent cellphone, methinks…

I miss you, my sweet boy…you gave me so much joy…

I’ll focus on that today…amore mio.

Finally home!

Well, we (and our 8 cats!) actually moved back home a few weeks ago, but I have been so busy that my head has been spinning. Plus, big news: I have a cataract in my left eye, so I can’t stay at the computer for very long. Luckily, my normal routine hasn’t been affected, and I can still drive, but I will have to get the cataract removed in the autumn, for sure. No biggie (says the gal who had hip replacement surgery, hehe…btw, my new hip’s doing great!). It will get done…but first, we’re going on vacation! In about ten days or so…can’t wait.

Funny how time just flies by, as I mentioned in my June post. Is it because I’m in my early 60s (just had my 62nd birthday a few days ago, actually…and to think that years ago, after my diagnosis, I believed I’d never make it to 50…hah!)? I mean, does time go by faster as you get older? I’ll have to look that up. 😉

Puffin with sand eels, near the Isle of May, Scotland, June 2023

Anyway, I finally have access to my beloved computer…not that I have time to do any research now, except for research concerning our upcoming holiday (hehe), but this means that in September I should be writing more often–famous last words! 😆

Okay, so Stefano and I went to Scotland in early June. We spent most of our holiday in Anstruther, a small lovely coastal town in Fife, about an hour northeast of Edinburgh (where we also spent a few fantastic days…ahhh, I love Edinburgh!), yes, Anstruther where we took two boats trips to the Isle of May and Bass Rock to see puffins and also gannets and various other sea birds. Fabulous. It was one of our best holidays ever, and I can’t wait to go back next year. Such a treat…My cataract let me post only one photo, see above…

Anyway, guess where we’re going in August? Yes, that’s right…back to Scotland. 😉 But this time we’re heading north, to Orkney…and from there, driving back southeast-ish, slowly, we will be visiting castles, circles of stones, lovely coastal villages and so on. Oh, but first, the day we land in Edinburgh, we’re finally going to the Tattoo…we bought tickets months ago…Now that should be fun!

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing fine and dandy! Take care! I have to sign off now, or I will get a headache (cataract, uff!)…Ciao, Margaret


Hello! I have a bit of time before leaving for Scotland…yes, yes, yes, Stefano and I are officially on holiday today…off for a week to the coast of Scotland to see our beloved puffins and other fabulous sea birds, gannets in particular.

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting at all, but time is flying past me, and I am so busy with a million things that I just haven’t been able to sit down and write anything.

But…I’m fine, the rest of my tests were okay, just a wee bit of the Bence Jones protein in my urine, but that happened once before years ago, then it disappeared, so I’m not concerned. We’ll see what happens with my next tests. Creatinine, fine, by the way. Apart from the BJ, every thing else is pretty much stable, if not slightly better compared to my last tests. So, all is good over here.

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing really well. Oh, before I forget: I’ve received a bunch of queries, but I just haven’t been able to reply to anyone. I will try when we get back. Let me remind you that you can do a Search of my blog…

Take care, everyone…I hope I get some good photos of all those sea birds that are waiting for us! Ciao!