The Kiss

Today I thought I’d post a cute, well, okay, a TOTALLY ADORABLE photo of two of my cats “kissing” each other. It happened a few evenings ago, while Stefano and I were preparing dinner in the kitchen.

Our two baby girls, Pandora on the left, Pixie on the right, were perched on the dining room table, watching us…They looked so cute that I stopped what I was doing, picked up my cell phone and began taking photos of them and, therefore, by pure chance, caught this gesture of affection, too…

A sweet, carefree moment at a time when there is not much to smile about.

#IoRestoACasa!!!

Vitamin D and coronavirus

I’ve been cautious, very cautious, about writing a post on supplements that might help reduce the risk of being infected with Covid-19, for what I think are obvious reasons!, but this morning I came across an interesting new study by the University of Turin showing that hospitalized coronavirus patients here in Italy have very low levels of vitamin D.

Low levels of vitamin D might also explain why the virus has been killing mostly elderly people here in Italy…

At any rate, this news just got released, so I couldn’t find any articles in English, unfortunately, but you can use Google Translate, if needed. Here’s the link to the article (one of many, but all in Italian, different newspapers): https://torino.repubblica.it/cronaca/2020/03/26/news/coronavirus_studio_dell_universita_di_torino_assumere_piu_vitamina_d_per_ridurre_il_rischio_di_contagio-252369086/?fbclid=IwAR0Vya1oRADjlHUYT6iN2tGecrvbMHmIlf8r5fvN_fpWNMQcyvpDyEYnNuA

Taking vitamin D is NOT being suggested as a cure, of course, but it might reduce the risk factors for contagion. That’s good enough for me!

As we know (or should know!), healthy vitamin D levels are important for myeloma folks, too, so taking it can only be beneficial to us…in the recommended doses, of course.

Well, this is a bit of useful news (at least, let us hope so!). I’m going downstairs to swallow a dose of vitamin D right now…

“Nessun dorma”

An Italian tenor, Maurizio Marchini, who lives in Florence, joined the nationwide flash mob a few days ago. Standing on his terrace, he sang “Nessun Dorma,” from the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot.

So beautiful and inspiring…

Nessun Dorma means “Let no one sleep.” And, of course, we all know that the famous cry “Vincerò” means “I will be victorious.”

A very apt choice for these terrible times…

Virtual museum tours

If you’re at home right now because of the (necessary!) quarantine and don’t know what to do with yourself, why not take a virtual tour of 12 famous museums, including the Uffizi Gallery in Florence?

I’ve never been to the Guggenheim in NYC, so I’ll take its tour later on today. First, I have to have my daily chat/update with my neighbors to make sure they’re all okay. We chat from our terraces, of course. Then I have to put in a grocery order from a lovely little shop just down the street from us…It carries only local produce, mostly organic. This little shop has saved us in this difficult period. Then, after cleaning the cat litter boxes, I’ll be ready for a museum… 😉 

Here’s the link that will give us a moment of “escape” from Covid-19: https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/travel-trivia/stuck-at-home-these-12-famous-museums-offer-virtual-tours-you-can-take-on-your-couch-video/ar-BB119nm6

Enjoy!!!

Italy reacting to Covid-19

Italians have shown the world how to react to a quarantine and lockdown imposed by the spread of Covid-19.  Singing, clapping, dancing, and playing instruments from their balconies and terraces. This has been happening all over Italy, a sort of country-wide flash mob. For days now. Spain has picked up the message and is doing the same. It’s a way to feel united and also to help those who are alone and finding it difficult to stay indoors.

I have watched a lot of videos showing these impromptu Italian flash mobs–you can find heaps of them on YouTube–but the one that brought tears to my eyes towards the end (you will see why) is this one, prepared by Sanità Informazione, a healthcare-based newspaper.

This is instead a rather slick video on the notes of Italy’s national anthem, but it shows one of the prettiest towns on the Amalfi Coast, Positano, and I posted it mainly for that reason, to show how beautiful Italy is…

The flash mobs are happening in my neighborhood here in Florence, too. The other day, e.g., at the appointed Flash Mob time, I was out on my terrace, joining my neighbors in applauding and cheering the amazing, tireless work that our healthcare workers have been doing since this Covid-19 crisis began.

Italy has responded with determination and unity and, as one foreign journalist wrote recently, “This is why so many people through many centuries fall in love with Italy.”

Indeed. I am certainly madly in love with this country, and there is absolutely no other place I’d rather be right now.

As the current slogan goes, “Andrà tutto bene,” or “Tutto andrà bene,” which means: “Everything is going to be okay.” Children have been painting these words and drawing rainbows on signs and sheets that now are displayed on balconies in every city and town in Italy. I got this photo from the Internet, btw.

It’s a sign of hope…

Covid-19

I have received messages from concerned blog readers, asking me if I’m okay. Today I’m posting just a quick note to say that, yes, I’m fine, as is my family.

I’m staying at home, and in fact I have stayed at home since the first few coronavirus cases appeared in Italy, therefore before the government reached the brave and difficult decision to impose a total lockdown here…

With a compromised immune system, you can’t take any chances…

But I have to go now. I am in the middle of my “spring” cleaning (the cats are exhausted from watching me zip around the house, cleaning and throwing stuff away, as you can see, hehe…).

I’ll be in touch soon!

Keep safe, everyone…and, mainly, wash your hands!!!

“Use of curcumin in multiple myeloma patients intolerant of steroid therapy”

A few days ago, Dr. Terry Golombick of the Department of Endocrinology, St George Hospital, Sydney, Australia, sent me the link ( http://bit.ly/2VwqWf1 ) to her team’s most recent clinical case report, in which they tested curcumin on myeloma patients who were no longer able to tolerate the prolonged use of dexamethasone due to its adverse side effects, such as “fatigue, weight gain, fluid retention, poor impact on mental health, osteoporosis and hyperglycemia, or poor diabetic control.”

This new study selected 15 patients, ranging in age from 57 to 86, who were either taking immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs) or proteasome inhibitors (PIs) in addition to the dexamethasone. They replaced Dex with a daily dose of 3-4 grams of curcumin (about half of what I take, btw).

Of the 15, three died during the study period…not because of the curcumin, obviously, but because they weren’t doing very well, unfortunately (you can read the details in the paragraph located above “4. Discussion and Conclusion”).

The other 12 patients, however, are stable and doing well, in spite of the fact that some have high-risk cytogenetic and FISH abnormalities.

The combination of curcumin and the other conventional drugs reduced their paraprotein levels by 38%, and plasmacytosis by 59%. How about that?

Anyway, it’s not a difficult read, methinks, so please have a look at the above link…

Thank you, Dr. Golombick! I am so grateful to you and your team for all your tireless work. You give us hope!!! :-) Thank You Thank You Thank You!!!

We need MORE studies like this one! Not 10 years from now…but…NOW!!!!!!!!!! 

Quick update

Well, quite a lot has happened since I wrote my post on the loss of our Priscilla.

A few days after her death, Stefano came home complaining of a sore throat, which soon turned into a full-blown case of bronchitis: more proof, to me anyway!, of a close association between stress (and, in this case, probably grief as well) and a lowering of the immune defenses.

Anyway, we tried to be careful, but to no avail: on top of everything else, I caught his bronchitis and was sick (againnnnnn!) for about two weeks. This happened in mid January or thereabouts. So, all in all, I was sick/convalescent/sick/convalescent for more than a month. Agh! Ridikkulus!

But now I’m fine…fully recovered.

The horrible month of January 2020 ended with another death: my mother-in-law…This didn’t come as a complete surprise, since she’d been doing poorly for some time, but still, on top of everything else…it wasn’t easy.

But, as an upcoming post will show, things seem to be slowly getting better. As I mentioned, I’m fully recovered, and…well, okay, here’s a sneak preview of that above-mentioned post: Stefano and I spent a lovely long weekend in Paris recently. 🙂

We were lucky and managed to return to Florence right before Italy was hit by the coronavirus “hurricane.” Speaking of which, even though I think that the COVID-19 outbreak has generated a bit too much mass hysteria (in Florence, e.g., where thus far there have been only a couple of confirmed cases, people have been emptying supermarket shelves, and so on…), I have to admit that I’d really hate to catch that blasted virus because of my probably-still-weakened condition. So I’m being very cautious…trying to stay at home as much as possible…No hugs, no kisses…washing hands all the time, etc.

Ah, before I go: tomorrow I’m going to publish a post about a new curcumin-myeloma patient study!!! 🙂

Take care, everyone! 🙂

Priscilla

Well, it’s been a really rough three weeks. The first thing that happened was on January 1, no kidding, when I came down with a case of the flu (much worse than the before-Xmas flu). It’s going around. A lot of people are sick with this thing. Anyway, it hit me with a very high fever and huge gastrointestinal issues. Terrible. Plus, one night, delirious with fever, I fell against the bathroom wall and injured my wrist. Ouch.

Because my wrist was all swollen and hurt like the dickens, and I feared it might be fractured, Stefano took me to the emergency room at Florence’s university hospital, Careggi. We spent 13 hours there. They checked me out thoroughly, not just my wrist, but everything, from head to toe.

Result: I had pneumonia, but luckily my wrist wasn’t broken. No fractures, nothing. Just a bad trauma. So they put a sort of splint (which was partly a cast, too) on my arm for a week, and now that the cast is off, I have to wear a brace for another 10 days or so. My wrist will be fine. Oh, and my pneumonia is gone, but I still have to be careful…so I’m convalescent, well, I’ve actually been convalescent for more than a week now.

So things are getting better for me, physically, I mean, and in fact I can finally use my left hand to type a little bit.

But something simply awful happened on Friday morning. I found Priscilla, our 14.5 year old cat, lying on the bathroom floor, panting, not moving at all. She didn’t respond to my voice, as she usually does. Scared the heck out of me. Here I was, with a brace on my arm, unable to do anything for her…pick her up, etc.

I called my cat sitter who came over and drove us to the vet clinic.

In a nutshell, after a whole bunch of tests were done on Priscilla, we found out that she had advanced heart failure and that her chest was full of pleural fluid, which the vets aspirated, well, most of it. The prognosis wasn’t good, of course. But the vets said that if she responded to treatment, she could come home with us…as early as today, Monday, yes. So we left her at the clinic. We really didn’t have a choice, since we believed that she would get strong enough to come home…

Knowing what I know now, I wish now that we’d just brought her home on Saturday.

Yesterday, early Sunday evening, that is, Stefano and I were preparing to go see her at the clinic, at the regular visiting times, when we got an urgent call from the clinic. Priscilla had gotten much worse, and we were told that she was on her way out.

We rushed over to the clinic, but we arrived too late. She had passed away just a few minutes before we got there.

We didn’t have a chance to hold our sweet kitty and say goodbye, and let her know that we were there and loved her. And that’s what’s killing me right now…and Stefano, too, of course.

It just went so fast. Too fast. We weren’t prepared at all for this. She was here with us on Friday…and gone yesterday.

We’re devastated. Absolutely shattered. We now need time to mourn…we need time…Oh, this is so hard. I just wanted to let you know that I probably won’t be here on the blog or FB anytime soon. Sorry about that. I’ll be okay, but, as I said, I need some time…

Now I need to stop typing because my wrist is bugging me.

Take care, everyone. I’ll be back as soon as I feel better. Ciao!!!

Buone Feste! Happy Holidays!

Well, this year I have to admit that I don’t have much in the way of a festive spirit, which is very unusual for me. I have always loved the Xmas holidays, decorating the house, making cookies, etc.

Not this year.

There are several reasons why I’ve been down and out about the holidays. One is that Stefano and I were supposed to be in Prague right now, lovely Prague with its glittering streets and Xmas markets…but instead we’re still here, in Florence. We had to cancel our trip to Prague because I came down with a rather nasty case of the flu (high fever, etc.) on the eve of our departure.

Of course, now I’m fine… 😉

Typical.

That’s not the main reason I’m all down and out, just one of the many. But I can’t talk here about the other ones (which have nothing to do with me or my health, or with Stefano, mind you!). Suffice it to say that this hasn’t been a brilliant period…not at all. I keep getting bad news about people who are close to me…And I’m sure all that accumulated stress contributed to my finally giving in to a stupid case of the flu. Ahhhh, stress…How sneaky it can be…

Anyway, we’re trying our best to put together a nice little Xmas just for the two of us. Stefano is in the kitchen right now, cooking up a storm. Yesterday he made a huge pot of broth (his broth is legendary…) and other yummies. Today he’s making a huge meat sauce. I made a fantastic cake. So one thing is for sure: we won’t die of hunger! 😉

The day after Xmas we may drive to northern Italy. Or we’ll stay here at home, watch Xmas movies and get some rest. We’ll see what we feel like doing. The important thing is to be together…

Anyway, sorry for not being my usual optimistic cheery self, but I’ll get over it. 2020 is around the corner, and this dastardly period of bad (and very bad) news just has to end. Enough is enough!

So, with that in mind, I hope you are all having a wonderful restful and fun holiday period…

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, everyone! 🙂

A FEW HOURS LATER: Okay, okay, OKAY! I am MUCH more in the holiday spirit now. We decided to go on a short trip with my brother-in-law and his family day after tomorrow. Yes, some fun is back in the holidays again. I’m almost back to my old festive self now, hehe.

Love and happiness to everyone! 😎