Under the weather

The Invader – #11

Hey everybody! How y’all doin’? It’s been a minute and some things are happening so I guess it’s time for another health update from me.

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Because of the spread of the corona virus, I have been staying at home almost all the time – only out for doctor visits, walking the dogs and the occasional joyride in the car wearing my mask of course. The radio station has been automated for several weeks now so I cannot do my radio show either – I’m definitely missing that. I had a conversation with Studmuffin yesterday about just how long I’m prepared to stay at home. This discussion was difficult to have because he & I have been reading different things from different sources and I think also because he’s never been seriously ill. Please don’t get me wrong – he has been an absolute solid rock of support to me during this whole cancer thing! I do tend to minimize my discomfort to him, for why tell him? He cannot do anything to help and it will only distress him. So he doesn’t know just how bad I have been feeling and that’s OK I think. But as far as Covid-19 goes, he’s a lot less concerned about it than I am. Not only am I a Stage-4 cancer patient undergoing serious treatment but I am a diabetic as well. If I get the virus, it is likely – even with excellent health care – to be fatal for me. He doesn’t think so – he thinks I’m “tougher” than that, whatever that means.

I may be a tough cookie…but even cookies crumble!

Unlike me, he has not read the first hand accounts of those who have had the virus, or from front-line doctors and nurses as to how bad it really is.  Just by personal inclination, I have a greater interest in biology, life sciences and medicine than he does; yup, I’m a nerd who reads medical journals for FUN. Over the years, including the various medical problems I’ve had personally, I’ve acquired  perhaps a patchy but still somewhat greater understanding about immunology than he’s got, and I can point him in the direction of good information, but in my experience he won’t read any of it; he’s just not that interested. Fortunately, he’s not so far gone as to be advocating the cure of drinking bleach or Lysol! In short, I will be staying home and away from others most likely until there is a far greater understanding of this virus’s infection vectors and quite possibly until there’s a good vaccine.

Overall, life is pretty good because it’s spring.  Plenty of blooming things and pollen and birds and such. That always gives me a boost. I’ve really needed it because I’ve had a LOT of physical reaction to the liver microwaving and radiation treatment – pain, nausea and fatigue; basically the usual but it has been particularly intense since the microwaving. Generally speaking, I often have an unusual, personal reaction to drugs and procedures that the vast majority of people do not. Turns out, one of my aunts is the same way so I’m not even special! 🙂 So the duration of the nausea and pain is somewhat idiosyncratic but still on the outer edge of the range of normal.

Sick as a….frog

A bit of good news in that the “marker” in my blood which can indicate the presence or growth of “my kind” of cancer dropped significantly after the microwaving. The marker value isn’t yet close to the normal range, but it is the lowest since I got my cancer diagnosis so that’s all good.

On Thursday, I’ll be having another PET scan and starting a new round of chemotherapy. The PET scan will help us see more clearly all the changes in my liver and the lesions there, and the chemo will be of the pills only kind, so it won’t be as difficult to go through and I probably won’t lose my hair again – surprising how important that is to me even now.

If you have a spare prayer around, please send it in the way of my dad. He’s had pneumonia and some serious heart problems (not covid-19 thank God); he’s back in ICU for the second time in 2 weeks and he hates hospitals and I hope not only that he gets better but that he gets to go home much better than he is now. I’m trying not to worry about him or my mother.

Lastly, I can never tell you – because the words don’t exist! – just how grateful I am for all of the comments and prayers and support that all y’all have given me. It means EVERYTHING. My heart overflows with love and gratitude to each one of you.

The Invader – #10

How is everyone? I hope you’re being very, very careful with yourselves, sanitizing everything and washing your hands a LOT! I know I am. I doubt my bathroom has been this clean since we moved in here! I am doing my best to fill my days with laughter, joy and South Korean boy bands (it’s way fun – the music is great and can they DANCE! #BTS ).

 

 

I pray that you can find those things too.

Since I’ve had the Y90 treatment I told you about last time, there’s been a fair amount of pain over the last month, coupled with fatigue and nausea. I have good days…..and less-good days. My body doesn’t seem to like direct application of radioactive material – always makes me feel like I’ve got the flu for at least a week and a half. Studmuffin keeps saying that I should call the docs, but everything I’ve been experiencing is what I was told to expect – I guess the husband wasn’t paying enough attention or something. 🙂 On the less good days, I feel like ABC gum (if you don’t know what that is, ask an 8 year old), and it’s very difficult to get out of bed and function at all normally sometimes. On the good days, I’ve even been doing some work in my long-neglected garden. Heck I have snap peas and parsley growing right now. So it’s a mixed bag.

 

How I hope my liver will be after all the treatments….

Now that there is a pandemic of the corona virus, most all of my doctor’s appointments have been canceled and in lieu of in-person visits, the docs and I speak on the phone. I say it feels a little weird, but I’m grateful that it is possible. Because of my weirdo reaction to radioactive agents coupled with ongoing hormonal hot flashes and the arrival of clouds of spring pollen, I wonder daily if I’ve got “it”. Did that sneeze mean anything? Was that cough the beginning…? I take my temperature daily – so far so good.

Since I’ve been home like so many (including Studmuffin, who at this late date -very nearly the end of the beard trend – has decided to grow a beard ….I could write a whole post on that development *alone*….), I’ve been doing what I can to reach out to others. My friend Eric Dozier and his family had an online singing devotional 3 weeks ago on Instagram, and I enjoyed it so much, I decided to do one on Facebook on Tuesday nights. I’m so much more an audio – radio person, not so much a video person, but I am learning. It’s been fun and I have gotten really wonderful feedback from those that have seen it. I did them over Facebook live and then left the recordings on my FB timeline, so you can check ’em out if you’re interested.

I do have just a little bit more hair than this now….

I won’t be doing a Facebook live devotional this week because Tuesday (tomorrow) I go in for laser ablation to my liver, or as Dr. FirstName calls it : “microwaving the liver”. This will treat the cancer lesions in the “pointy” end of my liver, which up to now have only been addressed generally and not specifically. Then we wait a few weeks/months and see what we see. Dr. FirstName said I could probably wait a month to microwave my liver but that there’s no guarantee that the local hospital systems will be able to handle anything but the expected surge in Covid-19 victims. As it is right now, all elective surgeries and procedures are not permitted at this time, but as this is cancer treatment, I can still get it done.

I wish that the apparatus they’re gonna use on me looked like this, but alas, it does NOT. :::sigh::::

Friends, I cannot even begin to thank you all for the prayers and support all y’all have shown me. It means EVERYTHING to me. THANK YOU!

 

The Invader – #9

Just another update on the ever-changing landscape of my cancer treatment! Sorry I didn’t get to share any knitting; right now my knitting game is PATHETIC…..

This is Kristine the cancer cell. Apparently there’s a whole series of cartoons about her. Perhaps it’s in bad taste, but you know I laughed at this!

So tomorrow I go in to have radioactive pellets placed in a few of the artieries in my liver. This treatment is called Y90 – there’s loads of info on the Web about it and much of it is accurate so I won’t tell all about it. This is the first of two Y90 treatments – I’ll have another one in about a month. Why two – well I think if they gave me all of the pellets at once I might die of it, so they’re doing 2 treatments. I’m fine with that. This will essentially kill off about a third of my liver.

Perhaps I’ll glow in the dark……
(That’s a joke folks. I won’t be glowing inthe dark.)

Then in another month after the second treatment, something else will happen: perhaps another round of chemotherapy, or it may be an ablation (laser burn off of cancerous lesions) on the other end of my liver that isn’t receiving the Y90, or it may removing more of my liver from the Y90 side.  Or it may be a liver transplant. So, you may be wondering, why is this all up in the air?

It’s a balancing act….

Essentially, we – me, Studmuffin and the oncology team- are making a decision to do a more aggressive treatment schedule in order for me to actually become cancer-free.  If we didn’t do anything other than a maintenance  kind of chemotherapy at this point, the oncology team’s best guess is that I’d live 3 or 4 more years.  But since I’m relatively young and have responded unusually well to the treatment thus far, we’re gambling on the more aggressive treatment. This is NOT a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination; I don’t have even a guess as to how likely it is that I will become cancer-free. All anyone can say is that I have a chance….and we’re taking that route.   So at every point along the way, the team has to reassess what’s working or what isn’t and then make the next decision about what to throw at the Invader in hopes of killing it completely. That’s why there’s not a predictable schedule to follow.

This does make it a challenge to plan my immediate future, and I’m also trying to plan for what happens if the treatments don’t work as we hope, so that if I do die sooner rather than much, much later, my family will not have to make lots of decisions that I could’ve have made. I don’t want to leave a heavy burden for my family if I can avoid it. Kind of like “hoping for the best; expecting the worst.”

Did I mention that all of this is EXPENSIVE?!?!?!  I mean we’re OK but I can easily see how medical expenses are the number one reason that private citizens in the US declare bankruptcy….

 

Thanks a MILLION BILLION SKADILLION times for all the prayers.  It means EVERYTHING.

 

The Invader – #8

So last time I was telling you that I’d know more about my upcoming cancer treatment by the third week of January – turns out, nope I didn’t learn any more! I think some communicative wires got crossed; Murphy’s Law seems to be involved.

Keep calm & accept Murphy's Law

Studmuffin was traveling when I had my December date with the oncologist, so he wasn’t there to help me remember stuff and to ask good questions that I never think to ask, so it’s very possible I could have forgotten what the oncologist told me to do next, or perhaps the oncologist didn’t communicate the next step to me/what I was supposed to do. Apparently after the scans I had in early December, I was supposed to go see an Interventional Radiologist and I didn’t. Plus, I had a touch of the flu on the day of my appointment, so we made a date for a week later, with the possibility of my starting a new round of chemotherapy on that appointed day.

Friends, I won’t lie – as the date drew nearer, I became quite terrified. It’s one thing to know about chemotherapy intellectually; having lived through it and to know what’s gonna happen is a whole ‘nother thing. You see, they have to 2/3 kill you to get the cancer to die and I felt really awful for months. To voluntarily say OK to doing it again…… well, I was DAUNTED. I think I was even hiding how anxious I was from myself, because on that next appointment when I didn’t start chemo again, I immediately went home and slept for 4 hours and the whole next day I was kind of a limp noodle – with relief.

We did go see the Interventional Radiologist. This fella is an M.D. to be sure – I didn’t know if Interventional Radiologists were docs or not – and he seems very competent and caring. Nice man but……I think he’s younger than my oldest offspring is plus he didn’t introduce himself as Dr. Soandso, he said, “Hello. I’m ‘Trevor’.” No, Trevor is not his real first name, I don’t think it’s fair for me to use it here, but it’s one of those more recently popular names for men like Dylan, Lucas or Ryan. It’s weirded me out a little. I’ll call him Dr. Firstname here on de blog.

kid as a doctor

He didn’t look *quite* this young……I’m getting old I know!

 

My hair is growing back, thinner and more grey than before but I’m looking forward to having it back because my head gets cold. Of course if I have more chemotherapy it will all fall out again. I’ve been intermittently trying to find a wig that doesn’t inspire immediate gales of laughter….with no success. I’d post pictures for your amusement, but it turns out that I’m a bit vain about my hair and so haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I wish I could – somebody oughta be laughing. Y’all certainly deserve something for wading through all my complaints! I’ve just sent off for 2 more wigs so we’ll see. Maybe I’ll post some pictures……

punk rcker with black and purple mohawk/mullet

Wish I had the guts to wear this as an everyday wig…..

And as far as knitting goes, I’m not doing a whole lot of it. I have some neuropathy in my hands from the chemo that makes it uncomfortable to use my fingers. I was warned of this side effect and it doesn’t bother me too much, but it does s-l-o-w-d-o-w-n my knitting terribly. I’ll try to put up something here about knitting in the next few weeks.

Anyway, what’s next is that later this week, I get to go to the hospital, go under general anesthesia ( for the fourth time in eight months!), and Dr. Firstname is gonna run a scope up from my femoral artery in the groin up to the blocky end of my liver and see what’s what. This is in preparation for implanting several packets of radioactive beads – a treatment known as Y90 – that will kill off not only cancer but about a third of my liver. I already know that radiation makes me ill, so I’m not looking forward to this experience. By the way, did I mention that this is the most expensive test yet? Even with really good health insurance, our out-of-pocket costs are in the thousands for this one. Yes, I’m whingeing aplenty today, but friends, please know that I WANT TO LIVE to whinge another day so don’t take it so seriously. 😊

As for future treatments, there’s other things being mentioned: more chemotherapy, liver surgery or even a liver transplant. All is up in the air. I know that, generally speaking, the news about my cancer went from awful to pretty good last year and so a few people have been confused about what it all means. I’ll try to be clear. I have cancer. It has not gone away; I have not been cured. BUT I have responded far, far better than the docs had hoped to chemotherapy – I’m MUCH healthier than I properly should be at this point. I really attribute this to everyone’s prayers and the skill of my medical team. Make no mistake – this cancer will probably kill me – none of the docs have given me an estimate, but my guess is that there’s 90% or more chance that it’s gonna do me in. When that will happen is really an unknown and un-guessable at this point. Makes it a little challenging to plan anything but oh well. Perhaps the best way to look at it it that the docs have an array of tools/treaments/therapies and one by one as circumstances demand, they are using them.

Thanks so much for your kind attention and prayers. It means everything to me. And I simply adore it when you leave comments. Bye for now.

The Invader – #7

First off – Happy New Year!

In the depths of winter, I find New Year’s celebrations and the making of resolutions to be very hopeful things, and I like whatever will promote hopeful things!

Just a quick update on my health – in the first 2 weeks of December ’19, I had the 2 scans that the docs wanted to see. However, I won’t see my oncologist til about the 20th of January so I won’t know about future steps to take (chemotherapy, surgery, radiation) til then at the soonest. I figure if things had gone badly, they would’ve called to make a sooner appointment! No news is good news as they say. But also at my last appt. with my oncologist he told me that he really thought that I would be having the liver surgery and ablation in the near future, but the scans would tell us for sure. So I am preparing myself mentally for serious surgery again, though I have no date or timeline for it at the moment.

“T’inquiete” essentially means “Don’t worry”

Overall, I’m feeling a bit better everyday. The fatigue is far less as the chemo drugs s-l-o-w-l-y leave my system. My appetite has returned – just in time to be surrounded by holiday temptations and feasting of course. Because of all the nausea and chemo, I’ve lost about 65 lbs., which is almost 5 stone for the Brits and nearly 29.5 kg for the rest of the world.

Back in 1987, when I had two separate jaw surgeries (TMJ problems) and had my jaws wired shut for weeks after each one, I was convinced that *that* was the worst way ever to lose weight**. Nope, chemo is a much worse way to lose weight than that. But now that the weight is gone, it’s gonna take new habits to keep it gone and to hopefully and sensibly and healthily to lose more weight as I still have plenty to lose. FYI – I probably won’t be talking any more about my weight loss here; our cultural obsession with how much we weigh and in particular how much women weigh and should weigh…..let’s just say I have ISSUES!

I spent New Year’s Day walking (almost hiking if I’m honest) with Studmuffin & the dogs in the morning. Then cooking a bunch (mostly spaghetti and meatballs, but there was also a chicken dish and other things) all while watching the Doctor Who marathon on BBC America (actually been watching the marathon for days now- love love love it since I was little), and working on a 1000 piece puzzle with the hubs – which we finished. I put up the new calendars too. It was a good day, especially since I didn’t have to do all the dishes. 🙂 What did you do?

My hope for everyone in 2020 is for all of us to practice much greater kindness to one another- individually and collectively. I notice that there is a tremendous “kindness deficit” in the world today, and that the fearmongering going on is very LOUD. Kindness is so often quiet it can be easy for us to miss, and I think there’s a tendency to dismiss its importance because it is quiet. Which is kind of NUTS because it takes strength to be kind, to be gentle. Any idiot can bellow loudly/indiscriminately about how terrible everything is and how much worse it’s gonna be…..WATCH OUT! WATCH OUT! WATCH OUT!

And then too, thoughts of fear often chase away thoughts of kindness… Here’s to a much kinder year!

That’s all for now. 🙂


**Also back in 1987, when my jaws were wired shut, absolutely every girl or woman that was aware of my surgeries (with the notable exception of my own dear mother) commented on how having one’s jaws wired shut was *such* a good way to lose weight. This was in rural New England where people are very reserved and are far less likely, in my experience, to make personal remarks of this kind. I found these comments terribly sad, depressing and kind of disgusting because it was every single one of us. I realized then how brainwashed we females all are on this topic. It’s tragic.

The surgeries were necessary and I’ve benefited ever since from the results, but just in case you’re thinking that having your jaws wired shut to lose weight is a great idea, my total weight loss from 7.5 weeks of my jaws wired shut was 13 lbs. If I had had my jaws wired shut for weight loss I would’ve been sorely disappointed with that result. Just sayin’.

The Invader – #6

PART ONE

So I have completed chemotherapy as of mid-October. Hooray!

text that says hip-hip hooray!I have to say that last round really took it out of me! It has taken me a month to start feeling half-way normal – but I’m not really complaining. I’m still not myself but each day is a little better. I’m hoping my hair will grow back soon, but in the meantime I’m looking for a wig. It’s harder than you think….

blue fright wig

What most wigs look like on me

What my oncologist was aiming for with my treatment was to get me to a point where I could have liver surgery and ablation. To back it up a bit, all of the colon cancer was removed during the colon resection last May, but the cancer had spread (metastasized) to my liver. As of July, I was borderline on the criteria for liver surgery and ablation – I might be able to have the surgery or I might not. The chemo was designed to keep me eligible for liver surgery and/or ablation once chemo was done. More specifically, the scans (both CT and PET) showed 3 large lesions in the left lobe of my liver and and another possible lesion in the right lobe (the pointier one) of my liver. My oncologist told me that the option of surgery was only possible after this first scheme of chemotherapy; generally the liver would be too damaged after subsequent rounds of chemo for it to heal and regenerate after surgery.

cartoon of a smiling liver

Doesn’t everyone want a happy liver?

Now if the liver lesions I had were all located in one lobe of the liver, they probably would have removed that lobe and called it done, but since I had lesions in both lobes, a combination of surgery and ablation would be done. I may not have this bit right, but my understanding was that the surgeon would remove the larger lesions surgically from 1 lobe and the special oncology radiologist would use a laser to burn out the lesion on the other lobe -that’s the ablation part. This is very serious surgery. I was gonna be in the hospital for at least 10 days post-op (the longest hospital stay I’ve ever had) and the recovery period for my liver was gonna take a number of months.  I learned shortly after the Invader #5 update that I was still doing well enough to have the surgery (above the cutoff line – yay!) AND that if the surgery was successful, I would have a 30 – 50% of being CANCER-FREE!!!! What terrific news!  The only reason I didn’t immediately post about it here was that i did not have a date for the surgery; I only knew that we were aiming for late November.

My fantasy is that laser ablation would be joyous and fun like a laser light show……

PART TWO

So last week we met with the surgeon again (lovely guy he is, as is my oncologist) to discuss the surgery and set up the date. When he came into the examination room, the first thing he said was that my scans looked REALLY good. We’d already had some indications that I had responded quite well to the chemo; a couple months ago the oncologist had seen no new lesions and some of the old ones had shrunk- all good news. As of my most recent PET scan, the surgeon told me that they could no longer see the lesions….so NO LIVER SURGERY FOR NOW.  This is fantastic news!!!

giphy

He showed us the most recent scans, contrasted with the older scans and it’s a miracle. You can see some scarring of the liver where the lesions were but no lesions.  He said that it doesn’t mean that there are no cancer cells left in my liver, we cannot say I am cancer-free, but that we will take a wait-and-see approach.

keep calm and just wait and see

I will have another scan in mid- to -late December to see if more needs to be done – if the lesions reappear, grow or new lesions show up. Depending on the results of that scan, I may need surgery, more chemo, radiation, perhaps some other therapy or maybe nothing else at all. Again, this is wonderful news. In one sense, I feel somewhat ambivalent about it because I was focused on having the surgery – surgery is something I have had a good bit of and I understand it fairly well I think. And it is something concrete with a before and an after, with some odds of being cancer-free to go along with it. The wait-and-see approach, as great news as it is and as happy as I am NOT to be having major surgery this month, is more vague and uncertain to me. I don’t have any odds or percentages at the moment and it’s harder for me to get my head around it. Still, it’s TERRIFIC news!


Back in July when I was told this was incurable cancer, I didn’t believe it. Over the months since, the news has gotten better and better, and I believe with all my heart it is all the good energy and the thousands of prayers that so so many of you have sent my way. I am SO GRATEFUL.

thanks a million

Thank you fifty skadillion times over.

It means EVERYTHING to me.

I’ll keep you posted.

Je vous remercie

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Invader – #5

Since last I told my cancer story, the news has been cautiously good. Sorry for making everyone wait so long for this most recent update – I’ve been caught up with a bunch of things and frankly, since working on my book (7 years now – gotta get serious and fininsh this thing!) I’ve fallen out of the habit of carving out writing time to do a post here and there.

I hope you know, and I’m telling you now, the comments I receive about the blog are deeply encouraging and I am so grateful. It really helps me to find the time to write. I usually have the posts all in my head – I’m just lazy about the typing. If I ever get speech-to-text for my ‘puter, well just WATCH OUT! But back to the Invader.

Since last I wrote, my chemotherapy regime has changed to a more intense therapy and so the side effects have been a good deal more serious. 80% of my hair has fallen out – let me tell you the hair coming out in locks in the shower is a really tough moment. I bought a wig over the Internet – it was a bargain – and oh my was that a mistake – wrong color big time and the style well let’s just say it inspired laughter.

Did you know you can get stones in your salivary glands? I had no idea….until I got one. So I’m already kind of a zombie because it was chemo week and Friday afternoon, while having yet another expensive scan (with radioactive dye which makes me sick every time – did I mention that they are hella expensive?) I got that twinge one gets when one’s salivary glands are gonna swell – like with a cold. I didn’t think much of it til later. By 8:30 that evening, I was in serious pain, even after taking painkillers, so we went to the ER. After hours & hours of waiting (whilst whatever pain killers I had taken wore off) I finally got in to see a dr. They gave me a pain shot which eased it for just a couple of hours, and another CT scan with radioactive resist – my second in less thatn 12 hrs (different parts of the body were scanned each time) and I learned that 1) I had a stone or some blockage of the left side parotid salivary gland (I was unfamiliar with this gland – it’s sort of kidney shaped and kind of wraps around your ear) and 2) the treatment consists of warm moist compresses, massage and chewing lemons and sour candy. The idea behind the lemons and sour candy is to get the gland to produce more saliva to flush out the blockage. And they gave me a prescription for some narcotic pain meds and a course of antibiotics.

I knew I’d be seeing my oncologist on that next Monday, so I tried to follow the instructions….but the pain was SO INTENSE. We called the after hours number for the oncologist to let him know what was happening and Studmuffin spoke to the nurse – she said I could take a double dose of the pain med – THANK GOD. Finally the pain was bearable. Meanwhile my face was swelling more and more – I was producing lots of saliva but it was backing up as the duct was still blocked The swelling was interfering with not only chewing but my breathing. I was sleeping sitting up on the couch so I could keep breathing!

My oncologist upon seeing me postponed my chemo treatment for that week and immediately whipped out his phone and called an ENT friend of his – got me in to see him THAT afternoon; a near impossible feat. I *love* my oncologist for doing that. Anyway, got into the ENT dr. and he affirmed the diagnosis and almost immediately put on gloves and got his hands in my mouth (in my experience as a kid, some ENT’s are quite reluctant to be hands on) to massage and see what was happening. That was very helpful to me because it showed me how much pressure I should be applying (hint: it was a lot more than I had been doing). He essentially told me to keep doing what I was doing, gave me another prescription for the pain meds and to come see him in 5 days. I admit that I cried right there in his office because I felt so hopeless at that point. I felt so awful and this was all the treatment they could offer in 2019? And the pain….

Well let’s talk about pain. I’m not a pain weenie. Every surgery I’ve had, except the colon resection last May, I wound up not taking all the pain meds I was prescribed, because I don’t like taking narcotics unless I absolutely have to and I can bear a fair amount of pain – the crusty New Englander part of me feels the need to point this out. 🙂 Anyway, I have saved those leftover medications over the years and they have come in handy on several occasions – earaches, somebody throws their back out, that kind of thing. I am always very, very, very careful with dosages; these medicines are serious business. When I started taking double the pain meds to make the pain bearable, well I was running out and I am very thankful that I still had a few tablets left from my heart surgery 10 years earlier (FYI – tablets are very, very stable over decades if kept in a reasonable environment (not too hot or cold and low humidity). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any kind of “stash” at all, just a very few tablets left over here and there. This helped me get through. Truly, this has been one of the most painful things I have EVER experienced – and I’ve had heart sugery and given birth 3 times!

So just as I am taking the antibiotic (a pill so big I have to split it into quarters to swallow it) I develop a yeast infection as well. This is TMI I am certain, but I feel I wanna say it because it only added to the over all misery. I had this as well as “elimination follies”* and I was not at all interested in eating; in fact I ate nothing for 3 days at one point. I did, because of a great sacrifice on my husband’s part, get to go to the Affrolachian On-Time Gathering, which was probably the best medicine I could have had. The gathering deserves its own post but I don’t have the energy to do that right now. Just know that all y’all oughta be going next year!

Eventually I was sent to Birmingham to see another ENT who has a nifty scope for this gland – the Duke of Curl had to drive me down and back, and the doc was running WAY late (2.5 hrs late) so none of that was fun. He told me that I was too swollen to scope and that I should take about 2 weeks more antibiotics to clear this thing out. He did not see evidence of what I have been calling my “face rock” so presumably it has passed. I can breathe normally, sleep in my bed and chew normally again, too. I am off narcotics and am not taking anything other than Ibuprofen for pain and inflammation.

This is the really gross part so you might wanna skip this paragraph. I started having some swelling go down and some relief after my first ENT visit and the much stronger massage. The most painful area, and the most swollen, is just in front of and just behind the ear. So the day after I finish the 7 day course of antibiotics I got from the ER doc, I’m massaging behind my ear and the skin ruptures and all this bloody pus comes draining out. I had actually given a good deal of thought into opening that area up myself with a large, sterile needle, but I’m just as happy not to have to do that and that it occurred naturally. It is still draining (almost 2 weeks now) and the B’ham ENT cultured the pus and has as of yesterday given me a new antibiotic to take (very large pills that cannot be split and are quite challenging for me to swallow).

Last week was chemo and it hit me wicked hard. When I can sleep, I have lots of vivid nightmares (my therapist calls them “poison dreams”) and I am much, much weaker than I have been – so weak that I have been afraid to drive myself places. I’m tryna take a trip to NH to see family in a week – it’s a little iffy that I can even go. Still I am feeling better today than in the last 3 weeks.

It’s been six months since my diagnosis so I guess I’m officially down to 18 months life expectancy – that’s not what I say it is and of course God has the final say in all cases. I thank you from the bottom of my soul for all the prayers and I hope you’ll keep on praying for me; the prayers are keeping me going. Next up will be the big liver ablation in November, if I’m well enough to do it. I’ll try to write more frequently and briefly in the future.

The Invader – update #4

Sorry it has been so long! I have been traveling around with family and Studmuffin, and I won’t be back for another week as I’ll be back at the Augusta Heritage Festival for Blues & Swing week again this year. Not doing keys this time – voice and guitar….maybe even learn to play the bones…..

The Invader gazes upon his realm….soon to be taken from him, but he doesn’t know it yet.

So I began chemotherapy on July 2nd, when I also received my diagnosis and prognosis. I get an IV infusion every 3 weeks and the rest of the time pills – lots of them. And thank goodness! The drugs? They are really expensive! Yay! This course of chemotherapy is supposed to last 3 months, but more on that later.

The first 4 days after the IV infusion I’ve now learned that I am so groggy I am pretty much comatose/useless, which made me WAY fun at Studmuffin’s family reunion I can tell you. Studmuffin was fantastic about the whole thing I have to say. And for my own family members, yes, there’s now another thing that will stop me from talking – believe it or not! So now we have: 1) general anesthesia, 2) sleep or coma and 3) a 4 day long course of a particular anti-nausea medication. Seemingly nothing else will.

I rather think Studmuffin enjoyed the respite from the usually never-ending flow of words exiting my lips on our 13-hours-over-2-days drive to West Virginia from Aba-lama-ding-dong.

The rest of the time I am more fatigued than usual, and have been greatly disturbed in my own digestion, over and above the aftermath of the surgical colon resection I had in May. Let me just say that I now understand all those commercials I saw on tv as a kid where older folks were discussing “regularity”. What the heck was that – regularity? Why was it such a topic of interest? When I finally figured out what they were talking about, maybe age 10, I thought they were NUTS because you know, I’d never had that trouble before and how could *that* really even be a thing? Got it now, thanks. Experience is a real fine teacher!

So now here’s the diagnosis as a result of the recent PET scan – I have Stage 4 colon cancer that has metastasized to the liver. Remember my adorable liver? My sweet, untroubled by alcohol for decades liver? Turns out I have cancer throughout the liver – can’t just hack off a lobe of it either as the lesions are all the way through and all over the liver.

So what does that mean? This is kind of cancer is considered incurable…though the docs don’t like to say it. There are things that can and will be done to prolong my life depending on lots of different variables. Generally the estimate of life length is 2 years. I believe I have 4 years….but that’s a whole ‘nuther story.

There may be more surgery, more chemo – a lot depends on how I respond to treatment. What I hate about this whole thing is that I am yet again, 10 years after open heart surgery, a person who talks about their health all the time. Don’t get me wrong – I am glad to talk about it with all of my friends and family, answer questions- please don’t take this to mean that I don’t want all y’all to mention it freely or whatever, but my goodness – I learned years ago that talking about my health is very boring eventually. I may start carrying around a pre-printed FAQ page with me so people can read it and I won’t have to repeat it again.

I’m doing well I think. I absolutely know it’s because of the prayers. I am constantly lifted up in prayer by many folks I don’t even know and many who I’ve never met in person. I’m weepy with gratitutde at some point every day. Thank you!

Now let’s talk about something else for a bit, shall we? Thanks.

The Invader – Update #3

So when last I wrote, I hadn’t heard back about the MRI. Well now I have and the news is WEIRD and possibly bad. They found loads of lesions on my liver, but they cannot tell if they are cancerous without a needle biopsy. To do the needle biopsy – you’re never ever gonna believe this – they have to do ANOTHER TEST.  So it was a PET scan I had last week and yes – more radioactive contrast.  OH BOY MY FAVORITE!

 

So in the last 7 or 8 weeks, I’ve had 2 CT scans, an MRI and a PET scan, all with radioactive contrast and all of which has made me feel quite ill and has the added bonus of giving me about 12 years worth of regular radiation. There’s a certain amount of radiation you get from just living on the the planet every year, so I’ve now gotten 12 years’ worth. Hurrah.  My spirits are good but sometimes things that don’t usually hurt start hurting and the thought does cross my mind – is that a cancer pain?  Plus the radiation has made my saliva taste bad 24/7. No bueno.  All this before actual treatment (other than the surgery*.) Makes me a little nervous as to how bad the treatment might be……

So tomorrow – Tuesday, July 2nd is when I start chemotherapy.

PROS – treatment has begun, supposed to last 3 months only, no radiation treatment in the forecast, taking mostly pills and I’m not supposed to lose my hair.

CONS- the medicine is EXPENSIVE, pills everyday (my track record on taking pills daily or even on time is abysmal), plus I’ve been prescribed not 1 but 2 medications for nausea so that’s gonna suck, IV infusion every 3 weeks which takes 3 hours (which I’ll get to do tomorrow too), no firm diagnosis yet (means more tests) and so no prognosis yet, and based on last week’s PET scan results, ALL OF THIS COULD CHANGE.

After I get done with the IV infusion, I get an hour to find food (I am a diabetic so even if I feel super nauseous I still must eat) and then go over to the hospital for the pre-consult for the needle biopsy, which hopefully can be scheduled for after our trip.

YES I am travelling. I got back last night from a working weekend in Mississippi, then Wednesday, we leave for West Virginia and Studmuffin’s family reunion. Then a week of visiting family and friends as well as some sightseeing – Studmuffin LOVES LOVES LOVES Frank Lloyd Wright homes – we’re gonna *stay* in one overnight and I wanna see Fallingwater. Tomorrow’s promised to no one so I’m going to Pennsylvania and upstate New York so there. Studmuffin was looking at all the things he’d like to go see – battlegrounds and the site of the Johnstown Flood but I told him I just cannot do that. This time out I need nature, music, light and laughter, not disasters, grief and wars if I’m gonna beat The Invader.

Yes, he was cool.

After PA and NY I come back to Elkins for Blues & Swing week at Augusta and he flies to CA for work. I am determined to haul myself to Augusta, though today I decided not to take any Blues piano this year – I don’t wanna have to haul my keyboard around this time. So I’ll take pretty much all vocal stuff – or perhaps Ukelele. I have a pretty good one, they are compact and they are fun and easy to play. I won’t stay out nearly as late as usual or maybe even at all, but I want to do this for my mental and spiritual health. Then we head to Virginia to see my folks for a day before heading home. Of course I am gonna try to eat at as many restaurants that have been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” as I possibly can, and am booking some rather unusual AirBnb places to stay. There may be a couple of yarn or fabric shops in there too. Studmuffin said he wants me to choose and not ask him. OK – no problem!

Two of the progeny are going to the reunion and the Duke of Curl will take blacksmithing at Augusta the week we are swanning around the Alleghenies. I’m really happy about them coming – they weren’t at the last one- and I think it’s gonna be a good time. And I very much hope the Duke has a blast at Augusta! He started getting involved with blacksmithing last year and seems to really love it.

Since my diagnosis in late April I’ve had a few moments of deep anxiety, but very few – perhaps 3?  I absolutely know that this is because so many of you are praying for me. It’s truly a RIDICULOUS number of people – I need to do something pretty amazing to be worthy of it at all and I’ve got zero ideas of what it might be at this point. Maybe single-handedly fixing the broken US immigration process? Reverse climate change?  I don’t know. If I could I surely would….Thank you all very very very much.

If I have a few working brain cells left on the trip, I’ll try to take pictures and share….maybe even write an update, but I can promise nothing. Isn’t that nice of me?  Until next time…..

 

 

 

 

 

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*By the way, I had the surgeon look at the incision that’s been bothering. Well, MORE than bothering, but the details are really quite disgusting and you really don’t wanna know. It took me 3 weeks to get in to see him. He glanced at it for perhaps a whole second and then said something I really didn’t appreciate. When I told my mother – she’s a retired nurse and wants to know all the gory details, plus she is rather fond of me – she exclaimed, “Surgeons!” in such a way that 1) made me laugh and 2) indicated a certain frustration borne of long experience with surgeons.   It’s been my experience that surgeons like to cut, not to stitch up, most of them are men and do not know much at all about sewing, and they’re not very interested in wound care. Don’t get it twisted – I like my surgeon, he did a really god job on me and I am very grateful, but this last bit was not as helpful as it might have been. I will continue to treat it as I have done which has made a big difference. I *still* can’t go to water aerobics yet, though (no open wounds in the pool, right?) and that irritates me no end.

The Invader – update #2

That’s what my mother calls cancer – the Invader. I wanted to title these updates something more interesting than “Health update” or “cancer watch 2019” or whatever. I like how Mom puts it.

Remember these guys? I do. Still, they are 2 cute to represent cancer….

So when I last wrote about my health, I was just telling y’all about my surgery and recovery. Still going fairly well….I’m having a little trouble with one of the incisions, it hasn’t healed quite right but that’s minor.  Even tho’ my oncologist has been on vacation for a couple of weeks, I was supposed to start chemotherapy almost 2 weeks ago. However, I got some unexpected bloodwork numbers; a number that was supposed to go way down after the surgery went way up – it almost doubled.  So the hunt for cancer elsewhere begins………..I had a CT scan a week ago Monday (that radioactive agent they give for the ‘contrast’ always makes me ill for about a week and a half; no, it isn’t an allergic reaction).

No felines were involved in my CT scan…

There’s some good news – almost everything looks perfectly normal. And then there’s some weird news: there’s something strange about my liver. It doesn’t look like a tumor there, it doesn’t look like the cancer has metastasized to the liver; it’s just unusual so YAY! I haven’t drunk alcohol in 30+ years and I quit smoking nearly 25 years ago – you’d think my liver would be in great shape! Now I wouldn’t say my liver is weird; I’d say that it’s quirky.

Quirky – like King Kong & Godzilla having a dance party…..

What does it all mean? More tests of course. Fortunately the tests at the moment aren’t invasive; unfortunately, the next one requires more radioactive contrast…….and we’ll learn more about my adorably quirky liver. I had an MRI last Wednesday – I was hoping that I might know something more by yesterday but no.

I know chemotherapy will begin soon – I’m hoping I can tolerate it well; there’s things I wanna DO this summer. I already told Studmuffin that if all the hair goes, I will be wearing wigs. but I know how this goes; I’ll get a wig hoping to look something like this:

But I *know* that I will end up looking much more like this:

 

-/-/-/-/-/-/-

Along with my title of the Invader, I’ve chosen my character/ logo/ drawing to represent my personal Invader. Why? Because he makes me smile. I admit I came very close to using Sheldon J. Plankton from SpongeBob Squarepants (below) – he makes me laugh; he’s so dramatic and nuts, but he’s only generally, hilariously evil. He’s not a true invader…..

 

So for those of you with kids or who are into animation, you’ll already know who this guy is. For those of you who don’t – his name is Invader Zim and I encourage you to check him out, especially if you enjoy dark humor…

Until next time, please wear your sunscreen and eat carrots and kale and drink plenty of fresh, clean water. The Invader doesn’t want you to, but I do. xxxooo

I have “it”; “it” doesn’t have me.

What is “it”?  Cancer, y’all. Tho’ really, I’m just not that upset about it.

It’s been TEN YEARS since I had heart surgery – I was so much sicker then and heart surgery is way more complicated than a colon resection. Probably the biggest thing is that my children are all ten years OLDER. This is huge for me.

Two things:

-first, I have been overwhelmed with all of the support I have gotten from friends, family, acquaintances and strangers from all over the world.  It occurs to me yet again that the English language really needs more words for gratitude other than “thank you”. I mean, I do not have words for how grateful I am – “thank you” – even a million times over – does not seem to really convey how I feel.

 

 

 

-second, the amount of well-intentioned advice on what I need to do to beat cancer that I have received has been nothing short of astonishing. I cannot begin to follow even a tenth of it.

 

About half of the advice that I have received contradicts the other half of the advice…..  I receive it all as expressions of love and caring, truly sincere efforts to assist me.  I am grateful.

Here’s the advice I *am* following:

“Whenever ye fall ill, refer to competent physicians.”

(Baha’u’llah, Kitab-I-Aqdas, Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 275)

I have really good doctors and I’m gonna do what they say. Sometimes my docs are surprised by this; apparently lots of people do NOT follow their doctor’s advice……


Just a few more particulars……

  1. I had NO symptoms. NONE.
  2. I turned 50 and was scheduled for my first routine colonoscopy in April. They found a cancerous tumor.
  3. Please please please get your colonoscopy done. Do NOT put it off or think it’s not important. Of course it’s embarrassing. Of course you don’t wanna.  However, cancer is far more inconvenient (among many other things) and may deprive you of your life. It’s way more fun to tell your family the embarrassing tale of your colonoscopy than to have them plan your funeral.
  4. I had surgery May 9. Along with part of my large intestine, 39 lymph nodes were removed and biopsied. 2 were found to have cancer cells in them.  My cancer is considered Stage 3a.
  5. I will have chemotherapy – what kind is still being determined.
  6. I am recovering well. The weirdest part is how confused my digestion is……..
  7. It is quite possible that there is other cancer elsewhere in my body – the docs are starting the process of looking for it.  It also could be something else.
  8. I haven’t knit on anything in a month.
  9. I have zero gardening mojo. I never even *looked* at single seed catalog this winter. I feel bad for my new-ish next-door neighbor who is very tidy, but not so bad that I am doing anything at all to improve things. I may actually take some pictures b/c it’s so bad; I find it somewhat humorous actually…..
  10. I have remained true-to-form as with all my other surgeries, in that as soon as I start feeling better, I do too much which sets me back days or weeks. I so want my stamina back. Right now, I feel pretty weak, in that I do something – like make the bed, and then have to take a nap to recover.                                                                                                                                                                       
  11. I realize that my lifelong precociousness in various areas has continued into my middle age – I am an aging overachiever.

 

I hope to write more regularly; we’ll see. 🙂

What a summer/what a bummer and What’s for dinner? (part 2 -long)

bummer_vacation

 

(Click here for Part 1)

What’s For Dinner?

I make some really yummy things to eat, even now that I am a diabetic and have changed my eating habits so that I can keep my fingers and toes and such. But overall, I’m just an OK cook. My Dad and my brothers are people who really love to cook, they really show their love to others through their cooking. My Dad wakes up every day thinking about what he and Mom are gonna eat for dinner, which – given that my mother takes a fair amount of time & caffeine to really “wake up”- has led to 50 years of him accosting her most every morning, right when she gets up, and demanding to know what she wants for dinner, which leads to a very blank and confused expression on her face that I find pretty hilarious these days.

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Of course, Mom’s not wearing the hat or the beard…..

Now I might wake up thinking of food, but it’s a completed dish I’m thinking of, preferably one that could be conjured up and served immediately by the chef/butler we do not have. Since I’m the one who does the VAST majority of cooking around here, I have tried many different ways to make the decision of what we will eat easier, and some of them have helped. I admit that we go out to eat way too often, mainly because I just don’t wanna cook much at all anymore.  One of the things that has helped a bit has been subscribing to Blue Apron** for one week a month. Since I’ve been sick or gone so much this summer, I have not been eating the way I want to and need to, and we aren’t sitting down to dinner  together nearly as often. Fresh things are going bad in the fridge, mainly ‘cos I forget that I bought them. And there’s loads of things in the pantry that should be eaten as well. I’ve fallen into a very lazy & unthinking pattern about dinners around here that is not only costly to my wallet, but to my health. So here is my latest attempt to change this downward spiral & act like an adult-

whatsfordinner

 

If you click on the picture, you can see it better. I’m just happy to have a reminder of what’s going on foodwise each day. Studmuffin would rather eat chicken than almost anything else on the planet, ‘cept maybe chocolate ice cream, so that’s why there’s so many “Chicken Somethings” in the plan.  I have a lot of cookbooks, for someone who’s meh about cooking, so I put in “Use a cookbook” in hopes that I might try something new; it could happen. My favorite innovation here *has* to be “Pantry Roulette” – go into the pantry and see what interesting thing could be made from what’s there and the older the better. Please feel free to try this out yerself, or put in the comments how you deal with the daily grind of ‘what’s for dinner?’ BTW, it’s Crockpot Chicken Teryaki tonight. See? Workin’ already.

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** If you don’t know what Blue Apron is, go to the website and check it out. I have some free meals from them to give away; let me know if you want to try Blue Apron in the comments section and if you live in the USA, I’ll send them your way.

Some Actual Good Things this summer

Singing with the band Kaleidoscope & becoming a much better keyboard player because the fellas let me play more and more, singing with One Human Family Workshop choir twice, been married to Studmuffin for TWENTY-EIGHT years, traveling to Dayton with Studmuffin, traveling to WV for the Studmuffin family reunion, the Force of Nature graduated from high school – in the top twenty of her class, taking the Force of Nature to Marion Military Institute for college, the Duke of Curl spent part of the summer working in Colorado, he came home and now is in school AND has a job, paid off a fairly large loan, going to Birmingham several times for Baha’i Ruhi Institute training, YARN! FABRIC!……there’s been good things, many good things.

THE END:A Real Grievance

The day after I wrote the previous post (The Gardening groove…) on this here blog, June 1st, my beloved dog Boris suddenly died. His sister Natasha has been ill/dying with a chronic parasitic infection for the last 3 years and we thought for certain, she would be gone first. We know their deaths are coming – they are 13 or 14 years old, and for their kind of dog to make it past 15 is quite rare, so we know it is gonna happen within the next 2 years certainly. Natasha, whom I have nicknamed “the Crypt Keeper” because she looks so bad – patchy fur, flaking skin and so skinny – is still living and quite happy. She gets all the treats now.

I has a sad....

I has a sad….

I think he ate something he shouldn’t have – probably some poisonous vegetation. He always loved to eat leaves and green things. I planted zinnias every year, not because I’m fond of them, but because Boris loved to nibble the leaves so much. Others have told me that Labradors tend to get stomach cancer and that is possible, too.  I did not realize just how sick he was until about 2 hours before he passed away; I spent about 5 or 6 hours that day driving the Duke of Curl to and from his dr.’s appointment in Birmingham; I would not have done that had I known that Boris was dying. We buried him next to Bluto^^ that night, and a week later I planted zinnias on his grave.

We won’t be getting another dog while Natasha lives; she’s elderly and sick, but she was the less dependent of the 2 and I think adjusting to a new dog would be hard on her. I will rescue more dogs after she’s gone, mainly because of this video: Shy Shelter Dog gets Adopted. But it will be a while. Emmy the cat was sick this last week with a bad cold and it brought it all back.

Boris was the dog of my heart and life is really not the same without him for me. I am reminded of him everywhere in our house and yard and all the streets nearby. It’s been nearly four months and I’m still grieving, which of course, I have mixed feelings about. There are so many terrible things happening in the world all over, and I’m crying about a dog. A dog who had a seriously wonderful life, who I was privileged to have in my family since he and Tasha were 4 months old. All I can say is that grief is the price of love and buddy, your death is costing me a fortune. You were the BEST dog for me and none of us will ever forget you. Thank you Borisman.

boriscollage


^^Bluto adopted us in the early Summer 1997 (est. 3 yrs old) – died January 7, 2010

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What a summer/what a bummer and what’s for dinner? (part 1 -long post)

bummer_vacation

This has been one for the books. So let’s jump right into the whingeing, shall I?

Illness

So I’ve spent a fair bit of time this summer being sick and recovering from being sick. The only reason I’ve time to write today is because I have a cold and I don’t wanna give it to others, so I can’t go and do things, but I’m not so sick I’m gonna stay in bed all day. Studmuffin has had this cold far worse than I – I think I’ll be fine by Friday.

cattoungue

feeling yucky….

No, the mostest, worstest sickness I got was for about the first 2 weeks of August. High fever, then mega-chills, all over aches – I mean even my eyelashes hurt when I blinked. And I could not sleep for more than 30 mins to a hour at a time for nearly 2 weeks. I even went to the doctor, knowing that he probably could not help – it was a virus I was certain- but if it was one of the ‘named’ viruses*, I could be at least a public health statistic. But no dice – no help and an un-named virus, but he still took my co-pay (which has gone up about 30%) and suggested I come back in a few days if I was still sick. HAH!  I really considered going to the hospital, but then I remembered 2 things: I never get any rest in the hospital -someone always wants to ask you something or stick a needle into you the moment you’ve dropped off to sleep, and hospital stays are very expensive.

A friend from the next town over was in the process of dying, and I had previously promised his wife that I would sing at his funeral. He passed away & I was too sick to even go to the funeral, much less sing.  This is something I will regret for the rest of my life. Though I am very thankful that Studmuffin went in my place. No, he did not sing.

I lost 15 lbs. in 12 days I was so sick. I cannot ever remember feeling worse….and I was sick for all 9 months of my last pregnancy!

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*Zika, Swine, H1N1,Bird, Spanish,Influenza and so on

bummerdwight

(more…)

Update

  • Hadn’t realized it has been so long since I’ve posted.  SORRY!
  • Have not received any pictures or video from the David Wilcox happening.  I so wish I had!
  • Almost through month 11 of 24 month Yarn Diet – have only bought 7 skeins of yarn: 6 skeins for things I’m knitting for the Force of Nature & 1 skein for a swap.  Studmuffin said that yarn bought for our kids’ needs/wants doesn’t count, and I feel oogy about giving stash as part of a swap package……
  • Working on the book in fits & starts
  • Been seriously in the pit of depression since August, with a couple of weeks reprieve sprinkled through October & November, enhanced by difficulty sleeping most nights.  I think I need a different antidepressant……..Am afraid to change because of side effects.  :::sigh:::  All I want to do is go hide in bed.
  • Still eating tomatoes from the garden!  I definitely wanna write a serious post about the garden successes and failures, but it’ll have to wait.
  • Knitting is happening.  Photos of knitting are happening.  Blogging about knitting – not happening, obviously.  I have plenty of more yarn crimes to post but I got so few comments on the last one, I’m kinda thinking I’ll abandon the yarn crimes posts……
  • Got diagnosed with high blood pressure last week.  Both parents & both brothers on BP meds I found out this summer, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Hope the hed I got is the right one for me.
  • Duke of Curl is mostly laying about playing video games.  Force of Nature a royal pain in the tuchis but she’s 15 so what else is new?
  • Really have to find a job – seriously do not want to. Many reasons – mostly too personal and/or specific to post here, but I’m praying on it.
  • Working on my French again in hopes of becoming somewhat proficient & keeping the brain sufficiently stimulated…..
  • My friend Shannan R. has beaten cancer!! She got a clean scan
  • Working out has seriously stalled.  Please pray for me!

I’m also asking for prayers for friends: Cindy T., Tangela S., Cheryl P., Vicki C., Tracy B., Hayden L., James G., Marge W., Grace S., Malulinka H.

So how’s by you?

Even WordPress has to be funny…..

The dashboard stats show this blog getting 10 times the number of hits than usual.

I guess it’s funny. I’m at a low point (seriously in need of sunshine – weatherman says tomorrow) and am not laughing at anything.   I didn’t get the things I needed to do today done at ALL.  I’ve even had 3 cups of hot chocolate and I’m still grumpy. Guess I need to go on youtube and look at videos of jumping baby goats and laughing babies to try to crawl out of my funk.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Thank goodness April 1st is almost OVER.




Pneumonia and Google reader

Think back just a few days ago when I was just merely sick with the flu; I’ve since been diagnosed with pneumonia. Not bad enough to slap me into the hospital, but bad enough for me to ask my family to come back early from West Virginia. The giant pills I’ve been taking are working – I *am* better – but I am still coughing BIG.

not my xray, but ya get the idea

So whilst I was unable to sleep lying down because of all the fluid in my lungs, I watched some tv and spent hours on the ‘puter. One would think that this would be a great time to catch up with my Google Reader and read those 1000+ blog posts that have been piling and piling up.

But NO! This did not occur….because, friends and neighbors, I was too sick to knit – even”stupid knitting” was beyond me – much less read and comprehend blog posts. Also, it seems this situation on GR is intimidating me: I haven’t been reading the posts because I am afraid to start reading and get “sucked in” to the ‘puter, and yet I am also afraid to unsubscribe to a single blog to reduce the number of posts.

So I have decided that I must start scheduling GR time and create a new habit, like if I spent 20 – 30 minutes daily reading the newspaper, I will now spend 20 – 30 minutes reading blog posts.

Because of the pnuemonia, the “tennis-ball” removal has been postponed for a couple of weeks; still my mother is coming today because of her non-refundable plane ticket. She’s going to stay here at the “White Trash Hoedown Hotel” – she offered to sleep on the couch. That’d be fine, ‘cept the couch regularly has spring trouble: after several years of regularly been flopped on by giant boychiks (even after they were ****repeatedly****  scolded for doing so), the clips that hold the springs in place have lost their integrity and we can put them back in place which lasts for a time…..but soon there will be a decided sag/ hole to the floor in the middle. So we decided to put her in the Force of Nature’s room. We cleaned it up a bit, got some new sheets, and then Studmuffin decided to shampoo the carpet. This was a good idea because the carpet was dirty. However, this was also a bad idea because for a while there, Bluto (r.i.p.) and Kali peed in that room whenever they got the chance and shampooing the carpet stirred all that smell back up. On top o’ that, my mother has a very keen nose so I dunno what I’m gonna do.  Hospitality ‘r’ us alright……

Wish me luck.  🙂

The head cold has morphed…..

…into bronchitis, or near enough. And of course, Studmuffin is out of town. I hope he doesn’t bring home another new and exciting head cold this time.

I will be very VERY happy when we finally install a pet door. Boris and Natasha have taken to answering nature’s call at 3 a.m. most every morning. Since it wasn’t terribly cold, I’d left the sliding door in back open a dog’s width so I could have a night’s uninterrupted sleep. But oh NO! Natasha went out easily enough, but started barking at 3:30 a.m. to be let in….the FRONT door. Nothing would do except she HAD to come in the front door. Could it be that my lack of rest is retarding my return to health? Grrrr.

Still , it’s small potatoes. Life is good for me and my immediates. However, my illness isn’t assisting in the Force of Nature’s homeschooling progress!

Knitting is continuing as I’m taking a break from “The Beast”.

Der Wind weht heute Abend hart.*

The wind has been blowing ferociously gusty for the last 5 hours and it’s keeping me awake. After casting on and starting a twined knitting hat, which I ripped out because the yarn isn’t right for the project, learning 2 new-to-me cast ons and knitting almost 3 inches of K1 P1 ribbing for yet another hat fer Studmuffin (the last wasn’t long enough, so the Force of Nature claimed it), and deciding that I’m a have to rip that out too since I don’t like how the cast on looks and it will bug me every time I see that hat – I finally decided to get up, turn on the ‘puter and blather on to y’all….at 4:15 am.

In the last post, I was getting ready to go to the radio station to do my radio show. I wanted to play the songs I’d gotten off of eMusic in tribute to various Blues artists who passed on in 2009. I had spent a good bit of the previous 2 days trying to get the CD player/burner to work with NO LUCK AT ALL. Man, the thing wouldn’t even play pre-recorded CDs – I was some frustrated. But it didn’t matter in the end because we had a tornado.

Someone else's picture of the tornado just before it touched down.

No. REALLY. We had a tornado. I could hear it and see it from inside my house.  Even though I couldn’t see the bottom of it, I knew it was on the ground because of all the debris.  This was a block away from my house!  The Force of Nature started crying and screaming, “I don’t wanna die!  I don’t wanna die!”    Fortunately, it did not hit us directly, it was a small tornado, only property damage and no injuries occurred.

One of the houses nearby that was damaged.

It all went very fast!  I learnedwhen I got to work that it also knocked the power out at the radio station and university, which didn’t come back on until the last 20 mins of my show.  There was all kinds of stuff going on when the tornado happened, which is pretty usual for Thursday afternoons around here, but the tornado was a little over the top.

We have a lot of tornado warnings and actual tornadoes here in Huntsville.  You get used to it – it’s a danger like any other.  Ordinarily, the funnel clouds form up southeast of here and the 2 really big tornadoes that have done serious damage – one in 1974 and the other in 1989 were in the southeastern part of the city.  They usually just skip right on over Chapman mountain and Monte Sano.  Still, I always try to take them seriously; tornadoes are extremely unpredictable and destructive.  We have a tornado siren across the street at the school which I heard but it was when I actually *heard* the tornado (think freight train engine) that I told the F.o.N to go into the bathroom.  But we’re all fine now.

Now, it seems the wind has blown itself out, so I’m off to bed and hopefully to sleep!

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* This is German for “The wind is blowing hard tonight.”

Weekend Round up /Contest reminder

  • The Force of Nature’s soccer team won a game!
  • -ate some wonderful food at Mezzaluna (try the Eggplant Parmesan appetizer; fantastic!)
  • saw the movie “Good Hair” with some friends (I enjoyed it)
  • Got some more Kureyon for the Lizard Ridge blanket (I’m halfway there)
  • made zero progress on the Tapestry Cowl
  • got “The Individual formerly known as Homeschool Kid”‘s hair cut. Yay!
  • since my hairstyle was making me feel OLD, I even got my hair cut (I now now own a flatiron to style it with….)
  • no band rehearsal because the bandleader had a heart attack (please say healing prayers for Sylvester!)
  • spent what seemed like endless hours tryna fix the Force of Nature’s cobbled-together iPod (I should post a picture – it’s held together with rubber bands for REAL)  and to remove some rather nasty spyware from my ‘puter
  • Studmuffin left for Cali on a business trip
  • I didn’t remember to call my brother for his birthday til like 2 am. I still haven’t called :o(
  • Natasha’s limp has gone away as mysteriously as it came.
  • posted one of my cutest ever posts (I think) about Domo-kun with cute pictures AND NOBODY COMMENTED      :::sad trombone:::  I guess everyone is too busy?  Or do you just hate Domo-kun?  Or is it me?

Today, I:

  • forgot to put out the trash
  • felt like crap all day
  • spoke to 2 wonderful friends on the phone (I love you guys!!!)
  • finished knitting No.1 Son’s birthday prezzie and am felting it (and felting and felting….)
  • took a nap and was
  • late making dinner and so
  • burnt the spaghetti with meatballs……..

Life is good but I still feel yucky. It will pass…..  WHERE is the goshdurn heating pad?!
Meal plan Monday:
Mon- spags & meatballs
Tues- Shepherd’s Pie a la Cracker (this didn’t get made last week; I WILL share the recipe)
Wed- leftovers
Thurs- Mac & cheese & salad
Fri- Romano Beans & rice
Sat- Soup & sandwiches/Corn Chowder
Sun- Chinese take out

CONTEST Reminder

Contest ends on October 31st, 2009 at midnight Alabama time, and the winner will be announced when I get around to it (probably during the following week).  My choice will be completely arbitrary and humor is encouraged.  :o)
Please submit prospective names in the comments – the name I choose for him will win a $14 gift card to Starbucks. If you live someplace without Starbucks, I’ll contact you directly and we’ll work it out.
See all the other names submitted in the comments here

Toodles

So I’ve been sick for the last 4 days

Not like really REALLY sick, but enough to keep me halfway to miserable and yet still ambulatory.  Fortunately, I’m not too sick to knit.  Almost zero homeschooling and no blogging to speak of this week; still having enough computer issues to keep me from doing that rather important demo for the wedding…and Studmuffin is rather irritated with me on top of all o’ that.

I have SO many good things to blog about from the last 3 or 4 weeks but it won’t be today…or perhaps til Monday even. Always remember and never forget that my thoughts are like butterflies these days….hope to catch a few of those thoughts real soon.

Now to catch up with a few photo captions:

Picture 065

This is the cashmere lace shawl I’m working on.  I’ve ripped this bad boy out SEVERAL times, but now things are going well, and it is bigger than this now.  A few more “arty” shots:

Picture 064

This cashmere is undyed Ecco Cashmere – a dream to work with….

Picture 062

This is a free pattern by Miriam “the Lace Genius” Felton : Adamas Shawl.

********************************************************************

SO eight years ago today, the twin towers of the World Trade Center came down. It doesn’t seem that long ago…  Loads and loads of songs and poems have been written about those events.  I cannot say that I have read or heard ALL of them, but of the many that I have, this is my favorite.

You can hear it here

City of Dreams by David Wilcox & Pierce Pettis

From the top of the towers
You could see past the narrows
Past our lady of the harbor
To the broad, open sea
See the curve of the earth
On the vast, blue horizon
From the world?s greatest city
In the land of the free

All the brave men and women
that you never would notice
From the precincts and fire halls
The first on the scene
Storming into the buildings
On the side of the angels
They were gone in an instant
In the belly of the beast

CHORUS

We are children of slavery
children of immigrants
Remnants of tribes and their tired refugees
As the walls tumble down
We are stronger together
Stronger than we ever knew we could be
As strong as that statue that stands for the promise
Of liberty here in this city of dreams
Liberty here in this city of dreams

All the flags on front porches
And banners of unity
Spanning the bridges
From the top of the fence
As we heal up the wounds
And take care of each other
There’s more love in this nation
Than hate and revenge

CHORUS

We are children of slavery
children of immigrants
Remnants of tribes and their tired refugees
As the walls tumble down
We are stronger together
Stronger than we ever knew we could be
As strong as that statue that stands for the promise
Of liberty here in this city of dreams
Liberty here in this city of dreams

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Hey y’all-

I’ve been thinking LOADS about posting….but I haven’t had much that was POSITIVE to say.  I guess it might be better for me to say that there really have been many positive things going on, but there’s been some serious negativity goin’ on as well, and I’ve let it dominate my thinking.  Truly, I’m am working HARD on focusing on the positive stuff but I’m still not very good at it.

So the biggest burr under my saddle is Number One Son.  He asked to come and stay with us for the last week before he moves to “Wild Wonderful West Virginia” and I agreed after he swore UP & DOWN that he would obey my rules.  Studmuffin was in Cali on business and I was feeling under the weather (which has been glorious! the weather I mean…), but there have been a fairly LARGE number of thefts from his apartment and I took pity on him.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?????!!!!!!???

Almost immediately after he arrived, he was disobedient to the house rules and rude to me to boot.  Then after he’d been here for a few days – casting his thick miasma of negativity & disobedience all around Chez Oney – Ian and I had a stupid argument, which left Ian very angry….so he decided to vandalize several things of mine after I left the house, including my iPod.  This is VERY distressing behavior for him to exhibit; there had been another incident years ago but not nearly as focused or extensive.  Truly a massive overreaction and thus he has earned himself several sessions with the family therapist.

Please pray for us.  I’ve had several artistic disappointments as well  all clustered together along with this and the heart thing….it’s really bringing me down – making me wonder if I’m the big problem here.  Thanks.

On a positive note – the camera charger has been located!  It was in my van attached to the voltage inverter and wedged under a seat I think.  Studmuffin found it and I immediately charged it up and took some pictures outside .  I was hoping to get some of the kids before Number One left but today he had me so rattled…oh well perhaps when we go pick up the Force of Nature in WV in a few weeks.

So here they are:

Squash plant 1

This is the best looking bit of the garden. Front and center is a summer squash plant that *really* didn’t look like it was gonna make it there for a while;  it’s rather better now. On the right is parsley and a *volunteer* cypress vine.  To the left is a cucmber plant that I hope will start being productive VERY soon, and the lush backdrop to all this are the Kentucky Wonder beans….which have yet to flower (grrrr) so no beans so far.

petunias

All that ferny foliage is the cypress vine.  Then there’s the petunias and I’m sorry but you can barely see the pepper plants on the right.

Copy of DSCN1585_479

Here’s a few of the ‘maters.  These are all about the size of ping pong balls.  As soon as they get a little bigger and start ripening for real, this is what happens:

pecked tomatoes

The birds start pecking them.  I think it’s because it had been so dry.  I’ve never had this trouble before; so far I composted more tomatoes that had been pecked than I’ve harvested.  I though a birdbath might help, so I set one up:

cracker birdbath

How’s that for a Cracker birdbath?  I certainly was NOT gonna spend any $ on the flying pests…..  It’s hard to tell if it has had any effect as we’ve had more rain lately.

watermelon overview

Most of what you see here is watermelon vines. The white things are (mostly) the boundaries of the 4’x4′ little garden bed that I’ve tried to grow watermelons in for 3 years.  Now it’s really working!

watermelon3

You can see the next-to-biggest one here…along with the pecan sapling in the right foreground (grrr….).watermelon4

This one is growing upright because I put a couple empty tomato cages near the plants for the vines to ramble over.  I’ll be interested to see whether or not this one makes it to full size.

watermelon5

This is the smallest one and that’s my foot for comparison (I *do* have big feet).  I took this picture a couple of days ago, and this thing has almost doubled in size.

watermelon2

The midsize model….

watermelon1

These are the 2 largest.  I can hardle WAIT until they are ripe!  I adore watermelon. And there are more ityy bitty ones on the way…..

Now for more pics:

Gucci

Her name is Gucci and she is the very friendly pit bull next door.  We reach over the fence to pet her – she is VERY big but lovable.  I think she lives to hear our garden gate latch lift. And to bark at the cat.  Speaking of which….

Bluto 1Bluto 2

Bluto the Fabulous is STILL with us.  These pictures make him look really good; in person he looks like he has mange.

Sunflower petunia

I planted some sunflowers to keep the sun off the cucumbers.  Not too many sunflowers actually came up, which may be a good thing because the cucumbers seem to adore the sun….

other squash plant

The other squash plant – this thing is huge! So far no squash vine borers have found this. YAY!

Lest you think everything looks great:

garden bed 2

This is bed #2  in a sad state of neglect…which will get worse before it gets better.  I have great intyentions for this bed – really I do.

Boris and the daisies

Boris is so pretty….here “smelling” the daisies.  He’s not reallly enjoying their scent – he’s deciding whether or not to eat them.  If they were zinnias, they’d be goners.

eyes shut Boris

I’ve taken lots of pictures of the dogs…hundreds probably, but never have I gotten one with their eyes shut – til now.  I think it’s kinda cute.  The Force of Nature is kinda cute too:

the force of nature silly

I hope to post more tomorrow.  G’night.

A very merry echocardiogram to you

So, as I recently reported, I am wheezing and coughing worse and worse. In fact , on Friday it was SO awful while I was driving to Atlanta for the conference I was starting to get rather worried! I went to the doctor today and I had some chest x-rays (all clear) and will have a CAT scan and an echocardiogram tomorrow. Earlier this year, it was determined that I have a leaky mitral valve (aka a heart murmur), so this is to make sure that it has not gotten worse and causing all this wheezing and shortness of breath. I’ll keep y’all posted.

We had a wonderful time at the conference; my mother flew down to Atl from Virginia and we stayed together. One Human Family sang and that was really good. The Supreme administrative body of the Baha’i Faith, the Universal House of Justice, has called for 41 of these conferences around the world to occur during November 2008 – March 2009. The purpose of these conferences are to celebrate the wonderful things that have been happening in the Baha’i Faith and to encourage us to redouble our efforts as the condition of the world deteriorates. It was an amazing experience! I brought my camera and then forgot to take pictures most of the time (I have the cord again….but now have misplaced the camera. I *must* find a permanent location for this stuff.

….to be continued……..

Thoughtful stuff I think everybody oughta read

Howdy y’all.  I’m sick with a head cold – happy weekend.  Faugh.  So instead of my writing something good and groovy, I thought I’d share two articles that I really like because they provoke thought.  So read them and tell me whatcha think.

“You don’t HAVE to be pretty…..”

and

The Crazy Mixed-Up Fantasy About Thinness (Warning: there is some adult language in this article).

Many pictures under the cut (may not be safe for work; when in doubt, don’t LOOK)

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