Archive for the 'beading' Category

03
Feb
09

February 3, 2009

Well, it’s only Tuesday, but already we’ve had more drama than necessary this week.

Last Thursday, I realized that I was coming down with a cold, so worked from home on Friday, and tried to take it pretty easy on the weekend. I already had plans for Saturday morning (a class on learning how to use my new sewing machine’s spiffy functions, which are indeed way cool), so I went to that.

Then on Sunday Carrie, James, Brian, and I went to brunch at Petite Provence on Division, which, not so coincidentally, just happens to be next to my most favorite bead store ever, Beads at Dusti Creek. So of course, we sent the boys home and spent a couple hours browsing and chatting – I really went to visit the ladies, because I haven’t been in for a long time, and miss seeing everyone. Sweet Calla was there, but sadly, nearly everyone else except for Eric, and most importantly Beau, were not. But we had a great visit with Calla, and Carrie found some great stuff for a new project.

I’m on a stash diet this year – I have enough beads, fabric for quilting, and yarn for knitting to last me for way more than a year (at least at my present level of output), so I’m only going to work from items in my stock. Of course, if I don’t have any findings, or need batting for a quilt, or don’t have the right set of needles for a knitting project, I will do what I have to do to make sure I don’t have a pile of UFOs on hand, but otherwise, NO purchasing new beads, fabric, yarn.

At any rate, I made it out of Dusti’s without actually buying anything, and oddly enough, without the usual “Oh, but just think what I could make with *this*, and it won’t be here the next time I come back, so. . .” temptation. It was fun to look at stuff, and I definitely saw things I would like to make projects with, but I didn’t even have to talk myself out of anything. Weird.

Of course, that might be because I wasn’t feeling up to par – my cold and left-over chemo side-effects from the last infusion on the 23rd had me pretty tired, and after I got home, I lay down for a two-hour nap. I had no problem sleeping Sunday night, either.

I woke up Monday morning to a pain in my calf, which lasted for a few minutes; and before that pain passed, my left lung all of a sudden felt like it was being compressed, and I felt like I was breathing through cotton. I could feel mild pain in my back underneath my shoulder blade. When I stood up I was a bit light-headed. Crap. These are similar symptoms to what I felt when I had my pulmonary embolism.

I called the oncologist, and, as I expected, he sent me to the ER. It was very busy, so probably the first hour was spent in the waiting room, although they did give me an EKG while I waited (sounds sort of like a service for the busy professional – EKGs and ultrasounds WHILE YOU WAIT!). Once I was in a room, they drew some blood and hooked me up to an IV. Annoyingly, they had to poke me in the arm rather than use my port, because the contrast agent they use for CT angiograms cannot be put through the kind of port I have. Apparently there is something called a “power port” that is specifically designed for taking that kind of abuse (hey – if a bloody plastic apparatus can’t take it, how are my precious organic VEINS supposed to handle it, huh?).

Another 4-1/2 hours and one CT scan later, the doctor told us that I had pneumonia. Brian and I looked at each other, pumped our fists, and yelled “woo hoo!” – pretty sad when having pneumonia is a good thing, but ya gotta admit that it is *much* better than a pulmonary embolism.

Even more exciting is that this means we don’t have to take me off the Avastin. It can cause bleeding problems (either clots or hemorrhaging in extreme cases), so if I’d had a PE, we would have had to stop it.

Finally got home (via Dairy Queen for my first meal of the day, and a consolation Heath Bar Blizzard) around 5 p.m., had a nap, read, went to bed. I’m on antibiotics for two weeks, and the doctor says I can go back to work by Friday. Of course, Friday is supposed to my next chemo, so I have a call in to the oncologist to find out if that’s still a go or not. I *really* do not want to delay the chemo. I want to get it over with!

I woke up around 2:30 a.m. this morning with an upset stomach and a killer headache. I got up at 3, had some broth and crackers, and sat in my recliner reading until 4. Since my stomach was better, but my head was still killing me, I decided to nap in the recliner for a while rather than go back to bed and risk waking Brian with my restlessness.

Around 7:30, Robin, who had been sleeping behind my recliner, started thrashing around, woke me up from a fairly sound sleep. I jumped out of the chair and went around to see what was the problem – he couldn’t stand up, his hind legs weren’t working. I calmed him down, ran my hands over his back and hind legs, but didn’t seem to have any pain reaction. Got him on his front legs, then lifted him onto his hind legs, and he was able to walk but not steadily – his rear legs kept collapsing. I got him over onto the carpet, and sat with him for a while, calming him down again, then tried standing him up again. It looked like it was mostly his right rear leg that was the problem.

I woke Brian up, who took him to the vet – they didn’t have an open appointment until 3 p.m. this afternoon, so Robin will be there all day. Since Brian has to go in to a client’s site this afternoon, hopefully our neighbor will be able to pick Robin up.

So that’s been my fun couple days so far. Woo hoo!

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27
Dec
08

December 27, 2008

We had a nice, laid-back Christmas – slept in, had a morning beverage of choice (coffee for me, hot chocolate for Brian), sat and enjoyed each others’ company. We started cooking dinner around 1:15 (ham, yams, green bean casserole). The only disappointment for the day was that we’d invited a friend over, but due to the snow and ice she wasn’t able to make it. We offered to go pick her up, but her neighborhood was completely unplowed, and she said we’d never get there in the MINI (I was game to try, but she was convinced, and so we have made plans to get together this weekend).

Since I got through the first round of cancer, and especially since the recurrence, I have started to feel oppressed by all the “stuff” we have. Back in July we did a major clean-out, culling things we haven’t used in a long time; we took a couple loads of stuff to Goodwill and sent a couple bags to the dump. There’s still plenty of “stuff” around (especially in my office), although lots of that is books and craft/art supplies (even after clearing out my yarn stash, I still have tons of yarn, ditto beads and quilting fabrics). At any rate, I suggested to Brian that maybe this year, instead of buying each other presents, we should spend the money on clothes (both of us are wearing clothes that are so old they’re starting to develop holes and frayed spots; although I think Brian is the winner – he’s got a couple items that he’s had for more than 25 years; my oldest piece, that I only wear once in a while, is a winter sweater from the early ’90s).

We agreed, and so this was a “presentless” year. In retrospect, I find that a lot of my joy in Christmas is in *giving* gifts, and I missed watching Brian open his presents. We did buy some toys for Robin and the cats, so we got to enjoy watching them open and play with the various catnip mice and the stuffed monkey. Robin was a little weirded out by the monkey in its tissue paper. He didn’t really like it at first, so he stayed away from it. After a while, though, he happened upon it when he was doing something else, and all of a sudden it was a cool toy – go figure!

For next year, we’ve decided that we will probably give each other a little present apiece, because it just doesn’t seem right to totally skip giving someone you love so much a gift on Christmas. In the meantime, I’m feeling another purge coming on – if only so that I can find the top of my desk again.

We had more snow on Christmas day – huge flakes that actually started to accumulate a little. Friday afternoon Brian shoveled the front walk again, although the temperature had started moving up and thaw was starting to set in. When we got up this morning most of the snow was gone, except where there were drifts deeper than six inches. Now we’re getting into normal winter weather for the area – rain and mid-40s.

I’m really enjoying being on vacation – I’m taking off all next week, to emotionally prepare for starting chemo again on the 9th of January. Right now, I’m working on some quilting projects and a knitting project. My goal is to get a lot of UFOs (UnFinished Objects) finished. Then I can start some more projects ;-}

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and are ready for the upcoming new year!

29
Oct
08

October 29, 2008

I’ve been dilatory in posting – my apologies.

Radiation is just over a third done. I’ve had 12 treatments out of 33, and up until yesterday evening, I haven’t really had any side-effects. I started feeling a little bit itchy, and when I got ready for bed, I saw that I’d developed a mild “sunburn”. I told Brian that I had a modified trucker’s tan.

The radiation oncologist had me start using aloe vera gel right from the start, but I’d only been using it once a day, and now she wants me to use it twice a day. Based on the itch factor, I think I’m going to use it three times a day.

One of the potential side effects of having lymph nodes removed so near the arm is that you can develop lymphedema – the lymph fluid collects in your arm because it doesn’t have as clear a path to get back out. Lymph fluid carries proteins, foreign materials, and cell detritus through the lymph system and the lymph nodes filter out the detritus – the fluid then passes back into the blood (this is a very simplified layman’s description – please don’t sic the Accuracy Police on me!).

When just the sentinel nodes are removed (i.e., the first three lymph nodes that carry fluid out of the breast), the risk of developing lymphedema is very small. Radiation increases the chances of it occuring, so the radiation oncologist sends all her patients to consult with a physical therapist to learn how to prevent it, how to recognize the symptoms, and if necessary, to treat it. I checked with my favorite physical therapist, and sadly no-one in his office does lymphedema-related work, but he referred me to one of his colleagues who does. I met with her last week, and she was impressed at how well I’ve healed after all the surgeries, and at the range of motion I have. After teaching me some stretches to help with muscles that have tightened from the surgeries and thus potentially could raise my chances of getting lymphedema, she measured me for a compression sleeve. I asked why I needed a compression sleeve now, since I had no sign of lymphedema, and she said it needed to be fitted when I was a normal size, so that if I *do* get it, they don’t have to guess by measuring the unaffected arm. OK, so I’ll have a compression sleeve that I hope never to need.

Let’s see – I don’t really think there’s anything else to mention, since mostly I have very long days going to radiation, commuting to work, working, commuting home, and not much else. Tomorrow night I am going to my beading group, and we’re making earrings to donate as Christmas gifts for soldiers in Iraq – there’s a group we’re donating through, but I don’t have the details yet. BTW, as far as I know, the intent is earrings for *female* soldiers, although I suppose they could really be for whoever wants some.

Oh yeah – we’re having our annual Games Party on November 8 – 26th Annual! I’m looking forward to it, although I suspect I’ll want a nap that afternoon to make sure I’m up for Midnight Party ;-}

07
Oct
08

October 7, 2008

The planning appointment for my radiation series went well, and quickly! They told me to plan on an hour to 1-1/4 hours, but we were out of there in 40 minutes. After my first appointment there, when the doctor was running 45 minutes late, I was prepared for the worst and so was pleasantly surprised.

The “mold” is actually something like a beanbag chair, only flattish; and the “beans” pretty much stay where they pushed them. So I lay down with my head and upper back on the mold, and the nurse had me put my arm over my head. Then two of them started pushing the beans around to conform to my body. When they thought they had it, they put a vacuum tube onto the mold’s nozzle, and sucked the air out of it. That firmed up the mold, and the beans no longer shifted around. After checking my position, they decided that it wasn’t quite right, put air back into the mold, and started shoving the beans around again. This time it was right, so then they moved me under the CT scan lights and started drawing on me, and placing metal stickers and wires on me. After the doctor came in and confirmed that the drawings were OK, they did the CT scan for the doctor to do her planning of angles, etc. They tattooed me (one dead center between my breasts, and one on each side under my arms).

My next appointment is Tuesday, where they’ll double-check all the calculations and positioning, and if it’s all correct, then I’ll have my first treatment. At that time, I’ll find out what my daily appointment time is.

I’ve been having a problem since last Wednesday night/Thursday morning with vertigo – I have BPV (Benign Positional Vertigo, which is due to small particles that form and float around in your inner ear, where they brush against the cilia and cause a sensation that you’re still moving after you’ve stopped). I had physical therapy a year or two ago that taught me how to move my head and body in a certain way to get the particles out of the inner ear, and have not had a problem with it until now.

This time, the movements haven’t helped, and I’m still having problems with the vertigo, although it has lessened significantly. I still cannot drive because I cannot turn my head quickly; and this evening riding home in the car, I started feeling motion sickness – I don’t know that it’s related, but I haven’t had motion sickness in a car except for once (at least in my memory). I called the doctor yesterday, and rather than check out my ears, he wants me to have a brain scan. When I told Brian that, he thought I was joking – I only wish I was.

Come on! This is getting ridiculous – why can’t we check out my ears first? I mean, really – I’m not having any other symptoms that might indicate brain involvement (headaches, blurry vision, seizures, peripheral neuropathy, etc.), and I have a history of BPV. Seems pretty straightforward to me!

At any rate, unless I have to go in for a brain scan this week, I’m free of medical obligations until next Tuesday. And I’m taking a class on Saturday, doing a loomwork bracelet. Matter of fact, that’s probably what I’m going to be doing the next couple nights, prestringing beads for the class. I’m also finishing up my chain maille bracelet from the class I took on the 27th. I’m getting close to finished, but I’ve been really focused on my most critical project, which is a baby afghan (and yes, the baby is already born, but for a change I’ll have the gift to her before she’s two months old. I think that’s a record for me ;-} ). I finished knitting the strips last Saturday, and am now joining them together and weaving in ends. I can carry that along with me on the train into work, and tonight I got a lot done while listening to the debate.

Of course, once all these projects are done, I’ve got a crib quilt to make, and a Christmas knitting project to work on. I suspect that I’ll be very glad I’m not going to start chemo until at least after Christmas, maybe not until after the New Year.




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