Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sitting on news

G'day all!

I have news! But I am not going to say what it is until it is confirmed. It is good news though.

Any guesses?

We are still throttled on our internet connection so I still do not have pics for you. Also it has been FREEZING (not literally, at least not where we live though it feels like it has been!) and I don't have any pics of anything modelled or even sitting on the crappy old couch outside. Yesterday it blew a gale, even though it was sunny, and temps didn't even reach 10C, today has been windy and rainy (wind still coming from the northwest though, sorta unusual for a rainy day) and again it hasn't even reached 10C. 9C and it feels like 5C - almost as cold as a fridge. BRRRRR! Plus it is still raining on and off after raining for something like 8 hours earlier in the day. The couch that I often use as a background for various items of clothing, etc, is soaked as the rain is coming from the north. Plus yesterday's wind was so ferocious anything not nailed down blew away and today it was just plain wet and miserable. Our water tanks are full as googs, the greywater diversion is off (ie going into the sewer now), we don't need any more water for the nonce!

There's so much that I want to do apart from sit at the computer feeling cold in our room with the little heater on, the big light (halogen lights are excellent heaters plus they give off a bit of light too!), my thermals on under my clothes.... I can get some knitting done but I have sewing to do too and the craft room is not heated. I want to go for a walk, more like a slog now - the chemo is really starting to affect my legs, energy levels are not so great but if I keep moving I feel much better. It is just hard to keep moving when it is really cold outside, even outside the study! Our hallway isn't long enough for a decent walk either - I'd have to march up and down a hundred times to get a 300m walk done and I think all the turning on the spot would hurt my knees!

In other words things are BRRRR! I've never lived in a weatherboard (clapboard) house that felt warm in winter. DH has been upgrading the insulation but we really need to fix the air leaks in the place and double glaze the windows and insulate the walls. All the windows need replacing anyway - they are starting to rot out. They were installed in 1959 after all.... Add it to the list!

I have knitted more handwarmers. Oh bottom - I just gave a pair away without getting a pic of them. I guess I'll forget I ever knitted them unless I get them on Ravelry without a pic (or change the colour of another pair of mitts to black using the GIMP). I am knitting more of the chemo queen crown. I really want to get the liner made for it so I can stuff it and work out how much more work I need to do on it. But that means sitting in the BRRR cold craft room.

My BiL (and sister) came around today and evaluated DH's plans for the kitchen area. He thinks it is doable. That is handy cos we are going to have to get a wriggle on with it. The news feeds into the need for getting a wriggle on.

(Edited to add...) Oh I am snippy now! I just opened a new (to me) brand of red lentils. I poured some into a cup to wash them (a first for me!). What do I see sitting on top?

A grain of wheat! It turns out that there were quite a few grains of wheat in the cup of lentils. I can't have wheat - it will make me sick. There was enough wheat to make me quite sick.

Did the packaging say anything about the possibility of wheat being in the product? AFAIK Oz food labelling laws say cross contaminants should be declared if they are a major allergen, and wheat is certainly a major allergen. (Maybe they should call it an allergen of interest?)

The company now has a very snippy email in their inbox, and I have to report them to the local council (even though they are located in another council's area - food safety in Victoria is the responsibility of the reporting person's local council. How dumb is that? Should be a central body).

Ok, time for me to get a wriggle on with clearing the dirty dishes from the kitchen and starting dinner (for the second time - so much for the lentil plan)! I might have to wear gloves to deal with the dishes - my poor benumbed fingies really do not like getting cold. It is hard to tell where they are numb from cold and where from chemo! I've never dealt with cold very well and at present I'm dealing even less well. (DH dealt with the plates, I did the non-dishwasher stuff, mmm, warm fingies!)

Just as well someone naughty bought some wool (yarn) yesterday, eh? Best get them needles flashing to make me something nice and new and woolly to wear before winter leaves us again. Suggestions? I think I'd prefer cardigans over pullovers (especially given I'll have some physical restrictions in how I can move my shoulder soon), something in a DK or worsted weight would be lovely. I have 1200m of one and 1500m of the other, I think.


Sunday, June 27, 2010


G'day all!

Another weekend is done. Stick a fork in it!

Umm, what did we do? Umm... well yesterday we annoyed the PiLs a bit, Nathan did some organ practice, FiL helped DH with some household stuff, had home made burgers with the PiLs, then today went to the "local" farmers' market, Nathan played organ (and presumably piano but not at the same time!) at the church, DH helped PiLs clear a spot for a concrete slab to be poured for the new water tank, lunched and dined at the PiL's, I knitted five handwarmers of assorted colours, but best of all?

We went on a steam train!

(But since I had forgotten today was train day I didn't take the camera, boo hoo! No pics until FiL downloads his pics.)

It was fun! I got to stick my head out the window and get covered in cinders! My sunglasses protected my eyes from cinders and from the wind. Lots of choofing. Lots of steam. An engine at either end of the carriages. It went mighty slow up some of the hills though - it seems that electric trains have a lot more oomph cos I don't remember any of them going about walking pace up the hills. It was just going to be MiL and me, but then Nathan came along. FiL took pictures. He couldn't resist the allure of the steam train. Lots of small children, of either sex, were very excited by travelling on the train (except for 2yo Luke cos even though he loves Thomas the Tank Engine, apparently a Thomas-type train is not the right sort and he wailed for the first 10 minutes of being on the wrong sort of train). Lots of big children of all ages loved being on the train as well, and there were almost as many women taking pics as men. LOL

It was the first time I've been on a steam train in umm, well let's just say I last went on a steam train when I was in primary (elementary) school. Now I have The Bug. There's a trip to Maldon coming up later in the year and if we have cash to splash by then, I want to go. LOL

Still no pics of things I've finished, like my Chemo Queen Bedjacket - someone forgot about it. Ahem. *blush* No pics of the many handwarmers either. Or the baby singlet that is finished. I do have a pic of the kitchen wall being de-plastered but it isn't that exciting and belongs on the sadly neglected house blog. DH wanted to see how the wall was made to make sure that when we do the kitchen renovation (ahem, when he and willing and able helpers do the kitchen renovation), we can actually pull that wall out with suitable steel reinforcement in the roof. The answer is we can - it has no cross bracing on it.

So now I have a naked wall showing off its noggins in the kitchen. How rude!

We are in the final countdown to getting the last chemo. Oh I hope my blood counts are good enough to have it cos I want to get better! I know it will really take me months to get better, to reverse the nerve damage done to my fingers and toes (and I am wondering if my croaky throat is related to it too?), to regrow my eyebrows and eyelashes (I so miss my eyebrows - they are so handy when I'm having a shower!), to regain the energy I had in January before the chemo started, but I just want to stop having poisons put into my body. I know that the poisoning is in the hope that I can survive this thing - it isn't a given that I'll be cured but so far things have gone pretty well. I can live in hope.

Before Friday though I have to finish my chemo queen crown (have all parts necessary, just need to get it done!) and probably another five or so pairs of handwarmers. If I can knit five in two days (when I'm not knitting alllll day, just a fair whack of it), surely I can get another few pairs done? Admittedly the crown will use up an entire day to finish it, get the jewels sewn on and make the lining (to hold the stuffing in). Plus I have to medical appointments and an afternoon booked with my sister to go to the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens. We'll see how I go!


Friday, June 25, 2010

10 years

G'day all!

It is 10 years since Nathan and I started going out, as we term it in Australia. My goodness, what a lot has changed since then, and what a lot hasn't.


Oh my. How young we both are - this pic is almost 10 years old, taken somewhere around the Otways (southwest of Melbourne, about 2 hours drive from the city). (Excuse the size of the pics - flickr has changed the way it does stuff and I have to work out how to resize them nicely, ie proportionately? Is that the word? I'll blame chemobrain for this little bout of aphasia. I guess I could always just use the calculator...)

I know Nathan is half out of the shot but this is still one of my favourite pictures of us. It was taken on a totally brilliant day in the Rocky Mountain National Park up on the Trail Ridge Road. We had lots of awesome drives around the Rockies (and one drive memorable for the sheer terror it inspired in me - you would not believe where I punted a very small car. (It probably only made it cos it was very small and hence had no overhangs - a longer car would've grounded a gazillion times). (My goodness, gazillion is apparently a real word - it doesn't get a red line under it!)

Saying goodbye to the Bay area with a last drive around SF and down the coast (ok, I lie - we also drove to Capitola the day before we sold the car....).

How did we mark the day?

Umm, well.... umm.... I cooked lamb shanks for dinner - gosh they are yummy! Brown an onion (and I threw a sliced up leek in too), brown the shanks, chuck in a tin of tomato (minus the tin - just pour in the tomatoes), some bay leaves, add a bit of water to cover the shanks, leave to simmer for an hour or so, add a couple of chopped up carrots (and any other veg you like - I steamed some broccoli and cauliflower rather than cook them with the shanks), leave to simmer until the carrots are of appropriate done-ness, season to taste and serve on rice. Mmm-mmm!

We didn't watch a movie together, or do anything together really except for get a bit snippy cos we are sharing the equivalent of a dial up link. As soon as one person starts looking at a picture-full website, the other gets no internet at all (despite how this sort of thing is supposed to work, which is all packets are created equal and my computer's requests are as important as his computer's requests). We will move to another provider as soon as we can, but it takes time and by then we'll have full on cable again. But given how quickly we chewed through our allotment, we'll need to move to an ADSL provider who allows us to watch iView (local tv station's internet feed) free.

Hopefully we'll be able to celebrate our wedding anniversary in style (though I should be getting radiotherapy then - I really know how to wreck anniversaries!).

I am hoping and crossing my fingers that the runny eyes, nose and croaky throat that I have are not a cold. A cold could land me in hospital. A cold could mean my chemo is not going to happen next week. I want that last chemo to happen - if it is delayed, it will ruin all my plans for the next few weeks. So I want to be healthy! My temperature has been pretty ok - it got a little higher than normal for a while but that could've just been I moved from a cold room into a warm room and had too much clothing on. I'm tired of croaking - I sound so like one of my sisters it isn't funny, though I normally sound like her anyway, so I guess it isn't surprising that we sound similar when we don't have voices.

In knitting news, I have just finished my Chemo Queen Bedjacket. Hooray! It has been hanging around for months, waiting for me to pull my finger out and get it done. Well all the ends are woven in and the buttons are on, now I just have to wait for good weather to model it. That might take a few days. (You might ask what about blocking it? Well might you ask but don't expect an answer. I haven't figured out how to block a knitted in the round cashmere/cotton blend jacket.) My chemo queen crown is well underway and now needs a bit of stuffing, a lining and the silver decorations on it. Plus I am hoping to knit a heap of handwarmers for the chemo nurses as a thank you. I have one knitted so far but none of the nurses are one handed. I guess I'll have to knit at least one more. I have plenty of yarn lined up in various colours - this is one advantage of falling for the curse of buying a ball of yarn at a time to "try it out." I get to use it for little gifts! I have the fun of knitting it without having to look after it. Yay!

Zzzz. Time for bed. It's been a long day.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Three years

G'day all!

Three years ago today we were winging our way to the USA. The start of a new job for DH. The start of a new life.

We only had five months in Colorado, and there were some really hard times during that period, homesick, lonely times, but we also had some great times. We saw beautiful places, met some really nice people... I had one of the best summers of my life (minus the stress DH was suffering).

(More pics from Colorado here and some of Fort Collins too.)

But that job came to a close somewhat more quickly than anyone anticipated. The company restructured and I realised why the locals looked at me as they did when I said who Nathan was working for. Pretty much everyone in Fort Collins seems to have been laid off by this particular mob, or their partner has or a brother or sister or good buddy.

I still wish that we had had more time there - we had started settling in and were ready to face a cold winter. We had a great place to live right by a creek. We had good neighbours. But the job disappeared and another job appeared on the horizon, but we had to spend a few weeks in Canada in the meantime, getting new visas and also being tourists.


Canada was totally grand, if a little cold, it being December and all when we were there. I'd go back in a heartbeat, though I'd like to see everything mantled in green (not just Vancouver and Victoria). More pics in this collection.

So we moved to California, where we lived for two years (less 18 days). We made good friends in California. I settled into a lovely lifestyle of doing pretty much what I pleased when I pleased. I could ride my bike around, doing shopping, or hop on a bus and go off to do more shopping, or (eventually) get in the car to go further afield.

And when we got our own car, we went further afield. We drove to Yosemite. (But in winter, so imagine a bit of snow on the surrounding mountains. DH was still wearing a tshirt at that lookout, I had thermals and the biggest fuzzy pullover you ever did see.)

We drove to the Grand Canyon and U-tah! (Pics from a number of the days can be found here.)

We drove to Yellowstone! (Illustrated by a pic of the Grand Tetons ;-)

But things that made a greater impression on me were things like the Campbell Farmers' Market. Egads, that was (still is, I presume) good! I'd trundle over with some cash and come home with $60 of vegies and fruit and flowers in my little red trolley.


Having a LYS 10 minutes away. By foot. Not having to drive there. Having lots of buddies there. Dragging along Nathan's interns before we go out for a meal. Dropping in for a chat and a bit of knitting. Can't beat that!

Being able to walk and ride around - yes we did choose our location carefully. Most things we needed were within a short cycling distance. Admittedly we are an easy ride away from good things here too but the local supermarkets are lacking somewhat in range for the sorts of foods I need. Now the local farmers' market is a 15 minute drive away, not a 10 minute walk (15 minutes coming home with a large load on board). And the local church does not have a massive pipe organ, alas for DH!

Having access to the latest and greatest (whatever) if we chose to take advantage of it. Even things like yarn and quilting material. Yes we have lovely yarn here too but our market is so much smaller that we don't have the variety available in the US (and why yes, I did bring various yarns home with me, I keep finding them tucked away in storage tubs and gloating happily over them). Quilting material here is different, often cheap fabric, and the Good Stuff (eg Michael Miller fabrics) is usually $20+ a metre.

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat, only if I was doing it over, I'd've started the mammograms a bit earlier - in Oz, they start screening at 50 not 40. If I'd started at 40, I would've not been in the current pickle (but I would've been doing it in the US). I'd still love to live in Europe for a year or two. But I like being at home with all the advantages of home (not the least of which is free or very low cost healthcare). This place will most likely always be my Home but I am happy to travel and experience other places.

America, you were grand. I wish I'd seen more of you, gotten to Portland (OR) and up to Seattle, seen more of the Rockies in full bloom and in snow, gotten to Maryland Sheep and Wool, but as it was, I saw a lot of your beauty. But my home is grand too and soon I'll be able to travel more and show off some of the local sights.


Monday, June 21, 2010

FO - Rufus annis

G'day all!

Today was one of those grand winter days, the sort of day that makes you glad to be alive. The sun shone all day long, the sky was blue, the breeze was light....

Perfect weather for a photo shoot for Annis (rav link with details), now known as Rufus, before he departs for his new home. You get lots of shots cos I was quite pleased with how they came out (thanks, DH, for the photshoot!).






See my hair? Yes there is really hair there - you will probably need to click through to a bigger pic to see it. That is regrowth. Honest. I hope once it gets a little longer and/or I get off the taxotere, it will thicken up some cos umm well, baldie babes rule!

Between the weather and lovely messages in my inbox, today was quite a good day :-)

It is winter solstice today, though there's less than a second difference between the 21st and 22nd, so tomorrow is sorta solstice too! I always try to get a pic of sunset and sunrise at solstice, though it isn't always possible - bad weather and/or being asleep tend to inhibit picture taking. Sunset today was not terribly exciting, though at least a couple of clouds showed up to give it a little oomph.



Saturday, June 19, 2010

A little play

G'day all!

I've been having a little play with things. I hope you noticed the new header! (Plus my travel blog has a new header too but given I haven't updated that in ages...)

Things are


here. I am still recovering from the events earlier in the week - I just don't have the bounce I used to. Everything takes more effort than it did. My fingertips (and toe tips) are becoming quite numb and I have a tingle in my lower lip. Plus my snoz has dried out and cracked. Je suis tres fatigue. Doing stuff online is fairly pointless cos it takes a while to do anything - I uploaded some pics to flickr last night instead of doing them whenever as I normally would. It's funny how I've gotten so used to having entertainment on demand and now?

I have to think about do I really want to open that webpage, do I really want to watch that youtube, can things wait for another 11 days until we have normal speed again? We will most likely change providers to someone who lets iView be a freebie but that will probably take a couple of weeks anyway... Mindful internet use! Most bizarre.

Anyway, if I don't swing by your blog, you know why. Sorry!

I've been working on my hexagon quilt, amongst other things.


Do you like my hexes?


I decided to go with pinwheel ones and normal hexes.


I didn't really like many of the other designs.

I'm now putting them together into strips. I think it will be really cool but we'll wait and see! It might be a bit of a devil to make it come out well as the triangles that form the hexes are exactly that - they are cut on the bias. This means they bend a bit here and there if I've not pressed them properly. We will see! I have fudged pretty much every quilt I've made so far, one way or the other. Why should this one be any different?

Guess I'll get back to it. Feeling a bit lonely and bored. There was so much support early on, when it was nice to know people were thinking about me but now it is six months down the track and I'm nearly done with chemo and now is when I have to put in the hard yards. This last lot of chemo has really dragged me down a lot. I'll probably bounce to some degree over the next week but yeah, it is now hard yakka time, just keep on grinding along. I keep reminding myself I won't always feel like I've been run over by a truck, doing simple things like cooking food or having a shower won't always require a sit down afterwards, the PICC line will be out in less than two weeks, assuming my next chemo runs on time... It will get better, I just have to be patient!



gG'day all!

Things are going to be rather dull around here for a while.

We have been enjoying watching programs on abc.net.au/iview. Y'see we don't have digital telly and don't get to see much of the tv as a result. We usually watch DVDs.

Anyway, iView has been fantastic.

So fantastic that we used up our whole month's broadband limit in 14 days.


We are now looking to change providers. Optus are not allowing iView as a "free" download. Other providers are. We'll change our home phone and possibly the mobile at the same time. It might mean our phone numbers change but well we'll just have to cope with that!

Optus were good at first - heck, they only had Telstra as their competition so it wasn't hard. but they've become progressively scabbier over the years.

Any locals with suggestions of who is good (nb they must allow iView as an unmetered download)? Also they must have good customer service. No automated customer service that brings grown men to tears in a minute or less (I believe I am talking about vodaphone here, may be wrong...).

I blocked my Annis today. It won't be mine for long presuming the recipient doesn't mind the smell of silk. I ripped out the chemo queen crown for what, the fifth time? I just can't quite get it working like I'd like. Plus I bought another ball of yarn for it cos it seems to be quite greedy.

Since we have an issue with our broadband and now are limited to dialup speeds, no pics for the nonce! I'll have to remember to set things up to upload overnight when we aren't using the link. Blah!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

A draining experience

G'day all!

Well what a fun week it has been!

I experienced the Australian emergency health system. More on that later.

Nathan has a full time job offer - it was part time but something changed in the funding (I think someone left).

One of our chooks flew over the fence and we haven't seen her for a day and nor have the neighbours. She is probably fox food now. We are sorta peeved but well given that their ex-owner highly disapproves of wing-clipping yet still gave us a chook that can fly about 5 metres high and well we are not sure how far but more than 15m in the air (ie an aerial acrobat in the chicken world)... We probably should've just clipped all their wings.

We've run out of bandwidth on our cable plan so I've got no new photos to share - we are throttled to dial up speeds.

So more on our health care system.

As I whinged in my last post, chemo and/or the anti-nausea drugs can cause the other C, the one whose name is whispered about in jokes about prunes. Constipation. There.

Well in my case, none of the standard remedies worked. I've never been so clagged up in my life. One shouldn't be in tears sitting on the floor cos it was the only way to even slightly control the cramps. At four pm or so, I ended up getting Nathan to drive me to the local public health system hospital, one with an emergency department, where he dropped me off, promising to come in later after finding a car park.

So I went inside and saw the triage nurse and alas I did not have a fever. Oddly enough the massive gut cramps that had driven me to the emergency dept disappeared once I got there. I sat with all the sick people (actually most seemed to be relatives/friends - everyone had to bring the whole family along or at least 3 support crew - dudes how about not clagging up the waiting room?) for an hour and a half. Nathan had disappeared. He had the mobile with him - I had expected he would show up sooner or later and hadn't grabbed it off him. I had intended to text people - we have texting credit but not phone call credit so we can SMS people and receive calls, just not make them.

At around six-thirty, they called my name and took me out the back. I was asked to strip completely (I kept my nice handknitted socks on) and put on a hospital gown. A rather tall nurse with the cutest ringlets cut at jaw length took my details again (checking I was the right person) and what was going on and inserted a line (he was most peeved cos the "lovely" vein he tried to skewer disappeared when skewered and he had to try a different one), took bloods, took my vitals, put me on a drip.... Half an hour later they wheeled me into my own room - not actually as an in patient, still in emergency. I thought I was special and privileged cos of the chemo - no shred wards for me! There I stayed for the next what 3 hours? I had a book to read and I was knackered, so I napped on and off. No Nathan still. But he did call though they didn't bring the phone to me. A doctor came in and examined me, asked me what I thought was wrong (I didn't think it was a bowel obstruction or twist, just chronic constipation with a nice fat plug at the end) and said they would take xrays to see what was there. At some point I was whizzed off in my bed to the xray room where a nice Kiwi radiologist took pics of my guts, and then I was whizzed back again. The hospital bed-trolleys are very smooth. I guess they need to be, as much for the driver as the person watching the lights go by...

Around 10pm MiL called at 10:30 to see what was happening (not much). I had a diagnosis - clagged through my whole colon! No wonder the little enema I tried hadn't worked. MiL and I had a lovely little chat and she said if I needed help to get home, just call, ANY time. I heart my MiL.

11pm I've finished drinking colonlytely (the stuff used for colonoscopy prep) and am promised an enema. Oh joy oh bliss! It was rather unpleasant going in - a bit burny and umm leaky. (You needed to know that right?) That was 11:10pm.

11:25pm - success! So much for holding it in for 30 minutes! And now I realised why I had my own loo. The one across the corridor from my room was in constant use. There was NO way I could've held the plug in! I had about 10 seconds warning - enough to leap off the bed, push my IV trolley into the loo and then realise that the loo door was wide open meaning anyone walking past my room would see me sitting there exploding. Also the hospital gown and no knickers? Very handy...

At 10 past midnight I had expelled the lot. Oh my. I had turned into a pumpkin! (and one particular part of me felt like a pumpkin too 8-) I was exhausted - I had been laying along the disabled toilet rail kindly installed in the bog cos I couldn't sit up any longer - but felt somewhat better, if a bit sore. They checked on me three times during that period.

At 3:30am I was discharged. They were concerned that I am neutropenic (I have a low neutrophil count which means my immune system won't be able to fight off colds and flus). Umm hello, I'm on chemo! It is expected that I'll be neutropenic. I'm supposed to see my doctor to get more bloods taken to confirm that I am neutropenic. I have a letter for him, I guess I should do as instructed....

Lovely MiL picked me up. I had to wake her up at 3am. DH had thankfully left a way for me to get into the house - he had taken my keys because they had the car key. It turns out he had driven home to get the chooks into their pen (the remaining chooks were in there), then he had tea, thinking he would come back in the evening, and then fell asleep at around 8ish.

My experience was positive. I learned a lot about how things work in the public health system from the patient's perspective. I was treated well by the nurses and doctors. I was polite and appreciative in return. I knew I was not an emergency emergency case - I was not gushing blood, I had not broken anything major, I was not in severe pain (at that point) or running a high fever but I needed hospital level treatment. It took a while to happen but they looked after me. And you know how much it all cost me?

Zilch. Nothing. Just some time.

I have felt so much better today. The colonlytely (love the name) is still removing itself from my poor battered guts but I think it is pretty much done. I'm not terribly energetic but I'm human and vaguely capable again. We got some shopping done and some car fixing done - Helmet has been playing up rather badly when Nathan was in him. My BiL's FiL-to-be loves playing with cars. He established that it was the fuel filter (as we suspected - that or the fuel pump) and a $3 part later, Helmet was fixed (we think). We have to replace a clip with a clamp on the fuel line cos there is a slow petrol leak but it is not a great problem beyond the pollution and fuel inefficency caused. It will be nice to have a car that does not lose power going up hills - he actually cut out today when we had just breasted a hill. In pouring rain. At least I was in the lane closest to the side of the road and we still had electrical power so the hazard flashers worked. I waited a minute or so and he restarted.

So things are better for the nonce! I am feeling very tired but ok and my temperature is good. It is freezing here today - a strong cold front blew through (Californians would call it a storm) with 100km/h winds. Whilst we were out and about we saw a couple of coppers pulling half a 20m high tree off the road - that was a good thing for them to do! It isn't actually in their mandate but the resulting accidents would be... Lots of trees came down near BiL's FiL's place including one that must have been as tall as a houseblock is long (given that it covered the whole road and all of a front yard - hope it didn't come down on the house!).

I hope to sleep well tonight. Just have to get dinner donner and have a wee bit of time for the indigestion tablet to settle...


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The other C

G'day all!

I had a lovely day on Sunday, saw much beautiful greenness (which freaked all of us out - we aren't used to our countryside being emerald green!) and did not get one pic of anything, cos someone was running late and forgot to take her camera....

My goodness, this chemo ride is an interesting thing. I am feeling quite well currently *except* for the other C. The C that hides its name. The C that we do not talk about in polite company, or even impolite company, depending on the circumstances....

So one of my anti-nausea meds is well known for clagging one up. Despite prunes, lots of vegies, senna, lots of water, I am clagged up to billy-o. My body knows what it wants to do about it - the waves of cramping tell me that! - but nothing is budging. It hurts and I'm exhausted. My appetite has disappeared. When I eat things, my gut rebels and says that was silly now deal with some more cramps. My poor gut has kept me awake for a good half the night for the last two nights that is how bad it is. I am running on about 6 or 7 hours sleep over two nights so I am not functioning that well. I tried lactulose, which last time got a result in less than half an hour (usual time is 4-8 hours). All that did was give me gassy windy worserer (not a word) cramps instead, like the IBS sorta stuff I used to get when I ate Bad Things (bad things for me at least - good things for others). I even ended up at the doctor's today, trying to find some relief. That relief, usually within 30 minutes of "taking" said medication, has fizzled out for me. Alas, it seems I have a hard (ahem) case.... I guess I try again tomorrow after yet another night of interrupted, crampy sleep.... and then I go to the hospital and beg them to dig it out!

Since I am 100% knackered, there's not been a lot of knitting. I've knitted and ripped my chemo queen crown what four times now? I now know what to do but have no energy left over after resisting the awful, awful cramps. I did manage to get a little cutting and sewing done earlier in the day. That was for my hexagon quilt - it is going to look quite nifty I reckon :-)

Thanks for all the suggestions about moisturisers. I ended up getting some Cetaphil today, not that anyone recommended it but it came closest in my reqs in my short time at the pharmacy. There's a more "natural" moisturiser I can try but it is double the price and has a lot of smelly extracts in it. Oz is well behind the US in its cosmetics labelling laws - here we don't have to disclose what ingredients are in the product except for any active ingredients and some of the preservatives.

Here's to tomorrow. May it be a better day!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

One to go

G'day all!

Well I'm still here! Still waving!

With the new chemo I'm on, well it is old chemo now - three are done - I thought we'd be in and out of the hospital in no time. There's only one infusion and it takes a bit over an hour to do.


Best laid plans and all that.

10am appointment.

11am rocks around and they've only just got my blood test results - they had to ring. All ok, off we go!

12pm. Still waiting for my chemo. Only one pharmacist makes it up and mine was delayed because they didn't have the bloods so I lost my spot in the queue.

12:30. Here it is, off we go! (2pm finish - still four hours at the place! A nice time to catch up with an old friend - hehehe, she is after all nearly 3 months older than me!)

In the meantime, my chemo nurse for the day, Linda, is looking at me. "Are you normally this jittery?"

"Not this jittery - a bit, I can be, especially at a hospital... I'm totally wired on dexamethasone." (and I was - I blather and blather and can talk the leg off a donkey or a micmac (lovely chatty friend), and I jitter and my face is bright red, I feel as dry as a chip, etc etc.)

"Hmm..." she says and chats with the pharmacist.

"No more dexa. No pre-med. We'll give you an infusion with your next chemo."

Interesting! The dexamethasone has several roles. One is to help prevent bloating/ascites/water retention. Another is anti-nausea. It settles down inflammation. There's probably other things it does too. But I am special, with a capital SPESH, and Linda was clearly concerned about how jittery I was. I've already complained about the dexa. I've noticed my heart rate goes up 20-30 beats per minute and I tend to keep my heart rate up longer if I exert myself (and not just because I am unfit now - it only happened on the dexa). I've noticed weird things that I think are more the dexa than the chemo - now I will find out!

Anyway, I'm still here, still alive, starting to have the side effects kick in.

BTW, if anyone knows of a good, cheap skin cream that is
* fragrance free,
* paraben free,
* wheat germ oil free,
* oatmeal free and
* cheap, oh and
* available in Oz,
please let me know. I can get 4 out of 6 but I have not found anything that has all six criteria. My skin is getting to be totally awful, mostly on my hands from all the washing but the rest of me is drying out like that chip I talked about earlier.

I finished the little shawlette I was working on. Must block it and get pics. It was so quick - I knitted half of it today. I've got heaps of yarn left over too - it might not even qualify for the 10 in 2010 shawls project on Ravelry (250m+). More on it later!

I've started another baby singlet, having not finished the first one. First one is awaiting one seam and two armhole facings. But really I have to finish my chemo queen jacket - it has languished a bit mainly cos I've been horribly distracted by shawls). Also I have to knit a chemo queen crown. I need it for my last chemo. I am then going to gift it to the chemo unit - when I mentioned it, they got all excited. I figure if someone has gone through months of treatment, they deserve a little silliness for the last one! I have the yarn, I just have to work out how to make it. Plus I want to knit a heap of handwarmers for the chemo nurses, as a thank you. They have been lovely, particularly the ones that actually do the infusions. It takes a special kind of person to work in such a place. They work hard and they really care about the people they are looking after.

Tomorrow we are going for a drive. MiL is picking us up and we are off to Heathcote, on the northish side of Melbourne for a winery tour and pub grub. It will be pleasant to get out of the city. Hope my side effects don't kick in too much - I'm finding I run out of steam by about 2-3pm. However I don't have to drive, I just have to sit there and enjoy the ride and the views :-) Should be good! And if I am up for it, I can go with MiL to Kuranga on Monday. (DH wants to do work around the house though but I am not much use for that when I am all sore and unenergetic and crabby.)

Time for beddie byes. Gotta be up bright and early in the morning - we leave at 9am!


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

New girls

G'day all!

It's been a busy week! The week before chemo always is busy.

Family dinner on Sunday night.

We got chooks!

No, no, those chooks will never lay cackleberries!

How about these ladies?




(There's four and they were free. Two wouldn't pose for pics at all. AFAIK these are pretty useless chooks for the sort of thing we want them for - two look very much like Old English Game and two, the ones in the singleton and twosome pics, are crosses. ie they are not egglaying chooks. Given we can't afford to feed things that just scratch the dirt up, eat our plants and slugs and snails, and provide chook poo... You might say the cats are even more useless but at least the cats like to talk to us and sit on our laps and snuggle a bit - we might be their slaves but there is a relationship between us. Of course the chooks may end up feeding us...)

Cheshire sez, wistfully:
Very large birds! How do I get into their pen?

Tuesday, hmm, Tuesday I think I did a lot of sewing and stuff even though the room is cold. It has been awfully cold here - a strong cold front hit and brrr! 12C top temps. I also finished off Yet Another Chemo cap

Stripy cap

and the baby pants

and worked more on the baby singlet - I never realised how long it takes to do single crochet edging (double crochet if you are american) of such a small item...

and started Annis (which is the KAL for this month on Scary Lace/Beginning lace knitters on Ravelry). I was totally amazed that I had the same brand of yarn used in the pattern - I never have "the right" yarn. I usually knit with whatever I can find that is similar that is in my stash. Or I spin the yarn.

And I started a new shawl that is part my own design and part slurps of that of other people. You will see it in a while - so far there is even less than Annis of it.

One of my friends took me out of a drive yesterday (Wednesday). It was fab! I thought it was going to be awful cos it rained and rained and rained and rained before we left and then it cleared up and was sunny. I didn't take the camera cos I thought it would be woeful (and I forgot - chemo brain? or just me?) and it was *lovely* Truly lovely. I don't remember the area behind the Dandenongs looking so green or the dams in the paddocks so full or anything. It was lush and green and wonderful. Hope we get good wildflowers this year :-)

Before the drive I had to go to Centrelink to lodge my dole form. I had to queue, standing up, for nearly half an hour. They used just to take the form, check the info on it quickly, stamp it and off you went. Now you have to talk to someone. Very inefficient. (But from next month I can do all my reporting online.) I sat down for a good 10 minutes of the queuing. It seems I can't stand up that long any more. Doesn't surprise me cos the fatigue is starting to hit. This current chemo is knocking out my fingertips and toe tips and my thighs - all very typical. It means that walking is like slogging through mud, running is pretty much out of the question (I keep rediscovering this when I have to nip across the road - my nip is more like a waddle) and squatting and stair climbing requires effort! Knitting hurts my fingertips a bit but I am not giving it up cos of a little bit of neuropathy! Anyway, because the lodging took so long, Nathan was late to his weeny contracting job. Verra annoying.

Today I finished off the siggy blocks for a swap:

(took nearly four hours! Just to sign 50 blocks, resew a few, sign them, make sure they were square, iron them to set the signature....)

Got my bloods done (poor veins. At least the lady today skewered me well so we got enough lovely dark rich venous blood - better be good stuff still! Don't want my chemo to be delayed for any reason...). I said to the phlebotamist that I was dying for me chemo to end, then suggested maybe not *dying*, can't wait for chemo to end. I only have to go back to her once more I hope!

Attacked the hole in the wall and discovered I got paid $210 by Centrelink - HOORAY! I have to wait another two weeks before I get the next pay, which probably will be reduced cos Nathan will get paid I hope for the contract he is working on at present.

Went to the post office and sent off the siggy blocks (hooray! Another responsibility off my shoulders).

Went to the supermarket and bought some foody bits. Hopefully I am all set for chemo and the hammering I'll take over the weekend and early next week.

Went to Kmart (cos I am cheap) and bought cheap large slippers that can go outside and don't hit me on my poor sensitive tootsies (men's cos women's are too small) and a pair of lace up women's boots that are too large and also don't tap me on the toes. $8 and $25. Cheap shoes, but ones that can be worn outside. My current slippers are indoors only and it is peeving when you just want to pop out to the letterbox or the chooks and have to put your runners on. Plus I got a cheap stainless steel pot so I can do some dyeing.

Now I am hyper on dexamethasone. Whee! Hope tomorrow brings my second last chemo (EVAH?).


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Where's the cheese?

G'day all!

Thanks for commiserations. Yep, it's my blog and I'll whine if I want to (you would whine too if it happened to you!).

(1. Longer blonde. Not really that close to my usual lack of hair style but the closest of all the wigs)

Mr Laptop is up and running again. I have my Best Friend back. I kid you not, I've spent more time with this computer over the last couple of years than I have with any person, including DH. Without it, I feel sorta naked, just like someone who wears their watch all the time and then takes it off to do some messy job or something. I don't know what I'll do when it dies. Cry and give it a decent burial at a recycle shop. This little box is my Way Outta Here. Without it, things get very dull very quickly, even though I have plenty to do. I have lots of hobby stuff, there's always something that needs cleaning or scrubbing around the place, there's cats to entertain me.

And y'know what?

(2. Auburn)

Some days I just don't have the energy to get a whole lot done. Like today I went to the farmers' market and trawled around there buying some meat, lots of vegies, some coffee for DH, a tub of strawberries (which I now have to process). After that I was hammered! I felt like I'd just been on a long bike ride and all I wanted to do was sit down. All I still want to do is sit down. My shoulders and neck hurt from dragging the shopping cart around for a whole hmm, maybe half hour. But I need to make some chicken stock and put away all the shopping that I bought 4 hours ago. (I did put away the stuff that really needs to be kept cold, like the meat and milk - the rest is staying at room temperature, which currently is sitting at maybe 15C but more like 12C - 50sF.) And deal with the massive mountain of strawberries I bought. Yep, I bought another big tub of strawberry seconds. I figure the chooks will enjoy the hulls.

(3. Longer dark)

So I sit down and trawl around the net, looking for nice, easily digested fluff. icanhazcheezburger, fail blog, FML, all these sorts of little fluffy sites hit the spot for me. I normally love technical, thinking blogs along with the fluff but currently it is fluff all the way. My brain fries on the hard stuff. Looks like chemo brain and fatigue are kicking in! Thank heavens in four weeks I will be on the road to recovery from my last chemo (touch wood!).

(4. Highlighted brunette. That's different to the previous one, honest - it has highlights in it that looked truly rancid on the girl next to me whilst the plain brunette looked stunning on her. And I didn't take a pic of the short taupe wig that I tried on - I looked like putty in it but the darker skinned Muslim lady next to me looked totally stunning in it.)

Any suggestions for more fluff? DH showed me walmartpeople yesterday. The mind simply boggled at some of the pics.

(5. Strawberry blonde)

Speaking of where's the cheese, do you like the pics I've scattered through here of me in different wigs? I look surprisingly good as a redhead, or at least with auburn hair. The blondes are too light I think. Apparently I am not that blonde. (Though currently, I fit the stereotype in all bar the amount of hair I have. LOL) Lots of cheesy grins from me - I know that without a big grin I am umm, well, not exactly pretty in photos. I might have cheekbones, etc, but I'm not photogenic. I think I look better in person whilst some people totally glow in pics and are eh in person.

(6. The Tina!)

Which colour hair and style do you think I look best in?

If I had enough money for postage, I'd run a contest and pick a winner. But currently we have enough to buy food for the next three weeks. I hope Centrelink comes through for us. DH does have a little contract at present but it is only very part time and until he completes the work, he won't get paid (and even then he has to wait for the pay cycle to finish). I've got some yarn from older dyeing efforts that I'll dig out and offer for sale again. I've got a couple of tubs of the stuff and some lovely top for spinning as well. It won't be much but it will cover some bits and bobs if anyone wants it! I'd rejoin the guild and sell some of my handspun through them but umm that means coughing up about $60 and I'd prefer to spend that money on feeding me or buying medications.

In knitting news, I am seaming up a pair of baby pants then I have to knit the top of a baby singlet (tank) and seam it, and I'm having a bit of startitis with some shawls, arguing with myself about what pattern and what size needles to use (4mm needles and true laceweight, getting to cobweb weight makes a too open shawl for my liking, 4.5mm needles and semi-woollen handspun is too dense). Plus I have nearly finished Yet Another Chemo Cap for me me me! But I don't have pics cos until about half an hour ago, the weather here has been pretty average over the last few days. We got almost 20mm of rain yesterday, mostly when Nathan and FiL and a friend were working on the chicken coop. (Chickens are arriving TODAY! Alas they are arriving at the same time as we will be at PiL's being fed dinner, or at least being provided with dinner - I think I still have the energy to lift a fork to my mouth!)

(7. Short blonde)

Quilting? I'm working on my hexagon quilt. I sewed up some more half hexes and whirlies. I'm now just waiting waiting waiting for Jaybird to blog the putting it together post so I can put my quilt top together, work out a backing for it and then relegate it to the Too Hard pile (where I have two or three other quilt tops lurking with their backings, just waiting waiting waiting for their turn to be basted and quilted). Also I'm working on blocks for a siggy swap - I am at the point of neatening up some squares and signing the things. I've signed two so far, only another 99 blocks to go! Yay!

Looks like the weather will be a little better over the next couple of days so I might have some pics of FOs to show you. Won't that be nice?


Thursday, June 03, 2010

A bit lost

G'day all!

I'm feeling a bit lost and lonely at the moment. It is weeks since I saw any friends - they were sick, this week I have a low immune system and shouldn't go out much. It's been months since I did much - a couple of weeks ago a lovely Raveller from California took me up to the Dandenongs with her Aussie friend (so nice to get out of the house and me not driving was even better!). The last time I went anywhere before that was in March. I'm not used to having to hang around home so much. Even on my good week(s) I still either don't have an immune system to speak of or I don't have the stamina to drive very far (and DH can't drive the car easily cos it is small and he is large and looks like a grasshopper behind the wheel). Gibbering is taking me out on Wednesday (cross fingers) so that will be good.

Plus today I knocked a glass of water over on my laptop. I am pretty sure it survived the dousing as I frantically wiped water off it and hit the power button to do an emergency shutdown. But it means I don't have my usual files and stuff cos I am using the gateway computer to do stuff and it doesn't have my stuff on it.

Then I logged on to online banking to get our account balance and statements and stuff so we can take them to Centrelink tomorrow to claim the dole, and I nearly had a heart attack. We are pretty much skint. I wish I had rung them a month ago when I knew that no jobs were likely to turn up, no real jobs at least, and before our savings were gone. Doesn't really help that I've had to pay nearly $500 in bills in the last week. Also, I still haven't paid the footy club membership and for some reason that is important to me and I really want to buy in again - I have been a member for all bar one of about the last 20 years. People have offered us loans but how can you take a loan when you don't know that you can pay it back?

All in all, I'm feeling a bit lost and lonely. I thought we'd be ok coming home. Then I was diagnosed with cancer and all the jobs that Nathan was a "shoo-in" for fell through cos he wasn't the shoo-in that Everyone said he was and suddenly I am reduced to whining on my blog.

I think it is time to go eat some So Good and try not to cry in it. I am not sure it is so good but it is certainly hitting the spot as far as I can tell, given I've got little in the way of a sense of taste. It feels nice in my mouth and smells good. Yes folks, I've found an "icecream" that is tolerable - I just had to look in the right supermarket. Thanks for the suggestions, btw, I shall take some of those up! We do have an icecream maker but it is substantial effort to make sorbet even and I'm not always up for effort. (Oh how the mighty have fallen, though I did ride up to the council offices to pay the rates and then picked up books at the library and dawdled home.)

Hopefully tomorrow I can put the laptop back together and it will be fine and I will have my own computer back rather than using DH's account.... Hopefully we will get the dole - I presume it will take a couple of weeks before any moulah comes through and we have enough for that I think. Hopefully something will start going right regarding our cash flow problem. And maybe I'll feel like the Nut looks in the photo tomorrow.



Wednesday, June 02, 2010

One month

G'day all!

Today is the second of June. (Second looks wrong but it is correct. I think. *blush* I'll blame chemo brain.)

All going well, that means in 30 days I will be having my last chemo infusion. Oh please hurry oh days! I am over this!

So I'd best pull my finger out and finish my chemo queen bedjacket, shouldn't I? Otherwise it won't be a chemo queen bedjacket.

At the moment it looks like this:


The sleeves are done, but the body has quite a number of rows to go. I've managed about another 8 rows in the last few days but I've been horribly distracted by a baby outfit for a friend who is about to pop. Only silly me is making the outfit in 4ply (fingering weight) cotton and it is taking FOREVER to do. Rather like the chemo queen bedjacket.

Plus I have startitis and want to get the next shawl on the needles, but I really need to finish either the baby outfit or the bedjacket first. Only they are not for entry into a show. And then there is the chemo queen crown for my last infusion.

Decisions, decisions!

Yesterday I went along to a Look Good, Feel Better session. This is an initiative of the beauty industry to help us poor suffering cancer patients look nice by applying lots of crud to our faces. We did makeup and scarves and wigs. I got some nice makeup but jeez it whiffs. Why do they put so much steenky perfume in the stuff? I have not worn makeup, proper makeup, umm, hmm, probably since my wedding. That is nearly six years ago! I discovered it is hard to apply mascara to the approximately 20 eyelashes I have left. I kept wiping it on my eyelid instead. I took pics of me in all sorts of wigs but, ahem, have not yet downloaded them. I shall! It is amusing seeing what I look like in some badly manicured wigs - they don't look so good after being dragged from pillar to post. But they are still amusing. One very short wig I tried on made me look like putty - really ill - and did not suit me at all. The lady next to me, with her darkish skin, looked fantastic! It really suited her. I looked surprisingly good in auburn wigs. Always wanted to be a redhead if I was not blonde... I am still contemplating getting a fringe or a halo (friar tuck). It would be nice to have hair sticking out from under the hats I wear. I also discovered why my head looks naked even with a hat on it - the caps need some height.

I've discovered another side effect of the chemo (taxotere). Red, blotchy, swollen cheeks like I've been slapped. They are prickly too and quite sensitive. For most of a week after chemo I have a red face (thanks, dexamethasone!) and a couple of days later this shows up. I saw the doctor yesterday cos we are finally breaking down and going to Centrelink to get the dole. (Note that DH currently has a part time contract and has been offered a part time job but the contract is very short term and the job won't be happening just yet and we are close to stony broke.) I need a medical certificate that effectively exempts me from having to job seek whilst I'm getting treatment. The doc said "side effect" and "nothing can be done." I rang the BC nurses this morning and they said "side effect" and "nothing can be done." So now I've got red blotchy puffy cheeks. I am slathering them with moisturiser and using sunscreen (as always!) and hope it will go away.... But if it doesn't, hopefully it will clear up by August along with the other chemo happy happy joy joy making stuff. That is only two months away. (Yikes! Where's the year gone?) I wouldn't care if they were just red, or even red and blotchy, but red and blotchy and puffy and sensitive and burnies is sorta annoying. I can't see red and blotchy but I can feel puffy and sensitive and burnies and pricklies. (Why yes, I am the person walking down the street with a big smear of something on her face. It might be food, it might be a pen mark, but I'm that person.... OR I may have gribbled some of my lunch on my front.) Oh, the blotchies are not related to the makeup session - I had them before then.)

Winter has begun in Melbourne. Not that the weather is indicating it, well only by temperature. We'd like a bit more rain - it's been quite dry recently. (We apologise to our fellow Melburnians - we did put a few plants in out the front yard and thereby stopped the nice April and early May rains.) I know that out east and in NZ, it has been rather wet indeed but not here. Plenty of leaves left on the trees too - I guess they are hanging on to them for as long as possible.

(Argh, poopy! Nathan has been tutoring a chap who desperately wants to pass a certain course so that he can graduate. I've been carefully staying away from sick people - anyone with a cold or the flu can stay away from here and from me! Makes life very dull, admittedly, but better safe than sorry! So guess who came here for some tutoring and then revealed he has a cold? Nathan had best not get it cos I will definitely get it and that will almost certainly mean a spell in hospital - this is my low immune week....)