Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another anniversary

G'day all!

It is a year today yesterday since I finished treatment for cancer.  A year since I last walked in for my zapping by a flesh-searing relativistic particle cannon (thanks, xkcd for the best ever comic!).


I remember being a little sad in a way - I was living by myself in Melbourne, I was seeing my workmates two days a week, and I was lonely and bored.  At least I saw people regularly when I was being zapped!


I also remember waiting for the weariness I had been promised to kick in.  Hello!  I am supposed to feel exhausted now!  Where's my exhaustion?  I was tired if I didn't get my sleep each night, but I'm always tired if I don't sleep enough.  I think that is fairly normal.  It's just I needed an extra hour or two.

But I didn't.  I felt better and better every day, though the "sunburn" got worse for the next week or so.  The chemo had knocked me around so much that the radiotherapy was a walk in the park in comparison.

(Hmm, this blog post took a lot longer to write than I hoped, like a whole day, because Chromium has some issues on linux....)


Anyway, it is a year and I'm grateful to still be here.  I've been reading the Occupy Wall Street Tumblr "blog" and I am really quite horrified.  I am one of the 99% but as an Australian in Australia (and I believe it would stand if I lived in New Zealand too), I get free healthcare.  Because my income is above a certain level, I have what Americans would call a co-pay on seeing a GP (primary care physician) but all of my chemotherapy, my operation and my radiotherapy cost me nothing.  Nil.  Nada.  Not a cent.  The anti-nausea medication and lotions I used cost me, but even the Neulasta and 2 X Emend tablets only cost $30 a pop and when I went on the dole (did I mention we have a welfare safety net too?), they only cost $6.40 for each script.  Each Neulasta shot cost my government somewhere around three thousand dollars.  Emend isn't that expensive but it is not a cheap anti-nausea drug.  If I was an American, I'd probably be dying right now.  (I may be anyway but I hope not!)  DH's job had just ended when I was diagnosed and we could not have afforded Cobra (extension of the work private health insurance after work stops paying for it) and we certainly could not have afforded to pay cash for my treatment.


So hooray for Australia, for taking care of its people.  I'm quite happy to say being on the dole sucks big biscuits - it only brings home a bit over $400 a fortnight and is a lot of work (unless you are signed off work like I was), but from what I read, a lot of Americans working full time don't bring home much more than that anyway.  Which also shocks me.  And here we get free healthcare when we earn so little. (People will argue that it isn't very good because they can wait two years for a knee operation or to get a filling done but that is better than never ever getting that work done or having to line up at a fairground and get treated in a horse stall surely?)

(Whoops, I just realised that pic is not straight...well I still like it)

OK, off the political pony now.

Next week it is my birthday.  And right about now would've been my parent's 60th wedding anniversary.  I remember their silver wedding anniversary and the bowl that the lodge gave them.  It was such a different world then.


Now that it is almost the next weekend, I have to say what a lovely weekend I had last week.  Nathan decided that I should have an early birthday celebration because some friends are going to be away for my birthday.  Even though he was under significant work pressure, he found a recipe online for a yummy GF/DF sticky date pudding and got the ingredients and would've made it except KB wouldn't let him cook it in her kitchen.  That was sweet of him and her!  And it was yummy (though the sauce was a bit sweet and gave a helluva sugar rush).

(This flannel flower was growing in some sandstone in the back yard of the house being warmed)

Saturday we had a housewarming up in Hornsby, which was very pleasant.  Nathan and I were the only Australian born people there.  The rest were adoptees.


(Sunset from the loungeroom of the house being warmed)

Sunday DH had breakfast in Balmain with some friends and then I joined them for a walk around Ballast Point (two separate links), which is technically in Birchgrove but eh, it's all Balmain to me on that peninsula.  It set things up for a very nice day.  But we still don't get the verse on the oil tank sculpture.  (The full thing reads, "Stone statues of ancient waves, tongue like dingoes on shore .")  Today's pics are mostly from that walk.


I wonder where we will go this weekend?  And what we will see there?  Exploring the harbour is fun :-)


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dodged one bullet...

G'day all!

Well yesterday we dodged one bullet, and got hit by another.  Nathan will be off to a funeral soon - his grandpa died.  Grandpa was old and tired and had had enough.  We knew he was on his last legs, and had pondered sending Nathan off to see him but a) not enough time and b) some work issues.  Nathan will miss him even though they only talked a couple of times a year and saw each other even less often.


(Why won't I be going to the funeral?  Because it is going to cost at least $500 per person to fly there and back, and OUCH!  I should go for the family but Nathan agrees that it is $500+ we could put on the mortgage...  Driving is out of the question as it is about 1400km/870m away and my car is small and old.)

So things have actually improved here over the last few days, despite Grandpa dying.  Thank heavens.  I am surviving the antibiotics (some give me dreadful side effects that you don't need the details of but not these ones so far, yes I am eating soyghurt every couple of days) and they seem to be working.  They must be working because I am much less crabby and much more full of cope, plus I've walked hmm, 9km on Monday, 2km on Tuesday, 6km yesterday....  by tonight assuming I stay awake long enough I will probably have walked another 5 or more kilometres and gone swimming (I hope).  I woke up a little early today - DH had a restless night and by the time he got to sleep again at 5am, I was pretty much wide awake.  My knitting continues slowly - the item is all in one piece so I will only have a few ends to weave in, hooray!  I also have some ideas for a quilt, particularly given my quiltalong group is getting going again after a rather long northern summer hiatus.

(Nasturtiums are pretty to look at but I have NO IDEA how people can eat the things.  Or doesn't the latexy sap permeate the flowers?)


Monday, October 17, 2011

Oh to be joyous

G'day all!

Well things continue on their craptastic way here.  It never rains but it pours.  We are expecting some not particularly happy-making news.  Once any and all of it happens, it will probably be a relief!

(I feel a bit like the harbour seal on the left of the pic - no matter how high I hike myself up, I just keep getting inundated)

I'm underinspired and quite frankly lonely.  In the last week, I've talked to my MiL on the phone and Nathan and to my workmates and bosses on the phone (thank you MiL and bosses for helping sort some of the crazy).  That is it.  I didn't really talk to anyone on Friday night because I was knackered.  It appears I have a pelvic infection.  I'm now on antibiotics and am regaining energy.  We usually have breakfast with a couple of Nathan's workmates on the weekend but we didn't have breakfast with either of them.  (Nathan had breakfast with some people he jams with.)

(Boom, crash!  NB the seals are not sitting on the rock that wave broke over.  Man that was magic watching those big waves come in....  I could have stayed there all afternoon watching them.  I love the sea.  I live only about 12km from the sea but central Sydney lies in between it and me...)

I am feeling underwhelmed by my social life.  I've talked more to this danged character in my head than to anyone else in the last three months.  He keeps surprising me.  At least someone wants to talk to me!

OK, whining done.

I have been knitting!  Alas my arm is puffing up quite a lot at the moment, but I am hoping it will calm down again in a few days...  I am knitting continental as my usual flicking technique appears to be annoying my hand.  I am a good girl, I am using some of the yarn I bought in the USA.  I do not have a pic of the knitting yet.  I've almost done enough of it to model.  With a singlet (tank) on.  No freebie views here!  Not without dinner, flower and chocolates first...

I was a naughty girl yesterday, I bought some fabric at Scroatfight.  But it was $3/m instead of $10-16/m...  I don't have plans for it, yet...  I also saw these (scroll down a ways) on Jane Sassaman's (fabric) blog and umm, well I only bought half a metre of fabric, just to play with, from Quiltsmith.  I've never had any real interest in hexies before but umm well those just blew me away.  Oh and did I say that it's not only knitting that is an issue for me?  Anything that makes me bend my arm 90 degrees or more (handsewing, knitting) does.  And bike riding, though my arm is straight.  Dangnabbit.  This blasted cancer has stolen a whole heap of things from me, and I am cranky with it.  I don't care about the chunk out of my boob but I do care about my ability to craft and do things that make me feel happy (knit, sew, bike ride, other things that I can't think of currently), and I do care that my plans to become A Lady Of A Certain Age with the blabbermouth to go with it may have been interrupted.  (OK, they certainly will be interrupted if I get run over by a bus tomorrow... but you may be able to sympathise anyway.)  At least I will soon turn another year older.  It is a year more than I expected when I was diagnosed!

(Is there a bright light in the future?  Is it an oncoming train or just Pigeon Point lighthouse?)

Today's good things.  I went swimming.  My ring fits my finger again, and I can almost get it on the finger it was designed to sit on.  (I made the ring what 12 years ago now... until the lymphoedema diagnosis, it always stayed on my middle finger.)  We bought a new fluorescent light tube and starter for the kitchen - the old one was talking to me in some form of morse code, only I don't know morse code, or maybe it was aliens trying to communicate.  Or maybe it was just busted (it hurt to have the light strobing.  It really hurt).  I walked at least 9km.  The weather cleared up after it poured rain last night and the forecast is lovely.  And it seems that summer is on the way a) 28C later in the week and b) it is starting to get humid on warm days.  27C and a few showers on Sunday.  Ick!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What a bumpy ride

G'day all!

Well what a fun time we are having at the moment.  Re-entry from the US has been super-stressful.  DH is having work issues that I am not at liberty to discuss.  They are impacting severely on him and therefore on me.

We had a fab weekend - BiL and SiL2b came up and we hung out and did fun stuff, going for long walks in Lane Cove NP and then up in the Blue Mittens (no longer mountains, thanks SiL2b!), and I thought DH was a little sorted.  But no.  I am truly at my wit's end with him.  I don't know what to do.

Hopefully I can relay more interesting and positive stuff soon, but for the nonce,


Saturday, October 01, 2011

Returning to base

G'day all!

What a whirlwind visit it was to the States!  Nowhere near long enough to do everything I wanted - I reckon I got about half of everything done....

Our flight home was uneventful - exactly how one wants it to be.  We nearly missed getting our bags on the first plane as we were slightly later than I wanted to be getting the car back to the rental mob, who had misplaced their end of the contract and then Nathan thought he'd lost his corporate credit card... but he hadn't, he'd just put it in his pocket after they couldn't find the contract....

One excellent thing about flying American Airlines out of San Jose down to LAX is that they codeshare with Qantas, so our luggage was checked right through to Sydney.  It meant we saved a good two hours in LAX, though that meant we spent two more hours sitting around rather than stressing our way through security.

We had a lovely not-quite-guided tour of LAX as we were driven from AA's American Eagle terminal to the usual AA terminal (where we got off thinking it was the end of the line).  We had dinner there at the Chili's.  Then we trawled off in another bus to the international terminal, and did not have to go through security again.  Hooray!

The bus trips were pretty amazing.  The bus trundles along by the runway, an active runway.  There's suddenly a roar and vvvrrr-rrrrow!  A plane takes off about 50m away.  On the first trip everyone was very serious (I wasn't, I made an aeroplane passing by noise, which I now realise is based on a plane I've never heard in real life - a Spitfire - and startled some people) but the second trip, the people on that side of the bus ducked and then laughed.  Like how helpful is it it duck when the plane is about to crash into the bus?   Anyway, you get to see all sorts of planes and activities and stuff.   Whilst I am in two minds about air travel - it is hellishly expensive on fuel and greenhouse impact but is really the only way to get halfway around the world in less than a day - I am still a bit of a plane freak.  Seeing an Air NZ 777 reminded me that I've met the man who designed its rudder.  Passing by an A380 (the plane we flew home in) underlines how massive these jets are.  The thing's got about 50 wheels for starters (ok, really only 22 can be counted in my pics) and outmuscles every other kid on the block.

I ended up with a window seat on the way home and oh bliss, noone sitting next to me!  (Nathan was in premium economy.  At least he didn't tell me all about the champagne this time.)  It is sooo much easier to get comfortable if you don't have to wriggle away from someone all night - I don't really want to snuggle someone whom I don't know or worse, drool on their shoulder...  At least a snuggle doesn't leave a mark.  Our bags took forever to appear but arrived before customs did a rolling stoppage and we were out and in a taxi on our way home within ten minutes of grabbing our bags!  Quickest time ever!  (It does help that now I know that wool yarn, whilst technically being an animal product/fleece is actually not what Customs/AQIS is interested in.)

I have lots of catch up posts to do.  At the moment though, Flickr is having a massage (really!  That is what they tell me) and I can't upload pics on it and can't be stuffed uploading them on blogger, so this is a pic-less post.