Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Wayback activated

I don't think I ever wrote about that awful day back in August 2014, when my (worst? hard to say, other issues might be more dreadful) nightmare was confirmed.  For two years & maybe a few months more prior to Aug 2014, I had been complaining to my primary care physician of a severe pain in my ribs, which kept me from being able to go to sleep in spite of excess use of over the counter pain meds.  I was still working, trying to go to bed about 9 pm 'coz I had to get up at 4:30 am.   I'd climb into bed, tired & wanting to sleep, and most nights wound up crying myself to sleep at about 11 pm.  I was hurting bad.  I think exhaustion carried me off most nights.  The pain med would kick in (finally!) and I'd sleep for a bit.  Most nights I woke up again in pain by about 1:30 - 2:00 am, and just try to lay there with my eyes closed until the alarm sounded.  This occurred about 5 days a week, whether I was working the next day or not.  Every time I saw my doctor I had this complaint, and it progressed from just a few ribs in my upper left chest, to the left shoulder and back, and even into the right ribs.  This quack doctor of mine heard these complaints from her patient that had had a left mastectomy due to cancer, for two goddamn years, and never ordered any imaging or blood tests that might have given her a clue.  She tried to tell me it was costochondritis, an inflammation of the tissues between the ribs.  She tried to say it was arthritis, which I do have a touch of in some of my joints, but never have I had it hurt as much as this unnamed condition.  Then I started having a good bit of fatigue.  June 2014 I would often come home from work and go straight to bed until suppertime.  On June 10, I was soundly asleep (blessed sleep!) when the bedroom ceiling collapsed onto me.  Our crappy little house attacked me.  Water had come in a gap in the facing, and collected in the attic until it soaked through the ceiling.  I woke up screaming and thrashing, thinking I was being attacked (yep), the family came crashing thru the door to rescue me.  I had the lamp on by this time, and could not figure out why I was all wet.  I don't recall who told me to look up, but there was a huge hole and water pouring out of it.  Fortunately, there were enough covers on the bed to keep the mattress from being soaked, but we had to tarp it and the Plaidman & I had to go sleep in a motel that night.  I did not think I was actually hurt, but later developed some pain and stiffness in my neck which took me to Dr. Clueless' office on the 13th.  I did not even see the doctor, but her PA examined me by putting her hand around the back of my neck--no imaging.  She diagnosed a slipped disc, gave me a script for steroids and a muscle relaxant.  I was advised to follow up if I wasn't better in 10 days or so; I called on the 10th day and requested (by voicemail) a referral to an orthopedic physician.  I got a call back stating that the doctor would authorize some physical therapy for me, but she didn't think I needed to see a specialist.  OK..I went to the therapist, whose first question was "How did the doctor determine that you had a slipped disc?"  I said the PA diagnosed me by feeling the back of my neck.  He looked at me like I was crazy.  "No imaging of any kind?", he asked.  I had to say nope, no imaging at all.  Then he had to call the doctor's office to verify that.  I did get some physical therapy, but it didn't help me much.  Meantime, I'm still going to work, still not sleeping much, still getting more and more fatigued.  Two weeks and about 5 therapy sessions later, I just could not do another session.  Because it was a Friday, I felt that I had to stay at work for the whole day.  I was pretty wiped out by the hour-long commute home, and went to bed (we'd done some work to keep the attic from dropping down for a visit).  I woke up needing the toilet, got out of bed and as far (all of 2') as the doorway, and was holding onto the doorframe when I felt something POP and a severe pain in the middle of my back.  If I hadn't been holding onto the doorframe I would have fallen.  I give a shout and Disco comes running; I asked her for my cane.  When she brought that to me, I had her hold up the other side of me while I tried to get into the bathroom.  After sitting there a few minutes, the pain diminished somewhat.  Plaidman was out getting some takeout dinner for us, and when he got back I ate (KFC).  Then I had a very hard time getting off the couch, and the pain became worse again.  The two of them practically carried me to the car, and we went to the hospital in Springfield.  They did a CT scan of my abdomen.  Two doctors came to the exam room to give me the findings.  There was no sign they could detect of abdominal injury, but there were masses along most of my ribs.  They reviewed my history, told me they could not diagnose from the info they had, but that I should contact my oncologist at the earliest opportunity.  I thanked them, and they left.  I took off my glasses, laid them on my chest, put my hands over my face and just bawled.  Why, Lord?  Why again?  Disco practically teleported herself around the gurney to hold onto my arm and tell me that I'd beaten this before, and could do it again.  A nurse came in, with a prescription for pain med of the opiate variety, and told us where there would be a pharmacy open at that time (it's about 11 pm).  The family got me into the car again, we found the pharmacy open, I got a soft drink and a pill before we took off for home.  The next day I had a call from the ER, saying that the Imaging dept Director had reviewed the CT scan, and wanted to get an MRI.  So we go back, and try to go thru Admissions, but they have no record of any order for imaging.  We go home.  We got a call, saying no, you must come thru the ER for the dept head's ordered MRI.  We go back to the hospital, and I relate the story of my neck pain and the fact that no imaging was done.  SO, now I'm to have a very long MRI session to examine the middle of my spinal column, and my cervical vertebra.  The findings are pathological fractures of C7 and T7.  I have lost an inch of height.  Fortunately, both fractures are stable (despite the physical therapy for my neck!), and I don't need to be hospitalized.  My doctor called me sometime Friday and left a voicemail to tell me I had an appointment with an orthopedic specialist later in the week, which I kept even though by that time my problem was a whole lot worse than just a stiff neck.  After hearing about the hospital visit, and getting the MRI report, this doctor ordered a whole body Xray to look for other masses.  And found them, all up & down my spine, in one hip and femur, all over my ribs and both shoulder blades--just in bone, not in soft tissue.  It was all bad news.  I carried all the reports to the oncologist, who ordered a bone biopsy of a mass in my hip (easiest one to reach), and we got good news/bad news.  The good news: I did not have multiple myeloma.  The bad news: Yes, it is cancer, but it's metastatic breast cancer, which is by definition Stage 4 (incurable, terminal).  However, there's treatment available that can extend my life (how long?  maybe 10-12 years).  I have to have surgery on my leg, to insert a titanium rod inside my femur--the tumor there is palm-size and wraps 3/4 of the way around that big bone.  Or, it was that big; it's completely gone now.  Just over a week after surgery, I saw my PCP for the last time, and I fired her with extreme fury, told her she was a quack and that I'd give her a bad review everywhere I could, so other folks wouldn't have to go to someone else to get bad news.  I have never despised someone more than I did that clueless quack.  Let me suffer for two years without so much as an Xray!  Then had the nerve to say insurance won't pay for screenings; hello!  cancer history and extreme pain should have been enough to classify imaging as diagnostic.  She would have let me die rather than order a test.  She would have let me die rather than find out what was wrong.

Thank you for reading this, I had been thinking about that awful day for the past week, and now maybe it'll stop being such a ...brainworm?  Kinda like an earworm, only not a song just bad thoughts that you want to purge.  The holiday's coming, and I'd like to be able to be cheerful for a while.

Knitting Knews:  not much knitting being done, but I did a flurry of buying patterns off Ravelry, and have been thinking of giving Knit Picks some business.  This has helped the mood.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

I can put down the machete

Since August I've been slogging through Medicare and other insurers (a jungle, I tell ya) trying to find some way to keep using my oral chemotherapy, which I tolerate well and which has been keeping the Big C at bay, without having to exhaust my savings to pay for it.  Only in America, folks, do we get to choose between having needed meds and keeping our homes.  So, my insurance agent suggested pricing Canadian pharmacies, who'll only charge twice what Medicare will leave as out of pocket.  No help there, but her final suggestion was to get on the drug manufacturer's site and look for their Patient Assistance Program, which provides meds at no or minimal cost if the patient's income meets eligibility requirements.  SO..I contacted them, and no longer worry about whether or not I can pay for treatment.  What a blessing!  My application is still in process, but their agent assured me that our household income made me eligible.  And I've signed up for part D Medicare for all my other prescriptions (including 3 different eye drops, very pricey).  Whew!  All that research & wrangling, done away with by the manufacturer's good will.  The lesson here, kiddos, is to get on your drug mfg. site and look for their patient assistance --- many of the major manufacturers will have some kind of program so that your doctor can keep ordering your drug(s).

In the Knitting Knews, I bought some Lion Brand Mandala, only about 8 balls, and have been checking Ravelry for interesting knit patterns.  This yarn has long sections of many colors, but is all acrylic (why I'm not investing in more).  Disco has looked at some of the patterns, and was keen on Knitty's Wavedeck, so I've started that for her.  I may make a throw for her, too.  Her basement apt gets chilly in winter.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

What?!? I have something else to say

I mentioned the benefits of acrylic gel polish for flimsy nails, and that I'd looked at some local nail spas close to home.  Thursday, Disco & I went to RT Nail Spa on Nolensville Rd.  Wowsers, is this place pretty!  Gorgeous, actually.  We were walk-ins, but only had to wait about 20 minutes before we could sit at adjoining stations.  I think because we were walk-ins, we did not get terrifically fast service: our techs kept getting up to attend to clients that came in after us, so I can only assume those clients had appointments.  Good thing we didn't have somewhere else we had to be, because we got seated at 4:30 and did not get finished until 7:30.  So, at 7:30 p.m. we were ready for supper.  Our beautiful French nails were super shiny!  But somehow, both my thumbnails got smudged!  All I could figure was that the tech had me pull my hands out of the UV light too soon, and the top coat wasn't cured.  I went back, and got another top coat on both, and I'm pleased.  I will definitely be making an appointment for the next time.
I started another teeny tiny hedgehog while in TX, but only got half the body knit.  I kinda lost the urge to knit after that.  I had bought several balls of Lion Brand Mandala yarn, which is really interesting stuff and which has a large Facebook following.  But most of the patterns associated with this yarn are crochet; they look lovely but I don't do that much crochet.  I found a lacy poncho on the Drops Design site, called Angelique, which looks like a good candidate for "Mandalization".  I did start on that, but have lost my place.  And the pattern has a slew of charts, and the beginning is knitted flat, then changed to was seriously throwing me.  So....I think I'll go back to picking a pattern!!  I've seen some wild kimono type sweater worked side to side, so there are vertical stripes, but I'm not sure that's a knitted pattern.  Well, sounds like a dive into the patterns search on Ravelry.  If I don't surface in two weeks, send sandwiches.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Three months less 4 days

If you are keeping track, the title is how long it's been since I posted.  We've had our ups and downs these three months.  The Plaidman no longer requires all communication be in "Canadian sign language" (repeat at increasing volume until understood), which is very nice for the nerves & blood pressure.  Disco is still dithering about becoming employed, you know, for like actual money.
I can't really give you a moment by moment for most of these 3 months, but I can tell you about the most "up" parts.  Y'all, we went to Texas in July which is total crazypants as it's Hell's lobby that time of year.  Yes we stayed with my wonderful Sis and her sweet hubby Steve, and got to spend time with the nieces two.  They have a rescue puppy!  She's seven months old, part border collie & part whippet, lovely smooth coat in black & white.  And loves everybody, of course.  And smart!  She's learned to stay back from the front door, while using the back door freely--she knows the difference.  We were bunked in the master suite, which was nice except the doggo knows how to open the door.  She liked to come wake me most mornings, of course I was quite tickled to have the alarm waking me with kisses.  We were there about 4 days, when the Plaidman tripped on the concrete steps on the deck.  He didn't feel that he'd hurt himself, until about an hour after.  We took him to the local ER, and after Xrays and ultrasound it was determined that he'd pulled a hamstring.  We were due to fly home in a few days, but Sis & Steve insisted we stay another week so he could recover some.  I had much calling to do to see if we could keep the cat sitter another week, change our flights (oh yeah, that's just more $$$$), and then the real hassle of getting emergency vacation supplies of my prescriptions.  I only needed 5 pills each of 3 prescriptions, but over the next few days I think I called the pharmacy 15 times.  Also had to have my specialty pharmacy reroute my anti-hormonal (cancer) drug from delivery at my house (absolutely useless, since I was in Texas) to delivery to my sister's house.  That actually went pretty well, they were only a day late in delivery.  I hope we can get back to normal delivery when I call them again.  So...we had to do laundry 3 times while we were there, as we only packed for a week with one laundry day.  Disco had no trouble putting together more outfits, because her cousins went thru their closets and gave her about 40 nice tops (some still had the tags on), which we somehow managed to pack into our 3 suitcases and 3 rolling carry-on cases (we checked all six pieces at the airport).  We each had a tote, and another carry-on: Disco & I had purses, and the Plaidman had a cane.  I was surprised that the cane didn't wind up in an overhead bin, since whenever I've had one that didn't fold up on a flight, the attendant has taken it from me.  Maybe I just look like someone that would smack somebody with my cane, I don't know.  We had a ladies day with Sis, went to the Burkes outlet and spent some dough.  Sis had to run home but Miss A had her friend C, Disco, and me load up to her dad's car and carried us to the nail spa.  Now, I have never cared to wear polish; it just seems to chip off within days and looks ratty if it's not redone.  I've maintained my nails, but with the treatments I'm taking they have just about up & died.  They are extremely fragile, splitting and peeling (peeling! like cheap leatherette!) and always snagging on my clothes.  Well, Sis says I should try the gel polish, as it would protect my nails and look nice too.  Why social media for sick folks doesn't mention this I do not know.  So now I have beautiful French nails, and have not had to file them in weeks.  I am quite pleased, especially since my darling daughter, the DiscoDame herself, paid for my manicure.  AND I was just checking Yelp for nail spas in the area:  we have four different ones with 5-star ratings very close to the house.  I will check them out.  Disco needs hers redone; I'm going to see if she'll try the French style since the nail tips are reinforced.
So, we finally made it back to home.  TomTom Tiger was just about out of his little mind, meowing up a storm -- but not howling or panting or showing any other signs of excess stress.  He couldn't decide which of us to follow around, and just kept zipping between us.  While Disco & her Dad were unloading the car, TomTom came into the bedroom with me.  I got to petting him, and he just rumbled his big purr.  He's a mellow little guy, as long as he can stay home.  We got some cute pictures from the cat sitter; I'll have to put them in the computer to get one in particular on here.

Ok kids, what did we learn on this trip?
A) Pack entire prescriptions, not just enough for the planned visit.  It's ok to save space by limiting the supplements, but you never know if you'll leave as scheduled.
B) Gel manicure is the bomb.
C) Nieces grow up too fast.  The Peerless One is taller than her sister, who's 7 years older.
D) Dudes older than 68 need to supervised on concrete.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

News of various sorts

I had to see my PCP early this month, some respiratory issue which turned out to be pneumonia.  I've been feeling better just lately, still on meds but not so much coughing.  I lost my voice, which hasn't come back yet.  Thankfully, the Plaidman picked up his hearing aids about 10 days ago, so he does hear my pitiful croak.  And we can turn down the volume on the TV!!

When I was in high school here in Nashville, my sister had a baby and gave him up for adoption.  I've just recently been contacted by his family.  I will likely set up a meeting, someplace public and well away from home.  I guess you can tell I'm of two minds about seeing this person.

I finished the two "chemo"caps I was making in Knit Picks cotton/Modal blend (the name of it escapes me just now).  It is nice stuff, very smooth and soft, not at all stiff like 100% cotton can be.  Sadly, no pics before I carried them to the oncologists' office for their collection crate.  After those were done, I started on Hermione 💘s Ron, a beanie in wool, with cables & lace.  I think my gauge is a bit tighter than the designer's, this beanie just barely fits on my head.  Erm, spoiler alert: I've finished the cap.  Anyway, I immediately started another, upsizing the needles and deciding that the two set-up rows don't count as the first two rows of the lace pattern.  So we shall see if my tight knitting can be offset by the larger needles.  I am using some of my nicer fingering weight yarns for these wool caps, as I intend to wear them.  I don't have a problem with wearing wool.

Starting this past Thursday (it's now 11 p.m. Sunday) I have been asking the Plaid Patrol for 2 chores that needed doing.  Our junior member has been thinking that we'd get out to the movie theater sometime this weekend, but only one of the chores got done.  So no movie yet!  We may go during the day tomorrow, but as wool is my witness we will get the other chore done too!  We have a magnet on the fridge that says, Don't fool yourself: Mom is watching.  
Right now, Mom is actually nodding....time to hit the sack!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Excessive delay ensued

Heavens, ducks!  I haven't posted since New Year's Eve.  You'll all be pleased to know I still "walk" the Earth (but only if I have to!), and I'm still knitting.  Gotta knit for sanity now; my country 'tis of thee continues on its shambling course to the gates of Hell.  More on that in a bit, let me fill you in on activities at Chez Plaid.  After the New Year (I think it was on the 6th, so still within the 12 days of Christmas), Plaidman & I went to All Star Medical and bought a power chair.  We decided to go with the chair rather than the scooter, so I can use it in the house.  We had it almost a month, used it to go to the zoo and go shopping, when the right motor stopped working.  So, back to the dealer we go.  They took it in the shop in back, and tried to find the problem without success.  The decision was made to send the entire motor back to the manufacturer.  In the meantime, we have a loaner chair of the same model.  Earlier this week we went back to the zoo, having seen only half of it at our last visit.  It was a gloriously sunny and mild day.  Have you ever seen rhinos romp like dogs at play?  We did!  I believe they were as thrilled by the sunny day as we were.  Who knew rhinos could be cute?

What I wanted for Valentine's Day included the obligatory heart-shaped box of chocolates, but mainly was some relief in communicating with the Plaidman.  He's my sweetie, and I have to yell at him to be understood because he's so deaf.  I don't like yelling at him, anymore than he likes being yelled at; DiscoDame doesn't help when she starts yelling at him too.  So, he actually called a hearing center & got an appointment for next week!  I'm looking forward to having conversation with him in conversational tones, without our "Canadian" sign language.  I wish I could explain that to you, but I think you'd have had to be there when Disco invented it.

What I got, besides a lovely card & chocolates, was further proof of the future of this great nation being carried away in Satan's handbasket.  Part of the reason I haven't posted lately was that the event at the Portland, FL, school just about tore out my heart.  I know I can't show you how badly this hurt me; I haven't the words for that.  I can tell you that a long time ago Plaidman and I buried our own firstborn child, and that pain will be part of me until I die.  To see so many other Moms & Dads having to go through that has moved me from grief to anger.  To see the survivors speaking about their terror and pain of loss, as children, just drives me to the angriest tears.  How can anyone troll these children, calling them "actors" with prepared speeches--these are young humans with actual brains and passions moving them to decry our government's lack of decency.  Someone else pointed out that thoughts & prayers from someone who neither thinks nor prays, are less than useless.  So many of our representatives owe their allegiance not to their constituents, but to the gun lobby's deep pockets.  Plaidman remembers protesting the bombings in SE Asia, folks chanting,
"Hey Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today"
and he suggested we use it now, only change "LBJ" to "NRA".  I think we must protest and resist the NRA's control of our Congressional representatives.  So, I need to find a way for this wheelchair bound old hippie to get out there and support our kids' efforts to make the changes we need to see.  Oh boy--here's where my head is at: When I think of protests, I hear Joan Baez singing "Joe Hill" in my mind.  That may not be the most useful thing I've got in my brain, but if it gets me going I'll take it.  One hopeful note in the news today:  Texas had an extremely high early voting turnout, partly because of Democratic efforts to get out the vote.  That's probably something I could do, working on getting folks to GO VOTE or GET REGISTERED.

Gosh, I haven't even talked about my knitting.  I found some patterns for Swiffer or Clorox mop covers, that can be washed/dried & reused.  Well, I happen to have a crapton of kitchen cotton laying around, and thought Sis might like to have some of these.  One pattern was really simple, just a seed stitch rectangle with stockinette borders that tuck into the slots on the back of the mop head.  It works, but was really not that interesting or fun to knit.  Then I tried one based on the Ball Band Dishcloth pattern, and that is so much fun to knit (even in cotton!) that I went a bit crazy and made four of them very quickly.  Two will go to Sis, but I'm keeping (& using) the other two.

  I've finally worked in the ends on the pink headband (Blue Leaf Lace Headband on Ravelry), and put a button on that one too.  I'll send both headbands down south, along with hedgehog toys for the girls.  I feel that the pink headband needs a steam blocking first.  I guess I could do that pretty quickly.

I did start a cap, Exeter on Ravelry, but as the yarn description in the pattern was misleading as to weight, I had to rip it and redo the math for it.  I'm working on the crown decreases.  Here it sits in my yarn bowl, which was a present from me to me.
And if you look carefully you'll see Sis' birthday present to me: a gorgeous shopper tote from Dooney & Bourke (gasp!).  Here's a pic of it alone, carried by Disco.
Disco also modelled my finally finished capelet, a Drops design I knit in Cascade Roslyn tweed.

Missing the "old country"...

Much better, but I really thought it would be a lot longer.  It is nicely warm as a layering piece, and a gorgeous color.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Too cold

It's 3:30 pm and about 15F -- too cold to go outside for pictures.  But I finished my Kara cowl, and have worn it a few times.  It's an excellent layering piece, adding a deep red splash and a warm neckline to any outfit.  I have also been knitting for Sis and Miss A:  Swiffer mop head covers for Sis in two patterns, and the Hans My Hedgehog patterns for Miss A.  There are two of the hedgehog patterns, one making a tiny pocket "hog" about 2.5" in fingering yarn, and the other in worsted which made up to about 7" long.  The larger one used some of the yarn Sis gave to me over Thanksgiving, and looks a lot like Miss A's actual live hedgehog!  So maybe the pet hedgie can have a buddy....

Sis keeps hermit crabs in a sandy habitat next to the fireplace, with a heat lamp for continuous warmth.  They are some pretty weird little critters.  I watched an episode of Blue Planet the other day, that had me cracking up -- a conch had caught a smaller snail, and was emptying that snail's shell with a rowdy audience of hermit crabs all vying to get into the emptied shell!  At one point there were four hermits fighting each other to get that shell, then one actually climbed up the conch and into the shell before the conch turned it loose!  A risky move, as the conch could have eaten the hermit crab too, but it paid off since that little guy hustled away with the shell.

Well, I had to fill out another set of forms for the disability, so much fun.  It's a good thing I scanned and saved the earlier documents, as I had to attach some of them to this new form.  I suppose this will be a nearly endless process, so I'm scanning just about everything.

One of my Christmas presents was a two-week rental of a power chair, pretty nifty.  This one breaks down into four bits, with the heaviest bit just 36 lbs. and well within Disco's lifting capability.  I should get her to take it apart & put it back together several times; she's been letting Plaidman take charge of that but she says she wants "us girls" to be able to go places without him.