Thursday, October 16, 2014

Oncology appointment

I saw my oncologist today for my regular checkup. Everything is great. My CA 15-3 tumour markers, which had risen slightly the last two times, dropped back down to 36. My scans were clear as well; there are no new lesions and everything looks the same as the scans I've had over the last few years. In fact, I'm doing so well that we're going to stop the denosumab, which is used to build up my bones. My oncologist figures that I don't need it since the cancer only affected the one bone and that bone is healing. We're also talking about removing my port-a-cath. I've had it in for 6 or 7 years and I'm now only actually using it to have bloodwork drawn every three months. My veins are bad but I think they can sustain bloodwork every three months if I were to have the port removed. So we'll see; I don't need to make a decision right now but it's something to think about.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Neighbour problems (again)

We've hired a company to replace our window wells, fix the path on the side of the house, and make our driveway narrower. They started work this week and have finished putting in the stone window wells. We're quite pleased with the work our contractors have done; it's nice, they're tidy, and they put away their work neatly at the end of each day. They're personable but not chatty and prefer that I leave them alone and if there are problems to talk to the project manager.

Unfortunately, things are not going smoothly with our neighbour - the one we've had problems with before. We figured he'd be upset because he wasn't doing the work for us and we were right.

He's already stopped by earlier this week to tell our contractors that they were doing their job wrong and we were crafting an email to ask him not to approach our contractors directly. Today he flipped. Our contractors were cutting the capstones for the window wells and it was really windy so the dust was blowing into our neighbour's yard. He came over and spoke to (yelled at?) about how the dust was blowing by his office windows and they had to stop it. Apparently they offered to cut the stones somewhere else but that wasn't acceptable to him.

Then he rang the doorbell and told me the same thing about the dust and his office. I told him that it was windy and the dust couldn't be helped. He said that he builds a little house thingy and cuts in there and that I had better stop the dust blowing into his yard. OR ELSE.

I told him that just as it was unacceptable for me to talk to his guys, it's unacceptable for him to talk to my guys and to please come to me instead of them. Then I told him that he should know that we are having work done on the driveway on the property line and that the weeping tile may need to be adjusted. He said that they had better not mess things up OR ELSE. "Or else what?" I asked, and his answer was: "You'll see". That freaked me out.

After all that he asked why we didn't talk to him about the driveway. All I could say was, "Really? Really? After everything that's happened, why would we do that?"

I admit that I didn't respond well to him and I know I made things worse between our houses. When I'm confronted with anger I respond in kind, which makes me exactly the wrong person to deal with him. I do feel compassion for him because I know he wants the work and I think he was hurt that we didn't give him the opportunity to bid on the work we're having done. That compassion doesn't change the fact that I'm also worried that he'll do something. I don't know what, but something... maybe sabotage the work we're having done?

I'm especially worried about what's going to happen once the contractors get to the driveway. There's a Rogers cable going to the neighbour's house that's under our driveway somewhere and there's a very good chance that the the contractors will cut that cable... making our neighbour's internet go out. He has an office at home and needs that internet and if it's cut then he will be very, very, very angry. We don't think Rogers does locates because we've been told that they prefer that the cable just be cut and they'll repair it but I'll check and see.

I thought about calling the police about the ("don't mess things up OR ELSE" with a "you'll see" explanation of the or else part) because I felt threatened but then I thought that he'd be even angrier if I did that. My metalsmithing instructor said that I should call the police just so that if something happens, there's a record of it.

I don't know. I want nothing to happen, but in that last kerfuffle he told Ian that he has to be aggressive and that he can't show weakness in the construction industry... and that kind of thinking doesn't really lend itself to leaving things alone.

I hate neighbour disputes. I wish I'd handled things like this better. And I wish we had a different neighbour.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

How does our garden grow?

It grows weedy and overgrown, for the most part. But it's our yard, and I know you all want to see it.

Finally, I've got the yard pictures done. I'm not sure that they're in completely the right order but they're all annotated, I think. So here you go - there's a lot of them so they're after the jump.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Conference

I'm still working on the yard/garden post but I was at a conference this weekend and didn't do any work on it. I figured you'd want to know about the conference so I'm updating you on that right now.

This conference was held by the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, which is a volunteer-led organization dedicated to people with metastatic breast cancer. This year's conference was held in Chapel Hill, NC so I was there for the weekend.

The conference runs for two days and although I'd planned to go to both days, I didn't make it. I had rented a car and locked my keys in the trunk of the car. I called the rental car company and they sent someone out to unlock the car but it turns out that they still make cars that have no internal trunk release and we couldn't get the trunk open. By the time we figured all that out, the conference was over so I ended up going to the airport early. It was a very long, very boring day.

Fortunately, Saturday's sessions were interesting. There was a talk on molecular genetics that I really enjoyed. It wasn't very detailed but it gave a good overview of the current science and research trends.

The most unforgettable session was the one on pain and sexuality. I expected this to be a session about how to adapt sexuality to the pain but it wasn't that at all. It turns out the speaker is a leading researcher in the area and so the talk was more of how she got the knowledge she did. In all that meandering, I learned a few things:

  • When men have sexual problems, it's often considered to be a physical problem but when women do, it's often considered psychological.
  • Before addressing sexual pain, the cause of the pain - nerves, skin, or muscle - must be determined.
  • Neuropathy can occur in the genital area in the same way as it does in the hands and feet because the nerves are the same size. THIS BLEW MY MIND.
  • Any treatment that can affect the mouth can affect the genitals in the same way because the tissues are structured the same way and are both mucous membranes (she had pictures to emphasize this point). 
  • If the area isn't used, the muscles can atrophy and cause pain, just like they would anywhere else.
  • Dilators don't help all that much; a better solution is apparently a modified Hodge pessary kept in at night.
  • If the skin has a rash or is very delicate use Crisco shortening(!!) to protect it. Crisco can also be used with the pessary and in place of Replens. It works because it doesn't contain harsh chemicals and it doesn't come off easily.
The session ended up being quite funny and informative. I'm happy that I went just for that because it really was informative. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bit of this and that

I'm still working on the pictures of our yard but I've been lazy and haven't finished annotating them all. There are over 150 of them, after all, which is more than even red carpet posts used to have.

I was out weeding in the yard today. I spent about three hours out there and I pulled up around 100 big dandelions and 50 or so baby-sized ones in a 250 sq ft area. There's at least double that area to go but those areas don't have quite so many of these dandelions. I knew the lawn was full of weeds but I didn't realize just how bad it is. I'm trying to get them pulled so that I can rake the lawn to get the growing bittercress and veronica out before reseeding the yard.

Gozer hasn't been feeling terribly well lately. She was on antibiotics for a hotspot which made her vomit. After she went off them, she was constipated for a few days and then yesterday she started having diarrhea. Poor girl. She had diarrhea again today and we're hoping that her system will settle down. We're hesitant to take her to the vet because we don't want them to give her pills and we figure that we can help her with diet. She's already getting half squash for food and if she still has problems tomorrow, we'l give her rice instead of kibbles for the other half.

Well, Ian will give her rice for food; I'm heading to Chapel Hill, North Carolina this weekend for a conference. I'm nervous about going because I don't think many of my friends are going and because Chapel Hill is near Raleigh and that area holds some memories for me. I'm hoping that it'll be a fun weekend and if it turns out to be lame, well, I won't be there that long.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Gozer in the yard

I took a bunch of pictures of our yard and the plants in it yesterday. It was a lovely sunny day so I got some good pictures for you. However, it's going to take another day or so to get the pictures in the right order and commented and stuff so in the meantime, I thought I'd show you some pictures of Gozer, aka Miss Flufflybutt.

Hi mom!

Something smells good over here.

What could have been in this spot?

That smells really, really good...

...it'll make me smell good, too!!

I am look good, I smell good, and I'm feeling fine. Off I go!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A lot about not very much

There's been a whole lot of not much going on around here. I've been spending time outside in the yard and I've finally started working on the dandelions that have grown to monstrous proportions. Seriously, some of those things, especially around our vegetable garden, are huge! Clearly whatever soil we're giving the vegetables is helping the dandelions.

The leaves are up to a foot long and the root is up to one inch in diameter; the leafmass is almost too big for me to hold when I try to rip them out. I'm not actually able to get the full length of some of the roots out and I know that I'll have to do some serious digging when the leaves grow back. I don't care about that right now; just getting the leaves and flowers out is enough for me right now.

One of the less pleasant parts about clearing out these giant dandelions is that we have an unusual variety of ants in the area. They're called citronella ants and they're named for the smell they give off when they're crushed - it's described as a pleasant lemon scent in places but we think it's more of a cloying, chemical, citronella scent. These ants apparently farm root aphids (aphids that eat roots like dandelions and potatoes but not carrots or radishes for some reason) and mealybugs and their territory extends from the vegetable garden to the fruit trees. Anyways, when I pull out the dandelions in that area I invariably crush some of those ants and the smell just reeks. Blech. I don't think it repels mosquitoes, either.

We'd seen these ants a while ago carrying white things around and we assumed that they were carrying eggs. A bit of research showed that no, those are aphids or mealybugs, and they're moving them so that the aphids eat more yummy roots (and mealybugs eat more yummy whatever) so that the ants can eat the yummy honeydew that the aphids and mealy bugs produce.

It is kind of neat that there are more than one species of ant that farms their food and that they do it in such different places.

I really have been meaning to take pictures of our yard but I've been waiting for good light. If the light isn't good soon I'm afraid that you'll get pictures of a bunch of dead flowers, which are pretty in their own way. Also, our contractor neighbour is mad at me for talking to his employee about the way he was encroaching on our property while parking the truck and then for talking to himself in front of that same employee about parking the truck and trailer in front of the fire hydrant. He also thought that I was stalking him or his employee because I spoke to his employee that one time.

All of that is sort of hilarious in the way that neighbourly disputes often are, but the thing that isn't funny is that the neighbour didn't approach me to talk to me about the problem. Instead, he talked to Ian because this neighbour "doesn't talk to women". He said all sorts of awful, misogynist things to Ian, including telling Ian to control his woman. As if that's even possible!

I did apologize via email for speaking to the neighbour's employee directly and for talking to him about an issue in front of the employee, because underneath all that bluster and completely offensive language I understand that it's important to him to appear to be in control and that my actions caused him to lose face in front of his employees. And it's really no big deal to talk to him directly and privately if I have a concern, although apparently it's much too much to ask that he afford me the same courtesy.

Anyways, the point of that diversion is that because this neighbour thought I was stalking him or his employee, I don't want him to think that I'm stalking him by taking photos of the property. Of course we're also getting quotes for work on our driveway and they're taking all sorts of photos, but that's a bit different. As I write this, it occurs to me that it would be a good idea to take photos so that we have some "before" pictures of the areas that will be changed.

Speaking of getting work done, this neighbour has repeatedly asked us to ask him for a quote before we hire anyone and has been mad when we haven't done that. However, after this whole kerfuffle there's no way I'll do business with him. I can't choose my neighbour but I can choose who I hire, and I choose not to hire people who express themselves in misogynist ways. Even if he was awesome at doing stuff (which he isn't; some of the work we need to have done is fixing work he did for us before), I wouldn't hire him just on principle. I know that this decision won't improve the relationship between the households much (and that he might end up doing petty things like encouraging his guests to flick cigarette butts into our yard as a result), but I'm willing to take that risk.

Hopefully I'll get to take some photos for you this week. We really do have a nice yard even if it is a little overgrown and unbalanced and full of weeds. I'd like to show it to you.

Huh. I sure wrote a lot for not much going on, didn't I? It just goes to show that I can talk a lot about anything :)