Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

I'm back in Waterloo now - my plane was delayed and so I didn't get home until almost 9am. Then I slept all day :) We're going over to a friend's place tonight to watch movies and to ring in the new year. We'd hoped to go out, but that didn't work out - still, it's more important to get to spend time with our friends; where we do that is less important.

Funny how you never really know what you're going to get in a year. I'd never have thought that the cancer would come back, or that it would have spread this year. I was working very hard at this time last year, and I thought that that would continue - which it did, up until a point (the extra work I was having to do did come to an end). I'd kind of thought that I might start looking for something new towards the end of this year, but I'd looked forward to working. I didn't put too much thought into what I wanted out of the year, though.

This year, I'm thinking harder about what I want out of the upcoming year. I hope that the cancer stays stable. I'd love for it to go away (for me to be No Evidence of Disease, or NED), but I'll settle for stable. I want to do things that make me happy. We will travel - I want to go to Las Vegas for my birthday, and we're going to go to the UK and probably to North Carolina. We might see more of Ontario. I want to spend time with the people I love. I want to continue to make things I like - I hope to finish my sewing and knitting projects :). I'm thinking that I'll start painting.... or that maybe I'll do more beadwork (making the purse was fun). Either way, I want to continue to explore my creative side. I don't know whether or not I'll work this year, but I'll be happy enough if I don't.

I know that some people other than me have had health problems this year, and I hope that that trend is over; that those who are sick recover, and that there are fewer pains and illnesses for everyone this year. Things have been up and down for many of you this year, and I really, really hope that things stay up for all of you instead of down during the coming year. Mainly, I want for each of you to have a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

More visiting, and preparing to leave

I got to see two of the friends that I've known for 15 years or so today. The third was out of town, but I was able to talk to her the other day. It's so good to catch up with my friends - I don't see them often, but I enjoy the time I have with them. We had some good times way back when, and our friendship has been strong enough to survive the transition from partying all the time to being a grown-up. That's really something :) My friends looked happy, and I think things are going mostly ok for them. That makes me happy, too :)

I saw my parents for dinner, too. It was really nice to sit down with just them and visit for a while. I like spending time with them - it's too bad that I don't have more time, this visit.

In a few hours I'll be heading to the airport. One of my friends is driving me there and I expect we'll visit for a bit more before I go through security. I'm glad that I'll get the chance to do that :) Before I go, I'll spend some more time with my aunt - I've been staying with her this entire time. She's graciously lent me the use of her laptop (from which I've been posting my blog) and her den, and she even bought me some of the food that I eat :) I've been able to have my own room - something that was very important to me - and I've been able to spend some time with her, too. I'm so glad that I was able to stay here.

I've very much enjoyed my time here in Edmonton. I'm grateful that I was able to see as many people as I did - all of the people here are very special to me, and I value each one of them very much. Of course I'm looking forward to going back home to Ian, but I'll miss everyone here. You all know who you are - I love each one of you and I enjoyed seeing you; thanks for making time for me :)

Friday, December 29, 2006

My family Christmas

My family had its Christmas celebration today. Almost all of it was fun. Everyone seemed satisfied with their presents from everyone else. I gave all the adults in the family framed pictures that Ian or I had taken - I think almost everyone liked theirs. Some were bigger hits than others, of course :) One of my nephews wanted to play Scrabble, so a bunch of us (including the other nephew) had a game of Scrabble. It would have been better if everyone could have played - there were 11 of us, which makes it difficult even if people are teamed up. I wasn't going to say no to my nephews, though :) At one point, my nephew said that "it would be bad if [he] got no vowels". I said something like "oh yes, it's bad when you get no values" (I'm a bit dyslexic - I substitute words like that all the time). Everyone laughed and laughed :)

No Christmas in my family would be complete, of course, without crying and some conflict :) This year, it was me who ran away crying. We were going to play this other game, and there was part of it that I couldn't do because my memory is much worse than it used to be. My sister took a "this way or no way" approach at the time and I ended up bawling from a combination of being more emotional than usual and having problems dealing with the fact that I can't do stuff I could do before. I'm glad I'm not working right now - I can only imagine how many times I'd end up crying in the bathroom because I can't do stuff. How professional is that? :(

Later on, my sister ended up quite angry and there was a big argument. I don't like conflict and so it was very uncomfortable. Things are better now, though. One good thing that came out of that discussion was that we all had a chance to say what we were feeling - both good and bad. It cleared the air a lot, and set the precedent for speaking about things early. That's a good thing, because everyone in my family has a tendency to bottle things up and then explode in a million pieces of anger - it would be better if we didn't do that.

In some ways this Christmas was different than previous Christmases, as least for me. I'm very aware that the number of Christmases I have is limited, and that's so hard. I treasured this celebration all the more for that. I love my family so very much, and I'm going to miss them a lot when I go back home. I haven't felt this way since I moved to Ontario in 1996. I'm really, really glad that I was able to come to Edmonton to see everyone. It's been a pretty hard year for many people in my family, and it's been good to just be able to see and hug them. It's not like I can make anything better for them of course (if I could make things better, I'd start with this darn cancer), but it makes me feel better to be with them.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

More shopping and visiting

I saw my other sister today. We ended up shopping for a few hours - it was a lot of fun :) We'd planned to see a movie as well, but there was nothing that we really wanted to see. I bought a couple of tops, a pair of earrings, and some clothes for bellydancing. It turns out that I'll be bellydancing on Mondays, which will work out just fine.

I also bought some new makeup - lately I've had a makeup and earring fascination :) I've been very happy with the Physician's Formula line of products - they're expensive, but they're very hypoallergenic and I'm quite pleased with them. I'm also happy with the Revlon Skinlights Instant Skin Brightener product - I wear it under foundation and powder for a soft glow to my face. I bought some more stuff today. I'm gathering quite a collection of all this makeup :)

I must say, though, that between all the visiting yesterday and the shopping today, I'm exhausted. I have to take my clodronate in about 35 minutes, and I'm going to fall asleep pretty quickly after that (I hope). Tomorrow my family is doing our Christmas and I'd like to be well-rested for that.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I spent all day visiting with people today. My sister's new beau is very nice and thoughtful. When I spilled my water on me (I'm clumsy, as you may recall), he brought over a table that I could use for my water, without my even asking for one :) He's a good person, I think, and he definitely makes my sister and her kids happy. I'm happy about that - it's about time that they were happy :) My one nephew has a cool chair thing that he uses for his video games. My other nephew is working on a cool train set, too. It was weird - today I realized that my nephew knew more about something (his trains) than I did. Does that make me old? :)

My sister and I went to see Saw III. I didn't like it as much as Saw II or even Saw. It was much, much gorier than either of the first two movies - I suppose there's a good reason for that, but I didn't like all of the gore. The acting was on par with the first Saw movie, by which I mean it was terrible. As well, the story was somewhat difficult to follow, as there were several parts to the story that went nowhere and were never resolved. There were fewer puzzles in this movie as well - I really enjoyed the psychological puzzle aspect to the other movies. Overall, I kind of felt that it was a gorier and dumbed-down version of the previous two movies, and I didn't like that. I wouldn't recommend this movie if you liked the first two movies. If you didn't like them, or you like a gory movie, then you might like this one.

I also saw each of the two friends that I've known the longest. I've known them for 25 and 24 years! I never thought when I met either of them that I would know them this long, but I'm glad that I do :)

My one friend is married and has a son who's about 2 (I seem to know of a lot of people with kids who are about 2 - was there something in the water back then?), and I got to see her son and husband. The son is super cute and super smart :) At one point, during lunch, she asked me if I was scared and I basically fell apart. Yes, I'm very scared. It's one thing to intellectually know that I'm going to die and quite another to be emotionally ready for it. I know that it's a ways off, but I'm still afraid. I don't want to die, and it isn't fair that I know that I'm going to leave Ian and my friends behind. One of the waitstaff brought over a box of kleenex which was much appreciated. The rest of the visit was less teary, of course :)

My other friend and I had coffee (well, decaf coffee, but that still counts) this evening and chatted and caught up on everything. It was great to see her, too - she's doing pretty well these days, although she's busy at work and stuff. She's also quite involved with her church and is doing missionary work. It's awesome to think that she's traveling to all these places to help these communities! I don't think that I could do something like that - I'm certainly not selfless enough, and I admire her for both her selflessness and courage in doing this work.

I really enjoyed seeing all these people today. Everyone is busy with their own lives, and it's great to reconnect with the people I love that I haven't seen for ages. I don't get to see my friends or family very much, and I do miss them - it means a lot to me to see everyone. I also hope that I get to see my other friends later in the week; I haven't known them as long (only 15 years or so :), but I miss them, too.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Shopping and seeing the city

Shopping for Boxing Day sales isn't something that I usually do, but I sure did it this year. A few of years ago I went looking for electronics but didn't really buy anything - really, I don't buy electronics anyways. This year, I decided that I was going clothes shopping today. As a rule, I like clothes shopping :) I knew that I wasn't going out to West Edmonton Mall, so I figured that I wouldn't be around too many crowds.

I spent a couple of hours downtown poking through the stores there. I didn't try anything on or buy anything there, but the higher-end stores are there and I wanted to see what they had on sale. After I was done there, I went to Southgate mall. I spent about 3 1/2 or 4 hours in the Bay. I'd shop until I couldn't carry any more, and then I'd try it all on. Mostly I tried on dresses :) After all that, I ended up buying only two tops: one long silver lightweight sweater and one black long-sleeved blouse with boning. Both were 50% off.

Some might say that I wasted my day shopping and not seeing anyone. But I was doing more than just shopping - I was revisiting the city I grew up in. I moved to Ontario 11 years ago, and even though I'm back in Edmonton at least once a year, this year I wanted to see some of the places I used to go to when I lived here. I guess in a way I wanted to reconnect with the city a bit - in the same way that I need to see people here, I need to see some places here. I certainly didn't go to all of the places I remember, of course, since I spent a number of years living a life that I am not at all proud of and I wouldn't seek out places associated with that life again. However, I felt like I accomplished whatever it was that I needed to do today, and I'm glad I had the time to do all that :)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

We opened presents at Ian's parent's house today, and everyone got lots of good stuff. As much as I like getting presents (and I do), I also like seeing people's faces when they open gifts that I've chosen for them. Usually they have a happy look on their face, of course - I'd feel bad if they were unhappy.

After that, I traveled to Edmonton. I'm here until New Year's Eve day to visit with friends and family. The flight was pretty well uneventful, although there were a large number of toddlers on the flight. I think that there were five two-year-olds, one of which was sitting in front of the seat next to me. I didn't play the peekaboo game, but the person next to me did. Hee hee :)

I got here and had Christmas dinner with my parents. I really enjoyed that - I haven't seen them since last year, and I've missed them. Obviously a lot has happened since last Christmas, and I have a really strong need to see my family members. I get to see one of my sisters on Tuesday - I get to meet her new beau, too, which is quite exciting, if a little scary (I suck at meeting people) - and I'll see the other sister on Wednesday. Our family Christmas will be on Friday, and we'll all get together. I hope that'll be fun.

Anyways, the dinner was very yummy. I'm again stuffed - pleasantly so :) I was able to catch up with my parents and have a nice visit with them. I'm glad, because I've missed them. A lot has happened with them, too, this year.

I hope you all had a merry Christmas and got to have as much fun visiting and eating as I did :)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Movies on Christmas Eve

Our family often went to see movies on Christmas Eve evening when I was a teenager. Usually we picked something funny or an animated movie (then they were all Disney movies) so that we would laugh and have a good time. It was a good tradition, because it brought my family together, the years we did it. Who can forget us being five of only eight people in the theatre to see Clockwise - and howling with laughter? :)

We didn't exactly follow that tradition, but Ian and I did see two movies today :) First, we saw Casino Royale. I haven't seen any other Bond movies in the theatre - then again, I don't think I've seen many other Bond movies, period :) Ian didn't like this one as much as other Bond movies, but I did like it for a movie that I could just watch and enjoy. It was pretty good overall, although there were a few things that were strange. The poker game, for example, was weird, because it didn't seem like real poker. The product placement was also too obvious - I would have noticed that it was a Ford car, for example, without centring the logo onscreen for two seconds. One thing that I especially liked was the opening sequence.

This movie was also definitely darker than other Bond movies - it's much more personal in some ways. I usually think of the killing in Bond movies as sort of distant, with guns. The killing here is very up close and personal, as are the emotions Bond portrays. This movie is much more violent and bloody than the other Bond movies I've seen or know about. So if you want to see something dark, action-packed, and sort of escapist, see this one :)

Later on, we watched It's a Wonderful Life. The only part of the movie I'd ever seen before was the kid at the end saying that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings. The kid was a bit too saccharinely cute, and so I never watched the movie. Today I got to see most of it and it turns out that I liked it :) Yeah, the story is old and has been done a hundred times, but I liked the originality of it. Not to mention that I'm a sucker for classic black and white movies :)

I especially liked the message about how each person's life affects the lives of those around them more deeply and profoundly than they know. I know that I can be impatient, mean, and cranky, but I've been trying over the last few years to be a better person. I don't think that I would save a whole town from debauchery, the way our protagonist does in this movie, but I hope that I've made a positive impact on other people's lives.

Tonight was the night that we ate yummy food at Ian's parent's house. This was the big traditional meal of the holiday there, and I must say that I'm stuffed! Pleasantly so :) Now I just have to get myself to sleep so that Santa can come :)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Feeling sorry for myself

On the sidebar over there I've added a bunch of links to blogs by young women with breast cancer. Only one has advanced cancer like me (I think), but some of the things that the others are experiencing are very similar to what I went through the first time around. There are a lot of links over there, huh?

I hope that those others never get recurrences or metastases. Having stage 4 breast cancer sucks way more than having stage 0-3 cancer. The only advantage now is that I have a realistic view of what I'll be faced with, whereas before I didn't really have a clue. All those women with stage 0-3 breast cancer are lucky, because their treatments get to end - mine will continue for whatever life I have left. I envy those women. They get to go back to a normal life after treatment, like I did before. I wish I could have that normal life back. What's worse is that I also know that no matter how much my previous treatments sucked (which they did), I will have more treatment suckinage in my future. How fun is that?

Anyways - yeah, it's a bit of a pity party for me tonight, it seems. It's been a stressful day with packing and traveling, and this will be my first Christmas with my "new normal" of advanced breast cancer. That's hard.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Presents and packing

I spent quite a bit of time today wrapping presents. I love wrapping presents - I like doing things with bows and ribbons and that kind of thing - but I'll tell you, the fun of wrapping presents pales after a while. I spent about 2 hours wrapping, and it's really only fun for the first 1/2 hour and the last 10 minutes :) Plus I couldn't really put bows and ribbons and things on the gifts that are going to Edmonton because they just get crushed in the suitcase. When I get there I might add the decorative touches to the presents, maybe. .

I've also been rushing around packing today. I did do a list of things that I'm taking so that I don't forget anything important. I'm taking a suitcase just for the presents :) I'm only going to be away for a few days, but I still feel like I'm taking half my life with me :) I don't think that I'm overpacking too much, but I do want to be sure that I have warm clothes and clothes that are nice enough to wear out, in case I end up doing something in the evenings. I also need knitting for the times when I'm not doing anything at all. I'm not even close to being finished packing, of course - I've got quite a bit of yet to do in the morning. Guess I'd better get myself to sleep, then :)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

More cleaning

We finished cleaning the house today. Ian did all the vacuuming and I did the bathrooms. The two jobs took almost the same amount of time, but then Ian does a better job vacuuming than I do :) Cleaning was exhausting. I found that the pain in my sternum flared up quite a lot while I was doing the cleaning. Each time it did, I had to stop and wait a bit for the pain to subside. This bothers me, because it means that the pain interferes with what would normally be a household task. Just because I don't do it often enough doesn't mean that it isn't a normal household task :)

I don't like that I'm not really able to do stuff. Even if I up my painkiller usage (which I need to anyways), it's not like I can really train to make the pain go away. This isn't like muscle weakness, where if I just work it enough it'll get strong enough to do the job without flaring up in pain. The pain won't go away unless the tumours in my sternum and elsewhere go away (or I get them irradiated, which isn't an option for my sternum). A workaround for the cleaning problem will be to do the cleaning in very small steps. So instead of doing the entire bathroom in one day, I'll have to do the sink one day, and the tub the next (or the day after, or whatever), and so on. If I'd had that kind of time before we left, I'd have done that.

This thing where I can't do everything I want to sucks. It makes me feel older than I am, and more of an invalid than I want to think that I am. Sigh. I know I'll adjust eventually.... but it sure sucks in the meantime.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Getting ready to go away

You know how when you go away for a while, you like to come home to a clean house? Well, I do :) I'm going to spend a couple of days at Ian's parent's house, and then I'll be off to Edmonton to spend some time with my family and friends there. Ian will stay at his parent's house until I come back. So we'll be gone for a little over a week, and after all that traveling, I will want to come home to a clean house.

Unfortunately, our place isn't cleaning itself... and even though you might think that I would spend time picking up or cleaning while I'm off work, well, I don't :) I was working on my purse, which consumed a lot of my time, but even before that I wasn't really cleaning. Ever. So we spent some time yesterday and today cleaning - tomorrow we'll finish it off so that we can just pack on Friday.

Speaking of work, I've decided that even if I go back (which I don't think I will), I won't go back to work for my previous manager. It is just too stressful to work for him, and I don't want to spend whatever time I have left working for someone who is not the right manager for me. That means that if I go back I won't be working at my previous job - but I think that's ok. If I ever go back to work, I'll just find another job :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bellydancing classes

My bellydancing studio has finally posted the schedule for the next term! I'm really excited, because I've been wanting to get back into bellydancing again. I didn't think that I could handle taking it this term, but I really, really, really want to take it again after Christmas. If there's space, I'll take a returning beginner's class on Wednesdays at 5pm. I've emailed the instructor and am awaiting confirmation that there's room for me.

There's another studio in Cambridge that I hear is good, too, but I don't want to drive all that way for classes, especially since there's no guarantee that I'll be able to drive on any given day. It takes forever to get there on the bus and I don't want to have to be dependent on someone to get to my classes. I've also been quite happy with my current studio and its instructors, and it's easily accessible by bus.

So I'll stick with my current studio. I'm definitely looking forward to learning more bellydancing techniques in the New Year :)

Monday, December 18, 2006

The return of the pain

Well, the pain is back. It had gone away for a while - so much so that I was wondering why I was still taking my pain pills - but it's back with a vengeance. Sigh. The sternum is hurting quite a lot and the pain has been getting steadily worse.

I also have another spot that's been aching for a few weeks now on the back of my left thigh. It hurts in one spot, and if I press really hard on that spot, the pain flares up like crazy (just like my sternum). It also aches if I'm sitting a long time, particularly if I'm driving. I don't think that it's a pulled muscle. When I have a pulled muscle, it hurts along the entire muscle (one spot tends to hurt more than others but the whole muscle will ache, especially when I poke at it), and none of the muscles on the back of my thigh ache that way. I don't think that it's just a stiff muscle, either, because it neither hurts nor feels better to stretch the hamstring or glutes.

I'd heard that the pain from the mets would increase once the treatment started working. I suspect that the spot might be a met on the thigh that was just too small to see on the scans (bone scans apparently don't pick up anything less than 0.5cm) and now it hurts like the sternum because the treatment is working. It could also be that the Femara is causing this - Femara causes joint and muscle pain, so it's possible that the pain is either transferred from my hip or knee or is just plain Femara pain.

I've been watching this spot on my leg carefully and recording the pain I'm experiencing in my sternum and this spot. If it continues to hurt, then I'll call my oncologist in January. I'm not terribly worried about it - I don't think that they would change my treatment even if it is mets - but at some point I'm going to want to know whether or not I have more mets.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Seeing the Rockettes

We saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes today. All of the costumes were very well done. They were clearly designed to emphasize the dance steps, which they did very well. It was fun to watch them moving around.

The Rockettes are awesome! They are fantastic dancers - each number they did was exquisitely performed (well, one Rockette slipped and fell at one point, and the curtain came down on a Santa behind a screen, but aside from these two small issues, it was great). I especially liked the wooden soldier number and the Nutcracker number they did. The Nutcracker scene made me remember my childhood - my sisters and I went to see the ballet in Edmonton when I was growing up - I think my aunt took us for a few years. I remember enjoying that.

I didn't much like the rest of the show involving the Santas and the company dancers. I'm sure that many people liked the Santa theme - Santa was the MC for the show - but, well, I didn't like it so much. It seemed sort of crass and commercial. Also, much of the music and song lyrics had a 70s feel; they could use some updating.

Then there was the Living Nativity. It didn't really match the Santas - to go from commercialism and gift-giving represented by the Santas right to the birth of Christ was jarring (I know, I know, there's no pleasing me) . Sure, the wise men gave gifts, but clearly they were reverential in nature :) Apparently this Nativity has been performed since 1933. They did have sheep, camels, and a donkey as part of the Nativity, which made it sort of interesting. I kept hoping that the Rockettes would come out kicking during this scene, but they didn't.

So I'd recommend the Rockette parts of the show to anyone - it's just too bad that the show had things other than Rockettes.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Shopping for Ian

We're going to see the Rockettes tomorrow, and Ian doesn't have any black pants that aren't jeans. We think that when going to the theatre or to a show that a person should dress up a bit - at least as far as business casual dress, which means no jeans. We know that many people don't dress up at all when going to the show, but that's ok - we lead by example :)

I had lunch with some friends, and after that Ian and I spent quite a bit of time this afternoon looking for pants for Ian. As I'm sure you can imagine, he didn't like this very much :) We did end up finding pants, thank goodness. I'm very much looking forward to the show tomorrow - I feel a bit like a kid again :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holiday party

We went to my company holiday party tonight. You can see pictures of Ian and I before we left for the party here. Aren't my shoes awesome? My feet hurt quite a lot by the time we were done, though. Still, they look fantastic :) I also spent quite a bit of time on my makeup - I'm quite happy with the way it turned out, too. I felt very pretty, and I think I looked pretty, too.

The party was held at RIM Park instead of Bingemans, where it was held last year. There were two main giant rooms where tables were set up. One was a gymnasium with a gym floor and the other was a fieldhouse with a plywood floor. There were a number of smaller rooms upstairs as well. They were nicer than the big rooms, but our friends were in the fieldhouse. That was fine; the plywood was easier to walk on than the gym floor :)

One thing that I especially liked about the venue this year was that the tables were round and set up for eight people and there was space to walk around the tables. Last year, there were long rows of tables and the chairs were very close together. If you wanted to get up, you disturbed 15 people to get out, so having space to walk this year was great. The other thing that I liked about this venue was that there was slightly more network coverage than at the venue last year, so I could more easily find my friends.

The dinner started about a half-hour late. Bingemans still catered the dinner. Unfortunately, that meant that the food was made over at Bingemans and brought to the site so it was a little less tasty than last year. The desserts were ok. Both of us ate too much, of course :)

After dinner there were the usual speeches exhorting the company's success over the last year (yes, we were very successful). The tables near us played some drinking games; whenever any of our main products were named, they took a drink. I don't know how many complimentary bottles of wine they ended up going through (there are a lot of products, and many of them were mentioned at least once), but it was a lot. The company did provide a taxi to anyone who wanted one; as long as the person can legibly write their name on the chit, they could have a free cab ride, and the taxis started showing up at the door at 10pm. Every employee attending also had to sign a waiver saying that they wouldn't drive if they'd been drinking.

When the speeches ended, the dancing began. The music was pretty loud, as usual, and so we decided to leave. As we were on our way out, we met up with some other friends of ours and chatted for a while. I wish I'd known they were there earlier as it would have been nice to sit with them, too - there was room at our table. Oh well, maybe next year. There was one other friend that I'd hoped to see there, but I didn't. I think she was planning on going - I hope she managed to make it, and that she had fun.

Overall, it was fun. The people who knew about the purse thought it looked great and that my shoes were awesome. The people who didn't know about the purse only thought my shoes were awesome :) Some people didn't recognize me because my hair is short and darker than it used to be and I was wearing contacts instead of glasses. I used this to my advantage to not talk to the people I saw that I didn't want to talk to :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I have finally finished the purse. I was supposed to curl for Ian today, but skipped it to finish the purse - a good thing, because the party is tomorrow. I didn't want to be working on it tomorrow, as I wanted to spend the day relaxing or getting ready and not rushing with the purse.

I'm mostly pleased with the way it turned out, as it still looks like I thought it would in my head. I like the chain I used - I think that it modernizes the purse a bit, and prevents it from looking too old. I'm also very pleased with the beadwork, as I think it looks fantastic (especially for someone who's never done this before). If I were to do it again, I would make the lining neater as it looks a bit messy near the top. Also, I'm not thrilled with the way that the zipper went in. I think I should have lined the fabric on the zipper strip with buckram instead of plain interfacing to give it more stiffness - I relied on the shape of the purse to force the zipper into the correct shape, but it didn't work perfectly. I'm not taking it out and redoing it, of course - I'm finished :)

Overall, I like the purse, and I'll be happy to wear it with me tomorrow. Yes, I am going to the party, if only to show off this purse :)

You can see the final pictures here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Game night

We went to a friend's house to play some games tonight. It was a lot of fun - we got to see some people at work that we like to spend time with :) When we weren't poking fun and laughing at each other, we played Taboo and Alhambra.

We divided up into girls against guys for Taboo, but unfortunately the girls lost by quite a large margin. Listening to people trying to guess the right answer is always funny :) I wish that there were new cards for Taboo, though, as some of the cards are firmly rooted in the late 80s. It doesn't diminish too much from the fun, but some of the things are pretty archaic. Alhambra was also fun - Ian and I had played before, but no one else had. It has quite a fast-moving pace, but still takes a reasonable time to play.

I also put parts of my purse together today. The lining is done, the spacer pieces are added to the zippers, and I've stiffened (with stitch-witchery and buckram) and basted the beaded pieces together. So now I just have to sew the beaded pieces together, make the tabs for the chain, sew the tabs and zipper in, and sew in the lining. I hope to finish tomorrow. The best part is that the purse looks exactly like it did in my head. I'm so pleased with it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Not careful enough

We came back to Mississauga today because Ian has an 8am follow-up appointment with the surgeon tomorrow. I don't really want to get up early enough to be in Mississauga for 8am :) Anyways, I packed up my stuff, and I thought I'd done a good job. But when we got here, we discovered that my mouthwash wasn't completely closed and so it spilled all over the back of the car. The car has a lovely minty fresh smell now :)

Later on, while working on my beading, I dropped a bead. After that, I dropped one of my Oxycontin in the bedroom. I have to be very careful because of the dog - she can't eat beads or my pills. The beads probably wouldn't kill her (but they wouldn't be good for her), but the pills could. Ian found both of these things, thank goodness.

I always think I am being careful..... and then I keep finding out that I'm not being careful enough :( I feel like no matter how careful I try to be, I can't be careful enough. It bothers me because it's like I can't take care of myself. I feel like I can't be trusted to do things correctly or neatly, and that someone has to follow along after me so that I don't leave a mess and am not a danger to people (and dogs) around me. I don't like this at all :(

Monday, December 11, 2006

More about my purse, and a little about my work

I am so tired of beading :) I'm almost finished the piece that connects the two side pieces - I underestimated the amount of time that it would take to sew the beads on to that piece. Then again, I've been changing that piece as I go, making it a little wider in some places to make it smoother. I think that it's actually a bit too long on each side; if so, then I'll have to take out some beads.

If I go back to work in the new year, I wouldn't be going back until mid-February at the earliest. The insurance company wants to wait until after I see the oncologist on February 2 before making a decision whether or not to go back. I've been hearing that people are saying I'll be back in January, which isn't true. So now you know - February at the earliest. Maybe never.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Home again

Ian is doing very well and we were able to come home to Waterloo today. He's still limping and hobbling around a bit, but he is definitely healing up well. He sees the surgeon on Wednesday for follow-up and to have his stitches removed.

I'm glad to be home. Even though I had everything I needed to work on my purse in Mississauga, I like having all of my own stuff around me. Speaking of the purse, it's going well. I'm working on the band that separates the two sides. I am about 80% finished that (I hope to finish it tomorrow), and then I'll work on assembling the purse. The plan is to finish it for Friday for the Holiday party.

Part of me really wants to go to the party (after all, I get to dress up :) and part of me doesn't want to go. I don't really know that I'll ever be going back to work - I'm not at all ready to do it right now, and I am beginning to wonder if I'll ever be ready - and while I want to see a lot of people that will be there, I'm nervous and hesitant about seeing some others. I had an email conversation with my manager's boss yesterday that reinforced my thinking that if I do go back, I wouldn't want to return to my previous department. So it might be weird to see people who are expecting me to go back there. I'm also hearing that things kinda suck all over the place there, and so I don't know if I could find a place that would be good for me anywhere there.

As I say, I'm not at all ready to go back right now, so I might be blowing things out of proportion - maybe I'll feel differently after the holidays. Of course this all might be moot anyways because my doctors might not let me go back :)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Eye infections

About a year and a half ago, I had a series recurrent eye infections. I got them over and over and over again for about four months or so. It turns out that they were caused by my allergies together with the dry eyes I'd been experiencing from the Tamoxifen. A secondary cause may have been the cancer. Certainly the fact that the lymph doesn't flow as well on the side that tended to have more infections played a part, but I also think that the cancer was growing then, meaning that I healed more slowly and was more susceptible to infections. A benefit to the experience was that I learned to (mostly) keep my hands away from my eyes.

Having my ovaries removed and taking Femara gives me dry eyes (estrogen helps keep mucous membranes moist). Being in Mississauga tends to aggravate my allergies. If you conclude that I might get an eye infection, you'd be right. Well, I have a very irritated eye that feels like it's infected and looks like it's almost got pinkeye. Sigh. I've been putting Visine Allergy drops in my eyes all day, and they aren't doing much to help. Fortunately, I have a refill on the Vigamox eye drops that I was using when I had these infections before that cleared the eyes up right away. I'll pick that up tomorrow.

This better not be more cancer growing.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Ian's recovery (and my purse)

Ian is recovering very well. He doesn't need any painkillers and claims that his knee isn't bothering him at all! The knee is stiff and a bit swollen, of course, but Ian is well. The dressing will stay on until Saturday at about 6pm (48 hours or so after it was put on). We'll stay overnight on Saturday, just to make sure that everything is ok, and we expect to be home Sunday afternoon.

While I'm keeping Ian company I have been working on my purse. I finished the second side!!!! It did take a lot less time to do, even though I did end up re-doing a few parts. I'm quite happy with it. Next, I'll do the gusset or side band piece that will connect the front and back pieces that I've done. I also want to strengthen the beaded pieces and to protect the threads. I've got some heavy interfacing and some stitch-witchery and buckram. I'll bead some test pieces so that I can see which (if either) solution will give me the results I want without melting the threads. The beads are glass and so shouldn't melt - I hope :)

You can see more pictures of my purse here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ian's surgery

Ian had his arthroscopic knee surgery today. He needed it because of a juggling injury a few years back - they were playing a game called "combat", where a bunch of jugglers juggle three balls and each juggler tries to make the other jugglers drop their balls. He planted his foot and twisted his knee funny. It's similar to a basketball injury.

The surgery went well and Ian is doing fine. He says that he doesn't have much pain and that he just has some stiffness in the knee. He had good colour and appetite this evening and he keeps saying he's fine, so I think he'll be ok :) He's not allowed to shower for 48 hours after surgery, and so we will most likely stay at his parent's house for at least that long.

The hospital where Ian had the surgery isn't quite as nice as the one where I've had my surgeries. When you have surgery, they check you in and make you change into one of those gowns with a gown overtop, and then send you back into the waiting area until it's time to go into the OR. In this hospital, the waiting area is a hallway. Really. It's a wide hallway with a view of the outside, which was nice, but it was a hallway nonetheless. I know that I would be uncomfortable waiting in the gown and stuff in a hallway where anyone could walk in. To be fair, there was apparently another waiting area where Ian could have waited once he had the gown on, but it was full and Ian's mom and I couldn't go there. Ian was fine with the waiting area, though - in general, he's much more relaxed than I am :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More than enough travels

I think that I ate something that didn't agree with me at the party yesterday. I was up in the night with tummy troubles, and I'm still not feeling completely better. I didn't go to my Well-fit session today because I was worried that it would not go well for my tummy. However, we still had to drive to Mississauga today because Ian's surgery is tomorrow afternoon. It was snowing quite heavily in Waterloo when we started out, and I was afraid that the drive would be awful but the weather cleared up.

Once we got to Ian's parent's house, I realized that I had left my Oxycontin in Waterloo. I thought that I had brought it but I guess I didn't. I had the Percocet, but if I take that then I'm not allowed to drive - it would be difficult to get either one of us back to Waterloo in that case. What kind of idiot forgets a crucial medication when they travel? One like me :) I felt really stupid once I realized that I'd forgot the pills. So we drove back to Waterloo to pick up my pills and then back again to Mississauga. I hadn't really planned to drive that much - especially with my tummy not feeling very well - but it worked out ok. The weather was fine and traffic wasn't too heavy.

I am finding that I'm quite forgetful lately. I'll be certain that I've done something, and then it'll turn out that I didn't do it, or that I forgot to do part of it. They said that one of the side effects of the oophorectomy and Femara (due to a lack of estrogen) would be cognitive difficulties, and it seems that I'm experiencing that side effect :( It isn't as bad as the last time I had cancer treatments, but it sucks. I'm going to have to start making lists of things. Ian doesn't believe in lists; but I find that if I write stuff down and have to check off that I've done something, I'm more likely to get everything done. Provided that I don't lose my lists :)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Being introverted in social situations

We went to Ian's department Christmas party today. We stayed longer than we ever have before :) It was held at somone's house and there were about 40 people there. I've met a few people before, but don't really know anyone, and so I find these sorts of experiences somewhat uncomfortable.

I don't really know how to mingle, and I don't know how to talk to people I don't know. I can say "hi, my name is Chantelle", but I don't know what to say after that. Sometimes I get as far as a mutually exchanged "what do you do for work/fun", but after that I end up standing there in an awkward sort of silence with one of those "I don't know what to say next" grins on my face. I want to be friendly with people, but I just have no idea what to say to strangers. I'm fine when there's someone there who can say "Chantelle curls every week; Bill, you wanted to try it, didn't you?" or something like that. But when I have to do that myself, well, I suck at it.

To be fair, the awkwardness was not all mine tonight - we were there with other bioinformatics (it's a branch of computer science) grad students, some profs, department support people, and their significant others. Many of those people, like me, are introverts, and have the same troubles I do.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Well-fit, and my purse

I had my first Well-fit session today. It was much like any other workout, except that I had someone telling me whether or not I was doing things correctly :) They've started me out slowly, which is good - for the weights, a max of 15 reps at light weight of any one exercise. As it was, I was still exhausted at the end of the session. I had a bit of a headache beforehand that turned into a slight migraine after that.

Before I had a big nap, we went to Home Hardware to find chain for my purse. I decided that I wanted a chain handle. I need about 13" for the handle, but they only cut in foot-long increments. I must have looked quite strange, buying two feet of each of three types of chain at Home Hardware - especially because it was clear that I didn't need even two feet, and that I wasn't buying them as samples :)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Curling and my purse

We saw the final of the curling tournament today. It was pretty good - a close game, for sure, although the game had been pretty well decided by the 6th end. One thing that I didn't like was that people really treated it like a hockey game by yelling at the players. Sigh. We had started out sitting on one side of the arena because they'd told us that we wouldn't get good visibility on the other side. However, after the first end, we decided that the visibility would be fine - and there were fewer people on that side, so Ian wouldn't be crushed by this big guy's water bottle.

I spent part of the rest of the day working on my purse. I've finished the silver-only bands already - I can do each band in about 40 minutes, which is pretty fast. You can see the purse, as always, here. My technique has improved, and I don't have to figure out all the angles again (they'll be the same as the first one), so I think this second side will take less time to do. After that, I'll have to do the band and then put it all together. That's good, because I have less than two weeks to finish it :)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Shopping and more curling

We started today off with a little shopping. We have those cards from Mark's Work Wearhouse where you can save $10 on any purchase of $50 or more. I was looking for sweaters, so I thought I'd go there. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they now have their own line of petite clothing. Ian thinks I've just missed it all this time, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen petite clothing there. I bought two round-neck cable sweaters - one in dusty rose and one in apricot.

Later on, we watched curling. We saw the quarter- and semi-finals of the WCT Grand Slam. In the semi-finals, one of the skips appears to have injured himself, and so his team lost. They had an announcer there that seemed to think that the crowd was watching a hockey game - loud music, and he wanted everyone to get up and dance. The game was televised, and so he did this every time an end finished so that the station could air commercials. Considering that the average age of the spectator there was north of 45, he didn't have much luck - the crowd was very unresponsive to his attempts to get it moving, yelling, and clapping. Some might say that curling is slightly more refined than that kind of loud behaviour. We'll see the finals tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A little curling, pain, and beading

We watched some more curling today. It looked like there were several groups of kids there watching Gushue play - they had tambourines, of all things, and were making quite a bit of noise. We sat as far away from them as possible :) We actually only watched part of one draw today, because we were much too tired to watch any more. It's important that Ian not get sick in the next week because of his surgery, and when he gets cold (as when he sits in a cold arena), he's more prone to being sick. So we took it easy today.

Unfortunately, I was too tired to even curl tonight :( This is because I was up last night with pain. In fact, I've been experiencing a lot more pain lately. They'd told me that as the treatment started to work, I might experience more pain. This is exactly what seems to be happening - the pain is much like it was before I got it under control. My knees are also hurting right now, which may be a consequence of the new coffee table and the laptops' position on it. Finally, I also have a spot on the back of my left thigh that is hurting in a similar way to my sternum. I hope that this new pain decreases soon.

I finished the first side of the purse!!! You can see the pictures here. I'm really, really pleased with it; it looks exactly like I thought it would (which is always a pleasant treat). I think that the purse will look really good. The two sides will be attached to a band in the middle that will give the purse some depth, so now I just have to bead the other side of the purse and that middle band.