Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Yep, it's my birthday, and I'm not even afraid to tell you that I'm 39 today. I had received a lot of birthday wishes by the time I checked my email and facebook and I was quite touched and pleased by that. Thanks, everyone :)

My birthday is a good time for me to think about where I'm going and where I've been, and that process will take a few weeks. Today I kept thinking about my childhood, in no small part because my mom sent my sisters and I The Hobbit, a movie that we watched over and over and over again when I was growing up.

Of course a lot of the memories I had were related to my dad, which is no real surprise. For all that I received a lot of birthday wishes, I didn't get one from my dad, and that's a little sad. And he would have talked to me when my mom called, of course. Still, this thought didn't send me crying and crying, but today it left me feeling sad with a hint of bittersweetness.

Even so, today was a good birthday; I got up late, worked on stuff, and went out for a nice dinner with Ian. A quiet birthday is what I wanted :)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sewing and more Rock Band

I managed to sew most of the day. I'd done this dress before and I changed the back so there were a few little oddities in the front. I changed those and I'm re-making the dress in a different fabric. I probably could have finished the dress if I hadn't got tired; also, I was sewing mostly black and it's hard to see as it gets dark (and rainy) out.

Once I got tired of sewing, Ian and I played some Rock Band. Yep, we're still playing, out on our "tour". I'm not a bad vocalist, although I can't sing. My pitch is definitely getting better, though, and there are certain songs that I can easily sing: almost anything by Oasis, Ballroom Blitz (who knew?), and even some Metallica songs. This is some fun for both Ian and me :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shopping, bellydancing, and Rock Band

I went to the new Fabricland in Stratford with a friend of mine - I haven't seen her in ages and was very glad to have seen her today. The Fabricland is bigger than the one I go to in Mississauga - in fact, it's about the same size as the Fabricland I used to go to that closed down in one of the malls. I did buy some fabric at 50% off and I'll be able to head there this next week if I want any Vogue patterns for $5.99 (which I probably will).

Even with all that shopping and chatting, I made it to bellydance to practice the choreography for the recitals April 6 and May 11. After that we did two hours of rather intense bellydance heart/chest movements.

I don't know if you knew, but people here were asked to turn their lights off/down for Earth hour between 8 and 9pm. Our sacrifice was to lay Rock Band in the dark with no lights or unnecessary machinery running. Lots of people around us turned their lights down, which was cool. And an even of Rock Band is always fun after a long shopping and bellydancing day.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

So much for good intentions

I'd meant to go to my Spirituality and Healing group but when Ian called around lunchtime, I mumbled something along the lines of "I'm too sleepy" and so didn't go. When the phone rang again and it was Ian, I was surprised that he was calling back so quickly. He said he was on his way home for curling and when I asked what time it was, he said that it was five minutes to 6pm. Oh. I guess I won't be curling tonight, either.

I'd planned to sew a bit but I've only been awake about three hours and doubt that I'll do any sewing. I did talk to a good friend of mine, which was fantastic (I've missed her a lot) and I watched some tv but that was it. I guess that's enough.

The reason I slept that long - around 18 or 19 hours altogether - was because of the Pamidronate infusion. I feel a lot better now and think tomorrow will be normal, but it is also normal that the Pamidronate causes some tiredness. Anything that causes tiredness seems to knock me right out for a while.

On the bright side, I got my birthday present from my mom - two books on advanced sewing techniques!!!!! As soon as they arrived yesterday I sat down and skimmed through both, cover to cover. I can't wait to use the techniques in the books :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pamidronate infusion

Getting the blood drawn and the Pamidronate infused was a LOT easier with the port. It was a little tender when they accessed and de-accessed the port but otherwise it didn't hurt. It's kind of cool because once it's accessed because there's a tiny needle in the port and then at right angles there's a tube about 1/8" thick. At the end of the tube is a thingy that they can use to screw in other things. They stuck a needle in the end to draw blood and give the saline and then the heparin flush.

The Pamidronate was screwed into the tube. The Pamidronate is in a balloon in a bottle and the vacuum suction draws the fluid out of the balloon. When the balloon hits the tube, the Pamidronate infusion is over. The nurse has saline and Heparin syringes with screwy-inny things that go into line; they use that to flush the Pamidronate through the port and then to prevent clotting.

The Pamidronate infusion does make me very sleepy and I'm a bit woogly today. I left my Fentanyl patch on for too long and it ran out last night so I started getting withdrawl symptoms today. Sigh. I'm also not very hungry today and I'm still tired. I hope that tomorrow is better.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Where did the snow come from?

I finished the dress in plenty of time (and I think it looks awesome, even though I know it isn't perfect) but the weather turned against us. Snow started falling around 3pm or so and by 5:30 we had almost three inches of heavy, wet snow. The roads were slick and we decided that we shouldn't risk ourselves by driving to Stratford. We will have to remember Kevin in our own ways instead as we can't make it to the funeral tomorrow.

I was looking forward to seeing the team, even though the circumstances suck, but that will have to wait. I hope to see one or more people this weekend; that Fabricland is having a 50% off sale for members. I have a membership for Mississauga and I hope that it can be transferred to Stratford.

Tomorrow I have my Pamidronate infusion and if all goes well, they'll be using my port for the first time. It's really healed well, except for one end where the stitch came up. It hasn't dissolved yet so they'll have to take it off tomorrow. It's going to be a long day, as I arrive at 12:40pm for bloodwork and then I have the infusion starting at 2:45pm. If it started earlier, I might make it to bellydance, but there's no way that I'll make it there in time. I hope the infusion goes well tomorrow.

Monday, March 24, 2008

So I'm making a dress

I don't know how much I have to wear that would be appropriate for the visitation tomorrow, so I'm making a simple dress to wear. I have to shorten and hem the sleeves, hem the bottom, and make the belt, but I think I can do all of that tomorrow.

The front, back, and raglan sleeves of the dress are gathered into a scoop neck band. I'm using that black cotton/silk voile over a black satin fabric for the dress and the satin for the neck band and belt. The voile is cut on the bias and I made its gathers bigger so that they'll fall away from the lining and I think it looks good. It definitely needs a belt because it doesn't have a lot of shape to it.

I hope that it works out tomorrow because if it doesn't I'll have to figure out something to wear. I'm pretty sure that I have an appropriate black skirt and jacket but I don't know if I have a top that isn't too casual. I think the dress looks ok but until it's all done, I won't really know whether it looks good. It may be that my changes don't look right, or that my lunch tomorrow doesn't leave me with enough time to finish the dress. I'll know tomorrow :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Not another one

I thought I said that I was tired of people dying? One of the fellows that paddled with the Silvermasters dragonboat team died today. He had chest pains this morning and died of a massive heart attack as he got to the hospital. He was quite young, in his fifties. I don't need to tell you that this sent a shiver down my back.

This man was very involved in the dragonboating community as well as the city in which he lived. Everyone knew him and although he would say that he didn't like people, he always treated everyone with respect and dignity. He wrote long, eloquent emails to thank people or wish them well and was liked by most. His death will leave a gigantic hole in the community. We will be going to one of the visitations on Tuesday.

Rest in peace, Kevin. You will be sorely missed by your wife and kids as well as everyone that knew you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mid-Easter weekend

I bought more fabric at Fabricland today. I also got myself a membership there because I shop at that one so often. Ian saw the total price and asked me if that was my spring/summer clothing budget. Ummm, yes. :) We also got some fabric and notions to make drum bags; it looks like the raw materials are about $13 per bag. I'd hoped the bag would be about $20-25, so that'll probably work out perfectly.

I had a huge cry the other night, when my test results came back good. I couldn't stop thinking about how he would have been so happy for me and how relieved he would have been. The thought that my dad isn't going to be feeling anything - that I can't go to him with questions or when I'm worried - made me so sad. :(

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Feeling better

I went to my Spirituality and Healing group today and I'm very glad that I did. The person who'd been taking notes during sharing wasn't there and I was very comfortable in the group. I felt fully supported and embraced by everyone, which was a nice feeling. I'll be going more regularly now, I think. I've missed this group.

I also managed to curl today - yay! I was worried that my new port would give me problems but aside from having to sweep on one side only, I felt fine. The port area is healing up nicely, too :)

My doctor's office has called my oncologist to see if she can set up a biopsy of the thickened scar tissue quickly. Since my surgeon is out of town it sort of makes sense to try and do this through the cancer center. I don't know how quickly they'll get around to scheduling it but that's ok. I see my oncologist in three weeks anyways so if nothing is scheduled beforehand I can talk to her then.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Results are in

As you probably remember, my surgeon did a fine-needle biopsy of a thickening that he found on my latest lumpectomy scar about 10 days ago. The results are in and the sample that my surgeon took showed ductal cells but nothing abnormal. However, because of my history, the report recommends a repeat test. My family doctor is thinking about the best way to get a new test done quickly since my surgeon is on vacation until mid-April; I imagine that we wouldn't do a fine-needle biopsy like my surgeon but will do an ultrasound or core-needle biopsy or something like that.

So so far, there's nothing there. That's good news, for now :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not at my best today

I felt awful when I woke up; I had a terrible headache and I was nauseous. I think I was migrainy so instead of doing anything productive, I laid down and watched tv. Later on I felt better and did a bit of pattern preparation. I'm going to sew a top out of some striped fabric I bought ages ago - the fabric is primarily pink, yellow, and white and I think it'll be cute.

Tomorrow I need to call my doctor to find out the results from the fine-needle biopsy that my surgeon took 10 a week and a half ago. I very much hope that I don't have more cancer in my breast. I'm a little nervous about making the call tomorrow, of course, but at the same time I'd rather know what's going on. Knowing means that I can deal with it.

My incisions are healing well. There are welts from the bandagey-things that they put on that seem to be everywhere. I can also see new welts forming under the clear dressing I've currently got on the big incision. At least the bruising seems to be going down.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Awake all day

The nurse came by to change the dressings on the incisions. I can shower again! :) The incisions are healing very well. The catheter can be clearly seen on my neck when there's no dressing there - I sort of look like I'm on 'roids :) The reservoir incision is also healing well. There's a lot of bruising there and the area is quite tender. Apparently the steri-strip adhesive (that holds the incision together) didn't agree with me as there were welts under each one. Sigh. I hope that this incision heals better than all of the other cuts and incisions have healed before.

I also did some sewing today. I finished up a dress - it looks interesting although I wish it was a bit longer. It's sort of a trapeze style and is a couple of inches above the knee, which means that I can't put a belt on it to make it more shapely. If I use this pattern again (and I probably will) I'll have to make sure to lengthen it.

This evening Ian and I played Rock Band. I told you he got a PS3 console? Well, he also bought the game Rock Band, where each person can play one of the guitar, bass, vocals, and drums. I have trouble playing the guitar because my hands are so small. So I did some singing. This is about the only time anyone would encourage me to sing :) This game is a lot of fun and I'd recommend it... it also gives Ian and I something to do together when we don't want to watch tv.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I stayed home today

I decided not to go to the visitation for my friend today. I wanted to go and show my love for Pat which I would hope would provide some comfort for her husband Lee. But I wasn't really going for me to lay Pat to rest. Also, I slept all day and the port incision sites are quite tender - I can't put the passenger-side shoulder elt over them yet and it's too dangerous to drive 4 hours in total down the 401 if I can't wear the seatbelt properly.

The nurse is coming tomorrow to change the dressing for my incisions. I'm really looking forward to this as it would be nice if the dressings were smaller. It's weird because I can actually touch the catheter part on the outside of my neck and when I do poke at it, I can feel it in my neck. Both the nurse and Ian say that I'll get used to the catheter, like a person does with a watch. I don't know. Maybe once the tape is off and not pressing the catheter into my neck it'll be better.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Yesterday was also port-a-cath day

Yesterday wasn't the best day ever. Not only did my friend die, but I had to have my port-a-cath put in. If I'd had a choice, I would have postponed it for a day when I was feeling stronger.

The best part about yesterday was when I was telling the nurse about everything that was going on. She gave me a big hug and when we both had a few minutes, she came and talked to me. She'd been a palliative care nurse and so understood the emotions I was feeling. I am very grateful to her for taking the time to talk to me.

The port insertion isn't all that complicated; the two main steps are to put the catheter part into the jugular vein and to put the reservoir part into a "pocket" that they make under the skin. To do all this they give local freezing.

You may not know this, but local freezing and I do not get along. It hurts like crazy when it goes in and I usually need extra because I metabolize it strangely. So the anaesthetic portion of my adventure was pretty awful and filled with howls and screams. Some would say that I'm a big baby when it comes to local freezing pain, and those some would be right.

Things got better after that. I felt a lot of pressure and things felt weird but they got the port in without any problems. I had to spend four hours in the recovery area but that turned out ok, too. I had a big, big nap :)

I now have a gigantic bunch of padding and tape over the incisions and I'm not allowed to get that area wet, so no shower for me until at least Monday :( The area is fairly tender to the touch and is stiff when I wake up. I'm taking tylenol for the pain and stiffness; I figure there's no point taking Percocet if I don't need to. Home-care nurses are coming in on Monday and again later in the week to change the dressing and make sure things are ok.

I'm going to my bellydancing workshop, although I missed the class at noon because I slept in. My plan is to take it very easy. Tonight is the juggling festival show and I'll be going to that, too.

Tomorrow is my friend's visitation in Oshawa; the funeral is Monday starting at 11am but I can't make it to that because of the home-care nurse coming in. I hope to make it to the visitation tomorrow; Ian's offered to drive me but there are juggling people in town and it would be better if he could spend time with them.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My friend died

My heart is breaking. My friend Pat died last night at about 10pm. She was 42. It's a fact of life that if a person has breast cancer metastases, the mets will almost certainly be the cause of death for that person. Pat started out with bone mets in a lot of bones in June, 2005 and the mets progressed to her liver last year. She'd been on a downward trend for some months but I kept hoping that she would respond to treatment or that there would be some last-minute miracle that would keep her alive.

Pat was a wonderful woman, welcoming newbies to the bcmets mailing list and posting funny, irreverent messages there. Who could forget her love of chocolate, ice cream, and shopping... and her wandering eyebrows?!? :) She was a great peacekeeper and diffused many a hostile situation on the list. She always had words of comfort and listened to many, many people. She was very well-loved.

I'm grateful that I saw her before she died and that she was lucid the times I saw her. I loved her and will miss her very much.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A little shopping

So I chickened out of going to my spirituality and healing group today. What with everything, I just didn't want to go.

I ended up going to Fabricland and buying some patterns that were on sale. I looked at some fabrics but decided not to buy any - I have tons and don't need to buy any more. I didn't do any sewing or anything when I got home, though; I just watched tv.

Tomorrow morning I get my port inserted. I hope it goes well.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Support group fun

I went to my young women's support group today. There were only two other people there besides the facilitator because it's March break and all the kids are off school so the parents are busy. I didn't get as much out of it as I'd hoped; instead of it being a structured sharing circle it was more of a free-for-all and the other people were quite vocal. So I didn't say a lot. I did talk a bit about what's going on but that was it.

Tomorrow is the spirituality and healing group. Apparently the Tuesday and Thursday groups have been merged. As I think you know, I'm uncomfortable with people taking notes about what I'm saying during sharing circle. I'm concerned that the person who had been taking notes in another group (she was in the Tuesday group, not the Thursday one) will be at tomorrow's meeting and so I'm reluctant to go. I expect I'll go anyways, but I'm more nervous about it than I was before.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's been a couple of days....

Sorry I haven't written anything in the last couple of days - I've gone to bed early both days and I've been too tired to write anything. I'm on my way to bed now but I'll give you something new to read :)

I saw my family doctor today and he said that if I had a new recurrence in the same breast, we would need to re-evaluate all of my treatments. Sigh. He also said that the reason I'm sleeping so much is that I'm taking so many painkillers, so we're going to start to increase the fentanyl patch and decrease the oxycontin to twice a day. Hopefully that'll keep the pain down without making me feel too tired.

My friend is still very ill and declining. Apparently her doctor has said that it's a matter of days now before she dies. I'm so sad. I want to visit her but I don't think I can really do that - and it occurred to me that I might be trying to help her in the hopes that the outcome will be different than my dad's was.... that she wouldn't die. But there's nothing I can do to help her and I can't use that to try and block the grief I feel about my dad. I'll email her husband so that he knows that he's not alone, but I can't give any more. This was a very hard realization to come to because I want to do everything I can for my friend and her family.

Tomorrow I have my young women's support group. I think I'm looking forward to that; it's hard to say. I've been spending most of my awake time down in my sewing room, playing with fabrics or sewing, and part of me would rather do that tomorrow night instead of going to a support group. However, I know that I'm in need of support so I'll go. When I get home tomorrow, if I'm not exhausted, I'm sewing. For sure :)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A snow day

I got to sew today! Well, first I slept in until mid-afternoon, and then I sewed. I'm just about finished the dress I'm making; it's a round neck with gathers all around. I had lengthed the sleeves because they were just puffy cap sleeves but they're too long, so I'll shorten them tomorrow. I'm also going to take the dress in a bit at the waist. The dress isn't quite a rectangle but it's close and the little bit of extra shaping at the waist will make it look even better.

Tomorrow I'll sew. Ian has finally bought himself a PS3 game console along with some games and is quite happy to spend all his time playing games :) That suits me fine because I want to sew.

I had wanted to visit my friend in hospital but the roads aren't going to be good enough tomorrow. I hope to go on Thursday this week, maybe. She is slowly deteriorating as her liver is not improving. They basically just have her on fluids and painkillers and she sleeps all the time. I don't know how long this stage lasts but it won't go on forever. When I found out that she was doing so poorly this afternoon I had a big cry - I'm not ready for her to die. She had a good word for almost everyone on the list and she gave the list joy and happiness. Her passing will leave a very big hole that won't be easily filled. I (and many others) will miss her terribly.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Saw my surgeon today

I see my surgeon every three months or so right now; in fact, I was supposed to see him on February 14 but what with my dad, I didn't make it to that appointment. He's going away next week and I was lucky to get in to see him before he left.

During the examination, he found a thickening in latest scar (the one from the last lumpectomy in May, 2006, where he removed the recurrence tumour). This thickening wasn't there the last time he saw me in November so he took a fine-needle aspiration sample of it and sent it off to the lab. He'll get the results in about 10 days, except of course he won't be there, so hopefully I'll get the results from my family doctor. The thickening could be nothing or it could be the cancer coming back in my breast.

This turned out to be the straw that broke the camel's (my) back. I'm still dealing with my dad's death, and my friend isn't doing well, and now there's a possibility that the cancer has come back in the same breast. Aaaaarghhhh! I started freaking out a bit. I know it's not the same as worrying that the cancer has showed up in some new organ, but it's worrisome enough as it is and I don't feel equipped to deal with this on top of everything everything.

So I did a little retail therapy. I went to Fabricland and bought lots of patterned stretch jersey and some 70% cotton/30% silk voile in both black and white and some other polka-dotted stretch satin fabric. I also bought some patterns that were on sale for $2/each. I did what I could to save money but I still spent a lot. Yes, I felt a bit better afterwards. I'd walked in a zombie and came out excited about the fabrics. After curling this evening, I washed the fabrics and I picked out a pattern and prepared it. I'm going to sew this weekend.

On Monday, I'm going to call my social worker. As well, my Spirituality and Healing group starts meeting again on Thursday and my Young Women's support group meets on Wednesday this week so I'll go to those. I feel like I need some help coping and as much as I love love love retail therapy, I don't have unlimited funds.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Happy birthday, Pere

My father would have been 65 years old today. I miss him so much. :(

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A lazy bellydancing day

I went to bellydance today for the first time in a while. I discovered that I don't remember the choreography, but that's ok. There are classes on Saturdays that are doing this choreography and I can take some of those to make up for the ones that I missed.

I've been meaning to do some sewing but I haven't been able to figure out what it is that I want to sew. You know how that is? I spent the afternoon looking at my fabrics and trying to think of what to sew. Nothing is shouting out at me, though, so maybe I should leave it.... but I feel like sewing. I guess it's good that I have a project to work on :)

I've also been wasting time over at FreeRice. It's a vocabulary game where for each word you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated through the UN World Food Programme to help end hunger. So my time isn't exactly being wasted if it's for a good cause, right? :) I encourage those of you who haven't played this already to start... it's quite addictive.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Returning to normal

Yesterday I saw my friend in hospital. Mostly I just sat in the area reading magazines and sketched or dozed while she slept. It took quite a bit of driving to get there and I was quite tired when I got home. My friend seems to be doing a little bit better now - her colour is better and she's less swollen.

I ended up sleeping all day, which was a good thing. I have my port-a-cath insertion scheduled for next Friday the 14th. There's a bead show in Toronto that weekend and I'm not sure that I'll be able to go after the port is put in. I hope I can go - I really only want to look at certain things, but I can't see myself driving or anything. So I'll have to see.

The rest of this week marks a bit of a return to my "normal" schedule. Tomorrow I have bellydancing and then Thursday and Friday I'm curling.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Movie day

We saw Be Kind, Rewind today. It was hilarious! The premise - the video tapes all get erased - is kind of ridiculous, but if you can get past that, the re-enactments of each of the movies is really, really funny. Ian and I both howled through most of them. There is a sad undertone to the movie, though, and the ending is definitely not an everything-works-out-for-the-best ending. It's more of an everything-falls-apart-anyways ending. I liked that.

Ian accuses me of liking Jack Black. I don't know whether it's him that I like or his movies - the movies that he's in always look really, really funny to me. There's something about them that makes me giggle. Knowing that I can laugh at his movies is a good thing.

My friend improved slightly today. I'm going to go and see her tomorrow as I think the weather is supposed to be worse on Tuesday (provided I miss the morning rush hour, which I will). I intend to have a nap while I'm there :)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Visiting my friend

We went to see my friend today. Actually, we picked up another person from the list and took her, too :)

My friend has done better - she has mets to her liver and it's not working. I suspect that she feels that she is near the end of her journey. This makes me very sad and a little overwhelmed because, quite frankly, my dad's death is quite enough death or end of journey or whatever for now. At the same time, I have a very strong compulsion to reach out to my friend and her family.

I got to meet my friend's husband today so he knows that I'm not some crazy stalker woman :) If my friend is still in hospital this week, I'll make the trip out to sit with her for an afternoon while her husband works. I very much hope that she pulls through, though, and that she's back at home soon.