Monday, June 30, 2008


We watched Days of Darkness today. It's another zombie movie - in case you haven't noticed, we watch quite a number of zombie movies :) This one had an interesting idea as to the cause of the zombie infestation but unfortunately the movie itself wasn't all that well-made. There were a few things that were supposed to be scary but were more funny than scary. Still, it's worth a watch just to get a different perspective on zombies.

I've always sort of wondered how zombies could live once they'd exhausted the supply of people (and other animals) on the planet. Since they don't die, how would they live? Regardless of whetehr they need to eat, they sure like to - so what happens once there's no food for them? They don't eat each other because they're not cannibals. Would there come a point where the zombies deteriorate enough that people could kill them off?

None of the movies we've seen really address zombie life after the initial human settlements are overrun. Do they stay in packs or alone? I also think it's sort of funny how zombies are always shown to be wearing all of their clothes. They're not exactly careful about what they do so it seems to me that eventually the clothes would be little more than rags and not complete clothes. Also, since zombies eat they must have some sort of digestion system (unless of course it's a perfectly efficient, closed system), and we never see that.

Clearly there's a lot more to know about zombies than we've seen so far.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

How much control do we have?

I managed to get my hands on today's New York Times magazine. Back when I got the Sunday Times I'd skim through the magazine without finding all that much of interest. Today I read the magazine from cover to cover.

The article that caught my eye was one that included a segment on why women who'd had breast cancer thought they didn't have a recurrence. The number one answer was a positive attitude, and at the very bottom was luck and Tamoxifen (4%). I thought it was odd that people give their positive attitude greater weight to their recurrence-free life than they do their treatments.

Having a positive attitude isn't all bad, as long as it's not forced and the person is genuinely happy and relatively calm. In that case, I can see how the person would not have as strong a fight-or-flight response to stress which would in turn put less strain on the immune system. I just don't know that this will prevent a breast cancer recurrence. What about all those people that ate really well, took care of their bodies, and were positive people, and who still got breast cancer? It may be that there are things other than a good diet, exercise, healthy living, and treatment that will prevent recurrence, but I don't know what those things are and I don't know if a positive attitude is it.

The thing that bothers me most with the idea that a positive attitude will prevent breast cancer is that this implies that a negative attitude will cause breast cancer and I think that's wrong. If people start thinking that way, then it's a small step to thinking that a person caused their cancer and then judging them accordingly. I know this isn't fair but it's not that unreasonable. Where do we draw the line? At what point are we responsible for a major medical problem like breast cancer?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More movies

We saw Wanted today. We both liked it - it's an interesting story with not-quite-predictable twists. The hard part is suspending disbelief for the movie because you have to accept that people can, say, shoot curved bullets. Once you've done that, the rest of the movie is believable. There's lots of action and the movie is fast-paced; if you like that sort of thing then you'll probably like this. Sadly, Angelina Jolie is not as gorgeous as she used to be as she is getting kind of scrawny. Her arms are stick-like and her body is less curvy and more angular.

We also rented some zombie movies for the long weekend. Tonight we watched Automoton Transfusion. the zombies in this movie are not your traditional zombies; they think, they plan, they sleep, and they can run. No shambling about for these monsters. The reasons for that are explained in a twist sort of thing at the end. This movie ends with a cliff-hanger and they are shooting a sequel. This movie is very, very gory. There is lots of blood and we get to see the zombies eating away at people and also tearing organs out of people while the people are still alive. In some ways, it was so gross it was funny.

One weird thing about this zombie movie is that it looks like they had three cameras: a "normal" one, a slightly grainy one, and a very grainy one. It wasn't always clear why one camera view was chosen over another. Anyways, if you like gory zombie movies, you'll probably like this one.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reasons for the rash reaction

Sorry there was no post yesterday - I went to bed very early because I was quite tired and had to be up early.

My oncologist called and said that she talked to the pharmacist about my rash. Apparently he said that the fentanyl patch releases a histamine when it's on the skin (taping it down releases more) and so when patch is removed and another one is placed, there's extra histamine released. I can normally handle this through my allergy meds.

However, Pamidronate also releases a histamine in the first 24 hours after it's been given. So if the patch is not changed, I can handle the amount of histamine. But if the patch is changed, the three sources of histamine is too much for me and I break out like that. To prevent this from happening, I should take an anti-histamine (preferably a non-drowsy one) before the Pamidronate.

I saw my family doctor today and he's not sure that it's totally an allergic reaction. Based on the pictures we took and the remnants of the rash on my arm, he thinks that I had an infection of some sort. He's given me a prescription for Keflex (an antibiotic) and I'm to take this at the first sign of such a rash.

It's good to know that I'm not crazy and that the rash was real. I guess it might have been better if I'd had the rash looked at earlier but at least I have plans for future Pamidronate infusions.

I tell you, this cancer treatment stuff is sure complicated.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More and more patterns

I managed to win an eBay auction for about 20 patterns from the 50s and 60s. There was one pattern (a Butterick 4 yard line pattern) in there and about five or six more that I would have like to have, so I think the purchase is justified. The auction was pretty tense at the end - I put my winning bid in in the last six seconds and the automatic bids took it a bit higher than I thought they would. Ian was concerned that I might have the start of an eBay bidding problem because I was so excited about winning. I don't know - it's the first time I've bid on something down to the wire like that and it was exciting.

I will have to think about selling off some of those patterns (not ALL of them are winners for me) as well as some of the other, newer patterns I have.

I have finished altering the pattern that arrived yesterday. It turned out that the pattern had 6 1/2" of ease on the bust and since I was only going to grade the bust up 2", I didn't bother doing that - 4 1/2" is plenty of ease there for me. I stalled when deciding which fabric I want to use for it, though. A lightweight one, like my bugs on mottled pink? Or a white eyelet? Or something with some stretch, like the white stripes on red? Or the turquoise graphic pattern? I'll re-evaluate tomorrow and hopefully be able to get it mostly done.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A very, very happy day

I saw my oncologist today. As we knew, my test results are very good. It turns out that there are some tiny, tiny sclerotic lesions on my left pelvic bone that showed up on the CT 6 months ago as well, but we looked at the latest CT scan and didn't see anything. So if there is anything there, it's so tiny that it's hardly worth mentioning. Also, the lesions are sclerotic, which my oncologist says means that the bone is being built up by the bisphosphonate. We agreed to not worry about the lesions we couldn't see. And of course we also know that the bone scan was clear.

I asked my oncologist about the rash I'd had but she didn't know of any weird interaction between fentanyl and Pamidronate. She was going to check with the pharmacist whether there's any known interaction there. I see my family doctor this week and I'll talk to him about it, too.

One of the things that I said to my oncologist was that I've been stable on one treatment for two years and that I figured I would have a "good run" - meaning that I expect to live for a while yet. I know that past performance doesn't predict future performance, but with only one bone affected, chances are good that I'll be around for a while. My oncologist agreed!!!!!! Whoo hoo!!!!

I know I haven't talked about this much here, but I'm still thinking of returning to work. I'm feeling so much better and so much more on the ball - I feel like I really get things again!!!! - and I'm worried that that I will get bored sewing and making jewelry all day. I can feel the itch to do more and to be working again, and when I think about it I'm excited, not scared. So I talked my oncologist about the possibility of returning to work and she fully supports the idea; she said that she has patients that work if they want to. She also said that if it turns out that it's too much for me at any time, she'd write a note saying that I couldn't work for medical reasons. This is a huuuuuge relief because it gives me an exit strategy (unlike, say, the war in Iraq).

I haven't made a final decision about returning to work, of course, and I won't do that for a couple of months or so. The idea will be staying in the back of my head, though.

To top off all of this awesome news, a pattern I bought last week arrived today! It's this one and I love it because of the square neckline and curved belt. I'm going to make a version with short sleeves and a straight skirt first and then possibly one with a fuller skirt. I can hardly wait!

Monday, June 23, 2008

More things to fit me

I don't think I've mentioned that I bought a bathing suit recently. Yep, I bought this one at Winners. It doesn't look quite like that on me because I'm shorter and wider than the model but I'm very happy with the way that it fits and every time I put it on, I want to keep wearing it. The skirted bottom doesn't look frumpy but gives a bit of coverage, which I like. I think I will bring the top front in just a bit so that I'm not quite as exposed up top.

I'm pretty well finished the major parts of sewing the first vintage pattern I altered and it fits really well. I even put the zipper in (and matched the waist seams!) The only thing I have left to do is the bias binding trim around the neck and sleeves, sew the buttonholes, and hem it - all of this I consider to be "the trim". And I didn't feel like doing this today, so I've started altering another pattern.

I'm working on this pattern, which is another (hopefully better) version of the Butterick Walk-away dress. Apparently the Walk-away dress was so popular that Butterick had to suspend production on all other patterns to meet demand - I don't know whether that's true, but that's what I've heard. I have to grade up the pattern and then alter it for me

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rainy movie Sunday

We saw Get Smart (the movie) this afternoon. It wasn't too bad, overall. It wasn't quite like the original tv series but there were definitely some funny bits in there. If you like comedies then you might like this one. I'm sort of watching Hackers as I'm writing this, and it appears to be a pretty funny movie. I didn't know that Penn was in it :) It makes computer tasks, memory, and processes look so cool.

My vintage pattern obsession appears to be running almost unchecked. I have bought some more patterns and hope to bid on another lot in the next few days. There comes a point where I start to wonder if I'm buying more patterns than I need ... especially if I add in all of the new patterns I have. There may come a day when I decide that I need to sell some of the patterns that I have. We'll see; there are only so many patterns I'll be able to sew.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Coz

We saw Bill Cosby perform tonight. We think that the show might be aimed at a slightly different demographic than us; perhaps it's aimed more along the lines of the retirement home members that were bussed to the show :)

Overall, the show was ok. Some of the routines went on a bit too long. One of these was the colonoscopy routine.... I guess the detailed description of how the laxative worked is funny to some but not so much to me, I'm afraid. Still, many people in the audience (like the person one row back and three seats to the left) found the show hilarious.

Regardless of how I felt about the show, there's something to be said for being able to see such a famous, iconic person at a live show. So it was worth it just for that.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chipmunk naps

We have the cutest chipmunks in the backyard! This afternoon a chipmunk was trying to find a good place to sleep. First it did some digging:

Then it had a little snooze:

And then a streeeeeeetch:

Finally, a stretched-out rest:

Those pictures are not bad, considering that the camera was still on manual :)

Ian's home now. He took a look at my rash and said that a) I hadn't described it properly to him and b) I should have seen a doctor. The rash has got lots of red hot itchy angry-looking bumps that now have a diffuse border where the previous pain patches were. Note that those patches came off before I had Pamidronate and the rash appeared about 24-36 hours after the patches were taken off. I did talk to the pharmacist today and she said to put cortisone cream on them. That's what I'm doing. Thanks for all of your help and suggestions, everyone.

Anyways - it's nice to have Ian home :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A unique form of exercise

I went to a trial pole dancing (polercize?) class tonight. I had a great time. We did some floor work, some practice against the wall, and a little bit on the pole (mostly walking around it and a couple of spins). It' s quite a workout! I very much enjoyed it and I'll think about taking a 6-week session later on. This studio has six levels that are offered as six-week sessions. At level 3 you get to wear high heels :)

The class made me forget about the itchy rash on my back and arm. I don't know what's happened but I have an itchy rash under where the previous fentanyl patches were (the ones before the ones I have on now). There are angry red dots that have shown up and they itch like crazy. it's almost certainly some kind of allergic reaction to the patches, although I don't know why I haven't had the reaction before (well.... I do have some bruisey things where I was leaning on an afghan on my bare leg this afternoon; this doesn't happen often and it doesn't look like that... maybe the two things are connected?). I'm reluctant to put anything on the rash dots in case I make them worse, but if anyone knows of a product that will make them not itch, I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I get to sew some more

Sorry there was no post yesterday - I had Pamidronate and it knocked me out at 7pm. I did wake up at 1am and watched Beneath the Planet of the Apes but when I went to bed afterward at 3am I stayed there until 1pm today. So I was tired.

I've received all of the vintage patterns I ordered, and the person who sent me the last two sent me one additional one. :) Someone on etsy also asked to trade patterns for earrings and I'm definitely not going to say no to that! I get three patterns and I am sending out two pairs of earrings.

Now I just need to get sewing. On Monday, after my doctor's appointments, I stopped by Fabricland and discovered that they were having a sale. So I bought the fabrics that I'd had my eye on... and I have patterns to go with them, too. I'm hoping to have some new stuff made before we go to Lexington, KY for the International Juggler's Association festival. So I have a deadline of sorts, too :)

Monday, June 16, 2008


I saw my family doctor today and he had my CT and bone scan results. They both showed nothing other than the sternal mets that I've had for a couple of years now. In other words, it looks like my cancer is stable. Yes!!!!! I was thrilled when I found this out and I'm still quite excited about it. I did a really big happy dance.

Later on I thought about my dad and how he'd be so happy for me and how it was Father's Day yesterday and how I was in Edmonton with my parents last year for Father's Day when things were starting (but we didn't know then how bad things were) and I dissolved into a puddle of tears. I ended up crying myself to sleep in a nap and so I missed bellydance class today. I haven't cried this hard since the day he died. Grief strikes in unexpected ways, even now. I love you, Pere, and I miss you so much.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Who needs an internet connection? Me!

Upon arriving home after a pleasant afternoon with friends, I did what I always do - plunked myself down on the couch in front of the laptop and checked mail and looked at some favourite websites.

I watched as the connection got slower and slower and finally died. I was able to ping some sites at first but eventually nothing got through. Looking at the modem, I saw that the DSL light was mostly off or flashing and I knew that this didn't bode well.

I called the provider and they are sending me a new modem. This means that I'll be without internet for at least two days until it arrives. ARGH! I'm typing this on my blackberry (I'm not totally without options, here) but I can't do all of my normal surfing on it - checking mail, yes; surfing through multiple sites, no. So if I don't post anything on this blog for a couple of days, don't be surprised.

I miss my internet already.

UPDATE: my internet is back! Yay!!!!! At least it's here now :) I'm wondering if the problem is our modem or if it's something to do with the lines that their stuff didn't catch. I know we'd had problems before with the internet cutting out like that, but they'd never offered to send a new modem.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

That etsy is some place

As you know, I list the items I make over on etsy. It's been an ok arrangement so far as I don't pay much to list and their take per sold item is low. I've whined about technical problems there before (they still don't have much in the way of testing before something goes live), but I'm quite disturbed at some things that have been happening lately.

I've always thought of the list of sold items list as a record of what I sold and a snapshot of the item's description/pictures at the time it was sold. I thought that this was a good way to keep track of how things change because it is something that wouldn't change - once an item is sold, it's been sold and the content of the page wouldn't change. Right? After all, if the page changed then I have no recourse if a customer says, "the listing says xxx." I thought that the sold items pages were pretty well inviolate.

Boy, am I wrong. Etsy admin have admitted to changing the content on sold items. There are some other issues surrounding the highest-publicized case, but if you want to read up on this, the information is here. They claim to have done this at least once for DMCA reasons, but that makes no sense to me; in changing the item without identifying that it has been changed, are they not deleting possible evidence? No, they don't add any text to indicate that the content was changed - there's no notice of that at all. I'm shocked and appalled. How could they think that the way they were doing this - let alone that they were doing this at all - was ok? They have a lawyer on staff; did they even consult her or did they just go ahead without thinking? Are they that stupid?

I've tolerated a LOT of technical issues at etsy because I know that they're a young company and they're cheap for me. But now - well, something is so wrong with this picture. Etsy admin are so far refusing to describe a process for doing something like this, probably because they don't have one. They do things in an ad-hoc way and are very, very reluctant to describe processes (they refused for a very long time to describe under what conditions a shop can be shut down due to a single buyer's complaint) so it wouldn't surprise me that they wouldn't have any kind of process in place for this.

It might be time to set something up somewhere else. Not that etsy would care if I left, but I don't know if I want to continue to support a company like this. I have some thinking to do.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pattern grading fun

You know I've been buying vintage sewing patterns, right? I always have to adjust sewing patterns to fit me but these vintage patterns are almost never the right size even before adjustment. Most times, I can only find a pattern in one size anyways so I don't even try to find one that fits. Tha'ts because measurements were very different, back in the day; in particular, bust measurements were proportionally smaller than hip measurements (they're identical now) and waist measurements were proportionally bigger than they are now. Add to this the fact that every pattern company had different measurement systems and you can see how hard it would be to buy something vintage that came close to fitting.

So I end up having to grade the pattern pieces. Grading is easy if you already have at least two sizes of the same piece, because then you can just extend the pieces along the intersection points if you're only going up or down a size. Lately I've been working on that awesome bodice, and I'm having to grade it 8" up for my bust. That's a lot of change! I'm adding 2" to each of my bodice pieces and if I don't do it right, the design lines will be wrong.

The resource most vintage pattern-sellers point to is this one. It's not bad for one or two size grades. I tried its method with this pattern and then looked at what I had and said to myself, "how can I be increasing the bust by 8" and NOT be changing the length of the underarm seam?" I found a much better resource here - check out the quick reference guide! This one takes into account the fact that the length will change (and not just at the shoulder) and it grades at the shoulder as well.

Hopefully now I can get this stuff right. Yes, I know that in some ways it would be easier to take my measurements, draft a basic block including ease (I now know how to do that - and anyways, I know how much ease is included in this pattern), and do flat-pattern alterations to get what I want. But where's the fun in that? :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer support groups

Today was the last Spirituality and Healing group for the summer. I'll miss the people in the group and the thoughts and ideas that we discuss there. I usually find this group quite comforting and I don't know what it'll be like, going a whole summer without it.

I didn't go to my young women's group last night because I didn't feel like going. As it turns out, the person with whom I don't get along was there and the meeting was "lively". I'm so glad that I'm not the only one that makes the meetings "lively". Whew!

Honestly, this meeting used to be useful, but I've felt lately that I'm just not getting enough out of it. I think part of the problem is that the group isn't talking about support issues; the faciliator asks a question like "what has been the best thing someone has done for you about your cancer?" or "where have you received most of your support over the last month?" and we all answer that question. I feel that these questions haven't been touching on what I consider to be the "real" issues around being a young woman with cancer. Yes, I want the group to be uplifting, but I do tire of trying to find positive examples for these questions. And I'm finding that I'm NOT talking about the things that are important to me.

I think that I might be more comfortable if each month we picked a subject - like sexuality, or dating after cancer, or being a parent with cancer, or physical changes, or menopausal symptoms, or frustration with the medical system, or mortality (our own or anyone else's), or chemo brain, or fatigue, or working, or insurance, or money, or any one of a number of other issues that affect young women with cancer - and took turns talking about our thoughts and feelings around that issue. Some subjects could even come up multiple times because there's so much too them. I guess if I were to go back to this group I should talk to the facilitator about this.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Too many patterns, nothing to do

I was trying to figure out which pattern(s) I should work on today. To do that, I put all of the vintage patterns I've bought together and looked at them. I looked at the patterns, then over at my fabric, and back to my patterns. Sometimes I'd pick up a pattern and look at the back and then I'd put it down again. I just couldn't decide what I wanted to do. I know that I have a few more patterns that will be arriving soon and I was sad that I might have to wait until one of those arrived before I could play with the patterns.

So I went back upstairs and surfed the internet for a while. After a while I decided that I would take one of the dress patterns that I love and modify it so that it'll look good on me. I'll use the top of this pattern and put a straight skirt on it instead of this flared skirt:

Honestly, I'd love to make the dress as shown, but a skirt that gathers in to the waist just makes me look like a chubby kid. I don't have either the height or the willowy waist to carry off the skirt volume. Still, I love the top and I think that it would look awesome on me, so I'll just change the skirt and hope I come up with something good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Home again

I'm back in Ontario again. I really enjoyed spending time with my mom in Edmonton these past few days and miss her very much already.

I knew that planes could be delayed in the winter because of weather but it didn't occur to me that the same thing could happen in the summer. There were thunderstorms last night that delayed my flight out of Edmonton by about 40 minutes. That wasn't so bad... but there were more thunderstorms this morning when the plane got to Toronto. We circled for a while and then the pilot announced that we were going to Ottawa. I guess there wasn't enough fuel to continue circling, so we landed in Ottawa and stayed on the tarmac until we could be refueled. After refueling we went back to Toronto.

All in all, my 3 1/2 hour flight took 7 hours (not including transportation to and from the airports). I was very glad to get off the plane and back to Waterloo. I've slept almost all day but I'm still tired; I'm hoping to return to normal tomorrow.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Does this label fit?

We watched Snow Cake tonight, a movie that revolves around a highly verbal, high-functioning autistic woman whose daughter has just died. Sigourney Weaver is the autistic woman and she does a wonderful job. I highly recommend this movie because it's Canadian and it feels very realistic in its portrayal of the small town. Besides, it's a good story. :)

The movie is quite interesting. I'm not autistic and I don't have Asperger's but some of the things the autisitc character did and said were not so different from things that I say and do - or think about saying or doing. For example, the woman asks someone to leave because she didn't want him around. He asks if half an hour will be long enough and she tells him that she didn't know; all she knows is that right now she wants him out of there. That's so true!

I have also wanted to hide from people, as she does, and I dislike being touched, as she does. I have certainly felt inappropriate responses to situations even if I haven't behaved inappropriately. I have rituals (like reading before bed, or the way I currently eat breakfast) and I am upset when they are changed. I have behaviours that are not at all similar to hers as well (for example, I am not at all obsessive-compulsive), but I definitely have things in common with the autistic character.

This has left me wondering at what point a collection of thoughts and behaviours becomes a recognizable disorder. Does everyone have some of these thoughts or behaviours, and it's only when they're all or almost all present that the autistic spectrum label is affixed to that person? Are some behaviours more definitive or important when determining which label applies? Or am I just this side of autistic? I don't know. It's interesting to think about, though.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A very big day

Every six months or so, the hospital in which my dad died holds a memorial service for all those that have died in the previous six months or so. Today was the memorial service that included my dad, and my mom and I went.

They said a prayer, listed the names of those who had died, said some more prayers and comforting words, and sang a song. When my dad's name came up my tears started pouring. I started to really remember his final moments and various other important times with him and I cried and cried and cried. I pulled myself together for the next prayers but fell apart again during the song. I do feel much better about my dad's death than I did before I went, though. It's as though a huge weight has been lifted off of me. I felt free to express my grief and think my private thoughts amongst all the people who were doing the exact same thing. I understand now how very useful a memorial service is for the people left behind after someone dies.

I still miss my dad very much. Being in Edmonton, my memories of and feelings about him are so much stronger. I know that this time will pass but really I wish he could have lived longer.

Later on this afternoon, we celebrated my mom's birthday. Her birthday is on Monday but it was easier to celebrate today. We had a fun time; everyone talked and we ate yummy cake and had a nice time. I wish that my other sister and her family could have come but it's not possible for them to do that right now. I also wished that I could have seen my nephews but they had prior commitments. Still, it was good to get together to celebrate life after remembering someone who died. And I liked getting together with family because I don't get to do that very often.

It was a very big day today and I'm very tired - the kid inside me is more than happy to go to bed at bedtime.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'm not good at buying on eBay

I love to shop; shopping is one of my favourite hobbies. And when I can shop for another hobby (like sewing or making jewelry), well, the fun just doesn't end. Lately I've been bidding on various patterns on eBay and I'm finding myself frustrated when I don't win the auctions.

The optimal strategy to getting what one wants on eBay is to wait until almost the last second and to scoop it up. I've lost a couple of bids because someone else has used this strategy. I know, I should remember when each auction is supposed to end and I should monitor my bids then. I'm not good at keeping track of that kind of thing and even if I were, the auction end time is not always convenient for me.

Personally, I don't find much of a thrill in the bidding and watching the price get higher, or copeting with another bidder. I get my shopping thrills by finding what I want - the search can be the best part, but I love it even more when I stumble across some perfect item in my price range - and then buying it. So instead of bidding on things, I really just want to "Buy it now". Unfortunately, most vintage pattern sellers don't offer this option and so I wind up annoyed by yet another lost purchase.

645 is .... not prime

Cube was on tonight on tv. I love that movie and it's been a while since I've seen it. The premise is that a group of characters find themselves in a maze of cubes, some of which are booby-trapped, and they try to find their way out. One of my favourite lines in the movie is "645 is .... not prime" because of course it's not prime; it ends in a 5 and so is divisible by 5. Anything divisible by 5 is not a prime number :) There are some other oddities in the details, and the acting isn't always perfect, but I find the the concept of the movie and some of the questions posed by it very interesting. It's worth a watch.

Edmonton is so gorgeous this time of year. The air is clean and crisp and it's light from about 5am to 11pm or so. Even though I'm tired and it's bedtime, it's hard for me to go to sleep when it's still light out. I remember going for walks in Edmonton around this time of night, or even a bit later, when I was younger - there's something about being out at dusk and during the nighttime and immersing myself in the stillness of the air that I love and miss. Tonight, though, I feel like a little kid who has to go to bed before the fun starts, even though the person sending me to bed is me and there's no fun being had by me later.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I'm not radioactive anymore

The tracer used in the bone scan I had on Monday can trigger security screening devices like those at airports. Because I knew I was flying today, I got a letter explaining that I'd had this tracer in case I set the device off.

I was kind of hoping that I'd set the device off - I thought it would be sort of cool to be that radioactive, in the way that I think it would be cool to be a superhero. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), I did NOT set the screening devices a-buzzing. From this I conclude that I'm not radioactive anymore.

In case you're wondering, I'm in Edmonton for a few days. I'm taking the redeye back Monday night and arrive back in Toronto Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

End of my scan-o-rama

I got a pleasant surprise at the CT scan today. Instead of having to drink the "tasty" barium drink for the abdominal CT scan, I only had to drink 1L of water over an hour. That was much tastier and easier on my empty tummy.

The CT scan went smoothly, because really they're just taking a few images and all of the readings and interpretations are done after. I ran into a couple of the people from my Spirituality and Healing group so we had a great time. I wonder what the other people in the waiting room were thinking when we were talking about the finer points of metastatic breast cancer. It isn't a conversation topic that can be heard in very many places, that's for sure.

I was very tired this morning because I'd over-caffeinated myself yesterday and didn't sleep well last night. Therefore, I had a two-hour nap this afternoon and am looking forward to sleeping soundly tonight.

I'll tell you, I'm glad that the scans are over for now. It can be hard to go through the scans because there's an underlying fear about what they're going to show. Now that the scans are over, I can put them out of my head until results day.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bone scan day

The entire bone scan procedure takes a long time. First you're injected with a radioactive tracer that settles in your bones. Then you wait three hours, and then you lie still for about half an hour while a big "camera" goes over you and measures the radioactivity in the bones (areas with extra or not enough activity warrant further investigation). The entire process takes about four hours or so.

The radioactive tracer is excreted through the urine, so during your three-hour tour you have to drink a lot of liquids. They want you to pee a lot, too, so it's important to stick around someplace where you can do that.

I'd heard a story about a woman who ended up with a weird "spot" of the tracer on her thigh which ended up being caused by a splash-back incident. I asked the technician about this and she said that this sort of thing happens all the time; they'll either take extra scans or wash the affected spot (or both) to see what's going on. She said that it usually happens to men and that the spots usually appear on their scalps. She also said that the men didn't always clue in right away as to why the technician was washing their head when they were just having a bone scan.

The moral of that story is that if you need to have a bone scan, wash carefully and thoroughly. Every time. :)

Anyways, aside from the boredom, the scan went well. They took the extra sternal scans that they take and that was it. Funny, a lot of people feel warm as the camera sensor moves over them; I do feel that, but I also feel tingling as the camera is over each area. It's very strange and feels like things are rising from the bone through the skin up to the camera above.

Tomorrow is my CT scan. There's less time involved, but also less food and the "wonderful" barium drink.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Annual scan-a-thon brought to you by Indiana Jones

We saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull today. We both enjoyed it very much. It was a good Indiana Jones action movie. Sure, there were some plot holes and some strange CGI things, but it was a satisfying story to watch and experience. I'd recommend it, if you haven't seen it already.

This is scan-a-palooza week for me. My oncologist is scanning me once per year so that we can keep track of how "things" (like, my cancer) are going. Tomorrow I have a bone scan and then on Tuesday we'll get my tumour markers and do a CT scan from my neck to my pelvis. I decided not to do a brain scan because it's highly unlikely that my cancer will head for my brain before it heads for anything else.

One of the things I don't like about scans is that they happen early in the morning. I get my bone scan injection tomorrow at 8:15(!!) am with the scan itself following at 11:15am. On Tuesday I have blood drawn for the tumour markers at 9:30 with the CT scan prep at 10am and the CT scan itself at 11am. And I can't eat after 6am that day. Yeesh. I wish I could sleep in a bit for these as I'm still not good at getting up quite that early.

I won't get the results from these scans until I see my oncologist on June 24 (or possibly on June 12, when I see my family doctor, if he has the scan results and I ask for them - which I may not do). I'm not going to worry about the results until much later because there's no point doing that - the results will come soon enough and no amount of fretting or worrying will change a thing. Well, I can say that until the night of the 23rd, at which point I can almost guarantee that I'll be cranky and nervous because I get my results then :)