Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's my birthday!

I turned 40 years old today. Where has the time gone? I remember being 12, in 1981, thinking about when I would be 40 in 2009 and it seemed so, so, so far away from then. And yet here it is.

Each year around my birthday I take a little time to think about where I'm going, where I've been, whether I happy and of course I'm doing that this year. In many ways, this year is different than previous years because 40 is different to me. I sort of feel like I'm not young anymore; like the age of youth is past for me, if that makes sense. It's not that I'm old, because I'm not, but I'm no longer young either. I couldn't hang out with 20-year-olds because I wouldn't fit in with their world. I fit more into an older world, now.

At least I've already had to let go of a lot of things associated with being young because of the cancer so I don't have to do that at this point. But still, there's something about the number - 40 - that makes me stop and think harder than usual.

For the record, I am happy with who I am, what I've done, and where I'm going. I've got a pretty good life even though I've got cancer. I'm happy to be me.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring window shopping

For the first time in ages, I got to go to Stylesense to look at the shoes and accessories there. Because of the cane, I can't wear the awesome high-heeled shoes I love... so I'm on the lookout for awesome flat-soled shoes that I can fall in love with. I didn't find any today, unfortunately, but I did get a good look at the shoe styles.

There are a lot of very high heels - over 5" - out there. Of course these shoes use platforms, but the heels themselves are quite skinny. There aren't a lot of points of contact with the ground with these shoes. That's not to say that the woman wearing these shoes needs to worry about her feet slipping off of them; oh no. That woman's foot is strapped and laced and buckled in from toe to ankle (and sometimes to shin). No one will mistake these shoes for boots because the strapping and lacing and buckling gives a sort lattice (bondage?) effect. The open skin will also help to keep the woman's foot cool and comfortable while she's tottering around on these heels.

I also went into Fabricland and was, quite frankly, amazed at the gorgeous spring fabrics they had - and this is the one in Kitchener, which doesn't have the selection the others do! I used to have ...er, "borrowed from my sister and never returned" a skirt that I loved - it was made of the softest, prettiest cotton with just a bit of body that I loved. Since then, I've been looking for fabric that felt like that and I found it for the first time today in Fabricland. There were other beautiful cottons and jerseys and drapey fabrics, too. I wish I had a specific project for one of those fabrics... they're so pretty.

Believe it or not, I didn't buy anything today... neither shoes nor fabric. If I'd found the perfect shoe or had a project in mind for some fabric, I would have happily made a purchase... but I didn't want to buy anything just to buy stuff. That's what eBay is for. :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Movies, movies, movies

We watched Infamous this afternoon; it's the second of two recent movies about Truman Capote and how he wrote the book In Cold Blood, about two men who killed a family of four in Kansas back in 1959 while looking for money. The first movie was award-winning Capote, which we saw some time ago.

This movie was a biopic and included "interviews" with some of his society and other friends, which gave additional insight into Capote's character. This movie was also interesting in that it implied that Capote and the killer he was interviewing developed a very close (possibly sexual) relationship. As an aside, I must say that Daniel Craig did a fine job portraying that killer, and their kiss was awesome :) That man is an awesome  actor. The movie also implied that Capote didn't necessarily quote his sources perfectly accurately, but rehearsed them beforehand in order to get the greatest impact.

These two differences might be closer to the actual truth of what happened during and after the interviews. Not that the exact truth will ever be known, of course, given that these events occurred almost 50 years ago. Still, I'd rather see something more honest and closer to the truth than glossing over it.

We very much enjoyed Infamous and think it stands both on its own and as a companion piece to Capote. Both are worth seeing if you haven't seen them.

This evening we watched the final movie from our Ghost House Underground collection: No Man's Land: Rise of the Reeker. It's apparently a sequel or prequel to Reeker but we didn't feel we missed anything even though we hadn't seen the first moviewhich we hadn't seen but we didn't feel that we missed anything. It was an interesting movie where people wind up in a "time out of time" bubble together with a serial killer who was there to dispatch anyone there. The pacing was a bit slow but the concept of the movie was good. The dialogue and acting were pretty good, too. This movie didn't have too much gore, either, although there were some gory bits. If you like this genre, you'll most likely like this movie.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday movie night

We finally got to see Quantum of Solace at a friend's house tonight. As a regular movie, it was ok. There was a lot of action and a reasonably realistic plot. It didn't seem much like a Bond movie, though. He wasn't as gritty as he was in Casino Royale and he definitely didn't get a chance to be as classy as usual. In many ways it felt more like a Bourne movie than a Bond movie, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. The major failing of the movie was that if you hadn't seen Casino Royale, this movie wouldn't make as much sense to you.

I also didn't like the opening sequence or the title song; the images weren't all that interesting and the song was pretty bad. Have you heard the song on the radio? No? That's because it's *that bad*.

All of that aside, if you like action-type movies with chases and subterfuge and whatnot, you might enjoy this movie. It's watchable, but I'm glad I didn't pay full theatre price for it.

BTW, in case you were wondering why I didn't have a blog entry yesterday, it was because yesterday was kind of a write-off for me. I didn't get up until 7pm - yes, 7pm. Now, I didn't get to sleep until quite late Wednesday night, so I wound up with around 16 or 17 hours of sleep, which isn't all that unusual. But getting up at 7pm - that's not normal.

My pattern had been to have about two or three days of waking up at a decent hour and getting stuff done followed by a day of sleeping for 16 or 18 hours or so. Lately, I've been waking up in the early- to mid- afternoon for a couple of days followed by a day of sleeping 16 or 18 hours or so. Who knew a person could sleep sooooo much?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sparkly things

People who know me know that I'm attracted to bright and sparkly things. I love sequins, shiny fabric, rhinestones, and anything that would shine or sparkle under lights. I'm easily distracted by these things and love to collect them. I have a whole section of fabric that's silver, sparkly, and pretty, as well as sparkly beaded trims, rhinestones, sequins, and beads. It's not like I wear any of this stuff, though. I just collect it. Some have said that it's my Ukranian heritage that has made me like this and others think that I'm just like a crow, catching shiny things for my next.

I have another theory.

Tonight I was watching Benny Ninja on America's Next Top Model and did a little research on him and on the whose House and Ballroom scene in New York. Each House competes in a variety of drag queen competitions (Balls) to win trophies while also providing a kind of home for LGBT people, especially those who haven't got another home. There's quite a huge history on the Houses and their impact on the LGBT community.

Anyways, one article was talking about one person's sewing room, that had feathers and pearls and rhinestones and shiny fabrics everywhere... and that's when I realized it: I must have been a drag queen in a former life. I know I'm not a drag queen *now*, but I think I must have been one before. I can't think of a better explanation for my love of sparkle and theatre and spectacle :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finally, a decision

I finally made a decision about what to sew next. I have so many patterns that I've increased my vintage pattern storage boxes to four and I spent quite a bit of time today organizing and putting away all of my vintage patterns. After that I went through each box and picked out the patterns I want to sew. Out of the ones I picked out, this is one I'm going to prepare first:

I'm going to sew the pencil skirt and most likely the long sleeves, unless I don't have enough fabric or decide that I want short sleeves.

Of course I don't want to prepare a pattern without knowing what the final fabric will be. As you know, this is one of the reasons that I've had problems choosing a pattern; I have *so* much fabric that I was having trouble matching the fabric to the pattern.

Fortunately, looking through my fabric stash, I spied a vintage Liberty Jubilee fabric with cream polka dots on a steel-grey ground. This fabric is a 72% cotton, 18% wool twill weave and is *gorgeous*. I rummaged through my remnant pile for the contrast tie and found cream dupioni silk that perfectly matches the dots. I'm so excited; I wanted something I could wear in cooler weather that's neither dressy nor casual and I think I'm going to achieve that with this fabric and pattern combination. I can hardly wait to get started!

Although this dress is being made with a fabric containing wool, I think I'm not going to line it. Instead, I'll make a full-length slip which will protect my skin from the wool as much as a lining and can be re-used. I've got a bunch of light-coloured fabrics that I'll be sewing into summer dresses but they're too sheer to wear on their own. Full slips will help to de-sheerify the dresses and have the additional benefit of helping the dresses stand away from my body, reducing the appearance of my lumps and bumps.

I also started preparing this dress:

Every time I turn around it seems like I'm looking at this pattern. I really do want to make this dress. I think I  want to make it out of a black corduroy with a red cherry design for the dress together with a light green contrast fabric and green buttons for the tabs (and maybe the cuffs and collar).

So why haven't I prepped this dress? Is it because I don't want a waist seam? Or because I don't want the kimono sleeve? Yes. I do have this similar dress pattern:

... and I think I could use that to make the kimono bodice into separate bodice and sleeves, maybe. And I'm pretty sure that I know how to remove the waist seam. But all of that is a lot of work and I don't know if I want to do *that* much work. So we'll see; maybe I won't make all of those changes and sew the pattern as-is... or with shorter sleeves.

Either way, I'm starting work on a dress. Yippee!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

To Toronto and back

The Oasis show, one of the bigger bead shows in the area, was on this weekend in Toronto. Originally, I wasn't sure I that was going to go to the show. I don't exactly *need* any beads and I have been spending money on patterns and fabric lately. On the other hand, I do have this bridesmaid order and although I have beads for it, I could use some others. You see, the bride didn't want a lot of sparkle (it's a beach wedding), so I could use some less-sparkly beads.

So I ended up driving to Toronto for the show this afternoon. I did spend a bit more there than I probably should have.... but I *did* spent less at this show than I've spent at any of the previous Oasis shows. That's practically the same as spending practically nothing, right?

Ok, it isn't, but I did get a good selection of beads for the bridesmaids. I got some gorgeous dyed mother-of-pearl that matches the colour scheme and has swirls that echo the ocean. I think they'll work perfectly. I also got some small apatite and moonstone faceted rondelles (like very tiny faceted donuts with small holes) to use as accent beads. Of course I bought some things for me, too :) I did pass up the graduated aqua chalcedony rondelle necklace as I really had no use for rondelles that big. It was so pretty, though.

I figured that since I was already in Toronto, I would stop in at Good for Her (may not be safe for work, especially past the home page). At the risk of TMI, you might remember that I have vaginismus. I've been meaning to go to this store because I thought they might have something that could help. I was right.

The store is awesome. One reason that I went today (aside from the fact that I was in TO; I'm in the greater area occasionally and could have gone another time) is that Sunday afternoons and Thursdays at lunch are designated for women only. I thought I might not feel comfortable going to a store like this if there were men there - especially since I was nervous - and I thought a women-only environment would be better for me.

The store is small but is well-lit and has a lot of product out on the shelves. The staff are very friendly and helpful and are quite knowledgeable about the products they carry. When I went in, they offered me tea or water, which put me at ease and also kind of helped to break the ice. I was comfortable talking to the staff about why I was there and what I needed and I would definitely go back there if I needed something else. I highly recommend this store; if you want or need the kind of product they carry, it's a great place to buy it.

The store also has a lot of different workshops for men, women, and couples. I've looked at those before; some of them look like they might be useful or interesting. They seem to be aimed at all different kinds of people. I think if I was to take a workshop or class like that, I'd take it from there.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A lot of movie-watching

We finally got around to going out and seeing Watchmen . It was better than I thought it was going to be; there were parts that dragged in the graphic novel and could have made the movie feel much slower than it did. Don't get me wrong; the movie is long at almost three hours but it doesn't feel long until the end. I found the movie a bit easier to follow than the novel but I don't know if that would be the case for people who hadn't read the novel.

I thought the first half of the movie was better than the second, not because the story was better but because the cinematography was better. Many of the scenes made extensive use of reflections which added an interesting subtext to the movie.... and then that technique was abandoned. Then again, maybe I just didn't like the last, Antarctica scenes.

Even so, the movie was pretty good; we both enjoyed it and recommend it.

So there's nothing wrong with a good mainstream movie that most people have seen (or at least heard of), but you know that we like movies that are a little more off the beaten track, as it were.

Tonight's less mainstream movie was Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. It's a zombie movie where the source of the zombies is.... wait for it.... mutant chickens!!! Oh, it's something else :) In many ways, the movie is funny in the way that all of those parody-type movies are funny: it's got lots of puns and silly jokes, a little nudity, quite a lot of political incorrectness, and a silly premise. It's a zombie movie! With chickens!

The movie has a lot of blood and lots of gore in a sort of funny, over-the-top, only partly-believable (but still grotesque) way. There's a lot of blood, a lot of vomiting, a lot of disgusting gore, a lot of sex, poo, and fart jokes, and a lot of hilarious dialogue. Oh, and did I mention that there were songs? Yep, there are songs. They're hilarious - and even better, many had interpretive dances to go along with them.

If you don't mind a bit of gore and you like a lot of puns and the idea of half-human, half-chicken zombies - and really, who doesn't? - you'll love this movie. Ok, you might not love it, but you'll laugh at it (when you're not closing your eyes because of the gore, that is).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pick one

It looks like a sewing pattern explosion happened in my sewing room. I didn't realize how many new patterns I have that hadn't been put away. They're almost all in bags now and they're all over the floor.

I probably would have left them all on the card table but I *still* couldn't decide what to sew. I thought that by organizing and sorting my patterns in the same room as my fabric, I'd be able to figure out what to sew and which fabric to use.

This plan didn't work as well as I'd hoped. I keep picking out these GORGEOUS evening dress patterns that I love so, so, so much... but I don't need evening dresses. They're gorgeous, and one of them will probably wind up being a dress I wear to a summer wedding, but I don't need any of them right now.

No, what I need now are spring day dresses. And I have a ton of patterns for spring day dresses. I have patterns for button-front dresses, princess-seam dresses, plain-front dresses, dresses with raglan sleeves, dresses with kimono sleeves (sleeves all in one with the bodice), short-sleeve dresses, three-quarter-sleeve dresses, dresses with straight skirts, dresses with a-line skirts, dresses with fullness in the back, dresses with pleated skirts, dresses from the thirties, forties, and fifties (and the sixties and seventies, but I'm not as interested in those dresses)... you see the problem.

Maybe I should just close my eyes and pick one. That would certainly waste less time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I get to go to the conference

I received word today that my grant application was approved. I will be getting about $30 less than I'd asked for but I'm ok with that as that difference is practically the exchange rate.

I've registered for the conference and booked my flight. I have to book the hotel but the rate for the conference (which they'll pay half of) is higher than the rate online. I know I should just go ahead and book the hotel at the lower rate but I've contacted the grant person anyway to be sure that this will be ok. I'm going to get a room on my own and pay the extra; it's not that I don't mind sharing with someone, but in many ways I'd rather be on my own or with Ian.

I've started to be quite excited about going as I know some of the people that'll be there and we're making plans to have dinner Friday and Saturday nights. I arrive Friday at lunch so I'll have Friday afternoon to do a little bit of exploring. The hotel isn't downtown but in a suburb, I think, and that's ok - there must be things to do there.

This conference gives me a *reason* to sew me some clothes, and hopefully this will allow me to actually pick some patterns to sew. I won't be able to devote my full attention to sewing as I'm making the jewelry for the bride, but I'll have time afterward as long as I don't sleep all day and I don't surf the internet all the hours I'm awake.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Where did the day go?

Yesterday was a crazy busy day! I was up early to go with Ian to an appointment and then I had my hair cut and had to go grocery and water shopping. After all that - which is more than I usually do in a day - I crashed. Ian called at one point and I fell back asleep afterward.

And then I slept more than half the day away *again* and I'm still tired. I don't have the Pamidronate as an excuse this time - so why am I so, so tired?

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel well-rested. The days have been so beautiful that I feel like it isn't really living to be sleeping through them.

Monday, March 16, 2009

An ah-ha! moment

This pattern grading thing is going to get the best of me, I swear. You know I've been working on grading up vintage patterns for a while now and I've run into problems now and again. I bought two sizes of the same pattern to compare the grading, looked up measurement charts on the internet, pulled down a book I'd borrowed from my mom, and I realized something: although the bust, waist, and hip measurements change from era to era, the grading is the same.

Yep, they're all graded the same way. Ah-ha!

Well, they're all graded the same way when you get up to my size, anyways. And it turns out that I haven't been using that way. I've been doing it incorrectly. First I tried using a method popular on the web and referenced all over the place, but that method isn't all that precise and it doesn't really explain what to do when grading over huge sizes. Then I tried using a method that is probably the correct way to grade but not is what is used by the pattern companies. As a result, I was having a hard time getting the bust to fit properly. And the whole time, I needed to use the method in my mom's book to grade the pattern up to the right bust size and then adjust the waist and hip.

So of course I'm aching to go ahead and trace up a pattern and grade it... so why haven't I started doing that? Sigh. I just can't decide on *which* pattern I should use. I've got so many, and so many that I want to work with. Being paralyzed by indecision is not a new feeling for me - there is such a thing as too much choice. I guess I just need to pick one, any one, and work on it. And then hopefully not have the same problem choosing fabric as I'm having choosing a pattern. :) I have lots of gorgeous fabric and I worry that I'll waste awesome fabric on a pattern for which it won't work.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Should I stay or should I go?

Some of the YSC people are talking about going to a conference in Philadelphia in April. Elizabeth Edwards is going to be there and they're having talks aimed at women who are living with mets. Part of me wants to go and hear what they have to say because it sounds interesting, and of course I'd love to meet up with people. But on the flip side, it's not a non-zero cost and traveling can be a hassle.

Looking at the website, it seems that they have scholarships that can be used to cover the registration, transportation and half of the hotel costs, even for people in Canada! So I've applied, and if I get the full amount I applied for I'll go. I put in an estimated airfare amount based on the rates I saw but I don't want to book something I might not get to do.

In the application I had to say why I need the grant and what I would do with the knowledge gained. I figure that I could work with Hopespring on bringing back some information for them. I hadn't actually thought that part through but I'm pretty sure I could work something out.

Anyways, we'll see - it's worth the few minutes to apply for the grant, and if I get it, then it might be a fun and worthwhile trip.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

And another one gone

Remember I went to Westport in November? I shared a hotel room with a woman from the YSC board to cut costs. She was my age and she was amazing; she had a cane and she managed to lug a huge suitcase and a wheelchair through train connections on her own. I was quite impressed and she was one of the first people I thought of when I started using my cane because she was so nonchalant about it. I wish I'd told her that.

I found out yesterday that she died on March 1st. :( Of all the people that were there that weekend, she was one of the last I'd expected to have died so soon after the trip. She was doing quite well at the time and I guess she started to go downhill in February, with brain mets showing up and then her liver failing. Even still, she deteriorated really fast.

I'm sad because she's gone and I'm sad that she went so quickly. I guess this just goes to show that it's important to do the things you want to do now because there might not be a later. You just don't know.

Speaking of doing things now, the UW juggling show was tonight. It was really, really good; the caliber of people performing in the show has increased a lot over the last few years. I was especially impressed by the unicyclist, the yoyo guy, and the guy doing the finale. Oh, and it turns out that we'll have two people staying with us tonight instead of just one. Good thing our couch is super-comfy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

How much can one person sleep? Too much.

You probably didn't know this, but I've been sleeping a lot this week. Wednesday, for example, I got up at 6pm. Yes, 6pm! And that's after going to sleep around 11pm the night before!

Then today I got up at 11am but fell asleep around 4pm until Ian got home at 8pm. Of course while I was awake I did manage to clean the bathroom and wash some sheets; we have a jugging guest staying with us tomorrow night and I wanted those things, at least, to be clean for our guest. The rest of the house remains the mess that it is.

Anyways, I couldn't figure out why I was sooo tired. Yes, I'd driven to and from Oakville on Tuesday and Thursday, but driving doesn't usually tire me out so much. Not to the point where I sleep until early evening, in any case.

And then I remembered that I'd received my Pamidronate on Monday, and I know that one of its side effects is to make me really, really tired. I guess it also makes me kind of slow if I can't even figure out why I'm so tired!

This weekend is the University of Waterloo annual juggling festival, and while I won't spend much time at the event but I'll definitely head to the show at 7pm in Hagey Hall. I'm sure I can manage to be up and about by then :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Video games, movies, and guns

By now I'd guess you've all heard about the man in Germany who took one of his father's guns (the one he'd practiced shooting) and 200-odd rounds of ammo for it and went to his old high school where he shot a number of people (almost all female), after which he hijacked a car and went to a town and shot more people.

This is a horrifying incident.

The police are investigating; on the guy's computer, they found that he'd played violent video games and a lot of horror movies, and they think that these led the guy to kill all of these people. I don't know - thinking about hurting people, watching gory movies, and playing violent video games don't necessarily add up to shooting a number of people. I guess that the games and movies, in combination with someone who is seriously disturbed in particular ways, could possibly desensitize that someone enough so that they could kill people. But if that were true, I'd think that there would be a lot more of this kind of massacre going on.

After all, I've seen a number of video games, both violent and otherwise, and I watch a LOT of  horror movies. And I've been pretty depressed with a good dose of self-hatred to go along with it. And I'm pretty sure that I'm not unusual in having fantasized about hurting someone when I was angry. I'm not alone in these things (although I'm in the minority in that I'm female) but most of these people don't just kill people... even if, deep inside, they want to. But I'd never, ever go out and massacre people - and neither would most people.
Aside from the fact that this fellow was seriously disturbed, I think the blame for this tragedy lies not on the movies he watched or the games he played, but squarely the guns he used in his house. Simply put, he had the access and the ability to use the guns; if he hadn't had either, this massacre might not have happened.

I know that "guns don't kill people, people with guns kill people" - but maybe it's time for people to not have quite so many guns. Especially in the US, but even in places like Germany and here in Canada. No disturbed teenager (and it must have been fairly obvious that he was disturbed) should have access to guns like he did.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Last night's PRC

As you know, I've been watching Project Runway Canada. It's one of my favourite shows :) This post has some information about last night's show but I don't think there are any significant spoilers here. However, if you're the kind of person who doesn't want to know anything about a show before watching it, then you might want to skip this post until after you've seen this episode.

Still here? Ok.

On last night's show, the designers made dresses for women who'd had breast cancer; the dresses will now be auctioned off and all the money paid will go to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. This is definitely not my favourite breast cancer charity as they'd refused to accept money from a group of strippers who'd raised it in memory of a dancer with mets. Still, the fact that the money is going to a large, recognized charity is a good thing.

I was also very surprised to see that the women who'd had cancer weren't all older women. There was a young woman who'd had breast cancer at 27 and there was a woman who had metastatic cancer (although they didn't say this on the show). Unfortunately, at the end of the show, there was a message that said that one woman - sadly, the woman paired with the losing designer who had made the ugliest dress - had died after taping but before the show aired. A tiny bit of research dress auction site showed that she'd had mets and had died. How sad that she died before seeing herself on tv :( .

If I remember rightly, on season one of Project Runway Canada, dresses were auctioned off in support of Iman's favourite charity. I like that this show is giving to charity and wish other shows would do this, too. It's a way to give back to people and makes the television industry appear a little less selfish.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finally, a use for surfing the interweb

A bride who lives in the region contacted me about doing earring and necklace sets for her bridesmaids. I'm very excited about doing this as I like custom work. The bride picked out the earrings she wants and I've been working on different necklace designs. I came up with one this morning that I like very much; it lends itself well to variations in case the doesn't like the first design or I have different numbers of beads.

The bridesmaids are wearing shades of turquoise and while I have some beads that are a similar colour, I don't have enough in the exact shades that I need. So I spent the afternoon looking for the right beads in a variety of places. I ended up copying pictures of different beads I was thinking of buying and looking at them side-by-side with the dress photo. I know that it's really hard to determine true colour on a monitor so I hope I got the right beads. I did get enough, and from different places, so that I have options. And if I have extras left over, well, that's ok because they're gorgeous. And a great colour.

I guess you might say that my internet surfing skillz finally came in handy today. :)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A lighter movie day

It's curling season! The fact that I can't curl right now doesn't matter since I still get to *watch* the Brier. That will definitely keep me/us occupied when we're not doing something else.

Fortunately, it being the weekend, tv channels show movies... and so we got to watch Clerks II. It's pretty funny, I must say. Yes, there are many silly bits with men who won't/can't grow up and there's lots of inappropriate statements, but after all that, it's still hilarious. Of course not much happens during the movie; these are movies about hanging out in a place and talking with friends, not about going places and tracking people down or anything. If you don't like Kevin Smith movies, you won't like this one, either, but if you do like his movies you'll probably love this one as well.

Tomorrow I get my Pamidronate. Yippee? Hopefully it'll go smoothly by which I mean they won't forget about me and they won't be running too late. I suppose it doesn't matter either way, but it's frustrating to be there waiting for a while only to find out that there's been a mix-up. 

Saturday, March 07, 2009

It's movie day

The weather went from gorgeous to .... not-so-gorgeous. It didn't get nearly as warm and it rained and rained and rained. We spent the day inside, watching tv and movies. And surfing the internet (that was me doing that part).

The main movie we watched and very much enjoyed was 13: Game of Death. It's about a guy who's having a really, really bad day and who is asked to participate in a series of game challenges; if he finishes all 13 challenges, he'll get a huge sum of money. The challenges start out small and get progressively more difficult and anti-social as they go on. There are twists, of course. The plot is quite good and so are most of the actors (although some of the extras might have been a little over-the-top). There's some implied but not that much actual gore and there are definitely a few "ewwwww, grossssss" moments. Really. Even so, it's definitely worth a watch.

Tomorrow's going to be all weird because the clocks spring forward. The daylight savings time changes always mess me up.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Oh what a beautiful day

I have to admit that I haven't done much of anything recently. Instead, I've been wasting time surfing the internet. Lately, I've been working my way through the best of Craigslist (some of those entries are hilarious) as well as Passive Aggressive Notes and Photoshop Disasters. And I can waste hours over at Project Rungay or Go Fug Yourself. Both of those sites cover a lot of the same pictures and it's interesting to compare the two. I also read a number of people's blogs each day. I'm getting to be very, very good at doing nothing useful.

But today the temperature got up to 17C!!! It was soooo gorgeous outside that I *had* to abandon the laptop and go for a walk. It wasn't so bad, walking around the neighbourhood with my cane. I can go pretty fast with the cane once I get going. My hips didn't hurt too much during and right after my walk today and I'm hoping they won't hurt tomorrow. The laptop wasn't any worse for not having been used for a while, either.

I don't think we'e going to have such great temperatures for that long, unfortunately; it's cold in the West and I expect it to be cold here soon. I'm happy as long as I can get out and enjoy the nice weather when its here. After that, I've got the internet.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Getting started on new pills

I talked to the pharmacist about taking something for my back and hip pain and she (well, the student pharmacist  - she wouldn't let me talk to the real pharmacist) recommended that I take the glucosamine/chondroitin supplement as opposed to the Lakota. She felt that the Lakota had less proof than the the other stuff. I asked whether or not I should take the glucosamine/chondroitin with MSM and she said that some people felt the MSM helped but that she had no recommendation about it.

I picked some up without the MSM (it was the first bottle I reached for) and I started taking that last night. I'll try it with the MSM next time; if that doesn't work, I'll try the Lakota.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

An unusual appointment

You know how sometimes I get a woogly back? Normally it happens when I'm tired or when I'm going through withdrawl on my fentanyl patch - and both of those events usually occur in the evening. Not today, though.

Instead, it happened this afternoon while I was in the chair at the dentist's. Sigh. It started when the hygienist used a drill-thing to do the scaling off the inside of my teeth. The sound of the thing really bothered me and then the woogles started. She ended up not using the thing partway through but by then it was too late - once my back starts woogling it's really hard to stop it, and by then it was woogling in earnest. By the end, she's do one tooth, wait for me to thrash around a bit and to finally settle, and then start working on a new tooth.

My fentanyl patch is due to be changed today, so maybe it wasn't working so well this afternoon. And I *was* a little tired; when I got home I slept for a few hours. Even so, I felt pretty silly there at the dentist. Most adults are perfectly capable of lying still while for half an hour - but not me, at least today.

What made the day better was realizing that America's Next Top Model cycle 12 started tonight AND that Fashion Television is having a free preview for the entire month of March! What an excuse to do a whole lot of nothing all month :)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Now we know more

My oncologist and I went over the MRI results today. She ordered it in the first place so it makes sense for her to discuss it with me. Her suggestions and conclusions are different than my family doctor's.... in a good way :)

She doesn't think that I have arthritis. Instead, she thinks I have arthralgia, which is arthritis-like pain but that isn't actually arthritis, and is a side-effect of the Femara. In other words, the hip and back pain is a side-effect of the Femara that I've been on for 2 1/2 years. I've had pain in my thumbs, wrists, and ankles for some time now, and it's possible that the longer I'm on Femara, the larger the joints affected by this side effect.

The best way to determine whether the pain is arthralgia or arthritis is to go off the Femara completely. But the Femara is working - my tumour markers are down and my scans show no new cancer - and so it doesn't make sense to off the Femara. Sure, I could go on another hormonal treatment.... but why stop the one that works *before* it stops working? And what if the next treatment didn't work? I'm not willing to take a chance on letting my cancer spread further right now, so we're not going to stop the Femara.

Not that it matters much whether it's arthralgia or arthritis... my oncologist said that they treat arthralgia as though it were arthritis. The kicker is that there aren't really any modern medical treatments for it. However, my oncologist doesn't want me to live in pain and wants us to think outside the box on treating the pain by exploring non-modern/non-Western treatments like acupuncture, massage, hypnosis, Lakota or glycosamine/chondroitin, and possibly physiotherapy.

At this point, I just want this pain to go away. Having to live with constant pain is no way to live. Therefore, I'm willing to try things to get rid of it that I might not have considered before. To start, I think I'm going to begin taking Lakota or glycosamine/chondroitin. I'll have a chat with my pharmacist tomorrow about these remedies to figure out which might work better for me and to also be sure that the remedy won't interfere with my current medications.

Next, I'm going to see about getting some acupuncture done. My oncologist said that people have had very good results with it as long as the practitioner is experienced. She said that it is very important that I find someone who has years of experience not just in practicing acupuncture, but also in treating this kind of pain. Otherwise it might hurt or it won't give the right kind of benefit for me.

All I have to do to make this second step happen is to find someone who can do it. Normally my oncologist would just refer me to someone but she doesn't know anyone in the area who's got enough experience. I get to be the guinea pig here :) . I'll check with the cancer support center (Hopespring) where I go for my meditation classes; I'm hoping that they'll be able to refer me to someone in the area (or even tell me who might not be suitable). If that doesn't work I'll let my fingers do the walking on the internet and phone. If my experience with the person and treatment is positive, then my oncologist might refer other people to that practitioner.

In addition to these two new approaches, I'm still going to try and lose some weight and I do still want to do some aqua-fit to get some exercise. Hopefully, between all of these measures, the pain will go away. Cross your fingers!

Oh - and if you're interested in the actual scan results, the MRI showed that I have some slight disk bulging issues at my L4-L5 vertebrae. The bone scan also showed, for the first time, that I have some bone degeneration at L4-L5 to go along with the known degeneration at L5-S1. I was surprised at this; I didn't think that vertebrae degeneration would start marching up my spine like this. Weird.

The bone scan also showed increased takeup in my knuckles, wrists, and ankles which corresponds to the areas where I already had joint pain. I'm sure that increased takeup will show up in my hips one of these days, even though nothing showed up this time. The bone scan also showed increased takeup in my left knee, which is the one I think I broke ages ago. Interestingly, this is the first time that the report has mentioned the left knee since... well, since the very first bone scan I've ever had. I re-started Pamidronate before the scan and maybe it's healing these areas, causing the increased uptake.

And that's it! I'm feeling WAY more positive today. Not only might I not be in pain forever, but there might  be things I can do NOW to lessen the pain. That's the kind of news I love! I also have to say that I'm really, really happy with my oncologist's approach to this whole thing. She was positive and determined to help me find a way to deal with the pain, which is a helluva lot more than my family doctor gave me yesterday. Yesterday, I was left with the prospect of being in this agonizing pain forever with no hope of it lessening. Today, I'm hopeful that there might be a way out from the pain. I know that nothing is guaranteed, but I have hope. I love my oncologist - she's AWESOME!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Well, now we know

My family doctor had the MRI results and it didn't show anything. He didn't have the xray report, but he's concluded that the pain in my hips and back are due to.... arthritis.

Yep, arthritis. Another chronic, incurable health condition to add to my previously existing chronic, incurable health condition (metastatic breast cancer). Really, I was fine with just one chronic, incurable health condition - am I lucky, or what? I guess the best thing about this illness is that it won't kill me like the cancer (most likely) will... instead, it'll just add to my pain.

I'm happy that I don't have anything else seriously wrong with my health, but I'm not exactly jumping with joy here. Living with chronic pain sucks and the prospect of living with more of it.. well, sucks more. Sigh.

So.... talking to my doctor, one thing that I can do that might help is to lose weight. My weight is as high as it's ever been and I could stand to lose at least 15 pounds. Maybe even 20. Or 25. I've lost that weight before and I've maintained each of those weights so I know it's possible... but each time I've lost weight, I did it through a combination of eating less and exercising more.

Exercising more is tricky when my mobility is limited. Because the arthritis is in my hip, I need to be careful about doing weight-bearing exercises because I could just give myself more pain - exercising once and then being laid up for weeks isn't going to help me lose weight.

So I'm going to call the swimplex and see about one of the aqua-fit classes. They have a lot of them (one is an arthritic class in the swirlpool; that might work). Hopefully I won't be the youngest person there... and even if I am, well, I need to be able to exercise somehow. As I get stronger (and littler), I might be able to do more weight-bearing exercise in the gym. And then maybe the pain will decrease.