Monday, May 31, 2010

Back to normal, sort of

I meant to do a blog post yesterday but when it came down to a choice between doing my blog and having a bath, I chose the bath.

I did get started on my dress today: I put together the bodice and Ian helped me fit it this evening. The advantage to fitting the bodice first is that the bodice goes to the waist and so when fitting it, I had to make sure that the waist seam stayed in the right place. If the skirt was attached it's harder to make sure that the top is right. The skirt will be fairly easy to sew and fit once I've made the changes to the bodice.

Luckily, I don't need to add anything anywhere: I need to take it in a bit to do some shaping so that it's less boxy and more under the bust, and it turns out that I added a bit too much to the bust point, so I'll take that out. Because this is a sundress with straps, less ease is needed through the bust and shoulder (which means that I also need to shorten the straps slightly).

I need to take the back in because my back is narrow and straight, and I need to adjust for the swayback that I have. I wasn't sure if I actually had a swayback or not because I've never tried to fit just the top before. My high hip is big in comparison to normal and it's possible that it was causing the swayback problem. Nope... I have an actual swayback problem in addition to my full high hip.

I'm looking forward to finishing this dress - I really like the way it's coming together and I think it's going to look great. I'm looking forward to doing this in a variety of fabrics. And I'm really excited about being able to make the right set of changes to other patterns so that I can make some other cute summer dresses.

After putting the bodice together I went for a walk. It was probably too long at about an hour and a half but it was quite relaxing. I discovered a cleared field in what I thought were just woods today which was interesting. My incision still has a huge bump under it that can be quite uncomfortable, especially if I get short of breath. And when the sweat rolls into the incision it feels like salt in a wound, you know? :)

As I get better and better I'm looking forward to going on longer walks in this and other neighbourhoods. It's so nice outside and I love being out in the fresh air just walking and thinking my thinks. I used to always take music with me but now I just listen to the sounds around me. The other advantage of going for longer walks is that I can get in better shape and possibly lose some weight.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Incision and sewing updates

I took the dressing off of the incision today. It had been on for three days and that should be long enough. I was wrong about the size of the incision: it's actually about 2 1/2" long. That's still long and it really does kind of look like an extra mouth was cut into my neck. The incision looks like it's healing just fine and the stitches are dissolving, I think. The sides of the incision are still together in most places and that bodes well for it healing into a nice-looking scar.

I think I need to cover the incision while I'm sleeping and then leave it open to the air again tomorrow. I know it's better to leave it open to the air so it heals but I woke up several times last night trying to scratch at the incision through the gauze because it had that "healing itch". I don't want to tear the incision open in my sleep and I don't know of another way to stop me from scratching at it other than covering it. I figure that as long as I leave it open to the air during the day it'll be ok.

I decided to use a different fabric for my dress because I just couldn't get the pattern to line up the way I wanted with my first choice. I ended up cutting out the pattern from this gorgeous fabric that I recently bought:
Stretch cotton large print fabric
I love this fabric! It's got a huge pattern on it with alternating solid flowers and dotted circles and I just love the bright colours against the black background. I first thought about trying to put certain parts of the pattern in certain areas (like the big, colourful flowers near the top and bottom, say) but then I said, "to heck with that" and just cut it out in the most efficient layout possible. I decided to do this because I liked the look of the fabric when I'd just hold it up and let it drop in folds and I figured the best way to get that look was to just cut it without trying to put certain features here or there.

This fabric is almost 60" wide and after cutting out my pattern I have nearly two yards of it left, so there's plenty there if I need to re-cut any pieces or if I want to make another style of dress or a skirt or something. I hope that the fabric looks as awesome made up as it does in my head :)

I also made one final change to the dress pattern. Instead of having the back skirt come straight down, I added an inch to the hem of each of the side back and center back pieces, putting the extra away from the sides of the skirt. Vintage skirt patterns have this extra fabric back there - straight skirts are straight in front and like an a-line in the back - and I find that this style is more comfortable when walking and it looks better on me. If for some reason this modification doesn't look right it's easy enough to remove. This alteration would be more noticeable on the other fabric but it won't even show on the fabric I decided to use.

We're going to look at some open houses tomorrow and I'm also hoping to at least baste the seams together to check the fit of this dress. If it fits, I'll cut out the lining and finish the dress. I hope it works!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Movie night and my incision

Tonight, Ian and some other guys got to move some furniture around at a friend's place and their reward was to watch a chick flick: Valentine's Day. It doesn't sound like much of a reward, does it? The guys didn't think so, either, but they watched the movie anyways.

We were surprised at how funny and generally good the movie was. It was actually fairly entertaining, if a little predictable. The story is about how a number of interconnected people celebrate or hate Valentine's Day. Some are happy, some not; some find love and friends, some don't; in the end, all the stories are resolved and almost everyone ends up happy. The movie is quite long at just over two hours but doesn't feel as long as it is. This, plus the fact that everyone (including the guys) laughed during the movie tells you that this is an ok movie.

If this movie happens to be on, go ahead and see it. There are much worse movies you can watch.

Before we went to the movie, I'd had a non-soaking bath and a nap. When I got up I found that the dressing covering my incision was soaked. I must have been sweating after the bath and it collected in the gauze.

We decided that leaving the wet gauze on the incision would be a bad idea so we took it off and put a new dressing on it. If there were steri-strips on the incision the dressing could have stayed off but of course those cause welts on me so it's better to keep the dressing on. Hopefully keeping the dressing on longer will mean that the scar won't be as bad as some of my other scars. This is actually a concern because this incision is HUGE!

Yes, it's huge. Ian says that it looks like they carved another mouth for me just below my collarbones, and he's right. The incision 3" long, which is wider than my mouth is (the "small mouth" comments aren't totally unfounded, you see). I'd love for this scar to fade away and be unnoticeable, especially since it's in such a visible spot. I do have exactly one surgical scar that's almost completely unnoticeable: the lumpectomy scar from 2006. I'm hoping that keeping the dressing on and then not soaking the incision in the bath until after the stitches dissolve will prevent the usual ugly scar from forming as it heals.

At least this incision gives me a built-in costume for Halloween: Frankenstein! All I'll need to do is draw a line all the way around my neck and draw in some extra stitches. Perfect!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yesterday's events

I'm feeling ok today. The incision is quite sore, as is my throat, my neck is very stiff, I have a headache, and some of my muscles are sore too. I'm coughing up stuff, too, presumably from the bronchoscopy.

I promised I'd tell you more about yesterday, so here goes...

The surgery was scheduled for 1pm and I was asked to arrive around 10am for all the admitting stuff. We got there a few minutes early and checked in and the person set up my chart and printed a LOT of stickers with my name and details on them for use on everything. All the stickers they'd printed during pre-op couldn't be used, you see, because my patient number was different from pre-op to the recovery area.

We waited a few minutes and got taken to my bed in the recovery area so that the nurse could admit me. She said she had to put an IV in and I asked if she could possibly use my port. She said yes and called the IV techs. I was so excited - which was apparent to everyone. The thought of having them fuss with an IV would have been too much for me. I learned something from the IV tech, as well: the fluids can't just drip into the port, they have to go through a pump. Otherwise, the fluid can put too much pressure on the port.

After the IV was set up and I was changed into my lovely hospital gown, we waited and waited and waited. Eventually someone came by and said that the doctor was running early by about a half hour. This was very exciting news... but then it turned out that he got called up to help someone else and we started five minutes late.

Normally as they wheel you into the operating room, they make you take your glasses off. When the anaesthetist who was taking me found out that I couldn't distinguish faces without my glasses, he let me keep them on so that I could see everyone's faces when I met them. I really liked that; it made me feel much more comfortable. Of course it meant that I could see everything in the OR, but that was ok.

As we were waiting for the doctor to arrive, we were joking around about where I work. They had to check my mouth size for the tubes and I said that I had a kid-sized mouth. The nurse asked if my boyfriend minded (!) or if he was used to it... I had no answer. What do you say to that? Weird.

After that, the anaesthesiologist started injecting fentanyl into my IV... and I woke up in the recovery room with one of the worst headaches I've ever had. I was wearing an oxygen mask and for some reason the oxygen mask made the headache worse. The nurse put a cold cloth on my forehead and an ice compress on the back of my neck. I also started having pain in my incision and she gave my Dilaudid through the IV and Gravol in case I was nauseous. I found out later that they'd given me Zofran via IV and that this can cause migraines. I've taken Zofran by mouth before but never IV, so maybe it did give me a migraine.

I fell asleep and woke up to the XRay techs there to take my chest XRay. I wasn't expecting that but woozily complied with their requests to sit up and take a deep breath. I asked about the XRay later and was told that they do it because in some cases, the bronchoscopy can cause the lung to collapse or bleed. Fortunately, nothing was/is wrong with my lungs.

At this point my oxygen level kept dropping. It sits about 96% normally, which is a bit low but expected because of the Fentanyl patches, and they'd given me the Dilaudid, another narcotic that depresses respiration. So of course my oxygen level was low, so they put one of those oxygen nostril thingies on me and that kept it up.

When I was taken back to the regular area, Ian came to see me. They asked if I wanted something to eat or drink, which of course I did because I was starving and thirsty. They gave me a can of ginger ale, four crackers, a thing of grape jelly, and two digestive cookies. I ate and drank it all and then I fell asleep.

I woke up about three hours later, just after six, with Ian still at my side. I guess the nurse had come by to check my vital signs but Ian told them to just let me sleep. The nostril oxygen thingy was on me the whole time which helped me sleep. When I woke up, they checked my blood pressure and pulse and then got me to the bathroom. Once I did that, they called for the IV tech to disconnect the port and when that was done, I got to go. They faxed a prescription to my pharmacy for T3s - which is funny, because when they asked me what pain medications I didn't like, I said "codeine", which is the narcotic in T3s. So much for that.

Of course I had all that pink stuff on me when I came home; I guess it's some kind of sterilizing stuff. We were able to get most of that off pretty easily even though the nurse said it would be a while before that happened. I do have welts under where the heart monitor thingies were, so now I know that I'm sensitive to that adhesive, too. Sigh. I wonder if taking Benadryl before having to have these adhesives put on me would prevent these welts?

The usual instructions are to keep the dressing on for two days but the doctor told me that I should keep mine on for three days because there are no steri strips over the dissolving stitches. So I'll keep them on until Saturday, I guess. Until then I'm not allowed to submerge the gauze or stitches in water. I can still have a bath but I can't submerge myself the way I prefer to. Oh well. At least I can still have baths.

So that's it... it went pretty well, I think. Ian's been taking good care of me yesterday and today. He stayed with me all yesterday and was with me after I got up this afternoon. I slept until 1:15pm today and I expect to sleep more tomorrow and over the next few days as I heal. I'm looking forward to getting the biopsy results from my oncologist on June 11.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Home and in the pink

I'm home! And I'm pink! No, really, I'm pink. The stuff they use to clean and sterilize my skin is pink and takes a while to rub off. See?

See the lovely pink line on my chin? It continues
all the way down my chest and back. Not my
favourite look.
Aside from being pink, everything went well. I got home an hour or so later than I'd expected because I slept most of the afternoon instead of rushing home. I'm the least groggy I've ever been coming home from surgery, which is a nice change.

I'm still very tired and ready for some sleep, so I'll keep this short. I'll post a longer, more detailed post about today's adventures tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Getting ready for tomorrow

I didn't cut out my fabric today. I took some time to pick out the fabric, and I decided on a cotton-lycra blend fabric in blues and greens that I bought a couple of years ago. I love the colour and the design but when I bought the fabric I didn't realize that the fabric pattern has a strong horizontal repeat. Since the pattern I'm using for this dress has bias-cut side panels I thought that this fabric would be less horizontal and would actually look good.

So I spent some time trying to figure out how to match the pattern along the seamlines. The width of a horizontal stripe turned on the bias (45 degrees) will always be greater than the width of the stripe in its normal horizontal position, so matching the two is difficult. The stripe is quite wide and there are about six of them (alternating light and dark) on the skirt. I can get about three of of the horizontal/bias stripes to work out but that's it, so I have to figure out where it's most important that the stripes match.

I decided that taking a break to give myself some time to think about and sketch this stripe match would be best, so I went for a walk. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day I ended up walking for nearly two hours! There's a wooded area over where we've been house-hunting that I didn't know about and I explored that area as well as some of the other streets that I didn't know. It was definitely the best thing I could have done for myself today... being out in the fresh air was soothing and comforting, especially with tomorrow being biopsy day.

I'm a bit nervous about tomorrow's biopsy. At the moment I'm not all that concerned about what the biopsy results will be because I just want to know what's going on - no matter what the answer is, having an answer is infinitely better than not having an answer. I suspect I'll be more concerned about the results as I get closer to receiving those results, but right now I'm most concerned about the surgery itself. I wish there was a way to get answers without doing surgery because I really don't like going under a general anaesthetic and I also don't like the idea of an incision in my neck. I tend not to heal all that well, as you know, and the thought of having yet another ugly scar doesn't appeal to me.

Sigh. The end justifies the means in this case and I'm focusing all my energy on getting through tomorrow as calmly as possible. The surgery is scheduled for 1pm and is expected to take about an hour, after which I'll be recovering for a couple or three hours. I'm hoping to be home by 6ish so that I can begin to rest in my own house. Either Ian or I will let you know how things went with an update here sometime tomorrow. Thank you all for the good wishes and happy thoughts you've been sending me - I really appreciate all of them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A lazy end to the long weekends

Today wound up being a much lazier day than I'd planned to have. I'd thought about cutting out my dress but then I got caught up in Ian's video game. I'm like the girl in that commercial who doesn't know that a video game isn't a movie :)

Seriously, I enjoy watching Ian play an open-world game, where there are quests and stuff. I'm not good at the controls for the games but Ian is good at them and he's patient enough to let me suggest where he should go next. It's like I'm playing the game but without actually playing it. This game has lots of cut scenes and an interesting background story as well.

I did manage to pull us away from the game long enough to take a walk around the neighbourhood. We should have gone earlier or later as it was still pretty hot outside but it was still a nice walk. I thought about going for another walk this evening (I love love love walking outside in the early to late evening) but I was too tired. I didn't sleep well last night so I was extra-tired today; if I'd slept well I definitely would have been out and about this evening. I'm a little stressed with the biopsy coming up on Wednesday.

I was able to pin-fit the bodice top today and after doing that, I added a little bit extra length to the bust to cover it and some other extra length to the center because it was just a little bit low. I'm quite confident that it's going to fit me pretty well. I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll be able to cut out the dress and baste it together. I'd like to try and get that stuff done before the biopsy so that I'm not left with too much to do afterwards.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A relaxing early summer day

There aren't just two baby chipmunks out there - there are THREE!!! They're co cute, playing around in the brugmansia pots back there, or trying to climb the patio door or screen. We could watch them play for hours, although they don't do anything cute when we're trying to film them.

We also drove around looking at different neighbourhoods in the city to get an idea of what they're like. It turns out that in most areas there'll be a street or two that we would like but most of the areas aren't so right for us. Since it was a nice afternoon, we were also able to go for a walk in a city park we'd never explored.

After we got home, while Ian played his new video game (Red Dead Redemption, an open-world, wild west game that's pretty good so far), I managed to finish altering the easier pattern. The final product of my alterations looks right to me so hopefully it'll look right when it's sewn up. I hope to cut out the pattern tomorrow and see how it fits. If the adjustments work, then I'll go ahead and make the same adjustments to the other pattern. I'm excited about this and hope that it works out. I haven't figured out exactly what fabric I'll use but I have plenty of choices.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Celebrex is my friend

I'm not really liking this "life without Celebrex" thing. As the painkiller leaves my system I'm experiencing more and more pain in all of my joints, especially my hips. I think the pain is also worse because of the rain and humidity we've got. I wish that knowing what caused the pain made it go away.

To take care of the pain I've taken a couple of baths already today (hot water definitely helps) and I've been taking Percocet regularly. Both things make me sleepy - but when I'm asleep, I'm not feeling the pain, so it's a way of dealing with it.

I did start working on the patterns, though. I started looking at the more difficult one and ran into a bit of a roadblock. Normally I shorten the front and back bodice by about 1 1/2" but the front of this pattern didn't need to be shortened that much; in fact, the front needs to be shortened up near the shoulder and lengthened around the bust. And I think the side seams are the close to the right length.

I've been thinking about this and I think I know why these adjustments need to be made. I think there are two things going on here. First, my back is very straight and so it needs to be shortened more than the front, and I've been adjusting patterns based on my center back measurement. Second, I have a large bust and so I need more fabric to cover it. If I shorten the bodice below the bust there just won't be enough fabric to cover it. Adjusting patterns used to be easier but since I've gained weight my body's proportions have changed. My bust wasn't always this big in comparison to the rest of me - or at least, the weight was distributed more in line with commercial patterns.

Now that I've got that figured out, it should be fairly straightforward to make the right changes to the bodice. The back and skirt are very easy to modify, and the other pattern is also much easier to change.

The best part of today was that the baby chipmunks have appeared! They're so cute!!!! There were two of them with their mommy and they were just learning about exploring their environment. We tried to get some pictures but they didn't work out. They're super-cute, though!

I think tomorrow the rain is going away and it's going to get more hot and less humid, so hopefully I won't have nearly as much pain and I'll be able to do more.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's a long weekend!

I didn't do much of anything today but at least I took the pattern sheets out for both patterns and ironed them flat and now they're sitting there ready to be adjusted. The fact that I haven't actually cut the pieces apart or made any adjustments to them is something I'll ask you to ignore just now :)

This is a long weekend for us here in Canada and since we have no plans we're looking forward to just hanging out. It was supposed to be rainy this weekend but I think the only day we might get rain is tomorrow and then after that it's going to be warm and sunny. If we do anything other than a couple of errands, it'll be going for a walk in a new-to-us area of the city. I expect that Ian will play video games for most of the weekend while I work on my patterns.

Did anyone else see in the news that some scientists have been able to create a synthetic bacteria by creating and inserting DNA into an existing bacteria? Not everyone thinks that this is good; they worry that the technology will be used to create bioweapons or something. To me, this ranks extremely high on the coolness factor - I think this discovery is awesome! They're creating news life, here, almost. It's not the same as having life emerge from a chemical soup, but this is definitely a step towards that, and there must be good possibilities for this and subsequent technologies.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hit by a sleepy stick

I had great plans for today. I was going to get my new patterns ready and prep my fabric (and maybe even cut out the fabric) so that I could get some sewing done.

Sadly, none of that happened. For some reason I'm exhausted - so much so that I fell asleep while sitting on the couch watching tv for the better part of the afternoon and even when I was awake I was half-asleep. I feel like I've been run over by a truck right now and honestly, I haven't been this tired for ages.

I hope that I'm not getting sick or anything. I know that I hadn't been sleeping all that well before yesterday's appointment so maybe I'm overcoming a sleep deficit. No matter what's going on, my body is telling me to sleep so that's what I guess it needs. I'll be going to bed early tonight.

I really, really want to get some sewing done. I hope that I'm up for it tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My pre-op appointment

My back and hips felt pretty good today after yesterday's walk. I did have some pain on my right side while I was driving to my appointment this morning but it went away once I stretched my back a bit. I went for another long (hour and a half) walk today but I used my cane. I don't want to overdo things, after all :)

My appointment this morning was my pre-op stuff for next week's biopsy. Every hospital does their pre-op stuff just a little bit differently, and I have to say that I really liked the way they did things at this hospital. Really, all I had to do was show up at their clinic and the nurse assigned to me brought all the people I needed to see right to the clinic. I had to go from the waiting room to different rooms in the clinic which I much preferred over running around from department to department trying to see people.

We did an EKG first and then the nurse said that she needed to do bloodwork. I asked her if it was at all possible to use my port and - surprise! - she said yes, that she would just call the IV tech people and have one of them do it. It was awesome! They don't do that at my regular hospital. The IV tech inserted and removed the needle a little slower than I like but I'm ok with that if they use my port at all.

Once we got the EKG and bloodwork out of the way, my nurse went through my paperwork with me and we talked about the drugs I take. One of them is Celebrex which I take to control my lower back pain and to help control the sternal pain. It can reduce blood clotting so I was told stop taking it tonight until after the procedure. Going without it might mean extra pain for me for the next week or so... which means that I won't be walking without my cane for a while. There's no point taking chances if I can't deal with the possible pain consequences, after all.

Next I saw the anaesthesiologist. After my success at getting the nurse to use my port for the bloodwork, I figured that it wouldn't hurt to ask the anaesthesiologist if they would be able to use my port for the IV during surgery. I explained that my veins are crap and the port was easier on everyone. The anaesthesiologist told me that it's possible to use the port for that but that they'll need to set up a bigger IV anyways. The big IV needs to be in there for the unlikely event that something goes wrong and I need a blood transfusion.

I don't know what, exactly, my face showed when he said "big IV" but inside I felt scared and my mind said, "eep!" You see, half the time when inserting an IV, the nurses need to use a teeny-tiny needle because my veins are so very bad... and a teeny-tiny needle won't work with a big IV, will it? Seeing my face he was quick to assure me that they could either put me out with gas or with a port IV and then, once I was under, they could put in the big IV. Apparently the anaesthetic is a vasodilator and that makes insertion of the big IV easier (or possible, in my case). He also said that it's fairly common for them to put that IV in after the anaesthetic has taken effect. I'm fine with that; really, as long as they don't put the big IV in while I'm awake, I'm fine with whatever else they do.

The last person I saw was a respiratory therapist. Since this procedure involves the chest cavity they want to be sure that my lungs are tip-top before they go in there. This was all new to me; I've never seen a respiratory therapist before. She first had me do a lung function test with a computerized spirometer that printed out a nifty graph.

Then she needed to do an arterial blood gas test in which blood is drawn from the artery in my wrist and the gases in it are measured. To do this, first she had to find the artery by finding the pulse. She first tried to find the pulse in my right wrist, then went to my left, then back to my right, then back again to my left, and finally was confident that she found it on my right. I know I have a pulse, but it is hard to find exactly :) it's important to find the exact location of the artery a thin needle has to go in and draw blood from the artery. She warned me that would hurt, and it did, and the spot is still sore. I wouldn't have wanted to go through that needle more than once so I appreciate her caution and thoroughness.

And that was it. They'd said that it could take as long as three hours but it only took me about two hours from start to finish and because there were so many different things to do the time flew by. Hopefully things go as smoothly and efficiently next week.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Walking and sewing

I wore the flat pair of shoes that I bought last weekend out for a walk today and I'm pleased to report that my feet didn't hurt! I do have one small blister on one foot but that's not bad for that kind of walk. Normally I have a few big blisters when I wear new shoes out walking because I walk fast. Plus my heels are narrow so shoes my shoes slip, almost guaranteeing blisters somewhere.

I had worn the shoes out and about on Sunday so it wasn't like this was the first time I'd given them a try. This was just the first time that I wore them for a while under more normal conditions.

Today's walk was also worth noting because I chose to go out without my cane. Yes, I went for a walk without my cane. Before you yell at me for not taking care of myself, my back and hips haven't been hurting lately and I thought that going for one walk without it would be ok. I won't be able to wear high heels again because I'm too scared that I'll hurt my back, but I think it is possible that I could walk without my cane some of the time.

I'll see how I feel tomorrow and over the next few days. If my back and hips don't hurt, then I'll try going for another walk without the cane. If they start hurting, then I'll know that I made a mistake. Or that the walk was too long :)

On another subject - when I finish each dress, I'll make sure there are photos :) I was looking at the one I wanted to do first and I noticed that it calls for all the non-faced seams to be French seams and it has instructions for finishing the zipper seam edges with a Hong Kong binding seam finish (see this Threads article for more instructions on these finishes - and now I think I want a bird and clamp tool). Normally I'd just sew and then serge the seams to prevent raveling, but you have to admit that enclosing every raw edge makes the inside as attractive as the outside of the garment, especially when dealing with lightweight fabrics. I expect that I'll be serging the first dress, like normal, but I might just finish subsequent versions properly. We'll see.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My patterns are here!

The patterns I ordered arrived today! I'm so excited - I can hardly wait to get started sewing. These ones are my favourite:
Vogue 8648
Vogue 1086
The difference between these two patterns is mostly in fabric weight: the first pattern needs a fabric that has slightly more body than the second. I've bought a lot of fabric over the years so I have a ton of fabric that will work with the one or the other pattern. 

Both patterns are very suitable for my body type because they create a waist and, depending on colour choice, can elongate my body. I can hardly wait to get started making these patterns. I think I'm going to start with the second one (Vogue 1086) and make it up in this fabric that I love, with plain black fabric for the midriff, binding, and maybe the yoke:

I also have a ton of jersey fabric. I mean a TON, in a variety of patterns and colours. I bought a few patterns that use jersey fabric and I think I'll start by making this dress:
Vogue 1091
It's a very simple dress and I know that it can look ok on me. The key will be to add a bit of a waist that the pattern currently lacks; I might also need to add a seam in the back so that the dress isn't so shapeless back there. Even so, this is a simple silhouette that will be easy to make up and will be easy and comfortable to wear.

I'm so excited and I'm really looking forward to doing some sewing in the next little while.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunny days are here again!

Spring has finally returned. We had warm spring temperatures a couple of weeks ago and then it went and got cold. I wasn't able to go out walking because it was so cold and rainy and awful, which hasn't helped my mood. I find that I'm more emotionally even when I'm able to go outside and get some sun and see the flowers and trees blooming.

Fortunately, today and the rest of the week is looking all spring-like and sunny and warm and awesome. I'll definitely be going out for walks each day. In fact, we went for a big long walk today to get outside, explore the neighbourhood, and go to see a "for sale by owner" open house.

The house was a two-story with a bedroom and three-piece bathroom on the main floor, which is a layout that could work for us, but the house just wasn't right for us. The kids there had done some cute things, like put up a sign on the front door with a drawing of a house and some stars and the caption "open house here". We also saw the kids put the "Open House" signs up, which was cute.

Because the sun is getting stronger and we're going to be out walking in it more often, I think it's time to invest in some new sunscreen. Ian prefers the spray stuff but of the five different kinds in the store, three are sealed and so I can't smell them. We're both really sensitive to smells and when sunscreen smells it bothers us a lot. I guess we could buy the other sunscreens (at between $12-$18 each), smell them, and return them if they smell bad. I wish I could just smell a tester so that I don't have to go through all of that rigamarole. Maybe I can explain my position to them and see what they say.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We went to another open house today in a new-to-us area of town. We ended up falling completely in love with the neighbourhood - it has parks and lots of walking trails and a pond and it's an older area with mature trees. We loved the neighbourhood enough to want the house to work for us, but it just didn't work. We'll keep an eye on that neighbourhood for the future.

After that a friend and I went to my favourite shoe store in Guelph. It's moved! There's more space! There are way, way, way more shoes!!!!! Oh, how I love that store. I swoon over their selection every time I go  there. Visiting that store was as fun as it ever was, because I was able to just try shoes on and walk around with them. The salesperson helping us was a little pushy because she trying to sell me shoes that I wasn't absolutely convinced I wanted.

That didn't stop me from buying shoes, though. You might remember that I wanted some shoes for the season? Well, I got them today. I bought these two awesome pairs:
Sofft "Fiore" in Pewter
BC Footwear "Oh Sailor" in Pewter
Aren't they gorgeous??? Ian even liked both pairs, although when he saw the first pair, he asked if I was going to a toga party :) I know that both pairs are silvery coloured, but the slight heel on the one pair makes them a little dressier, and the flat pair is soooo comfrotable to walk in. The silvery colour also works well with my skin tone and clothes. I can hardly wait to wear them :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Booked my trip

I've booked my pre-surgery clinic appointment for next Wednesday morning. They say the appointment can take up to three hours so it's a good thing that I don't have anything else to do that morning.

Now that I know when the surgery is and everything, I've booked my flight to see my friends. I had already set aside the dates and made sure I'll have a hotel room but I didn't want to book my flight until the surgery was all set up. We're meeting in Atlantic City the first weekend of June (June 3-6).

There are no flights from Toronto or Waterloo to Atlantic City so the next best thing is to fly into Philly, take the train to downtown Philly, and from there take the regional train to Atlantic City. It sounds a bit cumbersome but it shouldn't be too bad. The worst part will be waiting for connections but the rides themselves should be straightforward. I won't be taking much luggage with me to make everything easier.

I think there must have been some kind of sale going on or something because I managed to get a direct flight return to Philadelphia from Toronto at a great price. The direct flight is only an hour and a half which makes the extra train travel bearable. If I'd had to make a connecting flight the entire trip would be too much, especially since I'll be recovering from surgery. When I'd been checking into flights before, the price for direct flights was way too high. Getting the direct flight cheaper is definitely a bonus.

I'm really excited about this trip even though it'll be so soon after the biopsy. There's a bunch of us getting together to spend time with each other; it's the same group that I've met a few times already. It's been a long time since I last saw them and I've missed them a lot. This trip will be a good, emotionally healing thing for me, I think.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The biopsy has been scheduled

I saw the thoracic surgeon today, finally. I think at first he didn't really want to do the node biopsy, but since my oncologist referred me to him, he figured that she wanted the biopsy done so he's ok doing it. The biopsy is not without some risks: the biggest ones, aside from the usual ones associated with general anaesthetic, are internal bleeding and nicking a nerve causing vocal changes. So if we don't absolutely need to do the biopsy, we wouldn't do it.

But if we don't do the biopsy, then we won't know why the nodes are enlarged. And if we can't figure out why the nodes are enlarged, then we can't know how to treat that. If the nodes are enlarged due to sarcoidosis, then we might not need to treat them (or they could be treated with steroids). If they're enlarged due to breast cancer, we can change my treatment. A third possibility is that they could be enlarged due to something else like lymphoma. No matter what, we have to figure out what we're dealing with before we can move forward, so the biopsy is a necessity.

This biopsy is done under a general anaesthetic as day surgery and recovery takes about a week. At first the surgeon wanted to schedule the biopsy for after my trip (I'm going to meet my online mets support group friends during the weekend of June 3-6) but I really don't want to wait a minute longer than I need to for the biopsy. So we scheduled the biopsy for May 26 at 1pm. I expect that'll leave enough time to be recovered for my trip. Even if I'm a little sore and slow on my trip, that's ok; no one else there is going to be racing around.

I don't need to see my family doctor before the surgery, like I had to for other surgeries. This time, I just need to make an appointment to see the anaesthesiologist. That'll save time. I am currently supposed to see my regular surgeon and respirologist on the 26th and those appointments will have to be changed or cancelled. The surgeon today said that he could refer me to a respirologist here in town, which would be more convenient for me. He said that usually the respirologist refers patients to him, so we're doing everything backwards. :)

The biopsy results will take up to two weeks to come back. I'm currently supposed to see my oncologist a week after the biopsy but I'll call them and see whether we should change it. There's no point in seeing my oncologist for biopsy results if the results won't be there.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More about looking for a house

You know, if our budget was about 25% higher - even 10% higher - our house would be a lot easier to find because houses at that price are available right now. We know that the house we want is out there; we've walked through the neighbourhoods and seen the houses. All we need is for someone to put our house up for sale.

We have talked about building a house but we'd very much prefer to buy a used house for a couple of reasons. First, we've never owned a house before and while we think we know what we want, it's possible that if it was built for us it wouldn't work (especially if we wanted changes to the standard plan). We don't feel confident in our ability to select the right layout.

Second, we want to live in an area that's already got landscaping and trees and stuff. We don't want to live in an area that's under construction because of the dust and upset and stuff.

Third, we'd prefer a house that's 10 or 15 years old because then the "new house" kinks will be worked out. Things will have settled or sunk down to some extent - possibly not completely, but enough for us to know where the settling will occur. Also, problems with roofing or skylights will be more obvious; like yesterday when we saw the ice dam damage. We can pick a used home that doesn't have too many problems but with a new house we'd be taking our chances, and we're not comfortable with that.

If we'd already owned a house and had to take care of maintenance, we'd be more comfortable building a house. As it is, we'd rather start a bit slower with a used house.

Of course if we haven't got a house by this time next year, we might change our minds on building something :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The house isn't right after all

After looking at the house again and listening to Ian's parent's expert opinions - they own a house and know about maintenance and stuff, which we know nothing about - we decided not to put an offer in for the house.

We'd thought that the house was move-in ready; that it could use some cosmetic changes but that it was basically right for us. It turns out that the roof needs to be repaired because between the cathedral ceiling and a silly architectural detail is a valley that is pretty well designed to form an ice dam. There's quite a bit of damage to the shingles from ice buildup so clearly it's been a problem in the past. The shingles aren't the same type as have been used on the houses that were built at the same time, so it looks like the roof had already been re-shingled once. Even if we replaced the roof, the ice dam would still form and wreck it again.

Because the house has a cathedral ceiling, there isn't a traditional attic - and the ceiling is hard to get to. We couldn't easily tell whether there's been water damage anywhere, although we did see some water discolouration around the skylight in the kitchen.

Now, a roof is important but I don't really think about it all that much in my day-to-day life. A major drawback that we found that directly impacts me is that the wall oven is of the teeny-tiny variety. It is very cute at maybe 22" wide on the outside and maybe 16" wide on the inside, but cute isn't right for cooking or baking. This baby-sized oven won't fit a cookie sheet or the baking stone we have in our current oven. As well, replacing that oven would be tricky as miniature ovens are hard to find and a bigger oven won't fit in the built-in cabinet holding the oven.

And the musty smell wasn't just an anomaly - there's mold around the basement windows. That's a pretty big problem that we don't really want to deal with. We know that the air conditioner probably needs to be replaced as the neighbours have replaced theirs, and that might help, but clearly there's a moisture problem there.

We also already knew that the driveway needed to be re-surfaced because it had sunk about three or four inches. That's normal here; this was a swamp and the ground is soft, but it's an extra expense. The garage door needs to be replaced, too.

Anyways, as nice as the place was, it just needs too much work to make it right for us. The price is right for the area but some of the problems are just too big and too expensive for us to ignore.

So the search continues. We're getting tired of looking for a house, that's for sure.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that my thoracic surgeon's appointment has been moved to Thursday afternoon. They called me yesterday afternoon because he was running late in surgery. I don't think this three day delay will make a huge difference when it comes to getting the biopsy done.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I think we've found it!

About a month ago, our realtor showed us a property that she thought would be right for us. That property turned out to be wrong for a bunch of reasons, but it almost worked. So when the house next door went up for sale today, we jumped at the chance to see it.

It turns out that the place we saw today is just about perfect. It doesn't have a walk-out basement but there's light coming in on both sides of the basement so it's really bright. The layout of this place is just right for us: on the main floor is the master bedroom with walk-in closet and ensuite, an office that we'd probably use as a library, a powder room, and the kitchen and dining/living room. There are patio doors leading out to the modestly-sized backyard. Right now, half of the backyard is taken up by gravel with only a bit of grass (which is still enough for the doggy we'll get). We'd put a deck there eventually.

The kitchen has an island that creates a hallway between the foyer and living/dining room; we like the island because it's a huge work area for us. The kitchen also has a separate gas range and oven components. Oh yeah, and there are skylights in the kitchen and the powder room. And the ceiling on the main floor is vaulted, creating an airy feel.

Downstairs is divided up in the same way as the main level: a great room that would be an entertainment area for us on one side and two bedrooms and a full bath on the other. There's a small workroom down there, too. We'd use one of the bedrooms as my sewing room and the other as a guest room.

We don't love the current colour scheme in the kitchen and main bath (as well as the carpeting), which is dark seafoam. The sink in the powder room is quite unique in a way that we're not; it's acrylic made to look like bubbly clear glass, which we'll want to replace. Also, the workroom is quite musty-smelling and there's a bit of a pet smell throughout the house. The house has been unoccupied for a bit and we did have some rain a little while ago, so some mustiness is to be expected here. Another thing that's weird is that the fuse box is in the garage, which is also connected to the house. I don't know how we feel about that.

Overall, we love this house - we definitely love it more than the other house. This house is cozy but not small and would easily work for us. Plus it only costs a bit more than the other house. Yep, it's way below our price range - another plus! We're going to go back to see the house tomorrow, and Ian's parent's are going to come with us. This is a huge purchase and we want another set of eyes before we put in the offer. Oh - and if we do put in an offer, we can take possession of it right away.

We're a little nervous, and a lot excited, about the prospect of possibly putting an offer in for a house of our own. We'll see how these next few days play out. Hopefully no one else will love this house like we do.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope that all of you who are mothers (including my own mother) were treated to something special today - even if that something special is getting a phone call from your kids :) None of us would be here without our moms, and it's sad that really only properly honour our mothers for the work they did to raise us.

Thanks, mom.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Houses and a movie

Today we decided to see two 30-year-old houses that were way below our target price. The first one had a fantastic layout but was located next to a busy street and would have needed major, major work. For example, we really want a deck off of the kitchen for barbequing and this place didn't have one, or even have patio doors for one. That reno alone would be costly, and that, together with the cost to replace all the flooring, windows, and baths, is just too much.

Still, if the house had been updated we'd have considered it.

The second house also had a great layout both on the main floor and in the basement. Unlike the first house, this one had been updated with new floors and stuff. It had a lovely kitchen and the bedrooms were a decent-enough size and everything was bright and in great shape. The yard was awesome and backs onto that forest I walked through the other day.

The house didn't have a deck but it did have steps down to a patio, so a deck could be put there. It also didn't have a master bedroom ensuite or walk-in closets, but one of the bedrooms could be converted into those. We'd like to have an ensuite but we've lived without one for so long that we'd be ok living without one for a while longer.

The tub would also need to be updated to be a nice soaker tub. The basement does have a walkout but it's not a patio door walkout - it's a door with stairs leading up to the yard, which is kind of weird. Also, there are a number of steps to get in or out of the house which isn't ideal for me - but those could be updated, in time. The house is definitely move-in ready for us with the potential to be updated down the road.

Even with all of those negatives, we actually really liked this house quite a lot and could easily see ourselves living there now and in the future. Unfortunately, our realtor is on vacation and if it's still available when she gets back we'll see it with her and get her opinion. We could see it with the fellow who's taking over for our realtor but we don't have a connection with him. If this house is sold by then, there will be other houses.

We'd thought about going other places today but the wind was really strong. And it snowed a bit (making the fact that we haven't taken off the snow tires less silly). So instead, we watched a movie: Steel Trap. The acting wasn't fantastic but the story was interesting. Basically, a group of people at a new year's party are texted to go to an invite-only party in the same building, and they end up getting hurt and killed. It ended up being suspenseful with a bit of a mystery. There was some gore but not too much - definitely less than in most of the movies we watch.

So if you like interesting, suspenseful, murder mysteries with a bit of gore and you don't mind sub-par acting, you might be interested in seeing Steel Trap.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A movie and a pattern

We saw The Blue Tooth Virgin tonight at a friend's place. It's an indie film about an out-of-work screenwriter who's written a new script and his friend who reads that script and offers criticism. The dialogue and characters in the movie are very well-written - really, the script is great, which is funny since this is a movie about writing scripts. There's a lot of stuff in this movie about why movies get made and how to write scripts.

We loved this movie. It was funny and self-referential and true to life. Even the parts that started out strange ended up bittersweetly funny. If you get a chance, see this movie.

I'm excited about a pattern that I received yesterday that I've been looking for and that I was thrilled to find on etsy about a week ago. Unfortunately, the listing said that the pattern only shipped to the US, so I sent a message telling the seller that I love love love love this pattern and asking if she would please ship it to me in Canada. Well, it turns out that I was the first but not the only person to ask her about the pattern; she'd received inquiries from all over the world for it! And since I loved the pattern so much, she agreed to sell it to me. It arrived yesterday :)

As you can see, it's gorgeous:
McCall's 3687
I especially love the straight skirt version and think that it would suit me. Since I've gained weight, I've gone from being mostly an hourglass shape to decidedly pear-shaped. My shoulders are smaller than my hips, they're rounded, and I've developed fat upper arms that round out even more past my shoulders. The neckline of that dress would both hide the upper arms and make my shoulders look more balanced. 

I'm very much looking forward to making this dress. I don't know exactly what I'll make it out of, or for what occasion, but that doesn't matter... this dress needs to be made for me.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Penultimate book club meeting

Today was the second-to-last meeting of the book club. The last meeting will be in two weeks and with it, we'll be finished with The Power of Now. We've been meeting twice a month since the beginning of the year so it'll feel weird to not be seeing everyone over the summer. After we finish this book, we're taking a break which will be a welcome respite for the group leader.

This book club has been a ton of work for the group leader. Each session she's prepared a handout for us that summarizes the chapter and places the ideas into a larger context. Eckhart Tolle didn't come up with the ideas in his books solely on his own; most of them are a pastiche of knowledge and practice from other disciplines. Having an understanding of where some of the ideas originated really helps to understand the text. I'm really grateful to have been able to study this book with someone who's so knowledgeable in this area.

I think there are classes I could take over the summer but none of them really appeal to me. There'll be something in the fall, I'm sure. It probably won't be another book club but it'll be something worthwhile.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Lazy, lazy me

Although I had plans to get started sewing, I still haven't tidied up my work area. If I knew what pattern I wanted to work with first it would be easier. I really want to sew one of the patterns that I ordered but I don't know when they'll get there. There's always vintage patterns, but I would have to pick just one.

The next couple of days are going to be busy for me anyways: I have my book club tomorrow afternoon and Pamidronate on Thursday. Oh, and I see the surgeon who'll do the node biopsy on Monday. Maybe by then I'll have accomplished something :)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Thinking about sewing

Thanks for all of your thoughts and ideas about meal-planning; I appreciate it. I'm not very domestic, as you probably know, so this is all a new world for me. Back in the day, women were trained to be domestic goddesses and the better they were at it, the more they were valued. It's a good thing I wasn't born into that world because I don't think I'd have made it there.

I'd planned to clean up my upstairs work table today but I didn't get a chance. I needed to pick up a prescription and after I walked to the drug store it was so nice that I went for a longer walk. One awesome thing about Waterloo is the community trail system. It's possible to walk almost everywhere without being being on public roads which makes for a very nice walk. This time of year is especially nice for walking because the leaves are coming out and the flowers are blooming.

Anyways, I ended up walking for over an hour so I didn't get a chance to clean up. I haven't totally decided what I want to sew first, although I know that I want a dress of some kind. I did receive this pattern today that I'd love to make up but I'm not sure it would suit me.
Vogue Paris Original 1751, 1960s.
This is a highly collectible pattern, and I paid more for it than I'd like to, but I love it. Really, it's just a sheath dress with a half-circle drape over the right shoulder but somehow it just looks so gorgeous. I think I like it with a chiffon drape, as in the smaller pictures, but an organza drape like in the red would be more dramatic. Actually, that red drape is a crepe or something similar; organza would be sheer like chiffon and fall into dramatic cones.

What do you think of this pattern? Am I dreaming that it could work for me?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Time for some change

Today's weather was strange: it was a combination of really humid but not too warm, with a steady breeze/light wind. It smelled so nice out because the flowers and trees are blooming and it wasn't really hot. So we went for a walk around the neighbourhood, exploring streets we didn't know. It turns out that there are some really nice areas right around here - and there are even houses that might work for us!

We also talked about the amount of cooking I don't do. Ian works every day and I'm just sitting around on my butt most of the time (although I want to do some sewing this month). It makes sense that I'd be the one to make dinner most nights... but I don't. Or if I do, it's some frozen processed meal. I don't even do the dishes often enough, which isn't right, either.

One reason that I don't cook much is that I don't really know what to make; I get overwhelmed by the possibilities. Most of our dinners are mixed together, like pasta with sauce or a stir-fry or curry. The kind of dinner each of us grew up with was more separate, with a type of meat, at least one vegetabl, and a starch. For some reason, Ian and I rarely cook that way, in part because we don't have many vegetables or meat that can stand alone.

That's going to change. We both need to eat better with more vegetables and less processed food so it's time that I actually stepped up to the plate and tried to make proper meals. Ian went grocery shopping and bought a bunch of fresh stuff for me to use. I figure that if I decide the night before what I'm making next day I won't be as overwhelmed and I'll be able to follow through on this plan.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Still looking for a house

We went to see a house today that we'd hoped might be right for us. Based on the pictures, the house appeared to be everything we want - spacious, a large kitchen, walk-in closets, and more. The house was over our price range, although not by as much as the previous house we went to see, and if it turned out that this place was perfect we might have been able to stretch our budget for it. For example, we could delay the purchase of furniture for a while. As well, each month we don't find a house means more money saved up for the down payment.

Sadly (or fortunately?) the place wasn't perfect. One of the downspouts on the house went to the flower garden in front and didn't appear to drain from there. In the streetview of the house, that downspout was extended across the path, blocking it. The house was beside a community path and they'd fenced the side of the house (in a wavy line) but not the back.

The inside of the house was gorgeous but the main floor layout was weird. The kitchen was at the front of the house to the right of the foyer, which was weird because it didn't have room for an eat-in table and it wasn't connected to the dining room. To the left of the foyer was a bedroom which overlooked the street. The rest of the main floor was mostly the living/dining room. It was a good size but having a dining room table in there was weird because the kitchen wasn't nearby.

We did like the basement which was fully finished into two separate areas: an area for living and one with a bedroom. The entry to the basement was in the laundry room and could be closed off, which we like. Being able to shut away the noise from the basement is a good thing.

After seeing the house, we went for a walk around our own neighbourhood and found a bunch of houses that, from the outside, meet our requirements. I don't know what those places would sell for, but there's a chance that some might be in our price range.

The search continues...