Saturday, June 23, 2012

Car rental update

I'm still a bit upset about having my identity stolen but I'm feeling better than I did yesterday about it. Happily, Expedia canceled the car from my bill with no problems. I explained my situation and how the car rental companies' policy prevented me from picking up the car and after double-checking the policy, they canceled the car rental and are refunding my money for that part of the trip. I'd been prepared to eat the cost of the rental car and I'm happy that I don't have to do that.

I've also booked a new car rental reservation for my arrival tomorrow. I checked and it seems that Avis takes Sears credit cards. I think Budget used to be the company that accepted this card, but both Avis and Sears websites say that it's Avis that accepts it now. I didn't prepay this reservation so if it doesn't work out I haven't lost any money. If the rental doesn't work out, one of my sisters has generously offered me a backup plan. I'm touched and very grateful for her offer of help. 

I used to carry both a Visa and a MasterCard but dropped the Visa a few years ago. There's definitely an advantage to having more than one major credit card... but at the same time, having more than one could possibly open me up to being defrauded on the second card. Having had this second set of fraudulent charges on my card and having had my identity stolen, I'm feeling paranoid that it could happen again.

I'm looking forward to going to Edmonton tomorrow and seeing my sisters and their families and my friends. Hopefully everything will go smoothly while I'm there.

Friday, June 22, 2012

My identity is not my own

Yesterday I was looking at my Mastercard statements online and I was shocked to see that my balance was in the neighbourhood of $13K(!).  I was expecting a much lower balance because I pay it off every month or so and I know I haven't run up that much in charges considering I haven't used the card much.

I might not have used the card, but someone did. They purchased over $10K in camera equipment from a Toronto camera shop. I was a little upset because I'd had to change my card number within the last year because someone was booking flights on Vietnam Air. I filed things to dispute the charges and let it go. After all, I'm going to Edmonton on Sunday and I wanted to think about what I needed to do to get ready.

The BMO fraud department called this afternoon and I was surprised that they were contacting me so quickly. After the person identified herself I made some comment that she must have been calling about the charges and she said that she would get to that.

She would get to that? Why else would she be calling?

She would be calling to tell me that someone went and changed my address to someplace in North York (part of Toronto) and that I'm the victim of identity fraud.

While trying to reassure me that this happens all the time, she instructed me to cut up my card (which I did) because it's already been cancelled and they've put new security measures in place for the account. I also had to call Equifax and TransUnion (the credit reporting agencies) to report the identity theft and to take steps to prevent my identity from being stolen again or other people from getting credit from being issued in my name.

The person from the fraud department also instructed me to run virus scanners on our computers because whoever took my information (including information that would allow me to change the address for my credit card) could have done it through a virus on my computer.

This has all freaked me out quite a bit and I'm feel violated. What else does this person know? What else could they do?

This situation has also complicated my trip to Edmonton a bit. I've prepaid for everything - flight, hotel, car - so I hoped that not having the physical card anymore wouldn't be a problem. It isn't a problem for the hotel but it's a huge problem for the car company. It's such a huge problem that I will not be able to pick up the car at all. Not having a car isn't the end of the world, but it's annoying and frustrating that I won't be able to use something for which I've already paid. Tomorrow I'll try to contact Expedia (where I booked the trip) and see if I can get a refund for the car without messing up the rest of the trip but I'm not holding my breath.

Identity theft sucks. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sewing room progress

This past weekend, Ian finished laying the subfloor for my sewing room. Yay! It was a ton of work but he managed to finish it in one day. I'm very pleased with the way it looks and feels underfoot. It'll make the floor so much more comfortable than if the floor were laid directly over the concrete. Having the subfloor in place will also mean that we won't need to worry so much about leaks damaging the flooring as there are channels incorporated into the subfloor allowing water to move.

The top of the subfloor panels have some kind of wood composite on top that is yellowish so the light in the room looks very yellow. This will make it more difficult to choose a paint colour for the room so I think we'll have to lay the floor first. We'd planned to paint first so that we didn't need to protect the floor but I just don't think that I'll get a good read on the paint colour without the floor in place.

So now I need to go floor shopping. As much as I'd like to get it done before I leave for Edmonton, I don't think it'll happen. I'm already feeling a bit stressed about my available time and I don't want to add to that stress at all. I'll do that shopping when I get back

The idea that my sewing room is almost ready is very exciting... at this rate, I might have a sewing room before the end of the year. Oh, how I'd love that!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Catching up

I've been really, really busy this past week. Even though the aprons are done I'm still working on the gifts for my niece and nephew. Of course they're taking longer than I thought they would because that's how these things go, right? :) I'm very pleased with my designs and how they're coming together.

On Wednesday I saw a friend of mine that I haven't seen in ages. She and her husband made a beautiful purple knitted sweater with hand-made buttons for Gozer. I was touched by their generosity in making something for our little furchild. The sweater fits her perfectly and is a welcome addition to her fall and spring wardrobe.

I had a wonderful time visiting with my friend. We spent some time looking around the garden and then did some catching up over lunch and while walking Gozer. I'm so proud of my friend; she's been through a lot and has come out a stronger, happier person than before. She's in school in the process of starting over with a new career and is doing very, very, very well. Clearly she's found her calling and it makes me happy to see her happy and doing so well.

Yesterday I was finally able to spend some time in the garden. I wanted to get out there but I've been much too busy on other stuff so I decided that no matter what I was going to work out there yesterday. I did some puttering around and then got down to doing some serious work. Over where the birch trees were taken out things had been going a bit wild. There was Virginia creeper everywhere, a small sumac tree, three small ash or prickly ash trees, and a huge assortment of weeds. I got the trees and vines out along with anything that looked like it might possibly grow into a tree or bush. My muscles are all stiff now so I know that I worked hard.

This weekend I hope to get some work done on the gifts and maybe do more work in the garden. It's going to be really hot over the next few days so it might not be fun to be working outside. We'll see what happens.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Biopsy results

When I got to my surgeon's office the biopsy pathology results hadn't yet arrived. The receptionist called and was able to have the hospital fax the results over before I saw my surgeon. The results were both great and strange.

The great news is that the sample contained no malignancies, so the changes in my breast are not caused by any kind of cancer. Even though I figured that this was the case, it's nice to have confirmation that I don't have more or another cancer.

The strange news is that there was no sarcoidosis in the biopsy sample. Huh? The pathologist said that the changes are more like granular annulare of the interstitial type (whatever that means - could it be interstitial granulomatous dermatitis? I couldn't really find that part), which is apparently just a group of white blood cells that form and rise to the skin. This condition usually causes raised red rings to form on the skin, which is definitely what my thing looks like although it doesn't look the same as the pictures on the interwebs.

The report says that it's also possible that the breast changes are due to an interstitial granulomatous drug reaction. From what I can gather, this means that I`m having a rather unusual reaction to one or another of the drugs that I take. The most recent addition was the denosumab so of course I wonder if it's the one causing the problem.

How crazy would it be for me to have two distinct conditions characterized by granuloma formation: sarcoidosis and this other thing going on in the breast? Pretty darn crazy, I'd say. I'm fairly certain that I do have the sarcoidosis because it was confirmed by biopsy in my mediastinal lymph nodes and my elbow scar. Of course apparently sarcoidosis can look like these other conditions but apparently the pathology is usually different for each of them.

My surgeon is referring me to a dermatologist in Oakville because we need to figure out what`s going on with that one breast. The biopsy raised more questions than it answered, which seems to be par for the course. Hoepfully I'll be able to get some answers and maybe even some treatment.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Long week

I've been crazy busy lately what with finishing up the aprons for my metalsmithing class and working on my metalsmithing projects. I think that I've got up early every weekday for the last two weeks and I'll be doing it again this week, at least until Friday when I have absolutely no plans. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to not having a single thing to do that day. It'll be so wonderful, especially since I've had commitments every other day.

I know that this doesn't sound like I'm working all that hard, having to get up around 8am instead of 10am and do one thing per day, but it's more than I normally do. Fortunately, I've managed to keep myself from feeling too overwhelmed this whole time, which I think of as a big accomplishment.

Speaking of accomplishments, I've finished the aprons - finally! If I get orders for more I'll make more but for now I'm happy that they're done. Ian's also got the drywall done in my sewing room, has primed the walls, and is ready to lay the subfloor. I'd love to be sewing in my sewing room because everything will have a place and there will be space. Right now there isn't enough room for both my sewing machine and my serger and I have a hard time finding needles and other useful things. I bought a new pair of snips because while I know I have a pair, they're hiding somewhere.

I've also made progress on the gifts that I'm making for my niece and nephew as graduation presents. I hope to finish both gifts before I leave for Edmonton on June 24 - really, if I'm stressed about anything, it's finishing those gifts. It isn't the end of the world if they're not finished but I really want to have them done when I head out there. We'll see what happens.

Tomorrow I'm seeing my surgeon to get the biopsy stitch taken out and to hopefully get the pathology results. I'm not anticipating bad results or anything and I expect that the results will come back as sarcoidosis or maybe as insufficient sample. If I can get a confirmation that the skin changes are sarcoidosis then maybe I can get it treated. The skin is still changing and I'd like that skin to go back to normal.

So there's a summary of what's been going on over this last week or so. I'll let you know what happens tomorrow.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Landscaping done

The landscapers finished all of the work in our backyard last Thursday. I'm thrilled that it took them only four days to do the work. Overall, we're very happy with the results. The workers were very neat and tidy, cleaning up the patio and removing all traces of their presence on the driveway before they left each day. Contrast this with our neighbour's approach, which is to leave equipment and product he'll be using later on the road.

The workers also worked very fast and from what I can tell, they did a thorough job. They all seemed to take a lot of pride in their work and tried to make the new landscaping look nice and blend in with the existing landscaping. I trusted them to plant all of the perennials in the garden wherever they thought they should go because they knew more than I did about these plants. We've done some research on the plants and I think we might want to move them at some point but we'll leave each plant in its current position this year.

Of course not everything went perfectly. In particular, we had issues around communicating with the company owner. We'd have been better prepared for them if the owner had confirmed when the work was starting. As well, when the owner discussed the job with us, he said that when it came to planting the perennials he wanted us at home so that we could tell the guys where to put them. On what could have been planting day, I called him and asked when planting would happen as I thought he'd wanted us there and in response he said that the guys would lay out the plants where they would go and we could move them. Later on, I talked to the foreman who hadn't been planning to do that at all. That's when I told him to plant them where he thought best.

These were small communication problems and we were so happy with the work that we'd definitely recommend Lawrence Lawn Care for landscaping jobs. We have to check but if they have experience with permeable paving like grasspave2, we'll hire them again to make our driveway narrower so that our neighbour can see where his driveway ends... and hopefully stop driving and parking on our driveway.

Now for some pictures:

Before. This picture was actually taken last year; the bushes on both sides of the waterfall are much larger this year. The area to the left of the waterfall and bridge is where the landscaping was done. 

After. Even though this picture was taken at a slightly different angle and includes more than in the Before picture, the differences are obvious. The new landscaping extends from the waterfall over to the about the lilac tree on the lower left of the picture. They put the cedar mulch over all of the backyard plant beds to unify the look and while I don't love dyed cedar mulch, it does look nice. We're not loving the aluminum rails on either side of the path between the steps and bridge so we'll be wanting to cover them with creeping plants.

A second After view, taken from the other side of the bridge and waterfall. That little tigerseye sumac on the right, there, is going to grow up big and strong. It'll look great once it's fully grown to its 6ft high by 6ft wide self. Behind and just to the left of the sumac is our tulip tree. 

Friday, June 01, 2012

Yesterday's biopsy

Yesterday was biopsy day for me. Ian took the day off so that he could do the driving which I appreciated. I could have driven myself there an back because it was just a skin biopsy but biopsies of any kind are stressful and it's better for me (and everyone I guess) to not drive when I'm stressed.

We didn't want to leave Gozer crated in her kennel for the whole time we were gone so we decided to bring her with us and take her to his parent's house for a visit. I'd hoped that Gozer could visit with Ian's parents because they like her and she likes them but she spent most of the time looking out of the patio doors. Ian's parents get a lot of chipmunks, squirrels, and bunnies - not just fully-growed versions but baby-sized versions too! - and Gozer likes to watch them go by and bark at them when they get too close.

After dropping off Gozer, we went to the hospital for the biopsy. It wasn't busy at all in that department and I got in right away. My surgeon looked at the affected breast and noticed that the reddened, thickened areas had changed since he saw me last week. Yep, it's changed, because it really done change that quickly. He injected local anaesthetic in two locations (the slower that stuff goes in the less it hurts), waited a minute, sliced off a skin sample, and stitched it closed with one stitch. Even though I couldn't feel what was happening and it didn't hurt at all, I could feel the whole breast move and that creeped me out a little bit. Fortunately, the whole thing didn't take long so I didn't end up freaking out too much.

The area bled a little bit for the next 24 hours or so but it seems to have dried up completely now. I haven't had any pain at the incision site although I have had some pain and throbbing in the areola today. I think I'll live :)

I'm to call the surgeon's office on Monday to request an appointment on Monday, June 11. My surgeon will remove the stitch at that appointment and check how well the incision is healing. If the pathology results are back, we'll talk about them at that appointment; otherwise, he'll call me with the result.