Monday, December 02, 2019

ODDS and ENDS

Digging around in some storage boxes the other day, I came across the following bits and pieces.

#1 - A card containing Mother Shipton's predictions, something my Grandma kept in her dressing table drawer, passed on to my mother, then via her to me. My 10-year old blog post about Mother Shipton and her prophecies is HERE. These are words of her predictions, as printed on the card.






#2 - A photograph taken at the blacksmith's shop in Gretna Green, part of a coach trip with my mother in the early 1990s, after Dad had died. Gretna Green became famous as the venue of many "shotgun marriages" in the days when stringent English law on marriage caused couples, desperate to tie the knot, to escape to Scotland where marriage laws were much less strict. Gretna Green was the first place over the English/Scottish border, the blacksmith's shop was the first building travellers encountered. The town now makes a pretty penny from tourists! Our trip included a stop at the blacksmith's shop, with opportunity for a fun photograph depicting a runaway marriage. In the photo below the guy seated with the shotgun - playing bride's father, was my late partner (for over 30 years), the lady seated (in the role of bride's mother) is my mother. I am in the crowd - behind and between the top hat of the rather elderly groom and a girl wearing a striped jacket.



#3
A photograph I took on one of our many trips to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. One evening I must have noticed the setting Sun in just the right place for this:

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Another Holiday in the USA, 28 November 2019





I am exceptionally thankful to still be around on planet Earth in 2019, and able to post this greeting to any passing readers in the USA!

Monday, November 18, 2019

MAKE IT STOP!

The usually peaceful town of Duncan, Oklahoma, where I've lived for 15 years, today has become part of the growing list of places where lack of sufficient gun control has taken its toll. According to reports, 3 people were fatally shot this morning at the Walmart store here.

Senator Chris Murphy, in 2012, wrote important words, quoted in full in my post HERE - including:

"None of this is inevitable. I know this because no other country endures this pace of mass carnage like America. It is uniquely and tragically American. As long as our nation chooses to flood the county with dangerous weapons and consciously let those weapons fall into the hands of dangerous people, these killings will not abate.

"As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets. Ask yourself – how can you claim that you respect human life while choosing fealty to weapons-makers over support for measures favored by the vast majority of your constituents.

"My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something."

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Just a Few Lines...

Just a few decades ago, when what we now refer to as "snail mail" was our main means of written communication, "Just a few lines...." would often begin our pen and paper missives to friends and relatives. Or, perhaps: "Dear... I hope you are well. Just a few lines to let you know...." Not very original but a helpful way to get started, pen in hand.

All of which was simply to say that these are just a few lines to record that my CT scan, last week, turned out better than my darkest doubts had imagined. A nurse, with directions from the oncologist, called me to say that the scan indicated that there have been no negative changes, in the chest, abdomen and pelvic areas, since my last scans. The problem in my left femur, causing pain-when-walking, has remained stable. I'd have liked that to have improved some, but am thankful for small mercies. The radiation oncologist (a different doctor) had indicated to me that, if requested, he would give the left hip/thigh area another shot or two of radiation. I am considering that option, will contact him for his further opinion after he, too, has seen the scan results.

I worried non-stop about those flippin' scan results! Drove myself into a bag of nerves during last weekend. I'm now feeling more relaxed (until the next time). I dread those kinds of waiting times; procedures I can deal with, it's the not knowing that really gets to me.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Stuff Done

The past week has seemed filled with "stuff to do" that was not sufficiently interesting to write about at length: follow-up appointment with radiologist (skin all healed well after radiation treatments in August). Dentist appointment for a filling. Appointment for a CT scan to discover whether any changes have taken place for good or ill during past 6 months. Haven't had result yet. Letters and numerous garbled phone calls about my grant towards cost of Ibrance medication running out. Efforts made to obtain a fresh grant. Finding a way to fax our last tax return in relation to the grant issue. Having faxed it, more garbled phone calls in relation to same. I say "garbled" because most of the time I cannot understand what the person at the other end of the line is saying. They are usually carrying out lists of routine contacts, gabbling their lines at top speed. I thought that it was an accent problem, but no, my husband has the same difficulty. Nobody is taught how to speak on the phone, in a professional way, these days - or if they are, the lessons are soon forgotten!

Then it was Hallowe'en.

We had only two trick or treaters this year, one of whom was my husband's great-granddaughter, Serenity, with her grandparents. It seems that the old-fashioned Hallowe'en customs have, at last, been overtaken by more communal and organised dress-up occasions care of churches, schools or other societies. It was an unusually cold evening here too, which didn't entice young visitors travelling on foot. Here is great-granddaughter Serenity, with husband and I - he got all dressed up for the occasion too. :)

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Various Goings On


The weather here in southern Oklahoma is, at last, after days of temperatures in the 80s, acting in more autumnal fashion. Today it's actually cool to cold outside - 49 degrees, windy with a storm in the offing. The trees haven't yet donned their fall colours, after a few more of these cooler nights, it'll happen.



In other news, a routine blood test on 16 October, to discover how the targeted therapy medications are affecting my blood quality, showed that the white cell count was below desired minimum - same for platelets. Oncologist told me to take a second week off the Ibrance capsules - these are routinely taken for 21 days with 7 days off each month. This time I had 14 days off. Blood test yesterday showed figures had bounced back to an acceptable level, so off I go again with the Ibrance. I'm to have a CT scan next week - to check whether much has changed for good or for ill since my last scans around 6 months ago. Not looking forward to that!



The problems I had in obtaining a refill of my pain medication last month happily did not recur this time. Our usual pharmacy has changed their wholesaler. The medications I take for pain-while-walking now come from a different generic manufacturer. I was worried that these might be even less effective than those I've been taking, but, though it's a little early to be sure, I do suspect that these might be a tad more effective.




Further afield, Brexit bumbles on...and on....and on. When, oh when, oh when will it end? The part of it all that affects me personally is the currency exchange rate, it affects my two pensions coming from the UK. The rate has been volatile for a couple or more years, diving down then up, down again etc, depending on what had been Boris Johnson's or Ms May's latest failed attempts at bringing about a deal.



In the USA the season known as "The Holidays" is almost upon us. I'm glad to be here, still, to see it once again! Hallowe'en decor has been showing up for the past few weeks in front yards - ghosties, ghoulies and long leggedy beasties, spider webs and witches...you know the drill. We now await the Trick or Treaters on 31st of the month. We had very few last year - disappointing, because it's fun to see the imaginative costumes the kids come up with, and the excitement on the faces of the littlest ones. Perhaps the custom is starting to go out of fashion, for one reason or another - safety, perhaps, and many communal organised Hallowe'en costume events. Next up: Thanksgiving on 28 November, followed by You-Know-What-mas, a month later.
Ka-ching...ka-ching!



On the knitting front, I'm using a big skein of pink "ombre" tinted yarn to make another, longer scarf. It's something I can pick up and just knit, without need to refer to a pattern. I love seeing the changing shades of pink appear, apropos of which, I noticed that my husband is reading "The Secret Lives of Colour" by Kassia St Clair. I shall read it too, when he's done with it. Back-cover blurb: "From the scarlet women to imperial purple, from the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, from kelly green to acid yellow, the surprising stories of colour run like a bright thread through our history." Several varieties of pink are investigated, for example: Baker-Miller Pink; Mountbatten Pink, Puce, Fuchsia; Shocking Pink, Fluorescent Pink, and Amaranth. Maybe some of those will appear in my scarf.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Dribs and Drabs

I don't have much news right now, so a few links to recent internet items I enjoyed:


As well as loving the sight of a wee bear's antics (Who's been playing on my staircase?") I learned a new word: 'parkour'. For anyone else who is as out of the modern word loop as I am, here's some information about that word: https://www.britannica.com/sports/parkour.

Here's the article with a video included.

Bear Family Breaks Into Home And Cub Parkours Down The Staircase







A piece from Ian Welsh's blog might be of use to some of us - or even to all of us, in due course when, and if, things suddenly go haywire. (A general link to all of Ian Welsh's blog pages is among assorted links in the sidebar.)

Link:

https://www.ianwelsh.net/open-thread-and-preparing-for-power-outs/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IanWelsh+%28Ian+Welsh%29







The Sartorialist has been a daily stop on my internet wanderings for many years. Recently the blog's presentation style has changed. Now we can see beaucoup street fashion instead of just one or two pieces of the master photographer's work per day. Commenting is no longer available on the blog page, but probably remains available on other parts of the net, into which I do not venture (Facebook, Instagram and suchlike).







Just a peek at the slippers I had begun knitting at the time of my previous post. They are not particularly stylish, but they are warm and good enough for keeping the tootsies comfortable while watching TV on a winter evening. Decoration will be changed when I can find something better - or try to make a couple of pom-poms to attach.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Two Needles... of the Non-Medical Variety

The photograph is evidence of what I've been doing lately to keep myself occupied, instead of regularly scribbling on the blog. I had been wondering whether I would be able to remember how to knit - even how to cast on the stitches with which to knit! In my younger years I used to knit a lot, sewed too, and embroidered. I left it all behind with the coming of a home computer, back in England. This, of course, opened the door to the internet tempting me with lots of different things to do.

A week or two ago I found a free knitting pattern on the internet for the scarf you see around my neck in the photo. I bought the recommended yarn and knitting needles online.

I had first learned how to knit in junior school, back in Hull, England - at around 6 or 7 years old. We were taught how to knit a cover for a wooden coat hanger. My Mum kept my rather clumsy cherry red effort in use, in her wardrobe, during the rest of her life. Mum was an expert Fair Isle knitter - something she had done in the evenings and nights during the long war years - so many fearful hours in Hull, waiting for the Air Raid siren; waiting more eagerly for the "All Clear!" Eventually Mum was able to add a little finesse to my basic, clunky, knitting ability. I never did reach her level of skill and patience to knit the beautiful intricate patterns of Fair Isle such as she produced. I loved wearing the oft-admired sweaters she knitted for me.

It turns out that knitting, basic knitting at least, is bit like riding a bike - one of those things you never forget how to do. With yarn and needles to hand I cast on X number of stitches with never a thought of "Now - how do I do this?"

The pattern of the scarf in the photo, said to be easy enough for beginners, was called "English Rib", though I've seen similar patterns elsewhere under different names. Hardest thing to remember, for me, was "am I on Row One or Row Two?" (of the simple 2-row pattern). After a couple of errors I got the hang of it. The scarf was finished rather quickly, thanks to thick yarn and fat needles.

I've just begun the piece of knitting I'm holding in the photograph. It is going to develop (I hope) into slippers, from a pattern available, free, in numerous places on the internet. The basic pattern is said to be "decades old", and very easy to do as the slippers are knitted flat. Pattern suggests using two strands at once of a certain type of yarn, something likely to slow me down, along with the choice of slimmer needles, but will produce more sturdy slippers. We shall see. Perhaps there'll be a photo later on, as evenings grow cooler at last, attesting to the viability of flat-knit wool-warm slippers.



A few knit-wise words from other ladies:

“Advice for New Knitters - When choosing a pattern, look for ones that have words such as "simple", "basic", and "easy". If you see the words "intriguing", "challenging", or "intricate", look elsewhere. If you happen across a pattern that says "heirloom", slowly put down the pattern and back away. "Heirloom" is knitting code for "This pattern is so difficult that you would consider death a relief".”
― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”
― Elizabeth Zimmerman.

“She was passionate about knitting because it allowed her to reach a state of peacefulness, and she loved to embroider because it let her express her creativity. Both activities were liberating. They allowed her to exist outside of time.”
― Laura Esquivel, Pierced by the Sun.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Grouch, Grumble, Whine....

A frustrating and tiring few days put me in a dark mood this week.

Acquiring a refill of my pain medication - a generic of the brand Norco - is becoming more difficult by the month. I obtained the paper prescription, signed in ink by my temporry oncologist, as required now by law when medications involving opioids are refilled. We took the prescription to the pharmacy we've used for the past 15 years. On being presented with the written prescription the rather unhelpful young lady at the drop-off counter told me "Sorry we can't fill that, we are getting a new wholesaler and we have none in stock. You'll have to go to another pharmacy." "Well", said I, "I could wait for a day or two, I still have a some tablets left. Would you have the medication available in a few days' time?" "No, we don't know when, or if, we'll have them". A bit fishy, that!

We drove to CVS pharmacy just across the road, to be told by a kindly young guy at their drop-off desk. "Sorry, we're all out of those tablets, people coming from the pharmacy across the road have cleaned us out. We might have some by early next week. I'd try Walgreens - not Walmart as they'd likely send you away as you're not a regular customer."

Onward to Walgreens. These pharmacy visits entail a fair amount of walking, and I, the painfully walking wounded one, was not delighted by the fact that pharmacy counters in the large stores are right at the back, farthest away from the entrances - so lots of painful steps for me. Even dosed up with the pain pills, using a quad-cane, walking far is not easy for me.

Walgreens, after checking my identity and Medicare details, seemed willing to fill my prescription. They were very busy - lines forming at the pick-up and drop-of counters all the time. They said to come back to pick up the tablets in around 45 minutes. We returned over an hour later. Medications not yet ready for me, so we decided to wait until the next day to collect - to avoid yet another trail to the back of the store that day. Later on, a phone call from the pharmacist at Walgreens told me that I would need the doctor's further authority for the number of pills required by the prescription. (I'd have thought that the prescription itself was that authority!) The doc had allowed for 8 tablets per day (for a month) instead of 6 per day. New regulations mean that extra authority from the doctor will be required for that amount of tablets. I told the pharmacist that, as I take only 6 tablets per day, could he please just fill the prescription for that amount? He agreed to do this, and changed the number of pills stated on the prescription. So, yet another trip to Walgreens the next day, though with rested legs.
At last, I had the tablets in my hot sticky hands. I say hot and sticky advisedly. It was around 95 degrees in town during these adventures, adding to my annoyance and discomfort.

I had hoped that Walgreens might deal with a different generic manufacturer than the one used by our usual pharmacy. Sadly no, that didn't happen - same generic manufacturer, who shall remain nameless. I am convinced, as are many people online, that the generic of Norco made by this particular manufacturer is not as effective as the brand medication itself, or pills made by several other generic manufacturers. It is thought, by regular users of this medication, that not long after December 2017, when panic erupted over deaths by addiction to opioids in the USA, especially in Oklahoma, the effectiveness of these tablets as pain relief medication took a nosedive. Those who had been taking the medication before and after the opioid crisis suspect that some manufacturers have adjusted make-up of these tablets, possibly by changing additional ingredients used in their manufacture. I suspect (a wild guess on my part) that the way the tablets were being used by addicts for purposes other than pain relief, may have been the reason for change. Addicts crushed the tablets. Perhaps some generic manufacturers added an ingredient to prevent easy crushing which, in turn, could also prevent proper digestion of the pain-relieving ingredients. So those of us who genuinely need pain relief go to the back of the queue, we don't matter!

Pain relief from the pills, for me, is minimal but better than nothing. Morphine at the strengths tried already brings even less relief. I'll be asking the temporary oncologist, next time I see him, if there's something else I could try. I'd buy the brand name Norco tablets, even just to try, if they weren't so ridiculously expensive - in the order of $500 + per month!

Whinge, whinge, grouch and grumble! A wheelchair beckons!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

2020 & All That

I've written next to nothing about the presidential election due in November 2020 - too many other things on my mind, I guess. Early this year, before medical issues for a second time snatched my attention, I did take a look at the natal charts of some likely Democratic contenders, even before they had announced their candidacies. I came to the conclusion that, of those I investigated, most likely to do well according to their natal charts and upcoming planetary transits, were Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. My posts on the topic from earlier this year can be accessed via the label cloud in the sidebar (scroll way down); just click on "presidential candidates 2020". Many moons have passed since those posts. Elizabeth Warren is, indeed, as I + her natal chart suspected, doing well in the polls - second only to Joe Biden in most of them.

I came to the conclusion, early on, that my own preferred candidate, Bernie Sanders, will not be allowed anywhere near the Democratic nomination by the DNC - nor will my other favourite candidate Tulsi Gabbard. Sad, but true. It has been said that the DNC would rather see another Trump presidency than ever countenance a US President Bernie Sanders. This - THIS - is what is so wrong about politics in the USA, and in the UK these days come to that. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader there is equally vilified by many!


I'd not feel too badly about a president Warren with Booker as her VP, given the rest of the choices available. I shall now make Warren/Booker my prediction! I'd be surprised if Joe Biden can sustain his current lead - I rather hope not - he's just another Republican-lite in my estimation.

Of course, if I haven't shuffled off already by November 2020, I'll be 81 going on 82, and probably fixing to shuffle off before very much longer, so my feelings on this issue are somewhat irrelevant. I'd love to know how it all turns out though, and whether astrology worked well in this particular case.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What to Write About?





Time to write something - but what to write about? Nothing has changed much since my last update, in relation to medical matters. I have found, after brief experimenting, that medical marijuana tincture - a drop under the tongue, does help to increase my appetite and decrease any feelings of nausea - side effect of my two anti-cancer medications. That's a worthwhile finding - I'd like to put back some of the weight I've lost. No more vaping the MM though, until the current findings about vaping in general are clarified as to whether nicotine or THC (part of marijuana) are involved - could even be both, I suppose. Pain-when-walking remains my main bugbear. Pain relief from my pain medication is good for a short time only, once it has kicked in. Sometimes I think the relief is improving, but not consistently, the following day can bring it back seemingly worse than ever at times. The radiation oncologist said, in regard to this, that bones are not consistent. It's something to watch and note. Perhaps the improvements will, as time goes by, last longer and longer - this is what the oncologist suspects, and I can but hope!


News on a wider scale continues, for me, to revolve around the UK's pantomime known as Brexit, and the USA's pantomime known as President Donald Trump.

Brexit news and the current doings of Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson (aka Donald Trump lite), become more unbelievable by the day - even by the hour this week. I didn't believe anything could possibly make Donald Trump appear to be more presidential - but this week's doings in the UK did it for me! It took a lot though. On President Trump, there's a long-running thread at Quora asking:

https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-best-Donald-Trump-joke-you-have-heard

I read through most of the thread but found most of the jokes a tad lame. Maybe my sense of humour has been lost along with my weight! This joke was the only one that managed to raise as much as a chuckle:

Trump is doing a meet-and-greet at a crowded venue and his security detail is being extra watchful. One of them is a new guy and he’s extra jumpy.

Suddenly, a gunman bursts from the crowd, aiming his weapon at the President. Pandemonium ensues. The rookie bodyguard screams “Mickey Mouse!!!” at the top of his voice and this startles the would be assassin to the point that his aim is off and the shot goes over Trump’s head.

Some bodyguards wrestle the assailant to the ground, while others hustle the President to safety. Disaster averted.

Later, during debriefing, the head of the security detail congratulates the rookie. Without his quick thinking, he tells him, the President might very well be dead.

“But I’m puzzled” he said. “Why on earth would you yell 'Mickey Mouse'?”

“I’m new”, explained the rookie, sheepishly. “I panicked. I meant to yell 'Donald! Duck!!'”

Friday, August 30, 2019

Updated and Backdated

Quick medical update first: The oncologist and the radiation oncologist I saw earlier this week on follow-up appointments both gave me a thorough "going over", declared me good for a while longer - well, anyway until my next appointments with both I guess; that will not be for 2 months. Perhaps I'll not be shuffling off before then, barring accidents and the unexpected, fingers crossed!

The temporary stand-in oncologist advised, with regard to pills for my pain-while-walking, that I can try using a double dose of the the minimum dose extended release morphine tablets, prescribed in July by another stand-in oncologist. The pills as prescribed had had no effect on my pain, so I just didn't take them and relied on the previous pain pills I'd been using. I'm now trying this new regime, with my old pain pills available for "break-through pain". I'm still not overly impressed with the morphine, the effect so far isn't as beneficial as my usual pain pills, but maybe lasts a little longer. I shall give it a longer testing and experimenting time.



I'm not sure how much longer Learning Curve on the Ecliptic will survive, in view of the fact that I shall have to buy a new computer before January 2020. Windows 7 operating system, which I use, will no longer be supported by Microsoft after that; this old computer has a hitch in its sound system so needs replacing anyway. I'm posting much less frequently than in years past. Survival of Learning Curve, at all, will depend on how compatible I find myself with Windows 10 once I've replaced my old faithful machine and operating system.


It was around this time of year in 2006 that I first jumped into Blogger and tried my hand at blogging. For many years I posted daily, initially about astrology, later on a variety of topics. In 2015 a kind commenter suggested that I should write some posts telling a little about my life. I was wary of doing so at first as it seemed particularly self-indulgent. Ah well, a bit of navel-gazing has never hurt anyone, so I began a weekend series of posts on my own life story. By the end of the series I found that I had actually enjoyed those backward glances.

Thinks: With a bit of filling out, this post could stand for the full week ahead, so...below is a list of links to the 8 parts of that self-indulgent story of my life mentioned above. Any stray passing reader might be brave enough to sample an episode - or two - or perhaps just take a look at the pictures.

Self Indulgence - episode 1
Self Indulgence - episode 2
Self Indulgence - episode 3
Self Indulgence - episode 4
Self Indulgence - episode 5
Self Indulgence - episode 6
Self Indulgence - episode 7
Self Indulgence - episode 8

Monday, August 26, 2019

Tardy Update-ish

Well....I guess it's time I posted an update here, but there's not much to report at present. Perhaps after Wednesday I'll have news worth recording, after two medical appointments - follow-ups. These will be mainly in relation to issues following my radiation course a few weeks ago, and checking state of blood after several weeks on the Ibrance medication - those expensive pills for which, amazingly, I haven't yet had to pay anything out of pocket.

Medical marijuana news: I've decided to stay off it for a few days. I hadn't been taking much anyway - a drop of tincture once or twice a day. The sleepiness, my only consistently noticeable effect from MM, has been increasing daily, along with a general feeling of being "not quite with it". Up with that I will not put! No MM today, and already I feel slightly less doped-up. There were a couple of tries at vaping a few days ago, no more of that until I read more of recent reports that vaping (not sure if re nicotine or marijuana) has been causing some kind of lung disease.

Cartoons below came from my oldest (in both senses) friend in the UK - she was born a week after yours truly.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Medical Update MM-Wise

YAY!! I received my Medical Marijuana card on Saturday! We visited a dispensary, bought some tincture, a gummie and a plastic straw filled with "High Honey", as my first-time try-outs. I tried the last-mentioned on Saturday evening - no effect! I did fall asleep in front of TV late evening - but I do that most evenings anyway. This morning I tried a couple of small drops of the tincture (under the tongue), which haven't done anything so far. Finding the right stuff for my needs, and the right doses, will take time. Everyone is so different, useful advice can't really be offered. I'm looking for help with my pain-when-walking and occasional nausea and loss of appetite. Experimentation is recommended, always starting with lowest dose. The woman in the dispensary said to even cut the gummie into 4 and take a quarter only at first - I'll experiment with that later. We shall visit another dispensary, to buy the necessary equipment to do "vaping", the dispensary we visited on Saturday was out of stock. I really do not fancy smoking the stuff, vapor seems like the next best thing.

The past week saw irradiated skin around my chest and under-arm areas peeling away, leaving one painfully awkward raw place under-arm requiring a dressing. I had to seek assistance and advice from a nurse. Glad to say that, with husband's assistance with the dressing, it's now much less raw and improving daily.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Frustration Station (Medical Update)

The blog has been silent for a week. It was a week filled with annoyance and frustrations initiated by our visit last Saturday - as mentioned in the second paragraph of my previous post, above. That appointment, at a local Medical Marijuana dispensary, did not work out at all as expected! Rather than bore the underwear off any stray reader, I'll try to nutshell the tale, but it isn't easy to tell briefly. This could well ramble on.

I, allegedly, had the last appointment of the day at a local dispensary where I had assumed a doctor would be present to recommend (or not) medical marijuana (MM) for me. It turned out, however, that there were numerous "walk-ins" to be dealt with after me - the small waiting room was heaving with these when we arrived.

A good imitation of chaos ensued.

My "interview with a doctor" consisted of a few minutes talking to an elderly guy on a laptop screen. The doc seemed less interested in listening to what I was telling him about my ailments than in attaching his own labels to me. After a few minutes he gave the assistant some code numbers. That was that, doctor-wise.

I was then handed over to an assistant and "the boss" to provide my documentary proofs of identity (my US passport), proof of residency in Oklahoma (my Voter ID card), and my Medicare card. These were scanned or photographed, and a photograph was taken of me (passport style). There were some mumblings about proof of residency, and there being a need to submit the top sheet to the deeds to joint ownership of our house. This should have been unnecessary, as the Voter ID card was one listed as acceptable proof of residency in the state. We agreed to send what they had requested, by e-mail, and the "boss" would call me later that evening to finalise things and get my debit card number for payment of $20 to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), and submit my application to OMMA. I had paid "the boss" $75 in cash for his part in the process, for which he gave a peculiar type of receipt on my husband's cellphone - something we have yet to decipher. All the time we were there, by the way, "the boss" guy was dealing with at least one, sometimes two, other applicants concurrently with me.

We went home, searched for house deeds, found what seemed to be appropriate and sent it to the e-address we'd been given. Then.....nothing. No phone call that evening, none the next day nor on the day after.

We visited the dispensary on Tuesday, explained what had happened (or hadn't happened) to a lady who seemed to be in charge there. She made a phone call to "the owner" (as in "the boss") who allegedly told her he would call us that evening. He didn't. More calls to the dispensary followed next day, with promises made by recipient to call me back. Nobody ever called back.

It was Thursday by now - I had steam coming out of my ears. Another call to the dispensary - this time I let it rip a lot more than I had during past phone calls. The guy at the other end of the line said "We were only hosting the event, it was nothing to do with us". GRRR! I told him that as hosts to something, they had to take some responsibility for what had gone on. He promised to call the owner of the outfit who had "organised" Saturday's chaotic event. Nothing further was heard by that afternoon.

At some point, someone had given me a phone number which led to an answering machine at the offices of "the owner", in Oklahoma City. I decided to leave a message on it. I guessed my message would be just one of thousands and like everything else I'd done, be completely ignored. The answering machine cut me off after a few seconds, but I kept going back each time, continuing my call, ending with pleas to "please, please, please will somebody ring me back!" Ten minutes later somebody did. It was "the boss". That turned out to be a very long phone call, an hour or more with lots of waiting time included. What had gone on on Saturday was repeated over again, as though Saturday's visit had never happened. This time, eventually, I was asked for my debit card number and that was that. He said I should receive confirmation that my application had been received by the OMMA, and that my MM card should be with me in around 5 to 7 days - possibly by Wednesday next. I got the confirmation from OMMA within a few minutes.

On reflection, and upon further reading around, using name of "the boss", I began to realise that there is a veritable flood of applicants in the state, a never-ending flood it seems, and "the boss" and his organisation are trying to deal with the flood, but without adequate means (or so it appears to me, now).

Fingers crossed that the train, having at last left Frustration Station, will arrive at the proper destination bringing with it my MM card, to enable me to buy some MM to assist with my pain-when-walking and my nausea/loss of appetite.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Medical Update plus Something Completely Different, with Ian Lang.

Radiation therapy course finishes this morning! YAY!!!!
My second 21 days of Ibrance began mid-week after 7 days free of the demon pill. Oddly enough the loss of appetite and nauseous feelings increased during that 7 days off - I was expecting the opposite. I really need to be eating more. I'm oncologistless at present, so I asked one of the senior nurses about the nausea. She very kindly sent a couple of prescriptions to be picked up - 2 different nausea medications specifically for problems caused by chemotherapy and other cancer-related therapies. One of these medications worked a treat on the first trial, not as well the second time - but I'm to take them alternately, and for a particular reason didn't do that initially- better luck next time, I hope.

On the medical marijuana front, I have an appointment at a local MM dispensary late tomorrow afternoon (I managed to get their last appointment - my stars must have been aligned!) I'll see a visiting physician who will (I hope) give me a recommendation letter to send to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, so as to get me an MM Card. That card will enable me to buy product at any dispensary in the state. This appointment will cost me $75, a little cheaper than expected, and because I'm on Medicare the cost of the MM Card will be just $20 (as against $100 for those not on Medicare or Medicaid.) Around 10 days, after sending (online) proof of identity, residence, the recommendation letter, with a digital photograph of myself, and my Medicare card + the dosh, all to the OMMA, I shall hope to be set up to buy something which might help on several fronts.




And now for something completely different....

I'm calling on Ian Lang of Quora to provide a lighter note. As any regular readers will remember, Ian has very kindly given his blanket permission for me to use his writings on my blog. Here's what he had to say - waxing all poetic for a change - in answer to this question.

What do British people think of Boris Johnson as their PM?


Non-British readers will likely need a translation of "soss" : it's short for sausage; and should any readers in the USA be thinking of 'chips' as known in their world (= a bag of crisps in the UK), chips are something akin to steak fries in the United States - certainly not like French fries which are way too skinny for their own good!
So:

What do British people think of Boris Johnson as their PM?

I think unlike John Masefield, I’ll stay away from the sea

And focus all my wishes on soss ’n’ chips for tea.

I think I’d not like to be at work in summer’s hot enthrall-

I think that is much better though, than watching the football.

I think I really can’t be arsed, with who it is in charge;

Johnson, Corbyn, Hunt, Leadsom, or that bloke Farage.

For I think that in some future age, it will be so much fooey.

In five billion years, as well we know, the sun will go kablooey.

And all that we have said and done and all our silly rhymes

Will be vapourised. Including those with lines that don’t suit the rest of the metre and aren’t made into couplets.

I think then, that we should not dwell on our human worries of toss,

Yet cast our minds to glorious times, when there are chips, and soss.

And splendidly, egg as well, if you’re lucky.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Quick Journal Update on the Medical Front After Wednesday's Follow-Up Appointment

After my radiation session yesterday afternoon, we had to take a 40 minute drive to a Cancer Center in a neighbouring city, for "Lab Work" (blood analysis) - in connection to the Ibrance therapy I've followed for the past 21 days. The purpose was to discover whether Ibrance therapy has affected my blood too severely to continue treatment. It has affected white cell count, but that was expected, and in my case it is not a severe enough change to preclude continuation of the "targeted therapy" Ibrance offers. I was given this information, not by my usual oncologist, but by a young doctor who informed us that my oncologist left her position at the end of last week. That was a surprise! He also said that, for a time, our town will not have a visiting oncologist, the previous doctor's replacement will not be "doing" the Cancer Center in our town. Ah well, I suppose that something will be sorted out for us sooner or later.

The young doctor we saw yesterday tried to be helpful in regard to my severe pain-when-walking issue. He suggested that I try a different medication, at least until the radiation and Ibrance effects fully kick in for me. He suggested extended relief morphine tablets, and prescribed a month's supply, one pill twice a day. If there happens to be any "break-through pain" I can still supplement with my usual pain pills - this need is likely to be fairly infrequent. As it turned out, not as infrequent as I'd hoped. I took one morphine pill at 7.30 PM but it had no effect whatsoever on the pain-while-walking. I'm back to the pain pills already. Disappointing! I'll make further enquiries about the morphine tablets tomorrow - perhaps it will take time to get into the system - or perhaps the dose prescribed is too small.

The doctor we saw also advised me as to medical marijuana. He said that, in these circumstances, considering current lack of oncologist, it might be preferable to use the doctor who visits the medical marijuana outlet in our town as my recommending physician. Now I need to look into what'll be needed for that, in addition to an extra payment of $100 for the doctor's fee. The next visit of the speciality doctor to our town's outlet for MM isn't until 8 August.

We shall now await news from the specialist pharmacy in Texas who deal with Ibrance, as to what I'm going to have to co-pay for another 21 days' tablets. I do have a nice 7 days off the demon pills now though, to allow time for my body to re-orient itself a little.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Another Medical Update

Not a lot to report...let's see....

Radiation ongoing, usually for 5 days per week, on chest wall area, it will continue for another 2 weeks. I'm now needing to cover the radiated area with some soothing cream, containing a little lidocaine - expensive at the pharmacy and not covered by Medicare ($45-50 per tube). I was pleasantly surprised when the nurse gave me a tube, paid for by a charitable foundation. A whole pile of the stuff had been provided by the foundation for radiation patients' use.

Walking is still very painful when my weight goes onto left leg; pain pills at maximum dose help a little for a few hours, but do not eliminate pain. Radiologist says that if pain doesn't improve in a few weeks he'll consider more radiation shots, but healing will take time.

Re oral medication: The Ibrance daily doses are coming up to the 21-day cut-off period, when 7 days off it will follow. I have to go to a nearby town for blood test in relation to this on Wednesday, to make sure the medication hasn't adversely affected my blood count, also to establish whether this, very expensive, medication is to continue, and at what cost. A substantial co-pay is going to be needed this time, for sure.

I've been adjusting my blood pressure medications recently, the usual dosage was proving to be too strong, probably due to my loss of weight, and/or as a side effect of the pain pills. To be on the safe side I saw our GP on Thursday, to check that the way I'd adjusted dosage was the best way. It was.

I mentioned to our GP that I'm starting to lose my appetite (again), probably due to the Ibrance meds. I want to put weight on now, not take it off! I asked whether he would recommend that I apply for a medical marijuana license to help with appetite, and perhaps pain also. He offered me a prescription for a medication that is a synthetic version of marijuana, or the parts of the herbal version that are helpful: Marinol (or its generic equivalent). I decided to accept a month's worth - it cost me $135 for 30 tablets. Doctor said that my oncologist would probably feel comfortable to recommend herbal medical marijuana, which could eventually work out cheaper, after the $100 dollars for a license. He prescribed a low dose of the Marinol generic (due to my age. I do NOT want to get dizzy and fall!)It is to be taken at bedtime. Not much to show for it after just three tablets. I'm hoping to see the oncologist on Wednesday, and will ask then about possibility of medical marijuana rather than Marinol. I've read that Marinol can have some nasty side effects that the herbal version does not have.