Wednesday, July 29, 2020

New Blogger Interface is a mess!

  
As you can see, I haven't yet been able to come to grips with the new Blogger interface - will probably sort it out eventually - or not.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Another Update

As far as I know, or have understood to date, these are treatments coming up ASAP. I hope this post will help straighten out my own muddled head - apologies should it turn out to be fairly un-readable, un-inteligible, un-interesting, or any other 'uns' available!

Targeted therapies for liver lesions and progressed bone issues are being organised - will know more about the former in around ten days. No idea as yet, oncologist not very forthcoming - probably has to get the OK from somebody or other.

Targeted therapy for further metastasis to bones will be a bone medication to be given every 3 months, by injection (Xgeva). This I do not relish, but neither do I relish a fracture of spine or rib! Horrendous side effects, including possible damage to jaw bone. Before agreeing to this medication I insisted on seeing my dentist - did so on Tuesday. The docs prefer patients who are about to use this med. to have any necessary dental work done before beginning treatment. So...my lovely dentist put my mind (reasonably) at rest about the jaw issue which I worried about a lot, due to the "clicky" jaw , right-hand side I already have. He also confirmed that there are no tooth issues to deal with. He recommended that I go ahead with the medication, as far as any dental matters are concerned. An appointment now has to be made for the first injection. First appointment has to be at a main Cancer Center, in a bigger town, half an hour's drive away; any injections thereafter will be done in our local Cancer Center.

Then there's an MRI to be done (sedated) tomorrow (Friday 24 July). This is for radiation planning I think, to expand on results in PET scan.

I shall not see either my oncologist or my radiologist until 5 August. Stuff about radiation, and other bone treatment will then be discussed with benefit of MRI results, which they will need. They've agreed that I can have a sedated MRI because I'll not be able to lie flat for an hour in the machine, due to increased back pain. With the knowledge, by 5 August, that I've had my first Xgeva injection, and with the MRI results, the docs should be in a position to plan ahead in more detail. I guess I shall learn about the liver treatment on 5 August too.

Beyond this, all is mystery.

Whinges:
My pain is now considerably worse than it has ever been since this health saga began. Pain pills aren't working as efficiently - or so it seems. I'm suffering from awful nausea, "gagging" and complete loss of appetite, practically living on Boost. Trying to find something in medical marijuana that might help.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

UPDATE

My PET scan a few days ago showed that the disease has progressed, in my bones (spine, legs) and now in my liver. I am not feeling too good currently, so can't write in detail just now. I have various treatments coming up, and hope to write about them later. Many thanks for your support.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Getting the Brush-off

Hardly anyone gets by online these days without being "phished" by scammers. A growing number of online shoppers are now being hit by another, newer, scam: "brushing". This one works in connection with Amazon. It's not a brand new scam, possibly around 3 years old in fact, but an increased amount shopping online recently might have encouraged more of this type of scamming.

I was hit by, what I now know is, the brushing scam on Friday. A big box, from Amazon, lay on our porch, along with a couple of smaller packages which I was expecting. Maybe this is something I've forgotten about, pre-ordered, or whatever, thought I. Inside the box were two humidifiers.

"Did you order two humidifiers in my name?" I yelled to husband.

"No - why would I? We bought some in Walmart a few months ago."

Hmmm.

Eventually, after considering various possibilities, I Googled a relevant question, then all became clear. There's much online about the scam of "brushing". Here are a few lines from one (linked) article explaining how it works - with Amazon.com:

Free box-loads of merchandise from Amazon right on your doorstep! What could possibly be bad about getting the Santa treatment all year long? Plenty! Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers that there is a scary downside to this recent scam. You are not the one who hit the jackpot. A scam company is the real winner.

This scam is known as brushing, and it has been popping up all over the country. Suddenly boxes of unordered (by the recipient) merchandise from Amazon begin arriving. There is no return address except that of Amazon. The receiver has no idea who ordered the items. They are varied. For example, in one case a humidifier, a hand warmer, a flashlight, a Bluetooth speaker and a computer vacuum cleaner arrived unordered.

Why would such merchandise be sent to you if you didn’t request it? The companies, usually foreign, third-party sellers that are sending the items are simply using your address and your Amazon information. Their intention is to make it appear as though you wrote a glowing online review of their merchandise, and that you are a verified buyer of that merchandise. They then post a fake, positive review to improve their products’ ratings, which means more sales for them. The payoff is highly profitable from their perspective.

Why it’s bad news for you..........
(read on at the link above)
I've taken advice given: notified Amazon's Customer Service, by e-mail, changed my password at Amazon, and elsewhere. I have not been charged for the humidifiers (yet!) We'll see what, if anything, happens next. I sincerely hope this will be a one-off brush-off for me. According to others reporting online, though, the scam can go on for weeks and months, with regular deliveries of scammed Amazon parcels.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Re 4 July

I'm not even going to wish the USA "Happy Birthday" this year on 4 July 2020, as I've done on this blog in most of the previous 16 years I've lived here, especially in those years after becoming a US citizen - 2008.

This is a vast, varied, very beautiful country, with potentiality to be a powerful force for good in the world. From time to time, over centuries and decades, it has managed to be just that. Right now, though, due mainly to the man who became president in 2016, the country's reputation has nosedived to a place between laughing stock and heartless would-be master of the world with a highly incompetent leader. "Incompetent", though, is too mild a word on its own, to get a clearer description, Google synonyms of the term - they all (and more) apply.

I do not understand why, somehow, the leaders and members of the Republican Party could not have rid the country of this man as a leader months ago? There have to be ways and means. He is doing the party's reputation no good, but its leaders seem afraid to take steps in that direction. "Home of the brave" they said? Hmmm!

There is, and has been for many decades, a dreadful level of racism here in the USA. There is also deep general inequality - not only among the African American communities, but also among the population as a whole, whatever their skin-shade or ethnicity. Until THIS area of general inequality of opportunity is adjusted nothing else will change in any concrete fashion. If this inequality were to be adjusted, and in an appreciable way - then all kinds of change could follow smoothly, it'd be a natural progression.

On a different topic - I managed to get my PET scan done on 30 June, 8 am, without too much difficulty, after days of anxiety bringing on nausea and even more loss of appetite than normal. I wasn't sure I'd be able to lie flat on a hard surface for 20 minutes during the scan, due to the joint and muscle pain I experience (side effects) - but I did, with the help of an extra pain pill. Now I must wait until my appointment with the doc. on 15 July for results. I guess there'll be something to deal with, but shall try not to let anxiety get the better of me, at least not for a few days!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Vote Him Away

For anyone who hasn't yet seen/heard this one - do take a listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkU1ob_lHCw

"Vote Him Away - The Liar Tweets Tonight"

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Observations

No medical news to speak of - my PET scan is scheduled for 30 June - not looking forward to it! In order to establish that I've not yet shuffled off, and to keep my blog alive too, here's something to which the husband (anyjazz) drew my attention recently. The late George Carlin was a superb wordsmith, this is a good example of his skills and insights.

SOMETHING TO PONDER:
Observations by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.
George Carlin

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Not Many Words of Mine, but some From a Young Anyjazz

Recent goings on in the USA, and actions by the President of same leave me with no words fit to print on a family-style blog. My best wish would be for the President to be removed by some means or other (25th amendment to the Constitution?) It appears that is not likely to happen. Yes, there's an election coming in November, when We The People could remove Donald Trump from office, but as things are going it would not surprise me at all if that election were to be postponed - or cancelled.

Sigh.

I found, among my notes, this piece written long ago by my husband, known online as anyjazz (he's now aged 83). It illustrates his early experience of the wretched racial hatred which, as we have recently sadly seen, lives on still among some groups, in some areas of the USA.

Here's his piece:


Breakfast with Joe Williams


Back in the late [19]fifties, my old friend “Z” [Zee] and I took our girlfriends to see Count Basie. I didn’t own a car but “Z” borrowed his dad’s new Cadillac for the evening and we were in top style. I think we impressed our girlfriends.


It was a dance/concert sort of event. Basie’s big band had a couple of current hits right in the middle of the era of Bill Haley and the comets, Richie Valens, Elvis Presley and Fabian sensations. Basie’s band had charted well with a lovely recording of “April in Paris” which would earn them a Grammy. Joe Williams, Basie’s vocalist at the time, had a hit with “Every Day I Have the Blues.” So, an evening with Count Basie was a big deal. Really. A really memorable three or four hours.


The first number was “All Of Me” designed to make everybody pay attention. Anyone who has heard the Basie arrangement of the number will know what I mean.


When Joe Williams sang his first number he looked uncomfortable. He looked frightened to me. Maybe it was just me. Well it was the first time I had ever been to a concert where there were uniformed police wandering around in the crowd.


After the concert, we stood around on stage chatting with the band members as they packed up. “Z” handed his bottle of W L Weller to trombonist Al Grey for inspection. Al looked at the dregs and then at “Z” for approval. “Z” said “Aw, kill it. It’s not enough to haul home anyway.”


Basie and Freddie Greene had left in a limo and the rest of the band members were loading onto the band bus. Somehow, Al Grey and Joe Newman got left behind and we gave them a ride downtown to the Lassen Hotel in the Caddy.


Later we all crowded into the Lassen Hotel diner for breakfast. It was about two in the morning.

We all found stools at the counter. I sat between Joe Williams and Joe Newman. Now, it might be necessary for a reminder here; this was in Kansas in the late fifties. The diner staff was not too comfortable with serving several black musicians, famous or not.


Joe Williams ordered two eggs over easy. In a few minutes, the waitress came with his plate. The eggs were raw. He looked at the plate and then at the waitress.


“He can’t eat those, they’re raw!” I blurted without thinking. The waitress nodded and took the plate back. (I think she agreed.) She returned with a fresh plate, cooked right. Joe looked at me and said “Thank you.”


It was years later that I figured out what had happened. It was not my first lesson in bigotry but somehow that night I think I learned a bit of just how awful it was. I was sitting there between two fabulous black musicians and I was in star struck. Others in the same room were not impressed, in fact they were disgusted. If my famous black friend had complained, he would simply have been refused service and ejected.


Later that morning, we bid the tired musicians goodnight and safe journeys and we headed for home.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Memorial Weekend


I'm now an American citizen, but not American by birth. I do owe a debt of gratitude to  American servicemen and women who, during my early childhood during World War 2, came to the aid of Britain. Many fell in action, and the majority of those who were fortunate enough to return home will by now have passed on. Without the assistance of those Americans to our own brave military men and women in those dark and terrible days, it's hard to know how my beloved native Britain could have survived.

"Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them."
– Franklin D. Roosevelt




Nothing of interest on the medical front right now. My next appointments will be in early July: a PET scan, with doctor follow-ups a week later. I am, therefore, trying to enjoy these "free" weeks as much as possible - it's a 'smiling under lockdown' kind of thing. :)

Monday, May 04, 2020

Quick Update

The trip to Cancer Center in Lawton OK went quite well - scheduled for 2.15 and we were home before 4 o'clock. Boiling hot day here - car registered 97 degrees on the way there and 100 to 104 degrees on the way back!

The few elderly patients awaiting appointments were well-scattered in a large waiting room. All nurses and receptionists wore masks (as did we). Our temperatures were taken before entering, surprisingly, my husband was allowed in with me. I suspect this might be because we are not exactly "local", not regulars at that particular Center.

Blood test came first, then, after the usual blood pressure check, weigh-in, and questions about pain etc by a nurse,  we had a short wait to see the oncologist.

I didn't realise until we were back in the car, ready to leave, that the doc didn't mention blood test results, and I hadn't remembered to ask about them, so things must be alright on that score. I answered the usual questions on how things had been since my last appointment, then a chest and shoulder examination, along with (in relation to my joint and muscle pain) tests of my grip and joint strengths. All appeared as well as might be expected. Doc did ask if I'd like to change the estrogen-blocker medication, suspected of causing the joint pains.  I decided to leave as is, as the alternative was the first medication I took after my original breast cancer diagnosis, which seems like aeons ago now. That medication really didn't suit at all - side effect-wise.

PET scans have not been available for some time due to covid-19. Doc will check when these are expected to be possible again. At my request he quickly agreed that I should schedule a scan during the days before my next appointment with him, in order that a long period of awaiting the result would not cause me weeks of anxiety. I told him candidly about my current feelings. I'd like whatever time I have left to be as anxiety free as possible, to better enjoy what I can of it. I explained that, should there be more trouble discovered by a scan, I doubt that I could stand more surgery or stronger chemo at this stage. He was understanding and kindly. He said that he, as a doctor must always listen to his patients' own needs and feelings.

I shall await hearing from our local Cancer Center as to the date of my next appointment with the oncologist, and regarding schedule of a PET scan earlier that same week or so.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Still Shut-in

I've no medical, or other, news to speak (or rather type)of. We're still shut-in. I do have a follow-up appointment with the oncologist on 4 May, this has to be in the main hospital of our group, it's in a big town some 30 minutes away. Apparently it's necessary for me to attend there once a year - something to do with billing, I think, it flippin' would have to be right now! It's mainly for blood work to check that all is still well. My original appointment was cancelled due to Covid-19. I'm not too happy about visiting the bigger town, things being as they are, Covid-19 wise. Our governor has allowed certain stores to re-open, even though there has been virtually no testing, so you never know who's wandering around infected without knowing it, and passing the virus on. We'll hope for the best. Husband will probably need to wait outside in the car. I'm told that they are being extra vigilant at the Cancer Center there - I should jolly well hope so!

A friend in the UK sent me this link, which I enjoyed - hope others might like it too:

Quarantine Through Art

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Virus-riding

In the State of Oklahoma's neck of the virus-laden woods the numbers have moved on, at time of typing, to 1,868 positive cases of COVID-19, with 94 deaths. Peak numbers are estimated to arrive, for us, around 21st of April. We have no state-wide shut-in order, the order applies only to seniors and people with underlying health issues - we both fit on both counts.

We remain, therefore, shut-in. We're not finding the experience too demanding and, in all honesty it's not terribly different from the way our our life was immediately before this flippin' virus arrived on the scene. The fact that it's no longer wise for us to go shopping together for food, means that I can't pick my own treats, something I miss. We have options of using an Instacart delivery service from the supermarket, or of using the very early morning, non-Walmart 7 a.m. "seniors only" shopping hour, or 6 am at Walmart on Tuesdays only. Husband tried the 7 a.m. option last Sunday. We can also ask a relative to help out with shopping, leaving items on the front porch. This we did for a couple of items which had proved unavailable on Sunday morn. We are trying to ration items which are likely to become harder to obtain as time goes by, and use pasta, rice and beans-based stuff more often than usual.

I watch MSNBC daily, after many years of avoiding it like the plague - the plague has now sent me there for information! President Trump grows more dangerous day by day. I ask myself, and Himself, why cannot the monster be gotten rid of under Amendment 25 of the Constitution - surely some clever lawyer could do SOMETHING! The guy is unfit in so many ways it's (swearword) unbelievable that somebody cannot do something about it.

Below are a couple of links I saved early on in this peculiar span of virus-ridden time:

Tips from someone with 50 years of social distancing experience


Coronavirus: Stephen Fry's take on managing anxiety
Stay safe y'all!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Virus Tide

At the time of typing Oklahoma has 565 positive cases of COVID-19, and 23 deaths recorded. (24 hours later numbers are 719 and 30 deaths) On Saturday 4 April: 1,159 confirmed positive; 42 deaths. Little testing has been done in the region and one expert has estimated that 500+ is realistically 5,000+. Oklahoma Governor has ordered the over 65s, and others vulnerable due to health-related issues, to stay at home until 30 April, going out for truly essential reasons only. So far there is no state-wide "lock-down".

I chose to cancel the PET scan I had listed for today (31 March). I felt, after much consideration and for a few reasons, that it was the safest and best thing to do. I shall keep my appointment at the Cancer Center on Friday for a blood test to check blood count has not dipped too low for me to carry on taking the necessary meds. I shall see the oncologist then, if he's available - nothing is certain now that the virus high-tide is approaching us.

In other news: our little Redbud trees are blooming, helping to cheer us - I remember, last spring, wondering whether I would be around to see them bloom again - and I am! Glory be!



"If the future seems overwhelming, remember that it comes one moment at a time."
(Beth Mende Conny)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Trying to Triage

I haven't often had reason to use the word 'triage' in everyday speech or writing, but this morning I realised that it's time to triage my several worries and anxieties.

What do I worry about first?

Is it a further spread of my cancer? Or catching - and due to compromised immune system - probably dying from, coronavirus? Or dealing with painful side effects from my medications? Or anger and disappointment at the way the US presidential election 2020 is shaping up.....etc.etc.etc.

I've been kind of self-isolating against common and garden 'flu since before Christmas 2019, so I'm used to that - it has to be the best way for me to avoid picking up this nasty new bug. I'm doing the long-playing hand-wash routine now, too. Worrying will not help, being mindful of risks might. Avoidance is, at least, possible in this case.

I'm doing everything I can to avoid a further spread of my cancer (breast/bone) by regularly taking the medications prescribed. I have, by my own choice, postponed until late this month a PET scan required to monitor my internal situation in detail. I've felt the need for some breathing space, to enjoy, without anxiety, a little more "free" time, as well as allowing more time for painful joint and muscle side effects to, perhaps, decrease to enable me to do the test more successfully. I do worry, of course, but I tell myself that, at 81, I'd be facing the big shuffle off anyway, after an eventful but very good lifetime, for which I am truly thankful.

The results of the November 2020 presidential election will be unlikely to affect me personally much, if at all, but it still depresses me that the one golden chance the people of the USA had to get a president who really and truly cares for ordinary people and their needs, is likely to have been trashed this year by Democrat bosses - corporatists, and conservative in all but title.

Bernie Sanders is a hero for continuing to fight for us - it'll be a generation or more before there's another chance such as that which has been on offer this time around. The Democrats don't want Bernie, never have, never will - he represents policies which would adversely affect their wealth and privileges. They have used every trick in the book (and more) to depress results in his favour. I've been watching more political stuff on TV lately than I have for many years - it's just so obvious what's going on. Media manipulation is, indeed, "a thing"!

As for the most likely Democrat presidential candidate - I don't dislike Joe Biden, but his age is showing, far more than is the case for Bernie Sanders. Bernie has been tearing around the country campaigning like a man half his age. Biden has done little, and when he does manage to make a bit of a speech it's weak and unimpressive. I will not use the word 'dementia', as many have in regard to Biden's speech, but I do believe that it's too late for him to make a good president. His time came some 10 to 15 years ago, when he did have charisma and a certain presidential look and sound about him. See my first blog post on Joe Biden, in 2007, here - a very different take from the one I have today. Bear in mind that, in 2007 I was still fairly wet behind the ears with regard to politics in the USA!
https://twilightstarsong.blogspot.com/2007/11/joe-biden.html
Biden is obviously, now, in the pocket of the oligarchs and Dem establishment. Considering his age, and the serious universal health issues which have lately arisen, I suspect that all will not proceed exactly as planned in November. This isn't as much of a worry to me as the rest of it, but it's something of which I'd dearly love to see the outcome...if other issues allow.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

UPDATE

First, I apologise for not visiting my usual blogs and Quora recently - I'm avoiding the computer as much as possible in favour of sitting in front of the TV listening to talk of elections and pandemics - not a good swap, by the way!

On the medical front - I saw my oncologist yesterday to explain the reasons that I'd felt I must cancel the PET scan he had ordered for 18 February. He was sympathetic, and understanding of my fear of being charged a large sum if I had attended for the scan and been unable to carry it out, fully or at all. His suggestion was that I re-book a scan and, to help with the pain in my shoulder and side, take a double dose of my pain pills before attending. He told me that, though in some hospitals when a patient has difficulty managing the scan, some type of "knock-out" med or anesthesia can be given, but this is not so in our hospital. So...I intend do a trial run at home. I shall take a double dose of pain meds, once they've taken effect I'll lie on my back, a hard floor for a while, to decide if the extra pills will be the answer to my discomfort problem with the scan procedure. I shall hope that I'm able get up from the floor afterwards!

A nurse made enquiries for me on the question of being charged many thousands of dollars for the scan if unable to carry it out in full, due to pain. She was told that there would be a charge, based on how much imaging had been possible in the time a patient could manage to remain in place. There might also be a charge for the special liquid one has to drink, concocted in specially personalised formula for each patient - that cost would be in the region of $175 - and definitely charged if the patient did not attend and did not cancel within 24 hours. None of that made me feel too confident!

I asked the doc. if I could wait for a couple of weeks or so before trying to do a scan, he agreed to this. It seems likely the appointment will be in late March, with an appointment to see the doc. again a couple of days later. I'm hoping that laying off the knitting for a while
longer, and avoiding much time on the computer might further improve the side and shoulder pain before scan time - always supposing that I'm not still lying on the kitchen floor trying to get up from a trial run!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Disconsolate

Just a quick update - as much for my own record as for any stray reader passing by.

Side effects from either Ibrance or Anastrozole have been causing more problems than usual of late.
Arthritis-like joint pains in fingers which I was managing reasonably well, have spread to my right shoulder and side- so much so that knitting is now unwise, and using the computer mouse with right hand also a no-no. I can manage small amount on the computer with mouse in my left hand - but it's a bit of a fumble.

I had an appointment for a PET scan this coming Tuesday (18 Feb), waited until Friday hoping that the pain might ease off after doing no knitting for several days, and hardly any computer time - but no, and pain pills do hardly anything to help, nor does medical marijuana. The problem with my femur, however, does seem improved - it looks as though to get the effect needed from the medications, I must bear the side effects. It might also be that the pressure I've been putting on my right arm and shoulder, using the quad cane for so long, has contributed to this right shoulder/side issue. :-(

Regarding the PET scan - there is no way, with my shoulder as it is, that I could lie on a hard board for 20 to 25 minutes without moving a muscle. I made enquiries of various local medical staffs. It's difficult to speak to the the people mainly involved as the PET scan people are in town only on Tuesdays, and my oncologist only on Wednesdays. It was not possible for me to speak to either. I had been told, and pretty forcefully, that if PET scan appointments are not taken up, and not cancelled, the patient would be charged. YIKES! It's flippin' expensive! Nobody was able to tell me whether, if I turned up on Tuesday at 8.30 am and was unable to "do" the scan, whether I would be charged. By this time, after many phone calls to different places, with no helpful information, I decided the best thing would be to cancel the appointment. I confirmed that I shall keep (what was to be) the follow-up appointment with oncologist on 26th Feb, as planned. Perhaps he will be able to suggest some way of dealing with my problem and I can re-schedule the scan. They were unable to find an earlier appointment for me to see the oncologist so...I shall wait. I'm limited to reading, or more likely napping in front of the TV, upon which I've become quite the expert.

Monday, February 10, 2020

An unfinished story...

Several years ago, on this blog, I wrote about the movie "Cloud Atlas" (it was in 2013 - link to relevant post and comments: https://twilightstarsong.blogspot.com/2013/05/cloud-atlas.html)


In a comment responding to "LB", I wrote:
I love the general idea of a soul or some manner of eternal personality travelling through time... Husband and I, back in 2003/4, in England, began trying to dream up (me) and write (him) a story along such lines, using around 3 or 4 sets of situations, spread from medieval times to the years of World War II. The link, through time, would be a piece of fabric. Husband wrote a super preface to the first chapter, I did keep it, but at the moment cannot lay hands on it. Other things, such as marriage and house selling and moving to the USA got in the way of continuing that venture. I often still ponder on how such a set of tales could unfold and link up though. :-) That was one reason I was so keen to see "Cloud Atlas".


Well, just today, while tidying some papers, I came across that preface, and more! Here it is - my husband aka "anyjazz" wrote it from an idea I put forward. He said that he felt a need to make some explanation as to why the piece of fabric was so cryptic, and powerful. He's a much better creative writer than me.  We  decided to share: ideas from me, writing from himself. I love this preface. There are also some outlines of rough ideas of how the tale should unfold, but I'll keep those for another day, if anyone is interested. For now.... the preface only:  are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Once upon a time....


"Preface:

A crescent moon and a single candle spread yellow light across a small room. An ancient woman works at a loom. She works slowly with great purpose, grand design. Her fingers pull the yarn tight, knot it here, counting the cross threads, another knot there. The woman pauses, wipes the corners of her eyes. A candle and a crescent moon are little help to her near blindness. She weaves and counts by touch. She creates to the image in her mind, an image formed of seasons of watching the stars, the changing patterns of her skies.


Over years she has collected life about her. Over these years she collected the sound of the squirrel in the fresh air from the forest, the scent of the wildflowers on their spread down the side of the hill and honeybees on the breeze from the valley, the touch of the rich earth and the polished stones on the path from the hills, the taste of the spring water and wild herb. All these pieces of life she knows. All these things are in the knots and the curious weave of the strip of fabric she is creating. And something else. She pauses and smiles at the crescent moon that is now only a glow in her dimming eyes. She smiles at the stars she can no longer see but knows in her heart are there. She is following their instructions. She and the stars are creative partners in this soft band of fabric.


The flax was gathered on a late summer day. It was years ago. The linen yarn was spun slowly on evenings after the children were bathed and sleeping. The skeins of yarn were dyed in iron cauldrons of color from the wild berries from the hills and from curious red-brown earth left when a fiery stone fell from the heavens. The woman ground these colors in stone cups, blending each with care. The wild bushes and sapling trees at the edge of the small forest held the drying loops of yarn. The sun contributed subtle changes to the colors here and there.


Now after years of preparation, the last thread, the last weave, the last knot was in place. It is a lovely band of textured fabric, a unique scarf fit for royalty. The labor of her life was complete. Complete that is, except for the delivery. The creation is not for her. It never has been. She has known for a long time where the small scarf will go. She has known the color of the container, the place in the stars, the position of the sun. Exactly. And it is tomorrow.


The sun now glows above the trees at the edge of the great lawn in the front of the estate. A pale green and gold trimmed carriage waits at steps. The driver sits atop, holding the reins of a patient horse. Last night’s sleep is still in his eyes. A footman stands ready at the top step of the front landing. Behind him the carriage door stands open.


A small figure emerges from the trimmed shrubbery, approaches the carriage quietly and places something on the seat just inside the open door. Then as quickly, the figure is gone."

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Just a few lines....

I'm short of any particularly interesting news but feel I should write a few lines, if only to keep the blog off intensive care or, eventually, from flatlining. :)

I saw the oncologist yesterday - he was "running late". We waited well over an hour after a blood-letting and the usual check on vital signs by a nurse. Nothing to read other than signs on the wall about prostate cancer, lung cancer and such like.

Anyway, it seems my blood count is reasonable, low in places but no lower than expected, and not low enough to cause more time off the Ibrance or other meds. I reported to the doctor that, lately, I've been suffering arthritis-type pains in all my finger joints, and in my shoulders and elbows. I assume it is a side effect from either Ibrance or the estrogen blocker Anastrozole. He agreed, and said if it gets bad enough that I can no longer grip properly, we'll have to do something about it. Hmmm. I'd rather hoped for more, but as I can still manage to knit and type and do most things, other than opening bottles and cans, if a little more painfully than usual, I must grin (cynically) and bear it.

On the positive side, round about the same time as those new joint pains arrived, my left femur problem has seemed to lessen somewhat. I surmise that the medications have taken this amount of time to do anything noticeable enough for me to actually feel. They could have reached deep enough in my system for other, stronger side effects to emerge, along with any positive hoped for effects. Side effects so far have been some hair thinning and appetite suppression, with loss of weight (also partially caused by the lyphacitic colitis I also had diagnosed in the midst of everything else).

Anyway, my next appointment with the oncologist is at the end of February, with another CT scan to be arranged shortly before that. The doctor wants to make sure that nothing has changed in the 3 months since the last CT scan. More anxiety about results await, but I'll have a few weeks' grace before I need to worry, so I shall try to push it out of my mind.


Monday, January 20, 2020

A Few Favourite (and Other) Things

An old friend of mine from our days in junior school in East Yorkshire - she now lives in the South of England, occasionally sends me fun stuff via her i-pad. By the way, her birthday is one week after my own (same year), that's probably how we came to be seated next to one another in school, but we became fast friends. Friendship continued even when we left junior school to continue our education - she to art school in Hull, me to grammar school in Bridlington. Anyway, here's her latest...LOL!

To commemorate her birthday, actress/vocalist, Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall. One of the musical numbers she performed was 'My Favourite Things' from the legendary movie 'Sound Of Music'. Here are the lyrics she used: (If you sing it, it's especially good, I was told.)


Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,

Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,

Bundles of magazines tied up in string,

These are a few of my favourite things.



Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,

Polydent and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,

Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,

These are a few of my favourite things.



When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,

When the knees go bad,

I simply remember my favourite things,

And then I don't feel so bad.



Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,

No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,

Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,

These are a few of my favourite things.



Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinning',

Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinning',

And we won't mention our short-shrunken frames,

When we remember our favourite things.



When the joints ache, When the hips break,

When the eyes grow dim,

Then I remember the great life I've had,

And then I don't feel so bad.




Well I (or the husband) haven't tried Botox or golf carts but I have several pairs of "needles for knitting" now, thanks to encouragement from my good on-line friend Wisewebwoman. Below is something I've just cast off and sewed together. It's an easy-knit kimono from a pattern I found online (see here). I made it a bit longer than the pattern stated, but it turned out even longer than I'd expected, possibly because I used a slightly different yarn for cheapness. It was a test run really and the only yarn and colour I could find at a cheaper price, is not unlike the colour of the shawl I knitted a few weeks ago. Maybe I'll splurge on some different yarn and colour, now that I know how it goes, and do another one.

Husband (anyjazz) took these on our front porch an hour or so ago.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Whinges and Other Stuff

Time for a wee whinge! Why is it that when a new, updated, version of something arrives, although it might look slick and shiny it's never quite as handy as the older version? We used to find this phenomenon at work, many years ago when our computer programs were updated - by them as knew what they were doing - allegedly. We used to complain "Why don't they come and see how we use the flippin' system before they go and reinvent the darn thing?" I've had two experiences of a similar phenomenon this week.

Our new washing machine was installed, much the same as the old one, but now it's all electronic rather than, "mechanical" (as described to us by the sales person). I did a load of laundry straight away. Knobs and settings are similar to before. As the machine did its biz I returned to the computer, expecting to hear a familiar alarm buzzer telling me when the job was done, and ready to transfer the washing to the dryer. Nothing! Had I forgotten to adjust a setting? Research online turned up that there is no buzzer on this model to signal the end of the cycle. TSK! What a flippin' nuisance. That is something I'd have thought would be standard. It's easy to forget that the washer is washing when it doesn't make a lot of noise, easy to forget all about the wet stuff. Ah well, I got out a little alarm clock - next time I used the washer I set it for 45 or so minutes ahead. Anyway, black mark awarded to Maytag - this is not up to their usual standard of excellence. More of what's becoming known as "crapification".

Another instance of crapification: my replacement basic astrology software, to becompatible with Windows 10 has similarly frustrating omissions, especially when trying to re-size a chart to post on my blog. It used to be so easy! Now it ain't, this is the same brand, but it ain't nearly as good, nor as clear due to some pale colours which almost disappear on the screen. Alos, it's no longer possible to choose one's own colours. I don't blog on astrology very often these days, so it doesn't matter much, but it's still annoying.

I was going to do a quick astro-job on author Catherine Cookson's natal chart, after we had watched a TV dramatised version (streamed on Amazon Prime) of her novel "The Black Velvet Gown". I enjoyed the story - although it is very similar in style to many (or all) of her other novels read in my younger years. 'Nuf to say, regarding her astrology, that Ms Cookson had Sun, Mercury, Mars, and Neptune in Cancer, which made her a definite Cancer-type person - sensitive, empathetic and nurturing; this definitely comes out in her novels. She also had planets in Leo (limelight) and Gemini (communication), with natal Moon probably in Virgo (practical, organised) - but her time of birth isn't known, so can't be sure.

On the medical front - nothing to report, all remains much as was - except that it appears something has changed in rules regarding prescriptions for some pain killing medicines. Last year it was necessary to obtain a paper prescription, signed in ink by the prescribing doctor, the paper to be taken to the pharmacy in person - fax and email not allowed. It now appears that faxing these prescriptions to pharmacies is allowed once more. Less journeys to the hospital to collect prescriptions - that's good!

As regards my new (or re-found) knitting hobby, I've just finished a V-shaped shawl. It was supposed to look something like:






It turned out to be somewhat bigger than expected, though my yarn and needles were as prescribed by pattern and my natural knitting tension isn't exceptionally loose. LOL! It looks exactly like something that Riah, main character of "The Black Velvet Gown" was wearing in the north of England in 1830 something. The women wore a lot of shawls back then - or at least the costume department thinks they did. The lovely colour and subtle sheen of the knitted shawl doesn't show here - lighting not too good.


Saturday, January 04, 2020

NEWNESS

2020 has begun, for me, with a variety of new stuff. Even as I prepared this post there came a new word to add to my vocabulary. I had to look up this word from the quote on the right: Evanescent definition: vanishing, fading, fleeting. Also new for me this New Year: a new(ish) computer with new operating system, as mentioned in earlier posts. Another newcomer will be a new washing machine, delivered next week. We were reliably (I trust) told that the issue which caused our washer to stop in mid cycle, a few days ago, is not repairable - the major mechanical part involved in the breakdown of our 15-year old machine is no longer manufactured by Maytag. So, off we had to go to the Maytag store to order the 2020 version of our old washer.



What else is new for me, this New Year? A new piece of knitting - a shawl knitted in 'V' shape, up one side and down the other in some pretty but slightly awkward yarn called Homespun, I chose a colour called Tourmaline (a rich dark blue-green) . The photo comes from the online free pattern.






Also, on the knitting front, I forced myself to finish the disliked work of joining together multiple 8" squares I'd knitted during the weeks before Christmas, while playing with a bunch of colours, mixing and matching. It's not big enough for a blanket but will provide a warm throwover for the knees, or a colourful piece to "pop" - somewhere in the bedroom when Okie weather returns once again to sweaty heat.



Astrologically, there's something new too. Pluto and Saturn, planets which I believe have been bugging me for the past 2 years health-wise, moving to-and-fro opposite my ascendant and close to natal Mercury, are at last moving forward. They will soon be out of range (I hope!) It has been uncanny and at times unnerving to note how health-related stuff coincided with the movement of these two planets. Pluto and Saturn have, from time immemorial, been known to have a few unpleasantnesses to dole out when transiting close to personal planets in the natal chart. My own experiences include diagnosis of breast cancer leading to lumpectomy, mastectomy, excision mastectomy, radiation. For the metastatic bone cancer in femur and hip: local procedures and radiation; not to mention a variety of medications - not particularly nasty in themselves, but with nasty side-effects such as joint pain, nausea, hair thinning (not all lost - yet!) Lymphatic colitis emerged in the midst of all this, and led to colonoscopy and various remedies. It does often turn out that the unpleasantness experienced when these planets visit was a necessary development - something which needed to happen in order for the native to move on. Hmmm! It's a great pity that the effects of those two planets' transits are not more... erm.... evanescent!