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!