Die, B cells, and Let Me Knit

What can I say?  A lot is happening, and I have to steal moments for blogging.  I have to try organizing this so I won’t miss anything.

House:  I am meeting with realtor today.  She will take photographs, get my signature on a sales agreement, and start selling.  I will take a deep breath and prepare for my house to be invaded by potential buyers at odd hours.  I have worked and worked and there’s so much more to attack:  the garage and rec room are crying out for attention.  I’ve already hauled a carload of stuff to the Samaritan Center, and I’m loading the car again.  How many strings of Christmas lights can one family use?  By the way, if you want a 3,000+ square foot, four bedroom, three full bath house in Ooltewah, priced to sell, by all means drop me a comment.  I’m one exit away from the new Volkswagen plant.  Buy my house!

Knitting:  I have taken the chocolate-coloured Knitpicks Cotlin given to me by a knitting group buddy and produced half of a gorgeous, mistake-rib wrap.  The other half is Noro’s beautiful summer yarn, Cotton Hill, 60% cotton/14% silk/14% kid mohair/12% wool, in bright turquoise with various accents.  This turquoise/deep brown combo is everywhere this spring, and I’m nuts about it.  I also love the juxtaposition of smooth cotton/linen with the slubby, highly textured boucle.  I am operating more on instinct these days, rather than stopping to wonder if you’d find this combo in jjill or Chico’s.  Over time, the look of my store is going to change, because my natural inclination is to more mixing of fibers and wildness of design than I’ve let myself try.  I’ve decided to just relax and create, stop overthinking it. 



Health:  Ha.  Ha.  Finished my chemo cycle yesterday.  Met my favorite fellow patient so far.  I had a lovely time getting to know her and her husband, and for once we exchanged info so that we can stay in touch.  My kind of person, totally.  I hurt in various places, and the sorting and carrying and distributing is killing me.  I can’t wait to start having some results from this round of therapy.  Enough of that.  And the night sweats!  Enough.  I said enough.  Die, B cells, die!

Reading:  From now on, my daughter will pick out all my reading materials.  I’ve just finished three books that she chose, and every one was a great read.  I am the Messenger was the last one, The Redbreast before that.  Dayna finds excellent foreign authors.  I wish I had her eye for books. 

Miscellaneous:  I have a fellow EtsyKnitters street team member who lives in east Tennessee.  She is the mother of seven talented kids, and her household is alive with crafting and fiber arts.  I added her blog to my list today-enjoy:  http://mysevenkids.blogspot.com/.



the war escalates

i hit the wall today.  no caps because my fingers are stiff and sore and it takes extra reach and force to hold down the shift key.  my wrists, shoulders, elbows, ribs, hips, knees and feet also hurt.  my cheeks are red and hot to the touch.  my feet are so stiff that i have to grab for support when i first stand.  yesterday i could feel the heay artillery of the b cells really pushing me, and i increased my prednisone.  doubled the steroids, in fact, from 7.5 to 15 milligrams per day.  it’s not a big dose, but is a relatively large increase.  today started rough and stayed rough.  can’t tell the steroids have done their work. 

this makes a weird dilemma.  i can either ride this period out with increased steroids-much more than i’m taking today- for the time until my treatment next month, or i can request earlier treatment.  my rheumatologist isn’t thrilled with every four months, and probably won’t like making it sooner.  the oncologist, however, told me i should be treated when i needed it, and i think i’m the definition of “needing it” right now.  hmmmm.

i don’t want more steroids for five minutes, much less three or four weeks.  guess i’ll make the rounds and see what the docs say and if they can agree.  i hate making the rounds when i’m sick.  doctor visits are so much easier when you’re well. 

i’m temporarily putting down my other projects, including the recycled cotton fingerless mitts i started yesterday.  i’m making easy crocheted chemo caps so i will have goodies for the unit when i do go for treatment.  i hate to go to a party empty-handed. 

this evening i had dinner at a newish thai restaurant named ‘rain’.  the green curry was so lovely i wanted to take a swim in the bowl.  it had veggies which included frozen peas and carrots, and wonderful tofu that was perfectly fried.  i didn’t mind the frozen veggies.  the cute little diced carrots took me back to my childhood.  i could probably use a supply of them right now; slicing and dicing isn’t going to be easy with these hands. 

dinner was a send-off for my niece, who is moving to chicago so i have a good city to visit.  yes, it’s all about me.  actually, she is moving to solidify a relationship and enhance an incredibly well-rounded life.  i admire the versatility and foresight of people who embrace a variety of roles and trainings, and work so that one overlaps another and another and they all interact.  if it’s not too hectic and far-flung, it must be very fulfilling.  i’ve never felt that i was a unidirectional, narrowly defined person with a single, immutable focus. 

after dinner i had to pass the mall to get home, so i stopped to purchase elastic thread to use in the occasional knitted piece.  the store was closed.  i returned to my car and drove to the next craft store.  i borrowed a handicapped parking space, trudged to the door and through a million other craft areas to the back of the store.  no elastic thread.  i was frustrated by the difficulty of the task, the energy drain and pain from walks that would ordinarily have been easy. 

at home now, i lack the drive to clear off my bed.  i’ll sleep with a pile of paperwork, a knitting bag, my computer and a stuffed animal on my bed.  not that it matters.  that side of the bed has no inhabitant.  might as well make good storage space.

i’ve got good books and lots of yarn.  i think i’ll need them for the next little bit.


Post-Turkey Dancing

I haven’t written here in days.  One reason was Thanksgiving.  I did the cooking for my household (my daughter and me) and the two guests we invited.  I concentrated on the things that the four of us eat:  turkey, rice, sweet potato casserole, creamed corn, and pumpkin muffins.  Oh yeah, almost forgot the ice cream.  My daughter contributed the broccoli casserole that her grandmother made her.  That was a manageable menu for me.  My only miscalculation was the turkey.  I bought just a turkey breast, and I was going to cook it in the crockpot.  Unfortunately, I chose a breast from the turkey equivalent of Dolly Parton, and it had to go in a roasting pan in the oven.  I was kind of glad that our usual extra Thanksgiving guests had other plans, as that would have necessitated broadening the table to include dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, salad…lots more stuff than is truly necessary and enjoyable. 


I’ve also held off on blogging because I was just enjoying my daughter’s visit.  We agreed to work less and chill more.  I usually have to be prodded into a decision like that.  I’ve admitted lately that I’m a workaholic without a job.  Now that I’m feeling better, my natural inclination is to spend every day “working”.  For me, that is knitting, working my store, knitting some more, doing household chores, packing up stuff I’m cleaning out, and knitting. 


The push to knit has served a good purpose the past ten days.  I had two sets of mitts, two hats, and two scarves to knit to complete the custom orders of the beauty shop ladies, and today I finished the last of them.  I only have buttons to sew on and a bit of blocking to do before I can deliver them.  Meanwhile, I’ve received two more custom orders, and I want to knit my mother an afghan for Christmas.  It’s a good thing my health is improving!


Today a rare thing happened.  A friend listened to me talk about how much better I’m feeling.  I was describing standing up without yelling from foot pain, taking one pain pill a week instead of two per day, and having energy.  Strangely enough, more people want to hear about the bad side of chronic illness than the improvement.  There’s a sort of morbid curiosity that says “how did that rash look?  was it oozing?” and “do you have to use crutches for those leg pains?”  and “where did they put the needle?” and “just how much did you bleed?”  It’s not as easy to have an audience for improvement.  It was great to have someone hear me rejoicing.  Lately I’ve been  doing impromptu dances, feeling the way my legs and feet can move, enjoying the energy that fuels them.  When I felt the worst, I stopped forcing myself to dance with Ellen Degeneres every morning.  Now I don’t wait for the show.  A few little secret steps in the bakery today, a wild fling in front of the bathroom mirror, swaying in the grocery line…my dance is back.


All of the above changes were starting before I got my big treatment last week.  I’m due for another treatment next week.  I hope this will kill enough B cells to keep me feeling better for a good while. 


I promise, photos to come, and one pattern.  One of the hats I made this week had a knitting group member asking for it, so I’ll share with everyone.  Meanwhile, my pumpkin bread is out of the oven.


Reunion…Just the Summary, Folks

Reunion was so wonderful that I cannot write just one post about it.  All I can do today is start by summarizing some of the high points.  Over the next few days you’ll hear many more stories and reactions about the event.


Five great things about reunion:

1.  This was the first time that it was only us sisters and our children (and grandchildren).  There was a closeness and camaraderie that I haven’t noted at earlier reunions, and a commonality of purpose.


2.  I attended an orientation for a Landmark seminar, and learned something very important about myself.  More to come.  For now, just call me optimistic.


3.  Our hotel turned into a great accommodation for us to be together, with common spaces that really worked, and a lovely attitude towards us congregating there.


4.  I had every support that I needed in order to enjoy myself and spend time with everyone who attended.


5.  I felt like we included the parents well, having them come down for one night and concentrating our efforts around them while they were there.  Their visit included dinner together, a marvel of a family talent show, and breakfast the next day, and the parents were delighted. 


Back home, the tomatoes are thriving and I have picked seven today.  For the first time, I can see peppers on the pepper plants.  I drove home yesterday and I feel pretty good today.  I haven’t had to take to bed or be particularly slow since I arrived home.  Looking forward to more B cell killing this week, and lots of knitting. 


…and Poof, the B Cells Disappeared

In front of me I have two chemocaps.  Panda Cotton cap: 

Panda Cotton is 59% bamboo, 25% cotton, 16% elastic nylon.  Knit on size 2 circulars with two sets of ribs at the bottom and a spiral crown.  It is so soft and fluid, beautiful stitch definition.  My in-laws’ friend should be comfortable even if his scalp becomes sensitive. 

Crystal Palace Poof cap:     Knit on size 8 circulars, all garter stitch.  Gorgeous eyes belong to the daughter.  She makes everything look charming.  Poof is nylon microfiber, washable and soft to the scalp. 

I finished the Panda Cotton hat tonight.  Absolutely love it.  I might have to make one for myself.  All my knitting work today went into this hat.  I’m ready to pick up something else now. 


I was hoping to get some photos of tomatoes tonight.    I took the camera out in the dark. This is a cluster of six on the Black Plum plant.  They are approximately two inches long now, but still no hint of red on this bunch.  The ripe ones stay dark green on one end, and the inside is very dark green, almost black.  Very pretty. 


  This photo shows the largest of the tomatoes right now.  It is about three inches in diameter, and continues to grow, despite quite a few dead leaves surrounding it.  This plant is one of two that seem to be dying, but the tomatoes keep on coming.  As photos, these are the pits, but they do illustrate my undying affection for my readership, that I would risk my limbs to voracious mosquitos in order to document the fruit that I’ve been discussing. 


I know that you aren’t hanging on for my photography anyway.  It’s my utter ruthlessness in taking the machine gun to those B cells and calling a funky immune system a funky, malfunctioning immune system!  I’m such a peaceable person otherwise.  When my daughter was little, she would tell me “Mama, you have to tell me that you’ll kill me if I do that again.”  She wanted me to threaten her like her friends’ parents threatened them.  I couldn’t do it with a straight face.  When you hear me say “I’d like to slap him into next week” I am expressing a totally cerebral feeling.  I’ve only had one physical fight in my life.  It was in sixth grade.  I was surprised, attacked in the girls’ bathroom, and I didn’t have a clue how to fight back.  Ouch.


Thanks for the good health wishes.  I am even dreaming about being healthy.  Last night I was at work, knowing that sooner or later I’d be sick again, but determined that I’d do clinical work.  It was fun until an elderly lady pooped on the exam room floor.  Sigh.  Must have been a warning to stay home.  Not that I ever had that experience in my office. 


I have enough to do at home, for goodness sake.  I hope no one is reading through posts, counting the projects that were mentioned and then never showed up again.  For instance, at family reunion I’m going to encounter the niece for whom I started a cotton blanket in January.  The blanket is only half completed.  I’m going to take some of the Cozy Cotton with me and knit like crazy, so she will see that I truly have good intentions.  Dayna has been using her blanket at home, and it makes me feel wonderful to see it loved and used.  I want the niece to have hers before the next school term starts. 


I am rambling.  And yawning.  And, so sorry, one eye is on Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote. 


Early B Cell Death

People!  A physical improvement today has me feeling so much brighter.  My personal sun has been shining all day.  I’m less stiff and in a bit less pain, and that makes moving around easier and less taxing.  The consequence of this is that I’ve tackled some jobs I didn’t think I’d get to for a while-cleaning out jobs that leave me feeling less cluttered in my brain as well as my home.  I put a little stool in my living room and plopped down in front of a yarn shelf and a big box of yarn and unfinished projects.  I sorted through the box, sending things to either the shelf, the prison yarn project box, or the trash.  That done, I went to my craft room which is dangerously overloaded and tackled another box of yarn and miscellaneous unfinished stuff.  Again, a three-way sort, with a few balls salvaged to shelve and the rest divided between prison and trash.  Barely a dent in the clutter I need to attack, but just like B cell death, a start.


Julian popped up again on his way back to his college town.  It was lots of fun seeing him and an old friend of his that I adore.  That was an unexpected treat.  We were all at home most of the day, and I enjoyed that.  I spent my time with them knitting and playing games online.  Julian propped up next to me to help with a word game; we were a fierce team, playing against lots of online competitors. 


I just stepped out on my porch in the humidity and heat to check my tomatoes.  In the dim porch light I didn’t see any tomatoes with red, but the number of tomatoes on the vine is astounding.  On one of the black plums, the tomatoes are hanging in clusters of up to six.  Every plant has tomatoes, even the two that I think I’m losing.  I’ve picked five so far, but the next two weeks are going to multiply that many times.  Due to the suspicion of Salmonella infestation we’ve eaten fewer tomatoes this summer than usual.  I can’t wait ’til it tastes like a real summer.


I had a special chemocap to work on today.  My in-laws have a friend at church who will begin chemotherapy soon, and he isn’t looking forward to losing his hair.  He told them he needs caps that are interesting and unusual.  I chose a Panda Cotton sock yarn to knit him a cap.  I’m about halfway to the dome.  I’ll photograph and show it tomorrow. 


This fireworks thing has turned into a real frustration.  This is the third night that we’ve had to listen to them.  Last night was like a full performance again, lasting two hours.  Someone set off sizzling sparklers in my back yard; I could hear them, and my daughter collected four burnt sticks this morning.  I was hopeful of letting my dog have her peaceful time in the yard tonight, but they are still at it.  At this point, we are beyond rudeness.  There’s nothing acceptable in making loud noises throughout the neighborhood at 11 o’clock on a work night. 


I’m expecting a busy today tomorrow.  Death to B cells!  Okay, I’ll stop my noise right now. 



Baby Blankets Knitted with No B-Cells, and Other Earthly Delights

This evening I found a handful of prescription pills in a bowl in my kitchen.  It included all ten of the medications I’m supposed to take each morning.  Guess that explains why I was feeling so crappy-weak, feverish, every muscle aching, joints sore…I didn’t get prednisone or naproxen this morning.  I know, I know, I’m a doc, I should do better.  Before doc, however, please think “human”.  This is what I suspect happened:  I took out all my pills this morning in preparation for taking them.  Then I carried them into the kitchen to get some water.  I set them down in the bowl, began to make my cup of coffee, and the rest is history.  Midafternoon is when I really noticed that I wasn’t feeling good.  Usually all my medications are absorbed and have peaked by then, and if I woke with aches and pains they have abated.  Today they were worsening, especially my foot tenderness and hand pain.  It is especially dangerous to miss prednisone when you have been taking it chronically.  It is like the cortisol that your adrenal glands produce daily, and when you take it for a few weeks your adrenals get lazy and stop producing their own cortisol.  It can take them weeks to gear up for normal production again.  That means missing a morning dose can cause symptoms of cortisol deficiency by evening.  Severe cortisol deficiency is dangerous, but I had only gotten to the mild point – sweating, weakness, aches.  Now that I’ve taken all the critical stuff, I will be feeling better in two hours.


Okay, so other stuff has happened today.  I talked with my mom and dad, who reiterated their pleasure with yesterday’s birthday celebration.   I went out onto my screened deck and made some photos.  It was nice and overcast, and the colors came out much truer, just as MZ said!  So check these out:

This is a sideways view of the yellow and blue baby blanket.  I am now working on a second blue band.  The bands have alternating knit and purl squares bordered by several rows of garter stitch. 

  I backed off to show the clothes rack, because it’s one that I purchased and put together to use at craft fairs.  It’s the perfect rack for showing lots of scarves at once.

 This is the second Burly Spun mat, before it was felted.  I think I posted it’s dimensions a couple of days ago.  I’ll get the dried, felted mat out and photograph it tomorrow, hopefully.  I am in love with this combination of colors, and the random striping. 

  This is the Plush baby blanket.  The colors are perfect here.  Both blankets should be finished tomorrow. 


Actually, the thing I’m proudest of today is my house straightening work this morning.  I have extended the pantry re-organization so that I could fit all of my bulk purchases into it.  This emptied several boxes and cleaned out a good space that had been occupied by them.  It doesn’t sound like much of a chore, but it’s something I couldn’t have done alone even a month ago. 


I realize that we are almost in June, and it’s time for those B-cells to return to San Juan Capistrano.  My body could begin to replenish them at any time-it’s been five months since my treatment.  But I’m not in a hurry to see them and I’ve been whispering to my bone marrow to take it’s time.  When the B-cells return, if I head into a flare, we’ll repeat the treatments I had in December and January.  I am fully satisfied with this plan, and delighted that it has worked so well up to now.  I danced with Ellen this morning.