Well, Pshaw!

After this round of chemotherapy on Wednesday and the nonstarting of my car, the shot on Thursday, and ricocheting off the walls from Wednesday afternoon til half past Friday, when I finally crashed and burned Friday afternoon, I went from being too strung out on steroids to do anything to too asleep to move. Finally, today I had found most of it and managed to get enough of it back together to try to do something about my car. Battery Joe’s could put a new battery in if I could get the car to their place, but not today. The guys I talked to at Battery Joe’s and Gene Messer Toyota both cautioned that it might not be the battery that was bad, but the alternator or the starter, in which case a new battery would do me little good — and it was a valid point. I also called Messer’s “recommended” towing service to find out that if jumping the battery proved bootless, it would cost me $80 to have them tow the car to the dealership to get it fixed.

So, noonish, I girdled my loins in my big girl panties and called Security to get them to bring their car booster thingie and meet me at the car. While I was waiting for them to come, just for s**ts and giggles, I put the key in the ignition and turned it. The car kind of cleared its throat and started! Several times, in fact. Well, hmmmm! I decided I’d better take it to the dealership where they could check it over, in case something was loose or a belt was thrown, or my “wars” were crossed. I wended my way clear down 19th Street, under the Loop, and out to Gene Messer Toyota, drove it into the service place and sat there in the car for at least five minutes waiting for one of the people sitting around noodling on their computers or talking on their phones to realize they had a customer and come see what I wanted. Finally, I got out of the car and picked one at random and told him I wanted my car looked at and why. (You’d think they’d at least be glad to get my business . . .) We figured out who I was (I bought the car from them, after all), and I told my tale of woe.

After about an hour and a half, the guy comes into the waiting room and says my battery flunked the test, and my cabin filter was dirty (gasp!). It took them another hour and a half to install a new battery and change the cabin filter. That’ll be $188, thank you very much. (I shudder to think what they would have charged if there had actually been something wrong with the car, like the starter was broken or the alternator was shot, or the gazinta had come out or something.) Anyway, the Greyola is fixed now.

Messer Toyota is even farther down the same street than the library branch is where the knitting group meets. Seeing as how I am very familiar with the local landmarks in the vicinity, I stopped at the Arby’s for a Gyro and curly fries, as any normal person would under the circumstances. I was even on the right side of the street to just swoop right into the drive-through lane.

Just as a cultural side note, Arby’s (We have the meat!) sandwiches come with a choice of sauces: Arby’s sauce, or a sauce which contains (among other things) horseradish, which is called, oddly enough, Horsey Sauce. When you get your food order, they ask you, “Do you want Arby or Horsey with that?” — and then put packets of your choice in the sack with your order. I always go for the Horsey.

At the end of March, the maintenance guy reset one of the grab bars in the bathroom because it was coming loose from the wall. A couple of weeks ago, a different guy came to plaster the holes in the wall from where the grab bar used to be. He was supposed to come back and paint the wall after the plaster dried, but never showed. Today, as I was coming up the hall, my Arby’s goodies clutched in my little hot hand, there was a painter at the end of the wal. He was touching up the paint on my door frame and on my door. It was the same guy who was supposed to paint the bathroom. He said he hadn’t come back to paint the bathroom wall because he’d been in the hospital. He’s coming back to paint the bathroom wall tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Homonyms are two words pronounced the same, but which are spelled differently and have different meanings, like “meet” and “meat.” I have long noticed that, even though I know which is which, as I’m typing along, now and again, I would type the wrong one. I’d meat friends who would introduce me to there friends, etc. In rereading the previous paragraph I noted that the guy had come to plaster the wholes in the wall . . . I’ve noticed this has been happening more and more frequently of late. Chemo brain strikes again.

Well, I’ve eaten my Gyro (brought to us by Greek immigrants, and pronounced “Hero”) and my curly fries. Now I’m going to kick back and watch some Philomena Cunk videos from the BBC. Her malapropisms and ‘splanations are just brilliant. Some of her topical humor sails right by me because I don’t have the cultural context to “get” it, but the rest of it is hilarious.

My Best Laid Plans . . .

. . . Gang a-gley this morning when I put my car key into the Greyola’s ignition, turned it, and it clicked at me. The car wouldn’t start because the battery was dead. The Greyola is a 2015 Toyota Corolla bought in November of 2014. It has 18,499 miles (29,771 km) on it, which includes 4,754+ highway miles (7651 km). When I got my first car shortly after Rome fell to the Goths, my dad cautioned me not to drive the wheels off it. I took his advice to heart. Which is to say, the battery that died was the battery that was in it when it left the showroom. (I’m the one who traded in the Crayola, a 27-year-old, 1987 Toyota Corolla with 44,489 actual miles on it for this car, remember?)

Well, zut alors. Decision time. I have to be at JACC in 30 minutes (I allowed 15 minutes to cruise through three parking lots looking for someplace to park.) I could call Security and get them to boost the car with their battery pack thingy and maybe start it, but then what? Will it start in the parking lot when it’s time to go home? Decision made. Hauled my chemo bag and purse out of the front seat and schlepped as fast as I could manage back up the hallway, round the corner, past the swimming pool and the weight room, across the front lobby, up to the receptionist’s desk. J is on duty this morning and without the benefit of antihistamines by the look of it. Puffing and blowing like a steam engine at the station, I explain to her the situation. Takes me 5 minutes to talk her through the decision making process it took me 20 seconds to go through. Transportation provides rides to medical appointments for free, but they need at least 24 hours’ notice. I need to be there in 25 minutes.

Thankfully, they had a driver who could take me, and I got there at 8:45 a.m., right on time to wait the obligatory hour in the waiting room before going back to the lab for port placement and blood draw. Then I went up the little stairs and across the hall to wait the obligatory hour in the doctor’s waiting room to see my oncologist (to be fair, they needed time to process my lab draw and obtain results). The oncologist talked about a trial of Rituxan. Now that COVID seems to have settled down and Omicron has burned itself out, he’s throwing it back on the table. Rituxan is the brand name of rituximab that is used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (what I have) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (what it could convert to — i.e., bad to worse). (Yeah, some of the side effects are bad, badder, and very bad, but my oncologist thinks it’s the best bang for my buck.) That -mab suffix at the end of the generic drug name means that it’s a Monoclonal AntiBody. What monoclonal antibodies do is put a big red tailor-made target (antibody) on the baddie cells just like a vaccine does, so your immune system can find and attack the (cancer) cells the Rituxan has targeted. This means swatting flies with a claw hammer instead of a nine-pound sledge hammer. Or, for the NRA crowd, selectively targeted .22 rounds versus both barrels of a 12-gauge shotgun at close range x 6. Yes! x 6. After today, I’m halfway through a course of 6 rounds of COP chemotherapy. (*does the happy dance seated in a desk chair because it’s 10 p.m. and I’m running out of spoons.)

To tell the truth, I’m thinking seriously of going for the Rituxan. I’ve had it before, but I had it in combination with bendamustine. Both my oncologist and I are pretty convinced that it was the bendamustine causing the lion’s share of the problem I had then and not the Rituxan. It is a more targeted therapy. Granted, it has some scarey potential side effects but I’m relatively young. What’s important to me is quality of life. I don’t want to live another 25 years if those 25 years are a continual never-ending, Sisyphean, rolling-the-boulder-uphill slog.)

I’m going to talk to my oncologist again about Rituxan and when/how he thinks it should be given and tell him I want to go for it. In the meantime, I’ll call my cardiologist’s office and see if I can get in, because I do have a slight heart arrhythmia (occasional PVC‘s left over from scarlet fever at the age of 21!) which is corrected by the metoprolol I’m taking. But my blood pressures are concerning — my top number is high (125-135) and my bottom number is low (40’s-50’s). I’ve been taking a split dose of the metoprolol because taking a whole one in the morning makes it very difficult to keep myself from sitting and staring at the wall all day, but both the metoprolol and the cetirizine I’m taking for allergies have the side effect of causing nightmares, and I’ve been having more non-pleasant dreams with that second half-dose at bedtime. I need to get the top blood pressure number down and the bottom number up to my usual normal range of 110-115 over 70-75. I’m also wondering what having to push large volumes of fluid through my system to flush out the chemo drugs is having on my blood pressure.

Anyway, I had knitting, I had my old Kindle reader and my iPhone (and charge cords for both — I come fully equipped.) I had my five tablets of prednisone. My labs were good. I bunged down the prednisone and we hooked me up to the IV rig and let’er rip. (I’m currently devouring book 3 of The Bear, the Otter and the Kid 4-book series by T. J. Klune, after having read The House in the Cerulean Sea by him, which is such a good book on about umpteen levels, m/m but tame, with magic, found family, and Happily For The Foreseeable Future ending. His characters are very relatable, and very well rounded. They are people you could actually meet and know and really like. He does m/m shifter books, too.) (They should make a movie of The House in the Cerulean Sea. They really should. But only if they could do it justice and not screw it up.)

At about 1 o’clock, while I was still in medias res chemo infusion, Carillon Transportation called and wanted to know if I’d gotten a ride home. I told them no, I had labs then a doctor visit then chemo and I should be finished around 3. They said they had me covered. Which reminds me, when I get the Rituxan to let specific people at Carillon know so they’re on scramble alert just in case of side effects (nurse on duty 24/7 in assisted living downstairs, Security on campus 24/7, etc.). JACC also has this deal where you can call a home health nurse/EMT and have them come out at any time day or night, so I feel like I’ve got a good safety net. (If you have it, you don’t need it; if you need it . . . )

So, about the car. The Battery Joe up the street and round the corner has bays and they do car batteries. I’m going to call them in the morning, tell them my make and model and see what my options are. If I go that route, Security can give me a jump-start. I’m also going to call Gene Messer Toyota and find out what a Maint Rec’d light means. If I have to do anything through the dealership, though, it’s going to cost arm$ and leg$ and I’d rather not. But whatever I’m going to do, I’m going to wait to do it until after I’ve stopped bouncing off the walls and have gotten some sleep. Like Friday.

This was yesterday’s supper. A dunk salad (green onions, cherry tomatoes, cantalope and baby carrots) with Ranch dressing dunkage and a side of Muenster Cheese melted onto toasted Rustic Italian bread. Two plates worth of nummy goodness thoughtfully snarfed.

Today’s supper was baked chicken breast meat with asparagus sauce, rice pilaf and Italian green beans.

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are ongoing.

I’ve done the brim on the baby hat the same way I do my Hemmed Toboggan with Internal Ribbing, which is to say with a provisional cast on using scrap yarn instead of the three needle bind-off like the pattern said. Just easier for me to pick up the ready-made stitches from a provisional cast on, than try to pick up stitches off the lower edge of a long-tail cast on and come up with the right number. That (k2tog yo) trick that gets the picot edge on the brim is nice. Definitely adding that technique to my repertoire.

I haven’t started the Rita Dress because that one skein of Malabrigo sock spontaneously yarn barfed and I don’t have enough yarn now. I alerted the Malabrigo folks about the skein that self destructed and they were very nice about it and promptly wrote back saying that while you may get a knot in the skein from time to time and it’s unfortunately the nature of the beast, they very rarely have any difficulty with a skein miswinding like that. They very kindly offered to send me a replacement skein (which I didn’t think they’d do) and I very thankfully took them up on it. After I had already ordered a replacement skein from Webs. Plus two more skeins and five skeins of a redder red (colorway: Boticelli red!) which I like better. I have this Valley Yarns Southampton “garnet” mohair and I want to see what happens to the fabric when I hold it double with the Malabrigo sock, but not on a baby dress, on a cowl or something. Maybe I’ll consider doing this after the baby knitting is done and I’ve knocked out some more WIPs. I could use the darker Tiziano red for the dark lines and the lighter Botticelli red held double with the garnet mohair using stockinette stitch instead of garter stitch. Hmmmm. . .

The pinwheel blanket is getting larger than the 40 inch circulars. I’ll have to see if I have 60 inch circulars in that needle size. Not sure I have some free, because WIPs. . . sigh.

They’re supposed to come install my cable today. They’ll probably get to my room about the time I’ve left for my Udenyca shot. Which means Security will let them into my apartment when I’m not here to ask that they not mess up the programming on my smart TV, please. I’d better leave them a note about my WiFi modem and how it’s plugged in behind my china cabinet because that’s where the only coax cable connection is in this room of my apartment and how pissed I’ll be if they move the china cabinet and platters fall and stuff breaks, and no I am not going to rearrange all my furniture because that is the only coax cable connection in that room and there’s not one on the wall behind my TV, unless they want to run the cable from the coax connection in my bedroom under my bedroom door and around to my TV which is on the other side of that bedroom wall, and I’ll tape the cable down to my baseboard with clear packing tape. Of course, men decided where the coax connectors were going to go solely based on ease of installation. A woman would have also given thought to furniture placement and that putting a TV there would have it sitting directly opposite the windows. DUH! Grumble. . . . grumble . . . . grumble . . .

(*insert sound of a box of Lego blocks being dumped here*) And my icemaker just lost another game of Jenga.

Books Read in 2022

22.	*Bear, Otter, and the Kid, Klune, T. J. 
21	*Under the Whispering Door, Klune, T. J.
20.	*The House in the Cerulean Sea, Klune, T. J. 
19.	*A Shadow in Summer, Abraham, Daniel
18.	*Fluke and the Faithless Father, Burns, Sam
17.	*The Fantastic Fluke, Burns, Sam
16.	*The Tale of Two Seers, Cooper, R. 
15.	*A Boy and His Dragon, Cooper, R. 
14.	*Time’s Convert, Harkness, Deborah
13.	*Killashadra, McCaffrey, Anne
12.	*Crystal Singer, McCaffrey, Anne
11.	*Clay White, Cooper, R. 
10.	*Ravenous, Cooper, R. 
9.	*Change State, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve
8.	*Bread Alone, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve
7.	*Od Magic, McKillip, Patricia (reread)
6.	*Spells and Sensibility, Noone, K. L. and Murphy, K. S. 
5.	*Revelry, Noone, K. L.
4.	*Fire and Ink, Noone, K. L.
3.	*Some Kind of Magic, Cooper, R. 
2.	*Wyrd and Wild , English, Charlotte E. 
1.	*The Book of Life, Harkness, Deborah (reread)
* Ebook

Settling In and Hunkering Down

So, my third go-round of chemo (second round of COP therapy) is behind me, but the COP cycles are every three weeks, instead of every four as the bendamustine cycles would have been. I got off easy this time. I managed to sidestep any upper or lower digestive side effects. Thing is, I don’t know how much of my wheezing and shortness of breath is due to the chemo and how much is due to the many dusty blustery days we’ve had lately and those dang Bradford pears.

I was able to stop off at the grocery store Friday after getting my liter of fluid. I got a small box of cherry tomatoes, a bag of baby carrots, a bunch of green onions, and a bowl of cantaloupe to make some dip salads; a box of spinach dip, and a box of 7-layer dip (bottom to top: refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, green onions, tomatoes, black olives, and grated cheese.) I also got a small bag of blue corn tortilla chips to eat the dips with. (Blue corn has a lower glycemic index and a higher protein content than regular yellow corn.)

Tuesday afternoon, I got on YouTube and found Mozart piano sonatas, and then Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, listened to music and worked puzzles on Jigsaw Planet. It was very meditative. While my eyes and mouse hand worked puzzles, my mind just wandered off into the music.

Thursday I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I watched TV and knitted for several hours — I was working on the baby blanket. I have a pair of over-ear Bluetooth headphones paired to my TV, and my TV sound on mute, so I don’t have to worry about disturbing anybody with my TV sound.

Having been a medical transcriptionist for 27 years, I was always very protective of my hearing as it was my livelihood, and still am. Even now I don’t like to turn the volume up on the things I listen to. Headphones and earbuds allow me to listen to things at a very low volume because they cut out any ambient noise. One reason people turn the sound up is to hear dialogue more clearly (The higher speech frequencies don’t carry as well as lower frequencies.) Headphones/earbuds allow you to hear dialogue better at lower volumes because they cut out any ambient noise. (The other reason is that loud sounds give people an adrenalin rush — Which is why “surround sound” is such a big deal and why “blockbuster” movies that cater to the younger bunch always have either lots of explosions and crash noises or lots of “startle scares.” Every time I pull up next to a “thumper” — a car (usually driven by a teenage or young adult man) with a high watt sound system with huge bass speakers thumping away so loudly you can hear it two lanes over with your windows rolled up, I think, “Adrenalin junkie.”)

Anyway, I watched Magellan TV, a biography of Beethoven and a biography of Chopin. Then I flipped over to YouTube and had jellyfish and arpeggious piano for a while. The video of the moon jellyfish floating around full screen on a 55-inch flat screen is amazing. I could have a real Captain Nemo fantasy going with that video, looking out of the round window in the side of the Nautilus.

I have my little nook set up over in the corner, with my floor lamp and my little reader’s table with my bowl of knitting accouterments. I have one of those boxes shaped like a fancy leatherbound book for all my remotes — TV, VCRs, and sound bar. (We’re supposed to get a new internet service provider and the TV will have a cable box with one more remote. . . ) It saves me rummaging for them inside a drawer or having to keep up with them strewn about over this table or that.

The boxes came in a set of two and I use the smaller one on my chest of drawers for watches and jewelry and such.

The baby dress is the Rio Dress, a paid for pattern from Ravelry, which I’m doing in 6 month size, which puts it right around Christmas, hence the color — Malabrigo Sock’s Tiziano Red from stash. Something for the Christmas card photo of baby’s first Christmas. The hat is “Dear Liza” pattern, free on Ravelry in Paton Grace’s mercerized cotton yarn in lavender also from stash. It is supposed to be cast on “loosely” because the brim folds under and you pick up stitches on the cast on edge to be knit together with the stitches on the other end to make it double thickness, but I wasn’t going to futz with picking up stitches on a cast on edge when I could do a provisional cast on and have the stitches live, which is what the blue yarn is about. The holey bit about halfway up is a row of *k2tog, yo* which forms the “fold line” where the brim folds double, and it gives you a nice little picot edge. Texas babies need hats, too, — not warm ones, but cool ones that keep the sun off. This one is in mercerized cotton which means washer and dryer safe. The dress will have to be washed in cold on delicate setting (or else hand washed) and dried flat, but something that small shouldn’t take that long to dry.

I’ve started the dark rose pink yarn on the round baby blanket. Ideally, I’d put a knitted on edging on it because it’s stockinette and it needs some kind of edging to keep it from curling. I’ve found an edging pattern that is knitted over 9 stitches with a 4-row repeat that’ll work. The pattern as it stands is a “sew on” edging. I just have to play with it to make it knitted on — i.e., decide how I will knit two stitches together (k2tog? ssk?) at the ends of RS rows (one stitch from the blanket and one from the edging) and a slip stitch for the slipping of that two knitted together stitch at the beginning of WS rows. And end the blanket with a row count that is evenly divisible by 4. No biggie. It’s a 9-bladed pinwheel so, e.g., if each of the blades of the pinwheel contained 40 stitches, that’d be 360 stitches (9 x 40), which would be 90 repeats (360/4) of the edging pattern. Which means there is some binge knitting in my imminent future.

The Cursing of the Cursed

I have gone on record multiple times as one of those who excoriate that abomination from China, the Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’), which is right up there with that other abomination from China, the “Tree of Heaven” (Ailanthus altissima). Both are aggressive invasive species that are even more obnoxious than kudzu. You may recognize the Greyola parked there with its door ajar, and guess what’s growing right next to my parking spot. Yep.

The way my sinuses have been carrying on about it, it’s a wonder I’m not exhaling blue air. Although I’m on cetirizine (Zyrtec) daily*, I’ve been having breakthrough symptoms because the stupid Bradford pear trees are all over town (see above) and their pollen is inescapable. I’ve been honking and sneezing at annoyingly frequent intervals for well over a week now, and as short on spoons as I am these days, I don’t have much energy to spare. We’ve also had a particularly brown spring with frequent bouts of high winds kicking up the surrounding agricultural-chemical-laced dirt into the air. Between the pears, the blowing dirt and the COP chemotherapy, I’ve started wheezing again, which I haven’t done since I moved out of the duplex with the leaky roof and black mold in the attic where I lived for 12 years. Wearing a face mask helps, but not much.

I had my cycle of chemo on Wednesday, the white cell booster on Thursday. I gained 7 lbs between Tuesday and Wednesday, and lost 9 between Wednesday and Sunday, all of it “water” weight. I got through this time without any digestive symptoms, although I didn’t have much of an appetite. When I finished ricocheting off the walls from the five tablets of prednisone I had Wednesday, I crashed and burned, sleeping 10 and 12 hours at a stretch. I spent Friday through Sunday mostly in bed with my feet up, emptying my legs out one trip at a time. That bed, with the uppy-downy head and foot, and the memory foam mattress, has been a Godsend. Wednesday evening, I couldn’t see the bones in my feet. Now I have ankles. Monday and today, I went for a liter of fluid. I go again Friday, and that’ll be it for this cycle. Three weeks from now I get to do it all again, but the specifics are not yet known.

Carillon is organizing a bus trip next Tuesday to Silver Falls, which is outside of Crosbyton, where a picnic lunch will be served, and then we go to the museum in Post to see their Fabergé Egg. It’s about an hour to Crosbyton and back, and over an hour to Post and back. I’d like to go, but I’m not sure I’ll have the stamina for it, so I probably won’t. Sigh.

We had a “tower” meeting Tuesday and afterward, I got to have a little chat with JH, one of mom’s PEO friends. Apparently, there’s a lady in their PEO chapter who makes jackets to sell at their auction. Mom already has one of her jackets. This lady took the scraps from making jackets and made a patchwork quilt and brought it to mom, which I thought was sweet.

*I have seasonal allergies. I’m allergic to all four of them.