I Went On A Little Binge . . .

I was watching a YouTube video by Bernadette Banner Friday morning in which she was constructing the blouse portion of an Edwardian “lingerie gown” (she was recreating a period accurate version of the gown Julie Andrews was wearing during the “Jolly Holiday” scenes in the film “Mary Poppins”). She mentioned binge-watching TV while she was hand-sewing down all the gathers at the top and bottom of the blouse to the respective lace panels and waist band. (This is a woman who considers hand sewing garments a (mostly) soothing, meditative activity in the same way I consider knitting to be, i.e., a kindred spirit.)

Friday afternoon, I finally reached the point in the baby blanket where it was time to begin the knitted-on lace edging. The thing about “knitted on” edgings (versus an edging that you knit as a separate piece and sew onto the work) is that you knit the edging at right angles to the thing you’re edging, and at the end of every other row, you work some kind of decrease, typically a k2tog or ssk, where you knit together one stitch of the edging and one stitch from the work, thereby attaching the edging to the work as part of the finishing process. Knitting on an edging is really just a very fancy way of binding off your work.

I had chosen a “toothed” garter lace pattern with an 8-row repeat, which is to say, working the 8 rows of the pattern gives you one iteration (or “tooth”) of the lace pattern, and you keep repeating those same 8 rows until you have enough to go all the way around. (The original lace pattern was for lace you sew on, so first I had to adapt the pattern to make it “knit-on-able.” See below. ) Each iteration of the lace pattern binds off 4 stitches along the circumference of the blanket. Since the blanket is 513 stitches (9 panels x 57 stitches per panel) in circumference, that’s 128 iterations of the lace pattern. Now, I’m sure you math whizzes have already figured out that 513 cannot be evenly divided by 4. So here’s the math. The blanket has 9 panels. 9 panels x 56 stitches per panel is evenly divisible by 4 (= 126 repeats), but I have to cast on 5 stitches and then knit a “freebie” row to set up the lace pattern, and that setup incorporates 1 of the circumference stitches.

Now, because you are knitting the blanket from the center out, you need to keep increasing the number of stitches at the outer edge in order for the blanket to lie flat — this pattern increases 9 stitches every other row. So, by adding two more rows (the row where you work the yarn-over increases at the end of each of the 9 panels, followed by the row where you work a knit stitch into each of the yarn overs on the previous row), my panels went from 56 stitches to 57 stitches wide, which gives me 9 more stitches to play with. 9 more stitches (57 stitches per panel x 9 panels = 513 stitches in circumference) gives me two more pattern repeats (8 stitches) plus one extra stitch for that setup row. Et, voilá.

Bernadette (see above) reminded me how pleasant it is to binge watch TV while you knit, so I streamed some Acorn TV and binge-watched a 3-part series about the interiors of Buckingham Palace in London, and a 6-part series about traveling in the wilds of Scotland, and got 4 of the 9 panels edged. Tonight I edged another panel and a half, so I’m in the home stretch on this project.

For those of you who are into that kind of thing, here’s how I adapted the pattern for sew-on lace so that it could be knitted on. I had to add in an extra stitch for the ssk that would be worked with one of the work stitches as a means of attaching the lace to the work, and I had to add in a set up row to get the pattern oriented correctly to the work.

Sewn On Version:                     
Cast on 4 sts.

Row 1: K1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 2: K5.
Row 3: K2, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 4: K6.
Row 5: K3, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 6: K7.
Row 7: K4, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 8: Cast off 4 sts, k3.

Repeat rows 1-8.

Knitted On Version: 
Cast on 5 sts using e-loop method, k4, ssk, tw.

Row 1: Sl1 wyif, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 2: K5, ssk, tw.
Row 3: Sl1 wyif, k2, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 4: K6, ssk, tw.
Row 5: Sl1 wyif, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 6: K7, ssk, tw.
Row 7: Sl1 wyif, k4, yo, k2tog, yo, k1.
Row 8: Cast off 4 sts, k4, ssk, tw.

Repeat rows 1-8.

Sl1 wyif = slip 1 stitch purlwise with yarn in front
tw - turn work
k2tog - knit two stitches together. 
yo - yarn over (same as yfwd, yarn forward)
ssk - slip 2 stitches knitwise onto the right needle, return the two stitches to the left needle and knit them together through the back loop.  In this instance, the ssk is worked between the last lace stitch and the next stitch of the circumference stitches, to join the lace to the work. 

Two Cycles Left, and About That Many Brain Cells . . .

As if my life wasn’t complicated enough, Google has decided that after May 30, 2022, it will not play with Windows 7 or anything older than Outlook 2016 any more. Since I use Gmail, that means I wouldn’t be able to get email on my Windows 7 machine after that. So, I got another computer with Windows 11 installed on it, and I’m having to figure out how it works.

I hate the “comes with” Windows 11 email program. I have five different emails (one associated with this blog, one I give to friends and family, one I use to sign onto things like bill paying websites and banking websites, one I use to sign onto websites I buy stuff off of, and one for games and streaming services)*, and I liked the way Windows Live Mail displayed things. Windows 11 is more like having a smart phone with a computer monitor, keyboard and mouse attached to it. It has a jickiness about it I don’t like., but I do have my email switched over to the new computer, so I can now get all my email, and not just email from 4 of my 5 email addresses like I do now.

I’ve got to find a feed reader that will display all the blogs and webcomics I read the way they are displayed on their own website, and one that is as user friendly, intuitive and logical as NewsFox was. So far, no luck. Once I do, I’ll have to set that all up (20+ blogs and about that many webcomics).

I’ve got to figure out how the newest version of Word works now and set it up to work the way I like it to (the fonts I like, the formatting I use, etc.) and then transfer all my files over and transition each one of them to the new version of Word, which will screw up the formatting and the fonts, which I will then have to sort out on a document by document basis. *&^%$#@!

I’ve got to get the display working the way I like it. It’s got stuff pinned to the task bar that I don’t want there, won’t ever use, and can’t unpin. I don’t want anything pinned to the task bar. I want icons!

I’ve got to re-sign into my banking apps on the new computer during the daytime so I can call customer service when they lock up on me because I’m using a different computer.

I’ve got to download a version of my backup software that works with Windows 11 and re-set that up. I have to move an F-ton of files. I have to redo all the shortcuts I had on my desktop. I’ve got games I want to try to bring over that I probably can’t because they probably won’t work on Windows 11. I hate the “comes-with” solitaire game on Windows 11.

Right now, I’ve got one monitor hooked to one computer and the other hooked to the other computer. I’ve been using the old computer with just one monitor and it’s been driving me crazy. It’s like trying to work with one eye closed. I don’t have enough room to do anything. I can’t have more than one or two programs open at the same time, and can only look at one at a time.

And not to put too fine a point on things, because I have chemo brain, I only have about three working brain cells, so everything is harder to do and takes about three times as long.

It’s going to be a long, drawn-out process.

We have gotten a new internet service/TV provider here, and I’m not very impressed with them. My internet was poor before, stuttering and slow. It’s even worse now. I called about it three times before someone came out and tinkered with it. I have a wire running from my bedroom under my bedroom door to my TV because the only other connection in the room is behind my china cabinet, and I’m not going to rearrange all my furniture to put my TV facing all the windows in that room. The guy said he would escalate my ticket. That was three weeks ago. I called and complained again Monday, and they fixed my internet by turning it off. I called the resident director about it, and he came up and hooked up my old WiFi modem (which I could have done myself if I’d known I could). They hadn’t discontinued the old service because they were having such problems switching over to the new one. Now I have the same pisspoor internet I had before. To be fair, part of the problem is the wiring in this building that was built in the 1970’s. But still, did they have to turn it off when I was right in the middle of reassuring Google that, yes, it was me signing in to my five GMail accounts on a different computer . . . Sigh!

Mom has been complaining about her neck hurting. Her back is so kyphotic (“buffalo hump”) and she is so stooped over that when she tries to lie flat on her back, the back of her head is about 6 inches off the bed (not an exaggeration!). I thought perhaps she needs another/or thicker pillow and tried to tell her that, but she proceeded to explain that she has one of those beds that the head and foot raise up — which is neither here nor there. The problem is that her back is so bowed that if her pillows are not thick enough to adequately support her head, that’s going to put a strain on her neck.

I had a birthday last Saturday, such as it was. My knitting friend KC and I went to Outback Steakhouse for lunch. She got me this darling arrangement and a card.

I’ve had this thing where I just hit the figurative wall and I have to go lie down. It happened while we were at lunch, and I ended up bringing 90% of my lunch home to eat later after I’d slept about five hours. (KC has been through chemo for breast cancer, so she was very understanding.)

It happened again the other day, and I’m beginning to think it’s one of my meds because it seems to happen within about 30 minutes of my taking my meds. I think I know which one it is, the PreserVision. I’m supposed to take two of their big peanut M&M sized pills, but I can’t tolerate that dose so I just take one. I’m not going to take today’s dose and see if that makes a difference. It could also be side-effects of the Rituxan, which include bloating, stomach pain and loss of appetite, as well as weakness and tiredness. Part of it could also be the cumulative effects of the 3 sessions of COP chemotherapy.

I start chemo cycle 5 of 6 on 1 June. Once that’s over I’ll only have one more to go. During this cycle, I also get to see my orthopedist for the yearly checkup on my knee replacement. I’ve had it for three years now. Still very glad I did it. And I also get to see my PCP at the VA. Why do I always seem to get other appointments right when I’m in the middle of chemo sessions?

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are ongoing, sort of. I just haven’t had the energy or the brain bandwidth to do much.

Mostly what’s showing on CatTV around here are doves (ring-necked and Inca, but mostly mourning) and grackles, with the occasional guest appearance by a blue jay, mocking bird or robin. This guy has been serenading me for a while now. WooHoooHooo.

*If one of my emails gets hacked, I know immediately what things have been compromised and what I need to do about it, and I only have to change that email address on the websites I use it on, instead of using one email address for everything and having everything compromised, and then having to change the email on everything.

That Makes Sense

So, saw my cardiologist today about my weird blood pressure readings (big difference between the top and bottom numbers, like 126/43). After I explained what was going on, he pointed out that getting a liter (about a quart) of fluid within about an hour and a half is like chugging a quart of milk — what you call your “fluid bolus” in the parlance. Kidneys can only work so fast. So, every time I get my fluid bolus, I’m “topping up” my fluid volume, and it takes a while for my kidneys to “delete” the surplus. This is what is pushing up the top number of my blood pressure. My heart is having to move all that extra fluid. The top numbers rarely go beyond 150 and seldom go above 140, so they’re not that high, again good. He was very pleased with the low bottom numbers, though, as he says this shows my heart is getting a good rest between beats. I came away reassured.

We talked about the metoprolol plus the cetirizine causing nightmares. What I hadn’t known until I was looking into alternative antihistamines, was that prednisone can also cause nightmares. And guess what else I get on the day I get my chemo — a whopping dose of prednisone!. Aha! as the man says. . . . I already know that being on the spectrum means my brain is wired differently, and these drugs affect the neurotransmitters in the brain, so, maybe, duh?

This evening, I picked up the Savannah Squares Scarf Shawl I’m doing in Malabrigo sock yarn because I just wanted to work on it so bad I couldn’t stand it. So I did. And while I’m knitting and listening to classical piano music, I’m thinking, you could use this pattern to make a rectangular blanket if you cast on more stitches than called for, and put the extra stitches on the long sides . . . . Oh, be still my little monkey brain. . . .

A Bit of An Anticlimax

I made it through all my various infusions relatively unscathed. I did have an episode of vomiting Sunday afternoon, but four hours later, I ate a full meal with no problems. Based on the symptoms, I think it was more my stomach having a snit fit (which it has done periodically since last summer for reasons which are probably linked to stress), and I don’t think it was related to the Rituxan. Of course, my ribs muscles are sore today. I had my second of three infusions of fluid today, and will have my third Wednesday.

I go to see my cardiologist Tuesday about my weird blood pressure readings. The top number is too high and the bottom number is way low, like 140/43. (That makes three days in a row I have to be out and about. Ugh.) I’m going to talk to him about an alternative to metoprolol, maybe one that doesn’t have nightmares as a side-effect. Between the metoprolol and the cetirizine (Zyrtec) I take for allergies, my dreams have become decidedly “nonpleasant.”

I guess it’s officially spring now. I saw a robin today. The American version (Turdus migratorius) is bigger (oddly enough) and is a member of the thrush family (Turdidae). The European original (Erithracus rubecula) belongs to the chat family (Saxicolinae), a subgroup of the Muscicapidae, the old world flycatchers. The one I saw today was policing the lawn for tidbits.

My hair is about an inch and a half long now, long enough for the wind to mess up and for the natural curl to assert itself. It’s always had a mind of its own. I may have to go for the dandelion clock look, whether I want to or not . . .

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are ongoing. Six more rows on the baby blanket and I will begin the edging. I could probably finish the hat in an afternoon if I’d just sit down and do it.

Dive! Dive!

It’s 5:00 a.m. Wednesday and I haven’t slept since 9 o’clock yesterday morning. Yesterday, I saw my oncologist at 11:00 a.m. Since my hepatitis panel was negative and all my other labs were good, we’re going for the Rituxan. I went to the infusion area and got an IV rig put in the port on my chest and got a dose of decadron, a steroid, and gulped down 100 mg of prednisone (the “P” in COP) at one go, which is a whopping dose, BTW, and I have been strung out since it kicked in at about 2 o’clock, like my brain is doing 100 mph and my body is barreling along at 2 mph. (One of my little spelling quirks, like leaving the “W” out of “sword,” is consistently trying to spell “barreling” with one “R” and two “L’s,” which is why God, in Her infinite wisdom and mercy, gave us spellcheckers.) I also received cytophosphamide, the “C” in COP, followed by Oncovin (the “O” in COP). As she was setting up the IV, the nurse remarked that she had to be extra careful administering it because, and I quote: Oncovin . . . is a vesicant. Even when carefully and correctly administered by trained personnel, this drug may cause a feeling of burning and pain. There is a risk that this medication may leak out of the vein at the injection site, resulting in tissue damage that can be severe. (Vesicants are also called “blister agents.” They cause blisters on contact with the skin. The mustard gas used in WWI was a vesicant.) Yep. That is why they surgically implanted a catheter and port into my upper chest which feeds into the largest vein (superior vena cava) in the upper body, so that stuff hits the catheter first, before it can be diluted with blood.

One other thing prednisone does is boost the appetite. I had two roast beef sandwiches, a serving of rice with cheese and broccoli and about a cup of fried okra, a small bowl of the nut mix (almonds, cashews and pecans with coconut shavings, honey and yogurt covered raisins mixed in.) when I got home from JACC at 4:30. I’ve also had two 8 oz glasses of Tazo chai that I brewed a pitcher of Monday and put in the refrigerator after it had cooled and after I had dumped 8 oz of vanilla almond milk in.

I’m glad I pigged out yesterday afternoon. I’m afraid that the major epithelial sluff I had during chemo in 2018 (all my skin peeled, including the lining of my eye sockets, the inside of my ears, and my entire digestive system from the inside of my mouth to the opening at the other end) was caused, not by the bendamustine (that was probably what caused the two different kinds of rashes I also got) but by the dose of Rituxan I got at the same time. Here in a while, I have to go take my shower because I have to be back at JACC at 9:00 o’clock to get Rituxan (the infusion will take about 3 hours) and my shot of Udenyca. Needless to say, I’m not looking forward to it.

At 8 o’clock yesterday evening, my phone pinged and it was a severe sand storm warning predicting high winds and near zero visibility — a haboob, as it were. At 10 o’clock, it was raining cats, dogs, mice and bunglebees, with lightening and window-rattling thunder. Of course, in my youth, I didn’t have to walk five miles to and from school in the snow uphill both ways. We don’t have hills here. I had to walk home in haboobs, into a 30 mph head wind. Both ways. But in the late 1960’s, the farmers learned to “sand fight,” using techinques to combat wind erosion, and the dust content of our sand storms lessened significantly. But we haven’t had a lot of rain this spring, and the dirt content has picked up.

Yesterday, while I was at JACC getting my infusions, the front desk at Carillon called to ask me if I would trade covered parking spaces with the lady in space E-5. There are 8 covered parking spaces under that cover, and I’m in space E-8, which is the furthest parking space from the door. This lady had just gotten a handicapped (wheelchair) van and needed the space next to her to be empty so the van ramp could go down. I was very OK with that. (It puts me 3 spaces closer to the door!) When I came back from JACC, I saw she had backed into the parking space, so evidently, her van ramp comes out on the driver’s side. (Bet her nice new silver van has a backup camera too. The Greyola doesn’t.) Every parking space has to deal with a pair of the poles that hold up the cover. I’ve gone from having to miss the cover pole on the driver’s side to missing it on the passenger side. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Well, gotta go get my shower and get dressed. Wish me luck, girlfriend.

New and Improved

My oncologist’s nurse called me back this morning about the Rituxan, and I’m going for it. We had to rearrange the schedule and I have to go in for lab tests this afternoon. I get the COP tomorrow and the Rituxan and Udenyca Wednesday. Then Friday, Monday and Wednesday, I get my fluid boluses. I am braced for side effects — itching, rash, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and armed with medications for same. I’ll get the prednisone this afternoon while I’m out, and do the little grocery shopping I’ll need to do. I’m going to try to go to bed early tonight because I’ll be bouncing off the walls and likely won’t sleep for the 48 hours after I take the prednisone.

Because of the way the Rituxan affects my already-compromised immune system, I’ll have to be extra careful. I’ll also have to start wearing that stupid Carillon “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” button, as dizzyness is also a potential side effect of Rituxan.

Laundry is all done and put away. If fairy tales were set in the modern world and the heroine was given three impossible tasks to perform (like spinning straw into gold), one of those tasks would surely be to neatly fold a contour sheet. The way I see it, if I can get the durn thing into a fairly compact, rectangular-shaped wad, I’m ahead of the game.

My BFF gets her second cataract surgery tomorrow. She had an excellent result from the first one. Hopefully, this one will go equally well. She had not realized how much her cataracts had compromised her vision until she got the first one done. It was, to coin a phrase, an eye-opener. Cataracts had compromised her color sense more than a little, and reading was difficult. Ditto anything else requiring sharpness of vision. She had already started getting back into drawing after many years, and the first surgery gave that a big boost. Once she’s over the second surgery and gets her “good” glasses, she wants to start painting again, which is great news.

Week before last, when I was going in to JACC to get my second fluid infusion from #3 of chemo, I happened to notice this guy in one of the flower beds. Judging from her/his size, (s)he’s been around long enough to know about gang mowers and other such dangers. Good luck, little guy.

Three To Go

Tuesday, I go for cycle #4. I left a message with the nurse to call me tomorrow as I want to ask her some questions about Rituxan, but I’ve pretty much made up my mind to go for it. I’ve also got to go down to the VA tomorrow to get the prednisone I’ll need Tuesday before my infusion. I dropped the ball and forgot to get the prescription refilled after my last go-round. I doubt I can get through by telephone tomorrow, but I’ll try it. I’ll probably have to actually go by the VA clinic and wait while they fill it.

Laundry time again. One of the dryers doesn’t dry all that well, so I’ll start them both off, take the clothes out and transfer the sheets and towels to the dryer that works and let them finish. I have two sets of sheets because accidents happen, especially with the side-effects of chemo, so one set is always clean. The clean set goes on the bed, and the dirty set gets washed and put away.

Last Monday, mom called and said she wanted some money. I can’t just go downstairs to the (Plains Capital) cash machine put in her (Prosperity) debit card and get her $100 because (a) they charge a fee and (b) it all comes out in $20’s and she wants tens and fives and ones. There’s no place I can get that kind of change on campus, which means I have to get dressed for outside, go downstairs, get in the car, drive to her bank and deal with the teller. Tuesday, CK texted me to ask if I’d gotten mom’s money yet. No I hadn’t. I had to go out Wednesday anyway, and I was going to do it then. CK was coming to visit again on Thursday and would get it to her then.

(Edit: Exception was taken to the above paragraph. If that’s the way some people choose to interpret it, I’m sorry. In this space, I make a conscious effort not to constantly belabor the fact that in the six or seven days following chemotherapy, my energy level drops drastically and stays there. Even when it finally comes back up, it’s still less than half of what it was prior to chemo. Welcome to the real world. Even going down to check the mail and get lunch is taxing. Wednesday I had to choose between going to mom’s bank or going down to get lunch, which ended up being a moot point because after I got back from the bank at 10:30, I sat down to wait for lunch time when I could put in a “carry out” order(11:00-1:00), fell asleep in the chair and woke up at 4 o’clock . Getting supper is out of the question as I would have to walk outside to another building over a block away to get it and then walk back. That’s the reality of chemo, folks. I’m sorry if some people take it personally, but there it is.)

In the meantime the head nurse over at Carillon House, where mom is, called to tell me that mom had awakened with pain in the right side of her chest and they were going to do an x-ray. Fine. Never heard another word about it. Thursday, when CK comes to get the money to take it to mom, I find out that mom has pneumonia, and she’s on 7 days of antibiotics. There’s some concern that it is aspiration pneumonia (something has gone down the wrong way) and they are going to have a speech therapist evaluate her swallowing. Of course, if you ask Dr. Me, a large part of it is that she doesn’t get enough air circulation in her lungs because she won’t get up and walk around the unit for any distance.

I also found out she has a pressure sore on her backside. No surprise. All she does is sit in her lift chair. She gets up to go sit in her wheelchair and wheels herself to meals because it’s easier than trying to get up and down from a chair. The only walking she does is the approximately 10 feet between her lift chair and the plumbing. One of her friends has offered to take her to church, but “It’s too much trouble.”

It frightens me to hear that she has a pressure sore. Once you get one started, they are the very devil to heal. It’s what is called a decubitus ulcer. The constant pressure of sitting makes it difficult for the blood to circulate through the skin. With no good blood supply, the skin begins to die and sluff off. Then you’ve got a sore that can’t heal because the blood can’t get to it because of the pressure. It’s a vicious cycle — the sore just keeps getting bigger and bigger. When it gets big enough that bone is exposed, then you’ve got real trouble.

She gritched and moaned about having to go to the doctor for the sore on her heel; if she doesn’t start getting up and walking more, she’s going to end up having to go back to the doctor for the ulcer on her backside and it will likely take months of treatment. I may call over there and see if I can get her another course of rehab. At least that would get her up and walking, which will also help her pneumonia.

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are ongoing. I’ve made some progress on the hat and the blanket, but won’t start the little dress until I get the hat finished.

Books Read in 2022

28.	The Faded Sun:  Kutath, Cherryh, C. J.
27.	The Faded Sun:  Shon’Jir, Cherryh, C. J.
26.	The Faded Sun:  Kesrith, Cherryh, C. J. 
25.	*The Long and Winding Road, Klune, T. J.
24.	*The Art of Breathing, Klune, T. J.
23.	*Who We Are, Klune, T. J. 
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