On the Downward Slope

Tomorrow is the last fluid infusion of this session. I have to be there at 8:00. So after Monday’s infusion I got home just before noon, in more than enough time for the housekeeping lady. While she was there, the maintenance guy came to say he needed to turn my shower on because there was a leak downstairs. Turns out my shower was leaking somehow (why suddenly is it leaking now and not earlier?) He had to calk it and the calk had to set, so I couldn’t use it until he came by today to put everything back together.

He said he’d be by this morning. He didn’t show up until after noon. Of course, by the time he came, I’d washed my dishes and started a pot of chai tea with vanilla almond milk. I’ve got as far as making the chai tea, which is cooling at the moment. It has to cool to room temp before I can add the vanilla almond milk. Then it’s into the fridge.

Anyway, I can use my shower now, which is good because I have to go get my last infusion for this session tomorrow, and I’ll want to shower before I go. Never mind that you don’t work up much of a sweat sitting around in an air conditioned room, I just think it’s manners if you’re going to be in a situation where somebody has to do something as up close and personal as inserting an IV rig into the chemo port on your chest, that you should have showered pretty recently. Kinda common courtesy, which doesn’t seem to be all that common any more. . . .

Saturday, my cousin’s daughter had her baby (she was due Friday), and I need to really get my rear in gear and finish stuff and get it blocked and mailed. Don’t know anything about her except her name and that she’s a healthy little newborn girl. She’s my dad’s youngest brother’s great grandchild. My dad would have been delighted. My mom got to meet her older sister. Hard to believe it’s been almost a year since they came to visit.

Mom had been transferred from the hospital to that nursing home by then and I was in the middle of getting mom moved to Carillon House to finish her rehab, and getting us both into Life Care at Carillon, but hadn’t yet started in on the estate sales and selling mom’s house and getting me moved in and settled. September 1 will be a year since I moved into Carillon. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.

My bank sponsoring an ice cream social this afternoon, but I didn’t go. We’ve had people test positive for COVID here in the building, and eating requires taking down my mask. Not worth the risk.

My BFF who lives outside of Houston finally got COVID. She ended her period of quarantine last Thursday and was back to work. But while she had it, she was as sick as the proverbial dog.

I gulped down Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen series and the adjacent Dragons and Blades duette from the same universe, which was a great if slightly grim read, and I’ve started in on a reread of the four-book Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. Carriger’s books are set during the reign of Queen Victoria in a Britain where werewolves are obliged to serve in Her Majesty’s army and vampires are arbiters of style. It’s fun and steampunk and ever so slightly silly. The finishing school for young ladies of quality is located aboard a dirigible and, in addition to the usual finishing school curriculum, includes coursework in intelligence gathering and assassination. It is the prequel, if you will, to her Parasol Protectorate series, and there are three books which deal with the subsequent careers of three of the friends the main character makes at school.

In the knitting news, I did get that little baby top started, and I’m losing a game of Yarn Chicken as I don’t think I’ll be able to finish it with one skein of yarn. But I have two more skeins of that yarn. I might do some booties to match. We’ll see. I need to get the top finished first, and fish out some appropriate buttons from my stash.

I’ve got to finish that one sun hat, though, before I start on matching booties, or a sun hat for the top. I’ve got about 15 more rows to go on the top but, except for the last five rows, it’s all stockinette, which means purling 117 stitches every other row. That much purling is a pain. It’s less of a pain if you’re a continental style knitter, but it’s still a pain. The pattern is only a page and a half long. You could make one in an afternoon if you put your mind to it.

Four Down, Two to Go

I was a bit more rested going into this one. I was actually out by three o’clock Monday since I don’t take the vincristine anymore. The oncologist stopped that one because I was starting to get numbness and tingling in my fingertips. Just the prednisone, the cyclophosphamide and the Rituxan. Found out one of the side effects of Rituxan is it makes you sneeze. I discovered that when I was looking for which one gives you blurry vision (take your pick). And thank God for Depends because one of the side effects of this chemo regimen is a marked tendency to leak. I’ve gone through eight of them in the past two days. The furosemide (diuretic) I took yesterday didn’t help matters, but it cleared the swelling out of my feet nicely. I gained almost 7 pounds of fluid from the three bags of chemo plus what I drank to keep from drying up in the heat.

Since I got out early, I stopped by Market Street on the way home to get some chicken wings and veggies for supper (since I missed lunch) and got some groceries and some more of those BodyArmor drinks I like. Naturally, they’ve quit making the peach-mango flavor because that’s the only one I like. I like it because it has electrolytes, vitamin C, is only 20 calories (2 g of sugar) a bottle and has no added sugar. I was a bad girl and got a package of microwave bacon. I’ve been craving bacon and tomato sandwiches something fierce. (Not a big fan of lettuce.) My cardiologist won’t like it, but I’m going to have me a couple BT sammies. It’s not like I live on the stuff. This is the first bacon I’ve had in months. I also got a pot pie size frozen spinach quiche, some pulled chicken, a container of their good spinach dip, two small loaves of bread, a couple of roma tomatoes and a container of cherry tomatoes, and replenished my frozen food cache. I’m trying to eat as nutritious as I can. Four little sacks of groceries was $168. (*Rant deleted*)

We do get a meal allowance of one meal a day. I’m doing the intermittent fasting thing and supper works better for that than lunch. Unfortunately, our facility hasn’t been able to get enough staff to do three meals so all we get here is breakfast and lunch. To get supper, I’d have to go over to Windsong to get it or else pay a $3 charge to get it delivered. I budget accordingly. I need to have food on hand, though for when I simply don’t have the energy to go down to the dining room to get it.

I had to go by the VA Tuesday to get a refill on the antidiarrhea medication, as that’s another side effect of chemo I tend to have. I was down to two doses, which is not enough as it usually takes three to stop an episode. Got the refill and then went to get my shot of Udenyca to boost my white blood cells back up after chemo. I finally managed to catch about two hours of sleep between potty breaks, and got about six hours total last night. I don’t have to go back until Friday for the first of the three IV fluid infusions.

The Rituxan makes the back of my neck sore right at the base of my skull, and the sneezing is annoying. So is the cotton mouth. I woke up with a sore throat, too, also from the Rituxan. By now I know what to expect, though, and I’m prepared for it.

The air conditioner that supplies the Pointe Plaza building lobby and the business offices has been out for a couple of months now. Evidently supply train issues have struck again. They were going with these big portable blower units for a while, but as hot as it’s been here lately, that hasn’t helped much. There are a few empty apartments in our building and the business offices have relocated to them for the duration. It’s been ungodly hot here, over a week of 100+ F/ 37+ C temps. Raisin weather. You’re a grape until you take two steps outside. High today is 104 F/40 C at 31% humidity. The heat just sucks you dry. High Monday was 107 F/41.6 C. It’s 98 F/36.6 C right now and trying to rain. At 31% humidity, it won’t amount to much. I guess it’s the thought that counts.

In the knitting news, there is knitting news. I’m working on some baby booties to match the little dress I still haven’t finished. The kid should be here any day if she isn’t here already. I need to get my rear in gear and send what I have finished. The dress I haven’t finished won’t fit her until Christmas anyway so I still have some runway on that. I have the blanket and a couple pairs of baby booties finished and I can finish the sun hat in a couple of hours if I’ll just sit down and do it.

I think I’ll do a crochet edging on the sleeves and hem of the dress as well as on the cuff of the booties. I have this nice green that was the “so sorry” freebie I got when Malabrigo replaced that miswound skein of Malabrigo sock I bought for the dress. I’ve got enough of the red to make a second dress for the older sister who will be 22 months old at Christmas as well as socks for her. There will be plenty of the green for what I need.

I’ve got some blue cotton thread. I might do a little top out of it. I could do it in a day if I’d sit down and do it. But right now, I’m reworking the pattern for the booties for fingering weight yarn, which is thinner than baby yarn, plus I’m using smaller needles (US 1/2.25 mm instead of US 2/2.75 mm), which means I’ve had to recalculate the gage, and that changes the number of stitches you start with and means I have to go through the pattern line by line and redo all the math. Guess what. Chemo brain + math = an uphill battle. I’ve been at it all morning. The pattern uses the Fleegle heel, and I’ve got it to the point of completing the heel gusset. I think I’m going to give it a rest for a while because the next bit is very calculation heavy. I don’t have to go anywhere until Friday, so mañana. Once I get the pattern worked out, I’ll test it with the second bootie and then I’ll put them up in Knits From the Owl Underground.

I just now printed out the pattern for the baby top. Think I’ll go hunt up a US 6/4.0 mm 6-inch circular and a bowl, find me some nice music on the internet radio app on my Kindle Fire tablet, crank up the bed and unload my feet while I knit. I’ve still got the prednisone munchies. I may have to eat a BT sandwich first . . .

Oh, here’s the green gang. Still haven’t repotted the two that need repotting . . .

Three Down, Three to Go

It’s a slog. Nothing neat or interesting about it. Just one foot in front of the other. I made it through Rituxan #3 with only a minor bout of diarrhea which might have been as much food related as chemo related. I read, I watch TV and YouTube, I play games, I knit. I’m tired all the time. I’ve got three more to go, and I’m not thinking about it until the day, which is July 18.

I’m making a big pitcher of chai tea with vanilla almond milk. I have this heavy glass pitcher that was intended for sangria (it has the plastic insert for the ice to chill it without diluting it). I think I’ve made sangria in it once. What I make in it all the time is iced tea, either just straight tea or the chai tea with vanilla almond milk, which is as good cold as it is hot. (I’m using 3 chai and 2 Irish Breakfast instead of 5 chai, as the Irish Breakfast gives it more of a caffeine punch.)

Because I’m using a glass pitcher and I’m making the tea with hot water and tea bags, precautions have to be taken. I put the pitcher in the sink and run hot water into it. It takes a while for hot-hot water to come from the water heater to the sink tap, so the glass in the pitcher heats up gradually. When the water is fully hot, I dump the pitcher and let it fill to the rim with the fully hot water. Then I fill my electric kettle over-full and start it heating. It takes five teabags’ worth of tea, a clothespin and a cake server. I used to use a big ladle, but that went in the last downsizing. But, anything large and metal works. That’s what you pour the hot water on to absorb the heat shock.

Timing is everything. The pitcher is full of hot water in the sink until the kettle begins to boil. Then I dump the pitcher, clothespin the five teabags to the pitcher rim, gently put the cake server in and pour the water in the kettle onto the blade of the cake server slowly, pausing now and again. It’s very important to pre-heat the pitcher. (Just like you preheat the teapot before you make tea in it — or you should — for the same reason. Yes, it keeps the tea warmer longer, but it also cushions the teapot against the shock of the boiling water and keeps it from breaking because it has expanded too quickly.)

Then you let the pitcher sit until the glass has cooled to room temperature before you remove the teabags. Pour in the whole 16-oz bottle of vanilla almond mix and stir. Cover the top of the pitcher with cling wrap and refrigerate. Enjoy.

It’s important to cover the pitcher when it’s in the fridge. The “dehumidifying effect” of modern frost-free refrigerators will “dehumidify” the tea and a “skin” may develop on the surface. (Refrigerators were invented by accident. The guy was inventing a dehumidifier that worked by refrigerating the air until the moisture condensed out. Then he realized what else he could do with it — like refrigerate food. That’s why containers in the fridge develop condensation on their undersides. The moisture that has been dehumidified out of the food has condensed on the lid.)

In the knitting news, I finished the baby booties.

I’m working on the dress a couple of rows at a time as I can settle to it. I’ve got about an inch and a half of the skirt. I need 9 inches of skirt.

Noooooo. . . . !

The day did not get off to a good start. I’d got my arm band and was waiting to be called back for labs and to have my port accessed, and their secret special computer program crashed. Since it’s a system-wide program, it was down everywhere in the building, and possibly in all the Covenant facilities. After about 45 minutes, they announced that the system was down and they estimated it would be back up in an hour. I got there at 8:00 a.m. and it was sneaking up on a quarter after 9:00 by then. In the meantime, the waiting room was filling up like an airport when they’ve cancelled flights at the last minute. Somebody got the bright idea to go old, OLD school and fill out paper forms for each patient based on what data they could access locally.

My labs were supposed to be drawn at 8:00 and my appointment with the oncologist was supposed to be at 9 o’clock. It was 9:30 before I got my labs and access. (The computers were down in the labs, too. Fortunately they could make printouts from each piece of lab testing equipment and hand carry them upstairs, so he had my lab results.) It was 10:30 before I hit the oncologist’s waiting room and almost 11:00 before I got to see him. He is neither reticent nor stoic, and I expected him to be sizzling and spitting like a drop of water on a hot griddle considering the computer problems, but he was remarkably calm.

I have begun to experience some peripheral neuropathy on the very tips of my fingers in the form of numbness, worse on the thumb, index and middle fingers of my right hand, which I reported. I have just started noticing this in the last week or two. He said the culprit is the vincristine (Oncovin) and we can stop that. I made the remark that I was glad this was my last session, and he seemed surprised and asked me if I wanted to stop treatment, which he didn’t advise. That was when we discovered there had been a miscommunication. He had told me I would have 6 sessions, and I was under the impression that we were counting from my first session in February. Nope. Guess again. What he meant was that I was to get 6 doses of Rituxan, of which I’ve only had 3 counting the one I got today. This was very depressing news as this whole business has been going on since February and it has been just slowly but surely grinding me down. (Of course, it’s not nearly so bad as it was in 2018 when I had four hospitalizations, a heart attack and pneumonia and was on bottled oxygen for a month . . . ) He is going to give me an extra week of recovery time before I go in for #4, on July 18. (yay.) This means I might be done with this mess by September. Sigh.

Needless to say, I was kind of bummed. He did stop the vincristine, so all I got today was cyclophosphamide, prednisone, and Rituxan. Even so, it was a quarter til 6:00 before I hit the pavement.

On my way home, when I got to the intersection of 19th Street and Quaker Avenue, instead of going straight, I made a left turn onto 19th and went ALL the way out to the closest of the four Arby’s in town. (They have the meats!). North-south Quaker crosses east-west 19th Street between its 4400 block and its 4300 block. The Arby’s I go to is in the 5700 block, way the heck out past LCU and the city library branch where I go to knitting group. The other three locations are on 82nd Street. But I had my heart set on a beef gyro and a mess of curly fries. Guess what. They were out of their special gyro sauce. I said to give me one anyway and give me a couple packets of Horsey Sauce. She discounted the price a dollar because of no gyro sauce, which was the best thing that had happened to me all day (until I ate my gyro and curly fries, that is!).

In the knitting news, I’ve started in on baby booties again, which I haven’t made in years. I’m writing a new pattern for them which will appear on Knits From The Owl Underground as soon as I finish bouncing off the walls from the prednisone. It’s the No-Tears Toe-Up Baby Booties with Fleegle Heel and Crocheted Cuff Edging. I’m test knitting the new pattern using left over yarn from the 9-Bladed Circular Baby Blanket based on this circular shawl pattern. The toe starts with a Turkish cast on of 14 stitches and increases to 28 stitches total, so they go fast. I’ve got plenty of the Botticelli Red Malabrigo Sock yarn. My thought was to make a pair to match the dress.

The Fleegle Heel is a gusseted heel (versus the humpty-eleven other types of heel construction). Some heel constructions (e. g., short row heel) tend to leave a noticeable gap/hole at the end of the decreases, but this method doesn’t. It has a long Bobby Socks style, fold over cuff worked in 1 x 1 ribbing. The feedback I’ve gotten on this cuff style is that they really stay on well.

When I came back from my Walmart run yesterday, I noticed they’ve done some of what my step grandfather (AKA “Grandma-paw”) used to call “landscraping” on the pergola by where I park my car. They’ve given the wisteria on the pergola a haircut, done some planting, and put in a walkway.

Some day when the weather isn’t going to be hotter than a $2 pistol firing uphill, I’ll have to go sit and knit for a bit.

I’m trying to stay positive. Just a matter of hitching up my big girl panties and getting on with it. An Arby’s gyro and curly fries and some Cherry vanilla HäagenDazs® ought to perk me up. Think I’ll sit down and eat it.

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.

Going Around in Cycles

My next cycle of chemo starts next Wednesday (at 8:40 ye gods, o’clock in the morning, no less). So, between now and then, I have to wash clothes, go to the grocery store and probably Wal-Mart to lay in supplies. I would also like to go to knitting group Tuesday, but I’m playing it by ear. I have no energy, and all I want to do is sleep.

A downside to living here at Carillon is that I am living under the tyranny of other people’s schedules, which I wasn’t so much at my previous digs in the duplex. Meals here are served during a specific time period, and if you don’t do what you need to do to get your food (have it delivered, go down and get it or sit in the dining room and eat it) during that time period, then you’re on your own. You have a food allowance that comes out every month whether you use it or not (easily one, but maybe two meals a day if you work it right). Also, starting April 1st, there will be a $3 delivery charge for having someone bring it up to you.

I got spoiled living on my own. I was used to eating when my body told me to. Here, lunch is 11:00 to 1:00, which is too early. Supper is 4:30-6:00, which works better for me. But until they can fully staff both dining rooms, my ability to go downstairs to get supper in our dining room here will stop when the remodel of Windsong’s dining facility is finished. (Windsong is a separate building a long city block away.) Once Windsong’s dining facility is up and running again, lunch will be served here where I am, but dinner will be served over there. There have already been one or two days when I can barely make it to the refrigerator and back, never mind walk the length of two football fields (there and back) out of doors. I can already tell I’m not bouncing all the way back to normal between cycles, and that’s going to get incrementally worse with each cycle as the toxicity of the chemo drugs wears me down.

I had a care plan meeting about mom yesterday, and I asked about a bill I got for tablet prednisone that she was given in February (first I’d heard about it until I got the bill for it). I know she’s on prednisolone eye drops because of her corneal transplants and she did call last month to ask me the name of her eye doctor, so that’s what I thought it was for until I saw it was tablets. According to the social worker, they were giving it to her because of gout (?!?!?!). I am well aware of her medical condition and she has never been diagnosed with gout before. Turns out the doctor she has now saw her last month and they did lab tests and her uric acid levels were very high (upper limit was 2 something and her levels were 8 something). Apparently, according to her new doctor, hyperuricemia equals gout, and somehow the (now healed) pressure sore she had on her heel was supposed to have been due to gout (it wasn’t) and that’s why they gave her a short course of prednisone. Have they done any more lab test to see if her uric acid levels have come down? No. . . .

This is concerning, not because she now has the questionable diagnosis of “gout,” but because of the event back last July that precipitated this whole chain of events, when CK and I went to her house and found her unconscious and unarousable on the bed. She was dehydrated because she hadn’t been drinking enough water and had gone into kidney failure. Granted, her kidneys are nearly 98 years old, but it doesn’t help that she doesn’t drink nearly enough water because she doesn’t want to have to get up and go to the bathroom. But having to hoist herself up out of her beloved lift chair and walk maybe 10 feet to go potty is eminently preferable to having dialysis catheters surgically implanted in a vein and artery, and being taken in the wheelchair van to a dialysis center three times a week to spend three or four hours lying flat on the bed getting dialysis because you’ve gone into chronic kidney failure. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper, too. Also, there is a form of delirium that is caused by the buildup of toxins in the body as the result of kidney failure. I saw that in the hospital last July. It’s damn scary, if you’ll pardon my Anglo-Saxon. She was so out of it they had to use soft restraints on her and put a security camera on her to keep her from trying to get out of bed, pull her lines off, take her gown off and wander around. Worsening kidney function can also induce or worsen dementia. Granted, she’s nearly 98, her body is wearing out, and some decline in function is to be expected, but she’s also my mother, and I’d just as soon neither of us have to go through another hospitalization like that again, thank you very much.

In the knitting news, ongoing projects are still ongoing.

The hexagon blanket is still hexed. I’ve frogged it yet again and backed off to cogitate on it. I think I may have it sussed now, so will try again. (Attempt #4?) (A few of my collection of knitting bowls.)(There’s at least one by every chair.)

This video, ya’ll. This video is entirely too cool! It has a quiet, solo piano sound track. It’s also 10 hours long, so you could play this on your big screen TV, turn the sound off, and it’d be like having an aquarium. I think I’m going to go get it on my 55-inch TV, turn the sound off and listen to Soma FM’s Drone Zone on my Kindle Fire tablet, and knit. Sit. Breathe. Knit.

Wouldn’t Ya Know . . .

Last night it was blustery all night. I know that for a fact. The Decadron (steroids) I got with my chemotherapy had me bouncing off the walls all night long and I didn’t even bother to go to bed. To finish off this dose of COP, I had to take 5 prednisone (steroids) tablets this morning. With food.

I got a notice yesterday that they will start charging a delivery charge as of 1 April if they bring your food up to your apartment, so I’ve started going down to get it and bringing it back up to eat. (This morning at 7:30 a.m., I hunted down two eggs over easy with hash browns and sausage and brought them back to my burrow for the “with food” so I could take the prednisone.)

When I’m eating under any kind of time constraint I have a tendency to bolt my food down, and always seem to swallow a lot of air in the process. (My stomach be like, “Girl, I am NOT your lungs. I don’t do air. Now I got to sort all that air you swallowed out from all that food you dump-trucked down on me and get it out of my way, and until I do, you get to figure out a lady like-way to burp it all back up. Dang, girl! Slow down!”) When I eat my meals in the apartment, I can graze at will and not worry about how long I’m taking and whether I’m holding up progress for the people who want to clean up after me and get the table set up for the next person, and worry about getting done by 1:00 o’clock when the dining room closes, etc., etc. Besides, I need to stay as active as I can to maintain muscle tone and promote circulation, and not get so debilitated like I did last time and wind up in the hospital again. So I’ll be going down to get my food as much as possible.

Now that I’ve gotten off that tangent, what I was leading up to was the stupid snow squall we had today. (Yes, snow squalls are a thing.) I had to be at the cancer center (JACC) at 11:00 a.m. I knew it was going to be cold because what all that blustering was about last night was a cold front coming through. At 10:30 when I looked at the weather app on my phone to see how much coat, hat and scarf I was going to need, it was 23 F/-5 C, and the app said there was a 90% chance of snow (?!?!) starting at 11:00. I donned outerwear accordingly and headed out.

At JACC, the nurse gave me a handout sheet with all the scoobies about the injection I got today. It’s Udenyca. (which is pegfilgrastim, just like the Neulasta I had in 2018, but it’s new and improved with extra added “-cbqv” (whatever that is), to make it neater, keener, cooler, and less expensive (!) than Neulasta — there’s a refreshing change!)

When I went in the building at 10:50 we were having what I call “sky dandruff” — widely scattered, tiny white bits — not even big enough to qualify as sneet (snow that froze into tiny pellets of sleet on the way down). When I came out at 11:40, this is what I saw:

The driver’s side of my car was facing into the wind and enough of that fluffy, wet snow got plastered on my car that I had to get my scraper out and scrape off my windshield, back window and both driver’s side windows. Because I’m short, I also got snow all over the front of my jacket and on both sleeves up to the elbow. (Stop snickering, you northerners!) (The latitude of my town falls just south of Beirut, Lebanon, and just north north of Baghdad, Iraq. Oddly enough, it doesn’t snow all that much here in the Tx flatlands, which is one of the things I like about living here.) It had quit snowing by the time I got home. The coldest day in weeks, with the first precipitation in over a month, and wouldn’t ya know. Perfectly timed to occur just when I had to get out in it. Grumble . . . grumble . . . grumble. Here directly, I’m going to get into my snuggly bed and sleep til I get hungry or until 11 p.m. (medications), whichever comes first.

On a side note, this is the noisiest refrigerator I think I’ve ever had. Sounds like a cement mixer truck, except when it makes a sound like a sarcastic sheep. And then at random intervals, the Jenga Tower falls over. But to be fair, this is the first time I’ve ever had any kind of a fridge in my “office,” never mind a full-size one — and only about 15 feet away from my desk at that. Ah, well. That’s why God gave us hours of Mozart, Bach and Chopin on keyboards for free on YouTube. And Tuba Skinny. And Bossa Nova jazz. By the sea. Oh, and cordless, Bluetooth earbuds . . . Ooop. There goes the Jenga tower again . . .

Well, Zut alors . . .

I had my visit to the dermatologist Monday, and both he and I agreed that what I was having were some of the milder side effects of bendamustine. However, he could not guarantee that I would not have Stevens-Johnson syndrome , which is life-threatening, if hit with another dose of same. Therefore, my oncologist is going to switch to cyclophosphamide, vincristine and prednisone. I’ve had those before too. That’s when half my hair fell out and I ended up in hospital with pneumonia (and was on “portable” oxygen for a month after that!). So, next Thursday, I get labs, see the oncologist and then get my chemo. I get to come back the next day to get the hormone that keeps my white blood cells from bottoming out.

Right now, I’m kind of bummed, because one of the other possible side effects of vincristine besides hair loss is that it can cause nerve damage (neuropathy), leading to numbness, tingling, or even pain in the hands and feet.  Fair warning. Numbness of the fingers makes it hard to type. (Or do anything else with my hands, like knit. . .) Numbness of the feet makes it tricky to walk and puts me at fall risk.

Another concern is the oral prednisone I will be taking. Prednisone is a steroid. Long-term steroid use causes thinning of the bone (osteoporosis). Osteoporosis and a fall risk. Whoopeee!

Yesterday’s supper, dunk salad with beef and cheese sandwich.

In the knitting news, the Savannah Square out of Malabrigo Mechita is at 13 inches from center to corner, so halfway there. I started the second skein last night. The hexagonal baby afghan continues apace. I knitted it onto a longer needle Tuesday. If I’m going to lose all my hair, maybe I need to rummage about and find some nice cotton yarn to make a hat out of, and a nice hat pattern . . . Sigh.

A Little Spontenaiety, and 4, and . . . .

On a whim, and a very small one at that, shortly after I posted yesterday’s post, I packed up and went to the Market Street on Indiana and 50th, on a Saturday, and there was a Goodwill Truck in the parking lot! So, yay! I offloaded donations, Goodwill made out like a bandit, and I was a happy camper. I was limited to three grocery bags, because that’s all I can carry free-hand, and my car trunk and back seat were so loaded down with Goodwill donations, there was no place to put my little fold-up wagon to take anything more than that back up to the apt.

I was proud of myself. Little bag of baby carrots, bag of cored apple sections, two bunches of green onions, container of cantaloupe chunks, and a small bottle of the best Ranch dressing ever, Litehouse Homestyle Ranch which is thick enough to either dip or dress. Got some mixed nuts, two big bottles of peach juice, some broiled chicken wings, fried okra, some lunch meat, couple loafs of their great specialty bread. And for “tea,” I had half the fried okra, a dinner plate with a small handful of carrots, five little green onions, a handful of apple sections, a couple of chunks of cantalope, and a little sauce dish of Ranch to dip. A DIY salad. Yum! (The green onions were peppery and good!)

Maybe later today I’ll load up the drawer bin units in my wagon and take them down to my car and try for another run on Monday because my spontaneous Saturday grocery run was listless and I forgot a few things as a result. Crystal Light for one thing. I’m getting to the middle of this cycle where I’m starting to bounce back from the chemo and get some energy back.

Once I get the empty bin drawer units out of the way, that will only leave the two boxes. It will open the place up more and leave me with one last push to get everything unpacked. In the meantime, I might tackle the tchotchke shelves, which only need sorting and arranging artfully to display the collection of Chinese cloisonne mom and I have accumulated over the years, as well as some treasured pieces of blue and white, my teacup collection and what have you.

In the meantime, I’ve been listening to a traditional jazz band called Tuba Skinny (just go to YouTube and search for “Tuba Skinny”) It has a lineup of clarinet, cornet, trombone, a singer who plays the bass drum she sits on, two acoustic guitars or guitar and banjo, percussion of washboard and cymbals, and a for-real Sousaphone style tuba. They play early jazz from the Roaring Twenties, the jazz that gave the Jazz Age it’s name. It was the heyday of F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway in Paris. What was left of the Lost Generation, the generation that had survived WWI, kicked up their heels and partied hearty for a whole decade. This is the musical setting for the Bertie Wooster and Jeeves stories of P. G. Wodehouse that have been so exquisitely portrayed by the young Hugh Laurie as Bertie and Stephen Fry as the inimitable Jeeves in the BBC dramatizations. The print stories are now in the public domain and can be acquired for free from Project Gutenberg, or from your preferred purveyor of digital content for free or really cheap. The 1920’s were the dawn of the modern era. Our modern world has its roots there.

If you haven’t figured out by now I have pretty catholic (2) tastes in music — in fact, I’ve rarely met a musical genre I haven’t liked — yep. My first exposure to this music was in my childhood and TV’s — which happened to coincide. This would have been in the mid 1950’s. One of our two local TV stations broadcast old movie cartoons from the early 1930s through the early 1950s. They were cheap, readily available and were “socially acceptable” content for that awkward part of the afternoon between the kids getting home from school and dad getting home from work, that 3:30-5:30 pm time slot when mom needed the kids out of her hair while she was cooking supper and getting it on the table by 6 pm. The assumption was that kids and cartoons were a “natural.” What nobody seemed to have realized at the time was that these cartoons were aimed at adults, the demographic that bought movie tickets and took their girls and wives out to the movies in the evening for a short, a news real, a cartoon and a feature film. They had a level of sophistication and assumed a common cultural context that gave them meat and depth, wit and sparkle. And the ones from the early thirties (the Harmon-Ising “Merrie Melodies“) frequently were themed around popular tunes of the day, and they were in this “Trad Jazz” style. This was the golden age of the animated cartoon — Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes and the later Merrie Melodies, vintage Fleischer Popeye the Sailor, Woody Woodpecker and Tom and Jerry. As an uncritical child, I took them in at face value, and as I rewatched them over the years, I would grow into them, bringing my increasing knowledge of historical context, life in general, and experience to bear, and “get” more and more of the gags that had gone over my head as a child.

Anyway, grooving to Tuba Skinny makes me smile, and I need all the smiles I can get. Feel free to get you some, too.

Flaked and Sneeted

It was supposed to snow last night. Didn’t. Waited until I was out driving around today to flake in a rather desultory fashion, with a little sneet thrown in for flinching. Wasn’t cold enough for it to stick, thankfully, but it was cold enough — in the high 20’s F/-2+C all day. It was that wet-shock cold like stepping out of a long hot shower into air-conditioning set at “large men in suits and ties.”

Monday, I got a copy of my PET scan. Yep. Quite a little tumor burden you’ve got there, toots. No wonder I’m so tired all the time. Tuesday, I washed two loads of clothes, worked out a way to start a semicircular shawl without using a garter tab (it uses Turkish cast on)(there’s advanced-knitter knitting and then there’s knitting-geek knitting . . .), finished blocking shawl #3 and blocked shawl #4,

and put away the folding banquet table, blocking tiles, felt pad, steam iron, etc. (Did you know there are channels on YouTube that have like 7-8 hours’ worth of all different kinds of very nice music? God, I love rechargeable Bluetooth earbuds!)

I saw the cardiologist this morning. He used to have office space actually in the hospital; you had to park in the hospital parking garage and then make this “better pack a lunch and take a map and compass” hike to get to his office. He has new office space across the street now which is at ground level and has a parking lot right beside the building, which is such a relief. We fist bumped, touched bases and I got a hug out of the deal. He has a great “bedside manner” for any doctor, never mind a cardiologist.

I had to check mail and mail mom’s PEO dues before I went to the cardiologist, and wasn’t forethoughtful, so after I made my Walmart run, I had to come all the way up to the apt to get my wagon, go all the way back down to the car to load it up, and haul my goodies all the way back up. Sigh.

This afternoon, one of the movers brought the containers to pack my books, so I have that to do. (I haven’t gotten the keys yet. Haven’t moved anything yet. Haven’t packed anything yet.) Changed out of my good top and put on a well-worn fleece tunic top after I got home (which I don’t care if I dribble spinach dip on) which helped to thaw me out. The electricity was flickering on and off earlier this afternoon (I’d be willing to bet that pickups and telephone poles figured into it somehow), but they seem to have sorted that out. There are some navy beans that have been calling my name all afternoon and I put off heating them up because of the electricity shenanigans, but here directly, I’ll go see what they want. There’s some wild rice with mushrooms in there, too. Also a pair of tuna salad sandwiches. I may make another travel mug’s worth of hot tea and do some serious noshing.

I have this thing where I make tuna salad sandwiches, wrap them in cling wrap, and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight before I eat them. (I’m on the spectrum. Quirks come with the territory. Some are backed by sense or logic; some, like that one, spring forth fully formed like Athena from my neurodiverse little noggin.)(A logical quirk is if I’m making a lunch meat sandwich with cheese, I always put the cheese on first and put the rest of the cheese away before I even get into the lunch meat. If I get into the meat first, then I’m handling cheese, part of which is going back in the package, with meat juice on my fingers. It’s called hygiene.)

The packers are coming tomorrow to pack the dishes. I’ll be packing books tomorrow, too. Hopefully I’ll get my keys tomorrow and I can start moving things over. I’ve got four days to pull this whole move thing off and I really need to stick the landing.

Things be fixin’ to get busy . . . .