Because Prednisone

I periodically like to point out odd quirks in the evolution of our native tongue, Ameriglish. Back when people studied English grammar instead of “Language Arts” in school, they were taught that there is this grammar thing called “a state of being.” It is an either/or concept. You are either in that state of being or not; when a thing changes from being to not being (or vice versa), you “become.” “Extinction” is a case in point. A new example of this I have run across is “pregnancy.”

Gratuitous picture of a faun on a unicorn from The Day of the Unicorn ©2022 by Manuel Arenas

I mention this because sometime between when I attended school during the previous century (The 1960’s. Yeah. That was last century.) and the current time, “extinction” mysteriously transmogrified from a state of being to a destination. Nowadays things go extinct. T. rex has left the building. And lately, I’ve noticed that pregnancy has undergone a similar and mystifying change to I’m not sure what. Nowadays women don’t become pregnant, they fall pregnant — Is that like if a woman doesn’t fall off the bed while having sex, she won’t become pregnant!? (Or, what is much worse, is pregnancy now like falling from a higher state to a lower state, like a fall from grace?!?!)

And prepositions. Prepositions are being quietly murdered and replaced by imposters! Things used to happen “by” accident. But “by” was disappeared and quietly replaced by “on” and now we are supposed to just accept that now things happen “on” accident. No. Just, no.

These few examples are just the tip of the iceberg, folks (another of those pesky non-gendered collective nouns!) A great iceberg of a conspiracy between the American public education system and those Millennials to corrupt our mother tongue.

I mean, Millennials are always being problematic. They even chose a problematic name. First off, it’s a booger to spell. (Aren’t two “L’s” and two “N’s” a bit too, Snowflake?) (And even when you spell it right, it looks wrong.)

Gratuitous picture of a faun on a unicorn from The Day of the Unicorn ©2022 by Manuel Arenas

To be fair, though, one notable contribution to the language the Twitter-pated have made is the “because (noun)” construction. It’s a kind of linguistic shorthand for condensing a long convoluted explanation or long list of reasons or justifications into a very brief synopsis (a Tweet is limited to 140 characters), to save space, time, and/or character count, and not occasionally to level up the irony or sarcasm. Whence the title of this post. This is my brain on a whacking great dose (100 mg) of prednisone. Going 90 mph(145 kph) in second gear. For, literally, days.

(Left turn into a brick wall at race-track speeds segue) So today my 5 tabs of prednisone was the chaser to a bag of rrrrRuffles Cheese and Sour Cream potato chips (rrrrRuffles have rrrrridges!). Cushioning my tum with food first seemed like a good idea at the time — right up until it got to the part about available food choices. (Knocking back a handful of prednisone on an empty stomach is like that first part of the roller coaster ride where the chain is ratcheting you up that really high, really steep hill, and you know you’re not getting off until the ride’s over.)

(No segue at all) In previous posts, I have mentioned the eclectic assortment of gratuitous sound effects my apartment is subjected to at inopportune moments, like the morning jog of the garbage cans to the dumpsters and back. Since I live near the Marsha Sharp raceway, on weekends, we typically have scattered motorcycle attempts at land speed records, particularly in the early morning hours, with a chance of low-flying helicopters. (I live within four miles of three tertiary care hospitals and a level I trauma center, three of which have helipads.) But this Saturday, at about 7:00 a.m., we had a rude awakening. The cover spontaneously fell off the (not so) mini-split in the front room beside my desk.

It made a noise like a giant hubcap being tossed like a Frisbee onto concrete. I was sound asleep at the time, but I am proud to say I calmly peeled myself off the ceiling, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Unflappableness. I haz it.

Somewhat later, at a more seemly hour (11:00 o’clock), I got on the phone to the front desk and called in a maintenance strike, and today while I was having fun with needles and plastic tubing at JACC, Care Bud the Maintenance Man put humpty-bumpty back together again. I am curious to know what the lady in the apartment below thought had caused that noise. It was so loud that I’m a little surprised that Security didn’t shortly thereafter come knocking on my door to politely inquire if my mobility issues were experiencing technical difficulties. (Or if I’d lost the stone out of my diamond ring or something . . .)

Was texting with my BFF Sunday, and humorously remarked about my problems with knitting with a long circular needle while watching YouTube videos on my tablet while in bed, and having video interrupted because the needle cable hit the tablet and started some random video playing. She texted back that the transmission on her car had self-destructed in the middle of the drive home from work, she had to have it towed, and now she is damned if she does have to spend big buck$ to get the tran$mi$$ion replaced and damned if she doesn’t have a ride to work. She only just recently found out (a) she’d had a heart attack at some point, probably last January when she blacked out and did a standing face plant in a parking lot, and (b) that she has foot drop because of nerve damage from the ankle she broke years ago, and has tripped and fallen badly several times since then because of it (She is a self-deprecator because issues, so she just assumed she was clumsy and was tripping over her own feet.) (Speaking of heroes preemptively beating the crap out of themselves . . .) Giving emotional support over the phone is about as easy as giving technical support over the phone and, unfortunately, just about as effective. Remote hugs are rubbish. She lives northwest of Houston, and there’s like 600 miles of TX between us. My arms aren’t that long. Sigh.

Oh. And because I am bouncing off the walls at the moment, this non sequitur is for the orthographically challenged: If the spell check/auto-correct function highlights as misspelled a word that is a simple plural or has a suffix or prefix, the root word may not actually be misspelled. Insert a space between the word and the simple plural (simple plurals add -s or -es to form the plural) or between the suffix (-ly, -ment, -ness, -able, etc.) or prefix (un-, dis-, re-, in-, non-, etc.) and the root word. If the word is still highlighted as misspelled, then it probably is. Spell checker/auto-correct glossaries take up RAM. Therefore many such glossaries only include the most commonly used prefixed and/or suffixed forms of the most commonly used words, and the variant prefix/suffix/plural forms (the exceptions to the basic spelling rules), and do not include the simple plurals. (duh!) E.g., In the paragraphs above, spell check recognized “millennial” as spelled correctly, but not “millennials” and recognized “flappable” and “unflappable” as spelled correctly, but not “unflappableness.”

Stopping now. Must correct misspelled name in the previous post.

Feetnotes: 
* Taking a "bolus dose" of medication is like chugging multiple shots of alcohol all at once.  Only with alcohol, the articulated lorry hits you head-on at 90 mph(145 kph); with prednisone, the eighteen-wheeler only grazes you close enough to snag your suspenders(braces**) on the wing mirror.  At 90 mph(145 kph). 
**this is a British English inclusive and metric-inclusive blog. Bite me. 

One More Time . . .

Mom’s 98th Birthday was yesterday. Her dear friend CK organized the cake and goodies, and got the activities room on her floor at Carillon set up. I got her a new top and some clip on ear-rings (she’s let her holes close)(just as well). There were over 20 of her friends present, including her nephew and niece-in-law from NM. Mom has been working with her walker (and I have a sneaking suspicion that said dear friend may have put a bug in her ear), and she very proudly walked from her room up the hall and around the corner and into the room, making quite a grand entrance. (She did forget to put on her shoes, though!)

The activities director decorated the room so nicely, and there was cake and ice cream and punch. She had asked that there be no gifts, but evidently edibles are not considered “gifts” — she got candy and munchies galore. She had great fun opening all her cards and visiting with friends.

Mom has made friends with the young son of one of the activities ladies who came to work with his mom over the summer holidays, visited and made friends with mom and the others on her floor. He still often comes by after school to spend time with his new friends. He got out of school early so he could attend her party! He has made several pictures for her and they have become great friends. He had his heely shoes on, which students are allowed to wear in school!

Because my oncologist “threw in” an extra week between my treatments, the treatment that was scheduled for the 19th was moved to the 26th, and I was able to attend mom’s party (so long as I behaved myself and kept my mask on).

I went over early and got to help decorate and set things up, and serve goodies and visit with folks. It’s the first time I’ve been able to go over there since the end of January when I started treatment. It was a chance to see people I haven’t seen in a while, including my cousin and his wife.

Happy but pooped, the birthday girl took a post-party nap. (and so did I!)

I picked up mail on the way back including some Nivea skin cream I ordered for mom off Amazon (the local Walgreen’s was out and back-ordered). I had turned her on to it a while back and she loves it as much as I do.

I had supper when I got back and crashed out at 6 p.m. (!) Of course, then I woke up at 2 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep until after 4 a.m. As I start my last(!) cycle of chemo Monday, I had some errands to run today. There’s this nail salon I’ve been going to for years now. I went there today just to get my toenails cut — no spa treatment or pedicure, or anything, just a cut. I’ve pretty much given up trying to cut them myself. For one thing, there’s too much me in the way, and for another, I don’t seem to have enough pinch strength in my hands (or else my toenail clipper isn’t sharp enough) to cut my big toe nails. Anyway, as I was coming along 50th Street to where the nail salon is, I noticed that there was a Goodwill truck in the Market Street parking lot across the street (which there hasn’t been for months!). I swooped in and emptied my trunk of three trash bags full of items which have become “surplus to requirement” since I moved.

And speaking of moving, I realized the other day that 1 September marked my one-year anniversary of living here at Pointe Plaza. I did change apartments in January when mom moved over to Carillon House and I moved to a 1-bedroom. At the time I moved, only three of the six apartments in this hallway were occupied. Then my next door neighbor slid off the couch one time too many while trying to stand up and was moved to assisted living, and the lady at the end of the hall (aged 98) had to have emergency (damned if you do/damned if you don’t) gallbladder surgery and didn’t make it, and there were just two of us.

Then, three weeks ago, we were besieged by power tools for over a week while the renovators got the apartment across the hall (which I had been shown, but didn’t take) ready for occupancy. Took him three days to move in (rumble rumble bang bang). Then just as things were calming down, an army of renovators and carpet layers occupied the apartment next door and we had a brisk couple of days of heavy hammering. Now she’s finally all moved in (rumble rumble bang bang).

What makes all this activity even more fun is that stuff (like flooring, carpet, furniture and household goods) goes in and out of this floor via the freight elevator at the end of the hall one load at a time. And every time the elevator doors close, they make this CLANG! noise like whacking the side of a 500 gallon propane storage tank with a 10-pound sledge hammer — and if the elevator foyer door is open (which it invariably is), you can hear it clear to the other (my) end of the hall through closed doors (or at least I can). This might explain why the other apartment at that end of the hall has remained unoccupied for years now.

I will also report that I have finally (mostly) succeeded in teaching myself to sleep through the daily rolling of the trash cans from the kitchens to the dumpster which kicks off smartly at 8:30 every morning, passes en route through the doors right across the patio from my window and proceeds up the concrete walkway between the two buildings (and back again).

I’ve been pretty much resting up for my last go-round with chemo, which is Monday. I’ve been doing some knitting, but mostly I’ve been reading. I re-re-reread Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon. Every bit as satisfying a read as the other two times I’ve read them. I read them practically back to back. They are not the first two novels that were written in the Liaden Universe/Clan Korval series, but they are the first two in terms of internal chronology. So if you want to begin at the beginning, so to speak, read those two books in that order, as they are the stories of the four founders of Clan Korval and how it came to be founded: The genetically engineered soldier M. Jela Granthorn’s Guard, spaceship pilots Cantra yos’Phelium and Tor An yos’Galan, and the sentient tree.

I kinda want to read up onto Seanan McGuire’s new October Daye book that just came out, but it’s the 16th in the series (and reading 16 books in a row is a serious time commitment). (Goals. I haz ’em.) McGuire does write herself some serious page-turners, but she is so hard on her protagonist. Beats the crap out of the poor girl physically and emotionally every durn book. I’m not sure I’m up for sixteen straight books of that just right now. I might read up onto the latest Murderbot book by Martha Wells, which I’ve just gotten. There’s only six of them in the series. But I’ve gotten some other new books I might read.

Or I might just sit and knit and listen to music. Or not.

Gratuitous picture of a faun and a unicorn from The Day of The Unicorn ©2022 by Manuel Arenas

What We Have Here Is A Failure to Communicate . . .

This is a first: The first time I’ve posted from the little reconditioned HP laptop I got. Frustrating. I’m used to a large gamer keyboard and this jicky little keyboard is a PITA. If I situate it in my lap, where I can reach the keyboard, I can barely read the screen. I already knew from using my BFF’s laptop that I hate touch pads, so I got an “el cheapo” wireless mouse and a mousepad, but there’s hardly any room for it on the little lap desk. Yeah. I know. First world problems.

Anyway, the failure to communicate mentioned above reared its ugly head yesterday after I’d gotten my labs drawn and my port accessed and was in my oncologist’s office. Turns out this is my fourth session of Rituxan (he counted) and not my fifth (I miscounted; chemo brain strikes again), which means I still have two chemo sessions to go, which means I’ll be having my last chemo session in September right around the time of mom’s 98th birthday (the 23rd). The degree of bummer-tude of this development will depend upon how far into September that last session falls, as my white blood cell count needs at least a week to recover from the preceding chemo session before I’ll even risk removing my mask, never mind be among a group of people of unknown COVID status. My sessions are three weeks apart. My penultimate session is 29 August and three weeks from that is 19 September. I can ask my oncologist if I can have an extra week between the last two sessions so I will be four weeks out from my last chemo instead of four days. He’s done it before. I bet I can sweet talk him into doing it again.

The best development out of this very mixed bag is that I have a chin again. The lymphomas in my neck had gotten so large you could barely tell where the bottom of my jaw was. But they have all shrunk drastically and those lymph nodes are back to normal size, which means I’m showing a good response to the chemo regimen. It will take a CT scan to check the response of the rest of the lymphomas in my chest and abdomen which he will probably order when I’ve completed all six of my treatments in September.

My chemo infusion went OK and I got the Udenyca shot this afternoon to boost white blood cell production and get my white count back up to normal. I gained seven pounds between Sunday night and Monday night, all of it from the chemo regimen. I get the decadron and anti-nausea medication in 0.25 liter of IV fluid, followed by the Rituxan diluted in a full liter of IV fluid, followed by 0.25 liter of IV fluid to flush the line, followed by the cyclophosphamide diluted in a full liter of fluid, followed by 0.25 liter of line flushing, which is 2.75 liters of fluid over the course of about four hours, plus the 32-ounce stainless steel bottle full of Crystal Light I sucked down between yesterday and today. A liter bottle of soda weighs 2.2 pounds, so imagine having three of them strapped to you. I lost 2 pounds between last night and tonight, but my poor little kidneys are having a hard time keeping up. I don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow so tomorrow morning, I’m going to take a Lasix (“water pill”) and see if I can’t get my legs emptied out. (I should have spent yesterday evening and the rest of this afternoon and evening in bed with my feet elevated instead of sitting at my desk puttering on the computer.

I saw my cardiologist this morning and he said my oncologist was concerned about me, so the cardiologist wants to do a stress test — not the treadmill thing, but what they call a chemical stress test. His office is used to dealing with the VA, and they will set it all up and let me know when. I’ll have to get a ride because I can’t drive myself home after it, but Carillon provides rides to and from doctor’s appointments at no charge. I just have to give them 24 hours notice.

Saturday, I spent the afternoon downloading the requisite drivers (software) for my little Epson printer from Epson’s website onto the new computer so it could talk to my printer and I could scan financial and bank statements to the computer that has working email and email them to Mom to keep her up to speed. (Gmail won’t run right on my old computer since Google stopped supporting Windows 7 — Google is the “G” in “Gmail — which is why I got the new computer in the first place. The setting up of the software was a fairly straightforward process, but getting the computer and printer to talk to each other was tricky and expletives (and more than a few pejoratives) were not deleted!.

Among the groceries I got Monday was one of Market Street’s fruit bowls — the one I got had chunks of cantaloupe and honey dew melons, chunks of pineapple, a handful of raspberries, a couple blackberries, a handful of blueberries and a couple grapes. It’s a big enough bowl that you can get two servings out of it. I supplemented that with some cherry tomatoes cut in half and some whole black olives. I had the second serving tonight likewise supplemented, and as a side to a brisket sandwich on a big ciabatta roll which I’d already inhaled half of before I could get the camera app on my iPhone limbered up. Copious nums.

I had been using a gamer chair with a foot rest, a birthday present in 2020, as my computer chair. The desk I was using at the time was on casters, so it didn’t matter that the gamer chair wasn’t. I could just sit down and pull the desk up as close as it needed to be.

After I moved to Carillon, I had to get a longer desk so I would have a place to put my printer. I was putting it on my filing cabinet, but when I moved to the smaller apartment, there was no way I could get the filing cabinet close enough to a plug to continue doing that. This new longer desk doesn’t have castors and it was very difficult to get in or out of the gamer chair if it was too close to the desk. Unfortunately, “too close” was not close enough. So I got a desk chair with casters. It is also higher than the gamer chair, which puts my shoulders and forearms at a more comfortable angle when I’m keyboarding and mousing.

I’d gotten in the habit of just swiveling the chair around to the side to get in or out of it. I’m having to learn to roll the new one back back from the desk before trying to get out of it. I’m going to list the old chair on Craig’s List and see if I can’t sell it to offset the cost of the new chair (which wasn’t all that much, really).

In the knitting news, my dive into my button stash proved bootless, so I swung by a local fabric store on the way home from JACC and picked up what I needed. I’ve finished the little baby top. I just need to weave in ends and sew on buttons and it’s done. I’m at the heel increases on the second matching bootie and the crown decreases on the little sun hat. I’d like to get this stuff in the mail by the end of the week and get it out of my hair. I’ve got until Thanksgiving to finish the little red dress(es). I’m thinking I’ll have enough yarn for a little matching red headband with two crocheted holly leaves in the green yarn, and some red shanked buttons for berries to decorate the headband. or else I could just do the holly leaves and button berries as a kind of removable corsage that could be safety pinned to the front of the dress for Christmas, and removed later.

However, in the several matters mentioned above, the plan is that bridges will be crossed when come to.

The first season of Neil Gaiman’s dramatization of his “Sandman” graphic novels dropped on 5 August on Netflix (early reviews are that it sticks very close to the novels, has a brilliant cast and is visually fabulous) and I still haven’t watched season 2 of The Witcher (Henry Cavill!). I may be crossing The Bridge over the River BingeWatch after a certain package gets posted. Not to mention the Bridge of TV Knitting . . .

Here We Go Again

Important news first. Mom’s second COVID test was negative.

The fifth of six sessions of Rituxan starts tomorrow bright and early at 8 AM. With any luck I’ll be out before six, but not much before. I get the WBC booster shot Tuesday and then three sessions of hydration. Then I’ll have only one more to go.

I’ve got a load of sheets and towels in the wash, and after them will be a load of clothes. I need to get something to eat, too.

Friday I did all my running around. I got my refill of prednisone. I got my hair trimmed, which means I had about an inch whacked off the back along the back of my neck, and the rest of it just trimmed to even it out. I’m working toward getting it all one length. Until it’s long enough to go into a ponytail, it’s going to be a PITA. And, I got some groceries. Since they stopped making my favorite flavor of BodyArmor, I’ve quit drinking it. (So there!) I did get some peach flavor frozen things on a stick, though, which helps with the heat.

We’ve been having raisin weather again (still, actually) — high 90’s F/35+ C at around 30-40% humidity. The heat just sucks you dry. (You’re a grape til you walk out the door . . .)

They were supposed to get the AC fixed downstairs last week. It’s still not back up. Hopefully, they’ll get it up soon. Of course, the time to get the AC fixed is in winter; now that we’re in the dog days of summer, everybody and his cousin wants their AC worked on. Don’t know if that’s the delay or what. All the business offices have relocated to vacant apartments for the duration and are scattered all over the building. You can tell the moment you get into the hallway by the mail room. The temperature goes up about 10 degrees. Like walking into an oven.

In the knitting news, I have a bootie and a fourth done, and about ten more rows on the little top they match. I’ll likely finish the top while I’m infusing tomorrow, and the bootie won’t take that much time. That and finishing a hat will complete the haul for the new little 1st cousin 2x removed and I’ll get it in the mail. Finally. The baby was born 22 July. I really need to get it in the mail.

The yarn I’m using for this is cotton, and it is the split-y-est yarn I’ve ever worked with. It’s spun as a single ply from what is essentially cotton thread. Glad I’ve almost used it up. Gotta hit the button stash to see if I have the right buttons. I need three.

I’ve got the last load in the washer and it just has to go through the dryer and get hung up/folded and it’s beddy-boo for yrs trly.

Two Good Things

The first good thing is that Mom’s first COVID test was negative. (Please let it stay that way!)

The other good thing concerns this bright orange cable that had been run from an outlet in my bedroom, under my bedroom door, and around the corner to my TV. As I noted earlier, the only cable outlet in the main room of my apartment is (a) beside the front door, (b) across from one of the two large windows in the room and (c) behind my china cabinet.

In order to connect my TV to the cable and internet service, I would have had to move a large china cabinet and otherwise rearrange the furniture to put my 55-inch TV opposite two large windows, or run a cable from the outlet in my bedroom under the bedroom door and around the corner. There had been a work order to relocate the outlet in my bedroom since mid April, and I had been dealing with this large orange cable getting caught in the door to the bedroom and garishly presenting a trip hazard on the way to the bathroom since then.

Thursday, when I went down to get the mail I happened to see what looked like workmen in the hallway by the pool working on something electrical in the men’s changing room. I asked one of them if they handled moving cable outlets and explained the situation to him. He said they didn’t handle that kind of thing, but that I should put in a work order. I explained I had put in a work order months ago (April). He said he’d look into it.

Yesterday morning, bright and early, there was a plong on the doorbell. Fortunately, I was up and dressed because it was a pair of workmen come to see what the situation was with the cable. I showed them the situation, they went to get some tools and materials, and this was the upshot. They dropped a connection from the hallway through the ceiling inside the coat closet (out of frame to the left) and ran it through a hole in the wall.

Then they cut pieces of this plastic cord cover stuff, stuck it to the wall and ran the cable through it along the top of the door facing, down the side of the door, and along the baseboard until it could disappear behind the book case (out of frame to the right). It’s not the most elegant solution to the problem, but it works for me. Now if I could just get decent internet service (21 mbps download, 2.1 mbps upload, and stuttering service) through it. I’m so sick of seeing that little circle chase its tail when I’m trying to stream something. . .

Very Unwelcome News

This morning, I was knitting and listening to some Vivaldi piano sonatas (as you do), when the phone rang. It was the nurse on Mom’s wing at Carillon House calling to tell me that Mom had been exposed to COVID. Apparently, the lady who does hair at both Carillon House and here at Pointe Plaza tested positive for COVID, and Mom gets her hair done every week. They are going to put Mom in the quarantine unit for five days. She’ll be tested before she goes into quarantine and again before she comes out.

This comes on top of my BFF who lives NW of Houston having had COVID two weeks ago and being sick like a bad case of the flu. They gave her medications, she quarantined for the obligatory five days, and now she’s back to work.

Because of her severe kyphoscoliosis, Mom has significantly restricted lung function and a reduced ability to clear her lungs by coughing (which puts her at high risk for pneumonia), not to mention that she’ll be 98 this September. She’s already had a case of “walking” pneumonia this year necessitating antibiotics.

This is all very frustrating for me because I can’t do anything about it. Between my lymphoma and the chemotherapy, my immune system is a shambles. I can’t even go in Carillon House (because that’s where the COVID quarantine unit is), let alone visit her. I don’t dare. All I can do is wait and pray.

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 . . .

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.

Hanging Fire

Had my sandwich, had my dunk salad (half an apple, handful of baby carrots and five cherry tomatoes cut in half), had my ‘zert — cherry vanilla Haagen-Dazs (!), sitting here piddling at the computer, listening to somebody else’s Steely Dan playlist with four windows open on one claustrophobic monitor screen (YouTube on Firefox playing Steely Dan, a folder of writing and the piece I’m working on, and Chrome with this window open). I’m still straddling computers (the new one’s still on the table with the other of my two monitors). I have moved some stuff but there’s humpty eleven things still to move, including all my fonts. A Steely Dan song “Glamour Profession” which I hadn’t heard before, was playing just now, and I swear I distinctly heard the name Rudy Charisma in the lyrics. But, when I looked them up, nope! Still, it’s a great name, and I know whom I’m going to tease by calling them that . . .

Five down, one to go. June 23. The last round — for a while anyway. Another 3-1/2 years would be fine by me.

This time through I gained 6 pounds between Wednesday and Friday, all of it from the IV fluids. I’ve got one more fluid bolus tomorrow, and about two weeks to get rid of all of it before the “one more time.”

All I want to do is lie in the bed with my feet up reading or watching YouTube videos or sleeping. Friday evening, I finally crashed from all the prednisone at about 10 pm and slept until 4 o’clock Saturday afternoon (occasionally surfacing briefly to offload, before submerging back into the depths). And dreaming at about 90 miles an hour. (I’d push myself awake through the cobwebs of some of the strangest dreams and waddle off to the en suite wondering, where did that come from?) I get so much fluid so fast that I’m in borderline fluid overload for days until my poor kidneys can catch up. The slightest exertion makes me puff and blow like a steam locomotive (I think I can–I think I can–I think I can –), not because I’m breathless — my oxygen saturation is over 95% most of the time — but because fluid is backing up into my lungs. It’s like being in congestive heart failure but there’s nothing wrong with my heart. It was worse this time than last time. I couldn’t walk 30 yards without having to stop and get my breath. One more time. I can make it one more time.

Needless to say, walking to and from the car and back to the apartment just wears me out because I have no energy. My table is still sitting in the box. The plants are un-repotted. I’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes I need to wash, and a load of laundry to do, but I’m not doing any of it right this now. I have a bad case of mañana. I don’t even have the energy to care.

I’ve switched over to listening to somebody’s YouTube playlist of Fleetwood Mac now. Instead of setting up the new computer on the dining table, what I should have done was moved my tissue dispenser, put the tower there, and just switched the one monitor over. I’d still have to juggle mice and keyboards, but I could do everything from my desk. I may still move it over, because I really need to get switched over. Google has now started not letting Windows Live Mail sign into my personal email address either. And I keep getting this “Please sign in” popup like every 15 minutes. You put in the right password and it just blows you off, tells you it’s the wrong password and wants you to sign in again and it’s driving me crazy.

For those who have just tuned in, a word of explanation about the playa lakes we have in our parks here in town. We only average about 16 inches of rain here, but we get it in big gobs. A thunderstorm will roll through and drop up to an inch in about thirty minutes. It’s gotta go somewhere. The city has put in storm drains and run pipe to discharge this runoff into the playa lakes dotted about the city. They’ve set up pumps at the lakes so they can adjust the water levels in the lakes and spread the load as the town is big enough that one part can get more rain than another. Because we get so much so fast, intersections and underpasses can become impassible because of the storm runoff in as little as fifteen minutes (except the stupid pickups that have the ground clearance to just roar on through and drown out people’s car engines with their waves). (Like bratty four-year-old boys stomping in puddles to splash everybody.) You can’t swim in the lakes; they’re too full of algae and probably contain broken glass. They’re mostly for the local and migratory waterfowl and the Canada geese, and the city keeps ducks and some “regular” geese out on them during the summer. They’re nice to look at, too.

In the knitting news, there is knitting news, but not much.

I finally finished the baby blanket. It still needs to be blocked. I haven’t started on the dress yet. The yarn is all caked up, I’ve got the needles out, I have the ‘structions printed out all in a plastic baggie ready to go, but I’m still waiting for a few more brain cells to report for duty. The three currently on shift are pooped.