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. 

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 . . .

Dive! Dive!

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

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

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

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

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

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

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Got an email today from Google advising me that as of May of this year, Gmail will quit working with both Mailwasher and Windows 7. Chrome will quit working with Windows 7 in 2023. I’ve had the automatic updates on Firefox turned off for years now so it will continue to work with NewsFox, which is the feed reader that displays blogs and webcomics in the format I prefer. Of course, Firefox doesn’t work with WordPress anymore either, and I’ve been having to blog and pay bills on Chrome for over a year now because I can’t access the websites on my un-updated Firefox anymore. (Gmail will also quit working with Mom’s Kindle Fire tablet in May, too, but that’s easier to fix — I just download the Google Play app and get it to play nice with the Kindle tablet, and then download a Gmail app from Google Play.) (And then teach Mom how to use it.)

What you’d think is that I could just get Windows 11 and load it on the computer I have (and then spend months cleaning up the mess and trying to get everything to work) and that would fix everything, except my computer won’t run Windows 10 or 11. I don’t have the right graphics card and I don’t have the right processor. Yeah, I could take it in and pay about $300 to get those things switched out and then pay around $110 to buy Windows 11 and fork out another $149 to get Word and Excel, and then have to deal with the mess Windows 11 would make because so many of the programs I know and love won’t run on Windows 11. The easier (on me) option would be to just get a new computer with Windows 11 already loaded on it and pay $149 for Office Suite, and take it from there. We’re talking probably $600 all told.

Like I needed one more thing to bum me out. I have a legacy version of Winamp with playlists set up of music I’ve downloaded, and presets to play all my internet radio stations through Winamp instead of through my browser. I will have to re-set up all my banking apps and bill paying apps. All my writing is on Word 2010 (32-bit version) and I would have to convert all my files. And not to put too fine a point on things, by May I will have a big case of chemo brain. I’m not a gamer. All I use my computer for is reading/writing blogs and my creative writing, watching YouTube and paying bills. I don’t need a big fancy computer, and I don’t want a laptop. Thank goodness I got two new monitors not too long ago which also have HDMI connections as well as VGA connections as the new computers don’t have VGA monitor connectors on them.

Our friend CK just texted me that mom has somehow gotten her cell phone set on vibrate only and can’t figure out how to turn the ringer back on. This is something you can’t talk her through over the phone. I have the manual, but that would be no help to her. The easiest thing is to just fix it for her, but I can’t go over there. Fortunately, one of the aids fixed it for her. My mom and technology are not a good mix. I don’t know what’s going to happen when we have to change her email program. Again. She’s just learned how to use the one on the tablet, kinda sorta. And I won’t be able to show her so long as my immune system is a wreck.

I guess what I get to do tomorrow is go buy a new desktop computer. I’ve got til Thursday to get it up and running. Better to do it now than to do it in May and try to figure everything out when I’ve got a whopping case of chemo brain. At least the new one will have built-in WiFi and will probably be Bluetooth compatible, too, so I won’t have dongles dangling every which way off it. Having a computer that will do what I want it to do is going to be a big part of keeping me sane and grounded through the coming months.

Tradeoffs

Tradeoffs. Choices. I’ve been through chemotherapy once before. So this is not, as we say in these parts, my first rodeo. This is a chronic disease I’m battling. I might get remission, but the odds are it will be more like a temporary reprieve. But I go through chemo with the hope that it will keep me alive long enough for medical science to come up with a cure — or at least a more humane treatment.

This is a common side effect of the drug I’m taking. The skin of the fingers becomes tough and thick, and splits. You can imagine how snaggy skin like this is in dealing with yarn. I have one of those Amopé callus reducers, which helps. I’ve got creams that help. You put this stuff on, and then you put on plastic gloves because it takes hours for the cream to be absorbed.

I’ve been guzzling this stuff like water. I paid for my energy of Saturday by sleeping most of Sunday and Monday — twelve and fourteen hours at a stretch. Not to put too fine a point on my weekend, tonight at supper, I lost a crown off one of my upper molars. So, bright and early tomorrow morning, I’ve got to call the office that used to be my late dentist’s (who tragically succumbed to COVID) and see if I can get the dentist who bought his practice to put my crown back on. It was Valentine’s day, and I wasn’t even eating candy when it happened!

My left hand is not as badly cracked as my right. I’m a continental knitter. If it gets too bad, I can always put on some plastic gloves. I’m continuing to work on the hexagonal baby blanket. I haven’t decided whether I’ll restrict it to these three colors, or whether I’ll add in more. One of those I have to be there.

Ganging A-gley

As in “the best laid schemes o’ mice” and oncologists. The plan was two days of infusion of chemo drug (bendamustine). First day was yesterday. Since I was coming back for a second infusion today, they left the access and rig in my port and just capped the end and taped it to me. (I usually sleep in the completely, but I wore a t-shirt to bed last night to protect things. I had a hard time going to sleep. )

Sunday I had discovered to my thorough disgruntlement that my refrigerator had been set too cold and had frozen my almond milk, cottage cheese and the 1/3 of a bowl of tuna salad I was looking forward to eating sandwiched between English toasting bread. Since I wasn’t taking any chances, I threw them all out. On my way home from the cancer center Monday, I stopped off at Market Street and got replacements as well as some bread and Braunschweiger, and hit their deli for some fried chicken, red beans and broccoli+rice+cheese for supper since I missed lunch. (“Braunschweiger” I spelled right on the first try, turned a phrase, and then drew a complete blank on “broccoli” — isn’t there a “K” in it?)(Doctors have finally discovered what thousands of cancer patients have known for decades — “chemo brain” is not “all in your head.” It is an actual, scientifically verifiable thing. Yes, it is. See above.)

I pottered and put things up. Then I snarfed my fried chicken and sides, had a scone from the “Bistro” downstairs as my just desserts. About an hour later I had two episodes of a side effect that Imodium took care of. (To be fair, I had been a little loose in the stool both Saturday and Sunday so it may not have been an actual side effect. My intestines can throw a proper little “snit fit” all by their little selves just because.)

Today I showed up for my second infusion looking like my upper chest and neck had gotten sunburned and there was a slight itch around my port. Conferences were held. My last encounter with that particular chemo drug (2018) was rehashed. My oncologist decided to skip the second infusion. Instead, I got what I was going to get Wednesday — decadron, benadryl and the hormone (Neulasta)that keeps my white blood cell count from cratering. They also called in a prescription for a Medrol Dosepak to the VA that I had to dash by to pick up before they closed at 4:30 (slid in under the wire but it was tight) which I start tomorrow, and barring any other untoward symptoms rearing their ugly little heads, the oncologist will see me again on the 28th. What the plan will be then is still up in the air. You watch. He’ll decide to give me the one that makes your hair fall out, and I’ll be as bald as a doorknob inside of a month, and hate every second waiting for treatment to be done so my hair will grow back. (Luckily, I have hats and some pretty headscarves.)(I should make me this hat. The chart is free.)

The lady who bought mom’s bed finally came and got it Sunday. Monday morning before I went to the cancer center, I loaded up the car trunk and back seat with more downsized stuff for Goodwill. (They usually have a truck parked in the parking lot of the Market Street at 50th and Indiana.) The movers packed the contents of my kitchen cupboards and my china cabinet and I have four tall boxes and two short boxes full of those contents. I’ve unpacked two of the tall boxes which is my silverware, most of my dishes and glassware. I’ve cut shelf liner and have 98% of it put away. I still have two more tall boxes and the two short boxes to unpack. Saturday, I put all the books on the bookshelves, grouped by author, but not in any order (wince!)(e.g., all the Tony Hillerman Joe Leaphorn books are together but not in series order.) (cringe!) All the pictures are hung. Order is beginning to emerge from chaos. The book bins are empty and Hart Moving & Storage is supposed to come pick them up when they get a round tuit. They can come any time. I’m tired of pin-balling my way through the clusters of bins and boxes (and the inevitable earworm* . . . .)

I have no place to put the plastic stacking drawers I keep my yarn stash in (see above). I ordered some under-bed plastic storage bins from guess where, which came today, and will relocate my stash to them and donate the drawers to Goodwill. I also ordered a larger ceramic pot for the pet Italian Stone Pine I got at Christmas. If I can keep it alive long enough that it gets too big to be an indoor pet, I’ll donate it to the grounds. It likes lots of light and is drought tolerant, so it should do well outside. Mom’s orchid from daddy’s niece that I repotted prospers, and I have assumed custody, care and feeding of same. (My little green friends are visible in the picture above left.)

I got a second set of Chiao Goo US9 (5.5 mm) double pointed needles because I want to try the Savannah Square pattern as a hexagon, just for grins. There are five needles in a DPN set. Knitting a center-out square takes all five double pointed needles; knitting a six-sided hexagon center-out takes seven). I think it would make a nice car-seat baby blanket, and my paternal first cousin once removed is pregnant again, but she’s only at the morning sickness stage, so I’ve got a while.

The pattern uses a long-tail cast on, and I want to leave enough “tail” from the cast on to put on a darning needle and run through that first row of stitches to cinch up the inevitable “hole” in the center. The steroids will have me bouncing off the walls for days, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I start it at some point tomorrow. Sigh.

I’ve had this set of Lion Brand baby yarn (a seventh skein of light blue not shown, It’s acrylic, DK weight –light/3; 5 oz/140 g; 459 yds/420 m, and it’s been in my stash for a couple of years. I might use it, but then I have some candy-stripe baby yarn (2 balls of aqua and white, and one ball of pink and white) that I might use instead. Depends on how much I have of it. I also have a big ball of light blue and some mint green that would work

This is a car seat blanket which is already in progress, which I might finish, using the mint green mentioned above. It’s acrylic yarn, which is machine washable — an important factor in baby items. It’s also hypoallergenic. Ditto.

I need to transfer my yarn stash to the under-bed boxes, and put them under the bed, but I can’t put the drawers in my car to take to the Goodwill truck until I empty out the load in my trunk and back seat. I had to do some banking business in person today, and I pass by the Market Street on 50th and Indiana Avenue to get to mom’s bank — no Goodwill truck today. I might go out again tomorrow or Thursday and try to off-load the car. I want all these boxes and bins out of the apartment yesterday! I’ll see if I can’t empty the rest of the boxes tomorrow. Trouble is, I’ll have to play number puzzle with all the stacks of stuff to be able to get to the china cabinet. It’s taking me about twice as long to unpack as it would have done five years ago. After all that happened to me health wise in 2018, I have no endurance anymore. I work for about an hour or two, hit the wall, and have to stop and rest.

One good thing, though. When I got back this afternoon and walked into my bedroom to put my purse up, I saw that Bud the maintenance dude had moved my drapes. So glad to have them. (I’m sorry but blinds alone don’t do the job. Still too much light, even at night — the grounds are very well-lit.) That was the last thing to go from the old place. When I checked mail today, they had a blocker in my old mailbox that said “vacant apartment” and my mail was in the new apartment box. At some point tomorrow I’ll have to turn in the old keys. Before I moved, the lady who is my new across the hall and down one neighbor assured me that my next door neighbor is so hard of hearing she won’t mind all the hammering for picture hangings. Evidently not. She brought me an apple turnover this afternoon which I had for dessert with my corned beef and cheese sandwich and cottage cheese topped with pineapple bits.

I’m just plum tuckered out and I’m going to sleep in tomorrow. That way, Hart Moving will call and wake me up wanting to come get their bins and boxes. . . .

Oh, and speaking of Scottish, I was watching a video on fair isle knitting the other day presented by a lady from the Isle of Shetland. She made the comment that the Shetlanders referred to the cast on row as “the sweary gang” — “gang” being Scottish for “go.” She had that delightful Scottish brogue, pronouncing “pattern” as “pat-trin” – I could have listened to her talk all day.

*An earworm is a song that gets stuck in your head.

All the News That’s Fit to Print

Sorry for the dearth of updates. Here is a progress report.

I have been instructed by the physical therapist, the occupational therapist, and the social worker that the very worst thing I can do for her is to do everything for her. I’m to make her do as much as she can for herself. I am not to fetch and carry for her, but make her get up and get things for herself. Lying in bed/recliner all day and being waited on hand and foot is how she went from living totally independently by herself and walking without any assistance (and driving!) in May to being wheelchair-bound and being “maximum assistance” in all her activities of daily living by July, having a sore bottom by August and a bedsore on the back of her heel by September.

Earlier this week, the home health person that changes the dressing on her heel requested that she be taken to a wound care doctor (which I was going to ask about anyway — she’s had that open wound for over a month now). She got us an appointment and we went yesterday. It was a big production. Carillon has wheelchair vans and will take you to doctors’ appointments. It was “freezing” yesterday (46 F/ 7.7 C) so we had a fleece jacket over our sweatshirt, and a lap robe over our legs. We go down to the lobby where they pick us up, put her in the van and lock down the wheelchair with straps and lock her in it with a seat belt. Off we went to the doctor. (Oddly enough, the driver, who has worked for Carillon for 6 years, already knew the address of the doctor we were going to.) Since we were new patients, we had the usual ton of paperwork to fill out. (I made her fill out most of it.)

The purpose of the visit was for the doctor to assess the wound and cut away all the dead tissue to minimize the risk of infection. The wound bled freely after he did this, which is great. That means she has a good blood supply to her foot and the chances of the wound healing completely are good. He ordered an x-ray of her foot (to make sure there is no infection in the bone underneath the wound), and an ultrasound of her leg (to make sure she has no clots or blocked blood vessels in her lower leg). But, he commented that the fact that her wound bled freely suggests there are no clots or blocked blood vessels in her leg, which she is at risk for because she spends so much time in her recliner. He also wants her to get what is called a “Multipodus boot” to offload the heel as much as possible when she walks.

At some point, the home health folks are supposed to come out with a portable x-ray machine and a portable ultrasound machine and do both these tests in the apartment, so that will be exciting. (You can bet this service won’t come cheap!) They will also get the boot for us. Once she has this boot, she can start wearing a shoe on her right foot, which means she can graduate to the Rollator. Once she’s built up enough stamina, she can start using the Rollator to walk downstairs to lunch. (I’m sure she’s noticed she’s the only one in the dining room in a wheelchair, but about 20% of the people there use 4-wheel walkers of some kind. I’m hoping her desire to “fit in” will help us make the transition.)

It’s such a big production for her to use my computer (She had to get up and go get in the wheelchair so she could sit at the desk, my chair had to be moved out of the way, I had to change to another mouse because she can’t work the one I use, etc.) that I’ve gotten her a (reconditioned) Kindle Fire 10-inch tablet. I’ve gotten it all set up with her email, Facebook, and a web browser. I’ve uncluttered the “desktop” as much as I can, putting all the zillion icons she doesn’t need or want into a folder called “Stuff.” (Amazon, like Apple, considers you a captive audience and constantly bombards you with “buy me!’s.” Of course, the programs that do this can neither be deleted or disabled.) I also put her some solitaire games on it, too. The new skills she gets to master is to learn how to use a touch screen, and how to get into and out of programs. I had gotten a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to connect to my TV for when I set the TV up with a Bluetooth dongle, which I haven’t had time to do. I was able to get the keyboard to talk to her tablet (when all else fails, read the instructions!) so she can type on a regular keyboard instead of poking at letters on the touch screen (which, for a touch typist, is incredibly frustrating!). I’ve ordered her a lap desk, which comes tomorrow.

She still spends 60-70% of her waking hours vegetating in her lift chair, and consistently resists my attempts to get her to do anything for herself, like carry her glass/cup back to the sink, get her own water, etc. It’s an uphill battle. I’m the one who catches flak for trying to get her to follow her therapists’ treatment regimens. I have succeeded in getting her to dress herself and hanging up her gown in the morning, although I do have to put her socks on and help her with her slacks. She is so kyphotic and has lost so much flexibility and muscle tone due to age and inactivity that she can’t get her foot up high enough to put her socks on, and I’m afraid she would pitch over onto the floor if she tried to lean over to get her feet into the legs of her slacks.

So. That’s where we are at nearly three weeks out. There is no knitting news because I haven’t had time to say boo! never mind sit down long enough to try to knit. Sorry. I doubt there will be any knitting news for the foreseeable future. It took me three days to put this post together.

Life Among the Bells

Well, life is about to change again. Mom comes to live in the apartment Monday and my time to myself is going to become very infrequent and very precious. I’ll cope. It’ll be like going back to work. I’ll adjust. But the great expanses of time I’ve been enjoying to stretch my mind out and let it wander into knitting or reading or writing will come to an end — for now. What usually happens is I’ll have a burst of inspiration and want to write on this story I’ve had going on for over a year, or I’ll have a burst of inspiration and go off into a whole ‘nother story, or I’ll retreat into books, and the time I’ll be allowed to do that will be greatly and frustratingly reduced.

I went to the oncologist Wednesday to discuss the results of my CT scans, which are not what we want to see. He wants to do a PET scan in January to see which of the lymphomas are actively growing, how fast they’re growing, and what’s around them that they could jeopardize if they don’t stop growing. We also sat down and had a serious talk about my treatment options.

Pardon me while I vent: These entitled, selfish, thoughtless people who believe that living in this great country means they are free not to get vaccinated against COVID , a potentially fatal disease, if they don’t feel like it and are free to ignore any of the CDC’s other recommendations like wearing masks and, therefore, are free to spread that potentially fatal disease to other people’s families (particularly their children) are, as far as I’m concerned, guilty of criminal negligence. I got the vaccine as soon as I could, not just for my own protection but for the protection of my friends and family, and the fellow citizens whom I interact with on a daily basis. In my book, it’s called being a good Christian and a good citizen. So you can imagine what I felt when my oncologist explains to me that the best drug to treat lymphoma and keep it from turning into leukemia will strip me of my COVID immunity in the process, and that if I were to then get COVID because of these irresponsible idiots, it would almost certainly be fatal. So, instead of being able to take this treatment when I’m still relatively healthy and could get the best potential outcome, because of these antivaxer idiots, I have to wait until it’s a case of damned if I do and damned if I don’t. OK. Venting over.

My apologies. I try very hard to keep politics out of this blog, but this situation hits so very close to home and has such far-reaching consequences to my life and my family’s, I felt I had to stand up and be counted among the sane, responsible, adult members of the community and tell it like it is.

OK. Time for the knitting news — and there is news. I mentioned starting a hat. I’m well into the second ball of yarn and have just started the decreases.

The elevator on my floor comes out here on first floor to this lovely fish tank which is all full of greeny-blue colors and fish. It’s Halloween, and there are “discrete” Halloween decorations scattered about in keeping with the season.

I got into the spirit with a couple of decorations of my own courtesy of Wal-Mart but I’m not as liturgical as mom, and storage space in the apartment is limited. In view of the conversation I had with the rehab lady about mom and how I should actively discourage the use of her wheelchair in favor of her front-wheel walker, the sign might be just the teeniest bit ironic . . . . .

Oh, I almost forgot. I finally got the TV to speak to the internet. It was something stupid. Some TV setting that should have been off was on. Changed it to off, and the TV embraced the internet like a long lost friend. I celebrated by watching the old “The Three Musketeers” movie that was done in 1973 directed by Richard Lester, with Michael York as D’Argagnan, and Charlton Heston as Cardinal Richelieu, Richard Chamberlain as Aramis, Oliver Reed as Athos, and Christopher Lee, Raquel Welch, Geraldine Chapman, Faye Dunaway, and Roy Kinnear. It was free on Amazon Prime. Thoroughly enjoyed it. They don’t make them like that any more, alas. . .

Out of the Frying Pan . . .

It was just after midnight Friday when I published the previous post. I had been scheduled for an eye exam with the VA, but the earliest appointment they could get me was in October, and it had been almost two years since my last exam. I was on the cancellation list, and at 11 o’clock Friday morning, they called and said, “Can you come at 3 PM this afternoon?” Yup. I called mom to let her know about the appointment and that once I drove home from it (after having my eyes dilated) I shouldn’t be driving any more until things settled down.

I called her again once I got back. She was on the phone with my cousin EJ, but she called me back afterward and we discussed the results of my eye exam. (Good, didn’t need my glasses changed.) We discussed the appointment she had Monday morning with the Spine Institute and when I should come pick her up.

We discussed when she should take the morphine pills they had given her in the ER that morning (one then and one at 10 pm). We discussed my coming over at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon to do her laundry for her. She was oriented, rational, lucid, and in her usual mental state.

(Above: Brunch at IHOP after her spinal injection 7/9/2021)

At 10:30 Saturday morning, our good friend CK called me and said that she and several other people had tried to call mom earlier that morning, but had gotten neither answer nor call-back. I told her I would meet her there as I am able to get into mom’s house. We found her lying on the bed in an unresponsive state. She was ready for bed and had either just sat down on the bed or was trying to get up, and had just flopped backwards onto the bed with her legs hanging off the side. Her walker was out in the middle of the room. CK called 911.

The EMT’s said her blood pressure was very low, they could not rouse her either and they took her to the Emergency Room. Slowly over the course of the nearly 12 hours we were in the ER, she became more alert, but it was clear that something had happened.

(Not to put too fine a point on things, when I finally got home Saturday at midnight, I pulled into the driveway and discovered the battery on my garage door remote was dead.)

Now, after two days in hospital, we know she was very dehydrated. Because of the dehydration, one of her medications (a statin) caused a situation called rhabdomyolysis which was aggravating the kidney problems (from dehydration), a situation which can also also cause mental confusion. She also had some kind of infection in her blood (sepsis) (we’re still awaiting culture results), which can also cause confusion and delirium. Initially, there was some concern that the morphine she had taken (as prescribed) was also contributing to her difficulty staying awake and alert. But after two days in the hospital, the morphine has cleared out of her system, her dehydration is corrected, her blood pressure is back to normal, and she’s on IV antibiotics, but her mental state has not returned to normal. Clearly some kind of neurological event happened either Friday night or Saturday morning.

If you arouse her, she becomes awake, alert and responsive. She will engage with people, but she drifts off easily. She recognizes me, my brother, and CK, and other long-time friends when they come, but doesn’t retain the information that they visited. She has difficulty expressing herself. She either can’t find the word she wants, can’t form the word in her mouth, or she says something nonsensical or that has no relation at all to the conversation. When the ER doctor asked her why she was in the ER, she said she’d been in a car wreck (?!). The neurologist who saw her this morning asked her where she was (hospital); she said, “Ruidoso.” (Which is a town 250 miles away in New Mexico), and told the neurologist the year was 196- but couldn’t get out the last digit.

She’s had a CT of the head, which showed nothing obvious, but it was done without contrast, so the detail wasn’t great. She’s supposed to get an MRI of the brain which will give a lot more detail.

I spent most of Sunday at the hospital, although I did leave to do mom’s laundry, make her bed, take out her trash. There were dishes in the sink, and I put them in the dishwasher and ran it. The light bulb in her bedroom was burned out (?!), so I replaced the bulb. CK stayed with her while I was gone, and I went back and stayed til 10 pm.

And yes, when it rains, it does pour. This morning I heard thunder when I was getting dressed, and saw that it was raining, but not very hard. I was almost out the door when my PCP at the VA called to tell me that my biopsy results showed my lymphoma had recurred. Unfortunately, by the time I got off the phone with the VA, it was bucketing down so hard and so fast that there was water shin deep in the intersections, and there was so much water in the gutters that cars couldn’t get in that far right lane without risking drowning their engines. I practically swam to Battery Joe’s to get a new battery for my garage door remote (and I got a spare to keep in my purse!) and was at the hospital by 9 am. I spent most of the day there, but came home in the afternoon as I was exhausted.

Her mental state has improved somewhat, but it is nowhere near normal.

Right after they got her settled in her room Saturday night, she became restless. They only had her on a bed alarm and the nurses didn’t get to her until after she had pulled out her IV lines, pulled off her heart monitor leads and her hospital gown and was halfway out of the bed.

She did it again Sunday night after I left at 9:45. This is something called sundowning. It’s not a good sign. Sunday evening, they put this camera thingie (above) in her room so she can be continuously monitored during the night. (They have a special station with people whose job it is to keep watch through these cameras and alert the nurses proactively.)

This evening, I was putting clean sheets on my bed when the hospital called me at 7:30 to tell me they’ve had to put mom’s hands in soft restraints because she started trying to pull everything off again.

It’s pretty clear to everyone that mom is not going to be able to live independently anymore or to stay at her house. She is going to require round the clock monitoring. Our first priority is to get her someplace where she is safe and cared for. I’m not going to be able to address my own health concerns until that happens. The VA is supposed to schedule me for a CT scan with contrast from jaw to never-mind and I see my oncologist on the 9th. Right now I’m just taking it an hour at a time. I’m going to crash out now, and see if I can get some sleep.

Turkey and Other Cold Cuts

(Did I mention I hate the new WordPress block(head) editor? If it’s supposed to make using WordPress easier, it’s a spectacular failure. It’s harder to do everything than it used to be.)

It has been a rough week. Tuesday morning I was watching YouTube and knitting, and about 11 o’clock, my internet went down. The thing is, when my internet goes down, so does my VOIP land line, and my cable TV. After multiple calls to Suddenlink on my cellphone, I was told there was an outage in my area, and that it should be back up by morning. Come morning, no internet. We tried this and we rebooted that and we poked things with paperclips, and no joy. A technician was scheduled. He would be out Thursday morning. In the meantime, my only connection with the outside world was my cell phone, I had been without internet for going on 24 hours. I could not stream music, watch TV or connect to any of the usual suspects on the internet. If I had not already dowloaded a book to my Kindle, I couldn’t get to it to read it.

The Suddenlink technician was scheduled to come between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., which meant I had to get up at 7:30 to give me time to shower and otherwise accoutre myself like a respectable human bean. He called at 10:45 to say he was on his way. (From Midland, as it happens, which is 120 miles south of us.)(He’s trying to find an apartment in town. I don’t blame him. Heck of a commute.) We went through the spiel. He connected his little gizmo, and the line was deader than the proverbial door nail. There had, in truth, been an outage in my area, but it was fixed now so something else was going on. He went out to the alley to check the “war” and, lo, and behold, the “war” had been pulled completely loose from the pole. Some tall truck had evidently driven down the alley and snagged it. He not only reconnected it but replaced the “tap” which had been gnawed by squirrels, and was probably to blame for the intermittent loss of connection that has been driving me crazy for months. He also moved the tap higher up the pole which took up some of the slack in the line to the house.

Just like you don’t realize how much you depend on electricity, you don’t realize how much you depend on internet until you don’t have it. I’d think, well, I could do this — but no I couldn’t. No internet access. I’m telling you. I was about to the point of hunting out that CD player I’ve stuck up in the closet somewhere and playing one of the CD’s I have stockpiled. Unfortunately, I cannot afford a cell phone plan with unlimited data, or I could have streamed music over my phone. (I wonder if I ought to look into getting one of those solar phone charger gizmos?)