Four Down, Two to Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Down, Three to Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the knitting news, I finished the baby booties.

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

Well, Pshaw!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wouldn’t Ya Know . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, Zut alors . . .

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

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

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

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

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

Ham Salad!

Seeing as how it’s the eve of the traditional day for picnic blowouts that is the 4th of July, I thought I’d share this.

A little gratuitous product placement for you. Not pictured is a small can of sliced black olives. (A heaping handful of whole black olives would also work.)

Dice the onion, pickles, green onions and ham. Chunk chop the black olives. Dump everything in the bowl. Add enough mayonnaise to moisten. (As an alternative to mayo, you could toss with a balsamic vinaigrette.) You can also add some small elbow macaroni, but it’s too durn hot to cook any so I didn’t. Chill overnight. Serve by itself as a side dish, or spoon it on to crackers for a snack, or make sandwiches from it. Serious yum, y’all.

I’ve made it this time in the new 2.5 quart bowl, which is very Goldilocks*, BTW. I still had plenty of room in the bowl to add the macaroni without the bowl being too full.

I’m dipping mine with tortilla chips, which is an art as well as a skill, but there are two sandwiches chilling in the fridge for later.

* Not too big, not too small, just right!