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.

Four Down, Two to Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Down, Three to Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the knitting news, I finished the baby booties.

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

Noooooo. . . . !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Home Stretch?

Wednesday the 22nd, I start my sixth round of chemo. Supposedly this is the last one for now. I assume at some point in the near future, I’ll get a CT scan to assess tumor shrinkage. So, I have to be there at 8 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday and with labs, seeing the oncologist, and receiving the chemo, I’m going to be at JACC all day, like until 5:30 or 6 in the evening. Thursday, I go for the Udenyca shot that stimulates my body to make more white blood cells to replace the ones the chemo kills. They didn’t give me the times for the three sessions of IV fluids, so I will have to call and leave a message to remind them. The chemo must be working. At least the lymph nodes under my jaw have shrunk and I’m starting to have a chin again.

I’ve been sleeping a lot lately. It’s as if I know I’m going to be awake from Wednesday until probably Friday because of all the stupid prednisone, and I’ m trying to get ahead of the game. I’ve been reading a lot, too, mostly in bed with my feet up. I read two books yesterday.

I got my table assembled and put in place. The size is just perfect. I need to make a Wal-Mart run (before Wednesday) to get some other stuff (like TP!) and when I do get it together to go, I need to get a roll of that plastic shelf-liner like I put over my computer desktop to protect the top of it from spills. I got the least obnoxious color pattern is the faux marble, and I’ll get some more of that.

Still haven’t repotted anything yet. Manaña.

In the knitting news, I’ve started on the baby dress.

The pattern calls for Malabrigo Sock yarn which I got in “Botticelli red,” which is kind of a brick/oxblood red. The pattern is two pages long (so not very complicated). The top part went fast, but the skirt is 9 inches long, on a size US 4 (3.5 mm) needle. At 10 rows = 1 inch. That’ll take a while. Still, I might have time to make the older sister the same dress with the same yarn. I have the yarn. We’re talking Christmas card photo/Hallmark moment. Of course, I don’t have to send it before the baby comes. I could hold off and send it in, like August or September. I was thinking of making some booties, and maybe a sweater, but Richardson, Tx. In August, or September. Not sweater weather. I may make some booties anyway, just because. I haven’t made any in a while, and I have a sock set of good ChiaoGoo double pointed, stainless steel needles now, not those jive plastic needles that warped. And I have yarn left from the baby blanket, both the pink and the rose. Hmmm. Still haven’t finished the sun hat.

We’ve already hit 107 F/41.6 C degrees here and had a whole week of 100+ degree weather — and it’s only June. We may be gearing up for a long, hot summer. Hope not. I just looked at the highs for the next 10 days and they range between 94 F/34.4 C and 100 F/37.7 C. Not good. No rain in the forecast either. Not even partly cloudy.

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.

A Change-Up Pitch

I thought I was being proactive submitting a refill to the VA for the prednisone I need to take with my chemo, and I thought two weeks would be enough time to get it before I needed it. Guess again. The holiday weekend threw a monkey wrench in that plan. When Tuesday’s mail was put up, the refill still hadn’t come, so I scrambled over to the VA to plead my case. Lo, and behold, I had no problem getting it, as well as four sacks of groceries besides on the way back. (And remembered to take my cart with me when I left to begin my mad scramble.) (And forgot to get butter.)

Wednesday was an uphill day. I had to be at JACC at 8 o’clock in the morning of a cloudy day with a chance of T-storms. (We’re having one as I write this, as it happens. Flashy bangies coming right up, hopefully with a side of rain, hold the hail, please.) Same old drill: Wait in the big waiting room till they call me into the phlebotomy area to get the access put into my chemo port and get blood drawn for labs. Then it’s across to the doctors’ offices to wait in their waiting room until I get called into my oncologist’s exam room. He was delighted that I’m tolerating the Rituxan so well and apparently, my labs are very good because instead of getting COP one day and Rituxan and Udenyca the next, I get to wait in one waiting room for an hour, wait in another waiting room for an hour, before I even get back to the infusion area. By then it’s almost 1 o’clock. I’ve gotten most of my sandwich and Cheetos eaten while I’m still in the waiting room. It’s nearly 2 o’clock before I’m back in my chair with my phone plugged in, my ear buds in and my tunes going, and I’m knocking back a handful of prednisone tabs. I get the decadron first. Next is the Rituxan, which is dissolved in about three-fourths of a liter of saline (I get it one drip at a time and get my blood pressure taken every 15 minutes until I’ve had half of it –in case of side effects — then it gets cranked up to 3 drips at a time) followed by a 10-minute line flush with plain saline. By then it’s sneaking up on 5 o’clock and the few people (including me) who aren’t done yet are all moved down to one end so the 4 nurses who will stay late can keep an eye on us, because I’ve still got cyclophosphamide and a line flush, and the Vincristine and a line flush to go before my port access gets taken out and I finally hit the pavement at 6:15 to slosh my way home. I got a lot of knitting done on the baby blanket edging though (only two panels left!), finished reading a book, and took a little nap because I only got about 5 hours of sleep Tuesday night. (I haven’t slept since my nap Wednesday and it’s the wee owls of Friday already. I spent Wednesday evening and night with the foot of my bed raised to keep my legs emptied out so my ankles won’t balloon.

I made a brief appearance Thursday for my shot of Udenyca to get my white blood cell count back up after the chemo crashed it. I was in and out in an hour. On the way home, I picked up the butter I forgot and five or six other things I needed, paid my mom’s beauty saloon tab, and got a free hair trim in exchange for a little natter with the stylist. My hair is long enough that the natural curl is starting a wave in back and the ends were getting raggedy, so she neatened it for me.

My poor little kidneys (and my my three working brain cells) are doing the hampster wheel thing trying to catch up after Wednesday’s fluid dump, and I’ve had to hit the Chai tea and Coca Cola so the caffeine will get out and push. Friday, I’ve got to be there at 9 a.m. for my first liter of saline to help flush this mess out.

Amazon had this little console table that’s long enough and tall enough to clear the under-window HVAC unit and it came Thursday. I’ve got to repot 2 plants and then they’ll all go on the console table (some assembly required) right next to the window. The Italian stone(d) pine is doing the snake dance trying to get to the light and it needs to be closer to and farther down along the window sill where the dining table isn’t (and the tree outside isn’t) to get the most available sunlight. I got it when I was in the other apartment and it had a good sunny window there. The windows in this apartment have a tree in the way.

The table is 48 inches long, so I’ll line my little green darlings up on it in order of how much light they need. The table assembly and the repotting can wait until Saturday. (It’s raining now. Yay! We’ll take every drop we can get.)

I’m going to try to finish the baby blanket Friday and maybe start the little dress Sunday. If I can get my rear in gear and the creeks don’t rise, I may be able to do a dress in the same yarn and same pattern for the new baby’s older sister (they’re 16 months apart!). Matching red dresses that will fit them right at Christmas time — Christmas card photo! I have enough of the red yarn (Malabrigo Sock in Tiziano red) to do two dresses. I also have a freebie skein of Malabrigo Sock in Turner green, and I’m thinking maybe headbands with some crochetted holly leaves and berries . . . . We’ll see what kind of time (and energy and brain cells) I have. (Boy, the rain is really coming down now! Yipee!)

Five down; one more to go.

I Went On A Little Binge . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sewn On Version:                     
Cast on 4 sts.

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

Repeat rows 1-8.

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

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

Repeat rows 1-8.

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

That Makes Sense

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

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

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