Spring Fever


The “Super Moon” of May 5th

My wife and I are prepping our house for sale. We live about 15 miles south of town in the upper Hood River Valley. Our home is tucked into a remote corner of the county. Private timber company land and a Forest Service seed orchard adjoin us to the west and south.  Deer, elk, and coyotes frequent the property.  A bobcat, Great Horned Owls, weasels, foxes, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, and bear are not as conspicuous but also make appearances. To the east and north, neighbors are few and far between in what is primarily pear and apple country.

This morning, under a leaden sky, I made my rounds of the flowerbeds. Rain showers bathed the grounds through the night. Rhododendron, iris, and Oriental poppy buds burst as the blossoms within yearn to show themselves. With the next sunny day, a full palette of color should paint the garden.

A choir of iris getting ready to sing the praises of spring.

We want to move into town where we can walk to stores, restaurants, and the homes of our friends. My health factors somewhat into this decision. Though my cancer, multiple myeloma, is stable; I must acknowledge my energy fluctuates due to imbalances in my blood. Even in retirement, I have trouble keeping up with the many tasks of a property owner. Preferably, we hope to downsize and spend our free time socializing rather than maintaining order against nature’s surprises.

My wife has wanted to move ever since our sons left home in pursuit of their own destinies. I have been less enthusiastic. It took January’s brutal ice storm to wipe out the final vestiges of my reluctance. The subsequent cleanup exhausted me. I’ll miss the peace and quiet but living in a neighborhood seems more attractive after the intimidating winter.

Peering into the Cosmos.

We moved here 35 years ago. At that time, the “back to the land movement” was a characteristic reaction of my generation to the established order of a 9 to 5 workday. The extent of our naiveté was matched only by our good heartedness. In the long run, our idealism led to successful outcomes. We raised two wonderful sons in a safe, nurturing environment.

As a cancer survivor, hope seems to blossom along with the season. My optimism, however, caused me to overextend myself. Spring fever put me on a merry-go-round of medical appointments soon after I retired. While clearing the damage caused by the ice storm, I strained my back. Since that initial week of retirement excess, I’ve visited my chiropractor four times and an acupuncturist twice. Those visits coupled with cancer related appointments, means that in my first 26 days of retirement I saw a doctor 12 times. Make that 13; my cat, Spanky, needed his booster shots.

The tools of the season

The most important thing I learned from all this medical attention is that my cancer continues to be anchored near the shores of remission. The numbers, month to month, have bobbed up and down since my stem cell transplant in 2008. But my current drug regimen holds fast.

So, I chip away at the many chores, adding bows and ribbons to the organic beauty while reminding myself that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. I scatter wildflower seed. I plant perennials. I prune trees.

Today, I hauled bark dust to brighten the garden paths. As I plodded about, a choir of wild birds sang the praises of spring. Buzzing insects droned in the lilac bush. My cat trod along with me until the urgings of other curiosities beckoned him to explore the woods. Here, amid all the wonders of the natural world, I am at peace. But age and illness have made me a fair weather naturalist. It’s time to respect my limitations.

A Simple Cold

Picture For a Multiple Myeloma patient, there is no such thing as a simple cold. Even a simple cold can turn into a life threatening situation. This was something that I was to find out this past week.
A week ago on Thursday, Mr. B started feeling a pressure in his chest that reminded him of when he had the blood clots in his lungs. He also had a very deep crackly kind of cough that sounded very bronchial. The next day he contacted his cancer care nurse who advised him to go straight to the hospital. She didn’t want to take any chances after his last bout with blood clots. After a long eight hour wait in the emergency waiting room we were finally seen by a doctor. X-rays and a CT scan were quickly completed and evaluated. The results – both were clear of any new blood clots. So we were sent home with no answers. Mr. B continued to feel worse over the next few days. We decided that he must have a cold and with his compromised immune system, wasn’t able to fight it very well.

All Mixed Up

Well life has been pretty mixed over the past few weeks.

On a personal level, I am pleased to report that I have now been well with no cough or cold for nearly a week (well only very small remnants of my original one!!). It must be time for the next one to kick in now…lol! I sincerely hope not though and am hoping that the warmer weather will bring with it a period where we can just enjoy being a family and spending some healthy time together! I have had a horrid pain in my armpit/ shoulder, but I am pretty sure that this is muscular, self-prescribed some nice strong tramadol and nurofen (not meant to have this but was told I could for 24 hours!) and seem to have seen that clear substantially….so all good there really.

The Ball continues to move on, although it really is a hard slog. We are chuffed to pieces that we now have a sponsor – Autostyling UK (www.autostylingUK.co.uk) which has meant that we no longer have to worry about the cost of getting raffle tickets printed, envelopes, stamps, etc. However, we still don’t have a major prize for the raffle and I still need loads more smaller prizes! If anyone out there has a contact to someone who might provide a TV or something like that, or a fantastic experience etc, then please let me know. We might even be able to contribute towards the prize if it was needed. In return, we can offer advertising on Facebook, twitter, our website, our Event Programme and for the top 3 prizes, on the raffle tickets!! I can also try to get it into any press releases that we do a little nearer to the time! Who could refuse that (apart from the hundreds of companies I’ve already approached!!). And if you are thinking of coming along (and we would love to have you there), don’t forget that the tickets go up from £45 to £49.50 after the 31st May. So take a look at http://www.glitzandglamourball.co.uk where you can order tickets and see some of the prizes to date!

But the reason for my mixed up status is that I had some really sad news yesterday. I found out that a lady who I have met a few times, who was a fellow Myeloma patient, passed away yesterday morning. She was always so positive about how myeloma affected her life, and felt that the allo transplant that she had in November ( a donor transplant), was just a stepping stone to a second nice long remission time. And sadly it wasn’t to be the case. It has hit me, and many of my myeloma friends, very hard as it came out of the blue. Whilst we knew she had been ill, we had heard last week that she was coming out of hospital. It is far to ‘deja vu’ of another lady that we lost a couple of years back. I am obviously really sad for her family and what they must be going through at the moment. It must be heartbreaking to lose someone no matter what, but it must be even harder when you had expected many more years ahead of you. And as I am sure I have said before, from a very selfish perspective, it reminds me of what this damned cancer does to us all in the end. I don’t want to die soon, I want to be around for many, many years. I hope that will be the case too, but the reality is none of us know when our time is going to be up.

So yesterday I felt a real mix of emotions. Part of me wanted to cancel the ball, stop spending every waking hour worrying about it, and instead focus on my family and enjoying time doing things that I really want to do. But the other part of me feels like I have to keep going, that I owe it to Penny and her family, and to all the other families that have lost members to myeloma, and to my family, to do all I can to raise money so that they get closer to finding a cure, or at the very least, a better way of prolonging life for patients. And even if it isn’t me that it helps, hopefully that money will help patients in the future. So, the ball WILL go on. But please think if you can help me. Even if just by seeing if your family and friends can donate a bottle or two, or a box of chocolates. And if you can’t do that, can you help on the night? I don’t have much control over how this cancer progresses for me, or for others, but I can raise money…..and so can you if you really want to help. Every little thing will make a difference. Thank you.

Getting immoral with rumps

I think I may have done something, if not illegal, then certainly immoral with some rump steak – I made steak and onions.  Now this may be perfectly acceptable with some high folotting celebrity chef but I was brought up to make steak and onions, hotpot and such like with stewing steak and as it seems to be labelled now braising steak.

B had asked constantly today what I wanted for my tea and I had absolutely no idea.  Well okay, it was probably about twice but seemed a lot more.  At lunch he started to suggest things and at the point where he said soup I had to say ‘I think you should stop mentioning food or I’m gonna throw up’.  Later in the afternoon he nipped out for some milk and wanted to know again – but although I don’t feel queasy all the time I don ’t feel particularly like eating.  B asked should he get some bread but the thought of bread turned my stomach at the time – indeed yesterday I made up some barm cakes for B but had some Ryvitas myself – just as well really since it turned out the barm cakes I’d used had a use by date of the 28th!

So tea time-ish today I went into the kitchen and looked at the rump steak in the fridge and thought ‘I couldn’t eat that fried but I could eat it in steak and onions’ so that’s what I did with it – I have to admit without chopping it into smaller pieces – I just wopped it in a pan to brown and then covered it with stock – chicken as we were out of beef.  B peeled the potatoes and we had it with mash and what I managed to eat stayed down unlike Sunday’s cottage pie.

It was, in B’s opinion, excellent.  He wasn’t being immodest as he hadn’t made it.  I decided to tackle the mince meat while B was out walking with Bud.  I donned a pair of disposable gloves and tackled the carrots and onion – better safe than sorry on the bacteria front.  B again peeled the potatoes for the topping and I remembered to do some veg to accompany it, unlike tonight’s meal.  I was enjoying it when suddenly I felt the urge to hurl and B passed me the poop bag lined sick bowl that’s stowed at the side of the settee just in time.  I did manage to finish off what was on my plate once I’d been sick.

Buddy has a reaction to seeing a sick bowl – he gets all anxious.  In this instance B passed me the bowl and before I’d even ejected the cottage pie Bud was up off his mat and over near the curtains looking at me funny.  I think it’s because his reaction is to come check I’m okay but it results in B telling him to get on his mat and when he doesn’t do it immediately B gets louder while I try and slope off to the stairs so I’m not throwing up in front of B while he’s trying to finish his food.   So it’s got to the point where I just have to move a sick bowl and Bud reacts.

Other than being a bit off my food I’ve still felt reasonably alright.  I have felt particularly tired today and didn’t go to armchair yoga this afternoon as I just didn’t have the energy/enthusiasm.  It had taken me the best part of an hour to go upstairs to set up the printer to work wirelessly – and in fact must have been fatigued as I didn’t even have the energy to threaten the netbook/printer when it didn’t work straight away.

I’ve also been a bit bunged up.  I thought that once I was home I’d start being regular again – isn’t this a lovely subject?  It was so hard to go in the Royal especially on the toilet I ended up using from my cupboard.  More people walked past the door than go through Heathrow in the length of a day.  Plus at Heathrow you don’t get people stood outside with drip machines beeping while you’re trying to ‘concentrate’.  I think I’ve taken enough laxatives to clear out a rhino but obviously need to increase them to take care of an elephant.  I wouldn’t usually be too concerned but in light of the need to go really regularly with the peritoneal dialysis I thought I better act sooner rather than later, particularly as the fluid I drained first thing this morning was a bit low which can be caused by constipation.

Meanwhile, although I really haven’t done anything today, I have previously finished off some things I did during my recent stay at the Royal.

I’ve added buttons to the aran jacket…

Sewn the ends in on the baby blanket made in the same aran (worsted) weight yarn…

Again this is from Comfort Knitting and Crochet Afghans.

Sorted out the ends on a granny square afghan for the crèche/hospital in South Africa at one of our GP’s receptionist’s husbands is involved with…

and cracked on with the other one I started…

I am really liking this and think the cream round the two centre squares and then again round the resulting rectangles ties it all together nicely.  I think I need to add nine more rectangles to get it to an acceptable size – which should just about clear all the tiny balls of double knitting yarn that I have left or have been given.  This is just as well as I need more storage in my sewing room for all my new peritoneal dialysis stuff.  I mean I do have room but I wanted to tidy hide as much of it away as possible so that the back room doesn’t make it look like there’s someone sick in the house!

I’m all out of wool, I’m so lost without it

and I’d run out of cream which was going to be my edging colour for both the inner squares and the outer rectangles.  So under duress he brought me a new 400g ball of cream aran, a pair of 4.5 mm knitting needles and the substitute cable needle.

I had found a lovely little jacket pattern at knitty.com –

I also tracked down a hat pattern at sweaterbabe.com – Cable Baby Beanie – and altered the rib to moss stitch and changed the cable stitch to match the one on the cardy.  After B brought me a darning needle in this afternoon, they both now look like this…

Needless to say finishing things off seems to usually take ages but it’s now done and I have nothing crafty to do.  I knew I should have pressed B to bring me something else in addition to the darning needle – he didn’t even want to bring me that suggesting I might prefer to ‘Have a rest’.

Now I’m not saying I’m easily bored – oh wait, yes I am actually.  Yesterday I changed my own bed – and not because I’d had a boo boo I’ll have you know.  I was about to remind the Health Care Assistants when I thought ‘What’s stopping me doing it?’  The answer was nothing and it made a change since B changes the bed at home because the bending starts my back off however with the benefit of an adjustable bed no bending was required.  I also assisted today – well I’m going with ‘assisted’ but ‘hindered’ is probably a better description.

One of the registrars called in this afternoon and asked whether Prof had said if I could go home after the chemotherapy had finished or if we needed to wait until my counts went back up before I got released.  As it turned out I got disconnected while B was here and if I’d thought on I could have pushed to go home then!  Just kidding!!! B wouldn’t have gone for it and the nurse I said it in front of thought that that was being a bit too keen – plus although B has cleaned the bathroom today he still apparently needs to wash the bed sheets.

I forgot to mention that I’m concerned that Prof knows me too well.  As I’ve said me and the steriod Dexamethasone don’t mix well so when I got my first dose last Thursday and it was the same as last time I queried it as Prof said we’d look at reducing the amount.  The nurse said she’d ask about it and shortly after Prof and one of the junior docs arrived and he informed her, to her surprise and the surprise of the nearby nurse and subsequent visiting registrar, that in view of my extreme reaction to Dex it was up to me how much I took.  There I was all geared up for putting my case across for taking less than suggested or in fact none at all and I ended up with free reign.  Prof’s method actually worked like a charm and I had to give proper consideration to the amount I wanted to take and felt I had to take some as I’d been entrusted with a completely voluntary decision and indeed when the registrar suggested that I might want to consider taking 6 mg instead of 4 mg I immediately wanted to say ‘No way’ even though I’d thought this myself.

Other Creative Spaces can be found here – at least I’ll have plenty of time in the morning to do some serious looking at other craftiness.

Still Here!!

Really….I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. Things have just been very busy for me right now. I’m a self employed bookkeeper and it’s tax time. Need I say more?
I will return to write more posts when things settle down here a bit. In the mean time, check out the new page that I started to keep the details of Mr. B’s medical progress. I know how much it helped me to read about the medical side of things when Mr. B was first diagnosed so I thought I would try to write more about that. I wanted it to be on a different page of this website so that I could continue to keep this page for more of my side of things.
Be back soon. :-)