30 April 2009

Today's horoscope reaffirms my need to learn to finish what I start!

Your horoscope for April 30, 2009
Look before you leap today. There is a very good chance that you will step off the edge of a cliff if you are not careful. Errors can easily be avoided by simply taking the time to think things through carefully before you act. You are great when it comes to starting projects, but not so great when it comes to finishing them. Today would be an excellent time to practice your follow-through.


29 April 2009

7 Years In The Making...

I joined the Stashbuster's Class at Always Quilting this past month. It is great! You show up once a month, work on any of your UFO's and then get "stash" money when you finish a project. So I came home and fished out all sorts of old projects that have never been finished. You see, I am really good at starting projects, really bad at finishing said projects. Now all I see are "stash" money to buy new fabric for more projects!

The first quilt top finish is a Stack N Whack I started in 2002. My mom and I took a class to learn this technique. She finished hers, I never did. I really should have taken a picture of my unfinished quilt, because as I unfolded it last week there were all these yellow topped glass pins still stuck in it. Holding bits together. After looking at the quilt, I realized I only had 4 seams left to sew. That was it! Then to just add the border.

The construction is really poor (but no one will get to see that once it is all quilted together). But I do love how it turned out!

Here is the quilt top with the border attached.

Now onto picking backing fabric so I can finish the project and use the lovely quilt. And round up some stash money for fabric for more future UFO's.

21 April 2009

How does your garden grow?

After what feels like months of having the weak, I finally am starting to feel "normal". Or at least feel like I am showing improvement. My bf has been working hard at weeding out the area behind our fig tree, so that I could plant a veggie garden. I really wanted to do the weeding. But I tried and FAILED!!! The weeds were mighty! They fought hard to stay in the ground and won. So the bf used his brute strength to get rid of all of the weeds.

Yesterday, I went out there and planted the veggies. YAY!!! And there was a teeny tiny section of weeds staring at me. Not much, but right along the wall. They were taunting me. I got out the hula-hoe, just like before, but this time I won the battle! I was so excited. Small win for me! Then I completed the planting job. After it was all said and done, the plants and seeds were all in the ground, I was covered in mud and sweat, I felt really good. This was the first time I have really done something physical in months. It is a good start. A good sign. Times are a changing. I am on the mend.

Here is the veggie garden. My big accomplishment for Monday!

I think we might have over did it for our first veggie garden. I planted tomatoes, squash, pumpkin, honey dew, leeks, spinach, snow peas, snap peas, and some different pepper plants. Now hopefully it will grow and we will get to eat the harvest before the 007 squirrels get to them.

18 April 2009

Round 2

Yesterday I had the second round of Rituxan treatment. I met with the doctor and we discussed the few side effects I had last time. Then he walked me over to the clinic and the nurses whisked me away....

It was a long day. The plan was to drug me and ramp the drip up to 200 cc/hr and leave it there until all 1000 cc were in me. They loaded me with Benadryl, Tylenol, and steroids to prevent any side effects and started the Rituxan. The rest of the day was really uneventful, at least for me. I watched movies on the iPod and crocheted a blanket and chatted with my neighbors and people watched (good people watching day). And then my day was done.

I was the second person in the clinic and one of the last ones out. At least this time I was not THE LAST ONE on a Friday night there.

Now I just wait to see if it all works. Hopefully it will work. And if it does work, then I will be back at the clinic in six months to do 2 more rounds of treatment. The treatment really is not bad at all. It is just a long day stuck in a chair hooked up to an IV people watching and keeping yourself entertained.

I did find out how much weight I have gained. They weighed me 2.5 weeks ago when I met with the doctor and then again yesterday before treatment. I have gained 9 pounds. Not too bad. But I think most of it has landed on my face! I have chipmunk cheeks that the squirrels would die for! Definitely storing food for the next few winters. Luckily, most of my weight gain is due to the steroids I am taking and should come off once I stop taking them. Who knows when that will be. In the meantime, I just need to keep watching what I eat in a healthy way, not the watching the food go from plate to fork to mouth kind of way, and keep exercising.

Fat Face

The other day, I was hanging out with my grandmother and her older sister. Now my grandmother has Alzheimer's. We were looking at photos and my great aunt was asking if grandma knew any of the people in the photos. Grandma looks up at her sister and says she does not know who she is. Then turns to me and says, of course I know her, that's Fat Face.

Well, that's a new one on me. I know I have gained some weight, but SRSLY! Fat Face!!! My grandma has always had issues with weight. She would live off of lettuce leaves and broccoli and always had a comment about someone's weight, especially if they were related. Weight and body image were very important to her while growing up. And continued to be important to her as she raised her children. But now that she has full blown Alzheimer's there is no filter.

We ended up taking grandma out for ice cream. And while at the parlor there was this one family there, a mom and her 2 kids. What was interesting about them, was that they were the family that Super Size Me is about. The family was overweight and the kids wanted ICE CREAM!!! They all had a cone when we walked in. They ALL ordered ANOTHER cone while we were eating ours. And then they left. But only to come back, so that the son could have another cone. The mom said it was ok as long as he ordered a sorbet. The daughter also wanted another scoop, but her wish was not granted. I was shocked.

Growing up, we would go out for ice cream as a treat and there was no way we were getting a second ice cream, much less a third. I had never seen anything quite like this before. And amazingly grandma kept her mouth shut! She just glared at the family, but never said one word. Probably because it was stuffed full of her single scoop of cookies n cream.

I remember watching the Super Size Me documentary thinking that you do not have to order everything on the menu, you do not have to get a large. But here in front of me it was happening. It was a very surreal cultural moment for me, one that I had not really experienced before.

Ironically, later that same evening, grandma told me how great I looked and that I had lost tons of weight. Now I have gained some weight and it is REALLY obvious in the face, so I just laughed and joked around with grandma.

What else can you do?

04 April 2009

One down, one to go

As nervous as I was yesterday, things went fairly smooth. The clinic and the nursing staff were awesome! You walk in and there is a great big nursing station with quite a few chairs around it. You walk in, put your paperwork in the tray and pick your chair. I brought a backpack full of food and things to do, plus a blanket and pillow. So I sat in my chair and waited. There was only one other person there at 9:30 am. It was a slow morning the nurses said.

They gave me some Tylenol and hooked up my IV. And started the Benadryl through the IV. All went fine. Could not feel the IV hardly at all. Once the Rituxan started going in, my fingers on my left hand (the one with the IV) started turning purple, so I grabbed my gloves and modified them. I now have a glove that only comes down to where the IV was. Nice and convenient for the rest of my treatments. Since the medicine is at room temperature, it was causing the Raynaud's to act up.

The next four hours went by no problem. They ramped up the drug from 50 cc/hr to 275 cc/hr, monitoring my vitals every 15-30 minutes. I had a small fever and my blood pressure was going up, other than that all was fine. But then after about 4 hours, I had a reaction to the drug. Nothing big, so it seemed. But I got in trouble for not reporting it soon enough. I just felt flush, my heart was racing and I had shortness of breath. They stopped the IV, gave me some more Tylenol and Benadryl and some steroids, and everything calmed back down about 45 minutes later. The bad news, was that we had to drop the flow rate down and could not raise it, so it stayed at 150 cc/hr. The rest of the afternoon went fine. The slow flow rate made it a long day at the clinic as they needed to get 1000 cc of the fluid into me. We ended up stopping at 5:30 pm with about 50 cc left in the bag. Not too bad.

The clinic was good for people watching as it would be packed for a few hours, then empty and then packed again. Everyone who came in was really nice and lots of different types of treatments were being offered. My dad even came by for a surprise visit!

I go back in two weeks and they want me to come in early. The second treatment should go smoother (less than 4 hours), but since I had the reactions they are worried it might be another long day.

Now it is just the waiting game to see how my body responds to the Rituxan. Today I got some weird aches and pains in my legs and my hands swelled up. The bf and I went for a walk, thinking I just need to get some circulation going from sitting around all day yesterday and then sleeping. But the pains got worse. They are starting to wain now.

All in all, it really was not that bad. I have had more traumatic experiences giving blood! I am hopeful that I will be symptom free soon and able to get back to my normal life.

But for tonight, I am off to see a friend's concert for a wonderful evening full of jazz, broadway and pop songs.

03 April 2009

Treatment Day

Well, it is finally here, after more than a month of waiting, I am going in for the Rituxan treatment. The bf made me breakfast, so I could start my day off right. I have my go-bag packed with goodies to eat, stuff to do, blanket and pillow. I am really not looking forward to the day, but am anxiously awaiting the results.

In the past two weeks, I have started to flare up, in my old school normal flare way. This means my knees and hips act up. I am used to this. But I forgot how having two softballs for knees looks and how when you walk, your hip locks and clicks with every step. The nice thing about this flare, is that the prednisone causes no joint pain and I can move around. I just feel sluggish and have huge joints.

Hopefully with today's Rituxan treatment, I will start to see some positive changes.

Off to see the clinic...

02 April 2009


The last few weeks have been a mix of keeping up with the doctors, trying to stay busy at home and getting some exercise. And also lessons in patience, communication and physical limitations.

First the fun, what have I been doing: I have been working on random small projects about the house and started a new quilt project that I have been obsessively working on. For the quilt project, I had to cut out over 2500 pieces. It is a double wedding ring quilt. I spent the better part of one week cutting and then sewing non-stop. But then had a nice little flare up to de-rail my progress. I am still slowing sewing the pieces together, but it is at a snails pace.

Exercise: I have attempted to get back into the pool. Swimming was always something I enjoyed, I could just jump in, swim an hour, no problems. Boy, has that changed. It was a real challenge to do 30 laps. It took me 45 minutes with lots of rests. The pool is nice, heated to a wonderful 93C. I even took an RA Foundation water aerobics class where I was the only one in the class. The steroids have helped me to regain motion, just not strenght, so the instructor advised me to take a different class to help with strength and conditioning.
And I borrowed a bike from a friend, so have been riding a few times, just 30 minutes at a stretch. Boy that is a lot of work.
Baby steps... I remember it all being easier...
I have added seeing a chiropractor and hopefully will start some physical therapy soon.

Doctor Fun: There were horrible communication issues between the first oncologist, aka Doctor B, the health insurance company and two different pharmacies. It took 2 weeks for the health insurance company to just say they would not play ball. So I had to go to a new oncologist, Doctor C, at a different clinic and re-start the process for pre-authorization with the health insurance company and get a consultation with Doctor C. The good news, was that Doctor C's office got me in right away and he was awesome! He was able to answer all of my questions that Doctor B could not answer and made me feel at ease. His clinic is great! There is even a treatment wing of the clinic, where all patients getting various treatments hang out with the nursing staff. All went well, but then we had to wait over a week for the health insurance company to say yay or nay.

Then at 7:30 am on my birthday, I got the call, the health insurance company came through! ALL WAS APPROVED!!! What a great birthday present! I went to go make my phone call, to schedule my treatment, only to find out that I have to take a chemo teach class before I can schedule my treatment. So I scheduled my class for this past wednesday, along with 2 other doctors appointments. And during my chemo teach class, the nurse told me the clinic had my drug and was waiting for me. I was shocked to say the least. What?! I could have done this today?? So I went back and met the nurses and re-scheduled my treatment for this friday, tomorrow. And I am scheduled for my second treatment in 2 weeks.

Tomorrow is the big day. They are estimating 5-7 hours of fun for the first Rituxan treatment. I am nervous, but glad to be on the schedule and get it over with. I am prepared, I hope. Made some cookies to bring to snack on, got my bag-o-string cheese and am making a fresh loaf of bread so I can have a sandwich or two. Traded iPods with my brother so I could watch movies, have a few good books to sink my teeth into, and a new knitting project. Hopefully that will keep me busy tomorrow and keep my mind off of what is going on.

It is only one day, it will be over before I know it. And I will be hopefully feeling better soon. Plus I get to start cutting back on the prednisone.