Monthly Archives: January 2012

To ‘Nearly’ Done List

I’ve nearly done by ‘To Do List’ along with some additional things.  That said when my sister in law rang yesterday afternoon I got panicky thinking it was the hospital and I hadn’t finished it.

In addition to the list I’ve cancelled the laptop insurance for our lost laptop, changed energy supplier, got a better deal on the house phone, added some yarn that’s been lying around to my yarn index, made a dressing gown that was too much of a bargain to leave on the rail into a cardigown and knit/crocheted this…

Some assembly still required

I had two units of blood today so I fully expect to finish my list tomorrow and I’ve told B that with this haemoglobin boost and once I’ve caught up with my sleep tonight he better brace himself as I’ll be so full of beans.

Now usually, although I’m not shy with my opinion, I’m not one to force advice on people but I’d like to finish today with a little bit of marriage guidance for the ladies.

When one’s husband says that the district nurse was at his mother’s tending too a sore on her bottom he may not appreciate it if one responds with ‘A pressure sore?!?  That’ll be because she’s sitting on her arse to much.’

Deja Vu DT-PACE

Yesterday we went to our clinic appointment to find out how things were going. We bumped into Sean in the waiting area, which is always nice, along with a couple of ladies who also have myeloma. As it turned out the results of the bone marrow biopsy weren’t back but other results were and a plan for the next step had been formulated.

My blood counts are measured once a week at the moment. The blood is taken while I’m having dialysis and this means I don’t need to be stuck with a needle – which is always a plus. So my blood results from Tuesday (24 January) were -
haemoglobin – 8.3 (normal range 11.8 – 14.8 for women) This would explain why, although I’m feeling better, I don’t feel completely like the energiser bunny. In renal they don’t routinely give blood to increase haemoglobin, they use ARANESP which promotes an increase in the production of red blood cells. It takes longer to have an effect than a transfusion but apparently if you’re on the kidney transplant list the use of blood can cause issues with antibodies. The doc said that haemoglobin is usually the last count to get back to normal. Today it had gone up to 8.6.

WBC – 4.3 (normal range 3.5 – 11.0)

Platelets- 451 (normal range 150 – 400) B was bothered by this and, despite me having told him that the normal range went up to 400, kept asking me to check and even when I did double check with a print off of blood results straight from the hospital he still asked the doctor yesterday – mind you the doctor said 350 so B probably won’t believe me in future anyway – he’d already asked whether I’d written the number down wrong. Fortunately I was able to point out that a nurse wrote the figures down for me. It turns out that the increase is likely due to dialysis and is nothing to worry about.

Although the results of the bone marrow trephine were not back, the aspirate sample not being measurable (which has happened before), the paraprotein result as at 19 January was *drum roll please* – ‘no detectable paraprotein found’. My IGA level (the type of myeloma I have) was previously 24.09 and at the 19th was 0.37 which is actually slightly below the normal range of 0.8 – 2.8.  And I’ll be tissue typed with regard to a donor transplant.

So I get to have another course of DT-PACE possibly starting this week. My name will go on the board and when a bed is available I’ll get a call. This week!! If I’ve not heard anything by Wednesday or Thursday I need to give them a ring. This week!!! Now despite having spent nearly 10 weeks vacationing away from home last year this is only the second time I’ve had prior notice of going into hospital – the first time being my stem cell transplant in 2010. This of course has produced a…

To Do List

Ring ASDA re the claim for Buddy’s allergy treatment – which they have declined as they didn’t receive some information from the vet along with declining a second one sent which was below the excess. Now I thought because it all related to allergy treatment they would have just tagged it on and as the total bills are around £1,000 it really needs sorting

Download films/games to netbook

Buy pyjamas – because they always come in handy?!?!? Although B wouldn’t even contemplate a trip to Primark yesterday

Buy sponge

Connect the xbox to the internet – essential of course

Buy small fridge – the lady in the next bed in June had a little fridge which I have to admit at the time I thought was more hassle just bringing it than it was worth in, but realised in November/December that they are actually really handy to completely avoid warm yoghurts and milk going off

Buy some soft bras along the lines of the ‘ahh bra’ I saw advertised – because it’s so uncomfy to sleep in a regular bra BUT and that’s a big BUT there’s always the issue of being attached to stuff which makes it impossible to change in and out of bras (or tops) as easily as usual. Plus when you get plucked from your bed for dialysis in the early hours without warning it would avoid having to sit with a blanket clutched around your bosom (or barms as I learnt they could be called yesterday) because you were half asleep when collected and neglected to register that the short sleeve pale jim jam top was wholly unsuitable for public consumption

Buy badger lip balm – my lips went all peely last time. They have some lovely interesting flavours – pink grapefruit, lavender and mint – but I went for unscented in case some of the interesting loveliness made me puke.

Buy shower gel

Buy material – despite going to the fabric shop, Abakhan, yesterday (we didn’t walk, we parked closer) nothing jumped out and said ‘Use me to back your Christmas embroideries’. What do you mean ‘This could wait’?

Send three emails I’m behind with

Make soup – I’m not really a big fan of tinned soup and considering how my mouth went last time I started thinking that homemade soup would be a good idea. B could then heat it up and bring it in – when I floated this past him last night he didn’t think it was as good idea as I thought and as I discussed it with him I realised that when my mouth was sore I didn’t really eat much of anything so I’m not too sure how good an idea it was not even considering that when Auntie Ann and B brought soup in I returned it

Make pasta sauce – see above

Order B’s facewash

Make a decision and order Auntie Ann and Uncle Ray’s Christmas present – one of the last I need to sort out

Send one of the Christmas presents I have got

Pay credit card bill

Buy new laptop – Currys have admitted ours can’t be located so are giving us enough to buy a similar spec one. Of all the things on my list B was so taken with this one he planned to go this morning but then remembered that I had dialysis and Auntie Ann is visiting this afternoon so he’ll either be pushing her out of the door or I have a feeling we’ll be going tomorrow

Sort out a knitting pattern – I quite fancy something wearable for me, but it would need to be uncomplicated due to potential lack of concentration so nothing multicoloured as the four colours on a row were too much last time

Buy wool for knitting pattern

Take before and after photos – When I said this to B yesterday he looked at me quizzically ‘Not of me.’ I said ‘Of the dining table’ because by the time I get home it’s usually hard to tell what colour it is for the piles of post and other miscellaneous detritus

Check dates new series are starting on Sky and add to planner – ohhh, two start when I’m potentially away so I’ll need to remember to remind B (if we get a laptop I’ve told him I can email him requests) but with the new HD box which has a gazillion hours of storage he won’t be asking me this time what can be deleted. BUT if I got him to run an extension down to the lounge so that we could hook the Sky box to the phone line (don’t tell Sky as permenant connection to a phone line is part of the contractual requirements) I could set recordings from my bed. I think we’ve got everything he’d need – drill – check, bit long enough to fit through cavity wall – check, extension cable – check, enthusiasm – ch… well, what do you reckon? And I think I forgot to mention that when I order the new box we also go £100 of Marks and Spencer’s vouchers which more than covered the cost of the box. We very rarely shop there mind but that’s not the point when they’re free

Take library books back – I’ve only had them since September. Don’t worry I’ve renewed them so it’s not as if I’ll need a bank loan to pay the fines

Get new book to read – if they’ll let me have anymore

And… no wait, I think that’s actually it. No it’s not I now have a new one. I made a pram/cot blanket for one of the health care assistants last week and one of the nurses asked about one today. After initially declining I thought, well it’s easy and would give me something to do before going in to stop me adding to the ‘To Do List’ and she’s happy to wash it herself if I finish it whilst I’m in. Never one to miss an opportunity to show off my handiwork here it is…

Double knitting yarn on 4.5mm hook using daisy pattern it measured 75 cm x 94 cm.

Now I have actually done two and a half of them already. There’s nothing like a bit of pressure to make one get one’s finger out but how did I manage a half? Well I rang ASDA about the information they needed from the vet but neglected to ask them about the second claim. Doh!

Cobweb Lace

I started this shawl back in September when I abandoned the shawl I’d started the previous summer – yes that would be summer 2010.  If I hadn’t touched it for over 12 months it wasn’t going to be finished any time soon.  I don’t knit much lace because I find it a bit messy, or maybe it’s because I don’t really have any reason to do lacy things or it could just be that I don’t really like knitting it – loath as I am to admit not liking anything knitty other than circular needles and intarsia (that’s multi colour knitting for the non knitters and should not be confused with fairisle).

Anyhoo, after deciding I wanted to knit a lace shawl, and even though the first one didn’t get very far,  I searched for another pattern on Ravelry, which again to the non knitters is kinda like Facebook for knitters but with added extras.  You can see how finished items look not just as per the pattern but as knit/crocheted by other knitters.  I’d once seen a blanket pattern that I just loved and after having checked it out on Ravelry and seeing finished articles it put me right off.

It turned out that the majority of the shawls I liked were all by the same designer, Birgit Freyer.  So I tootled off to her website and selected myself ‘Flamenco‘.*  Now I have no trouble knitting with fine yarn but I do like knitting it on fine needles, so cobwebby yarn on 4.5 mm needles I find a bit, you guessed it, messy and fiddly as well.

I have been perservering, and undoing – which is extra fiddly and here’s how it looks so far…

The big plus is that I’ve got plenty of yarn for when it tips me over the edge and I throw it out the window and start again.

Other creative spaces can be found here.

*  When I went to Birgit’s website to link to the pattern and saw her beautiful finished article I could have cried!

Of course it’s not a heart attack

After I’d done my last post, when I mentioned letting the not so good things slide, I realised that I tend to do this quite quickly as I completely forgot to mention the quite bad pain I’d had in my chest the day we went to our last blood clinic appointment.

On the Thursday night I started getting some pain in my upper chest and by the time I went to bed it was actually quite bad. It initially crossed my mind that the pain was in a similar position to the awful discomfort I had during my stem cell transplant but by bed time time the pain wasn’t just in my upper chest it was also in my shoulders so my next thought was about where the pain would be if the rib with the plasmacytoma on it had broken or even that I’d done myself a mischief while throwing up. Since we were going to the clinic the following day it didn’t even enter my head to do anything about it at the time so I just took some Oramorph on top of my usual painkillers and went to bed.

I woke up Friday morning to find the pain was really quite bad, in fact it was the pain that woke me up. Now I do an odd thing when I end up in pain in bed, I use to do it quite often when I got regular migraines, instead of getting up and taking painkillers I carry on lying in bed in pain and then only get up to take them when I just can’t take anymore – fully realising that if I’d go up when I first woke up it would be feeling somewhat better by that time. So when I finally got my backside out of bed it was nearly 7.30 am. I took as many painkillers as I could (2 Paracetamol, 2 x 50mg Tramadol and not quite 5ml Oramorph) and went back to bed.

By the time I woke up again the pain in my chest had eased off but my shoulders were still sore. B and I got dressed and set off for the Royal. As usual I took my crocheting with me because even when I’m not feeling well I have to take something crafty with me – I think its like the equivalent of a child’s blankie. I sat in the car and didn’t touch my crocheting – the only thing I did was drink some of the ginger beer I’d taken with me (I was still being familiar with the sick bowl at the time and indeed saw the ginger beer again on the way home). It was as I was sitting there comtemplating the non use of the crochet hook that I suddenly thought ‘I wonder what a heart attack feels like’. I decidely it probably wasn’t, based of course on my extensive medical knowledge, because 1) I’d never heard of anyone mentioning shoulder pain, 2) surely the chest pain would be lower and 3) I hadn’t thus far keeled over!

When I mentioned to the Prof this pain (without using the words heart attack) it turned out it could have been one of two things. He ruled one out as I currently take Fluconazole – an antifungal medication which left irritation to the oesophagus by the large number of tablets I’ve been taking. The Prof upped the antacid medication to two a day and the pain eased off. It was still bothering my shoulders a bit on Saturday but had eased off completely by Sunday however I then forgot to take the evening tablet on Sunday.

Needless to say, apart from last night that is, I haven’t forgotten since. I woke up on the Monday morning and could barely move. I got out of bed, this time straight away, went downstairs, popped the same amount of painkillers as on the Friday morning and went to lie down on the settee. B had got up when he saw the slow way that I’d been maneuvering around the bedroom and fortunately was in the lounge to cover me with a throw (hand knit by me naturally) as I think if he hadn’t been there I would have literally lay there freezing before I could have done it myself.

I dozed somewhat fitfully* at first and when B got me a drink he held it up so I could use the straw without moving anything. Fortunately by the time I woke up from some proper sleep everything had settled down significantly and it hasn’t come back since.

When I was telling my Auntie Ann she recalled being in hospital and getting a pain in her shoulder. The nurse said it could be wind and Auntie Ann wasn’t sure if she was pulling her leg or basically just plain wrong. However a burp later the pain went. B’s Auntie S when I was telling her recalled a time she’d eaten toast before going to bed and awoke to chest pain and she has heart problems to start with. She contemplated that it might be a heart attack but asked her hubby to get her some hot water and again a burp sorted the situation out.

On the Thursday night before the Blood Clinic appoint I’d said to B that I wanted to walk down to the fabric shop for some fabric, funnily enough, and B asked me on the Friday morning whether we’d be going – okay, he more or less told me we wouldn’t – but of course I couldn’t just say no. It was only on the way out of the hospital that I admitted that I just wanted to go home.

Now although I may not actually have felt like using the fabric between then and now I was still a bit put out that we didn’t make it to the shop. So I’ve said to B that we’ll go after this Friday’s appointment. He said ‘We’ll see.’ Mmmmm, yes, we’ll see. I mean I have to finish off some outstanding stuff from Christmas. I’ve now finished the embroidery but need the material to back these…

and yes – there are two Christmas Trees.  I couldn’t find the angel pattern at one point.  And I don’t know about you but I can’t help thinking that the teddy bear looks like he’s desperate for a wee.

* I have no idea why that word when following slept or dozed amuses me.

Me Bum’s Sore

Okay not so much now but Wednesday and Thursday if I sat down without thinking about it and pressed up against a cushion in the wrong manner it made B jump. Not so much the sound of me actually hitting the cushion more the yelp I emitted. How come I had a sore rear end? Well…

Last Friday we went to the Blood Clinic and saw the Prof. My blood counts, neutrophils, white blood count and platelets were all well in the normal range with only my haemoglobin slighty low – which doesn’t seem to be unusual for me – plus the counts had been staying there on their own. I haven’t had a donation of a kindly stranger’s blood since 23 December. This and the fact that my ‘quality of life’ was so much better than eight to ten weeks ago gave the Prof the indication that all was going well however the only way to really see how effective the DT-PACE treatment has been is a bone marrow biopsy since my paraprotein reading is not a reliable marker on its own. He asked me how I felt about this as I was as fully involved in the decision making for my care, I said that I’d thought as much and indeed this was what I’d told people when they’d asked how we would know how things were going.

The mention of quality of life always makes me nervous. I’m not too sure why exactly maybe because one day I’ll have to say it isn’t good and will I admit to it at that time. After having been in a lot of pain with my collapsed vertebra I would say that my quality of life at that time was pretty low. For a while I couldn’t even get in a comfortable position to knit, well or sit, stand, lie down and laughing, coughing, sneezing resulted in me nearly, or occasionally actually, ending up on the floor.

When my back eased off, before it got worse, I’d said to a friend that I didn’t know how people coped with bad pain all the time. She said that they probably got used to it but I don’t think so. I truly thought that the pain I had before I was diagnosed was never going to go away and that was a horrible thought. So I think for me how I will potentially feel tomorrow is a measure of quality of life – that even if I feel particularly tired or throw up a lot one day it doesn’t mean that tomorrow or the day after will be the same. Let’s be honest no-one has a wonderful day every single day, even if its only due to a self induced hangover after an over indulgent weekend. Quality of life is the culmination of all days – and maybe letting the bad ones slide and making the most of the good ones.

Anyhoo, Tuesday, after dialysis, I went up to the Blood Day Unit for a bone marrow biopsy. The actually aspirate and trephine samples, done by the same lovely registrar as last time, were fine – okay it did hurt a bit but it’s not like it lasts for long and I only had to pause briefly mid sentence twice – and the subsequent lie down was uneventful. When the requisite ‘lie down’ time was up one of the nurses checked the dressing, which was wasn’t showing even a hint of blood, and I got up off the bed. I popped on my shoes and was stood chatting to the nurse when I thought ‘My bum cheek’s gone warm.’ I looked down and there was blood spotting onto my shoe and the floor. The nurse whizzed off for some gauze and I sat down on the bed, she popped the gauze over the dressing and I got to have another lie down. Fortunately I had dark brown linen trousers on and a long winter coat so the blood wasn’t easily evident – we discussed how stylish I would have looked having to venture home in a hospital gown with my stripy pink socks and flat tan shoes sticking out the bottom. The nurse also did an excellent job of removing the blood spots from my shoe.

The additional lie down meant that I was late for my ambulance ride home. B rang while I was lying there and said he would come and pick me up if it was there problem. When I rang the ambulance reception they said I could still have a lift home but, since I’d missed my allocated ride, it would depend on when a suitable crew got back and most of them arrived about five o’clock – it was currently ten to two. Needless to say B picked me up.

During the course of the bone marrow biopsy the junior doctor assisting asked me whether I did anything else other than knitting and crochet. The registrar answered ‘She’s not got time for anything else she’s a professional patient.’ On Thursday I had cause to think that if I got paid for my time at the hospital I’d probably have the best paying job I’d ever had. I was all ready to be collected at ten past six (in the morning) with B standing watch at the porch window and getting more and more antsy as time went on. At seven I phoned up to see where they where. The co-ordinator didn’t know but said she’d ring me back. B was having to call into work that morning so said he would take me and then go straight in. I rang back to tell them this and she said that was fine, they had sent a taxi but it would be quicker if B brought me, they’d let renal know I was on my way. I thought the mix up may have happened because I didn’t get a lift home on the Tuesday however, it turned out that the two guys on the ambulance ride home hadn’t been collected that morning either and it was only after they’d both phoned that they’d been collected by taxi. We then waited ages for our lift home. So after being ready with my coat on at 6.10 am I got back home at 3.20 pm. Mind you it’s giving me lots of time to be crafty. Here’s what I did yesterday…

I used some of the left over yarn from Bright Star and the pattern is a free one – Garter Yoke Baby Cardi.  I didn’t finish the cardigan yesterday as Auntie Ann and Uncle Ray visited as I got home and then I had to fit in a 3 to 4 hour nap and then tea – which I actually made myself with only a minimal amount of assistance, and that was just so B didn’t think he was leaving it all to me – and then more sleep.  That’s only the second hot meal I’ve made since I’ve been home, B has taken over as chief cook.

So, here’s the finished cardy…

Bright Star

I finally finished the aran weight blanket I was knitting.  Considering it was all in garter stitch, where every row is knit, it proved a bit challenging.

There were three squares like the top one where I hadn’t moved the green or blue over by one stitch which I had to reknit – because let’s face it that boo boo hits you in the eye.  A man on a galloping horse could see it.

Then there was the notched piece ie, the pink square isn’t part of the block, that I actually sewed in before I noticed that the green line had a kink.  Three friends and B told me no-one would notice but I had to disassemble it and redo.

I sewed several pieces in the wrong place and then when one side looked like this…

the other looked like this…

as I closed the seam with only three pieces in it instead of four! Der.

And then I managed to have a square over

as you can see it didn’t really matter as that one had a boo boo too.

So here it is in all it’s glory.  On the original pattern, Bright Star from Berroco Knitting and Crochet Afghans, the square at the centre of the large cream diamonds is a different colour but I decided against this – one of the reasons being that because I ordered the yarn over the phone I couldn’t decide what additional colour to put in.  I think because of this the ‘stars’ don’t pop out as much as on the original.  It’s quite big at 6ft x 4ft 10 inches.

The edging was once again a double crochet (US single crochet) row worked round with the second row being double crochet worked in reverse.

The blanket was to be a Christmas present and since Bud hasn’t had one off us yet I think he may be laying claim to it…

Other creative spaces can be found here.

Odd Man Out

I used to love Sesame Street especially Mr Snuffleupagus (or however that’s spelled), the Count counting and Ernie the Grouch – so let’s get all Sesame Street – ‘One of these things just doesn’t belong here, one of these things just isn’t the same.’

Buddy

An orange

Me

Any guesses? Well if you guessed me you’d be right. The connection between Bud and the orange is this…

B has stuck both Bud and the orange with it. After taking Bud to the doggy dermatologist for his allergy related cysts and infections on his paws back in September she suggested that we could try a desensitising vaccine on him. Now I may have been tempted to say no but his paws did look quite sore and there’s also the risk of an infection I could pick up and the other longer term treatment if he needed it involved a medication that I wouldn’t be able to touch, so I said yes.

B took him for his first jab while I was in hospital. The dermatologist said that we could do the rest of the injections at home, there’s about ten in all but B felt that he couldn’t manage it on his own with so he’s been taking Bud back to the vets and the nurse has been doing it. Well, the nurse did the second one and then B did the third under her supervision. On Thursday we took Bud for his fourth and B did that one too. Bud however wasn’t as settled and calm as on the previous occasion – possibly because I was there – and I have to admit my heart was in my mouth when Bud started to wriggle while B still had the needle in. B has decided that he will take Bud back for another one under instruction and then give them a whirl at home.

The nurse had given B the old syringe on the third trip and suggested he practise on an orange which he did. Now when we went to the clinic on Friday I got some anti-clotting Fragmin injections, because of the Thalidomide, and on Friday when I did the first one I asked B if he wanted to do it since both mine and Bud’s are done subcutaneously (under the skin as opposed to into a vein). He declined and maybe it was just as well he did if we take a little looky at the post injection orange…