my excuse to talk about knitting, cats and life in general

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Looong time, no see

I find it a bit hard to believe,  but I stumbled across my own blog. I guess you could say that my mind has been elsewhere. The least I can do, while I'm here, is a quickie update.

As far as the diagnosis of CLL, that seems to be right, but in the nine years since the diagnosis I have remained symptom-free and stuck in Stage ZERO. Thanks be to God!

The bungalow. sigh. Well, my mother died a day or two before my daughter graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. My sister wanted to have Mom's service right away, meaning we'd have to skip her graduation ceremonies. Yes, that's a plural. I'm putting on my Proud Mama hat: she graduated with an A. B. in physics (A. B. is the abbreviation for the Latin "Artis Baccalaureus", which is the same as "Batchelor of Arts," only snootier. The older universities tend to use the Latin form.), with the departmental prize, Phi Beta Kappa, and Summa cum Laude. We learned about the Phi Beta Kappa in April. Mom was still alive, so I called her to let her know that her only grandchild had made Phi Beta Kappa. Mom was always about grades, etc. So what does Mom say? "That's nice. I got my Phi Beta Kappa my junior year." I'm still boggled by that, 8 years later. Well, I do have to say that it was a gift - I now have a short story to tell people that explains my mother quite well.

Getting back to Sabetta's graduation in May 2007, she also got an MS in theoretical physics, at the same time, in four years. She was one of four recipients of a new scholarship which paid tuition and fees for 2 years, if the student did a double major or got an MS. She stayed on at Penn, because she already had a fantastic graduate advisor. She got her PhD in four more years.

So, what was my point about the bungalow? Well, when Mom died, I inherited her half share of the bungalow, along with the contents of her house. Bottom line? Plain and simple - I didn't have the money to buy out the cousins, so it was sold. Who bought it? My late cousin Lynne's widower. I still get depressed thinking about it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Life Goes On

I think it's all beginning to sink in, the diagnosis and all. I'm feeling a bit low. I had a dream last night about cats, can't remember details, but I woke up and I realized that, if the 20 year prognosis is accurate, I won't have as much time as I had expected to be around cats. There are cats I won't be able to rescue.

I wish I had a firm diagnosis. I have an appointment Friday with the oncologist/hematologist and there should be more test results - the CT scan, the urine test, the re-do of the bone marrow pathology. Maybe something clearer will come out of it all. Sabetta and Kent will be with me, and I know Sabetta is primed with detailed questions. I hope the doctor can deal with it.

On the positive side of life, my back yard is being transformed from the leftovers of a construction site to a real yard. I have been hoping and dreaming of this. Now, my neighbor's oldest son (he's 21) is working miracles. He's quick, energetic, has a sense of design and works like fury. I'm soooo lucky!! There will be a patio, a lawn, flower beds, steps. You should have seen what it looked like before! Of course, I forgot to take "before" pictures. Rats.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Let the Cats Scan Me, Please

This is the last of the KR posts. Next time it'll be in real time.

12 June 06
Well, so that was a CT scan. Personally, I'd prefer to let the cats lie on me and "scan" me in their sleep! But it was nowhere near as bad as the MRI, which makes me way too claustrophobic. This is much more open and I didn't need the xanax. Too bad I didn't know that before we left home. I could have driven myself instead of having Kent drive me there by 8:15 for an 11:00 appointment, so he could get to work. Then he had to pick me up at the end.

The thing that made it hard was that I wound up lying on the "table" for at least 1 1/2 hours. They scanned part of me, then the doctor had to check them out thoroughly. Then rescan part of me, check the results. Wait. Repeat with a contrast solution in an IV, check, etc. My back was getting stiff and sore, but I shouldn't complain. That doctor is a perfectionist, just who I want right now. I want ALL of them to be perfectionists! No "Sloppy" Joes for me, thank you very much!

My daughter asked me how long until they have results. Of course, I hadn't asked. Sigh. I'm so "short sighted" right now. I just focus on the next thing to be done, but I forget about results. Rats. But it won't make the results any slower because I forgot to ask about when.

I'm still feeling "accepting" about it all. After all, they have only a tentative diagnosis and there are questions. I'm not saying that I'll dodge the bullet, but it isn't time to get really excited and ready to fight. That time may come later. I guess this feels like the lull before the storm.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Waiting, part 1

It looks like I'm scheduled for a CT scan of chest, abdomen and pelvis. This will happen on Monday, and it will be at the office of the radiologist that my neurologist recommended. He also did all of the other imaging in this adventure: the MRI, skeletal survey, etc. So I feel that I'll be in good medical hands.

Of course, all of your good thoughts, prayers, good energy and all will be with me, too, and that will mean I'll be in doubly good hands.

My daughter is going into internet research at a high rate, and that means a HIGH rate, since she knits at the speed of light. As a note, I bought a number of Bohus knitting kits from Solveig Gustafsson in Sweden. One of the kits was for a hat and scarf in the Blue Shimmer pattern. She had done no colorwork before and she finished the hat in just about a week, on Addi 0s. Gulp.

Anyway, I think it's her way of doing something to help from 3000 miles away. And it must help her cope. Each night she'll tell me all about her findings. She's a senior in physice at U. Penn in Philadelphia, and when she puts her mind to something, it happens. She's a real force of nature.

I hate to admit it, but I don't have the energy (not physical, but emotional and psychological) to do it myself. I'm very grateful to her for doing it. I'd like to be able to read these websites and other documents she's found. I'll let my husband do that. They talk for hours, it seems, on all sorts of things to look into. I'm happy that I have such a good research team. He's got a PhD in organic chemistry from MIT. Boy, am I glad I married a smart guy!!

I have 2 live-in therapists, Sapphire and Chessie, our 2 Siamese. They are usually close by, but on the day I got the diagnosis, Sapphire stayed on my lap or chest all day, and Chessie was also close. That means they gave up their naps in the chair, in the kitty cave, in the sunny windows, etc, just to keep me company. You can't convince me that they didn't know exactly what was happening. Animals can tell. They have so much divine love for us. Thank God for pets.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wait and test some more

Here's the next installment of the diagnosis story.

8 June 06
I saw my neurologist today. He said that he had talked to the oncologist last night. Neither of them are totally convinced about the diagnosis, since the lymphocytes in the blood should be high and they're low. I'm going to get a CT scan to see what's going on with lymph glands. My neurologist wanted to be sure that I went to the best radiologist for this scan, so he asked if I'd change it to another person. I am somewhat sceptical about doctors, but, once I've found a good one, I'm happy. I think so highly of my neurologist; he's always making sure that my health care is the best. He's a treasure.

So there's more waiting and collecting of data. I'm still feeling positive and, whatever it is, I'll deal with it. And it had better get out of my way.

Thanks, too, vi. I'll be more than happy with a 30 year remission and then a pill a day. At that age, who'll even notice one more pill!


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'm back; diagnosis

I'm back again, like a bad penny. Life has been happening. I still am hazy about posting photos. I haven't done any Bohus knitting, but there is more on that front.

My daughter was home after college was out for the summer, visiting before getting back to Philly to work. I had bought a Bohus kit for her, the Blue Shimmer hat and scarf. We wound off the yarn by hand. It seemed too rough to use a swift and ball winder. The yarn is wonderfully soft and fine, almost as fine as laceweight. Well, I gave her a portion of the pattern and some other yarn, fine but not as fine and only wool, so she could learn colorwork. She finished that and took on the hat. Just under a week later... her hat was done, except for weaving in ends and sewing up the hem. Don't blink, oops, you just missed it all. She knits like the wind.

The hat looks fabulous and it fits her. Pictures at 11 (but I'm not promising which day...)

During all this, I've had a continuing health issue, starting with an unexpected spot on an MRI. I've posted about this on Knitters Review, but I felt like copying those posts and putting them here. Here goes .....

early post, 8 June 06
I've had problems with sciatica since I was pregnant, and she's nearly 21. My neurologist got it under control with epidural steroid injections that can last years with no symptoms. The symptoms came back early in spring, so I went back to him to prescribe another series of shots. He ordered an MRI to see what was happening, and there was a spot on the MRI just at the edge of the film, in the sacrum, the bone at the base of the spine.

He's a very good doctor and he immediately ordered more tests, bone scan, skeletal survey, blood tests, and another MRI to focus on the area that showed up on the first one. Everything seemed OK, but it still wasn't explained. He sent me to an oncologist/hematologist. He did a bone marrow biopsy and ordered some other tests.

All along, I felt like something was up. I'm 58 and we're looking at an anomaly in the bone marrow. My father was 58 when he was diagnosed with Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, a rare bone marrow cancer. He died at 59, in 1964. I was 16. The coincidence of age and bone marrow made me uneasy.

One of the tests the oncologist ordered was a 24-hour urine collection. Oh, joy. My daughter was home from university and I put that off until the day after she left. Just before that I got a phone call from the oncologist's office to remind me to make the follow up appointment. That made me nervous. I felt they wouldn't be calling me like that if there wasn't something to tell me, know what I mean?

Yesterday, I took my husband with me for the follow up. I now have the diagnosis, chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In a way, I'm relieved. Now I know. I wasn't really upset; I'd been expecting something since early spring. There's a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years, in which time lots of research can be done. Anyway, I'm not giving in. I'm feeling positive and I'm fighting it. My mother's mother was just short of 96 when she died. My mother is 97 and still going. I fully intend to outdo my mother.

I told my daughter, who's in Philadelphia, 3000 miles from the SF Bay Area. She wants to come home for a while, so she will be. She can take a break from work. I'll be happy to see her.

I know this is a really long post, but KR is family, too, in a way, and one that I can really say anything to, at least as long as it's not mean or nasty. I feel quite positive. The "Twilight Zone" coincidence helped prepare me, so there really wasn't much of a shock.

I'm going to get a second and third opinion, check out local and not so local hospitals and cancer centers, do a lot of internet research and reading. And this mey be the kick in the pants I need finally to lose the extra weight. I feel more motivated than in the past. Hey! Then I'll feel like knitting sweaters for myself! Up until now the sweaters have been for my daughter and husband. A sweater for myself would take miles of yarn and years of knitting. Always a connection to knitting wherever I look.

Love you all


You can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take New York out of the girl.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More Stitches

Well, I've fallen head over heels for Bohus. I've ordered 5 kits, with one more to come when it's finished. Susanna Hansson, teacher of the Bohus class at Stitches, suggested that we order kits directly from Solveig Gustafsson, the woman who dyes the yarn, since that will give her a larger share of the income from the kits and may encourage her to do more kits. Since Solveig is 70 and isn't training a replacement, maybe she'll start doing that. It would be criminal if the art were to die now.

I ordered the Large Collar, an amazing design in black, browns and white that looks like lace, Forest Darkness, dark green or black (which I chose) with greens and blues, and Blue Shimmer, palest blue with more blues and beiges. All these have the design in a round yoke. With a gauge of about 9 stitches per inch. and up to 5 colors per row. I also ordered 2 kits with the Blue Shimmer hat and scarf. I'll need them to get my knitting to a decent state. I'm not going to do both kits for hat and scarf, of course. I told Sabetta what I was ordering and she said she'd do the scarf. So the second set of those is for her. Naturally, she'll speed through and be done before I've finished winding the wool, but that is the way it should be. I was a lot faster when I was her age. Damn hand tremor. It has really cut into what I can do and how long it takes.

When I ordered the kits, I telephoned Sweden again. I was quite blasé, as if I do that all the time. I figured it was costing about .10 per minute. Used to be that long distance within the US cost that and *much* more. Giving away my age a bit there.

I really loved the Bohus class at Stitches. Susanna had about 10 real Bohus sweaters and one fake. She bought that one knowing what it was, to use it as an example. She had them out on a table for us to look at, touch, photograph, whatever. It was marvelous. I took a lot of pictures, but I think I could have taken more. They are so detailed, amazing color gradations. If I do manage to make one or more of those kits, I'll be aiming very high, even for me and my perfectionist tendencies.

We had a sample of Bohus knitting to work on in class - a swatch of the pattern called Scilla ("skilla"). We were given Shetland yarns to do it in, yarns from Jamieson. It's my first experience with real Shetland and I don't like it *at all*. It has all the charm of knitting with spun steel wool - very scratchy. The strands stick together, all right, almost like watching felting in real life. I wish she'd chosen yarns from Solveig, but so be it. I've kept working on the sample since the class ended and I'm about 2/3 done. I wonder if I'd be farther along if the yarn were more pleasing in a tactile sense. And the colors are only rough approximations of the originals. There's a photo of the original design in the Swedish Bohus Stickning book I just got. I'm going to try to do a second sample in another type of yarn with better colors and hand.

I've GOT to learn how to include photos in this blog. I feel like I'm describing the subtle differences in 40 close shades of blue to blind people. It just isn't the same without pictures!!!