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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Little Moments of Peace and Beauty

In a world  on the edge of chaos, filled with  tragedy, hate and violence, I am grateful for hummingbirds. 

And flowers. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Vet Visits and Views From the Kitchen Window

Today was vet visit day for Agatha and Victoria.  They are both caught up on their shots and meds now and are good for another six months.  Agatha had gotten too chubby for her harness so I bought her a new adjustable one  and it came yesterday.  I adjusted it as far as I could but it still had a lot of slack in it when I put it on her this morning. Come to find out she's lost a pound and a half.  Victoria, on the other hand,  must have found what Agatha lost because she'd gained a pound or so.  But the vet said they're both in good shape, all things considered, and both are  all set for the next six months, I hope.  I did tell them they both needed to  find a job so they could help pay their vet bills before they drove me to the poor house. But they are both   too lazy for that, I fear, and prefer to  spend their time lolling about like ladies of leisure.

 Can't resist another garden pic. Several months ago, when the zinnias first came up in the back yard, they came in so thickly that I had to thin them out. I potted them up and asked  our next door neighbor if she'd like to have them. She was delighted, and planted them in  the flower bed in front of her house- which  we can see from our kitchen window. In no time at all they had  grown nice and bushy and covered with blooms. Soon butterflies and even some hummingbirds discovered them and  began visiting, fluttering about all day long. So  all summer, as we've stood at the sink washing  dishes we've had a delightful view of colorful  blooms, birds and butterflies. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bees and Butterflies

Yesterday was chemo treatment day. Four and a half hours of getting pumped full of chemicals.  I  fell asleep on the way home and slept off and on most of the day.  Which is probably why I was wide awake for most of the night and dragging again this morning. So this will be one of those posts I mentioned that is mostly pics from the garden.

The zinnias have been attracting a nice assortment of butterflies and bees.  I tried to capture a shot of a hummingbird moth last week but he was too fast for me, as was the  zebra swallowtail.  But  a  few skippers, a Gulf fritillary,and a black swallowtail were more cooperative. A couple  of the pics are a little fuzzy and don't show these  jewels in their full glory, but. . .

The Gulf fritillary pic is  fuzzy and I couldn't get a good shot of him (or her) with wings fully open.

These two skippers were traveling together.  Where one went the other followed.

This busy bee  had pollen all over his body.  Maybe the weight of all that pollen slowed him down just enough for me to get a pic.😄

This swallowtail  swooped from one flower to another and spent quite a bit of time on each.

The zinnias are getting quite bedraggled by all the rain we've had lately and   may not be attracting   pollinators much longer, but it's been fun to watch for the last  couple of months.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

To Blog or Not To Blog

One of my blogger/writer friends wrote on his blog the other day that he has written a blog post every day for the last  ten years. And that's in addition to books he's written and his regular newspaper column! And here I  was, thinking I did well if I managed to make two blog posts a month! It takes self-discipline to write every day,  especially on days when you have nothing to write about and  your muse has abandoned you. I  lack that self-discipline.  But then again, I don't claim to be a serious writer, much as I like to rattle on sometimes. Then  there's that burning question, "Does anybody read this stuff or am I just writing to --to what? To vent? to  persuade? To share something interesting that happened? Why DO people blog, anyway?

I've noticed that  many of the people whose blogs I once followed regularly now blog  infrequently or no longer blog at all. Maybe  facebook, twitter,  snapchap and other social media sites have replaced blogging. There are still a lot of die-hard, disciplined bloggers out there -- some  blog about causes they believe in, some blog to  help their businesses, some blog about their passions, political and otherwise, and others blog to share some aspects of their lives. There are probably almost as many reasons to blog as there are bloggers.  There are  also quite a few cancer blogs, where people diagnosed with various forms of cancer share  their feelings, treatments, challenges, etc. I've been doing that to some degree, but I don't want to   concentrate on cancer.  It is part of my life now,  as I navigate through various tests, procedures and treatments, but it is  just one part of my life, albeit a fairly large part. So it is part of my blog, too. If  my  experience with cancer can help someone else  facing a similar diagnosis, that's good.

And so I continue to blog-  sometimes  in spurts of entries every day, sometimes with no more than one or two blog posts a month, and sometimes there are stretches of several months where I don't blog at all. But I will try to be more disciplined and post  more often- even if it's just to post a  picture or two from the garden. Which may be what  happens tomorrow, since I'm scheduled for another four and a half hour chemo treatment in the morning and will spend much more time dozing off than typing once I get home..

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Peaches and More Ponderings

I am happy to report that I have  survived   the latest CT scan, colonoscopy and chemo treatment  relatively intact.  The CT scan indicated that everything is stable and there is no evidence of new disease, so that’s good.  The colonoscopy prep was worse this time than the one two years ago, but thank goodness I was  put under for the actual procedure which shows that I now have  radiation colitis, so that probably accounts for some of the  bleeding, as well as  the scar tissue and scabs that have been sloughing off.  I haven’t seen any of the written pathology reports yet, but will probably know something in a week or so. I had another chemo treatment this week and am almost recovered, but still feeling a little fatigued. I think perhaps it was not such a good idea to schedule a scan, colonoscopy and chemo treatment within the same eight day period. The oncologist   and surgeon are supposed to get together to discuss   treatment options after they get the written report from the gastro doctor, whether to continue as we have been with the chemo or if now is the time to go ahead with surgery, etc.  I’ll hopefully know more  at my next   doctor visit next month.

The garden  is looking pretty sad and neglected.  Weeds are growing with wild abandon, plants are getting long-legged and spindly and even the bright zinnias are beginning to look a bit bedraggled. We have had a lot of heat and a lot of rain, which has resulted in sauna like conditions outside. In the few early morning and evening hours when the heat is not quite so oppressive, the gnats and mosquitoes and most active.  Those nasty gnats form clouds and hover in the air, just waiting for you to  pass through. Then they get in your eyes, ears, up your nose, even  in your mouth if you happen to  open it for a second. 

Needless to say, I haven’t been working outside much lately.  And it shows. I have rooted and potted up some cuttings and repotted  a few herbs,  and weeded one of my little square foot gardening sections, but there’s much more  that needs to be done. We don’t have much rain in the forecast for the next week or so, and there are several partly cloudy days with  temps in the 80s predicted, so maybe I’ll get out and get some work done  this coming week.

If it’s  too muggy to work outside, there’s plenty  that need to be done inside-  we need to paint walls in several rooms.  It’s been years since they had a fresh coat of paint and  dingy walls  can be depressing.  At any rate, there’s  plenty of work to be done, so  there’s not much chance  of complaining that there’s nothing to do.  But right now I’m going to make another  rustic peach and raspberry tart.  I made one  the other day with some peaches  Mr. G had bought at the farmer’s market.  Although  it was a little more “rustic” than I’d hoped it was delicious and  calls for an encore. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Post-treatment Ponderings

Today is my red face day- a combination of  steroid flush and side-effects of Erbitux that hit me the day after a chemo treatment.  This week's treatment was a day early- my oncologist is out of town this week and her partner works at another location on Wednesdays, so with no doctor in the clinic all Wednesday's patients were  scheduled for days when  a doctor would be there should any problems arise with the infusions. I'm glad I was one of the "day early" patients since I should be  more energized and able to do things on the week-end. Not that we ever do much on the week-ends, but who knows, something interesting might crop up. And if it does, I'll be all fit and ready to go.

I missed yoga this  week, which was a bit disappointing. I'd been  cleaning carpets and probably got carried away over the week-end pushing and pulling the behemoth carpet shampooer back and forth across the carpets. I thought  I'd pulled a neck muscle- every time I raised my arm above shoulder level, one of the muscles in my neck and shoulder would harden like a bone, then twitch and throb.  It wasn't terribly painful so much as being very annoying. That combined with the shin splints I've been having after walking on the treadmill made me think that I should sit this Monday's class out, especially since I'd be sitting tethered to a pole  full of infusion bags for four and a half hours  on Tuesday.  Everything seems OK today-no shin splints  or twitching muscles, but I've been pretty sedentary.  Being sedentary is not something I'd recommend as a general rule, but every now and then it's not a bad idea to let your body rest from its labours, I think.

I have a CT scan scheduled for next week, then a colonoscopy (Thrill!) the week after that, followed by another chemo treatment. I'm beginning to have symptoms indicating the rectal tumor may be growing again.  The chemo cocktail of Erbitux and Camptosar I'm currently on has been doing a good job at keeping everything in check much longer than I thought it would,  but we may be looking at the possibility of surgery now, which would result in a permanent colostomy. Not the most wonderful thing to contemplate,  but it probably wouldn't be such a bad thing either, once  I got used to it.  Having   suffered from IBS for most of my adult life going out to eat had been  a no-no, unless I could get a table  very close to the restrooms.  It was always easier to just eat at home, but it would be nice to  try out some of the eateries I've been reading about without  worrying about having an embarrassing accident. My main  concerns about surgery are that I'm  not too keen about being put under with anesthesia for a four hour operation and  since  this is a stage 4 disease, there is always the possibility that it will pop up elsewhere soon after surgery making chemo more difficult because my body  has been weakened by surgery. Anyway, we'll have to see what the scan and scope find and then  discuss the options with the surgeon and oncologist. Once again, I'm hoping for the best but preparing (mentally) for the worst.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Don't Believe Everything I Say

I was going to say that one of the most frustrating things about being on chemotherapy long-term is the chemo brain. But then I got to thinking- -  at my age,  it’s really better to be able to blame memory lapses and such on chemo brain than it is to have people shake their heads sadly and say, “Poor thing, she’s really getting old and forgetful, isn’t she?”  

But actually, I’ve had strange things going on in my brain for years- just ask Mr. G or the kids. When I was a child, I could look at a picture of a giraffe and call it a kangaroo.  And vice versa. The same thing with a hippopotamus and a rhinoceros and a sequoia tree and a sycamore.  In adulthood this  took the form of  mixing up the kids' names. Often, when I went to call one of the five, I’d sometimes have to do the whole roll call before I got the right one.  But that’s another problem entirely, and I’ve heard other mothers say they’ve  done the same thing. Other than those few examples,  I had no problem identifying objects or animals or trees or people. Until recently.  And this is why I have to tell you: if you hear me say I use a walker everyday, don’t believe me.

When I started chemo, I was told to stay out of the sun, and quite frankly, I  reached the point where I couldn’t take Alabama’s summer heat and humidity. I knew exercise was important and signed up for a yoga class and began doing yoga exercises at home. Then I  read a lot of articles on the benefits of walking. So I thought, if we get a treadmill I can walk every day no matter what the weather is doing. We bought a manual treadmill.  But once it was set up in the house I developed a mind block and couldn’t think of what it was called. I began calling it a walker.  Now   there’s a big difference between using a walker and using a  treadmill, not that there is anything wrong with  using a walker- they can be wonderful aids to mobility,  particularly for people recovering from surgery or suffering from fatigue or weakness that makes walking difficult.  And there are times when I am definitely fatigued and when  my hip still remembers that it was hurt in a car wreck years ago and  protests loudly.  But so far, I haven’t needed a walker. So if you hear me say I used the walker today please don’t think I’m a poor little elderly creature who needs to sit down and have her pillows plumped for her. Just think of me as some scatterbrained eccentric who envisions herself stalking  rhinos through the sycamores while  trotting along in relative comfort on her treadmill.😉