Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Checking Back In

I had been having such insignificant side effects from my chemo, that when Dr. Powell wanted to do all three weeks' worth of Taxol last Tuesday, I said "bring it on"! Little did I know that much Taxol at one time would have made such a huge difference. Some severe fatigue kicked in Thursday, but thankfully it passed by Sunday. My energy level is now back to where it was prior to last week's chemo ... nowhere close to what it was prior to my diagnosis, but high enough that for the most part, I'm able to do whatever I'd like. I'd been having some muscle pain in my calves for the last 4-6 weeks, but with the extra doses of Taxol, the pain has gotten pretty intense. I don't let it keep me from my everyday activities, but it certainly does keep me from getting out to walk. I may have to revert back to the more frequent, shorter walks I took right after my surgery ... especially now that we're experiencing more seasonable temperatures. My energy level should continue to increase and my muscle pain should resolve with time. I'm praying for sooner rather than later.


Once my energy level jumped back up, I was able to get back into the sewing room and finished all my Twinkle Twinkle sawtooth blocks. That coin next to the stars is a quarter to give you an idea of size ... the blocks will finish at 3" square.

They're now waiting for me to cut the red setting blocks and piece the top together. My plan for today is to get in there and cut the setting blocks and maybe even get started on the sewing together. Since the weather is going to be so delightful today and since there's another swim meet tonight, that may or may not happen. Ha!


As soon as my WBC and ANC rebound, DH and I will be making that trip to Homestead Hearth. Once I get the sawtooth blocks and setting squares together, it won't take very long before it'll be time for a new project.


I hope that whatever you have planned for today includes a little something that brings you joy ... have a great day!



Friday, June 24, 2016

Back to Normal

In more ways than one.


My youngest sister arrived Monday and went with me to my appointment with Dr. Powell Tuesday morning (more on that later). My younger sister (the middle one of the three of us) arrived late Tuesday, swinging past my dad's to bring him down here as well. It was a delightful visit ... we learned (from my youngest sister) how to cook salmon properly. Even DH enjoyed it, which is saying a lot as he was definitely not a fan of salmon (they really don't know how to cook salmon properly here in the Midwest). We also watched our Cardinals sweep the Cubs.

Kay, the middle sister, me (complete with my post-chemo steroid flush), and Lisa, the youngest sister.


They returned home last night ... perfect timing on this trip because those post-chemo steroids meant another sleepless night, so I'm too tired today to have been much of a hostess. Ha!


Now, as promised: I got a phone call from Dr. Powell's nurse Monday evening with the report that my ANC and WBC were low. He wanted me to go over to Siteman early for a draw Tuesday morning hoping that my counts would bounce back high enough for chemo Tuesday afternoon. But alas, my counts were still too low, and since they've been trending lower each week, it was quite likely that we'd be facing this for the remaining chemos as well. But he had a Plan B to give me the Neulasta on-body injector (to increase production of white blood cells) which would allow me to receive the entire last cycle of chemo that afternoon instead of over the normal 3-week period. Lisa had planned to head back to my house anyway because DH would be able to keep me company during what would have been a 3-hour session (now a 5-hour session because of the increased chemo), so once I started the pre-chemo meds, she headed back. I texted DD who was in class ... her immediate response was that she'd be right there. Granted she had at most only an hour of her 5-hour class session remaining, but she didn't care ... she wasn't going to miss me ringing the bell! I have to tell you, that brought tears to this mama's eyes!


I am to get my blood drawn next week like normal to see how my ANC and WBC are (hopefully back to normal or very close). I'll see Dr. Powell at the end of July, after I have my ct scan. Please be praying that the scan comes back clear. My cancer marker continues to decrease ... down to 8 now. There's no specific goal we're hoping for as the change in the marker is what Dr. Powell is looking for. If the marker decreases or stabilizes in the normal range, that means the chemo is working/has worked. If the marker starts to increase fairly significantly (such as doubling), then that may mean that the cancer is active. Notice I say "may mean" ... the marker is but one tool he will use to monitor me. He will also order periodic scans and keep an eye on any symptoms that may indicate cancer activity. Unfortunately the type of ovarian cancer that I have starts as microscopic seeds that may not be visible even on a scan ... so if scans come back clear and my cancer marker stabilizes and I don't have any symptoms, I'll be considered in remission - with no evidence of disease (NED) - hopefully for a good long time. I told DH that I'm hoping to have another man in my life - Ned (NED). Ha!


I spent Sunday afternoon in the sewing room, where I finished up all my flying geese. Needless to say, with my sisters here, I didn't spend any time in the sewing room until this morning. I cut the center squares for my sawtooth stars and sewed one flying goose unit to each square. I really wanted to get the stars assembled today, but I ran out of energy. Hopefully I'll be able to get a good, restful night's sleep tonight so I can have a more productive day in the sewing room tomorrow.


We picked our first tomato Monday morning ... off our beefsteak plant. There are 3-4 more about the same size,that haven't ripened up yet. Beefsteak tomatoes are supposed to produce nice big tomatoes ... I'm hoping we didn't get a mis-tagged plant. :-o

There will be no BLTs with this tomato! Ha!


I hope that whatever you have planned for today includes a little something that brings you joy ... have a great day!







Saturday, June 18, 2016

Wrapping Up Another a Week

It's been another busy week here at Chez Nana.

Tuesday was Chemo Day ... treatment #21 is now in the books, with just 3 more to go. I'm looking forward to ringing the bell and being a bit of a stranger at the Infusion Center. We finished up at Siteman and made tracks to get to that evening's swim meet just before the first event began. Whew! It was an exciting meet, against the team's arch rival ... the Ts' team won, by a mere 22 points. Papa and I were a little hoarse the next morning. ;-)

I spent Wednesday morning in the sewing room. I haven't been able to get to Homestead Hearth (and probably won't be able to for another week), so I decided to start a small quilt in the meantime.
Source: http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/quilt-patterns/table-runners/twinkle-twinkle

This will definitely be a small quilt, finishing at 28" square. I culled my stash and came up with these fabrics
I'm showing two blacks (bottom row on the right), only one of which will make the cut (pun intended). I got four flying geese units pieced that morning.
Remember I said this was going to be a small quilt! ;-)

I spent Wednesday afternoon at DD's ... best way to spend a hot summer afternoon. And it was hot! My van registered 102 when the Ts and I got in the van to take T#1 to youth group. The rest of the Ts, Papa and I met Daddy at Red Robin for dinner, while Mama stayed home and studied for her Microbiology exam. A day spent doing the things I love and spent with the people I love ... it just doesn't get much better than that!

Thursday morning I took the Ts to swim practice. It was another scorcher, and I have to admit that I was sorely tempted to jump into the pool myself! ;-) It was a long day with an out-of-town swim meet that evening.

There was a very short turn-around as I tag teamed DD with the Ts swim practice. She took them to the pool and spent the first hour and a half there ... I spent the last 3 hours there and took them back home. I was so glad I got the second shift because I got to see T#3 teach himself to do a flip off the diving board after practice.

(Edited to add: it seems that this video is only viewable on a laptop; it doesn't appear to be viewable on mobile devices ... at least I'm not able to view it when I'm on my iPad.  Strange because the video was taken using my iPhone and downloaded it to my laptop from my iCloud ... I really expected it to be viewable from any device.  Obviously it must be a Blogger issue.  Grrrr)

The reason DD and I had to tag team practice was because she went to pick up T#2 from equestrian week at church camp. Doesn't this look like a girl who spent a week in her happy place?

I have to admit that I'm glad there's not a whole lot on the schedule for today. I think a relaxing day in the sewing room is just what I need after a busy week.

I hope that whatever you have planned for today includes a little something that brings you joy ... have a great day!

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Weekend Wrap-Up


It was a very busy weekend here at Chez Nana.


I had lunch with a dear friend on Friday. We had BBQ, and I had my usual brisket sandwich with sweet potato fries ... and they seemed to be even better than usual. Yum! And of course, the company was absolutely wonderful. And look at the sweet gift she gave me ... just because!

And boy, is it true!


Saturday morning we watched our Ts swim - an intrasquad meet. And once again, T#4 spent refused to participate in the warmups. Once again she claimed the water was too cold (although she swam during practices in Thursday and Friday mornings ... and because it got so warm Friday afternoon, I'm confident that the water was warmer than it had been on Thursday or Friday). Yet when the meet started, she swam like a champ. Obviously that girl's got some issues when it comes to warmups. :-o Thankfully there was plenty of shade and a nice breeze, so it wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as we were expecting given that the high for Saturday was pushing 98.


T#3 broke the team's record for 25-yard free for 7-8 y.o. boys, a record that has stood for 30+ years. It won't "count" because it was an intrasquad "meet", but I'm sure it'll fall before the summer is over. The question is who will be holding the record when the season ends because he and his buddy finish neck and neck in just about every event they swim. After the meet, we had lunch with DD, DSIL and the Ts to celebrate the "broken record".


I spent Sunday afternoon in the sewing room, and I got the top finished!

When I laid it out for the photo session, I noticed that I pieced the 4th row backwards (upside down?). That resulted in the same fabric in the same "column" (the second block from the left). I'm not happy about that, but I'm not unhappy enough to rip out the row, rotate it and restitch it. Ha! I'm so pleased with how it turned out ... the secondary design is what put this block on my "to-make" list.


We spent Sunday evening watch the Cardinals win and then the first two periods of the Stanley Cup finals.


T#1 arrived back home late Saturday night, and less than 24 hours later his sister was off to church camp ... equestrian camp. Horses, Jesus, crafts and good friends - you can see why she's got such a big smile on her face.


Today I will get my weekly blood draw, tidy up the sewing room, and check my stash to see if I can find something suitable for my cake stand quilt. I'm doubting it, since my stash enhancements are usually fat quarters ... but it won't hurt to look.


I hope that whatever you have planned for today includes a little something that brings you joy ... have a great day!



Friday, June 10, 2016

Welcome to Summer

Once again, Spring was short-lived.  It was only a little over 3 weeks ago that we had lows in the upper 30s.  Now our weekend forecast is for highs near 100.  

It’s been a fairly busy week here at Chez Nana.  Monday I finished up the last kaleidoscope block and starting piecing together the blocks into rows.  I also spent some time tidying up my sewing room, putting away the blue fabrics … and have started to think about what I might want to work on next.  I think I’ve narrowed it down to a cake stand quilt. 
I am thinking of setting the blocks on point with alternating blocks, like this:
I’m partial to two-color quilts, so I am leaning toward white/offwhite and a yet-to-be-determined color.  I’d thought about choosing white for the alternating blocks, but I have to admit that after seeing the quilt above, I like the idea of using a variation of the color for the alternating blocks.  I may not have enough yardage to do that, not even for a smaller quilt, so there may be a road trip to Homestead Hearth in the not-so-distant future.

As you may remember, Tuesdays are chemo days … this week I had treatment #20 in total, with 4 more to go.  Thankfully my WBC and ANC were high enough for chemo - whew!  My treatment was early morning … I was the first patient in the infusion center.  It made for an early morning, but it left enough time in the day for DD and me to take T#2 shopping for cowgirl boots … she’ll be leaving on Sunday for horse camp.  On our way back home, I asked her if she’d be mucking out stables … I was feeling quite proud of myself that I used the proper term “muck out” until she corrected me that she’d be mucking out stalls, not stables.  Oops!  

I got all my rows pieced by Wednesday afternoon. 
I will spare you all a close-up as my points aren't perfect ... there are 6 layers of fabric where the points come together, so trying to get my points all perfect would simply be an exercise in futility ... I'm good with close.  I was about ready to start piecing the rows together when we unexpectedly lost electricity for about an hour.

Since it was a nice day, I chose to instead go out and take a walk about the yard, checking on my flowers.  My hydrangea is surprising me … the last two summers it’s produced a single bloom and barely survived.  This spring it’s already got 3-4 blooms and a dozen buds that are going to bloom before too much longer.  My balloon flowers are budding … unfortunately only 2 of the 5 plants I planted are still alive.  My spirea has started blooming, my butterfly bush has started to bloom as well, and my hostas are going to be blooming in just a few more days. 

T#1’s youth group leader has been posting pictures of their mission trip on Facebook, which I’ve “borrowed” to share.  The kids have been leading VBS this week … and were able to take in a Texas Rangers baseball game.  I can’t wait to hear all about it when he gets back.  

Thursday was a busy day. DD is taking her last nursing pre-requisite this summer, so I've been "drafted" to take the Ts to swim practice on Thursdays.  And yes, she really had to twist my arm.  ha!  It means an early morning get-up, but I was able to catch a quick power nap when I got home this afternoon, which revived me enough to get out for a nice, long walk after dinner.  

I'm planning to meet a dear friend for lunch ... and to spend the rest of my day in the sewing room.  I am ready to start piecing the rows together.  

I hope that whatever you have planned for today includes a little something that brings you joy ... have a great day!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Catching Up

When we last visited, I was getting ready to head over to see my oncologist and to get chemo #7. Dr. Powell is pleased with my recovery, but he was not pleased with my WBC or ANC counts. When I mentioned that I had to have my blood drawn earlier in the week (Friday rather than the usual Monday, thanks to the Memorial Day holiday), he ordered a stat draw, which thankfully came back with levels high enough to permit my chemo as scheduled. Whew! Oh, they're still lower than we'd like, but as long as they're high enough to allow me to remain on track for my chemo, I'm pleased.

I did get some good news ... my cancer marker as decreased to 10. Normal levels are less then 35 ... and while the marker level doesn't have a precise correlation between the presence (or absence) of cancer, decreasing levels are generally considered to be an indication that the chemo is working. Which is what I am hanging my hat on, so to speak. I'm on track to finish up my chemo on July 5, and Dr. Powell has mentioned ordering a ct scan for early August, when we will be able to see if the chemo is working as well as my cancer markers would seem to indicate.

Wednesday I spent the day at DD's watching the 3 younger grands so mama could take T#1 to the orthopedist ... so he could get a waterproof cast. Perfect timing as the first meet was Saturday (not that he swam ... but more on that later). It was fun to just hang out after they got back ... things had been so hectic the last 3-4 weeks as DD was finishing up spring semester and then doubling up on the homeschooling to wrap up the school year by Memorial Day. So it was even more special to be able to spend some time with my favorite people. <3

Thursday was kind of a "lost day" ... I woke up awfully tired and was tired all day long. I listened to my body and just took it easy. I thought I'd be able to spend the day in the sewing room, but after three blocks, I was just too tired to press on. Thankfully I woke up Friday feeling more energetic, and I made up for Thursday's lack of productivity by piecing 6 more blocks. I've only got 8 more blocks to piece, and then I can start to sew these blocks together ... after I arrange the layout (right now I'm just laying the pieces out as I finish them ... I will want to make sure that my fabrics are evenly distributed).

And now for the swim meet I mentioned earlier. It was the first meet of the summer swim season, on a very rainy Saturday morning.

But more importantly, it was the first swim meet for little T#4. I have to be honest and say that our expectations for her were not very high. After begging over the last year and a half to be allowed to join the team and after working hard to finally be able to swim the length of the pool, she's realized that practices aren't much fun, especially when they take place in an outdoor pool with cold water. I know I asked her several times in the weeks leading up to summer practice if she was ready to practice in the cold water ... she assured me that she was, but needless to say she wasn't! ;-) I had to laugh when talking to one of her coaches who isn't afraid to grab the little ones and "toss" them into the pool if they wouldn't go in on their own (nothing cruel ... he'd grab their hands, lift them up,and slip them into the pool). With tears in her eyes, she would look at Coach Joel and ask him why he was being so mean to her. I don't think she took any solace from his telling her that he had to do the very same thing to T#2 and T#3 (as recently as last summer for #3). When it was time for their team to warm up, sure enough ... she wouldn't get in the water. So Coach Joel picked her up and put her in the water. I'll give #4 credit that she knows that once she's in the water, she isn't allowed to come out until told that she may ... but that doesn't mean that she'll swim. ;-) Sure enough, she spent the warm up session hanging onto the edge of the pool. And when I met her after warmups to wrap her up in her towel, she was whimpering that she didn't want to swim. Nothing Nana said changed her mind. Mama and Daddy tried, too ... to no avail. When she and I walked over to the team tent to get ready for her first event :-o), she wanted to hold my umbrella and mentioned that she wished she had an umbrella of her own. Well, Nana has a mind like a steel trap (ha!) and jumped right on that ... promising her an umbrella if she finished both her events. No, I'm not above a little bribery. Ha! I was surprised, however, when she jumped right on that and agreed. And sure enough, she swam her events ... ok, not all that well, but didn't even get DQd although she came pretty close on her backstroke. So Nana got right on her iPhone and ordered her the rainbow umbrella she picked out.

Here's our swimmer with her post-event celebratory ring pop. ;-) Noticed the princess cap. <3

I mentioned earlier than T#1 wasn't swimming at this meet ... he'd left a few hours earlier on a mission trip to Arlington, TX. He left with explicit instructions to record #4's first events ... he and #4 have a particularly close relationship, so he was awfully disappointed to be missing her first meet. ;-)

The Ts' team did quite well at the meet, with at least one swimmer finishing in the top 3 in most every age group.
These two boys finished #1 and #2 in the 7-8 y.o. boys - as usual. They are so competitive and push each other to swim harder and faster. Thankfully they're good buddies, so the competition is very good natured. This time T#3 (on the left ... with the goofy grin to try to hide the dark blue lips and gums from his ring pop) finished on top.

By the time the awards ceremony wrapped up, most swimmers headed home (the meet was held at a pool about an hour and half away plus the event got started over an hour late because of the storms). But we were able to get a photo op of those who stayed until the very end. Notice that the rain had moved out and the sun popped out AFTER the meet was over.

Today will be another day spent in the sewing room, watching my Cardinals play while I stitch more kaleidoscope blocks. No, I don't expect to get the remaining 8 blocks done today, but I'm hoping to make good progress. And since there's now light at the end of this tunnel, I'm having to start thinking about what I'll work on next. I have a list of quilts that I want to make that is so long that there's no way I'll be able to make them all. ;-)

I hope that whatever you have planned for today includes a little something that brings you joy ... have a great day!