Monday, March 27, 2023

March 27, 2023 Monday--4:30am

Good early morning!

Been quite a week!


First of all--so much for "consultation".  He wanted to do the bladder scope right then and there in his office!  Threw me, I tell you!  He could tell by the look of panic on my face, I am sure.  Said we could wait but it would be better to get it over and done with.  Swore it would take less than a minute. Really a nice guy.

I was so nervous about the bladder scope, as you could tell.  We all have our things we fear the most.  I had catheter pain in my mind and fully expected it to be done out patient at the hospital.  They usually don't even have you awake for catheter insertions because they are so painful.  I had not been awake for my previous bladder scope or tumor surgery (done together) or my catheter I was hoping to be asleep for this and assumed it was going to be really painful.

Well, it is awkward--stirrups, slathered with iodine, embarrassing (to have a nurse practitioner parting the way while it is done), and the insertion was a bit painful for a moment (but nothing like I had imagined in my mind), then was just weirdly uncomfortable as he moved the camera around...and done!  Yup!  Less than a minute!  Not fun, but not that bad.  Good, because I was told I need to have this done every six months also--along with my CT scan every six months.  Just maintenance checkups!!

 I am sooo glad it is done AND my bladder was clear!  Officially am CANCER FREE!  TA DA!!!  

He was very understanding and now I know what this scope thing is all about so won't be so nervous next time.  Not that it is fun, but it's tolerable and quick.  (Would imagine easier for women.)  The CT scans have usually been a breeze for me.  (The only problem can be a nurse who isn't good at putting an IV in--don't like needles--only had that once--that's always a random possibility.)  The scan itself is easy.  Way shorter than the PET or MRI.  So, I am just on maintenance double-checking now!!


Monday morning I got a message from Dr. Failing's nurse that they had already called in the steroid prescription!  The prescription is a little bit stronger and a little bit longer AND she apologized again for the delay and wanted me to let them know how I was doing after a while.  Made me feel so much better to know they heard me and care what happens to me.  I had honestly fallen back into the feeling I had at Essentia--that I was on my own and it was pointless to try to tell them how I felt and what was happening, you know? 

Now I feel safe there again.  :) 

So, Leah and I were able to pick up the prescription after the bladder scope appointment so I could start the steroids on Tuesday morning!  Wasn't wishful thinking after all--lol!   And my sinuses and the mucositis mouth are getting better.  Not the diarrhea, though, so far...but I am hopeful.  I have four weeks on the pills this time instead of 20 days.  And they are reduced 4-3-2-1 a day for a week instead of 4-2-1-1/2 a day every five days.  Fingers crossed.  I haven't had any burst of energy right away this time or endless hunger.  But last night I did finally get some things done--so maybe it is just kicking in.  :)


Keanna came to clean in the afternoon.  Made it before the bigger snow storm.  The critters always know when a storm is eminent and are here chowing down in preparation. 

Leah and the boys had a few things to drop off.  The snow had started by early evening, though, so I met Leah at the front door to get the bag so they could high tail it home.  No visit with the boys this week.


I am rarely able to catch the weather report to hear how much snow we got, but since my days and nights are flipped I could find it online that morning.  5.7 inches.  I knew it looked like a decent amount drifted out there.  You can see where the critters had been by already digging on my patio for some something to eat in the fresh snow.  I tossed out some seed...

...and noticed that covey of partridges had dug a new hole in the side of the snowbank by that sidewalk again.
They heard me open the patio door...
...and out they came!  There were six of them snuggled in that hole.
Just makes me so happy to see when they do that!

Allie follows me around as I do my tasks.
Funny, though--she doesn't follow me in to observe when I scoop her litter box--LOL!

Before and after a good storm even the arctic hares sometimes show up when it is still light out for a nibble.

And the cotton tails, too.
Meanwhile, I spent every other day in the bathroom with diarrhea--lol!  I told you Allie comes in to keep me company when I am stuck in there for a while.  She wants some petting and then she settles in on the rug to wait. 
This was the middle of the night and she was trying so hard not to fall asleep--lol!
She certainly does keep me company.  :)

I've been watching the free Sketchbook Revival classes all week.  Two a day from Mar 20 till Apr 1, but I think they are still available to watch till mid April.  I also follow some bookbinders and paper crafters.  Made me want to show anybody new to my blog my bookbinding supplies.  I am so thrilled with my new punching cradle.  

I started out years ago by using a telephone book for punching holes.  Then I bought this heavy cardboard cradle punch I used for years and years.  I had to keep taping it up and it was causing all kinds of gummy issues with the awls...till I finally bit the bullet last year and purchased a wooden one!!  Should have done it years ago!  But I wanted to make sure it was something I was going to continue to do, you know?  Since I have been off and on now for a couple decades--I figured it would be worth the investment.  And it certainly is.

It came in this pouch.  I keep it with a thin mat that keeps us from poking divots in the tabletop. 
Unpacked to show you.
I love just looking at the wooden punch cradle!
Having the angled sides and the gap at the bottom makes a punch cradle.
With a telephone book, like I started with, you open in the center, lay it out, and that gives you the angles and a center line to aim for. 

You can use an awl, but anything with a point will do--even a big needle stuck in a cork.  But those needles you see there are my darning needles without sharp points that I use for sewing the bookcards together.  They wouldn't work for hole punching.  And that's my teflon bone folder for creasing paper.
Even all my hole templates fit in the bag!  
Whenever I needed more than a three hole I made templates from thicker watercolor paper.

When I was in an art class in college (2002, I think) the teacher asked if anyone would like to volunteer for a bookbinding mini-class for a few days.  Me!  Me!  A few of us took the instructions and I was totally hooked!  

Thinking about that made me wonder where the case bound little book is that I had made in that class?  Couldn't find it.  Looked everywhere I could think of.  I'll find it one day.  Might even be in a memorabilia bin in the garage--who knows?  But I know I didn't ever want to get rid of it...and was afraid to actually use it--lol!  But I did learn how to make a totally encased book with a spine and all.

While I was searching I came across my coptic stitch art journals I made back then!  
And the fifth one I actually have used...back when the internet and YouTube introduced me to mixed media and art journaling after I became housebound in 2004.  Coptic stitch with the open spine lies totally flat and is better for art journals, I read, so I learned how to do that from YouTube videos.

Those of you who have been with me for all these years on the blog have seen these before...but here they are.  The little red one is made from leather scraps! 
I even made a few that I sold on Etsy and a couple custom ones with Chinese brush painting paper in them back when.  I used artist quality paper with the ones I sold, but I bought the cheapest student grade watercolor paper for the ones I made for me.  Never again.  They're useable, but not for watercolor--for me, anyways.  But that disappointment helped me discover mixed media (on YT) and these are just fine to play in for that because you often use gesso and can collage on them.  But I'll never use them for actual watercoloring because I do not like all the buckling, bleed through, and the watercolor paints don't react the same way as on artist quality paper.  Fussy me, eh?  So they are my mixed media art journals--even though they don't have mixed media paper and that wasn't my original intent--lol!  I'm not sure I'll ever be brave enough to use that giant one I made--lol!  Still trying to learn to be a wilder, looser woman...with a paintbrush and art supplies, at least--LOL!  ;)

The one journal I have started and used randomly has been fun once I got in the proper frame of mind--lol!  It is just for playing and it is just for me to have fun and learn techniques.  I really did enjoy playing with color.  No surprise there!  
Mark making with acrylics...
...and blowing ink around with straws or a compressed air can were my favorites.
Ian and I have always loved mark making with junk you would throw away.  (Daddy even jumped in a few times at my place on Gramma Days.)  I have some boxes filled with a variety of trash for us to play with.  I know Liam will love it, too!  

Of course I also ran across some very old sketchbooks!  Watercolor Moleskines.
My Everyday Matters sketchbook!!  I was in that online group back in 2003 and you just drew pictures from the daily challenge list.  This was the start.  Draw a shoe.  (Sadly I still have those shoes--but I only use them as my boots in the winter and you know how often I go anyplace--ROLF!.)
The last one I drew was number 44--Draw an animal.  A sketch of Miss Karma on the back of my chair at West Winds apartment.  Something was bleeding through the paper by her head...
...was the Fargo theater sign from the Draw a landmark from your city.
Looking through them I don't think I was as bad as I thought I was at drawing.  Probably better than I could do now, for sure.  

And then the other Moleskine sketchbook...didn't use very long for drawing.
Started using it for color charts...

...but you can tell I still loved to play with color!
Anyways, it was a trip down memory lane for me that I thoroughly enjoyed.  

I also had a couple people ask how I sewed the bookcards together.  A three hole pamphlet stitch is the simplest way with a single signature (set of nested pages) to be sewn inside.  Don't even have to use a template for those.  For those who were interested I have a couple links.  

Last one has pockets that I don't do for letters, but I love her pretty paper and she shows clearly what she is doing. 

How did I get into making these "bookcards" for letters?  It was because of a handmade papermaking kit!  I had all these handmade papers I loved making (fell in love with my new Arnold Grummer kit)...but then...what to do with all those pretty papers, right?  Well, this letter writer thought they were the perfect size to fold in half to make a card, right?  But you couldn't actually write on the paper well at all.  So--tried putting a piece of card stock for a liner inside to write on.  The handmade paper was too textured so that nothing worked...not double sided tape, liquid glue, or glue sticks.  When I thought of sewing a piece of paper to the inside (which would look awful on the backside)...I thought of the college bookbinding class!!  So, using the handmade paper for the covers I could add some paper inside in a single signature with a pamphlet stitch...well, it was perfect!!  Turned those unusable handmade paper cards into a little book-letters.  Hence I just started calling them bookcards.

When I was out of my own handmade paper...well, you know how I write letters...I used my scrapbook paper and even bought "handmade" paper and other pretty papers for covers.  Been making these off and on for a couple decades now.  They are a bit of work, so when I do make them I make them in huge batches to last a while, as you have seen recently.  Been saving the embroidery thread remnants all this time--which is why I have had to get a bigger and bigger container for the threads over the years--LOL!  I need to make handmade paper again as soon as I am healthier.  It is on the messy side.  Leah and I had thought about doing it out on my patio last year--but I still felt like crap, honestly.  I figure if I get moved by fall or winter this year that probably the summer of 2024 I will be out on the deck with the boys and Leah making paper again!!  Even if I felt a ton better by this summer, you know that packing and purging will be the priority.  

Can you tell I am dreaming of when I actually might feel back to my normal?!  :)

All you have to do is give me a thread to hang on to--like just starting to see improvement again on the steroids--and I want to cling to it fiercely!  :) :)



On Friday the floor guy came and did the epoxy and burnishing!  

The basement floor is finally done!
This coffee table was in the way in the garage this winter so when the floor was done they moved it downstairs for now.  Can you see Blink hiding inside on the shelf?  Now they can start the framing next, I believe.  

I told you Leah and I had been discussing paint colors.  Living in apartments most of my life I do not want any white walls, either--just as Dagan and Leah didn't.  They have a lot of these light tan colored walls...
...and I would like that on all my ceilings!  No white ceilings for me.

Leah has this what looked to me like an orangish terra cotta...but Leah says it is an actual her laundry room and inside of the closet in the school room.  I have always loved it--much to my surprise.  Have never considered myself a yellow or orange person, you know?  But I have kept thinking about this orange being in the studio!
Not much of the walls are going to show in any room of my apartment with all the bookcases and the wardrobes and all...but I want something bright and fun in the studio peeking out everywhere.  So I am actually planning on this orange for the studio walls.   :)

In the living room I want a kind of milk chocolate brown...on the lighter side.  Not a dark brown.  Will have to look for it.  Maybe even a caramel brown.  I figure I'll know it when I see it.  Not sure if I am going to put any color in the bathroom or kitchenette.  They may just be the light tan color of the ceilings.  Leah said I can pick some color for the maintenance room where my washer and dryer will be and could even pick a color for the walls down under the entryway where the storage shelves will be -- outside of my front door at the bottom of the stairs.  But that isn't part of my apartment, so I don't know.  Might be fun to pick something colorful, though.

I haven't had the burst of energy or endless hunger I got immediately with the first round of steroids...but I think some energy appeared yesterday finally.  Last evening I finally was up at the table working on a revised moving master list and then setting up letters!  

They are all bookcards!!  Whoohoo!  I was so far behind again...can really tell when I am feeling awful...had 18 of them!!  Lots of wonderful paper chats ahead of me!!  Sorry I have taken so long everybody.  You can always tell when I am feeling really bad (or more rarely the past couple years--when I am super busy) because my letter writing fades away.  I am one of those people who doesn't want to talk when I don't have anything good to a sick dog that just wants to go hide under the porch and be left alone till it heals up or dies, you know?  ROFL!  Thankfully, I had good news Monday--cancer free!--and the steroids are finally kicking in some.  I have a little longer and larger dose this time so I am hoping I will feel better and STAY feeling better this time.  (Please-please-please let this be the last time I get knocked back!!)  

I have a tight grip on that thread, folks!  

Maybe my hours will switch back to days again, too.  I had been just napping usually around 3 hours at a time a couple random times a day.  Yesterday I totally crashed from 10:30am till 10:15pm!!  The crazy hours do wear on me--but I hope that works itself out, too.

Oh, and I realized yesterday that I have done it again!  Totally spaced out from feeling so cruddy and forgotten all the March birthday cards!  So they will be coming my fellow birthday folk.  Belated cards will be sent soon.  Sorry.  And my tomorrow.  72 years old!  I made it.  Well, no till odds are good--ROFL!  I can tell you there have been times since Oct 2021 that I have wondered if I would make this milestone.  

Grasp tightly to those positive threads of hope.  

Be grateful for all the little things.

Be thankful for all the good souls in this world who are so kind and caring and thoughtful.

It is a happy birthday, indeed.

Thank you all!!!!  :) :)

Till next week, my friends!

Sunday, March 19, 2023

March 19, 2023 Sunday--6:45pm

Good evening!

Since I have my consultation with the urologist tomorrow I am posting today instead of Monday.  This will be to meet the doctor and discuss the bladder scope.  (Not looking forward to this--have so enjoyed being left alone for all these weeks.)

How did the past week go?  Well, the shingles are getting better.  Still have the rash but it is less painful.  But all the other stuff has gotten worse again.  I am about back where I was with the Keytruda side effects before the shingles hit.  Mucositis (dry, sticky mouth), sinuses (back to one nostril if I'm lucky--it was so nice to have both for a while there), diarrhea (even had twice where I had to jump in the shower it was that bad), and non-functional tired and listless.  Yup!  Got knocked back once again.

After the terrible diarrhea I once again requested online to get another round of steroids (last Wednesday) but never heard anything back.  I am not familiar with how Sandford works, but I'm not using that method anymore.  I will try to call somebody.  Which I would have but my days and nights are still flipped and really off (often awake all night and sleeping all day) and just didn't care enough, to be honest.  Have you ever felt so crummy that you have no energy to deal with doing anything about it?  (Plus I had already been turned down and maybe am worse because the steroids were hard on my immune system?)  I didn't care.  Just enduring and trying to ignore it all.  

Going to be very tired at this appointment tomorrow I would imagine--would love to cancel, honestly.  But, don't worry--I do know I need to go so I have been taking Imodium so I can get there.

Anyways, we've had more snow off and on.  Allie has been watching the Critter Cafe Show.

So windy it was blowing back feathers on the partridges.
Middle of the night photos of the back sidewalk in-between the buildings...
...and the front in-between sidewalk.
They don't keep up with the rest of the sidewalks very well--except by the main front doors of each of the three buildings.  Especially in the back of the buildings.

Anyways, Blaine and his younger son, Ryan, stopped by on Tuesday to pick up Grandpa's desk.  It was two years ago they dropped it off.  Who knew I was going to be moving.  Not me!  LOL!  They stayed for a short visit.  
While they were here Leah and the boys stopped by to drop off some groceries.  When they all left I slept all evening.  That is how it has gone--lol!

More arctic hares around lately.  Usually during the night but recently they have stopped by when the sun is going down.  Maybe daylight savings time has them thrown off, too--lol!  I've seen up to 5 or6 of them after dark out there!  
I finished selecting threads for the bookcards and began sewing them together.
Four trays worth to sew.
Allie wasn't happy about my lap being occupied for three nights--lol!
I'd pile up bookcards to be sewn on one side...
...had needle and leftover thread jar on the other side.
So that was what I was doing while I was up all night long for several days.  (Living in an apartment building you don't want to make a lot of noise at night and this was a perfect activity.)
As you can see, I am surrounded by all kinds of writing supplies and things I might need all of the time--lol!  

Anyways, I finished this big batch!!  Two satchels are packed full now!
What I had left from last batch and this new batch will last me a long time now.  
What am I going to do with all the pieces of embroidery thread? 
 I will sit and cut them into tiny pieces to use them for inclusions when I make handmade paper!  The first summer I am living at the house I think the boys will love making thread confetti paper with Gramma out on the deck.  I made some years ago and I do love the colorful paper it makes...which I then use for bookcard covers--lol!

Also had a few larger bookcards that didn't fit in the satchels.  Used an odd sized paper for these covers that needed the half sheet sized envelopes they're sitting on.
Have really enjoyed seeing the arctic hares in the daylight.
Hard to realize in a photo how huge they are.
There's been about half a dozen of them coming around at night.
They fight over the food quite often and Allie and I will hear one of them bang against the glass patio door.  Startles us every time!
I forgot to ask Leah if the floor guy came this week to do the epoxy.  Texted her but she hasn't answered yet.  Probably busy with the boys and dinner.  She hasn't sent any pictures, though, so I rather doubt it.  Probably this coming week.

Anyways, hopefully I will know more about the bladder scope after the visit tomorrow.  I'm hoping they can't schedule it for a while.  Weeks!  (Or maybe say I don't need it at all.) Wishful thinking?  I should probably try calling Dr. Failing's nurse to see if he would renew the steroids tomorrow, too.  We could swing by and pick them up at the pharmacy.  Wishful thinking?

Leah texted me back.  Nope--no epoxy yet.  She expects he'll be there this week then.  There will be pictures!

So, that's it from this last week.  I hope I can get a decent amount of sleep.  (I did sleep less during the day today so that may help.)  I am thrilled that I finished the bookcards!!  I was bound and determined to get one thing crossed off my to-do list so I kept plugging away.  Feels great knowing that big project is finally done!  I don't think tomorrow will be too difficult of a doctor visit--just be glad when I am back home.  (Will probably sleep all evening--lol!)  Thanks to you all for your kindness and support.  It means a lot.  Especially when I get knocked back so many times.  This too shall pass.  And one day I will be making handmade confetti paper with Leah and the boys on the deck on a beautiful warm day.  

I am determined.  ;)