All this and a funny hat

I have been thinking a lot about cancer lately.

Probably doesn’t help that I am slowly reading The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee, (very good book), and I quickly read The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green, (my daughter wants me to see the movie but I wanted to read the book first).

Or that yesterday I went with my mother-in-law for her check up with her oncologist before she starts her 6th chemo tomorrow. She is doing well, happy that the chemotherapy has not been too difficult.

And, (the main reason), is because we have made appointments for my next scan and visit with my ocular oncologist. I know I was calm and not too worried about my iris nevus, but I seem to have gotten back into the mental “is it/isn’t” it loop.

The uncertainty of not knowing.

However, with all this reading I realized that even if the doctor does tell me it is ocular melanoma, (which can only be confirmed by removing it and performing a biopsy) I will still be living with uncertainty, just different questions; will it come back or has it spread? I talked to my husband about my fears, and he pointed out that many people live with uncertainty. My situation my be rare, but my feelings are not.

I found this comforting. We are social creatures, and feeling alone makes everything worse, but I am not alone. So, I will take a deep breath and focus on the other things in my life…

and there are many!

After taking her entrance exams and applying to several universities, my oldest daughter got into Universidad Católica del Norte to study Law. Some of her friends are going to the same university, which might make the early morning commute on the bus a bit easier. (And I know I am being completely selfish, but I am happy that she is staying close. So is her little sister, who still has 8 years before she goes to university).

I have been very busy at Casa Creatif. Not so much teaching, but administrating and organizing. We have different classes for kids from 10am till 1pm most days of the week.

Drawing class

 

Sewing class

My youngest goes with me every day, taking as many classes as she can, and even my Dad and my oldest are taking pottery classes. (He actually taught when I was a baby, but this is my oldest’s first time!)

Pottery class

Pottery class

I have been spinning and knitting, testing projects that use small amounts of hand spun.

Me

A little large for me, but fun, and who doesn’t need a funny woolly hat in the middle of summer!

 

 

 

 

 

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Waiting room knitting

Sometimes I spin or knit with a specific project in mind. Sometimes it is just to pass the time. Recently I have been doing a lot of that while sitting in waiting rooms.

Several months ago I wrote that my mother-in-law was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. She went for radiation therapy in April, which, unfortunately didn’t work. The tumor grew, which was a complete shock; the doctors did not warn us that this could happen.

In May she had the operation to remove the tumor and because of the location, a permanent colostomy was also done. Five days later she was home, and considering the heart problems she had after surgery I believe this was too soon. (But who am I to argue with doctors, oh, and they also failed to show her how to change her colostomy bag).

The surgery she had was major. She had one incision up her stomach, the colostomy, and the incision were they removed her anus. And all of this needed post operative care. For this you either go to the nearest clinic or pay for a nurse to visit you in your house. We paid for a nurse, and my mother-in-law had weekly visits at the hospital with her surgeon to exam her progress. This was a slow and painful process, and an infection in the perineum incision meant she had to go back into hospital.

During this time we also received her biopsy result, not from the doctor but from the report. The cancer was in her lymph nodes, stage III. I understood this, but I am not sure my mother-in-law did, and our visit with her surgeon to discuss the results was rather vague, (…of course the doctor had a very bad cold and we had been waiting 6 hours to see her, so no one really wanted to talk about anything).

That was in July, and now she is feeling better. The incision still hasn’t healed, (it has to heal slowly from the inside out) and for the past two months we have been seeing the oncology doctor to start chemotherapy. This has been frustrating because the oncologist would like to begin treatment, but can’t until the incision has healed and other hospital procedures are completed, and everything inside the hospital takes time…even with URGENT written on it.

My part in this has been my mother-in-law’s advocate and nurse. I learned quickly, crash course style, how to change a colostomy bag, how to change a dressing, how to talk to doctors, how to go from one department to another inside the hospital looking for results and answers, and how to have a lot of patience. Knitting helps with that.

So far our worst “waiting” day was arriving at 10am and being seen at 2pm, then being told we had to see her surgeon who was working in emergency. So off to emergency where we waited till 9pm to be seen. That was a long day. I learned that being nice helps getting the nurses on your side.

I also joined an on-line ocular melanoma group which has really helped me understand more about my nevus. It is a hard group to belong to, sad, and sometimes I feel like there is cancer every where I go. But I also think this has made it easier for me to help my mother-in-law.

I think her cancer has been very hard for her and her family because no one has seen the effects of her caner. Her cancer never made her sick…the operation made her sick and in pain, but not the cancer. Everyone is scared of cancer, but without physical symptoms this cancer is hard to blame.

I know this is supposed to be a fibre blog, and I am sorry for going off track, but helping my mother-in-law is a large part of my life at the moment. Luckily, I have my mom visiting and she has helped support me through all of this. She has been here since June, and it is very nice having her here for this long stay.

Scarf

And just because this is a fibre blog, here is some waiting room knitting, and soon exciting news from Créatif!

Been writing forever

December 29 1982, I spent the entire day in my pyjamas and leg warmers, (probably a Christmas gift), and played with my plasticine and our Texas Instrument computer. I also counted the number of cats in our neighbourhood, nine. I had just turned 12 a few days before.

I know this titbit from my past because on December 25 1982 I was given my first Diary. The first entry began with a headache, bad spelling, and the mention of a cute boy. I kept a diary or journal, (basically following those same themes), up until my first daughter was born. Choose any day in the 80’s and I can tell you what I was doing, maybe even the state of the world – if it included a cute boy.

My diary soothed me, it helped me “talk out” my problems. All those things that teenagers find so dramatic, my diary helped me put into perspective. And even though I do not use this blog as a diary, it still allows me to untangle my feelings, like with my last post. I said what I needed to say about my eye and cancer, and now I can let my freckle just be, (at least until July and my next appointment).

So moving on to wool. The weaving class with my husband’s company has started again after the summer break. We have a new teacher and we are going to make woven wall hangings. In our first class we experimented with weaving cloth strips; an old shirt, a sock, scraps of fabric.

Fabric

I have also been teaching my neighbour how to spin in exchange for some wool from her sheep, (softer than mine). Here is some yarn I spun with her wool, as well as some woven key rings that I am making.

Project

I like the key rings, but need to give them a test run to see how robust they are.

Keychains

A few weeks ago I made a large rectangle nail loom and I have been using that to make shawls and ponchos.

Ponchoweb

More pictures of these can be seen on my facebook page. I started this page because I found that many Chilean crafter’s use facebook to advertise, communicate, and generally connect.

I will use it mainly for pictures and small updates, and keep my blog for when I need to “talk”.

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas

Feliz Navidad!

I know the world did not end on the 21 of December, but for some families it must feel like it did. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost loved ones recently.

Ya se que el mundo no termino el 21 de Diciembre , pero para algunas familias yo creo que si fué. Mi corazón va a todos quines perdieron a sus amados recientemente.

Last year I had many Christmas wishes, this year I feel my wishes have been granted. At least in my small world with the people I love.  I have my husband and daughters close, my brother and his wife are beginning a new adventure with their baby boy, and my mother is also making changes in her life. After being a little dramatic in my last post I am accepting the freckle in my eye and will leave the worrying for when it is necessary.

El año pasado tuve muchos deceos navideños, este años siento que todos se han cumplido. Al menos mi pequeño mundo con la gente que amo. Tengo mi esposo y mis hijas cerca, mi hermano y su esposa comenzando una nueva aventura con su pequeño bebe niño, y mi madre también esta haciendo cambios en su vida. Despues de ser un poco dramatica en mi último post, estoy aceptando mi lunar en mi ojo y dejaré la preocupacion para cuando sea necesario. 

I hope everyone has a beautiful Christmas with their family, either with winter cold or summer heat!

Espero que todos tengan una hermosa Navidad con su familia, sea con el frio del invierno o el calor del verano!

Month of migraines and birthdays

June is migraine awareness month and it is also the month of birthdays.  Both my daughters and my husband celebrate being another year older this month, (some happier than others).

We started with the first birthday this weekend, with my youngest asking me every day last week not to be sick on her birthday, (I was sick on some of her past birthdays).  She is a counter, loves to count off the days, so she has been counting down to her birthday for months.

Of course, as predicted I got a headache on Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday, and on Sunday.  I took my usually cocktails of drugs, mixing and matching, but they only seemed to take the edge off.  (I have tried the maxalt, one of the triptans but I was getting more episodes the year I took them so wasn’t sure if their was a connection).  I have been taking Co-codamol and paracetamol in different doses, which sometimes work great, but are easy to become addicted to, so really not the best method of controlling pain.

On Sunday morning I decided to take nothing and see if the pain would go, but also asked my husband to ask at the pharmacy for something stronger than paracetamol.  By the time he got back from shopping I was desperate.  In Chile migraines are called jaqueca, which I never thought was a real word and didn’t think people really understood how I badly I was suffering when they said oh, you have jaqueca.  (I looked the word up and it comes from Arabic and means half, from the pain that affects half of your head).  My husband bought me medicine for jaqueca, one from the ergot family of drugs.  I had never tried this before, but it worked.  It made me feel a bit weird (I was already feeling weird but in pain as well), but it got rid of the pain quickly.

I could go on and on about how suffering form migraines effects my life; it makes me feel I can’t plan things, I am unreliable, I have to be very careful what I eat, I have stopped drinking (which after a year I am not missing that much), and I get depressed when I can’t do anything because of the pain, or fatigue, or nausea, or the vomiting. This website has a lot of good information and I especially liked this, “10 things I want to share about migraines“.  If you know anyone who suffers please read this and send copies to your friends.

Unfortunately my daughters birthday was not spent the way she had hoped, but a few toys and playing with her sister made it a fun day.

Happy Anniversary blog

Today my blog is one year old, and I have been thinking about how to celebrate.

I wanted to write something nice, not just about how last week my whole family caught some stomach bug.  One by one through the week we took our turns in bed with the “sicky bowl”.  On the positive side we didn’t all get sick on the same day; on the negative side the girls got sick in the evening and I had to sit up all night with them.

But that is not what I want to write about on my anniversary.  I have been thinking about the types of blogs I like to read and the friendships I feel I have made with other bloggers.  Some of the blogs I read are crafty or about small farms, others about lives I find interesting.   Some I maintain a dialogue with and think of them as friends, some I just observe what is happening in their lives.

I never thought my blog would be very personal but I realise now that I am not the type of person who writes just facts.  When I was young I kept a diary, and after that a journal.  From the age of 12 till 24 I wrote about every thing in my life.  This blog isn’t that, but I know the blogs I like are the ones when you feel the person writing.

So with that in mind, and as a way to say thanks to people who read my blog, I am going to share a bit more about myself.

 

Some of the things that make me who I am is the places I have lived.  I was born in Canada, (Manitoba), but then lived in the USA, (Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Minnesota, and Arizona) and in the UK, (Lancashire, London, and Devon).  I now live in Chile, (Region IV).

I am a natural blond, but started going grey after a dream about spiders when I was 20.  Now I am a mix of blonds and white.  When I was younger I always changed my hair colour, reds mainly, but last year while living in the UK I dyed my hair blue/black.  I loved it, but keeping on top of the roots was not worth the trouble.

I hardly wear make-up, never use heels or iron clothes, and prefer to be in comfortable clothes or better, PJ’s!  (which is actually a bit unusually in Chile, PJ’s are for in bed)

I have suffered my whole life from migraines.  They can be a low grade pain for 3 days or severe pain for 3 hours, or the more common headache followed by repeated, day long vomiting. I am always changing my diet and watching what I eat to try and reduce the severity and number of attacks.  (At the moment no MSG and alcohol, which is no fun, I like junk food!)  Not drinking seems to be making the biggest difference, (not that I drank much before), but I am not getting as sick.

Migraine’s shape so much of who I am, from not being able to eat certain foods to worrying about missing special occasions because that is when I always get sick.  I am starting to understand them more now, knowing that stress and lack of sleep are big triggers, and learning to anticipate them.  Luckily I have a very understanding husband who takes over when I “crash” and usually knows when they are coming, telling me to calm down and relax.

I have two beautiful daughters, aged 7 and 15.  The younger likes to do crafty stuff with me, the older one likes to watch TV marathons with me.

Let’see what else?  I am kind of specific about how and where the laundry gets hung, (my family loves to tease me about this), and I love to see laundry on the line.

I cry very easily; sad stories, the news, Disney films, some commercials…

I have a tattoo of a lizard, well it was.  Now it looks like a gila monster.

Oh, and I love wool, and spinning, and felting, and weaving, and everything related to fibre!  But then I guess everyone already knows that.