Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Storms Never Last ...

... at least that's a thought I hang on to. I'm so frustrated with these bones and joints and muscles and tendons. Why are they getting worse now? Is it because I'm back on Tamoxifen? DAMN! I hurt in places that haven't usually bothered me. In my forearms, for example. And my fingers hurt and they haven't really bothered me for some time. Sometimes it feels like the only thing missing are the bolts on the side of my head.

Today ... and this may be because of this new medication I'm trying ... the bottoms of my feet, which are numb, feel puffy. The balls of my feet. It feels like I'm walking on balloons. It feels very strange, especially because of the numbness. It was actually easier to ride my bike to work than it would have been to walk from the parking lot to the office. Biking is easier than walking in that there's less "weight-bearing". Pedaling only hurts my knees and hips for a little while and then I move along quite easily. Walking now doesn't so readily get to the "smooth sailing" stage.

Obviously this new medication isn't helping, at least not yet. And, in fact, I think I'm starting to retain fluids again like I did on the previous drug. I'll monitor the puffiness tomorrow and call my doctor if it looks like it's truly getting worse. I think he'll put me on a diuretic if that's the case. Lovely.

You know, I wouldn't be so grumbly about this joint/bone/muscle/joint problem (caused by the Arimidex, which I was only on for 6 weeks) if I had reason to believe it was something I just have to accept. But I've been told it should go away. Nobody has said, "Oops. It looks like you're one of the unlucky ones." If that was the case, I would then be resolving to just deal with it. But because no doctor has really tried to get to the bottom of this and address it with me, I still feel like there's something that can be done about it if only I can figure out what that is. So far time hasn't solved the problem. This problem has lasted much longer than I was told it would. And if I call the "Champion Centre", they want you to talk to your family doctor. They really don't want to have anything to do with you ... especially if there's "an issue" ... once you're done your treatments.

Anyway, I will carry on and try to rise above my frustrations and give my family doctor some time to see if there's a medication other than morphine that will bring relief. And if there isn't ... bring on the morphine!!

Good thing there are pretty flowers to look at! It's quite the storm going on out there right now! Lots of impressive thunder and lightning! No hail, please.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Scones. Yummm.

I made scones this morning. I've tried making them before but have not been very happy with the results. It's tough when you've experienced the best which are stuck in your memory like delicious glue. The scones of happy memory were made my Kevin's Auntie Jean. I meant to get the recipe to try them myself. I've heard her daughters speak of trying to make them like their Mom but not being so successful either. They were the best scones EVER! *sigh*

Still, the ones I made today, while not the same, were VERY good. I'm happy with them and will try them again, experimenting with flavours. When they came out of the oven the smell of lemon in the house was lovely and they taste lemony, too. If you're not so keen on lemon, you can simply omit it and I'm sure they'd still be just as good, just different. Orange peel might be good, too. And, I should mention that one of my most cherished kitchen tools is my zester pictured here. It is EVER so handy.

Here's the recipe I used, with variations, from It has a great rating and lots of good tips and suggestions for variations in the comments. I used currents because I had some that needed to be used up.
Meyer Lemon and Dried Blueberry Scones (without Meyer lemons nor dried blueberries according to Heather)

  • 3 cups self-rising flour (I used 3 cups regular flour, 3 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt --- as recommended in the comments)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 & 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 & 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 & 1/2 cups dried wild blueberries (I used currents but I see lots of people used dried cranberries or fresh blueberries)
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1 & 1/2 Tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon peel or regular lemon peel

  1. Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 425°F.
  2. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk self-rising flour and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl.
  4. Using fingertips (or one of those tools designed for this purpose, which is what I used), rub in chilled butter until pieces are size of small peas. (I have since learned that my food processor makes short work of this - easy peasy)
  5. Add dried wild blueberries and toss to coat.
  6. Mix 1 cup buttermilk and finely grated lemon peel in glass measuring cup.
  7. Pour buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients and stir until dough begins to form (some of flour will not be incorporated).
  8. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and gather together. Knead dough briefly, about 5 turns.
  9. Divide dough in half. Form each dough half into ball and flatten into 1-inch-thick disk. Cut each disk into 6 wedges.
  10. Transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Brush tops with remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.
  11. Bake until scones are golden brown on top and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
 *Note: I tried using cranberries instead of blueberries and orange zest instead of lemon zest and I think they were even better!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

More Solar Gardens

I LOVE Great Danes. I want one.

There are SO many birdhouses!

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Amazing Succulents!

The class was great! There were almost 100 people there taking the class ... more than they had anticipated, I think. Still, very good. Interesting. Beautiful grounds. Cheerful instructor. Very satisfying. To learn more about Solar Gardens and what's available there, here's the link ... Solar Gardens.

This is the succulent pot I put together. I'm very pleased with it. I just hope I don't kill it. I'm going to try not to. Really hard.

This is Roger, our instructor, sharing information while touring us through the greenhouses.

This wreath that hangs on the outdoor pizza oven is gorgeous! After the class people were ordering pizzas and drinks and lounging around the pool, or dangling their feet in.  Roger and Chris have done some beautiful development of their grounds with lots more in the works it looks like.

Here is one of several dramatic displays of succulents!


I Got A New Drug ...

... one that (hopefully) won't make me sick!

Naproxen is the name. It sounds pretty similar to the drug I was just taking before ... that didn't really work. I'm a little disappointed that it is in the Ibuprofen (Advil) family because the last drug and especially Advil make me puff up. My doctor says that if that happens again, he'll prescribe a diuretic. Oh, joy. Fun and games with pharmaceuticals. Somehow it feels wrong and yet I so want something that will give relief from joint/muscle/bone/tendon pain and stiffness.

Today isn't as bad as yesterday in terms of that strangely elevated pain. I don't at all understand the whims of this malady. In the night I woke up with pain in that spot on the soft underside of my upper arm where I had that nasty infection (when I was hospitalized after my first round of chemo last year around this time). Doctors never did figure out the what and why of that infection. Eventually one of the antibiotics they tried caused it to slowly diminish but a little redness from that infection remained for many months after ... it would sometimes flare up a little and then subside a bit again without totally going away. I haven't looked at it for a long time because, for one reason, I can't because I can't raise that arm high enough to see it very well ... because of the frozen shoulder, which is still pretty bad on my left side while my right shoulder is much improved. This morning, despite the pain in night, there is only some residual pain in that spot on my arm. Isn't that strange?! I'm so used to none of this making any sense that it doesn't really surprise me anymore and I don't get too bent out of shape about it, otherwise I'd be messed up all the time. So all I do is document it here. Just in case the information comes in handy sometime ... and Lord knows I can't rely on my memory. Maybe some day it will make more sense than it does now.

Meanwhile here are some morning flowers. Notice the white spider in the last one? I didn't see it there until I was looking at the photos later! COOL!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Colourblindness - A Few More Examples.

I remember, several years ago, being in a city where the traffic lights were shaped instead of all being round. Having a family with so many colourblind men in it, it immediately made sense to me. I wonder why this isn't standard in all cities since anywhere from in 1 in 12 to 1 in 20 men are colourblind? That's a lot of people. Enough to influence design. Here's an example of what traffic lights should look like.

And here are some more examples of how Luke (and many others) see the world. Flowers.  So sad!


Visualizing Colourblindness

Several years ago I found this website ... Vischeck ... that allowed me to "see what Luke sees". I was very upset. Knowing that he was colourblind did not really prepare me for this. For someone who loves red as much as I do, realizing that my son ... nor my Dad or any of my brothers ... can see it at all made me so sad. I got over it, though. This is the world as they know it. They don't miss red.

Every year when Luke would start school with a new teacher, I would print a few of these types of images just so his teacher would understand what Luke could and could not see. In elementary school it's important that a teacher know and understand. Luke would hold up a brilliant green marker and ask, "Is this red?" or "Is this brown?" Maps are challenging for people who are colourblind. So is coloured chalk on blackboards. I would print off this information about colourblindness for the teachers every year, too.

These are some examples of life through the eyes of someone who is red/green colourblind. I was initially so shocked at the difference that I asked Luke if the two photos looked different to him. He looked carefully and then he suggested that maybe the blue was a slightly different shade in one than the other. To my eye, the blue was one of the few things that looked the same. Strange!

It made me sad that our complexions all look pasty beige to a colourblind person. Then again, this is their normal. It makes me wonder how they know (or don't know) if someone has a fever or is blushing? What I do know is that someone who is colourblind compensates in other ways. They have a keener eye for shape. Dad would pick strawberries by shape. I was told that during the war they would use colourblind people in the air when they flew over the land to help them detect camouflage.  I know from experience that colourblind people can be very good at putting together jigsaw puzzles. They go mostly by shape.Their mistaken attempts at fitting a piece in can look peculiar ... trying to put a red piece of flower in a green tree. It's all about shape.

If you wonder what your world looks like to a colourblind person, try out this handy web tool ... Vischeck.

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Yellow Pansies For Luke

Not to suggest Luke is a pansy! He probably doesn't even notice that I plant yellow pansies every year especially for him. When he was little and we would go to the greenhouse, he ALWAYS chose yellow pansies for planting. Probably the yellow because he's colour-blind (red-green deficient). Yellow is the colour he sees best. He chose egg-yolk yellow paint for his bedroom. Of course, I don't JUST get YELLOW pansies. I love all the different colours and bring home as many different colours as I can sneak past Kevin.

On the plus side of things, I've slept well the last couple of nights and, as a result, I've felt much more rested and alert during the day. YEAH!!

On the down side, for the past two days my bones and joints have been MORE sore than usual. I have no explanation. Neither does my doctor. He wonders if I haven't had some kind of flu minus half the usual symptoms. When I got out of bed last night to pee, I almost collapsed when my feet hit the floor. I expect a bit of stiffness but my feet actually hurt. The bar of soap running over my skin hurt. All over. Only when touched, mind you. I got through my day just fine but was aware of how much more stiff and sore I was than usual whenever I moved about. I just don't understand it.

Anyway, my Doctor prescribed me another type of anti-inflammatory/pain killer that I pick up tomorrow. I don't know what it's called at this point but I'm game to try something.

Tomorrow I have my succulents class in the afternoon. I'm so excited! Luke has lacrosse games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, so I'll look forward to watching those. I'm interested to hear how things were in Maple Creek where he's been working for the past few days. He should be home very soon.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Garden Today

I braved the mosquitoes and snapped some quick pics before the beasts had a chance to land. I won't tell you how many photos I had to delete because mosquitoes were landing as I was clicking resulting in fuzzy photos.

Our white peonies are in bloom. The pinks will follow.

This year we found different colours of monkey paw - or kangaroo paw - plants. So, in addition to our usual reddish-orange one, we have yellow and pink! COOL!!

I don't know where this white poppy came from! But I'll take it. And I went with a dark fuchsia this year. I like it.

I rode my bike to work and back both yesterday and today! I don't know if my legs are more tired than the previous day when I rode it to work or if my tires are a little lower in air pressure. For some reason riding wasn't quite as easy as it seemed before. I'm guessing that a little more air in my tires might make a difference, though they don't feel at all low.

I finished those pills my doctor had me try. Well, I almost finished. There are two left and I'm not going to bother with them. If they were going to help my joints and muscles, it would have been evident by now. Besides, they seem to really upset my stomach (and the connecting plumbing) and they cause fluid retention. My feet, legs and hands are all a bit puffy. Not REALLY puffy ... just a bit. I'm going to phone my Doctor and make arrangements to move to Option B ... whatever that is. He told me to prepare for some trial and error. I want to give myself a few days for the puffiness to go down, at least.

I'm also so bloody tired! I can't say the medication has caused that. Maybe it's to be expected. I just wish I wasn't so tired. It makes it hard to focus, though I did better today. Homes don't self-sustain themselves, unfortunately. By the time I get home, I just want to be a lump. Lumps aren't so good at laundry, dishes, cooking, or cleaning bathrooms. They're not even good at quilting.

It sounds like Luke (and Arden, too) will be going to Maple Creek tomorrow with a work crew to help clean out water damaged basements. The boss wanted them to stay for the weekend but the boys need to be back for lacrosse. I imagine that means they'll be in Maple Creek next week, too.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Our Smart Girl!

I have some happy news to share about Hannah. She just learned that she won the Andrew MacIntosh Book Prize in Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia. One of her professors submitted her final essay for his class and she won! It is "in recognition of the outstanding paper [she] wrote for an undergraduate Art History seminar."


This photo is one of Hannah from high school that I tinkered with. I think she looks especially studious in this photo.
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And Now For Something Different ...

... such as the back of my head! Scary, isn't it?!! I've only ever shown you front shots. It didn't occur to me that the back was THIS much thinner. I could tell by feel that it was a little thinner and some people had commented that it was a bit thinner at the back. But I didn't realize I was still practically BALD back there. Not until yesterday that is, when I thought to hold up a mirror in order to see the back. CRAP!! It really is VERY thin there compared to the perimeters. I am now especially self concious of people being behind me. So much for my "Nobody puts Baby in the Corner" philosophy. Please DO put me in the corner and with my back against the wall.

After seeing this, I wore a hat to the Farmer's market. I slept in yesterday and I knew what I wanted to get at the Farmer's market so I planned a quick trip there around lunch time. But I ran into Patio and her favourite niece who is visiting from BC so I sat with them for a while for a bit of a chin wag. Then I had a chat with Gail who I went to library tech with oh so many moons ago. We had worked together at the University Library as well a very long time ago. She had breast cancer 13 years ago. She would have been 40 or 41 when she was diagnosed. Hers was stage II ... an estrogen fed, aggressive tumour ... much like mine. She took a radically different approach, though, and I commend her courage. She decided that she was NOT going to go through the ravages of chemo and radiation and all the drugs that followed. She opted for a mastectomy and had her uterus and ovaries removed as well. She also changed her diet and de-stressed her life, which she felt was critically important. Even though these weren't options presented to her, she did her own research and followed her gut and was insistant with the oncologists who discouraged her chosen course of action. She has never regretted her choice. Hats off to her. It takes great courage and strength of will to reject the recommendations of "the professionals". Talking with her was good for me even though my course of treatment has been different. I wonder how I would have responded to a full hysterectomy. It was never offered as an option. Maybe my being closer to menopause than Gail would have been had something to do with that. Taking Tamoxifen increases one's odds of getting uterine cancer. Some women choose hysterectomies to avoid taking Tamoxifen. I'm not sure why, then, if you're already in menopause, why one still takes Tamoxifen. I find it all very complex and hard to follow. I need to read again so I might better understand.

My stomach was a little off in the afternoon. I think maybe I did have a bit of a bug but I think this medication upsets my stomach as well. My stomach is less troubled than it was during the week ... only occasionally and slightly bothered. I think this medication is making me retain fluids as well. My shoes are all a little snug ... and not just on my sprained ankle foot. My legs also feel a bit tight. Confirmation of that comes from the scale which shows I've suddenly gained 3 pounds while I've been eating less (because of my upset stomach). Perhaps this is because the drug I'm taking has some of the same ingredients as Advil and this ... but on a much greater scale ... is what happens to me when I take Advil (or other Ibuprofen drugs). My joints are improving any so I already feel certain this drug is not for me. I'll talk to my Doctor about it next week and then, I imagine, we'll try something else.

Luke had two lacrosse games this weekend. They won yesterday's and tied today's. It was nice to finally get to watch him play again. Next week his games are here again, too. Yeah!!
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Happy Father's Day, Kevin!

Kevin loved these giant leaves that we found on our residential walk in Vancover. I don't know what they are but I know we've never seen them here.

For Father's Day, Kevin got to watch his son play lacrosse! That was his big treat. I had planned on making them a special breakfast but they were up and on their way to the game ... stopping at Timmy's ... before that could happen. So I'm making dinner instead while he's hitting a bucket of balls at the golf course.

He deserves more. That's for sure.

Happy Dad's Day to you, too, Don. And to my Dad, too. And to all you Dad's out there.

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Happy 25th Anniversary, Lori and Andy!

They had a great party! Lori is a splurge buddy and a lot of the splurge group and spouses were there. We had a great time! I had no idea Lori and Andy's family was so musical! There was a lot of singing, dancing and wild guitaring (with fabric guitars). Very funny!
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Where'd That Grey Poodle Go?

I sure won't miss it, that's for sure. Of course, next time I wash this we'll have a brown poodle. I DO NOT trust myself with a curling iron at the best of times let alone when my hair is only a couple of inches long.

Van worked his magic. He coloured it with a gentle semi-permanent colour and then, with his magic wand, got rid of the "poodle look". It looks so much better.

I FEEL so much better. About my hair anyway.

The rest of me is doing okay but I had a nasty night. Three of my usual sleeping hours were spent having cramps and with trips to the washroom at 5 to 15 minute intervals. Not fun. I'm not entirely sure if this is caused by the drug I started taking on Tuesday (and have been feeling off ever since) or whether I have a completely unrelated gastro-intestinal "thing" happening. Just in case ... and because I DID NOT want to miss this much anticipated hair appointment, I didn't take my Diclofonec this morning. I'll take it tonight when I'm just hanging at home for the evening. So far I don't feel any improvement in my limbs.

Have a great weekend everyone!
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