Friday, May 27, 2022

...and God laughs.

Well.  Appointment turned into appointments (plural).  One was early in the day (surgeon's consultation), and the other was mid-afternoon.  

We didn't know about the second one until Mom was in her PET scan, on Wednesday.  

The surgeon sent his nurse practitioner into the room to deliver the news that Mom is not a candidate for surgery at this time.  Between Mom's own stubbornness and the covidiocy, it had been left go too long, and the tumor was too big.  It's loose, which means it hasn't invaded muscle, but they're not confident they can get it all until it's shrunk some.  

The hospital has a service--a really cool one, actually.  There's an individual that works with breast cancer patients, helping them navigate through treatments, treatment options, financial help applications, and finding other services.  We talked to her for an hour or so.   

Back to my guts were too tight to be able to eat, so I basically bullied Mom into eating (she was getting weak and shaky), then we worked through the application paperwork.  It took almost all of the time we had before Mom's second appointment...

...which took the rest of the day.  Got to the oncologist's office at 2:15 or so, Mom's appointment was at 2:30 (to run some labs), and we talked to the doctor starting at 3:30 or so...and we barely caught the phlebotomist before she'd left, after the doc had called for some more blood work (and I got Mom's next appointments set for her).  It was ten after five when we got shook all the way loose.  

The next appointment is a bone density scan.  On Thursday of next week, just before my doctor's appointment. 

Then, she's got a follow-up with the oncologist three weeks later.  

I'm still trying to talk her into chemo.  She's opted for nothing more than a hormone blocker, at present...which may be all that's necessary, but won't work fast, and won't permit for surgery any time soon.   

In any case, I have Mom's appointments going, and, I need to set up a screening appointment for myself.  

I'll call about that next week.  Because apparently, my risk is a lot higher than I had thought. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

[Wo]Man plans...

Ugh.  So.  I've felt like utter hammered dog shit for the past two weeks.  I'm starting to surface from that (probable CFS attack).  Finally.  Just in time.

Last week, my mom had an appointment with one of the specialist testing centers in town.  Biopsy.  Ten years after she noticed the onset, but still.  And they made an appointment for her for this week--Thursday, at 8:30 a.m.  My mom's about forty minutes from me, and I'm about twenty from the office she needs to go to.   So, I made plans to help: I offered to go up and visit, and pick Mom up on Wednesday and have her spend the night here, then I'd take her to her appointment.  The pixie offered--demanded that we use--her room for Grandma to sleep.  Mom has accepted, and I got busy. 

With my eleven year old daughter's help, I got the house mostly clean over the past two days.  (Yes, my son helped, too, but not nearly as much, and had his own chores to deal with outside.)   All that hasn't been cleaned is the master bedroom and bathroom.  Oh, and the imp's room, but that door shuts.  And will be shut, and will not be opened.  

Then, this morning, I got a phone call: the office had set Mom up with a PET scan.  At 8:00 a.m.  Tomorrow.  Mom got them to reset it later (10:00 a.m.).  My aunt will be bringing my mom here after her scan, and she'll stay overnight, and then I'll take her to her Thursday appointment.  Then, I'll take her home.  

This is something that is...really, really overdue.  Mom said she'd found the lump right around the time the pixie was born, and just...didn't do anything about it.  Didn't mention it until it...well, surfaced.  Just before one of her sisters was diagnosed, and had hers dealt with.  

"Oh, I'm a Medicare patient...they don't care.  They won't do anything about it."  Or "Oh, I'm fat.  They won't care.  They won't do anything about it."  Always something.  

Always a victim.  

My mother has never believed in being proactive.  In pushing for proper treatment.  Mom's always been passive.  I've never understood that.  Never had much tolerance for it, either.  Not for the past thirty years. 

I think I may finally understand where the disconnect between her approach and mine lays, after more than two decades of trying to figure it out. 

I grew up immersed in theology formed by reading nothing but the Bible and the Book of Mormon (yes, I grew up RLDS).  I've read both books for myself, more than once.  It's formed a lot of how I think--well, that, and a few key pieces of fiction.  

I took a lot of things to heart that most of the rest of my family either disregards, misunderstands, or simply missed.  My philosophy roots in the parable of the talents: God gave me a mind, and expects me to use it.  He gave me abilities.  I have no right to not use them.  Refusing to do what I am capable of makes me a lazy servant.  

I'm pretty sure Mom's philosophy roots in the parable of the lilies of the field: they toil not, nor do they spin.  She sits and waits...for what, I don't know, considering I've seen a lot of different signals that she's flat ignored over the past two decades.  But she sits and waits, passively, for blessings.  

She's waiting on praise for having been clever enough to hide her talent from thieves by burying it instead of putting it to work.  

I've got helping Mom to worry about this week. Yes, there are other things I need to be doing, but not the mental or physical energy to focus on more than one thing in front of me at a time.  Right now, it's doing this.  Other than doing this one, small thing (taking her to her appointment), there is not a damn thing I can do, but I will do this, and will find out after her appointment if there's something else I can do to help. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Idiot cord cat toys

 I've been knitting for...really, a long time.  Thirty years.  

I don't use a lot of patterns, really, and I knit in the round.  A lot.  Mostly because I detest sewing by hand.  

What I don't do is post patterns.  Mostly because I don't use them--I just...sort of fly by the seat of my pants, use basic math, and...make what I want.  

I make a lot of sweaters...a lot of ear-warmer headbands (since I absolutely despise hats)...and a lot of tiny projects--coasters and cat toys, mostly.  

Cat toys, in particular, are a spectacular use of tag-ends of yarn from projects: any time you've got a few yards left, but not enough for anything useful, you can always use it to make a cat string.  

No, don't give the cats the plain yarn--the fuzzy idiots will eat it, gag, choke, actually manage to ingest it, but not digest it, and have long strands hanging out and freaking them out, triggering a thunder-run from the litterbox, with yarn-connected turds still hanging from their butts...connected by yarn...which you'll have to corner and flatten the fuzzys and pull out.  

Seriously, it's funny long after the fact, but not funny in the moment to either you or the cat.  

No, a good cat string is either a long chain stitch crochet (which they don't eat as readily)...or a knitted idiot cord.  

I've done both, but I prefer the look of the finished knitted cord.  The cats prefer the knitted cord, too, but I think it's more because of the way it feels.  

How do you make an idiot cord?  You need: 

A tag end of a skein of yarn...

a set of double-pointed needles

What you do is simple: you cast on three or four stitches.  Then you slide your four stitches to the other end of your needle (the dangly next to the slip knot closest to the point), then join the round.  And knit across.  Then slide the four stitches to the other end of the needle, transfer the needle to your off hand, and...knit across again.  You're never flipping the cord--it's just three or four stitches, knit in the round, over and over.  

When you get to the last three or for inches of yarn, bind it off.  If your cat-string is less than about three feet long, tie it in a knot.  And tie it again.  Keep tying it.  Turn it into a round-ish ball of knotted string.  

You have a knot-mouse.  My cats love theirs.  Frequently lose them, too.  Then, as soon as they get fished out of whatever piece of furniture the cats have lost them under, the cats lose them again.  

Mind you, my cats are ten years old.  They're not kittens anymore...but they certainly act like kittens when they find one of their knot mice.  

If it's between three and five feet, and you have a spare gun-cleaning rod, you can thread one of the tail-ends of yarn through the loop, and knot it a couple of times.  Kitty string on a stick!  Fun for them, fun for you!  

If it's longer than five feet, tie a knot-mouse in one end, then...drag it around.  It gets funny, while they're chasing you through your house, pouncing at the knot (and most often missing) and gets you some exercise.  

Catnip spray just makes it more fun for all...if your cat likes that stuff, that is.  Mine do.  

And you don't have to try to chase down fuzzy idiots trailing indigestible yarn from their butts, embedded in turds they're running from.  

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Baby care

I know there's a lot of parents worried about the current formula shortage--they've got infants, and either can't or have chosen not to breastfeed.  

I am not going to speculate about why there's a shortage.*  All I'm doing is sharing a temporary work-around: emergency baby milk replacement.  I read about it a long time ago, and I went hunting for a recipe I'm pretty sure most moms can manage.  

It starts with evaporated whole milk, and adds Karo syrup...and that's it.  Ingredients that you can keep on hand (just rotate as needed), for emergency situations.  And if this doesn't count as an emergency...well.  I wouldn't want to think of what does.  

No, it doesn't have the same nutritional profile as formula--it's lacking some key vitamins that babies need.  However, there are liquid vitamins out there for babies.  There's nothing preventing the vitamins from being dropped into the homemade emergency formula.  They're easily available on Amazon, and may be available in local pharmacies (I wouldn't know, as I've never looked).  

No, this is not something affecting either my immediate family or me: my youngest is eleven years old, and neither of my kids used formula.**  I breastfed both, partially because it was better for them (and for me***), but also because it was simpler, and much cheaper.  Much.  I fed my oldest for eighteen months before he self-weaned when I fell pregnant with my youngest--and she nursed for thirty months (or two and a half years).  I enjoyed cuddling them while feeding them, partially because it was the only time my oldest would cuddle, and I never begrudged the time or effort at all.  

Hell of a lot less effort than preparing and then cleaning and sanitizing bottles...

I'd be willing to bet there's a lot of moms out there right now that chose to use formula who wish they'd chosen to breastfeed instead, right now...and a lot of moms who can't getting really frantic.  And all of them are likely getting pissed about news that truck-loads of formula have been shipped to feed infants of illegal aliens down on the border...whose mothers almost without exception breastfeed.  

*I have my opinions, but I'm not going to start conspiracy theories.  Nope.  Not at all. 

**The hospital added powdered formula to the breast milk they were feeding my imp--it triggered the onset of a nasty case of acid reflux, and exacerbated his symptoms something fierce.  That was the only experience either of my kids had with formula.  

***Breastfeeding is very good for moms: each six months spent breastfeeding reduces chances of breast cancer.  It helps shrink the uterus following delivery, reducing the risk of later complications; helps moms burn more calories and drop back to pre-baby weight (mostly) faster;  and also reduces the risk and severity of baby blues, by triggering the brain chemistry to boost mood-boosting hormones. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Busy week done

Less busy (but still busy) week coming up.  

On the one hand, I seem to be through the chronic fatigue attack: I am no longer feeling like utter death warmed over.  On the other, I seem to need double the recommended maximum of sodium as my daily minimum for proper function,* and the PVC palpitations are not going away.**

I have an appointment with a new primary care doc on Tuesday morning.  Tuesday night is my imp's spring band concert, with a newly-repaired (and very much improved) trumpet.    

As it turns out, his trumpet was in dire need of care when we got it: the person who owned it before him drank soda between measures he/she was playing, and gummed up the internals something fierce.  Now that it's basically been rebuilt, it sounds a lot better...the imp says it plays easier, and he sounds a lot better than he did.  His teacher's not unhappy with him.  (The saxes and clarinets, on the other hand...)

Other than that, there's not a lot going on this week, and only one appointment Monday morning of next week, to finish up the recommended maintenance on the Subaru.  

Oh, funny story from last week: Friday morning, the imp told me he'd used up his color pencils on maps in History, and assignments in Spanish, and needed a new package.  If he'd told me Thursday night, I could have added that to the Friday morning pickup...but no.  

So I had to run in Friday morning, and get colored pencils.  While I was there, I decided to see about foam pillow forms to make a set of dining chair pads (we REALLY need some), impulse bought a dress for my pixie, and...found jeans that fit me.  In the junior's section (not the kids--the teens).  I got one pair to test fit and comfort and quality.  And wound up going back later and getting three more.  Yeah, they're skinny-fit (not my preference), but they're not more holes than cloth, not tissue-paper thin, and they fit both my figure and my height (they're supposed to be capris, but still).  

Incidentally, Walmart finally got the planners (and had some of my preferred brand that has fountain pen-friendly paper) in stock for next school year in, which is a life saver: my current planner ends in June, and the kids have their well-child visit in July.  

And since (between ME/CFS brain fog, hypothyroid brain fog, and a suspected case of ADHD) I suffer from CRS,*** I definitely need that calendar/planner.   Because I can't keep track of the damn appointment cards. 

*I have been using an electrolyte replacement water enhancer for the past week and a half, and am losing water weight and feeling better.  With every 30 oz mug of water (and I drink 3-5 of those daily), I'm having 220 mg of sodium plus what's in what I eat. That's...a lot of sodium consumed every day.  

**PVC palpitations are harmless, according to my research, but truly annoying.  I'm not sure if they're triggered by GERD, stress, perimenopause, or something else entirely, but they hit worst in the couple hours after I've eaten.  And they hit with a feeling like you've just started down on an express elevator. 

***Can't Remember Shit