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I am low-energy, distractable, lazy, diffident, tentative, and easily discouraged to begin with. I began 2016 thinking I would ride the energy and optimism from my lovely new knees to Get Things Done, Get In Shape, and Get A Job.

I was doing pretty good until February, when I got the cancer diagnosis.

seriously this is just a long organ recital and for my own records, so don't read it )
So anyway, 2016 was for me like many others mostly a loss. I haven't mentioned much about the big world because others have more, and more eloquent, things to say about tt. I'm still alive, of course, and I still have a house. Also I have a pile of writing I'm sort of working on for several days at a time before I collapse in on myself for a few days again.
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I am writing this month, but I can't do Nanowrimo for reasons. One: I don't seem able to focus on very large projects at this time. I'm just grateful I can write at all! Anything longer than a short tends to get lost in the underbrush of a no-longer-chemo-brain. So I'm writing shorts, cleaning up old stuff, submitting a bit. I decided that since it's really unlikely for me to make enough money to be thrown off of Medi-Cal in the near future, it's dumb not to submit. Actually--did I explain this?--being thrown off Medi-Cal is not the thing I fear. What I'm afraid of is getting put into the grey category where they don't throw you off Medi-Cal but they require you to pay several hundred dollars (for some people, thousands!) before they will pay for anything. It would be better to get thrown all the way off and pay the (newly) normal subsidized premiums and copays, but that doesn't happen immediately. Worse, I have no idea what would trigger which alternative. So, just as in the case of facing up to cancer, etc., I just have to live my life.

I already submitted two things--one at the end of last month, but I'm counting it in this month. That was a near-future sort-of fantasy about a woman who is being moved out of her inundated neighborhood to find that her new neighborhood is pretty watery itself. And also pretty strange. The other is "John Brown's Body," which is ten years old and looks it, but it's going to a reprint market and its datedness might be interesting in the light of how things are working out, politically, these days. I mean it's sort of the opposite to everything!

I wrote a flash piece but my first reader (you know who you are) said what I was feeling--that the story felt like the unshot gun on the mantle. So now it's turning into a novella. I think it's kind of a time paradox story, but maybe not: some mysteries are not to be understood by the author. An old lady returns to the mysterious coastal village she spent a summer in during her childhood, and finds things to be somewhat different from how she remembered them, but some things are entirely too similar. The best part is the setting, of course. I think, despite what I said about my brain not being able to handle longer projects, that this is not too much for me to handle. Again, there are parts of the story that can't decide whether they are near-future sf or fantasy.

During the summer I was working on two short novels, but due to chemotherapy I could only move them forward a bit. One was about girls who save the world by means of their special relationship with crows and pigeons respectively. Honestly, the hardest part of that one is working out a believable mechanism for them to save even a shred of the world. And yet, parts of the world do get saved on a regular basis.

The other is low-fantasy in that it is set in the same fantasy world--but a different corner of it--and it is unlikely that much of the fantasy elements will come to bear on the story. It's an enemies-to-lovers story happening in the interstices of a larger drama of bandit freedom fighters and also referencing the earliest days of the motion picture industry as experienced by eager innovators in other corners of the world. But not our world. Informed by the last years of the Ottoman empire but in no way an analog for it.

On other fronts: I am a third of the way through radiation therapy. The only bothersome effect is my own body's ridiculous response to any postural demand, which is to spasm painfully somewhere. I have to lie in a comfortable position on a well-constructed individualized support for less than half an hour a day, and my body's response to this is to develop stiff painful areas in my neck, back, and arm. Not the side being radiated. The other side. My radiated breast is a little red, and maybe a bit sensitive, but not so as I'd care, especially with this other crap going on.

Continuing with the health care theme, I've restarted physical therapy. I'd gotten de-conditioned and I'd gained weight during chemo, because I spent a lot of the day sleeping or lying in bed reading. Now my energy level is back to its normal (kind of low) levels, and I'm getting more exercise, but there's some damage to undo. Also, I've been using the BiPAP machine for two months and it is not creating as dramatic a difference as one might expect. However, the doctor has some suspicions about my oxygen uptake which we're going to measure next week & discuss next month.

AND last but not least in this theme, today I got cortisone shots in both thumbs to fight severe trigger finger. It's the second round. The first wore off two months ago but the PA's not willing to give me shots more often than every six months. So if this happens again we're looking at surgery. I'm not afraid of surgery. I'm afraid of being the little old lady who collects all the surgeries, and also the fact that I've been enjoying my surgical experiences feels a little perverse to me, so I drag my feet for that reason too.

It's time to go to radiation or I'd expound about Zluta and the state of my house, but that will have to wait for another day, because after radiation Zluta and I will take a walk and after that I will want to clean house a bit before time for dancing.
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Two weeks ago was my last chemotherapy infusion. I went one more than I thought I might because the week before was tolerable. But the next week was all "WARNING WARNING you're walking wobbly! your neuropathy is creeping up your legs! your hands and feet feel weird ALL THE TIME!" So we agreed it was time to stop. Supposedly I'm starting radiation real soon now.

So--neuropathy has subsided a little but if I walk for half an hour it gets worse in my feet and legs, so exercise takes some determination. I learned yesterday how to sidestep the need for determination. This is what you do:

1. Go to a network of trails that all loop back to the same place so you can't get truly lost.
2. Conveniently forget the "STEEP HILL" designation on the map posted at the other trailhead (it helps to choose the trailhead without the sign).
3. Blithely decide to walk a loop instead of going out a ways and turning back.
4. Blithely forget/downplay the length of the trail so you think you've gone more than halfway before you get to the "STEEP HILL." (which is actually in the moderately steep category, not the needs-walking-stick category) So when you get to the "STEEP HILL" there's no point in turning back.
5. Now you are stuck walking the rest of the trail, no matter how much you'd like to quit.

Actually this was the Red Trail behind Chaminade, which is only a mile and a quarter long, but it took forever (that means a bit over an hour, honestly) to walk it because Zluta had to sniff everything and hello, apparently I have breathing issues again after years without (damnit), so I had to take the upward part a little slower. It wasn't bad but it was dumb. I guess I should get an inhaler again, though I didn't need it yesterday, I just wasn't at peak performance. The good news! is that my knees continue to be excellent and I only even thought about them later and it was "huh, downhill, no problem!"

It was lovely though. Saw a huge cottontail and several brilliant scrub jays, and heard a woodpecker and some other bird which I guess I should call familiar-unknown, in that I've heard that bird a lot around here but I don't know which one it is. The trail goes through a pine flat, a meadow, and a redwood ravine, so most of it was shady. That's why we went there. It was only ten but it was already hot and I had enough self-preservation to avoid sunny exercise.

I already know I don't feel the heat reliably, so I have to hydrate & protect myself based on other information.

Other post-chemotherapy observations:

At some point where I didn't notice it, the rest of my eyelashes and most of the rest of my eyebrows fell out. This is still due to the adriamycin/cytoxan treatments which ended about three months ago, the taxol doesn't do that. Also my nails are still playing out their destiny. My thumbnails are loosening from the top down so they have these giant unreachable pockets that fill up with debris and I can only get them partly clean which is sufficiently gross. I keep experimenting with new methods, but they continue to look like they are bruised (honestly I did think it was bruising at first so my intense efforts to clean them started late). My toenails are working their way off altogether, but it's really slow and the new toenails are already completely formed before the old ones fall off. I've lost three so far, and there's another four or five looking like they'll come off in the foreseeable future, and a couple that look like maybe they'll just be weird forever.

My tastebuds are returning to normal but not as fast as my taste. That is, I want to eat some things that don't yet taste good, so I have some disappointments. My perception of salt which some people already thought was pretty odd is utterly hopeless now. I mean, most things taste to me like the salt got up and walked off the job in protest, but if there's enough salt for me to notice it's there it tastes poisonously oversalted. Normally I mostly don't salt food but enjoy the occasional pickle or pretzel. Now I want to eat some salty food but I'm disappointed every time. Otherwise, most food just tastes a little bland now, and the pervasive plastic taste that ruined everything is mostly gone. For a while water tasted really foul because of it, and I had to force it down to keep from being dehydrated.

You know how there's been a backlash against the hydration obsession fad? Articles everywhere telling you that you don't need eight glasses of water a day? Now I get people trying to tell me I in particular don't need to drink as much as I do (I drink between two and three liters, usually two and a half). They are wrong when they speak of me in particular, though. I know from years of natural experimentation (that is, days of not being able to drink as much as I need), that if I drop much below that level, especially if I do it more than one or two days, I will be terribly thirsty, get headaches, muscle cramps, and cognitive impairment. By the last I mean: if I haven't had enough water to drink, don't let me drive.

I had a kind of depressive episode the first week or so off chemotherapy. For months the infusion center has been the center of my life. Three times every two weeks, and then twice a week, I went there and chatted with the staff, got myself monitored, got myself cared for. I had no idea how attached I was until it ended. I'll be going back there from time to time for monitoring, but it's still an abrupt change. It got better as soon as I realized why I was wanting to sleep all day.

The other medical thing I'm doing is getting used to the BiPAP machine. I love the delicious air coming through the mask but I'm having trouble adjusting in some other ways. I have two masks. I thought I wanted the nose pillow because it was more comfortable than the nose mask the sleep tech offered me at the time of the study (at which it was revealed I was having 90 events an hour and desaturating to 83%). But my nose is a bit stuffy currently and so it is hard to breathe with my mouth closed, which with the nose pillow mask leads to a drowning sensation as the air goes the wrong way. And also the nose pillows kind of hurt my nose. I suspect the pressure on the machine is set too high too. When I use the full face mask the incoming air forces my lips open even if I'm trying quite hard to keep them closed. Even with the attached humidifier going I get pretty dried out too. And I'm having trouble with leaks. All of this will get worked out in time, but it's a lot of adjustment. Currently the longest I've kept the mask on is five hours, but I've also only had it for four days.

Of course I found an apnea forum. There's some true-believerism going on there, but the best thing is that somebody there wrote a nice piece of software to read the SD card from the machine so I can see the full record. Right now I'm finding that endlessly fascinating. I've learned that I do in fact have some possible central apnea going on as well as the obstructive kind, which was my belief from the beginning. It makes little difference in treatment, and the difference is already what the doctor prescribed. That is, he put me on the automatic bi-level machine, which adjusts the pressure so that the body is stimulated to exhale better. There are shenanigans to be done with carbon dioxide, but those aren't warranted unless the BiPAP machine doesn't work well enough. It looks like it will. But I think it will be a while before I am better rested and make more sense.
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I think I better start this by saying no, there's no reason to think the cancer treatment isn't doing its job. This is all about side effects and strategies.

I didn't start out thinking "I want to be the perfect cancer patient"--I didn't think much at all about it, just put one foot before the other. Then it was going so well--my side effects were minimal, and the kind of thing I could tolerate well. Surgery went swimmingly. I got through the usually more-toxic Adriamycin/Cytoxan cocktail with a wee bit of nausea and minimal anemia, with a slow-motion painless sloughing of the skin on the bottom of my feet (& now I'm shedding my toenails, two and three months later, but the new toenails are in before the old ones fall off, so it's not a problem).

The taxol infusions were presented to me as less toxic to the body than the Adriamycin/Cytoxan. Neuropathy was a potential issue, I was told, and therefore I made the choice to take the "less dense" route--more infusions with less drug in each--because after going through several surgeries and years of physical therapy to have normal function in my hands and legs I didn't want to sacrifice it easily. Once we were about to start taxol, my doctor explained that most of her patients made it to nine or ten of the twelve treatments before stopping due to neuropathy.

This is when I started feeling like I wanted to be the perfect cancer patient--not something I wanted to think, just something that happened. Anyway, you can guess how that's working out.

I just had my seventh treatment this week, after skipping a week to see if the mild neuropathy I've been having would recede. It did recede on the skipped week. But it's spreading. It's still very mild, and only sensation--no function is disturbed at this point--but there's more of it. We dropped the dose twice, so it can't be dropped again. Dr. Wang will probably feel that I've had enough taxol, and at this point I do too, but I'm disappointed not to go farther.

Apparently the taxol is almost extra anyway: it enhances the survival rate but it's not a bright line. But still.

Today's the check-in day. The next thing is probably a break of a couple of weeks, and then I start daily radiation for seven and a half weeks.


And this has pushed the other medical thing out of the headlines: I'm joining the hordes of CPAP users in a week or so.
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Reading The Global Pigeon by Colin Jerolmack. It's research for the girls who save the world from fascism through their magical connection to urban birds book. It was recommended to me by none other than Donna Haraway who I met through Katie King at FOGCon. It does not have in it what I intended to be looking for but it has all sorts of other things that I didn't know I needed. That last category is a mark of a felicitous reading choice, I think.


Other than that, I'm trucking along. I find it is better for me to work on a bit of this and that right now because I can't concentrate very well what with the sleep deprivation and the chronic intestinal issues. Oh yes and now I have a very mild neuropathy too, so that takes some of my focus away as I obsess over its progress--if it gets to a certain level we have to stop chemo to prevent its becoming permanent. As it is, my dose has been dropped. This phase of chemo is just to be sure anyways: there's reason to think that in many cases the first round withn the adriamycin/cytoxan is all a person needs. But survival rate is higher and recurrence is lower for people who've had both, so that's where we're going. But yesterday was 6 of 12 doses, so the light is at the end of the tunnel either way. The oncologist says most of her patients make it to dose 9 or 10, but some make it all the way to 12. I would like to get to 12 just to be sure (and also quite honestly so I can feel so very tough, but I don't admit to that often), but I'm fine with following her advice.

We've been repairing the outside of the house and clearing foliage because the painters are coming on Saturday. I probably shouldn't own a house because I'm not houseproud enough to do what needs to be done. Honestly when stuff gets broken or dirty I don't care enough at all. It's weird because I used to take pride in just doing what needs to be done and in mechanical competence. But I'm kind of broken a bit myself, I guess.

While at the library I also picked up a Tobias Buckell book because I keep bouncing off his writing and I want to like his work. And another book called Watermind by M.M. Buckner that was near it on the shelves because it looked interesgting and I've never heard of it or the author. I want to read more genre stuff that's more recent but it's hard at the library because most of the requests for material seem to be coming from the grognards.

Emma told me there's a magnificent petrified forest in Chemnitz and now I want to go there more than ever. My dream itinerary for next spring is: Eastercon, a couple weeks with Frank and Hana in Loughborough, some days in Paris with Andrea, and then on to Chemnitz, Prague, and maybe a bus tour of Poland and if my bro-and-sis-in-law are in Langaland, a few days in Denmark. I imagine it would be summer before I got back home.

I would also like to travel in the States some: to Portland to see my aunt and a friend or two, and maybe the Woodstock Memory Hole if anything is going on there right now: to LA to see my other aunt: to Houston to visit Nancy Zeitler, a friend who's been living there for years & I've never visited her there: to Silver Spring Maryland to visit Katie King, who I visited over a dozen years ago: to Chattanooga to visit Sharon Farber, who I visited 29 years ago: to Philadelphia, just to see it again after 50 years gone from it: to New York, to visit Phil Josselyn, who I've never visited & when he visits me I realize how much I miss him: and to Boston, to visit Mary Porter, who I visited 26 years ago but never in the house she lives in now.

That's a lot.
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If I was a fanfiction writer there is a thing I would do.

Last night I was high as a kite on dexamethasone (a steroid I take prior to taxol infusions so as to ward off the possibility of neuropathy) and I couldn't sleep at all. So having run in to the radio play of "Jacobowski and the Colonel," I listened to that. Being shorter than the Danny Kaye movie I imprinted on as a child, it didn't have all the bits, but it was good.

Today I'm thinking that if I were the fanfiction type, what I'd want to do would be an AU retelling in a science fiction landscape (because that's where I feel most comfy, no other reason), in which Jacobowski and the Colonel end up paired overtly, Marianne throws them both over for being two complicated to deal with and picks up with Szabuniewizc--this is almost canon, as the former two do leave together on the ship to London and Marianne and Szabuniewizc stay behind to wait for them in France--but also, along the way they lose the ridiculous macguffin of the idiot-ass plans and spend the plot development time breaking partisans and refugees out of capture and leading them to the Pyrenees-equivalents (as Jan Yoors was doing with the Roma family he adopted himself into)into the Spain-equivalent, so that the Colonel's bravery and ridiculous honor mentality and fatalism and Jacobowski's resourcefulness and flexibility and stoicism continually come into play in high-stakes action leading inevitably to an entirely different scene at the docks where it makes more sense for Jacobowski to be grandstanding with cyanide pills (which do not feature in the radio play unless I dozed off a bit there at the end).

Actually the thing to do would be to file the serial numbers off completely since the structure of the plot has now changed a lot in which case everybody can go back to having non-romantic relationships with a dollop of tenderness in there with the conflict. Also, Szabuniewizc gets to be much much more of a person! And maybe a woman.

On another front, my left hand feels funny right in the skin layer. I am noting this because I am watching for neuropathy because it terrifies me. I am thinking it is the amazingly dry skin I have there because of the taxol, and I am moisturizing a million times a day. But watching. And I told the nurse about it, though I said I didn't think it was neuropathy because of the area that feels funny, and because there is no numbness or clumsiness. I forgot to mention my wobbly legs after sitting too long on the toilet because I got lost in a phone game (Jewels Star Mineral, the only jewels game worth playing), but I don't think that's neuropathy either, I think it's pinching the sciatic nerve sitting like that in such a doofus fashion for so long. Recording it here so when I think about it again in the future I can find this date.

The hand-foot syndrome I previously recorded as being so very very mild has developed in a doofus way also. All the pain and disinclination to move went away pretty quick and then I thought I was getting away with nothing at all because the peeling took a long time to start. Now more than a month after the last adriamycin infusion the bottoms of my feet are quietly and painlessly--but grotesquely--peeling right off in great flapping sheets of parchment. I'm tearing off the easy bits so they can go into the garbage without getting all over the floor and into Zluta's greedy little mouth (yes, dogs are gross, so what else is new), and scrubbing with the brush after showers and sponge baths, slathering thick layers of cocoa butter on to them, and wearing socks all the time if I can bear it (sometimes it is too hot). My hands have a suede-like texture because the calluses are not so thick there and the peeling is very fine-grade, but as I said, I think it's making them feel odd. Not painful, not numb, not tingly per se, just kind of dry and prickly.

Other than a lot of missed sleep and incoveniently-placed make-up sleep and about two and a half days of delayed-onset excruciating abdominal pain last week my first taxol went uneventfully, and this week looks to be the same, though I hope for less pain since I did discover that tramadol helped a lot last time. I don't think of pain medication for sometimes quite a lot time, usually just planning to ride it out unless there are exercises for it. This is not always wise. If I had taken tramadol earlier last week I might not have needed to miss folk dancing again.

I just read that paragraph and it's not clear why I think last week was uneventful, especially noting that I didn't list the digestive upset. Maybe because the sleep disturbance and digestive upset are par for the course if you're injecting systemic poison into your carotid artery for a couple hours a week? And because it was clear they were self-limiting? And not really huge in the scale of things I'm concerned with at the moment?

Anyway, I'm not writing the Jacobowski and the Colonel rewrite fic, at least not now, but I'm pleased I can think of it.
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Today's blood test results came shockingly fast. My blood counts have been only just barely out of the normal range, and today they are almost all just a wee bit closer to normal.My last dose of adriamycin/cytoxin was a little less than the doses before, because of my hands and feet bothering me, so maybe that's why I've started recovering already (it hasn't been very long).  Which doesn't explain why I'm so tired and have so little stamina. I'm starting to think that's in my head and maybe I should ignore it.Even the shortness of breath when I climb stairs. Maybe that's from indulging the tiredness. So maybe I should push myself more. I've already started making myself go for more walks instead of just taking Zluta to the dog park every time and sitting on the bench while she runs around.  But the walks have been shorter. And I missed a couple weeks of dancing and then  only danced a couple-few times because I felt like I'd run upstairs after each dance.

So maybe this is a self-created problem and I should power through it  I'll play around with it and see how I feel.

On Wednesday (five days from now) I start Round Two of chemotherapy--taxol. I'm taking it at the "less dense" option because the side efffect I'm trying to avoid is neuropathy, which I am more bothered by than nausea. But the less dense option is a weekly dose for three months instead of a biweekly, stronger dose for two months. So we'll see how that goes.

While I'm complaining: my tastebids have not returned to normal. Currently green vegetables mostly taste bad except for broccoli, starchy food mostly tastes weird and half-tasteless, and sweet things have no taste except for a hint of bitter. I end up only wanting protein foods with a fair amount of fat in them. Well, and porridge, which has a comforting mouthfeel even though it doesn't taste like much of anything. I just don't bother to sweeten it any more. Shredded wheat is okay too.

It looks like I'm writing again, slowly  but surely, one good day a week and several less sterling ones with some wordage in them. Also still researching, because I don't know enough about crows and pigeons. Though I know a lot more now. Yesterday I fell down a sartorial rabbithole trying to determine what some comfortable working class teen boys would wear in almostlike the thirties in almost like Central Europe and even though Google failed me egregiously (somehow returning every decade but the thirties, and no, I didn't put a minus sign there), I did finally find a vintage photos site whose tagging system worked for once and finally saw enough children and teens to form an opinion. Plus fours were a thing, apparently, and therefore, I can use them to differentiate class identification. I don't have to research the Sokol this time because I fell down that rabbithole a few years ago doing military history in Czechoslovakia and I still have my notes.

It's maybe going to be a darker book than the previkous one, buit I have to remember that these girls are going to save the world. So that's all right, right?

On another front, as Zluta matures she has decided that it is positively her job to chastize abnormalities in the night. Unfortunately she believes that if she can hear it, it is abnormal. Fortunately she seems to think that her barking is only effective if she performs it downstairs, so barricading the stairway caused her to give up and go to sleep.  She's pretthy insistent about me getting up pretty regularly, which is what I got her for. But for some reason she's letting me lounge and write as the case may be this afternoon.
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Yesterday was a productive day. I did a lot of housework, mostly disinfecting things, and I rode my bike to the library and got a couple of (ultimnately somewhat disappointing) books about pigeons for the book I'm working on, and oh yes, I worked on the book--almost a thousand words, which is approaching normal! And I am beginning to have an understanding of the plot.

Yesterday started at 5 am. Today, 6, though I didn't write till 7.

My gosh, the crows are vocal this morning.

he point is, that when I look at the book, I don't see a white hole where my story brain should be. That was really disconcerting this last month or so. It was really rare that I could contemplate a story and see the warp and weft of it, or the lines of movement, or pull anything new out of it. It was like part of my brain was just missing. I suppose it was that "chemo-brain" phenomenon people talk about, but different. I haven't been more forgetful or vague about responsibilities--in fact I think I have been more responsible than normal--but this vital function of myu mind has been just absent. I was afraid it would not come back, and I'd have lost it all before I got it, again.
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There's a thing that can happen during cancer treatment, when you are getting doxyrubicin (adriamycin), or one of a number of other drugs. The hands and feet, specifically the palms, soles, and digits, can become painful and inflamed, and the skin especially under the callouses can blister and even fall off. Naturally, I got the mild one, with a bruised, burning feeling, but no damage to my callouses (I had a little blistering on my fingers where I was also damaging them with hand sewing before I got a thimble--I didn't used to need a thimble because I have such tough skin). Oh, right--remember how I was saying I needed bigger shoes even though the foot rule at the shoe store didn't show that my feet had actually grown in length? That was hand-foot syndrome.

The problem seems to be that the circulation of the hands and feet are affected by the chemical. The small vessels are damaged. I think? And there's too much blood pooling there. The treatment seems to be pretty simple though. My oncologist dropped the intensity of my last dose (which did not prevent me last week being kind of terrible, but it's over now so I can say I regret nothing). Also she suggested I keep my hands and feet well moisturized. So I did that.

Yesterday my fingers started being really painful, so I figured I had forgotten or missed something the doctor had told me, and I did a nice little searchj on hand-foot syndrome with adriamycin, and came up with more information. I had been doing some things wrong. It's important to avoid friction and heat when hand-foot syndrome is an issue, and I had been just doing whatever, and it had been a very hot couple of days. One of the whatever things I did just before my fingers started hurting a lot was dissolving laundry soap and powdered bleach in the hot water coming into the washing machine, as I was disinfecting my bedding. Our water's a bit hard and laundry chemicals often clump into rocks if you don't hold them under the stream of water to dissolve. But I didn't have to do it in my bare hands!

Icing or cooling the hands with water are recommended, but icing sounds very unpleasant to me at the momednt, so I've been putting cool water on my hands whenever I think of it since yesterday and I can say that they have not gotten worse and I think they have gotten a little better. Also, I have made sure to put something on my feet when I go out in the hot yard, and continuing to moisturize, though now I am taking care not to rub the stuff in  too vigorously, so as to avoid friction and heat.

So manyway, if you find yourself ever on adriamycin or other chemotherapy, take care of your hands and feet with moisturizers and cool water, you'll be more comfortable!
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I know I've been slagging on the people who want to sell me that we can "fight cancer with nutrition." Every word of that phrase sets my teeth on edge. I do believe in nutrition in a sort of general way, though I'm pretty well convinced that for everyday purposes most people's metabolisms are pretty flexible and if you're giving yourself a pretty good diet with enough of the basics, you'll do okay for a long time. When you have various physiological challenges including genetic dispositions and acquired deficiencies or metabolic disorders, you have to pay a little more attention, naturally. And then, on an entirely different hand, nutritional chemistry is fascinating, so I don't blame people who get wrapped up in it for reasons of enthusiasm.

But the nutritional cancer treatment people tend to push one of two overlapping agendas--one that boils down to variations of the regular "healthy diet" versions that are duking it out in the marketplace, or one of several crazy crank diets that eliminate whole categories of food or that ask you to ingest megadoses of micronutrients. As for the first: if a healthy diet worked against cancer, I wouldn't be here today. As for the second: just no.

I am, however, eating well. (woops, I scratched the back of my head and came away with another little clump of bristly grey hairs) I'm paying attention to protein and vitamin-rich vegetables, most of which are coming from the Grey Bears bag or my garden (or kitchen, as I have suddenly become entertained by sprouting peas and alfalfa, and I got a little mushroom kit for ducks). This is only a bit ramped up from my usual. I'm back to eating somewhat less starchy food, but that's because I was told that the cancer treatment could raise my blood sugars, and I don't want to cross over from pre-diabetes to diabetes if I can help it.  But I'm not up to doing a severe no-carbohydrate diet unless I have to.

So what am I eating? That's the fun part. Last week's Grey Bears bag had triple mushrooms because the driver doesn't eat them and neither does his wife, so I dried all the prettiest ones and made a big mushroom-green onion omelet out of what was left and I am still working my way through that for my breakfasts. I also got a two-pound bag of cauliflower florets, so I made cauliflower moussaka which I have been eating for lunch or dinner. My pea sprouts came due so I harvested them and ate half of them in chicken broth with sesame oil and tapatio salsa, with snow peas and kale flowers and green onions from the garden along with some turkey meatballs that fell apart. I'll eat the other half probably tomorrow, I don't know exactly how. I also had a pile of broccoli, which I finally cooked today and grated cheese for the traditional broccoli-and-cheese casserole I will make tomorrow. Today I made split pea soup with precut coleslaw from last week's Grey Bears bag and herbs from my garden and dried tomatoes I made last summer in it and alas dried onions because there were no more ready green onions in my yard and no fresh ones in the Grey Bears bag.

Every week for the last month or so I have also done a wee bit of baking. I still do this simultaneously with a casserole-or-something in the oven (one week it was a lamb pot roast) to conserve the use of gas and stack up the kitchen time. Anyway, what I make are lightly-sweetened cookies or bready cakes that fill the place of treats without overstimulating the sweet tooth or giving the body too much sugar at once. They are often peanut butter or oatmeal variation cookies with dried fruit or carrots or something in them. Those are easy to make, K and Zack like them, and so they are good for my purposes. Like I say, they don't make me want to clear out the whole lot in one sitting, though they do taste nice to me, and so I think they help me eat in a more balanced way,

When I want something like ice cream I have either yogurt or cottage cheese--whole milk in either case, which I'll explain in  moment--with fruit, or my homemade lower-sugar jam, or a bit of both. Or I might mix a spoonful of peanut butter and jam, or peanut butter, a bit of honey, and sunflower seeds. These things are not a lot less calorie-dense than ice cream, but they don't make me want moremoremore, and they please me very much, and they are pretty nutrient-dense.

There are a few reasons I use whole milk products. One: they make fat-soluble vitamins more available that are implicated in the absorption and use of the minerals that dairy products are good for. Two: they taste good. Three: they seem to me to be better emulsifiers. Four: they seem to satisfy my appetite more quickly in most cases, though there are times when I can eat nice crackers with butter or blue cheese on them much longer than it seems is reasonable. So when I am being sane I just don't start those things.

I was going to go on with a precis of the garden but this has gone on long enough, so that will have to wait for another time. I would like to say for the record that I moved the coral bells and a nice baby parsley plant today and finally got the basil, cardoons, and mignonette into the ground, leaving the purple clematis, the miscellaneous blue salvia shrub, the white passionfruit,and  the purple flowers from Ellie, still to be planted out or transplanted, as is appropriate for various reasons.  I spent nearly two hours in the yard and ended up a bit short of breath, which I think is because I'm anemic again but the oncology nurses do not think I am anemic enough to treat--but the labwork was just before the last infusion and the shortness of breath is after. In any case it's not severe enough I can't wait a few days.
ritaxis: (hat)
The oncologist said my hair "might fall out, maybe probably, but can't be predicted." The nurses said my hair would fall out and recommended getting it cut very short in advance of the time--which they predicted would be a couple of days to a week after the second infusion. Also, the printed materials suggested the same thing. And when I asked my friends and family, not if I should cut my hair short, but whether I ought to do it as soon as I could arrange it or closer to when I expected it to happen, the consensus was to do it earlier rather than later, and shorter rather than less short.

So that is what I did. My wonderful daughter Emma came over as soon as we could arrange it and buzzed my hair. With electric clippers! It was really amusing! She took before and after pictures of me and they are good ones. I looked pretty cute in them both! I think the short hair makes me look even more Jewish than ever. In my mind I think that is a neutral value. I mean, it's good enough to look Jewish, but it's also good enough to look like other things too. She also brought me some very nlce headscarves to borrow until my hair grows in again. So I have been practing with the headscarves now and then to get a feel for how I like them. Apparently simple heascarves are the best, for me. Just tied in the back, or the ends brought round, twisted & tied in front, or held on with a hair tie. They all work.

Since my hair was already thin on top ("female pattern baldness" but not as severe as that sounds) I started sunscreening my scalp when I remembered. I'm supposed to be more sensitive to sun rays now, so I have appropriated K's 30 spf sunscreen he used when he worked for the post office and doesn't use any more.

Anyway, this morning--two days after the second infusion--when I was rubbing on the sunscreen, my hands came away all fuzzy and my first thought was not how alarming it was but how cool it was. This is rather indicative of how things are going in general. I credit the extensive preparation that the cancer team has given me and also the word CURATIVE right on my papers and also the fact that my side effects have been so mild and manageable. It's turned the whole thing from a dark and frightening journey into an adventure, rife with inconvenience but also full of discovery and meeting new and interesting people. I think I'm a little disappointing to my friends and family who want to jump in and help me but the main thing I ever want from anybody is to go on a dogwalk with me. I mean, I think they feel in their heart of hearts I probably need more than this, but they're too polite to insist that I must be wrong about my self-assessment.

I got followed on twitter by a cancer quackery bot, so I blocked them and made a general tweet that I would do the same for any more quacks. Some actress showed up on NPR promoting her book about how she made her husband refuse "conventional" treatment for advanced bladder and prostate cancer and treated him herself with nutrion and stuff. I don't know how the thing came out because I was offended and I turned it off so I wouldn't be yelling at the radio.

Well, I was going to write a food post too, but now I have to pee and take a nap. Then I'm going to get the cardoons, the mignonette, the clematis, and the purple flower that Ellie gave me into the ground, or die trying. I've had them all too long.

Phenological observations: it is jam season now. I made strawberry jam from the giant berries that came in the grey bears bag last week. I prefer smaller strawberries with no white in the middle, but they are hard to come by these days because marketing decisions. My sister-in-law is making apricot jam this weekend because her tree recovered from the drought this year and produced a lot of fruit. The yellow plum tree around the corner has started dropping plums so as soon as I can get myself organized I'll make yellow plum jam. My coreopsis and love-in-a-mist and some other flowers I can't think of now are blooming freely. The sweet peas that were in too much sun are completely down, but Robin my co-mother-in-law brought me a bouquet of deep purple, very fragrantr sweet peas and orange Peruvian lilies, a very dramatic combination.

And now I have to go because I am totally falling asleep and in danger of pissing my pants.

One last thing: you needn't say "fuck cancer" on my behalf. It does nothing for me.
ritaxis: (hat)
I'm working on an extended metaphor for how I am experiencing cancer treatment. I do not feel like a warrior, not at all. I don't even feel like I'm fighting the cancer. If any fighting is going on, it's being done by the medical team. I'm doing something else.

It's not that I don't feel I'm contributing to the project at all. Although I should emphasize that my part in this collective effort is rather small. But there are so many people working on this, and so many jobs tro do, that I don't feel like there's something wrong with me having a small part to play. I do that part with all my best intentions and my best efforts, and I am grateful for all the other people who have all their jobs to do.

So the metaphor I'm working on is that it's like the stewardship of a nature reserve which is being threatened by an invasive species. I'm not in charge of the eradication efforts. That's the medical team's part. They've introduced chemical controls, but mainly they're trying to tweak the balance of the predators. They've brought in chemicals which are nearly as alive in my body as viruses or at least prions--please notice this is a metaphor and I don't believe the Adriamycin etc are organisms--but these are rather indiscriminate in their prey behavior and they go after the native species in my nature reserve as well as the invasive ones, and therefore the tweaking. They have a good idea nowadays of how these things affect the natural balance in my environment, so they have all these supportive measures to offer me, and here is where my part comes in.

I get to attempt to maintain the ecological equilibrium of this habitat. A big factor in how well this regine will work is in how well my body will tolerate it. So when my oncologist says "take this, this, and this for nausea, and this for analgesia," I do it. My usual response to discomfort is to attempt toughing it out first and then treating if necessary, but in this case, it's a more workmanlike response to jump in there and do the preventive measures and to treat small discomforts before they become big. Because small discomforts will get bigger as treatment progresses, so there's no point in waiting to see if it will be okay. Yes, I can live with low-level nausea, but if untreated low-level nausea can progress to the point where food and medicine won't stay in my body, then I'm treating the low-level stuff to prevent that (hopefully. It's also a known thing that some people's bodies don't tolerate the treatment no matter what the people do).

So, also, therefore, I attempt to have generally good nutrition, I get exercise, and I'm trying to sleep properly. Not because I am a Warrior who will Eat Myself Well, or Exercise Myself Well, or Sleep Myself Well. Because I understand that I can support the overall effort by taking good basic care of the habitat.  I'm working on having a good mood and all that not because I believe that's a magic bullet against cancer but because honestly what's the poiht in defending your life if you're not going to get something out of that life?

I have an impulse to be understanding of people who fall for quackery when they get cancer or some other life-threatening condition. How they want to believe that some fellow can give them apricot kernel extract and make it all go away. Or that if they boost their immune system with echinacea or turmeric, they will live. But I can't really see the moment when you decide "this person who has spent years studying the actual human body, specifically the behavior of real cancers in the actual human body: them and their whole team of researchers, practitioners, technicians, nurses, they can't possibly know as much about cancer as this fellow on the internet who read the Bible and a book about alchemical humors and set up shop with a pile of untested junk that's got no quality control either."

I kinow there's a certain contrarian set of mind where a person becomes sure that whatever is standard procedure must inherently be incorrect. I think part of the reasoning for that is that once in a while a scientific advance comes from someone questioning the underpinnings of former received wisdom. But when that is true, it's not true because someone gazed into their navel and decideed that everything was bunk. It's true when a person finds the right question to ask and asks it scientiifcally, carefully keeping records and actually being quite routine and boring.

I think also for some people they want to see their life in the hands of a superhero who can single-handedly dash the enemy to the ground and fly the patient to safety with the glorious cape fluttering around them. So they fall for charismatic quacks. Myself, I would rather be a routine patient in the hands of less colorful, competent people with flexible, multipathed protocols to hand and a variety of tools to fit different situations. I loved that my oncologist drew me a flow chart the first time I saw her. And I was entertained when she said "Now, I'm not so important in the process yet, but after the surgery, you'll be seeing more of me..." I liked the sense that there were plans in place already no matter what came up, and I also like the sense that my doctors and nurses were working as a team rather than grandstanding.

Anyway. That's me talking cancer philosophy. I'm not a Cancer Warrior Woman, I'm a Cancer Park Ranger--no, really, a Cancer Groundskeeper. I'm not fighting. I'm gardening.

And also

Apr. 15th, 2016 09:24 am
ritaxis: (hat)
My echocardiogram was entertaining and lovely (since I went to it fresh from the knowledge that I am NOT RIDDLED WITH CANCER and I can try for an actual CURE), and of course, as I knew, my heart is strong as an ox.

Yes, I knew it. But I also "knew" my biopsy was going to turn up scar tissue from the previous infections, so there you are.

Anyway, soonsoon I'll have lots to say that aren't "oops my health" or "at least my health isn't that bad."

Zluta continues to be a manic darling, and the garden is fantastic at the moment. I'm cooking up all the turnip greens over the next couple days because a friend of mine gave me a Black Krim plant so it's tomato planting time. I really want to find a couple Paul Robesons and maybe a Black fromTula. Detect the pattern? Black tomatoes from Russia do very well in my garden. And my old standbyes, the yellow plum and Roma, don't seem to do so well for me any more.

My kale from last year is starting to go flowers. I do have other batches of kale started so there will be little gap  between productive kale, which is important because both Zack and I depend on it. Right now I am eating the kale flowers, they are delicious, but eventually they'll come to the end and so it goes. My parsley is all bedraggled because most of it has decided to set seed also--also eating those bits to try to slow down the process, which worked for a while but a lot of the parsley is only putting out those weird "I'm going to seed now and you can't stop me" leaves-- there are two kinds, one is a tiny stunted version of the normal leaf and one is entirely different, with narrow leaflets in a fan shape. So I'm finding baby volunteer parsley and moving it to the parsley forest and I'm sowing seeds in the area too. I've been working on increasing the flower real estate in the yard, and that's finally paying off. And of course it's spring, so. I have yellow Louisiana iris and calla lilies for the dramatic, and volunteer(!) sweet peas, and coreopsis and freesias (not many) and roses and cuphea (sort of like fuschias, which are not flowering at the moment, oddly), and a couple kinds of salvias and a few quince blossoms and some pansies and cineraria and bleeding heart and of course the lemons are blooming and the apple tree just finished and the plums are the size of shooter marbles which is apparently my favorite size at which  to notice ripening things.

Manymany thanks to all the well-wishers and most especially to the horse people who answered my questions. Later I may ask you to read the thing over (it will be shortish, about 50K?) and see if I screwed it up. This is the story that gives me an excuse to listen to all the Southern European and Asia Minor music I want to all day long. Especially if the music is a bit ovfer 100 years old. Seriously, you can find that sometimes.

On a less brilliant note, "the computer" is still returning the false information that Blue Shield is my primary provider, so confusion still reigns. It means Central California Health Alliance denied coverage in the first round even though they have already told me on more than one occasion that they know they are my only provider. It will work out but why should everybody have to do everything over again so many times?

well, the 9:05 goose from the north has gone by, so back to work.
ritaxis: (hat)
The good news is it's stage 3 and I am totally eligible for aggressive chempotherapy.


Edit: it's NOT stage 3.

It's STAGE TWO!

It was a transmission error.

I'm going for a CURE!!!
ritaxis: (hat)
Pathology report came back with a 6 mm tumor in one of the lymph nodes. This puts me in a different world from where I was before.

I'm now in the world of chemotherapy. Next steps are a CT scan (tomorrow) to look for more tumors or seeds, and a cardio ultrasound to determine how much treatment I can take.

If I'm clear of other tumors or seeds, we'll move on to the more aggressive chemotherapy. If I'm not, there are apparently two possibilities: either there's a couple of operable tumors, or there's junk that can't be removed. If the former, more surgery, I think, followed by chemotherapy. If the latter, there's no point in aggressive therapy because it won't remove the cancer completely however aggressive it is. In that case, I get a more conservative chemotherapy focused on controlling the cancer instead. In that case, I will most certainly die of cancer, but it might be a longish time from now. In the former cases, I might die of cancer, but I might live long enough to die of something else first.

If you're having Jay Lake flashbacks, why yes, I am too. At least my kids are grown.

By the way, none of this is secret. If you run into someone who knows me, feel free to tell them. But don't feel obligated to either.
ritaxis: (hat)
Today or tomorrow, the surgeon said, we should get the pathology results from the surgery. I thought the oncologist said it would take longer than a week, but maybe she said it would take longer than a week to get started with the next phase of treatment.

Anyway. The way it goes is that there are two possibilities. Either the margins are good or they are not. If the margins are good, I don't need another surgery. If they are not, the surgeon needs to go in and take out more flesh. And beyond that there are two possibilities. Either the lymph nodes are free of cancer, or the lymph nodes have cancer in them. If the lymph nodes have cancer in them, I need chemotherapy before I have radiation. If the lymph nodes are free of cancer, there are two possibilities. Either the cancer cells from the breast have a high oncotype score, or they have a low oncotype score. If the oncotype score is high, I will have chemotherapy before I have radiation. If the lymph nodes are clear and the oncotype score is low, I will go directly to radiation and thence to taking hormone blockers for five to ten years depending on another string of possibilities.

The numbers are with me in each of these if/then situations--I mean, it's more likely than not that the margins are good, the lymph nodes are clear, the oncotype is good. If that is all the case, then I suppose I advance from "cancer patient" to "cancer survivor"--or do I do that at the end of radiation? I'm not sure. If any of those things are against me, I stay a "cancer patient" for that much longer.

I just want to open the box and see which I am, but it's not even 8:30 so I need to be patient.

Meanwhile, my brother-in-law is insisting on paying to paint my house  but the problem with that is that he's insisting on doing things his way, which means insulting the professionalism of the painters and insisting on breathing over their shoulders while they work. I almost fired him and started thinking about how to get the money for it myself, but then I used my cancer situation as a lever to get him to slow down instead. I'm going to use the time gained to figure out how to get him to trust the painters to do their job. He refused to consider Zack's painter, I believe because he doesn't trust Zack, and got three folks off of Yelp: the first two are kind of bros who started painting irregularly and independently but a long time ago so they're licensed and they have crews now. The third is a woman who got where she was by working for another painter for a long time and studying for various certifications before she took over the business.  Myself, I feel I have reason to trust any of the four of them (including Zack's painter), but if I'm choosing and I can't throw the business to Zack's guy, well, I think you can guess which one I want.

I have a bad head cold for the first time in years. I forgot how stupid and sleepy a cold can make me. I'm good for a few hours in the morning, when I do a bit of housework, take the dog out, and write a little. Then I doze and struggle to do anything at all for the rest of the day.

And now I am off to pick up my Grey Bears vegies and walk the dog and visit my friend Glen, which will take up the rest of the morning. I did poke a little at one of my projects this morning, but I am soooo slow and stupid that I made little progress. I did realize how little I know about horses (hence th previous post).
ritaxis: (hat)
Today I want to talk about multi-tier medical systems.

As of December 31, 2016, I was no longer eligible for Covered California commercial insurance subsidy. As of February 1, 2016 (note the gap, which was structurally my fault for believing the letters I got from Blue Shield and Covered California saying that if I did nothing during open enrollment season I would roll over into an identical plan to the one I was already in), I was enrolled in Medi-Cal (California's own [much better] version of Medicaid/Medicare). This should be wonderful: no fees, no copays, everything goes like clockwork. For me, anyway, because I have that rare situation--I already have a primary care doctor who accepts Medi-Cal (it pays less than commercial insurance so many doctors feel they must limit their Medi-Cal patients or not accept Medi-Cal at all. I am saying this neutrally because the payments are very low and it is very expensive to run a doctor's office on the one hand, but doctors expect a significant degree of wealth on the other).

There is, of course, a problem.

I don't remember whether I complained about this here, but last year Blue Shield spent the last five months denying everything--including things that had gotten pre-approval letters--saying I "wasn't covered," though my fees were promptly deducted from my checking account every month. Every time I called it turned out this was not true. The call center worker would say, first "Hmm, it looks like you're covered in one place and not covered in another place, but the one that says you're covered is the correct one. I'll fix it." The excuse that was given to me was that the Blue Shield computers and the Covered California computers were "out of synch" and the IT department was working on it--two years after the system was inaugurated. My own suspicion is that Blue Shield administration knows about this, understands the implications of it (that many baffled people will end up with effectively no coverage as they pay bills they do not owe), and has allocated their resources in such a way as to let it go on--deniably, of course.

So now that I'm not covered by Blue Shield, they seem remarkably un-eager to let me go. Or Medi-Cal seems remarkably un-eager to accept me. Well, no, they've added me as a patient, but as an "administrative member" who has another entity--Blue Shield--as a primary carrier. This is causing no end of trouble. Palo Alto Medical Foundation, who provides my main health care, has no issue with it, though it does mean they're going to have to do everything twice. But the radiation oncologist and the hand clinic I'll be going to don't belong to Palo Alto, so they want things clear from the get.

People, I have spent hours on this. Never mind that it took me a month to even understand that there was a problem and what it was. I finally got Covered California and Blue Shield in the same phone call at the same time and Covered California told Blue Shield that they did not in fact have me as a client, and Blue Shield took an incident number, and Covered California told me to call the Central Coast Health Alliance who administers Medi-Cal for my area, and I did, (the second time that day), and they said that was fine and I should also call my own county's Health Resources Department. I couldn't get through to them so I left it to another day.

That day was today. They are still showing me-- according to them, the state is still showing me--as a Blue Shield primary. Then they told me that I had to get hold of a paper copy of a termination letter from Blue Shield and fucking FAX it to them and I fell apart and cried and screamed and I am not proud of this but I have cancer and I should not be doing this. I said:this is not fair. Why is it my job? Why don't YOU call Blue Shield? And he said, I'm not allowed. As soon as I'm done with this phone call, I have to take another call. In other words, he's not a benefits worker, he's a call center worker--I thought: so I asked to talk to an actual benefits worker. Nope, he's what I get: he's the benefits worker: there is nobody whose job it is to actually make sure the benefits are correct.

This is one consequence of a multi-tiered health care system. Some people just flash their card and get their care. Other people have to spend hours on the phone and wait for letters that will not come with the prospect of finding a fax machine (do they have those at copy shops? I don't even know where a copy shop is anymore: both the ones I used to go to have closed). I've called the Palo Alto oncology department social worker but I won't hear from her till Tuesday and the surgery's Thursday. Fortunately the radiation won't start till two or three weeks after that at the earliest.

But you know? There's worse consequences.

Imagine if I had been living in one of the states that refused the Affordable Care Act right now.

I might be covered on the Federal Exchange, but I might not be effectively covered. If I was in certain states, I might not have been able to afford the monthly fees, and there would be no kind of version of Medicaid waiting for me. I might be looking for charity health care.

I might die.

So it's a good thing I'm in a blue state, right? Hell of a way to run a country.
ritaxis: (hat)
Every bit of information I have gotten since that first partial pathology report has been boring. That's good. I do have a fairly rare and aggressive type of cancer, but it's not more aggressive than other more common cancers, it doesn't appear to be growing fast, it has given no evidence of having spread anywhere, and it has helpful receptors and it  doesn't have unhelpful ones. So therefore my treatment plan is really routine. I will have a wee bit of a lumpectomy and the lymph nodes connected to that part of the breast will be removed too. If all goes well, and there's no cancer in the lymph nodes and the piece of flesh that's removed looks like it has a good margin around the tumor, I'll get a course of radiation and five to ten years of a hormone-locking medication. If there's doubt about the margins, they might go in again and remove more tissue. If there's cancer in the lymph nodes, or if no cancer in the lymph nodes but there's dangerous looking genetics in the removed tissue, I will also get a course of chemotherapy.

Everybody seems to think this is walk-in-the-park level of treatment, by which I mean, i'm not expecting tremendous amounts of side effects--some, of the type we associate with these things, but not a lot. And no disability to speak of. Which is frustrating the hell out of friends and family who want to do things for me. All I need is three rides the day of the surgery and someone to walk the dog that day and the next. After that--I'm a boring normal person.

It's all a bit anticlimactic, but I'm not complaining.

On another front, doves sat on my skylight for half an hour yesterday, giving me a lovely view of their red red feet and their fuzzy feathery butts, but it sure drove Zluta nuts.
ritaxis: (Default)
I stayed home today because I was feverish and achy in the morning. I called to bargain for more time, so I could come in later, but my coworker and my boss both told me to stay home, so I did. I thought I might clean house as it was obvious I would feel better as the day went on.

Instead: I wrote a thousand words or so each in two romantic "comedies" (everybody always thinks I'm writing High Angst when I write comedy, what gives with that?) -- the one about the guy who's looking for his Prince and the one about the botanist and his brother-in-law -- and the not-Poland story, and had a long conversation with Frank online about smeerps vs. moss-trolls (calling everything, even the most mundane things, by new names as a shortcut to an exotic setting, vs. the consequences of bringing in counterfactual things to the story). I did not solve the problem of what to do about not-Church in not-Poland, but I did get some clues. Frank keeps thinking I am doing not-Poland in the actual middle ages, but I am doing not-Poland in about 1900. Many things do not look much different. Also, I realized that I really am going to have a pattern, in which the first section of a chapter proceeds along a timeline, while the last bit flashes back to all that stuff I already wrote, and later to other things, in whatever order is relevant for the story.

This means that I am not as much in control of not-Poland as I would like to be. I like to know everything that happens before I write (and then discover I am mostly wrong, but you know), and this time there's much more than I like that I don't know. There. a sentence I could never say in Czech or even in Spanish.

Thanks to personhead dd_b and personhead randwolf, I am now making progress in learning photoshop and illustrator.

Illustrator is the cat's meow. Due to its marvellous programming, I can draw with the mouse more smoothly than I can with a pencil. I spent a long time doing calligraphic alphabets for experimenting purposes, with both programs open, and it was really really nice. Personhead diminshedsheep, thank you for doing the legwork, and don't forget to rock out with those programs too. I think I want to uninstall the forty-eleven other programs that adobe wished on me, though.

Last thought before bed: yesterday Zack found a lump on Truffle. It was the size and shape of the one we removed a bit over a year ago. I made an appointment to have her looked at. I was sure it was the same malignant cancer, and didn't know how I would handle it this time because of the trip and the fact that I had sworn not to put her through multiple surgeries.

Today, while I was bathing her (belatedly, she had already tracked foul mud everywhere), I discovered there was no lump at all. And she was tender yesterday and not today.

So, dodged a bullet, so to speak.

Locals: there's going to be a meeting on March 21 to talk about tsunami preparedness. It was already scheduled, because that week is Tsunami Awareness Week in California. Just one of the many trifles that Republicans don't think we should be spending money on.

Why did spellcheck remove all my tags so I have to tag all over again?

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