Wednesday, 26 September 2018

I AM here ... Somewhere!!

Well the unforseen fairy struck again! I'll make this a short "lifestyle" blog, and come back later to do a crafty one. Hopefully I can keep my brain intact long enough to do that!

So many months have elapsed, but the good news is that I have had my mastectomy and my surgeon told me that he is confident he has removed everything. However he discovered 7 tumours ranging in size from 4mm to 22mm as well as 3 out of 13 lymph nodes being tested positive for cancer. Having got over the shock of that quantity, we talked over next steps, and decided that their recommended course of progress was in my best interests. So I had an appointment with an oncologist to discuss those next steps.

As a result I have a pre chemo chat due on 1st October to be followed by my first session of chemo the next day. I have been told of all the possible side effects, but probably the worst one for most breast cancer patients is the loss of hair. So I have been busy researching how to make chemo hats and caps, I've found a few patterns and hopefully today I can make a start on that.

There have been so many friends and people who have backed me in this journey - both real and virtual friends. I have been sent cards, emails, Facebook messages, heart shaped cushions (to pop under your arm when sleeping), and and knitted knockers. I even made myself a couple of those too! They look a bit like knitted pyramids, stuffed with fibrefill. And they are so comfy to wear. Then today I received a card from a friend, which mirrors the strapline from my email. "When Life gives you Rain - put on your Wellies and Play in the Puddles"

He certainly lifted my spirits this morning when he arrived.

So I shall end this short update, and hopefully be back soon with a post about my "normal" crafts!
Until then - take care and hug the ones you love
Sandie XXX

Friday, 13 April 2018

One step forward and HOW MANY back??

Afternoon everyone. Finally our weather looks like it's beginning to think it might be time to warm up a bit. The daffodils and primroses on our front garden are beginning to look quite pretty, so I'll show you a photo - actually it's a photo from last year!!
We (or rather I) decided to start with a gardener this year as I knew I wouldn't be able to keep on top of it with hospital appointments etc. So we now have a lady gardener who comes for a couple of hours once a fortnight. She came last week and made a start on the front, so next week I hope she'll get that finished. Then I might be able to see what needs to be replaced as the frost killed it!

Health wise? Well, I'm doing okay on the medications I was given, except for my night sweats and aching joints. Reminds me how I felt going through the menopause! Thought I'd finished with all that but apparently not! The extra MRI they took of my spine revealed nothing more than a degenerated spot. So my cancelled operation was really cancelled over nothing, but if the meds I am taking helps to shrink the cancer, then I'm happy to continue taking them. My next appointment will be in the beginning of June, so we shall see what the specialists suggest then. 

Mike had quite a few issues over the Easter period with keeping food down, so we asked for another gastroscopy. Because of the Easter holidays that didn't happen until this week. Also this week he had an assessment for the chemotherapy cycle. We have been told it will be over 6 months, with sessions of about 2 hours every 2 weeks. And we've also been told that it's not quite as bad as some regimes, so hopefully he shouldn't suffer from it too much. He was due to start that yesterday, but because his bloods showed an issue with his kidneys, it was cancelled, with repeat bloods being taken next week to check on it again. Hopefully if they show an increase in kidney function, then the chemo will start a few days later.

Cross stitch wise? Well I decided to make a cushion for my granddaughter. She managed to fracture her arm just before Easter - not a bad break, but enough to mean it had to be put into a cast. BUT being a 7 year old, she managed to crack the cast 3 times and on the third occasion, they redid the x-rays, decided that it was in the correct position so she could just wear a tubigrip bandage. So to cheer her up I stitched a unicorn for her. 
I found some unicorn fabric, so that's the next job - to finally finish it off for her. My HAED Storykeep was rather unloved for a few weeks, so it's not much further on that last time, although I have picked it back up again. Here's where I am now. 
Sorry about the quality of the photo there, but it's under artificial light now! He's finally finished his face, and the claws, so all the rest is stocking (red) and background (brown)! So it might be slow going now!!

I also made a picture from Scrabble letters to take down to our van, to personalise it. It took ages to work out the placing of the letters! I don't think I have a future as a crossword designer!
It took ages to find small things to add to it. The mermaids were cut from a sheet of scrapbook paper, the mini shells and starfish were also scrapbook embellishments - so not real ones. The "plant life" is actually a plastic floristry product, and I found a few mini bottles with cork lids, so added on of those. I must admit it's not perfect, so I'm quite pleased with it overall. 

Well I'd better get on and sort out some dinner for tonight. 
Until next time - everybody please take care

Sandie XX

Monday, 5 March 2018

The BEAST from the EAST in Essex

After a week of awful weather (see photos below) today we woke up to normal weather for the time of year. Essex is normally one of the driest areas in the country - we hardly ever have sustained snow and what we get is usually turned to slush in a matter of hours because it is a wet snow. But NOT this year!!
This was Day One of the "Beast from the East".

And Day Two! It got deeper and deeper!
I never did get round to covering the patio furniture last winter! OOPS!
My Bill (or is it Ben?) acting as part of the Queen's Guard in his busby!

Finally (after 3 days of snowfall) the snow was beginning to clear. "Weed" and my small Tete a Tete narcissus pot have survived being buried under 6-8" of snow! Spring is coming after all!

The snow arrived on Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning. Typical! Mike was due to go for his gastroscopy that afternoon. But about 9.30am the hospital rang to see if he was still aiming to come. He said yes - provided we could move the car!! So after telling us that several people had cancelled because of the weather, they told him to get in and he'd be seen earlier. So we dressed for the weather - boots, scarves, gloves, hats etc took mobile phones, wallet and a broom and headed out to the car. Since we bought the Yeti we cannot get it into the garage (won't fit under the roll-up door!) so after brushing off enough to open a door, Mike sat inside with the blowers working to help clear the ice from the windscreen, while I used the broom to sweep all the snow off the rest of the vehicle! We got him to hospital about 10am, and he was there until just after 3.30pm. They discovered a second stricture just above the stent, but have dilated that and since then he has begun to eat properly again. He even had his first roast dinner yesterday in two months! This week he has an appointment with the stoma nurse on Wednesday (and we have to get blood tests done), and then on Friday we have another appointment with the oncology team. Maybe we will find out when they intend to start any chemotherapy.

Meanwhile I'm still taking the medication which was prescribed for me. So far the only side effect has been hot flushes! But they have been quite useful in the last few days to keep me warm in bed! I hope to hear sometime this week about the MRI they took of my spine. We have been almost like hermits over the last few weeks, spending plenty of time in PJ's, but as I seem to be severely lacking in energy, I'm not bothered too much by that! Hopefully over the next couple of weeks I'm going to interview a gardener who will keep my meagre patch under control. I never got to grips with it at the end of last year and so it needs a real good going over now. I don't have the energy to even consider doing that, so - I'm going to employ a gardener!!

We were going to head to our van in Caister for the opening weekend of the season, but the snow took care of that! Haven put some photos up on Facebook advising people not to go. Not only the roads were blocked, but the water pipes leading into each van were frozen, so no-one had water to flush toilets or use as drinking water! 
The main building this week. 

The entrance to the beach boardwalk!

Same entrance in summer! 
So hopefully we are going to try and get down there this weekend. We need to open it up and air it out after being closed up for 4 months. 

I did a happy dance as I managed to finish the first page of my HAED Storykeep - Magical Arrival by Anne Stokes. I'm stitching it on 18ct Aida and will probably finish it as a wallhanging for next Christmas. 

I got so carried away with the fact I could see the top of his head, that I carried on stitching him! I can now see the outline of almost his whole head. 

Anyway, better go and sort out a few more threads! As any stitcher will understand - there are always threads which need bobbinating and fabric which needs measuring. One day I'll get round to doing a bit more on my Hawaiian quilt top - so watch this space for that! 

Until then - take care

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Another update


Well, those scans I had to have done have been completed, and I was called back to see the doctor last Wednesday afternoon. It gets more complicated now! The bone scan revealed a spot of "something" on my spine! Because it did not show up on the CT scan they need an MRI to investigate that area further. As my cancer did not show fully until revealed on an MRI, they wish to do the same - just in case! However it does appear from the CT scan, that is the only other area causing concern as nothing else shows. Because of that the operation (due yesterday) has been cancelled for now.  However they did start me on some medication which should start to slowly starve the cancer and make it shrink. IF the spot on my spine is the same, it should have the same effect, so I have to remain on these meds for 3 months, then have repeat MRI's to see if there is a difference in size. At that point we will re-enter the surgical discussion again. So far the only side effects from these meds are hot flushes - I thought I had left those behind me! Obviously not!!

Meanwhile Mike had his stoma refashioned and has seen the surgeon and the stoma nurse who are both happy with his progress. He has to go for a gastroscopy next Wednesday, so hopefully that might let him eat again. It's been hit and miss over the last few days - some days he is fine, others not. I will just be grateful if he can put back on the weight he has lost over the last month!

Today I got a beautiful piece of fabric for my Aveline project. Eostre from Chromatic Alchemy is a beautiful soft greeny blue with a slight hint of brown. It's very like the original HAED pattern background, so should look wonderful on it. I have started to grid the fabric for my sea turtle, but haven't got very far on that!

My Magical Arrival has moved on a little bit - I think I can see where the ears are supposed to be - those two pointed bits in the centre?
I am always amazed at the unlikely colours which make up the patterns -if someone had told me that the red bow was made up from browns, corals, yellow and red (of course) I'd have said they were mad - but Michele (who makes up these charts) is a genius - and the proof when you stand back is a thoroughly realistic looking bow.

Oh well, better go ad get some lunch sorted and see if Mike feels like eating today. 

Take care everyone and look after yourselves


Saturday, 10 February 2018

So much has happened - AGAIN!

I have just looked at my blog and realised how long ago I last posted. So much has happened since then, but I will try to condense it so as not to bore you!

Mike had been to Basingstoke and we were due to return there for his op in mid December. He had to have a scan before his return, and that revealed a lot more than we had hoped for. His cancer had spread to his stomach and we were told that the liver operation was completely cancelled. It was determined to be non-operable but manageable. We have been waiting for him to put on a bit more weight before he starts his chemo (still waiting but due to start sometime in March we hope). We have also seen the surgeon who performed his original operation and she is going to operate on Friday coming (16th) to tidy up his stoma which has prolapsed badly. He is also beginning to have trouble eating and keeping food down again, so we have a clinic appointment for him with the doctor who positioned the stent for him.

As if that wasn't enough to cope with, I went for my regular mammogram mid December (on a day when we had snow too!) A week later I was recalled - something which happened before, so I wasn't unduly worried. So on the Thursday before Christmas I went back and was told there was something there. They did a biopsy on the spot, but I had to wait all over Christmas and New Year to be called back again. I was told there was lobular breast cancer on one side and they requested an MRI to double check the spread. A week later I had another appointment when I was told that it was bigger than first thought, but that a mastectomy would be recommended. After chatting over my options we decided that I would follow their advice, but accompany it with a reconstruction at the same time. My reasoning being that it would be over in a single operation - albeit a major one. That would mean that whatever happened to Mike perhaps a year down the line, I would be in a position to cope with it all.

However in our area the reconstruction would not be carried out locally, so I would have to travel to Chelmsford (about 25 miles away), so a series of appointments followed there as well as local appointments. It was decided that I would need a Sentinel Node operation to remove nodes from the armpit to discover if there was any spread. At this point everyone seemed to think there was no problem and I was told it was 95% probable that there was no spread. BUT fate strikes again. With my operation date planned for 23rd Feb, I was called back yesterday to discover that the nodes had shown cancer cells, so it is likely to have spread further. It may mean chemo before any operation to shrink any tumour. To say I am devastated is a bit of an understatement. I already had an appointment for a CT scan of my abdomen to enable the plastic surgeon to know the position of the blood vessels ready for the operation, and I was advised to have the procedure as requested.

I now have to have a full body bone scan (to take place on Tuesday morning) followed by a full body CT scan (due on Wednesday evening!) Once those results are in, they will review and discuss the best way to proceed. So all our plans are now up in the air, it has been a full-time job trying to dovetail both our appointments, and now instead of being on the home run, we have to start all over again. If it wasn't for family and friends (real and virtual) I'm not sure that I would have made it through the last couple of months - so thank you all for your support.

Meanwhile my stitching has again saved my sanity through all this. My concentration has been shot needless to say, so I have been working only for short periods as I don't want to end up having to frog whatever I do managed to achieve! I completed another cone Santa. This one came from a magazine I was given. I have to finish it off, but here is the sewn piece.
I also completed two of the Christmas Hootie designs - the rest of these will be accompanying me once I finally get the go-ahead to go to hospital as they are quite small and easily transported. They will give me a head start on Christmas 2018 too!

I have been making slow progress on my next HAED design.It is a Storykeep - Magical Arrival by Anne Stokes. 
I have tried to use my tablet for marking off the stitches on this. I use a program called Ezpdf, which lots of people from the HAED Facebook page recommend. It's been fairly simple to use instead of marking off on a hard copy, but when it comes to a larger piece I'm not sure how it will be as I don't want to stitch a page and end up with lines showing on the finished stitching. We shall see I suppose. 

I have also been busy kitting up the next couple of things I want to start. I was gifted "Sea Turtle Spirit of Serendipity" another HAED 

 - as well as "Aveline".
I am busy in the evenings gridding a piece of 18ct white Aida for the sea turtle as that is full coverage, but I have ordered a piece of hand-dyed fabric for Aveline as I ordered it with no background. I have all the threads needed for both pieces, so hopefully, I will be able to start them soon.

So I had better go and see what is on tv tonight. Not into watching the Olympics, so let's find something else to watch. I'm busy knitting while watching tv, so will try and show you that next time.
Until then try and be good to each other - you never know when something unforseen will strike.
Take care


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Back again - almost a record!!

Well, here we are again! Hope you're all keeping well?

Mike and I took our trip down to Basingstoke as planned. We stayed in a hotel the night before he was due to go in and I had booked in for the extra 3 nights myself. I dropped him off at the requested time and found my way to a local Hobbycraft (well it seemed a shame not to!) I then got a phone call to say that as he'd had all the tests done the week before here, they didn't really want him to take up a bed that night - so I had to go back and collect him and take him back the next morning! It ended up being a four hour procedure - he had to lay very still for that whole time! They inject a kind of superglue into the vein on one side of the liver, which then forces the other side to regenerate itself. Then they cut away the cancerous half intact so that the infected cells and/or blood does not have a chance to enter the system. Basingstoke hospital seems to be a centre of excellence for dealing with this type of cancer, so our fingers are firmly crossed that the operation (scheduled for Dec 15th) will go well. Please keep us both in your thoughts and prayers for then.

Well, having reported on that - what have I been up to stitchywise?

A friend from the USA - Deb - sent me some fancy trim, which I used to finish off my Santa ornament. It came from a UK magazine at least a year ago - can't remember which one! It's stitched on vinyl aida - which I hated!
Recently we had several cross stitch kits available in Aldi supermarkets. Many people wanted them but they had run out in several stores! I was lucky enough to get some and I finished the unicorn for a part of my granddaughter's Christmas present. The original had a pink unicorn - and although I'm a believer - I don't believe they are pink! So I altered it and added the words. I finished it in a small hoop and made a plaited ribbon to hang it with from some narrow ribbons which I had stored away. 
 Here's the original - 
And here's my version -  - much better I think!!

I also finished the Mrs Claus project - again not quite as Brookes' Books Publishing had it, but I'm quite happy with this one.
We also went down to our van at Caister at then end of last week to make it ready for winter. We can go back to it in March, so we're hoping that by then Mike will be much fitter and maybe 2018 will be a better year for us both. It hardly seems like an entire year has gone by since Mike was taken in to hospital for an unknown cause. In some ways I feel a stronger person, knowing that I had the strength to cope with whatever was thrown my way. In other ways I am depressed because of so much that happened. It also made me take stock of what matters in life. Love, family and friends are what got me through it all - so if you were a small part of that - THANK YOU

Until next time

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Here again

Afternoon all! It's been grey and dismal days here for the most part recently. And it seems to have affected my mood. I really can't be bothered to get out and tidy up the garden before the hardness of winter strikes. Dust and cleaning? Forget it! I can just about raise enthusiasm for cooking for us both.
I have loads to be getting on with too.

So what have I achieved?

Turtle is finished, but not made up yet - looking for the perfect fabric to make the cushion.
I made some of the bubbles with DMC satin threads just to give it some added texture. 
I hope they wear well!

I also managed to put Moon Hare onto a canvas but have to get some more picture wire to actually get it up on the wall. Still not sure where to hang him. I want him somewhere prominent to remind me of our struggles over the last year and how we have had the strength to come through it. So I'll take a photo of that once I decide where it's going to hang.

I've now started the Spirit of Mrs Claus (Brooke's Books) - got a bit more done than this, but not much! (due to lethargy!)
Sorry about the quality of the photo!

and a trip to Tesco's where I found this beauty of a colouring book!

We went up to see our daughter and granddaughter during half term (last week). By this time next week my little girl will be 39!! I really don't know where those years have gone - but I expect you can all relate to that sentiment! 

Tomorrow I must phone Basingstoke to check if they are still expecting Mike on 7th November. He had pre-op tests done locally last week so the results should be with Basingstoke now. As we haven't had written confirmation of the appointment I want to  check it's all still on before I book a hotel there for the night before. To get there we have 125 mile trip, which includes driving round London on the M25 (which we joke and call the biggest car park in the world because the traffic can be so slow!) and then onto the M3 (which is often not that much better). In theory it should take about two and a half hours - but we'll see!

Oh well - better get shifting and make a cuppa - need to get myself moving!
Til next time