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

Friday, 13 October 2017

Catching up again

Well - the best laid plans to continue on my blog seem to have gone severely awry this year!

The main reason has been Mike's continuing ill health issues. He has had to have regular gastroscopies about every month to six weeks as he is still having issues with swallowing. Just this last week he had a stent fitted to his gullet which SHOULD last about 2 months before we see his doctor again. In the meantime he went to see the surgeon in the summer who told him that she was prepared to reverse his stoma operation at the end of August. However because his blood work showed increased levels of some indicators in his blood tests, it was postponed for two weeks. Then we saw the surgeon again, who told us that there appeared to be a cancerous lesion on his liver and that it would be more important to deal with that first. That meant an MRI which then was passed to doctors at Basingstoke hospital (they are specialists in liver cancers). This week we heard from them that they will operate on him. Hopefully we will be going down on November 7th, when they do a procedure to encourage the liver to start growing before they do the actual operation. That would follow in about a month after that.

I believe they have accommodation within the hospital for relatives who have miles to travel! So I have to make enquiries about that too. And a year down the line I am still going to be hospital visiting. At least this year Mike is in a better position to recover. His body weight has been gradually increasing so it shouldn't take him as long to recover from a serious operation.

Apart from that - what else has been happening in our life?

In June we went to the Haven Holiday site in Caister-on-Sea. We both loved it so much that we ended up purchasing a new static caravan which we got the keys for in September. Over the last month we have spent more days there than at home! And while we're there at least I don't feel guilty about not doing housework or gardening!!
Outside of van (with our new car!)

Living area


Dining area with door outside

Main bedroom
There are two other twin bedrooms as well as a family shower room and an en suite toilet in the main bedroom. We are really looking forward to getting down there many times next year. It's about a two hour drive from home (less if traffic is light) so far enough away to be a holiday, yet near enough to drive up there if we just fancy a day away. We are also going to let it out for part of the year, so that would help with the site fees.

And my stitching has also been slow progress since Mike came home - at least I blame him!

I finished stitching my Moon Hare - but have yet to actually to make him into a FFO. 
Finally completed -  but beautiful!

Then I worked on this - a pattern I bought in a shop called the Twisted Turtle in Nawiliwili on Kaui during one of our Hawaiian cruises. 

Currently I have almost completed him as I have been stitching on him while we've been up to Caister. Here is where he stands today - another weekend should see him completed. 

I have been busy buying several Heaven and Earth designs and kitting some of them up to do. I've also been gifted a few RAK patterns from them over the last year - so watch out for the next "BAP" to hit the frame!!

Better sign off and go and get some dinner for tonight. Not sure what I fancy! Might just have to raid the fridge!

Until next time - take care


Friday, 21 April 2017

Missing In Action!

Well hello there! I know - it's been almost a year since I last posted. For those of you who may know me from other areas of the web - I apologise - skip the next 2 paragraphs as you already know what I'm going to say!!

Last July my husband started to be sick - not normal vomiting - but it looked like coffee grounds. The next day he was fine and shrugged it off. A month later - same thing! So the following day (which happened to be a Bank Holiday in the UK), I forced took him to A&E in our local hospital. They took at look and ordered a gastroscopy which he took 2 weeks later. They prescribed medication and a repeat gastroscopy in 6 weeks. By the time that date arrived, he was so weak that he could hardly get out of bed, let alone get to the hospital. Finally on Nov 2nd, he collapsed in the early hours of the morning and I had to call an ambulance to get him into hospital. Once there, after rehydrating and undergoing several more CAT scans and tests, it was discovered he had bowel cancer.  We met a wonderful surgeon at that point, who said that she would operate to give him a stoma, which would allow him time to recover enough to undergo the operation to remove the cancerous part of the bowel. However when she operated, the tissue was felt to be too friable, so she removed about 65cm of bowel then and there.

Following a few days in the Intensive Care Unit, he was moved back to a main ward, where he started to recover, until he was unable to keep any kind of food or drink down. He was released from hospital on Feb 5th, after 12 weeks in hospital, still unable to keep anything down, but they were ordering gastroscopies and dilatations which they hoped would work. Three procedures later, we had a meeting with the oncologist - NO MORE CANCER!! So that was a positive step. Then we met the surgeon. Provided Mike was able to put on weight and start to heal properly, she would be prepared to offer a reversal to the stoma in about 6 months. We have an appointment booked for early July to discuss that. Finally a fortnight ago, just before Easter, Mike went in for another gastroscopy and this time it appears to have worked! He is eating and drinking a little more every day. And he is beginning to put on weight again.

So my life has virtually been ON HOLD for the last 6 months. I have had the support of friends and ex-colleagues. People I have never met - friends through the power of the Internet - have supported Mike and I in prayer or healing thoughts - and I want to thank each and every one of those people.

But of course my stitching and craft have been the mainstay of my personal battle during this time. When I felt like coming home and screaming about the unfairness of life - my little xxxxx's helped to keep me sane enough to function as a relatively normal human being!

As I can't go into more details here - I'll just post the pictures of things which I have worked on in these last months of pain and despair. (WARNING - lots of photos here!)
 Gnome cushion from magazine

 Brooke's Books Advent Animals finished and given to my granddaughter in time for Christmas 2017.

  Keyring for my Granddaughter - they studied pirates at school!

 Camper van from magazine - lettering added myself. A present for a good friend who has held my hand through all of this. 

 Fairy Grandmother - finished and hung - L&Lace

 Current WIP - HAED pattern from WOCS 

 Progress on Moon Hare to date
 Christmas 2017 for my Granddaughter

 House for the tooth fairy - Jess lost her first teeth this year! I made the whole thing from a box and felt!
 Back wall of the house!

And a bit of knitting - mermaid tail for Jess

 And a larger one for my daughter!!
Finished today!  Pompom rug for my granddaughter! If I'd planned it out I would have moved the J down a row, but hey - I didn't so it will have to be like this. Hopefully she will like it as it's in her favourite colours. She can put it beside her bed to wriggle her toes in as she gets up!

Right - well after so long away I'd better let you go and do something else instead! Hope you've all been busy. I will try to catch up on reading your blogs again. So I hope to see you again SOON!

Until then - take care and remember - you never know just when a family member or loved one will be hospitalised or worse - so talk to them often and always tell them that you love them.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Summer - where?

Afternoon all!

As I write this it's a grey and dismal day here - we're in June for ****s sake! Where is that summer weather we were promised? I was watching a tv program this morning, where they were interviewing an amateur weather forecaster. He was saying that the weather at Christmas determines the weather for the following summer. Therefore this year we would have about 2 or 3 weeks of summer weather in July/August! The rest would be wet and dismal. Just as well I've got plenty of stitching to keep me going then I suppose. Still he did forecast that Christmas this year should be frosty, but not deep snow, which should then herald a summer 2017 that we could be happy with. Long while to wait though!

Hopefully on Wednesday, we should be getting out garden patio sorted. Not sure if I elaborated before but we bought some artificial grass earlier this year, which we were going to lay on top of our existing patio outside the back door. Anyway - long story short - the original gardener we hired to do the job eventually didn't want to do it, and we had to find another. This time, the job is on to be done this week. My peony has just begun to come into flower and provides a bright splash of colour in the drabness.

Meanwhile, in the few summery days we have had, I have been out weeding our front garden, I'm leaving it almost bare this year, in an attempt to try and find/kill all the weeds which have been springing up there. One side seems to be a dandelion heaven and the other is a bindweed hotspot! I know that weeds are only flowers in the wrong place, but I really don't want them, so each time one springs up I try to dig it out and hopefully by next year I might have less to contend with.

DH is busy watching these Euro 2016 matches. I don't think he's missed one live yet! Still he did tape the second half of one match last night so that I could watch the season finale episode of Hawaii 5-0! And I do have my stitching to keep me company while he sits in front of the tv.

Better do a stitchy report now I suppose. While we were on our cruise, I managed to catch up with the Brooke's Books Advent Animals. (Although Brooke has just released number 24 in the series which I do have to stitch).

I decided that I'm stitching the name above each animal as I think they are a part of their charm. I've stitched them on long strips of Aida, and the first 2 strips (1-8 and 9-16) have already been part finished ready for assembly. I am going to make them into small pockets on a backcloth, which will hang from a kind of dowel rod. I've got Grumpy Kitty (again Brooke's pattern) to head up the hanging, so my plan is kind of coming together in my mind. 

I also managed to do a quick finish of a cover kit from a magazine (I think it was Cross Stitch Collection or possibly Cross Stitcher). This one will be a small hanging for the Christmas tree this year. 

Finally on to my Fairy Grandmother. I can finally say that I have restitched all that I had done before I had to frog everything, and have started to make more progress on it. This was how it looked a week or so ago - 
 This was not quite duplicating all I had done before. 

This was the start of some progress last week.
And this is where I've got to earlier today! 
I've decided to do her face 1 over 1 (it's 32 count), so I did the same for her hands as a test. I discovered that I can see the threads clearer if I peer over the top of my glasses! So I think that once we have had the garden settled, I must get round to making an opticians' appointment! I'm really not sure about the size of the beads against the rest, but it was what the pattern required, so I soldiered on with them. Also I couldn't make out the gold area just above the stripes on the bodice. It wasn't clear from the pattern. So after asking on Facebook and not getting a definitive answer from anyone who had already stitched this, I contacted Told In A Garden by email, explaining my plight. I had a reply from them in under 2 hours! They explained exactly what I should be stitching, and I was so happy with their prompt reply. It's always worth going back to the pattern maker if you have a query I've found.

Last of all I've acquired 2 new patterns (via from swapping a couple of my completed patterns. 
Hawaii Life!

 Christmas Friends.
This will go with the other Vickery Collection pattern I got a couple of years ago - 

I also managed to reframe a picture which I gave to my daughter some years ago. When we visited them last time, she have me a collection of broken frame pieces - it had dropped from it's hook and smashed. So I managed to reglue it back together, washed and restretched the picture and gave it back to her when we visited them last week. 
 Meet Valentino Rossi (Lyndisfarne Needlework kit) - freshly washed and reframed.

Well it's half time in the latest match, so I can get an answer if I ask DH what he wants for dinner! So I'd better go and turn on the oven!

Until next time - take care - and if you see the sun please remind it to come and shine over my way please?


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Catching up with life!

Hi again everyone.

We returned safely from our cruise at the beginning of the month, but I came home with an added extra - a terrible cough which took weeks to shift! Still I feel better now, so thought I'd better get back to posting - this one will be about our holiday so I'll be posting lots of photos.

We left Heathrow Airport early afternoon and landed in Los Angeles in time for dinner! We managed a quick meal and then almost straight away hit the bed, as we were tired out! We'd been up from about 6am to get the taxi to the airport, and with an 11 hour flight it felt like we'd been awake for ever. Luckily we were in a hotel we'd stayed in before, so we knew that the food was good, and we didn't have to go out hunting for a restaurant!

The next morning we were being collected just after 1pm and taken to our ship - the Ruby Princess, so we had plenty of time to sit outside and relax for an hour or so! As soon as we could see the bridge at San Pedro we began to feel like it was going to be a good trip!

 Outside the Marriott Airport hotel - watching planes landing on the other side of the road! 
 Ruby Princess parks next to the bridge, so you know you've arrived when you spot the bridge from the coach!

 Inside the Atrium on Ruby Princess

Top deck - before the hoards take over the pool!

The first four days on board are sea days. Normally it takes me a couple of days to get my sea legs - but this time I was fine from the very first day. We spent time lounging around, catching a few rays (and putting a few stitches into my Brookes' Advent Animals which I had brought along for the ride! 

The first stop this time was Lahaina (on Maui). This involves getting onto a tender boat to go ashore. Greeting us as we stepped off the jetty was a small group of older people (residents) who were dancing hula and playing ukuleles. 

Then - just a few paces away - is the old Banyan tree. This year there was a craft market around the tree with lots of local craft for sale. There were loads of photographers who had printed photos onto aluminium - a process I had never seen before. 

After a walk along the main street, we stopped for a drink at a sea front bar, where we could watch the waves! We also spent a few minutes watching all the mini crabs who were sunning themselves on the rocks below us! Who said that holidays had to be active!!
That's our ship in the distance! 

Back on board, there was a sailaway deck party and several cocktails to try before dinner! The next morning we docked in Hilo (Big Island of Hawaii). This time we opted for a hop on hop off bus. Hilo is only a small town, and the bus takes you out to the Rainbow Falls on one side of the town and then ends up at the black sand beach on the opposite side before taking you back to the ship. Here's a few shots of Hilo.
Rainbow Falls

King Kamehameha statue in Hilo

Japanese Gardens

Green Turtles (Honu) relaxing on the beach! This was the first time we had spotted turtles on our trips to Hawaii, so it was a very special day. 

Back on board again, but not before I found a Ben Franklins store and spent a few pounds topping up some craft supplies! The next day we were due to go ashore in Honolulu (Oahu). It was to be a full day (8am - 10.30pm!) We had booked tickets again for the hop on hop off bus, which would allow us to see as much as possible in the time we had available. 
On the road up to Diamond Head

On the way down from Diamond Head Crater, you drive past the Film Studios where Hawaii 5-0 is filmed. I wasn't able to get a photo of it, but that big monster truck that Steve McGarrett drives was parked outside! Shame they weren't filming though as the series was wrapped a few weeks before! So of course the next photo has to be where the Five-0 offices are based (in the show that is!)

We actually took two routes on the tour bus - the trip up to Diamond Head and back and the Historic route which took us around Honolulu itself. When we got back to the Ala Moana shopping centre, we hopped off and did a bit of shopping. Back on the bus we made a quick stop at Waikiki Beach (you just have to dip your feet in the ocean there!) before heading back to the ship for dinner. Some people had booked to go to a luau, but it had been included in a full day tour to the Polynesian Centre which would have meant we couldn't go round the town itself, so we decided not to do it on this trip. (maybe we'll have to go back again to do that!)
Waikiki Beach

Back on board and the next stop was Nawiliwili (Kaui). Hopping onto the free bus (see there's a common theme here?) we hopped off at the local beach and shops. Wandering round and sitting on the beach for a while to enjoy the day has to be one of the best things on holiday. Especially when people at home are freezing cold! 
 Early in the morning

Later in the day!

Before we went back on board, we took a side trip to Walmart where I bought some cotton fabric much cheaper than it would be at home. I picked up three nice lengths which will make some summer dresses and a charm square pack (for quilting) of fabrics which look like Hawaiian shirt material! Might make that into a nice quilted table runner or some table mats for outside on the patio table. Once everyone was back on board, we headed back across the Pacific - five days at sea this time!

The last stop was Ensenada (Mexico). I know they have to make a stop somewhere outside of the USA in order to be able to sell duty free on board (and also something to do with it being a non US registered ship) but there was little to do here. As this was our fourth cruise on this route, we had already done the trips organised by the ship, and the town itself doesn't have much to recommend it, so after a quick walk around the town, we spent most of the rest of the afternoon taking photos around the almost empty ship, and packing! 

An early morning arrival back in LA, and we were off on our last trip. We had booked to go to Long Beach, especially as our flight home wasn't until 9pm, and we were one of the first groups off the ship. We wandered round the Queen Mary, had lunch and were collected again. It did mean that we were at the airport by 1.30pm though (we had hoped to be longer in Long Beach), so we had to sit at the airport for quite a few hours! And if anyone has travelled through Virgin Atlantic at LA you will know that there isn't much to do there! Lucky I had my stitching in my carry on bag eh?

So after that whirlwind tour of our cruise, I suppose I had better let you all get on with life! Hope you enjoyed the photos. Next time I'll fill you in on my stitching progress

Until then, take care everyone