Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy End of the Year!

This is certainly a year to which I am ready to say 'GOODBYE and GOOD RIDDANCE!' I am happy to end the year without cancer. And I'm hoping 2019 brings lots of joy and happiness to all. 

I'm sharing some of our family Christmas photos here. Above, the two daughter surround me. Yes, I got my hair cut really short because I'm still having issues with lifting my right arm to dry and style it. I'm not sure if I'll keep it this short or not, but it is very easy.

Daughter 2 hosted us at her new home here in Auburn. 

No, I still haven't sewn. It's been so long. I do have some semblance of order in my sewing room though. 

I've looked over my list of quilts in progress and quilts I want to make. I have nixed Splendid Sampler 2 - it's not going to happen. And that's okay.

There are a couple of Bonnie Hunter quilts I want to make eventually -Pferffernusse and Garden Party, but no rush. A friend in my guild gifted me her leftover strings for Pferffernusse so I have that to start with. When will I begin? Who knows!?  

I still have some works in progress that need addition, too. All will get done eventually.

I had my last fill of my expanders a couple of weeks ago. This one was the most painful of all, plus I came down with a cold a few days afterward. I was so glad I didn't have to host Christmas. I am on the mend now, but still in a bit of pain on one side. I'm sure this will pass eventually! I have to go back to UAB on Wednesday, but then I hope I don't have to go back for a couple of months.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hump Day and Doughnut Day

I'm checking in again. Yesterday was my weekly UAB visit for my third expansion fill. Ouch. (On the way home we stopped at a doughnut shop because I deserved a treat.) Each fill is a bit harder from which to recover. The first took 24 hours to feel better. The second took 2 days. So I'm figuring this one will take 3 days. My doctor did give me a prescription for muscle relaxers this time and I took one last night when I went to bed/sofa. It helped.

I did get some things done on Tuesday. My sewing room is a mess and I started reorganizing and putting things away. Another work in progress - haha! I'm hoping today I'll feel like getting back in there again for a bit. Still no sewing, though I'm itching to do just that.

Christmas shopping is being done on-line - so thankful for Amazon though I do have a missing package. Amazon says it was 'handed off directly' on Monday. Nope. Still hasn't arrived. I called and they are sending a replacement that should arrive today. A friend on our street had the same thing happen on the same day - something suspicious about that.

I am beginning to do a bit of laundry and a little cooking. No driving yet though. But it's good to do a few things around the house.

Slowly, but surely! Thanks for all the sweet comments!

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Work in Progress (NOT a Quilt!)

We came back to our cottage in town on Monday! Good to be here again. Daughter 2 and SIL2 have officially moved to Auburn - now both of our daughters live here! Yippee! D2 and SIL2 lived in our cottage while we were at the lake house. Their B'ham house sold and they have now moved into their Auburn home. 

You may remember my Santa Swell quilt. I made the log cabin blocks and sewed the background together at the lake. Our last few days there I appliquéd Santa in place. So now this top is done (except for cutting away the background underneath Santa. I will quilt this one myself, but I will wait until next year. My arms (especially my left arm) will not be strong enough for machine quilting for a couple of months, I think. 

The work in progress? My body. My chest looks really strange and lumpy and pulled and weird. The incisions have healed nicely though. After the horrific allergic reaction that landed me back in the hospital, I thought I might forgo reconstruction. And I still might. But for now I'm feeling a bit stronger and I think I'll give it a try.

During my bilateral mastectomy surgery (performed by a breast surgeon)...a plastic surgeon came in and inserted expanders under my muscles before closing me up. Expanders are like disk shaped balloons. On a weekly basis I have to go back to the plastic surgeon and he injects saline solution into each expander, about 1/2 cup per breast per week. I have had this done twice at this point. This will keep happening until I'm happy with the size. Yes, it's uncomfortable while it's being injected. And it's painful for 24-48 hours afterward. During this time the skin and muscles are stretching. The expanders themselves are uncomfortable as well, so I'll be glad when this is over.

At some point - I'm thinking in the first few months of 2019 - I'll have another surgery to take out the expanders and put in implants. This entire process is so strange for me - never thought I'd have plastic surgery! My goal is not to be big - just to feel comfortable in my clothing and a bathing suit.  

All this may be more information than you really wanted, but I'm not embarrassed by this at all and believe in honesty. 

I tried sleeping in a bed, but it didn't go well. So I'm back to sleeping on the sofa on my back. And that's okay.

I haven't done any sewing this week. I still tire out very quickly and don't have much energy. My goals each day are very small. Today I hope to put away some clothes I brought back from the lake. Yesterday I made a grocery list for Hubby. Little goals. And that's okay.   

Saturday, December 1, 2018

More Binding!

I finished binding the second ORL quilt. Don't they look cute in front of the fireplace? Those chairs are sitting there temporarily - we had to rearrange the lake furniture to allow for a recliner for my recovery. A recliner is a really good thing for breast surgery recovery! I've had to sleep in it a good bit. 

I can also get comfy on the sofa with a large assortment of pillows under and around me. I look forward to being able to sleep in a bed again. I really look forward to being able to sleep on my side again!

I did get the last surgical drains out a few days ago. I also had another small procedure that was uncomfortable. We'll be going back to UAB weekly for the time being for more little procedures. And I'll still have at least one more surgery in the future. My body is truly a pincushion. I'm really tired of being stuck! 

The entire allergic reaction trauma has left me anxious and fearful of needles and procedures - I was never like this before. My skin's reaction was so severe that I was told I was on the verge of being treated as a burn patient. My white count also skyrocketed (triple the normal value) which left me so weak and disoriented. It was really bad and scary. My UAB doctors say they've never seen this happen to a patient before. 

Today I'm feeling pretty well. I still have backwards days where I don't feel as well, and that's to be expected. Without the surgical drains I can now shower all by myself - a big win! I wish I felt like baking Christmas cookies. I wish I felt like doing lots of things...but I know I'll be stronger very soon.  Until then I'll sit here in my recliner and rest! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

One Christmas Quilt, Finished

I finished hand stitching the binding on one of these! My version of On Ringo Lake...

My friend, Beth, quilted them for me a few months ago. I took a few days off between stitching down the binding of the other one. I had Hubby put it beside my chair this morning and hopefully I'll begin it later this afternoon.

I'm slowly getting a bit better. But I'm much weaker at this point than I was hoping to be. That second stay in the hospital really took a toll on me. I can dress myself now, which is good. I can fix myself a cup of hot tea. But that's about all I can do. Hubby is doing a great job at meals, laundry, and everything else. I'm lucky to have him.

Tomorrow I have doctor appointments and I hope I'll get my remaining 2 surgical drains removed - that would be nice.

In about a week we'll be heading back to our cottage in the Auburn/Opelika area. We are looking forward to being there during Christmas. I think my two Christmas quilts will be our only decorations, and that's just fine.

For now I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and I've been watching YouTube videos of Japanese hand sewing - making little pouches and bags. I've had a sudden interest in making some funky jewelry. I want to make some little sewing projects, too (hence the Japanese videos). Once we return to our cottage and I am able, I want to sort through all my sewing stuff and reorganize. I want to focus on finishing my UFO's. I don't have any big quilts in my queue at the moment - just want to finish some things and work on some small Japanese inspired stuff.  Sounds like a plan to me.

When I knew my surgery was approaching, I ordered a few Lularoe legging outfits because I knew they'd be comfortable during recovery. Okay, so now I have a problem. I've ordered two more this week. If you see me out and about, I will most like be wearing Lularoe. I think I have 7 outfits now. They are so comfy. And the knit fabric feels soft against my incisions. And the Christmas ones are so stinking cute!

And that's my update for today!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thankful for SO MUCH!

Where do I even begin?

Last I left you...I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had met with lots of doctors and had my surgery scheduled. The long wait leading up to surgery was really hard. The worry and dread. The unknown. So much on my brain.

I decided on a bilateral mastectomy - I didn't want to do a lumpectomy because I would have also had to have radiation with that. I didn't want a single mastectomy because I would have to continue to worry about that remaining breast. The surgery was on 11/9/18 - about a week and half ago. I had to spend one extra night in the hospital because of some rogue swelling in one place, but was happy to have this behind me.

Once home (lake house...1.5 hours from hospital) Hubby and I realized something was not right. Over the next few days we made two trips to a hospital emergency room near the lake and called my surgeons back in B'ham. We were pretty sure I was having an allergic to something. I continued to worsen and by last Friday we drove back to Birmingham, knowing I needed to be back in the hospital.

I will not go into details here, but will just say that the next few days were really hard. I had lots of medical tests, saw lots of doctors. They had to rule out lots of things. During this time my skin was the culprit - itchy, red, burning. Did you know the skin is the largest organ of the human body? It was excruciating. But I'm here to tell the story!

I ended up spending 3 more days in the hospital (Hubby by my side!). I'm on mega doses of steroids to counteract the allergic reaction - an antibiotic was the culprit.

Enough about that. I'm home again. I feel so much better. Yesterday I even felt like a bit of hand sewing - I began to stitch down the binding you see above - one of my On Ringo Lake Christmas quilts. Happiness. I had not sewn in a long time - just wasn't in the mood or not feeling well.

Last night we were able to share the good news with family and friends that my pathology reports from surgery cam back - all very good news. So thankful. No more treatments needed.

Thank you to all my dear readers for all your love, support, and prayers. I will eventually get back to blogging on a more regular basis.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Stitch in the Ditch

I think that I last posted about basting my Christmas row quilt. I basted it and then spent a few days machine quilting, stitching in the ditch between the rows and borders. I've decided that some pearl cotton hand quilting would be nice. I have several colors of thread picked out to use. This will make a great project for my surgery addition to the knitting...and some hand appliqué. 

Mickey was cold yesterday and the only sweater we have here at the lake for him is his Christmas sweater. So he matches the quilt!

Yes, my breast cancer surgery is finally scheduled. It will be in November. I'll be glad to get it behind me!

Our new furniture was delivered over the weekend. The sofa and love seat are charcoal gray. We were finally able to design and hang a gallery wall in the living area- yes, Denim Cooper has a place now.  I LOVE a gallery wall! See the two copper lamps in the picture? Those are Microsun lamps I bought in June when they had their scratch and dent sale - great light for hand sewing! Later today we hope to finish hanging pictures in a couple of bedrooms.

Thanks for all your love and support!