Thursday, February 26, 2009

And the Results are In...

...the biopsy results, that is. After all the digging around in my lungs yesterday, all my doctor can tell me is that whatever this thing is, it's inflamed. Ummm, I totally could've told them that. Totally. And I don't even have a medical degree! So, it's time to schedule another test. Yup, one more. This is a different kind of biopsy and needles are involved. I'm hoping they put me to sleep for this one, too, as I am not for needles. I'm meeting with the new specialist doctor today at two thirty, then setting up the next biopsy. I already have two other scans scheduled for next week, so it looks like it'll be another full week of tests, work, and trying to sleep. I really shouldn't complain, though, since everyone I've worked with has scrambled to get these tests set up as quickly as possible. I may need a secretary by the time this is done, to remember which procedure is scheduled for when at what location. I've been to three separate hospitals and this will be my third or fourth doctor in the area. If any of you ever need medical care in the Pottstown area, I'm the lady to talk to.

I did manage to mostly finish the first of Dadumm's fingerless mitts on Monday. It kind of sucked to give him an incomplete gift, but I was able to measure and fit them to his hands, which is good. I'm plying the yarn for the second mitt, I should have plenty of it. He may yet get a hat.

I think I might have promised pictures yesterday, which means I will have to take some. Please forgive me for leading you on, I wasn't exactly in my right mind. I basically went home and slept for several hours. Jim would occassionaly prod me to make me drink so juice and to make sure I was alive. He also fed me. And I seem to remember him petting me, which is good. I'm a lucky woman, Jim took good care of me yesterday.

Time to go make some tea and get ready to see yet another doctor. I hope you all have a good afternoon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quick One

Biopsy's done. I'm groggy as anything still, spent most of today sleeping. MRI and PET scan are next, results from everything in two weeks. Warm wishes are appreciated, thanks tons! Now if only I had some sort of soft, handknit sweater (ahem, momolla) to wrap around myself while I'm waiting and worrying. Not so much knitting today, sleepy. Pictures soon, though.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two Paths Diverged in a Wood...

...and actually, we took the one more traveled by. Jim and I went home (momolla, i may never stop calling it home, weird or not) for Dadumm's birthday. We got a bit of a late start, but still made it down to Jersey in time to drive through the woods with the family. I always forget how peaceful our pines are until I'm out among them and I feel soothed. Truly, the Jersey Pine Barrens are my favorite place. Once the drive was done, it was time for a birthday feast, culminating in home-made birthday cake. Mmmmm, cake. I will go nearly anwhere for cake, even to places where I am teased and ganged up on (see momolla's blog for pictures of the abuse that i suffer at the hands of my loved ones). After cake, it was time for a diner trip with my lady friends and a couple of Jim's dudes. We had a great time, but we stayed out too late and so today I am tired and confused. I've been trying to keep up with blogs, if my comments are incoherent or scattered, well, let's just call it charming, okay? Coherency is overrated.

Tomorrow is my biopsy, Jim is dropping me off early in the morning. He's not staying with me because it will be a longish wait, and they're putting me to sleep. The hospital folks will call once I'm awake and he can come get me and carry me out to the car (anything that puts you to sleep kicks my ass. i expect to spend all day tomorrow mostly asleep. or at least pretty out of it). There probably won't be any news for another week or two yet, I had to re-schedule the MRI, since it wasn't set up for contrast and we want contrast. Apparently, contrast is good. So we are still waiting and wondering and I'm still trying keep living my life and not be too freaked out. Knitting is helping with that quite a bit, as it gives me something to do. I like to keep my hands busy.

Work was hellish today and I find I'm all out of talk for the moment. I'll keep you all posted on the alien baby situation as things develop. Thanks, as always, for the love and support. It means more to me than I can say (though we all know that won't stop me from trying).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mental Health Day...

...because it's been a week straight of rolling out of bed, going to get some tests done and/or see a new doctor, going to work, coming home to make dinner, and going to bed so I can try to sleep before I repeat it all again the next day. I finally got to the point where I was literally worrying myself sick, and I decided I needed a mental health day to just assimilate everything and relax a little bit. I didn't have any doctors appointments or tests, and I called out of work. I feel kind of guilty, but I really, really needed a break. So, I spun and I knitted and I tried to have a normal day. And mostly, it worked.

I got to bring my very bestest friend up to speed on the whole situation today. Clearly, I haven't been hiding this or anything, but I just haven't really been able to call her in the last couple of days and she doesn't read the blog (she is so missing out!) so I called today and explained everything to her. Funny, but it's easier and easier to explain what's going on. I'm not sure if I'm still kind of in shock, or if I'm starting to come to terms with the many possibilities I'm facing. I've been dwelling on the less pleasant ones today, maybe because the nice nurse yesterday told me I'm too young for this. I don't feel young any more. The weirdest part of all of this is that I'm still not having any trouble breathing. I blame it on ten or fifteen years of playing an instrument. Even though I haven't seriously played in a while, my lungs were pretty developed for a while there. Even at diminshed capacity, they're still pretty good. Something else band was good for, I guess.

I've already thanked you all for the encouragement and the warm thoughts (and thanks for letting various family members and spouses know, the more people thinking good thoughts, the better) and the caring, but I'd like to again. Your humor and caring give me strength. Especially the humor (nothing beats the facebook conversation about which color of booties would work best for an alien baby. nothing.) I really, truly am surrounded by warm, wonderful women. Men, too, but the women tend to really stand out. And Jim has been every bit as supportive as could ask for. He shleps me around, he lets me rant when I need to and he understands when I need to be quiet. He also tries his hardest to make me laugh, and to let me know he's here. I am a lucky woman, to have such a network of love and support.

And while I'm gushing (sorry, took some benadryl hoping it'd help me sleep. not so much, but it makes blogging fun!) I should say that pretty much every medical-type person I've encountered has been warm, friendly and compassionate. Even the chiropractor's office has been awesome. They called me today to check in and see that I was being taken care of and that my doctors were working with me effectively. And just to make sure I was okay. And they'll keep checking in. Dude, that's amazing. I have never met so many complete strangers who actually care. I think this just supports my resolve to put more kindness out into the world, since so much has been sent my way by so many people.

The knitting continues apace, though at this point I don't think the mitts will actually be done for Monday, unless we have the slowest weekend ever at work. That is a strong possibility, but I don't really see it happening. Ah well, the cat was out of the bag, anyway, since apparently Dadumms reads the blog. I had no idea, or else I would've left out the mention of my homemade present. Now it's one more person I have to be sneaky about if I want to give presents out. And I'm so very bad at being sneaky!

Time for bed now, I can't skip work again tomorrow or they might kill me, sympathy or no. I hope everyone's weekend is warm and sunny and awesome.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Back at Square One...

...because I saw my pulmonologist today and he told me that at this stage, we can't really say that the thing (which is absolutely huge in 3-D. like, scary big. way scary big) is even probably benign. And now, we have a new worry. It might be eating my bones. Yup, the alien baby is possibly eating my bones. This is less likely, but apparently still a valid worry. You know what, guys? This sucks! I do not recommend harboring an alien baby in your lung, even if you are very bored with your life. For the record, it's a boy and I'm torn between Laslow and Mitford. Any thoughts?

Honestly, I am kind of scared out of my mind right now, because I'm back to the whole, "we have no idea what it is, don't worry too much but don't be too comfortable" thing. Momolla tells me that nothing has changed, and she's pretty much correct. But I had a little relief yesterday, knowing that however ginormous this thing may be (i saw the cat scan. at some parts, it looks to be about half the size of the lung cavity. i'm no pulmonologist, but that strikes me as probably not being very good) it was most likely not going to kill me. Now, I cannot say that with any confidence. Not to say I'm putting my affairs in order and signing off and whatnot, but once again I'm faced with the possiblity that they might come to me and tell me that it's time to take those steps. I'm trying to think positively and to be strong. Sometimes, it even works. And then sometimes it just hits me, like when I'm explaining to my boss that I might maybe be late to work a couple of times next week because I need to have another handful of acronym tests run (we're doing an mri and a pet scan now. also, a biopsy.) and that I'm sorry, but I can't help it and when he just looks at me and says that of course that's okay. The kindness and the worry somehow make it harder to deal with. The lung doctor was very up front with me, and not rattled, but definitely not relaxed about this. He told me that it'll be two or three weeks before we're even sure what this thing is and how it'll be best to remove it.

Right now, my future is entirely in the hands of other people. I can't stand that! I want to be able to do something, to yell and scream and handle this myself. And I can't. There is absolutely nothing I can do (though i'm considering my friend's offer of a hacksaw and a shop-vac) except wait and pray, as much as I ever do. So, I knit. I'm turning my handspun into a pair of fingerless mitts for my dad for his birthday. He wants something to keep his hands warm while he's in his woodworking shop, and I thought I'd oblige. The cool thing is that it'll kind of match the scarf Momolla made for him, since it's the same two types of wooll, though hers is much better spun. Eventually, I'll post a picture for you. I'm pretty much just making this up as I go, but it's mindless one by one ribbing so far which gives my anxious hand something to do in various waiting rooms. I've got my flyer issues mostly sorted out with the wheel, which is awesome, since I'll need to be making another batch of this yarn for the second mitt. Thankfully, I can spin much quicker than I can knit (finally, something i'm not the slowest person ever at!) so that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

That's all for tonight, I've got to take dinner out of the oven, life goes on. I just wanted to let you all know what's going on again. As always, your thoughts and concern are appreciated, they give me hope and strength. And, most importantly, they make me smile. I'm callling on all of you for charater witnesses if I have to go on Judge Judy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Alien Babies are Coming to Take us Away...

So, more tests were done today. I had a cat scan, which was quick, but less than fun. Naturally, because life is never easy, we went to the appointed hospital (jim has been to every appointment with me, he's amazing) and wouldn't you know it, they'd lost power earlier in the day and the one machine I needed was now broken. So, we headed to another hospital and I got to have my very first cat scan. And I had to confirm again that no, I am not pregnant. Yes, I am very sure. Certain, even. I'm thinking of making a sign for the next time I have to go for a test. The upside of having something the size of your hand hanging out on your lung is that you get medical appointments made with incredible speed (seriously, i have never had so many appointments scheduled so quickly. it's amazing). And when you explain to the very nice medical people, their eyes get really big and they are always extra nice to you like you're fragile or perhaps slightly crazed.

Basically, all they can tell me at this point is that the mass is "probably benign," which is not very reassuring. Better than probably malignant. But still not what I was hoping to hear. The very nice doctor lady also told me that "the mass doesn't seem to be impinging on the adjacent organ," which made me glad I have a decent vocabulary. So, now we do more tests to make sure my lungs and probably my heart are strong enough for a biopsy and then possibly (probably) surgery. The cool thing will be trying to schedule all of this around work because I have to work to pay for these cool tests. My insurance is kind of fun--it covers everything up to a certain dollar amount, then I cover everything up to a different amount. After that, we wait til we hit a third amount, when I pay twenty percent and they pay eighty. Up to, that is, still a different amount, where they pay everything on up. So, a little confusing, and most of what comes next will have to come out of pocket for me. That should be great, since we thought money was tight before.

Jim tells me not to worry about that part, that we can always put it on his credit card and then pay it off. But I have this horrible fantasy where we have some horrible breakup after the alien baby is removed and I can't pay him and he takes me to court and we end up talking to Judge Judy or Judge Alex or Judge Christina or Judge Joe Brown (all of them have shows, i swear. i watch this stuff at work) and I have to explain about the whole thing and I slip and call it an alien baby and Judge Whoever thinks I'm crazy and then I get hate mail from people who really did have an alien baby and it all gets worse and worse.

And I'm babbling again. Sorry, that's the stress talking. I've been trying to be calm, since there's really not much I can do about any of this except go and get more tests and wait to get the biopsy. This is a special type of hell for a type a personality like me. But such a big part of me just wants to know. I'm willing to take probably for now, but with my family history, I'm still scared. It wouldn't be so terrible if somebody would just tell me what this thing is and what to do about it. Eventually, it'll be removed (it hurts, i am all in favor of removal), and it should be done sooner rather than later.

And so, here we are, hurrying up to wait. I wanted to let you all know that I am doing as okay as can be expected, and that I very much appreciate the support and the love. It means a lot to me to know you all care. Honestly, I'm scared. But I'm reminding myself that this will be okay. And it seems that I picked my mantra at a good time, because more than ever I've had to remind myself that (all current evidence to the contrary :)) I am never broken. I'd apologize for worrying you all, but that would seem to imply that I'm sorry you care, and that is something I'm rather grateful for. I am truly blessed with an amazing support group, an utterly amazing group of friends. It's times like this when I really feel how far from home I am, and it's these very same times when I really appreciate the internet and phones. The thing that hurt the most when I first found out what was going on was feeling so stranded and isolated. Over the last couple of days, I've been reminded that I'm not alone, that there are people literally all over the world, who care enough to say so. That humbles me, and it gives me strength. Thank you all, you are in my prayers and thoughts as much as I am in yours.

I'll let you all know more as I do, and I'll try to keep rambling to a minimum next time. I'll also talk about something fun, like the knitting I'm doing with my very first handspun. It'll be a present for Dadumm's birthday soon, and it's something I'm doing without a pattern. You know that's a recipe for success!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Twins!

I proudly present to you my very first finished pair of socks! Yes, that's right, very first. There are many pairs in various stages of completion, but these, affectionately known as the Bribe Socks, are the first to cross the finish line. They are soft and snuggly and warm and I'd originally thought of giving them to one of my sisters, but then I put them on and was overcome by greed. I now cannot bear to be parted from them, as they have warmed my feet admirably. They are also the softest, warmest things I have ever put on my feet. They're made from Misti alpaca, the colorway isn't named so I can't recall it. The picture shows the mixes of colors fairly well, though.
What I like most about it, though, was the way to colors almost striped. You can see that ultimately, they pooled and had a kind of camoflage effect, but if you look closely, there are areas where two or three colors would alternate every row, especially on the heels. Pretty. And fun. I finished these Saturday night while watching the new version of Pride and Prejudice. I've come across a lovely head cold, and I just couldn't concentrate on the full version. Though, I might watch that today.

Momolla, Dadumms, my big sister El, and my cousin Cheryl came up to visit for dinner last night. Momolla brought her wheel, Cheryl brought her crochet, and El brought the mandalas she colors. We had a lovely meal of ham, homemade mac and cheese (my favorite! carbs and cheese, what's not to love), and cake with ice cream for dessert. Momolla inisisted on bringing supplies, since she said it would feel wrong to her to eat the food she just gifted us with (though, the whole point of inviting everyone up was to share. sharing is fun!). We chatted and relaxed before dinner, and after the food was done, retired to the living room to pursue our hobbies. Momolla and I spun and chatted with El and Cheryl while Jim showed our current obsession to Dadumms. Our friends gifted us with a household gift this past Christmas, which was Left 4 Dead, a video game. Specifically, a zombie-killing video game. The boys are pretty good at it, but Coll and I are abysmal. There are two different joysticks you have to use for moving, and I'm pretty bad at it. My character always spends a lot of time spinning around in circles staring at the ceiling. Fortunatly, there are other characters to help out. I think Dadumms got a kick out of slaying the zombies, and may perhaps end up buying the pc version of the game.

In health-related news, I saw my chiropractor today. There were some subtle clues that there would be a problem when I walked in. The very nice lady named Shannon who works behind the desk asked me for my general practitioner's name, and where he is, and what his phone number is. I figured, maybe they like having complete records. And then, she went to get the doctor right away. No waiting. Damn, another bad sign, especially since she referred to me by name, and he recognized my name. Sure enough, the very nice doctor man told me that while I'm a good candidate for chiropractic care, there are some other issues that should be addressed first. Namely, there's a big ol' thing right on or next to my right lung. Yup, it's just chilling there. Hanging out, if you will. Being chiropractors, they're not at all sure what it is, and there are several things, ranging from cyst to infection to cancer that will explain the thing the size of my hand that is living in my lung sac. The really friendly and helpful Shannon called a couple of local doctors for me and set up an appointment first thing tomorrow morning. There will be tests. And blood work. And all manner of other exciting medical things. It should be a fun-filled week. I've moved beyond panicked (he said i might need an oncologist. that's a cancer doctor. i know that word! scary!) to more amused.

No ordinary muscle-type pains for me, nosir! Here in Emville, things are never that easy. Naturally, I've got some sort of alien baby incubating next to my spine. Oh, speaking of which. If it is an alien baby-thing, you are all totally allowed to stop talking to me, I will completely understand. Alien babies are gross. Totally gross.

And that's all we have for you today, folks. Check back later in the week for updates to what Colleen and I are now referring to as the Alien Baby Saga. It'll be awesome!

Friday, February 13, 2009

I made that!

This is yarn! I made it. I'm so amazed by the whole process and that I was able to take a bunch of fluff and turn it into something usable and kind of cool. No pictures of finished yarn yet, there were some complications with today, so I was pretty much entirely unproductive. I did manage to motivate myself enough to take some pictures of my yarny goodness. I had already unwound it and skeined it and washed it and thwacked it.



I figured today would be a good day to share some pictures with you all. I apologize for the slightly babble-y feel of today's post, I'm a little drunk on meds. I woke up this morning with incredible, stabbing pain in my back. I normally have some back pain in this general area when I'm under stress, but this was just intolerable. I decided that just hoping it'd go away eventually was not an option and that I needed to find the cause of all this. I went to a see a very nice choripractor, who took some measurements and some x-rays and we'll talk about my options on Monday. Until then, I'm taking lots of over-the-counter pain meds and trying to distract myself. Thankfully, I didn't have work today, but I will have to deal with a long day tomorrow.

Momolla, Dadums, and probably my cousin Cheryl and my big sister El will be coming for dinner on Sunday. The back will be bearable by then, Momolla and I are planning on spinning. It should be a pleasant afternoon. Momolla insisted on providing the food for dinner, since Jim and I are, well, beyond poor. She also very generously donated an entire freezer full of meat to me and Jim when her old freezer died. We're set for the next month or two, easily. Momolla also sent Valentine's candy for us. Damn, she's awesome. I have meat and chocolate, so life is not all bad.

Here's the yarn in skeined form. It's not perfect or even or particularly amazing. But I made it with my own two hands, and I feel pretty accomplished looking at it. Plying (spinning the two singles i spun together) really evened it out. And thwacking it did a lot towards making it less ridiculously overspun. I'm still not sure quite what weight it is or how much of it I have (this is precisely why I need a scale), but I do have a project in mind for it, and for the rest of the batch of roving that I'm spinning now. This is coopworth wool, and it's been really easy and fun to work with. It's been really easy to handle and has helped me learn.

That's all for tonight from the land of Em. More pictures later in the week. I hope everyone enjoys the weekend.

Monday, February 2, 2009

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Optimism...

...gosh, I should know better than to blog when I'm sick! That was a little...much, no? I have been scared, and a little depressed, lately, but I've also been trying to focus on hope. We have made it through worse than this before, and we can make it through worse again if we have to. Thank you guys for your support, it means a lot to me to know that you're pulling for me.

There is one thing I'd like to keep from last post, one thing that actually still makes sense and resonates with me. The phrase "I am never broken," is going to be my mantra to get through this big ol' mess. I've thought about it, and I need something simple to remind myself, something to keep gritting my teeth and repeating as needed until I believe it. And, well, it applies. Life has handed me a few troubled times, and it's beaten me down a little. It's never yet broken me, though, and if I have it my way, it never will. I'm actually inspired by the whole song, but well, that takes a little longer to say, you know?

I'm still not feeling quite up to par, but this should be more coherent and less stream-of-consciousness. I've been able to keep food down for the first time in two days, though I'm still reallyreally dehydrated. I just wanted to address that last post, and let you all know that really, I'm mostly okay. I worry and wonder, but I do remind myself that there are still good things in my life, and that there are still people who have more problems and need more help than I do. So, back to focusing on the positive, and reminding myself that we'll be okay. And one more quick quote to round things out, since I'm still into lazy blogging. A real post sometime soon, I promise!

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

--Emily Dickinson