Saturday, June 30, 2007

Even shorter. He now has days. He was semi-conscious, sometimes hallucinating, sometimes very much with me. His liver is failing and the toxins are in his brain causing delusions. The family is gathering. I am shattered.

Friday, June 29, 2007

This will have to be short because I am worn out and my eyes have cried too many tears. He had tests done today and the news is even worse. His liver cancer has spread and he is not strong enough for chemo to help him. He will not get any motion back in his legs and therefore can't come home because he requires more care than is reasonable to expect. The oncologist (whom I like and think is very honest and straightforward) said to call the family in because he has just weeks left and we don't know how long he will be alert enough to know people. When I saw him yesterday he was more jaundiced and drifted in and out of conversation with me and a close friend. I am now going to be with him every day for as long as I can to the very end. I know his wishes, I have all the legal documents signed and now all I can do is watch my soul mate go onto the next stage without me. My grief is for the time we didn't have the chance to spend together, while I remember all the wonderful times we did have. Wildflowers in WA, holidays in Coffs Harbour, watching lyrebirds in Dorrigo, touring Williamsburg where he was plucked from the crowd to read Patrick Henry's speech to the Virginia Assembly, a family reunion on the last trip to the States. I can't imagine life without him, but it will go on. I am still knitting him a pair of socks.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Today we discovered that all of the Bear's medical records and test results have been lost somewhere in the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. And I paid for some of them! The drs here want to do a biopsy of his spinal mass but have none of the CT or MRI scans that were done here or there. We wait 48 hours and then must proceed without them. I also received a bill from the specialist who cared for the Bear while in the first hospital here. $900 for 5 days of coming in to say not very much adds up. In theory this will be paid for but only after I pay it; I will then be reimbursed for the expenses.

I rested yesterday, sleeping most of the day, and getting up to watch Grey's Anatomy and this was one of the first episodes in a long time that I was not in tears at the end. (To our northern hemisphere friends it was the episode where Meredith decides not to die and her mother does die). I try very hard not to read the websites because I don't want spoilers but sometimes I want to know what the music was and it's hard to avoid spoilers. This show may turn out to be one I buy on DVD.

The Bear was good today and actually brought up how we should manage things when he comes home which I consider an excellent sign. I brought him his laptop and he didn't race to plug it in. Because of the bizarre way the former owners of our house installed the kitchen cabinets there is an exceedingly small space at the end of the kitchen to the hallway to the bedrooms. Aside from demolishing the kitchen (a thought that had crossed my mind since it is difficult to get anything into the bedrooms), I plan on moving him into my bedroom and we can share a bed for the first time in 15 years. He was a world-class snorer until he finally went to a sleep clinic and got a CPAP machine which has made him almost silent. The machine can also double as my white noise machine. We now still sleep in different beds just because I have trouble sleeping in general (and he can fall asleep sitting in a chair) but we don't shut doors, hence the migrations of cats in the night. Whether I can share a bed with him AND the Imp remains to be seen. While she is small she can make herself spread out a lot. There is also the summer issue as both the Bear and the Imp generate a lot of heat and I cannot sleep if I get hot. Now that he has been diagnosed with reflux he needs his head elevated when sleeping just as I do. I really missed my soft and adjustable bed when in Sydney and I forget how unyielding a hard flat mattress is.

I got 3 fibery packages today: a box of cones of 8/2 cotton from Webs, some spinning fiber (merino and silk in grey and black superwash lamb, and my mystery fiber-swapper's gift of white alpaca, some Fleece Artist I want to treat carefully and Quarantine confiscated the herbal tea because it had dried apple in it but mysteriously the chocolate didn't make it through either and that isn't prohibited as far as I know. Hmm. I think somebody is eating my chocolate.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I talked to the bear this AM and he had a good night's sleep for the first time in ages and was hoping to get a shower. This is all good and he told me to get some more sleep so I will. I can be The Woman of Steel for only so long and then I need to recharge my batteries.

Some fibre content before I go back to sleep. This has been floating around the blogs.
The bold face is what I've done, the italics is what I plan on in the future and the rest is probably never going to happen:

Garter stitch

Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down

Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn

Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch pattern
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items

Knitting with your own hand-spun yarn
Graffiti knitting
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns

Publishing a knitting book
Participate in an exchange
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting

Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors

Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s hand-spun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting

Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
knitting art

Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener stitch
Knitted flowers
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Stuffed toys
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern

Knitting with linen

Knitting for preemies -
Tubular CO
Free-form knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/arm-warmers
Knitting a pattern from an on-line knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Some of the not intending is because
I intend weaving them. Before I took off on Thurs I spent 4 hours on Weds night production weaving to get as far enough along on my weaving to get to the twill at the other end of the item on the loom. This should have been easy but no eyes made it hard because one eye does not leave you with any depth perception.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sorry if I alarmed any of you be going silent for a few days. Things happened very quickly but have almost come round full circle from where I left off. Weds, night he suddenly started vomiting blood and the family assembled in Sydney became convinced he was dying and called me to come up immediately. I had planned on flying up on Fir and changed my (non-refundable) ticket to fly up Thurs. By that time he had been moved from oncology to gastroenterology. He was a bit dopey but still definitely alive. Long story short, he had severe acid reflux brought on by the pressure of the fluid in his belly pushing upwards and somebody making him lie flat. Thus bleeding. he had an endoscopy (the camera down your esophagus trick which I know well) and found he had severe acid reflux (as I do since it iis an FMS thingy). I was worried that he had varicose veins in his esophagus which can happen with liver disease but he doesn't. He was given something for the reflux, propped up in bed, and given a particularly vile medication that causes you to have continuous diarrhoea, as well as diuretics to pee away the fluid. Since then he has been excreting mightily to clean out his entire system; he is not happy with doing this but he doesn't get a dignity vote. The Dr said once he stabilized he could come home as soon as there was a bed available here. That turned out to be sooner rather than later so I hitched a ride in the ambulance (there goes another non-refundable ticket) and he is back in the same ward he left not so long ago. He is quite alert and is drinking well if not eating very much. The hospital's solution to saying he was hungry for the first time in day was to bring him a non-diabetic roast beef dinner. I was thinking along the lines of jelly (Jell-O) or something soft and bland or sandwiches. I had a very convenient and not very expensive hotel room, an Asian noodle house for dinner and a nice cafe where they learned to recognize me after one meal and were very friendly, keeping my plied with blueberry muffins and sandwiches. The NLA girls' club kept everyone informed and the cats minded, given I was only gone 2 days but it mattered a great deal to me not to worry about home. On Mon. I will get back in touch with the oncologist and see what's next. He did have 2 radiation treatments while he was in Sydney and whether it was that or the loss of the weight of the fluid, but his back hurts less and he could roll over for the nurses who were cleaning him up for transport without screams of pain. The oncology and liver specialists just thought the surgery too risky and that radiation and chemo will work more safely.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Bear: I was mistaken about some of my terminology in my previous post. The word I meant was hepatoma not hematoma. When cancer cells migrate to a different organ of the body they are still classified as the kind of cancer they started with. The Bear's cancer started in the liver so it is a hepatoma even tho it is now in his bones and lungs (which are the most common places it goes to next). There was a meeting of the lead oncologist (who is very much celebrated in his work there), a hepatologist (liver doctor) and The Bear yesterday and they decided to start radiation therapy on his back immediately. The drs are concerned about his ability to handle a major operation with liver and lungs not strong, so they are starting right away to attack the spinal tumor. Whether he has surgery has not been decided and we are going day by day on this. Unless something changes radically I plan to go up on the weekend to see him and get him to sign some rather important papers that he has been putting off. We have to go day by day since things and opinions change so quickly. He has family with him, but we both know there isn't a lot more I can do by sitting next to his bed while he sleeps. I am trying to make up some work time this week, altho I was graciously granted some "carer's leave" by my boss. I have a feeling I will need more of that so I don't want to abuse the privilege.

I think due to massive bouts of crying over the weekend I irritated my left eye to the extent that (according to my optometrist) has almost developed into an ulcer on my cornea. My lenses were full of gunk (protein deposits) and my eye hurts even without a lens. I am to leave the left lens out the rest of the week and, if I have time, let the optician polish the lenses back into shape. I have functioned one-eyed before and it's just something you have to adjust to. I still have my right eye which is corrected for distance vision, and reading glasses for close focus stuff. But one can hardly think coolly, "I have to cry hard, therefore I will take out my contact lenses first."

I actually have some fibre content as well today. I finally got time to pick up a parcel at the post office and it turned out to be the results of the breed sample program organized through one of the spinning lists. It has been so long ago that I submitted my samples of English Leicester that I had actually forgotten about it. The book is sensational; the organizer (whom I admit I can't remember) did a superior job at compiling the information and formatting it all beautifully and then there are all these baggies full of wool to play with. I am really blown away by this. If I didn't have other things at the front of my mind I would be dancing around the kitchen wallowing in wool.

Monday, June 18, 2007

OK, folks. The vote is in and it is to tell you what's going on. Apparently there are a lot of family and friends who do want to know and it will save me from writing 17 emails a day. Here's the story so far:

The Bear had cellulitis (an infection under the skin) in March and was in hospital for 5 days and on antibiotics after that. He never was himself once leaving hospital. His not very illuminating symptoms were lassitude, fatigue, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss because he wasn't eating much. Then he began to complain of back pain on top of the other. The second time he went to the GP about his cellulitis (which had not completely cleared up) I went with him and asked the dr about his back pain. The doctor ordered an ultrasound and an X-ray. Within hours of the ultrasound, the GP told us to go to emergency and admit himself. Waiting. Waiting. Finally admitted and finally after 4 hours we finally found out the results of the ultrasound: a tumor on his liver, nodules in his lungs and a growth on his 14th vertebra.

Unfortunately for us, It was a long weekend and no cytology staff were available to run tests on any blood or fluids (he has a large amount of fluid in his abdomen because his liver was not functioning. He was a heavy drinker but has quit completely 3 years ago. He smoked 25 years ago. Eventually it was decided to do am MRI which had to be done at the bigger Hospital in the south of Canberra. He was taken by ambulance because he could barely walk. I went with him. Another exam and history, waiting waiting, waiting. Eventually they decided to admit him there and the MRI was done that night.

The worry at this point is the growth on his spine. It is not totally clear whether it is a hematoma or cancer but some of the doctors are very worried that it could grow or shift and press on his spine. The neurologists believe they need to operate on it and find out what it is. The oncologists are worried about the effect surgery would have on his liver. There was no neurosurgeon in Canberra who could do spinal surgery at that level so he has been air ambulanced to Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital which everyone says is the best. I did not go with him because my own health has been taking a real pounding and I have been exhausted and in such pain that sleep is difficult to get. I have now missed 2 weeks of work and the worst is yet to come.

If he is scheduled for surgery I will go up to be there as he recovers. As soon he is healing and mobile, he will be sent back to Canberra for radiation and chemotherapy. So there it is folks, we know a little but not a lot and now the oncologists and neurosurgeons will battle it out for what happens next. Let it be a lesson to all that your past may still catch up to you. Although I know it won't work, tell your family and friends not to drink alcohol too much, that smoking is killing you (although I didn't listen either).

Once again I hope I can go to work tomorrow, but I didn't make it today. This was not the master plan. He was supposed to take care of me!

Friday, June 15, 2007

OK, readers. I have a dilemma. My husband has just been diagnosed with bad cancer. I have 3 options (in my mind, at least). I can go offline and the blog will become comatose. I can continue to post leaving my private life out of it, although I have gone into my medical problems in the past. I can tell you what is going on when I can but never in excruciating detail and I would never violate his privacy with anything really personal. I don't know who reads my blog except a few friends who email me. I know there are repeat visitors so somebody out in the blogosphere comes here for some reason. If you don't want to know what is going on in my life, I don't know how much I can post censoring out all the stuff that really is the centre of my life. Of course I keep knitting and spinning because they are coping mechanisms as well as hobbies, but let's face it, things in my life have just had a severe seismic shift and I can't hide that. Leave a comment or those that want to email

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Bear is resting in hospital as nothing can be done over the long weekend. Tues we will be the day for the major tests which will show what's going on, until them, he is being taken care of, fed, sleeps if he feels like it, and if his back flares up he gets a painkiller. I go and sit with him in the PM but yesterday I was falling asleep in my chair so I came home and slept for 3 hours in my bed. Today has been laundry day and all beds are changed. After lunch I will go in and knit some more.

Rounds 10 and 11: Bloody umpires and Cheer Cheer. That means one loss (by a point) and a win. I refer any footy fans who are interested to this site because I think the umpires are overly eager to apply this rule, especially around Barry Hall. I saw an umpire signal push-in-the-back against Bazza when he had not been behind his opponent, had not laid a finger on him, and gave him a perfectly legal hip-and-shoulder nudge. Anytime Bazza is going for a mark, if there is anybody within 10 meters who falls down, it must have been something illegal Bazza did. We have literally lost games based on this. Sorry for the rant but it really gets my goat. We are in 6th spot on the ladder with a very healthy percentage so I guess that's not too bad.

Book report: I have just started as BBBB Empires of the Word: a Language history of the world by Nicholas Ostler. It is basically Historical Linguistics 101, but so far I am pleased because it isn't as Euro-centric, or perhaps Indo-European-centric, as most of what I have read and been taught. It's nice to start with an in-depth study of the near east ca. 2500 B.C. and not just list languages but give words, maps, trade routes, etc. A degree in linguistics gave me Indo-European and an overview of African linguistics but the rest was mostly ignored. I hope this book addresses those missing bits, like South America and India.

More from my Amazon pipeline: Favorite Socks from Interweave which is probably duplicated by these patterns appearing in Interweave Knits which I have several years of, but they are all in one place and in a spiffy spiral binding. I will probably never knit the lace socks on the cover but there are some rib and cable ones that look intriguing. Having so much patterning sock yarn, forces you to knit plain patters because any pattern disappears in mock fair isle, but I have some suble colours now and some hand spun BFL that would look good dyed and knit into a cables
pattern. More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch is a real winner. Not only are there lots of my style of socks but some easy colourwork and the back section devoted to stitch patterns you can plug into an otherwise plain sock is just great. Size charts too so I can do a better stab at socks for Princess A. The Bear can have patterned socks instead of plain when I just have to pick a pattern that fits the size of this legs.

And finally No Sheep for You by Amy Singer. This is a book that just makes me want to say wow and please go buy it. The first section discusses non-animal cellusose fibre, like linen, bamboo, hemp, and then silk which behaves more like the bast fibers even though it isn't. I have only knit one item out of silk and while I cursed the stick-to-everything nature of tussah silk, the result was worth it. This patterns in the second half of the book are just super and I think with some care and judicious calculation, could be knit in wool. Like I adore the knee length silk coat but I already have a mortgage. I know I have real problems with cotton and the same would probably be true with linen, but given enough time to work a little each day on a small item, I could probably manage it. Not the Drunken Argyle--too fine a gauge and would take too long. I have some of most of these fibres except hemp and linen in the spinning stash and I have yarn in the knitting stash and this book is an inspiration to turn them into something nice.

I also have been naughty on the retail front with some weaving yarns coming from Webs for weaving yarns from there mill ends pages. 8/2 cotton and cotton chenille. My no new fibre vows didn't include weaving yarn. (fudge fudge)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Just a quick update for anyone who cares. I spent all afternoon at the hospital with the Bear waiting for results of any scans done. The doctor finally appeared at 5 PM and the news is not good. The Bear has severe liver problems that are still at this point unknown in origin. He will be spending the next few days having lots of tests done, but because it's a long weekend, no lab results will come back until Tues. He is not in as much pain but I noticed jaundice for the first time.

I got lots of knitting done, finishing one of his socks and casting on the second. This time I am reinforcing the toes not just with nylon thread (as well as nylon in the sock yarn) but also the reinforcing thread that came with the Jawoll sock yarn. I will attack his feet again tomorrow. Up early to go grocery shopping. The Imp just jumped into my lap, turning the caps lock on as she went over the keyboard.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I know this must be getting boring but it has happened again. The Bear is sick. I don't think he ever completely recovered from his last hospital stay and he has additional symptoms now including some alarming ones. So do not expect regular posts for a while. I do have time I could squeeze out to blog, but the situation puts a lot of stress on me and I do better to keep from going completely mental by keeping busy, even if that means cleaning the microwave. He will see our GP on Friday and I'll feel better when we do that.

The only fibery news is that I pounced in the moment of weakness and got approval to take the next term's weaving course so there will be a whole 2 Weds off between the end of this course and the start of the next one. I nearly drove myself round the bend threading a pointed twill warp last week and gave up with about 2 ends to go because my brain was refusing the make any sense of what I was doing. The other beginning weavers are doing stripes and I have to go in for twill samples. Why was I so dim to realize that this is hard? I'm not supposed to drive at night but I am because I think my car could drive that route without anyone behind the wheel since it's 3/4 of the way to work. Next term is block weaves: summer and winter, M's and O's, etc. These 2 will give me a good foundation to take off on my own.