13 — Christmas, Crocheting and Cooking!

December 11 — Treatment day.  This is number 9 of twelve.  We are on the downswing end of this.  I’m not sure why, but I seem to get a little uptight about treatments lately.  It’s not a strong feeling, but I seem to notice some anxiety as we are headed to the Cancer Center.  Probably all just in my head, but I am so ready to be done!

Today I took 14 hats with me.  I was so excited to drop so many of them off!  I had another friend that had volunteered to make some back in October when she found out what I was doing.  Her husband plays softball with mine and she heard me talking about it at the Senior Games and asked if she could help.  Well… of course I said yes!  She is a VERY good crocheter!  She makes up or changes patterns as she goes if she doesn’t like them.  Wish I could do that!

I loved the hats she made!  They were so fun.  I recognized a few of the patterns and then discovered that she had purchased the same book I had, ‘Chemo Caps and Wraps’.  Her hats were so cute that I honestly had to keep a couple.  I know.  I’m being selfish!  I’ve just gotten so I prefer to wear hats as much as possible.  They are much more comfortable than the other choices!  Don’t worry…. I will make up for the ones I’ve kept by making more myself.

Now let me clarify….. it’s not like I’m keeping the ‘cute’ hats and turning in the rest.  I’ve turned in some very cute hats!  Many I wish I had….. but it’s OK!  I love sharing them with others!

Again… one of the joys I get from this is when there is a patient at the clinic while I am there that wants one of the hats and I’m able to let them pick from the stash before they get put out.  It’s always fun to have that happen.  It really lets me know what I am doing is appreciated.  That is…. me AND my friends that are helping.  Total turned in after today is 80!  We are getting close!

My treatment went OK.  I did have a little small bout with a little chills and fever, despite taking the Tylenol.  It didn’t last long.  I didn’t feel great that night, but by morning I seemed fine.

December 12 — Back for the Neulasta shot.  While I’m grateful that those are helping…. I’m wondering if I am starting to feel the bone pain that can be associated with it.  I have a friend who when through this several years ago and he told me the bone pain he had after the shots was horrible.  Nothing seemed to help.  Since that time they have discovered that Claritin seems to help with the pain.  They don’t know why, but it seems to work.  So far I haven’t taken any.  Just one more ‘drug’ to take.  I think my supplements have helped in that area.  I do think, however, that I’m starting to notice it more.  It’s not unbearable, just annoying and uncomfortable.  Perhaps next round I’ll take the Claritin to see if it helps.  I guess my bones are getting tired of being forced to make white blood cells!

After we got home from getting my shot and running some errands, my husband proceeds to tell me a few hours later that perhaps we should go to the ER.  He didn’t want to alarm me, but he had been having chest pains for the last several days and decided that it was time to get it checked out!  HELLO!  I shouldn’t complain…. at least he finally said something!

So….. after getting back from IMC in Murray, we headed back there again.  Even though there is a hospital closer by us here in Riverton, we felt like it would be best to go there in case there was problem with his heart.  It is the new big hospital in town with all the right stuff.

Luckily, everything checked out OK.  We were there for about 6 hours while they ran several tests on him.  The only thing they discovered was that he had Bronchitis.  OH….. and the fact that his blood pressure was sky high!  I’m sure the bronchitis was playing into that, but it is a problem he has that needs to be addressed.  We are both such stinkers about taking prescription medications.  We both prefer to handle things more naturally.  We’ll see if we can control it that way or not.  He may have to give in to drugs.  I DO want him around for a while!

The next few days were spent working on Christmas and Birthday gifts.  I’m putting the hats on hold for a week or two while I make some Christmas gifts.  I wish everyone I was giving gifts to wore hats!  It would be much easier!  I’ve gotten to be a pro at those and most of them whip up pretty fast.  But, since they don’t wear hats…. I’m resorting to creating other things with a crochet hook!  Once again, a learning experience!  I didn’t realize that you could develop callouses from crocheting however!  That just shows how much I’ve been doing!

I’ve realized that crocheting is much more relaxing when I don’t have a deadline to meet.  Hats just get done when they get done…. but Christmas does have a date/deadline on it!  I know I should have started much earlier on the gifts, but I just kept plugging away at the hats.  Someday I’ll learn!

I’m still surprised at how much energy it takes me to go do some shopping.  And I still have some to do.  I hate shopping for Christmas at the last minute, but it seems to happen every year.  This year it’s more of a “do I have the energy to go” thing.  But it will all be fine.

We have two big birthdays in our family this week.  Both my son Nate and my other son’s girlfriend Ali turn 3o this month.  It’s hard to believe that my baby is 30!  Yikes!  My daughter decided that we needed to have a little party for them.  Luckily, Jon and Ali wanted to have it at their new house, which worked our great for us because that way I didn’t have to clean!  Though my house needs it terribly!  That’s another thing I haven’t had energy for…. putting up my Christmas in the basement!  Not that I have a lot down there, but it’s just not up this year.  We don’t get down there much and I’m sure the kids will forgive me if it’s not out.  I guess I should just be grateful that I got the upstairs done!  All things in time.

The party was nice.  We didn’t get the turn out we expected or hoped for, but it was nice.  Not surprising for this time of year.  At least the two families (Ali’s and Nate’s) were all together.  I had made some cheese balls for the party.  I attempted to make another treat to bring, but got distracted working on the ‘crust’ and let the contents burn on the stove!  Oh well…..  we’ll just buy more of the ingredients and make it again.  The crusts will be fine till then.

One of the side effects that I am starting to get is a few sores on my feet.  Mostly my left foot.  It doesn’t excite me at all.  I guess it’s from the small amount of Neuropathy I have.  It’s mostly in my toes, but I can feel it in my heels once and a while too.  I’m getting a sore on the left side of my left foot and it’s making it hard to wear shoes and also to walk in them.  It’s a side effect that should go away when I’m done, but it’s a pain in the butt right now!  Little sores popping up in places I don’t like!  And of course, the doctors response is…. it’s an inconvenience…. but we are going for a complete cure here!  Aaahhh!  Not what I want to hear.   Not going to lie……I still want to skip the last two treatments.  (As a side note update…. I cleared the sores up on my feet by putting Aquafore on them and then covering them up with socks before I went to bed)

I hate that I feel like I don’t bounce back like I was before.  I still feel ‘yucky’ for several days.  It seems to hit the worse when I feel like I have things to do.  Which is most of the time, of course.  I just get frustrated not feeling good.  I have to say though…. with the stuff going around and the fact that John has had bronchitis…. I think my body is doing amazingly well fighting things off for the most part.  Again…. I can only contribute that to my supplements.

December 18 — John’s sister came up with a great idea for Christmas.  John is the oldest of 12 children and his sister thought it might be fun to do a 12 days of Christmas thing for his Mom and Dad.  So she figured out a schedule for each of the twelve children to come and bring dinner to the folks as a Christmas gift.  Today is our day.  His Mom is not a meat lover.  And not because she is a ‘vegan’…. it’s because she can’t stand the thought of creatures being killed to be eaten.  She’s funny.

Anyway…. our day was the 5 Day of Christmas so I had to come up with a 5 Golden Rings idea.  There were many thoughts I had and several ideas from friends on Facebook, but I went with the Soup in a Bread bowl idea.  I made a meatless soup so she would eat it.  It turned out pretty good.  I was hoping to find a time when all my kids could come join us so they would get a chance to see them but it didn’t work out that way.  Nate was the only one who could make it and that’s OK.  It just happened to be his birthday, so it was nice to feed him lunch.

We stayed and visited with the folks for a few hours.  I brought my crocheting to work on while I was there.  I have too many gifts I’m trying to complete to not use my time when I can.  I was more relaxed with the visit by being able to do that.  It wasn’t a project that needed a ton of concentration, so I could still easily visit while working.

On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to get a sneak peak of Les Miserable, the new movie being released on Christmas day.  Because of my occasional affiliation with Hale Center Theater, we lucked into some tickets.  Holy Cow!  It was SO good.  It was awesome to be there with a room full of theater people.  I don’t think you could have asked for a better preview audience.  I won’t go into a big commentary on the movie here but I will say DON’T MISS IT!  Especially if you love the book or the musical at all.

That night I had scheduled a performance with my friends to sing for my Mom’s Assisted Living place.  Unfortunately, that’s about the only time we perform anymore!  I’m sure we could do a few more things if we promoted ourselves…. but we don’t!  We used to be really busy singing at Christmas time.  I miss it.  Even though it took up a lot of time….. I love singing and especially performing with my friends.  Not to sound conceited…. but we really are pretty darn good.  We’ve been singing together for over 30 years now, and even though some might consider us to be ‘old’…. we still sound good.  And the people at the Assisted Living place loved us.  Even though we don’t get paid to do it, it brings a lot of joy to us to know we are making other people happy.

I was pretty beat by the end of the night.  I’m sure my sisters wonder how I can do that and yet still not make it out to help with Mom more.  And I should…. even though I don’t feel great most of the time, but sometimes you just do things because you have to.  I was glad I made it through because I really hadn’t been feeling well the last few days.  Maybe it’s just the idea of singing that perks me up!  I love my friends and LOVE to sing with them!

Thursday I spent the day working on crochet projects.  Even though I knew I had shopping I needed to get done, I was too tired to get out and get it done.  At least I was able to use my time working on Christmas gifts.

We decided a couple of years ago to draw names for our family for Christmas gifts.   Instead of spending a lot of money on each other, we only buy for one person and then donate money for us to do a Sub for Santa type project.  It’s been a fun thing and makes Christmas shopping for each other a much easier task!

Despite that decision…. I just wanted to crochet a little something for everyone in the family since that’s what I’ve been doing lately!  Now I wish I could say I made the all a hat, but I don’t think most of them would wear one, so I’ve had to come up with another project.  Hopefully they’ll like what they get!  It’s the thought that counts, right?

Friday, John and I went and did the shopping.  Other than gifts for our parents, we are done now.  We always wait too long to get our Dutch treats.  They are out of things by the time we get there.  Someday I’ll learn to do that in November!  John was born in Holland, so we have always tried to incorporate a little of the Dutch Christmas tradition for Christmas day.  Technically, it should be done much earlier in the month, but we do it for Christmas day.  Even though the kids are grown up, we like to get the Dutch treats.  Their favorite is the Speculata (Windmill) cookies.  If you’ve ever tried the Cookie butter from Trader Joe’s you’ll know the flavor I’m talking about.   When they kids were little, we would only get one box to share for the family.  Now they are all grown, I have to buy each of them a box to take home!  That’s OK though… that way John and I get our own box.

After a couple of other stops to finish our shopping, we came home.  Again….. I was beat!  I hate getting tired so easy!  I had to nap for a while.  We were meeting all the kids for dinner to celebrate birthdays as a family.  We’ve always tried to go do dinner as a family for birthdays.  For some reason, like the busy holiday season….. it’s harder to find that time in December!  We also decided to combine dinner night with our annual Christmas Craft night.  We are trying to make some new traditions for our family, and that is one of them.  We’ve had some fun evenings making Christmas treats as a family.

However…..with not a lot of time after dinner, it couldn’t be a very time consuming project this year.  So I decided to stick with making some things out of Rice Krispy treats.  Unfortunately, we haven’t made them in a while and I insisted the recipe should have more butter in it than what the recipe was calling for.  Maybe that was why they weren’t sticking together so well?  Oh well…..  at least I knew I could send home the failures to be eaten by the family!  At least the time was spent together, and that’s what it’s all about anyway.

The other day, while watching Dr. Oz, Dr. Laura Berman was on there talking about dealing with being diagnosed with breast cancer.  Part of what she said was that we should learn to be comfortable with our ‘bald’ heads.  They showed a beautiful picture of her without hair.  My daughter and niece have been trying to talk me into doing a photo session without my hair.  My niece is a photographer and wants to do it for me.  I have VERY mixed emotions about it.  Some days I feel pretty that way, but most days I don’t.  I also am not completely bald.  We never cut my hair completely off and it has been growing a little.  I think it’s because of the hair loss product I use on it.  But it doesn’t look great and it’s at different lengths.  It’s definitely NOT a full head of hair coming in…. it’s still very thin right now.  I just don’t think hair like that would photograph very pretty!  I guess I could let my niece ‘even’ it out since she’s a beautician as well as a photographer.  But then there’s the other annoying issue I have…..

That annoying side effect is my skin!  For some reason, most of the time during my treatment phase…. my skin looks pretty good, but then it breaks out with these big sores on my face and neck and chest area.  It seems to happen about 5 or 6 days before it’s time for my next treatment.  I don’t get it.  You’d think that would happen closer to when I just HAD the treatment….. not towards the end.  I should be feeling good by that time!  Crazy!  The only thing I can figure is that it’s taking that much time for some of the toxins to release from my body and it’s choosing my face as the culprit to get out!  Not fun….. or pretty!  And definitely not when I would want to be photographed!

Saturday and Sunday were spent trying to get Christmas projects finished.  Next year, if I do homemade gifts, I need to start a LOT earlier so I don’t get stressed out about it!  The frustrating part was running out of yarn to finish 3 projects I was trying to get done for my kids!  So on Monday…. as much as I didn’t want to get out at all…. I had to run to the store and try and find more yarn.  Plus I realized there were a few things I needed to be able to make the Cheesy Potatoes I had planned for Christmas dinner, so I needed to go shopping anyway.  I was able to find more yarn for the project for the boys, but I couldn’t find anything for Mandy’s.  I ran out of yarn a row and a half too early on hers.  The frustrating part was I had made them a a little longer than the pattern called for, so I would have had enough if I’d done them as specified!

After getting back from shopping,  I spent a good deal of the day trying to finish them up.  The funny thing was that Nate came over fairly early since it was Christmas Eve, and I was working on them while he was sitting right next to me.  He didn’t ask any questions, however, since I think my kids are all used to seeing me crochet a lot!

Mandy and Nate decided they were hungry and didn’t like the options available at home, so they ordered a pizza.  We were headed out to spend the evening with my Mom like we have been doing the last several years for Christmas Eve.   Since we weren’t going to be there during dinner time this year and wouldn’t be buying dinner to take in…… we gave into the pizza option for lunch.

Later that night, we headed out to Bountiful to see Mom.  Jon and Ali would not be joining us till around 8pm.  It had started snowing earlier in the day, so the roads were a little slippery in places, but we made it fine.  I had Nate bring his guitar out with him so we could sing some carols to Mom.  But first, we always look through her memory books she has there.  The most important one we look at is the Christmas one the family put together for her several years ago.

One of the big traditions we used to have as a family was a huge Christmas Eve gathering.  Everyone in the family….. and I mean everyone (with the exception of one brother who lives out of state, and even he came on occasion) would come to Mom and Dad’s for Christmas Eve.  We would have a big dinner and then gather in the living room.  The smaller kids would dress up in towels and scarfs and whatever else we could come up with and act out the Nativity story.  Then we would sit and visit in anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus.  Trying to keep all the little ones occupied during that time was always fun!

The big guy would finally make his appearance and give each of the kids a toy from his bag.  There was lots of singing and picture taking and later an exchanging of gifts between the cousins.  Then of course, it was off to our own homes so we could get to bed and wake to see what Santa had brought their the next morning.  It was all so glorious and went on for years and years until Mom and Dad decided they were too old to do it anymore and the nieces and nephews started having their own families and other places to be.  It was a heart wrenching time giving up that tradition!  I still have a hard time with it an so do my kids.  We don’t have any little ones in our family and they add so much to Christmas!

So…. going visit my Mom on Christmas Eve in the care center has become our Christmas Eve tradition for our family.  Since we are the only ones without grand kids and haven’t started our own Christmas Eve thing, we still go see her.  We look through that wonderful Christmas memory book and reminisce and laugh.  Then we sing Christmas Carols to her.  She absolutely loved it!  She had no idea it was as late as it was when we left.  Two aides came in while we were there to see if she needed anything.  She told them no, she was fine and was just loving our visit.  Finally around 9:45pm I told her she might want to call the aid back in to get her to bed.  She usually goes to bed around 10pm.  So we packed up our stuff and told her good night.  (She still talks about it every time I call her).  It was a good night.

On the way home, we stopped at Jon and Ali’s since they live further north than we do.  We had brought our two dogs with us to see my Mom, so we had four dogs at Jon and Ali’s.  Jon (or I should say, Patti, their Dachshund) kept us entertained for a while.  She loves to chase a little red laser light.  Anything sparkly she loves to chase, but particularly that light.  Jon discovered that if he shows the light out the window onto the snow, she would chase it through the snow.  It was hilarious to watch her burrow herself down in the snow trying to find it.  Even when he shut the light off she’d still look for it in the snow.  Funny stuff.  I told him he needed to get that on video somehow and put it on Youtube.  It’s a little harder to film at night…. but it would be fun to try.

Even though it was late, we played a fast moving card game a couple of times.  It was fun.  Can’t remember the name of it, but it was fun.  By then, I was pretty tired.  We came home and went to bed.  Well…. John and I did.  Nate was sleeping over (after encouragement from me and his car being covered in snow that he didn’t want to clean off).  So he and Mandy took the Apple TV downstairs and stayed up and watched movies till who knows when!

Christmas morning, I got up about 8 am.  After a few minutes on the computer, I started getting things ready for breakfast.  Ali and Jon were coming over around 10 am.  I made the batter for some yummy Pumpkin pancakes and then while I was in the make a mess of the kitchen mode, we put together the Cheesy Potato Casserole so all we would have to do was put it in the oven later that day.  Just as we finished that up, Jon and Ali got here.  She had brought over a nice addition for breakfast.  It was some kind of bake that used Pillsbury crescent rolls that were stuffed with sausage and cream cheese.  It was really good and a nice addition to the pancakes.

We then started our Christmas giving.  We always start with the stockings and Dutch treats.  My crochet project for each of them were in their stockings.  I made each of them a pair of Wristers or fingerless mittens.  Since everyone is on their phones so much, it allows them the use of the fingers without taking off gloves.  Since Mandy’s weren’t finished because of the yarn issue…. her’s had a note on them explaining all that.  (I did however, spend part of the afternoon later pulling out what I had done and started over making them shorter.  This time I barely had enough yarn, but was able to complete them).

We then went onto our gift exchange.  Since we draw names, we each only had one gift to open.  We decided to do this last year so that we could each afford to put in some money for us to help someone in need.  That’s the best part of Christmas for me.  Jon and Nate had John and I and they gave us certificates to the Anniversary Inn.  I was pretty excited.  We’ve never been there and hardly ever do anything nice for ourselves.  It will be nice to have a romantic evening/night together.

After a relaxing afternoon…. we had our Christmas dinner.  Later that evening, we went and spent some time with John’s folks.  I was very tired by the time we got home!  It was off to bed for me since the next day was treatment day.

Wednesday, December 26.  Yep…. treatment day.  Since the doc wasn’t coming in till later, they started me on my treatment and then took me back into a room after he got there.  They just rolled my IV cart in with me so I could keep the treatment going while talking to him.

I didn’t have too may concerns this time other than still trying to talk him out of the last two treatments.  He wouldn’t hear of it.  He said, “You don’t want to go through this again, so let’s just make sure we got it all now”.  And he’s right…. I don’t want to do it again!  So we scheduled my last two treatments while I was there.

My session went fine and thanks to my good friend, Diane Adams…. we had some hats to turn in!  I’ve been so busy with my Christmas projects that I only brought one hat with me!  But Diane had 10!  I was thrilled!  It’s become a habit to leave 10 or so hats every time and I was going to be sad only leaving one!  But Diane came through for me!

Diane comes with her daughter in law, Becky, who is being treated for colon cancer.  Our treatment days just happened to be the same days so I would see her when I was there and she would bring me her hats then.  Becky gets to go back in on Friday and RING THE BELL!  I’m so excited for her, but sad that I won’t be running into them at the center anymore!

My treatment days are being moved to Wednesdays for the last few.  I was hoping to get back to a Tuesday schedule, but the insurance company won’t let you go any sooner than 14 days apart, so we had to wait a day since today’s treatment was pushed to Wednesday because of Christmas.  But that’s OK!  I’ll survive!  I am on a count down now of knowing I’ll be ringing the bell myself on Jan 23rd!  Pretty sure I’ll being doing a little dance with that too!

As far as the treatment went…. even though I’m taking Tylenol, I seem to not be able to fight off that little bout with chills and fever.  The fever doesn’t get as high as it used to, but it’s still there!  Despite it all… I still woke up with wet sheets and clothes.  But now that it’s gone, I’m feeling much better.

If things go as they have in the past…. I’ll feel pretty good till Sat. or Sun. and then just start feeling ‘yuck’ again.  But I can get through this!  I only have to do it 2 more times after this!  I’m ecstatic being this close to the end.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that your New Year will be a great one.  I’m personally looking forward to a much better year next year!

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