Wednesday, December 24, 2008

To All of You

I just wanted to wish all of you the best and merriest of holidays - whichever form you choose to celebrate - and a new year filled with all the good things that were missing from the old. May you prosper, laugh, love, and grow; may your new year be free from whatever ills and woes befell you through the old; may the good far outweigh the bad.

And to all, a good night ...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hey Baby, Let the Good Times Roll...

... but it doesn't look like they're going to roll any time soon.

As I type, there sits in my garage a brand-new, purple/blue Harley with gleaming chrome, a deep throaty engine, and a seat big enough to fit my big ass. But can I take it out and play with it? Can I practice on it, learning how to balance? Can I polish it with a diaper? Nope. Why? Because I have more news for you, really bad news... and this time, it's me.

We'll wait on that little tidbit, though. This house is so fucking small that I can't even go into the garage and walk around Buffalo Goddess (that's her name, the purple/blue shiny death machine). I had to tilt her up just to get by her and out of the garage. You try tilting up a 700-lb. bike by one handgrip and see how simple it is.

I can tell this is going to be a disjointed post, so please forgive me. I have a lot to say, so I'll try to say it as succinctly as possible. Please bear with me.

First of all, the answer to the SP13 questions are... no, I'm not doing any holiday knitting. That sort of takes care of the second part of the question. There just isn't anybody in my family who would like something like that other than Grandma, and I just don't have the energy or time. I am making a few things for two friends, but they'll be mailed after Christmas. WAY after Christmas.

Let's move on to news about Mom. The surgeon came out to talk to me and Hubster and told us that everything looked good, that he didn't see any errant cells, that he sent out 25 specimens just to be sure, and that he thinks Mom is out of the woods. We should find out the lab results next week, so that will finalize everything. We're all so relieved. This is the best Christmas gift we could have received. She isn't in any real pain - just some soreness - so she's out and about driving and doing stuff (no lifting, though). I have to take her to UCSF on the 9th, so our moving date will be pushed back a few days. Not a problem - we still haven't begun to pack.

Speaking of packing, we hired a mover who gave us a really good price. If our estimated weight goes over what he guessed, we don't pay any additional money. If it's below what he estimated, we get money back. We both liked him, and his bid came in $300 cheaper than the other estimate. Now I just have to call and get the bike scheduled for pick-up.

Right now, we're trying to work out all the logistics. The dates are funky, since the day we want to be there is on a Sunday. I think we're going to have to rent a cabin for two nights, dash to the realtors on Monday to get the key (that's the day the movers are coming), and go home (I love the sound of that) to await the arrival of our possessions. We're leaving the day after Mom goes to San Francisco, so that means a tiring weekend. A lot of stuff is going with us in the truck, things like pottery and anything else which is breakable. I'm not taking all the stuff which could break - there's far too much of that - but the antique stuff isn't going with anybody but us. I don't know what to do about Emma. We'll have to figure that one out. Then we turn around the following week and come back up here for two doctor appointments. That's the last time, though. Why two? In a minute, my dears.

My class for learning how to ride the bike was a huge flop in more ways than one. The first two class sessions went really well. My range riding on Saturday went pretty well (I was scared and tense, so that affected things... then I relaxed and it all fell into place) until we reached the last exercise of the day. I was in the lead and was told to do a California stop at two cones placed in the middle of the range; then I had to ride diagonally to the opposite corner, turn slowly in a tight little turn, and stop when my bike was facing forward in preparation for a fast run and even faster stop at the end of the line. No problem, right?

Big problem.

Everything went fine until I turned the bike around at the corner. Then I don't know what happened. I panicked and was suddenly flapping like a sheet drying in the breeze, hanging on to the handlebars for dear life. At some point, I must have opened the throttle because I was going about 40 mph when I finally went down. The bike fell on top of me (covering me from hip to toe), dragging me along the ground for about 30 feet, and my leg got tangled up in the rear wheel. What was even more unfortunate is that my upper body went in the opposite direction of my lower body, so I wrenched my back. When it was all over, I just laid there on the asphalt until the instructors came running. They wanted to call an ambulance (apparently, I flipped over the handlebars and made quite a spectacular scene), but I told them I was fine. My clothing wasn't even ripped (now I know why they're so damned expensive - they save your skin). The instructors asked me if I was done for the day (duh), so I limped over to a chair to watch everyone else do their exercises. One other gal dumped her bike earlier in the day, but she went on riding. She took a chunk out of her chin and had considerable road rash (she didn't have on riding gear), but she didn't hurt her back. Then they told me I couldn't ride on Sunday, so not to even bother showing up. I did, however, go to the classroom after the day's fun and games to finish up the classroom portion of the class. That way, I wouldn't have to repeat all that. However, I kept falling asleep in class (I finally had to take my meds around noon because I felt so lousy), and they had kicked in. I was taken out of class by the instructors and told that they wanted Hubster to come to the final class on Monday night because they were worried that something bad would happen to me (yeah, listening to what Hubster had to say about all that all the way home was the worst thing that would happen). I kept trying to tell them I was fine, but no go. So I pretty much said okey dokey and didn't go to class on Monday. It was too bad, too - one of the students was the West Coast rep for H-D (he was in town from Wisconsin) and was taking everyone out to dinner. I just couldn't sit there watching everyone else graduating and getting their certificates. It all turned out okay, though - I could barely move for a few days. So now I've got the Iron Horse in the box called a garage just waiting for me to play with it. Today is one of the few sunny days this week, so I was really hoping to take it out and begin playing with it. Oh well - everything happens for a reason.

Now for the bad stuff.

You all know that I've been really, really tired of late. I figured I was out of remission (which I may well be), but I wasn't quite prepared for what just happened. When I went to the prison last Monday, I was given the paper for my annual TB test (when you get your badge renewed, that's one of the things you have to submit). I called my doctor when we got home Monday afternoon and made an appointment for Tuesday. Carol (one of his nurses) shot me up with the stuff they use and told me to come back Friday morning. Around Wednesday night, I began looking at the thing. It was raised and hard, as well as bright red. Hubster did some research and found that the color has nothing to do with it - it was the raised and hard part they were concerned with. It didn't get any smaller on Thursday, but when I went in on Friday, I fully expected it to be okay. Wrong.

The diameter of the thing was way over acceptable guidelines.

The doctor immediately sent me over to the hospital for a chest X-ray (that's how they find out if you have it or not). After the X-ray, the technician told me to wait in the waiting room while the radiologist read the film. About five minutes later, he came back out and told me that the film was normal. Whew.


"Normal" means that I don't have infectious TB. I can't make people sick by being around them. However (and make no mistake about this)...

I have TB.

Are you shitting me? Of all the stupid diseases I had to get next - that one?

The doctor figures I got it at the prison, and I think he's right. It's highly infectious, so all you have to do is walk through the air right after someone who's infected coughs. Normally, your immune system does it's thing and fights it off, but since we all know what kind of a dandy immune system I have... well... I didn't. Apparently, I have just enough of one left to keep me from becoming infectious - at the moment. The doctor told me that had I waited a couple of weeks, I would have been infectious. That would have meant I'd have been thrown into the hospital immediately, which would mean no move. Period. Hubster was joking and calling me Typhoid Pam. He found it funny. I didn't. This shit is in my lungs, and I'm beginning to cough. So get this: I have to take antibiotics for SIX months along with vitamin B-6 (the antibiotic wipes out all your B-6). Not only that, I have to have a blood test now and every three months after that. This is really serious. I'm really, really sick. Today, I can barely walk and everything is spinning around me. I'm supposed to rest as much as possible and not put myself in a stressful situation - things like that exacerbate the disease. I'm moving - that ranks right up there with death and divorce on the high stress meter. I also get sick from antibiotics, so I don't know how much of the shit I'm feeling today is from which corner. This could also be why I dumped the bike - it affects your balance. I asked the doc if I could still ride, and he told me yes - as long as I just practiced and made sure I rested well before I undertook any fun and games. (insert very heavy sigh here) I just looked at my arm, and the damn thing is still there, large and hard and telling me that I'm fucked. Merry Fucking Christmas. I don't even get to open anything from Hubster on Christmas Day because we're moving and I've got a new bike. Now I'm wondering if I should have waited on the bike. Probably. But it makes me happy just to see it, so maybe I'll be able to ride it soon. I hope so. Please realize that I'm NOT infectious - you can't get the disease from talking to me, or touching me, or even being around me if I cough. I don't need to be isolated from anybody. I can work on the shop. I can mail things to you. You are perfectly safe around me (unless you decide to ride on the bike with me). I'm NOT going to get you sick.

So there it is. That's all the fun stuff I can think of to tell you. After I proof and post this, it's back to the chair. I have a long list of things I can and can't eat, so we're having fish and chips tonight. I'm supposed to eat protein, but a portion no larger than a deck of cards. Are you shitting me? I can stick that much up my nose.

Sometimes, I hate being me.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm Totally Overwhelmed

I want to thank each and every one of you who left me comments and/or sent letters, both for my not being well and for sending prayers and hugs and good thoughts for Mom. I know that I'm remiss in answering all your emails, but I'm so overwhelmed with things that I can't get caught up. I'll get to them, but it may not be for a few days.

Anyway, I thought I'd let you all know what's going on.

Mom's doctor called and informed her that she's having surgery on Monday. Of course, I'll be at the prison, so we're leaving from there and hightailing it to the hospital. I want to talk to the doctor because I know that if it's bad news, she may not tell me the full extent. I also want to see her, to make sure that she's still with us. Because of the fast surgery time, I had to take her over to San Mateo (across San Francisco Bay) for an MRI. She saw her doctor again yesterday and will see her GP today. I tried to joke around with her, argue with her, anything to keep her mind off what's looming in the immediate future, but she's scared. It's the first time in my life that I've seen her frightened and vulnerable.

Of course, I'm not only contending with all that. I started my motorcycle class last night. Out of a class of 10, there are three women, none of us ever having ridden before. Trying to study the material is difficult. I ride all weekend, so I'm hoping there's some stress release there. On Monday, after going to the prison and the hospital, I go for my last class. Of course, that's the one where I'm tested for my driver's license. Could the timing be worse? Maybe it will take my mind off of things, but if the news isn't good, I'm going to be shattered. I guess I'll have to deal with that when I come to it.

I'm still not well, and Hubster sounds like he's coming down with something. On top of all that, today is our 17th wedding anniversary. We're both so bummed that we didn't even want to celebrate tonight. I guess we'll go out to dinner next week in San Francisco, but that's all we're doing for that.

We had a mover come over to the house and give us an estimate. It was nowhere as bad as I thought it would be, so I can have my bike shipped with no problem. We have one more estimate to go, and then I think we'll begin packing up all this shit. I can't even see daylight right now, let alone try to pack anything. It has to get done, though, so do it we will.

Sheryl, if you're reading this, I tried sending you two letters which bounced back. Please let me know how to get in touch with you.

Needless to say, all work on the shop has come to a grinding halt. It will resume next week after we hear what the doctor has to say. I apologize deeply to the artists who are waiting to have their work listed, but I can't right now. I'm so sorry.

All the love and support you've all shown to me and Hubster has been a true lifesaver. I really feel that if I fall, you'll be there to catch me. Right now, you're helping me to breathe. There's not much I can say except thank you. Thank you.

And on that note, I'm going to go to sleep. I'm tired, and being awake means I listen for the phone to ring. When it does, my heart stops. When it's not Mom, it starts beating again. So either I'm awake and doing that all day, or I sleep for a few hours and have nightmares. What a choice.

If anybody needs me for anything, don't hesitate to drop me a note. As I said, it might take a few days to get back to you (I'm SO behind on my email), but I will.

One way or another ... I will.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

There's Nothing Like Having all the Air Knocked Out of You

As you all know, I've been doing nothing but sleeping. That trend has been going on for the entire week, including today. However, I only had a few errands to run today and figured I'd work on the shop later tonight. The best laid plans ...

After reading this post, you'll probably think this is out of place, but I have to say it. Yarny Goodness is having a 15% off sale on everything beginning Monday and running through Wednesday. Okay ...

We went over to the Harley store this afternoon to pick up my goggles (I look too cool for words - read: like a fucking dork - in them), and then decided to go visit the grands at Mom's. We got there, went into the family room, sat down, and the kids began crawling all over Hubster. They do adore their Grandpa. I was busy chatting with Mom and Grandma when my mother looked at Hubster and said, "Now, I've got something to tell you.". Uh oh. When she utters those words (and especially when she can't look at me), someone has died or gotten into an accident. I immediately began running through my remaining family members to come up with who was dead and/or in an accident when she uttered the three words that have knocked all the air out of me:

"I've got cancer."


All I could do was stare at her while she explained. She had had a partial hysterectomy a few months ago, and everything appeared to be fine. For some reason, the tests on the tissue were run three times, and the third time came up with the cancer cells. The other two were false negatives. Now she has to have surgery again from a gynecological surgeon from UCSF; he wants to remove the tubes, ovaries, and a bunch of lymph nodes. First, though, she has to have an MRI to see if the cancer has spread.


At this point, I realized that my ciggie was no longer lit because the stream of tears flowing down my face had landed on it and extinguished it. Then I realized that I was angry. I don't react well to news like this (not that anybody else does, either); one of the things that happen is that I get really, really angry. I asked her how long she had known, and when she said three weeks, I came unglued. When she said that she had told Amber (my daughter) a few weeks ago, I went right over the edge and began yelling. Hubster told me to stop screaming, but I couldn't, so I did the only thing I could do.

I yelled at him to shut the fuck up.

The rest of the visit is a blur. I'm going to take her for her MRI, and then I'll come back up for her surgery in January. I wish we could have found a house here, but it just wasn't in the cards. Besides, I think I'm going to need a place to escape to. Hubster keeps telling me that everything will work out okay and she'll be fine. I'm not so sure. In fact, I'm not even remotely optimistic right now. All I am is tired, and defeated, and everything coming up - the bike, the move, Christmas - have suddenly lost all their luster and seem absolutely pointless. For the first time in my life, I'm staring at losing my mother right in the face.

I know that a lot of the women who write the blogs I read have recently (or within the past year) lost their mothers. I cried when I read those posts and felt horrible for them and their families. But now that it might be my turn, I'm numb. I'm in a vacuum. It's like everything is underwater and I'm trying to hear what's being said. It's too surreal.


But it is. And I literally have to think to take a breath. The tears roll without warning. We went out to dinner afterwards, and I sat at the table eating a breadstick and crying while I was talking to Hubster. He keeps saying she'll be fine, that the cancer hasn't spread, blah blah blah. I can't hear him. I can't hear anything.

I'm gong to curl up and pretend that this isn't real. Maybe, if I fall asleep, I won't have nightmares.

But I know I will.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Still Alive ...

... but I sure as shit don't feel like it. Think I was kidding about sleeping? Here's proof - and proof that friends don't let friends sleep alone.


Yes, those are all ciggie holes. This is why the Monster isn't coming with us - that and the fact that the armrest is shot. This is the last time I buy furniture from Laz-E-Boy (or however the hell you spell it). The last couch we bought from them? It took six months to arrive and broke down in a couple of years. They make lovely recliners, but even they get shot pretty quickly. Don't you also love what a classy broad I am? That is the best duct tape money can buy on my ultra-expensive Scandia Down pillow. Hey... I paid a fortune for that thing. I'm not going to trash it after all these years when duct tape fixes little holes that let the down go floating out (especially when you lay your head on it and the pillow goes "POOF!").

That is the position I've been in of late, both with and without Emma. She loves to sleep with one or both of us. I think it makes her feel secure, although there are days I would like to strangle her (like when she eats my DPN's). I did, however, order some square DPN's from the Knitting Software people, as well as a set of Signature (I think that's who it is) 6", stiletto-tipped beasts. I don't usually like to knit with metal, but I saw them at Stitches last year and thought the straights were kind of neat. I'm sure Emma can still crush them with her mammoth jaws, though.

Here's another shot of the "M" alone, basking in her queenly glory.


That should also give you a close-up of the results of my trying to set myself and the house on fire.

I want to thank everybody who sent me well-wishes for a speedy recovery. I'm so very blessed to have you all as my family, whether you're a customer, a friend, an artist I represent ... it doesn't matter. I've received letters from all of you, and I'll be answering each one as soon as I can. Tonight, though, I'm sleeping again. This is just another symptom of the lovely disease I have and shows that I am, indeed, out of remission. With any luck, the blood work will show something simple can be done to make me stop sleeping so much and begin functioning like a real person, like my meds needing to be adjusted (especially for the thyroid). With any luck.

We have movers invading our house tomorrow to give us estimates on how much scratch it will cost to move our boxes and what little furniture we have left. As usual, I've procrastinated and still don't have anything done in the way of packing. Since I've been sleeping, Hubster has been working on either the shop or his real job. We're just going to have to white-knuckle it and begin stuffing shit in boxes. God, I hate moving. It's worse than divorce. At least with divorce, you get money to go along with your loneliness. With moving, you just get a lot of work to do on both ends.

What else is going on? Not much, really. I start my motorcycle classes next Thursday, so my theory is that if I sleep a lot now, then I can stay awake in class and during a 10-hour day (both on Saturday and Sunday) on the back of a bike. At least we'll be outdoors, so I can probably smoke during class if I'm not on the bike. Smoking on the back of a moving bike is worse than trying to smoke in the T-Bird with the top down. I still haven't listed the car, nor have we taken pictures of the thing. With this economy, though, I don't hold out a lot of hope for a quick sale. It would be nice, but you know how these things go. I would like to get it listed before Christmas so people still have some money left.

I have to tell you that I have the most incredible pal for SP13. She sent me a box chock-full of goodies the other day (pictures to follow as soon as Hubster gets the camera out). Included were a lavender-scented candle which is going in one of my new bathrooms, some yarn she dyed herself (blue and black - I think she might have been matching colors to my bike), a purple tote bag, a stuffie for Emma, some yummy treats for Emma, a bottle of patchouli essential oil - just incredible things. I can't remember if I'm missing something (I'm sorry, WK!), but you'll see it all for yourselves when I get a picture up on the blog.

I guess I really don't have a lot to say tonight. I'm just tired and want to curl up on the chair, watch some gory movie on TV, and knit. That new sock is coming along great, and I'm really happy with both the yarn and pattern. I might actually get a pair done. I'm so overwhelmed by the move and all the work we have to do that I'm sort of paralyzed. I get that way - instead of just attacking the problem, I tend to hide and pretend that we have lots of time to do whatever it is. What's going to happen is the same thing that happens whenever we have something large to do. We'll do it at the last minute, and I won't get everything done which I wanted to do. I desperately want (well, need ... who in the hell wants to go through all the hassle) to have a garage sale so we can make some extra dough and get rid of a lot of shit which we won't be taking with us. As for the stash, it remains to be photographed. Will we get it done before we leave? I'd like to think so, but I don't hold out much hope. At least we have until January 10th to get out of this shithole, but I want to be gone before then and in our new house. So many things I want to do ... so many things which I won't have time for. I want to go to San Francisco and have a last, glorious, seafood dinner on the Bay. I want to spend a lot of time with my grandma, but when I'm over there, I can't wait to leave. I know that Hubster wants to spend time with the grands (as do I, but they only have eyes for him if he's within 50 miles of them), so maybe we can do that this coming weekend. Sigh.

Time to go doze. I can work on everything tomorrow.