Tuesday, July 5, 2016

When reality is surrealism and a donkey! (Freebie)

Wow, that's a bit of a deep blog post title isn't it?

I'm so sorry I haven't shared any news with you. I know from the private emails I've been getting that an update is more than due and that some of you have been worried about me.  I'm sorry I made you worry.

I'm just had my 'week off' from chemo.  It's a great week but it's over far to soon!  I've now finished two cycles; each cycle being three weeks of chemo and one week off.  At the end of the third cycle I've got to have a scan to see if it's worth continuing with the next three cycles.

It's very surreal.  Technically I'm dying but I don't feel like I am.  I feel much better since I started chemo and my counts are all improving so I feel it's making a bit of a difference but I have to remember it's just buying time.  Every now and then I feel so good that my brain goes into 'illusion' mode...and then it really kicks me where it hurts when I remember the truth of the situation.

I've also had to deal with a bit of crap with so called neighbours spreading gossip about me. My husband says I should ignore it as I'm a better person than they are, but you know what?
I have very little too loose at this point and if I come face to face with the person involved, I may achieve the one thing left on my bucket list....to get arrested!  And yes, that really is the only thing on my bucket list!  I'm very blessed to have had a life where I've achieved everything I set out to do.  That is one heck of a life experience really isn't it.  I lived to the full and I intend to do so for a little bit longer!

Anyway, at the moment I'm feeling ok.  Unlike two weeks ago when we ate out and I ended up with campyplobacter.  Apparently the chemo knocked my immune system out so I ended up in hospital for five nights..it was pretty scary that's for sure!  So now I only eat what I cook or things which are super-cooked when eating out: no salads or chicken.  Of course, to make my year complete all I need is to bump into some hippy kid with a notifiable illness whose parents don't believe in vaccinations!  Measles, mumps, chicken pox here I come!

I haven't done any crafting really because the book took over. I know!  More surrealism!

The second edition has nearly sold out and I've been asked to do another book.  How exciting is that?

That is all under control now but I have another distraction.  My beautiful daughter and grandaughter have come over for a visit AND my son will be home as well soon.

And this is why I wrote the book and got it published.

Job done.

Alyssia has the very first book, with the authenticate certificate number one and there is a message inside the book for my husband, my children and my grandchildren. 

OOOooo I can't wait to have all my family under the same roof for once!  It's a shame the reason they are going to be here is such a sad one but I'm working on living a day at a time, which is all any of us can do.  Today I am fine, not in pain, active and with no symptoms...so today is a good day.

The illustration that Paula (Bear Tree Illustrations) had converted into a cross stitch chart which is available from Paine Free Crafts has raised...so far....

....with this donation to BCI of £225.59 plus the giftaid of 56.40 and the first donation - £281.99 for Breast Cancer International research charity!

Wow!  I'm so glad so much good is being done. 

And there is more!
The international charity fb group that I was part of, where designers donated charts and members paid donations in exchange for the charts (my own designs being one of them) raised over 800 dollars for my surgeon's research charity. Which means despite my bleak outlook, at least some good is coming from this.

I like to think my life has made a difference with all the fundraising I've done.  Somewhere along the line it must count right?

So where does the donkey come into the title? Well, I designed a Holmsey ornament to raise money for the Donkey Sanctuary.  Unfortunately I don't have the energy to deal with a fundraiser so what I've done is I offered a free chart on fb and asked people to donate to any animal charity of their  choice.  It could be donating a tin of dog food or a few pence or cents: it will all count.

So here is the chart and I would like to ask you to do the same. If you stitch it or download it, please donate to an animal charity and if you can, comment here with which charity it is pretty please.  It brightens my day to know that together we are doing something good to make the world a better place.

The chart is called 'In The Mid Bleak Winter'. It's part of the Holmsey's Hymms series.  It features Douglas in his winter coat. A lot of people don't realise that donkey's coats aren't waterproof so donkeys are prone to rain scald when it rains and they get cold really easily in wet weather.

Just click and save and then print off to use.  If you can't download it, just email me on stitchersanon@yahoo.com and I'll send it to you.

Right, that's all for now. I will do some crafting soon I promise.  Have a great week!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Holmsey is Home!

What a day! I missed the post yesterday because I was off having chemo and then today I had a day of normal life jobs which meant I missed getting to the post office before they closed for lunch. My palliative care nurse arrived pm and hubby had to leave to pick up our son from school because there is no school bus during exams.

He got back at 4.40 giving us just 20 minutes to get to the post office before it closed...and we did it with one minute to spare. And then we made t...hem stay open while I opened my package..I couldn't wait, I was just too excited.

Guess what had arrived?

I am officially the happiest person in the world. This is not just the cherry on the top of the cake: this is the cherry with more fireworks than Sidney Harbour has during New Years celebrations. Off all the things I have achieved with my life, this is the best.

Paula's artworks brings Holmsey and Fergus to life. It is a happy marriage and I couldn't imagine the two ever being apart.

  Paula, you did good. You did amazing. Thank you so very, very much. You have made me cry more than cancer, but tears of complete joy. You have been a pleasure to work with. Well, actually, it never actually felt like work though I'm sure it must have felt like it to you at times. Your artwork is unique. It deserves to be shown.

Paula's illustrations and style are just perfect for us crafters. And the actual artwork is so amazingly intricate. Everytime I look, I find something new! I can't show you all of the picture that I received until all the orders of books have gone out, but Holmsey did so want to be in the photo. How could I say no to such a big star?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

From Bear Tails to Hare Tales

Well, I have so much to tell you.

I'm so sorry I haven't replied to your comments.  It's been a crappy few weeks thanks to a racist surgeon who didn't like me because I was English.  At least that is all I can put it down to, being the only UK citizen on the ward (with Irish Great Grandparents but he didn't know that!).

Let me tell you the story and explain why he will never be racist to an English person again

I had to go to hospital to have a port cath fitted.  A wonderful device which will mean there will be no more hunts for veins or collapsing veins and endless bruises on my arms.

On the same day I had to have surgery I had to rush to a different hospital for my chemo in the afternoon.  A chemo treatment which the oncology drs had had to have a meeting about to try and fit me in because my cycle was mucked up through my wimpy neutraphils.

 On the day, we had to get up at 5.30 am to leave at 6 for the hospital, stopping for a few minutes to watch Holmsey in one of the fields.  My husband knows me well: if there is hare, I want to watch him.

 We arrived at hospital at 8 for the surgery and was told I would be the first one in because I had a chemo appointment.

The oncology dept said I would be first.
The nurses all said I would be first.
The surgical timetable said I was first.

Come 12.30, I'm still not in but everyone else has been done so very obviously I was not first and the poor nurses were really upset and had repeatedly told the surgeon that I had to be done. The oncology department at the other hospital also kept phoning to ask if I had gone down yet.

 In the end I take things into my own hands.   I walk to the nurses station to tell them I was leaving to go and  get my chemo. I'd sort out a port at a later date. The nurses were mortified that I would do this.  They told me I needed the port and I pointed out that since they already had a line in me, that would also do for chemo.  TTFN, I'm off.  

Now things started moving.  The nurses ran to tell the surgeon that I was incredibly peed off (I didn't use that exact word if  I'm going to be honest) and another nurse ran to call oncology to find out what time was the latest I could get there.  It turns out I had to be there for 3 pm.

It is now 1 pm.

It takes 20-30 mins for the surgery, and 4 hours to recover from the sedation: I had two hours and 30 minutes of that would involve driving to the other hospital for my chemo.

The only option was to just have a local anaesthetic and NO sedation.

 A port is a little device which goes under the skin and it's attached to a line which is fed through to the pulmonary vein which goes to/from the heart.
The skin has an inch long incision which the port is pushed into and slid into place and connected to the line.

 And I had NO sedation, just a mild local anaesthetic.

When I was in the operating theatre I just asked them to turn the radio up and sang to the songs while they pushed and shoved and cut.

I was back in my room in 15 minutes (no sedation so quicker), dressed in 5. Hubby always brings me loads of water to drink really quickly to get the obligatory pee that has to be done before you leave so 1 litre of water drank, one piece of toast eaten, one cup of tea drunk, one pee completed...and I was out in 20 minutes. I was in no mood to be argued with rofl

 We finally got to UHG and the chair was still available: the lovely nurse at the first hospital did the oncology bloods for me first thing in the morning so that saved time.  Thank you nice nurse: you were wonderful.

 My neutraphils had dropped again, the buggers, from 1.2 on Tuesday to 1.0 but it was just high enough for chemo. Perfect right?

The first drip contains piriton (anti histamine) steroid and anti sickness meds. You have this and then wait for half an hour and then you have the chemo which is given in titration (increasng amounts). So for x minutes it drips very slowly, followed by x minutes  where it goes a bit faster and so on.

First titration: fine.

 Second titration: nurse when to get me my next appointment and as she stood there I suddenly couldn't breath: had gone really hot and managed to squeeze out the words 'hot'. She took one look at me and  rang the alarm.

Hubby was thrown out: four nurses are adding extention lines to the port (thank God I had the port: there is no way they would have found extra veins) and I grabbed my new inhalor out of my bag and took four puffs. I know it isn't what you would usually use but if it bought my airways a few extra seconds it could only help and it did.

I had started to go into Anaphylactic shock caused probably by the fasting as I'd only had one peice of toast since midnight. Thank you Mr. Surgeon.  I hope you remember your oath to 'do no harm' before you really do someone some harm.


 Now, to be fair, they acted so fast it was amazing. I have only praise for them all. But it meant my chemo could only be given at the lowest titration level once I'd had the extra meds to deal with it.

 What should have been a half hour chemo treatment took five hours. The ward should have closed at 7, but they stayed open until 8.00 pm. Thank you so much nurses of UHG oncology ward for going beyond the call of duty to make sure I had the chemo.

And do you want to know something else.  It was my birthday.  Yup: def. a birthday to remember and I guess if you aren't going to get too many birthdays, at least this one made itself known.

So an interesting day. Not all bad though.

I saw Holmsey in the flesh.

I got a romantic meal for two when it was realised I had been fasting since midnight with only a piece of toast eaten at 2.20 pm, hubby went over the road to get me chicken and chips...eaten in the oncology chair.  We just hadn't thought of food because my priority was to get my treatment.

 I had nurses sing happy birthday to me in English and Irish

 I had two chocolates from an oncology nurse who had a box of roses on her desk.

See, not all bad!

I did have an amazing number of birthday cards, as Kathryn, a lady from our online stitching groups, and a great friend, asked people to send them.  I am so sorry I didn't get a chance to thank you all personally as I was a bit preoccupied but I have kept them all and will treasure them. Thank you.

Chemo brain is starting to  kick in so please excuse typos and wrong words.

I did have an amazing birthday pressie from Paula, the lady who is illustrating my book (and publishing it!)

She sent me this picture.  Isn't it amazing?

Me, Holmsey and Fergus.  And yes, it is going on the back of the book!

Which brings me to two great pieces of news.

Firstly, one of the illustrations that Paula created for  Holmsey's book was converted into a cross stitch pattern by Sarah from Paine Free Crafts  and it has been used to raise money for breast cancer research.  In just one month, they raised .........

over £100 pounds!
And this is the image used.

So where are we with the book? Well, please remember, this was just meant to be a book for my grandaughter.  It was never meant to be a commercial venture.

So both Paula and I were amazed when people said they wanted to buy a copy.

And we were even more amazed when people said they wanted signed copies. Signed by me and by Holmsey.  Now there was an issue with the geography of the whole thing.  Bear Tails Illustration is in England and I of course am in Ireland.

 I had a little word with Holmsey and he came up with the idea of a limited edition authentication certificate signed by both myself and Holmsey.

I fill them in, send them to Paula and then she will add them to the first 100 books bought, in the first edition copies.

I reckoned we would have an awful lot left over.

Paula put a post up on her fb page asking people to pm her to pre-order their book and the first 100 would get a certificate complete with the actual number of the book they have bought.  That was yesterday.
Within moments, her site crashed.

She emailed me today to say we had sold 100 books...and more.  So I had to put a promise up that while only the first 100 people would receive a certificate in their book, everyone who had ordered up to this point would receive a first edition.  Which is just as well because Paula is now having to order more books from the printers: a second edition.

Good grief.

So, we just thought there would be a few and we were wrong. Very wrong and it is just sooo surreal.  So flattering.  No pressure at all for it to be good then haha. (she laughs nervously while wiping sweat from her brow).

.http://www.beartailsillustration.uk  is Bear Tails website so you can go and take a look.  Paula is just moving everything over to this website so please be patient and please note, the Holmsey book is pre-ordered.  The books themselves will be sent out in 10-14 days, possibly before depending on how long it takes Holmsey to sign the certs xx

And you never know....my next post may even have some crafting in it!

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