Friday, 22 May 2015

Installation of Port and First Chemo

Well – the journey has begun! We turned up as requested at the Ricky Grant Day Unit as requested, and got booked in, with the usual form filling and Q&A session – I am very grateful for their thoroughness! Then down to theatre for the installation of the port under general anaesthetic. As usual, not aware of time. When I was coming round I thought, “Oh no… I forgot to set the alarm and I’ve overslept and missed my appointment!” Lol! In the recovery ward for a while and then back to Ricky Grant, where they gave me a snack lunch, and then my chemo began.

Flushing the port with saline was followed by anti-sickness medication and steroids, then flushing with glucose and finally the oxaliplatin, which took about 4 1/2 hours – they squeezed the very last drop out of the bag! Then further flushing with glucose and a final flushing with heparin and saline, a change of dressing over the port wound which had bled a little, and then home.

Side effects almost straight away – definite signs of peripheral neuropathy when touching surfaces colder than myself, and a weird and painful sensation with my first mouthful of food. Nothing else so far except feeling fairly spaced out but that may be the residue of the anaesthetic. I know that the effects will be cumulative with subsequent cycles but I’m not complaining so far!

(Very) full details on my Cancer Diary page.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

WOYWW 311

As my creative mojo has returned, I thought I’d just slip in at the end of WOYWW and let you know what I’ve been doing recently.

I haven’t got a photo of my desk as such, but over the past week I have made 2 cards for my hubby – one for his birthday which was yesterday, and the other for our 29th wedding anniversary which is on Sunday. I have had to take all my get well cards down in order to make room for this new batch!

Here is the birthday card – a mixed media effort using friendly plastic, gilding wax, alcohol inks, distress inks, dye cuts, faux porcelain, glass bead gel medium and dry embossing.

01 Finished Card

Nice and manly?

This is the anniversary card, which I made this evening.

03 Finished Card

This is a piece from my backgrounds folder, created with Dylusions spray when I was colouring some cut flower pieces, spraying them against a background of watercolour paper to create a background at the same time. Matted and layered onto two layers of coloured cardstock and mounted onto a white base card coloured with distress inks. Ribbon with charm embellishment attached with coloured wire wrapped around the card over the ribbon. Hand-written sentiment.

I have also been doing some more ATC-sized Zentangle samples for my Zentangle pattern library album, but I haven’t photographed these yet.

Health Update

For those who haven’t been following my progress recently, after my cancer diagnosis in mid-January, I had major bowel surgery at the end of March, to remove the whole large bowel and rectum and the creation of an ileostomy. The cancer proved to be highly aggressive and had spread through the entire bowel wall and into one lymph node, so I am about to embark on six months’ intensive chemotherapy starting this Friday. Full details on my Cancer Diary page.

After numerous teething problems and various changes in bags, I am now managing my stoma well, and at my next stoma clinic appointment on Friday week, expect my prescription to be set up, so that I can obtain the necessary supplies direct from a home delivery service.

This past week I have been feeling a lot better since the operation as things are finally healing up and my body shape seems to be settling down with the reduction in post-operative swelling. I have my follow-up appointment with the surgeon on Friday week as well.

Very many thanks to those of you who have been following my progress and giving me such wonderful support and encouragement – you know who you are!! – and special thanks to those of you who continue to pray for me. Very much appreciated!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Wedding Anniversary Card

On Sunday it is our 29th wedding anniversary and I was determined to make my hubby a nice card. Again I am so delighted that Mr. Mojo and Mrs. Muse have returned at last from their extended unauthorised break just in time!

As with the birthday card I made for him for yesterday, I used things from my stash, to save extra work and also to make use of some of the stuff I’ve got.

These are the basic materials for the card.

01 Materials for Card

I made a whole lot of flowers a while back, and cut the pieces using Sheba, my Cougar cutting machine, using watercolour paper. I laid the pieces out on some more watercolour paper and sprayed them with Dylusions spray inks, and then flipped them over and moved them elsewhere on the paper and sprayed the backs. This way I ended up with nice coloured pieces to make my flowers, and some great backgrounds to go in my stash for future projects. I found this one and thought it would make a nice bright card. The ribbon was a scrap, and the orange and dark red card are from my stash, as is the heavy-weight white card for the card base.

Here is the card with the envelope. I matted and layered the floral background piece first onto orange, and then onto the dark red card, after attaching the ribbon around the floral piece and securing the ends on the back with double sided tape from my ATG glue gun.

02 Card and Envelope

I took some orange-coloured copper wire and made a circular loop in it with my jewellery pliers and slipped on the double heart charm, and than flattened the loop so that the charm would not slide along the wire, and would hang freely. Starting on the back of the piece, I wound the wire three times around the card, cutting off the excess and twisting the ends together on the back, and flattening the twist.

Matting the floral piece onto the orange layer with double sided tape secured the wire in place.

Before assembling the card, I inked the white card base with Spiced Marmalade, Fired Brick and Festive Berries distress inks, using an Inkylicious Ink Duster. I inked the envelope in the same way, but didn’t add quite so much colour – this technique was repeated also on the inside of the card.

Here is the completed card. The wire catches the light and adds a different texture to create more interest.

03 Finished Card

Finally, a detailed shot of the card’s embellishments. Using a purple marker, I hand-wrote the sentiment on a piece of scrap paper with traces of the same inking on it, but paler, and stuck this down with Pritt adhesive, and outlined it with a purple gel pen.

04 Embellishment Detail

This same sentiment was repeated inside the card, written directly onto the card base.

Health Update

I had my pre-assessment for the insertion of the port-a-cath today, which all went well. A long question-and-answer session with the specialist nurse first (very thorough), then a snack lunch at the cafe and then back for a short appointment with the radiologist who will perform the procedure. I also had to have blood taken, and an ECG, and then home. I shall be going in first thing on Friday for the procedure under general anaesthetic, and then at lunch time my first chemotherapy treatment will begin. This will take four hours, and then they’ll keep me there for half an hour to make sure all is well, before I can come home. The treatments will continue once every three weeks for the next six months, and I do not anticipate feeling too well during that time but my hubby and I are glad that I am having it, in order to mop up any stray cancer cells that might still be wandering around in my body. Please see my Cancer Diary page for full details.

Monday, 18 May 2015

“New Patient Talk” Appointment

Today I went for my pre-chemotherapy appointment in the day unit at the hospital. It’s a beautiful unit, very bright and airy, with attractive pale wood everywhere. We saw a specialist chemotherapy nurse who went through everything with us and told us what to expect.

On Wednesday afternoon I have a pre-assessment appointment with the radiologist in preparation for my appointment with him early on Friday morning, when he will install my port-a-cath under anaesthetic.

My chemo begins at lunch time on that day, Friday 22nd May. I will be having a treatment every three weeks for the next six months.

I have detailed this in full on my Cancer Diary page.

I now have only a few days of “normal” life before this ordeal begins, and I have done an online Tesco order this afternoon, so that tomorrow when it arrives, I can begin preparing some food ready to freeze, to have when I am not feeling well enough to do anything. I also have an order of wholefoods arriving in the next day or two, and shall be able to make delicious and appetising smoothies to see me through! I shall make another great pot of clear chicken soup, as I did before my operation.

I need to keep thinking positively about all this, and not to think of the stuff they are going to pump into me as “poison” (which, in actual fact, it is!) but as something very good, which is going to eliminate any possible remaining cancer cells in my body, and ensure that I have a long and reasonably healthy life from now on! The idea of six months of it is pretty daunting, but when I think that if I don’t go through this, and the cancer does reappear, I may end up with only six months, or less! After all, what is six months of one’s life, as long as I continue to have a life to live! My hubby continually says he is glad I had such a big operation, and glad that I am having the chemo, which may sound strange, but the alternative does not bear thinking about. I must be continually thankful that this amazing treatment is available for me, free of charge, and could be saving my life. This year may seem to be a washout, and all the plans I made at the end of last year have so far come to nothing, but if it simply means that they will take place next year, it really doesn’t matter.

This past week I have really started to feel better after my operation, and it’s a bit galling to think that just when I feel like doing things again and picking up the threads of my life once more, they are going to zap me down with chemo and make me feel dreadful!! This past week, I have been in my studio again, and in the evenings, having been doing Zentangles, working on more ATC-sized designs for my Zentangle sample album. I shall be uploading some photos soon. I have also made my hubby’s birthday card, and have his anniversary card to make, too, and if possible, a very belated Valentine card which I promised him!

So – those of you who pray – thank you for your wonderful prayers going up from the four corners of the globe, which have so far carried me through marvellously well, and I ask you to continue to pray! We will get through this. There is no way round it, over it, or under it. The only way through is through! I do pray that I shall be a good witness for the Lord by how I deal with it all, and that I don’t give my hubby a bad time.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Outing to Babbacombe

Yesterday our sister in law came and we had fish and chips in the garden, and then went to Babbacombe to go along the sea front. It was a perfect spring day with warm sun and a perfectly blue sky which reflected an equally perfectly blue sea.

Here are the pictures I took.

In the first one you can see where the cliff collapsed the winter before last, during those terrible storms we had. A house fell down the cliff.

01 The Collapsed Cliff from Above

02 The Sea from the Sea Front Pathway

03 Sailing Boats from Sea Front Pathway

04 Observation Point

The sea front path.

05 Sea Front Pathway

06 Pansies

07 Babbacombe Statue

The top of the cliff railway.

08 Cliff Railway from the Top

Going down the cliff railway. You can see the other car coming up.

09 Going Down the Cliff Railway

At the bottom of the cliff.

11 The Sea at the Bottom of the Cliff Railway

12 Landing a Boat

The little seaside shop. I love these shops by the seaside, full of flip flops and postcards and beach balls and silly ephemeral stuff – all rather tawdry and cheap, but redolent of hot summer days on the beach, and happy lighthearted holidays, and the sound of children’s laughter as they splash about in the sea, and salt and sand and seagulls.

13 Beach Shop

The yacht club. People coming out of their winter hibernation to start doing what they enjoy best – simply “messing about in boats.”

14 Yacht Club

The collapsed cliff. That end of the beach is closed because it is no longer safe.

15 Beach Closed

Paddling in the sea. They should have knotted handkerchiefs on their heads!

16 Paddling

The bottom end of the cliff railway. The ramp on the left is for pedestrians to enter the station building – it looks a bit as if the train is going up hill! You can see the track for the train behind the ramp.

17 Cliff Railway from Below

Going up the cliff railway.

19 Going Up the Cliff Railway

It always amazes me that plants can grow so profusely out of a completely dry wall.

20 Daisies Growing Out of the Wall

My hubby being theatrical outside the little theatre!

21 N Being Theatrical

Gardens by the theatre. There are flowers growing all along the sea front.

22 Gardens on the Sea Front Pathway

We are so privileged to live within striking distance of the sea, and such beautiful views.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Birthday Card for my Hubby

My hubby’s birthday is on Tuesday, and I am so glad that Mr. Mojo and Mrs. Muse have decided to return from their unexpected long holiday and come to my rescue, so that I could make him a mixed media card! He has been so brilliant over the past months and I want to show my appreciation for him in every way that I can.

I am still taking baby steps creatively, and didn’t want to take on a huge project, so I thought it would be good to use some of the things in my stash to make his card. Here is the finished card.

01 Finished Card

Last year I had a session making alcohol ink backgrounds on the backs of some A5 fliers we’d picked up at the county show (I love recycling!) – they were on shiny paper.

13 All the Backgrounds

I also embossed some co-ordinating pieces of card to go with each background.

02 Embossed Cor'dinations and Alcohol Ink Mats

For this card I chose the background using gold, silver, copper and pearl mixatives. This one had a nice co-ordinating card which I’d embossed with the Cuttlebug folder “Diamond Plate,” which is good and manly!

10 All the Mixatives

Rummaging through my stash, I found the Friendly Plastic gear wheels and other hardware that I’d made some time ago. These were painted with black gesso which makes a good base for adding gilding wax.

Also in my stash I found a few tissue paper hearts that somebody sent me once in a collection of die-cuts, and I chose one in a colour appropriate for this card, to lay down as a background under the embellishments, adding some gilding wax lightly applied with my finger.

Finally I made a faux porcelain sentiment for the card. You use UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel) for this technique, building up the layers – I had several printed oval shapes  with “Happy Birthday” printed on them in a suitable font in my stash from a previous project. I used Versamark and my heat gun for this, and unfortunately it made the card curl a bit; I think it would probably distort less if one immersed the whole thing in UTEE in the meltpot, so I must remember this next time I use this technique. (Last time I started with a thicker piece made from several layers laminated together, and I think that distorted less.)

Here are some detail shots of the card.

02 Detail - Top

For the “metal” hardware, I used a mixture of silver, gold and copper gilding wax. Of course, the metallic appearance doesn’t pick up too well on the photos.

03 Detail - Bottom L

On the above picture you can see that I have also applied some glass bead gel medium using a palette knife, and lightly applied some gold gilding wax with my finger, for a bit of added texture and to tie the design together.

04 Detail - Bottom R

I have had the large “blue steel” gear wheel in my stash for ages – I think it was a die-cut, and I cut it from a piece of card from Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate box! It has a lovely metallic shimmer to it. Across the bottom I added some glass bead gel medium with a palette knife and lightly rubbed this with gold gilding wax.

05 Detail - Bottom

The inside of the card. I can’t remember where I got this sentiment stamp – it is part of a set of clear stamps I bought when I first started, and I didn’t keep the packaging. I don’t like clear stamps as much as rubber ones, and have only a few.

06 Inside

I inked the inside of the card, and the edge of the card base on the front, using Gathered Twigs distress ink and an Inkylicious Ink Duster. The card front was matted and layered with some brown cardstock. The Friendly Plastic embellishments were stuck down with Pinflair gel glue; the heart was attached with regular matt gel medium, and the large gearwheel with Scotch Quick Dry adhesive, and the remainder of the elements with my ATG glue gun. The faux porcelain sentiment was attached with two small brads through the matting and layering before I stuck that down onto the card base.

There is a lot of texture and thickness on this card! It’s a good thing I have a large supply of very heavy white cardstock for card bases or they’d never hold up, the amount of stuff I always put on my cards!

Monday, 11 May 2015

A Seahorse for Marlene

Great news, folks! Mr. Mojo and Mrs. Muse have returned at last from their extended holiday/absence without leave! Since my cancer diagnosis in mid-January, I have been so preoccupied and unsettled, and with my mind so full of it all, that I have not been able to focus on anything creative. Today I am really feeling a lot better – it is now over 6 weeks since my surgery, and although I still tire more easily than in my normal M.E. state, I do feel more myself. I am about to embark on six months of intensive chemotherapy and am determined to take advantage of those periods when I am feeling better in between.

Recently a friend of mine contacted me to say that she was exploring the idea of ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) and asked if we could swap. I was thinking perhaps I had an ATC in my stash that I could send her, but there was nothing suitable. She said she had done a seahorse one so I decided to do the same.

Her ATC arrived yesterday and I love the colour, and the addition of a little bling, which I am pleased to see how well the camera picked this up for once – it is usually really hard to capture sparkly surfaces!

05 ATC from Marlene

I decided to do another of my signature teabag stain ATCs. I’m afraid I didn’t remember to photograph the stain before I drew on it, but it was one on a sheet of watercolour paper that I used to dry teabags on – they leave such lovely marks.

I used a fine Faber Castell sepia pen to do the drawing, and added some Zentangles around the edge, and after completing the drawing, I cut it out around the outline.

01 Completed Drawing

I shaded the drawing with a brown pastel pencil and blended it with a paper stump.

02 Shading with Brown Pastel

I took one of my ATC blanks and inked the edges with Tea Dye distress ink.

03 Inking the Base Piece

I used Scotch Quick Dry adhesive to stick the drawing onto the back piece, and added a little more drawing around the edge.

04 Finished ATC

I wrapped the ATC in a scrap of tissue paper which I stamped with some of my seashell stamps, using sepia archival ink, and repeated this motif, adding a little seahorse, on the small cream envelope I chose to send Marlene her ATC in.

06 ATC Wrapped with Envelope

I included one of my little fans in with the ATC – I made a whole lot of these to go with ATCs for the last ATC swap I took part in. These were stamped with Versamark onto black card using one of my favourite fan stamps, and then brushed with dry Perfect Pearls, adding a little tie of ribbon on the handle.

Fan Tags to Accompany My ATC

I tied up the little parcel with some co-ordinating fancy yarn. I hope Marlene enjoys her ATC.

OK, so it’s a small start, but the creative block is down, and I am excited about getting back into my ARTHaven again. Watch this space – I hope it isn’t just a flash in the pan!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Norma’s 80th Birthday Party

Last night my hubby and I went to a party to celebrate the 80th birthday of one of my oldest and dearest friends. We first became friends in Plymouth over 20 years ago and we used to belong to the same church housegroup, and we’ve shared a lot over the years we’ve known each other.

After we moved we rather lost touch which was a great shame, but we recently got back in touch again, and I was delighted at the timing because she so wanted us to go to her 80th birthday party! The timing was also excellent for me, because I am now 6 weeks post-op and am doing well, but about to start 6 months’ chemotherapy and will most likely feel pretty poorly as time goes on, and this is like a little oasis of better health between the two stages of my cancer treatment! I was at my best to enjoy the evening to the full.

The party took place at the Dome on Plymouth Hoe which was a really lovely place. We had chosen from the menus previously.

As we arrived, here is the birthday girl!

01 Norma

This is Norma’s daughter, Sara. I haven’t seen her for years, and she looks exactly the same!

02 Sara

Sara with her son Isaac – she doesn’t look old enough to have an 18-year-old son, does she! Norma and I went up to Thornton Heath when Isaac was born, to celebrate his dedication at the Baptist church there, and I sang a solo during the service. I last saw him when he was about three! He has always been a very special boy.

03 Isaac and Sara

We had an excellent meal, and before the starter, and between courses, we were entertained by a magician. We were right up close and I kept my eyes fixed on his hands all the time, and I really couldn’t see how he did it! He was very skilled. He borrowed one of my rings and made it disappear, and then it appeared on his keyring in his pocket! He did tricks with ropes and cards, and was great fun and very entertaining.

This the pea and watercress soup that our friend Chris chose, which apparently was delicious! I loved the way everything was presented. Our place mats were made of slate (our friend Bob said we were having a night out on the tiles lol!), and this soup was served on a beautiful wooden board.

04 Pea and Watercress Soup

This is my starter, a smoked salmon terrine.

05 Smoked Salmon Terrine

For the main course I had a roast chicken breast, and for dessert I had sticky toffee pudding which was served with toffee ice cream and a delicious hot caramel sauce.

Here is Norma with her brother Derek, whom I also haven’t seen for many years. It really struck me this time how alike they are – he has exactly her manner of speaking and her mannerisms, and her smile! He told me how much she had missed me during the time we were out of touch.

06 Norma and Derek

Norma made a lovely speech and singled out several friends to give a special mention, including me!

07 Norma's Speech

Here is the beautiful cake which a friend had made for her. One cake was fruit, and the other sponge, and it was iced with a soft fondant icing.

08 The Cake

The cake being served at the table.

09 The Cake Cut

Now some photos of my Christian friends from years back when we lived in Plymouth. This is Chris.

10 Chris

Chris and me.

11 Me with Chris

Bob, Sue, Chris and me.

12 Bob, Sue, Chris and Me

My hubby had been seated next to me at the table, with Chris next to him on the other side, so he and Chris swapped so we could chat – I can sit and chat with my hubby any day of the week! I have attended many groups with these lovely people. Bob used to play the piano for us at many meetings – he is a professional musician. He and I led worship many times together. I met Sue with Norma at a group we both used to attend, and after the meal she and I had a marvellous talk.

It was such a blessing to catch up with all these folks again after so long! The years slipped away and we enjoyed a great time together.

I wish my dear friend Norma many happy returns of the day and every blessing! What a marvellous party it was.