Sunday, 1 March 2015

Gifts from Lovely Friends

I have received some wonderful gifts from friends who are all wishing me well for my forthcoming hospital stay – so thoughtful and caring!

Gifts from Lovely Friends

One friend gave me the pretty little bag, filled with all sorts of thoughtful goodies and girlie things to make me happy and comfortable in hospital. There’s a puzzle book and a pen in the shape of a purple teddy, and lots of little bottles of nice things to keep me fresh and fragrant. A pot of sparkly red nail varnish and tissues and wipes, all in a nice small size to take up very little room – there’s never very much space to put things in hospital.

Sitting on top of all these goodies in the bag was a dear little bear with the softest fur. He is called Horace. He will accompany me to hospital, along with my special little platypus Humphrey, who was a gift from my hubby during my last major surgery twenty years ago, and Nursie Bear, who belongs to my hubby, and has accompanied many people to hospital over the years, to take care of them and nurse them back to health again. Her favourite phrase is, “Nursie Knows Best!” She does have that look about her, doesn’t she. You don’t mess with Nursie. Will there be room in the bed for me, I wonder?

Teddies

Two other friends have given me little angels to keep me safe! The one on the left is a little pin with a stone in my favourite dark red colour, which I am going to pin on the lapel of my dressing gown, and the one on the right is a tiny glass jar with an angel charm, with slips of paper for wishes for your guardian angel! I know that the Lord will keep me safe, and surround me with His angels during this difficult time, and these little gifts are a reminder of that.

Angels

Aren’t people kind and thoughtful? I shall take these gifts in with me and think of all my lovely caring friends when I use them and look at them.

I am overwhelmed also by the huge number of good wishes and love sent from friends around the world, on blogs, forums and emails, and by the ever-growing collection of beautiful cards, all of which will be kept safely as a reminder of the love that surrounds me.

As I face the coming ordeal, I am cheered and comforted by the love and thoughtfulness of my many friends. You know who you are. May God bless you all.

Finally, my Big Black Blob that Nita so kindly drew on my tummy to indicate the position of the stoma, has been fading badly, so I’ve been going over it with my own permanent black marker so that they don’t have to go through the whole process of siting it again. I thought I would have some fun with it.

Big Black Blob

(Don’t worry, I’m not going to show you a photo of the stoma itself lol!! That would probably be TMI for most of you…) What with this and my multi-coloured hair, I think Mr. Pullan is going to have a fit!!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Operation Postponed!

For any of my followers or visitors who have not been contacted either directly by my hubby or indirectly, my surgery has been postponed because no High Dependency bed was available. Please see my updated Cancer Diary page for details.

I shall be online until the night before my re-scheduled operation and will hope to be able to moderate and reply to any comments up until that time.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

WOYWW 299

A very brief post for WOYWW this week – again, nothing at all on my desk, as I rapidly approach my date for admission to hospital and surgery to remove my large bowel and create an ileostomy.

A picture not of my desk – just so you don’t feel too deprived of visual stimulus. A rare sight – our two girlies together in the same bed! (Taken several years ago.) Beatrice on the left, Phoebe on the right. Both are looking a bit longer in the tooth these days!

Beatrice & Phoebe in Hammock 15 Dec 04

The past few days have been very busy indeed, seeing people, taking phone calls, emails, etc. and fitting in some treats before I go in. Also working hard on getting Mum into respite care – success at last, and she is going in tomorrow.

Some retail therapy in M&S today – new night wear for hospital and also a few pretty things to wear in the spring while I get better – something nice to look forward to.

I wanted to post for this WOYWW just to let everyone know that I won’t be online after tomorrow, until my hubby brings my laptop in to the hospital when I feel up to it (not sure when that will be). If anyone is kind enough to leave me any comments, they may not get moderated or published for a while, unless I get some time tomorrow, so please don’t despair if you check back and they haven’t appeared. I promise every comment is read, and treasured, and will be published as soon as I can. I’ll try and update my Cancer Diary page before I go into hospital – they phoned while we were out today, about one last appointment before Friday, to see the stoma team. Tomorrow is a very heavy day, getting Mum settled, and going out for a meal in the evening, all being well. My hubby has a physio appointment in the morning for his wrist that was broken in October. I have a hair appointment on Thurs. a.m. which I am determined not to miss, so that only leaves Thurs. p.m. for my hospital appointment so I hope they can fit me in then!

By the time I get in, at this rate, I shall be glad of the anaesthetic and a chance for a long rest! (not…)

I shall be thinking of you all. I may be out of sight, but hopefully not out of mind!

Happy WOYWW everybody, and thanks for all the support and encouragement over the past month or so.

Cancer Diary page now updated.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Visit from Shaz

Today we had a lovely visit from Shaz and her hubby. Shaz and I first met on WOYWW, and when she was diagnosed with rectal cancer she started a cancer page on her blog, and I have been following her progress with great interest, and sending messages of support and encouragement whenever possible.

Little did I know that I myself would soon be treading the same path, and facing many of the same challenges that Shaz has faced – and faced with great fortitude and humour. She has been of immense support and encouragement to me, and recently, particularly this last week which has been so difficult for me, we have been emailing back and forth several times a day! Truly this cancer journey is an emotional rollercoaster and I have been experiencing some real highs and lows in the past weeks, and it is great to know that one has friends and allies rooting for one. On her recommendation, I have started my own Cancer Diary page on this blog (tab below blog header).

They arrived mid-afternoon and we had a great chat all together, over cups of coffee and tea. Our hubbies were getting on like a house on fire and my hubby ended up giving hers a pair of motorcycle boots – sadly my hubby has reluctantly agreed that he really should give up motorcycling after his broken wrist in the autumn. He has realised that he has caring responsibilities these days and it’s just too risky – his accident could have been an awful lot worse.

Shaz and I hit it off straight away, which I knew we would because we’re already great online buddies! She and I went upstairs for a chat and left the boys to it, and she has encouraged me greatly about having a stoma and managing the bag. There is nothing like chatting with someone who is already dealing with it, and she reassured me that it can all be dealt with quickly and easily, and become part of one’s daily routine.

I showed her round the house, including my gorgeous girlie bathroom as my hubby calls it, and of course showed her my ARTHaven, and we agreed that Really Useful Boxes are the best thing ever! Unfortunately I didn’t have much in the way of projects to show her – my desk is bare at the moment, in the continuing absence of Mr. Mojo and Mrs. Muse. I am not pushing for their return and they can continue with their extended holiday! I am sure they will return once I am out of hospital and well on my way with my convalescence.

We had such a lovely time all together, and hopefully we will be able to meet up again in the future. Shaz and I both agree that we have the best hubbies ever, and how wonderfully supportive they are being as we both go through this ordeal of cancer, surgery, and having a stoma.

Here is the picture I took – the two hubbies took some too but I haven’t got those yet.

Shaz and Doug's Visit 21-2-15

I also took this one of Shaz because she’s got reeeaaally cool hair!!

Shaz

My hubby is into treats mode at the moment and has got a few “spoilies” up his sleeve for the days before my hospital admission, and one of the things I am doing is to have my hair done the day before I go in. It is getting rather straggly so I’ve booked to have it tidied up a bit, and I want some streaks of colour – I am going to print this photo out and say “I want one of these”!! Actually, it won’t be all over – I am having streaks, but I’d love the dip-dyed look. If I keep my roots my current colour I won’t get a line as it starts to grow out, but if I can have sections with the dip-dyed look, starting a little way down from the roots, this should look good, and I will also be able to continue touching up the roots at home as the grey appears.

You only have to look at Shaz with her funky hair and clothes, and her wonderful smiling face, to know that she’s one feisty lady and great fun to be with! She’s a real friend.

Their visit was one of this week’s “spoilies” for me – what a lovely afternoon we all had!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

WOYWW 298

What’s on my workdesk this Wednesday? Again, nothing, I am sorry to say. Mr. Mojo and Mrs. Muse are still on their extended naughty holiday and are showing no sign of returning any time soon. I haven’t heard a word from them, not even a postcard.

Last time I didn’t have a picture to show you of my workdesk, it was suggested I put a picture of something else, so here goes.

Distorted Orange Peel 5

This is a picture of some orange peel which I took several years ago and manipulated using my photo editing software (Serif PhotoPlus). Make of it what you will!

I now have a date for my surgery – Friday 27th February. I saw the surgeon last Thursday. For those who don’t regularly follow my blog, you can see full details on my Cancer Diary page (click tab below blog header), but basically it has been decided that I require much more radical surgery than originally suggested. I am having the whole of my large bowel removed, and an ileostomy created, so I shall be a gutless bag lady for the rest of my life. Although I felt fine about it while I was talking to the surgeon, I have become increasingly freaked out by the whole idea and terrified I won’t cope – although I keep reassuring myself on the stoma forum I have joined. Lots of people have this done, and once they’ve recovered from the surgery and learnt how to manage, they live full and active lives (not that my life is ever what you might call active lol!).

This is major surgery, and I shall probably be in hospital at least a week. They won’t know till they send the tumour for histological examination what stage the cancer is, or how aggressive; this will determine whether or not I require chemotherapy after surgery.

I am now trying to organise things at this end to be ready for when I come home. We are trying to find some respite care for Mum until my convalescence is well under way, but she is unwilling to go and we’ve been having considerable problems with her, and I have suffered a lot of stress, which I had been told by the anaesthetist to avoid at all costs, but that’s easier said than done! I am trying hard to keep a positive attitude and a sense of humour but today have failed miserably. I am now feeling quite desperate, and wanting to run away from the whole situation and hide.

Everybody is being very kind and supportive, and in front of me on the sitting room table is a wealth of beautiful flowers to cheer me on my way.

Pre-Op Flowers

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

WOYWW 297

To find out how to join in the most fun nosey fest on the web, click on the WOYWW logo in my sidebar and you will end up at our hostess Julia’s blog, where all will be revealed.

Well, better late than never… About half an hour to go before this would be WOYWT – What’s on your workdesk Thursday!

In answer to that question, a repeat of last week: not a lot. Well, a tiny bit more than last week.

WOYWW 297 11 Feb

On the far right is a large acrylic block that has been out for weeks, waiting to be put away. On the mat is my iPod, and its case with the neck strap, and the earbuds. They have sound-reducing rubber tips which are supposed to stay pushed on, but in the past I have found they have a habit of popping off and getting lost, so I started gluing them on with Pinflair glue. This works extremely well, but after several months they work loose again. Today I stuck them back on again – I want them working properly when I go into hospital, and I’m going to make sure I’ve got lots of nice music and audio books on my iPod to keep me going. The case had also got a bit worn and developed a split, and I’ve mended that with Pinflair, too.

On the left of the iPod are three stamps, and at the back left, the wood blocks I have just pulled them off. These are all Stampotique stamps, and for some reason they only supply them mounted on wood blocks, which I don’t like, so I always peel them off and stick them on EZ-Mount Foam to use with acrylic blocks. The large one is the Kitty Squad stamp I bought several months ago and still haven’t used, and the medium one is their Medium Bee, which comes with the tiny bee on the side of the block. I’ve had their Large Bee for some time and have used it quite a lot, but it really is a bit big for a lot of projects, and these two smaller ones are gong to be very useful.

So much for my desk. In the past fortnight I have done precisely one embroidery piece for my bed decorations. Here it is.

21 Red and Green Paisley

Here are some detail shots.

22 Red and Green Paisley Detail

23 Red and Green Paisley Thick End Detail

24 Red and Green Paisley Thin End Detail

I do wish photos would pick up shiny stuff. The red triangles between the shi-sha mirrors, and the French knots between the small circles, are all worked in red lurex thread which sparkles, but in the photos it looks really dull. The photos simply don’t do it justice.

Mr. Mojo is still on his extended holiday (probably having a naughty vacation in some obscure south coast seaside resort with Mrs. Muse) so this is all I’ve managed to achieve, I’m afraid. It looks more and more likely that my poor hubby is not going to get the special Valentine card I promised myself I would make for him this year, to show how much I appreciate all he is, and does, especially at the moment… Maybe it will be OK for him to have it late?

Cancer update… On Friday the specialist nurse phoned after their meeting to say that the scan revealed that the cancer is confined to the bowel and has not spread, which is a great relief. This news was followed by a brief period of high elation, followed by total exhaustion and a long sleep in the afternoon, and when I woke up, I felt all unsettled again… I have it on good authority from other cancer sufferers that this emotional rollercoaster is perfectly normal, so I’m not fretting too much. I have also received my appointment to see the surgeon, and I will be going tomorrow lunch time, after which we should know a bit more. I’ve got a whole sheet of questions for him, some of which I am sure he will cover, and I shall be sure to write down all the answers!

Despite the reassurance by the anaesthetist last week that they take post-operative pain management very seriously these days, and I can expect a lot less pain than after my hysterectomy 20 years ago, I am still dreading the operation and feeling very nervous about it. I hope that he will tell me tomorrow when I shall be admitted. Watch this space (or at least, my Cancer Diary page) for updates.

The anaesthetist said it was essential that I kept stress to a minimum during this whole period, but this is proving more difficult to achieve than I thought. Things are not good with Mum again at the moment, after a period of much better behaviour, and we are making plans to deal with this, and I am intending mentioning this to the surgeon tomorrow and getting his opinion. I can’t say more at the moment but hopefully we’ll manage to achieve some peace and quiet, and the opportunity for me to have a good convalescence.

We seem to be so busy at the moment with all these hospital appointments and other things – we managed at last to get to the dentist this afternoon, having postponed so many appointments because of problems with Mum, and I now have the back of a couple of my front teeth thickened up with the new filling material they use these days – they had apparently worn very thin. At the moment it feels weird and I can’t bite down very well, but he says it will wear down a bit in the coming days and weeks. My hubby now has two collapsed teeth as a result of the delay, but the dentist says he can fix them and he doesn’t need any further extractions, which is good.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

A Sweet Gift

This morning my hubby went to church. Last week he told the curate about my cancer, and this week, two little girls in the Sunday school made me the sweetest gift! He came home absolutely thrilled with it, and knew I would be too. This is the first part.

Jesus Hug Hands

The two card hands are connected by a ribbon and he hung it round my neck! I love the little hearts for fingernails!

They also made me this card.

Healed by Jesus' Touch 1

It is a volvelle. I love volvelles. I’ve got some instructions for them and tried to make one once, but it was too small and didn’t work, so I abandoned it. You hold the tab and pull it round, and the picture changes into something else.

Here is the volvelle in the half-way position.

Healed by Jesus' Touch 2

This is how it looks fully rotated.

Healed by Jesus' Touch 3

Isn’t that adorable?

He also brought back one of the printouts that the girls made the card from, complete with instructions, which I can use again with other pictures.

Healed by Jesus' Touch Instructions

Finally, they sent me this chocolate lolly from Lidl.

Chocolate Bar

I thought this was so sweet of them, to make me all this, when they have never even met me! My hubby says it’s a lovely congregation. I did meet the curate once, when she came to a craft show in the church where we used to live, and we compared wheelchairs! My hubby told her last week that I was ill, and she got them together to do this. I am so touched.

I really appreciate the prayers and kind thoughts of all my friends around the world, at this difficult time in my life. God bless you all.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

WOYWW 296

What’s On My Workdesk this Wednesday? Absolutely nothing!

For details of how to enter the world’s most famous nosey fest, please click on the WOYWW logo in my sidebar and it will take you to our hostess Julia’s blog, where all with be revealed.

I thought I’d join in WOYWW this week, albeit rather late in the day, just  to say I had my anaesthetist’s appointment this morning, and I have updated my Cancer Diary page accordingly.

I have no picture for you today because there has again been absolutely no work done in my ARTHaven. I haven’t even managed to do any embroidery this week. I am still feeling very unsettled, waiting for further news about my bowel cancer. I have not yet got the follow-up appointment after the scan, and until I attend that appointment, we do not know exactly what we are dealing with, or how serious it is. As you will see from my diary, I do now have a lot more information about what is likely to happen before, during and after surgery, but the fine details have to be filled in by the surgeon when I see him.

Yesterday my hubby and I attended the first day of a four-day course for carers. The next three will take place on successive Tuesdays. They know we may not be able to attend them all, but handouts are available, and if necessary we can always enrol for the next one. These courses are offered free in our local area, and are run by an experienced nurse who has had to take a back seat from active nursing due to back trouble. She is now teaching, and running carers’ courses, and has the added advantage of having taken care of an elderly relative herself.

A beautifully presented sandwich lunch was provided, and as much tea or coffee as we wanted. The whole course is free of charge. We are being made aware of all the resources available to us, and individual needs are being met, and dealt with promptly. Hearing the experiences of the other members of the course made me feel extremely humble – compared with what some people have to put up with, caring for Mum is like a walk in the park.

We have also joined a local carers’ group which meets regularly in a local hotel for morning coffee and afternoon tea a couple of times a month. Again, we won’t make them all, but it will be a nice opportunity to meet others in our situation, and make new friends. I am impressed with how much is on offer in our area, but shocked at how little help some people are getting. A lot of this is down to not knowing what’s available, and an added problem is simply not being able to get away in order to take advantage of it.

I will keep you up to date with progress on the cancer front. I am hoping to have my laptop in hospital once I’m on the general ward and feeling up to it, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep in touch with everyone.

Happy WOYWW everyone, and if you happen to see my mojo on your travels, please give him a wave and tell him I miss him.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

WOYWW 295

For details of how to join in “What’s on your Workdesk Wednesday” please click on the WOYWW logo in my blog sidebar, which will take you to our hostess Julia’s blog, where all will be revealed.

Nothing on my desk this week, I’m afraid. Since my cancer diagnosis just over a week ago, I find myself unsettled and sans creative mojo, but I don’t suppose this is very surprising. I am not overly concerned  because I am sure it will return in due course. I am already thinking about a card for my hubby for Valentine’s day if I can only get sufficiently motivated!

Meanwhile, I have been enjoying relaxing on the recliner with my newly rediscovered embroidery – an ancient UFO (UnFinished Object) which I am coming to with renewed enthusiasm. Here are some pictures of the pieces I’ve done over the past few days, for anyone who hasn’t been visiting my blog in the meantime.

12 Purple Piece

13 Yellow and Purple Piece

14 Yellow and Purple Piece Detail

15 Large Shi-sha with Whipped Fly Stitch

17 Large Shi-sha with Whipped Fly Stitch Ultra Detail

18 Asymmetrical Whipped Fly Stitch

20 Asymmetrical Whipped Fly Stitch Ultra Detail

They will eventually be made up into decorative pieces for the new half-tester over my bed. The focal point on each piece is Indian mirror work (shi-sha). I am able to complete each one in a few hours. Although each piece is part of a much larger project, I can treat them as separate projects which are small enough to cope with! I am experimenting with new stitches, and am thrilled to find some variations on the basic shi-sha stitch which I have been doing for years. As with a lot of my projects, it is a learning curve and I always enjoy learning new skills! (I had a fun comment from Princess Judy who thinks shi-sha sounds very energetic, like doing the cha-cha but with thread! ROFL!!! Judy can always guarantee to make me laugh! I can assure you it is very relaxing, and much easier to do than dancing!!) I love the little mirrors and the gorgeous rich effect they give. I think shi-sha is my favourite form of embroidery.

I am going for my CT scan on Friday afternoon, after which they will know better exactly how to proceed. I definitely have to have surgery, whatever they find, but the scan should reveal how much, if at all, the cancer has spread, and what further treatment may be necessary. For those who have not visited recently, I have started a new page on my blog (see the tab “My Cancer Diary” just below the blog heading) where I shall be documenting my progress, treatment, and feelings. I am very grateful to our own lovely Shaz for her ongoing support and advice!

A happy WOYWW to everyone!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Shi-Sha Embroidery with Fly Stitch

Continuing my exploration into variations on the basic shi-sha stitch, I found a very pretty variation, which combines the basic shi-sha stitch with fly stitch, which is a bit like an open-ended detached chain stitch. After completing the stitches all round the shi-sha mirror, the overlapping fly stitches are whipped with a contrasting thread – I used double thickness to make it stand out a bit better.

This is a very pretty effect! For my first piece, I used one of my extra-large shi-sha mirrors, that measures about an inch across. Some of this is covered by the stitches holding it in place, of course.

15 Large Shi-sha with Whipped Fly Stitch

I didn’t actually do the middle quite right, and had to fudge it a bit, which makes it a bit messy. Just to make sure the mirror didn’t drop out, I added an extra row of stitching inside the “setting” – a row of detached buttonhole stitch in the red lurex thread (the sparkliness doesn’t show up on the photo, of course). I used the same thread for the inner outline of the motif. I also added a detached chain stitch on the point of each fly stitch. This single, large shi-sha mirror makes a lovely focal point to the design, I think.

Here are a couple of detail shots.

16 Large Shi-sha with Whipped Fly Stitch Detail

17 Large Shi-sha with Whipped Fly Stitch Ultra Detail

The green and red centre, covering the edge of the shi-sha, is actually more raised than shows in the photo. The whipping over the fly stitches is done with double thickness yellow thread, and I have used the same thread for the detached chain stitches around the edge.

I decided to do another one, this time getting the stitch correct, and adding an extra dimension by making it asymmetrical. This worked very well, and when I added the contrasting whipping, I added extra rows over the longer fly stitches.

18 Asymmetrical Whipped Fly Stitch

Again, a couple of detail shots.

19 Asymmetrical Whipped Fly Stitch Detail

20 Asymmetrical Whipped Fly Stitch Ultra Detail

In this second one, I added some French knots and other embellishments in my turquoise lurex thread. On the three circles below the main motif, in reality there is a lot more contrast between the centre and the edging but this doesn’t show because the camera won’t pick up the sparkle of the lurex thread. I also added a stitch in the centre of each of the larger overlapping fly stitches, using the same thread, to draw the design together.

Like with my recycled mini-album, this project is a learning curve and I am developing my skills as I do it! I love learning new things. I am very pleased to have found this website which has some brilliant tutorials on different embroidery stitches.

I am finding this embroidery project very therapeutic. Like Zentangle, there is a certain rhythm to embroidery, which is very absorbing and calming, and time seems to stand still! I am enjoying this particular project very much at the moment, because I am feeling pretty unsettled after hearing the news that I have cancer, and I am finding it impossible to settle to anything in my studio. Each of these motifs which make up a much larger whole, are like individual small projects and each one can be completed in a few hours. I am averaging about one per day, with the applique ground work having been done several years ago. I am working on them in the sitting room on the recliner, spreading my materials out on my small work table which lives in front of me. My creative mojo hasn’t exactly departed, I realise – it’s merely changed direction a bit.

I have updated my Cancer Diary page today.