Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

A somewhat frustrating day, but I have managed to achieve quite a bit today!

There have been some more firsts over the last couple of days: yesterday I did my first online grocery shop, and today it was delivered. It was a big shop, because my larder was fairly depleted, and I also needed new ingredients for the recipes I am keen to try. Yesterday I cleaned out the fridge freezer - very glad to have done this before the grocery delivery. It is all looking sparkly and clean now!

After putting the stuff away from the delivery, I suddenly realised that all this activity was starting to catch up with me, and I ran out of energy and had to rest. My idea of cooking supper bit the dust, and my hubby was back in the kitchen again... He is very good, and willing to take over when the need arises, I am glad to say. A bit frustrating, though. I am still very limited by my small reserves of energy. I so want to run before I can walk, and need to remember that I still have M.E. and will still suffer from “post-exertional malaise” – when the consequences of doing too much catch up with one, but the payback is delayed by a day or more. I have certainly been very busy over the past few days, trying to get the kitchen straight before my first online grocery shop.

I am already experiencing the problem of “too many cooks spoil the broth” – for the meal he prepared, my hubby used some curry sauce I bought today, that I was planning to use it for something else! This transitional period, when we are both cooking, is bound to be problematic, and certainly more difficult than when he was doing all the cooking and shopping. It’s going to be hard to keep track of exactly what I’ve got in the larder and planning the meals, and he may be called upon to do the odd bit of shopping until I can get straight.

While all this is going on, I still have several upcoming hospital appointments:

Thurs. 12th Nov. (tomorrow): Pre-assessment for my procedure next week.

Tues. 17th Nov.: Appointment with the support garments lady in the stoma clinic.

Wed. 18th Nov.: Investigation of what is left of my rear end under general anaesthetic, by my surgeon, Mr. Pullan, in the Day Surgery Unit. His registrar was unable to make a thorough investigation at the end of October because it was too uncomfortable, and it required more time than he had.

Thurs. 19th Nov.: CT scan, to see if there is any evidence of cancer still in my body.

Fri. 27th Nov.: Bloods and port flush on the Ricky Grant (chemo) Day Unit.

Mon. 30th Nov.: Oncology appointment, when I am hoping to get the cancer all-clear!

I had two letters from the appointments clerk at the hospital today, one relating to my pre-assessment appointment tomorrow, and the other to the procedure itself, together with a leaflet detailing what to expect and how to prepare.

Yesterday I counted up just how many appointments I've had at the hospital, and not counting my stay in hospital for my surgery, it has so far been 43! Add on the ones to come that I know about and it's 49! I have spent a great deal of time there, and my hubby has driven me there every time, and been so supportive throughout.

Now the kitchen is sorted, I am hoping to be able to start cooking in earnest, and also to be able to get back to being creative in the studio again, but with all these hospital visits, I’m not sure how long it will be before I’m in a more relaxed and manageable routine again. I just have to learn to pace myself and not expect too much before I’m ready. Having felt so much better, and then having a bit of a crash this afternoon, this is very hard. I’m still far from where I need to be, and it’s going to take time. It’s all about getting the balance right between activity and rest, and not getting frustrated, and I’m not very good at this! You’d think after living with M.E. for 8 years that I’d have pacing down to a fine art, and before the cancer, I was managing it pretty well, but this has upset the balance and now I’m in the recovery period, it’s a whole new learning curve and I feel like a novice again.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Completion of Florabunda Alphabet

Last night I finally completed the Florabunda alphabet I’ve been working on, with the letters K to Z, so I can now make personalised cards for all my friends, even those whose names begin with X lol!

Here is the complete set.

01 Alphabet A-E - Sept 15

02 Alphabet F-J - Oct 15

03 Alphabet K-O Nov 15

04 Alphabet P-T Nov 15

05 Alphabet U-Z Nov 15

Health Update

At long last I am starting to feel better! The final chemo just over three weeks ago certainly made its presence felt and the effects went on well into week 3 of the cycle, which was unusual because with previous treatments, by week 3 I was always feeling a lot better. It was doubly surprising that it went on so long, because the final treatment, like the penultimate one, was at a reduced dose. I am still getting peripheral neuropathy, mostly in my feet now, which is strange because I’ve had more trouble with it in my hands previously – it seems to be there a lot of the time, giving me feelings of numbness and pins and needles, particularly in my toes, and it seems unrelated to cold, too. I shall mention this to the oncologist when I next see her.

I have now started to pick up the threads of my life again, doing some domestic tasks. It may sound funny, but I am so enjoying this! It is making me feel a lot more human again, and in control of my life. My hubby has been so wonderful looking after me all this time but I really feel it’s high time I took back a lot of what he’s been doing, and started looking after him again after so many months.

Here are the “firsts” in getting my life back again!

Thursday: I did my first batch of laundry. Since going into hospital, my lovely cleaning lady has been doing this for me, apart from the odd bit of hand washing that I’ve managed to keep up with.

Friday: First lot of ironing.

Saturday: I got up and got my own breakfast for the first time. Since my operation, my hubby has been bringing me breakfast in bed. First washing up – I did the breakfast things! A gentle introduction. I also finished the ironing. I sorted the larder cupboards in the kitchen and made a list of what we’ve got, and what we need. I started making my first shopping list for the online order I shall be doing in the coming week.

Sunday: I went to church for the first time since May, when I had recovered sufficiently from my operation, just before I started my chemo. I was quite overwhelmed by the lovely welcome I received – everybody was surprised and delighted to see me back and I got a LOT of hugs! Everyone said how well I was looking. I would have easily forgiven them for forgetting me altogether, it’s been so long since I showed my face in the place! I washed up the evening meal dishes. Soon I will be cooking the evening meal, too!

Monday (today): I sorted the freezer and defrosted it. Much as I hate having to throw food away, I did have to throw away a bit, because it was too old. Once I’m back in the driving seat as far as the cooking and shopping are concerned, I shall have a proper idea of what we’ve got, and what needs eating first, etc. etc. and this won’t happen again. I have also re-started my diet – I am on the 5:2 diet, where you restrict your diet to a maximum of 500 cals for two days of the week and eat normally for the other five. I had to abandon this, on the advice of my surgeon, in advance of my operation, in order to keep my strength up and allow my body to recover. Although I have gained some weight during this time, I have managed to keep it on a more or less even keel, which I am pleased about, but now it is time to resume the downward trend and hopefully to reach my target weight by next summer.

During the coming week, I’ve got the fridge to sort and clean out, and the small freezer (part of the fridge-freezer in the kitchen). I also need to clean the hob and possibly the oven but I may ask my cleaning lady to do the latter lol!! There’s a box of food out on the counter where my hubby has been putting his food shopping for easy access for his cooking, and this needs sorting and the stuff putting away, and then I can clean that counter, including all the crumbs from the toaster! Tomorrow morning I shall finalise my online shopping list and then do the order in the afternoon, and request the delivery for Wednesday, as I used to do before. I am hoping to cook the first evening meal on Wednesday.

I am also trying to be good, and going to bed earlier than I am used to, so that I can get up earlier. The trouble is, my M.E. messes with my internal clock, and I tend to be mentally alert in the small hours, and do not feel at all ready to go up at midnight! I am trying to go up to bed at 12.20 a.m. at the latest. Since I have been doing this, I have not been sleeping well (waking frequently) which is what always happens if I go up before I feel ready, but this time I am determined to try and educate my body and put up with the wakefulness until it settles down into a new routine.

This whole cancer journey has brought me to a new start in my life, and I am determined to set up good habits from now on. I seem to be at my best for doing things in the mornings, so I am putting my feet up in the afternoons and evenings and not overdoing things. I have been needing a sleep in the afternoons but this may not last forever as I gradually recover my strength.

I am also hoping to be able to start spending some quality time in the studio doing art and being creative! Initially a lot of my energy will be taken up just getting things straight in the house again, but once this settles down and I’m properly into a routine, I am looking forward to spending time up there, probably mostly in the mornings, depending on how my energy levels pick up.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Some More Florabunda Alphabet Letters

Yesterday I drew some more Florabunda alphabet letters, and have now done F to J. I noticed that the first few looked a bit sparse compared with later ones, so I added some more flowers to the backgrounds and re-scanned them, so they are now more of a piece.

Only 16 more to do and the alphabet will be complete! Here’s how it looks so far.

First Ten Letters

These will be nice to use on personalised cards, and now that they are scanned in, I can make them whatever size I want. I can also colour them if I want, but so far I quite like them in black and white.

Yesterday I made a leaflet which I want to show to the organisers of the cancer information centre at the hospital when I next visit. I am hoping they will allow me to run an informal group of say half a dozen people, so that I can teach them the basics of the Zentangle method of drawing. I do not profess to be a teacher and am not a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) but in a small way, I think I could share what I know, and get people started on what is a most relaxing and fulfilling activity, which is very de-stressing, and could really help people to deal with their cancer/chemo a little better. I do hope they will agree to let me do this!

Leaflet for the Lodge

If they give me the go-ahead, I can adapt this leaflet and make it into a poster, with their contact number and details on it.

Health Update

I am now well into my second week of my final chemo cycle, and have been feeling pretty terrible for the past two or three days. This happened last time too, on the reduced dose – I thought I was getting away with it because I felt so good in week 1 compared with other cycles, and then it hit me big time in week 2! This time, it’s worse, and I’ve had symptoms I haven’t had since earlier on in my treatment – I felt a bit nauseous this morning but fortunately that passed before lunch because I took my pre-lunch anti-sickness meds. Also, the peripheral neuropathy was quite troublesome this morning, and again my hands seemed to seize up, but these symptoms are transitory, thank goodness. I suppose that I should expect this, because even with the reduced dose, the effects are cumulative. I’ve felt extremely wiped out again, not helped by the fact that for the past few nights I have slept very badly, and I had a sleep this afternoon. I’ve felt very weak and wobbly, and my balance is much worse than usual so I am having to be careful moving around the house. I am using my trolley rather than my crutches and that does help.

I know that this will pass, and that by the end of this week I should be feeling a lot better again! Knowing that feeling better is no longer a prelude to being cast down to the bottom again by another treatment is having a huge psychological benefit, and I can put up with anything in the knowledge that this is temporary, and that I am now at the beginning of the road back to being my “normal” self again!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Card Factory 2015–Two Bee Cards

First Two Bee Cards

My next collection of cards for the Card Factory is on the theme of bees. I have made two so far.

I began by inking up some backgrounds cut from offcuts of card from other projects in the Card Factory, using my new Fossilised Amber distress ink, smooshing and spritzing it on my craft sheet and dragging the card pieces through the wet ink. I always keep my offcuts in case I want to make something smaller with them – waste not, want not!!

01 Fossilised Amber Inked Backgrounds

First Card

The first card has a die-cut window with a bee in it, with its wings embellished with Glossy Accents.

I embossed one of the inked backround pieces, using a Fiskar’s texture plate in a honeycomb pattern, using my Cuttlebug.

02 Honeycomb Embossing with Fiskar's Texture Plate

It didn’t show up very much, so I inked over the top, using my brayer to apply Vintage Photo distress ink to the raised pattern, and then I distressed the edges with the same ink, using a home-made ink blending tool.

03 Inking Embossing with Brayer

I cut a window in the top, using one of my new Dorice circle dies. It was really funny about these dies. I ordered them some time ago on Ebay, and was told there was a fairly long delivery date on them. I was convinced I had received them, and couldn’t find them anywhere, and got very frustrated looking for them, turning the place upside down and wasting lots of energy in the effort! Then I got an email last week saying they’d been dispatched, and a few days ago, they arrived! Did I dream them? Anyway, I am glad they did eventually turn up, and I hadn’t lost them after all!

04 Cutting the Window with Circle Die

After cutting the window, I stamped my medium bee from Stampotique Originals onto another offcut of card, using sepia archival ink.

05 Stamping the Bee

I inked the background with more Fossilised Amber distress ink, using an Inkylicious Ink Duster.

06 Inking the Bee Background

Here is the window with the bee in it. I embellished its wings with Glossy Accents.

07 The Bee in the Window with Glossy Accents

I matted and layered the honeycomb piece onto some thin brown card with a slightly marbled effect, and then mounted it onto a white A5-folded-to-A6 sized piece of card which I had previously distressed around the edges with Fossilised Amber distress ink. Here is the card completed card.

08 Completed Card

The sentiment was stamped on another offcut of card, using one of my clear sentiment stamps that I got when I first started, and I’m afraid I don’t know the name of the set or the manufacturer. This small strip was matted onto the same brown card as the main part of the card, after I’d inked it with a little Fossilised Amber and distressed the edges with Vintage Photo distress inks.

Second Card

For the second card, I wanted to make a grid background, stamping with the tiny bee that came with the medium bee stamp I used for the first card. I worked out a suitable spacing for alternately spaced rows of bees and I’ve kept a note of this in the packet with the stamps so I can refer to it again. It took quite a while to work out, and then a little while longer to draw out on the background piece, but at least this way I get a nice even result, and it’s worth the trouble, I think.

I stamped the small bees using sepia archival ink, stamping right over the edges of the background piece to give a nice overall effect. You can see the grid lines I have drawn.

01 Stamping the Bees on the Grid

I took the circular piece of honeycomb that I saved from the first card after I’d cut the window, and inked the edges, and those of the background piece, with Fossilised Amber distress ink, using my home-made ink blending tool.

02 Stamped Bees on Inked Background

I stamped the circular piece using the medium bee stamp, and heat-embossed it in gold. I made another sentiment strip the same as for the first card.

As before, I distressed the edges of the A5-folded-to-A6 white card base with Fossilised Amber distress ink, and assembled the card.

03 Completyed Card

I have got several more background pieces inked and ready to be made up into more bee cards for this set.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Card Factory 2015–Small Zentangle Cards

Here is a collection of six small Zentangle cards that I assembled today.

03 Six Completed Zentangle Cards

These Zentangle designs are some of my early ones, when I first started tangling. I scanned them so I could print them out and use them when I wanted. Some time ago, matted them onto black card in readiness to make into cards, and then never got round to it.

01 Six Zentangle Designs

I decided to add stamped sentiments to each of these cards, and used a selection from the Stamin’ Up sets that I have.

02 Stampin' Up Sentiment Stamps

Here they are individually.

04 Get Well

05 Thinking of You

06 Celebrate Today

07 Thank You for Caring

08 Congratulations

09 Happy Birthday

All the cards have the identical sentiment stamped inside, apart from the “Thank you for caring” one which has a simple “Thank You” inside. Each one has the Zentangle explanation stuck to the back as well.

Most of these will probably go to the chemo unit for sale.

This was a relatively quick project to make, because the designs were already matted, and all I had to do was cut and score the card bases and stick the designs down, and do the stamping. They are all A6 size, when folded.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Card Factory 2015–Foiled Cards and another Florabunda Card

Today I made up three quick cards. The first two were made from my Florabunda Floral Mandala design which my friend Lucy foiled for me, one in gold and one in purple.

01 Two Foiled Cards

The gold one:

02 Gold Foiled Card

and the purple one.

03 Purple Foiled Card

Always hard to photograph shiny and reflective surfaces, but I hope you get the idea! I kept the matting and layering fairly simple. The gold one just has a 1/16-in matt layer made from gold mirror card, and then straight onto the white card base. I thought that was all that was required, to keep it clean and simple.

I didn’t have any purple mirror card so I used silver, again at 1/16-in, and then some of the pale purple glitter card from the collection I have used for other cards in this Card Factory.

Both simple designs, but with some impact, I think.

While I was having my final chemo on Friday, I did a bit more colouring with coloured pencils, this time in reds, oranges, yellows and a bit of purple, on my Flowers in a Circle Florabunda design, so I made up that card this morning as well.

05 Flowers in a Circle - Red, Yellow & Purple with Coloured Pencils

I made the 1/16-in matt layer from orange glitter card from the same pack, and then onto a wider matt of plain cream card. Again, quite simple, but co-ordinating with the design and colour scheme of the card.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

A Brief Visit to Babbacombe

After my final chemo yesterday, I wasn’t feeling at all bad today, and well up to a short outing this afternoon. We had arranged to take our neighbour out for a little run as she needs a lot of cheering up at the moment, so we went back to Babbacombe sea front and had a wander up and down looking at the sea, and then we went for a coffee. Again, I used my new small buggy and it was a doddle trundling about, and it is small enough to go in the cafe too. All very satisfactory – so lovely to be able to get it in the car, so we can go further afield and we have a real sense of freedom.

I love the sea in all its moods. Whenever we visit, it never looks the same. Today, being a slightly cloudy day, the sea was an azure grey. I hope I have managed to capture the subtle colours – I had to do a bit of editing in my photo editing software (Serif PhotoPlus) to get back a little of the blueness and I think I got it as I remember it. I am getting a bit more confident using the camera on my phone now, and had little difficulty in transferring the photos to the laptop this evening – after all the hassle I had yesterday!!

In the first picture, you can see that there has been further landslip from the cliff that collapsed so disastrously a couple of years ago in the winter storms, taking a house with it. There is some fresh red sandstone colouring the slide which my hubby pointed out to us.

01 A Further Landslip

The azure sea!

02 Azure Sea

Looking back to the buildings on the sea front, I saw the moon through a gap in the clouds. Despite my best efforts, I cannot get back the outline of the moon – only the brightness through the clouds! It’s quite impressive, though!

03 The Moon Through the Clouds

A more regular view of the little statue of Countess Mount Temple than the previous picture I took, in silhouette from the slope which goes down to the left of the statue. She was a local Victorian philanthropist. Every day someone puts a fresh flower in her hand.

04 Countess Mount Temple

After our stroll along the sea front, we went for a drink in the Cliff Railway Cafe. You can see the sea view through the window. We didn’t go down the funicular railway this time as it wasn’t very bright weather and we needed to rest a bit. (Of course, as we got back to the car park, the sun came out! Typical…)

05 Sea View from Cliff Railway Cafe

I had to take a photo of our three beverages because they looked so pretty and the china was such fun! Our neighbour had tea (not yet poured); my hubby had a latte with a very pretty design on the top, and I had a cappuccino.

06 Our Beverages

It was only a short outing today. On the way back, my hubby took our neighbour into Sainsbury’s to help her do her shopping, and I sat in the car and did a bit in my puzzle book and then dozed off for 10 or 15 minutes. Compared with how I would usually be on the first day after a treatment on the full dose, when I would be pole-axed on the recliner incapable of anything, I did remarkably well today and haven’t had to have a long sleep! The peripheral neuropathy has been a bit troublesome so I’ve had the gloves back on, but apart from that I’m remarkably well. Last time, on the reduced dose, I did pretty well in week 1 of the cycle, but crashed in week 2 – if this happens again I shan’t mind because I know it’s only temporary, and this time there is no further treatment to follow, so I shall simply continue to get better as the effects of the chemo gradually diminish from my system. Roll on the day! I count my blessings every day and am so thankful that I am doing so well – my recovery is now well in sight, and everyone at the hospital is very pleased with me, and are sure that the cancer is all gone.

Friday, 16 October 2015

I Have Finished my Chemo!

The second of two posts for today. Please scroll down to see my latest Florabunda card collection – worth seeing as the Perfect Pearls are just gorgeous!

I have posted an edited entry from my Cancer Diary page into the main blog because it is such an important event, and I know that not everybody visits the Cancer Diary. Edit: I have been experiencing problems with Blogger (again…) and am unable to post from Blogger’s editor so my latest Cancer Diary page has not yet been updated. Unfortunately I cannot post to any page except the Home Page on my blog from Windows Live Writer, which is my preferred blog editor. Further edit: I have now discovered that this is a problem with Firefox. I can successfully publish posts to my Cancer Diary page if I use Chrome – not my preferred browser, so I am hoping Firefox will resolve this issue in double quick time!

I keep being quite overwhelmed by the fact that today I had my final chemo session! I wonder when I am going to wake up and find that it is not true and that I still have loads to get through... Recently I got really fed up with feeling ill all the time, and wondered if I'd ever get through it but the time has simply raced away, and suddenly I was facing the final session.

I had to wait for nearly an hour before being seen, but in the end this was a blessing in disguise (more later). I was taken in and prepared for the chemo as usual, and then went into the treatment bay. I began by eating the lovely packed lunch my hubby had so kindly made for me, and continued through the afternoon with a combination of a bit of colouring for my Florabunda card project, reading my book, and doing part of a puzzle, and chatting with some really lovely people. One lady told me she’d recently had a colostomy and wasn’t dealing well with it. I had a chat with her and said that how she felt did not alter the fact of it being part of her life, and that a change of attitude would really help her. I shared my story, and also gave her quite a few hints that I have learnt along the way. I got some nice feedback from one of the nurses later, that this lady had found the conversation very helpful. I shall be very happy if any of my experiences over the past year can be used to help others even in a small way.

The atmosphere is so friendly on the unit and even people whose cancer is terminal have the most amazing upbeat attitude and are full of smiles, and the resolution to make the absolute best of whatever life remains to them, and everyone emphasises the importance of family, of love, of appreciating each and every day, of counting one's blessings - all those things that money cannot buy, and which are of infinite worth. All attitudes and thoughts I have been cultivating over the past months! The nurses are also all amazing, and the clerical staff too - there is a lot of laughter in what is a happy place, despite the seriousness of its raison d'etre. Logically, it should be a place of doom and gloom and depression, but the resilience of the human spirit, and love and caring, make it quite otherwise.

My hubby arrived while I still had about a quarter of an hour of chemo infusion to go, and then I saw the machine count down from one minute to zero, and my final beeps began, and I raised all my imaginary flags! The nurse who had been looking after me today, came and did all the necessaries to finish my treatment, and I was free to go.

By this time, because of the delay at the start, all the other patients had gone, and the nurses were not all rushing around being ultra-busy, so I got my phone out and said I wanted some photos of me with them all. They were all very enthusiastic about the idea, apart from one who wailed, "I haven't got any makeup on!!" in very good humour, and was instantly shouted down, in equally good humour and a lot of laughter ("We haven't got time to wait two hours..." "I've got some permanent markers in my locker..." etc. etc.!!) We called Emma, my favourite desk clerk of the team who work on reception, and she came and joined in the photo shoot too.

Here are the photos I took of the Ricky Grant Day unit (looking very strange with no patients!) - you will see what a lovely place it is, and how they have gone to a lot of trouble to introduce restful pastel shades, and a lot of pale wood panelling, to make it look less "hospitally." The first photo shows the corner of the reception desk, looking down the further corridor, which has doors off to the right with separate treatment rooms, some of which have couches in them for people to rest on while they have their chemo. You can see the drip trolleys on the left, which are used for the treatments.

Looking back the other way from reception, you can see the wide corridor that also serves as the waiting area. As usual in every hospital waiting room I have ever been in, there are NO spaces to park wheelchairs, with the result that I ALWAYS feel as if I'm in the way! I have written this on numerous feedback sheets but so far nothing has happened to remedy this - considering how many disabled people attend hospitals, I think this is quite an oversight. On the far right of the foreground of this photo you can see the large rubbish bin, the space in front of which has become my favoured parking place! (Make of that what you will, lol!)

02 Ricky Grant Day Unit Waiting Area

Behind the seats in the waiting area are two wide gaps giving access into the two treatment bays. The next picture shows the first one, where I have always gone. On the right, between the windows, you can see a low dividing wall which separates the two areas. The second area has a wide-screen TV on the wall. It looks very odd with no patients sitting in the chairs (you can see one of the recliners in the corner - my preferred seating as they are very comfortable, and the other chairs certainly are not - at least for me!), and the occasional tables which have jars of sweets for people to suck to take away the horrible taste of the chemo. Along the wall, on the white strip, are numerous power points to plug in the drip machines.

Here is Emma, my favourite reception clerk, at the desk. If you look carefully it looks as if she's got three arms. This is because one of the nurses was hiding behing her, unbeknownst to her, and raising two fingers above her head, which you can just see if you look very carefully! Lol!

Finally, here is the group shot my hubby took. I am leaning back with my arms around the two nearest to me, and I look so FAT!!! (OK, I AM fat, but not as fat as I used to be!) You can see how happy everybody looks.

I was sorry that several of the lovely nurses who have looked after me over the past six months were not present today. I shall be emailing one of them with the photo so that she can pass it on to the others. They were all exceptional people, so friendly and encouraging and helpful, and efficient in their work - so sad that they are so busy because there is so much cancer about. They are unfailingly cheerful, remember our names, and give us the very best treatment. As we were leaving, Emma gave me a questionnaire to fill in about what I felt about my treatment, and I gave them a five-star rating on every count, and in the comments section, said that if chemo could ever be considered to be fun, it would be, given the nature of the truly wonderful staff on the unit, and that they all deserved a gold medal with diamonds on it. When I started writing, they all started chipping in with remarks like, "I (Emma) am the most efficient clerk on the unit," and "I am the best nurse," and "I am the most beautiful nurse" etc. etc.!!! Eventually I cried out "Stop! If I start writing that I'll forget someone and they will get upset" lol! We had such a good laugh.

Although I am absolutely 100 percent delighted that my chemo is now finished, I am going to miss going to Ricky Grant and receiving such loving and caring treatment. I shall be going back, though - I have an appointment in six weeks' time for port flushing and bloods, and will probably be returning in the future for further blood tests until I am guaranteed clear of the cancer, so I shall be seeing them all periodically, just not on such a regular basis.

I also want to make more things for the chemo people. I have been thinking about this, and while I simply love to give things away, and would be happy to continue to do this, it occurred to me that if I charged a token amount for each item, the gift would be a double wammy, because the recipient would have something nice to treasure without breaking the bank, and the unit would benefit from more much needed funds, so that they can continue to give others the excellent care that I have received. There is a box on the reception desk with cards in it that people have made, and I could certainly do some for them in my own style, and I could make other items too. I have gained so much from my six months' attendance on the unit and it would be a nice way to put something back, and also an opportunity to call in every now and then and catch up with everybody.

My hubby took me home after this, and I really wasn't feeling too bad. I managed to eat a nice evening meal, and while I do feel slightly peculiar, and have had a little peripheral neuropathy in my hands after touching something cold, it is not there in a big way and I haven't resorted to my gloves. Like last time, I may find that week 1 is pretty good, and I may crash again in week 2, but we shall see.

I think that already, the effects are less severe because my whole attitude has changed now that the treatment has finished. I am feeling so good that phase 3 of my journey is now at an end (phase 1 being preparation for surgery and then the actual operation and hospital stay; phase 2 being learning to manage Kermit, my stoma, and phase 3 being the chemo). Phase 4 can now be called "the recovery phase" when I can really concentrate on getting well. I am convinced that I am going to be OK now; they are all very optimistic at the hospital that all the cancer has gone. I shall do my best with eating the right foods to help my body expell the residue of toxic chemicals from my system, and my positive attitude and determination will also help me along the way.

What a journey this has been! Phase 4 will include the CT scan and further blood tests in the next 4-6 weeks, and then ongoing for the next five years. At some point I shall have to go in to have the port removed, but they will most likely leave it in for a while until they are sure it won't be needed any more, and this means I shall have to return to the Ricky Grant unit for it to be flushed every six weeks if it has not been used. However, during phase 4, I shall be concentrating on getting my life back on track at home, and gradually taking on my previous roles on the domestic front, relying on my hubby on the days when I am feeling not so good - he has had plenty of practice and I am sure he won't mind stepping into the breach when necessary. I am not intending to rush into doing too much and setting myself back, but I shall be sensible and continue to listen to my body.

Amazingly, today, the "Daily Blessing" in my side bar has come up with this:

Daily Blessing
Friday October 16, 2015

Today's Verse:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13,14 / KJV

How appropriate.

Card Factory 2015–Florabunda Mandala Cards with Perfect Pearls

The first of two posts for today.

My next collection of cards is the Floral Mandala design, which I decided to colour with Perfect Pearls, to give a rich, jewel-like shimmering effect which would emphasise the complexity of the design, which has a somewhat Islamic feel.

15 Four Finished Cards

The original design, printed on the laser printer.

04 Floral Mandala - Sept 15

Some time ago, I created a Perfect Pearls palette to make painting easier. I used a Tim Holtz ink palette, and followed the instructions from Creations by Christie. Here is my palette, together with the first Mandala that I painted, using a fine brush dipped in water, and picking up the colour from the palette.

01 Painting with Perfect Pearls

The completed painting.

02 First Mandala Painted

A word about one of the amazing properties of Perfect Pearls. Some of the colours exhibit interference properties. A good explanation of how this works can be seen here. The mica flakes in Perfect Pearls and other pearlescent/iridescent or interference pigments act like a diffraction grating, and the same principle  can be found in action in the iridescent and shimmering colours of peacock feathers and certain butterflies’ wings and beetles – these are not actual pigments but are visible as the result of how light is reflected and refracted off different surfaces at the microscopic level.

I suppose it’s because I am such a fan of bling and shimmering and metallic colours that I love this effect so much!

I recently had a foray into Twinkling H2Os which work on the same principle, but I did not find them as satisfactory as the Perfect Pearls in my palette – with a moistened paintbrush you can apply these fairly thickly and you get a very rich, iridescent and shimmery effect.

Several of the Perfect Pearls are labelled as “interference” colours, such as “Inteference Red,” and “Interference Blue,” but some of the other colours exhibit this property too, such as “Berry Twist” (one of my favourites) and “Blue Raspberry.”

When viewed at one angle, the colours appear somewhat dull and dark, but turn the piece into the light at another angle, and the shimmering colours emerge. I have photographed each of my pieces in turn, showing first the duller version and then the bright, shimmery version, so that you can see this principle in action. Some of the colours just appear brighter, while others actually change to a different colour. Compare the two pictures and see. These photos also serve to give you a close-up view of the drawing and painting.

First, the card with the red mount (the first one I painted).

03 Mandala with Red Mount - Interference 1

04 Mandala with Red Mount - Interference 2

The card with the blue mount.

05 Mandala with Blue Mount - Interference 1

06 Mandala with Blue Mount - Interference 2

The card with the purple mount.

07 Mandala with Purple Mount - Interference 1

08 Mandala with Purple Mount - Interference 2

Finally, the card with the orange mount.

09 Mandala with Orange Mount - Interference 1

10 Mandala with Orange Mount - Interference 2

Now a picture of each of the finished cards in turn, with details of the matting and layering.

For the red one, I opened a pack of decorative papers that I bought simply donkey’s years ago – so long ago that the shop closed a long time ago! This paper is rather thin, but it works fine for this. This card first had a 1/16-in matt layer of gold mirror card.

11 Mandala with Red Mount - Completed Card

For the blue one, I created a 1/16-in matt layer with green mirror card from my stash. I didn’t think I’d be very likely to use this one, which someone gave me some time ago, but it turned out to be perfect for this card, with its blue-and-green colour scheme. The wider mount was created from a piece of scrap blue card which is quite thick and excellent quality, with a slight hammered texture, which had been the cover of a brochure (never throw anything out lol!).

12 Mandala with Blue Mount - Completed Card

For the purple one, I chose a piece of gold wrapping paper for the 1/16-in matt layer. The gold Perfect Pearls I used for this design was “Heirloom Gold” which is a softer, less bright gold than “Perfect Gold” which I used for the others, as I wanted a more subtle effect, and I thought that regular gold mirror card would also be too bright. This gift-wrap paper is quite thin compared with the gold mirror card, but it worked just fine. For the wider matt layer I used some more of the glitter card that I used for the narrow matt layers in my Brusho Trees cards project the other day.

13 Mandala with Purple Mount - Completed Card

For the final card, with the orange mount, I again used gold mirror card for the 1/16-in matt layer, and some orange glitter card as above.

14 Mandala with Orange Mount - Completed Card

By using different colours, and emphasising different areas of the same design, it is amazing the different results one can get, which makes them look almost like different drawings! It has been great fun experimenting with this, and certainly something I would wish to continue with.