Friday, December 26, 2008

It seems like winter came overnight

We had a nice warm sunny fall with almost no snow. The ground was totally clear. Then, all of a sudden, we had almost three feet of snow on the ground. OK, I admit it. We were out of town for a week and a half. When we left it was still fall and there was no snow on the ground. By the time we got home winter had arrived and there was lots of snow everywhere. And that was before the big storm we had for Christmas. We're still digging out.

Back to the out-of-town thing... I was defending my dissertation and finally earning my PhD! Yippee, that is finally over. I put a lot of time into writing my thesis this fall and I am really glad to be done with it and to get on with my life. And my knitting :) I plan to do a bunch of skiing this year to make up for not being able to ski last winter (due to the big bone tumor scare).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Drama is over...Woo-hoo!

Oops, I have taken longer than I meant to to update the blog. It took a while to recover from the emotional roller coaster this year started with. And we've had guests, and other life stuff.

The trip to the orthopedic oncologist went better than we could have imagined. The oncologist disagreed with the local docs and said that my tumor was not a GCT, and was not even serious at all. It is just an Enchondroma, which is a chunk of cartilage and nothing to worry about. All I have to do is get x-rays every six months for a couple of years and make sure it doesn't change. He doesn't think it should even be biopsied! From the beginning, I was told that I would need to have the tumor removed and get a bone graft, no matter what kind of tumor it was. This guy said there is no reason for that. He said I have probably had this thing most of my life, so if the structure of the bone was compromised, I would have broken it by now. I am FINE! Well, I still want to get the meniscus fixed, but for now, I am enjoying the fact that nothing has to be done.

And, Jack's diabetes is coming under control. Of course we have to keep an eye on him, and poke him with needles, but he is doing really well and has regained all the weight he lost.

Life is good!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Drama of 2008

Well, this year has begun with plenty of drama. Let's hope we are just getting it out of the way early!

My last post was just prior to a trip to the doctor to get my MRI results, which was the beginning of the first drama. The MRI did show the suspected (medial) meniscal tear. It also had a (lateral) surprise. There is a tumor in the head of my fibula (2cm x2cm) just below the knee. Before I get into the details, I want to point out that my tumor is probably not malignant. I went to the orthopedic surgeon, and he took x-rays, scheduled a biopsy, ordered a bone scan, got the results of the bone scan, canceled the biopsy, and referred me to an orthopedic oncologist. There are only 3 orthopedic oncologists in northern California, so it is kind of hard to get in to see them. I'm not sure if it is good or bad news when an oncologist reviews your records and accepts you as a patient, but I have been accepted by the clinic at UCSF. They suspect that I have a Giant Cell Tumor (GCT) which is locally aggressive but rarely spreads elsewhere. The bone scan showed that my tumor is fairly active metabolically, which is why the ortho canceled the biopsy and sent me to the specialist, but doesn't appear to be as aggressive as a cancer. Following the appointment with the specialist, the first week in March, I will have a much better idea of what kind of tumor I have and what the treatment will be. I will need surgery to remove the tumor and bone grafting to fill the hole, which I expect to have by the middle of March. I have no idea how big a deal all of that is and how long the recovery will be.

Concurrently, we started to notice that something was wrong with our bad dog, Jack. We had been very worried about him, because he was terribly ill and had lost significant amounts of weight (muscle). He was heading downhill rapidly, when we found out that he is diabetic. We were thrilled that he had something treatable. Jack has been on insulin for 9 days now and is doing much better. He has even gained back a pound and is up to his old misbehaving tricks. Jack doesn't seem to mind the twice daily insulin shots, and even puts up with the blood glucose monitoring. He'd rather not get his lip pricked for the blood sample, but he really will do anything for food. When I asked the vet, he told me that if left untreated, Jack was days to weeks from dying. Wow. Even if it had been been caught later, he would still have been treatable, but he was a pretty sick dog.

So, yes, we have our share of drama around here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Skier!

I finally came out of denial and had an MRI on my knee last week and will go get the scoop from the doctor on Monday. So, what have I been doing lately? SKIING!! Maybe the MRI was like a major magnetic therapy session, because the knee isn't bothering me too much, even after skiing the last couple of mornings. Yippee!

I hurt my knee while wake boarding over the summer. It hurt to walk for at least 3 weeks, but eventually felt better. Unfortunately, it would flare up throughout the fall, when I tried to do fun things, like hiking. I really wish I had dealt with it back then. But I didn't. I was in denial. In December, once we had gotten a bunch of snow, it was time to go skiing. It was the Saturday before Christmas, and Homewood was going to operate the brand spanking new lift. The ski area had been open, but not the upper part of the mountain. This was a big day, and I've got pictures of the new lift below. Well, it only took 3 or 4 runs before I started to feel pain in my knee. As I continued to ski, it got worse. It hurt me to walk (a lot) for the next two weeks! It wasn't the walking thing that upset me so much, it was the fear that my ski season was already over. That was when I realized that I had to do something ASAP! I really don't know what's wrong with it, but the doctor suggested that it is likely to be a torn meniscus. With that in mind, Tim and I went skiing yesterday, because I just had too. Well, it hurt on the first turn, which was depressing and worse than the first time I went skiing. Then I started to play with how I made my turns, keeping track of how and when it hurt. I figured I could at least relay this to the doc on Monday. I realized that it hurt when I unweighted my ski, which is consistent with a torn meniscus catching. So, I tried to stay low and not straighten at all. Problem solved, but thighs burn. It felt a little stiff the rest of the day, but no pain that wasn't overcome by the 4 ibuprofen tabs I took when I got home (just to make sure). When it still didn't hurt this morning, I took more prophylactic ibuprofen and went skiing. My knee is no worse and my thighs are working extra hard. Of course we were only out there for an little over an hour. When you have a pass and only live a few blocks from the hill, you don't ski all day. There is no way I could ski powder, bumps or anything very challenging, but at least I can get out there and have a little fun.

I mentioned the new chairlift earlier. It is really quite comfy and very fast. It is even roomier than before. They replaced the old "Quad" chair with a new high speed lift, which they oddly named the "Old Homewood Express". I have a few pretty pictures below:

Friday, December 21, 2007

digging out

The first few storms were disappointing, leaving only 2-4 inches each. The final storm was more respectable. We awoke Thursday morning to a foot of new snow. I think my new indicator of "heavy" snowfall is when the driveway heating gets overwhelmed. The system comes on when it senses precipitation combined with low temperature. When the snowfall is heavy enough, it covers the sensor (despite the heater on the sensor to prevent this) and the system no longer detects the precip. This happened Wednesday night, so we had to get the snowblower out to clean up the driveway on Thursday. Of course we cleaned out the sensor and turned on the driveway, too! We probably have the only dry pavement around! The snowplow came and made one pass down our street yesterday afternoon, and today they came back and cleaned it up wall to wall.

We (Tim) actually thought to cut down our Christmas tree before the biggest storm, so that we didn't make it harder than it needed to be. This tree was picked out due to its location. It blocked the view of the lake from our guest room.
Knitting update:
I have finished the two Christmas projects that I had been working on and will reveal them after gifting. I finished Jamison's 3rd mitten (the match for the size that fit properly) and realized that it was bigger than the first, so I frogged it and started over. I think I must have knit the first rather tightly, because of concern that it would be too big. I'll knit the next one more tightly this time -and keep the other around as a reference so that I can keep on track. This is a risk, because it becomes something that Jack can steal, if not locked up safe in my workroom (where I don't really work that much).

I also joined Ravelry, an online knitting community, which is pretty great. If you are a member, you can see the secret projects there.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter has come to the Sierra Nevada!!

After a dismal winter last year, we have been hoping for a big snow year and some good skiing this winter. We had several coatings of snow early (September-October) and it got our hopes up. But then there was nothing. The area was totally dry and ski resorts were having to make snow. Below is a picture of Homewood a few days after Thanksgiving:
Pretty depressing. The patches of snow are man-made. Finally, the winter storms have begun. Our first real winter storm came in on the 6th. It wasn't huge, but was enough to cover the ground and with a good thick coating and begin our base. It also brought the beloved sound of snowplows scraping the roads (indicating significant amounts of snowfall). Here is the bottom of Homewood after that storm:
Now we have a series of storms coming at us. We are currently in the midst of the second storm in a series of 5. The first only gave us a few inches, but today's system is supposed to give us around 10". The winter storm warning for the area says that the storms behind this one may drop an additional 1-2 feet by late Thursday, but that may be at higher elevations. Hopefully we will get a bunch here at lake level! Here's a glimpse of the current conditions:
In light of the power outages in the East, you may think I'm crazy for wanting so much snow, or you may wonder if we don't have a problem with losing power out here. Actually, we lose power a lot in the winter. While that is a part of life here, we have a backup generator, so it won't be too big of a deal. In fact, the electrician installed the transfer switch just yesterday. Our generator can't run the whole house, so we only have selected circuits connected to the backup power. We will not have power for the oven and dishwasher, some of the outlets, some of the lights. We will have the heater, partial lights, internet (and wi-fi), TV and more. We won't be roughing it in an outage.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Trying to get this going again

If anyone even checks this blog anymore, I am going to try and get it going again. September and October were difficult months for me, and then in November, I was so embarrassed about the long dearth of posts, that I put off dealing with it.

Basically, I have been spending a lot of time working on the paper/thesis. In order to focus on it, I have denied myself most fun activities. Without fun activities, I don't have anything interesting to blog about. You would think that the paper/thesis and defense would be done by now (I did), but unfortunately, they aren't (which is rather depressing). My adviser does not seem to be in any hurry at all. He has caused quite a bit of delay as he changes his mind about the discussion section and how to analyze the data. Most recently, I have been the cause of delay, having come down with a terrible cold on my last trip to Seattle and having to come home early. I'm still recuperating, although I head back up to Seattle tomorrow. I have been going up to Seattle every few weeks and staying 3-6 days at a time. Someday, this thing will be finished. My blogging will probably not be that frequent until I finish the PhD. I will, however, try to post regularly. I do let myself do fun things sometimes, so there are some things to post on, other than my science writing.

The long slow writing process has been pretty depressing and hard on me, so I have been trying to include more fun in my life. I have been doing a bit of knitting, for example and some natural dyeing. I currently have 4 knitting projects on the needles:
2 are Christmas gifts, and they are halfway completed, and that's all you get to know about them.
1 is a simple pair of socks in lightweight STR which are a good traveling project for the plane flights
And there is the lizard ridge blanket that I started this summer. That has been on hold ever since Jack decided to get out the skeins of yarn and play with them. I had to move the project basket out of the living room, so it isn't very handy anymore and I need to clean the blond hairs of the skeins.