Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Wasn't Deaf When I Went In

It seems that whenever someone tries to talk to me in Japanese and I’m not understanding, they tell me again (in Japanese) only louder. With all this medical stuff, I’m getting shouted at a lot.

A few days before I left on my trip, I had to go in for an MRI.  The first time you go to the Japanese hospital, you get a plastic card with your name (in katakana if you are not Japanese) and a magnetic strip that probably has all your information in it.  Maybe other places have this system too, I don’t know.  I don’t have hospital experience anywhere else.  When you come back to the hospital after the first time, you put the card into a machine in the lobby and a screen comes up (in Japanese).  There were three buttons on the screen.  I recognized the kanji for stop next to the red one, so I didn’t tap it.  I took a chance and tapped the green one and the machine spit out my card and a little slip of paper.  My appointment was for 11:30 am, but I had to be there at 11:10 am.  I arrived at 10:50 am because I hate to be late.  I planned to sit and stitch, but the receptionist gave me a set of MRI pajamas to put on and had me lock up all of my stuff, so I just had to sit there for a long time in this little outfit and wait.  And it was very little!  It was so snug that I was hoping the seams wouldn’t pop.  I thought about asking for a larger size, but I didn’t want to call any additional attention to myself just in case they had given me the largest size.

When it was my turn, I went to MRI room #2.  Before being stuffed into the machine, the nurse gave me an injection in the muscle of my upper arm.  I asked nan desu ka? But I didn’t understand the answer, so who knows what it was.  They gave me earphones with music playing but once I was in the machine, it was so loud, I couldn’t hear the music.  About mid-way through they pulled me out of the machine and I thought I was done, but no, not yet.  They pulled me out to give me another injection in a vein.  I think I understood this was a contrasting agent.  My left arm, which has the better veins was all bruised from the CT scan procedure three days earlier, so the nurse tried my right arm.  She tried in four places, but wasn’t successful, so she went back to my left arm and got the needle in after three more pokes. (The next day both arms were black and blue!)  I knew this was going to be loud, but I didn’t realize how loud or how close I would be to the roof of this tube.  Finally it was all over.  With all the MRI machine noise and the shouting, I had a headache when it was time to go home.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels

When I was a kid I remember hearing adults say “Don’t take any wooden nickels”.  I didn't know what they were so I never did, but sometimes I did find Canadian coins in my change.

Ted brought this coin home in his change purse the other day.

Now I remind him not to take any Korean nickels when he goes out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

If Anything, I Thought It Would Be Skin Cancer

(This is my 1000th post since starting my blog in December of 2011, shortly after moving to Japan.)

I’ve always been pretty healthy, which is good because I don’t really trust doctors and medical things.  I don’t like medicine and don’t get flu shots. I don’t eat meat and for the most part eat well (although more than I should, it seems). I’ve been healthy enough to run 16 full marathons and many shorter races.  I never thought I’d have anything major wrong with me, although I thought skin cancer might be a possibility after so many years in the sun. 

I thought wrong.  Two weeks before leaving on my trip to the UK, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  Besides trying to get ready for the trip, those two weeks were full of medical tests and consultations with doctors – two ultrasounds, a biopsy, a CT scan, an MRI, blood and urine tests, chest and abdominal x-rays, an ekg, ..... maybe that’s all.  This would be difficult if it were all in English, but can you imagine trying to fill out forms written in kanji and communicating with people who speak Japanese? On top of the language difficulties, things are just different here.  I’ve opted for treatment at the university hospital in the big city (Sapporo), rather than the local hospital, but I’m still very skeptical of all things medical.

Fortunately, I was able to leave on my trip as planned and the surgery to remove all of my insides was scheduled for shortly after my return.  One of the things that’s different here is that they expect you to stay in the hospital a long time. Except for when I was born (and don’t remember), I’ve never spent the night in a hospital.  The doctor told me I needed to check in to the hospital two days before the surgery and stay a minimum of two weeks after! Oh, no, that’s just impossible, I told him.  What do you do for two days before, can’t I just arrive the morning of the surgery?  He told me I needed two days to get ready. After all of the tests and procedures, I was pretty sure I was as ready as I could be.  We compromised on checking in the day before.  I told him I couldn’t possibly stay two weeks, let alone longer. I told him I thought maybe overnight would be long enough.  In the first place, sick people with bad germs are in the hospital and I don’t want to catch anything.  In addition, I can’t communicate with the hospital staff, I won’t be able to eat in the hospital (I don’t eat meat and don’t like anything with oil and like my vegetables raw), and my hair is very long and I won’t be able to wash it in the hospital. He just kind of laughed and said there would be pain, so I needed to be in the hospital.  I pretty much expected that, but if there’s going to be pain where ever I am, I prefer to be at home.  Besides, I told him, I have a high pain threshold and have had a root canal and several crowns done without novacaine. I told him I am also a very fast healer.  He said if there were complications, I’d have to stay, but he’d let me go as soon as possible.  having to stay in the hospital is really making me crazy.

So anyway, I’m checking into the hospital today and surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. I'm feeling very anxious and uneasy. I don’t know what happens after the surgery and won’t find out what the options are until after the surgery.  Maybe the surgery will be enough. After living in Japan this long, I’ve learned that I never really know what is going on until it’s over, and then I still don’t always know.

The hospital doesn’t have wifi so I can’t post anything after I leave today until I come home.  I’ve scheduled a few posts for the days ahead and hopefully will be back home before they run out.

Normally I am a very private person.  If I were in the US with this diagnosis, no one would ever hear about it.  In Japan, nothing I do is private. Everyone seems to know where I go and what I do here.  The mother of one of my English students works in the doctor’s office across the hall from the local gynecologist. I think she knew before I did.  Since everyone here knows, I’ve decided to tell everyone everywhere about my experience with cancer in Japan, via my blog. It'll be more about being a foreigner in the Japanese medical system.  If you have questions about it, I may or may not answer, depending on how much I'm comfortable with.  I’m not here feeling sorry for myself and I don’t want anyone else to be feeling sorry for me. I’ve gotten through difficult things before and this is just one more challenge in life.  I’ll write more when I can.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2014 Smalls SAL - Hardanger Pinkeep

Here’s my completed Small for this month – a hardanger pinkeep.


If you want to join this stitch a long, check out Stitching Lotus.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Coming Home Today!

I’ve been gone almost three weeks and am scheduled to arrive late tonight.  I had hoped to have a finished ornament a day to post, but I ended up one short – there just wasn’t enough time before I left.  I do have these ornaments started and hope to finish them before December.


I have some busy days ahead, but will post pictures and stories about my trip as soon as I can.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Winter Alphabet

I used a premade bag, stitching with DMC floss in called for colors, except silver substituted for white snowflakes. Designed by Judy Gibbs of Hollie Designs.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

One Starry Night

This was designed by Carol Scott Higeli of the Stitcher’s Habit.  I used
28 count even weave with DMC floss and Kreinik in called for colors. (I love the little cut out window.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Beaded Purple Pear

This is stitched on perforated paper with seed beads. I backed it with stick on felt.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sharing the Season

This is a Merry Cox design, stitched on 28 count with silk and cotton floss. I used two colors for the cording.


Thursday, August 21, 2014


I stitched this pattern last year on a larger count fabric. This is a Shepherd’s Bush design.  I stitched it with DMC floss on 28 count fabric and finished it like a little pillow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ted's Reindeer

Yesterday’s reindeer is a gift for one of Ted’s friends.  This one, with Christmasy colors, is for Ted. Stiched on 28 count evenweave with two strands of DMC floss.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Brown Reindeer

This pattern came from a larger tablecloth pattern. I used 28 count evenweave and two strands of DMC floss.  I used the same floss to make the cording.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Christmas Tree Biscornu

The pattern for this biscornu was a freebie, available at the Floss Box. I printed several biscornu patterns from that site a year or so ago, but I can't find the free ones now.  I stitched it with cotton floss on 28 count evenweave, adding a ribbon to make a hanger.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Teenie Christmas Angel

This was designed by Sandie Vanosdall of the Sweetheart Tree.  Stitched on 28 count evenweave with cotton floss.  I added a heart bead and finished with a beaded edge.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cardinal Snowflake

This is another freebie from the Victoria Sampler.  I used cotton floss and kreinik #4 on 28 count evenweave.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Singing Chickadee

This pattern is a freebie at The Victoria Sampler. I used cotton floss, kreinik #4 braid and silk ribbon on 28 count evenweave.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cross Stitch Bird

This is one bird from a table runner pattern (Danish Handcraft Guild).  Stitched on 28 count with cotton floss.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Third Alma Lynne

This is the last of these Alma Lynne angels - ever, because I’ve given away the pattern and leftover threads. Stitched on 28 count evenweave with cotton floss.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Angel on the Moon

Another Alma Lynne, stitched on 28 count evenweave with cotton floss.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Alma Lynne Angel with Star

I’ve had this angel ornament kit for years, stitching one or two a year.  This year I’ve finished the last three! It is stitched on 28 count evenweave, with cotton floss.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Satin Stitch Star

This little ornament is stitched on 28 count linen, using threads leftover from the Dragonfly Lace Sampler.  I added a beaded edging.

Friday, August 8, 2014

'Tis the Season

This pattern is by Diane Tolle of DKT Originals. I used one strand of DMC floss, stitching over one on a piece of banded linen.  I added one heart bead.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Off on Another Big Adventure!

I’m leaving this morning for a big stitching adventure in the UK.  I’m taking the canvas landscape class at the Royal School of Needlework and spending a week at the Bath Summer Textile School, taking two classes, one with Jean Littlejohn and Jan Beaney and one with Janet Bolton.  I’ll also be sight seeing in Oxford and London, with several stitching and textile exhibits on my itinerary.  I’ll be taking pictures and will post all about my trip when I return.  I hope all these guys aren't on my flight!

I can’t be sure of my internet availability while I’m gone, so I am scheduling posts to appear while I’m gone.  The past few months I have been secretly stitching ornaments, so I can post and write about one each day I am gone. Some will be for our tree and some are for gifts.  Here is my first ornament –

The Elf with Candle ornament
This little elf was part of a larger tablecloth pattern of elves and black cats from the Danish Handcraft Guild.  I used cotton floss on 28 count evenweave and made the cording from the same floss.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - a New Project

Even though I have many projects that need work, I started a new project!  I acquired this sampler chart (Martha Ann 1821) when I visited R&R Reproductions/Dyeing to Stitch in August 2011 with the Heritage Needlework Tour (Susan Greening Davis).  I thought it would make a great wallet.  I’m using Waterlilies silk thread and 28 count sand colored linen. Each set of alphabet letters will be a different thread.  The bottom line is cross stitch over one, using one strand of thread.  The rest is over two with two strands.  The difficult part of this is to stitch as charted, with uneven spacing and mistakes!


Another Knot Garden is finished, but it isn't mine!  Wonderful stitching!  Isn't it great how she made it fit into a regular frame so it can be enjoyed?
Head over to Pintangle to see everyone else’s progress on their large projects.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Take a Stitch Tuesday - 122 Chained Bar and 123 Woven Chained Bar

I’ve gotten behind on doing TAST stitches.  The last one I did was 112 – feathered chain stitch. I plan to catch up, starting with the newest stitches.  Here are my samples of 122 Chained Bar Stitch and 123 Woven Chained Bar Stitch, done with #5 perle DMC 4230 and stitched over 1/8 inch ribbon.


If you are interested in trying out new stitches, check out TAST at Pintangle.