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For those of you who knew Meg Justus I am sad to let you know that she passed away on November 22, 2017 after a short battle with cancer.

I am her best friend of 52 years and I was blessed to have been with her during her final few days and with her when she left this world. How blessed I am to have had such a wonderful friend.

If any of you would like more information regarding a celebration of her life which will be held sometime next year, please contact me on Facebook (Jan Hanken) or by email jan_hanken@yahoo.com.

Obituary, which she wrote herself:


Meg (Mary Margaret) Justus

Born: April 8, 1959

Death: November 22, 2017

Service: No service. Ashes to be scattered privately at Sunrise on Mt. Rainier to fertilize the wildflowers.

Meg died from metastatic cancer in Lacey, Washington.

Meg was born the caboose (much younger than her siblings) of four girls in New Orleans, Louisiana. She grew up in suburban Los Angeles, Denver, and the California Bay Area. As an adult she also lived in Oregon, Indiana, Ohio, and Montana before finally landing in Washington state at age 34.

Meg graduated cum laude with a degree in British and American literature and history from Ohio University in 1990, then completed a master’s degree in library science at Indiana University in 1991. Later in life she also completed a certificate in museum studies from the University of Washington.

Meg held many jobs pre-library school, from music school secretary to hog farm bookkeeper. A volunteer position at the her local library eventually led to library school, and she worked as a librarian for fourteen years, when she switched to museum curation for five years.

But Meg’s true passions were writing and travel. She published a number of books under the moniker M.M. Justus. She liked to say what she wrote was 90% history and 10% fantasy, set in the Old West. Due to her background she was a stickler about getting the history right, and her books were set in places she’d traveled to herself. Her travels included two long trips of multiple months each; the first was documented in the travel memoir Cross-Country.

She liked to call herself a professional dilettante. Her other passions included quilting and other needlework, gardening, meteorology, and wild plant identification, especially wildflowers.

Meg is survived by her three older sisters, Susan Moore, Nancy Nowell, and Ann Mattas, her best friend of 52 years Jan Hanken, who was the sister she should have had, and more wonderful friends than she ever expected to make.

If you wish, please send a donation to the Yellowstone or Mt. Rainier Foundations or any organization working towards the survival of wildflowers.
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Since chances of me doing anything more with it at this point are slim.

http://mmjustus.com/a-bit/

Paradise!

Oct. 6th, 2017 11:25 am
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Or, where I went yesterday [g].

Still no direct linking, for some reason:

http://mmjustus.com/paradise/
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At least so far. Apparently it's not good for migraines, which was what made me think it didn't work at all several years ago, but it's *excellent* on cramps. And it lasts *12 hours*!!!!!

Also, the Prilosec I've started taking to protect my stomach lining from the NSAIDs per the nurse is also helping with the nausea, without the loopiness side effect the anti-nausea med gave me. That and eating less at a time but more frequently.

Here's hoping this state of things lasts longer than the last round of "making Meg comfortable" meds did. It's been very hard emotionally to realize that hospice's concept of comfortable is a lot more realistic and pragmatic than mine was.

Oh, and morphine (for breakthrough back pain) *must* be taken with a Miralax chaser. 'Nuff said.

ptui

Sep. 25th, 2017 08:06 pm
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Well, apparently I can't get my blog to cross-post to DW tonight. So if you want to see my most recent post, you'll need to go to http://mmjustus.com/a-flowery-day/ Sorry!
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To the point where when friends offer to take me places, I can go. I tire really easily, but we've found ways around that. Up to and including my friend Judy, who has a conversion van I can sleep in the back of while she takes me places, so that I have the actual energy to enjoy them when I get there. Is that a wonderful friend or what?

And that last post was the first blog post I've written since I got sick. So yay, me!

I'm settled into my new place, and I feel safe and comfortable here. Also, not having to figure out what kind of food I can eat and just having it there for me has made all the difference. I've stopped losing weight, for one thing [g].

The symptoms are starting to gradually get worse (whatever Power That Be who decided the main symptom of the endometrial part of this would be the equivalent of really bad menstrual cramps all the time needs to be shot in the kneecaps and left to die), but that's just the way it is. It would be nice to have a working internal thermostat again, too, but hey. At least I still have a brain.

I am so grateful to my local friends, who have bent over backwards to help me out. You have no idea. Seriously. And my long distance friends, too, who have done all sorts of things to keep my spirits up. I have the best friends on the planet. Period.
mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

Tonight my friend Tina and I went to a program/exhibit at the Lacey library.  It was put on by the Pacific Northwest Vintage Sewing machine organization.  It was fascinating.  All kinds of antique and vintage sewing machines, as well as a program where several people spoke about them.  Some folks there own more than a hundred sewing machines!

There were also quilts up on the library’s walls from a couple of local guilds, which was nice.

And I got to try a sewing machine about the right age to have been Karin’s sewing machine from True Gold, which was truly cool.

Here are some of the photos I took.

One of the oddest sewing machines I’ve ever seen. 1930s vintage.
I’ve never seen a white Featherweight in person before.
This one’s about the same vintage (if not the same maker) as my old sewing machine.
Some of the quilts on display.
This one looks a lot like the one my mother had.
A 1914 Scottish Singer machine .
Not a very good photo, but this machine could be the one Karin carried over Chilkoot Pass and the Golden Staircase in True Gold.  It’s a vintage 1895-1905 Singer portable.
And the carrying case for Karin’s machine.

Oh, and by the way, this is a photo of the Golden Staircase up to the top of Chilkoot Pass that Karin carried her sewing machine over, and the conditions in which she would have done it.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

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Just so people know, I've pretty much quit updating here. I try to remember, but well... I'm Meg Justus on Facebook, if you want to keep up. I know there are lots of folks here who don't do FB, but I'm afraid that's just the way it is.
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Things have completely fallen apart with my sister, mostly but not completely on a personal level, but *I'm* going to be okay. She wanted to push me into this particular assisted living place before I could even sleep on it so she could go home to Texas next week, but it's not the right place for me. Granted, I'm way too agitated to be making decisions like this right now, but I at least need to talk to my palliative care specialist to see what I'm *capable* of before I make a decision like this.

I have a guardianship service holding things together for me and getting me to appointments, etc., who will help me settle somewhere better, and, thank gods and my parents, the money to pay them. After this experience, I'm pretty much abjectly terrified of asking for volunteer help because it would have be to be iron-clad reliable and the "I can help" would have to come attached to, "I will not wait until you tell me what I can do -- instead, I can see you need this and I will come do it at thus and such a time and place -- is that soon enough?" I know that's not possible, so don't offer and that's okay. I know that sort of thing is an unreasonable request, especially when made by someone who's always prided herself on her independence and really doesn't know how to draw on friends in a reasonable way in a time like this.

I'll update as I'm able, so please don't ask. And this *is* just an update. The overwhelming sympathy is lovely, but it *is* getting overwhelming [wry g]. I mostly just need to write this out.
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Looks like -- if my unexpectedly badass sister can keep forcing my HMO and my assisted living place to accept the same pieces of the medical paper, whcih she seems to be pulling off against all odds -- and if I can get the movers to cooperate in a timely manner -- I should be settled in anotehr couple of weeks. No address yet.
I know where I'll be, just not in what apartment yet.

Also, sorry about the typpos. Med adjustments still in progress.

I like the new place. Not enough spoons to discuss it in any detail, sorry, so please don't ask.

Continued good thoughts accepted if that's okay.
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Well, I got my prognosis today. It's one I've pretty much been expecting since I received the results on my lung biopsy no matter how much I dreaded them. My cancer, in four different places lung, uterus, breast, and spine) is terminal (and, yes, I've had opinions. Dear godlings have I had opinions. Without treatment other than for pain (which admittedly at the moment is working better than it has since I got home from the hospital after my appendix), I've got roughly a year left. With treatment (and absolutely *no* clue what kind of pain and other quality of life levels said treatment would involve, -- information that is both essential to decision making and absolutely unavailable to me, which has got to be about the worst catch-22 on the planet), about the most I could expect is two years, possibly less. I'm at the point of trying to decide what to do. I'll be honest. I am firmly on the side of quality vs. quantity. It's not worth it to me to be in agony for two years just to live that extra year. Bear in mind, though, a) that I will do what I feel is right for me to do,and b) that I only got this information *today,* so the absolute last thing I need anyone to do right now is have anyone tell me that I should do my best to live as long as possible. I'm not saying this because I think any of you would do these things to me, but because I need to be emphatic about it *for me*, no matter what (so far as I know I was perfectly healthy at the end of May). FWTW. I'm still pretty much in shock over it all, and will be for a while. my sister Ann and Loralee are taking good care of me, Ann has been holding my hand all the way, and Loralee's already found two good assisted living places for me to visit, which will convert to hospice when the time comes, and which have space available either immediately or with in a couple of weeks.

So. That's my news. Anyone local who wants to be on the list of people I give my new address digs to who would like to, given my current condition that day, either come visit or possibly even take me out for a visit, please comment here.

And I still welcome all good thoughts, etc. Please.

At least I was right when I kept complaining that Social Security and Medicare would no longer be there for me when I got old enough to be eligible for it...
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All day Sunday at ER, all day yesterday at Urgent Care, and as it turns out I'm allergic to Dilaudid. On two kinds of morphine now, and Ativan, and still in a lot of pain. Don't expect to hear much from me in the near future.
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The brain scan came out clean!!! No brain cancer.

OTOH, they did *not* find the hamsters and their wheel, either, but all in all? I'll take that result with bells on.
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Today I had the brain scan. With my head inside the MRI machine for 40 minutes. Wearing what amounted to a hockey mask. And the Ativan hadn't kicked in yet (the timing of that delightful little pill is a bit tricky, but I think I've got it down now). Massive claustrophobia and tears just streaming down the sides of my face and "please can you go get my sister?" who held my hand all the way through the process, although once the Ativan *did* kick in I was doing much better (except for the stopped up nose from the crying). Reason number 27 why I need her here for this.

On top of that, of course they wanted me on my back, but a) they gave me some padding to put under the sore spot, b) I had loaded up on ibuprofen beforehand, and c) the Ativan helped. The back pain didn't really kick in until about 20 minutes in, but it got pretty bad after that. They pulled me back out of the machine 10 minutes before the end to inject me with dye so they could get contrast pictures as well -- the tech was good at the vampire thing, but of course my veins all went running to hide next to my bones, as usual.

*Please* don't let them find brain cancer on top of everything else. *Please*.

I did manage to get from Kansas (where I'd left off at the last test) to Cape Breton Island in my "inside the machine travelogue." And that really does help. I suspect I'll make it home during the next test and have to do one of my other trips for the last one. Which is okay.

I did ask the tech if he could keep an eye out for hamsters on wheels in my brain, but he didn't find any. Alas. I know there are some in there. And I was hoping there was a way to remove them.

Two more tests to go. I don't know if they're going to stick my head in the machine for the full body PET scan, but a girl can hope they won't, right?
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Which is not like doctors without borders.

I had my first meeting with the oncologist this afternoon. I saw lots of pictures of my insides, but the upshot is she wants to take more (I get a full-body PET scan, an MRI brain scan, and a bone scan -- none of which, at least, involve taking any more bits of me -- and I have Ativan to take an hour before each scan, so that's good, too). The breast biopsy appears to be off the table (no pun intended) for now, thank gods. Apparently we've got much bigger fish to fry (that's my sister's translation of what the doctor said). They're also going to closely examine slides from the two existing biopsies side by side to determine for sure that they're not the same cancer (the doctor is pretty sure they aren't, but she wants a more definitive answer from the radiologist).

The back pain is getting worse even though the gabapentin dose has been upped, and there are cramps again, too. I've contacted both my PCP and the oncologist to see if there's *anything* to be done about that. I know they're going to say narcotics, and my -- admittedly extremely limited -- experience with narcotics was *not* pleasant. *Why* does the pain always get worse at night??? We're talking a baseline of about seven, with leaps up above eight when I lie down. And it's bloody unrelenting. 24/7 without a break, although it is better during the day than at night. If I ever catch whoever's following me around and jabbing me in the back with that piece of rebar, their death is going to be slow, laborious and beyond painful. "With a spoon?" "Yes, you twit, it'll hurt more."

Anyway, my next appointment with the oncologist is on Friday the 11th. Onward and sideways, I guess. I wish I'd gotten more answers, but apparently there just aren't any yet.

"I can't do this, Sam." I just can't anymore. And, yeah, I'm being a drama queen. Sorry.
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So. I got the results back from the lung biopsy. They were cancerous. I don't know yet if it's metastasized from the uterus or if it's something else altogether. I have an appointment with an oncologist on Tuesday to decide how to move forward on this. But if it's metastasized then this is stage four cancer.
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So. Lung biopsy is done. They used the same kind of sedation they use for colonoscopies. I remember being awake, but I swear I was in the room alone the whole time. No voices, nobody touching me, not even the sound of breathing. Not that I'm complaining. And except for my back being a little sore (a helluva lot less than the ongoing supposedly fixed popped rib), there was no pain or trouble breathing afterwards.

What did upset me was being unable to reach the bandages in the middle of my back the next day in order to take them off 24 hours after the procedure. I finally ended up at urgent care, because I was literally having a panic attack about not being able to reach them.

I had a mammogram and a breast ultrasound on Wednesday, which is resulting in another biopsy on my left breast this week, for the same reason I had the lung biopsy, to rule out whether the cancer has spread.

I should get the results of the lung biopsy tomorrow or Tuesday, and the breast biopsy a few days after it takes place.

So far as I know, surgery's still scheduled for August 8th. But that could change depending on the results of the biopsies.

I feel like swiss cheese. And if I thought I had a prayer of a chance of outrunning this, I'd be in my van right now, headed god knows where.
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Well, I have an appointment for the lung biopsy to check out the nodules they found when they did my MRI. Friday. At 6:45 in the *morning.* They'll keep me for six hours. They're going to go in through my skin, not down my throat. And this determines whether I have stage 1 or stage 4 uterine cancer, with everything that implies. And thus how my treatment goes. More good thoughts, please? Boost the stream? I'd be grateful.
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Home. Exhausted. But home.

27 days till surgery. After healing from that I may start feeling human.
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