I’ve been just cranking on my What the Fade?! shawl for the last week or so since I last wrote about it. Once I had bid the brioche section at the top of the shawl goodbye it was garter time… lots of garter. This is really easy knitting even with the fun of the fading, and MacKenzie and I have just settled in to binge watch Netflix and crank out the rows of changing colors.
Here’s the thing… I’m doing a lot of dreaming about yarn colors and projects while I’m knitting. It makes things worse that I still have the fabulous Western Sky Knits yarns that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last month still out on display to encourage my dreaming. I already blogged about this yarn: check this out if you want to see my fabulous dream-inducing colors! I’ve been reorganizing the yarn stash and going through my patterns between bouts of knitting, and then I kind of slip into a garter stitch, color-induced waking dream state where I match color/yarn ideas with patterns to decide on projects.
So, with no further ado, let me introduce you to the line-up of May and June projects:
See why I’m knitting so fast? Look at these fabulous yarns and great patterns! Actually there is a lot more where this came from. I just checked, and I have 25 items in my knitting Queue on Raverly, 1,122 patterns in my library, another 159 patterns in my Ravelry shopping basket, and a world class yarn stash. This is all kind of overwhelming if you think about it too much, which is why it is hard to finalize decisions. The last couple of days things just fell into place and I made a list of knitting decisions and kitted up the yarn with the appropriate pattern.
Then I went back to knitting my fade and dreaming of what to do with the colors I have left over. Dreaming of yarn and the beautiful, useful objects that I can make from them.
What can be better than that?
In case you’re wondering… I am still in the middle of testing to clarify the cause of my worsening scleroderma-related symptoms. This week I head in to see another doctor and will get my echocardiogram done; after my heart is sorted out I can get the pulmonary testing that I need. Right now the discussion is mostly about my heart, but they are still gathering data so no definitive diagnosis yet. Through all of this I’m just rocking my knitting and refusing to worry about what I can’t change. Tomorrow I’m planting more flowers in my garden! Peace on, everyone!
My, how the time flies. Not that I’m having a good time here, but it is hard to believe that it has already been three years since my diagnosis of limited systemic sclerosis (AKA scleroderma). I’ve been reflecting on the last year while planning this post, and decided that I should start out with a little info about my disease, share the highlights of my three years, and then give unpack this year a little.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that is chronic (no cure), progressive, disabling and possibly fatal. It is rare, which is why you probably never heard of it. The name itself means “hard skin”, and that is one of the most distinctive features of the condition. The widespread scarring and buildup of collagen protein that causes the hardening of skin also occurs in internal organs in patients with the “systemic” form of the disease like me. Most of the damage is hitting my intestinal tract, but my lungs, kidneys and heart are also sustaining damage. In the background, hard to see, but never to be ignored, is damage occurring in blood vessels that can cause blood pressure to soar and places me at risk for blood clots.
I have collected several doctors over the last three years as damage continues to slowly accrue in my lungs, kidneys and intestinal tract.
Here are the highlights of my first three years:
My first year was one of shock and horror. I was so worried about tightening skin and the use of my hands that I didn’t ever think about the bigger picture. I was started on drugs, stabilized, and felt much better by the end of the year.
The bottom fell out my second year. I was using my hands okay, but I developed breathing problems, had to be placed on oxygen, and my heart started to misbehave. Adjustments were made to my medications to compensate for my lowering lung volume and to slow the rate of lung damage. At the lowest point I was sent to palliative care and told to make final decisions.
This year, the third, has been one of highs and lows. The new medications kicked in, I came off oxygen and my chest pain stopped. I was discharged from palliative care. I developed gastroparesis and had to move to a very stomach-friendly diet. I stabilized and sailed through the first rounds of appointments in the spring only to develop kidney problems in the summer along with higher pressure in the artery that goes from my heart to my lungs. This blood pressure, which is called pulmonary arterial hypertension, is extremely damaging to the heart and will need to be addressed if it gets any higher. Fabulous. Another doctor.
My summer this year was really hard. I got very dizzy, developed joint pain and sore muscles, and eventually got so brain fogged that I was afraid to drive. My knees were swollen and developed sharp, shooting pains; I will need to buy a new car if this keeps up as I can’t manage the clutch much longer. I struggled on the stairs and my face turned blue on a regular basis. My neighbors stepped in and took over the yard work for me, and my knitting buddies began to drive me to all fiber related adventures as I wasn’t sure I should be trusted on the road. See, highs and lows. My illness is kicking my butt, and the people around me are stepping in to make sure I’m OK.
Early this month I met with my new internist to see if there wasn’t something that I could take to beat some of these symptoms back. OK, I’m going to be honest here. I cried. We agreed that I would start the tart cherry extract again, but at a much lower dose than I took previously in the spring. (Tart cherry has anti-inflammatory properties and is easier on my stomach than NSAIDs. Unfortunately, my kidneys were damaged the first time I tried to take it.) I’m going to have my kidney function checked every month, but I’m already so much better (brain fog, goodbye!) that I’m really hoping that I can tolerate it OK. In the meantime I’m getting lots of chores done in this golden period while I feel so much better. I’ve moved furniture, completed some projects, and have driven to many, many stores that were ignored last summer.
So, this is the end of the third year. I feel pretty good, I’m getting things done and making plans, and I am making hay while the (tart cherry) sun shines. Next week I get my blood drawn for the kidney function test and after that I see the rheumatologist.
I’ve been thinking about butterflies again. The day after I took that picture of the butterfly it snowed. A lot. It took a couple of days for it to melt as the temperatures climbed back up into the 60’s and 70’s. I wondered if the butterflies would make it. As I walked out of the office building after seeing my internist (and still recovering from my crying fit in her office…) I found butterflies swarming around one of the shrubs by the parking lot.
Those butterflies. You can kick them, but they come back. Be like a butterfly, I tell myself.
Today was Rare Disease Day. Rather than write a new post I decided to repost this one from last year. Please read on if you would like to know more about this day created to raise awareness about rare diseases and what it is like to live with them.
2/28/16: I woke up with notes in my email box reminding me that this was the big day. Oh, yeah. I guess I should say something about it on the blog, but what? I mean, I do have a…
A couple of weeks ago the bottom fell out from under the Midnight Knitter family: health emergencies, rushes to the emergency room, surgery, a life altering diagnosis of colon cancer for my older son, and the death of a beloved dog. A terrible 10 days.
A week after returning home from the hospital my older son developed complications and once again ended up in the emergency room. Blood clots! Holy smokes, this is not something that I would wish on anyone! Once again we took turns at the hospital and knitted through the wee hours of the morning. It was days before he could go home again.
Then the next shoe dropped: even before my older son was out of the hospital again I came down with the plague. Seriously, it had to be plague. It couldn’t have been flu, since I had that shot earlier this year. <snark> Whatever, I got sick. Really sick. Too sick to knit. Ugh. It was bound to happen since I was burning the candle at both ends for days on end and taking chances walking into hospitals with a seriously drugged up immune system, but still … I think that we are due a break here!! After a week in bed I dragged myself up to my younger son’s place and have been recovering with him since then. Now it’s a whole week later and I’m still struggling to get around with a dizzy head and shaky legs, but I am definitely starting to feel more like myself, and I am back to knitting every evening.
Tomorrow I will head on home again. Poor MacKenzie! He and Yellow Boy were pretty much abandoned this whole week with only a couple of checks to make sure they had food and water. I know I will be getting an earful from them once I’m back.
Tomorrow my oldest son starts chemo.
I think of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s quote from Knitting Without Tears a lot in times like these. “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crisis.”
The Mother of Cats and I have been knitting up a beautiful new sweater for her to wear when she goes out into the snow. It really is nice and light weight knitting; perfect for me to snuggle under while she works. Look at this yarn that she bought.
We have been knitting this sweater for over two weeks. It’s a little boring if I have to be honest. As soon as she get going nicely she has to switch colors which means twisting the balls around each other. I try to yarn chomp help her with the color changes, but she seems determined to thwart my every need. Still, we are making good progress and it should be done in plenty of time for the next big snow storm.
When she isn’t wearing it I’m pretty sure that I can sneak in some cat naps on it.
I’m such a good boy!
Can I have some cookies now?
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
This pattern is drijfhout by Isabelle Kraemer. The proect notes of gukineru were especially inspiring and my sweater is basically based on hers. The yarn that I am using is Brooklyn Tweed Loft, which is a woolen spun yarn that creates an exceptionally warm but lightweight fabric, which probably explains why I can’t keep the cats away from it while I’m knitting. As soon as MacKenzie leaves the other cat moves in.
At the end of August I cast on my Jujuy shawl (by Joji Locatelli) with excitement and anticipation for a beautiful final object. I couldn’t wait! Cooler weather was on the way and I was positive that I would be needing this fabulous light wrap before the leaves started changing. September! Falling leaves and the first frosty morning had to be on the way.
Right. We had a couple of days in the 60’s, but the month was loaded with days in the 80’s. It was darn right toasty here almost all of September. The trees began to flash a little red and yellow, but all things considered it felt a lot more like summer than fall. The shawl languished.
I became discouraged and put the shawl aside. I knitted several other projects that had been moping around the knitting chair and freed up some knitting needles. October arrived and I had only this shawl and a winter sweater left in the UFO pile. I ignored the sweater (nothing personal little guy. It’s still pretty hot outside even though it is now October…) and slugged my way through the awful, washed out pink mesh section of the pattern. I was so unhappy with the look. The mesh was the worst, and the look of the doubled lace weight pink yarn made me want to ball the whole thing up and stuff it into the back of the stash. This is serious. Anything stuffed into the back of my stash could easily never be seen again. I gritted my teeth, got another cold drink and kept going. Finally, finally I made my way down to the edging with the third darker color.
This week the weather turned cold, I had to drag in potted plants from outside so they wouldn’t be killed in our first frost of the season, and the leaves of the tree out back turned a blazing red. Fall has finally arrived here in Colorado.
As it turns out, I had planned the knitting exactly right after all.