Those Crazy Days of April, 2022

April went by in a blur for me. I entered the month feeling pretty sick. I had just had an appointment with my pulmonologist, and he had referred me to a surgeon for a lung biopsy. Well, not what I was looking for, but necessary to definitively diagnose what type of interstitial lung disease I had. There are several types, and the treatment plans for each are different. The surgery was set for May 2nd, an entire month away. Annoyed, upset by the wait, pretty darn sick, it was hard to wait all through April.

April rose to the challenge. Never was there such an ill-behaved month. For some bizarre reason my Amazon account reset to Spanish. Do you know how hard it is track orders and make changes to your account settings in a language that you don’t read well? Then email in Italian began arriving. Someone tried to hack into my PayPal account, setting off a flurry of new password and security settings on my part. Then my Facebook feed was flooded with pictures of… owls.

Umm… the universe wants me to learn a new language? Maybe the next BioGeek post should be about owls? This is really strange. April was getting off to a rocky start…

I kept struggling with my health as the month advanced, taking care of essential items in preparation for months of difficulty ahead if I was moved into a 6-month course of chemo. I filed my taxes. I took Matao in for his vaccinations. I filed the paperwork to be excused from jury duty. I got the last vaccine I needed (shingles) before the surgery. A neighbor installed the new outdoor lighting that I had purchased before Christmas, and another neighbor will arrange with her grandkids to take care of my lawn. I ordered more oxygen cannulas, and in keeping with April craziness, 4 cases of tubing arrived instead. I made arrangements to be tested for a portable oxygen unit… first appointment is in June. April, you are killing me here! One of the side windows of the car shattered without warning. I continued to get sicker. I was sick and tired of April, too!

My wild bunny moved into the front yard where I could see it each time I went out of the garage. Very used to me now, it never runs away when I go outside. Bunny support on sad days.

As the month wore on, I began to sleep a lot. Like 10-12 hours a night. I had to use oxygen during the daytime. I was losing weight. I wrote my doctors an email towards the middle of the month telling them that I felt that I was declining, and that I was worried it was taking too long to begin treatment. I was scheduled for a series of additional tests and had appointments with the pulmonologist and the cardiologist. Oh, good, April. Now I have to drive all over town without portable oxygen.

How to respond to a worsening situation that I have no control over? I bought happy new shoes in an outrageous color.

These are the shoes that are going to walk me into the hospital!!

And then I cast on new socks that would do the shoes proud.

This yarn’s name is “Squad Goals” and dyed by Hue Loco.

The results from the heart, lung, and kidney testing came back and they all showed that… I was getting worse. My doctors conferenced back and forth, debated different treatment modifications, and came to the consensus opinion that I should have the biopsy done May 2nd. I got that email late on Friday before the surgery. Checking the physician notes attached to my last appointment I found the full text of all the test results and the email chain of discussion between my doctors. I felt very lucky: what a great team! How good I feel that the decisions about drugs and treatment is being arrived at through this interdisciplinary collaboration by my doctors, who have chosen to make this all visible to me. Knowing that, however, did not change the fact that the upcoming surgery is now a little risky.

So, I cleaned the house, did laundry, paid the bills, and got in groceries. I planted flowers in the front tubs and along the walk. I also cast on some baby booties for my next-door neighbor who just brought home a new little one. This pattern, extremely versatile, is our family recipe passed down through three generations over almost three quarters of a century. It is the same as this one posted on Ravelry.

And just like that, the month was done. I had made 2 hats, 4 PICC line covers, 2 pairs of socks, and used up 3.38 skeins of yarn. I read 6 books. I did work on a sweater, but since I’m now in the colorwork portion of the knitting I put it on hiatus to await better days.

Goodbye April, you crazy, bad-boy of a month! I want you to stand in the corner and think about what you have done!! I expect a whole new attitude when I see you next year.

FO: No. 5 Union Street Socks

Check these babies out!

Late last night I finished up the new socks. These socks, part of the Stonington Project, are designed to reflect the house at No. 5 Union Street. My project notes are here.

Here is the other side of the socks. As you can see, they are complementary and not exact matches.

These socks were a ton of fun to knit. They kept my interest as I knitted my way through color changes and different textures. The red is “brickwork”, the grey stripes remind me of the siding on the house, and the light grey cable might be the gingerbread details on the cupola… (if you navigate to the Ravelry pattern for these socks you can see pictures of the house).  The heels are Norwegian short row heels, which were new to me, but easy and fun to do. The best part of these socks?

They match my new Haflinger clogs!

I have lots of yarn left over from the socks, and I’m already thinking that I should whip out some matching arm warmers using these colors and textures. But first, I have a few sweaters to get finished.

Have a nice rest-of-the weekend, everyone. I’m off to do some knitting on my Nordiska sweater.

Casting On Again

Last week was great; I finished up a big knitting project, read a good book, baked cookies, and began planting flowers and doing yard work again. Yay! The leaves are bursting out on my trees, the roses are looking good, and I think that we have finally had our last freeze warning. Spring is finally here! Good weather has arrived for a few days, I have energy, and I made lots of progress over some really excellent days.

And yet, there was a downside to getting things done… I suddenly found myself rattling around the house at loose ends. I aimlessly flipped between books on my tablet, unable to find one that would hold my interest. I listlessly looked through knitting patterns, unable to commit. Where is my next project, I asked myself. I dove into the yarn stash hunting for inspiration.

Enough of that, said the stash! Here are some nice yarns, truly excellent colors, and ideas galore. It really does pay off to have a well-fed stash at times like this. Look at what I am casting on for the next round of projects…

I bought these cute shoes over the winter, and they so deserve socks to match their cuteness! What are the shoes, you ask? Those are Haflinger clogs, and my feet love them. 

Here they are! These socks are part of the Stonington Project by Ruth Garbo, and this particular pattern is No. 5 Union Street. How stinking cute can a pair of socks be? My project notes are here.

Yarn for Nordiska sweater.
I had put together the yarns for Nordiska last month but kind of forgot about them while knitting the VNeck Boxy. Yippee! I sang to myself as I pulled the kitted up yarns and pattern out of the stash. I wound the yarns…

cast on and began knitting away Monday. I love the way the “construct” colorway is working up, and the cables that show off the raglan shaping are looking great. Next month is the Estes Park Wool Market; if I knit like crazy I might be able to show off the finished Nordiska then. My project notes are here.

I kept collecting these coral and rust colored yarns through the fall and winter. Unsure of what to do with them, I kept feeding the yarn stash knowing that eventually the right project would come along. Behold! These yarns have told me that they want to be a What the Fade!? shawl. Who am I to argue with them?

So, there we are. I have projects going again and I am excited with the drive to complete more knitted yumminess.

Still hunting for the book, but it is sure to come. I have two audiobook credits to burn, so as soon as I settle on some titles I will be in business.

After all, I need something to listen to while knitting!

The Scleroderma Chronicles: Year 2.5

Wow. How quickly time flies. It has now been two and a half years since I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease limited systemic sclerosis (AKA scleroderma), and I joined the rare disease club. When last I reported on my progress I was at the end of a tough year; lung disease, oxygen, a referral to palliative care, gastroparesis, and constant pain. I was having trouble walking and my stomach was really acting up; I was losing weight at the rate of a pound a week. Ugh. I was somewhat upbeat by the end of the second year since I was off oxygen, but still, things weren’t really all that great.

Mitts and bracelet
Look at the cute mitts I made in teal, the color of scleroderma. I got that bracelet last fall at a scleroderma patient education conference that loaded me up with lots of great information.

What a difference six months can make. A change in medication made my Raynaud’s much easier to handle. I started doing yoga (carefully) a few months ago and added tart cherry extract as an anti-inflammatory that I can tolerate better than traditional NSAIDs. I bought shoes that felt better on my feet (Haflinger clogs) and got serious with stretching exercises for the plantar fasciitis I developed due to tightening on the bottoms of my feet. I switched to a gastroparesis diet that is mostly easy-to-digest, low fiber foods (got to love pasta and yogurt to do this one…) and began to add some blended  fruits and veggies. My weight loss stopped and I started to gain back some weight. My skin has started to loosen up on my right arm (scleroderma literally means “hard skin” as the most obvious symptom is thick, hard skin that develops as the result of systemic scarring), which is pretty darn exciting!  Over the last six months my energy has been slowly coming up and I have been managing with less pain; I can even walk normally! I’m breathing better and I rarely need to use the rescue inhaler. There was a Sjogren’s flare, but still, things are better.

I just finished making the latest round of testing and doctor visits, and I have to say, it is pretty exciting to visit with happy smiling doctors. My pulmonologist was almost giddy! My lungs and heart have maintained (scleroderma damage tends to be forever…) with almost no new damage; I am right at the edge of trouble, but I’m not there yet. I have good blood work, and even had the first NORMAL kidney function test in over 5 years. My red blood cell count is back down in normal range, and my muscle strength has improved so much I can now easily push shopping carts.  It seems that the increased dosage of immunosuppressants has turned the tide and I am stable. STABLE!! What a wonderful word that is.

I will continue with all of my current drugs for now and there will be more testing in a year, but it is clear that I have definitely pulled up from the nose dive that they through I was in a year ago.

Life is good.

Back to knitting!!