Rocking the Week #6

Here is my crazy week with a lot of picture support.

Bee on blooms.
Last Thursday I went to the first appointment with palliative care. On the way in from the parking lot I had to walk under blooming trees. Look! The first bee of the season. 🙂 You know, it was hard to get this shot with the phone camera… I think that I entertained some of the other visitors to the clinic while I chased this little guy around.

I’m pretty sure I’ve flunked out of palliative care. Here’s the problem: I need someone to help me manage my overall medical care (since I have six different doctors at this point…) but they don’t really do that. They do help people with serious end of life decisions and provide medical options to ensure their comfort; I got some great advice and then they kind of turned me loose back into the health care stream. I’m kind of a catch and release palliative care patient: they will call every three months to check on me, but basically I’m doing pretty well. I have a serious illness, but I’m not yet seriously ill enough to really justify taking up their time. I’m already doing a lot of the things that they encourage patients to do (and so do all of you, too.) It’s really important to do something that helps with stress like meditation (or knitting, spinning, and weaving!) and they told me to start keeping a journal (Oh, you blog? Never mind! Just carry on with that, they said.) Really, it was encouraging. They told me to use the inhaler as much as I want and to go to more frequent appointments with my primary care doctor. Check. I can do that. 🙂

It is good to think about end of life decisions, though. Here’s how I reacted: I called my kids (and grandson) and told them that we need to all go to Walt Disney World for a fun vacation. We will ride the Monorail, buy Micky Mouse ear hats, go to the Star Wars attractions, and it will be wonderful. I’m also systematically cleaning out all of my junk from cupboards and the garage. Does anyone want my Great-Aunt Alice’s set of crystal platters? How about a classroom set of homemade DNA models? A well-used heavy duty 3-hole punch? Right. All those things are out of here!!

Hummus
Friday I decided to go wild and made homemade chickpea hummus using the recipe from fellow blogger Ros (Cooking Up The Pantry). I cooked the chickpeas in my crock pot for 6 hours on low, and then everything went into the food processor. Oh, my goodness! Several days later I am still eating it with veggies and warmed flat bread. Yumm!! All of the food Ros has in her blog is to die for. Seriously. I would knit for her for food.
Weaving
I’m still weaving on the dishtowels. I’m getting towards the end of the warp: this is the fifth towel in the set. Weaving is really quality time for me. I worry about the plot of the book I’m reading, come up with my grocery shopping list, and dream up new patterns for fingerless mitts. Once I’m in the zone it is like magic.
Pansies.
The last two days have been warm and I’ve started clearing out the flower beds. Look! Pansies that survived the winter!
Phlox
and of course the Phlox has started blooming. I have a big bed of this and it keeps sending out satellite colonies of phlox all over the yard.
Shawl
Not only did the phlox start blooming, I got the Waiting for Rain (by Sylvia Bo Bilvia) shawl finished. The colors in this yarn look just like the phlox to me. This is a perfect springtime shawl! Here are my project notes on Ravelry.
Edge of shawl.
Isn’t the yarn yummy? this is LYDIA sock yarn in the colorway Garden Party. I added a picot edge to the bind off. 
Book and knitting
Tonight I’m working on my Snowfling Mitts again and reading my current book. The suspense in the book is just killing me. Every few chapters I have to take a little knitting break. 🙂 If you can’t read the title that is Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline.

It has been really nice this week; warm and sunny with blooms and bees. However, this is Colorado; we have a winter storm warning posted for tomorrow because a humongous storm is roaring in to dump huge amounts of moisture for the next 5 days. Seriously. I’m wondering how many inches of snow is made by four inches of water. The storm is the big story on the news and each update reports it to be building in intensity from the last report. Yikes! Maybe I should pick up speed on the mitten knitting.

That’s OK. I have hummus, books and yarn. I am all good.

Have a great weekend everyone. If you should happen to see a snow shovel, think of me.

 

 

 

Rocked by the Week

Wow, the week just sort of rushed by without me getting much of anything done. Mostly I have been going to doctor’s appointments and getting tests done; lots of energy being drained away without a single knitted object to show for it. What is up with that?!! This week I didn’t do any rocking; it was more like getting rocked by the week this time.

Still, there have been accomplishments. Check out the finally finished slippers that I made from the Dream in Color kit I bought a few weeks ago:

Slippers
The color is a little dark as it was really cloudy when I took the shot. These are the Pleasant Pheasant Slippers (by Laura Neel) made with Classy with Cashmere in the February 2016 colorway. So nice and comfy!!
Slippers
Here a shot I took of the slippers the sunny day I started them. Aren’t the colors fabulous? They are very warm and cushy, and did I mention the cashmere?
Shawl
I am still working (and working and working) on my Waiting for Rain shawl. It is getting there. Really, it is…

But mostly I spent the week in doctors offices or in bed reading my latest series of compulsive reads: the Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James. They are fast cozy mystery reads that feature a murder-mystery solving librarian with a giant Maine Coon cat sidekick. I enjoy the books, but it kind of bothers me that the cat on the front cover, who is excessively handsome, is not really looking all that much like a Maine Coon to me. I kind of know about this because Yellow Boy is a Maine Coon mix.

Cat
He has a huge ruff, lots of hair in his ears, and those paws! They are giant, furry Ugg-boot paws with fur between all of his toe pads. Yellow Boy isn’t a giant cat, but if he was he would look like this guy who has been traveling the internet…
Diesel, the cat in the book is 35 pounds. Kind of like this guy I think. Maine Coons have lots of fur, and then there is the tail!
book cover
Here’s a cover from one of the books. Handsome cat, but where is the ruff and huge fluffy tail? 

Still, a small detail. Perhaps the artist had a particularly well groomed cat for the model. The mysteries are fun and I am chomping right through them. There is a housekeeper named Azalea in the books who takes care of the house cleaning, shopping and leaves yummy food in the fridge for people to eat when she isn’t cooking up killer breakfasts for them. She even does the laundry. I need Azalea. Seriously, maybe one of the doctors can write a prescription for Azalea for me. 🙂

I hoarded up energy so I could go to the Interweave Yarn Fest on Friday. What a trip! What a great day! But that, my friends, is another blog post.

 

 

Trail of Crumbs

I have been struggling for weeks and weeks now. I had the flu not long after Christmas and it just never completely went away. I have a pain in my chest, a cough, fatigue, and I just run out of air more easily than I should. Seriously. I have trouble talking and breathing at the same time if I come up the stairs at home. This isn’t reasonable. I was having trouble climbing stairs before I got sick, but now things are ridiculous!

This is the joy of life with a serious chronic illness. There are so many little symptoms and problems it is hard to know what’s important and what is just another day of systemic sclerosis. I tend to wait out symptoms for a couple of weeks before I contact a doctor; then I’m at the mercy of waiting for lab results and a call back. Ugh! Things drag on for days and weeks as I process through my medical team asking them to find out what is wrong with me.

Cat
Mom stays in bed all day reading mystery books that feature a librarian and a giant Maine coon cat. What is up with that?

For two months I have been bouncing back and forth between my rheumatologist and my internist. My rheumatologist has been concerned that my heart is misbehaving (and sends me on to the internist), and the internist suspects that my lungs are to blame (and refers me back to the rheumatologist). It’s like following a trail of crumbs hunting for answers to an ill-formed question. No test result provided a clear diagnosis.

Except I can’t breathe, and it seems to be getting worse.

Two weeks ago on my way home from my weekly knitting group I was hit with a surge of assertive self-determination. Time to stop acting like a victim, I told myself. Instead of going home I drove for another hour north and requested a full copy of all my medical reports from the hospital where my pulmonary function and echocardiogram tests were done. I knitted on my shawl in the lobby while waiting for the reports, and then took them home with me in my knitting bag.

Shawl
Look at this shawl! I’m through the first section of short row lace. This is the Waiting for Rain shawl by Sylvia Bo Bilvia.

I am a lucky, lucky woman. I have a molecular biology degree and I once worked in a rheumatology research lab. I taught advanced placement biology for years and I know a lot more anatomy and physiology then the average patient with my condition. I should be able to follow the trail of crumbs within the stack of medical records, I reasoned. I laid out the lab reports in sequence, looked for patterns of change in my lung and heart test results, and took to the internet to understand what strange acronyms meant. I found a presentation that explained pulmonary function tests. Well, dang. Even though the summary notes from the physicians who interpreted my lab test used words like mild, early, and upper range of normal, it was clear to me that my lungs were getting worse over time. Maybe a lot worse.

I emailed my rheumatologist a note telling him that I had picked up up my tests and saw that my results suggested early interstitial lung disease (the summary of the latest test). I reminded him of my symptoms and asked about next steps for me in addressing/diagnosing my ongoing problems. Here’s the deal: an email is part of my official medical record. More than a phone call, it should provoke a response.

Oh, it did! I received a call within an hour from his office. In the next week I had two phone conferences, another echocardiogram, and a referral to a pulmonologist. I was able to refer to specific data in all of my conversations with my doctors. I got a prescription for a badly needed rescue inhaler. Finally! Forward progress!!

Yesterday I saw the pulmonologist. It was a beautiful warm day and a perfect drive through the countryside to get there. What a wonderful, wonderful doctor! She made it clear that I am not over-reacting, I do need better coordination of my health care, and she will be a warrior for me. I wanted to hug her. Here’s what happened during the visit:

I do have interstitial lung disease, and it is serious; almost 20% of my lung volume is already gone. This is bad news because it happened while I was receiving drugs to treat the systemic sclerosis. I will be completing more tests over the next week to nail down the diagnosis, but there is already so much damage that she will coordinate immediately with my rheumatologist about treatment options; she sent him the message while I was still in the office. I think that I will be seeing more/different meds in the near future. I may be going on oxygen overnight. I hope that I don’t have to do IV infusions. I have been referred to palliative care and will be receiving a case manager to help me locate resources and to coordinate my ongoing care with the medical team. I plan to ask the case manager if I should be referred to a scleroderma specialist at the University of Colorado, but I totally want to keep this pulmonologist!!

After so much time trying to get some answers/help the response was actually overwhelming. I came home and for the first time since I was diagnosed I cried.

Welcome Bear
The front yard “welcome bear” could still be seen between snow drifts when I went out to shovel. Cute, huh!

Today I woke up to a full-blown blizzard; howling wind and almost 2 feet of snow! I didn’t get any calls about medical appointments and I certainly didn’t make any. I knitted, shoveled snow (slowly!) and enjoyed the break from the immediate crisis. I started the next book in my mystery series. I worked some more on my shawl; it is going to be beautiful.  My roses are safely enveloped in an insulating three foot drift of snow.  I was able to successfully advocate for myself and secure medical treatment. Tomorrow the sun will be back out and I will start scheduling appointments.

This is not the journey that I would have chosen for myself, but I will travel it as well as I can, knitting, reading and tending my roses all the way.

Life is good.

 

Rocking the Week #4

It is March in Colorado, which means we are in the midst of endless weather adventure. This last week we experienced a march of weather fronts that came through the state with wind, wind, and more wind. It was sunny but still miserable for cats and people.

Cat
It was so windy the cats were afraid to go outside. I finally made Morgan a little fort by hanging a blanket over the patio table and chairs: he stayed in his fort most of the day Tuesday! Here he is under the table sitting on a chair under the blanket.

I was pretty miserable myself. Usually my joints are OK, but this week all of my tendons took to hurting. Gee, there are a lot of tendons in a human body! Not only did my hands and wrists hurt, but so did my knees, hips, feet… well, pretty much if it moves, it hurt. I finally had to resort to pain killers and spent a lot of time in bed this week.

NYPD RED 4
Hello books! I polished off the last two books in this series of murder action/thriller books. These are fast reads and aren’t literary masterpieces (the authors did not spend great blocks of time agonizing over the correct descriptive phrases to use…), but they were just the ticket for me. All right, they were actually kind of silly and predictable, sort of like a racy (and totally unrealistic) detective show on television, but exactly the type of mindless escapism that I needed with sore knees and aching hands.
Cat and book
MacKenzie spent the whole time laying on my legs while I was reading. He’s kind of like a purring, foot-kneading heating pad. What a good cat he is!!
Rose
Thursday I crawled out to the grocery store and found this wonderful little rose bush there while I was loading the cart with the essentials of life: chocolate, soup and guacamole dip. Hey, my knees hurt!!
Pantry Disaster
Cheered up by the roses I took on a little job: look at this disaster of a pantry. There was no room to put away my new bag of corn chips for the guacamole! Clearly a crisis.
Cleaned Pantry
Look what I accomplished in a half hour! OK, there were three bags of trash to take out. I really don’t think that I should eat food that is over 10 years old, do you?
Soup bowl pot holder
Friday it snowed 6 inches and oddly enough my hands felt better. Time to be productive: I made myself some cute soup bowl pot holders to use in the microwave. These are the most useful little items ever. My hands don’t grip well in the best of times, and this week they were really unhappy. These holders allow me to handle the hot bowls of soup with zero risk of accidents! The pattern was online and really easy to sew. I made two holders in about 90 minutes using fabric and batting from my stash. The pattern is from Seams Happy and can be located here.
Knitting
Last night I returned to knitting and made some progress on my “Waiting for Rain” shawl Look at that short row lace! It is much easier than it looks.
Lace
and look at how nice my new stitch markers look on the lace!
Robin in tree
Now it is Saturday, the snow is almost melted away, and the sky is blue and sunny. Look closely at the left end of the tree branch. No, not the white patch of snow, the other end of the branches. Can you almost see the beak? That my friend is the FIRST ROBIN OF SPRING! He was on the ground when I first saw him, but for some crazy reason he flew as I stalked crept up to try to get the picture. Still, I can absolutely verify that he is a robin. 

That’s right, it is now spring. We are in for weeks of chaotic weather, but the plants will be coming back to life, the birds will be arriving soon, and I can’t help but be happy. Today my hands feel fine, I’m going to heat up some soup for dinner using my new bowl holders,  and then I have a beautiful shawl to knit.

It turns out that this was a pretty good week after all.

Rainy Day Story

I have been knitting on mitts like crazy, but for some reason I have shifted my interest to shawls. Seriously, I am dreaming about lacy shawls and the yarns in the stash. Must. Have. A. New. Shawl. It is a serious case of shawl longing for sure. It is less than a month from the Interweave Yarn Fest and I need to be flashing a new shawl when I go. It’s a matter of pride.

And besides, it is raining outside today. Gloomy. Cold. I can’t be expected to knit in these conditions. I need to go on a pattern hunt and then it is time for some serious stash shopping.

Yarn
Lydia Sock Yarn in the colorways “Garden Party” and “Forbidden Fruit”

I think that the whole “I need to knit a shawl” thing started when I saw this yarn at the local yarn shop. Doesn’t it look like a great warm weather shawl? I want the body of the shawl to be in the light color and the bright yarn will be used for some type of color pop. Maybe knitted lace at the bottom of the shawl can be in the bright color. I have some shawls in my shopping cart at Ravelry (OK. There are 58 items in the shopping cart. Some of those must be shawls, right?), so I headed on over there to see what I could find buy.

 Image credit: Softsweater

 

We have a winner! This is Waiting for Rain by Sylvia Bo Bilvia. I’ll be adding lace to the bottom and maybe some other pops of the bright color yarn. I bought several other shawl patterns that were in my cart while I was there with a smoking PayPal account. Here they are:

Well, once I had all of those patterns printed out I headed up to the stash to dig around and match yarns with the patterns. My stash is in the walk-in closet in the spare bedroom, so I took my laptop and a latte up with me and dived in.

Computer and yarns
As I  matched yarns with the patterns I entered them into my queue on Ravelry. How organized is that?! I was digging through lots of yarn as I made my decisions so I just gave up and…
working on the floor of the stash room
worked on the floor of the stash room surrounded by little tubs of yarn as I made decisions and assembled the kits for the shawls.
Yarn in kit
This is one of the shawl kits. I have the yarn for “Waiting for Rain” together with the pattern and the needles that I am going to use. This is the shawl that I plan on starting as soon as I’m done with the current projects. (I may even be able to stick to this plan… mostly. I can cast on a few more projects this week too, right?) I have the yarn and patterns for “Exploration Station” and “Solaris” also in this kit, but am still deciding on the final yarns that I will use. “Exploration Station” is the one that is the hardest for me to make a decision on: a new yarn color may need to acquired.
Yarn and pattern
The other shawl that I am dying to cast on is this Best Friends Shawl that I plan to get done in time for a friend’s birthday. The pattern is for two shawls with the colors reversed. My friend will get one one and I get to keep the other. It will be great!! I can’t wait to see how these two colors play together. I put this shawl in the number 2 slot in the queue.

I am so fired up and energized to get knitting on the new shawl projects. Check out my Ravelry queue; it is now really shawl intensive. This afternoon the sun came out and I spent some time knitting on the current projects. I do believe that I will have some FOs to show off by the end of the week.

About stinking time I got something finished.