I’m BACK!

December 7, 2010

This past year I’ve been doing less and less. When I graduated last December I was more functional than I’ve been this entire year. It’s been frustrating to say the least. I feel like I’ve lost enough of my life due to these accidents and having the gains I had made over the past few years falling away was brutal. When I couldn’t keep dyeing yarn or even posting about my exploits it nearly killed what was left of my soul. Being banished to the only (moderately) quiet and dark place I have to go, my mother’s basement, just hasn’t been very satisfying. Thankfully things got so bad this past November that they’re getting better.

Those of my Chronic Bitches and any others who have spent the past few years on OxyContin know exactly what I’m talking about. Having been on the same dose for way too long, I’d been feeling worse and worse with time. To make matters worse, on Halloween night, I started the first dose of the new OP pills. Sure, they may be harder to abuse, but they’re also impossible to digest leaving pain patients to suffer through withdrawal and worse, the full force of the underlying pain they’ve been trying to hide. Thankfully, withdrawal for me isn’t too bad. I get super sweaty (which makes using the TENS impossible because electricity + sweat = all sorts of zaps and hurts), super cold, and my sleeping gets even worse. I don’t get a runny nose or flu-like at all. Some muscle aches, but nothing too horrid. All in all, not that bad and compared to the pain I’ve been living with, VERY short lived. What got me was how bad I hurt. When I hurt like that I thrash about trying to find any position or movement that relieves the pain. This thrashing about only further injures me. I’ve been having minor to moderate thrashing bits for about a year and a half since the old dose wasn’t working anymore and then suddenly, I literally had to use every fiber of my being to stay still because I know the thrashing makes things worse. By the time my physical therapist asked me to wear a cervical collar until we figured out how to get the pain under control I was very happy to wear one.

My old doctor’s office (and their after hours answering service) refused to believe that the change in pills could cause any of this and treated me like a criminal for stating the simple fact that I needed help getting my pain under control ASAP. The urgent care I finally went into (no health insurance makes it a very expensive proposition) proceeded to lecture me, told me that this was my own fault for not managing my meds effectively, that it wasn’t possible for the OP pills to be giving me any problems (unless I was an addict who was snorting them or whatever the fuck people do with them), and gave me some completely useless pills to last me a whopping 3 days, until Monday. Because of course you can get an appointment with a new pain doctor that fast after a holiday weekend!

Thankfully Tuesday morning I got in to see someone my PT had suggested I see. She looked at me a little sideways until she found out who sent me. Then, I actually got to explain my problems to someone who would listen…for over an hour! I kept talking at warp speed. I’m so used to having to get through everything in those typical 4-6 minute appointments! Ultimately, I got put on new pain meds, in a dose that actually works for me without being treated like a criminal. Within 24 hours of starting the new pills, the changes were so dramatic I wouldn’t have believed them if I hadn’t been caught inside of them!

The pain is lower than it’s been since…before the wrecks, 4+ years ago. I still feel the hurt, but it’s shockingly manageable. I don’t feel all dizzy and drugged like I have any time the pain has been knocked down in the past. My brain actually works again! I can keep track of what row and stitch I’m knitting! Last night I pulled out a rather heavy textbook about headaches and was able to follow it through the few pages I was interested in, even though I had a bad headache! I got to go play with my friend’s kids for the first time in months and months. I was just as overexcited as the kids were! I took my dogs on a short walk after my PT appointment last week. The dogs hardly knew what to do. They’ve not really been on any walks since early last winter and even those were rather sparse! I even went to knitting group for the first time since July! I feel like if I can get back some strength just maybe I could work again, probably not a scheduled job because of the fact that pain doesn’t adhere to a schedule, but maybe be a writer or work more on knitting patterns and yarn dyeing.

The most exciting thing right now is that I’m knitting Christmas gifts for my family. I’m way to broke to buy them anything though I’d kill to go shopping. I desperately want to get out and be a part of the world now that I can for aa few hours a day! Sitting in the same cell I’ve been trapped in for the past year and a half just doesn’t feel like it’s got any holiday spirit to it. Maybe I should decorate. BUT, the point is, I’m making holiday gifts for the people I love. I was dreading the empty handed holidays. I’d given up around Halloween. I couldn’t even finish my costume, or my mom’s birthday present. Thankfully, my mom is the kind of person who still gets rather excited when you show her a tangled mess of yarn and explain what you were trying to get done. I may not get all my holiday gifts done in time, but there will be a few!

My goal for this year was to get good enough at knitting that I could start writing patterns. After the first wreck and the loss of work, I’d started working very hard on putting together a set of crochet pretend food patterns (this was way before Tasty Crochet) and then had to quit with the second wreck when I lost the ability to crochet. I found a dog sweater I’d attempted when I was trying to learn to knit in 03. I’m unraveling it as I knit on my brother S’s gift. The progress I’ve made even with the hell I’ve been through this past year is incredible. Just in this one picture, you can see how I used to unintentionally twist every stitch and how irregular my tension was. On the right, you can see the torso of the ‘doll’ I’m knitting. The gauge is an even tight fabric (to hold in the stuffing) and there are no twisted stitches.

I’m very pleased that in this year of hell I’ve made some progress in something even if it seems like the shreds I’d been clinging to of my previous life have all slipped away. I’ve missed several trips this year, including one to Europe. I’ve missed weddings, parties, dates, meals, countless night’s sleep, and just the feeling of the sun on my face as I stroll around with my dogs. But, I’m coming back now. I can’t think of anything I’d rather have this Christmas than this hope that I’m not stuck in the pained state I’ve been in for the past year and a half. Just having a clear head is worth everything. I’m not sure how fast, or even what I should/shouldn’t be doing given how bad the pain the drugs are hiding really is, but now that I’ve got a spark of strength and the hope that there is someone new who actually believes in helping me through my pain rather than ignoring my gradual decline, consider me back.

I’ve only prepared one gift thus far. I needed to get a gift to my physical therapist early, before we both take holiday breaks. I personally hate gift wrap. I like the process of wrapping, but I always feel so guilty with so much trash on Christmas morning. I used left over material from the shirt I cut up to make pants for Ben’s Halloween costume and made a little bag to fit the Wii game I needed to wrap. I used a cookie cutter for the pattern to make the snowflake and hand stitched it on with white yarn. I also used white yarn to make a double chain for the drawstring. Mike liked the game of course and I can’t wait to see what he thinks of it, but what really made me feel all warm and fuzzy was his appreciation for the awesome little bag.

I’m preparing more for my graduation party than Christmas at this point. Graduation is the 18th and very rapidly approaching. I’m having a Donnie Darko themed graduation party. For those of you who haven’t seen the film, it’s basically going to be an 80’s Halloween party. That means we have an excuse for COSTUMES! My brother wasn’t sure of what to go as, but he LOVES South Park. He asked me to make him a Stan Marsh hat so that he could be Stan. I had left over blue fleece from making Ben’s costume and some scraps of red. The fleece was fantastic. It really looks like a cartoon!

Not bad at all for a quick thing to whip out of scraps in the closet! Dexter is really happy about it. Apparently, now I have to make the rest of the gang so we can all dress up and go places. I get to be Kyle (green is my favorite color), and Scott will be Cartman (the size fits). I’m sure after the hats I’ll be making little red gloves and a collar for a brown shirt.

One of my dear friends, Kat, came over and after having an adventure shopping, we decided to have a craft evening. She really wanted a pair of shark gloves like I made, but she didn’t know how to sew. I tried to convince her we needed easier projects to start with, but she insisted on shark gloves. I stitched the really curved seams, but she really got it and did much more than I expected her to be able to. I can’t wait till we get to have another craft night.

I decided that I needed a project to do too rather than just help with shark gloves. I’d been contemplating zombie dolls for a while and used a silly little pattern from an ancient book my mom passed on to me, “The Woman’s Day Book of Soft Toys & Dolls” by Joan Russell. You can find a copy of this indespensible book here on Amazon. This doll is the doll’s doll, Amy’s Small Doll, on page 253. I used baby blue fleece for the doll to get a good zombie color and made up a zombie face that has a thread embroidered frown and fleece applique eyes. The jumper is from the book and I just whipped out a little applique skull from a scrap of pink fleece and some black thread. The pink shirt is based on the pajama shirt pattern in the book but altered so there’s no snaps. I put the shirt on the doll before I stuffed her so it’s semipermanent. I used a glittery punk fabric from Walmart. It’s like skulls and crossbones, only there are hearts atop the crossbones instead and the whole fabric has a dusting of silver glitter. A stretch knit would have been much better, but I couldn’t pass up the pattern. The hair is the first time I’ve ever done yarn doll hair. It’s black RedHeart with scraps of pink lavender ribbon.

I just love her innocent and childish but still zombie face. When I get the chance I’d like to continue making more zombie dolls–whole families and even dolls to look like people I know. Those would be great Halloween gifts, zombie versions of that person! I may make some more, but with simplified hair just for that purpose. I may also work in some variations as Kat and I have decided we need more craft nights to decompress from school and let out our inner creativity/kid. We’ve been discussing making some ugly dolls, and I think zombies count.