Doing Big Things

February 7, 2011

Most people don’t understand how big a big accomplishment is to someone who’s facing any kind of disability, much less the agonizing chronic pain I’m fighting anytime I’m awake. Actually, even in my dreams I have pain now. Sleep can no longer be the hiding place it once was. It’s just no good when the nightmare zombies can catch you because you’re having a high pain day and can’t escape fast enough hobbling along on your cane!

Back on the big accomplishments though because zombies eating the weakest members of the human herd is rather lame. My big accomplishment is cleaning. I’ve been living like a slob since the first wreck in 2006. I moved just before I was injured, so most of my stuff was still in boxes. The place I lived before I moved was clean and obsessively organized, but very cramped and not in a very safe spot. Someone had tried to carjack me in my own parking lot the same week my landlord decided to raise my rent. That’s a lethal combination to anyone trying to keep their renters. My my pain hasn’t let up since and all my minor gains toward normalcy have been full of other requirements, like trying to graduate.

Now that I’m past the OxyContin nightmares of November and I have a new doctor who is actually willing to treat my pain rather than ignore it, I have a few functional hours each day that I didn’t have before. I’ve been in a flare since the American Idol headache started, but in my functional time before that went south and sent me back into last year’s pain, I cleaned. I even unpacked some boxes that hadn’t been unpacked in several moves. That’s a HUGE deal for anyone, but now try to do it in pain that’s described by many people who’ve been through both as “making childbirth seem like a walk in the park.”

Here’s an afterthought before photo of my bedroom. I’d already started cleaning when this shot was taken. The angle also hides a huge garbage bag of dirty towels, a tower of yarn, paperwork, and random junk as tall as my nightstand, my messy nightstand that was heaped up over a foot tall on the top surface and who’s drawers wouldn’t close, and the disaster spilling from the closet. I wish I’d been able to capture it all in a before photo, but my current living arrangement is cramped and it’s hard to get a picture of everything at once. I’d have to knock out a few walls to do that. So, before:

Now, here are two photos from 12 days later.

 

I cleaned everything. I even dusted, vacuumed, and steam cleaned the floors. I even washed the blankets on the bed, not just the sheets. How’s that for doing something BIG? I’ve still got a lot left to clean, and my pace has slowed drastically since my headache and nerve randomness has gotten worse, but I’m really proud of myself. It’s not staying quite this spotless, but running the vacuum every other week looks like it should be possible. I can’t tell you how excited that makes me. Heck, I’ve even washed my sheets since this photo was taken on the 21st. I’m thinking once a week clean sheets is something everyone should have.

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.

Week 3 300 Stitch KAL

August 17, 2010

This week we’ll be only doing 3 swatches for a total of 6 points since last week we had 8 points. Here’s the plan:

Swatch 15 Knit and Purl Diagonals: cast on 20 stitches and work for 20 rows. Note: this with require working 2 charts and a half rather than just a complete number of charts.

Swatch 16 Lozenges stitch: cast on 20 and work for 20 rows. Here you will also do 2.5 repeats of the chart. It looks best if you do 2 stitches of the chart, the two full repeats and then 2 stitches of the chart to break your half into two one-quarter sections of the chart.

Swatch 17 Squares within squares: cast on 36 and work in pattern for 48 rows. Due to size, this should be your most time consuming swatch this week.

Get ready for next week as it’ll be a bigger challenge. We’ll be working stitches 18-20 and they’ll all be rather large swatches due to the large pattern repeats. I’m getting so excited. We’re almost half way through the first chapter. I’m really eager to get to some harder patterns, cables, and lace.

I’m working on a zombie swap on Ravelry. This little zombie doll I made long ago had been helping me. She’s been trained to assist me in my crafting much like a zombie in “Fido.” I still haven’t decided if I’ll toss her in the box to my spoilee or not. We’re knitting something epic to say the least. It’s a custom pattern and custom chart I wrote just for my spoilee. I’ll post the pattern when I’m done or add it to my shop after making a few more size options and only after my spoilee has received her box. As I was knitting I realized we’re using Umbrella Corp colored knitting needles! Is this not the most epic of all epic wins? I have a zombie helping me knit a zombie project with zombie colored knitting needles!

I’m still not doing as well as I’d like, but I finally managed to get the pictures off my camera and onto the web. Here’s the main shot with my last batch of dyeing in the back. You can see my recent work is a good deal darker. Pain really keeps you from feeling the bright, summery colors.

The purples pictured here are both Grape Crush, one in worsted weight Peruvian wool and the other in sport weight 75% Merino/25% nylon for socks. The purples up front and the exciting brights in the background are all destined for my etsy shop. Here’s a close up of the new zombie yarn.

I think this will end up going to my spoilee in my zombies and apocalypse themed swap I’m doing with Ravelry’s Odd Ducks group this month (and next). This came out so much gorier than the last batch which is currently on the needles to make some socks as a gift.

July Mystery KAL

July 28, 2010

This month I signed up to do a mystery KAL in my Knitted Toys group on Ravelry. I finally got my little critter done. My original guess based just on the supplies required (black and white yarn) was right! We made a sheep…I’d figured the colorwork for a zebra would unfortunately be beyond too many people’s grasp to make for a good KAL, but I’d have loved to do a zebra. Maybe that’ll be one of my first animal patterns I write. A zebra’s stripes are close enough fair isle would probably work…

Anyhow, here’s my finished sheep! If you need more pictures and info, check out her project page on Ravelry!

I’m calling her Juliana. Her body piece was my first time to every do seed stitch. I only had to unravel one row because it had become ribbing which I think is pretty good for a beginner. I also altered the pattern a bit as it had TONS of seaming. I worked the arms and legs in the round, but not the hands and feet so I’d still be able to stitch in the pipe cleaners I used as stuffing. Her arms have just enough bulk from the yarn and plenty of poses from the doubled up pipe cleaners. I also made her scarf longer than in the pattern and instead of having her knitting on a second scarf, I knit a bitty sock for her to work on. She’s using shortened toothpicks as her double pointed needles.

The little bear beside her is one of those silly little personal things that one keeps on their bookcases. This bear once lived in my little sister’s doll house. When we were playing (mind you I was in college at the time, much younger sister) she said that bear couldn’t play because it had broken it’s leg falling down the stairs. There weren’t even stairs in the doll house! It was two stories, but it lacked stairs. What imagination! I carefully moved the bear, Ruby, to my apartment where I gave my sister some gauze and told her she should bandage up the injuries. This helped, but the bear was still bed ridden. She couldn’t walk on her broken leg. Of course I did the logical thing and built little crutches only an inch tall complete with padded arm rests for Ruby. When it came time for the doll house to find a new home, I just couldn’t pass Ruby along. She lives now tucked amongst my ever growing collection of antique medical texts. It seems an appropriate place. Maybe I’ll have to make Ruby some knitting one day; she and Juliana can have their own KAL.

Mondye July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010

Right now I need to focus more on listing the past two weeks worth of dyeing and less on new dyeing. Plus, I ran out of yarn! Rest assured, more yarn has been dyed and you can get your Mondye fix.

This week I did only 3 hanks of yarn. One is another Orange Crush fingering sock weight yarn. I loved the sample I knit up so much from the first Orange Crush sock yarn, I had to make more right then that night. I also dyed one worsted and one sock yarn each in the Jolly Rancher soda. Each hank was split into 3 smaller, roughly equal hanks and dyed in 3 separate colors to create accent/striping kits for the store. I’m so in love with the Jolly Rancher kits. I’ve still got to package, photograph and list them. I don’t want to though. I just love being able to meander into guy pal’s kitchen and see the colors staring back at me from the drying rack. See what I mean?

This batch of striping sock Jolly Rancher does have one little problem, it tends to go all Packman on you when you aren’t looking!

I’ll be making a sock kit for myself next week and start that just as soon as I’m done with the gift “Punk Entrails” socks I’m working so hard on at the moment. The eyelet rib lace is giving me a bit of trouble. It doesn’t agree well with two-at-a-time on a magic loop. Of course I still was losing my YOs on the DPNs. This will be the last time I EVER do this pattern!