Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A gift of time

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

I'm so glad for the positive outcomes your mom had recently, and am relieved that the "unknowns" became "knowns," and that there was a course of action to make things better.

Also, you are the youngest looking 50-year-old I know.

I am supposed to be in class at this very moment, but my professor has the flu, so I'm home a couple of hours earlier than usual today -- a "gift of time" given to me, which I'm using to update our blog.

Since the last time I wrote, I spent two weeks on a clinical assignment in the hospital. From that experience I want to tell everybody that smoking is a risk factor for really, really bad things. Also, if you're going to drink, be responsible about it and don't fall backwards into a gas fireplace and burn 17% of your body's skin surface. As most people probably already know, there is so much raw humanity in the hospital, and I came away from the experience feeling so grateful for so many things I take for granted.
I'm in the sixth week of the spring semester (spring break in just a couple of weeks!!), and I started a new sweater -- Basic Chic Hoodie -- which is exactly the kind of pattern I need when school is in session -- mindless, quick, and something I don't have to make any calculations for...except I'm going to do the front ribbing slightly differently...and I'm doing "one-row buttonholes" instead of the little YO and K2tog as given. I have about a sleeve and a half (note the double pointed needles my left arm is sporting in the photo), a hood, and the button bands left to go. Also, one pocket lining (note hole in right front of sweater).

You brought up an interesting point about the projects we each choose. My favorite things to make are sweaters, and I keep thinking I should do smaller projects because I can finish them faster, yet I'm not as drawn to them. Comments from any of our readers regarding your preferences?

Well, I should go forth and get something else done during my extra free-time today (maybe work on my fleece robe, which is all cut out and ready to sew).

I hope this finds you well!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Norovirus, Fifty, Fibrillation and Felting....

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Hello!! I love your "Must Have Cardigan!" You make such beautiful sweaters - I am always inspired. I feel like I gravitate to small projects, so I'm always impressed by your sweaters. And you are so good at the finishing details! Good job!

I don't really know how January got away from me, but it sure did. Let's see if I can expand on the title a bit.

My mom has been troubled for years by spells where she suddenly feels weak and tired. They can last for seconds or minutes, and usually she then has to spend the rest of the day in bed. They were always very random - usually at least a month in between, and sometimes she could go for several months with no problems. Obviously, this was a bit of a diagnostic nightmare, what with the randomness and all. Just before Christmas, it began happening more frequently, and was accompanied by rapid or irregular heartbeats that she could feel. They often happened at night, and were lasting up to an hour. Her family doctor ordered a few tests, but the first go round didn't show anything. And once again, they were still relatively random, just more frequent. Early in January, she and dad drove to Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN. She wore a 24-hour monitor while they were there, but that happened to be a time where she went almost a week with no problem, so nothing showed up. They noticed a bit of irregular heart-beat, but nothing they felt explained the problem, or that posed a threat. They sent her home with an order for a 30-day monitor.

She got that on January 12th, and faithfully pressed the record button and sent in the readings every time she noticed something unusual. After the first week, she noticed that the unit recorded on its own sometimes, even when she hadn't felt anything. Shortly after that started happening, her family doctor called (he was getting a copy of the readings) and said that she needed to see a cardiolgist sooner rather than later, so they had an appointment the next day. Finally - a diagnosis!! Atrial Fibrillation...plus there's some other stuff with rapid or irregular heartbeats....so they prescribed a medication which took care of most of the problems within 3 days. She began feeling good again for the first time in almost a month! It didn't eliminate all the slower missed beats, and so they want to increase the dose, but in order to do that they need to put in a pacemaker to be sure that the medication doesn't slow her heart too much. They will do that next Thursday, and it sounds like a relatively basic procedure with a short recovery. We're so happy to know what is wrong and what needs to be done!

Meanwhile, dad has had to travel to Kentucky several times for business issues, so we've all had lifestyle changes this last 6 weeks. (After 50 years, they are both still adamant that there was a reason they got married and it wasn't to live apart from each other!) Not to mention more mundane things like mom didn't feel well enough to really go anywhere or do anything, she doesn't have a car when dad is gone, even if she did want to run to the post office or something, I haven't been able to carpool very often, so she couldn't use my car.....we had a bit of a trial-run on the switching of caretaker roles! My brothers all live very close, and two of them have their own business, so they've been able to take care of any driving that she needed during the day, which has been really great. I only really took off work a couple of times so that I could be at a Dr. appointment.

The day that the doctor called and sent her to the cardiologist, I was hit by a bout of stomach flu that I picked up at my brother's house. (When I last posted, I was taking meals to their family while my sil recovered from childbirth. Their toddler brought home the stomach flu from the sitter, and it went through my brother and 13-year-old niece, but spared my sil and the new baby!) It hit me at work on a day that I rode carpool, so I had to call for a ride home. I isolated myself in my apartment to try to keep mom from catching it, and we disinfected everything in sight. She did eventually get it, however, and my dad as well, but we've all recovered by now. Mom mentioned an article in the paper about the flu that was going around, so I looked it up, and it's called a "Norovirus." This is just not right!! Noro is a LOVELY yarn with colors that I particularily love. Something this miserable should be named after {insert the name of a yarn that you particularily dislike}!! ~cough~redheart~cough~

So, we've covered the Norovirus and the fibrillation. Fifty is for my 50th birthday, which fell right in the middle of all of this. I was 4 days recovered from the flu, mom had been on her medication for 3 days and was starting to feel better, and no-one in the family had active flu symptoms. A brief window for a great party!

Family and friends gathered at mom & dad's to celebrate. We planned a Euchre party, but in the end we had so much fun laughing and talking that we never did get around to playing cards! I was born on one of my aunt's 30th birthday, and she was able to be there as well, so we got to celebrate together! I got wonderful prezzies - including a gift-certificate to one of my LYS from Not Worthy, a laptop hideaway from RPW, and some beautiful yarn from Knitting at Lunch!
She gave me this Silk Rhapsody in "Cynthia Colors" (which I think would make a Pretty Thing and is incredibly soft) and some lovely Baby Bamboo 'to make something for Audrey!' I can't wait to get to those projects!!!


Speaking of projects. "What about Knitting, Cynthia?" you ask. "Surely you've been knitting??" HA! Hardly any,

I say! Not much at ALL.

I've made slight progress on my Noro Scarf. It's just 1x1 rib, and it's been on the needles since.....Oh My.

November 17th. Let's not talk about that.

I did make a pair of felted mittens for my mom. She has had Reynaud's Syndrome for about 10 years, and so needs to keep her hands warm. I've knitted her several pairs of mittens, but this winter has been colder than usual, and she's been here instead of Kentucky, so she has noticed it more. And the medication she is now taking has a side effect of worsening her cold hands. SO, I did plug away and get some felted mittens knitted. It is not as cold as it was, but she'll still get good use of them yet this winter. I got the pattern and yarn from Knitting Today, because I loved the sample pair in the shop.
The yarn is "Shepherds Wool" by Stonehedge Fiber Mill, and is it so very soft. Often I find that yarns for felting are a bit coarse, but this is almost silky soft, even after felting! These have ribbed cuffs that you sew into the mittens after felting, and that step is the last bit I have to do on this project, so it's really ALMOST finished.The first mitten took me 2 and 1/2 weeks, but I buckled down and got the second one done in just 5 days, so things must be slowing down. (Well, I did get their tax information mailed to the accountant - getting that ready must have been what slowed me down. Right?)

Ok, I'm going to call this 'caught up for now.' I think that covers most of the big stuff, and so we can move on from here. And hopefully this period of relative calm will continue......

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)