Picking Up

The last month has been – strange.  Very good at times, not so good at others.  Let’s see if I can recap.

I started Lyrica.  It seems to be helping.  I still hurt all the time, but I have more days of functionality.  I can get more things done before I have to crash. I do sometimes still crash though, and crash hard.  One of the newest developments is back spasms.  For a long time now, I’ve had this one muscle in my lower back/hip that has always been the area that hurts the most.  I thought that maybe a muscle relaxant might help, so I asked the doctor for a prescription for Flexeril, which I received.  It didn’t seem to help a whole lot though, until… I woke up one day and literally couldn’t move.  The pain woke me about four in the morning, and I couldn’t sit up in bed to get out.  I laid in bed, trying to relax it, until about seven, when Murphy woke up, and I called to him to get Dad because I needed help.  Somehow, with a few screams and many tears, he helped me get to a standing position so I could get to the bathroom.  You never realize how your muscles interact until something like this happens, how every movement you make uses muscles you wouldn’t expect.  Anyway, my wonderful guys got me set up in a comfortable chair with a heating pad (thanks to the Ojai Unconditional Give or Take Facebook page), my Flexeril, knitting, coffee and a cane, and they went off to school and work, and I sat there, willing that damn muscle to relax already.  It did, slowly; by the next day I was mostly fine, except a lingering reluctance to move too fast, in fear that it would spasm again, and a residual ache.  I can’t remember if I blogged it, but I did see the Physical Therapist for an “evaluation” to see if I am eligible for service, according to Gold Coast Medicaid.   In fact, I saw him several days prior to the spasm, and I wondered if it spasm-ed because of the manipulation he’d done (not blaming him; there’s something wrong there and it needs manipulation to be fixed).  Anyway, I haven’t heard if I’m eligible yet.  Really hoping I get at least a few visits.

Every now and again, since I started the Lyrica, I have a day like this past Sunday.  I woke up full of energy, not much pain, feeling very much like my old self.  I got a lot of things done that have needed doing for a long time.  Of course, Monday, I woke up sore all over.  But not horrible, which is what usually happens.  Then I settle back into a medium point of  a fair amount of pain but not so much I can’t say, make dinner.   I still have some very troubling symptoms that my doctor has NO clue about and is therefore sending me to more specialists… a daily afternoon tremor/shakiness that is sometimes severe and makes me anxious, which he finally saw and documented, so I go to a neurologist, and a trouble swallowing that he’s sending me to a GI guy because the ENT referral which is like three months old already still could take months more. So all of that, plus (oh joy) my first colonoscopy scheduled this month, means I’ll be getting a lot of sock knitting done in doctor’s waiting rooms.

The Lyrica overall does seem to be helping but there is one concern; it’s making me ravenous.  It’s breaking down the walls I had built around my eating; I’m starting to eat compulsively again and in the month I’ve been on it I’ve gained almost ten pounds.  My vegan lifestyle is breaking down. It’s really been incredibly hard to stick to.  I slip in a chicken nugget here, chicken breast for dinner one night; and I even swiped a couple of my son’s cheese sticks to snack on, the one place I really didn’t want to go.  I’ve got to work on some way of mitigating the compulsive feeling.  Very troubling.

In other than health related news, I’ve been busy.  I’m trying to get out more, get over my people phobia and make some friends.  Through Ojai Barter Bin (another FB page; Ojai has lots!) I met a really interesting woman named Laura.  She and I have a lot in common; the way we think and our values, but a huge difference in life experience.  She spent most of her adult life in Japan, and only moved to California a few years ago.  I really enjoyed the night we spent coloring her hair (that was the barter.)  She’s a little guarded though, and I have a tendency to rush in, so I’m trying to hold back a little, let things progress at her pace.  I’m meeting a lot of people online, and hoping to meet them in person in Ojai at various functions, including a little Occupy Ojai type protest at BOA this weekend.  Bunch of Ojai hippies!  =]

My business is starting to percolate a bit too.  I have currently a small class of kids that I’m teaching about fiber, sheep to shawl kind of a class, and I had an inquiry last night for another.  I’m selling some yarn, and some socks. The name change to Valley of the Moon Fiber Works was helpful, I think, and I’m learning how to get the word out through all kinds of social media; Betterfly, the Ojai Wall, a Facebook page for the business, and word of mouth through FB friends.   Ambitious, but it feels good.

The family is doing well; Peru is playing around town with the band 33 North, and they have a regular gig at The Wrec Room on Thursday nights.  He’s busy with the Montessori kids; they love him.  I joined the Parent Group and may be Room Mother for Murphy’s class, and at the meeting when I said my name they all started talking about how much their child loves Mr. Bob.  It was really cute.  Murphy is playing soccer and is goalie this year; he’s doing really well at it too.  He’s in middle school now (unbelievable!) and loves that too, though having the homework schedule be different this year is taking some adjusting.  He’ll get it though; he’s so smart.  Eric is acting; he’s helping Mr. Slade with the High School production of Romeo and Juliet, playing Friar Lawrence, I believe.  The performance is in December; I can’t wait to see it.

It’s been an emotional roller coaster, but then, I guess it always is.  I’m so grateful to the Beloved, who helps and supports me in every way, all the time, and never indicates a bit of resentment or frustration with my ups and downs, or with the slack he has to make up, and beyond that, still loves me more than I ever expected was possible.  I am a very lucky woman.

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Bait and Switch

I feel like I’ve been taken.

Went to the Doc on Tuesday to follow up on our last appointment and get the results of my CT.  Negative, as expected.  Doc is convinced I have fibromyalgia, and wanted to start me on Cymbalta.   If you’re not familiar with it, Cymbalta is an antidepressant.  However, it is also prescribed specifically for fibromyalgia pain.  Having reached the end of my rope and willing to try almost anything, I dutifully read the literature she gave me (explaining the horrifying possible side effects) and filled the prescription.

I got home from the pharmacy, took out the bottle and was astounded to find that the bottle contained not Cymbalta, but Effexor.  Effexor is of course, another antidepressant.  So I called the doctor to find out what was going on; she said that Medicaid will not pay for first tier drugs until the cheaper drugs have been tried and failed.  Nice of someone to tell me.  She said they’re in the same class, same side effects, and that it was worth a try.  So, that night, I took it.

Since then, I’ve had a bunch of strange symptoms, some of which I’ve had before but not this bad, and some totally new ones. So I went to check the side effects.  I was terrified at what I found out.  Yes, the side effects are similar to Cymbalta, and yes, it is used (off label) for fibromyalgia sometimes.  That was the good news.  The bad?  Effexor has the worst in it’s class record for withdrawal symptoms.  Coming off this drug for some people seems to be as bad as heroin withdrawal.  Incapacitating dizziness, nausea,  what they call “brain shocks”, a painful sort of zapping feeling in your brain and down your neck and shoulders.  These symptoms (and more) can last from two weeks to several months.  The stories of the people who’ve experienced this are terrifying.

I feel like they’ve been trying to get me to take antidepressants so hard that now they’ve pulled a bait and switch.  I was willing to try the Cymbalta since it is supposed to help with fibromyalgia pain totally aside from it’s anti-depressant effects. But instead, I’m on a dangerous drug that probably will not help, and will make me feel horrendous when I stop it.

As far as I’m concerned, the side effects I’ve already experienced are enough to stop taking it.  Insomnia, dizziness, hiccups, nausea, headache.  Most of what I’ve read say that the withdrawal symptoms happen after six weeks of treatment, so hopefully with only four doses, I won’t have any problem.  I’m just so angry that I wasn’t told. 

In more pleasant news; Murphy got to ride in the Ojai Valley Little League parade float for the fourth of July.  He was proud.  As were we.  I tried to get a picture but of course, my phone chose that very moment to notify  me that the battery was low, so the float had moved before I could get close.

We went to the fireworks too, and that was fun; they do a good job every year. Ojai is such a great community, and the parade really illustrates its diversity; hippies, Mexicans, Indians, Hindus, kids, cars, tractors, dancers, bands of every sort.  It was HOT though.

My plum jelly has been a hit; I ended up with 24 jars. Still have a few more plums, but haven’t really had the strength to do much with them.  Tried dehydrating them to prunes with less success; they came out rock hard.  I think next time I’ll try halving them.

Witches Brew Roving

I’m spinning for the Tour de Fleece; it’s an annual event held during the Tour de France, where spinners all over the world commit to spinning every day the race runs, and often set specific goals.  I’m on a Ravelry team, the Lantern Rouge, which is a “I’m not sure I can spin every day but I’ll try” team.  I’ve spun at least a tiny bit every day but one, and on the fourth, watching a “Firefly” marathon, I managed to spin a full ounce!  Here’s the fiber I’m spinning; the colorway is “Witches Brew.”  I was aiming for  fingering or sport weight, but I think it’s ending up more worsted.  I really like it so far; today may be a plying day as my bobbin is almost full.Tour de Fleece spinning

If I finish the pound of this fiber I have before the end of the Tour, I have some gorgeous merino/tencel blend that I’ve been waiting to spin until I was “good enough.”  My last few bobbins have been  lovely and even, so I think I might be ready to give it a go.  I spin so slowly though that I might not finish the pound; that is a LOT of fiber!  I have no clue what I’ll make from the yarn, but I can’t wait to see how it looks plied.  I may do one bobbin navajo plied and one plied back on itself to see the difference in the colors; should be fun!

Off to clean my room; I’ve been feeling so badly that everything has been let slide.  Disaster area doesn’t begin to cover it.  Ever seen “Hoarders?”   Approaching that level…

Knitting

So much of what I’ve been doing whilst incommunicado over the last month is fiber related.  It’s meditation for me, and I can feel productive even if I can’t do housework or so much of what I expect to be doing.  I rediscovered Ravelry and actually started entering my projects and my stash, which seems an impossible task, but I’ve gotten more done than I expected.  For those of you not knitting obsessed, Ravelry is a social networking group for fiber people to share patterns, tips, stash, info, and waste a boatload of time.  There have been times I’ve spent hours a day on Ravelry, and times when months go by and I forget my log in.  You can use it as much or as little as you like, but it’s a great resource for finding patterns and getting help if you get stuck.  It’s free too, always a good thing.

I’ve always knitted from patterns before, not having a ton of skill, experience, or imagination.  But I wanted to make a gift for someone that was unique, and couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I decided to try to make one up.  I’m really pleased with the result!  They’re fingerless gloves, but entirely for decorative purpose.  Here’s the first version.

They came out okay, but I wasn’t happy with the rolled cuff.  I didn’t want ribbing, as it seems less elegant.  So here’s what I came up with for the second version: a picot edge.  Much better.  I envision beading as well, but haven’t quite gone that far.

If anyone is interested in the pattern, it is available for sale on my store site, Homespun Dreamings.  The website is being revamped, so if it’s not there, or you have trouble with it, email me directly and I’ll get you situated.

Eventually, I hope to be selling the finished gloves as well.  If you’re looking for fiber of any sort, check out the website or send me an email.  I’m trying to contribute somehow while unemployed to the fiscal health of my family through sales in the store.  I still have buckets full that I haven’t managed to get listed on the page yet, so if you’re looking for something that isn’t there, email me and I’ll see if I’ve got it!

Baby booties, adult hats, socks, mitts are being churned out constantly; so often in fact that I forget to take pictures!  I’m trying to rope the more experienced and talented photographer into helping me out (Pretty please, Peru?) so I can get them on the site ASAP.

I have another design in the works that’s a tad more complicated but AWESOME; both sons have asked me to make one for them already.  Imagine something that pleases a ten year old and a twenty-three year old both!  Pictures soon, when it’s a bit further along.

What’s going on…

Mostly, I’ve been living.  I’m trying to pay more attention to everything, including what works and what doesn’t help my health.  I’m trying to track my symptoms, though I admit to being less than detailed. I don’t want to waste time on cataloging my life, I’d rather just live it.

I’m still having problems with the balance meme.  I’m not sure that balance in my activities is going to  be helpful.  I would miss too much.  I’ve spent the better part of the last few weeks pushing myself to do the things I want to do, then trying to allow my body some healing time.  It’s hard, but worth it.  What I do want to be very careful about balancing is making my pain burdensome on my family.  I don’t ever want to push myself to do something and then be so miserable doing it that I make my family miserable.  The Beloved says that he worries about me, but that I haven’t made myself a drag.  I hope that he will tell me if I ever do.

Resting in bed in my down time, I’m watching less TV, listening to more music and even just being silent and thinking.  Knitting, of course, when my hands don’t hurt too much.  Reading… I’m finding that I can read, if I take it in very small chunks.  I haven’t had the mental fortitude to do much blogging, obviously. What I’m finding right now is that I’m becoming more balanced internally.  Mentally, spiritually.  This is a Good Thing. I like who I am more, and I’m so appreciative of my life. Things are so hard financially that I’d expect to be going out of my mind, and of course, I’m concerned, but the non-material part of my life is so amazing, and so unexpected.  This is where my riches lie, where my priorities are.  I like where I am.  Finally, at the age of fifty, I’m becoming who I want to be, and I’m finding I’m stronger than I thought I was.

In the more mundane aspects of life:

It’s been really wet in Southern California.  Cold, and wet, right down to the bones, even for a New England girl like me.   Luckily, no big disastrous mudslides in the news, but it has been a tad inconvenient.  Witness the baseball field for Murphy’s game on Saturday.

This is the dugout.  The bench where the children sit is not visible; it’s underwater.  The parents worked really hard to sweep the field dry, pump out the dugouts, and get the field ready for play.  It was pretty amazing.

Unfortunately, this latest outing of the Padres didn’t go very well. They lost, badly.  It was so cold that just holding on to the ball was a challenge.  Hopefully, this weeks’ game will go better.

I started a new lace project. I have a love hate relationship with lace; I love how it looks, and I hate messing it up.  So I decided to try this scarf, which is a nice easy lace pattern so hopefully I won’t get lost.  I decided to dress it up a bit though, and it looks impressive to me!  I used a kid mohair yarn and decided to do a chevron shape beading which will repeat once or twice on the sides of the scarf.  Yes, it’s a six stitch, two row repeat, and I need stitch markers for every repeat.  I’m feeble.  =]

Oh!  And the desk!  The wonderful lucky desk that was dropped in my lap!  It finally made it into the room and is already accumulating piles.  The Beloved is amused.  He would prefer furniture to have no flat surfaces to collect crap.   Here are the photos:

I think my poor hands have had enough for right now.   My newest symptom seems to be tenderness of my palms and soles.  Today, either due to salt overload or the change in the weather (Saturday was in the 40’s, today was 90) my hands are swollen, itchy, and everything I touch seems covered with sandpaper. So it’s off to bed for me right now.

Doctor’s Visit

Last night I went to see my  new doctor for the first time. I was a bit anxious.  My last doctor, while kind and knowledgeable, still focused primarily on depression (ok, so I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably in her office, but still…)  I would even have gone back to her if she took my insurance, but Medi-Cal has few contracted providers, so I’m pretty much limited to the one clinic here.  So I had no idea what to expect.

Dr. Saito seemed very nice; he asked good questions and seemed open to discussion on treatment.  He wants to start with blood work, of course, which I expected.   I discussed the possibility of combination T3/T4 replacement rather than just T4.  I had to repeat myself several times; English does not seem to be his first language.  I really need to start documenting my medical history; I forgot to tell him I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine, and that I have a history of migraines.  I forgot to tell him about the trouble swallowing, the pressure in my throat, the severity of the brain fog, etc.  So he said he’d renew my prescriptions for pick up next day, and order fasting blood tests, and I should come back to the clinic in the morning. It does strike me as odd however that he did not one bit of physical exam; no listening to the heart, no palpating the thyroid, nothing; did not even touch me. Just the assistant took vitals.  Oh and the good news there; I lost a couple more pounds!

I just got back from the clinic.  After being NPO after midnight, I go in, only to be told that there are no nurses to unlock the pharmacy so I can’t get my meds, which is fine, no biggie, but also, there is no lab tech til 1:30 pm. I’m hungry, dehydrated, already have a headache from low blood sugar, my head feels fuzzy, my index finger inexplicably has swollen up and is painful, along with the normal pain, I’m dying for a cup of coffee, I’m totally cranky, and I have to stay this way until 1:30 pm, at which time I’ll probably sit in a waiting room for an hour, as I did last night.  Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to even be seeing someone; not having had insurance for a year has been scary, especially considering what my husband went through in December.  I know the labs he’s ordered would have cost me several hundred dollars at least, and it won’t be coming out of my bank account.  My meds will be affordable, even for me.  So I’m really grateful to be getting some help.  It’s just a tad frustrating to be a cog in the wheel.

In other news, Murphy had his first game last night,which I had to miss because of the appointment.  They won, but by a hairsbreadth.  Murph is still a little gun shy from the last practice; he got DRILLED by a pitch that sounded like that comedian guy hitting the watermelon with a sledgehammer.  Not his head, luckily; his back, on his rib cage.  Going to have a fine bruise there.  I have immense respect for the coach; when Murph got hit he was at his side in seconds, holding him, steering him towards the chain link fence, comforting him while building him up at the same time, preserving his dignity in front of the other players.  I was very touched at how he handled it; just perfectly.  Murph got right back up on the horse, and had a nice hit the next pitch, but yeah, he’s still a little skittish.  It’s a fun team to watch this year; Go Padres!

I’ve been knitting a bit; working on some vanilla socks though I love the yarn. Trekking XL is probably my favorite sock yarn; comes in great colors, textures, different fibers from wool to bamboo.  Soft, but wears well.  These are my “sitting in waiting rooms” socks, the ones I keep in my purse to work on in spare wasted moments.  I’m also making some dishcloths and towels.  I gave up on the lace for right now; my brain just isn’t able to focus well enough.

Speaking of focus; the brain fog is getting worse.  I find myself searching for words a lot.  Yesterday I had a terrifying moment; I stopped at a traffic light, it turned green and for a split second, I couldn’t remember how to  make the car move. It wasn’t even long enough that anyone noticed, but it was scary.

Well, I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to do today, but since I’m so out of sorts, weak and in pain, I’ll take it as an enforced day of rest, at least till later this afternoon.  Knit if I can with my sore fingers, catch up on last night’s TV, nap.  Brush my teeth again to keep my  mouth from being fuzzy.  Blech.

Another Catch Up Post

It’s been a busy week.  I’ve been sick, “normal” sick, with a cold, sinus infection, flu, something of that ilk.  As strange as it sounds it almost feels good to be sick with something tangible.  On the other hand, it sure hasn’t helped the other situation much.  I’m exhausted, pained, the usual whatever. Don’t really want to focus on that though; have had enough of it.

A few other things happened this week of note: My Beloved had his stent removed on Thursday.  It was his last procedure from the December Medical Hell. It was horrendous, but mercifully short. Today, he’s feeling much better and hopefully can put the whole mess behind him.  I’m so proud of him, facing the knowledge of impending pain and ignominy with courage.  May hospital never be in his future again.

And today; well, today was amazing.

No, that’s not dandruff in my hair.  Hail.  We had actual hail and snow and rain and slush, and even a freaking rainbow in Ojai, Southern California.

Murphy was…. elated.  It was, I must say, very cool.  If you click on the pictures to make them bigger, you can see the hail pretty clearly.

We didn’t get to see actual snow; that was up in the mountains, and we didn’t quite make our journey that far.  But to see hail, pretty large hail, right in our front yard?  It was beyond awesome.

I would have liked to have gotten a picture of the rainbow, but it was so faint I knew it wouldn’t show up on my phone’s camera.  To see it was enough.

It was such a blast to share this with my family (though we missed Eric, who was at his friend’s.)  All my boys, father and sons, keep me in love with the world and it’s miracles.  The best times of my life.

So it’s now back to bed with me to sip tea and rest, grateful for the experiences I get to share with my family.

Fiber Post

While I talk a lot about my diet, the fiber I’m speaking of this time is not dietary.  I’m going to talk about my fiber obsession. I’m currently spinning on several bobbins; here’s a few pics.

This is a huge ball, around a pound, I think, of blue/green wool I’m spinning really fine.  At least this bobbin’s full.  The next may be a larger grist.   I love the colors in it, despite the  neon green; bright colors are normally not my thing.  The only downside is that because it’s so fine, it seems like I spin for hours without making the bobbin more full. But it’s so lovely, I’ll get over it.

Then there’s the chocolate Shetland that I’m spinning, hopefully for socks. I’ve never made socks from handspun, but I really want to.  This wool is so springy and fun to touch; I just love it.  It’s going a bit faster, since this is less fine; I’m hoping for a three ply fingering weight, but I suspect it’ll be a two ply.  There’s only about four ounces, a tad less, actually, and I’m about three quarters done.  Then the plying begins!

Then there’s the lovely pink I spun up lickety split one day.  Again, pink is not normally my color; I’m a blue and dark red sort mostly; but my fiber stash inexplicably is full of pinks.  This is cotton candy pink.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with it.  It plied up at a heavy fingering weight, heading towards sport weight. I’m thinking I’ll use it in a Fair Isle design someday.

Anyway, that’s what’s on the wheel.  I won’t bother going into what’s on the various spindles I have going; I can’t even keep track myself.

As for actual projects, again, there are several; this pair of socks I made when my husband was in the hospital.  It was nice to have something to work on while I was sitting beside his bed when he was asleep.  I also made a pair of worsted bed socks, which I don’t seem to have photographed.  I also whipped up a throw rug for the kitchen, knit out of some chenille I had hanging around. 

One of my “stretching my skills” projects is to make two socks at once on two circular needles.  I’m not a huge fan of circs for socks; I learned on dpns and I’m good at them; no ladders.  On the circs, I tend to leave ladders, and worse, I find it very fidgety.  Especially since one of my needles has a bad join that catches.  So these socks are going very, very slowly.

I’m also crocheting a shrug for myself, and a doily based blanket or pillow cover (haven’t quite decided where these are going yet) that I have also neglected to photograph.  I had started a lace scarf that I have since given up on; it was not coming out the way I wanted it to and became too frustrting.

So that’s the current fiber play.  After the Shetland is done, I have some hot pink silk queued up for it’s turn on the wheel.

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