Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm not wasting my recovery time

I have felt pretty good the past week. I still get tired in the afternoons if I have a very busy morning (and since morning is when I'm normally the most energetic anyway, that's when I tend to over do it.

But most of my activities have been within the realm of permissible and not self-injurious.

First and foremost, I've been working on the green sweater.

This is a simple pull over, top-down yoked sweater that is using the Zimmerman percentage system. The yoke seems to be taking forever. Including the neck, it's 8 inches but I have to get it to 12 inches then start the sleeves. Now that it's 300 stitches around (to accomodate "the girls" and my ample ass), the progression in length has slowed considerably. But I do like the mindlessness the stockinette going round and round and I find it to be an excellent take-along project at this point.

The purple socks continue to progress at the rate of about 2 to 6 rows a day. But I'm at the point where the one sock is almost done. I'm probably going to go another inch or so on the leg then bind it off. The other sock has reached the point of the heel and I plan to start that this afternoon... or perhaps this evening or tomorrow morning.

I ripped out the entire Secret of the Stole I. I bogged down in the middle of clue 1 and never got out of the muck. I have all the clues, but I got frustrated with it and that's no way to feel about your lace.

So I started Icarus Shawl out of the book The Best of Interweave Knits. I'm on the second round of the first chart. This may not survive my annoyance levels either, but at least I'm trying. Over all, I'm finding that the lace thing is a little less difficult than I thought and my knitting skills are improving so I'm determined to get something done.

The putty-colored "fishnet" stole in cotton continues. Here it is on the 11th. I'm about 3/4s of the way done now. Errors...? Oh yeah, I made a bunch of screwed up moves including getting the whole thing backwards for the second half of it (I'm keeping it and calling it a design element) and several rows where I did one too many straight knits or one too few. But I am content that it will serve the purpose of working as a light scarf or head covering or even a dancing shawl. I do think I am going to dye it another color as the tedium of the yarn is really dreadful and something darker would hide many of my errors.

In spinning I'm making the most progress as I've been spinning every day and I just cannot tell you how nice that is.

I have finished all the dark brown bulky weight yarn. I ended up with just 690 yards which is really not enough to do anything substantial... but I may find a nice fiber that will make a nice contrast or complementary color and spin up enough to make a vest with a neat bold stripe in the middle.

I have started blending the grey Lincoln (Mo's wool) of which I have a pound with the remaining 1/2 pound of grey alpaca and 1/2 pound of black diamond bamboo. I'm doing that 0.6 ounces at a time because that is how much will fit on my drum carder. I did the first batt and Ken was there because I needed his help to lift the bin that was holding the bamboo. He hung around out of curiosity after doing this small chore and watched. The resulting batt made me go, "oohhh" and I held it out for him to feel.

"I like that shade of grey," he said. It's the first time he has even hinted that he liked something I was making with fiber.

"Do you like it enough that if I made you a sweater you would wear it?" I asked.

He reminded me that he doesn't wear sweaters but I noticed that as the night chill winds blew in that evening, he did pull on a jacket. I pointed out that a nice cozy sweater (like a wool/alpaca blend) would be really warm. He just shook his head and rolled his eyes.

But the next day he came in and helped me crank out a few more of those grey batts. Hmmmm.

Anyway, I am using lunch sacks to make sure my proportions stay on track. I weigh out .4 ounces of the grey lincoln (trying to get roughly 50/50 of light to dark) and stuff it in a lunch sack. Then I weigh .2 ounces of the bamboo and .2 ounces of the alpaca. These fibers also go into the sack.

Over at the drum carder, I hand fluff, pluck, pick the locks of wool. I put down a nice thin layer on the intake shoot of the carder. Then I lay over that a bit of the bamboo topped the a very thin "net" of wool, then put a bit of the alpaca on the fluff and finally top with another thin layer of wool. This goes into the carder and onto the drum. It takes about four of these "sandwiches" to make a batt. I pull the whole thing off. Strip it into four length wise, inspecting for neps, trash or vm, and pull them out thin width wise and crank back into the carder. I card each batt this way three times then I pull it off. I pull the whole thing length wise into a bit of roving about 4 or 5 feet long and wind it up and weigh it to make sure I didn't lose too much to the carder. Here is a batt after one pass through the carder and before I break it down to go through a second time.

So far, I have about 6 ounces prepped and I can hardly wait to spin it!

In the mean time, I'm spinning up the churro navajo/silk batts that I made from the churro navajo that I dyed this fall with the goldenrod and the poke berries. I'm spinning the singles nice and thin and a bit hard and as smooth as I can get them -- plucking out neps as I go along. It is coming out to be the prettiest stuff and I'm hoping to get a decent lace yarn from it.

This is closer to the real color the other was in the sun.

And I washed half of the tan and white alpaca fiber. I will probably wash the other half on Sunday. I do wish the staple was longer and the many, many second cuts are a real problem, but the stuff is so soft... well, I've ordered a pound of white corridale roving. I think I will have to just pay the alpaca lady for the fiber and be done with it for trying to spin it straight just isn't going to work. It's just too short. I'm hoping that blended with the corridale I will end up with something similar to a nice angora yarn.

I've decided I'm going to take the white cria fiber and blend it with merino and call it a day. I'll be broke once I pay the alpaca lady for it as I'm offering her twice what it actually worth but my conscious will be quieted and I won't be obligated to an impossible task.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

I find myself complaining a lot. It's a bad habit. So I want to take today (while the turkey is roasting) to list a few of the things I am very grateful for-- there is no particular order to this list:
  1. My health. Sometimes my body has given me fits but overall, it seems to work pretty well and I can still get up everyday and walk and do most of the things I want to do.
  2. My husband. It's very hard to explain what it means to know someone loves you and is willing to tolerate your foibles because they really enjoy being with you. And he does spoil me... and I know it.
  3. My children. If you didn't have kids and you just read my blog; you might think that I really don't like my kids very much. Sometimes I don't. I want them to be perfect. I hate to see their faults. But I am grateful that they are in my life because there are moments when they do fill me joy; there are times when I learn how to be a better person because of what they do. I have certainly grown up myself because I wanted to be a good mother and had to take that high road to set the right example for them.
  4. My home. I've been "that close" to being homeless and so while there are times when the leaky roof and the failed septic make me nuts (and broke); I almost can't imagine living anywhere else. This is a special place.
  5. My friends. I honestly believe there are more people in my life today than ever in my whole life who would take me in if I did become homeless, come and take care of me if my immediate family couldn't, feed me, listen to me, let me cry on their shoulders and who show up if I have a party. It's really cool and 10 years ago I can honestly say there was only one person I could think of who would do that for me. Today there are about 20! (maybe more).
  6. My job. My job is important. I am trusted to do my best work. I get to contribute to something that I really believe might allow my input to create a difference. Sometimes the difference is small. Sometimes I will never personally know about the difference I make. BUT I know in my heart that I make a difference.
  7. My experiences with the Goddess. Unless you've been there, there isn't much I can explain about this but I truly know and have had personal interaction with my Goddess and I am so, very fortunate to have been blessed in this way.
  8. My financial status. Let's just say I'm not rich and I ain't poor. I can pay my bills and can splurge on nice things from time to time and that makes me feel very contented. It hasn't always been that way and being poor really sucks and I plan never to get in a situation where the creditors are calling and I'm subsisting on donations again. At the same time, I'm grateful that I had that experience because I really do understand what it means to be hungry, nearly homeless and feeling very, very desperate.
  9. My parents. They taught me right from wrong and acted as very good role models and I'm grateful that they knew when to put their feet down and when to let me go forth and beat my own head on the wall.
  10. My curiosity. I am nosy. I love to learn stuff. I know what a joy it can be to figure out how to do something and make something work. I pity the folks who find learning to be dull and not worth their effort for their lives must be eternally boring and I'm glad I'm not one of them.
What are 10 things you are grateful for?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I survived!

As if anyone had doubts....

The surgery went well, I think. Can't say I remember a whole lot about it. Just prior to going into the operating room I had a big argument with the anesthesiologist. I had insisted while at pre-op that it be noted very boldly on my chart that I was not to be given narcotic medications for pain (nothing opiate based). Well, that rules out a whole lot of common, cheap pain meds like Percocet, Darvocet, Oxycotin, morphine... etc. Guess what the anesthesiologist said, "But you must have these. The pain will be too great." I pointed out that this would be my fourth abdominal surgery and none of the previous ones had required opiates.

He wanted to know how that could be. I told him that I was awake for all the surgeries and they had used nerve blockers in my spine. He almost walked away, saying he would not work like that. I started to cry. I explained that I was recovering and did not want this stuff and I would relapse and die if they gave it to me.

Thankfully, I had agreed to be a guinea pig for the medical students. Two of them on the surgical team (Tina is the only name I remember) came over and talked to me about it a little. I had some hope when Tina said, "We need more people like you. It's okay. We will figure this out." They dragged out a PDR. They did some fast research. Finally, they found some pain meds that were not opiate based that they could use while I was asleep (I learned from the older anesthesiologist that you still feel pain even while unconscious). And I assured them I would be fine with Motrin and Tylenol afterwards. The older fellow still did not believe I would manage on Motrin and Tylenol after, but figured it was my call at that point and he agreed to try the new medications while I was out.

They did keep me over night. Turns out the surgery that should have lasted about 45 minutes took about 2 1/2 hours. The large fibroid tumor was MUCH bigger than they anticipated and was growing into my side. It took an hour to remove it. I did lose an ovary as the large tumor had basically eaten it. The other ovary was saved and appears to be fine. My uterus was removed. Cervix was saved. All the tumors and a bunch of scar tissue was removed. I'm hoping they sucked out some fat, too, but won't know until my follow up appointment on Monday.

All in all, the daVinci Robotic Assisted Laproscopic surgery went pretty darn well, I think. There is still some swelling and bruising and I have four holes in my stomach. My abdomen sags like I just gave birth (sure could use a tummy tuck). My ass and thighs are swollen and bruised from water retention (as are my ankles, hands and face to a lesser extent) but I'm peeing just fine and bowels are working, albeit with some grumbling. There is MUCH less pain than I have had with other surgeries. And I really like the glue.

Yep, I'm glued shut. There is no pulling from staples or stitches and while I have no idea how long this stuff stays on or how it comes off, I can even take a shower! It's very cool.

And I've been knitting. I sat up for too long yesterday I think and got kind of puffy around the middle again. But I'm going to try and walk a little more today. I might even venture outside for a bit. But I will still take a mid-day nap.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Green Sweater Started... Again

I have been very negligent about blogging about my knitting lately. Been a little distracted...

But I ripped out the three inches of the beginning of the bottom of a large green, comfy pull-over sweater. I rewound the yarn in to balls... decided not to reskein and rewash and dry and rewind again... just balled it up.

This time I'm using a formula pattern that I found on the internet about a year ago. This one is knitted Zimmerman-esc by figuring out your gauge, taking your measurements and knitting to fit... from the top down.

The neck is done.

I'm moving into the yoke.

I'm excited.

This is actually going to work.

And I will work on it... and finish the purple socks and make a good dent into the shawl while I'm recovering from my surgery. I might even get some work done on the cotton shawl.

The surgery date is set. November 13th.

Got the "BOWEL PREP" stuff today at the pharmacy... egad, that's going to be a day of knitting while sitting on the throne on Monday... limited to clear liquid diet after breakfast on Monday until the surgery on Tuesday afternoon.

Then surgery on Tuesday... I will knit in the car on the way down to try and keep my nerves calm. I will knit while waiting... then knitting and all will go with Ken and I will get all my innards rearranged.

Not sure how long I will be in the hospital because they are going to attempt this thing laproscopically. If that works, I will go home in about 23 hours. If they can't do it that way, I will go home in about 3 days. If they can do it laproscopically, then I might actually be able to return to work in 2 or 3 weeks. If they have to do regular open incision surgery, then it will be 6 to 8 weeks.

While they might retest the tissues after removal for cancer, I'm not going to worry about it as much as it will be outside of my body and not as much of a threat...

I will be very happy to not have a "beer gut" anymore. (I'm secretly hoping the doctor will go ahead and figure out a way to give me a tummy tuck, while I'm asleep, so I don't have all this extra loose skin... I will be losing 10 to 15 pounds of uterus and tumors... it will be like having a baby!). My guts will go back where they belong and I will probably have fewer digestion problems, fewer incontinence problems and hopefully, my love life will improve.

Big worry today is getting through the last two days at work and getting as much set up as I can before I leave. I have to assume the worst (and 8-week hiatus) so I have to have two months worth of stuff set up and scheduled before I leave the office at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Friday, November 02, 2007

No Cancer!

The biopsy results came back and while the lining of my uterus is pre-cancerous (whatever that means) the biopsy showed nothing active.

Deep breath.

So, surgery is scheduled for November 13th. Hopefully, the fibroids will be "choppable" and he will be able to do the whole thing laproscopically and my recovery time will be much faster.

The next week is going to madly busy, so not sure when I'll get an opportunity to post again. But will as soon as I can.

In knitting news by dear friends T and Bill got my computer working again and I can now use Ravalry again. So I hope to load a bunch of stuff in there soon.

I got some more singles spun of the brown.

I have four lines left to finish on the Secret of the Stole Clue I (Clue 5 comes out today, if that gives you any idea of how behind I am on that).

The purple socks are still not finished.

I ripped out the lavendar shawl I had started for Carla as I screwed something up and want it to be right... so may just go find a nice pattern instead.

The tan shawl continues. I"m just over halfway now.