Curses and Blessings

In and out of consciousness – don’t ask why I was taking pics at a time like this!

On New Year’s Eve, a night traditionally reserved for revelry, reflection and resolutions, I sat in the emergency room, feeling utterly helpless, watching my daughter slowly lose consciousness while struggling to breathe.  Puzzled because she wasn’t running a fever, the nurses ran a battery of tests on her after asking a slew of questions to which we (I) responded “no”.  Their initial assessment was a massive infection, but blood work wasn’t backing that up.  They were just about to check for a pulmonary embolism when I mentioned her weight loss.

If, dear reader, you remember a post from a year back, I mentioned that I was losing weight, which I have, and all that entailed.  My daughter took the opportunity to lose weight with me.  She lost weight by cutting back on her sugars, carbs and portions and seemed to be doing fine, except the last month or so, she was looking too skinny.  Everyone was asking if she was eating enough and she assured all and sundry she was – multiple times.  In fact, her answers were getting harsh and snippy because she was starting to feel badgered.  As part of her dietary effort, she’d increased her water intake some time back, so no one was alarmed by the gallon of water, sometimes more, she was drinking every day.  If I had written all these signs on paper and looked at it, I would have insisted she see a doctor.  As it was, and happens so often when you’re too close to a situation, we had no idea.

Wonderful ICU nurses
Some relief found here…

I’m sure most of you have guessed by now the diagnosis the nurses and doctors came up with: diabetic ketoacidosis as a result of uncontrolled diabetes.  Type I or II is yet to be determined. For her sake, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Type II because I’ve heard it’s more easy to control.  What really freaked me out was the how?  Diabetes doesn’t run in our family.  It doesn’t fit in with the information I’ve received all my life.  This was totally unexpected.  I thought it was possibly asthma exacerbated by allergies or a collapsed lung, but diabetes?

Several days have passed since I first started this post.  She was released Friday, whereupon we proceeded to a restaurant that we knew would have acceptable food, and the onerous maintenance and forethought that is part and parcel of her condition kicked in.  I’ve been on diets before, and I actually worked at Jenny Craig in the mid ’90s, so I understand portion control and exchanges, but instead of being focused on caloric intake, she has to carefully monitor her sugar levels and understand the relationship between carbs and metabolism.  Since she’s my daughter, she already knew about this because her mother is a quasi hypochondriac wannabe nurse/doctor who was raised by a medical transcriptionist who listened to doctors dictating patients’ case histories all day long.  *pauses, takes a deep breath*  In other words, I know just enough to be dangerous.    

Life goes on, but for my daughter, it almost didn’t.  Do I have a new appreciation for her? for life in general?  I would like to think so.

How was your New Year’s?

Xanax and Funny Yarn Memes

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling a bit down I find a good laugh helps a lot.  I understand this sentiment is shared by virtually everyone, but the last several days, I’ve rediscovered just how true that is.  I finally had to give up the ghost on my old Xanax stash as it had been prescribed back in 2007.   Aware of the addicting properties of the drug, I’ve always been very careful how I took them.  Even with the current opioid hyper-awareness – scare – witch hunt – what-the-fuck-ever! my doctor prescribed me several to help me get over a few things in my life.  He said that opioid addiction was one of the things he wasn’t worried about with me.  I definitely wasn’t on my toes, because normally I would have responded with, “So what does worry you?” *sigh* Most likely, it was a good thing I didn’t pursue that.  Anyway, he’s a good doc and also a good chat, because he made me laugh during the course of our visit, and when I did, I literally felt some tension go away.  Nothing in the world like that, so I thought I’d throw in some funny yarn memes to help spread the goodness!

Teehee.....
My Life!!

I can crochet, but I don't want to make things for you!
But I will teach you how!!!

Nittin' Ninja
Soooo me!!!

Nittin' Ninja party-style
Let’s not forget Saturday nights, y’all!

Nittin' Ninja
Ouch!

Nittin' Ninja
hahahaha! I hear the two crafts mistaken constantly! I have to bite my tongue in order not to blurt out their conversational faux pas!

Nittin' Ninja
Oh, yea. House looks like a hurricane AND an earthquake hit it, but wait – this hat is not going to finish itself!

Nittin' Ninja
Only when we’re into the three digit projects!

Of Flooding and Exploding Blow Dryers

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We’ve all heard the expression “When it rains, it pours.”  January was a monsoon for me.

It actually started mid-December with the news of my mother-in-law’s stage IV stomach cancer diagnosis.  With a six-month timeline, Elke* has opted to receive hospice care.  All her life she’s dealt with cancer.  It started in her late 20s, returned in her 40s, again in her late 60s, and with this last bit of news, she said she’s done.  Prognosis was not good to begin with, and she just didn’t want to go through the “cure” again.  Her husband, John*, has been displaying signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease.  He had to be reminded who we were, and yet, most cruel, he’s aware of it right now.  They live in Texas, three and a half states over, and timing was not good.  But it had to be done.

The journey back to Texas was odd.  Any road trip I’ve taken before has always been a good thing.  My husband and I made the most of it, since it was three days hard travel.  My sister, who lives in Bakersfield, was gracious enough to let us use her place as flop house.  We literally spent less than 15 minutes talking to her before we headed for bed, and then in the morning, we hugged one and another and moved on, both going and coming back.  The second day out, I wrote some errant thoughts.  Those long drives gives a person way too much time to think.

January 4, 2017, Wednesday

When the sun is rising, the errant contrail casts a shadow on the higher clouds

Driving east along Interstate 10 to Texas

Don’t know how to feel

Sedimentary, layered mountains Las Cruces

Texas landscape out of El Paso flat

Scrub brush

Minimal traffic

Can use cruise control – indefinitely

Occasional butte, rolling hills

Road stretches out in front of you in gentle, undulating waves

Cerulean sky, painted with high altitude stratus clouds

Harmless, no rain

When sun is setting, the color of the western sky shifts from blue to lavender, then gradually to a dusky plum, all but obscuring the horizon, then gradually, deep purple to the black of night.

Headlights

On the third morning of our visit, I was drying my hair, when my blow-dryer of at least 10 years decides to go out with a bang.  Sparks flew and I had to unplug it to stop the sparks from turning into flames.  The acrid smell of burnt electronics filled our hotel room for at least a day.  I felt it was appropriate, somehow, that it should happen at that time; however, I had spent the night before crying, so it was possible I was just upset.  Saying good bye to something else, even something as replaceable as a minor appliance, really set me off.

When driving back, we ran into the storms in Northern California that we’d been monitoring even before we left.  It was an eye-opener to see the areas around Sacramento, flooded by water that had overrun the bank of the Cosumnes River.  Sacramento has the American and the Sacramento Rivers to deal with and the levies around the city are monitored more closely.  What I photographed was the Cosumnes River gone a bit wild, just south of Elk Grove, a suburb of SacTown.  And then from Highway 99 North to I80 East, up around Applegate, the trucks were pulled over because the road over Donner Pass was closed due to snow.

I was so grateful to be home…because our garage was flooding.  We got some more sandbags (don’t ask) and cleaned up what we could.  Thanks goodness the foundation is concrete, and no real damage was done.

On a lesser, but more immediate note, my husband’s car has stopped running.  The money we would have used to fix that was spent visiting his mother.  It sits in the front of the house, ads running on Facebook, Letgo and Craigslist with no results.  I guess no one wants a mechanic’s project at this time.

There is more to the story, but I will leave it.  Sometimes it’s good not to tell so much, and this is one of those instances.

*names changed for privacy

Of Miracles and Ponchos

A few days ago, a miracle happened to my friend.

Sister checking out her baby brother
Sister checking out her baby brother

Well, when you think about it, in depth and medically, objectively, and statistically, it is a miracle.  The fact that it happens about 353,000 times a day around the world does not diminish the joy, the awe and profound sense of wonder for the new parents when it happens to them.

I was privileged to hold the little gift.
I was privileged to hold the little gift.  I was trying not to breathe on him!

What was so quirky about this baby’s path is that a month before he was conceived, my friend, Wendy, had decided to have a tubal ligation.  I remember asking her if she was sure.  Once these procedures are done, there’s usually no going back.  It’s done.  She said, yes.  She didn’t want anymore babies, didn’t want to be pregnant and in her thirties.

The day before her procedure is scheduled, she cancels.  Doesn’t want to do it.  When I saw her again, I hugged her and then asked again, Are you sure?  She was sure; said it didn’t feel right.  I guess she knew, because here he is, 10 months later, her intuition.  The labor was all of one hour and 30 minutes long and relatively easy.  I say relatively, since the uterus really didn’t have any time to adjust, like in longer labors, and she was having the worst cramps when I took that picture.  She was near tears.  Needless to say, I didn’t stay long.  I know when I’m in pain, I don’t want to maintain friendly conversation!

I was just so happy for her, I had to write about it!

Fall colors
Fall colors

Now for the poncho.  (If you know of a better segue, please let me know!  The miracle of birth and life is a tough act to follow.)   The way I’m putting it together feels more like a vest…poncho?  Anyway – no sleeves!  Yay! It’s a gift for my postal carrier, so I thought of how she works and what she does.  I didn’t want the standard poncho design, because it would get in her way. I’ve been seeing pictures of ponchos that have buttons on the side and look sensible and relatively easy to make, especially when you’re lifting boxes and moving all day long.  It wouldn’t get in the way.  So, with a gleam in my eye, I decided to create my own design.  I did ask her favorite color, and she likes green also!  I didn’t want to overwhelm her with a monochromatic palette, so I added in some festive yarn.

Now I have a bit of a dilemma.  I have decided to drop it off at her work when it’s finished, which should be within a week.  My great fear is that she won’t like it.  You know how it is when you’re making someone a handcrafted gift.  Should I leave it anonymously and let her figure it out?  Or, should I let her know, so she knows whom she should be disappointed with?  (I know…bad sentence structure!)  Or is there another way I’m not thinking of?  I’m making a poll, so please let me know!

How Time Flies

It’s already been a year since my last mammogram, and here we are doing it again – which is a good thing.  I remember being astounded the first time I had one of these done that my body could be stretched and distorted in such a way.

All kidding aside, I think it’s very important for women to have this diagnostic performed regularly; you never know.  As far as procedures go, this is relatively painless and very fast.   As for those of you ladies who should be doing this but keep putting it off, stop that!  Don’t blow it off because it doesn’t run in the family, that your copay is too much, that you don’t have the time or you think the odds are in your favor.  Early detection is crucial to getting favorable results, i.e., to stomp cancer’s ass!

Now after saying all that, I hate having it done.  I really do.  But, I’d rather catch any anomalies before they become growths or tumors.  Ick.

So are you up to date?

All Good Things Must Come to an End

I'm going to miss his lovely face.
I’m going to miss his lovely face.

After two years of working at the local cannabis clinic, my interests have lead me elsewhere.  I will miss meeting all the people who came in:  the miracle stories, the walking wounded, and the chronic pain sufferers and even the slackers.  They all had their stories; some of them were horrific, some amusing, some were inspiring, but all very human.  When I first started here, I was dubious about the efficacy of marijuana, but after seeing real results, I have now changed my mind; I even got up and made a speech at a city hall meeting to defend our need for a local dispensary.  Anybody who knows me understands I HATE speeches and how much this experience has changed my attitude toward the much maligned cannabis plant.  So it is with mixed emotions that I bid farewell to a controversial field and start some trouble of my own!

I know I mentioned several years earlier that I was having trouble putting aside my camera for good.  I gave away so much because I was “done”.  Since writing that blog, I have had several gigs for friends, mostly as a favor or a trade and I have stumbled upon a cool sideline, doing social media, to include my photography, for local businesses.  These are not what I would consider paying gigs, as so far, I have been doing it for trade.  I get food credits for Cafe Luna, and cheese credit for Wheyward Girl, (no, Wheyward Girl does not reflect my images or my handiwork  – yet!) and honestly, I think I’m getting the better end of the deal on these!  I’m now focusing my attention on other local businesses that are running on a shoestring budget but need the help.  What better way than to offer a trade if cash money is tight?  Let’s keep it local, right?  And you are buying local, correct?!  I won’t get on that soapbox today, because I am guilty of making weekly trips to the closest Wally World for those super economical deals – damnit!vanilla latte socks with two colors

As for my other loves, knitting and crocheting, that goes without saying that they’ll be in my life.  I will continue to make designs, review patterns or tools of the trade and bitch about my latest disaster, be it knitting or crocheting – never fear.  I am currently ignoring a pair of socks, using the basic Vanilla Latte Socks pattern, my fave.  The pattern is free, so snatch it up!

See you in the funny pages!

Post Script:  I just published it and noticed all the links I have in this article – oops!  They’re good references, but you’re off the hook if you don’t want to follow them.

Mammograms and a Yearly Reprieve

What is it about that yearly exam that makes one think of death as an imminent event in one’s life? True, most of us don’t know when we’re going to die, but there are certain reminders of that fragile state known as “living” and one of them, at least for me, is my annual boob mashing.

Yeah...it is as uncomfortable as it looks.
Yeah…it is as uncomfortable as it looks.

All year long I’m busy living my daily life, taking my health for granted and the illusion that I’ll have it forever.  Working at a doctor’s office, I talk to patients who have all sorts of health concerns, and it always freaks me out when cancer is involved.  Cancer knows no age limits, no general health indicators, no gender or race preference.  I have lost family and friends to cancer and there’s always a story from a friend or acquaintance about some unlikely, for lack of a better word, victim, who has just been diagnosed with this scourge.  At work, there have been patients whose cases have made it difficult for me to maintain composure and all I can think is “Fuck cancer!”

So every year I get checked.  And every year, while waiting for the results, I think to myself, “What if this time…?”  So every time I get the all clear, I feel as if I’ve been given a reprieve from the inevitable.

The point of this post?  Just wondering if I’m the only one who goes through this.  Am I?