Hospital Visit

People, thanks for all the good wishes on my health this weekend.  Guess what?  I really was sick.  By Sunday afternoon I was so weak that breathing felt strenuous.  I called a friend and went to the emergency room at Big Teaching Hospital.  Among local hospitals, BTH is my heart.  It’s the place I go when I need someone who can make a diagnosis.  Other hospitals may be satisfactory when I am already sure what’s going on, but BTH is the place to get a smart doc who will answer some questions and the technology and staff to take care of anything, including brain surgery.  I had not been hospitalized since I was diagnosed with lupus, so if I was going to break that record I needed to break it in the most productive way possible. 

As it turned out, I didn’t need brain surgery.  I was dehydrated.  I still can’t explain it from the meds I was on and my activities last week.  Tomorrow I’ll tote all my labwork to my rheumatologist and ask some questions.  Since kidneys are a large part of the fluid balance control system, and kidneys are frequently damaged by lupus, I need to put this before my lupus doc immediately. 

I got lots of IV fluids in the hospital.  In addition, they fed me bland food and took blood every four (!) hours.  The food was a big disapointment.  I think the hospital is the perfect place to introduce people to a new, healthy way of eating.  It’s an opportunity that is unparalleled, because your people are a captive audience and sick enough to pay attention.  After all, they don’t want to die, and they like knowing there’s some aspect of their care they can control.  To my mind, that means you want to put your best foot waaaay forward in presenting an attractive, flavorful, healthy meal.  My BTH failed this miserably.  I was fed a “cardiac diet” of unseasoned, fiberless, unimaginatively prepared food.  There were items such as greens and sliced peaches that I’m sure came from preservative-packed cans.  Too much refined sugar was in evidence, as were sugar substitutes. 

The friend who took me to the hospital loves to be in hospitals.  She is excellent company, as she enjoys that socializing-while-waiting game.  Because she and I have long histories with BTH, hers from parents being treated there repeatedly, mine from being on staff there and having the family history as well, we ran into plenty of employees that we knew.  Time passed pretty easily. 

I took the knitting bag with the red alpaca sweater to  the hospital with me.  It was not a strongly conscious choice.  The bag was already packed and in view.  I was so weak that I forgot many items I thought I might need, including Wicked.  No worry.  Once I was in a room in the emergency room, I had knitting time and even the inclination.  I put many rows on my sweater in my room on the 9th floor after I arrived there, too. 

I only slept two hours last night.  I was all tied up with my IV, pulse oxygen sensor, and ECG leads.  I’m going to make up for that immediately.



Just Sunday Winding Down

These past few days it has taken me long into the day to have more strength for getting up and moving.  And the pain has not been easy, either.  I’m used to fatigue and pain, but not muscle weakness.  I actually took my blood pressure this morning, then listened to my heart.  I’m questioning whether this is all med withdrawal, so tomorrow I will go to my rheumatologist and ask questions.  Meanwhile, people who are close around me are checking for every little thing that they can do to help.  I am blessed in that way.  Even my young host student offered to stay at the house a few days (instead of his dorm) to lend a hand.  He lived with us a whole summer, so he knows his way around here.  I’ve declined for now, but the offer is thoughtful. 

I keep looking at my new exercise machine.  It’s tapered and cool, like a race car.  Well, not so much like a race car,  but solid and sleek, like something meant for speed.  I refuse to be mocked by it.  This is just a few bad days.

This is what to do with bad days:

burlyspunpurplerugmidway.jpg  I started with a solid violet, now you can see I’ve added deep red and mahogany stripes.  You’ll have to imagine the colors a bit, because this is reading pink instead of magenta.  The mahogany yarn is really a brown/black combination.  There is no pattern to the stripes.  There are a few rows of color work where I stranded two yarns along, hiding the floats on the back.  Each of these areas has two rows and is stockinette instead of garter stitch.

burlyspunpurplerugmidwayb.jpg The lower area is comprised of two violet stitches then a magenta stitch, repeated all the way across, all in knit stitch.  It’s second row is all in purl, magenta over magenta and violet over violet. 

The upper area is comprised of two violet then two magenta stitches, all knit, for the first row.  The second row is all purl, again magenta over magenta and violet over violet.  It is especially important to make your floats loose when you are felting, because they can shrink and pull tightly, making puckers in your final product.  This project is really growing on me.  The colors are deep and soothing.  I’m hoping to get more inches on it this afternoon. 

Meanwhile, I’m out of steam.


More Movies and the Bike

I knew this would happen.  Ever since I posted my final list of fours yesterday, I’ve had other items popping into my head, competing for the things that made the list.  The movie category is the worst, because obviously I can’t remember every movie I ever saw, not even every good movie I ever saw, and different events and circumstances bring different ones to mind.  Raising Arizona has been giving me a fit.  It’s exactly the kind of black humor that I love, and it has one of my favorite actors in it:  Nicholas Cage.  And it has stupid people and politics and cute babies–good elements for a movie, in my opinion.  Then there’s Flashdance.  It was the movie that defined the 80s for me.  I wanted to be the dancer, or even the welder, and attract the boss’ attention, not confined to the hospital as a resident, pretending to be politic and conservative.  People even told me I looked like Jennifer Beals (no kidding! 16 lupus-years is a lifetime).  She’s Gotta Have It, an early Spike Lee joint about a woman who was as free as I wanted to be, is another that really nags at me.  How could I include The Empire Strikes Back in preference to that first Spike Lee beauty?  Well, there was that thing of sitting in a Philadelphia theater with the widest screen I ever saw, feeling like I was flying with the Rebel Army.  And the fact that I learned every single word of dialogue in my ten visits.  And that I usually went with two guys who were smart, sweet men who saved my medical school life.  I’m sighing, because this makes me want to write about things that cannot be released. 

Hmmm.  Maybe I’m coasting in movieland because the past two days have been rough.  This flu segment of my withdrawal syndrome means feeling feverish, achy, and very weak.  I have hardly had the stamina to comb my hair.  I talked to my doc again, and he suggested starting another med from the class that we discontinued.  This med has a much longer half-life and perhaps in a week or two I can taper and discontinue it without a problem.  I started it yesterday and it does seem to ameliorate some of those symptoms, but I’m not back to normal.  I missed knitting group.  Again. 

Well, I’m back from a long break, helping one of my kids put the NordicTrack Commercial 400 together.  It’s an exercise bicycle with a recumbent seat position, relatively cheap at Costco.  It’s in my bedroom where I have no excuse for ignoring it.  The seat back works perfectly for me and I actually put 1 minute on the bike when we finished.  A test run!  3.7 calories.  Woohoo, I’m on my way!  If I can operate this thing and burn a few calories in my current weak state, just imagine in a few weeks.  Again, I say to the weight loss partner, “Dude!  you’re goin’ down!”   

I put a good 20 inches on my mat, and added some mahogany brown and a deep red.  Photos soon. 


Brain Glitch number 1 (of probably a dozen-zillion)

Well I am laughing this morning!  Mary Z has uncovered a total brain glitch on my part.  The photo of a red tote bag that I showed yesterday was not at all the item I meant to show, but somehow when I was scrolling through my photos I chose the first felted bag I saw.  That photo features a red bag from a variety of colored wools, I think from Knitpicks.  On the other hand, the bag that I had in mind, this green one,

 gianttotelimeorangered.jpg       gianttotelimeorangeredc.jpg

is made completely of burly spun and is the most rugged tote I’ve ever made.  It’s huge, about 16 x 15 x 5 inches, and it’s probably my favorite of the felted totes that I’ve created.  I was in love with the colors and striped them around the top and to make the flat bottom.  Anyway, their listings had expired from my store, and I had to relist them, so now they’re both available on  How hard is it to sell stuff that isn’t even listed?  So…big thanks, Mary Z!

Now for the four things lists that Tut-tut tagged me with..

4 movies I’d watch again:  Moonstruck (with Cher and Nicholas Cage), Juno, The Empire Strikes Back (I’ve alredy watched it 10 times), Monster’s Ball (Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton)

4 TV shows I watch with regularity:  NCIS, Today Show (can you get more regular than every day?), the Ellen Show (for things like this– and because the marshmallow game just makes me scream) , and reruns of Murder She Wrote.

4 places I’ve been:  Meridian, Mississippi; Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Opp, Alabama

4 things I like to eat:  avocados, Greek strained yogurt (current obsession), home-baked bread, tomatoes (lifelong love)

4 places I’d rather be:  swimming, baking bread, at a Vance Gilbert concert,  and Seaside, FL without my sun sensitivity)

4 places I’ve lived:  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Stuttgart, Germany; Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri; Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

Okay, the people have to bathe now.


Med Withdrawal, Part II

I woke this morning feeling like a burglar snuck (one of my favorite nonwords!) into my room and beat the crap out of me.  I have that flu-like feeling, where every muscle hurts, from the teeniest one in your face to the big leg ones.  You know, the quads.  Yes, I still remember my medical terminology, but is it necessary?  You get the idea.  My doc warned me about this.  It’s that medication withdrawal, part two.  He said you could get a flu-like syndrome, feeling feverish and achy.  When we talked yesterday he said this probably wouldn’t last more than two months.  I didn’t go through the phone and choke the life out of him because I really love him and know that he didn’t start this medicine anticipating that I would have to go through this at the end.  Or did he?  Grrrrr.  Pain makes you think mean thoughts.  And guess what?!  Part two doesn’t mean part one-the buzzy things rolling around in your brain-is over.  It is added on.  Sadly enough, part two isn’t made one bit better by gnawing the ears off your dark chocolate Easter bunny, so I’ve been taking Tylenol every six hours and  moving very, very, very slowly. 

On the upside, I had a great extended phone conversation with my across-the-street neighbor today.  We caught up on all kinds of gossip and news and I feel a little more connected to my neighborhood again.  After that, another friend with an autoimmune disorder called me and we commiserated and talked children for a while.  I’m actually finding more nerve to reach out and call people and schedule get-together time.  Every time I start thinking “Hey, I’m cool,  I’m a loner, I can exist without a lot of human contact,” I have to remind myself that I’m too old and experienced to be lying to myself. 

I have a dilemma.  My family is having a family reunion in a large nearby city this summer.  Hmm, is there a need for secrecy?  We are not exactly the Mafia.  We’ll be in Atlanta.  I found the hotel for us, and now I’m charged (by the higher and mightier sisters) with finding a place for us to have a dinner together the night after arrival.  This has always been our time to see everyone in the same place and have a bit of a business meeting (okay, pick the place for the next reunion) and eat a lot.  I really, really want to see us have good food.  I cannot stand for this place to be another Golden Corral or (insert any Chinese restaurant name) buffet.  We are a family with mostly comfortable, middle-class lives, but we are cheapskates about our food.  I have to convince everyone that $30 is not too much to pay for a meal in a beautiful restaurant in a large city, a restaurant that has good reviews and doesn’t serve chicken fingers.   Pray for me, y’all.  Pray mightily.  ‘Cause I am not driving to Atlanta to eat at the Golden Corral. 

Since the fingers are part of the every-muscle-hurting syndrome, I had to choose something different to knit on today.  I’ve been wanting to make some small rugs, or mats, and I decided to get out one of my big hunks of Lambs Pride Burley Spun and start knitting it with some size 15 needles.  I don’t have to hold onto anything very tightly, and it shouldn’t take me all year to produce something I like.  I will finish it by felting it.  I have used this in the past to make some rather interesting pieces, including a tote bag that evidently no one but me can really love. feltedredmexicanpursed.jpg  It’s been in my store all year.  I might have to take it into custody for personal use. 

See?  My rug will be a deep violet.  burlyspunpurpleruga.jpg  That color is so off, it’s reading blue.  I’ll stripe it with some colors that I haven’t chosen yet.  I have lots of Burly Spun. 

Tut-tut tagged me with some questions that I will answer tomorrow.  I know you’re all dying to know what movies I want to see again.  Meanwhile, I’m consuming diced canned organic tomatoes (low sodium), crumbles of herbed feta cheese, and a spoonful of Vegenaise.  Vegenaise is the vegetarian equivalent of Kraft mayonnaise, and it takes me back to my childhood.  My mom thought the way to make salad was to cut up lettuce and tomatoes together and cover them with mayonnaise.  On a fancy day, she’d add cucumbers.  Now that’s a Southern classic. 



Sometimes the grocery basket is more telling than the recipe reports.  I went to Publix today.

2 plums

2 pounds of roma tomatoes

2 pounds of baby green beans in microwavable packs

2 large tubs of nonfat Greek yogurt

1 large can of low-sodium tomato juice (150 v. 680 grams sodium per cup)

3 cans sardines in olive oil

2 12-can cases of seltzer

3 quart-size bottles of lemon-lime seltzer (carbonated water and natural flavor)

1 hand-held grater

1 box organic vegetable broth, low sodium

1 large box oats, regular cook (not quick)

It gives me a special pleasure to eat well.  I think it is one of the forms of pampering yourself that is rarely mentioned.


Dangling the Carrot

What’s the best present God can give a woman?  A good man?  Great hair?  Twenty years of free housekeeping service?  Heck no!  It’s a no-brainer:  weight loss.  I mean, for those of us who don’t have eating disorders and treasure these moments for all the wrong reasons, stepping on the scales and getting a free weight loss is like a trip to Saks with a gift card. 

Well, duh, I’m not talking about this for no reason at all!  I stepped on the scales today and registered an eight pound loss .  I know they do that every week on Biggest Loser, but I can’t lift weights and climb stairs six hours a day.  Matter of fact, my current exercise regimen requires 10 minutes of movement a day.  Shut up.  That’s not funny.  So it took me a month to get the 8 pounds, but I’m proud. 

But…(there’s always a but) I do this every couple of years.  I (finally!!!) get down to 10 mg of prednisone a day, my body wants regular food in regular quantities again, and I lose 40 pounds.  Just as I’m starting to enjoy it and spend about a million bucks on new clothes, I go into a flare.  The prednisone goes up, the appetite sky-rockets, I start craving shots of Reddiwhip, and I gain 60 pounds.  On top of that, my exercise minutes go into the minus column.  Two steps forward, three or five steps back. 

So I’m not going to get excited.  This is just God dangling a carrot in front of me.  I know that sustaining this weight loss momentum depends on keeping my prednisone down and my exercise up.  (I told you before, that IS exercise!)  New mantra.  Flare prevention is my life. 

I can’t resist an open letter to my weight loss partner:  You’re goin’ down, dude!!!