17 April 2010

This Blog Has Moved

Link to Judith Brodnicki Knits.

As I have some patterns up on Knit Picks, it seemed like a good idea to consolidate my stuff into one place.

22 March 2010

Out of the depths . . .

I am a blubbering mass of energy and pain, confused about which to indulge and unable to sleep. My doc says that the pain/numbness/tingling as a result of the bulging disk between vertebrae C7 and C8 is of the "recurring and remitting" variety, meaning the irritation will ebb and flow no matter how well I feel I am becoming. This explains why there was a relapse almost 2 weeks ago. This explains why I'm a irritable mess with my sleep cycles interrupted. The pain killers and muscle relaxers are to be taken at night, but I always need to sleep for longer with those than I would normally.

In the midst of all of this, I'm knitting and thinking about writing. I think I will explode soon. I wish the explosion would get rid of the pain and irritation. I can't sit still. I have too much to do, and the doing requires sitting still.

I have finished the front and back of a sweater that I'll submit to Knit Picks. I have only to knit the sleeves, but I need to measure the sleeve length on the gal who will get this because she is a petite size. Still, it's not too hard to figure -- just about 1" less in the length from wrist to underarm, then 1" less in the sleeve cap. Not too hard. And it will be the endless slog of stockinette stitch, mainly because this is still written for that adventurous "newbie" knitter. Besides, stockinette stitch is what makes sense for the design.

In other news, the hubby and I will attend our first Seder on the evening of March 30th. One of the progressive synagogues is hosting a community Seder on that evening. I've downloaded one Haggadah from the Internet just to get a feel for what we'll be experiencing. In reviewing it last week I realized that the Catholic communion wafer is very much akin to the afikoman, an "olive-sized" piece of the matzoh that is eaten toward the end of the seder. I do wish someone had addressed these things when I was a kid in Catholic school. It would have made religion class so much more interesting.

Well, it's nearing Passover and Holy Week, so the various Christian churches are advertising their "living last supper" performances. This always makes me wonder whether they are inviting a bunch of people to watch them enjoy a seder? Hah! I'll bet not. A seder takes 3 - 4 hours, and no one really knows that Jesus said (or when he said it) during this meal. Besides, in a real seder everyone would been reclining (the afikoman is eaten while reclining toward the left). I wonder whether the Christian churches will be doing a "Da Vinci" version of the last supper -- Jesus in the center and six men on either side of him, and all of them Italian. No mention of Moses, no one asking the four questions . . . It's so sad to learn how ill-informed we have been through our desire to remain "pure." Once again the desire for purity leads to an instability. There is greater strength in diversity, but "diversity" has become a word with evil connotations among the fundamentalist conservatives who command the attention of the simple-minded.

My head hurts. My shoulder hurts. My soul hurts. Time for sleep.

08 March 2010

A Dose of Perspective for the Well-Intentioned

I have psoriasis. You’d think that would be enough to have to say, but it’s not. Therefore, I will attempt to answer a whole lot of questions here:

No, it is not the same as eczema. Eczema is a histamine reaction through the skin. Psoriasis is an over-production of skin cells in a highly localized area; it is believed to be an auto-immune system disorder.

Yes, I have tried that cream / remedy / lotion / pill / method.

No, this is not merely a “dry skin” disorder.

Yes, I see a doctor about it.

No, it’s not affected by the seasons.

Yes, I realize it’s unsightly.

No, there is no cure. It’s not like people are dying from psoriasis. Therefore I feel very fortunate that this is not cancer or blindness or loss of a limb or any of myriad illnesses and/or conditions that would be truly terrible to have to cope with.

Can we all agree that this is the end of the discussion?

Thank you.

06 March 2010

Bliss and the Following Thereof

On Monday, 1 March, I went to lunch with four girlfriends: Trish, Amy, Glynnis, and Miriam. We celebrated the end of February with laughter, discussion of books, speculation about the need for ritual among societies, and a magnificent lunch amid hopes for an early thaw.

So far the weather has been cooperating: We've had temps above freezing each day since 1 March, and this weekend it was as high as 52ยบ (F) with a bit of gentle rain to speed the washing away of the snowy mess we've been trudging around in since early December 2009.

The knitting has been only variably cooperative, which is to say that some things have gotten done (the waffle socks and one scarf) and other things have failed miserably. I'd cast on a summer top with King Tut mercerized cotton and a smashingly magnificent idea. Unfortunately I had figured it on a gauge for using US 7 needles but I'd cast on with US 4 needles. I need my head examined. I was about 6" into the body before I figured it out. No wonder it was 4" too small around! (I kept thinking it would block out.) And then I'd cast on and ripped out a different top -- a variation of the King Tut one I was working on -- because the pattern stitch just wasn't working to my satisfaction. So I cast on again...and ripped out again. And then I did that one more time before I just put the yarn aside and admitted that what I really and truly wanted to work on was a woolen pullover for which I'd already worked out the design but had put aside thinking I'd work on it later so that its finish would be more in line with the time of year when people actually want to knit woolen pullovers.

No, that pullover wanted to be started now and the Knitting Fates were making sure I knew it. So, the woolen pullover has been started and is going along without a hitch. It's a kind of royal blue color. It's a simple stitch pattern that will finish with a lavish cable on the front.

Speaking of bliss, I've also found new enjoyment in the Three Pines series of detective fiction by Louise Penny. These feature as a protagonist Chief Inspector Armande Gamache of Montreal. Set in the present day, they still read like works of the Golden Age of detective fiction, yet with modern references and bits of humor. I've read the first five books in the series, and I'm awaiting the next as well as I can. She's a marvelous writer.

14 February 2010

Among the Living (barely)

These last two months have been the biggest challenge:

  • Snow
  • More Snow
  • It's even snowing today
  • Temps rarely even as high as freezing.
  • Shoulder/Neck problems (getting better, but still challenging)
  • Mom unexpectedly in the hospital
  • Mom back home, but "physical therapy" consisted of one visit and a sheet of exercises to do (great follow-up VNA - NOT!)
  • Husband has the blues over not being employed
  • Dog vomit
  • Cats want attention
  • Knitted top lost to major gauge swatch lie
  • Husband has bronchitis
  • House is a breeding ground for germs
  • Now I'm getting sick.

On the plus side, my "Knitting Olympics" consists of several events, of which I have completed one so far:
  • Sock Moguls (finishing the 2nd of a pair of waffle socks) -- DONE!
  • Cross-Country Sleeve Slog (finishing the sleeves of a top-down cardigan)
  • Figured Lace Skating (finishing up the kernel scarf, which is quite lovely)
Considering I'm near to being on the injured/sick list, I'll be surprised if I get much more than the sleeves done on the cardigan. Hmmmm.... maybe I should switch events and just knit a pair of socks again. Or a 1x1 rib scarf. Yeah, that could be good. Something that matches my nearly brainless state.

I'll be glad when winter is over!

01 February 2010

Wise Words for Healing

The pain in my neck turns out to be a “moderate” bulge of the disk between C7 & T1.  It’s being managed with physical therapy and medication.


These kind words were sent by my HP friend Katie:


While you're managing the impingement, try to find  time to mentally set down all those burdens you've been carrying the past year or so...get the stress and  worries off your back, so to speak, and remember that there are so many offering support.  think there may have been times when it seemed that you had to be responsible for [your DH’s] well being as well as your own and it's hard living lives at once.


And if you have to speak of the pain, I find it easier to think of it in lower case letters – irksome but not worthy of Capital Letters [which are] for the important stuff like Love, Kindness, Happiness, Doggies, Knitting Patterns. I've found a way of pushing it off to a remote corner of my brain to scream and carry on all it wants while I'm consciously stretching and moving myself forward.


It's amazing and bizarrely rewarding to find out how much one can overcome, but I hope your discomfort is short-lived and non-recurring. Hope you're back knitting up a storm soon.


23 January 2010

A Pain in the Neck

Last November I was having some trouble with pain down my right arm. It was thought to be an impingement of the ulnar nerve and the cause seemed to be from poor posture (rounded shoulders, chin jutting forward). My doctor gave me prescriptions for a pain killer (hydrocodone), a muscle relaxant (cyclobenzaprine), and an anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen 800 mg), plus a referral to physical therapy (Community Rehab -- magnificent people!). I took the pain killer and muscle relaxant at night because they made me tired; I took the anti-inflammatory as directed and I did my exercises and monitored my posture. All healed.

This past Tuesday I woke in the morning with sharp pain in my right scapula that also went down my arm and into my hand. I figured I just slept wrong somehow and had impinged a different nerve. I did my exercises; I even went to my workout (we modified the workout to account for the pain and possible impingement). Tuesday night I just couldn't sleep because of the continued (and now worsened) pain. It seemed to be in the trapezius muscle and near the spine, but it radiated through the scapula and down through my elbow. I took one of the leftover hydrocodone from November around 10:30 p.m. No joy. I took another one around 1:00 a.m. and put some heat on the painful part.

On Wednesday morning I called in sick to the office, then called my doctor for an appointment.

* * * * *
As an aside, I'd like to mention that I tried getting an appointment with a chiropractor. I called the place I'd gone to 2 years ago, the one that still sends emails to me on a regular (almost daily) basis. I said, "I'm in terrible pain. Can I get in to see someone this morning?" The guy who answered the phone hemmed and hawed, then said that they weren't seeing anyone until the afternoon. I hung up. Then I called a 2nd place which had been recommended by a friend. I said the same thing ("I'm in terrible pain; can I get in to see someone this morning?"). The lady who answered hemmed and hawed and said that the doctors were all preparing to go out of town. I told her that this was not my problem and I hung up. I called a third place, said the same thing, and the lady who answered hemmed and hawed and hemmed and hawed, so I finally hung up. Later that morning I happened to see my original chiropractor and when I told him I'd tried to get in that morning he said (with a huge grin of satisfaction), "Oh, yes, we had a seminar this morning! It was great!" They all are now on my list of places never to call if I have a problem. I'll be sending each one of them a letter of explanation of how they managed to lose a customer.
* * * * *

So, I got in to see my doctor at 10:00 a.m. He gave me new prescriptions for all of the above, plus another referral to Community Rehab for physical therapy. I got into Community Rehap at 1:00 p.m. for an appointment. As usual, they were wonderful -- moist heat packs, "E-STIM" and more exercises (these for median nerve impingement). And then I went to my part-time job. Wednesday night I did my exercises, took my meds, and went to sleep.

Thursday morning I had another session at Community Rehab before going to my full-time job. The therapeutic measures managed to keep the pain at bay until about 1:00 p.m. when it came back full force. I did my exercises to no avail. I spent the rest of the day just trying to manage the pain without drugs. After work I went to see the amazing J for some gratuitous massage.

@ @ @ @ @
As an aside, the amazing J is a licensed massage therapist. He's serious about what he does. He doesn't need to burn incense or play new-age music while he works (you can do that yourself if you like, but it's not what he carries around in his massage therapy bag). He approaches his work as would a physical therapist. He keeps up on the latest information and techniques, and he's not swayed by a lot of psychobabble.
@ @ @ @ @

So, J did a bit of massage, and it helped until about 9:30 p.m. So, I did my exercises and took my meds, then I tried to sleep. No joy. I took another hydrocodone and added heat. No luck. I slept all of about 3 hours.

Friday morning I woke at 4:00 a.m. in pain. I let the dog out then went into the office (I just as well get paid, right?) and did the best I could to catch up on stuff. I called my doctor's office at 10:00 a.m. to let him know that the meds didn't seem to be working. The nurse (from my doc's office) called back to say that there was a prescription for a stronger pain medicine waiting for me at the office. So, I left work early, picked up the prescription, and then I went home. The new script (for oxycodone) helped me to sleep but it did nothing for the pain. I had a 3:00 p.m. appointment for more physical therapy. This is the first time that the therapy didn't work. I was in more pain when I left. So, I reported this to my doctor's office and was told they'd set up an appointment for an MRI.

And then I got a call from the nurse (Donna) at my doc's office. She said, "We can't get you scheduled for an MRI, so you should go to an emergency room and they'll get you jumped ahead of the line. If they have questions they can just call us."

OK. I went to one of the two hospitals she recommended. They did all of the paperwork, took me back to an exam room where I repeated all of the above (except for the asides). I was told, "I'm so sorry, but that's just not how it works. We can't give you anything stronger than they did, and we can't schedule an MRI." On top of that, I was seen by a PA (physician's assistant -- not a real doctor) who not only repeated that there was nothing they could do for me, but she said, "You have to give the therapy more time. We can't just schedule an MRI. I wouldn't do that anyway. I think this is all muscular, not nerve-related."

At this point I was ready to scream. But I didn't. I said that I just as well leave.

"Oh, no, we can still do something for the pain."

Huh? I thought you just said there was nothing you could do for me?!!!!!

They gave me an injection of something (it sounded like Deletol, but I know that's not right) and then a prescription for Valium because, in the opinion of the PA, the cyclobenzaprine was worthless as a muscle relaxant.

Whatever if was they injected me with took the edge off the pain but didn't take it away. It also made my head kind of fuzzy. At any rate, it wore off in 3 hours. I took one of the Valium as directed. It wore off in 6 hours. Now I'm awake and in pain, plus I have a migraine.

Is it healthcare reform that we need in this country, or is it communication reform? I can't believe the the odyssey I've been through in the past couple of days -- people who don't understand the words, "I'm in terrible pain and I need help;" nurses with the misguided notion that I'd get an MRI if I went to an ER; PAs who think they are gods -- and in the end I'm still in pain.