Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Empty Spaces

Give Clue snuggles from me, peach ... and don't forget to visit.

March 1995 - January 14, 2009

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Muttering, Mumbling, and Probably Meandering

Here is week 247:

  1. Inaugural :: Ball

  2. Pledge :: Vow

  3. String :: Can I stitch with it?

  4. Trot :: Gallop

  5. Fitness :: Out of ...

  6. Cinder :: Block like the one which fell on my toe -- how can something nearly hollow be that heavy?

  7. Edge :: U2

  8. 31 :: a prime number, 32

  9. Blue :: smurfs

  10. Leather :: Tori Amos

In other news ... I brought DH home from the hospital a week ago yesterday, and he returned to work the following Tuesday. He was actually an in-patient for a full week! That never happens anymore, what with insurance companies kicking people out ten minutes after open heart surgery, so you know this was -- and unfortunately still is -- a serious situation. We still have no real answers regarding why the original clot formed in his leg (except it's not due to lymphoma), and we're just lucky that when it broke into multiple clots and went to his lungs, they didn't kill him.

Right now, I'm most concerned that his anticoagulation numbers aren't where the doctors want them to be. I don't know what all of this means exactly, but here's what our doctor has told us: DH is at 1.2 (and has been consistently at 1.2 for at least a week now), but they want him above 2 and well below 7. At 7 or higher, he would have to return to in-patient status immediately, as he could bleed to death internally. However, until he's above 2, the blood clots are still a risk -- which makes me ask what I think is the rather obvious: Why did they release him in the first place? He was released with a prescription for Lovenox -- which I have to administer to him by injection (technically, he could administer this, but it STINGS for 15 minutes after it's injected, requires two injections in order to get his full dose, and the stinging starts within about 30 seconds after injection ... so it works better if I do it, primarily because he's still very afraid of needles). He's on a huge dose of this medication twice per day -- and has been for nearly two full weeks now, and yet, his numbers just aren't moving. At the same time, he's also been taking Coumadin by mouth -- since day one in the hospital and in increasing doses ... I'm pretty sure the reason things aren't happening any faster is because DH is 6'6" and just under 300 pounds, but at the same time, they don't want to make any drastic or sudden changes in his medication regimen because they don't want to get anywhere near that dangerous number 7.

But it certainly is FRUSTRATING for both of us. Those Lovenox shots hurt so bad he's in tears just thinking about getting the shot, and I'm only able to hold back because I need to see straight in order to stick him. It breaks my heart that to help him -- allegedly, at least at this point, because I'm certainly not convinced -- I have to cause him so much obvious physical pain. And oh my God, the bruises! Pretty much his entire front waistline for about four inches in width is this horrible purply blue bruise -- the color a bruise is when it's freshest, at its most painful, and from the most serious type of injury (like a car accident). This bruising is from his belt (no, I'm not kidding), so tomorrow he's picking up some suspenders. On the other hand, the bruising does indicate that his blood is getting thinner than normal -- and that is what we want.

As far as the diabetes, he was sent home with no insulin in any form to manage it. WTF??? I'm not sure how much my DH isn't telling me, or isn't telling me accurately. It certainly sounds crazy to release a diabetic without prescribing him any insulin after a week-long stay in the hospital during which he was on a diabetic diet and ON INSULIN ... but, as I've mentioned several times before, the medical community in this area of the country appears to be made up primarily of those who barely didn't flunk out of medical school (scroll past this post, please; it will come up first in the list).

I couldn't be at the hospital all the time, and unfortunately, I mostly managed to miss all the doctors myself, so right now I'm stuck relying on DH's word for things. I will feel more comfortable after going with him to an appointment or two with several of the doctors who were involved in his care ... but the fact is he absolutely WAS released from the hospital without insulin or a prescription for insulin.

So anyway, according to DH, our primary care doctor still thinks the diabetes is just stress related. The problem with that method of defense is that it would be extremely difficult to describe the entirety of the time I've known DH as anything other than not just stressful, but stress-FILLED. Treating him under the assumption he will stop being diabetic once he stops being stressed out is, thus, most likely an exercise in futility. Additionally, the endocrinologist did a special test able to somehow look back three months in time ~~~woohoo time travel ~~~ and Todd's numbers indicated he was diabetic then, too. There's no question he was also stressed then ... which is basically my point.

DH's initial plan upon returning home was to eat as few carbohydrates as possible -- none if he could manage to avoid them altogether. I just don't think this approach is very healthy ... and to be very blunt, DH was much more tolerable a person to be around when he was on insulin in the hospital.

He was given a small supply of insulin (after we insisted on it), but no prescription for it, by our doctor during his first appointment after returning home, and although it appears he doesn't need very much of it, he does benefit from small but regular doses. His ability to control his anger (or have none at all to begin with!) increases dramatically with the addition of insulin to his diet.

Meanwhile, I managed to make myself briefly sick, too. Wanting to show encouragement to DH by taking a few shots of my own, I decided it was time for the pneumonia vaccine as well as this year's flu vaccine. Because of my fibromyalgia-compromised immune system, I was very nervous about the pneumonia vaccine, which is allegedly good for life, but it went fine, and I have not experienced any symptoms from it. On the other hand, I started experiencing flu symptoms right on schedule for me -- late the next day, or so -- but didn't recognize them for what they were until all heck broke loose (oh ... sorry ... TMI) three mornings later. I'm feeling better now, although my stomach is still a little iffy. This is the first flu vaccine in about five years which I recommend you be sure to get -- ASAP in fact, as I hear it is already making the rounds -- because you DEFINITELY don't want the full blown version of THIS!

Other than that, I'm just hoping we manage to make it financially through the next two weeks. I had everything planned fairly well to fit our extremely tight budget before DH had to go into the hospital ... The biggest wrench is the Lovenox -- which is expensive.

That combined with the fact that a friend of mine -- well, ex-friend, I guess, since she can't be bothered to return calls, emails, IMs, snail mails, or anything else -- hasn't repaid a loan that would just about cover the Lovenox. It's my fault, though.

I knew her to be unreliable about returning things -- she had something of mine for well over six years because she kept misplacing it and then every time she found it, she was too stingy and/or disorganized to bother putting it in the mail to me. (This always really hurt my feelings because she was mailing packages of all kinds of things off to other people all the time -- so it's not like she didn't have the time, the funds, the packing materials, the know-how, etc. to mail me MY package of stuff. Rather, she just didn't have the inclination. She used to say it was to make sure I would visit her again, but I visited several times during the six years she had my stuff ... and those were the times when my stuff always *POOF* disappeared ... nowhere to be found.)

Obviously then, I should have known better when visited her for what I now know was the last time that agreeing to buy things for her (under the agreement she would pay me back at the beginning of the following month by PayPal) was a mistake.

I was very specific about the PayPal portion of the repayment agreement. I don't take checks; PayPal is more useful, more trustworthy, much faster, etc. (Also, she'd griped to me many times about the bad checks she'd written -- with her complaint being that the bank honored them, then expected her to pay for both the checks and the overdraft fees, and what was she -- a woman on a fixed disability income where there's so little spending flexibility -- supposed to do now? I listened to her so many times, always trying not to roll my eyes, sometimes suggesting she turn off her overdraft protection with her bank, and thinking to myself that she should stop writing bad checks -- or stop spending the money she'd already written the check for on other stuff. Don't get me wrong: I DO understand that sometimes things happen; for instance, occasionally, a person writes a check with every intention of it being a good check, but then a medical emergency comes up. The gods know, this kind of thing has happened to me/us once or twice -- and I've always made good on the checks [if I couldn't hold them up from being cashed in the first place, which I always tried to do first, and which was successful about 50% of the time -- saving me the cost of the overdraft fees, and actually earning me respect in the eyes of the check recipient] -- with a money order, not another check [another check would have been an insult to someone to whom I'd already, even unintentionally, written a bad check]. Problems just came up way too often with her checks, in my opinion. Also in my opinion, she didn't do the right thing about remedying the problems. I've since actually come to the conclusion he's probably suffering from early onset Alzheimers -- which my maternal grandmother suffered from, and so I saw firsthand the challenges this can cause and the damage it can do -- and it's my greatest personal fear as far as my own future. Anyway, in the case of this ex-friend, Alzheimers would explain away not only so much of her "irrational" financial behavior and other difficulties caring for herself, but it would also explain so much of what I can only describe as an increasingly cruel pattern of behavior toward me which eventually devastated our friendship.) Anyway, I had good reason to require a PayPal payment, especially from her. (It would be unfair not to note that she did send me a check -- or I assume it was a check; I didn't open it before returning it to her with a note on the outside reminding her I don't accept checks and to use PayPal.) When I didn't hear anything from her, I sent her a PayPal invoice, which of course, makes things as easy as pie on her. I've since sent her two PayPal reminders also. It's ridiculous! Basically, she's just a thief at this point, and I'm just a schmuck whom she managed to rip off one final time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Muttering

This is week 246:

  1. Las Vegas :: Cyndi Toth (Cynthia Ann Toth) PLEASE contact me !!!

  2. Linus :: Snoopy, Sloopy, Loopy, Clue

  3. Struck :: Moon

  4. Movie :: Keeping the Faith

  5. Anxious :: DH

  6. Bandit :: Raccoon

  7. Picks :: Sticks

  8. Lasso :: Loop, Loopy, Clue

  9. Dinner :: not hungry

  10. Bargain :: Bin

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This is Nuts!

Okay ... I know the stereotype: women are supposed to love shoes. Most women I know have, at some point in their lives, loved shoes, even if they do not now love shoes. At one time, I had a moderate love for shoes myself. However, after having a bunionectomy on one foot, my love for shoes changed more into a like for shoes. Then when I broke my other ankle, I really lost my love for shoes. Even more importantly, now that I've learned just how damaged my back is and know exactly how much high heels contribute to screwing up the female body's spinal alignment (all to make us women look sexy for men, so cleverly using such a delicious looking tool of torture that we often willingly go ahead and do it to ourselves!), I make my shoe choices much more carefully and with entirely different goals in mind. Today, it's all about comfort for me.

Don't get me wrong, though. A pretty pair of shoes can still turn my head, even now. Usually I end up thinking of how it will hurt me in some way, but that's beside the point. I do like my comfortable shoes to look nice, and whenever I find a shoe that looks particularly attractive and is also comfortable, I've been known to buy the same shoe in more than one color ... or an extra pair or two in the same pair as backups for when I wear out the first pair. I do that especially because I wear an odd size which is difficult to find in the first place.

Anyway, my love for shoes clearly was never anything like that of Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City who, in one episode, counted up all her shoes, did the math, and realized she could have bought a home -- in New York City, no less -- if she hadn't spent all her money on shoes! I never loved shoes THAT much, and I'm pretty sure I've never known anyone who's loved shoes that much. I also never had a love for the type of shoes Carrie loved -- I mean, some of her shoes were really pretty weird! (But then, so were quite a lot of her entire outfits ... ) Most heels hurt after about ten minutes -- or less, so I never got into them at all -- especially heels over a maximum of 2 inches. Teeter tottering around like Carrie Bradshaw looks totally ridiculous, and I had a job where I needed credibility. Actually, to put it bluntly, I prefer not to teeter totter at all.

Anyway, lately there's been this big thing for Dr. Scholl's shoes -- just the plain old standard Dr. Scholl's sandal I remember my mother liking when I was a little girl in the 1970s -- but the big thing about them now is that the wooden base is painted. It's such a big thing now that it even made the Martha Stewart show; she was showing people how to paint their own. Depending on where you are shopping (online offers the most options), you can buy them in all different patterns and colors -- stripes, dots, and so on. Some of them really are pretty cute, although it seems kind of weird to me that people really want a pair of shoes where the part you step on is painted -- so it's not even seen all that well while you're wearing it. But that's one of those things about fads ... they're always a bit silly.

Here's a cute pair you can pick up for the minimal cost of just $129.99. Wait -- $129.99? For a pair of Dr. Scholl's? Over $100? These are EXACTLY the same shoes my mother used to pick up at Walgreens, of all places, and probably for less than $20 way back then. The only difference is that this cute pair has been painted a lovely shade of sky blue, and then has white polkadots painted on top of that. So the paint job is worth $95? Oh, wait, sorry ... the paint was administered by an artist named Marie Hejl. Well, sorry, but if Picasso wanted to paint my shoes before I bought them, I still don't think I'd give him an extra $95 for doing it. (Maybe Dali.) Look, down there in the left hand corner of THIS PAGE, and it says, "May We Suggest" followed by a picture of a regular, unpainted pair of Dr. Scholl's shoes for just $34.99! Yet people are still willing to pay this kind of money for these -- or these, which I don't think are anywhere near as cute, myself.

Now, even if you are NOT artistically inclined, as I definitely am NOT, you can still buy some of the regular Dr. Scholl's, buy some paint (inexpensively), and paint the shoes yourself. A few stencils later, and you can have almost any of these painted shoes for no more than half the price they are selling for.

Heck, at that point, you can start taking orders from your friends, and charging $100. You'll make a nice profit and it will still save your friends a hefty chunk of change.

Try selling a pair on eBay -- who knows where you can go from there?

There's nothing wrong with this idea, either. After all, as I mentioned, Martha Stewart had a segment on her show about this. If Martha can do it, then you can, too! Or at least, I think that's pretty much her motto. Nothing she does is too terribly difficult -- or it's never seemed that way the fairly numerous amount of times I've caught her show. Sure, sometimes it's a bit time consuming to do ... or things LOOK difficult ... but what Martha shows you is that the things that look difficult and expensive and oh-so-chic really are not so much trouble to do yourself if you have just a little bit of time and a little bit of interest.

Give it a try ... buy a regular pair of Dr. Scholl's in your size, and go to town!

Or just buy a regular pair of Dr. Scholl's if you want a pair, skip the fad, and get back to stitching -- which is what I'm going to do. I always wanted a pair of those shoes because my mother liked them so much ... Now maybe I can find out why she liked them so much -- for $34.99, LOL.

Two Weeks for the Post of One

This is week 244:
  1. Cluster :: What a bunch of women do when they are talking about someone
  2. Announcement :: News
  3. Respect :: Lacking
  4. Incident :: a situation which has as much chance to end up on a police report or as some other part of your permanent record, as it does to become one of those stories you won't tell your kids (or the children of anyone else in your generation for whom you are supposed to be setting a good example) -- at least not until those kids are grown-ups with kids themselves
  5. Accordion :: an instrument rarely seen played which looks both silly and interesting ... and which you kind of want to try playing but for some reason you aren't entirely sure of, would not actually want anyone to see you trying to play
  6. Drunk :: Frat boys
  7. If :: only, which are the first two words of the most common phrase I heard growing up: "If only you'd never been born, ... " Like I somehow had any choice or blame in the matter.
  8. Dexter :: Shoe (I haven't seen the TV show because we don't have that channel ... Should I? Would it make me feel better about myself or my life to see a show about a "nice" serial killer? Can I sic him on certain people?)
  9. Wedding :: An event which is supposed to be special and about the bride and the groom, but almost always ends up being about everyone else and anything but special. It will be unforgettable, though.
  10. Gambling :: I probably could have said Gambling after Wedding instead of what I did, but without saying what I did, you wouldn't have understood why I could have said Gambling. :)

Here, in a more timely fashion (It's difficult to keep on track when you have an improperly sealed lumbar puncture causing all kinds of wacky symptoms for you ... then add your MIL having an angioplasty followed by open heart surgery to confuse the days even more, especially when you're not done grieving over your FIL's untimely death, and it's amazing anything at all happens anywhere near on time anymore!), is Week 245:

  1. Illicit :: Insurance (I guess because of the way they tend to do anything they can to NOT pay out when any reasonable person would agree that they should.)
  2. Go :: Green
  3. Jacket :: Spring
  4. Blow :: Wind
  5. Coach :: Baseball
  6. Effort :: Work, Try, Attempt
  7. Leadership :: Something sorely missing from the current US Republican administration (And please remember, Zooomabooma, that this is MY free association, Linknot yours. Obviously, since we have different political opinions about this current administration, if our free associations lead us to think of this political administration, entirely different words will lead us there, or the same word will lead us to say entirely different things. Since this is free association, by definition, it's pretty useless to argue about it.)
  8. Snore :: DH !!!!!
  9. Fearless :: Strawberries (it's because of the movie, Fearless, which is one of my favorites)
  10. Network :: Why, the Independent Fiber Network, of course!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

An Unexpected Gift

Karen Pierce, with whom I have not gotten along, wrote this as a comment to one of my recent posts:

Very sad. I have such a distrust and dislike for the medical field. We're at their mercy, and more and more it's becoming clear that there are a lot of "medical professionals" who should not be trusted with our care.

My sympathies to your family, Heather.

Her note is lovely, and although I wanted to write her to say so for days, I just couldn't take her sympathy note with the sincerity it was intended because of the history between us.

And that was sad -- really sad. Because maybe Karen was truly affected by what I wrote about how horribly unnecessary, undignified, and inhumane Dad's death was. It was a death which simply should not have happened -- not then, and certainly not that way, that is. Maybe Karen's sympathy note was for real -- an honest expression I could trust. Maybe she was reaching out to me, for the first time, in kindness, which would be a good thing I should encourage. Maybe it was a moment which could have turned our "relationship," (for lack of a better word) around, and yet, I was ... afraid. My thickened skin didn't trust her, or the way she reached out, or what her motives might be.

I kept thinking about these things. Was I being fair to Karen? Was I being fair to me? I wasn't sure. I did realize her words touched me enough to wish I felt safe putting faith in them.

So, I wrote this post, and although she was much the focus, it wasn't just about Karen because there are a lot of other people out there in the online needlework world tossing around cruel words without a second thought whom I hoped to at least encourage to have a second thought the next time they do something like this -- to anyone, not just me.

I have now edited that post because earlier yesterday evening, I received a surprising email from Karen in which she stated the comment she wrote in sympathy about my father-in-law was not only sincere, but also intended to put the past where it belongs -- behind us -- and to initiate a truce. And Karen said she still wanted to initiate a truce.

I emailed back suggesting we talk by phone, thinking if we could each hear each other's voice, we would be able to hear sincerity from each other much better than through email. I also gave her my phone number.

Just minutes later, the phone rang, and Karen and I laughed and occasionally teared up through a wonderful and quite lengthy conversation. We apologized to each other for our past disagreements and mean comments, and we really started talking with each other about who we are as individuals. In doing so, we quickly discovered several fairly unusual things we have in common. We were both prepared to be not only forgiving, but also open-minded because each of us had taken a step on our own in a vulnerable direction -- Karen with her email requesting a truce, and then me by giving her my phone number. Now we have an actual foundation -- and a fairly firm one at that -- for a real friendship.

Our past disagreements seem so silly to us, especially when neither of us can remember what it was that first triggered them. Why not let those things go? Why not be friends? Maybe not bosom buddies, but at least friends who can appreciate each other's stitching and be kind to each other ... I think we both felt a lot better about ourselves after the phone call.

There is so much else going on in the world -- things I don't have to remind anyone of, I know, but things which are actually causing loss of life because other people in allegedly more important positions can't be bothered to admit their mistakes, or sit down and talk with each other while treating each other like human beings and with a modicum of respect. I think about those other things going on in the world every day, and I'm quite active politically as far as contacting my Senators, Representatives, etc., to let them know what I think they should do to resolve things. Most of the time, I don't feel like I'm very effective at making anything happen.

But when I received Karen's email, and then her phone call in response to my email, and as we talked, I did feel like maybe I could actually cause some real change, at least in what is my little part of the world. I mentioned this to Karen, too, that we could set a different example by being the first -- but hopefully not the last! -- to STOP the meanness, which reminded me of a quote I'd read earlier this week somewhere:

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead
Contrary to our usual perceptions, a gift is always unexpected, never obligatory. I think sometimes we forget that in our materialistic world where we feel we "have to" give so-and-so a gift for her birthday or on Christmas. Such is not the case; we always choose to give a gift, and that choice is what makes the gift so special.

Friendship is perhaps the greatest gift of all. Thank you, Karen, for offering me the gift of friendship.

Monday, October 01, 2007

One of My Most Recent Projects

It's really hard for me to do a happy dance for this piece.

It's by Debbie Rowley of DebBee's Designs, and is called Holiday Highlights Father's Day; the copyright date is 2006.

I stitched it on Zweigart 28 count potato lugana with the charted colors. By the way, if you don't stitch the words "tools," "naps," and "ties," you don't need Crescent Colours Roasted Chestnut at all for this one.

If you stitch this piece on evenweave or linen, I highly recommend making a few of the specialty stitches on the equivalent sized aida first (14 count aida for 28 count linen or evenweave; 16 for 32; 18 for 36) so you know how big to make your stitches on the evenweave or linen. When the whole piece is specialty stitches, as this one is -- and specialty stitches that are new to you and don't involve making any part of a cross stitch, to boot -- it's pretty difficult to determine what is considered over two and what is over one. Or at least, it was for me. I had a heck of a time with that part and could have saved myself hours -- and a lot of frustration -- if I had just picked up a small piece of aida and done a few test stitches. Seriously, it would have taken just minutes to save me a huge amount of time.

As it was, I started off stitching it too small at what turned out to be over one -- and I got a lot of the stitching done, but as you can see, the really neat pattern which is supposed to be created by Debbie's design just doesn't really show up very well (and that's what finally made me decide I must be stitching it too small and needed to start over). I think it would have been fine if I'd been using just one thread, but since I thought I was stitching over two, I was using two threads. I haven't decided if the first attempt is going to get frogged or trashed -- these stitches are in there pretty tightly, so ripping them out won't be easy ... but I do hate to throw away a good piece of fabric.

After a second start, I got the count right, though I still had a bit of difficulty with each new section. Grab a piece of aida for this one, I tell you (not to stitch the piece -- unless you want to use aida, of course -- but just to test drive these stitches ... don't be stubborn like me!)! Maybe five or so hours later, I was done.

This piece is really attractive in person, and I think I will probably end up making more for the other men in my life. I find men are really difficult to find the right patterns to stitch for but this pattern is perfect (especially with the opportunity to change colors) ... but I'm just not ready right now.

You see, I made this for my father-in-law, Dad, for his retirement on August 31, 2007. When he died, I was working on finishing it off into what could be used either as a bookmark or hung up as a small bellpull (those are four-sided stitches all around; I planned to use CA Wells' joining technique to attach a second piece of lugana the same size as the back). Dad did get to see it because I took it to the hospital to show him; I can't remember if that was a day by which I pretty much knew he was going to be leaving this world, but I do remember feeling a need to take this to show him -- it was finished except for what I wanted to do with the back and stuff. Only when my DH and I got to the hospital, my DH's sister, who had been visiting her dad all day, wouldn't come out, so that meant I couldn't go in because the number of visitors Dad could have at one time was limited. So I gave this to my DH to show to his dad. I actually never got to see him alive again.

After Dad died, I wasn't sure at first what to do with it. I knew there were several people I could give it to who might like it, including my DH, but that just didn't feel right. I wanted to make DH his own ... not give him the one he knew would have been his father's. Giving this to anyone else just didn't feel right; I made this for Dad, and in the five years of my marriage, it's the only thing I'd ever stitched for him. I wanted him to have it.

So at the visitation, I asked my mother-in-law if I could put it in with him, and she took it from me and put it on the pillow next to him. I would have put it somewhere a little less prominent, but I'm glad it's with him. Well, I know it's not really him, but you know what I mean.

Still, it's not in a happy dancing place ... even though I know Dad is.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Something Different Again

Time for another week of unconscious mutterings (week 243) ... Now that this is becoming a habit rather than something different, I need to think of a different post title ... Suggestions are welcome.

  1. Crook :: George W.

  1. Career :: Pressure

  1. Freckles :: Shoulders

  1. Scramble :: Eggs

  1. Mistake :: Opportunity

  1. Telephone :: Communication

  1. Thank you :: Dr. Lynne Johannessen

  1. Obstruction :: Dad

  1. 24/7 :: Exhausted

  1. SciFi :: Really LOOOOOOOOONG books written by authors who badly needed editors to restrict them to a certain number of pages, and to instruct them to name their characters something pronounceable