Speechless


Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and a great day if you don't.

Here's the last 2 months of my life, in summary:


Done

Finished my parents blanket.

Pattern: Afghan Squared by Lion Brand
Modifications:
K hook
Red Heart Super Saver
Pattern Repeat of 7 rounds each of the two pinks, and then one green and one white round.

I personally don't care for the colors or the pattern but my parents will love it (I hope).

Also made mom four dishcloths. The kitchen and living room are both decorated entirely in pink, white and green.

I've crocheted non-stop since the wedding (since about September) and now that I have no more gifts to make, I have no idea what to do with myself. I'm tired!

Okay okay...

The CT scan was fine, really. I guess I get really psyched up for things and worry myself sick about them, only to come to find that they're no big deal afterall. I wasn't worried about the scan itself, but that damn barium I had to drink.

But I managed to drank those first 2 bottles in 7 minutes flat. I felt like I should have had a beer bong and been listening to Dave Matthews Band with all my frat-guy friends. I chugged the hell out of it! Seriously, my college friends would have been so proud of me. It was only bothersome at the very end of the second bottle when it wanted to come back up a bit, probably due to the sheer volume of what I had just put into my stomach. But all in all the taste wasn't miserable, and more than anything it was just a lot of liquid to ingest so quickly. Texture was a little unnerving, but really, no big deal at all.

So I got there and chugged some more and had the dye injection. The scan was fine. They didn't tell me anything. I should find out Friday or Monday. I wasn't a fan of the dye, it had a bit of a reaction on me where I just felt flushed and woozy for about 10 minutes. By the time I had gotten dressed it was gone though, and ultimately no big deal. Honestly the only unpleasant part of the whole thing was the fact that it took her like 5 needle sticks to find a vein, and once again my arms look like I'm an IV drug user. I'm very bruised. I don't mind needles, but lately no one is able to find a vein and I end up all bruised and sore from their repeated attempts. I assume it's because all of these tests have meant at least a 12 hour fast prior, and I end up being dehydrated with veins that want to keep collapsing. Ordinarily they never have problems with me.

I also cancelled the colonoscopy. Though I kind of chickened out and said I'd reschedule which is a lie. I plan to have a second opinion. If the second opinion thinks it's warranted or if the CT Scan shows anything, I'll do it immediately. Otherwise, I'm going to have to wait until February or March when I can afford to shell out more dough for the insurance deductible. I just don't have it right now, considering the CT Scan cost me $480. And who knows, maybe when I see a new GI they'll agree with the first doctor (who I liked) and they'll think the colonoscopy will not be necessary. If it is, I'll do it, but otherwise I have better things to spend $500 on.

Anyhow, I went to work after the CT scan thinking I'd be fine, but the barium ended up having a bad effect on me, so I left after about 90 minutes. I felt full and and uncomfortable, which I expected since I drank so much thick liquid. Unfortunately, it upset my stomach quite a bit, and I just needed to go home and take some Pepto and relax. The barium did not stay in me, put it that way. After some over the counter meds I was fine, just felt a bit full and not all that hungry. Imagine having a stomach full of a liquid heavy metal. That's pretty much how it felt. Like a big ball in my stomach. Not painful or crampy, just oddly stuffed beyond capacity.

So we're in the midst of another storm today. This is, I believe, the 5th or 6th storm we've had that has dumped over 6 inches of snow since the beginning of December. It's non-stop. We got 6 overnight and are due for 6 more during the day. It's insane. It's so pretty outside (until you're cleaning off your car and driving in it). My boss is great, lets me stay home when the roads are crap, which they are today. However, I've missed so much work for appointments and tests and procedures that I have been coming in regardless during storms, even though I know he'd be fine to let me have a snow day. The 4 wheel drive is great and my confidence driving in bad weather is increasing. I used to drive a Hyundai and that didn't go anywhere in the snow. It was awful. I couldn't make it up hills because the car was far too light, and it would just slide all over the road. The Jeep is fantastic though so I have no problems getting to and from places. But, since I'm still not a huge fan of driving around in the bad weather, I always make a point to only be here during daylight. I usually work 10 to 8 today, but I'm doing 7 to 2:30 or so. It will take a solid hour to drive home with all the traffic and bad road conditions. Took me 45 minutes to get here which is fantastic all things considered. I can't even describe how nice it is to have 4 wheel drive in a snow storm. I'm not one of those cocky SUV or truck drivers that thinks you can do 50 in a storm just because you have 4 wheel drive. It does help you to go and not slip on the nasty roads, but it won't help you to stop. I don't understand why it's so terrible to drive 30 miles per hour on a windy, curvy, hilly road that has 3 inches of snow on it, but it must be terrible because all the other SUVs pass me. I just take it slow with all the 2 wheel drive cars out there, and I do just fine.

On the crochet front I'm still not done with the granny square blanket. It looks great though. And I'm close to being completed. I did find a mistake in it that I had made, about 20 rows back, and I almost died. I don't think anyone will ever notice, but it's irking the shit out of me. I want to frog it, but if I do it won't be done in time for Christmas. Instead of 3 dc in a chain one space I somehow only did 1 in this one spot, and I can't believe it. I must have been distracted. It's really making me crazy, but I don't have the time to fix it. Argh. I hate that. I'm going to try to get creative with some yarn and a needle in that spot and see if I can give the illusion of 2 extra stitches there, because I just can't handle it. It's so unnoticeable though that once I knew it was there it took me about 5 minutes to find it again, so it's not obvious to anyone but me. But fellow knitters and crocheters will understand how irritating it is.

I have 5 more rows of the light pink, one row each of white and green, and then a sc border around it in the dark pink. After that, just weave in the ends. I manage 2 rows a day after work, so I'm getting there. Now that it's so huge, it takes forever to crochet around all 4 sides. I'm using a K hook which is pretty large (but what the pattern called for), but it's just not going all that quickly. Oh well, it will be done with by Sunday no matter what. I can't wait to show pictures. I'm rather proud of it. Not my style and I don't really like the colors, but Mom will love it and that's all that matters.

I've been using a lot of Red Heart Super Saver for the blankets. I washed the one for my niece and it was very soft afterward, and I was suprised at how nice it felt. However, I used RH Soft for Mark's parents blanket, and it was much more pleasant feeling. I think once I'm done with all of these I will not buy RH SS anymore. The RH Soft is much nicer and makes a great ghan. I have a bunch leftover from years ago that I'm going to make into a scrap ghan, and then after that I think I'll wash my hands of it. I'll still use acrylic or an acrylic blend yarn for any blankets, because seriously, it's just not right to have a blanket you can't throw in the washer and dryer. In my opinion at any rate. But I plan to use a softer acrylic in the future.

T-Minus 90 Minutes

Well, 90 minutes to go before I have to chug 2 bottles of Barium for a CT Scan. Between 8:30 and 9 I have to chug 2 bottles of Barium (hooray!) and then drive 30 minutes to the imaging center. Once there I chug another bottle (wow, it's my lucky day!) and then I'll have the scan. I'm hoping and praying something shows up. I'm so tired of negative test results. I know my body, and I know something is amiss. I'm starting to feel discouraged that I have some sort of "non-ulcer dyspepsia," which is a generic diagnosis of upper abdominal pain with no real treatment other than avoiding the foods and situations that bother you. It's not that I want to be sick, but I'd like to have a concrete diagnosis and concrete treatment plan.

I have to say though, once I started to really be diligent about my diet, I've found that low fat foods really make a world of difference. I do have an indigestion-y sort of feeling sometimes, but it seems to be related to eating. I haven't had any sharp pains since I've cut out fatty foods. In fact, I notice that when I cheat, like last night when I had a bite of a candy bar because of a chocolate craving, I have some upper abdominal pains. When I don't eat fats, I don't have those pains. So, I'm still inclined to believe the first doctor that my gallbladder is starting to show signs of gallbladder disease absent any stones. But, if there are no stones or sludge, the only test that will show that is a HIDA scan, which I have already had and which was inconclusive. If that's what this is, then nope, the CT Scan won't show anything most likely. Bah.

Oh, I'm cancelling the colonoscopy I think. Er, not cancelling but rather postponing it. I have a $500 insurance deductible for tests and procedures and such, which I will be paying today for the CT Scan. I simply cannot afford to pay an additional $500 in January when the new year and new deductible starts again. So, after the CT Scan I'm going to have to call the doctor's office and explain to them that until I get my tax return, I likely won't be able to afford it. I've ben told 2 things that lead me to believe this is okay: First doctor said since my symptoms are up very high in my stomach, a colonscopy wasn't necessary because I don't have any lower stomach symptoms. And then the 2nd doctor said he didn't think the test would reveal any problems either. So, I feel okay about waiting for 2 months or so. He may be annoyed, but oh well. What can you do? I don't have that kind of money laying around. As it is, my Christmas Bonus will be paying for today's festivities.

Have a great day everyone.

Resisting the urge...

...to feel paranoid.

I'm really trying hard to keep a level head today, and not start having these conspiracy theories about the asshole doctor I saw yesterday. I'm trying to just calm down, but I've got to tell you, it's difficult.

I know the colonoscopy will be a piece of cake. I know it will be, because I'll be asleep just like I was for the endoscopy. What will suck is the prep the day before. I don't need to go into details--y'all know it's gonna suck. You just have to suck it up and deal, and that's the best you can do.

But...

I can't help but feel a bit paranoid about having it to begin with. I was seeing a great woman in this very doctor's office, and she told me that they would be doing upper GI tests, because I have no indication of any lower abdominal issues. This was reiterated to me in the ER. And even yesterday, when the asshole doctor told me he thought what I needed were some antidepressants and some good self-reflection, immediately followed by his ever so professional statement that he was certain no more tests were needed because they wouldn't show any problems...he orders a colonoscopy. I have to keep telling myself that getting this test is a good idea anyway--better safe than sorry--blah, blah, blah. But that paranoid part of me wonders if he's just trying to punish me. This belief is somewhat compounded by the prep he's given me. I'm very research oriented. So naturally I looked up colonoscopy online. I didn't really learn anything new, basically that the prep sucks but the test is no biggie because you're under anesthesia. What I found interesting though was that I can't find anything (from bloggers and personal experience type sites) on the prep I have to do. Most preps involve drinking quite a bit of liquid. It's just unpleasant. But I have to drink 64 ounces of Gatorade mixed with 225 mg of some medicine I can't recall the name of (Glycolax? Something like that) THREE times. Once at 10 am the day before, then at 6 pm, then I have to get up at 3 am and do it again. Doesn't that seem a bit much? All the stories I've read involve a lot less liquid than that. And to put it into perspective for you, that's nine 20-ounce soda bottles. I know I'm being paranoid, but I kind of feel like he's punishing me. There are so many easier preps out there, that it seems suspicious I'd have this one. Especially since my father used this same GI to have his colonoscopy when he turned 60, and he didn't have nearly that amount of crap to drink. I'm a little 105 pound girl. I don't get why I need extra cleaning out.

So, I need to stop this nonsense. Suck it up and just say yep, I have a doctor I don't like, and move on. I'll get the tests while looking for someone else. I didn't need an antidepressant before I saw him, but if I keep dwelling I might. Well, not an antidepressant actually. More like an anti-rage pill.

I was never dying to get a surgical referral and gallbladder surgery if there was a chance that my gallbladder wasn't to blame for the discomfort I'm having. I don't want to have an unnecessary procedure by any means, and I don't have my heart set on having a particular issue. But the doctor led me to believe that my problem was probably gallbladder, and if the HIDA scan were repeated in a few months I'd fail for sure. Of course I was naturally pleased that a doctor thought she found the cause of my problem, and found a solution. Of course that would make anyone happy! But to be told one week that I'm going to need surgery, and then be told the following week that it's in my head? I feel pretty let down. By both of them. Because now, I'm not so sure I believe the first doctor. Was she too hasty? She was certainly sweet and caring, but I can't help but second guess her. And the second doctor--well, let's just not go there. I know my head and I know my body. When I'm stressed, overwhelmed, etc. I catch every cold within a 10 mile radius. I sleep all the time. I get worn out. I don't get stomach issues. I know my body, and I know this is not mental. I don't know how I know--I just do.

The doctor thinks this is all in my head...

I'm furious.

I went in today and despite the fact that his partner, who is now on maternity leave, believes my gallbladder is failing because I have fairly consistent gallbladder issues, the doctor told me:

"April, I think what you need are antidepressants."

Doesn't matter that the pain comes on after I eat fat and fat only. Doesn't matter that I can tolerate non-fatty foods pretty well. Doesn't matter that my life is going well and I have no anxiety or depression. He told me I need to "seriously evaluate my life, and surely you'll agree with me that the problem is mental."

His own associate told me last week that I would likely get a surgical referral today despite my HIDA results being borderline normal.

Instead, I was told it's in my head. I'm livid. So incredibly livid.

Yet, even though it's just in my head, he's going to do a CT scan this week and a colonoscopy on January 2nd. Sounds to me like a cover-your-ass tactic, given that this is, afterall, just in my head.

I don't even know what to say. It will take me probably 6 to 8 weeks to get a new GI appt. by the time I get the insurance referral and appointment set up. I'm going to go through with the 2 tests while starting the process of finding someone else. At the very least I'll have a complete medical work-up by the time I see a new doctor.

So, my PCP thought gallbladder and sent me to the GI. The GI I first saw (who is now on maternity leave) ordered the usual u/s, endoscopy, HIDA and bloodwork. Everything was normal, HIDA was borderline. She still believed gallbladder. The ER doctor who saw me, who also had her gallbladder removed, believed it was my gallbladder even though I don't have stones. She said it sounded just like what she had. Every person I know who has had gallbladder troubles tells me, "Hmmmm...it sounds like gallbladder to me."

Yet the jackhole GI who took over my case thinks I need to take an antidepressant.

I don't have any history of stomach issues and everyone, and I mean everyone, has said that I have no indication of IBS or any other lower abdominal issue. I have no symptoms of anything down there. Yet here we go with a colonoscopy, even though it's all in my head. I could scream right now. I am so, so angry.

I understand the CT scan, but the colonoscopy? I have pain in one spot. Right behind my lower right rib cage. Ain't gonna see that part of my abdomen during a colonoscopy.

Ho Ho Ho

I did a little wrapping tonight. I've never used plain paper before, usually it's all cutesie.

I made simple handmade tags for the packages.


I'm going to wrap each package with a thick black ribbon. I think they'll look elegant.

Christmas Gifts

Marley's not good at math, so she wasn't much help when it came to balancing my check book.


Anyhow, here's a wool scarf for Mark's younger brother.



Here's Sara's project bag, finally felted and with the little moon and star embellishments. If you read yesterday's post, she's the friend who is in love with stars.


These are for her husband. He loves little bags. The red-orange one is for a tobacco pipe he whittled this fall. The gray drawstring pouch has a fish on it since we always go fishing together. The teeny black one is for his antique glass eye. No joke. The hat is black, same yarn as the small pouch, but I didn't realize how terrible the exposure was until I uploaded it. He doesn't leave the house without a beanie.

Lastly, another Moda Dea scarf for Mark's aunt. She wears a lot of pink.


Jacob's Blanket


He's 7. He's all boy. I think he'll like it.

Oh, and...

Finished another ghan last night. I'm now down to my very last one and that should be it for Christmas. I still have many FO pics to post, but by the time I get home from work these days I'm pretty exhausted. Between feeling tired all the time (from low calories and fat I assume) and the antispasmodic gut medicine that makes me so loopy and sleepy, I have managed to neglect taking pics of my stuff.

The ghan I finished was for my 7 year old nephew who likes GI Joe. It's camoflauge. Hideously ugly, but hey, I'm not into camo so who cares what I think. He is 150% boy so I suspect he'll get a huge kick out of it. Well, as much as a 7 year old boy can appreciate a hand made blanket instead of toys at Christmas time. I suppose his enthusiasm for it will be relative, since it's not exciting and fun to play with, but again, that's ok by me.

So, as of now that's 4 ghans I've made since April of this year (Sara's, Erik and Teresa's, Mark's parents and Jacob's, which is shown only partially completed in that older picture), with one more in the works for my parents. After Christmas I have 2 more in mind to make. One will be the Babette Blanket from the Spring 2006 edition of Interweave Crochet, which I just backordered yesterday. The other will be for my 2 best friends. Their 5 year wedding anniversary is this March. Both of their birthdays are about 1 week before their anniversary. They're both obsessed with stars (as home decor, on her purse, on jewelry and buttons, and they both even have star tattoos). I think Beth's Little Star Afghan would make a perfect gift for them, don't you? I'm really not sure of the colors. I'd like it to be something funky without being obnoxious. Conversely, I do like the idea of it being a fantastic shade of yellow. I also like the idea of using wool and felting it so it's a nice rug. I can't decide, but that will be the pattern at any rate. Sara is in the midst of making her first ghan for Justin for Christmas and the colors are a taupe and red. I can't quite decide if I should be sure the 2 match each other or not. I don't think they necessarily need to if I make a blanket instead of a rug, because they wouldn't have both blankets in the same room. If I do a smaller version and felt it into a rug, they will definitely put it in the living room so it should match their other decor. Hm. It's a difficult choice for me because I'm really leaning toward making a huge yellow star blanket and I think it would be cute, but man that wouldn't really match anything of theirs. It will come to me eventually I guess.

2 pm on a Friday and I'm very much ready to go home. 2 more hours. The Bentyl makes me so tired and I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open. *yawn*

Sad Beyond Words

My sweet, sweet baby Lulu passed away on December 1, 2007. I cannot even believe how much my heart aches.

On Thursday 11/29 around 11 pm I noticed she was a bit lethargic. I wrapped her in a warm towel and held her most of the night against my chest. That morning she had been fine, as far as I could tell. She deteriorated so rapidly. Which I suppose is a good thing, given that it happened quickly and seemingly painlessly. I basically held her for another 25 hours on and off or so until she passed away just after midnight on Friday night (technically Sat. morning). The entire time she was unresponsive and did not react to any stiumli, etc. When I pet her she did not move. I believe she was in a coma. The cats stayed by her side the whole time. They wouldn't leave, they were very protective. I've never seen them like that. It was only after she passed away that they stopped hovering around Lulu and started hovering around me. It seemed as though they were at first comforting Lulu and then afterward comforting me. Maybe I'm reading too much into animal behavior, but they were acting so very different than they normally do.

We grappled with the decision to let her die at home vs. going to the vet. What ultimately allowed me to keep her at home without feeling guilt, was two specific things. First off, she was unresponsive in a coma and I do honestly believe she was not suffering. Secondly, Mark worked for the Humane Society for 10 years and he was the technician who did all the euthanasias. Small animals like that are given the injection in one of two ways. Typically it is through the stomach. Lulu had a mass in her stomach that appeared to just show up the day she died. I hadn't felt anything prior to that day on her, and I handled her daily. If they cannot put the injection in the stomach due to a mass, they inject it in the heart. Mark says this is not a comfortable procedure and he believes it is a cruel way to euthanize a small animal given that it is somewhat difficult. So, I let him use his judgment since he has done literally thousand of euthanasias over the years, and together we decided the best thing for her would be to keep her warm and love her until her time was up.

I never wanted a ferret. I won't ever get one again. But she was a birthday gift from an ex when I turned 22, and she became as much a part of the family as my two cats. She was born in December of 2000, which made her about 7 years old. Most ferrets live 3 to 5 years, so she was a very, very old girl.

The cats thought of her as one of them. Until this past year, she was free to roam the house as she pleased, because she was litter box trained, and she wasn't a naughty ferret who would eat things, chew wires, etc. Her only "naughty" quirk was an obsession with large, empty boxes. She'd grab a box 20 times her size with her teeth and drag it across a room in an attempt to find a place to hide it. It was the most hilarious thing to watch. She would always drag them and put them under the bed, or the kitchen table, or try to get them into a closet if the door was left open. To this day I'm not sure why she did it, but it was so cute and amusing to watch.

About a year ago her sight and hearing started to go. I kept her confined to the second bedroom that we use as an office/computer room/craft room/spare bedroom. She could only come out of her cage when someone was with her. She was still happy and seemed healthy and vibrant, and she learned to adapt to her failing eyesight by walking the perimeter of things--she'd find her way around the room by following the perimeter of the room, or the bed, or what have you. She was happy and excited despite her eyesight.

Anyway, I'm sad. I didn't post prior to today because everytime I thought about it I start to cry. I'm still very teary now as I write this. I'm not a fan of ferrets, but I can't tell you how much this little weasel meant to me. She was a pure love. If you picked her up, she would smother you with kisses. She was just unique and special, and I miss her so much.

Pay it Forward Gift

AntiChristy made me quite a lovely Pay it Forward gift. It's a Scarflet and I adore it. It's using Paton's new bamboo blend yarn. It's one of the softest yarns I've ever felt. Thanks, hon!



She does also have an Etsy store, and she has some cute stuff in there.

Shawl

Apparently I'm missing a handful of photos. I have a lovely felted tote bag and some more scarves ready to show off, but can't find the pics on Flickr. Must be on the camera still. So much has been going on lately and I'm a bit scatter-brained.

Here's a shawl for my niece. No pattern as usual.

HIDA Scan Results

Got the results back from the HIDA (gallbladder) scan. You're not going to believe this. The results are fricken normal.

Unbelievable.

So, the GI at least believes this is my gallbladder. I apparently have pretty classic gallbladder symptoms. Problem is, she said a surgeon likely wouldn't touch me with good test results. They're number oriented and if I pass the test they'll likely be dismissive of my case. How lovely.

Plan for now, continue with antispasmodics (I'm now trying Librax (Librex?) instead of Bentyl, though I think the Bentyl works better) to prevent digestive contractions and spams. I am supposed to take 2 pills 30 minutes prior to eating (3 x per day). If I take 2, I'm drooling. They knock me out, so I have to take 1, which the dr. does not like, she wants me on two. Sigh. Also, continue on 40 mg Protonix twice daily, even though I don't see why, it has made zero difference (same with Nexium). And most importantly, and I emphasize, eat no fat. Zero fat at all. I have another appointment on the 11th to see how things are going.

I'm able to tolerate maybe a gram of fat in a meal. Provided I take my antispasmodic first and give it adequate time to kick in. Otherwise, forget it. It hurts too much. I had a bite of Mark's quesadilla last night out of desperation. One bite, one tiny little bite, and it was very uncomfortable 25 minutes later.

Her thinking is that if we rule out everything, treat me with medicines, and she stil suspects gallbladder, she will be able to convince a surgeon that the liklihood is that it's my gb and let's just take the damn thing out.

I do want her to order a CT scan or something, because lately I'm also having upper left quadrant pain in addition to the normal upper middle pain and upper right pain. I have no other signs of pancreatitis though and all of my bloodwork has been fine. This could very well be referred pain, but my thinking is that one more stupid test to see how things look over there won't be a big deal.

My fear is that it isn't gallbladder, that they'll do surgery, and they won't find anything wrong. But my pain is pretty classic gb, and when I avoid all fats I feel a lot better. But still, the fear of having surgery and still having problems looms over me. So on one hand I'm glad she is not jumping to conclusions. She says he gut tells her its gb, but let's try meds and let's rule out everything else first. If it is my gb, I don't have stones, I probably am in the beginning stages of gb disease, and if they repeated the tests 6 months from now I would fail them miserably. If anyone wants to do surgery if I am still passing the tests I'll get a second opinion. But truth be told, I want a rapid resolution to this because it really sucks ass. I'm losing weight like crazy. Granted I feel better on a fat free diet than I felt before, but still. It's not healthy to have zero fats in your diet for any extended period of time. I still have bad days, and I still leave work early sometimes, and overall I just feel somewhat sickly. And I'm frustrated. I'm tired of fat free foods. Really, really tired of them. I want some meat. Like a nice juicy steak. Holy hell. That would be the best thing in the world.

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