Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pay Attention . . .

No Internet since Wednesday - finally back on today after two phone calls to AT&T and a service call this morning.  Wow - a LOT of my life is tied up in electronic stuff . . .

The budget update is that I have gone over budget on groceries for a number of reasons that will be explained shortly in a Field Report, below, but include circumstances and choices.

It's been a rough week - as noted a few posts ago, it's been a rough 10 months.

I found out something on Thursday that explains SO MUCH of what's been going on with me.

My asthma story is here, if you'd like to read about it.  I don't post about asthma all that often - in fact, this is only the second post here with an "asthma" tag.  That's pretty much because I learned to manage it.  I manage it really well.  I didn't always, though,  until one day about 10 years ago, after yet another asthma crisis, my asthma doctor had a Come-to-Jesus meeting with me.  It went something like this:
Him:  A, if you had a chronic condition like high blood pressure, would you take your meds to manage it?

Me:  Well of course I would!  They don't call it the Silent Killer for nothing - my mom had it.  If you have high blood pressure, you have to take your meds to get it under control.  (Seriously - that just came right out of my mouth . . . )

Him:  A, asthma is a chronic condition like high blood pressure.  It's not going to go away.  You  have to learn to manage it.

Me:  Um . . .  (wait for it . . . )

Him:  Look, I can't force you to take your meds, and I can't force you to come in here every six months.  All I can tell you, is that if you will do these things you are going to be a lot happier and you're going to feel a lot better.

It was a lightbulb moment for me.  From that point on. I have been pretty much compliant with my meds and I checked in every six months.

Except this year, I didn't.  I last saw him in August of last year, when, because I had managed my asthma so well, I got to drop down to HALF the lowest dose of my maintenance med.  I neglected to go in February.

It all comes back to these past 10 months . . .

Here's how my Thursday went.  I was absolutely exhausted and canceled my workout which had already been postponed from Tuesday when I was still down for the count with no energy at all.  Then, I spoke to one of my friends who is a retired ICU nurse because I needed to cancel on a ball game that we had had on the calendar for months - I just didn't feel well enough to go.  She pointed out to me that this was the third time in 10 months that I have been down for the count like this and that it wasn't normal. 

I was able to get in to see my asthma doctor shortly after lunch on Thursday. 

The long story short is that, apparently, my asthma has not been well controlled for quite some time.  At least seven months, quite possibly longer - and I didn't put it together because there were other circumstances surrounding the first two times this happened and the breathing issues didn't present like what I normally experienced in the past with an asthma issue.  December was a month after the accident, June was a month after the construction (and all that massive dust) was over, and this time just seemed like a bounceback from June's episode.

All of these things happened after my maintenance meds were stepped down last August and it never occurred to me that it could be asthma-related.   I'm clearly not good at seeing patterns like this in my own life - but the doc saw it immediately.

Interestingly enough, another clue that I didn't know to look out for was blood pressure.  I took my BP at the grocery store back in June and it was 145/84 - I thought it was an anomaly because my BP is usually 110/70 or less.  It was taken a few weeks ago when I visited the sleep dentist, and it was 95/65 - a little low, even for me, but I figured that was OK.  Better low than too high.

They took my BP Thursday in the doc's office and it was 145/80 so they took it again and it was 135/80.  This is very high for me and not normal - and also directly attributable to my asthma not being under control. I never knew that and frankly even if I had known it, I don't think I could have put it all together and figured this out on my own.  Even so, I feel stupid that I didn't realize what was going on back in December. If I had paid attention to my body then, I probably could have avoided a lot of heartache.  I contacted my primary care doctor the first two times - this time I went right to my asthma doctor because it was also time for my annual check in.

Now what?

Well, the good news is that I now know what's going on and have drugs to treat it and a clear and quick path to get my asthma back under control.  Unfortunately, that path requires some short-term drugs that are not ideal . . . another z-pac (third one in seven months :-S), and everyone's favorite, The Prednisone Bomb!! Yeah, no, not so much.  I call it the P-Bomb because it's 8 pills, all at once, every morning for six days.  No, I'm not kidding.  It hits your system like a frickin' bomb.  My maintenance med has been doubled, and that, plus the P-Bomb should have me going pretty well again in pretty short order.

I hate hate HATE the P-Bomb more than you can possibly know, but it works quickly, which means that I am already feeling a lot better in just three days.  I'm crabby though - that's the main side effect of prednisone for me - it alters my mood, but all friends and family have been warned to give me wide berth for a few more days.  ;-)

Here is something my doctor said:  With asthma, you can step up your meds, and you can step down your meds, but you can never step off your meds.   So, I'm stepped back up and we'll see how it goes.  I have to go back in three months - and you can bet that I will.

Like I said, this diagnosis explains SO much for me in the past months:
  • My exhaustion at National this year - I race around convention every year - this year, I just could not and I was tired all the time.
  • My wanting to continue piping throughout construction but my inability to do so.  In addition to not getting enough practice in (exhaustion), every time I thought to pick my pipes up in the past months, the thought of playing them was . . . well, I just didn't think I had enough energy.
  • One of my friends said she had noticed how out of breath I was during phone calls, but hadn't said anything.  
  • My workouts have been more and more lackluster.  I just haven't been able to do all that much.
  • I, myself, noticed being out of breath after just one flight of stairs in my home and at my work.  This just isn't normal, but since I attribute pretty much anything that could be wrong with me to the fact that I am too large, I didn't pay attention . . . 
  • Walking to work with a friend one morning and having difficulty keeping up a conversation and walking at the same time.
  • Being out of breath just in general conversation.
  • The massive coughing as part of each illness episode.  Because I thought I had just a cold, it didn't register as anything else, even when my primary care doctor said to use my rescue inhaler to help stop the coughing.  Coughing is my first symptom of anything wrong in my breathing - this was a waving red flag with a blaring horn - and I was oblivious.
I'm going to be paying attention.  And a number of my friends are also going to be speaking up going forward if they notice things I miss.  :-)

Budget Field Report:  I was over grocery budget because I spent money on prescriptions, but also because I made some poor choices and my planning slacked off near the end of the month.  All in all, however, I think I did pretty well for this first month.  And then today my electric bill came, and my monthly budget billing amount went up $15/month with no notice and no explanation.  Crud.  I'm calling them on Monday.  It's bothersome.

And to end on a higher note, I finished the Canyon Cowl for my cousin's toddler.  It was a quick knit - and although the skeins were all the same dye lot, my new bionic eyes noticed a minor discrepancy between them - but not until I was taking photos of the finished object - It could just be that weaving in ends on super bulky yarn is noticeable no matter how you slice it.  In any case, it's already on its way to Oregon.  I don't have a toddler handy to check size or to model, I hope it fits her.

And finally, this completely unexpected surprise gift came in the mail today, and it really lifted my spirits.  I have lusted after these limited edition Blue Flower Chiagoo needles forever.  Every time I have seen them I have wanted them, but they seemed like something I shouldn't spend money on.

Today.  In the mail.  From my friend, C.  Hot Dog!!!

I'm all happy now  :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

And Another One's Gone . . .

I've been home for two days now, nursing what appears to be a garden variety cold.  I thought it was allergies, but I have been wiped out now since Saturday, shortly after I finished recording the 100th episode of my podcast, All About African Violets.

I would just like to say that daytime television is really really horrible.  I have been reduced to watching a tattoo show because Dave Navarro is hot.  I mean, really?!

On the happy side, I finished the #6 project of plain vanilla socks  :-)

The next two in the pipeline are the Elementary Watson Socks and Holidazed.  I decided to finish them both.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Another One Done!

I had one massive sneeze coming out of the Post Office yesterday and my head has been a running faucet ever since.  I don't think it's a cold.  I think it's allergies.  I made sure to pick up some Allegra yesterday, but I'm headed back to Walgreens as soon as the pharmacy opens this morning for some sudafed to get my head cleared out quickly and hopefully avoid a sinus infection.

After last week's flurry of activity, it's been a little more quiet around here this past week  :-)  I did just finish the Wild Goose Shawlette, a pattern written by my friend, Paula, The Prairie Piper and host of the enormously popular  podcast, The Knitting Pipeline.  I love Paula's patterns, and  I have finally figured out that I need to generally go up in yarn weight and/or needle size on them.  You would think I would have figured this out sooner - Paula is a very petite person - I look like a fricking Amazon next to her:  :-D

For the Wild Goose Shawlette, I stuck with fingering weight yarn, but I had to go up to a size SEVEN needle to get gauge, proving, once again, that I'm a sorta tight knitter  :-D  Going up to that size needle meant that I ran out of yarn.  I was about three rows short - I ended after the last eyelet row.  It didn't hurt anything.  I like the pattern very much - I love all of Paula's patterns  :-)

This first photo is of the yarn in the cake.  You can see the yarn is predominantly red.  

Here is it blocking, and it looks very different, color-wise.  I figured it was because it was wet:

And here it is, dry and blocked:

It's definitely not the same red it was in the cake.  It's still pretty, but it's definitely more of a rusty red/brown.  Still, it's nice and it's quite possible that I will keep this one rather than gifting it.  We'll see  :-)

I'm still working on the plain vanilla socks - I'm on the second heel flap.  The completion of this shawlette now puts me at 11 WIPs.  It's still a double-digit number, but it's beginning to feel a lot more manageable. 

In other news of the week, the budget is going great.  I'm doing very well so far with my grocery budget and I'm quite pleased about that!  Making a lasagna and some spinach burritos that first weekend was a very good plan.  I just ran out of them this week.  Today I plan to make a meatloaf - my mom's recipe - and I'm going to cook it in the muffin tin so I have little mini meatloaves for the freezer.  Salmon cakes are on the docket, too, so that there will be two choices in the freezer.

I could still be planning a little better - had one lunch out this past week, and a couple of snacks from the deli downstairs, but, for the most part, I'm forging a new lunch path  :-D

Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Oasis of Calm . . .

A very excellent day today.  It's hot here in Chicagoland and I decided to stay indoors. And after my whirlwind of a day yesterday, my Fitbit has registered only 1,500 steps for today.  I paid attention and listened to my body when it said I should probably take it easier today  :-)  Yay Me! The kitchen counter is still not quite done, but I watched the first two episodes of The Roosevelts, which I missed the first time around, which means that some knitting got done.  Oh - and another item is blocking now.

Hard to believe, but I have TWO finished objects!!!  Stole #2, and Cowl #4

Cowl #4 is actually straight - I think it got it on the counter a little wonky.

Since those dried overnight, I decided to go ahead and block Rock the Kasbah.  It's not perfect.  I was going to use blocking wires to make it really straight - and then I remembered how much I really don't like to use blocking wires.  Tammy gave me an idea to use thread to pull it into shape, but after all was said and done, I decided to just shape it as best I could with my hands.  Moderate wonkiness won't be visible once it's on a set of shoulders  :-) 

Geez, it's wide . . . that's a beach towel, a bath towel and two hand towels, with an additional bath towel for the point.

Although they are not completed, I am on the second of the #6 Socks.  I also got some more done on the Wild Goose Shawlette, and although I did fall asleep in the chair at one point, I only nodded off for about 20 minutes early in the day, which means I will still sleep well tonight.

So, another productive day in a completely different area.  :-)  I really can't remember the last time I was able to post finished objects here.  This feels good and I'm really happy about them.  I have one more object to block and then the blocking party will be complete.  Then it's pretty much just all knitting all the time until I have caught back up.

Dinner is in the oven, and I'm heading back out to my chair to enjoy the serenity of my uncluttered sunroom.  Cannot even tell you how excellent that is.    :-)

Saturday, August 15, 2015


I'm calling it a day.  I made substantial progress on things that yesterday seemed insurmountable.  I'm feeling pretty great about it  :-)  Here is how the sunroom looked when I started this morning - I pasted these together, to make a sort of panoramic view so it's not ideal, but I think you get the picture  :-)  I also think you're going to have to click to biggify.

Here is how it looks now:

Here is a before/after view from the opposite direction:

And here is a before/after of the living room:

And from the dining room:

Still things left to do in the living room, but it's way bertter than it was, and it's not freaking me out any longer.

That's it!  Time for me to work on my podcast and then see about some knitting time  :-)

4 o'clock

Let's see . . .

I went to CVS to use the cash station aka the ATM.

I went to the lamp store to drop off the broken lamp for repair.

I went to the Second Chance Shop and dropped off one bag of stuff

I went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and dropped off the wet bar sink and fixtures, and the shower head that didn't work in my shower.

Then I went to Culvers and spent some of my grocery money on lunch and a carmel cashew sundae.  Yum!

I came home and watched the winners being announced at the Worlds.

I drove over to my cousin's and dropped off the old telly and crappy house phones, and on the way back, I stopped at Walgreens and bought TP because it was on sale there for less than at the Jewel - yes, I read the ads this week.  :-)

The stole, #2; and the cowl, #4, are blocking on the guestroom floor.

I had to brighten that up quite a bit and it still came out kinda dark.  Sorry.

Here are some close ups so you can see the yarns  The cowl is the Upstairs Downstairs Cowl - the shortest one, in Madtosh sportweight in the Lichen colorway, and the stole is HPKY - it's an amalgam of about three or four yarns together.  It's more turquoise than it shows in the photo, but it's wet at the moment and I think that makes it look darker and more brown than it is..

The sock, #7, went to its great reward the the left over yarn is in the leftover bin.

The sunroom is almost done and I can see bits and pieces of the kitchen counter.

Oh - and I glued the foot back on one of my largest baskets, and I hung up this way cool picture collage that my mother put together years ago.  It looks funny in this photo - but it looks great on the wall.  I found this in the in basement in January during the great construction cleanup  :-)

Here is a closer look.  Top, L-R, my grandmother when she was a girl.  My grandparents, my grandparents again -  I think this was their wedding photo.  Bottom, L-R, I believe this is my grent grandfather (my grandmother's father), next is my uncle when he was little - I'm guessing he was about two here, so this was most likely taken in Belfast (these were all taken in Belfast), the last one is my grandmother again.  I'm really happy to have this on the wall where I will see it every day when I come home.

Whew!  Time for some water and a break!  It's about to storm -the lightning just started, and here comes the thunder. 

Not sure I'll check in again tonight - I'll see how it goes.  I'm thinking a movie and some popcorn sound really, really good  :-D

It's been a productive day - probably the most productive day I have had in months.  Feels really, really good  :-)


Last load of clothes is in the dryer.

I've re-hung the hall mirror, and finished in the guest room.

The ORKIN guy has been here.

I also got more done in the sunroom, and took a sitting break to watch and listen to the World Pipe Band Championships, streaming live on BBC.  They show the Grade 1 bands - the best in the world  :-)  That was pretty awesome.  I saw someone I know on camera, and I am reminded that I miss my pipes . . .

While doing that, I went through half the stack of crap from the kitchen - mainly magazines.  I pulled what recipes sounded interesting and have a nice little stack for the recycling bin  :-)

Here's a look at the guest room.  It wasn't all that bad in the grand scheme of things, but I'm much happier with it now  :-)

I loaded one of the broken lamps into the car along with the most recent bag for the Second Chance Shop.  It's weird to be going there with only one bag  :-D

I'll check in again later . . .