Sunday, August 24, 2014

Festivals and Fairs and Friends . . .

In the Midwest, August appears to be Fiber Month  :-D

This year, due to havng its date yanked, the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair was the first weekend in August instead of the last weekend in June as it has traditionally been.  That meant that Midwest, Stitches, and the Michigan Fiber Festival happened one after the other in quick succession.

I had plans only to go to Michigan, but ended up hitting all three markets!  (Are you really surprised? :-D)

First was Midwest - it was noticeably smaller this year, and I believe this was very much about the date change.  I am a charter member of The Flock for this event - I think it's really important to support local events of this sort, and it's really the only game in town for the Chicagoland area - as far as I know, there is no other event like this one in this area.  I ended up running up there on Sunday.  I'd never been to the Fair on Sunday before and I loved it!  No crowds, a very relaxed vibe, and I won a door prize!  Plus, I got to spend the morning with my friend, M, and that was great as we hadn't had the chance to catch up in some time.

Here's the haul  :-)  I won the kit in the pink bag.  It's from The Knitting Goddess!  It's a scarf kit and I like it!  The yarn is Classic Elite's Posh, which has been discontinued.  It's 70/30 Silk/Cashmere, and Toni from The Fold had it on sale for half price.  I have no guilt for purchasing it at that price!  The book is Annie Modesitt's new one, and I got a free fingerless mitts pattern with it!

The next weekend was Stitches - again, no plan to go, but I had the opportunity to run up on Sunday and catch up with two of my friends, KniftyRed and Knitterary, who has a new blog called My Empty Wardrobe.  Knitterary has shrunk so much that I didn't recognize her, and KniftyRed is also look very healthy!  Wow - I should be able to get some inspiration back from these two!  Here is the haul from Stitches:

The yarn is Neighborhood Fiber Co., one of my favorites that is now available here in Chicagoland from Windy Knitty!  They are located up in Andersonville - I need to get up there and check out the shop!!  There are buttons for a Baby Surprise Jacket, and a small nostepinne, two spools of trim from the notions lady (she sold her business and is moving to Mexico), some silk top from a new place called Swan Hollow Studio.  They don't have a website up yet, but this silk was pretty amazing and I was thinking to blend it with some merino top to make an Aran weight yarn for the inside of a collar on a sweater jacket I want to knit out of an itchy longwool.  And I bought patterns.  The Rhinebeck Sweater book, which I have been looking for for awhile, a MaggiKnits book (#2) - I like a lot of her wild stuff, and a Raumagarn garter stitch, lightly felted hoodie.

Are you guys proud of me yet?  ;-)

Last but certainly not least - in fact, Michigan Fiber Festival is really my favorite event - I love it and I haven't gone for a couple of years.  I convinced Tammy, of Proverbial Knitter fame, Christa, and a bunch of other friends (six of us in all!) to come for the weekend and we blasted up to Allegan to enjoy the Festival!  For various reasons some old favorites were not there this year (Miss Babs, The Fold and Gale's Art), but some new ones were, and I got to say hello to some folks I only see once a year  :-)  Tammy and Christa  both entered the skein competition and both did very well!  Tammy took two seconds and a third, and Christa took a first!!  Wow!!  And of course, we shopped  :-)  Here's the haul from Michigan:

Well, I FOUND some Aran weight silk and it's a perfect seafoam green for me AND it was 20 or 30% off, so that will be the inside of the sweater collar!  Yay!  You should be able to click to biggify this photo - in the center is an absolutely stunning ceramic button made by Jarita Thompson from A Mystical Farm.  She has an Etsy shop, but she's currently on hiatus there.  Her stuff was really amazing and very unique.  I hope she will be back at Michigan next year because I really liked a lot of her larger pieces, too.  I picked up the first two issues of the new Chicago Knits magazine for less than cover price (they are a new quarterly - I like to support local merchants), a Kate Wright pattern called Greta Cardigan, a little soap/sachet kit from the Raumagarn booth (the last one they had!), and a wooden yarn bowl from Indian Lake Artisans.  I really love it - it looks like a corral and I just see it being used for a lot more than just yarn.  It was the largest purchase of the day for me.  The guy had me try their hexagonal needles, but they were way too pointy for this knitter.  He did offer to sand them down for me, but I don't need any needles right now.  Oh - I also got a jar of raspberry cream honey (which is not pictured).

So.  Three major fiber events, and I came home with a total of 10 skeins of yarn.  Really, I think you should be having a big brass band in my honor!  :-D   I have been doing well in the not buying a ton of stuff that I end up selling later for not as much as I paid for it. . . I've followed through pretty well knitting from stash this year and not buying a lot of yarn.  So, Yay Me!!  :-D

Now we are heading toward fall - we've had a couple of very cool days here, even as this week has been warmer than most all summer so far!  It will be Labor Day soon - and I know I say this every year, but that school year calendar still sticks with me.  Labor Day always feels like the New Year for me.  I got a lot of patterns in August - I'm hoping to start pounding through all the sweater quantities of yarn that I have stashed away.  Wish me luck . . .  :-)

Friday, August 22, 2014

It's Getting Better . . .

Where was I?

Oh yeah, eyeballs popping from the pain . . .  I went back to the special sleep dentist on Wednesday, August 6th.

The first thing she did was to apologize that I had been told to keep wearing the appliance when I first rang on August 1st.  Unfortunately for me and my body's propensity toward inflammation, wearing the appliance in the - for me - extreme position it was in caused all the jaw muscles to become inflamed.  It was really the No-Fun Plan.  My lower jaw was not readily moving back into place in the morning, my head was killing me, my ear hurt, and my eyeballs felt like they were going to explode.

That "extreme position," was apparently not extreme to anyone except me (Delicate Flower that I am . . . ).  The sleep dentist took some more measurements.  Another impression was taken.  She also checked all over my head and neck and even inside my mouth for sore muscles.  I was surprised to realize that I was in pain even inside my mouth -  I mean I don't generally poke my fingers around inside my mouth, so I never would have known that even those muscles were inflamed . . .

 . . . And the appliance went back to the lab to be readjusted from 6 to 4.   Whatever that means - and I was to take three Advil every six hours to help the headache and inflammation dissipate.

I had an earache from July 31st to August 11th, and a headache from July 31st to August 17th.

Yes, really.

They said that it would about two more weeks for the appliance to come back from the lab, and really, it was a rough two weeks in terms of sleep.  In fact it was awful in terms of sleep.  Apparently, getting those few nights of uninterrupted sleep (even though I was in pain) made me truly realize just how tired and sleep deprived I have been.  My SnoreLab score jumped right back up to the high 40's (occasionally up in the high 70s), and I muddled along as best I could.  It helped a lot once the earache was gone.

Last weekend I had a house full of my friends - here to journey to the Michigan Fiber Festival (Big Fun!!) and I had a hard time. My poor friends - I was tired, not able to keep up well with hostessing, not quick on the uptake (although I suppose it could be argued that I'm never very quick on the uptake  ;-)), and I looked like death. It's like these two weeks had magnified all the worst symptoms.  I was falling asleep in the chair, I fell asleep in the minivan both to and from the Festival, and I had to go to bed early every night, not to mention that I "looked tired" all weekend long.  If you watch The Proverbial Knitter podcast, you can actually see how awful I look right now . . . not only exhausted, but large (unfortunately . . . ). 

Lack of sleep is a contributing factor to so many things, including being overweight.  Add that to the micro-arousals shooting adrenalin into my body at regular intervals when I'm supposed to be sleeping - you can already see where this is going, can't you?  It is my sincere hope that once I am sleeping normally again, that it's going to become much easier to get back to a healthier weight and stay there.

On Monday, August 18th, I got the call that my appliance was ready, and made an appointment for Wednesday the 20th to pick it up . . . and start over.

More on that next time, but for now, I can just tell you that it's getting better  ;-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - Giving it a Try

I have wanted to do this for awhile.  Crazy Knitting Fool does this, and she said it comes from the Carole Knits blog.  I attempted to sign up for the weekly email, but it wouldn't let me . . . and from what I can tell on the Carole Knits blog, she's on vacation for two weeks.  So, I decided to do last week's this week, and see what happens next time  :-D  Maybe I will be able to get on the list when Carole returns from vacation.

The topic for last Tuesday was:

10 Things I Only Do Once A Year But I Wish You Could Do Them More Often

  1. Michigan Fiber Festival -  I really like to go, but I suppose going more often would make it not quite so special.
  2. Birthday Lunch with my friend R - we actually do a lunch twice a year, but only one is for our birthdays, which are a week apart.  I guess there's no reason we couldn't do this more often!
  3. A Date - actually, since I haven't had one for a few years, it would be quite nice to have one again.  At least I think it would be :-D
  4. Read a Book - Yeah, that's kinda scary.  I used to be a prolific reader but I rarely seem to find time to read.  I confess I have read a couple of fluff books recently, so obviously I do this more than once a year, but it's something that's very much on my list to do more of.
  5. Finish Knitting a Sweater - Geez . . . I have two on the needles, both of which have been resting for more than a year.  I'd like to finish at least one of them this year.
  6. Sing in the Choir at Christmas - I haven't actually done this for a few years now.  I do miss it, but my life seems to just be so crazy that giving up every Thursday night seems like more than I can stand - so maybe this shouldn't be on the list . . .
  7. Get a Massage - I used to be better at this, but I just don't make the time or spend the money anymore.  :-(
  8. Take a Day Off - yeah, you know, a real day off.  Not for a vacation or because I have to go somewhere or wait for a tradesman or I'm sick.  Just a day off.  
  9. Sleep Well - OK, this just has to happen more than once a year, and I'm hoping it's going to start happening regularly again soon, but right now, it feels like for fricking ever since I have had a good night's sleep.
  10. Have a Goal - again, this one is within my control . . . I've been rudderless for awhile now.  Probably time to be doing some personal work and figuring out my path, which has become muddy and unclear.

Wow, this was definitely harder than I thought it would be, and I'm not sure I did it right because I'm feeling sort of sad about my list.  But is there a right?   I'm not so sure that there is.  In any case, it has made me think, which - I think - is the entire point  ;-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To Sleep . . . Perchance to Dream . . .

So - spendy dental appliance . . .

One other tool that I have been using is an iPad app called SnoreLab.  As mentioned already, I don't really snore, but I breathe out quite loudly, with the occasional snuffly snorty snore.  This is actually a pretty cool app and I think it's relatively accurate.  It's at least interesting to see my score every night, which is usually anywhere from 28 to 50, but most often in the high 40s.

After working with the positional therapies, I realized that I apparently have to sleep on my back for REM sleep.  That meant either a CPAP or a dental appliance, and since I don't need the CPAP, the dental appliance won the draw.  A second visit to the special sleep dentist.  More measurements.  Multiple molds taken of my mouth.  Big money spent . . .

Because Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a medical diagnosis, my medical insurance covers it - and the dentist I went to is considered a preferred provider.  Still, my portion  of the device was in the high three figures.  Oh, joy . . .  But I ponied up the money on June 26th because I was so close to really sleeping again and this was really the only thing that would allow me to sleep on my back but still breath properly.  

My appliance was ready by the last week of July, and I went in on Wednesday, July 30th to pick it up and learn about how to wear it and how to care for it.  It was quite a lengthy process.  

What the appliance does is push my lower jaw forward to help keep my tongue from falling backwards and obstructing my airway.  The dentist said it was set for about halfway to where they eventually wanted to get my jaw while I'm sleeping.  This was our first disagreement.  I feel very strongly that if something works at 50%, there is no reason to move it further.  The dentist disagreed, but since I wasn't supposed to adjust it at all during the first week of wear, I figured we would have another discussion about it at some point.  Plus, I emailed my own doc about it - and he agreed with me and offered to speak to the dentist for me if necessary. 

Anyway - I left the office with a bag with all the molds and the appliance (which I have to bring with me every time I go there), and an exerciser to use every morning to force my jaw back into its normal position - this is important.  I had to wait a half an hour after removing the device, and then use the little exerciser (which is just a small little molded dealy of my natural bite), and clear instructions that if I developed a headache or an earache that required Advil, I was to call the office right away.  I toddled on home with a lighter wallet and dreams of dreaming again dancing in my head.  Oh - that's another symptom of chronic sleep deprivation - not dreaming.  I couldn't really remember the last time I dreamed.  Probably because I never was in REM sleep long enough to actually have a dream . . . 

Alrighty then . . . one of my personal jokes is that I often refer to myself as "a delicate flower."  This is funny because I'm kind of round, pretty tall, and really quite sturdy (you know, sturdy Irish stock :-) ).  So, in essence I crack this joke at my own expense - except that it's true.  I really am a delicate flower!  I'm extremely sensitive and I believe I have a much higher degree of cognizance of my body than most people do.  I'm very aware when something is "off" or out of balance in my body.

By Friday, August 1st, after only two nights, I had both a headache and an earache, so I rang the office and was advised that it was likely just my body taking a little time to get used to the device  . . .   I was to keep wearing it and call back if the pain didn't go away or if it got worse.  My SnoreLab score had been zero since starting with the appliance, so I knew it was working - and even though my head and ear hurt, I realized I was getting better sleep because I had begun to feel better and have more energy after only a few days!  Wow!

I made it four more nights, and rang the office again on Tuesday, August 5th.  This time I was instructed to not wear the appliance and was given an appointment to see the dentist the next day.

By then, I thought my eyeballs were going to pop from the pain in my head, my ear hurt inside all the way down my neck, and Advil wasn't touching it at all.  I hadn't been able to tolerate the positional therapies, and now it was looking like I wasn't going to be able to tolerate this one either . . .

Monday, August 11, 2014

Please Share This . . .

Like the rest of the world this night, I'm very saddened by the death of Robin Williams.  And even more saddened that it appears he might have taken his own life.

Facebook is awash in comments and sadness for the loss of this great talent at the young age of 63.

He will get all the press.  That's as it should be - he was, after all, quite famous.

But there are many families out of the limelight who have lost a loved one in this way.  I am personally acquainted with one such family.  A family who was so important to me during my years in Denver.  They lost their youngest son - a gifted muscian, poet, scholar, and all around amazing human who struggled with depression and lost.

If you are suffering from depression in the U.S., please call 1-800-273-8255 for the
National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To all who read my blog, please share this number far and wide - you never know who might need it.

To Sleep . . .

So - as I was saying:  Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

I mean, really????    Great.

It took more than three weeks to get the result of the sleep study, and when it arrived, it was seven or eight pages long, and full of charts and all kinds of mumbo jumbo that I did not understand.

No matter what it said, I knew that I had a diagnosis, so I figured there was a CPAP machine in my future and I was not happy about it.  I know that plenty of people use these, but I really did not want to have one.  More importantly, however, I truly didn't understand what everything in the report said, so I called my doctor.

He gave me a good overview of the report and answered all my questions (he's awesome like that :-) ), and then the conversation switched to treatments and he said that my case is so mild that I don't need a machine.

Joy in Mudville!!    :-D

The first line of treatment was what is called positional therapy, and as crazy as it sounds, I was to turn the baggy t-shirt I sleep in around so the pocket was on the back, and then I had to put a tennis ball in the pocket.  Yes, really.  Because I only experience an issue when I'm lying on my back, positional therapy was supposed to train me to sleep only on my side.  This is a great idea in theory because you can't roll on to your back if there is a tennis ball in the middle of it.

In practice, however, it was not so great.  I tried it for two nights - what a fricking nightmare.  It worked really well at keeping me on my side. One side.  You cannot roll over on to the other side when there is a tennis ball in the middle of your back.  I was waking from the pain of my entire body weight on one side and from my inability to stretch my legs out completely.  Since the entire point of the therapy was for me to get more and better sleep, this was a miserable fail because I was getting less sleep, and since I appear to only drop into REM sleep when I'm on my back, I was more tired than ever and I hurt everywhere. 

I sourced another positional therapy online, only to find that it's not available in the United States, and so it was time to call the doc again.  The next line of treatment looked like it was going to be a dental appliance.

So I got an appointment with a special sleep dentist.  She is very nice.  It was very interesting.  Special x-rays were taken, as well as many measurements of my mouth.  Lots of discussion and answering of questions.  She mentioned another positional device that sounded similar to the one I had sourced overseas, so I decided to try it first before moving to a dental appliance.  It is called iRollover and was invented by one of the dentists in the practice. 

iRollover arrived and I set it up and started working with it.  You record your own voice telling you to roll over.  Then, you wear an earbud and strap the device to your chest.  If you roll on to your back, it triggers the recorded message to play in your ear and you roll over.  Again, in theory, a great idea.  But in practice - for me - another fail.  The top of my torso, which is where you strap the device to yourself, is. . . um . . . not flat.  And my "girls" move around.  The device would trigger when I was already on my side, and even though I turned the volume WAY down, the combination of white noise and my voice on the recording was like someone screaming in my ear which is kind of terrifying, and of course it woke me up all the way every time it went off.  In addition, it's uncomfortable for me to sleep with an earbud in my ear.

To be fair, this device apparently works for a lot of people, because the company told me I was the only person who ever sent one back for a refund.   :-D

It looked like a spendy dental appliance was going to be my next line of treatment . . .

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Sleep Anywhere, Any Time Gene . . .

I really don't understand how the time gets away from me, but I'm beginning to suspect that it's something another friend mentioned:  I'm at an age when slowing down is no longer optional - it's mandatory.  I hate to think that  :-D

It's been an interesting couple of weeks that actually started in March  . . .

In early March I had my annual physical.  One of the things I talked to my awesome doc about was how I was tired nearly all the time.  He asked some questions, I answered truthfully, and the upshot was that he wanted me to have a sleep study to see if I had sleep apnea.  Great.

I had the study at the end of March, and yes, was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).  What does that mean?!  It can mean a lot of things.  Most commonly, it means that a person actually stops breathing while they sleep.

I, however, have what I'm told is a relatively unique case.  This won't surprise anyone who knows me.  I have long been a trend-setter among my friends, and often at the forefront of whatever is coming next.  And, for women of a certain age this could very well be what's coming - quite likely in a different form than mine, but coming just the same.

OSA has long been thought of as "a man's condition." Men far outnumber women in OSA diagnoses, UNTIL women reach menopause, when we catch right up.  I learned this from the special sleep dentist I had to go and see.  She explained to me that hormones have a lot to do with the integrity of the muscles in the tongue and mouth - and when the hormone levels change, our tongues don't always seem to stay in the right place any longer during sleep.

How is my case unique?  Well, first, my AHI number (that's Apnea Hypopnea Index) is only 6.  The lowest number you can have and be diagnosed, is 5.  So that makes my case very mild.  Second, I never stop breathing.  I don't have any apneas (but they still call it OSA anyway).  I have what they call hypopneas, which is where my airway becomes partially obstructed - I never stop breathing, but my airway is blocked enough that my oxygen saturation level drops way too low; and third, my case is completely positional.  These hypopneas ONLY happen during REM sleep when I'm sleeping on my back - which, apparently, is the only time I have REM sleep - it doesn't occur when I'm on either side.

Why is this bad?  It's bad because my sleep study showed that I am chronically sleep deprived and probably have been for a pretty long time.  I thought back, and came to the conclusion on my own that I probably haven't had restorative, uninterrupted REM sleep for at least a couple of years.  When I'm in REM sleep, I'm on my back.  When my airway gets occluded by my tongue sliding backwards instead of staying put, my oxygen level drops.  It drops enough for my body to panic and shoot out a blast of adrenalin to get things going again.  It's called a micro-arousal.  It's not enough to wake me up all the way, just enough to punt me out of REM sleep. I could think I slept all night, when I never got more than five or ten MINUTES of REM sleep at any given time.

This diagnosis explains a LOT for me.  Falling asleep in two or three minutes - not normal (and indicative of chronic sleep deprivation - this was already happening to me more than a decade ago).  I thought waking up to pee multiple times a night was normal for a menopausal woman.  It's not.  Having trouble staying awake at 10 o'clock in the morning - not normal.  Drowsy driving at 10 o'clock in the morning - really not normal.  Falling asleep on the train into the city in the morning - not normal.  Feeling like my body is made of lead during a workout - not normal.  Having memory issues - again, not normal (and that one's scary - I mean, in another life I memorized countless plays, musicals, songs, dances - you name it.  That I would struggle horribly with memorization of simple pipe tunes has been really unnerving, to say the least).

ALL those things can be the result of OSA - even a mild case of OSA.  Perhaps more importantly for many, OSA can also lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and mood problems (thankfully, these things I do not have).

In my family we call it the Sleep Anywhere, Any Time Gene, and I always said I got it from my mom.  Upon reflection, however, I'm reasonably sure now that my mom had sleep apnea, and I'm reasonably sure she had a far more severe case than I have.  She would sit in a chair to read a book, and she would fall asleep.  She was often tired.  She snored life a freight train, a very common symptom of OSA.  I do not snore other than the occasional snuffly snorty kind of mild snore.

Thinking I was condemned to a lifetime of sleeping with a CPAP machine, I was not a happy camper . . .  

Friday, August 1, 2014

I am Calling You . . .

I just wanted to share this with you.

It's stayed with me all these years . . . a brilliant film . . . and this haunting plea . . .