I retired from the Public Defender Dept. November 12, 2015 after 16 health destroying years.
Now, I'm a full time multi-media artist and writer on a new adventure. As an artist, I create with beads, fabric, fiber, and ceramic clay. Sometimes separately; sometimes in assorted combinations. You can find my on-line store at: www.debthumanart.com.
Yesterday, I was the oldest of four children. Last night, I became the youngest of two.
On Monday, I got a notice from 23 & Me that I may have a half brother. I’ve been in emotional shock all of this week. I checked the 23 & Me DNA analysis – we share 23% of our DNA. We also share a father is is/was a selfish jerk. Both my brother and I were born in 1952. My brother is six months older than me. No, our father wasn’t married at the time. Apparently he stuck his dick in every vagina he found. Then he walked out of our lives. If our father is still alive, he’s 88. I did meet him once. I wanted a nice reason for why he abandoned me. He had no reason to give me. Eventually, I realized his reason for walking out is he’s a selfish jerk. My mother had two talents in her life: welfare fraud and attaching herself to horrible men. She eventually married a violent drunk. When I discovered I was adopted and searched for my father, my only fear was I’d find either a republican or a drunk. At least he’s not republican.
I have a brother I didn’t know about. And he’s older than me. That I have a brother is a shock, but not a surprise. It’s likely we have more siblings we don’t know about. Eventually, I’ll work my way through the emotional fallout of discovering a brother.
I have a new MacBook Pro. I bought the one with 512 gig storage, 16 gig memory and a 15” screen. It should last me a few years. I’ve been working on a quilted tote for the laptop. First, I played with squares….and managed to make one that looked like a swastika. Nope. Can’t go around looking like a neo nazi.
I put the three blocks together, and the swastika disappeared.
I like the finished result – mostly. I am not in love with the binding and I had problems with the handles. I wanted to sew the edges together then turn the handles right side out. Except I couldn’t manage to turn the handle. Next try: fold, press, and sew without turning. The handles aren’t too bad but certainly not great sewing.
I like how putting together different versions of a block make wild patterns. I’m considering making a lap quilt using the basic pattern. I have a couple miles of fabric and I need to start using it up.
I needed new oversized tee shirts to sleep in. It’s cheaper for me to buy from Dharma Trading than to make a tee shirt. That leaves me to experiment with color and dyeing technique. I wanted to shoot these experiments outside, but we are having WIND. Spring in the desert features wind gusts of 50 mph. One day, the wind got faster than 100 mph. Indoor shooting has restrictions because I put the experiment on a piece of white board and shoot while standing up. These are hardly great art.
For my Shibori experiments, I tied one tee shirt in knots, used bulldog clips on another tee shirt, and clothespins on a knitted piece. Shibori is traditionally dyed indigo blue. Not my Shibori. I’m a color junkie and need to be surrounded by lots and lots of different colors. Fortunately, color is legal and doesn’t affect my ability to drive.
For hand dyed yarn, I knit a blank from 100% cotton yarn, dye the piece, unravel the piece, then knit something. I’m curious to see what happens when I knit a piece from the Shibori experiment.
I made the mistake of rinsing out the orange piece with the purple piece. It’s going to be interesting to see how this knits up because this isn’t the only purple spot on this piece.
I have mixed feelings about the oversized tee shirts. Manipulations were only on the bottom of the red tee shirt. I like that idea and I’m thinking about how to expand on it. The purple tee shirt was a surprise. I didn’t realize the dye was going to separate and dye the tied parts a light red. I like the effect, but I’m not sure I want to have clothing that resembles tie dye.
There are six more clothing blanks to dye – 1 tee shirt, 2 caftans, 2 blouses. I’ve been thinking about how I want to fold the fabric and what I want to use as a resist. Clothespins are nice, but once the clothespins are dyed, they shouldn’t be used to hang laundry. I’m afraid if I used dyed clothespins to hang wet clothes the dye would bleed into the clothing.
Once I finish dyeing the rest of the blanks, I’ll work on dyeing yardage and I’m thinking of folding the fabric on the diagonal. A Shibori scrub top could be interesting. So could a pair of boxers for Jim made from the leftover fabric. The blanks and the yardage are from Dharma Trading. The quality is good, but the blanks and fabric aren’t pre-shrunk. This time, I’m going to be hanging the tee shirts on the line each time I wash them. Maybe that will keep the shrinkage to a minimum.
I’m not in a chatty mood today and I’m not sure why. I may be just a bit below center – a bit depressed. Earlier, I was doing some online research for the novel and found some sad pieces. Thus, the depression. This isn’t a serious depression and I’ve no suicidal thoughts.
After the last major depressive event wherein I found myself thinking that being dead wouldn’t be so bad, I talked to my doctor about tweaking my meds. She doubled the dosage for both Lamictal and Wellbutrin. That solved the depression problem, but left me stoned out of my mind. I’d be driving and wonder where I was. I went back down on both prescriptions and felt weird feelings in my head. It took a couple days to figure out I was going into withdrawal. I went back up to my previous dosages for both meds. That eliminated the withdrawal symptoms but left me snarling at Jim and the cats. I doubled the dose for Wellbutrin putting me back on the dosage my doctor recommended. I’m not snarling, but my brain isn’t working all that well. Words get lost in my head and I haven’t figured out where they hide. One time, I couldn’t remember “body wash.” I described the word I wanted by saying it’s a liquid and you use it to wash yourself. Today, Jim was driving us home, and I was bewildered. I couldn’t figure out where we were or how we got there. I may have to cut the Wellbutrin back to one and a half pills a day rather than two pills.
I’ve been going to the gym a couple times a week and doing yoga on the non-gym days. It’s helping and I feel like soon I won’t have to worry about a relapse. Which is dangerous because this is the time when I push myself too far and cause a relapse. It’s hard to know what I shouldn’t be doing until I do it and start to hurt.
I’ll be back up to center tomorrow. Or maybe after I start working on my new gym shorts later today. I’m using a cotton/lycra blend with 4-way stretch and I’ve got the fabric cut out. Just need to start sewing the pieces together. The gym shorts are necessary because the management of the gym I go to hired a man to clean the locker rooms. He’s the world’s slowest man and he’s always cleaning the locker room when I get to the gym. My solution was to wear gym clothes to the gym, work out, and go back home to shower. It’s a good solution, but I need pockets to hold my keys while I work out and to carry my iPod to and from the gym. I have two pairs of shorts that are both stretchy and have pockets. I’d like to not have to do laundry each time I go to the gym so I’m making gym shorts.
I’m still working on remembering how to sew. So far, I’ve gotten two pillow covers quilted, and it has been quite an experience. I couldn’t remember how to fix some common free motion quilting mistakes so I spent time on YouTube looking for advice on how to do free motion quilting. I had forgotten about tension and how to correct the tension based on what kind of problem I was having. I needed to lower the tension more than one number. Plus, I needed to work on keeping a steady needle speed and quilt movement speed. Some parts of the two pillow covers I’ve quilted are better than other parts.
For the first pillow cover, I fused the top to the batting. That was a mistake. The Wunder Under life span has been exceeded and the fusing material doesn’t fuse all that well. The top had and still has, puckers. A friend on the Quiltart Facebook page suggested making my own fusible spray from water, flour, and alcohol. I haven’t made this concoction yet, but I like the idea of using simple ingredients and formulating an adhesive that not only doesn’t contain dangerous chemicals, but can be completely washed out after quilting. Instructions to make this adhesive are here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVRrFGFXXfc.
For the second pillow cover, I pinned the layers using long, straight pins. That was an improvement. I haven’t started the third pillow cover.
I don’t recall using more than one color thread for any quilted piece before. Not finding one color thread that worked, I used a different color on each part of each piece. That was feasible for the churn dash and fence rail designs. That’s not an option on the variant of log cabin cover. Never having been much good at free motion quilting, I will use the log cabin variant to work out at least one new to me design.
These pillow covers were never meant to be great art or even mediocre art. They are meant to help me recapture my sewing skills. I won’t try sewing a garment until my sewing skills are recovered.
PhotoScape X is a free photo editing app for Mac, and it has just been upgraded. To celebrate, I took what I thought was a boring photo to play with and see what new things the app will do. Once I started playing, that boring photo got interesting. The original photo is a shot of a lace knitting pattern chart.
One of the members of the Digital Photography School Facebook page wrote about learning to see the entire surrounding area to find the best location for a given shot. I looked up photos of the pyramid at the Lourve and got to see the same photo done about a hundred times. No one, or at least no one who posted a photo, bothered to think about how to shoot the pyramid differently. The main pyramid has an opening at the bottom that can be walked through. I think it would be interesting to take a shot of the inside of the pyramid while flat on the ground and shooting upwards. The Lourve is a huge building loaded with architectural accoutrements. Taking a shot showing the entire building or one “leg” of the building loses all of the accoutrements. I’d like to take shots of individual accoutrements. No one who posted did. Or maybe I was looking in the wrong place.
Neuropathy flare ups, like the one I’m having now, suck. I get to sleep for 2-3 hours before being awakened by pain. Yesterday, the pain only got down to ignorable after having the TENS unit connected for eight hours. I got maybe three hours sleep. I took a gabapentin. Didn’t help. I took CBD oil. Didn’t help. I tried virtual reality. Didn’t help.
Tonight, pain woke me after two and a half hours sleep. I’m trying art this time and hoping writing this will make the pain disappear. Yesterday, I read an article in the New York Times that made me wonder about the correlation between free radicals and nerve damage. I found an article from 2003 online describing such a correlation. Why didn’t any of the eight neurologists I saw mention this correlation? Seven of the neurologists worked in medical schools where research is financed by drug companies. The focus is on handing out prescriptions for useless drugs. The other neurologist had every drug company freebie available adorning the walls of his office. His solution was to try to get me to take Lyrica. If you watch the commercials closely, you will discover that even the manufacturer admits Lyrica doesn’t work.
Nerves regenerate. The regeneration is slow, but it does happen. So why are neurologists so focused on handing out prescriptions and ignoring the questions I asked? Could it be because funding for research is the child of drug companies so treatment is focused on handing out drugs? So often when I saw a neurologist I found myself wondering if I were the only person in the room who had taken cell biology in college. One day, I realized I really was the only one in the room who had taken cell biology in college. Sometimes, modern medicine is scary.
I haven’t finished reading the article on research of the correlation between free radicals and nerve damage. Once I finish the article, I’ll start looking more at foods and supplements that remove many of the free radicals. Three of the foods I’ve found so far are three of my favorite foods: chocolate, strawberries and beets.
Jim started baking. And baking. And baking. He found a sale on the Nordicware site and bought four fancy cake pans. Two will make loaves with fancy tops. One will make mini cakeletts. One will make regular cakelettes. I tried to convince Jim that we need the Kitchen Aid Pro 600 mixer with metal gears and a BIG bowl. Two bakers need two mixers. He didn’t accept that argument. Sigh. Someday.
Today, I went to the gym for the first time in months. I only worked on my upper body because I’m not sure I should be using weights to work on my lower body yet. I want to have a couple more pain-free weeks before I ease into using weights on my lower body. My theory is if I am stronger I won’t be as prone to back and sciatic misery. If I’m wrong, at least I won’t have flappy arms. I’ve also been doing yoga designed to restore back strength and that seems to be working well.
I’ve been seeing curtains of light in my right eye. That can be an indication of a torn or partially detached retina. Twice the retina in my right eye has been glued back down and I’ve been told that if my retina tears or detaches again, I will have to have repair work done in the hospital. I looked up the surgery. A sharp instrument is inserted in the eyeball….. and I need about a quart of valium to hold still for that. After seeing my eye doctor and a specialist, I learned my retina is fine and no one needs to poke me in the eye with a sharp instrument. The curtains of light could be an ocular migraine. Jim has those. They are a nuisance, but they don’t hurt. And so I’ll ignore the curtains.
I did a bit of work on the novel. I need to get the novel finished, and it’s taking a whole lot longer than I thought. I switched from first person to having a narrator. That solves the problem of how my female character knows things.
I have not worked on the quilted pillow tops this week and I’m having small guilt attacks. Next week. I’ll work on them next week.
I read an article in the New York Times about research that’s being done using virtual reality as a means of pain management. The theory is the brain is bombarded by so much stimuli the pain doesn’t register. So I bought a virtual reality headset. It works. I like how realistic and three dimensional the programs are. I started with the aquarium program and watched dolphins, sea turtles, clown fish, and sharks swim by. I detest rollercoasters in real life, but I decided to try a virtual rollercoaster anyway. It’s not a good idea to ride a virtual rollercoaster for a half hour. Actually, it’s a really bad idea. My stomach didn’t like being on a virtual rollercoaster.
I hate Mothers’ Day.
I grew up in a family run by a violent narcissist and a violent drunk. My mother not only hated and resented me, she made sure I knew she hated and resented me. Don’t ask me to honor someone like that.
I have a uterus. I don’t have children. Don’t assume I am a mother.
Tomorrow, I will stay home. I will avoid clerks and wait staff who insist on wishing me a happy mothers’ day.
Too bad there aren’t greeting cards acknowledging women who don’t have children, or worse, lost a child, women who grew up in abusive environments and women who have lost their mothers.
This sciatic problem is getting old. Really old. I’ve just finished Week 9 of a problem that was supposed to be gone after 6 weeks. I am not old enough to be this old. Yesterday, I felt really good and decided I’d go to the gym today. I couldn’t go yesterday because I saw my chiropractor and I can’t work out with weights after getting adjusted. This morning, I had pain. So much for the gym. I did yoga instead. I’d like to have a bolster to use when I do yoga. I’m not about to buy what I can make so I’ve been looking for bolster forms. I guess there aren’t all that many people making bolster pillows because there’s little choice in bolster forms. I’ll keep looking.
My laptop is 5 years old, which is ancient in computer years. For some reason, the E key is starting to stick. Not all the time, just about half the time. I don’t want to buy a new laptop at the moment. And no, my iPad won’t replace the laptop. Whatever else Steve Jobs was, he wasn’t stupid. Make sure none of the parts can replace any other part and people will keep buying Apple products. Reminds me of Bernina where the feet for one machine won’t fit on another Bernina machine. The iPad and iPhone and iPods are all Apple. They almost talk to each other. The photo editing program I have is for Apple. It won’t run on windows. So switching to another brand of laptop isn’t going to help much. Plus, Apple is nearly virus free. Not completely free, but a whole lot better than windows which seems to attract viruses. I keep wanting to upgrade my camera, but the photography fund keeps getting used for something else. The first year, I had a stalker and needed to buy a security system. The second year, my 14-year-old sewing machine crapped out in the middle of a project. I had to buy a new sewing machine. The Canon Rebel T3i is an antique, but it’s still working. So I spend the photography fund on what I need rather than on what I want.
I belong to the Digital Photography School Facebook page. Each week, there’s a photography challenge. This week, the challenge was dogs. No one specified what kind of dog.
I could have sworn I had removed all the lint from the feed dogs. I use a small vacuum cleaner to vacuum up any lint in the machine when I’m done sewing.
Here’s the third quilted pillow cover block. I couldn’t get all of it in one photo. I had wanted to make a different log cabin variant, but I made a mistake when I was cutting fabric into strips. Design is what happens when you put the quilt block together “wrong.” I like how this worked out.
The two photos should give you an idea of what I’ve got sewn together.
Someday, I’ll be able to bake again. I’m still having sciatic nerve problems. I start feeling really good, then I push myself and set myself back. The baking I like to do, cakes, cookies, croissants, requires standing at the counter for longer than I can stand right now. Between now and someday, Jim is doing the baking. Today he made two different kinds of pound cakes. The bunnies and shamrocks are lemon flavored, and the one done in a standard bundt pan is orange and raspberry flavored. Jim makes really good pound cake and his flavor experiments are right tasty. And he likes to bake so I might never get my kitchen back. Too bad neither of us likes to cook meals.
I’ve been working on quilted pillow tops using traditional quilt patterns. I’m still having some cognitive problems and I’m hoping that by using tradition, simple patterns I can get all my sewing skills back. At least now I can remember how to thread the machine and how to lower the feed dogs.
I chose to use a log cabin variant. This was supposed to be a bento box pattern, but I made the first square wrong. Design is what happens when you put the square together wrong. And when you run out of fabric.
I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out and I’m ecstatic that nearly all the seams lined up right. I did something a bit different with this photo. I calibrated the camera using a medium gray card for my custom white balance. The colors in this one are pretty accurate.
Because the last time I tried a quilted project and had problems with cutting the batting out too small, I decided I’d lay out the quilt blocks on the batting, put painter’s tape around each block, and I’ll cut between the tapes. This should give me a extra 1” around each block. A few years back, JoAnn’s had a sale on batting sold by the yard. It was half price so I bought 10 yards. It’s a bugger to roll out and get the batting to lie flat. I have been doing this on the floor. I had to lock Tinker in the office so he wouldn’t “help” me. I let him out when I took the photo.
We’ve got ceramic tile through most of the house, and I was crawling around on my hands and knees. I didn’t feel anything indicating I was causing myself a problem while I was crawling around. The problem became apparent when I stood up. Lower back pain and I had to use my walker most of the time. I have a yoga video with a special section for poses while my back heals. I did the poses and felt better immediately.
I made a hard decision to forgo the last two weeks of classes and final exams. I tried twice to come back to class. I’d be in class on Monday, find myself in pain, and take the rest of the week off. This happened two weeks in a row. I’ve missed so many weeks that I can’t catch up in time to take the final exams. I sent both of my teachers emails explaining what I was doing and why. I hate missing classes, but at least I’m not working towards another degree.
I managed to get both classes I wanted for the fall semester – immunology and cell biology. There was an article in today’s paper about a professor at New Mexico State University getting a $1.48 million grant to pursue work on figuring out why some women with breast cancer are not helped by Tamoxin and why Tamoxin will work for others for a limited time and then become ineffective. The article explained that there’s a hormone that triggers the synthesis of a g-coupled protein that binds with estrogen. I actually understood that. As many problems as I had when I took neurobiology, I managed to stick enough in my head so I could have these Ah Ha! moments. I’d love to work on another degree in biology. I’d love to be a research assistant. But…I don’t want to teach and I don’t want student loans. I’d apply for a position as a research assistant, but I think those jobs should go to students who are working towards a degree.
The sciatic pain was supposed to last only 6 weeks. I’m on week 7. Once again, I tried going to classes. I lasted one day and I had more bones shifted out of place than the previous week. There are only 2 weeks left in the semester and I’ve missed 4 weeks. There’s no point in taking the final exam. I’m not going for another degree so the grade doesn’t matter and I am done for the semester. I loved my plant physiology class and we had gotten to the part I consider fascinating when the sciatic pain started. I wanted to take another class from this teacher, but he’s teaching weed science next semester. I just can’t manage to get excited about weed science.
Although I’m not happy about this, I am using my walker more often. I got a walker with a seat and a basket. I can sit when I need/want to and I can use the seat to transport something from one place to another. And the wheels are bigger than the ones on my original walker. Bigger wheels mean fewer death traps when I’m outside.
Following the cognitive deficits last fall when I was in withdrawal from Cymbalta, I lost my sewing skills. The first time I sewed, I couldn’t remember how to thread the machine, attach the free motion quilt foot, and where the button to lower the feed dogs was located. Fortunately, the manual was close by. I’m trying to find my sewing skills again. To achieve that, I’m working on quilted pillow covers. I started with a fence rail pattern. Next, I graduated to a churn dash pattern. That pattern is one of my favorite traditional quilt blocks. The photos suck, but you can get an idea of what the pieced part looks like. I need to cut batting and backing for the blocks, quilt it, and proceed to turn it into a pillow cover. For the fence rail block, the first two fabrics I picked up went well together. For the churn dash pattern, I had to do a whole lot of looking through my fabric stash. I have no idea what the next block will be. I think once I’ve made quilt blocks, my sewing skills will return.
My cutting mat was 25 years old, littered with cut marks, and just not working right any more. Armed with a 60% off coupon, we went to Joann’s and bought me a new, self healing mat. The rotary cutters are behaving more like they should behave. I needed to have Jim with me because I can’t wrestle with a cutting mat while pushing a walkr.
I’ve been working on the novel. I vacillate between liking what I wrote and hating every word. I suspect that’s common among novelists. Having the semester end two weeks early gives me more time to work on the novel, the pillow covers, and eventually clay. It’s really nice out, but it doesn’t warm up enough to work with wet clay until the afternoon. Plus, this time of the year we get WIND. A couple weeks ago, we had 50 mph wind and the San Agustin pass featured wind clocked at 105 mph. Wet hands, cold clay, not quite warm enough and WIND is not my idea of a great combination. That’s the joy of being a multi media artist. When one art toy isn’t working, I can go to another art toy.
I’m linking with Nina Marie. Stop by and see what other artists are doing. http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com
Looking for one of a kind art? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art. www.debthumanart. com.
I think I might be seeing a glimmer of light hinting the end of the tunnel is closer than I thought. A couple weeks ago, I tried to sew a quilted tote bag and made about every mistake that could be made. I forgot how to thread my machine. I forgot how to attach the free-motion quilting foot. I finally remembered I had to lower the feed dogs, and then couldn’t remember where the button that raises and lowers the feed dogs is located.
One of my quilting friends commented that sewing is like riding a bicycle and my sewing skills will return. With that in mind, I decided to make something simple. I checked JoAnn’s on line to see what size pillow forms they carried. I chose to make a pillow cover to cover a 24” x 24” pillow. I love the fence rail quilt pattern. It’s simple, has no tricky seams, and I like the way it looks. I pulled two pieces of fabric out of my stash, and they worked perfectly together. Usually, I have to spend a few hours trying to figure out what fabrics I want to use. I’ve sewn the blocks together. I need to cut batting and backing, quilt it, attach two pieces of fabric to form backing, and it will be done. Then I have to buy a pillow form.
The colors aren’t accurate. The green is more intense in real life.
I also like the churn dash pattern and I’m thinking I’ll use that for a pillow cover when I finish this one.
My chiropractor explained that something I can do today isn’t necessarily something I can do tomorrow. I took the last week off from school. When I went to classes the Monday before, I had pain towards the end of the day. On Wednesday, the pain was worse. On Thursday, I came to my senses and decided I needed to heal for another week. Thank God the grades in my classes don’t matter. I’m not going towards another degree; I’m taking classes that interest me. In part it’s for the joy of learning, in part it’s to keep my brain working. Jim works at the university and I can take up to 6 credits a semester for free. Free fits into my budget and being retired, I have the entire week free to fill with school. I’ll go to classes on Monday and see how I feel. It’s tough to find the spot between doing nothing and doing too much. I know if I do nothing, I won’t heal.
If I have to use a walker for another month or so, I need a more practical walker. I now have a 4-wheel drive Rollator with a seat and a basket. It’s going to be easier for me to get around school with four wheels rather than two. The wheels are bigger than the ones on the first walker. That should help me avoid many of the death traps plaguing sidewalks and parking lots.
I’m now at the critically dangerous stage of healing. I’m tired of using a walker. I want to be independent. I want to be able to do the things I could do a couple months ago. And so I push myself and relapse. I’ll be back at school next week, and I’m planning on going to the gym. I’ll push my walker through the gym and I’ll only work on upper body. If I’m feeling particularly brave (or being particularly stupid), I’ll lower the weights and work on my legs.
I bought a bunny cake pan. The pan makes 6 little bunny cakes. Three poses, and two bunnies for each pose. But I can’t stand long enough to bake. So Jim made the little cakes using King Arthur Flour vanilla pound cake recipe. If you’re making little cakes, they will bake in less time than a big cake. This makes sense, but my psych meds are still messing with my cognitive ability. And so the bunnies were a tad over done on the edges. But they tasted good and they are cute.
I have entered The Dangerous Time in my recovery from an angry sciatic nerve. I feel good. The pain is nearly non-existent. I think I can do things. Like walk through the grocery store. That walk is what started the relapse. I had some pain on Monday as I pushed my walker from one class to the next. I had more pain on Wednesday as I pushed my walker from one class to the next. I won’t be doing any more pushing for a while because I’m taking another week off from school. I don’t like doing that, but I really, really, really don’t like the idea of having to push this walker around for a few more months. This was week 5. According to the articles I’ve seen, sciatica is supposed to clear up in 6 weeks. That’s not going to happen . Yes, I have had this conversation with my sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve isn’t paying attention to me.
I broke down and ordered a new walker. Buying a walker is not the best time to be economy minded. My current walker has 6” wheels on the front legs and end caps on the back legs. It’s not designed for use on pavement. What I ordered has four 7.5” wheels, hand brakes, a seat and a nifty basket under the seat. I’m thinking that the larger wheels will help avoid the death traps on the sidewalks and pavement. The smaller wheels on my current walker would get stuck in the sidewalk joins and in low spots on irregular pavement. The campus is rife with death traps. The seat will allow me to move baking ingredients from the pantry to the counter. I doubt I’ll ever sit on the seat, but I wanted a seat so I could put stuff on it rather than try to push a walker while holding something in my hand. I suspect I’ll need to use the walker for at least another month.
I discovered a leftover from the cognitive deficits that were part of the withdrawal from Cymbalta. I tried sewing, and couldn’t remember basic things. Like how to thread my machine. How to attach the free motion quilting foot. I forgot I needed to lower the feed dogs when I quilted. I forgot where the button is to lower the feed dogs. As a result, I made a quilted tote bag filled with technical errors. I always cut the batting and backing larger than what will be the top side of the quilt. Not this time. I cut the batting too short and too narrow. I had to diddle around joining additional pieces of batting to what I had cut out. The backing was also too narrow. I had to sew a strip onto the backing. I wanted to do a pillowcase type quilt. Sew all three layers together leaving a hole on one end, pull the inside of the bag out through the hole, and sew the hole closed. Ta da! No binding needed. I sewed the seam too narrow in spots and the backing didn’t get caught in the stitching. I did a row of top stitching around the quilt to fix that problem. Except it didn’t fix it. Deciding I wasn’t about to go crazy making this quilted tote bag, I left the gaps. I folded the quilt in half, sewed up the sides and proclaimed it finished. No, there will not be photos. I really don’t want something this filled with errors on the internet. Yes, I will use the tote bag. It’s a tote bag – not an art piece.
I get to find out in the coming week if my sewing brain has returned. When we were on vacation last August, I bought patterns for quilted purses and a quilted wallet. Last week, I bought a pattern for a quilted messenger bag. I was having a minor manic episode and that’s about the extent of my shopping spree. That and the bunny cake pan which makes six little bunny cakes. It is beyond cute. Manic episodes are supposed to be when those with bipolar disorder spend vast sums of money. I’m always careful when I’m manic and my spending sprees are limited to about $100.00. The other part of my manic episodes is culinary. I bake. I cook. I make home made pasta. The bunny cake pan hasn’t arrived yet and I’m looking forward to making little pound cake bunnies when the pan arrives. Yes, there will be bunny cake photos.
I decided to make the quilted wallet first and the messenger bag after that. The wallet has a long strap on it so it can be used as a mini purse. This is a great idea. When I’m at school, I put my wallet, credit card case, and assorted purse stuff in the backpack. If I want to go someplace after school, I need to move purse stuff from the backpack to my purse. I’m thinking that a wallet with a strap could double for a purse when I want to go somewhere after class.
I’ve had a lack of ambition lately, and I think maybe making art will pop me out of the blahs. It’s worth a try.
I’m finally able to stand long enough to block and photograph scarves. Being confined to the couch is conducive to knitting. I’m now playing with cotton yarn that I hand dyed. First, I knit some of the yarn. Then I dye the yarn. Then I unravel the yarn and get a mottled effect. I think there’s more life in yarn that isn’t a solid dye.
I’m now able to walk short distances without the walker although I’m still leery of trying any significant walking. I’ll be taking the walker with me when I go to school next week. I discovered I’m doing way more walking on campus than I thought.
I bought a yoga video that’s supposed to have poses that are good for your back. I suppose they are. I overdid it, and strained something. No lower back pain today, but the leg feels weaker. Sigh. I’ll be glad when this is over.
I finally got to do some baking yesterday. There were seriously over ripe bananas on the counter and the pastry chef textbook says the secret to great banana baking is to use very over ripe bananas. The muffins came out really good. The recipe is here:http://www.firsthomelovelife.com/recipe/maple-banana-muffinsif you want to give the muffins a try. We loved them.
The iris is blooming! Here in the desert, iris blooms last only a few days. These photos are straight out of the camera. Today is the first time I’ve been able to do photography since the sciatica started.
This closeup is me playing around. I wanted to see if I could get a good shot of the innards of the flower. It’s sort of successful.
If you have ever wondered just how accessible the world is, try getting into and out of a restroom without using your hands. Putting a blue sign outside a restroom does not make the restroom accessible. There is only ONE restroom I can use on the entire New Mexico State University campus. It’s on the first floor of Foster Hall. The handicap entrance to Foster Hall is on the second floor. I have to be careful how much water I drink and when I drink it. It can be a long walk to the only restroom that has a door opener.
Sidewalks are death traps. Expansion joins that have moved will stop the walker’s wheels. Then I try not to go flying over the top of the walker. Elevators are death traps. There’s a gap between the elevator and the building. That gap also stops wheels. Area rugs are death traps. Try wheeling over the edge. The rug lifts up and refuses to lie flat. Throw rugs are death traps. They are worse than area rugs. Construction zones are death traps. A main road on campus is torn up. There’s an 8” drop to the exposed dirt that used to be under the pavement. I’m not supposed to try to use the walker on stairs. Getting across that road was a near death experience.
For some reason, the handicapped entrances for buildings on campus are the farthest from the sidewalk. Go to the college book store? Nope. The parking lot is on one side of the building and the handicap entrance is on the other side. The curb cutout for the sidewalk that will take me around the building is on the far end. I’d have to wheel myself across the parking lot, walk along the entrance to the bookstore, walk down the side of the bookstore, turn the corner, and there’s the handy handicap entrance.
I got a cup holder for my walker. That allows me to bring tea from the kitchen to the office. I have to put the tea in a travel mug, but at least I can have tea. I thought the cup holder would allow me to go to Starbucks by myself. I could order my drink, put it in my cup holder, and wheel myself to the table. That works if the Starbucks isn’t crowded. Not that Starbucks has a door opener. I’d have to wait for someone to come along and open the door for me. The never crowded Starbucks is on a road that has been ripped up for the last year. It’s quite the driving experience. That’s why that Starbucks is never crowded. I tried going to Starbucks without my walker. My leg feels better and I can walk short distances without the walker. I discovered that I can’t stand long enough to get my drink. I was in pain by the time I could hobble to the table. I had an hour in which I could drink my mocha and hope my leg recovered enough to get out of Starbucks. Fortunately, I could get back to my car.
I wanted to go to Sprouts, a wonderful grocery store here. It’s got the best produce, a large organic produce section, and a large selection of fruit. Except I can’t push my walker and a cart at the same time. Yes, they have the little motorized things for people who have difficulty walking. I need the walker to get from the car to the store entrance. So what do I do with the walker if I use the motorized thing?
Taking the shuttle bus from the free parking lot to near where I have a class is…..interesting. The newer busses have a ramp that unfurls and makes it easy to roll onto the bus. The older busses have lifts. The bus this morning had a broken lift. My choices were: try to get up steep stairs (not in this lifetime) or wait for the next bus. I waited. Frequently, I have to tell the driver to unfurl the ramp. No, I can’t jump from the sidewalk to the bus while pushing a walker.
I had a botany lab this morning. The lab isn’t designed for a walker. I managed to get around without the walker catching on a cord and knocking a microscope off the table. Getting prepared slides was easy. Prepared slides have the specimen and the cover slip permanently glued to the slide. I got the slide, put it in my pocket, and wheeled my way back to my table. A slide I prepare by cutting a thin piece of fruit, putting it on a slide, adding a drop of water and putting a cover slip over the wet fruit required imagination to move from the counter to my table. Which is across the room. The ability to hold onto a slide and the walker simultaneously is a useful skill. I managed. I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment.
This week, my leg is significantly less painful. I can take a shower standing up. I can get from the living room to the bathroom without using the walker. No, I can’t ditch the walker. I’ve tried. And regretted it each time when the pain returns.
Three weeks down, three to go. I will be bitching a whole lot for the next three weeks.
My psych meds have been tweaked so I can avoid serious depressive episodes. Last week, I had brain fog. This week, the fog is gone but I’m having a hard time remembering how to do things.
I finished another scarf. And I can’t stand long enough to block it and photograph it. And so it won’t go in my store for a while.
Having exhausted my supply of Shawl In A Cake yarns, I got out my hand dyed yarns. I did the hand dyeing. I knit a length of what looks like a scarf. Then I dye the length of what looks like a scarf. This requires measuring water, salt, dye and fixative and taking the bucket out to the back yard. Put the length of what looks like a scarf into the bucket and wait. Eventually, fetch the length of what looks like a scarf, rinse it, wash it, and let it dry. Then, I unravel the length of what looks like a scarf and wind it into a ball.
I worked out a lace pattern and I’m now knitting a for real scarf with one of my hand dyed yarns. Yes, this scarf will be priced accordingly.
I have sciatic pain. Apparently two major depressive episodes in three weeks is not healthy. The second episode was scary because I caught myself thinking being dead wouldn’t be so bad. I called my doctor and now have my psych meds tweaked. Meanwhile, I woke up in severe pain last week Monday. I couldn’t walk more than a few steps. I had to push a chair around because I didn’t have a walker.
Now, I have a few life adjustments. I use a walker and will likely need it for at least 4 more weeks. I have to consider how far I can walk. I tested out my walking ability in the grocery store this morning. I want to go back to school on Monday and I needed to know if I could walk from the shuttle stop to my class. I’m pretty sure I can get that far. I was afraid I’d get halfway to where I need to go, my leg would give out, and I’d be stuck. I’ve missed two weeks of school and I don’t think I can catch up. I know the grades don’t matter; I’m not working towards another degree. I’ve seen too many retired people taking classes and all they are doing is taking up a place in the class. I don’t want to be like that. I want to get as much as I can from my classes.
One of the main roads on campus is torn up. As in removed right down to the soil. I have to cross that road to get from one class to the other. I’m not looking forward to pushing a walker through an uneven, messy, wet, muddy road. I’m not looking forward to trying to get in and out of buildings that don’t have door openers. The university is asking the state for a few million dollars and one of the projects to be funded is $40,000 for a patio outside the football coach’s office. I’ve been taking classes since 2000 (I’m the poster child for the over educated) and in that time, I’ve seen only one student in a wheelchair and only one student using a walker.
If you ever need a walker, get one with a seat. I didn’t, and I’m regretting it. If I have to stand for any length of time, it sure would be helpful to have a seat on which to place my knee. My walker came last Friday. My cupholder came a few days later. That cupholder allows me to go to Starbucks by myself. Such a little thing but means so much to me. I’m used to being independent. Now, I have to wait for someone to open the door for me so I can get in and out of buildings.
We now have a collection of night lights. I got up in the middle of the night Friday night because my foot hurt and I wanted to get my TENs unit. I’m not sure how this happened. I lost my balance, went flying to the floor, banged my head on the wall, and scraped up my hand and arm. Then the lamp fell down on top of me. Jim had to rescue me. I have positional vertigo and I do what I call ear exercises. The exercises help to reset the fluid in my ears. I did my exercises after my deep tissue massage and I feel steadier. I’m not old enough to be this old.
Eating dinner at Chili’s was….interesting. The fellow who was about to seat us asked if we wanted to sit in the bar. I asked him if he saw me using a walker. He did. “Do you really think I can climb up on those stools?” If I gotta be disabled, I’ll make darned sure to educate people on how not to be stupid.
I so wanted to make something for Pi Day, March 14. But I couldn’t stand long enough to bake anything. I wanted to make decorated cookies for Hibernian Heritage Day. I’m that rare combination of Scott-Irish and Polish Jew. I can’t bring myself to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I can celebrate Hibernian Heritage Day. I still can’t stand long enough to make cut out cookies and decorate them. No, Jim doesn’t want to bake per my instructions. He likes his own version of baking. We have a running discussion on whose oatmeal cookies are better. Jim adds chili powder. I use dried cherries rather than raisins. Adding chocolate chips is also good.
I finished another scarf. I can’t stand long enough to block it or photograph it. On this one, I played around a bit. I had worked out the lace pattern for the blue scarf, and the lace pattern on this scarf is based on the blue scarf. I kicked it up a notch.
My doctor tweaked my meds. I go from 3 mood stabilizers a day to 6. I’m supposed to add another pill each week. I go from 1 antidepressant to 2. The change left me with brain fog. Yesterday was the first day I could think clearly since I increased the doses. I’m thinking waiting two weeks rather than one week between increases will make it easier to adjust. I feel….safer now. I’m not worried about sinking into a dangerous depression or becoming suicidal. I feel….solid. Like I’m not going to fall below center.
I can’t tell if I’m depressed or just royally pissed off. The muscles around my hips got tight enough to effect the sciatic nerve. I can’t get around without using a walker. I can’t take my vitamins because they are in a cupboard and I can’t reach them. I can get a glass out of the cupboard, but I can’t carry the glass to the sink to fill it with water. I can’t bring a drink from the kitchen to any part of the house because I need both hands to use the walker. My cupholder for the walker will arrive in a few days.
I didn’t go to school last week because I was waiting for my walker to be delivered. I won’t be going to school this week because about 98% of the buildings are inaccessible. I only know of one restroom that’s accessible. There’s an office set up to “help” accommodate students who have disabilities. Yeah, right. The office is only to protect the university in the event of a lawsuit. Even if the office actually gave a shit about students, they couldn’t help me. I’d need someone with me all day to open doors for me. The someone would have to be a woman so I could use the restroom. The restroom by my first class has two doors. One door gets you into a sitting room. The second door gets you into where the toilets are. There isn’t a handicap stall so I would be forced to use the toilet with the stall door open.
I’ve been working on a bag to tie onto the walker so I could carry stuff. I used three placemats piled onto my cutting mat so I could iron the seams. I am not sure I can put the bag together. I need to cut out a backing, cut out batting, and sew the whole works together. But…the batting is not in the sewing room. It’s in the guest room. I bought 10 yards a few years ago so I’d always have batting when I needed it. I can’t lug the batting to the sewing room because I need two hands on the walker. I can only walk a few steps without the walker. Cutting out an 18” x 36” piece of fabric requires standing up. I can only stand on my own for a minute or two before the pain in my leg becomes unbearable.
I need to photograph a scarf I knitted so I can put the scarf in my on-line store. But I can’t get the white board out of the closet and get it over to the sliding glass door and I can’t stand up while I focus the camera. This is the best I can do…and it’s not very good.
So much of my life right now is restricted. I see the world in terms of what I can’t do. I can’t make the bed. I can’t change the sheets. I can’t do laundry. I can’t put away my clothes after Jim washes them. I can’t stand while brushing my teeth or blowing my hair dry. I can’t bake because I can’t get the mixer or the ingredients out of the pantry.
My appointment with my doctor arrived before my walker was delivered. I got as far as the reception area where I could check in and doubled over from the pain. I think I may have traumatized the poor woman who asked if I was all right. No, I’m not all right. She offered to get me a wheelchair. Did you know that driving a wheelchair is a whole lot harder than it looks? I found that out real fast.
I found videos on Youtube for exercises to help with the pain of sciatica. The exercises work. I had a deep tissue massage yesterday and that helped. I have rice bags that I made. I put them in the microwave, then wrap the hot bags in a dishtowel. I put the bags under my right hip and right calf. That helps. I thought when we had the house built that a ledge in the shower was luxury. I thought it would only be used when I shave my legs. Now, I sit on that luxurious ledge in order to take a shower. Jim put a chair in the bathroom so I could brush my teeth and dry my hair.
Still, even with all the help, I can’t do so many things. I can’t fix myself a cup of tea and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t fix myself a bagel and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t cook because I can’t get ingredients out of the pantry. I can’t open a can of soup and nuke it. I can get up to nuking it if I can reach the proper size container, but I can’t carry my soup to the table.
This misery came about after two major depressive episodes within three weeks. The pain started last Sunday and got worse over the next few days. My doctor tweaked my meds with the hope that the new doses will keep the depressive episodes away.
I never let bipolar disorder or PTSD stop me from doing what I want to do. I almost never run from my PTSD triggers. The two exceptions are a series on Amazon Prime that deals with treatment of veterans who have PTSD. I could see a problem starting as we watched the show. Fortunately, the show sucked and we switched the channel before I had an attack. The other time I ran was watching the news. I couldn’t bear to hear a teenager express her admiration of her parents because they got her help when she was suicidal. I had to mute the TV.
I’ve never run from bipolar disorder.
Mental illness never kept me down. My sciatic nerve is keeping me from doing nearly all the things I want to do.
That’s why I don’t feel like slaying dragons today.
I don’t feel like doing anything. I don’t feel like making art. I don’t feel like studying although I enjoy my two botany classes. I don’t feel like reading. I just looked at a recipe for banana cake with maple cream cheese frosting. Certainly a combination of flavors that will be wonderful. I don’t feel like making the cake although I could probably be convinced to make the frosting and eat it with a spoon.
This was bothering me until I thought about the cause for the lack of ambition. In the last year, I’ve been through:
Deciding to commit suicide and coming back from the edge
Going on Cymbalta which I did reluctantly
Four infections in five months
Severe nerve pain
Having to report sexual harassment to the campus police
Having the joy sucked out of life and realizing the problem was Cymbalta
Coming off Cymbalta and going through horrendous withdrawal
Having cognitive deficits from the withdrawal and not being able to find the street where I live
Having so many withdrawal problems that I was sure I was going to be hospitalized so I drafted an advance psychiatric directive and packed a bag before I went to my appointment with my doctor
Having breakthrough bleeding and doing the research to find the causes, treatments and incidence of uterine cancer
Having to wait a month for a biopsy and another week for the results
Having severe anxiety resulting in many cookies and scarves
The dishwasher broke just after Thanksgiving
Someone I knew committed suicide
No sane person would have any ambition after all that.
I look back, and wonder how I managed when I was working for the Public Defender Department. I think part of survival was to do what I really shouldn’t do – ignore what’s going on inside of me and keep myself busy so I don’t feel much. Now, I don’t have an extreme stress and adrenaline job. Now, I have time to take care of myself and no excuse not to take care of myself.
In Sylvia Plath’s book The Bell Jar, she compares depression to being under a bell jar. From time to time, the bell jar lifts, but she knows it will always come back down. I had a mental health crisis this week. I sort of saw it coming on Wednesday night when I found myself thinking about suicide. The suicide rate for people with bipolar disorder is 20 times the rate for people who aren’t bipolar.
I am 20 times as likely to commit suicide as you. That’s terrifying.
Thursday morning, the anxiety and depression increased. I cried a lot. I needed an extra ½ pill of Wellbutrin. I needed to take all three klonopin. I’ve been on the same dose for klonopin for the last 12 years. Sometimes I don’t need klonopin. Sometimes, I need one or two. Thursday, I needed three to stop the flutters in my chest.
Today, I feel the bell jar coming back down. On Monday, I’ll call my doctor and talk to her about increasing my meds. I don’t like living like this. Suicide terrifies me and I want to live.
Bipolar disorder: the ability to feel like crap 80% of the time.
I’m still knitting to keep the anxiety down. Here’s my latest scarf and it’s in my store: Deb Thuman Art http://debthumanart.com
One of the tings I can do to make the bipolar crap go away is to immerse myself with art. Before, art was visual. This time, art is verbal. I’m working on the novel and just did a massive editing. I had Jim print out what I had written, and I went through the pages by hand. I’ll put all the changes into the computer when I finish editing. I’m playing around with an idea for something that I’ve never seen done before. Don’t know how well it’s going to work, but it’s an interesting exercise.
I’m also baking to keep the depression from getting any worse. I’m making croissants. Because of the time between turns and the amount of time the dough has to be in the refrigerator before I can turn it into croissants, I make the dough on Saturday and cut out, shape, and bake the croissants on Sunday morning.
I’m still woking my way to understanding and sanity. I’ve written more conversations that I’ll never say out loud and that no one will ever read. Maybe. Someday. Right now, the feelings are still too raw.
I’m closer to center, and I feel…solid. Like being centered is going to stay. Bipolar disorder is a lifetime full of mood surprises. I’ve no idea how long this solid feeling center will last. I do know that it won’t last. Sooner or late, I’ll have another mood surprise.
It’s from the Mayo Clinic and I trust this website to have decent information. There’s a whole lot of inaccurate junk on the internet. So much of what is described in the article is an accurate description of what I felt and continue to feel. I’m troubled by the knowledge that I was brought back from the edge of suicide by a thin thread. Depending on your theology, this was either pure luck or divine intervention. Jim and I went hiking and I suddenly felt good. When we got home, the good feeling left and I realized I was depressed. I went on antidepressants immediately. I had no idea I was depressed. Yeah, right, Deb. How the heck can you be suicidal and not know you’re depressed. It’s easy. And that terrifies me. At the time I was aware that I was having a manic episode. I wasn’t aware I was having a mixed episode where both intense mania and intense depression coexist. Why am I allowed to continue life and John wasn’t? I want the world to make sense, and the world doesn’t make sense. The world has never made sense and will never make sense. I read murder mysteries and watch TV police dramas even though I know the shows are inaccurate. The world makes sense in murder mysteries and on television. Innocent people don’t go to prison in novels. Innocent people go to prison in courtrooms every day.
My world doesn’t make sense and I can’t figure out how to make the world make sense. And so I knit. And bake. This week, I made puff pastry. Um…..I’m not wild about puff pastry. I suppose it has its uses, but I don’t care for it.
I’ve made another scarf and bought yarn for four more scarves. So far, I’ve made 11 scarves and sold 5 of them. This one is listed in my store Deb Thuman Artwww.debthumanart.com