Posted in Uncategorized

Getting Better Bit by Bit

To all who celebrate, Happy Easter.

To my Jewish friends Happy Passover.

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. 

Fence Rail Pattern
Churn Dash

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.

Posted in Baking, Fiber, Photography, Quilts, Sciatica

Dangerous Time

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. 

The bunnies…

And the pan…

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com. Stop by and see what other artists are creating.

If you’re looking for one of a kind art, please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com.

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Sciatica

A Dangerous Time

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.

Hand dyed cotton scarf.
Playing with cables
Working on designing lace patterns.
Closeup of lace pattern

I’m linking with Nina Marie ,http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

If you are looking for one of a kind art pieces, please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art,www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, Garden, Photography

Getting Better

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.

I’m linking with Nina Mariehttp://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for one of a kind gifts? Please visit my store, Deb Thuman Art www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Fiber, Pain, Psych meds

98% Of The World Is Not Accessible

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’m linking with Nina Marie here: http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for cool, one of a kind fiber art or jewelry? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art, http://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Rolling On

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’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for some cool, one of a kind art? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com.

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Depression, Fiber, Pain, PTSD, Sciatica

Some days, I just don’t feel like slaying dragons.

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 can’t.

I can’t.

I can’t.

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’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for one of a kind art? Please stop by my store Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Depression, Psych meds, Suicide

Here’s Why I Have No Ambition

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

I’ve Got The Browns

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 linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Looking for a great gift? A treat for yourself? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Depression, Fiber, Grief, Suicide

Feeling Better, still…upset? Sad? Angry?

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.

I did a google search to find a way to make sense of suicide and came across this site:https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900

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

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Stop by and see what other artists are doing.http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Depression, Grief, Suicide

Writing my way back to center

My psych meds keep me alive. Literally. After a depression so severe that I decided killing myself was a rational decision, had worked out how when and where, and by divine intervention realized I had to go back on antidepressants, I decided I’d never again discontinue Wellbutrin. I had good reasons for going off Wellbutrin. I was having hallucinations. I had left a toxic work environment three years prior. Maybe I could get by with just my mood stabilizer.

And then someone I knew killed himself. I’m still reeling. I’m not crying as much, but I haven’t recovered. I still have questions about why I’m alive and he isn’t. I still have no appetite. Fortunately, I’m seriously overweight so not having an appetite isn’t a health issue and won’t be for several more months.

Earlier this week, I tried writing out my feelings. It’s a written piece that I can’t share now and doubt I’ll ever share. It’s too personal. Too raw. It almost helped. Or rather it helped for a few days.

The depressive episode arrived this past Monday. I saw my psychologist on Tuesday. It didn’t help. The depression lifted – I though – on Wednesday. It came roaring back yesterday. The usual depression cures didn’t work. Jim and I went to a kitchen store in El Paso. Kitchen stores, even if I don’t buy anything, reliably lift the depression. Not this time.

I’m working on more scarves. Knitting the scarves helped me through the intense anxiety while waiting for doctors appointments, biopsy appointment, results showing I don’t have cancer. It’s not working this time.

I tried baking my way out of this depression. I found a recipe for chocolate cutout cookies and tried piping royal icing. I need to listen to myself. I thought that icing was too stiff. I was right but by then, the icing was in the pastry bag and there was no going back. And I was out of powdered sugar so I couldn’t start over.

I love botany. That’s what I concentrated on in college. Botany and microbiology. The smaller things get, the more fascinating things are. I am taking two botany classes this semester: structure and function of plants and plant physiology. Same text book for both classes. One set of studying for two classes. What could be better? Except I’m depressed and don’t care about the classes.

I have the blood spatter on the background fabric for a quilt about the murders in the synagog in Pittsburgh last fall. I can’t bring myself to work on the quilt.

So I sit here. Depressed. Knowing I need to read the textbook for my classes next week. Knowing I need to at least read over my notes for a test on Monday. Not wanting to do anything. Knowing I have to wait out this depressive episode. Knowing there’s no shortcut. No cure. No relief. Just tears.

At least I did laundry and will have clean underwear next week.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Stop by and see what other artists are making http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Looking for one of a kind jewelry? Scarves? Seam ripper? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art https://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Fiber

A Bit of Shameless Self Promotion

Art heals. The day before Thanksgiving, I started having breakthrough bleeding. I’m well past menopause and I knew this was serious. I did the research. I knew the incidence of cancer for each of four typed of hyperplasia. I was terrified enough that even after 40 years of insisting I’d never see another male gynecologist, I agreed to see a male gynecologist. I would have been put on a waiting list if I had insisted on a woman gynecologist. On December 20, I had a biopsy. Although I had two indicators and four risk factors for uterine cancer, the cheap bean counters at my HMO waited until December 19 to authorize the biopsy. On December 28, I learned I didn’t have cancer. On January 20, I finally stopped bleeding.

Through all that, I chose to knit. And knit. And knit. So far, I’ve finished 8 scarves and sold 2. Knitting helped.

Last week, I went to a funeral. He had committed suicide. I bought three more balls of yarn.

I have an online store, and I’ve put the finished scarves in my online store Deb Thuman Art http://debthumanart.com

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com.  Stop by and see what other artists are doing. 

Posted in Emotions, Grief, Judiasm, Suicide

Post Funeral Thoughts

A deputy I knew and worked with committed suicide. I don’t know why, but this has hit me incredibly hard. I spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday crying. I wasn’t sure I would attend the funeral because I didn’t think I could hold myself together. I’ve still got that memory in my head where my mother yells at me to stop crying. Didn’t take me long to learn I needed to keep my feelings to myself.

I ironed my funeral clothes and figured that was a sign I should go to the funeral. The visitation was before the funeral and I arrived at the start of the visitation. Fortunately, or probably as a practical matter, the casket was closed. A US flag covered the casket. I had planned on having a private chat with the late deputy. Most of the chat took place in the car while I was waiting for the viewing to start. I said things in my head that I couldn’t say aloud. Things from deep inside of me. So deep light rarely reaches them.

When I got up to the casket, I put my hand on the casket and gave a silent wish…. Shalom. It’s a Hebrew word that means peace. Not just the absence of war, but an all encompassing peace that reaches to the depths of your soul. I had tried a couple times the days before the funeral to say kaddish. I couldn’t get through the prayer.

A cruel cosmic joke would be that after suicide, we’re just as depressed and hurting as before we pulled the trigger.   

I patted the casket and heard a clank. Metal casket and I must have brought my hand down too hard. Per the obit, he’s going to be cremated. I hope that casket was a rental because buying a casket for someone who is to be cremated is silly.

I wonder if the casket is empty. Just for show and the body is about to be cremated.

As we waited for the funeral to begin, we could watch a montage of photographs of his life. One photo was of a younger version of him with his very young daughter. The love he had for her was obvious. 

You had the world by the ass. You obviously loved your daughter and granddaughter. You had friends. You had a life outside of work. You had work you loved. Why did you kill yourself?

So many smiles in the photos. Every time I saw him, he was smiling. He was always so nice to me.

Why didn’t you let one of us know you were hurting?  

Actually, I know why he didn’t let anyone know.

Or did you leave me a clue when you asked me, “Don’t you just love our fucking society?” I’m so sorry; I never understood it was a clue. Please come back and let me make it up to you.

Suicide, when you’re that depressed, seems rational. Why ask for help with a rational decision?

I could have helped you. I’ve danced on the same road. It hurts so much knowing I could have helped you and I never had the chance. 

I held myself together through the funeral. I fell apart during the last radio call.

Goddamn it! Why did you do this? 

The piper, who played the bagpipes particularly well, played Amazing Grace and I composed myself. Kind of like composing a song only different. I was fine until deputies started hugging me and I started crying again.

If you’re reading this and thinking suicide is a rational option, please do a favor for the people who know and love you: TELL SOMEONE. Thinking death is a good idea means something is very wrong. Go to the hospital. If no one offers to take you, go by yourself. Proper medication gave me back my life. Proper medication will do the same for you.

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Posted in Emotions, Grief, Judiasm, Suicide

And so it goes…..

“One day Richard Cory went home and put a bullet through his head.” 

A deputy I knew, worked with and liked killed himself last Friday. Baruch dyan ha’emet. Blessed is the true judge. 

When I read the article in the paper this morning, my first though was had I known, I could have helped him. Except that’s not how suicide works. Jim and a close friend didn’t know I was suicidal until I told them I had a detailed plan to kill myself. 

The problem with suicide is it feels normal. It doesn’t feel like depression. It feels like a rational decision. Now, the decision to kill myself feels terrifying. Then, it felt normal. 

I don’t know any of the private parts of this man’s life. I know he loved the work he was doing. Doing work one loves is rare and wonderful. I know he was full of a high-power, fast oscillating energy. It’s hard to explain, but I could feel this energy when I worked with him. It didn’t feel like a negative energy. It felt more like it was a part of him – something that made him who he was. I’ve never met anyone else with that kind of energy. Now, that energy is gone. He’s gone. I feel like he threw his life away.  Except I know that’s not how suicide feels. Suicide feels right. Rational.

I want to hold on to the stupid generalities people have about suicide; except I can’t.

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” No, suicide is larger than that. 

“He had his whole life ahead of him.” Someone who is 95 has her whole life ahead of her. 

“He threw his life away.” No, he made a rational, or what felt to him like a rational decision. 

Oddly, I don’t feel plagued by why. Why did he kill himself? I know when I was suicidal, I thought killing myself was a good decision. I put several weeks of thought into killing myself. I suspect he did, too. Why? Because life was too painful to be lived. Because suicide felt like a good decision. Because he couldn’t find the door. That’s what I mourn. That I never had a chance to help him find the door. 

Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru, Amein.
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace, upon us and upon all Israel. Now say: Amen.

Shalom, John. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Posted in Baking, Photography

Round Bread With Seeds & Croissants

I’m from western New York and now live in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I miss good baked goods. If I want a really good bagel, I have to make it myself. If I want really good rye bread, I have to make it myself. If I want really good sourdough, I have to make it myself. If I want to keep the anxiety level down to manageable, I bake.

This weekend’s baking included sourdough bread with King Arthur Flour Harvest Blend seeds. Jim had asked me to make “the round bread with seeds” because he bought a life-time supply of tuna fish on sale. I’m allergic to seafood, so he has to not only eat all the tuna fish, but also make the tuna fish spread. I can’t tolerate the smell. He’s partial to tuna fish sandwiches.

Finding a good croissant in New Mexico isn’t easy. So I made croissants this weekend. I learned how to make the multi layers of dough and butter. I sort of learned how to cut the dough to shape into croissants. I rolled the triangles of dough up and gave them a bit of a bend. I took them out of the oven, and discovered the richest croissant I’ve ever had. I’ll put that in context. I’ve eaten croissants in Quebec City. I’ve eaten croissants from Wegmans where the store recipe won over other croissants in Paris. I’ve eaten croissants in a French pastry shop in Miami – French enough that I could order my food in French. None of them, although tasty, were as rich as the croissants I made. I used the recipe in my pastry chef book. This is the first recipe I’ve tried from this book and if all the baked goods are this rich, I’ll have to have at least two weeks between pastry explorations.

For my next batch of croissants, I’ll have them proof longer. I let them proof for an hour, which is the time I use for all my breads. Alas, I neglected to factor in time for the croissants to come up to room temperature. Croissant dough has to spend quality time in the refrigerator between each turn and before shaping. I had some butter leakage which indicates I didn’t let the croissants proof long enough. I had thought I didn’t roll the dough thin enough, but the videos on youtube show croissant dough about as thick as mine. I’ll also lower the oven temp a touch and I’ll bake them for a bit shorter time. The bottoms were a bit over done. And maybe I can even learn to take better food photographs by the time I make the next batch although it’s difficult to concentrate on photography while smelling right from the oven croissants.

img_0020

Looking for something unique? Check out my store, Deb Thuman Art, here.

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Posted in Baking, Emotions, Fiber

Of Many Things…..

School started this past Wednesday. There’s a whole lot more in a single plant cell now than there was when I was in college. Thank the scanning electron microscope. I’m taking two botany courses, and all this new to me stuff in the cell is making these two classes reminiscent of my cell biology class in college. I very badly wanted to go to college, but wasn’t allowed to. College makes you stupid. That’s what my mother and her husband insisted. I started college shortly after my 25thbirthday. With no high school math and no high school science, I struggled. A lot. Now, I’m struggling. A lot. Fortunately, the grade doesn’t matter. I’m still studying, though.

Baking helps with my anxiety. Fortunately, college kids will eat anything so I have an audience for extra baked goods. I’ve been wanting to learn piping. The Food Network shows make piping look so easy. It’s not. I gave it a try this morning. I’ve discovered if I want to fill in the outline with royal icing, I need to dilute the royal icing so it will flow better. I discovered the clip I used to keep the top of the pastry bag closed didn’t do such a good job and I ended up with frosting bulging out the top of the bag. I discovered some tips are only for buttercream frosting. They don’t work well with royal icing – the shaping doesn’t hold up and everything looks like it came out of a round tip. I’ll keep trying and eventually will get better. I love the look of fancy frosted cookies and some day, my cookies will look like the photographs. I used a rum sugar cookie recipe and I put some lime juice powder in the icing to cut the sweetness of the icing. I think next time, I’ll use more lime juice powder. You can order lime juice powder here.

royal icing 1-20-19

My pastry chef book finally arrived on Friday. You can see the book here. I had ordered it on December 16. I love the book, but I dislike the vendor. I have my mail sent to a post office box. The vendor ships via UPS which wasn’t indicated when I ordered the book. There was no tracking number provided so I had no idea the book wasn’t shipped until I sent an email complaining that I never got the book. Per the vendor, they tried three times to get my physical address. Nope. Not even once. Ellenbooks was the vendor. Don’t buy anything from them. I didn’t bother to look at their ratings before I ordered the book. I’m not the only frustrated customer. In fact, less than 50% of the customers had anything good to say about them.

The book has recipes given in weight rather than volume. Fortunately, I already had a food scale. The recipes tend to be for huge portions but the author suggest the recipes can be cut in half or in quarters and they will still work. Jim looked though the book and picked out pies for me to make. On the baking agenda is sweet potato pie. I have my eye on pear upside down cake. I went online to find a recipe for a small batch of royal icing. The recipe in the book makes 6 cups of icing. I couldn’t bake enough cookies to use up 6 cups of icing if I baked all week.

Reading through the book, I discovered how all the contestants on Holiday Baking Championship are able to make all that good stuff without a recipe. Turns out there are basic recipes for pastry that can be tweaked and adapted a zillion ways.

I’m still working my way through the yarn I bought to keep the anxiety level sort of down. I’m nearly finished with one scarf and I have one ball of yarn to go. Oddly, while I had so much stress waiting for a biopsy then waiting for results, I made few mistakes in my knitting. This scarf has caused me to rip out rows at least twice each knitting session and usually 3-4 times.

We’re binge watching NYPD Blue. The law is a tad loose – in NY, once the right to counsel has been invoked, it cannot be waived except in the physical presence of an attorney. The script ignores that. One thing that may not be well known is that the antics and forced confessions on the show really were being done in the mid-90s when the show was first aired. Since then, the police have been steadily recording more and more encounters and confessions. This has led to better policing and fewer confessions tossed out by the judge.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

Looking for a special, one-of-a-kind gift? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art, here.