Posted in Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Masks, Quilts, & Photos

I am having a neuropathy flare up. Bleah. The pain goes away when I make art. The pain comes back as soon as I stop making art. 

I’ve been making face masks using up leftover fabric. I make many yards of binding at a time. Each mask takes two ties 34” long. Making binding isn’t my most favorite thing to do, so making miles of binding at one time means I only have to burn my fingers once every couple days. 

These are in my store, Deb Thuman Art http://www.DebThumanArt.com

I’ve been designing fabric which can’t be sold in my Spoonflower shop, https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/deb_thuman  until I have proofs of the designs. What to do with 90 proofs? Make reversible face masks. One down and 14 more to go. As I finish them and photograph them, I’ll be putting them in my store, Deb Thuman Art. This one is in my store now.

Reversible Face Mask

I’m still photographing spring in the desert. 

Yucca
Seed Pods.
Prickly Pear

I’ve been working on the suicide quilt. I’ve gotten the appliqués sewn on. Now, I have to figure out how I want to quilt it. This piece is larger than my usual quilts. Most of the time, I am making art quilts the size of a fat quarter.

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

Posted in Beads, Fiber, Jewelry, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Life In The Time of Coronavirus

My age puts me at high risk for death by coronavirus. I haven’t gone anywhere since March 14. The university shut down at close of classes on March 13. That gives us an extra week of spring break. Not that we can go anywhere for spring break. I had planned to go to Truth or Consequences for a day and do some shooting. Fear has kept me home. When the university “reopens” on March 30, all classes will be online. Students who left the dorms for spring break will not be allowed back on campus. Commuter students aren’t allowed back, either. Jim has to go in to work every day. We don’t know why. There won’t be another play this semester. There are no sets to build. He’s been cleaning and organizing the scene shop.

At the moment, the New Mexico Department of Health is telling us that there are 65 cases of coronavirus in the state. That number is dangerously misleading. For two weeks, testing was only done in the northern part of the state. Dona Ana County where I live has more than 100,000 residents. Las Cruces, the state’s third largest city, is about 40 miles north of the US/Mexican border. Apparently we don’t count. Testing wasn’t done until March 20, and the testing site ran out of kits in less than two hours. The Department of Health sent another, more generous supply of kits for Saturday. 350 kits. We’re told we can’t be tested unless we’re symptomatic and that results won’t be ready for 7-10 days. Why bother with testing? By the time the results arrive, the person is either dead or better. How many people around me are carriers? Isolate the carriers and stop this virus.

I’ve made Jim and I masks. I’d photograph them, but Jim has them. This is good. Provided he’s actually wearing one. Spring in New Mexico comes with WIND. Lots and lots and lots of WIND. Pollen, spores, dust, desert crap blow around and enter our noses. Both of us are having allergy attacks. I’m thinking that perhaps the mask will keep out pollen, dust and desert crap while I’m outside.

My excursions now are walking around my yard photographing the progress of the claret cup cactus blooms.

Oddly, each clump of claret cup cactus seems to have its own blooming schedule although all the clumps are in full sun.

I’m still working on playing with photos and using them for fabric designs.

I get a lot of mileage out of a boring shot.

My Spoonflower shop, with photos of fabric designs that are for sale, is here https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/deb_thuman

I’ve been making jewelry as an antidote to peripheral neuropathy pain.

I still need to learn how to use focus stacking in my Canon 90D. One of the reasons I wanted this camera is to do focus staking in the camera rather than trying to figure out how to do it in editing. The problem is I’m having a neuropathy flare up and I’m not sleeping at night. Last night, I woke up in pain at 2:00. By the time the pain subsided enough that I could go back to bed and get some sleep, it was 4:30. I woke up promptly at noon. Mornings are generally wind free. Afternoons we have WIND. I’d prefer to do photography outside when there’s little or no WIND.

Once I learn how to do focus stacking, I can list the jewelry I’ve been making in my store, Deb Thuman Art http://www.DebThumanArt.com

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

Posted in Baking, Beads, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

My Brain Is Full

It’s International Woman’s Day. We’ve come a long way since Catherine Greene had to have Eli Whitney put his name on the patent for the cotton gin she invented. A long way since Watson & Crick ripped off Linus Pauling’s research, and took credit and the Nobel prize for Rosalynd Franklin’s work with x-ray crystallography which showed DNA is a double helix. A long way since I was told, time after time after time, “We hired a woman once. She didn’t work out so we don’t hire women anymore.” A long way since I had to terrorize the banker who demanded I use Jim’s last name to apply for a credit card. I told him my next stop was the NY State Department of Human Rights to file a formal complaint. He decided to let me have a credit card in my name. A long way since I had to file a formal complaint against an employer because I was paid less than the man who had the same job. Mine was the first law school class at SUNY Buffalo that was 50% women. It only took 101 years to reach that mark. Someday, we’ll have equality.

I made two more pairs of yoga pants. I can buy 10 yard of cotton lycra from Dharma Trading for $10 more than a pair of ready-to-wear yoga pants. I can make 5 pair of yoga pants from 10 yard of fabric. I dyed one pair yellow and the other an intense purple. I failed to mix the purple dye sufficiently and my pants have red spots. It’s a design element. Design: what happens when the dye batch turns out different from what’s expected. 

Here in southern New Mexico, it normally rains during July-September. The rest of the year is sunny and dry. We’ve been having rain lately. Today, it’s cold, damp, raining, and we have fog. Perfect photography weather. I had read all the geology homework my brain could hold. Perfect time for photography.

There’s a mountain behind those raindrops. Look carefully and you’ll see a foggy outline.

I played a bit with composition in this shot. I haven’t decided if I like it.

A more successful shot from earlier in the week.

I’m having another peripheral neuropathy flare-up. I spent nearly three hours last night making necklaces before the pain went away. When we have a sunny day again, I’ll learn how to do focus stacking so I can get all of the necklace in focus. With the Canon 90D, I can do focus stacking in the camera.

I’m having fun playing around with my photos and coming up with fabric designs.

I made croissants today. The recipe I have makes about 12 croissants which is way too many for two people. The last time I made croissants, I cut the dough in half after the final turn and froze one half. I thawed and baked that half today. Turns out, croissant dough freezes quite well.

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

My Spoonflower Store is here: https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/deb_thuman

My on-line store, Deb Thuman Art is here: http://www.DebThumanArt.com

Posted in Pain, Peripheral neuropathy

Lately It’s Occurred to Me…..

I’ve said for years that medical marijuana is nonsense. So many of my drug addicted clients paid a quack $100-$200, said s/he had an owie, and got a medical marijuana card. Locally, there’s a place where, for $125, you can be diagnosed – in 10 minutes – with PTSD and get a medical marijuana card. All you have to do is memorize a few of the symptoms listed in the DSM-V. 

Having a medical marijuana card still leaves a basket full of legal problems. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug meaning it has a high probability for abuse and little or no medical benefit. Before you tell me marijuana is wonderful, safe, shouldn’t be illegal, is never addicting and you smoke it every night so you can get to sleep, walk in my legal briefs for a day. One client, who wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant, gave birth 13 weeks early. Her baby had severe medical problems due to being so premature. The baby was also born addicted to crack. The child protective worker told me to talk my client into signing a do not resuscitate order for the baby who was in and would never leave the NICU. In a moment of amazing self control, I refrained from asking the child protective worker why I shouldn’t throw the child protective worker out the window. We were only on the fourth floor. Maybe she would have lived. The only thing I could do for my client was to delay the proceedings long enough that the baby died so there was no point in continuing the child abuse case. Another client, a child, had problems that would never be solved. Her parents used prior to, and still used at the time of the hearing, cocaine. The damage done to the child while in utero cannot be undone. At least not with the medical capabilities we now have. 

Although the DEA isn’t going after users of medical marijuana today, that can change. Having a medical marijuana card doesn’t protect you from being fired for illegal drug use. There’s federal case law on that. The rational is that marijuana is illegal under federal law therefore employers can legally fire an employee who tests positive for THC. 

There is no full faith and credit for a medical marijuana card. Full faith and credit means every state recognizes the court order or legality of something. If you get married in one state, every other state will acknowledge your marriage.  If you have a child custody order, the terms of that order are enforceable in every state. Your medical marijuana card is only valid in the state in which it was issued. You can’t take your medical marijuana across state lines and expect your card and stash to be recognized. If you get caught, you will face drug charges. 

I’m about to do something I don’t believe in. I’m desperate. Peripheral neuropathy is painful. When I have a flare up, nothing stops the pain. Not gabapentin. Not a TENS unit. Not synthetic opioids. Not CBD oil. Not acupuncture. I take my gabapentin, make a CBD oil capsule and swallow it, and wear my TENS unit to bed. I wake up in pain 2-3 hours later. Then I wander around the house for another hour waiting for the pain to subside before going back to bed and getting a couple hours’ sleep before the alarm rings. I cannot live like this. 

I have an appointment with my doctor in a week and a half. I have copies of three nerve conduction studies done by three doctors over a period of five years showing I have nerve damage and the damage is getting progressively worse. New Mexico will give a medical marijuana card for a number of reasons, including peripheral neuropathy if I can show proof of the nerve damage and have a doctor sign off on the special form to obtain a medical marijuana card. I will ask my doctor to sign the form. If she is reluctant to do that, I will go to the local quack, hand over $100 and copies of the nerve conduction studies. The quack will sign the form. The form and copies of the nerve conduction series get mailed to Santa Fe and in a month, I will get a card allowing me to buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries. I will buy gummy bears. The next time I get a flare up, I’ll chew on a gummy bear, listen to Grateful Dead music, and hope I’m wrong about medical marijuana being nonsense.

What a long, strange trip it’s going to be. 

Posted in Beads, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Making Art is Exhausting, But It Kills the Pain.

The only reliable pain killer for peripheral neuropathy, at least for me, is to make art. I’ve been working on my iPad using my iPencil. I played around and started working on an abstract self portrait. If I get the drawing worked out, I may turn it into a quilt. 

I’ve also been making jewelry, ordering beads, and making more jewelry. 

Thank God for rechargeable batteries or it would have been an expensive weekend. My macro lens arrived on Thursday and I started working with it on Friday. I needed a macro lens to get clear close up shots of the jewelry I make. This lens is my first prime lens – meaning it only shoots at one focal length, 90mm.

I spent Friday taking close up shots of my jewelry. I spent Saturday taking better close up shots and taking shots of the full piece of jewelry.

I spent Sunday taking better full shots of each piece of jewelry. Then, I edited the photos, wrote copy, and put each piece into my online store.

I finally finished the quilted tote bags and got some decent shots. Those also went into my online store. 

Now, I’m exhausted. 

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

Looking for cool fiber art or jewelry? Please stop by my store http://www.DebThumanArt.com.

Posted in Beads, Fiber, Jewelry, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Art As A Pain Killer

I’m having a neuropathy flare up. Meds aren’t helping. CBD oil isn’t helping. Art is the only thing that reliably kills the pain. And so I made more necklaces. 

I did a bit of experimenting when I was shooting the necklaces. I took the photos a couple hours before sundown. One set was shot in the sun, the other set shot in the shade. The photos shot in the sun suck. Horrible orange cast. Horrible shadows even though I used a flash. The second set of photos I shot in the shade. Still not quite what I want, but a whole lot better than the first batch of shots. 

Shot in the sun.

I finally finished the quilted laptop totes and took photos. I’m not wild about the photos. The original version of these quilted totes was designed so I could carry my 15-inch laptop, charging cable, and computer glasses to and from Starbucks. The totes are practical for a whole lot more than just transporting a laptop. As soon as I get decent photos, these will go in my store. 

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

Looking for cool art? Stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art, http://www.DebThumanArt.com 

Posted in Clay, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography, Quilts

I’m Not Old Enough To Be This Old

My friends have been telling me I need to slow down and that I keep trying to do too much. I should have paid attention. Now, whether I like it or not, I have to slow down. 

Jim has two tears in his rotator cuff and needs surgery. One tear is “medium” and the other “major.” We’re waiting for workers comp to approve the surgery. Once Jim has surgery, he won’t be able to move his arm for 6 weeks.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on little ceramic trays because they are a huge seller for me. I’ve got a fully-manual, gas fired, top loading kiln. I’m short. The kiln is deep. Jim has always loaded and unloaded the kiln for me. There’s concern that I won’t be able to load the kiln by myself. Jim won’t be able to load the kiln at all. I’ve got two dozen little trays made. They need to be bisque fired, glazed and glaze fired.

I was looking forward to setting up at the weekly farmers market in November and December. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is a remarkably profitable day for me. Jim helps me with the market. I could probably get the EZ-Up set up by myself – provided I did enough swearing. What I cannot do is drive the truck. The truck is a standard and because of the peripheral neuropathy, I can no longer feel the clutch. It’s too dangerous for me to drive the truck. The EZ-Up won’t fit in the car. Worse, we needed both vehicles to get everything – EZ-Up, tables, jewelry, ceramics, fiber art – to the market. Setting up at the farmers market this year won’t happen.

Jim won’t be able to drive the Mini, also a standard or the truck because he won’t be able to move his right arm. So much for shifting. My car is an automatic. We’re going to be a one-car couple with wildly different schedules. We have gym memberships, but we don’t go to the same gym. I picked the gym that’s right on the way from school to the post office where I get all my mail. Very convenient. It’s not convenient for Jim which is why he has his membership at a different gym. Jim works at the local university and I get to take up to six credits for free each semester. At least we’ll be going to the same place. I’ve got classes two days a week. Although I’d love to have an 8:00 class, just about no one teaches an 8:00 class. Jim has to be at work at 7:30. My classes are both in the building next to the library so I’ll have something to do for three and a half hours before class. I’ll need to find something to do for two hours after classes and we can go home together. I have a feeling I’m going to be doing a lot of hand quilting this semester. There’s only so much studying I can do before my eyes fall out of my head.

I have my online store, Deb Thuman Art. I was considering making laptop totes to sell. Fiber art is easy and relatively inexpensive to ship. I never have to worry about fiber art getting broken. I don’t sell ceramic pieces online because of the chance of breakage and the cost of shipping. I now need to spend quality time making laptop totes. My sewing machine was in the shop for its 60,000 mile checkup and I brought it back home Thursday. I need to pick out fabrics from my 3 miles of fabric collection then start piecing a laptop tote.

I physically cannot do the things I want to do so I will have to learn to slow down. This slowing down is going to take some getting used to.

Wednesday evening, there was weird light outside so I grabbed the camera.

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

Please visit my store, Deb Thuman Art. http://DebThumanArt.com

Posted in Cognitive problems, Fiber, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Getting My Brain Back

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. 

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

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

Posted in Baking, Emotions, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

An Assortment Of Thoughts

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. 

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

Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art www.debthumanart.comand check out my art. 

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 bipolar disorder, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Photos, Meds, And Secrets

More med adjustment. Wellbutrin is now replaced by Cymbalta. The point of Cymbalta is to relieve the neuropathy pain. It’s an antidepressant which, for some odd reason, helps with nerve pain. Sort of. It sort of helps me. I’m still having to take gabapentin and still having to sleep with a TENS unit attached to me. Cymbalta is acting like Prozac. I can only take it every other day and I have no appetite. The no appetite part is difficult because I have to take antibiotics for another week and I have to take them with food.

I make no secret about being bipolar, and I’m finding people who have mental illnesses are willing to ask me about medication. While I don’t mind the questions, I do mind that these people are firmly in the closet. I never have and never will out anyone. Still, the stigma of mental illness isn’t going to go away until we all come out of the closet. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26% of the population in the US has a diagnosed mental illness. This doesn’t count the number of people who haven’t been diagnosed. The next time you are in a room with 4 or more people, do the math. I’m in a class with 20 other students. Per the math, at least 4 other students have a mental illness. We are everywhere. Even if you aren’t aware of our mental illnesses, we are everywhere.

Jim and I did some hiking during spring break and went to Bosque del Apache on the “spring holiday.” Spring holiday is the politically correct version of Good Friday. Oddly, the spring holiday falls on Good Friday every year. Funny how that happens.

I bought a new lens for the Canon. Tamron 18-400mm. I wanted an all-in-one lens because changing lenses in the field when one is in a desert is not a good thing to do. Sand, dirt, dust, and crud aren’t good things to have inside your camera. I also didn’t want to schlep lenses every time I go hiking. The more I use this lens, the more I like this lens. Jim kept borrowing my camera so I have no idea who took what shots. Here’s the best of the lot.

Jim and I did some hiking at Aguirre Springs and White Sands during spring break and went to Bosque del Apache on the “spring holiday.” Spring holiday is the politically correct version of Good Friday. Oddly, the spring holiday falls on Good Friday every year. Funny how that happens.

Aguirre Springs.

Aguire Springs 14

East side of the Organ Mountains. Aguirre Springs 7

Bunny Ears of the Organ Mountains.

White Sands National MonumentWhite Sands 1

Where the white gypsum sand meets the desert. The white part in the middle is a dry lake. White Sands 3

It’s amazing how much grows on the white sand which is really powdered gypsum.

White Sands 7

Once vegetation takes root, the dune becomes solid.

Bosque del Apache.

Bosque del Apache 1 3-31-18Bosque del Apache 3Bosque del Apache 4 3-31-18 Cropped

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.   Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Please visit my online store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Fiber, Peripheral neuropathy, Quilts

Closer To Bipolar Normal

Settling back to the kind of normal that’s possible with bipolar disorder. Yesterday, I had a manic episode. It was a small one. I couldn’t calm down. Doing things to try to get rid of the nervous energy, like vacuuming the living room and sucking up the cobweb in the corner, only made me more anxious. I tried art. Didn’t work. I took my anti-anxiety med. Kind of worked.

In desperation, I decided that I would continue working on the next nerve quilt. This one is about regeneration. I decided I was done screwing around trying to find the PERFECT DESIGN, and decided the design I had worked out said what I needed it to say. I decided I was done trying to find the PERFECT COLOR COMBINATION and decided the fabrics I picked out worked well and said what I needed them to say. I cut and pinned. I wanted to start sewing down pieces, but my sewing room doesn’t have good light and I wasn’t sure I was seeing the thread colors correctly. Today, I’ll look at the threads I’ve picked out and make a decision. Then, I’ll start raw edge applique and start some embroidery with Razzle Dazzle.

Nerve regeneration 2 3-23-18

Nerves regenerate. If an axon is damaged or dies, the nerve cell can grow a new axon. Or grow new dendrites. It’s called plasticity. The last nerve conduction study showed that the nerve cells in my lower legs had grown new axons. I got all kinds of plasticity going on inside of me and my nerves are regenerating. The neurologists who smile at me and hand me prescriptions for more useless drugs are, as I suspected, full of shit.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

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

Posted in Baking, Beads, Cognitive problems, Emotions, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

The Coffee Cake Cupcakes Were Good

I’m doing better, but it was a horrible week. I had a nerve conduction study on Tuesday. I wasn’t afraid of what it would show; I was terrified of what it wouldn’t show. If the study showed tarsal tunnel, I’d be fine. That can be corrected surgically. If the study showed it wasn’t tarsal tunnel, I’d be stuck being in pain with not relief.

When the neuropathy flares, the pain routinely hits 7. The last time, it was bad enough that suicide looked like a good idea. I even planned out how I would do it. I’ve got a .22 calibre pistol. The advantage of a .22 is that it bounces around inside and cases more damage than a 9mm. I figured I’d use hollow point ammunition. Hollow point bullets are designed to flare upon impact and damage more tissue. If I held the pistol about an inch to the left of my breast bone, I’d be sure to blow a nasty, as opposed to nice, hole in my heart. I figured I’d have only one shot at killing myself and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to survive this shot. Naturally I’d do this outside so Jim wouldn’t be stuck cleaning up a mess in the house. Then I came up with a better idea. I’d go back to the neurology clinic at University of New Mexico and tell whatever neurologist was handy that I was tired of being ignored, I was tired of neurologists refusing to find out why I’m in pain and I was tired of being handed yet another prescription for yet another useless drug. So, if you can’t be bothered listening, let me put this in words you won’t be able to ignore. Bang. Why should Jim have to clean up any of the mess? Maybe, just maybe, one of those genius neurologists would start to listen to patients. And if not, at least I wouldn’t be in pain any more. I would just have to remember to tell Jim not to accept my body. Let the state pay for the cremation.

That scared the shit out of me.

The closer it got to the nerve conduction study, the more anxiety I had, the more depression I had, and the more terrified I was that I was going to have to commit suicide. I had Jim come to the appointment with me in case I needed him to talk me out of buying bullets on the way home.

One of the ways I deal with anxiety is to cook or to make art. I found a recipe for sourdough coffee cake and made coffee cake cupcakes. I brought them to my neurobiology class on Tuesday morning. The class enjoyed them. Then I started working on a quilt. More about the quilt in a few paragraphs.

When I got to the doctor’s office Tuesday afternoon, I filled out a good dozen pages of history and information. I had to list my allergies on at least three pages. I had to answer how much I agreed or disagreed with a list of statements.

“I enjoy talking to attractive people.” I wrote: You’ve got to be kidding me.

I spent an entire page writing about being suicidal and having a working plan for killing myself. I warned Jim that someone would probably be talking to him about me being suicidal. I expected to be sequestered in a room and have a police officer come in and try to convince me to go to a hospital. There are three ways to get someone into a mental hospital. Voluntarily go; commitment by court order; or if the person has committed an offense for which the person could be arrested, the police could take the person to a mental hospital for a mental exam without order of the court.

Under no circumstances would I voluntarily go to a mental hospital. I’ve visited friends inside of locked wards. They all have a glassy expression, talked like they were underwater, and shuffled when they walked. No thanks. I don’t need more drugs.

A court order takes time and I knew I couldn’t be held in a room against my will. I could get up and walk out of the doctor’s office. I knew I had to be extremely careful not to do or say anything that could be construed as a threat against another person.

So what happened? Nothing. No one talked to Jim. No one asked me about being suicidal. I doubt anyone read a word I wrote.

I told the doctor, a pain management specialist, that I wanted to be able to see the monitor during testing. So he told me about his experience. Somewhere in there, I mentioned I have an undergrad degree in biology. Unfortunately, I was facing the wall when he asked, “Are you a neurophysiologist?” “No. I’m an attorney.” I would have loved to see his expression.

I did get to see the graphs for a number of the tests. Because of my neurobiology class, I had a pretty good idea what I was looking at and I could keep up with the medical terminology. The tests showed a lowered amplitude on the action potential. Translated: the electrical impulse in my nerve wasn’t as strong as expected. I have a slower velocity than expected. Translated: the impulse travels down my nerve axon slower than “normal.” The tests also showed there had been problems with the axons connecting to my leg muscles, but I had grown new axons to take the place of the defective axons. That’s nerve regeneration and it does happen.

My nerves are dead or dying and this isn’t going to get better. Fortunately, I was too depressed to be suicidal. Yes, there are levels of depression so deep that one would have to feel better to commit suicide.

The pain management specialist said he had no way to treat me. That’s okay. I would never let this guy treat me. I told him the only reliable pain killer was making art. He tried telling me that was a diversion. No, this isn’t like Lamaze. The pain stays gone after I stop making art. I don’t think he liked hearing that. It’s tough to make money prescribing art.

I did some thinking the next day.  I realized I don’t have dead nerves. I know this because I felt every one of those impulses. Then I did some research. Then on Thursday I had a chat with my neurobiology teacher. I had some of the amplitude problem figured out although I had the wrong ion. I had the velocity figured out, although the problem might not be as bad as I thought. I looked at the results of blood work done in December. I remembered what my primary care doctor told me.

The blood work showed a mild potassium deficiency and my triglyceride level is way higher than it should be. My chiropractor told me that peripheral neuropathy is a metabolic problem. The potassium deficiency at least contributes to the neuropathy. I had been monitoring my blood glucose levels and keeping a food diary. My primary care doctor told me that the glucose levels are indicating a problem. I’m not diabetic or even pre-diabetic. My doctor told me that if I continue to monitor my glucose levels and learn what foods to avoid, keep exercising and keep losing weight, the triglyceride level should go down to normal. So that’s what I’ve been doing. My nerves have already proven they will regenerate. I’m hoping that fixing the potassium deficiency will reverse the neuropathy.

Here’s the quilt I’ve been working on. I have finished putting the beads on the dendrites. I’m working on quilting it. I’m quilting by hand around the dendrites and the axon. I’ll be quilting the graph for a healthy action potential on the quilt. The axon has vesicles containing neurotransmitters and one vesicle releasing neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are how nerves communicate with each other. Note that the neurotransmitters aren’t being accepted by any of the receptors (beads) on the dendrites.

IMG_5418IMG_5422

The working polite title is: Damn it, LISTEN to me.

The real title, which would keep this piece from ever being accepted into any quilt show on the planet, is: Get back here motherfucker, sit the fuck down and LISTEN TO ME.

I’m no longer suicidal. I’m working on getting healthier.

I got a new lens for the Canon. It’s a Tamron 18-400mm zoom telephoto. I’ve tested it out and I love this lens. It gives me way sharper shots than I was getting with a generic 75-300mm zoom telephoto. I even get sharp macro shots at 400mm. I went out to Soledad Canyon to do some shooting yesterday. My brain is still messed up from all the anxiety – anxiety that was worse than I had when I took a bar exam. I forgot my phone. I forgot I had used a custom white balance and neglected to switch back to automatic white balance. I’m shocked that the colors came out right. I forgot I had used exposure compensation and many of the shots are badly over exposed. At first, I thought there was a problem with autofocus. Nope. Autofocus is nearly silent.

Soledad Canyon 6 3-16-18Soledad Canyon 5 3-16-18Soledad Canyon 4 -16-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Take a look at what other artists have done this week.

Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Please check out my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Beads, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Quilts

Listen To Me

I love my neurobiology class. I signed up for the class because I wanted to understand the peripheral neuropathy in my feet. I still don’t understand what’s happening in my feet, but I’m learning a ton of intriguing stuff.

I learned that the writers of the series Homeland screwed up when they wrote about the effects of sarin gas. I knew they screwed up because if the story line were accurate, the antidote for sarin would have guaranteed the person died. It’s good to know stuff like this. I did some research and asked my teacher if I had figured out the mistake right. For the most part, I had. I missed when I assumed a particular medical reaction, but I was right with the rest of it.

I learned that when a vesicle binds with a receptor, the cell membrane expands. In order to keep the cell the original size, a piece of membrane has to be removed. The process is remarkably like sewing a dart. That caused my brain to start working on quilt designs. I wasn’t happy with what I was sketching, so I started playing with lines and color. Much more satisfying, but not something I could turn into a quilt unless I wanted to spend several months hand sewing curved pieces. Which I don’t want to do.

Meanwhile, my primary care doctor noticed that no one had looked for tarsal tunnel syndrome. That’s the ankle version of carpal tunnel syndrome. I subsequently discovered that was one of the first things the eight neurologists I had seen should have checked. I’m furious. I’ve been in pain for five years. I’ve told all eight of these neurologists that I wanted whatever was wrong with my feet fixed. Find the cause, treat the cause, and the nerves regenerate. They smiled at me and handed me a prescription for useless drugs. I have another nerve conduction study scheduled for next Tuesday. If the problem is tarsal tunnel – and the nerve conduction study will answer that question – then the problem can be easily fixed surgically.

Anger and fascination merged. I want a quilt that says how furious I am, how frustrated I am, and how downright pissed off I am. I want a quilt that speaks with words a neurologist can understand. The working title is: Damn it, LISTEN to me.

Nerve Quilt use this one 3-9-18

It’s a dendrite with receptors and an axon with an axon terminal. Briefly, the axon terminal (green piece) contains the neurotransmitters in vesicles and the vesicles bind to a receptor on the dendrite (blue piece). When the neurotransmitters are released there’s a chemical communication between the nerve cells. Axons and dendrites are contained on the same neuron. I’m only showing part of two neurons here. I’m the axon and the dendrite is the eight neurologists too arrogant to listen to me. I’m pretty satisfied with the design but I want to do a little tweaking with the axon. I think it would be better if it curved more. Yes, there will be beads. Beads for receptors and beads for neurotransmitters. I need to work out what colors I want to use for the background, dendrite and axon. I haven’t decided if I want the dendrite to be darker than the axon. I know I want the axon to be bright and colorful. I’ve got a batik for the axon in mind that I think will work. Perhaps a darker, more muted batik for the dendrites. Then I have to figure out the background color. I’m trying not to rely on off-white or black. Something that would be surprising and unexpected would be nice.

Do these beads make my dendrite look fat?

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by her blog and see what other artists have been working on.

If you’re looking for a gift or for something special for yourself, please stop by my on-line store, Deb Thuman Art here..

Posted in Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography, Sexual Assault Is Wrong

I Need A Nap

I’m exhausted and stuck in a circle. I had pain in my feet so I couldn’t sleep. That lowered my resistance and I developed an infection. Then I couldn’t sleep because I had pain in my feet. Then I did some research on the nerve conduction series I had done and discovered the paperwork I had only said: the observed results are equal to or less than the expected results. I was so angry that I had difficulty breathing. Then I read the two stories assigned for my writing class. One was about date rape. The second about gang rape. Then I had an allergy attack and needed to take a decongestant which prevented me from sleeping for 40 hours. Then I went to my doctor, got put on antibiotics and discovered I’m not pre diabetic – not even close. She gave me a referral for an orthopedic surgeon because the pain in my feet may be from the ankle version of carpal tunnel syndrome. Then I decided I was too upset about the stories that tried to portray rape as simply “guy behavior” and it’s not necessary to get upset about it.  Then I decided I couldn’t stomach going to class. Then I discovered that the ankle tunnel syndrome should have been the first thing that was checked for when I started seeing doctors about the pain in my feet. If I just spent the last five years in hell because someone forgot to check the obvious, I’m going to be beyond furious. Then I filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment against my writing teacher.

And now, I’m exhausted. I will be unprepared for my neurobiology class on Tuesday. I don’t have the energy to read the text book. I tried yesterday, but nothing I read stuck in my head.

I dyed sports bras yesterday. Jim helped. I tried to figure out how much dye to put In each bucket and miscalculated. I used twice as much dye as I needed. The colors are BRIGHT. The sports bras are now in my store, Deb Thuman Art,  here.

Ivory BraWatermelon Bra 2-25-18Peach bra 2-25-18Parakeet bra 2-25-18Orchid bra 2-25-18Blue Bra 2-25-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.  Stop by and check out what other artists have been doing.