June 22, 2016

Knitted Sheep Carousel

I just finished knitting Sheep Carousel, a tea cozy designed by Kate Davies. I used Harrisville Shetland instead of the Scottish yarn the pattern calls for. I have plenty of yarn left for a second.

All is not as it appears
I do not own a teapot. I borrowed one to block the cozy (i.e., let dry in the desired shape) but it was too large. I wrestled with wet wool but I was not victorious. The cozy is instead drying on some leftover containers, but for photo purposes I faked it!

Roof of the cozy, complete with I-cord handle
I-cord handle edging
The spout and handle openings are cut open, then bound with I-cord (a narrow knit strip). I'm very pleased with how the finishing turned out. Shetland is a nice grabby wool that lets you do seemingly mad things like cutting your knit fabric without everything unraveling.

The only thing left to do is find a friend who'd like a 4 cup teapot cozy.

June 21, 2016

Happy Solstice

Saturday I went to the Fremont Solstice Parade with a couple friends. It's famous for the pre-parade of naked painted bicyclists. I had never been, which is embarrassing to admit.

Wonder Woman!
There were many rainbows
Last night I headed over to a local beach to enjoy the longest day of the year. I posted an invite in my local Girl Crew group and invited friends. There were 5 of us, and we joined a couple with an impressive fruitwood fire. We had a great time! The rain even waited until we were leaving :)

Last light behind the Olympic mountains

Puget Sound at Solstice sunset

June 12, 2016

I am Summer's Thyroid

I am Summer's thyroid. Or adrenals. Or something else endocrine. I make Summer uncomfortable when the temperature tops 75F, or during muggy weather at any temp. I am the cause of much sweating, shakiness, sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, and GI unhappiness.

You may think I love my job but you'd be wrong. I am at the whim of Summer's immune system as much as she is, and what a Greek chorus! I did still manage some fun recently: despite classic hyperthyroid symptoms, her thyroid labs came back normal. Oh that was a rewarding day!

Summer is learning to cope with me, which is rich after me coping with her for almost 4 decades. Wicking t-shirts, cooling neck wraps, hand fans and portable spray bottles are just a few things in her Amazon search history. What Summer lacks in heat tolerance she makes up for in google-fu.

So maybe I'm an ass, but I'm hers. Unless I am the problem and she destroys me with radioactive iodine. It's going to take a month to see an endocrinologist, though, so I'll have plenty of fun until then :D

June 11, 2016

More Doctors!

My immune system is a bored asshole so I get two new specialists--it's going to be a busy month. I'll have to start counting on my toes next! From the top and working down:

Internal medicine/PCP

*indicates new doc

This is in addition to multiple specialists I've seen for the same thing, or docs I'm not current with. Plus all the nursing and assistant staff. There are a lot of people helping to prop up this sick body.

The guy I'd started seeing decided he's "not excited enough about us." Whatever that means. I've decided that caring about people is not a personality fault; dating is just an unnatural situation.

June 9, 2016

I am Summer's Eyes

I am Summer's eyes and I am high maintenance princesses. I do not tear enough and my Meibomian glands are blocked. In plain terms: I'm dry and I hurt.

I hurt in the morning. I hurt at night, especially if she's worn contacts. After one memorable contact lens-wearing day I was sore to the touch the whole next day.

I hurt when she puts drops in me: rewetting drops, antihistamine drops, steroid drops, special gland clot-busting antibiotic drops (which are goo, not drops). But I also hurt when she doesn't put drops in me. I'm a conundrum mean.

I require daily heat compresses and eyelid massages, which have taken various forms this year.
First were 5 minutes of a heated eye mask, followed by massage to express the blocked glands. That continued for a month: no improvement. Summer lay on her back on the sofa, mask on her eyes, a song approximately 5 minutes long on the stereo, and waited. And adjusted the eye mask for maximum heat coverage. And waited. And readjusted. Song's ending: lift half the mask, massage. Lift the other half, massage. Summer utters a deep fatalistic sigh that this tedious exercise almost certainly won't help. But she still did it all again the next day. And the next...

The second heat-and-massage method: hot spoon on the eyelids, immediately followed by massage. The spoon was heated in water, generally hot tap water topped off with a small amount of boiling water. One eye quadrant was treated at a time. This routine fit nicely between Summer boiling the kettle and waiting for the coffee to brew (Moka pot brews faster when you start with boiling water).

Unfortunately the ophthalmologist hadn't personally tried this stellar¹ concept. One hot utensil is supposed to magically heat the eyelid for 3+ minutes(?). Summer didn't realize the gap between metal-based common sense and the doctor's expectation until the follow up 11 weeks later. Need I say the functional result was nil?

The third suggested method: heat compress, then hot spoon, then massage. Summer's feeling: "I would prefer not to." She has switched to eyelid massages during her shower, which may provide the desired heat and humidity. Or may not. She can't be arsed at this point.

The next day or two will bring the end of the clot-busting eye drops. At which time I'll lose a small piece of my throne. But fear not: the massages and drops and asinine new treatments will continue!


Summer's note: I have autoimmune disease (UCTD) and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, which are almost certainly connected. I do care about my visual health but have very limited spoons, especially for pointless-seeming and difficult self care. The next option seems to be compounded testosterone cream to smear on the eyelid margins. I am clearly the butt of a cruel cosmic joke.

June 7, 2016

Summer's Sunsets

I have more energy late in the day, so I've been spending pleasant evenings in the park during Seattle's current hot spell--it was 94 on Sunday! Yesterday I managed to climb all 107 steps of the water tower, which has amazing views.

Friday's sunset over the reservoir
Sunday: I love the cloud formations!
Just at sunset, also Sunday

May 17th

June 4, 2016

Being a Professional Patient

I recently read a Vox article about the free patient labor involved in healthcare. This is why I sometimes call myself a Professional Patient: there is knowledge and skill involved, and a lot of time.  I am my own medical home. My long-term chronically ill friends are almost all intelligent, informed, and excellent advocates for and managers of their care. Why? Because doing anything less leads to a "poor outcome."

Yesterday I spent about 1 1/2 hours thinking, researching, calling and emailing just to begin the process of diagnosing and treating a possible endocrine issue (thanks autoimmunity). I emailed my rheumatologist's nurse outlining my symptoms and asking for an endocrinology referral. Online patient portals make this simple action possible: no more calling, being routed by the switchboard, leaving a message that attempts to be coherent, then waiting a day for a reply. I can also email after hours when my thinking is clearer. I heard back that my PCP needs to generate all referrals, so the nurse forwarded my email to the PCP's office. My PCP is out on Fridays, though, so Monday is the earliest this message will be read.

I took a break. Realizing it will take weeks or months to actually see an endocrinologist, I called to schedule with my PCP. Except she's scheduled out for weeks, too. Oh, but her nurse practitioner had availability on Monday! So I see the nurse practitioner Monday, and perhaps will start the testing process then. In the meantime, I walked to the natural market and bought some thyroid calming herbs--maybe I'll get some symptom relief, and it could even be diagnostic. Tinctures taste disgusting, by the way.

The Vox article didn't mention the amazing work being done by nurses, which is a shame. Doctors are important but it's nurses who actually do the majority of the work. They talk to patients between appointments, get referrals, order labs, and smooth over insurance issues. Good nurses know how hard patients work and do their best to help. Hug the nurses, medical assistants and patients in your life.

Since this topic is kind of a bummer, here's a video of ducklings I saw in the park yesterday :)

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