Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sympathy Fatigue

I didn't know that sympathy could suck the life force right out of you.

Yesterday was my first day back at work since Patrick was diagnosed with a rare, serious kidney disease. Being a teacher at his school, I had emailed his teachers over the weekend to explain to them the disease, its symptoms, and the complications that they might expect to see from him in the classroom on account of his heinous treatment regimen.

It's a small school. Only about 2,000 kids in grades K-12 and all in one building. Everyone knows everyone. There are no secrets, and I knew this. I knew that everyone would know by 8:01 am. (School begins at 7:45). I wasn't prepared for the overwhelming support of my friends and colleagues. I barely had my shit together as it was, and their kindness was hard to handle.

I am normally not very emotional, at least on the surface. I like to pretend that I have control over things, when often I do not. In truth, I am oftentimes just one breath away from a complete, total, histrionic break-down. Yesterday, I got crankier and crankier as the day went on, and felt like a horrible bitch for not wanting to answer (for the one millionth time) the really-if-you-think-about-it ASSININE question, "How are you doing?"

I know people care, I know people want to help, I know they aren't trying to annoy me, but seriously?

"How are you doing?" ???? WTF

Gee, let me see...

My oldest son, my firstborn, my precious, autistic, already plagued with one syndrome, child just got diagnosed with a serious kidney disease. He has only a 50% chance of having the "good type" of the horrible disease. He might potentially need dialysis, and (according to research I've been doing) eventually a TRANSPLANT.

"I'm great. How are you?"

To be fair, I also have had four offers of kidneys.



My friends rock.

But they ask stupid questions.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Babe and Hospital Knitting

One of my friends at work is expecting a baby (well, his wife is!) in March. It is a little boy and my friend is a huge New York Yankees fan. When I mentioned knitting something for his baby, he questioned my knitting skills and said, "I bet you can't make me a baby sweater that looks like a Yankees jersey!"
I bet I can.
I hope he will like it...the number 3 on the back is Babe Ruth's number. Get it? The Babe? I like the irony. I hope he gets it.
Anyway, that is what I've been knitting lately. I modified this pattern for anyone looking for an easy, bottom-up infant raglan.
I am now working on a Baby Yoda sweater for one of my students. One of my 11th graders is having a little boy any day now, and she doesn't have a lot material/money-wise, so I decided to make her a little something for her little guy too. Trying to make the best of a really sad situation.
Yesterday, I got a lot of unexpected and unwanted knitting time. My oldest son, Patrick, woke up with horrible edema (swelling) in his legs from the knees down. The pediatrician wanted to see him immediately, and ended up sending us down to Albany to see a Pediatric Nephrologist (kidney specialist). She ran a battery of tests, and diagnosed him with a kidney disease called Nephrotic Syndrome. It isn't the worst of kidney diseases, he won't need dialysis (yet, maybe not ever, hopefully?) or a transplant (I better start being good to my kidneys just in case), but it is pretty serious. The course of treatment is high doses of steroids (in this case, prednisone) over long periods of time (six weeks to six months). The side effects of the treatment are not ideal, and actually pretty scary and horrifying:
SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects of prednisone and other corticosteroids range from mild annoyances to serious, irreversible damage, and they occur more frequently with higher doses and more prolonged treatment. Side effects include retention of sodium (salt) and fluid, weight gain, loss of potassium, headache and muscle weakness. Prednisone also causes puffiness of the face (moon face), growth of facial hair, thinning and easy bruising of the skin, impaired wound healing,ulcers in the stomach and duodenum, worsening of diabetes, rounding of the upper back ("buffalo hump"), retardation of growth in children, convulsions, and psychiatric disturbances. The psychiatric disturbances include, euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, depression and even psychotic behavior.

Nice huh? But in this disease, the specialist said that the potential benefits outweigh the known risks. Easy for her to say. There are two types of the disease, due to his advanced age at presentation (14 instead of 18months to 4 years) he only has a 50% chance of having the better, lesser, easier type. If he has the other, he'll have a harder time getting it into remission. There will be kidney biopsy, hospital stays, more drugs, and potentially dialysis.
Needless to say, we are hoping and praying it is the lesser type (it's called Minimal Change Disease). We have to wait 4 weeks to find out.

Monday, January 15, 2007


That's what I have been lately. Too lazy to post, too lazy to clean, too lazy to knit much even. It must be the after the holiday blahs...I'm not sure. I did finish up the Simple Knitted Bodice.

Please excuse the work bathroom photos, but that is the only place I have access to a full-length mirror, which is fine with me, but makes for not many options for pictures of knitting. There is considerable blurriness too, it didn't look blurry when I took them...hmmmm.

I am on to a new project now...a baby sweater for one of my friends at work. He is a huge New York Yankees fan, so it is going to be along those lines. I'll show you when I have something interesting to show. Right now it just looks like a blob of knitting. I'm making a bottom up, raglan cardigan to mimic a team jersey. It should be cute when I get it done. Cute--and illegal--in that I am planning on adding the team insignia on it (copyright infringement, I am sure!). Oh well.

I've been thinking about knitting a lot lately. Coming up with a list of must-haves to knit for 2007. So far, I have:

  • a pair of socks for me

  • a cardigan sweater for me

  • a clapotis for me

  • a scarf for Alan

  • a new froggie hat for the Bug

  • and then the list stalls out...

I am trying to knit out of my stash yarn as much as I can. But, we'll see. I am horrible with restrictions, even self-imposed ones. I feel too deprived and immediately binge on things. Not good. But, I am trying.

A lot of my stash came from my MIL who gave me all of my husband's grandma's old yarn stash when they moved her into the nursing home. I feel guilty not using it, because she boxed it and sent it to me, but to be honest, a lot of it is nothing anyone would really be able to use, odds and ends, and all of it acrylic. I think I may make a huge box of it up and either sell it cheap on eBay or donate it to Goodwill or a church or something. It has got to go. The yarn that I have stashed is really only about half of my current stash...if I got rid of what isn't mine, I'd have more room.

For more yarn, of course.

Well, I am off today and I have a list of things to do. And a pile of goodies to look at and read.

I love Borders gift cards for Christmas...so much fun!

PS: Alan and I are planning a trip to Las Vegas the second week in April and since I haven't ever been, we would love some recommendations on where to stay, what to do, etc...and of course, any yarn shops??

Thursday, January 04, 2007

It's Good To Be Home

We are back from Holiday Haul 2006.

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, it is where you pack all of your children, all of Santa's gifts, and all of your clothes and necessities into the family minivan and embark upon a 750 mile, ten day, two family, holiday extravaganza.

First up. My mother's--about three and a half hours north of our house. We took my brother Shaun with us, he had flown in from Seattle, his first Christmas home in four years.

Christmas morning, it was hard to get a still shot of the Bug, as he was constantly moving. My niece Ryleigh is in the pink, my sister Taylor in the black tank, my sister McKenzie (Ry's mom) in the white, my brother Aaron and his girlfriend Kami in the background.

Campbell didn't understand the concept of opening all the gifts and then playing with them later. He wanted to unwrap them one by one, and then open them and play with them all one by one before moving on to the next.

This is him, mid-wail. He was giving me what his father so eloquently calls, "The Stink-Eye".

My mother had all six of her kids under the same roof for three days, the first time that has ever happened, as we are so spread out in age. I never lived at home at the same time as my youngest sister Taylor (she is actually nine days younger than my oldest son, Patrick). So Mom was happy about that. Although there were rough spots where she was doing her "Martyr" thing, where she won't let anyone help her, and then gets pouty and overwhelmed that she has too much to do.

We all just drank more when that happened.


You have to love the holidays, yes?

My brother, Shaun, wearing his Seahawks santa hat.

Connor was thrilled with his iPod.

Patrick got his skateboard that he has been pining for.

My husband wowed me with my gift. I already had my iPod, but I knew he was thinking of buying me jewelry as a holiday gift/reward for the past six months of single momming it.

Then, we were off to Cleveland (nine hours away!) for Christmas Part Deux with my in-laws.

My father-in-law wanted to buy me jewelry for Christmas, but I asked for a TV instead. This whole sharing a TV with my husband bit is getting old. I got used to not having to share while he was gone for those six months.

Wide screen. HDTV. So freakin' awesome. And all mine. hehehe.

Opening gifts.

Campbell got a train set from Aunt Laura that he loves.

Aunt Laura loves her Bug.

We stayed there from Tuesday until Sunday (New Year's Eve Day) and then drove home.

I knit quite a bit on the Simple Knitted Bodice. I promised myself that I would get it done before Christmas, so I could wear it, but that did not happen. Then, for a bit, as Amy can attest to, I had toyed with the idea of frogging the whole thing.

Don't ask. It was a moment of weakness.

Just the rest of the sleeve, and picking up the neckline stitches to go. It is really beautiful and fits like a dream. That is the beauty of the top-down business. Try as you go.

The lace detail and the waist increases. It is so pretty. I love the subtle variegations of this yarn.So. Lovely. I can't wait to wear it. I need to find the perfect shell or cami to wear underneath it.

And lastly, while at my mom's, it became apparent that she is well on her way to becoming a Crazy Cat Lady (you know, the type with about eleventeen million cats?). So my husband made an executive decision. On our next trip up there, probably in February, we will be bringing home a little something.

She is named Peaches and she is only four months old. She is very sweet and furry. I hope Daisy and Tiger like her. They are actually half-siblings/cousins. Same father, Peaches' mother is their aunt.

Hopelessly inbred, I know. I have redneck cats!