Thursday, December 31, 2015

Accounting for 2015

Hello my dears!
It's that time again:  the end of one year, the start of another and I feel the need to take stock.
My internet is clanking and groaning with the effort of making a connection today, so I will try not to take too long over this.  If you want more details, all the knitty stuff is on Ravelry and the sewing is blogged.

In 2015, I knitted the following:

11 pairs of socks, all using mass-produced sock yarn except the Advent Scrap socks and a pair of baby socks, which both included artisan wool.  7 pairs used Regia yarn and 8 pairs were "plain vanilla".

  • This was a new direction for my sock knitting:  in the past I have gone for complicated patterns and hand-dyed wool.


7 shawls, which included 2 test knits for Josh Ryks and 2 patterns from the "Curls" book by Hunter Hammersen.  I started the year thinking I would work my way through all of the Curls, but I made a series of poor yarn / pattern matches and had to frog them.

  • The ripping-out was another characteristic of my knitting in 2015:  I was much better at cutting my losses if things were not going to plan.  I had a major frogging festival the other day :)

I made 3 full-sized garments for myself:  a 1980's pattern sweater, Epistrophy by Kate Davies and the unexpected orange woolly wonderfulness that is my Angelus Novus Cardigan.

I also knitted 3 hats, 2 pairs of mitts, 1 baby cardigan and 1 little Bird.

I finished my Kex Blanket!
I was delighted that it brought some warmth and home comfort to FL during his recent stay in hospital.

And I did more crochet.
  • In 2015, Inside Crochet magazine was the most inspiring stitchy publication I came across, and I bought every issue.
My sewing became more considered.  I made far fewer items but I wore them more often.

  • The Maya pattern by Marilla Walker became my go-to basic block for the majority of my makes in 2015:  tops, dresses and even a coat
  • My 1970's pattern culottes became my most regularly-worn bottom half
  • I loved the pockets in my Brumby skirt!
I got serious about spinning!  And bought a spinning wheel, the Schacht Ladybug.
  • My final project of 2015 is to finish plying my first full braid of fibre:  pink Norwegian wool / bamboo mix from Fondant Fibre, with a view to knitting myself a Qwist hat in the New Year.
Of course, the other big thing that happened in 2015 is that FL's health started to go downhill.
He caught shingles in May and never recovered fully from that:  he still gets post-herpetic pain.
The myeloma took advantage of his general weakness and his Freelite scores began to multiply.
He had his final cycle of Pomalidomide in September. 
Since then, he has had to rely on increasing doses of painkillers:  paracetamol, then codeine, and since the beginning of December he has been on Oxycodone and Oxynorm (morphine-based drugs).
He was hospitalised for ten days just before Christmas.  A blood transfusion brought him back from the brink.
Right now, he is asleep on his chair, as he so often is these days.
But he still has a book to finish writing, and I know it is the thing that has kept him going all these years, since his cancer diagnosis in 2007. 
So that has to be our main goal for 2016:  finish the book.

Monday, December 28, 2015

On the Other Side of Christmas

Hello everyone - I do hope you all have had a lovely few days.
Our Christmas was mixed.
FL was pretty much out of it on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  He wasn't eating much, was sleeping almost constantly, and could not hold a conversation when "awake".
A wise and medically-qualified blog-reader suggested that he might be over-opiated (taking too much morphine) but it was hard to refuse painkillers when he was clearly in pain.  I let myself be guided by his demands, responding as if to a young baby crying for milk.  He would not agree to reducing his dose.
But then something changed...
On Boxing Day, I went to fetch the hot water bottle and discovered it was lying in a puddle. It was not leaking.  FL was dozing on his chair, and I was about to confront him, when he woke on his own and said he had something to tell me.  He thought he might have had an "accident" and could I help him change his clothes and have a wash?
Ha!  He didn't have to ask twice!
I gave him a thorough going-over in the shower and a new set of clothes.  He was properly awake for the first time in ages and I put it to him that his loss of control was due to an excess of morphine.  He agreed to try a smaller dose that night, and again the next morning.
So yesterday, we were treated to an entirely more "present" FL.  He still had a few sleeps, but in between he was initiating conversation and even picked up his notebook for a while.  Wow!
I am not sure we have got the balance quite right yet, as he had to get up early this morning, in some pain.  However, I am clear that this is the key:  if we can just get the painkiller regime sorted out, he will be very much happier and able to participate in life.

In knitting news, I cast on a pair of socks on Christmas Day, using my Opal Klangwelten yarn in a red / green / charcoal/ white self-patterning colourway.  I have reached the heel flap and might put it away til next Christmas:  it feels wrong to be knitting it now.

As you can see, The Girl has been learning to knit - yay!
This is part of her homework from college.  She is on an amazing course which I must tell you about one day :)

I have also been having a ripping party:  my Monte Rosa  cardigan project has been frogged and the yarn stored away until a better inspiration strikes.
Ditto my Talia socks.
I am about to reconsider my Sunwalker Shawl.  I am not happy with it.
And we can't have that.
I intend to start the New Year with a fresh project plan.
Now there's a fun activity for today!

That, and spinning - I should finish my first full braid of fibre today - woo hoo!

Let me leave you with another picture of The Girl, and the Qwist hat and mitts set I made her for Christmas.
That pompom is da bomb!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Advent Sock day 24: a pair!

Today's sock clue was to be taken from the comments on the host blog: participants were invited to suggest an inspiration for the next colour.
However my internet connection dropped out at the critical moment and would not let me leave a comment, so I couldn't inspire anyone else.
I decided to just please myself and use some of the yarn I bought for my Christmas Eve cast-on socks for the last 24 rows of my advent pair.
This is Opal Klangwelten in the Popmusik colourway.

darned in my last stray end late in the evening... so actually it looks like I will be having a Christmas Day cast-on this year.  That's OK!

We met FL's allocated Social Services Care Manager today.  
He was deeply suspicious of her, which I suppose is fair enough.  He believes we can manage fine on our own and doesn't understand why I think we need assistance.
My darling FL may be 80 years old, but he refuses to accept that he is an Old Man.  There will be no walking sticks or zimmer frames or "help" if he has anything to do with it.
However, I will be so much happier if he will allow them to supply us with a Community Alert pendant.  For £2 a week I will have the reassurance that if he is home alone and has an emergency of any kind, he can press the button to summon help.  That help would be from the people he nominates:  me, or one of his golf pals who lives in the village, or in the event of a true emergency it would be an ambulance.  I had no idea that this was possible in our remote location.
The other thing I have requested is to have someone come in to help him have a bath or shower once a week.  He resists my attempts to cajol him into the shower and it worries me that he goes for weeks without a proper wash.  A "professional" will have him in and out of the bathroom, washed and dressed again before he even has time to feel the cold (his main objection).  And I honestly believe he will feel better in himself if he is fresh and clean.
Right, I need to go and wake him for his pills and bed.
One more sleep before Santa comes!
Happy Christmas everyone!

Advent sock day 23

Today FL required reassurances that he is still very much part of our family, with The Girl at home and The Boy on his way, arriving late in the evening.
FL can't hear either of them unless he is concentrating hard and they are deliberately speaking more loudly and slowly than usual.
He has been waking from sleep unsure of where he is or who he is.  Yesterday he thought we lived in Canada.
He told me that he has twice wakened to find his mouth full of dissolving pills.  On one occasion, he was standing up at the table, eyes open, taking a sip of water to wash them down, but still believed himself to be asleep.  I have decided not to give him his evening morphine until he is in the bedroom, about to lie down.  It is by far the safest approach in this situation.

It's the time for the last stripe of sock B. Today we choose the colour and the pattern (more or less) randomly.
Choose the colour using this spinner (link in original blog). You can change the number of colours below the spinner.

I kept the colours of the original and spun it 23 times:  red!
I knitted my 23 rows in the morning, but had an almighty battle with the afterthought heel.  After I finished it, it was far too pointy and elongated in shape.  I don't know if that was my knitting or the pattern.  I ripped it out and tried again with the heel from Rachel Coopey's Dave sock pattern:  perfect!

I also bound off the upper rib too tightly.  I need to rip that out and try again, probably at the same time as finishing off Sock A.

And let's not mention the weaving in of the ends... guess who got a bit too snip-happy and cut a tiny hole in her sock?!  Grrrr.  My sock had to be darned before I even got to wear it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Advent Sock day 22

For me it was a day of preparations: listing, shopping, cleaning, organising.
For FL, a day of sleeping.
Last night it took me 40 minutes to wake him to go to bed.  I was getting quite alarmed after half an hour, when even raising his arms above his head and swinging them gently was not enough to wake him.
Today he slept all morning, right through to 3pm.
I picked up The Girl from the station at 6, and he managed to stay awake through dinner, took his pills, and fell asleep again.
Return to sock B. Today our theme is Beatrix Potter, the famous author, illustrator, and natural scientist, who died on 22 December 1943. Do this test and pick the colour of the day from the character you resemble. 

You're Mrs Tiggy-Winkle the hedgehog! You care a lot about working hard at everything you do but always find time for a good chat and a cup of tea, as friends are very important to you and you love to socialise!
The suggested colour for Mrs Tiggy Winkle is pink, to match her dress.  I had just finished my sparkly socks, so scavenged some of the leftover yarn - the pastel shades remind me a lot of Beatrix Potter.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Advent sock day 21

Today was a day of incoming phone calls.
Our wonderful MacMillan nurse came good on his promises, as I knew he would.
The District Nurse came in the morning to take a blood test and have a chat with FL.  She is going to come to the house in future, to save him the journey to the GP.  She had been primed to ask him about help he / we might need.  A united front is building - FL will find himself washed before he knows what has happened!
While she was here, the GP himself rang, and said he would ring again later.
Then the MacMillan nurse rang to check we were OK and to reassure me that help is out there if I need it, not to struggle on alone.  Oh thank you, thank you! :)
Later in the afternoon, social services rang to make an appointment for Christmas Eve for an assessment of FL's needs.  The hospital had told them my name was Mrs Rose and they had given the wrong address for the farm.  Really?!  I explained that I am married to my husband, we have the same surname, and we live together at the address on his medical record.  Grrrrrr.  I wonder which Little Madam is responsible for that pile of steaming nonsense?
And in the early evening, the GP rang back for an update on FL's condition.
People, we are being looked after - what a relief!
FL has been asleep a lot of the day, but that's OK.  He ate breakfast and dinner today and enjoyed both.
I have been knitting and spinning - woo hoo!
I am delighted to report that I finished my final Christmas knit this evening, just in the nick of time before The Girl arrives tomorrow and The Boy comes on Wednesday.  
A full house!  The dog won't know what's hit him.

Continue sock A by knitting 21 rounds inspired by the wallpaper of your phone or computer.

My laptop has a very boring plain blue background.  However, my phone has a photograph of the apple-blossom in our "orchard" from earlier this year.  Did we ever see an apple?  No we did not - shortly afterwards, the tree died back.  I strongly suspect that the farmer sprayed herbicides in the adjacent field.  
Leaf green it is.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Advent sock day 20

I have been gathering a great deal of knowledge, inspiration and support from the experiences so many of you have been sharing in the comments.  I thank you once again.
This all reminds me of when I had my first child:  I was promised so much in the lead up to the birth:  an ambulance to the hospital, a lovely room with ensuite facilities, the use of a birthing pool if I wanted one, a TENS machine... the list went on.  But when it came to New Year's Day 199x and I was pretty sure my son was on his way, there was no room (at the inn), no ambulance, no pool, no fancy pain relief machine available. Never attempt to give birth on the NHS on a public holiday, ladies!
Now, at the other end of the continuum, again there seem to be unwritten rules about how to access the help that is supposed to be out there.  I am relying on the MacMillan nurse to help us navigate through the maze.  I just hope nothing happens outside of office hours!
Today was a peaceful day on the farm.
FL was up before me, at 6am, and took morphine instead of paracetamol by mistake, but fortunately only an hour before it was due.
He told me that the hospital doctor had informed him that he is no longer allowed to drive a vehicle.  I wish they had told me too, because that is the sort of information he might have chosen not to share with me.  But now I know. 
He didn't want breakfast or dinner today, but managed to walk with my support as far as the bothy and back  - just a few yards, but that is further than in recent weeks.
He spent the day sleeping and reading. He was able to concentrate on a golfer's biography.  We'll get back to his own book soon, I think.  

Continue sock A by knitting 20 rounds with a color you draw inspiration from the date. Wikipedia has listed all birthdays, deaths and important events that have happened December 20th.

Call me uncultured, but I had never heard of most of the famous people in the birthday list and I definitely wasn't in the mood to celebrate a death. So I plumped for the one that jumped out at me - Happy Birthday to Jenny Agutter! 
I was inspired by her role in The Railway Children, in which she famously waved her red petticoat like a flag to stop the train.  
Red it is :)
Picture copied from Telegraph website, credited to ALAMY

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Advent sock day 19

FL is home!
Today I had two further encounters with That Nurse...
 (1) When I arrived at 11.30am she said it was not certain that FL would be going home today and we would "just have to wait and see" despite her being the one who was so keen to shove us out of the door yesterday;
(2) At 2pm, when FL had been waiting half an hour for her to acknowledge that he had pressed his buzzer, she sauntered past and said "Still waiting for your painkillers?  Why didn't you send your wife to find someone?"
I said "I thought that was what the buzzer was for?  Is that not what you told me the other day?  How is anyone supposed to know what the system is?"
She smirked and carried on walking, giving no indication that she intended to bring FL his drugs.
So when I overheard the doctors discussing FL and the original plan for his release on Monday, I was determined he had to come home immediately, to get out of the way of that unkind self-important little madam.
The nice Haematology doctor and another I did not recognise came to see us. They wanted to be sure we would cope at home.  FL was at that point still waiting for his morphine.  It had been almost an hour.  While the doctors were there, Little Madam appeared with it and hovered at the edge of the curtain.
I said "He needs to come home now so that I can be sure he gets his painkillers when he needs them, and not when it suits other people." 
Little Madam handed FL the pill with a stony face.
And I really really hope she gets into trouble, but I don't suppose she will.
It is now 10pm and all is calm.
FL is asleep in his chair.  The dog is asleep in his basket.  I am not quite asleep on the sofa.
We will be fine.

Continue with sock B. Take a look into your wallet and knit 19 rows with the colour of the bill you first see. If you don't use cash, pick the colour from your bankcard. 

Tricky - I couldn't possibly knit a third blue stripe.  
Let's pretend I have a twenty pound note in my purse, OK? ;)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Advent sock day 18

Today was unexpectedly stressful.
Having developed a plan for FL's release (and yes, it has started to feel like a penitentiary in that ward) I thought that this day would be a calm one.  
I said goodbye to work for the year - hooray!
My dear friend Christine was up from Glasgow and we met for lunch - hooray!
And then I went to the hospital.
FL was fast asleep, lying down.  It has been weeks since he was last able to lie flat without coughing, so hooray again!
When he woke, he said he had a day of disturbances:  the Occupational Therapist had been to check if he needed adaptations at home and he had said no; there had been blood tests; there had been lunch, just at the point when he most wanted to sleep.
But there had been no sign of a doctor, a physiotherapist, or social services.  
I settled in with my knitting and he dozed beside me.
I was just thinking it was time to head home before the rush hour, when the ward doctor arrived. "Would FL like to go home?"
Um... sorry?!
"Well there is no point in him being in hospital when he is well enough to go home, so why doesn't he go home - he can go NOW if he wants!"
I was taken by surprise.  I explained that the MacMillan nurse was working on a plan for help at home and for the management of future care at the community hospital, but that nothing was in place yet and I had thought we were aiming to go home early next week...?
"Well, tomorrow then.  How about tomorrow?"
FL thought this sounded like a good idea.  And seeing the hope in his eyes, I could not bear to be the obstacle to him getting home, so I agreed.
As soon as the doctor left, I went into panic mode.  I went to see the staff nurse to ask about the social services referral.  Nothing had been done yet.  She said she did not understand what help I thought I needed:  if we had managed before FL came into hospital, why would we not manage now?  He had told her he was fine and didn't need any help at home.
So I emailed the MacMillan nurse from my phone, hoping against hope that he might still be on duty.
FL was waiting for me, all set to go home there and then.  Quite apart from anything else, I knew we didn't have enough morphine to last until the GP's surgery opened again on Monday.  FL said he would manage.  Ridiculous!
I was just trying to explain the very many reasons why we needed not to leave hospital there and then when the MacMillan nurse appeared, with the staff nurse at his side.
The relief!  I cannot tell you how pleased I was to see him.
He listened to my concerns and to FL's plea for release.  The staff nurse had just then made a referral to social services and we were told he would be assessed in 7 to 14 days, but that this could be done at home.  7 to 14 days?!  That was the clincher.  There is no way I could have FL spend another 2 weeks in that place when his weeks are limited!
The MacMillan nurse could sense my panic and saw the pressure I was under to agree to FL going home.  He asked what he could do to help me.  I explained I did not know who to call upon if we needed help, particularly at the weekend.  What was the plan for his future blood tests / review / support?  It was just all too fast, there were too many uncertainties.  
So he suggested making an immediate referral to the district nurse service, to have someone come in on Monday to make sure we were coping, and to check FL's blood count as a medical justification for the visit.  He said that if we were having problems, the district nurse would be able to help hurry along social services - brilliant!
Once again, MacMillan to the rescue!
It was agreed that FL can come home tomorrow, with a big bag of drugs.
FL is still mystified by my insistence that we need help.  As far as he is concerned we were doing fine on our own until now and will continue to do so.
But something has changed in my mind.  Before he went into hospital, FL was the same man I always knew, the man who has lived with a cancer diagnosis for over 8 years, for better and for worse.
But now?  Now he is "terminally ill".  I feel the weight of a terrible responsibility to care for a dying man in his final days / weeks / months and I really don't know how to do that.  
I don't know how to look after us.
There comes a point where "us" is not enough.
Thank goodness for MacMillan!

Let's turn back to sock B. Pick the colour according to the colour of the day in Thai tradition. If you don't know the day of your birthday, use e.g. this calculator.

I was born on a Friday, which is Light Blue.  18 rows.  Off I go...
A picture will have to follow tomorrow.
Have this morning's sunrise instead!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Advent sock day 17

Oh my goodness - so many wonderful comments!  Thank you, everyone.  Especially to those of you who knew where to get information on my rights or who are familiar with the sector I work in generally / my workplace in particular.  It helps a great deal to know how policies are interpreted in real life before making important decisions.
As several of you knew, I am entitled to compassionate leave from my employer.  However, payment is discretionary.  I spoke to my immediate manager today and explained the situation.  He said he would seek advice from HR.
He has agreed that I can take Annual Leave from Monday, and through the Christmas Closure period, when I would have been away from work anyway.  We will review the plan in January.
Meantime, the MacMillan nurse  got me an appointment with an expert at the local Maggie's Centre (a charitable organisation which provides support and advice to cancer patients and their families) to talk it through.
I did a morning's work and actually made some progress - go me!
Back at the hospital, FL was still in his pyjamas but had eaten all of his lunch.  I hadn't been there long when the MacMillan nurse came to see him.  He spoke to FL about the intention to transfer his care to his GP, with future transfusions to take place in the community hospital rather than in the city. Crucially, he explained that his myeloma is back and increasing; that FL has exhausted all chemotherapy options; and that the last remaining intervention, steroids, had directly contributed to his recent chest infection by messing up his immune system.
Radiotherapy was discussed, and FL repeated his belief that his main pain is from his shingles site and not from his bones.  The MacMillan nurse asked lots of "diagnostic" questions and advised FL not to rule out radiotherapy altogether, as if he gets another chest infection (and cough) he may very well find his ribs painful again, as they are full of lytic lesions. FL described the sternum pain as "agony", which the MacMillan nurse said was not the normal experience of a pain from coughing.  
The MacMillan nurse then suggested trying an anaesthetic patch on the site of the shingles pain - it is used for 12 hours at a time to numb the nerves.  FL agreed to try it out, and within the hour it had been prescribed and applied - wonderful!
Not so wonderful was that it distracted the ward nurse from giving FL his morphine, and she forgot.  He rang his bell twice and was ignored.  In the end I had to search her out.  She was quite snippy with me, saying she wasn't sure he could have another painkiller.  I put her straight.  So he received his 2.30 morphine at 4pm.  Grrrrr.
He is now alone in his room, where there were originally 4 patients. Although I am glad he will no longer be disturbed by his neighbour's radio, I do hope he will not be lonely in the night.  Maybe he will get new room-mates this evening.
After everyone had gone, I talked to him about his prognosis.  He said he had been prepared for the news, but wanted to know what would happen to me when he is gone.
I reassured him as best I could.
He sat with his eyes closed for a while, but I knew he was not asleep.  
After a little while, he rather gruffly pronounced:  "Right then.  I need you to help me finish my book."
I said:  "It's a deal!"
That's better!

Continue sock A by knitting 17 rounds with a color determined by the population of your home town.

1-10000 - yellow
10001-50000 - red
50001-200000 - green
200001-1000000 - brown
1000001- grey

Hilarious!  What do you do when you live in a field?
I decided to find out the population of the nearest village to the farm, where we go to vote.  I was amused to read that it is: "one of the last bastions of tranquility within a ten-mile radius of Aberdeen".
I could not find out the population, but it is reasonable to assume it is significantly less than 10,000. Yellow it is!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Advent sock day 16

Today I met with the MacMillan nurse, who was excellent.
He undertook to query the radiotherapy outcome and ensure that Social Services and possibly a district nurse service are put in place before FL comes home.
I asked for the truth. He said the Haematology doctor we have been seeing this week had mentioned to him that she was disappointed that the Consultant had not been clear with us.
Yes, this is the end of the road.
It could be days, weeks, perhaps even months... but most likely weeks.
A lot depends on FL avoiding infections. He will require blood transfusions probably every two weeks and the MacMillan nurse can try to arrange for those to happen in our local community hospital to make it easier on FL. The journey from the farm into the city can be very stressful, particularly in winter.  When it comes to the point where he needs end-of-life nursing care this could also be in the local hospital.
I told the MacMillan nurse about my work position and he is going to refer me for a proper talk with an expert on employment and benefit rights. He said not to talk to my boss yet, until I am sure of what I want to do.  He said if my job is not the centre of my life, I might regret continuing to prioritise it over my last chance to be with FL: "You can always get another job, but you can't have this time with FL again".
I was doing so well at being brave until he said that!
He was going to see FL today or tomorrow to give him the chance to talk things through with someone who is not me.
He also advised me to consider asking my GP to sign me off work to get some time to rest and stay strong.  "In the real world, outside of here, that is what people do and it is entirely reasonable!"
When I got back to the ward, the staff nurse asked to talk to me and we discussed the help FL needs to manage at home if / when I am back at work after the holidays. She said it will be quicker to arrange with MacMillan involved. 
Our aim is to get him home for Christmas.

All very much more positive than yesterday, despite the "news".

Continue sock A by knitting 16 rounds in the color of your eyes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Advent sock day 15

A frustrating time at the hospital today.  FL said he had been taken for "a heart test" at the time when his breakfast was delivered, so he didn't get to eat.  He doesn't know what sort of test it was, or why he was having it.
He had just been taken back to the ward, and started to try to get dressed for the day, when another porter turned up to take him for radiotherapy.  
I have always listened and spoken for him at radiotherapy as he doesn't understand what it is all about and can't hear them properly. Without me, he was lost, and told the doctor his only pain was from shingles.  She said radiotherapy would not help that, so sent him back to the ward without any treatment. 
I am really really angry about this.
He was still in his pyjamas when I got there at 1pm.  He was exhausted and knocked over his jug of water when he saw me.  He called for an extra painkiller then fell asleep halfway through his lunch and slept until 3.30, when he called for another painkiller.
The nurse who came with it started asking about him going home.  She wanted to know who I was and I said I was his wife.  "Oh - and how long have you been married?"  She didn't ask in a nice way - I felt like I was being accused of being some sort of a floozy, picking up a sick old man.  I said "eleven years."  I don't think she believed me.  It has only been 8 "married" years but we have lived together for 11.  And what does it matter anyway?  Even if it had only been 5 minutes, we are not trying to cheat the NHS out of a bed space!
I said I work full time and he will need support to be at home.  She said something vague about Social Services, but I don't trust her to do anything.
So tomorrow I have made an appointment to see the Macmillan nurse to get some proper help, support and truth.  Not to mention Radiotherapy.
I left FL sleeping again.  I have taken him the Kex blanket I knitted.  At least I can be sure he will be warm tonight.

Let's continue and knit 15 rows to sock B. Choose the colour of the day from a childhood favourite book and choose the pattern as you like.

It is a symptom of my own tiredness that today I picked up the wrong sock and knitted 15 rows on it.

It doesn't really matter.  As long as I remember to make them both the same length by the end!

I instantly thought of Pippi Longstocking, and used yarn left from my own pair of long stockings :)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Advent Sock day 14

FL was just finishing his lunch when I arrived to visit today.  He had eaten nearly everything and was still awake.
He was much more alert than yesterday and able to concentrate on reading and conversation. What a difference!
The haematology doctor came to see him at about 3pm.
She explained that they are still waiting for an appointment for radiotherapy to his sternum and would prefer he has this before he goes home. They are also keen for him to have some physiotherapy, but it is harder to arrange on the general ward than in Haematology, where there are still no beds available.
He said he really wants to go home asap.
I became quite anxious that he would get himself discharged without having any support arranged in the community.  I would be so worried to leave him home alone for an 9 hour working day, not knowing if he was warm enough / able to feed himself / steady enough on his feet to get around the house.
Poor FL thought I was refusing to have him home again and took some convincing that I was simply concerned for his basic health and safety.  The doctor understood what I was saying and asked FL to think about his new "base level" - it is lower than before and is likely to deteriorate from this point forward:  how much better it would be to have support in place now, before it becomes critical!
She explained that once he goes home it will be harder to access the initial assessment for support.  If the process can be started while he is in hospital it is likely to be quicker, as the hospital needs the bed and will put pressure on Social Services to assist.
All he really needs just now is to have someone look in on him at lunchtime on the days when I am at work, to check he gets some food, is drinking, and has enough heat.  But without that level of reassurance, I would be afraid to work full time.
He is not pleased.

Let's continue with sock B. Choose the colour of the day from a place you have wanted to visit.

I would love to visit Iceland.  I decided to google "Iceland knitting"and use the colour of the first image that came up:

Which pretty much left all options open to me!
A sheepy colour?  A rainbow variegated?
And then I thought about what I would like to see on a visit to Iceland and one of my answers was the Northern Lights.  So I unearthed the remains of a skein of Fleece Artist Sock in the colour "Cosmic Dawn":  perfect!  I love it so much!  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Advent sock day 13

FL was asleep when I arrived but was easily wakened.
He was a much better colour today and was able to hold a conversation and read the newspaper.
If only they had given him that transfusion sooner!

However, he told me that he had been really frightened during the night because he woke up feeling very very cold and could not find the energy to look for more clothes.  As a former mountain climber, he believed he was at risk of hypothermia.  It did not occur to him to press his buzzer to alert a nurse. 
He eventually managed to reach his jumper and jacket and pull them on.
This is really alarming, because it is warm in the hospital - unlike home, where we struggle to get the temperature of the farmhouse up to a comfortable level in the winter.  I would be scared to have him come home like this.
When his lunch arrived, I went out for mine.  A work colleague had offered to take me to her house for lunch to escape the ward for an hour.
So very kind!  It was lovely to have a "normal" conversation and make faces at her baby :)
New knitting project required...
FL was asleep when I got back.  He had trailed his dangling blood-line through his macaroni cheese - yuck!
One of his golf pals turned up, and unlike the other day FL was up for some banter - brilliant!  The pal didn't stay long, but brought some cheer to the whole ward.  There is one old man in particular who always seems so lonely and visibly perked up in response to "boy talk" from FL's visitor.
All too soon it was time for me to head home to the dog.  
Back again tomorrow.

Continue sock A by knitting 12 rounds in the color of the mug/glass from which you first drank today.

I cheated - the purple sparkly yarn is inspired by my coffee pot :)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Advent sock day 12

An astonishing thing happened this morning.
I was sitting at home with my toast and coffee, a mournful-eyed dog at my elbow, when my mobile phone started to ring...
It was FL!
Only yesterday he could not hold the phone steady for long enough to find a number, let alone stay awake long enough to hold a conversation.
Why the change?  Last night they gave him a bag of blood AT LAST.
He didn't say much, but he was able to be in touch.
Just wow.
When I arrived at the hospital, he was asleep, but it was easy to wake him and he was able to hold a short conversation.
He said they had intended to give him two bags but something went wrong with his port and they had to cancel the second.
He managed to eat a pear (I must buy more!) and settled down with the newspaper while I knitted my sock.  It felt... almost normal.
When lunch arrived, he made a valiant attack on it, but fell asleep halfway through.
I sneaked out to get myself a coffee.
When I came back, they were just hooking him up for the second bag of blood.
I could see from the monitor that his blood pressure is alarmingly low:  they checked it every 15 minutes, which was reassuring.
The transfusion was only halfway done at 4pm and I needed to get back to the dog. I woke him to say I'd be back tomorrow morning.
He rang me again just now - it took until 8pm to finish bag two and he said they were still watching his blood pressure.
I have no illusions: this is a temporary fix.  
But how lovely to have him back in the present for a little while longer!

Saturday night is lottery night in Finland so let your color of the day be decided by the lottery and continue sock A by knitting 12 rounds in this color. Choose from your scrap yarns for example six nice colors and decide beforehand which color represent which numbers. Then let the first lottery number determine the color. If you don't have national lottery on Saturdays in your country, you can check the Finnish lottery numbers here.

The problem with this clue was two-fold:  (1) I didn't expect still to be awake when the Finnish lottery results were announced, and (2) I can't abide the shouty UK Lottery TV programme.  I think I have only bought a lottery ticket once in my life (I didn't win).
So I did it my own way and had a "Lucky Dip" in my scrap yarn bin instead.

And the winner is....
12 rows of a Knitting Goddess sample in Love Heart Red - perfect for transfusion day!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Advent sock day 11

First of all:  your comments and offers of support, both practical and psychological, are just amazing. Thank you thank you thank you from both of us.

This advent countdown has taken on a whole new layer of meaning for me.  This was never supposed to be a misery memoir, but I need to get it out and the blog has been my journal of choice for all these years, so... it is what it is.  If it is too much for you, I understand and won't hold it against you if you need to stop reading and come back in happier times.

I got to the hospital at 11-ish, after a long walk with the dog, who is clearly in need of extra support right now.  He raided the recycling bin while I was out yesterday!
FL was asleep in his chair, so I took up residence with my sparkly sock.
He woke soon after and we had a surprisingly lucid conversation for maybe 15 minutes, before he subsided again.  He is now the reluctant owner of a zimmer frame and is not amused by it.  But at least it means he now has a chance of getting to the toilet in time.  I witnessed another patient press his buzzer and wait almost half an hour to get some attention.
Lots more sleeping.
Then lunch.
I woke him to take his soup, but the fish defeated him.
I made a declaration of intent, and set off to find someone who could tell me what was planned. Because nothing has happened yet, other than monitoring and waiting.  And more waiting.
By chance, I met the haematology doctor by the lift.  She told me that the consultant was definitely coming to see FL today, probably around 3pm. I caught her off guard and without thinking she said "He is looking terrible!"  Um, yes.
Back on the ward, I managed to treat FLto some sliced pear and made him smile with the offer of a "finger of Fudge", a children's treat.  He didn't fancy it, but the smile was lovely to see.
So at 4pm the consultant came.  He woke up and was pleased to see her.  He said he knew things were bad when he started to get paranoid and confused.  That is the first time he has admitted that.
She told him he needs to stay in hospital so they can keep an eye on him day to day, hopefully in the Haematology ward as soon as a bed becomes available.  A blood transfusion is still planned.  He can't go home until he can move around safely:  a physio needs to do some work with him.
In a quieter tone she said to me: "I think we have to accept that this is the way things are.  His myeloma has increased and he is increasingly frail."
Which is probably the closest she will ever come to telling me the whole truth.

Let's continue with sock B by knitting 11 rounds. The colour of the day is determined by your blood type.
  • A: red
  • B:blue
  • AB: purple
  • O: black
  • Unknown: gray
HAHAHAHA hysterical Haematological socks!
And I don't have a clue what my blood type is.
So grey it is.

Advent Sock Day 10

Blogging from phone and cant seem to add photos. Will edit later.  Now with pictures :)

FL was pretty much the same today as yesterday, but rather lower  in mood.  He doesn't understand why he is in hospital if they are not going to do anything to help him.
His chest is still gurgling.  His legs are slightly less swollen.  He is still in pain.  He still sleeps more than he wakes.
When I arrived he was sitting on the edge of the bed, keeling over to one side as he drifted in and out of sleep.  He thought he had had an "accident" but had not told anyone.  I alerted a nurse and he was walked unsteadily through to the toilet.  When they returned, she said there had been nothing wrong.
The man in the next bed said he thought FL had accidentally flushed before standing up and that this had upset him.
It breaks my heart to see him so unhappy.
I asked to see the doctor, and when he came he explained that they are really just providing FL with a bed while they wait for haematology to "do something".  A blood transfusion has been mentioned but there is no word of when it will happen.
There is still no room on the haematology ward for him.  I have realised that he probably no longer fits their criteria.  He is not on super-drug any more, so is not of special scientific interest.
He is to all intents and purposes just one more not-very-well confused old man among many, with no chance of dignity or personalised care.
The sign on the toilet wall says it must be checked for cleanliness every two hours.  The last signature was dated two days ago.  It is obvious they are under-staffed.
Tomorrow I intend to spend the whole day with him, if that is what it takes to ensure he is properly fed, washed and helped to the toilet when he needs to go.
Because this is what it has come to.
I want my FL back.

We'll return to sock B and knit 10 rounds. The colour of the day is determined from your favourite game. You can e.g. choose the colour of your favourite token, or pick it from a central character or element in the game.

For the life of me I could not think of a game, other than the Dr Seuss Green Eggs and Ham board game which I used to play with the kids when they were small.  Maybe I was still thinking about that soup from the other day!  I couldn't go for green again, so opted for orange.

Orange had additional meaning today because I also wore my orange Angelus Novus cardigan for the first time, to brighten up the hospital.

I hope to give it a blog post of its own one day, but for now let me just tell you that I love it :)
It is soft and warm and comfortable and the colour and shape are so striking, even without blocking.
I know it will look better after a soak and a press, but I wanted FL to see it as soon as it was finished.

Pattern:  Angelus Novus by East London Knits, Renee.

Yarn:  Wool Kitchen BFL dk in the colour "Shepard's Warning"

My cardigan is an exact copy of Ms Wool Kitchen's own test knit of this pattern.  I saw it on Instagram and had to have it.
And now I do.  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Advent sock day 9

When the Haematology doctor came to see FL today, it was the first time he had been seen by someone who knew him and understood how far his condition has deteriorated in an alarmingly short time.  He brightened up when we woke him to see a familiar face, someone who might be able to help.
This doctor was firmly of the opinion that he doesn't have a chest infection at all, "just" excessive fluid built up in his chest.  She bumped up his dose of diuretic tablets and suggested reducing his morphine levels to get him awake and mobile again.  His legs are badly swollen, so he is going to get some help from a physiotherapist.  I mentioned a blood transfusion, and she agreed it would be good to get that done while he is in hospital, sooner rather than later.
She promised to do all she can to get him on to the specialist ward:  the beds are currently all taken up by chemotherapy patients. 
When they brought his lunch, I sought refuge in the cafe attached to the medical school and made use of work's free wifi to catch up on emails. When I returned, he was asleep on the table, lunch abandoned and pills ignored.  I spent the next half hour trying to wake him to take the pills and sip some water.
I decided to go to work for the rest of the afternoon.  I needed to make sure I had left clear instructions for someone else to cover the essentials if I can't be there.
Back home, the farm was doing a good impression of Wuthering Heights and I had a bit of a meltdown.  Oh dear, Roo!
I was rescued by a phone call from my son, who works in a call centre.  He was cursing the Norse gods for cancer and I sobbed that I was worried his boss would hear him.  He thought that was hilarious, as he was in the corridor on his mobile:  if he had been on a work line, his language would automatically have set off red flashing lights and an alarm on his supervisor's monitor and he would have been hauled out of the room!  What a marvelous system - we should have the same in my workplace!
I had a second call from one of FL's golf pals who visited him this evening.  He had been much more alert and managed to walk to the toilet with a nurse, attempting a waltz!?!
Wow.  Just wow.
I can sleep more easily now.  And I hope not to wake at 4am, expecting to give FL his pills...

PS Hero accepts your congratulations for exceptional bladder control :)

Continue sock A by knitting 9 rounds. Today's theme is runes. For those of you doing colorwork, you can find below charts that you can use to write your own name or at least something close to it. Since runes have been used, among others, by vikings, today's color comes from vikings as well. In viking mythology, there is the rainbow bridge of Bifrost that was made from fire (=red), air (=blue) and water (=green). So, choose your color based on which element you feel is closest to your personality.

Oh, you know me, I can't just make a decision that easily!
I decided to look up the meaning / element of the runes which would spell "Roo"to see if that gave me a single answer.

Raido Rune - Uses: invites renewal, safe spiritual or physical journeyRaidoRJourney, Wheel
Invites Renewal and Safe Journey - Physical or Spiritual

Uruz Rune - Uses: Invites creativity & wealthUruzUStrength
Invites Creativity
and Wealth

That feels like a message from my son's Norse gods.
As my last stripe was the colour of Earth, I chose the colour of Air, blue.