The Kidney Stone Sweater

I’ve been trying to listen to the big old ‘Stop’ sign I was given and really just rest while taking some time off of work. My mom and step dad came with their trailer to help take care of the girls while I was in the hospital. We have a spot for their ‘home away from home’ on the other side of our garage, which worked perfectly.

My sound surgery is scheduled and there is a bit of hope I can get back to normal soon. I had no idea how crazy kidney stones were. I’m not looking forward to the ‘night before surgery prep’, but I’m a big girl. If it helps break up these stones to rid me of this agony, I can handle it. Truthfully, I think I’d be going insane with anxiety right now if it wasn’t for my knitting.

It felt good to pick up my purple sweater again. To begin to make progress once more and imagining the finished piece has begun to help me heal a part of myself that I have been ignoring for a long time. Life has often been too busy for me to be creative. When I do find time, it’s often for someone else. I love giving. It does feed my spirit, but there is a magic in giving to yourself.

While working on my sweater, I kept staring at some yarn that I had been struggling with for almost a year to figure out what it wanted to be. Then it hit me. I began to picture a sweater coming together. To knit in the round from sleeve cuff to sleeve stuff and then the body in the round from some picked up stitches. I found a simple variation on stockinette stitch and set to work. My mom picked up some more yarn for me to be able to finish because it was working up quickly. She felt my need to complete my vision.

This sweater kept me stable when my pain medication made me sick and I had trouble focusing (I got more medication to help with that). I mapped out the shoulder, and chest and back construction while backed up from my medications (I’m taking something for that too). My hands found a spellbinding rhythm while I sat with my kids and pictured my stones shrinking and finding their way out. I clung to getting this done while I emailed my boss about taking another week off of work, while in my urology appointment discussing my options, while staring at our overgrown lawn fretting about all the things I suddenly couldn’t do.

I could hardly wait to share my creation with my friends and some knitting communities. The response has been amazing and I’m now spinning my wheels on writing a knitting pattern book. It will take a lot of time and some test knitters and editors and lots of work, but I’ve got ideas percolating. But for now, I present the original version of my first original design.

Knitting in the Hospital

One perk of being stuck in the hospital is time to knit. I wanted my most soothing projects with me and my purple sweater is definitely that. The poor garment has been sitting on the back burner for so long that it took me halfway through a row to realize I had forgotten to mark a row. So I ticked back and fell right into the rhythm of it. It felt good to just sit with my knitting.

I have definitely been enjoying the view and am so glad I got the window side of the room. Much less claustrophobic. It’s been really refreshing to just sit here, or shuffle back and forth, simply staring out at this beauty. I’m realizing how active I’ve been, and yet so unproductive. I’m disappointed it took a massive kidney stone to wake me up, but I swear I’m listening now. It won’t be fast changes, but I’ve laid a lot of groundwork in my past, so I should be able to implement some solid improvements soon.

This shawl is another soothing knit. St. John’s Wort stitch applied to a simple crescent shawl pattern. It’s repetitive enough to be easy on the mind, but interesting enough to not get boring. Watching the cows graze and the clouds float by while feeling my yarn and needles in my hands is so soothing. I may be in the hospital, but I’m trying to soak up this forced rest to the best of my ability. Especially now that I’m in a room alone and am not being checked on quite as much.

Well, That Was an Adventure

I swear I sat down every night ready to write a post, but it all just felt jumbled and forced. Life just kept coming at me faster and faster and I had no time to sort anything out. I did my workouts, I went to work, I cooked meals, I cleaned, I drove everyone to their appointments, the girls had their first sleepover (one kid could not stay because of a mild head injury received at our house while goofing around), and all while managing that awful back pain.

My birthday arrived and it was a pretty good day. Got my workout in, left for work on time, had a nice day massaging people, things got a little stressful at home, and a friend of mine was able to come over and hang out. Then I woke up the next morning. The pain was pretty bad. I tried moving to the couch. It got worse and I didn’t want the kids to see me cry. My husband tried helping me with massage, but he was barely awake and every time he stopped the pain was worse. Then we thought about driving me into the doctor’s office and then it was call the ambulance now.

My poor kids watched as I crawled and scooted down the stairs, threw up, and then got strapped onto a stretcher. The ambulance had to stop to pick up the EMT with the pain medication. We were all beginning to assume it was kidney stones. The rest is a bit of a blur, but CT scan confirmed the kidney stone. The x-ray verified where it was. A 7mm kidney stone just below my kidney and some smaller ones inside it. And yes, it hurts worse than childbirth. Childbirth was a 7 or an 8 on my pain scale. This was an 11.

I’ve been here for three days now and have a stent in my ureter. They’re waiting for my culture results to see what kind of infection I have with this. I can’t leave until they know what kind of antibiotics to give me. But between the back pain and now these stones, things need to change. I cannot keep up with chasing everything. Right now, I’m enjoying the rest (between the rounds of pain) and taking the vacation I had denied myself. Hopefully it will be the start of something better when I get out of here.

Bringing my Goddess Back

I’m going to do it. I’m going to get back on track and start doing the things I need to do to take care of myself so I can be here, fully, for my crazy family. My body has been begging for so long it has entered into an aggressive strike against my ‘hibernate until it’s over’ method of choice. I’ve lost touch with my personal power and have not felt goddess-like in quite some time now.

The strike began when I decided to have a big bowl of ice cream and suffer the consequences. The next day was spent lying around in agony which caused some back muscles to seize up, and now I can’t seem to shake this back pain at all. I know why it hurts. My hips are twisted and bent, my shoulders hunched and tight, my neck is shriveling into my collarbone, and my abs are being devoured by my pelvis. I have been clinging to my struggles so hard, that I have forgotten (once again) how to even breathe. Then I had ice cream and everything that has been holding me together threw their hands up and said “fuck it. Fine. Be a miserable wench!”

So after helping others feel better through massage, and working through my own pain while taking Advil, then running around to take care of our daughter’s probation stuff, and her therapy appointments, and errands, and… I think you get the idea, I have decided to start my routine again. It’s the only way I feel good regularly and the only way I can manage my life.

OCD to the rescue! I bought a bunch of these accordion folders before returning to work in order to organize my workouts and recipes to make my life easier when I would be busier. One of my better ideas, if I do say so. Everything is sorted into its own section, easily found. I’m pairing some yoga and exercises in the morning with a yoga routine in the evening. And I am determined to stop being in pain.

I’m going to try to keep up with posting my efforts here. I know a lot of us have fallen out of good habits and into bad ones in order to cope with the craziness of these Covid times. Our lives had to adjust in drastic ways. Even if we were able to keep it together through the first several months (that was me. First several months were a breeze. Comparatively speaking), we are all growing weary under the weight of it. So, here we go! My millionth time starting healthy habits again. I’m excited.

A Bunch of Ripe Avocados

What do you do when you have a bunch of ripe avocados and you’re the only person who really eats them in the house? I have one a day. While waiting for the girls and their dad to get home, I made myself a snack. I mixed up some chicken salad and topped it off with sliced avocado and Kalamata olives. It was delicious!

Shockingly, I had some time to myself again the next day. This time I dished up some vanilla Greek yogurt and topped it with sliced avocado and honey granola. It was a perfect combination of sweet and mild for me. This avocados are just ridiculously perfect!

Today, I made us all peach smoothies with bananas, vanilla Greek yogurt, orange juice, and frozen peaches. Mine, of course, had avocado in it. I’m thinking I’ll pack a salad for work tomorrow and put some avocado on it and maybe Caesar dressing. Maybe a turkey and avocado sandwich the next day. That leaves me with one last avocado. If it’s still ripe, maybe I’ll make a scrambled egg salsa wrap. Yum.
I hope everyone is eating healthy and enjoying some avocados!

Feel Good Dinner

This evening was a nice relaxing finish to a busy day. Our dentist called and could fit our middle one in today. So off we went and my daughter was amazing. She’s usually really anxious, but was fantastic through it all.

Then home again to switch off kids with my husband so he could run his errands and I could take our oldest to her appointment. Finally getting her help again. Just being heard does amazing things to a person’s temperament. We picked up a few things on our way home and their friend showed up shortly there after.

Thankfully I had a plan for dinner with zucchini and Summer squash that needed cooking and some big bags of potatoes that needed to be eaten. So I sliced the potatoes and got them in the oven for roasting, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and some paprika for a kick. Frozen chicken breasts into the pan with salt, garlic, tarragon, dried cilantro, and some chili powder. Then I sliced up the squash and put that in the oven too. Everything seemed to time out pretty well and I even threw some shredded cheddar onto the potatoes at the end.

The Three I’m Reading

I went to the bookstore when I should not be buying books, but I had been left in such a fog after The Sun is Not the Only Star that I had to find something epic to follow it. After wandering among the shelves and picking up this book and that one, only to put them back, I took an employee’s offer to help. He led me to another book by the same author and I usually need an author break. So I wandered with that book for a while, and then it hit me. I wanted more books by my new favorite author, Christina Henry. I read Alice a few years ago and absolutely loved it.

I went to her spot on the shelf, and of course they didn’t have the one I wanted, Red Queen, which comes after Alice. So, I went to the counter to order it and then asked if this employee had any suggestions. I see this guy at Barnes and Noble regularly, and he is always great at finding a good title or getting me or my kids headed in the right direction. So, after seeing the title I was ordering and saying I needed something epic to follow it with, he suggested Rabbits, which he hasn’t read. He said if you like Ready Player One, you would love this book, based on fellow employees’ statements. How many people even watched Ready Player One? I was excited.

The best label for this book I’ve seen is it’s a techno-thriller. The quote on the cover does a good job of giving a good impression of the book, too. I’m barely into it, but have to put it down regularly to make sure I still have a grasp on reality. Talk about going down a rabbit hole! I’m even more excited that my mom couldn’t resist buying herself a copy and she is reading it now too!

I’m currently bouncing between three books. It’s the mood I’m in right now. I’m just surprised that they’re all fantasy/fiction books, although, one is a teen read, another early adulthood, and the last is young adulthood (that’s what I’m calling the late 20’s through late 30’s years). The Girl in Red by Christina Henry (another wild ride especially since it came out in 2019-read it and you’ll know what I mean) and Life and Death by Stephanie Meyer (all the Twilight haters can keep it to themselves, the books were amazing. If I’ve read something more than once, then it must be amazing because I haven’t got time to reread bad books). I love revisiting the story in a new way and think Meyer has done that very well.

Anyone else reading something amazing that they want to share with the world? Fill me in! I’d love to hear all about it!

Fighting With the Lawnmower

Every lawnmower I hear is mocking me.

Ugh!!!! I’m so frustrated. It feels like every time I go to mow the lawn, something happens to the dang mower or me. One time I forgot how to do the choke and my husband’s explanation over the phone was no help. Another time I got smoke coming from the engine. It was just oil in the air filter, but I had to look it up. I mean, I knew it was something with the oil because the smoke was white, but it’s been over a decade since I’ve had to mow a lawn.

Another time, the cord snapped in half as I pulled to start it. One time, I was just too tired from mowing to pull the cord right. And today. Today, the fixed cord decided to pop out of the pull handle. The grass is too long, I’ve been too tired or it’s been too hot (over 90 degrees Fahrenheit plus humidity), and I really just want this damn lawn mowed.

Meal Planning Makes Cooking Possible

We still have a lot of setting up to do in the kitchen and some key furniture pieces to get to really have a functioning space. There just isn’t really anywhere to keep our dry foods and flatware and cups in the actual kitchen. We knew it was small, and I’m really enjoying a smaller space (easier cleanup), but my five extra shelves aren’t enough for everything and we really need a movable island for a work area.

Even with all that, I’ve been cooking again and trying to get back into meal planning. It has always helped keep food cost and waste down, but I have so much less stress trying to figure out what to make. I don’t designate meals to specific nights because who knows what the week will bring. I decide the night before or the morning of what I’ll make for dinner so I have enough time for any prep, or grabbing anything I forgot to get.

The picture is from the second night of the meal plan. I had to go to a different store to pick up the pulled BBQ chicken which I added BBQ sauce to. The avocado was perfect, and the kids were really excited for the melon salad. Especially the watermelon. We had turkey burgers and mashed sweet potatoes the other night. I managed to make chocolate chip strawberry waffles before leaving for work one morning. However, we couldn’t find the syrup. My daughters ate them anyway. Our oldest loves cooking scrambled eggs, so she will make that for them in the morning too.

Tonight, I’m planning on meatball kabobs with broccoli, peppers, and potatoes. I did buy frozen meatballs. I am going to be baking them all in the oven, and I’m not sure they’ll even make it onto the sticks, but kabobs we will be having.

Family Bonding and the Soothing Magic of Puzzles

I don’t really seem to have much to say these days. I’ve picked up more hours at work to try to make ends meet while my husband is still looking for work. That’s been keeping me busy and I’m actually enjoying it more than I thought I would. I love what I do, but it can be very draining, so I am really pleased that these extra appointments seem to be giving me more of a drive to get things done than ever before.

The girls have made a friend in the neighborhood. Well, my oldest has made a friend that is her age and her sisters play with him too. It’s a brand new thing to let the kids run over to his house and have him hanging out over here waiting to play with them. It’s caused some fights, but they’re figuring it out.

Our anxiety levels have been rather elevated lately. I am spending days battling it back or trying to ride it to motivation land. We finally caught up on everything, so that helps, but we still have address change stuff to do, including cars and licenses. We also both received jury duty summons. Honestly, I would love to do it. It would be an adventure, but I have to work and he has to be here for childcare so I can work. They always call on me when I’m the only income.

The biggest news is that we have begun completing this puzzle as a family. My stepdad made us puzzle boards and they have been going mostly unused. I spent three days putting it together with a little help. Now everyone is helping to color it. It is set up in our living room, which is ever closer to being all moved in looking and has been a great way to relax at the end of the day. I’m happy that we have reached the puzzle stage of family dynamics. We even have a set of markers just for the puzzle.

Each day we chip away at the list of to-do’s and each day we complete a little more of the puzzle. Once the puzzle is done, we’ll admire it and then take it all apart. Later, after a few more puzzles, we’ll pull it back out and have a whole new experience of putting it back together.