Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Calm before the Storm

Although I have very little real experience in being in a tornado, I recall seeing the movie “Twister”, a movie about chasing tornados. Between tornados there is always this eery calm before the next twister. I feel as if we have been going through this calm.

Admission to the hospital has been delayed. One of the cord blood transplants is coming from Europe and flights have shut down because of the volcanic ash spreading over Europe from Iceland. So everything has been moved back a week and we’ll know today if W. will be admitted to the City of Hope to start the process of receiving the transplant.

So as we wait, we have been accomplishing a few things. We now have a new garage and front door and they look beautiful. The contractors, Triangle Construction, were wonderful and I highly recommend them. Walter rounded up enough energy to patch a rather large hole in one of our walls. And I have started my Spring Cleaning, focusing on sorting my stash of fiber, yarns and projects.

I was shocked to learn that I have over 50 lbs of fiber and roving to spin up. This should get me through a lot of cold winters, and then some. Last night I counted all my UFOs (unfinished objects), which amounted to 40 projects. I decided to frog (unravel or “rip-it”) 15 of them. Eleven of them are finished except for sewing up or adding some buttons. That left about 14 active projects to work on. I must have some kind of OCD as I am fighting the urge to start something new.

My next step is to count and sort my yarn---O my! Any guesses as to how much of that I have? I think the local woman’s charity is going to be very happy with my donation of yarn this year, if I can bear to part with it.

W.and I have tried to do as much as possible to celebrate his freedom before he goes into the hospital for a month or more. Fatigue prevents him from doing a lot along this line, but he does like to eat. His big thing was searching for the best Banana Split in the area. I think he has decided that Millie’s Restaurant has everyone beat. He has been stocking up on audiobooks to pass the time in the hospital. We are awaiting to see if he can take his laptop so he can have other means of entertaining himself in isolation. The only thing that we were unable to do is see the upcoming movies that W. wants to see, i.e. Iron Man 2. He will, however, have access to some movies, in the hospital cable TV.

W and I have had some time to talk about worst case scenarios. We are in agreement with decisions that should be made if things should worsen. I think we have a peace about that. However, I cannot escape some little trepidation and fear when reality hits. Nevertheless, I am the sort of person that has not panicked in crisis and God will help me through any event. I have total confidence in this and I trust HIM. In my personal bible study, I was asked to write a psalm. Here it is……

Diana’s Psalm

Praise the Lord for he is good,

His love and mercy endures forever.

He provides courage for the sick and troubled.

He walks besides us leading the way.

He dries our tears and comforts our fears

And folds his loving arms around us.

Praise the Lord for he is good

He provides for all our needs when we trust him

Overwhelming worries become like dust

When we turn it all over to him

Like the sparrows of the earth who are tenderly cared for

He tenderly cares for us to provide everything we need.

Praise the Lord for he is good

He brings people to comfort and encourage us

He lifts us up like leaves on a big tree.

To see the love and support around us on sturdy branches.

Praise the Lord for giving us peace

He gives us hope for a better future

He promises us a home with him eternally.

The troubles of the world disappear.

Praise the Lord for He is good

His love and mercies endure forever.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Tornado of Life

W. and I have been caught up in a whirlwind of activity these past few weeks. There has been the medical tests, pulmonary, heart, blood, bone marrow, multiple lab tests, to see if W.s body can handle this very intensive procedure and recovery after a stem cell transplant. There are multiple doctor consults, and education classes to attend. A lot of the time is spend in waiting rooms. I fear I have gained weight by just sitting too much. What a drag.

This procedure is very important. It is a BIG DEAL! This might be W’s only chance at a stem cell transplant and a longer life span. We are jumping through every hoop we can to make this happen.

There is also some sense of finality about this. Although the hope is there for a future, it has some big risks associated with it. The worst case scenario is that Walter will not come home. We have spoken about this possibility and I think we are both somewhat at peace with this and we are both in a mode of sharing every moment possible getting the house ready. For what I know not. We know God is in control and we trust him for whatever he wants for us. I think Walter is trying to squeeze every ounce of strength and energy out of his body and do something with it, knowing that he is likely going to have to rebuild his strength again from scratch after the transplant. I have finally allowed W. to drive again, regaining some sense of independence, he has craved since last January.

The other day, I shared with Walter that I did not have a desk or room for myself. My stuff, i.e fiber and yarn stuff, is spread throughout the house. Now, we have two extra rooms and so he decided we should each get one for our “stuff”. So we have been moving furniture and sorting through our collection of stuff, paring it down and organizing.

Since we were blessed with a tax refund this year, the first in many years, we decided to finally replace our garage and front doors. So in the one week we have left together before he enters the hospital for his transplant, we have been trying to get all this done.

Doing all of this is very therapeutic for our emotional health. It helps distract us from our hidden fears. It helps us be productive and prepare for the future whatever it might be. It gives us a sense of living life to the fullest, a sense of normality, when over the past year it has been anything but normal. God has been good to us. It almost feels like the week before our wedding. All the planning is done. You know your life is about to change dramatically, and you are trying to stay in control of your emotions, your fears, your hopes and dreams for the future.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's All about Heart!

Perhaps you’ve been wondering what has happened to my knitting in the midst of all this. It may sound that my husband’s health has taken over my life, and to be truthful, it has. However, what keeps me calm is my knitting. I cannot imagine going anywhere without it. It has become my 3rd arm.

With the exciting, yet fearful news that W. will be undergoing a stem cell transplant, we have been swept up in a whirlwind of appointments: lab tests, x-rays and scans, nutrition classes to learn how to prevent food borne infections, biopsies, blood evaluations for every virus known to man. I’m not kidding when I tell you since last Wed to next week, we have over 20 medical appointments! With this always comes the “Sit and wait” time and I try to relax to knit a portable project and this time it is Vanilla Socks. Vanilla socks, in knitting lingo usually means knitting a basic sock pattern, however, this time I really am knitting some Vanilla socks, an off-white elastic cotton I found in my stash that I needed to do something with.

I was browsing through Michaels Crafts, my favorite store, and came across a book called Socks from the Toe Up, by Wendy Johnson. She is a well-known, at least to the knitting and sock making world, who first developed this technique of making socks. The book had a variety of patterns from plain socks, using different cast-ons, different heel techniques and bind-offs, to beautiful lace and textured patterns.

I had never tried a textured pattern before and found one I thought simple enough to do without too much concentration…..a heart pattern.

The yarn is a cotton yarn, spun in boucle fashion with a strand of lycra, that makes it stretch. With summer coming, cotton is breathable and I wanted to try to knit a well-fitting sock that would hug my foot without being too tight. This is my experiment and it is going well so far.

It certainly has sparked the interest of many fellow “waiters” at City of Hope. It’s amazing how easy it is to start a conversation with strangers there. The fact that we are all going through some kind of cancer or health situation binds us all together in many ways. Anywhere we go there in the City of Hope, there is tremendous compassion and support, among the staff and fellow patients and caregivers. All hospitals should be this way.