Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Misadventures of The Mad Stitcher—Take One

It was Sunday evening and The Mad Stitcher was frantically trying to finish up some last details before going away on a much anticipated, much needed stitching retreat to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She had been looking forward to this trip for months and the time was finally here. But she was nowhere ready for it. She still had to do laundry before she could pack and she still needed to decide just which stitching projects to take with her. Although she would only be gone for four days she always tended to pack for four weeks! She was in the process of packing her *snack* bag when she felt it—that awful twinge followed by the excruciating pain radiating down from her back to her right leg. She caught herself before she fell and managed to sit down. Noooooooo! She cried. Why now? (Strike one!)

She reached for her meds and hoped that she would be able to head it off before it became a full blown attack. She relaxed and slept for the rest of the evening and all of the following day. But on Tuesday The Mad Stitcher knew she had to get some things done. She managed to throw a load of clothes into the washing machine and then again sat down to rest. It became clear that her plans were in jeopardy. But she was determined that she was going on this trip. It only happened once a year and this was her one chance to get away from the real world for a couple of days.

Her dear friend Kiki was to come to her house on Wednesday and the two of them would drive together to the beach. She emailed Kiki to let her know what was going on but refused to cancel her plans. When Kiki arrived on Wednesday afternoon, nothing was done. But in true friendship fashion, Kiki began to sort laundry and pack for her dear friend. Soon her suitcase was ready for the last minute toiletries. The bag with the snacks was ready for loading and the cooler was ready for the soft drinks they would be taking. All that was left to do was pack the stitching bag. So as The Mad Stitcher pointed and *supervised*, the bag was readied for travel. That night the two of them went to bed early so that they could get an early start in the morning.

Thursday arrived with wonderful unseasonably warm weather and Kiki began loading the car. She wouldn’t let The Mad Stitcher do anything! Trip after trip was made until finally the last bag, box, and hanger was loaded. All that remained to do was load The Mad Stitcher’s wheelchair on to the lift attached to her car. The key was inserted and the lift lowered to the correct position. The chair was guided into place and the lift began rising. When it was about two inches off the ground it suddenly stopped. It wouldn’t move any further. Kiki started the car thinking maybe the battery was low. It didn’t help. The Mad Stitcher checked all the connections—nothing worked! What now? She thought! Finally she called the lift company. She was very frustrated and by now was in quite a bit of pain. She finally got to talk to a real person and followed all the *checks* that she suggested. She was finally reminded that she had a manual crank that she could use to finish raising the chair. After what seemed like hours--and unloading and reloading the car a couple of times--the crank was found, the chair was raised, and they were on their way at last! (Strike two!)

As she pulled out of the driveway, The Mad Stitcher began to calm down and relax a bit. It took a while but even the pain in her back and legs lessened. The two friends were able to laugh about it later and spent the next few hours driving and catching up on all the happenings of their lives and families. They had gotten a much later start but eventually arrived at the hotel in good spirits.

As they pulled into the hotel registration area, they saw their other friend and roommate Angel coming to help. They got the chair unloaded first, then Kiki and Angel unloaded the car and sent The Mad Stitcher on ahead to the room. As the Mad Stitcher approached the elevator the door was open and she moved her chair into position for entering. Just as she started into the elevator the doors closed hitting her knees. (Remember, it is her bad knees that has her in the wheelchair in the first place!) She screamed in pain and a couple ran to assist. Although the hotel staff was there in an instant the damage had already been done. The pain was unbelievable. Why had it had to hit her knees for goodness sake? Why had the door started to close in the first place? Why me? She thought. (Strike three!)

It was becoming more and more evident that this weekend should not have taken place for The Mad Stitcher. She should have stayed home and nursed her back in solitude! Statements were taken. Ice was placed on her injured knee. And The Mad Stitcher sat down to elevate her legs and recover. Kiki and Angel finished unpacking and getting everything ready for the weekend. They decided to go to a local needlepoint shop but The Mad Stitcher decided to stay in and get some rest before the weekend workshop started. When the others returned they decided to get something to eat in the hotel restaurant rather than going out again. They met up with a group of fellow stitchers and enjoyed a couple of hours together. They returned to the room and prepared for bed. Since The Mad Stitcher was unable to sleep in a bed she chose the more comfortable (she thought) of the two chairs and prepared to sleep. But unfortunately the chair was more uncomfortable than she had anticipated. She couldn’t find a restful position and her back and legs began to throb. By morning she was ready to scream! But she had known that physically it would be difficult so she kept going.

The next morning they were ready to start. The classes were wonderful. Meg Thompson Shinall (daughter of Ginnie Thompson) of the Flower Thread Company was the teacher and host. The Mad Stitcher reacquainted herself with past friends and met several new ones. The class project was lots of fun and she knew she would enjoy finishing it. She learned several new stitches and cutting techniques and was very pleased with the results. It was a sampler continuing the Full Moon Series started several years before. This one was the Buck Moon. There will be a total of twelve in this series. Past ones include Wolf Moon, Snow Moon, Linton Moon, Pink Moon, Full Flower Moon, and Strawberry Moon.

They went for seafood the following night and it was marvelous. You can never have too much seafood! And The Mad Stitcher had been looking forward to it since last year! And while the others went shopping The Mad Stitcher stayed close to *home*. The Mad Stitcher played a game of musical chairs but came to the conclusion that sleep would not be allowed for this weekend! The weekend continued without further incident except that The Mad Stitcher became more and more physically taxed and exhausted. Soon it was Sunday and time to go home. Once again Angel and Kiki packed up and loaded the car. How can it be that there is more stuff coming home when much of what was carried was consumed or left behind? The mysteries of physics? Once more the two of them were on the road. With only the minimum stop for gas and lunch, they made excellent time. They arrived and once again Kiki had the task of unloading the car. At least she was staying the night and continuing home the next morning. The Mad Stitcher was very relieved to be home. As she sat down in her *blue monster* she never would have believed that she was actually glad to see it again. Her blue chair was horribly worn out and not the most comfortable chair in the world—thus the *blue monster* tag—but compared to what she had been forced to use these last four days, it was heaven! Needless to say these two weary stitchers had a very early night of it!

The next morning Kiki reloaded her own car and dressed and headed for home—or rather work! After she left The Mad Stitcher once again fell asleep. She awoke only to go to the bathroom. She took her meds and tried to keep her feet and legs elevated. Her knees were still swollen and the bruises were still painful and *tight*. She knew she needed to take her diuretic (Lasix) but didn’t have the energy to get up and down for the bathroom every few minutes. So Monday was a wasted day. She slept all day and didn’t even stitch or check emails. Tuesday became a *dragging* day. She did nothing useful but did take her meds and check her emails—over 600….some will have to wait! Again on Wednesday she took her diuretic and began to feel slightly more human. After four days of diuretics, pain pills, rest, and recuperating The Mad Stitcher was finally able to pick up her stitching once more. Her Japanese Garden was sadly neglected but now once again would have some attention.

Although her house is still a mess, her laundry hasn’t yet been done, her lift has not yet been repaired and her body still feels like it has been through the wringer, The Mad Stitcher has no regrets. The emotional, spiritual, and psychological benefits far outweigh the physical hardships. There will always be physical barriers to cross and obstacles to overcome but time spent with friends is far too short and infrequent to let these barriers interfere. And this is one time when *Three Strikes do not make an out!*

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Today is my birthday. Why do I feel so unhappy? Why do I feel so alone? I always get so depressed this time of year. I think because Bo and I have shared our birthdays for so long and now he is no longer here with me. And, of course, tomorrow is the anniversary of Mom's death. It seems I am losing everyone who means anything to me. The only person I have left is my son Jason. What would I do without him?