All the Rest

This week, I’m resting. It’s not something I like to do, but it’s something I understand I must do. In just about two weeks, my brother and his family are coming out for Christmas. I am utterly thrilled about this, but I have to prepare. Preparing for me is not like it is for most people. For most, it’s about cleaning the house and decorating to make the guests feel like it’s really Christmas! For me, it’s about storing as much energy as I can so that I can actually enjoy visiting people who I don’t get to see often enough. The house will be clean(ish). There will be some decoration (Michael put Christmas lights on the outside of our house for the first time ever!). It just won’t be up to the standards I would like. But my guests will understand.

Resting this week means that I am not going to any appointment outside of my house. It doesn’t mean that I won’t leave the house at all, it just means that I have the luxury of doing it if and when I feel up to it. The problem with my appointments is that I have to go at the time scheduled, but sometimes I feel sick and really wish I could stay home instead (and this includes fun things like knit night). The stress of the whole thing makes it so I use more energy than I might otherwise. I will have none of that this week. I am still going to work, but that’s easy enough because again, I can do it on my own time. I build in 3 days to my expected ship date to account for such things as “I don’t feel well enough to make the 2-minute drive the the post office and Michael is out of town and can’t drop it off for me.” The people who ask me for custom jobs give me a long enough lead time that I can easily meet their expectations. I have no worries about this.

This time, I’m a little more at peace with the idea that I have to rest. I still don’t like it, mind you, but I have found something that makes this need acceptable in my world. I got the testing back from Dr M, and finally, I look sick on paper. I’m sick enough that a pure medical doctor could see it. I’m in late stage adrenal failure. My acupuncturist doesn’t like the word “failure” to describe the condition, but I call it like I see it. My adrenal glands cannot keep up with the stress on my body, and they are now failing to do their job. I don’t judge them for it, I just know they can’t keep up.

Don’t get too excited that I finally have a diagnosis. I don’t. This is just like the ME/CFS diagnosis – adrenal failure is a symptom, not the disease. This also isn’t to be confused with Addison’s disease. As I understand it, Addison’s is usually autoimmune, with a few cases being about traumatic or congenital damage to the adrenal glands, and this is the primary disease. My adrenal glands are not damaged, they’re just overworked. The catch is, we need to find out why my adrenal glands are working too hard. There is some stressor hiding and completely overtaking my body. I have no evidence of infection or parasites. I am not emotionally stressed. I don’t seem to be having any more food reactions. It’s important to figure this out because adrenal insufficiency is life threatening.

Dr M was surprised when none of his testing showed a cause for the adrenal insufficiency. He was sure I had a parasite or infection that was just overlooked by my previous doctors. On the bright side, when the testing came back, he acknowledged that I am not an easy case, that I don’t fit into one of his boxes, and that I am really, really sick.

I have a theory about the biggest contributing factor to the adrenal problem. I think it’s my heart. I think that when I have low blood pressure and my heart tries to race to keep up with my cardiac output needs (a function powered by adrenaline), it puts demands on my adrenal glands that I can’t keep up with. I think that the dizzy spells I have been experiencing in the last few weeks are due to the fact that my body just can’t keep up, and it can’t get blood to my brain. I am going to mention this to Dr M the next time I see him. My next appointment is going to be after Christmas. He wants to retest and see if he can find parasites or infections that he can treat. We’re doing a protocol right now that should coax out anything hiding. If he doesn’t find something, I think that my theory should be explored. I am feeling more and more that my primary problem is cardiac output. If you don’t have enough blood circulation, it suppresses the immune system, makes you tired, and causes stress. Cardiomyopathy (or more particularly, whatever caused it) is very likely the root cause of my condition.

So, now that we’ve covered the technical stuff, let’s move on to the fun things!

I’m still doing well with my shop. I am growing quickly, and I’ve inquired with a wholesaler about forming a relationship so I can carry a larger variety of things in my shop! One thing I want in particular is commercially dyed wool so I can better fill these sampler packs I developed:

Wool Paint Sampler for Felting or Spinning - Hand dyed Merino Wool Roving in Flower Colors

I got the idea from these really cool felted paintings I’ve seen on Etsy. I realized that the people who make this art view wool like paint. I actually picked up needle felting supplies so I could try to make things like this – not that I have that level of skill,  but I can create simple things. I’m working on Christmas themed felt coasters right now. They look a little primitive, but skill takes time to develop.

I’ve also been making new cat toys. It helps that I have kittens to demo the products – I feel like this is a win for everyone involved. I get to test the toys on the kittens to make sure they are something cats actually want to play with, I get pictures of kitties actually using my toys so people can see that real cats like the toys, and the kittens get a little exposure (I mention in my listings that the kittens will be up for adoption, and if someone wants to pursue the adoption I can send them to the shelter to see if they are a good match).

I just developed “Kitty Fusilli”…

Cat Toy - Set of 3 Kitty Fusilli - Wool/ Cotton/ Silk/ NylonCat Toy - Set of 3 Kitty Fusilli - Wool/ Cotton/ Silk/ Nylon

and August helped me demo them! He was such a good sport with my toys.

I also got a few shots of the crocheted ring toys, again with August demonstrating how fun they are!

Cat Toy - Set of 3 Crochet Ring Toys for Cats - Wool/Cotton/synthetic Fibers - 2-inch Plastic RingKitty Toy Bliss

I love that last shot of August! He doesn’t always have his eyes crossed, I just think the toy was so close up that he had trouble focusing! He just looks so silly-happy about his toy!

August came to me about a week ago with his mother and three brothers. We have Snow, Mr Gold, Cricket, Charming, and August.

Snow Unnamed boy1 Unnamed boy2 Unnamed boy3 Unnamed boy4

With a little help from my friends on Facebook, we chose a “Once Upon a Time” theme for this little family.

I am working on getting adoption portraits for the kittens. The above picture of Snow is my choice for her at this moment. I have a series of pictures of Mr Gold, and I think that the last one might be his adoption portrait:

Mr Gold's toy 1 Mr Gold's toy 2 Mr Gold's toy 3 Mr Gold's toy 4 Mr Gold's toy 5

 

I have one more great picture from our play sessions, but this one isn’t useful for adoption.

Duck's Kitten

Duck strikes again, absolutely loving the foster kittens as if he were their mother – see his smile? I can’t say enough about how great Duck is with the kittens. He plays with them and grooms them as if they were his.

So, for having to deal with less than ideal circumstances, I’m doing all right. And for now I’m going to rest, knowing that I’m doing the best I can.

Shameless Plug for Kitty Mine Crafts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just in case you were interested. I haven’t forgotten about the blog, and in fact, I have news. Unfortunately, the news will have to wait while I work on my shop and go to my appointments. Click on the picture. I hope you like what you see.

How to be Friends with Someone Who is Chronically Ill

edits: 10/28 – I made a few edits based on feedback. Original stuff has a strikethru, new stuff next to it.

I want to start this post with a disclaimer – a lot of my friends are going to see themselves in this post, but this isn’t actually about you. It stemmed from a conversation I had with my husband, and this is about me. Also, in order to illustrate how serious this is, I am going to tell you a very raw and somewhat graphic personal story. Brace yourself.

Let me be blunt – having a chronic illness is HARD. There absolutely is a subset of people who are maladaptive, who play it up, who don’t want to get better because they are attached to a sickness identity, but they are in the minority and harm medical and public opinion of the rest of us who are sick but truly do want to get better. I’m not asking you to indulge that subset of people, but I’m also going to tell you that sometimes, it can be hard to tell us apart. We all have different experiences, and the same disease can be harder for one sufferer than the next for reasons like variations in symptoms, symptom intensity, and response to (and availability of) treatments. If you’re the bible reading sort, refer to Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

I’ve realized that not a lot of people know what to do with a person who is always sick. Friends go through phases, generally starting out as very supportive, thinking they can help their friend through the crisis. The next phase involves the friend thinking that the sick person can’t possibly still be sick, and that maybe the problem is psychological (I have been told, “you would feel better if you just got out more.” or “if you just took this pill <an antidepressant>, you’d feel better.”). Even if the friend doesn’t fall into the second phase, they almost all move on to the abandonment phase – they just stop calling. It’s exhausting dealing with someone who is always sick, and I can’t really fault an outsider for this. Why suffer if you don’t have to, right?

I’m going to make a set of bullet points, with no particular order of importance of what you can do to be a better friend to someone with a chronic, isolating illness. I can only speak for people with ME/CFS, autoimmune disease and dietary restrictions, as those are the things that I live with. I also can’t speak for all of us, as there are people who have a different perspective than I do. I would urge you to have an honest conversation with each person you know with a chronic illness and find out his/her preferences, and take those people at their word. This is my personal position on each subject, but you can always ask the chronically ill person in your life how he/she feels about each point.

  • Call me. Don’t worry that you might wake me up, or that I might not want to talk to you. I don’t have to answer the phone when it rings, and even my cell phone has an option to reject an incoming call and send it to voicemail. I am alone. A lot. Part of keeping me sane is having social contact. And call when you say you will. I wait by the phone for your call like a teenaged girl hoping to get invited to the prom, and am just as disappointed when your call never comes.
  • Invite me to hang out. Again, don’t assume that I wouldn’t want to do whatever it is you have in mind. I have enough people and a chronic illness taking choices away from me. I have doctors saying “You can’t do that anymore,” or “You need to start doing this.” Some days my body says, “I don’t care how much you were looking forward to doing what you had planned today, I’m not letting you out of bed.” Offer me the choice – don’t assume you know what I need or how much I can handle. Again, human contact is important.
  • Keep asking despite the fact that I have to turn you down. My husband informed me that if I told him more than a few times in a row that I didn’t feel up to doing something, he just stopped asking because he felt rejected like it was adding stress to my life. Part of the problem was timing – he would ask when I was clearly overwhelmed if I wanted to add one more HUGE thing to my schedule. I am comfortable saying, “no” when I have to, and if he had asked me to do things when I was clearly not overwhelmed I would have said, “yes.” I may only be able to say “yes” one out of ten times, but that one time I can do something is important to me. The invitation alone is important to me, so that I know you want to be with me. You just have to be flexible with the timing. I’m not rejecting you, I just have limits.
  • Don’t try to convince me “a little bit isn’t going to hurt you.” I didn’t choose my food and activity restrictions, and I would love to eat and do things that are just not a good idea. The problem is, you don’t have to pay the price for my mistakes. If I eat bread, it rips up my stomach and I lose at least one entire day of my life. If I eat soy, my face goes numb, my brain lights on fire, and I can’t think. If I exercise too much, my body shuts down, as it just doesn’t have the energy stored to pay for it. I know my limits. Please respect that I do, and I’m not just trying to inconvenience you.
  • Ask me how I feel today, don’t just assume you can tell by looking. For many reasons, I try not to complain too much about what’s wrong with me. My chiropractor found me out because when I have done too much and say I’m fine, my body betrays my story and requires more adjustment. He then gives me the lecture about how he knows I don’t do anything half way, but maybe I need to figure out how (I told you, I get plenty of instruction about what I can and can’t do). I often look just fine when every muscle in my body or my brain is on fire, but sometimes I have dark circles under my eyes when I feel just fine.

edit: My husband points out that I’m going to downplay how bad off I am. That may be true, but the answer to, “Do you want to talk/hang out with me?” is always truthful. I sometimes go out when I feel bad because I need you more than the rest.

  • Overall, don’t forget about me. I know you have a busy life. I know you have kids, a job, social engagements. I don’t, because of my illness. I have doctors appointments. I’ve found that I can call some of my friends, leave them messages on Facebook or on voicemail, or try every way I know how to contact them, but they don’t get back to me for weeks or even months. I’m just not a priority. I get that, but I need to know I’m still valuable to you. Send me a text message saying that you miss me. Call me and tell me you only had five minutes, but you just wanted to know that I’m still here and that I’m ok. Make sure I know that you know I exist!

I actually want to address that final point in great detail. The thing is, people who get ME/CFS tend to be people who used to be very active, who used to be involved in a lot – that’s why this disease was given the derogatory name, “yuppie flu.” We are high achievers, and this disease takes all of that away from us. We didn’t just decide we didn’t want to compete and fake an illness to get out of the rat race – on the contrary, I thought this was no big deal and tried to figure out how to stay in the working world. This “high achiever” thing actually has a point, at least in my world, and I’m betting in others’ world as well. You see, I get my entire sense of self worth from what I do. With this disease, I feel completely worthless. (This is the part where I tell the raw, graphic story).

I, like many other ME/CFS sufferers, had a very rough upbringing. There are some people who aren’t going to like that I am telling this story, but I wouldn’t have it to tell if the people involved hadn’t behaved the way they did. You see, I was cruelly abandoned by both of my parents. I am not talking about not seeing eye-to-eye with these people and having a falling out, I am talking total obliteration of the most primal bond that people experience. My father informed me, when I was maybe 14 years old, that if he had to choose between me and his girlfriend (a choice she asked him to make, not me), he would choose her. He said it was my fault she didn’t want to be with him. They got married shortly thereafter, and are now divorced. My mother left me not once, but twice. The first time was when she was escaping my abusive father – she left all of her children behind and saved herself, starting a new family and naming her new children after the old ones (middle names). The second time was after my father kicked me out and sent me to live with her. I had just turned 16, and my mother found it difficult to cope with the fact that I was back in her life. She had me locked away in a mental institution for a few days, but when they evaluated me they told us the problem wasn’t me, it was her. She then told them, “I don’t want her anymore – she reminds me of her father.” She moved and left me with another family under the guise of “letting me finish the school year”, and never even called to see how I was. I haven’t seen her since.

I watch a lot of Dr Phil these days, and I keep hearing him say something to parents “You are writing on the slate of who your children are. What you do and say to the affects them deeply, and children have a way of thinking that everything is their fault.” He’s right, but I didn’t just make that assumption – my parents told me it was so. I don’t care if they said these things in fear or anger or just plain stupidity, they said them to a little girl who was forming her sense of place in this world. This isn’t something you just “get over.” This is something that affects the rest of your life.

I spend my time thinking things like, “If I wasn’t good enough for my parents, how could anyone else want me?” I am terrified of making people feel like I am asking too much of them, so generally I don’t tell them what I need for fear that they, too, will reject me. I don’t tell people how bad off I am because I don’t want them to abandon me because I complain too much. I suffer in silence (until right now) because some people judge me harshly when I say anything at all. I only tell the world maybe 10% of what I deal with, lest they think me a whiner. I wait until my husband goes to bed at night, turn the tv to something I don’t have to think a lot about, and cry for hours on many, many nights.

I came pretty close to committing suicide once. No one, not even my therapist knew I was going to do it, because I didn’t want anyone to stop me. I had a solid plan, the opportunity presented itself, and no one would have known until the deed was done because no one was connected enough to my situation to know how much I was suffering. Well, there was one person. Dr B made it clear months before, when he thought I was giving up, when he thought I might be suicidal, that it was not ok with him if I ended my life. We had a fight about it. But it was only the knowledge that it would wreck his life if I ended mine (brand new doctor loses a patient… yeah, not cool) that made me look one more time for the answer to what was wrong with me. I didn’t tell him, or anyone else what I was planning to do, but I was hours away from letting my husband, or a cop, or my cat sitter find my body floating in a bathtub full of blood.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m there anymore. I have figured out ways to have regular contact with the outside world (although Facebook seems to be taking some of that away). I have a sense of self-worth through my shop (more than getting paid for my work, I feel good when people simply “like” my work or feature it). A few of my friends have come to understand what I was talking about in this post and they DO make a point to tell me that it’s ok with them that I take up space in this world… but I still struggle. Every day. Some more than others. And no, I don’t tell you about it. I don’t want you to leave me, too.

Week in Review

The past week has been very eventful for me. I got more expensive plastic bracelets, made a lot of sales, dyed a ton of roving, invested in and started dying commercial yarn, met a new doctor, worked a little bit on some knitting projects… I’m sure I’m leaving things out.

I’ll start from the beginning. On Monday, I was watching tv with Michael when I got the sudden, stabbing chest pain I’ve become so familiar with. I’m not surprised, really, because since I’ve been having more problems with POTS, it ups the chance for me having restrictive cardiomyopathy and reduced blood flow to my heart. No big deal, now that I know what it is. I just lie flat on my back and put my feet all the way up, restoring blood flow and allowing my heart to slow down. The pain was stronger than usual this time, so I had to have Michael move me into position (good thing he wasn’t on yet another business trip) while I waited it out. A half hour passed, but the pain had not, so Michael told me he was taking me to the hospital.

I was still in pain when I got to the hospital, so they hooked me up to the EKG machine and took some blood. I began to improve while I was hooked up to the machines. “You’re fine,” they told me, and sent me home. I got the blood labs back on my way out the door, and I noticed that there actually was something wrong – I had low potassium. It was just below the reference range, but I am sensitive to very small amounts of chemicals (1/8th of an infant’s dose of Metoprolol scrambled my brain, after all). Low potassium can be dangerous, as it causes arrhythmias and muscle cramps. That was my problem. For once I fit inside the box for someone with this problem, and they still didn’t catch it. I believe in my heart that it’s because I’m “too young for heart disease,” so they dismiss that right off the top. It didn’t matter that I told them I had a history of POTS, or that I could usually fix the problem by getting into a position that returned blood flow to my heart. Honestly, I didn’t really need a doctor to interpret the tests for me, I just needed one to run them. Bottom line is, I’m ok now. Adding a potassium supplement has helped, except for today. I am not sure if I took the supplement yesterday, and I didn’t want to over do it (too much potassium can have bad effects, too). I think I must not have, given that I woke up feeling awful. Of course, it could have been the work I did yesterday that I’m paying for.

I spent all day on Saturday dying wool. I definitely plan to list most of it for sale as is, but I may spin one or more of them into yarn. I dyed some commercial sock yarn, too. I saved one skein to knit up for myself and see how it looks and to check if it’s really enough to make most pairs of socks. I only got 360 yds in 100g of yarn, and usually I see around 400 yds in that weight (and most patterns call for a minimum of 400 yds). Of course, I measured the yarn on my niddy noddy, and I’ve always questioned the accuracy of that method of measurement.

  This is some of what I dyed. I had so much that I needed the space in two bathrooms to dry it!

I also met a new medical doctor this week. Well, he’s a DO (doctor of osteopathy), but still, he has access to some things the chiropractors don’t. He is also a chiropractor, which informs his approach to health care, and thus informed my decision to interview him and see if he’s good enough for my team. I’ll cut to the chase – I am going to use his services. I like the guy (Dr M) – he’s personable, he listens to what I have to say, he believes in ME/CFS (a tall order in a medical doctor), he prefers a nutrition and lifestyle approach before pharmaceuticals are introduced, he says I’m not telling him something he hasn’t heard before (never heard that before – seriously!) and most importantly, he has new ideas. I’ll admit, the idea he’s fondest of was something I’ve already explored with Dr B, but maybe different testing and a new approach might yield some results. He thinks I have a problem with mold, that it is living in my airways and maybe even my heart. I’ve seen that on Mystery Diagnosis, actually, so what the heck – let’s give it a shot. I really liked that he gave me a disclaimer that not a lot of doctors do – he said I’ve been sick for more than twenty years, and he doesn’t expect me to be better in less than two years (and that there will be ups and downs). I already knew this, but I appreciate that he isn’t claiming to have “the answer” and a quick fix. He also correctly guessed that a lot of doctors wanted to offer anti-depressants to treat me, because ME/CFS is, in their world, a psychiatric disorder. There’s only one thing I really don’t like – he failed a test that I give many of my new potential doctors. I gave him a copy of the ME/CFS Guidelines for Medical Practitioners, explaining that that document had a very accurate description of what I have been dealing with for the last two and a half years (and longer on a less intense scale) and what treatments have and have not worked for me. He took it, flipped through, then gave it back. It has been my experience that practitioners who keep the copy and read it on their own time have been a better fit for me – it shows that they are interested in what I have learned and what I believe is going on. The ones who don’t look at all or give it back tend to arrogantly think they know everything and ignore any input I may have, and they miss the fact that I am fine on paper but obviously sick in person (and subsequently declare me “just fine”). I think this may not be the case here, but I am alerted to the possibility that he is, in fact, just like the others.

In knitting news, I have had very little time to work on things that for myself or my friends – my time really has been devoted to my shop. However, I did manage a little knitting this week. I’m making socks for Dr B’s nephew:

and I’m making a Baby Surprise cardigan for Dr B and his wife’s expected baby. I have no pictures of that yet, but I hope to remember to get a few before I visit them next month. I’m not making promises – my memory has been pretty terrible lately.

So, that’s it this week. I need to get back to editing photos, and maybe even get a little sleep tonight. Wish me luck!

As Good as I Hoped… Almost

The last couple of weeks have been eventful, and almost everything has been going as well (or even better) than I hoped. My shop is exactly where I wanted it to be much faster than I expected. This week I have gotten sales on most days. I thought I was going to reach fifty items in my inventory for sale, but things are going slightly faster than I can replace them. This is fine. I don’t need the inventory, I was trying to drive business. There is a minimum number of listings that makes the shop appealing to buyers – they get drawn in by a listing, then look around to see if there is something they like better or want to add to the item that drew them in. If there isn’t enough, they leave or just buy the one thing. When there are more listings, there are more purchases. I thought the magic number was going to be one hundred, but it seems the number is actually forty-six (but I wish it were forty-two).

I realized that I needed to add more inventory in a hurry, so on Wednesday this week I dyed a bunch of new rovings (the first one isn’t listed yet)…

..and then I had a dying accident. That pumpkin orange you see on the right was going to be a first attempt at the candy corn color in the middle. I mix the dyes in a glass jar because if I pour boiling water in a plastic bottle, the bottle melts. I can use a warm dye, but I can’t move it to the squeeze bottle until it cools nearly all the way. In any case, I had my rubber gloves on and was carrying the jar of dye over to the undyed roving, when the jar slipped and broke. Plenty of the dye went into the roving, so I just went with that. Plenty more got on my countertop (fortunately, it’s a silestone counter and the dye comes out with Dawn, vinegar, and a long scrub with a magic eraser), a fair amount ended up in the utensil drawers in my kitchen island, and a little ended up on the floor. I also splashed some onto my dish towel, so I tried (and failed) to even out the color. The worst is that my tennis shoes are partly orange as well. 😦

I’ve made it my policy to limit my listings to one new item per day. There is a really good reason for this. If I list or relist something daily, it helps my visibility. I do not like the idea of paying another listing fee for something that doesn’t need it, so I just stick to new listings as often as possible. I can only work so much before I am exhausted (and not at all on Tuesdays when I have acupuncture, massage and bowling – too many scheduled events leave me overwhelmed). The photography and listing are very time consuming, and I like to have some photographed items ready for days when I really just can’t put in much effort at all. The problem is, I really don’t like to have a list of things that need to be done. I learned in college what it felt like to not procrastinate, and man, the feeling was so good that I have given up the sport of procrastination entirely. Well, almost entirely. In this case, it’s better not to just get it all done at once.

Health has actually factored in to my work lately. I have known for the last nine years that if I work too many hours (what constitutes too many varies from day to day), I pay for it inordinately. I try to limit myself, but I really like working, especially at this job. I put in nineteen hours a day the first few days, then maybe twelve hours the rest of the first few weeks, then eight from then on. The work was huge at first because I had to set up a Facebook page, create a Twitter account, make a Ravelry group, become on official yarn brand and shop on Ravelry, and read and implement what I learned about marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

I started to feel the impact of my activity pretty quickly. The first few days were ok, but the ME/CFS often has a delayed onset – I do something today and pay for it a few days later. I get tired, and the fibromyalgia pain acts up. I think what really happens is that stress hormones over-activate my nervous system, and then all the bad things come up. I started having more problems with my POTS, becoming breathless when simply standing up. I was also having insomnia and nightmares (from adrenaline surges at night) – first the scary vampires-chasing-me kind, then the soul crushing defeat that leaves me waking up in tears kind. This is the heart of what took me out when I got sick two and half years ago (can you believe it’s been that long? and also that short?).

The disabling fatigue is actually easier to handle this time, for many reasons. The most important reason, as far as I’m concerned, is that I am not also dealing with the brain-burn from the undetected soy and estrogen sensitivity I had the first time. The brain-burn can take me out on its own, and with the post-exertional malaise, well, it’s catastrophic. Another reason I’m finding it easier is that Dr B has an idea of what might have led to it. You see, I did another gallbladder cleanse a couple of weeks ago. I was gaining weight even though I had not changed my diet (about fifteen pounds in 3 months). Dr B thought I might have been holding on to hormones, so I took calcium d-glucarate to help my liver process them out. Well, it stopped the weight gain, but didn’t really lead to the weight going back to where it was. Through some testing, we learned that my gallbladder/biliary pathways are under-functioning, so the cleanse was supposed to clean it out and help it start over. For the week after the cleanse, I was rapidly losing weight (a pound a day). This is exactly what happened before I fell off a cliff those years ago. Dr B’s theory is that the hormones that I was storing as fat became water soluble from the cleanse, and that I was reabsorbing toxic hormones that were, in effect, poisoning me. I think he’s right. I am still taking the calcium d-glucarate to support hormone detox, but there isn’t much I can do about the toxic dose of whatever was stored in my fat cells. Just wait it out, I guess. What’s good is that I have a very viable answer, and this gives me hope that I can heal some and that I can prevent this level of function loss in the future.

Now don’t mistake me – I will never be cured. I’m always going to be prone to developing these symptoms if I overdo it or lose weight too quickly. But I know so much more about exactly what’s wrong and how to minimize the impact of the ME/CFS on my life than I did when this first happened, and more than I did even when I finally found the diagnosis a year and a half ago. I’m still not going to realistically be able to work in a full-time job outside of the home. But this is the dream, isn’t it? To work for yourself in a job that you love, when you want and how you want? It’s almost what I hoped for in my life. I could live without the chronic illness, but I can’t have everything.

I’m working all the time

I’ll admit, I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to open Kitty Mine Crafts. I spend far more time on photography and marketing than I do making the yarn and fiber stuff that I sell. I am at this all hours of the day. It’s a lot of work. Work I love, but nonetheless, work.

The thing is, when I put this much time into something, it wears me out. Not like a normal person – I mean, I end up spending more time lying down than I would like. Sleeping in the middle of the day. Despite that, I am happy to be working. People who have commented on my shop in person have simply gushed over it. I feel like I’m doing a good job. I get lots of views and likes on my page, but not many sales. My next task is just that – figuring out how to land that sale after a person looks at my listing.

I’ve mentioned the concept of how my energy works before (the spoons story). Well, in order to spend my spoons on the job, I had to give up something. First, I gave up one of my chiropractic adjustments each week. This was possible because I am taking a new supplement, Calcium D-Glucarate, that is helping A LOT. It lowers estrogen levels, in turn lowering inflammation levels for me since I seem to have a bad reaction to estrogen (hard to get away from it when you’re female, or I’d just avoid it). I then moved my acupuncture to every other week. This might be a mistake because she does a lot more for me, including something called “interferential therapy,” which had been helping the pain levels some. I can’t eliminate the massage – I think I’d die of pain and inability to move. I know I need to eliminate more, but that will solve itself some when a coursera class I am taking, Gamification, is over with. I’ll be taking more classes in the future, but I’ll get a break for a little while. I might have to adjust my participation level as well – you can just listen to lectures, or, if you do the work, can earn a certificate. I like earning certificates. Makes me feel smart. And finally, I’ve neglected the blog again. I really want to keep up with it, especially since I’ve improved my photography. The kittens photograph so well!

As long as I don’t give up too much in the health care realm, I think I can continue to work hard on my business. Here is a small sample of things I’ve made in the last few weeks:

Half and Half Orange and Black

In case you’re wondering, no, I haven’t started using a light box – I just photograph right in my back yard. The lighting is great for that here in Colorado. I’ve reached a level with my photography that is good enough for my business. The pictures aren’t the best of all the listings, but they are better than most. It really isn’t reasonable for me to reach a level of skill that could be considered professional. If that were the case, I’d be selling my pictures instead.

My shop has had some success thus far. There is a group called “The Handmade Movement” who sneak attack newer Etsy shops. That is, they form a cash mob and buy a bunch of your inventory in order to give your business a boost. The people were incredibly nice – I recommend you go join them if you want to commit philanthropic acts on new, handmade products businesses. One of them even blogged about the event! I’ve not had any sales since, but I fully expect to do so in the future. I think I’ve done well for a shop that has only been open two months. I think the holidays will help, too.

I have no new kittens at the moment because we were traveling. Last week, Michael and I went to Boston, then drove to see Sara. I love visiting her – she and I have so much in common. If I had my act together, I could have joined her at a craft fair she was doing that weekend. She makes these great baby blankets – I might have even purchased one to give as a gift to another friend who really appreciates handmade things.

I returned the kittens to the shelter before we left. They should all be adopted by now. These are the pictures I gave the shelter for their profiles (far better than the ones they started with, I assure you):

 

You’d never guess if you didn’t know, but Marie and Lamarck, the two on the bottom, had eye infections when I first got them. Their eyes were so infected that the shelter vets thought they might have to take them out. I’m proud to say that we saved their eyes! Now, poor Marie still has a very weepy eye, but I truly believe she will outgrow it as her immune system develops.

So, that’s been my last few weeks. I get to stay home for October, so I’m expecting to get more kittens soon. Next week, when I’m not as busy with the online class assignments. For now, it’s back to work! Yay!

 

 

Always Improving

I’ve been working hard on the shop. I got the new camera in the mail, so I started working on getting better pictures of my merchandise. I still have a lot to learn about photography, but I did improve dramatically with the better camera. Here are just a few of my new shots:

This was the old “Enchanted Forest”

and these are the new ones:

Closeup

Lead Photo

This was the old “Pacific”

Old “Pacific”

and these are the new shots:

“Pacific” Rolled

Lead Photo

The new shots barely look like the old ones, yet they are the exact same product. I’m hoping these more accurate pictures will help sell the product better. I’m not claiming the photography is great, but it is so much nicer with the extra detail.

I experimented with flash photography and kitten pictures last night as well. Most of these shots aren’t what I want for adoption photos (they need to be looking at the camera because it evokes a feeling that the kitten is looking you in the eye and asking for a home, and some need better focus), but there are some neat effects.

Action shots:

Neat focus effects:

And a really great closeup of Duck’s fur. (This makes a cool desktop background, and I don’t mind if you use it for yourself, so I’ve loaded it in it’s complete size – HUGE! Click to enlarge.)

 Not that I believe this to be an amazing piece of art, but please don’t redistribute the pictures. If you want someone else to see it, link to my page. This is my cat, and I do own the copyright, after all!

I still have a long way to go in the way of taking pictures, but I’m off to a good start!