Well that was exciting

The hype is real. I’ve been stuck in a bad panic attack loop for over a week now. Many factors contribute: it’s hot as balls, I’m menstruating, my life changed overnight because I started insulin.

All these things combined more or less got me so tense and nervous that my body acted up terribly. Shortness of breath, pain on the chest, dizziness, fear of dying. All very fun.

I think the newness of taking insulin and the rising nervosity towards each shot really set my attacks off too. The closer 8pm got, the more I hated waiting. I just wanted to get it over with! It’s the waiting that I hate so much.

I’m on day 3 of my shots and I have to say they’re incredibly uneventful and boring. (Thank god for my adorable insulin pen case to make it somewhat interesting!) I don’t feel the needle at all, and I make sure to inject one unit at a time as I press the button until I hit 0. I haven’t bruised yet nor do I feel any pain. No burning sensations either. I’m slowly rotating around my bellybutton so I expect no soreness from injection sites as they have time to heal.

My glucose values are killer too! I’m logging a full curve tomorrow and Wednesday, but I have a feeling they will be excellent. So far all my tests have been within my acceptable range even. 🙂 I’m noticing the importance of proper snacks between meals though. I was declining towards a hypo yesterday around 4pm after last eating around 11:30am. It used to not be an issue, but I dropped to 4.6 and got shaky, sweaty and felt bad overall. (Seems my hypo range is a little higher than the usual 3.9) I had one slice of bread with some sweet topping and by dinner time I was absolutely fine.

So I got this injecting thing down and I think I’ll be fine on my current meds for a while. We’ll see! The weather is hot and it is notorious for making my bg low, and so is my menstruation. I might see a change when the weather cools down and I’m 2 weeks down the road.

One thing I DO know is that despite my panic attacks, I do feel much better. I’m more alert and less tired as early as the first morning after my first shot. Two thumbs up!

The first shot is in!

Whoo boy, today was a ridiculously stressful day for me. I woke up feeling anxious as all hell and wanting to not go out because of what I had to do. But I did it!

This morning I set out to my doctor’s office and was shown how to use the insulin pen. At first I got to practice on a little box with a ‘skin’ on top that emulates what it feels like to insert the needle. The pen is filled with water, not real insulin, for practicing purposes. That went well. Then I got to put on a new clean needle and insert it without injecting anything. It was as good as painless to my surprise! We talked a little more and then I was on my way to group. (To be clear, I did not do my injection at that point yet.)

I spent the better part of the afternoon there. After lunch my glucose levels were definitely in the okay range, likely thanks to the ridiculous heat we’re experiencing right now. Being stuck in a heat weave seems to be the only thing keeping my values down, geeshe. (I guess that’s kind of a good thing when your GL is consistently too high though!) I left to go home without snacking (good going, me) and was heading towards a hypo once I’d come home from my cycling adventure.

Had a snack to bump my GL back up, ordered dinner (Greek food whoop!) and I waited for 8pm to draw near. That’s the time I’ve decided to do my daily basal injections. Deep breaths. I was in full on adrenaline rush mode by the time that time hit. My heart raced, my hands felt unsteady, I was dizzy. I mean, it might be the heat, but that feeling in my stomach is definitely a sign of being too nervous.

I prepped the insulin pen like I’d done earlier that day. I remembered the instructions. I set the dose. I squirted 3 units out of the needle to ensure the pen was functioning. I inserted the needle and immediately felt a burn that I didn’t feel this morning. Oh, right, I just squirted some insulin out of this needle so that’s probably why it’s already stinging. Okay, so far so good. Once in it didn’t hurt. I adjusted my grip on the pen four times before very slowly pushing down the button to inject the insulin.

There was some very mild burning and stinging, but nothing I can describe as pain. Kind of like putting some icy hot on my tummy, you know? I held down the button and counted to 10. Toujeo lets you count to 5, but I want to be double sure that I’m doing this right. Then I started pulling out the needle without releasing the button, stopped halfway, released and pulled it out all the way.

That was it. I was shaking so badly from the ridiculous tension I’d built up for myself over what turned out to be a minor inconvenience at best. It wasn’t painful. Yes, I felt it, but it’s nothing compared to the back pain I endure every day. Once my adrenaline had crashed I got incredibly dizzy and short of breath. Great that Toujeo’s allergic reactions are at least 50% consistent with panic attack symptoms! I was Skyping with a friend who helped me feel calmer about it because it was very obviously just my anxiety kicking me in the balls, ugh. I’ve been tense for a week now and having panic attacks, is it any wonder I’m feeling like crap after riding an adrenaline high for two hours?

I checked my glucose levels again, 2 hours after dinner: 5.3 mmol/L. Okay, that’s pretty low but nothing that I can’t explain: my greek food was greasy, I know this delays carb absorption. And I definitely did not have too few carbs. I went to do my thing, melting in the heat inside my apartment; the building retains heat very well and we need some rain to help it cool off. An hour later I test again and I’m going upwards to 6.6 mmol/L. Good! It’s climbing, that’s great.

As it’s a basal injection once a day, I don’t have to worry too much. Toujeo is designed to reduce a hypo after injection. I’m going to have a snack before bed just to be sure, but I’m noting down two curve days for my doctor sometime these coming 7 days. I’m very tired, but proud I overcame my panic attack and did it. I’m proud that I’ve started a journey to a better health and a better life!

Bonus: my doctor also had this ADORABLE pen case for my insulin. My glucometer also looks like a 2000’s MP3 player lol.

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Ask A Knitter Anything #1: The Appeal of Knitting

It’s been almost 3 years since I started knitting. During this time, I went from barely being able to properly knit a knit stitch, to knitting full adult sweaters, knitting fair isle with both hands at the same time and being able to read and write patterns. While I’m far from knowing everything, I do know a lot and people ask me questions often that I happily answer.

After one such question the other day, I toyed with the idea of starting an AAKA – ‘Ask A Knitter Anything’ series, where I answer questions people commonly (and less commonly) ask me based on my personal experiences. While I will start this series with a set of pre-collected questions, you are welcome to ask me any question you’d like to see answered by commenting on these posts! I’m keeping close tabs on this and try to get everything answered.

These questions will be spread out in a series of posts. How many that will be, I don’t know! But you can look forward to 1-2 of these posts a week. 🙂 Now, let’s get started!

What makes knitting so alluring?

I find it difficult to pin point exactly what keeps me coming back to knitting. I think it’s safe to say I’m an honest to god addict by now, and there is a certain charm that can be attributed to the yarn you use as much as the knitting itself. The pretty colors, the texture of the yarn and the idea of endless possibilities of what you can do with it certainly play a huge role in this.

More than anything else, the process of knitting became addicting.

Before I even started knitting on two needles, I was only curious. I saw what my friend did, knitting beautiful scarves, cowls and other goodies, and my brain kept poking me with the question ‘How is it made?’. I really wanted to find that out by doing it myself, and it’s this curiosity that prompted me to ask my friend if she wanted to teach me. I was excited and nervous. She made me start with a rectangular knitting loom because it was easier to finish a piece quickly and experience the satisfaction of finishing a project, rather than repeated failure from starting with needles.

Oh boy how right she was! I spent a whole day loom knitting away. I just couldn’t put it down. Once I had the hang of it, I immediately noticed I got better. It was a bit of a rush to see my simple little actions of wrapping a peg and pulling the yarn over the peg create an actual scarf. The motions tired my hands and tensed my shoulders, but I couldn’t just leave the loom laying on my desk. Every time I took a break, all I could think about was continuing.

I finished the scarf in less than two days. I was ecstatic! I had actually KNIT something, all by myself and with minimal help from my friend. I had a scarf that wasn’t just pretty, but also functional on my first try. Sure, there were some mistakes in it, but you couldn’t really tell because I chose a black acrylic. Looking back on it, I think it was this excitement of knowing I created something from nothing, being proud of the end result and wanting to make more that drew me to the craft.

I put the loom down for almost half a year after a couple of other pieces. I was busy and couldn’t dedicate enough attention to learning new things at the time. But at the end of the summer that same year, that same friend put me on the path of knitting with needles. This time, the challenge was a bit bigger. The learning curve was more frustrating because a lot more was going on with my hands at the same time than with a loom. It was the memory of accomplishment I had with the loom that kept me going.

The allure of knitting lies in the creation process and the goal of finishing a creation that is useful, for me.

Once you started knitting, what made it such a huge, driving force in your life?

The ability to create things from nothing is addictive. The motion of knitting has a highly meditative quality and once you work your way past the frustrating bits of learning the craft, you can sit down, zone out and keep your fingers busy while your brain does its thing. This is no surprise to anyone who knits regularly, but something that non-knitters tend to be skeptical of. 🙂

What knitting did for me was a way of coping with my mental health issues. When depression struck and I felt like I couldn’t do anything, I could knit and finish my project. The sense of accomplishment is a massive boost to my self-confidence and vital in maintaining my mental well-being.

Knitting also taught me important lessons, such as ‘it’s okay to let go’ and ‘mistakes are just things that happen and there’s no reason to be ashamed of that’. For someone who struggles with ‘not being allowed to make mistakes’ and ‘keep ramming your head into the wall until you get through it regardless of whether you hurt yourself or not’, that is huge. Coming to terms with the fact that nothing I knit (or do) will ever yield perfect results has lifted a weight off my shoulders I carried with me for decades. Learning that sometimes you have to start over by undoing all the work you did before, but understanding that you learned many things and can do better this time, has improved my way of functioning in everyday life.

When I found out that charity knitting is a thing, I did a lot of research on how to get involved. I struggle with social interactions and an avoidant personality disorder on top of my other issues, so finding something that could help me overcome some hurdles was important and scary. Having it be knitting lowered the hurdle, making it easier to find some ways I can contribute positively to the world even though I’m poor and limited in what I can do. Currently, I knit breast prostheses for breast cancer survivors and people in the versatile gender community who are in need of more comfortable and affordable alternatives than what is currently available.

What started out as a curiosity and a hobby has quickly become a lifestyle. Knitting is not just wrapping a piece of yarn around a needle and calling it a stitch, it’s a doorway into a world of possibilities, healing and socialization, even for those who feel they have very little to nothing to offer in this world. It gives my life meaning, and it gives me a purpose.

You’re now hearing the X-Files themesong.

It’s magic!

I was about to sit down and watch the X-Files on Netflix with my knitting (mom’s pair of socks for Christmas) when I felt the itch for blogging. I’m not sure what to write about that I haven’t already said before, though. So before I go on a repeated ramble, let’s soak in the new template on my blog!

Simplicity is always my favorite theme for a template so that’s what I was going after in the list. After 30 minutes of browsing and previewing different themes, I settled on this one. Nice and quiet, calming on the eyes, pleasant teal link colors and just enough room for the widget area. A winter themed banner on the top (which I might switch out in the near future) and I’m all settled until spring. 🙂 Looks good, doesn’t it?

Last night I finished my dad’s socks. They took a little longer than I anticipated, but I was very tired last week, and I ended up not taking the full 2-3 hours a day I planned for them. So rather than 7 days, they took 9 to complete. Not bad! I admit they look a little baggy, but I promise you that my dad is not a frail bodied fellow and he will fill these out nicely. I worked in the knitting-in elastic into the cuff (which you can kind of see) so I hope the cuffs will retain their elasticity.

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I almost finished my mom’s socks’ toes before I went to bed, but as I hit 30 stitches on the first needle (out of 34) I was done for and put them down. I will be increasing to 34 stitches per needle (68 total) for her socks and then work them the same way I did my dad’s. The sock yarn I picked for her socks almost made me regret buying it as I began to knit it up, but I’m growing fond of the colors after all and I think the pattern will turn out nicely! I’ll share a picture soon.

Some less good news is that my avoidance behavior is maxing out again. I didn’t go to my social skills course and couldn’t get myself to call to cancel. I just panicked and pretended my phone didn’t even exist. Then I got an email from my therapist and refused to open it out of terror. Last Monday I flaked out on an appointment and missed their calls. It’s pretty bad, I know that it’s ridiculous to react this way to someone who’s there to help me, but going to a course and going to therapy is more than just ‘sit down and talk’. It’s ‘sit down, talk and let’s work on this!’. It’s the ‘work on this’ part that scares me off. I don’t know where I’d get the energy from to do it. I’m exhausted by clinging on to my group afternoons, which I refuse to ditch cause I love it there and it makes me feel at home. More so than in my own apartment even. I’m exhausted from this bullshit with my landlord. I’m exhausted from waiting to have all my finances handed over to an administrator so I don’t have to worry over paying bills anymore. I’m exhausted from worrying ‘is today the day my car will break down and I’m left without transportation cause I can’t afford anything else?’.

I had an appointment with my group counselor yesterday, which doesn’t stress me out because I know she’ll take the wheel when I can’t, and I ended up confessing to her how bad it is. She sat down with me to analyze why it’s happening, especially because I’m so vibrant and happy in the group. After some discussing we agreed that I’m taking a break from therapy until the holidays are over, and then pick it back up in January. It will give me time to settle down a bit in this very hectic period, my finances will be out of my hands officially by then and I should have found a way to be able to make the appointments with an alternative form of transportation.

My group counselor emailed my therapist to explain all this, and this morning I got another call and email from my therapist. As their office calls from a private number I didn’t pick up, but now I’m also afraid to read the email. Again. I know it’s nothing bad and just asking “How are you doing?”, but then there’s nothing rational about anxiety, is there? I’m breaking this down in my head bit by bit and hopefully I can sit down, read and reply to the email this week at some point. It would be nice if I could do that!

It’s not easy, but I’m glad to have my group. I don’t know where I would be without the wonderful people who work there, or even my fellow clients who are so kind and fun to interact with.

Anyway. I’m going to pick up these socks and knit for 1 or 2 X-Files episodes before I’m making dinner. Although I don’t celebrate thanksgiving being Dutch, I figured I’d make myself a fancy dinner with fish, potatoes and veggies tonight. 🙂

How are your holidays going? Are you getting any knitting done?

When do you fight it?

I’ve found that letting things happen rather than putting up an always futile struggle works well for me. I’m not saying to just give up and not try to get better; rather, figure out when to invest your energy into your mental illnesses. It can be so utterly discouraging and draining to fight against yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone when, realistically, you don’t have the energy for it. Breaking it down into small steps and working with what you’ve got is the better approach, and eventually you’ll recuperate and get back on your feet.

The past 1-2 weeks have been degrading fast for me. Insomnia strikes again, my appetite is dissipating with every passing day, I’m tense and wake up bathed in sweat or in the middle of a panic attack. I’m starting to avoid things too, and it’s not good. But part of me is oddly calm about it; I know this will pass, because it has before. I know I’ve been shouldering too much and the stress and uncertainty of my near future is weighing me down. Thing is, there’s not a whole lot I can actively do about it right now, so I try to remind myself of this fact and focus on other things.

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Like knitting! My dad’s socks are coming along well. This picture is from yesterday at group, and I still had about 3 inches to go before I got to the heel, I think. I just finished the heel on the first sock, and am working the second now. I can start the leg tonight, hopefully finishing it by Monday. That makes turnaround for a full pair of (wide) socks a week. My dad’s feet aren’t particularly long, but they’re quite wide, which means I need a 76 stitch combo on my usual gauge. For comparison, my own socks needed only 70 sts. And that’s all with negative ease worked into the pattern. Yeesh! However, I worked his the first on purpose; my mom’s and sister’s feet are smaller so they should go faster. 😉

I let my boyfriend’s sweater soak for an hour last night in cold water in my handwash bucket. What started as clear water quickly became a murky ordeal that needed 2 extra rinses to clear out! I don’t know if it’s part dye or if the sweater just collected a lot of grime off my hands and the surfaces it laid on, but this is the very reason I wash everything before I send it off.

The yarn’s label says it should be machine washable at 30C, but I don’t trust it. I was getting a lot of extra fuzz off the yarn as it ran through my fingers and it seems to want to felt easily, so handwash it is. I used a woolwash after the soak and rinse (followed by more thorough rinsing), and now the sweater is almost dry on my table. I think it helped that I let a fan blow on it all night!

I do seem to have some trouble trying to squeeze enough water out before rolling it up in (a lot) of towels. I don’t want to wring it but I don’t think I have enough strength in my hands to squeeze it properly. Or maybe I’m just too impatient. How do you do it?