My health is preventing me from working at the moment, so I'd like to use my time to help sick kids feel better, not with pills, but with crochet. Follow my journey on my blog ~

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Arrival

Some babies are really eager to be born -- one of my good friends had her little guy early! Congratulations to her and I hope she recovers quickly.  So excited -- need to keep working on the baby gifts, they're late now! Eep! Help me channel creative energies or something! :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Very Happy Birthday

We celebrated my son's 7th birthday this evening.  He was very excited about his special dinner, his cards, and of course, his lemon meringue pie (he inherited his favorite dessert from me).  My mom did the gluten free cooking, and tried to make sure the house didn't burn down as the candles got lit.  It was nice to have everyone together.  He absolutely loved the little animals in the box-house.  I had the man with the camera take photos before I gave it to him so I could post them :)

Credits go to Ana Paula Rimoli, mostly, for designing the koalas, the cake, and the fish (I had to make minor changes because I decreased the sizes, emphasis on tiny cake, cough, hand cramp, cough), from her book Amigurumi Toy Box, and Annie Obaachan's Super Cute Crochet for the penguin.

 Animal House

The koalas are made of wool yarn, trying out new materials :) they're so soft! The cake is made of lace weight viscose (from bamboo) -- closest I could get to eucalyptus! Penguin and fish are acrylic, except for the craft thread I used for the penguin's mouth and feet (which are cotton.)


 The penguin has a fish... I don't think he'll have to share.

(omnomnomnom all for meeeee)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A few more friends

The sun was shining in my living room window, so I took this of three of the donations I've made (think I have fingerprints on my camera lens, figures).

The pig is from Puffy Pals, by Sayjai of K and J Dolls ( available from Amazon Kindle.

The hippo is from Easy Crochet Critters from Leisure Arts

The lamb pattern is from Tiny Yarn Animals, by Tamie Snow

I hope these little friends will make someone's day a bit brighter.  Working on baby koala now... wish me luck! I'll need it if I'm going to get these done in time!

Behind it all

I've been busy this early-morning setting up for my first donation run, as well as some potential ways to recoup the costs of materials through selling small crafts (not amigurumi, they take way too long).  My family has enabled my yarn shopping wonderfully thus far, but they are already stuck with my rent and (shudder) my medical bills.

All this preparation has gotten me thinking about the doll I received when I was little, wondering about the person who made it, and wishing I could say "thanks."  I had to have a particularly nasty kind of test done periodically to make sure that the "issues" that had required surgery had been remedied properly.  I'm not sure how often I had them, or how many there were in total, but I remember dreading them.  More than that, I remember my mother having to come tell me the day before that we were going to have to go back to the hospital, and how distressed and sad she was.  My pain was hers, too.  Neither of us had any choice, and even I knew back then that it had to be done.  It was because of those tests that I learned to get through painful situations with the knowledge that they would soon be over.  It has been a valuable lesson, more so than anyone could have foreseen at the time.

I can't describe the rush of emotion that came over me when the technician handed me the doll.  It was obviously hand-made, it was soft, and I remember hugging it and being so grateful that someone understood exactly what I needed in that moment.  Something so painful and frightening is very difficult for a child to express in words, I still find it so.  I truly hope that the dolls I make can provide such comfort, any little bit of distraction would help, I'd imagine.

It wasn't until I became a mother myself that I realized the true gravity of the situation as a whole.  The fact is, I remember very little of that particular time of my life.  I have a few vague memories of the illness caused by the defect, waking up crying in the night, my mother taking me downstairs so I wouldn't wake my father, dad waking up anyway.  I have a few vague recollections of being in the hospital after one of my surgeries, and of course, the tests that followed.  My mother, however, must remember all of it.

The condition I was born with that started all the trouble was a random malformation.  I knew my son wasn't likely to have such a thing.  Fortunately, he has been astonishingly healthy his whole life.  I've been so, so grateful for it.  I know my mom is still going through it with me, but at least I'm grown now.  My son is so much like I was as a kid.  Watching him grow must be very much like watching a re-play of my own childhood, only without all the drama.

There isn't enough support out there for people with sick children, or people who are sick themselves.  For specific conditions, yes -- I had a wonderful support network when I was going through thyroid cancer several years ago, and as I've received diagnoses over the years I've gotten several referrals to groups that would probably be similar.  I suppose the internet is probably helpful for connecting with others who are in the same boat health-wise. I wish things could have been easier on my mom, and I hope that in the future someone will find a way to ease the burden on mothers who had to go through ordeals like mine.

Lots of advocacy has popped up over the years.  There are breast cancer, AIDS, Autism, and various other causes that are proudly displayed in various places in the form of ribbons and colors, walks are organized, products donate a portion of their proceeds.  I think all this is a step in the right direction, but I also feel that in many ways, those of us with more general medical issues -- or issues that are considered "treatable," even if they're chronic, or diagnoses that are less common -- get overlooked in this process.  Thyroid cancer is considered the "good cancer."  First, there is no "good" cancer, and second, a lot of people don't get through it unscathed.  It strikes young people, and for many of us, our lives are never the same.

It took awhile for me to recover from the two surgeries, radiation and thyroid replacement, after which, I found myself looking for a job.  What was I supposed to write on my resume to explain the gap in my work history?  I was in my early 20's at the time, "cancer" isn't a conclusion most employers leap to, nor was it something I felt comfortable putting down... people tend to squirm awkwardly when you mention the word "cancer," I've noticed.  I finally managed to get a job through a friend, and my boss was wonderfully understanding of the fact that I had ongoing medical issues.

Unfortunately, when a new boss took over, things were more "by the book" and I wound up losing my job due to too many absences (all due to documented illness, but apparently nobody cared about that).  I know that my health shouldn't become someone else's problem, but I worked hard to make sure that I kept up with my work, and often came in on weekends or stayed late to make sure that things stayed in order just in case I needed to be absent.  With the new boss's arrival, I was no longer allowed to work outside my normal hours.  My work had recently drastically increased in volume, but it did not suffer--I was just more stressed, which made me more likely to get sick.  Worse, when I was fired, the termination letter cited several "reasons" for my termination, one of which was actually the result of one of my medical conditions.  I ended up feeling as though I shouldn't have bothered working so hard.

Several months after I lost my job, I had my first seizure... in the check-out at Target, full-on drama and ambulance and all.  Things haven't gotten better, in spite of many doctors' best efforts.  I usually have a few good hours each day, but they're at unpredictable times (and narcolepsy often causes me to nap very suddenly).  My general assortment of medical issues has finally kept me from working.  Or have they?

I'm not the sort of person who is happy without doing something useful.  The truth is, I believe my time is better spent making animals to donate than it was pushing papers at my ex-office.  If I can eventually manage to keep the pay out of the negatives, I will have no problem doing this indefinitely.  I would very much like for some good to come out of all of this, and I'm trying to make that happen.  I'm very lucky to have people around me who are so supportive.  It frightens me to think about the way things would have turned out if I didn't have my family to help me.  Perhaps someday I'll be able to to take a more active role in helping those with medical difficulties.  For now, I'll stick to crochet, and try to spread the love as far as I possibly can.

For those of you who didn't know, that's where I'm coming from...

Now back to the koalas.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Penguin Invasion

The bad lighting in my apartment couldn't stop me from taking a few snaps of the finished penguin I made for my son's birthday.  I modified the design from Annie Obaachan's Super Cute Crochet (Quantum Publishing Ltd, 2009).  

I had to make him quite small so he would fit in the box, and he came out with a funny quizzical expression :) Nearly done with mother koala, must hurry up before time runs out!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A break for a birthday

I've been working away at making presents for my son's birthday.  I got some cuddly gray wool yarn to make a mama and baby koala, as seen in Ana Paula Rimoli's Amigurumi Toy Box (Martingale & Company, 2011).  Definitely one of my favorite books to work from so far, and my son has often expressed interest in the playful designs.  I've decided to make a little party in a box for him, a few little creatures around a tiny table with an amigurumi cake and a few little presents for the animals -- hats, scarves, maybe a little teddy bear if I can manage it with craft thread.  Last year I was having a medical procedure and couldn't make it to his birthday party, I'd like to make sure his birthday is extra special.  I'll be back to my donation projects as soon as I'm done with his little toy house, which shouldn't be very long... I can't believe he will be seven in just a few days.  Kids grow up too fast!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Of Ounces and Yards

Whew, been a long week.  The weather had me down with headaches.  I've been pushing ahead with my moose, regardless... the gloves do seem to help with the rash, as do my new crochet hooks (it hasn't gotten worse even when the gloves get too warm to wear them).  I'm sort of surprised at how fast the yarn goes -- and I'm at the end of my first bag of Poly-Fil already.  Not everything turned out quite right, but I have a few donations ready, and all that's left of the moose is sewing his horns together and making his arms and legs.  Haven't decided what to do for my next one yet, so many good options... this moose is larger than most, so I'll probably do a few small ones before tackling something so large again!  At least he didn't turn out cross-eyed, like my poor panda bear did.  I'm learning the value of clear directions and specific materials lists!

 I do hope this weather stops bothering me soon, I would like to be able to make faster progress.  I acknowledge my limitations, but often have trouble accepting them.  Anyhow, I think it's about time for breakfast, then to get this poor moose together :)