Monday, February 26, 2007

Where did the weekend go?

The portrait picture came in from the Lincoln Ball we went to a couple of weeks ago so I thought I'd post it. I have gotten precious little sewing done though I did have a week off. I got a bunch of fiber weighed and packaged, lots of it put away though I do have plenty more to do. I upgraded the Kendig Cottage ebay store to enable there to be more logical categories so that customers can find just exactly what they're looking for, but I have a huge amount more work to do! It's going to be a work in progress, that's for sure. I got in a very large yarn order too, so that all needs to be put up into the store listings, and the new photos added.
Never to be ones for all work and no play, we had a fun lunch at Red Robin with our dear friends Ron and Lorraine and their 3 enchanting boys. We wallowed in the fiber for awhile and talked spinning before they had to go, it was snowing quite heavily. Then it was back to work for me, I actually finished updating each item into it's proper category before bed last night. The project continues today, in addition to my usual weekday order and shipping work. But I love this job! It's my passion, besides sewing, reenactment, traveling, spinning, knitting, and every thing else I find to get into! :) lol.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I was going to get so much done, yeah right!

I haven't, and I'm kind of mad at myself. I had a huge list, still do. I guess I'm feeling kind of down, kind of meloncholy, worried about Jon, overwhelmed, too much to do and too little time to do it, maybe there are other things too, who knows? Sometimes we don't even know ourselves what goes on behind the scenes that affects us. The weather is still cold, though warming, there is still snow out there, yick. Oh, I'm getting things done, just not the huge list I thought I was going to take care of. But I've also been taking time out for myself, I've managed to sit down and spin a couple of times in the evening, I've been working on the fiber that needs to be packaged, I've kept up with the business...but I have the entire week off and I feel like I've spent it being down. I know that I'm worried about Jon, I find myself doing research on his illness even when I'm reading the same thing again and again. So I'm going to get going this morning and go do errands, try to get out of the house (though I really just want to be a hermit) and then come back and get going!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Moving day

Look closely at the picture. I howled laughing when Jon and Laura shared it with me. You can also click on it for a bigger version.
Yesterday dawned early after my "nap" (I got home at 0315 from work). Dear Daughter Jenn's Dad arrived with the moving van and her Virginia apartment contents to pick up a bunch of furniture here. Jon is home on leave this weekend and he and Laura came over and helped Mark and Jen's Dad unload the moving van and then reload it with my dining room set and her bedroom furniture and all of her things. While I was glad to see the furniture go (it was way too big for my house), I'm left with a house in complete chaos...the contents of the china closet and server are all over the floor, we didn't have enough boxes to pack it away, her bedroom which is now my sewing room needs places to put things like lamps and such since the furniture is gone, and the entire house is turned upside down with things on the floor everywhere until places are found to put them away. I will be taking Jon back to Ft. Eustis tomorrow, the rest of the week will be cleaning and organizing time. I'm going to look for a storage piece of furniture, possibly oak, for the dining room, and hopefully can find just the right claw footed table that I have seen in my mind's eye. I don't want new stuff, something old but taken care of but that fits in my little house and even smaller dining room. I've started looking in antique stores, but I think I'm going to wait until I can start going to the auctions and estate sales when the weather warms. I also have to paint the wall in my living room on which the china closet sat, I couldn't reach behind it when I painted the room so you can clearly see the outline of it on the wall's paint! We also moved the TV center up from the basement so we'll be able to watch TV in the living room after we get everything set up and put away. And you never know, I might have one of my spinning wheels accessible and near to the TV for relaxing at after the room is set up. The loom is in the living room too...maybe?????? I sure would love to get something warped and get to sit down and weave. Maybe in my spare time. (Lauging my butt off).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Update on Jon, this is what they think he has

I got a call from Jonathan last night and he has been diagnosed pretty much by the head GI doc with Chronic Pancreatitis. He still is going to have another test to verify, but the symptoms and blood enzyme levels seem to indicate this is an accurate diagnosis. Here is some information on the disorder:

Chronic pancreatitis

What is the pancreas?
The pancreas is a soft, elongated gland situated at the back of the upper abdominal cavity behind the stomach.
It is divided into the head (through which the common bile duct runs as it enters the duodenum) and the body (which extends across the spine and the tail), which is close to the left kidney and to the spleen. Because the pancreas lies at the back of the abdominal cavity, diseases of the pancreas may be difficult to diagnose.

What does the pancreas do?

The pancreas has two main functions: it produces a series of enzymes which help in the digestion of food. Enzymes produced in the pancreas are important in the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and, particularly, fats. Bicarbonate is also produced in large amounts to neutralise the acid produced by the stomach. it produces a series of hormones which are important in maintaining a normal level of sugar in the blood. The best known of these hormones is insulin. Insulin deficiency of this hormone results in the development of diabetes. Another hormone (glucagon) helps to raise blood sugar, and several other hormones control intestinal function.

What is pancreatitis?
Any inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis.
Acute pancreatitis results in severe inflammation of the gland and patients may be seriously unwell. Chronic pancreatitis develops either as the result of repeated attacks of acute pancreatitis or as the result of other injuries to the pancreas (see below). It is thought that the damage to the pancreas occurs as the result of digestive enzymes leaking into the pancreas and starting to digest it. This sets up inflammation, and when the inflammation settles, the scarring process distorts the pancreas making further attacks of inflammation likely. Thus a vicious cycle develops.
As a result of prolonged damage to the pancreas, the pancreas fails to produce enough digestive enzymes to permit adequate digestion of food. This leads to weight loss and the frequent passage of pale greasy stools which contain excess amounts of fat. Further, the destruction of the cells which produce insulin may lead to the development of diabetes.

What causes chronic pancreatitis?
The most common cause of chronic pancreatitis is long-term excessive alcohol consumption. (Jon does not drink) There is a direct relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and the risk of developing chronic pancreatitis.
Other causes include:
high levels of calcium in the blood
abnormalities in anatomy which are usually present at birth
cystic fibrosis (already ruled out in Jon's case)
high blood fats (hypertriglyceridaemia)
in rare cases, some drugs can cause pancreatitis
in a number of cases no specific cause can be identified, a condition known as idiopathic pancreatitis.

What are the symptoms of chronic pancreatitis?
The symptoms are very variable.
Pain occurs in most patients at some stage of the disease. This may vary in intensity from mild to severe. It may last for hours or sometimes days at a time and may require strong painkillers to control it.
It often radiates through to the back and can sometimes be relieved by crouching forward. It is commonly brought on by food consumption and so patients may be afraid to eat. It is also commonly severe through the night.
The pain varies in nature, being gnawing, stabbing, aching or burning, but it tends to be constant and not to come and go in waves. It may sometimes burn itself out but can remain an ongoing problem.
The mechanism of the pain is unclear. It seems to be related to pancreatic activity since it is frequently caused by food, especially fatty or rich foods.
Some patients will have obstruction to the small ducts in the pancreas by small stones, and this is thought to cause back pressure and destruction of the pancreas. There is no relationship between the severity of the pain and the severity of the pancreatic inflammation.

The pain is often difficult to diagnose and can be mistaken for pain caused by virtually any other condition arising from the abdomen or lower chest.

It can be difficult to distinguish pain caused by pancreatitis from pain caused by a peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, angina pectoris, gallstones.

Diabetes is also a common symptom which affects over half of all patients with long-standing chronic pancreatitis.

Long-standing chronic inflammation results in scarring of the pancreas which destroys the specialised areas of the pancreas which produce insulin.

Deficiency of insulin results in diabetes. Diabetes causes thirst, frequent urination and weight loss. It may be possible in the early stages of chronic pancreatitis to treat the diabetes with tablets, but in the late stage of chronic pancreatitis, insulin injections are usually needed.

Diarrhoea occurs in just under half of patients. Normally, all the fat in food is broken down by enzymes from the pancreas and small intestine, and the fat is then absorbed in the small bowel. With a reduced level of digestive enzymes the fat is not absorbed. When the fat reaches the large intestine, it is partially broken down by the bacteria in the colon. This produces substances which irritate the colon and result in diarrhoea. The undigested fat also traps water in the faeces, resulting in pale, bulky, greasy stools which are difficult to flush away. They may make the water in the toilet look oily, smell offensive and may be associated with bad wind.

Weight loss occurs in virtually all patients with chronic pancreatitis. It is due to failure to absorb calories from food, and diabetes may also contribute to this. In addition, patients may be afraid to eat because eating brings on the pain. Depression is also common in chronic pancreatitis and this can also reduce appetite and lead to weight loss.

Jaundice (when patients develop yellow eyes and skin) occurs in about a third of patients with chronic pancreatitis. It is usually due to damage to the common bile duct which drains bile from the liver to the duodenum.

The common bile duct normally passes though the head of the pancreas. In long-standing chronic pancreatitis, the scarring in the head of the pancreas narrows the common bile duct.

Some degree of narrowing may occur in up to half the patients with chronic pancreatitis but when the narrowing is severe, it prevents the bile draining from the liver into the duodenum. It then spills back into the blood and the patient's eyes and skin become yellow. In addition, the stools become paler (since bile makes the stools brown) and the urine becomes dark (because it contains more bile than normal).

Vomiting after meals is a less common symptom but can occur as a result of severe pain. It may also be due to duodenal ulceration, which is often connected with chronic pancreatitis. In rare cases, the duodenum may be narrowed as a result of scarring secondary to chronic pancreatitis.

Vitamin and mineral deficiency. Prolonged passage of stools containing fat can result in low levels of calcium and magnesium in the blood. In addition, some vitamins may not be absorbed properly. This includes vitamins D and A.

Is chronic pancreatitis dangerous?
The major problem with chronic pancreatitis is pain control. This may require the use of morphine-like drugs (pethidine, morphine (eg MST continus) and diamorphine). There is always the risk of addiction to these drugs, particularly if their use is not controlled.

Chronic pancreatitis is associated with a reduction in life expectancy. Only half of the patients with a diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis will survive for longer than seven years following diagnosis. There is also an increased rate of cancer of the pancreas in patients with chronic pancreatitis and this accounts for a fifth of the deaths. Other causes of death include complications of diabetes and complications of alcoholism.

How is chronic pancreatitis treated?

There is no cure for chronic pancreatitis. Once the pancreas is damaged, then it is not able to return to normal function and there is always the potential for further attacks. Treatment is, therefore, directed towards preventing attacks, controlling the pain and treating the complications.

Preventing symptoms worsening
Patients with chronic pancreatitis should avoid alcohol altogether. If the pancreatitis is due to excess alcohol consumption, then this is essential. If it is due to other causes, then it seems sensible to avoid a substance which is capable of damaging the pancreas.

If an underlying cause has been identified then this should be treated. Disorders of calcium metabolism and of fat metabolism will be treated appropriately. Your doctor may recommend removal of the gall bladder if pancreatitis is thought to be caused by gall stones.

Preventing attacks

The long-standing principle has been to try and rest the pancreas. This involves giving pancreatic supplements such as Creon (which contain pancreatic enzymes in high concentration) together with drugs which reduce acid secretion by the stomach. Patients should also follow a low-fat diet.

These measures reduce the presence of fat in the duodenum, reduce acid in the duodenum and reduce the need for pancreatic enzyme secretion. These measures are very successful in about a third of patients, moderately successful in a third and unhelpful in a third.

Some eminent specialists have supported the use of antioxidants in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis. These antioxidants include selenium and vitamin C. You should take specialist advice (via your GP) before taking them.

Control of pain
This is a very important aspect of the treatment of chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatic pain varies in severity from mild (controllable with simple analgesics such as paracetamol (eg Panadol)) to severe (requiring morphine-like drugs for control).

In addition to the preventive measures listed above, the basic principle is to use the drug lowest down the analgesic ladder which controls the pain. Since the pain is often worse at night and since both body and mind are at their lowest ebb in the early hours of the morning, the lowest rung of the analgesic ladder may be pethidine or morphine (eg MST continus tablets). Since the pain is chronic and severe, there is a fine line between adequate analgesia and addiction.

Pain management often needs specialist help either from the specialist gastroenterologist or from the local pain clinic. Your GP will help with appropriate referral, although in most cases the diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis will have been made by a hospital specialist, who will probably supervise your ongoing care.

Other medications may also help. Antidepressants may reduce the requirement for painkillers and may enable a patient to descend the 'analgesic ladder'. Other measures include the injection of local anaesthetic or other substance into the nerve supply from the pancreas.

Treatment of the complications
Malabsorption is treated by administering pancreatic supplements in capsule or powder form.

Diabetes is treated either by tablets or, more commonly, insulin.

Jaundice is treated by ERCP and stent insertion across the stricture in the common bile duct where it passes though the head of the pancreas.

Surgery for chronic pancreatitis
In rare cases, it may be necessary to consider surgery as a treatment of chronic pancreatitis. The indication for surgery is usually severe pain unresponsive to standard measures or a high level of morphine or similar drug usage in a young person.

The surgery may involve measures to improve drainage of the pancreatic duct, partial or complete removal of the pancreas. The major problem with removal of all or part of the pancreas is that it could lead to the development of diabetes in those patients who don't already have it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Lincoln Ball

We had a wonderful time at the Lincoln Ball last night. It was held at the Lutheran Theological Seimnary in Gettysburg, made famous as Seminary Ridge from the battle, only a couple of blocks from Lee's Headquarters in 1863. We had a nice dinner at Appalacian Brewing Company before the dance, as it was conveniently located right next to Lee's HQ building very close by. We even had a very nice visit with a dear friend that lives on the way to Gettysburg as we drove up there for the event. ! Here are some pictures taken during the dance. We danced the evening away, and of course, I looked at all the dresses for ideas for the next one! The dresses were all beautiful and the men all looked dashing!
The period building with it's beautiful chandeliers was perfect for the event, and Mark and I did get our portrait done which will show up in the blog later when it is delivered to us.
My head is full of ideas for design, trim, color, headpieces, you name it!
I think I might work on a cotton evening dress for the camp dances when we're out at Reenactment weekends.
We always look forward to these events, there are 3 Balls a year besides the various camp dances at the events we attend. Mark is going to get a Civilian outfit so that he doesn't always have to be in his uniform for the balls.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dress and Jon

I'm finished with the ball gown except for the fastening, I haven't been able to decide if I want hooks and eyes or the traditional lacings and velvet ribbon. I haven't found the ribbon yet, and I have to struggle into my corset to have Mark pin the dress for sizing, so it'll have to wait a day or two. The Ball isn't until Saturday night and the majority of the work is complete so I feel much better. My primary focus lately has been Jonathan and his procedure this morning.
I didn't sleep very much last night as I was unable to get him on the phone and worried as a Mom would, so finishing the dress kept my hands busy. Jon has come through the procedure safely, his first time being under anesthetics, but nothing conclusive was found. He's back to square one on the diagnosis, still not knowing what is wrong.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Ballgown and Jonathan

I normally wouldn't picture something that is close to being completed, but my dear friend Lorraine asked me for pictures of the Ballgown in its present state so here they are. I worked all day on it and I'm really getting burned out, but I want to get it finished for Saturday night. My mind really hasn't been on my sewing and I know this because I have had to take out and resew so very much, and I've even had to throw out a couple of pieces that I sewed wrong and re make them today.
I put the ribbon roses on the skirt last night at a wonderful get together and Super bowl party at Lorraine and Ron's with good friends (Alice, Barry, Woody, Mark, Seth, Simon, and Soloman), good food, good companionship, spinning, sewing, poker, and we all enjoyed the game and the commercials too! I even managed to finish a bobbin on Cormo and ply it with a bobbin that I'd made a long time ago. Alice plyed silk with Polwarth and then spun some Cormo, and Lorraine spun some beautiful pastel roving that she'd gotten from Alice.
My head just isn't where it should be because I'm very worried about Jonathan, as it gets closer to his procedure on Wednesday, the worry becomes more and more all-encompassing. The doctor told him that they will most likely tear any hole that he might have in his intestines (and they are guessing that he has one) with the camera for the scope, and then he'll have to be taken immediately for emergency surgery. He's down to 115 pounds and just having him put under scares me completely. I can't be with him, he's still at Ft. Eustis, and I worry like any mom would. If you have a moment Wednesday morning, could you send a prayer or two for Jon? Thanks.
As you can see the other sleeve has to be put on. I haven't even begun to make it, I have to do the measurements for the trim and make more ruching as I don't think I have enough left. I also have to make some more piping for the lower edge. After looking at the bodice on the dress form, I think it needs some more flowers on the front of the sleeve, and also on the shoulder in the trim that comes from the bodice. Then I have to get grommets and lacings and do the lace up fastening in the back where it gets put togerher. Another option that I might do is to sew the two pieces (skirt and bodice) together so they don't shift while dancing. And I have to fly this week too. Geesh. I'm feeling tired, guess I missed my nap today. lol

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Begun is half done?

Here's the skirt to my ballgown, I just have to put on the hooks and eyes, figure out what else I want to do to the trim, and iron it and it'll be done. Now, the bodice is quite another story. I cut out a muslin bodice last night, I'm going to try to construct it and fit it later on today (we have our Unit meeting most of the day) and perhaps even start cutting the silk for it. I will have yards and yards of piping to make as well as the ruched trim that I'm thinking I want to put on top of the lace binding to cover up where it's attached to the dress. I haven't decided yet. I also got ribbon roses to attach to the trim at the apex of the curves, and there will be lace on the sleeves and bodice. I'd love to have it done by Feb. 10 for a ball we're going to, but I do have to work this week! Maybe, maybe not.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ta Da! Two finished in one day!

OK, I didn't think I was ever going to finish this one but I did today, it is another flannel dress that I made with keeping warm in mind. I started this one back in early autumn for Cedar Creek but didn't finish. I started it, like most of my other dresses, before I learned that coordinating solid color piping just would never have been done! Now I have only 3 dresses (2 I made) that are correct. I cleaned out some of my reenactment closet and listed some of my dresses that I don't or can't wear up on ebay to let go to another reenactor out there. That'll give me more room for things that I'll dream up in the future. I want to get a ball gown in the works, but so far I'm stalled and don't want to make any mistakes on the silk fabric.

Just one more little thing

I think I have to add another hook at the skirt line, but other than that, the dress is finished. I pulled a bunch of older ones out of the closet today to photograph and sell on ebay, too. My reenactment closet is pretty full, and I only take 3 at a time to a weekend reenactment. Besides, my sewing is getting better, and I'm learning about what is and is not period correct too! So I guess I'll keep on sewing, keep on trying, and keep on learning. Now I'm off to finish the purple dress I started with the intent to wear it to Cedar Creek but never finished it. I got the hem and hem binding done today and hopefully will do the hand work tonight. I think of it as "Ryan's Dress" as my old and dear friend Ryan good naturedly gave me grief about how long it has been hanging on my office door in the same exact unfinished condition!