Thursday, September 21, 2017

Family Visit

After doing the great adventure post one, I noticed I had neglected to chronicle the other family visits this summer. The Princess came! For almost a week! We had the pleasure of her company without Prince Charming, who visited after she left. He was in Seattle for work and stayed one night; fixing one of the tv stands was a great contribution. 

Anyway, the Princess helped us cook, assisted with some arts and crafts, hung out on the raft and in the yard, went to a Mariners game, and enjoyed a larger family gathering, which included cousins from California and more local relatives. We also took a drive to Mt St Helens, which happened on a beautiful day and was so interesting. The time, of course, went by much too quickly. 

Great visits, great memories. Can't wait for more. 

The Great Adventure of 2017 Part One

If you've been following along here, you know that prior to the kidney transplant, we were tied to a dialysis center for about three years. The only travel we did was by car and if it was for more than a couple of days, Pat had to schedule dialysis along the way. The transplant meant we were free to roam and we began to make plans in June. Despite some low white count issues and some viruses popping up, Pat was cleared to leave the country. We left on Monday afternoon, Sept. 18, and arrived at our first stop in Iceland early the next morning. 

Our first glimpse of Iceland from the air showed how barren it is. 

We tried to stay up all day and only ended up taking a couple of short, inadvertent naps. We were lucky and got to check into our hotel room when we got there at 9 am so had a home base. We first walked back to a little deli we had seen from the bus and had a couple of pastries and coffee. Then we walked down to the waterfront to a statue called Sun Voyager, which may resemble a Viking ship but in fact is a dream boat and ode to the sun, sculpted by Jon Gunnar Arnason. Mount Esja barely peeks through the clouds across the water. 

After the first foray out, I think we went back and rested, then took a longer walk and visited the Asmundur Sveinsson sculpture gallery and then an art gallery. The sculpture gallery was housed in the artist's former home and studio, which he had also designed and built. 

The names of places and streets were often incomprehensible, which made it challenging trying to read the map to get anywhere. 

There's a lot of graffiti and street art here. 

The neighborhoods are charming. 

More tomorrow - we went on a whole day tour in the rain and saw some awesome things. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Seven Months, going on Eight

Our seven month-iversary passed with no fanfare, which is good, since it means that nothing much was going wrong.  My doctor was concerned with my electrolyte balance, so she had me check that a couple of times and start drinking a supplement which is supposed to replenish electrolytes lost due to exercise.  I guess you do sweat during swimming but I don't know if that's the reason they're a little out of balance.  I made Pat take my lab report to the nephrologist who is the head of the transplant program at the UW and he thought everything looked fine for this stage.  I will take him at his word for the expert that he is and go on my merry way until the one year checkup in January.

In family news, we had a visit from Mr. Hollywood and his GF earlier in the month.  It was so good to see them and, of course, the visit was much too short.  When they weren't sightseeing or entertaining, this was their favorite spot.

So what else have I been doing?  Knitting, of course.  I've been working on some handspun socks, which are getting close to being finished.  Since I last posted, I made a pullover sweater, Brickyard, which I don't think looks as good on me as it does on the people wearing it on the pattern page, but oh well.  I used Wollmeise Blend for the first time in the Moses colorway.  I had lusted after this color for years and had the chance to buy it some months ago.  It's as beautiful as I thought it would be.

I also made two hats, one from handspun falkland from Into The Whirled

and one from Cascade 220 superwash.

They are both Malabrigo Head Thingies, which I find to be a hat that is easy to make and will fit most people.

I made the hats for Pat and me because we are finally getting to go on a trip!  Labs have been good enough that the doctors gave permission for a month's absence, so on Sept. 18th we fly to Iceland for a few days, then on to Scotland and England for the remainder of a month.  We're going to try to do a northern lights tour in Iceland, which is where I thought we might need hats.  I'm sure whatever type of clothing we bring, it will be not enough of what we need.  We are going expecting cool and rainy weather but, just like here in Seattle, you never know.  Whatever happens, I know we'll have a good time and I'll keep a travelog here and on Instagram, updating when we have WiFi.  I've been obsessively checking each hotel we consider for the presence of WiFi in the rooms, so think we should be ok. 😏

In the latest chapter of Crazy Athletic Things I Decide to Do, I swam across Lake Washington last Sunday with about 400 other people.  For those who don't know, Lake Washington is the largest lake in King County and the second largest natural lake in the state of Washington.  Compared to Lake Wilderness where we live and I swim, Lake Washington is a sea and Lake Wilderness is a pond. We have only electric motors on our lake, Lake Washington has ski boats, tugboats, seaplanes and industrial barges. The longest and second longest floating bridges in the world cross it.  It's pretty big.  And very pretty.

Always a sucker for a good cause, I signed up for the Park to Park swim benefitting Seattle Children's Hospital.  The distance from the park in Seattle to the park on the east side of the lake in Kirkland was 1.3 miles.  I had swum that distance a few times here at my little lake.  That distance involves me going from one end to the other and then swimming back and forth a little bit until my Apple Watch tells me I've gone far enough.  I knew I could swim that far.

The difference, though, was major.  Even though we had a nice, calm morning for our swim, waves on a lake that big are constant.  Add a few hundred swimmers, support craft including a few big police boats to watch for unobservant boaters threatening to zoom through the line of buoys and swimmers, and you have significant chop.

I made it, though, and it only took me a few minutes longer than I thought it would.  I'm a slow swimmer at best and so being able to arrive on the far shore ahead of about 40 other people was icing on my cake.  Will I do it again next year? Don't know.  Maybe if I forget about how much water went up my nose....

Stay tuned for more exciting happenings and travel adventure.  Enjoy the labor day weekend here in the states and I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Six Month Check Up

Pat and I had our six month checkup yesterday and our partners, Steve and Janis, had theirs on July 13th.  They come a much longer way than we do to get to the UW Medical Center, so we drove in and met them for lunch last  Thursday.  It's so gratifying to get to "see" my former kidney in a healthy, grateful recipient.  We had a nice lunch and caught up on all the details.

Our checkups went well, Pat has to have labs once a week for awhile to follow up on a white cell problem that hasn't been fully managed yet.  He apparently has a pretty strong immune system and while that is usually good, in this case, it can cause problems when the anti-rejection medication is too high in an effort to keep viruses, etc. at bay and pushes his white count so low that he's unable to  fight off any stray germ and that's dangerous.  The chemistry and balancing act is amazingly sophisticated and I wonder how people who received transplants years ago managed.

Anyway, he is doing well and the good news is that he got permission for us to travel out of the country this fall!  So planning will be full steam ahead now.  We already purchased airfare and plan to fly to Iceland in mid-September, stay there three days and then continue to Glasgow.  We don't have exact plans made yet but will probably stay in Scotland a week or so, definitely visiting Edinburgh and then take the train down into England.  We'll spend the rest of the month visiting areas of England that we haven't been to before, probably the lake district, Cornwall, possibly Bath and Oxford and end up in London to fly home in mid-October.  It should be a grand time.

My checkup was also fine but, critical person that I am, I managed to convince myself that I'm not where I should be.  My creatinine was 1.04, which is actually higher than it was two weeks after surgery.  Now this can be due to the exercise that I'm doing, as creatinine is a byproduct of muscle metabolism and intense exercise can increase muscle breakdown.  However, I don't know if my slow swimming is intense exercise and I was disappointed in the result.  The nurse practitioner who went over the labs, however, was not concerned and informed me that my kidney function was about 77% of previous, when I had two kidneys.  I guess that is good news but I was hoping for quicker recovery back to a higher number.

While I'm certainly not a high level athlete, I do expect my body to do what I want it to and to respond quickly and successfully.  I know this kidney stuff is somewhat out of my control except for the requirement that I follow the dietary, fluid intake, and medication restrictions that I've been given.  I feel fine, can pretty much do whatever I want to, and enabled another human being to live a healthy life.  Not bad for a 64 year old "old lady!"

I finished some more spinning: 203 yards of Organic Wool from Southern Cross Fibre.  It came out really nicely.

I also finished the Russell Street Shawl, although the ends aren't all woven in yet.  I wanted to lay it out and see how I liked it, as I really miscalculated the yardage I would need for my main color and ran out way before the end.  I decided to take some more scraps and make a few larger stripes and I really like how it looks.  Hooray for improvisation!

I also made some raspberry freezer jam.  Yum!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Six Months Snuck Up on Us

July 4th was six months post surgery.  As we were visiting with my sister and brother-in-law and waiting for nightfall and fireworks, Pat realized what the date was and what it meant.  I guess it's good that we feel so relatively normal that we're not counting down the days!

Things have been going well in general.  Pat had another problem with low white count but a medication adjustment, a shot, and a few days put him back into the safe range again.  Other than that and still feeling like going to sleep at 8:30, we're good.  The champagne was a celebratory prop; we don't really drink any more. 😉


Our six month check up will be on July 17th, so I'll report on that in a couple of weeks.  Steve and Janis (our exchange partners) have their check ups on the 13th and we're going to meet them for lunch that day.  It will be nice to catch up and get eyes on our respective former kidneys!

In other news, I finished my Kimba Shawl and think it's beautiful.  I really like how the colors work in it.

I haven't finished Russel Street yet, but it's getting close.  The remaining yarn ball is also getting small, but I have a plan in case I run out before the final mini stripes are done.  Yarn chicken....

It's Tour de Fleece again - a spinning event that runs during the Tour de France.  I've been spinning and managed to get two skeins of yarn done so far.

This one is Polwarth/Silk from Edgewood Garden Studios, spun on my Hansen miniSpinner and chain plyed on my Lendrum.

This is South African Superfine wool from Southern Cross Fibre and it was spun and plyed on the Lendrum.

I started knitting a sock yesterday out of handspun superwash Blueface wool and nylon from Gale's Art that I spun last year and three plyed during Spinzilla.  They'll be thick and nice for wearing around the house when it gets cooler.

I spent some time with my wheels outside the past week or so.  I like to take my Lendrum out onto the upper deck and my miniSpinner goes out to the patio below onto the table or lounge.  Such a luxury to have options!  And I never tire of my lake view.  

Last night's full moon was especially spectacular.  I wish I could take better photos!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Five Months!

When last we checked, I was happily settled in the warm weather, swimming and toasting my backside.  There was knitting being done and I actually finished the brioche shawl and the gradient one.  Unfortunately, I didn't have room in my suitcase to bring them home, so they remain in the desert.  They both came out  nicely, despite my ineptness at the brioche section of the first shawl.  The brioche itself isn't hard but I couldn't quite get the ends of the rows done right.  It looked okay in the end, though.

I'm still working on Russell Street, and it's progressing nicely through the colorful mini skeins.  There are going to be a whole bunch of ends to weave in, and lots of picking up of stitches.  Hopefully it will be worth it in the end.

I started another shawl, Kimba, by Ambah O'Brien.  She had a coupon code for some of her patterns so I bought a few.  I'm doing the small size of this one as I'm not a fan of huge shawls usually.  I like this first color a lot and it will progress into two more colors as it grows.

I decided to bring out my spinning wheel for a change of pace when it got too hot to do much of anything outside.  I spun a big braid of JulieSpins Falkland.  I didn't have any big bobbins for my Lendrum wheel so I had to make two sections, which I then plied together into one big hank of yarn.
I had a couple of interested visitors, Mr. and Ms. Hollywood, who each tried their hand at some spinning.  They decided it was harder than it looked!  We had a nice visit over the Memorial Day weekend, which was right before I returned to Washington.

Now to the physical fitness news.  I mentioned last time that I was training to do the swimming in a triathlon here at our lake.  If you're a long time reader, you might remember that I did the whole sprint distance triathlon two years ago and ran the 5K last year.  This time I teamed up with my sister-in-law and her husband and we did the Olympic distance.  I swam a little less than a mile, Joel rode almost 28 miles on his bike and Julie ran 6.3 miles.  We had fun, we finished, we didn't set any speed records.  I'm almost the slowest swimmer in the world but I wasn't last!! That was awesome.  I start out slow so didn't have too much trouble dealing with the crowd of other swimmers, since they were far ahead of me in no time.  I was fast enough to get the first leg over before the sprint swimmers came up and overtook me, so that was good.  I settled into my rhythm and breathing and didn't have to breaststroke the whole way so that was also good.  The medals were much better this year, too!

One of my training mornings.  Yes, that water was cold but my wetsuit was awesome and kept me plenty warm, even though my arms and legs were exposed.

Right after I finished my swim and turned the timing chip over to Joel.

Joel finishing up his bike ride and hurrying into the transition area to give Julie the timing chip.

Julie coming in strongly from her run.

The Team!

Pat and I continue to feel well and, aside from an evening or two when I felt like going to bed at 8:30, I've regained my energy.  A very good month!

Oh, and I almost forgot (again! 😳) We celebrated our 21st anniversary on Friday.  How time flies!