I did it! I finished my first pair of socks. Well, my first adult sized pair. Two at once is definitely the way to go for big people socks. No second sock syndrome. It didn’t really even take me that long. Maybe a week or so?

socks3.jpgAnyway, they are far from perfect. There are so many accidentally picked up stitches that I later had to “decrease out”, so the stitch rows are all a bit off. And the short row heel has a bit of a hole on one side on both socks. I guess I didn’t pick up enough stitches there? Still, I really like them. I’m wearing them right now, in fact. So soft and snuggly on my always cold feet. You can’t see it, but I finished them off with a pretty long 4×3 ribbing on the cuff (cuz I have an odd number of stitches foot size).

booties2.jpg And check out the cute little tiny socks I made for a friends (upcoming) baby. I swear they are sooo teeny. I think I cast on a total of 20 stiches – on size 1 needles no less!! I based the size on Alexis’ newborn foot print, so I hope they aren’t too big for the new baby. I can’t stop playing with them. They’re only as long as my index finger (which is small to begin with). I love making them walk and dance. I know, I’m a giant dork. But they’re so cute!

For those of you interested in such things, the yarn is two balls of Knit Picks Felici Arugala and I used two circular needles (also from knit picks). I had plenty left over even after the baby booties.

And, like Susan, I’ve been sucked in once again. After much looking I found a single ball of Regia Cotton Surf 5410. Why does no one have that? I have looked EVERYWHERE, and you know where I finally found it? On Etsy, of course. I hope I don’t hate it. I’m not very fond of cotton yarns, but this one is mostly wool, so I’m hopeful.

How am I supposed to get any real work completed when there is so much slacking off that must be done? I mean, hell, there is shopping to do, forums and email to be read, and (most importantly) blogs to write. Dammit, there is even bubble wrap that must be popped. And don’t forget the on-line crosswords, jigsaw puzzles and – who’s the genius that implemented this? – sudoku. I also need to chat with my friends and Stumble! some. By the way, if you’re not stumbling, then you have no idea how to waste time.

As my co-workers will tell you, there are always cards to be played. One of our key requirements for new hires is that they can shuffle large decks of cards quickly.

The lunch wheel must be spun NOW. Eew, no not that place spin again! No, again! Deciding where to go for lunch can take a good half hour. And after lunch we’re heading over to the bookstore for some research – on novels and comics and craft magazines.

I must checkout the kitchen to make sure there is no new free candy or something. I need to get countless bottles of water and cups of coffee. I need to stand around the brewing coffee pot and shoot the shit with my friends. Oh and now I have to pee 20 times in a day because of all the coffee and water I just drank.

I’m sorry that I fell asleep in that meeting last week. I forgot my laptop so I could hide behind it and plan my next 5 vacations. It takes serious scheduling to get 5 weeks of vacation out of the 3 weeks I’m given. Now that’s time management!

I’ve got phone calls to make, evites to check, appointments to schedule and errands to run. There are TV shows to review, video games to play, parties to plan, and websites to write. And someone should really solve that Rubik’s cube, it’s been sitting unfinished for a couple of hours now.

Don’t go on vacation, because then I’ll have to deface your cube in some way, and that takes planning. Do you know how long it takes to collect enough post-it notes to cover your entire workspace? Coming up with an original idea is just too much work, better to just google it and steal someone else’s prank.

Whew, I’m tired. I think tomorrow I’ll work from home.

* If you’re my boss and you’re reading this. It’s all a joke. Really. Besides, don’t you have a meeting to go to or something?

Note – None of these are from my current employer. Because while there are surely a few silly things about them, it’s overall a great job, and I don’t want to be fired.

1. While quitting with 4 days notice makes them angry, citing the page in the employee handbook says that they are an “At Will” employer pisses them off to no end.

2. Employing business majors to contract as programmers will get the job done poorly – for a million or so bucks.

3. Forcing your employees to use 10 year old technology stifles their learning and therefore employability by other companies.

4. It is more important for the systems administrators to censor what websites you visit than to actually maintain production systems.

5. Doing good work – on time and under budget – is no substitute for schmoozing with the boss.

6. Creating a shell company and contracting dead people to your current employer is a great idea – as long as you don’t get caught.

7. Placing stickers with guns Xed out on every window and door will only make your employees laugh.

8. Perl is not supported. (wtf?!)


Ok, so as I’m writing this, I realize that I learned all of these things during a nearly three year stay at an employer in one of the armpits of the world. I’ll have to see if I can come up with a more broad list, spanning more employers.

In late 2004 I got my last flu shot. I say my last, because I will NEVER get another after what happened next.

Shortly after getting the shot, my family and I went on vacation in Florida. I was sick with flu like symptoms the whole time. You know, fever, achiness, etc. I also had some tingling in the palms of my hands, which I was attributing to a fall on my bike. It really wasn’t the best vacation, and when we got home, it was practically Christmas. I was so tired, and felt so weak.

After the first of the year, I attended my karate school’s first class of the year. Now, I’d been going to the same school for over 3 years, I should have known better than to go to the first class of the year. It’s ALWAYS a killer. The next day, I was so sore I could barely walk upright. I held off on karate classes for a couple of days, and then went back for more (torture, that is). This class was different. I felt like I was moving in molasses. I couldn’t jump, I couldn’t run (as hard as I tried). It was awful. I was supposed to be the most senior person in that class, people were supposed to look up to me, but I was fumbling around like I weighed 500 lbs.

I let it go, and continued to go to class. But it only got worse. 3 weeks later, I was visibly limping. I figured it was time to visit the doctor. I saw my GP. She wasn’t overly concerned about the weakness and tingling, but more about the frequent migraines and she ordered an MRI. It came back normal. (I have a history of epilepsy and migraines, so normal is a huge relief.) She also recommended that if the tingling and numbness didn’t improve I see a neurologist. There were none in her group, so I was left on my own to find one. My first thought was to find the guy who treated me for seizures in my teens. I found that he had retired. The next step was to find a list of candidates in Austin. I started with a fairly large clinic in Austin, and chose the guy based on his photograph.

When I saw him, he immediately told me it was some sort of polyneuropathy, but he would have to do tests to find out which one, and how to treat it. His first course of action was to order a DNA analysis to determine if it was one of the hereditary neuropathies. It took 3 weeks to get the blood drawn and another six before the analysis was done. When he received the results, he called to tell me I had none of the *known* markers for hereditary neuropathies.

Ok, think about that for a minute. Known markers? If it’s not known, how do you know there are others?

Despite my confusion over this, he told me there was nothing he could do, and that it would probably progress slowly. At this I jumped. I was already limping and dropping my feet regularly. I was falling often. I could no longer run, jump, kick, or jog, and now walking was starting to look iffy. I was even having trouble opening jars and lifting my (then) 2 year old. I told him this. He was very audibly alarmed and told me to come in immediately.

When I got there the motor tests that he did showed I was MUCH weaker. I couldn’t even walk on my tiptoes. I couldn’t even STAND on my tiptoes.

He changed his diagnosis. He asked me if I’d been sick, or had a flu shot before these symptoms appeared. I confirmed both. He came back with “Guillian-Barre“. Now, I knew all about this syndrome, I’d been reading for weeks about nerve damage and neuropathies and possible causes. I nodded. He told me the course of action was to give me a weeks worth of IVIg. This involves sitting in a chair hooked to an IV for 8-10 hours per day.

After the first day of treatment, I was visibly better. My limp was better. I felt better. Over the next few weeks I got better, and then worse. I had to have a second round of IVIg. Six weeks after that, I was bad again. I switched doctors. The new doctor told me that he didn’t think it was your typical Guillian-Barre, that it came on too slowly, and was lasting too long. But he thought it was a related condition called CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy). This is basically the same as Guillian-Barre, but in a more mild form, and chronic instead of acute. More than likely, I would be having battles with it for the rest of my life.

Both Guillian-Barre and CIDP are auto-immune disorders. They both cause a person’s immune system to attack the peripheral nerves (nerves other than spine and brain) and remove the myelin sheath surrounding and protecting the nerve. Think of it this way, if your nerves are like electrical wires, and the myelin is the plastic coating around them. If you run electricity through a wire that has been stripped of it’s coating, a portion of the electricity is lost to the air. Some of the noise makes it through, but it’s not full strength. This is exactly what happens to the signals your brain sends to demyelinated nerves. Part of it is lost to the surrounding tissues because the protective, insulation is gone.

The difference is, that Guillian-Barre often progresses extremely quickly (like in 4-5 days) and that it often causes respiratory complications that lead to breathing tubes and many many months of rehabilitation.

So, getting the flu shot in late 2004 not only gave me the flu (despite what the CDC says about that being impossible) it gave me the wonderful gift of lifelong nerve damage. Granted, if the first doctor hadn’t farted around for 8+ weeks, I might not have had permanent damage, but still, thanks for the warning!

The CDC does mention on thier website that Guillian-Barre is a possible side effect. But they down play the severity of the disease. On the other hand the CDC also says on their website that the flu shot should be had by people who are at high risk for complications from the flu. Those people are infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Um, let’s see, that’s not your average 30 year old joe on the street.

It enrages me to hear commercials telling people that they MUST get a flu shot. Bullshit. It pisses me off that employers post signs around the office about Flu Shot 101, and I’m sure they didn’t mention the possibility of Guillian-Barre or other (more long term) auto-immune diseases. (I’ll have to find someone who went and see what they actually said).

I’ll also tell you that I’ve not had a flu shot since 2004, and I haven’t had the flu since then. My husband, who is mandated to get a flu shot by the military, gets the flu every year. In fact, he’s getting over it as I write this.

Bottom line, do your research. Make an informed decision about that immunization before you get it.

Oh and PS — seems that the new HPV vaccination, Guardasil, is causing Guillian-Barre symptoms as well. There have already been 8 deaths in the US related to the injection. Just something to think about.

Ah, my favorite holiday and birthday all rolled into one. I hit 32 this year, and well, at least people are still telling me I don’t look it. Well, everyone except that mean lady that gave me a facial on the ship last year. She said I was getting wrinkles!!! Rude. You just don’t tell people that. We want to remain in denial. I want to remember myself as I was at twenty. Wait, no I don’t, I was overweight and had straggly hair. That’s perfect for a witch costume on Halloween, but not so great the rest of the year.

bunny.jpgSpeaking of costumes, PostSecret has this card on the current list. Sigh. I mean, what’s up with little girl costumes these days? Newsweek did an article on them recently Skimpy skirts, barely there tops and French Maid costumes? No way am I letting my kid out dressed like that… but then, you saw what I’m dressing her as… it might be just as bad.

Whatever happened to dressing up like some TV monster in a grocery store costume. You remember those, dont you? They are printed plastic jumpsuits, with a plastic mask that is so hot that your face starts sweating the moment you put it on. And what’s worse, is that if you try to talk, spittle gets all over the front where the mouth is supposed to be but never actually lines up with your mouth. Ah the smell of those nasty old costumes really takes me back.

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