Sunday, January 17, 2010

Little things

Last Friday, 01/08, I started getting that familiar sensation that precedes an almost complete cessation of activity in my digestive system. That little premonition is always followed by a monster case of indigestion and before I know it, I look six months pregnant thanks to a swollen abdomen. This goes hand in hand with constipation. There. I said it.

I also develop a pain on one side of my torso. It was on the left this go around. While I was being treated for leukemia in 2007, I had my first run in with this phenomena. The transplant doctor who was seeing me while my regular doctor was out on maternity leave explained that occasionally, someone who has had a lot of chemotherapy can develop neuropathy in the gastrointestinal tract. Since I had a significant case of neuropathy in my hands and feet, he speculated that I was also suffering with it in my GI.

That episode lasted for about ten days and was only helped along by a sickeningly sweet syrup that my leukemia doctor prescribed to me. I had to take two tablespoons every four hours until I was able to have regular bowel movements. I went through two large bottles in two days.

Since then the problem has come and gone. It has little to do with my diet and lately I've noticed that it happens every two months or so. It usually occurs right after a flare up of skin GvHD. My local doctor recommended magnesium citrate that last time I talked to him about it. You can get it over the counter at the drugstore and it comes in fun flavors like purple or red.

What's that? Colors can't be flavors? I beg to differ. The purple is labeled grape, but it tastes like an alien imitation of concord grape juice diluted with a heaping scoop of salt. The red is supposed to be cherry. It's salty and sour. Did I mention it's carbonated? They also stain anything they come into contact with.

I think my dear doctor forgot that I take mass amounts of magnesium on a daily basis and have built up an immunity to the little side effects that accompany the supplement. The magnesium citrate never does anything for me physically. Psychologically, it makes me want to hunt down the research and development guys that thought it would be funny to label the red and purple flavors cherry and grape.

A local emergency room doctor suggested I take Miralax on a daily basis. This was roughly the point that I realized that he was just throwing things out in the hope of finding a solution. I know my case presents a unique challenge to the MD's in town and I can't fault them for not knowing what to do.

This last go round, I emailed my transplant nurse asking for the prescription level stuff. She was out, but the nurse filling in for her promised to get something called in. I picked up the prescription two days later. Since the universe has a sense of humor, the problem resolved on its own the day before the medicine was ready.

I'm over-sharing in case there's another transplant patient out there who may be suffering from a similar ailment. I only know two other people affected by this and neither are transplant patients. I've been told that it happens amongst transplant patients and the doctor who initially caught it wasn't surprised by my presentation.

While I was convalescing, I finished making the throw pillow covers and assembled the knit purse. I even managed to finish stitching a shrug that I started knitting in 2007. It's currently soaking in the washing machine, waiting to be blocked.

One of two throw pillows I managed to piece together. I only had to redo the first one three times. It's a long story involving sewing in a zipper and chemo brain. Once I got it sorted out, the second pillow was a snap.

A close up of the purse. For the knitters out there it's a repetition of brioche stitch that's been smocked. I have a closet obsession with smocked fabric and decided to take a chance with smocked knitting. It's not the same for obvious reasons, but I like the end result.

Here's the bag by itself.

Behold the fancy lining I made. Chris suggested pockets after I'd already sewed it into the knit pouch. I had to agree that pockets made sense, so I ripped the lining out and put in four pockets.


Susan C said...

I am wild about that fabric.

Ann said...

I love it, too! I got it at Hancock Fabrics in the outdoor fabric section. It was half off and I had to stop myself from buying too much. :)

Anonymous said...

You need a website and sell this stuff. I would buy it. Truly beautiful craftsmanship and art together.

I have the runny tummy issue- so different from yours but still the GI GVHD is tough.

Anonymous said...

You are very talented with your crafts, Ann! I can really only knit a big and boring rectangle. My 8 year old has recently taken an interest in knitting -but there is a very limited amount that I can teach her! hahahahaha!!!!

I hope you don't mind my suggesting something to maybe help get things to 'move along' for you. But what has worked really well for my kids when they have been really constipated is cherries. In any shape or form! it can be cherry juice, fresh cherries, cherry pie, cherry popsicles, just anything cherry. It gets things moving so well that they almost can't stop it and have to rush for the bathroom!


PJ said...

I'm glad you're flowing again. That's a miserable feeling.

I will not be posting pics of my handicrafts on my blog. Too much strangeness. If we ever live in the same area, will you be my mentor?

Anonymous said...

Those are great! You do some wonderful work.


Nancy said...

Ann, I absolutely love the fabric. Our Hancock fabrics closed a few years back. The pillows would look great in my family room..hint, hint... nah, just kidding. I know how hard you worked on them!!! I'll get around to making my own someday. I noticed that the pillow fabric matches the purse! You are a clever being. Were you always this way or did you get some of that from your donor?

Hmmm. constipation. My sister in law got me some wonderful tasting prunes. I know, prunes? Seriously? ... never touch the stuff.. but these were orange-flavored. REALLY DELICIOUS and I despise prunes!!! I bought some more at the market. I think they were made by Sunsweet. I can send you some if you can't find them. Let me know...

Good Luck!!! Love, n

Ann said...

Lea, you are too kind. Thank you.

Jeannette, thanks for the suggestions. If you guys are still in town, I'd be happy to help with any knitting related madness. You might also check out They have videos for most things and they're really helpful. There's also a knitting site that requires membership, but it's completely free and has been an invaluable resource. It's: You could sign your daughter up if she's still interested in learning.

PJ, I'm sure there's so much I could learn from you on so many subjects. Maybe if we lived closer we could start a mutual admiration society?

Heather, thank you.

Nancy, you never know, if you were to throw out dimensions, pillow cases might show up on your doorstep. My pantry is stuffed with dried fruit, including prunes, apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries and a mystery bag of mixed berries. My diet is pretty high in fiber, so the whole GI thing is more related to the nerve that stimulates contractions in your stomach and intestines. It's a viscious cycle, but I'm glad you guys are all up for the wild ride. As for the fabric, I've been stalking it for weeks. The purse lining was a perfect excuse to buy some and then I realized that 2 of my throw pillows needed to be recovered thanks to the furbabies. And of course, it was on sale. It's a combination that was too hard to resist. Poor Chris is going to end up buried in handicrafts at the rate I'm going. The current project is a floor pillow for him to use while he plays video games.

Ann said...


I could pick some of the fabric up for you and mail it to you if you'd like. Just let me know. :)