Saturday, February 9, 2013

What got me started quilting again?

If you look near the top of the left sidebar, you will see "Emily's Quilt" listed.  It was listed back in 2010, and as of January this year the only progress I'd made was washing and ironing the fabrics.  I just couldn't get in the mood to get it started.  I promised Jeremy and Chelsea that it would be done by last Christmas, but it didn't happen - life interfered.

For years now I've had osteoarthritis that is slowly but surely getting worse.  I have some in my knees, and maybe a little in my spine, but primarily it's been in my hands - especially in my thumbs.  I'm right handed, but the left has always been worse than the right.  By last fall I was in constant pain - though knitting for hours each day seemed to give me relief as it exercises the joints.  I saw an occupational therapist, who made me protective splints to wear whenever I used my hands.  I also got a cortisone shot in the left basal thumb joint, which helped me a lot.

The doctor who gave me the shot ordered hand x-rays, which showed that I had no cartilage left in the left basal thumb joint, thus causing pain and deformity.  No wonder it hurt.  She referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand surgery.  The result was that I checked in for outpatient hand surgery on November 27th.  The procedure I had is called a thumb arthroplasty.  Basically the diseased bone is removed and a tendon is rerouted to restore normal thumb movement.

I came home that evening with a thoroughly bandaged hand and orders to do NOTHING with that hand.  Two weeks later I received a beautiful purple cast almost up to my elbow.  I had free use of my four fingers, but what good are they without a thumb?

Can you imagine how nuts I became?  The only thing I love to do that doesn't involve my left thumb is read.  I've been listening to audio books for years, but that gave me nothing to do with my hands.  I always have to have something to do with my hands or I go crazy!  I played a LOT of computer games and was bored out of my mind.  So I read regular books and made it all the way through the five volumes of the Game of Thrones series.

The cast came off on January 8th, and I got a new splint to wear as the old one no longer fit.  I still couldn't use the hand!  I couldn't apply more than one pound of pressure to that thumb, which is almost nothing.  I was able to start spinning again, as that is my fiber hand, and one holds fiber "like a baby bird".  I had eight different hand exercises I was to do five times a day!  Still no knitting.  Or much cooking as I couldn't even lift a skillet.

Two weeks and two days later I was allowed more movement, but still no knitting.  By then I was tired of spinning and wanted something different.  Enter my friend Kim, who offered to cut out Emily's quilt (there was no way I was allowed to put pressure on that thumb to hold a rotary ruler).   I knew I could safely push quilt pieces through my sewing machine, then fuse on the letters and do the blanket stitch embroidery around them.

In five days the quilt top was finished.  I loved doing handwork again!  I knew I could applique safely as I don't exert a pound of pressure when I hold the project in my left hand.  So I finished appliqueing the final two borders of Heirloom stitches,  then all the blocks of the Civil War applique quilt that were prepared (3 total) and then the two months of the Jan Patek 2009 mystery quilt that were prepared.  Also a complete little quilt top.  (Pictures to come.)  And I was hooked.

I am allowed to knit now for 10 minutes at a time with BIG needles, so I made myself a hat.  I have 12 pairs of socks in progress, but I can't use little needles or knit for over 10 minutes until the end of this month,  So I'm happily working away on UFO's, plus a couple little quick applique quilts.  All the rest of the blocks for the 2009 mystery, "Cabin in the Pines", are prepared.  All the applique pieces to the two little quilts are prepared and basted into place.

This morning I realized I really missed all my Internet quilty friends and our sharing, so it was a no-brainer to start blogging again.

I'm really glad to be back!


swooze said...

I'm glad too!

Tazzie said...

Oh my goodness Patti, this is amazing, just last week I stopped by your blog and was thinking about how much I missed you. And here you are posting again! Welcome back! What a hard time you've been having with your hands. I can't even imagine not being able to use them for such a long time.
Glad to see you, and I'll check back in soon!

Pascale said...

I've just read your 2 posts and am so sorry to hear of your bad health. I had a bit of arthritis when I worked, and I can feel it some times, but nothing too serious yet. I would be like you, so sorry to not be able to use my hands.
I hope you are able to sew some more and show us what you have done.
It's great you are back.

Chris@Cats On My Quilts said...

Welcome back! I have osteoarthritis too and know your pain. I am having my second knee replaced this spring. I had shoulder surgery 2 years ago and I could do NOTHING for quite a while. I almost went crazy. So I know how you felt. Hope you are healing well.

Nancy-Rose said...

I'm glad you're back!

I wanted to share a link to my blog post that shows a finished flimsy featuring the block tutorial you posted in 2008 -

Kigwit said...

I'm glad I kept you on my blogroll! It's great to have you back.

Vickie said...

welcome happy the Dr wentt hat step further for you..whilst it put limitations on you in the short term -i pray you and lonmger term without the limited ability and less pain,cheers Vickie

Anonymous said...

I am having gthe same surgery in a few wks... I am already getting antsy that I won't be able to quilt or rug hook for a while. Oh, well.

Carol said...

I currently have my rt. hand in a splint and am having Occupational Therapy 3 times a week for the same problem. I was knitting mittens with small needles..... I have had trouble in the past. Hope I can get by without surgery! But I am going crazy with my thumb immobilized!