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Denim 5: 5 – 11 May

D140511a Many years ago I discovered I was allergic to penicillin when I broke out head to toe in red spots. When I went back to the doctor next day he got me to take off my shirt and trousers then said, “Excuse me a moment” and left the room.

He returned with two nurses and, while I stood there feeling the draft and horribly aware of my bulging midriff spilling over my nether garments like a loaf in the oven overflowing its tin, proceeded to point out interesting features on my person with a felt-tip pen, as if I was a relief map of Germany and he was planning a bombing raid.

Well, this week I discovered I have an adverse reaction to another antibiotic, doxycycline, which sounds like a circus act involving prostitutes on bicycles but which in fact the doctor prescribed for my chest infection. I took the dose in the morning, felt very light-headed and had to lie down; but then, after an hour or so it seemed to pass and I felt well enough to get up and have lunch.

D140511bBut, just like John “Chestburster” Hurt in the movie Alien, I had  been lulled into a false sense of security. Like John, I ate a hearty meal—then felt ill and collapsed—and, just like John, an alien substance exploded from my chest. (In his case it was a baby alien—in my case my lunch—but the principle is the same.)

D140511dI almost fainted, but didn’t quite. I sweated profusely, and I saw something remarkable: I was lying on the floor, unable to move, and my right arm lay before me, with the wrist only a few inches from my eyes; every single pore had a tiny bead of sweat in the hollow, so that my skin looked like a spider’s web on a dewy morning. (When was finally able to stand up I left a Gordon-shaped damp patch, as if my evil shadow had mysteriously been transferred into the carpet, and I remember wondering in the night if it could escape and come after me.)

Anyway, as I say, it was only an adverse reaction, not an allergic one, thank goodness; but between that and the chest infection I’ve been off work all week, sleeping mostly, and wheezing like an old bellows if I did anything energetic, such as breathing. (Sitting and watching television, on the other hand, I’ve got rather good at.)


Calm day on the river

I did an awful lot of knitting. So much so, in fact, that I have finished the first half of the gussets and divided front and back. (Incidentally, for those who keep count, at the point where I started on the back I had just 40g left from a 500g Frangipani cone.) The gussets are 3 inches long, with an increase of 1 stitch either side of the seam every 4 rows, and are 15 stitches across at the widest point.

I went back to the doctor today, and she took a blood sample to see if it’s a virus or an infection that I’ve got. If the former, I just have to tough it out; if the latter, I get to play Russian roulette with another antibiotic. And now I don’t know which I’m more afraid of: another adverse reaction to the drugs, or more time exposed to daytime tv…

16 comments to Denim 5: 5 – 11 May

  • Jane

    Wow, what an eventful week! I hope you feel a lot better very very soon. Chesty things can be a nuisance and hang about so I hope you and Margaret are very kind to yourselves, eat good things and do gentle Yoga and get plenty of rest. This is the standard advice I give to my youngsters and husband on a regular basis while taking not nearly enough notice myself! I do hope you do not mind me mentioning it! I do so as an allergic asthma sufferer, by being very careful with diet and exercise I have managed over the years to distance myself from the tablets and puffers!
    Meanwhile, wonderful progress, the yarn appears positively lustrous and the definition quite outstanding, if you see what I mean.
    In the South still picking ticks, eleven so far this week, off the cats, revolting. Squadrons of young birds and nine ducklings. The Council has just begun to gather up the thousands of sandbags used in the floods!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane,

      I decided many years ago that the secret to inner happiness was being very good to yourself—especially once I discovered Scottish tablet! I take gentle exercise most days, and am lucky here so I have a lovely walk to work, and as a mostly teetotal vegetarian (albeit a chocolate-loving vegetarian with a fondness for chips and Indian takeaways) my body, if not a temple, at least isn’t a Las Vegas casino of excess and debauchery—he says with barely a twinge of regret…

      I guess the Council might need those sandbags again if the arctic sea ice melting reported today continues. My advice is to send the cats out wrapped in bubble warp for protection. Not only will it keep them dry, but the constant pop-pop-popping will alert any birds they try to assassinate!

  • Anne

    Ditto to Jane’s comments above.

    For heaven’s sake, do take care of yourself.

    I have not started my first Gansey yet, still gathering my courage here.

    So, I need you and your so welcome and enjoyable blogs postings.

    Colorado, USA

    • Gordon

      Hi Anne, and thank you for your concern, and kind words. First day back at work today—and knackered! But I didn’t fall asleep, which was my main concern.

      Remember, with ganseys it’s not so much that they’re hard, just that they’re long. But until I started the blog, I used to just knit when I felt like it, often putting it aside for months, so even then there’s no pressure. If it ever stops being fun, then I’ll hang up my needles and live on past glories…

  • =Tamar

    Isn’t there some way they can test for drug allergies in advance? I know I’ve heard of a way to test for allergies by running a blood sample through a machine, so you don’t have to risk having an anaphylactic reaction. I wouldn’t call a collapse and vomiting a mere “adverse” reaction. (I know a woman who is allergic to beer yeast and the reaction is a personality change.)

    For an alternative to daytime TV, how about Youtube? I’ve been watching Mark Reads Discworld – he’s completed The Colour of Magic and is part way through The Light Fantastic. Some strong language but his recent response to a Pratchett pun was astonishing.

    • Gordon

      Good afternoon, Tamar, according to the doctor it went like this: the antibiotics made me feel sick; when I was physically sick that triggered a response in the vagal nerve which brought on the sweating and fainting; but the antibiotics didn’t directly cause the latter. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, I was lucky it wasn’t a genuine allergic reaction, as they can be a lot nastier—even fatal, in extremes.

      I was pretty knocked out, and lay on the carpet outside the bathroom for over a quarter of an hour, unable to get up. The doctor recommended sweet things to get my blood sugar up, so I lay there spooning honey out of the jar like an overweight, middle-aged Winnie the Pooh until I felt well enough to get up! (I still crave sweet things, but had better rein it in soon, I think.)

      Thanks for the YouTube recommendation. Will follow it up, sounds fun!

  • Martha

    Can you tell me what size and brand of needles you use? I searched your blog for “needles” and came across a very useful post about applying deoderant. I have not stopped giggling yet. Thank you and I hope you feel better. I knit Mrs. Lidlaw with you and loved the Frangipani (sp).

    Utah USA

    • Gordon

      Hello Martha,

      I use 2.25mm circular needles, length 80cm. I have a bag of needles I bought some time ago, mostly old Milward needles, but a few years ago I found some Knit Picks circular needles (same size and length) with nice metal tips that I like a lot.

      Straight 2.25mm double-pointed needles are almost impossible to find these days, especially in the 12-inch size I prefer for sleeves. I have half a dozen old ones I keep using, getting more and more bent out of shape with every sleeve I knit; I’m sorry, I can’t remember the brand (Milward again? Aero?) Frangipani have recently started selling excellent 2.25mm dpns; but at 40cm long they’re not the size I’m used to, dammit!

      I don’t remember the deodorant post. At some time I’m going to look back on my life in the company of the Recording Angel, and I’m going to have a few awkward questions to answer, I think…

  • Sue Mansfield

    Knitting sleeves on 40cms pins? No way – I agree with you, much to long! However, I might be able to help you out if you thought that you could get used to working with shorter pins? My mother passed her steel knitting collection on to me when her arthritis got too bad and now because I inherited not just the pins but the arthritis I have gone over to using birch double pointed pins from Britney.

    So I have 2 sets of 2.25 pins you are welcome to – one set of 4 which are 9ins long and 1 set of 5 which are 7ins long. And if by any chance you do your cuffs on a smaller needle then I also have sets of 2mm pins in various lengths too and which you are also welcome to have as well. Email me with a postal address if you would like me to post them to you. My Mum would love them to go to a good home,

    • Gordon

      Hi Sue, that’s very kind of you and yes, I’d love to take you up on it, thanks. I’ll send you my address later on.

      I tried knitting “properly” with a sheath once, and several dpns; it was a disaster, the stitches kept falling off the ends, and it was like trying to play six pairs of bagpipes at once. Of course, if I’d stuck with it no doubt I’d have got the hang of it, but I have the patience of a 3 year-old, so that was never gonna happen…

      Many thanks again,

  • Sue Mansfield

    Hi, that’s great – I’ll get them posted off to you. I too have never mastered the art of using a sheath either. I do have sets of 40 cms pins from Frangipani but find it much easer to to use circular needles for as much as I can and then smaller Birch pins when it gets to the point that there are two few needles to move around the shortest circular needles in the collection. I’ve never mastered the technique of using two circular needles for narrow tubes ie the cuff end of sleeves either!

  • Sue Mansfield

    Oops! Just realised that I mistyped my own email address and hence why it says my last post is awaiting moderation!

  • =Tamar

    Deodorant mentioned:
    Wick 8: 3-9 February (10 February 2014)
    (Also June 11, 2012, but I think it was the February one Sue found.)

    I enjoy trying different modes of knitting. My usual method is to switch randomly between left-hand-yarn and right-hand-yarn, with my peculiar way of holding the yarn. I enjoyed playing with Portuguese hooked needles, and also tried working with the yarn around the back of my neck, but I haven’t tried a sheath yet. Years ago I was told that old-style Polish knitting was very strange, but the woman who said that refused to demonstrate.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar,

      Maybe it’s because I came to knitting late, in my twenties, but I find I’ve found a method that works for me, and I have no inclination to move beyond it. It was the same when I tried to learn a musical instrument—I’d have the rare moment when it all clicked and my fingers flew over the frets, but most of the time it was mechanical and earthbound. I do think if I’d learned to knit with lots of dpns and a sheath I’d be proficient(isn) at that, but as it is—no chance! Maybe because learning a new technique is so slow, and I’d always rather just be knitting something?

  • Marilyn

    Hello Gordon, I’ve missed you and other internet friends as first the computer power cord and then the modem needed replacing. So now, back on line and checking in. Those symptoms sound terrible! As you’re laying on the bathroom floor, I’m sure you were writing mental blog posts and trying to find the most amusing twist to events. I am glad it passed. The gansey is looking maahvelous, dahling. Take good care. Looking forward to Monday’s next post. Marilyn

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn, good to have you back with us. When I had my wee “episode” last week, my first thought as I slid to the floor and felt consciousness slipping away was, I wonder if I’m going to die? But I’m not proud to say that as the worst passed and I felt more myself, my second thought was, Well, at least I have something to write about this week!

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