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Denim “Homophone” Gansey: Week 5 – 29 November

Can it really only be five weeks that I’ve been knitting this ganseyette? Apparently it is, yet here we are already on the first sleeve. (Sooner or later I’m going to have to knit again for Big People, and it’s going to come as a shock.) So that’s the front and back finished and joined, the collar done, and the pattern band at the top of the sleeve almost completed. Ideally I’d prefer the pattern to be maybe another inch deeper, but I’m restricted by the size of the tree I used on the yoke; I’ve tried to extend it unobtrusively by adding a couple of blank rows before the ridge and furrow band and I don’t think it looks too bad.

Rainbow over Wick

It was Winston Churchill who in 1916 described Admiral Jellicoe, commander of the British fleet, as “the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon”. This phrase has always stayed with me as a reminder of how quickly and dramatically your life can change. Sometimes in as little as twenty minutes. I went to the hospital this week to see the consultant about my persistently hoarse voice. If I say that having a metal tube with a camera on the end inserted up a nostril and fed down my gullet so she could examine my vocal cords wasn’t the worst part, you’ll get an idea where I’m coming from.

Riverside hawthorns

The tubey-camera part didn’t hurt at all, though it was cold, and I was definitely aware there something metallic inside my face, the closest I’ve come yet to joining the Borg Collective. This was so distracting I forgot to breathe, and had to be reminded by the doctor. She had a student in attendance, so not only did I have to sit there, breathing and making a variety of farmyard noises so she could see my vocal cords in action, I had to do it all twice for the benefit of the student (“Say heee—look, it’s vibrating, do it again!”). Afterwards she told me what I’d suspected, it was acid reflux interfering with my voice box, and the only mitigation is really to eliminate acidic foods from my diet. Doesn’t sound too bad, I thought. Ha. Alas, it means no more tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, onions, tomatoes or orange juice. (It also means cutting out fatty bacon, but after being vegetarian for 30-plus years I’m pretty sure I can live with that.) Not even peppermint tea makes the cut. I asked her what I should replace them with and she said, in the tone of a member of the Inquisition telling a heretic they were going to be burned at the stake for the good of their soul, “Water”. Death, one asks, where is thy double-shot latte with sprinkles and extra cream?

Winter Sunset

But even that wasn’t the worst part. Apparently there’s a small growth on one of my vocal cords, which she said is probably benign but needs to come out asap. So that means a trip to Inverness, and another assignment with my old military nemesis General Anaesthetic. It’s a simple procedure, you’re out the same day, but you can’t travel far in the immediate aftermath which means an overnight stay somewhere local. (“You can always stop with friends in Inverness” she said helpfully, to which I said that I didn’t have any friends before hastily remembering to add, “Er… in Inverness”.) So there we are. I may not have lost the war in an afternoon but, sitting here cradling my mug of cinnamon tea* and trying to remember to breathe, it doesn’t exactly feel like victory either.

[*Actually coffee. My current plan is to join a Trappist monastery and that way I get to still drink coffee and not have to speak – honestly, it’s win/win.]

14 comments to Denim “Homophone” Gansey: Week 5 – 29 November

  • Dave

    Ouch. That doesn’t sound much like fun. Good luck with the op. At least the accents are nice in Inverness. No coffee, no chocolate. Double ouch.

    • Gordon

      Cheers, Dave. Mind you, I’m writing this as I grind some coffee for breakfast tomorrow, so I’m not getting carried away just yet…

  • =Tamar

    Acidic foods? Really? I think it’s a good idea to remove the growth, but… I am not a doctor, but I’ve had acid reflux literally all my life, and my mother did too. She called it bile burps in the 1950s.
    According to what I read on the net, acid reflux is caused by a weak sphincter valve on top of the stomach. When the stomach is too full/under pressure, the perfectly normal very acid contents of the stomach leak into the esophagus, and if you’re lying down, or burp, it comes up into the throat, and ouch. They say that caffeine loosens the normally tight valve and that allows leakage, especially if you are lying down or slouching.

    I have a mild case, so I have managed by avoiding over-eating and staying vertical after drinking coffee, chocolate, etc until the effect wears off. So no late-night caffeine.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I get the “coming up the œsophagus” quite a lot, and it’s not very nice. Some days I can’t eat without coughing or even choking. Mind you, that seems preferable to a world without caffeine! So it all comes down to quality of life I guess…

  • Deb

    Google Centaurium. It’s available as a tincture from A Vogel aka Bioforce. Promotes movement and production of bile & tightens the oesophageal sphincter. In other words it deals to acid reflux & you can eat what you like. Just scream & run if they mention omeprazole. It is the poo of Beelzebub.

    • Gordon

      Hi Deb, thanks for the suggestion. (Oh, and I seem to remember Black Sabbath started out as Poo of Beelzebub before they sold out and changed their name…)

      • Julie

        Don’t rule out medication off the top. I’ve taken Rabeprazole daily for years and eat and drink as I wish. We are all different.

        • Gordon

          Hi Julie, the nurse I saw for my pre-op assessment told me to go back to my doctor and request prescription medication, and that was one she mentioned. Now all I have to do is get to work on my doctor…

  • Ouch! So sorry you have to go through this ordeal. I too have had acid reflux my whole life and am told it is because of a hiatal hernia. They will have to pry my coffee cup out of my cold dead hands.

    • Gordon

      Hi Wendy, I know what you mean! Coffee is the closest I’ve come to a proof of the existence of God: nothing so wonderful could exist by chance, surely…?

  • Derek M

    Ouch – hope the trip to Inverness is benign in every aspect. If it were me, they’d have to keep me in while they treated me for caffeine and chocolate withdrawal!

    • Gordon

      Hi Derek, I did note the consultant’s use of the words “probably benign”, with “benign” doing a lot of heavy lifting in the sentence… (As many people have pointed out, why is it always coffee and chocolate that get banned, and never, say, broccoli?)

  • Kevin Bass

    Life without coffee– just not happening. Try green tea, i drink it a good deal, less caffene so may be better. Your project is coming on and as I said before thank you for directing to Frangipani. Figured out problem before, predictive text, so Gansey came up as Ganesh. Happy knitting.

    • Gordon

      Hi Kevin, good to hear from you. Sorry I missed your previous comments.

      Thanks for the suggestion. Green tea is up there, so is decaf coffee. But I’m so far aligning myself with St Augustine – Lord, make me virtuous – but not yet! Happy knitting to you too. Cheers, Gordon

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