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Scottish Fleet, Week 13: 1 November

SF151102-2Apart from a whole bunch of memories, I brought back from the States last week a broken tooth, which just sheared away like a cliff face exposed to coastal erosion. (This happened in an excellent Mexican restaurant in upstate New York while we were eating tortilla chips; and few things can be more disconcerting than crunching your way through your own teeth under the mistaken assumption they go nicely with guacamole.) Well, the tooth is now sorted, thanks to some nifty reconstruction work by my dentist.


Creels at Lybster harbour

But I’ve also had a recurrence of the mouth infection (ulcers and swollen lips) I suffered some months ago; it’s slowly wearing off, though it did prompt said dentist—rather unfeelingly, I thought—to ask me if I’d had cosmetic surgery to make my lips plumper, before howling with laughter and then pretending she’d got something in her eye until she sobered up. (I let it pass—my mouth was by then so numb I sounded like I was eating a mouthful of taffy; and she was the one holding the drill, after all.)

SF151102-1Well. Back to business. I’ve finished the first sleeve, including the turned-back cuff to allow the wearer to adjust the length (this is my insurance policy when I’m knitting a gansey for someone too far away for me to get up close and personal with a tape measure; or someone adroit enough to obtain a court order). And I’ve started the second.

This is where my cunning wheeze of using the little bit of leftover yarn from the first cone to start the sleeve really pays off—having done all the hard work weeks ago, rather than have to pick up the stitches around the armhole (the knitting equivalent of doing quadratic equations), now all I have to do is slip them off the holding yarn and Robert is your mother’s sister’s husband, as the saying goes.


Autumn colour in the churchyard

In other news, Judit of this parish has been busy again, finding new things to do with gansey patterns and a bit of yarn—in this case, collars with hearts and mini-cables. And speaking as someone who keeps warm indoors in winter by wrapping a scarf so thick around my neck strangers assume I’ve been treated for whiplash, this seems like a rather brilliant idea. You can see the splendid results here – it’s on the third page of Judit’s gallery.

Oh, and neither doctor nor dentist could offer an explanation as to why the infection, if such it is, should have recurred. It may be dietary, they said, an allergic reaction to something I ate. My blood ran cold—quelle horreur—what if I’m allergic to coffee and doughnuts? Then there would be nothing for it but to compose my death haiku and open my veins. But then a happier thought occurred—maybe I’m just allergic to Wick…

17 comments to Scottish Fleet, Week 13: 1 November

  • =Tamar

    Ouch! You have my sympathy. I should think that a broken tooth would be sufficient to explain an infection, especially if it was cracked for a while, allowing germs access to the interior. This may be a blessing in disguise.
    I don’t know your dental history, but I’ve read that in some cases an increase in calcium in the diet has been known to recalcify teeth.
    I wholly support the practice of wearing a scarf indoors. I’ve taken it up along with indoor hat-wearing. Alas, even fingerless gloves make it difficult to type.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, the dentist was very clear that she didn’t think it was an infection after all, and not connected to the broken tooth. She did wonder about diet, coeliac allergy, etc. and has referred me to see a specialist at the hospital in Inverness. She also said if it was infection it shouldn’t have come back, as the antibiotics I had last time should have killed it. So now we wait…

      My problem with knitting in fingerless gloves—a technique issue, no doubt—is that I keep getting the double-pointed needles caught in the gloves fabric. Plus it’s like knitting with a band-aid on, it feel clumsy and awkward. But hats and scarves indoors, absolutely! I have a soft fake Russian ushanka hat I wear in winter that’s like wearing a hot water bottle on one’s head…

  • Silverclose

    Dear Gordon,
    Months ago you attained the status of Something To Do On Mondays. I worry about you. I worry about the weather – is Wick too dark, too cold, too wet today for good knitting? I worry about your health. Is he not quite right in himself, I wonder, or is he going to come down that sleeve full of running in a canter and pass the cast-off with his ears pricked?
    All this anxiety was worth while, however, for your photos of sleeve-knitting have lifted a great cloud from my life. You used three dpns. Not four. Three. I have been using four and it has taken me a month to knit twelve inches of sleeve, slowing down all the time to disentangle points from wherever they were lodged this time. Never thought of three needles. All problems solved, will give you a race to the cuff.
    Many thanks, and swift and happy healing.

    • Gordon

      Hello there – we shan’t fall out over 3, four or twenty needles, I promise! I nearly sprained a fetlock but I’m on the final straight and the finishing post’s in sight, and in a week or two I’ll be hoping for a rub-down in the paddock…

      Once the second sleeve is underway I know I’m almost there, and while it feels as though you’re repeating yourself after the first sleeve it’s great to see the jumper finally looking like a jumper. I flag a bit halfway through a gansey, but this is the time when I’m looking forward to starting the next, planning it out and thinking, next time I’ll get it right…

  • Sharon in Surrey

    I just love that color & pattern. It really does make me want to knit one of my own. Sigh.
    Sorry to hear about your mouth & lips. My hairdresser suffered from something similar – including huge swollen eyes as well as lips & mouth sores. After months of suffering, she got sent to an Allergist. Turned out to be an allergen in her saliva & tears. Never had it before. She had to eliminate everything but clear liquids from her diet & then added things back until she came to the thing that made her break out. Turned out to be the ‘pure’ ‘natural’ ‘organic’ super expensive honey she got to replace the ‘evil’ ‘processed’ sugar she had previously used. Don’t know what those bees were into but something in that honey ‘poisoned’ her system. Have you been in contact with anything unusual lately??? Other than American food, that is????

    • Gordon

      Well, you see the problem is, I first had this in Scotland, then it recurred in the States. So I can’t even blame it on that nasty American chocolate that tastes of earwax and pureed woodlice! And I use a steroid spray to suppress the allergic reaction that I already have (to something that the NHS thinks is too obscure to be worth identifying). So there’s that.

      I’v along been tempted by the life of the spirit. Maybe the time has come to renounce material things and live on purified water and the energy of the universe—less, of course, it turned out that that’s where the problem lies…

  • =Tamar

    That’s a good idea, to consider allergens. There are plenty of problematic organic materials, and bees go all over. I wonder whether they went to a plant she’s allergic to. I suppose she could do a skin test with local-origin honey to find some she could use.

  • Nigel

    I am beekeeper and always a bit wary of ‘organic claims’. Bees go where they want. They can only fly six miles max, so the furthest they can go from the hive is three miles. So it is possible to have organic honey if the hives are surrounded by organic fiels for more than three miles. But …

  • Sharon in Surrey

    I know you can’t control bees Nigel – they go where they will unless you plant Fennel, Peppermint & Oregano all along the driveway!! LOL I keep hoards of bees alive all summer!
    Maybe you just need more whiskey in your tea, Gordon.

    • Gordon

      I’m not allowed whisky just now, Sharon, because of the antibiotics I was given in the hopes that they might cure what looked like an infection. Now it seems as though it’s not an infection, so I get the worst of both worlds!

  • Sue Mansfield

    Hi Gordon, I sympathise re the tooth – back in July I broke a tooth on a very crusty bread roll and remember thinking at the time ‘I didn’t think this roll contained seeds’! I sympathise too with the mouth problems you have been experiencing which seems rather similar to something that has been happening to me too.

    It first happened within 24 hours of being prescribed Naproxen for my arthritis so the solution seemed obvious – stop taking it because it was one of the reported side effects. However, I then had a similar outbreak on the successive trips to Cuba so my GP and dentist decided it must have been a coincidence that I was on Naproxen the first time it happened and that it probably wasn’t the culprit after all.

    After various other possible causes were investigated and eliminated including possible allergens and it being an autoimmune reaction, the consensus after a very bad outbreak whilst on a Baltic cruise this summer was that it was sun triggered. Because it on,y seemed to happen when in sunny places! The penny dropped after yet another visit to the oral health clinic at the local dental hospital where the consultant said that she wasn’t convinced, having seen the photos, that it was a case of sun sensitivity and that it looked more like the sort of reaction that some people had to certain painkillers. Which is when, light beginning to dawn, I asked her ‘Such as Ibuprofen?’ And she looked at me askance and replied ‘Yes – why do you ask?’

    Well, because it had suddenly occurred to me That the other common denominator for all the outbreaks was that I was doing things that meant I ended up with the arthritic aches and pains that made me resort to Ibuprofen. In the case of Cuba 3 hrs of dance classes every morning plus going out dancing every evening and in the case of the Baltic cruise, walking around the cobbled streets of medieval towns! So it looks as if the Naproxen probably was the culprit the first time after all!

    So perhaps it mght be worthwhile having a look at what your current painkiller of choice is and whether your outbreaks coincide with increased use of them?

    PS The gansey is looking wonderful!

    • Gordon

      Hi Sue, that’s interesting. The dentist thought that what I had was probably an allergic reaction, and was wondering if I was coeliac or what sort of things I’d been eating. Unfortunately I can’t think of a common denominator in the two attacks I’ve had—though I did have some painkillers while I was in the States to get me through a social function with a migraine, so that may be worth thinking about. It’s gone down a bit, but it’s definitely still there, so clearly it’s not an infection that can be treated with antibiotics. Hopefully the specialist at the hospital when I finally get an appointment will be able to help—though I don’t have a lot of confidence.

      Mind you, it was lovely and sunny in Massachusetts—not something I’m used to—maybe I’m becoming allergic to sunlight after living in Caithness for 4 years; or else I’ve been bitten by a vampire and the transition has begun…

      • Sue Mansfield

        Hi Gordon, one of the things that convinced the consultant that it was a rection to anti-inflammatories after all was that the swelling and blisters always responded very quickly to being treated with a hydrocortisone cream such as Fucidin. She recommended that my GP give me a prescription in advance of any future trips so I could take it with me and to use a paracetamol/codeine based painkiller in future instead.

        • Gordon

          Thanks for this, Sue. I expect by the time I get to see a consultant everything’ll be fine and it’ll be hard to remember just what it all felt like! But I’ll cheerfully drop this into the discussion with the health professionals when the time comes. Either they’ll find out what the trouble is, or I’ll never set foot in an airplane again…

  • =Tamar

    I wonder if you have two things going on at once. I was googling for information about calcium and got into information about iodine, and I wondered whether you were eating more seafood than usual, or less, or something, because apparently iodine can cause trouble either way. It can even cause trouble if you were low on iodine and suddenly ate seafood that had a lot of iodine. (That is, a sudden change in diet can cause trouble even if it’s technically an improvement.) The detail that caught my eye was that it can cause facial swelling around the lips and nose. Maybe your doctor could test something.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, well, I’m vegetarian, so if I have a problem it’s likely to be not very much seafood. But I take your point, and in fact I wondered if there might have been something in the food I ate at the Thai restaurant on Friday or the Mexican on Saturday or the Indian on Monday – either something I’m allergic to or something I’m just not used to eating. But it came on 24 hours after the last of those so I don’t know!

      On the other hand, I hardly drank any milk while i was over there… But I agree – the more i read, the more like an allergic reaction it looks.

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