Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: What a Year!

2008 is not a year I will easily forget, even though there are a few things I would like to forget.
The year started out with me being diagnosed with ITP, a rare blood disorder. For three and a half weeks I was hospitalized, poked, stuck and probed until ITP was determined. After being released and home for a month to recoup I returned to work, teaching.
New York is a happening place and this spring it took on an added buzz because Pope Benedict XVI was going to visit. Crazy me wanted to go down to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to try and catch a view of the Holy Father. What was I thinking? I still had a little difficulty standing for long periods, not to mention, where were the bathrooms!
Life barreled on and I slowly started feeling like a real person. I continued with making dolls and looked forward to taking part in Doll Days in Mt. Vernon. I had a doll pattern that I had put off making and thought now would be a good time to tackle it. July arrived and I was now free for the summer. Since I illness I decided that I wasn’t doing any workshops or classes this summer, I wanted to concentrate on me and getting well.
One night while working on Genie, my nose started to bleed and it took forever for it to start. Panic was creeping around the edges of my physique, was this the start of an ITP flare up? After a visit to Dr. Ahgo’s office my worst fears were realized, my platette count was taking a nose dive. Here it was the end of July and I was back in the hospital, again! At one point I had a nose bleed that lasted more than twenty-four hours. Needless to say I need a blood transfusion. After six units of blood and several doctor visits we were all in agreement that the spleen had to go. Surgery was scheduled for the following weeks. My platette count had stabilized so I was able to talk my way out the hospital for the weekend.
I got to attend Dolls Days and was able to finish Genie to add to the group of dolls I planned to display. It was great being with my group, Needle Knows Dolls and meeting with other doll makers and then there was the shopping. Let’s face it we love to create, but we all live for the hunt of finding just the right fabric, pattern or bits of embellishments for our projects.
Tuesday found me at Einstein-Monte and a date with Dr. Bellmore and company, Rambo was leaving and peace was going to be restored to the kingdom. Dr. Able had a little difficulty locating my veins for the anesthesia. With the exception of the bone marrow test, this was the most painful part of this whole ordeal. I was grateful when the mask was placed over my face and I was told to breath deep, I didn’t have to be told twice. The next thing I knew I heard Maureen’s voice telling me that she would be my nurse while in recovery. Through my feet I could see the clock and couldn’t believe that it was 4:30p.m. I went under around 11:00a.m. I was released the following afternoon; such is the technology of laparoscopic surgery. A few weeks later it was time to start school. I was moving slowly, but the outlook was great.
Finally, the political conventions are over and the campaigns can begin. In the Democrats’ corner is Senator Barack Obama, for the Republicans’ it Senator John McCain. For the first time there is an African American running for president on a national ticket. We are in a historic time. Hillary Clinton our senator from New York was poised to be the first woman to run for president on a national ticket. She and Obama fought tooth and nail for the position, primary after primary. Obama won and history was still made. Just when the country was saying wow to this event, McCain selects the governor of Alaska to be his running mate. Who the hell is the governor of Alaska? Answer, Sarah Palin. Now we are still on the history road.
Haven’t had time to make any dolls or quilts, school is keeping me hopping. Election night arrives and I’m not going to sleep until I hear whose going to be our next president; this is too important for me to miss. As usual I’m checking papers and keeping track of the vote on NBC. Earlier in the day I voted before going to work; the kids were off but teachers had to report for staff development-ugh! My polling place is in the basement of my apartment building. I ran downstairs and jumped on the line to vote. It didn’t dawn on me that I had cut the line until I happened to look back and saw that the line had stretched way into the parking lot. No one got upset and for that I was grateful. Later, I took a cab to work and was moved by the sight of long lines of people waiting to vote. Parkchester had joined the thousands of people across the country coming out to exercise their rights as citizens, voting.
As the evening wore on I watched the map color in red state then blue state. It reminded me of one of my colleagues who told the story about a student doing an exit project on gangs. The student was excited to see that there was a map that showed the influence of the Crips (blue) and the Bloods (red).
Brian William’s voice broke through my thoughts as he announced that our 44th president was Barack Obama. I sat there listening, but not believing my ears or my vision. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and kept blinking. This was one time when I could not truly share my joy with Dan, because he had voted for the other guy. I think he understood my elation, but he could never feel the same way, because I was a child of the sixties. I had marched and protested so that he could have the ability to vote for McCain. I never thought that I would live to see a black man elected president of the United States, but here it was and I was here! To God be the glory! I pray for our country and for this man we have elected, may God be his guide and protector.
Yes, 2008 was some year. I’m glad that I was able to see it and be a part. Now, on to 2009! Happy New Year!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Make Way for the Queen

It's taken some time but I finally finished my Hang UR Imagination doll. At first I didn't have a clue as to what I wanted it to be, but as I continued to wrap the yarn around its head the idea hit that I wanted to honor the women that I saw selling things in the markets of Abijan and Bourke, Ivory Coast, West Africa. Now the outfit she is wearing is a little dressy for the market itself, but you get the idea of the regalness of the women who reign over their stalls like queens. I really enjoyed creating her and I think I just might do another one.

It's hard to believe that she started out as a clothes hanger and a block of wood.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Day With Dolls

Youngest Dollmakers

I'm working on my imagination doll. It was so warm after the rain that the hair had to go up. I didn't have a clue about the doll, however afterwards she just started to evolve. will post her when finished.

You just have to love those long legs!

These dolls were Anne Hess designs done by Susan Ratti. I love the beaded faces.

So many dolls, too bad they weren't labeled to identify the makers.

Dolls on parade

Everybody's working and we're not even thinking about the indoor rain shower.

Creating an Imagination Doll

Neddle Knows Doll Club in the house- Debbie, Venus, Jean and Me

I had been looking forward to the doll workshop in Mt. Vernon with the 3D Doll Club’s Day with Dolls. This was going to be my first doll makers’ event and I was vibrating with excitement.
Well, for those of you who have been following my blog you know that life is full surprises. During the last week of July I found myself hospitalized again with an extremely low platelet count. A day after being admitted I had an extreme nosebleed that lasted for over 24 hours. Yes, I was frightened, but I was in the best possible place for this to happen. After receiving a dose of Retuxian, I was given 6 units of blood. All of the doctors and I agreed that I needed to have my spleen removed. The one thing I needed to know from my doctors was would I be able to be discharged on Friday, so that I could attend the workshop on Saturday. Needless to say I was happy to be out on Friday. Now, I had to hurry home to finish up my genie in the bottle doll.
Arrangements had been made and Tuesday was selected for surgery, everything went well. I’m on the mend and the ITP has been arrested.
It was great meeting up with Jean, Venus and Debbie. We hadn’t met officially in almost a year due to family commitments and illness. The Needle Knows Doll Club was in the house. I can’t remember when I had laughed so much and truly enjoyed myself as much as I did on Saturday. The host, 3D Doll club, did a wonderful job setting up everything for us. There were the magic purple bags that held all of our workshop supplies and the plentiful snack table. Three tables held the display of beautiful dolls and then there were the vendors in the auditorium. The workshops were great, but I really live to shop. Doll Makers Journey was present as were several local folks.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dreaming of Genie

Sometime ago while widow shopping at Doll Makers Journey, I ran across a cute pattern of a genie in a bottle. The doll reminded me of the TV show I Dream of Jeannie with Barbara Eden and Larry Hageman.
I must admit that I am a visual learner and there are many times when I don’t fully read the directions, but are drawn to the picture or illustration instead. So the pattern arrives and I dive in only to go, ugh! I guess at the time my brain didn’t want to comprehend the directions. Well, I buried the pattern and moved on with life.
Along comes the announcement about a doll workshop (Day with Dolls) and I decided that I wanted to do the bottle doll. To be honest the directions were pretty clear cut and easy to follow. As I was putting the doll together I found myself adding little things to improve the overall out come of the doll and was very pleased with the results. I knew that I wanted to use fleece for the hair and also to give the illusion of smoke coming from the bottle as the genie made her appearance. The official title for the doll is Yes, Master.
While working on the doll, I suddenly found myself in the grips on ITP outbreak and wound up in the hospital for a week; more about this in another blog entry. I got discharged the day before the workshop so I didn’t get to put all the finishing touches I had planned for the doll, but I realized I can always make a new one and this doll would do just fine.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Doll Club

Tonya has asked me to let folks know that a new doll club has been created in Brooklyn, NY. If you're in the neighborhood check it out. Use the link to make contact.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Little Dumplin'

I really didn’t have an interest in doing a primitive doll, but there was something about this doll and a few others from The Cat and the Fiddle,, site that just stirred my interest.
I think the doll’s hair style caught my eye first; it looked a bit like a halo. It wasn’t until I purchased the pattern that realized that the halo effect was created by braids standing on end with ribbons on the end. Then there were her feet, good heavens did the girl have feet! I decided to change Dumplin’s hair do. I used felting needles to root her hair. At first I used a nubby yarn; however, I wasn’t pleased with the out come so I changed hair material and used synthetic hair from the beauty supply store. Besides changing her hair, I also changed her dress. For the longest time I had dozens of 1930’s prints fat quarters, so I decided that I would use some of them. I think she looks cute.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Secret Keepers

These are the first items that I have made since being released from the hospital. I’ve had the pattern for this doll for some time now, but I hadn’t gotten around to putting things together until a month ago.
The pattern for the doll is Sherry Goshen’s Kereeditse, The dolls may be hung on the wall. I fell in love with the geometric fabric and created the dolls by using placing the pattern in reverse position on the fabric. The faces were created using polymer clay. I didn’t want a realistic face so the faces were covered with Jacquard’s Lumiere paint and the Jacquard powders. I used Art Glitter to enhance the fabric. The dolls’ hair was made from craft yarn.
The dolls are going to be given to two of my colleagues who were constant visitors while I was hospitalized. Besides my family and close friends, they played a pivotal role in my recovery.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What A Way to start the Year

Life has a funny way of telling you, you need to check yourself. My epiphany came in the form of a rare blood disorder called ITP. With this disorder the blood platelets which are responsible for your immune system, are being destroyed by the body; more specifically the spleen.
In hindsight, I guess I had been getting pretty run down since the summer, but I just thought I was tired and kept pushing myself, you know how that goes. Anyway, by Christmastime I was really going down. I was breathless as I walked up inclines and I found catching my breath getting difficult.
Initially, I had made an appointment with my doctor for my annual physical, but I wound up seeing his associated for what I thought was an upper repertory ailment. What lead me to this conclusion was that on New Year’s Eve afternoon, Dan and I ventured down to Union Square and the glory of Whole Foods. After wading through hoards holiday shoppers we final made it to the check out counter. Once outside I suddenly found it very difficult to catch my breath. I thought I was having anxiety attack, I knew one darn thing I wasn’t going to be in a hospital in Manhattan on New Year’s Eve!
Luckily after leaving my coat wide open and talking hard to myself, I was able to finally breathe. However, I know I frightened Dan and I was a little on the shaky side myself. I’ll tell the doctor when I see him next week.
Back to school after the holiday and I was still tired and I had a nose bleed that took forever to stop. Miss the next day of school, not worry I’m going to the doctor on Monday; hold on. Monday arrives and I can’t move without having to stop, sit and catch my breath. Called in said I was running late and finally had to call back to say I wouldn’t be in. Told the principal I had an appointment, but that what was happening to me was scaring me to death.
Given the symptoms I told Dr. Joseph and what he saw, I got a ton of medication for an upper repertory infection. I was so wiped out Dan had to help home from the pharmacy across the street. I stayed home for the rest of the week. As the week progressed I became concerned because I didn’t feel that I was getting any better. I was now having difficulty walking across the living room without having to stop and sit down to catch my breath. Now, I was being to think that this had to be all in my head and I was loosing my mind. By the time Saturday rolled around I was ready to scream, what is wrong with me. Things began to come to a head when Dan had to tell me that I could breathe and that there was no need to panic. The look on my face must have been awful, because I kept saying the phrase over and over again as he guided me to the bathroom.
Later that night while asleep I was awakened by a metallic taste in my mouth and realized that my nose was bleeding; this time it would not stop. I was torn between not being able to breathe if I got out of bed or drowning in my own blood. I needed help and Dan was asleep. Once I woke up Dan it was flying ice packs, one behind my neck and one on my forehead. I went back to bed with my head encased in ice packs.
Sunday arrived and so did a new reality, I wasn’t getting any better. Dan suggested we call Agho and I agreeded. When we made contact Dr. Agho told me he wanted me to go to Einstein Emergency. I told him I was on my way. Dan called his brother Adam and he was here in a flash. As we’re getting ready to leave for the hospital I had the crazy thought of how was I going to make in down stairs, maybe we should have called an ambulance, nah, I’ll make it. Good heavens what an ordeal! I remember clinging to Adam because I thought I was going to pass out. I remember one of the guys telling me to open my eyes, geesh I was fading and couldn’t catch myself. I saw my neighbor Ms. Rodriguez and I must have given her a real scare. I heard the guys tell her that there was cab waiting, she ran out and had the cab pull up into the driveway. Once inside the cab and sitting I was back to normal, at least normal from my standpoint.
Upon arriving at the ER things started to take on a whirlwind pace. I sat for all of six or less minutes and then everything began whirling. Blood pressure down, pulse down, but steady, oxygen levels down. Wheeled to a small triage room where I met Stephanie, my nurse. Clothes off, gown on, into bed, children faces somber dressed in black jackets, lights way too bright and vampires coming to take blood. Why dose it look almost clear? More doctors than I could count came behind the curtain to take a look. I wasn’t critical enough for the ICU, that’s good. However, I needed oxygen and then came the transfusions and saline drips. Dan and Adam said I looked like a car in a Jiffy Lub. I was told that I was bleeding internally and they needed to see where the blood was coming from and that I was going to get this tube shoved down my nose and that I was to swallow to help get it down. I understood what had to be done, but my mind was screaming that all this was crazy! Don’t let anyone tell you that this crap doesn’t hurt, because it does and all the freeze spray in the world won’t help. At one point I know that I was crying because the tube in my throat hurt, but then I looked down and saw that the guys were in tears too and that I had rosaries wrapped around both hands; then things got real serious.
Thank goodness the tube did not have to stay in long. They realized that the bleeding had come from my nose as a post drip. Out foul tube! Next came the EKG and a host of other stuff. After awhile it all became a blur, I guess some of the stuff they were pumping into me made me a little woozy. In total it was a twelve hour ordeal, then up to 9 South and room 948.
After getting set up in my room, I told the guys that I bet the first voice I was going to hear in the morning would be that of Dr. Agho.
I spent the night hooked up with IVs running and my blood pressure being monitored all night. Matilda and Little Matilda beeped all night long. As I dozed off and on nurses kept checking on me and at one point someone asked how many transfusions had I had and I told them I stopped counting after three.
I was right about Dr. Agho; he arrived at about 4:30 a.m. It is very interesting having a conversation with your doctor in the dark; it’s sort of like going to confession. He told me that I was a very strong woman because I was teetering on the edge. I told him I guess it must be in my genes. He also stated that I was going to be in the hospital for some time and that there were lots of test that needed to be done to determine what was causing the platelet count to be so low.
Two days later I was switched to a private room across the hall. I felt very overwhelmed by this whole ordeal and later that evening went on a crying jag, which was a little out of character for me. The next day when I was asked by Dr. Little about how I was feeling and I explained my out burst; she explained that I was being affected by the medication. I had become Steroid Susie.
After another week and a half it was finally confirmed that I was suffering from ITP, immune thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood platelet disorder. With all the other possible diseases that had been toss about, I was greatly relived that it was ITP, which is treatable.
During the following weeks in the hospital my platelet count kept rising and falling, it was driving all of us crazy. At one point I was given Retuxian, a chemo drug. This was a five hour drip and required that I be monitored by an oncology nurse. Thank goodness I didn’t have a reaction to the medication and things went off without a hitch.
From the outset of my hospital stay, the doctors stated that they wanted to do a bone marrow study. Of all the test that I had to gone through, this was the one that I feared the most. The thought of a needle going into my back bone just scared me to death. Dr. Aporo did the procedure and explained everything along the way. At one point as he was checking the test tubes containing the specimens, I told the doctor to make sure he had my name on the tubes because I was not going through this test again. He assured me that everything was in order.
Finally, after three and half weeks Dr. Agho gave me clearance to go home. Hurray!!! During my stay at Einstein I receive the best care possible. I just had one request, that being that I could erase my name off of the Patient Board facing the Nurses’ station.