Wednesday 10 July 2024

Still here....

Yikes.  Over 6 weeks since my last post, during which A LOT has happened.

Not all of it good.

Having two warring autoimmune conditions, constantly at each other's throats, is wearing to say the least.  Caught in the middle there is little I can do except try to placate both factions.

Earlier this year, following extensive investigations, my Colitis diagnosis was changed to Small Bowel Chron's Disease.  Same shit (literally), different disease.  Over the past 10 years, the MIS-diagnosis meant that I've been on medications which have failed to have any discernible impact on the condition.  I've said no end of times that they've made no difference, and have just got on with trying to manage a disease which has made my life a complete misery. 

Despite several emergency hospital admissions over the years, during which I've been patched up then sent home, with promises of further investigations, nothing proactive in the way of a long term treatment plan has happened.  

In desperation, late last year I got my MS nurse involved, to poke my IBD team, who I felt, with some justification, were, quite frankly, pants.  Within a few weeks I had appointments for yet another colonoscopy, small bowel MRI and no end of blood tests, the end result of which showed I had Ileitis and SB Crohn's. 

Since then, things have moved only slightly less glacially, until in a fit of pique, I read the riot act.  Further  recent blood tests showed my inflammatory markers were through the roof and finally, FINALLY, after 10 years, I now have a proper treatment plan.

While that is most definitely A. Good. Thing, I'm moving into uncharted territory, as I have been approved to start on a biologic called Vedolizumab.  Due to my MS, I can't have any of the front line biologics, which can have a disastrous effect on MS by accelerating demyelination.  Obviously, they can't treat one disease, only to make the other one worse.  I'm doing lots of research, and due diligence, and Vedo is one of the few biologics which are suitable for patients with MS.  It's not without its challenges, and side effects, but it has the major advantage of being gut-specific, so although it will act as an immunosuppressant in my gut, I shouldn't fall prey to the risks of infection from a systemic treatment, which affects the whole body.

Pending more tests, I should be able to have my first of three loading doses by IV infusion in the next month.  I'll have to spend several hours in hospital for each one, to check I don't have any adverse reactions.  After the loading doses, I'll self-inject every two weeks as maintenance.  Fingers crossed it works.

Tuesday 28 May 2024

The die is cast....

Having perused eleventy hundred laptops, I finally came to a decision and ordered one which will hopefully fit the bill.  It arrived the other day but it took several more before I plucked up the courage to open the box and actually switch the thing on.

So far, so trepidatious.

It's running Windows 11 which I already know I don't like.  I might try to push on through my antipathy, or I might see if I can install Classic Shell over the top of the messy thing.
The touchpad is way too sensitive.... the slightest touch sends the cursor batshit crazy all over the place, so I need to sort that.
It's also running Edge, which I loathe even more than Windows 11, so I've already set Google Chrome as my default browser, plus I've installed my email program of choice and after a few false starts managed to get all my email accounts coming in.  Other than that I haven't actually installed any programs yet, or attempted to introduce it to my belligerent printer, which is unlikely to go well.

I'm writing this on my old laptop, which predictably, having got wind of the usurper, is sort of behaving itself, although the trackpad is dead and it takes many minutes to persuade it to open anything.  It'll take a while to transfer stuff I want or need onto the new one, so there will be a strange interregnum period as that gradually happens.

Now I just need to work out how to get the printer to put aside its many prejudices and contemplate changing its precarious allegiance to the new laptop.


Thursday 23 May 2024

Say what now...?

If my levels of bamboozlement were sky high with the mysteries of dressmaking, they're positively stratospheric with researching a replacement laptop.

My basic needs are relatively simple.  A decent processor, loads of RAM and a large amount of storage.

Then there's the things I'd like but aren't absolutely essential.  For example a keyboard with a separate numeric keypad.  A non-glare screen.  Touch-typist friendly keys.

Then there's things I'd like which have been rendered obsolete by the passage of time since I bought my current, ailing laptop.

A CD/DVD drive.  Apparently they've long gone the way of the floppy disk.  A memory card reader.  Surely these aren't completely passé too?  I can compensate for the lack of both of these by adding peripherals, but they used to be standard.

Then there's the thorny issue of a new operating system.  I so dislike app based systems and much prefer a classic look.  I can fix that too but sheesh.

Finally, there's the fact that many of my most loved programs probably won't work on a newer machine, being obsolete themselves.  Not really any workarounds for those... it's like saying goodbye to old friends.

In the interregnum between the young pretender taking over fully, and the old master being laid to rest, the two will have to form an uneasy alliance while I painstakingly transfer files, set up new accounts etc.  Having gone through this process before I know just how fraught and frustrating it can be.  And don't even get me started on the printer, which is a belligerent old bugger, and despite it's apparent loathing for the old laptop, I know it will fight tooth and inkjet cartridge to avoid transferring its allegiance to the new. 

Buckle up buttercups, it's going to be a bumpy ride...

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Is it that time already....?

 Yikes.... it's been almost 2 months since my last post and I have literally NO IDEA where the time has gone.

Here's a rough timeline of the past 8 weeks:

Sewing, pressing, sewing.

Packing, more packing

Lovely holiday

Home... stress, worry, more stress

Bedlam, bedlam, bedlam

More bedlam

Battle to the death with DWP and HMRC

Laptop on its last legs...

So that's you more or less up to date.  

Apart from my ongoing feud with officialdom, my latest challenge is down to my admittedly very elderly laptop, which has been limping along for months now.  Yesterday the trackpad stopped working completely, and although I'm using an emergency mouse, everything's all messed up and it's a nightmare to use.  So I'm going to have to bite the bullet and spring for a new laptop, which is a whole other world of pain and frustration.

Now that I'm no longer running a business, I don't need anything flashy or highly specced.  The days of my creating video content and doing online tutorials etc are thankfully over.  But there are approaching eleventy hundred different models which fit my brief and whittling them down is proving a nightmare of epic proportions.  Even those online laptop guides, or sites with a 'helpful' wizard to identify the right laptop just aren't giving me consistent results.  I only hope that by the time I've decided and made a purchase my old laptop is still just about useable so I can transfer stuff over.  

In the meantime....

Thursday 21 March 2024

Cutting it fine....Part 8


The damned trousers are finally finished, apart from needing to be pressed again to within an inch of their lives, which is a task for another day.  I've finally hemmed them and will wait to try to them on till I've recovered from all the stress.

Yesterday at my sewing class I tackled grading the pattern for the top.  Or to be more precise, ONE of the several patterns for tops which I've accumulated over the past month.  They all bring something different to the party, and if I had the skill and the confidence I'd hack elements of them together in a Frankenpattern styley but I'm already losing the will to live so I've chosen just one of them.

Inevitably, just by using my tape measure, I could tell that the pattern, as it was, wasn't going to fit.  It was too big on the bust and too small on the hips, so I had to alter the darts then grade it from below the darts to the hemline.  

I made a new pattern, with the adjustments, and this morning I cut a toile from a remnant of the old dust sheet.  It didn't take long, just the darts, shoulders and side seams, and I was able to try it on.

Scene:  Sandra appears in the study, wearing the paint-spattered toile top, to ask for PP's opinion.

Me: *explaining* So obviously the neckline and armhole facings aren't there to provide structure, but I think the length's not too bad.  What do you think?

PP:*thoughtfully*  Hmmmmm.   Turn round.  It's a bit short at the back, and the neckline is too big.  It also highlights your humph.

Me:*eyes narrowed* My HUMPH?!

PP:*obliviously* Yes, your humpy bit.  Below your neck and across your shoulders.

Me:*with great restraint* Hmm. But APART from accentuating my humph,  and ALL the other shortcomings, how does it look?

PP:*makes a great show of standing up to have a closer look and having me turn round several times*  It shows your bra.

Me:*witheringly* But I won't be wearing this saggy old sports bra will I?

PP: *definitively* Well, I think you should add a half inch to the inside of the neckline and it would sit better.  It needs to be longer at the back too.

Me:*crestfallen* Buggrit.  I'll need to adjust the neckline facings too then, and they look quite complicated.....

PP has already sat down so Sandra walks disconsolately into the dining room to remove the toile and attempt to adjust the pattern again.

Me:*muttering* Bloody cheek.  Highlights my humph does it?  Who does she think I am.... Quasimodo?!  *mutter mutter mutter*

After much muttering, measuring, sighing, tracing and cutting, a new paper pattern emerges, along with new combined neck/armhole facings.

As for the back length issue, I'm minded to make the back piece one 'fabric tile' longer than the front and add side slits.  I might also add some plain bias binding on the slits, in one of the colours from the fabric, to make them a feature rather than an afterthought. 

However, the all in one neck and armhole facings are a whole new level of bamboozlement, as attaching them to the top involves twisting bits the wrong way round and inside out then funneling them the right way out through the tubes which have been created..... nah... me neither.

The online tutorial for the top includes a helpful video for the facings, which are described as 'tricky'.  I've watched it eleventy times and at points I'm almost convinced I get it, then boom.... no idea.

Anyway, I'm waiting for some interfacing to arrive, so I'm  not even going to attempt laying out the fabric yet as I have to centre it on a fold, front and back, and try to have a complete 'tile' at the shoulders and hem.

Remind me again.... who's idea was it to take up dressmaking and make a holiday wardrobe?

Saturday 16 March 2024

Cutting it fine..... Part 7

I expect you've all been on tenterhooks with regard to my trousers and I have been remiss in not providing an update.


The narrower elastic duly arrived last week, and I set about finishing the waistband.  The instructions said to thread the two rows of elastic through the channels AT THE SAME TIME.  If I hadn't read carefully I'd have blithely threaded them one at a time, which is surely what any sane person would do?

Apparently not, and I now know why.  Threading the second row would have been nigh on impossible with all the bunched up fabric from the first.  Although I have to say, threading through two at the same time was nigh on impossible too, as I kept inadvertently letting go of one of the safety pins inside one channel, while trying to level up the other.  The whole exercise took well over an hour, with eleventy separate violations for unladylike language and various threats to throw the whole bally lot out the window.

When the final safety pin emerged through the gap in the end of the channels I was so exhausted and bedraggled that al I could manage was a feeble 'whoop', rapidly followed by a  'Thank *expletive deleted* THAT's over!'

I still haven't worked up the enthusiasm to do the hems yet, but I did take the almost completed trousers to the dressmaking session on Wednesday, to finish hand-sewing the ends of the elastic together and closing the gaps in the channels.  I tentatively held them up to show the tutor and I think she was genuinely impressed.  Either that or she's a very good actress.  The other class members made similarly encouraging noises, possibly to make up for their lack of support during the whole 'toile disaster'.  So I was suitably mollified.

That just leaves my top, and with the clock ticking, and mindful of how long it's taken me to almost finish the trousers, I need to get cracking.

I have three different patterns for three different tops.  One is a square-necked,  boxy top, one is a round-necked, slightly fitted top, and the other is a round-necked, swing top.  The swing top is the easiest, but it has to be made in a 4-way stretch knit jersey fabric, and the material I already have is non-stretch woven, although it is very soft and drapey.   I've looked for a 4-way stretch knit jersey fabric and because they're mostly for gymwear, and children's pyjamas, the colours/patterns are garish.  I don't think neon space dinosaurs is quite the look I'm aiming for. 

The problem with the round-necked, slightly fitted top (apart from it having NINE pattern pieces)  is that according to the pattern, if I choose the size which fits me round the hips, the bustline will be so big it will be slipping off my shoulders.  Of course I now know that standard patterns have to be graded, and that my wonderful tutor will help me adjust it to fit.  However, the square-necked, boxy top is within a gnat's whisker of fitting me without major alterations, so I might just go with that.  Except square necklines are notoriously difficult to get the corners nice and crisp.  Plus it's got an all-in-one facing which is made up using the burrito method.  I've watched the video tutorial and my bamboozlement levels were stratospheric!

The lovely fabric I bought for the top was an end of roll sale remnant, so I can't get any more of it if I make a pig's ear of the whole thing, so I'm on the horns of a dilemma. 

Which one should I go for..... if any!  Answers on a postcard please.

Or should I just cut my losses and get one of these....

Friday 15 March 2024

Holiday planning..... Part 1

I'm having the whole weekend off from the ongoing holiday wardrobe debacle and am turning my attention to our forthcoming holiday.  It's still a ways off but I do like to be prepared. 

My focus this weekend is swimwear, my least favourite holiday wardrobe item.  If I thought I could get away with it I'd go burkini or full body wetsuit, but the prospect of looking like a beached seal has put me off.

So I'm thinking maybe full-on retro 1950s swimsuit with built in buttressing.

I've also started to plan my extensive preparative deforestation and exfoliation programme, which will take some time, hampered by the fact I can't get to all the bits which need attention.  No idea why it isn't possible to go to a human jet wash service, where all the hair and dead skin is blasted off in one session, leaving skin fresh and smooth.

Then there's the matter of my winter-grey pallor.  Do I opt for a lick of colour from a light touch moisturiser with a hint of a tan, or go full on batshit crazy with a fake tan?  Self applied obviously.   

As a teenager in the 1970s, living in Scotland, I dallied with fake tan creams and lotions, because.... Scotland.  Aside from the legendary long, hot summer of 1976, you could usually only rely on maybe 3 or 4 days of sunshine in which to attempt a tan.  Of course every Scot would abandon all non-essential clothing and lay out in it, getting burnt to a crisp in the process.  Being Scottish, a few days later everyone looked like snakes shedding skin left, and centre.  If you were lucky, your crimson hue would mitigate into an approximation of a tan which would then wash off in the coming weeks of grey skies and rain.  Skin cancer wasn't even a thing back then.

These days, due to my MS, I avoid the sun, preferring to lounge in the shade so I rarely manage a tan.  However, winter grey skin is very unappealing, when compared to a glowing sun-kissed look, so I will have to resort to artificial means in order to avoid the gothic vampire vibe.  Thankfully, according to my research today, fake tan lotions and potions have come on in leaps and bounds since the 70s.   I might give a 'hint of a tint' moisturiser a go, rather than a fake tan product.  Last thing I want to do is end up looking Trumpian! 

Finally, there's the thorny issue of 'shapewear.  As in, should I or shouldn't I?  Over the years I've dallied with shapewear in all its guises.  I've even blogged about it.  I did a quick search just now and was dismayed to discover I've written about it a total of six times.


If you're interested, and have half an hour to spare, you can read all of them HERE  

Think of them as The Shapewear Chronicles.  I can't guarantee you'll learn anything from my extensive research but it might make you think twice before entering the arena.   Anyway, I was listening to Women's Hour on the radio in the car earlier, and there was a piece about a new craze in shapewear.

Wait for it.....

Big bum knickers!!!

Honestly.  Knickers that make your Bum. Look. Bigger.  

Big bums are in fashion.  Who knew?  Obviously, when I got home, I Googled it and they are, indeed, A Thing.

But it doesn't stop there.... no by no nonny no. As if having a gargantuan bum isn't enough, you can also have 'enhanced' saddlebag thighs!

Back in the day I believe these were called 'fat suits' and being swathed in pounds of padding doesn't sound like the most comfortable form of underwear but what do I know?  

The current craze for a Brazilian Butt Lift obviously has a lot to answer for but it's gratifying to know that I don't need surgery or padded knickers to achieve 'The Look!'