catching up

I have had a “bad” few days full of headaches and fatigue. Looking at it, I suppose it is inevitable after a weekend full of (for me) strenuous physical activity, followed by a rather grueling set of medical procedures on my return home (all is well, so no worries there). In a way, the more generally well I get, the worse I become at dealing with these awful, crashing lows in which my brain and body just decide to stop working. I just want to get on with things! It made it all the harder that, on Friday, I was supposed to be attending an event in which I was really interested. . . it is so bloody frustrating! Still, even if I should perhaps, as the physios and OTs say, have “paced myself” better while we were away, I would not have missed my Hebridean swimming and cycling for the world. Personally, I would rather push myself to do the exhilarating things I really enjoy – the annoyance of a subsequently ‘lost’ five days is probably better than regret about a lost opportunity. It is important to say this here, 28 months into my recovery, so I can come back and remind myself of it later.

In the meantime, we have not, like much of the rest of the country, been celebrating our constitutional serfdom, but Tom did take part in the Perth kilt run – coming in at an impressive 12th place! If you’d like to see him, he zips by looking very serious at 1 minute 50 seconds into this video of the event.

Also, yesterday, my knitting comrades helped me to begin to put my kits together for Woolfest.

This is very exciting. I’ll be launching two new designs at Woolfest and will be able to tell you more about them very soon.

And the fabulous image at the top of this post is a silk scarf depicting an A to Z of rare sheep breeds. It was designed by US illustrator Caleb Luke Lin – I love his work!

42 thoughts on “catching up

  1. I agree much better to blow a gasket and have actually done something stimulating rather than pottering along at a steady pace as an everlasting tribute to ” I have had a stroke”

    I think you should store up simple dull tasks ready for the bad days so when a block of them come along you think thank goodness I can get some of that stuff done now.

    Clearly you arent going to get away with nothing but best days any more than you did before the stroke. Your norms have changed, but thats all. The good bit is on good days you dont have to do dull things as they are for the down ones.

    1. I love the sheep blanket? is it? I am curious if it is a painting, or something you knitted? And as to recovery from anything that your body and/or mind struggles with, remember that to hurry through and push, push, push yourself denies you of the opportunity to learn to struggle well vs escape struggling. This I know too well.
      Paula Hurley

  2. I really appreciate your blog even if I mostly have nothing to say :) I am going to tackle that steek thing this week come what may!!! It took me a good long time to really feel normal after what was a very minor stroke (4 years now) so don’t be too hard on yourself and I do agree that sometimes the event is just worth the aftermath that you hope against hope won’t happen this time! Life is for living – as much as possible.

    viv in nz

  3. Totally love the scarf, has a very “50’s” feel to the artwork and colour scheme. Although it was arthritis my Mother would go out and enjoy the heck out of something and then spend 2 weeks paying for it. She considered it worth it. Live your life.

  4. You accomplish more in your limited “good” days than many accomplish who have a lifetime of good health, but no spirit to move them. That is the mark of someone truly remarkable. Something to think about on the bad days. And hoping for you that there are more good days than bad in the future.

  5. Quite right to have a blow out on some fun instead of ekeing out your energy on the mundane. Although I know it would be wonderful to have energy enough to go round!
    Exciting woolliness!

  6. I’m very excited to be going to my first Woolfest this year! Hopefully the potential of new patterns to buy will encourage me to get round to steeking my Rams and Yowes.

    I agree it’s better to do things than regret not doing them. At least in your low days you will have the memories of happy days and be able to plan more fun in future.

  7. Seems to me that you are still making so much progress in your recovery, that these “bad” times are just a sign that you’ve stretched yourself once again…….and are getting stronger all the time.

    Woolfest – how exciting for you. Love the Kate Davies Designs bag – great presentation.

    Ahem, that’s my Queen you’re talking about! Long Live the Queen!

    (It’s wonderful that 60 years in “the firm” is being recognized in this way – after all, it’s a job…..a job that she’s done extremely well – representing the UK – promoting the UK – selling the UK to the world……..I’d expect a knees up in recognition of 60 years in my job too!

    Sorry – just my 2 cents worth as a Canadian born from Scottish parents.)

    1. Hi Anne –

      As an American who has moved to Canada (in fact, near you in Hamilton), I am curious about what I call the Canadian “Queen Hangover” although I do appreciate “brand” loyalty.

  8. Well, it’s good to see you back. Some of us just need to calculate in the down time, and if it does anything, it’s mostly for expectation. (for me, varying degrees of a bipolor condition , for you stroke related fatigue. Manic-depression … or stroke… can swallow a person. Has taken me all of my adult life to even occur to me, and now it’s about a lot of compassion for myself and pacing myself).
    Hey !!! And there’s Number 598 in a hand-knitted running jersey… which is just so obviously that’s his good-luck charm ! I love the kilt run, fantastic.
    I just love your kits ! I see yarn for Rams&Yowes, and a super nifty knitting bag to go with. Too exquisite ! Your work is getting more and more professional and all around marketable. Kate, you really ‘got it goin’ on’ :)

  9. My – some of those kilts are a wee bit long. Reminds me of the guy in Monarch of the Glen – he was always running somewhere. Well done, Tom.

    I can’t wait to see your knitting kits – roll on Woolfest.

  10. You inspire me, Kate :) Take care!

    I agree….I’m only afflicted by my maternal grandparents’ DNA….genetically wired to be worn out easily (as are my siblings), susceptible to germs & seasonal/mold & dust allergies….but I agree with you….I knit until my wrists hurt/feel tingly….then, I stop…moving along to reading and sewing (by machine)…all the while carrying a knitting project in my enormous purse, trying a stitch here and there until I can fully immerse myself in knitting again….

    Woolfest – Oh….how I wish I can be there….one day… :) Enjoy!!

  11. feel better soon Kate-I agree about doing the things you want to do even if you “pay” later
    I adore the scarve too!

  12. Oh my, new designs?! Please do tell us more!
    Lovely scarf, great kits and friends, congratulations to the 12nd and keep enjoying the things you like.

  13. Love your new bag – it looks wonderful, and although I don’t need another bag, I surely want one for my “Kate Davies” projects. Pacing yourself is hard, I know. I suffer from intractable migraines, and when I am having a good day, my brain is wired to be the self I was before the migraines took over my life, and my body could no longer just push through in spite of the pain. I plan too much, do too much, and then wonder why I have another bad migraine and am laid up for 5 days! Pacing is not my style, and I expect not yours either from the prolific amount of work you do post-stroke, I can only imagine what you were like pre-stoke. You will get it sorted out, are doing wonderfully 28 months out, and are young, so your body is strong and will figure this out with your brain. Congrats to Tom on 12th place, a great accomplishment – I see in runs in the family. I cannot believe it is Woolfest time again. Hope you will be tweeting about this, and when I finally make my longed for visit to your part of the world, Woolfest will be factored into my itinerary. Have fun!

    1. I have the same problem – migraines/cluster headaches make me pay for pushing things :-(. Lately I’ve been taking big doses of magnesium, which has made a _huge_ difference to both the frequency and severity of headaches.

      Good luck!

  14. I just want to let you know how much I appreciate you sharing your stroke and recovery experiences. As a physiotherapist, you have shown me a totally different pepective from what I usually get, mostly over a longer time period, and have made me aware of issues such as post-stroke fatigue. You also demonstrate how important it is to have goals, and to find the silver lining in one’s struggles. Please continue to share your highs and lows-it is important to educate all of us and help us be more understanding of how it feels to be in your shoes.

  15. Greetings! and welcome back! I know ‘pay back’s’ a bitch but keep GOING! Fatigue, ugh, like walking thru ‘thick’ water but better to have gone north than not at all!
    Constitutional serfdom………perfect!!
    Will your bags be for sale by themselves at some point? Would love to have one and the scarf is great.
    #598…….woohoo……..great and aye, SO serious. Congrats to him. Great race. Will toast him (and you) with an Alba…….a Scots Pine ale that I order by the case……….can’t help myself :)
    Your honesty is refreshing. thank you

  16. I think you’re completely right, you have to do the wonderful things and push yourself because otherwise what on earth would life be like? Very, very boring (and you’d probably still have the bad times). Anyway, as another constitutional serf – relatively little union-flag waving here in Wales, phew, only three applications for street parties in the whole of our large county – what better weekend to be poleaxed?

    Wish I was coming to Woolfest!

  17. Hello Katie,

    immensely enjoying your blog, a daily inspiration, joy and pleasure! So, being a born again lover of all things sheepish (!) – today’s picture of sheep – is this a tea towel and in that case, could you tell me where to buy one similar, if possible?

    Thanks, Eli Wongraven, Oslo, Norway

  18. Mixed feelings here in Canada re the monarchy. Our Conservative government is strong on it, bringing back the “Royal” in the airforce and requiring all embassies to post the Queen’s portrait, but it’s probably only doing so because it has written off votes from Quebec. So much like Scotland here, with the same concerns about separation and desires for independence. Glad you’re feeling better.

  19. Lovely scarf – made me smile! What a lot of fun and inspiration you give, Kate, you encourage everyone to push for life. X

  20. Nice colours Tom – smart red shoes! As well, perhaps one can still pace oneself while still enjoying the ‘high’s’.

  21. I am too far away for Woolfest (if only I could swim the ocean!) but I’m thrilled you’ll be participating. I’m also glad you’re feeling better. Energy in spurts can be frustrating, so I hope telling us about it eases that frustration.

    And of course, serfdom/monarchy is all a question of perspective. I’m rather enjoying watching London’s summery moment – but we yanks earned our freedom, eh? :) I’ve no doubt that if I were on that side of the pond, I would stand with the Scots.

  22. You know, I find it quite interesting that you’ve couched it in such terms — better the lost five days due to all the effort it (doing x or y or z) took, than the regret over not doing it at all … I have found, for my own self, here in my new life post-brain tumor, that the five lost days (and often, for me too, it takes that long for me to recover) are so not worth it! For me. Or for my children, for that matter. Because then I cannot do anything for those days; we all suffer whilst I lay still and recover from the extreme output of energy it took to do xyz. It’s been such a tremendous challenge, this new life; I’ve mourned for all that I can no longer do … And yet I wonder about the toll such efforts and recoveries might well be taking on my new brain … My goal and intent is to live as fully as possible, mindful of all my new challenges and limitations, refusing to waste a moment … There is still such joy! So many good and marvelous activities and experiences! Life is ever so different, but still such a blessing … Anyway. You’ve made me think, and thank you for letting me ramble here!

  23. Reading the comments, I have to add my 2 cents. The lost time for me is something I have to weigh against the activity. When my girls were young. All my energy went to taking care of them. Now that they are all thru college I have the luxury of taking the down time. It took me years to accept that my stroke had taken a permanent toll on my abilities. I thought that with hard work I could recover completely but that is not to be. Now I enjoy the ‘new’ unimproved me the best I can. Thank you for sharing.

  24. I admire your courage, I love the strange sheep and would just like to add that even those of us who havent had strokes have bad days where get nothing done and can do no more than potter around the house…

  25. Reading this blog is one of the most inspirational things in my life. I’m a transplanted Scot here in Vancouver Canada. I recognize so many great Scottish traits in you Kate, stoicism, self deprecating humour, steadfastness,feirce intelligence and a free spirit. thank you

  26. Love the video of Tom and others in the kilts, and the silk scarf, your “goody bag kits look lovely also Kate.

  27. Hi Kate, I admire your attitude and your honesty immensely too. Maybe because that is how I tend to live although as I get old(er) I find I am less willing to spend the energy all on one thing, so I am getting better at pacing. Last year I had a solo exhibition (textile art rather than knitting) and preparing for that non-stop for many months really has taken it out of me and I am still not what I was before. I doubt I ever will be, but I figure it is just another stage on the journey of living with a chronic pain condition, on second thoughts make that several conditions, since Arfur Ritis came to join the crew. Like all of you other sufferers though I simply can’t bear the thought of not being able to embroider, construct, sew, knit etc, so come what may we will all keep going.

    BTW Anne, what kind of magnesium are you taking? eg, chelated or something else? My poor husband gets cluster migraines and although Imigran (sumotriptan) works brilliantly for him if there is something that might lessen the frequency/severity it would be worth trying at least.

    And Kate, best of luck at the Woolfest. Wish I could come too.

    1. I’m in Australia, so I have access to different brands of vitamins. I buy chelated magnesium, and take the dose listed on the label for migraines, which is three times the standard dose. I found this by googling magnesium and migraine (it is the same dose for migraines and cluster headaches).

      As a part of my condition, my sinuses also ache (they have been scanned several times looking for irregularities – apparently I have the cleanest sinuses my GP has ever seen!); for that, I also take an antihistamine nasal spray and Cetirizine, an antihistamine tablet – which handily also helps reduce hot flushes! A daily zinc supplement, Vitamin B, Vitamin D (I might live in Australia, but where I live it is common to have a D deficiency), fish oil and CoQ10 rounds out the stuff I take for headaches, anti-ageing and menopause. If I stop the antihistamines or the magnesium I feel lousy again within a couple of days.

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)