Category Archives: Mind

Sewing: A Tale of Two Lifetimes

I have talked many times about how I used to sew so many different things from clothes for my children and myself to shirts for my husband. I sewed Halloween costumes, made curtains, and stuffed animals and dolls.

After becoming ill, I began having issues with visual and sensory over-stimulation due to the mold exposure. I could not look at a pattern piece with its shape andthen place it on a patterned piece of fabric and decide how best to lay it out without having anxiety attacks that led to tears. I gave up sewing because I just could not manage it. What used to be a calming thing to do became a nightmare of gigantic proportion.

Scottish Doll

Scottish Doll

This doll (made nearly 20 years ago) was  for a friend who wanted a Scottish doll. I took a Raggedy Andy pattern and began designing. I took the shirt that closed in the back and made it open in the front with color and buttons. I used the same pattern and designed the jacket first out of muslin and then out of tweed fabric. I bought red gingham fabric and fashioned the legs to give the appearance of socks. I practiced again on muslin to fashion a kilt that would fit the doll and then using the precious piece of his clan’s fabric made the kilt.  The hat was fashioned out of felt and I used orange yarn to make his hair and beard. My father using his upholstery machine and know-how made the bag.

Back of Doll.

Back of Doll.

It wasn’t until my first granddaughter Sadie was born eight years ago that I attempted to sew again. I wanted to make her a dress. I was going to be a grandma that could make things for her. My first attempt was a simple pattern with bloomers.

First Dress

First Dress

Then I wanted to make her first birthday dress which was a huge undertaking. It was made of coordinating polka dots (blue with white and white with blue). It also had many details. I was determined that this grandma was going to figure out a way to sew again.

Birthday Dress

Birthday Dress

An American Girl Witch

An American Girl Witch

This same granddaughter asked if I would make a Halloween costume for her American Girl Doll Sage last month. She wanted either a witch or pirate costume. Looking online for doll patterns that would work for American Girl Dolls, I found several. Much to my chagrin they were $17.99 on sale for about $8.99. Still too much for a doll pattern. Armed with my muslin I began trying to create a simple dress and cape. After several attempts, this was the end product. I presented it to my granddaughters (because sister needed one for her doll as well). She loved it. Of course she asked where the hat was and I told her that grandma just couldn’t figure it out. Had this been a request of me ten or eleven years ago, I would have just sat and worked at it until I had a hat.

While my sewing now resembles two different lifetimes, I am so thankful that I have recovered enough to be able to sew again.

And isn’t this the season for thanksgiving? I am so thankful for the things I have managed to get back into my life. I am thankful for my family and the friends who stood by me. I am thankful for my wonderful doctors.  I am also thankful for those who I have met and the lessons I have learned because of this illness. I am thankful for all you who follow along with me on my journey and those who have purchased my book to learn more of my journey.

Blessing to you all!


My Sense of Direction and Landmarks

Once my husband has been somewhere, he can tell you how to get there using street names.  He can tell you which highway to merge on and whether the highway you want is 580 West or East.  He knows which highway he is on and which connecting highway he needs to take.  He pays attention when he is the passenger in a vehicle and stores in his memory the route.

I, on the other hand, rely heavily on landmarks to get me to the same place I have visited before.  I can’t tell you whether I need to take 580 West or East. I do not pay attention when I am in the passenger seat.  I just enjoy the ride.  You may remember my blog post entitled, “The Never Ending Drive”. Of course brain fog and short term memory loss add more confusion to my sense of direction.

My sister and I once flew out-of-state to surprise my parents at a family reunion.  We used landmarks to get us around to all of the old places we used to venture to when we would go there as children on vacation.  We knew we were close to our uncle’s house because we had just passed the brick school.  We spent a great deal of time driving around and around in this very small town trying to find the Dairy Queen we visited every summer.  The landmarks we used to get us there were right but we could not find the Dairy Queen.  Finally we asked and were told that it had been torn down.

About the time of our trip my mom gave me a copy of her Modern Maturity magazine to read.  As I scanned through the articles, one in particular stood out. The article was entitled Turn left at the dog.  I shared it with my sister and we had a good laugh.  I carried a copy of that article folded up neatly in my purse for a long time finally having to toss it like everything else I gave up.  A month ago I was mentioning the article to my sister and how I would love to read it again.  To my surprise, she had her copy.  Today she scanned it and emailed it to me.  I am sharing Turn left at the dog with all of you who have a strange or bizarre sense of direction.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Catch-Up Mondays: The never ending drive – revisited

I originally shared this blog post on April 7, 2013.  I still cringe at the thought of making this journey by myself.   When my girls were young, one of their favorite movies was “The Neverending Story”.   I experienced the never-ending drive.  This story was originally in my book but didn’t really feel like it belonged where I had it and never really added enough to the story so I deleted it from the manuscript but saved it.  It is another funny story similar to the one titled “Can I help you Ladies?”.   This story starts out with me and my daughter Laura (the same one in the story above).  I chose the Never-Ending Drive as the title for this post and you will understand once you get into it. A few days before the students were to arrive at school, my younger daughter Laura was scheduled to leave for college in San Francisco. My husband was not able to take time off from work so I took the day off to drive her. The night before we were to leave I helped her load the car and trunk as full as we could.  My husband and I would drive up again over the weekend and deliver what was left behind.  I prepared myself by printing directions to her dorm.  I had made the trip before with others but had never driven there myself.  I was going to rely on my daughter to help me with the directions.  I had not been feeling well and was extremely fatigued  I drove to my daughter’s house to pick her up early in the morning.  She was very tired.  I am sure that she had not slept much in anticipation of the move.  We drove through a fast food restaurant to get her some food and coffee.  She was not feeling well and soon fell asleep.  Occasionally I would wake her to see if we were going in the right direction.  She did not know. My plans were to take her to school and hang around until about 7:00 p.m. so that I would not have the heavy traffic to compete with on my drive home alone.  We arrived at the campus and carted all her belongings up to her dorm room on the second floor.  Exhausted, we both tried to set up her computer.  To our dismay, we could not get a connection.  After making a few phone calls, we learned that she needed to take her computer downstairs to an office to have a special component put in it and she needed a certain cord to hook it up to the school’s line. Laura wasn’t feeling well and wanted to sleep.  She had injured her back earlier and could not carry the computer.  So, I picked up the tower and made the trip to get it fixed while she slept.  I was told to pick up the tower in a couple of hours.  By the time I got the computer fixed and back to her dorm it was nearly 6 p.m.  I woke her up and visited with her for an hour and then decided to make the drive home. The goodbyes were hard for both of us.  She was now in San Francisco with no car and not really knowing how to get around town.  She was worried that she would not be able to find her way around.  I was upset because I was leaving my baby in a strange city and would be a two and a half hour drive from her if anything should happen. Reluctantly, I got in my car and drove off, both of us in tears.  I reversed my route and headed for home.  Things were going well.  I had been nervous about driving home by myself in the evening especially because I was not that familiar with the area. The sun began to set and brought with it unexpected challenges.  The glare made it difficult to read the road signs and the traffic was worse than I thought it would be at this time of the day.  I was supposed to take a certain highway number towards home, but there were two of them.  One said east and one said west.  I was confused and there was not much time to make a decision because the traffic was bumper to bumper.  I chose the one that had Oakland written on it. That turned out to be the wrong decision.  After a few miles I began to realize that nothing looked familiar.  It was dark by now and I was not about to get off the highway to ask directions.  I was in an area that was not familiar to me and there were not any major gas stations or restaurants that I could spot from the road. I continued to drive.  The next thing I knew I was crossing a bridge that I knew for sure I had not crossed on my way in.  It was a toll bridge and under construction.  Hesitantly, I paid the toll and crossed the bridge.  I was hoping that I could find some road sign that would give me a clue where I was or where to turn.  My fatigue and exhaustion had become almost overpowering.  I wanted to cry but controlled myself.  I had to get home.  I thought about calling my husband and asking for help but how could he help me if I could not tell him where I was. There was still some time before I was expected to be home so I decided to wait until I could offer some explanation of where I was.  I drove and drove.  Finally, I saw a sign that read Sacramento.  Hooray!  If I could get to Sacramento, I could find Hwy 99 and make my way home. Another hour passed and I was in Sacramento and had found my way home.  I needed to phone home but did not want to admit that I was so horribly lost and that it would be another two hours before I got home.  My husband was worried. He asked me how I could have gotten lost since I had very good directions.  I told him that I did not know and promised to keep in touch as I drove home. Nearly out of gas I found a station that looked to be in a safe area and pulled off the highway.  There would have been plenty of gas if I had not decided to go “sightseeing” instead of driving straight home. Sometime between 11:00 p.m. and midnight I made it home, a little over four hours after I left San Francisco.  Exhausted, embarrassed and hungry, I crawled into bed.  Early the next morning, I got up, got dressed and headed for work as usual. That weekend my husband and I took my daughter the rest of her things and took her grocery shopping.  On our way home, my husband asked me to try to remember which exit I had taken.  In the light of day, I easily discovered what I had done wrong.  The exit I had taken actually took me in a circle and then in a direction completely opposite of where I was headed.  The trip from hell was not one I would ever forget or one that I would ever want to repeat.  I have never made that trip by myself again! I need to explain that a few months earlier I had been on so many medications that we had stopped everything, including my thyroid, to let my body calm down and see what would happen.  My thyroid was a mess and I had just started taking medication again a few days before I made this journey.  I was fatigued and sick.  The drive from here to San Francisco still scares me now so much that I wouldn’t dream of attempting it myself. Have you experienced a never-ending drive that leaves never wanting to do it again?

Catch-Up Mondays: If I Only Had A Brain!!! – revisited

I originally posted this  on February 28, 2013.  I have been posting lately on how MCS affects the brain as well as re-blogging about what others have posted.  I have posted about the loss of words I experience and how I type words wrong consistently even though I can spell them in my head, spell them out loud and hand write them with complete accuracy.  Today for Catch-Up Monday, I am sharing the following post.


I have talked about this so many times and have read posts from other bloggers talking about the wonderful world of brain fog.  I struggle with memory (short-term) and finding the right words when talking.  Worse yet if I am carrying on a conversation and get the slightest interruption, I have no idea what I was just talking about.  Sound Familiar?  This happened a few days ago with my friend Liz.  This time it was her trying to remember what we were talking about.  What did I do?  I started humming my theme song “If I Only Had A Brain” from the Wizard of Oz.  The only part I could truly remember was the title of it.  She couldn’t remember all the words either.  So to you Liz, here are the words.  Maybe next time we can actually sing it together rather than just hum it.

Lyrics to If I Only Had A Brain :

I could wile away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain
And my head I’d be scratchin’
While my thoughts were busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain
I’d unravel any riddle
For any individ’le
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts you’d be thinkin’
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain
Oh, I would tell you why
The ocean’s near the shore
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I’d sit and think some more
I would not be just a nuffin’
My head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain


(Scarecrow) I could wile away the hours Conferrin’ with the flowers Consultin’ with the rain And my head I’d be scratchin’ While my thoughts were busy hatchin’ If I only had a brain
I’d unravel any riddle For any individ’le In trouble or in pain
(Dorothy) With the thoughts you’d be thinkin’ You could be another Lincoln If you only had a brain
(Scarecrow) Oh, I would tell you why The ocean’s near the shore I could think of things I never thunk before And then I’d sit and think some more
I would not be just a nuffin’ My head all full of stuffin’ My heart all full of pain I would dance and be merry Life would be a ding-a-derry If I only had a brain

[ These are If I Only Had A Brain Lyrics on ]

BRAIN FOG is like having my head all full of stuffin’. What do you do when you cannot remember a word?  Or when you get lost in the middle of a conversation?

Catch Up Mondays – At a loss for words – revisited

handwriting during a reactionDon’t you just hate it when you lose or can’t retrieve the word you want from your brain?  Since becoming ill I have found it is a regular occurrence.  I will be talking to someone and in the middle of a sentence I can’t come up with the word I want to use.  Try as I might, the word won’t come.  Sometimes I have been successful by trying to find another word that means something similar.  In the middle of a reaction as I was in yesterday, I was hard pressed to come up with the other word.

What was the word you say?  I don’t know.  I still don’t know.  I was trying to convey how when dealing with someone I would just respond very vaguely without giving either a yes or no answer.  As I was searching for the word I became tearful.  I tried and tried and finally came up with equanimity (calmness, poise, serenity, self-possession).  It seemed to work but wasn’t really the word I wanted to use.  Maybe I was wanting to use apathetic (showing little or no emotion, indifferent, not interested or concerned).  As I am writing this definition I think that is the word I wanted to use.

As hard as I try to retrain my brain by reading, crossword puzzles, etc. I still lose words in conversation even more so in the midst of a reaction.  I still find when I type that I transpose the same letters in certain words over and over again even though I know how to spell the words.  Yesterday when I was in the reaction my handwriting became hard to read (see picture for a sample of my handwriting in my journal during a reaction) and I spelled things wrong, my right hand became very cold and I had a much harder time expressing myself.

I have been told that mold mycotoxins can damage brain cells.  Sometimes you regain some of the processes you lost but usually not all of them.  When I was first exposed to mold (didn’t know it then) I would take phone messages and then look at them and realize they didn’t make sense and have to re-write them. Sometimes my boss would come in and ask me what the message meant even after I am sure it had been rewritten.  My handwriting was also deteriorating .  At the time I would become frustrated over this but it never dawned on me that something serious was going on with me and my brain.

This was originally posted on June 23, 2012.  I still find myself in a conversation and suddenly don’t even know what I am talking about.  All it takes is the tiniest of distraction (a noise in the background, a knock at the door, hearing someone else’s conversation going on, or the person on the other end of the conversation saying something that distracts me).  When typing I make the same mistakes over and over and over again despite knowing how to spell the words and where the keys are on the keyboard.  It is so frustrating!  Has chronic illnesses affected you this way?