Friday, 2 March 2018

February / March update

 The 2nd February was my late husband's birthday, the first one since he passed away and I marked the day by memorialising his Facebook page. I posted a short message, saying that he had celebrated his 60th birthday last year and that a few short months later he passed away, having lost his battle with cancer. DH's eldest brother and his wife rang me from South Africa that evening and it was lovely to talk to them and remember my DH together.

I have been very busy at work, as usual, but on Saturday I enjoyed a day out with some of my work friends. We all travelled by train to central Auckland and then boarded the ferry to Waiheke Island. It was a glorious late summer day, so there was a long queue of people waiting to get on to the ferry, but after waiting patiently, we boarded as well and sat up on the top deck in the fresh air. The ferry was very full and the trip took about 45 minutes. Once we arrived on the island we took a bus out to one of the vineyards. It has a restaurant, but as the tables were all booked, we could not have lunch there, but were able to get some light snacks and drinks, which were rather overpriced, I thought.

After spending some time relaxing under the trees, we then walked back to the bus stop and waited for the bus which would take us back to the ferry terminal. As we hadn't eaten much at lunchtime and were all quite hungry, we decided that we would have a late lunch at one of the restaurants on the wharf. The place we chose is called The Crab Shack and we found the food very good. I had fish and chips aka 'fush 'n chups", which is the way many Kiwis say it!

I enjoyed spending the day with my colleagues, but I was disappointed that I didn't get to see more of Waiheke Island, given that it was my first visit. I would like to go to the island again and would like to use the Explorer Bus, which is a hop on/ hop off service and I am sure that I would get to see much more of all that Waiheke has to offer.

It's now early March and the weather is still warm during the day, but the early mornings and late evenings are cooler and it is less humid, which is a relief, as the humidity was very high in January and February. I am still working away at my crochet blanket and am hoping to finish it within the next few weeks. Easter weekend is in another four weeks and I have set myself a bit of a goal; my aim is to get my blanket finished and then start on some winter knitting.

I recently bought some Regia 6ply yarn online from the Loveknitting website; I have cast on the first sock, but have only completed a few rounds thus far. I have a fair amount of yarn in my stash at the moment, including some Heritage Alpaca yarn, which is made in New Zealand and is beautifully soft and squishy! I originally bought it intending to use it for a sweater; I did actually start the sweater and got as far as completing the back and starting one sleeve, when I frogged it and put the yarn back in my stash until I could decide what I wanted to do with it. I did think of using it for a shawl, as it is so soft but now I am more inclined to want to use it for a sleeveless vest/ waistcoat which I could wear as an extra layer over my long sleeved tees when the weather is cold, but not cold enough for a long sleeved jumper or cardigan.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Another dishcloth

I recently completed this dishcloth to match the hand towel I made for my kitchen.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

FO: Yellow hand towel

I used some of the double knit cotton which I bought from Spotlight, to knit this hand towel for my kitchen.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Holiday FO's

I knitted these two cloths during the Christmas / New Year break and am very pleased with them. The yarn I used is Caron Cakes, which is a soft worsted weight cotton, which makes it ideal for either washcloths or dishcloths.

Some FO's from 2017

I really enjoyed working on my cowl, as the yarn is so soft and knitted up really nicely.

The socks were a quick and easy project, as I have used this pattern a number of times and as the yarn is DK, they knit up very quickly.

The pink washcloth was also a quick and easy knit; it was a project I started more to keep my hands busy than for any other reason and I ended up using it as a Secret Santa gift at Christmas.

I also knitted myself a red beret to go with my red winter coat, but never got around to taking a photo of it. It's packed away with all my winter clothes at the moment, so it will probably be a while before I do manage to photograph it. The hat itself  turned out well, but I am still not sure as to whether or not I will actually end up wearing it.

A long overdue update

I have not posted here for a long time and was seriously considering giving up blogging for good, but then changed my mind. Writing is something I enjoy and I find that putting my thoughts into words is quite therapeutic, regardless of how many or indeed how few people actually read what I have written.

The last time I posted I mentioned that my husband had been admitted to a private hospital for end of life care, as his condition had deteriorated to the point where I was no longer able to care for him at home. He was admitted to the hospital on 18 April 2017 and passed away on 30 May 2107. Our son and I were with him as he took his last breath and were able to say our goodbyes; it  was very sad, but it was also a blessing, as his suffering was at an end and he was at peace.

I went and stayed with my son and his partner until a couple of days after the funeral and then went back home. Shortly after DH was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and I sat down and had a long talk about the future and at that time were keen to downsize from the three bedroom house we were renting, to a two bedroom unit with a small garden. Unfortunately, as his condition deteriorated so much sooner than we had anticipated, we decided that it would not be practical to move, so we stayed on in the house and I decided that I would downsize into a smaller place when the time was right.

Before DH was admitted to hospital, I spent time at home looking after him, as I had been granted special leave from work, but once he was in hospital, I went back to work for half days and then would go and visit him in the afternoon. I found it very lonely on my own in the house, but as I was kept busy with work and my daily visits to DH, I did not start actively looking for another place right away, but did start de-cluttering and packing boxes in my spare time.

As I mentioned, DH passed away at the end of May 2017, but I only moved out of the house in early November, so spent several months on my own in the house, which was full of memories and at times I could still feel his presence very strongly. Moving is a very stressful life event and my fairly recent move from a three bedroom house to a one bedroom unit was no exception! It took a while for me to become accustomed to a much smaller living space, but now that I am settled in my new home, I am happy and feel that I made a good move.

Of course, I miss my late husband and there are times when I feel really sad and tearful, but on the whole, I feel that I am moving on with my life as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I do feel lonely sometimes, which is perfectly normal, but living alone has many positive aspects and I try to focus on these as much as possible.

As far as crafting is concerned, I have a couple of projects on the go at the moment. I am working on a sweater for myself; the back has been finished for months and I am currently working on one of the sleeves. I am also busy with a crochet project, a granny square blanket which will be large enough to fit on my queen size bed when it's finished. The colours I am using are teal, fuchsia, light grey and dark grey and am making large squares, so that will not be too many of them to join together once I am ready to complete my project.

We are having a hot and humid summer in New Zealand, so I went to Spotlight before Christmas and stocked up on some cotton yarn for dishcloths and facecloths, which has meant that I have still been able to knit in spite of the heat.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Dark days - an update

On 8 December 2016 I wrote a post which I called " dark days", as my husband had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer with liver metastases. At the time of diagnosis we were told that it was inoperable, as the cancer had spread to his liver and that he probably had six months to a year left to live.

He was put onto light duties at work, but in January, once he started chemotherapy, he was not able to go work much at all, as the treatment had such a debilitating effect on him. DH's pain was also becoming harder to manage and during the month of January he had a couple of hospital admissions, but it was at the beginning of February that we were given some really devastating news. As DH had been suffering from severe constipation, he had been given laxatives and enemas, but once these had taken effect, he was still in so much pain that the gastroenterologist who was looking after him on the ward, sent him down to Radiology for a CT scan.

The results of this scan showed that the cancer cells in the liver had grown and spread, but there was even further cause for concern, as there were blood clots in the liver, as well. As DH was suffering from portal vein thrombosis, he had to start taking blood thinning medication. We were told that due to the deterioration in his condition, he would have only a couple of months of life left.

I notified family members in South Africa and DH's eldest and youngest brother then flew over at the end of February and stayed with us for two weeks, so that they could spend time with him. It was good to have them with us, as they were very kind and  supportive, not only to DH, but to me, as well.

While my brothers-in-law were staying with us, they told us that they were very concerned about their elderly father, as he had been growing quite frail and was not very well. DH and I were both upset to hear about his dad's illness and sadly, not even a week after my brothers-in-law had returned home to South Africa, they called to say that he had passed away.

About ten days ago DH was feeling very unwell and started vomiting up large amounts of black blood, which was really scary. I called the inpatient unit at our local hospice and they advised me to call an ambulance right away, which I did. DH was taken to the Emergency Department first and was then later admitted to a ward, where the doctor on duty said that it would be advisable for him to have a gastroscopy to  help to identify the cause of the bleeding. After the procedure we were told that the tumour in the pancreas was larger and very aggressive and was wrapped around the stent which had been put in a couple of months ago to drain the bile duct. We were also told that there is a slight chance that the bleeding could recur and that if there was a haemorrhage, it could be fatal.

After spending a couple of nights in hospital DH was discharged, but prior to his discharge, we met with a doctor from the palliative team and a social worker, to discuss end of life care. Prior to DH's admission to hospital, our hospice nurse and a needs assessor visited us at home to discuss some end of life care options, as they felt that DH was reaching the stage where he would need professional care.

Last week DH spent two nights at a local care facility where he had some respite care, which also gave me a break, as I had been caring for him on my own at home. The care facility is a rest home and private hospital which offers  end of life care to terminally ill patients. It's a pleasant place and the staff are all very helpful and friendly, so when we were told that a permanent room would soon be available for DH, we were both happy to accept the offer. He is at home at the moment, as the room will only be vacated by 18 April, which means that DH will get to spend the coming week and Easter weekend at home with me.

The past months have been incredibly stressful, but we are very grateful for all the support and help we have received, and are continuing to receive, from family members, friends and work colleagues.
I am planning to downsize and move from the three bedroom house we are currently renting, to a one bedroom unit or apartment. As I have been kept very busy, caring for DH as well as seeing to daily chores, I have not had much time to do much in the way of packing, but once he is in permanent care, I should have more time to de-clutter and do some packing. I am hoping to find a little place quite soon; I have been looking on the real estate website, just to get an idea of what is available, but have not actually spoken to any estate agents.

DH is weak and frail and spends most of his time resting, as his energy levels are very low and he is unable to do very much. He has lost a great deal of weight and eats very little, as he has no appetite. His pain is controlled by morphine, but he does feel  very uncomfortable at times and it's so hard to see him suffering. Our son and I are both devastated at the prospect of losing him, but I believe that when the time comes, we need to let him go quietly and peacefully.