Monthly Archives: September 2020

Fear, Guilt, Distraction

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It has been a very draining week. There is no doubt that distraction always helps in mentally challenging situations. I completed two customer quilts and took far longer than necessary to piece 2 customer quilt backs. 

 

I made an apron based on a large, ugly one that I bought on Ebay. Considering it was just one main piece, it was actually a pain to put together and I have decided that making aprons to sell is not viable. It takes far too much fabric and time. If I really want to sell screen printed aprons I would be better off buying ready made canvas ones and adding printed pockets.

Since I am not feeling at all inspired to start any new projects, I decided that the best thing to do would be to buy a quilt kit so I have something to sew that I don’t have to think much about. I ordered a Modern Snowflake kit from Purple Stitches and I look forward to doing something colourful and easy.

I asked on Facebook if anyone would like to send Nella postcards to brighten up her hospital room. There was an amazing response of good wishes from friends all over the world. Nella is actually feeling overwhelmed because she genuinely believes she does not deserve their concern. It is also tricky when people tell her she is being brave or doing well because instead of offering encouragement it triggers the anorexia even more.

Because she was continuing her hunger strike and getting weaker, she was detained under the mental health act and given a nasal-gastric tube, essentially being force fed. It is a brutal procedure and she cannot talk about how awful it was. For now she is so terrified of that process being repeated that she is eating again. She feels incredibly guilty at eating, not protesting, giving up on veganism, being in hospital and even not being the worst patient. There is a full team of experts at the hospital but she often needs to talk to me on the phone to calm her strong feelings of guilt and fear.

The plan is to discharge her as soon as possible. She will be nowhere near cured or better, just medically stable. We are both feeling terrified that at home there is only me to get her to eat and keep her under constant supervision so she cannot exercise. 

The best I can do for now is visit twice a week, be on the end of the phone for her and just stay sane by pottering about with Nessie before dealing with what will happen when she is ready to come home.

The Point of No Return

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Not a stitch was sewn this week for very valid reasons! Nella’s health was checked on Monday and it was decided by her medics in Aberdeen that she would have to be hospitalised into a specialist eating disorders unit in Dundee. She could not go that day since they were short staffed so I had to keep a close eye on her at home until Wednesday. 

There were moments when she had the insight to wonder how things had got this bad, yet also believing that it simply would not happen. We sent a lot of time just being with each other, watching Freya pack up for her move to Glasgow. 

Wednesday was pretty grim. The admin at check-in was unbelievable. Although they were expecting Nella, they seemed to have no information about her from Aberdeen. The form filling took over an hour before she even saw a doctor. I was told that due to Covid restrictions, I would not be allowed to settle her into her room. I almost lost the plot at that point and said that simply would NOT be happening to a girl who hated being away from home for Guide Camps and School Trips.

It was heartbreaking to leave her there but we were both resigned to the fact that it was the only option. Her hospital meal plan is based on cows milk and cheese which is impossible for a strict vegan. She has continued to refuse food so a nasal-gastric feeding tube looks increasingly likely.

Fortunately, she is allowed to use her mobile phone during the day so we can keep in touch and I plan to visit her twice a week unless new quarantine restrictions are put in place.

Freya tried to get on with her packing with Nessie getting in her way and the next day she set off to start the next phase of her life as a student in Glasgow. The house is very quiet without my girls and I have not got used to it yet. Nessie has no clue what has happened except that now she only has me to entertain her. I mended the trampoline net for her to play on with her football but she ripped it to shreds within minutes. 

I will crack on with a couple of customer quilts next week, make a few new face masks and scrunchies but have no creative projects lined up. Otherwise, I will keep practising German, enjoy the last days of good weather, make bread and just hope that Nella can inch her way back to health.

 

The Unknown

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I had 2 customer big quilts this week that each required 2 days of automated quilting. One was a quilt that I have done before, UK part-work magazine quilt that takes 2 years,  almost £400.00 in subscription fees, without backing, wadding and finishing costs! It just goes to show how much money and time could be saved by joint a group or guild that could offer friendly advice to novice quilters.

The other project that I undertook was sewing up a boiled wool coat – I have had the fabric and pattern for a few years but always put it off out of fear of messing up. Inevitably, I did manage to get the pockets and collar inside out but I fixed it and am pleased with it.

 

Freya is excitedly preparing to move to Glasgow to start a 2 year Masters program at the University since taking a year out in 2020 to work and travel has proved to be a fruitless exercise. We have enjoyed taking time together to make sourdough bread, preserves and digging out quilts for her new flat.

Nella had a difficult online appointment with her doctors on Friday. They insisted that she should be told about her recent weight loss and her irrational anorexic logic has made her more determined to lose more weight, instead of being alarmed at her the damage to her health. She has now gone on hunger strike and it looks likely that she will be admitted to hospital. Despite my efforts to care for her at home for the past year to support her strong vegan views, the gradual improvements of the first six months were wiped out by a lack of appointments during lockdown. Hospitalisation looks like the only possible route now, which fills us both with dread for different reasons. What the future holds is simply unknown and will definitely not be simple.

 

Exploration or Avoidance?

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I started the week all fired up to make short instructional videos, kicking off with showing how to make an elasticated bowl cover. I was just filming this on my own using my phone, using the Apple Watch as a remote control. I realised that things need to be recorded in several takes, possibly having done an entire project as a practice. I did not use any of the footage but put it down as a good dummy run. 

Logistically, if I don’t manage to teach online I wondered about a Plan B and made a list of things that I could potentially sell in an Etsy shop, trying to make use of my screen printing. I liked the idea of making a baker’s set, including a crossover apron, bread bag and bowl cover. I had a large piece of dyed linen curtain fabric but it was not wide enough so I had to cut and rejoin it. My conclusion is that I don’t think aprons are cost effective in terms of time and materials, especially when perfectly nice and ready-made ones can be ordered online. 

I finished off a macrame bag using pink, cotton cord, whereas the one in the book had used jute twine. I tried to follow the author’s instructions but as usual, some of it was just gobbledygook. I hid one or two minor errors and changed the way the bag got joined at the bottom but it looks pretty good all the same. I always wonder what to do with all of the bits of string that are left over so I decided to make a couple of rope bowls. 

It was a week of messing about experimenting with small projects. I decided to make some fresh ginger cordial by boiling up root ginger and a sugar syrup. Unfortunately, I forgot about it for 4 hours and when I returned I had made tar, not even treacle toffee. However, I did have success at making Bombay Mix noodles. It would seem that there is a secret ingredient that makes them go crispy – chickpea flour / gram PLUS rice or tapioca flour. I used the Sev maker that I bought from a street vendor in Jaipur and deep-fried them in hot oil over a camping gas stove. To get them extra crispy, I finished them off in the dehydrator. I know I can buy Bombay Mix cheaply but it was fun to make my own. 

One other domestic chore that I did was to restore some copper measuring cups that I bought on Ebay. They were tarnished so I cleaned them up with brown sauce, barkeeper’s friend and finally Brasso! They are probably not very practical but they look nice now.

 

There is no doubt that coming up with all of these distractions was because I am trying to process the news that Nella’s anorexia seems to be on the rise again. She went for her first physical checks since before lockdown and the results were disappointing. I have the challenge of getting her to eat more, especially protein, with her threatening to go on hunger strike if I try to change or increase her very restricted diet. Somehow I need to work out how to deal with that yet maintain a sense of balance, allowing myself some time to explore projects that might keep me sane in a topsy-turvy world.