March 26, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

I always knew there would be a lot side effects to the cancer and radiation and the almost-equally-as-horrendous medications you take after but…taking away my knitting? How much does that suck?

Tamoxifen—the medication that whooshes out all the cancer-causing estrogen from one’s body, and which I will be on for years—and my hands don’t play well together. Within the taking of two doses, one thumb wouldn’t straighten out without a “snapping” of the main tendon and a considerable amount of pain, the kind of pain that makes you stare at the offending digit with a frownie face. By the next day, the other thumb had followed suit. And then a pinky. And then the carpal tunnel that had been lurking flared up. Sooooo many frownie faces.

The oncologist, who is kind but could never be accused of sugarcoating anything, laid it out: Tamoxifen is the only medication I can take right now, and I have a potentially aggressive form of cancer so…it’s Tamoxifen or hand pain. In other words, cancer or knitting. I repeat, how much does that suck?

But I haven’t given up yet, as the hours I still spend on Ravelry will testify to. And I almost bought a ball of yarn the other day. Plus, I’ll be talking to my general practitioner to see if she has any advice. In the meantime, knitting friends have been supplying me with knotted-up balls of yarn to untangle which is keeping the worst of the cold turkey away. And when they run out, the cats said they will volunteer their services to make more tangled yarn. No surprise there.

Posted by Ryan at March 26, 2013 02:43 AM

:( I am so sorry to hear this. Thanks be for the cats!

Posted by: Kristen on March 26, 2013 06:34 AM

That sucks. I would rather have hand pain rather than cancer, but I imagine I'd be a lot grumpier about it if my coping mechanism were taken away from me.

Posted by: Seanna Lea on March 26, 2013 08:01 AM

Oh Ryan, I'm so sorry to hear this. I know that my knitting is one of the few things that keeps me sane. Sending positive energy your way.

Posted by: Cynthia on March 26, 2013 08:43 AM

That sucks and blows at the same time. What about spinning or weaving? Out of the 3 million people on Ravelry, you can't be the first person to have gone through this. Maybe someone there has suggestions and support.

Posted by: Jen Anderson on March 26, 2013 09:15 AM

That's too bad! But don't worry, knitting will still be here when you get back.

Have you tried weaving? A friend recently spent a few hours showing me how to use a basic loom like this Cricket loom:

It was pretty fun, does not require much in the way of dexterity, and you can work as slowly as you like.

Posted by: Erika on March 26, 2013 09:22 AM

I second the weaving. And maybe you need a CSM or something.

Posted by: kitten on March 26, 2013 11:55 AM

Oh no! ((((hugs))))
Which doesn't help, but it's all I've got.

Posted by: Knitnana on March 26, 2013 12:23 PM

Oh, my. I guess that knitting with huge needles wouldn't make a difference, I suppose. I send good, healing thoughts your way.


Posted by: Cat on March 26, 2013 08:36 PM

So sorry to hear that!!!

As a new weaving addict, I'll add my vote for weaving. It is very gratifying to see all the oddballs grow into usable things.

Posted by: Swapna on March 26, 2013 10:50 PM

Coupla ideas.

Weaving is good... and fast and productive, things one cannot say about knitting. Get thyself a table loom and play with yarn!

My grandma's hands were terribly crippled with arthritis, but she crocheted right up until the day she died. I don't know if your hand pain will permit holding the hook, but it is worth a try.

Want some more tangled yarn? I have two yummy skeins of fingering weight merino that our then-new dog got hold of on New Year's Day, 2012. Smokey and I worked on detangling and winding into ball, but we both burned out on it after a few days. Wanna help? ;-)

Oh, one more thing:

Posted by: kmkat on March 27, 2013 03:54 PM

Hi, Ryan - I'm a long-time lurker who finally has something to say that might be useful: I got hit with rheumatoid arthritis last fall and for several weeks I could barely walk (more like a shuffle) and could not use my hands. I was known for taking knitting into meetings and when I went back to work, people noticed that I wasn't knitting - what's wrong? Even though I couldn't knit, I eventually found that just holding the yarn in my hands was very comforting. I felt a little pathetic but I was so amazed at how much better I felt with the fiber in my hands that I decided not to care. After a couple of months of drugs, my hands and fingers started slowly working. It's been several months of slow progress but I found I was able to open door knobs and zip my coat and eventually knit (and spin) again - I am actually finishing my first KAL this week - and I was able to keep up with the middle-of-the-road knitters. Hang in there! (And if the fiber doesn't work - grab a cat or two. They're fiber-y AND warm!) Good luck - Denyse

Posted by: Denyse/Fiberbrarian on March 27, 2013 06:22 PM

That is just horrible. I wish there was something I could say that would help, but there is not. Try crocheting. It will get better.

Posted by: Anne on March 28, 2013 04:18 PM

I'm sorry that this great big sucky thing is not letting you knit. That is just WRONG.

Agree with all suggestions for alternate fiber therapy. And cat snuggling.

Posted by: kt on March 28, 2013 10:53 PM

Hey there Ryan,
I too am a long time lurker. I am very glad you are blogging again. Like everyone else, I am very sorry to hear of your health woes and frowny faces. I wish you the best in your healing journey.

Posted by: Trish on March 30, 2013 08:47 PM
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