Thursday, November 16, 2006

Avalanche hockey scarf knitting pattern

TraVy in his Av scarf
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.

I used Caron Simply Soft yarn to make this, basically because they had the exact right colors.

Blue, burgundy/red, and white yarn.
Needles: US8 and US6

Using larger size needles, CO ~36 stitches. Knit in whatever pattern you want until almost out of yarn then bind off all stitches. I did a 'key' variation of 12 rows as follows:
Row 1: K2, P3, repeat to last 2 stitches. End with K2.
Row 2: P2, K3, repeat to last 2 stitches. End with P2.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 three times.
Row 9: P2, K3, repeat to last 2 stitches. End with P2.
Row 10: K2, P3, repeat to last 2 stitches. End with K2.
Repeat rows 9 & 10 once.
Start over with Row 1.

The ‘A’:
Using smaller size needles, CO 3 stitches. Purl all stitches on wrong side rows.
Row 1: K1, m3, K1.
Row 3: K1, m1, K1, m1, K1.
Row 5: K2, m1, K1, m1, K2.
Row 7: K2, m1, K2, m1, K1, m1, K1.
Row 9: K2, m1, K7, m1, K1.
Row 11: K2, m1, K8, m1, K2.
Row 13: K2, m1 K5. Using separate yarn, K5, m1, K2. Work each side separately.
Rows 15, 17, 19, and 21: K2, m1, K3, K2tog; sl1over, K3, m1, K2.
Row 23: K first side, CO 5, K second side using first yarn. (This is the beginning of the crossbar in the A.)
Rows 25 and 27: K2, m1, K to last 3, m1, K2.
Row 29: K2, m1, K9. Attach second yarn, cast off 5, K9, m1, K2.
Rows 31, 33, and 35: K2, m1, K to last 2, K2tog. Reverse pattern for second side.
Row 36 (wrong side): Purl first yarn. Cast off 3 with second yarn, P remaining.
Row 37: K2, m1, K to end. Cast off 6, K to end.
Row 38: Purl first yarn. CP 9, P to end.
Row 39: K2, m1, K to end. Cast off all stitches on second side.
Row 40: Cast off all stitches.

The wavy lines:
Using smaller size needles, CO 3 stitches. Work in stockinette for varying lengths. Cast off.

Sew ‘A’ on one end using remaining blue yarn. Sew wavy lines in place using blue yarn.

Friday, November 10, 2006

'how to' guide for patient advocacy

i was recently asked to provide tips for a friend on successful patient advocacy given my long track record with Mom and Grandma. i am including those tips below. the one most important thing i would say is that anyone who wishes to successfully survive a serious illness needs at least one patient advocate. although it is helpful if this person has a medical background, that does not mean that a medical person doesn't need an advocate. nor does it mean that a family with no 'medical' people is doomed.

important things:
1. find out EVERY doctor that is working on the case and which doctor is responsible for each problem. in doing this with both my mother and grandmother, i discovered several problems that were not being addressed by anyone as doctors worried about stepping on each other's toes. also, pre-emptively identify when doctors are going to be going off clinics and who their replacements will be so that things that can be are wrapped up before shift changes.
2. once you find out the complete listing of problems, rank the biggest 2-3 and ake sure to speak directly with the doctors managing those problems. make sure that you have a clear understanding of the associated plans for problems that will span multiple doctors. that way you can catch when things veer off course or are forgotten.
3. write EVERYTHING down. ask doctors to spell their names and words (even if you think you know) so that they know you are doing this, esp if the advocate is working over the phone. repeat back information that seems incomplete, conflicting or that you suspect is fragmented. that way, you point out the inconsistencies without actually pointing them out and making the doctor defensive.
4. find out a convenient time to talk to each doctor and set it as an expectation that you will do so. this needs to be done explicitly or you will be forgotten. realistically, without a set update time, it is almost impossible for even those people who are 'on the scene' to get info as the doc comes in when he is free and basically looks at the chart, says things are fine and leaves. a lot of times they will NOT share information on new problems because people tend to assume someone else already has and the nurse usually isn't at liberty to be specific or particularly informative.
5. make sure to find out every single medication and dosage administered as well as every test. it is easy for something to get carried over at a loading dosage throughout a stay or for an empiric/ pre-emptive treatment to be continued once a cause is already ruled out, esp if the doctors change on a case. having to list all the drugs and dosages to someone often causes doctors to catch such errors before you could.

now, all of the above requires more time from the doctors and more attention to [insert patient name]'s case. to offset this:
1. reiterate appreciation for their attention each time they do something extra ('I just want to thank you again for taking the time to round with me. I know how very busy you are and will be as brief as possible.').
2. express unequivocal understanding when non-lifethreatening procedures and treatments are delayed ('We understand. We certainly want for the patients with more pressing needs to be attended to first--we know that same attention will be focused on [insert name] first when he needs it.').
3. send chocolates to the floor caring for your [insert patient] or some similar treat every 2-3 days with a note thanking the staff for their caring attention and patience.
4. most importantly, reiterate to each doctor something like this: 'I understand it is hard to chat with me on top of everything else. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am the token medical in the family and it greatly eases my family's concern when I am 'in the know' and can reexplain things to them when they get confused. As I am sure you are quite aware of, non-medicals can get easily overwhelmed and forget the 'whys' a lot. By explaining once to me, I can explain 10 times to them and keep them calm and compliant.'

if you are not medical, go with something like this: 'I understand it is hard to chat with me on top of everything else. it greatly eases my family's concern to know that one person is keeping track of all the information so we can learn more on our own time. by having everything written down, i can reexplain things to different family members when they get involved or get confused. As I am sure you are quite aware of, patients and family members can get easily overwhelmed and forget the 'whys'. By explaining once to me, I can explain 10 times to each involved family member and keep them calm and out of everyone's hair.'
5. read about the disease, tests, and treatments being discussed. now, no one would expect you to become a doctor or disease specialist, but you can improve your odds of getting good care if you know the right questions to ask. reliable 'plain speak' about medical issues can be found at WebMD or its more technical 'sister' eMedicine.

getting updates basically revolves around being polite but doggedly persistent and informed but not a know-it-all. if things aren't right, do not hesitate to say so and be committed to being a friendly but immovable rock until they are fixed.

finally, don't forget to take care of yourself. if you don't, who will be left to be the advocate?

what about Eliza?

with the recent wins in the US House and Senate, CO Governor seat, and the two local races I cared about, i find this continuous running through my head:

Pickering Tonight, old man, you did it!
You did it! You did it! You said that you would do it,
And indeed you did. I thought that you would rue it;
I doubted you'd do it. But now I must admit it
That succeed you did. You should get a medal
Or be even made a knight. Henry It was nothing.
Really nothing. Pickering All alone you hurdled
Ev'ry obstacle in sight. Henry Now, wait! Now, wait!
Give credit where it's due, A lot of the glory goes to you.
Pickering But you're the one who did it,
Who did it, who did it! As sturdy as Gibraltar,
Not a second did you falter. There's no doubt about it,
You did it! I must have aged a year tonight.
At times I thought I'd die of fright.

first because it is silly and jubilant, but now more consistently because i see the mainsteam politicos and progressive blogoshere vying for credit.

the self-trumpetting vindicatory talk on the blogosphere is the greater disappointment, because it sends a message of superiority that may alienate the new young progressives that generally refuse to label themselves 'liberals' because of the connotation of preachy self-righteousness. these individuals are a big part of the great victory and their alienation could have disastrous consequences in '08. they are, to a large degree, the Eliza of this story.

ah well. hopefully my concerns are just the result of overcautiousness because this victory has been so very long in coming.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

the big black time suck of political volunteering

since i took on the Webmaster gig for my house district candidate, it has been remarkable how little time i have left for writing. this mainly reflects the challenges of a local campaign where everyone also must tend to 'day jobs' and the cost-effective (read free) solutions to problems often require MacGyvering. it has been an amazing experience though, at the same time, a depressing one. over the last 8 plus months, close scrutiny of the new and baffling ways candidates (mine excluded of course) have found to decivilize our society has led to an almost unavoidable funk. now, thankfully, the torture has ended (at least until i next take leave of my senses and volunteer for a campaign).

happily, not only has the darkness ended, it has been replaced by a beautiful, shiny day. the US House has been retaken with a margin so wide as to classify as a mandate. the AP reports that Tester's and Webb's leads will hold and Dems gain control of the US Senate. Rumsfeld has resigned. Hastert has announced he's tucked his tail firmly between his legs. in my personal House District, McClusckey-the incumbent Republican who went centrist last cycle after narrowly escaping defeat to John Kefalas- was defeated by the John Kefales by three times the margin last year. Kefalas, proving himself to be who he promised, sent this message out:

I would also like to thank State Representative Bob McCluskey for his public service. I know that almost half the voters preferred the incumbent, and I hope to win their trust and support in the coming months. I will strive to represent all of House District 52, not just those who voted for me.

This is not my victory alone. It is our victory. It shows you can still get elected to the people's house without big money, pollsters, consultants, spin-doctors or focus groups, and without going negative.

the wait last night was almost intolerable, as the results slowly slipped across the ticker on the bottom of the page. eventually, i 'broke' into the Business Center and essentially became the the 'ready room.' it was the first time i have been referred to as a wonk, and by more than one person mind you! i was terribly entertained.

in the end, my candidate - whose fate i am sure you are anxiously awaiting - handily outstripped his opponent by over a twenty point margin! we were all very proud as you can imagine.

so it has been a good day, a very good day.