Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Embroidered Beads and My Heart Valve

It's hard to imagine that it's been 15 years since I was diagnosed.

It was during a routine physical when the doctor asked if I knew I had a little heart murmur.  I told him that yes, I remembered when I was a teenager hearing my doctor telling my mom that, but it was nothing to worry about, that it would probably go away.  What went away then was the fear and that memory. Fifteeen years ago, I first visited a cardiologist who told me to have an echocardiogram every couple of years, take an antibiotic before certain medical procedures, and when I was older, I'd probably have to have that valve replaced, but by then, medical advances would assure me of having a much less invasive procedure done.  So, I was thinking, maybe when I'm 70 or 80...

About a month ago, my doctor recommended that I schedule an echo since I was complaining of fatigue. I did get it scheduled, but would have to wait a few weeks to have it done. A few days later, upon leaving a local hospital complex after having a mammogram, I was not feeling well.  A little chest pressure, some lightheadedness and a little shortness of breath.  Knowing that I hate emergency rooms, I headed for the local walk-in clinic.  The doctor there was concerned that I was having a heart attack, so he recommended I go to the ER. They said I had bronchitis, gave me an antibiotic and sent me home (all of this took almost 8 hours, you know).  I asked if they could do something to bump up my echo appointment, but they said there was nothing they could do about that, and to get on a waiting list.

The lack of patience in this patient is not a good thing. I started doing what a lot of artists would do: deal with it by creating art, and for me, pulling out more handwork.  I knew what I could work on would be some usually last minute embellishments for nuno felted scarves for the upcoming Greenwich Village Art Fair in September. I also took yards of silk fabrics that don't work for nuno-felting and started cutting them into strips, then knitting them into scarves with size 50 needles.  I've made 7 of those so far...

Getting back to my heart valve, the echo did show some changes and now, my aortic stenosis has been classified as "moderate" disease.  I think I know enough that this doesn't require valve surgery yet, but might involve medication and maybe some resriction on some activities. I'm seeing a new cardiologist who comes highly recommended by two friends.  I'm hoping to get an appointment set up with him today.

This did take a little time, but I wanted to share a tutorial on some of what I've been working on: embroidered pony beads.  Yes, there is something you can do with those little plastic kids' beads...
 Each of them take about 1 yard of perle cotton embroidery floss.  Thread an embroidery needle (size 18 or so), then insert the threaded needle through the hole in the bead.  Make a simple knot, leaving a few inches as a tail.  Keep wrapping the threaded needle around the bead, and with each pass of the floss closest to the first knot (I call that the "bottom"), insert the needle through the previous pass of floss and pull tight.  This will keep each pass (or stitch) tight and in place. The bead will hold about 30 stitches with size 5 perle cotton...You'll know when you can't pass the needle through the bead anymore. 
Finish the bead by knotting the two tails together.  Put a dab of fabric glue (like Unique Stitch or similiar) on the knot.  Wait for it to dry and make one more knot.  Clip the tails as close as possible.
These are great stacked on top of buttons...or add a bead on top.  I've also inserted them on  pearl floral pins with a little glue, pinned a few on some cool hand made paper and given them away as gifts.

Latest update on a new cardiologist - I have an appointment in 2 weeks with someone who specializes in valve disorders.  Keep a good thought.