October 17, 2017

FIRST COMPLETED PROJECT AFTER KNEE SURGERY

I'm catching up on my postings.  A few of my posts will be items that I have already made but did not post about them when the garments were completed.

When my doctor told me I could start sewing again I was sew happy.  He told me the movement of my foot going up and down on the foot pedal would be good exercise for my knees.  I love color block garments, I decided to make a color block dress.  It took me a while to move around in my sewing room because my knees were still healing and they were very, very stiff.

The first color block dress I made Butterick 5673 ended up being a complete fail because to my surprise I lost 22 pounds.  I didn't realize I was losing weight, this was a complete surprise to me.  When I completed the garment it fell off of me, I was truly disappointed, I thought I lost my sewing mojo.  L






I stepped away from my sewing room for awhile to gather my thoughts.  I didn't sew for a couple of days because I was in a funk.  I was really concerned about this unexpected weight loss.  At my next doctor's appointment I discussed the weight loss with my doctor.  He said it was normal for people to lose weight after knee surgery because of the energy they are using to move around.  Since I had both knees replaced at the same time, I'm using more energy which caused more weight loss.

I thought I would make another color block dress McCalls 6028, since I had enough fabric left over.

I measured myself to see what size to make my clothes to fit my new size.  I had a inspiration picture of the dress I wanted to make.  This time, the dress fit, I was very happy and I felt I had my sewing mojo back.

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August 24, 2017

BILATERAL KNEE SURGERY - LONG POST


I haven't blogged in awhile because I was recovering from having bilateral knee replacement.  I did post about the surgery on my Facebook page.  I've decided to also blog about it as well.  This is a very long post, so grab yourself a cup of coffee, tea or whatever is your favorite beverage.

After I started posting about my surgery on my Facebook page, a lot of people reached out to me to thank me for sharing my experience.  Some of them need the surgery as well but is afraid to have it, they told me I encouraged them to move closer to having their surgery.  A lot of people said I was an inspiration, others said I was brave and/or a tropper.

FROM THE BEGINNING....

I knew I needed knee replacement about 2 years ago, but I didn't want to have the surgery for several reasons, I heard it was painful, I didn't want that scar up the front of my leg because I wear most of my skirts and dresses above my knees and finally, I didn't want to be down for a long period time to recover from the surgery.

Well, the pain got the best of me.  I couldn't sleep at night, the pain started to affect me being able to walk and drive. I started having a burning feeling inside my knees from the bones rubbing against one another.  I started walking with a limp and I could no longer wear high heels. What woman wants to stop wearing heels?  LOL!!!  I had to start wearing flats or tennis shoes.  The pain started affecting my overall quality of life.  When I would go out, I really couldn't enjoy myself because of the pain I was experiencing.  I could no longer exercise because I would be in a lot of pain afterwards.  I was very active before my knee problems, I exercised several times a week and I hand-danced once or twice a week as well.  I hand-danced just about every Friday night for about 13 years before I started having knee problems.

PLANNING FOR SURGERY

I made an appointment to see my orthopedic doctor to discuss knee replacement surgery.  My doctor told me 2 years ago I needed surgery, his exact words were "your knees are going to tell you when it's time to have the surgery and I will be here waiting for you.  LOL!!!"  I love his honestly.

I've already had 5 laparoscopic meniscus repair surgeries on my knees, I had 3 surgeries on my right knee and 2 on my left knee.  At this point I had no cartilage in my knees which led me to need bilateral knee replacement.  I asked my doctor did he perform bilateral knee replacement, he said "yes".  He did tell me that most doctors don't like to perform bilateral knee replacement because the patient needs a good knee to stand on, but in my case, I did not have a good knee to stand on.  My doctor told me on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, one knee was a 9, the other knee was a 10.

My orthopedic doctor took X-rays of my knees, the X-rays showed both knees were in bad shape. Therefore, I was the perfect candidate for bilateral knee replacement.  We proceeded to schedule my surgery for Feb. 6, 2017.

PRE-OP CLASS - January 24, 2017

I attended a Mandatory Pre-Op Class at the hospital.  I was in a class with 3 other people who were having knee or hip surgeries that was being performed by the same doctor.  There were two of us who were having bilateral knee replacement, one person was having a hip replacement and one person was having a knee replacement repair surgery.  All of our surgeries were scheduled for Feb. 6th.

We were informed to request our pain medication every 4 hours to stay ahead of our pain, for example, request our pain medication before the pain starts, once the pain starts we would be "chasing" the pain to get relief.  Some of us were going to a rehab facility after surgery.  They gave us a special body wash we had to use 3 days prior to our surgeries.

The highlights of the class was what to expect after surgery: length of surgery; what to expect and do the day before and the day of surgery; we were given a list of personal items we would need at the hospital and at the rehab facility; what kind of clothes we would need after surgery; hospital care; rehab care; home care; make a DIY (Do It Yourself) care basket.

This is the basket I made to take to the hospital and rehab facility.  The instructor that taught the Pre-Op Class was so impressed with my basket, she asked me if she could take a picture of my basket and use the picture in her future classes?  I told her yes.  That made me feel good that she wanted to use my DIY basket as an example in her future classes.




I had to get clearance from my General Practitioner to have the surgery (blood work and check my heart).  My General Practitioner really did not like the idea of me having bilateral knee replacement. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this, I told him "yes".

KNEE SURGERY PERFORMED - February 6, 2017

My surgery was successful.  After the surgery I was moved to a semi-private room, I was very, very sick from the anesthesia.  I couldn't eat any food the day of my surgery.  My doctor visited me that afternoon, he was surprised to see that I was sick from the anesthesia because he performed all of my knee surgeries except one, and I never got sick from the anesthesia.  He told me my knees were in bad shape, and that it was a good idea to have the bilateral surgery.

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MOVE TO REHAB FACILITY - February 8, 2017

Two days after having bilateral knee replacement, I was moved to a rehab facility by ambulance. This move was very painful.  I would spend 3 1/2 weeks at the Rehab Facility.

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After arriving at the Rehab Facility, there were several vitals and assessments that had to be taken, such as weight, blood pressure, check swelling of my legs and they made sure my ankles and feet were NOT swollen.

FIRST DAY OF PHYSICAL THERAPY - February 11, 2017

I had occupational and physical therapy everyday at the Rehab Facility except on Sundays. Occupational therapy is for the upper body to make sure I was strong enough to lift myself out of the bed, or to lift myself from sitting in a chair and from my wheelchair.  Some of the exercises were challenging and there were some that were easy.  Physical therapy is for the lower part of the body, i.e., legs.

The first day of physical therapy was painful, I pushed through the pain.  I had to learn how to walk again, I started off walking using a walker with my leg braces on my legs and without the leg braces.


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VALENTINE'S DAY SPENT IN REHAB

Although I spent Valentine's Day in the Rehab Facility, I was still being thought about.  I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a balloon, a card and a box of candy.

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Members from Riverside Baptist Church stopped by the Rehab Facility to give all of the patients a Valentine's Day gift.


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My physical therapist told me I was doing great, things that were very challenging to do is what I worked hard to overcome.  I was determined to follow my physical therapist's instructions.

I rode the bike for the "first time" for 15 minutes on February 14th.  Valentine's Day was a good day for me.

After physical therapy I would go back to my room and ice my knees with the magnificent ice buckets I received from the hospital.  I loved those ice buckets (I received two because I had bilateral knee replacement).  Let me explain why this machine is magnificent- you had to fill 1/2 the bucket with ice and the other 1/2 with water.  There is a hose that's attached to the bucket which also is attached to the pads that wraps around your legs.  The ice cold water runs thru the hose to the pads and I would feel the ice on my legs.  This was a very good feeling after physical therapy.



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WALKING THE HALLS 

Every morning after breakfast, I would walk the halls using my walker.  I didn't want my legs to get stiff, I wanted to do some form of exercise until it was time for my physical therapy appointment. Sometimes my therapist would push me in my wheelchair to physical therapy and there were times she would have me walk to the physical therapy room using my walker with her walking behind me with the wheelchair just in case I got tired.

ENJOYING A BEAUTIFUL DAY 

On February 19th, it was a beautiful day outside, my girlfriend Michelle visited me and bought me a box of Godiva chocolates (they were DELICIOUS!!!).  Michelle took me outside to enjoy the weather, it felt good to get out of the building and enjoy some fresh air.


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CLIMBING STAIRS - February 20, 2017

This was my FIRST TIME practicing climbing stairs. It was very painful because I had to make sure my knees were "bending".  I practiced climbing stairs a few times before my session was over.

STAPLES REMOVED FROM KNEE - February 21, 2017

My doctor's assistant removed the staples from my knees.  The woman I call "my second mother" (one of my girlfriend's mother) went with me to my doctor's appointment.  The rehab facility provided transportation because I couldn't walk or drive.  I was very nervous about having the staples removed, I thought it was going to be very painful.  The nurse used a long staple remover to remove the staples.  I had my face covered while my second mother watched intensely.  It wasn't too painful, it felt like a pinch, the staples that were closer to my knee cap hurt more because my skin had started to wrap around the staples.

Once all of the staples were removed, the nurse put surgical tape on top of the incisions to keep the skin together while the incision continue to heal.  I could take a shower with the surgical strips in place, I was not to remove the strips because as the incision healed, the strips would fall off on their own.  I would wake up to find the strips in my bed or on the floor.

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PREPARING TO GO HOME - March 1, 2017

Before I could go home, during one of my occupational therapy session, I had to prepare something in the kitchen while using my walker.  My therapist decided I would make a cake.  This required me to work on my balance, standing balance and safety in the kitchen.  I had to reach for dishes, open the refrigerator to get ingredients.  I had to turn on the stove, prepare the cake mix and put the cake in the oven and wash the dishes.  The staff said the cake was good.


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HEALING OF INCISION - March 3, 2017

It's been 3 weeks since I had my surgery.  The doctors at the rehab facility said I was healing well.  I had second thoughts about posting what my incisions looked like.  Below is a picture once the surgical strips started falling off.  It took me a long time to look at my incisions.

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I made great process walking with the walker.  I started walking straighter and my walk was more normal and smoother.

HOME SWEET HOME - March 6, 2017

After spending 3 1/2 weeks in rehab, it was time for me to go "home".  I was looking forward to going home to sleep in my own bed and sleeping through the night without someone waking me up to take my vitals or to give me some medicine.  I could now watch television without worrying about disturbing somebody.  I could eat well seasoned food and I could sleep as long as I wanted the next day.  It felt good to finally be going home.  One of my girlfriends picked me from rehab to take me home.  I said my "good-byes" to all of the staff.  They were happy that I was finally able to go home.  They asked me to come back to let them know how I was doing.

Once I got home, I got settled and just took in the atmosphere of being back home after being gone for 1 month.  I had to start scheduling "In-Home Therapy".

FEELING GRATEFUL - March 9, 2017

Before I went into the hospital, a lot of people offered to bring me food once I got home from the hospital.  Well, one of my sewing sisters and facebook friends "LaVeeda Monroe" told me she was going to bring me some food to last me for a week.  When LaVeeda arrived at my house, I was shocked to see all of the food she prepared for me.  It was enough food for two weeks.

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STARTING IN-HOME THERAPY - March 11, 2017

Today was the first day for In-Home physical therapy.  I was looking forward to this day because I was ready to improve my recovery and healing so I can begin to doing things for myself to get back to normalcy.  A therapist came to my house twice a week to instruct me on my exercises and a nurse came to my house once a week.  I was recovering so well, the nurse stopped coming because I no longer needed to be checked out by them once a week.  I was still using my walker to get around the house.  The days the therapist didn't come, I still did my exercises because I was DETERMINED to get back to my "ole self".  The In-Home Therapy was scheduled for 3 weeks then I would to to Out-Patient Therapy.  About a week before I started Out-Patient Therapy I started walking with a cane, I was sooo happy because I was due back to work soon and I didn't want to go back to work using a walker.


UPDATE - MARCH 15, 2017

I've been home for two weeks now, I'm improving each day.  I have In-Home physical therapy 2-3 times a week along with a nurse visit once a week. The therapist said I'm doing good and healing well.  The therapist is going to have me practice getting in and out of my car this week so I can practice driving again this weekend.

I still have stiffness and swelling in my knees.  The incisions are healing nicely and I'm constantly putting 100% cocoa butter on them to help with the healing.  All of the stripes have fallen off my knees.

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IN-HOME THERAPY STOPPED - March 24, 2017

Today was my last day for In-Home Therapy, I would be on my own to do my exercises for the next week until I start Out-Patient Therapy.  I made sure I did my exercises EVERYDAY because if I didn't my knees would get really, really stiff where it would be hard for me to move.  I wanted to make sure I kept my range of motion going to prepare me for Out-Patient Therapy.

OUT-PATIENT EVALUATION - March 27, 2017

Today was the first day for my Out-Patient Physical Therapy, instead of doing exercises, I was evaluated on my range of motion and to see how much I could bend my knees.

OUT-PATIENT THERAPY STARTED - April 4, 2017

Today was the first day of my outpatient therapy, I rode the recumbent stationary bike to warm up before I began my exercises.  My therapist bent my knees to improve the range of motion, it was very painful, I shed a few tears. I had to do a few leg extensions and a lot of stretches which also helps with the range of motion.  My knees were very stiff.

2 1/2 MONTHS AND RETURN TO WORK - April 10, 2017

Today was my first day back at work since February 3, 2017. A lot of people thought I came back too soon.  I do not have a stressful or strenuous job, I sit all day so I did not have to worry about overworking my knee.  Everyone was happy to have me back at work and it felt good to be out of the house.

I had a follow-up doctor's appointment on April 18th, I'm still walking with a cane, the doctor examined my knee and said everything was progressing fine.  He told me to continue with physical therapy and he will see me in 6 weeks.

PHYSICAL THERAPY CONTINUES

On April 27th I was evaluated for mobility, strengthen and range of motion.  My therapist suggested that I do one more month because I still needed to work on my range of motion.

I visited my doctor, he approved the one more month of physical therapy.  On May 5th, I started an additional month of physical therapy.  My therapist worked on me walking without a cane.  I was NOT ALLOWED to come into the facility using my cane, I could bring it in with me but I had to carry it, LOL!!!  He also worked on taking the limp out of my walk which became very challenging because I still had pain in my left leg.

I had some days were I did not have to use the cane, then there were other days where I had to use the cane.  We could not figure out why this was happening.  Sometimes the weather, such as rain, would affect the feeling in my knees.

FIRST TIME GOING OUT SINCE HAVING SURGERY - MAY 6TH

My girlfriend of more than 25 years was celebrating her 50th birthday.  She sent me an invite, I told her I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it because I was still walking with my cane.  She told me it did not matter that I was walking with a cane, she still wanted to me come.  I almost felt like I was becoming a hostage to using the cane, I had used it as a reason for not going out enjoying my family and friends. 

I decided to take the cane and attend the birthday party and I'm glad I did.  It was good to see my girlfriend and to help her celebrate her birthday.  I had a wonderful time.

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DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS

June 16th - I went to the doctor, I told my doctor I'm still having pain in my left knee, he tested my range of motion, that was good.  He took X-rays, they showed everything is lined up right and there is no swelling.  He questioned me about me still using the cane, he asked me if I was sure I still needed the cane.  I told him yes, my knee hurts when I walk.  He said he doesn't know why I'm having pain when I walk.  He told me to continue to ride the bike and do my leg extensions, he scheduled me to come back in 8 weeks.

August 11th - It's been 8 weeks since the last time I went to the doctor, I'm still having pain in my left knee and I'm still using the cane.  I physically showed my doctor the area where I'm having pain.

This was the doctor's diagnosis:

The area where I'm having the pain is where they had to do a lot of clean-up work inside my knee.

He said I'm being impatient with the process.  It may take a year for me to start feeling normal again.

The X-ray shows everything is fine.

If the pain is not gone in 3 months (November), he will do a CT Scan to see what is exactly going on.

I go back in November.

That's it for now.  I know this was a very long blog, but I wanted to share my experience having bilateral knee replacement.





January 19, 2017

WHY I SEW




I was reading a fellow blogger's blog Anita by Design, she announced her 1-Year Anniversary of blogging and she was having a GIVEAWAY, you had to comment by telling her something about yourself, such as "How long you've been sewing, what do you like about sewing, do you sew for yourself only or for others?", then there was another post asking "Are you a blogger?". Well, I posted a very long comment about why I sew, how and why I started sewing to the wrong post.  I posted my comment to the "Are you a blogger?"  LOL!!!  I spoke with Anita to let her know what I had done and that she could remove it since it was posted to the wrong blog post.  Anita is such a sweetheart, she said she will leave it "because she thought my post was a powerful one, and in her heart, she truly believe someone out there needs to hear it."  I told Anita I would post my comment to my blog, so below is "Why I Sew"

I began sewing in High School. My mother was a single mother at the time, we didn't have a lot of money, I'm the oldest of five children, I have two aunts, we are 3 and 4 years apart in age.  When it was time for us to get new clothes, my sisters and brothers got new clothes and I had to wear my aunts clothes because we were close in age and just about the same size. Moving forward to High School, when it was time for me to take Home Economics, it was a choice between cooking and sewing. I didn't want to learn how to cook, I wanted to learn how to sew, so I wouldn't have to worry about wearing someone else's clothes again.

The sewing class was only offered for one class session at that time, after I completed the class, I asked the sewing instructor if I could come to her class during one of my free periods to sew?  She told me "yes", but I would have to sew in the back of the classroom so I wouldn't disturb the class while she was teaching.  I agreed, so I would take my materials to school and I couldn't wait for my free class period to start.  I would head to her classroom with my sewing materials and sit in the back of the class to sew.

Moving forward, I started reading books and I grew so much in my sewing that I would make a skirt at night at my dining room table and wear it the next day.  As I grew in my sewing, I would go the mall and look at clothes that I wanted to duplicate, I would take pattern pieces from several patterns to create a unique garment (in sewing it's called "Frankenpattern").  I was sewing as a "hobby", my friends kept telling me I needed to take my sewing to the next level. I didn't see what they saw in my sewing.  Some of my friends told me I didn't have the confidence in my sewing to move forward.  I didn't like hearing that, I tried to force myself to see what they saw but I couldn't see it so I continued to sew as a "hobby".  I was making 90% of my clothes at that time.

Years went by before I would see for myself that I was a very good sewer (I didn't consider myself a seamstress at that time).  One day it was as if a light bulb went off and that's when I saw what everybody had been telling me for years.

In 2006, I created my home based sewing business "CreationsByLaToria".  I started sewing for others and I advertised on Craigslist and I would leave my business cards in Hancock's Fabrics that was near my house.  At that time, 80% of my business came from Hancock's fabrics because the employees knew me from stopping by there on a regular basis and I would help other customers pick their fabric and supplies when I saw them looking confused.  I made a name for myself in that store.  LOL!!!  The employees told me to leave my business cards in the store and with them too so they can pass them out to customers who are looking for a seamstress.  During prom season, just about all of my clients were referred to me by the employees at Hancock's fabrics.  My business started booming, it got to the point that I stopped advertising on Craigslist (I'm glad I did because of the horror stories I would hear about people answering ads on Craigslist).  Now about 80% of my business comes from referrals.

Also in 2006, I joined the American Sewing Guild as well as a neighborhood sewing club where I'm still a member.  Being a member of a sewing club allowed me to be around like-minded people, learn different sewing techniques, make projects I would not normally make and I enjoy our annual trip to New York's Fashion Garment District.

In 2010, I was unemployed due to a contract ending, I needed some extra money to make ends meet.  I was talking to one of my girlfriends on the phone about trying to find a way to make some extra money.  She told me "you have it in the palm of your hands".  I looked at my hands, LOL!!!  I was confused.  She said "teach sewing".  I said "Really?"  She was teaching Interior Decorating at a local Community College, she was well known there.  She told me to call the college and ask if they have a need for a sewing class and to let them know she referred me.  I did just that.  They did not have a sewing class but they were open to me creating one. 

The Administrator told me to submit a proposal describing the class I want to teach, what days and time I want to teach.  I submitted my proposal and it was accepted with NO changes.  I started teaching sewing in 2010 and my business blossomed from that.  I teach different levels of sewing, i.e, Beginning I and II, Intermediate Sewing, Advanced Sewing, and Fitting.  I now teach at several Community Centers in my area, and also at home as well.

Sewing is no longer a hobby for me, it's MY PASSION!!!!!  

Thanks for visiting my blog.


Your talent is God's gift to you.  What you do with it is your gift back to God.  
                                                                                                       Leo Buscaglia




December 30, 2016

2016 IN REVIEW

Hello Everyone,

WOW!!!!  I can't believe 2016 is coming to an end already!!! It seems like it just started.  I was busy the majority of 2016 with sewing and teaching others how to sew.

Part of 2016 was very challenging for me with the loss of a job, from that challenge my passion for sewing grew which led me to teach more sewing classes.  I taught people I met on Facebook as well as people that were referred to me by friends.  I've developed some long lasting friendships through my sewing and teaching.  I'm happy to say, I'm back working and I'm still sewing and teaching others how to sew.

I didn't blog as much as I wanted to in 2016, I'm going to make a conscious effort to blog more in 2017.

First let me thank GOD for this talent HE has blessed me with.  This talent has allowed me to make my clients visions come to life, it has allowed me to bring life back to sewing for those people who told me they haven't sewn since high school or they haven't sewn in the last 10, 15 or 20 years.  I will be remiss not to mention that this talent has also been a source of income to pay bills or to save money to purchase more fabric (that I really need, LOL!!!) and to purchase sewing supplies.

Let's take a look at my sewing projects for 2016.  

WARNING!!!! This post is picture of heavy.

January



February 



March


April

May

June

August


September


October



November






I wish everyone a Happy New Year and may GOD continue to bless you.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

December 25, 2016

CLASS TRIP TO FABRIC STORE

Hello Everyone,

As some of you know, I'm a sewing instructor as well as a seamstress.  I teach sewing at various Community Centers in Prince George's County Maryland and I'm also an Adjunct Professor at the College of Southern Maryland located in LaPlata, Maryland.

Normally, I give my students a supply list and they go purchase what's on the list by themselves, BUT they come back with a lot of complaints from not being able to find the right fabric, they don't get help from the store employees, they don't understand how to read the pattern to purchase the right size pattern or the correct amount of fabric....and the list goes on.

I decided to try a different method.  At the beginning of the class, I spent half the class time discussing the project, taking body measurements for their garments and I spent the other half of the class time going to the fabric store with the students to help explain everything to them.  They really appreciated having me there to answer ALL of their questions.  This method was a BIG HIT!!! Moving forward I will make this my standard method for the first day of my NEW classes.

The students are looking through the pattern books to select a pattern. The class project was a blouse.







These two young ladies are picking out their notions for their blouse.



I'm letting this student read and understand the pattern herself first before I step in to help her.  She is really concentrating.



She figured out how much fabric she needed, now she's at the cutting table.



She's getting more fabric cut.


Thanks for stopping by.