Working Smarter

The development of "Smart Insulin"
would reduce the 
Mark on the Body
made by T1D.

Less blood on our hands
has gotta be
A Good Thing.

I think Jack would agree...don't you?

"One Finger at a Time" - December 29,2014.


Today is the First Anniversary of my Mark on the Body project, which means that yesterday was my 365th day of stitching.  Here's how the piece looks, 1 year in:

Left Hand

Right Hand
Stitches representing blood testing - 6,205

Left Shoulder
Right Shoulder


Stitches representing insulin injections - 8,760

Before T1D - Left

Before T1D - Right

Stitches representing days before T1D diagnosis - 1,095

More than the numbers
Type 1 Diabetes leaves its mark
on the body
on the mind
on the family
on life.

National Diabetes Awareness Month 2014
finishes tomorrow.

The impact of T1D marches on.

In loving memory

Howard Martin Blank
Friend, husband, father
Born November 29, 1952 
RIP  August 9, 2006

October 29, 2014 - Spreading

The 'spread' of the stitches is even more evident this month...marking 11 months of stitching.

The Abdomen: Spreading Toward the Centre of the Belly

Left Hand -- Spreading Over the Fingers

Pre-diagnosis -- Spreading Ever So Slightly

The impact of the disease -- its Mark on the Body -- compared to the "impact" of days pre-diagnosis -- is really beginning to become obvious....

To love is to suffer -- did I
know this when first
I asked you for your love?
I did not.  And yet until
I knew, I could not know what
I asked, or gave.  I gave
a suffering that I took: yours
and mine, mine when yours;
and yours I have feared most.
                                 - Duality, Section I - Wendell Berry*

*"Entries" - 1994 - from New and Collected Poems, Counterpoint Press 2012.

September 29, 2014: Rounding the Curve of the Year

It's raining today, and there's a breeze -- stiff at times -- that plays with the vine outside my window.  Fall is definitely here.

I've been working on "Mark" for 10 months now.  If the speed at which September disappeared is any indicator, the first anniversary of the project will be here before I know it.

I've taken a "full piece" photo this month to show how the stitching is spreading, particularly on the abdominal section to which I moved at the beginning of the month:

Mark on the Body - WIP, Sept. 29,2014 (C)

Taking a closer look, here's one hand:

and the other -- the one on which I'm working right now:

Here's the "blue sky" above one upper arm:

and working across the abdomen:

To live in this world
you must be able 
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver
Beacon Press, 2004

August 29, 2014: After Month Eight was time to "rotate"!

Persons with T1D know that insulin injections are hard on the skin and muscle tissues.  That's why they're taught to "rotate" their injection sites.

At the end of last month, I figured it was about time I rotated my stitching, too -- at least the stitching that represents those insulin injections.  So...I moved from the upper arms to the abdomen/buttocks. (Remember, this is a two-dimensional piece, so that area on this body form serves for both.)

This part of the quilt is very large, and I felt I couldn't keep it from puckering -- hence the introduction of a hoop into the process.

As I stitched, I remembered how my DH used to floor me when he injected his hind end.  He was amazingly flexible, and could turn his body in such a way as to do it with apparent ease, twisted like a pretzel!

Stitching continues on the other areas too...

Soon all fingers will be filled

See the blue? Ah...the days before diagnosis...


The number of days between the start of this project
and today.

The number of days between this

August 9, 1975

and this

August 9, 2006

marks on the body
marks on a memory
marks on a life

Sunshine and Shadow

July 29: eight months of work on "MOB", as I've come to know this piece (with affection).  Early this morning I photographed it in the Outdoor Studio:

Looking at the photos it occurred to me that all lives -- whether or not consumed with chronic, terminal illness -- are touched by sunshine and shadow. 
Laughter and tears.  
Joy and sorrow. 
 Pleasure and pain.

This is a comforting thought.

June 29, 2014

Sunday marked seven months of stitching.  This past month its been easier to stitch every day, rather than miss one or two and have to catch up.  

Upper  Right Arm
June 29, 2014

The work is steady, soothing, lovely to do in the cool of the morning or evening outdoors.  

Right Hand
June 29, 2014

Sometimes the purpose gets lost in the rhythm,
as if making the marks is part of the rhythm of everyday living.

Six Months!

I began this piece in the cold and snowy days of the end of November...but this week, I was able to mark the 6-month "anniversary" (May 29) with a photo shoot in my "Outdoor Studio":

152 Days Out

Stitching continues.  As of April 29, 2014...

Right hand
Reluctant to stitch up into the hand till all fingers are covered.

Top stitches: outside the body; bottom stitches: right upper arm

Colour Key:
RED:  blood sugar testing -17 stitches per day
PALE BLUE:  life before diagnosis - 3 stitches per day
FLESH TONES insulin injections - 24 stitches per day

For more information about the calculations, visit THIS POST.  :-)

Reason for Hope

I'm a bit behind in posting for March 29, which marked four months on this project.  A good part of the delay was brought about by a hard-drive crash on the evening of March 17 (the fact that it was St. Patrick's day is purely coincidental!)  My computer's now repaired, so it's all systems go from here on out!

In this post, I wanted to share the hope and expectation I felt after leaving the "Infosium" in Edmonton on March 16.  

JDRF approaches its research on three fronts:

  • Finding a cure for Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1);
  • Finding treatments to improve the lives of those living with TID; and
  • Finding ways to prevent the disease in the first place.

The speaker at this year's "Infosium" was Dr. Paul Fernyhough, who has come from the UK to work at the University of Manitoba in the area of neuropathy.  That is, he's working to understand how T1D affects the body's nervous system, effectively "killing" the nerve endings and resulting in inability to feel temperature and exernal sources of pain, in producing painful sensations in limbs, and in slow deterioration of internal functions such as swallowing, digestion, etc. 

In his presentation, Dr. Fernyhough talked about research in general, and about his work in particular.  He explained the process by which pharmaceuticals are discovered, developed and brought to market (or not).  Starting from scratch can be a very expensive and time-consuming process.  Human clinical trials aren't entered into without careful consideration! 

So...researchers into the treatment of diabetic neuropathy are now looking at "re-purposing" drugs in current use to find out if they are relevant, and they are also looking at rare diseases that also produce neuropathy to see what drugs might work with them.

At present, Dr. Fernyhough is involved with two other scientists -- one in San Diego and one in Toronto -- in developing a medication that acts to regenerate the dendrites (branches that go out from neurons and carry "messages" to and from our nervous system) that are destroyed by T1D.   A company -- Winsantor, Inc. -- has been founded to produce and test the medication -- pirenzepine -- that is their current focus.  This drug has currently being used for the treatment of gastric ulcers.  The fact that it is well known and already used by humans (having been tested for safety) makes it more cost-effective for Dr. Fernyhough and his team to research alternative uses for it -- such as its affect on neurons in T1D patients, and perhaps in cancer patients who suffer nerve damage during/after chemotherapy.

The exciting news is that this drug can be administered topically -- in gel form, on the skin -- and yet it has been found to be absorbed into the circulatory system so that it could travel internally to work on nerve damage that affects the gastrointestinal tract, for example -- as well as working to repair nerve damage in feet and fingers, hands and arms.

Even more exciting is the fact that there is a clinical trial with humans being scheduled for this fall (2014).

When I think of the losses my DH suffered from the damage to his neurons: feeling in his feet (eventual amputation of both legs below the knee); feeling and mobility in his fingers; a general slowing of his entire gastro-intestinal tract, affecting swallowing, digestion and elimination of waste; and loss of sensitivity in his aural canal, resulting in gradual loss of hearing...

I am so thankful for the work of Dr. Paul Fernyhough and his colleagues, funded significantly by JDRF.

A second 'full' hand -- WIP, March 29, 2014

P.S. At the "Infosium" I met Barbara Armstrong, the Regional Manager of JDRF (North-Central Alberta and Northwest Territories); there is a possibility I will be taking "MOB" on the road to meet potential corporate donors in Red Deer in the not-too-distant future.  Meanwhile, the journey continues...

February 28, 2014: Preparing to Rotate

As any conscientious person with Type 1 Diabetes will tell you, insulin injections do nasty things to your skin and muscle tissue when you inject it into the same (or close to) site on a habitual basis.  This is why people with T1D (and their care-givers) are taught to 'rotate sites' on the body...and why my "body" has distressed areas in several places.

Since I began this work in November, I've 'rotated' only the blood-testing 'sites' -- because I "ran out of fingers" on one hand.  I've long given up the notion that the "person" portrayed in MOB is going to have a realistic illustration of the places used for blood-letting.  Here's where I am on "Hand #2" as of February 28, 2014:

Yep...creeping along the middle finger of the second of the two hands...which means that before this project is over, both hands will be covered in 'pin pricks for blood testing', however unrealistic that is.

And as of March 1, I've rotated the injection sites to a new area -- the other upper arm.  Along with that, I'm stitching the blue "air" on the side of that other upper arm, for symmetry (perhaps) and for illustration of how few care-free days there were in my DH's life prior to his diagnosis.  Here's what the first arm/side looks like after 3 months of stitching:

I'm still planning to go to the Sunday afternoon Symposium in Edmonton on March 16.  If you are in the area, and have an interest in T1D research, you might check it out.  Full details -- and an RSVP -- are HERE (scroll down).  NOTE: If you are somewhere else in Canada, this same link will tell you where to find the one nearest you.

Everyone has a cause.  This one is mine.

What If?

Reading blogs as I stitch, I came to Judy's latest post.  I got to thinking about the consistent nature of her work -- her "patterns" are her own, and they are hand done --  peaceful, rhythmic and very, very intentional.  
I got to wondering...what would my life become, what would I become...if every piece I made from here on in were as intentionally, peacefully, gently created?

January 29, 2014: Running Out of Fingers

Today marks two months since I began this project.  I'm getting better and working each day's work on time, rather than letting the days pile up.

It's true that we are 'fearfully and wonderfully made' (Psalm 139:14); in real life, our skin generally heals over after being pricked.  Alas, however, my fabric fingers do not; they show every mark -- and after a mere 62 days, I've used up the "usual" spots on one hand where finger-pricks for blood sugar testing would have happened.  I've had to move on to the second hand.  Clearly, before this piece is finished, there will be needle marks all over the two-dimensional hands:

First Hand - January 2014

Second Hand as of January 29, 2014

The "air" (blue) and upper arm work continues apace; you should be able to get a closer view by clicking on the photo:

The silk thread (blue and flesh-coloured) has been a bit of a bear to work with, sliding silently out of the needle's eye when I least expect it, knotting up, splitting...but I've persisted because it gives me the tiny marks I want.  I've taken to praying before I begin stitching each day; blessedly, this seems to work.

I took a step outside my comfort zone this month, and posted a link to this blog on the JDRF Canada Facebook page.  Although no one has stopped to comment as a result (as far as I know), the page views have increased steadily.  I am still thinking about taking the work to the Edmonton Symposium in March...

Thanks for stopping by...pause now to remember someone you know who is dependent on insulin for his/her very survival.

Day 31: It's Been a Month

January 1, 2014.

Although I've been stitching faithfully every day, this post is a back-track to December 29, 2013 -- one month or 31 days with the piece.

"Air" and Upper Arm - Dec. 29, 2013
Fingers - Dec. 29, 2013
It's taken no time to realize I'm not going to be able to be true-to-life with these stitches.  The blue stitches in the "air" outside the body are going to be few and far between; the red stitches are going to take over both hands -- not just the finger-tips -- and the flesh-coloured stitches will land where they may.

I've also discovered that I can't miss more than one day.  Trying to do three days' worth of stitches just after Christmas was a chore, which misses the intent of the project.

There's a JDRF Symposium in Edmonton in March; wondering if I should attend -- and stitch while I'm there.  Hmmm....

On to 2014.

Day 8: A Full Week In

December 7, 2013.

The first week has passed with stitching every day.  I find myself in a modicum of awe (if awe can be experienced in small quantities) that I will be working on this piece in much the same way a year from now, and two years from now.

Judy Martin continues to inspire, with her post today about Canadian artist Paterson Ewen (1925-2002).  I'd never heard of him (a testament to my lack of formal art training), but am now enticed to explore and educate myself on his work.  I particularly like the fact that he attempted to build texture into his painting by switching from canvas to plywood as a substrate.  I think how much easier it is for us who work in textiles to create texture by layering, applique, stitch, felting, selection of materials...without the physical force required to create in his style.

Even my wee marks create texture:

8 Days of Stitch: Upper Arm and Air Above

8 Days of Stitch: Fingers

Marks to date (Nov. 29 - Dec. 6 inclusive):
  • Pre-diagnosis - Blue: 24
  • Injections - Flesh-tone: 192
  • Blood sugar tests - Red: 136

Day 1: First Marks

Mirror, Alberta, Canada
November 29, 2013.

N.B.: This will not be a daily post.  It might not even be weekly. Probably monthly...or as the Spirit leads.  My Scots Presbyterian/Methodist ancestors may be rolling over in their graves, but my Anglican forebears understand.  "It is what it is" and I listen for the call...

Today's stitching began far later than intended.  In the vernacular, "Life Got in the Way"...I upgraded my internet connections...I had to make fudge for the First (Annual?) Christmas Open House & Tea at the (Mirror & District) Museum, which happens Sunday...I had lunch with my friend C...I worked 2 hours in The Shop (not counting 1/2 hour travel time each way)...and finished a Christmas gift for my sister...

But I eventually managed....

First stitches ... "blue" on the left; "peach" on the right

I wonder how I'll fit all the finger-pricks onto the limited number of fingers...


Micaela Fitzsimmons said...
looking forward to the adventure... intriguing.
Judy Warner said...
You certainly have taken on a project, Margaret. I suspect it will give you a strong sense of achievement when you complete.