30 July 2008

When to jump?

This is my family at Hughes (Canberra) in March 1967 - me in frog leg plaster, age 2 1/2 - one of many double hip spica casts (the brown thing on my knee is a leather pad my dad made to protect the plaster cast when I was pulling myself around - I got very strong arms!). Don't you love my mum's cooool glasses and hairdo?! And don't even look at my pesky little brother in the bassinette - he's a lovely guy now, but it took a while ;)

So yeah. Saw the surgeon today. Nice young man, really liked him. He agrees that my hip joint needs full replacement. There's a slight possibility that reshaping & resurfacing the femur head might be best - still major surgery, but not a full joint replacement. But really, the writing is on the wall, there is moderate osteoarthritis in the joint, and it needs to be replaced.

The problem with a joint replacement is that once it's done, that's it - if (when) it fails, you have to have more surgery to replace it. And the life of a replacement is finite. 10-15 years, at a guess. 20 years if you're lucky. So once I have this done, I have to KEEP having it done. The average age for this sort of surgery is the mid-70s - I'm 30 years below that, and looking at repeat surgeries.

He was very sympathetic, and said it was hardly surprising that I had PTSD. He said the anaesthetist can help there, and make sure I'm doped out well before leaving my room for surgery, and sedated / calmed as I require.

(Me in the Royal Canberra Hospital with a pretty nurse and a pile of new toys - this photo was in The Canberra Times newspaper; I think it was to illustrate a story on the newly opened Children's Ward. May 1966?).

The unexpected thing is that since Dr Smith (really his name!) is only just back in Australia after working in the UK, his list is short, and basically, there's practically no wait 0_o . So once I make a decision, it's all on. Erk. I was expecting a 1-2 year waiting list...

The ball is entirely in my court now, no pressure at all. I have some scary stuff to read, about what happens before, during and after the surgery, and all the associated medical risks of such an operation, and the lengthy rehab afterwards. I want to talk with my other doctors / physio / family too.

It's basically a decision about quality of life. How much more pain, weakness, and restricted movement do I want to put up with? I'm used to the weakness and restricted movement - I've had those life long, but the pain is becoming pretty constant, despite my medications and physio. Offset that with the risks of surgery. At least there's no cost - thank goodness for Medicare!

Well, I'll (eventually) have an excuse to never ever go jogging or play high impact sports - some of the things you can't do with an artificial hip. Not that I do them anyway, but, y'know ... nice to have an excuse ... And I can make all the security screeny thingies go beep.

28 July 2008

Jejune Jumper Felt Books

Oddly enough, I don't own a jumper. I have cardigans, and my lovely Lara, but I keep nicking hubby's Jet Jumper, which is frankly much too big, and, well yes, it does belong to him, after all. I spend hours sitting here working at my computer, freezing my begeebers off, and need to get warmer - now!

Hence my Jejune Jumper .... this is how it looks after 1 day of knitting :

And after 2 days ...

Pattern is Stephanie Japel's Raglan from the Top Down general 'recipe' :

Yarn is Bendigo Rustic 12 ply, in Red Tweed (the colour in the top photo is most accurate).

Design details are being made up by me as I go ... 3 x 1 ribbing on the sleeves, 1 x 1 ribbing along the sides (ie under the arms), darts under the bust.

It fits really well, and I love it ... at this rate of knitting, it should be done in a week or so!

Some booky goodness to share :

I've long lusted after this book, and when I had some credit to cash in (from AC Neilson's Your Voice surveys), I took the plunge!

This is a beautifully designed book, with clear instructions and photos, and bursting with colour.

Betz White reveals her secrets on how to make her gorgeous trademark cupcake pincushions, and a whole raft (or should that be 'basket'?) of felted projects - all using felted jumpers as the base. Some are embellished with needle felting. There are blankets, and pillows, and bowls, and hats, and mittens, and more! Time to hit the op shops (like I need an excuse...) !

This second book was a true indulgence, real eye candy stuff. A translated Japanese craft book (Kyuuto! = Cute!) by Saori Yamazaki, featuring the most stunningly sweet needle and water felted goodies. My first Japanese craft book.

I'm not sure how well I'll go at these crafts (a tendency to sore hands and wrists may not match well with the repeated movements of needle felting) but am certainly willing to give them a shot! The cuteness will be worth it!

27 July 2008

Book up for grabs

Well, it's been an embarrassingly long time since Janette sent this to me, but I've FINALLY finished reading The Friday Night Book Club, and am happy to send / give it to the first person who comments who is in Australia. You need to have a blog to participate.

I have registered it on BookCrossing, too, so after you've read this book (ie this particular copy), you can leave a journal entry there (it's free, and you can remain anonymous if you like).

I don't normally read chick lit, so don't have a standard to judge it against, but I quite liked it - when I picked it up (obviously too infrequently in the past mumble months) I would always read more than I was intending.

25 July 2008


Thank you everyone for such wonderful comments on my last post ... you are all so thoughtful and insightful! Where would I be without such friends?! I'll be printing them all out and keeping them close by!

I'm feeling better about things today. I had my hip x-rays yesterday (and they called me back after 2 hours to have more taken!), and while lying on the cold metal bed while the machine did its thing (an experience I've had all my life, at intervals), I felt totally calm, and could really embrace that this whole thing will only happen minute-by-minute, and I can cope with that (mostly, on good days).

It's when I look at the whole experience lying ahead of me in its unknown totality that I freak out. So I'll do my best not to dwell on it, and not talk about it unless I have to. I've already written about my PTSD on my Medical History form sent by the surgeon (the "list of surgeries" will be an attached sheet - there was only a piddling 3 lines to write in!). And as Honeygo said, I can choose this time, and have a say as an adult over what happens to me. It does make a difference.

Yesterday's Jejune Day was really nice (x-rays notwithstanding). A bit of shopping at the DiaperDome (our family's name for our local mall, the Hyperdome) - treated myself to a Cadfael DVD - Series 1. Back home I got a lot of knitting done on my top-down raglan making-it-up-as-I-go 12 ply Rustic jumper (piccies soon), sipped tea, got a taste for sugared tamarind from the Asian supermarket (took a while, but I got there! Very tart and salty and sweet all at once!), and enjoyed watching Derek Jacobi solve those mysteries. We have the full Cadfael book collection, and have reread them all many times.

Now for some long overdue pictures of my completed Lara - which I finished a few weeks ago. It's great, I wear it a lot, and it's SO warm. It doesn't really keep my front warm (hence the quick jumper I've just started), and while I can pin it together, it isn't a flattering look. The Bendigo Alpaca pills something terrible. But I really love it, and it's very very pretty and cosy.

23 July 2008

Hip Stuff

So - as you may know, I had a severe congenital dislocated hip, that was picked up really late (I was 20 months old). Between the ages of 2 and 7 I had an osteotomy and 3 open reductions on it, the final one (ie the only one that worked) was experimental surgery by Dr Southwick (a pioneer in the field) at Yale University Hospital.

That last sentence in no way sums up the utter horror of what I experienced as a small child, mostly while in hospital. True physical torture, carried out by strangers who - while they were helping me - were terrifying to a young child. In the late 60s your parents weren't allowed to stay with you overnight. When I refused to eat (as one way I could control what was happening to me when I was 3 or so), the nurses pinned me on the floor and force fed me. Suffocating black rubber oxygen masks were forcibly held down over my face on the various operating tables (they didn't give pre-op meds to kids in those bad old days). I nearly bled to death. I won't go on.

I have PTSD as a result; I can't watch medical shows, the smell of black rubber makes me ill, and I can barely talk about this stuff without crying.

I developed arthiritis in the joint about 15 years ago, as was expected; the repaired joint has lasted longer than anyone thought possible... after I'd had my 2 kids, my Mum remembered that the surgeon had said he thought the joint might collapse during pregnancy (and yup, it was painful enough both times!). My leg is also twisted and short.

So to the present day. My physio thinks I should have the joint replaced while I'm still young (for this type of surgery). Just back from seeing my specialist sports physician this morning, and he agrees. I now need yet more hip x-rays, and need to see an orthopedic surgeon to get 'an opinion' on hip replacement. Next Wednesday.

While I intellectually know that the whole thing - once I have it done, whenever that may be - will go smoothly, and it's a very successful surgery, and I won't be tortured, and hospitals are much nicer places than they were 40 years ago, and they can even fix my leg length difference, and the pain won't be too bad (and it's not the pain I'm worried about, really), and I should get a huge improvement in my quality of life .. despite all this, on a deep emotional level I am still a petrified 2 year old.

Not quite sure how I'm going to cope with it all ... one hour at a time, or even one minute at a time if needs be, I suppose, and with my Jon Kabat-Zinn Mindfulness sessions on my iPod, and all my dear friends and family, and yarn ... but MAN I wish they could just knock me out at home, and I could wake up in hospital with the whole damn thing done.

21 July 2008

The Presence

This is an illusion scarf for my son - he and I are both big Nine Inch Nails fans (I listen to Ghosts every day!), so when I found this pattern on the interwebs, I knew I had to make it for him!

The design includes The Presence (a hand reaching out), and the NIN logo in the middle, and another hand on the other side. In Trent's song 'My Violent Heart' on the The Fragile album, the hand image is encoded in a spectrogram within the music! VERY cool. You can even download a whole new NIN album for free - The Slip is Trent's thank you to his fans. It's brilliant...

Anyway - the pattern is here (PDF link). Son chose the colours - both are Naturally yarn from NZ. I think it would be a bit clearer if we'd been able to get pure black for the contrast colour, but the dark grey seems to work OK, and the hidden image certainly is visible at low viewing angles!

I have a hand-drawn but gridded colour chart which I'm happy to scan and email people (the one in the pattern isn't so easy to read, so I drew a new one up).

17 July 2008

Showing Off

I have quite a few knitting projects to show off - and thought I'd start with these Show-Off Stranded Socks, which I'm knitting for my friend Penny (she of Viennese fame) in exchange for boxes of the scrumptious Heiß Liebe (Hot Love!) raspberry vanilla tea. When it isn't being confiscated by Australian Quarantine. (I wouldn't mind so much if they were at least consistent - we've had one shipment opened and approved by Quarantine, and another one opened, confiscated and destroyed - same tea, same ingredients!)

Anyway - on to the sock. I'm a slow sock knitter. This one is now up to the heel, which is an unusual construction, so I'll need some quiet time to figure it out. I'd better get a wriggle on before winter hits in Austria!

The pattern is Show-Off Stranded Socks, by Anne Campbell.
Wool is Opal Feelings (bought in Vienna by Penny, and not confiscated by Quarantine ;).
Needles are beautiful short Brittany birch needles (a gift from Taph last year).
These aren't colours I would normally knit with, but they're really cheery and lovely, so I'm glad I'm getting the chance!

I've finished so many things of late I only have TWO things on the needles! How did that happen?! This state of affairs clearly cannot be allowed to continue .. stay tuned!

11 July 2008

Meet Mort and Binky

OK, I know this is going to be either an 'Aaaaaw' or 'Eeeeew' post - but I'd like you to meet Dotter's new babies, brothers Mort and Binky (yes, of Terry Pratchett fame). They are her 17th birthday present.

They are black hooded 'fancy' rats, and just delightful (I must admit a prior involvement - I had a gorgeous little pet rat called Sarah when I was about 10). They're about 5 weeks old, and extreeeemely cute! Binky is very cuddly and Mort is more adventurous ...

A few good points of rats over mice as pets :

1) They don't smell bad

2) They can be litter trained, and don't wee and poo all over the place

3) They love being petted, and will relax and fall asleep in your hand while you rub their back

4) They're much more intelligent, and can even learn their own name, simple commands and tricks

5) They are curious, friendly and sociable, and love to play

I know, if you're not into rodents, well, you're not into rodents. But since we can't have a bigger pet (ie a dog), because of renting, this is a good alternative.

08 July 2008

A brush with painting

It's been a long time since I felt like painting anything at all, let alone a new Knitting Art artwork. The past few months have been pretty mind-numbingly exhausting and depressing, what with Dotter's illnesses, my beloved pup Lily's death, and The Endless Book Review.

But after having a Jejune Day, the urge returned. This is a painting I planned and sketched out in January, and has been getting dusty since then. It's finally getting some colours...

It's a bit tricky figuring out how to paint something that looks like Fair Isle, without having to paint every stitch in detail! This is the first level of paint towards that end ...

Jejune Days will be a permanent fixture!

Lastly - Happy 17th Birthday to my dearest Dotter. She is stoic in the face of incredible hardship, pain and illness, and still has a sense of humour. She is intelligent, creative, talented, wise beyond her young years, and my heart's delight. I can't imagine life without her.

05 July 2008

Oh solio mio....!

This is my Solio! It comes in a nice box, which is all recyclable ...

It has adapter tips, one of which fits my phone!

It has cables! And a sticky-on-the-window thingy!

See, it can sit on your window like this ...

Or it can be propped up on a pencil and sit on the ground in the sunshine.

It can charge up my phone and my iPod!

Seriously, this is one of the most beautifully designed, solid, clever little things I've ever seen, and I just love being able to recharge my phone and iPod with solar energy. It should have paid for itself within a couple of years. But money aside, I can use grid electricity just that little bit less immediately!

The Solio is UK designed - and used worldwide - you can find out more here, and if you're in Australia, you can buy one of your very own here.

03 July 2008

Mission - Wristwarmers!

Last year my Secret Pal Abbey sent me 2 balls of Mission Falls machine washable wool - it's the softest stuff! I finally found the perfect project - a pair of A Little Twist Wristwarmers. They're a quick knit!

Then Dotter tried them on - now, she finds most wool things itchy, even sock yarn bothers her. So when she realised that she could wear Mission Falls on her skin with NO itching - well, the pressure was on. But I refused to give her my lovely new wristwarmers, even though she kept stealing them!

But there was 40g left over, so I decided to go for a second pair - smaller, shorter, not so many cables ... this is how much yarn I had left over :

Here we are, both with our Mission Falls wristwarmers (only mine are better, but don't tell Dotter!) :

The only modification I'd do (and I figured this out a year ago when I first knit them, and then forgot about it, duh), is to make the thumb opening a little more snug - it's a bit 'gappy'. When casting off the thumb gusset, cast off 1 stitch less than called for (ie 12 instead of 13) and then in the next row knit the extra un-cast-off-stitch (ie on the *left* side of the gusset) in with the last stitch on the *right* edge of the gusset - this helps to close up the hole that appears otherwise.

It's Jejune Day again today! I reinstated this last week, after nearly going nuts again. It's SO GOOD. Helping keep me sane(r) and happy.