31 July 2009

Better progress & treating scars

My surgeon has spoken with my physiotherapist (who knows my hips best at the moment, and know how badly my deteriorating left hip is affecting my right hip and knee) - and he's bumped me up another category on the waiting list!

So I've gone from a Category 2b (which I gather means "in pain, disabled etc but condition not deteriorating") to Category 2a (in pain, disabled etc but condition is deteriorating). This hopefully means surgery in less than 6 months, although the scheduling isn't up to my surgeon, but the hospital.

So one part of me is saying "Yay!" and another part is saying "Ohshitohshitohshit!" - will be so very good to have it all DONE.

Here's another part of my 'surgery tool kit' - Bio Oil - this was recommended to me by other hip women, as a good way of treating the scars.

Mind you, I've lived with massive scars around the groin and down the side of my left leg nearly all my life - around 130 stitches - not to mention scars from 2 Caesarians (my pelvis is too deformed for babies to get out!) - so I don't know that a new scar will make much difference (and possibly they'll cut along the old main scar anyway). Still, I'll give this stuff a try.

Other advice I've heard about reducing / treating scars from surgery :

Use triple antibiotic ointment on your scar for a year (this will prevent the purple discoloration and visibility) - from a burn nurse.

Moisturiser is as good as any of the (much more expensive) scar preparations - it's the massaging action that is more important - rub it quite firmly to break up the scar tissue underneath - from an orthopedic surgeon.

Vitamin E oil can be good for smaller scars (but THR/PAO scars don't fall into this category!).

Cocoa butter can be good too. It's often marketed as 'stretch mark cream' for pregnant women.

After surgery, eat a good diet with plenty of protein (building blocks for the skin), avoid alcohol (dehydrates you and generally impacts on your health negatively), drink plenty of fluids. And rest, don't push the limits! Your body needs time to heal.

Follow your surgeon's advice on wound care. It probably won't be safe to apply ointments / creams until after the stitches are out / dissolved.

Don't put stress on the incision site by moving / lifting things etc - whatever movement affects the region. Avoid exposure of the scar to sunlight.

Once the wound has healed, firm massage can help even out the bumps or lumps.

About.com has a good article on the subject.

PS I'm nearing my 500th post (about 4 posts away), and will be giving away a free signed copy of my book "Word Searches for Dummies", chosen at random from anyone who leaves a comment - spread the word!

28 July 2009

Sorta kinda progress

So. Called my surgeon again today, had a good chat with his nurse Karen. Dr Smith has upgraded me to Category 2 (surgery within 90 days). Which is good. However, Canberra's waiting lists are so bad that this means I could still have a 6-12 month wait! Which is bad.

I gave Karen some more details about my situation, especially the bit where my physio has told me to 'stop walking' (medium-long distances, like mall shopping trips etc - around the house and local shops is ok). Sounds like I need to be Category 1 (urgent) for anything to happen ever!

Petal continues to grow, and is very chewy and bitey with teething. She's perched nicely on Dotter's arm here ...

... but then goes in for the Sneak Attack Ear Lick!
And she's getting spots! On her sweet little belly, and head, and neck .... so cute!

26 July 2009

Farmers' Market Challenge

This is my entry in Squirrelqueen's Farmers' Market Challenge! You might like to join in too in August - I think she runs it once a month. She writes : The purpose of this challenge is to raise awareness for purchasing locally produced foods. Be it fruits, vegetables, dairy products or related items we want to know what's available where you live.

I must admit I slept in a bit - it was a very cold overcast winter's day, bed was so much more appealing! But I rugged up warm, with plenty of handknits (of course - socks, jumper, fingerless gloves, scarf), and my bags and camera, and got there around 11am. So the first full-on rush from the early crowds was over, and some stalls were a little 'threadbare'.

The Southside Farmers' Market is a weekly local farmers' market held fairly near me - about 15 km away (9 miles). It's open for 3 hours (9am-noon) on Sundays - the same bunch of producers cycle through several markets in the Canberra region each weekend. They are all either local, or a 3- 4 hour drive away at the most.

It's held at a Technical College campus, in the car park, quadrangle, and inside the big sports hall. It's always packed!

Just a few of the many outdoors stallholders, all braving the elements!

Hot and tasty Maltese take-away food from a van ...

There weren't many tomatoes to be seen at this time of year ...

Lovely oranges on the back of a ute!

Inside the hall are a lot of farmers and producers - in addition to fresh fruit and vegies, you can find Macademia nuts and oils, locally grown olive oil, local wines, jams, mustards, honeys, olives, breads, meats, fish, sausages, soaps, pies, cakes, and even delicious chocolates!

Delicious locally made sausages, with a friendly sign :

Incredibly tempting chocolates from Lindsay & Edmunds (which I resisted, but I don't think I can be so strong next time!) :

These farmers from Cowra are there every week, with a wide range of Asian and European produce. They get the "funniest sign" prize - Pusley (parsley). But English isn't their first language, so I'm entirely forgiving.

Canberra has quite a good cool climate for grape growing and wine production!

There are about 3 bakeries at the Markets, with lovely fresh breads, focaccias, gluten-free breads, and much more. These are Italian loaves with olives.

I brought one of these Italian loaves (Black Pepper and Parmesan) home with me :

Here's what else I brought home for the family :

King Edward Potatoes ($4/kg, which is roughly = US$1.45/lb : 1 kg = 2.20 lb, $1 Aussie = 80¢ USA)

Bintje Potatoes (also $4/kg)

Luscious mushrooms from down the coast at Ulladulla, harvested at 7.30 pm last night, according to the farmer :) $4 for 400g.

Broccoli and avocados (unripe) from some archetypical older Italian farmers - $5 all together :

A head of cauliflower, $4 (about US$3.25). The bag is one of my BANG jute bags, which are really brilliant. I just have 2, but I need a few more!

Good old Granny Smith apples - $1/kg! These retail for more like $5/kg in the supermarket. Destined for apple pie!

And Royal Gala apples, also $1/kg. Bargain!

I always like to bring back something a bit different or more lasting from the markets, in addition to all the fresh produce - a preserve, jam, honey, oil, or soap, or something like that.

This time I chose Chilli and Lime Seeded Mustard. The Lime Grove lady recommended using it as a crust on roast beef, yum. She had a wide range of lime products - salad dressing, marinades, sauces, preserves, cordials, and so on. This mustard was one of the more expensive purchases I made, at $7.

And lastly, The Soap Man was there too, with a wonderful range of soaps and hand creams, most with lemon myrtle in them. I selected 2 bars of soap, for $2.50 each. These will become gifts, with a handknit cotton facecloth, one day! Hmmm, well, maybe one of them will be a gift, and I'll keep one for myself!

I hope you've enjoyed this little visit to the winter Southside Farmers' Markets, in Woden, Canberra, Australia!

22 July 2009

On the shelves!

Taken by KSee in Virginia USA, in a Barnes & Noble bookshop. A real treat to see my book in situ - not something I can do here, as it's not been published in Aussieland. Thank you Ksee!

20 July 2009

Bed Ladder

My hip replacement surgery date keeps being pushed back by more urgent cases. It's going backwards at the rate of 2 months every month - current estimate is October/November (it was supposed to be this month!). This is because I'm listed as a Category 3 patient (non-urgent), so anyone at a higher need pushes me down the list. Unfortunately Canberra has the longest waiting lists in the country, at the moment.

I was feeling pretty despondent about this all, so I called my surgeon last week and spoke with his lovely nurse / secretary Karen. She said Dr Smith only has 1.5 public patient surgery days a month, which equates to 3-6 surgeries, so it could be another 6 - 8 months (in addition to the 10 months I've already been waiting) before I'd finally get my operation, which I'm not happy about. (For non-Aussies : "public patients" means those chosing to be covered by the Australian government health care system, Medicare, which provides subsidised medical care and free hospital treatment for all citizens.)

Karen made the very sensible suggestion of seeing my GP to have my category revised - I think I'd qualify as a Category 2 now (surgery within 90 days), as my level of disability is increasing daily. I need to use a 'sock aid' to put my socks on now, am in pain most of the time, and am using a walking stick whenever I'm out. I'm also needing extra pain killers to sleep through the night.

So I'm seeing my GP tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

I wanted to show you something clever my husband made for me - a bed ladder! It's basically just a rope ladder with dowel rungs. You tie the ends to the foot of your bed, and use the rungs to 'climb' yourself into an upright position.

An easier and cheaper solution than those overhead 'trapeze' grips, like is used in hospital. I'll use this once I'm home from hospital and needing help to sit up in bed.

Mind you, he used this as an excuse to buy himself a drill press! I figure it's a fair cop, though ;)

The main downside of this design is you still need to have someone position the ladder on top of the bed, while you're in it, it's not so easy to get into position yourself when in bed. Hmmm, maybe there's a way of letting it hang down the side, and adding a tether to hold it in position? There is a rather nifty cloth strap version which has solved this particular problem. I'll have to see what improvements we can make!

Here's your Petal photo for today :

Chihuahuas are solar powered puppies - this is her favourite spot in the mornings, up on the couch, in a little cushiony bed, with her ball, in the sun!

14 July 2009

Was that just one week?

It's been a busy time!

Last week I dropped my strip off at the NGA, and Dotter and I got to meet Magda Sayeg, the American woman who started Knitta Please! We had a great 10 minute chat about knit graffiti, and got to see her in action, sewing (and gluing) striped panels onto the bollards. Unfortunately we missed out on meeting Denise of grrl+dog, who was running a bit late driving down from Sydney ...

Last week this happened too : Dotter turned 18!

There was a big lunchtime party at our place on the day (Wednesday), with her school friends. She didn't want junk food (good girl!), but this meant I was cooking nearly all day - home-made chocolate cake, bran muffins, pizza toasts, popcorn ... one of her friends brought penis straws, but we'll gloss over that! There was champagne with the cake, but no other alcohol. She had 3 friends sleep over too, and I made a big dinner for that as well. The extended family lunch is this weekend.

Amongst other gifts (a gold and diamond ring being the main event), I made her a Nautie, which she loves! Cleckheaton Vintage Hues for the shell ...

NautieIn the midst of all this my agent urgently needed me to write of 4 new Gourmet crosswords for Reader's Digest. Aaah! Still, they got done, and it's rather cool to be getting work in Reader's Digest's new puzzle booklets (which I've yet to see, not sure when they're coming out).

On the weekend Dotter and I went to the NGA to see the final wrapped columns! Aren't they SPECTACULAR? You can see the Gallery's photos on Flickr here.

See the arrow? Yeah, that's where my strip was. Third from the top. So high up that you couldn't see the cables. Ah well, I knew they were there!

This was the seventh pole. What struck me was how many people were stopping, touching the strips, looking, talking, taking photos ... it was inspiring.

I've also had several long lost friends come over for lunches - the Clapotis has gone to its very happy new owner - and even met up with an old friend from graphic design college days (through the wonder of Facebook!).

I'm currently busy as Technical Editor on Spanish Word Games for Dummies - thankfully I don't need to know Spanish too much to do this job (there is a second TE who is checking the language in detail). A fun project. Work is going a little slowly as I often seem to end up working one handed, cos of this little bundle of nips and joy, who needs to be cuddled and wrapped in woollen shawls, resting on my arm, to stay warm (or so she tells me) :

PetalAll together now ... aaawwwwwwwwwww

Now I just need to shake this dratted cough, and all will be well!

05 July 2009

Wrap a pole

Tomorrow I'm taking my somewhat wonky cabled strip (~10 x 140 cm) to the National Gallery of Australia, to be sewn onto one of the six huge concrete poles at the entrance to the gallery. This is a Knitta Please public art project. It'll be fun to see my little cabled strip included in what promises to be quite a stunning display!

Here's the info from the NGA site :

Stitching up the NGA

Knitta Please covered an entire bus in wool at Plaza Luis in Cabrera in Mexico City in 2008. Photo by Magda Sayeg, founder of Knitta Please

Knitta Please covered an entire bus in wool at Plaza Luis in Cabrera in Mexico City in 2008.
Photo by Magda Sayeg, founder of Knitta Please

Tuesday 7 July – Sunday 12 July | Gallery foyer | Free

Be a part of this daring community project to transform the front entrance and foyer of the National Gallery of Australia with knitting.

From Tuesday 7 to Sunday 12 July, Knitta Please founder Magda Sayeg and Sydney artist Denise Litchfield, with a team of volunteers, will transform the front entrance and foyer of the National Gallery of Australia. Knitta Please is a tag crew of knitters who turned their frustration with their half-finished knitting projects into a phenomenon sweeping across the world.

Knitters are invited to help create pieces that measure 10–20 cm wide and 140 cm long, which will be stitched together to create coverings for 6 large concrete poles at the front of the National Gallery of Australia. Any colour, yarn and technique is accepted—the brighter and wackier, the better!