23 January 2010

Meet Hippy

It's really in there! This is my x-ray taken yesterday, at "Hip Clinic" :

My surgeon, Dr Smith, is very happy with my progress, and I'm very happy with his handiwork - he did a great job with a difficult structural problem.

I've got a good range of motion, and am walking better than I did pre-op (although I still have a limp). He had to order in a special small "dysplasia hip prosthesis" for me - the spike inside the femur is much shorter than usual, the neck is barely there. The femur head is 48 mm around. The socket is also quite open.

My bones are unusually small - it's part of the dysplasia deformities. I'm wondering whether my leg lengthening (+1 cm) happened because he had to put the socket in a bit lower (I'm lying flat and straight in the x-ray - honest! Man, my pelvis is deformed.). It doesn't look like he's added any length in the femur at all.

Here's a normal hip for comparison with a 'normal' hip replacement, without dysplasia, and with a more normal prosthesis - note the longer neck (between the spike and head) and the longer spike inside the femur. The scale is a bit smaller in this x-ray, so take that into account.

This copyright free image is a work of the National Institutes of Health, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Status at Week 9

I'm free of the DVT stockings, hurrah, but still on Warfarin for another 4 months.

I can walk around without crutches or a walking stick, although I still use a stick when I'm out, as added help just in case, and to give people a visual hint as to why I walk slowly.

My obturator nerve is still a bother - I still can't pull my leg inwards when lying down, and I step a bit funny - but Dr Smith assures me that it's minor damage, the muscle is working a bit, and will get better. Although the muscle is wasting away a bit, I don't have areas of numbness which is a good sign. I've just had a major surgery, after all, as he said, of course things aren't working well yet! I've seen 21 months listed in a Mayo Clinic study, as the average time for recovery.

It's confirmed, I have permanent hip restrictions. This is unbelievably rare (generally hip restrictions last for 3 months, not the rest of your life). It's to reduce the risk of fracture and dislocation, which I'm at a higher risk for because of my deformed anatomy and the small prosthesis. And let's face, I don't want either of those things to happen!

Dr Smith said I can sit on normal chairs and use a regular loo once I get to Week 12, so that's fine, but I'm not to sit on very low things, like a footstool, or squat down, run, jump, bounce, move my left leg across the midline of my body, twist my torso towards my left hip, pull my leg to my chest, put my left foot up on my lap (but I've never been able to do that anyway), bend down to shave my legs, etc. Anything which bends or twists my hip a lot is not OK.

I have to give up Middle Eastern dancing too, which sucks. Hugely. There's a few moves I can still do for exercise (shimmy, chest and belly isolations etc) but I won't be able to do classes.

I'm allowed to lie on my tummy again (yaaay - favourite sleep position!!), as long as I turn over very slowly and carefully, with my trusty pillow between my legs (it stops my left leg going over the midline).

I'm driving easily again, and have figured out how to get into the car with least pressure on my left leg (driver's side is on the right, so I step my left leg in first, keeping it straight, and then get the rest of me in, still keeping the left leg straight).

I'm able to get back on the exercise bike, just for 10 minutes at a time, and going slowly, but with the seat raised up I can do full revolutions without bending my hip past the 90º rule.

My physio gave me standing up exercises, but they gave me sciatic pain, so I've gone back to lying down exercises. The muscles all around my hip, front and back, are very tight and sore. The old scars in my groin are pulling because of the lengthening ... so I'm still doing lots of physio stuff, and massaging the scars to help them stretch (but given that they're over 40 years old, this could take a very very long time).

The 90º rule is driving me nuts, I keep leaning forward when sitting at my desk (like now) and that's a big no-no. I have to sit back further (but then I can't see the screen very clearly) - so there's a bit of fiddling around to do with Universal Access on my Mac (zooming in on the screen), placement of chairs, desks, screen, and so on.

But basically it's going well, things are slowly healing, I'm just getting a bit impatient with the nerve stuff and hip restrictions, but they'll get easier as time goes on, I guess.

11 January 2010

Back to Work

It's that time of the year, time to get back to work, and look ahead. The business has been closed for 2 months - not much of that time would qualify as a holiday, but I really need to think about puzzles again. And actually write them!

The year's started well - at the supermarket checkout I noticed Readers Digest has a 'FREE Holiday Puzzle Book' with the January 2010 issue. It was a great surprise to discover it contains three of my puzzles! The Gourmet crosswords are mine (copyright notice is to my syndicator, Auspac Media, which is normal in this business). Australian/New Zealand editions only, sorry to my American buddies.

I was wondering what's happening with the "Activity Mania" book I did for Hinkler Books last year ... I haven't heard anything since last May, when it's publication date got pushed back to March 2010. Lo and behold, today I discovered there's a cover up on their web site. This is the first 'finished' part of the book I've seen to date!

This book was more of an art direction job, in many ways – I planned the content for each page of puzzles and activities, provided a massive database of images to be used as sticker images and photo reference for the illustrators, wrote the puzzles with introductory text, and so on. All the illustration is done by Hinkler Book's talented artists, and Hinkler does all the layout too.

There are four sections of the book (so it can also be split into four smaller themed books) - On the Farm, Things that Go, Animals, and At the Beach.

It will be out in Australia, the USA, Canada, UK, and NZ, I think. Most English-speaking countries, anyway. I had to write all the puzzles so they would work for kids in the USA, Australia, and UK, which limited the vocabulary somewhat (eg I couldn't use the word pants to define trousers, because pants = undies in the UK - and so on).

I've been trying to teach Petal to do crosswords, but she seems to have some trouble using the pencil (she just chews it to bits, hmm) and sleeps on the puzzle ...

ETA : In answer to several people - yes, my puzzles can be sold repeatedly, which is the beauty of syndication.

For example, my 'Quick Break' crosswords were published in a Queensland newspaper for a long time, but they've recently cancelled their subscription. I have around 150 of these puzzles in stock - another paper - The Cairns Post - has now picked up this crossword series, printing just one a week, starting with Quick Break #1, so I don't have to write any more of these puzzles until they're getting close to the end of the stock, which will take a couple of years!

One newspaper may purchase "First state rights" to one series of puzzles I write, which means any other papers in the same state (eg Queensland, or Victoria, or wherever) would have to wait before they printed copies of the same puzzle. There are all sorts of different rights (local area rights, first state rights, etc).

What I earn depends on the level of rights, and also distribution - so a small local paper may only pay $20 to print one of my puzzles, but a major metropolitan paper might pay more like $120 for the same puzzle. So you can see why I'd like to get into the major metropolitans!

It's all frightfully complicated, which is why it's great to have an agent who deals with all this, they find places for my work, do promotions, manage billing and contracts with papers and magazines, and so on. I don't begrudge them their percentage cut of my earnings :)