26 June 2010

Failsafe cuffs

We're nearly a month into the Failsafe elimination diet, and endless days of eating food like this - mostly tasty, but either white, cream, or pale green coloured. Definitely missing stronger flavours like tomatoes and chilli. Bored with it all. A lot.

But has it helped? Not for Dotter or Hubby. There's been no obvious improvement in things like fatigue or joint pain for them (and they have the most severe illnesses). We have yet to do the challenges (they will start next week, and take a few weeks to complete), but we're not very hopeful. Our doctor did say it can take a full 4 weeks before any improvement is seen, though - that falls on Monday. But I doubt it's going to help, or that they're suddenly going to feel better.

However, very unexpectedly, it has helped me! My fibromyalgia has been much much worse since my surgery, even 7 months out. I've struggled to work, or even write emails, because of the brain fog, I've had almost constant headaches, and so on, pretty solidly for months.

For the past two weeks, my brain fog has pretty much lifted, the constant headaches are gone, and, while I'm not full of energy, I'm certainly better than I was a month ago, and these improvements are lasting. I was thinking maybe I'd just had a virus, but my doctor says that the anaesthetics and heavy duty pain meds post-op have really knocked me around (very common for fibro patients), and the low-chemical diet has given my body a chance to recover from the impact of surgery more quickly. I don't need to be on it long term, probably not beyond the challenges, but it's really nice to be able to sit down to a day's work, and actually achieve stuff.

Dotter made this Pikachu costume for a cosplay day at her uni - pretty cool to have cosplay days, hey? Piiii-kaaaaa!

Don't die of shock - some actual knitting content! I had been warned that Bendigo Luxury would stretch after blocking, so I made the sleeves on my Crossword jumper a bit short ... however, they didn't stretch. The length - or lack thereof - kept bugging me. And the crossword fair isle was getting rather grubby, with pilling.

So I cut them off.

Then I picked up the red stitches, and knit a long long ribbed cuff (40 rows) for each sleeve. They're now long enough to be wrist warmers, up to my knuckles! Great for working in my office and keeping warm. And when I need to do messier stuff, I can just fold the cuffs back. SO much better!

23 June 2010

Do opposites attract?

Poor lovelorn Bobby Ram has been at the bottle ... no wonder I haven't seen him in ages!

Drowning his sorrows clearly isn't getting him anywhere.

So I lent him this book : 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology - Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behaviour by Lilienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio and Beyerstein. This may seem a bit strange, considering that he's a sheep, but I'm sure there are parallels between sheepy and human behaviour.

The important one for Bobby was Myth #27 - Opposite Attract : We Are Most Romantically Attracted to People [or Lambs] Who Differ from Us.

I felt this myth related to his relationship with Lulu - Lulu is crazy, promiscuous, badly behaved, unreliable, and rather wicked ... and Bobby is quite the opposite.

So, are they destined to be together? We know the answer, but it's taking Bobby a while to grasp the reality.

The whole "opposites attract" belief is very widespread. It makes for a great movie plot, but isn't good for real life – research evidence suggests this belief isn't true. Some quotes from the book (pg 137) :
"Indeed, dozens of studies demonstrate that people with similar personality traits are more likely to be attracted to each other than people with dissimilar personality traits."

"The same rule applies to friendships, by the way. We're considerably more likely to hang out with people with similar than dissimilar personality traits."

"Similarity in personality traits isn't merely a good predictor of initial attraction. It's also a good predictor of marital stability and happiness."

"The 'like attracts like' conclusion extends beyond personality to our attitudes and values. The classic work of Donn Byrne and his colleagues demonstrates that the more similar someone's attitudes (for example, political views) are to ours, the more we tend to like that person."
The problem arises when people use the 'opposites attract' rule to guide their choices in partners, as Bobby has clearly done with Lulu ... sure, it's exciting to be around someone so different, but it's not a good decision for long-term relationships.

Bobby seems a bit more relaxed now, I hope that he's found greater peace of mind, and understands that Lulu isn't a good lamb for him.

I strongly recommend this book, it's fascinating to dip into. Here are a few of the other myths covered in the book (NB these statements are all wrong) :
#2 Some people are left-brained, others are right-brained

#6 Playing Mozart's music to infants boosts their intelligence

#12 Hypnosis is useful for retrieving memories of forgotten events

#18 Students learn best when teaching styles are matched to their learning styles

#26 A positive attitude can stave off cancer

#29 Men and women communicate in completely different ways

#36 Our handwriting reveals our personality traits
I was surprised by many of these too!

While there are a host of books and web sites about debunking medical myths, this is the first book for the general public about psychology myths. It's also being used as a text book for uni psych students. It's written in an entertaining style, is quite funny in parts and easy to read, and includes all the references to the research papers cited if you want to look further.

So - hopefully Bobby can move on now, and find himself a lamb of similar temperament ... we can only hope!

21 June 2010

Finding my Marbles

Son's glass workshop in the garage is nearly complete now, he has an oxygen tank, propane tank, a new glasswork torch, the kiln, all the safety gear, from metal blinds (less flammable than fabric!) to the fire extinguisher and flashback arrestors on the gas tanks. He's taking it all very seriously, and wants to do this for the rest of his life!

With the oxygen on board, he can now get hotter temperatures, and make bigger things - like art marbles! (To see the sorts of things he's aspiring to make, check out this site - or search on "art marble" for a ton more.) These are hand-crafted, so getting them spherical is quite a trick. He's improving each time! I thought you'd like to see a few (so we can say we knew him before he got famous ;) ...

This is the largest one so far, about as big as a 50¢ piece (Australian).

This is a little one, can you see the swirl of red beneath the glittery stuff, and the 'turbulent' edge of black at the surface? This sort of design is called a 'galaxy' marble.

A chip of dichroic glass sits inside this one, and looks a bit like an opal.

Another swirly galaxy type marble, with a glaze of frit (the reddish stuff).

And his first attempt at a flower marble!

They're rather tricky to photograph, always best seen when held up to the light, and looked at from all angles! But hopefully this gives you a bit of an idea.

In a couple of weeks he's having a full weekend of private tuition with renown glass artist Peter Minson ... this is basically his tertiary education, and he's launching into it with a passion!

16 June 2010

Bubbly Windows

Woo hoo, Blogger has new templates and a gazillion new background images!

Ok, on with the serious stuff ...

As you know, we rent. I often feel frustrated that we can't really make significant 'green living' adaptations to where we live - can't put in solar hot water, or grey water systems, etc.

My office in particular is extremely cold, and my desk is right next to the window (next to the only power point, so moving the desk isn't an easy option).

All winter I have torrents of cold air falling onto my lap and legs - I wrap up in a dressing gown with a blanket on my legs, and a hot water bottle under my feet, but it's still ridiculously cold, and not good for my rather crap legs and joints.

The latest issue of G Magazine (which is great up-beat Aussie magazine) has an article about greening your rental home - and one suggestion was to use bubble wrap to insulate your windows!

I have tons of bubble wrap lying around from being a business, and Son's prolific online shopping addiction ;) So I set to work right away with whatever I could find, and a roll of sticky tape :

I put it on bubble side towards the window, and used the minimum amount of sticky tape on the window frame to hold it on - I'd get a better seal if I used tape around all the edges, no doubt, but I want to minimise the tape residue clean up when I take it all off!

The view from the window needs blocking in any case - a bare fence, weeds, and noisy neighbours. It just nicely blurs things :

While it doesn't stop all the cold air, I must say it's pretty bloody good. First thing in the mornings (even after -4ºC (24ºF) overnight) my office sits at around 17ºC (63ºF) without any extra heating. I haven't needed to swaddle up in my dressing gown yet!

04 June 2010

Hippy Update

My new hip is 6 months old! I saw my surgeon last week, he is delighted with how I'm walking. The joint still hurts a bit now and then, but compared to pre-op, it's a vast improvement. I don't need a walking stick or crutches any more, yay! The scar has healed really well, and the obturator nerve damage is healing too. I've finished my 6 months on Warfarin, no more rat poison yay!

Some movements are still difficult, like putting a sock and shoe on my left foot, but on the whole I've adjusted to the permanent hip restrictions. Let's face it, I'm not that upset about not being allowed to run, jog, jump, or play rough or contact sports (I know, isn't it great to have a legitimate excuse?!).

But. (You knew there was a but, didn't you?)

My surgeon corrected the length of my left leg, which is now 1 cm longer, and closer to 'normal', and straightened my leg (which had been surgically rotated outwards by 30º when I was a kid). You'd think my pelvis would be glad of this change but nooooooooo, it's grumbling all the time, ungrateful wretch.

I've got all sorts of aches and pains from this - iliopsoas bursitis, all sorts of stretched nerve problems, coccydynia (ie sore bum when I sit or move from sitting to standing), sore lower back when lying on my tummy, a torn calf muscle, and so on ad nauseam. My fibromyalgia has been flared up since surgery too, which is an exhausting pain in many ways than one.

This week I've developed searing aches, pains and intense muscle cramps down both legs. Woo hooo. My GP was concerned it could have been DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), especially as I got a pulmonary embolism post-op, and am at a higher risk of developing blood clots now. So yesterday I tottered off for a lengthy and OMG expensive ultrasound of my legs. The good news is they're all nice healthy veins, no sign of clots. The bad news is, I still have terrible pain!

I had a quick chat with my physio today, and he thinks it's "neural tension", I guess my nerves are being constricted or pressed on somehow or other. I'm seeing him next week. He's told me to do lots of 'trigger point' releasing with the Ball of Pain (tennis ball). Celebrex does help a lot, thankfully, so something inflammatory is going on at some level.

My sports physician and physio both say it'll take at least a year for my body to adjust to the new state of affairs, so I'm halfway through ... it'll be a novel experience to have my hips, pelvis and legs working better. It's a bit disappointing that the surgery didn't suddenly fix everything, but that was probably a naïve expectation!

Miss Petal is finding this cold weather rather - well - COLD! She loves to snooze in this sleeping bag ...

01 June 2010

Failsafe fun

We've just started an experiment ... a month of the Failsafe Diet. Dotter's doctor suggested it, as Dotter has oral allergies to all fruits and many vegetables, which are also high in salicylates.

Failsafe stands for Free of Additives, Low in Salicylates, Amines and Flavour Enhancers. Sue Dengate coined the term, for the low-chemical, low-reactive exclusion diet developed by the Allergy Unit at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.

There's increasing scientific evidence that this diet is very helpful for some people, so despite my usual scepticism, I'm willing to give it a try; it's often recommended for kids with ADHD, and in fact I gave it a (half-hearted) try about 12 years ago when Dotter was first diagnosed. We're trying it this time for some long-term treatment-resistant health problems - Hubby and I are doing it as well - it's such a bother to do, we may as well all go through it together.

So, what does this entail? (Go here if you want to see the full description).

It's easier if I just list what we can eat :
Pears - ripe, peeled, or tinned in syrup (not juice) - this is the only fruit allowed
Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bamboo shoots, shallots, celery, leeks, chives, iceberg lettuce, white potatoes, swedes, green beans (limited amounts) - no tomatoes, people, no tomatoes!

Fresh meats (not cured or smoked), eggs, fresh chicken, freshly caught fish, most dairy. Bread (if preservative and vinegar free). Legumes, grains, rice (not Basmati or Jasmine), pasta, cous cous etc, but no corn products. White sugar, soft brown sugar, golden syrup, maple syrup. Cashews, rice bubbles, oatmeal, WeetBix.

Citric acid, garlic (limited), salt, poppy seeds, saffron, garlic salt, parsley (limited). Sunflower or canola oil (no olive oil).

Decaf coffee. Water. Milk.

No peppermint, so no toothpaste (we're using salt instead), and I've got Dotter low-allergenic shampoo, conditioner, shower wash, skin cream, and deodorant, and we'll use "sensitive" clothes detergent for a month too (as salicylates can be absorbed through the skin).

That's it folks! No herbs, spices, vinegar, tea, chocolate, not even pepper. This is my new 'spice' cupboard (a bit less than the 20+ spices and herbs I normally use!) :

There's a lot of cooking to do, as I need to make tons of things from scratch. Mayonnaise, hummus, pear jam, cashew butter, "magic lemon cordial" (sugar syrup with citric acid), chickpea snacks, and so on, in addition to dinners. I'm getting a lot of use from my food processor, and needing to cook several times a day to keep stocks up.

One of the big things to avoid in bread is preservative 282, it's not possible to find commerical English Muffins without out (well, I haven't found any yet!). So I made some!

It's a simple bread dough, made with milk. The dough rises once, and is then rolled out and rounds are cut out. The only adjustment I made to the recipe was to substitute the cornmeal coating with bran.

After a second rising, sitting on baking paper with bran, they're cooked - in a fry pan! I had no idea English Muffins were fried ... just in a little oil, on low heat for about 7-8 minutes each side.

And yes - toasted with butter - they taste bloody wonderful!

We won't know if this is helping us health-wise for a good 3 or 4 weeks - then we can do the amine challenge, and then the salicylate challenge, and so on. If it does make a difference, it will be totally worth it, even if it means continuing the diet long term. I do feel rather wistful about my seven new cookbooks, though, now sitting abandoned on the bookshelf ...