Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2009 review

I started a '2009 review' of the goals/ideas/crazy harebrained schemes that i had come up with and posted about here, and realised how often I never finish what I start. I am a changeable, flighty kind of personality who requires new concepts, projects, hobbies, situations all the time. However as much as I need change, I also need to learn to finish things so that at the end of a year I can look back and see how much I've achieved rather than thinking 'where did that go? what have i got to show for all that time?'...

Funnily enough, and true to my nature, I never even finished the review! So, nearly four months into the year of 2010 already, here is my review of 2009 (only for months where I posted ideas to try and start/stick to):

Jan 2009 - already reviewed in this post:

essentially it was shorter showers, dishes using soap shaker, cleaning without chemicals, researching and trying kangaroo meat/sustainable fish, making own bread/cheese/jam, public transport activism, getting license, recycling old unused phones, learning to use my old sewing machine, getting debt free, using my bokashi compost bin, and not buying food from stupidmarkets... VERDICT? FAIL! I started many of them but the only one I stuck to was cleaning (the bathroom only) without chemicals, eating sustainable fish, making a batch of jam ONCE, and getting debt free. Still that's something, I guess.

Feb 2009 -

- reduce or give up sugar intake (started; not stuck to)
- use the easiyo yoghurt maker to make my own yoghurt (started; stuck to for months but not currently using it)
- give up soft drink (started; not stuck to)
- give up chocolate unless fair trade (started; stuck to inconsistently)
- use shower timer (started; stuck to for months for not currently using it)
- use shower bucket (started; not stuck to)
- use each towel for 2 days instead of 1 (not even started)

March 2009 -

- get tshirts with amputee slogans made (not started)
- tricycling (started; stuck to for months but not currently using it)
- start cooking snacks like muffins, cakes, dips, muesli bars, biscuits etc instead of buying them with high sugar/additives content (not started)

April 2009 -

- sign for trike 'three wheels, one leg' (not started)

June 2009 -

- running with new running leg (started; stuck to; need to get the knee fixed to keep using it but have to find time to get in to see the prosthetist)
- cook recipes from Julie Stafford's 'Taste of Life' cookbook, and post photographs and descriptions of the experience (started; not stuck to)
- use my reusable sandwich wrap from the Environment shop (never started)

July 2009 -

- see a psychologist (started; stuck to for months but not currently still doing it)
- start running each morning (started; not stuck to because insomnia meant I was too exhausted in the morning)
- pack healthy lunches (started; stuck to inconsistently)
- learn to ski by joining disabled wintersports victoria (never started)

September 2009 -

- DIY wedding - learn millinery esp fascinators, papermaking, scrapbooking, card making, felting, calligraphy (never started)
- learn to knit, make clothes for winter and as gifts (started; not stuck to)
- give up idea of postgrad lit and apply to graduate from arts (achieved!!!)

I'm going to take any of the ideas I still want to do from this list, and add them to my 'to do list' on the side of the blog. Hopefully my review of 2010 will be a little better ;)

Modified exercise and sport for above knee amputees

I'm trying my best to gather information, mostly from the net, about normal sports or exercises that have been modified to suit amputees. Probably mainly above knee amputees just because it's what I know.

I want to teach myself - and then record my results - for yoga, tai chi, martial arts, swimming styles (this at least I already have experience with), gym techniques, cycling etc, but all without my prosthesis if possible, because of the pain in my lower back resulting from using the prosthesis so much. Maybe when I can afford to buy a better prosthesis that isn't so heavy and awkward, I can start to incorporate exercise with a prosthesis.

However, as far as I'm concerned, my real body is legless on one side, and the prosthesis is just a tool - like crutches or a walking stick - that helps me get around in a world made for people with two legs. However, my most natural and comfortable state is without a heavy weight hanging off of my shorter left leg. That's what it feels like - a dead weight. It is not part of my body, so I will never be able to move it gracefully or naturally.

I've found a few sites that mention different modified poses for amputee yoga, so I'll incorporate those and credit the sites I got them from when I mention each pose. I've now found Gisoku Bodu's site so I'll try some of the moves he mentions and credit them to him when I mention them on the site. Obviously I'll have to modify some of them as he seems to use his prosthesis. Who knows, maybe once I get started I'll prefer using the prosthesis anyway.

I'm going to try not only posting about my adaptations of different activities, but also putting up photos... we'll see if that ends up happening or if I'm too shy ;)


I've just started reading a blog called 'Gisoku Budo' (Gisoku means artificial leg in japanese; budo means martial arts) which is written by an above knee amputee, so really relevant for me. He obviously uses a silicone sheath like mine, too. AND his amputated leg is his left leg. So lots of similarities.

I found it so relieving and validating to read one of his posts about having to stay home from something because of sores on his stump. It's a hard thing to talk about sores or in-grown hairs on your stump, mostly because it's so hard for others to relate to it. I have sometimes said to people that 'I'm having trouble with my leg' when i need to cancel going out to something, rather than the more specific and honest excuse 'I have a painful infected in-grown hair on the weight bearing part of my stump because I have sweated lots inside a tightly fitting silicone covering'. I mean, firstly yuk, and secondly? Lame excuse. It sounds so weak to me, so to read this post and say yes! my pain from one bloody hair on my leg is awful enough to cancel something and someone else gets that! is lovely, though to be fair if I was honest and told my friends the more specific reason, they would probably be more understanding than I give them credit for.

Anyway here's the quote from his post in full: "woke up on Wednesday morning with an absolute cracker of an infected sore on my stump. This isn’t necessarily anything unusual by itself, it’s just annoying. I think a lot of these instances are caused by infected hair follicles or in-grown hairs, both of which are apparently pretty common amongst amputees. The reason behind them as I understand it is due to the nature of the situation – the stump’s generally wrapped in a non-porous material (in my case, a sheath of silicon that acts as a membrane between my stump and the socket), you get sweaty over the course of the day (exasperated at this point in time by the Australian summer heat), and being a guy and having hairy man legs (is this too much information at this point??), something’sgot to give. If I get them in random spots on the leg it’s not too dramatically bad, but when I get them along the areas that support my weight around the socket (typically around the top of the socket and at the very base), it can be extremely painful. Imagine a crazy blind pimple on the ball and heel of your foot, that’s what it feels like."

Can I get a "hell yes?"

health problems... and learning to look after myself

Well, in a few hours my niece goes in to have brain surgery at the Royal Children's Hospital. She collapsed from a brain bleed after an AVM in her brain ruptured. I'm thinking of her and getting as close as I get to praying (sending silent pleas out to the universe to keep her safe. I think of them as being waves of emotion being sent out, probably useless but even if the only effect is to make me feel better then I guess it could be seen as worth it). Anyway, I'm hoping she pulls through it ok, she's only 12 and has her whole life ahead of her. I love her a lot, she's a great kid.

It's been a bad time lately health wise for my nearest and dearest. My grandfather is sick with cancer at the moment and went in to the hospital yesterday with breathing trouble.

And I've been experiencing seizures. About four in eight days. I had a CT scan and it came back clear (a huge relief as there was a possiblity of secondaries of my cancer showing up in my head, or a lesion of some sort). I'm having an EEG to check for epilepsy in a few weeks too.

I'm considering the possibility that they're stress related, too. I haven't had one for about five or six days now so I'm not sure what that means. I was trying to think of what was different in the week I had them, and I couldn't think of anything. Then Bertie pointed out that it was in that week that we'd been visiting the children's a lot. Once I stopped visiting so much (due to a combination of full time work and a throat/ear infection that I couldn't pass on to Ebony), I stopped having them. It could just be a coincidence, the seizures could happen again at any time according to the doctor, but I do remember that every time I came into the childrens hospital it brought back traumatic memories. The triggers for those memories weren't spectacular, in fact they were quite mundane - the artwork on the wall was the same, the food outlets were the same, the elevators were painted the same colour, the same statue was in the foyer... in fifteen years it seemed to be the same hospital that I had basically lived in during the time of the cancer/amputation. Also, seeing my niece at 12 (I had been 9/10) in the bed in the hospital made me experience my cancer from the perspective of a visitor/adult, with all the worries and fears for a helpless child before my eyes. I do wonder if the hospital triggered the seizures, or at least triggered stress in me that could have triggered seizures...

I noticed too in the MRI that as I went into the tunnel (a tunnel I found scary and upsetting as a child), tears started pouring out of my eyes and I couldn't stop shaking. I had to have the nurse come and comfort me and move my head back in to position, and I was very embarassed and surprised by my reaction. The nurse reminded me that having been through this before as a child with cancer, the reaction was in fact very natural and understandable. Once she had given me permission to feel what I was feeling, I just tried to acknowledge the stress and then calm myself. I realised that I was thinking 'not again, not again, not again', and that the possiblity of having cancer in my head was being linked to the experience of having cancer in my leg. I don't feel that I'm that traumatised by what I went through, but obviously deep in my mind - and in connection, my body - I have some buried emotions and memories that are coming back.

It's interesting, because part of the reason I started therapy was because I was having dreams and flashbacks about the cancer/hospital experience, so I am wondering if these seizures are just another manifestation of that stress that I have buried - in my therapy I never got around to tlaking about the leg and the hospital (did I purposely avoid it?). I ended up talking about things that were bothering me about life right now, mainly. I ended the sessions because I had run out of the government subsidised sessions and I couldn't afford more. It might be time to reconsider that and make room in my budget for it. I ended my time with the psychologist by simply never calling up to make my next appointment, so I feel a bit uncomfortable about that. Still, she was very good and if she'll have me back I think I'll go and see her again.

I know that stress is sometimes a trigger for Bertie's IBS symptoms - I was skeptical at first but over the years I've had to accept that stress is very closely linked to our body's physical health, and that it's important to acknowledge and deal with stress in your life.

As well as considering returning to therapy to try and deal specifically with issues relating to the experience of cancer/amputation/hospital, I'm also considering taking up yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage... I'll even give things like hypnotherapy and acupuncture a go. I just want to get rid of my stress so I can prevent health problems from happening instead of dealing with them when they hit.

I want to look at other preventative health measures in my life too - mainly diet and sleep. I have been noticing over my last thirteen months of insomnia that my sleep levels are directly linked to my mood for the day:

Three-four hours equals: I can function but i'm going to be on edge all day and then crash, usually accompanied by huge mood swings and emotional outbursts. I will be sick by the end of the day and end up taking a day or two off each week.

Four-five hours equals: I can function but I'm going to be on edge all day and then crash, usually accompanied by huge mood swings and emotional outbursts.

Six-seven hours equals: I can function but I'll feel tired and grouchy during the day, and will not feel motivated to go out at night, or in fact do anything at all after work hours.

Eight-nine hours equals: I can not only function but I feel capable of doing something in the afternoon too, whether it be cleaning the house or cooking a nutritious meal or catching up with a friend or going to a singing lesson etc

These are all variable of course, depending on how i've slept in the nights previous, what my diet has been like previous, and what is happening in my life. But basically, if I get the sleep it's easier to eat well and to feel positive about what's happening in my life... so it seems like a great first frontier.

Now that Bertie's back from work interstate, I seem to be sleeping just fine. So it seems a great time to start ensuring i get eight to nine hours of sleep a night. It's hard though, because my mind is so active at night and it's when I most want to read/play computer/have a conversation/do exercise/watch a bit of telly, etc... still, worth it if I can feel happier and more able to deal with life each day!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Restaurant Review - Maedaya (YUM!)


Maedaya in Richmond is my FAVOURITE restaurant in Melbourne. Big call, but there it is.

I was going to write a post about it, but have found some superb posts done by others, like this one at the My Food Trail blog

And this post at Melbourne Gastronome

Are you convinced yet? No?

Take THAT! and THAT!



See you there :)