Someone once told me using the Net to find family members and tracing family history (genealogy) is the #1 use of search engines. I thought it was for finding info on good-looking people and current events but hey...
In the last week I've had three Makepeaces contact me, Jose, Ariel, and another Paul (who works at This England magazine)! How cool! Last week a visit from a cousin, Caroline, on the Storrar side, who happens to live about 50m from my house. Out of city of 7million that's bizarre, especially since our family is splattered all over the US, South Africa, England, and Holland.
Perhaps I can finally persuade our resident genealogist (my Mum) to start putting her vast collection of family history online at our Makepeace family home page...
In the world of spam countermeasures there are Realtime Block Lists, lists of IP addresses (= mail servers on the 'net) that are considered to be in violation of some policy, e.g. too much spam, breaking some internet standard or whatever. These lists don't require you use them, and they don't even otherwise interact with mail delivery: they're purely a third-party opinion. Based on their effectiveness you consult them or don't.
I've just discovered a whole pile of what I consider legit mail having been filed in my "Warning" folder (which is usually almost entirely spam) because spamcop.net's blocklist has Google's Gmail service blocked. It's kind of pathetic reading the spam zealots defending this based on numerical analysis. Yes, Gmail servers have been used to send huge gobs of spam but considering the job of delivering mail practically who really wants a list that blocks a massive mail provider's feed? They've also blocked yahoogroups. I mean, really, come on guys, reality check!
I've been dreading some kind of server failure while I've been in hospital since I can't realistically do anything about it. Now I'm out but can't walk, it's still firmly in the "very difficult" category. A couple of machines had a rash of teething problems a while back; mercifully they were still in test and new sideways-blowing fans seemed to fix them.
Until today, when first around 3am one box died, then around 12am another one seem to become crippled, and as if that wasn't unlucky enough, wham, kernel panic for the third. The whole time I'm stuck either at home waiting for a scheduled hospital-taxi or in the hospital in various states of radio silence, i.e. hard to call or log in over GPRS. GAH! Fortunately Nik saved the day on two of them and I held the fort on the third in the orthopaedic waiting room, later putting in a fix.
Every day, managed servers look more and more appealing...
Went to Guys' for an orthopædic assessment all morning. Had my left and right feet xrayed, old splint/half-cast removed, four week-old blood and sundry skank cleaned off, and a new fibreglass cast fitted, in fetching Forest Green no less. I was only originally slated to have my right foot xrayed but a bit of social engineering and induced cross-departmental confusion had my left foot done too.Continue reading "New cast and forecast"
Had the mother of all comment spam attacks today lasting several hours, and having had the machine crippled for most of that time (loads in excess of 160!) I at last resolved to do something about it: implement a MaxSystemLoad setting for Movable Type.Continue reading "Movable Type Maximum System Load"
Apart from the ambulance ride home, which was heavily assisted, I took my first trip into the Real World in six weeks: a taxi up to a course in Earl's Court. The day was entirely unassisted, just kindly escorted by Tom. I've had an amazing amount of fussing around me over getting about but as I suspected it was trivial. Book a taxi, get into it. Next question?
First bit of networking and heavy people interaction for weeks too. Definitely leaning towards the introverted end again. Extroversion is like a muscle I have to work. Clearly atrophied recently :)
Notable bit for Friday will be a party on the way home involving being carried upstairs...
A neat idea to help paramedics find next of kin: put a suitable contact in your phone's address book with the "ICE" prefix. Original idea by a Cambridgeshire para, supported by Vodafone and probably others to follow, here. More detail here.
Pass it on!
Pity the paramedic that has to deal with a PDA phone - vastly more complex, and in my case being a Microsoft Outlook-esque product shows "Last name, First name": my first attempt had the ICE displayed at the end of the name! To be readily visible on a Pocket PC phone select the name as:
First Name: Eira Makepeace
Last name: ICE
After being kindly wished well by Robert I ended up being reminded about 43 things, a "I wanna do this, and this, and this!" site. Browsing through it I grudgingly admitted to myself how many of the things flashing by I've had on my mental to-do list (and even more grudgingly how long), but at the same time heartened by how many of them I'd already done. For example learn no-handed trackstands. As I was writing a reply I thought I'd fling it up here: How to do No-handed Trackstands!
One of my "things" is this :-)
Right after I got back from hospital about a week or so ago I called the Vitality Centre up the road about Pilates classes, as someone had suggested Pilates as a light physical activity to do while I'm healing. As it turns out I'm probably still not ready for that but nonetheless had a very enjoyable conversation with one of their osteopaths, Ratna who suggested a daily veggie broth to assist in the "re-mineralisation".
So, how can you mainline minerals into your system by the power of greens alone?Continue reading "Vegetable broth"
I've been learning about the currency trading (foreign exchange) trading markets since I have some more spare time these days.Continue reading "Forex trading"
An incredibly last minute decision and the house (really, two of my flatmates) organised an impromptu BBQ on Sunday afternoon from 1pm. Last of the guests were showing up at 11pm. Was fantastic - sun was blazing, indeed half the garden had the sun self-abusers, while the other, shaded, had the more safety conscious of us. We definitely need to do this more often, it was really fun.
One of the guys had a recognisable scar on his foot, very much like mine. Apparently he'd had a minor ankle fracture six years ago. He still can't run or get involved in any impact sports. Hope springs eternal, eh? (His rehab consisted of ignoring the injury 'til there was a golfball-sized cyst around the joint, beer immediately post-op [which thins the blood], and it was the actual ankle joint rather than a less mobility-affecting one that's the problem on my feet.)
My self-prescribed upper body rehab program on the go, Dad & I set up the rings and effectively lowered the pull-up bar to within reach of the 'chair.
The yellow grips are discarded bits of roadwork piping offcuts I found a coupla months ago and used for another project. They're quite a wide grip: can't get my hand all the way around so they simultaneously work thumb and grip strength. I can only do about three pull-ups now!
More pics below...Continue reading "Rings and Swings"
I've done bits and bobs in terms of physical activity over the last five weeks but for the most part, very little. A couple of outdoor "walks" in the wheelchair, occasional bouts with the stretch bands, and a couple of goes on the gym rings recently set up outside. Not much. Last night I was quite emotional and down and figured this is probably in part lack of exercise. It's also in part the fact it's Summer and I can't fucking walk but not much I can do about that right now...
So, 'nuff moaning, First training entry in five weeks.
Since a few people have asked me this - my left foot is "being treated conservatively" which means they're not taking a knife to me, just yet. There wasn't enough bone as I understand it to do much in the way of pinning anyway. Since a couple of weeks ago I've been doing physio on it and it's moving around much as a foot ought to albeit it slowly, with less range, and with discomfort at the limits of its movement. No weight on it yet, altho' I'm sneaking a bit here and there...
I have something called an Aircast PneumaticWalker, a robocop-esque lower leg brace that includes inflatable cells to support and provide compression. Apparently this compression increases venous pressure, i.e. constricts the veins so the blood shoots back faster which encourages osteoblast (bone precursor cells) adhesion. Read the instructions for more. I'm not at a stage where I can walk with this yet, I just wear it at night to keep my foot at about 90° to prevent calf tendon shortening. It's often really uncomfortable - it gets hot and setting the right cell inflation pressure is an art form. Several times woken in the early hours with a strong desire to tear the thing off...
Probably have another xray of both feet in a week or two's time to see what's what. As soon as I can start to bear weight on my left foot I get to use crutches.
Earlier this afternoon popped down to Southfields Group Practice to complete the registration as a new patient and do various nursey things. Notable events were using Mo's super slick wheelchair she lent me to get there - quite fun and good little aerobic workout. Other one was having the dressing on my foot changed, and stitches removed. Whilst wincing I took some camera-phone pics. If you don't like the sight of metal protruding from flesh and 10cm stitched-up slices do not proceed... (I don't particularly but didn't have much choice on this occasion :-)Continue reading "Foot redressing"
Thanks to the lovely Mo (and Guy, who helped tweak it for me) I have on loan one of her wheelchairs. A wonderfully smooth, light, high performance one to zip about on. How smooth, light, etc? As much as £2,500 buys of carbon fibre, aluminium, squishy gel, and custom engineering. It is really nice.
One useful move is being able to under reasonable control get the front wheels up while rolling to mount kerbs or small heights. Especially with this chair as its front wheels are tiny (it's intended for indoor use, so minute turning circle). Entertained myself learning to do this and can now even roll and turn on two wheels.... The irony of ending up back in hospital having fallen out of a wheelchair hasn't escaped me :-)
Saturday afternoon... ambulance rolled into Hamilton Mews and already a crack taskforce of agents of household transformation were at work: Nik, Eva, my parents, and some passing South African party-goers, building plinthes, shifting boxes, hoovering, gardening, occasionally cursing...Continue reading "At home, at last, part 2"
Had my current account statement arrive today. It'd occurred to me in hospital that with me making absolutely no purchases my statement would look a little odd this month. I jokingly suspected the bank's automatic fraud detection to kick in if I even attempted to use it... "Hello, Sir, it appears someone has attempted to actually use your card. Our systems report this would disturb the e-cobwebs collecting..."
But actually seeing this absence of use today was quite strange: not only, after Friday 13th May when I collided with planet earth, was there only direct debits in and out, but in the period before, the busy financial life of someone who could walk and normally transact starkly documented.
I think the surplus of cash (ha! guess what a freelancer on morphine's earnings cap is...) plus my inability to go out is solved by frequent and elaborate parties chez moi... Watch this space.
On the fourth week anniversary of being ambulanced into St Thomas' A&E I was ambulanced out at a more leisurely pace taking in the delights of Clapham's Saturday afternoon traffic. The discharge (as they term it) was somewhat involved and in some cases quite irritating and, disappointly, costly but the joy of being at home at last far outweighs those niggles.
Yay, back home!Continue reading "At home, at last"
I was really freakin' cheesed off with my OTs. Despite having had for several days a target discharge date of Friday or Saturday, and having checked out my house for suitability on Wednesday, the OT still somehow only got around to telling me, on Friday afternoon at 14:30, they wouldn't discharge me. And that I'd have to wait until Monday or Tuesday. 14:30, that's one and a half hour's before they left for the day, and right at the end of the working week for the rest of the world who otherwise might be able to help. Which in this case consisted of delivering a suitable commode.
That's right, for the sake of a toilet I was otherwise stuck in hospital!Continue reading "Disorganised discharge"
Guy opposite me was thwapped in the back of the head by a bus's wing mirror as he was crossing the road. As he went down his foot was caught up in the vehicle's wheel arch. He lost a couple of toes, has had the others pinned, and most of the top of his foot had a massive skin graft. I managed to catch a snap (with permission) between dressings. Warning: it's ugly.
This is the foot four week's on - can't help wondering what state it would be in if he didn't smoke, and ate anything besides sweets and puddings (i.e. had some protein). Bummer.
This afternoon, for the first time in nearly four weeks, I left the building. Spurred on by Emir's suggestion and accompaniment (thanks mate!) I wheeled myself into the lift, downstairs, and for once took the turning away from surgery, xrays, and the mysterious dude playing the piano in the ground floor hall toward the Exit. Way Out. Sunshine! Fresh air! Patients standing around smoking cigarettes with IV drips!
It felt fantastic. In the hot early summer sun, we "walked" over to the hospital square with lawn and mesmerising rotating water sculpture. Apart from running aground on a small bump I managed to get around completely unaided. Once by the fountain the lure of grass and water was too much, and pulled myself out of the chair onto the lawn. Fab! By a probably comical looking process of walking on my hands and butt hopped over to the water. Emir & I chatted there for quite some time, and I goofed about with some gym moves and surprised myself by a) some I could still do b) how quickly exhausting it was. We had some pix but for reason not on the phone any more...
In other news, after some phone calls and registering with a local GP purely by telephone (something of a feat), looking like I might be able to leave for good very soon...
I lost over a stone / 7kilos / 15lbs in the first two weeks after my fall. Wanna now how? I'll share my secret this one time... I used The NHS Hospital Plan Diet!Continue reading "The NHS Hospital Plan Diet"
Woohoo! No morphine for me today! After dropping the dose from 50/60mg to 30mg yesterday and then zero today I'm free of opiates. Toward the end of yesterday I was coming up as I hadn't had a Sevredol for most of the day and the difference was dramatic enough to freak a friend out. I took another one around 22:00 and she watched me sink into the slow pit which apparently was also quite odd.
Being on morphine is a terrible experience. Of course, having variously searing, thumping, crushing, stabbing pain is worse but make no mistake, being on opiate analgesics is horrid.Continue reading "Out of the fuzz!"
Just slugged another morphine pill (Sevredol; 10mg/4hrs; "the blue pill") so a quick one before descending into the void...
During surgery to prevent bleeding my thigh was held in a tourniquet. There are really strict limits to how long this can be done for before nerve damage occurs; it's around twenty minutes or so. The surgeons run right up against this limit time and time again throughout the operation to minimise blood loss. The downside is, in my case of a 4hr op, I've come out with a lower leg that has been producing nerve misfires for the last three days - lightly brushing the ends of my toes produces a sensation of having needles shot deeply into them; moving them back and forth creates a feeling of having ice water pored into my cast. Very weird! And almost entirely unpleasant.
The first day or so the nurses were regularly testing for adequate blood flow to my toes by looking for sensation and mobility. It was, fortunately briefly, excruciating even though I logically knew and could see nothing untoward was happening. All these peculiar facets of post-operative recovery...
A highlight of today was mildly starving myself in anticipation of Claire bringing Ben's Cookies! Woohoo! Thank you very much Claire! Big thanks too to Pei who brought yellow flowers, M&S mini-cookies, and the interesting observation that hospitals don't have much yellow, and a reminder how good we in the UK have it with hospitals compared to say Malaysia.
So a bunch of us saw the xrays and CT scans today - us included a vet friend and a nurse friend. I'd only seen the post-op ones that look an awful lot like these (thanks Claire for the link). I think I had a quite good idea of what the damage was but it's always interesting seeing what it physically looks like. The left heel literally had fragments of the calcaneus bone (big lumpy one which constitutes the heel) floating about it. The right foot looks really well repaired; the damage is localised to just the calcaneus, and thus the subtalar joint it forms with the talus bone above it. This is quite a low mobility joint so at worst shouldn't affect me too much (*cross fingers*). Essentially: all good news for my right foot. The left foot is still an open question - have to wait for more ossification (bone formation) and see what develops. I'm awaiting a chat with Mr Klinker the surgeon who repaired my right foot to discuss things like whether it should be in a cast, repair time, more surgery, etc.
The CT scans are amazing, photographic series of slices with incredibly high detail. You have to mentally reconstruct these slices into a 3D shape but even so exactly where the fractures and so on are are minutely reported. Awesome - this technology is definitely a fantastic aspect of Western medicine.
Yesterday started off rough but finished well. After the three hits of morphine in the afternoon, the Wimbledon posse, Nik, Eva, and my mum all coming by yesterday I was completely painfree from 9pm on all the way through the morning. Woo-hoo! The nightcap of a cup of horlicks and a temazepam helped too... This morning, awestruck and pathetically grateful I'd got through all this mangling with only a half day of pain I was wheeled down to xray cheerfully listening to tunes and feeling fab.
The lateral, axial, and joint xrays showed a whole lot of screws and a mesh of metal to hold the heel (calcaneus) together. Who knows, but it looked OK to me. Back upstairs, 11am, chatting with mum, with only a couple of random muscle spasms as warning it felt like someone rammed a hot soldering iron into my heel. My fifteen painfree hours came to an abrupt end and after the nursey drug form filling I had to sink back into a dull indistinct drug haze malaise the rest of the afternoon.
Really, there is nothing fun about being on morphine or any of the hospital analgesics. In exchange for not involuntarily twisting about in your mattress and randomly clawing at things you are mostly robbed of sensation, motivation, pathos, hunger, satiety. Best thing to do is vaguely sleep through it and hope that it's kept at bay long enough for the next round.
The other crappy thing about painkillers is there's no strong sense of feedback on the healing. At least last night without the dosing (I don't take it unless I absolutely have to) and without the pain there's a sense of it getting fixed. Also when you move into a bad position there's immediate feedback--turn over, ouch, tweak position, ahhh, fine. When you're constantly ripped on painkillers you don't know what's going on; your nerve-endings could be caught in a blowtorch, or you could have twisted something, or subjected it to continuous pressure, or, ... and you just wouldn't know.
So I hope that's the last ever write on this. Sorry to folks who've been by and I've been totally out of it, I promise to be better next time :-)
Quick note while the morphine is in effect...
Went into surgery around 13:45, op took 3.5-4hrs, and I was in recovery til just before 22:00. Apparently I started bleeding quite badly after being sewn up hence the time in recovery.
Operation I've been told went well. I'm in a cast, with a blood drain to catch any more, and foot's elevated. Puked a couple of times even just trying to drink last night, so switched to IV, and that's also how my antibiotics are coming in. Pain earlier in the day was not at all fun. I'm too drugged right now to express it, which is probably just as well. I recommend not falling off the side of a house.
Head's swirling, time to lie down... I'm very happy to see people, if you don't mind me being a bit woozy.