Friday, November 18, 2011

Long time, no see

It was not my intention to disappear off the face of blogland, but getting over a major operation and used to living with a bionic hip is extremely tiring.  Things are going well, even if I do keep overdoing it and needing to rest to recover from the pain from healing tissues.

I'll post a bit more soon, but thought I'd share news of a rather splendid blog giveaway, which you can see more of by clicking on the button below.  Silverpebble makes some lovely jewellery herself using silver clay and you can also link to her Etsy shop, if this interests you.  What is attractive is that you can fire your silver clay on an ordinary domestic gas hob, so no special kiln is necessary.  It certainly appeals to me.

Life goes on and my lovely husband has shared his latest virus with me, so I've had a day in bed to rest up.  My 15 year old son wants to go to a friend's house party this evening so we've been having a chat about appropriate and responsible behaviour at such events.  He sees it as a rite of passage and, of course, he is right.  I guess I'm old enough to have a youngest child going to teen parties as well as a new hip!

Monday, October 10, 2011

After the Operation - Day 8

It is exactly a week since I woke up in the recovery room following my hip surgery, and it is hard to believe that it is only that long.

My husband collected me from the hospital in my Zafira, which is high-seated, and getting in was not too difficult or painful: we used a plastic supermarket bag to help me slide in, and pulled it out from beneath me once I was in the right position and ready to do up my safety belt.  The ride was a little uncomfortable - not the bumpiness of the roads, but simply being sat in the same position for however long it took - maybe 40 minutes. I was able to get down from the car with only a little pain, and walked with my two sticks into the house, managing to negotiate the two steps in without a problem.

Since coming home, I have spent quite a lot of time snoozing, either upstairs or in a chair or on the sofa downstairs.  My lovely man very kindly went out and bought me a special cushion to help me sit and lie more comfortably, as I was getting a little sore on behind and heels.  I have been using pillows in bed to help get better support, either under my feet, knees, between my knees and to support my back.  I can only sleep on my back at the moment and pain prevents me rolling onto my side in my sleep.  The sofa is a little low but using the special cushion helps by raising me a bit more, and I can lie on it once I am upon it.

The stairs have not proven a problem, remembering to step up onto my operated leg but down onto my good leg.  I am so glad we had the walk-in shower installed as that is easy to manage to get access to.  We have a non-slip grip mat installed on the shower tray.  When I washed my hair on Saturday I moved my perching stool into the cubicle to sit upon, but normally I can stand comfortably long enough for a quick shower, and use the perching stool outside the shower to help me get dry.  I was provided with two loo frames as part of my care package, which certainly help with sitting upon and getting up from the toilet (one of which needed a seat raise as well, whereas the other was high enough not to requite one.

Sitting at the dining table is, for some reason, quite uncomfortable, even with the special cushion, but is manageable for the length of a meal - then I am very happy to move elsewhere to sit in more comfort.

I can dress independently, and it is just the compression socks which I need assistance to put on and take off.  I am taking care to wear loose, stretchy clothing so that no unnecessary pressure is put on my wound.

As far as walking goes, I have not yet ventured outside the house.  I am generally using my two sticks, and now am beginning to be able to use them in opposition (move one stick, then opposite leg and so on) rather than move both together, then walk bad leg then good leg into the space between them, then repeat).  I have used the walls and furniture for support when moving from bedroom to bathroom upstairs.  Clearly there has been a massive improvement in weight-bearing and balance since I was in hospital.

After the Operation - Day 4

So here I am, sitting in the Patients’ Lounge, waiting for my husband to arrive and take me home. My case and bags are beside me, and my bed bay Is being prepared for a new patient who is having a knee joint replacement this afternoon. I have my TTAs (prescribed medicines to take away), I’ve said my goodbyes to the lovely staff and my fellow ward-mates, and it’s like being in limbo! I am discharged but still in the care of the hospital until my husband arrives. For some reason I cannot connect to the hospital wi-fi any more so I’m typing this to post later.
Today I enjoyed another shower and dressed myself (apart from the compression socks, which I needed help with. A breakfast of very delicious vanilla flavoured prunes and a banana plus a mug of tea went down very well. I was a bit dozy and kept falling asleep, and I still experience a fair bit of pain after moving around, so was content to sit on my bed with my feet up. Ironically, I had finally learned how to use the bed controls yesterday evening, so could raise up the back as desired, and also the foot to help the circulation of my feet and legs, sticking carefully to the “no bending more than 90 degrees” rule to protect my healing hip. I wanted to rest while I could, in order to avoid my ankles swelling as they had yesterday after quite a lot of time on my feet.
My two fellow hip replacement on Monday patients are staying in a bit longer than me, probably to be discharged tomorrow. It was lovely to see them feeling much better and more mobile today. My next door neighbour managed the stairs with the supervision of the physiotherapist this morning, and thought she would go home today, but it was decided that the wound was still oozing enough to present a potential infection risk, and she would be better off in the hospital environment for another night. Both ladies had had blood transfusions last night, which really seemed to perk them up. The lady opposite me was today able to walk to the bathroom and back using a zimmer frame, so this meant that she no longer required catheterisation but she was not yet strong enough for walking further to perform the stairs test. The Consultant was hopeful that by tomorrow she would be able to do this and also maybe go home. She is 80 and my friend next door is in her sixties, so I guess I have age working in my favour.
Walking using the sticks has been going very well, and it feels so much more normal as I usually use two sticks outdoors due to my iffy balance. I’m happy not to have needed to learn how to use the crutches for support. The long reach grabber has been invaluable in helping me to retrieve various things which have gone flying, and the long-handled sponge certainly makes washing much easier. The other gadget I have found useful is the leg lifter, as it is hard to lift my operated-on leg still, but the long shoe horn and a device which I think helps to put on socks have not yet been necessary.
The ward seems a very safe and protected environment and it will be interesting to see how being at home feels, whether I will feel as safe and secure there or instead more vulnerable. Time will tell. I am expecting to feel very tired and to need a lot of rest for the first few days but might be wrong about this. Certainly being back in my own bed will be a delight.
The staff at the hospital have all been so delightful, charming and kind and all say they enjoy working there. Their assistance and attitude have contributed greatly to maintaining a positive attitude to recovery and I feel so fortunate to have been cared for here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

After the operation - Day 3, afternoon

Well, there's just been a ward round and, all being well, I can go home tomorrow!  Isn't this amazing?!  I am thrilled.

After the Operation - day 3 in the morning.

I slept really well last night, despite being woken for observations to be made, then I managed to go back to sleep until nearly eight.  Prunes and an apple for breakfast with a cup of tea.  Then I walked to the bathroom for my last specimen collection for output measurement, returned to my bedside and was asked if i wanted to shower.  This felt like a wonderful treat, so it was back to the bathroom and I managed to wash everything without difficulty - we have all been issued with a long-handled sponge.  I needed a little help drying my legs, but was able to dress myself entirely independently using the grabber we've all been given - great gadget, although I did need my compression socks to be put on for me.  I'm  now sat up in the chair beside my bed and am reasonably comfortable.  One of my ward mates is having problems with sickness and anaemia, and the other is not so well either.  We have a new admission coming in shortly to the bed which was vacated last night by a ladt who had a post-hip haematoma so was in for eight days.  No photo in this post - maybe later.  We are due to have our hips X-rayed this morning to ensure everything is OK.

Edited to add: Maddalena the physio just came and got me walking with my sticks - bypassing the crutches.  It went so well that we walked to the physiotherapy room and I managed to do the stairs using the two banisters there.  I'm as high as a kite with happiness at the moment with my new achievements, although my hip is more painful now.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

After the Operation: Day 2

Didn't sleep badly once I got off last night, but activity on the ward woke me at six am, we all had bloods taken, and I felt too alert to go back to sleep.  Breakfast came, then the ward manager and head of nursing did a ward round, and then an anesthetist did a round, then my surgeon did one.  My dressing was changed and the wound cleaned and checked - it looks very tidy but is bigger than I first thought.We were waiting for the physiotherapist and I kept dozing off - I think the three of us operated on yesterday did this.  Eventually our physio de jour, Maddalena, arrived and one of us was got out of bed and sat up in her bedside chair.

Then, it was lunch time and afterwards it was my turn.  Initially it was hard to move my operated-on leg, but with the assistance of a leg-mover (see below) I managed to move it a bit, and practiced some exercises before I got off the bed.

Then it was the turn of the walking frame, and I managed to use it to walk as far as the bathroom and back to my bay, to sit in my bedside chair.  It wasn't as difficult as I had feared, nor as painful,  The most painful element was getting of  and onto the bed or chair, which I guess involved the most traumatized muscles.  But, I managed to do it!  So this meant the catheter could be removed, and I could be less encumbered.  It was tiring and so I managed to keep dozing off during the afternoon and was woken again for dinner which I ate on my chair.  I used the frame again to visit the bathroom and then ventured out of our room and down the corridor to the nurses station to tell them I had left them a gift in the bathroom (output is monitored for a while pot-op and post catheter0.).

I was heartily relieved when the drugs trolley came round and I was given this colourful collection of medications: analgesics, anticoagulant and a potassium supplement, as this morning's blood test showed I was a little deficient.  I'm back on the bed now, but really quite pleased with my progress today, and very thankful for all the messages of support I've received - it so helps morale.

After all the dozing during the day, I hope I will sleep well tonight, but I suspect I will!  It's been hard work.

Monday, October 03, 2011

After the operation: Day 1

Today was the day of my hip replacement here and I thought a post or few on my experiences might help others facing this procedure..
We had to arrive at 6am as I was first on the list.  The first hour was spent completing essential paperwork, including the selection of foods for my meals today and tomorrow, then setting up my laptop to log onto the free wi-fi here.  I also donned my attractive open-backed gown and hospital dressing gown, cutely accessorized with foam theatre slippers and a white compression stocking on my good leg (top tip: a small plastic bag placed over the foot helps the stocking on).  I walked down to the lift and go up to the theatre suite and into the preparation ward. It felt much better than being wheeled up. I went all low blood pressured and faint in preparation so my shy veins (thanks to the low BP) presented an extreme challenge to the anaesthetic nurses caring for me.  The anesthetist succeeded where two failed attempts had not, and I had my pretty pink cannula in situ
Now things went faster and I was equipped with a catheter, then the spinal needle was introduced into the  subarachnoid or intrathecal space of my spine, and soon my legs felt warm and numb.  I was carefully positioned for surgery, using various supports bolted to my trolley, before something was injected via my cannula which sent me gratefully to sleep.

I woke up maybe two hours later in recovery, where I was cared for attentively as my blood pressure was low.  I was grateful to have water and tea to drink, as apart from a couple of sips of water to help me swallow my usual morning medication, I'd had nothing since yesterday.  I felt alert, cheerful and in no pain at all.  my operated-on leg was velcroed to a wedge shaped cushion, to prevent rolling onto my side, especially   in my sleep.  Two hours later, my bed and I were returned to my windowed bay.

This is what I can see around me in my bed bay - it will enlarge if you click on it.  I have a personal telephone and TV with headphones, an automatic monitor for blood pressure, pulse and blood oxygen saturation levels, an automatic foot and calf  intermittent pressure massager to assist blood circulation in my lower limbs, in addition to free access to wi fi broadband.  I also have a standard bed table on which I place my laptop, meal trays, water bottle and glass, etc.  I also feel very lucky to have the only bed bay with a window: it may not be an especially scenic but I can see daylight and feel less cut off from the world.  It
is very conducive to a high morale, as are the phone and internet access.  I returned to the ward to numerous messages of support in my in-box and on Facebook.  I spoke on the phone to my elder daughter and husband, Facebook-Skyped my younger daughter in Denmark, who had not managed to sleep at all last night, and also my son.  I knew my mother would be out today, but was able to phone her this evening, and she sounded so relieved to hear me sounding so perky, and sent e-mails and facebook messages to others.

Here I am looking soooo glamourous!

The food is excellent!  I had an omelette with tuna and salad for lunch, followed by a nice crunchy apple and a cup of tea, while dinner was a fricassee of pork and celery in a herbed cream sauce, with long grain rice followed by a banana and another cuppa,  I have since enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate..

I  was thrilled to see my elder daughter and son-in-love and  they came bearing gifts: sadly the fresh flowers were not allowed on the ward so they had to go away again, but some lovely fresh fruit was permitted so I have fresh pineapple pieces, ripe figs and some nectarines or peaches and some chocolate (for the iron!) and almonds (for calcium).  I feel very spoiled.  Then my lovely husband and son arrived, the former looking exhausted after only 2 hours sleep last night.  We enjoyed catching up on the days events, and then they went off for a quick evening meal out before going to their homes for an early night.

So far, so good..  Today is a day of bedrest: physiotherapy.  I am still experiencing no pain despite n top-up analgesia.  I'm now beginning to feel a bit sleepy so I'll finsh this post here.  Thanks so much to my frins and family for their love, support. good wishes, kind thoughts and prayers: all very welcome and appreciated,

Monday, September 05, 2011

Sweet Peas

An essential part of my summer is the growing and harvesting of sweet peas.  They remind me of my father, a skilled sweet pea grower, in the garden and on the allotment.  I realised that I hadn't recorded this year's outstandingly colourful and perfumed display, and must admit that a fortnight's absence on holiday means that they have gone slightly over, though my husband is hopeful that we might be self-sufficient in sweet pea seeds for next year, and meanwhile we have started picking them again to enjoy indoors.

These, in my pretty jug bought on a trip to Dunster a few years ago, are decorating the living room window sill and their perfume is delighting me as I write.  The petals are so delicate yet so vibrant in colour, and I hope there will be a few more vases left to go before the end of the season.

Here are some of the plants, as seen from my living room window.

There are more at the bottom of the garden, cheek by jowl with our carrots,onions and garlic.
As someone said,
"A Garden is a thing of beauty
and a job forever".

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Postcard from Paradise

This stunning paradise is Pelistry beach, on St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly, UK and I was lucky enough to be there last week to take this photograph. I'm missing this glorious paradise and so happy to be able to share it. If, like me, you need more of a Paradise fix, follow this link.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Skyline Sihouettes

These amazing skies were seen during a walk I took yesterday.

Aquatic Abstract

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Monday, August 22, 2011

A Good Day for Wildlife

A remarkably friendly thrush decided to allow me a picture,

As well as two little sparrows

While this blue butterfly was sunbathing on an osteospermum

Just long enough to let me capture its image
before flying away.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Walking to Nowhere, and beyond.

One song I like is Paolo Nutini's "Last Request" which has the lines,
"Sure, I know we're going nowhere,
But one last time, let's go there...."

This afternoon we took the opportunity to walk to Nowhere, as evidenced by the signpost pictured above, but we did not stop there.  Further on, there was a cafe serving the luxuriously delicious ice creams produced by Roskilly's of Cornwall, with superb views in addition.

In fact, my indulgence was not ice cream, but iced yogurt - peach flavour.  It was so good, tangy and refreshing and not too sweet.  Not good for the diet, but what a treat!

Tea Party for Sparrows

Does Snow White live here?  It looks as if these sparrows are determined to clear up the remains of a delicious cream tea.

Maybe it's a good example of symbiotic existence.

The humans had disappeared inside for shelter from the elements, but the birds weren't about to let a few drops of rain spoil their al fresco meal.


They fascinate me, do skies.  Ever-changing, so many variations....

One day, there are the silken traceries of white against the blue.

The next, subtle irregular striations of grey, suddenly climbing steeply into a blurred mass.

We sat and sheltered from the rain, watching the lightening show whilst sipping iced tea and spicy ginger beer,

Wonder what skies await me and my camera today?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Sunny Meadow Painting

Un prato soleggiato - a meadow basking in the hot Italian sun, as seen from the shade of an olive grove - is the subject for my third art class painting, and which is complete except for an isolation layer and varnish to protect the paint. The colours are a little warmer than this photo shows but it is proving impossible to achieve the correct shade through digital adjustment with what I have available to me. I must try again when it is a dry, sunny day. I learned a lot about achieving and working with texture and colour in this painting, and layering by cutting in to gain a sense of depth. It looks well on the rich blue wall of my dining room.

So, no class until October - woe is me! Hopefully by then I will have a new hip joint as I am awaiting the date for a joint replacement operation and will know when I go to the hospital this Thursday. I need to be able to manage quite a lot of stairs to reach the studio where the class is held, though. Meanwhile, I am contemplating a "portrait" of my husband and myself - I ought to prep a board in readiness for this. And make a couple of cotton nighties in preparation for my trip to hospital.
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Saturday, July 02, 2011


June in an English garden means roses (scented ones, of course!) to me, so I wandered around taking portraits of some of the lovelies brightening up my world.

Such delicate colours in their luscious silky petals, pretty as a picture and fragrancing the air as well.

Clearly, I have a preference for the peaches and pale pinks, although I have some beauties in other shades as well, just that these ones were the ones revealing their beauty on this occasion.

When we married, my bouquet contained the palest, barely-there apricot creamy petalled-roses, so some of these are chosen for sentimental reasons.

There are pretty, shaded frills and complex ruffles with a very special elegance of form.

Some reveal their fringed and beaded centres, inviting in the bees and other insects to enjoy their nectar sweetness.


Others are more shy or coy, a spiral of tightly furled petals hiding, for the moment, their golden centres.

Some appear almost muddled in their layers, crimped edges wrapped in a complex, chaotic geometry.

Some are just voluptuous, rich and velvety pinkness.

 While most of my roses are shrubs, standards or bush, I do have a lovely rose climbing an archway. accompanied by trachelospermum jasminoides and a wisteria album.  I love how its flowers hang down to be admired.

These photos were taken at the beginning of June, a month ago.  Life got in the way of me posting them - but fortunately did not prevent me enjoying the flowers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sun on sea 1

Another few weeks, another seascape, in acrylic paint on board. I learned a lot from working this image, including more on glazing, and using palette knives as well as brushes. It has a very different feel to my Brighton West Beach piece, more like a sunny Mediterranean sea - it evokes memories of a holiday we took some years ago on Cephalonia. I think it has a serene as well as sunny feeling, and it makes me feel happy to look at it.

I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to take classes which support me so well in producing art I can feel so pleased with - it has been quite a while since I have been able to take such pleasure in creating art. I hope it helps me back to using textiles, too. It does me lots of good to get out of the house and work alongside and learn from others working in our own styles and ways.

Picture the third is well under way too - not a seascape this time, and with different challenges. I am having such fun with painting. It strikes me that this is a different form of magic armchair travelling, too.

Monday, June 06, 2011

On Brighton Beach

Last November, just as the snow came, we spent a weekend in Brighton. The purpose was to see a production of MacBeth at the Brighton Dome/Pavilion Theatre to support my son's English Literature studies, but it was good to spend some time away from home in fresh surroundings. I hadn't been to Brighton for decades, and it was interesting to see what I remembered and what I didn't, and how things have changed.

Apart from the theatre, we explored the Lanes a little, and enjoyed some lovely meals. We also visited the Pavilion, a first for all of us, and took a wander on the beach.

This photo shows the snow-heavy clouds over the sea between the piers, and the sunlight fighting valiantly to shine through.

It was recently our local Arts week, and despite my health being poor again, I managed to get to one exhibition, of paintings. It was a thrilling show with a wide range of different styles, media and subjects, by a group of artists all taught by one tutor. I decided to make contact with him and there was a vacancy in one of his classes - on a Monday afternoon, which suited me very well as the afternoon is when I tend to have most energy.

I took along some photographs and decided to work my Brighton beach image in acrylics on board. Today, the painting was finished, and here it is:-

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I'm really pleased with it and am looking forward to getting it framed, as well as thinking about my next subject. I'm also really, really enjoying painting again. I'm not good at working on my own at home, so the opportunity to go to the group, to socialise and to see the stunning work produced by my fellow students, is proving very fulfilling and enjoyable. As for my tutor, Andy, he's lovely and a great teacher for me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Visiting my Deutzia

When we first moved to our house, this shrub was in the front garden. We liked it very much, but it did not fit in with our plans for the little piece of land. Eventually, we dug it up and, with fingers crossed, replanted it by the back fence. I'm glad to say that it took, grew and thrived, and gladdens my heart every year when it bursts into a white froth of springtime flower. I think it is some kind of Deutzia, but would love to know more about it if anyone can tell me.

This year, bring in the right place at the right time in the right weather has allowed me a closer look at this lovely plant.

Much as I love it, I did not realise it had other fans.

The bees have been buzzing contentedly among the flowers, foraging away.

Their industry and concentration between the frills and folds of the flowers reminds me of the dress designer arranging the dress at a certain big wedding in this country!

I'm glad to have captured these images to return to and enjoy once the flowers are over for another year.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sign of the Times

Seen this morning on the magazine shelves of our village general store:

Subscribe to Your Chickens
Your Chickens
may11 cover10 Make a Hen House for £75
Home Farmer

Time for a remake of "The Good Life"?
And the latter actually looks worth a look, to me!
(I don't have chickens).

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

What better way of celebrating the continuance of public access to forestry land than to take a walk in the woods on a Sunday afternoon in February?

This was an opportunity to visit Stockhill Wood near Wells on the Mendip Hills, run by the Forestry Commission which so nearly lost the right to run it before this week.

The trees are so beautiful and the air so fresh and clean.  It is good for the soul to be reminded of the power of nature and that even in the winter there is growth and greenness.

Last year's burdock mimic flowers in form if not in colour.

The coniferous trees make wonderful silhouettes against the grey skies.

A herb robert is already growing vigorously in the shelter of a moss-bedecked fallen tree trunk.

Paths curve away into the wood, choices to be made about directions to be taken.

The grass and the green of the trees glows against the grey browns of the paths and tree trunks and branches.

Other paths are mere tracks between the trees, the paths less often taken...

Dried stems that once bore seedheads mark the spot for the coming summer's growth.

Dried leaves clinging on to branches create a delicate tracery of lace work against the sky.

A different scale: moss, leaves and fungus flourish on the dead wood left to decay on the ground

Catkins remind that spring is on its way.

Moss is growing on the ends of logs piled up beside our path.

Clearly these stones have not rolled for a long time, dressed as they are in their mossy coats.

Stone and tree: the moss does not discriminate.

Ferns are already growing from this mossy stump.

Thistles are pushing through the autumnal carpet of shed leaves in search of the light.

Another tree is adorned, bedecked in catkins like strings of prayer flags for the new year.

A tussocky green mounded clearing appears

and affords views of the little lake across the invisible road.

The trees show glimpses of the terrain beyond their boundary, a hilltop moorland sort of place where once lead miners used to work.

It looks bleak at this time of year, but we are sheltered in amongst the trees.

The glorious trees, reaching for the heavens, reminding us to look up as well as around.