Monthly Archives: July 2006

Crap weekends, fun weekends

Tuxedo and I have just had one of the crappiest weekends in history; poor Tuxedo has had a blinding headache since Tuesday (six days and counting) with weirdo flu-like symptoms, and I’ve been responding to the dismal wet, cold weather in usual uplifting fashion (pain, pain, general blahness, pain).  Talk about the fun couple …. Then over the weekend Tux’s headache got even worse and I’ve been, to put it mildly, somewhat concerned.  He was in truly blinding, debilitating pain with the other symptoms increasing in severity.  Talk about miserable …  I finally reached into my stash and gave him a couple of heavy duty painkillers (sometimes it can be handy, having a chronic illness, one has a wide selection of good Class A drugs) which are controlling the headache so far.  I will be metamorphosing, Hulk-style, into the bossy wife and refusing to let him go to work Monday AND dragging him to the doctor.   As for me, I just hope the weather improves …

We both have to be in tip-top condition for next weekend, you see, as my sweetie of a husband has organised a whole weekend at a posh hotel (honeymoon suite! with Jacuzzi!) for my birthday and it would not do for us to be on anything but the best and most energetic, enthusiastic of form. 

The total bastard – I mean, sweetie of a husband – has been teasing me for months about my present, about which I know nothing … except that it is in a small jewellery-type box (yes, he’s shown me, that’s how much of a bastard sweetie he is).  A dead hermit crab, mayhaps?

Abigail has been booked into a posh hotel too – a really beautiful cattery with a fantastic reputation – our vet recommended it and from the website and chatting to the owner I wonder if she’ll want to come home!  I know she’ll have the very best of care and attention, and be safe, and so long as she has her sheepskin-lined bed and food on time she’ll be content, but I can’t help feeling a mite sad.  Abandoning my baby, wah! And sure it’s only for four days and I’ll be plenty busy (wahey!), but I will still miss her sweet fuzzy face and cuddles.  Waaaaaah!

 

Beauty and the beast: Skincare

(“The beast” being me, of course!)

Until a few years ago I had a rather lackadaisical approach to my skincare regime; the occasional bit of sunscreen, ditto budget brand of moisturiser, not a cleanser or toner in sight (make-up remover, yes, gotta get those Tammy Faye lashes off somehow). In my defence, I had never had any problems with my skin, no pimples/acne in adolescence, no dryness or oiliness, the epitome of boring normalcy, in fact. However when I hit 35 I figured that although this had worked for me so far, particularly because I have great genes and look about 25 (comes of being baby-faced and small), I’d better make sure things stayed that way. I had also had a couple of “age spots” (Age Spots!!!) frozen off by the dermatologist, and seeing my mother after her trips to the dermatologist was a major wake up call. My skin was also looking very dull and blah due to chronic illness and nasty medication.

So, what to do? I love beauty products, but at the same time I am very very cynical and sceptical when it comes to the cosmeceutical industry, as I call it (my background in science tends to kill wonder), so anything I went for had to be a reputable dermatological designed and approved line, with scientific ingredients and no PR crapola about unspecified miracle age-reversal formulations, patent pending. Some research and queries across the internets led me to NeoStrata, MD Formulations, and recently to Philosophy, and I’ve been pretty ecstatic about the results. And it all takes just a few more extra minutes after tooth-brushing – you don’t have to spend an additional five hours in yer boudoir, being a slave to Higher Beauty. Continue reading

Reading …

Audiobooks are the best invention; I’ve only just become hooked on them. A bit slow of me, admittedly. There are days when I am too ill to get up; even to sit up and read, yet my mind is busy and in need of occupation, which is deeply frustrating and depressing – not constructive nor conducive to relaxation and recover! With a good audiobook on the CD player or transferred to iPod, I can lie back and enjoy being read to.

I have only a couple of audiobooks in my collection so far, though I can see this changing! Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, read by the author, a ginormous Lord of the Rings read by …. um … I don’t know! Except it is a very good cure for insomnia … not so successful, that one; and J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, read by Stephen Fry (bought recently for me by my adorable Tuxedo – I’m so spoiled!)

There’s a few I’m on the look-out for; a couple of classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, read by luminaries such as Juliet Stevenson, a couple of Dorothy L Sayers mysteries, and of course as many of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series – read by Blackadder’s Tony Robinson (Baldrick) – as I can get my hands on. Fortunately the (relatively) recently opened Borders in Perth has a huge and comprehensive selection so I’m in luck – audiobooks were previously rare critters.

Nostalgia has also hit, in the form of much-beloved children’s fiction/literature (specifically Elizabeth Goudge’s The Little White Horse – a childhood favourite which I discovered with much glee at, you guessed it, Borders), and at the Fantasy end of the scale, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonseries. You may scoff, but I enjoyed the early books in the series immensely, and they still hold up. The entire concept of a complex agrarian/medieval society, the dragons and their relationship with their riders, the characters, the threats faced, were and remain classics of the genre. I totally went off the series around All the Weyrs of Pern –that the agrarian society could/would move to producing plastics, cellular microbiology and moving planets out of orbit within a four year span was bizarre and stretched the limits of credibility just a leeeetle far. Recent offerings in collaboration with or by McCaffrey’s son Todd have been plain lousy and limp. Nevertheless, I’m thoroughly enjoying Dragonflight et al, the Dragonsinger group, and prequels Dragonsdawn and First Fall.

Moving to somewhat higher ground, literature-wise, I’ve also made a start on both Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and the novel The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak which looks damn interesting.

In other book news: Jodi Picoult’s ground-breaking multimedia novel The Tenth Circle­ has had some interesting results; penciller and story editor of the graphic novel-within-the novel Dustin Weaver has produced the movie adaptation of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, which looks brilliant from the few frames I’ve seen online, as well as some other mindblowingly new stuff. AND Picoult herself has been given the job of writing the story for five issues of Wonder Woman comics – talk about cross-breeding!

And who could ignore the fabulous news – via Ain’t It Cool News – that Joss Whedon is penning a new series of Buffy comics, produced by Dark Horse comics and taking off from the end of the final episode, where all the “potential” Slayers were activated and Sunnydale was sucked into the Hellmouth. The Slayers are now an organised force, yet there are still Big Bads and evils to fight … Yes I will be buying this, why do you ask?

Final reading news, I got around to buying myself a proper back-rest for comfortable sitting-up-in-bed-reading; no more slipping pillows and aching back for this girl! I found a good solid adjustable – and comfortable, padded – canvas on frame jobbie at an Independent Living centre – one of those places with lots of groovy gadgets and aids for mobility and health-compromised folks. It’s a great invention … next I need an adjustable bed tray large enough for my laptop/sketch books/notepads and I’ll be set.

 

Top 5 gadgets for the cookgeek

 

I am a total gadget whore; particularly when it comes to kitchen-related items – my term is cookgeek.  I love all cook’s tools with a passion, gadgets that slice, dice, sliver and mush; gizmos for charring, caramelising, grilling, grinding and grating; wine and bar tools; all specialty knives; groovy electrical appliances …  I adore kitchen-related gadgets, love browsing stores such as Cut It Out and WA Hospital Supplies (and Williams-Sonoma and Cooking.com online), and am always deeply excited when I find a new gadget or appliance that will make life in the kitchen easier and more interesting.

To make it onto this list, items have to not only be a cool design but something I actually use, not one of those items that languishes at the very back of your kitchen cupboard for ten/fifteen/twenty years.  Getting this list down to five was difficult; I may have to post a revised version sometime. Continue reading

Bedroom talk for atheists

I have many favourite reads, brilliant writers and guilty pleasures here on the Internets, but an essential and always fascinating visit is to Pharyngula (link in side bar).  I have learnt so much from PZ Myers; I adore evolutionary biology and his insights into unusual aspects of development biology are addictive, explained so beautifully, carefully and succinctly that I can understand what he’s on about, even though I’m not a scientist (although I have and continue to read a lot on the subject). His Friday pin-ups – of gorgeous and sexy cephalopods – are a draw, as are his battles with moronic creationists and proponents of “Intelligent Design” (more on that can of worms another day).  Makes me proud to be an atheist.

PZ is also very very funny, and gives the best links; this had me rolling about laughing, raising the question of what an atheist should say at those moments of ecstasy in the privacy of one’s own home … (note; not work safe; adult content)

 

Catch-up

Gah.  Gah.  GAH.  A month and a half since I updated.  GAH. There have been mitigating circumstances, but really I have no excuse except being a lazy good-for-nothing slob.

House calls and hospitals.  Blah. A couple of days after my last post – around 28 May – I had a serious, serious flare-up episode of pain and stuff.  It was weird, because on the Friday I was feeling fine, pain negligible, quite a good day.  Then out of nowhere at midnight or thereabouts, I was struck – like the proverbial bolt from the heavens –  by intense neck pain.  (It may have had something to do with the exceedingly energetic and enthusiastic lurve-making session we’d been engaged in, but that doesn’t usually have such a detrimental effect; quite the opposite, generally).

Regardless of the increasing doses of high-strength A-Class painkillers I swallowed, the pain continued to intensify; years of practice have made me a guru at relaxation and meditation/bio-feedback techniques but I simply could not control the level of pain.  I was sobbing, screaming, writhing around, out of my mind with the spasms shooting through my neck and up the back of my skull. I was glad we don’t keep a gun in the house; I would have put myself out my misery, no question.  A highly disturbing experience.

By some miracle, my adorable GP does house calls.  Tuxedo called him in some panic – I don’t know what time this was, some ungodly hour of the morning … he turned up, gave me a shot of pethadeine which calmed things down and I was able to sleep.  Except, the next night things ramped up again, the doctor had to be called again, and this time, after giving me a shot of morphine (not nearly as pleasant as the pethadeine) he announced he was going to call my specialist and have me admitted to hospital first thing in the morning.

And that’s what happened.  I spent five days in hospital, having frequent shots which had little effect.  I had two MRIs – not fun when one is a serious claustrophobe and light- and sound-phobic to boot.  Finally I was sent for occipital nerve blocks – huge (and I mean motherfucking HUGE) injections of steroids/cortisones plunged seemingly at random into the back of the skull.  Ouch.  They helped though, without a doubt – brought the pain levels down to “bearable”, and I was allowed to go a couple days later.  I was quite relieved – I hatehatehate hospitals in spite of the good drugs (which, in my case, don’t work so well); so noisy and glaringly bright and not-peaceful, and the food, bleccchhhh.

I’ve since been to a pain specialist to discuss the possibilities of a cryo-rhizotomy, whereby the occipital nerve is killed via freezing.  I wasn’t too keen on the concept before I spoke to the specialist; afterward I felt slightly queasy, given the procedure (brutal and random) and the side effects (ditto).  It was a tough decision – risk the procedure not working and being left with the entire back of my skull totally numb? I finally decided, after much thought and discussion with my lovely GP, to simply go on having the occipital nerve blocks, which are painful enough, initially, but my latest dose has been most successful.  Not that I’m a wimp – it was obvious to me from a physiological/anatomical point of view that the procedure wasn’t going to address or solve the main issue even if it worked. Eventually I’ll have to look at other options … the rhizotomy or major neurosurgery, ick, but in the meantime it’ll do.

The past month, overall, has been pretty shitty– physically and mentally healthwise.  It took me a long time to pick up, and I became very depressed and kind of overwhelmed by everything. While I often have periods of the blues, or black-doggishness, they tend not to last long, but this episode has been longer and more serious than usual. I guess it’s understandable, given the whole constant severe pain, the isolation and restriction and constraints, feeling useless and pathetic – I have even lost interest in food! I do try to stay positive, and talk myself up, and not wallow … but it’s tough.  I am doing all the right things – trying to eat properly, getting back into exercise (easier now that the pain is bearable), getting enough good quality sleep, focusing on other things.  I will get through this “phase” – at least I know it’s only a phase! But yeah, it’s tough going right now. If I didn’t have my wonderful Tuxedo I’d really be up shit creek; he makes everything feel better.  Hee.

Ahh, bugger it.  I promise my next entry will be more interesting and uplifting – maybe something totally trivial and fun, like a review of my latest skin care and make up finds, how ‘bout that? Oh and I have to tell you about the Coldplay concert!