Friday, February 27, 2004

More Xrays

Well, really it's just another routine head CAT scan... my third. My doctor was shuffling through results of past tests the other day, and commented that I'd had a large number of Xrays, CAT scans, MRIs etc of nearly every part of my body. However, that would probably only be about half the total number due to kidney tests, and many back, teeth and arm xrays as a kid. She warned me not to have too many more as "it may be dangerous". Eeek. Ahh well.. tomorrow's scan will decide whether I need an operation to drill out my sinuses. I have no idea if that would help the migraines (or the current bout of inflammation in my jaw :-\). It's not a pleasant test if I can remember the one I had in '99 correctly. The most pleasant test I had was the one that created a 3D model (capable of fly-through simulation) of my kidneys - it took half an hour of lying completely still while this soothing humming machine gradually scanned. I fell asleep. I wish all tests were that pleasant.

Another operation possibility

The CAT scan didn't show anything useful about the ongoing sinus problems. The surgeon is not certain I would be able to breathe clearly with the operation, or that the post-nasal drip would stop (or at least decrease substantially), and would not commit to whether or not it would help the sinus headaches or infections (which he agreed were probably stress or allergy related). So.... there may be a sinus operation looming. I won't be doing it before finishing honours as it's likely to stuff me up (literally) for about a month. The scan itself took about 2 minutes, lying on my back with a spinning donut over my head. The technology has improved substantially since '99.

I'm lucky I didn't have to move my jaw much today, as the right joint has completely seized and is quite inflamed. The dentist warned me about this, but there isn't much I can do apart from rest, physio exercises, and apply gentle heat and massage to the hinges. It does mean that I can't open my mouth much, and of course, can't chew without a load of pain and noise in my right ear. I guess it's indicative of how much stress the last week or so has put on me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Breaking...

I'm this close >.< to cracking at the moment. So close to just hiding from the world completely. Pain levels are up, work is insane with tutors dropping out left right and centre (damn SGI for taking them, but of course good for them), and some collegues simply are not doing their jobs, which means of course the conscientious ones have to fix things and pick up the forgotten jobs. I'm getting so sick of workplace politics, and watching people (students, tutors, lecturers, employers and ALs) trying to rort the system in so many ways. Unfortunately, what I've heard about industry isn't any better (no matter what industry you are in). Seems like that is human nature now :-\

I've had recurringly themed nightmares of past situations for the past fortnight. Usually this theme sends me spiralling into depression, but I was already nearly there before they began. Mix in more crap family stuff, worsening health, work pressures and high expectations of everyone for honours and I'm ready to completely give up. I need a long holiday from family, work and honours.

On an up-note, the garden is completely done (for the time being). Veggie garden created, bluebells dug up, mulch laid, watering system out, rocks moved, garden bed created etc. all in one hot and sunny weekend. The bougainvillea needs to be pruned and gradually removed, loads of raking of deciduous trees starting to colour and drop needs to be done, the pond needs to be cleaned, and excavation of spider plant around the pond needs to be completed before we can create a cover to stop the birds eating the now non-existent fish.

This weekend I won't be able to do anything - CAT scan for sinuses, re-dying roots, cooking for a farewell party (family) and going to an engagement is going to take up the whole weekend. Hell knows when I'm going to get some time for honours, let alone head space enough to concentrate on writing papers then programming.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Ruins

Ruins have always fascinated me, especially ruins of ancient buildings. I loved it when I went to Germany last year where I saw many castles and was especially happy when I spotted my own ruin, not a touristy one. Here are some photos of a different part of the world, and time, Japanese ruins.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Blogging as a teaching tool

This article describes the possible strategies and outcomes of using blogging as a teaching tool. It is probably more useful for those teaching communication oriented classes, rather than programming, but still a neat idea.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Well, duh...

You are Willow Rosenberg "I don't get wild. Wild on me equals spaz." What "Buffy" Character Are You?

The Unlikely Ones, by Mary Brown

Mary Brown - The Unlikely Ones

I had read this several years ago, but not remembered all of the story. It's another pure fantasy novel written for a younger (or simpler) audience, but still enjoyable. Mary Brown tried to convey ethics and morals, but sometimes was over the top, or too simplistic in her explanations (although there are the occasional adult themes and rather coarse descriptions of sex and masturbation, unexpected in a young adults book). A sage character reminded me of the little old wizard in the dungeons and dragons TV series, and Yoda for some reason, which I found that rather amusing. Not a deep read, but an enjoyable one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Australia Post, still screwing up

Australia Post has been screwing up mightily in all ways when dealing with anything for the past month or so. I am continually getting letters and parcels for the wrong address. This is a fire-able offense if repeated.

A UPS parcel arriving tracked at the highest priority from the States was lost in the delivery system because it exits the tracking system when duty is needed, and is thus no longer traceable. They sent Bernie to one Post Office, who then sent him to another only to be told wait until the end of the week, "it might turn up". He actually went back the next day and by accident saw his name on a sheet of paper and forced them to check it out. As it turns out, it had been at that post office for nearly a week.

Parcels are also continually left at the front door if no one's home. If parcels are not delivered (as required when no one is home), no cards are left at the time of delivery, but only sent a week later from the Post Office who received undelivered parcels. Both of these things are part of the driver's contract, and if repeated, are fire-able offenses.

Today I received a phone call from the Australian Passports office complaining that I did not hand in my emergency passport. I had included it with my application and told the Post Office person that it must be attached to and forwarded with the application, as was explained to me by the embassy in Germany. Apparently they also screwed up believing I didn't need my change of name certificate (and convincing me of it), as my name on the birth certificate was the same as on the emergency passport. I now need to send a certified copy of both sides of the change of name certificate through to the Passports office ASAP. Note, this is after I had to visit the post office three times to get to the stage where they would accept my application (for reasons of: photos not being wide enough/white even though I ended up submitting exactly that photo, (which was fine with the Passports office), and ensuring I apply only within the times as specified for dealing with applications).

I'm wondering when the delivery aspect was privatised (those workers are now contracted), because it's degraded very badly over the last year, and especially in the last couple of months.I'm also quite worried about this service, as I need to submit my original documents to the British Embassy in Canberra for my passport application this week, and then send them off again with original receipts to the claims department of the insurance company. That's four trips through the broken postal system where they could be irretrievably lost.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Of fish and grumpiness

The phone rang every 5-10 minutes from about 5:45am this morning till 6:30, typically they hung up before I could get to it, and it was most definately a wrong number. Grrr....

Note to self - don't go walking outside in the sun for "just a couple of hours" without loads of sunscreen. Ow... I've never lobstered my hands before :-\

I have been looking at indoor water fountains for a while, and typically the price ranges from about $80 to $700 or more. This is ridiculous, so I decided I should make one myself. I found a teensy pump for $13, add another $10 for pebbles, and probably up to $5 for a bowl, and I'll have made a neat fountain for under $30. This is going to be in my office, as I hate computer hum - it distracts me enormously. This is going to be important as this semester I am only going to do consulation and loads of marking, no teaching. I'll only be there 2 days a week in general, obviously more often when I'm marking assignments (typically in several 11 hour stints).

Hopefully this will also give me enough head space to get a move on with honours and health stuff. It should also give me ample time at home in the garden to enjoy it. Speaking of the garden, we had a huge fire risk on the weekend - a 4 point powerboard was left connected and hanging around the back garden, open to the elements. It had been fine until the last week or so. I noticed a very large spark and some smoke when hanging washing out, it was completely covered in soot when turned over. The electrical connection is now isolated, and we are waiting for an electrician to find out to where it connects and to disconnect it at the source.

The pond has been fished to oblivion. It looks like the little tackers (comets) attracted an ibis, who proceeded to eat them all, and mutilate the big fish. A side note - Ibises should not walk along house gutters, it gives the appearance of a cartoon. The pond is now void of fish and it depresses me each time I look out. I think it's time to clean it out, divide the lillies and val, build a wire cover, weed all around it, and see if we can get the pump going, then of course, restock with lots of fish. The lillies are too large, so I'll have some available for picking up in the next month or so. Contact me if you are interested in grabbing some repotted, divided water lillies or val, both of which grow like monsters.

East of Midnight, by Tanith Lee

East of Midnight - Tanith Lee

I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It was a shift from sci fi settings back to my starting realm of fantasy, however it was still slightly political. Contrasting worlds, with similar problems, add in a body swap across realms, magical abilities, and a story written simply, but effectively, and you end up with an interesting easy read. East of Midnight, and indeed Tanith Lee is often billed as a children's author, but I enjoy her writing as much now as I did when I was younger.

Sunday, February 8, 2004

New photos

There is an interesting spider hanging around the house at the moment that looks like a stick insect. Bernie decided to play with his new camera, but didn't trust the spider ;> The deciduous magnolia has decided it is time for spring and is flowering, and the water lilly likes having been moved into the sun.

Saturday, February 7, 2004

Drugged...

It is interesting how even a shortish (month long) break from pain killers can increase their effectiveness upon using them again. Mersyndol forte is currently knocking me around, fogginess in my head is bad enough that I can not really hold a coherent conversation, and I get distracted very easily. Which is an impossible state from which to write an exam. Or, in fact, to write outlines for 2 papers I need to complete before semester 1 starts. Or to read Tolkien, or update

Friday, February 6, 2004

Pain.. and other things

Switching pills is a pain, literally. I don't want to mix different types of hormones, so I'm giving myself a break, thus I have to suffer a week or two of horrid pain. This is only a month since my last period (normally I have three months).

I had been trying to get free of codeine for a bit, as I was needing to ramp up my dose of Mersyndol forte to 2-3 tablets every few hours to knock a migraine/crampy day on it's head. When I get to that dosage, I try to go cold for some months. Codeine dependence actually seems to increase pain levels, so you need more of it. Codeine withdrawal increases depression, moodiness, and overall pain, especially pressure pain (ie - much more sensitive to massage, even a light massage can cause a lot of pain if on knotted muscles). Lying in the bath the other night hurt my back like crazy if I tried to not get my hair wet (and thus leak blueness). But... I can't get through a period without painkillers *sigh*

My ePharmacy order is awaiting stock. Argh! I needed that shipped yesterday/today as I need to start the Minulet pill on Tuesday at the latest. Usually they ship the moment they receive the prescription (which they got on Thursday morning), but maybe they are out of Minulet. There was a $9 difference between the ePharmacy price and a normal pharmacy price, per packet (2 months) for this pill, which is ridiculous! Postage is only $4.50 so I end up saving $14.50 just on this prescription, but if I had known it may not make it in time, I would have paid the extra.

I am surrounding myself with things to help me regain some (any) enthusiasm for life. So I have bought several indoor plants, expanded my gemstone collection, and am awaiting the health to get out into the garden to start the vegie patch and clean up the front yard. Indoor plants have such a calming influence, even though I can't keep them in good condition for long. I really miss the garden I had at my previous house. Bernie bought me flowers (roses!) yesterday. I haven't had flowers for so long, and I used to bring them inside from the garden all the time. The only flowers in this garden are spring bulbs, obviously not available now.

The pond fishies have new playthings - 10 small comets (gold fish) were added, and we can't see them. I hope the big goldfish haven't eaten them. New fish and many plants seemed to have calmed the red-tail black shark in the tank down too. He is limiting himself to only chasing the black widow tetras now and again. The four new angels are very cute, being around the size of a 5 cent piece, a little different to the 8cm monster I lost before I moved. Clown seems a little happier too. I guess plants all round are a good influence, now... I just need to write an exam.... hope the mersyndol doesn't affect me too much. I'll need a bunch of people to test sit it and proof read (no... current students or friends of current students can not do this).

Monday, February 2, 2004

Another doc-day

This weekend (and today) has been fairly hectic and stressful. Saturday we had to drive a fair way for a podiatrist appointment, and instead of being consulted, they just handed me my (fixed) insteps, saying they wouldn't charge me for them. I would expect not, they stuffed up the fitting in the first place.

Sunday was a family day, Bobby (my mum's neurotic dog), was usually found flopped on my lap like a cat. Fran asked when Bernie and I were getting a dog. I don't know why I give off dog-person vibes, I'm very definitely a cat person. Anyway, I stole a number of lavender and daphne cuttings to try to propogate them. The lavender bush I mangled was actually grown from one I gave nanna about 10 years ago, and is an incredibly huge plant. I hope the cuttings take, then I can have my own dried lavender to make things with.

Today involved being stuck with needles by a new acupuncturist. He is probably very good, but his english is limited, and I don't know if he knows what adenomyosis is. The practice is also located in Caulfield South, which is nigh impossible to reach via public transport within a reasonable time frame. I'll be trying the acupuncturist at Wheelers Hill in a month, before possibly going back there.

After a detour at Chaddy, I had my yearly monitoring gyno appointment and find out lots about the pill that I didn't know. I am currently on Norinyl 1, which is a very high progestogen, low oestragen pill, and is typically good at controlling endometriosis growth. However, it is an old style pill, which has a load of fairly bad side effects (depression, weight gain, water retention, thickening of all mucous linings, acne, migraines, etc). This may be the root of my recurring sinusitis, bloating, acne, and despair. The newer pills are much gentler, with fewer side effects, however those with high progestogen still cause acne, depression/mood swings and water retention (just to a lesser extent). So I'm changing to Minulet (at twice the cost of Norinyl), in the hope of getting rid of some of the more extreme side effects.

The gyno also recommended a new 5 year IUD, Mirena, which contains a source of slow release progestogen, delivered directly to the uterus (instead of trying to get it there via the digestion/blood stream). This would reduce bleeding, and therefore pain, and has been successfully used in women with adenomyosis (and to some extent those with endometriosis) to get rid of symptoms (but not the disease itself). I would still need to be on a gentle pill to stop ovulation and control oestragen levels to slow/stop the endo growth, but I would not need the high progestogen pill. (Mirena site)

A side note - the adenomyosis is showing up on ultrasound now. Either the technology has improved greatly in one year, or the adeno has got much worse.

Update - Bernie found an interesting study done in Britain about Mirena.