Tuesday, 8 December 2015

DIG351 - Internet Dynamic Environment Design

Brag alert! Final assignment grade for 3rd year web design subject just in! Probably embarrassing if I didn't get a good mark considering what I do, but ‪#‎wheeee‬! ‪

For DIG351 - Internet Dynamic Environment Design, we had to create an e-commerce website using Wordpress.
"In DIG351 you will learn how to design an e-commerce website using WordPress as a content management system. You will develop and extend your existing skills in both technical ability and conceptual understanding. You will undertake various exercises to expand your research methods, technical expertise, and idea exploration."
The goal of my website was to market a fictional cake business using Wordpress. We were required to create our own Wordpress theme, and the ecommerce functionality was provided by the WooCommerce plugin. It utilised images taken by my cousin who runs 2LittleCupcakes, Photoshopped by me.

As the website will come down soon, here are some screenshots:






(Final result for the unit overall was an 87. Best result for any unit so far, very happy!).

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Hip rehab - 6 month physio visit

This morning I visited my physio Amir, and now I don't have to go back until after Easter!

Apparently everything is doing exactly what it should be doing, the scars look good and I can now finally do almost anything I want, with the exception of: yoga, pilates, breaststroke swimming (because of the kick). I also still need to avoid things like weight-bearing full lunges or anything that puts any strain directly on the ligament. After 3 hip operations, I've got a pretty good feel for what I'm not meant to do.

He mentioned the "gym" word a couple of times, eek, and swimming. Just what I want as summer school holidays approach, an hour in the pool every week with kids everywhere. Hopefully I can go at night and it will be quieter. Time to get the trusty bike off the hooks on the garage wall! I also need to do some work to even up the muscle in my left leg, it's quite a bit weaker than the right side. I'm allowed to go back to a personal trainer now if I want, too. Amir was too polite to say, but it's fairly clear I need to lose this 10kg I've put on in the last 6 months.

At this point Amir says I'm at the same point as I would be a couple of months post-arthroscope - the ligament is strong and holding my hip structure in place perfectly. Which basically means any aches and pains are more about general old age and lack of fitness than the hip op! For the next 6 months the ligament will harden up and embed more fully into the bone, and the stitches will dissolve into the bone too, and at times it may be a bit stiff, but by 12 months it's expected to be fairly normal. I certainly feel more "even" already than I have in a long time.

Current issues - my feet are killing me. This is about my body re-aligning after several years of unconsciously protecting a wobbly hip joint. And the area around the knee scar is still quite numb in places. This is because a nerve gets cut during the tendon removal process, the same thing happens to all knee reconstruction patients too, but feeling gradually comes back and by 12 months, whatever feeling I have/don't have is what I'll end up with. It's a strange sensation, the best way I can describe it is that certain spots just below the knee feel like permanent pins & needles without the tingling.

Thankfully it seems the jogging thing is off the table until after Easter! Although apparently that's going to help my sore feet.

Next week I'm seeing Mr O'Donnell, just to confirm that he's happy with everything as well.

I'm getting a few emails from others who are reading this blog - Mr O'Donnell and Amir are referring people to it, which is very flattering! If anybody has any questions please feel free to ask. :)

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Adobe CS5 Update Fails

I've just finished re-installing all the software on my new PC, including my trusty version of Adobe Master Collection CS5, and the Adobe Application Manager popped up and suggested a bunch of updates, so I clicked OK. After downloading said updates, I then got this:

Adobe Bridge CS5 4.0.5 Update
  There was an error downloading this update. Please quit and try again later.

  Adobe Extension Manager CS5 5.0 Update
  There was an error downloading this update. Please quit and try again later.

  Adobe Illustrator CS5 15.0.2 Update
  There was an error downloading this update. Please quit and try again later.

  etc...

After Googling I found this link, which initially suggests CS5 is too old for Adobe to support! http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1464527

What Adobe really means is, we want you to upgrade to our cloud version software, where you then must pay us annually for the privilege of using software that you currently already own outright. Seriously Adobe, f*** you.

Anyway... the suggested fix on that page, in case it ever disappears into the Adobe Ether, is this:
  1. Visit the Adobe "Other" Downloads page, here: http://www.adobe.com/downloads/other-downloads.html
  2. Click on "Adobe Application Manager" to upgrade it.
  3. Open Photoshop and click on Help / Updates.
This succeeded in updating about 8 of the Master Collection CS5 apps, but did not update 5 including Illustrator, Fireworks, Extension Manager, After Effects and Flash Pro.

After another 1/2 hour of fiddling around, I finally resorted to manual downloads of updates for these products, from here http://www.adobe.com/downloads/updates.html#all-products. Which took another 1.5 hours.

I've loved Photoshop for years but Adobe, you now Officially. Suck.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Hip rehab - Happy 6 month anniversary to me

Today I reached the 6 month anniversary since my ligamentum teres reconstruction.

Unfortunately I came down with a virus almost 3 weeks ago which I can't seem to shake, which everybody else I know including my family either didn't even get, or managed to get over in a few days. A week of antibiotics did nothing. A nurse friend suggested that sometimes a general anaesthetic can affect your immune system - which would explain a lot because clearly mine is rubbish! As a result, I haven't done much physio in the last 3 weeks because the slightest amount of exertion results in a coughing fit. I've rescheduled my physio appointment to next week, which means I haven't been back since the last time I posted.

Apart from that - I'm a bit over myself, but my hip is feeling OK. I tried to do some Christmas shopping and things got a little achey by the end of the day, but I don't know if that's from walking around or from not doing any exercise bike. I've managed to get out to a few events and parties in the last month and not be too exhausted the next day. However, my feet are killing me - I've worn not-runners a few times in the last few weeks and my feet aren't happy about it.

The other BIG problem is, I've put on about 10kg in the last 6 months and I'm really unhappy about it. Which I could start trying to lose, if only I could just stop being sick and start exercising properly. Massive Catch-22.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

5 months + 1 week post-hip-op

Today I returned to the physio with 2 hours of exercise bike under my belt. He did this completely awful painful thing to my left hamstring for what seemed like an hour but was probably only 7-8 minutes, then I stood up and - wow! I can now do a quad stretch like a normal person, for the first time since the op.

The weird thing about a hip procedure like this is, after 5 months you don't know if things are hurting because of the hip, or the knee, or just sleeping funny (he's fixed my neck twice and assured me it had nothing at all to do with the hip!). So when something gets fixed that you'd just gotten used to hurting, with a week of a specific exercise plus 7-8 minutes of (fairly intense) pain, it can seem a bit magical...

Next physio visit is in 2 weeks. Between now and then I have to aim for as many 1/2 hour bike sessions or 200 calories, as possible. I suspect he's aiming to force me to lose some weight and let's be honest, I need all the help I can get!

Today I also made the follow-up appointment with Mr O'Donnell, in December. So by the end of the year, the whole neighbourhood will be up for a giggle as I attempt to jog. :/

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Hip rehab - 5 months post-op

The biggest problem I'm facing at the moment is that my whole body seems to be out of alignment. This morning I visited the physio and he fixed a lot of it, but now after dinner I'm feeling a little bruised.

He explained that it's because I've been walking around without a lig teres since 2009, and unstable for the last year or 2 since the surrounding ligaments stretched, so my body compensated for that. Now my hip is stable again, my body is readjusting again. Everywhere, it seems!

He tested all my reflexes and it seems I now have the perfect hip, yay! And apparently my recovery at 5 months is where the last person was at 7 months, so that's quite impressive when you consider she's 15 years younger than I am.

The task for the next week is to get 2 hours of exercise bike in. This will loosen up the knee joint and some of the scar tissue that's formed, and then he's going to stretch out my knee and hopefully make it less uncomfortable.

Then he says "You need to make an appointment with John, to get an all-clear to start jogging". WTF?! He says "I'm going to get you jogging or die trying". I said "You may well die laughing!".


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Puppy News :(

We have regretfully decided to rehome our puppy. I spoke to the breeder and explained some of the problems and he said what I already knew - she has a very "poodle" personality, and she needs another puppy friend so she can have the constant attention she craves.

She is really happy when we're around, and completely miserable when we aren't - constant whining and even howling, and destruction just to get attention. I feel like we can't make her happy, and that makes me very stressed. Unfortunately we don't have room for a 2nd dog.

The breeder has offered to help us rehome her. Today Muffin & I visited a lady who contacted me via them - she is looking for a friend for her 3yo dog Jordy. Jordy & Muffin spent 2.5 hours together (I went to the shops for an hour and left her there), and had an absolute ball.

They don't have a very big backyard but she can be an inside dog in an older, very dog-friendly house and Jordy's mum is home all the time and doesn't care if she pees everywhere (she managed 2 on the carpet in 2.5hrs, doh). She didn't destroy anything because she was too busy playing. Jordy's mum is also mum to a lovely 24yo girl with a disability, who fell in love with Muffin on the spot. I suspect Jordy's mum is a far more patient mum than I'll ever be!

Now Muffin is back home from her visit, and miserable again. I promised my daughter I wouldn't do anything until she got back from camp, and I thought Jordy's mum should have time to think about it, even though she already said they'd love to have her, so I will call tomorrow. I know this will be the best thing for Muffin, but I've never given a dog away before so I'm suffering terrible guilt.

We've explained the situation to the kids and they're sad but they understand that we need to do what's right for Muffin. My husband​ keeps telling us, it's not like giving one of the kids away - dogs will form a new pack and be completely happy, and they don't spend their lives pining for their mother. Still feel shit though... :(

Friday, 16 October 2015

DIG351 - website mockup

My fake ecommerce store web design mockup for DIG351. Now I just have to build it!

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Wellness Walk

My biggest post-op achievement to date - yesterday the kids and I completed The Wellness Walk, a 4.5km walk through the leafy streets of Ivanhoe for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre. We walked with my friend Nicky, a breast cancer survivor, and in memory of Dad and Opa. The hip held up well and I'm feeling fine this morning. What a day!

To support cancer research, please visit www.oliviaappeal.com.
Finished! #onjcwc

My little guy, walking for someone who made it, and some who didn't ❤❤❤ #love him #onjcwc

Monday, 28 September 2015

4 months post-surgery


No, this is not me now! From July 2014
Last Friday marked 4 months since my ligamentum teres reconstructive surgery.

I don't feel like much has changed since 3 months, to be honest! I saw the physio again a couple of weeks ago and he's really happy and doesn't need to see me again until the end of October. He said that at 3.5 months post-op, I was already where they expect people to be at 6 months, so that's a bonus. He tested the responsiveness of the new ligament compared to the other side and it all moves evenly, my leg stops rotating where it's meant to stop, I can touch my toes, so that's all good news.

I'm still incredibly stiff but that's possibly because I haven't had time to do much exercise in the last week as I had a big project due. Today I'm back on the exercise bike and cross-trainer so hopefully that will help loosen up my lower back and hips a bit.

Even though I was told it was a 6-12 month recovery, I think a part of me was expecting to be completely back to normal by now. I don't remember recovery from the previous arthroscopes taking this long - I wish I'd kept a blog for one of those procedures now so I could check! Of course, this is completely different, it's not just the outer scars healing this time but a graft healing inside my hip, and my knee recovering from the tendon removal. Logically I know all that, and it's good to see the physio every so often to reaffirm how far I've come - but some days I am just SO tired of myself. It's a really long haul back to "normal", whatever that is. I think I need a holiday. :/

Monday, 14 September 2015

DIG252 - Internet Interactivity Design

For DIG252 - Internet Interactivity Design, we had to create a website that used interactive elements.
"In this unit you will plan, design and execute a website that uses interactive elements to engage the user and enhance your website. Using interactive elements to make your website more dynamic gives you a novel means to engage the user with the topic of the website."
The goal of my website was to market a fictional sports photography business, via the use of an online photography portfolio and a photography “tips” blog. It was presented as a single page parallax website. It was designed to be a primarily black and white-themed website, with colour provided by the photographs themselves. It utilised images taken by my husband, Photoshopped by me.

Interactivity included:
  • Parallax scrolling, which creates the illusion of depth and movement within a website and adds interest to a single-page website.
  • An image slideshow consisting of 4 images which will be displayed individually, at full screen width. The slideshow will automatically progress to the next image, but will also have either an arrow effect, or navigation indicator which enable a user to manually forward or rewind to a different image, if desired.
  • A "scroll down" style arrow on the main page, encouraging users to scroll and activate the parallax experience.
  • An image gallery/portfolio with a hover effect on mouse-over. Clicking on an individual image resulted in a pop up in a lightbox.
I've taken down the live version of my DIG252 project now and obviously it is difficult to show interactivity via a flat image, but here is what the final version looked like:


(Final result was a 79. Not QUITE enough to squeeze into a HD, but very happy!).

**Update: I've put an archive of the site here **

Monday, 31 August 2015

3 months post-surgery

This week marks 3 months since my ligamentum teres reconstructive surgery.

The scars are healed and starting to fade a little. I use BioOil every day and was told to press down hard on the scars when applying, particularly on the knee scar, to stop big lumpy scar tissue forming, and this has worked quite well. This is what they look like now. Could be worse!


I've been trying to keep up with the exercise bike/cross-trainer physiotherapy every 2nd-3rd day, and a 3km walk at least once a week. This is getting much easier. I don't really have much pain in my hip or knee now, just a LOT of stiffness. I still can't bend my knee back behind me though. You don't realise what those tendons at the back of the knee do until you get one removed! At night I still take Panadol Osteo, and some nights if it's really uncomfortable then I take Panadeine, but during the day I'm mostly OK without taking anything.

Over the last week I've been busy and only managed one session on the bike/cross-trainer, although still did a fair bit of walking. This week my left butt started to ache, just below where the top of my jeans sit, which is where I used to have most of the hip pain, and my lower back has been really sore so I was a little worried it was because I hadn't done enough physio this week. It turns out this happens to everyone at some stage, somewhere between 10 weeks and 6 months post-op. For some people it happens more than once. The physio said everyone comes in worried they've either over or underdone the physio, but it has nothing to do with it.

It's basically because the graft is really starting to attach, new tissue and scar tissue is forming, nerves are starting to re-form and it's all very tight because it's new. The physio tested the new ligament and it's all intact and working exactly as it should, so there's nothing to worry about. I'd been feeling a bit hunched-forward and that I'd suddenly developed a big duck-bum, but he did a little work at the front of my hip and also on the achey butt bit and it all suddenly loosened up and now the duck-bum isn't quite as pronounced!

Stairs are still a little difficult, and I find walking up a slope more difficult than on a flat surface. But I'm not limping any more so that's all good. I still get really tired much more quickly than before, but hopefully I'll start dropping some weight as the movement increases so that should help.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Rebel Sport, "The Home of Netball" ... :/

Several months ago I wrote about a visit to Rebel Sport and our search for female sport authorised apparel - ie. netball. Rebel Sport did engage with my feedback at the time and while I often use this blog to make a point, I'm not generally the flag-waving protester type so I was happy to leave it at that.

Last week, however, I was lucky enough to spend 2 days with my daughter at the Netball World Cup 2015 in Sydney. Imagine my surprise on the first day when I saw this advertising, flashing around the court:


Wow! Really?! WTF?!

So, yesterday I visited my local Rebel, aka "The Home of Netball". We found the same rows of authorised apparel for men's sports, and we also found the same small netball equipment section (unfortunately under a "Soccer" heading but.. you know). Still no shoes but if I want a clipboard or a netball, Rebel's got it. So I asked a very helpful lady if "The Home of Netball" had any netball authorised apparel.

Success! There is now a single rack containing two of the official Australian Diamonds authorised tops!


Granted, a single rack is not the same as the row-upon-row of AFL, rugby, soccer, cricket and (men's) basketball merchandise, and it's kind of hidden amongst other green and gold (men's) stuff, and there is still no ANZ Championship/Vixens merchandise in sight, but still - progress. I'm calling that a (minor) win. :)

"The Home of Netball" lady said it was the first time she'd ever seen any official netball apparel in-store. I said I was rapt, and explained my previous search and she got on board and said she was going to discuss it with her manager. I asked her if more people requested it, would it help, and she said it definitely would.

So, get on board netball fans! Go down to your local "The Home of Netball" and ask about official netball merchandise!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Netball World Cup 2015, Sydney

I was lucky enough to spend 2 days with my daughter at the Netball World Cup 2015 in Sydney last week. What an experience!

We attended Day 5 and Day 6 which were Qualification rounds, so we saw 6 games on each day, including the (now world champion) Australian Diamonds, NZ Silver Ferns twice and England's Roses play twice each.

Here are some of our pics:

Pretty happy with our seats :) (Even though my husband saw me on TV eating a burger doh!)


Em with the Netball World Cup trophy #NWC2015
The crowd was fantastic. We found ourselves sitting in front of the Scotland Thistles parents for one Scotland game, so we joined in cheering for #teamscotland. One of the lovely ladies even gave Em a Scotland wristband!

We have the Scotland team's mums sitting behind us for Barbados v Scotland game. Em now officially part of #teamscotland (for one game only!) :/ #NWC2015

We stayed at the Novotel, as did the NZ Silver Ferns, South Africa, Uganda and Samoan national teams, so we saw lots of netballers around the place! Em was very excited to share a lift with Maria Tutaia, NZ's 4th Centurion, who was lovely and kind enough to pose for a photo (even though we were wearing the "wrong" colours!).

And to cap off a great day.. shared a lift with Em's fave NZ player, Maria Tutaia! :)
The next morning at breakfast, we spotted Norma Plummer, ex-Australian Diamonds coach and player and current South Africa head coach. She was very happy to pose for a photo, and asked Em about netball, which position she liked to play and then eyed me and said to her "Well you look like you might get nice and tall - train hard and do what your coaches tell you and you never know". Not sure who was beaming more, Em or I!

Look who we ran into! Em with Norma Plummer, one of the greatest netball coaches ever <3 #NWC2015
FanFest was a lot of fun!

#NWC2015 Fan Fest with @emilycf3 #thingsyoudoforyourkids
We also climbed to the top of Allphones Arena to take this shot looking down at the court:


And here is Em "commentating" at Fanfest LOL:



All in all it was a fantastic experience, one we'll both never forget! :)

Monday, 3 August 2015

10 weeks post-surgery - physio appointment

So there I was, feeling guilty that I hadn't done the swimming part of the physio list from 2 weeks ago, and had only just gotten up to the "starting" point of 10 minutes on bike/x-trainer... turns out, "I load people up because they usually only do 20-30% anyway". Ha! Nice trick, Mr Physio!

My hip has been feeling quite stiff, which is apparently a good thing. Apparently not having a lig teres means you get used to having an overly-flexible/wobbly hip joint, but having it feeling stiff is a good thing, and how it should be. Interesting.

The two biggest things to note at Week 10 are:
  1. For several years now, I've had chronic pain across my back and around the left side of my hip. Massage, pilates, walking would all help in the short term but it always came back. I barely had a night's sleep without Panadol Osteo. Now - gone. Completely gone. Lower back is quite stiff, hips are stiff, knees are really stiff - but it's the same on both sides.
  2. My knee hurts a LOT more than the hip. I can walk almost evenly, but going up and down stairs I turn into a creaky old lady. I'm virtually incapable of a simple bend at the knee to lift my foot up behind me.
Therefore, the task for the rest of this month is to keep doing the physio, and practice the knee bend every day. The goal is to do it 6 days in a row, without any pain during or after.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

New business website!

Finally got my new business website going! WebSolutionZ.com.au

Fully responsive Joomla!3.x website using RocketTheme's Chimera template. Love it!


Monday, 27 July 2015

Reflections

This morning I went to the funeral of my lovely neighbour Pat, who passed away last week at the age of 85. Her friend Merle spoke at the service, it was very moving. They met as "adolescents" - the term "teenager" didn't exist back then. They were friends for over 70 years!

Merle said she'd moved to the country for several years and "many letters were passed back and forth" until she moved back to Melbourne. It made me think about how we live today, with social media. I know I'm not very social in the real world, I struggle with small talk and gossip and drama and crowds, and it's often far more appealing to just stay home. In a way I try to make up for that by being social online, but it's not the same.

It made me wonder how many of the people I know now, on and offline, will know enough about me to be able to stand up and talk about me when I'm 85, the way Merle did today...

Monday, 20 July 2015

Juice!

Time to clear out some of those post-op drugs in the system. Inspired by my dear friend Vicki, who did this a while ago. smile emoticon I've started simple with recipes from this blog post. Today's lunch was a Strawberry-Pineapple-Mint Juice. Yummy! (although my version did not look anything like that).

http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/30-days-of-juicing

8 weeks post-surgery - physio time!

Visited the physio for my 8-week post-op checkup today. It's all good news - everything is happening on track. The best news is, my wounds are healing better/cleaner than the last lady, who is 15 years younger than me! Have informed my husband I am better than a 30 year old. :P

Here's the new physio regime for the next 2 weeks. Should keep me busy! :)
Back into it! No more couch time.. :) #8weeks #rehab #physio #hipreconstruction #ligamentumteres #recovery

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Syncing your Samsung smartphone to Microsoft Outlook

I recently upgraded from an HTC One X Android smartphone, to a brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Android smartphone.

Before Android, I had a Windows phone and before that, many versions of PalmPilot. I've used Microsoft Outlook for 20+ years with a variety of different email accounts, and for the last 10 years a standard Gmail account. With both the Windows phone and Palm, I could sync easily my Outlook Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notes to whatever device I was using, for free. All that changed when I went Android (which I love in every other respect, except this).

Once I got my first HTC Desire in 2010, I suddenly found that the only way to sync using the provided HTC Sync Manager software was via USB cable, but it would only sync Outlook's Calendar and Contacts. I've worked around that by finding other apps such as Evernote to handle Tasks and Notes. (It also repeatedly attempted to suck every image and music file from my PC onto the phone, which I fought on an ongoing basis, but I digress).

My biggest (only) reservation about moving to Samsung hardware was their crappy sync software, Samsung Kies. I tried helping a friend set this up for her Samsung a year or so ago - it worked for a week and then came up with a random error message - when we Googled that message, there were 40-odd pages of people reporting the same error - AND NO FIX. A simple Google search reveals the extent of the horror that is this software, so that was never going to happen.

You'd think if you had a Microsoft PC with Outlook, a standard Gmail account and an Android phone, syncing the Calendar, Contacts and Tasks from PC to phone should be easy, right? Nope...

My desktop PC is a rather old Windows 7 64-bit. Back in 2010 I thought I could just sync my Outlook calendar into Gmail, then sync the phone to that. Nope. Google and Microsoft do not want to play nicely so you can't do that with a simple Gmail account - even now, you need to have Google Apps for Work, Education, or Government. You can't even buy this software - instead you have to upgrade your Google account to a paid version.

As I refused to consider using Samsung Kies, that made a direct USB <-> phone sync tricky.

The only option was third-party software. Unfortunately, I tried this back in the HTC days and some of the third-party apps install their own Calendar and Contacts apps onto the phone, but other apps look for the default calendar and contacts apps. Then Gmail didn't like what Outlook was serving up and dropped data... it was awful.

Anyway - the good news is, for the last month I've been testing AkrutoSync and it seems to be working beautifully. It automatically syncs any Calendar, Contact, Task or Note I add to either PC or phone, via wi-fi and almost immediately, and I don't lose any data in the sync process. The data goes into the default Samsung S-Planner, S-Notes and Contacts apps on the phone, and into the correct Outlook folders on the PC.

There are only 2 downsides to this software and they're fairly minor for me, but may be deal-breakers for others. First, AkrutoSync is only for Samsungs, which unfortunately rules out HTC if I ever decide to return there.

Second, to make this work, it is necessary to create a Microsoft Exchange Active Server account on the Samsung, and all the "phone" data is within that account. The problem is that if I want to invite anybody to a meeting request, it comes from that account and not from my "real" email address. The workaround is to only send meeting requests from Outlook. Having Tasks and Notes back on my Android smartphone though, makes that little glitch worthwhile for me!

** Update 2 September 2015**
Have recently discovered another issue. AkrutoSync takes port 80 on your PC and this port number cannot be changed. As a web developer, I have run WAMP for many years on my PC, configured by default to port 80. While I can change WAMP to use a different port, it means going through every setting and bookmark and manually changing them all to reflect the new port - a big job. Skype also uses port 80 by default, but Skype allows you to change to another port so this was a relatively simple fix. AkrutoSync needs an option to change the port away from the default to avoid conflicts. Currently I need to shut down AkrutoSync to do my web development work.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Walking without crutches

I've been practicing off-crutches at home for the last week or so, and today is exactly 6 weeks since my surgery so I thought I'd celebrate with a video. :)

Still a little wobbly and still a bit of pain - but so much better than even a week ago!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Hip reconstruction - physio and pool-rehab begins

Day 29 - Second visit to the physio today. I'm now allowed to start "weaning" myself off crutches at home over the next 2 weeks, although I still have to use them when I go out. I remember from my previous procedures that having crutches means most people are cautious and will stay out of your way!

I'm also allowed to start walking in the pool. Swimming is also OK, as long as I use kickboards and don't kick at all. Which is more like dog-paddle than swimming, but whatever... :)

Favourite conversation from physio visit:
"I need to do something, I think I've put on 5kg in the last 4 weeks just sitting around eating crap".
"Completely normal, don't worry about it, the weight will come off when you start rehab".

Yay! :)

Day 30 - First day of pool-rehab. "Walk in the water for no more than 10 minutes". "And if you want to do some arm exercise, use a kickboard/noodle/buoy under your body/legs but NO kicking or leg movement, and no more than 10 minutes".

Sounded easy at the time, but ERK - think a nana-nap may be on the cards this afternoon... :/ #coffeetime #hipreconstruction

Met some lovely senior citizens down the "walking in water" end of the pool. Fun times. :)

Day 31 - Next challenge completed! ‪#‎stairs‬ ‪#‎day31‬ ‪#‎hipreconstruction‬ ‪#‎ligamentumteres‬ ‪#‎recovery‬
Next challenge completed! #stairs #day31 #hipreconstruction #ligamentumteres #recovery
Day 35 - Always entertaining visiting a public pool on crutches. Tonight's classic from a very nice, limping senior citizen in a booming voice that I'm sure the entire establishment could hear - "G'day love - hip or knee?!" Last week I was given the number of "a great hydrotherapist who specialises in senior... err... well, never mind, I'm sure she'd see you too!" ‪#‎expandingmysocialcircle‬ :/

Monday, 22 June 2015

Hip reconstruction - recovery, week 4

... See previous post - Hip reconstruction - recovery - week 3.

Day 24 - Follow-up visit with surgeon today. He seems very pleased. He said that in many orthopaedic procedures, situations arise which need to be dealt with, but my procedure was "text-book". Yay!

He gave me some photos taken during the procedure, which don't really mean much unless you know what all the bits mean. But what he also explained was something I wasn't clear on before - how the tendon is actually bolted into the bone. I had a visual of drilling a hole halfway in and then somehow fixing one end of the tendon down inside. But no - they drill all the way THROUGH, and bolt it on the outside! A bit like an ACL (knee) op - here's a picture of what THAT looks like:


(There are no images like this of my hip procedure because it's still so new).

Day 26/27 - Managed to get out of the house to watch my son play sport on Saturday morning, and to watch my daughter perform in a festival on Sunday morning. Then needed nana-naps in the afternoon. Crutches/recovery is quite tiring...

Monday, 15 June 2015

Hip reconstruction - recovery, week 3

Warning - graphic images.

... See previous post - Hip reconstruction - recovery - week 2.

Day 15 - I have so many lovely friends, lots of visitors. :) :) Visited physio for the first time. "What have you been doing so far?" "Nothing! Bored!" "Good, keep doing that, see you in 2 weeks". #sigh

Day 16 - Healing... bruises are starting to look old and not-quite-so-gross:


Day 19 - Finally able to drive again! Not very far though, it hurts to sit for very long - just enough to pick kids up and drop them off!
Can finally drive! Even if I can't get out :-P #day19 #hipreconstruction #ligamentumteres #recovery
Day 23 - Hip is starting to look quite neat but the knee wound is still a bit messy:
Hip (left) looking better than the knee at the moment! #day23 #gettingbettereveryday #hipreconstruction #ligamentumteres #recovery
Week 4...

Monday, 8 June 2015

Hip reconstruction - recovery, week 2

Warning - graphic images.

... See previous post - Hip reconstruction - recovery - week 1.

Day 8 - Some lovely hip bruising and nice bandages:
Nice bruising eh?! #day8 #hipreconstruction #ligamentumteres #recovery
Day 10 - Have had some lovely visitors but not entirely sure what I said to any of them - Endone and Tramadol make me very drowsy! Visited GP this afternoon to get the sutures out, only to discover they are dissolving sutures inserted under the skin and therefore can't be removed. She removed all the dressings though and said it looked really good. I thought it looked hideous but I've never been good at gore... :-/

Day 13 - Happy Birthday to me! It took several hours to get up, fed, showered and dressed but I managed to get out of the house for a birthday lunch with husband and kids. Then back home to bed.

Week 3...

Monday, 1 June 2015

Hip reconstruction - recovery, week 1

Warning - graphic images.

... See previous post - Hip reconstruction - background.

I was lucky enough to be scheduled first thing in the morning - yay! I'd sat around fasting until after 3pm for both of my previous arthroscopes so I figured I'd done my time! However, the physio had told me there were some highly skilled orthopaedic surgeons visiting from Europe who were quite excited about my procedure and would probably spend 5-7 hours taking notes afterwards, so I suspect the timing may have been more about them than me... oh well, whatever works!

Mr O'Donnell visited in the late afternoon and said it had all gone really well, and was the smoothest procedure he'd done so far. Yay! He said he'd also cleaned up the hip capsule and tightened up a few things, and shaved some bone to make it smoother. Yikes. He advised me to take it very easy as the graft needed time to attach properly, and to do everything the physio said.

Here I am the night after the surgery, clearly drugged to the eyeballs LOL:
All done! Home tomorrow. Thanks for all the messages of support :) <3 #hipreconstruction #ligamentumteres #recovery
Day 5 post-op - Due to the tendon removal from the knee, I'd had a lot of swelling and developed what my friend described as "cankles" - by day 5 it had started to resemble a real ankle again:
Hello, ankle! Nice to see you back! First time it's been smaller than my thigh in a week. Knee & hip still disasters though :/ #hipreconstruction #ligamentumteres #recovery
Day 7 - I can move around on crutches very slowly but I keep getting dizzy and feeling faint so I'm supposed to just take it easy.

Week 2...

WEB310 - Case Study

For WEB310 - Web Play, Online Games and Gamification - we had to create a Case Study.
create a media artifact containing a case study introducing a game or game genre to a general viewer/reader.
Here's mine: http://prezi.com/hdpxfi6relwg/

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Hip reconstruction - background

Those who know me, know I have dodgy hips ("hip problems", for the non-Aussies). Most people are happy to leave it at that, but some are interested in more detail. After my most recent procedure I was contacted by somebody overseas who is facing similar surgery and saw my Instagram images, so I thought I would document the journey for anybody who is interested.

Hip arthroscopy is a fairly new sub-specialty which is only performed by a limited number of orthopaedic surgeons. The way it was explained to me was that many people who are reaching their 60's and 70's and requiring a hip replacement, most likely had similar but undiagnosed issues to mine in their earlier years, and one of the goals of this type of procedure is to identify and repair these issues in earlier years and perhaps prevent, or at least delay, hip replacement surgery in later life.

Some background - left hip:

In May 2009 I underwent a left hip arthroscopy performed by Mr Michael Pritchard of Hip Arthroscopy Australia, after ongoing hip and back pain over several years. Don't ask how I did it - I don't know! I remember chronic pain while I was pregnant in 2006, and I played years of netball and other sport since childhood so it could have been anything - but there was no defining "ouch" moment.

I had x-rays and an MRI but it is difficult to see into a hip joint, so we weren't 100% clear on what the problem may have been - it could have been small bone protusions on the femur, or in the hip cavity, or a ligament tear, or any number of other things.

As it turns out, I had a small labral tear which was repaired, and a very damaged ligamentum teres, which is the ligament that stabilises the head of the femur, into the hip socket. There are a lot of very complicated images online that show what this looks like, but here is a very simplified version:



This is repaired by scraping away the torn part of the ligament, which leaves it thinner and a bit more brittle, but still stronger than it would have been with a tear. Unfortunately, my ligamentum teres was so damaged that by the time Mr Pritchard finished scraping, it was gone.

I was on crutches for about a week, then spent several months doing physiotherapy with Amir Takla, a physiotherapist who specialises in hip rehabilitation, and after 12 months I felt great. Amir told me that Mr John O'Donnell of Hip Arthroscopy Australia, one of the pioneers of all this hip arthroscope stuff, was starting to experiment with reconstructing the ligamentum teres, but hadn't actually performed any yet. I said that if I needed it I'd be happy to give it a go, as long as I wasn't first!

Right hip:

One day in 2010 at the gym, there was a big "ouch" moment - in the OTHER hip! Apparently this is relatively common, as there is a tendency, even after extensive physiotherapy, to favour the "bad" side, which puts additional strain on the "good" side. I went home and rang the physio straight away, and was booked in for surgery shortly after (although I still had to wait several weeks to get in). The physio assured me I'd done everything right, but sometimes these things just happen.

In the meantime, the physio suggested a cortisone injection into the hip, which would help reduce inflammation while waiting for surgery. So I did that and if anybody wants my advice - NEVER EVER DO THIS! You know that scene in Pulp Fiction, where they jam the adrenaline needle into the drug-overdose lady's heart? This looked similar, but I was awake (and obviously, it was into the hip, not my heart). Incredibly, horribly painful and the cortisone effect only lasted a few weeks. Ergh.

In October 2010, I underwent a right hip arthroscopy. Luckily this time the ligamentum teres only had a small tear, so Mr Pritchard was able to repair it. The rehab was similar, although I had to be a bit more careful because a repaired ligament is more fragile than "no ligament".

Left hip, part 2:

Fast-forward a few years, and I started experiencing left hip and lower back pain again, which I tried to ignore or justify with "when I lose weight..." type excuses. When people have a hip replacement they lose the ligamentum teres, and apparently 95% of people are fine without it - what are the chances?! Turns out, I was one of the 5% ... :-/

The problems occur for people who have "stretchy ligaments", who can hyperextend, etc. I did several years of calisthenics and gymnastics in my youth so I guess I'm stretchy. The physiotherapy I did after each hip arthroscope was designed to tighten up muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the hip joint, but unfortunately stretchy people tend to experience a loosening of all this as years go by, with the result being "microscopic instability" of the hip joint.

In November 2014 I returned to my physio (who couldn't believe I was back AGAIN), who confirmed the instability and advised that surgery was probably my only option, but he thought I was too young for a hip replacement (of course, geez, I'm only 40-something!!), and wasn't sure if I'd be eligible for a reconstruction. He referred me to Mr John O'Donnell (as Mr Pritchard has moved to Tasmania) to discuss a ligamentum teres reconstruction. More x-rays and another MRI to ensure I was suitable for the procedure, and I was booked in for May 2015.

At the first meeting, Mr O'Donnell advised he'd done approximately 12-13 of this procedure in the last 3-4 years, and all patients had experienced some level of improvement post-surgery, ranging from "good" to "outstanding". He could make no guarantees as to which level I might experience but by that point I didn't care - even "good" would be better than what I'd been putting up with.

The procedure involves taking a tendon from the knee (the same tendon that is used in knee reconstructions), and inserting it into the hip joint. This doesn't technically recreate the ligamentum teres, but it simulates it to provide stability. This is done by drilling a hole into the head of the femur and bolting the tendon in, then pinning it around the hip capsule in similar locations to where the ligamentum teres is attached. Over time the tendon transforms into a ligament. (What's the difference?). Sounds gross, eh?!

This post is long enough, so I'll start a new one to document my op and recovery!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

I've had a very Monty Python-esque morning so far...

Yesterday I discovered a large dead possum, swinging by the tail off the power pole in front of my house. Kids very worried it will come down and land on somebody's head. This morning is windy, so I called the council for advice. Was advised "If it was on the footpath, we can come and remove it. But as it's on the power structure, you need to call the electricity company". LOL! So I call the "Faults & Emergencies" line (it was neither!) and report "dead swinging possum", which as it turns out is a COMMON OCCURENCE for them and they even have a problem code for it!!

Just now I go outside and the possum is down, on the footpath. So I call the electricity company to cancel the "fault", and I'm told that they would only have removed it from the power line anyway, but would have left it on the footpath for council removal. Yes, TWO organisations must be involved in the event of a dead possum...

So THEN I call the council again, and by the end of that call, the lady and I are both in hysterics laughing. She's told me not to leave the house or look at it in case it sets me off laughing again, and she wishes she was on my Facebook so she could read my description of the event. So, yeah, that's been my morning! :D :P :)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

GK's rock!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Well, the bad news is...

Well, the bad news is, I have to stop walking/running/riding for exercise completely now until my hip op (2 weeks today). Swimming only (yuk). The REALLY GOOD news though - the physio says assuming all goes well, there's no reason I couldn't play netball again once the rehab is complete! He reckons this reconstructed ligament will be so well bolted in, my hip should be good until 70 like everybody else! Not that I could play anywhere near like I used to, and maybe I won't at all, but it will be nice to at least have the OPTION again! And maybe I can finally get rid of some of this weight...

He's had a few other patients in my *ahem* "age category" who have had the procedure and now run 5km, play basketball, tennis and hockey and with no pain at all. Cross your fingers for me over the next few months!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Dog fail

Look behind you! There's a bird in your yard! #watchdogfail #puppy

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Veitch wine!

I wish Dad was here so I could show him this. Can just imagine him saying "Oh that's grouse love" <3 :)


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Social media for kids

I'm often asked my views as both a parent and "net geek", on appropriate social media for kids. My approach is fairly simple. As a parent I have 2 choices - try to ban/scare them from ever trying any of it, or try to educate them and encourage digital literacy.

Digital literacy is my "thing". I don't know what you were like as a kid, but if my parents told me I couldn't do something then I wanted to do it - which usually meant doing it in secret at a friend's house so they wouldn't find out! My kids are a LOT like me... :-/

It's a fact that there are bad people out there who do bad things, and your kids absolutely need to be educated about this (just like real life). But there's no need to scare the pants off them by telling lies and humiliating them in front of their peers, as a so-called cybersafety "expert" did at my kid's school last year. The analogy I often use is that it's like teaching kids to cross the road. You don't throw them out there completely uneducated and unsupervised - it's a process of learning.

My oldest is now a tween in Grade 6, and Instagram is the Current. Big. Thing. When I'm asked my opinion on Instagram by other parents, I suggest:
  1. Ensure your child has a Private account. This means they must allow friends to connect before being able to see their photos.
  2. Know their passwords, and ensure they understand that you can check their account at any time.
  3. Explain the only offline friends should be online friends theory.
  4. Encourage them not to use their full name on the account, or to use any other personally identifying information, especially their school or home or anywhere they regularly go where they could be tracked down.
  5. Explain the "no private parts" theory of photography. Throw in the "would you be happy for Grandma to see this photo?" theory for good measure.
  6. Encourage them to ask ask ask, if they're unsure about anything at all.
  7. Discourage selfies.
(Most of this is applicable to any social media account, not just Instagram.)

The selfies item often raises questions - "why bother if they have a private account?" This is mostly about what happens when they eventually de-private the account. Once that happens, the account can be indexed on search engines, and becomes a part of their enduring web presence. Once it's online, it's there for good.

The Internet has resulted in many changes to our culture, and we are the first generation of parents that need to consider these things. The permanency of the online record is something we've never had to think about before.

Leaving aside the pervert factor for a moment - here is just one example. Imagine a potential employer Googling your kid's name in a few years time, and finding pages of silly pre-teen and teen images with duck faces and pouty lips and questionable amounts of clothing (or worse). And then Googling another kid's name and finding a few sensible looking shots of a kid wearing a school uniform and accepting an award, or playing an instrument, or excelling at sport. And then Googling another kid who has never used the Internet, and finding nothing at all. Who would YOU employ?

Click here to read the story of the Star Wars Kid, one of the first examples of a web presence gone wrong. Keep in mind this happened 2 years BEFORE YouTube and well before Facebook, Twitter, etc. so it's important to take that into account today. Try Googling the kid's real name and see how many pages into Google you get before you can find a link without the words "Star Wars" linked to his name.

For further reading on this topic, I recommend It's Complicated the social lives of networked teens by danah boyd, which is available free (legally) on her website. I also have some Getting Started tips for parents here that I wrote a few years ago.

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Multiple Personalities of a Tween Girl

A friend sent me this last year and I laughed. After this week I decided to dig it out again. THIS week, we are being visited by The Devil's Twin. Lucky I love her :)

http://www.scarymommy.com/multiple-personalities

Thursday, 26 February 2015

"Like A Girl", Aussie netball style

The "Like a Girl" campaign, Aussie netball style. Well done Fox Sports Australia. ANZ Championship kicks off this weekend. Support women's sport and get along to a game, or at least try to catch it on TV (if you can find it).



Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Kano - my son's Best. Present. Ever.

Last Christmas we got our 8yo a Kano DIY computer kit, which he says is his Best. Present. Ever. Since then I've had a few parents ask me about it, so I thought I'd put the info here so I can just refer any other queries here.*

The idea behind it is this - kids today have access to devices like tablets or smartphones that are already fully-functioning, but they don't get the chance to start from scratch (a'la Bill Gates in the garage in the 70's), and understand what goes on underneath it all.

The Kano is a build-your-own computer kit using a Raspberry Pi, which is a credit-card sized computer processor. You could just buy a Raspberry Pi on it's own but then you'd still need to get a keyboard, mouse, SD card etc. The Kano is a kid-friendly kit that has all that in it (although you still need to get your own monitor, that's not part of the kit). You just order via the Kano website and it's free shipping worldwide.

After they assemble all the bits (there are instructions), they need to install the Kano operating system and then they join KanoWorld (using parental email address), and work through various tasks and skills, and get points so they can advance to higher levels. There are things like Pong, a music editor, Minecraft and some coding stuff, among others. They're using the Internet, but they don't have free-range.

The Raspberry Pi is that little contraption bottom-left of pic
I have to say that Kano's support is fantastic. One of the tasks they can get points for is to send an email to Kano support. I had no idea my son had done this until I got the email (he's set up using my email account). They replied the next day and gave him the info he requested!

Of course, the Raspberry Pi can be used for other things, there are pages of "Raspberry Pi for kids" links with projects they can do. My son is eyeing off some giant toy spider project at the moment, where you program a Raspberry Pi to make the spider walk across the floor, eek. :/

* Disclaimer: I don't work for Kano or know anybody who does! I just think it's awesome. :)