Sunday, 28 February 2016

Foot trouble

Thistle buds
Harrogate, July 2015
Written two weeks ago. I've been busy, and away - more about that soon, perhaps.

'Last weekend' was most productive on Saturday, when I managed to clear the last of the roses from the lawn and hack away enthusiastically at the bay, the pyracantha and the speckled leaved shrub whose name I forget. One more car-load of clippings to take to the tip, then all that remains is the wisteria and the ivy. It's been good and busy at Lola Towers.

On Sunday I made the trip south to mum and dad, where jobs awaiting me included PC configuration and fixing a new grab rail to the bathroom wall. I'm a bit out of practice with drilling but I dutifully packed the drill as well as my laptop. Things didn't go as planned because about half an hour after I arrived, mum did something to her foot which didn't go away when we ignored it and prevented her from weight-bearing at all.

We were advised by the non-emergency NHS 111 service to put some ice on it and take two paracetamol tablets before going to A&E. With the help of zimmer frames and wheeled office chairs mum made it to the car - the non-emergency ambulance was an option but we'd have to wait for a very long time - and off we went. After two hours the doctor saw her and sent her for an X-ray, but after waiting another hour and a half in a corridor she'd had enough, and asked me to come and collect her. The foot's OK, and we're not sure what happened, but all's well that ends well. I feel a little guilty about not attempting the drilling, but I don't think it would have been a high quality outcome.

At work our diabetes education group finished last Thursday with the most generous and complimentary feedback ever, and the group had even bought and signed a Thank You card for us. My new Diabetes Dietitian colleague was observing the course preparatory to delivering it herself, and I'm looking forward to being able to share this job. Unfortunately we're still a nurse short, so we're still very reliant on the one nurse who is able to deliver the course with us. There's a plan in place for trying to fill this gap, but I think it will take some time.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Sports Headband with built-in speakers

Domed gazebo with roses
Harrogate, July 2015
My mobile contract is with EE, and not long ago they notified all their customers about a free offer of a 'Power Bar'. This turned out to be about the size and heft of two of those large torch batteries, with two sockets on one end and a short cable. The idea is that you charge it up by connecting the cable between a USB port (e.g. computer) and one of the Power Bar sockets, and then if your mobile phone runs out of juice when you're out and about, you turn the cable round and charge the phone from the Power Bar. The other part of the offer was that if you were in town and your Power Bar wasn't charged up, you could take it into an EE shop and simply swap it for one that was. All for free. It seemed too good to be true.

So I went and got one, and even used it once, and then it wouldn't hold its charge any more. So I popped into an EE shop and tried to swap it for a new one, but they told me that the scheme was on hold because of a problem with overheating. True, the gadget did get very hot when it was working. They expected to be able to re-start the scheme once the problem had been fixed.

It clearly wasn't fixable, because the next thing was that the Power Bars were being recalled, and what's more they were prepared to give us all a £20 credit to spend on EE accessories online if we brought our Power Bars back to the shop and handed them in. So that's what I did next, not knowing what I would do with the £20. Back home I browsed the online shop, and was thinking about getting a better cover for my phone when I saw the Sports Headband with built-in speakers for your mobile device. And then I saw a Sports Headband with wireless bluetooth capability as well as built-in speakers for your mobile device, so I could listen to music on my phone while it's in my pocket rather than trailing a wire through my clothing.

I dithered somewhat about which option to go for before deciding on the wireless bluetooth one, and only after I'd placed the order did I remember that my iPod doesn't have bluetooth, so I'd only be able to listen to media via my phone, which has only a fraction of the music and books that are on my iPod. Never mind, it's only for my running a couple of times a week, although because of all the badminton I haven't done any running for a while.

On Tuesday I spent a hour at the Snowdome to remind myself how to ski. It was the perfect opportunity to road test the headband, and it worked a treat - except for the fact that the Snowdome wireless connection wasn't reliable enough to stream music from the Internet so I had to rely on either my downloaded tracks or use some of my data package. But it was still good, and the skiing went very well too. When I got home I managed to buy travel insurance and some Bulgarian currency, so now I'm all set and looking forward to the forthcoming ski trip.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

War of the Roses

Flowering shrubs with the Chicago skyline in the background
Chicago, June 2015
I wish I'd thought of this title for that previous post, but it still applies because despite another three sessions on the roses there are still thorny remains on the lawn. It really is a monster. I have done a few other house-related chores - shown another potential builder around the garage and bought a saw to cut an Acer down to size. The front door has been a bit sticky recently so I've also bought a rasp and a chisel to try and avoid having to use the back door, which is equally difficult to lock from the outside. It's still early days in this long campaign to make my place of residence habitable, but I do dally with the idea of just living in a tent somewhere with a more temperate climate. Except I don't have a tent at the moment. In fact, despite extensive camping activity, I have never owned a tent, just exploited those around me who do.

I have been given a late 50th birthday present by Lola II and especially by Mr M. Together with four other friends, I have tasted nine different single malt whiskies. This is a small part of Mr M's collection, which he inherited from his father. I can honestly say that none of us was particularly interested in whisky, and at least four out of the five didn't really like whisky, but we gave it our best shot and I like it much more now. Mr M asked us what flavours we could pick out, and at the start it was pretty much 'whisky', but by the eighth tot I could almost tell them apart. There was lots of lovely food as well, and everyone stayed over and we went for a bit of a walk on Sunday, and it was a delightful weekend.

The following week was a bit full on with badminton - Ladies matches on Monday and on Friday, and a club night on Thursday. There are four ladies in a team, and we only have three regular players. The fourth has to be rounded up from a pool of candidates, and one of these fell over and hurt her knee quite badly in a previous match. We recruited another fairly reluctant player to join the team for the next match, and about an hour later she fell over and broke her wrist. Another lady is on a fairly lengthy holiday in some part of Africa, and by now we're running out, because another had a pre-existing tenpin bowling commitment. In desperation I approached a couple of random players I know from other clubs, one of whom had never played a Ladies match before, and they said yes and played and it was fine. So now we have another two possibilities, and maybe things won't get so desperate next time.

This week I've got two matches again - Mixed this time, and I'm not responsible for recruitment, so that's a relief. I'm having a bit of a break from the garden to get some admin done, including booking that ski holiday, which is most exciting as we are planning to go to Bulgaria and I've never been there before. I'm also getting those warnings that my cut price energy tariff is about to end at which point I'll be put on the standard suck-you-dry tariff, so there's a bit of computer-bashing required there too. The sleeves have now been attached to the dress I'm making for Sister D.

Meanwhile Lola Towers is fighting back - it has clearly detected a threat to the unchallenged entropy it has enjoyed for so many years, and detached the floorboard in the loft to which the ladder is attached. The ladder can still be used, but not retracted.

Work, then. I miss the accounts that I used to write about things I learned during my degree. I particularly enjoy the peculiar challenges that my patients present me with but I am, of course, unable to write about them because they would potentially identify the people in question, and that is something that I'm not allowed to do. What I should do is write them down privately, and then amalgamate stories in some anonymous way so the interesting aspects can be included here. I haven't got round to doing any such thing.

In general I can say that trying to support people who have diabetes in achieving their dietary aims is fascinating, given that the only tools I have at my disposal are my words. Medicines and treatments are used by Doctors and Nurses, but Dietitians have only theories of behaviour change, evidence-based approaches, experience of what has previously worked or not, and knowledge of human nature.

The most usual consultation in January starts with me asking "How are things going" and the response coming back "Not so good". Obviously Christmas is a difficult time when it comes to dietary restraint, and the next step of the consultation is to find something that has gone well. "Well done for only going off track for two days/a week/two weeks/a month" (as applicable). "So you haven't lost any weight, but at least you haven't gained any either," is another common approach, together with "In the last month/week/few days your blood glucose readings have been quite good." This one is rarely used, because most people 'forget' to bring their meter or diary even though this is what changes or suggestions are usually based on. There are so many ways of trying to move someone forward rather than endlessly rehashing past failures. The rest of your life starts today.

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