Stupid hands

I’m really getting bored with whatever’s wrong with my hands now. Today, they were swollen to such an extent that I decided to remove my rings before they had to be cut off. I’ve got no way of knowing how long it will take for them to get better (if ever). It’s really frustrating.

My stupid hands.

I’m upset about having to take my rings off. I’ve worn my grandmother’s wedding ring on my right hand since my confirmation when I was 13/14 (you can see the groove made by the swelling in the photo) and I’ve not taken my engagement or wedding rings off for more than a few minutes at a time since I first had them in 2000 and 2002 respectively. I’m lucky that GG bought me my gorgeous eternity ring for my birthday last June, and that we bought it in a larger size as I already had this problem to a certain extent. At that time it was intended to be worn on my middle finger, but now I’m wearing it in place of my wedding ring.

I’ve been signed off work for over six weeks now already, because I can’t type or do any of the other admin work required for a sustained period. I can manage intermittent typing (which is how I manage to write my blog – with lots and LOTS of rests, every couple of sentences), but even that I have to limit.

I think that the frustrating thing is that I can start things and not necessarily finish them. I can start typing a nice chatty e-mail to a friend, then have to stop for a break. I can start making a cake, or preparing vegetables for a casserole, or peeling potatoes, and then have to stop and do something else after a couple of minutes. I can drive within Cardiff city limits, but any further and the aching starts spreading up my arms.

My sleep is affected because I’ve been told I should try and sleep with my arms straight. That’s really hard, unless you sleep on your back (which I can’t!), and I keep waking myself up, conscious that I’ve lapsed back into my foetal position! So I wake up tired every morning – I feel very sorry for my family!

So, I’ve no idea if it’s carpal tunnel syndrome, medial nerve damage, ulnar nerve damage or something else altogether. I just wish someone could work it out!

**Edited to add – yes, I do have wonky index fingers, before anyone notices and feels the need to question my (already questionable) photography!

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Quick question…

…do any of you think that I¬†could be allergic to chickens or pigs?

I’ve been having various blood tests recently, which show that I’m allergic to something, but the doctor can’t put her finger on what. Jo said that I should ask whether it could be pigs or chickens, given that I frequently cuddle members of both species when I spend time at the farm. I didn’t really think anything of it, until this evening when I’ve got a really runny nose (sorry if that’s too much information!), a sinusy type headache (seems to be focussed on the front of my forehead and behind my nose) and a general feeling that something’s not quite right. Or am I being over-sensitive to my symptoms, and just tired from a busy day, headachey after unaccustomed time in the sunshine (I did have a headscarf protecting my head from the worst of the sun) and sniffly after moving the straw from pig ark to pig ark?

Any answers/advice?

Cheers!

Update on the germ-ridden whole that is me!

Yesterday I posted a short note about my various ailments – thrilling! However, I just thought I’d do a quick update before I go and do something other than staring at the computer screen. That way, maybe I’ll have something interesting to write later on.

So, I saw the doctor yesterday afternoon and she did indeed offer a miracle cure – penicillin. I have, it turns out, tonsillitis and an ear infection to add to the conjunctivitis. I don’t do things by halves! Also, it turns out that I have eosinophilia, an elevated amount of white blood cells responsible for fighting allergens in my body. So I may have developed an allergy to something. Also, my doctor said that the disorder in my blood cells probably led to my immune system being weakened which in turn has led to my having Handsome’s sore throat and it turning into tonsillitis, and also having Cheeky’s conjunctivitis, but worse!

Ah, the fun it is being me right now is indescribable!

I’ve got all the windows in the house open, giving it a thorough airing while it’s not too cold outside. Hopefully that will help to blow the germs away. I don’t feel up to going out for a walk today, so this will be the nearest I get to fresh air and exercise!

Lack of provision for Stroke survivors in Mid-Wales

I was disappointed but not unduly surprised to read today about the lack of rehabilitation and related aftercare that there is in Mid Wales for survivors of strokes. I grew up in Mid Wales, in the county of Ceredigion, and the local people grew accustomed to having to travel long distances for health care. My neighbour had a young daughter with arthritis; they travelled to Oswestry (a journey of several hours) regularly for her treatment. My friend Delyth in High School had to travel to Cardiff when she was younger for treatment of (I think) a heart condition, and when another neighbour was pregnant with some complications, she was transferred to hospital in Cardiff (3 hours away from her home) in order to receive the needed care. These are just a few of the examples – I could go on. However, due to the low population density in the area I think it is probably overlooked for some of the more crucial services as not being ‘cost effective’. Thus people who are already going through a lot in their everyday lives, coping with illnesses and disabilities are forced to travel many many miles to seek the healthcare they need.

My mother and father in law moved to Cardiff from Aberystwyth in May 2002. One month later, my father in law suffered a stroke, which left him without the sight in one eye, very much weaker on one side and greatly affected his voice (he used to have a strong, resonating bass singing voice, but after his stroke he couldn’t sing at all and his speaking voice was much weaker and less defined than it used to be). He was ‘fortunate’ in that he had his stroke after leaving mid-Wales and therefore had access to the facilities in Cardiff. He was admitted to the University Hospital of Wales immediately, and later transferred to the ‘West Wing’ unit for rehabilitative care. Although he never fully regained his previous state, he recovered as much as he was able in a relatively quick time, thanks to the great care he received from the medical teams at these two places. I dread to think how his final few years would have been (he passed away in 2006) had he not received prompt and efficient care directly after that stroke.

Marmalade

In my fruit and veg box I have been receiving oranges and a lime over the past couple of weeks. I enjoy satsumas but I’ve never been the biggest fan of large eating oranges. So when I got these in my pick and mix box I decided that I should do something new and creative with them rather than letting them go to waste. First thought that came into my mind – Marmalade!

I’ve got a couple of really good recipe books – one by Mary Berry and the other is “Reader’s Digest Cookery Year” – which I call on whenever I want to try something new. And so I looked through them and, true to form, the Reader’s Digest book had detailed instructions describing the production of a range of marmalades. As I had a few different citrus fruits I decided to make the three fruit marmalade with a twist – I used four fruits as I had limes as well as oranges, lemons and a grapefruit. And so, I bought the sugar and got chopping.

I had to leave the fruit to soak in water overnight to try to combat the natural bitterness and toughness of the rind. Then the pan of fruit was boiled for a couple of hours before the sugar was added and the whole lot set into marmalade. I made jam last year with some grapes that a kind neighbour gave me, and so this was quite straightforward, especially with the clear instructions in my recipe book.

And here it is; a finished jar of¬†four fruit marmalade cooling down before the lid could be fastened. I got six jars of varying sizes from the amount of fruit I had, which I thought was good value –¬†it didn’t look like a lot of fruit! I love making preserves like this, and am hoping to make more before the winter. Plums are on offer in Tesco at the moment – the thought of plum jam or plum and apple jam is very tempting to me right now!¬†

Organic vegetable box

A few weeks ago I started to think about my grocery shopping, and how I could do it in a way which both made me happier with my purchasing choices and saved me money. Welshpurpletree started me thinking more seriously about it¬†when she wrote about shopping locally. Anyway, the long and short of it is that I decided to start buying my meat from the butcher down the road, my bread and milk from the shops in the village and just get my long-lasting groceries from the supermarket. But I wanted to be able to buy my fruit and vegetables locally, and we don’t have a greengrocer within walking distance (with good quality and a good choice) and so I decided to look online. After considering my choices I decided to order a box from Green Cuisine. I was able to specify two things that I wouldn’t want, and they choose a selection from the remaining items which they have in stock. As much as possible of the produce is apparently locally sourced, and it is all organic. Well, when that first box arrived and I started eating the contents (not straight away, you understand!) I was blown away by the difference in quality between that and the supermarket vegetables I had been buying for so long. My mother used to grow most of her own vegetables when I was growing up, and I remember enjoying them much more than bought in produce, but I hadn’t until now realised just how great the contrast is. As I peeled and chopped the carrots from my box, the delicious smell filled my kitchen, even overtaking the smell of the joint of pork I had roasting in the oven at the time! We were so happy with that first box that I ordered a second, larger box for the following week and I have today received my third box.

I like the courtesy extended by the gentleman who delivers the boxes. I like the freshness and quality of the produce as well as the presentation.¬†I like the thought that I’m doing a little bit to help both local trade and the environment by cutting the food miles and I like that it is all organic so I know what is going into my family’s tummies. And even though it is maybe a little more expensive than the veggies I was buying from the supermarket (although I think the price would be about equal if you took the organic part into consideration) I am wasting less as I always overbuy fruit and vegetables in a shop. We ate every last item from the first box and there is very little left from the second box now. I do stock up on a couple of things (literally a few carrots, apples and bananas) mid week, but other than that the veg box has been amply fulfilling our needs! It’s great because even when I don’t feel like cooking something healthy I will be pushed towards it so that I don’t waste any of these lovely vegetables. And if there are any left at the end of a week my husband will benefit because he will have soup made for his lunches! And so everyone is happy!

*p.s. while I think about it, Welshpurpletree, you were asking what my kitchen tiles are like – I’ve left enough of them in the above photo so that you can have a look! You can tell that I completely forgot what my kitchen looks like – they’re not beige at all! Bless me – my memory is abysmal.

New HPV vaccine

I’m glad to see that this new vaccine is being rolled out in the UK from the start of this school year. As I have commented before, I am in favour of vaccinating against serious diseases and, while I am aware that this vaccine only protects against two strains of HPV, those two are the strains which are thought to¬†lead to¬†70% of all¬†cervical cancers. In common with most women, I feel that any reduction in the incidence of this ‘silent cancer’ is a really positive step forward in the combat against cancer. I know that every time I have my cervical smear test I always have a small worry about the results at the back of my mind for the couple of weeks I have to wait to hear back from the health authority. And I am apparently in a low risk category for developing the disease, so goodness only knows how worried I’d be if there were more of a risk of my having something wrong!

Unfortunately this vaccine doesn’t mean that we are about to have a major break through with regard to preventing cancer, as it is unusual in that HPV is known to be a cause of cervical cancer. However, with over 2700 women being diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, of whom well over 900 died in 2006, it has to be such a good thing that, statistically speaking, nearly 1900 women a year will be spared the trauma of this diagnosis, subsequent treatment and the prospect of premature death. It will of course take time to reach this point, as most cervical cancers are not detected until patients are in their thirties. And also, I doubt very much that the government could ever hope to achieve a 100% take up rate for the vaccine. However, it offers hope to the many parents of daughters who can think of nothing worse than having to watch their girls going through such trauma when they should be at the peak of their lives with families, careers¬†etc to live for. And not only daughters, if you stop to think about it, and not only cervical cancer. HPV is also known to increase the risk of anal, vaginal, head and neck cancers as well as cancer of the penis and vulva. So this is a great step forward. It is always exciting to hear about new breakthroughs in the world of medicine, especially those which can prevent so much suffering and heartbreak, both to prospective patients and to their families.