Thursday, March 31, 2011

HAPPY CHAPPY

Typically for me, I have been a bit concerned recently about how good I feel! I have been worried that the morphine and the gabapentin were altering my mood.

I did not take any last night nor did I take any this morning. Yet, once I was up I was talking to the dogs and generally feeling quite chirpy. I went to my swim which went very well and I sang in the car on the way home and I have been playing silly buggers with the dogs.

Clearly, I am just in my normal mood! This is my normal optimistic self. I am so used to feeling grumpy and exhausted and sore that I had forgotten that this was not my normal mood.

I am astonished just now strong the negative effects of not sleeping well are. I got so used to it and if I slept for three hours without waking I thought it was a good night.

My balance is not any better as proven to me yet again this morning. As I approached the poolside my balance went. I grabbed hold of the rail of the disabled person’s staircase into the pool and it moved and if it were not for the quick thinking of the lifeguard I would have fallen backwards and possibly smashed my head on the metal railings. Losing my balance is rather weird because it most often happens when I am stood still as I was this morning. It is like my balance just suddenly switches off.

I have also found that whilst I can do things more easily I still have the fatigue effects of activity even if I don’t have the associated pain. Getting dressed or undressed is not any easier so I avoid doing it!

I am so lucky to be living at this time with these drugs available. Before the likes of tramadol and gabapentin I would have just been on ever larger amounts of morphine and suffered all of its associated problems. Thank goodness for pharmacology!

I have also to sing the praises of my GP. Not only is she a very kind and caring person, but she is a palliative care expert. She has special qualifications in pain relief and regularly updates her knowledge by attending conferences. She therefore knows the best way of helping me.

I am realistic in that I have always known that no drug will have the effect of completely removing my problems. They reduce the severity of pain but they do not kill it completely. They also do not enable me to move as if I do not have a problem. It is not a good idea that anybody expect too much from medication.

The same applies to my heart. The three drugs I take for it work well in reducing the risks of my CHD but they do not cure it.

I know that there are other 24/7 pain sufferers who read this blog. Perhaps what I have written about the drugs will be helpful. What also helps me tremendously is my attitude. I am always aware that things could be very much worse for me. I know of other people who are worse than me. I also see others who are worse than me.

I live within the day only. I may plan for the future, like for example our trip to Paris at the end of May, but I do not allow my mind to live in the future or in the past. The only time I have to worry about is right now, this day, between waking and sleeping. Taking life in small doses is much easier to handle.

I certainly do not think about the progression of my disease but I also do not ignore it. I am not pretending that my disease is not progressive and that I will not get worse. What I am doing is not dwelling upon it. I cannot know the exact effects nor the exact timetable. If I think about the future in this regard all I am going to do is frighten myself. Instead I concentrate on now and all the good things in my life.

This may not apply to other 24/7 pain sufferers, but one of the reasons I find my physical problems so easy to deal with is that I am no longer in the psychic agony that I lived with for most of my life. I have found that physical pain is so much easier to deal with than emotional and spiritual pain.

Sometimes, pain in my body will make me yell because it is suddenly severe but most of the time it is background noise. I don’t really know how else to describe it. Sometimes that background noise is just loud enough to be heard and at other times it is like rap music being played at full volume. The most important thing to understand is that it is constant. There is no time off for good behaviour!

If you have ever exercised and afterwards your muscles have felt very sore and your joints have creaked, multiply that, and imagine it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year.

So for you non-pain sufferers who read this, perhaps it will help you understand how those of us afflicted don’t always think clearly and are often not on an even keel emotionally. Therefore, we can react more strongly than is called for. In other words, we are more easily upset and more quick to anger. In simpler terms, I can be a grumpy overemotional bastard!

I am what I am! Smile

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

POUSSEZ

This has been a strange few weeks.  Almost 4 weeks to be precise.  It was that time ago that my doctor prescribed me the new drug. It has been working very well I am pleased to say.  The best thing of all is that I’m able to sleep.  Usually four hours without waking up, sometimes almost 6. I am astonished at the difference just being able to sleep makes to my daily life.  Know it has not done away with the fatigue, no it does not enable me to go on as if there is nothing wrong, but it has certainly improved the quality of my life.

A never ending source of friction, puzzlement, and hurt is other people! I have felt pressured by other people do what they want me to do.  I have found myself speaking my mind and standing up for myself and not being bamboozled into doing things I do not want to do.  This does not come easy for me but I have to say it is easier than I ever would have thought it would be.Not only that it is much less stressful for me in the long run because I do not berate myself for yet again not standing up for myself. I cannot control how other people react to this.  I am not rude or abusive.  I just state quite clearly how I feel and what I will or will not do. I guess if I lose the chance friendship by being myself and honest then I actually haven’t lost anything.

I truly think that because I am polite to everybody and friendly to most people that some people think I am a pushover.  Indeed I used to be a terrible people pleaser. Most people assume that people pleasers want everybody to like them.  That was only superficially the case with myself.  For me it was about keeping myself safe because my experience taught me that if I did not please people my life was in danger.  I now know that that is not the case and that just because somebody does not like me or is annoyed with something I have said or done they are not going to throttle me or beat me. I think when as a child you have been knocked out or had the hands of a fully grown adult male around your throat you learn that to displease is dangerous.  Unfortunately one it’s also too young to understand that one will never please those who behave like that.

In other words do not push me!

We are getting a new car.  The Ford Mondeo estate that we have is a beautiful car to look at and drive but a year later I accept that it is not a suitable car for me. Not only does Big Daniel not fit in it, unless he is taken apart, but the car is also a manual.  It is not fair to blame salesperson to not understanding my needs as I too am not very good at and placing my disability fist.  I think this is because the way I deal with it is by disassociation, which is not necessarily an unhealthy thing.  It enables me to leave the pain behind to a great extent.  However, it does have its drawbacks.When I was a child I disassociated for safety but in some situations it made me less safe because disassociation involves freezing and not reacting. Anyway, back to the point!  I was so impressed with the car itself I did not stop to think carefully about what my needs were.

The new car is a Ford Galaxy. It has an automatic transmission.  When I got in to it I turned so as to enter backwards and prepared myself for the drop to the seat. There was no drop.  When I got out, I just turned and stood up without having to haul myself upwards.  The seat itself was incredibly comfortable and the driving position was excellent.  The vehicle has excellent visibility all around.

A mechanical hoist will be fitted to the back, inside, and this will at the push of a button swing outwards and down and will pick up Big Daniel, move back up and deposit Big Daniel into the car. There is so much room in the Galaxy that I will be able to have all of my dog show stuff and Big Daniel in the car at once and probably my friends dogs and show stuff as well.

With this vehicle I will have more or less complete freedom.  Although I preferred to go out to a shopping mall  for the day somewhere with John, I will now be able to do this on my own.  It also means of course that John will not have to to exert himself either.

From the point of view of fuel consumption it is the same as the car I already have.  It has all the other features that the Mondeo has I accept that it has a key free ignition. One just pushes a button.

I have started another crochet item this time I am using Knitman’s Kitchen super lace weight at 1200m/100g.  I am using a 4 mm hook and it will be a wrap for my friend Gail.  The yarn is 50% Baby Suri Alpaca, 30% Xtrafine Merino, 20% Silk. I dyed it in pastel shades.

Monday, March 28, 2011

DAWN’S CROCHETED WRAP

DAWN'S WRAP (2)DAWN'S WRAP

This is the wrap that I have made for my friend Dawn.  It is my first crocheted item.  I have used Knitman’s Kitchen 50% SWMerino 50% Tencel, 800m/100g. I used a 5.5 mm hook.  The stitch is my own.  I had thought it was a treble but it is not and it is also not a double.  I wrap the yarn poke the hook through, , pull the yarn through, wrap again and pulled through one through one loop, wrap and pull through two loops, wrap and pull through two loops.

I am very pleased with the drape of this wrap.  It did not take me long to do.  I will post it off to Dawn later today.

DAWN'S WRAP (1)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FASCINATING AIDA - Dogging

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NO TIME? DON’T HAVE THEM!

I have just showed trained five puppies.  Three of them are 11 weeks,1 is 4 mths, and the other is 8mths. It took me less than 15 minutes.

Quite often, at dog shows, people will laugh and explain that there puppy has never been on a lead before.  I do not think this is funny, rather it is a disgrace.

It is far kinder to the puppy to start lead training as as soon as possible and to socialise them also.  My puppy start their training at eight weeks.  It is rarely more than two days before they happily walk on the lead.  The training lasts for no longer than 2 min.  Nothing is uttered until the puppy actually walks and then I praise it to the hilt.  It really is that simple.

In my breed it is much better for the coats if the dogs are bathed weekly and the grooming is done then.  I was once told by somebody that they did not have the time to do that because of the amount of dogs that had.  Although I did not say so, my immediate thought was well then you have too many dogs!

The dogs are not meant to live cooped up in cages like battery hens.  They need to be free.  Cages are useful for feeding dogs in and for sleeping them at night or putting them in when one is not there.  However, one must never allow caging dogs to become the norm, meaning they must spend most of their time free.  People often excuse the fact that they keep their dogs caged because  ‘they only sleep anyway’. I often wonder if they would accept the same argument if they were locked in and 8 x 6 cell 23 hours a day!

Those of us who have physical problems have to learn to work around them.  We also must make the dogs a priority.  Other than ourselves, nothing should come before the dogs.  If you have obligations that must come before the dogs then you need to consider whether you should be keeping dogs.

When training, telling the dog off, or being rough with them, may well get your dog to walk but it will not be happy.  By heaping praise upon them for doing what you want them to do not only do they learn much faster but they are eager to do it.  There is nothing sadder than a really good dog who shows like a pudding because it is not happy.  It has associated the lead and the situation with being mistreated.

You do get dogs that no matter what just will not show and these dogs are much better in a pet home no matter how good they are.  I did this with two champion quality males both of whom absolutely hated the show ring and had no presence at all even though they were outstanding examples of their breed.  They live very happily as pets.  I did not read them because I did not want that personality.  One tends to get out what one puts in!

Dog showing should always be fun for the dogs.  I know that the dogs that I show love to show themselves off.  I cannot explain this.  I do not know what it is within the dog that makes it strut in front of an audience. I am glad that they do though.  I do think that my attitude to training them certainly helps to keep that attitude and to develop it.  By heaping praise on them when they strut they soon learn to keep that part of them.  I do believe that the show attitude is within the dog naturally and it is not in all dogs.  However, if one does not nurture it, one can ruin the dog to the point that it will no longer have the attitude.

Loving kindness goes an awful long way. As with people, especially children, dogs develop and grow much better in a loving and kind atmosphere.

We are so fortunate that we are able to share our lives with these creatures and we owe it to ourselves and to them to always respect them and to always treat them with loving kindness.

Re-homing dogs that have finished their career, or who do not make it, or who for what ever reason no longer fits, is by far the kindest thing to do.  They love the fact that they become the sole dog or only one of two, because they get all the attention.  They much prefer this than being in a pack of half a dozen or so dogs.

I know people who will not re-home and they end up with far too many dogs and their older dogs just do not receive any attention. This is how sentimentality most often leads to cruelty.  (With children also).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

LIVING WELL WITH PAIN

It is quite amazing the difference a day makes. Two weeks ago I had been wondering if the time to bow out of life was going to come sooner than I had anticipated.  My pain had been severe for months and I was getting very disturbed sleep because of it and consequently the pain grew worse and so did the fatigue.This despite taking morphine on top of the tramadol and paracetamol and amitriptyline. I was very low and I couldn’t see how I was going to be able to show my dogs.

Then one evening in Tesco I was talking to somebody I knew who mentioned that they were on gabapentin and how much that had helped them with their pain.  It did not really register until five days later on a Wednesday morning when I was at the swimming pool and I had to get out after only a few laps because I was so weak and hurting too much. When I got out of the pool I was very unsteady on my legs and I felt as if I would collapse. The lifeguards there are very good to me and she immediately called for help and one of the male lifeguards me as we walked slowly back to the changing room.

I called the doctor’s surgery on the drive home (don’t worry, the phone is connected to the car. All I have to do is press a button on the steering wheel and I speak from my seat and I hear through the hi-fi system.) Luck was on my side and Elizabeth had a free appointment.  I saw her and as soon as I walked into her room she knew straight away that I was not in good condition.  I asked her about this drug called gabapentin and without any further ado she wrote a prescription for it because she said she thought it was a very good idea and knew that the time would come that I would need it.

Well, I am astonished at the difference it has made.  Any chronic pain sufferers reading this do not get over excited as I am sure you realise by now that no drug gets rid of pain and fatigue entirely.  However, the relief this drug has given me is truly amazing to me.  The best thing about it is that it is controlling the pain enough that I can get some sleep instead of waking up every hour or so.  The first night I took it I slept for six hours straight!

I am only on 600 mg a day and on bad days I can take more and drop down again on better days.

All the all I am very pleased with this new development and I have had no side effects that I am aware of.  The first drug I have taken with out any side-effects!

I am back to my usual positive self.  Pain is a very strange thing.  It can take me quite a while to realise that I am in a lot of pain and it can increase over a period of weeks before the moment comes when I would just rather go to sleep and not wake up again because my quality of life is such that it is intolerable.  It is just so exhausting dealing with it.

Now if any of you have broken a leg or arm or have had food poisoning then you will know what that pain feels like.  I am not talking about being in that sort of pain 24 seven.  Yes, the pain can make me yell but generally it is a persistent pain that varies in intensity and the area of the body that is most affected also varies although there is not a part of the body that does not hurt.  During this recent really bad time the pain has been most intense in my hips.

I was thinking in terms of music that when the pain is dialled down enough by the drugs you just hear a continuous background drum but when the pain is bad it is like rap music being played full blast 24 seven! If I am really lucky it is just a continuous hum.

When my doctor asks me how I have been and I say I have been good she knows that what I mean is that today is better than yesterday.  There is no such thing as a no pain day!

This is still the type of condition that is very hard to describe and it is one thing you have to experience to understand.  If you have ever put your back, imagine that pain being day in day out for years.  On top of that imagine every joint in your body also hurting.  Imagine the effort of getting dressed and you might understand why I spend most of my time in pyjamas!

Yet, amazingly I am content and happy with my life. I have John whom I love and who loves me very much. I have my dogs who I must care no matter what.  They rely on me so I cannot just lay in bed and feel sorry for myself. I have my knitting, my yarn dyeing, my book reading, my music, and my DVDs to watch.  I am fortunate that I am not completely unable to walk and I can also use power chairs which enables me to go shopping and sightseeing etc.  I can drive and have a car.  Without the car and the power chairs my life would be very much the poorer.

On top of these good fortunes I also have my computers and access to the Internet which provides me with so much learning and companionship.  I have learned so much from other people and have experience very moving sharing with other people.  I have communicated with people from all over the world.  It is truly remarkable.  With out the Internet we just would never have had any contact whatsoever.

Life is good.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ANCIENT JAPANESE DESIGN

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This is a sweater I made for myself, based on an ancient Japanese design ( :) ). The yarn is 4ply pure wool. The gauge was 32 st 35 rows to 10cm at TD7. I knitted it on a Brother 940 using the Garter Carriage for hems and collar.



The fit is very good, the sleeves just the right length. I like close fitting collars but I am not happy with this collar. I think it would have been better done doubled over. It also need to be just a few sts wider as this only just goes over my head.




Saturday, March 12, 2011

DREAM

I dreamt that John and I were away and for some reason we had the puppies with us.  I was on my own in a busy street and I was trying to get my puppies because they have scattered.(I often have variations of this dream where I am out and all of my dogs got off the lead and scattered and I am trying to get them back before they get run over or something.) as is often the case with dreams the scene suddenly changes and my puppies are caught in a big puddle deep enough that they have to swim.  I realise that I have to get into this water and I do not like water where I cannot see the bottom because you never know what is lurking there.  I got in and I managed to get the puppies but then I was attacked by an otter of all things. I managed to shake it off.  The scene switched again and I was sitting on the pavement and many people were walking by but this one woman stopped to help me.  (Don't ask me what had happened to the puppies because they were no longer in this dream.)  She helped me get up and supported me to a taxi but she insisted on getting in the taxi as well to see me back to the hotel.  During the ride back to the hotel she and the taxi driver struck up a strong rapport and when the taxi arrived at the hotel and she got out to help me, she and the taxi driver exchanged phone numbers and they kiss and I thought how marvellous it was that things seem almost arranged to happen.  The next scene I am in the hotel but in fact it is a block of flats and there are work men there and they have altered the staircase which made it more or less impossible for me to get to my flat.  they had turned it into a slide and they seemed very pleased with themselves because they said all I had to do was slide down and had no stairs to worry about and I was thinking but how would I slide up? However in the next scene I am indeed in my flat and I note that they have done work there too and for some reason, three walls of the flat had to radiators on each wall.  I noticed our suitcases and said to John that we had to go back to the hotel because I had left the suitcase with the computer in it at the hotel.

Now make head or tail out of that! I do often have very anxiety ridden dreams about my dogs being scattered in the open and I am trying to get them all back into safety.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

ROCK BOTTOM

I am one of these people that really will not give in until I hit rock bottom.Thus I suffered a great deal of physical pain for a number of years before I even broached the subject with my Doctor.  I took no steps to ease it.  This culminated in me being stranded in Stockholm Sweden in so much pain that I was barely able to move and John had to fly out to rescue me.

Since then I have used walking sticks to walk.  I persevered with that until I gave in yet again and got a wheelchair because I realised that my life had become very limited.  Fairly soon the manual wheelchair became too much for me to handle and I absolutely HATE being pushed.

Two years ago, (or is it nearly three?), I bought an electric wheelchair.  The freedom this gave me is not one I would give up lightly.  It enables me to travel and sightsee and just to do ordinary mundane things like go to the supermarket.

Over the last few months my pain has been increasingly prominent to the point that even taking large doses of morphine was not doing away with it.  Let me rephrase that; pain killers do not end pain what they do is dial the pain down enough so that one can still have a good quality of life.

The Friday before last I was speaking with the manager of Tesco’s who is a really nice woman.  She takes a drug called Gabapentin, as well as tramadol and morphine.  I think she has endometriosis.  Anyway, when she mentioned the Gabapentin I vaguely remembered that the neurologist that I saw six years ago mentioned this drug.  I refused to even consider it because it is a drug for epilepsy and I had been on carbamazepine before and absolutely hated it because it felt like I was living in a bubble.  It numbed me too much. I was on it for mood control not for pain control. This was many years ago.

Now my pain had been so bad recently that I really began to think that I would not be able to show my dogs and I had started to think that my quality-of-life was such that I really didn’t want it.

I made an appointment to see Elizabeth and the first thing she said when she saw me was “oh dear, you’re having a bad time.” I asked her about the Gabapentin. She immediately smiled and said “what good idea.” She reassured me regarding side-effects and said I could start on the lowest dose which is what I have done.

It has made an enormous difference.  I have only been on it for six nights and for each of those nights I have slept for six hours without waking up.  Not because it has a sedative effect but because of its nerve blocking properties.  That pain is not waking me up.  I still have to take the tramadol and paracetamol and morphine but not as much and I am feeling so much better.

I am frightened of medication because I have had some serious side-effects from drugs, one of which nearly killed me.  I had been given a prescription for tramadol and it was two years before I took it! When I was given the morphine I took it straight away but I went next door to my neighbour who is a nurse and took it with her and then sat with her for an hour.  It immediately dealt with my pain and the only side effect I had was my face flushed. Previously, the drugs have made me feel completely panic stricken and I have had hallucinations.  They have made my skin crawl.  It is hard to describe just how dreadful some drugs have made me feel.

The good thing about Gabapentin is that I can work up to 3 g a day if I need to.  My disease is progressive so drug intake will always increase not decrease.

I am very fortunate that I have these problems now because even 30 years ago there was not the treatments that are now available.

I am unable to take anti-inflammatories the because of my heart problems.

There is no point me promising myself or anybody else that I will not wait until the bitter end before I give in and ask for help. My track record in that department speaks for itself.

It is not a completely negative trait because it is this stubbornness that keeps me enjoying my life day-to-day and planning for the future.  I am an optimist most of the time.  I enjoy each day and deal with each day one day at a time.  I do have to to make myself get on with things.  I am so lucky that I have my dogs because they are completely dependent upon me for their welfare so I cannot lay in bed feeling sorry for myself no matter how much pain I am in or how tired I feel.

To be honest it is not totally stubbornness on my part.  I was brought up to believe that only sissies moaned about pain and took medication.  Although I know that that is totally ridiculous, and that my father was a complete dickhead, it is not so easy to wipe that particular tape.

There is a downside as well as an upside to every decision that we make. I have found that many people will not accept this fact.  Even with the good things in life there are downsides.  One of the most fundamental things that people do not understand is that the more security we have the less freedom we have and the more freedom we have the less security we have.  You cannot be totally free and totally secure.

Monday, March 07, 2011

NEW HORIZONS



This is the first thing I have ever crocheted. It is a scarf/stole for my friend Dawn. I am undecided if I shall leave it as it is, corrugated look, or block it when it is done. The yarn is my own Knitman's Kitchen yarn, 50/50 Sw Merino / Tencel at 800m /100g, Lace weight.

I have tired of knitting socks for now! I have decided to to knit another machine sweater. I was messing about the other day and just did a small test to try something out and have decided it would make a nice sweater, so I am going to make one.Just an ordinary 4ply wool sweater, in Fair Isle. Or to be more precise, in a two colour pattern. (Precision for the knitting police who will point out that Fair isle only comes from Fair Isle and is in hand knitted in Shetland!)



I started a new drug on Thursday night, Gabapentin. It is a nerve blocker. Meaning it stops the pain message getting to my brain. So far it has worked very well. I was able to swim without pain this morning. I am however, in pain now, in my neck and shoulders. This pain is not common as it is usually my joints, especially hips. It is too soon to tell if this drug is going to help but the last 4 days have been unusually good. I won't really know until I have swum at least 3 days this week. THAT will tell me. The good thing is this drug can be built up to as much as 3000mg a day and I am only on 100mg right now. No side effects either that I am aware of.

I will be keeping Fin, Pussy and Plenty from Whitney's litter. I am so pleased without his litter. I am so glad I followed my gut. If I had listened to my head, I would not have used the sire.

Christopher, now called Bear, went to his new home on Saturday, with Tim and Jenny and family. Holly went to her new home with Linda, Whitney's breeder, on Sunday. I only have Dr No (Marten) to find a home for now. Waldo is still here too!

My shows start this month and I am looking forward to starting up again. Mary-Grace is a stunner. Then Winston will follow after May 15th and after 7th July, the other three. Though of course not all at once!

I am undecided as to what to do with Whitney. I do not mean parting with her as that is never going to happen. I mean as regards her retirement. I am thinking this might well be permanent retirement. She is BISS Ch Polielins Whitney with Tantra JW 10cc, 8RCC, G3, G4, BISS. Top Winning Lhasa Apso 2009 Her last show she went BIS. So I think that is a good record to leave standing for her. Retire her at the top. I know she is only 3 and has now really mature well after having this litter, better than ever. Perhaps though it is time to move forward with her offspring and Mary-Grace and Winston.

I am very impressed with the new Adele album, 21. What a voice! Such a mature young woman.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

FROM THE DOG FRONT

Whitney’s puppies are almost 8 weeks old (on Friday) and are really quite delightful.  All of them are playful and affectionate.  I am extremely pleased with this litter overall and I believe it to be the best litter I’ve ever had. I shall be running on three of them, one dog and two bitches.

Whitney herself has only today started growling at the puppies when they try to suckle. She is heavier now than when she did not have puppies. She eats incredibly well.  Over a kilo per day of whole minced chicken with a little bit of vegetable.

Winston and Waldo are both delightful boys and they are 16 weeks old now.  Although both puppies are well made Winston is much more my cup of tea and Waldo is still looking for a home.

My showing days start again next month with a breed club championship show.  From July onwards I will have to decide which dogs to take to which shows because they will all be eligible.

I am looking forward to getting back into the thick of it although I am concerned about how I am going to manage as my disease has progressed somewhat in the last few months.  Hopefully, this is just because it has been winter and particularly cold and also because I had the flu nearly 8 weeks ago.Time will tell.