zeborah: On the shoulders of giants: zebra on a giraffe (science)
I detoured on my long commute home to the doctor's to pick up a script, except I forgot they close at 6pm instead of 7pm on a Friday. So to lift my spirits in preparation to resume the arduous journey, I stopped at a cafe, and while I was paying for my cheese scroll my old church minister came in (and it's just a couple of days before she's heading overseas for three months at that) and we had a quick catch up. And I know, Christchurch is a small world, and I know, statistics, but there's still something about these incidents: that today was the day I went to the doctor's, that I happened to work late, that I just missed a connection, that I decided on food, and decided on that cafe in particular, and meanwhile she had her own series of incidents leading her there. It's just kind of amazing that our life is made up of a series of incidents, even if that's kind of the definition of life.

Also, nearly home now, the bus shelter had a box full of books (and photo frames and crockery and VHS tapes) someone was sharing with the world. I grabbed a couple of Nancy Drews because I never read them when I was a girl and I feel like I should have instead of or at least as well as all the boy-protag equivalents. And then I was thinking how no-one used to do this - leave boxes of books at the bus shelter - until I did it with a box of BookCrossing books a while after the quakes. And if this is the legacy I leave to the world, it's not a terrible one.

And also, for anyone not on Twitter or who missed it there, I'm crowdsourcing some data collection for a research project into open access and conference papers. (It basically involves googling for 2000 conferences. A couple is somewhat fun, twenty is doable, 200 is a nightmare, 2000 is a half-year's RSI-inducing work. So ideally I'd get a thousand people to do a couple each.) A bunch of people retweeted and a couple did a couple, but then tonight I noticed a good colleague-friend had done a whole pile. So I'm still going to have to be obnoxious in prodding all my acquaintance (prod, prod) but I think it will validate my decision to go this way instead of to give up and work with a less ambitious dataset. And it is going to be an awesome dataset.

(Oh by the way apropos of nothing, does anyone want to spend 10 minutes googling to Do Great Science?)
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
I go through phases. There are Reading All the Things phases, and Writing Every Spare Half Minute phases, and Sewing Sewing Sewing phases and Teaching Myself Latin Yes Again I'm Using A Different Textbook This Time phases.

I recently found myself in a lull between phases but it's important for me to keep achieving things or I start feeling guilty for being useless and then I get the blahs. I find it easier to prevent the blahs than to get out of the blahs so try to pay attention when I feel the urge to sit on my couch and read fanfic for too many days on end. Fortunately they don't need to be spectacular achievements: doing the dishes often works.

This most recent lull has lasted longer than usual though so although I've read/written/coded almost nothing in my spare time for weeks, I have:

  • cleaned and tidied like my entire house. Not actually my entire house, the spare room is turning into storage and there are Certain Cupboards, but definitely like my entire house. (Much of this was achieved while watching Star Trek Next Generation on the laptop or I'd have been super bored.) The floor is cleared and cleaned! Mopped even!

  • done so much gardening. Spring is awesome, you put seeds in the ground and they start growing food! (I have asparagus and lettuce and celery and silver beet and spring onions, and am working on courgettes and pumpkins and tomatoes and bok choy and lemons and strawberries.) On the downside, other things propagate themselves by root and next minute you've got a forest of plum shoots and ivy. Over the last couple of weekends I've been sawing down and rooting up eight years' worth of plum-and-ivy growth. The ivy goes into the green bin to be dealt with Elsewhere, the plum growth gets cut up to as much as possible go back on the garden. The parts I've achieved look awesomely tidy!

  • sewed the handle for a carrybag back on! This is an awesome grocery shopping-sized rugged zebra-pattern bag which I've had for ages and the handles broke once but Mum fixed them, and then I carried too much in it and it's been sitting around broken for possibly years and now I can use it again!

  • started going to a regular "speaking Māori" date with some once-strangers! My first week I started off all "What is kupu how do I reo???" and then after an hour I was talking to them about my Master of Library Studies research project. Really badly but communication was happening! Similarly today actually (ended up talking about my current research into open access and conference papers). I need to learn more kupu. Also more grammar but especially more kupu. I might start writing a diary.

  • invented a dessert. I'm working on the name but something like "Jellytip slice" / "Jellytip cupcakes". First you make a base out of biscuit crumbs and butter. Cool it. Separately make jelly but with half the water, and cool that until it's starting to set. If you don't cool it enough then when you pour the jelly on top of the base, the jelly will sink in and the biscuit will float up and it'll still be delicious but it won't be what you wanted. Then you put them back in the fridge. When completely set, you melt chocolate and spoon a thin layer on top of the jelly. This is the part I was most nervous of failing but it's really easy; don't dawdle about smoothing it out but you're not really on the clock even. Then back in the fridge until dessert time. Cut up / remove from muffin cups and serve with vanilla icecream. My friends approved of it last night. Their 4.5 year old son refused to eat anything but the icecream but that's normal for him and meant more for us.

I am now about to go to bed on time so while I'm sleeping it's your turn: in what way have you been awesome recently?
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (read)

“Swan Lake for Beginners” - by Heather O’Neill

A sweetly absurd tale about cloning ballet dancers.

Variations on an Apple - by Yoon Ha Lee

The Apple of Discord, alternate timestreams, and a city.

These two go together:

eyes I dare not meet in dreams - by Sunny Moraine

About the fridging of women, and a resistance to it, and does it make any difference?

Let's Tell Stories of the Deaths of Children - by Margaret Ronald

On the fridging of children. And the forgetting of old goddesses. And temptation and the lies that support it.

zeborah: On the shoulders of giants: zebra on a giraffe (science)
Forget your goddamn hoverboard — where's my utopia?

Every now and then someone writes some screed that seems to presuppose that science-fiction began with Star Trek or Campbell and that the movement to include social themes is destroying the genre. This is a patent nonsense: firstly because the genre is flourishing; secondly because social themes were always part of those stories; and thirdly because Campbell and Star Trek were mere johnny-come-latelies to a centuries' long list of illustrious foremothers.

But the fake geek guys don't actually care about the history of the genre. All they care about is what they read and saw when they were growing up. That's why the catch cry among the current generation is "Where's my hoverboard?" They saw Back to the Future Part II, they imprinted on the hoverboard like a newborn chick on its mother and, ever since, that piece of cheap technology is all they want of the future.

What this doesn't take into account is that hoverboards don't come from nowhere. Someone, or more likely some team of people, has to create them. Back to the Future Part II has no interest in exploring this. It's not the kind of story that delves into social themes; it's the kind of story that knocks a woman unconscious and leaves her in the alley to keep her from interfering in the men's adventure. So it simply has our white male hero steal the hoverboard from a native of the time period and proceed to trash it.

Star Trek, though it was (self-)consciously interested in social themes and depicted the future as a utopia, wasn't much more forthcoming on how its technology or that utopia developed. Which came first, the replicator or the society with no need for money? Zefram's warp drive seems necessary to meet the Vulcans and enable humanity's next step of societal 'evolution'. It's never spelled out and there are a few counterpoints — the Prime Directive at least seems to recognise that technology isn't a panacea — but by and large the general impression, imbibed by the generation raised on the show(s), is that if we get the technology right, society will fall into place.

This isn't entirely unfounded: technology can greatly improve quality of life. Birth control, immunisations, water filtration, solar power and cellphones have, together and severally, incredible transformative power. But it's not the whole story. We still need to figure out how to get our hoverboard.

And this is something that the ovular works of science-fiction took an intense interest in. Whether their utopias were reached by the imagination, a polar vortex, a dream, or time travel, they didn't want to just revel in cool technology (although they did that) or the fantastic adventures it enabled (though they did that too). They wanted to know How do we in the present get some of this? And the answers were based in social justice.

Suffrage, says The Blazing World. Education, an end to early marriage, and keeping men secluded in mardana, says Sultana's Dream. Physical and mental training for women, suffrage, prostitution reform, and farming, says Men's Rights. Free and universal education, class equality, parthenogenesis, and eugenics, says Mizora: a Prophecy.

Yes, eugenics; no, these authors were not perfect. (None of us are: we can but keep striving for it.) But they were right about extending education. The more people we educate, the more people can contribute to advancement of society, knowledge, and technology. Like science-fiction, computing was literally founded by women, and we wouldn't be anywhere near where we are today without the integral contributions of LGBT people, of people of colour, of people with disabilities.

But our society doesn't make it easy for any of these people. In the news recently have been the stories of women who left astrophysics because a prominent lecturer at their university harassed them and countless others for years with impunity. The same happens in science-fiction fandom. It happens in computing. And it happens in engineering. People who don't meet the cis-het white male standard get chased, sidelined, and ignored out of the field.

So where's our hoverboard? Let me tell you: it was supposed to be created by a team of engineers who met at a conference and discovered a shared passion and a mutually complementary set of skills. But in our timeline, none of these people are in the field any more. Maybe they got shot at the École Polytechnique. Maybe they got arrested for building a clock. Long story short, if we want a hoverboard we're going to have to take our DeLorean 30 years back in time and fix whatever went wrong.

No DeLorean time machine? Well, in that case maybe we'll just have to settle for fixing the things that are still going wrong in the present.

So first we need to build our social justice utopia and then we'll get our hoverboard. And a lot more besides.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
Someone's opinion piece in the newspaper suggested that we could stop shops starting Christmas too early by inventing a Kiwi seasonal holiday to celebrate around about now instead. She then created and elaborated on one but I'd tuned out because:

a) we already have two seasonal holidays around about now: as much as I dislike the importation of Halloween it is very much a thing, and as much as I'd prefer to commemorate Parihaka on the 5th of November than celebrate Guy Fawkes, that is very much a thing too (albeit its commercial aspects are somewhat more circumscribed by law). And

b) the existence of these holidays has demonstrably done nothing to prevent shops starting with the Christmas already. The instance that particularly horrified me the other day was walking into my local supermarket through the gauntlet of Halloween, and a few minutes later walking to the checkout through the gauntlet of Advent calendars.

Halloween then Guy Fawkes then Christmas, I ragetweeted.

And then yesterday morning, when I went out to pick some lettuce for my lunch sandwiches, I discovered that the Christmas lilies are poking their weird anenome heads out of the ground among the remains of the daffodils.

So, fine. The garden has spoken. Christmas is coming.
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
Patches of high pressure get trapped over Australia for a long time. When they're finally released they zip south-east over the Tasman gathering moisture; hit the Southern Alps and rise, dropping all the moisture on the West Coast; then roar across the Canterbury Plains picking up heat, dryness, and grass pollen. This tends to make people grumpy.

Tuesday night a particularly strong one rolled in and in subsequent days I found:

  1. Summer: we didn't get spring this year, just a short summer, then second autumn (we didn't really get winter this year either), and now summer again. It was as hot on Wednesday as many of the warmer days of midsummer.

  2. A large green lemon: right in the middle of my lawn.

  3. All the straggly birch branches: the neighbours have a birch. I hate it because every time the wind blows, its branches end up littering my lawn. These aren't like boughs, they're twig-thin but make up for it in length, perfect to hide in the grass and screw up the lawn mower. I've never seen so many on my lawn as I did on Wednesday.

  4. A rubber door mat: I took it to the neighbours but they disclaimed all knowledge. Currently it's hanging over my front fence in case someone recognises it but I may have to bin it.

  5. A fledgeling: at first I thought it was very dead. I turned it over with a stick and saw its chest moving rhythmically. It was, however, in fact very dead. I turned it back over with the same stick.

The other yicky thing in my garden at the moment (that was not however brought by the wind) is the warm slime that my huge pile of lawn clippings is turning into. Fantastic mulch. Such slime.

Less disgusting things include asparagus, lettuces, and all the silverbeet. I also detect tiny baby plums, and various other fruiting bodies are putting forth preparatory buds and leaves.
zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
Ordinarily I get my sister to catsit when I'm out of town, but a full week after booking the holiday I realised that since my sister would be coming out of town with us, this wouldn't be practical. (In the event she didn't come with us because she was sick, but that didn't change the unavailable-for-catsitting status.) So I booked a cattery.

It was a very quick process, involving basically a telephone conversation. I was fluttery at the absence of formalities because I was expecting them to require a deposit if nothing else, or even to get a copy of Boots' vaccinations before the fact. But they were unconcerned so I figured I was just anxious at leaving Boots in a cattery for a week and a half knowing that last time I had to take her away from home during earthquake repairs she hid under the motel bed for three days, and so she was going to hate a cattery.

Now one reason I chose this place was she offered pickups and dropoffs, which is helpful since the bus website suggests they don't carry pets. So at the appointed time on the evening before leaving on holiday at oh-dark-thirty I awaited her arrival. And waited. And waited. Trying to keep Boots inside and yet not stressed all the time. So I phoned and apparently she'd forgotten. Illness or something; okay, there's a lot of nasty stuff going around here at the moment.

So it's fine, she rearranges her evening and turns up with her daughter in the backseat, and I hand over Boots and her food and medicines (both her regular food/medicines and her post-minor-dental-surgery food/medicines, along with an instructional schedule) and so forth and am all helicopter parent while the cattery woman is all "I've got this". We confirm the date and time she'll drop Boots off post-holiday. She gives me her card and asks me to drop her an email so she can send me some photos to prove Boots is enjoying her stay.

I sent her the email, mentioning my email access would be intermittent. Two-thirds of the way through the holiday (which was otherwise lovely, I may or may not blog about it separately) I realised she never so much as acknowledged the email.

So late last night I got home (and dreamed of cats and medicines), and this morning at the appointed time I expect my cat to be returned to me. Yet the appointed time passes with no Boots. Still no Boots. So I ring again, and get voice mail on both landline and cellphone. I continue ringing and leaving messages throughout the day. At 4pm I'm literally putting on my coat to get the bus and find out what the hell's going on when I finally get through to her.

"Oh yeah," quoth she vaguely. "I wasn't sure whether it was today or tomorrow. I think I was expecting a phone call."

Nope. A) I was always clear about the date. If she wasn't, she should have written it down when she specifically told me she was diarying it. Or emailed, at any point. Or phoned, ditto. B) We specifically agreed that Boots would be dropped off at this particular time. C) If you're expecting a phone call maybe you should actually answer one of your phones.

So anyway, we agreed a new time. Then followed two more calls to determine which cat carrier is Boots's. I-- I would have expected her to have been keeping track of other people's property herself?

Apparently not. Because when (with both daughters in the back seat) she drops Boots and supplies off (and a new excuse: she was being audited today so busy all morning) I discover upon unpacking (after she's driven away) that I am further missing not only Boots's food dish but also the collar from around her neck with the magnetic nametag that lets her get in and out of the house.

I've taped the magnetic cat flap open, and found a substitute food dish, and left a polite message on the answerphone saying no rush (because those kids do not need to keep getting dragged around) and just leave them in my mailbox if I'm not home (because I'd actually just as soon not talk to her again); and not saying that I'm not yet feeling any great rush to pay my bill either (those magnetic tags are not cheap).

Online reviews for this place are all positive. Probably most people wouldn't run into these problems as they'd pick up and drop off themselves, so no waiting around and they could point out the cat carrier, missing collar, and food dish at the same time, sans drama. But, wow. This is one business card I'm keeping in my stack just so I can scrawl never again all over it.

(But Boots is now home! And exploring everything. Yes, Boots, eat the business card with the dollar figure and bank account number on it so I can legitimately say "My cat ate the bill," that would be awesome. No? What if I accidentally spill deliciousness on it? Aw, fine.)
zeborah: Four zebras and their reflections in the water they're drinking from (reflective)
It was a full moon tonight as my plane took off from Wellington. It was also partially cloudy. So as we launched into the air over the sea, the water was dark except for bright patches like irregularly shaped floodlights. It was quite stunning.

And then.

We climbed up through the clouds. And as I looked out into them I started seeing patches speckled with faint lights. At first I wondered if I was imagining things because they were too bright and orange and copious to be stars. Then I realised of course we were banking to the right and what I was seeing was the city as we spiralled up over it.

And then.

We came up above the cloud. Masses of it were thick and dark, but some stretches were thinner and glowed orange from below; and here and there still were patches clear to that dew-specked spiderweb that night makes of a town from above. Handfuls of city scooped up and suspended to be seen by a window through this ethereal medium.

The rest of the journey was uneventful, until we reached Christchurch with clear skies and a descent that involved about 300 degrees of a circle around the entire city. O my city!
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (read)

Clarkesworld Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy : An Evolutionary Myth by Bo-young Kim

Brilliant, sensawundaful, take on evolution and ontogeny repeats phylogeny set in the Goguryeo dynasty.

Hunting Monsters by S.L. Huang | The Book Smugglers

A sweetly dark story with hints of Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and a slantwise Bluebeard.

zeborah: I found this humerus (humorous)
The neat thing about healing from a significant injury is that pretty much every day you gain awesome new superpowers. You just wake up in the morning and bam! you're Steps Into Underwear Without Leaning On Dresser Woman!

Other recently acquired superpowers:
  • walking downstairs with only one foot per step

  • walking without a walking stick (thank goodness: I was turning into Quasimodo with the strain it put on my shoulder)

  • standing on one foot for, like, six seconds almost

  • bending my foot when walking so some of the weight goes on the toes (but not too much because there's still more bruise-matter than muscle around there) thus reducing my limp

  • running for several metres to catch the bus

  • and as of today, getting into and out of my sturdy ankle-boot without completely unlacing it, using a shoehorn, and/or feeling any discomfort at all

There's this lovely moment in a recent Once Upon a Time episode where Gold has been stuck outside Storybrooke without magic and (I don't think this is really a spoiler, it was always narratively inevitable) he finagles a way back. And as, limping with his cane, he crosses the border, he just straightens into an easy stride and flings his cane off into the bushes by the road. So much empathy with the black-hearted villain in that moment: it's a wonderful feeling.
zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
Zeborah: comes home with takeaways after a long day

Boots: Hi, human, what's for dinner?

Zeborah: It's not six o'clock yet. You don't get dinner until six o'clock.

Boots: But I'm hungry. Can't you just put out some kibble for me?

Zeborah: It's not six o'clock yet and I need Voltaren and a lavender bag and some sleep.

Boots: Please?

Interlude for a chipper dudebro at the door trying to get a look at my powerbill so he can give me a better deal. I offered to take pamphlets but they really want to see the existing powerbill and sit down with you and do the hardsell. So I told him I'd just had a cast off and needed to sleep and yes, that sleep really was more important to me than his theoretical savings kthxbye.

Zeborah: Where was I? Right. takes Voltaren and a big glass of water and goes to find lavender bag for an aching shoulder

The lavender bag has a juvenile mouse nestled in it looking quite cozy and calm, like this is its lavender bag so where else should it be?

Zeborah: Boots, would you please explain why there is a mouse in my lavender bag?

Boots: comes over, looks at mouse, pounces and noms it

Zeborah: takes lavender bag to microwave

Boots: ...So can I have some kibble now?
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
I couldn't quite pull it off this time (well, I was still hopeful but the nurse got dubious so I deferred to her judgement) so she got out the AC-powered rotary cutter thing. I was all "I totally trust that you're not going to slip and cut my foot off but how about I don't actually watch" but she did in fact not slip and cut my foot off. Also she then brought me some flannels to wash the poor neglected thing with, though really it needs a good scrub.

Then another round of x-rays, and then a chat with the doctor (waiting room in between each of these, and for long enough that I got through an old issue of Future Fire - the first two stories of which I particularly enjoyed - on my pretty Kobo Mini in its pretty new case) and the bones were healed enough that I got to put my other shoe on (with some difficulty due to stiffness) and go home.

This was actually the first time I'd seen the x-rays myself. Basically there'd been a chip off the knobbly bit at the end of each of two bones in the big toe. You can still see the line between chip and bone now, but it's fuzzier as things mend. There was a chart on the wall in the waiting room which made the bone-healing process clearer but I was too far away to read the terms for the different parts of the bone.

Anyway my toes remain undesirous of bearing any weight so I'm still using crutches for any distance and one, or at least my cane, around the house. But despite this I'm feeling instantly much more mobile. This is because within a room I can just move around, so dishes and cooking is frictionless, and between rooms I have at least one hand free, so I actually got to carry my dinner to the couch on a plate tonight instead of in an old and increasingly fragile takeaway container in a bag hung around my neck.

I did spend the rest of the day on my couch as per usual, getting through only a modicum of work-from-home due to a fit of feeling grotty. This was not unexpected. I don't understand the mechanism by which removing a cast releases grottiness into one's system, but it is clearly a thing so I was prepared for it.

Back to work tomorrow. My requirement for sleep has reduced from 11 to 9 hours/night but today may be an exception, see above, so probably about time now to head off for that.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
11 hours sleep a day seems a good average at the moment.

Last Tues pushed myself a bit much and stared getting rsi symptoms. Woe ensued, and ordering geoceries online which was nice, then a colleague brought in foam to pad my crutch handles and instant relief.

I then spent time investigating ereaders. My old brand is no longer made so settled on Kobo Mini. But then it emerged after emails to customer service that's out of stock too. Luckily another colleague found one on TradeMe and I even won the auction.

Oh also I went to the doctor and got ears syringed so can hear again properly. You are spared more detail by my ereader having a browser like a singing pig and this being my experimental first post from it.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
In the end I did completely rest yesterday, and went to bed at 8:30 to allow for plenty of sleep. I don't think I needed all of it in the end but decided to enjoy the dreams.

(As opposed to the dream that ended yesterday afternoon's nap on the couch, a flash in which a cyclist ran over my foot and I woke with another (painless) muscle spasm. A little adrenaline, not too bad but still, just the once is just fine by me. It reminded me of a dream I had right after the February quake, again a flash of slipping in liquifaction and waking with a jolt.)

I got picked up at my gate by a friend/colleague, who likewise returned me to it this evening. My ambition is to at least bus to her place and back, but discovered (getting from carpark to office) that my arms aren't quite as strong as I'd thought. The supermarket trip on Thursday fooled me, probably because while it took a long time, that time involved lots of stopping and standing. So, darn. The bus home might be within my capabilities though: the busstop that way is particularly close to my house.

At work I put a dalek under my desk and a cushion on top for my foot. This was about as perfect as one could get without a custom-made desk so not perfectly comfortable but pretty good. At one point for a tea break I tried sitting on the bed in the sickbay (next to my office!) with my laptop, but the wireless in there is hopeless so I won't be remoting in from there any time soon.

So, as probably anyone with any kind of mobility issue already knows, fire doors are an accessibility nightmare, specifically the spring-loaded ones. I bet there's ways to make them not be, because there's ways to do anything you're willing to spend money on, but my workplace hasn't implemented them. (Honestly I consider it one of my major achievements last year to have got momentum going to get a glass pane put in that particular fire door. It's a major thoroughfare coming from the tea room and the number of near-head injuries and near-scaldings was terrifying.) Slightly counterintuitively, it's a lot easier to pull the door (because you can pull it all the way open and then just go through) than it is to push it (because you aren't forward enough to push it all the way open so have to try and do it in stages which does. not. work).

I got stared at by All The Students as I crutched my way through the quiet study zone to the lift to take my ACC forms down to my boss.

Also everyone I work with wanted to hear the story. For some reason "I ran in front of a car" just inspired more questions, though I once got away with "I ran in front of a car. Don't do that." I should have made little cards with the URL of my blog post printed on it.

By the end of the day my foot was holding up pretty well. A bit of swelling, I'd guess, but not as bad as even Saturday after just a few hours at the 90th birthday party. Will duly rest for the remainder of the evening of course. Also my colleague doesn't work Wednesdays so I'll take those as work-from-home days for the next few weeks.

The scab on my knee has reached the point where any member of homo sapiens sapiens (and a lot of other species of mammals, come to think of it) would want to pick at it. I am womanfully refraining, not only for the usual reasons which, to be honest, probably wouldn't suffice, but also/really because there's a numb patch of skin about there so I wouldn't be able to tell if I was picking to the point of would-be-pain. --I didn't notice the numb patch until today because that area's always been Bruise-Don't-Touch!!! but nerve damage seems unsurprising all in all and neither my intuition nor Dr DuckDuckGo find much reason to worry about it at this stage.

My hearing seems to be coming right! <knocks on wood> Not normal yet, but a definite improvement. I'm testing by rubbing my fingers by my ear: before I started the olive oil treatment the doctor suggested, I couldn't hear a thing by my right ear, now I can hear the lower tones, just still missing the higher ones.

State of the Scaredy-Cat: hiding from the crutches behind the couch, which seems an improvement on fleeing the house.

<ponders icon choice> Oh oh I can't believe I didn't think of this one for my first 'got into a road accident' post. Better late than never! --LiveJournal users will have to either click through or live without my frankly awesome array of thematically deployed zebra (with occasional Helen Clark) icons, sorry about that.

(Need more thematic zebra icons. Never too many.)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Despite my trepidation I've managed to sleep pretty much through the last three nights. Usually about halfway through the night, my foot even stops feeling like it's being twisted into some unnatural shape and starts feeling like a foot again, almost as if the cast didn't exist. It's a lovely feeling while it lasts.

Also on Friday I achieved the desperately needed washing of my hair. Clean hair feels so good.

Oh and Friday's other achievement was that after a good night's sleep I remembered that I have a slow cooker. So that's how I cooked my tomato soup. Then I brought it to the couch in a thermos cup I have: the lid doesn't seal watertight, but as long as I have other things in the bag around my neck to keep it upright it restrains any sloshes. And so I had tomato soup and it was good.

On Saturday I had a minor milestone in the shower. Until now I've been taking my crutches in with me, because otherwise I can't so much as turn around. They don't look prone to rust but it's still seemed suboptimal. Yesterday I managed to leave one out and keep the other in the corner that gets splashed the least. But today I discovered that, bracing myself on the various walls and corners in the shower, I could manage not only to stand (the heel is okay for standing still) but even turn around as needed. So the crutches got to wait outside where it's dry.

Another achievement was that it was sunny outside so I thought I'd go for a hike down to my mailbox. (I got a letter from the district health board about my crutches, and a letter from ACC accepting my claim based on the hospital notifying them of my injury. The bureaucracy of communist death panels cannot be halted!!!) And there were all these weeds in the garden and I weeded some of them! And then dumped the weeds on a nearby concrete step to shrivel by themselves because taking them to the green bin required more logistics than I'd planned for.

After lunch I got picked up to go to a church friend's 90th birthday party. This was as rambunctious an affair as it sounds, me being the youngest person in the room by two or three decades, but sitting up with a foot elevated on another chair while straining (with one's good ear) to distinguish conversation near you from the general hum of a large room is still hard work, so when I was dropped home again I lay straight down for a nap.

I've yet to decide whether I'll try for any major achievements today. On the one hand, I could trek to the local library (usually about a 6-minute walk) to get some DVDs. On the other hand I could rest up in preparation for going back to work tomorrow.

The cat meanwhile is being slightly more tolerant of my crutches. Mostly for those moments when I'm pouring out her kibble, but progress is progress. She's also currently sitting warmly next to me on the thin ledge of couch I'm not occupying. Alas it's a cooler day today so pretty soon I'm going to have to get up, turn the gasfire on, and close the doors, and before I've even started all that she'll have fled again...
zeborah: Helen Clark telling an MP: Diddums. (diddums)
Mum drove me to the hospital this morning and I got my plaster cast taken off (it's called a "chop" but all they did was snip the bandage holding it onto my ankle and then I got to pull it off myself) and got a new fibreglass one put on. It's purple and I'll take a photo when I've got the energy to get the camera from the other side of the room.

The doctor's letting me go back to work next week. (I've since made a carpooling deal with a colleague; the doctor also suggested ACC might pay taxifare on the grounds it's cheaper than my salary.) Also they gave me a shoe-thing to wear for walking on the cast. Except this is a cruel joke because I'm only allowed to put weight on my heel. Try walking with your weight only on your heel. Now try it with a cast wrapped around the rest of your foot bulking it up and adding to the weight your ankle muscles have to bear in holding it off the ground. Now try it when your bruised knee can't really flex at a speed anywhere approaching that required for walking. I managed an awkward shuffle and then I gave up and went back to hopping. Maybe when my knee's better it might be manageable.

Despite the fact that he was a bone doctor I managed to bully some advice for my blocked ear out of him. (He suggests olive oil. Or alternatively going to my GP. The olive oil seems to be helping a little, at least sneezing is a bit less painful, but I probably will end up asking at the GP too, even if only when I go to renew my asthma meds and ask after the flu vaccine.)

On the way home I got Mum to take me to a supermarket and we stocked up on food. I experimented with the trolley but no, so Mum pushed it while I hopped, and going up/down four aisles was about enough of a stretch for my current stamina. But I now have fresh fruit including bananas (I keep waking with muscle spasms, so far not painful just "I don't get to move during the day so doggammit I'm going to move at night!" but I see the potential) and lots of flour (for pancakes and potentially bread if it ends up easier to make than to shop) and milk and eggs and muesli and pizzas.

Then I sat on my couch for the rest of the day and got tiny bits of work done.

There was a little discomfort and I figured that's justified considering the amount of exercise so took some ibuprofen. Then for the first time ever my toe decided to hurt a bit. And just general having-a-cast-sucks-itude: my foot gets this kind of sensory deprivation so I'm not sure if it's feeling tingly or I'm holding it at the wrong angle and straining muscles or something's chafing or pressing where it shouldn't. Generally something feels funny but if I so much as wriggle my toes then it all feels normal again for about a minute and then something else feels funny and it does my head in.

I took an afternoon nap which helped except it left my bruised knee stiff again. And the cat was scritching at the living room door (shut to keep gasfire heat in) and of course by the time I get over there on the crutches to open it she's fled the house. And I'm sick of sitting down and my foot feels funny.

And I have heaps of milk in the house and it's a cold day so brilliant idea let's make tomato soup, comfort food. Except as dinner time approaches reality sets in: that requires waiting in the kitchen to stir the pot and make sure it doesn't boil over, and then it requires somehow transporting this hot liquid back to my couch and I just can't even.

So I got a supermarket pizza out. Trufax: this is on doctor's orders. (He warned me going back to work would be tiring and get used to ordering in pizza.) And then I burst into tears because I only wanted to heat half the pizza and the chopping board and knife were a whole step away.

A jellytip icecream solved the immediate crisis(*) and gave me sufficient energy to work out how to bring the resulting hot pizza back to my couch. (I think I need a new tag for my couch.)

(*) I understand other countries don't all have these and can only presume it's because there's a limited supply and we're keeping them to ourselves as we clearly deserve to.

But my foot still feels funny in places it's not possible for anything to be wrong with - seriously I saw them put the cast on and it's a work of art - and the cat has fled the crutches for the umptieth time and I'm super grumpy and tired and I clearly need to get more sleep.

Which I'm going to do. I'm just not really looking forward to its recuperative powers because (random muscle spasms aside) I'm not sleeping that well because foot and if not foot then bruises and the cat curls up right where I want to try shifting to. So I tend to wake up after a long night's exhausting sleep thinking "Oh thank goodness it's time to get up now" and then I check the time and discover it's only 3am and I have to keep sleeping.

But-so-anyway I don't think I can really cope with nice/reassuring/helpful comments at the moment, but what would be really lovely would be links to amusing things on the internet I can distract myself with tomorrow.
zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
So Boots hid under the bed while I was getting ready for bed last night.

The downside of sleeping in the spare room is that the bed is just a single, but she did manage to find sufficient space to join me on it. So passed the night.

In the morning, I like to exercise my left knee in a possibly vain attempt to get the circulation going before moving my encasted foot to the floor, because by then it's been a while since the last anti-inflammatories and there will be mild pins and needles. Boots interprets this movement as "getting up now" and when I don't follow through immediately starts with the head-butts to encourage me. Of course when I give in and do get up, picking up my crutches causes her to flee the house.

Ten hours go by, during which I do a full day's work from my couch, launder the stinky cat blanket, pick a courgette, and nuke a pie for lunch. Finally Boots comes home demanding food, I reach for my crutches to prepare it for her, and she flees again.

zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
I'm continuing to take it super-easy (the cast and crutches rather enforce this actually) but it is nice to come home to my cat.

I prepared by taking a proper shower this morning, so that if I fell over there'd be someone to help and if I didn't I'd know that I was capable of doing it. Following which success I took a wee rest and then I succeeded in making breakfast and bringing it out to my chair in the dining room (by moving it from one horizontal surface to another, taking a step, repeating all the way).

Then I rested basically for the rest of the day, just eating lunch at the big people's table and spending a few minutes chopping salad for dinner before my (non-injured) leg got tired because it's not used to standing with those muscles. And after dinner I packed and got dropped off home.

So far I've customised my environment by opening all the doors and by dragging a chair into the bathroom, because it seems like this could come in handy for all sorts of reasons. And I'll sleep in the spare bedroom because it's an easier bed to get into and out of.

Boots fled when she heard the scary crutches again, but shortly afterwards came back in the house. As I'm on the couch, not going clunk clunk, I got greeted vociferously and she's now happily exploring the open doors and nomming her food. So now I need to get her to come here so I can show her what this terrifying clunk clunk-maker is and get her used to it before I get ready for bed.
zeborah: Helen Clark telling an MP: Diddums. (diddums)
Actually they seem to finally be getting rid of the (I presume) lactic acid, which is lovely: it makes it easier to eat and easier to find a comfortable position to sit or lie in to avoid pins and needles. It's really amazing how many muscles you use to lie down from a sitting position.

My knee which is bruised on the left (ie outside)? So I finally last night found a comfortable way to lie on my right side, the only problem being that I thereby discovered a sore spot on the inside of my knee. This morning I found there a brand new giant bruise. Presumably extra blood descending right through everything else in the knee to the lowest point, or something. Bodies are weird.

Got driven home for a visit for more clothes and to feed the cat. We arrived at the time of day Boots would expect me home anyway so she came running and miaowing in delight/demand. Then she caught sight of the crutches and shrank back. I continued haltingly inside while my sister placated the cat, and even lured her into the house, but when she saw me using the crutches again it was all too much and she fled.

Have felt a little bit of the blahs descending, which is unsurprising but something to stave off if I can. When mild, they're most easily banished for me by some kind of achievement and as I was sick of sitting around as well I decided I would help make dinner. So I chopped two zucchinis and put them on the stove to boil (and then my sister pulled the rest of dinner together and brought it all out to me on a tray). And afterwards I went and got myself a glass of milk and rinsed out the empty milk bottle. So now I feel like a super-achiever and am resting on the couch again.

But tomorrow, if All The Muscles behave, I might actually be able to go home and look after myself: I'll just have to chunk everything into short bursts and carry things in a bag around my neck or something. And Boots will have to get used to the crutches.
zeborah: Helen Clark telling an MP: Diddums. (diddums)
I have mentioned before that Riccarton Road is my nemesis; this time for different reasons.

So there I was, crossing the road to transfer buses to go and try on some awesome shoes my sister had pointed me to. Half way across, and the traffic was moving slowly enough (though clearly about to speed up) that I thought I could dash in front of this red car to get the rest of the way.

In my defense, I was right. I got past the red car, and it was the black car coming up beyond it, moving somewhat faster, that hit me. I'd forgotten that (semi-official?) other lane there.

It seems likely that it was my elbow that hit the windshield (my elbow is barely hurt but the windshield got a great big spiderweb). I definitely remember tumbling through the air, and my head impacting something. My memory doesn't speak much to chronological order, but a witness says that was the road. I also remember the expectation that I was about to be hit by more cars, and the fleeting but profound sense, not easily put into words, that I had just made a very very poor life choice. I was I think about 80% expecting to be killed and was quite unwilling and chagrined at the idea.

Then there were people helping me up to support me getting off the road. My leg hurt a lot but I was most careful of my head because I have sufficient second-hand experience (naming no names) of concussion and post-concussion syndrome to be super paranoid of such. I didn't think I'd lost consciousness and more importantly witnesses didn't think so either, but I knew right away that it was a good bang. In retrospect I can understand why people say they 'saw stars' but it wasn't really like that. It was primarily like wearing a bicycle helmet made up of a buzzing which muffled everything, and secondarily the buzzing was kind of like the 'snow' static on an old tv screen except yellow.

So sitting on the footpath it became clear that I had a giant bruise on the left of my knee - this is what hurt the most, in that "How can I position this so that it will stop hurting?" agony that has no satisfactory answer. Also I spotted a bruise on my foot under my sandal and there was of course the huge bump on my head. The buzzing subsided but any movement of my head made me dizzy. I was shaking in shock and expected to get cold so put my coat on at one point, but wasn't actually cold. People were asking if I was normally this pale and you know I'm awfully pale but I bet I was even paler than normal.

Someone was calling for an ambulance and someone else got some ice from the nearby McDonalds. Due to instructions from the phone I wasn't allowed to eat any of the ice which disappointed me because my mouth was super dry. But mostly I was anxious to assure people that a) it wasn't the driver's fault and b) I wasn't going to up and walk away before the ambulance got there (I've seen someone do that though less injured after all).

The ambos (after their initial check) got me into the ambulance in this cool orange wheelchair. It folded out like a campstool, but then it had a belt and they could wheel me on it. Various questions - I told the story many times over the next hours - from the ambo and a cop though just identity stuff there, she met me at the hospital later to get the statement. (I spotted two police cars. Not sure what rated the second one; hopefully it was just a slow evening and not some pile-up I didn't notice, though that's possible since I wasn't noticing anything outside my immediate vicinity.)

Once the ambulance was off, I was allowed a bit of water from a pottle, which they then held for me because I was shaking amazingly and uncontrollably. My teeth were chattering so hard I was consciously keeping my tongue out of the way. They also gave me a bunch of ibuprofen and paracetamol nom nom.

Also they tried to take Blenheim Road in order to avoid traffic on Riccarton Road. Lol. As much as Riccarton Road traffic is my nemesis, even I'm forced to admit that Blenheim Road is never the solution. It took something like half an hour to get to the hospital. At least I was feeling much better by then.

ED was a bit more boring. Short version: I had an instinctive aversion to putting any weight at all on my left foot; dizziness all gone but some weird pressure in my ear, like after you've gone swimming. They couldn't see anything so probably just dislodged wax or something. I got x-rays on the foot - the bruise spread across the top of the foot just before all the toes start, that is all the toes except for the big toe. It turns out that the big toe, almost completely unbruised and sans pain, was the one that was broken.

Once they'd checked I wasn't showing signs of concussion or of internal injury I was left alone quite a bit so I thought I'd get out my e-reader. My e-reader was not in my bag no matter how hard I looked. I eventually resigned myself to the fact that it must have been in my hand, got thrown across Riccarton Road, and suffered some fate less fortunate than my own. (RIP, Pocketbook 360: you will be missed. Shall have to start investigating a replacement.)

When I finally got sent for a cast therefore I eagerly read the osteoporosis poster on the wall. A nurse noticed me doing this and pointed out I'm a bit young for that but it's not like they'd given me anything else to read.

Now, at some point while still on the footpath someone asked me how I'd get home from hospital and I somehow still figured it for 50/50 calling my family vs catching a bus home by myself. Haha. I lost this illusion fairly quickly (especially remembering I'd need to be observed for concussion), but it still took the nurses who put the cast on to convince me that I was not in fact going to go to work next day as usual. Seriously at that point I felt fine: I'd have been careful and kept taking the pills and allowed extra time to move places with crutches and kept my foot up on a chair all day but why not?

They explained it to me and today at my parents' house I felt it: that thing where I was in shock and shaking all over? that was adrenaline firing up All The Muscles. And today All The Muscles are aching. Especially the ones I never knew existed, like the muscles that chew and the muscles that move things around in your mouth so you can chew more effectively; as well as the muscles that hold your neck up and the muscles that help you sit up or even just shift to a more comfortable position.

I did today do some work from home because Bored, but not as much as I'd originally planned because sitting in one spot is distractingly annoying and also the few other things I had to do (eat; bathroom; get driven home for laptop and change of clothes and to feed the cat, and back to parents' via pharmacy for drugs) take extra long.

Anyway though I'm basically incredibly well off considering. Just on orders to be off work with my leg up for a week; then they switch this temporary cast (space left on the side to allow for swelling) for a more long-term fibreglass one, which I can apparently pick the colour for. I'm thinking purple.

Then I'm really hoping I will be able to go back to work, though there may be a lot of working from home in my near future: my work is very flexible about that sort of thing, but I hate it because my laptop is very awkward with the kinds of tasks I have, and yet putting my leg up on a 75-minute bus commute is even more awkward. So we'll see.

Oh also another cultural thing, which is they've given me ACC forms, which is public insurance for accidental injury, in a similar way to how we have EQC for earthquake property damage. I gather the idea was so that we wouldn't have to resort to suing people in order to be able to pay medical bills etc. You know, the usual commie death panel stuff. So I was reading these forms before being discharged, which is how when asked by a hospital aide for the umpteenth time what happened I could much more succinctly answer, "Ped vs car".


zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)

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