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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nerve Block, Part II

I went back to the pain clinic today and received the next nerve block. My previous one has worked fairly well, and it's been a lot nicer to live without the pain. I still get it, shooting pains, stabbing pains, whatever you want to call them. They feel like someone is pushing a pin into you, or you're standing on an ant hill, and the little buggers mad about it. You can't not jerk from the pain. It's sudden, but then it goes away, usually fairly quickly too, which is good. (Here is a page I look at all the time, to see what is going on in my foot.)

The nerve block I got today was a Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation. It was actually kind of funny (to me anyhow). Those squeamish about needles, skip this paragraph. The Dr. was kind and first injected me with a little bit of anesthetic. I was sitting on the bed with my left foot (the bad one) laying on the bed, with the inside of my ankle facing up. The nerve I am having trouble with branches off just beside that little ankle bone bump everyone has. You know, the bone that always gets cut on the chain of your bicycle when you're a kid. So I'm in fairly close watching distance. Needles do not bother me. In fact, I am quite interested to watch and see how everything is done. I think people who are scared of needles don't realize how shallow most of them go in you. This nerve branch is surprisingly close to the surface. Anyhoo, so then the nerve block starts. As far as I know, another needle of sorts is pushed in, and that is connected to the radio machine thingy by wires. Boy, this Dr. was accurate! I was watching him inject this second needle, and almost instantly he hit the nerve branch. It was like a tingling, spreading through my foot. It felt like I could feel every little branch come alive, and the tingling just radiated from my ankle to my toes. It was uncomfortable, but interesting, amusing. He then turned on the machine, and my whole body began pulsing, from my foot, to my leg, which was then just shaking my whole body! It was so funny! I'm sitting on the bed, looking like I am on some sort of amusement park ride! I was laughing my head off. I have no idea how the needle stayed in. I was really moving.

It was such a weird sensation, pulsing through my nerves. And then my foot started to go numb, as the pulsing calmed down. I was physically trying to hold my leg on the table, but it didn't work in the slightest, I was bouncing around like crazy. It reminds me of those things that used to be on those infomercials: Dr. Ho's something-or-others. These pads that you place on muscles, and it causes them to contract involuntarily. I remember a friend had them, and we used to put them on our arms, and our hands would turn into claws, and go all creepy. We thought it was hilarious. They also used to put those things on me when I had my slipped discs in my back, but they didn't work quite so hilariously.

But, my foot stayed relatively numb, like it was asleep, for probably a good hour or so. I had a bunch of errands to run, so I'm not really sure. I'm a bit sore now, and a little bit swollen too, from the injection site, but for the most part, so far so good. Any numbness is a welcome trade-off if it means I can get back to a normal life again. The Dr. recommended I keep on my meds for another 6 months at least, when I will see him again. But I am allowed to cut back as much as I can, which I am SO looking forward to.

The side effects are not so great. As well as most of the listed side effects, I think I now realize what it's like to have attention deficit disorder or something. I have such a problem focusing, remembering, learning for that matter. Even when I focus on staying focused, I somehow can't keep it up for long. It's so weird. I really try hard to focus, but I can't. It's like my eyes start wandering without my brain noticing. I am still working, but I really have to concentrate, and double check my work meticulously. So far so good on that front too, though. I can usually pull it all together, and at least I know what I am doing. I think if I had to retrain for a job, it might be another story.

Now, a good 14 hours on from the nerve block, I can feel some pain, but it's not too bad. More of a burning, and a rippling feeling. My toenail is getting better too, since the first nerve block. That seems to confirm that the nerve damage, or the original injury, has changed the physiology in my foot. I'm not entirely sure I understand how that can happen, but I'll have a look online. That's what the Dr's say. I'm still having trouble wearing shoes because of it, but at the same time the Dr. said I need to be especially careful since my nerves have been dulled, and I could easily do more damage because I don't feel the pain immediately.

And I have noticed that. I've been walking around, and suddenly realize I'm standing on some random item that fell on the floor, or like a pebble or something, and all of the sudden the pain hits, but by then it's too late, so it sticks around for a while. I'm so protective of my foot too. You should see me dance around when there are people who need to get by me, or when someone steps over you to say get to their seat in a movie theatre. I have a fear of a stranger accidentally causing me immense pain, and I won't be able to hide that fact. It would make them feel far worse than they need to, and I would feel like I am some sort of drama queen!

Phew, enough foot talk....Back to the ankle (heehee). I'll be quick. Still on a no-exercise regime because of the tissue in my heel/ankle. I talked to my physio last time, and she better explained what is happening, but I'm still not fully clear. But basically, since I haven't had complete range of motion in my foot since Jan 15, the tissue behind the tendon at the back of my ankle, above my heel is pinching, and therefore very inflamed. Supposedly this gets worse the longer you ignore it, and hence the no exercise regime. This needs to clear up before I can get back to jumping rope. It's actually quite painful too; sometimes I wake up at night from it. But it's nothing in comparison to nerve damage.

It's just so frustrating to hit so many road blocks. Everyone I talk to is amazed I am still having this much trouble. I am too. But, on the bright side, I am still allowed to stretch and do my knee-to-wall exercises. And I am getting a fairly consistent 7-9 cms, which is so good! I have about 8 cm to go, to be the same as my good leg. But even where things are now I am able to walk pretty normally down stairs, and down hills now. I have no limp most of the time too.

I'm in a relatively good place... it could be better (the drugs, the no exercise thing), but at least I am functioning.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Slice & Bake Cookies

Ok, last one for a while. I need to quit baking sweets. I was making up for lost time, but it's too much! (I may do something Halloween-y though, and oh yeah, a certain someone has a birthday next week...maybe I won't get to take a break after all...then it's Christmas too!...)

These were decent, but by far best straight out of the oven. I'm sure freezing would work well too. I refrigerated half the dough for a few days, and baked it a few days after the first. I like how you can customize the recipe yourself, and they give you a few different options in the book (but I think I'll leave their suggestions for you to find out).

This photo is from the cookbook:


(from WW "cupcakes cheesecakes cookies" recipe book)

250g butter, softened
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cornflour
2 tbsp milk
mini M&M's

Beat butter, sifted icing sugar, and vanilla in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in flours and M&M's, in two batches, then add the milk.

Divide the mixture in half. Wrap each log in baking paper; refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced) / 325°F. Line with trays baking paper.

Cut logs into 1cm slices and place on trays. Bake about 20 minutes. Cool on wire racks.


Friday, September 25, 2009

blogs galore

PS. I'm starting another new blog (I know, I know! For those of you who were with me years ago, when it all began, I have abandoned my ORIGINAL blog, and have kind of spit that one in two). This one will be depth, possibly some might say opinionated? I just want somewhere to blabber a bit more. I want to keep this blog more about creative things, and about lighthearted, or broken legged, life stuff...and have the other blog with more social commentary type stuff. Come on over, if you feel like it, and leave your thoughts. I want to have more discussions with people. I love learning how and why we think the things we do.

It's called Along The Roads...


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dust Storm

Whew, it's dusty! You can't even see Mt. Coolum!

I was having a little trouble breathing, not terrible, but not all that comfortable. I am still just trying not to cough, since when it starts, it won't end. And I need to renew my asthma inhaler too. It ran out after this little freak storm (supposedly there hasn't been one like this in 50 years). Here are a few photos, some 'before' and 'after' shots ...

The whole house was open, since it was quite hot that day, but we did close everything up after it hit us. You could see it coming, slowly, for hours. I was busy sewing, and didn't notice it right away, so we got plenty inside. It wasn't blowing either. It was very calm and still; very eerie. I suddenly noticed I could taste and smell it, and so I went to sit and relax, since I didn't want an asthma attack or something. It got quite hard to breathe for a while, and we shut all the windows and doors, and Adam went around the house spraying water from a spray bottle to try and capture the particles and get them out of the air. That kind of did seem to help. Then, once I knew I wasn't going to get worse, I mopped the freshly mopped from the day before floor, and it was so gross! Within hours you could feel that I had to do it again. I still need to go dust and wipe everything down yet. Luckily, I didn't have laundry out! We've had some really dusty days in the past, with some wind bringing us all the "top soil" (red dust) from the outback, but nothing like this, where the air was saturated by particles so small, you couldn't see them.

And this is what our floor turned into! I even mopped the day before the storm hit! And I still need another pass at it, it feels so gritty. There is also dust residue on everything. And of course, our apartment is entirely white. Lucky me.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fruity Cordial*

I picked up this free magazine from our local grocery store, Coles (you can get a pdf copy here). And inside they had just what I was looking for: fruit concentrate syrup. I've looked a few times online for something fruity to make margaritas with, but this was simpler than just about anything I found, and just perfect. Especially since I was in the mood for a nice roof-top drink when we went to see the fireworks from last weekend.

If you don't want the whole magazine, then click on the image below, and it should be large enough to read the instructions:

I didn't have any honeydew (or mint) so I used watermelon, and did another batch with strawberries and kiwis. So simple, so good! I didn't really measure the fruit content, since you are adding the syrup to your drinks to taste anyhow. These were both really nice with pineapple juice, crushed ice and tequila. Not really a true margarita, but I'm no connoisseur. Or have it with soda water - it's like making your own gourmet pop** (oxymoron, I know).

*Translations for North Americans: cordial is a concentrated drink you add to water. Similar to the frozen concentrates we're used to, but the ones here in Oz are usually liquid room temperature versions of kool-aid. They are for kids, and disgusting. Cottees makes those. I hate all their products - they're terrible. There are a few nice cordials by Bickfords, like iced tea and lime, etc...

**Translations for Australians (**edit/ and Americans): pop is soft drink / soda, though I thought most of the aussies knew this... I asked for some orange pop the other day from KFC, and the girl had no idea, NONE, of what I was talking about. But I couldn't think of another word to describe what I wanted...I eventually just said "the orange drink". It's amazing how many misunderstandings there are between "western", english speaking countries. One day I will do a blog post about those...


Friday, September 18, 2009

Wagon Wheels

This is another recipe from Women's Weekly cupcakes cheesecakes cookies recipe book. I'm all about this book right now.

125g butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cup self raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder

jam (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, whatever...)
375g semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Beat together butter, sugar and egg. Sift in flour and cocoa, and stir until uniform.
2. Roll out dough to 3mm thick between sheets of baking paper, and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) or 350°F, and line sheets with baking paper
4. Cut rounds from dough. I used a small cup (about 7cm across, which was the same size the book calls for) since I didn't have a round cookie cutter, but I think these ended up being too big. Next time I will use a much smaller cookie cutters.
5. Bake for 12 minutes, and cool on racks.
6. Cut marshmallows unto smaller pieces (or use mini marshmallows), and place onto bottom side of half the cookies you baked. Bake for a further 2 minutes to soften the marshmallows, but watch them to make sure they don't burn.

7. Spread jam onto the other half of the cookies, bottom side up, and press together with the marshmallow side of the other cookies.

8. Melt chocolate in a double boiler and possibly add some vegetable oil to keep chocolate spreadable. I might try these next time without adding oil, as I found the chocolate didn't ever set, and so you always have chocolate on your fingers when you eat one.
9. Coat the cookies with chocolate. Now, do this however you see fit, as it makes quite a mess. The book says to dip into a bowl of chocolate, but I didn't see how that would be all that neat. I laid all the cookies down on baking paper on a cookie sheet, and spread spoonfuls of chocolate on one side, trying to coat the edges as well. I then laid a sheet of baking paper overtop of the chcolate, and then rested another cookie sheet ontop. Then I flipped the whole thing over, and coated what used to be the bottom of the sandwiches with chocolate. I let them set in the fridge, and then froze them. I guess using your fingers and dipping them into a bowl might work...seemed to slippery for me...

Love Hubby's grease coated hands, dirty fingernail shot! I didn't even notice when I took the photo!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Riverfire 2009

We went again this year to Riverfire, the Brisbane celebration of the river that meanders it's annoying way through the city (there are MANY bridges in Bris. Vancouverites, you have an idea what that might be like). We went last year too, but the people and traffic were insane, not to mention parking! And it was freezing cold! This year was gorgeous. No people, no traffic, and margaritas on the roof deck of our friends' place. It was lots of fun to see everything from this viewpoint, and kind of exciting to photograph. Though I had barely 5 minutes to set up, and therefore my tripod ended up being a little shaky, which you can see in some photos.

Here's the loot I took home with me:

(Below: this was the F1-11 Dump & Burn over the city, over-layed into one photo. I didn't know from where the F1-11's were coming, or to where they were going, so my shutter speed was only a few seconds, in case I needed to reposition the camera. It would have been nice to get one shot though)


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Strawberry Spinach Salad

A favorite summer salad of mine is Strawberry Spinach Salad...with poppyseed dressing...which we don't have here in Australia. Then the next best thing would be with a raspberry vinaigrette, but I haven't seen that out here either...(I don't know that I have even looked though). My mom has made this salad for a good few years now, and we all love it. But it seems adding strawberries to salads must be a Canadian thing...all our Aussie friends and family who visited Canada a few months ago thought it a little strange, but once they tried it, they loved it. Funny, since I find people eat way more salads out here, and weird ones at that, than we do in Canada. I did a little googling, and found a suitable dressing recipe, and went to work...

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of berries.
optional: 1 scant tbsp Dijon mustard - OR LESS!
optional: poppy seeds

Salad Ingredients:
baby spinach
strawberries, chopped
red onion, chopped
nuts, such as almonds, or pecans, walnuts, whatever! Honey roasted, or plain, etc.

1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender.
2. Wash spinach. Wash and chop strawberries. Chop onions.
3. Toss spinach & onion with dressing just before serving, and top with strawberries and nuts.

Strawberry Spinach Salad; Potato Salad; Garden Salad:

* I thought the dressing was just fab on its own without the dijon. I added a full tbsp, and wish I didn't. It was a little too strong. Maybe just regular mustard would have done the job too. Next time I would omit the mustard...but it does add a bit of tang.
* You can use raspberries in the dressing as well. The original recipe called for that, but I am not a huge fan (too many years working on the berry farm), and most berries cost an arm and a leg out here (except strawberries which are $0.99 a punnet-250g- right now!). Using frozen berries would work too.
*I added poppy seeds for the look, to remind me of that wonderful poppy seed dressing I don't get to have anymore.
* Be sure to toss the salad with dressing JUST before serving. Spinach gets soggy quick.


Thursday, September 10, 2009


I have to take a break from recovery for a while. Seems my new found muscle strength is causing other problems. I've already taken two weeks off now. Two weeks ago at physio I got an ultrasound treatment and a massage. Same thing today too, and I will be going back next week for another treatment.

Tracey, my physiotherapist says it's normal, considering, but it's just too bad. I was excited to be getting back into exercising again. I'd like to get back into shape, and then some, but it's important to really go slowly. I don't know exactly what I am doing to my heel area, but she says it's better to let things settle down than risk another injury. What can I do? It's really frustrating. If it gets worse, I will need to be immobilized! I can't even casually point my toes, let alone do the heel raises and jump rope.

Seriously, who'd have thought a broken ankle would take this long to heal? It's consumed my entire year so far (except the first two weeks of Jan). When I think of it like that, it's beyond frustrating. Most of this year was spent lying in bed! It makes me want to scream and cry; this was my last year of my 20's, and I laid in bed. The remainder of the year has been spent trying to walk again, trying to find relief from nerve pain, and now, just trying to live normally. I have an ankle-related appointment of some sort just about every week. I do far more driving than I ever have, yet do far less recreational activities than ever. Uhhhhhggg!!!!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Christmas Wreath Cookies

These looked SO fabulous in the book. See?

Tasted a little less so, but are still quite nice...(ie. I don't think there will be any left around long enough to make it to the garbage). I found them to be a little too crumbly. But I am a sucker for anything chocolate or lemon when it comes to desserts. I love the lemon icing, and if it were not for that, these cookies would be pretty boring. But they were fun to make, and the strong lemon flavour does make the bland cookie work. I would like a less crumbly cookie though...

3 cups self raising flour
125g butter
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

3 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
-heat icing in a double boiler until pourable- (which I did not do, and just realized that right now, so no wonder my icing was so thick, even though I added another 3 tbsp of lemon juice! DUH!)

1. Rub butter into flour.
2. Combine milk and sugar in saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add extract and cool for 5 minutes.
3. Combine flour, milk mixture and eggs together and knead until smooth.
4. Roll balls of dough into 13cm long pieces. Twist two pieces together to form a wreath.
5. Place wreathes on baking paper lined cookie sheets, and bake for about 15 minutes in a 350°F / 180°C oven (160°C fan-forced)
6. Drizzle lemon icing onto cookies and set at room temperature.

This is another recipe from Women's Weekly cupcakes cheesecakes cookies recipe book.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Nerve Block

I finally had my pain clinic appointment on Monday. The Dr. was great, and sympathetic, and sorry that it took so long for me to get in. And I confirmed that the TWO previous referrals I had were never forwarded to the pain clinic at all. That means I waited months longer than I should have. And now that I know what it's like to be almost pain free, I realize how much pain I still had until Monday.

Anyhow, I got a nerve block! This one is only a small (?) one to tide me over until I get the real one. I was injected with a sort of anesthetic into the area where the main nerve that gets info from the side, and bottom of my foot. I believe it's called the medial plantar nerve (*edit: the medial plantar nerve comes from the tibial nerve, which is the main nerve that branches to your feet). He injected the general area, and within about 5 minutes I noticed the pain was gone (I now realize, it's not all gone, but mostly gone). This one will last from 3 to 6 months. He had a bit of trouble injecting me from all the scar tissue still in the area. Now this is all making sense to me. That same area of the injection site, is the same area my tibia was dislocated into, and pushing on, almost to the breaking point of my skin. No wonder there is scar tissue, and the nerve is angry.

Sometime soon I will be going back in for a radio scan (?) to find the exact location of the nerve, and then they will inject it directly. I can't wait.

This also means I should be able to get off the drugs, which would be fantastic. I take for granted that I don't need these meds normally. The side effects are not easy to get used to. He has also got me on a new anti-convulsant to help further with the nerve pain issues. This time I am on Gabapentin. It's similar to Lyrica, but I am not quite so dumb on it. I am having the dizzy and tiredness issues, and some slight problems with focusing. I was worried it would keep me from doing my work properly, but so far it hasn't. I have to up my dose tonight to 900mg from 600mg. That might push me over the edge. At least it's the weekend, and I have a few days to try and get a handle on things.

Another annoyance has been that for some time now (since I began physio), my toe/s have been infected on the sides of the toenail on my bad foot. The only thing I can think of is that I cut my nails too short, and because things are all messed up in my foot, it's super sensitive, and it's been reacting weirdly. This has been excruciating, stopping me from physio exercises properly, and making me terribly concerned about bumping or stubbing my toe. Even a slight bump into something, like a towel on the floor, causes an unreasonable amount of pain. But within minutes of the nerve block, that pain more or less disappeared, and I can now see the infections are lessening, and my toes are returning back to normal. I didn't even think the nerve block would help that.

Other things used to cause unreasonable pain as well. Like going barefoot (even inside), or putting on and taking off socks and shoes, washing my foot in the shower, sliding my foot along the floor, or even sliding my foot while in bed between the sheet and cover. It's ridiculous. Even the pattern etched into my Havaiana's bothers me, but it's better than going barefoot. Since the nerve block, all of those things have gotten so much better now.

The past week and half, I haven't really been doing physio since I am pinching something in my heel, and I am supposed to let it heal properly before continuing with some of my strength exercises. A few weeks back, they got me to start jumping rope. It's been going well, until this, but I hope to get back to normal exercises again soon.

So it's been a slower week (and a half) in physio progression, but a nice week when it comes to the nerve issues.