Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekend pain

It wasnt long after leaving the surgeons office that I started feeling the worst pain in my foot. We drove to dinner then home where I started feeling faint, nausea and light headed, so I decided to go to bed and rest. I know changing bandages and casts can affect your blood pressure, so I put it down to that.

The minute I laid in bed, pain, pain and more pain in my right foot. I could not lay my leg down, hold it in the air or let it hang off the bed. I had no clue what to do with it. 

The pain lasted all night and all of the following day and reduced me to tears. By Saturday night I couldnt stand it and headed to Silvercross Emergency Room where I sat and waited for 5 hours and left with the staff doing anything. No unwrapping and checking it, no rewrapping it, nothing - not happy.

Sunday brought more pain and I didnt move all day in case it got worse and I didnt want to go to the emergency room again. As soon as my surgeon's office opened on Monday morning I headed there with a friend. I knew I would have to sit and wait, who can get an appointment on a Monday morning??? Not this girl - ever!

Two hours later I was seen. Turns out there was the biggest crease in the back of the cast around the heel area which was causing the pain. Once the cast was replaced my leg felt better and my surgeon couldnt apologise enough.

These things happen I guess. Im definitely feeling better now and Im looking forward to having my stitches removed. :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 4,5,6 & 1 week post surgery.

I havent been doing much to be honest. When I had my left foot surgery I did way too much in the first week and I could feel my leg swell often and my cast become tight. So this week Ive been staying off it.

You never really know what the surgeon has done until your first post op appointment unless you are really awake and manage to catch the doc in recovery which I never do.

Oops I made a mess
So I went to my one week post op appointment with Dr Ratkovich at Parkview Orthopaedics in Mokena and I always look forward to a cast change, the bandaging gets really hot and claustrophobic and a couple of minutes out of it feels great :)

***Warning surgery pics!***


My right foot surgery is slightly different from my left as in I didnt have the achilles lengthened instead I had a gastrocnemius recession to help create increased dorsiflex when my knee is bent. The incision is pretty significant but surprisingly not very painful at all. I am taking 600mg ibruprofen twice a day and a half of norco if I am sore.

The incision along the inside of the foot is where two tendons were shortened in the arch, very little pain there aswell.

The incision in the heel is where the screw went in to hold the heel back in place and I have a 3 inch incision under my ankle bone on the outside of my foot where Dr Ratkovich went in to saw off my heel and moved it over. So for now its pretty gruesome but my left foot scars from January look great so Im not too worried for now.

My xrays show the full extent of my surgery. You can clearly see the faint white north to south cut in the heel which has then been screwed back on. I think xrays are fascinating.

So now I wait another two weeks before the stitches come out and I go into a cam walker and head to therapy. I want to get this foot moving as soon as possible. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 3 post surgery

Two appointments today - TWO - grrrrr oh well.

I rocked my 11am PT session on one leg - go me. Mickey (GoodLife Physical Therapy) has had to adapt it significantly for me now that I cant weight bear on my right, but we still managed to get all the resistance exercises and stretches until my calf burns in and my right foot therapy will start as soon as my stitches are out - JOY.

Emma is also joining me at my PT appointments with her own exercise regime. She had a bit of a bad trampolining accident a while back and has a recurring chronic sprain on her right foot, so for now shes doing "pick up with her toes" exercises where she has to pick up Legos from the floor - far more fun than my therapy I can tell ya :(

In between appointments we had lunch at somewhere new, Bonfire in Homer Glen. I thought it was like Famous Daves BBQ place but instead it had a very grown up menu which was quite delicious. I shared crabcakes with Nick then tilapia with a baked potato, I really enjoyed it and so did Nick. win!

Next onto Dr Vittori's office for another blast of shockwave therapy. My left achilles was lengthened and the scarring is affecting the flexibility when I stretch and its not improving. Theres also a lump on the achilles which I dont like so Dr V is going to kindly blast it away.

Its definitely going to take there treatments and todays went really smoothly and was over with in 45 minutes :).

Being numb on the left side and non weight bearing on the right side was a little interesting!! Thankfully I didnt have an accident :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 2 post surgery

I woke up very sore again and my cast seems really tight and rubbing on my heel arghhh I hope it isnt creating a huge blister like last time. I tried to manage on half a Norco over night but needed to take a full one at 3am. Oddly the ground vibrated and Im pretty sure I felt a small earth quake so I woke up Nick who was not amused - whatever.

Im not walking very successfully in the Freedom Leg Brace, it might be because I need longer straps or because my leg is just too sore to start this soon after surgery. Ill persevere with it for now.

Nick and I did pack all our outdoor tables and chairs and take them to a party for a local girl called Ashley who is battling cancer and leukemia. Her wish was to have a huge dance party with her family and closest friends. So neighbours, friends, family and well wishers all came together to make it happen :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 1 post surgery

My day started with a bang, 1am and my nerve block wore off to the worst calf and heel pain ever! Agghhh .....I couldnt lay my leg down, I felt nauseas and weird and I had to get up and pee grrrrrr. I managed to fall back to sleep after taking a Norco but the pain was still horrid at 6am when I got up.

I had purchased the Freedom Leg from Forward Mobility and it hadnt arrived in time for me to try before surgery so I was keen to put it together and give it a whirl.

It arrived in one piece thankfully and I just needed to adjust it to the correct length of my leg.

The bracing around the quad takes the full weight and the foot floats around an inch above the floor. Its not easy at all and my leg was very painful and uncomfortable trying to walk in it. I kept catching my toes in the side bars and that was very painful.

I took my first steps in the brace with my walker and moved onto walking in it with both crutches and then one crutch. After a while my leg was so painful I had to stop and rest it so Im gonna try again tomorrow and build up to walking with no balance aids.

Wish me luck!!!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Surgery Day

7am funf walk - my last for a while.
Ive planned for this all week, Ive cleaned, shopped, cleaned, laundry and cleaned some more. The girls are organized for going back to school and I made sure I could get around the house on one leg by leaving mobility aids in different rooms, I have learned from my last surgery thats it good to be prepared.
I arrived at Orland Park Surgi Center at 7:45 and checked in. I didnt have to wait long before they took me to be prepped before the surgery. My notes had included something new this time, a gastrocnemius recession. I had no idea what that was so I made a point of asking my surgeon and he explained that because Id had problems with my left achilles lengthening hed decided to release my gastrocnemus instead which involved an incision in my calf. Interesting.  

Funf kept an eye on me all day. :-)
After taking my vitals and my ridiculously high BP from stressing, I received a popliteal (behind the knee) nerve block to numb the foot and was wheeled into theatre. The last thing I remember was sliding across from the trolley bed to the operating theatre bed and remarking how skinny it was. 4 hours later I woke in recovery with a banging headache, nausea and was extremelt light headed. My throat was awful dry from being intubated and my front teeth hurt, I think they caught them when I was extubated. grrrr My quad also hurt from a tourniquet.

90 minutes later Im heading home feeling very crappy and dying to sleep some more. 2 hour sleep and a quick bite and I feel a bit better. But def an early night for me. :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Im feeling refreshed!

Reformers need to be booked for each class   - theres a late cancellation fee too
On one of the rare occasions I could get some kinda phone signal on Mackinac Island I spotted a Living Social deal for a pilates class, 10 group classes for $49  at Refresh Pilates and Wellness Studio in Homer Glen - a bargain as pilates classes tend to be a little bit expensive so I snapped it up straight away.  

One of the stipulations was that we had to attend an intro to pilates class to learn all about the reformer, which made sense and thats where Ive been today. Eventually Im going to attend the studio's Restorative Classes to help me therapy my left foot and strengthen my core, arms and left leg. The studio has a pretty full on schedule of classes aimed at everyone.

This is called a table top, feet are higher than the knees
and it totally works the core.
I arrived embarassingly late and the class was pretty much full. I discarded my shoes and socks and we started with a basic tour of the reformer, how to load/unload the tension springs and where to tuck the arm loops when not in use. Pretty simple stuff so we started off with the footwork. I thought I may struggle with this considering my lack of flexiblity but some of the moves are a continuation of the therapy I am doing so I kept up just fine.

The footwork includes heels on the bar, ball of the foot, feet in a V shape, toes only for heel drops and calf raises, pliet footwork and a gazillion different other combinations. I enjoyed every second. 

We did a lot of leg circles to warm up the hips then some runner stretches. Then we used the arm straps to pull our own weight along with tension and my arms held up pretty well. I was pleased. Im already looking forward to going back for my next class, although Im not looking forward to how sore Im going to be tomorrow. :-)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Back to surgery shopping

While it seems everyone is Back-to-School shopping I am not. After hitting Target, Kmart, Dollar Tree, Staples and every other stationery supply store in the first year we were here to get TWO supply lists, I soon learnt (thankfully) to just order the school kits and save time, so this week Ive been watching frantic mothers rip apart the supply shelves and ask their kids if they really need 5 two prong folders while I wait for open day and our kits to be delivered ahhhh!!!

Today I've been doing a considerably different kind of shopping - back to surgery shopping!!! While noone likes surgery and theres no perfect time for it, things are moving along in our relocation process and we may be moving house sooner rather than later. Because of this I need to be off crutches, so Ive chosen to get my right foot surgery out of the way next week.

This morning I saw Dr Ratkovich and booked my right foot reconstruction surgery for in a week's time - I actually had a panic attack and was totally shaking and light headed - I never have these, I just get on with things, so this took me totally by surprise.

Even though Im very unsure about the surgery, Im feeling slightly more prepared than last time. When the doc says no weight bearing because the screw will shatter the heel he means it and theres no getting around easily on one leg, so today I purchased a few things to help me out. 

The first few days my leg will swell and crutches dont help because the leg isnt elevated so Im gonna use a wheelchair downstairs and keep the leg up. I also need to take as much care of my left foot as I can because its still sore and rehabbing.

My trusty knee scooter is going to stay upstairs for trips to the loo in the middle of the night and Ive bought some funky covers to jazz up my crutches and a bag so I can carry a water bottle and my phone. Its no fun not being able to hold something and why shouldnt crutches be stylish?

Lastly Ive bought a major gadget-walking-aid. Id been looking for something I could use which would allow me maximum mobility, after all I still have a house to run, 2 kids to take care of and a dog to walk. I came across the Freedom Leg.

Ive been watching the videos over and over and read and re-read all of the reviews and there has been a lot of great feedback on the product. One of the reviews is actually from a doctor so Im guessing he knows what hes talking about. I had an online chat with one of the company's representatives and asked a gazillion questions. One of the plusses to its $575 price tag (I bought mine for $449 in the sale) is that its completely reimbursable by our insurance company.

As soon as it arrives ill have a practise before the surgery just to see how easy it is to walk in it and not fall over but for now, Im cleaning and organising everyone before I have yet another long recovery period.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Riding Venus De Miles

Ive been reading everyone's blog posts and they are great so I dont want to repeat what everyone has written (I might do that at a later date). Instead Ive decided to write my tips on how to ride Venus De Miles, since Ive just arrived home after my second year and completing the longer distance - YAY!

  1. Arrive early, parking can be a little tricky. If you have to park off campus and in downtown Lake Forest youll have to ride a mile. Can you carry everything?????
  2. Dress for all eventualities, last year it was warm and toasty, today it was cold and shivvery. Light easy-to-store in your jersey jackets and arm warmers are a great idea. Gear check a different jacket to wear when your jersey or light jacket is wet from sweat or rain. Wear sunscreen or a good moisturiser.
  3. If you own a profile bottle cage leave one of the bottles empty or rock a spi belt, the well stocked aid stations are amazing and its good to be able to carry a few of these goodies so that you dont have to stop for long and you can hit the road sooner rather than later. I invested in a crossbar speedfeed storage bag, worked a treat!
  4. Learn correct bike etiquette, it sounds obvious, but checking your left shoulder before pulling out and not slamming on the brakes in front of someone is a MUST. My good friend had an accident today because of someone stopping straight in front of her. Also make riders behind you aware of oncoming pedestrians, cyclists and runners and ride single file in specified areas.
  5. Bring a change of shoes, walking around on shoes with cleats on the field afterwards is no fun.
  6. Carry a copy of the course map just in case you get lost and a credit card in case you need to purchase something along the way. I passed a Walgreens which I would have popped into and bought a light jacket.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

70.3 miles and cake


Never in my lifetime would I have the knowledge, ability or time to tackle a half Ironman. I can barely cover half marathon distances and my own marathons were somewhat of a disaster, so when my good friend Kelly signed up for her Ironman, I knew she would need support, love and encouragement. This weekend she completed nay CONQUERED 70.3 miles of swim, bike and run in Racine and she did it with a smile. I spent all morning tracking her and I was excited, teary and worried sick that her stomach wouldnt hold up.

I used IronTrac iphone app which needed either Kellys name or her bib number. The app worked really well, I have no idea what the delay was and I did kill my iphone battery through constantly refreshing the app. I posted on Facebook whenever a new result came in and the anticipation was electric!

The tracker actually froze for quite a while and in the mean time Kelly finished - YAY! When the final results came in I forwarded them to her and she replied straight away I was thrilled and teary #soproud

So today, my girls and I headed to Addison to surprise Kelly with a few congratulatory gifts and cake - who doesnt need calories when you've covered 70.3 miles????

Thursday, July 18, 2013

No pain.. no gain

I bring a whole new meaning to the expression no pain..... no gain. I live in chronic foot pain 24/7 and I can either sit back and let it ruin my life or slap it straight across the face and get moving - I chose the latter.

So yesterday during my follow up from Shockwave Therapy I made my foot surgeons day and told him I would be going ahead and having the right foot reconstructed. I know, I know, I said IT WOULD NOT BE HAPPENING, but the moons have aligned and my September date works well in my schedule.

After a few months deliberation, I decided:

  1. Since I was already slowed down from the first surgery, I may aswell get the other foot out of the way.
  2. I feel way more prepared this time around and have 8 weeks to get the house, kids, dog, husband sorted (yes thats the correct order).
  3. My left foot has turned a corner and seems to like therapy. In 8 weeks time I feel sure it can handle crutches.
  4. I have a full race calendar which ends in October, no marathons for this girl.
  5. My dad is available if I need him.
  6. My girls will be in school.
  7. Theres no snow (hopefully although it is Chicago so cant be guarranteed)
  8. Finally next year I wanna move house and I cant do that in a cast!
The only downside is I wont be able to drive, which is totally shit, since I will still need to get to my 3 times a week left foot therapy appointments, my right foot follow up appointments and anything in between. My surgeon said patients miraculously make appointments but he doesnt ask how. I definitely wont be risking left foot driving and Im not convinced I would be insured if I was trying to drive with a cast on. I will have to find out. 

In the mean time Im going to enjoy every second of being active and looking forward to riding the 61 Venus De Miles ride next weekend. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mackinack Island

A month ago we booked our annual vacation. Nick is very busy at work at the moment so we have a very small window of when we can go away and we were very undecided on where to go. Nick wanted to go to the Gulf Coast and I didn’t want to drive that far and leave Funf in the kennels for too long. I don’t know how or why but I stumbled across Mackinac Island on a Google search and instantly fell in love with the pictures of the island.

Today we headed off on our 6 hour road trip. To be honest 6 hours stuck in a car is about as much as I can stand, especially with limited scenery. We were aiming to catch the 3pm ferry but had failed to take into account the one hour time difference and we eventually arrived in Mackinaw City at around 4.30pm. The next scheduled ferry was 5.30pm and the Arnold Cruise staff made our trip across to the island very easy and very efficient. It cost $104 for 4 of us and two bikes to safely cross. The friendly staff tagged and stored our cases, ready to be placed on the ferry, while we headed to Mackinaw City’s Pastie and Cookie store. Delicious, but very hot!!!

We boarded the ferry at 5.30 and took a 20 minute choppy ride across Lake Huron. The first sight of Mackinac is the beautiful coastline, its very breathtaking. We were instantly greeted by a hotel porter who arranged for our bags to be taken from the ferry and transported straight to our hotel. That was a god-send as the girls would have had to have pulled two rather heavy suitcases or pushed our bikes.

We took a very picturesque 10 minute walk down the main street to our hotel on the South east corner of the island, passing hotels, fudge shops, bike rental stores and horse drawn carriage taxis. It seems we have been extremely lucky with the weather, a very warm 76 degrees and no wind. Perfect for long walks with icecream.

We are staying a Mission Point resort, quite a large hotel and we were greeted by British speaking staff at reception. After a rather longer then preferred check in we locked up our bikes in a holding area and headed to our room. (The holding area is just an outside lock up and personally I was petrified of something happening to my bike). We have a small suite with two bedrooms and a bathroom to share, perfect for a family of 4. The only downside was the hotel is very sprawling and the rooms wifi is very intermittent. Not good for blogging.
Once checked in we headed to the pool so that Emma could swim and then onto dinner at the Bistro on the Green. A restaurant located in the middle of a putting green where the tables were only outside – a fair weather restaurant indeed. The restaurants food was tasty and well presented, however, do not head there if you are extremely hungry. The main course portions were the same size as a typical American starter unless you order from the childs menu and then your plate would be topped up with fries. A bottle of the house white started at $28.

We ate dinner and headed back to our room for an early night, its not very often we eat dinner at 9pm. :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Grizzly Jack Grand Bear Waterpark Resort

Two months ago I spotted a Groupon deal for a 2 night stay at the Grand Bear Lodge at Starved Rock. $229 seemed very reasonable for 4 of us to stay for a couple of nights to swim and hike.

The main lodge has a waterpark and theres a separate building filled with a snack bar and amusement rides called The Enchantment Forest. It was very easy to walk to or there was a free train which shuttled in between buildings.

We stayed in a basic double queen bed room, which was plenty spacious. The bathroom desperately needed better ventilation though, it was hard to even get dry and dressed after a shower.

The water park looked like it needed an injection of cash with its very basic furniture. The jacuzzi was drained and closed and there were very few floaties for the lazy river. It did have a small wave pool which my girls really enjoyed and life guards were on hand. There is also a small poolside snack bar.

The main lodge is nicely decorated, the staff are very friendly and for an additional $6 each there is minigolf. 

At 7.30pm every evening an animated huntsman and bear narrate a story. Its very cute, but the bear seemed to be broken and didnt move.

One major disappointment though is the breakfast. The buffet breakfast was served between the hours of 8 and 10.45 and cost $6.95 for adults and $4.95 for children under 11years, DRINKS WERE EXTRA! The food was mediocre and I struggled to find anything enjoyable about it. It is definitely not the place to eat if you have any kind of food sensitivity/allergy. That said we chose to cut our two night stay short and left for home in the second afternoon.

There were a lot of rides closed in the amusement arcade and not that much to do for my girls at least. The amusement snack bar food was average and very pricey. All the ziplines/rides were free apart from the lazer tag.


The resort is very fun for much younger kids or teenagers who can hang out on their own. Pack lots of healthy snacks, the snack store in the lobby mainly sells pastries and candy.

Fun place to cool off if you are visiting the starved rock area to hike.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

44 and feeling great

I hadnt planned to bike today, so when my running group planned an impromptu ride I set my alarm and joined them.

We met at Frankfort Grainery and headed towards Western Ave, Park Forest turned around and headed back towards Joliet. After every one left when their 30 miles were up I continued alone for a few more miles until I eventually had to head home for our road trip. I was pleased that I was not as tired as I have been on some of my rides which I put due to a lack of hydration. Heres my Garmin map :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

All shockwaved out

Its 8pm and my foot has almost woken up from its midday numbing and round 3 of shockwave therapy.

Last weeks numbing didnt go well, in fact my foot didnt numb, but the treatment was very tolerable. Ive even noticed some changes and dare I say improvements, as theres some sort of movement of the tendon underneath the outside of my ankle bone - Shockwave 1 - Surgery 0.

Todays numbing was uber successful. Dr Vittori injected directly into my incision scar which made me a little queasy, but it did the trick. 

Twenty minutes later my left foot was sound asleep and he could start the treatment.

I could definitely tell Dr Vittori was asserting more pressure than usual, the pulsing made a slightly painful vibration in my foot.

So now that I have completed all three of my treatments its back to my foot surgeon for the next step of my rehabilitation. Im still attending physical therapy three times a week and my foot's flexibility is improving if not very slowly. I actually left the office and headed straight to therapy for some Graston Therapy while my foot was still numb. 

Im far too impatient and the sooner I get back to running my miles and being badass again the better. :)

Shockwave Therapy Verdict.

Ive had a lot of treatment on my feet, probably too much, but Dr Vittori made this treatment very easy and straightforward. The time spent in the office was just over an hour, once a week for three weeks and I could walk/drive afterwards. Because my foot was numbed the treatments were covered by my insurance but check with the office before going ahead. The patient does not have to avoid putting lotion on their feet before the procedure.

I would definitely have more Shockwave Therapy with Dr Vittori if it was necessary.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gull Lake Triathlon

I talk to Kelly probably all day every day and one of our recent conversations went like this. 
Kelly - Im thinking of doing Gull Lake Triathlon
Me - when is it?
Kelly - end of June
Me - Im coming!
I enjoy racing, travelling and seeing corners of America I wouldnt normally see on a family vacation, so Im always thrilled when Kelly lets me invite myself along.

We left a very rainy Tinley Park to drive to Hickory Corners in Michigan. Three hours and a Panera Bread later we arrived and headed on a reconnaissance to figure out the logistics of race location parking and moving all of our gear to the transition area. After that we checked into our hotel and the less said about that the better.

Morning came very quickly, far too quickly for me in fact, I only had 3 hours sleep bah. Im pretty sure that was due to the one hour time change and keeping one eye on our hotel room door.

We headed to the tri, parked up and walked 1/4 of a mile to transition to drop off our gear and get marked up. Olympic wave was due to set off at 7.45am and I had already planned to DNF on the swim due to my very sore foot.  I watched the swimmers, including Kelly, get counted into the water and then set off and hit the first two buoys before I hit the bathrooms and headed into transition to change my shoes and grab my bike.

I watched all the swimmers come in and leave and grew a little concerned for Kelly when she didnt return with the majority, I knew she wasnt a particularly slow swimmer so I expect she went off course a little. We'll never know. I waited for Kelly to come in just to be sure she was OK before setting off a couple of minutes before her.

Kelly passed me on the bike and yelled she wanted to make up some time which was fine with me, I was already shattered from lack of sleep. When we checked the triathlon place out the night before we had driven apart of the bike course which was incredibly bumpy and covered with pot holes. When I hit the first half mile point I spotted two drink bottles on the ground, one was a pink - KELLY's! She had lost all of her hydration in the first half mile. I tried to catch her to give her my spare bottle but she was already gone. DAMMIT

The bike course was rolling to say the least. It actually reminded me of a half marathon I did in Wisconsin. Thankfully Mother nature was kind to us, no heat, no humidity and more importantly NO HEADWIND. I tackled the hills the best that I could and it wasnt pretty. At mile 22 we passed a cemetery and I actually chose my plot. Mile 24 couldnt come fast enough. I did see one girl take a wrong turn on the course and thanked God it wasnt me. 

I headed to the finish line and racked my bike, Kelly was already out on her last leg of the tri, a 6.2 mile run, and I waited at the finish for her to come in.

The post race food consisted of french toast and breakfast burritos, very yummy, and I was really glad of it after having no fuel on the bike. It wasnt long until Kelly was back and after her quick dip in the lake, we waited for her age group award.

The triathlon closed down very quickly after that and I felt for those who were still finishing. If your bike was still hanging on a rack it was promptly laid on the floor while the racks were dismantled, so we  headed home but not without stopping for coffee.

Verdict: $75 race fee. A fairly small but highly competitive tri. Lots of tri teams and expensive kit.

Pros Good race event communications, nice race shirt, bike course was well marked, good race day organisation.

Cons I didnt win one but Kelly did and the medal looked cheap and of 5k quality, no bathrooms on the bike or run course, no aid on the bike course, no mile markers, first come first served parking.

Other Notes: the nearest hotel is 10 mins away but avoid at all costs. Gull Lake Inn.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Living with chronic pain.

Go to sleep foot
Its been six months since my foot surgery, progress is slow and in the mean time Im still dealing with my other pain symptoms. I had my second round of Shockwave therapy today and it didnt go as well as the first, Im feeling a little bruised. Dr Vittori had trouble numbing my foot due to scarring in the ankles. I waited almost 45 minutes for my foot to fall asleep and when it did it was in places which werent going to be treated - pah. When I left the office my foot was completely awake, oh well, one more treatment to go and I will have completed the full course.

At my first appointment, Dr Vittori asked me if Id ever tried a compound topical for my neuropathy symptoms, I have but it was a long time ago and it didnt work because I really needed nerve release surgery instead, which I didnt know at the time. 

So what is a compound topical?

A compound topical is a mix of several ingredients which treat different symptoms in the same area where the topical(lotion) is applied. For neuropathy sufferers this can be a great help as we get pain, tingling and burning in the same place at the same time.

So why chose a compound topical? well the pros far outway the cons. The compound can be tailored specifically to the patients needs, it also eliminates the need for oral medications which a lot of the time have nasty side effects. A compound also eliminates any unnecessary ingredients which patients may be allergic to and its a perfect solution for patients who have trouble swallowing pills. The only con I have read about is that the topical can sometimes cause skin irritation. 

So whats the magic ingredients? Well I can only speak for my own and Im happy to share.
  1. Ketamine - This medicine is a type of anesthetic.
  2. Diclofenac - This medicine is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and treats pain and swelling.
  3. Baclofen - This medicine is a muscle relaxer and treats muscle spasms.
  4. Bupivicaine - This medicine is used to prevent or relieve pain.
  5. Cycloprine - This medicine treats pain and stiffness caused by muscle spasms
  6. Gabapentine - This medication treats pain
  7. Ibruprofen - This medication treats inflammation and pain.
I have pain 24/7 and I relied heavily on Cymbalta for the past three years before going cold turkey and coming off it in March. It took me 3 weeks to recover from the withdrawal side effects and my neuropathy pains instantly increased, so I relied on icing to help ease my symptoms. 

I now apply my topical three times a day and although its very early days, so far so good, this compound definitely takes the edge off my pain and I cannot thank Dr Vittori enough for the script. I was lucky to only have to pay $25 and the rest of the cost was picked up by my insurance.

Dr Vittori's facebook page.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Win a minion :)

Hi, I’m Jenny’s English friend, Louise and I’m a glass addict.

Jen obviously wanted a break because she asked me to write up a guest piece for her blog about what I do.

I began by making jewelry as a hobby about six years ago. Pretty soon I’d made so much that I didn’t have room for it so I started to give it away. I had so many ideas that I wanted beads in different styles and colours but I couldn’t always find what I was looking for. Then I got impatient. So I started reading articles online and discovered lampworking. It sounded scary. Gas, fire, hot glass. Undeterred, I got a starter kit for Christmas and I read lots of books. I was terrified the day I turned my torch on for the first time so much so that I didn’t do it again for a few weeks. But for the last four years I’ve played and practiced. I’ve wasted a lot of glass, time and probably money, but I’ve had so much fun. It’s only recently that I’ve dared to start calling myself a lampwork artist. “Ok” I hear you ask “So what’s that?” Well basically I melt glass for a living and make it into cool/cute stuff. In case you’re still none the wiser, I’ll try to explain – this time with the aid of pictures. A picture says a thousand words after all...

In case you’re wondering, my workspace is in the garage – bare walls/concrete floor - there’s very little out there that I can damage. This is my torch. This is where I melt glass. It’s also where I melt my fingers and burn holes in my clothes, but enough about that... The glass I use comes in different coloured rods. Don’t tell my husband, but I have thousands of these rods stashed away in a cabinet and it doesn’t matter how much I have, I’ll always want more.

So to the actual melting... Mostly I make beads with holes, known as “on mandrel”. A mandrel is just a rod of stainless steel that comes in different sizes depending on the width of the hole you want through your bead. Wrapping molten glass onto steel would mean it was stuck there forever so the mandrels have to be dipped into a sort of liquid clay called “bead release”. This is left to dry and then the fun begins. 

The rod of glass is gradually introduced into the flame – gradually is the key here. Too fast and the glass can “shock” which results in red hot shards popping off and flying all over the place. It’s a known fact among lampworkers that if you have bare arms or are wearing a new top, the popping hot glass will find that part of you and burn right through it. I have the holey sweaters and burn-scarred skin to prove it!
Once the glass is glowing hot, it’s time to wind it slowly onto the prepared mandrel. (I apologise that there is no picture to accompany the winding on of the glass – I was my own photographer today and I did try, but it’s impossible to capture this process with only two hands).

This is the best I could do – a shortly after winding on pic. Mine looks a bit wonky at this stage, but gravity can be your greatest friend here (or your worst enemy). The idea is to get the bead hot and then rotate it outside the flame so that the glass distributes evenly.

Once you get to this stage you can do all sorts of different things with your bead. There is an endless amount of tools, presses and gadgets available to help you achieve the look you want. You can shape it, mash it, decorate it, roll it in silver – the world is your oyster. It doesn’t have to be round either, it can be any shape you want, it’s just about manipulating the glass gently. I’ve probably made it sound easy but it’s not, at least not to begin with. I’m not sure if practice ever really makes perfect, but it sure does help.

Once the bead is finished it needs to be annealed. Put simply this just means heating and then gradually cooling to remove or prevent internal stress. If left in the open air, the outside of the bead will cool faster than the inside and depending on the size, it could cause the bead to break. A lot of beads (especially the cheap, mass produced ones) are not annealed and prone to breakage. This is my kiln and all my beads all go straight into here. 

That’s enough of the technical (boring) stuff. Here are some examples of the kind of pretty things that have emerged from the red hot little box. (His name is Anthony btw – because the make is a Chili Pepper kiln).

Some beads/jewelry made by my own fair hand:

Button Brooches


Snow Leopard squares

Eastern Pendants

Lotus bracelet

Glass Menagerie

and yes, they do have butts!

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re still awake. If you want to see more of my glassy stuff, head here:

I’d be so grateful if you would “like” my page.

Jenny has very kindly said I can do a little giveaway to accompany my ramblings, but for now thank you for reading :)


My favourite! favourite! kids movie is Despicable Me and to celebrate Despicable Me 2 we have a giveaway of the adorable handmade minions.

Heres what you do:
1. Follow my blog and post a comment about your favourite bit of Despicable Me
3. Share my facebook post about this giveaway.

Simple right? The winner of all 4 minions will be announced tomorrow at 9am(ish) :)