#cjs2021 – day 1

This year is the 10th year of Nathalie Kalbach‘s Creative Jump Start – I’ve missed a year here and there, and am so excited to be participating in 2021. There’s a new video every day, from 45 amazing artists from around the globe. It’s a great way to kickstart my art practise for the year. It’s not too late if you want to join in, and there’s no pressure to work daily if you don’t have the time or energy.

Today’s video, from Nathalie, was about sign writing a word that will inspire you throughout the year. For me, this course is about reinforcing the habit of daily art, so practise sprang to mind. I didn’t make a sign as such, but did go for an aged look in refernece to a story she told in the video. I’m working in a 5.5×8.5 Dylusions journal and used mainly Dina Wakley Media paints and Stencil Girl stencils.

As 2020 ends

As I look back at 2020 I know we’ve never had another year like it, certainly in my lifetime. I won’t go into the Covid saga, other than to say we worked hard at staying safe, and will keep doing so.

It’s been a mixed bag for us – highs and lows included:

Tony’s brother Roger getting a job here and moving in with us while he house hunts.

I travelled to a Hokitika a couple of times to visit Penny and Alan, and enjoyed teaching at Left Bank Art Gallery in Greymouth.

Tony’s health deteriorated a lot, and he was in Base Hospital a few times. He decided he shouldn’t drive anymore so sold his car and got a nifty red mobility scooter. It’s been quite an adjustment but we’re getting there.

I got a total knee replacement in early November and the joint is a miracle. The tendons etc around it are still painful but gradually getting better. Of course, being me, I got addicted to the pain relief. My other knee should be done by April/May.

My job continues to bring me joy, as does my art. Losing Faith, then Inky, was hard for both of us, but Goldie remains as loud as ever. Whatever life throws at us, family and friends support us, and love remains. Here’s to 2021 and all it will bring.

One Little Word 2021

Every year I join #olw – One Little Word with Ali Edwards. In 2020 my word was trust – you can read about why I chose it here. Did it work for me? For most areas of my life, yes. There are a couple of areas where I found it quite hard to trust, and that’s something I will continue to work on. Generally, I have a lot of trust that, if I am clear in my intentions, the universe will provide for me.

What’s my word for 2021? LIMIT. I was looking back at some old #olw lists on Ali’s site and saw this comment — “every limit is a beginning as well as an ending” and it was a total AHA! moment. As someone with a well-documented addictive personality, I see limits as a bad thing, stopping me from having what I want. It would be healthy for me to turn that around and see limits as being good for me; as the beginning of good choices and looking after myself.

For instance, following my recent knee replacement I’ve been struggling with addiction to codeine yet again. It would have been easier if I’d set a limit on the amount of codeine I took, right from day one, instead of having to wean myself off it again with all the accompanying withdrawal issues. Would I have managed to stick to a limit? Who knows – but it might have made me more aware and careful.

In 2021 I will try to set a healthy and achievable upper or lower limit on my:

V intake

food choices

exercise

use of pain medications, especially when I get my 2ndnew knee

time on social media

doom-scrolling Covid-19 *rolls eyes*

time spent on work when I’m not actually at work!

I’m sure there’s a lot more areas of my life where putting a limit will be helpful, even if it’s just to raise my awareness. As always, I’ve made an index card piece of art of my word, and it’ll live on the wall above my desk at work as a constant reminder.

Brief update

It’s been a long week. Tony’s ok enough, but it changes day to day. Today’s not been a good one. He’s slept much of the day and the cellulitis seems to be getting worse. The oral antibiotic is holding the infection at bay but that’s all.

We went to my work’s Christmas party for an hour last night. It was lovely for him to see people he knows and have a chat. Then we had dinner together at a local restaurant because he’d had enough people time.

I’m not blogging , or even updating Facebook, as much as normal. It’s partly that I’m not getting as much art time for all sorts of reasons, so don’t have as much to share. But I don’t want to be relentlessly negative and all too often there’s not a lot of positive news.

Except for this … my new knee is doing remarkably well. I’m well ahead of where the physio and surgeon expect for 4 weeks post-surgery. At home I don’t always use crutches, and at work etc I’m only using one crutch some of the time. I’m so very grateful for the surgery.

Addiction; myth vs reality

We all know what addicts are like, right? We see them on tv, in the movies etc all the time. If you asked people what they know about addicts you might hear things like: they have bad teeth, they’re unemployable, they don’t look after themselves. Think again.

I’ve talked before about the fact I have an addictive personality. It’s one of the things that lead to me having weight loss surgery, and being warned by the weight loss clinic’s psychologist to be careful about addiction transfer. A surprisingly high percentage of women who have weight loss surgery become alcoholics because they transfer from food to alcohol. For that reason, I don’t drink – I’ve had 3 weak alcoholic drinks in 4 years.

I had a total knee replacement three weeks ago and it’s going well. The surgeon prescribed panadol and codeine and, when I went back for a check up, they increased the codeine dose because I’ve got bursitis in my hip due to walking differently now.

I knew there was a risk of me becoming addicted to the codeine, as I’ve been addicted to pain relief before. So I’ve been careful, and watching myself. At 3am this morning I suddenly realised – yes, you guessed it – I’m addicted to the codeine. What am I going to do about it? Not much for now, except to make sure the amount I’m taking doesn’t increase.

Once my knee is fully healed I’ll go cold turkey. It’s easier on your system to wean yourself off but I’d just lie to myself about how much I was still taking because that’s what we do as addicts – we lie to ourselves, and to others. We hide the wrappers, the receipts, the bottles…

Why am I telling you this? Because as a society we need to be more honest about the costs of addiction, and change what we think we know about addicts. I’m re-reading “In the realm of hungry ghosts: close encounters with addiction” by Dr Gabor Mate. It’s not an easy read but it gets to the heart of addiction (emotional pain essentially) and has some useful advice for people like myself.

Progress

I saw one of the registrars who works with Mr Pennington on Tuesday. They’re pleased with the wound, which no longer needs dressing, and the range of movement I’ve got. I asked if I should exercise just until it gets uncomfortable, or push through? Push through, but not to the point of tears. Ok then – onto it.

Speaking of tears, since a few days post-surgery I’ve had excruciating pain in my hip. I’ve cried a lot – very unusual for me – and am only sleeping a couple of hours at a time. The Dr said it’s bursitis in my hip, brought on by the change in how I’m walking. Normally they’d consider a steroid injection but it would slow down my knee’s healing. If it’s still really bad when I go back in 4 weeks, they’ll relook at it.

If I’m still progressing well at my 6 week appointment they assess me for the waiting list to get my left knee done. By May next year I could be the grateful owner of 2 two knees ❤

I must be starting to feel a little bit better; I’ve been finishing off some art journal pages I’ve had lying around. When I can’t be bothered with any art, you know I’m feeling pretty bad! This journal is now so thick it’s hard to get straight scans – they’re not as wonky & unevenly spaced as they appear…

No kneeling – yet!

My new knee is doing well. The joint itself is already less painful to walk on than my old damaged knee, and my leg is straight. Amazing!

The same can’t be said of the bruising, which goes from mid thigh to ankle, round half my leg, and varies from yellow to reddish purple. Combined with significant swelling, it makes movement painful. However, there’s only one very itchy welt left now, so that’s progress.

I had my first Physio appointment on Friday; Fiona was pleased with the range of movement I’ve got so far. I can bend it about 80 degrees, and she’d like me to aim for 90+ by the time I see her in a fortnight. I have 13 different exercises to do, and some of them are up to 3 sets of 10 twice a day – they feel like a fulltime job 😉

All up I’m so pleased with how it’s going. There’s been a lot of painkillers, and a couple of weepy days, and some tears in the middle of the night – but I know it’s going to be so worth it.

Two steps forward

I’ll try to keep this short but we all know I tend to write a book. After waiting 7 years I finally got my first total knee replacement last Thursday. We planned a spinal block instead of general anaesthetic as it’s their norm. I got very nervous about it but the Anaesthetist was excellent and said we couldn’t risk damaging my vocal cords any further. As it turned out, it was simple and painless.

Surgery wasn’t till midday so Thursday was a write off. I woke up towards the end of the surgery; younger bones are harder to break and drill, so the surgery can take longer. I could hear the staff and feel the surgeon doing things, but without pain. I told the anaesthetist and he quickly put me under a general.

Friday I got up and had a wash, the physios showed me some exercises and got me walking a few steps. One of my staff dropped off some V; bless you Katherine! Saturday I showered myself and started walking up and down the ward. Roger and Tony visited and I went for a walk with them. It wasn’t sore at all but was starting to itch a lot. A Dr had a look and said it seemed ok.

Sunday I was able to walk right round the ward a couple of times, and the surgeon was pleased, but the itch was getting worse. As I was being released the nurse redressed it, as it had bled quite a lot, and we could see welts. Everyone decided I was allergic to the dressing. Sigh… Roger and my bestie of 52 years, Sandra, came and got me. Home, really mobile, but the itch 😑 They’d given me a script for Loratidine but the after hours pharmacies were all closed.

On Monday Tony took me to Hawera to get the script filled. I’ll skip the details but, in trying to get the wound redressed, we saw two pharmacies, my Dr’s surgery, A&E and the new rural health project. They redressed it, after talking with the ortho team in New Plymouth. Late in the day I got a call asking me to go to Base this morning for the ortho team to check on it.

I had a rough night, in tears a couple of times because the itch was so overwhelming. Again, I’ll skip the details but, after a rocky start, the nurse used her intuition and decided to pull the whole thing apart. Turns out I’m not allergic to the dressing, I’m allergic to the steri strips on the wound itself. When she took the steri strips off we found huge welts under them. The nurse and Dr were horrified – no wonder I was so itchy.

I have a new PICO positive pressure bandage and a great deal less itching already. The surgeon had a look and is delighted with how straight my knee is so they’ll check it again next week. So, it’s been rocky, but essentially things are great as I’m already walking with less pain than pre-surgery.

Cute new journal

I bought myself one of the small 6×6 Dina Wakley journals, which have lovely thick watercolour paper, and the new Art by Marlene Artsy Arabia paper elements. Love them! I’m having so much fun playing in this smaller format with the Dina Wakley gloss sprays, DWM acrylic paints, a few stencils and the paper elements.