Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Time flies when you have deadlines

Where are my holidays going? Where?!? The lovely Department of Education gave us over a month off because of the World Cup and I have suddenly realised that I have just under 2 weeks left!

I'm not quite sure what I've been doing that the time has crept away from me so quickly. I certainly haven't been doing my research. In fact, I haven't done anything research-related in over a month - and I was hoping to have half my data collection done by now!

I have been going to my regular biokineticist sessions. It's actually been going very well. My back feels infinitely better and I'm not nearly as stiff and sore (or grumpy from being stiff and sore) as I was! I've also been given lots of exercises to do at home and this is really helping (and confusing my cat, who assumes that I'm lying on my bedroom floor because I want to pat her. Why else would I be down there? Duh!) The biokineticist is now also fixing my ankle (yes, the one that I hurt falling down that hill over a year ago!) and the torturous manipulation and feeling of my ligaments going in strange new directions is actually kind of nice. I'm praying that my medical aid actually pays for all of this though!

I've also been spending a lot of time baking! In the last 3 weeks, I've made 4 batches of cupcakes and 2 batches of brownies, for everything from a baby shower to my birthday picnic and for work. The brownies are a new recipe, and have little pieces of peppermint crisp in them. They are particularly lethal and He of Many Sports Injuries has grown rather fond of them, so I'll probably be making quite a few more batches.

Aside from baking, I've also been working at the vet a lot more than usual. The morning receptionist was away for a week, so I worked her shifts, and then the other receptionist fell ill, so I ended up working for her. This afternoon is pretty much my first afternoon off in a very long time and I'm quite enjoying not having to go to work, because it's freezing!

The other thing that has been a) very time-consuming and b) horrible was my bank card being cloned. Money has been disappearing out of my account for the last 3 months, and since it was only about R200 at a time and my bank statements arrive months late, I didn't really notice. I got a call from my bank's fraud department last week, asking whether I'd just bought something for R2000 and since I was sitting in my room, reading, and not doing any late-night shopping, I immediately asked for the card to be stopped. Since then, my days have been a blur of police statements and calls to the fraud department. Most of it is being sorted out and it looks like I may get at least some of the money back.

I'm now attempting to make some major progress on my to-do list, which includes some fairly important things, like MA applications, and some random things, like editing photos for Facebook and buying a throw for my study. I just hope it warms up a bit, because it is freezing! Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pretzelling - Session 1

Monday was an interesting day - and a rather painful one! Dashing from work to the biokineticist, I headed off to my first appointment. It was freezing cold (again), but the consultation rooms were lovely and warm, which I was really grateful for!

I was greeted by the squad of biokineticists, 2 of whom were busy torturing (sorry - I mean stretching) clients. My one seemed very excited to see me, and so the session began! I started by walking on the treadmill for 5 minutes, and having not fallen on my face while doing so clearly lulled me into a false sense of security! After the walking, I had to lie down on a mat (a really nice green squishy one) and the biokineticist proceeded to warn me that this would "probably hurt", and began stretching my legs towards my shoulders, across my body and into positions that they haven't really been in for a very long time! Some of the stretches were comfortable, some were uncomfortable, but not painful and some resulted in my eyes watering as some distant nerve or ligament in my knee or hamstring screamed in protest. I managed not to scream while I was being pretzelled, which the biokineticist herself viewed as fairly miraculous. She kept asking if I was okay. My feet kept going to sleep while she was manipulating my legs and hips, which made things somewhat awkward when she asked how things were feeling and I would reply "Numb!". It was painful, but in a good way - and at least she didn't ask me to smile while she was doing all the stretches (my yoga teacher always made us do an impossible pose, where you were about to fall over while stretching some muscle you never knew existed, and then she would tell you to smile. Sadly, she could tell the difference between a smile and a grimace!). She also gave me a whole bunch of exercises to do at home, which should help to speed up the process.
After all this torture, I decided that I would like a detailed explanation of what is actually wrong with me! Basically, the ligaments between my pelvis, specifically, the ilium, and my sacrum are stretched, which is making them moving around, and this is making the surrounding muscles move around, resulting in lots of lower back pain (see diagram below).
So, basically, I have to strengthen and tighten these muscles to fix the problem, hence the weekly biokineticist torture sessions for the next while! Let's hope that I survive!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stand on one leg...

I seem to spend more time going for X-rays, physiotherapy and podiatrist appointments than anyone else I know. I don't know what it is, but I seem to have seriously problematic feet. The most exciting foot problem in recent memory was, of course, my ankle injury last year, where I managed to tear all the ligaments in my ankle by falling down a hill on a hike (admittedly, this is how I met He of Many Sports Injuries, which is a good thing, but over a year down the line, my ankle is still slightly swollen and fairly dodgy at the best of times).
The saga appears to be continuing, because my podiatrist has noticed that my shoulders aren't the same height. She sent me for X-rays and referred me to a biokineticist in the hope of getting to the bottom of the problem. The X-rays have shown that my legs are fine and aren't different lengths and that the issue seems to involve my hips and sacrum.
I headed off to the biokineticist today with a fair amount of trepidation. Firstly, it was absolutely freezing and so I was wearing about 6 layers and secondly, I'm not particularly fit and not at all flexible at the moment, as the dodgy ankle has made balancing difficult and I've thus been avoiding yoga for about a year. So, I knew that at some point I would be asked to balance on one leg or something and end up falling over.
I met the biokineticist, Janine, about 2 weeks ago, and she was very bubbly and friendly. I arrived today to discover that she had multiplied and I thus spent the morning being stared at by 3 pretty blond ladies. It was rather intimidating. I had to stand (facing them, turned to the left, turned to the right and facing away from them) while they scrutinised me and used assorted words (mostly 'posterior' and anterior') to describe my shoulders, hips and, most likely, my collarbone. Then the complicated stuff started. I had to bend over and touch my toes. Now, for some bizarre reason, even after 16 years of ballet, I have never been able to comfortably touch my toes. I got fairly close today, and while doing so, the biokineticists got very excited and became fascinated by my lumber spine (particularly L10 to L12). I have no idea what was going on, but it was apparently a medical breakthrough and they were very interested in my vertebrae. I have to admit that I was too scared to ask what was actually going on. After the excitement caused by L10 to L12, we moved onto me standing on one leg (which wasn't that bad, actually) and then doing some squats (with the biokineticist squad encouraging/intimidating me by saying "Surely you can go lower than that?!"). The worst part was the "balance on one leg while doing a squat" part, because the scar tissue in my ankle simply will not allow this combination of movements.
After this, I had to lie on their examining table while they poked and prodded every muscle in my body, asking what hurt. Oddly enough, the things which I expected to hurt were fine and the things that I thought were fine nearly brought tears to my eyes when pressed. All the scrutiny about my muscle strength has made me really paranoid. I mean, I'm not a blob of jelly - I run and stretch and I've always been fairly active, but the way they were writing things down and muttering about 'posterior' and 'anterior' things made me wonder whether they thought that I just sat in front of the TV and ate chocolate and corn starch all day.
We then moved onto the treadmill. Now, I have never had a gym contract and so my exposure to treadmills has been rather limited. Even at a walking pace, I didn't trust myself to not fall on my face. Miraculously, I survived both the running and the walking while the committee observed me from behind and said things about my hips.
I am not entirely sure what's actually wrong with me. I think my sacrum is misaligned, which is affecting my hips, which is affecting my legs when I run. This explains the back pain and all the other symptoms and aches and pains. And despite the strange scrutiny process, I actually enjoyed the assessment and I'm looking forward to my appointment on Monday, where whatever is wrong 'anteriorally' or 'posteriorally' (in L10 to L12) will hopefully begin to be corrected.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Grease is the word
It's got groove, it's got meaning
Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion
Grease is the way we are feeling...

On Sunday afternoon, He of Many Sports Injuries and I headed off to the Teatro at Montecasino to see Grease. As anyone who knows me is aware, I absolutely love musicals and Grease is no exception! If anything, it has a particularly special place in my heart because it was the major production which I took part in when I was in matric in high school, and, as well as knowing all the words in the script and all the songs, I also have a lot of very good memories associated with it!

It was fairly miraculous that the evening happened at all, since He of Many Sports Injuries has been completely overwhelmed with work and most of our Saturday and Sunday nights have been interrupted by phone calls from the office, with people asking him to come in and fix a printer at 7 o'clock at night. Luckily, he was just as tired of the constant phone calls as I was, so he left his phone in the car and we set off for the theatre.

Of all the places in Johannesburg that I like the least, Montecasino is fairly near the top of the list. I can't stand the faux Tuscan look, both inside and out (and I hate those wretched cobblestone walkways! I spend the entire night waiting to slip and fall on my face!). The Teatro is quite nice though - it's a magnificent theatre and the main seating area is great, even if the balcony is a bit far back to be able to see everything properly. The only problem that I have is the sound quality - the sound is just too "big" for the size of the theatre, and it means that vocals tend to get lost in the music.

The production itself was fantastic though! The costumes were gorgeous, the sets were really well-utilised and the acting, dancing and singing were excellent! I had my usual moment of envy during the performance - I would love to be involved in a musical again! The actors definitely got it right though and Jonathan Roxmouth was brilliant as Danny. I've seen him progress over the last couple of years, from the RAPS play festival to Cats and he really is ridiculously talented.

He of Many Sports Injuries and I followed up our very sophisticated trip to the theatre with some less sophisticated takeaway wraps from the fast food outlet, while watching the Japanese tourists taking photos of one another next to the fountain at Montecasino. We then nearly lost the car (why do all the entrances at Montecasino look identical?!?) and then drove around and around the traffic circles outside Montecasino, for no particular reason. As I discovered on Sunday night, letting my boyfriend eat a roll of Mentos, a packet of Jellytots and drink a Coke and a Coke Light is a very bad idea. He tends to become extremely hyperactive and we end up doing very silly things! It makes the evening very interesting though, so it's worth it!

Have you seen any good stage productions (or eaten too much sugar and had interesting experiences as a result of it) recently?

Monday, June 7, 2010

A long-awaited update and some changes...

Where is this year going? I can't believe that a) it's June (JUNE!?!?) and b) that I haven't blogged ... um... in a while.

In my defence, things have been somewhat crazy over the last few months. I find that craziness is best expressed in bullet-points, so here goes:

  • I had a research meltdown - the kind where your supervisor starts asking whether there's "anything else" that you're interested in researching. This is never good, especially when you've already written your literature review. Fortunately, the research was resucitated and I now have ethical approval. *sigh of relief*

  • I have marked 90-something essays written by second year psychology students, which has lead to be becoming increasingly concerned about the South African school system (or even just the general inability of most students to use a spell-checker). Apparently, "woman (yup, singular) are made of ovaries". True story.

  • I completed the Hike of Doom, complete with Chiara's death march, my own death march and the ladder of death. More details and photos will follow soon! I have to brag about how I didn't fall down and hurt myself!

  • I went on holiday to the beach, for 5 lovely days of sea and sun with Graham, Sarah and He of Many Sports Injuries. It happened to coincide with He of Many Sports Injuries and my six monthiversary. Lame, but lovely nonetheless. As usual, pics and details to follow!

  • Every second person I know is getting engaged. So, I've been going to lots of engagement party-type things. It's still somewhat unnerving to know that this is "the age" when everyone gets married. I may or may not be contemplating some major commitment-phobic issues at the moment.

  • I finally finished reading Jane Austen's "Emma". It only took 4 months - I think.

  • I wrote the stats test from hell. Blegh! And got 75%. Oops.

  • I wrote the 6 hour exam from hell... And I'm still waiting for the results.

  • I'm going to be tortured by a biokineticist on Thursday.

The biggest news of all - at least in terms of this blog - is that, in an effort to be able to blog more often, I'm going to be changing the format of my blog slightly. When I started writing, I tried to base each post on a movie title. While this has made me feel very clever when I've made a witty link between my writing and a suitably apt or ironic title, I've also written some very lame posts, with some cringe-worthy titles. I also have loads of things which I'd like to write about and which I don't write about because no one has ever made a movie about MA interviews or research projects or lasagne or... Well, you get the point. So, while the format of the blog will remain the same (i.e. my random ramblings), the titles will no longer be movie-based (unless, of course, I manage to come up with some brilliant link between my post and a title). I hope that this change will mean that my writing process will become easier - and my posts more frequent!