Shoulder surgery: Second time around

26 12 2015

Five years ago I had shoulder surgery on my left shoulder.

However, in the past 12 months my upper right arm has exhibited the same pain as the left one did in the months prior to the operation. I’ve had bursa injections, done physio, had acupuncture done by the physio, etc. Everything gave only temporary relief (from a couple of hours to a couple of days [the injection]). I’ve also been on anti-inflammatories for several months. So it was back to the orthopedic surgeon who did my left shoulder, and yes, I had to have the same procedure done on the right shoulder.

I had surgery on my right shoulder on Dec 19, the Saturday before Christmas. As before, it was an Arthroscopic Subacromial Decompression (ASAD), with a something called a ‘Capsular Release’. Basically, the surgeon scraped away some of the bone in my shoulder so that the tendon could move freely. He also told me afterwards that he had found some spurs, which he also removed.

The operation was late in the afternoon (after 4pm) and I spent Saturday night in the hospital in a fog of anaesthesia and pain killers. I was still a bit wonky and woozy on Sunday, but by mid-morning I was able to shower myself (with minimal assistance) and after the surgeon and physiotherapist visited and they’d checked all my vitals were OK, they sent me home with LOTS of strong drugs and my arm in a sling.

The anaesthetist told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to be in a LOT of pain afterwards and that I had to take the drugs whenever I felt the first twinges of pain and not be brave! He gave me a nerve block prior to putting me under. Fortunately, I’d had one five years’ ago, so I had an idea of what to expect. My whole upper right chest/shoulder area went into uncontrollable spasms until he was satisfied he’d hit the right place. A very weird experience.

This time, they didn’t leave a pain pump (like a grenade) hanging out of my shoulder — the general consensus is that it really doesn’t work.

I was in reasonable discomfort on Sunday, and still woozy every so often. I wore a sling for the first 24 hours, which helped a lot.

I actually felt pretty good — until I took the drugs I was prescribed. They knocked me around and I got really woozy fairly soon after taking them (they also give you really bad constipation!).

After a day at home, the pain wasn’t too bad (despite all the warnings from the anaesthetist and a friend who has had the same operation), so I stopped taking the drugs — they really were quite debilitating. But I had to take a laxative to clear the blockages caused by the drugs.

I spent the days after surgery doing not a lot. I read, I slept, I watched some movies and TV programs I’d recorded a while ago, I worked on a couple of jigsaws. I hardly turned on the computer, I didn’t touch the sewing or quilting machines, and I definitely didn’t go into the garden! Unlike five years ago, I can now get groceries home delivered so I avoided the Christmas crowds by doing so — that saved a lot of anguish for both me and my husband (I’m not allowed to drive for 2 to 4 weeks after the operation, and he’s not a fan of crowds/supermarkets/shopping at the best of times, let alone in the madness of Christmas!).

I’m doing all the exercises that the physio gave me to do when she visited me in hospital. And I can handle meal preparation, with only a small amount of assistance from my husband when I need to reach up.

No, I’m not pushing myself and ‘being brave’. Seriously, the pain isn’t too bad — it’s just a tad worse than I’d been putting up with for the past year or so. Very bearable. I can feel my range of movement improving with the exercises, so here’s hoping that continues to improve with time. After all, it’s only been 7 days since I had my surgery. I’ve had the occasional bit of pain, enough to take an anti-inflammatory overnight, but only once or twice. And I haven’t worn the sling since the first day home.

I had expected that I’d be in a lot of pain and have a very limited range of movement for some weeks, if not months, after this surgery. To say I’m delighted with the results so far, would be an understatement. As at Christmas morning, I can dry my back after my shower. I still can’t reach up high in the pantry or carry anything heavy in my right hand yet, or do up my bra from behind, or put on a t-shirt over my head, but these activities will come back in time.

I see the surgeon for the post-op appointment on December 29, so we’ll see what he says about my progress and what he found (I was pretty dopey when he saw me the next morning in hospital).



Shopping for groceries online

12 12 2015

I’m having shoulder surgery the Saturday before Christmas and won’t be able to drive, shop, prep meals etc. for a couple of weeks at least. Although my DH will help out, I think it’s a big ask to get him to go to the supermarket just to get usual groceries during the madness of the days prior to Xmas. He doesn’t deal with supermarkets/shopping/crowds at the best of times, so I’ve decided to try Coles’ online shopping and delivery service (Australia only). The registration, ordering, and checkout processes were surprisingly good and very easy, though it was a bit scary to see evidence of what they know I buy regularly! The next stage will be how timely and accurately the goods will be delivered on Saturday afternoon. I’ve shopped for all sorts of things online before, just never my weekly groceries! New experience.

Update: Saturday 12 December 2015

Well, my first Coles online shopping experience was probably the best customer experience I’ve had in an awfully long time, so much so that I’ll have no hesitation in repeating it. (Note: Long read! Might be useful info for Aussies.)

Why? Online ordering via their website was simple, easy to understand, with clear instructions and notifications — a great user experience. However, the critical thing for me was would they deliver when they said AND would the quality of the items picked for me be up to par. A resounding ‘yes’ on both counts.

I had an email this morning telling me that my 3-5pm delivery window was now 3:40-4:40pm with a link to track the progress closer to the time. I did that, and the delivery window narrowed to 4:02pm. I watched out for the Coles delivery truck and it was 3 minutes early! The chap who delivered the groceries to the front door also offered to bring them inside for me and put them on the kitchen counter. As I was a first-time customer, he also explained the delivery docket and showed me the number to call if ANYTHING wasn’t right.

He also told me that getting groceries delivered was actually cheaper than going to the store (which it definitely is in my case as I don’t have to do a 20-25 minute round trip to do my weekly shopping). The price is the same as the store price, and as this was my first order, delivery was free. If I order again and the order is over $100 and I get it delivered on a Wednesday, it’s also free delivery. Under other circumstances, delivery fees range from $6 to $12 depending on the time slot you want. Considering the goods come not from my local store but from a store some 25 km away (50 km round trip), that a pretty good deal.

Now, to the quality. They use a refrigerated truck and the items were nice and cold when I got them. The capsicum and the nectarines had no blemishes. The milk’s ‘use by’ date is a week hence. The celery was crisp and fresh. But the biggest test I set them (in my own mind) were the avocados. Would they be firm and just ripe, but not rock hard? Would they be over ripe and mushy? Would they be the smaller runts in the litter? They were perfect!! Firm with just enough softness when gently pressed–they’ll last for up to a week by my guess, though I’ll have eaten them by then 😉

Would I do this again? Absolutely! I’m going to have to when I have my surgery next Saturday anyway, but I think I’ll now change my habits and just go to the shops (for the few things not available online [e.g. hot chicken]), newsagency, and post office once a week (instead of twice a week) and get the bulk of my groceries delivered. It saved a good hour or more of my time, plus wear and tear on the car, parking hassles, people hassles, standing in line waiting to be served, screaming kids, and Christmas muzak!!!

Update 17 December 2015

I had my second delivery last night. All went as well as the first, except I was the biggest numduck around because instead of ordering five individual nectarines, I ordered five 1 kg packs of nectarines! All my fault for not checking the details closely. I won’t make that mistake again…

Fabric gift bags

12 12 2015

What a clever idea! Take an existing paper gift bag and make a fabric one from it. All the instructions are in this YouTube video:

Community Quilt 247

11 12 2015

How to quilt this quilt? I thought of doing an overall motif, but those straight strips kept calling me 😉 Instead, I decided to do straight lines extending past the straight strips in both vertical and horizontal directions.

The border fabric was so ‘busy’ that a large stipple was all that was necessary to stitch the layers together.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Robison-Anton ‘Raspberry’ (40 wt, rayon, colour 2426)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (dark gray)


Community Quilt 246

11 12 2015

This quilt had bias edges on the diamond shapes that needed to be dealt with as they were causing quite a bit of puffing as they were stretching out of shape.

I started by stitching in the ditch around all the blocks, borders, and stars. Then I echo stitched (in red) inside each of the diamonds, filling every alternate diamond with ribbon candy and the others with some more ruler work. All this stitching was successful in stopping the puffiness caused by the bias fabric.

I finished off with a wonky star in the centre square and some basic stippling in black backgrounds around each star, leaving the sashing strips and borders unstitched.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Robison-Anton ‘Tuxedo Red’ (40 wt, rayon, colour 2420); black
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (black)


An era has come to an end

7 12 2015

And it’s all good!

Late in October we had a call from the real estate agent that someone wanted to look at the final investment property we owned. Within a week contracts were signed, building and termite inspections done (and passed), and the waiting game began for final settlement (‘closure’ for my US friends), due to occur before Christmas. Considering we haven’t had even a nibble in the 5.5+ years it’s been available for sale (though on ‘silent listing’ for most of that time), this was a very welcome surprise.

One of the sets of documents we had to sign was for the discharge of two (small) mortgages that were linked to that property. And I realised that with the discharge of those mortgages, we would be totally debt-free as far as housing is concerned! (Yes, there’s always credit card debt, but we pay that off in full every month.)

After more than 35 years of mortgage payments, suddenly there’ll be none.

And that got me thinking about the properties/houses I’ve bought and that we’ve (my DH and me) purchased together (all in Western Australia; all dates approximate)…

  • Me: Guildford — 1979 to 1987 (residence)
  • Me: Subiaco — 1987 to 1991 (residence)
  • Us: South Perth — 1991 to 2007 (residence)
  • Us: Busselton — 1995 to 2013 (investment/rental house)
  • Us: Geraldton — 200? to 2010 (investment/rental unit)
  • Me: Nedlands — 200? to 2007 (commercial investment/office)
  • Us: Bridgetown — 2004 to 2015 (investment/rental house, and main residence from 2007 to 2010; this is the one just sold)
  • Us: Bridgetown — 2005 to 2010 (vacant land)
  • Us: Bridgetown — 2005 to 2013 (vacant land)
  • Us: near Bunbury — 2010 to now and ongoing (residence; we paid cash for this house and have never had a mortgage on it)

Except for our current house and the South Perth house, all these properties were purchased below the median price for the area at the time, and probably sold at around the median price, so we’re not talking property moguls here! Many were properties in regional areas, and regional real estate doesn’t reflect city real estate in its growth or price movements.

I purchased my first house before I was 25, in an era where it was very unusual for banks to lend money to single women for buying a house. I borrowed 100% of the funds for that first house as I had very little savings, having taken the previous year off work to finish my degrees. How did I borrow 100%? Well, for starters, I didn’t use a bank — I didn’t want the humiliation and misogynistic platitudes about getting a husband/bread winner first! I borrowed the deposit as a personal loan from a teachers’ credit union I belonged too, then used that as collateral to borrow the remaining amount from another credit union/friendly society (later it became a bank). In those days they didn’t check where the deposit money had come from — I doubt you could do that today 😉

I was able to make all my mortgage payments throughout the years, except for 1987/1988 when interest rates jumped to 17+%. I’d taken out the mortgage on the Subiaco house just a few months earlier at around 13.25% interest. I budgeted a buffer up to 15%, not even thinking that rates would keep increasing to 17%. Like many, I was in mortgage stress — I’d only just purchased the house and had stretched my finances to do so, then suddenly I was looking down the barrel of ballooning payments on a static income. Fortunately, I met up with an old friend who knew someone who was new to Perth and was looking for somewhere to live. Although sharing my house wasn’t my preferred choice, I ended up with a 23-year-old American girl as my ‘roomie’ — I had to pay that mortgage somehow! We ended up sharing the house for a couple of years, and we’re still good mates. Thanks Kris — you may never have known until now how much your rental contribution kept me from going under.

But as at noon today, it’s all over. NO MORE MORTGAGE PAYMENTS. EVER.

It feels very good to say that!

And look! 0.00 balances on the mortgages!!


Community Quilt 245

4 12 2015

This cute panel quilt of Australian animals and birds was easy to quilt — it was small, had obvious motifs to stitch around, and obvious designs in the borders to follow. I think I finished it in under an hour.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Harmony ‘Tweed’ (40 wt, cotton, colour 14076)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (light tan)


Community Quilt 244

4 12 2015

Another BIG quilt, this time a jelly roll strip quilt in lovely blue batiks.

How to quilt it? To counter the straight lines of the strips, I decided on an old favourite — an all-over spiral design. I think I can do that one in my sleep! I left the purple border unstitched, and in the blue border I stitched Vs/Ws, but instead of points, I squared off the bases to match the design in the fabric.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Floriani (40 wt, rayon, colour PF373)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (dark gray)