29 November 2007

Medical progress

Today I walked down and up 15 steps without using either crutch or cane (though holding on to the railing with one hand), and putting only one foot on each step in the normal manner (instead of putting one foot on the step and then putting the other foot on the same step. Thus I leaped several stages of recovery in one bound! Incredible. I'm still limping/lurching a bit as I walk (apparently due to tight muscles on the right leg) but that seems to be improving daily too. I feel about 10 years younger than I did a few months ago.

27 November 2007

Five years with OpenOffice.org!

I just realised that I joined the OpenOffice.org (OOo) project five years ago. I got my first copy of OOo (1.0.1) in late August 2002 and joined the Documentation list on 4 December of that year, while working on what was to become my first self-published book on the topic (Taming OpenOffice.org). In mid-2003 I met Daniel Carrera online and joined the OOoAuthors project (producing user documentation for OOo), and in September 2003 Daniel recruited me as lead editor for OOoAuthors, where I've been volunteering ever since. Wow! How times flies. It is time for me to move on from OOo to something else. I've become somewhat bored with the routine, even though I'm also very happy with the way things have been going at OOo. Over the past 6 months, the new team at OOo Documentation seem to be embracing the resources at OOoAuthors (people, website and user guides) with enthusiasm, and several grass-roots initiatives (for example the wiki and a new user forum) have really taken off. So I feel I can now leave and things will keep chugging along well without me... though I am disappointed that I never managed to get a Calc Guide finished (I just don't know enough to write all the missing bits myself, like I did with Writer). So I'm telling both OOoAuthors and the OOo Documentation Project that I'll be winding down my activities by the end of 2007. I plan to continue producing the printed copies of OOoAuthors books through Lulu.com in my role as publisher at Friends of OpenDocument Inc. Perhaps I'll have time to expand those publishing activities to include books on other software or even translations of the existing books—of course that depends on someone writing the books or providing the translations.

24 November 2007

A bird comes to visit

A lot of birds visit our balcony. Mostly they are the common local birds like cockatoos and lorikeets, but occasionally something unusual stops by. I must get out the bird book and try to identify this one. Two of them turned up early one evening and stayed long enough for us to take photos, most of which turned out badly.

20 November 2007

New Avalook website goes live

Although many pages of my Australian travel website (Avalook) have yet to be moved into WordPress, I've made the site live. Pages that have been updated are in the new (WordPress) style, and the others are still visible but in the previous (home-grown) style. I decided that if I waited until I had moved all the pages into Wordpress, the new site would never go live... or at least not for another year or more... not least because I'm more interested in getting some photo albums done and online too.

18 November 2007

Medical costs

I saw the full bill from the hospital (charged to my medical fund) for the right hip operation: just under $12,500. That includes the 4-night hospital stay, operating theatre fees, and the implant itself, but doesn't include the surgeon's and anaesthetists' fees (approx another $5,000, most of which is also covered by my medical fund). Presumably the other hip cost about the same except for one extra day in hospital. I suspect this is somewhat less than a comparable operation would cost in the USA.

17 November 2007

Medical progress

The staples were removed yesterday from the incision in my leg, using a staple puller much like those I'm familiar with from business offices. The surgeon says I can pretty much do whatever I want instead of sticking to the list of restrictions on activities (designed for the "average patient"). The fact that I walked into his office without using any crutch or cane, 10 days after the operation, probably didn't hurt my case any. Mind you, my "walk" at the moment has a fair amount of stagger and lurch in it, but that should improve rapidly. The only rule is: if it hurts, stop doing it. Sitting at the keyboard for any length of time makes my hip ache (not bad, but noticeable), so I'm using that as an excuse to spend more time in my recliner chair reading novels. I continue to have very little pain (in contrast to the first operation), other than a brief bout on Wednesday night which succumbed to high-strength prescription painkillers and has not returned.

13 November 2007

Marina construction update

More earth movement. I wonder how many tonnes are being shifted? Much of the construction site looks to me like an open-cut mine, including the small mining trucks being used to shift the dirt.

12 November 2007

More hip hooray!

On 6 November I had my right hip replaced. The surgeon, hospital, and device used were the same as for the left hip, but the two experiences were otherwise very different. The second seems to have taken place in an alternate universe to the first... one that for the most part I found much more to my liking. The anaesthetist was a different person and he took a different approach, using different drugs. Probably this was his standard approach, but the choice may have been influenced by the complaints I had made about inadequate pain relief following the first operation. I remained in the recovery room for an hour or more and was returned to my room (where Eric was waiting) around 6 pm., having gone in to pre-op around 1:30. I felt okay but very spacey. Over the next 12 hours I experienced some quite entertaining hallucinations, mainly of the parts of the room moving around in several dimensions whenever I tried to focus on some­thing. The effect was most pronounced when I looked at my travel clock to see what time it was; the clock face would strobe forward and back so it was impossible to focus on. Other than that, I felt fine. One thing that had con­cerned me was the possibility of a repeat of the severe pain I’d had on getting my own blood transfused back into me. The surgeon avoided this possibility by doing the transfusion during the operation itself. For the first time in my life (except perhaps as a very small child), I reacted to the anaesthetic drugs by being unable to keep any food down. Most disconcerting! Normally I can eat soon after waking up, with no ill effects. I found it quite odd that I felt perfectly fine otherwise. The next day, after receiving an infusion (through the drip) of some anti-vomiting drug, I was able to eat. I felt little pain during the day or that night (unlike after the previous operation). The physiotherapist had me up and walking in place that afternoon. On Thursday morning, after the surgeon had inspected me, a nurse removed the drains and I went into the shower (using the crutches, not the walker) and demonstrated that I could get around on the crutches just fine. The physiotherapist rewarded my progress by having me practice going up and down a step 10 times. In the evening I went for a walk around the hospital corridors and met another of my surgeon's patients: a man who’d had a knee replacement operation on Monday. He said he was having both hips and both knees replaced, at about three-month intervals: right hip 3 months ago, left knee this week, right knee in January, left hip 3 months after that. He was making a good pace and said that by the next day he thought he wouldn’t need the crutches at all. Saturday the dressing was removed from the incision and we drove home. I had no problem getting into the car, despite the passenger seat being on the wrong side for putting my good leg in first. I was still experiencing a remarkable lack of pain. I almost immedi­ately stopped needing two crutches and was getting around fine on one... and in some cases (in the kitchen or the bathroom) not using a crutch at all.

04 November 2007

Grumpy old woman shirt

I've been trying to find a "Grumpy Old Woman" t-shirt, but have been able to find only "Grumpy Old Man". The GOW website has a selection of shirts, but none of them say "Grumpy Old Woman". So, when Eric spotted GOM shirts going for a low price, he bought two of them for me. I then got a bottle of white fabric paint and edited the writing on the shirt. Here is the result. (I'm taking it with me to the hospital to amuse the nurses.)

03 November 2007

Mobile phone as modem

One goal I had for my new mobile phone was to be able to use it as a modem to connect the computer to the internet using Bluetooth under Ubuntu. It was easy to get the phone and the computer to recognise each other's existence, but I was stumped on the next step. So I asked for help on the Australian Ubuntu users' list and several people answered, each giving me a different piece of the puzzle: one helped me get the Bluetooth connection working, one gave me a set of scripts to do the dialing, and one had some other hints and tips to make my life easier. I don't know what age group(s) these guys are in, but I asked them to explain how to do things "like you would explain it to your grandmother" and they did a fine job, even the one who started out talking in incomprehensible (to me) geek-speak. I followed their instructions carefully and on my first test -- IT WORKED! I won't actually use the mobile phone as a modem except as a last resort, because of the costs involved and its slower speed compared to our home broadband connection, though the phone company does have a monthly data plan I can sign up for at times when I expect to be using it a lot (like next year's planned outback expedition).