Alli's Place

Where Alli shares her thoughts and feelings…

Weekly Witterings #17

1. Yesterday I went to look at bathroom showrooms. I bought a new mattress. It was in the back of my mind as the bed at the holiday home I rented was so much comfier than mine, so I went to have a look. And ordered one. A memory foam one. One so expensive they gave me freebies. Let’s hope it is as good as I hope. It comes with a 40 day return option so it will be ok!

And we’ll my bedroom has an ensuit so it is almost the same room…

2. I also have someone coming to measure and design my bathroom and ensuite. Must tidy the bedroom before Wednesday. “Operation don’t want to be embarrassed when the guy measures up” is on!

3. I managed a full week in the office. No working from home. The first time since 1st March! 😄 

And I went on two lunchtime walks (with bench rests)! 😄

This was the view from the bench on Wednesday.  

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Weekly Witterings 2015 #10

1.  I did some crocheting again last week.  I have made these for Lisa’s hen party and will be using them to make some decorations.  Won’t say more than that for now.     

The flowers are from here and the butterflies from here.

Have also made some gifts for Easter so I will post about those once the recipients have them.

2. The back has been improving, although it is slow.  I have been I to the office a bit this week but it is really exhausting and by Friday I was really pretty tired and uncomfortable.  More working from home this week!

3.  I bought a new laptop this week.  My old one was getting unreliable, was randomly blue screenng and then I ended up doing a reset after the last blue screen as it wouldn’t come back on.  So now I have an ASUS Transformer with a 15.6″ touchscreen that can rotate to use like a tablet.  So far I am quite pleased with it but have been mainly copying files onto it!

4.  Getting a bit fed up of not being able to do much now.  I might try a swim later in the week, the physio said it would be I as long as I don’t go crazy and expect to do lots of lengths.  I can always enjoy the jacuzzi anyway.

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Weekly Witterings 2015 #9

1.  Oh dear these are not exactly weekly are they…

2. So this week I should have been having fun at a hackathon in Frankfurt with work but instead I have been supporting it from my sofa so doing the work but missing out on the fun.  Oh well.  I feel rather guilty about it as literally a couple of days after saying I would go I then sent an email saying my back had gone again and I wouldn’t be going.  They got someone else to go but he doesn’t know the code, the files or the product particularly so not really very useful!

3. Andy has, however, got a big tub of gummy bears for me from the office.  Apparently he went down to reception and said how I couldn’t come but love the gummy bears they have.  So this will be making its way to my desk soon 😃


The receptionist probably thinks I am crazy!

4.  As if I hadn’t done enough to my back I fell down the stairs last week so now have a rather bruised bum too!  Not too sure what happened, I was carrying my washing and attempting the stairs without a crutch but I think my leg also gave way.  Hank fully I don’t seem to have made anything worse.

5. Not really been up to much else really.  I saw my Physio on Thursday and thankfully he was gentle and sympathetic.  See him again next week so hopefully thre will be some improvement to show him.

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Whoop I left the house

It has been a while but this evening I left the house and went to home group.  Exhausted now but it was good to get out.

I am down to using one crutch now so I can carry things and I can put socks and shoes on at last too!

Currently I am working from home, I was bored by Friday.

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Stupid Back Strikes again!

Here we go again 😦

I am pretty sure I have slipped the disc again.  It feels just like it did the other two times.  So at the moment I am hobbling around the house on crutches and taking lots of painkillers.

So  how did I do it this time?  Well it partially went when I went to sit of a stool at Tom and Fiona’s house to play a game with Eilidh (my lovely God Daughter). I then spent a while on the sofa hoping it would settle down.  Then it was time for dinner so I got up to move to the dining table, Eilidh was already sitting at the table and as I approached she turned in her chair to hug me.  The chair tipped back and I instinctively caught it and that is when the big ouch struck.  Let’s just say Tom had to walk me to the car and drive my car home and help me into the house.

That was Sunday evening, 1st March.  Yesterday I got the GP to come out to do a prescription for some more Tramadol.  There was no way. Was up to getting myself to the surgery.  The GP had no pen and wrote the wrong date on the prescription so the friend wh went to get if for me had to sort that out but I have a good supply of painkillers now.

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MRI Scans

I guess this post should have a health warning. You are about to see my insides.

I now have the images from all of my MRI scans. So here are some of the interesting views (the January 2009, post surgery ones are not very interesting so I left those out). Welcome to my lumbar spine which has been described as interesting, fascinating, complicated, unusual.

January 2008.
This is Jelly Bean, my now removed schwannoma.

You are looking for the jelly bean shape that is in the top two images, grey on the left and black on the right (one was with some contrast dye). In the bottom two images there is a round area in the middle towards the top which is the vertebrae and disc area and then a circle underneath which should be dark but the jelly bean is in there in grey leaving only a small crescent shaped, darker area, that is where the nerves are. The bottom two discs are not looking in great condition here either.

October 2013.
This is the disc that, to me, looks like it did a poo.

Unfortunately these are a bit darker so it is less easy to see. Look for a dark area that looks a bit like melted candle wax in the top two images. In the bottom two it is bulging downwards from the circle that is the vertebrae/disc area, it is a back area in the white area, which is the nerves. If you compare the images here to the ones from 2008 you can see the scar tissue from my surgery and the missing lamina bone. The scar tissue is the area that is white to the right on the two top images and the bottom of the lower images. This is the bit the surgeon didn’t fancy “fighting his way through”. He also pointed out that you can see the scar tissue in the muscle but not on the nerves and he sounded a bit concerned about disturbing that.

I still don’t understand why or how this caused more pain than jelly bean did even though it doesn’t take up as much of the nerve space.

April 2014.
These ones show the poo has gone but the discs still bulge and don’t look as good as the others.

This ones is essentially the most normal of the three. Obviously the lamina is still missing and the scar tissue is still there but it allows you to compare the abnormalities of the other two. Thankfully this lot meant the second operation didn’t happen. 😊

So there you have it, my insides and the cause of my back pain, referred leg pain, numb patch on my leg, foot and big toe and strange sensations in my big toe. It could be worse, Jelly Bean would have caused much more damage had it not been removed and was left to grow!

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Weekly Witterings 2015 #3

1. Well it hasn’t been the best of weeks. My back is playing up again so I took Thursday and Friday off sick. Getting a bit bored of the TV now. Thankfully the pain is settling down and I am now in the phase where you think “oh this isn’t too bad” and then the painkillers wear off. At least that is better than “it still hurts but I can’t have any more painkillers yet”.

2. I might have to admit that the acupuncture my physio did on Thursday helped. The leg pain wasn’t any better but the back pain eased and it felt different when he put the needles in this time.

3. I really fancy one of these swimming watches. They count your lengths for you and do stats on your speed etc. Very tempted. Maybe a birthday present for myself.

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Weekly Witterings #11

1. I have started wrapping my Christmas presents and am well down the Christmas card list. Planning to be organised. Ali in New Zealand might actually get her present before New Year this year, if I get to the post office soon.

2. Had another physiotherapy session on Friday. Actually had a good few weeks in between this time! Going for four weeks between this time. I think I have decided acupuncture isn’t really doing anything for me. We gave the needles a miss this time to see. I think the manipulation, painful though it is, has more of an affect.

3. Been doing some knitting again. Just a little Christmas project. Photos when it is finished.

4. Love the Sainsburys Christmas advert. The John Lewis one is good too, who doesn’t want a pet penguin after that?

5. I went for a wander around Anglesey Abbey this afternoon. The autumn colours were beautiful so I took quite a few photos.




6. My walk round rAnglesey Abbey was about 3 miles. Quite good going for me. I had lots of pauses on damp benches. Wondering whether I should be worried that my little toe and surrounding area kept going numb or not… Was it my boots? Ummm… Other than that it felt ok, not too painful.

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Acupuncture, what do I think now?

Well I said I would update my blog once I had researched a bit about acupuncture and had a few sessions and say whether my opinion had changed from sceptical…

In summary the jury is still out and I am still sceptical but probably a bit less scaeptical than I was.

What exactly has it involved?
Once my physio has done some intial progress checks and some manipulation to loosen things up he washes his hands and then get the needles out. He has always used four and these have been inserted in my lower back, in the area that I have problems, two either side of the spine in a kind of square. I then lie there while we have rather random conversations (we seem to be good at talking about really strange things which is often quite funny) then after a few minutes he “tweaks” the needles. I think he kind of twiddles them a bit. Then after a few more minutes he takes them out and as he usually wipes my back I assume there is a little bit of bleeding but nothing noticable by me. Generally it is fine and no big deal so I am not bothered by it. I must add though that I am not bother by needles and don’t mind injections or blood tests at all (ok so I am one of those freeks that likes to watch and I can’t watch this and if I am honest I would rather watch the needles go in).

What have I been feeling?
It generally doesn’t hurt and when it does it is one of those days when everything is feeling more tender anyway so it seems logical that it would hurt more then. The sensation of the needles going in varies from feeling virtually nothing to feeling like someone is pressing a bruise that then triggers twinges down my leg. The twinges usually happen when the needles on the other side of my spine have been inserted which to me seem strange My physiotherapist has explained that the nerves don’t just run down the go across the back as well so it isn’t as strange as I think it is aparently. I get the same sensations when he does his tweaking.

So what should it feel like?
This article describes different sensations that people have described but it vaguley says that along as it isn’t sharp that is ok which is not exactly helpful and it is this kind of vaguness that makes me sceptical.
A different article states “There is a unique sensation you should experience when you have acupuncture. It’s best described as a dull ache or a tingle followed by a dull sensation. It is essential to get this to know you’re having acupuncture rather than just a needle being stuck into some part of your body.” But I am not sure I am feeling that…

Wondering how to tell if acupuncture is working?
This article talks about improved sleep, being les stressed, having more energy, being more intune with emotios and having a more natural digestive system. Well some of these sound like the sort of fluffy fuzz I hate “oh yes I am more in tune with my emotiions” – where is the bucket! I do however admit that I am sleeping better, I am being woken by pain in the night less frequently that I was say 3 months ago but whether that is due to the acupuncture, the manipulation or my improved flexibility I wouldn’t like to say.

So do I think it is working?
I am not convinced. I guess I am still keeping an open mind. I have, like I said, noticed improvements; I generally sleep better and my walking speed has increased and my distace is slowing improving, my swimming is speeding up and I can swim further than I could a couple of weeks ago. But do I think this is down to the acupuncture, the manipulation or a combination of the two, well I am not sure and as I don’t have anything to compare it to in a scientific experimental way I am really un sure. At my last session we didn’t have time for acuputure so we just did manipulation and then talked about excersises and my physio did some other stuff so did I feel differnet after that instead of normal, I guess I did, as it I was a bit more uncomfortable the next day than I have been. So you could say that show the acupuncture does something or you could say that was because I was more stiff when I went in… oh who knows…

All I can say is generally I am improving and whatever is adding to that is good and my phsyio clearly believes in the acuputure and I trust him, but hey I am still somewhat sceptical 😉

By the way this is a good write up about about acupunture in general and as Kevin is my physio I recommend a read of that 😉

Some other interesting links…
There is plenty of information out there both for and against.
British Acupuncture Council has this to say about back pain and acupuncture.
The NHS offers acupuncture for some conditions, lower back pain being one of them. There must be sufficient evidence for NICE to recommend it. There is information from the NHS here.
The National Center For Complementary and Alternative Medicine has this to say. Basically they say research suggests it is useful for pain relief.
This article sets out to claim that acupunctures benefits are a myth. It suggests that “acupuncture is no better than a tooth pick for back pain”
The British Medical Journal has some articles, I can’t access them but the abstracts suggest that there should be more investigations.

Anyway there is lots of information around but my view is that it doesn’t seem to be particularly risky and I certainly haven’t had any bad effects from the sessions I have had so I remain open to giving it a go.

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Weekly Witterings #1

1. Monday was a wet bank holiday so I spent it mainly knitting


2. Loving this years Great British Bake Off. This weeks episode included #BinGate. Who do you want to win?

3. Managed 40 lengths in the pool this week, which is about 700 meters, in about 15 minutes. Nt bad I guess…

4. My walking is still improving but more slowly than the swimming. Back walking at lunchtimes though and enjoying views like this


Cambridge University have been building around the West site and this lake is part of the new landscaping. It makes walking around the office nicer and they are lots of benches to pause on.

5. Want to make this cake, rhubarb and custard. I have ordered the flavourings.

6. Drove up to Sunny Hunny (Hunstanton) on Friday evening, just for an overnight trip. This is this morning’s view


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