Sunday, February 10, 2008

And I've been tagged, by Angie! (Thanks m'dear!)
The first tag of the year... is 4

4 jobs I have held:
Bus Conductor/Clippie
Care Assistant (with the Elderly)
Registered General Nurse
Registered Psychiatric Nurse

4 movies I like:
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
"Water" (by Deepa Mehta)
"The Star Wars trilogy" - all in one go!
"Rabbit Proof Fence"

4 Places I've been:
Marrakech, Morocco
Paris, France
Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China
Chiang Mai, Thailand

4 places I have lived:
Laugharne, Carmarthenshire
Balham, London
Burlington, Wisconsin
Lustleigh, Devon

4 TV shows/programs I watch:
I don't have a telly, but I have watched
Life on Mars
David Attenborough's 'Planet Earth'
Star Trek
Have I got News for You

4 Radio-shows I listen to:
Radio 4 (how appropriate) - the Archers
'I'm sorry I haven't a clue' (ISIHAC)
Radio 2 generally
Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (I have the original recording on a cassette tape!)

4 favorite foods
Spag Bol (damn - that spoiled the run of 'C's)

4 places I'd rather be:
Walking on Dartmoor
Floating down the river Dart on a lovely sunny autumnal day in a kayak,
Curled up in a big comfy armchair sipping a glass of mulled wine, in front of a roaring fire surrounded by convivial friends, on a snowy winter's night.
In bed

The 4 I tag:
WyeSue (well, wye not?)
Mrs Piglottie in the parlour
Rainie at Frog in Knots
and Knit Tigger Ra

And of course feel entirely free to join in - or not!

I can think of a few more? How about:
4 favourite books read last year:
"Half of a Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell
"Arthur and George" by Julian Barnes
"The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox" by Maggie O'Farrell

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Another FO. Another Wellington Hat. This is the third Wellington Hat I have knit. So the pattern must be EXCELLENT right? RIGHT! 'Specially as I don't ever knit a pattern more than once.It works so well with Noro Kureyon - those lovely blended colour changes set off the simple fairisle design to perfection. This one is a presi for Sal, from the Teignbridge Canoe Club.

And thinking ab0ut hats - I've ordered Woolly Wormhead's Going Straight. Can't wait.

Update, 6th March: Gave the hat to its intended recipient and it fit! She seemed really pleased with it :-)

The 'Mutton Jeff Midwife', has a certain ring, but it's a serious business, this gradual hearing loss of mine: I went for a review of my hearing at the audiology department - us 'hearing impaired' can have a repeat 'pure tone' hearing test every 3 years or so, courtesy of the NHS. It involves having a pair of headphones stuck on your head and having the audiologist fire notes into one ear or the other and you having to press a button when you can hear them. The tones can be very faint - and I start imagining noises are happening even when they're not! I already knew that my high frequencies were shot to pieces - but now they are just about ready to fall off the bottom of the scale. This means I can't hear the consonants of speech, as 'p', 't', 's', 'sh', 'k and 'g'' are all in the high frequencies. Most people sound like they are mumbling. And children are just impossible to interpret. I work out a lot of what people are saying from context - my lipreading skills leave much to be desired. I can sometimes get a conversation hilariously wrong: like when a doc said to me that "we'll wait and see" and I responded "No, nothing wrong with her pee"...

It helps if you attract my attention first before speaking to me, so I can pay attention!
This is the audiogram for my Right ear: Anything between 0 - 25 dB is considered to be Normal Hearing (above that dashed line). Then:
26 - 40 dB Mild Hearing Loss
41 - 55 dB Moderate Hearing Loss
56 - 70 dB Moderately Severe Hearing Loss
71 - 90 dB Severe Hearing Loss
>91 dB Profound Hearing Loss

So I have normal hearing in the Low Frequencies, but a severe to profound loss in the high frequencies, commonly known as a 'ski-slope' loss. As my audiologist said - there comes a point when hearing aids aren't much help as they can only amplify the hearing you have. No wonder my speech discrimination isn't much cop - even WITH my hearing aids, I'll have problems deciphering some words because so many of the consonants are missing - "00 u unneran?"

And that is my Left ear.

The 'speech banana' and the pictures show the sounds I can hear to the left of the line, and all the sounds I can't hear to the right of the line. I can hear jackhammers, crows, dogs barking, pianos, bass lines. I can't hear folk whispering, clocks ticking, high pitched alarms and bleeps, crickets chirping and birds singing - often not even with my HAs IN! This has implications for work: I can hear Fetal heart tones fine - and take blood pressures OK - though I have to take my hearing aids out to use a stethoscope which is a pain in the butt. I can't hear the new alarms from the rooms on Delivery Suite - they are very high pitched. This means I rely on others to tell me when a woman I'm caring for pushes her call bell when I'm out of the room. And I wonder what's going on when everyone rushes to answer the emergency buzzer. This is NOT ideal. Phone calls are variable: for some reason, '2' and '3' sound exactly alike when spoken over the phone. This makes taking down phone numbers and the like problematic. Sound quality varies - I'm OK if the line is clear and the person's voice is distinct. But I'm useless if they are quiet or on a mobile with a poor reception. I can use the phone with my hearing aids in, but I strain, so I prefer to take one out and jam the earpiece against my earlobe and ask the other person to shout at me. Anyway I'm off to 'Soundbase' in Exeter next Wednesday to see what sort of 'Assistive Listening Devices' I can get hold of to help me out which I guess I should have done way before now, but I'm good at procrastinating. I am fortunate to work in a Team with very supportive colleagues - everyone is aware of my hearing loss (well - it's not something that can be hidden, even though it's not particularly visible - the constant use of 'whaaaaaaat?' is a bit of a giveaway).

I guess what's got me so preoccupied with all this is that there has been a definite deterioration since my last hearing test - and I'm YOUNG to have this happen. What will I be like when I'm 60? I'll cross my fingers that the technology available will keep pace with my hearing loss, and try and protect the hearing I have left.

I have digital behind-the-ear aids - and the one good thing that came out of yesterday was that I was given a new pair - rounded and a dark grey colour called 'granite' - no more pink slugs for me! I like them. Thanks to Mary (Quite Contrary) who has the most gorgeous purpley blue HAs (and got them on the NHS) for the inspiration: As a result of seeing hers I asked for a different colour. I was told that they do do different colours but that these are for children and more expensive. (So is glitter in the clear ear moulds for children, but I got that!). But the 'granite' pair comes at no extra cost so I got those. There's an amusing (and so true) response to an article on getting used to hearing aids - see Amanda Kvaslvig's letter: "Follow up of people fitted with hearing aids" BMJ 2002; 325:1304.

As a result of the new aids, I nearly jumped out of my skin when someone texted me the other day. The sound was so loud!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Done something rash this afternoon: I've taken several steps towards signing up to train as an NCT Antenatal teacher. Do I have enough time? Probably not. But I see it as serving two purposes - 1) I can do more of one of the things I enjoy most: teaching prospective parents how to achieve the kind of birth they want and 2) keeping myself up to date - which I have to do for the day job anyway, thus killing two birds with one stone.
As a result I'm thinking of splitting the midwifery/NCT part of this blog off into a new 'baby catching' blog.
Hmm. Babies. My better half reckons they ALL look like Winston Churchill.
I saw this today, on the Net, from the "Musings of Harry":

Dear “medical practitioners”
You are not doctors. You exist because the government can’t afford more doctors. You are the NHS equivalent of Police Community Support Officers.
The fact that your job exists is probably a bad thing. It’s certainly a bad thing when “negligence isn’t really an issue for us” midwives kill their patients with epidurals.
Would this woman have survived if a doctor had administered the injection? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But if you had to choose between a doctor and a midwife to give you your epidural, who would you choose? I wonder who administered Sarah Brown’s medication when she was in labour?
Doctors are trained to diagnose. Doctors are trained to understand how drugs work. Doctors study these things for longer and in much greater depth than any other “medical practitioners”. Doctors should be diagnosing and prescribing, not ancilliary staff — especially not those who are currently unable to obtain insurance because the insurance companies refuse to insure them."
Dear Harry
This would be a one off occurrence you're talking about? A midwife killing a patient by administering bupivicaine down the IV line instead of the epidural catheter? I feel so sorry for Marie To and the family of the victim of this dreadful event. It was certainly a terrible, tragic happening and the sort of thing that has to be every midwives' nightmare, but might I remind you of the activities of another doctor: wasn't Harold Shipman a one off occurrence? Though the one was an accident and the other was far more malign as I recall.
As a midwife I do epidural top ups frequently - as do thousands of my colleagues - without mishap. (I must correct your terminology - no midwife 'gives' anyone an epidural - the anaesthetist sites it, we just administer the drugs after the initial 'loading dose' has been given, and look after it - AND I suspect a midwife administered Sarah Brown's medication!). I also do all the antenatal/intrapartum/postnatal care for my clients (who fall within the 'normal' pregnancy remit) without mishap at home and in hospital and have done so for the last 15 years. I don't hesitate to transfer women in from home if I'm at all concerned, or call for a doctor if the pregnancy or labour deviates from the norm.
LET me give you an example of the training I undergo: I can now undertake the 'Examination of the Newborn' - a simple all over check looking for abnormality that takes place 6-48 hours after the birth which includes checking for heart murmurs and congenital hip dislocation. To do this check I had to undertake over 6 months of lectures and tutorials, including the writing of two essays, and the completion of a portfolio with 40 exams documented (8 of which were overseen by a paediatric Consultant or Registrar). This work was marked and verified by the University of Plymouth and was separate and on top of my basic training. My Paediatric Senior House Officer colleagues (who, to be fair, have undergone extensive basic medical training) get shown how to do the examination once then told to get on with it.
I am insured because I work for the NHS. My independent colleagues could also be insured but that the insurance companies want the same rates for that coverage that they ask of obstetricians, and they just can't afford to pay that kind of sum. Which is not quite the same thing as you're saying, Harry. Also, independent midwives work exclusively in the home in the UK - so wouldn't even be administering epidural top ups.
I doubt if many doctors would want to do my job - care for women through the long hours of labour - though they might do what they do in many countries (including USA) where they get 'Obstetric Nurses' to do the hard slog then gallop in at the last moment on their handsome white charger to 'catch the baby', which any old fool could do. Ah, why am I bothering to respond to this garbage?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Finished object... Debbie Bliss Cable Jacket
At last I've finished the Debbie Bliss Cable Cardigan which I started last July - with just a few hiccups toward the end.
Any sensible knitter would take the pattern and highlight the size they are actually knitting, wouldn't they? Nah, not me, mate. So that's why, when I find that I'm running out of yarn I suddenly notice that the first sleeve I finished is over an inch too long. ON the pattern it says, after finishing the increases - work a further 32/24/16 rows. I'm knitting the medium size folks. So what do I do? I knit an extra 32 rows. So that's 8 rows too many. So I have to frog the top. I would have saved me so much time and effort if I'd just got the highlighter out in the beginning.

Well that surely means I'll have enough yarn to finish, right? 'Specially as I've knitted it in the round and saved some yarn on not knitting extra stitches for seams. Well noooo. I'm definitely going to run out of yarn.

I can't get the same colour yarn from the place I originally bought it, let alone the same dyelot. After much gnashing of teeth and wailing at the dogs and anyone else who will listen to me, I order a different dyelot but same colourway from a different company: Cnyttan wools (my saviours) - lo and behold and all saints be praised it is so similar to the original dyelot as to not make any difference.

I carry on knitting - only to find I'm STILL going to be short of yarn - by about 20 rows. You can see how much yarn I had left, with the entire of the top of the sleeve shaping still to do. I've photographed the top of the finished sleeve so you can see just how close it was. I suppose having several rows to finish is better than having just a few stitches left, but it's so frustrating to see the end and not be able to finish because I have to order yet another ball of wool then wait for it to arrive.
The pattern asked for 19 balls of wool. I needed 21. Did I swatch, you ask? Don't be ridiculous.

Today I finished it. It was all worthwhile.
It was, it really was.
I grafted the back collar - Now I'm really quite impressed with that. Not fantastically tidy - see the not very clear picture - but perfectly adequate AND I grafted CABLES for goodness sake.
The collar has a tacked down facing which makes it thick and snuggly, like wearing a scarf. And the Debbie Bliss cashmerino is lovely and soft and warm, mmm. I wore it to the Bovey Tracey Stitch 'N Bitch today and was suitably gratified by the positive response when I did a twirl. (We are such a lovely knitting group!). I shall wear it to Skip North.
Next week I'm off to the Lake District on a 'Walking Women's Holiday' - and I'm going up by train! I love travelling by train - all that knitting time! Cross fingers (and toes) the weather won't be too wet.