Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Pause for Breath

Taking a breather this month because work is very busy and I need to focus on that...

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Splitting themes

I'm currently trying to think of a way to split themes within this blog. I have no desire to update multiple locations to discuss different things which interest me. This is a short post where I am listing the themes which I can see myself covering, and then subdivisions within that. It's not necessarily stuff I do already, but also things I have intended to write, or to think about.

  • Self
    • Things about my life, health, and that sort of stuff
    • Anything I want to abstractly grumble about
  • Medieval miscellany
    • Research and thoughts
      • Class / Seminar notes (general)
      • Paternosters
      • Death
      • Testaments
      • Material culture and trade in gems / beads
      • Books, literacy, and reading
    • Non-research interests
      • PrePetrine Russia
      • A.P. Chekhov
      • Cleanliness and dirtiness in the high to late middle ages
      • Medieval food - mostly eating thereof!
      • Medievalisms and recreation
      • Aristocratic households
      • Marches and borders
      • Languages & idiolects
    • Conference reports
      • Attendee reports
      • Papers given by me
    • Plans
  • ASD / Aspie stuff
    • Slightly different from "self" in that it is about the state of being Aspie rather than about my life
    • Research comments
    • "Doing X while Aspie" - comments on how it is to do mundane or common things while having an ASD/Asperger's diagnosis.
    • Perseverations (mine)
      • Trains
      • Games
      • Trees
      • Costume & Sewing
      • Hawks and Corvids
  • Librarian / Books
    • Information access
      • How people get hold of (accurate) information
      • How people find and use information
    • What I am reading currently (sourced via Goodreads probably)
    • LMS / LSP thoughts (me as Systems Librarian)
    • Data, Metadata, and Indexing
  • Tech
    • New technology I'm using (hardware)
    • Technology I'm using (software)
    • Technology wishlists

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Having a Laparoscopy Operation

OK, so I briefly touched on this earlier but I thought I'd write it out to try and think it through.

I was due to go in for a minor operation on the 14 December but due to winter pressures on the NHS the Trust decided to cancel all non-urgent operations to make more bed spaces in the Surgical Short Stay areas. I was caught up in that and mine was one of the ones cancelled.

Thoughts from that:
  • I don't cope well with unexpected changes. I only found out shortly before I was due to head in and had a panic attack trying to figure out what I should do now about work. Luckily my boss is a good person who calmed me down, told me to have that day sick and to take the next as TOIL, and then come in as normal on the Monday.
  • Winter pressure is to be expected. It sucks, but I'd prefer little old ladies who have fallen to have their hips put back together again, thanks very much! What isn't really acceptable is to allow departments to schedule surgery when you (Trust) expect to send out a cancel-all-operations order. Just don't book the damn operations, so we don't take unneeded leave, and the bed spaces are there. You can always ring someone up like you did in January to give them as "last minute cancellation" if you find out you have the capacity!
  • The NHS needs better funding and to lost Hunt of the Rhyming Slang. And most of the leading MPs of the current day.
So... fast-forward to a few weeks later, and I was wondering what was happening about my operation re-scheduling. I spent a week or so ringing on and off to try to get hold of someone in the department I needed to find out what I should do, if anything. One Wednesday afternoon I was chatting to Mum as I walked in the door after work and decided to have a go then. To my surprise I got through, and gave over my hospital number etc.

"Can you come in tomorrow?"
"Err." *flustered* "I would have to check with work but I think so."
"Well we'd have to book it now, if you can't then..."
"No, no, I think I can. I'll check now and ring back if I can't but I'm sure I can." *panicking now*
"OK, that's great. Can you come in at 12:30 please?"
"Yes, no problem. Is it the same as on the previous instructions re food/drink?"
We clarified that, yes, I could have BLACK tea, and some toast before 07:30, and then nothing except water from then until 10am, when it went to nil.
"See you tomorrow."

One panicky phone call to my boss later, and I was packing my bag of things to take with me. Then rang TGO at work to let him know and also to persuade him that taking the day off work was pointless - I wasn't exactly going to be around and I figured I'd be unlikely to get home before 6 anyway. Various other phone calls to my older sister to sort out nephew collection duties as usually they come to us after school on a Thursday while she does marking etc.

There were then two more phone calls from the hospital:
"I'm really sorry, I forgot to ask you before. Is there any chance you might be pregnant? You know we can't do the operation if there is any chance."
"Definitely no chance."
"That's great, see you tomorrow."
"Have you had a pre-op?"
"A pre-op? What's that? I don't know."
Explained what the pre-op was
"No, I don't think so. I wasn't scheduled for one last time either though."
"Hmm, well we'd better do one just in case. Can you come in a bit earlier?"
"No problem. When were you thinking?"
"About 12ish would be fine"

Early night and early up so I could finish breakfast before 07:30. As an aside, black tea is tolerable but I REALLY wouldn't choose it! Just before 08:00 the phone rang, with the withheld number again like the other calls from the hospital, so I panicked that they were cancelling.
"We do need to do a pre-operation and we can't go ahead without it..."
"I can come in now!" *panic* "I'm only around the corner in [local area]"
"Oh!" *relief-sounding voice* "Great! How soon can you get here? Can you get here for 08:30?"
"Um, yeah, OK, no problem"
"See you soon"

So panic stations! I'd walked about so Mum had been nearby able to hear when I was on the call. She'd just run a bath so I was pushed at it, Dad was summoned and told to ring a taxi now (road works between home and hospital meant she couldn't drop me AND get to the class she was teaching for 9am). Speed wash in the bath, grabbed some clothes, put things mentioned on the letter (pills, types of clothes, pads) in a bag, shoved in some books with a charger, tablet, and phone. Had some cash shoved at me by Dad and was bundled into a cab. Husband at this point is oblivious as he'd been dropped off at the station just before the hospital rang.

Got to the hospital without any problems, and went into the Surgical Short Stay Unit (SSSU) to find out where I was supposed to go for the pre-op. Pre-Op is in the bowels of the hospital, so I got down there in plenty of time. As there was almost no one else there I went almost straight in.
Pre-Op was:
  • MRSA swab of nose
  • MRSA swab of groin
  • Height and weight
  • Blood pressure
  • "Do you have any allergies or intolerances?", version 1
  • Confirmation of data, part 1

All done by 09:00. I wasn't sure what to do next, so I ambled back towards the SSSU catching Pokémon. I debated walking down to Tesco nearby to get the gym there, but was worried about whether I was expected to stay on site so I didn't. Hung around in the SSSU registration area for a while until someone spotted me. Explained why I was there and that I wasn't sure what to do now, but that I didn't really want to go home and come back - could I sit in the Day Room? Nurse toddled off and came back to say they could admit me now and I could just park up on my bed and read if I liked or have a nap. So I did!

I read Ashes of Honor, some more of Games Creatures Play, and then a good chunk of The King Must Die, plus I got caught up on Facebook and Twitter (well as much as one can say caught up with either of those). I would have played Pokémon but I was tantalisingly just out of reach of the nearest stop and low on balls.

The rest of the time I had a number of visits from various people including nurses, the surgeon, and the anaesthetist, all who asked me for my allergies/intolerances, date of birth, and address. I know why they do it (so they know they have the right patient with the right notes), but it's both boring and exasperating after a while. At about 16:30 I was given my oh-so-sexy support stockings and put into the gown to be wheeled down. As I was moving from one bed area to another we took all my stuff with me to go into a locker while I was in surgery.

I came around about 6ish I think, and sat up. Lady next to me had had "growths" removed and was very groggy, but I didn't feel too bad so I stayed sitting up all the way back to the Unit. They found some endometrium where it shouldn't be, and removed it. Hopefully things will be a little better now... I had to drink a ton of water once I was in recovery because they won't let you out until you pee. My bladder was happy to take about 2 pints before it would go, so I was stuck there until about 8pm.

Other slightly random thoughts:
  • My anaesthetist was great and had a funky moustache. He agreed to gas me until I was under enough to not know there was a needle nearby. Good man!
  • I have a slow release bladder - I was still able to pee at nearly 16:30 before I was wheeled down, despite having drunk nothing since I was admitted at 09:30... Bodies are weird!
  • Gas is much nicer than injections but I was burping it for 2 days afterwards and it tastes BAD!
  • Recovery is both fast and slow - healing was very quick and clean, but I am still pretty tired 2 weeks later. It also occasionally twinges. I'm told this is because healing starts at the skin and works inwards, so while the holes are closed up now, the insides are still stab wounded.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

2017 - Life shenanigans

I haven't yet posted this year because I'm mostly thinking and not really DOING and I got attacked by that mean thing called Life... :)

Operation scheduled for mid-December got cancelled shortly beforehand which messed with my Aspie

I asked to see the local ASD specialists because I had some questions and because I had lost my diagnosis letter in the moved down here (I needed it for course reasons). I've ended up with a reassessment in February and I'm terrified they're going to take away my diagnosis. Illogical? Maybe. Real to me though.

Ended up with a last minute re-scheduling of my op just over a week ago. As in, Phone call at 15:50 to be in the following lunch time, and then altered at 07:30am to "how soon can you get in?"... More on that later.
Starting medication to hopefully kick my personal Plan A into action at last. 10 years in the planning on that one. No indications because I don't want to jinx anything!

I'm trying to work out what I want to do here, as in on this blog. I like the writing process because it's quite cathartic and no one else reads it! I'm half thinking of making it into streams and using two (or more) profiles to separate the different types if writing.

  • Medieval research notes
  • Life stuff - me, aspie,
  • Librarian / book things
Hmm, not sure.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

December - Planning for a New Year

Next year I will definitely be transferring to a new institution and starting again on a taught PG course. I attended one open day a week or so back, and am planning to attend another in the new year. Both are within an hour of home, so hopefully I'll be a lot less isolated than I was with my previous institution. Unfortunately I am not eligible for the Postgraduate Loans as I already have an MA - even though it's a "professional one". It's slightly irritating because I was ineligible for most types of funding when I took my original MA because it was classed as professional, and now I'm ineligible for the academic funding because said original MA is now too academic... ARGH!

Bloody typical! *sigh*

So, in practice that just means I'll continue part time.

When looking to go back to another more-local university I shortlisted 10 south-eastern institutions plus one near where TGO works. I don't really want to head back up there BUT it is a good university and a cheaper area to live, so... I put my inner-Aspie to work and have worked out a ranking for each institution and course based on a number of criteria.

Stage one: Identification

Seven institutions in and around London, with 10 courses that align with my academic interests;
One institution with two courses near TGO
Three general South-East institutions with six courses aligning. Some other south-eastern region institutions were not short-listed at this point due to accessibility (I don't drive) or lack of relevant courses.

Stage 2: Ranking
  1. Course titles:
    • Plain History couses were ranked lower than one that was either specifically "medieval" or which was designed as a Historical Research degree as I felt those would be of greater benefit to my future studies.
  2. Course type:
    • MA = 2 points, vs MRes = 1 point. This was because I felt I will benefit from more support at this stage.
  3. Dissertation lengths:
    • These were simply ranked by length, with a longer dissertation gaining more points because it usually reflected a lesser number of optional modules.
    • A shorter dissertation but more modules I deemed equally beneficial as a longer dissertation with less optional modules, assuming suitable support within the department.
  4. Compulsory modules:
    • A specific "Research skills" module was ranked most highly, with thematic overview modules ranking second. Other compulsory modules weren't ranked as I see these as 'things that I must complete' in contrast to 'things I find most beneficial'. 
  5. Optional modules:
    • Optional modules were harder to rank, so I decided to award 2 points to any optional module that I felt would be directly relevant to any future research I undertake.
    • Subsequent optional modules which would be useful in developing technique, contextual awareness, and so on, were given 1 point each.
  6. Language support:
    • I want a university that at minimum offers support and training in medieval Latin. Other relevant languages are a bonus, especially Middle English. Therefore Latin support and tuition was given 2 points, other relevant languages got 1, and irrelevant languages (to me) weren't noted.
  7. Cost:
    • Cost is always relevant, like it or not. Despite being mostly interested in part-time study, I ranked on full-time fees in part because not all institutions provided clear part-time fees.
    • Costs were ranked inversely, meaning a £10k/per annum cost was 1 point, and a £1k per annum cost would be 10 points. I used decimals here because there is a lot of difference between a £5000/yr and a £5700/yr cost.
Following this I decided to add in some additional adjustments to rankings based on some extra criteria.
  1. Part-time:
    • Not all institutions were clear that they offered their courses with a part-time option. I ranked those which clearly stated the existence of any part-time options as +1.

      This fed into adjustment 2...
  2. Tuition times:
    • Offering part-time tuition is one thing, offering ACCESSIBLE part-time tuition is another thing entirely! Many institutions weren't clear on how their times would adjust to someone who needs to continue working, and were mostly adjusted to accommodate those who had more flexible outside demands.
    • For 5 points, I ranked most highly those who offered evening tuition (one institution)
    • For 3 points, I ranked second those who offered tuition adjusted to work patterns, e.g. on one day or on specific afternoons.
      • This bias comes from my MA LIS, where Monday had most/all compulsory modules and optional modules on a rotating basis (i.e. Year 1 had 50% available, with the other 50% available on that day during Year 2). This meant that our part-timers had everything accessible on a day-release basis.
      • If an employed person wants to take a course, it is easier to negotiate a specific work pattern with their employer (e.g. longer hours Tues - Fri, swapping Weds for Saturday, and so on) than needing 2 hours on Monday morning, and an early finish on Thursdays for Term 1, then Wednesdays in term 2, and so on.
    • Those institutions who didn't specify, or which had timetables showing classes all across the times and days were ranked 0 as they were unhelpful to me. Some of these courses might have actually been available as a 3-point option, but they were really not helpful!
    • Only two institutions got any points here. One who only offer evening tuition, and one who offer a "flexible study-pattern" option. That was depressing!
  3. Palaeography
    • One angle on my future research plans involves extensive palaeographical work. I therefore would prefer an institution that offers palaeographical training and support. Some institutions didn't offer a named Palaeography course, but did offer Manuscript Studies or Training, which I viewed as a lesser-but-still-good version of Palaeography.
    • Palaeography courses were ranked +2, Manuscript studies courses were ranked +1, and courses without either got +0.

Stage 3: Results

Surprisingly, the course nearest to TGO's work got the highest rank, despite me not wanting to live there again. That was definite food for thought. They do offer part-time, I know from talking to past students that they are willing to be quite flexible on attendance (caused by working) providing you complete the work. They are also based within walking distance of the office I would have to transfer to.

There were four institutions and five courses which scored 25 points or more on my scale. Maximum points would have been 30-35 points depending on how long an optimal dissertation would be. I'll call these institutions B, M, R and U

M scored 27.5, having the best compulsory options, and second best optional modules. It offers palaeography and 2 languages but doesn't have optimal part-time study timings. Its fees are high.

B scored 27.4. Its compulsory options were a bit mediocre but it currently has some great and good optional modules. It offers both palaeography AND manuscript studies, but only Latin. It offers awesome tuition times as all its relevant classes are in the early evening. Its fees are moderate.

R scored 25.4 for one course and 25 for another (a third scored 22.5). It has good compulsory courses and solidly interesting and relevant optional modules. R offers palaeography and Latin, but no other languages and has an innovative flexible option allowing you to spread your course over more than two years. I have no idea how that would work in practice, so I will need to visit them soon to discuss how it would pan out for me. The fees are the best of the top courses.

U scored 25.2. U has less compulsory modules overall, but makes up by having the best optional modules on offer allowing a more customised course. It only offers manuscript studies not palaeography but offers many relevant languages in addition to Latin. Its tuition times sucked, but there is a part-time option. The main negative for U was the extremely high tuition fees. Removing tuition fees from consideration (not possible in reality!) would bump it up above both courses at R.

U and B have an additional advantage in that they are part of a wider network of institutions which sometimes permit sharing of modules BUT that would always be dependant on tuition times for me.

In all cases it was assumed that the options as advertised now would be available when I took the course. This is never guaranteed, of course!

Monday, 14 November 2016


I'm really not feeling in a good place mentally at present, so I'm going to leave the commentary for this month. On the up side, I just had a week and a half off work, and realised how much I'd pushed myself this year. I need to consciously work in breaks I think or I am going to break...

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Pop in

This month is knuckle down to it month...

In real life:

Must lose more weight to be able to undergo a procedure - BMI has relationship with success rate, and I need this to be successful!
Two birthdays to deal with - little sister and eldest nephew - he's going to be 10, where the hell did the last decade go to?!
Bits and bobs of travelling for work
Sorting out new ID card and Railcard for uni - need to go to campus to get things signed (unless I've managed to get that all sorted at the end of September (unlikely but possible)
TGO down here for a week for work (Yay for him here, Boo for snoring!)

I'm currently seriously considering as to whether it would be better to revise and resubmit my MA English Literature thesis, or restart with a taught MA course in a history department. My research interests and thesis align far better as History although I am currently based within English Literature. I'm paying writing up fees to postpone this decision in the shortterm but I'll need to get on with the process ASAP if I am going to apply. Additionally, if I do this, I think that it would be better to chose a different institution that is more local to me. Being a distance learner is very isolating and I don't think that I operate at my best within those parameters. What this all means is that I've now got a spreadsheet of universities within about an hour of where I am based which teach within my research interests. I'm now scoring them! Aspie brain ftw...

Monday, 19 September 2016


On Saturday morning I finally received my feedback from my viva. On Tuesday afternoon I'm meeting up with my supervisor (over Skype). I allowed myself the weekend to feel miserable about being told my original thesis was shit and needed a complete overhaul, and now tonight I have to get on with going through their comments to make a list of the changes needed. I need to learn from my mistakes otherwise I a) won't get this past the examiners on the second attempt, and b) if I DID get it past them, I certainly won't get through a PhD viva!

Plan for (the remainder of) September:

  1. Make list of Things to Fix from examiners comments
  2. Meet with Supervisor
  3. Agree timetable for corrections with supervisor
  4. Complete update of transcriptions
  5. Send updated transcriptions to supervisor

Future points:

  • Re-read / Read material to add into Chapter 1
  • Revise Chapter 1
    • Needs more material actively cited
  • Revise Chapter 4/5
    • Merge

Monday, 15 August 2016


This month began on holiday in Cornwall which was fantastic and Very Needed. As in recent years, this was a mass extended family holiday with myself, TGO, both sisters, our parents, one brother-in-law and three nephews. Back to work now though...

Currently I'm working on 2-3 things (#3 will happen if 1 and 2 behave!)

  1. Writing up a paper given earlier this year in response to general request from the Organising Committee. This is harder than it might seem because I ad lib most of my papers from a framework, so I don't have a paper to give them... I hate hunting down that reference I KNOW I read but cannot now for the life of me remember where!
  2. Transcription(s) for thesis rewrite. I ideally want to have all three done before term starts again so that when I get chasing for my flipping feedback (due mid April!!), I can get straight on with it...
  3. Paper or Panel for IMC 2017. I want to go, I would like to give a paper, but as of now I don't really have any ideas.
Well, the weather is lovely and I have much to do, but at least I can do it in the garden!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Popping in

Just popping in to say that I think I must be related to one of the Oz Wicked Witches because I'm MELTING! *cough*