Life has taken over somewhat over the last month or so. The build up to Christmas was going smoothly and we were looking forward to an exciting 2012. Our focus changed on the Sunday before Christmas though, when mum was rushed into hospital for emergency surgery. So the 'festive period' was spent on the M4 motorway and doing battle with an NHS that seems to go into hibernation at bank holidays closing its eyes to the fact that people still get ill at Christmas.
Now the battle is on to get her out of hospital. Her local community hospital is closed to admissions because of staff shortages and there is little to no social care available because demand is outstripping supply. There are nine patients in the regional hospital waiting to be transferred. We're hoping now that mum will be discharge straight home on Thursday with our help so fingers crossed.
I haven't been able to think beyond this immediate problem so I haven't been able to get excited about our trip to Australia in April/May where I'm doing a Master Class in Pain in Adelaide followed by a three week break seeing a bit of the country and meeting with Australian Stitchlinks members.
In between hospital visits I've been preparing a presentation for the Cardiff University Pain Community on Thursday - this will be a voice over Powerpoint presentation. The following week I'm speaking at the Transverse Myelitis annual general meeting so I'm getting that sorted before hitting the M4 once again at the end of this week to stay with mum for her first few days at home. Perhaps then we can all start looking forward again to the rest of 2012!
Many of you will have helped us out by filling in our knitting survey last year. We received over 3,500 responses in 2 weeks so it was amazing! With 50 questions in the survey it has meant we have a lot of wonderful data to sift through and a big thank you goes to Prof Claire Griffel for helping us out with this.
Last Thursday we presented some preliminary results at the UK's annual conference for Occupational Therapists. Dr Jill Riley (my co-author) from Cardiff University presented the talk and we had a wonderful response. The next step is to submit a paper to a journal for publication, after which we will be free to disseminate the results so far to everyone else. Our plan is to write a lay version which we can email to forums and magazines to spread the word. Journal copyright rules prevent us from elaborating further on the data for now which is a bit frustrating.
I've done a few presentations recently to health professionals including hospital doctors and GPs and it is coming across loud and strong that the time is right for this type of new approach, so we're moving into a very exciting time for the research and Stitchlinks. So the hunt for funding to enable us to do a large scale project to look at a wide range of issues will go on.......
The Uk charity Pain Concern is running a series of online radio programmes on Ableradio.com. Just before Christmas the producer visited our Stitchlinks knitting group at the Pain Clinic of the Royal United Hospital in Bath. That programme is being aired tomorrow Tuesday 15th February at 11am and 8pm (UK time). They told us they got so much good stuff from their visit that they've devoted almost a full programme to us which is brilliant. As a result the group is also going to feature in Pain Concern's magazine.
The programme will also be available on podcast so you will be able to listen to it on your own computer wherever you live in the world! The podcast will be available shortly after the programmes go out tomorrow.
This is the link www.ableradio.com/podcasts/airing-pain
Hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think!
If you live in the UK you'll be able to watch tonight's Horizon programme on the Secrets of Pain. It's on at 9pm on BBC 2 and may be available on iplayer after this. It promises to be a very interesting programme and features the computer game Snow World. I was really interested in this work four years ago. It was developed by Dr Hunter Hoffman and is used to help with pain management for young patients with burns particularly when dressings are being changed. The game features a 3D world of icy, snowy adventure which captures the brain's attention away from the burning pain of having a burns dressing changed - a very clever idea. At the time it was calculated to have the same effect as a dose of morphine so it will be interesting to see what has developed over the last four years.
Also on Tuesday February 1st, you can listen to Pain Concern's, Airing Pain, Radio programme entitled "Pain Services in Bath'. It includes a recording of our knitting group at the Pain Clinic of the Royal United Hospital in Bath. It's being broadcast at 11am and 8pm on www.ableradio.com and will be available later on a podcast which will enable you to listen to it wherever you live in the world.
I'm excited and a little scared about it at the same time as I have no idea what parts of our interview were kept and what lies on the editorial floor! Fingers crossed the correct message comes across!
Cardiff University's study into knitting and memory is due to start on 2nd June and we need to find 90 volunteers who would be willing to give 90 minutes of their time to help out. If you're interested please email Betsan at Stitchlinks for a list of dates and time slots.
Stitchlinks and Cardiff University have also been working on a knitting survey and we're pleased to announce that it has just got ethical clearance from the university. We'll spend the next couple of weeks testing and piloting it so it will be ready to go online on 21st June. We need as many knitters as we can muster to fill it in. Details will be posted on the Stitchlinks website and forum nearer the time.
After four years of laying the foundation for this research this is really good news!
My visit to the British Pain Society's Annual Scientific Meeting in Manchester last week was a HUGE success. After four years of laying the foundations, it seems like we can finally start building upwards! I met lots of healthcare professionals who are really keen to incorporate knitting and knitting groups into their pain management tool boxes. Many commented that they thought we were on to something really important so we're moving into a really exciting stage.
The drive home last night was long and after several late nights I was fighting to stay concentrated and awake but fortunately the adrenaline coursing in my blood kept me awake despite the stop/go traffic jams around Birmingham.
Enjoying the sunshine today and just winding down slowly.
Isn't it funny how life turns around - just when you think you've exhausted all possibilities something else pops its head up.....
Brain storming session went well today. The word knitting in our proposal poses us a big problem however, we may have ways around it AND we have another potential add on to our study which will enhance it's 'serious science' image! So some of the stress has lifted a little.
Easter has also given us a reprieve so our deadline has moved from 1st April to 16th so today the Gods are working with us.
Have plans to blitz the house for Easter tomorrow, then Sunday I'll begin planning the stand we have at the British Pain Society's Annual Scientific Meeting.
We still have an uphill climb and masses to do but it does feel a lot more doable today.
I've been aware it's been a looooong time since I last posted. Christmas has long passed and we're nearly into Easter. No excuses - I've just been snowed under.
The weather is finally warming up here in Bath after an unusually cold, but nevertheless enjoyable winter. I love cold, crisp, clear mornings with clear blue skies.
We have a full house for Easter with all four children home and my mother staying. I'm having to be inventive with my cooking at the moment because the heating element on my oven died a couple of weeks ago and as we're planning a new kitchen in the summer I don't want to pay for a new part just right now. Not quite sure how I'm going to cook for 7 people over the Easter week though.
Plans for our research are moving forward in one area and encountering frustrating barriers in an other. The Cardiff research into knitting and memory will start in June and we also have an online knitting questionnaire devised by psychologists at the university which is planned to go online in May.
Our knitting and pain proposal has hit a barrier in that we have difficulty getting potential funders over the word knitting in the title. Can't do much about moving it as it's what we're studying. I have a brainstorming meeting tomorrow to try to resolve it, but could do without such narrow mindedness this close to our real submission deadline.
Oh well I suppose these things are sent to make us stronger - I'm sure someone once said that!