Wednesday, October 26, 2005

weight loss

I'm on a diet. I'm, what, one and a half stone overweight?

Thanks to the good people at Weightwatchers, I am shedding pounds.

OK so it's good to look as good as you can ... and I'll have less anxiety when trying on a new pair of trousers the next time I drop down to Blue Water ... but I'm doing it for another reason.

Yes, I'm losing weight to sell on the stock exchange. No that was a hilarious misdirection because the actual reason is dull.

Have you guessed what it is yet?

Yeah, GOUT. Effing out again.

Last week's annual leave was a fucking washout. I had double gout ... foot and knee both at the same time. "gout is the most painful form of arthritis" I've been told by many websites now ... so am glad I'm not just whinging too much. You start to doubt yourself and your reaction after a while.

there is too little and also too much information on the web about gout. I've taken a line through it though. One thing that several sites and leaflets suggest definitely is good is weight loss. So I'm shedding the extra flab to promote a less painful lifestyle.

What I don't quite understand is why it helps gout. Gout is a metabolic arthiritis. I get it because I have too much uric acid in my blood stream - average is 4.5 whereas my count is 5.4 apparently, whatever that meanhs, whatever units that's in.

So, I've lost 6 lbs in less than a week! Good, ya? Yes it's a man diet ... men only need to just take one teaspoon of sugar out of their tea and they fair fountain the fat away.

Am walking a bit better now. Bit wobbly and in pain but marked improvement since Monday, even.

Lost on telly tonight ... and Jamie's Italy thing ...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Blogger sucks

Verification graphics?

Do you have one of these new fangled Verification Graphics in the comments section of your blog? I think it is meant to stop spam. Well it also stops visually impaired people leaving comments too!

Blind people can't read graphics with their screenreaders at all ... and partially sighted people mostly find it too difficult to decode what the graphic says. So there's no way that visually impaired people can tap the word into the edit field because we can't read it!

I urge you, if you have this anti-spam feature on your site ... dump it immediately!


Have you seen More4 yet? It's the new adult entertainment channel for intelligent 35s and over from the stables of Channel 4.

Gotta say I'm really rather disappointed with it so far. Looking through the schedules there are approx 1 or 2 shows a week I'd want to watch, rather than the 1 or 2 shows per night I was hoping for.

I know they're on a very low budget - 30 million per year - but there's something really uninspiring about More4. It's a real shame. I'm not going to totally write it off though.

They're relying on the stripping and stranding approach to TV very heavily so that you'll make daily appointments at the same time for a certain show or certain kind of show.

• 7pm - So, tune in at 7pm every day and you get the dreary Grand Designs repeats. Dislike that show - poss cos it's rather visual though.

• 8pm More4 News - I love Channel 4 News mainly for TV news god Jon Snow. Sarah Smith, the more4 news presenter, doesn't quite cut it for me but then nor do any of the other Channel 4 news presenters. I haven't yet worked out the added value of this show ... especially if you've already watched Channel 4 news between 7 and 8. More discussion and more opinion is what I'd like, more of an intelligent news magazine than a bulletin.

• 8:30pm The Daily Show - Deep comic analysis of American politics and news? Huh? Who is the audience? I know there is a certain intellectual base in Britain who likes to keep across this kind of stuff but I think it's a very very very niche interested group for 8:30pm. 11pm maybe. The Last Word should be on at 8:30pm, not 11. Even the entertainment based David Letterman show has failed to woo prime time audiences before now on ITV2 and that's far less niche. How about a British Daily Show? Now that would be superb though possibly way too expensive. Britain doesn't seem to be able to achieve those daily late night talk shows or daily evening chat shows very well. Never worked out whether this was a talent issue or a budget issue or what.

9pm DOCUMENTARY, BIG ACQUISITION or BIG EVENT TV - this is where today's documentary goes. Some great stuff like tonight's Spellbound, for instance and last week's A very social secretary (blind portrayals ignored for the time being) and soon Morgan Spurlock's 30 days. Really good timeslot, really looking forward to this stuff and have still got Touching the void on my Sky+ hard disk ready to watch soon. As the channel moves on, week by week we'll see if this slot can be refreshed with new stuff. Currently though, this seems to be the only real changeable slot in the day. The rest of the schedule remains the same daily, propping up the 9pm expensive layout show. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing yet. It'll be really interesting to watch. But as someone not that interested in the daily stripped shows, 9pm is the zone to watch.

11pm The Last Word - The first week of shows was really disappointing. The way the production has been put together is intelligent and keeps costs down. It could work! Last week it didn't though. It seemed too bitesize and chunky. Bigger bites please! Mark Dolan was deeply uninspiring but I understand there is a different presenter each week so I'll be tuning in this week. This show has to have the right talent on it! It didn't make me laugh and I took from it no great observations. I feel the host and the editor were to blame here. I shouldn't judge this show on week one alone though, it could get better I suspect. At least it refers to the day's news whereas The Daily Show refers to news from the day before because of the US/UK time difference.

• later there's The Soprganos. I'm not into this but this is good! And the West Wing is awesome.

What I like about More4 is that if you look at its website it gives you a flavour of what it's about by presenting to you its key stars, its key minds, its core approach. So, in the same way that radio stations like 6Music or virgin have their 'core artists' that reflect the sound of the station, More4 have core programme makers and contributors like Nick Broomfield whose Eileen portrait of a serial killer docs were amazing! Not to mention Heidi Fleiss, Kurt and Courtney, the leader the driver and the driver's wife or whatever it was called.

Blimey - and my neighbour upstairs asked me the other day if I have a television. Err, no I just listen to Radio 2 for comfort?

week off

I've got a week off! Yay! Annual leave. Only I have a sneaking suspicion that I should go to work this week due to potential opportunities. Who knows. Gonna keep half of my brain on work, even though. Actually I've been working this morning, mainly due to not being quite with it last week. All done now though.

Gout update: foot not as swollen but still painful. Bad news though: now have gout in my knee too. I've had it in my knee before. Want to know how unhappy I am about that? Kind of fucks up some of my plans for my week off. Or maybe it shouldn't. Thoughts please from those more used to pain, joint swelling yet still intelligently looking after yourself while going out and about. I've watched so much of what I've stored up on my Sky+ hard disk this weekend (approx 12 hours of TV) that I'm going a bit numb.

Sky+ though, while I'm on it, wow! It totally changes how you think of TV. How often do you go to bed at night thinking to yourself: "11 o'clock documentary or snooze" and the snooze wins? Just click a button and the doc is there for you and you don't need to be tied down by schedules, can even 'series link it'.

Dunno about you but at 10pm I'm not always up for an hour long documentary ... it's a big commitment at that hour ... and you shrug it off and find yourself just watching pulp tv most of the time. Get sky+ and you can start avoiding the wallpaper pulp and start really getting into some decent quality tv. It has turned TV into more of an intelligent medium, for me, watching late night docs at 6pm for instance. All hoovered up off the TV ether. Fabulous.

thanks to Sky+ I've seen almost all of BBC4's excellent Lost Decade season. I urge you to do same.

What's this new deal with Sky? If you have Sky and recommend a friend, you get upgraded to Sky+ free? Woah! Get looking for friends who you can convert into a lover of the evil Murdoch regime.

Back to Lost decade though, watched the documentary about British sci fi author John Wyndham on saturday night (actually it was 8am sunday morning, thanks Sky+) and loved it. Bit disappointed that they left out Chocky. I remember the Chocky TV series very well! Actually it was one of the very last things I saw on tv before losing my sight at 13. My mate Warren got it for me on DVD for my birthday last year and weirdly the theme tune made me cry. Made me realise that there are probably several years of therapy bursting to come out of me and hit my credit card.

Chocky good though, great story. The George Orwell documentary also on Saturday night on BBC4 was OK. I learnt quite a bit about Orwell and what inspired him. I had no idea he had fought in the Spanish civil war or spent time as a policeman in Burma. He was obsessed with totalitarianism throughout his life. Really interesting. And of course, famously, Room 101 from 1984 was the number of the room he worked in at BBC Broadcasting House. I always knew this was the case, a bit of work mythology, but I never attempted to find it when I was working in BH a few years ago. I will next time I'm there. Seem to remember that the director General's office was in that vacinity. Actually that can't be the case I thought he was on the top floor. But that's irrelevant because he's based elsewhere now anyway, what with BH being half pulled down and being rebuilt n'all. really interesting architectural project, he said as someone who barely even knows what modern buildings look like now. Gerkins?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Whatever happened to Damon's blog?

I used to post interesting things on this blog. Like this entry when China Week was happening on the BBC. Or this fantastic entry about oranges. Or this entry about underground worlds beneath cities: like secret cinemas below Paris and the history and culture of London's tube system.

And now look what it's turned into ... a place to whinge about pain.

I had started this blog to cure my writers blokc and get creative ideas out of me in an admittedly not perfect but useful way hence the name 'do your worst'. What happened? Sheesh, Damon, pull your socks up (carefully tho, it'll hurt)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Gout - what to do

I've now had really rather severe gout for 15 days. In the first week I went to work and walked on it which I think caused it to remain painful for longer ... and earlier this week it increased the swelling and pain levels to the point I couldn't put my boot on. Really.

So, here I am, over two weeks later, taking drugs, not leaving the house and doing all sorts of other home cures. Tonight though, about an hour ago (4:30am) I decided to do a bit of deep Google searching because I'm about sick of it.

warm or cold -- For the last 5 days I've been spending a lot of my time with a cold compress against the swollen bit, the bit that is radiating heat like as if it were Dungeoness power station. This made sense. It's hot so treat it with cold. Make heat go away with ice (the cold compress, incidentally, has been a bag of Bird's Eye 'Wok' stir fry vegetable that has been in my freezer for ages and just wasn't gonna get used, I tend to eat fresh natural stuff see).

Google tells me I am potentially wrong. It suggests that arthritis (gout full name: Gouty Arthritis) is best helped with warm baths and hot packs against the affected area. This seems counter-intuitive to me. I've been avoiding hot baths this past fortnight.

Bloody painful -- What Google has confirmed is the fact I'm not jus whinging because it seems that gout really is considered to be very very very painful. I can concur. I found some talk about crystal deposits forming a line in the joint and actually pricking into it too ... which could perhaps explain the sharp cutting blade-like feeling I get sometimes. Very unusual pain.

Pleased to see too that others report the pain to be so severe that even if a blanket gently brushes over a gout affected area, it causes pain. Always good to hear similar symptoms from others.

Food to eat or avoid -- Interesting this one. When I was diagnosed with gout last year the doc said "You could avoid anchovies, beer, marmite ... but food avoidance doesn't make that much difference to gout".

This is a crap thing to hear because it makes you feel a bit out of control. I have to say though, I disagree with him. My first big gout attacks 10 years ago and ever since always occurred after christmas. I don't indulge greatly on beer n'stuff at christmas but I do love mince pies, chocolate and cold meats.

Certainly Google tells me that eating lots of meat can cause gout. Anything with high levels of protein creates uric acid when the body metabolises it. Anchovies and sardines have high levels of protein and hence will cause higher levels of uric acid waste in the bloodstream, for instance. Not that I'd flipping touch that muck! But you can see that perhaps after christmas cold hams and turkey, gout could well kick in. Makes sense. My findings this night tell me I should only have one portion of meat a day. So, there ya go, I'm being forced into vegetarianism!

Cherries are good. yoghurt is good (off out to get cherry yoghurt later). I've been drinking cherry juice the last few days anyway ... and have some frozen cherries in the freezer which I really should start eating routinely like medicine!

Large amounts of water is good: "an internal bath for your organs" it seems. OK so I knew that but when you see it written down ... ya know. err ... they say avoid diet sodas and tea too. Up those water levels.

Blueberries, dark berries, strawberries also can help apparently.

Drugs - Colchicine is what my doctor gave me. Due to other drugs I'm on, this is my best bet apparently when it comes to treating the pain of gout.

It causes stomach issues after a couple of days taking it. I was prepared to deal with this and have been ploughing on with the drug for almost a fortnight now. The websites say no to this though. It seems Colchicine can affect your organs so the first sign of stomach issues means STOP TAKING IT!

Paracetamol - I've been taking loads of paracetamol and Codeine-based pain relief. It seems tylanol (which I think is the same as our paracetamol) can make it worse. Hmmm. Only came across that tip once on my googlings so not sure what to think about this nor entirely sure that tylanol (which you get over the counter in the US and looks like paracetamol at any rate) is the same thing exactly. Guess it must be.

Preventitive drugs are something I don't want to get into just yet. I want to see if I can kick this into touch with a food and lifestyle change. I have to say though, I've never considered my diet to be excessively beer or protein rich. So, a downer from the start.

Moving and exercise -- haven't come across much about this. It seems to make sense that if you walk on swollen affected joints then that's a bit daft: "if it hurts, don't do it," that's what the doctors say isn't it? And it certainly bloody hurts!

However, I've not been out of the house in 6 days now. I need fresh air. I am also guessing that if this gout thing is about deposits in the joints an build-up of uric acid in local parts of the body, then maybe moving around, getting joints working, will help to disperse this?

But ... maybe I should start exercising more after this current bout goes away ... not during.

I need some thoughts and help and experience here. I just don't know what to do really.

Should I be lying down with my feet up or have a cold or hot compress while not moving or exercising but with no painkillers yet lots of cherries but no meat? I can't separate out the preventitive from the gout pain relief issues I've currently got.


Friday, October 07, 2005


It's my birthday tomorrow. Feeling rather miserable because I can't go out, can't walk, can't have an unhealthy beer for fear of flare-ups with gout / arthritis thing in feet and now NEW for Friday in my knee too!

So, any ideas for at home birthday celebration appreciated.

Has to be better than birthday 2000 when I was just out of hospital and between hospitalisations and fucked in the head on dodgy prescription drug conflicts. Hey ho.

On the bright side ... I'm losing weight.

More cheery posts later ... just having some lunch at 12:50 despite what the time says on this blog entry. I haven't got around to flicking it into BST and in a few weeks we're back off daylight saving anyway ... oh and no one cares.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Ronnie Barker and TV stuff

Shame to hear about Ronnie's death. Is it sacreligious to say I didn't like The Two Ronnies, though?

Loved Porridge! Still works today as far as I'm concerned. Don't think the beeb or ITV would have the courage to create a sitcom based around one person like that for mid evenings any more.

Hey really looking forward to the new More4 channel from Channel 4 that starts next Monday evening. They have a Blunkett and Quinn drama set to broadcast on night one. I think They're also showing documentary-maker Morgan Spurlock's '30 days' (he was the Supersize Me man - loved that documentary, if you've not seen it yet and fancy you might need a bit of a diet, watch it, it'll put you off sugar at the very least)

Then ITV4 starts in November which could be quite good for an ITV channel ... male oriented, a bit of sci fi, first run American dramas and David Letterman amongst other things. Don't like ITV as a rule but maybe they're reaching out to me? Reaching out? Reaching ou----fade and echo.

Sky 3 starts in a few weeks too ... won't be that interesting. All three of these channels will be available on Freeview as well as satellite and cable though which is fabulous ... means I can watch it in my bedroom.

The significance of spasms

I have disabled mates who talk about their spasms ... but it's perhaps not until recently I've understood the significance of them.

Spasms are, what, a bit of shaking? Moving of the limb? Involuntary muscle movements? Big deal?

Well let me tell you that because my left foot is currently gouted and shagged up to pieces I've done a bit of work from home today then had to go to bed because of pain. Why? SPASMS! Sitting at desk, foot goes a bit cold, blood rushing downwards (I dunno, something like that, I'm not a doctor) and suddenly the already agonisingly painful foot starts doing a bit of that involuntary muscle movement I was talking about.

What can I say? Ten times the agony and there's nothing, repeat nothing, I can do about it. Bed, warmth, drugs, hot drink. That's my method. Don't know what else to do, close to despair today! Any other thoughts on spasming appreciated. Am writing this en route to the kitchen - i.e. the cup of tea parlour.

Having been sensory disabled for 20 years, due to recent issues I'm beginning to appreciate and side with that physically disabled gang a lot more in the last few years due to various reasons.

'Spasm' is not the innocent short comedy word it sounds like!

Monday, October 03, 2005

shit day

What a fucking shit day. A colleague died at the weekend, someone I couldn't possibly do justice to if I were to write about him. He oversaw the first designs for the Ouch website. Such a nice bloke. and he died far too young.

A colleague of mine told me when I got in this morning. The sheer shock led me to just say fuck a lot, I think. And yeah, fuck. Fuck it all. What else? Fuck.

I haven't worked with him much the last couple of years other than saying hi in the corridors ... and he's done the odd bit of photoshop stuff for me when all other sighties on the team were not available.

I was the first blindie website producer at the BBC and my colleague, Martin, was the first designer to work alongside me. He didn't bat an eyelid when I pulled out a rubber mat, a dud biro and a thin sheet of plastic and asked him to draw designs he was trying to explain. He thought it was cool! How else was he gonna get across his visual design ideas? Tactile drawing looks so crap but between us we worked out a system. I'd not used it before either.

As I say, can't do this justice so I'm not gonna attempt it. Very sad mood at work today. If you are in a mind to give a bit of money towards something good, put some pennies in a sickle cell research charity pot tomorrow.