Six months in a leaky boat (called Work Cover)

It has been a little while since my last (rather melancholic) update so I figured it's time to update the world on progress so far. First of all, progress is still happenning, albeit a little slower than before. My shoulder continues to heal and I am gaining a little more mobility in stages. Seems "something" goes right, things get better, then nothing for a week or two. Apparently this is normal. Go figure.

Pain is still a regular feature in my consciousness, and it has been getting a little worse lately. This in turn prompted a bit of an investigation with the good old MRI. A wonderful gizmo and marvel of modern technology. Unfortunately also a noisy damn thing and having to lie still in a rather uncomfortable position for quite some time meant it wasn't a particularly pleasurable experience. Still, the images were obtained, a radiologist reviewed them and sure enough, there are reasons my shoulder hurts as much as it does. Capsulitis, some evidence of torn bits, adhesions and generally a lot of oedema and inflammation. Yay.

Thankfully I have a great medical team around me who are responding to the news and I can look forward to some cortisone injections guided by CT. This doesn't excite me particularly, but if it settles the nastiness causing the pain, then I welcome it!

So the world sounds peachy right? Wrong. In the background to all this is Work Cover. A horribly broken bureaucracy which incentivises the people running the system to focus on punting people (patients) out as soon as possible, by any means, regardless of their medical status. Don't like what a specialist said? No worries, in Work Cover, they can just ignore that. Changed diagnosis/prognosis? Go ahead, ignore that too. Want to make up your own "recovery schedules" in spite of all medical evidence and best practise to the contrary? Knock yourself out. If the patient or their medical team call Work Cover out on their bull shit, then they just send you off to see one of their doctors who, despite all evidence to support continued treatment will probably accuse you of "faking it" and throw you out anyway.

My medical team have been fighting to get Work Cover (actually, the insurer) to see reason but alas, it fell on deaf ears. Today, barely 6 months into a rehabillitation regime that generally takes at least twice that long, I was sent off to see one of their doctors for an (anything but independant) independant review. I don't know what the outcome will be, but this doctor was rude, arrogant, obstinant, refused to look at any specialist reports and spent most of his time criticising the treament I have been receiving. This despite the fact I'm getting better and my doctors and therapists are regularly impressed with the progress I'm making. But this guy is paid by the insurance company, so of course he wont want to hear anything that doesn't support their desire to kick me off their books.

Despite the fact I am working, and Work Cover seem to think that means I'm fixed, I do so in a state of constant pain which is being managed with some powerful pain killers. I still cannot drive, fly or travel long distances, I can't lift anything significant, I can't do many things that used to bring me pleasure (scuba diving, cycling, playing my violins, etc, etc) but apparently, according to Work Cover, this is all an act or maybe I'm "faking it" because hey, I'm working right?!

To all those miscreants who abused and rorted the Work Cover system, which led to it being in the sorry state it now is, thanks for nothing. Those of us who are genuinely injured through honest accidents in the workplace are now treated like common criminals by the insurers and have to struggle to be granted even the most basic level of care and rehabillitation.

Getting tired of this

So, it's officially 122 days since I shattered my shoulder. 122 days, 10 hours and 28 minutes. Not that I'm counting...no siree. I'm writing this blog post for as much my own benefit as for informing friends and family of what progress is happening, so I apologise in advance if this rambles a little in places; I need to get some stuff out of my head. The good news is, my surgeon hasn't put scalpel to skin (yet) and is extremely pleased with my progress to date. I have a reasonably functional amount of movement in my shoulder with strength returning incrementally as I work through exercises with my physiotherapist. Speaking of physiotherapists, she is also really happy how healing has progressed and reassures me, on nearly every visit (twice a week!), I am a lot better off this early in my recovery than most people who have shattered their shoulders. My family doctor, who is managing my recovery, is also impressed with progress so far; and he used to be an orthopaedic surgeon too.

Ok, I get it. I'm doing "great" according to the experts, and I should be punching the air and pointing at my reflection saying "You're the man!". Reality is I'm increasingly impatient and wanting this whole "recovery" piece to be a closed chapter in my life, allowing me to move on. The problem is, I have just enough mobility and strength in my shoulder to forget how badly screwed up it is. Then I'll reach for something, pick up something (like a cup of coffee) or move a little differently and I'm almost completely overcome with shooting pain from my shoulder down my right arm. If I'm really unlucky, I'll need to sit down and catch my breath; it's that painful. It's that pain that is preventing me from confidently getting back to things I enjoy, like SCUBA diving, cycling and hitting the gym, you know, simple stuff an average person might do outside the office.

I went snorkelling with the family today and it was awesome! I loved being back in the water and floating around, sharing my underwater world with my wife and children. It was great! Then a group of SCUBA divers showed up. They were obviously students and making a bit of a mess of things if I'm honest. Despite being in the ocean, they looked like a few more pool sessions were needed! The odd part for me was that where before I would feel excitement for these "noobs" and know they are starting a wonderful adventure that can keep them engaged and excited for life, instead I was angry. The thought ran through my head "If they can't even do it properly they shouldn't be there, I should be the one diving". Ouch. I quickly gave myself a kick in the metaphoric nads and strong rebuttal, but it commenced a thought pattern I need to get out of my head. I'm sitting here wondering if I really did (do) enjoy diving as much as I think I did (do). Now, there's something only a seriously dessicated diver can ponder.

So here's the bit I'm tired of: I'm tired of not being able to do the things that make life exciting. I'm tired of not being able to push my limits in the water and on land (sorry, physio doesn't count...they keep telling me to stop over doing it!). I need something to get my blood pumping! I need something that stretches me mentally, physically and emotionally. For me, SCUBA diving scratches that itch, and right now I feel like I'm covered in itching powder and wrapped in a straight jacket :(

Geotagging photos...without breaking the bank

Cameras with built in GPS receivers are becoming more and more popular, and common. This is a great feature an allows you to review exactly where you took that holiday photo (which beach in the Australia was that anyway?!). Many photo management tools, both online and local, such as Flikr and iPhoto will happily show you a map of your photo exploits and allow others the share your travels too. Unfortunately many (most) cameras don't have native GPS receivers, but there's a cheap and easy way to achieve the same end result with some simple software and a mobile phone. I make an apology at this point; the rest of this post focusses on two tools for the Apple eco-system. There are equivalents for Windows and Android too - the workflow is the same, just the tools are different.

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Steady as we go

Not a lot to report but I figured I should provide some sort of update. My shoulder continues to heal, albeit slowly. Physiotherapy is proving to be a great benefit but is a gradual process and I am not particularly well known for my patience in these things. I just want to get better and back to the things I normally do. Nothing more to report on this really, when there's news I'll provide a more detailed update.

Whilst laid up I have been busy reading the course material and associated reference books for my dive instructor's course. I'm really enjoying immersing myself in the theory and having the luxury of time to research beyond the supplied materials. There is so much information available on the Internet! I will get my instructor rating, as soon as I can safely slip into a wetsuit and shoulder a full set of gear.

Recently my Grandmother passed away. She was 90 years old. It wasn't entirely unexpected; her age and health meant it was merely a matter of time. Her life was long and full of successes on many fronts. I'm immensely proud of her and the legacy left in her wake. I miss her but was privileged to be able to read a eulogy on behalf of all the grandchildren. It was quite cathartic to reminisce, taking a stroll through the memories and experiences we all shared with her as her grandchildren.

Really, I'm clutching at straws now - my life has been a bit like "Ground Hog Day", without the toaster in the bath tub obviously. Lots of the same, and now I'm getting itchy to start something new and get out of the house a bit. When that happens, I'll definitely have to write something up.

Gmail automatic message purge

I've been running an AppleScript to automatically purge messages in specific IMAP folders (aka "labels") for quite some time. This approach works most of the time, but really puts a heck of a load on the Apple Mail client and makes the interface effectively unusable while the script goes through the motions. This wasn't a problem when the script finished in a few seconds. However, it now takes several minutes; not good. Also, the AppleScript assumes a blanket expiry age for all IMAP folders. Want one folder with a different expiry? Too bad. So with the interface problems and lack of flexibility, I decided to smash something out this morning using Google Apps Scripting.

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Father's Day

Today is Father's Day in Australia. I thought it might be an opportune time to commit to text some thoughts about fatherhood that have been percolating in the back of my mind for a while. Thoughts that have spurred me to action to ensure I can be the father my daughters deserve.

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Passwords may be a necessary evil...

I have banged on for quite a while now that reusing passwords is a bad idea, using dictionary words for passwords is a bad idea, using personally identifiable information as a password is a bad idea...you get the picture. I hear the refrain from users regularly "but remembering passwords, especially good ones, is hard!" and I agree with you! Here's my secret though; I don't remember my passwords at all. My Facebook password? No idea. Twitter account? Pfft, wouldn't have a clue. Flickr account? Couldn't tell you. They are all randomly generated strings of letters, numbers, and symbols exceeding 20 characters. Who the heck can remember that?! Better still, how the heck do you crack or guess it either?! And that is the entire point :) Using a password strength checker like "How Secure Is My Password" reveals my Facebook password would take "a desktop PC about 14 duodecillion years to crack your password"...however long that that is, but pretty sure it exceeds the heat death of the universe!

So how do I do it? I make the computer do the work for me. In my case, I use a program called "1Password" which is great for me. The idea is, you remember a single, good password to unlock all the other passwords. So whilst I don't know what most of my passwords are, I remember the one password that my computer uses to securely store my passwords. This is a great concept and provided that one "master" password is secure (mine is an entire sentence with extra "bits") your passwords are safe.

The down side is, 1Password isn't free and buying it can be a stumbling block for some users. However, I've come across a great tool called Dashlane Password Manager. Not only is it FREE but it has nearly complete feature parity with 1Password! The more advanced features, like cloud backups etc, are a paid option but for home users, this shouldn't be a huge problem.

So now there's no excuse to be using those crappy passwords on every site you visit! GO GET Dashlane Password Manager!!

New Beginnings

Most people who know me, know I have spent the last 3 years working hard in various projects for my employer. This has been a wonderful experience where I learnt a lot, made heaps of new friends and achieved some great things. I spent time working in the USA, and got to explore some great landmarks on both the east and west coasts! It has been a good ride.

However, as they say, all good things must come to an end and for me, the good times dried up over a year ago. I have persisted in trying to rekindle that spark, but the reality became my work/life balance was more a "work=life" equation. I was spending progressively less time with my wonderful family, and even less time with my friends or indulging in activities I value and derive a lot of pleasure from, such as SCUBA diving. So I made a tough decision and resigned.

My original plan was to use the time between work commitments to fulfil a long-term goal (some might say "dream") to become a SCUBA instructor. The course was booked, arrangements made, travel planned and paid for. We were going to Port Vila, Vanuatu! Note all this is past tense. Less than one week from signing off at my last job I had an accident and badly broke my shoulder. All plans cancelled.

So now there is this void between what I had planned, and the reality of the current situation. I can't even tie my own shoelaces or drive a car at the moment, let alone engage in anything as onerous as diving. Consequently I have entered a bit of a holding pattern whilst I wait for my body to heal. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do with all this free time, but overhauling my personal website has been on my to-do list for a while. Mind you, typing with one hand for short periods has meant it has taken the better part of 2 weeks to do what should've been possible in a few hours!

The next chapter in my life has been hidden behind a veil of injury at the moment and I eagerly look forward to seeing what, and more interestingly, how that chapter unfolds!

Welcome to the new site!

Anyone who has been to this site in the last year or so would've noticed it's a bit stale. Ok, it's a LOT stale. One of the problems I've had is the time it took to make changes to the site was more than I had available and offline editing was a pain. Instead of going with an all-singing, all-dancing website with all sorts of features that no-one except myself really cared about, I've made it very simple. We have articles, news, blogs, some photos....and that's about it.

Given the online world we all live in is largely centred around "cloud" services, such as Facebook, Flickr and the like, I've simply made this site fill a gap in my own use case and scratch an itch. That's all. Hopefully this will allow me to update more regularly.

If you would like to see the old site, it's been put out to pasture over here.

In the meantime, here's a panorama from a recent trip to Honiara :)

My Brush with Decompression Sickness

An event that any SCUBA diver tries their best to avoid. A condition every diver trains to prevent, practises skills to avoid and plans their dives to render the risks of it happening almost nil. Nonetheless, it happened to me; a fully qualified, experienced, Rescue Diver. This is my account of DCS and I hope it serves as a warning and an opportunity to learn for other divers.

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