Saturday 16 April 2016

Bendiness and Books

I got my Joint Hypermobility Syndrome diagnosis. It was very anticlimatic: I spent all of last Sunday worrying, then walked in, explained why I was there, demonstrated one wrist's motion in one direction and he said "yep, that's joint hypermobility", then kept repeating it couldn't be cured or treated, merely managed, as I showed off some of my other party tricks for my own satisfaction. He wasn't interested in my other symptoms (so I'm a little worried he hasn't marked the 'syndrome' part on my records, and the extra reading I've done makes me think I might actually need a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome - Hypermobility Type), but did say whilst he's seen hypermobility before, never in so many joints and never to such a degree as my shoulders. I've got to book in with a physiotherapist and a sports masseuse, but both involve talking to a stranger on the phone, and I have enough trouble talking to my family so I've been putting it off. Also, if you have JHS/EDS, I have a friend with EDS who talks about it on her belly dance blog, Scarlet Lotus Dance, which you might like to check out.

The symptom I find most problematic is not actually the pain, but rather the fatigue. I need to learn to say when I can't do things because of the tired, because I suspect if I find a way to cut down I'll have more energy to commit to the things I keep. The problem is, I've already cut down as far as I'm prepared, and everything I have left I love, and Husbit already takes the greater share of housework and lets me sleep in at weekends when I need to, so it isn't going to be easy to do. I think the biggest thing is going to be insisting on earlier finishes for roleplay sessions, which sucks especially when we get really into it, but I know if we play much past 10:30 I'm starting to suffer, and if it gets beyond 11pm I'm barely there anyway.

Anyway, I'm tagging this and future posts about the condition with 'super bendy freak' so feel free to filter that out if you're not interested or find photos of hypermobility (aka double-jointedness) creepy, because I like showing off what I can do! (I don't know how to filter out, but I see people talking about it so I assume it's a thing you can do).

The main thing I actually wanted to talk about was the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch which was highly recommended by a friend with similar taste in reading material. I found the first in a charity shop a few weeks ago and loved it and talked my brother into buying me the second for my birthday (siblings are great!).

I loved the attention to detail - I was surprised when I looked the author up and discovered he wasn't a former cop, there are just so many little things dropped in that feel true. Husbit and I suspect he did a Castle to research sufficiently thoroughly, but there's nothing in the acknowledgements to prove that so maybe his imagination is just that strong.
The attention to detail extends beyond the police aspect of the novel: London is described with such depth and love. I don't know London well - I hate big cities! - but I had a moment in the second book when a park was described and I recognised it immediately as one I'd walked through every day when I was up in London for a training course last year.
The narrator has the clearest voice, of course, but all the characters come across as individuals in a very comfortable way. The narration is never patronising, managing to show you what's happening without feeling stilted. I'm reading for the sheer pleasure, but need to read again and dissect how this is done because it's not something I'm good at yet.
There were times when I was almost shouting at Peter Grant, the main character, for not making connection sooner, but actually it's in keeping with his character and something one of the other characters, Lesley May, pulls him up on it too so it's not frustrating the way I find it in other books - it's not because the author assumes the same sloppiness on the part of the reader, as often feels the case, but because this character really doesn't make the connections.
The river gods are wonderful.
I think my only criticism is the way women are described (gorgeous and fuckable, or in some way monstrous/unwomanly and unfuckable), the way 'people'='men' and a transphobic scene in the second book (a woman makes it clear she's only male by birth, but is still given male pronouns in an unnecessary scene) The thing is, these sorts of thing normally puts me off a story told in any medium, but I still loved these books and recommend them highly. It's especially frustrating, because in other ways, they are so inclusive.

Peter Grant is a cop. He wants to be in one of the exciting units, but suspects he's going to be shunted into paperwork-central. Until a ghost talks to him as witness to a murder and he's recruited into the Met's magical unit, where he gets to learn magic, liaise with gods and generally get into mystically trouble. Lesley May, his friend and fellow cop, is recruited by the department he originally hoped to join, and they work together on the big plot of the first book. The end of the second book gives me a lot of hope for how that will progress...

Magic is not easy to learn. I really like that. Spells are made by combining smaller spells (makes me think of Lords of Gossamer and Shadow); to learn a small spell, you need to be taught the forma by another practitioner (the second book touches on how the founder of the tradition, Sir Isaac Newton, originally identified the forma) and then spend months practicing it. Magic fries processors in technology, like mobile phones. This is fun and interesting: Grant's study of magic and investigations with it are very scientific and I enjoy his curiousity.

Now, to get my hands on the next one...

Saturday 2 April 2016


Sorry to have been so quiet recently - I've been busy! Not with anything exciting, just busy at work so tired at home, and busy with friends visiting, and it was my birthday recently so I've been busy with books, and I got caught up by a tv show called Trapped whose story telling was so strong I couldn't stop watching! I'm not someone who can just watch tv, though - I'm too much of a fidgit - so I dug out my needles and some yarn homespun by a friend and started knitting... and haven't stopped. The needles are my new bamboo needles and are lovely to work with, whilst the yarns are a mix of fibres, but mostly soft wools like merino or blue faced leicester, but also alpaca and sometimes with things like silk or bamboo mixed in: they're an absolute pleasure to knit with.

My current abilities start and stop at scarves, headbands, and other small items that don't require much shape. My favourite stitch is the moss stitch: it's simple enough that it doesn't require my full attention; the rhythm is hypnotic; and it looks really pretty at the end. YouTube is my friend every time it comes to trying something new - the internet is a wonderful resource and I'm grateful to live in this age. I'm developing a bit of a glut of scarves, though a couple of projects I unpicked rather than binding off because I wanted to reuse the yarn for something more exciting in the future and was just knitting for the pleasure of it. I've got some circular needles I want to try out, and I really want to knit a simple shawl, so knitting's on the cards for at least a little while longer.

I've been suffering a great deal of pain recently. A work health assessment made me realise it's not normal to be in constant pain, but the pain I've been in has been worse than the low level I'm used to. A friend with Ehler Danlos Syndrome has been trying for some time to get me to get a diagnosis of the same, but from what I've read I think I actually have generic Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, which is sometimes conflated with EDS and it's not clear if they're the same or not, but if they are then it's the one with the fewest really horrible symptoms. However, I do have nearly all the symptoms of JHS (never suffered a dislocation), and it explains nearly all my health problems (not asthma or depression, but basically everything else) and a few of the nicer things too, like how people never believe I'm as old as I am - and I love being hypermobile. So I have a GP's appointment week after next and I'm hoping they'll diagnose me there and then, but they might need to refer me onwards. Not that a diagnosis will mean much, but I'm one of those people who feels better with a name for things. 

One of the best things is that exercises like yoga, pilates, dance and aerial circus are recommended for JHS as they build core strength (particularly around the joints) and keep you moving and stretching, which is best (and against the intuitive idea that you should keep the joints still: I know from experience that causes me a lot more pain. This is why physiotherapy is often recommended, but you are advised to seek a specialist who understands your body's requirements).

My favourite birthday message came from my friend Troll Chris (of I Love the Corps): "A new level is acquired. Due to all the acrobatics, I suggest another level in Rogue. (Also, Happy Fern-Day.)". I think I'll take his advice, even if my skill points are going into knitting and computer programming.