Thursday, 4 September 2014


I'm speculating pointlessly about this article which reports that a 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a woman found beheaded in an Edmonton garden. The article repeats twice that police are confident that there is no terrorist motive. 

Now, people in London are perhaps more likely to suspect terrorism since this horrifying incident occurred only 16 months ago. So I'm not complaining about the immediate jump to omg terrorism that is helpfully fuelled by the press in situations like this (it's likely that the police wouldn't have said anything about terrorism, had not some journalist asked them if there was a link, forcing a response).

What's bothering me is this denial of "terrorist motives". At its most basic, the idea of terrorism is to inspire terror. A terrorist commits an action against a people (Americans, Jews, 'the West') or an individual who represents a people - intending to instil fear in everyone who is a part of that community. It is usually framed as vengeful, as in the case of Fusilier Drummer Lee Rigby, whose killers said of British soldiers "We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", or as in the 7/7 bombings, whose perpetrator had been exposed to violent footage of "Muslim suffering around the world".

So, yes, obviously those events are terrorism. But - and here's where I start speculating - if the victim and the perpetrator knew each other, it's probably going to turn out that the beheaded woman had angered her murderer in some way - let's say, by refusing to have sex with him. Or by having sex with someone else. Or by not behaving with enough modesty, or with too much self confidence or education or personality. Perhaps they have children together and he has more or less contact or responsibility than he'd like. 

As I say, speculating wildly and perhaps unacceptably. But say that one of these things is true, and this woman has been killed for acting in a manner unacceptable to this man, as have thousands upon thousands of women the world over for time immemorial. 

How is this not terrorism? It is intended to subjugate women, to instil in them fear of behaving in any way other than how men would like them to behave. It is a punishment, and a warning, to women everywhere. 

And yet we reserve the word "terrorism" for brown men who object to the Western world's treatment of Muslims throughout history. 

Funny how actions against women aren't called terrorism, while actions against (white) women and men are.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Thoughts I had while watching Doctor Who: Into the Dalek

yay, vod! ooh, tyres!

ok, maybe i can get behind this one episode ...

 ... oh, ffs, daleks. as you were/


mr pink is hot

aw, and cute :-) 

(clara is of course sultry super-confident vampish type. CHARACTERISATION!)

clara, tell me - am i a good man?

oh, here we go. yet more episodes about how tortured the doctor is/


plotty plotty plot. can daleks be good? sass. betrayal. fall into a pit of liquidated people/


god it's fucking infuriating the way moffat thinks it's funny to have his protagonists insult the looks of beautiful women to show how not-attracted to them they are. (sherlock pulls this shit with molly all the bloody time and i am sick of it)/


oh, clara resorts to physical violence when she's angry with the doctor, because of course she does. LOOK IT'S NOT OK JUST BECAUSE SHE'S A WOMAN, PHYSICAL VIOLENCE IS NOT OK/


so what do we do? something better

god forbid any other characters come up with a workable plan, or even, like, just an idea/


is he mad or is he right? 


ohh great, missy. i'm sure she won't turn out to be river song with different coloured hair/


i think you're probably nice. underneath it all, i think you're kind and definitely brave. i just wish you hadn't been a soldier

what is with this show's weird attitude to soldiering? clara was condescending to mr pink about it, now the doctor is condescending to vod (oh god i didn't even learn her name). we're approaching endgame now, so maybe there'll be some grand point to make. oh, but first, clara's date. this'll be excruciating/


sort of short and roundish but with a good personality which is the main thing

oh god moffat you are a dick/

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Doctor who: Deep breath

I am so over Doctor Who that I can't even be bothered to do a proper review / deconstruction of Saturday's Season 8 premier, but that's not going to stop me ranting about a few things.

Firstly, how is it that even in the very first episode they failed to create a coherent plot? Perhaps I missed a few salient details when I was rolling my eyes, but if the robots were incapable of functioning at all when the humans weren't breathing, how come nobody said "Hey, guys, we're slightly outnumbered here so if it starts to get overwhelming, just hold your breath for a bit to give yourself a break, maybe back away from the pointy arms a touch"? How come Clara thought it was important to keep moving slowly and awkwardly like a robot while she held her breath, given that the robots were only awoken in the first place by hers and the Doctor's breathing? How come they didn't just - I don't know - hold their breath, leg it to the magic sofa-lift, and get out?

And don't even get me started on the 'kiss' between Madame Vastra and Jenny. It makes me sick to think of Moffat patting himself on the back for his peak time lesbian kiss, easily dismissed in case any dinosaurs start complaining, "what? of course not, they had to put their mouths together to share oxygen! it's perfectly acceptable family viewing!" Their constant harping on about being married does not stack up against that little trick, nor against Vastra's about-face on Clara's "judgement" of the Doctor.

To recap: When Clara is expressing concern about the 'new' Doctor, saying that she doesn't know him anymore, Vastra demands her veil, telling the room that she's among "strangers". Clara goes to speak to her, and Vastra tells her (not unreasonably) that Clara is being unfair, and that she should know that the Doctor is the same person, despite his wrinkly old face. Clara is terribly offended, and rants angrily for a while, finishing with "just because my pretty face has turned your head, so not assume that I am so easily distracted!" Instead of shooting this down as the lazily queerphobic bullshit it is, Vastra removes her veil, telling Clara that she hasn't really removed it, but that Clara has finally stopped seeing it. 

This is monumentally insulting. It's predictable that one of Moffat's two queer characters fancies Clara (the only other woman on the show), because Moffat probably can't imagine queer women who have tastes and preferences, and who don't fancy a random woman simply because she's pretty. This, however, is the lesser crime here: worse is that Madame Vastra, who has been written as a straightforward, intelligent and ethical character, apparently has lost perspective because she has a crush. Her removal of her veil is an admittance of her capitulation to Clara's version of events. I was hoping that she would shoot Clara's nasty little jab down, pointing out Clara's arrogance in committing the same logical fallacy that straight men do when they assume that gay men fancy ALL men, purely because they're men, and that would have been a pleasing way of dealing with the situation. But no, of course not, of course the queer woman fancies Clara, because who wouldn't fancy Clara? That's the whole point of Clara. 

I had other things to say, but I'm too mad. I'll just mention this, though: apparently, Peter Capaldi's Doctor refused to have a flirtatious relationship with Clara. I read about this before the series started and was quite hopeful, but from the first episode, it looks like since they can't have the Doctor and the Assistant flirting, they will just make everybody talk about flirting all. the. time. And other people flirt with each other. And ramp up some 'sexual tension' between Clara and Vastra, oh, and throw in another mad vampish dominatrix type to be all obsessed with the doctor. 

As Twelve says, tediously, during the episode, BORING. Come on Moffat, for goodness sake. Learn some new tricks.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Top surgery 3: post-op

I had top surgery on Monday 21st July 2014. This is a record for me, and for anyone who would find an account of the process useful.

Recovery: post-op appointment
(Pre-op and opFirst 10 days)

My post-op appointment was on Thursday 31st July. Andrew Yelland certainly doesn't coddle his patients! He and a nurse (I forget her name, I'm afraid) ripped the dressings away none too gently, and there it was, my new chest, open to the air. 

Honestly, it was a bit of a shock. I'm a planner: I've read accounts of this procedure, and seen endless photosets of Mr Yelland's work (and other surgeons' too), documenting the process from surgery to the faintest of scars, and I thought I was prepared for how my chest would look. I don't think I was, really. The wounds looked just how I expected - a little smaller, if anything - and the nipples were as gooey and swollen and black/green/bloody as I'd seen everyone else's look. Nothing was markedly different from photos I've seen of the procedure, but somehow it was still shocking. I guess the tenderness of my skin played a part - having been completely under wraps for 10 days, I felt very exposed and vulnerable. I've felt that a little just when changing my binder - it's surprising how quickly I got used to being bound up full time. 

Mr Yelland commented that I was unusually swollen at the outer edges of my chest - where I had noticed myself in the couple of days prior to the appointment - and that the big bruise on the left hand side (which was hard to the touch) was also a concern. He told me to keep an eye on it, and asked that I come back to him in a month so he could monitor it. He took photos of my chest, then removed the staples from my nipples and took some more. He put some large plasters over the nipples and told me to take them off when I got home. He also told me that I should leave the binder off for the most part from now on, putting it on only when there's a chance of impact (driving, going on the tube) and leaving the wounds open to the air as much as possible (when lounging about at home).

I was really emotional after the consultation. I had trusted that the swelling was, if not entirely my imagination, then expected - normal - and would naturally reduce as my healing progressed. Andrew Yelland didn't exactly start back in horror at the sight, but he did frown quite a lot, and ask me to come back, and sign me off work (partially) for another month. He was as calm and cheerful as normal, however, so I'm not devastated or despondent - but in the back of my mind there's a worry that wasn't there before the wrappings came off. I guess that won't change until I see him again in four weeks' time.

I'll admit to having a little cry in the bathroom before the journey home, and another one when I got home and took the binder and nipple dressings off. It was partly pain and sensation, and partly emotion - relief at being out of the dressings, distress at the state of my chest, and a certain sense of anticlimax. I guess that, despite knowing better, I had built up the post-op appointment in my mind until it was much bigger/further along than it was: as silly as it sounds, I think I expected to be better. I knew that this surgery with this surgeon gives you an automatic fit note for two weeks, and I think I had believed that since ten days was nearly two weeks, I'd be basically back on my feet by then. 

I wasn't. I'm not now. I'm moving even more gingerly than I was before, and the first evening at home after being unwrapped (I got home at 8pm), the feeling of a loose t-shirt on my bare chest was so overwhelming it made me feel sick. I was on the verge of tears the whole time, and could hardly eat. I couldn't really talk to my family - I felt guilty about feeling bad, about my weakness, about my expectation that I would be better by now. It seems, in hindsight, foolishly unrealistic. I've rallied now, and am settling in for the long haul, and am trying to involve my partner and family again, having rather shut them out in my distress after the appointment. But I think it will be a longer journey than I realised.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Top surgery 2: recovery

I had top surgery on Monday 21st July 2014. This is a record for me, and for anyone who would find an account of the process useful.

Recovery: first 10 days
(Pre-op and op)

I'm still alternating two binders; each morning I take the binder off, use baby wipes to freshen up, check that my dressings still look ok, and stretch out my shoulders a little. I take a few deep breaths (which I can't properly whilst wearing the binder) then line the fresh binder with absorbent lint and brace myself against the wall so my partner can wrap the binder round me as tightly as possible. 

I could do it myself, but when the nurse fitted the binder in hospital, she showed me both options - fastening in front, and fastening behind - and I found the latter vastly more comfortable. I'm sure I could fasten it myself behind my back, if I really tried, but I have a lovely partner who will do it for me, and there's no reason to risk stretching everything out and potentially slowing / harming the healing process if I don't have to. 

Donning the binder is about finding the right balance between being able to breathe and making sure everything is strapped down nice and tight, to prevent fluid build-up and make moving around during the day easier. It might sound counterintuitive, but the tighter the binder, the more comfortable I am (in terms of the wound sites themselves). The binder restricts movement, so the movements I do make are smaller and less painful. I wear my binder as tight as I can bear. Sometimes at night I will loosen it a touch, for comfort. 

My pain is almost always bearable. It's worst first thing in the morning and then from late afternoon onwards. I take 2 500mg paracetamol and 1 30mg codeine every 4 hours (ish). I usually take the first set at 9am, and the last at 9pm, and during the day I skip a codeine or two (the middle doses) so I can take one before I go to sleep and again if I need to during the night. Maximum codeine is 8 in 24 hours, so I've still got some to spare if I get desperate. I lowered my pain relief on the 3rd day, since I felt so well, and almost immediately regretted it, so now I'm back to the full dosage and will continue until it runs out. It's said that you should not 'grin and bear' pain during recovery from surgery, as that will probably make you more tense and slow the healing process. I knew that, but I still thought I knew better and started taking less pain relief too early. Don't do that!

Oh, I'm also taking arnica (2 'pillules' 3 times a day). My paperwork instructed that I do this 7 days before and after surgery. I'm still on the fence about it: I don't believe in homeopathic remedies, but this is prescribed by the hospital, so I guess I do believe in it enough to follow the instructions? If it's a placebo, well, the whole point of placebos is that they do in fact make a difference, and it can't hurt. 

I struggled to pee for a while after surgery - the nurse said it was due to a combination of the general anaesthetic and me being tense - but was going normally by the 2nd day. I'm still quite constipated, though, which is apparently a standard side effect of codeine.

As far as exercise goes, I have been diligently doing the physiotherapy that I was given at the Nuffield. The first time I did it (with the physiotherapist) it was difficult and painful, but the next time (2 days post-op) it was easier, and my range of movement was better, and it's been slowly improving ever since. Now I do it without thinking and it makes me feel really healthy. I guess I do it 6-10 times a day.

On the other hand, today I walked to the village (exactly half a mile) and back, and had to rest for the rest of the day. You don't realise how little you're doing until you try to do something! My advice would be, in trying to get a little exercise, take it very slowly and be prepared to stop a lot sooner than you think you should.

I have been sleeping upright. I'm not sure if this is recommended, but when I sleep flat, I am blissfully pain-free when I wake up, and then sitting up is agonising as the blood rushes back to my chest (this is my totally non-medical guess at what is going on). So I am choosing to sleep propped up, which is less comfortable overnight, but also less traumatic in the morning, and doesn't leave me desperate for my first dose of pain relief. I also try to stay mostly upright during the day (this involves sofas, armchairs and sunloungers). 

My appetite fluctuates a lot. On days 3 and 4 I barely wanted anything to eat, and sometimes I'm ravenous until I try to eat and then can't manage much. Most of the time my appetite is smaller than normal, but I drink as much water as I can (I'm terrible at drinking as much as I should) and eat lots of fruit and vegetables (which is basically my normal diet). Also, ice lollies, as it's been abysmally hot this week.

On day 8 I started to get some localised pain beneath my armpits, where the ends of the wounds are. I also noticed I was swollen above the top edge of my binder, at my armpits. The whole area was achey and tender. When this continued into day 9 I called Ginny (Andrew Yelland's secretary) to find out if I had anything to worry about. She asked me if I had noticed any visible changes through the dressings (I hadn't) and told me to loosen the binder, suggesting that as my swelling had gone down over time, I had probably been binding tighter and tighter and might have gone a bit too far. 

On day 9, incidentally, I met some friends at a local pub for dinner, and although I didn't feel up to walking there or back, I was pretty pain-free the entire time (although quite tired by the end). I feel like I'm getting there.

Coming up on day 10: post-op appointment with Mr Yelland.