Monday, June 28, 2010

Cooling down and hot air

It is nearly half-eleven and finally cooling down a bit. At least sometimes it is cooling down at night this summer. Last summer it didn't really get below 19 degrees or so I think. Actually, I don't think it's much cooler than that now but there is a bit of a breeze which makes it feel fresher.

I ate some salad for dinner with a small amount of cheese, some chutney and two slices of bread. It was after nine before I felt able to get up and do anything. I got home just before eight but the sun was blazing in. The thermometer I have was showing just over 40 degrees outside (I remembered to close all the windows before going to work this morning so it was 'only' 28 degrees inside).

I had to go for a massage and hot air treatment this morning. My right shoulder was a bit stiff one morning a couple of months ago and it never really went away. Didn't notice it most of the time although it has been a bit weak and hurting if I put weight on it. Last week however, I hit my hand against a whiteboard while walking past it and the reverberations up my arm really set off a horrible pain in my shoulder. As I needed to go back to the orthopadic doctor anyway (to give him the results from the neurologist that I should have given him nearly a year ago - at least it was a wait and see diagnosis so I wasn't doing myself any harm through this particular piece of procrastination) I phoned to make an appointment. They were able to give me a cancellation the following morning which was fantastic as there is often a two or three week wait for this doctor, especially if, like me, you are trying to get early morning or late afternoon appointments to cut down on the amount of time you have to miss work.

Anyway, he poked and prodded me a bit and then gave me a few injections (five I think but it might have only been four). They really, really hurt. To the point where I wasn't even able to think of asking him exactly what he had given me. I assume it was an anti-inflammatory of some kind. It was only later I realised that as I had started my period the day before of course I was going to feel the pain more acutely. Should try and remember that next time someone wants to give me an injection at that time of the month! I have a lovely bruise around one of the injection sites now. It made getting the massage that little bit weird as in order to get some relief into the muscle, the therapist had to press on that bruise quite a lot. Which hurt.

After about twenty minutes of intense massage (there is one knot in there that he found which I am pretty sure is the cause of all this - it hasn't fully released yet but maybe next time) I was given my twenty minutes of hot air treatment. That's a literal translation and I had been curious as to what it would involve. But it was just an infra-red lamp. It was hot though. Not too warm on my skin but since it was already more than 20 degrees at that stage, I was getting pretty hot by the time it was finished. It was a weird practice though. I went there because the orthopaedic doctor recommended them. They have a very professional looking website and make much of the fact that they speak six languages. English didn't seem to be one of them though. I had a Russian who barely said two words to me and obviously didn't seem to understand that I might come from a different culture. I have had enough massages in different places to know that the way things are done in Ireland is often not the way they are done elsewhere. And when it's for a sports/injury type massage that can be different as well. So I didn't really appreciate the strange look when I asked him if I should lie down or sit and whether I needed to undress or not. In fact, it unsettled me to the point (although it was only later I figured out that that was what had annoyed me) that even after he told me to strip on top, I forgot to take my bra off. Actually, I am partially blaming that on having an early morning appointment as I was still a bit sleepy but yes, a little bit of cultural understanding would have helped. In Ireland you would strip for a massage as well but be given a towel or something to drape over yourself, not to mention some privacy to undress. He did leave the room/cubicle all right but left the door open. I'm assuming he just doesn't/didn't want to speak much German because once he left me with the lamp on (told me it would switch off after twenty minutes and then I could just go) he went into the room/cubicle beside me with another patient and was quite happily yapping away in Russian. Too fast for me to understand much but it was nice to at least be able to pick up a word or two here and there.

I have to go for six sessions altogether so I have another on Friday, two next week and then the final two two weeks later as I will be going home for a week on 9th July. And all for the not-so-princely sum of 18 euro. I do hate sometimes seeing how much money comes out of my salary each month for healthcare but it is worth it when you realise that when something is wrong, it gets fixed. At least, my mind is telling me I'm getting fixed. My back and shoulders currently just feel like I've had a major workout and they are not used to it at all!

If I hadn't had a prescription for this treatment they told me that the twenty minute massage session would cost 25 euro. That's really not a bad price at all and I think I might try and budget one session every couple of months going forward. Although whether I would do so at this particular centre remains to be seen. I'll wait and see if I get the same guy each time and whether the attitude remains the same or not.

Here's a couple of quick photos though.

First, my new cooker. Yes, I finally have a proper cooker although as it was turning out to be very complicated to contemplate a gas one, I settled for electric in the end.

And now my new copper pot, which I got while in France and used for the first time yesterday to make my first jam of 2010. I had heard that if you use a proper copper pot, you don't need to use special jam sugar and that ordinary sugar is enough and the jam will still set so I was very keen to give it a go. Copper pots are ridiculously expensive though (you can expect to pay hundreds for good ones) so when I saw this one for 40 euro in the supermarket it seemed to good to be true. It is quite flimsy so it's not the kind of pot that will be handed down for generations but so far I'm happy with it. I made strawberry jam using the recipe in the River Cottage Preserves book but rather than 450g granulated sugar and 500g jam sugar, I just used all raw cane sugar. It also calls for 150ml lemon juice but I only had two lemons, which yielded just about 100ml. I added the juice of a lime as well which got me up to nearly 130ml. It'll have to do. I didn't think to dig out the thermometer to check the temperature when I realised that it didn't seem to be setting very well and had just resigned myself to having more runny jam to use up by making more jam tarts. However, this morning, once the jars had cooled down, they seem to have also set quite well. So jam-making for 2010 is officially underway.

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