Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Amputation notes

Well cometh the hour, cometh the man as they say, whenever 'they' are feeling particularly pompous. My last day at work came and went with no dramas except a power cut that activated the evacuation alarm and brought the fire service to the party which translates into more paperwork for me.

I've been cobbling together my various notes over the past week or so and now that I'm finally up to date with everything I thought that a few pages on amputation might be of use to some of the budding Sweeny Todds out there in the big wide world that is LondonTown.

The joke, of course, being that Sweeny Todd isn't ever going to stitch anyone up since it all goes into Mrs Lovetts pies
Since this affects two of my main characters, Evelyn is missing a hand and is the one to chop off the leg of  Straggletaggle the dog as it is too far gone for her to save it, I wanted to get the procedure right which led to more research (yay) of various web sites and, much to the concern of the local librarians, several medical journals of varying reputation and quality.



  1. Make an incision in the skin and peel back.
  2. Scalpel to cut through muscles and tendons, further up the leg.
  3. Peel back the flesh then capital bone saw which severs that leg
  4. tenaculum grabs hold of artieres and blood vessels. Silk thread or horse hair used to tie them off.
  5. Smooth out the end of the bone with clippers and a file, gnawing forceps
  6. Left with a flap of muscle and skin that hangs down below the bone. These are sewn together to make a cushion that forms the stump.
  1. After amputation of a foot or leg, the body weight of an amputee shifts to the other leg. The resulting wear and tear often leads to problems in the other foot or leg, and in a few years similar problems may develop, necessitating another amputation. If this degenerative process continues, the results may be fatal.
  2. After an amputation, the muscles in and around the residual limb shorten. This pulls your joint into a bent position. If it is left like this for long periods of time, it will become difficult to straighten, or even become permanently stuck. Hence daily exercise is a necessity
  1. Losing a limb has also a negative psychological impact. It leaves amputees feeling depressed, angry, or alone. They feel that they're no longer whole persons; or fear that others stare at them, or avoid them.
  2. Loss of limb can be compared to losing a spouse or a child. The first time you see your body after the surgery will be very disturbing. You may be shocked to look down and see that a part of your body is missing. The trauma is deep and multi-layered. So it is not easy to adjust to the loss.
  1. You will have very strong pain after your amputation surgery because the surgeon has cut through skin, muscles, nerves and bone. Your limb will be swollen. Swelling can cause pain and limit movement.
  2. Recovery is never a fast process. Each step is difficult: sitting up in bed, then sitting in a wheelchair, standing, then using crutches.
  3. Types of pains:Besides stress, tension, and anxiety, amputees experience pains due to the loss of limb. Here are the most common types of pain:
    1. Immediate post-op limb pain:where skin, nerves, bones, and muscle have been cut; it is exeperienced by everyone after an amputation.
    2. Residual limb pain:Located in the natural limb (stump) after the amputation and may be present long after the surgery as the residual limb is usually more sensitive than other parts of the body. Unfortunately, there is no one method or treatment guaranteed to reduce or eliminate residual limb pain. Sometimes more surgery is necessary. Sometimes nothing will help.
    3. Phantom sensation or feeling: I the amputated "phantom" limb which has been removed, such as itching, tingling, warmth, cold, pain, cramping, constriction, movement and any other imaginable sensation; it is experienced by almost all amputees.

      The brain is “remembering” the missing part of the limb, and is still “reporting” its feelings.
    4. Phantom painIin the missing or amputated part of the limb; it varies from person to person - a little annoying, very unpleasant, severe, or disabling; it is different from pain in the residual limb and experienced by about 60–80 percent of amputees.

      Unfortunately, there is not one single guaranteed treatment to reduce or eliminate phantom pain. In most cases, it disappears within months, though most amputees (as many as 40 percent of them) may still experience phantom pain from time to time.
  1. Management of post-amputation pain is a major problem and usually requires professional help; however, our understanding of the way at the brain handles pain and other sensations is still fairly crude.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Kalagrim Handwriting Class

As I promised [1]  in the previous post it's handwriting class today.
The idea of writing that spirals is one that has been part of the storyworld from the early drafts but except for noting it in a few places nobody mentioned it much.

After all why would they? Everyone in Kalagrim knows that writing spirals outwards and it's likely that they would think our own habit of writing in straight rows to be very cumbersome.
To be totally honest I'm still uncertain about what role the kind of handwriting will play but needs must as the muse drives and this is why I sometimes get notes of epic battles and at other times you get handwriting notes. [2]

Keen eyed readers will already have noted that the symbols, when used in the proper order, form a rather loose representation of the holy crocodile [3]
The big reason for this is that the church, in curious parallel with our own world, has long taken the dual posts of educators and priests.  
Also the vast amount of books written for and by members of the church means that the symbols shown have filtered down to the common folk outside the organisation.

Much like the treble cleff in our music this symbol, known as the tail, is used to denote the start of a piece or written work. 

As the writing of Kalagrim sprials outwards this symbol is often illuminated in some way that is pleasing to the eye although this is by no means a hard and fast rule. It is essentially there to take up space until there is enough room in the spiral to include the script.
This symbol is known as the fin and it's purpose is to indicate a change in subject or to highlight a particular point of interest to the reader.  The bars in the middle of the symbol are, in these modern days, used as bullet points but have their origin in the uprising as part of a secret code which is now sadly lost to the mists of time [4]
that was used to indicate a concealed message in the missive.

A curious device here it is known as the mouth and it signals the end of the conversation. However if the recipient has a reply then the new section will start with a mouth and ending with the tail. Thus giving the impression that the two are speaking to each other. The new reciever repeats the process, which adds a third crocodile to the conversation.
Our final symbol is the closed mouth of the crocodile. It's presence signifies that the conversation is over and no further discussion shall be entered into about whatever subjects have been raised in the series of letters.  Variations of this symbol have shown it being depicted with fangs, teeth, tears and dripping blood although these methods of decoration are generally the province of the very young but are occasionally used by older writers in order to indicate the current mood.

It is also worth noting that, in the many books that are written and available in Kalagrim it is very common to find this symbol at the end of a chapter.

We see here an example of Kalagrim script being used in a pair of wartime letters.  Although it is written in English the actual script more closely follows the hieroglyphics of Egypt.[5]

  1. or, rather more accurately, threatened
  2. With any luck I'll strike loony theory next time. It's a bit of a crapshoot really
  3. A divine beast that is slated to undergo drastic changes.  I'm leaning in the direction of the Sarcosuchus or similar prehistoric beastie.
  4. Also because the secret code is not going to come up in the book no matter how much the muse begs.  It's bad enough that I'm making notes about writing!
  5. and I don't have any Hieroglyphic fonts handy.  For those of you who are interested the font that I used is called 1610 Cancellaresca

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Harts Change - Some scribbly bits

One of the things I've always liked about working long hours is that, some nights, you get pretty much the whole shift to yourself.
This gives me time to sit down and scribble bits and pieces out, sometimes they lead to something and other times they don't.
So here's a few first drafts of things that possibly may or may not have happened at some time in Harts Change.

A Note regarding the text:
If it be writ in blue,
notes from me to me (and you)
But text in purple be,
something something explanatory

You might well wonder,
wither he goes.
and why the words are now bad prose.

You don't know and nor do I,
this might just be a waste of time.

(I have never claimed to be a poet.
So read on dear reader and have some, Mo√ęt)