Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Living your life with one arm: a beginner's guide

I am not the first person to fall off my bike and fracture my shoulder and I certainly won't be the last. To help all of those folk out there who live life one-handed I have developed a very non-scientific rating scale for the activities one might encounter in daily life as a guide to aid decision-making:

1: Very easy (makes you question why we even have two arms)
2: Fairly easy (can be accomplished without much trouble)
3: Moderately difficult (can be undertaken but better to get some help)
4: Very difficult (do not attempt unaided)
5: Impossible (don't even bother)

So for example I would give a rating of 1 to something like putting something in the bin or pressing a light switch, 2 to making a glass of squash or typing on a keyboard, 3 to making a cup of tea or food shopping, 4 to baking a batch of brownies or cleaning the floor and 5 to rock-climbing or playing the saxaphone.

This is meant to be a guide not gospel and it will very much depend on how you're feeling that day. For instance I would probably rate "making spanikopita" as a 4 (fiddly filo pastry, messy feta cheese, all that washing up...) but I really fancied it this evening for my dinner and made some without falling down dead. Also the examples may be slightly skewed toward female activities, as that is what I am!

Reading a book: 1 (although more difficult if you try to combine reading with another activity, like eating)

Packing a suitcase: 2 (but give yourself plenty of time)

Taking a shower: 2 (make sure to go slowly and carefully so you don't slip)

Washing your face: 3 (the flannel is your friend)

Putting on a bra: 3 (was originally a 4 but then I discovered that if you turn the bra round backwards and attach it round your waist you can slide it round to your front, hook the straps round your arms (bad one first) and shimmy it up til it's in place! Note: for all clothing matters there is generally a fair amount of shimmying involved)

Washing dishes: 3-4 (uncomfortable and pretty ineffective)

Putting on a t-shirt: 5 (go for buttons or vest tops)

Contact lenses: 5 (glasses are the way forward)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

My one-armed life

The following blog post doesn't really have much to do with libraries or information of anything of that ilk but last Thursday on my way to work I fell off my bike after a rather stupid-looking black Alsatian ran into me. Fortunately it happened in the park right behind Lewisham Hospital so I made my way over to A&E and was seen and tended to by the lovely staff there very efficiently. The upshot of the whole affair is that I have fractured my humerus, of which the only humorous - ha, ha! - thing is that I can say I now literally have a chip on my shoulder, and am reduced to living my life with one arm.

The timing isn't great - I am maid of honour at my sister's wedding in two weeks time and while the colours of the occasion are yellow and purple, I'm not sure the horrendous bruising on my inside upper arm are really what people want to see! But it could have been a lot worse - it's my left, not my right arm that is out of action, I fell just outside a hospital and I have incredible family, friends and work colleagues who have rallied around and given me so much love and support I am overwhelmed with gratitude! It has also been interesting seeing the NHS from the other side and I am so impressed by the care I was given at Lewisham Hospital. All the staff I encountered were friendly, efficient, professional, and up on the latest evidence. The nurse practitioner who wrote out my pain meds prescription came back a few minutes after giving me the scrip and changed it based on new research she had heard about from consulting with a colleague.

I am back there tomorrow morning for an apppointment at the fracture clinic so am hoping all shall be well. At some point I am going to write a post on living life with one arm and rate various activities one takes for granted on a sliding scale from relatively easy to impossible. Which shall hopefully be quite amusing but also remind me how lucky I am. After all, some people live their whole lives missing a vital limb and this will be my tribute to them!

A new library website

Tomorrow (18 May 2011) sees the launch of a shiny new website for SLHT Library & Knowledge Services. The library manager at PRU and myself have been hard at work over the last few weeks and months getting all the pages ship-shape to launch for Knowledge Awareness Week 2011. We have been fortunate in that we only had to adapt an already-existing website but has still been quite a challenge deciding what to keep, what to get rid of, how the whole thing should be organised and how to make it visually appealing!

The website is run on the open source content management program Joomla! , which I had no experience of previously but I found it pretty easy to use. We decided quite early on that we didn't want just text and had the idea of using blue textboxes of varying hues for people navigate round the site. One of the trickiest parts was trying to get these boxes all the same width and height as they are all dependent on each other.

We also had to agree on the language used across the site and ensure everything was consistent across all the pages, like what pages should open in a new window and having hover-text over links. It's always the small things that take the longest!

However the last documents were uploaded today and linked in so it looks as though we have ourselves a website! I am pleased with it and really glad to have something decent to present to our users that they can use on and off-site. Now we just have to make sure everyone knows about it!

Healthy Lives, Healthy People need a Healthy Information Strategy

I stumbled across a news item in this week's CILIP Update/Gazette which I wanted to make a note of as I thought it was rather good. A blog post by Guy Daines, CILIP's Director of Policy and Advocacy on the official responses to yet another of the government's White Papers on health and the NHS. This time it was the turn of public health in "Healthy Lives Healthy People" and once more there is no mention of the role of information, evidence-based practice, information literacy, research or the part libraries have in bringing about change and influencing clinical practice. As Daines points out, "it remains important to assert the crucial role librarians, knowledge officers and other information specialists already play in promoting and facilitating an evidence-based approach and how a modest investment in such skills and services can help effect the transformation desired" but as always the question is how best to convey this message to those making decisions.

There are already clear signs the huge plans for the NHS are foundering - perhaps if Mr Lansley had consulted a library professional and had done a bit more background research we wouldn't be in this mess right now....