Hello from Tasmania

Hello all,
It is good to be here among the Green Wizard folks. I live in a small cottage in a wild garden in a small city on an island at the bottom of the world, and feel myself to be rather fortunate to be able to garden and write and potter about creating a small but satisfactory life in green wizard mode. I spend almost zero dollars on stuff, buy almost nothing new and grow and forage a lot of my food. I live with my teenage daughter who also likes to experiment with growing herbs and making teas from the garden. Sometimes I visit my partner who lives in a shed on the side of a nearby mountain. He is a hermit and off-grid electronics aficionado, and together we cut wood in his forest to heat our houses and build things out of bits and pieces when we find that there is something we do need.
Until recently I ran a small gardening business, but have had to cut that right back due to problems with my hands. I am now cobbling together a very small income from work in one garden, one writing gig and occasional jobs on the side. Life is ever interesting and surprising though, and in my experience new opportunities generally present themselves. Eventually.
I do some sporadic blogging about my very quiet green wizard adventures at All the Blue Day: alltheblueday.blogspot.com

David Trammel's picture

Loved your guest post on the main page. Your partner sounds like another one I should approach about writing one.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Oh, I've just had a look at your blog and anticipate reading much more, including your experience with the leech bites and consequent need for antibiotics. But this line caught my eye, too, so that it struck me that you live in a magical place where food just comes rolling down the street: "Always on the lookout when walking the dog, I rescued three lemons from the gutter this week, which had rolled there from a nearby lemon tree."

I smile, too, at your photo of "fat hen" which looks so delicious. If I'm not mistaken, it is the same as I call "lambsquarters" and is a favorite of mine. One year I grew it as a row crop and another year as an annual hedge in the garden I borrow from a neighbor. I actually trimmed it level on top to give it a civilized look, heh-heh. All trimmings were kept for the cooking pot.

Welcome, Blueday Jo. Good to meet you.

Tasmania is indeed a magical place where food rolls down the street gutters on any given day:)
Fat hen is indeed lambsquarters, also pigweed and goose foot. It appears to have an affinity with many farmyard critters. It is my favourite garden weed so far, delicious raw and so easy to hide from the children when cooked, "Why yes, darling, of course it's spinach.. no, of course I'm not cooking weeds again.."

I have mild arthritis in my hands. Handwork, including typing and sewing, is difficult.
I always wear compression gloves for all the dry work I do.
I also sleep in them. If your hands get cold at night, they'll be more painful during the day.

You can find compression gloves in craft stores and medical supply places. The trick is to find ones that are snug, but not painfully so, and that you can tolerate wearing all the time. They are sold in sizes and are often sold only in 'singles'. You have to buy two to get a pair.

Compression gloves, along with carpel tunnel wrist supports to sleep in, saved my hands.

Wearing them MAY help you. It's a drug-free, surgery-free alternative and not wildly expensive. The risk is minimal.

Welcome to Green Wizards!

Teresa from Hershey

Hi Theresa, thanks for this advice. Carpal tunnel surgery did work wonders for my carpal tunnel symptoms, but as I suspected not all the pain was carpal tunnel, some of it is arthritis, and every kind of garden work except planting seeds seems to exacerbate it. I do wear the wrist supports some nights when I have overdone it in the garden, and they do help, so I will definitely look at the compression gloves.

It does take time. My mother (82) still gardens. She isn't as consistent in wearing her gloves as I am. That said, when she was really in pain, she wore them faithfully day and night for weeks. Lo and behold, within two weeks she started seeing a difference. Four weeks in and the problem went away, mostly. She currently wears them on an as needed basis; other than at night.

Always wear gloves at night. If your hands are cold at night, they'll be stiff and painful in the morning.

As for me, I always wear the compression gloves and the carpal tunnel wrist supports every night. They look like weird bondage gear and I can't easily move my hands or fingers. That's the point, I suppose. I don't want to risk not wearing them and make my hands and wrists hurt more.

Good luck!

Teresa from Hershey

David Trammel's picture

While I have noticed a bit more stiffness to my hands, what I have problems with is in sleep. I will sometimes wake up and my hands will be numb and tingly. I sleep on my side and fold my hands under my face. I think that bending my elbows to do this has been cutting off my circulation. I started using a body pillow and putting an arm under it and one over it. That seems to work.

Now if you could come up with something to help my knees when I bend, I'd really be happy, lol.

mountainmoma's picture

My hands do the same thing, and I am diagnosed with carpal tunnel. They told me to sleep with wrist guards on, but it is very hard to sleep that way, so I usually dont bother. I did go into the acupuncture clinic today and will go in twice a month for a while and see if it helps. It is worse in winter than summer I think

mountainmoma's picture

One day does is not enough data, but.... I woke up with absolutely no numbness or tingling in my hands this morning. I am schedualed to go twice a month next 2 months. I actually have no idea if more than one or how many is needed for the wrists, they are working on a number of things, not just the wrists when I am there. When she was consulting with me she referred to it as "reminding" my wrists to open up....

I know that this is easier for me than others, as we have a local chinese medicine school, so that treatment by interns, or teachers trailed by students, is very reasonably priced per visit ($35 ). Because it is so reasonably priced, and people in this area are open to it and report relief, our local county wide medi-cal coverage( medicaid to the rest of the country) includes free acupuncture done at that clinic( twice a month, actually limit of two visits a month total of acupuncture and/or chiropractic, but I think chiropractic suppliers who except this coverage is exceedingly limited) So the teaching clinic gets plenty of patients. They also provide one morning a week of free/donation, but first come first served on that, so accupuncture is very accessable in this county.

And, so we also get entitled people there, instead of just being thankful sometimes ! One was at the counter when I was there. She was disgruntled to not be able to get her ( free) follow up appointments at her exact desired time slot. But, I live in a place where this is common.

I am thankful. I hadnt been in a couple years, as it is not close, and I had forgotten how good it is. The whole experience, so different from what now passes as medical care/doctors office. She took notes on a clipboard and was facing/engaging with me, the patient ( as opposed to a computer screen). It was calm and not rushed. It was quiet and soothing and so relaxing I almost fell asleep once I was left to let the needles do their work.

I am very interested to know how the acupuncture experiment turns out. I hadn't even thought of acupuncture, but I imagine it would help with joint issues as well? I will have to look into it. Sounds like you have a very sweet deal going on there with your acupuncture school.

David, those sound like classic early carpal tunnel problem symptoms, which in many cases never get any worse. The numbness and tingling is caused by a nerve in the wrist being pinched when you sleep with your hands in weird positions. If ever the body pillow solution isn't enough (it wouldn't work for me as I toss about too much when I sleep) you can get carpal tunnel wrist support gloves which hold your wrists straight as you sleep. I was given a pair by someone who had had successful carpal tunnel surgery and didn't need them anymore, and they are great, not only for carpal tunnel symptoms, but as Theresa pointed out, for general stiffness and arthritis in your hands as well.
As for knees, as Theresa said, don't let them get cold. Get one of those knee braces made out of wet-suit fabric (neo-prene?) to wear while you are sitting at the computer so your knees don't stiffen in the cold. Keep a granny rug handy.
I am currently experimenting with two types of natural oils for my hand pain, one which my mum swears by, frankincense essential oil, and one also recommended to me by an arthritis sufferer, paramao oil. I'm using paramao oil this week, frankincense next week, then I might try one on each hand. So far the paramao oil actually seems quite effective. It is an anti-inflammatory but also seems to be good for general pain relief.. I'll post on my findings when I have more data to report - and maybe if anyone else here wants to join in we can do a mini joint-pain relief study between us...

Of course, if you don't need an actual medical brace for support you can warm your knees in other ways, such as knee warmer bands made from old winter woollies, OR.... a local well-loved garden talkback radio personality retired recently at 93. While he was still on air he complained of stiff cold knees in the winter and a devoted listener sent him a pair of knee warmers made from a pair of plus-sized bras and elasticated bands. The well-insulated cups fitted very snugly over his knees while sitting recording his show.. just so you know, Tasmanians have an answer for everything. Ask any of us, we will always be there to help..

alice's picture

I know someone who has made an ointment from comfrey root that seemed to lessen the pain of stiff joints, don't know if that is something folks here have tried? Comfrey is also great for mulching in the garden and making plant foods.

I have comfrey ointment, I will add it to the list. My daughter finds it very effective for psoriasis and eczema.

Not comfrey, chickweed! Chickweed for eczema and psoriasis. Possibly comfrey would work as well? Don't know, but can definitely recommend the chickweed:)

ClareBroommaker's picture

Chickweed is out there growing in my yard right now. It won't be there later in the year when I'd want to try it for this weird immune reaction (pressure induced urticaria) I get in my fingers when gardening. I think tomorrow I'll pick some and stash it in the freezer, so I can try just rubbing it into my fingers when the problem occurs, plus I'll make up a tiny jar of wax & oil ointment with chickweed.

alice's picture

I think comfrey's not good for eczema, if I understand correctly, as the stimulant to cell division which is an active compound in comfrey can add to the irritation. Can't comment on chickweed from personal experience as I've not used it but I have heard good things about it.

mountainmoma's picture

like arthritis, while acupuncture no doubt helps, the quickest relief is using an inflammation salve, homemade with CBD. CBD is now legal to grow and transport in all 50 states due to change in Federal Law that was included in last years farm bill, and signed by president Trump. If it doesnt have THC, so cant get you high, it is legally Hemp and hemp is now legal. So, it just became affordable for me to make and try a CBD rich salve ( the stuff sold commercially is way to expensive ) and it does work. My son also tried some on the inflammation he has post workout, and it also does away with is pain. This is extremely inexpensive and easy to make at home.

This salve is made the same way you make any other herbal salve, sam e as making, for example, a comfrey salve. While I did mine in a double boiler, low heat on teh stove, let it rest, did it again the next day, some people use a crock pot, there is directions on doing this on the Azure Standard website, and they can legally sell you some of the dried plant ( if you are where their trucks deliver) at a good price. And, you could do it cold process, but as the plant is very robust, i like the low heat method ( I do calendula petals cold process, let it sit on oil for a month or 3, petals are musch more delicate)

i use comfrey for skin conditions, healing, spider bites, not joint problems of either type.