Does losing weight mean I am fatphobic?

This is a post that has been rattling around in my head for some time now as I think about my own weight loss. Any regular followers of my blog or Instagram will know that between in 2016 I joined Slimming World and lost almost 3 stone in weight by the middle of 2017. It wasn’t an easy task and obviously with having chronic illness and chronic pain I had to do it with food alone as I cannot conventionally exercise ( before my illness I used to go running 3 times a week). The weight had crept on over a long period of time and was a combination of my lack of being able to exercise, reaching for the sugary foods for a quick energy boost, and also my age. I have since kept that weight off for well over a year now and feel much better in myself having changed my eating habits for the better. Yes I still have the coffee and cake meet ups with friends, meals out every now and then, and also nights out drinking on occasion and I do all of these with absolutely no guilt attached. I am thankful I do not have the emotional connection to food that some others have and therefore don’t turn to food when I am stressed, or tired, or upset etc.

However, recently I have seen more and more people talking about, and living their life by, the whole ‘ body positivity’ approach and encouraging others to do so as well, and I love this mind set and approach to life and I also follow quite a few accounts that promote this on a daily level. But it has made me stop and think………….does the fact that I have actively lost weight and feel better about myself for doing so now make me fat phobic?

For me, the losing weight was a ‘self help’ approach to managing my illness. The extra weight I was carrying was making my life more difficult. I suffer with chronic musculoskeletal  pain all over my body, the extra weight was creating an abundance of extra pressure on my knee and ankle joints making it difficult to be on my feet or walk for any length of time ( I already use a walking stick most of the time when I am out of the house). On bad days when my fatigue levels where through the roof I found it almost impossible to hold my body weight up long enough to make a cup of coffee! It was making be breathless when I walked up stairs which increased my levels of dizziness tenfold.

I also had the fact that it just wasn’t a simple case of going up into the next size of clothes. I am only 5ft 1 1/2 ins tall ( I used to be 5ft2 but having recently been measured at my pain management group I seem to be bloody shrinking!) and I carry all my weight in my middle- so effectively an apple shape. Therefore, going up in the next size of trousers to accommodate my growing waist (or lack of) meant the rest of the garment was swamping me. Anything loose fitting on the top end, like a shirt, made me look like I was a kid dressing up in their mum’s clothes! Nothing was comfortable, nothing fitted well even when I bought from the petite sections of high street shops. My confidence was already on the floor as chronic illness had over the years stripped me of my job, of being active, of friends (believe me you are dropped like a hot stone if on a night out they feel as though they will be stuck with you at the table rather than enjoying themselves on the dance floor!) and of fully changing the life that I had planned.

Personally speaking, joining Slimming World ( and I know online people are very vocal about these companies preying on vulnerable people and taking their money- which I do acknowledge to a certain degree) and losing weight was a way of taking control of something when you have an invisible illness that takes all control away from you on a daily basis. I enjoyed the focus it gave me and I met lovely friends there which in turn became a sociable activity to do, I am still at my group as one of the social team helping out each week. I have been able to keep the weight I lost off for over a year and it has absolutely changed my way of looking at food. I eat more! I eat better, which in turn helps me try and manage my illness better and I now know I have done everything I can ‘self help’ wise to manage my illness on a daily level. I don’t ever feel deprived, I have a cake when I fancy one, I have a drink when I fancy one, and I have some bloody chocolate, again when I fancy it. Dare I say it, I feel much more comfortable in my own skin, not because I am a particular size, but because I took control and did something for myself to help with my illness which also raised my confidence – surely that’s a positive right?

                                       So I ask the question again………..does that make me fat phobic? 

Like I said above, I follow some fabulous body positive accounts who I chat to regularly and I love their accounts because I like them as people, I like them because of what they talk about and also because they portray real life. So here are just 2 of my fav’s…….

@sparkleandstretchmarks  

I love Hayley’s account because I think with her what you see is totally what you get , if that makes sense! her stories are always real and she shows the down sides as well as the good and will sometimes post even though she is showing her vulnerability. She talks about fatphobia and the social media implications with being self employed as a blogger, and the affect being a plus size can have on her working with brands.

@_alexandra_parker

I love Alexandra’s account because she also promotes body positivity but in a different way. She has done the slimming world thing to find it wasn’t for her. She has also given up drinking alcohol to help with her mindset and literally gets you thinking about everything…………….just everything! Again it’s a real non themed account and she will also show her vulnerabilities when things are playing on her mind.

There are lots of others I could mention such as @mollyforbes and more recently @this_girl_is_enough  (who can literally blow my mind some days on what she can talk about on stories) but these are the two main ones who got me thinking about my question.

Am I insulting people when I post about my weight loss?

Can I not take pride in the fact that I set a goal personal to me and I achieved it? 

Am I wrong in being happy that I have lost the weight even though it helps massively with my illness?

 Is it wrong to say that my confidence has improved now I feel better about myself after my weight loss?

I think these are valid questions and I would love to know your thoughts? I feel that maybe it’s something I can’t be proud of online as I would hate to upset anyone, yet for me I feel as though I have achieved something personal to me in my life.

Please let me know what you think?

Chronic illness/ Chronic pain code for what we say and what we actually mean!

Most of you will know by now I have ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), Fibromyalgia ( widespread musculoskeletal pain) and more recently Joint Hypermobility ( in hands- when joints can dislocate!). I have had chronic illness and pain since 2009 and even with high levels of pain medications including morphine I still experience pain 24hrs a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks of the year. In truth, I cannot remember certainly in the last 7 yrs or so of a time when I have been pain free. I read recently that the full list of symptoms of an ME or Fibro patient is the same as a patient with AIDS around 2 months before death! The most frustrating thing about my condition is that it is completely INVISIBLE. There is nothing to see, no bruising, no swelling of joints in my case, no identifying marks on the skin………….NOTHING. BUT MY BODY IS WRACKED WITH PAIN DAILY.

Now that may be hard to believe – how can someone be in pain all of the time even with very strong medications? A normal person’s brain is not equipped to understand chronic, consistent pain at all. Yes they can totally empathise if someone breaks their arm, or has the flu or even something like appendicitis because naturally our brains can understand what’s seen as danger or acute pain –  pain that will be there until that body part has healed itself…………short term pain. They can imagine from past experiences how painful those things could be, but the normal brain is not equipped to understand a pain that does not go away! It’s just how we are made- and therein lies the problem.

Therefore, as you can imagine this can be the cause of all misunderstanding around consistent pain. People think it’s actually not possible to be in pain for that long or believe that it never goes away. They see us ‘spoonies’ up out of bed and dressed and dare I even say it, possibly even with make up on and possibly even smiling and chatting!!! I mean c’mon if you are in pain would you even be doing that?………………..ERM…………..actually yes sometimes you would! Not because the pain is reduced that day or any less severe, but more so if you didn’t make the effort ( and believe me you have no idea how much fecking effort that actually takes when you feel like death!) you would never leave the house or see anyone!

Then once you have a chronic condition like that when anyone asks how you are- they aren’t fully listening or really wanting to know simply because most of the time they don’t understand it, think you are exaggerating or even lying about the severity of the condition. As time goes, on I can tell you, that you definitely find out who your true friends actually are. Having to cancel going on a night out does not go down well once you’ve done it more than once. The invitations to go out or do anything start drying up because if the venue is somewhere where there’s dancing to be done no one wants to be the one stuck at a table keeping you company! If its a day out with a fair bit of walking your invitation gets ‘lost’ as no one wants to be lagging behind walking at your speed rather than be with the crowd. Believe me it happens………………………………I’VE BEEN THERE AND GOT THE T-SHIRT ON THAT ONE!

You learn very quickly that when people ask how you are they are generally being polite and I can tell you most spoonies will answer ‘I’m fine’ (which generally means I feel like death but with a pulse!) and the conversation will quickly move on to what they’ve been up to.

So, I thought I would do a quick reference to what we say and it’s translation to what we actually mean- you know just for the laughs!

I’m Fine!

Like I said above this is the general term for I feel like death but with a pulse- but I have made the effort to get up and dressed to either meet up or go somewhere.

I’m a bit tired!

I literally cannot hold my own body weight up, it feels twice it’s normal weight but I also feel as though I’m wearing a pair of lead boots walking through a swimming pool of treacle whilst someone is pressing down on my shoulders with their own full body weight!

I’m a bit sore!

Feck me I think I’ve just done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson then been thrown out of the ring to be run over by 2 double decker buses and then been set upon by a pack of feral wolves…………..DON’T FECKING EVEN TRY TO TOUCH ME (OR EVEN LOOK IN MY DIRECTION)!

I had a rough day!

ALL OF THE ABOVE…………but now I feel sick, have a migraine and cannot even swallow food or fecking blink……………so I’m unable to get out of bed, the blinds are closed, earplugs are in as noise sensitivity is through the roof. Just check me occasionally to make sure I’m still actually breathing!

So if you have a friend or a family member who has a chronic illness and suffers with chronic pain, then PLEASE recognise the above standard phrases and REMEMBER what they actually mean. It could make all the difference to our day. If you look closely enough you will probably notice that  our smile we plaster on our face is not reaching our eyes…………..look closely next time.

HOW ARE YOU TODAY?

Parent tips for prepping your teen for their first year at uni

My son is now in his 3rd year at uni ( he still has another year to complete) and I have picked up a few helpful tips along the way, first of all dealing with moving into halls and then moving into shared accommodation after that.

I was in your shoes a few years ago worrying myself to death about how he was going to cope with uni, cook for himself, budget his money and ultimately not get himself into any awful situations or get hurt!! ( I know, I know but c’mon they are our little babies after all).

So having learned some things along the way I thought I would share my wisdom to either save you a crap load of money ( no they really do not need everything AND the kitchen sink) or reassure you that your little baby will be just FINE!

This was his first car load when he left for the 1st year……………we had to go back the next day with his guitar, keyboard, amp and desk chair!!!

 

So here goes………..

!. They will NOT starve!! My son could really only cook basic things and wasn’t interested in learning before he went. But guess what? He didn’t starve or get food poisoning either. He is a very plain and repetitive eater ( that’s the Asperger’s affect – he’s always been the same) so this actually made his shopping cheaper and more manageable. Pizzas, pasta and pesto, chicken, bacon, sausages, eggs, Shreddies, chocolate croissants, milk and cartons of orange juice saw him through most weeks with a cheeky takeaway or two along the way.

2. They will not do any washing! It does not matter how particular they are with their clothes at home with good ‘ol mammy doing their washing………………no, they literally all turn into dirty skanks when they move away and have to do it themselves……….honestly, just you wait. ‘ Do you know how much it is to use the washing machine and dryer in the laundry room?’ was my son’s drivel of an excuse. Yep their picky ways will go out of the window when they have to physically wash their own stuff……………………………….and don;t get me started on the bedding! URGH!

3. They will learn to budget their money! We actually found that having had very little spare cash when the boys where growing up as there was only one wage coming in, although frustrating in so many ways, it was actually a hidden bonus as my son was bloody brilliant at managing the little amount of money he budgeted for each week! Silver linings and all that.

4. They will grow up fast! So they may still be your little babies but I tell you a few months away thrown into the real world will result in changes you never thought was possible. They learn to manage their time, get to lessons, deal with finding their way around new towns and ultimately meeting lots of new friends. So beware, when they do come home and you happen to casually ask where they are going to or who they are going out with you will get the Paddington #hardstare!

5. They will actually appreciate you more! Seriously, when they have cooked all their own meals for months and their clothes and bedding are crispy and rank ( I kid you not!)  then they come home for Christmas and all their washing gets done and smells nice, and you serve up a proper mum’s roast dinner………………..the Thank you’s will come flying at you!

6. Do NOT bother with cleaning products galore! Seriously they will NOT clean their rooms. So just pop a couple of packs of anti bacterial cleaning wipes in there and that will cover most things.

It’s hard as a mum not to think of every eventuality and buy accordingly sending them away to uni with everything but the kitchen sink ( only because you couldn’t physically fit it in the car!). So here’s a few few tips that could save you some money that I had to learn the hard way……………

**They do NOT need every cooking appliance. A couple of pots, a frying pan and I would advise a small George Forman grill. My son literally wore his grill out in the first year and I had to replace it. He said he used it every singe day- think bacon or sausage sandwiches, grilled chicken breasts etc all cooked easily, quickly and with very little mess or washing up. Equally if they love a toastie then a sandwich maker is a great addition.

**As far as plates, cutlery pots and pans etc are concerned I have a top tip. Stay away from the run of the mill black and grey and go for a bold colour. That way they know exactly which one’s are theirs! I got red plates, cutlery and pots from Wilkinsons when my son first went and he always said it was great as he could easily recognise his own belongings ( due to his Asperger’s he takes little notice of and does not immediately recognise what’s his…………only recently he came down wearing his brothers jeans and didn’t even notice!!). Equally most lists will say 1xplate/bowl etc – NOPE……….. send them with 2 of everything, plates, bowls, glasses and mugs (if they like their tea and coffee) as I guarantee you they will NOT wash up every time they have eaten. Also its the real world and other students will use their plates if theirs are dirty! Be warned.

**Send them with a made by you medicine box. So paracetamol, Ibruprofen, plasters, hayfever tablets, Imodium, cough mixture and anything else that you would normally have at home. Within the first month they will definitely get ‘Freshers Flu’ from late nights, drinking, not eating their 5 a day etc etc. My son is in his 3rd year and I still do this now and he loves it as he has everything we have at home so if he doesn’t feel well he has something to hand without having to go to the shops.

**Buy 2 sets of bedding and towels! That way if they do decide to wash their bedding ( wishful thinking of course!) or their towels, they do not have to worry about getting it washed and dried in one day.

**Buy them lots of extra socks and underwear, like I say they don’t clothes wash very often so I would rather my son have LOTS of spares than him get 4 days from one pair of socks or boxers!! I did warn you earlier they turned into dirty skanks.

**Do NOT waste lots of money on loads of stationary. It will be a waste of time. My son studies Law and we thought he would need loads of file blocks of paper………..WRONG! Most of their lessons can be watched again online, and most of their work in all done on computer and emailed. They will not need loads of pretty paper and stickers and higlighters!

**Send them with a full term’s supply of wash kit supplies. Extra shower gels, shampoo, toothpastes, wipes, deodorants etc as they will not want to spend their already budgeted weekly allowance on these…………so refer back to the ‘dirty skank’ observations………….at least you know their personal hygiene will not be a problem!

**As far as the bank accounts go I got my son to open 2. First one was his student account that their grants etc get paid into and an overdraft is arranged. The 2nd one is a normal current account. I got my son to work out all his money with his grants and sort a weekly amount he was going to live off. That amount was set up as a direct debit/ standing order type payment from his student account with the bulk of his money to his current account. That way he found it easier to track his weekly living budget rather than inadvertently dip into the main bulk of his student loan and then not have enough money to see him through his uni year. So he started with a £70 weekly amount and after a month or two he reduced it to £60 as he was finding he didn’t actually need it all. That allowed him a more responsible control over his full student loan.

So there you have it my lovelies, its a tough time for us mum’s letting our babies go. It’s definitely strange at first and is a sign of things to come when they start going off into the big wide world making their own lives. I have seen huge changes in my son since that first year he went away, I think until they actually do go off and venture into their own things it’s difficult to see them as anything other than children! My eldest son is now 20 and I can tell you it’s been the best thing for him, I do see him as much moire capable now rather than instantly worry when he does something new.

If you’ve had a teen go off to uni I would love to know the useless things you wasted money on that they never used, so drop me a message in the comments.

Biggin Hill Festival of Flight Air Show 2018

Biggin Hill airport is literally 30 minutes from where we live and yet in the 22 years we have lived here we have never gone to the airshow. We are both ex RAF (it’s where we both met) and love this sort of thing and have often been to Duxford Imperial War Museum and other similar places when we are on holiday.

This year was no different, to be fair, until a friend said she had booked tickets to go and so we jumped on their band wagon and booked tickets literally the day before we went. The planned displays sounded good and my friend, who has always wanted to see the Red Arrows display, was excited to hopefully see them.

The weather when we arrived was pretty rubbish with fairly low cloud, and although the forecast was to improve, we weren’t holding out much hope for the Red Arrows display ( I’m ex air traffic control………….so have a fair idea of judging whether they can display or not). Although they took off to display at Eastbourne they were quickly returned due to the weather. Fortunately for us their planned display was not until the end of the day so we just kept our fingers crossed.

Having not been before we were pretty unsure on what would be there, you would expect at least some static displays and some wartime era vehicles and memorabilia. So we decided to have a wander around and have a good nosey before claiming our picnic and watching spot (be warned veterans of this airshow take this very seriously I can tell you, and we saw some fabulous group set ups!).

What we didn’t expect to come across was a guy set up with two MOD style scooters and memorabilia from the film Quadrophenia. If you are of a certain age you will know exactly the film I’m talking about. So, like you do, we stopped to take a few pictures ( well I did, I’m always the one taking the pics and popping on insta- my husband hates social media). As we got chatting to the guy there it turns out he owned the main scooter on display and was actually one of the main extras in the film! Quadrophenia is one of our all time favourite films, I cannot even tell you how many times we have seen it, and so we continued to chat with Roy (the owner). He even let me sit on the scooter for a picture which literally MADE. MY. DAY!

It turns out I could’ve have chatted to him for hours. He was a lovely guy and had ALL the stories from behind the scenes. What I’ve always wanted to know was how many times they had to film the scooter going over the cliff at Beachy Head in the last scene…………………….turns out its not an easy question to answer! He told us that that particular scene was filmed in the first few days of filming, that it was almost filmed back to front due to filming starting in September and the weather still had to look nice and summery for the scenes in Brighton. He remembers 6 almost identical scooters there on the day ( one of which Phil Daniels damaged slightly having a ride around on while the grass was still wet in the morning!). Roy told us that because he gets asked this question a lot he asked the director the last time there was a meet up, and even the director couldn’t fully remember!

Roy- the owner of the original scooter. A lovely guy and I could have talked to him all day!

 

He also told us that his particular scooter had been ear marked for Sting’s character as it was so distinctive, but then as you may know the scooter eventually used in the film for his character was a slick, upmarket one adorned with the distinctive lights (if you’ve seen it you’ll know what I’m talking about). Then, when that was decided Roy’s scooter with its stand out union jack design, had to always be on the sidelines so as not to outshine Sting’s bike. There were lots of other stories too but this post would end up being way too long. However, this scooter is the ONLY remaining one from the filming, it has been used by The Who at various events, appeared on album covers and also for cast reunions with the director. Anyway if you are interested in more details pop over to Roy’s website unionjackscooter.co.uk as he has some great pics on there.

 

 

But anyway lets get back to the airshow. We eventually met with our friends and plonked ourselves in a decent spot for the rest of the afternoon. The weather surprisingly decided to play ball and the sunshine finally came out and the clouds cleared away ( my sunburnt face can vouch for that – I am literally the only person who could go dressed for winter, feeling the cold, and still get bloody sunburnt). This meant we got the full display programme which turned out to be a real mix over a couple of hours.

One of my absolute favourites, is the wing walker planes (in my day they were known as the Crunchie planes, then at one point they were Utterly Butterly). But at the moment they have no sponsor which is such a shame. I will always have a soft spot for these planes due to the fact I have done wing walking myself- twice in fact!

 

Yes, in my earlier days, before marriage and kids and any form of chronic illness, I actually was kind of adventurous!  Both times were while I was in the Royal Air Force serving at St Mawgan. They used to hold an international air day there and the Officers who organised it ran a competition for the local area for people to get the chance of having a go. My sergeant at the time put my name down as a joke thinking I wouldn’t do it………WRONG! So a few days before the air show, myself and a the two winners of the comp all had a trial and I bloody LOVED it! The following year though, those same officers forgot to run the competition in the local paper and so came into me the day before the show and asked if I would do it for the actual air show itself……………….erm, no brainer for me…..YES…………and I got the day off work (at the time I worked in the ops room that had no windows). So, whenever I see these planes I can appreciate how difficult it is to do, and yet how easy they make it look, and just love watching them.

There were also lots of Battle of Britain Memorial aircraft displaying on the day too, Spitfires, Hurricane, Lancaster along with a Messerschmidt 109, and a great re enactment of an actual bombing raid that took place back in the day at Biggin Hill itself during the war.

 

But for the younger kids and those that like the faster jets, the big draw is definitely the Red Arrows. Unfortunately, although they may be planned to display they aren’t always able to display due to the fabulous british weather. In fact, that particular day they were due to display at Eastbourne but were returned because the weather was not playing ball. It can be unbelievably frustrating when they don’t, yet as an ex air traffic controller I totally get why they can’t, so it’s a real treat to see them do their thing when they can display. They have different levels of display to help account for the weather. A flat display will be during cloudy weather with just low fly pasts. A Rolling display which is for better weather conditions that allows them to go up to about 2500ft  ( I think) and then the full display which can go up to around 7500ft (I think). Although our weather had improved so much we could have had the full display there were , in fact, restrictions on the airspace over the surrounding Biggin Hill area and so we had the rolling display on that day. Watching the Red Arrows just does not get old- I love it! My friend had tried to see them display at a few different events over the last few years and had never been lucky- until Sunday that is. We were obviously her lucky charm  ( taking full credit obvs) and they did not disappoint! They never do.

Now these air shows generally don’t come cheap to be fair and this one was £29 for an adult ticket, so almost £60 for just me and my OH. As the weather improved greatly and we had our full display programme for the afternoon, I would therefore say it was worth the money for us. However, if you were going as a family ( and I’m presuming a child’s ticket would hopefully be cheaper!) I can see how that would add up to being a very expensive day out. One of the best things about it is that it is really family orientated as far as I could see. There was some fair ground rides and go carts along with lots of other, pay as you go, rides for the kids ( so you can see how this could run up to being an extortionate day out!). There were lots of stalls selling merchandise, and lots of wartime and classic vehicles to look around.

It was very well organised ( although we will skip over the leaving the car park at the end of the day fiasco) with lots of toilet facilities, food and drink vendors and lots of large bins for the rubbish. There was a separate area for any disabled visitors and their families to set up ( including their own toilet facilities) that was much less crowded and busy which gave wheelchair and mobility scooter users much more room to move around.

I loved the fact that it seemed to be a real family style event, with picnic blankets and chairs and large family groups all enjoying the day. Would I go again? Absolutely……………we love an air show, we love aircraft museums and I love anything wartime related ( I don’t know why, but I just do!).

So have you been before- if so I would love to know if you felt it was value for money? I would love to hear your views in the comments.

Also have you ever seen the Red Arrows display- what did you think?

 

So, what’s next for Mrs B?

I’ve certainly been asking myself that for a while now. I’m a mum of 2 boys but they are now 20 and 17 (almost18), finding their own independence, as one is at uni and the other is at 6th form and also working a part time job. I have been married for 24 years and my hubby is a shift worker so that means I now spend the majority of my time alone! Due to my illness and chronic pain I’m no longer able to work a conventional job (I was a driving instructor), but I’m lucky that blogging and running social media accounts can be done in pj’s even on a bad day if necessary.

Yet when the boys where younger my life was busy (illness or not) with after school clubs, kids parties, meeting up with friends in the holidays etc, and although I am still officially a taxi service, a cook and a bank, my life is much more subdued. That in itself gives you time…………………..LOTS of time! Time to ponder and think about your own role in life. Yes I am still a wife and a mum but I am also ME. So, with 48 looming very quickly (and my hubby turning 50 last year!) I am starting to think about my time. How do I want to spend my time now my kids are off doing their own thing most of the time? Read more

Welcome to my new little corner of the web

Welcome to my new little corner of the web.

Those of you that know me from Mum in Meltdown will know I haven’t written on there for a long time as I simply fell out of love with that site. Each time I went on there it became apparent I had out grown  the Mum in Meltdown label. My boys are no longer younger teens (which was my main focus on that blog) and no longer happy to be talked about………..which is absolutely right and understandable.

So I deliberated for a long time not quite knowing whether to continue blogging………..I mean what the hell was I going to write about. I blogged the teenage years because it’s an absolute brutal minefield that will send you right over the edge on countless occasions. Yet, at the same time I was engaging with people in the same boat, going through the same struggles and therefore, it made me feel……………..well, almost normal.

Read more

Student Lets and Landlords

This year has seen my eldest returning to uni but this time he will be house sharing with four other students, friends he has made while living in student halls last year. They have had a year of independence, almost sheltered in a way, by living in a corridor with 11 others and sharing a kitchen and a couple of bathrooms. They work out differences on their own and gravitate towards other students that they get on with or become friends with. As parents, although it breaks our hearts to see them go, it feels like they are still being supported if they are living on campus with all the facilities around them. My eldest goes to Sussex university and it was well equipped with a large Co op, a large cafe, launderette, bar, pharmacy and a GP surgery! I know not all uni’s are the same and some are spread around towns on different areas instead. Read more

It’s been a while!

Well it’s certainly been a while since I have been on here!

It’s not like there hasn’t been anything going on for me to write about it’s more like I haven’t had the urge to write, but lately that has been changing. So rather than bore you will loads of catch up posts I thought I would do a quick run through everything that has been going on.

So this year I have had more hospital imput for my M.E/ Fibromyalgia than I have over the last 8 years since being diagnosed. Finally I managed to get physio treatment for the Carpel Tunnel in my left hand which has helped ease some of the numbness at least. I have also been referred onto a pain management course due to start late September for 7 weeks and I hope that helps me with at least pacing any activity I do ( I am absolutely rubbish at saying ‘No’ to anyone and generally end up overdoing things and then crashing afterwards!). The course will run me up to almost Christmas when I have been told I may get referred onto an exercise class suitable to help with my illness.

Excitingly, earlier this year a ‘dream job’ sort of fell into my lap via a good friend of mine. Dream job in the fact I can do the job in my pj’s, at anytime of day, keeping my own time! Sounds bloody good eh? It comes in the form of running a social media account for a local clothing boutique called Kimmicass (would love you to come and give us a follow) that sells amazing womens clothing that you just cannot find in the high street shops (and will be looking to expand and sell online as well as open more shops too). This one account actually led to a second account for a London florist who lives locally but works independantly for clients like the V&A! This account is a slow burner and is not fully up and running but is definitely getting there and should be more active before Christmas. So how great is that? Literally a dream job for me as with my illness its difficult to predict health wise how I will be feeling on any particular day, but this job does not require me to be anywhere in particular for any length of time! So I get to work from home in my pj’s which I am loving ………….total result!

Also, we had an amazing surprise with my youngest’s sons GCSE results. His plan was originally to do a Level 3 Early years Childcare course at college which he needed 5 passes including English and Maths. Now hes a clever boy so we knew he would get the 5 passes unfortunately his worst subject is maths so we were extremely concerned ( as was he) that he wouldn’t pass that and therefore not be able to do his course. So the results morning was literally the most stressful time ever and I had lots of contingency plans running through my head should he not get his maths. Well talk about a total surprise, not only did he get a level 5 in his Maths ( the new marking system is numbered!) but he also passed ALL 10 GCSE’s and did so well was offered a place back at the school’s 6Th Form!! He was so gobsmacked he literally didn’t know what to do with himself and although he still went over to the college to enrol he ended up taking the place at 6th form to do A levels instead. As you could imagine it was total surprise all round so we ended up going out to his favourite restaurant to celebrate………….it would have been rude not to!

alex meal out

Then it was birthday celebrations for my husband who was turning 50 at the end of August…………….50!! Now he’s not one for big parties etc although is more than happy to go to others he hates being centre of attention himself. So I came up with a cunning plan to use the money that a big party would cost and instead take him away to somewhere I know he has wanted to go to for a long time- ROME! So I managed to find a little family run boutique hotel in the centre of Rome for 4 nights and booked that and some flights etc for early October for the two of us. However, because this was going to be his only present , except for a few bits from the boys, I wanted to make it a little special. So, I came up with the idea of putting some clues together to put inside a cabin size suitcase and then wrap it all up. So I numbered the clues…

  1. A picture of a fountain and some Euro coins (for the Trevy Fountain)
  2. A spanish style fan with a picture of some stone steps ( for the Spanish Steps)
  3. A rosary (hopefully making him think Catholic!)
  4. A dvd of Sparticus with a small Italian flag!! (The Colosseum obviously)

Each clue was wrapped up and numbered and then his present was a gift of 2 guide books for Rome with the flight tickets inside.

present box

suitcase clues

suitcase pic

Now my hubby is not one for showing emotion at ALL but as he opened the guide books his eyes did well up and his hands were physically shaking which showed me he literally had no clue up until that point of what his present was. I had even gone behind his back to one of his work colleagues to help me book his time off work and get it approved (he is in the police so it’s not an easy thing to do without him finding out)……………..BUT I BLOODY DID IT!

rich and present

It was a tough thing to make all the decisions on my own with regard to the flights, the hotel and when to go so I was actually quite relieved when it all seemed to work out. Thankfully now I can relax as I know he will sort everything else out from here- he has already done our medical cards and booked airport parking! The only time throughout that I gave myself a total heart attack was when my Mum asked me on the phone if our passports are in date! For anyone who doesn’t know us we never go away anywhere abroad as we cannot afford it normally and the last time i used my passport was when he took me to Venice for my 40th birthday 7 years ago……………………………………..SO THANKFULLY THEY WERE IN DATE!!

**So if anyone has any recommendations for Rome please let me know**

We also took my eldest back to uni last weekend (sobs) and helped him move into his new shared house ( which is a total state and will be another blog post on its own!) so I am missing him already sitting with us for dinner etc.

Next up is my youngest 17th birthday in a few weeks time before we can get really excited about our trip.

Anyway, it’s lovely to be back and have the urge to put things down in black and white again and would love to hear what you have all been up to. If

Teach your children not to live in fear

So, the last few months have seen us endure some pretty horrific terrorist attacks around the world as well and 3 in 3 months in this country alone, and I hear more and more people online sharing their fears for their children’s future in such a world. I too share those fears even though I have older teens now I wonder what will become their ‘normal’ in say the next 20 years with regards to terrorism, policing and our country’s safety. What will they be bringing their future children into in many years to come?

However, I am  from Belfast, born in 1970 and lived my youngest years into my teens throughout the height of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. The absolute full extent would probably never have been covered in the national media forums unless it involved the mainland itself, but still it continued on a very daily basis in my area as well as many others. My parents back then probably had the exact same fears about our future as children with armed police and the Army patrolling our streets and wondering where it would all end up.

Yet here I am! Old enough to have my own family and worry about their future in the way my parents did before me. Coming from a very loyalist area ( being Protestant) my parents never discussed religion or politics in front of us. We were never brought up with extremist views one way or the other. They never stopped us playing outside, or going anywhere or doing anything…………………life just carried on. We were never brought up to actively ‘hate’ anyone just because a paramilitary group had decided to plant a bomb,or  kill innocent people, or shoot a single person in retaliation for another attack. We were not brought up to think that ‘tit for tat’ killings where OK. As kids we had been segregated to either Protestant or Catholic areas to live and for schooling etc. Yet I remember how excited I was when I got my first part time job in Belfast city centre working inn Argos knowing that I would be ‘mixing’ with Catholics and working in a ‘mixed’ area. I had a blast in that job. The people I met and the friends I made just made my time there brilliant fun.

What I am trying to say is that my parents never made religion and the issues surrounding it in Northern Ireland and issue for us growing up. We were not brought up to ‘hate’ a person just because they were a different religion to ourselves.

So  if you are afraid of what the future holds for your children then teach them that not everyone of that race or religion believes the same as those extremists. I never once thought that all Catholics ( back in the days of The Troubles ) were affiliated or believed the same as the IRA and I can only thank my parents for that.

Do not get me wrong, my absolute heart goes out to each and every person who has been affected by these atrocities and yes I would love to see an end to them too, it’s a total heartbreak that most of us cannot even begin to imagine or understand what they must be going through.

It is a scary world, but do not pass on your adult fears to your children before they are able to comprehend or begin to understand. Instead, teach them to see and take everyone on face value, to not be afraid when they see armed police or possibly armed forces on the streets- these people are here to protect us. I was in my mid teens on holiday in Plymouth when I saw the very first policeman in shirt sleeves with no body armour, unarmed and on his own!! Until then armed police and Army on the streets was my normal- and yet here I am a normal person. I haven’t suffered any detrimental affects, all grown up with my own family.

Our world is always going to be scary with everything that is going on across the globe, but for your children’s sake concentrate on the everyday normality and the good. I have seen a great quote online telling us to ‘look for the helpers’ in those awful situations and it’s true. There will always be many more people willing to help than to harm. Never let those people affected be forgotten but celebrate those who go to selfless measures to help in the most awful situations regardless of the danger they put themselves in.

In short, I am proof along with many others, if you teach your children to live without adult fears and teach them not to hate a race of people or a religion because of the actions of a minority of extremists then your children will adapt and live normal lives too. It’s possible, we as adults have to make it possible.

 

Fibromyalgia pain management help on the horizon at last

Any of you that have been following me for a while will know that I have ME and Fibromyalgia, which in lay mans terms means I am permanently exhausted and have constant chronic pain (with lots of other symptoms but the list is too long to mention!).

I was diagnosed in 2009 and after being initially referred for a 12 week management program in London at the start my Borough decided they would not pay for me to go out of borough for treatment even though there was nothing similar in my area. So, after being diagnosed  I was then left with no input apart from pain relief from my GP. I spent years on Tramadol until my body totally adjusted and they were having absolutely no effect. Last year when the pain became to difficult to handle my GP switched me to Morphine (slow release) and Oramorph for breakthrough pain during the day. Again as my body adjusted they had less and less effect and the dosages where increased to a point where my GP could not authorise another increase without referring my to a Rheumatologist.

This was probably the best thing that could have happened. I had an appointment in February and she confirmed 18 tender points of Fibro around my body alongside all over body tenderness ( that means my body feels bruised so wearing clothing/ shoes etc all hurts as though someone is pressing directly on a bruised piece of skin!). From there she referred me to the Fibromyalgia clinic and I had that very long appointment yesterday. It takes all afternoon as you see three separate specialists in different areas who all work together to approach the illness from different angles.

I came out feeling amazingly positive after speaking to three separate specialists who not only believed I was in pain but understood how it affects my daily life and had input in how they could, together as a team, help me manage my pain better and help me restore some normality back to my life.

THIS IS HUGE!! For years I have been left to cope with only inadequate pain relief ( turns out opiates are useless in treating the pain I have-typical!) with people finding it hard to actually believe I am in CONSTANT pain. I know I am my own worst enemy as I do not allow anyone to see how it affects me. If I go out no-one would even think for a moment that my body is screaming out in pain, I will smile and chat and completely mask it ( hence some people think it’s not possible to be in pain ALL of the time). My only visible show that something is wrong is that I use a walking stick, not because I bloody enjoy people looking staring at me but because the pain in my ankles is sharp and knife like and can literally knock you off balance when out walking around.

This denial, or masking my issues seems to be part of the problem. If people think I am OK I will carry on as normal doing things I know will knock me off my feet the next day just so no- one sees I cannot cope! Apparently I need to learn to say ‘No’ and totally understand how to pace activity. This is new to me too as I totally live my life the ‘boom and bust’ way, that means on days where I am more able I will do WAY too much just to catch up etc which then pays me back with several days not able to do anything at all.

So, after an extremely long hospital visit to the clinic yesterday they offered to put me on a 7 week pain management course which looks at all these issues alongside getting a combination of medications that actually work with a routine of pacing.

This is the most help I have had in all the years I have been diagnosed. I feel positive with everything they were telling me and I now have to just wait to hear when the course will be starting. Although it is 7 weeks long it is only 1 day a week at reasonable times with lots of breaks etc. I will meet other people in the same position who actually live in my area too which could end up being a bonus socially.

I have been on support groups online throughout having the illness but I tend to find they become quite depressive with people venting every little aspect, pain, new symptom and bad day they are having. I too have those days where it can bring you right down in mood, but that is not how I want to live my life- it is restricted enough without wallowing in what’s wrong instead of concentrating on what is going well. So, although I remain on these groups I tend only to comment on positive posts because I do feel that sometimes when I am feeling OK they can have a draining affect on your mood as you start to think ‘Oh God is that how I am going to become’. I am not running these groups down they do provide people with daily contact and reassurance and generally are a good thing, however, it can become a bit of a pity party some days and that’s not how I want to look at my illness. I know some people will say they have been on the course I have been offered and it did nothing for them and that’s fine, but because a lot of how you manage pain can be down to mindset as well I do not want to go in with any negative attitude- otherwise what is the point?

So, I will keep you updated when I do start and let you all know what happens. But for now I am very happy I am getting any help at all and we have to be prepared to help ourselves as well as the illness is complex and cannot just be fixed with a particular medication or procedure. So send loads of positive thoughts please, I am feeling that my outlook is going to be rosy.