Tuesday, 18 September 2018

11 Things that have Changed in My Body

This blog has been prompted by the post suggestion, My Body, from the lovely people at Post 40 Bloggers and also because of a conversation I had with the lovely @thinlyspread on Twitter.

Up until my late 30's I happily slipped between a size 12 - 14, then kids happened, and giving up smoking, (in that order, lets try not to judge). And then a child who just wouldn't stop breast feeding, which for anyone who has done it, makes you ridiculously hungry and thirsty ALL THE TIME.

The end result, by my early 40's I was more like a size 18 - 20 with two small children and a healthy affinity with a large glass or two of red of an evening.

Now before I go any further, I would like to say I am still a size 18 (on a good day and depending where I shop), and I still like a nice glass of red.
Me in the North Sea, at Cromer in Norfolk, bloody freezing, but loads of fun


This is not a weight loss story, this is what has happened to my body in the last 10 years.

I think a list is probably the most efficient way to do this.

  1. With the birth of my first child, all my time working on computers got the better of me and Carpal Tunnel (repetitive strain) flared up for the first time - this is ongoing.
  2. Similarly, with the birth of my first child, which lets face it wasn't exactly whale music and gentle massage - I developed piles, again, this is just one of life's daily joys
  3.  At 40 I was diagnosed with CML (Chronic Myloid Leukaemia) which I have spoken about before. The some of the side effects of the drugs, are fatigue and joint pain.
  4. At 46 I broke my ankle, quite badly, I talk about it here, I learnt how awful it is not to be able to walk and have ended up with a permanently weird looking ankle with some impressive scars.
  5. At 48 I started to show signs of the peri-menopause (the bit before the  menopause itself), irregular periods, mood swings.
  6. At 50 the peri-menopause, or it could be the real menopause, I no longer know or care, is fully underway, with weird sleep, strange moods, uncontrollable crying, and ridiculously heavy and frequent periods. I may also have the more well known, sweats, but that is also a side effect of my CML drugs, so who knows. At least I don't have the dry eye's when I sleep like @thinlyspread.
  7. I am currently typing this in a wrist brace having had a steroid injection in my wrist for the Carpal Tunnel, yesterday (Apparently the last one I can have, after that it's the op which I am not keen on).
  8. I have troublesome knees. After I broke my ankle I walked and moved differently for a time, this impacted on my knees.
  9. I suffer from stiff achy shoulders, again, years in front of a computer, whilst people shout at me on the phone.
  10. The holding in of wee, seems to have become an issue over the last few years, sneezing and giggling have embarrassing consequences.
  11. And then there is the general ageing, the sag of the face, the wrinkles, the lack of boob pertness, and bingo wingedness (so much I am planning my first flight).
So, it's been a bit of a downward spiral, however, on a positive note, over the last 18 months I have been tap dancing again. I can't walk the next day as both my ankle and my knees are completely knackered, but I love it and I get all that good endorphin joy.

Similarly, I have been doing Pilates every week to improve my core* since January, and although I find it hard, I quite like it.

In fact, I have been generally healthier this last year, despite my body firmly telling me, I can't or shouldn't do things, I just ignore it and carry on, because in my mind I am about 18 and so my stupid 50 year old body can go and do one!

And as for the menopause and all it's weirdness, much as I wanted to, I can't avoid it, it's coming for me anyway. As women, we need to talk to each other about it, so we don't feel so isolated and share our stories.

After all, in many cultures, this stage in our life means that we have now reached wisdom and are considered the wise women in our tribes (can someone tell my kids that?).



*So I stop weeing myself!

 
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Friday, 14 September 2018

OMG I'm back at Uni after 30 years

So, the enormity of doing a Masters Degree in creative writing, at 50,  has just hit me.

I have this MASSIVE book to study from, with work sheets and stuff.

I have to write proper stories, where I have to be super creative, and because I am stupidly competitive I want to get really good marks in everything.

So from now on, it's head down and away I go.
The bonus is, that by doing this,  it will encourage me to write more on here as well. Hopefully.


One of the first things I read, was advice for someone who wants to be a writer. They suggested the best thing to do is to just sit down and write.

What you write, may be rubbish and complete gibberish, but there may be a tiny gem, a little diamond, something worth keeping, and there it is, your first draft, or your first idea.

I need to stop worrying about creating something perfect from the outset and work on the principle that, after a million and one re-writes, I might actually have written something, someone else might want to read, and with a following wind, enjoy.

Now that would be lovely.

Officially, my course doesn't start until the 6th October, but there is pre-reading and activities to be getting on with, whilst all the time, trying to think of ideas of what to write about.

One thing I wonder about is what genre will I write in?

I doubt I will be a historical novel type, although I loved reading the Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson, which is set in the 17th century and about the Icelandic people being taking as slaves by the Turkish people.
Some of the books I've read recently

I like a bit of sci-fi and fantasy, and enjoy the books of Neil Gaimen and Terry Pratchett (I am beside myself waiting for the TV series of Good Omens to come out). I loved American Gods, that is definitely my kind of thing. Similarly, I loved Weaveworld and the Hellraiser books by Clive Barker. (Weirdly, I can't watch horror, but I can read it).

But, I think I prefer a gentler approach where it is still fantasy but so close to reality you aren't quite sure if it's real or not. I just finished the Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, which I loved, it is set completely in reality, but one thing has happened that influences the outcome of the characters but the thing that has happened, can't be real...can it? I like that.

As a child I read voraciously, I don't remember learning to read, and was reading books meant for adults by the end of primary school. I loved Swallows and Amazons and all the Little Women books.

When I did my degree, my favourite books were the Gothic novels, I preferred these to the long and meandering novels of Thomas Hardy and George Elliot that I had to read as well, I didn't enjoy the massive descriptions of a field or a tree or a hill, I just wanted them to get on with the story. Having said that, I loved/love Wuthering Heights where the heath is as much a part of the story as Cathy and Heathcliff.

I love reading, being in another world, I am completely immersed.

I just hope I can do that for someone else, I want to be able to create something a person can get lost in, something that can make you forget your day to day worries, and just be part of what you are reading, imagining the sea spraying salty mist on your face as you roam the seven seas, or parched in a desert searching for the holy grail, or whatever, I want to write a book where you forget everything else and you are part of it, inside it, completely and utterly engrossed.

No pressure then.


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Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Dreaming of Dementia

Last night I dreamt I had dementia. I would do the same things everyday not realising I had done the exact same thing the day before.

It was hideous, like ground hog day where you have no memory of the previous day, so no improvement or change could be made, just repeat, repeat and repeat.

Its hardly surprising my mind went to this place, my Dad had dementia, and my subconscious clearly felt I needed to see what that felt like.

The strangest thing was, although logically. I knew I was repeating the same thing over and over, I felt quite content doing it as I had no memory of the previous day.

In reality, I have no idea what dementia feels like, I only know what I saw my Dad go through.

Initially, he was just a bit forgetful, and started having falls.

Then the forgetfulness became more frequent, he started to hate going in the car, as he felt he would fall out of his seat, he stopped wanting to walk.

Eventually, he stopped walking altogether, there was nothing physically stopping him, he just didn't want to.
Dad at home in his garden


In the end he would have moments of clarity and realise where he was (by this point he was in a home as he needed specialist care) and that all he did all day was sit in a chair and watch TV.  At those points he would tell me that he had, had enough and that he wanted to stop now.

Most of the time, he thought he was at home, and he sometimes thought he was still going to work, although he was thinking of retiring.

At times he thought my brother and I were still in the house, my brother was always 'making a terrible racket' upstairs. Which I still find hilarious, that even in his dementia my brother is in trouble for being too noisy (I would always go back and tell my brother, simply because this makes me the best child. Obvs).

He would also tell us stories that he hadn't told before, of drunken escapades with friends, of sneaking back into his parents house.

Other times I would take photo's for him to look at, he didn't really remember anything recent, but his parents, and brothers and sisters were still clear in his mind. He would point out who was who to me, then say 'dead'. Which was true as he was the last of his generation still going.

Sometimes, he would want me to move something annoying him in his room, but his words would get jumbled, so he would tell me to move the letter and mean his shaver. Everything needed to be exactly as he wanted it, although he was like that before the dementia.

As time went on, Dad lost interest in food, only eating puddings, he always had a sweet tooth. Eventually, they could only give him pureed food. He was forgetting how to swallow. 

We were lucky, you hear of people, where the dementia, makes them nasty and a completely different personality emerges. I can't imagine how distressing that must be for their loved ones.

Dad remained a gentleman until the end, and the nurses who cared for him were deeply saddened by his death, which was lovely in a way, as you imagine the nurses who work in these care homes must become jaded.

This will be my last post about my Dad and all the sadness and grief we have experienced over the last few months for now.

It's time to move forward, I need to blog about joy and happiness. I am starting my Masters Degree in October, so I expect, whilst I avoid writing assignments, I will write something here.

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