T*ts up

I’m not good at asking for help.  It makes me feel vulnerable.  So if I ask for something it’ll mean I’m pretty desperate. I don’t know where it came from or why I find asking for help so difficult, I am fiercely independent, to my detriment at times.

I decided to write about this ‘event’ this week because of the sheer importance of it. Boobs. More precisely, boob checking!

It was about six weeks ago when I first felt a lump, I thought it’d go, I’ve had them before. I kind of forgot about it until someone told me about a radio DJ that was dying from breast cancer, same age as me.

So I made an appointment. I had an urgent referral to the breast clinic which was the Thursday just gone. I didn’t mention it really but I didn’t hide it either, work knew, some friends knew, it didn’t feel like a big deal.

I’ve tried to work out why I refused any support or why I didn’t ask for any support to attend the appointment.

I think actually that I am a victim of my own ‘mindfulness’. Something that I have practised for the best part of 3 years, living in the moment, not worrying about the future, concentrate on now, don’t stress about what you have no control over.

I’m fine I said, It’ll be fine, I’m fine to go on my own.

The nurse calls me in and cops a feel. Normally when I have had cysts before they are fairly reassuring straight away, she made some noises that it ‘could’ be a cyst but she seemed to be investigating for a long time. We need to send you for an ultrasound and a mammogram, we may need to do a biopsy, she said. I stayed in the hospital gown. There is something extremely vulnerable about hospital gowns isn’t there? I go to a tiny room with six other women who look absolutely terrified. The statistics tell us that one of us isn’t going to get good news today. Nobody really talks, most of us look at our phones.

I’m really beginning to wish that someone was with me, I have only just realised that in the next thirty minutes my life could change, I could be told I have cancer and I am here, on my own.

Stupid.

The mammogram was done, I must be lucky, it’s my third and I don’t find them to be painful at all, though there’s nothing flattering about being semi naked having your arms up and your boobs squished into the shape of toast into what looks like two vertical petri dishes while the young glamorous nurse takes pictures of you while instructing you to ‘put your chin up’.

I then go back to the small room and what seems like a VERY long time I get called in for an ultrasound. When I have had these before it’s always been a nurse but she calls in a ‘doctor’. I am immediately alarmed. Doctor?! Hi, he says and introduces himself, I take no notice of his name, I’m wondering why he is here. A doctor!! This is huge he says, this cyst is a big one. A cyst, I say. A cyst? Does that mean I’m ok? Oh yes he says but it’s a big one! While I am engaging my brain to become relieved I’m not going to die yet he asks the nurse to ‘pass the syringe’ over and as she does he says ‘not that one – the bigger one with the large needle’…. Erm, what are you doing?? I say! Just taking the fluid out he says. Is it going to hurt? Not really, he says. I lay there as a needle is put into my boob and into the cyst and 30ml of liquid appears in the syringe. It didn’t hurt, much.

I get up and thank the staff for their amazing empathetic and professional care, I go off to work promising myself that I am going to look after my body so much better from here on in (btw 21 days off the booze!) whilst also reminding myself it’s ok to ask for help sometimes, it’s ok to ask for support, I don’t need to do everything on my own.

Our NHS are bloody brilliant aren’t they, we are so lucky, it’s not perfect and it’s so under funded but when the resources are there its amazing.

I do have one gripe though, during my appointment the nurse kept referring to ‘women nearly 50’ and ‘menopause’.   I have no idea who they are referring to!!

Anyway you females out there, check your boobs please!!!

Happy Sunday xx

 

daisy

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Now. Not later.

I had a vivid dream about Tes this week.

 

In my dream she was almost 16 and she was telling me she has kissed someone! A boy!! I was very laid back about this and we had a chat about it and she said she wanted to see him again. My head was reeling with all the thoughts and feelings I think I’d have had if we had this conversation in real life, who was he? Was he good enough? Was she going to be safe?

 

We had a lovely conversation, she looked about a year older than the last time I saw her and she felt the same when I stroked her cheek and she had the same mannerisms and kindness in her face as she talked to me through her large rimmed glasses with her brown and auburn highlighted hair falling to her shoulders.

 

In my dream I was trying my best to tell her all the things I knew could protect her but also I knew she’d be ok.

 

Somehow, ironically, I always knew Tes would be ok.

 

I woke up and I didn’t feel upset, strangely. I felt a comfort, it felt so real.

 

As the day went on I wondered why I’d had this dream. I think it is as obvious as it sounds that I have always focused more on what future we missed by not having Tes and in my dream I was able to do some of the things I’ve missed out on.

 

It reminded me really of how important it is to protect what we have today and to make the most of what we have today. Because you know, even with this traumatic event that happened – I still sometimes forget that and it’s something we shouldn’t forget.

 

I don’t know how it happened that we are so so busy getting to work and back, going to work in the dark, getting home in the dark, not taking a break, being so stressed that it makes us ill, we don’t have time to visit grandparents or aunts, we waste time on relationships that don’t make us happy, we forget to pick up a book or simply listen to a song or cook from scratch or not cook and get a take-out or just to stop what we’re doing and do nothing. I still feel guilty about that one. We are so so busy and we are so distracted by making a life that we somehow we forget to have a life?

 

I have a rule now that I don’t really ‘work’ at weekends, the bare minimum of housework is done. The rest of the week I’m up at 6 and home at 6pm, I do bits of stuff around the house but I keep my weekends free because they are so so precious, they’re the only 48hrs of my life that I don’t have to work so why would I then fill it with washing down sills or cleaning the bathroom!

 

I go to the cinema and go for long walks, I eat a banana and pecan cake at the local garden centre and walk the dogs along the canal to a pub and have a glass of fizz on a Friday evening. We wander charity shops and visit family, catch up with friends and watch cheesy TV, we have lie ins and long chats and read magazines and plan recipes We play cards and do the lottery and we take photos of rainbows and chat with strangers who later in life will become friends, we’ll sometimes even join a demonstration, we visit book shops and markets and occasionally we do virtually nothing at all. You may be reading this thinking it’s not possible, yes other things do come up sometimes but we can also prioritise ourselves a bit more.

 

You/we have to remember this – we need to have time for us, to have time for our family and time for those people we love now  – not later. 

 

Happy Sunday x

 

Changing for good?

So. 2018 has take a turn for the better. Much better. Good news x 3 this week!! This made me think about the idea of good news. Particularly about the word good. What does good actually mean?

So, I looked up the meaning of good. The first definition I came across was ..

Good:
to be desired or approved of.
Eg. “it’s good that she’s back to her old self”

Are we always trying to get back to our old selves? I wonder if this is sometimes why we don’t feel good because we’re trying to get back to where we were yesterday rather than what we are today?

Things change.. ill health… relationships.. .children grow up… new jobs… loss…..age…. opinions… values.. . morals….homes…..emotional health…our bodies.. our looks… our surroundings…. our feelings …things change!

We fight against those changes a lot of the time and crave to be just what we were instead of what we are. We see change quite often as a bad thing and sometimes it can feel very bad. Perhaps if we had more acceptance about the inevitability of change and less focus on trying to look and feel and be exactly who we were yesterday we might be more relaxed about our future?

A good example of this in my life has been dealing with the loss of Tes. How can a mum accept that and just move on? You can’t. But I did adjust my thoughts, eventually, to understand that this life for most people isn’t the one we were led to believe it would be. The ideological life route set out can set us up to fail…. we’re babies, go to school, get education, go to work, meet the loves of our lives, have babies, be grandparents and we live to a grand old age. I can be sure that at least three quarters of you reading this do not and have not had that journey. Life is not a familiar pattern.

So why are we still focussed on a concept of what we’re told life should be when it isn’t like that? Our life changes. And it’ll always change. The best thing we can do is to BE in the present moment, stop fighting change and stop trying to carve out a life prescribed to us.

Of course we can encourage change and we can make changes but we also have to accept change happens and it may not always be that our life is ‘good’ all the time but there is good in our life? We might just need to stop looking for perfect and instead settle for… it’s perfectly good.

Happy Sunday xx

Light in the darkness

While my 2018 continues to be a challenging one so far I had a brief moment this week that made me realise how much we can change without even noticing.

It’s not even a big thing perhaps for many but for me it is.

I came home from work Tuesday night. It was pitch black as usual. The dogs greet me like they haven’t seen me for 7 years and I hurriedly get their coats and leads on. I change to my blue wellies and don my bobble hat, puffy purple walking coat and a new addition to the walks.. .. a head torch! I wear it under my bobble hat and to be honest I feel a bit of an idiot wearing it! However needs must. Unless I want to do all my walks in the lit up areas that frankly are a little dull I need my head torch.

I walk through the woods and can literally only see the metre ahead of me from the narrow torch light but it’s a familiar route and I dodge the brambles and skip the puddles. It’s so quiet and I see no-one. I look back over the town speckled with white and orange lights and thats when it dawned on me.

About two years ago I remembered that I once wrote a blog about an achievement of mine.. that achievement was that I walked a circular route during the day for the first time. On my own. I remember it well. I had been so pleased with myself because previous to this I would only do that route with someone else. Now, here I was donning a head torch in the dark on my own walking a couple of miles. In the dark. Not just walking but enjoying every moment.

I tried to figure out where did I go from being scared of walking on my own in the day to this. The only thing I could come up with was that I’ve become less scared of the world.

Though most people wouldn’t know it.. I’ve spent a great deal of my life being scared. Yet something somewhere has edged me forward and kept me rolling ahead rather than permanently faltering backwards into my comfort zone.

If you too aren’t having the best start to the year then don’t forget to be kind to yourself and focus on the positive stuff about you too! And if your stuck in a rut or that comfort- zone take a small step outside of it? It might not be that scary after all!

Happy Sunday x lots of love x

The future is?

So how’s your first week been?

Mine hasn’t been great, so, unusually I’m going to talk about my job.

I’ve been completely stressed in work. The NHS is in crisis as we know and managing a GP surgery at this time of year (well any time really) is tough ..as it is for all the NHS staff.

I found myself in tears wondering how we can cope with the demand. Wondering how I can keep staff motivated while they felt they were drowning. I sadly listened to a clinician who’s worked as a GP for over 40 yrs tell me the NHS cannot be saved while I just about hold on to that tiny bit of hope that maybe it can? Just. I speak to others in similar situations and we text and email trying to keep each other sane. I speak to nurses elsewhere completely at the end of their tether trying to cope and I try my best to keep moral of staff up while patients queue around the building waiting to get in. They’re equally stressed.

The NHS needs help. Governments need to listen. Common sense needs to be reinstated. Poverty grows and we continue to be strangled by greed of the elite who make us think we can’t make things better but still find money for stuff like…. Brexit. And war. Nurse bursaries have been scrapped and everyone is competing for a locum GP and the costs keep growing. Nurses face court action because they have parking fees at the hospitals that they are working at to save our lives. Community hospitals were shut down so now vulnerable people stay in hospital for months, sometimes they die there.. because there’s nowhere for them to go. The simple state is that the need far outweighs availability and the NHS needs a desperate overhaul and a proper injection of sustained funding to survive .

We have a fight on our hands.

There’s something small we can do too. I believe, rightly or wrongly, that we are pressurising our own health service. We rely on someone else to fix us. A sore throat for a day. Feeling achey for 2 days. The surgery is bursting with people who want an instant fix. Our expectations have become unrealistic. We’ve stopped looking after ourselves and we become physically and mentally unwell when much of the time WE could have done something about it. I’m guilty too I know I could look after my body better.

Some things though are entirely out of our control and that’s why we need our NHS to survive for patients who’s lives are literally saved and changed every second of every day by our free health service. It’s unique, amazing and wonderful. And still free.

It made me think how I need to look after myself a bit more. I walk about 3 miles a day and I eat healthily but I’m very stressed a lot of the time and I still suffer with anxiety. I don’t do enough to eradicate what’s causing that stress and I still shy way from solving some issues that I know would at least help my anxiety. It’s easier sometimes to pretend things are ok when, just like the NHS, we need to look after it and each other and ourselves a bit more.

So. Let’s fight. To keep ourselves healthy but as importantly to keep everyone else healthy. Our NHS is one of the most important aspects of our British society and I fear one of our most vulnerable.

In the words of Aneurin Bevan… the NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.

We have to look after it, and ourselves.

Happy Sunday x

It’s a New day….

What else is there to write about today other than the year ahead and the year we have left.

I’ve already been jotting down goals.. There’s the usual around… being vegan for more than 5 days at a time (damn you halloumi). Drinking less wine (damn you sauvignon blanc). Budget better. (damn you H&M).

There’s the serious. Listen to David Attenborough….use less plastic. Be more aware of the hidden cruelty to animals in our every day use of items. Try and help this planet of ours! We can all do our bit.

Then there’s the time to reflect and look forward.

This year like every year it’s been a time for goodbyes for many people I have known and some that I’ve only known through friends. Women younger than me who have fought brave battles and lost, leaving families to find a way without them. Dads and husbands who have left a gap that can never be filled. Friends who have lost dear grandparents and friends who have lost a little future they had hoped for. Cats and dogs and even hamsters that have left a furry hole in hearts.

This year has also been one of happiness with new homes, new babies, new pets, new jobs, new walks, new relationships, new skills, new opportunities, new qualifications, new health, new experiences.

I think for me the most important thing year on year is to learn from the last. Much of this is not new. It’s just trying to remember and making it part of who we are while also remembering we’re human and we all make mistakes. For me some things are old and some things are new but I’ll carry forward 18 hopes to 2018.

The importance of…

1. Being thoughtful and considerate

2. Feeling less guilty.. about everything!

3. Putting my phone away

4. Stopping thinking I’m wonder woman!

5. Phoning instead of texting

6. Talking about those not with us

7. Keeping fit mentally and physically

8. Remaining calm even when I don’t feel it

9. Forgiveness even when it’s difficult

10. Reading and learning

11. Keeping in touch with friends

12. Sticking to a plan

13. Writing more

14. Creating my future instead of it creating me

15. Spend wisely

16. Cycle to new places

17. Take more photographs

And 18 is very important.

18. Should I decide to dress as an elf next Christmas then I must remember to take the shoes off before walking down the stairs to avoid a fall and a chipped elbow and many bruises!!! Still it was worth it seeing everyone’s faces in work. So 18 is .. take the elf shoes off and HAVE FUN!

Thanks so much for your amazing comments and likes and loves over 2017. It’s no over statement to say it’s you who keeps me writing. So, much love, happiness and emotional strength to you for 2018 … and of course a very Happy Sunday to you xxx

Looking back

Someone posted a photo the other day. A great photo. Alongside it he said this is why you should always look back on a walk. I thought oh.. .I rarely look back on a walk. On all my many many walks I look forward. I don’t like coming back the same way and almost always have to find a circular walk because I don’t like doing the same steps again!

I wondered what I’ve been missing! So yesterday I did one of my walks in reverse. The first thing that happened was the dogs became much more excited. It felt new to them too! Then we lost our way trying to find the secret gap in the hedge because we’d approached it from a different angle. Then we walked up the narrow hill and the trees seemed taller and the hills overwhelmed us as we climbed towards them instead of away from them. Then I saw this.

I’ve never noticed it before. Because I’ve approached it from the other direction. Filled with history and a past that I can only imagine I looked at the old building with the castle to its distant left and was amazed that I haven’t actually seen this before.

I suppose what I’m saying and what I’m thinking going forward is to stop and think and do things a bit differently… to stop taking the same path and making the same decisions.

What could they be?? A new hair do? A phone call instead of sending the usual text? Making that card instead of buying one? Reading the book you’ve had for years but not got around to as yet. Writing a journal? Learning to play an instrument? Shopping local? Volunteering? Picking up a different newspaper? Changing your radio station? A new holiday destination?

Whatever it is. Small changes to life can make the day seem new and fresh and one with different opportunities.

With 2o18 around the corner.. . What better time to take a slightly different path. Who knows what you might see?

Happy Sunday and a very Happy Christmas xx