Respiratory infection. More so

The infection of a few weeks back has not left. It has, in fact, shunned the antibiotics that made me feel horrible and has come back new and improved! Leaving me even more tired. So I reasoned that a second doctor’s visit was in order. It was. And I got the bigger and badder antibiotics to mark the infection’s three week anniversary (I didn’t make it a cake or buy it any candles).

So this morning I took the new and exciting tablets and I also drunk the hot lemon and paracetamol concoction that has been keeping me functioning. All was well. I then drove my daughter to school. As I was driving on to work, a sudden wave of not quite nausea, and more a sudden realisation that I was about to be very very sick hit me. I held fast. My friend’s son once vomited in the car and despite some prompt and arduous cleaning, the smell did not leave entirely for about a month. I got to work, my breathing was shallow. I opened the door, took a breath, and vomited all over my shoes. But because I had only consumed the drink of artificial lemon colour, my sick was luminous yellow liquid. Really seriously luminous. And it was all over my feet and sandals. I felt both saddened and horrified. Being covered in my own stomach contents rarely makes it into my ‘top twenty favourite things to do!’ list (am now wondering what number it would make, it was quite visually exciting!). I assessed. My feet were yellow. Not so much in the way of jaundice, it was as if I had taken neon paint and sprayed my feet. I found a tissue and contended as best as I could. Then I vomited again. Over my feet again. But this time it had the added bonus of splashing up my legs too. More tissues. Many more tissues.

Mostly if ever people are sick, I used to find it hard not to join them. Fortunately, years of parenting have improved this. Not that my daughter is a sicky type, but parenting definitely turns you into a person of stronger stuff There was, however, one diabolical incident with child and car seat. All I will share is that I am eternally grateful for the small pink bucket and spade that were in the boot of the car at the time.

Three weeks feels like a long time to have a cough for. I have had worse, but not in recent years. I miss running, I miss having enough energy to do the things that I enjoy. I am feeling incredibly frustrated with my lack of energy, but maybe I have taken on too much, maybe I have let my stress levels get too high. And I trust that my body knows what it is doing, and I have been carrying on regardless. Which I guess sometimes everyone has to, but likely listening to my body is a much better plan.

Back to work tomorrow, but will take it easy at the weekend.

And a massive thank you to my mum, daughter, Robert, Maggie, Kate, Will for all your love and support, cereal deliveries, offers of shopping, assistance with recycling, the collection of offspring and generally just listening to me moan about how ill I am. I love you all.xx

Map Point. How can I help myself be more vital?


My errant foot

A few years ago I twisted awkwardly on my ankle and made the tendon excruciatingly unhappy. It healed up within a few weeks, but how my body got used to doing certain things I found really interesting.

As I still needed to eat during this time of abject agony I had to go to the supermarket. To allay the pain, I would lean my arms heavy onto the supermarket trolley, to take some of the weight from my foot, making it a good deal easier to walk. This worked really well, and I was able to feed myself (which I always consider a win!). But then my foot got better, and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks after it had, that I noticed that i was still leaning heavy on trollies when I used them. Occasionally, even a couple of years later, I still find myself doing this. For the most part, this feels quite funny.

My body has clearly accepted the familiarity of a particular movement and without me really noticing, it continues to do it. Maybe my body has the memory of that pain so firmly entrenched within my systems, that it accepts this as a default mode. Muscle memory is usually talked about in sports or in playing of musical instruments, but it would make sense that anything that I am doing on a regular basis this could work for.

My friend Kate works for the NHS with their chronic pain team. She speaks to many people who no longer have any reason to be in pain, but they still require high-level pain medication to combat the pain that they are experiencing. After their bodies have gone through high levels of pain, their minds still imagine that it is there, even after the trauma is over, and it continues to manifest.

Maybe the mind works like this too for emotional pain. If something very sad has happened, then sometimes we can get stuck, get looped on a particular set of feelings. Even though an experience has long been over, we still carry the weight, just because we are familiar with always carrying it. Unless I consciously observe my emotional health, it is really easy to hold onto things that no longer serve me. Choosing to put these things down is important. I am allowed to walk unhindered.

Map Point. How am I preventing my happiness?



I feel pretty

Last night I was sitting in Maggie’s garden, she and her son were cleaning the decking, and I noticed my reflection in the long glass door, and it really surprised me. It wasn’t that my clothes didn’t match (always a possible) or that a bird had sporadically landed on my head (this would be impressive), it was that I looked really relaxed. And also poised which felt unusual to see.

I think it comes down to feeling pretty. It makes me smile as I say that, in a somewhat wry and self-depreciating tone. To me feeling pretty isn’t just about what I look like, it’s about how I feel. When I am confident, feeling self-assured, I feel mighty, I walk taller. And it genuinely doesn’t matter what I am wearing, or if I have makeup on, or whether my hair is scruffed up in a ponytail (although optimistically I don’t have leftover smoothie on my face, this has been a contention and no one ever tells me..and most of my smoothies contain spirulina. Which is green.) . When I feel pretty, I am pretty (irrespective of green cup lines on my face).

I guess we all have our own standard of deciding what it is that we think we should look like. From a myriad of variables, how long or short our hair should be, whether or not our clothes are on trend, or whether we are aiming for a particular physique. And I think it is generally a good thing to aspire to better, but what if that comes at a massive cost, or simply isn’t an achievable goal? I know myself well enough that as much as I might think some hairstyles are utterly beautiful, they are not for me on a daily basis. When my hair is done by somebody else, I love how it looks, but I also know that there is an incredibly slim chance of me waving my arms above my head to attempt the recreation of aforementioned incredible hair. So my hairstyle needs to be low maintenance. This could change at some point, but currently, I would hypothesise, unlikely. Because I understand this, I have much love for hairband (and also my hair!).

Having a realistic understanding of how I function is important to how I perceive myself. If I set goals that are not reachable then that is a world of sad. I don’t want to be in a position where I feel disappointed with myself, where I look at myself and see only things I have failed to do. When I look at myself, I want to see beauty that makes me smile. And that’s what I saw in the reflection last night.

It isn’t that I have changed dramatically, it isn’t because I was wearing new clothes, it’s because I am learning to feel content with myself. And now I feel pretty.

Map point. Where am I judging myself too harshly?



Denial is my sword and shield

My daughter has just had a week long holiday from school and I? I won the extreme delights of a respiratory infection. I can’t remember the last time that I was this, antibiotic requiring, ill. And it is hideous, but the somewhat odd thing was, that it took me a really long time to realise that I was actually ill in the first place, and I wondered why I went through this level of denial.

To start with I get intermittently terrible hay fever. It would likely be fine if I consistently remembered to take the tablets (I don’t), use the salt pipe and Rudolph machine (see my previous blog ‘my glorious ailment’ for a truly sterling picture of me!). However, for some reason, I have decided that I am quite clearly invincible, so daily usage is not required. Until I start to seriously suffer, which is what I thought was happening, so I started taking some meds. Then the cough began.

Now I don’t usually cough with hay fever, but with denial as my sword and shield, clearly, this was hay fever extraordinaire! A mighty beast of hay fever to be slain! So the coughing continued, and I risked using the salt pipe.

Then the tiredness crept in. Rather than attributing this to anything illness related, I simply surmised that I had been having a few too many late nights and needed a catch-up, and likely it was all just related to my hay fever. The monstrous beast was fighting hard.

Then maybe around ten days later I decided to hedge my bets. I went to see my doctor. He got the stethoscope out and put it on my back as I breathed in and out. He then told me that he needn’t have bothered with the stethoscope as apparently me breathing a little deeper than normal, he could have diagnosed me from across the room. He gave me antibiotics and told me that my hay fever was likely bad too (I knew, I knew!).  But why the denial in the first place?

I think it comes from having very many chest infections in my late teens. I had bronchitis three or four times, once it then exciting developed in bronchial flu (cue laying on the carpet, curled into a ball, making the tiniest clearing my throat sound instead of the big cough that I wanted to do, as I had shredded all muscles over my ribcage, coughing seriously hurt!!). I just no longer perceive myself as an ill sort of person, whereas back then, the onset of winter appeared to always bring cough. That lasted for, well, pretty much winter. I also rocked ordinary flu a fair few times too. I have not been doctor requiring sick for such a goodly while, I think I just forgot that it was an option. Or I was scared to acknowledge the truth.

I think that sometimes the memory of what was before can feel so similar to the present. Realising that just because something has happened before, doesn’t mean it will be identical if it happens again. In fact, it could never be identical because so many variables will be different. Including me.

But anyways,  am mid antibiotic course and now no longer need to sleep during the day in order to recharge enough to keep going. Am considering this a massive win! And clearly, this means I am better?

Map Point. Where am I expecting the past to reoccur?

My remarkable day

I have had the strangest day. I woke up in the night, massive storm outside. It wasn’t so much the noise keeping me awake as the continual flashes of lightning. It was incessant. Finally I put a pillow over my eyes and eventually got some shut eye.

I then woke up really late, even by my occasional bad standards, maybe around half past nine, and eventually got as far as breakfast. I made toast. Now usually my relationship with bread products has been all good, I eat it, it is delicious and sublimely beautiful. Okay that was too far, I have an emergency frozen sliced loaf in my freezer for when the good breakfasts run out. I then assessed the things in my fridge that could be applied to toast. My daughter opted for strawberry jam which I know was a recent buy (we made jam tarts; they were exceptional) and I opted for the somewhat slightly more suspect lemon marmalade. I clearly must have bought it at some point, but as to when that might have been.. I have no idea. I opted not to check the date, having made the rational decision that marmalade lasts a long time (its basically liquid sugar, right?) thus was all good for my breakfast topping.

Whether the citrus topping was delectable or not I never found out. On my first bite, I managed to bite and puncture my tongue, blood and mushed up toast issuing forth from my mouth. It was painful, possibly rivalling the plug that I trod on last week. But I am tough, after the blood had stopped dispensing I got ready to go out. I went back to the kitchen, and then inadvertently stubbed my little toe on my right foot on a table leg. It hurt. But was still intent to crack on with my day!

Now the previous night my daughter appeared to have mild food poisoning from a sandwich place that we frequent (that will now be getting a strongly worded letter) and when I was ready to leave the house, it appeared that I suffered the same fate. It was not happy making, but I remained optimistic! I read for a bit before dosing off to combat the feeling of ill.

I woke up later on, feeling much improved so I started making a roast dinner. This went really well, beautiful crispy fluffy roast potatoes, and all sorts of other things. Which when I reached into the oven to get them, I burnt my fingers. I was almost flippant! And I didn’t swear either when midway through my dinner I bit my tongue again. In the same spot as before, it was a proud moment.

Then my daughter wanted to watch a film, so I amazed myself by working out how to find it online and we watched it. The film was The Maze Runner and she had watched a version of it made in Minecraft. The film was somewhat more brutal, killing off one of her favourite characters at the end which led to much sobbing. And then a bit more. Then I cried too, just for a bit.

Then I fully noticed the level of catastrophe that my house becomes if it isn’t tended for a whole day and then I became massively productive, and finally got to writing this. Now am optimistic that no more injury or emotional distress will befall me for the rest of the day, but despite the days mishaps, am feeling oddly marvellous. Also today has included seeing my Mum, three enquiries for friends as to my well being, one offer of a shop run and a feeling of amazing love and productivity.

Map Point. How can see things from a different angle?



My glorious ailment

It is hay fever season. Actually, for me, there is rarely a time when it isn’t hay fever season. Mine starts when the trees blossom and ends when they have finished spawning whatever they spawn when the leaves are dropping off. A few years back I was tested at the hospital with multiple drops of things on my arm. And officially, it’s trees that cause me mischief, and also very slightly, dogs.

My hay fever didn’t emerge until I was nineteen, I escaped childhood blissfully unaware of the horrors that itchy eyes, itchy nose, itchy throat and all the other delights that hay fever would soon bestow upon me.

I was offered at the time a genetic therapy as my hay fever can get pretty bad, but for an assortment of reasons, I decided not to go with it. ‘There must be a better way’ I thought. Am not sure if better has ever truly cut it, but it has been an exciting sort of journey!

Antihistamine tablets. I have tried almost every variety of these. And mostly they work, sort of, for a few hours. However don’t take more than one each day or your doctor will get excited and send you for blood tests to see if you are frying your liver. My liver is still happy. Apparently, some will work in different seasons dependent on what’s in the air. I have no idea how true this is, but I find this method to be massively frustrating. I muchly dislike things that I am snot free and then a couple of hours later discovered that this is very much not the case!

Then there were the nose sprays. These I have never got on with, despite various assurances from the pharmacists who have sold them to me. The most scary of all was Prevalin. It smelled like minty clay, which wasn’t particularly a bad thing, what was a bad thing was that after application, I sneezed. Whilst looking into the bathroom mirror. What sprayed all over said mirror was strings of white gelatinous goo. It also landed on me. This could most utterly be the best product for hay fever ever invented, a panacea for all things allergic and I would still never use it again. The memory still triggers a slight sense of terror.

Possibly the most amusing device I have tried was something that turned me into a Christmas reindeer by the name of Rudolph. This marvellous device (its the photo with this post) has little led bulbs that you push into your nose and then after a couple of minutes, you remove said light bulbs and all is well. It was strange, It causes mass hilarity from all who see it, and it was curiously effective.

I have tried local honey, which had almost no effect, but the honey was tasty! And then I went for this pollen. This was a new one for me, but I started adding it to morning smoothies, and despite a slightly weird taste that I have got used to, this one appears to be reducing my symptoms.

I have also tried herbal type tablets. I am currently using them in conjunction with the pollen. I have no idea which is working most, or whether it is a combination of the two, but am very much enjoying a lack of hay fever currently, so am going to go with these are a good thing!

Something that was recommended to me by a friend last year was a salt pipe. It is calming to use, completely no idea as to whether or not it actually works. But I do like using it!

Any allergy complaint I have ever had in my life has always been deeply irksome. Apparently, it is when the body thinks non-toxic things are suddenly toxic. Sometimes I think that my hay fever is a manifestation of all the times that I have not been happy with myself. I have caused my life to be more difficult when actually dealing with things would have made my life easier. So all of the amusing remedies above are ways I have been treating the symptoms, and now it is time for me to address what hay fever is maybe trying to teach me.

Map Point. What am I putting off doing?

The joy of the carpark

After a recent visit to the doctor’s surgery to check out a couple of moles, the helpful nurse mentioned that I also had two skin tags on the top back of my right leg, almost bottom area and that she would freeze them off. No biggie I thought, I recalled having some verrucas dealt with in this way as a child. I figured the area to be a little more sensitive than the soles of my feet, but no skin tags that I couldn’t particularly see anyway? Win!

Not win, not win, not win! The pain or ‘discomfort’ started almost immediately, it felt like a little pinch, I can cope with this, was my initial thought. After a week one little pinch had becoming two big fat pinches that bothered me at all times. So I went back. The nurse agreed that they both looked kind of angry. She sent for the doctor, so twenty minutes and a packet of jaffacakes later, the doctor looks the angriness. And what is her opinion? More liquid nitrogen. During the process, I was composed in my language but she did offer the addendum that I could swear if I wanted. Where my brain was going was a place slightly beyond swear and had entered the realm of the unintelligible. She then told me that frozen peas would help, alongside salt water baths and some strong antiseptic cream that she gave me.

I left the doctors surgery, doing my most accurate impression of John Wayne to date and got to the car. I felt filled with an equal mixture of mirth and agony, and the shininess in my eyes confirmed this. I then drove my car to the supermarket. Pain or no pain, people need to eat! Mid shop I pondered whether or not I had been the first person to rub Lidocaine on my arse in Sainsbury’s carpark. I hoped yes, but reasoned that this world is a strange one, so went with no. The Lidocaine got me round the supermarket and for the journey home, I am just incredibly grateful that there were no small children in the car in need of a more colourful vocabulary.

I am not quite sure what insights this offers, other than leave well enough alone of things that you can barely see, and don’t let anyone with liquid nitrogen near your bottom. But should this situation ever arise in your life, the salt water bath really helped! On a more serious note, this has reminded me how important it is to look after myself and I have immense gratitude to how amazing my body is!

Map Point. How can I look after myself better?