Tag Archives: #health

Hips, tunnels and music

I’ve had a problem with my right hip for a while (OK, about 12 months) and after a particularly bad day a few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and went to see the GP. I’m not a fan of going to the doctors. I always take the kids without much hesitation, erring on the side of better safe than sorry when it comes to their health. With my own, I’m less conscientious and always expect to be made to feel like I am wasting their time. I don’t know what this is based on, as I’ve never had a bad experience and have always come away feeling generally happy with the care and the outcome of a visit.

The GP examined me quite intensively (at one point making me yelp) and agreed that there was definitely something going on. She suggested it may be Trochanderic Bursitis which is (in simple terms for any other lay persons out there like me) inflammation or irritation of the padded bit around the hip joint. She had suffered with it herself at one point and it eventually cleared up on it’s own. Having witnessed the yelping she was kind enough not to send me away on the basis of her own experience and suggested that physio may be in order. I mentioned that K has private medical insurance through work and she immediately suggested an appointment with an Orthopaedic Surgeon for a more specialised opinion and if physio was needed this would also be covered by the insurance.

I love the NHS; I think it is a fantastic institution and am eternally grateful for all the times that I, and those that I love, have been the beneficiary of it’s care. However, faced with a potential wait of another 6 months to see a consultant and the inevitable wait for a scan and then another appointment was not appealing, now that I had finally got the ball rolling. I called BUPA the next day and was given an authorisation code. Within a few days I had a letter from our local private hospital with an appointment for the following week.

I saw the consultant last Friday. He agreed that I do have some symptoms of bursitis but that I also have symptoms that don’t fit with this diagnosis. He suggested an MRI would be a good starting point and, once we see what it shows up, he will decide on a course of action. Like all good consultants he didn’t speculate on other possible causes. I wouldn’t like to play poker against him (even if I knew the rules).

The MRI was duly booked in for the following Wednesday (yesterday) after much joking with the receptionist about it being Valentines Day and surely I would be being wined and dined. Oh, how we laughed. She booked me in for 7pm.

I am not a fan of enclosed spaces; I don’t like sitting close to people; I have to have an aisle seat at the cinema and theatre. An MRI? I wracked by brains to remember back to episodes of ’24 hours in A&E’  – was the MRI the tunnel one or was that the CT scanner? I was pretty sure the MRI was the tunnel one. She gave me a leaflet. It was the tunnel one. Oh hell.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep too well on Tuesday night (massively exacerbated by the full-caff coffee which the hopeless waitress at the pub where I had dinner with my friend “kindly” gave me instead of the decaf that I’d ordered) and by teatime on Wednesday I was pretty anxious. K kindly chauffeured me and metaphorically held my hand until it was time to go in. Gowned up and procedure explained to me by the very patient technician I was ready to go. Luckily, as it was my hip/pelvis being scanned I didn’t have to go in all the way. My head poked out by a few centimetres. I had ear plugs in, ear defender headphones with music playing (I could have taken a CD) and a panic button in case I, well, panicked. The fact that I was given a panic button made me slightly more panicked than I would have been if they’d said, “you’ll be fine, we’ll be right outside”. The fact that a panic button is sometimes necessary worried me. The noise, the vibration, the length of time it took, along with the panic button gripped in my vice-like claw made the whole experience almost unbearable. The music helped a bit. I quite liked some of the songs (a weird mash-up of One Republic/Hosier/The Script/One Direction (why?) like some strange boy-band compilation) and counting how many songs had passed with an average duration of 3 minutes each was a good puzzle for my poor, tired, emotional, overwrought brain. It was over in about half an hour; but it was a long half an hour.

I am back to see the consultant next Friday to find out the results and to see what the next course of action is.

 

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Hunting for happiness (a work in progress)

“Everyone you meet always asks you if you have a career, are married or own a house, as if life was some kind of grocery list. But nobody ever asks if you are happy”.

I saw this quote this morning and it made me think. The person who said it (the late actor, Heath Ledger) was maybe feeling a bit jaded by being asked the same things by journalists all the time. But I see his point. We meet someone new and one of the first things they ask is “What do you do?” – meaning what job/career. I used to dread this question when the kids were small as I always found myself making excuses for being a ‘stay-at-home mum’ (awful expression, but infinitely better than ‘full-time mum’ – as if being a mum is something you take off, like a cloak, when you leave the house to go to do a paid job). I wasn’t embarrassed to not be working (it’s not like it’s something to be ashamed of) but quite often I was made to feel that I had to justify it “but what do you DO all day?” was the most common question. I gave up answering and became very adept at deflecting conversation away from myself, a habit which I have found hard to shake off.

But I am getting away from the point. It does seem that we are more interested in peoples jobs, marital status, number of kids, where they live. Of course, it’s far easier to ask someone about these things when you are meeting for the first time, or if you don’t know them well. It’s not the norm to ask someone about their state of mind. “Are you happy?” would be a bit of a weird conversation starter, but I’m not sure why. When we were kids, my parents always used to dread running into a certain neighbour because they would inevitably ask them how they were, and then be there all day listening to the never-ending list of ailments they were suffering from. Not really what you want when you are in a rush to get somewhere. When I bump into someone I know or meet up with a friend, the most natural thing in the world is to ask “How are you?”. Very rarely do I hear (or, in fact, give when asked myself) any response other than “OK thanks”. People rarely launch into a lengthy monologue of all that is not right in their world. If it’s a close friend that I know well, it’s generally easy to pick up on tone of voice and a follow up of “Are you sure?” is sometimes required to get the true answer.

Is asking someone how they are the same as asking if they are happy? It’s not, but in our reserved, British, stiff-upper-lip way it’s probably as close as we’re going to get. There’s a world of difference between being OK and being happy. Being OK takes a little work, but not much. It’s just ticking over, getting on with it, being OK. Being happy takes more effort. As my blog name suggests, I am still working on it, hunting out the happy moments. Day to day I am OK: I have bursts of happiness, flashes of “ah, that’s lovely”, life-is-good moments. But, it’s hard in the day to day –  school runs, work, washing, food shopping, cleaning, cooking – cycle of life to be happy all the time and to find the happy moments in the mundane.

How would it feel to be asked if you are happy? Would you feel awkward saying yes, as though it’s admitting that you live in some sort of utopia – I know I would – and that you are being a bit smug. Perhaps that’s just me. Or is the opposite that stops us asking? How would you deal with someone saying that, no, not really, they’re pretty unhappy actually. Again, I suspect it depends how well you know someone, but if it’s a good friend you would surely have an inkling that all was not well, through just chatting and being part of their world. But, we all keep parts of ourselves hidden; we all keep some things to ourselves. I have a friend who is a big over-sharer but even she has stuff going on that she doesn’t like to talk about.

My lovely girl starts sentences very often with “I’m so happy, because x has happened”. She’s not being smug or showing off, she’s sharing a happy moment and expressing that happiness. Quite often it’s something small like finding out that the book she is reading has a sequel. But to her it’s a happy thing and she wants to tell me. I love it. If I asked her if she was happy she would probably say “yes”. I hope that she doesn’t grow out of seeing happiness in small things and maybe I can learn a bit from her.

I don’t think I will suddenly begin asking everyone I meet if they are happy. But it has certainly made me think about my own response when asked how I am and about looking for those small moments. Keep hunting the happiness.

 

 

My poor old brain

I’m still doing my old job. Even that sometimes takes some thinking about, although mostly I am on auto-pilot, and this week has been particularly challenging in that department alone. The difference now, when faced with a challenge when I am wearing my old job hat, is that I am expected to sort out my own issues, wearing my new job hat, rather than asking D, because in a few weeks’ time I will be expected to resolve things for the person who will be doing my old job.

That is fine and I like sorting problems out but combine this with other new tasks that I have already taken on (and am learning pretty quickly, even if I do say so myself) and my brain is starting to hurt.

I am thoroughly enjoying the new stuff. Some of it I have touched on in the past, so it is not entirely alien, but doing it ALL is quite daunting and I am actually having to think. 

I am asking lots of questions, making sure I am on the right track. Sometimes, I am answered with a “you just sort of know” response. What? What does that even mean? I have had the expression “soft knowledge” mentioned and I have to say this worries me. D has been doing this stuff for 10 years. He Just Knows Stuff. I have been doing my old job for 7 years and I suppose there are a few things you Just Know but not really. I don’t really know what to do with this. I am a processes person. You click this button and this happens. You tell the customer x will happen and you make x happen by doing y and if needs doing as well you just do it. You don’t “just know”.

In other news, we have offered my old job to a new person. Hopefully, they will stick at it (we don’t have a great track record at choosing the right people – present company excepted of course) and they will love it (?) as much as I have.

More ch..ch…ch…changes are coming as this process progresses. More things to learn, more people to get to know and hopefully eventually I will “just know”. I wonder, can my poor old brain cope?!

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Review

It’s human nature to reflect back and look forward when one year ends and another starts. Ditching resolutions was one of the the best things I ever did (along with ditching the scales and ditching Facebook) but I still like to take stock and this new year was no exception. 2017 wasn’t too bad on the whole. Unlike 2016, there were no sad losses of loved ones; no broken bones; no upheaval of starting secondary school – nothing to throw off the general equilibrium of life. It was all pretty plain sailing and we made some happy memories and had some lovely times. Of course, there were rows, down times, frustrations and upsets but nothing major in the grand scheme of things. A Good Year.

As we start 2018, I am feeling almost calm and – dare I say? – positive. Last year I took up a photo challenge and this year it is being done again and I am fully on board. It ties in so well with the “no resolutions, no mad diets and no crazy exercise regimes” philosophy and I loved it last year. It’s under the hashtag #SavouringJanuary2018 on Instagram – you get a different word each day, which you interpret as you see fit and post a photo if possible. Not every day if you don’t want to but, by using the hastag, other people can follow your posts and you can see theirs. It makes me think about January in a different way and it’s a great way to start the year. It’s not a brag-fest, not showing off how wonderful your life is, just taking a simple word like “Still” and thinking about a relevance in your day and taking a picture to represent it. Simple but really effective.

That’s not the reason why I am feeling calm and positive. I don’t know why I am feeling this way, I just am. For now. The pessimist in me is muttering that it won’t last. Let’s ignore her, she’s a pain in the arse. I think that taking things easy this Christmas has helped. We normally have family here both days (as we did this year) and then also end up travelling up to the midlands a couple of times in the space of the week. This year we did that early and the rest of the time we have been at home, pottering about, not doing much. Not trying to fill every spare minute DOING SOMETHING. The kids still have another day before they go back to school; I am working from home and K is home early. It’s all still quite chilled (that word again). Mealtimes are still whenever, whatever; no-one needs to be anywhere by a certain time; there are no deadlines. The calm, positive feeling may change when school starts again on Thursday. Watch this space.

Not only am I thinking about my world at home – my real world, the only thing that really matters – but on Thursday I have a Job Review. My boss emailed me before Christmas suggesting it may be a good idea to have one as we haven’t had one for a while (more like never before), just to talk about my role and the good and the bad from both perspectives. I’m not sure how I feel about it. In Creature of Habit I talked about feeling a bit tied to my desk and wanting to make a shift in the way I work. I can’t deny that I find my job a bit tedious at times, that I wish for something to happen to shake things up. But I don’t know how to get this across, or even if I should, at a Job Review. Does a boss ever really want to hear that their employee is feeling a bit stagnant? Especially when it’s in a company of 5 people where there’s not much opportunity to diversify or try something new. I don’t know what to expect or what is expected of me. Of course, I have had plenty of Annual Reviews over the years, and have been on both sides of the table. I’ve helped K fill out his appraisal forms, to ensure he gets the tone right (and sometimes his spellings – he’s terrible at spelling. Mental maths – almost genius, but spelling, uh-ah) and I was never scared to put myself forward for more responsibility. But, this is different somehow. I will let you know how it goes.

Looking into 2018, we have things to look forward to. There are, of course, things to ponder* on: T sitting his GCSE’s; the extension; the Nan situation. There will be obstacles. There will be upsets. There may be be sad times. But if I can keep calm, stay positive, worry about the big things (and only the big things), keep laughing, then it will be OK. Here’s to a New Year.

*notice I said “ponder” and not “worry”. I’ve spent too long worrying about stuff that often didn’t happen or when it did it wasn’t such a big deal after all. Let’s try and have less of that.

Unexpected Happiness and The Golden Hour

I was waiting for the New Year to start afresh with The Happiness. Not a resolution as we know I don’t make them anymore. But, like with the diary, a clean slate in my thinking. talking to a friend yesterday, I realised that if I wanted to make a new start and think Happy again I could just do it now. I’ve heard about gratitude journals and how they can make you think about small things each day that have made you happy or grateful or just made you smile. I get too bogged down in which pen to use, which notebook to write it in. I tried the You app which asks you to use photos to represent moments of happiness. It’s not always easy to find or take a photo to do this. Like most things, I’ve let it slip.

Something else I talked about with my friend was the work thing, feeling tied to my desk, not being flexible and not working the way I used to work. I couldn’t give any reasons why I’ve got into this rut, this mindset, so we decided that as there was no valid reason for it, it should be easy to change! We came up with “The Golden Hour” – time set aside each day (where feasible) to spend doing something I like: a walk, sit and read a book; go out for a swim (not sure I like that really, but it sounds do-able); coffee with a friend. And not to think of it as wrong, something to feel bad about, because I can make the time up later – when I would normally end up sitting watching TV. I tried this yesterday and switched off my laptop around 7.30pm. I’d managed to solve some queries from customers who, like a lot of people, work 9-5 and can’t send emails during the day. They were happy to get a response straight away, it felt good.

Sitting here this morning, I feel a little bit lighter, a bit less tied to my desk. K is hoping to get back from work early and, if he does, we’re going to go to Aldi and do the pre-Christmas food shop – the stuff that can be bought in advance – and then we won’t have to go out tonight to do it. And I won’t feel guilty because I will make up the time later.

I’ve already had some happy moments today (and it’s only 10.45a.m.). K and I have both still got this cold/cough thing. Normally, we would have been grumpy with each other, taking it out on each other, comparing levels of illness. I don’t know why, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s him, maybe it’s just that we’re growing up (finally) but we have been kind to each other. I lost my sense of smell and (far worse) taste over the weekend and it’s made me really fed up. I love food. I love cooking. Not being able to smell or taste what I’ve cooked is torture – how anyone copes with this long term I do not know. Some people would lose their appetite, but if you know me at all, you will know that this NEVER happens to me, so I have continued to cook and eat, but with no pleasure at all. K has been very sympathetic and we have kind of jollied each other along when we have been feeling crap. And not in the usual “get a grip” or “stop making a fuss” kind of way. This morning, I could just about taste my granola. Now, I wouldn’t normally eat granola – I’m a toast girl all the way – but we didn’t have any bread and because I didn’t think I would be able to taste it, it didn’t seem to matter. But I could, and it was the happiest moment I’ve had for days. Fingers crossed the senses return completely to normal in time for Christmas Dinner!

Another unexpected source of happiness is my bird feeder. When I was given it for Mothers Day two years ago, I didn’t expect to get many, if any, birds on it. It’s been pretty sporadic over the time and we have had flurries of activity then periods with no visitors at all. The last two days, however, I’ve had a gorgeous little Robin (Mum and Nan would not be happy – apparently they signify illness, that’ll be the colds and coughs, then) and a Blue Tit coming regularly to grab some food before flying off. They don’t stay long but it’s lovely to see a flicker of movement in the corner of my eye and I stop and watch them until they are gone again. It’s lovely and it makes me smile.

**Additional “happy” moments later during the day: –

Talking to lovely Miss T on the phone and hearing all the exciting plans for Christmas with Little Miss, who at 3 years old is REALLY into Christmas!

Getting a postcard from A’s maths teacher telling us how hard she has been working and what a great result she got in her last test. This is amazing news as maths has always been her trickiest subject. I really couldn’t be prouder.

 

 

 

 

Limbo time

I always find these few days in the run up to Christmas a bit hard-going. I’m generally sorted gift-wise; the cards (those that I still send) are written and I don’t have much else to think about, EXCEPT:-

  1. The Food Shopping. I hate food shopping. The rest of the year I order our weekly food shop online – unless we are being even more careful money-wise and then we alternate with an Aldi shop fortnightly – because I hate supermarkets. I hate pushing a trolley around, not knowing how much it is all going to come to, having to unload it all, pack it all, unpack it all. I still have to unpack the delivered shopping but not having had the trauma of actually going to the supermarket makes this slightly less arduous. However, ever since the year when we had snow right before Christmas and my online shop couldn’t be delivered, leaving me massively in the lurch, I have erred on the side of caution and taken the decision to GO TO THE SUPERMARKET. I order a turkey from our local Sainsbury’s and as I have to go and pick that up I get the rest of the stuff, that couldn’t be bought in advance, at the same time. And, because I always tell myself it will be hell on earth, it is sometimes almost bearable.
  2. Keeping everyone safe. In the run up to Christmas, much like before any other big event (birthdays, holidays), I worry about people even more than normal. I worry that they will be ill and not be able to enjoy the event. I worry that someone will be hurt. I don’t like anyone going anywhere too far away and won’t really relax until everyone has finished work/school, are safely home. I particularly dislike anyone having to go anywhere on Christmas Eve. School finished last Friday. This is good, except of course I can’t keep the kids locked up in the house until Christmas Day. In fact, T is up in London today. Bloody London. I know, I know, we MUST NOT let threats of terrorism stop us living our lives and London is probably one of the safest places to be, with the increased police presence, etc, etc. He is visiting the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street and New Scotland Yard with his cadets group so it’s an amazing experience and opportunity for him. But, I will not really be happy until he is home later. I love the Find Friends app as I can check in at points during the day and know where he is. Not in a paranoid, stalker-ish way, just interested to see where he is. A has gone over to her bestie’s house for a few hours and a mooch around the shops. I do the same with her – I like to know she is where she is supposed to be. Not every minute, just every now and then. It makes me feel reassured.
  3. Baking. A likes to make Christmas Biscuits, and last year we bought a mould that you can bake a series of increasingly bigger sponge cakes in to make a tree so she wants to make that again this year, and then there is the Christmas Cake itself to decorate. I have to make sure we have all the correct ingredients – see Food Shopping.
  4. Wishing I wasn’t working. As soon as the kids have finished school, even if Christmas Day is a matter of days later, I always wish I wasn’t working. There is so much I would like to do. I would like to go to the cinema, visit my Nan, go for a walk. I can only do these things when I have finished work and because I generally use all my holiday entitlement during the rest of the year, I rarely keep any for Christmas. Because I can (and do) work from home, it seems a waste of days to take them as holiday between Christmas and New Year. But I always forget about the run up to Christmas, these few limbo days when it would be nice to be able to do stuff. But, I am working and so they will have to be squeezed into my Friday and snatched hours that will need to be made up later. I really need to get to grips with this in the New Year. No, I’m not suggesting a resolution, just something to sort out.
  5. Hoping that it doesn’t snow. This pretty much goes hand in hand with number 2. If we get snow it will stop people visiting, make life harder, make things unsettled and plans will go awry. I don’t like plans going awry, but I especially don’t like it at Christmas.
  6. Hoping I haven’t forgotten anything. See Food Shopping, Baking.
  7. Wishing it was Christmas Eve tomorrow. I love Christmas Eve, probably more than the day itself. I love getting the presents out and putting them under the tree, filling stockings – yes we still have stockings hung on bedroom door handles to be filled overnight ready to open on our bed on Christmas morning. I love being at home, all cosy and safe and thinking about Christmas Day. We normally try and go out for a walk and a drink at the pub, sometimes with my brother and his family. As much as I would love to go to Midnight Mass (I don’t go to church unless for weddings or funerals but I love the idea of Midnight Mass) like every other year I will get home from our walk and not want to leave the house again. Maybe this year. But I doubt it.
  8. Watching Christmas Films. When the kids were small I loved watching Christmas Films with them. The Polar Express is my absolute favourite. I have to confess to not having seen many of the old classics. I have never seen Miracle on 34th(?) Street (I don’t even know for sure which street it is!) and last year was the first time that I watched It’s A Wonderful Life. But, I love Polar Express and Elf and Nativity. I love Love, Actually but that’s not one for small kids (or even teenagers really – Martin Freeman in the porn film bit – awkward). Unfortunately, as the kids have got older their tolerance of Christmas Films has waned and I find myself longing for the days when they were small again just so I can watch without feeling a bit daft.

Hopefully, the next few days will fly by – if today is anything to go by, they won’t – and it will soon be the magical time. And then in a blink of an eye it will all be over! So much planning, thought and effort for such a short time. But it’s worth it.

Patient/ce

A has got a bad cough and cold. When she was really little she suffered from coughs A LOT. She wasn’t unwell apart from the cough, but it would keep her (and consequently us) awake all night and leave her feeling really poorly. Luckily, as she got a bit older the frequency went from every few months to a couple of times a year to almost never. My kids are rarely unwell (amazing really, as I was told so often by various ‘helpful’ people that I was harming their immune systems by bottle feeding them) so when they are it is a bit of a strange time.

I’m not a great nurse. I used to dread when they were small and there was talk in the playground of this bug or that doing the rounds. I used to brace myself. I’m not unsympathetic – I can do good hugs and wiping of brows. I can provide hot drinks and hot water bottles and chicken soup. I can do this for a day or two. It was worse when they were really small as I had that logistical nightmare of ‘the school run with a poorly child’ where the non-poorly one didn’t want to go with a neighbour and the poorly one didn’t want to be left in the car for a few seconds while the non-poorly one was whizzed into the playground. And they always seemed to be ill when something was planned. A bit like snowfall, an ill child is always, well, ill-timed. My 40th birthday is a case in point. Unusually, it was during school time – all 39 previous birthdays had always fallen during half term, but someone decided her Diamond Jubilee was more important than my birthday and half term got moved to a week later in the year of my 40th – so both kids were due to be in school. A developed one of her bad coughs the day before, so my planned indulgent day with K went a bit awry. Thanks to kind and helpful G&G we still managed breakfast out and she was well enough for a meal out in the evening, but it’s still one of those occasions that will be marked with a “Poor A was poorly that day” memory. Like when we had snow the day we’d planned to go to Ikea to get a new wardrobe and we had to wait another month to get chance to go again. I don’t hold grudges against poorly children but I really detest the white cold stuff.

I think as both the kids and I have got older I have, maybe, become a bit more patient. Whether the ‘big break’ last year has any bearing on this, I don’t know, but I think it did teach me that you can’t plan for illnesses/accidents and that you have to take each day at a time.

A is a great patient. She’s not very demanding. She’s happy to lay in bed and read and watch YouTube or, as she said yesterday, “just lay in bed and watch CBeebies because when you’re ill you feel little again”. She did have a mini-meltdown yesterday evening thinking she would never feel well ever again and her sides hurt from coughing and she was just so tired from not sleeping. Last night she slept so well that when I had my usual 4am awake time, I lay worrying, convinced that she had taken too many paracetamol.

What I worry about a lot when the kids are poorly is that K will catch it. I don’t really mind if I get it, I’m a bit of a soldier really and like to pride myself on not wallowing in it. But unlike the kids, he is NOT a good patient. He will be well enough to go to work – of course! – but the minute he gets home he will take himself off to bed and wallow. Am I being harsh? Probably a bit, but he does epitomise the cliche of the man with ‘man-flu’. He was brought up to take Lemsips and Hot Toddies when he was ill and it’s a hard habit to break. I am of the school of thought that you should take a couple of paracetamol and stays at home in the warm and ride it out. And don’t get me started on people that say they have flu when they have a head cold. If you’re not laying in bed sweating and shivering with achy limbs and a high fever that lasts for days/a week then you have a head cold.  A head cold is not flu. Consequently, K is ‘encouraged’ to get his annual flu jab as early as possible. At least that’s one thing ruled out.

A is feeling a bit better today. I can tell this because she is starting to be irritating and her eyes are starting to get their sparkle back. My dad always used to say to my brother and I that he could tell we were feeling better after a bout of being poorly when we started arguing or winding each other up. Arguing over the remote control? “Oh, I can see you’re feeling better.” My kids are no different. And this is when my patience will start to waver.

She’s just asked when am I getting her lunch, and do I have any cake in the cupboard? I reckon she could be headed back to school tomorrow……

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