Rant Warning

That was the official warning: if you read after this point, it’s your own fault…

Ooh, you’re a glutton for punishment, aren’t you? *nudge*

So. It’s one in the morning, I’m recovering from the most hideous bout of flu I’ve had in recent memory, and I look and feel like something the cat dragged in, hid well, and wasn’t found until someone noticed the smell. Only worse. As a result, my self-confidence, ever a fragile thing, has vanished utterly. Even my eyes (which I’m normally slightly vain about) look, in the words of Terry Pratchett describing Albert’s eyes in Mort, ‘juugly’. I have exactly zero redeeming physical features right now.

No, that’s not the rant, and it’s not a ploy for sympathy or reassurance, I promise. Me and the demons of my looks are old buds. The rant is this:

Western. Standards. Of. Beauty.

I am forty. I am genetically predisposed to short, busty, ampleness, and too lazy to fight the ample part. The lazy also means that right now my legs could double for Chewbacca, my hair is grey (coz I think it looks badass) and growing out from the last time it got a #4 with the clippers (because I am NOT paying Β£25 to get my hair washed). I hardly ever wear make up any more, and although my nails are currently looking good, that’s because I stopped biting them seven weeks ago and haven’t started again yet. (Yes, ‘yet’. I’m a realist)

I also have, in no particular order:

  • Cellulite
  • Saddlebags
  • Bingo wings
  • Stretch marks
  • Sagging boobs, tum, and bum
  • The start of jowls
  • Wonky little fingers
  • A big nose
  • Assymmetrical ears
  • Invisible brows and lashes
  • Fat lips
  • A lisp
  • And gollum feet***

Now, half of those are genes, and half are the side-effects of various parts of living. All are…’Fixable’, and by currently acceptable standards of beauty, I should really think about it. And as regards the weight, I should for my health. But, and here’s the thing –

I. Don’t. Want. To.

And I am not in any way, shape or form denigrating those women who do – it’s your body, you need to feel comfortable in it for you.

I just wish that we lived in a society that valued Barbie-like perfection less. (And Ken-doll-perfection, too, these days!)

Human beings are wondrous things. Living, breathing canvasses. Their faces and their bodies tell tales as much as their words do. By implying that we must fit into a preconceived set of ideals to be acceptable, by buying into this notion, we rob ourselves of ourselves. 

Having said that – for some people, homogenised Aryan human is how they feel most themselves, and more power to them. For others it’s being the 97-year old lady with unfeasibly-jetblack hair and fingers full of rings. For yet others it’s being that lad who owns every team shirt in home and away colours for the last fifteen seasons.

But for me, I’m coming to realise, it’s about accepting that I’m short, fat and scruffy. Which means that, thirty-five years after I first wished it, I have finally achieved my dream and become What-a-Mess.

From the books by Frank Muir, illustrated by Joseph Wright

(That wasn’t as ranty as I expected, and was in fact more of a late-night brain fart. But ‘brain fart’ wouldn’t sound so snappy as a title. Or would it?)

***Edit:

I forgot to mention

  • Spots
  • Freckles
  • Skin tags on my neck
  • What my sister calls ‘Trans-Am wheel arch nostrils’
  • Regrettable taste in socks
  • A tendency to flirt too much
  • And, oh yeah, I’m hypercritical of myself 😝

Mad Skillz, Innit?

Or for this of you who don’t speak Kiera-ese/Essex-ese: I’m rather clever, no?

This week, I have Done Stuff.

Me and Google/YouTube have stripped and resealed the bath, fixed a broken arm on the dishwasher, and serviced the tumble dryer. 

I love fixing stuff. I love figuring out how stuff works. I love making things better. I think it’s an extension of why I prefer drawing or craft to gaming; I have a compulsion to create stuff and to try and leave the world changed to how I found it…I dunno, I’ve had a three-day migraine, so I’m seeing smells in 4D and the universe is all whoa, trippy…

Anyway. My next project will be fixing the downstairs loo to stop it wobbling – and maybe rigging a small invisible electrical field to dissuade Youngest from peeing everywhere but in the pan.

Fear

I don’t think…

I don’t think I can do this anymore.

I’m so tired.

So scared.

And, if I’m honest…?

So very angry.


But I can’t stop.

Can’t run away.

So I will start again and try again and love…

Again.

Found on Pinterest. Art by Sam Cannon, words by Bhudda

Linear Thinking in Seventeen and a Half Dimensions

Otherwise known as Trying To Get My Kids To Cooperate.

This morning saw HUGE meltdowns/tantrums/behavioural stuff from both boys. 

Jay is being bullied at school and Moo is…I don’t know. Bored? Having problems with his teacher? Fed up with pretending to be a human being? All of the above? Anyway, neither of them wanted to go to school. Both started self-harming (scratching, hitting their heads, in Moo’s case headbutting a door) so I decided to keep them off again.

This is not ideal. 

Firstly, because they need an education.

Secondly, I will eventually get into trouble with the school.

Thirdly, I need space.

They agreed to do school at home and I spent 45 minutes using their homework books to rough out ‘lessons’ for the day.

Time they spent working = 3-ish minutes.

Time they spent complaining = 25 minutes.

I thought that I’d found a fairly straightforward solution to a slightly knotty problem. But no.

I’ve looked into homeschooling previously, but I honestly don’t think I can do it (not being massively academic myself, plus Moo runs rings around me). In an ideal world I would, because neither of the boys deals well with the real world, and because I could teach at their pace. But I can’t.

So I looked at moving schools. The nearest school is over subscribed, and there’s no point going to a school which is even further away, because the commute is one of the stress triggers. So that’s out.

Next up was running away (one of my favourite back-up plans) but running away never solved anything… Apparently.

Net result of today: two hours on the phone to my sister (thanks, Kris!) not crying, but using Creative Anglo-Saxonisms to express my feelings, and the vague feeling that, yet again, I’ve effed this all up.

There is a solution to this problem. I will find it. I will support, encourage, defend and occasionally kick the butts of my kids. They will get the chances they need and the love they deserve.

And I will eat junk and sublimate my feelings because…Just because. πŸ˜„

No Plans

I hate plans.

I have tried many (many, many) times over the forty years I’ve been on the planet to write myself timetables on order to better manage my days, and after many (many, many, many) frustrating and fruitless attempts, I finally – yesterday, aged 40 years, one month and eleven days* – realised something key:

I do not function well with order. Structure makes me rebel. The feeling I have to do something means I will dedicate stupid amounts of time and energy to procrastination and avoidance. Net result: tasks left undone, feelings of guilt and anger, 200g of Dairymilk mysteriously vanished. Oh noes!

If my mum reads this, she will by this point have rolled her eyes hard enough to strain her optic nerve (sorry mum).

Anyway, over the last week I have been trying a new style of household management which I am calling The Benevolent and Chaotic Dictatorship. I wake up each day with a rough idea of what needs to be done, and by and large it’s getting done! I am (mostly) kindly bullying Paul and the kids into cooperating with me – the rule is, I don’t mind doing everything, but they will jolly well butt out and let me do it my way. And it works!

It’s quite difficult to mesh the needs of five people at the best of times, but when one of the five is a fluffy, aimless, squirrel-brained maΓ±ana-queen, and the other four are order freaks in need of excessive amounts of regulation and structure, it’s nigh-impossible…But me being a little tugboat towing the Good Ship Bruce about somewhat haphazardly works**.

I mean, humans being what they are, it may not be working this time next week, but hey ho. I’ve had a week (and counting) of efficiency*** and calm and feeling like I can actually Do The Thing, and that’s priceless…Right?

*Lessons worth learning take time. Or something. Oh, shush πŸ˜›

**This mental image amuses me; I just need to stop giggling long enough to watch out for hazards in the water.

***For a given and somewhat…Flexible value of ‘efficient’.

A new start

I’m doing new things in 2017; whether it’s due to turning 40 and feeling more mortal (need to start living more!), or simply because the time is right, I don’t know. But I’m making changes to me, to my surroundings, to my perceptions.
I decided last night (so technically on the first of the month) that I’m going to try and keep my blog updated regularly. Ideally daily, but life happens, so no pressure. And, so it’s not just me moaning on, I’m going to use journal prompts I found on Pinterest.

Here’s February’s…I’m starting with the 1st (ooh, rebel), mostly because the prompt for the 2nd will require Serious Thoughts and it’s not yet 6am… 

My favourite place.

I grew up in Ilford, Essex. We lived two roads away from my grandparents in a house built near the turn of the 20th century (we still had an Anderson shelter from WW2 in the back garden, but were never allowed in it: it did, however make a wonderful shelf to enable my sister and I to lean over and talk to the kids over the back fence and trade toys with them…The story of the Great Barbie Fiasco is for another time…)

Five minutes’ walk from our house was the imaginatively titled South Park (ermagerd, they killed Kenny!), a square-sided, late-Victorian public park with two playgrounds, a bandstand, a cricket pavilion, a HUGE field, a long, narrow duckpond, and (I remember vaguely from the verrrrrrry early 80’s) two little kiosk-shops selling pop, ice-cream and crisps.

South Park also had the most wonderful trees.

According to my mother, as a tiny baby being pushed round the park in the pram, I’d always wake up if the shadow from one particular lime tree crossed my face. I remember as a five- or six-year-old collecting the big, faintly sticky leaves to try and stick them together and make clothes like Adam and Eve had on on the big bible Aunty Iris had.

There was also The Spaceship: a fir or pine, I think, with a strong, straight trunk and low, curved branches. The way the foliage grew meant that inside the tree were big spaces where we could sit astride the branches or climb without being poked and scratched at by the branches. I’m not sure if it got dubbed The Spaceship due to the faintly spaceship-shape way trees of that type grow, or because spaceships was the game we always played there…

Past The Spaceship and just over a little rise, down the path past the bandstand (a forbidden territory due to the steps having caved in) and on the left was My Tree. Capitals totally justified, IMO. I think My Tree was a chestnut, although I haven’t sat under it for half my lifetime, and I may remember wrongly…But, regardless of species, this tree was special. 

I was an unhappy teenager, being weird, poor, not particularly pretty and naturally inclined to lonerishness. What I now know as depression was – in retrospect – present in me from quite a young age, and when life got too much, I’d grab a book, or a sketch pad, or my Walkman, and head for My Tree. I’d sit on the grass, back against the trunk, and get lost with Garion and Polgara or Simon and Binabik for an afternoon, or draw little cartoons and strange, ugly creatures, or listen to decidedly uncool music. And My Tree would help me (this is because trees are magic. There’s no other word for it). I’d sit down angry and afraid and lonely, and get back up contented and more certain of myself. 

I miss My Tree.

South Park also had gigantic spider plants (probably actually huge ornamental grasses or something) big enough to hide in and jump out at people; a massive, man-made hill with an oak at the top; holes in the perimeter fence which meant I didn’t have to walk to the gates…And memories along every path.

By the grotty tennis ‘courts’ was the best place for conkering with Grandad.

I had my first ever panic attack aged four, stood on the top step of the slide.

Walking the dog with Mum past the back of the cricket pavilion, and her in fits of giggles because no matter how I tried, I couldn’t say ‘feather’.

The long, straight path from the South Park Drive gate to the South Park Crescent gate where I learned to skate on those rattly, adjustable skates which laced over my shoes, and were not glittery disco roller boots, no matter how much I pretended.

Long, complicated games of pirates/astronauts/dinosaurs/princesses with Kristen and Amelia on the long hump of earth by The Spaceship (there was a bench in the middle where mum would sit and read, but could still see and hear us, so we were allowed free range).

Walking Dill, and later Sam, round the pond while they barked at the uppity Canada Geese; accidentally walking through a cricket match because I was reading; getting my chin cut open because I walked out of the bushes behind the swings without paying attention, and got clipped by someone swinging (three stitches, and I’ve still got a scar); my Nan, pockets full of little bags and a pair of secateurs, unashamedly taking clippings as we walked; falling through the ice on the pond one winter; never being allowed a ‘popeye’ from the ice cream van because they were too dear; and so on and so on…

It’s all changed now, obviously. Time and health and safety have worked their cruel magic, and when I looked it up on Google, it wasn’t the place I remember. But it’ll be that place for another kid in this generation, and in generations to come.
Which is kinda cool, isn’t it?

A Follow Up Blog

Bet you’re all agog now, right? No? Just nod and smile – I’ll go away faster that way.

Anyway.

I blogged on Monday about the lignocaine/lidocaine infusion procedure I was going for, and how I’d only read negative things about it and I was worried, etc., etc…

Well. Here’s the contrasting 5* TripAdvisor review:

OMG. Seriously, OMG.

I arrived at the hospital, got gowned up (wasn’t expecting that, or I’d have worn the ‘accidentally-flashing-my-bum’ Posh Undies), and was shown to a bed in the anaesthesia/recovery part of the hospital. Nurse Kim introduced herself and said she’d be sat with me for the whole thing. Sister Kim (two Kims for the price of one!) managed to put the venflon in one the second go, but that’s because my veins like to collapse, not because she wasn’t good at it. During this Nurse Kim had to squeeze my arm to keep my veins kind of inflated, which made me giggle.

I had ECG stickies attached and the first set of obs done – I was normal, so there’s a first! After which point Doctor Subramani arrived and did the bit where the lignocaine goes into an automatic dispensing gidget and then into me via the venflon.

And then two hours of chatting to Nurse Kim about all sorts, and occasionally complaining I had a headache or felt a bit dizzy. When that happened she’d take my blood pressure and get the infusion slowed…apparently, if given too fast, lignocaine can cause death, but I stayed away from the light for the entire procedure. Go, me!

(At one point my blood pressure dropped to 90/70 which was exciting, and made me giggly, but it bounced back quickly.)

I had to sit in recovery for 9omin to make sure I wasn’t going to accidentally die (I didn’t. Turns out I’m very good at not dying), then I was allowed home. For the next three hours I was hyperactive as a three year old on skittles, then I conked out. I think I woke up before the following morning, but TBH I can’t remember. Twitter will probably show if I did, and I’m sorry for anything I said/did/spent.

Enough of the travelogue! 

Ok, no need to shout.

Has it worked?!?

I’m getting to that bit; hush up a minute.

So. Tuesday was a bit of a washout. I felt nauseous, had a horrible headache, and all my aches and pains were worse. Bummer, right?

Yesterday (Wednesday), I had this bonkers rush of energy. I still needed my trusty stick to walk, but I went miles.  

What’s more, I negotiated both Boyspawns to a *new* optician, sorted out dinner, did bedtimes, and didn’t got to bed early OR nap during the day. I know, right?!? I went to sleep after midnight and woke easily just before six. I made gluten-free muffins without a proper recipe (and without a panic attack at my lack of recipe), packed lunches, did hugs, walked to school, came home, had shower, and even as I type this I am waiting for a bus to go to pain management physiotherapy – somewhere I’ve not been before, and I haven’t a clue whatll happen when I get there, but I’m going and I’m not panicking or ducking out.

Ok, I still have the usual pain: my back is as useless as ever, and my wrists, shoulders, pelvis and ankles disapprove of my actually doing stuff…but the constant, low-grade background pain isn’t there. 

My mood is massively better. Probably because I’m not on the hamster wheel of pain/tiredness/frustration/repeat, but I’ll take it for whatever reason. I feel optimistic and slightly more in control. Huzzah!

For some inexplicable reason, not only has the non-stop itching gone away, but the odd lizard skin has too. Weird or what?

I feel like I have my ‘me’ back: the optimistic, silly, cuddly, enthusiastic me who’s been MIA for longer than I realised.

I don’t know how long this will last. They’re giving me a follow-up call in three months, so let’s see. But whether this is three months or three days, it’s such a joy to feel like this again.

Oscar Moment:

I’d like to thank my family, for putting up with the worst and still loving me;

Kris especially for the FibroGoddessing;

My tweeps, who keep me straight and are there 24/7;

Andrea. Being my bestie is a hard job, and she is magnificent;

And Dr.S, Sister Kim, Sister Helen, Nurse Kim and Mo of the George Eliot Chronic Pain Unit. You guys have made me feel like I’m a person again. Thank you.

Jet Girl. I want this as a tattoo. ‘Adjust’ is my new motto πŸ™‚

Woo/eeeeek!/argh, etc…

Morning, my little apple dumplings.
In 90minutes I’ll be at the day unit at the local hospital waiting patiently (ha, I’m funny…no?) to have a lignocaine infusion.

This should, theoretically, do something to reset my pain receptors, and if it’s successful I may be able to come off the gabapentin (woo!) and do stuff like laundry or shopping or dancing while cooking without all of my spoons getting used up.

However, two things worry me:

First that I am noticeably crap at pain relief. I ended up going to hospital to have my teeth out because after twelve injections in my jaw, I could still feel the dentist working, so I needed the industrial-grade local anaesthetic. Also, stuff like pethidine (makes me actually howl like a dog) and morphine (earnest discussion with Hubby about smiling tigers on the ceiling) make me a bit, well, bonkers(-er than usual). What will whole-body lignocaine do? (Tune in next week, sports fans!)


And then…well, I need to make a confession…

I asked Google.

Apparently, nobody who talks on the internet has ever had a good/lasting/effective result from this procedure. Everrrrrrrr. The side-effects are weird and wonderful; the efficacy ranges from nothing to ‘meh’; and O.M.G, the escalation from this to basically smoking morphine patches while bathing in cannabis bubble bath (I may be exaggerating. You can’t get cannabis bubble bath.) is freakin’ inevitable. So what if it doesn’t work?!?!?

Well, being basically an optimist, I’ve decided to view this as a bit of a TripAdvisor thing: the reason people haven’t reported the good stuff is because they’re far too busy using their sudden influx of spoons to be glued to their web forums anymore. *Nods decisively* So there. My infusion (makes me feel like a teabag) will go great, and I will feel better. So there again.

So. *Pulls Big Girl Panties right up tight like I’m a Dedicated Follower of Fashion or something – no charge for the earworm*. I’m ready.


And I’ll see you on the other side.