Life

The Mammogram – A Menopausal Delight

By on February 16, 2018
mammogram breast cancer ribbon

Mammogram – what should I expect?

Why should I have one?

A mammogram is one of the central pillars of breast cancer detection and alongside regular self-examination can detect breast cancer really early giving one the best chance of a cure.  In fact, the Mammogram breast examinationmammograms they do now can detect early signs of cancer even before you can see or feel any change in the breast itself.

If you live in the UK and you hit 50 you will get invited for a regular NHS mammogram every 3 years.  The mammogram is not compulsory but as an ex-nurse and someone who believes in medicine and the scientific research that underpins it, I would urge you to seriously consider having one when you are offered it. I know there are a lot of bogus health websites out there so I would urge you to check out something that is actually based on real science as opposed to ‘woo‘.  I mean please feel free to place an onion marinated in cannabis oil in your shoe or wave a bit of rose quartz around but do it while you have a proper check up.  Have a look here at this super helpful page by the lovely folks at Cancer Research.

What to expect

I received my letter bearing the joyous news that my Valentine’s Day gift from the NHS was getting the chance to once again place my tits inside a cold x-ray machine which works in a way similar to a workbench vice.  I’m probably not selling this am I?  Bear with me.

So, Valentine’s morn I kiss my spouse goodbye and head to the mobile Breast Screening Unit which looks like the rear end of an articulated lorry and is conveniently parked in the car park at Morrisons so you can go shopping and buy yourself a nice cake or something as a treat for being brave in the unit.  I digress, having been distracted by thoughts of cake.

On arrival I was greeted by a radiologist who took me into a tiny office, confirmed my details and asked a few brief questions; had I noticed any problems and that sort of thing.  After this you get put into a small cubicle where you take your top clothing off (so make sure you wear a top and skirt or trousers rather than a dress!) and your bra and then replace one top to keep you covered.  After a very brief wait, you are then called to the x-ray room where the fun stuff happens.

After you’ve removed your top the radiologist basically positions each breast in turn onto the machine.  The first film is a top to bottom view so the breast is flatted from the top down – a bit like a sandwich toaster.  After this they do the same thing but from side to side.  The whole thing took about 10 minutes and the machine itself is automatic so once she has it in place and ready to go all she has to do is press a button.  The machine whirrs, moves up and down the breast and then releases.

I am not going to say it is the most pleasant thing and the sideways view is a bit mean, but it literally lasts less than 20 seconds.  The NHS mammogram is free at the point of delivery and it does save lives!  You will receive the result within 2 weeks.

What I am saying is – go!  There really is nothing to worry about!

 

Video:  What it is like to have a mammogram by UK Cancer Research 

 

 

 

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Life

I’ve Lost The Ability to Say “F*CK IT”!

By on January 27, 2018
gutless

Or, When did I get so gutless?

Now I know that last year, 2017, I was completely spoiled by the epic amount of world travelling I was fortunate enough to do.  I know am blessed in so many ways right down to the geographical location of my birth and my race (if not my gender!).  This alone opened many doors that would otherwise have been closed to me.  I have too many blessing to even list.  I am the first to admit that this particular blog post is pretty much a white, middle-aged, middle-class moan about “first world problems”. Frankly, most of the population of the planet has more pressing matters to attend to.

To my husband and friends who read this – no this is not about you!  Essentially it is about wondering why I’ve become totally gutless in my approach to life.

I suppose this is partly the menopause which – it is said – encourages one to sift through all your mental garbage bags.  As part of that process, I suddenly realised that most of my adult life, if not all of it, I have always done what needed to be done.  I have always taken on responsibility for meeting the needs of daily life for myself and others around me.  Oftentimes this means not being able to follow my own dreams but on the plus side, it means others can follow theirs by default.

I think that facilitating others is a laudable and generally very good thing.  If you are currently doing this, well done.  If you are currently being facilitated by someone else, well done.  Be sure to show your appreciation.  I am all for people following dreams, picking and choosing what they want to do.  I’d just like to have a fair crack of the whip myself.

I know that part of this is watching people walk away from various hideous aspects of their lives – be that a relationship or a dead end job –  and then looking and feeling so much better for it.  I can’t help thinking that I can only get out of this stagnant rut by leaping, creating a vacuum and letting that get filled.  Maybe I need a kick up the arse, some real motivation to change my daily existence.

Maybe my desire to just say, ‘fuck it’, hop in my van and only come back when others have sorted out the fall out would actually pan out OK.

 

 

 

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Life | Poetry | Writing/Creativity

Croning

By on December 27, 2017
croning

Emotions; yearning, aching,
but for what?

Both questions and answers elude me
lost in life’s fog.

I’m drowning, suffocating,
I need to expand and fly.

Instead, I continue to retreat and retract,
I diminish.
Frustration fills the void that once was me.

I have to stop.
Just stop.
Let myself breathe.
Let myself mourn for what is lost
and forever gone.
Let it go, move past, move forward, move on.

I abandon myself, falling,
into the cauldron, warm, dark welcoming.
The womb engulfs me, takes me deep inside myself.

I emerge. Cleansed.
Torn, I am repaired, replaced and reborn.

I am crone.
I am wise.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am ME.

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Life | Video

The Saga’s End! (Video)

By on December 24, 2017

I finally got around to making and uploading the final video in my tooth saga! It is exactly 4 weeks since the tooth came out. It has been a rocky old road (because for me, nothing is ever simple), but here is my final video on the matter!

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Life

The Day of the Denture is Almost Upon Us!

By on November 11, 2017
denture - dog

We are at T-13 and counting!

T – day – the day my tooth is finally gone is approaching. I’ve sat around feeling old and depressed about having to have a denture so now I have challenged myself to come up with 5 good things about having my tooth out – I came up with 10!

  1. No more pain! 6 months of gradually worsening pain will finally end.
  2. No more painkillers! No more having to take painkillers on at least a daily basis. This is even better now since even the codeine has stopped working.
  3. No more antibiotics! I have had 3 lots of antibiotics so far. Talk about developing resistant strains. Plus us girlies get lots of extra side effects from these. Enough is enough!
  4. I can finally sleep! No more waking up 2 or 3 times a night.
  5. I will not be grumpy! I’ve been such a snappy mardy cow the last week or so. Being in constant pain has reduced my tolerance threshold for just about everything other than the sh*t I have to get done to practically zero.
  6. I can go back to the gym! I’ve really tried to maintain my regular workouts but the constant pain means that a) I am knackered most of the time, and b) It’s just more discomfort I have to try to deal with. I am looking forward to getting back into a routine with this.
  7. No more dentistry!  At least for a while.  My new dentist is lovely but I have spent far too much time in his company already and he’s only been there a few weeks.
  8. Party Tricks!  If I practice I can probably flip my denture down with my tongue at random moments (probably when drunk) for the entertainment of my peers.
  9. The Fear Factor!  I can terrify small children at Hallowe’en.  (See Party Tricks)
  10. I get to tell loads of jokes about teeth.

Every cloud and all that.

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Life

Objectify Your Dentist – and other survival techniques for midlife.

By on October 20, 2017
dentist chair

I objectify my dentist.  It’s true.  He is handsome and has lovely eyes.  It is sexist and terrible.  I’m a bad person.  But it does get me through the horror and I am not just talking about dentistry.  I shall explain:

My 50th birthday present from the NHS was an invitation to come along to a van parked in Morrisons car park and have my tits flattened in an X-Ray machine.  Welcome to your 5th decade!  This was my reward for surviving half a century of existence on planet Earth.  If like me your breasts come by the handful, not the bucketful, be grateful, larger ladies have larger problems with this particular examination.  Mine?  Mine both fit on one x-ray plate.  I got off lightly.  I am also saving money for the NHS which is good considering that I am using it rather a lot more lately.

I have entered the world of the varifocal and found them wanting so it’s the glasses on the bit of string around the neck for me.  Very sassy.  I shall continue to terrify the customers at work by peering at them over my glasses in a stern and sinister fashion when they enter the shop.  Some of them actually seem to like this.  It takes all sorts.

As part of my extensive ‘stop the rot’ campaign I have given up smoking, stopped vaping, only drink at weekends and eat healthily.  That old bone density won’t maintain itself and breaking a hip whilst getting out of a chair is going to be both inconvenient and unattractive.  No one needs bones like swiss cheese.  Hence the gym.

I’d like to be able to say that as the oldest person at the gym I can objectify all the muscle men and bubble butts that visit.  Although this would take the edge off it would also, sadly, be a lie – most of my energy is focussed on not falling off the treadmill because my balance is a bit skew-whiff and avoiding a hernia.  That said, I may occasionally pause from looking like a badly cooked, sweating beetroot to admire a well-turned shoulder or pert tush because I am middle-aged and not dead.  It makes up for the horror of seeing myself in ‘all my glory’ in the full length, full-width torture mirror they have so graciously installed along one wall.

So back to my dentist.  I’ve been spending a bit of time there and dentures may be in my future.  As I write I am studiously ignoring the throbbing sensation in my recently root-canaled tooth.  I remain in denial and will probably do so until I can bear it no more.

I objectify my dentist.  He has beautiful eyes.  It gets me through the horror.  So bite me.

 

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Writing/Creativity

Midlife and Creative Desires – AKA, how I got to do this blog

By on September 2, 2017

This blog is the culmination of a few things but in the most part a nagging supportive husband and people constantly telling me, ‘you really should write’. Apparently I’m quite good at it and as midlife is allegedly a time where one can release ones creative impulses here goes nothing!

After months – or rather years – of nagging encouragement by said husband I finally started to get my act together in the form of buying a couple of books about the writing process. The first was entitled Writing Down the Bones, an astoundingly good read by Natalie Goldberg and the second The Butterfly Hours by a woman called Patty Dannm (links here if you’re interested). Essentially the main message is that if you want to write you have to write, about anything and everything. I gave it a go and this is where my pen took me.

I always used to write as a child, in fact, creative writing was one of my favourite subjects when I was at school and although I was not always that original back then I enjoyed it and had the confidence to do it. I even used to illustrate some of them with either images of the main protagonists (usually horses back then, like many a small girl I had a thing for horses!) but also with maps which were bizarrely Tolkien-esque considering I had never heard of him at that stage. I would spend hours on these maps penciling in details like forests and mountains before colouring them in. This artistic creativity also stopped at some point and although I used to be sure of when and why that happened, on reflection I am not so sure.

I can remember vividly being ridiculed for my artwork in primary school (because as we know every 5 year old is secretly Rembrandt and is just not trying hard enough!) and I had always put my lack of confidence in any form of creative work down to that, but thinking back on it I was still drawing and writing throughout my school years, and indeed after I left school. It wasn’t as if I expected anyone to read or look at my writing or art, I did it out of enjoyment for myself and then suddenly I stopped. Maybe I did get to thinking, ‘I hope no one every reads this, or views my artwork’, but actually was it that terrible? So terrible that it should prevent me from ever picking up a pen or opening a sketchbook? In fact I see plenty of creative people producing stuff I don’t particularly like, it’s all subjective at the end of the day. The only thing they actually have that I lack is the confidence and the willingness to actually do it!

So ultimately I guess it is that old feeling that what I want to do is actually not important enough to set time aside for – after all I am not producing masterpieces, a magnum opus, earning my first million or being available to meet the needs of other people. Why is it that my wanting to spend my time on doing what I want to do is considered less important or valid (by me) than doing something else? Ultimately I guess what is important is what I am going to do about it. I’ve been lucky in that I have been surrounded by a lot of brave, talented and creative women where I live, constantly a source of inspiration and also a hugely nagging supportive husband who has really made it his mission to release the creative inner me. So I guess this is the first step. Be gentle with me!

 

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