Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Medical catastrophes

So following on from the scary chest echo, a week later I was called in to the hospital again to get a 24 hour blood pressure monitor fitted. 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, to be returned at 2pm on the Sunday. I mean way to ruin a weekend!

But at least it went back before the Merseyside derby kicked off!

The nurse told me that I wouldn't notice the monitor after the first few readings, once I got used to it going off every 20 minutes. And I was told that the arm band would only go tight if my blood pressure was high, and of course as all we're doing is testing the hypothesis that I am scared of doctors, it was destined to be a painless exercise.

Of course the damn thing went off twice on the drive home. "Keep your arm still when you hear it beep so it can get the reading" Dammit...each time it went off I was at traffic lights, and then had to crawl along in 1st gear until I could move my arm again. And oh my God did it hurt...the arm band went so tight my fingers were starting to tingle.

Saturday night we had a family meal round at my you might think that a family meal is cause for high blood pressure but actually my family is pretty cool. We are one of those rare families that actually get on well and dare I say it, like each other.
Although after lots of abuse on my decision not to drink while being monitored I was in danger of being disowned by my siblings.

Many conversations were half abandoned that night at the distraction of a loud beep and a whirring noise coming from my end of the table. And the ongoing insinuations that I was breaking wind all night started to wear a bit thin even for me and my juvenile mind that still laughs at fart jokes!

4 weeks later i finally went to see a consultant to get the verdict of all my tests. And I was officially diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Now on the one hand I'm naturally a little concerned about that but at the same time was thinking "in your face Mr. White Coat Hypertension man!"

The consultant told me I had a little damage to my heart due to the long term hypertension but it's completely reversible and promptly started me on a course of perindopril. I say a course...although as he sternly told me "This isn't something you can cure with a few pills, you will be on medication for this for the rest of your life" I felt like I'd failed a test and on my own head be it!

He asked me if I had plans to start a family. No. "ok then well if you do you will need to change your tablets because you can't be on these if you are pregnant." Can I say again....No! he laboured the point for ages and ages, and I was close to saying "God! we only got together last week I have no plans to start a family any time...never mind anytime soon!"

He also told me not to read the side effects because I might get scared. My sister thoughtfuly looked them up in t'internet and told me all about it. I am potentially about to turn into a mutant. Hope I get super powers too!

After a week, I'm no closer to auditioning for the X Men. But God I'm tired. And the bad guys will scream and beg for mercy when I close my eyes and fall asleep!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The good the bad and the ugly

It took me a long time to realise that I was quite anti-social, given that I had always considered myself to be quite friendly and outgoing. It was probably when I was accepting an invitation to something knowing already that I was going to think up an excuse not to go nearer the time because it was a Tuesday night and Smallville was on.

I spent many years thinking there was something wrong with me because I didn't seem to be programmed to survive in a relationship, and then one day I just accepted that there was nothing wrong with me...I just like my own company more than most of the people - certainly the men anyway - that I have ever met in my life.

And with that realisation I happpily took the path least travelled, choosing to be single, not because I can't get a boyfriend, not because no one likes me, but because that's what makes me happy.

But all the people that kept telling me "You'll change your mind when you meet the right person" turned out to be right. And I'm trying really hard not to do a complete about turn and become all smug about it. But I feel damn smug right now!

Of course it's true that good can't survive without evil. I mean would the rebel alliance even exist if it wasn't for the Empire? Would Superman need to save the world if Lex Luthor wasn't trying to take it over? No!

So I realised this morning that I had been stood in front of the mirror in my unmatching black bra and Paul Frank monkey yellow Tuesday pants, with a big pair of green crocodile slippers on my feet, towel wrapped turban like around my head cursing myself for not having gotten round to replacing the old pretty/sexy underwear sets I'd thrown out last year on the understanding that no one would be seeing them anyway and I needed a whole host of new underwear after a random growth spurt saw me go up a bra size.

I was also aware that I was contemplating what I was going to wear when he comes over for dinner tonight...or rather - to cook me pancakes.
When I realised I'd been stood there looking forlornly at my reflection for half an hour it occurred to me that a) he really wouldn't care at all what I was wearing, coz that sort of thing really isn't very important, and b) he's not coming over for like another 7 hours...and I gladly pulled on my sweat pants and started making some breakfast!

Although this little random episode came straight after I'd had a bath, shaved my legs, plucked my eyebrows and moisturised...moisturised for Gods sake.

But I cant help thinking that I am making an extra effort because he doesn't actually expect it. He seems quite content and happy with me just as I am...I mean if he turned round to me and said "fuckin' hell you're a hairy bitch have a shave will you" I'd be throwing out the razors in a formal protest, or if he told me how rough I look when I first wake up in the morning with a hangover, I'd be thinking "hmph love me love my faults" and all those "if he can't accept me as I am then he can fuck off" "This is me take it or leave it" type cliches.
But he doesn't. He smiles at me, kisses my rancid alcohol stinking morning mouth and tells me I'm beautiful!

So while I moan about the grooming, and the having to be sociable and meet new people, it's a necessary evil, and totally worth it. I once said I didn't want to go looking for mr right, I wanted him to swing by and land next to me on the sofa...and that he did!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

Someone told me once that if you do something 21 times it just becomes a natural part of your routine.

Admittedly this was meant to encourage me to go to the gym 3 times a week for a mere 7 weeks to make it part of my new health regime a few years ago - needless to say it didn't catch on. I probably stopped after 6 weeks before I was in danger of getting too used to it and becoming a health freak.

Although I may well have spent way more than 21 days in the spa, but that's different, and since I gave up my gym membership I definitely mourn the loss of the jacuzzi.

There may well be many things I have done 21 times and just accepted as part of my normal routine. Definitely watching TV. Apparently for every 2 hours of TV you watch you increase your risk of obesity by 23%. Blimey, I'm suprised I can even lever myself off the sofa, let alone walk! I also heard a rumour that watching TV stunts your growth, I actually started shrinking at one point, but it's totally worth it; TV makes the world go round.

I'd go as far as to say that pretty much everything I know about the world I learned from TV. And if watching TV was so bad why did we have entire lessons in Primary School dedicated to watching the weekly episode of some educational kids programme. I want to call it "Mummy and Me" but that makes no sense...although may explain why teachers often got accidentally called Mummy!

But really I suppose I'm a creature of habit, I don't think I necessarily have to do it 21 times to make it a habit. I just need to like it.

As a kid my mum was always trying to get me to like new foods, I was such a fussy eater and when I liked something I just wanted to eat it all the time. My mum got sick of saying "No, you had that last night, you make yourself sick on it" and I'd laugh and think, why would I ever go off that, it's the best food ever! Then 2 weeks later the thought of eating it again would make me feel sick and it would relagated to the back of my mind where I keep food menus, for a few months.

Except Pizza right? I mean no one gets bored of pizza. If I had to make a guess at what my body was made up of it would be lager, pizza and kebabs. But the strangest thing happened when I was eating pizza for breakfast on Sunday morning and realised I'd had pizza 9 times in a fortnight...I realised I was sick of pizza. I'm not entirely sure where my fuel is coming from over the next few weeks but it would seem that my mum was right when she told me "you can have too much of a good thing".

Songs too, if I hear a song I like I play it over and over on repeat and sing along to it at the top of my voice for a week and then I think "oh God I'm so sick of hearing this song, it's on all the time, change the bleedin' record!"

And I love sitting off on the sofa on my own watching TV, I'm pretty anti-social and when I spend time with people I am secretly longing for the time when I can make my excuses to go back home.

Except once in a while I might spend an evening with someone and enjoy it so much, that I want to do it again, and again and again...until they bore me and I have to avoid them for a while.

I'll know I've met Mr Right when I've been in his company 21 times and still not got bored of him!

14 down, 7 dates to go....!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Hallmark Holidays

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of my friends that don’t like Valentines day, and it’s not because they’re single and bitter that no one is buying them cards and flowers, because actually they are in relationships. But why should we wait until Hallmark tell us to say “I love you” wouldn’t it be far more romantic if from out of nowhere your other half went out and bought you a present, or saw something and just thought “yeah she would love that” and bought it on a whim?

It was traditionally believed that Valentines Day was for secret admirers, a way of letting them know that they liked them. But in actual fact it turns out that according to the Catholic Church Valentines day is actually for people who have met their soul mates.
I’ve always complained about couples gegging in on Valentines day and making single people feel all depressed and unloved by wandering around all happy and covered in flowers and chocolates. But turns out it’s just for them anyway.

So this year I had planned a Green Wing marathon with the newest addition to my friend list. We chose Valentines Day simply because it was the next available Saturday. But as it turns out somewhere along the line we had a road to Damascus realisation that 2 slightly reclusive tv addicts that have discovered a vague happiness to watch tv together were probably a perfect match and we stopped being friends and became something way more interesting instead.

The most common response to this bit of news however was “ooh just in time for Valentines Day” and unsure what to do about this I decided to just discuss it…put 2 communications people in a relationship together and you get a lot of communicating.
Plus we pretty much think the same way so it’s almost 99% certain that whatever I think he’ll agree with. We agreed very happily not to exchange anything for Valentines Day.

Then on Friday night we met up in town, couple of his friends couple of mine and we all got talking about Star Wars and the greatest Christmas present I ever got (a Star Wars clone trooper helmet off my brother). The conversation went something along the lines of…
“Obviously my brother would’ve preferred to buy me a Storm Trooper helmet but there wasn’t any on sale”
“Oh I saw a Storm Trooper helmet on the internet for £45”
“Oh you should’ve bought it” I said drunkenly dismissive of the price
“Right hang on” he says pulling out a swanky Iphone
“are you seriously buying it?”
“yes, we’ll call it a Valentines Day present”

Arrrrgggghhhhhh! And no! I didn’t buy him anything – not even a lousy card!And I’m feeling pretty guilty that I encouraged him to buy such an expensive and lets face it particularly useless, despite how cool it’ll look in my lounge, gift for me.

But I’m sure the guilt will pass when we’re sat side by side in storm and clone trooper helmets watching the Big Bang Theory.

You gots to love us nerds!

Challenging the norm

So ok, who came up with the notion of how things should be?And why do we just accept it?
I find it’s generally accepted when it comes to relationships that the man should be tall and strong, while the woman is small and fragile and in need of looking after.

But why are men the protectors? I mean women have an inbuilt sense for protection, put a man defending his lover against a woman defending her child and I know which one I’d put my money on. Women have this nurturing instinct that makes them protect their family at all costs, so how does that make the male the dominant gender? When something scares me, my initial thought is “I want my mum” not my dad or a boyfriend, my mum (or in the absence of my mum, my sister). My mum rocks! She picks up spiders in her bare hands and everything!

So ok, for years I have had this thing about tall men…most of my friends like tall men too – but they’re mostly short themselves so tall by their standard is anything over 5’4”. My first boyfriend was 5’4”. He was my first love so I didn’t much care about things like that. I just adored him. After we split up someone told me they’d thought we had looked kinda silly together so I bought my first pair of high heel shoes and declared I would only ever go out with someone that was taller than me.What makes it look silly though? Do I look silly walking down the street with short girls? No. I would guess not. We all come in different shapes and sizes so who decided the man had to be the tall one? And why do we buy into that as normal?

I’ve been out with several tall men since then, and frankly they were all wankers! That may or may not be related to their height of course!

The most stupid thing though is the prejudice we have to ginger hair…now seriously…ok I have on occasion made some comments about ginger hair for the amusement of myself and my peers but I am a reformed character. Because seriously, we have equality and diversity laws that make it illegal to discriminate people for the colour of their skin, their religion, their ability or their gender/sexuality – and yet it is widely acceptable to take the piss out of gingers. And what’s so wrong with ginger anyway? Seriously, when you think about it, I mean if you’re painting a picture who wants boring murky brown when they can use bright happy orange? Seriously?

Presumably it’s to do with it being a minority and we seem to distrust anything that goes against the norm. And you know what? In my experience the first thing that seems to come out of the mouth of people in taking the piss out of the red heads is "eeeeh ginger pubes" Not being funny right...eeeeh pubes...who cares what colour they are???

And finally the whole single thing…I mean what is actually wrong with being single? It seems to be a universal truth that everyone needs to be in a relationship…Women talk about finding a rich man to take care of them…I'm often being questioned about why i'm single, what's wrong with me, why can't i get a boyfriend...I get pitied...because obviously we all need to be in a relationship...Well that’s nonsense. Women don’t need men, I mean ok that doesn’t mean they don’t want one. But we don’t need them. We don’t need looking after…I’ve been leading the charge for being single lately, not wanting to settle, not wanting to lose my sense of who I am, and not wanting to accommodate another person into my life. And I stand by it. I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy.

That’s not to say however that if the perfect man presents himself to me I’m going to be childish and stamp my foot and stubbornly say “nope” coz that would be silly. Finding someone who’s just right would be great, assuming you know what it is you're lookng for...and maybe you don't even realise what it is you're looking for until you find it and think "ah that's what i'm looking for". It’s just that it’s a big wide world with millions and millions of people and finding the right person that you could happily spend your time with, share your sofa with and put in charge of the remote control is surely to God like finding a needle in a haystack? And be able to actually share your innermost thoughts in the safety of not being judged, or God forbid it…changed…well does such a man exist?

Well actually yes he does! And i'm now in a scary world of confusion just wanting to hang out with him all the time, when i've been resolutely happy sitting alone on my sofa with my TV for company. But combined with that terrifyng prospect that i might never be single again. Luckily i'm not the only one of us that thinks that way so we should both be able to maintain the good points of being single with the good points of being together.

And guess what...he’s short AND ginger!

No Good Ever Comes From Going the Doctors.

I've always avoided doctors like the plague!
My theory was that nothing good ever came of going to the doctors. If I was desperate I’d occasionally enter a walk in centre, but as far as possible as long as I had some ibuprofen and some Beechams I could pretty much cure myself of anything.

Of course some things you can’t ignore. A routine smear test for example. Having had 2 botched attempts from walk in clinics I eventually went to my GP practise and while I was there my blood pressure was taken and was through the roof.

I went back 2 months later and as it was still very high and given my family history (dad had quadruple heart bypass and my brother had a stroke) my GP sent me immediately to hospital.

Unfortunately it was 8pm and I had to go to A&E.
A&E?? with high blood pressure? I kid you not.She gave me a letter to hand in, and the triage sister looked at me in disdain “so what? High blood pressure? That’s it?” I shrugged and nodded. “take a seat”

I sat on that chair for 11 hours. Now ok I could understandably have a good old moan about having to wait 11 hours, but that’s not the fault of the people on duty. I was neither an accident nor an emergency and those ambulances, they just kept coming.
Finally a doctor comes to see me. He takes my blood pressure – which as my body was gradually falling asleep was probably not quite as high as it had been at a normal more awake hour. He did all kinds of tests on me, checked my eyes, my ears, my reflexes, and eventually said “it might just be white coat hypertension” I waited 12 hours to be told I’m scared of doctors??

“we’ll order lots of tests though just to make sure” he says and wanders off. I have an ECG done and I provide a urine sample. And then I am handed a request form asking for further tests that I have to get done by my GP, including a 24 hour urine test. This means I have to capture a sample very time I go to the toilet in a 24 hour period. I was informed I would get the container from my GP.
Except my GP doesn’t have them. Apparently only hospitals have them. I phoned the walk in centre and asked if they had them. Yes they have them! So I went along to the walk in centre to request a container. They hand me a normal urine container. I explained what it was I needed and they looked at me like I was stupid. Apparently only the GP has them.
So who has what? And why isn’t it common knowledge amongst the various departments in the nhs? On top of all that I was called in for a chest echo or echocardiograph. This is basically an ultrasound of the heart. Feeling rather exposed and vulnerable I listened to the sound of my blood flow and looked at frankly disturbing images of my heart on a grainy black and white screen. And when it was all over I asked “so was it ok?” “oh I can’t give you the results I have to give them to the doctor” Wait a minute…aren’t we supposed to have some right to know what’s going on?? She then added “it’s nothing to worry about”Is that, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about or, there’s nothing that can’t be fixed to worry about???

And so the tests keep on coming. Do they treat me for high blood pressure yet, or is the blood pressure a symptom of something else?

In the meantime I am ignoring the urine test request. If that doctor still wants me to do it he can bleedin well provide me with the pot to piss in!