Monday, 31 May 2010

May Book Review

The White Queen – Philippa Gregory
I’ve come to a realisation over the past few months. I would never have had myself down as a reader of historical fiction but it would appear it has snuck into my repertoire what with CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series and last month’s horrendous Wolf Hall.

I have never read a Gregory before and I have to say she’s going on my list now. Mainly because it’s so easy to read. The problem with the above books was that you felt you needed a PhD in Tudor History just to understand what was going on. With this book it really wouldn’t matter if you didn’t know the historical background, which is a good job because the Plantagenets I know nothing about. As the book wore on, vague recollections of Richard III and the Princes in the Tower came back to me but they’re really not important, you can just roll along and enjoy the book.

This is little historical fact. Do I really think witchcraft was involved in causing Richard III’s arm to wither? Erm no. (And that’s without the whole real-life historical debate about whether there was a withered arm or not.) Basically it’s set in ye olde times and features real-life people from ye olde times, the rest is fantasy baby.

And it was a brilliant read, entertaining and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the others in this latest series as well as her other, older books.

Duma Key - Stephen King
I’ll hold my hands up and admit my bias here. I love this guy. Can’t get enough of him. In fact I think somewhere in the realm of stored up blog posts I have a whole post about him because it’s kind of ridiculous how many of his books I have.

So. It’s about a guy who is in a near fatal accident, loses his right arm, mashes up his leg, marriage breaks down and he heads out to a seaside house in Duma Key where he takes up painting.

But wait. This is Stephen King. It can’t be as straightforward as that. And it isn’t. Strange things happen on Duma Key and when his paintings seem to take on a life of their own, the spookiness and scariness begins. Hard to say more without giving it away or just copying out the dust jacket.

It was great. I loved it. I got ridiculously scared in parts of it – hello, little girl ghosts coming up the stairs? No thanks. But mostly just laid back and enjoyed it – it was my faithful companion in hospital.

Teatime for the Traditionally Built – Alexander McCall Smith
Whilst in hospital I wasn’t up to reading anything hardcore so I turned to this guy to keep me going. Another probably biased review because I’m a huge McCall Smith fan as well, absolutely love his 44 Scotland Street series and La’s Orchestra Saves the World is simply beautiful. All his books are engaging and non too taxing on the brain, without you feeling like you’re wasting your energy reading them.

For all my love of McCall Smith though I haven’t really read his most famous series The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Couldn’t tell you why. I picked this one up because it was The Times Book of the Week for £2.99 a while back. Even though it’s a fair few books in to the series this is still totally readable, I didn’t feel lost at all and I loved the pace of the book, it just rolled along slowly and purposefully, much as I imagine you would do under the hot Botswanian sun.

Probably only one to read if you’re already a fan of his work and/or have read the other books in the series though.

Twenties Girl – Sophie Kinsella
Not a book I’d buy but a friend lent it to me and I felt obliged to read it. (She’s also lent me 3 Jodi Picoult books, I don’t know that I can read that many in a short space of time so I’ve warned her it may be a while before she sees them again.)

I’ve read a few of Kinsella’s books before – the Shopaholic series is funny (and is of course now a film) and she’s up there in the elite of chick lit authors.

Lara starts being followed around by the ghost of her dead Great-Aunt, Sadie, who wants Lara to track down a missing necklace. Hilarity and confusion ensue of course with a bit of romance (obviously the main ingredient in any bit of chick lit) thrown in for good measure. Naturally all ends well and everything is tied up with a lovely bow.

I sound like I’m knocking it and I’m really not, it was the perfect read for me after my release from hospital and I raced through it in a couple of days, if it wasn’t good I couldn’t have done that but I really enjoyed it. It’s just that there’s not a lot to say about it – if you like this kind of thing then it’ll be right up your street, if probably wouldn’t pick it up in the first place.

The winner?

I want to say Duma Key but I honestly don’t know if that’s the bias talking so I’m going to go with The White Queen. Buy it, don’t buy it, but it’s being bestowed with the very great honour of being May’s book of the month.

*allow for applause*

I do apologise if this monthly feature is a little boring. It has crossed my mind that it is and I think I’m mainly doing it for myself so I can look back at the end of the year and most likely berate myself for not filling my head with more sensible stuff.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Warfarin wanderings and wonderings

So life carries on since my week in hospital, it’s as if I was never ill. How annoying, I didn’t realise how nice people are to you when you get hospitalised, I absolutely revelled in the attention and I kind of miss it now. Don’t miss the embolism that much though.

Although life is carrying on, it is now slightly modified and there are new things for me to consider/come to terms with.

One is the presence of Warfarin in my life. For those not in the know, it’s a blood thinner (and a rat poison) which has, you know, thinned my blood, ensuring that it whizzes round my body and doesn’t get the chance to clot (that’s basically the science).
I am on it for 6 months at first, then after 6 weeks I’ll have a blood test which will determine whether it was just a one off or whether I’ll have to take it for life.
Things I now have to consider

1. Going to the anti-coagulant clinic.
I have to go here regularly to have my blood tested to check that it’s not too thick or too thin. This is called an INR rating and it’s basically the time it takes your blood to clot. Normal people will have an INR reading of 1. I need to have one of between 2 and 3. Too low and they increase my warfarin, too high and they decrease it.

How regularly I go will depend on how stable they think my INR is/will be. My first appointment since leaving the hospital was on Monday of this week and my INR was only 1.6 so they increased my dose and I had to go back today to see how it was going. (It's 1.4. No that's not good. But that's going to be a whole other Warfarin-filled drama post) Once it’s stable then the visits to the clinic will drop off to just monthly appointments, unless I am prescribed any medication, in which case I will come in more frequently to check the medicine isn't messing with the Warfarin. Any over the counter things I want I will have to talk to the pharmicist first for advice.

It’s not so bad though, the clinic is in a lovely area of Hull called The Avenues and I’m more than happy to wander there, feeling huge pangs of envy looking at the gorgeous houses and admiring all the trees. Photos from my travels are illustrating this post to break up the really boring text.

2. Cranberries are no longer my friends
I’m not allowed to eat, drink or ingest them in any form while I’m on warfarin. Apparently they react with the warfarin (it’s science, don’t ask me why). With some people it makes no difference at all and with other people it can send their INR rating sky high so to be safe there’s a blanket ban.
Sorry cranberries.

3. Watching out for the leafy greens
When we were young, Mum allowed us to name 2 vegetables that we wouldn’t be forced to eat. Mine were broccoli and spinach. Now I’m a ‘grown-up’ I eat them just fine but I really don’t love them.

Now I have a cast iron excuse not to eat them. I can’t have masses of vitamin K (more science stuff) in my diet so that means I have to make sure I don’t eat too much cabbage, broccoli, spinach etc etc. I can still eat them but in moderation. No broccoli binges for me now.

4. No being a superhero
Because I have thin blood I need to look after myself. I will bruise more easily which should be fun, I can show them off to people. However, if I cut myself badly I will bleed like a bitch so no more playing with knives. And if I get hit or fall over or sustain some kind of trauma then there’s a risk of internal bleeding so it’s safe to say my rugby playing career is over before it’s started. I need to try and keep myself out of trouble.

Failing that all my friends know to tell the paramedics that I’m on warfarin should I decide I have to go and break up that fight that’s happening on the other side of the street and get injured.
5. Bye bye binge drinking
The most devastating news of all is that I can no longer drink alcohol. Ok. That’s not strictly true. I’m allowed 1 unit of alcohol a day but as far as I’m concerned it’s just not worth it. I am the original binge drinker – I drink to get drunk, and that is now officially a thing of the past. I did ask if I could save up my units of alcohol during the week to go out on a weekend but apparently it doesn’t work that way.

It shouldn’t be a big deal but it’s thrown me for a loop which has actually made me question my relationship with alcohol a little bit. Probably a post for another time.

The potential good news is that my blood is so thin a glass of wine might just do the trick.

So not massive changes to be made, but enough to make a little bit of change to my life and enough to make me ponder the life, the universe and everything as I wander from the clinic back home, taking a shortcut through Pearson Park and maybe lying under a tree, in the sun for a little bit...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Believe it or not, there's a soup recipe in here.

Poor Weightwatchers. I started out so full of hope and promise and had a whole 2 days counting points and getting used to the system. But then the embolism happened and it all fell by the wayside. I did try to be dedicated. I even kept track of what I was eating for the first few days, but when it became apparent I was going to be in for a while I decided to write the week off. I did try and remain on best behaviour though. When Mum came to see me on my first day in hospital I accepted the Nutrigrain bars and satsumas but made her take the massive bag of mini cheddars and the funsize Mars bars home.

However it turns out that I was to find myself on a much more productive diet than Weightwatchers. It’s called the Hospital Diet and basically someone tries to feed you the worst food imaginable. So bad that you actually start to develop a bit of a phobia of it and dread the appearance of the mealtime trolley. So horrendous that you end up just ordering salads which you will try to eat but will lose the will to live half way through due to the lack of dressing or salt and pepper. You’ll also develop a rabid fear of coleslaw – NHS Hull and East Riding seem to think that approximately half a ton of coleslaw is required when you have a salad.

Once I was on the outside I did resume my Weightwatchers (apart from Saturday when I went mental and had a Macdonalds for lunch and a steak the size of my head for dinner) meaning that I’ve spent a grand total of 5 days on the plan. Yesterday was my first weigh in I have lost the grand total of 8lbs in 2 weeks. (I'll leave some room for applause now.)

The Hospital Diet was an excellent kick in the right direction, and having lost so much in one go I actually have an incentive to carry on losing weight.

So I guess if I’ve committed to lose this weight I’d better, you know, lose weight and to this end I have nominated my former arch enemy, soup, to help me with this task.

I’m thinking I need all the help I can get until I’m able to step foot in the gym again (the date has been set, next week sees the return of the gym as a regular horrifying feature in my life) so the soup book is out, many many interesting looking recipes have been bookmarked and I am determined to make soup my new best friend.

First on the list was Carrot soup. Mainly because I already had all the ingredients and just needed to buy a leek to complete the list (I will hold my hands up, I’ve never bought a leek before. I’ve just never had a use for one it would seem).

I can see why people are fans of the soupagement. It doesn’t really take that long to make. Most of them require fairly minimal ingredients or rely on stock-cupboard stores. And it’s only just dawned on me how freakin’ cheap it is to make! Why did I not have this revelation sooner?!

This soup is nice although I couldn’t help but feel it was lacking a little something. Probably carrots seeing as I intended to make this soup a week before I injured my ankle and when I opened the bag I discovered that half the buggers had gone off, so I was about 100g short of carroty goodness.

Carrot Soup
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 leek, finely sliced
-450g carrots, peeled and grated
- 2 pints vegetable stock
- 150ml natural yoghurt (optional)
- 1 tbsp chives (optional)

- In a large pan with a splash of oil, stir onions and leek, season with salt and leave to sweat for 3 minutes before stirring in the carrots.
- Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Bring stock to the boil and pour over the vegetables, cover and simmer for 6-7 minutes.
- Liquidize and then season to taste
- Optional - stir in cream and chives

Recipe from here

It’s still nice even if I was a little short on carrots. It was also not watery, an essential for me in the soup stakes. If it’s watery it’s just too annoying to eat.

And it made a good 4 portions (probably 5 if you’re like me and wanted to eek it out that little bit further) out it which has meant that your lunches for the week are sorted, as long as you don’t mind being a creature of habit for a whole week.

If you speak Weightwatchers this next sentence will mean something to you, the rest of you, look away now please... has zero points. Zilch. Not one. (As long as you don’t add the natural yoghurt that is and I don’t feel the poorer for missing it out.) My only points at lunchtime comes from the slice of toast I have my soup, I can’t eat a bowl of soup on its own, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Girl and The Shoes

Their eyes met across a very crowded room.

The Girl, a shoe lover, found her soulmate, The Shoe, one Saturday in the far off land of Manchester in Office.

Normally The Girl did not go in to Office. Lovely shoes but very expensive but this shop was different, it was a tucked away treasure trove that had cheap Office shoes in it. End of the line shoes and sample shoes, shoes that were no longer wanted by the ‘normal’ Office store a mere stone’s throw away in St Ann’s Square.

It was a store not for the faint-hearted. You needed guts and guile if you wanted to be victorious. You had to throw yourself into the melee, make your way to the rack containing your shoe size and hope for the best. No “Have you got this in size blah blah?” If it was there, on your rack, it was meant to be.

The Girl was lucky. She has big elephant size 8 feet and no-one is never normally hanging round that rack. Unfortunately nice shoes also never normally hang round that rack either, nice shoes belong to the realms of size 5 and size 6, sensible shoes are the order of the day in a size 8’s world.

Then she saw them. Her eyes locked in on the prize and, like a valiant soldier, she charged full throttle towards them.

She snatched The Shoe up and held it to her chest. Her eyes were very wide and excited. “Ohmygodilovethemihavetohavethemthey’reonlyfifteenquid.”

She tried them on. “Hmmmmm.” She thought as she realised she could see the top of every single person’s head in the shop. “Maybe these are a tad too tall.” When you’re already nearly 5’10”, adding 6 inches to your height is something you might want to think twice about.
But the love was overpowering. She had to have them. (And, you know, they were £15 and heels that high always make your legs look awesome)

She wobbled about the flat like Bambi trying to break them in. She realised that sometimes the thing you really love isn’t always the best thing for you. She sensed trouble ahead. “I’ll just wear them when I’m mainly sitting down” she told herself.

But then. One fateful night The Girl had to go to the ball (alright, a night round Hull, same diff’) and she knew The Shoes had to accompany her. They had to. She would take the plunge and put her faith in them and they wouldn’t let her down.

And they didn’t.

The Girl and The Shoes had a wonderful night. They pranced over the cobbled streets of Old Town and they flitted across the dancefloor of various scabby bars with ease. And they were wonderful and charming and The Shoes received compliments wherever they and The Girl went. And they didn’t hurt her little toes and she arrived back home safely in one piece.

So when another opportunity came for them to go out together again The Girl snatched it up at once. “Oh what fun we shall have Shoes. We will dance and whirl and all who drink along Princes Avenue will be stunned and amazed at our gorgeousness.”

But there was an interloper.

Someone determined to spoil their fun.

And they went by the name of Rose wine.
The afternoon started off well, The Girl, The Shoes, The Wine were all getting along famously, what a marvellous little threesome they would make. But then the evening came and The Wine began to dominate, and The Girl became confused, she fell under the spell and she forgot all about The Shoes. They needed her full attention and so charmed was she by The Wine that she became distracted. The first evening she’d worn The Shoes had been fine because The Wine wasn’t a factor, this time was different, for a start The Wine came along at 3pm. Quite an early start.

The Shoes were rageful. How dare The Girl forget about them. How dare she treat them this way after lavishing so much attention on them? The Wine was annoyed too. It knew that it wasn’t The Girl’s first love and was angered by this. So The Shoes and The Wine conspired together. They decided that they would let The Girl enjoy her night out but when it came to the end they would teach her a lesson she wouldn’t forget.

And they did.

And the next morning, through her tears and fuzzy head, all The Girl could muster up the energy to do was sit and feel sorry for herself and promise and swear that she would never disrespect The Shoes again.

And then she came up with this equation because it was all she had the strength to do.

(And then you know she kind of had an pulmonary embolism and ended up in hospital as a result)

But it’s not really The Shoe’s fault. And they are very pretty. And some people did want to know where they were from and so The Girl, in an act of benevolence decided to see if she could find them online. And she did. (And she did a happy jig in her seat because they should have been £70! HA!) And she thought she would pass on the link to other people because that would be the kind thing to do and ohmygodtheydotheminredwhydidn’tiseethose.
So here you go, if you want the shoes (and you have either very small or very big feet because that’s all they have left) then click HERE.

But don't say you weren't warned...

Monday, 24 May 2010

Tree Project - May edition

Dear Mr Tree

Ok, what in god's name is going on. I turn my back for one week and this happens...
What are you doing to me?! You can't go from only just having leaves one month to being fully foliaged up.

And not just covered in leaves you have flowers. Many many many flowers.

You really look quite beautiful Mr Tree. Very dapper. And judging by all the twittering and cheeping going on outside my window, the birds are loving it too. Especially Mr Blackbird, he comes and sits on top of the downstairs flat's bay window, loosely called our 'balcony' (no we really shouldn't sit on it but we don't have a garden, needs must!).

Really can't believe how much you've changed. Just to recap you looked like this just under a month ago. Seriously?! Tell me something, are you on 'roids? It doesn't seem normal.
You see this is a long term project, you're supposed to make incremental changes over the months and then this feature will be more interesting, you can't just blow your load in a month. Where do we go from here?! You'd better have something up your belt, otherwise I'm going to be most unimpressed.

Anyway, as you were.

The Girl.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

My week in pictures

After making a joke about being institutionalised in my last post I actually had a slight wobble upon my release on Friday afternoon. I think the word that could best describe it was overwhelmed. It was like there were too many choices to make, even coming home and being faced with a wardrobe full of clothes felt like too much. I'd spent the past week in my pjs, it was easy! And the feeling of knowing that I could do anything I wanted was also a little scary, when there's nothing to do but just lie in bed, life feels a lot easier and a lot safe.

And it was funny because the whole time that I was in hospital I kept telling people it was no big deal, I wasn't really sick, I'd be right as rain, and as soon as I came out in to reality it hit me that actually it was a big deal. Had the blood clots moved I absolutely could have died. Not likely that that would have happened, but you know, it's the closest I've come to death in 27 years! The enormity of what happened did give me a little wobble and I longed for the safety of hospital, at least when I was in there nothing could happen.

Still I'm feeling ok now, just a little tired, and am back at work tomorrow. Much as I would love some more time off, there's no medical reason for me not to be at work, and no medical reason means no sick note, so it's back into the breach. Don't know how frequent the blogging will be next week because I expect a fair bit of knackeredness (yeah it's a word) but we'll see how it goes.

So I thought I'd show you what I was up during my week-long stay in hospital...

My brilliant compression stockings. I was given these to wear on the Monday and told that I would have to wear them for 6 months. You can imagine how this went down. I'm not the vainest person in the world but even I have limits. Anyway I double-checked with my consultant and he informed me I would only have to wear them for a couple of weeks, they're mainly to wear in hospital where you're lying about doing nothing and hence at more of a risk of blood clots. Sexy or what?

All my lovely cards. Nothing like feeling popular to make you feel better. Everyone commented on how many cards I had and it made me feel very smug. And a special thank you needs to go to Heather who sent me a get well soon card - very unexpected and very well-received, thank you so much!
My little coccoon. Once it was socially acceptable I would pull my curtains round me. There were days when I wanted to spend all day in there with the curtains pulled round but that is not allowed. It's for the best, you need the interaction and the camaraderie. Take my Ward neighbour, Joyce. We had absolutely nothing in common other than that we were both in there together, she was 77 and could not have had more different views on the world but I really do miss her, the chat kept me going. (Did I mention I was on a chest ward so I was the youngest person there by about 30 years? Acesome.) Anyway, once it was late at night, I would pull my curtains round and this would be my little set-up.

Please note;
- TV - lifesaver although if you were in a for a very long stay an expensive lifesaver. £10 for 3 days but I wouldn't have done without it.
- Trashy magazines
- Books
- Jug of water
- Cross stitch stuff

The hospital I was staying at is kind of in the middle of nowhere which meant it was lovely and peaceful and there was nature a go go. I could see a beautiful cherry blossom tree out of my window (I meant to take a picture but never got around to it and by the time I left all the blossom was coming off it). Also spotted were a robin and a thrush. Exciting for someone who just sees blackbirds all the time. And, way more excitingly.....bunnies!!! Big massive bunnies and teeny tiny weeny bunnies, I loved them.

I did manage to complete a piece for the Embroidering the Truth exhibition. This quote was actually provided by a little old lady on the ward who was sadly suffering from dementia and had plenty of fighting spirit. One evening she had decided she wasn't ill anymore and wanted to go home, the people in the beds next to her tried to placate her, telling her that we were all ill and we all wanted to leave and that we were all friends here. She introduced herself, saying "I'm Sylvie" and Enid replied...

Now I have to be off because it's warfarin time, I need to take it at the same time every day. And then tomorrow it's back to reality, albeit a slightly altered reality which will include my first ever visit to the anti-coagulation clinic - exciting times.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Hour by hour

Life in hospital becomes one great big routine. You start off being bored and annoyed by everything that goes on and after a few days you just become accustomed to it all. I can completely see how people because institutionalised, you just get used to everyone doing everything for you.

Every day is the same. And you find yourself waiting for the next thing in the routine to happen. Truth is it's the only thing that keeps you vaguely sane.

I've had loads of stuff to do. My wool and hook is here. My cross stitch stuff is here. My books are here. And I've hardly done any of them. It's bizarre, I thought I would race through books here (I was thinking this month's book review would be a stonker) but I've barely read anything. The granny squares for my blanket are now all complete and I had plenty of time to try and put them together but haven't done it. Only one piece for the Embroidering The Truth exhibition has been done. It's like you become so bored you can't do anything.

So to while away the boredom you count down the hours...

6am - Start of day when the nurses come to take your obs. I hate them every single morning. Why so early?!

7.00 - 7.30am - Breakfast trolley comes round

8.30 - 9.00am - Drugs trolley comes round. Was more interesting when I was on the painkillers but since my pain disappeared I get nothing until the evening. Boring.

9.00 - 10.00am - Sit in chair while bed linen gets changed, talk to the auxiliary nurses

9.30am - Phlebotomist appears to steal your blood. Ward rounds by the Consultant, boring if it's nothing to do with you but fun to earwig in on everyone else's diagnoses. Why do they even bother pulling the curtains round?!

10.00am - Tea and coffee trolley comes round

11.00am - Your tray appears on your table for your lunch

12.00pm - Lunch time. Most likely something completely inedible. Everything you've ever heard about hospital food is true. (At least it is in Hull and East Riding.)

1.00pm - Drug trolley appears again.

2.00pm - 3.00pm - VISITING HOUR. Brilliant. Pure awesomeness, love this part of the day because not only do you get to see people but you know that from now on in the day is going to go a little bit faster.

3.00 - 4.00pm - Usually sleep. Get over-excited seeing visitors and seem to exhaust myself, even though I spend all day doing knack-all.

4.00pm - Tray appears on your table for dinner.

5.00pm - Dinner time. I have never eaten so early in my life and it distresses me every day. I can't eat so early! Also something inedible.

6.00pm - Drug time for me! Happy days. Find out what my INR rating is and hope that it's a good one. Get my rat poison and also get stabbed in the stomach with the Fragmin injection - you should see one of my bruises from one of those injections, it is immense.

7.00pm - 8.00pm - VISITING HOUR. Also very exciting.

8.00pm - Cup of tea time. Everything starts winding down for the day.

9.00pm - Nurses collect your cups and fill your water jug.

10.00pm - Another drug round. Nothing for me still so very uninterested in the whole thing.

And then that's really the end of the day, I pull the curtains round my bed and coccoon myself in for the night, usually end up staying up far too late watching tv and then getting an incredibly unrestful night's sleep due to all the moaning and groaning from the old ladies on the ward and the near constant sound of the buzzer going off for the nurses' attention.

But do you know what?

Tonight is the last night I coccoon myself in and tomorrow I will be counting down the hours, not just checking on the routine but counting down the hours until I get to leave.

Hell yeah. Tomorrow I am being discharged! (All being well barring any huge tragedies.)

This has been a loooooooooooong week and I cannot wait for it to be over.

Thank you so much for your well wishes whilst I've been stuck in here and once I'm home (and back at work!) I will be catching up on all your blogs, can't wait to see what I've missed!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

How I ended up in here.

My grand plans to escape this place are on hold at the moment. I was hoping to be released yesterday but that didn't happen, then I was hoping for today, but that doesn't look likely either. Tomorrow maybe?! This has been a recurring theme throughout my stay, people ask me when I'm getting out and say "Maybe tomorrow?" And now we are 6 days in....

So. I figured I'd give you the back story now. I could go on and on and on and on about my stay in hospital, 6 days can provide you with plenty of material but I don't want to bore you too much.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Tuesday 11th - First trip to Weightwatchers. Make a joke to my friend that I might have given myself an anxiety attack because I'm finding it hard to breathe. Get home and tell boyfriend I've done something weird to myself because it really hurts to breathe in on the left hand side of my chest.

Wednesday 12th AM - Chest really hurts. Figure I must have sprained a chest muscle somehow although I'm not sure how because I hadn't done anything in particular. Give a bit of a sigh - why am I always injuring myself?! First the ankle and now this. Take some comfort in the fact that although my ankle was really painful on Monday it seemed to have miraculously got better overnight and hadn't been bothering me since Tuesday morning. Celebrate having super-human healing powers.

Wednesday 12th PM - Pain is more than a little horrendous. Seems to get a squillion times worse whenever I lie down. Get a little bit of sleep but wake up in terrible amounts of pain. Have a little cry about it because I'm known to be a bit of a wuss when it comes to pain. Boyfriend says "Right I'm taking you to hospital, you're having chest pains" I tell him not to be ridiculous, I'm just being a wuss. I'll be fine. Have a very fitful night's sleep.

Thursday 13th AM - Boyfriend tells me I have to go to the Drs that morning, he's worried because he'll be spending the night in Manchester and doesn't want me to have a night like Wednesday on my own. Tell him I will but rebelliously don't bother. I'll be fine, just making a fuss. Boyfriend less than impressed.

Thursday 13th PM and Friday 14th early AM - Pain is beyond anything I've ever known. Find co-codamol in the cupboard, take some, no effect. Start to wonder if I am actually dying. Talk myself down from the ledge and tell myself to stop being ridiculous. Try and lie down, freak out about the pain. Sit for a while oscillating between being sure I'm about to drop down dead and telling myself it's just a chest sprain and I need to man up.

Friday 14th 3am - Decide manning up is not an option. I'm going to cave and go to A&E. They'll have some decent painkillers and they'll sort me out. Call a taxi and get myself there. Good job it wasn't a weekend, A&E is empty and I get seen straight away by a nurse who freaks out because my heart rate and blood pressure are off the scale. I get sent for an ECG. Get sent for an x-ray. Sit there going "Oh my god just give me drugs."

Friday 14th 6am - Apparently X-ray is clear. This makes me a little worried. I am being a wuss. Very fit A&E Doctor comes to take some blood. Realise I've now been awake for 24 hours - that's not good. Blood tests come back and they tell me that I've come back with slightly elevated clotting factors in my blood. I am being admitted and transferred to Castle Hill hospital.

Friday 14th 8am - Start calling people to let them know I'm in hospital. Hadn't told anyone yet because I didn't want them to freak out. The boyfriend would have done something stupid trying to get back from Manchester and Mum would have probably had a heart attack on the spot. Boyfriend does freak out and says he's coming back to Hull but I tell him not to bother, no point, there are visiting hours and he won't be able to do anything. Ring work and tell them that the chest sprain I'd been going on about might be something a little more serious.

Friday 14th 8.30am onwards - Get to Castle Hill. Mum breaks visiting hour rules and comes to see me, don't think the nurses dare mess with her. Finally get some decent painkillers in the form of codeine phosphate - they don't get rid of the pain but definitely take the edge off. Also get one of those tubes that you put up your nostrils that give you oxygen. Feel like a sick person. Still haven't slept, think I might be going mad. Go for a CT Scan at 4pm. Start to panic a bit, seriously what if there's nothing wrong with me and I've wasted all these people's time because I'm a wuss?

Turns out I'm not a wuss. I'm a bad ass. I've been walking about for 2 days with a pulmonary embolism. In fact not just one. I have "a few" blood clots on my lung. I'm going to become a warfarin addict for at least the next 6 months.

At this point I don't quite get the gravity of the situation and am pretty sure I'll be out by Sunday. Wrong.

The cause of this embolism? There can only be one culprit.

So you are officially caught up. I am trying to read all your blogs (what the hell else am I going to do?!) but my connection is pretty rubbish and it especially doesn't like blogs. I will get caught up though, I promise.

Right then I have lots of lying about to do and it can't possibly wait.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Just in case you were wondering where I was...

...I realise I have been uncharacteristically quiet on the blogosphere for the last 4 days and let me tell you why.

I'm currently in hospital!!

Not dead or dying and most definitely on the mend (and consequently going round the bend). Hopefully I will be out on Wednesday and have many many stories to tell you.

Currently I can only get a signal at the very end of my bed which isn't massively convenient but hopefully I can blog tomorrow and tell you all my stories.

And I'll give you the guide to working out the difference between spraining a muscle in your chest and having a pulmonary embolism which would have come in handy for me earlier in the week...

Talk to you soon (hopefully!)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Duck Rescue 2009

A long long time ago (ok it was last year), when I didn’t work in a windowless hell I used to look out of my office window into Queens Gardens. In particular I looked out on to this expanse of water.

I run into difficulties here. What to call this? It’s clearly too big to be a pond and yet I feel calling it a ‘lake’ is perhaps exaggerating its true qualities, that of a stagnant pool most likely littered with beer bottles. For the purposes of this story, let’s call it a lake, but rest assured I do not have delusions of grandeur.

I walk past this lake on the way in and out of work and one spring morning I was beyond myself with delight to see 5 little ducklings swimming about the water. Who doesn’t turn into a babbling moron when they see those little black and yellow balls of fluff? They were swimming about cheeping to themselves and I stood and watched them for a while until I realised what was wrong with the picture.

No Mummy and Daddy duck.

They were all alone (cue sad faces and cries of “Awwww”).

I wasn’t sure what to do and I thought that maybe their Mum was just somewhere I couldn’t see and took myself into work.

All morning I kept turning round to look out of my window.

“They’re still on their own.” I kept saying. “I can’t just leave them there.”

At 10.30am I made the highest sacrifice possible. I decided I would take my bread outside. My bread destined to be my mid-morning toast, and try and throw it to them. But they were so tiny they hadn’t been told that it was ok to eat bread from passersby.

(Disclaimer. I know that you shouldn’t feed ducks bread. But everyone else does and I didn’t have any grubs to hand.)

A park attendant man happened to be walking past. So I pointed them out to him and asked him what I should do. He informed me that the mother was dead on the other side of the lake, amongst the reeds. He didn’t seem too perturbed, I think he was a survival of the fittest kind of bloke. He said they’d probably get killed by other ducks and shrugged his shoulders and walked off.

Well Darwin didn’t have the RSPCA around did he?

Back to the office I went to phone the RSPB, who told me I should phone the RSPCA. So I rang, they even had a number for you to press if you were calling about birds or ducks, that made me laugh. I spoke to a very nice man and told him about the poor orphaned ducklings.

I spent the rest of the morning with a crick in my neck, trying to look at my computer and simultaneously keep an eye on my babies. I worried for them, there’s a big 6th form college across the road and I didn’t want the rowdy youngsters scaring them.

Then my mobile rang. It was a lovely RSPCA lady who was coming to rescue my ducks!
Except she didn’t know where I was or how to get to me (She wasn’t from Hull.) and after a lot of talking and some probably very poor direction giving from me (I don’t drive! It’s not my fault!) she appeared by the lake and I was, naturally, there to greet her. Work was clearly a lost cause that day.

She appeared with a net on long stick. “Yeah that’s not going to work” I told her. “They’re really jittery they won’t come near you.”

But she tried nonetheless.

And it didn’t work.

She resorted to calling the landscape company that looks after the city centre parks and gardens because they would have waders.

Half an hour later and there’s landscape man in waders, net on long stick in hand, most probably cursing the day I was born, striding around the lake trying to catch some rather agile ducklings whilst I, the RSPCA lady and several of his colleagues shouted/laughed encouragingly from the sidelines. My favourite bit was when they all decided to huddle by the little fountain that comes out of the wall, forcing the landscape man to just get wet. Second to that was the bit where he tripped up (probably on said beer bottles) and fell his full length.

Eventually all little babies were safely captured in a cardboard box and ready to be taken to their new home.

I could finally rest easy, knowing that I had done my bit and kept my ducklings safe. Survival of the fittest my arse. And better yet? I’d managed to waste half a day at work on my duck drama.

So that is why I take such an interest in these babies, (although really not as cute as Mallard babies but don’t hold that against them. Look at their freakishly large feet!) and every morning and every evening I check and make sure that they’re all well and Mummy or Daddy is there supervising. I don’t want to have to mount Duck Rescue 2010...

...but someone who did mount a Duck Rescue 2010 is Foods and crafts; fuel for body and soul who has posted her story HERE

Anyone else have any Duck Dramas they would like to share?!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Fat Camp

I have lost many a friend to the cult of Weightwatchers.

People seem to join and immediately turn into incredibly anal bores who delight in telling you how many points are in that piece of cake you’re about to enjoy. Whenever I think of WW I think of a friend who joined and turned up for a night at the cinema with a little freezer bag containing some penny sweets. She was ridiculously excited because she’d saved up her points to allow herself this treat. She talked about it some more but I couldn’t hear her over the handfuls of popcorn I was shovelling into my mouth.

I really do not want to become that person.

And so I haven’t told a lot of people that I’m doing it.

I don’t handle pressure very well, as the recent family drama I went through highlights. If I knew that people knew I was on the ol’ WW I would start to feel them looking at me, looking to see if I was losing weight, looking to see what I was troughing, wondering why I didn’t look like Kate Moss in a month. Most likely all in my head I understand but such is the life of someone consumed with paranoia.

I’m hoping the secret thing will work twofold – I can attempt to lose weight almost pressure-free and I won’t become a WW bore because I can’t give the game away by telling them how many points are in that digestive they’re about to dunk in their tea.

So I hope you feel privileged, knowing all about it.

Yesterday was my first day and it was with quite a bit of fear that I approached the scales. I don’t have scales at home so I can’t weigh myself but I had an inkling. But I had an inkling in the way that you think something’s going to be a certain way but there’s a part of you that secretly hopes it’ll be entirely different.

My inkling was right. The figure was official and was noted down in my little leaflet. It was like someone had taken a huge stamp and BOOM made it official. No escape for me now. I have to be committed, I can’t have a few days of being good and then kid myself that I can have 2 weeks of being bad as a reward, I have to be permanently good because I know that judgement day is only a week away.


I’ve had fun, looking through my little book which tells me the points value of a few common things and I have a little Pointsfinder which is a grid which will allow me to work out the Points value of certain foods based on calories and saturated fat.

I think there’s going to be a certain element of annoyance as I get used to what things have how many points in them and there’ll have to be a certain amount of planning that goes on where meals are concerned.

But. For now. I feel positive.

Until next Tuesday...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Oh hello, when did you appear?

Do you remember when the world looked like this?

And we thought it would never end?

And now a mere 5 months later the trees look like this.
And there’s loads of this flying about.
And, just to make your heart feel all fuzzy and warm, I spied these babies on the lake in Queens Gardens. (Ok, I know they're a little weird looking but come on, they're all fluffy!)

I keep a close eye on this lake, have I ever told you about Duck Rescue 2009 which I mounted last year? No? I’ll get working on that one for you.

Hello Spring almost Summer!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Letters related to this weekend

Dear Brett and Jemaine a.k.a. Flight of the Conchords,

Thank you so much for touring again and coming to the UK. Especially for coming to Manchester on Saturday night. The gig was absolutely brilliant and well worth all the tears and trauma I went through to get tickets.

I would really like to thank you for playing at the Apollo which meant the gig was seated. I don’t know if you know but I recently hurt my ankle quite badly and although I am now up and moving about, there’s no way it would have lasted a whole night standing up.

You played a great mix of songs from the first and second series – you even played Carol Brown which is definitely one of my favourites. And thank you so much for playing us 3 or 4 new songs, I didn’t think you’d have more material because you said you weren’t going to do a 3rd Series, but you did and they were brilliant, especially because I’ve listened to your albums so many times that I know the songs inside out and back to front. Do you think that you could possibly consider releasing To Woo a Lady? It was freakin’ hilarious.

And can I just say that you dealt with all the hecklers really well. I don’t even understand why there were hecklers, it seems bizarre to me that you’d pay at least £30 to go and see something and then shout rude things at the people on-stage but I guess people are weird. I hope it didn’t give you a bad impression of Manchester or the UK.

Could you also pass this letter on to Eugene Mirman? I wanted to say thank you to him as well, I’ve never been to a gig that opened with a comedian before and he was really funny. And I felt bad for him because people were heckling him too and although he handled it well and came back at them, I think it threw him for a bit at the beginning. They were retards, I knew straight away that he was the landlord from the show.

And you had the best merchandise ever. I nearly bought 2 t-shirts because I just couldn’t decide but luckily the coffers were only stretched to one. I’m going to try not to wear it to death.

Ok well I guess I’ve said all I’ve got to say. Thank you again, it was really great and I hope I get to see you again one day because you were so so funny.

Could you maybe just think a little bit about doing a 3rd season? Or a one-off special at least?

Thanks so much,
The Girl.



I have only used you twice but you’ve come up with the goods both times baby. First you gave me the City Warehouse Apartments for when my friends from America came over and we had a reunion in Manchester and this time you sent us to the Macdonald Hotel and Spa. Super fancy dancy and yet only cost us £100 for the night.

(Yes actually kind of expensive but slap bang in the city centre and it was actually last minute and anyway the Travelodge in the town centre was £135. Oh. And the boyfriend was paying.)

Seriously I walked in and was all jaw dropped and speechless and kept making little noises that were kind of excitable. So fancy!

And we all know that the mark of a fancy hotel room is the bathroom and Hello! Did this come up with the goods. It was the size of a small flat. The bath was like an ark! The shower cubicle was the size of my kitchen! There was a speaker in there so you could hear what was on the TV in the room (which admittedly was a little frightening when I was having a wee and suddenly Hollyoaks came blaring at me).

Keep coming up with the goods I’m your new fan.

Thank you
The Girl


Dear Ankle,

I get that I was silly. I get that I should not have worn those shoes (even if they are beautiful) and drunk that much alcohol. I know that I should grow up and act more appropriately. I really feel like I’ve learned my lesson so do you think you could, you know,


I know that it’s only been a week and the Doctor at A&E told me it would be 6 weeks until I was fully functional. But I don’t think that you realise just how impatient I am. I can only be ill for a few days at a time and then I get really bored and fed up with it and consequently kind of become a pain.

I do appreciate that you have healed enough for me walk on you and I would like to especially thank you for holding out on the walk to work this morning – GO YOU! Actually that is quite impressive that I can walk on you already, maybe I have super-awesome healing powers....

But anyway, you still hurt when I try and go up and down stairs which has been kind of embarrassing and more than a little inconvenient seeing as I live in an old building which doesn’t have a lift.

And I would like to apologise for standing on you for nearly an hour on Saturday when we were waiting for the doors at the Apollo to open on Saturday. I have learned my lesson, 6.30pm is when the doors open, not when the act begins, and there are no pubs to go and have a drink in near the Apollo (well, none that would allow you to leave with your life. Seriously, pretty skanky area of Mancehester). And even though I was freaking out about someone accidentally kicking my ankle at the gig, it didn’t happen did it? So that’s good.

And I swear by the end of tonight I’ll be back on the painkillers. It’s just that I’m giving blood this evening and they have so many rules about not being able to donate that I thought I had better lay off them for the weekend. I realise now that you’re not ready to be un-medicated.

So thank you for holding up all weekend (kind of) and I promise that I’ll treat you better in the future, if you could maybe get better a bit quicker than 6 weeks I’d really appreciate it.

The Girl

Friday, 7 May 2010

The lights are on but nobody's home...

...because I'm guest posting over at *Insert My Blog Name Here* for the lovely P!

Do you enjoy having people over to stay with you?

Would you like to know how to be a good host?

Then go HERE to read my guide to find out what not to do...

Happy Friday!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Why I got banned from watching The Crystal Maze

Hands up if you remember The Crystal Maze.

For most people it was a fun and lively gameshow and they gained much enjoyment watching the team progress through the 4 zones, completing challenges and trying to win as many crystals as possible, earning them more time in the crystal dome at the end of the show.

For me, I break into a sweat just typing the name.

I don’t know what it was about The Crystal Maze but it induced a state of such high anxiety in me that I was in danger of putting my health at risk.

It all centred around the concept of getting locked in. For those of you that aren’t in the know, one person from the team was selected to play a game that came under the categories of Mental, Physical, Skill or Mystery. That person went into the room alone to complete the challenge. They were usually between 2-3 minutes long, with the clock starting the second the door closed.

If you completed the challenge and got the crystal, happy days. Much celebrating. You didn’t always have to win the crystal though. If it became apparent that you weren’t going to solve the puzzle in time, you just had to ask to be let out and you could be, no problems. As long as you didn’t let the time run out.

Really it was no big deal. You were locked in. You had to stay in the room until your team decided whether or not to use one of the crystals to buy you out. They could move on to the other zones and you would be left in there.

There really wasn’t anything to freak out about.

But for me I just had this thing about them getting locked in. It was if in my brain, getting locked in equated with them being killed or something because the whole idea just gave me a mental breakdown.

It would start as soon as there was only a minute left on the clock and it started counting down the seconds. My breath would start getting shorted and my heart would begin to pound. Then I’d get really really hot. Then I would be completely unable to stay sitting down and would have to get up and pace about, clenching my fists. I would start saying “Come on come on come on come on come on” under my breath. When it got to 30 seconds I really started losing it. That’s when I would start telling them to “Get out! Just get out! Get out now!” And start covering my face with my hands.

If they left it any later than 10 seconds I would completely flip my lid.

And there were people who would just always leave it to the last second to come out. They clearly weren’t going to be able to solve the puzzle so why did they insist on leaving it until the clock had 2 seconds on it?! And then there were the people who had had to go through some maze or over some bridge or some other crazy challenge which meant that it would take longer for them to get back to the door. Those people would get yelled at by me.

Don’t even get me started on the games with automatic lock ins. They were the games were you weren’t supposed to touch the floor or you couldn’t let something drop or get the wrong sequence 3 times in a row. Once they’d done it twice I was begging them to “Just get out!”

One morning, during the school holidays, I was watching an episode, it was always part of the Channel 4 school holiday programming schedule. I’m not going to lie here, I wasn’t really that young. I was probably 12/13.

They were doing their usual trick of leaving it until the last minute and I had, totally subconsciously, risen to my feet and was standing the middle of the room, screaming, and I mean screaming, at this person to “GET OUT!!!! GET OUT! GET OUT!”

My Mum came storming into the room. “That’s it. I’ve had enough. You are ridiculous. You are absolutely not watching this programme anymore!” and switched off the television.

I haven’t watched it since.

She said she was genuinely afraid, I was completely puce in the face and looked like a wild woman.

I tried to watch it a year or so ago, it was repeated on Challenge and my sister had Sky. I put it on for about 2 minutes and as soon as the countdown started I could feel all the old feelings coming back. I just switched it off, it’s not worth the emotional wreckage.

Just talking about it stresses me out. People think I’m mad when I tell them the story but I don’t understand how they don’t understand how that’s not stressful. Even typing this out my palms are sweating. Seriously.

I have no idea where it comes from. I’m not claustrophobic in the slightest. There is just something about that concept of being locked in that taps into something primeval in my DNA that makes me need to escape.

I revisited the stress in the form of a new gameshow that was on ITV recently, The Cube. It wasn’t the same kind of format at all really, you didn’t get locked in as such, but if you decided to go into the cube to play the game, you couldn’t leave unless you won the game. I got through one episode of it but spent most of it standing up behind the sofa going “This is really stressing me out”, while the boyfriend looked at me bemusedly.

I need to go and sit in a darkened room for a while now, stop my pulse racing.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Views from the sofa

What I can currently see...

A foot which is much less swollen and getting less painful by the day. Thankfully not broken, a discovery made by a late night trip to A&E on Bank Holiday Monday just to make sure. Just a very bad sprain. Story of my life. I am incredibly clumsy and have lost count of the number of times I have cockled over on my ankles but somehow have never broken a bone. Must be all that milk my Mum made me drink when I was younger.

Pretty tulips that Mum got me as a present for looking after Fred and Lily for a week.

Mr Tree who is looking obscenely green. Seriously. Didn't I tell him in the last Tree Project post to slow the hell down?

Everything I need on 2 little tables:
- cup of tea
- glass of water
- my best friends, Ibuprofen and Paracetemol
- Grey's Anatomy Series 2 - currently re-watched most of this series in the last few days
- New book on the go, Stephen King's Duma Key
- Aida, hoop, thread and needle ready to start my next piece for the Embroidering the Truth exhibition
- Granny squares. Look at how many now!! Eighteen baby. Eighteen. I feel that the end is almost in sight. Almost.

Unfortunately all the relaxing and fun is almost at an end. Mum is taking me into work later this afternoon to pick up some work to bring back home and get stuck in to. Much as I would just love to be off sick, there's a part of me that knows I should be more professional, I can do work, I just can't walk at the moment. Planning on being back in the office on Friday, although we'll have to see how the 20 minute walk in to work goes.

Something else I can see? In the distance, lying on their side, the cause of all my misery...
I can't decide whether to throw them out or frame them.

PS. To Mr/Ms Anonymous who left the comment on my last post which had more than a slight tone of judgement to it - I'm 27. Thanks for asking :)

Monday, 3 May 2010

A Bank Holiday Equation

Silly silly silly high heels


Lots of alcohol


Ankles that look like this

Hope your Bank Holiday has been slightly less painful than mine!