Category: Sarah

Health, Weight and Emotions (by )

At the weekend I went to put on my pirate outfit - I was going to be a purple steam punk pirate because lets face what other sort of pirate am I likely to be?

But the skirt didn't fit - the skirt DID NOT fit and not by a little bit. I am aware that I am putting on weight again, I am very aware of it. I'm also not really sure what to do about it. It has been constant since the miscarriage which was in November - I am still spotty, and my hair is going grey - as if it switched something in me. To be fair I had grey hair before when I was struggling to get pregnant with Mary - when I had the suspected ectopic. That grey hair went away - but this lot I'm not sure will - I am creeping towards the big 40 for a start and I am growing a beard - again this is something that has been happening since I had Mary when they put me on the hormone stuff to try and stop the bleeding but now it's got a little ridiculous.

And I have crow lines - again these have come and gone in the past but I am feeling shit - my hair is broken - not only is there grey but it is not curly - not properly curly - it isn't bouncing back like it always does. People keep saying it's still curly but it is more what I'd call wavey. And on top of all that I am having to use the stupid damn walking stick far too much - I just can't seem to ditch it due to the slice and ache of pelvic pain.

But though it feels rubbish I've also been here before - I am pretty sure I can pull myself back together more than I am and hey! My periods are really light now! And the head injury stuff is being managed well. I need to do something about the diet again I think but the lady that dealt with all that had her position axed from the nhs so is not there for me to check in with. I haven't even dared get on the scales. (Do not suggest Slimming World or Weight Watchers to me -- they work for some people but for me they are hell in a handcart and I spend all my time brimming with intense hatred for the entire human race when in such groups).

I kind of have a plan.... I am about to break the 3000 km barrier on my exercise bike - it took me two years to breach the first 1000 km, 1 year for the second 1000 km and this will have been about 6 months for the third lot of 1000 km - I reckon that even though I am over weight that means my general fitness has still been improving. When I started I was doing 20 mins max and it hurt - now I easily do two hours without noticing. So I will actively aim to halve that time again and the gamification of walking worked really well for me last time but now the pedometer is broken and my phone is old and knackered - so I need a new phone and I plan to finally be able to play Pokemon Go which has never worked on any of our tech.

Also the thing about the walking stick... it is there so that I can walk and that is what I do and I want to do more of that and I am a little bored with walking into town but I've worked out a route to Robinswood Hill which is a similar distance and I am doing lot of poetry walks which I tweet - I used to do this straight from my phone before the head injury but again old phone is a broken phone :/

I am still experiencing horrendous muscle cramps which I think is the anaemia - I probably need to go back to the doctor but find that a really depressing thought. But I basically can't do my pull ups or weights whilst the muscles are being like this and have had to stop my bike stuff in order to deal with my foot testing up. I have seriously had nothing like this except during Jean's pregnancy when I had to drink bloody tonic water.

Of course it would probably just be easier to go on the 1000 cal a day thing again but we've only just got our kitchen back (yay no more take aways) and Alaric is enthusiastically cooking EVERYTHING so though I will do that if things don't improve I don't think that is going to be doable in the next few weeks - of course having lived six weeks off of take aways and restaurant meals probably hasn't helped the weight situation even if I was trying to be good about no desserts event when they come with the meal etc...

If anyone else has any good ideas of where to walk and of games to get you walking then please share 🙂

Loki My Hammer (by )

Loki my new hammer

This is Loki my hammer - it is a Thor number 2 copper and raw hide mallet and is one of the hammers I always paw over when we go to the welding gas shop. I kind of wanted a hammer for the workshops I am preparing for the Aethelflaed Festival in June so it seemed like the right time to actually take the plunge and buy the thing.

This will be used for leather, metal and wood projects - the guy in the shop asked what I wanted it for and I started to explain about the impression work I have been doing - he suggested that I call the made things Loki Impressed which is kind of fun 🙂

Expect to see it a lot on the Salaric blogs 🙂

These hammers are awesome and have been used for all sorts of things including the Royal Engineers during the second world war as it meant they could assemble last minute bridges at night in enemy territory without making loud hammering sounds. They are the mainstay of engineers who need to be gentle whilst hammering their machines or miners who need to avoid sparks (well did graduate from the Royal School of Mines!) and of course jewellery makers love these things!

I wish I had the old one shown on the Wikipedia page - just look at it! Look at the mushroom wear on those hammer heads - this in an instrument that has made many things!

It is a bit of a faff but you can replace the heads when they get too worn so I am hoping that Loki is with me for life! I may well have hugged it all the way home whilst grinning - I think it disturbed Alaric slightly 🙂

You can even watch how they are made 🙂

This one has audio commentary 🙂

You can read up on the manufacturing history and techniques on their website too 🙂 Since our visit to Makers Central I have been interested in where my tools actually come from - so am very pleased I can trace my hammer like this.

Hats For Headway (by )

So this is a thing, I didn't know it was a thing - I probably did but then forgot :/ But get your fancy head gear out!

knitted brain hat

Today is #HatsforHeadway to raise awareness and cash for an absolutely brilliant charity who have helped so much with people like me who have sustained head injuries. This is the hat I knitted for the Science Showoff on Neurology and brainy things special that they did. It was a wonderful evening with Dr Carina Fearnley a fellow head injury sufferer and friend from my Geology undergraduate days. She has made a fantastic video about her experience:

The event was at the Star of Kings in London but I believe was raising money for the Bristol Headway and I made a paper mache brain and got gummy brain sweets. The hat has since appeared at various British Science Week Events, Cheltenham Science Festival and BBC Country File Live show/festival. It was an amazing night were I learnt about all sorts of things including the medical skeletons etc... lurking beneath London and what their skulls can tell us!

What I didn't say at the time was that I was struggling with knitting due to the damage to my left hand side so this whole thing was create out of loom knitting (French knitting or knitting nancy/spool knitting are all mini looms). Also for me to actually make it to the gig my dad had to come and meet me at the station - which in your 30's is pretty embarrassing, but I have only recently been able to attempt travel on my own on that sort of scale and I was still unable to cook anything other than a microwave meal safely on my own (I've set fire to pans and tried to pick up boiling pots with my bare hands...).

There is currently an Art Exhibit and series of talks etc... at Kings College about head injury including a pice on Identity after the fact. I myself had to basically learn to draw again - I always drew with both hands but now... the pictures come out distorted - I have a blind spot in my left eye, and hand coordination was hard. Add in the crisis of everyone else knowing more about me than I myself did and I ended up producing Love: A Stranger Dream. It started as distinct pictures which people asked for as colouring sheets so I put them up for free download here. Then I realised there was a kind of non-linear narrative or themes running through the works and it became a book of visual poetry. I took refuge in art - something that is quiet important in developing coping mechanisms and reducing the amount of depression that head injury victims feel - it is like having everything that is you stripped away.

I even made audio.

And video of it.

Art that started as a way to just express myself when speech and writing where hard graft ended up as something that has helped friends, it explores lots of different aspects of identity and so has ended up at GLBT+ events, dis/different-ability events, music and art installations, two different events for International Women's Day, comic book conventions, poetry events, story telling and maze festivals. I've even made a dress from the art work 0.o - ok yeah I got carried away!

(can't find the photo - if I came across it I'll add it later! but it got compared to the stuff worn by the Welsh Eisteddfod singer/bardic peeps)

As I've probably bored everyone with - I have not long been discharged from the head injury unit including physio at Gloucester Royal - still under neurology but the main chunk of it is done. Charities like Headway - the brain injury association are an absolute life line and they have local branches but head injury sufferers often struggle to get the help that's needed especially as most of the time they still look "normal". I was being mistaken for being drunk and struggling with lots of things. So yeah - hats for headway 🙂

May Events 2018 (by )

Bit late to be adding this now considering I have already performed at a few including the Swindon Literature Festival's 25th anniversary extravaganza of a poetry slam (Joy-Amy won!!!) which included people like Tina Sedaholm and other previous winners. I have been to London, Bristol, and Stroud also - but that is the what has been and there is still a lot to come!

Sat 19th May 3-7 pm Food For Thoughts Heroes event in Worcester - poetry, music, spoken word, comedy and story telling - free with charity collection

Tues 22nd May 6-8 pm Gloucester's second Pecha Kucha Night - fast fun Japanese style presentations on various creative and community aspects or the creatives tales themselves - my presentations is From Rocks To Puppets and Back Again - Gloucester - free

Sun 27th May 2-4 pm - Sea Special Villanelles at Waterstones Cafe - I am co-hosting this event with poetry games and open mic, come and share your own work or poems that have inspired you - Gloucester - free and family friendly

Wed 30th May 7:30 pm start - History Showoff Women's Special at the Bishopsgate Institute - a night of comedy and cabaret - come and meet Aethelflaed the Puppet and learn about the Warrior Queen of the Mercians! (psst she's much better than her old dad who only went and burnt the cakes!) - ticketed event £9

And June isn't looking too shabby either - but more on that later!

Hospital – The Bad and The Good – med update (by )

After 3 yrs I am being discharged from the Head Injury Unit for Self-Care i.e. my quality of life is good and I am showing a positive trend in improvement and just need to keep on keeping on at my own pace - I am not back to 100% functionality but still have a good chance of reaching it! Neurology stuff for the seizure thingies needs to continue for now but this is still epic news - I was discharged from the physio a while back which ironically makes my time and fatigue management a lot easier as the hospital trips are the biggest drain!

Seizure stuff is a bit of a pain in the backside still - I haven't had anything major since the miscarriage but.... still getting muscle spasms, head pain/rushing noise - it's kind of both and I have no idea how to describe it but when it's happening my muscles are twitching worse than when the tens machine used to accidentally get switched up high! I also get colour drain in one eye and wet myself etc... I don't remember them but managed to have one when Al was laying next to me - it was mild but enough to observe the symptoms properly. My jaw also clamps down and I often bit the inside of my mouth or tongue.

Supermarkets... I still struggle with these damn shops - it's like they are designed to be maximum overload or something - but I can manage a half hour or so trip now with no problems - mainly I avoid peak times and being with the kids when shopping.

I am still having to have quiet breaks in order to get through the day - I can now skip rests but not for more than two days at a time and even then that is pushing it... but my speech is so much improved when I first went to the clinic it was still pretty slurry all the time and then it would get progressively worse the tireder I got - yesterday on 2 hrs sleep I managed an entire session being articulate and even laughing at the on going issues with face blindness (made a few booboos at the poetry festival with recognising or rather not recognising people!).

Mobility is in a little dip at the moment but that is not unusual - and is due to having had a little fall/slip whilst away on holiday and then walking all the ruins and castles and follies we could find regardless. The walking stick comes and goes and also is worse when I've had a seizure thingy - because it is something I have to use for pelvic pain, fatigue and sometimes just general managing to stand upright and not just tip straight over! Most of the time I don't have to use it at all! The last factor is the only one that the head injury has added the other two pre-date it!

The NHS have been fab with this but... getting head injuries picked up and dealt with is really hard, most people end up fending for themselves and here's the thing - if I hadn't had my family around to take care of me I am not sure what would have happened too me - I see some of our local homeless people and think about what I was like and... I still struggle with money and finding my way home - it would have been very easy for me and people like me to have ended up on the streets, in a very vulnerable position - but I have my family and they have made sure I was as safe as could be - I'm pretty sure others have not been so lucky, and I don't think there are the provisions in place to help them. I was being regularly mistaken for being drunk or drugged up and that kind of makes you invisible even within the A&E departments - something which I fear will get worse as funding cuts bite.

And back to that whole truma thing - hospitals.... I find them incredibly hard places to go into - they have saved my life - they have saved my babies and allowed them to be born, there has been care and compassion - there have also been sharp needles and knives, and pain and death and blood.. lots and lots of blood - most of the time my own but not always. Hospitals are places were I have been detained, places I couldn't leave (though I assume if I'd insisted I could have left), places where I have been strapped to beds or held down so that pipes and tubes could lit be rammed into me - emergency stuff is like this and for me I have sometimes been way more aware but unable to act on things. The idea that I might go in and not come out and that this will be surrounded by pain.... is always there - hovering with the smell of cleaning fluids, over cooked food and sickness that pervades.

Little side note here - the art works that are scattered around the hospitals became incredibly important to me at such times - sometimes they are the only things I truly remember from a hospital stay.

I had two hours sleep before the appointment because I had forgotten about it and then checked my calendar and there was the appointment large and bold and... in the block where I lost the baby and every time I tried to sleep all the stuff from before rushed back, for 18 months after I had Jean I had a reoccurring dream about being held down and crucified to keep her alive - I described it too Al and he was like, "that's a memory of them taking your deep arterial blood when you went into A&E" I don't really remember that happening, I do remember blood squirting up the cubical curtains and that it was my blood and I was pregnant but I can't recall which A&E trip it was but I know there was an old man screaming. Even things like my blood transfusion at 4 yrs old decides to come and haunt me on such nights.

If I know about the appointment I can prepare myself and sort my thoughts and write or draw the stuff away so I can sleep but if that doesn't happen we get what I had this time - dreams of machines where you feel like you are buried alive.

I gave up on sleep at 1:30 am and wondered down stairs to watch documentaries about Japan - there I marvelled about little old ladies that catch venomous water snakes that are 10x worse than rattle snakes - with their bare hands, wading into dark water caves in their flip flops - they reminded me of my nans - they way they chatted and got on with things etc... though obv. my nans only had adders and badgers to contend with but I do recall how they would chatter to each other! I watched deer being bowed too and bowing back at a temple and I rode my exercise bike with it's special seat to help when my pelvis is bad and managed to get myself physically exhausted enough to sleep from 4:30 until the 6 am school run start.

One of the dangers about feeling like this is that I don't want to go to the hospitals and clinics and drs so I avoid them as much as I can and sometimes my eagerness to be discharged is not because I am better but purely because it means I won't have to go to the hospital again so soon. Like wise I tend to put off going to the drs until something is really wrong.

So yeah - there we go - good thing head injury stuff is getting there and I know how to manage various things including the truma but things.... NHS is struggling and I am incredibly lucky to have physical stuff and not a mental health issue where the waiting lists and emergency provisions have all but crumbled.

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