Month: March 2012

And Then it was Four.

Yesterday was a very special day for me.

It marked four years of being in the most wonderful relationship with the most amazing person.

Thank you Tom, for everything you have given me, and happy anniversary my love.

You have made my life so much richer and I cannot say how much I am glad I met you.

I love you Tom.

 

What I Ate Wednesday No.29 + Sleep Talk

Guess what day it is today! Of course, it’s Wednesday, which means it’s this time of the week again:

Thank you once more to the lovely Jenn for creating the fantastic world of WIAW! If you’re new to the scene, click on the link to find out more details about this weekly party 🙂

For me Wednesdays are sort of the unknown, I never know how they will go, whether I will start to crash or whether I’ll still have energy and not be in too much pain… (more on that later). But for now, my breakfast:

Wednesday’s mean a 9am start and my favourite lecture of the week. I used to get up at 8am when I had 9am starts but lately I’ve been trying to a) establish a more regular sleeping pattern and routine, and b) wake up earlier.

Why? Well I actually used to be a fairly early riser, a few years ago I’d wake up at 6.30am every weekday morning even though I didn’t need to be in school till 8.35am and my bike ride there was only 10 minutes long. Until this academic year in fact, I’ve never been a late riser. The only time I used to lie-in much was either if I’d had a really late night or if Tom was staying over – even then we’d wake up by 9am and then just be lazy for ages! The latest I’d ever really get up was about 9.30am. However, coming to uni and becoming much more ill, a combination of the fatigue, physical exhaustion from the pain and my medication has meant that I find it really difficult to get up in the morning.

But I hate wasting mornings. I don’t mind staying in bed for ages if I’m doing something or reading, but I hate sleeping in for hours and then not being ready till midday by which time half the day is already almost over. So I’ve decided that I am going to gradually move the time I wake up (and go to bed) a bit earlier. I’m just going to move early start days half an hour earlier, I don’t see the need to wake up before 7am at the earliest, and then on other days I want to make sure I get up by about 9am.

Anyway, moving on to lunch:

Now, everyday in my inbox I receive the Word of the Day from the Oxford English Dictionary Online. (I know I know, I’m a massive English Geek, what can I say!) and if it’s a word I didn’t know before then I save it.

The other day the word was ‘bouncebackability‘.

What a word. Did you even know that was one whole word? The spell-checker doesn’t even recognise it!

I think it is such a brilliant word. The OED definition is ‘The capacity to recover quickly or fully from a setback, bad situation, etc.’ This is something that I really feel as though I have. For the last few months I have had all sorts of things thrown at me, and many a difficult situation to deal with, and I feel like I have managed to recover and move past the negative side of things.

And I think it’s something that many of you wonderful bloggers have too 🙂 I never fail to be impressed by the lot of you, the way you handle some really difficult and sometimes upsetting situations with positivity and determination to grow and learn. You are, each and every one of you, absolutely amazing people!

Do you know what else has been amazing lately? The weather!

I have been going outside everyday to read and work because I love feeling the sun on my skin and being outside with nature (sort of). I mentioned the other day I bought some new wedges and I’m loving them in this weather. When my back feels good and strong I’ve been gradually wearing them in. They’re just what I wanted, elegant but still not very high (only about 2 inches), plus they’re cute!

Green grass too, to go with today’s WIAW theme 🙂

This afternoon I snacked on this deliciousness:

As I said at the start of this post, Wednesday evenings are often when I start to crash. I guess it’s because it’s the middle of the week, the energy I had from the rest over the weekend has started to wane and I’m usually quite sore after having had to walk uphill to my lecture. Today has been a struggle, mentally because I have lots of work and I’m starting to feel a bit stressed, and physically because I’m just exhausted. I’ve had a constant headache from the fatigue and my whole body feels like lead… However, I have actually managed to do some work! I have nearly all of my sources for my various essays which is great 🙂

Dinner tonight was pretty typical for me:

Courgettes, pan-fried with garlic, and Moroccan spiced couscous. Easy, quick, and simple!

Anyway I am going to say goodnight now, I have another early start tomorrow, I still have lots of work to do and I want to get lots of sleep!

Hope you’re all having a good week 🙂

What’s your sleep pattern like?
How many hours a night do you need to feel well rested and energetic?
Do you have ‘bouncebackability’?
What sort of a day is Wednesday for you? 

A Birthday Dinner.

Hello lovelies!

I’m sorry I didn’t post yesterday, I was exhausted when I got in!

Before I talk about my birthday can I just say an enormous thank you for all of your wonderful, supportive comments on my Sunday post. All of the comments were thoughtful, caring and really quite complimentary and I am so so grateful for all of the support you give! You are such wonderful people 🙂 Blogging has brought so much joy to my life and a huge part of that is down to the people who read and especially the people who take the time to comment, email and continuously support me!! I will reply to all of them tomorrow when I have a little more energy!

Now, as you probably all know, yesterday was my birthday.

At 9.31pm I turned nineteen 😉

I had a really good day despite having two lectures and a physio appointment. I started out my day opening the cards that arrived on Saturday (so hard to resist opening them early!):

In the middle of those cards sits a nutella and banana cookie that I made on Sunday, topped with nutella and sugar sprinkles. Perfect alongside my weetabix mush!

Also aren’t my cards lovely? All of my cards this year either involve flowers or cupcakes which made me smile. I’m somewhat predictable it would seem. I hope you’ve spotted the lovely handmade card from my sister, I thought it was absolutely lovely 🙂

My physio appointment actually went really well, she said she was extremely impressed by the progress I’ve made so things are looking up!

Anyway, on to the fun part of my day. To celebrate my birthday, as I was away from home and didn’t have Tom with me, I thought it would be nice to go for a meal. My friends and I decided on Bella Italia which was great for two main reasons: I love Italian food and we had a voucher so saved money!

I had a really lovely time and the food was fantastic. I had a delicious main course:

I went with the Bucatini Gamberoni which they describe ‘eight succulent king prawns sautéed with garlic and chilli in a spicy pomodoro sauce with bucatini lunghi’. Bucatini lunghi is basically fat spaghetti and I actually think I prefer it to regular spaghetti because it twirls around the fork more easily! The spicy tomato sauce was delicious and it’s so nice to have prawns because they are fairly pricey so I never buy or cook them for myself.

The group, who didn’t all know each other previously, all gelled really well and we spent most of meal in laughter. It was nice to have a time to relax and recharge without having to think about work or stress.

We decided, as it was a special occasion, to get dessert for the celebration. I shared this delicious looking creation with Kathryn and it was just too tasty!

Doesn’t it look amazing? It’s called the Godfather Fragola – ‘vanilla and strawberry ice cream, crushed meringue, strawberry coulis, fresh strawberries, whipped cream and dark chocolate sprinkles’.

So good.

I just wish I could do more than talk to my loved ones on the phone (and I’m getting impatient for my presents!). We’ve decided we’ll celebrate my birthday as a family when I get back home (3 days!!!).

Anyway, it’s getting late so I’m off to bed. I hope you’re all having a fantastic week 🙂

Do you like to make/receive handmade cards?
How do like to celebrate your own birthday?
Best dessert you’ve eaten lately?

 

An Uphill Struggle – On Fibromyalgia.

img_4947

I have started several posts with the sentence ‘lately, I’ve been struggling’ and it’s often true.

In fact, I could quite easily start many more posts with that.

Because it’s true, I do struggle, I struggle an awful lot.

Over the past year I have had to really come to terms with the fact that I have a chronic condition and probably will have for the rest of my life.

Whether it is a chronic pain condition, a chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, or all of these, I HAVE A CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITION.

There, I’ve said it and it’s written in caps lock so there really is no denying it!

For the time being, we’re calling it fibromyalgia which sort of is a mixture of the three. It also sounds nice and official which makes a change after years of having to say ‘well… I have this back problem… the doctors don’t know what it is…’ which never got taken seriously.

So I thought I’d write an informative post about the condition, so that I get it all out there in the open. I have talked about my condition before, if you want to read them (I promise it’s not too depressing) here are the links: Living With Chronic Pain – Part 1, and Living With Chronic Pain – Part 2.

Recently I read this post from Mary’s blog Fibromy-Awesome. It really touched me. And I just felt I had to write this.

Why did I decide to write this post? Honestly, I absolutely promise that it is not because I need a rant, I’m writing this almost for the opposite reason. Firstly many people have asked me questions about my condition and I’ve never really explained the symptoms I have, secondly I feel like I need to write this – it’s like catharsis, and thirdly I want to accept that my condition has gotten much much worse and then move on. Writing this is me saying, okay I have a condition and it sucks, but my life is about much more than that and I’m moving past it.

The NHS website defines fibromyalgia as such:

‘Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome, is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. 

The name fibromyalgia comes from three Latin words:

  • ‘fibro’ meaning fibrous tissues, such as tendons (tissue that connects muscles to bones) and ligaments (tissue that connects bones to bones)
  • ‘my’ meaning muscles
  • ‘algia’ meaning pain

However, the pain of fibromyalgia does not just affect the muscles, ligaments and tendons, but is felt all over the body. It results in widespread pain and extreme tiredness. People with fibromyalgia may also have:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • muscle stiffness’
What does it all mean in terms of my life? Well here are some of the main symptoms I (and thousands like me) have to contend with every single day:

Pain

Ah my old friend pain. Here is a sad fact about my life, it actually almost makes me cry to think about it, I honestly don’t remember what it feels like to feel no pain. For me, this was the first part of my condition that I experienced. Essentially, I have been in constant pain for the last 3 years and experienced pain everyday for 2 and a half years before that. I wake up in pain and most days this just grows as it goes on. I go to bed in pain. So far, none of the pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc that I have been given have worked. I have learnt to deal with the pain and if I’m honest I think I will be in pain for the rest of my life. Pain seems to be something the body, or at least my body, can’t adapt to. I can’t ignore it, I can’t get used to it, it never goes away. I feel the pain most acutely in my hips, lower back, upper back, shoulders and neck: I have sharp stabbing, shooting pain up my spine throughout the day. My knees, ankles, arms, wrists and hands are, so far, less affected. The whole of my body constantly aches, many days I struggle to walk much, I can’t stand for any length of time at all, sitting upright causes my back huge amounts of pain and even lying down is no longer comfortable…

Fatigue

This is a newer factor for me, I’ve only really had problems with fatigue for the last year or so, and it’s only become serious since starting university. I struggle to sleep but I am on medication for that which does actually manage to knock me out for the night. But when I wake up, which is really difficult with the drugs (you win some, you lose some), I feel as though I haven’t slept. Most days I can gather up enough energy to go about my daily life, some days I actually feel pretty good and manage to live more normally, but some days I crash. I feel completely drained and exhausted, even lifting my arm feels like excruciating effort and I stay in bed for the entire day. This usually leaves me feeling completely weak, I am unsteady on my feet and last term I even collapsed twice – half from the pain, half from the exhaustion. The fatigue often brings on headaches, I usually have 3 or 4 a week (my pain also causes headaches).

Extreme Sensitivity

This is a difficult one to judge because it’s hard to remember what I experienced 5 years ago and differentiate that from what I experience now to figure out what is caused by my condition. I have become much more sensitive to bright light (e.g. overhead lights, bright sunlight, etc), it hurts my eyes, makes me feel tired and gives me headaches. The same goes with loud(ish) noises. I also experience hyperalgesia which is when you are extremely sensitive to pain, banging my toe or elbow is extremely painful and causes my back to jar. I also get cold very easily and the cold causes my joints to be more painful than usual.

Stiffness

I am, as I already mentioned, extremely stiff in the morning when I wake up and this often carries into the day. It makes sitting in lectures or sitting at my desk extremely painful. The stiffness and pain also causes a lot of tension in my muscles which in turn occasionally causes them to spasm which is where they contract tightly. Sometimes when this happens my knees buckle and I stumble, it’s difficult not to fall over. Lately I have also found that my hands spasm pretty painfully when I am writing by hand or typing. If I’m honest, this particularly worries me.

Cognitive Disturbance

This has in a way been the hardest symptom to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, the pain and the fatigue are awful to deal with, they have taken so much of my life. But this has really really affected my work and that is not easy to deal with, either at Sixth Form or at university. When things are particularly difficult I have trouble remembering even the simplest of facts, I have difficulties concentrating, I get dizzy and struggle with balance, my eye sight blurs slightly and my head spins pretty badly. The strength of my medication really doesn’t help with these issues. These cognitive disturbances get referred to as ‘fibro-fog’ (somewhat patronizing in my opinion) and they make reading difficult which I really hate, they also make working and revising very complicated and sometimes impossible tasks. Combined with my inability to sit at my desk too long from the pain and the exhaustion the fatigue brings, doing my work at university has been incredibly difficult and organisation is hard to keep on top of. I used to be the sort of person who did her work the day it was assigned, was super organised and had everything ‘just so’, as such this has been really difficult and hurtful to deal with.


I really don’t want this post to be just about me, and I certainly am not looking for any sympathy. What I want is to raise awareness about conditions like mine, these so-called ‘hidden illnesses’.

The other day I took the lift to go up two floors in Waterstones. I didn’t have my cane as I was with my mum and I could lean on her arm if I needed. As we got to the second floor there was a couple with a toddler in a pushchair waiting for the lift. My mum went past but then as I went past the guy exclaimed, in that loudly obnoxious voice people use when they’re feeling self-righteous, something like “Oh yeah, because you’re disabled!” and then proceeded to complain to the woman with him. Now to be honest, on that day I was really struggling so, unless one of them had a condition like mine, it would have actually been easier for them to carry the pushchair between them (it’s not like they’re very heavy!) down the two flights of stairs than it would have been for me to climb them. So although I wasn’t particularly upset by the experience, I was a little irritated. What if I had been a cancer sufferer going through chemo, or an AIDS patient, or a cystic fibrosis sufferer, a sufferer of clinical depression, or anything ‘hidden’ like that?

It’s just plain ignorance to act like that and it really made me think that we really shouldn’t judge people, you never know what they are going through behind closed doors.

Anyway, I really hope you have taken something from this post. It took a lot of energy and emotion to write and I feel pretty drained now. But actually, I am proud of myself for pushing through this, I am proud of myself for not giving up, I am proud of myself for what I have achieved.

img_4956

Tomorrow is my birthday (yay!) and I promise I will be back with a slightly easier to read and more uplifting post!

Did you learn something from this post?
What are your thoughts on ‘hidden illnesses’?
If you would like to, I’d love for you to share something ‘hidden’ that you struggle with!

Some Food Lately.

Hey hey 🙂

Sorry for the temporary absence, I wanted to make the absolute most of being with Tom, we have to make the most of every moment we have together!

We had a really wonderful week and it was absolutely lovely to make the most of the gorgeous weather we were lucky enough to have. We enjoyed more coffees than I’ve ever bought in a week, we went for walks, we cooked together, we sat in parks to read, we ate out together…

I cannot wait for the Easter holidays when we will hopefully have days and days to spend together, enjoying more of these lovely things.

Anyway, I’ve had a sort of productive/sort of useless day. I’ve managed to get some things done and forgotten about others. The clocks change tonight and I’m not sure whether my phone changes automatically or whether I should change it myself… Nightmare! (It’s not a smart phone but I sort of remember it changing itself last time)

The best thing about today? I found some low wedges from New Look for only £16, they’re perfect for the warmer weather and they shouldn’t hurt my back more than other shoes! I will take a photo for you tomorrow 🙂

Until then, as my medication is making me feel pretty drowsy/dizzy and therefore making it difficult to type, I thought I’d share some photos of my recent eats:

 {Dinner on Thursday night – Tom and I cooked a melange of vegetables and Quorn chicken pieces to have with my favourite chickpea spaghetti}

{Lunch on Friday in the cafe with Tom – sweet and sour noodle salad}

{Vanilla latte in Cafe Nero sometime this week}

{One of many bowls of Weetabix mush with frozen raspberries}

{Today’s lunch – whole wheat pasta with pan-fried red pepper, onion and garlic, with a tomato sauce and sprinkling of Parmesan}

So there you have a selection of my eats (essentially the food I remembered to take a photo of) for the past couple of days. I’ve been eating quite well and I went shopping for food today for probably the last time this term! So looking forward to food at home. I have a ton of recipes bookmarked and plenty of baking ideas that I can’t wait to have fun with in my love kitchen at home 🙂

How has your week been?
What have you eaten recently, anything particularly memorable?
Weekend plans?

What I Ate Wednesday No.29

Hello my lovely readers,

I’ve missed the last couple of What I Ate Wednesday‘s so I thought I’d better join in with this week’s!

If you still don’t know what it’s all about make sure you go check out the lovely Jenn’s blog to join the party 🙂

Today has been another lovely day. The girls with whom I walk to lectures in the morning commenting that I was particularly awake and bubbly which makes a change! I think Tom should move here permanently 😉

Breakfast was brought to me when he got back from his run and I enjoyed it with the lovely flowers he bought me…

After lectures we met and went to the nicest little cafe down by the lake. They serve amazing scones and we just couldn’t resist sampling the cheese ones, they were just so tempting:

After the doctor’s appointment (standard appointment – nothing to report) we then went off to have lunch at one of my favourite restaurant as an early celebration for my birthday.

I got a plate of pita with taramasalata, tatziki and hummus with a mixed veg salad. It was a delicious meal, just the sort of thing I love and would pretty much eat everyday if I had the money!

Tom got a really delicious cajun chicken burger with hand-cut chips and salad. It was really tasty and I may have snagged a chip…

Then when we thought we were done with the meal, the waitress tempted us with dessert, again we couldn’t resist.

We decided to get two to share:

A rather decadent brownie.

And what I loved best was this flapjack with ginger and apricot – so good. I’m definitely try to recreate this beauty when I’m back home!

Right, that’s me done, I’m going to bed with a nice full stomach 😉

So worth it though, back to celery and hummus tomorrow!

How’s your week going?
What’s the most delicious thing you’ve eaten recently?

 

Only Love.

The post title is the name of a song I am obsessed with at the moment.

But it is also the way today has been and the way I feel right now.

Having Tom here is wonderful.

Firstly he wakes up super early to go for runs so I get woken up on his return with breakfast in bed 🙂

But it’s wonderful for a whole load of other reasons too.

Beautiful sunny walks around campus.

Iced coffee.

Or pint-sized cups of coffee for some people.

Beautiful strolls down by the lake.

Watching the geese and ducks flock to be fed.

Appreciating the gorgeous signs of spring.

And cooking a delicious dinner together.

It’s been a lovely day, it’s so nice to make the most of the gorgeous weather, especially when I have someone gorgeous to appreciate it with 😉

Hope you’re all having a fantastic week!

Did you have nice weather? How did you spend it?
What would be your ideal sunny weather activity be?
Anything planned for the week?