Personal archive

Health, relationships and more besides. Read about my battles with PMDD, my mental health, surviving both childhood sexual abuse and a 12 years of emotional abuse as well personal projects and challenges, and anything vaguely Jem-related.

Essure procedure: 3 months on

Warning: lots of “TMI” in this post, so if you’re a wee sensitive soul you might want to skip this one.

As we approach 3 months to the day since I had the essure procedure done, I should be receiving a letter for my appointment to confirm how successful it was any day now: whether or not I can finally stop taking the pill and rely on my ‘scarred up’ tubes. In the mean time, I thought it would be a good idea to log the changes I’ve noticed since I had the procedure.

Firstly, in the days following the essure, I had significant period-style cramping and some spotting/light bleeding but this was to be expected and settled down quite quickly. In the first period following the essure I started spotting a few days earlier than my period would normally start (bearing in mind they’re regulated by the combined pill still at this point) and then in the first few days of actual menstruation, I would bleed incredibly heavy losing very large clumps, akin to an early miscarriage! The heavy bleeding would last for approx 3 days then stop almost suddenly as it arrived, leaving me spotting for a days or so before finishing completely.

In between periods I experience some minor cramping around the time when I would be ovulating (again, despite the combined pill) and my hormone-related mood swings would peak: anxiety back to pre-prozac levels for a few days before settling down. Then, just before the next bleed, pre-prozac levels of anger and impatience. At this point if it weren’t for the mood stability in between these peaks, I’d be worrying that I’d undone the benefit of starting the prozac for my PMDD!

As well as changes to my periods, I’m now experiencing nickel sensitivities (the coils they insert into your tubes are made with nickel) and can no longer wear my Garmin day to day because of a red, itchy patch of contact dermatitis on my left wrist from the buckle. This is a common complaint after the essure but the official website only states that its a risk if you have existing sensitivities. I’d been wearing my watch for approx 1 year prior to this with no problems.

I also have other new “symptoms” which I cannot pinpoint to the procedure specifically, but are recorded by other women post-essure: joint pain, itching, fatigue, weight gain despite working out at least 4 days a week, painful intercourse, vaginal discharge.

This week I’m battling throbbing / pulsating pain radiating from the location of my right ovary and lower back pain similar to early period cramping as well as excess tiredness and hot flushes. However, I was assaulted in the early hours of Saturday AM (don’t worry, I’m fine) and may have been hit in the lower abdomen. I’m hoping that the pain will go on its own and that the insert on that side hasn’t shifted.

Day to day, I am mostly OK and don’t (yet?) regret having the procedure. I’m trying to bear in mind that I’m still in the early days and my body is likely still producing scar tissue around the implanted coils. We’ll see how it goes from here…

In defence of selfies

I was flicking through a thread on mumsnet last week — procrastination in action — about people who take lots of selfies. The consensus of opinion was that people who take a lot of selfies are vain, insecure and lacking self-esteem. Mumsnet’s AIBU, apparently the last bastion of social etiquette and good manners, thinks that people who post a lot of selfies should get a hobby.

Maybe a hobby like criticising people on Mumsnet…

trolololol

I disagree, of course. I don’t think people with low self esteem post selfies for validation. Quite the opposite, I think often people with truly low self esteem tend not to post pictures of themselves at all for fear of judgement and comments, essentially cutting themselves out of their own history.

Of course there’s exceptions to the rule, in which case do we really need to be telling people who feel so badly about themselves that they’re a piece of shit and should stop posting on the Internet? That they need to do something more productive, or more worthwhile?

Who are these strangers to judge whether or not these selfie-addicts deserve to exist in their little safe space?

Given a choice between complimenting a serial-selfier and taking another kick at their apparently already low confidence levels, should we be defaulting to the kick in the teeth option? If a selfie is taken to seek validation – to justify existing in this world – is giving validation or giving hate more harmful?

Of course the selfie-hate is not a Mumsnet-only thing. It’s a fairly common opinion that people should not like themselves enough to share that with the world. Know your place, selfie takers!

Selfies document progress and milestones, holidays, hairstyles and fashion trends, culture and identity. Selfies are proof that we exist in our own lives: for others, for ourselves, and for potential future generations. They create communities between likeminded and lookalikes, allowing us to experience a truly multicoloured, multiflavoured, multicultural world that would otherwise be out of reach for many.

I take selfies. Good selfies, bad selfies. Duck-face selfies, new hair selfies, suns-out-guns-out selfies. Selfies with the kids and without. Selfies with friends, selfies in the mirror. Selfies on holiday and at home.

all-the-selfies

I finally have a record of my path in life and nobody can take that away from me, Mumsnet or otherwise.

Wedding Antics

So who got married last week? Just me? Oh :)

jaz-wedding-web

On May 16th at 11:30ish (we were early) Gaz and I officially tied the knot (as they say; no actual knots were tied). In a short and sweet ceremony where I agreed to love and cherish my “awfully” wedded husband, we exchanged rings, had a quick snog then went for yummy grub at my favourite pizza restaurant.

On Saturday night we made it all the more real with a celebration for family and friends who very kindly travelled from as far away as London, Scotland and even Belgium.

We ate a big hog roast, expensive cheeses, locally made cupcakes and the best tasting popcorn I’ve ever eaten from Joe & Seph’s. Seriously, that stuff is adictive. I don’t even eat popcorn normally and now I’m thinking about getting the catering size packs in for “emergencies”.

Music was provided by local band Lost the Plot and was heartily enjoyed by all guests. Huge thanks to these guys for entertaining us all evening, and for playing (by special request) Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”. There’s something particularly amusing about 3 ageing muscians (sorry guys) playing a song about curvy young women.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the night, including one of me dancing like a bellend (for your personal enjoyment):

what kind of dancing is that

team gazza

the look of love

And there are tons more photos are up on Facebook, if you know where to look.

Rabbits, half marathons, fitness & weddings

Holy crap, it feels like I basically haven’t stopped doing stuff lately. I’d blame that for my inconsistent blogging but we all know that’s been an issue for many years, so I’ll cut to the chase and get you up to speed on the funky biz that’s happening in my life at the moment…

The wabbit

I brought Peanut home and within 3 days I’d got him eating better food (science selective nuggets – best commercial rabbit food you can buy), more hay, and as I type this he’s on the lawn grazing on grass and clover. He is still nervous about being approached, and isn’t too keen on the resident guinea pigs, but I did manage to get a couple of strokes yesterday before he binky-ed off.

peanut-rabbit

Half marathon

On Wednesday, I completed the “May the 4th Be With You” trail half marathon: 13.1 miles up and down the beautiful hills of Church Stretton in Shropshire. Ascending more than 2000ft, this was perhaps both the most challenging and yet most enjoyable race I’ve ever taken part in. It was a fabulous day (the weather was really on our side) and the company of some fellow Broseley Joggers made it a fantastic experience all in. We finished in 3 hours 21 minutes officially, although had stopped to take pictures and enjoy the snacks at the water station, so actual moving time was more like 3 hours 10.

half-marathon-medal

Fitness bits

I’ve been LOVING going to the gym, having fit in an upper body session this morning (resting my legs after Wednesday / got a 10k on Sunday!) I’ve been visiting twice a week most weeks since the beginning of April now. I’ve not had any issues with dudebros, people are always happy to answer questions and will let you step in without a second thought. Nobody has made me feel unwelcome or inferior because I’m a relative n00b (and female; although this causes the odd double take).

As well as the gym, Gaz and I have recently signed up to ongoing taekwon-do sessions having participated in a cheap trial month. We’re both approaching our first assessment thingymabob to go up a belt, which is strangely intimidating and yet should be fairly easy.

Wedding bells

In less than two weeks time Gaz and I will be married. I’ve finally found a simple wedding ring I like (two, actually.. don’t ask) and everything else is sorted. Not that there was much to sort for the wedding, because it’s literally going to be a case of turn up, say I do, go eat pizza. WINNING.

The wedding party was slightly more complex to organise but even then: food, booze, people, music. Bob’s your uncle, etc. I’ll tell you more about that after the event, of course.

Of course, I genuinely can’t believe that this is actually happening. I thought Gaz would have got bored / fed up with me long before this point. He’s clearly mad.

But then… aren’t we all?

I just can’t help myself

After the recent loss of Hex, and prior to that both one of my older male guinea pigs and Bramble AKA MEGABUN, I decided that I was fed up of things dying on me (melodramatic, much?) and that was it for pets and me: no more animals.

Considering that at various points I’ve had up to 12 animals at any one time, this would be a massive personal change. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I just can’t seem to help myself.

I started volunteering with Shropshire Cat Rescue on Tuesday of this week — stage 2 of Get My Arse Into Gear — and having convinced myself that I absolutely must not come home with another cat, I somehow instead agreed to bring home a rabbit.

I couldn’t help myself: when I heard the story of his beginnings, and saw how his selective feeding of a muesli diet was affecting his poos (poos are a huge indicator of state of health in rabbits! see more info) As with many of the animals that end up here, I just feel the need to ‘fix it’. Thank you, empathy.

I pick him up next Tuesday, after my next sesson at the rescue. If you can’t wait til then for proper pictures, here he was yesterday, checking me out:

peanut

Looking forward to having the little floofball home :3

In which my cat makes me go to the gym

I did something yesterday that I’ve been working up to since August last year. I called a local free weights gym to see if they could give me advice, check my form, and generally just introduce me to the gym environment so that I can progress with my lifting (which has unfortunately plateaued again).

My oldest cat Hex — my first ‘baby’, long before I knew I decided I wanted actual babies — passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning, leaving me feeling bereft. I’ve been up and down a lot lately struggling with work and life throwing lemons at me, but this was the final nail in the coffin that pushed me to rock bottom. I did nothing but cry and watch Harry Potter (my favourite ‘self pity’ TV) for about 3 days, before finally giving myself a massive kick up the butt.

This has to be a catalyst for change. I can’t go on full of woe, achieving nothing. I realised (not for the first time) that I have to start making the changes I promised myself last year when I went back to working for myself. I KNOW I need to get out of the house and do something that doesn’t include staring at a screen all day. If I don’t, I’m only letting myself down.

And so… like I said, I rang the gym. And the guy invited me down for an intro session, which I went to this morning. We went over my standard lifts: the squats, deadlifts and overhead press which I do at home. Then he introduced me to lat pulldowns, and other back/shoulder exercises to help me reach my goal of doing a pull-up. I was thrilled to discover that my squat was immediately stronger when not having to overhead press the bar first! I was complimented on my depth, too. ;)

It wasn’t a sausage-fest den of huge dudes groaning over their dumbbell curls, although apparently it’s generally quiet first thing. And, even better, I didn’t feel hugely out of place or self-concious like I thought I would.

It’s not that working out at home isn’t doing the job any more; I still use youtube for perfecting lift form, NerdFitness and the Stronglifts 5×5 for workout inspiration, Maxinutrition has some great advice on how to build muscle (their pro-fat approach is right up my street, I eat everything spread with butter or mayonnaise). Working out in my undies with my barbell (don’t do that at the gym) still kicks my ass, helps me maintain my weight and makes me feel like a badass superhero, but I’m limited by my lack of equipment and — especially recently — lack of space.

I don’t know if adding the gym to my already busy timetable is The Answer, but it sure as hell is a positive step forwards.

No more babies

Back in February I asked my GP for referral for a sterilisation. I saw the consultant last Monday to confirm that I fully understood what was involved in the process and the fact that it was a permanent, non-reversible contraception etc etc. I was offered a newer, non-surgical procedure called Essure®, which basically involves inserting two small coils into the falopian tubes via the vagina, which cause scar tissue to form blocking off the tubes and preventing sperm from reaching an egg.

I agreed to the procedure, signed a consent form and was told I’d hear shortly for an appointment date. I went home expecting to be waiting for another few months. I mean, the NHS is brilliant but for elective procedures and non-urgent care it can be (rightly) slow.

Not so much… within two hours of getting home I was called by someone from the hospital to advise that a cancellation had been made, and could I make it in the following Tuesday (29th March). Holy shit batman. (Talking of which, the new Batman vs Superman? Pants.)

On Monday night, I lay in bed and had a little cry as I thought about what this procedure meant: no more growing babies in my tummy. No more breastfeeding cuddles. No more snuggling tiny humans to sleep by my side. But what reassured me about this little release was that I didn’t feel regret, or like I was having a last minute change of heart, but simply coming to terms with experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have and realising that although beautiful and life-changing and fulfilling, I am done.

No more babies.

Monthly post to confirm not-deadness (and other exciting news)

Not sure I made that blog title long enough?

Anyway.. hi, here I am. Not dead. Which you probably already know because you all follow me on social media. Don’t you?

Things have been a bit hectic lately. Last time I spoke to you I was just starting my new drugs. Which … oops, haven’t taken them yet today —interlude— …which seem to be working fine. I mean, I guess they are because after the weird zombie-no-feelings period I just felt normal. And normal is good, I like feeling “normal”. I can function, take care of my kids, not shout at everyone / everything, and generally just get on with life.

They haven’t been the miracle cure for my motivation that I was hoping for. I still seem to have issues with lack of coding mojo, and have to force myself to work, but we can’t have everything. This was especially problematic in February when I was ill and the kids were ill and everything went disastrously wrong and I did about 10 hours billable work, but I am vaguely back on track now so as long as I can do two months work in March, I’ll be fine HAHAHA BYE SAVINGS.

To add to the risk factor of my currently complicated catch up lifestyle, I’ve ‘invested’ in (that sounds way posher than the reality) a new project which will add to my current site portfolio expanding my passive income earning potential in the long term. Hopefully. If I can get the work it needs done. You can probably see the flaw in this plan…

Boring work stuff aside, I’m approximately 2 months off getting married and haven’t planned anything. I’ve lost 3 pets in as many months (predator, illness and old age respectively). And, the house stinks because the kitten I got for Gaz for Christmas keeps shitting everywhere.

But at least I feel normal now.

Giving in

I went to the doctors a couple of weeks ago and got my referral for sterilisation as mentioned back in January. The doctor tried to give me non-permanent long term contraceptive options but was obviously content that I had done my research and knew what I wanted as he consented to the referral. I can only hope that it continues to be as simple a process when I see the gynae specialist (must make that appointment).

While I was at the doctors we talked again about the debilitating effect the suspected PMDD has on my life: that I am basically inable to function for 2 out of every 4 weeks. I “gave in” and accepted his recommendation of trying fluoxetine (prozac) which has been shown to be effective in several studies, e.g.:

The marked increase in the number of well-designed placebo-controlled studies in the past decade has established several selective serotonin reuptake– inhibiting antidepressants as effective first-line treatments for this disorder. Both continuous dosing and intermittent luteal dosing strategies lead to rapid improvement in symptoms and functioning.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC353031

I say “gave in”, because that’s what it feels like I am doing. Feels like I’m letting it win. Having spent a lifetime stubbornly battling my problems by myself, this feels like a step backwards. Of course it’s not giving in: it’s fighting back. It’s accepting that there are ways to combat the issues I have without driving myself crazy shouldering it alone, or making excuses for myself and my inability to cope.

I’m currently trialling intermittent luteal dosing (second half of my cycle) to see if that helps. The side effects (nausea, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping) are hard going but I feel like they’re starting to pass. I do feel quite zombie-like at the moment, literally spending hours feeling absolutely nothing, but I also have seen a marked improvement in rage responses over the past couple of days. I hope this is *it*, and not a fluke…

300ft is really quite a lot

Last week I told you all about Team SCA‘s bloody AMAZING all-female crew winning the 8th leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, and that in honour of their win I was encouraged to take part in a challenge that would test my boundaries. I picked the 300ft bungee jump: the equivalent of jumping off the tower of Big Ben.

On Saturday 6th February I set off to Tatton Park to complete my challenge. The weather was utter shite: freezing cold winds and torrential rain accompanied the journey, and at several points I honestly wondered whether the venue would let the jump go ahead let alone whether or not I’d be able to do it.

I was third in the queue for my time slot when I got there and third strapped into the various harnesses, which in my mind was absolutely perfect. Seeing someone else jump first would allow me to see the ‘procedure’: how it works, how high 300ft looked from the ground, how close the jumper got to the crane etc. All the little things that — as someone suffering from mid-cycle anxiety anyway — would help to cement a picture of what was going to happen in my head making it easier (mentally) to jump.

And then they picked me to jump first.

I wasn’t nervous UNTIL THAT POINT. Suddenly all my unanswered questions were swirling round in my head and I had no baseline, no point of comparison, nothing to steady my mind. At this point I wasn’t even thinking that “shit 300ft is quite high” I was literally just thinking I AM FIRST I AM FIRST WTF.

I’m not ashamed to admit that at THIS is when I started to panic. I started asking questions: what’s the likelihood that I would hit the crane on the descent? What does it feel like when the bungee reaches the point where all the slack is gone and you start to spring back up in the air? WHY DID I AGREE TO JUMP OUT OF A FUCKING HUGE CRANE 300FT IN THE AIR?

Anyway. We reached 300ft, and after a few false starts I knew I had no choice. I had to do it, or chicken out, and with a small crowd below there was no bloody way I was letting that happen. I let pride and ego take over and with a bit of a nudge from the guy in the cage I was away. See for yourself…

tl;dr: I jumped and would totes do it again.

IMG_7350

Risks, boundaries and a 300ft jump

Back in June 2015 Team SCA won the 8th leg of the Volvo Ocean Race which in its whole, spans 5 continents and over 39000 nautical miles. The first all-female crew to enter the Volvo Ocean Race in more than a decade, the women battled across 647 gruelling miles, which saw multiple crew members suffering from sea sickness, sleep deprivation, hunger and fatigue but their win put them in the history books as the first ever female team to win a leg of the epic race.

Just before the win, I was contacted to see if I’d be interested in completing a challenge. Team SCA wanted to find out if I’d be up for a bit of boundary pushing of my own, offering me the chance to take part in one of several activities, including a 300ft bungee jump.

I’ve always wanted to do a bungee jump, but never really had a reason to do it. What better reason than doing so as a nod to some of the most badass women in the sailing world? I mean, a 300ft jump is not quite as impressive as winning a boat race against 6 all-male crews, but as I still can’t swim that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

Unfortunately my first jump was cancelled by the venue, but we’re now rapidly approaching Jump Date Two: it’s this Saturday. And I’m starting to get a wee bit nervous. A 300ft jump doesn’t sound too bad when you’re blindly agreeing to blogging challenges in the heady summer days right before you disappear off on holiday, but when it’s February, and it’s cold and wet and you suddenly realise that the 300ft jump is the highest bungee jump you can do in the UK… a jump that is basically akin to jumping off the tower that houses Big Ben:

big-ben-elizabeth-tower

…well, that starts to seem a little bit more like something I should have actively thought about. A cursory google, for example, points out that risks from bungee jumping including popping eyeballs, muscle injuries, spinal fractures, herniated discs and even paralysis and quadriplegia. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, you can even die. (Apparently Noel Edmonds’ BBC programme The Late, Late Breakfast Show was cancelled in the year I was born after a bungee jump went wrong and a man died.)

But, Dr Google also thinks I have 4 different forms of cancer, so I’m not rushing to do a last minute cancel here. I’m no stranger to pushing boundaries and taking risks. Not many people jack in their job to go freelance with two kids and a mortgage to pay on their own; nearly completely stripping off on a beach in Spain despite barely exposing half a leg before; agreeing to marry a man despite being vociferously feminist and against virtually every wedding tradition… if I can do those things, push those boundaries, I can do this.

I mean, what’s 300ft between friends…

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

I’m 30 and nothing’s different

Well howdy. It somehow got to January 20th without me noticing. Funny how this time-passing-by thing works.

I turned 30 in style, partying the night away with some of my favourite people. I even took two dresses to my party because I am that awesome. Came away with a car boot-full of presents too, which made me cry on more than one occasion. Apparently I get soppier as I get older.

Turning 30 has not given me a greater wisdom, sudden grown-up super powers or anything of that sort (which I’d kinda hoped for). Indeed, I still spent most of last Thursday in bed pretending I wasn’t an adult with Responsibilities until I remembered I had to take Bramble (MEGABUN) to the vet for his post-neuter check-up. That reminds me, I really need to finish my Pets section.

The neutering went well, which will probably mean he ends up with a girlfriend-bunny at some point. Preparing for “I told you so”s in 3, 2, 1…

This year is already starting to look like a busy one, with vague wedding stuff being planned. Much to the disappointment of certain people Gaz and I are planning a “run away and do it in secret” style wedding. No fuss, minimal expense, just us and the legally required amount of witnesses who may or may not be dragged in off the street beforehand. I’m not sure I could deal with anything else, it’s not my cup of tea.

On a similarly personal note, I’ve an appointment for the end of the month to speak to my doctor about sterilisation. My hormones have been in overdrive lately which is making me super broody, but the reality is another child would be a massive physical, emotional and financial load which I just wouldn’t be able to deal with. Feeds weird to think I’ll never carry, birth and feed a tiny baby ever again but taking the pill is a pain in the arse (despite some minor benefits for my probable PMDD), and with Gaz’s total lack of desire for kids of his own, it just makes sense. I have two beautiful, smart as hell, pain in the arse kids and that’s more than enough.