Saturday, 24 May 2014

A new Direction...

Over two months since my last post... I think it's time my blog took a new route*! So today I'm here to talk to you about..... the brain. 

I love films. I love medicine. I love science. I adore combinations of all three. There's just one problem.... Movies often get it wrong. One of the most common ways movies screw up is in showing the brain. Here's an example....

That clip is from Pathology, which if you haven't seen it, you should. I'm not saying it's the best film in the world, but it's pretty fucked up and I enjoyed it. As you can see, Michael Weston's character extracts the brain, holds it for a while, then sets it on the scales. Usual pathology schtick. Note the loud "thunk" at the end as he practically chucks the brain in the scale pan (WHICH WILL TOTALLY RUIN THE CALIBRATION, BY THE WAY).

Why is this wrong? Well, let's look at the scene here. That corpse is pretty fresh. Those guys aren't students, and that is, by the looks of things, the initial removal of the brain. Conclusion? That would be what's referred to as an "unfixed" brain. An unfixed brain, looks a little something like this....

Tadaa!! Squishy, right? Imagine what would happen if you chucked that bad boy in a pan. Sploosh! Now you know a new fact about the brain. Actually, you'll know several if you watch the entirety of the second video.

If you are more of a music fan, here's a wonderful song by "Symphony of Science" on the brain...

And the utterly wonderful TED talk by Jill Bolte Taylor on the brain (Yep, this is the talk used in the Symphony of Science remix!)

I hope you come away from this knowing a little more about the brain. It's seriously fascinating stuff. So, here's my new format. Sharing things which interests me. Expect more or the same, and fingers crossed some of you will enjoy my browsings and sharings. 

(*I've been abandoning my blog, yet again. Looking back through my blog, I find it doesn't really represent me and my interests very well. It's too wishy washy. Too average. I've tried to hard to be like other bloggers and it's been to the detriment of my content because hell, I just don't have the same interests! I love reading blogs from people who do beauty posts, or style posts, maybe food and photography, but that's not what I am all about. 

With that in mind, I've decided to take my blog down a more me-ish freeform route. I see so many things day-to-day on the net I'd love to share, and talk about, but I just don't. Now I'm going to! I know for a fact there are other people like me about, and it's about time I pandered to me.... I mean them. This is going to be my first such blog post in my new format, so I hope you enjoy! )

Sunday, 2 March 2014

I just lost track of my moral code...

I've been getting back in touch with myself a bit this week. It's been a mad couple of years, and it has changed me. In some respects for the better, but in others, definitely for the worse. I used to take really good care of myself. I spent a long time as a vegan, and really enjoyed it. I've always really loved animals, and after looking at the statistics (medical nerd, remember) I adopted a vegan diet. Unfortunately, this coincided with the time I started to become really really unwell and with my energy constantly failing, depression at not getting any healthier sunk in, and eventually... I lost track. 

Marceline art by Ann Mendenhall

My diet over the past year or two has been shockingly shite. Living with my ex partner and his depression was tough. He didn't have the energy to help clean, shopping was difficult for him, I didn't want to put him out, and he didn't really like any of my healthy food so I just gave up. Living on a diet of takeaway and tinned food when you really like to eat fresh is pretty miserable. But my energy levels were too bad to rescue myself. 

Last Tuesday I was back in hospital, but this time it was the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Hospital appointments are never easy, They really force you to face your illness. Not to mention, it's exhausting! I spent the two days after my appointment laid up with a horrible headache. I have to go back at some point (waiting lists...) for a minimum of three days of extensive neurological testing. In a stange stroke of luck, just a day or so before this week's hospital trip, I came across this article in the Telegraph about Ella Woodward of "Deliciously Ella". I've been following Ella's blog for donkeys, but I never realised that like me.... she used to be really sick as well. 

Ella Woodward

Between reading Ella's story, and going to hospital, I appear to have been given me the kick up the botty I need to sort my eating out again. I always made the excuse that I'd been vegan and it made no difference to my health. However, despite being Vegan, I still had some really unhealthy habits. I would often eat "pre made" vegan foods, I still used artificial sweeteners in my drinks, and I definitely still ate plenty of sugar. Maybe this is why Veganism made no difference to me? Sweeteners are pretty shit and we all know that (I'm referring to aspartame specifically. No, it doesn't case cancer. They *might* trigger migraines and they *might* lead to weight gain, but on the whole they are safe), they don't taste great and they have 0 nutritional benefit. Then there's sugar. My arch nemesis. 

I have PCOS, so as a result, I have a touch of the old insulin resistance. This leads to increased hunger and a MAD craving for sugar. For reals. I get a whiff of it and I want it. It doesn't stop until I'm nauseous. Which is insane considering that even the smallest amount of sugar makes me really bloody ill. I know it's a trigger. I know it makes me feel awful, yet cravings are a cruel master and I've continued to stuff my body with that refined white crap at a staggering rate. Sugar is in all sorts, even so called prepacked "health" foods are full of it. 

Art from "Psychology Today"

So what should I do? Clearly, it's time to take control of my eating again and cut the crap. So far this week I've eaten fresh pretty much every day. I'm phasing milk out of my diet (I plan to make my own almond milk) and I've cut out the sugar (bar last night, Dominos. I had company). I'm keeping this shit up. Even if I don't feel as though it's making any difference I know it's still the right thing to do for my body. 

Ignoring how good it is for my body to eat healthy whole foods, we have the reason I first went to vegetarianism and veganism. The cute fluffy animals! I don't really like meat a whole lot anyway (queue "But the bacon!!!" from everyone who's an omnivore). It's stodgy, it makes me feel lethargic, and aside from things like duck, it's pretty much tasteless. I'd much rather have a nice hearty bowlful of a delicious pearl barley stew than a steak any day. But the thing that really bothers me is the meat industry. I've been cruelty free with regards to beauty products that I purchase for a long time now, and it's time to get back into my politics. I give a shit, for a multitude of reasons. I don't plan on being one of the "annoying force it down your throat vegan/veggies" but it's something I definitely care about a lot. If you've ever been curious as to how shit it all really is (and don't give me the "it's not like that in the UK" crap, because, it's still terrible here), then I recommend the documentary below. From an animal rights standpoint, that's the last I'll say on the matter for now!

My master plan is to try and do weekly updates on my diet, and how it's making me feel. Any changes or improvements in my health, what I've been eating, recipe sharing, all that good stuff. Hopefully, it will help me a little. Hopefully, it'll help me enough that one day I can share my journey with my chronic illness bro's and help other people find some sort of path back to feeling less like the living dead. 

With that in mind, here's a few pictures of my diet this week...

Here's to quitting the crap!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Craving Red

I've gotten so good with not changing my hair colour. When my birthday came last year, I decided that 25 was going to be my year of the red head. I kept a natural ginger (Love you, henna) from September right through to January, then I went pink. Whoops! Oh well, pink is on the red scale, totally! I've now been pink since the start of January and my cravings to go back to red are in full force...

The UK has had a major SFX drought (SFX is the brand of dye I use), which I think triggered me off looking at other colours again. I ordered some directions Fire last week (please arrive today) as I prefer a more orange toned red. Also, seen as I'm currently pink, using a pink toned red on top of hair that's already pink will only lead to a red with heavy heavy pink overtones. Not how I like it. 

So to keep myself busy this morning while waiting for the post, please enjoy some gorgeous red hair pictures that are fuelling my passion for flame hair (click through images for sources, I've tried to find the original where possible. But, y'know, internet)!

And finally, a picture of me last time I had red hair, just for reference...

Here's to my dye showing up, come on Royal Mail!

Friday, 31 January 2014

Fucking, Help.

Things are above and beyond what I'm able to deal with right now. I genuinely don't know what I am going to do, because I'm just beyond capacity. 

Let's start with Dexter. His treatment had been quoted at £60 a month, with an additional £80 every other month. In fact, it's more like £150 every month with another £100 on top every other month. Considering I didn't have the money for the original £60 + £80, this is a huge problem. Add onto that, the fact that both his specialist and his regular vet are chasing me for money. I owe his specialist £555.14. I owe his regular vet £500. I owe an emergency vet another £200. 

I barely scrape by each month. Barely. And that's without paying those fees. My stupid piece of shit of a disability means that I keep having to order myself takeaway, or simply not eat. My energy levels are just too bad to cook. I've gotten even worse. For the past week, whenever I try and do anything, I've been overheating dramatically. You know how cold it is in England, right? Well I'm wearing short skirts, t-shirts, and living with my window open. And STILL sweating like a mad bastard whenever I try to do anything at all. Let me just add, I faint when I'm too hot. Which is just awesome. 

Which brings me to my next issue. My body is fucking falling apart. It was bad before, but now it's worse. My constant heat and dizziness has meant that I'm injuring myself. A lot. I should probably have been using my wheelchair to do everything while I was feeling this way, but simply put, I haven't. Because the chair I have, the so called "lightweight" chair I have, is basically impossible for me to use. Which has lead to me trying to cope without. 

Which led, on Wednesday, my brothers goddamn Birthday, to me spending the evening in A&E. Yeah. I feel guilty as shit. It takes a LOT of pain for me to go to A&E. Considering I dislocate various body parts every day, and deal with it quietly, by myself, if I go to A&E you know it's bad. It was bad. I've broken my foot. 5th metatarsal. Not in the regular place, but in the place where blood supply is worst and it's the most difficult to heal. Why did I break my foot? Well, because I fell. Why did I fall? Because I'd been sleeping off yet another migraine and woke up dizzy as shit. 

It. Looks. TINY. 

So now I'm in a cast, and I might need surgery in 6 weeks time. They tried getting me to use crutches, but the pain is excruciating. Absolutely above and beyond anything I can cope with. Not to mention, because my joints are so unstable, my balance is horrific on them. I've fallen another two times since Wednesday and had countless close calls. Imagine, every time you put any pressure on any of your joints, they would dislocate. Imagine that dislocating hurts just as much as it would for anyone (It's a complete fucking myth that it hurts less for people with hypermobility, it hurts just the same). Then imagine, using crutches.

So why do I need such a huge bloody cast??

Your hands have 29 joints, and each one has the ability to dislocate. Grasp a small, solid surface area and then put your full weight on it. You think they are gonna stay in place? On a regular person, sure. On someone with faulty collagen, no way. Noooo way. Not to mention, the pressure on your elbow, which dislocates for no reason sometimes. Oh, and your shoulders, which also pop out in your sleep every night. Now let's move onto the "good" leg. The one without a cast on it, the one you are supposed to weight bear on. 

33 joints in the foot. 2 joints in the ankle, 1 joint in the knee, and another in your hip makes 37 joints. All of which barely hold themselves together, all of which now have to try and hold the entirety of your weight. You guessed it, they all pop out too. I don't know how many of you have dislocated a joint around there, I hope not many of you, but it stinks. In a big bloody way. Every step on my crutches leads to multiple partial and complete dislocations. It's agony. So that leave me with what? Using the chair. 

Using the chair, is only marginally better. Mine is an especially crappy one, NHS standard issue, not really designed to be used by an "active user", it's supposed to be used by someone who can sit in it while someone else pushes. I don't have someone else to push. Going from my bedroom, to the bathroom and back again takes me 20 minutes. They are only two rooms apart. I'm dislocating my wrists, and fuck knows what bones in my hands, trying to push it. It's too big to really be used indoors, so I'm smacking into things. I'm grazing my knuckles on doorframes. Everything I do takes an excruciatingly long time and hurts like an absolute mother fucker. I don't have enough strength in my joints to push this thing. Which leads to me quite simply getting stuck as I try to move. I push on the rims, and push so hard to try and move the chair that POP out goes my wrist. 

It goes without saying, that considering I can't even afford my dog's medical bills, I can't afford £2,000 on a new wheelchair. I'm dislocating my ankle INSIDE my fucking plaster cast, because the foot is stuck in place and the ankle tries to pull away from it. I now have a ligament, trapped, in one of my ankle joints. It's bloody uncomfortable to say the least. That's not even taking into account the pain in my foot, which I can't take painkillers for, because oh! Painkillers don't really work in people with EDS. Yep, that's right. I do all this shit unmedicated.

So I'm just going to come right out with it. I can't fucking cope. I can't cope right now. I spend most of my time on my own, I'm poor as shit, I feel really ill, I'm constantly exhausted, I'm in horrible pain and I can't fucking cope.

Sorry guys. I know this is a really shit post to read. But this is the reality of my life right now and I need to tell someone before I go and make friends with something dangerous. I am so very unbelievably done right now. No, I'm not going to go and bloody hurt myself. My body does enough of that for me. I'm tired of putting on my happy face and making light of my situation. I'm in absolute fucking agony. I wouldn't wish this shit on my worst enemy. I have no idea how to deal with this and I swear if any of you say "one minute at a time" I will turn into a nuclear warhead and decimate half the planet. 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Adapting my life

As you can probably tell, my blog features very little of my day-to-day life. There is a reason for this that isn't "BECAUSE THEY ARE WATCHING ME" and that is.... 

I don't really have a day to day life. 

I'm sure you know plenty of people who joke about not having a life, and if you've ever used Tumblr you should know by now that place is full of people who say they have no life. I'm not picking, it makes me giggle and gives me a good amount of things to relate to; but in the vast majority of cases they do have a life. 


They see friends, they go shopping, they work or go to school, they sit up playing games, they draw, they craft, they do things. To me, that's having a life. Even if you're an indoorsy introvert who prefers the company of animals, you can still have a life. It might look different to commonly accepted visions of life, but it's a life. 

Here's a little timeline of an average day for me;

7am: Get woken up (rudely) by pug. Go feed him, go back to bed. 

10am-12pm: Get woken by pug again. Spend time laid down, more often than not just playing mobile games, or looking on Facebook/Pinterest/Tumblr on my phone. I am exhausted. It takes me a couple of hours to get the wherewithall to actually get "up".

12pm-1pm: If I'm lucky, I'm now feeling stable enough to make a drink and grab breakfast, so I go do that. This is around the time Dexter will wake up so I'll also give him his meds and his breakfast (he likes a lie in). Eat it up my brekkie, then the effort of doing that means I'm exhausted so I have to go lie down. I can't sleep this time, though. So I'm just laying there. 

2-4pm: Here's where I try to do things. When I say things, what I mean is try and sit on a huge pile of cushions and use my PC. I used to play Games a lot but now find it too tiring/painful. I also used to draw, but same issue. So I generally browse the net until I get too dizzy from being sat upright. 

4-5:30pm: Oops. Spent too long sat upright. I'm now laid on the floor because I'm too dizzy to get to bed, usually with Netflix on in the background. 

5:30pm-8pm: This time is spent laid down, with my head a little propped up. Netflix still going, and I might mess around on my phone again. 

8pm-10pm: Meds. Try to get up and get food. Still have Netflix in the background. Possibly talk to friends on Facebook or via text. At some point I'll most likely crash out and black out, which blows. Eventually I drag myself back up into bed. 


Riveting, right? It actually feels very exposing writing my day out like that. I feel like I'm stood butt naked in front of you all and not enjoying it for a bloody change. Note the things missing from that day? I've not mentioned getting dressed. Nor have I mentioned having a wash. Or doing my hair or make up. And there's definitely no going outside (don't worry, my dogs have an indoor poop tray. They spend most of their day playing with each other! Gus can't go out yet anyway, and Dex's chemo makes him very sensitive to weather changes. Not to mention, his jabs aren't up to date and probably never will be again, as they can't be given while he's on steroids/chemo). So in a normal day, I don't even get dressed. This isn't a choice, it's a point of necessity. I just don't have the energy. 

It's been like this, interspersed with the odd "better" day here and there for many years now. I tried pushing through it, but I've been basically housebound all the time for about 2 years. I had a few years before that (well, about 3-4) where a lot of my time was spent that way, but not all of it. 

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a "please feel bad for me, look how terrible my life is!" post. This is a finding solutions post. I don't want my life to be this way. I can't have it be this way. I really want to start recapturing my life at least a little, and to do this, I'm going to have to accept that will mean adapting my life, and the things I own, considerably. Not easy to do considering I'm always skint (thanks for that, body. Don't you realise benefits are pants? Useless thing). It's a catch 22 situation. If I were able to adapt my life, maybe I'd have more energy and be able to find a way to earn some money from home. However, I need the money in the first place to be able to adapt my life. It's a circle of too tired to function, too poor to fix it. 

So I'm starting this series of posts about adapting my life. In these posts I'm going to discuss some of the issues I have, and some of the solutions I may be able to find. I hope that after time (and careful budgeting) this will become more than just a disability wishlist series, and a chronicle of things that helped me regain a life. I also hope, that other people like me can see these things, and get some ideas for adapting their lives too. 

Now if you'll please excuse me, I have been sat upright for too long and need to go bail out with my sleeping dogs.