It’s a sin

So nearly a year after It’s a Sin was released in the UK, I have finally watched it. For those of you who haven’t watched it, it’s a drama set in the 80’s in London about the lives of a group of gay men and their friends during the HIV/AIDS crisis.

To be honest I must have missed all the hype when it was released as I only recently heard about it but then again, this time last year, I had a lot of stressful things going on. I also wasn’t sure if it would be my cup of tea as I knew it was going to be sad and I often watch light-hearted programmes or comedies as a way of switching off. However, after being told how good it was, I braced myself for tears and gave it a go. Within minutes I was hooked and ended up binge watching the entire series!

I loved the characters and thought the actors were incredible, I loved the music and thought it was very well written. You had a sense of how much fun they had and the true friendships that were made during this time and I envied them. Don’t get me wrong I obvious don’t envy the darker side of the story, in fact I found it heart-breaking to watch.

This killer disease that seemed to appear out of nowhere that was only affecting gay men was bound to cause huge controversy for everybody. Like the character Ritchie (played by Olly Alexander) I can see how you wouldn’t believe it and would think it has been made up as a gay disease. However, very quickly it seemed to be affecting more and more people as friends and colleagues went home never to be seen again.

When one character, Colin (played by Callum Scott Howells), became ill it was devastating as he was such a shy and reserved man who had lived a more reserved life in comparison to his friends. I loved his Mum though who despite living in remote Wales and no doubt being even less aware of gay life she stood by him throughout his illness with absolutely no judgement, it was clear that she loved her son unconditionally.

Of course, I believe all parents should love their children unconditionally, but this isn’t the case and nor was it with Ritchie’s Mum who prevented him from being with his friends and boyfriend whilst he was dying despite him asking for him and even worse, he died on his own. Quite rightly Jill who was his best friend told Ritchie’s Mum that it was her fault that he was on his own when it died, and I can’t imagine the pain she must have felt knowing she was staying nearby at the time.

I thought Jill (played by Lydia West) was an amazing woman! She stood by all her friends, was an HIV/AIDS activist and spent a lot of time visiting gay men who were dying in hospital alone. I take my hat off to her. Jills character was based on the life of Jill Nalder who played Jills Mum Christine, in the series. I wonder how she felt filming the series, I imagine she may have found it rather emotional, but she made a massive difference to the lives of gay men and their families.

Unsurprisingly the first episode was watched by over 1.6 million viewers which shortly went up to more than 18.9 million. Which made it more surprising when I discovered that originally Channel 4 refused to produce it. To me, there’s nothing in the series that shouldn’t be watched by anyone…we’re in 2022 for goodness sake! Surely by now, everyone is aware of HIV/AIDS and different sexualities??

For anyone who still struggles to get their head around sexuality other than heterosexuality, it isn’t a choice, no matter what you believe. Just like our eye colour, ethnicity and skin colour, sexuality is not a choice, it’s who we are. The only reason people may question or fight it is due to fear. Fear of judgement, fear of losing ‘friends’ or ‘family’, fear of never having children.

The best thing we can do for future generations is to normalise different sexualities from birth so that they are aware of it and know it’s accepted. Surely the most important thing is for our children to feel loved and supported no matter who they are.

Dieting part 5

So, this is the time of year when a lot of people decide to set a goal to lose weight after the festive period. Sometimes people opt for crash course diets or they set unrealistic goals, both of which are asking for failure as a crash course diet may well help you loose weight quickly but as soon as you started eating normally again the weight will creep back on and by setting unrealistic goals it can be all too easy to feel despondent by what you deem to be lack of progress and so it is easy to give up.

As you know, I am not a fan of diets as such but rather a healthy lifestyle that allows for food that you like and treats otherwise again, not allowing yourself these things will no doubt result in temptation and then giving up.

Of all the diets I have tried the most useful tool I have found is becoming aware of what I am eating which may sound simple, but you would be surprised how much we may not be aware in terms of what ingredients are in ready meals, how big our portion sizes actually are or how many calories we really are consuming. It’s all too easy to guess how many calories we think are in something or how much we’ve really eaten but that is setting yourself a trap.

Aside from Noom getting me to rethink my relationship with food and body confidence it has really helped me know how many calories I am consuming; how many I should be consuming and what types of food I am eating (they use a traffic light system).

To begin with it can be time consuming and tedious to enter everything you’ve eaten and figure out the portion size, but it definitely opens your eyes. It makes you think and often reconsider eating that extra slice of pizza or adding more green foods to your diet or having an extra cup or tea or water before you decide if you’re really hungry.

I never thought I would be saying that I have got used to this way of living but I certainly feel like it is now engrained in me. I feel as though I am much more knowledgeable about food and nutrition which must have contributed to me maintaining my goal weight for nearly a year now.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a health or fitness guru and never will be as I love my food too much and have never loved exercise.

I do however feel healthier and fitter than I ever have been and despite having had 2 children this is the first time in my life that I quite like my figure and feel comfortable in my own skin.  

I still allow myself to have treats and do not rule any food out of my diet. There are days when I know I eat more calories than I should or when I eat more red foods than I should, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I think that I would have an inkling if I thought I was putting on weight again just by how I feel or by how my clothes feel but I still weight myself quite often just so that I don’t start piling the weight back on again. The main reason for this is because I have always found it incredibly easy to put weight on but a lot harder to lose it.

My weight does fluctuate by a couple of pounds and sometimes a little more but that is when I am a little more controlled about what I eat. I don’t want to get back to being a size 18/20 and still to this day can’t believe that I am a size 12, because I have always had curves, I never thought I’d get below a size 14.

I have got into the mindset of generally trying to make healthier choices without depriving myself and this can be down to something as simple as do swaps such as having sweet potato instead of potato or making pizza from scratch rather than buying one from the shops. I try and fill up on salad or fruit or if I want a pizza I’ll try and have ½ pizza with salad instead of eating the whole pizza but then again sometimes I will eat the whole pizza and that’s ok.

I’m also a firm believer that it’s important not to skip meals…I know if I did I would no doubt end up reaching for something to keep me going which is unlikely to be the healthiest choice. It’s hard to grab something healthy on the go as we are surrounded by pastries, cakes, and chocolate at all the convenience shops. This is also a reason that I try to make sure I have a snack with me whenever I go out as I know what I am like. A good tip is to try and keep a couple of things in your car and at work to stop temptation.

Another thing to be aware of is boredom, when we can think we are hungry but we aren’t or if we are fidgety so it can be worth taking a minute to be aware of this before reaching for something. This can be a time when I try to do something instead or make a drink first.

If you do try any diets or a change of lifestyle, allow for hiccups and don’t beat yourself up if you have a wobble. Keep in mind your goal and your reason behind your goal and don’t get too het up about what the scales say as weight does fluctuate which doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t on the right tracks.

Surrogacy part 8…

As with the early stages of dating the GTK (get to know) period has so far consisted of daily messages, regular conversations and the excitement and anticipation of meeting up. My girls were excited to be going to see Ali, Andrew & their daughter Honor as they enjoyed spending time with them when we first met. I was excited too however I also had butterflies as this was the first time, I was seeing them after I had offered them the GTK.

The girls very quickly made themselves at home after we arrived at their house, and it didn’t take long before we were all sat chatting like old friends whilst I was being plied with bubbly!! Ali & Andrew went to a lot of effort to make us all feel welcome and had gone out their way to make sure they had dairy free supplies for me.

The following morning, I even had a cup of tea brought up to bed for me…. talk about how to melt me! I can’t remember the last time someone brought me a cup of tea in bed! If I was dating someone who did this, I would certainly be thinking that they were a keeper!!

We shared an incredible and memorable day at Winter Wonderland….it really did feel like I was spending the day with old friends. It was so easy, laid back and fun. The girls had never been on a train let alone the tube, but Ali & Andrew made it so easy, and I was touched by how much they involved themselves with my girls without batting an eyelid. I certainly appreciated their help navigating our way through the busy tube stations especially as its not something that I particularly enjoy.

Ali & Andrew had offered to take the girls ice skating whilst we were there, but I wasn’t sure how everyone would get on as I had to stay in the viewing area with Honor, but they all appeared to have a whale of a time! The girls were all too happy to let them guide them around the ice rink and my eldest daughter would have happily allowed them to do this for hours! It was definitely heart-warming to watch.

Now for whatever reason, Andrew (who must be a softy!) offered to try and win both my girls the most enormous cuddly toys I have ever seen! I couldn’t watch as I thought it can’t be that easy otherwise, they’d never make money on the game, and he was determined to win twice otherwise one girl wouldn’t be a happy bunny. Well, surprisingly he won…twice! I’m not sure he had thought this through though as these gigantic toys now needing carrying around London and on the tube!! I had nothing to do with this as it was his idea!!! Having said that he wasn’t having any of it when I suggested that the cuddly toys stay at their house and so I am so incredibly grateful (can you sense the sarcasm?!) that I now have them in my house!!

After an incredibly busy but wonderful day I was plied with even more bubbly as we realised, we hadn’t captured the moment (any excuse!) and we spent the evening chatting away, including our thoughts about the GTK and what the future may hold. It was lovely to know that we are all on the same page, but I still don’t think it’s sunk in that everything seems to be going so well. It’s almost as if I am expecting something to go wrong but I hope not.

The weekend consisted of lots of giggles, fun, excitement, numerous selfies, and happy memories. I didn’t feel as though I had to put on an act, and I was completely relaxed and felt like I was myself.  

Before we got home, Ali & Andrew in their excitement had announced our GTK to the surrogacy community and their post was lovely to read (even if they had put photos with me on!!) and it made me feel warm inside.

Especially in recent times I think its hard for people to find other like-minded people so if Ali & Andrew are as lovely as they seem to be then I can see us really being good friends. We are all excited about what the future holds!!

Reflections of 2021!

What a year this has been for everyone…yet another year revolved around Covid which is becoming a new ‘normal’. Absolutely it has had an impact on 2021 for me personally but as I sit and reflect on this year it isn’t the first thing that springs to mind, instead its more like a sideline. Admittedly it is heart-breaking that it is still affecting so many lives and that so many lives have been lost to Covid, what I find more saddening and disappointing (although not surprising) is the governments handling of it and the anti-Covid/anti-vaxxers out there.

I howled with laughter when I watched Live at the Apollo Christmas Special on BBC iPlayer when Jason Manford spoke about Covid….the best bits were when he spoke about people who listen to the scientists and medical professionals and trust and accept what we are told (even if we don’t like it) and those who don’t believe what incredibly intelligent people are telling us and instead take to the university of Facebook for ‘facts’ on Covid. He talked about someone taking the piss out of him for wearing a mask and he said well ‘I figure if I’m wrong, I just accidentally wore a mask for a year whereas if you’re wrong someone’s nana died, you know?’ Brilliant!!

I know this is the time of year when you’ll see lots of posts about creating jars filled with positivity and some people write down all the good things that have happened throughout the year so that on New Year’s Eve, they can empty the jar and remind themselves…I love that idea, but I admit that I can imagine I’d get to the end of January and stop doing it. However, if I had done that it would have helped me write this post!! Instead, I’ve had to wrack my brain and look back through my calendar and photos to remind myself.

So much has happened this year…. I’ve certainly been through a lot, even I can’t quite believe it.

So, I’ll start with the not so brilliant things….

-Lockdown – although I enjoyed spending quality time with my girls, particularly as I knew that Florrie would be starting school in September. A highlight of lockdown was being able to legitimately go to York for my Covid vaccines!!

-Going through another court case…this time for divorce proceedings and it was pretty horrendous, it could have broken me at the injustice but instead I had to focus on the positives which were that I was finally free from my ex, and I was given a lump sum.

– My first surrogacy experience with a set of Intended Parents went pear shaped and knocked me down to the point where I questioned if surrogacy was something I wanted to carry on with.

– Having my jaw broken by my dentist which resulted in me being in a lot of pain for 2 months and led to me having to have an operation under general anaesthetic which petrified me, but it’s done, and I am now pain free and hopefully my jaw is pretty much healed.

Now for the better things!!…

  • I GOT DIVORCED!!!!! – Definitely a highlight of my year!!!
  • I booked 2 holidays for 2022 (Covid permitting) …so I’ll have to get over my fear of flying for one of them!
  • I completed the Ration Challenge and raised £440 for refugees. I am proud of this achievement, not only because it was tough going but also because I never imagined that I would raise that much, I didn’t even know if I’d raise £50 as I don’t know that many people. I’m very grateful for everyone who donated and sent words of support!
  • I passed the first year of my counselling course
  • I gave a presentation to the rest of my class at college where I had to speak openly about myself for 10 minutes…it was the first time I revealed so much about myself. It was a major milestone for me.
  • I got a tattoo… which I never thought I would do and I still love it. (Which is lucky because I’m stuck with it!!)
  • I started my placement as a trainee counsellor, and I am now more than 1/3rd of the way through the 100 hours I need to qualify!
  • Amazingly I was incredibly lucky to find and be able to purchase a house of my own – I still can’t believe it. It has taken a huge weight off my shoulders as the rising cost of renting was terrifying. I have to admit that I found moving and the process of buying a house rather stressful, but I did it.
  • I got to spend some quality time with my best friend, and we had annual trip to Bettys for afternoon tea which we hadn’t actually done for 3 years!
  • Florrie started school!! Fortunately, she has taken to it like a duck to water and loves it! She had a glowing report and ended the year by playing Mary in the school nativity! I am very proud of her.
  • Even though my first experience of surrogacy didn’t work out I met Paige through my old IPs, and I feel very lucky to have her in my life.
  • I met the lovely Ali & Andrew through surrogacy, and we are embarking on our journey together.
  • I have enjoyed discovery myself (even though there is still more to go) …I am so much happier in my own skin and feel like me and I quite like me. I have definitely taken more risks in the past year, mainly speaking more openly which I find risky as I still have a fear of judgement and rejection, but I am getting better at this. My best friend has massively helped with this as she has encouraged me to say how I feel and take more risks as life is too short.
  • And….my Christmas wish came true!!!

I am looking forward to 2022 and can’t wait to spend time with the important people in my life, to create lots of happy memories and hopefully qualify as a counsellor!

On reflection, I have realised that it is too easy to get caught up in life and to forget the good things that have happened. So as much as I still may forget to carry it on, I think keeping a notebook handy to jot down some key happy memories throughout the year would be a lovely thing to do. Having a notebook by the side of your bed is an easy way to jot things down before you go to sleep, and it will become something really nice to look at either at the end of the year or whenever you want to remind yourself of these things.

So, here’s to 2022…I hope it brings you all happy memories!

A helping hand…

At a time when benefits have been reduced due to the removal of uplift due to Covid and energy prices going through the roof, times are hard for many families across the country. However, since my eldest daughter started school, I have been fortunate to have benefited from a helping hand from the local council.

I didn’t even know that I qualified for the help that I have received which first came in the form of a food voucher to cover October half term. I had previously seen many people complain about food vouchers and how £15 barely covered the cost of meals. (The voucher is meant to help cover the cost of 5 school meals). However, I felt lucky to receive the voucher and it certainly made a difference.

I then got an email from school telling me that I was entitled to apply for a winter payment to help towards the cost of winter clothing, food, and heating. Again, I wasn’t expecting this and so it was a pleasant surprise, particularly when I got told that I was eligible for this payment. Admittedly you could argue that this payment wouldn’t buy a winter coat, or a pair of shoes let alone pay for a month’s heating but it’s a lot better than nothing and so much more than I expected (which was nothing).

What put a lump in my throat was when I read an email letting me know that the council were providing free theatre tickets to the pantomime for certain families and I was able to book tickets for myself, my Mum and both my girls. These tickets would have cost nearly £100 and so I wouldn’t have been able to take them to see a pantomime this year which I was ok about as I know there are lots of other things you can do that aren’t as expensive. However, this was such a touching and heart-warming surprise and something that we are all looking forward to seeing.

Finally, before the Christmas holidays I was sent a message to say that there was a food parcel waiting for me to pick up from school. I did find this harder as I have never used a food bank as I know that there are people worse off than myself but they had been specifically delivered for myself (and other families in similar situation) and so I collected it.

I was proud of myself for having the courage to do this as well as stand on the school playground with my collection knowing that all the other parents may judge as they saw me with my food parcel.

However, I have spent many years being judged and see others being judged which is something that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I know that we all judge (myself included) but I am a firm believer that we do not need to act on our thoughts let alone voice our opinions. Fortunately, no one did say anything but if they had then I would have judged them for doing so (but wouldn’t have said anything).

All these gestures have been greatly appreciated and have all made a real difference. I tend to live by the mantra of never expecting anything and then if you do get something then it is a nice surprise, rather than expecting things and being disappointed if nothing comes of it.

‘It’s the season of love and understanding…’

It’s one of my favourite times of the year and so much more magical having 2 little girls who believe in the magic of Santa!

We’ve been singing and dancing to Christmas songs for the past few weeks and our favourites include Last Christmas, All I want for Christmas is you and Merry Christmas Everyone!!

However, I have often felt that the build up to Christmas starts earlier every year and by November everywhere you turn you will see or hear something to do with Christmas. Most adverts on television are to do with Christmas, there are Christmas songs playing wherever you go, and people are posting about all their festive plans on social media.

Now whilst I do love Christmas, I can’t help but feel that with all this comes a certain amount of pressure or expectations about what you should be doing at Christmas, how much you should spend on food and presents and this idea that everyone is surrounded by large family and continual social gatherings. Whilst this may be true for some, it certainly isn’t true for everyone.

This time of year may be hard for some people due to varying circumstances…. not everyone can afford a luxury Christmas and there will be parents who hope that their children aren’t hoping for an expensive present from Santa. There will be those who don’t have family or friends, those who may have lost loved ones or who can’t go and be with their loved ones.

Yet for those people they can’t avoid Christmas (well not easily) even if they wanted to. It is all to easy to get wrapped up in our own busyness after all most of us have lots of things to do at this time of year on top of all the usual jobs.

However, it’s worth taking a minute to think about those who may not be looking forward to Christmas and take the time to reach out to them. You’d be surprised at what could make a difference to someone and how a small act of kindness can mean a lot to someone. It could be something as small as smiling at someone, wishing them a Merry Christmas, sending someone a message to let them know that you are thinking of them, asking if there’s anything you can do, posting someone a card or giving someone a gift.

I also feel that it is important to never assume that people are busy or that you would be disturbing them or that you are too busy to find time to check in on someone. I would imagine that something as simple as sending someone a message will always be appreciated, even if you don’t get a reply and we all know how easy and quick it is to send messages these days. In less than the time it takes to make a drink you can send someone a message.

I am surprised and somewhat saddened that Covid appears to have divided people more than brought people together and that there seems to be less of a community spirit. We never know what is going on for someone and now more than ever I believe it is important to look out for one another. I don’t like to think of anyone feeling sad or finding life hard and although I know that I can’t change peoples lives, I like to try and do what I can to at least put a smile on someone’s face.

What means the most to me at this time of year is spending time with loved ones…there were so many Christmases where I didn’t get that opportunity so now, I make the most of it.

So, whilst you’re putting your feet up with a glass of something or in the middle of baking yet another batch of mince pies, it would be nice to consider those around you or to check in on that friend or family member who may not be finding the festive period as fun and exciting.

In the words of Shakin’ Stevens, ‘it’s the season of love and understanding, Merry Christmas everyone!’

Surrogacy…part 7

My last surrogacy post left things hanging! I was umming and arring about what to do because I wasn’t sure if I could trust my instincts after last time, but I know you can’t live in the past. I read through quite a few IP profiles and knew that if I offered a GTK (get to know) that it would more than likely be to a gay couple. I get that writing a profile for potential surrogates to read must be hard as they are meant to be a snapshot but what stood out for me was the fact that hardly any mentioned anything to do with a surrogate and mainly spoke about themselves.

I already had an inkling that Ali & Andrew were different, especially having spent some time with them so I was intrigued to see what their profile would say. Admittedly I already liked them, but their profile was still important to me when it came to helping to make my decision. Well…unsurprisingly their profile stood out from the rest by a long shot! There was no comparison and to be perfectly honest it warmed me to them even more.

I had chatted to Paige about Ali & Andrew as I wanted another opinion especially given my previous experience. I found myself questioning if they only wanted friendship particularly as they were in the early stages of looking for a second surrogate and the fact that they live in London, but I realised that these things weren’t for me to decide or make assumptions about and Paige hinted that they liked me.

The thing with offering a GTK is that you wouldn’t generally know what an IP’s decision would be as you’re not meant to discuss it with them before going through SUK. So, I was a little nervous when I sent the email to SUK offering Ali & Andrew a GTK as I didn’t know what their answer would be. I also didn’t know how long it would take for my email to be read and actioned, so I was left in a little bit of limbo.

This was quite hard as I was still messaging and chatting to Ali & Andrew every day and I couldn’t say anything, and I didn’t know if they knew about my email. It got to the next weekend, and I still hadn’t heard anything and the not knowing was driving me doolally! I eventually contacted another member of SUK who informed me that the lady I had emailed was off as she’d just given birth! I had no idea! I was a little frustrated as I hoped that someone else would be able to step in and help whilst she was off, but I don’t like to bother people, so Paige stepped in and worked her magic!

Within less than an hour another member of SUK contacted me, checked that our profiles matched (in terms of the type of surrogacy we were both looking for i.e., straight or host and our expenses) and confirmed that she was going to message Ali & Andrew asking them for a call.

Well, the butterflies kicked in at this point and within minutes I got an email saying it was a YES!

I was over the moon and squealed with delight…apparently, they screamed when Sarah spoke to them offering a GTK!

I decided to give them a call and they both answered screaming with happiness!! I had to tell them that I had sent off the email offering them a GTK 2 weeks ago and how awkward I had found it whilst I had been waiting, especially when there had been a hint that they weren’t looking for other surrogates right now. I had no doubt in my mind that they would have been snapped up sooner rather than later and so I am very happy that we are now on a GTK.

So, for the next 3 months we will get to know each other even more and spend some time together before we decide if we want to form a team with the idea of me trying to help create a baby for them.

I feel very relaxed around them and have been completely open and honest from the start. They seem very genuine, open, and honest people and they clearly understand the process of surrogacy having gone through it once before. There haven’t been any awkward moments, nor have I had any niggles. It’s definitely like dating…wondering if they like you, revealing things about yourself that you wouldn’t necessarily talk about with new friends etc.

Obviously, I don’t know what the next 3 months will entail and we’ve yet to talk about the nitty gritty of what our journey may look like if we were to form a team, but I hope that whatever happens that we all enjoy this time getting to know each other.

They have invited us down to spend the weekend with them and we are all looking forward to seeing them again.

I can’t wait to enjoy some Christmas festivities with them all…. I’ll let you know how it goes!

NHS

So last week I had surgery to sort out my jaw and remove my impacted wisdom tooth. I struggled with the idea of having general anaesthetic more than the surgery itself and bad duck had a field day! I spoke to various people about anaesthetic including my best friend who’s a nurse and everyone reassured me that it is perfectly safe and that there’s nothing to worry about. I understood the logic yet still found myself doing the worst thing possible, googling. It mostly reassured me but as with anything on the internet you can always find something negative!

In the end I decided to post on a social media group dedicated to mental health as I thought that they may be able to ease my mind a little without judging my illogical thoughts. Everyone that replied, posted words of encouragement as well as tips to help with the anxiety and I was very touched by everyone’s messages.

In the days leading up to the surgery I tried to keep myself distracted and made sure I had everything I needed for when I got back home. However, the day before my operation I started getting my knickers in a twist and the anxiety took over with my mind catastrophising that I wouldn’t wake up from the anaesthetic.

Its safe to say that I didn’t get much sleep the night before and come the morning I was rather emotional. It certainly helped having my mum’s friend drive me to the hospital rather than my mum as I managed to hold it together with her and even went into the hospital quite happily.

As much as I didn’t want the surgery, I also wanted it over and done with so that I could be free from the pain caused by the tooth and my jaw and so that I could focus on Christmas!!

As I went to check in, I could already feel my eyes watering, but the tears quickly turned into laughter when I recognised the nurse who I saw for my pre-op who had been amazing. She had a fantastic sense of humour as well as being very reassuring and in her sarcastic way informed me, I was stuck with her for the day! She had remembered me and how anxious I was and so didn’t bat an eyelid when she took my obs yet again my heart rate was through the roof!!

On a positive note, there were only 3 of us waiting for surgery but unfortunately the other two patients were only 16 and so of course they were both going to have surgery before me. When I went to speak to the anaesthetist, she was so calm, informative, and reassuring and definitely had a human touch to her which not all healthcare professionals have. The surgeon had less of the human touch and decided to inform me that they might not even be able to take my tooth out and that I may need to have another operation to put a plate in my mouth…. not really what I needed to hear with my anxiety already through the roof!

As I sat waiting to go in, I tried to distract myself by messaging friends and watching comedies whilst doing the finger breathing exercise that had been recommended to me.

2 ½ hours later the lovely nurse came to get me and took me through to get ready for surgery. I’d already prepared myself for the sexy outfit they make you wear – a gown with an open back and stockings!

As I sat waiting on the trolley I started to get worked up and sent soppy messages to my Mum who made me laugh through the tears as she told me to focus on her ‘nursing’ once I was home. My Mum is a big softy and very loving but when it comes to dishing out sympathy or cooking well let’s just say it’s much to be desired!! But I wouldn’t change her for the world!

I have often struggled with asking for things or saying how I feel and although I have got a lot better at this it’s still something I find hard at times, but I worked up the courage to ask the nurse if she would stay with my until I was asleep, and she did. To be fair, the anaesthetist was very reassuring when I went into theatre and so was her assistant although they both seemed a little startled when I got hooked up to the monitors but once again the nurse informed them that my heart rate is going to be that high due to my anxiety and thankfully, they listened to her.

So, as I lay there holding the nurses hand we talked about New Zealand and her time living in the Caribbean and all I remember was feeling lightheaded once I’d been given some strong pain relief and being told they were giving me the anaesthetic and that’s it.

Next thing I knew I heard someone say my name and there I was in the recovery room! At that moment I didn’t care if the surgery had been successful but more that I had woken up, so it was the icing on the cake when I was told that the surgery went better than expected and I was shown the epic tooth they’d taken out with roots bigger than the tooth!

I am incredibly grateful to the staff, they were so caring, reassuring, calm, human…faultless really. I know that it’s their job, but I truly felt that they were all amazing and that they went above and beyond, particularly when it came to my anxiety.

After hearing about all the selfish and ignorant people in the news recently, it was a breath of fresh air to be reminded that there are still some genuine and good-hearted people in this world!

Birthday…

So last week was my birthday and I wasn’t particularly excited about it as I didn’t have anything exciting planned (and I wasn’t keen on hitting 35!).

However, I woke up to discover it was snowing and it looked beautiful as the snowflakes were falling and I couldn’t help thinking that it was my Grandads way of saying Happy Birthday as he knew how much I love snow. It’s been years since its snowed on my birthday, so it felt rather special. Before it was time to do the school run there was just about enough snow to have a snowball fight with my girls which was a giggle although despite it being Mummy’s birthday, they both still got me!!!

Then I had 2 clients to see but I knew that we can’t always have our birthday off, I guess I have been spoilt in recent years having not worked since I was pregnant with my eldest daughter. I couldn’t help recalling 2 years ago when I woke up in a lovely hotel in Prague where I was served prosecco with my breakfast and last year despite being in ‘tiers’ we still made the most of it by going to the beach and paddling!

However, as I drove back from seeing my clients, I couldn’t help but feel honoured to be training to be a counsellor. One of my clients had shared something with me that they had never felt able to share with anyone before and I was incredibly touched and honoured. Some of my peers from my course said that they would have been honest with their clients and told them it was their birthday but I’m not one for drawing attention to myself and I wouldn’t have wanted it to affect their session e.g., if they then felt unable to share anything less than pleasant.

My day was broken up by having a birthday lunch with my Mum which was lovely as I don’t often get chance to spent quality time with her without my girls.

I then had to go to college which I wasn’t thrilled by purely as this meant that I wouldn’t see my girls as they would be asleep by the time, I got home but being the big kid that I am I decided to have a birthday tea the following day…mainly so that my girls could blow out candles! A few of us managed to sneak away early from college and went into a tipi bar for a couple of drinks which was a lovely way to end the day.

My eldest daughter kept asking how old I was, and she rolled her eyes every time I tried to convince her I was 8 or 21 as she didn’t believe me!! So, once she knew I was 35 she was determined to put 35 candles in the cake!! Fortunately, my Mum convinced her not to put that many candles in the cake but there must have been more than 20!!

If it wasn’t enough that my daughter kept asking how old I was my wonderful best friend (are you sensing the sarcasm?!) kept rubbing it in that I was now a year older than her (for the next 6 months) and that I was now in my MID thirties meanwhile she is still in her early thirties!!! Fortunately, we have known each other that long that we can take the mickey out of each other and know that we love each other really.

So, all in all it was a lovely birthday and I felt very lucky to have some special people in my life!

Dentist…

I am very familiar with the surroundings of a dental surgery and have spent many hours sat in the dentist chair throughout my life. I know a lot of people don’t like going to the dentist and some fear having dental procedures, yet it doesn’t phase me at all. I am used to having multiple dental implements in my mouth and the noises associated with it.

My recent experience with my dentist still hasn’t given me a fear of dentists but I wouldn’t say that I am happy about it.

I had a wisdom tooth taken out not long after giving birth to my first daughter and no word of a lie, dry socket was more painful than giving birth and a broken jaw was on par with this.

When I went to the hospital to see the consultant about my tooth and broken jaw, I don’t know what I was expecting, I guess at most an x-ray however I ended up leaving my appointment in tears. Apparently, my impacted wisdom tooth is rotting inside my gums and so there is no alternative other than to have it removed. I was also told the pain wouldn’t go away until it is taken out. It’s not the thought of having my tooth taken out, my gum being cut open, having my jaw broken (again) nor a chunk of bone being removed that caused the tears. It’s the fact that due to the complexity of removing the tooth (bearing in mind that my dentist thought she could remove it whilst I was sat in the dentist chair!) I have to have a general anaesthetic and I am PETRIFIED! If there was any way out of it then I would avoid it at all costs but as my mum pointed out, I don’t really have a choice if my tooth is rotting, and I do want the pain to go away.

So, I have been urgently referred and unlike most things that have been delayed due to Covid I will be having the operation in less than 2 weeks’ time!

I don’t know where my fear of having a general anaesthetic comes from and know that thousands of people have them every day without any issue. But bad duck is having a field day with the ‘what ifs’. I understand that it will be a lot easier for me and the surgeon if I am asleep and they have said it will only take between 15-30 minutes, yet it doesn’t stop the fear.

I am frustrated with myself that I have this fear as I know most people aren’t phased by it and would much rather be asleep for the procedure. I wish it didn’t bother me, but it does. Unfortunately, due to Covid my Mum can’t come with me. For me, the thought makes me want to cry and I am worried about how I will cope on the day.

However, I am trying my best to deal with my fear by having the strength to mention my fear when I have my pre-op and when I arrive on the day (if I manage to get myself through the door!).

It was ‘amausing’ that I have been told to expect a little bit of discomfort after my operation which is what my dentist said after she broke my jaw and so I am preparing myself this time for a few days of being off my feet. This time around I have told my counselling placement that I will be having the week off as well as college and I am making sure I have plenty of convenience food in so that I don’t need to think about shopping or cooking. Instead, I am going to allow myself to snuggle in my new Christmas pyjamas and watch Christmas films rather than try to carry on as normal. Hopefully I will be ok after a couple of days but at least I am prepared for having a week of not feeling hunky dory.

At least I get to enjoy my birthday before my operation and all being well me and my girls are going away a week after my operation which gives me something to look forward to.

I really hope that the fear won’t consume me on the day and that I can take it in my stride…I will try and distract myself by thinking of Michael McIntyre’s clip about his trip to the dentist and how his biggest concern when having his operation was having to walk down the corridor with his bum on show!!