Fires, friends and broken bones…

Oh man people, what a week it was. Last week was horrible. HORRIBLE. But for a few amazing moments that fuelled me through the quagmire. The first involved fire…my favourite kind of fire. CAMPFIRE. I was quite proud of the fire I built with my fellow Senior Section leader and one of my older Guides’ assistance. It took quite a few buckets of water to put that baby out fully at the end of the night. There were spacehoppers, marshmallows and of course campfire singing. I was finally able to work on teaching 2 guide units campfire songs this term, and they seem to love it! yay!IMGP0866

On Saturday there was a trip to Eyemouth, and on Sunday a trip to St Andrews for ice cream. In between, some frantic shopping for things – please pray that the person who borrowed my sleeping bag 2 years ago actually returns it to me in time for leaving for Cornwall on Thursday. It is a great (and not cheap) microlite one so I’m not going to be too chuffed if I have to buy a replacement for it at short notice.

Tonight, I went to visit my friend who has gone from 365 days of stoke to… (pause while I do the maths here)…127 days of broke. You can hear about his gnarly skate ride and see the fairly impressive x ray of his foot compared to what it should look like on his blog 365 Days of Stoke. Sadly his current plaster cast cannot be decorated, but I’m hoping that he is going to get  new cast tomorrow that we can all doodle on. I’ve also threatened to paint his toenails. Because that’s the kind of supportive friend I am.

On Thursday we begin the journey to the Christian Surfers conference in Polzeath. Before I go I need to make sure I’ve got all the end of term letters, envelopes for badges and so on ready for when we get back on Monday. Oh and pack. Pray we’d have good weather (apparently the surf report isn’t looking too hot).

Oh, and look out for a big announcment on my blog. Another item on that bucket list will hopefully soon be ticked off, but will definitely be needing some support for this one! :)


Pray for Tricia

Hi Everyone,

Friends of Tricia & Nathan made this image collage to spread the word through social media for people to pray for Tricia.

I’ve been following what’s happening through Nathan’s twitter feed, and this is what the report yesterday was.

The feeding tubes seem to be doing their thing, because she is gaining weight but the lung infection is still there and it’s reducing her lung function more and more every day.

So. Do feel free to keep up with Nathan & Tricia – tweet them some encouragement (@pattysue & @NathanLawrenson). And you can find out more about their incredible story and keep up to date at Nathan’s blog.

You can also download the image and share it on your blog/twitter/facebook so we can get lots more prayers for Tricia.

**Tricia’s sister Megan is running the OBX Marathon next month to raise funds for Tricia’s trust fund to help with the medical related expenses of being in hospital and having to live in Durham while being on the transplant list again. If you’d like to sponsor Megan there are more details here.**

How to get kids to hate sport & ruin an Olympic legacy

The olympics have been awesome. It’s been great to see triumph, it’s been heart wrenching to watch the disappointment. We’ve seen rowers being dragged to their feet by Sir Steve, people competing on fractured bones, crashes, near misses and the joy of simply competing.

There are some that sadly, have forgotten what the Olympics are about. It’s not just about winning. It’s about  your work being rewarded with the honour of representing your country and competing alongside athletes from across the globe.

To quote one of my favourite films “If you aren’t enough without it [a gold medal], you’ll never be enough with it“.

As a graduate of health science, I’m all for getting kids active. I’ve really done my best to get people excited about the Olympics, encouraging my parenting friends to watch it with their kids. At Guides, we combined the Amelia’s Challenge badge with the ‘On Your Marks’ programme that Girlguiding created to tie in with London 2012. I’m hoping they’ve been watching (I did tell them they all had to know who Beth Tweddle was by the end of the summer) and I’m hoping they’ve been inspired by it.

And then I heard the disappointing and frustrating news today that our Prime Minister is backing compulsory competitive sports in the school curriculum.


For me it brought back memories of being forced to do certain sports at PE in school. I was terrible. It became that being good at team sports made you popular. It wasn’t about taking part. If you screwed up, your team moaned and shouted at you. Even if you did your best. It was humiliating and horrible. By the time high school came around, it turned into bullying and I used to skive school on days I had PE.

Here’s the flip side. Was I an inactive kid  because I was the one who got picked almost to last or preferred to sit and sunbathe on the sidelines that take part in a game of rounders or tennis?


I used to take part in dance classes – 2 a week going into high school. When we were getting ready for exams or a show, sometimes I might be dancing for 5 hours a day. I’d come home with a bag of sweaty leotards, feet blistered and cut and next day my muscles would hurt so bad in school.

I remember my friend Emily feeling ill one day in PE as our teacher made us run round the playing field. She looked white. I stopped to sit with her (our teacher wasn’t really doing anything to help her and I was concerned). He shouted at me and I’ve never forgotten the words “Get moving! This is probably the only exercise you’ll have done this week“.

Red rag to a teenage bull.

I lost no time in setting him straight. The PE teacher at least had nothing to respond with.

The problem with PE, was that you never got a chance to get good at anything. The sporty kids got held back by kids like me who had no talent (or desire) for whatever sport had been forced upon us.And it was mostly team sports. Basketball, hockey, rugby… and PE teachers didn’t necessarily know much about the sport they were teaching. I would have loved the opportunity to improve on my swimming. I had a good breaststroke – my leg stroke (?) was great. My arm stroke sucked (I have no upper body strength). We spent one day on breaststroke in the 4 years I did compulsory high school PE! 2 weeks later I was being made to play rugby without my glasses on. 4 weeks after that hockey.

It is not the way to get kids into sport.

I’m now going to quote Olympic champion, Shawn Johnson. In her book Winning Balance she talks about her work with a US congressman to get kids more active.

“In a traditional PE class, kids might be drilled in the fundamentals of volleyball one day and then lined up and ordered to do push ups the next. It’s an approach many kids hate. And if they dread physical activity at this age, they’re much less likely to be concerned about staying fit later on”

When Jessica Ennis was asked her opinion on plans to get sports more competitive for kids she said it was more important to make it fun, the competitive side should come much later.

I agree.

I also love the idea of what Shawn Johnson Fitness for Life Act bill is doing. The idea is that pupils are given choices about how to spend their PE time. It might be lifting weights, playing a team sport or doing a Dance game on the Nintendo Wii. Whatever they choose the pupils wear heart rate monitors and know what their individual target heart rate is. And once they’ve reached their target, they’ve met their goal for the day and after that they can do what they want. Those who are less fit, or perhaps overweight will reach their target more easily. Those who are aspiring sports stars will have to work harder. The programme gives small successes – and achievable goals to kids who usually feel inferior to the sporty kids.

The real goal“, Shawn Johnson writes “is to help kids discover that exercise is fun“.

In the USA there seems to be much more incentive for sport – sports schloarships, extra curricular sport with decent coaches who know that sport well. Perhaps that’s why they are top of the Olympic table.

And then, you’ve got to look at the sports we have a great legacy in. Cycling was not an option at school. Neither was gymnastics. Or canoeing. Or rowing. Or athletics (other than running 100m races). I was appalled at my PE teacher’s idea of “dance”. Maybe it’s time we think outside of the box. Maybe we let the kids pick a sport to be involved in, the same as they get to pick an instrument to learn to play in music if they want to. Maybe we join forces with local colleges, universities, sports clubs and other schools so that resources can be brought together to give kids opportunity to learn a sport properly and have fun doing it.

Because really…if you don’t love the sport, you’re never going to want to push through the bad times and injuries to keep going towards the chance of Olympic medals.

And Politicians…you might want to think about that.

I went to Cornwall, and I came back with…

i’m back. our cornish holiday was lovely. the weather was pretty good to us compared to what it was in the rest of the uk and we loved our house, time with the A and B families…

last time on ‘our’ beach

However it seems like i can never go away and come back withut some kind of event. On wednesday I went bodyboarding and tried a bit of surfing (I didn’t managed to stand up…boo). I was sore on Thursday, better on Friday, woke up yesterday with my right arm hurting so bad I couldn’t even brush my teeth using my right hand. I had to go into work to do more painting, and by the time I got home I was hurting, feeling dizzy and running a bit of fever. No major deal.

At moment, I thankfully still have movement in my right wrist, though to stretch or flex any of the muscles in my arm sends a lot of pain all the way down/up it. Like, cry out loud kind of pain. This is how the pain started when I injured my left arm doing care work 8 years ago. The pain, the stiffness, the gradually having less and less movement. So I’m a little concerned that the pain in my right arm isn’t easing off. In fact, all the joints in my body hurt really bad, my muscles ache and I should be FINE by now. It’s weird and not normal to be stiff and sore for this long.

I thankfully still have today and tomorrow off before I go back to work. I hope I’m feeling all back to normal by then. I need to unpack. I need to bake my Mum a birthday cake (it’s her birthday tomorrow). I need to wash my hair and wash the paint off my left arm. I want to finish my ‘gymnasts to watch at the olympics’ posts for my blog!

My body is saying a big fat NO to all of that just now. This post has taken much longer to type than it would for me normally so hope you’ll all excuse any typos and grammar errors! hopefully ‘normal’ will resume shortly…


Energy level in the red zone

It’s days like today that remind me that I had M.E. and really…I still have it. I’m lucky enough to have a mild form of it. It took years before it was diagnosed, and even then my doctors never offered any treatment. They just named it, shrugged their shoulders and said ‘there’s nothing you can do‘.


The thing about it is, I look pretty healthy most of the time. When I had mumps I looked awful to the people around me who saw me day-in, day-out at university. I’ll never forget my Advisor of Studies seeing me in the corridor of the medical school and telling me ‘Go home, your face is still swollen and you look like a hamster’. A few weeks later I managed to put on make up one Monday morning like I’d normally done and my coursemates said ‘Wow! You look so much better!’. I still felt just as exhausted as the week before.

Make up covers all manner of things!

‘Tired’ is a word I use to describe how I’m feeling on a regular basis. Today was a particularly bad day though. I woke up after a good night’s sleep, drove my Mum to work then went to do some shopping. I felt exhausted. I sat in the car park for about 15 minutes just trying to work up the energy to step out my car. Once I’d ran all my errands I knew I had to eat something – proper and get some fruit into me. I did. All I wanted to do was curl in a ball and fall asleep. I tried to read. Eventually I had to give up and crawl into my bed. I woke up about 2 hours later, and when I woke up I couldn’t move a muscle in my body.

It’s a horrible feeling.

Equally horrible is trying to think about something and realising that you can’t. You get part way through a thought and your brain just suddenly goes a bit crazy. It’s a strange experience and I don’t really know how to describe it.

I don’t want to complain because I’m ok really. Yes. It can be frustrating at times. No. It’s not very nice to have a constant dull aches and pains and rarely feel full of energy.

I feel bad on nights like tonight. I managed with a lot of will power to get to ‘lifegroup’ (a new idea from my church). First issue is that it was our groups night to a have a meal together. If I hadn’t eaten before I went I would have had problems. I feel awful that I’m such an awkward person to feed! You get strange looks, you get asked questions. You feel terrible when you ask them whether the food they bought was made from scratch or came out of a packet. But for me, eating something processed usually results in me feeling rotten for at least 24 hours after. Second issue is that I’m feeling exhausted. I can’t concentrate to watch a video. And then be asked questions about it when I can’t remember what was said in the video. Third issue is that I have no energy and what I want to do is curl in a corner and be able to just ‘be’ and know that people will understand that it’s just that I’m having an ‘off-day’. Instead I’m in a group with people I’ve never met being asked to tell them how I’m doing and what I would like prayer for. But I’ve got a vulnerable adult in my group and it is not that person’s fault that I’m feeling rubbish. I feel pressure to put on a brave face and ‘be there’ for that person.

By the time the evening is over I’m so tired I can feel the tears bubbling up and threatening to start me bawling for no reason.

I am thankful that I’m much much better than I once was. This used to be everyday and worse. I used to need help washing my hair. I used to have to crawl to the bathroom or kitchen because I couldn’t walk. My joints were once in constant pain. And I used to have the added factor of nausea, heavy bleeding and pain that made me pass out before the wonderful wonderful injections of depo provera.

But I do find the unpredictability, the increasing food sensitivities and the return of migraines frustrating.

I just pray that being sensible and having rest days and being totally anal about what I put into my body will keep me being able to live a life I enjoy.

On that note, I’m going to quit griping and put some pyjamas on and crawl under my duvet. Maybe watch a bit of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (thank you Gavin for lending it to me!) and most likely fall asleep. And be thankful I have a late start tomorrow.

Even if that means an afternoon of suicide awareness training! (not cheery…but important)

Old Friends

Last night I had to de-ice my car before I could go over to the other side of the city to spend an evening with some of girl friends from high school. These are the girls that I saw in the millennium with, talked about first kisses with, and whose homes I hid out in in my last couple of years in Edinburgh before I went to uni leaving them behind as they finished off a 6th year of school.

It’s not often we get together without the male counterparts of our ‘group’, and though I’m so grateful to have grown up with a number of close male friends, there are times when it’s nice for it to be just us girlies!

Definitely it leaves a no subject uncensored dynamic as proven last night as we talked about sex, contraception, cervical smears, why we get so funny about pooing in shared bathrooms, menstruation, body image amongst other things. Someone commented that it’s kinda nice to be able to do that as you discover things you didn’t know or that you’re not the only one that struggles with something and most importantly learn ways in how to deal with it.

I really appreciate having those friendships where you really can talk about anything. Even when it gets uncomfortable.

I hope you have those kind of friendships too.

Because I think they are important.

I’m over the other side of the pond today…

…because I’m guest posting at Caroline’s blog as part of her ‘Whole Foods Holiday‘ series! Let the inner health scientist be unleashed as I give my top ten tips for healthier eating.

And let my inner health scientist feel much guilt that she’s about to post another fattening sugary Christmassy recipe in the next seven days. :)

Thanks Caroline for letting me be a guest at your blog once again!

Again and again…

I’ve not written much in the last week, because to be honest, I’ve not had the emotional energy to write much. Last week was trying to say the least where I basically worked 6 days straight (not something I’ve done much of in the last 4 years). It was stressful and really really not worth it. On Saturday I missed 2 birthdays, falling asleep when an unexpected guest left, waking up, and then getting a phone call from my Dad to say that my suspicions had been confirmed…my Grandpa has been officially diagnosed with throat cancer.

This is where life gets strange.

Life as a ‘divorced kid’ seems to be affecting me more now that I’m in my twenties than it ever did during my childhood.

I don’t really know how to respond to this news that my Grandpa is (most likely) dying from cancer.

Firstly, my stepmother basically stopped my Dad seeing his family from when I was about 9 years old. After that point I never saw much of that set of grandparents, so I don’t really know them.

Secondly, I’ve ended up with several sets of grandparents. My Nana & Grandad and step-grandfather have all died in the last 6 years. The 2 grandfathers also died of this kind of cancer.

When my Dad called me a few weeks ago, and told me that ‘Grandpa hasn’t been very well’ and told me his symptoms, I knew immediately what was wrong. However, I’m not a doctor, so at the point I could not say ‘well, it sounds like he has cancer of his oesophagus and/or throat’. Because I might have been wrong. I wasn’t wrong. My Dad then asked me, just like my Mum asked me 6 years ago as my Nana lay in an ICU – ‘what does that mean?‘ – how can you tell your parents what’s going to come?

Of course, if my Dad and Mum had been married, he would have seen what happened to my Grandad and he’d know what is to come because he’d have seen it and been through it already.

But they aren’t.

And so I have seen it but he has not.

I have decided not to go and visit him. That may be the wrong decision, but certainly I don’t believe I have the strength or emotional energy to cope with being stuck miles from home with a family who do not know me, nor have they ever fought to get to know me even when I’ve made effort with them. I ended up having a massive argument with my Dad as he realised that I do not trust him and that I haven’t forgotten the things he has done in the past which he denies. I also do not have much respect for my grandfather knowing the abuse directed at my father most of his life.

What a mess.

One thing is for sure, and that is that the fathers in my family have made a huge mess of things, and it creates a domino effect down the generations.

I am one of five children – and none of us see or speak to our biological fathers often.

I just hope that if any of us have children of our own, we’ll be able to break the pattern.

Only time will tell I guess.

All I can do is pray. Pray that whatever happens over the coming weeks and months would bring our family closer together, changed for better and not for the worse.


Please vote for LoveOliver!!

Hopefully, some of you remember Oliver (to be honest I’m not sure how anyone could forget that gorgeous smile of his). :)

Well, I have important news… LoveOliver is now officially a Scottish Charity!!! You can find LoveOliver on facebook, twitter, and on the LoveOliver website.

LoveOliver was set up in memory of Oliver Gill after his death on Christmas morning in 2010 caused by a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He was only 5½ months old. The charity helps fund research into paediatric cancers and practical support to families affected by childhood cancer who are having treatment at Royal Sick Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh (known as the “Sick Kids Hospital”).

Already over £40,000 has been raised in honour of Oliver, and £20 000 of that has already been donated to fund a research project.

For those of you in Scotland, I’d love love love if you could register with RBS Community Force and vote for LoveOliver so they could be awarded £6000. (I’m not sure if you can if you live outside of Scotland, but it would be worth trying – please let me know if you do and what the outcome is!)

Also if you’re in Edinburgh area, there is going to be a fundraising gig in my hometown of Leith on Saturday 8th October. You can purchase a ticket here.


Let’s compare: having a mole removed vs. a foetus removed

Tonight had a conversation with a GP who was asking me more about the campaign and talks going on regarding counselling and how ‘informed’ consent to terminations really is. I found this post I had written a couple of months ago that I never published on my blog in the end, and thought it was topical…so…here it is.I’ve just finished doing some training in pregnancy crisis counselling with a group of women. Over the last few months we’ve together grappling with the controversy that surrounds sex education, sexual health, pregnancy, adoption, abortion and all the other issues that relate to these topics that can bring out some very strong emotions and polarising opinions.

I’m very open about my own experience with the people I work with, because I know I appreciate it when people share with me their experiences of life that I haven’t personally experienced to help me imagine, understand and empathise better with people.

This year my own story of abortion has come up a lot more than usual, and I’ve been asked a lot of questions about it that I’m not usually asked. Like why I kept it a secret from my family, what my boyfriend’s parents thought about the whole thing, how doctors treated me, did I get counselled adequately?

I actually had a fabulous GP who took the time to hear my reasoning, challenge me to whether I’d considered other options and was very considerate in taking my wishes to not have further appointments until I had finished all my Higher exams. Now, this meant that I’d cause difficulty in showing that doctors ‘met their targets’ but she did it anyway. And I’m sincerely grateful. She also very kindly wrote a letter in case I needed to appeal when my exam results came through but again, took consideration at my desire for discretion in not actually specifying that I was pregnant or planning on terminating the pregnancy once my exams were finished.

Cue my next appointment – the one at the hospital 2 weeks later. I was left to wait for hours. I did not get scanned (in fact to my knowledge no one confirmed my pregnancy). One of the nurses treated me with great disdain. A doctor called me stupid and did not explain anything. He just barked orders and carried out his examination without even explaining what he was doing, what the nurses were doing or why. Or what would happen at the next again appointment – the day of my abortion.

I thankfully was at a different hospital (a week later) for the actual procedure, and the nurses were compassionate and treated me like a human being. The doctor I saw that day didn’t, but she was one person amongst a bunch of angels as far as I was concerned! Plus I was drugged up to the nines anyway. I had no idea what was coming and was terrified & completely unprepared as a result.

It didn’t really hit home that how I was treated on that second appointment (or by the doctor on the day of my abortion) was completely shocking and against protocol and guidelines until a good few years later. While in Australia, a mole on my abdomen blackened and scabbed literally overnight and gave me quite a fright when I discovered it at Brisbane Airport. When I returned home, I saw my GP in Aberdeen who said that it looked a little suspicious and needed to be removed and biopsied.

I got an appointment at a minor surgery clinic based in a local health centre with a GP who was also a surgeon. He was a jolly man, and took me into his office very cheerfully. He sat me down, explained exactly what he was going to do (even drawing a diagram of what the incision would look like, how the stitches worked) and even asked me if he thought he should do four or five stitches! He went through every single risk factor (the main one being infection) despite it being a very low risk procedure being that it was just a local anaesthetic. He then told me how I should treat the wound, how long to keep the dressing on etc etc.

It wasn’t until I walked out and was taking off the dressing a week later that it hit me…this is what it should have been like when I had the abortion.

No one explained or made sure I fully understood every step of what would happen, what could happen and what to watch out for after. They’d already put me on diazepam when a doctor asked whether I definitely wanted to go through with the procedure, and when I said ‘No, not really, but I have to‘  she just scribbled something on a chart and walked away. And the procedure I went through a decade ago had more risk factors (particularly given that I was put under general anaesthetic) than the little mole being cut out my stomach!

That is what I want to see change the most in this whole thing. I hate to think that others will be sent in blind like I was, but I know it still happens.

And it’s not ok.