Tag Archives: health

Manhandled by a Meerkat!

WARNING: The following blog contains explicit talk on the subject of mammary glands.

I need to talk about boobs… nope that’s a horrid noun… what other word can I use??? Other suggestions I have googled are hooters (too strip joint), jugs (too derogative), cleavage (too posh), bosom (too matronly), knockers (too Carry On!), or good old-fashioned breasts perhaps? Even saying ‘breasts’ forces me to say the word a bit quietly as it sounds a bit rude, it wouldn’t sound rude if I was referring to chicken breasts but just ‘breasts’ on its own sounds a bit wrong.

My sudden urge to broach the subject is not a need to write the next 50 Shades of Grey but because I have spent my day, with my Mum, at my local breast clinic. Let me explain.

Last month, I found a lump under my arm. I decided to ignore it, convincing myself it was ‘nothing to worry about’. But then I became obsessed with its presence, finding myself having a little feel of it whenever I could, pretending I was scratching a non-existent mosquito bite in Sainsburys to check it was still there. I eventually realised this behaviour was just plain weird and finally booked a doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately, we have a lot of The Big C in my family history and breast cancer particularly (the word breast is not so rude in that sentence funnily enough). So, when I gave my doc a meet and greet with my armpit (lucky him!), he was fairly certain that my lump was fatty tissue (ew) but, after taking a closer look at my family history, decided to refer me for “further tests”.

My Mum, who is a breast cancer survivor, assured me my over-prodded lump felt normal to her and was nothing scary and happily agreed to accompany me for my day at the clinic. We arrived at 1030 today and was led into a waiting room of 15 women and 1 man and was informed that my day could last between 2-5 hours. We stocked up on chocolate and prepared ourselves for the long haul.

First up was my meeting with the consultant, we had a chat about all things mammary and she asked me to make myself comfortable for an examination. She then proceeded to knead my lung protectors as I lay there considering what an excellent loaf of bread she would make. She regarded my lump agreeing it was probably ‘fatty tissue’ to which I felt strangely offended on behalf of my lump. Her attention was then taken by my left boob which she explained ‘had a thickening to one side’, as if I knew what that meant, but assured me it was probably nothing but would send me upstairs for further tests.

Upstairs, we settled ourselves in another waiting room before I was called for my mammogram. For those not knowledgeable on this test, basically its a metal boob sandwich with your chest area becoming the filling. A nurse places your breast on a cold metal plate like she is about to fillet a fish, then instructs you to not move but to allow her to adjust your position for you. So considering I am stood, without top, facing a metal machine, the nurse then moves my arms and hips around in a weird sort of robotic dance leaving me awkwardly hugging a machine with my breast in an excruciating vice like grip.

Next up, just to make doubly sure my lump and new ‘thickening’ was of no concern, I was asked to wait for an ultrasound in our third waiting room/corridor of the day. I considered that as a Mother of three I have had my fair share of ultrasounds so felt fairly relaxed about this test. How wrong was I!

After what felt like a week in the waiting room, I was led into a darkened room by a nurse where a male doctor sat engrossed on his computer screen. She asked me to dismount top again, honestly should have worn a simpler bra, and ‘make myself comfortable’ on the bed with my paper towel dignity cover, nice! After a lot of grumbling coming from the male voice in the room, a little man in a bow tie came to my side of the curtain and sat on the edge of my bed forcing me to ‘budge up’! After I was instructed to remove my paper towel, along with every ounce of dignity, I was then smothered in lube as he proceeded to use the scanner in a windscreen wiper fashion to check out my rack. What made it massively awkward was that not only did he look a bit like Serge the meerkat out of the comparethemeerkat ads but actually sounded like him too! He checked out my lump which he literally scoffed at my suggestion that it was ‘a lump’ but instead said “it is merely muscle, or fat, or vein”. He then checked out ‘my thickening’ which he surmised to be cysts which apparently are ‘normal’. I’m not sure what is normal now! He then almost shouted that ‘your breasts are extremely dense!” and looked at me excitedly for a reaction, to which I wasn’t sure whether to say ‘thanks’ or not, is it a compliment or is he suggesting they are a bit stupid? My breasts are to be renamed dumb and dumber perhaps? He said it was not good or bad but just made the scan easier. I unnecessarily answered “Glad to help!”. Thankfully the ordeal was over fairly quickly and Serge was soon off to fiddle on his computer again.

We then returned to waiting room No.1 to see my earlier consultant. She took a look at my results from both scans and showed me the notes on the computer, which actually said ‘patient has extremely dense breasts’, thanks Serge! She was confident that I had no major concerns but that as I have three female relatives (Mum, Aunt and Cousin) with breast cancer that I should have the gene test, which is my next step. I also had ‘moderate risk’ stamped on my file so I can receive mammograms earlier than most women which I am very thankful for.

I am now cracking open the prosecco, raising a glass to dumb and dumber for their bravery today. I am forever thankful for my health, I have seen first hand the grip of cancer on loved ones and pray for my future health and wellbeing and salute the fight of those less fortunate than myself. We can only hope for future without this terrible disease but for now we have Serge to keep us smiling.

A true fighter friend of mine, who is kicking cancer up the butt but unfortunately by way of her own bank account, is Lauren’s Marvellous Medicine, if you would like to be inspired and to help her cause, please check out her weblink on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaurensMarvellousMedicine


Fasting my food

I’m not a big fan of diets. I know they are way of life for many and I have been threatening to go on one since I ate my own body weight in chocolate and red wine on New Years Eve, but does anyone really enjoy them? Whenever I’m around one of my dieting friends and we are faced with a cake/biscuit/glass of wine situation, they will sadly decline the offer of said treat because they are ‘on a diet’.

I have always been fairly blessed with a fast metabolism and used to be able to lose weight fairly easily. Now post babies and in the latter part of my 30s, it seems that my metabolism is taking a more relaxed approach in its ability to cut back my unwanted inches, meaning I’m having to actually work hard at losing weight.

However, the trouble is not my metabolism as such but my willpower. The minute my head is in diet mode, I feel the weight of food denial hanging heavy on my shoulders. By cutting out treats, I start to obsess about how much I’m missing them. I start eyeing up a forgotten bottle of Bailey’s that hasn’t been touched since Christmas with a yearning need for its calorific creamy wonder. I gladly eat healthy all day, keeping my calories to a minimum, happily quaffing my recommended 2 litres of water. But come about 5.30 while the kids are finishing off their dinner, I find myself crouched in the corner of the kitchen manically stuffing my face with KitKats and Babybel’s trying to satisfy my intense need for rubbish food, promising myself that tomorrow I’ll try harder.

I have been writing a number of diet articles for work recently and came across the diet involving intermittent fasting. Over a week you eat normally for 5 days and on 2 days you are only allowed to consume 500 calories for a woman and 600 for a man. Apart from sounding like you are preparing for surgery each week, it is said to not only help you lose weight but prolong your life in the process. So I do what every committed dieter does, I buy the book, giving myself another week to avoid it while I read up on it. However, while my Fasting Diet book sat hidden underneath a pile of other books, hubby picked it up for a flick through and got hooked! And as expected he has taken this diet on as if it were no mean feat, telling me how easy it is to change your lifestyle, fit in 2 days of fasting and asking me daily when I’m going to commit to it. The problem with me is the whole ‘change for life’ thing. Perhaps if the book promised that you only had to fast for a few weeks until your ‘mothers apron’ disappeared or you had a spring in your step enough to actually clean the house properly. But a change for life, what happens if I stop it, have I failed?

82 calories per chocolate biscuit...how depressing...

82 calories per chocolate biscuit…how depressing…

Most men find it easy to shed weight on a diet, it’s a nature thing as women retain fluid, store more fat in our thighs and generally drink less beer. So after a week of the fast diet, hubby has lost 4 pounds and feels better about himself already. And obviously he finds the whole fasting thing really easy and thinks everyone should eat like this, getting his work mates doing it and wondering why he has never done it before. Don’t get me wrong I am proud of him, he is very committed, just annoying that he is not affected by the lack of chocolate on his fast days and has even managed not to binge eat on his ‘normal days’. I will start it next week as it was sort of my idea in the first place, I don’t want to feel a total failure. I just need to work out which days I’m going to fast on first, think I’ll have a chocolate biscuit while I think about it.

Anyone for a spot of nip and tuck?

My bestie recently visited her pregnant friend, she called me on her return concerned at how dreadful her friend had looked. Now I can personally guarantee that not all pregnant women ‘glow’ during their pregnancy. There’s a lot of bloating, swelling of limbs, cankles, the sleep deprived look brought on by nightly indigestion. Plus points are that your hair is often a little thicker and mostly your skin becomes clearer, however, you are temporarily teetotal and following a healthier diet which helps. But my bestie insisted her pregnant friend didn’t have that haunted rabbit caught in the headlights soon-to-be parents look, but she in fact had really bad lines around her eyes and major eye bags as if she had aged considerably in a few months. I’ve met this girl on a number of occasions and she ordinarily has that flawless skin, hair swishy ‘because I’m worth it’ look going on, so I was very surprised to hear that her pregnancy had resulted in such an unusual ageing process. My bestie went on to explain that her pregnant friend had said that ‘she couldn’t wait to have the baby so she could get back on the Botox’. Apparently the reason she was much more lined than usual is because she has always had regular injections to keep her wrinkles at bay. And whereas other pregnant women avoid eating shellfish and soft cheese, she has to avoid Botox so not to harm her unborn baby.

Smile your last smile!

Smile your last smile!

This revelation raised concerns for me, not just because this girl is the same age as me and the conversation resulted in me looking at the scary side of my hubby’s shaving mirror and examining my own wrinkles, but because it feels very close to home. We can all often spot a celebrity Botox job a mile off and have come to accept it with Kylie, Nicole Kidman and Courtney Cox, all beautiful women but with a sort of waxwork sheen about them now they are older. Will it mean that having a Botox will become as normal as having your roots done? Our future beauty routines will consist of cleanse, tone and inject poison into our skin. We will have to carry pen and paper so we can convey how we are feeling, no longer able to rely on our expressions as we are all left looking constantly stunned.

I suppose my fear of these cosmetic procedures isn’t helped by the clinical names involved. For example, Botox is actually called Botulinum Toxic, a term that conjures up some sort of rat poison to mind. Anything ending in the word toxic surely isn’t advisable? Furthermore, another popular beauty therapy too far is the harsh facial, more commonly known as the chemical peel. It does what it says on the tin ladies! It consists of chemicals that peel your skin off your face, it could double up as a torture aid in a James Bond movie!

Plastic surgery used to be something that was contained in LA, where you would snigger at Joan Rivers Mars Attack look on television and think I would never do that to myself. As a child I remember that Dolly Parton was the only female celebrity who had admitted to a boob job and would be ridiculed by the likes of Kenny Everett and Spitting Image because of it. Nowadays it is completely normal for a female celebrity to sport a boob job, no thanks to silicone addict Katie Price. It makes me wonder what will happen in the next generation. Will my 5-year-old daughter be exposed to completely plastic celebrities when she is older or will we get to the point where we will think what the hell do they look like and put the plastic surgeons out of business? There are essential cosmetic procedures out there though and I am forever amazed at the improvements in medical science to enable people who have scars or disfigurements to seek help to change them. It is just making sure the line is not blurred, that we can be accepted for how we look wrinkles and all. And if you ever feel tempted for a bit of nip and tuck, google Jackie Stallone, it helps I promise you. “Yeah Jackie!”

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ekai/2421936996/”>ekai</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

Fatigued To Meet You

When I talk to my closest friends, actually in conversation with words and mannerisms and not by text or Facebook messaging but in real life or on the phone, it is not uncommon for the conversation to result in a moan about how shattered we both feel. It’s not that we are all manic depressive but that we are quite often very tired and have waves of feeling a bit peeved from the hamster wheel of everyday life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish to sound ‘Poor Me’ as I know how fortunate I am compared to others who live in desperate situations, but our lives are all relative to our own situations so we are allowed to indulge in a bit of a moan about things sometimes.

It is widely reported that Modern Life is a fast paced experience for most people with our 24/7 lifestyles. Many of us are guilty of relaxing on the sofa for our evening downtime with one hand on the remote control and the other on our mobiles refreshing our inbox or checking Facebook. Those of us that are employed are working way over our contracted hours, lunch hours on the go and a constant juggling act with home life and work. I work from home but feel like I have to find my inner Derren Brown to balance my week of school runs, kids activities, dogs demands and other things that get thrust into the daily chaos. Our fast paced existence can mean that we miss out on the finer things in life; the appreciation of what we have, noticing the simpler things and relishing the pleasurable things in life. I took my daughter on a nature day today at our local country park, we had a group of very enthusiastic ramblers who were ‘in charge’ of the activities. They were intent on opening up the children’s eyes to all things nature by encouraging us to collect nature’s materials to make a scary Halloween artwork. So we decided on a spider, arranged our leaves and twigs to create a sculpture that Tracey Emin would be proud of and despite Rambler helper pointing out that spiders don’t have red eyes, the kids were massively enthused by the activity.

It is my third nature activity this half term in my bid to ‘get the children out in the fresh air for an educational experience’ and even though we are starting to sprout webbed feet from the constant damp conditions, I feel good that we are taking part in something worthwhile. Every day of the half term I have crammed full of ‘experiences’ and play dates until my Mum pointed out that ‘I could just stay home with my children as that is what I used to do with you and your brother.’ Good idea I said, ‘I’ll buy some paints and glueing stuff to make art installations or bake cakes?’, she wearily shook her head explaining, ‘you can do simple things like read books, play board games or just cuddle up and watch a film?’. Hmmmm that sounds far too relaxing and easy, must cram something else stressful into my day surely?

But no matter how you try to slow life down it never seems to feel that way. And apart from whingeing to my nearest and dearest, the rest of the time I will happily paste on my air hostess smile to anyone else who asks how things are, replying with a bright and breezy ‘great thanks’, even though inside I am secretly Ebenezer Scrooge grumbling incoherently under my breath. I am definitely no stranger to tiredness and I think this is the reason behind the expert moaning me and my friends enjoy as our extra curricular activity. Parenting is a great introduction to exhaustion, I didn’t sleep a full night for the first 5 years of my daughter’s life, I spent many days with the dull ache headache of exhaustion, feeling a little bit sick, a fit of tears minutes away, unable to have intelligible conversation, eating too much chocolate and barely capable of keeping up with the storylines of Scooby Doo.

Life is definitely easier now I’m off the baby Groundhog Days, I loved the nurturing years and wouldn’t have missed raising my little ones for anything but there is that point when they start school for you to return home that first day, look in the mirror and think ‘Christ!’ at the gaunt mad haired woman looking back at you. I adore my children, appreciate my husbands long hours at financing our lifestyle but find myself in part-time writer, part-time child-rearer, part-time domestic goddess and still feeling a little bit in part-time limbo land. My friends and I used to discuss films, politics, new bars and restaurants, recent clothes purchases and weekend plans. Our main topic of conversation now is whinge whinge, feel tired, what is my role now? What diet are you on? What vitamins are you on? Shall I take Probiotics? So when we’re not moaning we are quite often taking part in another hobby of ours, worrying. Worrying about our children’s ability at school, their daily consumption of fruit and veg, their friendship groups. Or we worry about our relationships, money, post-babies figures and our current favourite topic; our future health and future beauty regime, discussing how many wrinkles or grey hairs we are sprouting, what ailments are starting to take hold of us. I doubt very much that James Bond worries about his daily alcohol units when swigging his martinis in the afternoon. What we need to do is stop worrying, stop moaning and appreciate what we have. Me and my friends moan a lot but we do occasionally remember to make each other laugh in our stupid shared sense of humours, to still talk about ambitions we still have and to know that there is someone always less fortunate than ourselves. For sometimes the only way to move forward past the blues is to slap on that mad grin and remember how lucky we really are.