Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Changes are afoot

Days like today are described as "changeable" by weather forecasters. Blustery winds and scudding clouds one minute, then blue skies and piercing sun the next, rapidly followed by drizzle and so it goes on all day.

I've been feeling "changeable" recently. Overwhelmingly I feel distracted.
There is something that I was going to consider, google, or do.
I just can't quite put my finger on what it was.
It is preventing me from getting anything done.
Nor can I relax.

So, here we are. It is time to sit down, sift through my thoughts, and get a grip...

A month ago I had an operation to remove my ovaries.
  • The purpose of the surgery was cancer risk reduction, and I feel great that I've finally taken that step. Phew
  • On the other hand I'm still waiting to find out whether there were any signs of cancer in the removed tissue. En garde.

I've been waiting for the menopausal symptoms to kick in. As yet I haven't had anything obvious like a hot flush.
  • I spoke with my GP a couple of days ago, and he was of the opinion that surgical menopause symptoms hit fast, so if they haven't arrived yet then I may not get get any. Whoopee
  • Though I wonder whether perhaps hormone changes are causing my unsettled mind? Pooh.

Changes are afoot at work. There's a project coming up soon that will absorb quite a bit of my time, resulting in a temporary increase in daytime hours, and reduction in evening hours. Overall my hours will go up for a month or two.
  • On the one hand I'm looking forward to a boost in my take home pay. Yum yum
  • Conversely I'll have less free time and more stress. Hum ho

Beyond the project phase there is likely to be a new role opening up which my manager would like me to take. It will mean dropping the evening & weekend role, and doing daytime hours. The total hours will be about the same. The role I'd be dropping is term-time only, whereas the new role is all year round.
  • I'll earn more with a steady year round income and it will be easier to manage. Yipee.
  • I'll miss my lazy summers. Boo.  
  • Daytime parking would be either more hassle or more expensive. Pah.
  • I'll get my evenings and weekends back. Meh.
  • I won't be able to potter in the garden during the day. Humbug.
  • Visiting dad and walking the dogs will need to be finished in time to get to work. Oh.
  • The work will be more interesting. Hmmm.
  • There may be more stress. Errr.
  • I'm not sure if I'll have more or less job & pay security. Sheesh.

Why am I surprised that I'm distracted?

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The BRCA1 prize in the genetics lottery

My mother had the BRCA1 gene, and as I'd had a breast cancer diagnosis at the tender age of 28 (and a second at 35), I assumed that I'd inherited the gene.

In order to have regular MRI's or risk reduction surgery on the NHS it seems you have to get tested, so earlier this year I attended the genetics clinic and gave a blood sample. The results came through a little while ago confirming that yes I did indeed win the BRCA1 prize in the genetics lottery. Woo hoo. Go me.

As a result, when I went to hospital in early December to get a polyp removed from my womb, the lovely consultant who did the pre-op rounds offered me a bogof (buy one, get one free) deal I couldn't refuse. She could, she explained, (as they'd had a cancellation) remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes while I was under general anaesthetic in addition to the pre-arranged the polyp removal. This was an operation I'd been putting off for some years, but I knew it ought to be done, so I gracefully accepted the consultant's kind offer.

On the plus side I only had 2 hours to worry about having the op. Unfortunately this was just enough time to google "laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy" and read about the various recovery experiences of ladies who'd been through the procedure. I say "unfortunately" because what I read wasn't particularly upbeat stuff - there were ladies who'd had a rough time recovering from the op.

I'm glad to say that my own experience was pretty good. The operation went as planned, and once I returned to the ward from the recovery room I was up and pottering about within an hour. Looking back, I think being mobile made my recovery much easier. For keyhole surgery they pump gas into your abdomen to give themselves some room to manoeuvre. From what I've read it is the remaining gas that causes most of the misery associated with this op, and from my own experience I think movement was key to getting the gas to go. 
  
The other major problem with this op, if you are pre-menopausal when you have it, is that you crash immediately into the menopause. To bridge the hormone gap I started taking Tibolone, which is a kind of HRT. The jury is still undecided about HRT and BRCA1, so I wasn't planning on taking it for long - just for a couple of months to get me over the hump. 

Once again, I did plenty of reading, and discovered that HRT isn't as effective for pre-menopausal ladies who have their ovaries removed as it is for ladies who are going through the menopause naturally. The natural menopause is a drawn out process, which starts long before menstruation stops, with a gradual decline in hormone levels during what is known as the peri-menopause. HRT is calibrated to match the lower hormone levels of peri-menopausal women, so it doesn't even come close to the levels usually found in pre-menopausal ladies. From the research I looked at, it seems as though I could only expect a 30% reduction in hot flushes by taking HRT.

This didn't seem like much of a payoff given the question mark over the safety of HRT for BRCA1 carriers. So after about 18 days I stopped taking the Tibolone.

Yet here is the strange thing - four weeks on from the surgery, and a week since my last HRT tablet - I've not yet had a hot flush. In fact I haven't had a single symptom from the menopause menu. 

I suppose the key word is "yet". Who knows what joys tomorrow will bring?

Stay tuned.

Monday, 2 January 2017

The inescapable grim reaper

The 2016 tally of icons who've kicked the bucket is a sobering matter for the world's baby boomers. This massive post-war generation (born between 1946 and 1964) are being forced to acknowledge their own mortality as their generation's heroes and legends fall victim to the inescapable grim reaper.

As the boomers come to the top of their life expectancy bell curve we'll see increasing numbers of their generation pass to the other side, and largely they'll be privately mourned by their friends and families.

News headlines have always included a spattering of obituaries, but the baby boomers were the first to have the kind of disposable income sufficient to catapult thousands to global stardom.  It may feel like the superstar apocalypse (2016 was just the beginning) but what we're about to witness is a graphic demonstration of demographics.

Friday, 28 October 2016

All Prepped for All Hallows'

Pumpkin flaying has been marvelous fun this year...

Monday, 10 October 2016

In the midst of misery

The local library hosts an "Open Mic" to tempt us to come along and share our work.

I've written stuff and I'm sure I could read some of it, out loud in front of folks, if I put my mind to it.

Looking back at the blog for candidates I spot a clear correlation between creativity and sadness. Some of the most hauntingly beautiful things I've written were crafted in the midst of misery. Suffer the rain to appreciate the sun, the trope of the tormented artist.

There's too much sun in my current disposition, creating arid times for inspiration. Yet would I wish for a forecast of rain, so that I might be more fertile in my imaginings? I think not.

This Mental Health Day, don't suffer alone. #Itstimetotalk

Laying down reserves, 4 May 2010
The odd sock that disappears, 10 May 2010
Fettered, 26 May 2010
Retreat, 23 June 2010
A blink reveals, 16 November 2010
Crank the orrery on, 21 December 2010
Folly laid bare, 24 January 2011
Premonition of incipient nostalgia, 21 June 2011
Histrionics fade to history, 3 June 2012
The rainbow race, 4 July 2012

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Google bait

When I recently mentioned to a friend that I'd resumed blogging he asked me what I was doing to promote the blog. Nothing, I said, I was really just writing it for writing's sake, and I didn't think blogging was particularly fashionable in these days of the twitter ascendancy.

We then had a little discussion about popular blogs - I said the trick was to write something that other people were interested in, hence the successful blogs out there on the subject of weddings, interior design, etc.

I tend to write about what is happening in my mental space, or about things that interest me. Just very occasionally something that interests me happens to be interesting to other people too.

One of my most popular blog entries to date is Stretch Yawn Faint, it is also (at the time of writing) the top google result for that three word search. Apparently "orthostatic hypotension" is a relatively un-discussed side effect of humans being big stretchy blobs of flesh.

So obviously one trick to having a successful blog is to write about the commonly experienced but under-discussed stuff that people google, but how would you identify these google-bait topics?

LMGTFY or "Let Me Google That for You" is a great website which has also has a live stream feature which shows you in real time what people are typing into LMGTFY. Be warned however, for it turns out that some people have rather unsavoury questions for google.

Another google-bait source is google itself with their trending visualisation which is sanitised and pretty cool looking. Sadly it seems that the trending topics are predominantly football or celebrity centric. I suppose that 4.45am on a Sunday morning probably isn't peak googling time, but the trending topics seem seriously banal.

I'm going to carry on blogging about bits that mean something to me, so if you're looking for 20 things you didn't know about Manchester United (and number 16 really surprised me) then let me introduce you to LMGTFY...