healthy, life

My breast cancer scare

I’ve gone back and forth on writing this, it’s a thing I want to share because it’s important but also it’s a period of time that I found very stressful and a bit scary, which is hard to write about.

Last year in the midst of wedding planning and a period of increased medical stress (thanks chronic illness) I found a lump in my left armpit, right next to my boob.

After worrying about it all weekend I rang the GP and after explaining to the arsey receptionist why I was calling for an on-the-day appointment, I got one immediately. Funny that.

My now husband was on annual leave so he drove me to the surgery, which was a big support as I was extremely anxious about the lump. My anxiety disorder can be triggered and added to when it comes to health issues so I was a bit of a walking disaster. Luckily I didn’t have to sit in the waiting room too long worrying and I saw a female GP (most surgeries will let you request a woman doctor, I didn’t specifically but it does made it a little more comfortable).

The exam required me to take off my top and bra, which I expected, and the doctor carried out a visual check and then a manual one. It wasn’t remotely embarrassing as she was very straightforward and put me at my ease. Once I was re-dressed we had a chat about her opinion and the next steps.

She said that she didn’t think it was a tumour but wanted it scanned at the breast clinic just in case. She explained that doctors are told to think the texture of a tumourous lump is the difference between the collagen of your nose (somewhat soft) and your skull (very hard) when pressed. Which is a useful tip for when checking your breasts. Although I highly recommend getting any and all strange lumps and other changes checked, just in case.

I was referred to the breast clinic at my local hospital to be seen by a specialist and have an ultrasound scan to see what was going on.

The clinic was on a Sunday, in a mostly deserted section of the hospital mainly used for various daily clinics, which was slightly creepy; walking through the empty corridors looking for the area reserved for this particular clinic.

There were a few women sat in the waiting area, all ages and races, because cancer doesn’t discriminate. The doctor carried out a similar exam as the GP and sent me off to the ultrasound department (I wish I’d downloaded a step counter just for this appointment as I walked the length of the hospital and back).

The nurse in the ultrasound room was really nice, explaining how to lie comfortably on the scanning bench with my arm tucked under my head. She draped a piece of blue tissue over my chest to preserve some modesty (although by this point several doctors had seen my breasts and I really wasn’t bothered). The doctor came in and carried out the scan then told me to wipe off the gel and get dressed. I walked back through the hospital to the breast clinic and get the results.

Thankfully it was all clear, the doctor thought the lump was more likely to be a swollen lymph node, which happens every now and then and goes away by itself. She told me I’d done the right thing in getting it checked out as it’s better to do and so and it be nothing, than leave it and find out too late that it’s something to worry about.

So ladies (and gents, and people who don’t identify as either) please check your breast tissue (and testicles if that’s relevant), go to your cervical screening or prostate exam. Look after your body, get to know it and recognise when things are wrong.

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life, mindfulness, netflix, thoughts

To Kondo or not to Kondo, that is the question…

I haven’t read her book or seen the Netflix show, and to be honest I probably won’t, mostly because the thought of watching someone sort through their crap just isn’t my thing.

I hate cleaning; don’t get me wrong I can hoover, dust, scrub and mop like a regular little Cinderella but I don’t enjoy doing it. I also hate sorting through my stuff.

I’m a bit of a pack rat, I own a lot of stuff and I know that. But sorting through it stresses me out. My anxiety ridden brain can’t cope with decisions like to throw or to keep.

I have form for making mistakes. I had the perfect denim jacket once, till I donated it with a load of other stuff to Oxfam. Bye bye excellent jacket.

A load of books was accidentally donated while my bedroom was being decorated. They got mixed in with some others and by the time I realised, it was too late.

I am the queen of donation regret, of selling on eBay remorse. Just this week I rescued a hoodie and a skirt from the donation bag at home because it occurred to me that I could put together a cute outfit with those bits.

I understand Marie Kondo’s ethos – the whole sparking joy concept. I even think people totally overreacted to get comments about books (she wasn’t saying you have to get rid of them fyi). I’m even envious of the clever t-shirt folding trick as it looks super neat and tidy, the way I’m not.

My flat could undoubtedly do with a de-clutter, a thorough tidy up, but I don’t trust myself with it all. I get super emotionally attached to objects, and I can’t throw things away.

I’m not a hoarder, although both C and I are definitely holding onto a lot of stuff we could probably live without. I’m donating some bits and pieces this weekend that I culled from my wardrobe when I swapped my summer clothes to winter (several months ago but I have to let things sit so I don’t get all regretful).

I eye up the boxes I haven’t opened since I moved in and think I really should, after 6 years, have a look at what’s in there, but later, after I finish my book.

My dad has gotten into the habit of just chucking everything in a skip and not caring, my mum saves things in hidey holes so he can’t throw away our family photo albums (a thing that he almost did once). Their standoff on what he calls “junk” has been going for at least my entire lifetime.

I’ve got better about certain things – books I can’t imagine re-reading are released into the wild via friends, family and charity shops. But even then I have form for going “Oh crap, I should have kept that book!”

C doesn’t help, he has tonnes of old Warhammer and it takes him about a year to get rid of bits of it. Whenever he does he’s like a puppy wanting his head patted. I wouldn’t mind but he buys new miniatures all the time so I don’t think it evens out.

We don’t have a big flat, and we’re a little squashed in with all the things we can’t quite say goodbye to yet.

If you need me, I’ll be buried under the overloaded bookcase. It’s the way I want to go.

instagram, life, mental health

#10YearChallenge or Not

You may have seen all the 2009 vs 2019 photos on social media, you may have even posted your own photo comparison, and for the most part they’re great fun, seeing the changes 10 years have wrought. However there is a darker side to this trend.

Dr Melissa Fabello,who writes abour such interesting things as the intersection of sexuality and eating disorders, posted on her stories why she wouldn’t be sharing her 2009 photos. In 2009 she was struggling with an eating disorder herself and in a dark place. Comparing her self was not a funny topic, but a painful one.

I understand that all too well. In 2009 I was struggling with my own demons. A year before I had graduated from university with a solid 2:1 into a financial collapse. Suddenly all the great graduate jobs were gone, companies were not hiring and the industries I was interested in had closed their doors (some would not survive this).

I was pretty miserable, the depression I have struggled with pretty much all my life was reading its ugly head and I was at a loose end. I still worked intermittently for the local council’s Children & Young People’s team; but that too would end as budgets were cut.

My mum, who may actually know me better than I know myself, seeing how lost I was told me to apply for a course. I studied to become a TEFL teacher – something I’ve not exactly made use of. It was an incredibly tough, emotionally draining course. But it had me using my brain, had me reading and writing essays. I really enjoyed it.

I have an analytical mind that also has an anxiety disorder. This is not a good mix – I know this now. 2009 was a year I had to get through. 2010 was better. I got a job I would have for the next 5 years, met one of my best friends and the man who is now my husband.

I won’t be sharing my 2009 vs 2019 photos (mostly because there aren’t any) because who I was then and who I am now aren’t hugely different but they’re different enough that the comparison isn’t worth making.

jewellery, life

I still want Bernard’s Watch!*

But doesn’t every 90s kid? The power to stop time would be incredible. I’d certainly get more done. Although I remember Bernard being quite annoying.

I don’t wear a watch in my day to day, mostly because there are clocks in every room but I have noticed that I’ve started to get annoyed having to scrabble around in my bag for my phone whenever I want to know the time.

I used to wear a watch every day, I’ve been through several over the years, from the pinchy banded one my mum gave me aged 10, through a succession of cheap fast fashion ones that broke or fell apart to a sporty waterproof one from the Science Museum (I think I lost that one). I bought a rather nice rose gold one from ASOS, but I don’t think it’s even been on my wrist and I’m not entirely sure where it’s ended up.

The tiny mechanism inside a watch is fascinating

A few months ago I married a man with a penchant for pocket watches, like someone from the 1900s, he loves nothing more that to clip one of the five or six he owns to his clothes. He even gave his best men personalised ones as thank you gifts. On our wedding day he wore his Grandad’s one and his Grandpa’s cuff links, to show that even though they’re no longer here, they’re here.

Watches can be potent memories, my dad had his grandfather’s gold watch, until it was stolen in a burglary. I curse the thieves, may they never have enough time!

I remember the heavy chunky watch my dad wore in his corporate life, he’d take it off after coming home and put it on the arm of the chair. I liked slipping my much smaller wrist in and feeling the heavy links of the band against my arm. It was a reassuring thing, as long as the watch was there my dad was home with us. He travelled a lot for work and the watch being gone meant he was too.

The only person I can think of that still wears one every day is my mum, she’s worn the same one for years, although both the band and the batteries have been replaced several times. Maybe she should get a new one for Christmas?

There’s something quite satisfying about wearing a watch, sometjing that says “I am in control”. Which I never am.

There was a little girl playing with her brother in the park the other day, she had a kids plastic watch on, and was telling her brother quite loudly that it was home time, showing him her watch. Now that is the kind of watch I need, home time, tea time, nap time.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any watches like that here but I did spot lots of bargains if you were planning on treating yourself or someone else to some new arm candy. This site collects all the best bargains and even gives you tips on how to decide which watch suits you best.

*this post contains gifted or sponsored content but all words and opinions are my own.

healthy, life, skincare

Stay Cool Kids

The sizzle of sunburn is not something I enjoy so I am very grateful for Past Me who stocked up on suncream. Here’s my top tips for keeping your complexion healthy and avoiding lobster doom whether you’re going abroad or staying home.  

­čî╗Use suncream every day and top it up regularly, especially if you’re outside during the day. 

­čî╗Drink lots of water, you get dehydrated quickly in the summer and being taken to hospital and put on a drip can really wreck your holiday. Buy a water bottle and carry it with you – pop it in the fridge before you go out to keep it cool. 

­čî╗Moisturise! Your skin gets thirsty too and needs love. 

­čî╗Stay out of the midday sun – the hottest part of the day is the worst. 

­čî╗Eat delicious water filled nutrients in watermelon, cucumber, and other fruits. Ideally eat things in season as they taste better. 

­čî╗Don’t forget our furry pals – they can’t take off their fluffy jackets so make sure they have plenty of water, add an ice cube or two to help them stay cool. 

­čî╗Stop sleeping under your winter duvet! If you need covers a light blanket or spare sheet instead so you don’t get too hot at night. 

­čî╗Open the windows when you get home. Air out your home and cool it down. If you can, open your doors as well. 

­čî╗Water your plants. Use water left in your kettle or water bottles rather than pour it away. If you have a garden get a water butt – they’re inexpensive and will save on your water bills, as long as it rains. 

­čî╗Most importantly have fun! 

blogging, life, upcoming, updates

Where did all the make up go? 

You may have noticed if you’re a regular reader that my blog’s focus has shifted slightly. There’s been a lot going on in my personal life and with my health that has taken my energy and focus. 

I haven’t been working so I haven’t been wearing much make up – although my skin care game is still strong, so I haven’t been writing about that. I also haven’t been subscribing to many beauty boxes as I need to actually use up my stash and save some money. 

However I’m hoping to share my skincare regime, faves and problem products as well as perhaps my great love of glitter soon. So stay tuned. 

If there’s anything you’d like to see here – recipes, rats, books etc just let me know. And if you’re a PR, writer or brand and want to work together, I’m friendly, promise. 

Don’t forget you can find me on TwitterInstagram, Bloglovin or drop me an email. 

adventures, life

Adventures in Catsitting

For the last couple of months I’ve been catsitting for my neighbour, who’s been in hospital. Every day I pop in and check on her lovely kitty and make sure she has everything she needs. Then we have a cuddle and a fuss. It’s rather lovely. 

I’ve also looked after my pal Douglas (who pops up from time to time on my Instagram feed) since he was a kitten. 

As someone who’s a bit allergic to cats but loves them this is an absolute treat. So I’ve decided to do this as a side gig and get to tell more kitties that they’re gorgeous babies. 

If you live in London and need someone to come in and check on your cats while you’re away, you can book me to look after your precious babies (and water your plants) then click this link and drop me a message. 

food, healthy, life, lifestyle

Milk alternatives for the lactose intolerant 

I can’t digest lactose – found in cow’s milk, properly. It causes havoc with my gut and makes me quite unwell. Overshare warning – I’m talking non-stop diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting. Also hives and a super sexy all over rash have featured. 

Now, I always say that life’s too short to never eat cheese or chocolate but I have to be very sensible. The mac and cheese I made last week was delicious but it had me in agony all night. Too much dairy. 

Lactose is a protein in milk – most people digest it pretty happily. It’s not found in sheep or goat’s milk fyi – but they tend to be much more expensive as you get less per animal. Though goat’s cheese is delicious. 

I have tried dozens of milk alternatives over the years – from soy milk to oat milk and most nut milks. 

Hazelnut milk is like drinking a milkshake – sweet and creamy, I drink this on its own. 

Almond milk is my preferred alternative – doesn’t have too strong a flavour, copes well in hot drinks, cereal, porridge, makes good smoothies and shakes. 

Coconut milk – I cook with this, bake with it, it goes pretty well in most dishes with lots of flavour – curries, casseroles, mac and cheese, cake. I also use coconut oil in baking. 

Cashew milk – this was very expensive (cashew nuts are pretty pricey) and was lumpy. No thanks. Shame as it didn’t taste too bad but I’m not straining pre-made nut milk every morning. 

Soy milk – my mum swears by this but I honestly can’t get along with it. To me it’s basically coloured water – no flavour, no creaminess like nut milk. 

Oat milk – I was really curious about this, would it be liquefied porridge? I bought a carton when it was on offer (free from being the most expensive thing out there apart from maybe caviar), and was utterly disappointed. It went all funny in my hot chocolate and made my cereal taste a bit odd. I know there are different varieties (mostly made by one company) including one designed specifically for hot drinks, but I want to be able to buy one milk for everything.  

Milk itself is a deeply weird thing – we don’t all keep drinking breast milk as we get older and cows milk is essentially breast milk for baby cows. Cows are kept in a perpetual pregnant/feeding loop to produce milk – no wonder they always look grumpy, and their babies are taken away from them. 

I’m not vegan, or even a very good vegetarian (sorry Mum) but milk is one of the things I find a bit weird. Who discovered you could drink it? Turn it into food stuffs (cheese, chocolate, yoghurt, ice cream, cream, custard etc etc). Who is that person?

adventures, fun stuff, life

My BorrowMyDoggy experience

At the beginning of the year I signed up to BorrowMyDoggy – a service designed to connect dog owners with dog lovers who can’t have their own canine chum. 

Our flat is too small, we are both out all day and we don’t have a garden so having a dog is currently out of the question. 

I took advantage of a special offer on the price of the membership, otherwise it might be a bit pricey for some. 

I created a profile and messaged a few local dog owners (it gives you an approximate location) but nothing happened. 

A few weeks ago I got a reply from a lady who lives across the dual carriageway from me (about 10 minutes walk) – how lucky was that! 

I met Flick and her human, Susan, and we had a chat and a cuddle (Flick) and now Flick and I go to the park a few times a week for a walk and a play. For an older dog she’s very keen on running around the park and exploring the messages left my other dogs.

She’s a smart pup who goes into school to hear children read and help them build their confidence so she’s super friendly and gentle. Hopefully soon she’ll be coming over for a picnic and a sleepover. 

I’ve really enjoyed using the service so far and will be seeing if I can make any more doggy friends, they are great fun and mean I get outside for some fresh air and exercise, plus science says stroking an animal lowers your blood pressure and can help boost your mental wellbeing. 

The ratties don’t seem too bothered by the slight smell of dog on me after my park outings with Flick luckily. 

My pal Flick

How about you? Anyone used BorrowMyDoggy? What did you think? 

books, fun stuff, life

At the library 

I have always been a member of at least one library or another – at one point 4 (local library near my parents, British Library, uni library and the library I currently use). 

Libraries are wonderful places, offering community services and access to the internet all for free. All you need is a library card. 

Recently my local libraries have gone all high tech – and reduced librarians to computerised check out and card entry doors. I’m not sure I’m a fan. 

Today I returned 2 books (historical crime fiction) and took out 4. Two graphic novels, the reading group book (decided to join it for a bit) and another historical crime novel. 

I also checked out the Cityread London program – but the book in question was checked out! 

Libraries are for everyone – whatever age, race, identity, language you speak, the library is for you too.