Monday, July 14, 2014
... he makes an excellent point.
He has been going through a tough time with his poor Mum being so ill, but his ten-minute exercise streaks have kept him going, even though he has had to start over several times this year.
I feel the same way about my Mile with Leslie Sansone streak (currently day 254). I've been luckier than Spark Guy, in that I haven't missed a day since I started on my 50th birthday, because even on my worst days I've managed a mile, which can be anything from 12 minutes to 20 or so, depending on warm-ups, cool downs and stretches.
Some days I've scraped one mile and been pleased to manage that much, because it was quite an achievement, given my state of health at times. Other days have seen me manage up to 5 miles, or I've included other exercise, such as using the Wii, walking into town, and gardening.
The point is, that as long as you have a personal baseline goal that you can manage reasonably easily, that is not unrealistic given your current state of fitness, you are far less likely to fail, and if you do have a stumble, for whatever reason, it isn't such a difficult thing to get back up and start again.
One other thing you notice over time is that, even with the odd blip, your streak days when added together far outnumber the days you couldn't manage to stay on track.
You don't fail on an off-day as long as you get back up and start again.
Sunday, July 06, 2014
Writing about your fears can be cathartic, so I'm told.
So here goes...
Dental Phobics may want to skip this blog.
Well, I still feel rather like Joe Bugner landed an uppercut on my lower right jawline. My mouth aches - is throbbing, actually - and I still have a doozy of a headache, but all in all I'm feeling reasonably human again. Got my mile with Leslie in this morning without feeling like I was going to pass out.
Having a dental phobia is something I've struggled with most of my life, ever since a horrible experience as a child left me absolutely terrified of dentists.
I was only about 7 years old, and we had recently had a mobile dental unit visit the primary school and we all got check-ups. What no-one bothered to tell me was that I needed fillings. Instead, one morning at school my name was read out in assembly with a couple of other kids. We were led out to a big black car and driven away from the school.
Once we arrived at the dental surgery, we were separated and I was taken into a room where I had to sit in the dentist chair, and without any warning the dentist came at me with a needle!
Well, I did what any self-respecting kid would do in the circumstances - I screamed and tried to get away! From my point of view, you see, all I knew was that I had been taken away by total strangers, and driven to a strange place where other strangers were trying to hurt me! In the end they pinned me into the chair to do the work on me, while I struggled and screamed and cried.
When we got back to the school I got told off for being naughty, and when I got back to the foster carers at the end of the school day I was beaten by the woman foster carer for embarrassing her!
I was in such a state of shock after all that my reaction was to avoid anything related to dentists, and that included toothbrushes and toothpaste. We had this dreadful tooth powder to use which was disgusting, so when I did decide to clean my teeth it was just with water.
Well,by the time I was 20 my teeth were really bad, so much so that my best friend could see I was in a lot of pain. I was eating painkillers like sweets to try and keep it under control but they really weren't working anymore and I was having trouble sleeping because they hurt so much. So she took me to her dentist, saying that he was really lovely and would understand about my phobia. And he was. He looked but did not touch, and explained to me that I that I was facing months of dental work. He said that some of my teeth could be saved, but many would have to be pulled and replaced. He would be willing to do the work, but it would mean weekly visits for several months. My other choice was going to hospital and having them all removed and having full dentures fitted.
I told the dentist, quite truthfully, that if I did agree to having the work done, that chances were - nice as he was - I wouldn't turn up for the next appointment, so he referred me to the hospital. I met a consultant there who told me I had a choice of local or general anaesthetic for the operation, and I told him it would be best if he knocked me out! The only problem was that there was a long waiting list, so my Dad very kindly paid for me to go private for the op, and that meant I got it done quickly, and in comfortable surroundings, in a private room. I didn't have time to chicken out, and when I woke up it was all over.
A few months later I had a set of dentures fitted, and I never looked back. Or darkened a dentist's door again.
Well, apart from once...
I did have a new set of dentures made while I was pregnant with Tara, about 18 years ago, because I was advised to by my doctor, and my hubby at the time was also dental-phobic, so was very supportive while I had the appointments. I got the new set, but they weren't very comfortable, and I was breaking them in by wearing them part of the time to start with. Unfortunately, a short time later we moved house and the box with all the bathroom stuff - including my new dentures - disappeared, so that was that!
So I stuck with the same set for 30 years.
This is apparently some kind of record.
You see, no one told me that you should get new sets every few years, and these were fine, I was used to them, so I was happy.
But a few months ago my jaw started to pain me, and on occassion it hurt enough to prevent me from eating, so off to the dentist I had to go.
I only wanted new dentures, but the dentist looked at the area where I though my gum had split and said I needed to see someone about getting the area cut away to make a new set fit better, so naively, I headed to the appointment at the hospital Oral Surgery department, not in the slightest bit aware that the split gum wasn't actually split gum but was actually a growth!
Unfortunately, the first thing that the Consultant asked was, “Do you know why you are here?” I nodded at her, and her next sentence, after asking me to take out my lower set and looking in my mouth was, “Yes, that might be cancer.”
Not the kind of comment you need to hear out of the blue.
She sent me for an x-ray, and when I came back from that she had another look and then said I would need a biopsy. I told her that the dentist never mentioned anything about cancer or biopsies. being necessary and that I thought all I had was a split gum that needed trimming up so my new dentures would fit better.
The Consultant said there was no way I could have new dentures while I had the growth, and that I couldn't even wear my lower set anymore. She said that if I still wanted a lower set after the growth was removed I'd have to go to a dental hospital and have screws put into my mouth to hold a new set. So, as I wouldn't be needing my teeth any more she would keep them! I said, “I'm sorry, what? What do you mean, you are keeping my lower denture? My dentist was talking about using them as a template for making me a new set.”
She explained that I can't wear them anymore because they are rubbing on the growth, that they would be no use as a template, so I didn't need them and she was keeping them to prevent me from being tempted to put them back in.
Well, that just turned me from scared to annoyed. I demanded them back, telling her that she was treating me like a child, that it was my mouth and my choice, and I wanted them back.
She stared at me for a moment, and then slowly wrapped them in her glove and passed them across to me. She explained that she usually takes them away because people who keep them don't do as she says and when they come back to her and she asks if they wore them, they say things like, 'only for eating', or 'only when we had company coming', or 'only when I was at work'. She further explained that the growth might shrink if it isn't being rubbed by the denture, which is important to know about.
So I popped my lower set in my purse, and said to her, “Well, when I say I won't do something, I don't do it!”
Then I left.
I was so upset and angry that I didn't want to see her again. It had been a traumatic visit, that hadn't been helped by the fact that I had started off at the wrong hospital. I had been told the Oral Surgery department was moving to the other hospital in Colchester, but thought they'd already moved, so turned up at the wrong outpatients, thinking I was early, but by the time I got to the right hospital I was really late for the appointment.
I was so upset by the time I left the hospital that I knew only a long walk would calm me down, so, rather than get a taxi I headed into town. As I reached the High Street I realised I hadn't actually agreed not to wear the dentures any more, so I got them out and popped them back in my mouth, my reasoning being that I wasn't committing to any more work until I saw my dentist, plus the dinner I had planned was not going to be edible without teeth. There was also a number of meals in the fridge and freezer needing to be used up if I wasn't going to be able to eat properly for a few months, so I'd remove the lower denture once all that was done. I can't afford to throw away good food.
OK, so there was an element of rather childish “Yah, boo, sucks to you, and a thumb on the nose and wiggly fingers” to the Consultant as well. But, can you blame me? I think Seven-year-old Me finally felt a bit of control in her life for a moment.
So I went back to my dentist a week later, and had a good cry about it all. She was suitably angry that I'd been treated badly, given my phobia, so she contacted the hospital for me and told them how traumatised I was about everything.
She calmed me down and persuaded me to at least go for the biopsy, and we could discuss the next steps afterwards. I wanted to wait until my older daughter could get up here to be with me, but they wanted me in as quickly as possible – further freaking me out, because that suggested they were pretty sure it was cancer, and I didn't want to face that alone.
I had a couple of people possibly lined up to go with me – mostly to make sure that I actually went! I know myself well enough to know that without someone to drag me there, there was a good chance I would chicken out. However, with three days to go, both of them had to back out. One couldn't get time off work and the other had a job interview. So that was that. I was on my own.
But, you know what? For some reason, the doom and gloom fog lifted at that point, and I realised that, actually, going alone was better.
Firstly, I wouldn't have to worry about making a fool of myself by crying in front of someone I'd be embarrassed to be like that in front of. I'm not good at coping with that, and at least if I cried in front of the Consultant, she would know how scared I was. Plus it would give her a chance to redeem herself after our first meeting, and if she wasn't understanding I could leave and ask for a different consultant.
Second, I would keep telling myself that it is OK to be scared! I could take the whole experience one step at a time, and I had the right to say “STOP!” at any point, to collect myself, and explain if I was scared what the problem was.
Third, I could walk to the appointment through Castle Park, and walking has a pleasant added benefit outside of getting exercise and being in Nature. It has a calming effect on me when I am stressed. If I was going with someone else I'd be going in a car, which wouldn't give me that calming relaxation time.
Finally, I read the booklet called Panic that my Health in Mind therapist had sent me to see if there were any ideas in that which would help. I practiced my slow breathing, and wrote out a coping strategy.
That was the tricky thing, actually. My usual coping strategy wasn't going to work in this case. You see, and this might surprise you, knowing what a shy, retiring quiet soul I am.
When I am nervous... I talk!
It is my default strategy. When, for instance, I have to have a blood test, as soon as I am seated I turn my head away and talk randomly about whatever comes into my head while the nurse does her thing. Jabber, jabber, jabber until she says, “Press on that.” and I turn to see the little white lump of cotton wool over the little prick in my arm, signifying that it is all over.
It works a treat!
However... it could be a bit tricky to do that during a mouth biopsy.
I had a feeling that the Consultant would object to my mouth not staying still while she operated, and there was a possibility of coming out minus half my tongue if I didn't keep quiet, which would have seriously affected my 'coping by talking' strategy in the future!
My plan, therefore, was to ask her assistant to talk to me instead, about anything she liked, as long as she kept talking until it was all over.
I also started thinking about singing songs in my head, and playing through comedy scenarios. Then I remembered one of my favourite episodes of Frasier – Ham Radio – where he decides to recreate an old drama series to celebrate KACL's anniversary. He rewrites the very first play aired - Nightmare Inn - and ropes everyone in to play the various roles.
The classic line relative to my situation comes from poor Roz, who unfortunately had been to a dentist a couple of hours before the live broadcast, but the novocaine she was given hasn't worn off, so she can't properly say, “I can't believe one of my guests is a multiple murderer”. Of course, the whole thing descends into chaos, and I still roar with laughter every time I watch Bulldog getting stage fright, and his girlfriend, who only has six words, but is dyslexic, saying, “Look out! He's got a nug!”
The final bit that creases me up, though, is when Niles, who has had no less than six roles thrust upon him at the last minute, gets sick of Frasier's heavy-handed directing and kills off the entire cast by popping balloons and having the McAllister twins stand back to back because, and I quote: “I'm a bit short on bullets”.
The last thing I did the night before the biopsy was watch that episode. Seemed like a good strategy at the time. It did send me to bed with the giggles, which definitely helped.
The day arrived and everything went according to plan to begin with. I got up bright and early to make sure I got my mile in with Leslie because I didn't want to let the biopsy force me to break my streak. They said in the literature that arrived with the appointment letter that I couldn't do strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours after the op, so I figured a mile on Friday, followed by the fifty minute walk to the hospital would keep me going until the Saturday evening, and I'd do my Saturday mile then – being careful not to fling myself about too much. Leslie's Gentle Mile is ideal when you are feeling a bit delicate.
I was feeling pretty optimistic that I could at least get as far as the dentist chair before the panic and waterworks were unleashed, and indeed I did get that far. The walk through Castle Park was lovely. It was quite hot, and I stopped for a few minutes at a new Fitness Area the Council have recently installed (more about that in another blog) to admire the equipment and take a few photos.
I reached the hospital, booked in, and was directed across to the department, which turned out to be the same place as the first appointment. It quickly became apparent that the Consultant was going to do her own dirty work – a rarity in this day and age, but it didn't thrill me because her previous demeanour hadn't filled me with hope that she would be very compassionate, or patient with phobic people either. So, when the male assistant poked his head out of the door and asked if I was Mrs. Devine, I wasn't really joking when I replied, “Is it too late to deny that and leave?”
It was with some trepidation that I got up from my chair and walked towards the consulting room door.
However, I was to be pleasantly surprised...
When I poked my head through the consulting room doorway, there were six people in there already. This was rather a surprise, to say the least, but then I remembered that they teach medical students and also that you can ask them to leave if you want. I felt, in the circumstances however, that it was more a case of safety in numbers, and if necessary I had witnesses to the horrors to come, so I stepped properly over the threshold and the Consultant introduced everyone. There were two residents there to observe, one medical student there for the same reason, and the consultant's two assistants.
I was ushered into the chair, and there was the usual fussing with the chair going up and down while she tried to get it at the optimum spot for a good look at the launch site. I joked about being taken for a ride, which got a giggle out of a couple of the onlookers, and a smile from the Consultant. One of her assistants came round the back of me and said, “I just need to pop this bib on you. Not that we are expecting there to be a lot of fluid to protect you from.”
I twisted to look at him, and said, “Are you sure about that?” and I pulled a face, and he laughed, and said, “No, nothing to worry about.” I responded with, “That's easy for you to say.” and laughed back.
So I leaned back in the chair, and the other assistant, the lady this time, was instructed to put this big metal 'spatula' style thing in my mouth to pull my lips and cheek out of the way of the consultant, and I immediately panicked, so I put my hand up to the spatula and said, “Actually, can we hang on a moment, please?”
I told the consultant that I am rather dental-phobic, and she was immediately sympathetic. Various suggestions were made by the audience – some more helpful than others. Seriously, people, saying to pretend I was somewhere nice just isn't going to help in a situation like this. I mean, I have an active imagination, but not enough to overcome this kind of issue...
The consultant, fortunately, had more sense, and asked if it would help if someone help my hand and I was so touched by her kindness that I started to cry. The medical student offered her hand, and it had to be my left hand so I reassured her that although I still had a splint on for protection, the wrist was all but healed so she wouldn't hurt me, and actually I was more concerned about hurting her if I squeezed her hand too hard.
Then someone else asked if I'd like some music, and I said that would be lovely as long as it didn't put the consultant off her job, and the consultant laughed and said that she was a frustrated pop singer. She said she planned to appear on a TV show called Pop Idol: The Rejects, and she would sing to me while she worked! The radio was switched on and an Eighties song was playing that both the consultant and I recognised though the name of the singer was escaping us both, so I laid back, and she started stinging me with the anaesthetic needle while singing along to the song.
The combination of the radio, the consultant singing, and the medical student's hand to squeeze got me through that bit, and when she finished and pulled the needle away, I said “Nik Kershaw” just a second before the DJ confirmed it was The Riddle by Nik Kershaw. So, for a minute while we were waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect we talked about Eighties music being the best decade for pop. Then she poked me with the snippers to check I was numb, but I could still feel it, so she had to do a bit more needling before finally setting to and cutting for the biopsy.
I nearly took that poor medical student's hand off. It wasn't pain, exactly, but I could feel it and it was really uncomfortable, and metallic, which seems an odd description, but it's the best I can do,and unfortunately the radio had gone to the news so there was no music to distract me, but the consultant started singing the Nik Kershaw song again, and within a couple of minutes it was all over.
I must have gone a funny colour or something at that point, because she took one look at me, whipped the seat back so I was lying flat, and called for wet towels for my forehead. Then she said to breathe slowly because I was hyperventilating. So I'm lying there for a few minutes, concentrating on my breathing, with the cold compress feeling lovely and a cold fan on full blast at me, and then they had me carefully sit up for a minute, and then walk across to a normal chair, where they had me sit for a few more minutes to make sure I wasn't going to faint.
The consultant looked really concerned, and asked if I was there alone. I nodded, and she asked how I planned to get home, so I explained I was getting a taxi.
Then the female assistant walked me over to reception because I was feeling a bit sick, and didn't want to be on my own. Once I got out in the fresh air I felt a bit more with it and I was able to make myself understood to the receptionist. She arranged a follow-up appointment and then rang the taxi for me.
Fifteen minutes later I was back home, relieved it was over and praying they didn't lose the biopsy samples, because there was no way they were getting me back in that chair again!
Friday, June 27, 2014
That's better! Do love taking my medicine *happy sigh*
The little things are sent to try us, it would seem.
You see, I'd been waiting for weeks for these little discs designed to hold canes in place for runner beans, and they are days past their designated arrival date when I get a note through the door from the Royal Mail yesterday saying they can't deliver a parcel because of insufficient postage and they want £1.17 postage, PLUS - the cheek of it - another pound 'handling charge'!
What a racket!
PLUS: If I paid online I still have to wait a further 3-5 days to receive the package! Even though the parcel is just a 15 minute walk from the house!
So I walked down to the depot today, rather than wait, only to discover that the company who sent me the cane supports didn't put ANY postage on the parcel!
I feel a big TUT TUT coming on...
Well, I'd already paid postage and packing to the company who sent them, plus my runner beans got fed up with waiting and grew really quickly so I had to teepee them instead. So now I don't need the supports.
Hmmm... what to do... what to do...
So i asked if I could refuse delivery, and the guy says, "Absolutely! Plus, as the company also failed to put a return address on the parcel, the Royal Mail would have to send it to their unreturnable packages department in...
Wait for it...
I couldn't believe this one...
It is a bit of a distance...
So I said that was fine with me, seeing as I'd waited so long, and now don't need them and at least I don't have to pay even more money, PLUS I got to walk to the depot, so got some exercise in. "Win win!" :-)
Oooh, the temptation to leave it at that, but I will contact the company and tell them they forgot the postage and see what happens. If they offer to reimburse me I'll go back to the depot and collect the package. They keep it for a while before sending it to Belfast. If they don't make that offer, then I'll insist on a refund.
I have feelings of tempting mischief-making over this dilemma. LOL
And this was a little dilemma compared to the rest of my week! Been quite a rough ride!
Oh for a peaceful weekend, please!
Friday, June 20, 2014
I saw the not very pleasant GP as planned this morning, and for the third time I was kept waiting, then he told me I had more than one thing to talk about and should have had a double appointment (I told the receptionist it was to get results from my ECG AND from my blood tests, and she only booked me a single appointment) so I told him I didn't understand why they were separate issues, when they were both part of the same tests he ordered to rule out any underlying health issue and to make sure that the palpitations and chest pains were anxiety related. So he started counting off the 'issues' he was dealing with.
1. My ECG which was fine, in spite of the fact I still have several palpitation events a day.
2. Organising a 24 hour heart monitor because I'm still getting several palpitation episodes a day.
3. My blood test results which showed I was anaemic and drinking to much alcohol! Seriously, he was adamant that a high score on one of the elements of the blood test was due to excessive alcohol intake and could not be caused by anything else! I have the occasional, and by that I mean once or sometimes twice a week, shot of vodka in Dr Pepper as a treat. Not accurately measured, but about the equivalent of a double pub measure well diluted as a long drink, and I hadn't had a drink for at least three days prior to the blood test. He didn't believe me. I swear he was convinced I was lying to him.
4. Sorting out a prescription for iron tablets because I am anaemic, which was also a problem because the scrip I used to have is no longer available so he had to change to a different iron tablet.
So, seeing he was getting annoyed, and feeling myself starting to well up as well as feeling rather indignant about the way he was acting, I kept quiet and tried to keep myself under control while he started filling in the iron tablet information in the computer.
Then I told him I had contacted Health in Mind as he had suggested, but that it was taking time to get the ball rolling there, which was exacerbating my stress levels. Therefore I felt it might help if I had antidepressants as well, for a while, to try and get back onto an even keel. He said that was another issue and not what I had come in to see him about and I'd have to make another appointment to see someone about antidepressants because he had other patients waiting.
At this point I could feel the tears coming that I'd been trying to stave off, so I said, "Well, you know what? That's fine. I'll save you some time and go and see another doctor." I got hold of my bag, stood up, went to the door, and as I was opening it with my right hand to leave, he grabbed my left arm - the broken wrist arm - and pulled me back to the chair and made me sit down again!
So, I'm sat there, crying, and humiliated, and actually scared to get back up again. He is talking at me again, but by now I'm switched off and in flight mode. Then, as he hands me the prescriptions - now including two weeks of anti depressants - he has the nerve to say, "Looks like I'm having a bad day." (he was talking about himself) My response was, "Well, I've been having a bad week." I get up to leave, then turn back before going out of the door, because somewhere in the blah blah blah I heard him say something about seeing me again in two weeks, so I double checked that and he said, "Yes, two weeks, but you won't be seeing me. I'm off on a long holiday. I'm done with this place!"
How the heck I stopped myself from saying, "And thank the gods for that!" I shall never know. I walked out, went downstairs, hovered by the receptionist window wondering what to do, but they were all busy, so I went outside and paced up and down, trying to collect myself, which isn't easy because once the waterworks start I find it really hard to switch them off again and I hate making a fool of myself in public. In the end, I couldn't trust myself to go back in to complain there and then without crying again, I walked to the chemist, filled the prescription, told him I was fine when he looked worried - he is a sweet guy the chemist is, and I walked home. Then I told Tara what happened, and rang the surgery to make a complaint.
I was put through to the Deputy Practice Manager and she put up very politely with my somewhat disjointed explanation of what had happened during the three times I've seen this guy, and I think I heard a sharp intake of breath when I reached the bit where he manhandled me back to the chair. So, what she has done is take my complaint, for the moment as unofficial, which means that a flag is on my file to ensure that I am not booked to see him again, plus they will talk to him about his inappropriate behaviour. Also, I have been booked in to see one of the other GPs for a double appointment next Tuesday to talk over what has happened, go back over the test results again to cover the questions he left unanswered about that. In the meantime, she has said that if I decide to make my complaint official then I can put it all in writing and they will take it from there.
I'm not sure whether to do that or not. There is just so much going on right now. Mind you, i'm halway there with this blog, so I might just edit it, and then post it off to them.
I sincerely hope that the upcoming weekend will be a lot less full of drama than this week has been so far. If I don't get a break from all the stress soon, I think I'll explode!
So let's all make a plan to have a good weekend.
Thanks for bearing with me through this rough patch, you guys.
You are truly lovely people!
I may not be feeling it right now, but here's some funnies as usual. Hopefully I will look back at them and smile later. :-)
Thursday, June 19, 2014
That explains why I spend so much time on the loo when I'm stressed.
Costochondritis is baaaaaad today. Breathless, sharp chest pains, tight band around my body... all in all, not a lot of fun.
However, one good thing this morning. I got a call from Health in Mind, and they have booked me in for my first phone consultation to get an idea of my issues and what therapies may help. That is happening on Monday. So not as long to wait as I feared. They aren't going to fix me by the time the biopsy is due, but maybe they'll be able to help with some coping strategies or something to get me past this particular hump.
Plus... our Twinkle training is moving forward. Thanks to various websites about dogs suffering from separation anxiety, Tara and I have developed a strategy to get her used to being left alone in the house without howling fit to wake the street.
Of course, the neighbours think we have lost our minds. The number of times we leave the house, go out of the front gate, hide behind the neighbours bushes looking at our watches, then heading back into the house again, well it is causing a fair amount of curtain twitch.
If they bother to ask, we'll explain, but in the meantime it is giving us a great deal of giggles in our house, which we both need.
One smarty pants neighbour did figure it out, but he has a dog with the same issues, and therefore recognised our furtive behaviour for what it really was. Good job really, because I swear I've seen a van from the local asylum making its way slowly up and down our street, and I'm fairly sure they are looking for us.
Enjoy your day.
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