Friday 19th September – No sign of baby.

By Friday 19th September I had developed cabin fever in hospital. I had been lucky to receive a bigger than average cubicle so my husband David could stay comfortably with me for my duration on the ward. Two days may not seem long, but for a pregnant lady whose waters had broken and was surrounded by other pregnant women about to go into or enduring the beginning of labour, it was a little overwhelming to say the least.

For the most part and especially at night, I just listened to the groaning and wailing of these poor women. It didn’t bode well for my future. Not only did it freak me out but the lack of sleep was highly annoying. Every few hours, a nurse or midwife would appear to monitor baby and me. I would be strapped up to a machine for many minutes sometimes hours. God forbid I needed the toilet which I often did! I was pregnant after all.

monitored

I was undoubtedly ready to go home on Friday. It was very clear that baby was not appearing at that point and I just wanted to be in my own space. The doctors agreed that I should go home. Baby’s lungs were now matured with the help of that horribly painful injection so I didn’t need to worry. At the morning walk round, the consultant decided that I could return home.

I was so relieved.

They told me that as I was nowhere near dilated and there were no signs that baby was coming immediately, it made sense and was safe to go home. It had been planned that I would return to hospital on the 29th to be induced. Any longer than that could cause harm to baby and nobody wanted that.

Little did I know then that baby had no intention of waiting another twelve days to appear…………

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A Day from Hell.

Yesterday was officially the worst day of my pregnancy. I woke up throughout the night with a persistent cough, I struggled to breathe during the morning. Played it out nervously and followed Asthma UK’s instructions. By late afternoon, still tight-chested and unable to fully shake the dryness on my chest, Dave called an ambulance. Last time, they were angels. That sadly cannot be said for yesterday. I was fobbed off and mocked for calling in as I was speaking to the paramedic too “articulately”. I was given a run down on his daily statistics and that I was caller 4000 and something. I had stopped listening when he condescendingly asked me if my condition was “life-threatening?” I am horrified by his treatment. He denied me oxygen saying that I would put my baby in distress. He then proceeded to tell me to make my own way (no car) to a walk-in centre as I only had a mild chest infection. I was on the brink of tears. I knew what was wrong and what I needed but this man was not budging on his decision. He had written me off. After a wasted hour or so, he left and we headed up to the walk in centre. On arrival the receptionist was confused as to why I wasn’t taken to A&E. I explained what had happened. To my surprise, she seemed much more concerned than the paramedic. I didn’t have to wait long before seeing a nurse. She took my blood pressure, pulse, peak flow and finally checked my breathing with her stethoscope. Before I knew it, she had called the doctor in asking her to check me herself. She did and both of them nodded in agreement at the tightness and wheeziness of my chest. The doctor asked me to follow her and she led me to a nebulizer to give me oxygen. The same thing the paramedic had just told me I did not need. “You need it” she said when I asked if she was sure. I explained what I had previously been told and she was confused. I was in desperate need of a way to breathe and the oxygen was the obvious choice and it was not going to harm my unborn baby. Why did the paramedic lie?
He was adamant that I would cause my baby harm yet the doctor was adamant that I would do far more harm not treating the Asthma attack. Of course, she was right. If I cannot breathe, how an earth will baby?! After I had taken the course of oxygen and medicine, my vitals were checked again and it was clear. The oxygen had done it’s job. My chest had opened and the tightness had completely disappeared. All of that could have been done several hours back with the paramedic in my own home. Everything that I thought I needed, he had dismissed and sadly, I listened to the man, trusting him with his knowledge over mine. Next time, this will not be the case.
The doctor continued to tell me that I did not have a chest infection. Another thing that contradicted the paramedic. He insisted that was all I had. She prescribed me steroids as it was entirely Asthma related. The paramedic told me I needed antibiotics, something that could have given far more trauma to my baby and something I was trying to NOT put in my body.

How could this guy get it SO wrong?? He took one look at me and disregarded his skills. He judged me like a stranger on the street, someone who has no understanding of Asthma and how serious it can be. Just because I may be stringing a full sentence together, or as he so kindly said my “blood pressure is probably better than anyone else’s in the room,” does not mean I was not suffering.

Asthma is a silent killer and it can appear from nowhere.

Don ‘t write us off.

He didn’t even check my baby! Thankfully the doc did and baby was jumping and thumping away happily.

I guess it’s more resilient than I thought 🙂

Cervical Screenings: Drop the Age!

After the upsetting and tragic news that a nineteen year old girl from the UK died last week from Cervical Cancer, there has been an unprecedented amount of support flooding in for the age of smear tests to be reduced from 25. Sophie Jones was initially diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease after suffering from debilitating stomach pains. However, having been refused a smear test because she was too young, her actual diagnosis of cancer went unnoticed. Sadly, it was too late when doctors finally discovered the cancer late last year.

I have signed the petition and urge you all to do the same. Please, whether you are British or Worldwide, this is a very alarming and worrying cause. Although it is of low risk for a woman of under 25 to develop Cervical Cancer, it is still a risk. It can happen.

http://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/62385

The trend on Facebook at the moment is to post a no make-up selfie and donate £3 to Cancer Research. Suffering from BDD, I have held back. However, even I know this a good cause.

Girls: Let’s make a difference to women everywhere.

Image

The inevitable.

Well here it is, another birthday!

Inevitably, I’m getting older. Tomorrow will mark my thirty second birthday. I’m not entirely sure where the last decade of my life has actually gone (!)

I began my birthday ‘weekend’ a little more productively this year than last. I wasn’t in the best of places emotionally last year. I had lost a few friendships (not really out of choice, they just distanced themselves for no clear reason) and was feeling very low about myself in general. My husband took me out for dinner in Central London to a restaurant we had both wanted to visit for a while. Unfortunately, our decadent seafood meal resulted in a week long bout of food poisoning! Regardless to say, we never ventured back into that restaurant again.

I didn’t do anything with my friends which is pretty unusual for me. Ever since my eighteenth have I celebrated my birthday at some point with friends. However last year was the first time I hadn’t. Several girls, who I once regarded as close friends, suddenly deserted me. Out of nowhere, they took their friendships away; they dumped me. I felt discarded. Unwanted. To be honest, I felt depressed. It was a familiar cycle for me. I thought I was past all that at the age of thirty one. Apparently not.

This year I thought, ‘Screw it!’. I invited a couple of close friends out for lunch in North London for Mezze. It was delicious, fun and relaxed. It was a small and discreet celebration but worth planning. I deserve to celebrate my birthday with people that care about me. I realised that today.

Tomorrow, on my actual birthday, my husband and mum have organised a ‘Birthday Brunch’ complete with tea, finger sandwiches and cupcakes, very English! I will take some pictures. My in-laws are coming over in the afternoon too. It’ll be nice to have a more family orientated birthday. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced anything like that so I’m looking forward to it.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend!

Haha!

She can give it but she cannot take it.

I’m not really a fan of those who hand out criticism freely but cannot accept it when it is directed at them. My mother and I have just been in that situation. I am writing this straight after our heated talk. She is currently upstairs having a tantrum (or at least that’s what it sounds like). She is banging doors and generally stomping around. Not really the expected behaviour of a seventy odd year old woman. She is patently angry yet her anger is not justified.

My mother is very critical; of her herself occasionally but mostly of others. She is a fault finder and my husband and I are usually on her list. I am mostly used to it as this is not something new. I do not like the constant fault finding in my husband however. Soon, he will be unable to put a foot right. I know it’s getting him down. He is already afraid of failure and this is hardly helping.

This morning was not targeted at my husband. My mother woke up late with leg pains. For the last few weeks she has been suffering with them and after a day of long walking, her pains worsened over night. I had already been up for a couple of hours before her when she came downstairs. No “Hello” or “Good morning”, only chat about her disrupted night. I made her a tea and continued about my business. As David and I have plans to head into Central London today, I began getting ready at ten. After doing my make up, I headed upstairs to collect my phone and saw my mum sitting on her bead. She looked tired and weary so I went and gave her a hug.

I showed her my eye make up and asked if she liked it. She said that it was nice. As I left the room my mother spoke in a mix of English and Bengali and said,

“Why don’t you wear another pair of trousers? You’ve worn those yesterday. You got so many others that are nicer”.

This may not seem like an odd thing for a mother to say to her daughter but when her daughter suffers from BDD, it is not the most appropriate thing to utter. There was a similar incident yesterday morning where my mother thought it would be okay to criticise my weight and say that I needed to cut out fat in my diet. She was complaining about her own weight before she started to attack mine. I was still in bed as she ranted on. It immediately left me distraught. Every day I am aware of the weight that I have gained these last few months. The portion size at home has not helped as my mother eats very large portions of food. Cooking for her has become difficult as I tend to have to cook much more than I normally would. Temptation is always there and after a long and stressful day at work, it is enticing to have those extra five roast potatoes.

I made David explain to her that I suffered from BDD, that it is an illness and the slightest comment can set it off. She was incredibly understanding yesterday and apologised for her comment. Today was a different story. I had hoped that what my husband told her would resonate in her mind but it was almost like what she heard yesterday never happened. I got upset as soon as she criticised my clothes today. I tried to stay calm but as soon as I feel uncomfortable in what I am wearing I cannot shake the feeling off. I become very aware of what I look like and become defensive. My mother gets defensive all the time but cannot accept it when anyone else does. I tried to explain what she said had hurt me. She proceeded to stand by her comments. To her, it’s trivial. To me, it destroys my confidence. Why does she need to find fault in me? The same thing happened two weeks ago and she ruined my day out. She always does it as I’m about to leave the house.

I went a whole twenty four hours without taking my inhaler yesterday, I was so happy. This morning scuppered any chance of that lasting as after I got upset my mother fully lost her temper and launched into a rage. I ran downstairs struggling to breathe. I sat on the sofa as my husband looked on and covered my ears, quietly reassuring myself as her screams from upstairs echoed above me. When eventually her outburst had finished, I removed my hands – my chest was tight and a rash had appeared on my face. I fought hard to keep the tears back. She is just too stubborn to see past it all. She has turned the whole thing back on herself and is now playing the victim when all I needed was a bit of reassurance. Never in my whole life have I witnessed my mother shout and scream at my sister in the way she does with me. Why does the woman who bans her from seeing her grandchildren get more respect than the daughter that stands by her? Tell me?

Why do I still need to explain and describe to my family about who I actually am? For my entire adult life I have justified having emotions. They will not let me have a day off. To them I am to be happy and positive at all times. I am to be there for them and listen to their needs yet my needs are persistently neglected. I give up. I am too tired of it.

I am still a little tight now.

But writing this has helped.

I should be on the tube right now heading into London.

Instead I feel like shit.

To help you breathe better……

After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).

I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.

A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of  “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.

During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.

Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!

Other tips include:

  • Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
  • Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
  • Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
  • Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
  • Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
  • Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
  • Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.

I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.

Keep well and look after yourselves.

xxx

*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.

The Pledge – 2014.

First things first: Happy New Year!

It is the first day of a brand new year. We all have a new path to follow, a clean slate, a time to build bridges, a chance to take more risks, we should embrace the opportunities before fear kicks in.

I am going to make a pledge. No resolutions. They don’t work. I can’t promise myself anything but I can aspire to be a better me. Aspiration and hope mesh together. It does not require constant monitoring or worry that you’ve betrayed yourself. Who needs that kind of anxiety? Instead, I am making a pledge of 10 hopes and aspirations for this year. 10 is an easy number to reach. It is not impossible but gives me time to fulfil them.

  1. Finish my autobiography – I began it in 2010 and it still remains the most difficult task to complete. Only because it requires me to draw up and remember the most torrid of memories, some so bad that I cannot even bring myself to blog about.
  2. Find an exercise I enjoy – I’m not a gym-goer, I’ve tried but I can’t seem to find any enjoyment in walking on a treadmill – alone, with dozens of fitness-mad people surrounding me. I’m not the greatest fan of the “outdoors”. I’m not a hiker, I hate the English weather. I haven’t tried Yoga, perhaps that’ll suit me more. I love dance. I run the school’s dance and musical theatre club at work each term so get a regular burst of exercise then. But I need to find something more consistent that I equally enjoy.
  3. Look in mirror again without fear – I need to like my reflection. I do not think this will be an easy task but if I want to overcome my BDD, this may be the only way.
  4. Take more courses – Last year I went on an Assertiveness course at City Lit in Central London. It is by far, the best thing that I did in 2013. I learnt so much, not only about myself but the way in which others treat me. I am due to take a tap-dancing workshop this month (yes hilarious! I have tap danced before though) so hopefully it will the start of many more.
  5. Say No – A follow up from my assertiveness course. It will be incredibly fulfilling if I can achieve this. It is time to put my needs first.
  6. Take a holiday – Surprisingly, this seems to be an impossible task. Money isn’t the issue; it’s time. Although I get regular breaks through the year (I work in a school), my husband cannot necessarily take the same amount off work as me. We will sort it out this year and take a much needed holiday together. Somewhere luxurious please!
  7. See my friends more – I have become a bit of a hermit. By accident more than anything. This year I must spend more time with friends. I miss them.
  8. Start writing to agents – It’s a beginning. A new one. I need to focus a little bit and have some direction. If I want something then I’m going to need to put in some work. I want to a writer. I better get on it.
  9. Celebrate my birthday – I didn’t last year. I went for a quiet dinner with my husband which resulted in a week off work with gastric flu. This year I will celebrate getting older. My life is worth celebrating.
  10. Believe in myself and what I can do – I must stay positive. I got through a lot worse all those years ago and I need to get my fight and drive back. With hope and a little confidence, I will look to the future with brighter eyes and an open heart. I am capable of many things.

Good luck with all your pledges. I hope you too set some achievable and reachable goals that make you happy.

Love Ros xx