Troubled Cycles

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It’s not often that I mention my desire to raise children in my blog, I think sometimes those thoughts feel too intimate to share with the general public. However, I think it’s important to discuss women’s health, and so I’d like to open up for the first time about it.

Be prepared for in-depth descriptions of gynecological stuff.

The Role of Stress

Stress has always been the main thing that affects my menstrual cycles. I started my period when I was 13, used tampons the very first time, and had a cycle that came and went like clockwork for nearly 4 years. Genuinely, every 28 days I had a heavy period every day for 7 days. I had horrendous cramps, every PMT symptom you can think of. Fortunately I had a very understanding mother (she’d had 9 kids by this point) and on my paternal grandmother’s side there was a history of difficult monthlies and pregnancies and birthing. So already I was sort of up against it since I was clearly taking after my nan and my first cousins.

When mum died I was just turning 17 and suddenly my periods stopped. At the time I suspected it might be a result of shock and stress, and this persisted for a year before I saw my GP. They assumed the same, but did nothing except test my hormone levels – all normal. So I continued my life having no period for years. It didn’t bother me since I didn’t have to deal with the pain and fuss of a period and I wasn’t sexually active or wanting kids either.

At around 22-23 my life started to move forward and that moving forward relaxed me immensely. I felt much happier too, and not surprisingly there was a return of my heavy periods. At 24 I met the love of my life and my happiness levels soared.

The Mirena Coil

We had a pregnancy scare early on, and after raising my siblings for the last 7 years I was dead against having my own children so soon into this new relationship. We discussed various kinds of contraception – I’d already been on the pill since we started dating. I found out after the pregnancy scare that my mum had been sick because of the pill and I apparently had the same malaise. In the end as a couple we opted for the Mirena Coil, but not because Simon was refusing to be responsible for all of this. Neither of us were comfortable just using condoms – we’d doubled up on the pill and condoms so we were equally responsible. The fact was that the Mirena would help me with my heavy periods and cramps too so medically it made the most sense. It was weird getting used to, the “threads” of the coil take a few months to move either side of the cervix opening in the vagina so sex was sometimes a little… scratchy for him. It was never painful though (as far as I know at least!) and we were very happy to have no interruptions to sex during the month.

When I was going into my final year of my degree we decided it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I got pregnant, so decided not to have another Mirena put in. However, a month before it was due to come out I got pregnant and had a miscarriage.

TM and a Return to Normality

Between 30 and 32 I had normal periods, again I was relaxed and happy. Then the TM hit, and my body once more went into shock. From 32-36 I had virtually no periods again. In November 2016, after a couple of years of trying for a baby my period finally came back and has been regular ever since. At least, until last February when it became irregular again. Just before we were offered a move I had a miscarriage. Now I say it’s been an irregular period, that’s not exactly accurate. I bled for about 7 days after the miscarriage, then 2 days later bled for another 10 days…though this time it was spotting. Both lots of bleeding had a lot of clotting, the spotting was a lot of brown blood.

After having a relatively normal period in March, I bled mid-cyle, bang in the middle of my ovulation phase. It was so frustrating and I told myself that if I bled between periods again then I was going to the GP, so go to the GP I did. She ended up referring me to a gyno at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and I have an appointment there for the 1st May.

April’s period was 2 days late and even then was brown blood day 1, a little bright red blood day 2 and thus far zilch on day 3. Does that even count as a period, or just a very light one? I am so confused… Thankfully I’m using an app on my phone to track and record all of this so can give the specialist detailed information.

Wish me luck!

To Conceive or Not to Conceive?

Finally, on the note of having and raising children – I fully intend to adopt a 2 year old in the next few years regardless of whether or not I conceive. Being a parent is about raising the child, not being biologically connected. I don’t want to be a professional teacher, perhaps a mentor in some capacity, but I do want to teach a child. Whether male or female I want to raise a person from as early as possible and pass on the things I think are important, as well as making the child happy and balanced. I want to do this with Simon and I want adopt as well as have a child naturally. This is a part of my life plan, I’ve thought about it a great deal, we’ve discussed it as a couple over the years as well. We want to be responsible, loving parents.

So wish us luck, please?

 

Life as a Researcher

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In the weeks since the TM Away Day in Manchester I’ve found myself super busy! The contacts I made there were fantastic, and I gathered the courage to contact my own neurologist (as a researcher not a patient) to ask her for help from the Walton Centre. I want to collaborate and she is one of the head researchers there – it was fate! Anyhoo, she’s been awesome, has given me excellent advice and I am gonna meet with her once my proposal is finalised and before I’ve gotten funding and go to ethics. It is guaranteed that the specialists will be handing out my flyer to TMers and MSers which calls for participants but I might get to work with the patients as well! Fingers crossed!

When I actually begin my Doctorate at LJMU I’ll be doing regular classes but also a few workshops at the beginning so I can teach lectures and do seminars and workshops (mostly with undergrads). Earning while I learn eh? Noice. Also it’s my intention to lecture once I’ve graduated so great experience!

In the meantime I am working hard on beefing up my CV with the following:

  • Published articles (my own with my supervisor and contributing to others in various ways)
  • Research Assistant credits and experience in:
    • Qualitative research (practice for my own research)
    • Neuroscience (closely linked to pain if possible)
    • Literature searches (practice for my dissertation and my systematic review)

Thus far I am working on all but the qualitative stuff, which I have a lead on as well!

It’s fun doing this work even if it is unpaid, it’s all worth it.

Just Like Me

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Last Saturday, the 17th, I met others who’d suffered Transverse Myelitis. It was a huge day for me for many reasons, but not least because it was the first time I’d ever met anyone else with this rare illness. Not only that, I had also been invited to talk about the research I did into TM pain and coping as well as contribute to one of the workshops in the afternoon. It was an amazing experience and I’m so grateful to have been able to be a part of it.

It was nerve racking to talk directly after my own neurologist, Prof Young, but I felt my presentation went okay. Talking to non psychologists is difficult, but then talking and presenting to psychologists is difficult too, the two experiences are simply different. As nervous as I was though it was the good kind of nervous, the kind that has you being aware of every moment, success or failure. ^^

I want to keep in contact with as many people as possible, so I hope they either email me or see this wordpress blog and reply!

Looking forward to joining in with the Manchester support group too!

Almost Full Circle

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On the 17th March I’m speaking about my research and research subject for the first time (to anyone other than classmates or lecturers!). It’s nerve wracking but I’m excited too. I’ll be speaking after my own neurologist has presented (she is the key note speaker) which is kinda surreal! I’m also going to be co-running a workshop about pain and coping, which I am really looking forward to!

A lot has happened to me in the last two months, between moving, the miscarriage and my phd I am emotionally all over the place. I am handling it though, I am on top of everything and I feel healthy.

Still to come is a meeting with my solicitor and my first session as a tutor. So technically I also have a job! Noice one, right?!

Signing the Lease!

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Tuesday is moving day.

For first time in my adult life I’ll be living in a house. Yay! I cannot express how happy this makes me feel, we’ll have a back garden, so the cats will be able to have fun outside, will have a front garden with the tree, again so the cats will have fun outside hopefully not getting stuck up the tree though! Though one of the rooms is much smaller the kitchen is larger and is the bathroom is more usable, I actually really like the fact that the bathroom is a proper wet room! One thing that is possibly a nice problem to have is that I can’t use which room to have is the bedroom. On one hand the smaller one (which just about fits our super king bed) would make a good bedroom because I plan on spending a lot less time in it and having a smaller one would discourage me to be in there. However, on the other hand having a large bedroom is pretty fucking awesome! And the living room wouldn’t be that small.

So today we are going to get keys, pay our first weeks rent, take some more measurements, and generally start planning how we want to use the space (and Simon will panic that we won’t have enough room for our stuff).

Wish us luck in packing up all of our crap, we are so going to need it!

So Close!

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So very close to getting that house! We got offered a bungalow and though it’s in a dodgy-ish postcode it’s got just about everything we want and has everything we need, most importantly! Just waiting for the lease to start so we can move!

Some bad news during all this upheaval though. I lost data from my computer and it included my Master’s research project. I think/hope I can get the raw data from uni/my supervisor, but I am not holding out hope. I can still do what I need it’ll just be harder and take longer.

Also, unfortunately, had bad news on the baby front. Though it was never confirmed, I likely had a very early miscarriage. I know it is more likely to happen at my age, so I am looking at the positives, I am just saddened by being so close yet still, seemingly so far.

Anyhoo, more good news than bad, so onward we go!

Body Language: An Artistic Writing Tool

This is a fantastic tool!

Writers In The Storm Blog

By Sharla Rae

Have you ever people-watched and tried to guess by facial expressions and body movements what people are feeling or thinking?

This non-verbal communication of emotion, state of mind or state of physical well-being is known as body language.

Body Language is one of the most artistic and useful tools in the writing craft.

The art:

Writers paint word visuals of a character’s movements in the reader’s mind and this art  is crucial in making our characters look and act like real people rather than stick characters moving around on the page.

The tools:

I demonstrated how to use body language as a tool to eliminate clunky saidisms in my blog, “Dialogue Tags: How To Kill Some Of The Little Buggers,– showing who’s speaking rather than telling.

Body language may also be used to set the tone or atmosphere in a scene. Example: A character…

View original post 2,362 more words

Craft Your Story with Dabble

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So, am not one for advertising and I don’t get any perks for talking about this in my blog – I am literally just really happy using this software and want to share it.

Since NaNo in November I’ve been using Dabble to help organise my creative writing projects (of which I have many!). I’ve tried other software over the years, most recently I attempted using OneNote and though it was good it didn’t really have a fiction story writing focus. Evernote was similar and other softwares were either too clunky or just too complicated.

In steps Dabble.

It’s such clean and easy to use software and it’s really helping me to focus. Also, organising plots and characters and accessing that info is dead easy.

The guy who created it, Jacob, is also super helpful and seems to have a really promising roadmap for the future of the software.

Finally, it’s got an offline app as well as an online version – both of which I find supremely useful.

Dabble 1Dabble 2Dabble 3

https://www.dabblewriter.com

Let’s Talk About Pain

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I think it’s safe to announce that I have been invited to speak about my research topic at the TMS one day conference in March. I’m doing a presentation/Q&A session in the morning and then co-running a Pain Coping workshop in the afternoon. It’s such an exciting opportunity not least because I am a TMer talking to TMers! It’ll be the first time I’ve been in a room with people who have my illness.

My research proposal is coming along and I’ll be mentioning that in my presentation as well as covering psychological coping models. I am already nervous because I’ll be going after my own neurologist – who is the Keynote Speaker in the morning. It’s both a terrifying and wonderful opportunity and will definitely be going on my CV! This along with the journal article getting published in psychology journals even before starting my PhD? It’s fun and it’s good for my career, I know full well how lucky I am to be doing something I both love and enjoy.

When I began studying psychology I did so in order to be someone who could help people in a way that few people really could. I think I am starting to be able to do that – finally. After leaving school at 16 to care for my dying mum, then going back at 26 only to fall ill a few months after graduating my undergraduate degree, it’s been a long time in coming but my journey will hopefully help others do the same.