Tuesday, 16 April 2019

MY FIRST SMEAR TEST

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I have to admit, I thought I’d have more to say writing this post. I thought I’d be able to write paragraph after paragraph of useful advice, intimate details of every moment of what I expected to be an uncomfortable and mildly traumatising experience. Instead, I’m going to tell you all about the reality of my very first smear test. If you’re squeamish about reading about lady things, I suggest in the kindest and sweetest way possible that you get over it and keep reading because this sh*t is important.

So, a little over a month ago, rather aptly on International Women’s Day, I was booked in for the appointment every girl in her mid-twenties absolutely dreads, my first cervical smear. While I’m super aware of the importance of these and just how lucky we are to have such a service provided for free, I was so nervous. Like, 14 year old me getting braces nervous. I spoke to my friends, my Mum, my work colleagues and pretty much anyone else who would listen about how nervous I was. I’d taken to the internet and read up about how it worked, I’d watched videos and encountered some very scientific looking diagrams and still, I was scared. None the less, I left work at lunch time, gave myself an hour at home to pull myself together and headed off to my appointment. The nurse was running a little late which admittedly didn’t help my increasing nerves, but I just sat and read a book and tried to chill (definitely recommend having something to distract you beforehand if you’re a little nervous!) and then it was time.

So I went in, the nurse very quickly went over how it all worked, showed me the speculum that’d be used and that was that. I laid on the bed undressed from the waist down (I was luckily wearing a dress which I’d also recommend!) with my knees bent and legs open in what I’m sure was only a very flattering and classy position and she got started. It took a little wiggle (her) and a couple of deep breaths (me) to get the speculum in there but almost as soon as she had, she told me it was done.

I don’t think I’ve never had a more ‘was that it?’ moment in my life.

I wouldn’t even go as far as to call it uncomfortable, it was just a bit weird. Too much information incoming so fair warning – I am fairly tight down there, I was terrified that this was going to feel like I was being ripped apart, it’s not often (it’s never) that I stick anything more than a tampon up there when I'm not 'in the mood' if you catch my very obvious and possibly inappropriate drift. But it was nothing. I know everyone’s different and perhaps I got lucky, but I won’t lie, I was tensed up, in theory, I was probably making things slightly difficult for the nurse but it just felt a little odd then it was done. I was super squeamish about the idea of the little brush wiggling about but I didn’t even feel that part happening so that was a pleasant surprise. She asked if I'd bought pads or liners as there was a little blood (I hadn't, because a Girl Scout I am not), but it was fine and this is totally normal apparently. Overall, the idea of it and the waiting around was much, much worse than the reality.

I then trotted off for lunch and a cocktail with my bestie to celebrate this important female milestone and then forgot about it for four weeks. The nerves hit again when my results letter came through in the post but it was normal so nothing to report there. I’ll definitely be booking again right away when I’m next summoned that’s for sure!

Short story even shorter, it’s fine. Do it. Go.
Even if it is a little uncomfortable for you, it can and does save lives all the time. We are so lucky to be provided such a service and you’d be mad not to take advantage. IF you’re currently putting it off, level up your Girl Power and book it in.

Until next time Angels!

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Monday, 21 January 2019

REVIEW: THE GIGGLING SQUID, BISHOP'S STORTFORD

 
Happy New Year! Okay, so we’re a bit late for that, but as I haven’t posted yet in 2019, we’ll say it anyway! I hope you’ve had a fab January so far. This year, I decided that January wasn’t going to be dull and miserable as it so often tends to be, but instead, it’s been filled with lots of cosy nights in, day trips to different Cities and a whole lot of dining out and trying all the good vegan food. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when I was invited along to try out The Giggling Squid, a new Thai restaurant right here in my home town. It’s somewhere I’d been meaning to try anyway and I’m pretty obsessed with Thai food so it couldn’t have been more perfect! So, last Thursday, Jack and I went along to give it a go and it’s safe to say I was pretty excited.
 
 
The first thing that struck me on walking into the restaurant was just how pretty it was. The D├ęcor is all pastels and florals and it’s incredibly light and bright which I just loved. It’s super quirky and just so instagrammable! I didn’t take too many pictures as the main part of the restaurant was pretty busy and I didn’t want to be snapping photos of poor unsuspecting people trying to enjoy their dinner! I’d definitely recommend checking out the Giggling Squid website though, as all their locations are just gorgeous.

 
Before we were sat down, we were asked if we needed any alternative menus, which is a huge bonus for me. A lot of restaurants offer a vegan or at least vegetarian menu these days, but many won’t offer it unless you ask. I said that I was vegan and was given a vegan/ veggie menu with lots of completely vegan options, all clearly marked with a VE so I knew exactly what I was looking at. There were a ton of options, but I decided to go classic and had a starter of Spring Rolls and a main of Vegetable Red Curry. I wanted to go for my usual favourites to see how they compared to other Thai places I’ve been to. I can honestly say the Red Curry was the best I’ve had. The portion size was a little big for me, but that could’ve been something to do with the three spring rolls and two glasses of wine I’d already had before! It was super creamy, but not too rich and fragrant without being too strong. Jack isn’t typically a fan of creamy Thai curries as he finds them too ‘perfumey’, but even he approved, high praise indeed! The spring rolls were lovely too, super fresh and full of flavour.


The staff were just wonderful, they were super attentive and well informed. The service was quick, but with enough time between drinks, starters and mains so that you didn’t feel rushed, despite the restaurant being fairly busy. Something I particularly liked was the layout of the tables. There’s plenty of space in the restaurant and lots of tables, but they’re not too close to one another. Someone elses chair practically touching the back of mine during a meal is a huge bug bear for me, so this is a huge bonus.


Overall, I couldn't recommend The Giggling Squid enough, the food, staff and restaurant were all just wonderful and we had a lovely evening there. We will absolutely be back!

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Saturday, 29 December 2018

2018 - LIFE, LOVE & LESSONS




Around this time of year, we see a lot of quotes about leaving negative thoughts/ vibes/ habits/ people/ blood types in the current year and ditching them all for good on 1st January. Okay, maybe not the last one. A new year though, is very often seen as a blank page, a fresh start and honestly, I never really bought it. I'd roll my eyes at the Pinterest quotes, sigh and raise an eyebrow at the mention of resolutions and big life changes just because our planet circled round the sun one more time. This year though, I kinda get it.

You've heard it all before, this year was huge, next year will be my year. Blah blah blah, sure, whatever. This time though, this year was actually really bloody huge and while I can't stake a claim on a 365 day period, I fully intend to take next year by the metaphorical horns and continue living the life I'm loving right now from the first day of 2019 and beyond.

This year held many life changes for me, the end of my only one year long marriage (more on that here), building new and strengthening current relationships with my incredible friends and family, reconnecting with wonderful old friends and cutting out some decidedly less wonderful ones, oh, and falling madly in love with my best friend. So while I can say that 2018 is ending on a high that I could never have imagined possible, I do really love the idea of starting 2019 fresh and new.

I learned many things this year and I hate to say it, but I'm going to. I feel like this year I've truly learned more about who I am and who I want to be. I know, giant cliche alert, I'm sorry okay? Just hear me out. I've come to realise that while everything I knew was crumbling around me, my coping mechanism was to pretend it wasn't.

I won't pretend things were more dramatic than they were, my breakup was uneventful and amicable, my ex is not the bad guy and neither am I. We weren't compatible and that was that. But the build up to the break up was quietly destructive for us both. We knew things weren't right and did nothing about it because saving face and not rocking the boat seemed easier right up until it wasn't.  I wouldn't say I put on a positivity front, because I do like to think that in general, I'm a fairly positive person. But I for sure was always the friend dishing out life advice, the one sharing how happy they were on social media, writing motivational instagram captions that I absolutely stand by, but probably didn't fully believe in deep down at the time.

The breakup caused somewhat of a snowball effect and made me realise exactly who and what was important to me all in very quick succession. An old friend reached out and we reconnected, something I might not have considered before. We're now as close as we ever were again as if the seven years since we'd last properly spoken hadn't passed at all. Side note, she's actually now a blogger too - and an incredible one at that! Check her out here. A friend that I thought would be around for the long haul proved to have some not so hot shades in their 'true colours' palette and while we won't go into or dwell on that, it did make me realise that actually, you have no obligation to keep people, things or situations in your life that are making you miserable. So in some backwards way, I'm somewhat grateful for the bad that came with all the good this year,

And speaking of the good, the very best came in the form of my boyfriend and best friend, Jack. I spoke about Jack and indeed, his nether-regions in my last blog post, but didn't really discuss much of our relationship and how it began. Jack was my best friend for some time before we got together and while I was still with my Husband. On reflection, we've probably always had what might be referred to in cheesier rom-coms and chick-lit as a 'spark' between us, but with my being unavailable and us both being all round decent people, neither one of us noticed that until I was single again. That spark jumped up and started flying admittedly quickly after my breakup and Jack and I started seeing one another fairly soon. It was cautious at first, both because we were concerned about how others would feel and because we both wanted to make sure that it was absolutely right. Despite well intentioned cautiousness from a few friends, I dived in head-first anyway because it seems when you actually know, you really do know. I'll spare you too many more details because I'm at risk of dangerous levels of mush, but let's just say, I've not looked back once and my internal rear-view mirror looks set to continue gathering dust.

2018 wasn't all emotional rollercoasters and dropping bombshells though. The final third of this year in particular has been incredible, I've had so many wonderful day trips, nights out and and generally just spent time with the best people I've ever met. During the year, I ticked Stereophonics, Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines, David Ramirez and Gregory Alan Isakov off of my 'to see live' list and Edinburgh, Budapest and Verona off of my 'to go' list. Jack and I already have plans to tick several more off both lists next year with six gigs and a trip to Berlin booked so far, so 2019 is shaping up to be a good one.

This post got real rambly real fast so I'm going to leave it here. I'm always so hung up on tying a blog post up in a neat little bow at the end, making sure I've concluded with some kind of point or message for the reader to take away. I'm not going to do that though, this is just me, telling you about my wild and wonderful 2018. Take from it what you will, be it a lesson in living your life for yourself or just an insight into someone else's own personal chaos. We're nosy creatures us humans, so I won't be wearing my judgey pants. And there I go rambling again!

Happy New Year, here's to good health, good times and saying 'fuck it' whenever and wherever we like.

Cheers!

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Sunday, 21 October 2018

FAKE PLASTIC BALLS – WHY MY BOYFRIEND HAS SILICONE TESTICLES AND HOW THE F*CK THAT WORKS


I've shared a whole lot about some very personal things in my life recently and this post will be no exception. For those who need bringing up to speed, meet my boyfriend Jack (click to check out his instagram!), he's a musician, artist and all round wonderful person.

Oh, and he also technically has no balls.

Jack had testicular cancer. Twice actually.

While our relationship is still quite new, Jack and I were friends for some time before becoming a couple. We became close friends shortly after his second surgery. He was very open with me though, meaning that while I wasn't around for much of it, by the time he became my boyfriend, I was pretty clear on what had happened already. He'd gotten cancer in one testicle first and had that removed and replaced with a silicone implant, then later developed it in the second one and had the same surgery all over again to replace the second one. All of this I knew, he'd been very forthcoming with all the details so I knew exactly what had happened and how things worked. One time though, while waiting for him to go in for a routine appointment at the hospital, he told me that before he had the second surgery, leaving him with not one but two 'fake plastic balls', he was looking online for information on how things worked afterwards, things, to put it simply, meaning sex, among other things. He told me that though there was a lot of information out there about losing one, there was very little about losing both testicles.

What struck me immediately with this was that so much of what Jack had told me during both our friendship and the beginning of our relationship was things that he'd almost had to just figure out on his own. It was just shocking how little honest information there was out there outside of medical sites about how things are going to work 'down there' after having both testicles removed. I'm not going to go too much into the details of the actual cancer, it may be something to come back to another day, but for now, I wanted to talk about what it's like to be in a relationship with a guy with no balls.

The two biggest changes when having both testicles removed is that the body no longer produces testosterone, therefore testosterone replacement therapy will be essential for the rest of your life - the other is that the guy will of course be infertile. It's such a scary concept for young men and while testicular cancer is rare, it's still one of the most common types in young men, which is why it's so important that it's talked about. For us, the fertility thing isn't an issue. I'm certain about the fact that I've never wanted children and Jack is very much the same. It's not something I'll go into too much, because as someone who isn't concerned about that aspect, I don't feel particularly qualified to talk about the physical and mental difficulties that could cause.

The testosterone thing though I was pretty curious about. I knew that everything still worked down there, but I hadn't really considered how. At the time of writing this, Jack applies testosterone in gel form to his back once a day, this will soon be administered via injection which will be much more convenient than him having to apply every day. This couldn't be done right away simply because the dosage needed to be tested to ensure what he was getting was right. This replaces what isn't being produced by his body any more and basically everything down there is business as usual. Literally.

As his girlfriend, I can honestly say that what Jack went through has had very little effect on me and my relationship with him. Sex works in exactly the same way as it would with real balls, something that is of course a worry for guys going through the same thing. I won't go into graphic detail, because I know I have family that read my blog - but for us at least, there's been absolutely no worries in that department. Something we have both been asked by friends is how we felt about our first time together. For me, it didn't really occur to me at the time. Perhaps because I knew already that everything worked as usual in that department, or perhaps just simply because it wasn't the first thing on my mind when it came down to our first time together. I'm not entirely sure, but I can honestly say, any anticipation I felt was purely down to being with someone new for the first time. As for Jack, I think just knowing that I wasn't concerned meant that he wasn't either. It's something that'll be incredibly personal to anyone in a similar situation, but for us, it was all about confidence and feeling comfortable with one another.

Rather than anything being a problem or an issue, there are just a couple of things that we need to be aware of or things that need to be done every now and then. One thing is the testosterone - it has to be applied to his skin so I therefore can't touch the area until it's all properly soaked in, just because as a female, I don't need testosterone going into my system! This of course will no longer be something to think about when he moves onto the injections. The only other thing is that Jack does have to have fairly regular trips to Hospital - usually in London - to get checked over. Instead of seeing these as an inconvenience though, we both take the day off work and head up to the city, get the appointment done and then spend the rest of the day doing fun things - never a wasted moment over here!

Both Jack and I are fully aware that everyone is different and people going through the same thing won't necessarily have the same experience that Jack did. Of course, finding out he had cancer and going through the necessary process to get that sorted wasn't pleasant. It was something he very much had to process in his own mind, but something I hugely admire about him is his attitude to the whole thing. As much as it was a shock in the beginning of course, with the help of our wonderful NHS, he was given a plan and he dealt with it. He described the situation as a 'faff' more than anything else. Even now, he talks very openly about the situation, wanting others to be aware of it, not for him personally, but for themselves. He went through it and he got through it and it's important to us both that others see that and maybe think to go home and check themselves.

I, of course, can't speak for the Women with partners going through the process of cancer treatment or in the early stages because I wasn't there for that. But as someone who has entered a relationship with someone that's already been through it, I wanted to make the point that actually, it's really okay. Like I said, the fertility side of things certainly could be for some people, but for me and for us, I can genuinely say it doesn't affect our relationship day to day in the slightest.

While I don't want to be at risk of downplaying what is, of course a serious topic, I do want to get across that the 'after' part of testicular cancer isn't necessarily as scary as it may seem. I wanted to write this post very much with Jack's input so that the information I was giving was factually correct, so I hope that some of what I've said has been thought provoking if not directly useful. It's so important to check yourself and know your own body and be aware of any changes - because while the idea of having cancer is undeniably frightening, the risks that come with ignoring warning signs are much worse.

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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

UTMOST ME - NEURO REST


I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that I’m not much of a sleeper. I sleep around 5-6 hours on an average night and get by just fine for the most part. The trouble for me isn’t the amount of sleep I get though, it’s the quality of sleep. I take a very long time to fall asleep at night and when I do, I’m an incredibly light sleeper. I recently got a new mattress which helped a lot, but especially as the dark mornings have started drawing in, I have found that getting up each morning has been getting a little more difficult.

So while I knew that I could be resting better, sleeping aids weren’t something I’d ever really considered. I’d only ever taken one once before going on long flight and it did nothing more than making me feel a little drowsy all the way from Gatwick to Florida, not fun! When the people at Utmost Me got in touch though, the timing was pretty perfect. I’d had a crazy few weeks and was beginning to feel the effects of very little sleep. I read a little about the brand before deciding that I definitely wanted to give their ‘Neuro Rest’ sleep aid a go.

The product is entirely plant based and contains no chemical nasties, which is exactly why I was open to giving it a go. The formula is made to actually reduce tiredness and fatigue, meaning it doesn’t give that nasty drowsy effect that a lot of sleeping aids can do. I’ve been using the product for around two weeks but have already noticed a significant difference in how I feel throughout the day moreso than at night. I’m finding that I don’t get that sleepy feeling I’d usually get at around 3 o clock at work each day. The disturbed sleep took a little over a week before I noticed a difference but I’m definitely finding it easier to fall back to sleep once I have woken up, which, considering I only sleep fairly few hours a night, makes a huge difference!

These are, of course, entirely vegan, which is something that was very important to me. In fact, reading through all the ingredients, it’s reassuring to know that the product is made up entirely of natural ingredients. For me, taking a supplement is something to improve your health and when they’re loaded with nasty chemicals, that seems pretty counter-productive! As they are not only for sleep, but anxiety also, it’s good to know that there’s nothing harsh in there! Anxiety isn’t something I particularly struggle with, but I’ve had a lot happening in general recently and have been a little stressed here and there for sure! Again, I will stress that anxiety is not something I can truly comment on, but I will say that since taking one of these per night, I have found that my mind is a little more settled in general, particularly when winding down in the evenings. For this reason and the fact that the ingredients are so clean, I would say it’s definitely worth a go if anxiety is something you struggle with.

Overall, I’d 100% recommend Utmost Me – Neuro Rest, while I don’t yet sleep perfectly every night, I have definitely found it easier getting up in the mornings and getting through the day without wanting to take a nap on my desk! Keep your eyes peeled over on my Instagram for an update when the bottle is empty, as I’ll definitely be checking back in!

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