Week One-“Hectic”

These years keep rolling by at a worrying rate and I find myself, yet again, at the beginning of my 16-week break from work. The plan was that I have a couple of weeks catching up on my sleep and generally chilling, but the best laid plans of mice and men dictated otherwise.

So the first 7 days went something like this…..

Saturday- a lovely evening out with our next-door-neighbours at a charity “do” for Menphys. No suitable photos available.

Sunday- Will came over for lunch and a catch-up.

Monday-My birthday and up early to take Jasper for his quarterly groom.

Tuesday- A quick tidy and clean up ready for the workmen to arrive.

Wednesday- I fell down the stairs and chipped a bone in my ankle. I hopped into the minor injuries unit and came out in a neoprene support-boot and crutches.

Thursday/Friday-the workmen turned up as planned and replaced our aged boiler, 4 radiators and left us sweltering in unaccustomed 22.5 degrees of heating-loveliness.

Saturday- Hubby and I both came down with coughs/colds in various forms and spent most of the day in bed and plying each other with Lemsip.

Sunday- I feel much better and have actually managed to take Jasper for a walk without doing my ankle any further damage, made some panels for hand-quilting, cleared out and re-filled the airing cupboard now that we have no hot water tank and sunk half a bottle of vodka after a hectic week.

Just reading this back makes me tired but, as they say, the Devil is in the detail, and of course the summary above is only half the story. I am hoping to keep my Blog up to date as far as I can, even if it is only a summary of the week’s activities. There is so much going on behind the scenes however that I should be able to embellish the week’s highlights more regularly than once a week. I need to write more-it makes me feel better.

A Bientot

Caroline

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4 panels ready for hand quilting

 

 

 

Kenalog-the only treatment that worked

Most people don’t know what a Kenalog injection is  but I imagine that there are quite a few in the sporting world who are now familiar with the drug Triamcinolone. Triamcinoclone is an anti-inflamatory cortico-steroid used to treat a number of conditions, including hay-fever and asthma and which is prescribed under a number of trade-names, including Kenalog.

As a life-long sufferer of severe hay-fever which often led to ad-hoc asthma  attacks when the pollen count was very high, I tried every drug available to control my symptoms. I admit that no-one is going to die of hay-fever, but the symptoms are horrible and quality- of- life-limiting. This is before it develops into an asthma attack, which we know can be fatal.

My symptoms were so bad that when I was referred for immunotherapy treatment, the allergy  specialist who was evaluating my claim for treatment said that he had never seen anti-bodies attack the pollen which was introduced to my blood sample so aggressively and recommended that my 3-year series of immunotherapy injections should start as soon as possible.

When I was a young girl, my sister used to take me to watch her and her friend play tennis. She still remembers sitting me down on the bench by the court and covering my head with a damp towel. I was “happy” to sit like this until they had finished because the damp towel kept the pollen out of my eyes and nose. My sister then used to lead me home by the hand; me with the towel still on my head.

Unless you have suffered with hay-fever, you cannot grasp the scale of irritation, fatigue and frustration which goes with it so, when a group of hospital  Doctors against whom I was playing a tennis match and who couldn’t believe that I was still playing despite having to sneeze and blow my nose between each point suggested I had a Kenalog injection, I was more than happy to trot off to my GP and demand the needle.

At the time in the mid 1990’s, my GP was happy to prescribe it and so I arrived back at the surgery within a couple of hours desperate as I was, for the nurse to administer the drug. I had been told that it was a high-dose steroid that I was having and that there were potential side effects; I had to stay in the surgery for 30 minutes after the injection in case I went into shock (I didn’t) and that I may suffer from localised muscle loss in the injection site leaving a “dimple” (I did).

But when I woke up the next morning, and every morning after that for 2 months, I had NO hay-fever or asthma symptoms. To this day, after taking part in drugs trials and after 3 years of immunotherapy treatment, I can honestly say that this injection of Triamcinoclone was the only treatment I have ever had that worked. No symptoms at all.

Sadly, Kenalog as I understand, is not licenced for use to treat allergies and when I moved house and changed GP, I could not secure a prescription. Instead, I was referred for the immunotherapy treatment.

The reason I am writing about my experience is because Sir Bradley Wiggins used this drug under a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) before he rode in the 2012 Tour de France. He is now accused of “abusing the TUE system to his advantage” and I was particularly incensed when I heard a previously banned cyclist talking on Radio 5 Live a few weeks ago (I can’t remember his name) criticising Bradley Wiggins’ use of this drug as a TUE. He inferred that Sir Bradley had abused the drug and cycling rules for a “minor illness.” Clearly he has never suffered or seen anyone suffer from severe hay-fever/asthma symptoms. I struggled to maintain any sort of normality in the summer months before I came across Kenalog, let alone take part in elite sport and the fact that Sir Bradley took this drug to enable him to take part at that particular time of year when the pollen count is particularly high, is no surprise. In fact, if his symptoms are so severe there is no way he could have taken part without it.

I would therefore like to know what experience the critics have of allergy-related illnesses and how they are treated. Do they understand what treatments do and don’t work?

I doubt it and I support Bradley Wiggins all the way.

Triamcinoclone provided him with the means to compete on a level playing field.

Go Bradley.

 

 

 

 

 

On The Up

I don’t know where the time goes and I cant believe that its 8 days since I wrote my Blog. In that time however I have managed to establish some sort of equilibrium and am much calmer.

Earlier in the week Jasper alerted me to a juvenile hedgehog eating its dinner in the night garden. It was clearly obvious that the hedgehog was not particularly big, so I asked hubby to bring me the scales from the kitchen.

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I weighed “Cheeky Charlie” (named because he/she didn’t curl up for long) and found that the 375gms was not sufficient for him/her to survive winter hibernation. I understand that hedgehogs should be at least 500-600gms to survive over winter so I prepared the cat carrier, complete with towels, hot water bottle, newspaper, food and water for the hedgehog’s overnight stay with us, before taking him/her to the local Wildlife Hospital the next day.

The hospital welcomed the new addition and promised that we can have him/her back in the Spring.

The hospital will keep the juvenile hedgehogs, not ready for hibernation, in warm conditions so they don’t try to hibernate. This would probably kill them as they don’t have enough body fat to live on whilst their body slows down. Hopefully, after a Spring and Summer back in our garden Cheeky Charlie will be ready to hibernate this time next year.

In the meantime, soft as I am, I have built the hogs a shelter so they don’t have to eat their dinner in the rain……..

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Am I daft?

My frustrating brain

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I’ve had a good few months. My brain has been behaving as expected; waking up nice and early ready to take on the day’s challenges quite willingly. It has enjoyed and embraced the challenge of technical tax work and I have gone to bed at night feeling mentally tired but still in control.

That is until I woke up this morning.

Today I could have cried. I woke up feeling overwhelmed, confused and angry with a head that felt like cotton wool. Why does this happen? I do know why but as hard as I try, I seem to have little control over those pesky grey cells between my ears.

Whilst I hate to labour the point, as an “HSP” I am a square peg in a round hole; Something I have known for many years but have been too chicken to resolve. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy my job. I do but maybe for the wrong reasons. It satisfies certain criteria in that I enjoy a challenge, I am target driven and I like to learn new skills which stretch my brain. What it doesn’t do however, is help me satisfy my long-hidden creative instincts and the basic need to do something “meaningful.”

So, I really tried to continue as normal today. All the time fighting the urge to jack it all in and  disappear into a large cave somewhere. As an HSP susceptible to periods of depression and anxiety I need my periods of respite so mid-afternoon I caved in and logged off.

When I get very bad hay fever, I want to take my eyes out of their sockets and wash them clean. When I get brain-fog, I feel the need to do something similar. Remove brain from skull; immerse in liquid chocolate and breathe. I need complete sensory respite from targets and tax legislation.

So what did I do?

I went into the garage and sawed some wood. I switched off and made something. Something meaningful.

A hedgehog house.

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Chalk it up to experience

One of my favourite pastimes which I discovered a couple of years ago is painting furniture. It’s amazing what a difference a coat or two of chalk paint can make to a tired table, chair, or set of wooden drawers.

These have been in my garage for a few years just waiting for my inspiration to flash and some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to come calling. I already had some stencils in my stash which added to the olde-worlde Parisienne look I was looking for.

Here’s the result.

Old-White coupled with a lovely muted Duck-Egg Blue and I have a pretty new piece of furniture to use.

These will hold lots of my fabric fat quarters, colour coordinated of course, and I am now on the look out for my next project.

 

The HSP in me

It’s that time of year. The nights are drawing in; no more sitting outside in a comfortable warmth as it gets dark. The mornings are distinctly chillier and I am more inclined to snuggle back under the duvet than to leap out of bed raring to go. Energy levels are sapping just as work schedules are increasing massively over the winter period.

Of course I have a 16-week break to look forward to between February and June, but it seems a long time to wait just now.

So how do I make sure that I maintain equilibrium in the meantime? I know that I need to rest, stay healthy and as stress-free as possible. But how?

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Targets, financial deadlines, Christmas, all words guaranteed to set my soul a-flutter at the mere mention. I am normally very good at managing my stressors but when I’m busy or distracted it’s easy to forget my coping strategies so here are a couple of reminders to myself;

Plan ahead

This is really important and saves me from a lot of unnecessary stress. Last week for instance I had to travel to London for a training day. I knew that the train would be busy, the Underground even more so. I am used to working from home in a quiet environment much of which I can control directly so being in a lecture room with a group of colleagues can be daunting. As can shopping for lunch at a busy time at the midday break.

I booked my ticket in advance and reserved my seat. An early train to get me into London before the main rush-hour. I took my lunch with me.

I also booked the next day off as holiday. I knew that I would be tired after a long day traveling combined with the training so I made sure that I had a restful day before returning to work. Luckily the weather was sunny and bright and I spent the day in the garden and in the garage making hedgehog houses. Perfect recuperation.

Routine maintenance

Maintaining a routine is not easy for me as my sleep patterns vary so much, as do my energy levels. I have learned instead to “go with the flow” and not worry too much if I don’t quite follow my plans to the letter.

Good routines include, at least an hour or two before bedtime, shutting down all electronic equipment. As an information and social media junkie this is difficult for me and I probably pay the price in that my sleep can be disturbed by vivid dreams and I often wake after just 4 hours rest. Instead, I should read (a proper book, with real paper pages and not on Kindle) and in the morning, I should make time to start the day in a calm way by practising something like yoga or writing my journal.

I definitely need to work on this one. I think I’ll start tomorrow.

Hopefully I shall survive my “busy” season with sanity intact having followed my own advice but roll on February.

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