Friday, 23 November 2012

Adventures in Weegieland

So, it was my birthday last week...

Who knew my boyfriend could make awesome cake?  It was certainly better than the cake provided by a certain Glasgow restaurant which will for the time being remain nameless.

Due to the occasion, I decided to head back to the motherland and grace my family with my presence, I am just that nice.  In order to get there however, I had to brave what will from here on out be referred to as the 'claustrophobic sweatbox'.

I walked onto the bus a perfectly (ha, okay, well, you know) healthy person and walked off of it as Rudolph the red-nosed plague victim.  Thank you claustophobic sweatbox, at least I'm now seasonally appropriate.

Weird story!  I get to my mums house and open my presents.  I open up a box and this bracelet is inside:

This is the worlds crappiest picture, but it's a charm bracelet with cute little chocolate cake slices. I immediately recognised it as being really similar to the kind of charm bracelets a long time friend of mine makes.  My mum then mentions that she bought it at a craft fair at the botanic gardens in Glasgow... where I know my friend sells her wares.  Out pops my iPad (let's pretend it wasn't already attached to my arm) and I show my mum a facebook picture of her and lo and behold... yeah you know the rest of the story.  Anyway, the very talented friend is Kristin of K Scott Crafts.  As well as jewellery, she also makes adorable cake toppers.

For my birthday, we went to Bar Soba on Byres Road.  My boyfriend and I are both vegan, and Bar Soba has a lovely vegan menu, but also has a good varied menu for the meat eaters. I know my birthday is supposed to be all about ME but I'm just so nice that we decided not to go to a vegan restaurant this year.  

Let me tell you another time about the year we were at a vegan restaurant and my uncle asked for egg and chips for dinner.  

Anyway, I had kappa maki sushi for starter:

And vegetable tempura katsu curry for my main:

Both were absolutely delicious, but the service at Bar Soba wasn't the best and the seats were uncomfortable.  I also felt like I possibly wasn't enough of a hipster to be there and I'm a vegan who wears red cat-eye specs, so there you go!  Also, why does Dundee not have a Japanese restaurant?  Or a vegetarian restaurant for that matter?  

The evening ended in the most bizarrely middle class way possible - having my Eiffel Tower shaped bottle of olive oil confiscated at Oran Mor.  Don't believe me?

Oh yeah.

I will be spending my weekend incubating my cold and reading season 8 of Buffy which I received for my birthday.  I'm only years behind everyone else.

How will you be spending your weekend?

Thursday, 15 November 2012


I feel a bit weird blogging about my Fibromyalgia as I've only recently been diagnosed, and don't quite feel like... I "own" it yet.  I also feel bad because I've heard so many horror stories about people taking years to get diagnosed and coming across horrible "medical professionals" who didn't believe it existed, yet my diagnosis was ridiculously easy. I think that's my (lapsed) catholic guilt coming out there!

I've previously blogged about having osteoarthritis in my temperomandibular (jaw) joints, and that has always caused other related problems such as neck/shoulder pain.  Due to my arthritis I have something called allodynia on the skin on the sides of my face, which means the skin is abnormally sensitive, which can make sleeping uncomfortable (to put it mildly).  This means I sleep in awkward positions which leads to the neck/shoulder pain.

I had been having pain in my left hand for a few months when I eventually went to see my GP (fortunately not Dr Twatface) who arranged for me to have it X-rayed. I called up a week later and was told the results showed everything was fine.  My GP decided it required more investigation and asked me if I had any other aches and pains.  I did.  A lot.  I'd been ignoring it for a long long time, but I was having pain in my feet, and my knees as well as the pain in my neck, shoulders and hand. My GP mentioned that she thought I might have fibromyalgia and decided to refer  me to a rheumatologist.

I had heard of fibromyalgia before, but didn't really know the full extent of it.   I went home and did what I always do - googled it.  I read the Wikipedia page about fibromyalgia and it felt like I was reading about myself, which really freaked me out.  I had to wait a few months for the rheumatology appointment and made a concerted effort to go into it with an open mind.

The rheumatologist apparently didn't have a particularly open mind as before I'd even sat down she said looking at my medical history, she thought I had fibromyalgia.  She did do a very thorough examination, eventually ending up with the fibromyalgia tender point examination.  People with fibromyalgia are known to have certain points in their bodies where they are exceptionally sensitive to pressure.  These points are shown in the diagram below:

I nearly went through the roof with the pain when she did this examination, and she was quite pleased with herself that she had proved her diagnosis correct.

She thought that the sleep disturbance caused by my TMJ arthritis had probably caused the fibromyalgia as my body wasn't getting enough deep restorative sleep, which causes all the aches and pains.  She prescribed me Pregabalin (which I had taken for my arthritis a few years before anyway) and said that I should always take some tramadol at bedtime, and increased my nortriptyline dosage.  With that she discharged me back to my GP as there was nothing else she could do for me.

I'm now on the highest dose of Pregabalin, and to be honest I haven't noticed much difference in my pain or my sleep pattern.  When I first started taking it it was making me fall asleep all the time and in general making me a complete space cadet, but now that it has settled down I have no idea is it's actually helping or not.  When I was stepping up each dose, it felt a bit like this;

I think the thing I struggle with the most is the effect of all of the illnesses combined and how they interact with each other.  For example - I have been being treated for hypertension this year and this meant I had to stop taking diclofenac (which was actually really helping my jaw pain) as it was known to increase blood pressure.  I also had to change from the combined pill to the mini pill and pee in a bucket for three days to send for testing.  Actually, now that I think about it, the hypertension has been the most irritating thing.  As well as the peeing in a bucket (I'm such a lady), I also had to wear a BP monitor for 24 hours (twice), where it went off every 15 minutes.  It was really fun explaining to people at work why my arm was beeping and inflating every 15 minutes.  Not.  I also had to travel to Perth to get my kidneys scanned (with a rather rough doctor), and had to get radioactive dye injected in my arm to check out my kidneys.  The result of all of this was (as usual) they had no idea what was causing the high blood pressure, so they sent me off with "medical mystery" stamped on my forehead.

The worst thing about the fibromyalgia is the unpredictability of it.  As I said, when I was diagnosed I was having pain in my hand.  My hand has been fine for the last few weeks and the new 'thing' is my right leg.  It is agony - even when sitting down.  I'm constantly having to move it/stretch it to try and get comfortable and it never is.  When walking, my hip starts to ache after about five minutes.  My right shoulder muscles are constantly out of place or in some form of spasm.  The pain in my shoulder has kept me awake all night more than once

I apologise for the depressingness of this post - I tried to cheer it up a bit with all the memes I stole from the chronic illness cat tumblr, which is completely awesome.

If you really want to know what it's like to live with chronic illness, you should read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino, it should honestly be required reading for all friends and family of us 'spoonies'.

If anyone has any questions, or any suggestions of things they would like me to go into in more detail, please leave me a comment below!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Only You Can Prevent Puncture Wounds.

Hi everyone,

This post is probably going to be a bit all over the place, there's just a lot of little things I want to talk about with no real links between any of them.  Sorry.

I recently purchased PC Stitch 10 which is a cross-stitch pattern making software.  Before this I was just using graph paper and coloured pencils like some kind of amateur.  Now that some mental people have decided to start paying for my cross-stitching services, I thought I was due an upgrade.  I posted this picture on Instagram after having a play around with it one night:
Went a bit overboard on the sparklies, because I'm new to Instagram and I'm trying to fit in with the cool kids (never going to happen).  I'm still feeling a bit baffled by PC Stitch as it's actually a lot more sophisticated than I was expecting, but I managed to draw out this pattern in about ten minutes which is a vast improvement on my pencil and paper efforts.  It doesn't help my inability to spend less than an hour picking out the perfect font before stitching anything.  I have a font choosing problem.  

Side note - my sister will probably kill me for this but a small part of me died when I found out she had handed in her dissertation using Comic Sans.  Died.

Another recent-ish stitching related purchase was some new embroidery scissors.  The scissors are great, but you know, not very interesting, what is interesting is the chain/holder thingy that came with them that is apparently called a 'chatelaine'.  It looks like this and it's how you can tell if I'm on 'cross-stitch duty' or not:
This was one of those 'I-didn't-know-I-needed-it-but-now-I-can't-live-without-it' type purchases. It's stopped me losing my scissors constantly (and I mean constantly) and only finding them when I (or more frequently my boyfriend) stepped on them.  I love this quote from the wiki page on chatelaines:
The name chatelaine derives from the French term ch√Ętelaine and was originally used disparagingly, as it referred to a device designed to have all the tools necessary for the woman of the household to sort out any problem she may encounter in her day, like a fraying curtain.

Now if only I could find something to stop me losing my needles and there will be much fewer puncture wounds around here.

I wish I was kidding.

There are a few local businesses/people that I wanted to mention.  The first is an 'independant bakeshop and cafe' called T Ann Cake.  I've been there a few times now and its just so cosy and welcoming. It feels like the kind of place that I could pop along to, on my own, get out my cross stitch stuff, and nobody would bat an eyelid. The decor is quirky and has lots of crafty bits and pieces on the walls.  The last time I was in I had a soya latte and pea and potato soup, both of which were delicious:

Check out the adorable 'at-your-grannies-for-tea' crockery and the heart 'latte art'.  The menu for T Ann Cake changes daily and Ann (the owner) posts it on Facebook at stupid o clock each morning when she gets up to start the baking.  As well as providing soy milk, every time I have been in there has been at least one item on the menu marked as vegan, and there is a vegan chocolate cake which they only seem to make on days when I can't make it in.

The other local thing I wanted to mention is Dundee's very own street style blog - Delta Street Style.  It's written and photographed by Christina Lindsay Miller who is a freelance style writer who writes for many publications such as the Huffington Post, Grazia, Vogue etc.  Christina takes her camera out and about in Dundee looking for stylish people in the City of Discovery.  I'm sure it's not her intention, but since finding Christina's blog it's made me think twice about just nipping into town with a hoodie on and not having brushed my hair.  Now I might put some lipstick on.

Scary fact - I moved to Dundee when I was 17 for uni and I turn 27 next week.  I love living in Dundee, but that was a quick ten years!  Speaking of my birthday - I've booked myself a swedish massage and deep cleansing facial at The Apex for my birthday (because I'm worth it).  Cannot wait.

This was the worlds rambliest post and I didn't actually think I had anything to say!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Confessions of a Chronic Pill Popper

To anyone passing me in the street I look like your average twenty something woman. The truth is that I don't go anywhere without a bag of drugs.  It comes to bed with me, it comes on driving lessons with me, it goes on quick trips to the shops with me.  Everywhere.

It looks like this:
Now to be fair it's only half filled with drugs, the other compartment is filled with the usual girly things that a normal woman carries around.  This is my third drug bag (as it's affectionately known), and it has probably doubled in size each time I've needed a new one.  Why?


First I got arthritis, and needed to carry all the drugs associated with that. 
Then I was diagnosed with hypertension and needed to carry all the drugs associated with that.  
Then I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and needed to carry all the drugs associated with that.

In the interests of my sanity I've never actually counted how many pills I pop every day, but I'm going to have a crack at it (don't you feel so privileged!).

Arthritis drugs:
  • Co-codamol - between 4 and 8 per day.
  • Tramadol - between 2 and 8 (worst day ever) per day.
Hypertension drugs:
  • Ramipril - 1 per day.
  • Amlodipine - 1 per day.
Fibromyalgia drugs:
  • Pregabalin - 6 per day.
  • Nortriptyline - 4 per day.
Anti-Baby Drugs (also a requirement of the hypertension drugs I'm on)
  • Cerazette - 1 per day

*anti-climactic drum roll*

Best day ever total = 19 pills
Worst day ever total = 29 pills

I'd say most days probably lie somewhere in the middle of the two. Also how depressing is it that I can't imagine a day where I'm not in pain and my 'best day ever' total still involves taking painkillers?

By the way - yes, I must rattle, ha ha ha.  Very clever.  Not.

Hey - I'm all up in your social medias!  Come follow me!  My facebook is on the right hand side of the page and I'm on twitter and instagram as @goramstitches.