Thursday, 30 July 2020

Podcasts

I'm quite 'old school' when it comes to a lot of things (ask my niece and she'll tell you I'm just "old" - not really sure why I like her!!). I enjoy opening up a paper/magazine to read through (not that I bother with newspapers any more as they're either too depressing, too political, or full of adverts). I still prefer the feel of a book to a kindle; I do have a kindle and use it often, however, when it comes to some books they just have to be held and have paper pages (I've had people say to me "well, what about the trees? A book isn't very environmentally friendly". Yeah, ok, so an electronic gadget full of plastic is more friendly than a book that can be recycled and turned into another book, is it?!!). There's something about walking into a book shop (independent, always - although there are very few of those to be found these days). Scanning the shelves looking for the one book you know you want, and getting your eye caught by one you've never heard of, yet know you now have to read. They also have that smell about them; it's kind of musty and not at-the-same-time. Kindles are ok if you're going away - much easier to pack 1 kindle with 30 books, than physically packing 30 books but it's just not the same sitting in the bath holding an electronic device. In my life, my world, Stephen King books will only ever be bought in hardback; there are some authors who should never be downloaded and electronic. 

A few people I know have those audio books - my Mum loves them, although the cost of them does put her off slightly. I looked into that audible for her once; figured at £7.99 per month that was a good deal, assuming that meant she got a book each month for the price. I assumed wrong. That's just for the app; you still have to buy the books. That soon went out-the-window. Thankfully, our local library do a good selection. Yes, Libraries; how those used to also be a joy to walk around. Highly frustrating too when you'd make a trip specifically to get a certain book, only to find someone just 10 minutes before had beaten you to it. I have discovered our library now has online services; I hope that doesn't mean they will end completely and everything will be digital, but I guess that's the way of the world now. I doubt half the kids in my town would even know where the library was. I can imagine the look on their faces if the mobile library was to park up in their area - I used to love walking up to ours once-a-month. It shook, it rattled, a few times when windy it gave the impression it was going to tip over, and you had to be able to breathe in if someone wanted to get by you, but it was great. I loved it. Then again, I've always loved to read, even from a very young age. Hence why coming into the digital age has been harder for me. 

That doesn't mean I'm not a listener. I would have a radio on all day if I could - can't have one on at work as I refuse to pay several hundred pounds each year to be able to listen to it (to be perfectly honest I think they should pay me, for if I did have one playing I'd be promoting their radio station and the artists they choose to play) but the second I get in the car the radio is on (when I've not connected my phone and am happy to listen to my playlists). As I've got older, I've naturally moved away from Radio 1, so radio 2 has been my preferred choice (unless I'm in a good digital area and then it's Planet Rock). On a Saturday morning when I used to commute to work I'd listen to Radio 4 (I know, and that was before I became middle aged). I love how music can take you straight back to a time-and-place long ago. I've always been really good at Mystery Years on the radio, because throughout my childhood and teenage years there was always a radio on somewhere (I find it so much harder to concentrate on anything when it's quiet; stick some music on in the background and I am good-to-go). Again though, it's always been about the music, not-so-much the talking. This is why when podcasts became popular I never bothered to try them. The thought of listening to someone ramble on about something made me feel quite sleepy, and it worried me that if I was to listen to one, I'd most likely nod off.

Last night though, sitting in bed writing my daily crap in my journal - something I've started every year since I was about 10 and never got passed February (until this year and I am still going) - when I thought to myself "I know, I'll try a podcast, just to see what they are like" as it was late and I wasn't really in the mood for music. 

Talk about overload. I had no idea where to look, whether I download an app, use the apple one, or go onto a separate website. There are hundreds of thousands of them out there. I'm going to have to have a chat with my brother (who I know listens to them often) for the best places to find them. I think I could spend all day and still not get anywhere (although I guess I could ask google). In the end I went to the BBC and had a look through some of theirs, eventually settling on a Miss Marple that was being read by June Whitfield (I know, of all the ones I could have chosen; being a complete novice I thought I'd start with something I knew a little about). Not sure if it was her voice, or just because of the mood I was in but I found myself really enjoying it. 

I don't know if they are going to become a part of my life going forward from here; I have just found a ghost stories one that's up to Ep 60 so we'll see how we go with that; after all, who doesn't like a good ghost tale? :) I'll let you know how I get on. 

Maybe one day I'll start up my own. I'm sure there are millions of people out there who would love to listen to a middle-aged woman who likes to rant about things of no significance!! 




Sunday, 26 July 2020

Menopause

As if having to deal with periods for the past 40 years (yes, I was just 9 years old when they began; thank goodness I live in a country where it’s not ok to take a wife at such an age. No way on this earth should a 9 year old be able to get pregnant) for an extra kicker, Mother Nature (who, at times, is a real bitch) then throws at us the “menopause” - although technically it’s not officially named that until after you’ve gone a year without a period/bleed; the stage which we all know and believe to be menopause, is actually perimenopause (my doctor took great joy in pointing this “mistake” out to me - he’s lucky I was having a good day; he might not be here now if I hadn’t been).

Also, why is it called MENopause? Surely it should be WOMANopause because believe me I’ve certainly taken a pause from who I was due to it; at least I’m hoping it’s just a pause. I guess it was named by a man.

So, what is it and what does it mean to people (females - is there any part of a woman that doesn’t come from man? feMALE, MENopause, woMAN - jeez talk about making themselves important)? I believe that's a good question (the what is it one, not the manly one) to ask, but can't answer for anyone other than myself.

What it is (according to the “experts”) is something that women will go through when they reach a certain age (some will start younger than others; some will have hardly any symptoms, while others will have loads). The only thing I can tell you is that it is currently the bane of my life and I can't wait until it is all over (sadly it has only just begun - well, it started 3 years ago, but as I've been told it could last me 15 years (and more) then it really has only just begun).

As I have said above, I can't speak for any woman other than myself, but I'm amazed at how many different things about me and my body that have changed in the past 3 years. How many different things I now experience that I have never done before. It's like I am a completely different person (a person I really don't like some times).

I have also learned the everything I was told about the menopause, and what to expect when I reached that age, is completely different to what I am experiencing. I only ever heard about the hot flushes, occasional angry/tearful outbursts and irregular monthly cycles. This appears to not be the case; there are more than just these 3 symptoms.

Below I have listed all the things I am currently experiencing. I really hope no more get added to the mix. I've tried not to be too descriptive (I could be a lot more detailed) when explaining the symptoms but at the same time I don't want to skirt around them; if someone had explained to me a little bit more I might have been better prepared and known what to expect when the time came.

Crawling

This is the oddest sensation I think I have ever experienced. It started back in the summer of 2016 when it was a lot warmer. At first I put it down to the heat, then I blamed my cat and dog saying they were obviously infested with fleas. A trip to the vets ensued, where I was told there wasn't a thing to be found on them (good job really or I would have wasted a fortune on flea treatments for them both).

Next I blamed washing powder and actually contacted the company whose product I use and have always used to see if they had changed any of the ingredients in their washing powders. They came back with a definite no.

An allergy test showed there was nothing wrong there either. This left just one thing. The Menopause. The itchy, crawling feeling I experience on a regular basis can apparently be associated with menopausal women. I had never heard about this sensation before. Whenever women I know that have been through all this were talking about their symptoms, not one of them ever mentioned the crawling.

It literally feels as though billions of tiny little insects are crawling all over, under and through the skin. The sensation is not just isolated to one part of my body either. It happens all over, from top to toe. The only thing that seems to help is by taking an antihistamine (although my doctor told me they probably only act as a placebo to my own mind, and aren't actually helping, as the sensation is not related to an allergy *point to note if you do take one, make sure it's non-drowsy if you're at work*. However; if taking one makes me think the issue is treated then so be it. Sod what some doctor says.

Flushes (Topical Moments)

Over the years I have worked with many women going through the menopause (what delightful working conditions I have dealt with at times). I have witnessed many of them having their hot flushes (or tropical moments as they are called these days). Oddly all these women appeared to experience them in the same way. They started by suddenly going very red in the face; next they would begin to fan themselves, before removing layers of clothing. This would be accompanied by them sweating quite badly (enough for it to run down their faces or for their clothes to get very wet at times).

I have not had this happen. While theirs seemed to work from the outside and top to bottom, mine come from within and start pretty much in the centre of my body. They start with the odd sensation of having wet myself (when I in fact haven't and am not damp in that area at all - sorry if that's too much info for some of you). I then feel my body warm from the inside, as if someone has lit a fire in the pit of my stomach, causing the blood in my veins to bubble slightly, before reaching boiling point. I end up feeling as though every part of my body is at this boiling point, except for the very outer layer of my skin which always feels icy. It's as if this icy layer is keeping the heat inside and not letting it escape. These moments can last anywhere from 5 minutes to several hours. I do get to the stage sometimes in bed where I suddenly have to rip off every item of clothing I may be wearing, before throwing the covers off; annoyingly though as soon as I do this (because of the icy feeling) I then need to pull everything back on and over. I don't seem to be able to find a happy balance between the 2 extremes of temperature. To feel boiling hot and freezing cold at exactly the same time is truly a very odd experience.

Irritability/Enraged Anger

I have noticed that for several days each month, I have the tolerance level of a bear that has been woken from hibernation with a raging toothache, or a wasp that has had enough of being swatted away from the pot of jam.

I've always been the kind of person that gets irritated by things quite easily, but could normally do other things to stay tolerant. Not any more. The things that just irritated me before, now wind me up to the point where I could happily bitch slap people; I've even been tempted to wrap a keyboard around someone’s head (the other day I had the urge to stab a screwdriver in someone's eye; thankfully I am still rational enough to know not to do that, but it doesn't stop me wanting to). I think out of all the bits and pieces I'm experiencing this is the worst one. I have no control over any of them (they strike when they want to). There are pills, creams or people to talk to when the others symptoms make an appearance, but this anger just comes from nowhere.

Talking to people about how I am feeling when this irritability hits me, just pisses me off more because they tell me to ignore it (if I could ignore it I wouldn't be getting so angry in the first place). Other people have told me to get some HRT but I remember when I was on the pill what taking things to alter your natural body and hormones can do; if I was to feel anywhere near the way I did when I was taking the pill then there's no way in the world I would take anything (. I was evil back then, with a capital E. I actually managed to lift a 22 stone man (I weighed about 9 stone at the time) out of the arm chair he was sunken in to by the throat, before dragging him into the kitchen. I was just about to bring the blade of a bread knife across his throat when my friend walked in and stopped me. If the people telling me to play with my hormones had known me then they would beg me to stay away from any kind of HRT. Thankfully the doctor has backed me up and told me not to take HRT anyway).

Tears

I knew that one of the symptoms was that some women become more emotional. As someone already that can cry at a movie (and who will never watch certain films because I know I will cry) I had prepared myself for this, or so I thought. I can cry at things that haven't happened yet. How mad is that? Just thinking about something bad that might (or might not) happen and I'm a blubbering wreck. Sometimes just sitting doing a crossword can bring about tears. There is no rhyme or reason to it at all. I can understand if I am watching/reading something sad or if I am talking about someone that is no longer here. But doing a crossword? Whatever is there to cry about when doing a puzzle? Oh no look, I got 3 down right, oops, here come the tears. It's absolutely ridiculous. How do you explain to someone when they ask what's wrong, that there is nothing wrong? I'm amazed I've not been committed to a mental institution at times.

Dryness - then not.

I'd heard about how some women suffer from a form of vaginal dryness (sorry to any males that may be reading from this point onwards, although it may help you understand your woman if you are :o) ) . Now as someone that's not currently sleeping with anyone (let's face it starting a relationship when I'm blowing from hot and cold each day would not be a wise decision) I didn't think this would affect me (just shows how even at my age it is still possible to be ignorant of things). When I'd heard about it I thought it meant you got a little dry in the old canal down there, meaning that it can make it painful when having sex. I didn't actually understand/realise it meant the whole of my vaginal area (inside and out) would become dry. I also didn't know that along with that dryness comes the itching. So bad sometimes I want to get a hair brush to scratch (not good when out and about). It can be totally unbearable one minute, the next back to being normal and moist. So very odd. The worst thing is I have long nails and sometimes I just have to scratch. I have been known to take the layer of delicate skin just inside the area off, causing an awful lot of bright red blood to appear. Really not a nice experience. I did think at one point that maybe a friend had crabs or something, and I’d caught them by peeing at their house (I don’t use public lavatories). I even went so far as to get myself tested at the clinic. No, nothing like that; just my womanly body doing womanly things.

Then for 6 days a month it all gets a bit gloopy - again, I'm sorry to any men reading. By gloopy I don't mean (what do I not mean?). It's hard to explain really. It feels constantly as if you are wetting yourself (thank goodness for tena lady :) ) yet there's nothing wet at all. The Tena's stay dry; the only thing that lets you know things are a bit off is when you pee and wipe - that's when the gloopy feeling/experience happens.

Hair (top and bottom)

"Some women may experience thinning hair" it said in a leaflet I read that the doctor gave me about the menopause. What it didn't mention is how, yes the hair down below may thin out a little bit, but that it might also spread further than it did before. At one time I had a nice, neat little triangle. I now have a triangle with a semi-circle shape at the top, and an extra trail on it that pretty much stretches all the way round to my butt. WTF is that all about? I know that some blokes when they go for waxing have a back, sack and crack wax, but I never believed that as a woman I would have to ensure such a thing (minus the back and sack.. haha). I can no longer go to the salon to be waxed due to the embarrassment of it all, and as such have had to invest in a bikini line trimmer that has an epilator attachment (I am sure you can only imagine how much water that can bring to the eyes when you reach the no-man's land area between front and back?). For those of you that have never used an epilator, grab some tweezers and pull several pubic hairs out at the same time - that will give you some idea. Then continue for every single hair you have :)

Then there is the hair upon my head. Thankfully that's not thinning quite as quick (although there are way too many grey hairs appearing at an alarming rate) but no matter what shampoo I use, I just can't get it to look clean. I can wash it, blow dry it, get it looking luscious, then half an hour later I look like someone has emptied a chip pan over my head. My fringe hangs in clumpy odd shaped pieces, that often stick further up my forehead, when it should be falling like a lovely shimmery curtain, ending just above my eyebrows (those things now have a mind of their own too and over night 6 inch ones that grow at random angles can appear). The rest of my shoulder length brunette locks (ok, ok, greying locks), that only minutes before had bounce movement and body to them, now just hang like damp streamers caught in a rainstorm. Add to that the exceptionally itchy scalp which brings about delightful dandruff style flakes, and you really do have a contradiction in itself.

I also now have a mustache that needs to be waxed at the salon once-a-month. Not a full-on bushy mustache, but enough hairs (thankfully very fine and pale ones) at the top edges of my lips to be noticable if I don’t get them seen to.

Memory

From being someone that had a cracking memory (other people used to tell me what they were up to weeks in advance so I could remind them) I now find myself in the position of having to set reminders on my phone, computer, on notelets dotted about, and tell other people what I'm up to, just to remember even the most mundane thing. To begin with I joked it was because I had so many different things to remember, but I know that's not the reason. I know it all connects with my Inability and Stupidity, which all lead back to menopause (at least I hope it's all part of the same thing; not sure I'm quite ready to be losing my mind just yet). It's amazing how quickly I can forget what I am doing too. I can go to the kitchen to put the kettle on and think of something that needs doing (that's a memory so it doesn't always fail me) but after doing that I'll go on to do something else. An hour or 2 later I might suddenly remember I was making a drink. It gets frustrating at work though as I should always be at the top of my game then. Having a bad memory at work is not a good thing and I've made some real newbie errors recently because of this memory loss (and as someone that's been doing the same job for 30 years a Newbie error is something I should ''never''' make).

Headaches

I've experienced hormonal headaches since I first became a woman (not that I was a woman when it all first kicked off; you can hardly call a 9 year old a woman) so I've learnt to live with and deal with them over the years. A minor one will go, a bad one will need a pill or 2 to get rid. A really bad one might require more than 2 pills, a bucket to be sick in and a dark room to lay down and hopefully sleep. The headaches I've had recently don't seem to fit in to any of these categories. They really are just an ache. A dull, thudding ache either at the back/top of the head, or behind the eyes but deeper inside the head. They don't require a pill as such because they don't cause any pain, but now and then a pill has been taken to see if it will remove it (it's more annoying than painful) however, so said pill has no effect whatsoever. It's all very odd; almost like the very first twinges of what could be an absolute corker of a head splitter, but it never gets any worse, yet doesn't get any better. It just comes at some point during the day, and leaves as quickly at another point during the day. It doesn't matter what I eat or drink. If one is going to appear it will, but I know it will leave equally as quickly as it arrives whenever it feels like it. Occasionally the beginnings of a migraine will start - those of you that have those will understand the kaleidoscope that goes on in your peripheral vision. If I catch them the second I get the first flashes I can avoid it being too bad, but let it go on longer than 3 minutes and I'll stick my head down the loo, pop a dozen pills and pray that the end comes quickly.

Terror/Paranoia

Sleep is something I don't experience much of (see the paragraph below) but when I do there are the nightmares; ones that can't be remembered upon waking, yet you know they were bad by the way it's hard to catch your breath. I can feel my heart not just pounding, it is literally beating against my chest with a sledge hammer to get out. The terror that opening my eyes or looking around the room is going to show something that I really don't want to see or couldn't cope with. Is there someone in the house about to axe me to death? or worse? All rationale goes out the window in those split seconds between waking and getting a grip back on reality; add to that any fears I normally have at the best of times, being heightened by 100 (or more) %. If you're afraid of the dark then begin sleeping with the lights on when menopause hits. If you have a fear of spiders (or any other creepy crawly, rodent, slithery thing) then get someone else to regularly check your house for these fears will be worse than they've ever been. Ghosts? do they exist? don't they? it doesn't matter. Any rhyme or reason will go out the window. I am a massive skeptic of anything paranormal, but during those waking moments after the nightmares I'd believe in anything. Thankfully the cold light of day puts everything back into perspective, however, at the time nothing will alter or take away those feelings.

Insomnia

I climb into bed tired; sometimes at the point of exhaustion as I've had a week of insomnia, nightmares when I have actually managed an hours sleep, tearful moments which add to the tiredness, and I am ready to close my eyes and not open them until the following morning.

My head hits my lovely soft pillows, my body sinks into my mattress. The room is pitch black. I close my eyes, I feel my body relax then my mind begins to drift. I'm falling asleep, then '''BOOM''' I'm wide awake. My eyes feel heavy so I close them again. I want to sleep. I know thinking about not sleeping will stop me, so I go through the relaxation techniques I have been taught. My feet relax, ankles, legs, my whole body is relaxed. My mind is silent, I'm about to drop. '''Wham''' it ain't gonna happen. Do I get up? Read a book maybe? Make a camomile tea? I've tried them all. Lavender (hate the smell but was willing to try anything). Geranium oil (in a red hot bath this helped relax me but again within an hour I was awake for the rest of the night). Calms, Sleep Aid, Doctor Prescribed sleeping pills. Nothing. It doesn't matter what I do, something inside refuses to let me sleep.

This lack of sleep at night then means at random points during the day I suddenly find myself almost at the point of nodding off; how is that ever a good thing? One minute bouncing around doing what needs to be done, the next my eyes tell me they're tired. Does that sound mad? My eyes tell me? They do though. It's a different kind of tired to the general *yawn, I'm tired*. Suddenly my eyes become heavy and ready to close; at these moments I could also cry very easily even when there is nothing to cry about it. It's as if my eyes are saying "If you won't let us shut for sleep then we'll just cry". It really is all very random.

Embarrassing

I really won't go into details on the boil sized cysts that make an appearance now and then in a very delicate area. Showing one of these to your doctor, expecting them to make you walk away with a big sign round your neck saying '''unclean''' is just the pits.

Thankfully the doctor said "oh poor you, one of the downsides of raging hormones I'm afraid. Try not to scratch them so they don't get infected; other than that there is nothing you can do to rid yourself of them. Do change to an antibacterial wash though rather than a regular shower gel, oh and '''don't''' keep washing a dozen times a day. That won't help. It's nothing to do with being unclean, it's purely a hormonal imbalance". Yeah right.

They can also be quite painful as they raise up from the surface. Luckily they don't hang around too long but anything over an hour is too much.

Inability

Oddly I can cope with most of these symptoms if I put my mind to it, but the mushy head drives me crazy. I used to be one of those people that no matter what was going on in my life, could still function in my day to day life and at work. At home I'd be a complete mess, but nothing ever affected my ability to do my job. Now? Nightmare. I have to write things down (see memory loss above), have made some really silly mistakes that should never be made, mistakes that the usual me would never have made. That is beyond frustrating. Those moments have almost on many occasions bought me to tears. It's just basic functioning. I could do my job with my eyes closed while doing handstands sinking in quicksand, backwards. Now to suddenly find that at times I am not capable of doing the most basic thing does my head in so badly it's unbelievable. As for any kind of concentration skills I may have previously had, they've gone right out of the window. I have the attention span of a teenage hormonal lad that's just watched a perfect figured 20 something female walk by in a bikini. A big fat Zilch. I can't even tell you how my accounts package at work can reduce me to tears, and if one more person tells me it's not difficult I will batter them with a big stick. With the old ‘me’ head I might agree with them, but inside this mushy head it's bloody difficult. Again this is wildly frustrating for someone like me that used to pick things up easily.

Stupidity

What a great one that is. I have this very day had one of those such stupid moments. All morning my shoe had been really tight on my foot to the point where it felt like it was really pinching. I assumed it was because I am wearing thicker socks than I had on yesterday. Turns out it's because I had the laces tied too tightly. All morning. 7 hours I was in them, for 7 hours they pinched. At what point did I become a stupid person that doesn't think to check the tightness of the laces, before looking for another reason as to why they pinch? It's these kinds of things that are so not me, well the me that hadn't reached this point in my life.

It wasn't until I got home the other night I realised I had spent all day at work with my top on, not only back to front, but inside out (thanks to anyone that saw me that day and didn't bother to tell me). How did I not notice? It was a v-neck top, not a bloody polar neck. One day recently I managed to put every single item of clothing on either inside out or back to front, although thankfully that time I noticed this myself before I left for work.

I've put my freshly made cup of tea in the fridge, and left the milk on the side. Not so long ago I forgot to take the microwave meal out of the metal dish it was in. Have you ever seen what happens when you set a microwave to high for 12 minutes and hit the start button? I don't advise trying it I must admit.

Flatulence

Another embarrassing one is the amount of wind that pushes it's way from my body. I'll admit I've never been one not to pass it now and then, but '''never''' to the levels since this all kicked off. Pre this age I might have been able to hold it in or be a bit more discreet. Now there is no hope of that happening unless I literally want to blow up (which would then make a real mess with my body parts splashed all over the place). Mind you I'd rather it come out than have the feeling of needing to let it go but not being able to. The pain of holding it in I can tell you resembles a mild period pain kind of ache.  

Indigestion

Not something I had ever suffered with in my old life (let's face it this is now the new me and my new life). Several times in recent weeks I've actually thought I was in the middle of heart attack (not helped by the bouts of paranoia that often take over me, which make me believe my time really is up even though I'm nowhere near ready for it to be right now). Thankfully a dose of one of those liquids that is meant to ease indigestion does help (as does a really good belch). At that point the pain goes and my head reminds me that I'm not in the midst of my untimely death. It can be quite frightening the first time it happens and I have a new sympathy for anyone that has ever suffered from indigestion.

Menstruation

Even more up and down than they were before - and they were bad enough. At least before I would get a period pain or 2 several days before it started. That could be every 9 days, or every 8 weeks. There was no pattern to them but the pain would give me the head's up. Now though, it just happens. Sometimes there are 15 days between one ending and the next beginning, other's there can be 40 days between the end and beginning, but they all just start with no warning. A couple last year lasted more than 50 days - FIFTY days and it was non-stop. No gradual buildup and slow down; just BOOM. For 50 days. The pain comes the day after now, by which time I have learned it's happening, because it's already happening. The ‘proper’ ones still last 9 days though - that much hasn't changed, and there is no build up or down, they start heavy, the continue heavy, and they remain heavy until they just stop. It costs me a fortune in sanitary products (which we have to pay VAT on because they're classed a 'Luxury' and not a necessity. How the FFFF can they be a luxury?). The non-proper ones can last weeks. I’m currently experiencing a ‘non-proper’ It started on Friday 3rd May (at the time of writing this it’s Tuesday 21st May). Every day since it started I’ve had to ‘be prepared’ which means using a sanitary napkin ‘just-in-case’ because one hour I may have a bleed, the next I won’t. One day I may have nothing at all (except when I wipe after peeing) the next I may have a full-on day (although this time I’ve not a full-on; yet). The non-proper’s usually last like this until what would have been my next due date when they will either stop, or produce a ‘proper’ period. Thankfully, I only get 2 or 3 of these a year, however, that’s 2 or 3 too many. No woman wants to be wasting money on having to wear a sanitary napkin every day just on the off-chance something may materialize.

Water

Another joyful experience is the swollen feet and *kankles*. I'd say it's due to water retention but I can still pee for England with much regularity so it's nothing to do with that. Before I might have blamed it on the fact I am on my feet all day but now I have people working with me I tend to spend more time sitting with my feet up doing paperwork, and all the boring crap that goes with it, but for several days a month no matter what I do, my kankles swell up, and I look like an oldie that's not been taking her water pills enough.

Cravings

Anything sweet (which for a savoury person is really quite concerning). Strawberry sour pencils are a particular fave (although I don't like how their outer sugary coating makes my teeth feel). Not just those though, I've discovered I also like mini caramel shortbread (never liked before) and rocky road bites are to die for. I could eat a dozen jam doughnuts in one go, and follow it up with sweets, and more sweets. I was always a savoury person before, only wanting anything sweet the day before the hormones kicked in. Now, I could eat sugary shit all day, every day, with the odd bag of savoury chips thrown into the mix. I was a fat bint before this all started; now I’m huge and yet still I eat. The constant feeling of being hungry never seems to go away. I’ve now cut out carbs though so all those sweet goodies are no more. 

Rashes

Another thing I have noticed is how a rash will suddenly appear for no reason. Nothing there one minute, the next there is a mini rash, or a couple of bite style looking spots that will itch like buggery. Half an hour later they will be gone again. Now to me if they were bites of any kind they would certainly hang around a bit longer than a few hours (and normally in my experience they need cream or an antihistamine to get rid of the things) but these just come and go. Anywhere and any when. On my arm, leg, back, I've even had them on my bum. Who would have thought such little things as hormones (what are hormones?) could cause so much chaos. These rashes are totally separate to the crawling skin.

Heartbeat

This one worried me for a while (so much so I made a trip to the doctors - ooh look there's that paranoia again) but every now and then the old heart rate seems to race (or feels like it's racing) as if I've just run a mile in 4 minutes, when I could in fact just be sat watching TV. Once this racing starts, it's slightly scary, sets off the paranoia, which in turn then causes the heart to race a bit more with the fear and extra adrenalin. It turns out this is all perfectly normal and to be expected. Now when it happens, rather than panicking (thinking I'm having a heart attack) I just take some nice deep breaths, and normally within a matter of minutes things are all back beating as they should be. Again though this is something I never knew could happen.

Eyes

A new symptom that started 4 months ago is dry eyes. This one scared me a bit at first as I have a friend who works tirelessly to raise money for brain tumour research and I got myself bang on that it was all to do with that, but it's another symptom - oddly it happens around the time the gloopyness happens. Basically I wake up in the morning and my right eye is so dry it feels as though someone's thrown sand in it. Occasionally it feels as though it has something in it, other times it's just the dryness. It lasts no more than half an hour, and if I rub it (stupid thing to do really with an eye) then it waters eventually and that sorts it again until the next morning. A couple of times I have woken in the middle of the night and experienced it (one day it even happened with the left eye) but it only lasts a couple of mornings a month and the rest of the time it's all normal.

Spots
As a teenager I was lucky enough not to have to worry about spots; a lot of my friends would get some quite nasty ones, but it was a very rare occurrence for me to suffer with such things. Not so much now. I keep finding (feeling to begin with) huge red angry looking things at the side of my nose and on my chin. They take days to do anything (other than look red and angry) and are not nice at all. They don't help the paranoia either as I feel like my customers are all staring at that awful red spot when I am serving them; how are they ever able to take me seriously when I am exploding like a recycled teenager?
That’s all

As you can see, I've been having some odd and different experiences since this all kicked off. I didn't have to share them with you all, but I was sat here waiting for the crawling feeling to wear off after taking another pill, so thought I'd explain to those of you that have been putting up with me recently, why I might be acting more strange than normal.

To any ladies that haven't yet hit menopause I hope I may haven't made you dread the inevitable even more; for all it's faults and annoyances I do know that in a few years (possibly 13 more) it will all be over-and-done with and life can return to normal.

To all you males that took the time to read through this, when your ladies hit menopause don't go giving them a hard time. Remember this thread and know if she is threatening to rip your head off, it may not be because you've done something, it could be because you've done nothing :)

I forget to mention (see memory) that I also, at times, lose the ability to spell or will miss out words. I find this really hard as I was always an exceptional speller yet now find I just can't remember how to spell certain things - even the most basic of words. 

So, you want to be a florist, huh?

2 things, on an almost daily basis, I hear in my shop; one slightly more than the other. The first one being "it will be a nice one, won't it?" (an alternative version of "make it nice" is grouped into the same bracket). I often reply "no, sorry, I only do bad stuff" - if I think the person saying it won't be offended (these days you can never be too careful). It's actually quite an insulting thing to say if you really sit and think about it. Good job we're thick skinned (this will be repeated in a different scenario further into this blog entry too). 

The 2nd is "Oh, I'd love your job. It must be so wonderful to 'PLAY' with flowers all day". One woman even said to me once "I wish I could just fiddle around enjoying my hobby all day for money". I'll be honest; I wanted to punch her. 

Yes, I have a great job (the best job) one of the most rewarding, but I promise each and every single one of you, 'Playing' with anything, is not part of my job remit. 

Let me explain.

This morning I've taken some photographs of my hands and forearms. I'd been at work for just over an hour when I took them and the first customer of the day said those words to me (the "I wish I was a florist" words). When I showed her my forearms, the look of shock on her face was one I would love to have recorded. At this point I had made only 2 holly wreaths - since then I have made another 3 dozen; I cannot share photos of how my hands and arms now look, for it may be distressing to some people to view. Each and every single red dot you can see, is where the sharp end of a piece of holly has burst a hole into my skin. The scratches were also caused by the ever-so-popular dark green, lethal plant (when I originally wrote this I had photos to go with it; since then I've deleted the blog and started a new one and those photo's have been lost in space somewhere!)

It's not all about this time of year though, about the holly stabbings and scrapings we deal with an on hourly basis - which by the way all have to be treated with antiseptic, just-in-case. It would take too long to constantly open up a tube of savlon, or germolene, so instead I have Surgical Spirit in a spray bottle, and after making a wreath, give my arms a spray. Try it sometime. Prick your finger, just one little prick, and then dab on some sugical spirit; then imagine you have a hundred of those pricks running up and down the inside of your arms, where the skin isn't quite so tough as your fingers. Welcome to the world of being a florist!! But hey, I'm just playing, right?

Of course, it's not always about this month, this time of year. Yes, this is particularly hard on our inner arms, but what about the rest of the year. Check out my gorgeous hand. I'm not a smoker, they are not yellow because of nicotine; they are that colour thanks to lilies and flower stems. Yes, that is spray paint on my hand. I spent 20 minutes last night with a nail brush scrubbing at my hand to get it off. In the end I saw blood, so had to stop; I'll try again later tonight to remove the rest. As for the ground in pollen and flower stem stains; well, they have to wait until I have enough time to soak my hands in bleach for an hour, to try and remove them. Still, I get to 'play' with pretty things all day, right?

So, how about the other stuff. How about the times I get to 'play' when I have people in the shop?

Let's take the man who was drunk the other week; to the point where he could barely stand. He thought it would be ok to pee on the plants I have out the front of the shop. He then came into the shop to tell me he'd done it, before throwing up on the floor and walking away. It's not the first time I've had that happen either, and this time of year the amount of alcohol fuelled people through the door trebles; none of whom are customers either.

Then, there were the 2 guys a while back. It was one afternoon when I found myself alone; outside had been wet and miserable all day, so it was dark by 4pm. All the neighbouring businesses were shut. It was just me and in they came. Tall, well built, they towered over me. They somehow managed to position themselves one either side of me, blocking my way out of the shop, and my way to the workroom or office where there is a phone. I don't think I have ever felt so vulnerable in my life as I did that evening, especially when the one furthest into the shop picked up the scissors I had been using and started opening and closing them, while they both questioned me about what kind of day I'd had, how busy I had been and whether takings were good. Now, I am really lucky in that 99% of my business is card based. If I take £50 a week in cash that's a lot, and I did point this out to them, but that didn't make me feel any safer. The obviously (thankfully) believed me though, for they said they'd get back to me on what flowers they might be wanting, and then left. Still, at least I get to 'play'. 

How about the days when I'm not quite feeling it? Let's take the day I got a call from my best friend to tell me the guy that I most likely would have ended up married too, had been found dead that morning - he was just 26 years old. My boss was away, there was just me and the office girl at work. I had to carry on through that day, a 10 hour shift, wanting to be anywhere but where I was. I remember one particular guy coming in that day being a right twat going on about buying some roses for his girlfriend. I wanted so bad to tell him to "fuck off" but I couldn't do that. That would not have been acceptable, so I stood there, for over half-an-hour with him, thinking himself funny, when a big part of me had just died inside, and my heart had been ripped from my chest. Fast forward a few years, and the daughter of my best friend (the one who had called me that morning with the news) was calling me to tell my that very same friend, the one I had spent over 20 years laughing with, crying with, was going to have zimmer frame races with when we were 90, had just died - she was 42. My only thought in that moment was getting down to her children (20, 12 and 9) and as I was just about to lock the shop door a family arrived, wanting to order flowers for their 98 year old Nan's funeral. I stood, I served them, they were in bits, and I wanted to scream at them about how their Nan had at least lived her life, yet I couldn't; when in a florist you have to behave in a certain way. Just last year - the 23rd December to be exact - I found myself in bits. My much beloved dog had been put-to-sleep the evening before after I finished work (I'd lost my cat just 5 months earlier; 2017 was not a good year). That day I dealt with drunks, people wanting Diamonds for the price of glass; my arms were ripped to shreds so bad I was covered in plasters, I was knee deep in leaves and stems where I'd not had chance to tidy (it was exceptionally busy); there were orders still to be made up for the drivers to take, people coming in wanting things "now" and getting shitty with me because I didn't have time to stop and make what they wanted immediately (I can perform miracles, still struggle with the impossible)  and some woman said to me "I'd love your job; such an easy thing to just play around with flowers all day". I wanted to beat her to within an inch of her life, and I am not a violent person.


Thankfully, the day my Dad died I wasn't at work; however, I'd been there to take the call 18 months before telling me he'd just had a heart attack in a city 2 hours away. I had a boss back then though, and was lucky enough to have been able to leave and go up to him. 

How about these (see the photo below). These are pretty, aren't they? Surely, I got to 'play' thanks to those? That depends on your definition of the word 'play' because before I could make any of these, I had to deal with the grieving relations of the 2 year old little girl whose funeral they were organising the flowers for. Now, while some of you may then see me 'playing' whilst making the tributes up, to me all I could think about was how a family were in the deepest depths of grief and that I should never be having to make any tribute for such a little person. If that is me 'playing' to you then you seriously need to think about what kind of person you are. Roughly 50% of my daily life is dealing with families at the most vulnerable and emotional time of their lives. I've had people in the shop so consumed by their grief they have been literally breaking down and falling apart in front of me, yet there I am 'playing' away. 


I'd love to come into work, pick up a few flowers and play; how great would that be? In order for me to do that though, somebody else would have had to scrub all of the vases, top them up with water, empty them every-other-day and repeat the scrubbing/watering process. Someone else would have had to take each wrap of flowers, strip off every single leaf which will be below the water line, then cut them, place them in a vase, and rearrange them on the flower stand, each-and-every day. In order for me to 'play' someone else would have to answer the phone (one lady this morning talked for 7 minutes before I even got a chance to speak) sweep the floor (many, many, many times) and serve the customers who walk through the door. They'd also have to write the cards, keep social media up-to-date, and keep an eye the bag of stems and leaves which are slowly beginning to rot in the bin bag (composting spores can be quite hazardous) . Someone else will have had to counsel the grieving families who have been in to organise funeral flowers for their loved one and someone else will definitely have had to try and steer the local lady who has mental health issues and no understanding of acceptable boundaries, from getting up into the face of that grieving family before she can ask them "has someone died?" and "are you sad they are dead" usually followed by "how did they die?"

Will you be happy to spend 9/10/11/12-16 hours each day, 6/7 days per week, on your feet (which will be pretty much constantly soaking wet from all the water you are working with - you may, on occasion also need to wear support tights; not comfortable attire). Will you be happy to have hands so cold during the winter (there's no such thing as a heater in a florists) that you cut straight through your fingers and stab yours palms without realising you have done so until you start to notice there is blood dripping everywhere?. Will you be able to smile your way through serving a bigoted, racist homophobe, so he goes away thinking you genuinely like him (a florist has to deal with such things and smile sweetly; it takes 100 customers saying good things to earn you a new customer, but just 1 saying bad things to lose you 100 - believe me, 'sucking-it-up' is one of the hardest parts). Will you be able to put up with a Valentines Day (every person regardless of their job should have to do at least one Valentines Day in a florist - the respect we would suddenly earn would be priceless). Will you be able to stay professional at all times, whilst counseling a family through their grief?. Can you switch off your own emotions/feelings the second you walk through the shop door?. Can you cope with people constantly telling you how easy you have it? Will you be happy with people constantly telling you that you are "ripping them off" - a plumber or electrician charges you £80 just to come out to your house, before they've even done anything, whilst you, a florist (who has also trained for as long) is expected to work for nothing?. Will you be happy explaining (many, many times each day) the difference between supermarket flowers, and those from a florist (by-the-way - if the grower wants 20p per flower and the supermarket wants to pay 10p per flower, then the florist is charged 30p for the SAME flower, to make up the difference the grower has lost; that is why we have to be more expensive - we've paid three times as much). Will you be willing to tell a customer that the particular flower they ordered just the night before (which you never guaranteed in the first place) hasn't been available for the wholesaler to purchase which will then leave you subjected to all manner of abuse?. Will you be able to keep your calm, on one of the most stressful days of your personal life, while a bride emails you 32 times, asking you the exact same question just in different guises, when you have already explained to her (before she even began the emails) that the flower she wants, does not exist, at all, in the real world?.  If you are happy with all-of-the-above and willing to never drink a hot drink again, and don't mind leaves, spiders, worms and bits of stem in those cold drinks, then maybe, just maybe, you too could begin a life 'playing' with flowers.

Oh, and I do all of this (and so much more) for just 2.36 per hour. But hey, I get to play all day with flowers, right, and am out there making a fortune from my hobby?



                          
                 

Friday, 24 July 2020

Book Review

I wrote a book review earlier; actually I wrote a couple, for I have (in the past 3 weeks) read 3 books. Not a big thing to many of you, but to me, that's something I am more than chuffed about. I used to read a couple of books each week, then life, work, and all manner of other things seemed to get in my way, and for over a year I didn't read anything. That didn't mean I wasn't still buying them though; in fact I ended up spending money on a kindle (something I said I would never do as I love the smell of bookshops, and the feel of the pages beneath my fingers) becuase I just don't have enough room to store any more (physical) books. 

Whilst away last month I made a point of taking a book with me and I intended to read it; all of it, and I did just that. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy sitting down with a book. The escapism they offer (if reading a work of fiction), the chance to get to know someone, or something, better, if reading a biography/autobiography (not always a good thing; ended up not liking Patrick Swayze at all after reading his). I'd forgotten what it was like to just sit; to immerse myself in a world away from my 'norm'. 

I'll read allsorts; fiction, historical, and (as said above) bio/autobiographical. Technical books not-so-much, because, let's be honest, they do not make an ounce of sense to me (it goes in, rattles around the emptiness, goes back out again). My favourite author is Stephen King, my all-time number one book is IT, by the said, Mr King. That does not mean I like everything he writes; whilst I will read all of them (occasionally not getting past the first 20 pages) he has written some real stinkers - The girl who loved Tom Gordon was shockingly bad. However, when he writes a good one, he writes it better than good. He's classed in the "horror" genre, yet I've never once read one of his books and felt as though I am reading 'horror' in the sense of the general word. I've heard people say IT terrified them. I found it fascinating. I guess some of that was down to being able to relate to the characters. I'd grown up in a similar area to the setting of the book, hung out with my friends in a similar fashion. I saw it more as a coming-of-age book, rather than horror. In fact, other than the murders (which were awful) I don't think there was anything remotely scary. If I was forced to read it every week for the rest of my life, I would do so quite happily. I have, in fact, read it 5 times in total, so far.

Another book I've read several times (3, to be exact) is Where White Men Fear to Tread. A friend bought it for me as she knows I love to read about, learn about, try to understand, Native Americans, their cultures and how they've been persecuted over the years (I am blessed to have several native friends in my life, one of whom is my go-to-guy for everything that is going on in my life; I'm not sure I would even be here without him). I'd heard "Russell Means" through a couple of my friends, so when she gave me his autobigraphy as a gift I couldn't wait to get it open and start reading. I found the man an absolute arrogant arse who (I believe) sold himself out to the very people he spent so long fighting against (some of my native friends have met him (he's passed away now, sadly) and said I was right to think that way - other's have told me he was like a messiah to them; each to their own) yet at the same time I loved reading the tale he had to tell. I loved his passion for what he was getting up to, he believed enough to go out in the world to try and make a difference. It was so contradictory, yet I couldn't put it down. Even if you don't know anything about Native history, go out and have a read. You will not be disappointed. It's eloquently written, and with a prose that is easy to follow. Half the time I felt as though I was there with him, standing by his side. He was an exceptional story teller. 

These were good books; these were books which got awarded 5 stars. On the whole, I find I award around the 3 star mark, however, there have been a couple of times when I've given only 1 star (The Woman in Black was a bitter disappointment) The comments below the review made for a far more interesting read than the book itself; as you can see, one woman was not happy with me; part of that though, was also down to another book I only gave 1 star - the book this blog entry is all about. If I could have given is MINUS 10, believe me, I would have done. The other woman having a dig I think just wanted to jump onto the bandwagon; I considered letting her comment slide, then decided to have a nose at her reviews. Once I'd seen what she had to say about writers, I then returned a comment. I, personally, think she was probably another of the trolls who crawled out of the woodwork when the review I left (the one I haven't got to yet, which this post is about) was placed on the site. Good lord, there was a lot of 'trip-trapping' going on over those bridges for a while, that's for sure.

So, there I was, back in 2012, looking for a new book to add to the collection. Liking a good 'creepy' tale I found myself in the ghosty/ghoulie section, and one called "A true haunting", by a guy in the USA, jumped out at me. I had a look through the reviews, saw they all said it was a good book, so invested my hard-earned money in a copy. There are several reasons why I now wish I hadn't bothered. 

1) The book was shit.
2) The abuse I recieved for weeks after leaving my view was unprecedented, and something I had never experienced before (and I spent my whole childhood, and half of my adult life being bullied, in one-way-or-another).

Turns out the author didn't like my review; neither did his family, friends, their family, their friends, their workmates and their family and friends..... I could go on and on. There were so many of them, and not one of them had anything nice to say to me. In fact, they were all quite foul. It got so bad that in the end I deleted my review; it just wasn't worth the hassle and abuse I was recieving. Some of them even told me they were going to visiting the UK in the not-too-distant-future and would enjoy tracking me down; yes, it really was that bad. In the end I decided the abuse I was getting really wasn't worth a few words I'd written on Amazon, so I removed it. Cowardly, or just easier? Once it had gone, the abuse stopped. I then deleted my account and any information realting to it. I changed my email address and closed down every single profile I had on the internet; some I deleted, some I set to "friends only" - not that that works on Facebook (even though I have my friends setting to me only, and my friends have theirs set the same, we still get offered up as "people you may know" on their friends; seems pointless having a privacy setting when they pull you out anyway, but that's a blog post for another day).

It wasn't until a week after I'd removed it, that it finally struck me, I had just bowed down to bullies, albeit ones who had threatened to do more to me than the kids at school had done. It was at that moment I realised why the book only had 5 stars. They were either written by one of the family/friends who enjoyed havnig a go at me, or those same people had hounded and harrassed every other person who (like me) had not given it the star rating they believed it should have. It was in that moment I realised that review (as it was originally - I keep copies of everything) needed to go back onto the site, or I was letting them win. How could I look the kids in my in the eye when telling them "stand up for yourselves; don't let those big kids bully you" when I was allowing the "big kids" to bully me. For christs sake it was just my thoughts on a book; it's not as if I signed his Grandmothers death warrant. 

In a weird way though, they did me a favour, for not only did I not let them win, it also stirred something within me that had not been there before and I began to see things (and people) for who they really are. People I was allowing to bully me in my every day life. It took me a while to finally rid myself of those people, but I am sure it was finding the courage that day to repost my review, that helped me to finally stand up for myself, to the point I was able to say enough-is-enough when the time was right. I guess I owe each-and-everyone of those who sent me such venom via the interweb, a thank you. They helped to shape the person I am today. 

Want to know what I said about the book? Click Here and have a nosey.

Time Travel

time slip, dream, or just completely weird and way out there? 

For about the past 3/4 months I've been suffering with a bad knee - I slipped walking the dog a few years ago (when I say slipped, I actually tumbled down a bank and landed 20 feet below with my foot up behind my back - I also suffer with sciatica) and since then, on-and-off it's been playing up, getting progressively worse these past few months. I woke up at 2am on New Years Day morning and the pain was so intense it was taking my breath away. I hobbled to the bathroom (a woman of my age can never sleep all night !!) and when I got back into bed wasn't able to get comfortable in any way at all. Every position I laid, or put my leg in, just caused me more pain. Eventually though I fell asleep (or did I?). 

I found myself sitting in a high back red velvet chair, infront of roaring fire with an 8ft high stone fire surround which was about 12ft wide. To my left was an empty sofa also in the same fabric, and to the left of that was a long window made of 3 rectangular panes all of which had diamond shaped leading. Directly the other side of the window was a road, with a house opposite, also on the road. I got the feeling it was sometime in the 16th/17th century. 

The chair was just like this but in a blood red velvet. The sofa was similar but with a lower back, quite square and a with a bit more padding at the back of it (they matched, yet didn't at-the-same-time).


Suddenly something caught my attention out the corner of my left eye, and when I looked, a witches broom was spinning around so fast it was creating a whirlwind effect - I couldn't see the bottom of the broom, only the handle, but I knew what style it was; I could also hear the noise as it whooshed. The handle never once dipped, remaining upright the whole time. Seeing it terrified me and for some reason I held out my left hand with my palm facing the broom directly (very Yoda style) and yelled out "no" at which point it stopped spinning, I realised I was awake and the pain in my knee vanished. That quickly; as soon as the broom stopped spinning so the pain disappeared. It's not hurt since.

The broom spun like this - although, as I've said, I could only see the handle.


The room was very similar to this without the rug on the floor and the windows were lower. The outside photo is reminiscent of how the outer of the house looked.



For the record; I am extremely sceptical of all things paranormal (as you will see if you read my post on Ghosts: DNA)


The photographs in this entry were not taken by me and were found via a google search - they were not linked to any page, or photographer for me to track back too. 

Ghost: DNA

Back a long time ago - well, a few years really - I believed in the world of the 'paranormal'. I'd often be asked things like....

Do you believe in ghosts?   Yes
Do you believe in reincarnation?   Yes
Do you believe in poltergeists?   Yes
Do you believe in tarot cards?   Yes
Do you believe in mediums?  Debatable, but I wanted to believe some could communicate.
Do you believe in alien life?  Yes
Have you experienced de ja vu?   Yes.

Whenever asked the question: Do you believe in god?  The answer was, and still is, NO.

My answer regarding alien life hasn't changed either; I do not believe we are alone in the universe. For the rest of the questions though, I now answer: no, not really, with the exception of de ja vu, although as you will see if you continue reading, I have a theory relating to this.

Part of this change was down to completing a paranormal investigation course. This taught me to ask questions, look for logical reasons; part of it was because I was sitting one day, thinking about my family tree, when an idea/theory struck me, and now it all makes perfect sense to me.

A ex-friend of mine had a theory that ghosts were part of a time slip, and this made sense to me to (at least, he tried to lead me to believe it was his; turns out it was Albert Einstein who came up with it - nothing like taking advantage of an unread person!! thank goodness he's no longer part of my life). We, the people, however, have created time, and it is relevant only to an individual at any one moment. To me, today, an hour is feeling like 10 minutes. To someone sitting in a hospital bed, that hour could feel like 3. To a child waiting to go on a holiday to Disney, it could feel like a day. Each year we are able to manipulate it - the clocks going back-and-forth; also, every now-and-then, GMT is held up for 1 second, so time, really is irrelevant, in the grand-scheme-of-things. It is a man-made creation. Something invented to make life easier to understand, to give us all some kind of structure, so having bends in those times is a perfectly acceptable, and sensible, idea. He believed that when a bend happens, we can appear in the past, and people from the past can appear in the future (appear to us). We believe we are seeing a ghost, as, I expect, do the people from the past. This could also be how some people claim to have been able to see into the future. Most of these sightings don't last for long, but they last long enough to convince the people witnessing them that they have been visited by someone 'other worldly'. I think this is also why children can have 'imaginary friends', who, for the record I don't believe are imaginary at all. However, because a child has no concept of time, it would be far easier for them to encounter (and deal with) a time slip (or bend) than for those of us who have been conditioned to dispel as we get older. I believe this is why so many children appear to have a 'psychic' sense too.


Then, there is the Stonewall Theory (now called the Stone Tape Theory - I'm sure one day we'll have to change it to Stone Streaming Theory!!). This one also makes good sense; let's face it, often people in old buildings will see things, the same things, repeated time-and-time again. Surely, if such a thing as a ghost existed, they would be able to move about freely? Yet, so many ghost sightings are different people, on different days, in different years, seeing the same thing that someone else has seen. This fits in with a bend in time, and the stonewall theory perfectly. All those people are seeing is a visual replay of something that has happened.

Don't get me wrong; I have seen things, many times, but I think now, either of the above theories are the reason why. I either entered a time slip for a second (or more) or was in an area where stonewalling is prevalent. Let's face it, anyone of us who has seen something, normally only see the most fleeting of glimpses. Whilst sometimes, it may appear as though you are interacting with them for ages, in reality, it's probably only really a matter of seconds.

Sometimes, dare I say it?, they are even down to our own imagination. We may catch sight of something (corner-of-the-eye) that we aren't sure of, so our brains translate it for us into the most logical of images that we can make some kind of sense of it.

Now, let's get onto the Ghost; DNA, which actually isn't ghostly at all - I just wasn't sure how else to title it!! I guess I should have called it De Ja Vu: DNA, but ghosts grab more attention, and as an attention seeker (why else would I sit here writing this if I wasn't?) I want the headline which is going to give me the most readers. This also relates to those people who have never been somewhere, yet know exactly where they are, or children who claim to have lived before (and adults I guess who believe they have been reincarnated). I don't (for one second) now believe that they have lived before; at all. What I do believe in though, is their DNA: their genetic makeup. Let me explain.

We are all created (not by god) but by our parents; the male sperm, the female egg. Even those of us who may have been created in a test tube will still have a female egg and male sperm (unless, of course, you are a clone!). As a result you have your own DNA, but you also inherit a little of your parents. As they have inherited their parents, it stands-to-reason, that we too, may also have a little of them in us, and so it can go on. Who's to say we don't have just one tiny molecule of DNA we have inherited from a 30 times great-grandparent? It only needs to be the tiniest of pieces, but if it's from them, and now in us, then surely there is a chance at some point we could be somewhere they visited in their lifetime, and that's how we know we've been there before. I'm not sure how it works exactly, even the best scientists in the world can't tell us how the human mind works, but something, somewhere, triggers that memory (or moment) in that tiniest piece of DNA you have, and to you it feels like your memory (because you/we know no different) and yet, it's not yours at all, but that of an ancestor of yours.

I've experienced it myself before. As a child (around the age of 6 or 7 - before my brother was born at my age of 8) I visited Banbury in Oxfordshire with my parents. I had never been there before, yet when we arrived at a certain point I felt I had been there; I recognised buildings. How could that be? It's not a place I had been taught about at school (I was still in Juniors/Middle School then - we didn't study geography at that point). My Dad said "right, let's see if we can find somewhere to get a cuppa and slice of cake". I then told him about a lovely little shop that sold the best homemade cakes, and explained exactly how we needed to get there. My parents were great, understood I was a little 'wacky' at times, and so followed my directions, which lead us straight to the shop I had told them about; the shop I had seen and visited before. The shop which had been trading for over 50 years and hadn't changed that much at all (bear in mind, I visited in the 1970's - things/buildings and the way things were made back then didn't really change much; it's only in the past 20 years with all our modern gadgets that we've changed how we make things, and modernised our buildings). For years this experience baffled me. How did I know it was there? How had I seen it before? Then, when my DNA theory popped into my head, it all made perfect sense. You see, my Maternal side of the family were born and raised in a place called Burford, in Oxfordshire, which is less than 25 miles from Banbury. Could it be that a relation of mine, someone who I share my DNA with, had visited Banbury, and the cake shop, and my being there triggered that small DNA molecule which meant I knew where I needed to be?

Another experience I had once (which wasn't de ja vu as I didn't feel I'd been there before) took place in Burford, roughly 12 years ago. Long after my Banbury experience (when, for the record, I knew nothing about my family growing up in Burford; I believed them all to be from Newbury in Berkshire). 15 years ago my brother started to research our family tree (most interesting it all is, too). That's when he found out about everyone in Burford, and for some reason a woman called Emily stirred something within me. One Sunday I took my Mum and we headed off to meet my brother in Burford (first time either of us had ever been). At the entrance to the church my brother said to me "ok weird one" tell me where Emily is buried then. I stood at the side entrance to the grounds, having never been there before, or having seen any kind of layout plan to the place, and directed him (in one go) straight to Emily's grave.  How was I able to do that if I'd never been there before? My great grandfather was her 1st cousin; she died when my Nan was in her early 20's. As the family all lived within walking distance of each other, and in those days families included immediate (as well as) distant cousins, it stands to reason that my Nan went to her funeral. My Mum was born 12 years after this, has my Nan's DNA in her, as do I. Emily's parents are in the same cemetery but they have no headstone and the parish records were all but destroyed so there is no record of where they were buried, but I found myself drawn to one particular spot (under a tree) and am convinced (even to this day) that they are buried there. Had I been there before? Or was I picking up on a residual memory from my grandmother and great grandfather, whose DNA flows through my veins?


I've lost so many people in my life I would dearly love to believe they have the ability to come back , visit us, let us know they are safe, but sadly, I am unable to. Nothing (as yet) has ever proved to me it's possible and the older I get, the more I realise there are many more plausible reasons why we see/here/know things.