Writing Wednesday – Part 3

Vlogs, Writing & Blogging

Writing Wednesday FranceHow about some writing for pure escapism? This week we look at just that as well as looking outside yourself for inspiration and the trend that is ‘nature writing.’

As promised in the vlog below, here are some pictures that I have taken during my break in France to offer you some more inspiration for your pure escapism writing – should you need it!

Have a look and let me know what inspires you and what you would write for escapism.

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Sun, Sand & Septicaemia! (part one)

Cancer & Me, Health & Beauty, What's Happening?

Well that was NOT part of the plan when my family and I decided to go on a dream family holiday to Mauritius!

My husband and I worked, saved and planned for months. We were so excited to finally be going and once there, it was as close to paradise as I could have hoped. We were all having the perfect time – until…

A few days in I started to feel unwell.  There was a medical centre on site and a nurse gave me some rehydration sachets.  I did keep saying that it felt more like a bladder infection but it was considered dehydration.  I know that with a colostomy dehydration is an extreme issue, so I was furious with myself that I had become dehydrated.  But the sachets didn’t help, in fact when I tried to drink one, I instantly threw it back up again – sexy!

Back to the medical center where it was agreed – it was a bladder and possibly now a kidney infection as well but not to worry, oral antibiotics and you should feel better in a day or two.  Sorted.

Not so.  By the next day I was convulsing, vomiting and had a temperature of 40c.  The medical team sent me straight to hospital.  I can’t lie, the journey to hospital was petrifying. It was an hour and a half away. I had to go by taxi on my own because it was too far for an ambulance to come and Husband had to stay with the kids. I had no idea what to expect when I got there – a posh private clinic, or like something off an episode of panorama.  The hospital was fine, basic, but fine and the staff were really wonderful.

Arriving at hospital I was delirious and writhing in pain. The doctors wouldn’t give me any medication until they ran tests, sorted my insurance and had my passport so the next hour was pretty awful and involved a lot of tears as I played the worlds smallest violin to myself.

Quick side note: I couldn’t be admitted until my insurance was sorted and they took my passport as a guarantee of payment which I didn’t have with me, the nurse seemed to think  couldn’t be admitted (more crying/violin playing) until thankfully someone was able to come and help me be admitted without my passport.  There was security on all the doors so no one can leave and they only removed the drip and cannula once the bill has been paid.  I understand why, but I really was reminded how lucky I am to live in a country with a National Health Service.  It might not be perfect but at least you never have to fear being turned away from a hospital like I nearly was, or worry about paying the bill – that truly is amazing.  But anyway – back to the story…

I was diagnosed with a chronic bladder, kidney and blood infections – septicaemia.  It was the septicaemia that was causing the convulsing and fitting.  I had non-stop drips running for three days with antibiotics, liquid and painkillers.  Honestly I can’t explain how ill I was.

The only other time I have felt that bad was when I was having chemo and a junior doctor gave me the wrong amount of morphine and I overdosed.

Because the hospital was so far from the hotel, it wasn’t easy for my family to visit so I spent most of the three days I was in there contemplating being severely ill again. Obviously it’s not like my cancer was back but being hooked up to machines day and night, having numerous scans and tests – it all felt far too familiar and took me back to an emotionally dark place.

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Getting to sit and watch the sunset

As there was a medical centre at my hotel, my consultant (after quite a lot of negotiation) agreed to let me convalesce in the hotel with the medical team supporting me.  I couldn’t get out of bed and was on a lot of medication but who cares… I was back and with my family for the last few days of holiday.

The day I was released I saw a blog post from Consciously Healthy which seemed to sum up just how I was feeling.  The author Emma was reflecting on how after a long recovery, she stopped giving her mind, body and soul the attention it deserved, till eventually her body gave-way again.  This was exactly how  felt.  I know I didn’t have cancer again and my life is full of people and things that I love, but slowly my life had returned to crazy busy with little down time and having septicaemia made me realise it was time to have a little rethink!

I will be writing more about how and ‘if’ the rethink happened in a few days so check back or sign up for part 2…

Are there any times in your life when you have had a rethink?  Or any tips for anyone else having a rethink?  Please leave a comment and share you stories with us.

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With love XX

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That Dreaded Day

Cancer & Me, Journey Back to Health

There is a time in every cancer survivors year when a dreaded day (or two…) comes around.  They are of course the dreaded check-ups!

I remember the first time I had to go back for a check up, pushing back the tears as I arrived the hospital.  The familiar sights and smells… immediately I felt like I was driving back for yet another chemotherapy appointment or to get some more “it’s worse than we initially thought” type horrible news.

I have gone so far as to actively try and avoid these dreaded days but they always catch up with you, usually encouraged by husband saying “Nic, what’s happening with your appointment?”  “seriously Nic, what’s happening?”

Well I couldn’t make the last appointment so I will rebook… you know…. next month… or maybe the month after… no rush hey?!

“Actually Nic – yes, there is.  Your delaying the inevitable and if there is something wrong, the sooner you find out…”

So annoying when ‘people’ are right.

The problem is the nerves don’t start as you get to your appointment.  They probably start about a month before, when you know the appointment is coming.  It’s not like it’s consuming my every thought or anything but it’s just… there.  It’s like a star that’s about to collapse -it has a fire burning inside and the stronger it gets, the more it silently consumes itself from the inside.

So that is where I have been for the last few months.  Burning up and having check-up’s which have confirmed I am still all clear (yay).

I have also been having some internal scar tissue (that has been problematic ever since the surgery and continues to be so) treated – basically the scar tissue in my cervix is growing abnormal cells which if left could turn cancerous… seriously…  You have to love the irony – it won’t because they are all over it but still… It’s surprisingly all-consuming when these dreaded days are going on.

But I’m back, and wondering, is there anything that you would specifically like me to write about over the coming weeks?

If not I shall be left to my own devices – equally fine.

But, as I say, it has not been all bad by any means- quite the opposite in fact, so here are some photo’s from my wonderful mothers day surprise – an awesome day out with my lovelies.

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The Silent Cancer Side Effect – Fatigue

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me

Just to be extremely clear, fatigue is not the same as being really, really, really, tired. It is more than that, and takes hold of your whole being, physically and mentally. Anyone who has had children will probably know what I am talking about, right?  But it’s permanent.

Fatigue takes a toll both physically and mentally. If you are anything like me you are completely hopeless after a bad nights sleep. With fatigue it feels like that all the time, times a million.

Even simple activities, or activities that you wouldn’t normally consider taxing like watching a movie or reading a book can suddenly feel like way to much and like it would require far too much effort.

Signs Of Having Fatigue

  • You don’t feel anymore restored or awake even when you have had a good nights sleep.
  • You feel like nothing can restore your energy.
  • You are often unable to finish tasks, even when you desperately want to achieve them.
  • The above point is usually coupled with a severe lack of concentration.
  • You may also find that you suffer with memory loss as a result.
  • Physically, the lack of energy can mean it is physically draining to undertake the simplest of physical activities.
  • There may even be loss of motor skills.

I really can’t stress enough to severity of fatigue. And, it’s beyond annoying!

You want to be up and about, trying to live a normal life but feel unable to do anything, it is infuriating! Even more annoyingly it can last for years after cancer treatment has finished.

imagesFor me, fatigue was the worst the years after I had cancer and finished my treatment. I think it was a combination of my body healing, riding itself of an unbelievable amount of chemicals and poisons and getting over the emotional side of everything that I had just been through. Hardly surprising but still unforgivably annoying.

I really wanted to make a point about the fatigue because it so easily gets overlooked. Even when you are the one with cancer, I think it is hard to identify it within yourself. Energy levels will fluctuate too much from one day to the next when you have cancer and/or fatigue that one day you will think your fine and the next day you are on the floor and I think the unpredictability of it can be equally hard.

The intensity of the fatigue will inevitably vary from person to person so just because I experienced it quite severely doesn’t mean that you (or your loved one) will, but I would keep an eye out for it and just be extra sympathetic to yourself if you aren’t able to do things as often or as quickly as you hoped.

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Hartwell House Hotel and Aromatherapy Associates – Anti-Bucket List 2015 Update

Health & Beauty, The Anti-Bucket List, What's Happening?

One of the best things about putting ‘visiting Spa’s’ on my Anti-Bucket List is getting to do one of my favourite things…. visit spa’s!

Last weekend I had the complete joy of visiting a new spa near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, at Hartwell House Hotel with my lovely friend L.J. Ross.

Our rather stunning room

Our rather stunning room

The old manor house has been turned into a hotel in the most beautiful way.  It has retained the feel of a house, keeping four large drawing rooms with fire places for guests to relax in (or read and write within as was the case with us – what can I say, it’s all rock n’ roll when two writers go away).  With such a number of drawing rooms and a library available to use, it never feels crowded.  There was more than one moment when I felt like I was in Downton Abbey, especially when walking down the engraved, ornate staircase.

The Spa is in the old stables and has been wonderfully converted, again very sympathetically, complete with the required beige stone and soothing music.  The Spa uses Aromatherapy Associates a product that surprisingly, I hadn’t tried before.  The smell was delicious, not as fragrant as other products but I think that is a good sign.  It shows that there aren’t high levels of chemical perfumes added.

Unknown-3I had the Aromatherapy Associates Essential Rose Facial with Back Massage.  Starting with the back massage the therapist focused on my shoulders after I told her it was my area of concern and then went into the facial, complete with an amazing head massage.  I honestly felt like a new woman and my skin looked so clean and radiant, wonderful.  My wonderful co-assistant reviewer had an Indian Head Massage which she enjoyed but would have liked more time spent on her head and less on her shoulders as her back is so ticklish.  Thank God I don’t have that problem, couldn’t imagine not liking back massages!

I was very impressed by the products and went on to buy the Rose Face Mask and Rose Facial Tonic, which I am enjoying using.

Overall, I loved Hartwell House Hotel and Spa.  So much so that I am planning on taking husband there and it is high on my list of favourite hotel.  An amazing big tick of the Anti-Bucket List 2015, but I think I will happily add it again and again! 🙂

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#100ActiveDays – Day 23

#100ActiveDays, Health & Beauty, Journey Back to Health

These boots are made for walking….  I have actually got some new walking boots as I am doing so much of it in such horrendous weather, my feet can at least stay nice and dry.

As much as I love walking – and I do – I am seriously looking for some “out there” activities and I want you lovely people to be involved.  So here is what I want YOU to do….

CHALLENGE ME!

Yes, challenge me to do some sort of activity and I will try my hardest to get involved in it within my #100ActiveDays

Think of me as Harpenden’s answer to the funny guy they have on BBC Breakfast trying all the weird and wonderful sports!

Just a quick note that I HATE HEIGHTS!  Seriously.  It’s quite a new thing, started in my 20’s but anyway, I really do, so if you were to recommend some sort of abseiling or sky diving type activity, I can tell you now, I aint doing it!

Also, despite my best efforts, I don’t have a money tree, may be worth bearing in mind?!

So come on peeps, what would you like to see me doing?  Scroll right to the end of the page and leave a comment or you can Facebook or Tweet me your ideas and I promise I am going to try to do as many of them as possible!

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Full Disclaimer – It’s ultimately up to me if I do your suggestion or not… I’m not flipping insane.

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#100ActiveDays

#100ActiveDays, Journey Back to Health

Today was a landmark day.  My first run in a year – and when I say year, I mean – a year ago I jogged a couple of times, not a year ago I was entering marathons – just want to be clear!  But in attempt to be ‘Fit and Fabulous’, excuses finished, I’m getting fit.

I did 100 Healthy Day’s before which was really helped but this is a bit more specific about exercise.  So  my goal – to do something active and fitness related, everyday for 100 days.  This time I will be blogging about it daily to keep me on track, because you are more likely to stick to a goal if you share what you are doing with others – and hopefully hear some words of encouragement about it from you about how amazingly I am doing?! 🙂

Also, any suggestions about things I could be doing and trying, more than welcome.  I had some awesome one’s when I was doing #100HealthyDays so more please.

Day 1 – Running

Out the house at 6am (before baby girl wakes up).  I read a good way to start running is to do 1 minute running, 1 minute walking, 1 minute running, 1 minute walking…..  So that is what I did, for 15 minutes.  Followed by 50 sit-ups (the little ones) and a bit of stretching.

Where To Get The Best Massage in Harpenden

Beauty Treatment, Health & Beauty

People often do ask where I as a massage therapist go to get a massage and in Harpenden I truly do have one favourite place.  Sabrina.

It may not be the most flashy salon in Harpenden but they have what matters, a secret weapon, amazing therapists!  In particular the amazing Amy!  She honestly gives the best massages.  Concentrating on any areas of concern she covers the whole body, including the jaw and scalp, where I hold a huge amount of tension.  I always leave feeling revived, relaxed and like I can’t wait for the next one!

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If Amy isn’t there then you may get to have a massage from Sabrina herself, equally wonderful.

Although I am yet to try anything else, Sabrina offer a whole host of Beauty treatments, Hair dressing, Wigs, Tanning… plenty to keep you looking and feeling wonderful… what to try next?!

Happy relaxing x

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Clean Cocoa Coconut Bites

Delicious Healthy Recipes, Family Matters, Health & Beauty, Journey Back to Health

This is based on a recipe from Honestly Healthy a fabulous cookbook full of healthy clean recipes that I can’t recommend enough.  What I love most, especially during my 100 Healthy Days and since giving up processed sugar is the snacks and desserts section.  Yes they can be clean and here is one of my favourite at the moment….

I made mine slightly differently to the recipe to keep a cupcake type vibe which I knew would be more appealing to my little fussy easters.

  • 10 fresh pitted Dates
  • 50g Cacao powder
  • 25g raw Almonds
  • 200g Coconut Flakes
  • 30g Agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp Xylitol (I actually didn’t use this as I wasn’t able to get any in time)
  • 2 tbsp Water (I used filtered)
  • I also added tiny Coconut Flakes for dusting

This recipe couldn’t be easier – Pre-heat the over to 180

Chuck the dates, cacao powder and almonds into the blender and blend until it becomes a sticky paste (I don’t have a high powered blender so this did take a while and a bit of digging it out from under the blades and restarting but that was fine).

Chuck in everything else and blend till its a touch choppy consistency.

I popped my mixture into small cupcake cases, as I’ve said I knew my kids would prefer it and I thought it would make transporting them easier.

Pop in the oven for 10 minutes.

I then sprinkled very fine coconut flakes over the top.

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Allow the bites to cool completely before eating and there you have it.  Yummy goodness to pacify any sweet tooth and no nasties.  My husband actually didn’t believe I hadn’t included any sugar they tasted so good.

Happy eating! x

Day 36 – 100 Healthy Days – Keeping Momentum High

Health & Beauty, Journey Back to Health

There is no doubt that it was easier for me to stay healthy whilst in Spain.  The heat, swimming pool and delicious salads made it easier for me to eat healthy and move more everyday.  It’s when I’m home I seem to struggle, especially with sugar and caffeine.  I just get so tired with the kids etc… so it has to be done!

photoI know I said that I wasn’t going to ‘give up’ anything but as things are going quite well and want to keep moving in the right direction I decided to give up processed sugar.  As well as wanting to be healthier I have given up sugar due to the horrible fatigue I have been feeling ever since having cancer as a way to try and help combat that.  I am on day 6 now and it is going well.  Apart from on day 4 when I accidentally had sugar in a drink I didn’t realise it was in (we will come onto hidden sugars in due course) but basically….  I have been making some ‘clean’ desserts as fab alternatives, including these delicious Cocoa Coconut Bites that are also a hit with the children – win win!

Moving wise I have taken the plunge and hired a personal trainer to make sure I keep exercising regularly and get the most out of my workouts.  I will be starting with her on Thursday so in the mean time I keep moving and getting out and about and my Davina DVD’s whenever I can.  Even when it was raining at the weekend, hubby the kids and I all got our wellies on a headed into the woods for a long country walk, heaven!

So 36 days in I would say that one thing that has been interesting is the effect I believe it is having on my children.  They are getting out and about more and their diet has definitely improved as I find healthy or clean alternatives and – if I’m honest – I don’t want to be tempted by them eating something yummy I’m not allowed so I’m not giving them things I would have on occasion before.  All in all I believe it is having a positive impact on the whole family, which is only ever good news in my eyes.