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Castle (2)

I am still watching Castle, and having previously blogged about an episode referencing scoliosis I didn’t expect to ever write about it again. However, I was wrong, they referenced it again, in the tenth episode of Series 4, entitled Cuffed.

“He had a degenerative hip condition and mild scoliosis, probably from sitting too much” [0:24:37-0:24:43]

I’m sorry, but “sitting too much”? POSTURE DOESN’T CAUSE SCOLIOSIS! Mindfulness of your posture and development of muscles can prevent back pain, but sitting too much is not going to create a spinal deformity! Sorry Lanie, I love you but you are wrong, might want to speak to the script writers about that…

[My previous post on Castle is here: https://afterscoliosis.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/castle/]

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A little note

So, I’ve had this blog now for 2 and a half years, since November 2012. I posted sporadically for the first year or so, but since January 2014 there has been at least one post each month, usually more. Most of last summer I posted every day, and since Thursday that is currently the case (and I have posts scheduled up to Saturday so I hope that’ll continue). Obviously I’m done with posting about my operation, but I’d like to think that my random musings on life are interesting too! I’ll have another follow up appointment in a month or so’s time and stress and anxiety are things to talk about.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for reading and I promise to keep posting!

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“Listening is like being happy when you’re depressed”

The above was what I said to my flatmate regarding the summer special of a radio show, the week before I started my exams. The presenters had finished theirs and so, rightfully, were making that week’s show a celebration of the glorious summer to come. Except I was stuck in revision, unsure of what to expect of my two exams and knowing that within a week it would all be over. The songs on the show were great but I felt like I couldn’t enjoy them because of the work I needed to do.

I should say that I have never been clinically depressed. However, once I had been told that surgery was imminently required in January 2011, I was incredibly upset and would cry myself to sleep sometimes over it. This went away in May because I was erroneously told all was well, but once September came around I was back in that fearful, low state. Looking back I coped remarkably well and the time that I spent feeling down was small. However at the time, I was almost self-diagnosing myself with depression. Because I couldn’t be fully happy with the weight of the impending operation bearing down on me.

This is where the above quote comes from. When you are going through something awful it can consume you, but some days you can also almost forget. If you have a good day you can smile and laugh, but in my experience I would get home, get into bed, and realise that despite the good things, the bad things were still on the horizon. It’s been a great day, you feel happy, you enjoyed it, but there’s an undertone of sadness as you remember the bad things and you can’t quite shift this.

I am by no means an expert on depression, but please if you do feel like this at all, do tell someone. This can be someone you know, or someone you don’t. For UK readers, Mind is a charity that helps those struggling with their mental health and their website is here: http://www.mind.org.uk/. You aren’t alone, and things will get better.

EDIT: Since I wrote this post, I found this article and I think it is very good so have a read: http://www.wifemomsuperwoman.com/2014/09/03/whatnottosaytosomeonestrugglingwithdepression/

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“You’ve had first days before”

This was what my friend said to me on the night before my first day at work at Ascot Racecourse. This is the second job I’ve started since I started I came to university, the other being Twickenham Stadium, where I have worked since March (and I will probably blog about that at some point!) Anyway, I can’t say too much about Ascot because of the social media policy of the company, but I will try hard to give a sense of what I wanted to talk about regarding the above quote.

Due to acceptable reasons, I only started the job on a Wednesday in late April, despite being interviewed in January, and I had also had no training. I should say straight off that once I got to work I was trained on the job and that this was the best way to learn my role anyway.

Going back to that Tuesday night, the lack of training and awareness of my job role (I can’t even describe it myself so that’s understandable!) led to a fair degree of anxiety. My shift started at 8:30 so I needed to leave my flat around 7am, catch the 7:27 train to Ascot, then figure out a way up to the racecourse. In actual fact I got to the train station so early that I stuck around and read a little bit of my book (Us by David Nicholls, see my last post for more on that). I then got to the staff check in and had no idea where to go. The team I was working for was very small so they had no record of me, but I eventually found the correct person; picked up my staff wristband, an empty bag for the cash I didn’t have on me, and my lunch and was taken down to the office I was working in.

Everyone was lovely, the work was fun, free food was in abundance. On one of my breaks we had a walk around the racecourse and watched a race, which was great but very short. Nice to see the horses up close though on the way back to the staff tunnel. The end of the day was quite frantic, but I made it out in one piece, feeling happy, and with an expenses claim for my train fare and the knowledge that I was going to be paid a fair bit of money.

Yes, I had no reason to be anxious, but the idea that because I’ve had first days before I should not be nervous can never work on me. Each time I go into a different environment I am apprehensive. I don’t know what to expect and I can’t create a picture in my mind of what it’s going to be like. This is something I still struggle with every day I work at Twickenham because it is always a different role in a different place with a different team. I expect it will be something I will struggle with next time I’m over at Ascot because I’ve had a long break between work days. But I know that ultimately I will get through it, and always have the same feeling that I don’t need to be anxious at the end of the day.

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An open letter to the flat thief

To a certain member of my flat,

I wonder if you have any idea how I felt to find an empty cake tin in the ice drawer. It wasn’t a good feeling. I had been out for the afternoon at a volunteering induction that repeated a lot of information that I already knew. Within the cake tin there had been a chocolate cream pie, yet when I went to the freezer it was not there. But at least you had the decency to leave the empty tin which I then had to wash without enjoying the contents. Of course you didn’t eat the whole thing, that would be far too rude. However, there was a good third there, and I was looking forward to enjoying something that I worked hard to make for myself. I actually offered it around at first, but when people weren’t that interested I stashed it in the freezer so I could enjoy it another time.

This isn’t the first food theft. A bottle of beer, cake decorations and ketchup are also noted as being taken by various people in the flat. In addition it’s not just food that’s missing. A baking tray has disappeared as well as a plethora of forks and spoons. I once had to use a spork to eat my dinner and then a Ben & Jerry’s spade to eat dessert because I had no forks or spoons. The owner of the baking tray had to take someone’s spare one for the remainder of the year.

Maybe you are lacking in food or cutlery. Maybe money is tight and you got peckish before you were able to get the funds to buy your own food or equipment. I’m not saying this isn’t a problem for you. But the solution is not to steal from others. To take someone’s property is one thing, but to do it in a way that is designed for them not to even find out is a new low. My tin was replaced in the freezer as if nothing had happened, as if it’s a normal occurrence to keep empty cake tins somewhere designed to freeze food. The forks gradually disappeared overnight.

The big issue is that if you had asked me I would’ve almost certainly allowed you to borrow my equipment. I have plenty of cutlery (the main reason why I am still able to eat) so if you don’t have enough then it’s no trouble for you to use mine, as long as they’re washed up and put back in the drawer. Even with food, if you said “Oh, I don’t have any bread/milk/cheese etc., can I borrow some?” I would say yes, just don’t use all of it. Chocolate cream pie is a little different, but even then if you asked really nicely to try a bit, I’d let you!

So you ate my food. My nice food that I made myself. And you haven’t even admitted it was you. If you had come up to me and said “Sorry I ate your chocolate cream pie, I was *insert excuse here* but I didn’t mean to”, I would’ve been annoyed but at least you came forward and apologised. Right now you are just a coward, enjoying what is not yours and making everyone else angry.

I’m not expecting an apology anymore, but I’d like you to admit what you’ve done, and return the kitchen equipment too.

And thank the rest of the flat for not repaying you by stealing your stuff.

Regards,

Beth

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London (Part 2)

So, after yesterday’s impromptu cliffhanger, here is the continuation of my account of my day in London on Wednesday! (You can read part 1 here: https://afterscoliosis.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/london-part-1/)

I was on my way to Foyles, a massive bookshop selling every type of book under the sun plus music and stationery and probably other things too. I was meeting my flatmate, who was coming from Les Miserables, and my first stress was that as I headed to browse Foyles I had no signal. So I swept back down the stairs and completely coincidentally saw him enter as I was about to get down to the ground floor. He’d had a fantastic day already so we caught up in the cafe.

In case you were a bit confused, I was not just in London to chat to someone I live with. We were actually there to see David Nicholls in conversation about his new(ish) book Us. In case you don’t know who he is, he also wrote One Day and, my favourite of his, Starter For Ten. I’m not going to say much about what he said but it was amazing to hear something about what was behind his decisions in writing the book and things like that. The best part was that he kindly did a signing after the talk and so we were able to actually talk briefly to him.

Being myself I was cool about it until I actually got to the desk and he said hello and I was just like “What do I say?”. So what better to do than embarrass the person who bought you the ticket by saying he’s just like a character from the book! But I was very happy because I got an autograph and a photo and a minor conversation with a fantastic author. I think we both were kind of speechless over what had just happened and got the train home in very good spirits.

I spoke yesterday about anxiety over the day. This was actually very low level and I was surprisingly OK with half getting lost on the way to St Paul’s and not being able to find a tube that was close to where I ended up! I think it was the happiness over just being in London and having plenty of time to just mooch around. Anxiety usually manifests itself physically for me in thinking I need the loo all the time, and this was something I thought about when I got off the train at Waterloo as usually I would stop off and pay my 30p at the station toilets. In fact I went from leaving the flat around 3pm to just before David Nicholls at 7pm without stopping off at any public toilets, taking the cheaper option of going in Foyles. When I leave somewhere for a journey I almost always stop to go to the loo just before I go. But I was so calm yesterday that I didn’t do this. Even when we got to Waterloo and there was a half an hour wait for the train I didn’t make a detour. I thought about it and made a calculated decision, and probably was dehydrating myself by avoiding liquids, but yesterday shows how far I have come from a year or two ago when irrational thinking ruled my life.

So if you made it through those ramblings, thank you. Yesterday was a phenomenal experience and special thanks goes to George for kindly buying the David Nicholls tickets and taking me along. I am very thankful for my whole day and hope there will be many more lovely days like yesterday to come!

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London (Part 1)

Every time I go to London I seem to come back in a state of disbelief over what happened. Yesterday was no exception and I am determined to actually blog about it this time. I don’t really go to London much, despite it being 40 minutes on the train, so when I do it’s for a specific event. I will get to that in a second.

Going anywhere fills me with a degree of anxiety. I have to leave the utter comfort zone that is my home and be prepared for my day. I have to make sure I have water, food, iPod, maps, diary, money, tickets, the list goes on. I actually went home and forgot my iPod, Kindle, bus pass and keys, so that was a good start! Anyway, back to yesterday, I had a plan, I had my stuff (although I had to go back for a scarf) and I was very excited.

Trains are the most stressful part of a day out for me, but I bumped into a friend at the station so we were able to chat for most of the journey. Then I got to Waterloo and started my adventure!

Waterloo Station

A new place

I went directly from the station to the tube and the above photo was where I came out. A completely deserted new place for me! It was very exciting. But anyway, I got the Waterloo and City line to Bank and then when I got there was going to set off to St Paul’s. The first issue was that although I brought a map, it didn’t give details of anywhere more than 20 minutes walk from Victoria. I had little clue about where I was heading, which was especially useful when Bank has 9 or so exits onto the street!

However, I used this as an opportunity to explore. I found the Bank of England (hence why the station is called Bank!) and then headed westwards and stumbled upon Love Lane, where I found a tiny green space with a Shakespeare statue that would be a perfect place to sit with some lunch, or just with a friend. I found the Guildhall Art Gallery and a cute church next door, as well as one of many Shaun the Sheep statues! Eventually I did find St Paul’s and wow, it’s quite impressive. I had planned to get the tube at St Paul’s station but then I saw the Millennium Bridge and then thought I might as well cross the bridge.

St Paul's from Millennium Bridge

St Paul’s from Millennium Bridge

I got across and then set about looking for another train station. Blackfriars wasn’t far so I headed over there, not realising that it no longer had an underground service! Once there I reconsidered my options and my best bet was Southwark, so I headed up the road and finally found the Jubilee Line. I still had some time so got the tube to Westminster and walked across Westminster Bridge with Murray Gold blaring on my iPod (one of his compositions for Doctor Who is entitled Westminster Bridge). It’s rare that I get to do this walk leisurely so I savoured it, but I do rather like St Thomas’ and even considered going in to grab some food if it was raining.

St Thomas' from Westminster Bridge

St Thomas’ from Westminster Bridge

By this point I was rather warm and so I stopped for a mini ‘lunch’ (I’d had dinner before I left in the middle of the day so my meals were rather mixed up!). I ate almost under the London Eye which was lovely. Then I started to head towards Waterloo to find the Northern Line. I made it to Hungerford Bridge and decided to instead head for Embankment – they were relatively equidistant and the weather was still nice. So I boarded a tube at Embankment up to Tottenham Court Road towards the real reason I was in London.

I wonder if you have any guesses about what I am referring to? I bet you are wrong, unless you have seen me, in which case it’s not guessing! Well, I am actually going to leave this post here, because it has gone on far too long. Guesses will be gladly received and all will be revealed tomorrow!