As you will probably be aware, earlier this year I cut my hair for charity. The hair went to the Little Princess Trust while the money went to Evelina London, where I had my spinal fusion surgery. You can now read my account of why I fundraised on the Support Evelina blog via the link below!
Happy New Year! In the spirit of ends and beginnings, I thought I would write a post about 2015. First I thought I could do 2015 in numbers and then felt like that would need too many nice pictures and figures. So instead I thought I would do it in letters.
A is for After Scoliosis – Having caught up with all the backlog of operation stuff in 2014 and with few appointments in 2015, the future of this blog was uncertain. But I published 92 posts, which is on par with 2014 and greater than previous years!
B is for Baptism – I renewed my baptismal vows this year with a wonderful service at St John’s Egham where I got very wet, and I am so grateful I was able to make that public declaration of faith.
C is for Camp – Bredon was replaced with Oswestry but I made it through my 6th camp with the wonderful AL team and wider camp family and am looking forward to next year!
D is for Discharged!! – I was discharged from the Evelina on 14th July!
E is for Election – 2015 saw the General Election, my first chance to influence who runs the country and a night that shocked everyone. It was my first experience of the election night coverage and I made it to 2am, mainly because we were also celebrating the end of English exams.
F is for Faith – I am still very grateful for the Christian faith I hold. It has been strengthened and challenged but I keep trusting Jesus to keep me going.
G is for Grades – I passed my first year of university with a high 2:1!
H is for House – We successfully found, signed for, moved into and are living in my first student house, and are signed up for next year as well. And my housemates are still very wonderful.
I is for Insanity – October saw me present my first show on Insanity Radio and I have now clocked 16 hours presenting and guesting on the station, plus 8 news broadcasts. I cannot express how much I love it, and the amazing insane people involved!
J is for Jobs – In January 2015 I applied for 2 Saturday event based jobs and by the end of the month I had been interviewed for and accepted both positions. I also returned to the temp job I had last summer for two weeks.
K is for Kinder – I ate a lot of Kinder chocolate.
L is for London – I’ve been to London a lot. From Les Mis to libraries and lectures, not to mention the week I spent 4 days in and around the city, I’ve negotiated commuters and the underground but still find joy in seeing the capital every week.
M is for Music – Not only have I had multiple concerts with the Symphony and Chamber Orchestra playing beautiful music, I also have greater knowledge of current pop music thanks to Insanity.
N is for Nine – I have had nine articles published on the Orbital website, many of which also appeared in print. Because…
O is for Orbital – I spent a magnificent 7 months on the Orbital board where I made great friends and gained many skills and improved my confidence. Gutted as I was that my tenure ended abruptly, it has opened so many doors for me and given me time to write much more.
P is for Post-its – My diary lasted a whole 9 months, especially thanks to the many post-its I used for to-do lists, planning and general notes.
Q is for the Queen – I saw the Queen at Royal Ascot. It was glorious.
R is for Reunions – Despite being away from home and old friends for most of the year, there were great reunions with all kinds of people – those I’d seen weeks before and those with a gap of years.
S is for Summer Ball – June was our first experience of Summer Ball. Dressing up in a beautiful dress and spending time with my lovely flatmates and friends were better than the event itself, but glad I went.
T is for Travels – I have branched out in my travelling. We returned to potentially our last family holiday to Spain, but I also tackled multiple solo train journeys, visiting Cambridge, Gobowen and Northwich to name a few new(ish) places.
U is for Union Shop – The campus shop relocated annoyingly close to my old halls and is now run by the SU. It was an exciting news day for the Orbital. It remains pricey.
V is for Volunteering – I’ve done a wide range of volunteering activities. Making mosaics and stewarding the Magna Carta 800 celebrations were highlights, as is my recent work on Coastway Hospital Radio.
W is for World Cup – This year heralded the Rugby World Cup and I had the privilege of working for most of the matches at Twickenham, including seeing England get knocked out and watching New Zealand’s victory. I scanned Prince Harry’s ticket unknowingly, saw Boris Johnson twice, saw Kate and William, and had a conversation with broadcaster Rhodri Jones about sweets. Phenomenal experience with great people.
X is for X-Ray – I had a back X-Ray with a student radiographer who was probably my age, and teeth X-Rays that show my wisdom teeth making an appearance.
Y is for YikYak – YikYak got big on campus, I got a free poster. Once someone made up a rumour the Queen was here. She wasn’t.
Z is for Zzzzz – I love sleep, and you are probably feeling that after ploughing through 900 odd words.
So there you have it, 2015 summed up in less than 1000 words (and yes, I struggled with X, Y and Z!) Bring on 2016!
So, I was sitting in rehearsal today (come to Symphony Orchestra concert on Wednesday, hint hint!) and was thinking very much about today’s date. It is the 30th November and exactly a year ago on this date, me and my best friends went up to London to celebrate our 18th birthdays. We saw Wicked and went down Oxford Street and Regents Street and Covent Garden, taking in all that London has to offer at this christmassy time. It was an AMAZING day and I have so many happy memories from it. [You can read more about this and other November/December events here: https://afterscoliosis.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/novemberdecember-2013-wicked-and-assorted-christmas-events/]
Thinking back, yesterday was the 29th November. It goes to show how much time has passed because it was four years ago, on a Monday, that I went down to the hospital for a check up that I thought was just going to be a routine “You’re fine, go home”. Alas, it was not, hence I am writing this blog on everything to do with scoliosis and my life. [You can read more about this here: https://afterscoliosis.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/being-referred/]
29th November was also the date that I started this blog, two years ago! So that’s me on my two year anniversary already – and up to date as well!!
Sadly, 1st December is tomorrow, and that holds less happy memories. This time last year we were coping with having my grandma, newly blind, in hospital and then suddenly, as I woke up on 2nd December, I learned that we didn’t have to anymore. So, that was very sad for us all, and stressful as I had the school awards ceremony in which I was playing in the orchestra for the majority. [I touch on this briefly in the post about Wicked] Said awards ceremony is taking place again tomorrow, making 1st December another landmark anniversary as this will be my last year attending said event.
I think that’s all I can muster today, so I guess I will post again soon.
Ok, so I spoke about most of November yesterday, but on the 30th I went on a very special outing to London. Six of us all went to the same primary school and then the same youth group and wanted to do something special to celebrate our 18th birthdays. Therefore, we all bought tickets for Wicked as presents to each other and planned a trip to the London shops, Wicked and a lovely meal afterwards. Annoyingly I did spend some time in the lead up to our trip rather nervous and worried about going, especially as it was my first ‘solo’ trip to the capital (as in no parental support). Once we were on the train I definitely calmed down and it was an amazing day out. We had a great time browsing the shops, especially with all the Christmas stock, and Wicked was so much better than I remembered (I had actually seen it a few years before with my parents, but this time we sat in the stalls right up close to the stage and I feel it was a better cast too!) After Wicked we ventured over to Leicester Square and Shaftesbury Avenue to the Bella Italia that we had booked a table for. There was an unfortunately long wait for our table because the people before us stuck around for an age, but the food was good. All too soon it was time to head home but it is something that I will remember for ages.
Into December, the first big event was my interview at Cambridge, but that’s a massive can of worms that I will open tomorrow! Actually before that, we had our school evening at celebration, and boy was I busy that night! I spent the entire first half in the orchestra pit playing for the Year 7 singers, then popped upstairs to join the other prize winners to receive some subject awards and the Arthur McKivett Caritas Award (I have no idea who McKivett was but the award was to do with being caring). Then I played in the string group/orchestra and rounded off the night with a rendition of songs from the upcoming school production of Oliver. My back was quite stiff and achey after all of that, especially spending the whole day in rehearsals. It was also very unfortunate timing as my Grandma had died the night before, but I think it took my mind off that.
Obviously the great event of the month is Christmas, so much of what happened to me was Christmas related. I went to two Christmas parties – one with EPIC, my youth group, which was great; and the other with the sixth form Student Union. Being on the student union I would have hoped that it might have been a bit more successful. I didn’t enjoy it. My close friends didn’t go, so although there were people I knew, I only really spoke to about three people. It wasn’t like you could carry a conversation anyway because of the music and general noise. It was not a place where I felt comfortable because of the closely packed people and me avoiding people touching my back and even bumping into it. Someone spilt beer on the floor and my shoes got soaked, and the DJ turned up and then refused to play because they didn’t have equipment, yet he still got paid! However, the person controlling the music was better than the DJ at prom and then some, plus everyone was too drunk to care (despite the majority being underage!).
The final December event (apart from Christmas) was the orchestral Christmas course, which was really fun but also very full on. I certainly went home each day aching, but it was worth it to play in such a respected orchestra with great friends, who I am going to miss so much!
Anyway, come back tomorrow to hear about my interview at Cambridge and then we’ll be into 2014!
OK, so I’m back to October and thought I’d fill you in with what happened in the latter half of the month, particularly a project I took part in at Brighton Museum. Back in July 2013, I joined a group at the museum called the Museum Collective, which is a group for young people that runs and takes part in creative projects and also can be used as a youth panel to discuss changes to the museum that might affect us or aim to encourage youth engagement with the museum.
Anyway, for two days over half term, a number of us met to create a zine in response to the Subversive Design exhibition that was running at that point. If you don’t know what a zine is, it a basically a low cost, homemade magazine on a particular topic, often created by hand rather than printed from a computer. As part of this we got to see the exhibition for free and chose a few pieces to respond to creatively. We also had the privilege of working with artist Tristan Manco, who wrote briefly about the project here: http://www.tristanmanco.com/2014/01/13/subverzine-brighton-museum/. We did a lot of photocopying, especially from old copyright free books – old style cutting and pasting! We had various stencils and stampers and obviously there were also good old fashioned pens and paper to just draw on. It was a really fun project and the end result ‘Subverzine’ was even sold in the shop!
A few days after finishing the zine project I went away to Bournemouth, which was fast becoming our go to holiday destination for a quick break. As usual we did some swimming and some shopping and just general relaxation. My anxiety over eating was a lot better this time around (I may have actually glossed over that bit last time I wrote about it but oh well!), and we had a great trip to Mottisfont, a National Trust property, on the way there, and a trip to Lyndhurst on the way back.
The rest of November was pretty normal, although we did return to Sorted, which was great, especially meeting up with Imi from camp! In a departure from the normal pattern we didn’t stay in London for food but returned home because we had a baby with us and that also meant that my friend Lara could join us having been at work for the day. It was such an encouraging day as well, and something I would definitely recommend. There was also another special trip to London at the very end of November, but I am going to park that for today and leave you in suspense! All will be revealed tomorrow!
The next event I wish to talk about is my third post-op, which took place on Tuesday 4th June 2013. It was the day of Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee Coronation celebration thing, but our appointment was late enough that we missed all the busyness around Westminster for that. I think we saw a fair number of hats, dresses and posh suits on our way there though.
Anyway, we arrived for the appointment and I wasn’t all that worried on the whole. We went through x-ray OK I think and were soon back to wait for the actual appointment. We were seen by Jonathan Lucas, i.e. the main man, which was good because we like seeing the highest authority. However, his news was not good and I will give you his words from the letter we were sent about the appointment:
“I reviewed Elizabeth who is, unfortunately I think is developing a junctional kyphosis between T9 and T10 at the end of her proximal metal work”. He later adds that he is worried about this, and states that the angle has gone from 12* to 18.3* (couldn’t find the degree sign). I was really worried because in no way did I want to go through another operation and the stress that goes with it. Of course in the moment I didn’t think about how in general in medicine they do give worst case scenario, and actually this incident shows how great it is that they can monitor you. So, if you’re not sure about having scoliosis, or indeed any other condition, then please see a doctor or try to get a referral to a specialist because once you are in the system they will be able to track your progress and see trends in changes.
Anyway, once all this was over with I had a cry and had a smidge of M&S Food and probably cried again and again and many more times before our next appointment in three months time. It was a massive shock to be thinking that everything was normal and then suddenly there was another problem rearing its head! But I managed to keep living and stuff and tried not to think about it too much.
So, I’ll leave it there for today and you can wait with bated breath for tomorrow’s post, filling you in on the rest of June!
Mid-December came and it was already time for my second post-op appointment. The actual appointment went as smoothly as could be expected and, as with the first one, all was doing fine.
Now, seeing as we’d spent all this money on a train up to London, we thought we’d make the most of it, heading over to Regent Street and Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights. We popped into a few shops, including Selfridges which was far too busy for my liking, and saw the Christmas displays outside Hamleys (disappointing). We finished the day with a meal at the Victoria Station branch of Cafe Rouge.
The meal itself was lovely, until we reached dessert. I went for my usual ice cream served with cream and raspberry coulis, which was very nice. Unfortunately almost as soon as I finished it I felt sick, but decided it was just the sudden influx of sugar and that it would pass – this used to be a regular occurrence when I was little. However, when we reached the area of the station leading to the platforms I actually threw up (luckily we had a plastic bag without holes for this purpose). I was embarrassed, my parents were annoyed and we had to pay 30p to use the station toilets. This wasn’t even a one off as I’d finished off a meal out with a rich cheesecake a week earlier and promptly threw up. Basically I no longer eat dessert when I eat out – not sure if the sickness is a legacy from the drugs I had or if it’s just me!
So yeah, sorry about the nauseating nature of this post, it was also horrible to write. My next post chronicles more nausea actually but don’t let that put you off as the real subject is our youth group weekend away!