This is why the MailOnline didn’t call the Finsbury Park attacker a terrorist

After waking up to the news of yet another attack on pedestrians by a van driver, this time in Finsbury Park, North London, my heart felt heavy and my stomach uneasy. One dead and eleven injured. How much more news like this can we take?

Like many of you, I get my news from social media and like many people I was horrified at how the MailOnline had reported the story. The blaring headline read: “White van driver ploughs into and hurts at least 10 people outside well-known Finsbury Park Mosque in new London ‘terror attack’ before Muslims finishing evening prayers tackle suspect to ground.”

How dare they describe the attacker as a “white van man” and not a terrorist. The publication had no problem calling the Islamic attackers at Westminster and London Bridge ‘terrorists’ moments after the attack unfolded. What makes this one different? Because the driver was white and he targeted Muslims breaking iftar? It felt like they’d softened the wording to suit the colour of his skin.

Celebrities like Harry Potter author JK Rowling and Great British Bake Off presenter Sue Perkins pointed this difference out in disgust. I was just about to give in time my raging frustration and hit the retweet button when my media law training kicked in.

‘In defence of the Daily Mail’ is not something I write lightly, but this is why they didn’t call attacker Darren Osborne a terrorist:

If the press named him guilty of terrorism, they would be inciting ‘trial by media’. The judge would conclude that a jury cannot possibly be neutral after being exposed to those accusations and therefore Osborne could not possibly be given a fair trial, as he is entitled to under Article 6 of EU Human Rights law. If the MailOnline had called the attacker a terrorist, Darren Osborne would have walked free without a trial.

He would have walked free.

The colour of his skin and the ethnicity of the victims wasn’t the only thing that set this attack aside from the horrors of Westminster Bridge and London Bridge, it’s the fact that the attacker is still alive. That’s what makes reporting this one different. Osborne has been arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and terrorism offences and detectives continue to question him, but he’s still entitled to human rights.

What the MailOnline should be held accountable for is the second part of their headline, which linked the two mosques with dangerous radicals that had nothing to do with the incidents of 19th June 2017.

The national online newspaper did apologise and issued a statement after changing the headline. That being said, what’s done is done. And as we all know, nothing is gone forever once it’s been on the internet.

The full MailOnline correction in full:

“An earlier version of this article bore a headline which stated the victims had been attacked outside the Finsbury Park Mosque, where Abu Hamza once preached. This was based on initial reports from reputable news agencies, although it has since been clarified that the attack took place closer to the Muslim Welfare House. It is also the case, as we made clear in a subsequent article, that in recent years the Mosque has become known as a beacon for community relations and that the Abu Hamza connection is therefore purely historical. We are happy to make this clear, and apologise for any contrary impression given.”

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Say no to peer pressure and vote for who YOU want

With only days to go until the General Election you’ll probably have noticed the voices telling you who to vote for are shouting even louder now. And I’m not just talking about politicians but by people on the news and in particular, friends on your Facebook timeline.

There will be people posting daily status’ about how Corbyn should be Prime Minister because he ate a Pringle offered to him by a constituent at a rally, or how Theresa May’s kitten heels will bring about the best Brexit deal. Sound familiar?

What we all need to remember is that we’re not voting for the Prime Minister, we’re voting for our local MP. PMs can change at the drop of a referendum, we know that. We all saw what happened to David Cameron (awks). And PMs can be democratically replaced without an election because – whether rightly or wrongly – the people don’t vote for the leader of a party.

And remember that a British PM isn’t a dictator, they don’t work alone. They need a team of people, a Cabinet to do the job. So when you’re looking to vote, take a look at other candidates in the party too, watch and decide if they can negotiate and debate too because that’s what they’ll be doing in their job.

So don’t focus too heavily on whether Corbyn has done up his top shirt button, and concentrate a little less on what May’s reuse of her trouser suits and check out what your local MP has got to say. How will they affect your local community? What can they do for you?

British politics is set up to divide. There will be those people who are excited about the election and then there are the Brenda’s of the country who would have unanimously cried ‘not another one’ as yet again Westminster sets out to divide the nation. And that’s the crux of the problem: politics is divisive and there’s nothing that’s going to change that.

Each individual faces their own trials and tribulations; everyone’s circumstances are different and every person has their own issues close to their hearts. And it’s okay to think for number one – you’ve got to because no one else will truly understand how you’re feeling about your unique situation.

What winds me up is that British politics I’ve very good at causing a divide. Just take a look at the way our parliament is set up – the government facing the opposition – it’s designed to create an ‘us’ and ‘them’. And heaven forbid it works.

And then there’s the politicians themselves. Have you seen the sort of playground insults MPs hurl at each other across the room? It’s the kind of stuff that should be left on the playground, let alone spoken by the people who’ve been elected to run our country. If our politicians get away with calling each other a condom (yep, Boris Johnson called Nick Clegg a condom) then what’s stopping us from hurling abuse at our neighbours in the streets? What a fantastic example our leaders are setting.

So I ask you to do a bit of research yourself, ignore the people shouting their opinions at you on Facebook and make your own mind up, even if it means drawing a willy on your ballot paper just to make a point. Don’t vote the way your mates are voting for the sake of it, put an ‘X’ in the box that best suits you.

(P.s. Don’t slag off your pals for voting differently to you either, okay? To quote Aretha Franklin, show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T for our differences.)

Life Over The Wall In West Bank, Palestine

Abu Dis: Israel built the wall quite literally through Jerusalem. Abu Dis is a suburb of Jerusalem but is now separated from the city not by distance but by a wall that has created a completely different economy for those living in the West Bank.

Abu Dis: Children watch on in curiosity.

Abu Dis: Israel built the wall right next to a Muslim faith school, which was shut down after Israeli soldiers intimidated students from their watch post on the other side of the wall. They used guns, fire and other methods of intimidation. On the left side of the wall is Israeli run Jerusalem. On the right, East Jerusalem is run by the Palestinian Authority, who answer to Israel. 

Abu Dis: Inside the abandoned Muslim faith school.

Abu Dis: Palestinians are often forced to abandon their homes due to intimidation by Israeli soldiers from the other side of the wall, or because of eviction notices issued by the Israeli government claiming the occupants need to leave for ‘security purposes’.

Abu Dis: Children risk irritating the watching Israeli soldiers by playing in front of the wall as their garden is now separated from their house by the wall.

East Jerusalem: The wall divides landowners and farmers from their land. The land is then redistributed by Israel to ‘occupiers’ who farm the land for their own profit.   

Beit Sahour: Day 4 of the trip and  I cracked and cried. The day was filled with a peaceful walk through a beautiful village. The Palestinian women were happy because they had heard about its beauty but had never been. When we were at home in Bethlehem, chilling and chatting, my roommate and her sister got a call from her their other sister, letting them know that a girl had been shot dead at the checkpoint near their home. They knew that their other sister was passing through that checkpoint to pick the girls up. Everyone’s phones started ringing. They were parents making sure that their daughters were alive. It was tense. I tried to calm my roommate down, but the sisters were torn between feeling shocked and scared and frantic. Their phone rang again and they were told that the girl had been identified. It wasn’t their sister but a close friend. There was a split second of relief before panicked tears of anguish and terror and sadness. Then it was a rush to get them back to their village before the Israelis shut the border, barring them from getting home. Later, the Israeli news reported the story, claiming that the girl had attacked them with a knife. The girl had been travelling through the check point to get to an evening revision class because she had an exam. She was 17. This is lunch time earlier in the day, when the girls were happy. 

Hebron: The largest city in West Bank, Hebron used to be a thriving market town. However, due to severe violent intimidation from ‘illegal’ Israeli occupiers and sanctions issues by the Israeli army, the markets have all but shut down and the residents are often confined to the street they live in when the Israeli army shut down the checkpoints. It’s a very volatile city where violence could erupt between the occupiers and the Palestinians at any point. Army presence is heavy but the children still smile. 

Hebron: Here I am showing the smiling children their photograph.

Jericho: Jericho is home to the desert where Jesus allegedly wandered for forty days and forty nights. The girls in this photo are from all over the world, including the UK, Palestine – both sides of the wall, Belgium and France. For me, this photo just highlights the fact at the end of the day, all young women worry about money, boys and make up. 

Jerusalem: A family take refuge from the sweltering heat outside Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Jerusalem: Me apparently dressing to match the beautiful Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Jericho: My sister Chloë and myself found it a little overwhelming visiting all of the place we’d brought up reading about in the Bible.

Nabi Musa: These camels were parked up outside the mosque built where it is believed the prophet Moses (the one who parted the red sea) is buried. 

Monastery of Temptation: Me pointing out a sandstorm picking up in the city of Jericho. Right behind me is a monastery built into the wall of the mountain, supposedly built in the cave Jesus escaped to whilst he reflected for forty days and forty nights.

Jerusalem: The Wailing Wall. The Western wall is part of a fort built around Al-Aqsa Mosque. Centuries ago, the wall was part of the old synagogue that used to stand in Jerusalem. Nowadays, Jews travel from all around the wall to pray at the wall, which is considered to be one of the holiest sites in the Jewish faith. 

The Pope’s Mountain: The Bedouin communities are persecuted by Israel due to their lack of permanent address. Their makeshift houses are demolished and they are left with nowhere to go. In this photo, the rubble are the remains of Bedouin homes. The built up city in the background is an ‘illegal’ Israeli settlement. Israel built these communities in the West Bank under the guise that they would be for displaced Palestinians to live. However, when they were completed, they occupied the houses with Israeli citizens and gated them off with armed guards. The United Nations have numerously named them illegal but what can you do to the people living there? Displace them?

The Pope’s Mountain: A Bedouin boy stands on the rubble of a home. 

Hebron: A child plays in the street in front of a heavily guarded Israeli settlement. The occupants of the new build are ‘illegal’ Israeli settlers who commandeered the building through intimidation. Now, the building is guarded by the army to protect the occupants from possible attacks.

Hebron: In Hebron, illegal settlements have been built inside the city, preventing the Palestinian people from living there. The newly built white building in the background at the end of the staircase is an Israeli settlement. People living in that building are encouraged to throw chemical bombs, rubbish and hurl verbal abuse at the Palestinians in the street below. You can see metal grids and verandas have been put up outside the doorways to protect the residents when they leave their house. 

The Pope’s Mountain: A child plays on the gate that guards his Bedouin home that he shares with his mum and sisters near The Pope’s Mountain. The Pope’s Mountain is an area of land that was given to the Pope as a gift from Jordan in 1964 when Palestine was under temporary Jordanian rule. This land now stands in the way of the wall joining together. Israel want to continue their building work so the Bedouin community are once again being forced out. 

Jerusalem: The Wailing Wall where Jewish people come to pray. Palestinians and Muslims are forbidden from traveling in this quarter of the square. 

Jerusalem: The Middle East sell some of the most beautiful incenses. Frankincense or myrrh anyone?

Refugee camp: According to the latest figures from the United Nations, the West Bank is home to nearly 775,000 registered refugees, with around a quarter of whom live in 19 camps. Some  of the camps are located next to major towns and others are in rural areas. Some children don’t know any different.

Refugee camps: Around 750 000 Palestinians became refugees following the Nakba (Catastrophe) between 1947-1948.

Refugee camps: It’s always good to see the bigger picture. Here, someone snapped me being snap happy.

Refugee camps: The United Nations recognises the plight of the Palestinians and provide food bundles are needed by the people who can’t afford to live under Israeli Occupation.

Jerusalem: The four green doors on the right flying the flag of Israel are occupied by illegal settlers. One day, the Palestinian residents left their homes for the day, only to return to find their front doors barricaded with these hefty, green military doors and the locks changed. The settlers refused to leave. Although people who do this are deemed illegal by the Israeli government, they are very rarely persecuted. The Palestinians are forced to leave and find somewhere else to live, which is difficult as they are banned from building any more homes and there aren’t enough existing places to live. 

Bethlehem: It’s not what it looks like on the Christmas cards.

Bethlehem: Israel control the West Bank borders, and with it the imports and exports of Palestine. Many shops supply Israeli products, who’s packaging is written in Hebrew. Palestinians living in West Bank and Gaza are encouraged to take part in the boycott Israel movement, by refusing to buy Israeli products. 

Hebron: Not many years ago, these shop fronts in Hebron were open and brimming with customers. Now, they are subject to the laws of Israel who dictates when they can open, which isn’t very often. Some shopkeepers are forced to closed because they just can’t afford to stay open. 

Hebron: Below the tin canopies are the shops in the market. Shopkeepers have been forced to put up the metal to protect themselves from the things the settlers throw at them from above. Rubbish, bleach and dirty water are just some of the things thrown at the marketeers. 

Hebron: Jewellery seller at Hebron market. 

Hebron: However, some parts of the market are thriving. 

Hebron: A market seller who’s produce ranged from spices to live poultry in cages.

Hebron: The Palestinians are being forced out by Israeli settlers, room by room, house by house. 

Hebron: Residents have been forced to put bars on their windows to protect themselves from things being thrown through them, or even from people getting in to squat when they leave to go about their daily business. 

Abu-dis: It doesn’t matter how horrendous and frustrating life can be for the Palestinians, you’ll always find someone smiling. Someone told me it’s because if you don’t smile, you’d cry. 

Hebron: Children living behind bars for their own protection. 

Bedouin community: Some of the huts on the land where the nomads are forced to live are funded by the United Nations. 

Jericho: The views of the desert are breath taking. 

Hebron: Driving through the ram-packed streets of Hebron, Palestine.

Bedouin community: When Palestine met France. 

Bedouin community: When Palestine met England. 

 

Checkpoints: You’ll probably have noticed the lack of photos of the checkpoints in the elephant in the room in this blog post. It’s because taking photos of them are an arrestable offence. And considering the most murders of Palestinians living in West Bank happen at checkpoints, you don’t want to piss off the Israeli soldiers. Instead, I drew this illustration of what I saw. Checkpoints are horrible places. This woman was taking her son to hospital which was on the other side of the wall. He was motionless and his eyes were rolling in the back of his head. Ambulances are forbidden to drive through the checkpoint and you have to apply for a pass to get through, even if emergency care is needed. These can take hours, days or weeks to be approved. Israeli soldiers did nothing to make her passing through the checkpoint quicker – if anything they made it longer, making her walk back through the detectors just because. No one was permitted to help her. She wasn’t crying, she wasn’t screaming, she was just a mother trying to save her son. It was heartbreaking. 

No, I Didn’t Keep My Rib For A Keepsake

If you’re reading this right now then I commend you for your dedication to my melodramatic tale of veins, ribs and blue arms. Ten points for Gryffindor! However, if you ask me whether I got to keep my rib, I will be deducting 50 points from Gryffindor for unoriginality and making me feel a bit queasy. (For real though, it’s been incinerated and is most likely to be in heaven with my other rib and Elvis Presley.)

A week ago today,  I was back in St Thomas’ Hospital, this time to have my top left rib removed. Once more I was back on the ward of old ladies, this time with Doreen, Brenda and Caroline, all aged between 60 and 85ish. Things we had in common included a distaste for hospital food and blood thinning injections administered 8am and 7pm.

The whole experience was thoroughly enjoyable and one that I loved so much the first time round that I just couldn’t wait to do it all again. I would seriously recommend it. I’m lying. And if anyone is thinking about getting a rib removed for cosmetic reasons (or reasons regarding sexy time) then don’t. It really hurts.

THE UGLIEST PHOTOS EVER TO EXIST SO I’M PUTTING IT ON THE INTERNET FOR SOME BONKERS REASON.

Recovery

Don’t judge me but something really uncool happened when I came round from the op. In Recovery (the bit where they bring you round from the anaesthetic) the first thing I heard when I drifted in an out of consciousness was Heart on the radio. Yep, so the first thing I said when I came round from my op was ‘Is this Toby Anstis?’ CRINGE. The nurses were like ‘er… what?’ I tried to tell them I meant on the radio and that I work there, at the radio station – which thank God they understood because otherwise I would’ve come across as a weird Toby stalker. Then they continued to ask me if they could win the 50K May competition… Not my coolest moment.

Doctors, nurses, friends and family keep asking me how I’m feeling and I don’t really know how to answer. Honestly, I’m feeling really positive and I’m laughing at how long it takes me to do things, even if it does feel like I’ve been beaten up on the inside and I can’t tie my hair up. I think I’m a bit draining on everyone else though. Sorry, lads.

The area around my left collarbone, shoulder and boob doesn’t really feel bruised on the outside, just a bit numb and hypersensitive at the same time. My nerve endings are all over the place and I have to kind of retrain them to get used to feeling again – like training my skin to not mind wearing a t-shirt. The incision site is right in my armpit again and that feels like I’ve got something uncomfortable wedged in there, like a scrunched up t-shirt and it’s quite sore.

Inside, I feel like I have a sticky out bone at the top of my spine that keeps scratching on my muscles when I move. This just needs a little adjusting to. My left lung keeps giving me a sharp pain when I breath deeply, or change position. Coughing is a nightmare. Everything hurts but you can’t stop a coughing fit – trust me I’ve tried. So, upon the recommendation of the physio, I’ve taken to clutching a rolled up towel to the centre of my chest which I push down on if I need to cough. I’m not sure how it helps but it does a bit. But, as Oli lovingly points out, it does make me look like I’m substituting a baby with an NHS towel (which I stole from the ward. But that’s what I pay my taxes for, right?)

I can’t lift my left arm any higher than a 90 degree angle yet, which makes doing absolutely anything take forever and is seriously funny. Getting dressed on my own is something else. I’d show you if it weren’t for my horrendously flabby bod.

The only thing that worries me a bit is that I have a tingling sensation in my smallest finger and my ring finger on my left hand. It hurts to touch and grip anything. It was fairly traumatic when I spent 10 minutes buttoning up my pj top only to discover I’d done them up wrong… This could be caused by the swelling pushing down on a nerve or it could be because the surgeon might’ve nicked the nerve. I’m hoping it’ll go away of it’s own accord so I’m trying to use it as much as possible, to get the strength back. Even typing kind of hurts.

One of a kind

Remember that I told you that it was a really rare thing for the problem to happen in my left arm as well as my right? Well, having the operation twice is almost unheard of – so I’m one of the lucky ones. A rare gem. I’m a vascular student’s dream.

If you need me this week, this is where my arse will be.

This meant that, as Tommy’s is a training hospital, there was always a student around eager to learn something new from my diagnosis. When I had the drain removed from my arm (it’s as horrendous as it sounds. Post op, I had a long ass tube coming out of my armpit which was connected to a bottle that filled up with all the gunk from my insides. When I went to the loo, I would carry this gross bottle in my left hand in front of me, like a really harrowing Florence Nightingale) the nurse told the student that ‘upper limb drains are really uncommon, you don’t see them often.’ I was like ‘Mate, I’ve had two in my lifetime’ to which he kindly informed me that in all his years working on the ward, he’d never seen someone go through this op more than once. Cheers Jesus for choosing me to do it all twice.

When I told my consultant about the pain I was in, he told me that it was likely to last three weeks because it’s like having a broken rib. Weirdly, I can’t tell you what that feels like but I recognise this pain as I’ve had it before.

Ps. In the pre op phase, my consultant began the preparation process by filling me in on the risks of the op, you know the normal bleeding/paralysis/winged shoulder blade/death blah blah blah. And then he casually added that with one patient, post operation they realised that they’d removed the wrong rib and had to do it all again. He’d not told me of this risk before, so it must have happened since my last op… I laughed – because what can you do? You’re about to be butchered! – and once again put my trust, and my body dressed in the most hideous pair of polyester knickers and a gown, in his hands.

The NHS ain’t perfect

Now, don’t get me wrong; I am grateful in every way for all of the help I’ve received from the NHS and it should 100 percent be protected from privatisation. Maybe it’s because I know what I’m doing now, but I’ve not had a nice time dealing with the NHS this time round.

After developing another clot in January, I’ve known that I would need the op, it’s just been a case of when. Through past experience – and advice from consultants – I knew that I couldn’t really be left more than a few months . Working on the same timescale as before, I was looking at a date in March. March came and went and I was told I could expect to have the op at the end of April. The end of April came and went with no word. I became a nuisance and chased every week but you’ve got to do it. I didn’t want to be forgotten about and it wasn’t fair to keep me waiting. I’d not even had a pre op assessment (you can’t have an operation without one) so I knew it wouldn’t be a case of just getting a last minute slot. I was in pain and miserable to be around because I was whinging all the time, because without plans, I had nothing to look forward to, nothing to work towards.

Not knowing a date was seriously frustrating for me. Working at a desk was painful to say the least and all the while I was injecting myself twice a day with blood thinner – something the haematologists told me they really shouldn’t do for very long. I ended up taking a big dose of them for much longer than had been anticipated. As a result, the bottom of my belly is bruised green and purple from the needles, and often, if I was out, I’d hit up in public loos, like a true junkie, only I wasn’t getting any joy out of it.

Convalescing at Hever Castle because I can’t face two weeks of doing nothing…

And then there was the aftercare. For the first time since all of this started, I didn’t feel entirely safe in the hands of some of the nurses. There were a lot of bank staff and nurses who had serious attitude problems and no one really told me what was going on or what medicines I was taking and why. And to top it all off, the morphine was making me so sick I couldn’t even argue or ask the nurses anything without throwing up.

The radiators were stuck on full for the entire 72 hours of my time in hospital, providing perfect breeding conditions for germs and bacteria, not to mention the uncomfortable sweatiness. It was vile. I couldn’t wait to get home. As predicted, on the day I was told I could go home at 10am, my blood tests showed that there was too much thinner in my blood (they’d bloody told me that back in February but said it was temporary) and then spent the entire day getting my new dose of thinners changed. I didn’t leave the hospital until 7pm.

The only saving grace is that by process of elimination, I don’t ever have to go through a rib resection ever again. I physically can’t. Whoop!

Change of Lifestyle

I’ve got some changes to make ahead of me. I’ve had a year now to come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to get rid of this problem completely and I’m totally okay with that. I’m not done with hospitals yet but I don’t have to go through any more major surgery, which means I can now focus on all of the good stuff.

I can’t wait to get back into the gym. I’ve not been since January because my clotty arm didn’t really let me but I can’t wait to get rid of my flabby belly and return to my cardio, which is good for the lungs and great for circulation.

Yoga. I need to stretch all the time. I’ve spent over a year now, hunching one arm or the other up to my ears in a bid to create better circulation and now it’s become habit. Its not good and I’m scared I’ll become the Hunchback of Notre Dame if I’m not careful. Anyone know of any good online courses? I’d love to go in for classes but they’re super expensive in London.

Massages. I’m going to need a whole load of massages to help my Hunchback of Notre Dame not to develop any more. They’re good for circulation too. Also they’re just lush aren’t they?

Nails. This isn’t a medical thing, I just really need them done. I deserve it, right?

 

New York City: Wake Up And Smell The Cawfee

I spent 3-5 days literally laughing until a bit of wee came out. Manhattan with the girls was AWESOME.

How the Spice Girls became the Spice Girls

The Spice Girls from left to right: Me, Chloë, Mum and Marie.

For Clo’s 21st birthday, Mum promised to take her to New York for some mother-daughter time. As time went on, the group grew (because who doesn’t want to go to Nee York?!) with family friends my mum’s age. Chatting to me over the dog and bone, mum was worried that Clo would need a youthful member to join her in the clique. Much like Katniss Everdene in the Hunger Games, I volunteered to take one for the team. Poor students/young professionals that us sisters are, we began saving. Ain’t no dollar gonna stop us from travelling. So there was four of us: Mum and Marie, the two grown ups (I use the term lightly), and two young’uns. The perfect recipe for a weekend city break – no boys thank you very much.

And made it! You’ll remember it was a little hit and miss for a while, thanks to Clot II. Armed with a set of horrendous flight socks despite the fact that I get blood clots in my ARMS. What a tit.

Palais de Airbnb

As a foursome, we were working with very different budgets and us being the povo students decided to introduced mum and Marie to Airbnb. I think it’s safe to say we did not convert them.

While a hotel room was going to cost around £700 for the three nights we were there (and we’d probably get two), our Airbnb was around £500 for the stay. Now, my experience with Airbnb is that you get what you pay for. In Croatia and Barcelona it served us really well, with clean, gorgeous little apartments providing us with everything we needed. Iceland was a bit hit and miss. New York was crap. But also hilarious.

When your mum has been to Central Park many times before and is less than impressed…

We should’ve known how things were going to pan out when we were left waiting outside for 40 minutes for the cleaner/housekeeper to bring us the key to the apartment at 10pm at night, and a young woman buzzed up to the ‘penthouse’ wearing a short, mid thigh length coat that left a little bit of flesh on show before the thigh high metallic silver stilettos began. Of course, she may have been the owner of the apartment who had just lost her keys or, of course, she could have been a lady of the night. No judgment either way of course.

Chloë ft. jazz hands in Times Square.

When the cleaner did finally show up with no apologies, she showed us up to a weird looking apartment at the end of a fag stinking corridor that was supposed to sleep five. It’s hard to imagine but I the apartment was split across three floors. So through the door on the right was a kitchen, the left a bathroom and then a little further on was a ‘bedroom’. I say ‘bedroom’ because the entire room was a double bed. At the end of the corridor it became a sort of balcony where you could go up to the open plan double bedroom or down to a living area. And the weirdest part was, there was an internal window at the end of the box room that looked out into the living room and upstairs bedroom so in the morning Marie could wake up, all Sleeping Beauty-like, open the window and bid us good morrow whilst we were still in bed.

Making a political statement outside the Trump Tower (and also being scared of all of the NYPD protection)

Moaning aside, the apartment provided us with a place to sleep and it wasn’t unliveable. It was situated in Midtown, and a stone’s throw from the Chrysler Building and Central Park. At the end of the day we were in New York baby!

Have your selfie stick licence With you at all times

This is my mum using her selfie stick to take a photo a the view. Need I say more?

We were well and truly jet lagged but you don’t have time for it when you’re only in the city for a short weekend. My advice? Man up and push through it. Plus, tiredness makes everything seem so much funnier and you end up giving your abs a proper workout purely from your hysteria.

Absolutely loved showing this cherub around the city (as if I knew where I was going…)

We didn’t go there to shop because, thanks to globalisation, pretty much everything we would’ve bought out there we could’ve picked up in the UK. Besides, it was Clo’s first time and who’s got time to go to Zara when you’ve got an entire city to see?

To see the sights, we opted for the City Pass. For £70 it got us into three attractions and allowed us to join the speedy queues. In my opinion, paying entry on three attractions is all you need. We used ours going up the Empire State Building, the Rockerfella and visiting Lady Liberty. You can screenshot the QR code on your phone too so it’s dead easy and no flapping about with bits of paper.

The Rockafeller building at night. The view from up here is even better than the Empire State Building because the Empire State is in the skyline.

(I say no flapping about but my mother still managed to lose her pass that she had emailed to a disused email address. This meant we had to go to Grand Central Station so she could get on to the wifi to then call the company to get a new one sent. They were very helpful with cancelling the lost pass and issuing a new one. Here’s a short video of Mum and Marie trying to work out why they couldn’t hear when BOTH OF THEIR PHONES WERE PLUGGED INTO THEIR SELFIE STICKS. I can’t even.)

Make use of the freebies

There are loads of free things to do in Manhattan – it’s one of those cities where sometimes all you need to do is see the sights. There’s Wallstreet, Times Square and Broadway. Walking the Skyline, seeing China Town, Soho, Central Park, Ground Zero. And if you can’t afford to shop, that’s no problem. There’s more to New York than Fifth Avenue.

Sisters on tour ft. Times Square.

Grubs up

If you’ve had any experience dining out Stateside, you’ll know that the meals are often the size of a baby elephant. Not in New York though, where fash-hun is paramount and being skinny is on trend, the portion sizes are not overwhelming. You’re safe here.

Chloë was nearly defeated by her french toast brioche avec cream brunch at the Hundred Acre in Soho.

Like all women on a city break, we were obsessed with brunch – which New York does really well. I’d recommend the Lexington Brass on 48th Street, Lexington Avenue (not for New York cheesecake though), just don’t order a Bloody Mary or the lining of your stomach will disintegrate from the pure Worcester sauce. And if you find yourself in Soho, Hundred Acres is a beautiful brunch spot with sweet and savoury on the menu – perfect for the quinoa and spinach lover. It’s the city that never sleeps – except is does. Things do actually close.

Mum and Clo in a swanky tapas place somewhere in Manhattan.


Marie and me sipping on pink fizz, resting our barking dogs (it’s a northern thing apparently…)

Showing Clo around the city was AMAZING. It’s like a film set isn’t it? The buildings are huge – puts London’s Shard to shame. I love it. I would absolutely love to live there, if it wasn’t for the crappy labour rights in the US. And Trump. It wasn’t until Clo said ‘there’s no space’ did it dawn on me that because of the block system, there is no room to breathe.

But who needs to breathe when you’re in Manhattan?

Released into the wild on medical parole

Alright geezers, what’s occurring? I’ve been meaning to write a post for days but if I’m honest, I’ve enjoyed just avoiding real life and doing sweet FA. I’ll try and keep this short and sweet for you but you know what I’m like; I luuuuurve to talk.

From farters to moaners

You all know about the serial farter who was in the bed opposite me (if not, you can read all about it here), well when I was put on to HDU I was moved into a different bay where there were only two beds. Whilst the first night I enjoyed having the room all to myself, the following a day a rather delightful elderly lady became my roommate. She was 79, very sweet, but what I can only describe as a moaner. This is someone who moans with every exhale. Whilst she was definitely in pain, she also had a very nervous disposition (her own words, I’m not being mean) and – no word of a lie – a cough like Gollum. So peace was disturbed with ‘oohs’ at every breath and copious amounts of phlegm. Remember, I was bed bound and couldn’t run away. It was nasty. Whenever the nurses came around with her medicine, she would say: ‘ooooh nooooo. Too many pills. I don’t want them all. There are too many’ and it would be a battle to reason with her. Whereas when the nurses came to me I was like ‘what have you got?’ When they offered me paracetamol or morphine, I know which one I’d rather choose. I opted for both. I’m not stupid…

I called the surgeon a mother f***er

Look at that golfball on the back of my hand! So attractive…

I didn’t mean to, it just came out. Whilst on thrombolysis I had to go down to theatre every day where they would take out the wire and tubes, run some radioactive tests and then put it all back in. I had no painkiller because technically there aren’t any nerves in your vein so ‘it doesn’t hurt’. But the pulling and fannying around at the point of incision in my arm (where the catheter went in) was so painful. And don’t forget I was lying down with my arm out, like half of Jesus on the cross, with the radiologist leaning over it. And after one particular yank of the catheter, I accidentally let out an audible ‘You mother f***er’ just as he/she (it happened twice on two different days) made eye contact with me. I know, it was unfortunate. I apologised but they found it funny, thank God.

Just because I’ve done it before doesn’t mean it hurt any less

16559079_10154743907521001_1737980801_nIt. Sucked. I’m not going to lie, the whole treatment was horrible. It hurt, I felt crap and it made me cry. Because I had to go to theatre every day, I was woken at 5:30am every day to try and eat some breakfast and have a drink because after 6am I was nil by mouth for pretty much four days in a row. I was so dehydrated I got a bit emotional. And you don’t know how long you’ll be on the treatment for – it’s decided on a day-to-day basis – so every 24 hours you get your hopes up that it will be taken out when you go for the check.

Because of the great progress over the first 24 hours, I was convinced I would be taken off it after 48 hours. And indeed when I was in theatre, the radiologists were impressed with the progress and decided to try and angioplast (balloon) the last bit of clot away. So they stretched my vein with three different sizes and the pain was unreal. It felt like my collarbone was going to explode. But it didn’t quite do what they wanted so I had to go back on thrombolysis for another 24 hours.

Although it doesn’t sound like that long, I was gutted. I had mum with me afterwards so I wasn’t on my own but when she left (after sorting out my hair for me – by spraying the dry shampoo directly into my right earhole) I broke down in tears. Which was sad because it made me look like a baby because my mum was leaving. Awkward… But you’re entitled to a bad day, right? Thursday was my bad day.

Bed blocking

I was taken off the treatment mid afternoon on Friday. I was so happy, you have no idea. I also knew what was coming: I would be discharged the following day and tasked with administering the blood thinning injections at home. Mum and myself were also aware that I was going to be discharged on a Saturday, when it’s skeleton staff and just a nightmare. So, anticipating the problem, we highlighted these forthcoming issues to the staff and asked them to sign everything off tonight so it would be ready for the following morning. Of course they didn’t do it. So I was showered and packed by 10am on Saturday, ahead of the ward rounds at around 10:30. Of course there was an emergency at 10:30 so the only team on on a Saturday were called to theatre – which really can’t be helped. I understand that, I’m not totally heartless! But it meant that they couldn’t get anything signed off until they were back. And that’s just the signature, they hadn’t even got the drugs from the pharmacy, which closes early on a Saturday. Anytime after it closes would require the on call pharmacist and the drama continues. Nightmare.

Anyway, after a full day of bed blocking on the High Dependency Unit, I was released into the wild. However great the NHS are, they have some serious issues. It’s not like I was holding up an ordinary bed either. And it was a paperwork problem that had been anticipated the day before. It’s ridiculous. I’m not saying I agree with Jezza Hunt but there does need to be a bit of an NHS shake up because bed blocking really doesn’t make sense, especially when it can be avoided.

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Breathing fresh air for the first time in six days. I had to have a sit down afterwards.

My health

As it stands, I’m in exactly the same position as I was this time last year. I still have a little bit of clot left in my left arm (the original clot was 4cm longish) so my hand still goes a bit blue when it’s in certain positions. I’m bruised everywhere but I’ve finally managed the art of injecting myself. Wahoo! I told Mum and Oli to back off, take the pressure off and then I just got on with it. I really am such a woos. But it means now that my belly is speckled with needle bruises, making me look like a proper crack head. I guess it’s no all bad because I’ve always wanted a bit of street credit.

I don’t know what’s around the corner, although I have a really strong sense of dejá vu. I’ll keep you updated when I start going to my outpatient’s appointments.

I’ve been given the medical go ahead for flying and, after a full day of chasing around (and being rejected by) travel insurance companies, I’ve finally found someone who will insure me so I’ll be heading off to New York next Thursday. Wahoo! And the cost? Well, put it this way, insurance for four days in NY with a history of blood clots, pulmonary embolisms and thoracic outlet syndromes accompanied by the latest drama, is dearer than when I spent 10 days in Occupied Territory of Palestine… Sorry, no holiday presents for you lot.

This is so not short and sweet is it? Oh well. As always, thank you for all of your support.

Love, Hollie xxx

I did the biggest wee of my life and I went into shock. For real!

I’m hooked up to all of the machines again now complete with metal wire up my vein. I’ve been on the treatment now for about 32 hours. The good news is that this time I can move a little bit which means I don’t have to use a bed pan! Instead, the lovely nurse can bring me a commode and I can sit down and wee. I feel like it’s too good to be true. The bad news is that this morning I peed so much that I went into shock. Yep, you heard that correctly. I did such a big wee that I passed out and threw up whilst drenched in my own sweat. What a beautiful vision for you. 

I’d been holding in a wee overnight because I couldn’t be bothered to move – I’d just got comfy. I totally forgot that I was attached to a load of fluid and whilst the normal amount of wee to pass is about 300ml, I went and did the biggest wee of my life, releasing a whopping 1300ml of pee from my body. That’s well over a litre of piss. As a result I went into shock. Good one Hols! 

Me pre thrombolysis. How I think I look


I’ll keep things short and sweet today. I went down to theatre again to check the treatment is working and it is. Judging by how easy the wire went into the clot, they reckon it’s a ‘young’ one – maybe a couple of weeks old? In the first 24 hours the thrombolysis has broken down the clot enough to break through it a bit but there’s still a lot around the edges in my vein. Hopefully just another 24 hours on the treatment will be enough but the longest you can be on the treatment for is 72hours so I’m not celebrating just yet. I know the drill. 

Gonna be honest, I don’t really want to be here today! I feel pants and look even worse! I have these weird vibrating cuff things on my legs to keep the circulation going while I am bed bound, but they’re so hot! Especially over my horrible TED socks. I’m just a bit uncomfortable and it hurts! The only way to describe it is like I have a metal wire up my vein from halfway up my upper arm, under my armpit and up to my collarbone. Which I do, so I should probably get over that! 

Me right now on thrombolysis. The ugliest sight ever and it’s got a filter on it. Photo courtesy of Oliver J Hill


I’ve had some ace visitors – even Max has been to see me, sans dog poop on his shoe. Mum’s temporarily sorted out my vile, unwashed hair (until tomorrow) and I’ve had some great food from M&S downstairs. This year I’ve ventured away from the chilli prawns a bit… 

Alright the geezers, I’ve had enough of this writing malarkey – I’ve got a cup of tea to drink and a ginger nut to dunk. S’laters xxxx 

Ps. I’ve just heard the old lady fart again from down the ward. I’m not even in her bay! Poor woman… (I’m still grossed out/laughing though. I’m going to hell!)

Guess who’s back? Back again. 

I wasn’t going to write a post today, but something just happened that made me gag and wet myself laughing so much that I just have to share it. 

There I am, minding my own business and just chilling in my bed when the legless, elderly woman opposite me asked for the commode. I knew what was coming so as the nurse pulled her curtains around her, I plugged my headphones in and blasted a bit of Ed Sheeran so I wouldn’t hear her pee. 

After what I thought was a decent enough time to relieve one’s bladder, I took my headphones out. Big mistake. Just as I did, she let out the biggest, wettest fart I have ever heard in my entire life. And by biggest I mean it was seriously loud AND IT DIDN’T STOP. Well, it did stop but only for a split second before it started again. I think she was pooping. 

I was gagging and laughing so much I had to put my headphones in and blast my music in my ears so loud I couldn’t hear myself think. That was half an hour ago and I’m scared to check if the coast is clear. I’m scarred. And scared. 

Anyway, just to keep you in the loop, today I didn’t end up being put on thrombosis – that’s been postponed until tomorrow now. So I had a small procedure just to take some photos to confirm the clot was there (duh). I’m not going to go into it too much because it winds me up. There was a bit of a mix up and I didn’t find out that I wasn’t going on the treatment today until I was on the freakin’ table… 

We don’t know for sure what the plan is yet after the treatment but when it’s over and I’m home, I’ll be back to injecting myself (I have to be an adult about it this time and not get mum or Oli to do it!) with blood thinning treatment and then in the long term they’ll look into changing my anticoagulant that I take every day. Oh and there was talk of me having my left top rib removed at a later date. Déjà vu.

This time around, I’m just not thinking about the things I’m going to be missing out on. Hopefully I’ll still be able to go on my trip to New York with ma sis and ma mam and some pals in a couple of weeks. Nope. Not thinking about it at all. 

Any ways, I’m back on the ward I was on last time where some of the nurses recognise me (Oli says it’s like I’m a celebrity…) and judging by my roommates, I’m reminded that I should be thankful that I’m under 25 and in possession of all four of my limbs!

Clot Wars Episode II: The Clot Strikes Back

Friends, family, esteemed colleagues and devoted followers. I have gathered you here today to inform you that my body seems to have welcomed Clot the Second into One’s system. Yep, that’s right; I have another blood clot, this time in my left arm. Dejá sodding blue.

On Thursday I went to see my consultant for what we both anticipated to be the final instalment. I was due to be signed off. A clot free woman. Heaven forbid, a normal, healthy human being. Whoopeeee! However, I’ve had a niggling feeling since Monday that something wasn’t right. I waited until my prearranged appointment to address the problem (rather than go through A&E again) where my suspicions were confirmed.

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Look at my beautiful Christmas pjs from Shirley. Oh, and my purple left arm.

Although being in possession of a DVT isn’t the healthiest of scenarios, I’m not as upset as you might think. I’m in such a strong position compared to last time. I recognised the signs, listened to my body and caught it sooner rather than later. It’s small, it’s just under my left collar bone – maybe an inch long? (I don’t actually know how long an inch is to be honest.) Anyways, because it’s not an immediate life or death emergency, I was sent home and have been booked in for treatment on Monday. And I know what to expect so I’m not feeling horrendous, just a bit off – which is to be expected when one’s arm is swollen and blue.

Come Monday, I’ll be back up to HDU, or similar, to undergo thrombolisis (the one where I am bed bound and attached to a drip for a few days). I’ll be nill-by-mouth for most of it so I’ll come out dead skinny. I’m thinking of it as a bit like that new celeb craze where they pay loads of money to go to a ‘vitamin farm’ to be put on a detox and are attached to a vitamin enriched drip to make them feel vibrant and healthy again. It’ll be like that only I’ll be doing it for free on the NHS. Sort of…

Of course it frustratingly had to happen at a time when I was due to start a pretty cool and exciting work related thing next week. A thing that was going to set my career soaring off to great heights – but as mum says, it doesn’t look like I’m not destined to make my millions easily! That’s what I’m most bummed about, not the clot. Needless to say I’ve lost a bit of perspective here. Oh well, everything happens for a reason!

So, one year and one day since I was first diagnosed with a blood clot, I’ve only gone and done it again. My body has let the team down. It would seem that I have been tempting fate and rather than coming off the blood thinners as I had hoped, I’ll be increasing the dosage.

The reason I’m clotting isn’t clear yet but one step at a time. Let’s get rid of Clot the Second first before we start preventing Clot the Turd – I mean Third.

(Oh and by the way I have Raynauds Syndrome which is why my right hand was still turning blue. But that doesn’t cause clots so that’s a total relief.)

I guess you’ll be hearing a bit more from me as the hospital diaries continue next week. And rest safe in the knowledge that come Monday evening I’ll be back peeing in a bed pan. Great. 👍🏼

Happy Blue Year! Here’s what I’ve learnt one year on

Exactly one year ago today, I wandered through the doors of A&E, thus beginning what I like to call my ‘hospital dramz’, otherwise known to many as the ‘clot saga’. Now, I’m not going to bore you with the whole sorry tale again (because Mum keeps telling me that it was ‘so last year’) but I will enlighten you with the nuggets of wisdom I have acquired over the past year.

Following two stints in hospital and the removal of one rib, I feel I have gained enough experience to teach you how to deal with certain situations, for example, should you ever find yourself on a ward being  accidentally flashed by an old lady’s bum from the bed opposite.

Okay, so here’s what I’ve learned:

Listen to your body

giphy-1Seriously because I didn’t for a long time. I did that really British thing of not wanting to be a nuisance and instead I waited until my arm went permanently blue and I couldn’t stand up without getting breathless. I even had to sit down to brush my teeth and I still chose to overlook the signs. I increased the time I spent at the gym too, just to make sure that the reason I couldn’t breathe wasn’t down to being unfit. In hindsight, I should have just accepted that I wasn’t well and taken an ambulance to hospital. But hey ho! You live and learn, right?

You need your wits about you

giphyWhy is it that when you’re at your absolute lowest, you need to pay attention the most? Just when you find yourself off your tits on drugs, that’s when the consultant will come around and tell you what’s the matter with you. And they’ll say it in the longest words they know, sometimes surrounded by a bunch of students too. And you’ll say that you understand but really, you’ve not taken anything in and are instead contemplating how long you’ll be constipated for. Because of the meds, okay? And, whilst the NHS is truly fantastic, it really needs to work on its communication skills. For example, the letters. The many, many letters; letting you know about your next appointment, your current appointment, your previous appointments. Here’s some advice for you: read them, keep them and put them in a labelled folder. Over the past year, I have been seeing two consultants, each from a different department in the same hospital, both of whom have been feeding back to my GP. Sometimes there’s new information in them, sometimes they clear things up and sometimes they’ll call you Olive (genuinely happened to me). So, yeah, keep your wits about you and make sure your are crystal clear about what is going on with you. It is your body after all.

You will run out of sick days

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I know, right? Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t matter how ill you are or how many doctor’s notes you give to your work, it will get to the point where work will pay you no longer. Unfortunately for the sick, your employers are not legally obliged to keep you on full pay whilst you’re ill. Once you’ve reached the limit of fully paid sick days, you will be put on Statutory Sick Pay which is paid for by your employer. This is a weekly sum of £88.45 for up to 28 weeks. That’s around £353 a month. Whilst I’m not being ungrateful for the help, the realisation of the drastic drop in pay did send me into a spiral of panic. There were a few dodgy days when I realised that I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent and my small pot of ‘savings’ wouldn’t cover it either. I felt that my only option was to brave the London commute and return to work earlier than I had anticipated. Looking back, I wish I had listened to my body and thought eff it to the money. But we’re not all that lucky so just bear this in mind if you ever find yourself needing long periods of time off work due to illness. And always keep HR in the loop.

I have a lot of friends

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And I mean A LOT. Yep that is a brag. Sometimes I feel like I don’t think I know enough people to fill a car but it turns out that I have some pretty fabulous friends and family. I had friends that sent me care packages; family members who passed out on my hospital bed; a dad who cleared out M&S at St Thomas for me; a boyfriend who, along the journey, discovered that the thought of veins made him faint; family who came up from Somerset for the day; friends who nearly killed me with laughter; a best friend who’s a nurse who called me up to tell me I ‘could’ve died’, even though everyone else was skirting around the issue; and of course those ‘second’ mums who reassured me that I ‘didn’t look that bad’ and the second mums who told me I’ve got an oil slick in my hair. And just because I’d left hospital, the love didn’t stop there. So if you’re ever feeling like no one cares, you’re wrong.

It’s okay to want your mum

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It turns out that just because you’ve moved out, you earn your own money, do your own washing (most of it) and cook your own meals (cheers boyfriend), it doesn’t mean that you don’t need your mum any more. In hospital, I tried so hard to be a grown up but I just wanted mum. And it’s okay because Oli also needed Ki’s dry sense of humour. Whilst the two of us were panicking a bit, Ki liked to point out when the old lady opposite’s gown split wide open revealing her arse when she bent over. Yeah, thanks Ki. But also in the aftermath, it’s okay to call your mum just to say: ‘Holy shit, mum.’ And she gets it.

Big knickers will save your life

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Literally. I’m not even being dramatic (I cross my heart and hope to die (actually no death here please)). I mean anyone who wears a thong or a cheeky lace number in hospital is either not ill enough to be there, or they’re there for a cosmetic boob job. Wear the comfiest, ugliest knickers to your heart’s content. I’m talking about the ones that come up to under your boobs. In fact, ditch the bra and your pants can double up as an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder. Yeah, those. Hell, even after you’ve left hospital insist on wearing them because if you don’t you’ll get more blood clots (researchers have found that there’s a direct correlation between wearing big knickers and your recovery time*). Enjoy it because there will come a time when you’re off the meds and you’ll be forced to accept that big knickers are not welcome in society, even under layers of clothing.

*researchers have found nothing of the sort but your average Joe doesn’t know that…

When life gives you lemons… stick a wedge in your G&T

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Yeah, okay being in and out of hospital sucked and the fact that it’s still ongoing ain’t great but I’m still alive and I can still do everything that I could do before. Now, I just know by body a bit better and I know that I have limits. But I’m not going to let those limits stop me. This year, I still got to go to Palestine, to Calais, to Barcelona, to Iceland and do so many more cool things. Besides it’s a great story and gave me some great writing material. And I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them that I’ve had a rib out and it didn’t make me any skinner. Can you believe it? I’ve been mugged off man.