QUIZ: How long can YOU laugh at Donald Trump?

Here’s a fun game for you. I’ve rounded up some of the best quotes ever said by the President-Elect of the United States of America, Donald Trump. All you have to do is see how many you can read before you stop rofl-ing (‘roll on the floor laughing’ for all of you oldies 😉 ). Remember to let me know how far you get by commenting below this post! Good luck!

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1. “I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke.”
True dat Donald.

2. “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.” 
There’s beauty in Donald Trump? You joker, you 😉

3. “It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming!”
When I’m cold, I joke about the legend of global warming too. Ha!

4. “As everybody knows, but the haters and losers refuse to acknowledge, I do not wear a ‘wig.’ My hair may not be perfect, but it’s mine.”
Okay Donald, whatever you say *eye rolls affectionately*

giphy-25. “My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”
Assuring us that your dick is big? Aw standard bloke, eh! 😆

6. “My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.”
Using social media for the greater good. A real life superhero.

7. “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”
Using ‘love’ to turn an aggressive tweet into a passive aggressive tweet. LOL.

8. “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
Buuuuuuuuuuurn.

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9. “Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”
Ooosh! When Donald says the thing no one was thinking but made us laugh anyway. Lol.

10. “Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father…”
Bit gross about your daughter Ivanka, but we’ll overlook it because The Donald is L-O-L.

11. “Blood coming out of her wherever.”
Alright, periods aren’t your fave! Thanks for pointing it out you comedian 😂

12. “I have a great relationship with the blacks.”
Classic ‘us and them’ 😅

13. “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me. Believe me. And I’ll build it very inexpensively. I’ll build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Bossing people from another country around! Man’s got balls. 😂😂

14. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Classic racist banter on Mexicans from The Donald.

15. “Now, the poor guy, you’ve got to see this guy: ‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. Uhh, I don’t remember,’ he’s going like ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said.”
Undermining a reporter with an impression of his disability. Such a joker.

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16. “Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Referring to himself in the third person 😂 All aboard the banter bus!

17. “Women. You have to treat ‘em like shit.”
Bit harsh but all in good humour, eh?

18. “I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
HA! That’s a joke right?

19. “I just start kissing them [women]. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Erm, struggling to find the punchline there, hun.

When does Donald Trump stop sounding like a joke?

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When I went to the Jungle refugee camp in Calais

It’s easy to comment on something like the refugee crisis, particularly when it feels like the news is dominated with stories about refugees. About how their tragic journeys ended at the bottom of the sea, or those being forced to live in squalor whilst they seek asylum or how refugees are the cause of terrorist attacks, raped and disorder. It’s less easy to get off my fat ass and do something about it.

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Actually, that’s a lie. You just need a little time to spare and be prepared to slum it a little. There are so many different organisations calling for volunteers that all you need to do is drop them a line on Facebook and you’ll have a meeting point and a contact. I got in touch with Tunbridge Wells based Wonderwoman, Val Osborne, the brains behind the charity RefugEase, and volunteered in the Jungle camp in Calais.

Aside from my own personal adventure (sorting through the warehouse, piling into a van with eight strangers, being locked out of a crappy hotel room, sleeping eight in two beds, getting a flat tyre on a Sunday in France etc.) I really think it’s something everyone should experience. You can’t truly understand something until you’ve experienced it yourself. Of course, I’m not comparing my weekend volunteering in a refugee camp to the plight of families fleeing war-torn countries but going to hear their stories first hand is the closest I can get right now.

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Most of those living in the camp are men and teenage boys from all over the world, particularly Eritrea and Afghanistan. The reality is that boys and men are more likely to be fleeing because they are a) prime targets for conscription and because b) men earn more money. As a white, blonde girl from Kent, I’ll admit that at first I felt a bit intimidated. Another reason that I needed to go and see the camp for myself – to get over those occasional irrational presumptions.

The camp reminded me of a music festival, with it’s quirky, makeshift tuck shops and restaurants lining the main street. A bit like Glastonbury but at the end of the weekend when the stench from the overflowing toilets clings to the inside of your nostrils and bits of people’s beddings are strewn across the pathway and the see of damaged tents are a sorry sight. But the people were friendly enough.

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You’d be naive to think that every person living in the camp are refugees and this is another reason I wanted to go. I met people with stories of war torn hometowns, tales of young boys fleeing conscription, older brothers who feared for their gun wielding siblings. People recalled their fond memories of affluent homes in the up and coming areas of town, about the cars they have at home and about the families they left behind.

But I also heard stories of people who were offered asylum in Italy and Germany but had run away for a life in the UK. One man even told me about how he was already granted asylum in the UK and was given a British passport, until it was held by police when he was granted parole after being arrested for drunkenly assaulting a police officer. He then smuggled himself out of the UK to visit his mother in Afghanistan. It’s hard to sympathise when someone’s story starts like that.

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But then you remember where you are: in a stinking squalor. People don’t chose that for themselves. Refugees and economic migrants alike tell stories about sinking lifeboats, drowning friends, being smuggled across borders, walking across countries on foot, being rejected by the inhabitants of every city you travel through, leaving behind family and friends.

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And then it doesn’t really matter what their backstory is because at the end of the day these people are here and they need help. And if that help means a warm blanket to sleep under, sufficient food to keep them alive and a game of cricket to keep their spirits up them so be it.

<The problem is here, right now and it’s on our doorstep, so stop closing your door.

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Brexit means Brexit! Whatever the Supreme Court decides

It’s the case of the Brexiteers!

You may have seen in the news that the Supreme Court are making a decision on Brexit. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be filling in the blanks yourself (who’s got time to read more than the headline?). I keep hearing people cheering in the streets (sort of) that if the Supreme Court rule against the government then Brexit won’t happen! Hoorah! 

I just need to clarify something: Brexit is going to happen, regardless of the Supreme Court ruling.

Could you imagine the constitutional crisis that would cause if Parliament or the Supreme Court decided to overrule a decision that the people had voted for? (Because whatever way you look at it, the majority of those who voted wanted out of the EU) Could you imagine the whole can of worms that would open? Next thing we know, we’ll vote for a government in thenext General Election and the old government would say “er no. We don’t like your decision so we’re going to do our own thing.” And we’d just be standing there, waving our flag of democracy and they would stamp their feet on it. No, thank you for the offer, but I’m not so keen on that version of events. Count me out.

So what’s it all about then?

When the nation voted for Britain’s exit from the EU (and after the whole all-of-the-politicians-resigning-from-their-jobs debacle), PM Theresa May put a date on it. She announced that Britain will invoke Article 50 (the get out clause of the EU) by the end of March 2017. No ifs, no buts. This is when it’s going to happen. 

Now, this angered a lot of pro-European politicians who feel that this is far too soon to leave the EU, that it’s not enough time for Britain to negotiate the best possible exit plans with the European Union/the rest of the world. Many politicians believe that it is their right as an MP to vote on when Article 50 should be triggered and the government are executing non-existent absolute power to do this.

The other thing MPs are pretty bummed about is exactly what Theresa May is negotiating and with who. What are the aims? Who are we selling our souls to? While many politicians understand that the finer details of these negotiations need to be kept on the downlow, they don’t agree with how shady the government are over these deals.

So, in come the British Influence (also known as their catchier title the Centre for British Influence Through Europe). This is an independent organisation made up of people from all different parties who believe Britain is better in Europe. Now, they’ve hired an army of kick ass lawyers to take the government to court (yep, you can totally do that) in the hope that Parliament will be able to vote on how we Brexit. But of course, the government also has some kick ass lawyers. If this was the olden days, it would be an epic sword fight but it’s not, so complicated words being thrown around in a rather boring looking room will have to do. 

Now, back in November, British Influence won the case in the High Court who agreed that MPs should be allowed to vote on Brexit. Because we are a fair and gracious land (ha!) we are allowed to appeal a court decision. That’s exactly what the government did. They’ve appealed the decision and so the case has to be heard all over again in the Supreme Court. 

So you see, the decision isn’t if we Brexit it’s how we Brexit.

What even is the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. That means if a case has been tried in a lower court, like a Crown Court or a High Court, and someone appeals the decision, it may then be heard in courts higher up the chain until it reaches the creme-de-la-creme of courts in the United Kingdom. What they decide, goes. 
So the government is appealing that decision made in November.

There are 11 Supreme Court Justices (men and women in funny wigs, or if you’re a Daily Mail reader “enemies of the public”) who will be judging the trial. Starting from December 5th 2016, they’ll be listening to the case for four days and then will deliver a verdict in January. They all have to agree. 

Even though I just said that the Supreme Court gets the final say, it actually doesn’t. Because we’re still actually under EU law, the loser will be able appeal the decision again and it will be heard in the European Courts, then they will have the final say. Oh the irony, right?

What happens if they rule in favour of the government?

If they rule in favour of the government, then Theresa May and the rest of her Tory negotiators can continue on their merry way with their secret, shady Brexit plans. Like ripping off a plaster and getting it over with. As you were, men. 

What happens if they rule against the government?

Then the Brexit decisions will have to go to a vote in Parliament. Although this is fantastic democratic practice (so no one party is dictating the deals) it could massively slow down the whole process of leaving the EU. Although this is kind of the point, it is likely to have detrimental effects on a UK’s exit being successful. 

Think about it, in Parliament the votes never say “hi MPs, do you have a solution to this mega problem?” By the time the issue gets to Parliament, the question is “here’s the problem, here’s our solution, do you agree?” If the answer is no, the whole long ass process begins again to find an alternative solution. Could you imagine if that happened for every tiny Brexit decision?

The other thing to think about is that we’ve really pissed off the EU. They’re making it pretty clear that they want us to naff off asap. Like really ragin’. So, like a stroppy ex, they’re leaving us out of meetings and posh dinners because they’re saying that we’re not allowed a say on future EU decisions if we’re not going to be part of it. they have a point. But whilst we’re pretending that Theresa May not being invited to the EU Christmas dinner doesn’t bother us, this means we’re also left out getting chummy with future trade partners etc. Over all, the longer we’re excluded from these things, the dodgier our position is for the future. 

So…

So, the key thing to take away from this long-ass explanation is that Brexit really does mean Brexit. And if you don’t agree with what’s happening or you do agree with what’s happening, don’t pipe down! Keep saying how you feel about politics because we don’t live in a dictatorship and the people influencing policy is how this country works, not by people shutting up. So…

Keep shouting! (but still be friends)

Iceland: Winter Road Trip

People who’ve been to Iceland told me that once you’ve been, you won’t need to go back. I can’t say that I agree. In fact, I’m already planning my next trip out there.

Dreaming of snow

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Back in late September, Oli and myself found ourselves looking online, hunting for some winter snow. We wanted somewhere beautiful and secluded, away from our typical city breaks. We had visions of us staying in the mountains in log cabins, wrapping up warm and going for walks in the snow. That’s how we came across Iceland.

We booked five days away (with a early morning flight home on the sixth day)’ spending two nights in the capital city, Reykjavík, and then we planned to go ‘beyond the wall’ (Game of Thrones was filmed there),  into the mountains to stay at the capital in the north, Akureyri.

Doing it on a budget

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There’s no denying it, Iceland is SO expensive. Think London prices and some. It suffered badly in the 2008 economic crash plus its tourism industry was screwed over when Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in 2010. That, combined with the fact that pretty much everything is imported, means that the excruciating VAT prices could be the make or break of your Viking trip. But don’t let it be. Icelanders are suffering too and there are ways to get around it.

There’s a little bit of a housing crisis going on in Reykjavík at the moment as so many Icelanders are converting parts of their houses into Airbnbs to earn more dollar, so there are plenty to choose from. We stayed two nights in an apartment in the capital, with a shared kitchen and bathroom. That cost us around £130. Don’t be put off by the thought of sharing with other people because it saves you money and you’re out all day every day anyway so you’ll hardly even care. As long as where you sleep is warm!

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The best way to avoid the eye watering cost of eating out in Iceland is to stay in places that have a kitchen. Your average KFC meal will set you back a tenner each and a meal for two in your local Italian restaurant with two soft drinks, will cost you around £50 together. Instead, head over to the local BONUS (the cheapest supermarket around. Don’t get caught out like we did by shopping at the equivalent to Waitrose on our first shop…) and buy ingredients you can cook at home.

Because we’re not millionaires, we even went as far as bringing a bag of rice and some chicken stock from home and grabbing some fresh veg whilst we were out there so we could make veggie risotto. We also picked up ingredients for breakfast and sandwiches and general road trip snacks. Don’t go overboard though – the more money you save on food means the more money you have to spend on the fun things!

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There’s no denying the fact that there’s SO MUCH TO SEE in Iceland. BUT all of the sights are quite spread out (due to being forces of nature, Icelanders had no choice where to put their tourist attractions. Sorry about that). There are day excursions that will take you on mini tours but they are going to set you back at least £150 per excursion, and trust me, you’ll want to do at least three or four of them. Of course the benefit of going on a tour is that you don’t have to think about getting from A to B but you can do it so much cheaper if you hire a car and share the cost with some pals…

(Ps. Iceland don’t really do cash – it’s cards all the way!)

Getting around

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I would definitely recommend hiring a car and planning a road trip around Iceland. If you’re going in summer, your bog standard two-wheel drive will do the job just fine. However, if you’re looking to go in winter, I would highly recommend you get yourself a four-wheel drive. Petrol is a little bit more expensive than in the UK but when it’s shared between two of you it’s really not a lot considering how much distance you cover!

We were suckered into the cheap price offered by the hire car company for a two-wheel drive. We ended up with a very fashionable (not) pea-green Renault clio. However, we were caught out by the unreliable weather and ended up driving through a snowstorm in the mountains. To give you some idea of how scarey it was, they have reflective posts on either side of the road stations every 10m or so and at some points we couldn’t seem them until they were at our window… Our four hour drive to the north turned into a tense seven-hour trek. But Oli is a cool-as-a-cucumber driver and totally aced it so never fear!

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As soon as the snow hits, drivers will realise that they are never far away from a snow plough, keeping the roads clear. However, it’s worth noting that during winter, almost all of the roads become closed at some point and iced over. You can keep an eye on what the roads are doing on your trip here.

Embrace the weather

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There’s a saying in Iceland that goes: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” There’s a reason for that.

Because of the way the land lies, the weather is temperamental to say the least. It’s unpredictable and subject to major mood swings. That means that whatever time of year you go, you’re never guaranteed sunshine for your whole trip.

For us snow-hunters, Iceland didn’t disappoint. It snowed alright. From the moment we stepped of the plane, we were slapped round the faces by the bitterly cold, icy, sea wind. Little did we know – and nor did the Icelanders – that the weekend ahead was going to be the biggest snowstorm of the year so far.

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This stunning, Nordic country is home to volcanoes, mountains, thermal springs, geysers and so much more, which enables it to be powered almost entirely by green energy. It experiences long, hard winter nights and equally long, days in the summer. In January, sunrises at around 11am and sets at around 1pm, and in August the sun sets at midnight and rises at around 3am. When you head out to Iceland, you want to see it all!

However, the intense snowfall did prevent us from seeing many of the things on our bucket list. It didn’t ruin our trip though – far from it.  We got to see the beautiful countryside covered in a blanket of snow. And I’ll tell you this for free, the views don’t get any less impressive!

And what about the Northern Lights? I hear you ask. Like many tourists who seek them out, we were disappointed. They can be seen from Iceland between September and April but of course you are then cursed with cloud cover. It’s just hit and miss really and it just gives me an excuse to go back and find them! You can check out the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights on your trip here.

You can keep an eye on the weather in Iceland here.

Doing it again

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If I were to do it again (which I totally will), I’d go out there with a bunch of pals – and Oli of course! – I’d hire a four-by-four car, and I’d map out a route before booking where to stay. Then I’d stay in different places every night en route.

Although the south is on the tourist run (the Golden Circle route is a tourist fave), I would still head north because there’s so much to see there too. Getting off the beaten track a bit is fun and makes the road trip that little bit more special.

Got any questions? Get in touch either via the contact page or catch me on Twitter @HollieBorland.

When we got home, we were looking through our photos and found a bunch of me where I really should have taken my Ray Bans off. In fact, I looked like Stevie Wonder. Just for laughs, and because we have bare photoshop skills, we transformed me into the Three Blind Mice. I’m crying with laughter! 

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The bittersweet destruction of the Calais ‘Jungle’

Today marks the first day of the destruction of the Calais Jungle. Around 60 buses will leave the camp, taking with them around 3000 troubled souls to accommodation centres where they will be registered and their fates decided. Tomorrow there will be 45 more buses and 40 the day after that.

Since 1999, the camp has grown from a few hundred tents to a home for around 6,000 to 10,000 refugees and migrants who are trying to enter the UK via the Eurotunnel and ferry crossing. Yes, there are showers, there are small businesses and some cafes and restaurants have electricity and wifi.

The majority of people living there are men because adolescent boys are the prime targets for Taliban recruitment and army conscription in civil wars. Families living in poverty tend to send their sons away in search of better wages because the sad reality is that men are paid more. There are estimated 400 unaccompanied children living in the camp.

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These guys run the Kids Café. Just inside the door is a hand-scribbled list of names pinned on a post. It’s titled: ‘Have you seen these children?’

The Jungle is a dangerous place. There is insufficient sanitation, poor washing facilities and sleeping arrangements are cramped, temporary and leaves people vulnerable. Drug culture and violence are rife. There are often intercultural clashes. Men, women, children and volunteers are victims of rape.There’s no one to protect a common law, apart from French riot police armed with rubber bullets and teargas. The camp needs to be destroyed.

People flee homelands from all over the world: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria; Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burma and Vietnam. They have all made the most horrific journeys with traffickers, crossing war-torn lands and seas in sinking boats. Some have lost friends, some family, some both. But when all seems lost, they find the strength to continue to reach their goal: the UK.

But seeing the destruction of the camp won’t make these people go away. We’re just moving the problem to somewhere else. Out of sight, out of mind right? Wrong. Because these people have gone through too much to give up at the last hurdle. And what about the people who are already on route? They’re going to keep on coming, keep moving towards to UK via Calais. Remember, they’re chasing a dream – a dream which the United Kingdom has sold them.

London Calling: Outside the camp, graffiti artist Banksy has sprayed a picture of Steve Jobs who was the son of a Syrian refugee.

London Calling: Outside the camp, graffiti artist Banksy has sprayed a picture of Steve Jobs who was the son of a Syrian refugee.

The news that the move has meant that so far around 70 children have been reunited with family in the UK, at least 43 of them young, unaccompanied girls who have been brought here to safety under the Dubs Amendment. Some have been taken into foster care, whilst others have been forced to stay in a ‘pre-departure’ immigration detention unit called Cedars near Gatwick airport.

However, as I write this, the latest census by humanitarian organisation Help Refugees has found that there are still 49 unaccompanied children in the Calais camp who are 13-years old or younger. All are eligible for resettlement in the UK under the same act.

I’d like to think that all of the residents of the Jungle are being taken somewhere safer and that their futures are bright. However, whilst the threat of deportation and trafficking still hangs over their heads, I can’t help but feel a little apprehensive. If I’m feeling like this then God only knows what it feels like to be a refugee in Calais.

Once in a blue MoonWalk

We did it! We actually did it. Sam, mum and myself walked 26.2 miles around London starting just before midnight.

Before! Full of such optimism...

Before! Full of such optimism…

I’d not exactly been training as much as I had hope to when I signed up but had managed to squeeze in a few longer walks with mum and Oli but nothing prepared me for how long a marathon is! I thought it would be the sleep deprivation that would do me in but it was definitely the distance. My feet are now dead.

Also, I don’t know if this little confession will get us arrested, but we did a wee in St. James’ Park. The toilet queue was SO LONG and we were literally on the verge of wetting ourselves and well…

We weren’t the only ones, okay? If you’d walked past St. James’ Park in the really early hours of Sunday morning, you

After. Feeling like champions!

After. Feeling like champions!

would have seen many a moons. Better than having it trickling down your legs, right?

Anyway, I’ll keep things short and sweet as Chloë and myself are off to Palestine tomorrow on a women’s cultural exchange (as you do). We’re off to the Holy Land. And in similar fashion to when Mary and Joseph were summoned to Bethlehem, I also haven’t got my s**t together. In fact, I’m hobbling still from the big walk so I’m not ruling out that I too may arrive on a donkey.

I’m not going to write too much about it because I’ve still got to get through Israeli border control! I’m not sure I’ll be able to blog much whilst we’re out there but we’ll let you know how we get on afterwards, when we return from our Bible Crawl (like a pub crawl but you go to places mentioned in the Bible, like Bethlehem, Jericho, Jerusalem etc.)

Thank you to everyone who donated to the MoonWalk and to this trip to Palestine. I promise I’ll stop begging for your hard earned cash. For now… xxx

Nay! My veins doth protest

Being inside my head right now is like when we used to travel down to the South of France in a five seater SAAB, but when we were slightly older. Clo, Max and myself would squish in the back seats (Max forced in the middle because we still tried the ‘your legs are shorter’. Even when he was 14, we knew it was Clo who had the shorter legs), trying to ignore bits of the three weeks worth of holiday packing digging into the back of our heads, and at our feet. It was a logistical nightmare and mega uncomfortable but you got through the 12 hour overnight journey because at the end of it was a holiday.

All of the crap we insisted on packing in the car is how much space this hospital dramz is taking up inside my head. Us five represents the rest of my life. I’m trying to look forward, make plans and crack on with life but if you scratch the surface you’ll probably watch me melt.

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When your sister takes the pee out of your hospital selfie…

Sorry, that was a rubbish analogy! And I really don’t want to sound moany and mopey because I’m not, I’m just in a bit of a weird place right now. I’m all fine and dandy and then I get an appointment letter through the post, or have another hospital trip, or my hand turns blue and I worry. Because it is still blue. The procedure hasn’t worked. But don’t worry it’s not all hopeless!

I’m not going to beat around the bush, last Friday’s procedure was horrible. I forgot that just because I’ve had it done before doesn’t mean I am immune to the pain. And where I should have been on the table for around 45minutes, I was there for 2hours. My veins on my left arm just don’t want to play ball any more and after five attempts to get a cannula in they ended up putting another one of those operation sheets you see on Holby City on my left arm too and using an ultrasound, local anaesthetic and a micro plunger (it’s not called that at all but me and dad couldn’t remember for shit what they told us it was called so we renamed it and say it with confidence in the hope people believe us) to get access. This was so they could give me a sedative for the angioplasty.

Last time I had one of these, it hurt but I kinda kept slipping in and out of consciousness because I hadn’t eaten for four days so the sedative worked like a treat. This time the sedative hit me AFTER the procedure. Typical.

Also it was lol because after the X-ray bit, the Interventional Radiology team (who remembered me from before) brought down my consultant to look at the results. I could see him over my feet behind the glass, both of my arms were pinned down so I couldn’t wave or call out so I did this really lame thing of laying flat on my back but rolling my eyes all the way down so I could see my feet and then I kind of raised my eyebrows in acknowledgement. I’m surprised they didn’t think I was having a fit. (It’s hard to describe so if you would like a demonstration of what I looked like, just ask when you next see me and I’ll be more than happy to oblige.)

Being a patient on the table isn’t very sociable. In fact you’re just a specimen aren’t you? Thank god for the nurses who remember that you’re a person. Needless to say, my consultant didn’t acknowledge me. So I was rejected too. Awkward.

Anyways, I’m all fine now. I went back to work on Monday. My arms are speckled with all of the green bruises from the needles but I’ve heard polka dot is totally in this season.

My last moan I promise: this whole hospital dramz is exhausting. Like I said before, I’m ALWAYS thinking about it. I’m obsessed with checking the colour of my hand, I’m knackered of trying to plan things but also with the knowledge that I might have another hospital trip. Im trying to balance work with hospital life, making sure I’m still getting paid. I’m constantly yo-yoing with my emotions at every hospital trip – there’s a long wait between each appointment before we can decide what the next step is. It’s time consuming! And I’m super excited to get rid of the blueness but also a bit sad at the thought of not having it any more. It’s my party trick.

Also it’s sinking in what the ‘rest of your life’ really means. I’ve started to look at it like diabetes or something. Like I know it’s there, I have to be aware of it, I have to take important meds for it, but it won’t stop me from doing much. Except the bloods consultant told me I won’t be able to skydive and I genuinely got a bit tearful. Not that I skydive everyday but I’m suddenly one of those people who have limits and that sucks.

Now I really don’t mean to cause offence because this really isn’t a bad thing, it’s an observation: it’s exhausting reassuring everyone else that I’m fine. Sometimes I just want to say ‘nope, I’m not okay. I’m actually really nervous about going to hospital and I hurt like a mother, it really effing sucks and I CAN’T SKYDIVE.’ But I don’t want to worry all of you lovely people, or for you to be upset for me, or worry about me, because I’m doing superduper okay. It’s just that sometimes I can’t help but think it’s all just so crappy.

HOWEVER, a mega benefit of said blue situation is that I have my own theme tune. I’ve taken to walking up to people and annoyingly shoving my purpley index in people’s faces singing ‘blue finger’ to the tune of Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger. I like to see their alarm on their faces as I saunter off humming the rest of the song. They think I’m leaving because I’m an allusive woman. It’s actually because I haven’t come up with the next line to the song…

If you fancy sponsoring Mum, Sam and myself for the Moonwalk on Saturday night, you can do HERE. Thanks if you already have done!

One other thing: PALESTINE NEXT WEEK. To be continued…

BLUE ARM-Y!

Hi friends!! Long time no speak. I’m really sorry that this post is so poorly written but I’m just busy catching up on a social life at the moment! I’m making up for lost time you see.

I have some bon news: the rib resection worked and up by my collarbone my vein is all clear and dandy and so everything is just great. Super great.

Minor dramz: My hand still goes very blue. I thought this was because the operation hadn’t worked but it’s actually because of scaring on the vein further down my arm. This is from the treatment I had when I first went in to hospital – remember the one that gave me a fliddy arm? Yeah, that one. So there is a restriction on the blood flow further down my arm and yes it could cause a clot BUT it won’t because I’m on blood thinners and they can treat it before it is even given a chance to cause a clot.

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My hand still goes blue… but hopefully not for much longer!

So next Friday I have to go through (hopefully) one last procedure. It’s an invasive X-Ray which I had four times before when I had the thrombolisis treatment, so I’m totes not scared. It’s under local anaesthetic and they have to go into my vein and inject some dye and see where exactly the blood is being restricted. And then if they find anything, they can treat it there and then which means no going home, waiting for results and then waiting for treatment! YAY!

This is great news because I was totally gearing myself up for having to have a stent (a plastic tube put in the vein to keep it open wide) but the consultant reeeeeeeeally doesn’t want to do that.

How long I will need to remain on blood thinners for is dependent on the X-Ray next week and what other treatment I may need is also dependent on next week. So I can’t really tell you more, just that I might never have a blue hand again or I’ll have to have physio to deal with it in future etc.

Also the consultant said that he’s really impressed with how I’ve coped with the pain and no biggie but I feel like a total teachers pet. So yeah, I’m amazing.

I took mum with me to the appointment and she came out buzzing and said that I didn’t need her there because I handled it all so well. I beg to differ because I called her twice after to explain to me why it was good news again. Also she came out of the appointment so pleased and told me ‘you need to move on and get over it now. It’s not all about you you know.’ I’m so happy that I have my mum to ground me. But really I did nearly DIE.

Speaking of ‘other people’, my not-so-little sister turned 21 last weekend and we celebrated it with her friends Lydia and Tessa in BARCELONA. And I totally made the flight. Although it crippled me to pay £14.99 on a pair of ugly flight socks. I splashed out for an extra pound and got an odourless pair. Anyways… Barca was siiiiiiick! I think one of my favourite cities ever. We didn’t really sleep, we drank a lot and I’ve downloaded a Spanish app and I’m going to live there when I’m 25.

Other things I have to look forward to in the next month (that I can totally do now that I’m pretty much all fixed)  is walking the Moon Walk with mum on 14th May. Just to reiterate, that’s 26 miles, throughout the night, wearing my bra on the outside and in my mother’s company. It’s karma because I haven’t been to the gym in ages and couldn’t wear a bra for a few months. If you would like to donate some of your hard earned cash to our fundraising page (in aid of Breast Cancer Research) then you can do so by clicking HERE.

Donate!

Representing ‘Hopscotch Montessori Nursery’ at the Moonwalk.

The other thing I’m super looking forward to is a trip to Palestine avec ma soeur. That’s right, Chloë and myself are heading on over to the Middle East on a cultural exchange with a Twinning-in-Action Project by CADFA. We’ll spend ten days hanging out with Palestinian women our own age on their home turf. I’ll let you know more about this project nearer the time (we’re heading off 19th May-30th May) but again, if you’re feeling charitable we are more than willing to accept your money which will go towards the twining project… (sorry I’m aware that I’m getting beggy!) If you would like to donate you can do it HERE.

Anyway, I must dash. I’m just off to Scotland with Oli to climb Ben Nevis. As always, I’ll keep you updated! (Particularly when I have to wear one of those gowns with my arse out next week…!)

Love to you all and thanks for all of your support xxxxx

The Ultimate Feminist

“The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” – Genesis 2:22

The Bible story goes that God took one of Adam’s ribs and from it, he made Eve. As it turns out, that rib hasn’t really worked out for me so I’ve become the ultimate feminist and chucked it right back at God. Take that Man!

[Of course I jest. I’ve tried this joke on a few people before but I’ve always ended up having to explain it. However, the Sunday before the op I went to church for the christening of a friend’s daughter. Of course this meant that the whole Catholic gang gathered, plus parents. I told them this joke and they CRACKED up. Like genuinely laughed first time. I can always rely on a Catholic crowd to get a good old religious joke. Amen.]

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Post-op selfie!

So, I underwent operation-top-right-rib-removal (I’m sure that’s the medical name for it) a week ago today (Tuesday March 15th) and it all went well and dandy. At least I think it did. I’m not overly sure because I was off my face on morphine when the registrar came round to talk to me post op… In fact, I can’t wait for my follow up appointment so I can actually find out exactly what went on. I was in no fit state to care when I was in hospital!

I have a scar about three inches long right in my armpit. Lush. It’s really bruised at the moment but healing well. There is absolutely no way under the sun that I can put a razor to my right armpit so I’ve embraced the traditional feminist under arm hair-do. Oh what freedom!

I also think I suffered from a collapsed lung during the operation so it really hurt to breath at first. Coughing, burping, laughing and yawning still hurts quite a bit but when you’ve got Mum, Dad and Oli round, none of the above are avoidable!

Oli’s been great throughout the whole sordid business. He took me into hospital for the 7am admission and kept me laughing whilst I went through the pre-op process. Particularly when I had to put the disposable knickers on. They were tragic…

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Oli couldn’t understand why I asked him to not read this article in the pre-op waiting room…

Being a grown-up going for a planned op is weird. Firstly, I signed the consent form that said that some of the risks of having the operation is that it might cause me DVT and PEs and I was like, er, excuse me but I’m having this operation so that I don’t get any more DVTs and PEs… Secondly, I had to walk myself to the anaesthetic table! The nurses who came around to get me were around the same age as me and said: “I thought they had your age wrong when I saw what op you were having. But the paperwork is right – you are 23!” What can I say? I’m a rare case, you’re luck to have me 😉

After coming round from the anaesthetic, I had to stay on the resuscitation ward for six and half hours! This isn’t the best situation to be in but St Thomas’ was in a desperate bed situation and there was no room for me on any wards. In the end I managed to use the phone to call Mum and Oli to let them know I was okay and then I just lay back and enjoyed being attached to a morphine pump. I honestly can’t remember a lot about the next 48 hours…

Oh, don’t worry about Mum and Oli by the way. They weren’t too worried as they’d spent the day in cafes, pubs and going for lunch!

Big shout out to second mama Clare by the way, who came to get me dressed and ready for Dad to take me home. She changed my knickers when I was three-years-old and she’s still doing it when I’m 23. Cheers Clare! xxx

So, what happens next? Well, I’m gonna be honest, I’m still experiencing blueness. The same as it was before I had the operation – no way as bad as when I had a big old clot though which is good. The blueness is probably still happening because there is still a bit of residual clot in my arm, which they couldn’t get rid of before. The blueness might be something that just happens and I’ll have to learn to live with it, adapting my lifestyle to make sure it never gets too bad, or it might mean that I need to have a stent (a tube of metal) put into the vein to make sure it’s as open as possible for the blood to flow through.

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Me in my NHS get up.

None of this is a surprise to me so please don’t worry about it – I’m not! I needed the rib out because that was the original clot causer and that’s gone but the residual clot could still be a problem. Either way, it’s going to take a few more months of monitoring by the bloods team and the vascular team at St Thomas’ before they can be sure of what needs to happen next. I’ll probably be on the blood-thinners for at least another 3-6 months.

The reason I’m needing so much attention is because by the time I arrived in A&E nearly two months ago, the situation was pretty bad. Had I not gone in on that day, the next tell-tale sign that I had anything wrong with me would have been when I had a stroke or heart attack. I was that close. But we can’t dwell on what might have happened because it didn’t. I’m okay.  As ever though, I’ll keep you updated.

For now, I’m just concentrating on getting better – and I’m having a right proper laugh whilst doing it! I can’t raise my arm above my head, or get the wound wet yet so I’m having to be bathed. And getting dressed is proving to be a bit of a pain and generally doing stuff takes me ages. But when you have a family like mine, it’s something to laugh at, not something to be pitied for. Even Oli has bathed me, dressed me and washed, blowdried and attempted to tie up my hair. I feel this goes above and beyond the duties of a 22-year-old boyfriend. Although he did moan a bit: “Why do girls have their hair so long? Washing it takes forever! And then there’s brushing it and blowdrying it…” So very funny.

I’m also not wearing a bra again and enjoying it. Again, on the feminist theme, I might just  burn them all…

I’m just looking forward to getting my life back to normal asap! In the words of Peter Pan: “I can fly!” (on a plane) and I can drink (in moderation) and once the bruising has gone down, I should be able to do all of the normal things a normal person can do.

Like shave my right armpit for one…

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The dreaded DVT socks. Sexy.

A cheeky pre-op update

Hiya, me again. Off to hospital again. Same old…

Except it’s not the same old because this time I’m prepared *flexes muscles*. This is the beauty of a planned hospital trip, I know what to pack, what not to pack, what time to arrive, where to go and I know roughly how long I’ll be there for.

Here’s what’s going in my bag:

Hospital Bag

(A cheeky illustration drawn by me.)

Here’s a brief lowdown for all for you – I promise I won’t keep you long.

Oli’s coming in with me to St Thomas’ Hospital for 7am (for real I have an early start) and I’ll be nil-by-mouth. I’m on the morning list but you never know someone might be a higher priority to me so hey ho. The op should only take around an hour and I should only be in for 24 hours, 48 if I’m in a lot of pain. Then I’ll poodle off on my way home to Hotel Mum and Dad for a couple of weeks because it’s logical – they have heating, food and Max who will *happily* be my slave. My personal nurse. Pahahaaaaaa.

However, I must let you know that there is a possibility that they could open me up and decide that it’s too dangerous to remove the rib. This is good really because I don’t want them to take any unnecessary risks. But bad because you know, I want my life back!

Here’s just an update on what I know so far:

  • There’s nothing wrong with the way my blood clots. This is a good sign that the cause is very likely to be a pinch on my vein, so a cheeky rib removal should do the trick. This means I can fly! Hello Barcelona for Chloë’s 21st! Travel insurance has gone go considerably though… B*****ds.
  • I’ve been back at work for a few weeks now, splitting my hours between being in the office and being at home. Typing hurts. I think the cause of the trouble was sitting at a desk that isn’t the right height for me. It’s probably given me a bit of bad posture, I’ve built up the muscle and then it’s pinched on the vein. So I’ll have to get something done about that.
  • I’m loving telling people I have a syndrome. Particularly when I call shotgun on the front seat, or if something I do isn’t quite right. People tend to get awkward when I say: “Yeah but I have a syndrome, a genuine disability. That’s why I can’t sit in the back of a car.”
  • I’m likely to be off work for two weeks plus, but we’ll just see how I’m feeling afterwards. One step at a time eh?

I’m not going to lie, I’m bricking it a little bit so I won’t pick up the phone to anyone before the op, and straight after I’ll be high as a kite so I won’t pick up the phone to anyone then either. Don’t be offended! But Oli and mum will be on hand so drop them a text if you want a response tomorrow!

Until my next blog post, read Chloë’s post about her trip to Lesvos. She worked her balls off helping the boats come in from Turkey over night and the Dutch press are all over the work they were doing – she even made it to their news. Chloë B for Prime Minister, I say.

Read ‘When one door closes…’ here.

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Chloë helping a young boy off the boat from Turkey, as caught by Dutch cameras.