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?

 

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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?

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!

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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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

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

Video: Scafell Pike. Visibility 0%

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Myself and Oliver J Hill took on the challenge of climbing Scafell Pike in the Lake District back in March. We’re two thirds of the way in taking on the Three Peaks Challenge (climbing the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales in ‘one go’ – usually 24hours. These peaks are Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England, and Snowdon in Wales) – only we’re doing it across a couple of years. Yeah, alright, so I’m not that fit okay?

We took on Snowdon around the same time in 2014 and this was the view from the top:

View from the top on Mount Snowdon in April 2014

View from the top of Mount Snowdon in April 2014 avec champagne nonetheless.

It was fair to say we were sozzled.

So we planned to take on Scafell Pike in the same manner. The day we arrived in Cumbria we went to check out the mountain. This was the view:

View of Scafell Pike in Cumbria on March 27, 2015. It was a stunning sight.

As you can imagine, our expectations were high.

We woke up the next day and this is what it looked like:

View from the bottom of Scafell Pike March 28, 2015. Far from what it was like the day before.

I was raining, it was windy and it was so cold. But it’s okay because we came prepared:

Hollie and Oli take on Scafell Pike.

Confident that I looked like Lara Croft and Oli looked like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, we took on the challenge anyway. Here’s a video I made for you all to laugh at. It was shot on my iPhone and bear in mind IT WAS SO COLD that the touch screen couldn’t recognise my fingers and I gave up filming. But it was such a laugh.

Anyway, enjoy.

Hollie and Oli take on Scafell Pike from Hollie Borland on Vimeo.

I tasted ice cream made with breast milk and it tasted…

…Normal to be honest.

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This is a genuine product I promise you. Royal Baby Gaga is a vanilla flavoured ice cream made with breast-milk.

It is the brain child of breastfeeding campaigner Victoria Hiley released to hit the shelves to coincide with the Royal Birth. Read more about it on the MailOnline.

Breast-milk though. Why? It is the most off putting ingredient and name of a FOOD product I can think of. It’s just that it’s ice cream made from someone else’s boob. An actual human nunga-nunga. That’s weird. Like really, really weird. I know that it’s a natural sustenance packed with nutrients – and for many of us it’s the first thing we tasted in this world – but that’s is not enough for me to put a spoonful of someone else’s boob juice in my mouth.

So anyway, it was my task to take it to the streets of London and ask normal people to try this abnormal ice cream (Before you ask yes I did tell people what it was made of before I asked them to try it and I also had to clarify that it wasn’t made from my booby essence).

It was then, when I was walking around with an open tub of ice cream, that a bit of the stuff was on my finger and I subconsciously LICKED IT OFF.

And it tasted vanillary and ice creamy and generally like a high quality dessert supplement. I no longer feared the tub.

I can see the point that creator Victoria is making – my society influenced expectation told me breast milk is a nasty thing when actually it’s nothing to be feared. I understand. But available in the shop for £19.99 a tub I think I will stick to Ben & Jerry’s thank you very much.

Watch what happened when I asked people on the street to try it.

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Click the picture above to take you to the video on the MailOnline.

 

Mumsnet, 999 calls and two-year-olds

Front page of the West Somerset County Gazette. Listen to Toby's 999 phone call here.

Front page of the West Somerset County Gazette. Listen to Toby’s 999 phone call here.

The latest Mumsnet campaign revealed some shocking statistics: 37% of parents have not yet taught their children to call 999. That’s shocking.

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To be honest, I’ve only ever had to do it once and it was the scariest thing ever, and I grew up with a mum who was a nurse who emblazed the necessary information on my brain.

I was clued up. I can’t even imagine what it’s like in an emergency for someone who doesn’t have a Scooby-doo what to do.

But another key issue that came out of the study was that a large number of those parents didn’t think that their child was “mature” enough to know that sort of thing.

Thus I bring your attention to Toby Thomas, the two-year-old who saved his mother’s life.

I wrote the story for the Somerset County Gazette – read the full story here.

Danielle Thomas was knocked unconscious after falling down the stairs in her house whilst carrying some washing.

Two-year-old Toby got help by calling 999 and subsequently letting the emergency services into the house.

Something Danielle said to me was that she hadn’t really taught any of that information to Toby because “he was too young”.

Understandably, with hindsight her opinion had changed.

Although I don’t have a child of my own, I can’t emphasize it enough – teach your child how and when to call 999.

You never know, they could save your life.

Mums net campaign features a brave five-year-old who made the call that saved her mum’s life.

What radicalised me

I believe in gender equality. Do you?

I believe in gender equality. Do you?

I’m a feminist. I am. And sometimes, I’m not entirely sure why, but I feel embarrassed to say it. The term, more often than not, is greeted with a roll of the eyes, a funny look, a patronising conversation or a shameful glance away. I guess that’s why a lot of women and men don’t say it aloud. Maybe it’s because of the social stigma associated with equal rights activists created over a couple of centuries ago. But I shouldn’t feel ashamed because of it, and I certainly shouldn’t want to avoid the subject. Anyone who believes in equal rights for women is a feminist. So be proud and say it aloud: I am a feminist.

I went to an all girls’ school, so yes, we were often on the receiving end of lesbian jokes, sexual banter and quite degrading comments outside of school, particularly from the nearby boys’ school. I was sometimes put in an awkward position in conversation where sexual ‘banter’ was thrown around and I wouldn’t be able to catch up, or where I’d feel so uncomfortable I wanted to implode, but I would brush it aside; I thought that was how you interacted with the opposite sex.

From what I can remember, I was only made to sit through one or two ‘don’t let being a woman stop you from doing what you want to’ assemblies, and I distinctly remember looking to my friends and rolling my eyes, thinking blah blah blah. Sexism is so old fashioned, I thought. This Head Teacher (who was a woman and we never referred to her as our Head Mistress) was so out of touch. The school was a grammar school, so we were pretty much a bunch of determined young girls who aimed high, never even considering sexism to be an obstacle we would have to face.

It wasn’t until after I left school that I realised that sexism was a problem. I was being introduced to women my age or a little older, who were convinced that their partner’s career was more important than their own, that being viewed as a sexual object was necessary to gain social respect, that life would inevitably result in the giving up of a career in order to bring up children. I found myself arguing. I was suddenly challenging things that I had previously accepted to be normal. I’m not saying these ambitions are wrong, I’m saying that women who don’t know that they have a choice, that’s wrong. One woman I worked with said to me that her work was less important than her husband’s career because she will only ever have a ‘job’.

In the UK, women hold less than a third of top jobs and earn 14.9% less than men. There are only 146 female MPs compared to 502 males MPs. Why is this? Why don’t women feel the need to demand more? Like men? I don’t always blame the employer, but I do blame society for not encouraging women to achieve more. If a woman decides not to pursue her own career, then I agree with their decision. If a woman feels forced into giving up her career to look after her children, then I don’t agree.

We’ve only ever had one female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who despite being the butt of many a joke, is the longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th century and was elected PM in three consecutive general elections. Yet, society cannot see past her gender, sometimes blaming her sex for her faults. Male PMs are slated and hated all the time (take Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for instance) yet still we insist on voting more men into power. The future of one woman should not be determined by the actions of her female predecessor, ever. Gender should never be an issue.

And for that reason, I am a feminist.