Spare A Thought - Moore, Oklahoma

UK weather varies but most of the time it feels like it’s raining. Even in the summer the thing most people remember is the rain and we complain about it. I know this because I’ve done my fair share of complaining over the last few weeks. I can’t wait for the sun to make an appearance and pray that it will stay around for a while. Us Brits are great at complaining, we’re experts. We complain when it’s rainy and want the sun to come out but when it arrives we moan about it being too hot - we’re never satisfied. 

Here’s the thing - we don’t get extreme weather. You know, like tornadoes.

Oklahoma gets tornadoes. Swirling vortexes of wind that pelt giant golf ball sized hail stones to the ground, have winds of over 200mph and leave complete destruction in their wake. When I was watching BBC News this morning and saw the report on the Oklahoma tornado I gasped. Houses destroyed, schools flattened. People missing and, so far, 24 confirmed dead and that includes seven children. Seeing that obliterated school made me want to cry, I can’t imagine what the parents are going through right now and my heart goes out to them. 

Being in the UK I have never seen a tornado, don’t think I’d want to. I haven’t experienced what a hurricane is like or what an earthquake is like. People in the US have to live with the risk of these things all the time and, when they happen, they pick up the pieces and rebuild. Next time you complain about the weather spare a thought for those that really have to suffer through it, those that have to face the loss of their home and sometimes the loss of someone they love. 

Today the weather is alright, it’s not sunny but it’s not raining either. The forecast for the weekend says it’s getting colder again and it’s going to rain but I’m trying not to complain too much. I think those in Oklahoma have a lot more to complain about. My best hopes and wishes go out to all the residents of Moore, Oklahoma. xx

End in Sight?

For more than a year I’ve suffered with shortness of breath. Constantly. I’ve had blood tests, been for chest x-rays and had various medication. Eventually I was diagnosed with Asthma and have been working my way through all the different kinds of medication, all to no avail. I still feel like I did a year ago, I still can’t run upstairs and any change in the weather results in me feeling like I have an elephant sat on my chest!

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease and there are roughly 5.1 million sufferers in the UK. The most common symptoms are breathing difficulties, coughing and wheezing and these can be triggered by any number of things including hay fever, colds, flu, weather conditions and smoke or smoking. A good source of information is Asthma UK where they have pages full of helpful information about dealing with asthma.

I had Asthma back when I was a teenager but it didn’t last long and wasn’t very bad. The only medication I had was Ventolin and that was just in case I got out of breath at any time. I did okay as a kid, it didn’t really stop me from doing anything but these days it stops me from doing a lot of things. I have had a cough for roughly the same amount of time that I’ve had the shortness of breath. In the past year I’ve had lots of chest infections, had to have various rounds of steroid tablets and antibiotics and constantly have to think about what I’m doing or where I’m going, just in case I run into any triggers. I can’t run around in the garden with the kids, I can’t walk too far if it’s windy and I can’t spend all day cleaning the house like I used to. These days I have to do the cleaning in stages, taking breaks every 20 minutes or so to ensure that I don’t get too out of breath. If I go too far then I’m done for the day. I’m left with very little energy and struggling to breath for the rest of the day.

At the moment I’m on a steroid inhaler, tablets I have to take every night and I have to carry around another inhaler with me in case I need it, which I do. All the time. On a usual day I will drive to school which is about a mile away, park in the car park and walk the, roughly, 200 yards into the school to drop off the kids. Sunny days are great, I will only have to take the inhaler a couple of times but on days like today when it is rainy and cold I will take my reliever about 4 or 5 times before returning to my car. That is all in the space of about 30 minutes.

After months of return visits to the GP she finally gave in and referred me to a specialist. I have an appointment with a consultant in Respiratory Medicine tomorrow. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time and I’m hoping that I can tell him what’s been happening and he will say ‘Aha! I know just the thing’, present me with a wonderful medicine and everything will be back to normal. I’m hoping.

Salad Vs Chocolate

The last time I wrote about my weight I’d just reached a new best ever and was really pleased. I couldn’t believe I’d done it and it felt fantastic to be able to get into my smallest clothes. Like many of you I’m sure, I keep a lot of different sizes in my wardrobe. My smallest was one pair of size 12 jeans (I have lots of these now and even need a 10 in some styles!) and my biggest was lots of size 18 things.

For years my weight has been up and down and I’ve never really found a good way of keeping it under control. It can be really disheartening when you think you’re doing everything you can and you’re still not losing weight or, in fact, gaining. Every time I’ve been on a weight loss ‘campaign’ I’ve struggled, it always seemed really hard to shift that baby fat, even years after having the baby! 

Well this time has been like magic. I’ve been unable to do exercise because of having bad asthma so I’ve had to resort to other ways of trying to lose the weight. Strangely it seems to have worked better than any other time! I’ve cut my portion sizes, I’ve cut down on the chocolate (but not cut out) and I’ve tried to be mindful of that evil that we call ‘bread’.  Every day I weigh myself first thing in a morning. Sometimes I lose more than a pound, sometimes I put on two but my general trend is down, still. I’ve been on this campaign for more than a year and in that time I’ve lost almost four and a half stone! 

The family can’t believe it and constantly tell me how great I look but at the same time they tell me I don’t need to lose any more. Sometimes even saying that I look too thin! Here’s my thing - no, I’m not overweight anymore but I’m not at my ideal weight either. Yes, I’m happy. Very happy in fact and feel fantastic, I have more energy (most of the time) and think it’s great to be able to go into a shop and *know* they will have my size. However, when I started this I had a target and I’m still 6 pounds away from that. I won’t stop until I reach that target. This weight loss is for no one but me and although I’m pleased with progress unless I reach that target I’ll feel like I failed somehow. This is the first time that that target has been in sight and I don’t intend to let it drift away now.

I’ve written before about letting people make their own decisions when it comes to eating chocolate and losing weight and I still believe that but my experience has taught me that I felt a lot more lethargic and was less able to keep up with the kids when I was heavier. Also, it is possible to do it without doing the exercise. This was a big thing for me this time because I thought it would be harder. I can’t even go up the stairs without being out of breath so cardio exercise was a no -go. After losing most of my weight I do go on the exercise bike for 20 minutes a day now but I don’t push myself too much. These lungs of mine are still not fixed and ending up in hospital because of that exercise is not an option. 

For me, what’s worked best is cutting my portion sizes. I don’t eat the same amount as the hubby anymore, like I used to. For the most part the weight dropped off when my body realised what I was doing. The great thing is that now I can go out for a meal, have a takeaway or munch on some chocolate and know that in a few days the effects of it all will be gone. The funny thing is these days I’ll choose a salad over a takeaway! Well… sometimes I will.

Nagging From A Four Year Old

When my eldest was four years old I thought life was easy, he went to school part time, played with toys when he was at home and hadn’t been introduced to computer games. He wasn’t aware of the internet or that he could go to classes like Taekwondo. In some ways I think this was a bad thing, he’s never been very good at making friends or talking to new people and eventually he did start going to Taekwondo classes. After a while he got bored and decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. He is a quiet boy who enjoys being inside sketching or colouring in, it’s just who he is (kind of like me).

My youngest has just turned four and is his brother’s opposite, he loves being outside and is full of energy from the moment he wakes up to the second he falls asleep. He was introduced to computer games when he was about one, I think. He watched his brother and his dad play games and when he was walking around and picking things up one of his favourite toys was the Xbox controller (and still is). He is much more outgoing than his older brother, has lots of friends and is already nagging me about doing things. For months now he’s been asking me about starting going to Taekwondo classes and yesterday he’d had enough, he refused to wait any longer (admittedly I’d been putting it off).

I was sat using the Macbook and he sat next to me and demanded that I go on the internet and ask if he could go to the ‘special school’. As soon as the page loaded he knew I was in the right place and asked what the answer was. I needed to phone them but he didn’t understand why I couldn’t just ask them on the page, he was not happy. Now, every second he gets he asks me if today is when he can go to the special school. 

That is not the only nagging I get, the youngest is head strong and knows what he wants and if he doesn’t get it can throw one hell of a hissy fit. So, while I was on the internet yesterday he requested I get some DVD’s, he’d seen Batman on the TV and wanted it and then he’d already watched all of his Ben 10 episodes and wanted more of them. I have a funny feeling that he is going to be the one constantly asking for things and wanting the latest technology. 

Sometimes I don’t mind the nagging, it makes me realise that he’s growing up, he’s not my baby anymore but I don’t like being asked more than a hundred times a day to do something. Maybe it’s just his way of paying me back, my constant nagging to get shoes on in a morning or get their coat on for school must be really annoying. Hopefully once he’s started his classes then he’ll be entertained enough not to nag me anymore… Or maybe not.