Little Update!

I’ve not blogged for about ten days, which for me is quite a while! I’ve felt like there’s not been much to say over the last couple of weeks.

So what’s been happening?

Last Sunday, my lovely friend Karen ran the London Marathon for MS-UK. As she had a charity spot, she had a £2000 target to hit, which I’m pleased to say she did. She didn’t have the race she’d been planning because of the heat. But she did it! What an absolute champion!

Lou dragged me to Body Pump on Monday, then I spent the subsequent five days not being able to walk. I found this particularly amusing as I’d shared my story on our work intranet in aid of MS Awareness Week. All I could think was that people will have read my story, then seen me walking really strangely. Then put two and two together and ended up with five 😂. It certainly gave me a little chuckle!

The last couple of days, Dave and I have been glamping! When I found out about going for Lemtrada this year, I knew we’d have to get a break in sooner rather than later. We had thought about trying to get over to Athens for a couple of nights, but it’s just not going to he possible. So instead we’ve found ourselves in a “Pod” on a campsite between Blackpool and Preston.

Although the weather was abysmal, it’s been so lovely to just recharge. I actually prefer the bad weather to it having been roasting. Plus, as the weather was bad, it was nice to not feel compelled to do something just because it was nice. I think I needed to just more or less stop!

I’ve had increasingly itchy feet again – you know what I get like when I’ve not heard from my specialists for a bit. Today I came home to some fab news though.

I’VE BEEN APPROVED FOR LEMTRADA!

This is such a relief. I know I got told that the evaluation panel thing is “just a tickbox exercise” but it was still worrying me a bit. So now it’s just a case of waiting (oh there’s a change!) for a date.

On the plus side I’m still avoiding a lumbar puncture, YAY!

Finally, I’ve started reading a book called “The Unmapped Mind.” It’s written by a guy who has relapsing remitting MS, and has also had Lemtrada. It’s a combination of his memoirs along with everything he learned along the way. I’ll be giving a full review once I’ve finished!

Five Minutes in the Morning

A few months ago I was in Sainsbury’s and picked up a book. It’s called “Five Minutes in the Morning – A Focus Journal”.

It’s usually priced at £10 but I was chuffed that it was only £4 (oh the joy of the January sale!)

The idea is, you take five minutes in the morning (duh!) to take stock of the day. Check in with yourself and how you’re feeling. Set some intentions for the day.

I’ve not used it really – it’s such a beautiful book, that I didn’t really want to write in it. I do like “workbook” style things though. I like having something to do.

Now even though this is designed for in the morning, I think I can get so much from this at any time of day.

So this evening I completed the first activity.

An exercise to start writing.

I was tasked with spending five minutes just writing about how I would introduce myself to somebody, and here’s what I wrote:

Hi, I’m Joanna, but most people call me Jo. Except Dave. He calls me Joey. Dave is my other half and he very much completes me. We’ve been together for five years and have a little boxer doggy called Poppy who’s three.

In my spare time I enjoy reading and writing (I have a blog), and going to the gym. I’m a bit of a fadder, but that just means that I never get too bored!

In my spare time, I work for a big energy company in learning and development. I’ve done it for 13 years and genuinely love it!

I’m originally from Essex, but moved to Wigan 8 years ago, which is the best thing I’ve ever done.

I love letters and I currently have six pen pals, and the list is growing.”

I reflected on what I’d written. I feel it’s a fair insight into me but I’m also shocked by what I’d missed out. My love for gin, herbal tea and coffee is missing. Happily, I don’t let my recent diagnosis define me; I felt no need to mention that in my introduction.

After my first experience with this book, I’m definitely going to start using it more. If you’re interested, I managed to get another couple of them on Amazon for £4 – they’re easy to get your hands on. I gifted one to Kate as she shares a love for writing and I got the feeling she’d enjoy using a similar kind of book.

I think it’ll be really nice to dip in and out of occasionally, and give me a little pre-blog warm up or inspiration!

Have a go at this activity yourself – I’d love to read your five minute introductions.

Feet. (pt 2)

Well I am floundering on this challenge this month. Unsure on whether it’s alternative priorities or a real resistance to the feet! The second week is to list how you can treat your feet more.

You know the work colleague I was talking about the other day, the one that loves doing people’s feet? I told her that I was doing this challenge and she’s offered to do mine for me. Mine are that bad though, that it’ll be a big step for me to be brave enough to let her do it.

Dave and I like to visit home bargains, probably once a week. I generally have the plan of popping in, getting what I need and getting the hell back out. Dave has a preference for looking at EVERY SINGLE AISLE.

During the searching of every single aisle, I came across this:

20180209_195921.jpg

At 69p, I couldn’t say no, especially in the spirit of the “love my feet” challenge. Well about the best they did, was make them smell reasonably average.

20180209_200443.jpg

So in the meantime, I scoured Pinterest (because if in doubt, you always turn to Pinterest) looking for tips on how to do a home pedicure, because them boots really weren’t cutting it!

Following a good look through what Pinterest had to offer, and drawing on it to create my own answer, here’s what I’ve come up with as a plan of action for my feet pampering. Week 3’s challenge is to actually carry it out!

1: Soak feet in apple cider, vinegar and water with epsom salts. I’ll probably add a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil too, as I doubt this will smell good.

2: Exfoliate feet – it’ll be time to rock out another home remedy for this! I think a nice peppermint salt scrub will do the trick! I’ll knock one together in the next week or so and post what I do! I’ll probably use a foot file as well or something to make sure that I give them the much needed TLC they deserve!

3: Foot Lotion – again, this is probably one where I’ll knock something together that works really deeply

4: Paint Them – this is the bit that might not (probably won’t) happen. I’m so messy with stuff like that, but I guess now is the time to practice, whilst it’s not flip flop season!

I’ll be back in a week to tell you how this has gone!

 

 

The worst tracksuit I’ve ever seen!

I was a late starter with boys. It wasn’t for lack of interest on my part. It was more a lack of interest in me.

My first boyfriend, Vince, was at 18. We’d been really close friends for ages, but I did that thing where I fell for him. He had all sorts of issues with his ex-girlfriend though. She was awful to him, and all I could think of, was how much better I could have treated him. We did eventually get together but we weren’t really seeing each other for more than about 4 or 5 months.

I don’t really remember things ending with us. It just must have done. To this day, I think of him fondly. A couple of years ago in fact, I had a missed call from him. I called him back, and it turned out he’d just “bum dialled” me but we had a good catch-up all the same.

When I was 20 I met my first “long-term” boyfriend if you can call him that. I was with him for 18 months but it wasn’t the healthiest relationship and not one I remember as fondly. I was oblivious to how bad it was though, and only truly understand what a bad relationship I was in as I’ve grown older.

Whilst still living down South, I had one further boyfriend, who quite frankly treated me like shit. I’m still not sure whether he ever cheated on me, but on the basis that he’s now married to the person that I suspected he cheated with, it’s difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Since that boyfriend, there was a string of dates, some that went on for more than 1 date, and others that didn’t. Then there were the ones that never actually materialised…

When I moved up North, I signed up to Plenty of Fish. Tinder wasn’t even a thing then. Imagine that. A time before people swiped right! To this day, I wish I’d written a blog whilst I was doing the online dating thing. I met some absolute horrors!

One that particularly sticks in my mind is the Fireman from Wythenshawe who saw it appropriate to turn up to our date at the Trafford Centre absolutely pissed out of his head. How I even remained as long as the 90 minutes that I did will forever remain a mystery!

I met some really lovely guys actually, but so often, when meeting them face to face the chemistry that had been there via all means of messaging, just wasn’t there. There came a point when I realised that the constant building of a relationship online, and then feeling no spark when meeting them was actually more soul destroying than being single.

When Dave messaged me I’d all but given up on online dating, and remained on dating sites with absolutely zero intention of pursuing anything.

Dave’s first message to me was:

“What’s the chances of a girl like me getting with a guy like you?”

Which of course is a quote from Dumb and Dumber. It wasn’t that that got me though, since I didn’t even notice it. It was the picture of him and one of the players for Wigan Warriors (my Rugby League team which is a story for another day)!

I screenshot his picture and sent it to my best friend at the time. She responded telling me she knew him, I thought she was joking about knowing the player, but she said “no I actually know HIM!”

With some encouragement, I went against my “no dates” policy and messaged Dave back and had arranged a date for within a week.

Dave booked us tickets to GoApe. This was a bit different to the usual dates I arranged. I favoured a chilled out coffee somewhere in the afternoon. That always felt like a safe bet. No pressure to pull out all the stops and look like a complete knock-out and pretty low risk for all cost wise. Plus, if you can make small talk and get on over a coffee, you’re half way there!

One of our earlier dates – both of us dressed appropriately on this one!

I had no idea what to wear. I knew what GoApe was, but as it was the first time I was meeting Dave, I wanted to make an impression. And an impression I made all right, in my completely inappropriate chinos and leather jacket. Having said that, he may have been dressed appropriately but he was wearing the worst track suit I’d ever seen on anyone in all my life! I know you’re not meant to judge a book by it’s cover but  I didn’t hold much hope for him based on his dress sense (actually, as it turns out he has awesome dress sense but that tracksuit was SO deceiving! He’s never worn it since)

We had a fab first date, but I wasn’t sure on whether there was a spark or not. So a few days later, I went on my planned trip down to see my Mum and Dad in Essex which gave me time to think about what I wanted.

I text him throughout my break down with my parents, so even though I wasn’t sure, I was still keeping in touch with him which must have said something. I remember texting him on my train journey home asking for the phone number of a local taxi firm so I’d be able to get home from the station. He came and picked me up.

The next night, to say thanks I cooked him a meal and baked him a cake (I was really into baking at the time). Clearly it’s true that the way to a man’s heart is through his belly, because from that point on, the rest was history.

I fell for Dave really quickly. A fact that he regularly likes to remind me of. He on the other hand took a little longer, finally telling me he loved me after about three months and spending a weekend with my parents who were visiting.

And do you know what I did? I laughed at him! I’d already told him how I felt probably a month earlier, and it had been so long since I’d heard anyone say them words to me, I honestly had no idea how else to react!

Five years on, and honestly, no-one has ever made me as happy as Dave does. He’s not perfect, but he is so perfect for me. Dave doesn’t read anything (especially instructions) and is hopeless with technology, whereas I am not. I lose my head in a crisis, but Dave’s the guy you need. It’s such a cliche, but we really do complete each other.

This picture will ALWAYS be my favourite picture of us. Me laughing and him trying not to pretty much sums us up!

Note to Self.

download

On Saturday, I chose to tell everyone I know that I have MS via the medium of Facebook.

Some of you might find this odd, but I had my reasons for doing this.

I’d spoken to a lot of people about my freaky blindness (at this point not thinking it would result in the diagnosis that I have subsequently got).

A lot of those people had asked questions about whether I got my sight back. I’d told them yes I had it back but no, I’d had no answers and been honest about the tests I was going through and what I was going through them for.

Now I have a diagnosis, whilst I want to continue to be open about my condition, I CANNOT FACE TALKING ABOUT IT ANYMORE!!!! Easier to just get everyone told in one fell swoop.

Additionally, I honestly believe that by keeping it quiet I’m not really facing up to it myself. I’m an open book. I’m a sharer (and historically very much an over sharer although less so as I’ve grown older!)

What I never counted on was such an overwhelming showing of support from people. I was called inspiring. Me?! Inspiring?

I wasn’t open for the sake of sympathy or compliments about my ability to handle my situation. I didn’t do it for attention. I purely did it for me, to get it off my chest and to face reality. That doesn’t stop me feeling so humbled by the amazing support from friends and family, and those people that used to be called friends but I’ve completely lost contact with.

I’m not being strong for to be inspiring. I just don’t see how being any other way will help. I explained to someone the other day,

“It’s not as likely as you might assume that I’ll end up in a wheelchair. But if I spend the next ten years, miserable and worrying about being in a wheelchair, and then actually end up in a wheelchair in ten years time, that’s so perverse. What a waste of my good years.”

Knowing I’ve got such a huge network of support around me is so comforting at a time like this and it really really does help me keep a smile on my face, instead of wallowing and worrying about what the future might hold.

It has made me stop and think though, and there’s some things I need to promise to myself. I felt a little note to myself here would just do the trick. And you, Dear Reader, can hold me to account if you catch me not doing these things…

  • Just because everyone thinks I’m being dead strong, doesn’t mean that I can’t have days where I don’t appear so strong. I’m allowed to feel every emotion under the sun at the moment, and the only person not allowing me to do that is me.

 

  • I will stop planning so far ahead and running through life at 100 miles an hour.

 

  • I will start to live each day and really be present (as much as my brain fog allows me that is!), and just take each day as it comes. There is no point in worrying about yesterday, or tomorrow.

 

  • Stop worrying about the things that I can’t control.

 

  • Stop being so bloody hard on myself and beating myself up. No more feeling guilty for not getting things done that can wait until tomorrow. Or the day after. Or the day after that.

 

  • Know that my best is enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

 

 

Essex Girl, Lost Up North?

Even I’m confused about the title of this blog now, so I bet you are too. I’ve lost my way in terms of the original intention of my setting up this blog, but I don’t want to lose everything I’ve written and I’m pretty sure I can’t just change the name. What would I change it to anyway?

I moved up to Greater Manchester from Rayleigh, in Essex back in April 2010. The scariest, yet still the best decision I’ve ever made.

I wish that I’d started this blog then. A place to talk about my adventures and adjusting to a new life I was creating for myself. The reality though, is that now I’ve been here for coming up to eight years, I’ve spent far more of my adult life here than back where I started my life. Which is absolutely mad to think about!

It makes it really hard now to reflect back on how I felt and a lot of what I went through.

I’ll try and tell more of some of my experiences when I first moved up, but for now, I’m going to continue to write about whatever comes naturally for me.

Sure it might not make sense, and sure my title doesn’t really match my purpose anymore, but I enjoy writing and it fills my soul up.

What I can say though, is I’ve made a life up North now and I’m definitely no longer lost. This is home.

Me and my some of my amazing friends 🙂

My perfect man, Dave

Me and my man again after the Wigan 10k in September 2017

Me and my best four legged pal – Poppy. She’ll get a blog post all of her own one day!

Hands. (Pt 4)

Week 4 of this fabulous challenge is to sum up everything over this last month, and I’m going to make some commitments to myself to help me continue with my new love for my hands.

So what have I learned?

My hands make my life. I take them waaay too much for granted and I wouldn’t be able to live the life I do without them.

I love holding hands. I love talking with my hands and I love using my hands to lift up heavy stuff in the gym!

I LOVE getting my nails done, and for the first time in ages, I’ve successfully got through a month without pinging a false nail off deliberately so I can have a good old chew (maybe a coincidence but maybe not).

I’ve found a love for making my own natural home made remedies too (yes with my bare hands) so they’ll be more of that too!

Oh – and I love rings 🙂 YAY!

So how do I keep this up?

  • Complete a weekly deep scrub and conditioning of my hands
  • Keep up the monthly manicures (I enjoy them and they relax me)
  • Make more homemade beauty products
  • At least once a week, get something hand related into my Daily Gratitude tweets
  • Buy more rings!

And I think that’s it!

I’ve really enjoyed the focus on my hands this month! I’m really looking forward to focussing on the next body part in February!