My Mum had a stroke

Saturday 21st October 2017

This is why I don’t shop at Tesco, but I’d had to, I needed supplies for the Halloween Party! They’d managed to sweet talk me into another Costa.  Watching my two girlies demolishing their cakes, I was oblivious of the turmoil about to unfold.  Walking out of Tesco and my phone rings.  It’s Si, “Where are you?” “Just leaving Tesco now babe, won’t be long” I reply.  “Well get home quick” he responds. We hang up.  I didn’t need to ask any questions.  I knew it was Mum.  I pack the girls into the car, switch off from their sounds and drive out of Tesco.  I can’t help it, I have to glance at my phone to get confirmation.  There it is, a missed call from Dad.  Adrenaline runs through me, I drive that little bit faster than normal, and am thinking the worst. “Stroke, Heart Attack or Death” Please, please don’t be death.  Not yet, I’ll never be ready to lose you, but not yet.  By the time I get home I can’t feel my fingers, adrenaline still pumping.

I walk through the door, Si is sat on the sofa.  I look at him and question “It’s Mum, isn’t it?” He responds “Ring your Dad” No answers still.  I take the landline and head upstairs, away from the girls.  I ring Dad’s mobile.  It takes him a while to pick up and when he does, I can’t remember exactly what he says.  “Mum is in hospital, I hate do say this, but I think she’s had a stroke, she’s had a scan, I’ve seen the picture and I can see blobs, but I don’t know what they are, they’ve not told me yet” I stare out of my bedroom window at the beautiful autumn scene of the field behind our house,  I look at the window sill and start rubbing the dust off. “Where are you?” I respond.

I find out they are in a place called Molde, Norway.  They’d been on a cruise you see, around the Artic Circle.  They were having an amazing time, I was getting regular selfies from the different locations they’d been stopping at.

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Greetings from Tromso, this one had said.  When I saw this picture I replied to Mum, asking if she was ok.  She didn’t look quite right to me.  She’d told me she’d had a bad headache and had taken some codeine but it had gone away again, she felt a bit tired from it.  This was after seeing The Northern Lights on the Tuesday night and taken on the Wednesday.  She then suffered another bad headache the Thursday night and headed to bed.  By the time she woke up Friday morning, she was a bit confused and Dad had taken her to the sick bay on the ship.  Her systolic blood pressure was over 200, if you don’t already know, that’s bad, really bad.  The sick bay gave her some medication and brought her blood pressure down a bit and discharged her just after lunchtime.  She was back again by teatime and the next day when they docked, she was taken via road ambulance to hospital, where the only word she could say was tablet.

I rang my little brother, he’s not actually very little, he’s just short of 6ft 6″ and told him.  Inbetween phone calls from Dad asking questions like “Do you know what medications she’s on?” Si, Jon and myself looked online to find ways of getting to them.  I even looked on google maps to see if I could drive there.  It would take 1 day and 3 hours.  Si told me not to be stupid and came up with the logical suggestion of driving to Manchester to be with my brother so we could travel together.

I’d also rang 111 to see if I could get in touch with the on call GP to find out Mum’s medical history and medication even though I knew most of it.  I didn’t want to miss something important.  They were really helpful!!

I had to pack, the first thing I put in were my trainers.  Mum would be cross with me if I didn’t keep running.  I was on a running streak, day 294 of running every single day.  Si asked me about the Halloween Party I’d organised for the next day.  I told him to carry on as normal, it had all been arranged, the girls were excited, it couldn’t be cancelled now.  Si hovered around me, looking worried, but keeping his humour because that’s how we work.  He told me he was most put out I was going to a country he’d not been to, and fancied a road trip with me.  The girls had gone to a birthday party at the village hall.  I popped into say bye and told them I was going to go and look after Nanny as she had a bad headache, they didn’t question it, they were eating party food.

I got in the car and drove.  Jon lives in Manchester so I just headed in that direction without any planning.  By the time I got on the M62, I kind of twigged I’d probably gone the long way.  The weather wasn’t great, Storm Brian was hitting England and it was very wet and windy.  I arrived in Manchester and after having some food with Jon and Josh I fell into a surprisingly deep sleep on the futon.

 

 

Day 372 – my running streak ends

Today would be running streak day 372 of running at least a mile every day, but I’ve decided to stop!! Purely because my husband is leaving the country for a month and I can’t drag my girlies out at 6pm at night, just so “Mummy” can go for a run.

The reason I started running everyday was because I read a blog about a lady who had completed a year of running everyday, so I am sharing my experiences with you, incase you feel the urge.

I have absolutely no regrets about running everyday for a year and although I can’t say I wanted to step out of the door for every single run.  I have learned a lot from it.

No excuses

There is always a reason to not go out for a run.  It’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s raining, it’s dark, I’m too tired, I haven’t got enough time,  Well that’s a load of rubbish!!  I have ran every single mile outside, I have ran in minus degrees, I have ran in nearly 30 degrees, I have ran in a dark village with a head torch on, I have run after 12 hour shifts, most of them being night shifts and time……….. there is always time, you just have to make it.

I would have never chose to run after a night shift.  Those of you who have ever worked them, will understand why.  You feel hungover, without the perk of the good night out.  So when I braved my first post night shift run, I really wasn’t feeling it, but I loved it.  Sometimes after a night shift I would run my best runs and feel so much better when I got home.

My ideal temperature is about 10 degrees, I’m ok in the cold, and terrible in the heat.  I love running in the rain, getting completely soaked and grinning inanely when cars drive passed and soak me even more.

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A particularly soggy run!

Time was going to be my biggest hurdle though and I remember grumping at my husband in the first 2 weeks.  I work shifts, my husband works shifts and also disappears out of the country for weeks/months at time. The early days were hard to fit those 10 minutes into my day, the longest part would be putting my running kit on.  Some runs I would have to get up silly early or go stupid late.  Soon I found I could squeeze a mile into my day though.  I realised I would just go a bit slower if I had a tummy full of Roast dinner.  Wine made me go faster, but would sober me up.

When I walked in from work my husband would be cooking tea and smile at me “you’ve got 15 minutes”  I must have driven him mad, going for a run everyday, but he never moaned about it, it just became part of our day.  My 2 daughters got used to it to, and would often ask if they could come with me.  My 8 year old is fab at running, but gets bored and grumpy after 2k.  My 4 year old loves it, but can’t run very far at the moment.  They love putting their running leggings on.

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Aches, Pains and Ailments

So some of you might want to skip this part because I am going to be very honest!!!

Poo – Oh my word, there is a thing called Runners Trots.  So I suffer a little with constipation (I did warn you) but as soon as I’d start running I would need to go.  An amazing cure!! I would often plan routes so I could pop back home and carry on.  I haven’t found the cure and it is the only thing that I worry about on any race day!!

Chaffage – I have boobs and when they get hot and sweaty I get a rash between them.  Again I don’t have a cure.

Anxiety – I don’t like sick!! Before some races I would be absolutely terrified of being sick and even ended up wretching against a tree on my first park run.  No cure, apart from my trusty polos in my pocket.

Weight – I’m a skinny minnie anyway, but I lost half a stone last year, because unlike many runners I struggle with appetite when I run long distances.  After I ran a half marathon, I couldn’t eat for hours.

My hip – I was born with congenital hip dysplasia.  Basically that means I have a clicky hip that doesn’t sit in the joint quite right.  When I was doing my longer runs, this gave me a lot of grief.  Some runs I would have shooting pains of sciatica going all the way down to my foot.  Stretching massively improved this, also running less miles did too.

My knee – after running my first and only half marathon, I was elated, but I also thought, excuse the language “I am never doing a marathon, my knees are f*cked) That half marathon was in September and although I recovered ok, I had a niggle in my left knee after, when I go up the stairs, it makes a strange creaking noise.  I couldn’t kneel for particularly long.  Then in the middle of October I looked down to find a big old lump.

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Initially I self diagnosed runners knee, then my team leader at work suggested bursitis.  I ignored it and carried on running anyway. I gave in and saw an osteopath who suggested it may be a cyst or ganglion.  Gross, whatever it is.  They’re still not sure, and currently waiting results of an MRI.  Sadly, I had to significantly drop my mileage down as anything over a couple of miles would really cause me bother.  The osteopath did however tell me, he didn’t think it was related to running and told me to carry on.

 

 

Runny noses, headaches etc – At the beginning of the year, I had some stinking colds where my nose would be pouring.  I still went for a run though and I found it actually helped a huge amount of everyday ailments.

Mental health – I think running massively helps anybody suffering from low mood.  When my Mum was taken poorly in Norway and I had to jump on several planes to get to her.  The first thing I packed was my trainers.  Those days in Norway were particularly challenging, but those minutes of the days when I went out and ran, grounded me!!

Races, Distances and Times

I completed my first sub 30 min 5k, best 5k – 27 mins and 39 seconds

I completed my first sub 60 min 10k, best 10k – 58 mins and 21 seconds

I completed my first half marathon, 2 hours and 24 minutes.

Best mile – 8 mins and 7 seconds

I won’t tell you about every race, but my favourite one was when I randomly signed up for the Great North Run in Newcastle.  The atmosphere was incredible and what a first half marathon to pick, don’t think I’ll be able to top it.  There was a chap running a similar pace who kept shouting “Oggy, oggy, oggy” to which we’d all reply “Ai, ai, ai”  The crowds were huge and so supportive.  I lost count of how many cheered me on by shouting “Come on Jemma” makes me feel teary just writing it.  So many people were offering sweets and on mile 12 there was a local ale stand handing out free alcohol!!  Just under 50,000 people run it. Wow!!

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My second favourite was a local race, the Worstead 5 mile which starts the Worstead Festival off.  It was a small run, I felt sick to begin with and got a headache halfway round, but still I really enjoyed it.  I think it was because it was an evening race and it was all windy country lanes.  The local villagers were standing outside their houses cheering us on.  I managed a good time too.

Friends and Family

Most peoples reactions to me running everyday is a look of astonishment, some people have thought I’m completely bonkers, others have told me they have found me inspirational.  At the end of the year I was all set for stopping on day 366, but my neighbour told me we were going for a run, and my current feed on strava is full of my friends setting themselves the challenge of running every day in January.

I can’t thank my little family enough for supporting me.  They had a particularly long day when I did the Great North Run, but look back with fond memories of it.  They have ran with me and generally been amazing.

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I have also ran with lots of my friends – thank you Hayley, Gemma, Peter, Chrissie, Jenny, Jess T, Jess W, Smith, Lori.  Sometimes you guys really helped me get out there.  P.s, sorry if I forget any of you.

What have I learned.  Running is awesome.  It doesn’t suit everybody, but it suits me.  I love challenging myself to go faster or longer.  Equally I love going out and just plodding, taking my surroundings and just loving life, sounds corny I know, but I have seen some beautiful sights from running last year.  Huge moons, beautiful sunsets, hot air balloons landing, plenty of countryside views and running in Norway! Barefoot beach running is just the most amazing feeling too.  It makes your calfs ache, but so worth it.

So…….. I’m done.  But I’m not really.  I’ve got a 10k in February with a load of midwives and the London Landmarks Half Marathon in March to tackle.  Hope I’ve given some of you the inspiration to get out there, I hear the couch to 5k app is amazing!!

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Emetophobia and Midwifery

Recently I cared for a lady who had extreme emetophobia.  The midwife handing over to me explained she was really scared of being sick.  I looked at her, held her hand and explained I completely understood how she felt.  Sometimes this is a white lie we tell our ladies to reassure them, but in this case I really did understand how she felt.

Every contraction she looked at me absolutely terrified.  Not because of the pain, but because the contraction itself was making her feel sick.  She asked me for an epidural, I got an anti emetic (anti sickness) injection and epidural for her as soon as I could.  Sadly by the end of my shift I had just confirmed her cervix was fully dilated.  I didn’t get to meet her baby, but I left knowing I had made a huge difference to her birth experience.  I showed her my blog about emetophobia and her eyes lit up, knowing she wasn’t alone.

This blog is not about caring for women with emetophobia though.  This is about my journey into becoming a midwife and how my phobia affected that journey.

In 2003, I worked full time in a call centre setting up mortgages for people.  I wanted more than that, my boyfriend had joined the military and was loving it.  One lunchtime I filled in an online survey into what jobs would suit my personality.  It suggested teaching, nursing and midwifery.   I remember the light bulb moment so vividly, where I was sitting, and thinking “why have I never thought about midwifery?”  From then on I spent every spare minute researching how to become a midwife.  This is what I was going to do!! 84dc1fad6813162de8283730cd6bf967

It wasn’t a quick or easy journey.  I ended up going back to college full time for a year, applying for jobs as care assistants.  Going to 2 university interviews to get declined from one and put on the reserve list of the other.  I was gutted.  However, not too long after this disappointment, I received a call offering me a place.  Not at my local hospital or university, but it was a place and I took it straight away.

I had 6 months before I started my midwifery.  It gave me plenty of time to get nervous about starting the course.  I joined a student midwives sanctuary forum and spent a huge amount of time reading about all the experiences which would soon be facing me.  I was excited, but guess what, nobody had mentioned sick yet!!  Of all the things I could be scared about in this massively responsible job where I was going to be caring for 2 peoples lives.  I was petrified of facing somebody being sick!!  The messages on the forum talked about this emergency and that emergency, the smell of birth, the amount of poo women can produce giving birth.  I absorbed all of this amazing information that would soon be my reality, but still nobody mentioned how awful sick was!!

In January 2005 I became a student midwife, I faced the normal anxiety of getting on a bus for 2 hours (what if I’m sick?) to meet all these new people (what if I’m sick?) It was amazing though.  My cohort of student midwives included a whole 14 of us and we were all there for the same reason, we wanted to be midwives!!

We shared our time between academic sessions at university and placement sessions at the hospital and in community.  Placement started, the majority of my first term was in community, I felt comfortable with this setting immediately.  I also had one week on delivery suite which equally terrified me and thrilled me.  When I set foot onto delivery suite, I was expecting noise and to see action in every direction I looked, but, no, it was calm, quiet and positive.  What happens behind those individual doors is for that person and midwife to know about.  So I was scared about going behind one of those doors and finding out what did happen.  It was a surprise, some women screamed, some women smiled, some women were quiet and some women slept.

sick1One thing I soon learned about women in labour, is that sometimes they need to evacuate!! By evacuate I mean they get rid of whatever is in their body.  Not many years ago, women were given enemas to help this process, but these days, women do it by themselves.  This tends to mean they have loose stools or they are sick.  I can’t remember the first vomit bowl I took to the sluice, but I soon learned to quickly gauge how much was in there (fluid balance) and to chuck it into the masher.  As tipping it in was not a good idea and looking too hard made me gag!!

I remember one lady and which room she was in, vomitted her way through the pushing process.  Her abdominal muscles working so hard, pushed her baby out with little forced effort.

It no longer terrified me.  I couldn’t be infected by their vomit, I wasn’t going to physically catch their germs, as there were no germs.  It was their bodies doing what they needed to do.  My only job was to make sure I had a vomit bowl close enough so nothing else got covered which I would have to clear up.  They are the tough times when I have to clear vomit up and try not to gag myself.  I hold my breath, I suck my polos.

Not only did I have to face vomit, but I soon learned being responsible for a woman giving birth can be pretty scary.  It is unusual if I don’t have at least 1 shot of adrenaline pumped through my body per shift, from either helping a woman birth her baby or from the emergencies which can go alongside it.  I learned to embrace the feeling, and many of my colleagues have commented on my calm personality, even if inside it doesn’t feel so calm.

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In this picture I have just helped bring somebody very important to me into the world.  His Mum a special friend of mine apologised after she read my first blog about being sick during her labour.  I can honestly say I can’t remember that moment.  What I remember is how long he was, and us chuckling about me saying “keep pushing” he seemed to go on forever, and looking across at them all, feeling so privileged to have been a part of it.

Midwifery has massively helped my phobia.  The things which get to me at work now is when my colleagues are suddenly ill or there is norovirus in the hospital.  They are the things I can get infected with, but this is part of everyday life.  When norovirus is about, it’s not just in the hospital, it’s everywhere, it just makes me wash my hands, eat less and suck polos more than normal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me and emetophobia – fear of vomit!!

I want to share something with you……
“I don’t like sick!!!”

“Well nobody likes sick,” is the usual response I get to that remark.  But actually it is so much bigger than that, way much bigger than that, and I want to try and explain it to you, because in the last year I found out I have emetophobia.

Emetophobia is an intense fear of vomiting, or seeing somebody being sick.  It is one of the more common anxiety disorders and affects more women than men.  Although it is such a common phobia, not much research has been done into it and there is not always a reason for having it.  It is believed there is normally a trigger, such as an event in your life which has caused you to be so anxious about it.

I’m 37 now and it is only in this last year, after speaking to somebody else who suffers with the same fear, I realised I have spent most of my life suffering.

Why do I suffer?? I’m not sure, my mum has vividly painted 2 pictures of me and vomit. As a baby I suffered from a condition called pyloric stenosis, which basically meant everytime she fed me, I projectile vomited a huge amount.  My Mum had the washing machine on a lot!! Sorry Mum.  The other time was when I was about 8.  It was in the evening and she was decorating a cake for my little brothers birthday.  I walked down the stairs to tell her I felt sick and apparently covered all 3 walls going down the stairs.  I can’t remember this, but I can picture it easily because my Mum still lives in the same house.

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As an adult I have been sick twice, this time the blame is entirely on something called Stella Artois and Jagerbombs. I got caught out, other people get drunk, not me though, because I could be sick.  Other people, including my husband, don’t seem to be bothered by drunken sickness.  I avoid drunk people and they are certainly not allowed in my car.

I can’t tell you if there was a turning point in my life when I suddenly became more aware of my fear.  I remember being scared before every one of my GCSE’s, not because of what the impending result might be, but because I might just be sick in a huge room full of my classmates.  When I was at college, the fear became much bigger.  I spent a year of my life waking up nauseated.  I went to the Doctors and said “I think I suffer from panic attacks” She gave me a prescription and said to come back in a couple of weeks.  I got home and read the packet, they were anti depressants.  “Why have I got these??” So I tried them, and ended up with a huge head rush of dizziness and taking myself off them within 2 weeks.  I researched online and learned breathing techniques to help calm me.

I would go out for a meal with my boyfriend and order some food, to have it put in front of me, then not be able to eat it. He thought it was funny and pretended to wretch.  We were young, he didn’t know, and I didn’t know there was something a bit different about me.

A few years later I met my husband, he was completely oblivious to my fear.  I never expressed it to anybody, other than my Mum.  I braved much more with him and I started to come out of my shell and try new things!! Curries, scary roller coasters, venturing way out of my comfort zones!!  Although when I was about to step onto nemesis at Alton Towers, somebody got off puking.  I was about to run for the nearest exit, but my husband managed to keep me calm and get me on that ride.

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So here comes the nuttiness, this is what my head tells me!!  This is the bit I want to share with you, because then if you feel these things, then you’ll also realise that it is a thing!!

I have 2 beautiful girls, but before getting pregnant, I was scared of being pregnant, because I could be sick!! In labour, I didn’t have pain relief, yes maybe I am hardcore, but actually it was because gas and air could make me sick! Baby girl number 1 was not a sicky baby.  Yes, I had survived, so I did it again.  Heavily pregnant with baby number 2 and my big girl picks up a sick bug.  I spent the entire night sitting by the bed, ready to catch vomit, sucking polos, shaking! My husband slept, oblivious to how scared I was.  Baby number 2 arrives and she is sicky.  Not to the extreme I was as a baby, but every few days she would absolute cover herself.  I could deal with this though, because it’s just milk.

It’s March now, I hate March.  Something always happens in March.  My friend lost a baby, my Mum broke her leg, my Grandad died and ……. somebody catches a sick bug in my house.

So we have had sickness in my house this weekend, and I am living in a nauseated state, counting down the hours since the last person was sick, sucking polos and bleaching and washing everything!!  I haven’t slept much, because I have been pre empting the next round, who next??

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I hold my breath near the person who has been sick.  I certainly can’t give them a kiss and tell them it will be better.  I’m sorry Mum and Amber!!

This year I have become very open about my fear and have now met 2 other people in a short amount of space of time who also suffer.  I have learned in the grand scheme of things, I am probably about middle of the range in my phobia.  I avoid going near anybody who says they are ill, because it could be a sick bug!!  I hold my breath near people who have been ill recently.  I suck polos a lot!! This is because the mint acts as an anti sickness and also clears any flavours from my mouth.  I avoid heavy meals when I go out for dinner and certainly wouldn’t pick anything off the menu which could make me sick.  As a midwife I freak out if I know there is norovirus nearby and certainly can’t look after people with it.  I would take ten patients over the one who has noro. However I shall save midwifery and emetophobia for another blog.

To those of you, who are thinking “what a werido” yes you are probably right, but the thing is, no matter how rational I am about it, it doesn’t stop it.  To those of you, who are thinking, “that’s me” then you are not alone!  Talk about it, I find it helps.

Time to try something new….

Without realising it, I read blogs everyday and decided that maybe it was time to try something new……


Like most people I scroll through Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and get inspiration from others and realised maybe other people might like my ideas and try them.

I lead what I believe to be a fairly typical life, I have a job, a husband, 2 beautiful girls, 2 guineas pigs, amazing friends and family, a mortgage with far too long left on the term. 

There is more to me though!!!

Underneath my soft layer – 

  • I’m a hardened military wife, exposed to long periods of time without the other half of me, meaning I’m a single mum a lot!!
  • I’m a midwife – working on a birthing unit, empowering and supporting woman to listen to their bodies and achieve the amazing!!
  • I have a typical mischievous toddler, who still thinks that sleeping for a whole night is not the in thing.
  • I have a 7 year old who is exceptionally bright and thinks deeply.
  • I crochet
  • I run
  • I lift weights
  • I bake
  • I love photography 

So…. where do I start???


Normally if I’m completely honest with coffee!!! 

Hope you enjoy my new blogs!!