LS Lichen Sclerosus and Borax – Update

2 years ago I wrote one of the hardest blogs I had ever written. Yes, much harder than telling you about my breast cancer!

It was about having Lichen Sclerosus – and finding something that actually helped – something that didn’t cure (it is incurable) – but did alleviate the very distressing symptoms.

If you have never heard about LS – then you are lucky! It isn’t something you tend to hear about until the doctor tells you that the excruciating pain from the thin broken skin, the swelling, the pain and the terrible itching, is due to LS … and all they can give you is a steroid cream – that thins the skin!

So, what is Lichen sclerosus / sclerosis? It is believed to be an auto-immune condition that affects mainly post-menopausal women and children, but also some men. As I am sure you know, an auto-immune condition is one in which your own body turns on itself, destroying cells, and in this case making the skin thinner, prone to tearing or splitting, blistering, swelling, soreness, irritation and chronic inflammation. It also makes white patches on the skin – hence the name – but that’s the least of your worries. However, it isn’t infectious at all.

Lichen sclerosus also has a favourite location for this disruption of the skin – and this is why I (and many other people) don’t generally like to talk about it. It affects the skin between the buttocks and reaching forward to include the delicate skin all around and of the vulva. In people who have had it for decades it can even result in atrophy of the flesh.

  • This blog post ‘Lichen Sclerosus and why Borax is my new best friend’ has been the most visited – the most commented on – and the one that I have received most direct email about since I began my blog nearly nine years ago! And WHY? Because there are SO MANY women – and some men – all over the world who suffer from this – and are desperately seeking some way to alleviate the pain. (I’ve since found that there are FB pages for LS suffers and it is full of thousands, some with horrific results of their affliction)

Only last night I had another email – from a lady in the USA saying she’d found my blog – and was the borax therapy still working for me? and could I give her a link to the borax that would work in the USA? I will reply – as I have to the many, many others who have not wanted to use the open comments section, and who are just happy to find someone to talk to who understands.

So, today – almost 2 years from that first blog – I am doing an update.

The borax therapy is still working for me!

Last summer I sent out a little questionnaire to people who’d commented or contacted me about LS – hoping to create an overview of what people had found worked. How many had found the borax therapy worked for them – and how many hadn’t – what else they had tried – what had failed, what had worked. Unfortunately just a low percentage replied. It may be that the emails addresses they used were not valid any more, or temporary, or my email fell into a junk box – but the overview didn’t garner enough stats to be meaningful. However, generally, those who did reply said the borax therapy had helped – if not taking away the symptoms altogether – it had eased the problem. A few said it worked – then after some stressful time it stopped working. At least one of these I suggested starting the therapy again from the high-dose intake … and it started working for them again. A re-boot any time after 3 months from the original start is ok and seems to help when other factors have exacerbated the condition (and stress does seem to).

So I have to say that the Borax therapy doesn’t seem to work for everyone – our bodies are very complex organisms and no treatment works the same for everyone – but it does work for a good number of people.

What I can say is that, if you have been diagnosed with LS, try the borax and bicarb bathing – combined with taking magnesium glycinate (or another bio-available form of magnesium) at half the daily recommended dose. This is very safe and easy to try – and if this works for you – eases your symptoms a little – then the full therapy may well work for you too… and clear-up and keep those very nasty symptoms at bay.

Having said that, and acknowledging that picking the ‘therapy’ out of the story of my LS in my earlier post isn’t easy, I’m now setting the therapy out in a step-by-step clearer manner here.

The Borax therapy

The Bath: TRY this first! In a normal sized bath, put 1 tablespoon of Borax (Sodium Tetraborate) and 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda, run hot water and stir to dissolve – cool to comfortable temperature and to make a bath of about 8 – 10 inches deep (20 – 25 cm) – to cover affected parts of your body. Soak about 10 mins or more. [A little borax will be absorbed transdermally too]

Every daytake a bio-available magnesium supplement (half the daily recommended dose – the rest you will get from your food)
I suggest magnesium glycinate as bio-available and without of the side effects of magnesium citrate. As the borax needs the magnesium to work effectively and it helps balance hormones.

The ‘cream’: This is something I made up myself – as the lack of ‘slip’ once I stopped using the steroid cream meant just the skin touching skin was painful when walking or sitting.
2 rounded tablespoons of coconut oil (which is a solid at room temp) melted in a small lidded oven-proof glass bowl in the microwave, watching it carefully – it needs to get hot to dissolve the borax)
Mixed into it 1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, 1 level teaspoon of Borax – stirring constantly as it cools.
Before it solidifies but after the oil has cooled a bit  Add 3 drops of lavender oil (essential oil) and pour into a container, with a lid, for keeping.
This then sets to a hard ‘cream’ (at UK temperatures) – so I scrape off a little and let it melt on my skin providing the lubrication on the sore skin with the soothing qualities of the other ingredients. You may find small bits of borax that do not dissolve fully, but as this melts, you can push these aside and remove.
OR use just a little coconut oil – or a moisturiser that is all organic and does not contain petrol-based ingredients.

If these help … carry on with these and try the following…

The Internal Borax therapy: This is not mine – I found it online and it is the regime I followed: and what made my symptoms go away!! (Read about my journey here and find a link to the original post that I followed)
Taking borax in solution every day for a fortnight (I did 16 days)
One eighth of a level teaspoon of borax to be taken everyday, dissolved in one litre of (warm) spring water – consumed over the day.
Measure one level teaspoon of borax – divide into quarters, then each again in half to give you eighths    Put each 1/8th in a twist of cling film or similar. Do this twice to give you 16 small packets.
Each day dissolve one small packet in a little warmed spring water, top up to 1 litre with cold and put in the fridge. Drink the whole amount over the day.
Do this everyday for at least 14 days (no more than 16)
Don’t forget the magnesium supplement!

LOW maintenance dose internal borax therapy.
When you have completed the full dose borax therapy, and it has helped the problem, then you need to follow it up by a life-time of a much lower dose of borax (maintenance dose) –  every day – forever – and the mandatory taking of a magnesium supplement always.

Maintenance Solution recipe:
1 rounded teaspoon of Borax dissolved in 1 litre of boiled water, kept in refrigerator.
1 – 2 teaspoons only of this maintenance solution taken everyday … forever. (I usually put it in another drink – eg, morning orange juice ) 

Vitamin D3:
I would really recommend taking Vitamin D3 – especially between October and May in the UK* – as that is the time the sun is too weak to make vit D via your skin. Why? Because Vitamin D3 is important to maintaining skin integrity – and if you are an LS sufferer you skin needs all the help it can get to repair and maintain itself.
*check the sun strength details for where-ever you live – I was surprised to see that even in California the sun wasn’t strong enough all year

LINKS to help you:
Borax: in the UK Under £6  a kilo – REIDS UK. They also do large quantities of Bicarbonate of soda.
In the USA & Canada – Buy 20 Mule Team Borax from your laundry aisle – make sure it doesn’t have perfume or any other additives.
Magnesium glycinate These are the best suppliers I’ve found in UK for magnesium glycinate (click here) Click into the bit marked ‘offers’ next to ‘description’ – you can often get 3 for price of 2 as well. (note Supermarkets usually sell magnesium oxide – this is NO good as is not really bio-available magnesium) 

The other big question I get asked is – Is it safe to take borax?
This because it is, in very large doses, a poison. But then – so is table salt! In fact the levels of table salt and the levels of borax needed to poison you are very similar. The doses in this therapy are very, very small as long as you follow the measurements and the quantities taken exactly. Do not think ‘double the dose will work twice as quickly’ – it won’t!
And, use common sense – if you experience odd symptoms – stop. Having said that – a couple of people have said the first week they had looser stools than usual – but that’s not too odd and it only lasted for the first week.
As with all chemicals – keep the borax safely, where children can’t get hold of it!

Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an natural mineral and an important boron compound.
If you have a scientific leaning and want to know more about the active ingredient of Borax do read this [Nothing Boring about Boron] it is a proper scientific paper – but, I think, accessible if you’re into science, and is Fascinating! Do read.

That’s about it …
I still put borax and bicarb in a bath – but in a full bath now, not just for treatment. I use Borax and Bicarb to wash my hair (See this blog-post) and I take the borax maintenance dose, the magnesium and the vitamin D3. I also try to eat a healthy omnivorous diet high in vegetables, fermented foods (like home-made yoghurt, kombucha, sauerkraut), nuts and omega3 oils, but low in carbs, (especially low in gluten-bearing carbs for reasons see this blog-post here) and try to exercise regularly.
I don’t think that the LS-affected skin will ever be as robust as it was pre-LS (due to the thinning caused by LS and the steroid cream), and I did suffer some fusing that won’t ever undo, because it went on so long before I tried the borax – but at least the skin is no longer so fragile that it splits, not swollen, not blistered, not unbearably itchy, not still fusing more and not sore all the time. This is a blessing.

So – there’s my update.
Did I miss anything out that you want to know?
Do ask in the comments or by email (see below)
Is there anything you’d like to share?
Thank you – as ever – for reading
– best Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write,
  Thank You

If you wish to keep it private – about LS and just contact me then just reply to the email this arrived on (or if you have found this on the internet then email ann@ annfoweraker .com (closing-up the gaps) – otherwise go to the actual page and click comments to add yours



Here’s to 2019 … may it be Kind to You and Yours

New Year – weird how we treat the turning of one PARTICULAR DAY over to the next as something special.

janus
Head of Janus (Vatican Museum) (CC wikimedia – Louden Dodd)

We all know this is a man-made construct – if it were nature-made New Year would begin the day that the daylight begins to lengthen. But no, here we are looking at the last day of December and the First of January – named for that old god whose visage faces both ways – Janus. (hint – it’s all the Roman’s fault)

Yet – yet – New Year’s resolutions abound. New hopes spring up, that THIS year we will achieve something different, THIS year we will manage to keep one of our resolutions (see Hint on how to KEEP a resolution, here) , THIS year will be better!

After last year – all I am wishing for, is that THIS year will be KINDER – to everyone.

We all need kindness in our lives. Being kind and receiving kindness, assumes a love for everyone, a ‘getting-on’ together. What is not to like? But it isn’t enough to just wish, is it? We need to do something about it, so, how can I do my part in the generation of this KIND YEAR that I want to see?

My resolution this year will be to join the many, many others who already actively seek opportunities for random acts of kindness (ideas here). Not that I don’t do some already, I have my ‘set of  kindnesses’ – they are my base-line, but I don’t make it a habit, I’m not always looking for the opportunities  – my resolution means I intend to look, everyday, for more – and every random act of kindness above my base-line is a winner. (It is a firm and flexible resolution = achievable)

Kindness costs little or nothing, a smile or a helping hand, but ranges up to whatever you feel you can afford or do in a given situation.

So, right now I am wishing YOU ALL, dear readers, a wonderful and KIND 2019.

What resolutions did you make?

Or, why you did not make any resolutions this year!

Do tell – it’s good to share

best – Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again, please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

 

My Christmas Card to You

Here we are – Christmas is right upon us!

wp_20181215_002At last I sorted out some decorations – from the boxes labelled up to fit the old house – to find I used a fraction of them in this new smaller space.

The tree is much the same though, even if it has to stand on a small table and hide behind the sofa.

I have only to make my Christmas puds (as per the recipe given last blog – ideal for Last Minute Christmas Puddings!), cook the gammon and attend Christingle and I’m ready for the big day!

So here is my Christmas Card to you all, dear readers, wishing you a HAPPY CHRISTMAS …

Christmas Cardwp_20181223_009

This is my Christmas card,
filled with bonhomie,
hiding complexities.
In a winter world,
who wouldn’t want
the sun to rise again,
grow stronger every day,
to feast and make merry
to stave off the dark?

We know that it may be
that His birth was not
in the winter months,
no deep, crisp snow lay
round about the stable,
or else the shepherds
would have been home,
not out upon the hills
watching for angels.

We know that the date
was stolen from wilder
gods, man chosen,
powerful, implacable,
impressive, logical.
So how strange to find
God in a baby’s guise
weak and vulnerable,
born to teach love – and die.

 

… And a VERY PEACEFUL and JOYOUS NEW YEAR

Thank You so much for reading, commenting and staying with me through this past erratic year – much love to you ALL – Ann

 

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again, please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

 

Stir-Up Sunday and my MW Christmas Pud recipe

As it happens, I was taking a service at our local church today. Today being the last Sunday before Advent, known as Christ the King but also known, for longer, as Stir-Up Sunday (after the collect for the day which begins ‘Stir-Up, O Lord’) It also became the traditional day to Stir-Up the Christmas Pudding or, for some, the cake.

Taking a service??  No, I’ve not become a vicar overnight – but I have been a Worship Leader for almost a year – well – eleven months – ish.

wp_20181125_005

Anyway – back to the story … my idea was to get the congregation to bring up the ingredients and stir each one in – and to (here’s the difference to hundreds of other stir-up sundays) COOK the pudding to be eaten at the end of the service.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a long time know that I end up sharing my recipes with you – some of these are really popular – especially the microwave jam. You already have the Christmas – very rich fruit cake adaptable to any size or shape tin – cake) here  so today, after the response from those who ate the Christmas Pudding after the service – I’m going to share my recipe for a Microwave Christmas Pudding.

This is so quick to cook I have been known to stir-it-up on Christmas morning – though I prefer to make it the day before and just heat it up on Christmas day – as it takes longer to weigh the ingredients than it does to cook it! It is a light and fruity pudding – which is how we like it.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in a microwave cooking magazine many, many years ago (probably about 3o years ago!) but I have changed it so much to suit our family tastes it isn’t the same recipe any more – so I will call it ‘mine’. Note: Step 1 needs to be done the day before.

Ann’s Microwave Christmas Pud

This amount makes a One pint (550ml) Christmas pud

Ingredients in order of addition:

48g         Plain Flour
1/2 tsp    Mixed Spice
1/4 tsp    Cinnamon
1/4 tsp    Ground Ginger
pinch of  Salt
48g          Real Breadcrumbs (I prefer to use wheat-meal bread to make my breadcrumbs)
48g          Soft Dark Brown Sugar
48g          Butter (cut small)
90g          Sultanas (soaked – see step 1)
90g          Raisins (soaked – see step 1)
1/2           Apple (chopped finely)
24g          Dried Apricots (chopped finely) if you like mixed peel you could add this instead – I don’t.
24g          Honey (or you can use golden syrup)
Juice and grated rind of half a Lemon
1               Egg
1 – 2         tablespoons Milk – as required.

Step 1     THE DAY BEFORE – Wash the Sultanas and Raisins under hot water until the oil floats off – drain well, even pat dry with paper-towels. Then put in large shallow bowl, pour in about a teacup of wine or ale – or fruit juice if you don’t want alcohol (juice not flavoured drink – preferably not orange – cranberry could work well for this) Cover – but stir whenever you are passing – so the fruit all plumps up 🙂
I am assuming you will make your breadcrumbs – it’s easy enough, just make sure the loaf is not too fresh, remove crusts, cut into chunks and whizz in a food-processor.

Step 2     In a bowl mix all the ingredients in the list down to the butter.
Step 3     Add the butter – and rub in, until the mixture all looks like breadcrumbs again and the butter is evenly distributed.
Step 4    Add the soaked fruit, the chopped apples and apricots, the honey and the lemon. Stir in well together.
Step 5    Add the egg, mix really well – stirring until the egg completely coats everything.
Step 6   The mixture needs to be soft, so that the ingredients blend together. This is so hard to describe – but the gradual addition of a little milk, well mixed in, should see the texture change from a rough, lumpy texture to a smoother texture – but not wet!

Grease a 1 pint / 550 ml pyrex type pudding bowl

Fill the bowl with the mixture, pushing down to fill any air pockets
Make a slight dip in the centre of the pudding
Cover with a plate or a microwave plate cover with a steam vent is best (I do not recommend cling film)

Place in Microwave. A 900-1000 w MW will only need 6 mins – and 6 mins standing time.
therefore a 700-800 w MW will need about 7 mins – and 6 mins standing time.
The standing time is important as the centre of the top will go from looking a little sticky to dry and cooked looking in this time.
They will keep well overnight in the fridge (or outside it in a cool room)
If you are reheating from cold it will need about 3 – 4 mins (cover again to do this)

Loosen with a pliable spatula, place a plate on the top, invert, and the pudding should come out nicely.
ENJOY – with Cornish Clotted Cream – of course!!

How do you like your Christmas pudding?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

X  Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

Armistice Day 100 years remembrance – poems

wp_20181111_002There’s red poppies EVERYWHERE!
Towns and villages have sprouted them, made of glass, or yarn, pottery or wood – they flow down walls, dot verges, surround memorials.

Four years ago, marking the century-old start of what became to be known as World War One, or The Great War, or (unquestionably wrongly) The War to End All Wars, we, as a poetry group wrote a number of works on this theme.

So, today I’ll share some of mine: The first reminds me that we (our WI) used to ‘sell’ poppies door to door – until the year members were upset so much by reactions that it stopped. Partly because of this, I had researched the ‘peace poppy’ thinking it a recent innovation – only to find it was as old as the war – and much misunderstood. Now red-poppies are back in vogue I think it continues to be.

By any other colour   (the peace poppy)

Perhaps they should have picked another colour
to that of the shame-filled feather;
those war widows and war weary veterans
who would have agreed with Owen’s poem
‘Dulce et decorum est’ if they’d understood Latin,

Perhaps then they’d not have been spat upon
sacked and shunned, just for wanting
peace over everything and wearing it,
a sign they wanted it to really be the end
with no disrespect intended.

Perhaps they should just have paused
eighty-odd years, by which time selling poppies
meant slammed doors, even in rural villages
and indifference meant few came
when the Remembrance bugle called.

Perhaps poppies, white or red, or even
remembering the dead, does nothing, for
a hundred-years on from ‘the one to end all’
governments still wave the patriotic flag
and world-wide, still make war.

 

The next I’m going to share with you is short and, possibly, the one most people liked when it was first performed.

How to Grow Poppies

For flowers in abundance
row after row, whole
landscapes turned crimson, first
turn the soil.
Digging trenches works well.
Poppies thrive in open spaces,
the removal of trees and other shade
is recommended.
Fertilize well, blood and bone is best.
Water in, a long winter of rain at least,
and leave … nature will do the rest.

 

I’ll leave you with a final Peace Poppy poem, mainly because I believe that the World needs Peace more now than ever. Wars and conflict are driving poverty and migration across continents, which is driving further right-wing and extremist movements. The Map of War and Conflicts LINK HERE   is frightening – and the refugees and the human misery these are creating affects us all.

 

Peace Poppies

They are white,
white like the feather
dished out to any man
deemed to be fit
but not fighting

They are white,
like the bones
of the sixteen
thousand conchies
who died at the front

They are white,
like the rain-washed faces
of the dead and injured
they rescued from
no-mans land

They are white
a bloom to remember
peace and the peaceful
who’d not kill
but not shirk

They are white
when all others are red
misunderstood today
as much as when
they came to be

They are white
or they are red to
remember and honour
not the war, not the glory
only the sacrifice.

 

Off to the Remembrance service now  🙂 with my red poppy on – and a lovely Cornish badge made locally and sold for the RBL complete with poppy and dove of peace – as in the picture above.

Any thoughts – all welcome

Best Ann

C.R.A.P. and the Joy of True Recycling

No, I don’t like the acronym either – CRAP is not a pleasant word in any way, sounds harsh, sounds coarse and creates unpleasant mental images  – however, just at the moment, I’m looking at the word a lot!

Why? Because this is the title acronym for Conserving Resources Associating People, which in the title is followed by an Area and is a Facebook page. So here, in Cornwall, there are at least eight that show if I search Facebook for C.R.A.P. – but I do not know if it is a country-wide phenomenon like Freecycle (which I don’t like for its ‘pleading your case – why you deserve this free item’ and ‘having to choose who gets it’ aspect – or is this only me) or just Cornwall and spreading. They referred back to ‘the first one set up’ Falmouth and Penryn (now with 5,400 members I see!) – so it may only be down here at this time.

Basically it is to save stuff going to landfill. Stuff that is still usable but not necessarily saleable – or stuff that’s good and usable that you’d just rather pass on than bother selling.

As we are downsizing in a major way – and have LOTS to get rid of – and then on top of that, quite a bit of the stuff I have hoarded kept safe was kept because it had been too good to throw away (to create landfill)  but not good enough to sell or to donate to charity for them to sell – this site is a blessing.

The local C.R.A.P. group has been running just over a month and has over 900 members already! Some giving, some finding, some doing both, some just watching until something catches their eye! And ‘local’ is important too, as members need to be close enough to pick-up the stuff.

It also encourages Up-cycling and Community efforts using recycled goods to help where needed.

You would be AMAZED at the stuff that goes – because it is so true – one person’s unwanted junk is someone’s ‘just what I need’.wp_20180917_22_21_53_pro

Unbelievable? You want Examples? Here you are then: an assortment of mixed glasses – went to two different people – both for crafting (glass painting / glass etching) 1950’s loo & hand-basin – to a retro loving home, 1980s grey loo, to become a planter, and to someone else, the handbasin – just what was needed.

wp_20180920_11_34_42_proScrolling through the page recently I’ve seen shoes, bowls, plates, lamps, rugs, old tables, cupboards, boxes, artificial flowers, table ends, woolly hats and comfrey roots – all go!

I called this the JOY of True Recycling because it is far more joyful than the necessary recycling of the waste we bring into our homes (plastic, card, glass and paper) and especially as the sort of stuff we can gift on this site is precisely the stuff that still goes to landfill – and there is a JOY in giving things away that you no longer need and knowing someone else can use 🙂

Off to take some pictures of the next pile of ‘treasure’ to give away …

Are you into recycling in this way?

Any good schemes where you are?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

X  Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

Burlesque, Deportment and Wet-Day PE lesson

burlesque-georgina
Georgina Gale

We had the fabulous Georgina Gale from Art of Dance, Plymouth, come to talk to our WI last week about Burlesque.  Not a usual topic for WI you may be thinking – but maybe you have the wrong idea about burlesque – or the wrong idea about WI ?  🙂

Burlesque is more about the suggestion of sensuality than about sex : WI is about women having fun while learning stuff together.

As Georgina talked it was noticeable that she wanted women to ‘own their space’ to be ‘certain and proud of being a woman – and show it’ and that this was aided by a few minor alterations to how we walked, how we held ourselves, and how we used whatever props came to hand.

At one point I found myself flooded with a memory. A memory that was of a lesson I learned when about thirteen or fourteen and have generally tried to follow – when I remember.

It was a wet day, a really wet day and it was not only PE but our PE teacher was away and so the HE (Home Economics) teacher was covering the lesson. Worse, with only one Gym, the boys and the girls had to take turns on these wet days and it was the boys turn – so we were relegated to the hall. The hall was used for some sports anyway – it had a badminton court marked out on it.

Back in those days teachers were not expected to have lesson plans ready for another member of staff to pick up and use if they were away – so the HE teacher was left to her own devices.

She chose to teach us a little deportment.

Now this may have been usual in some schools (maybe in the nearby Princess Margaret-Rose school for instance) but in our mixed secondary modern it was not on the general curriculum.

She started with walking – as did our Burlesque teacher last week – getting us to walk around the hall following the painted badminton lines, placing one bare foot in front of the other, on the line, as we went. Placing was a good word for it, toe – heel, toe – heel. Those who straddled the line were put right – one foot in front of the other! We were walking with grace – not clumping along.

Then she upped the stakes.

She’d brought along a pile of soft-backed old HE books and now we were to balance one on our head and continue our perambulation. Head up, eyes forward, looking at the line now in the distance. How it straightened backs and shoulders! It sounds stuffy but we had fun – it isn’t easy, that balancing the book on the head stuff – especially when you turn – so there was laughter too!

And so it was in our Burlesque evening (without the books – but with shoes) plenty of laughter but then suddenly we were looking far more confident, all looking taller. You could see how someone walking like that would draw attention, someone looking so confident somehow makes you believe that they know who they are, what they are doing and where they are going – and that confidence is attractive.

It made me think – how often do we as women duck our heads, look at our feet, slouch, unsure what to do without arms? Giving the impression that we are not confident in the world. How much of this is learnt behaviour, learnt ‘feminine’ behaviour? That maybe we have lost some indefinable female power by ignoring, or deliberately turning our backs, on elegance and grace of movement. If you ever watch dancers, off  stage, they still have it – maybe we all need a few lessons.

How often do you see young women ‘clumping’ along (as my teacher put it) like a boy – but with the rest of the body language that says, ‘don’t listen to me, don’t look at me, I don’t know what I’m doing here’ ?

Maybe a little deportment should be taught – maybe under another name? Positional empowerment?

Whereas back in the school hall the teacher finished off by teaching us how sit and how to get in and out of a car elegantly without showing your knickers no matter how short your skirt – very useful in those early mini-skirt days! Georgina added how to stand, so that you are comfortable, your back well supported, (she’s also trained in Pilates), your hands poised in a relaxed position that allowed you to stand tall and look confident – comfortably. (Plus a few cheeky poses and the removal of … gloves 😉 )

What do you think?

Positional empowerment lessons for girls?

A load of old-fashioned nonsense?

Love to hear from you

best  –  Ann

Ok, you can admit it now – you went and got a paperback or magazine and tried walking with it on your head, didn’t you?   😉

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

 

 

Healing from Breast-cancer Lumpectomy update (my)

So here’s a catch-up on the healing process of my breast cancer lumpectomy. I know I promised a stage by stage report, but as you will know, a few spanners fell into the works – and then my blog/internet disappeared for a while. Well, back on track – here are some pictures to join the dots.

May – this was the last one I showed you …wp_20180428_07_30_40_proJune – by mid June the bruising had expanded and went all round the breast – making it swollen and tender.. wp_20180527_08_44_07_crop-proJuly – by mid July the swelling had gone down – but there was still the feeling of a hard knot under the scar – and the scar seemed rather pulled in. wp_20180629_08_21_48_proAugust – by mid August this had ‘filled’ in again and the ‘knot’ seems to have loosened – leaving the nipple slightly looking aside, but the breast feeling smoother.  wp_20180829_08_46_13_august-2018-pro

Now the ‘Other interesting Developments’ I mentioned at the end of my last post.

Well, when I returned to see the surgeon after surgery he said I would receive radiotherapy after my surgery had started to heal, followed by oestrogen blockers – but after I left him I was approached by a research team nurse.

She explained that this hospital were doing a phase three research study into whether radiotherapy did more harm than good in cases where the removed lump was, a, under 2 cms, b, early stage, c, oestrogen receptive, d, non-aggressive. In which case the treatment would be via oestrogen blockers only

I was asked if I would give permission for the lump to be examined for suitability, while I could read up about the research programme and the statistics. Armed with plenty to read I gave my permission for the lump to be tested.

When I returned to the hospital for my first appointment in the radiotherapy department the results were not in, so the research nurse appeared again and apologised (explaining that I ought to have been ‘caught into the research programme’ just after my biopsy – so the lump would have gone straight off) so now they would process me as if I was having radiotherapy … but not go ahead unless I decided not to enter the programme and it was required.

I was concerned about what would happen is I reacted badly to the oestrogen blocker. The common side-effects are to put you back into menopause symptoms. Having gone through them ALL, for five years ‘cold turkey’ (no HRT)  I wasn’t too enamoured with the idea – add to that, I had a friend who had, post breast surgery, reacted badly to oestrogen blockers of various kinds, living in a ‘brain fog’. I was told, that there were a variety to choose from, and that if one did not suit a different one could be prescribed. AND I was told I could begin right away, so that by the time I had to make the actual decision – I might have an idea if they suited me. That seemed like a good idea to me.

At the next appointment in radiotherapy with the consultant radiographer we were joined by the research team. Now I had to make my decision. Did I want to be on the programme?

Now I’d had plenty of time to consider. I had looked at various information; I had learnt that a phase three was considered ‘pre-clinical’ as in the last programme before it became recommended (that it was looking at much larger numbers to iron-out anomalies, but that it was showing great promise)

I already knew that they would be following me up with a mammogram a year for ten years – so that if anything occurred or reoccurred it should be spotted early. That 25% of women who have radiotherapy suffer long term, sometimes life-long, side effects, including marked breast shrinkage, constant pain or tenderness, burning sensations. One in 4 is a high number!

I had initially had a few weird feelings when taking the oestrogen blocker – but after a week these had disappeared. I was getting hot feet at night – but then the weather was quite warm anyway, but none of the other menopause symptoms like full-on flushes or brain-fog that I had feared. I decided to say YES.

However, now I had to give permission for them to look at the results to see if I was eligible. . . .

Ten minutes later they came back to say I WAS – the results from the lump met all the criteria and, when the formula was applied, I was given a 3.2 % chance or re-occurrence, meaning I could go on the research programme.

Since then I have had a bone density scan (as oestrogen blockers also make it more likely to suffer from osteoporosis – though remember I’d be on these anyway)  which came back as ‘normal’ and I now have a GP cancer-care follow up appointment lined up.

The hard scar tissue in the breast has softened, and though the nipple looks a little sideways now, the breast feels good and the cleavage is still smooth (well, as smooth as any at 64 years!)

So, here we are on my breast cancer journey – basically just getting on with it, taking the oestrogen-blocker pill everyday, trying to get back to my pre-2016 healthy lifestyle, exercising, eating well (basically low carb, including fermented foods, a few supplements (like vitamin D [October to May], omega3 oil, gulcosamine, and, of course, the borax maintenance dose and magnesium glycinate for the LS)

AND

Time to get back to writing, to being an author – and editing and running my business. Time to start living life again and trying out lots of new things.

Let me add – this is just my experience. I couldn’t find any early stage breast cancer stories on blogs – so decided that I would do it – for others who want to see what this stage is like ( as opposed to the drastic cases usually written about) Being positive, being informed, and getting on with it, is my way through.

Hope you found something useful – and if you want to share your experiences please do use the comments.

Best – Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

 

Into the Internet Black Hole

What? Oh Hello!  Where have I been?
LOST – Lost in a black hole called black-hole– ‘our service provider didn’t organise things properly’… As in, we have moved … all the way to … next door. ‘Oh, yes, it is all organised,’ they said, ‘we will cut your phone off at the old address and have you connected (new line required) and all you will have to do is take the equipment – plug it in – and there you are – only one day disconnected’

They said.

Oh, you’d like to know who? TalkTalk.

Now, I had only recently gone over to them, mainly because BT were being really intransigent. It seemed that I had to take out a new contract with them as we would be moving to a new address, so we would be seen as a new customer … however, as we were already with them at our present address we were not eligible for any of the reduced rate offers open to new customers … because we were a current customer.

UM? So on one hand we are a new customer but on the other we are not? Talk about having your cake and eating it … that is BT – not us!

So we looked around – and took recommendations – and checked prices – and rang and asked questions. And switched to TalkTalk. All went well and smoothly initially, their router arrived, we plugged it in – it worked fine, phone continued as usual … until the move about a month later.

First someone at TalkTalk didn’t actually book OpenReach to come and do the line connection when the move was ordered. Fortunately, as we hadn’t heard anything we chased TalkTalk up. Apparently the notes were there – but the booking hadn’t been made. The operator then said he’d booked it for the day of our move – 1st May. However, we later got an email from Open Reach confirming an appointment to connect us up on the 9th, however we had organised to move out of the old house on the 1st, so the move went ahead. (meaning – 1 week without phone or internet – instead of one day)

On the 9th of May, in the  last half hour of the afternoon slot, an engineer turned up. He connected up everything in the house, went to connect up outside and then told us – he couldn’t. It seems that Open Reach (a different part if it)  hadn’t done some of the preparation work. He said he would report it and that we should see someone within a couple of days, but that we needed to tell our service provider to get them to pass on the problem, and to tell them ‘it needed two men and a cherry-picker to take the new cable through the trees’.

We contacted TalkTalk to tell them, they said ‘we will order an engineer to come to connect you’ whereupon we told them what the engineer had said, they said ‘we will order an engineer’. We were given a booking time, Friday that week – no one turned up at all.

(two weeks without proper internet – or phone.)

So back to TalkTalk – trying to make sure they really understood that it was preparation work that was needed.

Eventually, another (single) engineer arrived, saw the problem – but he DID arrange for the work to be done the following day. Then we should have been connected!  Or not!

 (three weeks without internet or phone connection)

It seemed there was some kind of problem in the actual line further up towards the village. He put in a request for it to be looked into … and nearly a week later … we were actually connected. (four weeks without internet or phone)

Nearly a month after the move! On top of that they have not retained our old phone number! The one we’ve had for over 40 years.  This because … when I eventually got high enough up the ladder to speak to someone who could ask WHY BT wouldn’t let us keep our number – it turns out that the County Council hadn’t notified Royal Mail that the address we had verified two years ago was verified – and so didn’t appear as a ‘proper’ address to allocate a phone number to – unfortunately getting to this point meant that by the time this was sorted out and Royal Mail had added us to the verified address list – we were now so long disconnected that TalkTalk could not now apply for our old number back! You just couldn’t make this up!

The number they have given us is just weird – no location has a number starting with 2 in the whole of the Liskeard area code!  So, rant over – I now face making sure all our contacts have this new number.

wp_20180622_13_27_06_proLastly, just as we get online again, my dear mother, who has been in poor health for a long time with sever vascular dementia, lost her ability to swallow.
Imagine – no one knowing our new number yet trying to call us!
Since then I have been in a different black hole – this one created by the whirlwind of seeing someone very close pass away and organising all that must follow.

 

So, dear, patient readers – thank you for being there and for reading even though this blog has been beset with long pauses and gaps this past year or so.

PS

I will update on my healing process and other interesting developments soon …

Best Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

***

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

A touch of Spring and The Follow-Up

I wanted to bring you a montage of Spring (flowers, pond videos etc) to entertain you all before I went back to my stage 1 breast cancer journey tale. If you’ve just arrived the first instalment is HERE and the second HERE. 

So here is Spring – Cornish style (well in my garden anyway)

You can engage in some peaceful Newt Watching  [click here if reading on email  ] and just listen to the birds in the background! Or a wriggle of Tadpoles [click here if reading on email]
and just look at the flowers – all late – but here they come – and a nice bumble-bee too –  new life – JOY !

wp_20180425_18_04_22_pro wp_20180425_18_00_40_pro wp_20180425_18_00_10_pro wp_20180425_18_03_24_pro

And so now, in a relaxed and positive frame of mind, on to the second part of today’s blog, my stage 1 breast cancer journey continues …

The Follow-Up

Maybe I had over-done it at Belly Dance the Thursday before – but my breast was a bit tender and the bruising was still changing from blue through those wonderful yellow shades, so didn’t look a pretty sight (see below) Not that it would bother the surgeon, I’m sure. He was mostly interested in the healing of the incisions … which was good 🙂

He then went through the results: No cancers cells detected in the margin of ‘healthy’ cells they took out with the tumour. (GOOD NEWS) No cancer in any of the 4 lymph nodes that they took from under my arm. (Extra GOOD News!)

Of the tumour – a total of 22mm – the central 9mm was Grade 2 stage Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – the outer layer ‘intermediate* grade’ Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS) (*as in between 1 and 2) Not such good news – as the grade 2 is invasive –  and had already broken out of the milk duct it began in.

To mop-up any stray individual cancer cells – or other cells in the breast that were planning on turning cancerous – 3 weeks radiotherapy was recommended. This is not without risks, varying from minor to major, from as common as one in four to very rare, and can be very uncomfortable and tiring at the time and for a while afterwards.

Then he told me that the cancer was Oestrogen Positive. {often written ER+ because the Americans spell it Estrogen} This means that the cancer uses oestrogen to stimulate it’s growth. Now, being past menopause – you would think there wasn’t too much oestrogen kicking around anyway – however, there’s enough to be a problem! So the recommendation is a five year course of oestrogen blockers ‘hormone therapy’ – that stop the uptake of oestrogen by the cancer cells.

Which – hang on ladies – can throw you back into all those menopause symptoms you thought you had at last got over! Yep! Hot flushes, night-sweats, brain fog – whatever was in your bag. And after doing five years to get through it ‘cold-turkey’ (i.e. no HRT – one thing that is shown to increase chances of breast cancer) is a teensy bit annoying.

However – there are more than one ‘family’ groups of oestrogen blockers – and if you don’t get on with one – say after 6 months (because it takes at  least that long to settle into it) you may be changed to another to find one that does suit you. They say it is rare that someone doesn’t get on with any but with my reactions to so many medicines (and anaesthetics!) I’m a little trepidatious but I intend to take it up…

WHY? well, because taking the oestrogen blocker stops the cancer cells getting hold of their growth boosting ingredient – and this is shown to give a better chance of surviving after having breast cancer treatment.

The doctors will use a tool called Predict – to tell you what your long-term chances are if you ask (that is – five years and ten years after surgery and whichever treatments you have).  Once you have all your details you can find it for yourself here :  PREDICT

The difference that oestrogen blockers make in an oestrogen-positive cancer patient with my details (age, how detected, size of tumour, HER2-,  grade, treatment plan) is 2.9% after ten years (from 79.2% still alive after 10 years, to 82.1%)

So … watch this space – as they say … quite a while to go yet though – radiotherapy first … and I’m not really looking forward to that either having watched Dad go through it all not so long ago!

Oh, I promised you a picture of how it is healing up? … hang on … there – healing well – complete with ‘interesting colours’  🙂wp_20180428_07_30_40_pro

Let me add – this is just my experience. I couldn’t find any early stage breast cancer stories on blogs – so decided that I would do it – for others who want to see what this stage is like ( as opposed to the drastic cases usually written about) Being positive, being informed, and getting on with it, is my way through. Hope you found something useful – and if you want to share your experiences please do use the comments. If you want to praise the bounties of Spring – you can do that too!  🙂

Best Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂

pps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

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