Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I?

Just what’s needed. A blog from someone who doesn’t blog very much on the subject of the Scottish Independence referendum. Because there isn’t enough of this sort of thing. Please feel free not to read this.

I’ve been trying to work out why I stand where I stand. I am, and forever have been, a default No. But why? I actually would love to be a proud Independent Scot. I consider myself more Scottish than British and I always have done. But I consider myself more Glaswegian than Scottish, more from one end of my home town than the place as a whole. So it’s not that I’m anti-English (considering I’m planning on marrying one of them next year, that would be awkward) or hate being British. I truly don’t. It’s simply of a case of identifying more with what’s closer to me. So why am I a No voter?

I’m yet to be convinced that this is the time for independence to work as well as it could. When basic questions like what currency we’ll use cannot be answered without argument, I fail to see how we can trust what we’re being told by the Yes campaign. They are painting a picture of idyllic proportions. The White Paper was a wonderful fairy story. They are portraying a vision of a perfect country with unending resources, where taxes won’t rise and everything we could ever need will be fully funded. Ok, so I’m paraphrasing a bit, but in essence, they’re claiming that it will be an easy ride. That’s just not going to be the case. When asking about the currency issue, we’re told that “They can’t stop us using the pound”. That’s entirely true, ‘they’ can’t. But without a currency union, which seems unlikely to happen, we would be using a currency over which we have absolutely no control. They haven’t actually told us how that’s a good thing. Because it’s not. Also, they can’t guarantee EU membership. Yes, there’s a lot of bluster about negotiating from within, etc, but essentially it’s a kind of a ‘do it and hope’ situation. And that seems to be the ethos of the Yes movement. “It’ll be fine”, “It’ll be a laugh”, “It’ll all work out”. And I don’t think I’m willing to take that gamble. I haven’t seen anything to convince me that my life and the life of my child (and possible future grandchildren) will be improved by living in iScotland.

Obviously, I don’t know that staying in the Union will improve these lives either, but it’s much less of a leap of faith. I don’t like being ruled by a government with archaic practices and so steeped in tradition that it can’t seem to find its way out of. I don’t like the fact that I’m represented by someone in a parliament that is completely inaccessible to the majority of the population. I am not afraid to say I don’t like Westminster. But neither do a vast number of English, Welsh and Northern Irish people. Scotland is hardly unique in its feelings of lack of representation.

Don’t get me wrong, the No campaign has been truly awful! I’m ashamed that the best they have come up with to try to convince Scots to stay in the Union has been basically scaremongering and patronising ad campaigns. (Whoever came up with the BT Lady concept should never be in charge of anything ever again.) I can honestly say that I haven’t paid much attention to the views of the No camp, so I can’t really give many more examples. I didn’t need to be convinced by them. What I have been disappointed by is the way to two sides have engaged with each other. It has been pathetic, embarrassing and cringe-worthy. Neither side has earned my respect or my vote.

I think Scotland becoming independent is inevitable. Possibly not this year, but the strength of feeling in the Yes camp is almost overwhelming, and that’s infectious. If this referendum returns a No vote, there will be another one in the future and the public will be less divided. This Union will not last forever.

This week, I’m voting with my head and my head says No, but if the result is returned as a Yes, my heart will have won. A little bit of me will be happy either way.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall

I hate diets. I hate the diet industry. I hate the body shaming culture that surrounds us. I hate products that promise a ‘quick fix’ for anyone who wants to lose a bit of weight. I have always had a relatively positive body image. I’m short (5’2″). I have a bum that is bigger than it needs to be. I wear glasses. I have bags under my eyes. I have hair that quite often has a mind of its own. I have plenty to ‘work on’ before I’m Hollywood perfect. But I normally don’t care. I don’t actually WANT to be Hollywood perfect. It’s not normal and it’s not natural. 

So why did I spend Saturday morning hating myself, hating my body and generally wishing I could curl up under the duvet and never be seen again? I wish I had an answer to that. Yes, I’ve put on a bit of weight, in fact I’m probably around the heaviest I’ve ever been (perhaps excluding when I was very pregnant). But normally I’m quite comfortable with that. I half-imagine that I’ll do something about it one day, for health reasons, but the truth is I like cake and I like chocolate and I like wine. Those things alone outweigh (pardon the pun) my desire to be the stick-thin. However, on Saturday I was in tears. Lots of tears. I couldn’t find anything to wear that I felt comfortable in. All I could see was this huge belly sticking out over the waist band of too-tight trousers or bulging out of a skirt. And it made me feel awful. 

I think I was hankering after the days when I did have a skinny body. I used to be a size 8-10. It was ‘perfect’ for my frame and I loved it. But that was a long time ago, when I was working 12 hour days, was on my feet all day and barely had time to eat. It’s hardly surprising that I’m slightly bigger now! So it dawned on me that despite my proclamations of not buying in to the ‘everyone must be perfect’ culture, it still manages to creep in to my head and make me feel shit about myself. I was judging myself, and I fell short. Fell short of whose standards, I’m not quite sure. 

I am a 30*cough* year-old woman. I am a person. I am a human being with good bits and bad bits just like every other human on this planet. I don’t deserve to feel horrible because of how I look.  

And now I’m not sure what my point was when I started writing this. 

Am I part of the problem? Does the fact the I judge myself so harshly sometimes make me as bad as the people who write for trashy magazines slagging off a minor celeb for going out without make-up? (Oh, I don’t wear make-up either.) I hope not. I don’t think I’m that shallow. 

Maybe I do need to write that exercise plan. After all, if I am actually doing something about the little bit of extra weight I’m carrying, then I can’t feel bad about it, can I? That didn’t work too well when I tried the 5:2 diet. That just made me feel REALLY awful about myself, but that was more about my moods on fasting days – I wasn’t pleasant to be around! Or is drawing up the exercise plan and trying to do something about my weight just buying-in to the very thing I hate? It all so complicated!

I’ll think about it a bit more after this lovely bar of chocolate 😉

Happy Birthday to me!

Well, actually it was at the end of January, so don’t all start singing at once! I’ve been meaning to blog about the BEST present ever since then. So here goes…

The Giraffe gave me an envelope*. A plain white C5 envelope with “The Birthday Girl” written on it. Inside were the following pieces of paper:

 

20140204_081813

 

20140204_081825

 

20140204_081837

 

20140204_081850

 

20140204_081901

 

20140204_081913

 

20140204_081924

 

20140204_081937 v2

 

20140204_081947

 

20140204_082001

 

20140204_082016

 

How exciting!! But I still have absolutely no idea where we’re going or what we’re doing when we get there. Every single time I asked, hoping to catch her off guard, the answer has been #SecretTrip (Yes, the word hashtag has actually been used on occasion.)

So in a few weeks, I’m looking forward to a proper grown-up weekend away with my lovely girlfriend (and without the child, who will be staying with my parents) but I have have no clue what I’m looking forward to. I won’t find out until we are literally on the doorstep (I have offered to drive, but she saw through that as well).  I’ve been told not to ask questions if I’m asked to pack specific things, which makes me think she’s going to ask me to pack completely spurious stuff just to throw me off the scent. But that could just be my suspicious brain working in overdrive. Or maybe it shows I can actually be devious deep down. Who knows?

I have racked my brain trying to think of all the places we said we’d like to visit, but there are too many to even begin to guess which one she’s picked. If indeed she has even picked one of them.

In short, I have no clue and I can’t wait to find out!

I will report back when I have more details…

 

 

 

 

*She gave me other things as well, she’s not mean!

And so it begins…

Hello. Yes, I know it’s been a while. How are you all? I’ve planned loads of blogs in my head, but none of them quite made it to screen. What do you mean that’s probably a blessing in disguise? 😉

Anyway, this one will be published. I want to save this story to tell Nuggs when she’s a bit older and doesn’t remember. Where better to do that than here, with all (2 of) you lovely readers?

She’s had her first romance. Awww. She confided in me last week that she fancied a boy called Finlay (when did we lose the D from Findlay?) and wanted him to ask her out. She had even made plans to buy him a Valentine’s card* and asked me if I would write it so that he didn’t recognise her handwriting. (Yes, we had the equality talk about her not having to wait to be asked, but I think it fell on deaf ears.) Two days later, she came home beaming and excitedly announced that he’d asked her out, with a little steering from her friends. She was over the moon. She was wondering where they were going to go on their date, given that he can’t drive (yes, they are both 8) and didn’t have money to pay for anything (and yes, we had the equality talk again). But small details like that aside, she was a very happy Nuggs.

Obviously, the first question out of both mine and the Giraffe’s mouth was have you kissed him yet? Now, I know I’m a little bit out of touch with how the kids do things these days, but the answer wasn’t anywhere near what I was expecting…

No, they hadn’t kissed. Because, quite frankly, yuck. But they had both kissed a coin. The same side of the same coin, which belonged to someone else, but she was hoping to swap so that she could keep it forever. Now if that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is!

Fast forward to the very next afternoon. “He dumped me”.

Apparently Finlay wasn’t ready for this kind of commitment yet. He didn’t really like her in that way and would quite like to go back to just being friends. My poor baby had been cast aside before they’d even managed a kiss!

She managed to behave in the exact manner of a woman scorned with frightening accuracy. I have absolutely no idea where she learned this from! She has decided she doesn’t want to speak to him and would happily slap him (if it didn’t hurt him too much and she didn’t get into trouble for it).

What can a mother say to that? I have a feeling I might get some more practice at this in years to come.

*This is where I have come to realise our influence on her as parents is beginning to wane. We are completely and utterly apathetic towards Valentine’s Day. It’s a Hallmark holiday. Anyone who needs to be reminded to shower a bit of romance into their relationship has bigger problems than finding the right card. I could harp on about this for some time, but I won’t bore you. Suffice it to say the Giraffe and I don’t partake in Feb 14th festivities.

This ole house

49 days. That’s how long we have before we move. 49 days! It seems like ages, but it’s going to fly by, isn’t it?

I was cutting the grass a few weeks ago (possibly for the last time!) and I got to reminiscing about moving in here. I bought this place about 6 1/2 years ago. It was sold by a man who was executor of his mother’s estate. The family had lived their entire lives here. As soon as I walked in to view it, I knew it was where I wanted to be. It had a lovely feel to it, and I just knew I could make it into the home Nuggs and I needed.

It was a complete renovation project. I could list everything I did, but suffice it to say that at one point there was nothing but bare walls, stripped wood and floorboards. In fact, the floorboards were up at one point as well. It was a long process. Thankfully, we were living with my parents at the time, so I had no financial pressures or time constraints. Still, it took 8 months to renovate. Long enough.

We moved in January 2008, on the weekend of my 30th birthday in fact. It felt like a whole new chapter in my life. I was beginning to find life again after splitting with my ex, and as much as I adore my folks for putting us up for so long, it was time to be our own little family. Just the two of us. Buying this flat was one of the best decision I ever made.

It turned out to be exactly the place I hoped it would. It’s been the comfortable home that has looked after us and kept us safe and warm (mostly, the boiler can be a bit temperamental). Without wanting to blow my own trumpet, I made a shell of a flat into a lovely, comfortable home. And we’ve been very happy here.

It has also become the first home that the Giraffe and I have shared. She just fitted into our lives so perfectly that it’s become difficult to remember what life was like B.G.*

I looked around recently at the few things I didn’t do before moving in. There is the hideous front door that I have always hated, the fire and surround that I didn’t have the money to change, the woodwork that could have done with at least one more coat (but after the 5 it already had, I’d had enough of painting). All things that I meant to get round to doing one day. Now, things that someone else can do. They’re not mine any more.

I have a new house to focus on now. A new house that needs a fair bit of painting. But I also have someone to do it with this time. Someone to argue** with colours about, someone to make a new home with. I can’t wait!

We’re both desperate to start packing, but it’s far too soon. We could probably pack the whole house in a couple of days. If we start now, we’ll just be tripping over boxes for weeks. We have, however, cleared out the shed and a (very small) cupboard. I think that’s quite restrained of us…

*Before Giraffe

**We won’t really argue. She’s already told me I’m picking colours.

An incredibly self-indulgent post

Warning: You might want to get sick buckets before you start reading. This is going to get soppy.

As a lot of you will already know, the Giraffe has been away this week on a work-related course. She’s been staying an a hotel at the other end of the country.

It’s been really, really weird not having her here. This is the longest we’ve been apart since she moved in 13 months ago. She’s been away for a couple of nights visiting her folks before, but this is the first time in a very long time I’ve had almost a week without her.

It has taken me back to the time before she moved up. We used to spend every evening emailing, texting, skyping and eventually (once we both had iPads) face-timing. So even when she wasn’t here, my evenings were spent ‘with’ her. It hasn’t been so easy this time. The hotel’s wifi is awful, so face time wasn’t initially an option. She’s also having to eat out every night, so she’s not back in and able to properly talk to me until much later in the evening. We’ve been iMessaging and texting, but it’s just not the same as seeing her face. For the first three nights, we also called each other to say goodnight. It’s the only time through the day we actually spoke, and it quickly became my favourite time. We did manage to face time for the last two nights. Seeing her face was such a relief. I think it made me realise even more how much I was missing her, but it was definitely worth it.

I used to love living alone (or as alone as you get with a child in the house…). I used to value the peace and quiet of the house once Nuggs was in bed. I loved my own company and not having to consider anyone else. I think I was probably the happiest I had ever been; in my house, own my own. It was perfect. Then this amazing woman dropped into my life from nowhere, moved in and life shifted very quickly. I had expected to struggle with having someone (even someone as lovely as the Giraffe) in ‘my’ space. (I had a very memorable wobble one night about something so small and tiny that I now have no idea why it shook me so much.) Surprisingly, I didn’t struggle in the sightest. We just moulded around each other from that start and a new normal found itself very quickly. It was like it was always meant to be like this.

In the run up to this week of her being away, I had wondered if I would enjoy being on my own again. I thought that I might quite enjoy the space. I told her that I was looking forward to the chance to miss her, in the nicest possible way.

In reality, this week has been long and lonely and cold. I know she hasn’t  had an easy week of it either.

We usually travel in to work together (on the days we both work, at least). The drives in have been very quiet without her beside me. Not that we normally speak much (I’m not known for my ability to be a morning person), but just that presence not being in the car was strange. Coming home without her was just as strange. Knocking around the exceptionally quiet house of an evening, I have been wondering what I used to do when I was alone. The answer was probably waste my nights on Twitter/Facebook/Other random websites (so not actually that much different to what the two of us do now). I have been asking myself how I didn’t go mad with lonliness. It’s Too Quiet. Now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d see myself type!

Bedtimes have probably been the worst points of the week. Not just for the fact she normally heats my side of the bed up for me. (Isn’t that just the nicest thing ever?) Going to bed by myself makes me quite sad. All I want is to curl up next to the woman I love and stay there all night. It’s the time I miss her the most.

I miss her smell, I miss her voice, I miss her touch, I miss everything. I’m totally and properly completely in love with her. And I want her back.

And tonight, I get her 😀

To buy or not to buy? That is the question…

The Giraffe and I have been planning to buy a house at “some point” for a while now. When she moved in, we had a point the future of about 18 months to 2 years in our heads. That hasn’t stopped us looking already though. 

We went to see a place last night. A fairly standard 3 bed semi, in a relatively nice area. We have been looking at it online for a while, but the price dropped last week to something more like what we think it’s actually worth, so we decided to go and see what we thought. It’s fairly modern inside (expect the bathroom. That’s HIDEOUS! Usable and clean and perfectly fine, but HIDEOUS) but would need bits and bobs doing to it over the next five years or so. It would eventually need a new kitchen, some of the windows need to be replaced, the front garden needs to be flattened and paved, things like that.  Things that, if we stayed where we are, would need to be done to this place anyway. 

We went in with a list of specific things we wanted to check out. We looked round with a very analytical eye. Both of us were mentally making a pros and cons list in our heads as we went. When we got home, we wrote that list down. It’s fairly balanced and fair. It’s also pretty equal between the columns. The evening was spent pulling the house apart (figuratively, obviously) and deciding what would need to be done when, what we could live with, what we would want to do before we moved in, all the things you absolutely should do before you  consider spending that amount of money.

However, talking about it this morning, we realised that neither of us LOVED it. Neither of us would be devastated if it was sold tomorrow and we didn’t even get to have a second viewing.

 

Both of us tend towards practicalities. Is the way we viewed the house just a result of that? We have spoken at length about the kind of house we want, what level of ‘needs work’ we are prepared to commit to. So is it surprising that we went in with the perspective we did? 

It’s a nice house, I can see us living there, it’s in one of the areas we would like to be. But is that enough? Is the lack of love a sign we shouldn’t go for it?

Answers on a postcard please. 

Marriage (the Equal kind), Consummation and Adultery

Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert. I have a basic grasp of the laws surrounding marriage/civil partnership. I may very well get things wrong in the blog. Feel free to point out any mistake to me. But please do it nicely 😉

 

It must be said, this subject isn’t something I had thought much about until I met the Giraffe. If anyone had asked me, my opinion would have been that everyone should be able to marry whomever the hell they wish. Provided both parties (or more, if they so desired) were in agreement and were entering into the relationship willingly, who on earth am I to judge whether their relationship is valid or not? That’s about as far as my thought process would have gone and I would have blindly gone on with my life. But now, mainly because it’s relevant to me, it’s something I have developed a real interest in. I find the arguments against marriage equality baffling. Often, I have to stop reading articles because they make me ragey and want to hit things.

I’m not going into the various arguments for and against marriage equality. I’m taking it as read that it will happen, that those opposed will be given an opt-out and will skulk away awaiting the fall of society and the ability to say “I told you so.” Which will never happen.

The Marriage Equality Bill is currently being introduced to Parliament. This will (hopefully) give gay couples in England and Wales the legal right to be married. Scotland has its own legislation in progress. I haven’t read either in their entirety, but I have gleaned the important facts. There is much being made, in various news articles and blogs, about the inability of those drafting the bill to be able to define consummation in a gay or lesbian relationship. (Incidentally, if anyone can tell me why lesbians can also be gay, but men have only one ‘label’, I’d really love to know.) Consummation was an important part of marriages of old. It was proof that the woman was a virgin. It was about ownership and conjugal rights and other such patriarchal things. But most importantly, lack of consummation allowed the marriage to be annulled. In Roman Catholic terms, the Pope can still dissolve a marriage that has not been consummated. Annulment allows people to remarry in church, whereas divorce doesn’t. (Which is important to some people, I’m led to believe.) Or more accurately, didn’t. From what I can gather, all but the most hellfire and brimstone type Christians – and Catholics –accept that divorce isn’t the root of all evil. I can’t comment on other religions as I don’t know the facts. So why are some people so interested in having such an archaic notion included in modern marriage laws? It is barely used under the law as it stands and I’m sure one day it will probably disappear. But that’s not a fight for the equal marriage lobby at this time. They’d only be accused of trying to redefine marriage further.

Consummation isn’t mentioned under Civil Partnership law. Does this mean people who have entered into CPs have any less valid relationships? Surely the act of getting marriage is a contract? It’s a promise to the person you love that you intend to spend the rest of your life with them. There are lots of legalities bundled into that contract and the new bill evens up the gap between CP and marriage laws. But essentially, it’s about commitment. To each other. Whether or not you ‘seal the deal’ with whatever you deem to be meaningful sexual activities is entirely up to you!

In Scotland, we got rid of the concept of legal consummation. It’s an anachronism that needs to be removed from the English legal system.

That brings me on to something else that I have heard equal marriage supporters complaining about. In a same sex marriage, adultery will not be an option for divorce. I’ve seen written several times that this means we’re not being given true equality. Well, actually we are, in every sense of what is practical. Imagine for a second that a man married to a woman had any kind of sex you like with another man. That’s not adultery. The only legal definition of adultery is a man and a woman having vaginal intercourse. So, I suppose, if a man married to another man were to go and have sex with a woman, there is an argument that adultery should be available as a reason for ending that marriage. However, let’s put the adultery issue into perspective. (My perspective, because it’s my blog :-p) I was in a heteronormative marriage. When I discovered my ex was in love with someone else, I didn’t care whether or not they were having sex. The act of him being able to tell someone else he loved them while he was still married to me was what I would consider adultery. But it’s not. Could I have divorced him for adultery? Probably. But I would have had to have proof. Unless I started having him followed and photographed (if they left the curtains open) to get evidence, adultery wasn’t really an option for me either. Or course, he could have admitted it, but then he would have had to cite dates, times, etc. where he and Fig* had done the dirty. Did I really want that information in my head?

These days, the use of adultery as a reason for divorce is falling. I don’t have figures to hand, but feel free to google. I’m sure you won’t discover that I’m wrong.  The catch-all term of unreasonable behaviour, however, covers everything that could ever possibly give you reason to want to divorce someone. (FYI, I didn’t use this either. We divorced by mutual consent after a period of separation. It’s just so much easier…). So why, when we will be given perfectly acceptable methods of ending a same sex marriage, which cover everything that needs to be covered, are some people still not happy?

The argument that the omission of these two concepts in the Equal Marriage Bill means it is equal-but-not-equal is the other end of the extreme to the Catholic Church. There are people out there who wish to have everything exactly as the law stands now for marriage available to same sex couples. I think that is naive and short-sighted. In my opinion, the laws for same sex marriage will be modern and relevant and applicable. They will cut out some of the archaic concepts that complicate marriage laws as they stand today. One day, I would like to see true and absolute marriage equality, with no separate laws for same and mixed sex. But I believe that that will come from straight marriage laws changing to match those of same sex couples, not the other way around.

 

 

*The name I am eventually giving his new wife. It came from a long and windy conversation with the Giraffe, beginning with The Current Mrs P and ending in the dried fruit we hate the most. (Apart from in fig rolls, which we love.)

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…

…How long must I put up with thee?

 Bah, humbug.

Yes, I know. It’s not the popular outlook. Especially this year! People I’ve previously known to be rational and sane-thinking individuals have had their Christmas decoration up for weeks already.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love the family element, the getting together of friends who may not have seen each other much through the busy year. I love the giving (and receiving, obviously) of gifts. I genuinely love it. I’d just quite like it to be confined to the second half of the month of December. You can get too much of a good thing, you know.

It seems to me that ‘Christmas time’ is starting earlier each year. Decorations and gift ideas are in the shop the day after Hallowe’en at the latest. Do we really need to be bombarded with cheery (or not) Christmas music in the shops on the first day of November? Do we need to be told what the “perfect gift” for Mum or Dad is? Do we need the supermarkets to try and entice us to do the Christmas food shopping with them (using awful, regurgitated, insulting adverts)? Can we not just be left alone to enjoy the festive period when it’s actually the Festive Period?

I hate the consumerism.  Could you guess?

And as for Christmas trees: why do we do it? Why do we bring a chopped-down piece of wood with needles clinging to it for dear life (or if you’re an artificial fan, an effigy of one) into our homes to slowly wilt and die in the corner of the lounge? My extensive research* has shown that evergreen branches were given as worship to the Sun God in midwinter. They were supposed to make him healthier and stronger. Another possible reason is that decorative evergreen branches were used to protect from ghosts, witches, evil spirits and the likes. Then there’s the tale about a man called St Boniface. He felled a massive tree that took down everything in its path as it fell, except one small solitary fir tree. He declared this a miracle and named it the tree of the Christ child. Convenient, huh? Whichever one of these is your reason for having a Christmas tree, or if (like me) it’s just what you do every year, WHY ARE YOU DOING IT SO EARLY?

There are some houses where decorations are tasteful and matching, some where they’re chaotic and individual (mine run a fine line in the middle of that somewhere). And then there are some houses who cause a surge in the national grid when their lights are turned on. There’s a perfect example of this that we drove past last night. I wish I’d taken a photograph. In fact, I might even drive round tonight, just for you. It’s AWFUL! The entire front of the house is covered in lights, there are at least a dozen life-size figures made from lights. They flash, they make it look as though things are moving, they illuminate the road outside. It is a true example of going overboard. It’s not *quite* as OTT as this, but it’s not far off…

 Image

 In our house, we currently have an advent calendar (which was made by the Giraffe and I last year, I’m still very proud of it). It’s our only nod in the direction of decorations so far. And really, if we had any choice in the matter, it probably wouldn’t be on display until later in the month. Thankfully, it’s something we both agree on and there has (so far) been no pleading from Nuggs for a tree or tinsel or any of the other detritus that will soon cover every conceivable surface. Normally, I would have put the decoration up about 2 weeks before Christmas. Mainly because I felt I had to. This year, owing to a weekend away and various other busy things that are going on, it’s likely we won’t pick up a tree until about a week before. Does that make us horrible, scrooge-like people? Do I care? It may well mean that come boxing day I won’t feel a sudden desire to rip the thing down and get my lounge back to normal, which I fear may be the case for some who “entered into the spirit of things” (as one person so pointedly put it) quite so soon.

 

 

 

 *via google, so don’t take any of this as fact

 

 

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

Apologies for the awful pun, I just couldn’t resist.

I wanted to share a little something with you. Something which I haven’t really talked much about elsewhere. I have alopecia. Thankfully, it’s not an extreme case, although I have new found admiration for the likes of Gail Porter, who completely lost all her hair. No, mine is a relatively small patch and in fact, if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t suspect a thing.

See…

Now, admittedly you can see a bit of scalp here (if you look hard) but this was taken at the end of the day when my hair starts to get a bit lank. Normally, it’s not visible at all.

I have no idea how long I’ve had it, but maybe around 6 months ago, I bent down to pick something up from the kitchen floor and The Giraffe spotted it. I could have been there for days, weeks or months prior to that. I don’t go to the hairdresser often enough!

You’d think that if a large (and I’ll show you how large in a moment) patch of your hair fell out, you’d notice! Nope. I had absolutely no idea. This was it shortly after it had been discovered (to give some scale, it was about the same size as a 10p piece):

I can’t really describe to you how it felt when The Giraffe pointed it out to me. Repulsed, scared, confused, shocked. You name it, I felt it. A hundred questions jumped into my head, all with no easy answers. I tried to resist the urge to Google, but you know what it’s like, right? I stumbled upon a couple of forums where people with cases of alopecia much worse than mine talked over how they were dealing with it. But mainly what I saw was lack of hope, people who were struggling with it and absolutely no answers to my questions. I’m glad I didn’t go any further into those forums. In all honesty, I don’t think they’re healthy. I restricted myself to mainly the NHS site. I wanted facts and figures, not wails and moans. (I don’t mean that to sound harsh, I have complete sympathy with these people, it’s just not how I wanted to deal with it.)

The first couple of days after discovering it are a bit of a blur. I’m not an overly proud person, nor do I particularly care how other people view me, but the knowledge that I was missing a clump of hair completely threw me. I felt like everyone would see it and they would all talk about me, or worse pity me. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried. I cried a lot. The Giraffe was amazing. She let me take it all in and she was there for me for whatever I needed. I would have been a total mess if it hadn’t been for her.

Obviously, my first port of call on the Monday was the Doctor. By then, I was fairly sure I knew what he was going to say. Nobody knows why it happens, nobody knows if the hair will grown back, nobody knows if it will get worse. It’s a waiting game. He didn’t disappoint me. He did, however, send me for some blood tests to see if there was any medical reason behind it, but he wasn’t very hopeful that it would show anything up.

I think by now, it had all begun to sink in properly. It was only hair, for goodness’ sake! I like to think that after the first couple of days, I was fairly matter-of-fact about it all. You’ll have to ask The Giraffe if this is true or not, though. I had secretly decided that if it looked likely that it was all going to fall out, or if started to go in places that were really noticeable, I was going to shave it all off. I’d even begun wondering what colours of headscarves I’d suit, and I was contemplating how much easier my morning would be without having to wash and dry my hair! (That bit still sounds like a very handy side effect.) Separately, The Giraffe told me that she was going to shave her head if I lost my hair. I think I loved her even more at that moment.

I got a call from the surgery a few days later to ask me to come back in. I had myself convinced that they were going to tell me I had thyroid problems. There’s a family history and I do have a habit of being tired a lot. I knew it wasn’t my iron levels, because I’d given blood (not very successfully, I might add) a few weeks previously and they were fine then. So when the Dr told me I was anaemic, I was more than a little bit surprised. I was also relieved. It was an answer; it was something I could work on, something I could control. He offered me iron tablets but I politely refused. If you’ve had them before, you’ll probably understand why. I decided instead to try and work on my diet. I’m veggie, so iron isn’t the easiest thing to bring in more of. The Giraffe did a huge amount of research for me. She came up with new and strange things that I’d never heard of before that would boost our iron intake, make us less sluggish and, hopefully, restore my flowing locks. I have to say, it didn’t take long before I felt the benefits. More energy, no more 3pm crash, I felt more alive than I had in ages, without ever really knowing that something had been wrong. I had my bloods tested 6 weeks later and my iron was up at much more acceptable levels.

Sadly, it didn’t have the same impact on my alopecia. The patch got bigger as time went on instead of smaller. At its largest, it looked like this (again for scale, this was about the size of a tealight candle):

I hummed and hawed for ages, but eventually decided to go back to the Doctor. I wasn’t really worried about it, it wasn’t affecting my life and I didn’t really want to waste anyone’s time. But I figured that I might as well go and see what they said. I saw a different Doctor who took a bit of a different slant on it. She decided that it wasn’t anything to do with anaemia. She said, from the way it was presenting itself, it was more likely to be auto-immune related. (Basically, my white blood cells were attacking the hair follicles. My body hates itself!) She promptly referred me to dermatology.

My appointment for that came through a couple of weeks ago. The consultant I saw was very surprised at how calm I was about the whole thing. When he went to look at my head, I’m sure he was expecting to see a tiny little patch. When I moved the top layer of my hair, I heard him whisper “Wow!” He agreed with the Dr’s findings and suggested a course of steroids. This could have been done either by a creamy/foam type thing that had to be rubbed on every night for 8 weeks, or I could have a series of ten injections into the patch. I opted for the cream. Who wouldn’t?

So, we’re a couple of weeks into it and I’m beginning to feel some re-growth. I’m quite pleased that I can hardly feel my scalp anymore. It’s a truly bizarre sensation that I got used to in a morbid sort of way.

This was my head a few nights ago

It’s difficult to see as the hair is growing back in white (I’m going grey anyway, just slightly more quickly now…) but there’s something there. I think it looks smaller as well, but I can’t remember what size The Giraffe said it was.

Whether it’s the steroids getting to work already, whether it’s the increased iron in my diet, or whether it’s just that it decided to grow again, I have no idea. I doubt I’ll ever know. I’m just glad it is! It might never all grow back, and I’m unlikely now to ever go for a really short hairstyle, just in case. I just hope that if it ever decided to fall out again, it does it in a similarly well-hidden place.