Sunday, 27 November 2011

Family, decorating and, yes again, stress...

Well, it's Sunday afternoon and for the first time since I wrote my last blog I can relax a little.

The last week has been very busy still at work, and there has been no respite at home either.  Work is going to remain busy and stressful for the coming weeks.  It's the same every year and I don't see why this year should be any different. Hopefully by the time that I start working as Stacy the stress is going to be somewhat diminished.

At home...  Well my brother arrived last Sunday to do some DIY for me (it's his job and I hate it so I thought it was easier to pay him than do it myself - thanks bro!) so we had to get the house ready for a guest, and I had to get into a place in my hear to share a house with him for a week. He's a great guy, but lives life like Frank Sinatra's song - My Way.  Not being able to have discussions - he is right in everything and knows best about everything too (including telling me how things I studied work - because he has seen movies that told him; grr!!!) It can get a little tiring sometimes.

So whilst I have been at work this week he has been swapping radiators, removing radiators and plastering the walls in our hall, landing and on the stairways.  And he even had time and material to do the bathroom ceiling for me!

Seeing as it was going to be the last time he saw his brother I was trying to figure out when to introduce Stacy to him, and stressed a little - he doesn't have the worlds greatest gift for tact so there would be no sugar coating his thoughts.

Events actually conspired against me for the week - Sunday was his first day so I thought as I am not full time yet there I would wait until he was settled.  Monday I got home and gave him a hand finishing the days work and preparing for the next.  Tuesday we were visiting my sister in law and her family so no go.  Wednesday and Thursday were also spent helping with some of the work.  On Friday I had therapy, my last session before going full time at work, so there was no choice there.  He was going to meet me.

After therapy we went shopping for Sinterklass gifts and the weekly shop and then back home.


As with telling him in the first place, a complete non event.  I've had a few different reactions but never complete and total dis interest.  And I don't mean that in the way that it sounds!  He just opened the door (he had my keys for the week) and said 'howdo'. That's it.

Yesterday he went to Amsterdam for the day, I dropped him off at the train station as him (running errands that I still need to be him for) and picked him up in the evening again.  As Stacy.  And again just thanks for picking him up and started chatting.  On the trip home I decided to bring it up, just to see if there was any reaction.  I asked him if he thought he would cope in the January with calling me Stace or sis.  'I don't know, I'd had 35 years of calling you bro - I'm a bit stuck in my ways, that's why I can't stop smoking.'  And that was it the subject was gone.  And we just hada normal evening watching Strictly (I still can't believe that he is a fan!) and then the went to bed before setting off home today.

One bit of stress gone I suppose :)

Oh...  And news!

I ordered my deed poll this week!  An amazing simple (so far) process!  Let's see when it comes through...

More annoying and difficult will be my passport...  It used to be that you could take a morning off of work, go to the consulate in Amsterdam and get a new passport.  But...  When then introduced the new passports a couple of years ago they stopped doing this 'to improve the service the office can give to it's customers' and I now have to post my passport to Paris.  Who will check if it meets their requirements for requesting a new passport.  If they agree it gets posted to the UK.  Who see if it meets their requirements for issuing a passport (yes, they can be different requirements!) who print it and then post it direct (thankfully) to me. I was hoping to come back to Leicester in the new year and take a trip to Peterborough for the one day service, but apparently I don't fulfill the requirements for that and it's one week minimum.  As I could not travel home again with no passport that means a two week trip and I just don't want to use the vacation time for it.  I just hope that posting it does not cause any problems...  I have to get the application form filled in this week (assuming my Windows machine will read the PDF they have, my Apple doesn't...)

Phew, more stress in the coming weeks then!  And a travel ban until they return it to too me!  Why don't the UK sign the Schengen agreement so I can travel without it!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Getting fit again!

I'll start with an apology for the length of the post - after not having a muse since my last post I started this morning and it all seemed to come out!

This week I am back on medication, at the start of the summer I began taking nose spray for hay fever. what I  assumed was a constant cold my doctor saw it for what it was and with the medication I was fine for the rest of the summer.

No sniffles, no aches and no thick head.  Wonderful!

When I got back from the UK I noticed that I was starting running low on the spray, but assumed that as summer and the associated pollen we over for another year I could leave it for a while.  I don't like the thought of taking medication 365 days a year. Then at the start of spring next year I could get my repeat prescription and start again.

And then I had cold after cold, thick heads and lots of aches and pains; just as I had at the start of the year.

This has impacted my life in a few ways, and none of them are good!  I am useless at keeping up the will power needed to work out when I have a bad head.  I get home from work and just want to collapse on the sofa.  Or at the weekend I just can't seem to get it together enough to actually get my running gear on and leave the house.  OK, there is also the question of dog owners at the moment - people who take large dogs out, without leads and fail to keep them under control.  Over the last few weeks I when I have had the will power to go running I have had problems with dogs and their owners at least once on each run.  Note to the dog owners: it's not funny, it's annoying as hell and terrifies the people on the receiving end.  When I had two Alsatians baring their teeth and chasing me whilst the ineffectual owner gently said 'come here, come here' and not moving from his spot 200m away my heart rate went from 145 to 190 from the stress.  Anyway I am off on a tangent again...

Another problem is that colds pour stress onto stress, and that is something I am struggling to contain at the moment.  This time of year is always stressful in the office, and whilst this year seems to be much better than previous years, it's still bad enough that I had an apology from my boss on Friday.  You see it's his first year, and in August I was making the planning and making sure that I had people available for my project now.  Everyone was adamant that we would have been ready and I was being over the top by making sure the people were still available.  Well...  We still have weeks of work for developers, there are times when being able to say 'I told you so' doesn't feel great.  But my boss spoke to me on Friday to apologise for not believing me when I was making the planning (though he didn't block my planning, he thought it was not going to be needed).  He can't believe that we are still working on it, but I get the feeling that next year the planning may just be a little better - he's the first one to actually admit that we need these people.

And then of course there is preparing for the fact that in 3 weeks I'll be working as Stacy.  Everything is ready.  I thought.  Hahahahaha.  Last week I was working out the planning for that and since then the stress has been that high that my IBS has had me in agony and yesterday I simply collapsed from exhaustion.  Literally.  A migraine that tablets couldn't touch, short term memory loss (Mrs Stace asked me for a drink and had to tell me three times in less than a minute what she wanted as it just would not stick in my head) and lots of borderline sleep through the day. 

Having the feeling of a constant cold was not helping matters at all!

So on Wednesday I arranged the repeat prescription, and on Thursday picked it up.  That is only three days ago, and the medication takes up to two weeks to really get to work, but I have noticed an improvement already.  The sniffles have gone, as have the thick heads.  The aches?  Well, they are still there, but not from a cold any more!

No, they come from the fact that over the last week I have been trying to get fit again.  Not running has left me a smidgen over what I would like to be size wise.  Nothing serious, and to be honest in clothes you can't even see it.  But I know it's there.  And I have terrible self body image at the best of times; knowing that I am stating to gain weight is just something that I see as the thing end of the wedge!  Something has to be done!

Running is not on the cards for me at the moment, the weather is to cold at the weekends and at night it's too dark.  My favourite place to run is the man made lake near where I live (where my sunset summer pictures in other posts are taken).  It's tranquil, pretty and a set distance - 1 lap is exactly 3km.  Unfortunately it's also unlit and by the time I get home from work it's pitch black - and when there is dog muck, possible glass from teenagers and possibly people lurking in the bushes around the lake (I don't know if the last one is true, but it's not something I like) I try not to do it in the dark.  Of course in the dark you also can't see the dogs and their owners!  So that's a no-no then :)

And so I am being a geek again :)  I pre-ordered 'Your Shape 2012' for the Kinect and it arrived on Monday, and has been used since.  I am trying to do three or four sessions a week, and I am trying to do 45 minute workouts at a high enough heart rate to get 400+ calories burnt per session.

It has different levels of work out for those just starting, those who have some experience and those who are really fit and annoying (I hope to join that group by the end of the winter ;p).

I started with the lowest levels - gentle movements and routines that lasted 5 minutes or so.  It is a good way to start, and a good way to get into the different moves that you have to do.  And the fact that you see yourself on the screen means that you can see when you are doing it wrong; OK a mirror would work just as well, but then you wouldn't be able to see the instructor!  The space you need is quite large - we only just have enough room in our house for it; and if we were in the UK with the tendency to have separate rooms rather than open plan living I don't think there would be enough space without shifting all the furniture to one side!

But, as I still have a baseline fitness the starter ones were really not for me.  I could not get my heart rate up enough, and I wasn't feeling like I had had a work out the end of them.

I tried the boot camp routine that it has (stupid of me, it's a level three routine even on the easiest level) and about collapsed at the end of the 6 minutes.  On the other hand my heart rate was definitely up!

So I settled for the level 2 routines.  I am concentrating on cardio at the moment as all I really want to do is burn calories and get my fitness level up. These take between 12 and 20 minutes per routine so I can do three different workouts and do my whole body.  Legs, arms and torso in separate workouts.  As this is something that I can't do with running I am actually enjoying it a lot!  I think though that I will still try to do one lap of the lake once a week for the fresh air!

Right then, I guess it's time to finish preparing the house for my brothers arrival this afternoon.  I was doing it yesterday but had to give up! It's been a while since I have seen him, and he is coming to change some radiators for us and plaster a ceiling and some walls.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


There have been many posts this week for remembrance sunday and the poppy.

I have mixed thoughts on the subject.  I always wore a poppy in the UK, and I always stopped the minutes silence at 11am.

But...  My granddad was in WW2 - he lied about his age to get into service and served in the Royal Marines.  It still makes me laugh when I say that too - it was always the Royal Marines - woe behold you should that word be forgotten!  He was extremely proud of the Corps.

And yet...  He would never talk about the war, except for the funny anecdotes - the one that I remember was when he was in a hut in the forest somewhere in Asia with a group of Royal Marines and a local guide.  They saw a spider on the wall, and they all got a bit worried :)  The local guide calmly walked over and pinned the spider to the wall with a large knife, turned to the commandos and said, 'Don't worry about those spiders, they won't hurt you.  It's the ones you can't see that'll kill you.'  I always liked the imagery of the commandos being scared of the spider and the guide being the one to calmly deal with the situation.

He never said anything about what he did during the war.  Refused to talk about any of the bad things that he had seen (or the bad things that he did).  Whenever there was a program where someone was glorifying war he always commented, almost always the same sentence, 'Anyone who says these things never saw what goes on in war.'  He hated it, and as proud as he was of serving in the Royal Marines I think that he always regretted his decision to lie about his age.  He was vehemently against war, and anything that tried to glorify it.

He also never liked remembrance day.  I asked his about it once, he simply said it reminds him too much of what he saw, and those he will never see again.  It was quite sad, and not something that I brought up again.

I can wear the poppy to support the British Legion working with ex-service men and women, but what about the other reasons.  I am wearing it to bring remembrance to something that the only person I knew who served didn't want to remember.  Since the day he spoke to me about why he didn't take part in Remembrance Sunday it has made it difficult for me to not to think of it.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Tough week

This last week has left me absolutely shattered!  Stress both inside and outside of work has really taken it's toll, which has either left me open for illness or the illness that I had took advantage of my stress and really knocked me for six!

It started last weekend, when the cold came back and really attacked me - it really floored me over the whole weekend.  On monday morning I had an appointment with a mouth hygienist and I got halfway there before I realised that I would not be driving from the appointment to work as I had planned.  I didn't feel safe and thought that driving another 50KM in rush hour, motorway traffic was a bad idea.  There are times when it is a really bad idea to be ill - and this week was one of them!

Our biggest project of the year was going live on Thursday and Monday was the day when we decided if we could make the live date.  Thankfully I could just about think so I simply worked from home as best as I could.  Many emails and phone calls later and we were almost ready.

Tuesday was always going to be stress full.  Two hospital appointments in one day was never going to be nice, and as I had not been in the office on Monday I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to change my plans of working from home before the appointments and go in for a couple of hours.  Unfortunately that added about 100km to my driving for the day!

A drive there, a few fraught meetings, but everything was back on track.  Phew!

I left for the appointments, got there with 10 mins spare for the first one.  All went well until the nurse said that I needed a blood test.  Now I don't do needles very well at all (bodes well for when I start on hormones and need a baseline doesn't it?) so that sent my anxiety sky high!

Blood test complete (and almost painless as normal - why it bothers me I don't know!) it was time to get to the second hospital.  A drive across Amsterdam later and I was there.  This appointment was for a logopedist to baseline my vocal cords and arrange a speech therapist.  In theory this should have been the simplest part of the day - but in order to baseline they use a camera on a stick to video your vocal cords.  They tried a few times but my gag reflex made it imposible for them.  They tried one last time, with me more upright, and trying my hardest to relax and to begin with I thought that it was going OK.  It was not comfortable but I was not chocking. Then chocking stopped being the problem and I projectile vomited over myself, the chair and the doctor.  Great.  At that point they gave up and said that my voice was fine, and at a good baseline level for therapy and that they could go ahead without the camera.

So I left, still covered in vomit as they only had dry clothes to clean myself up with and went home to do some more work on the release - when all I wanted to do was collapse on the sofa!

Wednesday, Thursday were fairly uneventful - even though though the stress of the release remained.

Friday...  A day of opposites for me.  It was Mrs Stace's birthday so I had taken the day off of work anyway.  In the morning I was expecting confirmation of the disgnosis so I was stressed out.  And then...  Nothing.  I called the clinic and they could not find the status of my file.  I was supposed to get a call back in the afternoon, but it never happened. Such an anti-climax to the day :(

The rest of the day however went great - my in laws came over (my sister-in-law shares a birthday with her sister - just a couple of years older) and we had a great time.  Good food, some great New York Cheesecake and an amount of alcohol later we had a good evening.

This weekend?  Well the cold didn't attack again, so I have started running for the first time in weeks.  Lets hope it stays that way for the next week!