Heart of the matter

As a part of the process to get to the route cause of my recent high blood pressure, I’ve been having different tests and scans.

Blood tests are always a challenge, especially if I’ve had to fast first. My veins just disappear into my body and I end up looking like a bruised pincushion! Of course I bruise easily just to add insult to injury.

My high blood pressure was first apparent in April, my GP regularly monitors my blood pressure as I take the oral contraceptive pill. I put it down to stress caused by work. It didn’t improve and my readings over the course of 24 hours were sky high and so I started taking medication. My GP also referred me on to a consultant for further investigations.

So far, I’ve had blood tests done. This showed that my levels of renin and aldosterone were high. To investigate further, I had a CT scan with contrast dye of my kidneys. Thankfully, my veins behaved that day and although it took two radiographers to insert the canula, it was successful. Its an odd sensation having the dye injected. First there’s the metallic taste, then, much more bizarrely is the warm sensation and feeling that you have wet yourself. I’ve had a few CT scans in my time but that is still the weirdest feeling!

Today’s test was an ECG. This was to see how my heart is functioning and to check if the high blood pressure has caused the muscle of my heart to thicken. Thankfully my heart is normal size and there is no thickening of the muscle. Its quite something to see and hear your heart beating on the screen. I really realised how much I take it for granted. There it is, beating away countless times over my forty years keeping me alive.

It really does make e appreciate the work it does. I really do need to kickstart my weight loss, I haven’t quite got back on track after my birthday. Time to get back on the low carb lifestyle and exercise – my heart and I deserve it and I want to be as healthy as I can to start a family. No more excuses. ❤️

Maybe baby

Today, I finally sat down and composed my grievance document for work. It has made me feel sick with anxiety and taken me back to a very stressful and unhappy time. I’ve been avoiding it. I’ve attempted it several times and parked it as my anxiety levels went through the roof. In all honesty, I don’t want to go back to that work place. My GP won’t sanction it anyway.

I could ask for a transfer to a different location but if I’m totally honest, all I want to do is stay home and have babies. I’ve worked at my career since I graduated from university and now I want to be a Mum. More specifically a stay at home Mum. I don’t see the point in having children and having a child minder raise them. That’s only my opinion and I respect other people’s choices and views that are different to mine.

I know babies are expensive and being financially secure would be ideal but we don’t live in an ideal world. Fact is, I’m forty. Time is not on my side. My biological click is ticking, it has been ticking for a while and it is getting louder.

I like being at home. I feel safe at home, not that I feel unsafe when I’m out, but my house is my space. I’m in control when I’m home. I’m not really big into nights out – the hangovers are just not worth it. I’m ready to put my needs to one side and prioritise those of my child. It won’t be a huge wrench to put work aside to have a baby. I’m content.

I’ve also finally met a man that I want to have children with. He has a child from a previous relationship so I know already that he’s a good Dad. Its still fairly early days for our relationship and we have talked about having a child together. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned!

There are some health issues to get under control, my blood pressure medication is necessary but not compatible with pregnancy. I’d also like to be off my medication for anxiety and depression too. I’m not quite there yet. They are definitely my security net and I’m not ready to relinquish that right now. I can’t think of a better reason to keep focused on my recovery than having a baby.

Crossroads

I feel like I’m at a real crossroads. I’m imminently about to turn 40. I think I’m still in denial about that….I don’t feel 40. I don’t even know what being 40 should feel like! In my head, I’m still 21. I think that 40 is a really grown up age, I’m nowhere near a grown up….I’m still making it up, hoping I get it right and trying to get my s**t together! Grown ups are together!!

I digress. There are two key things that are bothering me and causing me to feel unsure what direction to go in. The first is my desire to be a mother. I can hear that biological clock of mine ticking and its getting louder and louder all the time. I’m terrified that I’ve left it too late. I’m also very aware that if I do conceive, because of my age the pregnancy will be much higher risk and there are increased risks of birth defects. My relationship with my boyfriend is also fairly new…we’ve been together 7 months. I know with every fibre of my being that he is my soulmate and the man I want to be the father of our child. (Much as I’d love to have 2 children, I won’t push my luck!)

The other is work. Not the whole unresolved issues (see my previous post: Decision deadline approaches…) but what do I want to do for the rest of my working life? I’d love to be able to work from home but I’m not in a place financially to do that right now. Realistically, I need to find a sideline that I can do in my spare time whilst continuing to work full time. I’d love to go down the counselling route, so would need to save to go back into education to achieve that. I’m also fortunate enough to be on a permanent contract, do I really want to give that up?

This is also where the things that are playing on my mind converge. If my dream of having a child is to be realised, I’ll need to do that sooner rather than later. Of course that’s a decision to be made jointly with my boyfriend. There is also a huge financial element to having children, small people need lots of stuff!! All flippancy aside, having children means that they come first and their needs need to be met emotionally, physically and financially. Raising a child needs financial stability….not realistic if I’m planning on going back to education.

So here I am. At a real crossroads with no idea which way to go?

A work in progress

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. Sometimes I speak without thinking. Sometimes what I say comes out wrong. Sometimes I say the wrong thing. Some days I feel like I can take on the world, other days getting out of bed is a challenge. I try my best. I’m still learning.

My mental health is definitely a work in progress. I take it day by day. I’m getting better and am working hard to continue to get well. The stigma of mental health is still something I am battling. I know it is ok to not be ok, but saying that out loud to another person is something I don’t feel able to do. I don’t know why? Maybe it is because it feels like an admission of failure, like accepting that I’m not superwoman. I have long been battling against my superwoman complex….its a work in progress.

I spend my working life problem solving and helping people to solve their problems. Mental health and its impact features in my working life and I regularly encourage people to seek support from their GP’s. I have accepted that I am experiencing anxiety and take medication for this. So why don’t I say it out loud?

I am human. I have limits. I have skills and talents, strengths and weaknesses. I’m open to trying new things. I’m absent-minded and can be easily distracted. I went upstairs to get sellotape, I found it and came back downstairs where I then found myself battling with the ivy that is trying to take over my garden. It took me what felt like minutes to figure out why I was gardening and not wrapping the present I intended doing. Answer, I saw my roses needed deadheading and went from then to the ivy. I’m a daydreamer.

I’m also getting older, I got an appointment through for a cardiac assessment. It was a sobering moment. I know it’s all part of my head to toe health assessment, but it gave me a jolt nevertheless. It reminded me that life is fleeting. I’m human.

I’m perfectly imperfect and that’s okay. I’m me and there’s nobody in the world I’d rather be.

Looking back to move forward

I’ve kept a diary for years, my memory isn’t great so it’s nice to have a record of my life. I also find it therapeutic. Its nice to have somewhere to note my thoughts, fears, worries, hopes and successes.

I know that living in the past is not healthy. I am happy in the present (work situation and anxiety aside.) Today I was looking at my diaries from 2015 and 2016. I was lax at completing my diary daily in 2015 but from my entries such as they were in 2015 and in 2016, it was very clear that I was not happy. I was frustrated, depressed and settling for way less than I should have.

My ex partner struggled with his mental health and this is in no way a dig at him. It is about me reflecting on the impact of his mental health on me and my own mental health. I was full of questions in 2016. Mostly I was questioning whether I was being unreasonable? Was I expecting too much? Were my ex partner’s expectations of me reasonable? We were operating on different hours whilst living in the same house. It was hard. I was working, he wasn’t. Today, I could see from looking back that at that time I was questioning whether to continue in the relationship.

It took me a further 18 months before I ended the relationship. It was the best decision. Yes, it was awful at the time. Ending a relationship is the hardest thing I have ever done. I knew that it would hurt my ex, but I knew I had to do it. I’d had enough. I wasn’t happy, he wasn’t happy and staying together wouldn’t have been right for either of us.

Facing being single in my late 30’s was daunting. I thought that my ex partner was the man that I would marry and would be the father of my children. Instead, I was single and childless.

It’s funny but in 2017, I’d actually thought about us trying for a baby. There was some uncertainty at work so financially it could’ve been a disaster if I got pregnant and even made redundant. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Thankfully, I wasn’t made redundant and it became clear that having a baby together would not have been a good idea.

Fast forward to today. I’m still childless but I’m in a relationship with an amazing man. Now I know why none of my previous relationships worked out. I also know that those relationships taught me what I needed to know about myself, to know what I need from a relationship. I know that I have found my soulmate. We have talked about having a baby and I know he will be a brilliant father to our child, when the time is right.

Friends

On International Friendship Day, this seems very appropriate. I’m lucky that I have amazing friends. I may not have a huge number but those that I have are worth their weight in gold and I wouldn’t swap that for all the money in the world. Life may have taken us in different directions and we may be at different stages in life, but no matter what, we’re friends.

As I approach the milestone that is my 40th birthday, I’m in a reflective mood. As my physical health and mental health haven’t been tip top recently, I guess this is even more the case.

Earlier this year and, as it happens just before everything health wise came to a head, one of my friends and I met up for the first time in far too long. I’m pleased to say that it was like we’d just seen each other days rather than years before.

We caught up on all our news in person, rather than through social media. It may get a bad press as its mainly how young people connect and communicate but its been a life line in helping my friends and I keep in contact when we’re all living our lives in different countries.

It was also the first time I properly opened up about the difficulties that I’ve been experiencing at work. My friend had been through something similar years before and talking to someone who really got where I was coming from and who has known me for a long time was such a tonic. Feeling heard and validated was very powerful. The advice given invaluable.

Having supportive people around me is a great thing. Friends are so important, knowing that I can text or phone no matter how long or short a time since we last talked and get some advice, have a laugh, catch up and just be myself with is awesome.

I consider myself to be very lucky to have such amazing, generous, loyal, honest, funny and wonderful friends. I don’t tell them enough how much they mean to me, so I’m going to change that…starting right now.

Money’s Too Tight To Mention….

So as that magical day at the end of the month approaches (pay day), this month I am not looking forward to it. I look forward to pay day every month. I love seeing my bank balance look healthy and in the black – no matter how briefly – before the bill payments and other debits that I deem necessary reduce my balance to where I am now….on the countdown and in the red. Anxious is an understatement.

This month however is different as I am on sick leave. I’m dreading pay day and my anxiety is having a field day. This month I have no idea how much or little I’ll get paid. I have had my weekly sickness pay from the state which, whilst trying to be thrifty, I confess I have mostly spent. I have advised my employer of these payments and they in turn will deduct them from my salary, thus ensuring my tax contributions are correct. This leaves me wondering and worrying how unhealthy my bank balance will look. It also leaves me kicking myself for having spent so freely and living for the moment as I have. I’m an expert at self- sabotage.

It was not all frivolity though. This past month since my last pay day has seen me visiting consultants for my health and buying additional medications as they have been prescribed to me. Being healthy doesn’t come cheap. It’s far quicker to get an appointment if you go private, so that is what I have done. If you can, you pay your money and are seen quickly. On the public list for the same consultants, I’d be waiting years….

Money management isn’t a new thing for me. I’ve been paid monthly ever since I started working…with the exception of when I was waitressing as a student. I live like a king for the first week, then spend the rest of the month trying to get to pay day again. I’m not totally irresponsible though, I’ve always paid into a private pension and I pay for my health insurance too. It has been a sensible investment and I’d have been lost without it. Somehow, I just can’t make my pay stretch all month and as for saving, forget about it!

Except this month, I don’t want to forget about it. I’m nearly 40. I have financial desires that I am not achieving. Whilst lovely, daydreaming about winning the lottery is not reality. It’s fantasy. I need to get real. I don’t know if I will be able to cover my outgoings this month, that’s before buying food or my medication. I’m nearly 40 and still paying back my student loans from 20 years ago. I have a credit card with a balance and an overdraft. I’m costing myself money!!!

So, it is time to change my attitude to money and curb my reckless spending habits. Time to be more sensible. Once I get through this month, I need to reduce my debts and then start saving. I want to be a homeowner and a mother. I can afford neither right now. It’s time to grow up and be more financially responsible. Time to be sassy and sensible!

My money mantra going forward will now be: Do I need it? Will I use it? Can I afford it? If the answer is no, I don’t buy it.