Labyrinthitis Diary – Day 12 & 13

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Day 12 (Thursday)

I got some good news this morning from work – I do get some SSP so at least we can worry less about the financial side of things.

The dizziness felt a bit better this morning but seemed to worsen towards early afternoon. This was a bit of a blow.

I got a link to a website from my Osteopath today giving me information about a half somersault manoeuvre that you can use to self treat BPPV so I have that a try. It made me more dizzy initially. The Dr on the video said it may take up to 15 minutes to feel better, and that more than one treatment is needed, so I sat nice and still for 15 minutes to see how I felt after that. It had no effect.

Had a visit from a friend today which was lovely – she took me out for a walk with the dog and then we had cake and put the world to rights. Tea and cake – food of the gods.

Cooked dinner and felt a little less dizzy, will try the somersault manoeuvre thing again tomorrow and see how it goes.

Day 13 (Friday)

I’ve noticed that the vertigo seems to be worse on waking and ease off over the course of the day. I googled this to find out if this was actually part of the whole thing only to find that it affects different people in different ways. Some feel worse on waking, some worsen over the day. So I guess this is just how it manifests in me as an individual.

Noticing a lot of ‘cracks’ in my ear, which on Googling, I discovered is my Eustachian tube opening up. Obviously the ear is not blocked then! Last night one was so loud my husband, who was sat on the sofa next to the opposite ear, heard it go!

Managed another walk with the dog, this time husband came with, I noticed that when stationary my distance vision was improved. I could look around the area without getting dizzy although there seemed to be about a 1 second gap where the landscape caught up to where my eyes were which was interesting. I’ve been trying to go a little further each day even if it is only another 100 yards. I do find that little extra is always the hardest work.

Feeling very frustrated at how long it is taking to do anything. Even get my coat off the peg and putting it on is a major expedition. I think this is worse because apart from feeling dizzy I do not actually feel unwell, so when I am sat down I want to get up and do things, then when I do the world starts wobbling around. I just want to get back to work!!

I committed myself to trying the half somersault manoeuvre 3 times today to see if that actually shifts anything. It is definitely worse if I turn to the right and that is the ear that is still ringing.

First half somersault – no effect.

Second half somersault – no effect.

Third half somersault – no effect.

Pretty disheartened by this.

I think overall the ‘on a boat’ feeling is slightly worse today. I had to have a nap this afternoon and I haven’t had to do that for a while. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

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Labyrinthitis Diary – Day 11

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Day 11 (Wednesday)

Insomnia continues – I didn’t get to sleep before 3am. Then of course I woke up in the hope that I’d feel normal and I didn’t.

I’m not having a good day today. I am now off the pills for the second day mainly because I don’t feel sick any more (a real blessing) and also because I keep reading that the pills slow recovery. The dizziness is, I feel, a little worse. I have certainly been swaying a lot more when moving about, and negotiating the stairs has been harder too.

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Today I managed to take the dog for another walk but it remains disorientating and like walking around whilst drunk. I did tidy the lounge but it was a real effort. It took twice as long as usual and when I was finished I ended up crying for about an hour about how useless I was, how I was never going to get better, how nobody gives a shit because I actually look normal, and how much life sucks right now.

I can’t explain how much I hate being this way – not just a self-pitying cry baby – but the whole nonsense of being unable to live my life like a normal person.

I’ve a lot of plans for next year and now I feel none of these are ever going to happen. My poor husband has ended up with this useless lump for a wife and I feel bad for him. If I could drive I’d probably bugger off and put everyone out of their misery until I get better. If I ever do.  Reading some of the stuff online where people are suffering for years is not helping.

One of the reasons I started writing this actually, to try to give people a chance to find something more positive. I have definitely failed at this today.

Labyrinthitis: Diary Day 1-10

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A Brief Diary of My Hideous Encounter with Labyrinthitis

First of all, what is Labyrinthitis?

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labyrinthitis

noun

Medicine
noun: labyrinthitis
  1. inflammation of the labyrinth or inner ear.

More Info on Symptoms, etc, click here

Events Day 1 – 10

The first 3 days I had to write restrospectively for reasons which will become apparent.

Day 1 Sunday

I’d had a little dizzy spell and a painful ear for a couple of days and I woke up with the room spinning like the worst drunken bender one could imagine. The room was literally spinning as if I was on a waltzer at the funfair.

The vomiting started in short order. As I had not eaten since the night before I had nothing to bring up. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination,

Each vomiting session was followed by drenching sweats and shaking all over so hard and not being able to stop.

Husband rang the out of hours Dr who seemed to think that getting me into a car and driving me 15 miles to the clinic was a reasonable proposition despite the fact that I had to be carried to the toilet. Husband tried to get me dressed and failed.

He rang back. Not much help forthcoming. “Someone might ring back later and might visit”.

Eventually he became so concerned by the vomiting, sweating and shaking he called 999.

A paramedic arrived. Very nice lady called Lisa, who I could not look at because if I opened my eyes for more than a couple of seconds I threw up. She did some obs. I tried to take some stemetil but threw it up.

She called it in. She had one drug she could give me by injection but if she did I had to go and sit in A&E for 6 hours and she had no idea how she would even get me to her car.

She contacted a more senior paramedic who just happened to be working a bank shift.

He came, and injected me with stemetil.

This worked….partially….but I was still throwing up every 30 minutes or so.

At this point I had had nothing to drink because I couldn’t keep it down.

The skin on my lips was peeling off.

I was drenched in sweat and still shaking uncontrollably.

Dr did a home visit – on a Sunday – for which I was so grateful – and gave me another injection.

This one was cyclizine which, probably in combination with the stemetil, did work.

I was able to stop being sick, take sips of water, and sleep.

Day 2 Monday

Doctor visited again this morning because I was still too ill to get downstairs. I was able to get to the toilet without being carried though which was a bonus. Husband became the prop instead of the hoist!

Dr left more stemetil pills.

I was able to drink tea, and have some nice dunked rich tea biscuits.

Still unable to get down the stairs though, had to be assisted to the toilet, and slept most of the day.

Day 3 Tuesday

Continuing on with the pills, room swaying gently even when I’m stationery. Still feels like I am walking on a moving ship or I’ve been out drinking all night.

Osteopath came over to try the epply manoevre which is designed to move any loose otoliths around the ear canal and out, thus relieving the dizziness.

This didn’t work.

I was able to get up for longer periods today, and went downstairs by scooting on my bum like a 2 year old.

I also had dinner for the first time tonight.

Day 4 Wednesday

Bad night – been having awful insomnia partly I feel because it is a side effect of one of the drugs and partly if I am honest because I have been petrified of waking up with a major spin going on.

Got up again today, managed to go on the laptop for a while and read.

Still having to lay down a lot.

Day 5 Thursday

Same again really.

Day 6 Friday

More of the same.

Able to spend more time doing simple tasks.

I can at least read and type for short periods of time.

Day 7 Saturday

Still very dizzy and exhausted but I feel a slight improvement today. I have managed a few gentle household tasks (loading the dishwasher and washing machine for example) and I also convinced my husband to walk me around the block this morning as I have been going stir crazy. It was extremely disorientating to be outside I have to say but I felt quite proud that I did it even though I then slept for 2 hours!

I reactivated my ebay shop today too, as I am able to gently access goods for packaging and my husband or daughter can take them to the post.

The only other thing I’ve done is a little reading. I find that my concentration is poor as a result of this and only short bursts are possible which is a little galling as the one time I have hours in which to read I have to stop and start all the time.

Lots of time to think….been considering future plans and hoping I will soon be well enough to implement some of them!

Day 8 Sunday

After the positivity of Saturday I am feeling really depressed about the whole affair to be honest. I’ve been having a couple of bad days dizziness wise, and I feel so tired all the time. I’ve tried to reduce the tablets to one a day which was a failure, now on 2 a day, but again this makes me feel so tired. I wonder if I overdid it, although a 5 minute walk around the block is hardly the London marathon!

Panicking about work – I can’t make it up the road to get there, and if I did I can’t manage stairs, can’t bend, can’t get up and down on the step. As I work in a bookshop that pretty much renders me useless to be honest. They are being supportive, but it’s a small business and they need to cover the shop….so wondering how much longer I am even going to have a job.

Day 9 Monday

Worrying about money – no sick pay where I work. Trying to get my head around claiming sickness benefit is difficult. Dr is calling back about a sick note today in the hope that I can actually get something.

So, I forced myself to shower, and get dressed rather than mooching away the day in Pjs. Having to sit down on the shower floor makes me feel about 90. But then scooting down the stairs on my backside makes me feel about 3 so I guess it balances itself out. I’ve even pushed the boat out and got myself dressed so I at least look like a normal person and my poor husband doesn’t have to look at me in Pjs 100% of the time!! He’ll be ridiculously pleased about it when he gets in, which is a bit sad really.

Been online – and all I read is how people are still suffering a year down the line and I wonder if this is forever….

Later  having wallowed in self pity a bit I plucked up all my courage, and a walking stick, and walked the dog around the block. 10 Minute walk took 20 minutes. It was unnerving but I did it!! I felt rather proud of myself.

Doctor left me a sick note and instructions to keep resting.

Mother-in-Law had a flood so I had to cook dinner whilst husband sorted that out.  Interesting and rather spinny time in the kitchen resulted in a rather good vegetarian cottage pie.

Then I konked out on the sofa for 2 hours.  Everything seems to exhaust me very quickly.

I feel a bit more positive, and somewhat proud of myself.

I am also back down to one tablet a day.  Go me!

Day 10 (Tuesday)

I’ve managed to do a little gentle work on the computer today and package some items up for shipping. I am also up and dressed again today and doing some laundry.

The dizziness remains, and is worse on rising, diminishing the more I move around during the day.  Not sure if I am getting better or just getting used to it.  That said, I have gone a full day with no tablets and seem none the worse for it.

Vision is still a bit below par, and the room still moves slightly even when I’m stationary but I find focussing on something close by helps with this feeling.

The ringing in my right ear is a lot worse today though – it sounds like a mosquito on speed – and I also have a rather delightful crop of mouth ulcers to be going on with.

I am starting to feel a little like I am getting over a horrid flu – that weak and lightheaded feeling one gets on the outward curve.

I’ve also got to that stage where I am well enough to feel bored.  I never feel bored because I am always doing something.   I do not like this ‘bored’ thing at all.

Plan is still to take each day as it comes. It remains frustrating as hell.

Why Brits Should Complain More Often

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Brits have got a reputation (rightly or wrongly) for being polite, and also habitually apologising for things that are no fault of our own.  We are also, in my opinion, notoriously bad at complaining.  Yes, we can MOAN really well – about the weather, politicians…well, most things, really….BUT when it comes to assertively making a legitimate complaint about faulty goods, services, bad service, or bad food we would rather politely skulk off to moan about it later to whomever will listen and, hopefully, join in with some gratuitous moaning of their own.

So are we actually doing ourselves any favours at all by staying silent?   I would argue that we are not and that we, as a nation, should learn to complain in an assertive and non-aggressive manner and we should do it more often.  Why?

  1.  Raise your Expectations One of the things I hear most often is how much better customer service is in other countries.  It is one of the major areas of praise you will hear from the mouths of British travellers.  The reason our customer service is so bad compared to other countries?  Oh, we say it is because people here just ‘can’t be bothered’ when in reality people in other countries have a higher expectation of good service and when they don’t get it what do they do?  That’s right.  They complain.
  2. Raise Your Standards.  If you go to a restaurant expecting a good meal and you don’t get one how is keeping silent going to actually help?  On the one hand you risk ‘spoiling the evening’ but on the other the evening is already spoiled by the fact that you will have eaten and had to pay for a bad meal.  Most people baulk at the idea of sending a meal back, and I have forced down food in the past that was essentially inedible.  Now I send it back.  This not only gives you the opportunity of ordering something else, or if they get really stroppy, moving on to another venue, but it also gives important feedback to the restaurant.  They don’t want to deal with complaints, loss of custom and revenue, so they will have to up their game.
  3. Don’t Accept Shoddy Goods.  Key to this is learning your consumer rights.  Make sure you know the law because most people don’t and they believe anything a seller tells them.  If they sold it to you, THEY have to sort it.  They have to return it to the manufacturer and not you.  If it is not fit for purpose they have to offer a refund.  You are not obligated to accept a credit note or a replacement and are free to take your money and shop elsewhere.  On the other hand, if you just bought the wrong thing by mistake then that is pretty much tough luck unless the seller is feeling happily disposed.  Know where you stand and be prepared to quote the relevant law.
  4. Only pay for quality foodstuffs  If you get a bad egg in a box, take the box back.  This will not only get you a refund, but also in my experience a valuable money off voucher for more food.  It also means that the store can look into it.  Maybe a whole batch of bad eggs slipped through but how will they know if no one complains?  Luckily my husband is an expert complainer, he returns anything he needs to, and has recently been thanked by a store by highlighting a flaw in their processes which caused a whole batch of foodstuffs to be potentially ruined.

Complaining is a two way street. Done properly,without aggression and in the full knowledge that ‘these things do happen’ with a non-blaming approach it is beneficial for both the organisation and you the consumer. You get what you pay for, you enjoy what you have spent your hard-earned cash on, and you don’t feel constantly resentful of bad service or bad quality products.  The company has a chance to make things right, leave the customer with a good feeling, and sort out potential issues and prevent it happening again.  They will also work hard on their customer service which will benefit all of us.

How It Is and Where I’m At

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Image Credit http://stellarrainbows.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/raven/

This is another in my series of blogs about the grief process and how it changes over time, the aim of which is to help others in the same situation.  I am now 17 months post the death of my brother and almost 12 since the death of my father.  So scroll on by if this is not your bag.

Obviously, things have moved on and the grief is not as raw as it was at the beginning.

How It is:

I was a lot closer to my brother than to my father (nothing against my dad, but that’s how it is/was) so I still feel his loss  acutely on some days.  I still think of him every single day, and I still do things to memorialise him.  For example, I am just about to publish another of his books, which should be out by Yule/Christmas time.  Small things tend to hurt the most now like a small child introducing me proudly to “her big brother”, and thinking “I don’t have one any more”. Sounds pathetic, but that is how it is. And that is the reality of how I feel.

I honestly don’t think there will be a day go by where I do not think of him in one way, shape or form.  Deep down I don’t believe I want that day to come either.   And because I don’t want it, it won’t.

I can say that it changes over time and the pain becomes less ‘sharp’, so if you are reading this in the early stages, things will change and get easier.

Where I’m At

Emotionally, I am not too bad in terms of the crying aspect of grief.  I still suffer from bouts of depression, particularly if I dwell on the fact that apart from my sister and myself none of my birth family are alive any more.  No matter how many other people you have in your life, that is still a feeling that makes you feel somewhat vulnerable.

Probate is still ongoing, I am still having major stress from idiot financial companies who cannot seem to provide one figure to a solicitor in time for a completion date on my brother’s flat.  This is now entering it’s 13th month, and the last chat with my solicitor involved the possibility of removing the flat from sale and returning it for repossession.  This is a major cause of increased stress and anxiety.  Plus I don’t see it ending anytime soon.

And finally

A word on the importance of other people’s attitude towards an individual suffering from grief:

There is no set end time to grief.  Despite appearing to have gone back to normal, getting on with things, and so on, my worst issue at present is anxiety.  I have days where I feel so anxious I don’t want to go outside.  Driving can be a complete nightmare for me.  I cannot be around anyone who is likely to rain on my parade, because any form of disapproval or negativity sends me into the beginnings of panic.  Even snide remarks on Facebook can on my bad days practically reduce me to tears.  This has been going on for at least 9 months. I feel bad because I am unable to be as supportive of others as I would like to be and I know that often they don’t understand that this is not unwillingness, I just don’t have the reserves left in me to take on board other people’s issues.  I am on medication which I don’t want to take because it’s addictive so I keep it for emergencies and rely on herbal remedies instead.

Telling people about this produces 2 responses in the main: supportive from most because I hide it well and mostly they are surprised to hear it, but from the minority the (spoken or unspoken) accusations of being an attention seeker.  Believe me, if I could click my fingers and have this anxiety leave right now I’d do it.  I’d rather seek attention for doing good things!

I’ve received a lot of support from most people, but the minority continue to make life difficult either by passive aggressive remarks, thinly veiled accusations of profiteering from my brother’s death (God I wish!  With an estate with a deficit of tens of thousands I don’t think I am going to be moving to the Bahamas any time soon!), and other cruel and unnecessary things that happen from time to time.

I guess what I am trying to get across here is that if you are suffering from grief be easy on yourself, healing takes a lot more time than either yourself or others believe, and if you are around someone who has lost a loved one remember that  often people still need your support months or years after the event, but they just don’t tell you.

Advice for Grudge Holders

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I’ve always wondered why people hold long term grudges but never seem to either be able to let it go, act on it and forget it, or go for the long haul without getting burnt up by it.  Maybe I am genetically fortunate in that my Italian genes not only allow me to hold on to grudges for decades, but enable me to do so without getting all het up over it, or ending up with an ulcer, and yet be able to take spectacular revenge completely undetected much much later.  At which point I smile smugly into a large glass of red and strike their name from my Game of Thrones style vengeance list.

Acting immediately, or even within a few months of the offence is just a complete no-no.  Recognise that if you do not only will everyone know it was you, but the person that you considered gave offence will look like a victim.  They get to smell of roses….you like the proverbial.

Be aware that unless you are extremely intelligent, your attempts to conceal the fact that you have just taken what looks to everyone else like a pathetic form of revenge, will just make you look mentally unstable.

If you can’t help yourself, at least try to avoid the  sustained revenge campaign.  No matter how convoluted you think it appears to other people, they will know, and you will look even more mentally ill than you are no doubt making yourself by constantly thinking up new ‘devious’ ways of tormenting your victim.

My top tips:

Store the offence in your back vault somewhere and wait……

….then wait some more…….

….wait…..wait….wait….a long,long, looooooooong time!  We are talking potential decades here.

At the point when everyone has forgotten everything ever.  Then strike!  Strike once, strike hard, strike big and get out the popcorn.

Revenge really is a dish best eaten cold.  If you haven’t got that in you…just let it go.

 

Driving Phobia Update

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Driving

Motorway driving – back in the day

About a month ago I wrote a blog post about my driving phobia so thought I would give you an update.  I have had to be fairly strict with myself and make myself drive if not daily, then at least every other day and even if it is only a short distance.  So, has this helped?

Yes!  I set up a ‘fear diary’ in which I noted my anticipated fear of the drive, and the actual fear, and also ticked off each road driven.  I still feel nervous about getting into the car, but I tend to go the quickest way now rather than go the long way around to avoid certain sections of road.  The sections of road that were an issue are still problematic, but it is becoming less over time.  I have still not driven on very large A roads, but I have negotiated the local bypass a few times without too much of an issue.  Being able to look back over a paper record of all the roads I have driven on, and how little fear I actually experienced at the time has given a much needed sense of perspective, and of achievement in seeing how far I have come on in a short space of time.

Essentials

Things that I must have in the car in order to have a good drive:

Quiet and calm. No sudden movements or noises from passengers and no constant extraneous chit chat.  This tends to jangle my nerves and make me more anxious.  It also makes me grumpy and I will have a go at passengers who piss me off whilst driving, because on one occasion I did actually have to pull over and it set me back in my progress.  I often feel calmer when driving alone.  Conversely, I find playing relaxing music can help.

A sense of purpose to the journey.  If I have somewhere to go, something to do, it helps motivate me to work through any feelings of anxiety during the drive.  I can focus on the outcome.  Also once back home the drive seems ‘worth it’ because it enabled a good time to be had, or a task to be completed.

Symptom easing stuff. The most unpleasant symptom I get whilst driving is an extremely dry mouth and the feeling of being unable to swallow.  Having a mint, or some water in the car is a must have item.  It removes the symptom almost immediately.  Relaxing for a few moments before starting the drive, and focusing on some deep breathing also helps prevent the onset of fear like feelings.

Drop Your Shoulders This helps promote the overall feeling of being relaxed. To check to see if your shoulders are as relaxed as you think they are, hunch them up, hold for about 5 seconds and then relax. This is what your shoulders should feel like when driving, they should not be up around your ear.

Posture and technique.  I picked this up from a book by a police driving instructor who now specialises in teaching nervous drivers.  Ensuring that your hands are on the 10 to 2 position on the wheel not only gives you more control, it also makes you feel like you are in full control.  Keep your arms relaxed and slightly bent at the elbow.  Adjust your chair so you are not perched forward in a tensed position.  It sounds basic, but a lot of us don’t do this after we have been driving for a while and especially when we are nervous.  It does help.

Appreciate the car.  Think about how lucky you are to own this amazing piece of kit, which will take you all over the place quickly and in comfort.  Think about all the safety developments that have been made in motor vehicles, and how much safer you are inside the car than trying to cross a road or ride a bicycle!

Ignore Unsympathetic Haters and Inconsiderate Road Users.  Remember you have as much right to be on the road as anyone else.  It is also your responsibility to drive according to your own level of skill and confidence.  Don’t let arseholes who want to zoom along at top speed bully you into going faster if you do not feel confident to do so.  If someone is tailgating you, slow down and let them pass, or pull over and just focus on what a sad little muppett they are.  You won’t see them again after the 5 seconds it takes them to pass you!   Don’t let anyone tell you that you are just being stupid or pathetic.  Yes, these are just feelings, but they are still real!  The symptoms are unpleasant, and the fact that you have taken steps to try to overcome this should be applauded and respected and not ridiculed.  It says a lot more about them than about you.

Don’t Get Angry.  People who inflict their road rage on others are as likely to suffer from a phobia as their victims are. It all adds to the overall tension on the road, and in your body when you drive.

Future Plans

As I become more confident I shall be going not only further afield (which I have started doing already) but also onto larger roads.  I intend to plan the trips so I know exactly where and when I am going onto the road and coming off the road.  This way I believe I will feel more in control, and be able to extend the journey time on these roads.  After this I may consider a motorway driving course.

Thanks for reading, and if you are suffering from fear whilst driving, I hope these small blogs help if only a little.

 

Glastonbury Festival 2014

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Every year I donate my time to the Children’s World Charity which was founded in 1981 by Arabella Churchill in order to  provide educational, creative and social benefits for all children with particular reference to children with special needs.  Essentially my job involves issuing laminated passes to the backstage and camping areas for crew, stewards, and performers in the Theatre and Circus field.  This means that I get to attend the festival for free, get fed, and have a secure area in which to camp whilst the charity benefits from not having to pay huge amounts in labour fees and importing lots of people who love spending money in the cafe and bar.  Each year when I come back I like to make a note of the best, and worst, bits as an aide memoir in times to come.

The Good

Meeting up again with all the people I only ever see at Pilton – it is like being part of an enormous second (slightly dysfunctional) family of strange and wonderful people.

Meeting new folks this year, and having new people on the team.

The composting loos – toilets become a major part of life when you are onsite at a large festival for 10 days.  The composting ones just don’t smell as bad as portaloos and they are much more green.

Delicious new foodstuffs to try, and for the first time in 6 festivals I visited the Hare Krishna tent, listened to a very long rendition of hare krishna and ate a free lunch of veggie curry, poppadum and rice.  Most delicious.

Best Acts I saw this year:  Briefs!   4 Poofs and a Piano.  And Dolly Parton.  Plus lots of smaller bands, circus acts and so on.

Showers – clean and hot!! What more can one ask for!

The Green Room Bar – put simply the best backstage bar in the land.  Much sought after visitors wristbands are issued to allow people to come backstage and partake of the beverages, bands and random acts of weirdness that prevail here.  I spend a lot of my time here when I am not working 😉

On site vehicle parking.  For which I am endlessly grateful.  I am not sure my back can cope with struggling to and from the car park with tons of gear any more.  Driving on and off site is a real luxury for us middle aged birds.  The drive off was long, hot and hellish, mainly due to a vehicle breakdown.  But it seems better organised each year.

The Bad

People’s toileting routines.  Men should sit if they are too drunk to walk in a straight line to the loo.  Obvious reason here, not pleasant when you have to practically sanitise the whole area before you sit down for a wee.  And people knocking the doors off so basically women are unable to use them.  Not cool.  Also not all of them had roofs, not so fab in the rain.  That said, we did find a couple of secretly stashed crew loos complete with their roof…and potential crisis was averted!

Exhaustion!  By the time the festy kicks off I have had enough of going outside the compound.  Too tired.  Place too crowded.  The best bit is watching the festival build up around you and wandering the near empty site.  After that, I pop out to see a few select acts, get some of the yummy food on offer,  and prop up the backstage bar.

The Ugly

There was absolutely nothing awful about the festival experience this year. The weather was not a real problem, mud was manageable and although we had a couple of really torrential downpours was nowhere near as bad as I have seen it in previous years.

Receiving hate mail about a facebook page that is not even my page.  Eventually I blocked offenders and logged off on the phone.  Sadly this mean I did not take as many pics as usual but it did mean that my daughter could use the phone to keep in touch with friends online and I got to enjoy my one holiday of the year without constantly putting up with other peoples crap!

 

On balance….bloody marvelous time was had.  Bring it on next year 🙂

 

 

I have a Driving Phobia!

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I have a Driving Phobia…

This is a new thing.  I have been driving since I was 17 and had passed my test before I turned 18, so I have in actual fact been a fairly competent driver for around 33 years. I also have a motorcycle license which I passed at age 17 so I am not a stranger to the roads. I am now working on overcoming this because I actually used to like to drive, and could drive anywhere and anything.  I decided to write a blog documenting my progress, for myself and also for other people who may be experiencing a similar situation.  Talking to people recently has made me realise how common a level of fear is for people who drive so I am not alone in this situation.

Why?

The answer is I don’t really know.  I have had a couple of very uncomfortable experiences whilst driving on busy roads, particularly unfamiliar roads, tunnels and bridges.  I had a nasty experience on a motorway once.  My VW camper caught fire under my seat whilst I was driving it.  But at the time I moved past these things and just carried on.  I have had about 18 months of acute stress:  2 deaths, got married, moved house on top of the usual stuff we all have to deal with from time to time like financial issues and so on.  Having done a lot of reading around the subject, I feel that my heightened anxiety with driving may well be a response to the general anxiety in other areas of life, coupled with a bit of depression related anxiety (which I am being treated for).  All of the stuff I have read seems to agree on 2 things:  1.  I should not avoid driving and 2. The cause is not as important as how you deal with the actual problem.

The Plan

My avoidance of motorways has just made matters worse and left me in a position where I am now unable to drive on certain busy A roads, notably the A303 which I now also avoid.  The only upshot of avoiding the A303 has been that the fear has transferred onto other busy roads including the Glastonbury bypass which I was traveling on daily until recently.  Even a journey along the Street Road this morning produced feelings of nervousness and fear on a journey which I have done many times without even thinking about it.  This is not good, and cannot be allowed to continue.  Not only is it inhibiting me in terms of leisure activities it is also severely hampering my employment prospects anywhere that is not within walking distance of my house!!

I have been reading a book which is all about basic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and I plan to gradually move towards more adventurous driving. This involves keeping a record of your anticipated and actual fear levels, a log of roads and other bits and pieces you don’t like and ticking each time you do it.  Eventually what you already know rationally becomes part of your subconscious and you stop feeling the physical symptom of fear each time you drive.

This morning I drove on 2 roads I don’t enjoy.  My anticipated fear of both of these were 6/10.  My experienced fear was 4/10 so objectively and subjectively neither were as bad as I had anticipated. On one road I had an anticipated fear of 2/10 and the actual score was zero.  I also have 3 ticks in my road log proving that I can overcome this!

If you are experiencing similar things I’d love to hear from you.