I have been a bad blogger again , between one thing and another I needed to take a little bit of break.
This post is going to be on a completely different topic from what I usually write on. Myself and Mr. Stitch were lucky enough to be able to have a small break to London at the start of August. We usually try to get over once a year (with the exception of last year due to the Olympics). This post is a brief history of my ongoing flings with this city.
This is a city that I have been having a life long love affair with. It started when I was eight years old. Small , weedy and toothy. My grandmother’s sister lives there and we decided to go and stay for a few days. We didn’t fly. My great-aunt came to Dublin and when she went back we simply went with her. We took the ferry to Holyhead and we drove up to London. I remember sitting in the back of my car listening to taps on my maroon Walkman (No Doubt). I remember driving up through Wales. I also remember my first view of London itself. I was in awe.
The trip was great and hilarious in equal parts. My grandmother has always been a bit of a co-conspirator with me , particularly when I was little. We visited the natural history museum , the British museum, I played in the parks. At the time I had a very bad “Puppy in my Pocket” habit, which was sated by a nearby Toys R’us (I had been saving all my pocket-money for weeks to be able to get some of the limited edition ones). Seriously , somewhere in the attic of this house there are hundreds of these little puppies lurking with intent.
We then toddled back home to Dublin. The boat back was interesting. It was the last ferry to get across for several days due to rough seas. My gran and myself were some of the few who weren’t sea-sick on that voyage. To be fair it was a very rocky crossing. It was a bit dire in parts. The only other time I’ve ever seen so much vomit has been at a variety of music festivals.
I didn’t go back until my late teens. Couldn’t afford too. When I did go back it was my first time abroad without adult supervision. I went back with a friend for a few days. She had made plans that had fallen through at the last second so I stepped in and booked everything last-minute.
We visited the Tate modern , wandered around the Globe. It was the first time that I saw a play there. It was Coriolanus. I have been back to see many more since. We got hit on by a stag party who wanted to bring us to a strip club. (No , we didn’t go , despite the irresistible offer of several pieces of fried chicken…so tempting :P. Yeah no , it really wasn’t tempting, at all)
We found other friends who were also over. I ended up in a rock nightclub dressed a bit like Tinkerbell. The bouncer hadn’t wanted to let me in for fear I would be eaten alive, little did he know that I was right at home. There was no hassle , a few odd looks but that could have been how I was dancing to the smashing pumpkins. It was a great trip. I have really fond memories from it.
All trips after this have been with Mr. Stitch. We have spent several short breaks there. If it can be done we have probably tried. I’ve chickened out of the London Dungeon , much to my mortification but also because I have a bit of a skewy flight or fight mechanism and I don’t think been done for assault would have added to our holiday. We’ve wandered the museums, gone to shows, walked around Jacks hunting ground and stood on the nameless street where his last victim died. In fact that street very nearly broke my heart.
On this last trip I was obsessed with all the statues because I had just finished reading the “Stoneheart” trilogy. We walked for miles so that I could get pictures of gunner, the sphinxes and an array of the other characters.
There is a sense of being in a very old place when you are in London. History is literally all around you, some of the statues still have damage from WWII. There are faded poppy wreaths on the memorials. It is a city that you can get lost in. Maybe that is what I like about it so much , the history and the freedom.
I like been able to roam , and been able to melt away. These are things that as a very shy person appeal to me. I can simply fade into the background, the thing about London is that even when you do want to fade into the background it is still very vibrant. I find a lot of peace in this city.
I suspect that I always will.
I’ve been gone for some weeks here. There are a number of reasons for this but it was mainly my health and having to make a few big decisions regarding my future and the future of my PhD.
Science is not an easy road to follow. Even when you are happy and healthy it can be tough , the hours are long and the breaks are short. On my last post on this topic I think people could generally sense that I was very stressed out and very anxious about my future. I want to say now that I really appreciated all the support that I received.
It is with my health in mind that I recently ( as in was given the choice last Friday and stewed over it all weekend) reached the decision to come “off books” for a six months. This is something that will probably start this month , potentially next week. It is to allow myself the time that I need to get better. It won’t affect my work hugely as I am thankfully still allowed access to my laboratory when I’m well (which currently averages between two-three working days a week). This means that my PhD can and will go on , just with less pressure and less of me feeling like I have the guillotine of time hanging over my head. It also means that if in that time I am ill I can stay home without guilt. That I can do what I need to. I am hugely lucky in that sense. My supervisor and lab manager are both very supportive, I am particularly grateful to my lab manager who is facilitating me having access.
It was with a heavy heart that I made the choice. I was meant to finish up this time next year. It is now looking more like it will be this time two years. I admit I’m finding it hard to not struggle with that but that is life and the road is never smooth and straight. I am trying to find silver linings , so far the main one that I have is that my PhD now has a better chance to be as good as it would be if I was healthy. It is a means of giving myself and my research a chance.
As for my health, I am still struggling to be taken seriously regarding the problem. That is despite several screens clearly showing the problem and a list of symptoms three miles long. The FODMAP diet hasn’t improved my overall symptoms. I’m still getting bouts of illness once a week or so , which of course means missing lab time. When I do get into lab I’m generally exhausted and the cycle starts all over. I have hopes though that I can and will get on top of this before next march. It may mean another consultant switch or having to sit in a and e for a few days but it will be sorted.
As everyone has been saying , the work isn’t much good without the person who did it. And my health has to come first here. I see that, not happily but with a certain amount of resignation to the fact that this is something that I need to do.
So I have been stitching away as always. Both projects are coming on pretty well.
I’m going to let you into a dirty little secret though , until the end of last week I was someone who didn’t know how to finish stitching a block of cross-stitches properly. I was *shame face* a knotter. (Apparently this is a dreadful thing to be…sorry..no , not really , sod that). I never thought to just simply slip the threads back up through the back of the stitches. It does make things look a lot tidier.
The piece for the baby has come on a good bit. I am finished mother goose. A lot more to go but I have until the start of November or I can give it as a Christmas present. It’s funny to be stitching it along side the pregnancy.
I’ve started prepping some of my Christmas presents as well. I was getting annoyed at always having to buy frames for the stitched pieces that I make , because even with Ikea it can add up. Then I realised that I could just decorate the hoops and use them as the frames.
I also have one of my Christmas gifts finished. It was stitched by hand although I would still love to get to grips properly with the sewing machine so that I could do free-hand stitching that way.
My other project stitch is coming on a bit more slowly. It has though brought something to my attention. I don’t set aside a huge amount of time for myself or things for myself. I prioritize other things and people. I think it is natural enough (surely we all do it) but it may not be the best thing for me. It has made me take a step back.
I’ve also just received I suppose what could be considered my first commission. Some heart-shaped party tokens due for Feb of next year. I should have them done and dusted in plenty of time for their due date and I’m pretty pleased with the fact that the person thought of me.
A little while ago I wrote about I was suffering from a batch of ill-health. The ill-health is the main reason for my absence here.
Thankfully slow progress has been made in the direction of dealing with it. Two problems have been identified with my intestinal tract. I have a gallbladder loaded with gallstones (which after several conversations on twitter are been named after swear words, suggestions welcome, I have a lot of them so feel free to wear yourself out). It has also come to light that I have increased levels of histocytes (macrophages) along my intestinal tract. Now given the gallstones and the fact that my CRP levels were quite high none of this is surprising. I’m also query some other stuff but a lot of stuff such as IBD and coeliac have been ruled out. Small mercies.
What has been surprising is that I am currently struggling with Doctors to get adequate treatment. Despite having symptoms that match symptomatic gallstones (a lot of people can have them for years and they are never a problem) they are exhausting all other options first. The latest diagnoses has come back as IBS with potential gallstones. This is a step further then I got last time , where I was just told it was IBS and to basically suck it up princess. Also in fairness unlike my first consultant this second one has actually referred me to a dietician to see if that would help.
Want I am uncomfortable with is the fact that I am been left with a gallbladder that I know to be problematic. The dietician herself on symptom description said that it sounded more like gallstones (this was before I told her I knew that I had them.) All is not lost though, the dietician has put me onto the FODMAP diet, which is a win either way. If it works my symptoms will improve hugely over the next few weeks , if it doesn’t work then I simply go back to the consultant and hopefully have the gallbladder dealt with.
I’m also working on several new posts for here so I will be back. I’m hoping to actually do a stitch science on gallstones because they are gross but interesting. Also the FODMAP diet is probably worth writing about. I am on day one of it and so far no changes but it isn’t as bland a diet as I thought it would be. In fact its nice to be trying to eat a little bit more (though I am terrified of triggering spasm etc).
Main reason for writing is to let you know that I am still here , still going.
This is a personal account of how my feminism developed through Twitter based interactions, it is how a group of strangers who I have never met opened my eyes and helped to educate me. They also gave me the word for the feminism that I most believe in.
This post has been brewing for a long-time. Most people who know me know that I identify as a feminist. On twitter I share a space with many other awesome feminists. Due to terrible shyness I may not say much , but I am still there and was made welcome. In RL I’m still pretty bad with the shyness but once I’m comfortable ish around ppl I’m fairly open, my skeletons don’t have a closet , they sit at my table eating dinner with me.
For some my being so openly feminist would strike them as a negative. “Oh god, she’s a feminist, another angry woman..Rar Rar Rar”. Yes, I suppose I am another angry woman but perhaps I have the right to be? I have always been so wary of saying that I identified with the F-word. I knew the eye-rolls that would follow, the commentary, the criticism. “We already have equality.” (Really, where? I’d like to know where it has been kept hidden or ransomed). For those who say we are equal. We simply aren’t. Look at what “The Everyday Sexism” project has brought to light, it is a truth all women know but yet it hadn’t seen the light of day. Look at the statistics published in Nature relating to women in science.
Twitter introduced me to Bell Hooks, Twitter gave me a word for the feminism that I relate to most. It is intersectional. It is a feminism that acknowledges the oppression with oppression, how an oppressor can also be oppressed. It taught me about privilege, my own and that of others. It made me consider things in a way that I never have before. For all of that I am grateful. I have become more considerate in my own actions through the shared experiences of those on twitter.
Why intersectional feminism? I had some issues with what I suppose would be called mainstream feminism. To me it seemed to be a feminism that catered for middle-class white women. I am white but I did not grow up middle-class. I found it hard to identify with for a number of very personal reasons that maybe someday I’ll elaborate on.
Twitter and the intersectional feminists made me look, listen and learn. I advise others to be open to it. Look at the experience of all the women around you, how they are treated, the thousands of small ways that we are put back in our supposed place, listen when someone takes the time to share their experience. Don’t expect the person sharing the issue to be calm or placid, these experiences are not things to be placid about. They burn, they fill people with rage. Take the heat and be considerate towards the fact that someone is sharing something very personal with you. Most of all learn, take what they have said on board and learn from it. From doing this I learnt so much about joint oppressions , how sexism and racism interact, ableism and sexism , ableism and race, how all the oppressions can act on one another in any encounter, that each one will have factors that may be completely unique to the individual. When all of this clicked for me I was shocked by the fact that it had never fully dawned on me before. Seriously? How the F*ck had I missed this sh*t. It wasn’t my brightest moment.
The whole experience for me has been really personal and enlightening, it is odd how Twitter facilitates interactions with complete strangers and how those interactions can impact our lives, that is the beauty of Twitter.
So here it is , laid out bare, to do what you will with , my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.
As some of you know my health has not been fantastic of late. It got very bad a few weeks ago , when I ended up in A and E with an inflammatory response in my stomach. It hasn’t improved much since , I ended up back with the medics yesterday and am currently certed until Thursday. This is to give me time to firstly get use to a new treatment/drug regime that I’ve been put on. It is also because I am in bits. I can’t eat properly (the inflammation is stomach based) , I’m swollen and sore at the inflammation sight and generally feeling somewhat sorry for myself. (Seriously, I really wish my body would give me a break). It’s not helped by the fact that no-one seems to really know what is going on. If it’s an allergy , severe IBS , IBD, my liver mal-functioning, I’ve heard all of these suggested since it started but have no full answer. It is soul-destroying.
This is compounded by the fact that I simply cannot work as I would normally. Since the A and E incident I have not had a week where I haven’t had to take a sick day. I’ve tried to make up for it by working longer hours when I’m in and going in at the weekend but I keep been told , is not a sensible thing to be doing. People are right , it isn’t. My body already seems to be functioning at its limits. Hospitalization has been mentioned several times , I’ve had so many blood tests done that I’m pretty sure I’d be a bad meal for a vampire. So what keeps me pushing at this , just at this moment in time?
It is pre-dominantly a heady mix of fear and guilt. My work is suffering because I can’t get in to lab to do it. I am riddled with guilt by the fact that it is more delay (I have been ill before earlier in my PhD , in honesty my health is the worst it has ever been in the last three years…it’s like I stored it all up so sickness could hit me all at once). I am without mercy on myself. I’m concerned how this will affect my future career prospects, how much it irritates my supervisor. How much they think I’m faking it , despite the fact that I always get a doctor’s note. I got myself into a state of complete panic yesterday over all of it. Also I’m pretty sure that most of these concerns are horrible imaginings on my part.
My supervisor shows concern for my work. I’ve already been vocal on the fact that I’m concerned for it myself. I would have thought that a live healthy PhD student is better than a live but fairly sick PhD student.
I have to draw a line somewhere , right now there is something very serious going on within my system. I will not do my best work with the health in the state it is in. I need to realise that in order for my work to go forward properly I need to myself be functioning properly. I just don’t know how to get that message into my head. It’s part of the reason I wrote this entry, to force myself to acknowledge my concerns, to see the truth written down , in hopes of shaking myself awake to the fact that my health is not a price I am willing to pay for a set of experiments , no matter how good the data.
Warning: If you are squeamish I wouldn’t recommend reading on. The post contains information that some will find unpleasant.
Demodex are a genus of mites that many mammals share a parasitic relationship with. We are no exception.
This stitch came about after reading Ed Yong’s post on Demodex. It was published after the new scientist released an article on the association of Demodex with rosacea. Please see the link here.
Of the genus two are specific to humans , D. folliculorum and D. brevis. My little creature is mainly based on the latter. These little guys are the most common ectoparasite of humans. They can be found in several places such as the scalp , face and upper chest.
On our face they very much like to hang out in the area known as the T-zone probably because it is rich in an oil that we naturally produce known as sebum. They have a very short life cycle of around two weeks , in which time they hatch , eat , mate and then explode (yup , this is what they do when they die, releasing fecal matter in the process).
For more info on them see the post that I linked earlier. Mr. Yong outlines the activities of these little creatures in much more detail.
I made this little guy using felt a few weeks ago. Very simple to do. Cut the felt using a template that I made from a cereal box. I detailed the front of the body before stitching it to the back part. I stuffed as I stitched to give the body shape. I used two little brown buttons to give the impression of eyes ( not scientifically accurate).