Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Pond Water Pact

I'd been having a tough few weeks so decided to take a break and go down to see a few friends including Daniel, and just have some selfish few days doing fun stuff, whilst Corey and Joseph were in Germany with family.

Of course Daniel had to stick a spanner in the works, and during a routine blood test, it was found his white blood cell count was very low, 3000. As Daniel has an underlying medical condition, and frequent visits from carers and other people, he was at high risk of infection. He was even, whilst I was there, threatened with admission to a neutropenic ward.

Eager to avoid this, it was suggested to Daniel that he start drinking green tea. It's quite widely accepted that green tea can improve white blood cell count.

Daniel wasn't overly keen, not being a lover of tea or coffee or hot drinks in general, but far preferable to admission was willing to try. Me being the sort of friend I am said I'd make the switch too. It's made me giggle as people have said "oh are you doing this for Lent?" and I reply "No, Daniel, I am far more scared of him than God"

I am not a fan of green tea, and have to say, it looks like pond water. My German office manager at Green Fish said "it tastes like photosynthesis", and she isn't wrong.

I went on abit of a mission to try different types of green tea, and I have to say Ive been somewhat pleasantly surpised, and I like them all for different reasons. Plain green tea I do find a bit hardcore, but with a flavouring in, its pleasant, and the green tea chai is a real treat.

I have made the switch now for well over a week, and the thing is, this is permanent. I've cut out tea and coffee, but may over time have the occasional coffee. I find it a very relaxing drink, and I am drinking a lot more in general than I did, I feel really well hydrated, and don't get the same crash as I do after having coffee.

Change is hard, and anything I can do to help friends I will do. I am very pleased to report that Daniel's white blood cell count, at last test, was 10 000, which is back within normal range. It could be coincidence but it would appear the green tea has done the trick.

All hail pondwater!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

For Frances Andrade

This beautiful spirit is Frances Andrade. Before you read I want you to listen to her play

I want you to remeber this woman as a talented violinist, and someone who put all her sadness into her music. Because Frances Andrade doesn't play anymore, she died. A week after giving evidence against the man and his wife who sexually abused her as a teenager.

When I heard her story on the news last night and read today  I wept. My heart was torn in two for this beautiful woman that I never met. I sought solace in my violin playing when I was a child, beginning lessons at the age of seven. I never reached her dizzying heights or had her talent. But it comforted me.

When I wrote Jimmy Savile is dead I said that when you talk about the abuse, you are no longer an adult, you are right back there again, as a vulnerable child. It's terrifying, you feel exposed, stripped bare, dirty, alone, guilty, disgusting. You feel unlovable, and like your life is just not worth living. I know. I am there.

Frances bravely took her abuser to court. The process took two years, alledgedly in this time, she was advised not to seek counselling. In court she was called a liar and a fantastist, and this dear, dear woman had been sexually assaulted as a girl by an uncle, and later by her teacher and his wife was not believed. She had suffered so deeply. She had a history of self harm. Frances built a life and a loving family against the odds. She brought beauty with her music against such pain that she had suffered.

The man who sexually assaulted her is awaiting sentencing. But Frances died before she ever heard the words "guilty". The inquest is yet to be held, but the statements being issued tell a story. A story of a woman assaulted by the criminal justice system and let down by the police. I am not going to go into the merits or otherwise of the adversarial system of trial, but something has, indeed, gone horribly wrong when a victim is dead and the perpertrator gets a sentence in prison.

We have to learn from Frances, that her death may not be in vain. I talked briefly about my own story here. I was the victim of a sustained period of abuse as a little girl. I revisted this with the police not long ago, and was believed. But they advised me to think very carefully about going to trial. Historical cases are notoriously hard to prosecute. Both my witnesses are dead, also at their own hand. My memory is very patchy, I was very young, I didn't have the vocabulary for the things that happened to me.

I have no dates, there is no dna, there are no witnesses. I know in my heart that it happened, but I will never hear "guilty as charged your honour".

There has to be a better way. There has to be. In the 21st century we can do better than this, I have no answers but I am not going to be silent anymore. If we want to see these evil people punished, we need to get much better at the process.

Rest in peace Frances Andrade and I hope, wherever you are, there is music, sparkle and happiness.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Shark Bait, Humour and PTSD

This is NOT me - sadly
I blogged yesterday about PTSD and how I am having a flare up at present. I don't know about any of my fellow diggers with PTSD but one of the things I find really helps is humour. I guess its that old flight and fight thing too, that humour helps me, it brings me back to reality and makes me realise that however traumatic life has been there are still candles of hope.

As all of you know I have a stunningly handsome best friend, Daniel, who I adore to bits. Daniel has become such an accepted part of our family that Joseph sends him hugs every morning, and Corey refers to him as my twitter husband or twusband for short. A regular occurance in our household is

Husband: Can I watch football tonight darling?
Wife: Oh but I really wanted to watch telly
Husband: Well, isn't Daniel on Twitter can't you go flirt with him?
Wife: Ok then *toddles off happily*

When I first started talking to Daniel on Twitter I found him insightful, very clever and um a bit scientific. Never boring, but he ran his account almost like a business account, very professional and a bit, well, dry at times.

What I slowly began to realise that under this very serious exterior is an exceedingly warm and funny man. And this week we have both been there for one another (well as usual really) when this amazing woman sort of came into his life (no sadly not in a romantic sense!)

I suggested Daniel write a funny post about Nesta which he has here, so please read it.

Nesta clearly realised the best way to reach Daniel was on Twitter, she's not really a Twitter user (yet mwahahaha) and is still an egg. So when she sent the tweet:

Nesta Roberts ‏@NestaRoberts
@Daniel___BSc You’ve inspired me! Please check it out!!
My gorgeous, self deprecating best friend does what um everyone does and assumes it's spam. He said something like "this is spam isn't it?" I did 2 minutes checking, and just laughed at him! Beautiful woman wants to chuck herself in a shark tank to raise money for Target MD and Dan assumes it's spam. Just so Daniel all over.

Even I, Daniel's best mate, wouldn't do that!!! There are limits!!!

So if you are amazed and overwhelmed that someone who has never met Daniel would do this, please sponsor Nesta.

I'd also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has made me laugh, sent hugs and offered to help. There have been so many of you I am overwhelmed. One of the problems with PTSD is I find asking for and accepting help very hard, so if I haven't replied or seem a bit off, just be patient with me. I am much better at helping others than accepting help.

And you can just tell me a funny story, or send a funny picture :)

Friday, 8 February 2013

Poorly Again - PTSD

This post is highly personal, and honest. Please think carefully before reading if you have your own PTSD and pain in your life, and particularly a history of sexual assualt. I won't be offended. 

I'm protecting someone. I don't know why. This person tried to take everything from me, my child, my job, my liberty. It happened a week ago. This person, a childminder in whom I placed my trust, made a serious allegation of child neglect. Child neglect is a crime, punishable with prison time. She said my child is dirty and smelly, that he is fed junk food, and that I dress him inappropriately for cold weather. She's either seriously deluded or.....I dunno, seriously deluded? She reported me to the social services safeguarding team. Fortunately Joseph has been in a placement for nearly 2 years and they totally backed me. I spoke to the social workers involved who immediately saw this allegation for what it was and proceeded no further. I have done so much safeguarding training and work that to be honest, initially I just saw this as another nuisance thing to deal with in my busy life.

But now, it's set in.

I am derailed. I thought I was doing ok. All my life I have protected people who have tried to hurt me. From the man who anally raped me at 5 years old, to the husband who married a virgin then raped her so severely she bled and was bruised. That was me. I never sought help because as a Christian (the type I was back then) had been conditioned that I had no right to say no to sex as a wife. So conditioned I was to hurt I just got on with it.

I just feel so tired. I am so sick of being attacked, of being made to feel inferior and no one can do that without my consent. I am not inferior. But I am broken.

My dear friend Daniel asked me the other day what the difference between a memory and a flashback is. Memories can be unpleasant, this is true, but memories can be, to an extent controlled. Flashbacks are involuntary memories. They are usually sensory too, physical sensations, smells, sounds, tastes, visions all come back in frightening reality. It's like being trapped inside a 3D telly until someone changes the channel.

PTSD can also make you make stupid connections. My beautiful friend Jennie lost her daughter this week. All week I had been feeling like the allegation of child neglect was the worst thing that could happen to a parent, and then I received Jennie's heart destroying news.

An allegation of child neglect is nothing. Nothing.

Nothing compares to finding your child no longer breathing, not rape, not child sexual assault and certainly not some misguided accusation of neglect.

I will get my brain back.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

A Stressful Week and a Story About Chicken

This has been one of the worst weeks I have had as a parent. I can't go into massive details now, those of you on my personal Facebook will know the basics, but I was reported for child neglect this week. I will, one day, do a post about how I love our child protection system, it isn't perfect, but it does work. I have been fully cleared, within an hour of me being made aware of the allegation. I am in awe of the work social workers do and how they operate, and have nothing but praise for how we have been managed.

I am not sleeping well as it has kicked off my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. One of my protection mechanisms is that when stressed weird things pop into my head, strange memories. This one was a very happy, funny one so I thought I'd share it.

I also have an update on my other blog too. 

Our Sicilian apartment in Letojanni
I was on holiday in Sicily with now hubby and 2 friends. We were staying in an apartment, and I decided to cook dinner, chicken involtini with ricotta insalata, in a tomato sauce served with summer greens and new potatoes.

So Sicilian villages being what they are, full of interesting looking men in black suits, and old ladies with scarves on their heads, I went to the butcher, as supermarkets don't exist. Presumably supermarket owners turn their nose up at paying large bribes, and are all at the bottom of the Mediterannean in concrete boots, but I digress.
View of the Mediterranean from our apartment
So big Sicilian butcher, looking like an Italian version of Con the Fruiterer, we shall call him Bertolli the Butcher, says "bionjourno" in pidgin italian I ask for Pollo. Here we come unstuck. Italian for breast. Not a clue. He points to his legs "no" He flaps his wings (well arms, Bertolli does not have wings) he starts to cluck and scratch his feet all the time talkinig very fast in Sicilian dialect. The shop, which was full of disapproving Sicilan grandmothers, starts to feel very uncomfortable, this weird woman is disrupting their normal Wednesday morning. I shoot apologetic looks and ask for help "English?" nooooo they all shake their heads. 
Me in Aussie Backpacker mode in Sicily
Any way, his head cocked to one side he says with huge grin "Pollo?? Pollo??" With great joy, he grasped his considerable breasts which appeared bigger than mine (those of you who know me will appreciate that this is quite impressive, for a bloke, as I am rather *ahem* gifted in the boobage department) and said "ah these, these" and then started pointing at mine and then in perfect English said "how many chicken breasts would you like".

Two please

The previously Easter Island appearing Greek ladies all start erupting with laughter saying "ha ha she wanted chicken breast"

Surprisingly, there was no camera crew to capture this moment.
Me cooking in our Sicilian kitchen. My next trick was not, sadly to ask for rump steak.
BTW the chicken was delicious. Who knows what they feed Sicilian chickens but the breasts were the size of pterodactyl breasts, and had so much flavour. If you have never been to Sicily I highly recommend the place. But you may want to take a phrase book.