Got the city on lockdown…

How are you? We’re deep into lockdown now, are you managing to feel sane? It’s hit and miss this end.

I’m realising that although I spend a lot of time at home alone, I really do love the things I do get up to. Recent weeks have been lacking on outside interest. Throw in a nasty flare (& injury) and I’ve really been dredging the spoonie resources to fill the days.

The obvious place to find gentle entertainment is my beloved library. I have been re reading some old favourites. Thus providing myself with diversion & comfort. If you haven’t ventured into the world of Barbara Trapido, you’re missing out. She creates seemingly sedate middle class stories. On closer inspection her interwoven plots & sprinkling of the otherworldly are magical. One of my tattoos is partly inspired by a Trapido book. I never tire of her words.

Thumb & forefinger  holding book open

Podcasts have been another lifesaver. Excellent insomnia salve. Equally good played loud to ease me through the dreaded housework. My latest discoveries couldn’t be more different, but I am loving both. True Crime Brewery is pretty much what the name suggests. A married couple who like beer & true crime take us through a different case every week. They pick a beer from the location of the crime & give a wee review too. Dick is a paediatrician & Gill a nurse, their medical input really adds to the analysis. They both possess soothing voices that make listening to even gruesome events relaxing.

Chachi Chats is a must listen. Danni from The Chachi Power Project welcomes a new guest each episode to discuss all things Bopo. The first two episodes have blown me away. Packed full of information that everyone should know. Full disclosure, yours truly will be popping up in this podcast soon, but I am learning so much from the other guests. I can not recommend this one enough.

I did get out of this house, but only for hospital nonsense. I had a transfusion & a chest X-Ray, which revealed two cracked ribs. The good news is I look exceptionally cute in my mask from Rosana Exposito.

I’ve taken full advantage of our move to phase 1. I had some lovely garden visitors. It does me good to see these faces in person. Long may the good weather continue.

Two mum’s sitting in garden with toddlers on their knees
Black and white image of plus size women in sunglasses

In between times it’s video calls galore and taking advantage of my garden. It is a real luxury to be able to relax outside. Especially when the sun helps a little with my joint pain. Not to mention all the gorgeous wild flowers that bloom in my borders. I only wish I knew how to reach Bronan’s level of chill.

Wildflowers in a vase, women eating an ice lolly, girl laughing on FaceTime
Toddler on a swing & with shark filter
Sleeping cat
Women & child with dragon filter on video call

The hurting time…

Chronic illness becomes a way of life. You don’t stop feeling bad, but you do get used to it. Humans adapt. Pain becomes the new normal.

Most days spoonies deal with symptoms that would send healthy folk to the Dr. On bad days many would be considering 999. Chronic peeps, however, muddle through. Sometimes flare ups floor me. There are days when brushing my teeth is an epic feat. Others I function to varying degrees. I work & play & everything in between. Always, though, I hurt.

I pay the price if I over do it. I carefully plan routes & venues around how many steps will be required, if there is seating, stairs & so on. I pre check menus for items that won’t make me sick. Plan meals around when meds need to be taken. I do everything tired. It’s so hard to sleep & even when I do crash I wake feeling little difference.

Selfie of women’s sad face.

I found a way to work around my illness. Squeeze pleasure out of any socialising I can manage. I have become accustomed to cancelling things I really wanted to do. The list of things my body is no longer capable of grows. It’s ridiculous how sad felt upon realising I won’t jump on trampoline or turn a cartwheel again. Especially when I don’t even have much desire to do either. It’s just another limit. Another no.

I persevere. I follow Drs orders. I try all manner of suggested remedies. Acupuncture, cbd, floatation tanks, tens, yoga, the works. Some treatments help. There are medications that work wonders. Others that I need, but that cause problems. I take drugs to counteract the side effects of other drugs. It’s exhausting, but it’s my life.

Hand holding 5 pills of various shapes & colours

It is not all bad. I have privileges that many do not. My home is warm & safe. I have access to excellent care. I am gifted with skills & talents that allow me to pursue work I love. I have safety nets. I had years of being fit & well. I went to uni, got stuck into the partying & had the chance to travel a little. I’m loved. Pleasures great & small find me. My cat is the cutest. Life could be worse. I can handle this.

Cute black and white lying on back fluffy belly exposed

Except when I really, really can’t. There are days when chronic life overwhelms me. Days like today, when every inch of me is sore. Keeping a brave face when you’re throwing up for fifth time in as many hours is a challenge. Every day my first sensation is agony. Aching joints. Throbbing head. Burning skin. Churning stomach. Each little movement hurts. Remaining sedentary isn’t an option either. My arthritic parts seize up. Leading to, yup, more pain.

Food refuses to stay in my stomach. Don’t eat & the acid bubbles up my throat. Attempt to line my raw stomach and the vomiting makes everything worse. I can’t concentrate enough to distract myself. Sleep is illusive. There’s no escape.

Burdening others with my misery triggers my guilt. Keeping it all in is horribly lonely. Pain relief doesn’t work. Positive thinking is way out of reach. Some days are hard. It is too hard be grateful. Impossible to hang onto hope of easier times. Today I’m just thoroughly sick & tired of always being sick & tired.

Plus size women in green leopard print maxi dress  with walking stick

My week (ish) in pictures…

It looks like we’re all going to be spending a lot of time at home over the next few weeks, so I’m glad I managed to do some interesting things whilst I could. I’m less pleased that I also did some really silly things.

I kicked off last week with a gas leak and the discovery that loads of my pipes needed to be replaced. That necessitated the gas bring turned off until the week was completed. The current weather is not ideal for cold showers, so it was shivery week. Tuesday adventures were exactly what I needed to perk me up. The addition of my bestie & niece made for even more rascalling. Two wee monkeys had a ball at soft play. The boy also obtained a new puzzle because auntie ly can’t help herself. Jigsaws are his new favourite thing and he is obsessed.

Toddlers on big blue slide

2yr old doing a jigsaw on the floor

Tuesday also saw me falling in love with the cutest jumpsuit that ever was. I originally spotted spotted this Asos beauty on a plus size legend’s insta. I loved it, but immediately thought, I can’t wear that. I couldn’t identify why I felt that way or what part of me I thought wasn’t good enough. Thus I decided to challenge the negative thought and order it anyway. I’m chuffed that I did. The minute I put it on I felt adorable. Once again proving that body positivity is an ongoing process. Every day is a body liberation school day.

Plus size woman in blue and white polka dot jumpsuit

Wednesday progressed with some cute nail art, a little project post it and a mid week movie. I was delighted to be seeing a grown up film; it’s been all cartoons of late. My sister and I had a giggle watching the largest bad boys offering. It gets a bit cheesy, but is still a lot of fun. If you loved the first two, you probably won’t regret giving this a watch.

Leopard print nail art

Cineworld Glasgow

Project post it

The tail end of the week was mostly taken up trying to secure a plumber to do my repairs & attempting to plough through my unread emails. In breaks from the tedium I made the mistake of giving Bronan some fishy cat soup. His fondness of this delicacy led to him weaving between my legs every time I entered kitchen. Ultimately, tripping me and really hurting my good knee.

Playful black and white cat

This is were I got foolish. I didn’t think a simple fall would cause any damage. So I kept on walking on the sore knee. I had cosy morning with the boy doing puzzles, reading stories & messing with insta filters. I also finally got all the work done on my pipes & enjoyed a steaming hot bath.

On Wednesday I was off to Edinburgh to be a guest on a podcast for the first time ever. I was both excited and scared to talk all things Bopo with the amazing Danni from The Chachi Power Project. We ended up having a really great natter, which will hopefully make an enjoyable episode. I stayed over as I was operating with two dodgy knees instead of my usual one. Of course I took advantage of the hotel stay to snap some pics of lounging ly.

By Thursday my knee had become an enormous puffy mess. I headed straight to the hospital when I got off the train. There I discovered how daft I had been to think I should just push through the pain. I had dislocated my knee in the fall. At some point it had worked itself halfway back into place. It had to be returned all the way to its correct position. I also did a little damage by walking on it, but it should heal if I rest & elevate. The X-Ray had another surprise for me, but I’ll fill you in on that later. For now, it’s feet up.

I hope you are all coping ok in the midst of the covid panic. I’m washing my hands 500 hundred times a day and doing my best to avoid unnecessary outings. Please take care of yourselves.

Up in the mirror…

I’m still struggling to up my cute to dragged through a hedge ratio. I did manage two not hideous days in a row last week & I’m celebrating by sharing those looks with you.

I had to take care of some tedious bits on Thursday. My reward for ticking off the to do list was dinner with my favourite man. I popped on this polka dot number for vegan yummies & top chat. I think I’ve only worn this once before, I don’t know why. I love it.

Mirror selfie of ly in white wrap dress with polka dots

Dress – Boohoo

Tights – Snag Tights

Shoes – Primark

I always size up with Boohoo. Their sizing is neat especially across the bust. Don’t get hung up on the number on the label, better to be comfortable in bigger size!

The next day I was ready for comfort. This dress is a dream. It’s made from the softest fabric ever. It has all the ease of a basic t shirt dress, but the drawstring waist gives just enough cinch. I felt like I was wearing jammies whilst rocking my hourglass curves.

Mirror selfie of ly in black t shirt dress with walking stick

Dress – Primark

It’s also available in tan, which I’m getting even though my darling sis said it was ugly. This is the spoonie fashion I need for the hard days.

Tan t shirt dress

All that cuteness wore me out. Today it’s back to lounge wear & sorting life admin. Bronan finds it all exhausting.

Black & white cat sleeping on cushions

January girl…

January is turning into quite a challenge on both physical & mental health fronts. Mood dips at this time of year are predictable, but this feels like it’s edging towards more than that. Thus, I am doing the sensible thing & taking a rest.

I’ll be still be sharing other people’s cool stuff & perhaps bits from the archives. There’ll be a pause on new content. If you begin to miss me, you can find me here & here.

Black and white cat lying in back with text, paused for inner maintenance

My week (ish) in pictures…

It’s been a bit up and down of late. Thankfully the highs are good enough to get me through the dips. Plus Xmas is close & I’m definitely beginning to feel merrier. So, let’s have a we round up of goings on before I get swept up in all the festivities.

Last week I had some Xmassy cocktails with my favourite man. I took a trip to the very rainy seaside to do some giggling with my lovely Lisa & her equally lovely boy. I checked Edinburgh’s pretty lights on the way home. Of course I spread a little #projectpostit wisdom as I went.

I did a whole bunch of rascalling with my middle nephew; including cinema trips & fun in GoMA studio. Hung out with all three boys together & did some excellent FaceTiming with my big muffin. We got started on all things Santa & I even wrapped the first of the presents.

This week involved another Edinburgh visit for an exciting meeting. Followed by a lost bank card, lots of stress & some big glasses of wine with my favourite man to save the day. It was a perfect winter day; freezing cold, but crisp & dry. The light was dreamy.

Back home I lost a battle with some frost & my driveway. Snuggled with my puss cat & put the tree up.

I had a little sister time. Got seasonal with my nail art & snapped all sorts of things that took my fancy.

The day is full of birds…

It’s been a quiet week on the blog front. I had a little procedure last week and have been losing the battle with fatigue ever since. I’ve slept more in the last 7 days than the previous 7 weeks and I’m still bloody shattered.

The good news is that my minor surgery should help tackle two troublesome issues. After a little follow up treatment both my stomach lining & haemoglobin levels should be in more robust shape. The down side is I can hardly keep my eyes open. Yet, never actually feel like I’ve slept for more than 5 mins. Fatigue is hardcore.

Thus, nothing much is getting down. Very little writing. Hardly any crossing the front door and even less wearing of actual clothes. My content bank is overdrawn.

Unsurprisingly I spent what little energy I had on a Tuesday adventure. My sis & her boy never fail to perk me up.

Me, my sis & nephew at Loch Lomond

This week we soaked up the soothing beauty of the bonnie banks & met some new feathered friends. Owls are fast becoming the baba’s second favourite thing. He does love a twit twoo, but nothing is knocking ducks off the top slot.

Trossachs National Park

Scandinavian owl

Now it’s back to resting in the jim jams and snuggling with my boy. Just don’t tell him I’ve been fraternising with the enemy.

Sleeping cat

My week in pictures…

It’s been a hectic week. I did some utterly lovely things & some necessary tedious things. Predictably by Friday is was unable to move. Still in recovery mode, but it was worth it.

I kicked things off with a wee hotel stay on Monday. My sis, the baba & I enjoyed a couple of days of chilling out (& carrying on) at the Westerwood Doubletree. The boy loved the pool and just like his auntie, he is a fan of a hotel breakfast. The grown ups did some relaxing and then undid it all by watching Chernobyl. Amazing tv, but quite possibly the most terrifying thing I have ever viewed.

Westerwood Hotel & Spa

I had to do a little trek to Gourock, which turned out to be a lot prettier than I remembered. Then hopped on the ferry to Dunoon, which although quaint was much less interesting than I recalled. I did however enjoy the fresh air & the (almost) sea air.

Gourock Dunoon Pier

Hump day saw me buzzing from hospital to hospital to attend various clinics. I had my first go at a new treatment, dome boring maintenance & a whole lot of waiting around. Such is spoonie life.

Iv treatment New southern general Glasgow

Ootd wise I seem unable to kick my yellow habit this week. Clearly I am seeking a little extra cheer; yellow tones fit the bill.

Ootd

Thursday I was back to rascalling with the boy. We did all our messages & fed some birds before checking out the suspension bridge. I used to be a little scared of them, but I’m so attracted to their splendour that I cowboyed up. The boy was delighted with all he could survey from the bridge. Ducks on the water, trains on the bigger bridge & especially our new tiger friend.

Suspension bridge, River Clyde Tiger street art

View from bridge, River Clyde

By Friday my body had decided it’d had enough activity. I could barely get out of bed. I did the resting thing. Saturday was more of the same. Today I finally made into the bath, fresh jammies & onto the sofa for a cuddle with my cat. I even managed to owing my nails before retreating back to bed. Go me.

Stuck in bedBronan ly h Kerr rainbow nail art

My weekish in pictures…

The last few weeks have been a mixed bag. Some good, some bad; all of it exhausting. C’est la vie!

I revisited some Glasgow landmarks with visiting friends & got some of best hugs from the lovely Lisa.

Glasgow spots with friends

Dippy at Kelvingrove

Did a fair bit of duck spotting with the Baba. Ducks are his absolute favourite. He would be in the pond giving them cuddles if we didn’t stop him.

Swans & DucksDuck spotting with the baba

There was a wee overnighter at CitizenM. It’s the perfect place to relax in your pants after a busy day.

CitizenM boutique hotelLegs in the sun

I did a little random appreciation of my city.

Finnieston crane, Scotland st school, Glasgow street art

I attended the Pro Choice Demo in George sq as I do every year. Catholic groups on the city who are funded & adopted by American ‘pro life’ groups continue to harass vulnerable people with their hospital vigils. We have to stand up to these bullies.

Glasgow Pro Choice Demo

Unfortunately I had a couple nights in hospital too, which has resulted in some down time. What to do when stuck at home resting? Paint my nails & snuggle with Bronan of course.

Cat snuggles & nail art

And look cute in my new specs.

ly h Kerr, where.light

Please don’t wake me…

Today kicks off Sleep Awareness Week, which aims to highlight the importance of good sleep. As a chronic insomniac I am of course acutely aware of how important sleep is. I’m writing this at 4am, so I haven’t found the cure for sleepless nights. I do though have some semi successful strategies.

My relationship with sleep has flipped from one extreme to the other. In my youth I could drop off anytime, anyplace. I loved to snooze and had zero issues dropping off. I was the queen of the long lie. Sleep became a problem when I first experienced mental health problems aged 19. Unfortunately, I have never managed to regain my easy breezy relationship with slumber. Almost twenty years on I have become accustomed to functioning on a few hours a night. Chronic pain has done little to aid a peaceful night, but an inability to calmly shut down is still a major obstacle in my quest for rest.

A decent night’s repose can affect everything from heart health to sex drive. It goes without saying that exhaustion also has a massive impact on mental health. The NHS advises that most of us need around 8hrs sleep to function properly. In fact, lack of sleep can so massively impair cognitive faculties that experts suggest driving after only 5 hours sleep is just as dangerous as driving drunk. Everyone should be mightily relieved that I cannot drive.

The long-term effect of insufficient sleep is grim. The anxiety of going to bed each night knowing achieving sleep will be a battle is wearing. The more you worry about not sleeping the less likely it becomes. Constant fatigue makes getting through daily tasks difficult, which adds to one’s stress levels. This in turn pushes that magical 8 hours even further out of reach. Long sleepless nights are lonely. There’s rarely anyone else awake leaving a busy mind way too much room to mull over worries. Throw pain into mix and you have a recipe for despair. Moving through the world in a worn-out shuffle will grind you down, which is why I offer my extensively tested tips on getting some god damned sleep.
I’m not going to waste your time with milky drinks and lavender under your pillow. Everyone knows the basics and they aren’t going to cure hardcore insomnia. I don’t have a failsafe solution, if I did, I’d snoring now. However, these are the things that I have had some success with over years.

Bedroom Tips

Keep your bedroom cool. Lowering your body temperature helps the body prepare for sleep.

In theory that’s why a hot bath should aid sleep, but I find any sleepiness gained from the temp drop is lost during the process of getting dry and organised for bed. If you do less faffing post bathing it might work better for you.

No tv in the bedroom. This is a definite for me. I find a television to be the opposite of relaxing. I need my bed and bedroom to be a completely chilled out zone. Which sits nicely with my next point.

Try to make your bedroom as pleasant as possible to be in. Obviously, that means different things for different people. For me it’s nice sheets, subtle scents, comfortable mattress.

Black out blinds are your friend. I could not live without mine.

Invest in one of those huge maternity pillows. They give so much support if you have back or joint pain. Plus they’re just super comfortable.

Sound Effects

Rain on window

I use sounds machine apps. I like heavy rain/ thunderstorm type sounds, but experiment and see what works for you. Something about being safe & protected from the elements I’m hearing sometimes helps me drift off.

Soothing music (whatever that means to you) at a low volume can also help. I like to mouth the lyrics and focus on words I enjoy rather than my own thoughts. Getting the volume just right is key for me, so again, you might need to experiment. Select specific songs and make a playlist beforehand. You don’t want anything that unexpectedly bring unpleasant or stimulating associations to mind.

Preparation

I should probably have started here, but lack of sleep melts your brain. So, you’ll have deal with my disjointed thinking.

These are all evident. I’m going over them because sometimes you miss the obvious when you’re knackered.

Don’t eat too close to bedtime.

Don’t watch, read or listen to anything that will bring up stimulating emotions (nothing scary, disturbing, sad, triggering etc).

Avoid arguing or deep conversations right before you hit the hay.

Smoking, caffeine, some meds (check with gp/pharmacist) are no goes before you attempt sleep.

Against Accepted Wisdoms

Sleeping cat

I’ve consulted many Drs, Psych’s and other practitioners over the years and some of the oft repeated advice they’ve given me has turned out to be just plain wrong for me. If you find something that really does or doesn’t help, even if everyone is telling you the opposite, do you. For me this includes:

Looking at my phone in bed. Putting it on night shift mode to alter the light tone to yellowish rather than blue is a must. Otherwise I find aimlessly scrolling can be very helpful in getting me sleepy.

Reading in bed also works for me. I can’t fall asleep without reading. I find that if I just keep going until I literally can’t keep my eyes open, I have a good chance of getting into a proper sleep. I think it’s because my mind is occupied with the content of the book rather than whatever mess is in my head. Clearly, it’s important to choose the reading material with reference to my previous points.

Sharing the bed with pets. So many people have cautioned me against this. I find my petting my cat and hearing his purrs excessively relaxing. Thus, I ignore such warnings.

Hippie Dippie

Constellation lamp

I hate to be that person, but occasionally the esoteric route gets you there.

A constellation lamp in a dark room can offer something uncomplicated to focus your attention on long enough to get to sleep.

Gentle yoga – clears the mind & stretches everything in a pleasing manner.

Desperate Measures

When you’ve been attempting shut eye for hours and are reaching the point of hopelessness; get up. By that point you aren’t going to sleep. Every toss & turn just raises anxiety levels. I find it much more productive to get out of bed and stop forcing it. Do whatever you can manage and if you get drowsy try again.

Medication – You need sleep to operate. There comes a point when discussing medication options with your Gp is the sensible thing to do. I have tried several sleeping pills over the years. Most didn’t work for me. Most are not a suitable for prolonged use due to addictive and/or tolerance building properties. There are some drugs that can be used for longer periods. I have been prescribed one such medication. It doesn’t have a 100% strike rate, but when it does work it knocks me out all night.

Sleep when you can in extreme cases. Often napping is counterproductive when fighting insomnia. However, when you haven’t had more than a couple of consecutive hours sleep in weeks that goes out the window. When my sleeplessness is at its worst, I will get so completely exhausted that my body will crash. That doesn’t always happen at bed time. Take that sleep. You need it. Sleep all day if you must.

Last but Not Least

Oxytocin

Sex and orgasms in general are brilliant for sleep. Sex works on so many fronts. You can tire yourself out, all those feel good hormones chill you out and of course it’s the perfect distraction from any negative bullshit you have going on. Flying solo releases all that lovely oxytocin and melatonin too, so don’t be shy about giving it a try.