Do you Smoke?

Going for a check up ‘down there’ is never a pleasant experience and always embarrassing, but unfortunately it is necessary….

 

 

person wearing white elbow sleeved top covering beige sun hat

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We have had a terrible amount of tragedy here in Ireland in relation to the Cervical Smear Scandal.   Tragedies, which could have and should have been avoided.  Women who have or are dying of cervical cancer, which needn’t have and shouldn’t have.  Human error.  Human mistake.  It has and is costing lives.  Taking women away from their families, husbands, children, friends, THEIR life,  THEIR  future.

If anything has come out of the ‘massive blunder’, it is that more women are heading to their G.P surgery for the dreaded smear test.  Others are still waiting in anxious anticipation that their results will be good news.   My own adult children have attended recently to get their smear test done.  There is a 5 MONTH wait on expected results.  That is a long long time to be worried, particularly if you have any sort of ‘symptoms’ going on ‘down there’

Symptoms can include, spotting, soreness, painful intercourse, increased discharge, unexplained back pain…….  My personal experience, years ago, when I did indeed have ‘symptoms’ and begged for a smear, was told I was too young.  Too Young….    I was 23.    I was planning my wedding.  I experienced painful intercourse.  I was told to go to a sex therapist, that there was nothing wrong with me, it was all in my head…. I was too young.

Long story short, I went to the sex therapist…. It was still sore……   I badgered my G.P again and again to do more smears…. I wanted a baby once I was married, but  thought if I can’t get anything in, how the hell can I get anything out!

I changed my status from single to married, endured painful intercourse and  also changed G.P.  after several ‘clear’ smear test results.  Roll on a couple of years I finally found a G.P that LISTENED to me.  Sent me to see a Gynaecologist.  As he was about to examine me, and I was totally mortified with embarrassment, he asked ‘Do you smoke’.  My first reaction was to look where he was probing, to see how could he tell.  Were there tell tale signs down there!!  I felt doubly embarrassed then.

Finally,  after listening to my tale of clear smears for the last couple of years,  sex therapist sessions and still painful intercourse, he arranged for me to have a  colposcopy, where a scan of the ‘area’ is done and a biopsy is taken.

‘Oh yes my dear, there is definitely something wrong here’ were his exact words as he was ‘scanning’.   Relief, was my first emotion, that I was not indeed mad or frigid!  Terrified was my next emotion.   I had to wait 2 weeks for the results and I can tell you it was 2 weeks of hell on earth.

My cells were at precancerous stage.   Any longer and it would have developed into cervical cancer proper and I would not be here to tell the tale.  My point is this.  Had I not insisted and badgered and kept going back to my G.P by the time I had other ‘ symptoms’ it would probably have  been too late.  It took me several clear smears, over 2 years and a colposcopy and all the embarrassment that went with it to find out, there was indeed a problem.

I was treated almost immediately in hospital and stayed 5 days for them to blast and burn the cells, in 2 areas ‘down there’ and was followed up every 6 months thereafter for a couple of years..  At age 30 I had a hysterectomy due to other reasons, but the fear of Cervical Cancer had now been totally eliminated.

I still have no idea why the gynaecologist asked ‘Do you smoke’.  I’m still hoping there is no way of telling by looking at said region, but I was too embarrassed to ask him, why did he ask me that, so I will never know!

So for all females out there, get over the embarrassment and get the test done.  If you are not totally happy, even with a clear result, go badger your doctor for a Colposcopy…. it may just save your life.  Lets not have any more Mistakes!

 

Baking bread

the tragic loss of a child lasts a lifetime….the hurt in the heart never fades

Upon the lake so still and deep
The sunrise shines, a glow does creep
The life below, feels it’s warmth, Yet all I feel is sad, forlorn
For on the lake you take a boat, to have some fun, to fish, to float.

At home I was baking bread. ‘I’ll be back soon is what you said.
‘Monday, Monday ‘ you sang out the door. A smile, a wink, I’ll see no more. For as I busied, making more bread. My darling son, he was now dead.

The boat he had, was but a farce, made from the roof of a clapped out car. And so he sailed, upon the lake, not knowing the horror of his fate.

The house was filled with a lovely smell. The boat turned over, and in you fell. Oh you could swim, but not that day. Your hobnail boots took you away. As I looked towards the gate, down you sank with the weight.

Your friend he tried, but all in vein. You went down once, then twice again. I made some butter for the freshly baked bread. Not knowing right then, my son was dead. I sat at the table and made the tea, waiting for you to come home to Me.

Then there came a rap at the door. A man there sobbing ‘you’ll see him no more’. For he has gone into the lake. Never to return, is his fate. I stumbled back, into the chair, at this man, I could but stare.

I held my chest, my poor heart shattered. To hold you now was all that mattered. Turn back the clock to breakfast time. When you were here, when you were mine.

‘Stop your crying’, the priest said to me. God has called him, now, you see. I sobbed and screamed at the loss of you. ‘Don’t you know, we want him too?

But a child of 14 years. No time can heal to stop the tears. The lake so still, the water runs deep. As I bake bread now, forever you sleep.

That’s me in the Corner

When everything else looks the same, when you are looking at what you expect to see, take a look closer. Look for something that seems different, look for the unexpected and you many well have your mind opened and be so totally pleasantly surprised……

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I think of the words of R.E.M…… just look at them and think about them…

Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger
Than you and you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I’m choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
Try, cry
Why try?
That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream
Dream

These words can be interpreted in many different ways. For me, it brought to mind my wonderful grandson. Last night he participated with his school and other schools in our National Opera House in a concert called ‘Sing out Loud’. The Irony is, my grandson cannot speak. He is non verbal and has autism.

As I watched him, with immense pride, I was amazed at how he managed to stay on the stage for an hour and a half, with others, singing and dancing and playing instruments. It was indeed a spectacular show. I was truly mesmerized. I was particularly in awe and mesmerized with my grandson.

Children/people with autism are very sensory and react, often in a negative way to sensory overload. The noise on that stage, to him, must have been so bombarding on his hearing that he must have thought his ear drums would burst. Instead, my heart bursted with pride, at how he stood there, and at times sat, but nevertheless, he remained there, on the stage, at all times, with his peers, PARTICIPATING in a SING OUT LOUD, concert.

It was a full house. I knew he had autism, his father and his brother and a few other people who know our family, know he has autism. The rest of the audience did not. I imagine most were too busy watching with pride, their own family members on the stage. However, if they did happen to notice the boy, wearing the ear phones, NOT SINGING, and wondering, what he was doing there, let me tell you. He was being INCLUDED. He was being acknowledged and recognised by his teachers, by his school, as a person who could and should be allowed to participate in, and be engaged by, and with, what they were doing on that stage – having fun!

At school he has begun to communicate through a model called R.P.M. (Rapid Prompting Method). He touches a stencil, one letter at a time, in between his stimming and perceived lack of concentration, and his teacher (and his mother, my wonderful daughter, manages to get some words down, spelled out by him – (by the way he has taught himself to read and spell out words, because before RPM, it was considered that he would not learn like ‘typical’ children learn…. How wrong was EVERYONE!

Today, his teacher did an RPM session with him in school :-

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Could we, as his family, be any more proud or in awe of him? NOOOOOOOO . He is wonderful. He is incredible. He is astonishing. He is important. He is entitled to be included. He is not an empty vessel. He is trying, so hard, to communicate. He is patient. He is kind. He is funny. He is sometimes isolated. He is amazing. He is hope. He is our everything. He is ENTITLED to be loved and acknowledged as a typical person. He just cannot speak…… He tries. He stimms… Do not think he is not a worthy person. He is, and more. He has to do more to prove is worth. He has to stand on a stage, with his peers, with them singing and joining in, while he stands there, with his toothbrushes, which he loves, and he has to look on, and endure the noise and the lights and the heat, and the stares and the knowing looks, some may give him, but he perseveres and he stays there, and he enjoys himself, BECAUSE, he has been included. He has been ACCEPTED as an equal to his ‘typical’ peers.

So, the next time you see a person, who may look or act or seem a little strange, remember our boy and the joy he communicated the day after he was treated like his ‘typical’ peers.

Always look for the extraordinary, for the odd one out, for the boy in the corner, and you may well be so suprised with what you will find out! Smile at him, accept him and know how amazing he actually is. Believe in the unbelieveable and never judge a book by its cover…… There is a whole new world inside!

Angry or hurt?

its an emotional thing, but is it anger or is it hurt and depending on what it is, what can be done?

human fist

They are words that are said and used alot. All walks of life, in everyday conversations. I was angry, I am hurt. I was angry so I hurt him. He hurt me so I got angry and slashed his tyres!

She hurt me so I pushed her. My boss upset me so I came home and kicked the cat!

Anger can therefore invoke an action, a loss of control and a harmful reaction.

Hurt is the pain, like a wound, an ache, invoking a sadness, a physical pain or emotional pain.

When someone is angry, usually, there is an underlying emotion which triggers the anger, the loss of control and to get to understand the anger, we must look to the source of the emotion or feeling triggering and driving it.

(In)security, (in)feriority, (in)adequacy, (un)worthy , fear, frustration, exclusion, isolation:

These are but a few words that can trigger anger or indeed hurt because the two are often married together. Simply put when someone is angry it doesn’t mean that they are not hurting. When someone is hurting, it doesn’t mean that they don’t feel angry. they can also happen separate from each other. The real power, is what do you do with the anger, do you react to it by losing control, or do you take control by unraveling it and peel back the layers to see what indeed is driving it.

When we are hurt physically, as in, have an injury we have to usually rest to help to recover the injury, otherwise the injury may never recover and heal properly. If we are hurt emotionally, the same can apply. ‘Rest ‘the feeling. Acknowledge and recognise it. Let it lie, let it be quiet, let it scream and cry, let it heal. Make yourself absent and don’t react with anger, for then, you are out of control. Process the event which caused the hurt, understand how it has affected you and call it out. Know the damage it has caused and feel the scars it has left whether it can be repaired or not. Take control and use your hurt as a guide to get you back on your feet and back to recovery. Don’t let the hurt make you a victim, let it teach and empower you

During our life we have to hurt and feel pain and we certainly get angry at some point or another, sure as night follows day. What it ultimately boils down to is how we manage it, how we value and protect ourselves. There is a saying that in order to give love, you must, first of all, love yourself. In loving and valuing yourself first, you can then decide to be in control of how you respond to the anger and the hurt that you will encounter on this life’s journey.

As the title says, life is simple, its just not easy! But no matter what, keep it cool and stay in control!

Inphoto by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The shame

And so it’s over, it’s time to leave
All the threads, knots and weaves
Time to unravel, to come undone
To learn to walk or even run

The hurt, the pain, sarcastic quips
Taunting, pushing, busted lips
Cuts and bruises, mental scars
This time now, it’s gone too far

The time has come, I’ll set me free
I’ve had enough of you and me
Where I’ll go I have no clue
Anywhere out there without you

I served you well, I stayed alive
My time with you I have despised
You took my strength, possessions and wealth
And for a while, my hope and health

My body starved, I am mere bones,
So many like me, I’m not alone
I watched them come onto the track,
Into buildings, they never came back

I saw the smoke, ash falling like snow
I kept on working, where could I go?
My heart is broken, but not my resolve
I’ll get out one day, there’s a story to be told.

It’s full of horror, of evil men
Millions of people, they have slain
Some will live and crawl out with me
It is our strength that will set us free

If we manage to stay alive, we’ll honour those, who do not survive
Well raise our heads, not hang in shame
We are innocent, not to blame.

The threads, the knots, the knitted weave
The time has come, it’s time to leave
But rags and bones, we are free
Don’t ever forget what happened to me

The shame on man, the shame on war
Your hears are empty, your hearts are poor
You are not any better than me
All mankind, set yourself free

Back to School

For some it is a great sense of relief to get back to school after the long summer holidays of missing friends and routine. For others it is a sense of dread, angst and trepidation, knowing they are going back to face the bullies. So what can be done to ensure that our children are safe when they leave home to go to school?

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I remember when I was young thinking that the school summer holidays were way too long. I went to school in the UK until I was 14 and we had 6 weeks off in the summer. SIX weeks, wow that was such a long time. I loved school and I missed my friends and classmates over the holiday period. I couldn’t wait to go back to the ritual of the routine, and slot back in again to student life. It was a happy time. That was until I moved school because we moved to another country. I was made to feel unwelcome almost immediately, mainly by a particular teacher. I was different you see. I spoke with a different accent, an English one, a very unwelcome one, back in the ’70’s in rural Ireland. Even though my parents and grandparents and entire set of ancestors were Irish, I was an outcast from the offset.

I had a hard time a lot of the time. It was bad enough trying to readjust to my new surroundings, my new home, a new country, away from my friends and all that was familiar to me without the added dread of going to school to be ridiculed, ignored, picked on and verbally insulted. It was outright bullying. It gave me feelings that I didn’t care to have. It made me feel sad, bad, ostracised, unwelcome, angry. I went from loving school to dreading school. I went from thinking six weeks summer holidays was way too long to 3 months in Ireland being not nearly enough. Looking back, the only thing I am thankful for is that back then, when I got home, I was safe. Home was my sanctuary. Home was where I did not have to worry, I did not have to be on high alert, I would not be tormented there.

These days it is a different story for kids going back to school. This is the technocological age of progress and ‘all things can be done in an instant’. The sad thing is, that goes for bullying too, and there is no escape, there is no sanctuary of home anymore. Why, because these days most of the school age population (secondary school) have mobile phones, have some form of social media, whether it is snap chat, facebook, instagram and some other things I haven’t even a clue what they are! The bullying does not necessarily stop at the school gate, or the school bus stop. It follows you home. It doesn’t stop. It can be constant. It is exhausting. It is often SILENT. It is ALWAYS dangerous. It gets into the mind and can be so destructive that some victims cannot cope. They may appear to be ‘functioning’ on the outside, but what is going on, inside, inside their heads. Do they have regular tummy ache? are they distracted, quiet, forgetful, preoccupied,  depressed, hiding in their room with their phone. Are they asking for more money? are they irritable, aggressive, weepy, off their food, having sleeping problems. Do they have unexplained bruises and pass it off as, ‘it happened in P.E’. Are some of their belongings missing, pens, bag, purse, books etc.  Are they making excuses for skipping school, lessons, homework.

All to often the problem is that bullying has not gone away.  Despite everywhere having an anti bullying policy.   Despite the fact that there is more awareness and education about bullying in the education system, it is still very prevalent today.  So what can be done if your child is being bullied or if you suspect your child is being bullied?  Talk.  Talk to them, talk to the school and if possible, talk to the person doing the bullying in a safe environment.  Often a bully has issues of their own, that they are finding difficult to deal with and so take it out on someone else – a ‘kick the cat’, sort of response and misplace their anger and frustration onto someone weaker, more vulnerable, an easy target  is the perfect option.

Monitor your child’s use on their phone.  Have strict rules around the phone and do not let it go into the bedroom with them.  Talk to them about keeping them safe and protected.  They are young and have young and immature and very impressionable minds.  You are their parent, you DO KNOW best.   If they need a phone to contact you, consider buying a handset that is NOT a smartphone.  Let home become their sanctuary.  Let home be their safe place.  Work on strategies that your child can use to help them protect themselves, to help them stand up for themselves and ultimately stand up to their bully.  A bully will soon tire,  if they are not getting anywhere with a someone they perceive to be weak, and leave them alone.

Out of all of the children I have had and looked after 2 were bullied at school and after school waiting for their bus.  Two children separated by  12 years in age, but both were 16 at the time of their bullying and assaults.  At the time of the first one, there was no such thing as social media, so she would come home and tell us what was happening and we dealt with it the best way we could and it was soon nipped in the bud.   Home was her safe place.     The second child that was bullied did have a phone at the time, but it was not a smart phone, so there was no social media bullying for her either.   We chatted about what happened.  We spoke about strategies and ways in dealing and coping with  the bullying and how to build up my child’s strength and resilience.  Not only to challenge herself but also to challenge her bully.  To stand up to her bully, no matter how scared she felt,  and let the bully know, in no uncertain terms,  that  the bullying behaviour was not acceptable and that there would be serious repercussions if it continued.  We were lucky,  in that it worked and the bullying stopped and my child’s confidence, resilience  and resolve grew stronger.

There are however, cases of bullying which have dire circumstances and ultimately very tragic ones.   I particularly remember the case of Phoebe Prince, the Irish girl who moved to America and was bullied so much she took her own life.    The only positive to come out of that tragic case is that the people who bullied her were held accountable and were charged and convicted of harassment and civil rights violations.  Stricter bullying laws were introduced also as a result.  Many more children, home and abroad, are victims of bullying and have also attempted or committed suicide.  Isn’t it time, we took stock, isn’t it time we did something more, especially as far as social media is concerned, to keep our children protected and safe.  They may look fine on the outside.  You may think they are just sullen, cranky teenagers, but maybe, there is something more going on.

It is very frustrating for parents who know something is going on but feel that they or their child is not being listened to or heard.  We have a crumbling and almost broken mental health service.  People are being left crippled with fear and anxiety over what can they do next.  They say it takes a whole village to raise a child, so we need to come together, as a community to help and support each other.  To help and support our vulnerable children.  To talk and keep talking to our children.  To reassure them, to empower them, to help them, even if it is they who are doing the bullying, understand why, get to the bottom of it.  Lets stop treating the symptoms of bullying, lets try to get to the root of it and eradicate it ….. for everyone’s sake.

 

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/victims-of-bullying/

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/school-in-the-us-was-like-something-from-a-film-all-the-little-cliques-were-there-sister-of-bullying-victim-phoebe-prince-36068953.html