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When Beauty Isn't Obvious (Or - Why I Really Wish We Could Photograph People's Personalities)
5/17/2018 6:34:35 PM
This might shock you but I really want to do a photography exhibition with a difference.  The title would be "My Gorgeous Friends".  The walls would have photos of those of my friends who I honestly think are the best looking.  You might be surprised to find that most of the people in the photos would not be considered to be "classically" good-looking in the physical sense.  Although - when it comes to physical appearance I can think of at least five of my friends who could double up as catwalk models.  Especially if I can talk one of them into wearing a suit again (the first time I saw them in a suit I wondered how a GQ model was qualified to officiate at a wedding service in a church).

Most of the Motley bunch of people in the photos in my exhibition would be the ones who could best be described as looking "lived in" with their lives showing in their faces.  A couple of people are coming to mind as I type this.  For example - the ex-teacher who has always treated me kindly and encouraged my love of writing, the friend with the "interesting" accent who said to me last time I saw them "sit down - you are wheezing" (I hadn't wanted to say anything about feeling puffy at that point), the seriously gorgeous and extremely talented friend who makes me feel I am as good at writing as they are (even though I am nowhere near as good at telling stories through writing as they are (and their use of both music and their voice to give life to their words could make me seriously jealous of them if they weren't such a caring and kind Human), the human who has helped me more than they will ever know (even when I was annoying them to the point of them never wanting to speak to me again) who has turned into two very good friends of mine - they will definitely know who they are from that description, and the two ladies who are filed in my brain under one name because of the "Double Vision" incident when I first met them.  There are a lot more descriptions I could share with you.

Every single person whose photograph would appear in my exhibition has got one thing in common.  They have all shown me kindness and generosity (sometimes when I didn't deserve it).

You see - I don't judge people on how they look on the outside.  Instead I think the truly gorgeous people are the ones with gorgeous personalities who take time to make me feel like I am important to them when we share oxygen or communicate via text or social media.

I remembered a line by Martin Luther King (which I am going to deliberately misquote slightly) "I have a dream about a day when people will not be judged by their physical appearance but by the contents of their character".
I Think I Have Somehow Managed To Join The Ranks Of The "Experts" (Or - The Day A Brainiac Made Me Feel Clever)
5/17/2018 5:56:30 PM
I suppose you could say I had had it coming for a long time but I kept thinking people were seriously mistaken every time they tried to tell me I am good at writing.  Actually, that was their biggest mistake - telling me I am good at something is not advisable unless you want me to wonder what your motives are.  Showing me you think I am good at something, on the  otherhand, will get me to believe you without question. There have been too many occasions in my life where someone has said something nice either to me or about me but their actions have said the complete opposite.

The Brainiac who I can credit with getting me to finally believe I am good at writing and blogging did have a couple of sidekicks who have also (on different occasions) proved that they think I am good at writing - mainly by singing my praises to other people in my earshot and giving what I consider to be solid reasons.  The fact that the sidekicks in question are two people I greatly respect in their own fields is beside the point.

There is one other piece of information about the aforementioned Brainiac which might explain why they were the one who finally convinced me that I might be good at this writing lark.  The Brainiac recently got a "Title upgrade" whichw happens to go very nicely with a PhD in a subject which I am passionate about - "Community Media".

The location where I was convinced was a place which I wouldn't usually set foot in during daylight hours (due to me not having any A Levels).  I was at a kind of "Open Day" which had been badged as a "Community Media Cafe" at De Montfort University, in Leicester.  This was partly a showcase about and a celebration of the "Community Media" course run by the University.

So - how did a Brainiac with a PhD convince me that I am an Expert in writing and Blogging???  (Aren't I the one who is frightened of the Highly Qualified???)

Simple - treat me as an equal and allow me to talk about blogging as part of a podcast involving at least one otherbperson who I respect as a very good writer themselves.

I almost felt sorry for one of the Brainiac's sidekicks when they made me wish I was brainy enough to go on the course myself.  When a University lecturer tells you that they actually want to mark one of your blog posts it really makes you feel fuzzy inside.

Don't get me wrong - I still think there are people who I know who are a lot better at writing than I am.  I am certainly not going to start blowing my own trumpet and informing the world that they should listen to me because I am the newest Expert on blogging and writing.  If you thought that was going to happen you obviously don't know me and the fact that I prefer hiding in a corner whilst everyone else makes a great big fuss.a
Why Living Is Sometimes More Useful Than Talking (Or - When Experiences Really Help You See Life Through The Eyes Of Others)
5/17/2018 5:20:23 PM
Recently I have had some strange things happening to me.  I have been finding out that sometimes we can share experiences of things without sharing the actual experiences themselves.

Two things really brought that into focus for me.

The first was reading a book by a very good friend of mine on the subject of his experiences of depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and finding startling similarities with the challenges I face due to my sight.  "A Year In Melancholia" by Julian Harrison, is a diary of a year living with his Mental Health issues.  It is honestly the best book I have read on the subject of Mental Health.  It is also easy to read because it is as though you are going through it with him and he explains things without treating the reader like an idiot.  He doesn't get technical either.  I would, however, advise you to have a box of tissues handy when you read it - parts of the book were just heartbreaking (especially when Julian learns his son has developed OCD and wonders what would have happened if he had had the sort of help his son is getting when he was his age).

I suppose you are now thinking that Depression and OCD are Mental Health issues whilst being Registered Partially Sighted would indicate you have a physical disability???  You are correct.  But the side-effects can be exactly the same - both depression and serious sight problems can (and do) make you want to crawl into a corner and escape from people sometimes.  (Especially when your sight problems have made you feel like a performing seal for some reason.)

The other thing which brought home the idea that we can share experiences without actually sharing the experiences themselves was an event called - funnily enough - "Shared Experiences".  This was one of my favourite "safe space" kind of events.  The subject was "Sexual Assault and Abuse".  I don't speak about it but I was actually the victim of a sexual assault  in my last job (it was by a window cleaner).  There were two very brave (and I am not using that term lightly) ladies there who were both from Asian backgrounds.  They certainly educated me on the way that sexual assault and sexual violence are treated by their different communities - and I found it truly horrifying.

The main "takeaway" I got from that evening is - even though my experience of sexual assault was extremely mild compared to those two (and the other people who spoke) - the feelings they were describing (as in the shame, the feeling it was their fault, etc) are not unlike the feelings I had when I was bullied at school.  You may or may not know I came extremely close to killing myself during my first year of secondary school due to being severely bullied.

So, next time someone tells you about something that has happened to them which you may find difficult to relate to, see if you have felt those same feelings even if they were from a different event in your life.
Just Call "Dynarod" And Be Done With It (Or - A Health Update)
5/17/2018 4:40:33 PM
There are times when I really wish I wasn't me.  These usually occur when I come up with brilliant ideas for blog posts that I can entertain (or bore) you with on here - usually because I can just about guarantee that me thinking I have got great ideas for blog posts will mean I start to experience what you might call minor complications to my blogging abilities.  As in - something happens to ensure that I am held captive (and most probably given some half-explained bad news as a result of my captivity which starts my head spinning for at least a week after the event).

I suppose one good thing has come out of my most recent hospitalisation.  At least now I know that at least some of the Departments who are looking after me are working together.

I suppose I should start at the beginning (and explain what I mean about calling Dynarod in).

A few weeks ago I should have had four appointments in the space of two days (in fact, two of the appointments were supposed to be withing 40 minutes of each other - in two totally different places).

The two appointments I did manage to get two were the ones which combined to get me admitted back into hospital after the second one.

The first appointment I managed to attend was for a CT Scan which had been ordered by my Oncologist.  The second appointment was with the Pleural Effusion crowd to check my left lung hadn't had a refill of fluid.  Well, apparently the left lung had not had a refill of fluid but my right lung must have been feeling left out because it turned out that my right lung needed to be drained of fluid.  That meant another stay in Ward 29 of Glenfield hospital.  (It also meant the drain was put in a veryawkvery place - between the ribs just where the muscles are which allow you to bend the top half of your torso are).

I was also introduced to the most effective painkiller I have ever had (and - if you know me - you will know I hate taking painkillers).  Oramorph (otherwise known as liquid morphine) is brilliant.

Unfortunately I was also introduced to the most painful procedure I have ever had - putting talc in to seal the lining of my lung in an attempt to prevent further leaks.  So far, the talc appears to have worked.

However, the news I got in my Discharge letter wasn't exactly the best news I have ever had (nor was it put in an easily understandable kind of language) - which made me definitely not want to see my Oncologist for quite a while.  The letter informed me that the tests on the fluid they had drained showed something which may be a progression of the cancer or it could be something else equally bad.

A week after I came out of hospital I saw my Oncologist who actually kind of put my mind at rest whilst scaring me at the same time.  Yes - the tests did show the cancer has spread to the lining of my lungs but no I am not going to have Chemo yet.  There are more drugs to try before that.  So I am now on Letrozole instead of Tamoxifen.  It took a week for the Letrozole to kick in properly.  Just enough time for the next dose of fun to start.

I don't know if you remember but there was some fuss about whether or not I had Asthma before I had my left lung drained???  Ladies and gentlemen - I have had confirmation that I have in fact joined the ranks of the Asthmatics!!!  I didn't like the test they put me through to get the result.  Well, that is not strictly true - I didn't mind the actual hospital-administered test itself - it was the test involved in stopping my inhalers for 24 hours prior to the test, taking my tablets 45 minutes earlier than normal (to give one time to work through my system before I left home), and get myself to Glenfield hospital by bus on my own without conking out.

Anyway, that is you lot up to date so far.

I know I keep saying this but I honestly appreciate your support.
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