Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Very little preamble today PainPals – I’ve been battling the onset of a migraine all weekend and it finally broke free this morning, leaving me moribund on the sofa.  My surrogate furbaby Chester apparently kept me company for a couple of hours snuggled up next to me – although I had no idea!  You’ve had my post about books and reviewing already today so I will plunge straight in with some blogs for you.

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https://hughsviewsandnews.com/2018/08/13/5-ways-you-can-save-time-when-blogging/

https://imsickandsoareyou.com/2018/08/09/six-and-a-half-ways-to-cure-writers-block/

https://www.healthyeatingexperts.com/spoonie-secrets/

https://butismileanyway.com/2018/08/10/living-life-keto-style-kindaketo/

https://www.shallowreflections.com/taking-drastic-steps-to-protect-my-noggin/

https://clockworkclouds.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/cracks-in-the-porcelain/

https://ellenbest24.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/watch-right-of-passage-on-youtube-fgm/

https://dreamingandreading.com/2018/08/07/ttt-top-ten-tuesday-sequels-i-am-dying-in-my-tbr-read/

https://sv3dprinter.com/?p=7400 – 3D printing for spinal cord injuries

https://topladytalks.com/2018/08/13/playing-odd-man-out-not-today-reminiscences-of-an-accessible-holiday/

Please like, comment and share!

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

 

 

 

Books, Reviews and Finding a New Purpose through Chronic Illness

When a person loses their “raison d’etre”, what do they become? Blood and bone and tissues.

When a person.jpg

I have just watched a young athlete win her heat in the European championships with an enormous Personal Best and the delight on her face, in her body language, in her voice were infectious and special.  The training and the hard work that she has put her body and mind through over weeks, months and years is paying off today.

The thing that drives each and every one of us to get out of bed in the morning will be individual and change at different times of our lives.  Dreams and aspirations aged 20 will alter, expectations change with life experience and maturity.  But what happens when that reason for being feels like it is “stolen’ away by chronic health issues?

Books, Reviews pin

Personally I found that something that affected me greatly was medication.  The combination of strong anti convulsant drugs combined with opiates used for nerve pain combined with a night time drug usually used in severe depressive disorders, at times created side effects that were as difficult to cope with as the chronic pain for which they had been prescribed.  The combination of pain, sleep deprivation, brain fog and inability to concentrate just felt like a recurring cycle –  a domino effect as one thing caused another caused another in ever decreasing circles.  I didn’t know whether I was coming or going and the antidepressant drug, mirtazepine, left me unable to function in the mornings – my kids, the younger two at primary school then, would have to physically get me out of bed and then I would drift off into semiconsciousness sitting on the loo.  I could hear them talking to me but I just couldn’t open my eyes.

man standing facing white fogs

Photo by Harman Abiwardani on Pexels.com

Slowly but surely it felt as if the ordinary things in life were being stripped away, including my lifelong passion for reading.  I have always had a book or two on the go, and no matter how late is is, I always have to read at least a couple of pages before turning the light out to sleep.  Over a period of a couple of years I found my ability to read a book diminished – despite being awake until the early hours night in, night out, I was unable to complete a book as I read the same page over and over.  What the heck was happening to my brain?  A friend bought me a magazine subscription for my birthday and I couldn’t even manage to read a whole article.  But my pain was so severe and uncontrolled that my inability to read was the least of my problems, as some days I couldn’t imagine living another week like this let alone another 40 year years.

When joining the pain programme at St Thomas’s hospital (London), before I had my spinal cord stimulator trial, I had to agree to reduce my oxycontin (oxycodone – double strength synthetic morphine) with a view to coming off it entirely.  I have written about the current opinions re use of opiates and chronic nerve pain before and about my “withdrawal” – that is not what I want to concentrate on here.  My opiate dose reduced over a period of time and gradually my sleep improved along with my concentration.  How is it possible that my sleep got better with no pain relief (I cannot have my scs turned on at night)? I had not realised just how huge an effect the drugs were having on my sleep and general well being – and not a good one!

Tired

Gradually my brain has allowed me to start reading again and to finish a book or an article.  I found a local book club that meets monthly in the pub and we read any genre as long as it is a recent publication, so that no one has already read it – no issues to be had with discussing someone’s all time favourite!  I love the fact that we don’t take our discussions too seriously and I have met some lovely new friends.  My love of books led me to some social media book groups and it was here that I discovered the world of reviewing.

The fact that authors and publishers are generous enough to share their new pieces of work with an amateur reviewer like me feels amazing.  I have discovered the joy of receiving an advanced copy (ARC) of a new piece of writing and being one of the first people to read it.  Books have always been a part of my home and as a bit of a puritan, I would only ever read an actual book – I like the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of new paper and the beauty of a new cover and uncracked spine.  But……becoming a book reviewer has converted me to a Kindle user.  Don’t get me wrong – nothing competes with a brand new book or a well thumbed favourite classic – but I do appreciate having so many books available in one place and as my ability to hold a book has worsened, the ease and weight of a Kindle is perfect, particularly when lying down!

books cover

I know that authors are grateful to the band of book reviewers that are out here in the blogosphere, on goodreads and Amazon.  We help to get their titles out in the public domain.  For me though, I have so many reasons to feel grateful to these wonderful authors, publishers and social groups as becoming a reviewer has given me back a role and with it a sense of worth.  The first time that I saw my name on a banner for a blog tour, I knew that I could still make a difference.  I might not be able to hold down a job due to my chronic conditions and the unpredictability of my symptoms – but this is something I can do!

There still are days when I am unable to read, and others when I might have read the book but brain fog stops me from getting a review from my head onto paper.  I have had times when I will know that a deadline is looming and the stress of being unable to write will increase my symptoms, thus starting a vicious circle.  But I appreciate that I have been gifted someone’s work, something precious to them that they have poured their heart and soul into.  I am entrusted to care for it and I will always do this.  There may be times when I struggle to get a review written, literally when I have dislocations, but I will always read a book sent to me and give a fair, honest review.  In school many years ago, I was taught how to write a book review and I have never quite been able to shake off my old teacher’s instructions – some of you will know that this means my book reviews can be a bit long.  But if I have been given an author’s “baby” the very least that I can do is spend the time to give it due care in my review.

Books

Reading and writing has given me a new purpose.  It can never take the place of my lost life, but it can sit alongside it and over time reviewing has become an important motivator for me.  I am reading a huge variety of genres, some that I would never have chosen myself and thoroughly enjoying expanding my horizons.  I have discovered audio books and use these to help motivate me when doing physio and exercise plans – I can be often be found pacing my neighbours’ treadmill whilst listening to a thriller!  It isn’t easy to do the necessary exercise to keep conditioned when everything hurts, but a good drama or mystery certainly helps to distract from pain and dodgy joints.

 

At times living with a chronic illness can roll one day into another into another,  but amidst the fatigue, pain and failing body, I believe that it is important to have a reason to get out of bed and keep the brain “moving”.  For me reading and reviewing has given me a new “raison d’etre” – something to keep my brain working, to feel some pride in and to appreciate my self worth.

TBC

 

Thankyou to The Book Club on FacebookTracy Fenton, Netgalley, Love Books GroupKelly, Justine Sha at St Martin’s Press and the many authors and publishers who have entrusted me with their work.

Book bloggers

pile of hardbound books with white and pink floral ceramic teacup and saucer

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You! #PickledBlogs

Hello all! It has been another scorcher of a week in the UK and across Europe the temperatures are set to reach record breaking highs.  The lovely girl arrived home from her 2 weeks in Greece in the early hours of Sunday morning and whilst we got little sense out of her yesterday, she seems to have had a great time.  Her hair is even blonder, she is sporting a very healthy glow and has been swimming daily – including a midnight dip in the sea on Friday.  Oh to be sixteen (nearly) again!

Pickled Blogs Monday Magic

 

I joined Em Linthorpe’s Facebook group Pickled Blog Project recently and meant to join in with the fun tag post questions, but haven’t got round to it ……until now!  So I thought that I would change things about and share my pickled answers here on Monday Magic.

How to play

  1. Answer the questions.
  2. Link back to Em’s post : Pickled Blogs Project
  3. Use the hashtag #PickledBlogs on any social media shares so everyone can find your post, and in the title of the blog post too if you like.
  4. Feel free to tag some of your blogging friends at the end.

Wm will add the links of everyone who plays along, so please shout up when you have completed it!

Pickled Blog proj

The questions

1. What is your favourite pickled item to eat?

2. Tell us about a time you were in a “bit of a pickle” (a tough situation)

3. Pickle Rick, a character from Rick and Morty, is a personal hero of Em’s. Who are your heroes?

4. If you had to live in a jar, what three items would you take with you?

Questions:

What is your favourite pickled item to eat?  It HAS to be pickled onions – but I can’t eat onions of any sort now (gut problems has meant I have had to follow a restricted diet) – I used to love the huge dish that our local fish and chippy would give us when we ate in!

Tell us when you were in a bit of a pickle – going back just a few years(!) to our wedding and my lace dress that needed something underneath, to maintain my dignity.  Mum decided that she would make me an underdress but she didn’t want to put a zip or fastenings on that would show, so having a light bulb moment she stitched me into it.  This was great until we were at the hotel reception and yours truly needed to nip out to the little girls’ room – only to find mum had stitched my dress to my tights and knickers, so limited champagne for me for the rest of the day!

Who are your heroes? Hmmm…..Dame Cicely Saunders (founder of the hospice movement) and I’m rather fond of Marvel’s Daredevil!

If you had to live in a jar, what 3 items would you take with you? Now Amelia over at You Can Always Start Now assures me this jar is already furnished……so I am assuming I have unlimited wifi to set up Netflix & Amazon as my number one, second my Kindle crammed full of classics and contemporary favourites, and finally – well frankly I am struggling to choose between chocolate or wine.  I am sure that says something about me!!

 

I’m not going to tag anyone in particular – so please feel free to join the fun!  I hope you have enjoyed my answers and now will sit back and enjoy this week’s selection of fab blog posts. They are really varied covering yoga, friendship and being an adult,  finishing with a very talented dog called Sasha who writes beautifully and looks stunning too.

http://livingpositivelywithdisability.com/16-things-that-suck-about-adulting-and-16-things-about-it-that-are-actually-quite-good/

http://notebooksandglasses.com/2018/08/05/3-not-so-obvious-things-i-do-to-help-manage-my-neck-pain/

http://chronicallyhopeful.com/spoonie-gift-guide-my-summer-survival-kit-items/

https://mymedmusings.com/2018/07/05/its-ok-to-take-an-online-break/

https://insideoutblog.co.uk/oops-i-did-it-again/

http://www.chickenruby.com/2018/07/what-is-friend.html?m=1

http://www.mumonamissionforabetterlife.co.uk/2018/08/my-july-movie-reviews.html

https://lisaorchard.wordpress.com/2018/07/28/technology-friend-or-foe/

https://www.rendezvousennewyork.com/saturdays-are-for-a-yoga-rendezvous/

http://janetgivens.com/insideoutsurance/

Please comment, like and share!

Have a great week,

Claire x

Blog Tour & Book Review “Waiting for Aegina” The Gift Series #LoveBooksGroupTours

waiting for aegina

Many thanks to Kelly and Love Books Group for including me in this book blog tour!

Waiting for Aegina takes us back to the family and friends saga picking up the story where its predecessor, Evanthia’s Gift, left off.

It is the beginning of the 21st century and friends Sophia, Demi, Donna, Amy & Mindy are entering the next stage of their lives – as wives, mothers and business women. Affectionately known as the Honey Hill Girls, after the street where they grew up together, their friendships and love have strengthened with time and different experiences.

Waiting for Aegina pin

Sophia, now very happily married to childhood sweetheart and Demi’s brother Dean, is still grieving for her mother Ana and worried for her father Alex.  She is also battling with her teen twins from her first marriage, who miss their father since his death and resent her marriage to their “Uncle Dean”, running her successful dance studio and she is heavily pregnant!

Demi has grown from a feisty youngster into a self assured woman, with a Greek fiery temperament and a fiercely protective streak for all those that she loves.  Her children are growing and the business that she runs with her husband Michael and brother, Dean is going from strength to strength – a vineyard that holds weddings and functions in a recently restored Carriage house.  But Demi and Michael are spending more and more time concentrating on their separate areas of the business, and Demi feels estranged from her adored husband and jealous of anyone else spending time with him – particularly his demanding mother!

Donna, the former high school cheerleader/Prom queen married to the football team captain/Prom king, is a teacher with 2 sons.  She has reached her forties and is feeling disillusioned with her marriage as husband Richie lavishes more attention on his sport, car and beer bottle than on Donna and the family.  The attention he focuses on elder son RJ – a keen sportsman like his father – is in direct contrast to the lack of interest that is shown towards younger son Anthony, a sensitive boy who enjoys art, theatre and music.  Donna struggles with her husband’s attitude toward their youngest and his derogatory comments about Anthony’s interests and gentle character.

Amy is now a successful lawyer turned politician, married to Ezra and mother to son Adam.  She is hiding a secret from her past that only Sophia knows – a son born 20 years ago and given up for adoption to a Greek family – but his father is a secret that Amy has never shared.  When her son, Sam, contacts her, Amy is delighted to get to know him through letters and phone calls. But before she has found the right time to tell Ezra and Adam about him or to even meet him face to face, the story has broken in the press that Congresswoman Amy had an illegitimate child and that the father was a now senior Congressman.

Mindy is the only one of the Honey Hill Girls to have never married, having put her soul into the building of her now successful dress design label Bloom.  She has been in love. Nightclub owner Tyler loved Mindy and wanted a life with her, but her long working hours and devotion to her work killed the relationship.  Several years later a chance encounter with Tyler gives Mindy a glimpse of the life that she could have had – marriage and his children.  She takes off to Greece to “grieve” and meets the dashing Apollo, but can this become a long distance relationship or will their differences make it doomed from the start.  As Mindy’s career goes from strength to strength, she despairs that she will never experience in her personal life what friends Sophia and Demi have.

The women’s lives move in different directions but remain intimately connected as they love and support each other through births, love and loss.

My review of the first in the Gift trilogy Evanthia’s Gift can be read here and whilst this book can be read as a stand alone……please, please, please read it as a sequel!  I gave the first book 5 stars and absolutely adored the characters, the settings, and the story telling – so I started the sequel with excitement but also trepidation.  Would it match up to the first novel?  Would I enjoy it as much and feel the characters in the same way?  Would I be inspired?

architecture building church city

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yes, yes, yes!  This book is written around the five friends, whilst the first concentrated on the stories of the first generation Greek families, and each chapter is titled with a different friend’s name – Sophia, Demi, Donna, Amy or Mindy.  Sophia and Demi featured heavily in the first book, so it is lovely to get to know more about the other friends in this novel and the author gives us some more of their back stories whilst delivering the individuality of the characters.  When I feel that I could be friends with a character, that I think about the people as I go about my day to day life and I might even dream about them – then I believe that the author has really succeeded in creating something special.

There were so many aspects of this book that appealed to me – but as a woman of a similar age with growing children, I identify with these women.  I know that the author’s inspiration came from a group of close school friends and a reunion (see her facebook page), and I have also recently returned for a 30 year reunion with both old school friends and my nurse training set.  The feelings reignited with people who you have grown up with or spent informative years of your life cannot be underestimated – it just happens that these women have remained in each other’s lives and those feelings have only strengthened over the years. Love, loyalty, strength and friendship

Ms Kammenou tackles both the joyful aspects of family and friendship, but she doesn’t shy away from difficult aspects of real life.  This novel tackles depression and counselling, domestic abuse, sexuality, devastation from a road traffic accident, politics, suicide, separation and bereavement.  As the mother of a young gay man, I was particularly moved by the story of young Anthony’s sexuality and the difficulties he and others experienced.  This is very different to my own family.

Once again I laughed with these ladies, but I also cried with them.  Their characters grow throughout the book and the author describes real life, not sugar coated, warts and all.  I loved this sequel and can’t wait to get my hands on the final book in the saga.  A great warm, emotional family saga to pack in your suitcase this summer!

I forgot to mention that once again Ms Kammenou demonstrates her wonderful Greek heritage with beautiful descriptions of Greece but more importantly of the food preparation.  Then interspersed with the chapters are recipes and directions to make the dishes, and they are so mouth watering that my family were treated to the Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers last night!  More wonderful recipes can be found her her website.

color cook cooking delicious

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Another 5 stars for this heart warming contemporary, family novel.

About the Author:

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. cover photo 2She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category.  Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

EG & WFA Facebook-Twitter 1

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category.  Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

Find Effie:

On Twitter: @EffieKammenou

Facebook: @EffieKammenou

Website:  www.cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com

Gift Saga

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Good evening everyone!

Monday Magic 30 july

I have been a bit quiet this week – well on the blog, Scope & social media anyway, as the hot weather has caused one or two faints and falls.  The last one was worthy of an Oscar – flat on my back, double shoulder dislocations, shoulder & wrist and I think there might be a fracture in my hand, judging by the beautiful bruising and the pain. faint-movieI know people will say I should go to A&E and hubby has threatened that he will take me if it doesn’t calm down…..but we zebras have high pain thresholds and I’m not sure I can face hospital.  I did visit my GP last week, who told me off as I had self diagnosed the pain around my eye to be migraine related.  She did point out that as an ENT/head and neck nurse in a previous life, it should have crossed my mind that I have a sinus infection – so I came away with antibiotics and finally some iron, for an ever decreasing haemoglobin.  Six more pills a day to add my collection!

The lovely girl is having a great holiday and a week in we miss her more than she misses us – but don’t tell her, whilst the politics student returned from his music festival tired, smelly and very sun burnt!!  They did manage to purchase a tent on arrival in Barcelona last week, but I think it was too hot to sleep in it, he had his money stolen by the second day and then at the end of the festival they were  thrown off the campsite as their coach and flight weren’t until the next day.  So where do you sleep with your mates aged 19? You got it, the beach!!  Apparently an irate Spanish deckchair attendant is a wonderful alarm call at 7.30am……now he needs to get back on track, earn some money and find somewhere to stay in Nottingham when he takes his exams next month (missed due to illness!).  Sometimes they might be officially adults, but I suspect that really there is a little boy lurking inside the body of a lanky man!

So onto some blogs for you and I hope that you will enjoy the summery feel to several of them. Whilst the oppressive heat might have broken here in the UK and the gardens are loving some long overdue rain, I think we can still enjoy the strawberry tequila cocktail, the fashion tips and the suggestions for coping with the heat!

strawberries near clear rocks glass

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Grab a drink, sit back and enjoy!

http://notebooksandglasses.com/2018/07/29/10-non-fiction-books-i-recommend/

https://www.autonomicrn.com/2018/07/28/the-face-behind-my-mask/

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/01/what-was-this-article-about-again/551603/

https://www.mojoblogs.co.uk/family/lilys-summer-lookbook/

https://janded.eu/unexpected-ways-sun-exposure/

https://homemadeandyummy.com/tequila-cocktail-strawberry-basil

https://www.5minutesformom.com/131213/learn-creative-mindfulness-a-book-that-takes-its-time/

A Book That Takes its time

https://glimmerofhappiness.wordpress.com/2018/07/19/the-benefits-of-music-therapy/

https://www.mecfsselfhelpguru.com/2018/07/coping-with-a-long-hot-summer.html

Please comment, like and share these posts!

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

The heat continues, the local schools have broken up and the summer holidays have started in earnest.

Pin for later

Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! 23:7

Two of the young adults have disappeared to Europe this week – no, not together, they  haven’t reached that stage of sibling love yet!!  The politics student is in Spain at a music festival (think I mentioned the lack of preplanning before) and the lovely girl left for the Greek island of Cephalonia on Saturday.  Between us we managed to get the new bikini, shoes and floaty trousers into a carry on along with various lotions and potions, not forgetting her sketchbook and pencils.  Unlike her brothers who tend to only contact mum and dad when they are suddenly in need, she does keep in touch – even if it is to make us jealous with stunning photos!

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Cephalonia beach visited by the lovely girl

Hubby has chosen the hottest day of the year to assemble a pair of his hand built back horn speakers outside (madness) and our old dog is completely flaked out, panting and awaiting his hair cut later this week.  Meanwhile yours truly has kept out of the sun with water and salt my best friends to keep POTS at bay…..but this has meant lots of reading, both books and blogs.  One of the posts below explains POTS and some great tips for the summer, I found a recipe for GF blueberry coffee cake, a series of Angel cards and a lovely start for the week with Alyssa’s Motivational Monday post.

Gluten-Free-Blueberry-Coffee-Cake-3

Gluten Free Blueberry Coffee Cake from Domestic Deadline Blog

 

So sit back, put your feet up and enjoy some fab posts!

https://fightmsdaily.com/2018/07/23/motivational-monday-12/

https://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/behind-closed-doors-life-with-a-neurological-condition/

https://brainlesionandme.com/i-still-want-adventure-in-the-great-wide-somewhere/

https://www.ajourneythroughthefog.co.uk/2018/07/11-strategies-to-combat-negative-thoughts-and-emotions/

http://www.youcanalwaysstartnow.com/category/angel-cards/

https://www.london-unattached.com/melba-toasts-homemade/

http://domesticdeadline.com/2018/07/09/blueberry-coffee-cake/

https://www.mainlyhomemade.com/healthy-living/natural-anxiety-relief-remedies/

https://www.hospitalprincess.com/2018/07/21/stop-pots-summer-tips-for-postural-orthostatic-tachycardia-syndrome/

https://robertmgoldstein.com/2018/03/09/dissociative-identity-disorder-when-shame-becomes-pride/

If you enjoy these posts please like, comment and share on your social media!

Have a great week,

Claire x

Endorse Me in the WEGO Health Awards!

WEGO Health nominee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEGO Health Awards – I have been nominated in two categories! #WEGOHealthAwards

2018-Awards-46This week I have been surprised and a little overwhelmed to find that I have been nominated in 2 categories for the WEGO Health Awards!

These awards are particularly special as nominees are described as a “Patient Leader” and “Advocate” – and I find myself mentioned alongside some Health blogging royalty.  A huge honour and very exciting.

“WEGO Health is a mission-driven company connecting healthcare with the experience, skills, and insights of patient leaders. They are the world’s largest network of patient leaders, working across virtually all health conditions and topics. Click here to learn more about their Patient Leader Network. The WEGO Health Awards were created to celebrate those who tirelessly support the mission of WEGO Health: to empower the patient voice. With 16 award categories, the WEGO Health Awards are the only awards across all conditions and platforms, that recognize the over 100 thousand inspiring Patient Leaders who raise awareness, share information, and support their communities – but often without recognition.”

WEGO nomination

When I was first medically retired, I found the amazing world of bloggers and completely unexpected online support from those who had been through similar health experiences.  Strangers who understood – I was bowled over that so many were happy to share experiences & lend an ear, but also to how many are living everyday with a variety of health conditions.  This is what inspired me to start PainPals – if I can offer some support as well as take it, give friendship as well as make it and offer some words (I stop short of saying wisdom) and humour about living with a family and chronic illness – then I am happy!

From the blog has come working with the disability organisation Scope, and I have been so pleased to be able to be the online Chronic Pain Advisor – even though my own flares have kept me away at times.

So here I am, nearly 3 years on from my spinal cord stimulator implant and so nearly 3 years on from starting this blog.  I find writing therapeutic on so many levels and find myself nominated for “Best Kept Secret” and “Best in Show:Blog” – thank you so much!

If….you would be happy to have a look at my Nominee Profile and endorse me, that would be fantastic. Take a look at some of the other great nominees too!

Endorse me here: 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Chronic Pain – The online #Scope community

For the next fortnight the focus for the Scope online community  forum is “Chronic Pain”.

To kick the discussion off, I am delighted to have my own poem “Today You Beat Me” featured and as the Chronic Pain Advisor hope to be “chatting” online with lots of you – visit the forum here Scope.

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Lets talk about chronic pain

Next week two of my favourite pain bloggers will be featured – Ali from Notebooks and Glasses and Barbara at  Back Pain Blog UK– so it would be great if you would drop by, give them some support  and check the community out!  Please pass the details on to anyone who might benefit!

What is Scope?

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Scope is a charity that exists to make this country (UK) a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we’ll be here.

Scope has recently reviewed research to produce a document called the Disability Perception Gap.  The resulting report examines the attitudes and prejudices that disabled people face and also the perception that the public has of disability.

The full report can be read here.

Visit the Scope website to learn more about the support, information and community that the charity can offer.

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Good evening!  It has been a busy day here, what with scheduling for Chronic Illness Bloggers, checking out a friend’s vicar mate to be our quiz master, trying to get on track with Chronic Pain queries on Scope…and passing out in the heat.  Hence I am only finishing this post tonight.

Monday Magic 16th July

 

One son has just returned from the Ukraine and a dose of radiation on a trip around Chernobyl (they found it fascinating and the photos show a strange dystopian type of vacant world), and now the other is about to jet off to a music festival in Barcelona.  Dad’s cab is getting very good a early morning airport runs!  We have 2 extra young men coming back to sleep on our sofas tonight before they are deposited at the airport for 7.30 flights tomorrow morning.  “Where are you staying when you get there?”  “We’re camping” “But you hate camping!  Do you have a tent?” “No, we’ve got a few hours when we get to Barcelona so we’ll get something then”!!  Nothing like being prepared.  The lovely girl is slightly better prepared for her trip to Greece next weekend as she orders shorts and bikini and has already checked in.  I mustn’t forget Mum & Dad either who have just returned from a cruise in France – Paris to Normandy, where they witnessed the jubilation at the World Cup semi final win, narrowly missing the actual final – or my sister in law and nephew, currently in Turkey.  Now I wonder where hubby might take me?

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Deserted city of Pripyat, within the Chernobyl exclusion zone

Those of you who read my post at the end of last week will know that a pain flare in the current UK heatwave has been causing me some grief and I haven’t managed as much reading as I would ordinarily.  But, I have managed to find some posts from some different bloggers and I hope you enjoy them as much as me.  Mascara warning for Hello My Name is Grief.

Sit down, grab a cuppa or a wine glass and get ready to read some great posts!

https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/the-glitterati-affair/article/learning-to-say-no

https://silencekilledthedinosaurs.com/2018/07/12/hello-my-name-is-grief/

https://diaryofapainfullyshyinterovert.wordpress.com/2018/07/11/im-totally-not-coping-right-now-but-im-extremely-frightened-of-any-mental-health-service/

http://bystarbysea.com/importance-of-rest-days/

https://teaandcakeforthesoul.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/menopausal-beach-body-blues/

https://kateonthinice.com/important-life-lessons-for-your-kids-before-they-head-off-to-university/

https://mummyhereandthere.co.uk/2018/07/10/10-best-life-tips/

https://girlinhealing.com/italian-grilled-zucchini-2/

https://veroniiiica.com/2018/07/16/fast-facts-about-plastic-straw-bans-for-people-with-disabilities/

https://www.britmums.com/2018/07/doubled-traffic-using-key-word-search/?ct=t(8_march_newsletter3_8_2016_COPY_01)

Like, comment and share these posts if you enjoy them.

Have a great week,

Claire x

Blog Tour and Book Review – “Blind Justice” by Alex Tresillian – Seeing is Deceiving #LoveBooksGroupTour

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THE NEW NIALL BURNET THRILLER!

Synopsis supplied by the publisher:

Superstar Paralympian Fiona Mackintosh Green retires from the track to set up Forward Roll, a charity helping disabled people achieve self-respect through sport. But is she all she seems? How is her charity spending its money?

Niall Burnet, visually impaired journalist, is sent in undercover to find out. What he discovers is a trail of illegal performance-enhancing drugs that leads from the charity to its major backer, global pharmaceutical giant Prince Rajkumar.

All too soon, Niall finds himself surrounded by key players who will stop at nothing to protect their interests. When a former athlete is found dead, he knows that one wrong move could be his last…

Book info:

Publication Day: 5th July 2018
Publisher: Urbane Publications
ISBN: 978-1911331117
Pages: 336
Category: Fiction, Genre: Conspiracy Thriller | Political Thriller | Action Thriller

Buying links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2vU1bdE
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2HFMNep
Foyles: http://bit.ly/2HE6cfD
Waterstones: http://bit.ly/2HLBe1t

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Review:

This is the sequel to Eyes of the Blind, Alex Tresillian’s first novel about journalist Niall Burnet.  I have not read the first and feel that this can easily be read as a stand alone tale, but those of you who have read my reviews in the past will know that I personally prefer to have read books from number one. Personal preference!  In this case the storyline from the first book does continue into this novel, and whilst there is sufficient explanation to be able to easily follow, I would always recommend reading book one!  However the opening scenes set in Telford draw the reader into the plot, slowly allowing a catch up on the story of Niall and Miranda before the new investigation commences.

When this book popped onto my radar I was excited to read and review something that has different types of disability at the fore and keen to understand how the author would incorporate them into the storyline.  It would have been easy to have the disability element as a token nod, but I don’t believe that this is how the author constructs this story as the visual impairment of Niall and the new sight of girlfriend Miranda are central to the plot – as they would have been in the first book too.  However this is dealt with in a very matter of fact way, allowing us into Niall’s world as a blind man but more importantly into his world as a journalist – no saccharine coating in sight (no pun intended).

The introduction of Paralympian Fiona is handled differently as she is a celebrity as a result of her disability and her sporting success, but her disability is written about sympathetically without it enveloping her whole character.  As a relatively new wheelchair user, I was able to relate to certain elements very well.  These aren’t a major part of the storyline, neither should they be, but the descriptions of the lay out of her office furniture and the adapted shower room all rang bells with me – as did her need for help to get into her evening dress!  The public face and the private face are elements that anyone with a disability/chronic illness can relate to – no one wants the lack of dignity that can come with wheelchair use being played in public.  This is demonstrated so well as Fiona explains how she manages her bladder – as a young woman she wishes to have as much control over her body functions for as long as possible, and if this means “toiletting” every hour in order to avoid accidents, but also to avoid a catheter then so be it.  Again this is something that I relate to personally, as someone with a neurogenic bladder who tries to avoid self catheterisation!

I have to applaud the author for recognising that disabled people have sex lives!  This may seem a very odd thing to draw from the book, but there does tend to be a fear and embarrassment of recognising those of us with disabilities and chronic health as being sexual beings.  I’m not going to give any spoilers about specific relationships in the book, but will say that the growing attractions and feelings are described sensitively and with the focus on the emotions of any growing relationship, not on the abilities of either party.

The characters are all really different and make for an interesting cast as their back stories and current stories start to intertwine the more that Niall investigates.  Niall himself is loved by some of this cast and yet reviled by others, particularly some who have known him many years.  I actually admire Niall for sticking to his beliefs for right and wrong – most of the time! – and for striving for justice.  He certainly doesn’t take the easy route, extending himself beyond the original journalistic brief to expose the sports charity, when he realises that he could be onto a much greater story – the involvement of a major pharmaceutical giant in doping in athletes.  As an ambitious journalist, of course he is following the bigger scoop – but his human side is shown as he refuses to write an expose on the small sports charity that he believes can still do much good.  Niall is a flawed character in so many ways, but this makes him human.  He has mixed emotions about Miranda gaining her sight – envy, guilt, fear, delight – all swirling around inside him like a pressure cooker, yet he is unable to acknowledge most of them far less verbalise them.

Miranda, in contrast,  at times is a rather pathetic figure in the way that she comes across.  I think my feelings toward her were something of disbelief and anger that she is so apathetic about the miracle of gaining her sight, but it is only as the story progresses that I realised how hard it must be to suddenly be living in the sighted world after 30 years of being “cocooned” by both her lack of sight and her family’s protectiveness.  The descriptions of managing public transport in London for the time alone are beautifully written – navigating the underground for the first time is a challenge for anyone, but for a young woman who has never been able to see before this represents a whole visual stimulus overload!  Miranda is the character who grows the most throughout the book.  She is neglected by Niall on the move to London and this pushes her to examine what she wants from her life.  She feels unskilled and at sea in the sighted world, yet she knows she wants a purpose.  Her crippling anxiety both holds her back and drives her forward.  by the time I reached the end of the book, my opinion of her had changed completely.

The backing cast include Fiona’s chauvinistic sports coach husband – described perfectly to elicit strong feelings of dislike in the reader; Zoltan, Miranda’s knight in shining armour; the men, including Miranda’s father, who form an “old boys’ network” at the centre of the other charity in the story and believe that they are untouchable; the strong Dame Hillary, brought in to overhaul the British association for the Blind yet finding herself drawn in to conspiracies and secrets; and finally the cast of workmates at the Sports Charity, all with their unique insights into the organisation.

The theme of drugs in sports is very topical and the investigation at the heart of the novel is fast, gritty, at times uncovers a seedy, dark underbelly that is unpalatable yet fascinating.  The different attitudes to what constitutes “cheating” are interesting and the author indirectly asks the question “what is a level playing field?”.  Morals, greed and money, dreams and aspiration, drive and ambition – all are central to the plot.

There are loose ends at the end, and whilst this is not a criticism as real life does not come gift boxed, I do want to know what happens to certain characters……and I hope that these incomplete tales mean that Mr Tresillian is planning for a return of Niall in a third book.  I guess that this tells you how much I enjoyed it!! 4 stars

Thankyou to Kelly at Love Books Group for including me on this tour and to Urbane Publications for sending me a copy of the book.  Please note that all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

Alex grew up in rural England with a dream to write for a living which never quite came true. He has enjoyed incarnations as a theatre publicity officer, restaurant manager, teacher, teacher trainer, and curriculum developer. Along the way Alex wrote five plays that were performed by students including one, Never Mind the Rain Forests, that was enthusiastically reviewed (3 stars) at the Edinburgh Fringe. Another, Gavin’s Kingdom, received a professional workshop production at the Birmingham Rep. Plays Into Shakespeare, a book for English and Drama teachers that introduced students to the characters in Shakespeare’s plays through short modern-English ‘additional’ scenes, was published by First and Best in Education in 2007.Alex Tresillian Author Image

Alex moved to Abu Dhabi in 2008 with a Lebanese international education company that had a contract to train English teachers and develop curriculum materials. Latterly moved to their Academic Development office in Beirut and wrote two series of books for students from ages eight to sixteen – one on grammar and one on the art of writing. He is now living with his wife of many years in Worcestershire, his children pursuing careers in education, fashion, charity fundraising and web development in places as disparate as Beijing, London and Chesterfield. Alex also enjoys writing stories for his young grandchildren.

Social Media Links for Alex

Website: https://urbanepublications.com/authors/alex-tresillian/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Alex_Tresillian