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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Good evening everyone!

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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.

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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.

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

blingd justice

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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Blind Justice pin

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

 

Be the Best Version of Yourself

I’m in the midst of a flare.

More specifically the pain from nerve root damage in my back is uncontrolled.  Driving me insane! Those of you who have been Pals for some time will know that this pain is usually tamed by my spinal cord stimulator – an implant that scrambles the pain signals to my brain – but this week there is a battle going on between my body, the stimulator and my head…..physical, psychological and emotional.  The heat and humidity is ensuring that the other pains in my joints and soft tissues are also flaring and my autonomic nervous system has frankly gone haywire.

The changes in air pressure and temperature have always affected the metal skeleton that bolts the bottom of my bony spine together.  This spinal fusion currently hurts – it hurts at the immediate vertebra level above the fusion (my EDS means the spine overextends even more due to the bones below being fixed); it hurts in the bones that have been cemented and screwed together with titanium nuts and bolts; it hurts in the surrounding muscles and soft tissues trying to hold the whole lot together.  In fact as it starts to feel more stormy, I am certain that the titanium is about to break loose and rip through my skin, which feels like it is stretched tighter than a drum.

 

 

 

I feel that I should at least be able to use this time and be useful. Write, read, catch up – but the symptoms have a way of robbing that time and creating a thick pea souper of brain fog and fatigue.  Concentration is poor and I seem to spend periods of time lying on the floor, unable to do anything – this post is taking hours to write.

I am irritable, stroppy, snapping at the family.  My patience level is zero.

I feel that I let myself and others down as I crawl between the sofa and the floor and bed.  I know that staying still is the worst thing to do, but is is tricky to keep up that physical exercise that we are told we must do when in the thick of a flare.  There is so much advice out there for coping with flares and chronic pain, the majority well intended, but there is no one size fits all or one quick fix.  We are all different.

I have made this flare worse!  Wise? Probably not.  Worth it? Definitely!  Tuesday evening we attended Prize giving at the lovely girl’s school  – she protested that I didn’t need to go,  but I was determined I would see her mount the stage!  It was hot, there were performances, there were presentations to the year groups, there were presentations and words about every girl leaving the sixth form, there was the guest speaker’s speech.  Then there was yours truly sat in my wheelchair – slap bang in the middle of the front row!  A perk of needing more space to accommodate your wheels, but a definite disadvantage for quietly creeping out.  When the dodgy shoulder slipped out of socket and the neck and whole arm started to shake with spasm, I couldn’t even have a sneaky puff on my Medipen CBD vape – best birthday present ever!! (more of that in another post). Might have raised a few eyebrows!

It was tough sitting still for so long and I had the feeling that my head was too big and heavy for my neck to support – lollipop head, but the guest speaker, an old girl of the school, left a lasting impression.  Currently a senior figure in one of the “Big Four” accounting organisations, she spoke to the students about achieving their potential in whatever they chose to do – she said that whilst she knew she would never be saving lives, making significant discoveries or winning a peace prize, she had tried to be the best version of herself.

Mauve balloons

“Be the best version of yourself” – isn’t this something worth striving for no matter our individual circumstances? I have been thinking this week that even with a chronic illness there still a best version of you and of me.  It may not be the same version from 20 years ago, and it sure as hell isn’t the best version that I had envisaged, but isn’t that true for everyone?  Circumstances change and so do we.  The 18 year olds who released balloons from the drinks reception after the ceremony have their lives ahead of them – exciting futures that will mould them and change them.

I won’t lie – the best version of me has not been a pretty sight nor one I particularly like this week! But it is something that I will strive for, and if my semi-adult kids can learn from this and try to be the best version of themselves, then I can be happy.

I’m in the midst of a flare – but it will end!

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Best version of yourself

 

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What do I want to become?

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Part 1: As I see the sun settle & darkness conquer the sky, the question begins to grow. It wasn’t the first time that someone insisted me to think on it. I still don’t have an answer. I have a list, list of things I would like to do, list of everything that I want. Maybe it’s supposed to be like that. Maybe we are supposed to live our lives doing things & wanting things, one at a time. Maybe we don’t have to become anything, we just need to fill in the empty spaces with all the experiences & stories.
Maybe we have to become something, but if that’s true, then what are we now?

Part 2: I say ‘I will do something!’ and put an end to it, or I say about what I am studying and hence it’s clear to the person who asked the question but…

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