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Forget the pill and a muse on periods

Aha. She's talking about ladies' stuff. Ew.

So here's the deal. I've been on the pill for about a year and a half now. In the first few months I was having 2 periods a month, which was a bit annoying but I assumed it would take a little time to sort itself out and my body to adjust to a new rhythm. And it sort of, kinda did settle down a little bit.

When I had to go on two lots of antibiotics recently - one of which being a massive dose, the pill went totally haywire and hasn't returned my body to any sense of normality since. I went about 11 weeks with no period (and two sets of slightly panicked pregnancy tests during that time) then, starting from the week we went camping, which let's not forget, was the beginning of August, I've had *three* periods, the most recent of which is verging on a frickin' haemorrage, or that's what it feels like. A *huge* amount of energy sapping blood has just been evacuating my body in the last three days. And by 'blood' women will recognise the different between pure, watery blood and the gloopy heavy stuff that one associates with periods. Really freaky, unnerving stuff. Nearly went for an emergency doc appointment this morning but have stopped taking the pill (obviously) and am hoping it's going to calm down. I'm slightly nervous about anaemia.

So back to the docs shortly to say "What else can you give me" but I am *very* wary of the pill indeed now.

Is there any other reason I'd be losing blood? Ooh, a bit freaked out by the thoughts that occur after asking that question, but the fact is, I've also got awful abdominal cramp / dragging pain so it's pretty much menstruation related.

Lastly on this subject, it is extremely rare that women (at least on blogs that I read) will ever talk about periods for any reason. I have always found it desperately annoying that over 50% of the population at one time or another has to put up with this most annoying sign of fertility and yet it remains ludicrously taboo. It would certainly not be polite on Twitter to comment "Christ, I have bad period pains this morning". THe perpetrator of such a crime would come off as a rabid feminist-loon. And yet, the taboo nature of the discussion means that when one buys Tampax at a petrol station at 4 in the morning  (thanks for that), the chap says "Would you like a little bag for that"? What? It's a single box! I think I'm capable of holding it. Ah, but the it would be 'on show' wouldn't it. I'm not griping at the bloke, as such. More the ridiculous taboo that makes the subject so awkward. If we could, please, just talk about it a little more and accept it as normal, then maybe newsagents in train stations would be able to stock emergency supplies. There's a terrible sin of omission in the utter lack of women's sanitary product' availability in train stations, leaving one to, in emergency situations, stuff a load of tissue artfully up the chuff. Not desirable. Very occasionally, when changing one's used equipment at home, the aforementioned equipment is left by the loo instead of being put in the bin. Until I berated my beloved about it, he used to discuss that in terms which denoted the whole concept as utterly disgusting. It's not disgusting. It's not! Shitting in the bath is disgusting. Leaving one's tampax on a folded piece of tissue and forgetting to plonk it in a bin is so far from disgusting, it's just 'a bit annoying'.

And a small related word on that topic. If the concept of periods is treated as 'disgusting', then we, women, are forced in to a position of apology, or even, bizarrely, shamefulness about this entirely natural, normal, everyday  phenomena. That, my friends is the fucking left over superstitious crap of the stone age, and "aaargh!" would be my final (if somewhat stone age and strangulated) comment on that, through simple inability to adequately express how angry that makes me. IT IS NORMAL. How many more years of human development do we have to go through before when we say we're not feeling well, we can just say, comfortably, "I've got hellish period pain" to person X, be they men, women, friend or stranger?

Anyway. So. Be normal about periods and mention them if they're on your mind, to women or men. That's what I think. And meanwhile, I've stopped taking the pill.

...but don't expect new small humans from my body any time soon.


Oh oh! James can cycle!

I came home the other day to be told to sit down and close my eyes. A t shirt was put in to my hands. I opened my eyes and found it to be an hilarious "Hurley" shirt, with the logo looking very Hells Angels-ish. The kids found it new in a charity shop. I wore it yesterday on the bike, suitably proud ;)

Next, James took my hand and dragged me to the back garden (in my dressing gown, having taken all my sweaty bike gear off) to show me that he can cycle without stabilisers! A massive hug for my brilliant boy. Yay!

Now they can both cycle without stabilisers and I am soooooo happy.We knew that James would be off his stabilisers shortly after Nor, given that his balance is exceptional compared to hers - and more to the point I'm sure he's internally competing.

On that note, McK will be getting a bike shortly, after which we'll be getting two 'follow on' things that you can attach to your own bike, which consist of most of the workings of a mini-bike except the front wheel, so small person, equipped with helmet, can go along behind you as you take them off on a nice ride to somewhere like Wimbledon / Mitchum Common or Richmond Park or the like. I've wanted to get one for myself for aaaages, so now we'll have two, on two bikes and we're all off out on a nice Sunday ride.

So. Everything good today. Yay! No, I tell a lie. I think I need new specs. Closer upper things have started looking a bit fuzzy. Boo!

The end.



Everything you need to know about Nits

At least I hope this is. We seem to be half way through a removal regime which may, *may* be working. After an initial treatment *seemed* not to work we did a bunch of research on the web, which came from a variety of sources (not all of the useful info in one place) so here's what it all boils down to, to save you the hassle of going elsewhere (or go to websites promoting treatments).

1. There are three sorts of treatment:

a) Nit comb and natural oils. Basic rundown: forget it as a sole solution. Doesn't capture the eggs. You'll be at it for months.

b) Insecticides: bad for kids with eczema and asthma which generally speaking looks like you  wouldn't want it near your grandmother anyway, but the estimation is that this is about 30% less potent than it was 20 years ago because of the increasing resistance from the insects. There's one insecticide as a last resort that's only available on prescription, which I presume is to limit the lice' exposure to it and keep it more potent.

My thought here is, if there's an alternative solution available, go that way rather than use insecticide.

c) Silcon based gel. This is the one we're using. We bought Hedrin 15 minutes single treatment, which does not work as it says it should, but *does* work in exactly the way a silicon based gel should. The gel envelopes the live lice, making them unable to breathe. We left the gel on wayyyy longer than 15 mins, btw. Rinsing off this horrendous goo is time consuming and horrible since it doesn't foam and sticks to *everything*, so 3 shampoos later, hair was goo free. The dead lice wash away, leaving the eggs still attached to the hair. Regardless of the various claims on the packet, these eggs *will* hatch. They will all hatch within seven days of treatment. There will, therefore be tiny wee lice making your / your kid's head itch almost straight away after the treatment. Never fear. The natural life cycle  - and this is a really important point - means that the lice will not be mature enough to lay eggs for *19* days. I'll return to the significance of this.

This is where combing comes in. Wet the hair of your kid because it's kinder, and comb through thoroughly from root to tip, over and over, and you'll see the little gits on the comb. for interest's sake only, what I did was rinse the comb in a wee pot of water and collected them to see how many were there at the end (I then poured that out on to a kitchen roll based filter, so we could look at the debris. It's very satisfying to take a kitchen roll piece full of tiny wriggling legs and throw it in the bin!). Anyway, if you go at it for long enough you will have a fairly large harvest of squigglers. Remember that at this stage, there are *no new eggs being laid*, so every single louse removed from the head is a chunk less itching in between treatments. We've been combing through every day, to get rid of the build up from the eggs that will still be hatching, but I can tell you, Nora was scratching a hell of alot less this morning.

So. The gloopy silicon based gel treatment should be repeated after seven days. All of the eggs previously laid will then be hatched, and the hopefully very few lice that are on the head are immature. Don't stint, give that head an overdose of goo and leave it on for ages. We're at that stage on Wednesday / Thursday so with any luck, no more itching after then. Cross fingers.


Other useful things to know to ease your nit journey:

-The itching is a hystamic response to the insect bites, just like any other insect bite. Therefore itching should reduce at least a reasonable amount if you give yourself / your kid an anti-hystamine.

-They die shortly after leaving your head if they haven't managed the jump to anyone else's, because apparently they feed almost constantly and dry out quickly away from the source. Therefore hairbrushes, bedding, clothes, furniture etc - you're pretty much fine. They won't drop off on to furniture, they cling on for grim death. No point risking it and using the same hairbrush straight away on someone else, but give it two or three hours and it'll be fine. And they won't fall off on your pillow so you can re-catch the nits next time you go to bed.

Hopefully that's been helpful.

(Update one: So we all had the second treatment yesterday. The kids and McK watched Mary Poppins and had the goo on for the whole duration; I watched Galaxy Quest in the evening. I had to keep my cycle helmet on when I got home in order to avoid our hair touching. After the treatment and 3 shampoos later, I know several gits had washed away with the silicon slop. I used a nit comb anyway and found one reasonably large monster which really didn't seem to be moving at all, and a few empty egg case bits. That was about it. CROSSING FINGERS!)

(Update two: well the kids are definitely nit free. We did a couple of combings with them both after the second shampoo and there has been absolutely no itching - and there was no evidence of anythign bar some empty husk egg cases which are now gone after the second comb through. I keep feeling 'ghost' itches - no idea if they're live buggers or not. I hope to God not or we're cursed with going through the whole thing again. However, they're still within the 'non fertile' part of their cycle so if we all have a 3rd shampoo, that should be it, given that they were all supposed to have been born within seven days (but maybe some weren't, and then survived the hour and a half of Hedrin with added egg-killer. It's always possible).

(Update three: Oh, I forgot to say - no nits. All gone. Two treatments in total, as above so the whole thing only took a week. My vote therefore goes with disgusting, horrible silicon gel left on for ages and combing in between).

Greenpeace action in the US - you might want to join in?

Timely reminder from Greenpeace US with regard to congress and their entirely predictable recent behaviour. Ben Kroetz explains it way better than I can (even including the "Heck" - well, the man is incensed!).

"The Gulf spill is the largest environmental disaster in American history, but Congress has done NOTHING to pass a clean energy climate bill.

Heck, the Senate can’t even pass an oil spill response bill. So how exactly does this happen? While there’s no one single answer to that question, one that needs to receive a lot more attention is the huge amount of money the fossil fuel industry throws around in Washington.

During this session of Congress alone, oil and coal companies have spent almost $15,000,000 on direct political contributions to our elected officials. And you can’t say that they don’t get their money’s worth. Their investment buys weak environmental regulations, giant subsidies for their companies and a national energy policy that keeps us dependent on dirty energy even in the face of disasters like the BP tragedy in the Gulf."

He invites you, yes, you, US resident, to download a toolkit to kick start you calling on your Congress representative, in order to at least give them some hassle, and let them know of your repulsion at their actions.

The whole funding thing is such a nightmare. It's just as bad in the UK, it's just that we're smaller, so it involves less money and seems more brazenly crass, somehow. It usually ends up involving McDonalds sponsoring a healthy eating forum at a (in power, natch) party conference or something.

Don't just sit there, as they say.


Holiday: a bit rainy. Camping for a 4 person family for 11 days in a vast old-school tent: knackering.

Pembrokeshire is rather lovely though, and the cliffs and rock formations are so stonkingly beautiful I am even more convinced that there's a version of me in an alternate universe somewhere that is happily beavering away as a research geologist.

We went on a birdwatching trip around Skomer, which was not as wonderful as it could have been due to lack of Puffins (2 in total) but saw their wee holes all dotted along the cost, looking for all the world like strange old-world human communities carved out of rock mountain sides. We went further out to see the divine looking Manx Sheerwaters shooting in to the water, diving for their suppers. Thousands and thousands of them, looking for all the world like oversized Swallows. So perfect. it felt like being in the middle of a really fantastic nature film. Apart from the waves.

I really dislike being on the sea. I dislike it because it is an awesome, astonishing thing that could flip you in to its freezing arms in a moment and drag your weakling human arse to its bosom, only to spit you out hours or days later, further up the shore. If at all. On a wee tugboat, sometimes going parallel to the waves instead of meeting them head on (they were not big waves, btw), on occasion the pitch and toss means you're looking at a wall of water on one side of the boat. Even with small, insignificant, no white-horses type of waves! Nora, fantastically, was terrified for the first bit of the journey, but she gritted her teeth and by the time we were travelling home, there she was at the back of the boat, surveying the sea, head up, having conquered her fear. Brilliant little girl. James meanwhile was fine until the last ten minutes, when the motion began to get to him, but only mildly.

And they saw a Puffin! So now they have one on the fridge.

Many photos will make their way to Flickr but in the meantime, I want to tell you that if you have any empathy with the sea at all, or whales (as opposed to Wales), or indeed, you have ever read Moby Dick and enjoyed it you absolutely must, I demand, read "Leviathan" by Philip Hoare. It's so wonderfully mental, and brilliant, and enthralling and so beautifully written... I missed it every time I had to put it down.  And, extraordinarily, part way through I discovered that the Whalers from Nantucket negotiated a british whaling post at Milford Haven, which was the biggest town closet to where we were staying. That was a hell of a peculiar coincidence. A quick trip to their charming small museum and a whole bunch of information about Milford Haven's early history, alongside two wonderful examples of "Scrimshaw" fitted like an extra, beautifully carved and unexpected jigsaw piece in to my Leviathan experience.

Turned out, by the way, that the chap who negotiated with the Nantucket Quakers, and who made the small town of Milford Haven quite economically prosperous for a long time was none other than Lord Hamilton. He of Lady Emma Hamilton / Nelson fame. So now you know.

Nora had tears in her eyes that we were going. James wants to go back and stay for 100 days.