Chronic illness · Fibromyalgia · Health

Living with a flare

As I type this I am sat on my sofa in my PJ’s watching the Eurovision Song Contest and having a chuckle at Graham Norton’s quips at each artist. Its my annual guilty pleasure and even though I am in the midst of a fibro flare, I REFUSE to miss it!

The other significance of today is that it is International Fibromyalgia Awareness day. I am writing this particular blog to raise awareness of the disease and its effect on sufferers.

This time a week ago I was feeling a bit run down and as if I had a bit of a bug coming on. Little did I realise that I was about to have my first experience of a flare since getting my fibro diagnosed and, well….what I thought was….under control. After a few days of feeling like I did before starting medication in March, I realised I needed to see my GP who informed me that I was “in a flare”.  I’m very lucky to have an amazing GP who is extremely supportive. She doubled the dose of one of my meds and I will be seeing her again in 6 weeks or before if needs be.

I suppose I started writing this because I wanted to explain what a flare feels like. I seem to be quite unlucky as I seem to suffer from most of the “possible” symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

One of the symptoms I get is excruciating abdominal pain, I suffer with IBS every day anyway, but when my fibro is bad it seems to turn into Colitis. This means lots of time on the toilet in lots of pain and sometimes lots of blood. The most common fibro symptom is widespread body pain. My painful spots are my hips, lower back knees and shoulders……..but at the moment I have pain EVERYWHERE! I am struggling to hold things because my hands and fingers are so painful. It hurts to walk, to sit down…..it’s basically impossible to ignore the nagging pain all over your body. This can make it impossible to get a decent nights sleep…….and to top it off chronic fatigue is also a massive issue for me. You know that feeling of utter exhaustion that you have only felt a couple of times in your life? That’s how I feel most days.

I also suffer with some very strange sensations on my head and around my face….I get a tingling sensation at the back of my head that works its way forward over my scalp to my forehead, then I get a sharp pain that sits above my left eye and usually develops into a migraine. I also get tingling feelings that spread from my left ear across my face to above my lip and across my nose, leaving my face numb. This is usually when I get twitches under and over either eye and around my mouth. It’s a bit bizarre to see, but even weirder to feel!

Another of my symptoms is vertigo and when I am in a flare I get a sensation of shaking……like a tremor that goes with it. Sometimes it is visible, other times it isn’t. Sometimes I can feel it only in my arms, other times it feels like its going through my whole body and I honestly feel like a nodding dog!!

One of the most distressing symptoms that I have experienced is chest pain. It isn’t like a dull ache, it actually feels like someone is stabbing me right in the centre of my chest. When this comes on I have to work really hard not to panic and make it worse. I’m getting used to it now, so don’t tend to get as anxious about it as I used to.

My cognitive function is a massive issue when I’m poorly like this. I forget things. I bump into things, I drop things. I’ve fallen over. I find myself having what can only be described as vacant moments where I genuinely have no idea what I’m doing! I often struggle to find words and I’ve noticed that my vocabulary has reduced greatly. I forget peoples names while they are stood right in front of me. It’s all a bit frustrating!

I have joint hypermobility syndrome, and when I am in a flare you can literally hear my joints creaking, cracking and popping! It can be quite painful and can sometimes feel like my joints are about to bend in the wrong direction!

To be honest, I could go on and on. But, we’re on song number 25 at Eurovision (Cyprus) and its 10.05pm which is about the time that my brain goes into shut down. Please, please share this post if you can. Even if I can just make a handful of people more aware of Fibromyalgia I would be so happy!

Thanks for reading you lovely people.

Chronic illness · Diagnosis · Fibromyalgia · Health

Fibro-me-whatty?!

It’s been a long old time since my last blog post, and for that I apologise. I have been intending to write this blog for what seems an age, however, events kept over taking me to the point where I decided to delay writing it until things seemed a bit calmer and……..well, just generally better.

So, once again, I shall start this blog at the beginning of my journey.

The first time I can remember being really ill as a child, was having mumps. I remember walking with my Mum down the road of the village that we lived in and feeling so, so poorly. But, I don’t really remember having any real problems with my health until I was around 10 – 11. At this time I remember that I used to suffer with Tonsillitis on what seemed like a regular basis.

I started my periods when I was aged 11 and my Mum has recently reminded me that I started to get tonsillitis every time I had a period…..weird huh? Aged 12, I started to have these really strange episodes during the first few days of my periods. I have since been diagnosed with an extreme cervix vasovagal response. This starts with the sweats and the obvious severe period cramping, I start to feel very weak (and by that point I know whats coming, but I am totally unable to stop it!!!), I sometimes vomit, the episode usually progresses to a point where I experience loss of vision, I am unable to move and speak. My heart rate and blood pressure drop by this point and I very much feel on the edge of consciousness. An episode can last anything from 1 hour beginning to end, to 3 hours. Once the episode is over, I can come around quite quickly but, as I have got older, I now find that it takes days to recover. I’m sure it sounds very dramatic to anyone who has not experienced or seen anything like that, and it is, especially for a teenage girl as I was when I first started to experience it. During my lifetime I have managed to scare the life out of several friends, teachers, my brother, employers, my parents and various onlookers through this.

Aged 13 I had my tonsils removed. I think my Parents both hoped that this would be the answer to a lot of my problems. By this time, I was starting to have to take a lot of time off school and it was having quite an effect. I remember, for around 12 months feeling so much better and experiencing better health. However,  I then seemed to develop a tendency towards bronchitis and ear infections. My period problems also meant that I continued to have to take time off school. On several occasions, my poor Mum had to dash to collect me after I had collapsed or vomited at school. By age 14 it was apparent to me that people were doubting of the reality of my health problems. Kids are kids, and there is no surprise really that even my friends at the time doubted that I was ill when I had time off. But I distinctly remember being shown up by teachers several times who passed comments on my absence.

It’s around this time, that I distinctly remember anxiety starting. Anxiety about having to catch up with school work, anxiety that people didn’t believe me, anxiety that I knew it was only a matter of time before I was ill again.

The last couple of years at school I was lucky to have some great friends who really helped me get through. I remember feeling like a very awkward teenage girl. I was overweight, I struggled with embarrassment over my health. I got through my GCSE’s with fairly good results all things considered. My next step was ‘A’ levels……….and boy did I start to struggle. I was quite active at this time and used to do a lot of cycling, this is when I started to shed my “puppy fat”. I started taking the combined pill around this time too and it massively helped with my “women’s problems”. However, I found I was starting to suffer more and more with anxiety. I was always tired, but I put this down to nights out that I was having with friends.

As I headed into my twenties I piled on weight. I was finding that fatigue was having a massive effect on my life. If any virus was going around it always seemed to be that I would pick it up and take longer and longer to recover from it. Again, I remember suffering from the usual anxiety and even depression by this stage. I’d also gained so much weight that I was no longer able to take the combined pill that used to help with my periods, so I was back to struggling with those problems.

My working life was always a struggle due to ill health. I did my best to look after myself and to drag myself through illness as much as possible, but sometimes it just wasn’t possible. It would get to a stage where I would suffer that much more because I had tried to struggle on. I had begun to notice that fatigue was becoming a massive issue. I was suffering massively with anxiety and depression due to feeling so ill regularly, but also because I was constantly having to explain myself to people and I could see that often people didn’t believe me. I then began to doubt myself……maybe I’m not ill, maybe I’m just lazy. A dangerous cycle of self loathing began.

I say dangerous, because it meant that I didn’t take my health problems as seriously as I should have done. I started to believe that I just had to “DEAL WITH IT”, that ridiculous phrase that is so readily banded about in society these days.

And so I muddled on.

In the summer of 2009 I ended up with Swine Flu. Boy, was that a stinker.

During this year, I decided I needed to change my life as it was so obviously missing something. I suppose its not easy to find focus when you’re living something, but it hadn’t dawned on me that perhaps my life was missing good health.

In September 2009 I started my nurse training. Ill health and fatigue ensued for obvious reasons. After several comments from various health professionals I was working with, it started to dawn on me that something wasn’t right.

In December 2010 my Dad passed away. I tried to get on with life, but poor health and grief had other ideas. After a couple of years of muddling between nurse training and jobs, I ended up with ulcerated tonsil beds. I remember thinking that I wasn’t seeming to get any better and then just before Christmas of that year I ended up in hospital with a PR bleed and severe abdominal pain. I was suffering from terribly low self esteem as I was struggling to complete my nurse training due to illness and fatigue was seriously kicking my backside. It was a frightening experience, BUT, with specialist intervention and regular GP visits I was starting to realise that I needed to fight to get some answers.

In 2013 I was diagnosed with Post Infection Colitis, Leaking Gut Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and I started to be investigated for Lupus. In 2014 I had James and for the 9 months of pregnancy and around 7 months afterwards, I was healthy……..it was fantastic.

However, in February 2015 I started to suffer from Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo……yep, try getting your tongue around that after a few drinks!

In September 2015, I once again went back to my nurse training. In December of that year, I met Neil (Horrraaaaaay!). Having a supportive partner made a massive difference.

In June 2016 I decided to apply for a job as I was finding the shifts with nursing such a struggle…..again, I put this down to being lazy rather than my health. I got the job and started in the August, I genuinely loved that job. However, by December I had already had to take time off sick and I was so run down and exhausted. New Year came and went and I was struggling massively with abdominal pain. I spent 5 days in hospital in February 2017. I felt so ill, but we weren’t really making any progress as to what was wrong with me. I was diagnosed with Diverticular Disease and another bout of Post Infection Colitis.

In June 2017 I handed my notice in. I was gutted, but I knew I wasn’t well enough to go back to it. By this point I think my brain was a bit addled……I realised I wasn’t well, but doctors still weren’t really able to explain why I was so poorly. I just wanted a normal happy life and by this time I had been brainwashed into thinking that half of my symptoms were down to either my weight or stress and I was convinced that everyone just thought I was lazy. I again tried to muddle on. That was a mistake. At the end of last year and beginning of this year I was so, so poorly. I went to one GP’s appointment with Neil, the GP I saw wasn’t my regular one and she basically suggested that perhaps it was all in my head. I cried for days…………I was on so much medication by then. It had all got unsustainable for so many reasons. Over Christmas, New Year and the first few weeks of January I ended up with pneumonia. This was possibly my lowest point as the pneumonia kicked off my colitis and vertigo big time. I was in a terrible state.

Something had to give. I couldn’t take much more. One of the most common symptoms of fibro is widespread pain, I had struggled with this for years. I had nothing left in my tanks and I knew if I didn’t get answers soon, I’d struggle to carry on.

After an MRI, abd various blood tests, I got to see my usual GP again in February and BAM………an answer. My vitamin D levels were rock bottom and “I believe you have Fibromyalgia”. What probably should have filled me with fear and dread, came as such a relief. I had a diagnosis!!!!!! I had an explanation. It was all real. Every awful, shitty, painful symptom that I had experienced existed. It wasn’t down to a flaw in my personality, It wasn’t imaginary. IT WAS REAL!

Fibromyalgia. Do any of you know what it is? I didn’t. It’s a disorder of the Central Nervous System and it is impossible to put into words how disgustingly ill it can make you. So, all those other quirky things I have been diagnosed with, I do have. But they are symptoms of my Fibromyalgia. Most people with Fibro that I have spoken to have taken YEARS to get a diagnosis, just like me. It’s a relatively newly recognised illness and therefore the medical profession is very much playing catch up with regards to research.

Is it something I have had all my life? I honestly don’t know and I suppose we never will. But my GP has suggested that it is a distinct possibility due to all of the problems I’ve faced.

My GP came up with a treatment plan. We had several options involving various medications, but she did me proud and started me off on just one to start with and it has done wonders to improve my symptoms in the 6 weeks I have been taking it. Obviously, no one wants to be reliant on medication for the rest of my life. But, I have accepted that this is an illness that I will always have and that if medication helps then I WILL be taking it.

The new medication has helped so much that I have been able to cut down on several of my other medications. How good is that?

My GP has drummed into me that I need to take life at my pace and not to over do things. But now I know what I’m dealing with, it’s easier to do that.

So basically, although it has been a massive struggle to get to this point, life is getting better. I am totally at peace with myself and my poor body. We have plans for the future and, providing I look after myself, I really do believe that I will soon be winning at life with Fibromyalgia!

grief · Uncategorized

Grief: A black hole or a challenging journey?

So, yeah. My first blog was about my weight struggles and my second blog is about grief! I promise I am actually a happy little soul and don’t wander through life like a black cloud looming on the horizon!

Grief is a subject that I think isn’t talked about enough, a bit like the subject of death itself really. And, I suppose if we’re honest, our experience of grief is greatly influenced by the way we view death.

I’ve been inspired to write about grief by recent events. One of my friends (who I don’t see anywhere near enough!) has recently lost her beloved Dad. There has been a myriad of ramifications of this, not only has this amazing woman had to deal with the emotional effects of losing her father, she also was responsible for nursing him in the last days of his life (she is a palliative care nurse). In the last two years she has had multiple surgeries and is continuing to battle Crohn’s disease and everything that comes with it. In the last 2 years, her life has been turned upside down……..and now she’s lost her Dad. One of her best friends. She isn’t sleeping and her Crohn’s has kicked off in a massive way. It’s hard to imagine how she must be feeling at the moment, but I should imagine that “Desolate” is probably a good word to use!

My first real experience of ‘grief’ was when I was 11 years old. It was the school summer holidays before I started secondary school and my Uncle died suddenly. At that age, it was impossible to comprehend the enormity of what had happened. All I really understood was that everyone was sad, I wouldn’t be seeing my favourite Uncle again…..and that made me feel very sad.

On the 17th December 2010 my Dad passed away after 10 days in hospital. He was 70 years old. I’m not going to waffle on about his medical history or what happened in those days that he was in hospital. All I will say is that Dad did have health problems, but in no way was his death expected. Right up until the moment the ITU nurse sat us in the relatives room and told us that Dad’s heart had stopped and they were attempting to resuscitate him, I had totally believed that he would pull through. At that second, it felt like my heart dropped into the souls of my feet……….and that’s where it seemed to stay for a good few years afterwards.

170364_10150115997874066_4879696_o

It’s so hard to explain how grief can impact on your life and I realise that everyone must have a unique experience. What I would say is that I found that it permeated into every aspect of my life.

I was in my second year of my nursing degree when Dad passed away. In the days after my Dad’s death, the absolute feeling of shock was replaced with an overbearing feeling of guilt. I felt that I had let Dad down and that, in some bizarre way, I should have been able to save him. I took an initial break for a few months and then went back to my studies. I found myself sitting in lectures listening to descriptions of pathophysiology that Dad had experienced during his time in hospital. I wouldn’t be able to focus and I would have flash backs to traumatic moments prior to Dad passing. On placements on wards I would feel vulnerable and extremely nervous, especially when dealing with ‘poorly patients’.

In the first 6 months after his passing, I would wake up every morning and for a split second I would have forgotten that he wasn’t here anymore……….that was so hard. I actually felt like I had lost part of myself.

The guilt aspect of grief was one that I struggled with for months. Not only did I feel guilt over Dad’s treatment, but I felt guilt that he perhaps didn’t know how much I loved him. That was what truly broke me. I’d always been a Daddy’s girl, but our relationship hadn’t been fantastic in the 5 years leading up to losing him……..you know the old saying “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. My Dad hadn’t lived to see me get married, have children, see me settled and winning at life. I felt a failure, like I’d let him down.

For a time, it’s hard to say how long. But, for a time, it felt as if life was very dark. I’m not ashamed to say that I eventually went to my GP for some help with my mental health as it was obvious I was slipping into a deep depression.

I would have dreams and nightmares about him and his passing. The nightmares were always about the time he was in hospital and were particularly harrowing.

All of this dark stuff was going on in my mind, but I dealt with it in the best way I could. I like to think I have a reasonably good sense of humour and I found and still find laughter to be extremely therapeutic. However, I think sometimes my humour acted as a bit of a mask for how I was really feeling.

Immediately after my Dad’s passing we were surrounded by friends who were supportive and helped us through the funeral. However, I noticed how awkward and difficult people seemed to find it to speak to me about my Dad’s death. I would try to talk to friends about how I was feeling, but I sensed that they were struggling to know how to respond to me. It got to the stage that I didn’t want to make other people feel uncomfortable by talking about it.

Emotionally, I was in a very bad place. I had lost one of my best friends, someone who had always been such a support to me, who I shared a lot of interests with, someone I spent time with every day. Inevitably, this emotional vulnerability, over time, started to impact on my physical health. So much so that, just over 2 years after losing my Dad, I ended up in hospital. I won’t bore you with detail, but I now have health problems that I believe were initially triggered by the loss of my Dad.

My illness was a massive wake up call to me. I could not carry on the way I was and I desperately needed to change the way things were. I had to improve my emotional wellbeing and my physical health. It dawned on me how sad my Dad would have been to see me suffering. It was time for a bit of positivity. I started to think about the lovely times that we, as a family, had shared together……..I drew so much from this. How massively lucky had I been to have this wonderful man as a father.

135634_10150116033404066_6410949_o (1)

I had several lovely dreams in which I would be meeting him in beautiful garden or on a train and he would have to go by saying “sorry I can’t come back with you”. I continue to have dreams like this and now I take great comfort from them. It’s as if it’s my Dads way of popping into my mind to say hi!

My Dad was a Christian and myself and my brother were raised as Christians. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as religious these days, I don’t subscribe to a particular religion. However, I would say I have faith and spirituality. I realise that there are majorly differing views on what happens when we ‘die’. My personal belief is that our energy continues to exist in a different (I’m hoping better) place. Once I had come to this conclusion in my own mind, I started to see signs that my Dad was still around me…….I don’t mean him popping up behind me in the mirror or anything horrendous like that! Just subtle signs, things only I would understand, like a particular song on the radio at a moment that I was thinking of a memory. At this point some of you are probably thinking I’m mad, but these ‘signs’ have made me feel like I continue to have a connection with my Dad. They may well all be purely co-incidental, and I’m fine with that……but the comfort they bring is real.

I know this probably sounds totally weird, but I started to notice things around me that I had never noticed before. I could appreciate the sun shining through the trees and hearing the leaves rustling in the wind. I would notice birds flying in the sky and would love getting outside and going for walks. I started to do a lot more people watching when out and about, noticing interactions between loved ones. I now it sounds a bit bonkers, but it felt like I started to see the beauty in the world that I had taken for granted up until that point.

I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person. I’m a bit OCD about being organised and if things throw my plans out, I’ve always found it a bit of a struggle to deal with this. But, I think, because I was becoming less blinkered to the realities of life, I started to calm down……a lot. Yes, I’m still a freak about being organised….but I get less stressed over things, perhaps because I’ve realised what is important and what isn’t!

A few days before my Dad passed away, following some scans, I was told that I would struggle to conceive children naturally. In September 2013, I found out I was pregnant. As I tried not to slide off the toilet in shock upon reading the test result, the first thing I did was think how unimpressed my Dad would have been about my situation………however, in time I realised that Dad would have been supportive of me and I know he would have done everything he could have to help me. So, it didn’t take much for me to decide that if I was having a little boy, I would name him after my Dad. James was born in May 2014 and becoming a Mummy is most definitely the best thing that has ever happened to me. The joy I have experienced due to my son is impossible to quantify. I have photos of myself and Dad in my living room and James points at them and says “Grandad and Mummy” and has done since he could speak. I’ve never told him who the man in the photos was, he just seemed to know. I know my Dad would be so amazingly proud of James, sometimes I feel sad that Dad has missed out on him.

I get married next year to the love of my life. I do feel sad that my Dad won’t be there, but when I think about how far I have come in the last 3 years, I know how proud he would be of me.

So, I suppose what all this rambling is leading to is this: Initially grief seems like a black hole that is going to swallow you up in your entirety. It can permeate every fibre of your life and being. BUT, as time goes on, grief can help you to see the precious nature of life and the world we live in. I have found grief to be a challenging journey, but a journey that has helped mould me into the person I am today. As hard as it may sound, life goes on and the people we lose would want us to live our lives in happiness and to the full.

Charlie, this blog is dedicated to you with lots of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

A Weighty Issue

I’ve been racking my brains for the past few weeks as to what to write for my first blog post. I have so much that I’d like to get down in writing that it’s taken a while to make a decision!

Today I settled on what this first blog would be about, something that has been a constant pretty much through my entire life as I remember it. My weight. 

I started puberty at quite a young age, starting my periods at 11 years old. While other girls my age were still shopping in Tammy Girl, I was having to wear women’s clothes because…..well, I was turning into a woman. I was gently teased about my weight  and size towards the end of primary school, but never anything terrible and I was always able to let it go over my head. I was taller and broader than a lot of the boys in my class by the time I went to secondary school. I went to school out of our catchment area and only knew two other boys from my old school. Again, I experienced some gentle teasing, but I made friends and settled in and found my little niche as a bit of a swot. I wasn’t particularly bright, but I always tried (who doesn’t love a tryer?). I was as happy as any teenage girl going through puberty ever is!!!!! Secondary school is my first memory of experiencing real anxiety, feeling physically ill from it at times.

Little did I realise, that the gentle teasing I was experiencing would plant a tiny seed that would continue to grow and grow throughout my life.

On leaving secondary school and starting Sixth Form College I was already a size 18/20. That summer I had my first experience of male attention……one lad that I was particularly ‘sweet’ on commented “You’d be really pretty……if you were a bit thinner”. I remember feeling absolutely gutted, although I continued to put on a brave face.

Once college got into full swing, I started to lose weight. I’d started smoking (sorry Mum!), so wasn’t eating that much apart from in the evening at home. I started going out to nightclubs, socialising with a wide circle of friends. I even bagged myself my first boyfriend. I dropped several dress sizes and really grew in confidence.

However, going into my late teens and early twenties my weight started to creep back up. I had some emotional experiences that seemed to send me to a dark place that I had never been before. I felt slightly overwhelmed by adult life and I think that this may have been my first experience of depression.

I had a boyfriend who had messed me around in the early stages of the relationship. We had broken up and he had proceeded to chase after one of my close friends, a girl who I perceived to be prettier and slimmer than me. This massively knocked my confidence. However, eventually we got back together but the damage had been done and I could never forget that he had wanted someone else. I used to find comfort in food and alcohol. Alcohol would give me an immediate lift by having fun whilst out partying, then food would ease my hangover the following day! A dangerous cycle to be in, but in my early twenties, I had yet to make the link between my emotions, behaviours and weight.

As I put on weight, I couldn’t buy clothes from the same shops as my friends as they didn’t have clothes in my size. I couldn’t wear the more fashionable stuff, and by this stage I wouldn’t have had the confidence to either.

Rather than talking to people about how I was feeling about myself or problems that I was experiencing, I would bottle it all up and try and deal with it myself. I felt embarrassed, even ashamed of myself. Ashamed of how I looked, ashamed about who I was and ashamed about my lack of coping with life.

Eating was a massive crutch at this time. I would always find a way to justify it to myself, usually by thinking “it’ll make you feel better”…….then end up feeling totally overwhelmed with guilt and self loathing. The way I felt about myself was reflected in what I accepted in relationships. Being cheated on, walked all over, stolen from, verbally abused about my size. It was just one massively vicious cycle leading to me having zero self esteem and no confidence in myself.

I hated myself, I really did. It got to the stage where I didn’t care that I was fat because that was what I deserved as far I was concerned. I went through a bit of a “Fat and Proud” stage for a while, but it was a complete load of bollocks. I was certainly fat, but I wasn’t proud!

In the last five years my weight has continued to fluctuate, partly due to pregnancy, partly due to emotional eating, partly due to physical health issues and partly due to depression. However, The last 5 and a bit years have been very different for several reasons. Firstly, I’ve started to understand and attempt to curb my emotional eating habits……..this is so incredibly tough and is a massive work in progress, but I am getting there. Secondly, I am learning to love myself and realise that my body is amazing…….I have grown a human being, my body certainly deserves to be looked after and I owe it to myself to love myself and accept who I am and what I’m capable of. Thirdly, I have realised that rightly or wrongly, some people will always think they have a right to make comments like “you’re a big girl aren’t you” or “you’re pretty for a big girl”…………but it says so much more about them than it does about me.

I deserve to feel comfortable in my own skin, in order to do this I am having to make some massive changes in my life. One of them is accepting that how I feel about myself is NOT the way that others feel about me. I have an amazing fiance who is my absolute rock and sometimes I panic that I don’t deserve to have him in my life. I have found it hard to understand how someone can find me attractive, but this is starting to change and I’m feeling better about myself every day. It’s hard not to impose your own insecurities onto someone else and I know I have done this at times, but I think I’m getting past that now.

Yesterday I joined a gym (not for the first time I hasten to add!). A nerve wracking experience when you have zero body confidence. I’ve not got a goal weight or anything, but it would be so lovely to get to a point where I feel more confident and comfortable. I’m never going to fit into other people’s definition of “slim” but I have learnt that other people’s expectations mean nothing. It’s how I feel that is important.