Book Review: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

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Category: A Book with a Family Member in the Title

Caution: Trigger warning.
Kate, a war-zone reporter has returned to Herne Bay following her mother’s death. As she attempts to deal with the PTSD of her job & her alcoholic sister, Kate is haunted by the trauma of her most recent assignment in Aleppo. Not to mention that being home raises the grief of the loss of her little brother during infancy. Unable to mend her relationship with her alcoholic sister or find her missing niece, Kate is supported by her brother in law. Struggling to sleep, she begins to see and hear things during the night. There’s a wee boy next door, who looks just like her brother, only, it can’t be. He’s obviously neglected, but no one believes that he exists and her neighbour insists she doesn’t have a child. Is she going mad?

Determined to save the boy next door when she was unable to in Aleppo, Kate is driven to uncover the truth that will severely change the lives of her family forever.
My Sister’s Bones is a dark story that takes readers down the path of many types of manipulation and abuse and how it is calculated and hidden. Affairs, alcoholism, assault, miscarriage, sexual and emotional abuse, murder and imprisonment are explored in this dark and raw, emotional novel that will be sure to leaving you asking questions about the motivation of men and hardiness and resilience of women. Whilst upsetting, My Sister’s Bones is one of the more thrilling novels I’ve read in recent years.  

Four/Five Stars

Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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Category: A Book Set in a Foreign Land

France, 1940. As sisters, Vianne and Isabelle couldn’t be more opposite. Vianne, older, married, with a child has waved her husband off to the front to help defend France from Hitler when her younger sister arrives. She disapproves of Isabella, younger, outspoken and kicked out of school after school due to her poor behaviour and inability to comply or follow instructions. She’s a liability. As the Germans invade France the war arrives not just in their town, but forces itself into their home in the form of SS Captain Beck. Vianne wants to toe the line in order to keep her home and her daughter safe. Isabelle, angry and rebellious wants to fight, and hard.
Each sister sets off on a journey of their own, fighting and surviving in the face of adversity.

This is a beautifully written story set in the most desolate of settings. Reminiscent of The Book Theif and All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale differs in the shaping of it’s older, determined female characters. Hannah so eloquently shapes these two very different women in to strong, resilient heroines, who will stop at nothing to keep their family and others safe. Isabelle and Vianne are well constructed, their struggles and motivations real. The way Hannah has conveyed the raw desperation of survival during occupied France is written in such a way as to make it real for the reader, but not in a way which overpowers the hope and optimism our heroines are fighting for. The brutality and horror of the Holocaust is communicated when required, the realities of war explored in a way that allows the spirit of our heroines shine. The first third of the text takes a slower pace to the rest of the book, but once there, you won’t want to put this novel down. The last six pages will be sure to conjure a tear or two and break your heart.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, much more than anything I have read in the past two years. I felt so connected to the characters and mourned their exit from my life once I had finished reading, the first book hangover I’ve had since reading The Bronze Horseman. 
Much like All the Light You Cannot See and The Book Thief, The Nightingale attempts to embody the spirit of determination, resilience and the overwhelming sense of what’s right and good in the world during the darkest of times. If you enjoyed these texts, you will enjoy The Nightingale.

Five/Five stars.

Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

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Category:
A Book Recommended by a Friend (via @160books)

Recently divorced Laura tends to elderly poet Anthony Peardew and his mansion. When he passes and leaves his estate in her name she discovers the secret he has kept for more than 40 years. Locked away in his study, the room she was forbidden to enter, are hundreds of lost treasures Anthony has collected since losing the two most important things to him; his wife, and the trinket she gave him the morning of her death. Pained by his loss Anthony begins collecting, classifying, and storing any and all lost objects he encounters in the hope that one day they will be reunited with their owners and his own mistake will be forgiven. In order to inherit his fortune, returning these items to their owners becomes Laura’s task.
Spanning multiple years and storylines, Lost Things is a tale of human resilience, love and hope. Inter-dispersed with poetic short stories giving life to the missing objects, this is a light, pick-me-up read, which appeals to the view that every object has a story. It tugs at your heartstrings with stories of the resilience of the human spirit and the need for reunions, healing and closure.
With the support of friends, Laura begins to find the owners of the Lost Things, and in the process rediscovers herself and her happiness. This book is recommended for those looking for an easy, uplifting read about resilience and kindness in this manic world.

Four/Five stars

Reading Challenge

I love reading.
It makes me happy.
There’s nothing like getting completely consumed and lost in a good book.
But sometimes life gets in the way and the reading can slip by the wayside.

To make reading and the joy it brings a priority in my life I set myself challenges.

The first is on GoodReads. I set myself a challenge to read x amount of books a year.
Living overseas and travelling and commuting so much, I was easily reading 25+ books a year.
This dipped significantly, so I decided half that amount would be good.
12 books a year, one a month. That’s my goal.

Then I discovered that my local Library also has a reading challenge. 
Whilst the name they chose has more a Mills & Boone connotation to it, (Adult Reading Challenge…?!?)  I like the idea of a Residents Reading Challenge.

So, follow along as I stretch my reading horizons and leap out of my comfort zone (from the comfort of my sofa/bed/back deck).

It’s time you loved yourself a little more

There’s many, many benefits to living on your own. The mess is all yours and you can clean it when you want.  No one bothers you when you’re relaxing or doing something that requires undivided attention. Music – whatever you want, as loud as you want. No one eats your food without telling you, unless you count the dog getting into the rubbish as such. The list goes on. But the most important of all.
You can be naked.

As-naked-as-you-like.

You see, it’s recently come to my attention that there are people in this world who are so… I’m unsure which word is the most appropriate… uncomfortable/dissatisfied/disappointed/prudish/ shy/non-confident… which ever it is, they feel this about their own bodies so much so that they cannot bear to be naked for longer than necessary. Undress, in and out of the shower, dress again. That’s it. That’s the only time their body is allowed to breath and be free. There are people so uncomfortable with their own nudity, that they run for cover (literally) at every chance, regardless if someone else is around or not. There are people who cannot be along with their own bodies.
And this saddens me to the nth degree.
I find it so profound that you wouldn’t like your body…  because, well… I love my body, and I think everyone else damn well should as well.

“That’s easy for you to say, you’re a thin little thing!” some of you are thinking.
I’ve heard it all…
“You’re a rake!”
“There’s nothing to you!”
Fuck off. I’ve heard that, and many other things similar to it before. But I don’t love my body because it’s ‘petite’. Like yours does, my body flucates. And let me tell you…  I have been heavier and felt the same about my body as I did when it was 10kgs lighter. I still loved it, regardless of it’s shape. I don’t love my body because of the genetics Ive been given or that my body type may be percieved as small. I love it, because it’s mine.

Advertising, popular culture, and nowadays, the rise of social media have all feed thoughts and ideals in to my head of what beauty is.
Well, what their idea of beauty is.
And you know what… there is one group, and one group only who are largely represented…
Young, thin, tall, beautiful people. Not to forget that most of them are white. That’s important as well.

Do you feel represented with this group?
I know I certainly don’t, and I bet you don’t either. It is an unattainable standard.
And the truth is, no one lives like that. Not even the models themselves think they can live up to their screen shots.

I don’t feel thin or petite. I don’t identify as thin or skinny, I don’t think about the shape of my body being more desirable than others. I just feel like myself. Because it’s all I know. It’s my body, and it’s the only one I’ve got. And I think I would regardless of my height, shape or size. You see, I love my body because even though it beats up on me all the time (see my previous posts about my journey with Crohn’s Disease) it’s bloody amazing. Your body (yes, you!)… IT’S AMAZING.

IT KEEPS YOU ALIVE!

I mean…. we’ve got thumbs for crying out loud!!! How amazing is that?!

However, in this media saturated world we live in, I have had to work very hard at loving my body. I’ll be the first to admit that I can pick flaws in my body… my immune system for one. I found my strength in the thing that I felt the most ashamed of the most; nudity. As soon as I started spending more time with my body, I became more comfortable with it.

Advertising and social media is doing it’s damn well best to ensure that none of us feel as if we are normal by their standards. That we don’t live up to hteir expectations but…. if we buy the product… we might be like them! The people they choose to represent their brands all seem to have similar body types which they want us to aspire to look and be like. But in reality we know that they are not representative of our everyday lives and interactions with others. Yes, they have beautiful bodies, but they’re not the only ones with beautiful bodies. People with curves, people without curves, people with big asses or no asses, or huge breasts or big thighs, or little legs and a big body or the exact opposite or a mixture of all of it… small shoulders, big shoulders, big feet, small hands, as thin as a rail…. every little everything. Legs that don’t function, a twisted spine, un-seeing eyes, ears that wouldn’t, couldn’t work or stopped working, colestomy bag…
Diversity is strength, and YOUR diversity is strength.
WHATEVER body you have… all of it is worth celebrating.

So, disregard the advertising, I say. Beacause the beauty you need to see in the world is all around you, in your daily life.
It’s in the generosity of your colleagues, in the laughter of your friends, in the compliments you give and recieve. The love you get from your family. The genuine interactions you have on a daily basis that make your heart shine. That is where the beauty and the love is… In the people that you build you up, and in turn, build you up as well.

But the truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter how much anyone else loves your body, it won’t count if you don’t love it. And you should. It keeps you alive. It allows you to do all the things you do. It is bloody amazing. Wrinkles, smile lines, grey hair… whatever.
Love it, because it is you.

So take a leaf out of my book; have a gin and kick everyone out of the house. *Turn the lights out, take your kit off and turn the music up. Have yourself a little dance party and enjoy being with your body and in your body. ‘Cause it’s the only one you’re gonna get and you may as well enjoy it while you can.

*Shutting the curtains are optional. Depends how dark it is or confident you are.

“One plastic bag won’t make a difference” say 4.5 million people

It’s come around again, that time of the year when people start thinking about the changes they want to make to become a better version of themselves. We’re busy people with busy lives and as a sort of default due to the time we have off over Christmas, we tend to reflect on our year and start thinking about the changes we want to make to improve aspects or areas of our lives. We’ve all fallen into that trap, haven’t we?
We’ve set our ‘New Years Resolutions’ only to let them fall by the way side a few months or even a few days into the year. And they’re always quite self serving, aren’t they, these ‘Resolutions’… Lose weight, exercise more, read more, save more money… Always quite me, me, me.

“I’m going to exercise more;” check. I’ve done that one. “I’m going to eat healthy;” check, done that one too. Some have stuck, some haven’t.Once, I decided I was eating too much KFC so resolved to quit for a year. About 20 days later I was at a KFC in Brisbane devouring my Wicked Wings. Fail. Another year I has decided I was reading too many news items on the Kardashians and resolved to not click on a single news article about them. Oddly enough I was successful at this one. Will power – go figure.

But this year I started my ‘resolution’ early. Why? Because it isn’t a resolution for me, and it’s something that’s so important it cannot wait another day. It’s that being busy and our need for convience that’s got us in this mess to begin with. It’s also something I emplore you to educate yourself on, think about, and take action over. Because each person who takes action, together, will make a difference for our earth and our future generations. So, what am I talking about?

Plastic.

It’s everywhere. It has become such a prominent material in our lives we don’t even realise we are buying it.
Out in town on a hot day and thirsty? Buy a water. Plastic bottle.
Go out for a drink in town? Plastic straw.
A bag of carrots. Plastic bag.
Order something online. Plastic courier bag.
A take away coffee? Yep – plastic. “But it’s a paper cup!” I hear you say. The exterior of it, yes. The lining on the inside of the cup – plastic. Even many of the compostable cups are only compostable on an industrial scale, not the home composts we have sitting in the back yard, and not all refuse stations have industrial composts, so if you live semi-rural like me they go straight to landfill.

We can’t escape the stuff.

Or can we?

Last year I started to educate myself on the amount of plastic we are using and it’s effects on our health an environment. And the effects are astounding.

Obviously there’s the fact that a large percentage of our landfill waste ends up in the ocean. You’ve heard about ‘garbage island’, the gyre of rubbish in the South Pacific. Did you know there are actually at least four other gyres of an equal scale?

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Being in New Zealand means we have a gyre to the north and one to north-east. Think about that… That much of the ocean surrounding us is filled with plastic. Plastic that our sealife and kaimoana are eating, and we in turn, are eating them. But how does that work? How are they eating plastic?
Have you ever seen a plastic bag break down? It doesn’t acutally degrade, it simply breaks down into smaller pieces, called micro plastics. These microplastics more often than not end up in the ocean where sea creatures think it’s food. The thought of filter feeders such as Whales, Whale Sharks and Basking Sharks consuming these micro plastics is heart breaking. Such beautiful, majestic, entrancing creatures and our consumer culture is literally killing them. If you watch any documentary this year, let it be ‘A Plastic Ocean’. Put your phone down and really watch it and think about the implications of the way we consume and how it impacts on our earth, the ocean, animals and your family and friends.

Plastic also contains harmful chemicals. Now days we see items being labelled “BPA Free”, as if that makes it o.k… It’s still plastic. And if BPA is harmful and we didn’t orginally know about it, what else is in our plastic that is harming us that we don’t know about? BPA and other chemicals in plastic have been proven to have signifcant health effects. Fertility issues in women, heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, puberty problems, fetal brain development. These are all serious issues, but as we heat our leftovers up in the microwave in a plastic container, we don’t think about the chemicals leeching into our food and affecting our reprodcutive organs, do we? I know I didn’t.

On top of this, another problem with the plastic we are handling on a daily basis is that only a small percentage is truely recyclable. Recycle.co.nz states that it is most likely that only 50% of what we think is being recycled is actually recycled properly. So in actual fact, as we put our recyclables in our bins, put them out each week and feel good about doing our part the save the planet, half of what we’ve put out will still end up in landfill. And often, the energy used to recycle these plastics for the end product is not worth it. In truth, hard plastic can only be recycled five to seven times before it loses its’ molecular properties and is rendered useless.

These are not all the reasons why plastic is bad for us, but three very, very good reasons.

So, what can we do to quit plastic?

In short, it’s near impossible to live a plastic free life.
But there are steps we can take to reduce the amount of plastics we use.

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Think about the three ‘R’s’.
Reduce
Reuse
Recycle

We’ve heard it time and time again, but do we actually follow it? The three R’s are listed in order of importance – step one is to reduce your plastic consumption. This is where you can make the most difference. I’ve heard it being called “precycling” recently – the simple fact of not buying items that are packaged in plastic. Resfusing plastic, leaving it behind in the store, finding alternatives in alternative packaging such as glass and cardboard, shopping somewhere different and asking for non packaged alternatives are all options you can take to reduce your plastic useage.

Failing the refusal of plastic, because as I mentioned, it’s near impossible to live without it, Reuse. Reuse the plastics you have bought home. In fact, resuse everything. Reuse plastic, reuse glass, reuse paper. Reuse as much as you can before the last step.
Recycling. This should be your last step, not your first. We’ve become trapped in the mindset that if we recycle, we’re doing something good.

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This mind map is fantastic at making me think more critically about my consuming, along with this room-by-room guide to reducing your waste. Through concsiously thinking about what I’m consuming and how I’m using products, I reduced my waste last year. Some of the steps I took in 2017 include;

  • Reusable shopping bags and produce bags (I now no longer need to buy bags of potatoes as I use a mesh bag at the shop and home to keep them in.)
  • Buying food in glass containers instead of plastics – e.g. olives, peanut butter, jam etc
  • Purchasing tinned food instead of plastic packaged to reduce waste – corn, beans, peas etc.
  • Composting – everything that can go in the compost,  does! Coffee grinds, food waste, paper waste, vaccum cleaner bag contents, paper towels
  • Bamboo toothbrushes with compostable handles; the average person will use around 350 toothbrushes in their lifetime. 350 toothbrushes that will endup in landfill.
  • Menstrual cup – a life saver, ladies!!
  • I have begun to store my food items in glass jars and use reusable produce bags to get my bulk buy items in, I simply write the number down and tell the check out lady at the counter – no problem
  • A Keep Cup – reusable coffee mug which I now take everywhere. I love it.
  • Concious consuming – attempting to buy all natural products, including and especially clothing! Each time you wash your arcylic clothing you are depositing microplastics directly into the waster system!

And I still have a long, long way to go, but every little helps. Collecting or going through your rubbish is a great way to see where you need to start reducing your waste. I know personally most of my soft plastic waste is from cracker and bread packaging. When it comes to shopping, in the grand scheme of things, my personal feeling is that if something is going to cost me a little bit more, be of a higher quality and be better for me and the environment, it’s a no brainer – save a few dollars, or save the planet? I’ll pick the planet every time.

Steps I’m going to take this year are simply building upon last years efforts. I won’t be doing all at once. I want to create a sustainable lifestyle for myself, so I am taking this journey one step at a time, with the aim of creating long term change. This year I aim to;

  • Create beeswax wraps as alternative to plastic food wrap
  • Switch my appliances off at the wall when I’m not using them
  • Ditch the papertowels and use rags and washable cloths
  • Crochet myself reusable, washable cotton face wipes
  • When I run out of toothpaste I’m going to try making a toothpowder
  • Start talking to businesses about plastic free options – the more we ask, the more we will be heard and change can and will happen
  • Start cooking and baking from scratch – something I’m not good at, and will be my hardest change. I aim on making my bread and crackers when they are needed to reduce the waste I was producing. The other positive to this is that I will know exactly what is going into the food I am eating, benefiting not only the environment, but myself
  • Saving vegetable scraps to make my own soup stock, avoiding tetra packs
  • Pick up rubbish in my environment, e.g. when out walking the dog. Setting an example to others can help induce change and is another way to get people thinking about the amount of rubbish around
  • Replace my cleaning products with natural options as they run out
  • Use natural beauty products; I have already bought a moisturising body bar, which came in cardboard, and Rosehip Oil which came with a dropper in a glass bottle

There’s so many things I want to say and share on this topic, with so little time.
Please know that any little step you take to reduce your plastic waste will benefit your health and the planet. So what steps will you take to reduce your waste this year? Something as simple as reusing a container, shifting from plastic to glass contained peanut butter, using reusable shopping bags and always carrying a reusable water bottle…

If each person takes a little step, lots of little steps together make a big difference. So lets do this together, and let’s do it now.

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The Trials and Tribulations of a Colonoscopy

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Have you ever seen a soul this happy to have a Colonoscopy?

Ever wondered what having a Colonoscopy is like?
No..?
Of course you haven’t! The only thoughts you’ve probably had about the procedure is that it’s quite degrading and you hope you never have to have one.
Well luckily for you, reader, it’s that time again; time for my bi-annual colonoscopy! Woohoo!!
So, friends, come with me on a journey through time and space, to the wonderful world of the Colonoscopy. (Because yes, sometimes the drugs can be that amazing.)

Following on from my post about Crohn’s Disease, here’s the craic. (Pun intended.)
I’m 28 years old and I’m going in for my fourth colonoscopy in nine years. I’d like to think that with three under my belt already, that I’m an old hat at this. I’m experienced. I’m travelling a road I have already travelled (and will travel many, many more times). In fact, after I got over the shock of the first one and was told I would need one every five years to monitor my condition I began to feel a slight affection towards the procedure. Well, five years decreased to two and here I am, about to go through it all over again.

I am a huge advocate for bowel health and talking about all it encompasses. It is so important we are having these discussions with our friends, family and children so they understand it is absolutely fine and normal to be speaking about your bowel and it’s movements. Let’s remove the stigma, one conversation at a time… because we have a first world problem with numbers even higher here in little ol’ NZ, and the rates of IBD and Colon Cancer are only going to soar over the next few decades. So to that end, maybe you or someone else you know will be having a Colonoscopy in the future. Guide them towards this post, ’cause here’s the low-down on the entire process.

Ask anyone who has ever had a Colonoscopy before and they’ll all tell you the saaaaaaame thing; the procedure it’s self is ‘fine,’ it’s the prep that’s the horror show. Well, here’s why.

Four days out; read the instructions. Seems simple enough. To summarise the main points;
Over the next three days one must eat a low fibre diet.
You’re going to be drinking a looooooot of laxatives, so keep up your fluids!
You cannot eat a lot of foods.

Here’s a paraphrased list of what you can eat…

  • White bread, white rice, white flour, processed cereals – rice bubbles, cornflakes etc
  • Plain sweet or savoury biscuits 
  • Potato, Pumpkin, Courgette, Cauli, Broccoli, Lettuce, Button Mushrooms, Asparagus (all skinned) 
  • Melon, banana, tinned fruit (except pineapple) 
  • Milk, plain yoghurt, custard, plain cheese 
  • Fish, tofu, eggs (Chicken, Turkey and Ham for the omnivores) 
  • All fats – butter, mayonnaise, sugar, honey, syrups, boiled lollies, ice cream topppings, spreads without seeds, gravy, dried herbs, spices 
  • Soups with allowed ingredients
  • Water, tea, coffee with no milk, light coloured fizzy drinks

That’s a lot of white processed goods, and a lot of sugar… sooo…. almost the exact opposite of my current diet.

And what you can’t eat…

  • Wholemeal/whole grain bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals, brown rice 
  • All seeds and nuts – chia, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, pine, peanut, cashew, brazil, walnuts, almonds etc etc etc
  • Any other vegetable not on the allowed list (so, almost all of them!) 
  • Any fruit with seeds or pips and any fruit not on the allowed list (again… most of them)
  • Legumes – beans, lentils, soy products
  • Anything with a rough skin, dried fruits, coconut

Everything from my normal day-to-day diet.
I already feel hungry.

Three days out; begin your low fibre diet.
Well, having been to the shop I stocked up on white carbs and eggs, I should be fine, right? Wrong.
The change in diet has significantly increased the amount of wind I am producing, and therefore the amount of pain I can feel in my gut. It’s sore in so many different places I’m not sure which spot to focus on. My body is burning through these white carbs quicker than I can keep up and I am incredibly hungry every two hours. Even my usual boiled eggs for breakfast which usually tides me over, hasn’t. I’m already thinking about dinner as I’m halfway through my lunch. Two days of prep to go…

Two days out; Continue low fibre diet. Drink plenty of fluids.
Orange juice counts, right?? I hope so. I’m sick of white bread. Two days ago it felt so illicit… white toast bread, a smattering of butter and peanut butter or vegemite… oh, delicious, naughty and not overly nutritious but oh, how tasty!
The thought of it now, no thank you. There’s still wind trapped in odd places in my bowel and I comically had to increase my pace at the end of my evening dog walk to ensure I got to the porcelain throne in time… isn’t this the opposite effect they’re going for?
I think what is important to remember is that the foods I normally eat are based on years of trials and experience; I know what my body likes and can handle and what it can’t. What it can’t handle it tells me about, very quickly. Hence the need to sometimes sprint for the closest facilities. The fact that some areas of my bowel (particularly around my terminal ilium, where my Crohn’s begins) are sore and haven’t been for years, is a little disconcerting. My diet is my diet for a reason.  Surely this increase in pain will have bearing on the results of my scope? I guess we’ll find out. There’s one thing that has really irked me this prep; I am on this diet involuntary and it is only for a short amount of time. A low fibre diet… some people eat this every day, perhaps for a variety of reasons; poverty, lack of education, limited palate, health problems, lack of funds etc. I feel miserable after two days. I feel like I’m lacking in real nutrition and the significant increase in my discomfort is quite alarming. It’s the people living in poverty eating like this that isn’t sitting well with me. How people live feeling like this every single day, I don’t know. Well, actually, I do have an idea as I went un-diagnosed for 8 years and never want to go back to feeling like that. It’s not normal, people!

One day out; It’s time for action!
To be honest, this day is almost bigger than procedure day. It’s *laxative day!
Breakfast is allowed, but no food is to be consumed after 12 noon. A daunting prospect when your admission is after noon the next day… and all you’re allowed between now and then is three litres of laxatives and 10 glasses of ‘fluids’.
There’s some odd people in this world who legitimately fast as a dieting technique. This is a bizzare concept to me as my life whole-heartedly revolves around food. Hanger is real and you don’t want to be between my hanger and a plate of eggs.
Full disclosure… I finished eating at 12.30. Call me a rebel. I like to live on the wild side.
*Laxative day is the affectionate name I have given this day. This is not a proper medical term. In fact… There may not be many people who call it this so fondly, and with an exclamation mark.

GPC
Glycoprep-C; The stuff dreams are made of.

Obviously in order for your bowel to be visible via the scope it needs to be completely empty. That’s where the Glycoprep comes in. I find the best way (or the only way) to describe it is like drinking a glass of thick, salty lemon water. Really thick, really salty, kinda lemony tasting water. The first glass generally goes down ok…  it tricks you. You think “Oh, it’s not that bad!” However, it’s after that when there’s another 6 glasses to go (for the day) that can defeat you.
For me, there is only one way to mentally prepare oneself to get through drinking all these laxatives and not to give up. That way is drawing on my competitiveness. I will not let this disgusting glass of thick salty lemons beat me. I’ve always enjoyed a countdown. Going for a run, for example, I would always count… 1 km in, 2km in, 3 to go… 2 to go… 1 to go… And that’s exactly how I drink my Glycoprep. One glass down, seven to go. So, with that being said I decided to do a little video blog for you-all. There’s only so much one can write to explain what this stuff is really like. But a picture (or a video of someone with an expressive face) is worth a thousand words. Bear with me on these videos; I am much more comfortable writing words than I am speaking them, often my brain words no work when speaking.

I found this time around that keeping myself occupied worked a treat in forgetting about how horrible the prep is or counting down in loathing to the next mouthful. In fact, I’d go as far to say it made a significant difference. Instead of being solely focused on the prep which I have been every other time, it was like it was a side stall I had to pop over to just to say hello every now and then to keep the vendor happy. Thankfully I have a hobby that keeps the hands and the brain occupied an requires a bit of a break every now and then, perfect for having a mouthful or two of salty lemon goodness.

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No toilets were accessed throughout the making of this blanket.

As a side note, this hand-made crocheted baby blanket is now available to purchase if anyone is interested. Am I pushing my luck here?

So, I got through the last glass of the day with an hour to spare. The thing about drinking two litres of laxatives is that you forget to drink other fluids… so my 10 glasses of clear fluids is more like 5… plus 7 glasses of prep. We will see the affect of this tomorrow I suppose. The prep takes between 2-3  hours to take affect. After about 4 hours of drinking it my stomach was completely bloated and when I’m bloated, my stomach is completely comical in a “how did your body get so distorted? Surely that’s something that only happens in cartoons?” kinda way. This bloating makes finishing the rest of the prep a little tricky. Luckily, the “evacuation” begins and helps out at this point. Lose a little… drink a little.

Have you ever had violent diarrhea? Yes? Lucky you, you survived to tell the tale! Two hundred years ago you probably wouldn’t have. Gosh science, society and healthcare has come a long way! No? You’re lieing. Everyone has.
Evacuation is a little different to your run of the mill diarrhea. Keeping in mind that you’ve not eaten much and all you’ve had in the mean time is liquid, whatever is coming out… It’s pretty much liquid to begin with. In the beginning it’s your run of the mill brown colour. But a liquid brown and any leftover fibrous matter comes with it. And the more frequently you go, the lighter it becomes. If someone was to over hear you they could liken the sound to someone squeezing a water bottle into a puddle… the steady stream of water into water. There’s not much to be said about the evacuation side of things. Except that it happens. And when it happens, it happens quickly. So don’t move too far from the toilet. And always keep the seat up…

The instructions the hospital provide kindly direct you to, if you so wish, to lubricate your anus with some Vaseline before you start pooping to lessen the effects of constant wiping. Well, the only lubricants I own other than cooking oils are Vicks Vapour Rub and Deep Heat and I’ll be loathed to rub those on my anus at any point in my life. That would add a whole other element to the experience. So sans Vaseline, I found a good ol’ pat, instead of a wipe worked a treat. I mean… there’s nothing to wipe up/or away anyway, other than maybe a few stray back-splashes. I didn’t even use an entire roll of TP – win! But looking after your anus is very important, especially because tomorrow, someone will be using it as an entry point to your bowel! Hurrah!

The day of the procedure; Even more action!
I was up early to drink the last litre of Glycoprep. I was supposed to finish at 8, however I finished just before 9… I got side tracked reading. That, and the cat was sat on my stomach which made things reeeeeally interesting! I managed to get myself on a good angle to prevent any accidents from happening, but throughout the day my anus just felt like it was leaking constantly, when really it wasn’t. I got to the hospital and after a short wait, was taken to my cubicle.
That old hat I spoke about earlier… well, at this point I was wearing it. They didn’t even need to ask me my date of birth, I told them all the details they needed to know almost before they asked them.
“Have you done this before?”
“Yeah, this is number 4.”
“Oh!”
I mean, I’m young, and I know I look young. But surely I can’t be the only young female in the Wairarapa who has this condition and is in biannually to get checked up? Perhaps they’re surprised I’ve been in so many times already? Or that because I’ve been in so often I must have been diagnosed young? Or maybe it was because I was so chirpy about the whole thing? Regardless of their thoughts, with my admission they received a work story out of the ordinary to go home and tell to their partners at the end of the day.

The best part about having a procedure at the hospital is the heated blankets. It’s bliss. And they pile them on. But once they put the heated blankets on you, they check that your IV line is clear by injecting water into it. I always hate this part. It’s cold. It’s cold inside one of your veins where it should be warm. And I always tend to over react; so much so that this time the Anesthetist, concerned, asked if it hurt? No, sorry lady, it doesn’t. I’m just not hiding my personality from you. At that point the Gastroenterologist came in and positioned myself and the bed so he could scope me out. (Haha, get it?!)
“Check it out!” I said as I flashed him my ass. (Classy, Sarah, he was gonna see it anyway.)
“What is that from?!” he asked about the large dark brown bruise that took up a large proportion of my right ass cheek.
“I fell snowboarding last weekend” I replied.
“What a fall!” Yes pal, yes it was. That’s why the big dark bruise was still there 7 days later. He then proceeded to speak with his nurse about the pitfalls of snow sports and the terrible injuries one could sustain… broken wrists, collar bones etc etc. At this point I turned back to the Anesthetist and asked her, very nicely;
“When you drug me up, can I sing to you instead of counting backwards from 10?”
“Oh, we’re not putting you to sleep, it’s just sedation.”
“I don’t want to be awake for this. I was asleep the last two times…”
“It affects people differently. If you were asleep the last two times you’ll probably fall asleep this time.”
“Good.”

WELL.

Can you tell I’m still relatively sedated here? 

As it turns out, gaining around 5kgs can be the difference between being asleep and awake during a procedure such as this. As she started to inject me I waited…. and BAM!
“Wooooooooo, there it is!” And I’m off, flying as high as a kite in the sky.
Which is when I broke out in to ‘Food, Glorious Food’ from the musical Oliver, hoping I would fall asleep before the end of the first verse.
I didn’t fall asleep.
So I sang the whole thing. Or at least, I think I sang the whole thing. I was concentrating so hard on getting the timing right in the faster bits of the song I hadn’t even realised that the scope was already almost at the end of my entire large colon. When did he stick that in there? I don’t remember it going in. I then proceeded to ask the specialist if he would like to sing me a show tune in return? One of his nurses suggested something from Annie. In my head I sang ‘Tomorrow’ but cannot confirm if any words escaped my mouth. So, heads up folks, if you don’t want to look at your own insides, you’re best to try and sleep through this part.

It had been 9 years since I’d seen mine and the difference is astronomical. I am so much healthier than I was when I was 19. So when he tried to tell me some parts were showing a flare up, I argued with him. Very terribly, of course, because I was high on drugs. And he is a trained professional. I stopped making sense and started closing my eyes as they took biopsies in order not to feel the tug on the inside of my body. There’s something to be said about that…  Feeling a pull on your insides and then seeing a small silver device pull a piece of your bowel lining off as easily as it is to pick a skin a blanched tomato. I also chimed in as to when he should take pictures.
“Oh, that looks good, get one of that!”
I was in theatre for about an hour and was under for a total of about 45 minutes. It felt like 5 minutes. I wasn’t joking when I said it was a journey through time and space. I mean… you’re on drugs, you’re looking at a screen of the inside of your large intestine and time is speeding before you without your knowledge, but it feels like it’s going ultra slow.

I aced recovery because I was already awake, and after a little snuggle up and rest in the warm blankets I was well enough to inhale the sandwiches that had been left for me. And then I snuck in the Cookie Time biscuit I had packed in my bag. And a massive Milo. I think I could have eaten another two sandwiches at least. This metabolism is waiting for nothing. After a little bit it was time to remove my IV line, get changed and go home to sleep and bleed out the anus for a little bit.

And that, my friends, is my most recent experience of the joys of a Colonoscopy.

Things I learned this time around:

  • I won’t be eating white bread for a long time
  • I enjoy fibre and struggle to live without nuts and seeds (although I did enjoy the custard and banana that I don’t usually afford myself)
  • I need to drink more water – finding a vein was difficult
  • Keep yourself occupied during prep and you’ll barely notice how terrible it is… Well, you won’t dwell on it, at least
  • Show tunes are a great way to cheer anyone up, in a range of situations
  • The doubled edged sword to being awake during the procedure is that you’re inclined to watch what they’re doing to your insides, and falling asleep increases your recovery time, but you don’t get to watch them decimate your bowel!
  • My Kiwi accent is different to other Kiwi’s and I can’t figure out why. There’s a hint of Naki in there, but, what else?
  • I was the only happy sounding patient in the ward; it must be that this procedure gets easier each time you do it, or that there’s something to be said about being extremely relaxed about the whole thing
  • I’m far, far past any embarrassment about having someone look inside my ass to check to see if I’m healthy (or not)

All in all, out of all the procedures you could have, whilst this one seems to be the least dignified, personally, I think it really only is if you let it. ‘Cause trust me, old mate behind you moving the scope through your intestines has seen thousands of assholes before yours and will see thousands after. It is what you make of it and fourth time around, I made it incredibly fun… If not for my own entertainment, then for the medical professionals who so kindly cared for me this time around. The prep is the worst part, the actual procedure itself being very quick, relatively pain free and all you’re left with at the end is a plaster over your IV line, a massive bruise two days later and wrist tag with your name and date of birth.

A massive shoutout to C, D & E who dropped me off and collected me from the hospital. Sometimes it’s hard being a single spinster when the cat doesn’t know how to drive a car. Thank you very much. I couldn’t have got through the day without you. I greatly appreciate it.

I truly hope this has given you an insight into the process of a Colonoscopy. I know I may be a little light on the details of the actual in-theater procedure, but it’s so hard to remember everything when you’re floating above your own body.
So now I put this to you; Have you had a Colonoscopy? Was your experience(s) similar? Or shockingly different?

And to anyone with any questions…
Anyone who may be going through this procedure in the near or distant future with questions or worries, anyone with fears or reservations… I hope this has relayed some of those reservations. And as for the questions… Ask! I’ll put that old hat back on and answer anything you’d like to know.

And if you’ve got to this point and you didn’t laugh or smile at the word anus… look at you, you’re so mature!