23 August 2010

My Best Photo - The Gallery


This week's gallery asks us which photo we are most proud of.

I suspect my answer changes depending on my mood and circumstances, but at the moment, this is it. Taken on Blackpool's historic North Pier two years ago, it combines a serene beach landscape with the complex detail of a Victorian cast iron bench, creating an image that feels timeless. I don't think I can really explain why it strikes me so, but every time I see it, it's a photo I want to share.

18 August 2010

I'm sure Hollywood lies


“Tell the story of a first kiss.” Oh, do I have to?? While I suspect that many first kisses are awkward, but I surely win the award for making an embarrassing fool of myself. To be honest, I don’t think I’m really that fond of kissing. Having someone that close to my face makes me very uncomfortable, and that discomfort makes me self-conscious and stiff.

My first proper kiss was when I was fifteen. I’d had a crush on a boy a year older than me for many months. While I obviously hoped he’d be interested in me, I don’t really think I believed it would happen. Eventually though he did ask me round to his house one evening to watch a film. Unfortunately we wouldn’t get that far.

I spent most afternoons at one of the many after school clubs in our high school. I knew he was at another meeting, so I loitered around the hallway hoping to casually run into him. (Why are our younger selves so embarrassing?) My plan was successful and we went for a wandering walk around the school.

He suggested we go down the stairs, which eventually lead to our cafeteria. I’d never actually used these stairs before, but saw no reason not to. Before the cafeteria were several small classrooms I’d never seen before, where the doors were set a couple of feet back, creating small alcoves. He stepped into one and called me over. In my naivety I thought he wanted to show me something posted on the door, so I was very surprised when he wrapped his arms around me.

I wish I could claim swish sophistication, but I can’t. When he kissed me...I blacked out. I assume I came back to my senses shortly after, at which point I thought “Oh my god, those are his lips!” and promptly blackout again. Eventually I somehow pull myself together and turn the kiss back into a hug. From there I make some excuses and beat a hasty retreat to the school theatre. My heart was racing as adrenaline rushed through my system, my hands shaking. A friend I ran into thought I’d taken some kind of drug. (Who knows why, as I never have.) I had just enough time to calm my nerves before my mother collected me from school, she luckily noticed nothing amiss. If you can’t guess I never went on the date. I couldn’t face him again after that.

While I’m not nearly as neurotic now, I don’t think I’ll ever escape that hint of panic I get with every kiss.

17 August 2010

The Dock


This used to be my favourite place as a child. My parents were members of a sailing club and this is the main dock by the club house.

When I was quite young I spent all my Sundays swimming off this dock. It used to be a bit tricky climbing back on to. I hated reaching into the dark water and putting my bare feet on its slimy algae covered bars before hoisting myself out of the water. I also remember hanging from the dock’s support braces, swinging like monkeys through the water.

When I was a bit older I used sit on the concrete steps looking over the lake. It was so peaceful and calm. I loved to sit there by myself and day dream, escaping from life for a while. And when darkness fell you had an uninterrupted view of the stars.

I remember long summer days with friends, diving off the dock or bouncing around in HUGE tractor tire inner tubes. I remember the year of the two inch ‘horseflies’ that sent even the teenage boys screaming into the water.

If I had to name my favourite place in the world, this would be high on my short list. I struggle to remember much of my childhood, but my memories of the lake, the sailing club and this dock always bring a smile to my face.

10 August 2010

So, where are we now?

Looking Out

After a long and emotionally exhausting weekend, I still don’t really know what to think, but several things have changed. On Sunday we finally told the in-laws we were trying for a baby. Till now we’ve kept quiet as we didn’t want people asking us about it all the time, but if we decide to try IVF we aren’t sure it’s something we can face alone.

Though we might be pleasantly surprised, I strongly suspect that IVF will be pure and utter hell. First off I have severe needle anxiety, which doesn’t get better, no matter how many injections I’ve had. IVF requires at 12-22 days of injections, plus the possibility of daily blood tests. I can only imagine what state I might be in after weeks of phobic stress. Added to that, the second round of injections will likely be Oestrogen. In the past, normal birth control pills have turned me into a gibbering mess, so again I can only imagine what a week’s worth of hormone injections will result in. Then after the stress of the needles and the Oestrogen possibly kicking off my anxiety and depression...they want me to go into hospital to harvest the eggs. Finally though we have some good news, because of the specific quirks of my needle phobia it’s only applies to going through skin. Because they should be going up through the vagina wall to collect the eggs it doesn’t bother me. Well, it does bother me any more than it would bother most people to have a doctor stuffing a medical tool up their bits. I’m actually more worried about the canular that goes in my arm for the sedation. I might be lucky though; my depression has always surfaced as a self destructive streak, so I may be quite happy to go into hospital. I’ve been known to schedule mole removals when depressed, as it’s a socially acceptable form of cutting. (Unfortunately the depression has usually gone by the time I reach the top of the NHS waiting lists!) Then two or three days after egg harvesting I’d expect to go back in for the first attempt at implantation. Finally, I have no idea how my Fibromyalgia may affect any of this process. None of these worries deter me necessarily, but I can’t help but think that would be a horrible strain on any marriage. Trying to face it alone and in silence seems completely mad, so we told his family.

We’ve also decided to change hospitals. Originally we were under the impression Mr Goldfish was being referred for tests so we chose a hospital near his work. While there may be some more tests, we’re now fairly certain IVF ICSI is our only option. I’ve looked at the hospital reviews online at the HFEA website (Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority) and while you really can’t compare the numbers there are some key differences. Liverpool Women’s is open an extra day on the Saturday, which I’ve read can help when trying to implant an embryo. They also do more than 3 times as many procedures, something like 1394 to 426 at the other hospital! Hopefully this might mean shorter waiting lists, but also more experience with awkward sods like me.

I think I’m going to go through with it, but the sheer number of tests terrifies me. I’ve had so many bad experiences with doctors; I don’t go on my own any more, but I’m afraid that my husband won’t be able to get enough time off. My mother-in-law has offered to come along if needed, but she’s working too.

Anyways, there’s not much we can do now until we get the consultation, but I doubt I'll be able to stop thinking about it.

6 August 2010

Just once I wish they’d tell us straight

So we got our test results today. They weren’t good.

My tests came back fine, but Mr Goldfish’s tests showed real problems. The sperm count was a bit low, but more importantly only 1% were properly formed. The doctor has immediately referred us to a Fertility Clinic at the hospital, making out that there’s a real simple and easy solution.

Her easy simple solution is IVF. Specifically ICSI, where they search out one of those few healthy sperm and inject it straight into the egg. It’s only after searching the internet for 1% morphology that I’ve realised IVF is likely to be the only answer...and god help me, I’m considering it.

The doctor just pushed us down this route without even a blink and it seems so easy to go along. Not to mention now it’s not me with the problem, IVF doesn’t seem so wrong. I think it’s related to my recent post about fate. If the problem was on my side, it would be fate telling me not to be stupid, that passing my genes on is a bad idea. But the Mr is the image of health, with no problems. I guess it doesn’t feel the same.

I’m a bit angry really. The doctor just kept telling us to be positive, implying they’d quickly solve this. For me at least IVF isn’t an easy solution. While several of my moral issues have been resolved, I still question whether it’s right to interfere with life. As the cost of the NHS spirals and expensive science can extend life so long...I wonder where we need to draw the line. Unfortunately IVF is one of the most obvious lines in my mind, and I can’t help feel a hypocrite for considering it.

Sorry, it's not a very eloquent post, but I'm not really in an eloquent place at the moment.

3 August 2010

Writing Workshop - Fate


I’ve always believed in fate, but by my own definition. I believe our lives weave a tapestry creating the world around us. I think when we are born that there is an ideal path for us to follow. Not one that will bring us blessings and fortune, but one that plays its role to tell a larger story.

We are by no means required to follow the path laid before us, in fact it’s very difficult to find. But when we can find that elusive place, the effect is quite magical. I’ve never felt luckier than when I’ve been in step with the world. There’s a surprising sense of purpose and reassurance you feel when following your path.

Unfortunately, it’s not a feeling I’ve known recently. I knew it as I wandered the streets of Italy, stumbling across recent acquaintances I never expected to see again. I knew it when I moved to England, settling into life and job faster than I expected. I knew it when I applied to Salford University, my transfer application being immediately accepted.

I may not know that feeling now, but I know I’ll keep searching till I find my way back onto the path.