Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Adopt Don't Shop : National Animal Advocacy Day*

April 30th is National Animal Advocacy Day, and I thought it seemed like a good time to talk about my furry children and how they came to join our family.

So first up, this is Ashen. He's a rottweiler-ish mix, roughly 9 or 10 years old, and a total dork. He's incredibly soft, his favourite things in life are his blanket, a dinosaur teddy called Clive, belly rubs, and daffodils. My husband adopted him before I knew him, from a wonderful local rescue centre called The Ark Animal Rescue. They have a donate button down at the bottom of their website to donate via PayPal if you want to donate to a small local charity that really need all the help they can get. Ashen basically loves anyone who has time for fusses, so he took to me right away, who could resist that beard?!

Next up the cats. The next two came as a pair, the black cat is Stitches, and the tortie is Patch. Patch is actually Stitches Aunt!

These two don't quite have the traditional adoption story. Stu also had these lovely creatures before I met him, and he ended up with them almost by accident. He rented his last house from a friend of his who had emigrated abroad. She had been unable to take the cats with her immediately, so asked Stu if he would take care of them for her while she got settled, until she could send for them. He happily agreed and well, she never sent for them. When we moved out of the house they came with us (with Stu's friends approval and admittance that they were happy with us and totally now our cats).

Patch is the old lady of our troupe, we think she's probably around 15 now. She has 3 teeth left, and spends most of her time curled up sleeping. Her favourite place is my knee and she always knows when there is ham in the fridge. She's a feisty thing, definitely the boss in the pack, but also the first to stick up for the other cats too. Last year Stitches was bitten by a fox and badly injured, and she came home mildly wounded too. The vet thinks she probably leapt in and saved Stitches life considering both their injuries, hero!

Now this is probably the photo that best sums Stitches up to be honest. He is the sweetest, derpiest cat I've ever met. Black cats are the actual best, and also the least adopted due to superstitions. If you are looking into adopting a cat, you can not go wrong with a black cat. Stitches loves chin scritches more than anything in the world, and loves to curl up next to you rather than on your lap. The poor mite has had it rough, he once had PVA glue dumped all over him by... idiots.... and he's been left pretty weary of strangers since then, but he sure loves me. The other thing Stitches loves, is to meow at me till I pick him up like a baby and carry him round. I'm the only one he asks to do it and I absolutely love it. He seems to know when I'm sad, and he comes and shouts at me until I hold him and it just fills my heart every time. He has a snaggle tooth and a croaky meow that make him so unique.

Last up, is Lemmy Katmister.

Now Lemmy may look sweet, but don't let him fool you. He is aptly named because he is the loudest cat I have ever met. He never shuts up! He came from another small local rescue called Cuddles Cat Rescue. They only rescue cats and do an amazing thing for our local area. Lemmy was their longest boarder when we adopted him. He came from an animal hoarders house, there were over 40 animals in the house, a mixture of cats and dogs, none of them neutered, all underfed. He'd had to fight for food every day and it's one of the big reasons he meows now, he's always worried about not having food so shouts as soon as he has eaten the top layer of his biscuits so he can have more! 

Lemmy also loves to sit on my lap, so usually shares the space with Patch. Lemmy would prefer to sit right in my face and suffocate me with his love but I worry one day he will actually kill me, so that's not happening.

We donate monthly to both of these charities, they are very near and dear to our hearts. Please do check out their websites and consider donating if you can! If you want to take the extra step to become an advocate for the cause consider hosting a nonprofit fundraiser! The combination of community donations and increased awareness for the organization will truly make a large impact, thanks to you.

Do you have any adopted pets? How did you meet yours?

Much love, 
Kitty xxxx

*not a paid or sponsored post, but written in collaboration with EventBrite who inspired this blog post!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

My New Tattoo

For my 30th birthday, there was one thing I knew I wanted when people asked, and that, was a new tattoo. I figured 30 was a pretty good milestone, and I want more tattoos, so why not? I was very lucky and my Nanny and G (what I call my Mum's parents), and my Auntie and Uncle gave me money for my birthday. I saved up too, and I knew exactly who I wanted to book in with.

A trip to Stockport was in order, to go and see the amazing Lawrence Canham. Stu has previously been tattooed by him twice, we've both fallen in love with his work, and he is a genuinely lovely bloke as well, so it was an easy decision. I had a rough idea of what I wanted, neo-traditional style (which I plan for all my tattoos to be), and inspired by my wedding bouquet. As a surprise for my parents, I also opted to get a yellow rose in the design too, which is what they had in their wedding flowers. I sent over some photos from the mega ClickClickBang Photography of my bouquet by Fleurations, told Lawrence I wanted it for my shin, and let him come up with the design.

I booked in for a full day. I don't like having unfinished tattoos so I was determined to get this done in one sitting. I made sure to bring lots of drinks and sweets with me to keep up my energy, and plenty of crisps for snacking on too. (McCoy's chip shop salt & vinegar crisps are proper mega by the way). I'd told Lawrence that my lower leg was essentially his, so he came up with a design that he could also add to in the future, and off we went!

Oh it was a lot of lines let me tell you. I highly recommend that if you decide to have your wedding flowers tattooed on you that you don't have succulents because so many lines. Much ouch. Lawrence did the tattoo in sections rather than lining the whole thing, which was much better for both of us. Meant more switching it up for him, and more of a break for me as colour is easier than line work.

By the time we got the to last bit of the tattoo that needed colour, the succulent under my knee, I was positively miserable. I sat for just over 6 hours and I absolutely will not be sitting for any longer than that ever! My leg was swollen and bruised, so ibuprofen was my friend for a few days after, as well as keeping my leg elevated whenever I could.

But the end result... so damn worth it. I absolutely love it, and my Mum (who hates tattoos by the way) got quite emotional when I revealed the surprise of my yellow rose to her), which was a total bonus!

Here it is now, fully healed and looking magic. I moisturise my tattoos twice a day, every day, and wear sunscreen on them the second the sun starts to appear.

Isn't it just lush?! I'm obsessed. And I feel much less wonky now. I already can't wait to add more to it, so I best get saving!

I cannot recommend Lawrence enough, he's such an underappreciated talent and I think we'll feel very lucky to have found him now as his profile rockets over the next few years, inevitably giving him an epic waiting list.

Much love,
Kitty xxx

PS. My other amazing butterfly and moth themed leg is by Keely Rutherford, I still have some space on this leg so need to go back and get it finished with her too!

Monday, 9 April 2018

I Had Carpal Tunnel Surgery.. Twice!

So I've mentioned it a couple of times on my blog before, but the major reason I've been MIA for the last few months is that I've had carpal tunnel surgery on both of my hands. I had the first in November last year, and the second in January this year. It was desperately needed, particularly for my right hand, but it's been a long healing process. I did a lot of googling before my operations to read about people's experiences with it and for a relatively common surgery, there doesn't seem to be much written about it online. I documented as much of the process as I could and decided to my journey here.

Before I get started, this is your TW/CW for photos of stitches/wounds post op. If you don't want to see photos of my hands containing stitches this is not the post for you so I'd recommended skipping this one!

I've written before about having carpal tunnel in this blog post, so I won't go into the details of what having it is like, instead I'm going to focus on the surgery. So, first things first, it is done under local anaesthetic, meaning you are awake for the actual operation. You can't wear any makeup or nail varnish, and all jewellery must be removed (bar a wedding ring so long as it isn't on the hand being operated on, it'll need covering with a plaster though). They are very strict on the nail varnish and makeup and I witnessed two people be made to remove it who turned up wearing it. You'll need to bring along slippers, a dressing gown, cotton pants, and make sure you wear clothes that are easy to get on and off, as you'll be one handed post op and you won't be allowed to have anyone wait with you. I was provided with a hospital gown (nurse very kindly made sure she got me a bigger one and it easily covered me appropriately so I wasn't uncomfortable in it at all). A nurse will double check all your info and pop an identifying band around whichever wrist isn't being operated on, and your opposite ankle. My nurse used two together for my ankle because she didn't want it to be really tight and it would have been.

A surgeon will come along for a chat, mark you up for surgery and then it's a waiting game. I waited around 4 hours for my first surgery, so I highly recommend taking books to read, and bottles of water/drink with you. I was allowed to eat as normal and took some food with me and I was glad I did as I was waiting for a long time. My husband Stu was allowed to stay with me for the check in bits but once I'd seen the surgeon all family members and partners were asked to leave. Under your gown they only let you wear pants, so I suggest you make sure they are both big and comfy! I wore my dressing gown over the top so I could walk around comfortably, and only took my dressing gown off for the actual operation. It was SO warm on my ward, so I'd suggest a light one.

The actual operation itself does not take long. Once I was called in I was allowed to walk down to the theatre, then I had to take my dressing gown off and lie flat on my back. Your arm goes out to your side on a panel. First thing is the anaesthetic itself which is the worst bit, it pinches and is uncomfortable, but it gets to work pretty quickly. They'll then cover you in iodine (hence the lovely orange tinge my skin has in these photos) and get you prepped. They roll a big tube down your arm to cut off your circulation which is very bizarre feeling too. Very tight and a bit awkward to get on. Once the anaesthetic is working they'll make the first incision. First time round I didn't feel it. Second time round, I did, so told the surgeon and was given more anaesthetic. It wasn't painful when I felt it, but sharp, so do vocalise it to your surgeon if you feel it. It's a weird feeling to know they are tugging round inside your hand, but also being unable to feel it, I won't deny it! The surgical team were a lovely bunch at Grimsby Hospital and nattered away to me about my hair and my smiley piercing as they operated and made it a pleasant experience. Before I knew it I was stitched up, and before they bandaged me up they asked if I wanted a peek at the wound, which I totally did. Once I was ready it was time to sit up and into a wheelchair to get pushed back to the ward. I was allowed to get redressed as soon as I felt ready, and was discharged about 45 minutes after my operation. I was advised to get Stu to wait in the car park for me rather than pay to park again and as I felt steady on my feet, that's what I opted to do. I was offered tea, coffee or a biscuit too but as I don't drink tea or coffee (I know, I know, it baffled the nurses too), I stuck to water.

The first 3 days post operation I had to keep my arm in a sling and I took all the painkillers I could. Highly recommend making sure you have a supply of strong anti-inflammatories ready because you will want them. After 3 days you can ditch the sling, as well as the massive bandaging around your hand. You'll need to keep the stitches covered till you get them out, and I found because of the location of the wound that it was tricky to keep the dressing on so ended up buying several packs of them and replacing them regularly. Sleeping is definitely tricky. I ended up building a sort of pillow fort to force me to lie still, and you will want to keep your hand raised on a couple of pillows too. I had the stitches out after 12 or so days....

So getting my stitches out was probably the worst bit of the actual operation process for me. The stitches were incredibly tight and it took 2 nurses to get them out of my hands on both occasions. After my second lot of stitches were removed about a week later I also realised that there was a stitch still in my hand. I ended up using a (brand new) needle to remove it myself because I just wanted it out and was concerned about it staying in my hand any long. I found having the stitches removed painful, my hands were still swollen and the stitches seemed to have no give in them. Not a fun experience and much cringing was done on my behalf.

I'm now going to post a bunch of photos of my hands and the healing process so you can get an idea of how they looked as they went along.

Right hand immediately after removing the bandaging. 

Right hand 2 weeks post op after stitch removal.           One day later.                            

Right hand 20 days post op.              Right hand 1 month post op.

Left hand after bandaging was removed. Note how much more bruised my palm was!

Left hand 2 weeks after op after stitches removal.      3 days after stitch removal.            

 I found my left hand took a lot longer to heal than my right hand. I expected my left hand to be easier because my left hand had less severe carpal tunnel, but for some reason, my left was much more swollen and bruised for a lot longer, and has taken a lot longer to feel better. Only in the last few weeks, 3 months after my second operation, have I been able to open a bottle on my own for example.  Gripping smaller objects proved very tricky. Your full pre-op grip doesn't return to you for around 6 weeks post-op, and then you still need to rebuild your strength to improve it. I wasn't given any physio to do but chose to make sure I kept moving my hand and flexing it and gradually building up my use of it. You aren't allowed to drive while you have stitches, but I chose not to drive for about a month after my operation, preferring to listen to my hands. I only drove short distances and built up how much I drove, starting first driving round the block, then a little further, a little further, and so on. It's absolutely key to listen to your hands, and when they hurt, stop. Don't push them.

3 months on from the final operation, 5 months on from the first, I can firmly say that I am so thrilled I had these operations. Before I had them, I was in pain all the time, and since my operation that has completely gone. I have regained all the feeling I had lost in my right hand! I couldn't feel my thumb and index finger at all, and now I can. I can cross my fingers again, I can open bottles, lift things, it's awesome! I do still have to be careful, repetitive movements do hurt my hands and can set me back, so I go steady and listen, if my hand hurts, that's enough.

And for anyone who worries about the scarring, this is my left hand, 3 months post-op. The work really hard to try to keep the scar so it blends in with the natural lines of your hand, and I think they've done a brilliant job. My right hand is even less noticeable!

If you've been offered the operation and are worried about it, please don't be. I won't lie, it does hurt afterwards, and it does have a long healing time. I had 2 weeks off work and then went back part time, building back up as I felt comfortable, and I'm very lucky to be in a job that could accommodate that. In the long run, it has been so worth it. I can do so many things I couldn't before the operation, and I'm hoping that one day, I might even be able to use my camera again.

If you have any questions, do feel free to ask away!

Much love,
Kitty xxxx

Where Have I Been?

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Where Have I Been?

Um, hi. It's been a while huh? I've only written a small handful of posts this year and have been pretty MIA on most of my social media. But I'm still here! I thought a good place to start would be to fill in the gaps of where I've been and why I've not been blogging.

On January 11th I got a phone call asking me if I could come in the next day for my second carpal tunnel operation. It had originally been scheduled for after Christmas but had been cancelled, and I'd been told it wouldn't be rearranged for some time. It was a shock but I was eager to get it done and be on with the healing process, so the next day I went under the knife again for round 2. The healing for my left hand seems to have been a lot harder going than my right hand. I'm going to write a full blog post about my experiences having the surgeries, but with my hands being affect, blogging was not high on my list of priorities. I think my laptop has basically forgotten what I look like at this point, I've barely touched it in months!

If I'm totally honest with myself, the other major reason I haven't been writing is because the time I've previously dedicated to my blog has been somewhat filtered elsewhere. Mostly, into Pokemon GO.  I've been spending a lot of time with my local raid group, enjoying the community days, and just generally getting out of the house and making new friends. I haven't had a real hobby in years. Photography has been an issue for me since I developed carpal tunnel, and I greatly missed having something fun I enjoyed that I could do regularly. Pokemon has filled that gap and it makes me so happy!

The other thing, which seems so silly when I type it out. is that I've been having a bit of a crisis of confidence. All because of my hair. I coloured my hair last October using Plum by Directions. It's a deep purple, and it was beautiful. For the first wash. After one wash, my hair was blue. Two more and it was green. And green is has been ever since. This is my most recent selfie, I've hardly taken any lately, you can see the green is really clinging on and while it has faded, it's not going anywhere any time soon. I've had green hair before, and it stains, so at this point my only option is to further bleach my hair to try and shit the colour, or to dye it darker over the top and risk the green coming through. It's been six months now, so I've been very patient, and it's daft, but it's getting me down now! Real life things have gotten in the way of me paying a visit to the hairdresser, but I'm hoping to soon so I can return to my former pink glory. I miss it so!

So what's the point in writing this blog, am I back? Well, sort of! I don't think I'll be back to posting as often as I used to, but I definitely feel like I have more I want to do in terms of blogging. I'm still writing for the ever wonderful She Might Be too, so be sure to come and check us out.

Much love,
Kitty xxxx