Melancholic, that's Me!

Several thousand years ago Hippocrates, who is considered today to be the father of modern medicine, first developed the theory of each of us having four humours that were required to be equally balanced in our bodies for continuing good health. His four humours were blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm – lovely! These corresponded with the four elements – air, fire, earth, and water – or the seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

This theory was later expanded further to conclude that if someone naturally has an excess of one of these humours in their bodies, it sets their temperament. These four temperaments were Sanguine (too much blood), Choleric (too much yellow bile), Melancholic (too much black bile), and Phlegmatic (too much phlegm). And this basic categorisation continued to underpin medical understanding for centuries.

So for example when we watch period dramas on TV and someone has a fever and is bled from a cut in their arm into a bowl, or leeches are applied, this was done in the belief that their high temperature was linked to an excess of ‘hot’ blood, and reducing the amount of blood was the prescribed method used to recreate a balance in the humours within the body.

Drastic by today’s standards it may be, and these very non-scientific categories may well have no recognised place in today’s theories of physiological and psychological health, but to be honest I find the idea behind their holistic approach to treating the whole body/ mind continuum together as one entity refreshingly modern in thought.

And I would be the first to recognise myself as being a Melancholic person – I’m sensitive and creative and very much grounded temperamentally in the cold autumnal earth – even though I recognise my normal psychological state has absolutely nothing to do with my internal levels of bodily fluids and so a purgative of any kind is most definitely not a cure for my decidedly melancholic nature! 🙂

JusJoJan 20: Humour

Tripping Over My Own Shadow

Honest to God, I can trip over my own shadow and be flat on my face before I know what’s happening. To be fair I do have one leg slightly longer than the other, so I find that with my longer leg if I don’t pick my foot up properly it can catch on the ground and I’ll far too easily stumble and fall. The older I get, the worse it’s getting – probably because with older, stiffer joints, it seems my mental reaction time and the inevitable delay in associated physical reaction is far enough apart to cause me to fall before I can counter my imbalance…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Trip

Bellyaching About Bellyache

Yesterday I had my three month check up with the doctor regarding my new healthy eating regime and the effects (or otherwise) to date on my decidedly dodgy digestive system.

Since I went for my first GP appointment nearly five months ago now, I’ve had an ultrasound scan (showing gallstones and a fatty liver) and both a colonoscopy and gastroscopy (showing a squeaky clean clear bowel and an inflamed stomach) and have been ultra-careful with what I’ve been eating. Low GI, low fat, low sugar, no citrus, less spicy foods, and no red meat at all – and definitely no comfort eating.

So, yesterday I was able to report back that my acid reflux (causing my stomach inflamation) is loads better, partly thanks to my medication and partly thanks to my change of diet – woo-hoo! So that’s a major improvement, no burning pain and no constant regurgitation after eating absolutely anything – result! No idea if my cholesterol levels are any lower yet, but further blood tests will reveal all soon enough.

And of course however great it was to know I don’t have anything nasty going on like bowel cancer (runs in the family, so a potential genetic predisposition), the colonoscopy didn’t answer the question of why my overall digestive system is still so problematic after all these months – no great improvements there. Oh, and my agitited, agitating gallstones are still giving me all kinds of grief too.

Apparently my next step after all these tests and change of diet is a referral to the gastro-intestinal clinic to see what they decide is best to do to help me feel better. My GP has suggested that I may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome as well as my irritated gallstones, because my ongoing description of the pains I’ve been feeling account for both conditions, but that remains to be seen.

In the meantime I’m just bellyaching about bellyache because I’m finding it’s wearing me down, feeling uncomfortably bloated at best and curled up with sharp spasms at worst. And me and my toilet bowl are becoming far too attached to each other – a passing acquaintance with a perfunctory daily visit is quite enough; two, three or four times a day is just a tad over-excessive in my book.

Hopefully the gastro-intestinal consultant will be able to help me find some kind of workable solution for now and on into the future, because if I do have IBS too it seems the stress of pretty much constant bellyache might actually potentially be creating even more more bellyache for me… Grrr…

OK, rant over for now – aaand I’m off to the toilet again… sigh! 😦

Back Again!

I’m back again! Thankfully my 83-year-old dad is well on the road to recovery after his most recent stroke.

Well, ‘recovery’ in the sense of beginning to be on the mend again, slowly but surely, still in hospital for the time being but hopefully well enough to go home again in the next week or two. Physically his mobility is even more impaired than before, but he still manages to walk a little bit with a zimmer frame as long as someone is with him. And mentally his vascular dementia has inevitably deteriorated a bit more, but he’s still dad underneath it all and he still holds on tight to the promise of getting home soon…

I’m just so relieved he’s still with us, the first few days after his stroke were worryingly hit and miss but he’s finally finding his way back… love you dad ❤

Off the Radar

I’m going to be off the WordPress radar for the next few days at least, and maybe longer… My dad’s had another stroke so is currently in hospital and I’m off up to Scotland tonight on the sleeper train to see both him and my mum. He’s 83 and has had several previous strokes over the past couple of years, and also has vascular dementia so sadly his health has been noticably deteriorating for a while. No idea how long I’ll be away, I’ve only booked my ticket up for now, but will see you all again when I get back, whenever that may be…

Spontaneous or Stick in the Mud?

Hmmm… I’m not generally the world’s most spontaneous person, as much as anything because for me life has not historically lent itself to the freedom – the luxury in my book – of spontaneity. Well, apart from my very beginning – I was born in a hurry as my mum went into spontaneous labour three weeks early, and as I was lying in the transverse breech position I was eventually delivered by emergency Caesarean Section in the wee small hours of the morning.

I had a lot of sore skin and bad breathing allergy problems as a child which, while growing up, seriously restricted what I could eat and what was safe chemically to come into contact with – in fact I was in and out of hospital several times throughout my formative years due to particularly bad flare-ups – so inevitably a lifestyle of learned caution and careful consideration was born positively out of necessity rather than negatively out of negligence on my part.

I had my first baby a scant month before my nineteenth birthday, and then two more in relatively quick succession (with my third baby born just two months past my 21st!) and as a young mum of three I tended to continue to be cautious for my children’s sake. So I may appear to be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud by some people’s standards, but I owe no apologies for that. I have always had personal responsibilities that took precedence, first to myself and then to my children, but not (I feel) ever to answer apologetically to the uninformed opinions of rest of the world at large.

However in spite of my obvious lack of spontaneity I don’t really consider myself to be conservative at heart – I can still be a reasonable risk taker when the odds weigh favourably enough, and I certainly haven’t lived my life quietly hiding in the shadows respectfully toeing the societal line without question. I studied full time for my degree as a single-parent 30-something adult, graduating with a First Class Honours Degree at 40 – two years after I first became a grandmother – so am certainly not averse to venturing into unknown waters in the right circumstances.

Personally I feel that had my lifelong health issues not restricted me so badly in early childhood and beyond, I may well have developed more spontaneous behaviour from the start, continuing on from my unconventional and unpremeditated entry into the world. But like it or not I am where I am – still living cautiously with my ongoing allergies well into my fifties, with all three children grown up safe and sound and out in the world creating their own lives, one with a successful career and two with young families of their own.

No gap years, no travelling the world, no spontaneous ‘fun’ in that sense for any of us. But I have to say I’m very proud of all of us for simply doing our best in life with whatever hand we’ve been given… 🙂

Weekly Word Prompt: Spontaneous

A Mess of Stress

So, apparently this week Fandango is curious to know how I deal with stress? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… oh… well… um… maybe laughing maniacally at my on misfortune isn’t exactly the level of response required here.

Historically I’ve always dealt with stress by comfort eating. Currently though, due to recently diagnosed problems with my digestive health, I’m having to be VERY careful about what I eat – including eating minimal animal fats, salts and sugars, which I must admit pretty much make up the bulk of all my usual comfort foods… sigh 😦

So right now on top of the stress of everyday generic life stresses AND being menopausal I’m also trying to deal with the stress of NOT comfort eating by distracting myself wherever possible from my cravings for comfort food. Colouring in, listening to music, walking, crying and feeling sorry for myself… And when that doesn’t work I’m stressing myself out even more by beating myself up for not coping, creating an even bigger internal mess of stress.

But I’m determined I’m not giving up on it all, my ongoing internal health is important to me so I’ve decided to try to help reduce my external stress factors by giving up instead on all news of Donald Trump messing about playing chicken with China and Iran, Theresa May messing about playing chicken with both the European Union and her own parliament, oh, and America making itself even more not-great-yet-again by banning abortion…

My blood pressure just can’t handle it all any more, I feel like I need to ban all news coverage for a while. So I think I’ll take to sitting here with my fingers in my ears going la la la la la la la… a bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but at least hopefully my digestive system will be happier 🙂