Center Parcs, Daily Life, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Help! Mid-life crisis alert!

Does anybody, like me, wake up some mornings wishing they could start all over again, having made such a pig’s ear of their life so far? I am having one of those days today and I don’t usually write on bad days so this is new territory for me.

I have just returned from a midweek break with my husband, three of our children and our son-in-law at Center Parcs. We have been there lots of times before and always enjoy it for different reasons. This time, we booked ourselves into a luxurious executive lodge with four bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom, and we also had a sauna and a games room boasting a pool table, a multitude of board games and an X-box.

20181113_223724

We often try something new and this time, along with spa sessions, badminton, table tennis, long walks and swimming, we booked ourselves onto a pottery painting session. We had so much fun all week but I have returned to normality feeling completely exhausted and extremely fed up.

IMG-20181115-WA0001

Before we left, I had been really good and managed to lose four pounds in weight as I was quickly becoming one of those frumpy, menopausal middle-aged ladies who I do not aspire to become. While we were away, I avoided the sweet shop, enjoyed just one dessert and made as many healthy choices as I could. I had half of a pizza one evening with some wedges but always had healthy breakfasts. I ensured I had plenty of exercise and my pedometer didn’t hit below 17,000 steps each day with one day reaching 28000 and another, 24,000. I kept track of everything using my weight loss app and assumed I would not lose anything while I was away and, at most, gain a pound or two. I was devastated to step onto the scales yesterday morning to find I had gained five pounds, in five days. It seems impossible to me that I could gain that much over such a short amount of time. So, on top of everything else, the diet/healthy eating has begun with a vengeance. It certainly has not helped my overall mood.

20181113_235535

The usual back-from-holiday washing was easy to plough through. Tracksuit bottoms, leggings, t-shirts and fleeces all being easy to dry and put away, no iron required. Job done.

20181113_142833

A small amount of cupboard re-stocking at Tesco, then we decided to use the free time to do some Christmas present shopping. We had been put in the mood for the forthcoming season as our break was Winter Wonderland themed, and numerous twinkling white lights,  Christmas trees, garlands and faux snow had set the scene, putting us in the mood for Christmas.  We even had a luxurious wreath on the front door of our accommodation.  The whole Parc was alight with Christmas, including an awesome midweek fireworks display culminating, for the benefit of the younger guests, with Santa arriving along one of the zip wires across the festively-lit water sports lake.

20181112_224343

Returning to the shopping, both of us were physically tired, but we ambled around the city centre shops and successfully purchased a number of gifts. Pleased with our achievements, we headed home to snuggle up with a healthy vegetable risotto and to watch Strictly and catch up on some previously recorded TV programmes.

I still couldn’t shake the feeling of doom and gloom which had settled over me. Nagging at the back of my mind was my mum, who has been ill for a few years but had plateaued lately. Before we left, we had batch-cooked a bunch of pies and delivered to her freezer and agreed we would pick her up and take her over to see my daughter and son-in-law’s beautiful new home, recently purchased and now ready for visitors. As suspected, when we called her to arrange times she told us she didn’t feel well enough to go over. It’s possible that she didn’t but there is always a reason not to do something and I knew she wouldn’t bother before I even called. Then I started to beat myself up for being so heartless.  I know she is poorly and it must be very hard but she is her own worst enemy. She doesn’t encourage visitors and refuses to go anywhere. This results in my brother and sister-in-law, and my husband and I being poked at if we don’t visit enough. Its harder than you would imagine, to visit a poorly mother who you have never felt close to. There has always been an acidic relationship between me and my mum and, even though she is ill and alone, I have to psych myself to even call her as she drives me mad. Call me heartless, call me a bitch but it is how I feel.

20181114_102233

The trouble is, and I don’t mean trouble in the usual sense because it isn’t, we have five children of our own, all grown up, and my husband also has a mother who is also on her own. We each have a brother and sister-in-law and don’t spend nearly enough time with them all. We also have a new granddaughter who lives a two hour drive away so we have to factor in visiting to see that part of our family, too. We both work full time and my husband is physically tired in the evenings while I can’t resist checking my emails out of hours and helping with problems where I am able. As Manager of the IT Services department of a busy private school, sometimes issues need to be dealt with there and then.

20181025_113636

We used to dance two or three times a week but, as life takes over and changes happen, we are lucky to dance once a week and maybe twice if we have the energy. We always dance on a Wednesday night as I have a regular commitment to demoing while my husband is a Taxi Dancer, helping beginner dancers, on alternate weeks. This cut down in dance nights surely isn’t helping my fight with weight either.

On a Sunday, we have started meeting friends and/or family and I go off on a three mile walk while my husband takes off on his mountain bike with a friend, or joins us walking on other occasions. We keep as active as our commitments allow.

20181104_153957

We have two more breaks planned for the near future. The first is a dance weekender at a luxurious local holiday centre and it encompasses my 50th birthday while we are there. I am not looking forward to being fifty one jot. I already feel tired and listless and the only burst of energy I get is when I step out onto the dance floor. Maybe I missed dancing while we were away last week. It’s only one week but I guess I didn’t get my fix. There are plans for a birthday celebration while we are at the weekender with dance friends so that will be nice.

20181025_124029

We have another long weekend booked with my brother- and sister-in-law at the start of May which we are looking forward to. We haven’t thought further ahead than that.

So, I have a few reasons for feeling so low right now. Post-holiday blues, weight gain, fast-approaching age of fifty and an aged, ailing mother.

However, I have so much to be thankful for. I have the most caring, supportive, fun-loving and amazing husband I could wish for. Between us we have our five grown-up children, one of them married to our lovely son-in-law, one settled with his fiancee and their baby daughter and three who have yet to settle down but have good jobs and plenty of years ahead of them. I worry endlessly about them all, but never quite feel I give them each enough of my time. While they are mostly more than capable, I have been around a lot more years and so I like to be able to offer guidance and support as needed.

received_307281596752813

If anyone out there has the answer to what is clearly my very own mid-life crisis, I would be grateful for all suggestions. So far, I have spent the weekend exhausted and crying hard enough to give myself a headache.

Advertisements
Daily Life, Work, Writer's Blog

The pain that is a migraine

For anyone who has ever been asked, “but isn’t a migraine just a bad headache?” while questioning you clutching your head in agony, you have my every sympathy. For anybody who has never suffered with a migraine I am here to tell you it is so much more than a bad headache.

Up to a third of sufferers are able to predict the onset of a migraine, during a stage called the prodrome stage. The symptoms can begin with muscle weakness, irrational irritability, food cravings, depression and even an aura which can cause flashing lights and temporary blind spots in one or both eyes. At this stage, some medications can help  in the prevention of the onset or, at the least, reduce the pain of the migraine when it arrives.

While I am not denying that headaches can be debilitating, painful and disruptive, a migraine is a different pain altogether. The migraine attack brings a virtually indescribable, severe pain, on one or both sides of the head, accompanied by other symptoms which can include, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light , sound and smell as well as disturbances in vision.  The disabling pain can last for hours or, in the worst cases, up to four or five days, and I can personally only liken it to giving birth through the side of the head.

Often, along with medication, the only way to relieve a migraine is to rest, most sufferers reporting the need for a darkened room, and sleep. Sleep, however, can be difficult to achieve due to the extreme pain, but some medications bring welcome relief with the side effect of drowsiness.

When a migraine begins to subside, the sufferer can feel listless, moody, dizzy and weak and a state of confusion reigns, along with a bruised feeling on the side of the head which has experienced the worst of the pain. This is partly due to the swelling of the blood vessels during a migraine and their subsequent subsidence.

There are a number of factors which are triggers for migraine sufferers but the most commonly reported culprits are certain foods (including, but not exclusive to, processed foods and aged cheeses), food additives (including sweeteners such as aspartame), stress, lack of sleep, alcohol, sensory changes to light, noise and smell, and hormonal changes.

My own experience of migraine is a weekly, or sometimes more frequent , attack and I am working through possible triggers and sensitivities, although two highly likely factors at are stress at work and lack of sleep with my usual sleep routine being two hours asleep and one hour awake during the night of late. Not only do I wake up thinking about work and trying to formulate solutions to ongoing issues, but I also suffer from age-related hot flushes which leave me burning up inside and using a fan in an attempt to lower the temperature, while trying not to cool my husband. I am lucky if I am asleep more than four hours a night which means, as well as being cranky during the day, the lack of sleep is high on the list of possible triggers for my migraines.

Although it is often suggested, I am not keen on HRT, having been highly sensitive to Estrogen in my younger years, so I have headed for A. Vogel’s Menoforce Sage tablets for the self-heating warmer nights, and A. Vogel’s Stress Relief Daytime Valerian-Hops oral drops. Hopefully, managing these difficult triggers will result in fewer migraines, fewer headaches and normal service will resume. I might even get back to regular dancing soon, and for those who know me well, you know how much I miss that!