The Mood Blanket Begins!

To mark a significant and exciting period in my life, I made the decision a few weeks ago  to make myself a mood blanket. I thought it would be a different and memorable way to document the end of my midwifery training and the beginning of my life post-university. So after gathering wool and asking my friends and family bizarre colour and emotion related questions, I started my mood blanket on Monday 19th May 2014.

Now the concept of a mood blanket is to knit or crochet a small portion of a blanket, so a square or a row, in a colour that represents your emotions for that day or week. As I like to crochet I have decided to do a granny square every week. These granny squares will have seven stripes, one for each day in the colour of that day. I shall sew the squares together as I go along to assemble the blanket.

Here are the colours I’m using and what emotions I have attached to them. This list will probably change and be added to as I progress with my mood blanket.

 

Red- Angry, frustrated, jealous

Orange- Energetic, active, enthusiastic, busy

Yellow- Happy, optimistic

Light Green- Excited

Dark Green- Serious, studious, bored

Light Blue- Calm, relaxed

Dark Blue- Sad, upset, disappointed

Purple- Nervous, stressed

Light Pink- Kind, helpful, useful, proud

Dark Pink- Love, lust

Turquoise- Tired, lazy

White- Free

Grey- Grief, in pain, sick

 

So far I have one complete square which I am very proud of. I think there is a lovely mix of colours in there though it does show me how much the middle of the week took out of me. Hopefully I’ll be more enthused this coming week!

The First Square!

I can’t wait to see my blanket develop and grow over the coming months into a huge tableau of my life and feelings. I will share updates so anyone who reads this blog can watch its progress. You never know, someone else might be inspired to get creative with some wool and make their own.

 

Kat

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Race for Life Rochester 2014

A week ago I did something I never thought I’d be able to do: I ran 5k for charity. As a person, I liked sport and played lots of different sports at school. However, distance running was never really my forte. Last year I managed to complete the Couch to 5k programme (which I highly recommend!) and run for thirty minutes (roughly 4k for me) three times a week. This year I wanted to build upon my achievements of the previous year.

This wasn’t my only motivation. Last September, a very close friend sadly passed away after battling a brain tumour for several years. I wanted to do something to honour and remember him and raise money and awareness for a cause he would have approved of.

Enter the Race for Life. For those who are unfamiliar with Race for Life, they are events run by Cancer Research UK across the country to raise money. People can take part in 5k, 10k or muddy (assault course) races and you can do so by running jogging or walking. Currently the event is a women-only one though male children under 13 can take part with a parent or guardian.

I chose to run a 5k Race for Life in Rochester. Training started way back in February/ I had let my running from the previous year lapse a little so I decided to repeat the Couch to 5K programme then go beyond and build up to running 5k. By the beginning of May I was running 5k three times a week. Then I had to make some adjustments. In my earlier training, I mostly ran at night as I was at university or placement during the day. As the Race was during the day, I needed to be able to run then too and endure the different conditions.

I am so glad I did! The temperature on the day was sweltering and everyone was sweating before the Race had even begun. The heat was oppressive and as I jogged my way around the course you could feel the sun beating down on your back. It was about the only time in my life I have ever wished the sun would go away.

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On the day, we arrived at Rochester Castle, the start and finish line. All participants did a Zumba-style warm up before lining up and setting off on our journey around Rochester. The route was lovely and scenic, going through some lovely areas of Rochester. People who were taking part often smiled at each other and encouraged where needed. The spectators along the route were amazing and I especially want to thank the little girls who were handing out water just before the high street at the end of the race.

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I completed the Race in about 37 minutes, a little above my average but I had never run in such heat before. Charlie’s parents and my friend Alex were waiting at the finishing line with my mum, my brother and Jim. It was lovely to see all of them and show them my medal.

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So far, I have raised just over £500 for Cancer Research, a total which is not only vastly more than the £150 I thought I might manage but humbles me incredibly. People who don’t even know me, but knew Charlie, have sponsored me as well as family and friends and it is amazing how many lives Charlie has touched.

I’m so glad I did the Race for Life and it’s something I will remember for the rest of my life. I would definitely take part again in the future, maybe with some friends.

For anyone who wants to sponsor me, my JustGiving page is:

http://www.justgiving.com/kathrynwigleyraceforlife2014

 

And information on the Race for Life can be found at:

http://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/index.html?gclid=CMbHpom7x74CFSEOwwodjTwASw

 

 

Kat

I Am Not a Syndrome: My Name is Simon by Sheryl Crosier: 52 in 52 Book #21

I Am Not A Syndrome My Name Is Simon

Trisomy 18, also known as Edward’s Syndrome, is a genetic condition caused by having three copies of chromosome 18 in each cell in the body. This triplication can causes major structural defects such as heart problems, joint problems, cleft lip, feeding problems and respiratory issues. Children with this condition often have developmental delays too. It is a sad fact that the majority of these babies die before birth and of those born alive, only around 10 percent live beyond their first birthday.

I first came across Trisomy 18 in university. As a student midwife, I have to explain to women about various screening processes we have. One of the screening tests, a 12-week ultrasound and biochemistry test, screens for trisomies 21 (Down’s Syndrome), 18 and 13 (Patau’s Syndrome). I later learned a close friend’s brother had had trisomy 18 as well. Through her and several clinical experiences I became more interested in these trisomy conditions and the experiences of families with these babies. I even wrote my dissertation on the subject. I found that there is a huge lack of up-to-date information on these conditions within the medical community and often parents whose children have these conditions have to put up with outdated or offensive opinions from healthcare professionals and often have to fight to get their children the care they deserve.

I Am Not a Syndrome: My Name is Simon is the story of the life and love of Simon Dominic Crosier, the dear son of Sheryl and Scott and brother of Sean and Samuel. As it details a true story I can’t really review it in the same way as my other books as what is contained within the pages is personal and the view of Sheryl, the author. It is well balanced between narrative and providing details of Simon’s condition and gives a valuable insight into the life of a family with a trisomy child. This family’s religious beliefs are obviously incredibly important to them and helped them through Simon’s journey and as such there are many religious references in the book.

Simon’s life and personality come to life within these pages. It is clear he had a huge impact not only on his family but a much wider community. I am now part of that wider community as I will never forget this book or Simon’s story. The way Sheryl describes Simon and how he changed the lives of many is incredibly touching and as a reader I feel that I knew Simon through his mother’s word. I certainly have a better perspective on the lives of these families.

I would recommend this book as mandatory reading for any midwife, obstetrician, neonatologist or anyone who is likely to come into contact with families like Simon’s. Perhaps reading about the experiences of a real baby and family with Trisomy 18 rather than a medical textbook with doom and gloom plastered over its pages will change the attitude some professionals have to this condition and the choices made by families advocating for their children.

I would also recommend it to anyone who has been told their child has Trisomy 18 or is at risk of having Trisomy 18. As previously stated, medical professionals often (sometimes unintentionally or with the best intentions) predict the worst and give an incredibly bleak outlook for these children. This book doesn’t suggest that everything will be easy, but that it can be okay and your child can have a very meaningful life regardless of a diagnosis.

If anyone would like to learn more about Trisomy 18 here are some places you can find information:

SOFT UK – http://www.soft.org.uk/ – A support site for Trisomy 18 and other rare trisomies. Provides good, up-to-date information for families and healthcare professionals and has a forum and resources.

TRIS (Tracking Rare Incidence Syndromes) Project – https://www.facebook.com/TRIS.Trisomy.project – A group that aims to improve education and resources on Trisomy 18 and many other syndromes.

Emily’s Star – http://www.emilysstar.co.uk/ – A charity set up by parents who lost a daughter to Trisomy 18. I follow them myself and they do wonderful work for neonatal units and families within their area.

99 Balloons – This video is about Eliot who was born with Trisomy 18 and lived for 99 days. It is narrated by his father.

 

Kat

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: 52 in 52 Book #20

The Hobbit

The Hobbit is a novel I have been attempting to read since I was eight years old. My mum lent me her copy to take to Brownie pack camp with me along with the newly released Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This was my first attempt at reading The Hobbit and I’m sorry to say it was thwarted by my impatience to read JK Rowling’s latest instalment. A couple of years later I tried again and this time was distracted by my extra-curricular clubs and hobbies. All in all I must have tried to read The Hobbit about four or five times before this, never making it beyond the second chapter.

This time, I was determined to read it. I had received my own copy for Christmas in 2012 and ever since it had been taunting me from the bookshelf across the room from my bed. After finishing my dissertation, I decided to give in to its relentless mocking and conquer the beast once and for all!

It wasn’t an easy book to read, at least not for me. I found it hard to get motivated to read it or find other things I would rather be doing. I took to trying to read it at least once a day, even if I only read a couple of pages. At one point I completely forgot about it for roughly five days.

However, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I loved the story and how it constantly changed with many different settings and characters to immerse myself in. The detail in the descriptions is simply stunning and I had no trouble imagining the whole thing. You feel the joy, the despair, the triumph and the anguish through each and every chapter and it was a pleasure to be invited along to watch Mr Baggins’s adventure.

My absolute favourite bits are the songs and poems. Each is filled with magical, spell binding words that melt into your mind and encapsulate you imagination with amazing poetry and rhyme. They add to and incense the mood of the scenes they are part of, building the atmosphere for whatever Mr Tolkien dared to imagine happened next.

The character development and relationships are complex and deep. You feel for these characters and root for them but also occasionally curse their stupidity or feel anguish at their defeat. They are fallible and, as such, believable and real in the mind’s eye. They play a large part of what is so rewarding and enjoyable about The Hobbit.

So whilst I may have found the actual reading difficult, the main point that shows how good this book is, is that I came back to it. I felt guilty for not reading it and became annoyed when other commitments meant I couldn’t read just a few more pages. This book is a well-loved gem by many and it is easy to see why. Hopefully in the future, I can lend my children my copy of The Hobbit and they will surpass their mother and read and come to love this story as much as I have.

 

Kat

The Pangolin Diary by David Stanley: 52 in 52 Book #19

The Pangolin Diary

Considering my profession and my passion for related books, fiction or otherwise, I’m surprised by how long it took me to read a midwifery-related book as part of this challenge. However, I’m glad this is a book I chose to read and took time to read and enjoy. Whilst it took much of my Easter break to get through due to academic demands, it provided me a few pages of solace when I was in the depths of dissertation attributed despair.

The Pangolin Diary is David Stanley’s autobiography describing his time as a midwifery lecturer in rural Zimbabwe. Just reading that description in the blurb had me hooked. Two things I love in one book: midwifery and Africa. This book was no disappointment. It took you from breech deliveries on a labour ward to driving through the African bush trying not to hit errant chickens. Descriptions of the vibrancy of life contrasted against the hardship of daily existence.

I don’t want to describe this book in too much detail as I hope people will go and read it themselves. There’s friendship, death, loneliness, joy, achievement and despair often all just a page turn away from each other. The book keeps you going, tempting you with a snippet of another tale.

To all those, like me who devour their midwifery related novels, this should be on your reading list. For those who enjoy novels that describe African life and existence, that applies too. For those who enjoy both, you must read this book. You will not regret it*.

 

 

Kat

 

* Once you have read this book, if you enjoyed it I also recommend Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway.