Miles for MAMA Update 1

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Well as anyone who follows my blog will know on 13th September I started my Miles for MAMA challenge intending to cover 1000 miles before 13th July next year. That date will be my grandson Jake’s first birthday. 1000 miles, why that amount? It is all to do with the cwpid-screenshot_2015-10-03-12-18-25.pngharity Mama Academy and their Made to Measure campaign. It has been estimated that if all hospitals adopted personalised growth charts for all pregnant Mums 1000 stillbirths could be prevented every year.

So with walking shoes at the ready I set off on the very first day of the challenge and did a 10.3 mile walk along the banks of the River Tyne. It was a beautiful day and Hubby and I arrived home feeling energised. Unfortunately since then I have only been on several much shorter walks. So miles covered to date is 23.6. However I’m hoping this will change a lot over the next couple of weeks. I finished work this afternoon for two weeks and have a little trip planned. Off to Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. All beautiful walking country so I intend to put a good few miles to my total.

As well as my walking challenge I am having several lessons on working my way around Twitter and WordPress. My daughter has had many a text because I couldn’t get pictures on my blogs and have now learnt to take a screenshot from my phone and put it on here. So now you can have proof of the miles I’ve covered as I am using the Map My Walk app and can pop it on my blog. So next time I do an update I hope I can tell you I’ve covered tons more miles.

As well as raising awareness for a great little charity, myself and the rest of the Miles4MAMA team would very much appreciate you contributing a few pennies to the charity. See our fundraising page on Just Giving team Miles4MAMA

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Living with Atrial Fibrillation Part 1

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heartsBefore I start telling you my story of Atrial Fibrillation or AF for short, I would like to point out I am not a medical professional. All I write about will be my experience and things I have learnt about the condition. Anyone who thinks they may be affected by this condition I thoroughly urge to consult their GP.

In the early hours of the morning back in the spring of 2011 I awoke feeling decidedly unwell. My heart didn’t feel right. I tried to calm myself. I thought I can’t be having a heart attack as there was no pain just a very strange fluttery feeling. I have had a problem with high blood pressure since my mid forties, a family inheritance I’m afraid. Both my Mum and her Mum were sufferers. With my Grandmother it wasn’t picked up until after she had had a heart attack. With better health checks my Mum’s was diagnosed and with medication is kept under control. She is now a very sprightly 86 year old. Mine likewise was spotted at routine health checks and with medication on the whole was settled, although it would raise it’s ugly head occasionally for no apparent reason. As night turned into the hazy light of dawn I had convinced myself this was the problem now. Trying to get ready to go to work was impossible I felt I would keel over any minute. Phoning my GP I managed to get an appointment for that afternoon.

I spent that day lying on the bed feeling every heartbeat, it felt horrible. Explaining to the doctor how I felt she checked my blood pressure which was slightly elevated, understandable as I had spent all day worrying what on earth was happening to me. She sounded my heart and announced it was in Atrial Fibrillation. I had heard the term before as my mother in law suffered from it. However I was, I’m afraid, ignorant to what it meant and entailed. I was immediately sent to the treatment room where an ECG confirmed her diagnosis. She would not allow me to leave the surgery until she had spoken to someone at the hospital about what should be done.

To my surprise I was given an admission letter and told to go straight to the hospital. This was beginning to get scary. I was immediately hooked up to monitoring equipment. I was sent for a chest x-ray and spent a rather unsettled night. My heart rate seemed very erratic, sometimes feeling it had stopped then racing to catch up the missed beats. The following morning I was seen by a cardiologist who talked me through what was happening. I don’t want to go into too many medical details here as I will cover those in follow up blogs but for people wondering what AF is, very simply put it is an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. Check out the NHS website http://nhs.uk/conditions/atrial-fibrillation/Pages/Introduction.aspx for an insight into AF.

One of the tablets I was on for my high blood pressure was changed immediately. I was also put on the blood thinning drug Warfarin (again more on this in future posts) as one of the problems with AF is an increased risk of stroke. I was told if my heart rate didn’t settle I would possibly need to have a procedure called cardioversion. This is where an electric shock is given to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. I was released from hospital later that day with an outpatients appointment for follow up tests. I was lucky that within the next 24 hours my heart did reset itself. Over the next few weeks I had more ECG’s, blood tests and an echocardiogram. All these confirmed my heart was back in sinus rhythm (normal heart rhythm) and thankfully my heart was healthy. One more test was requested by my cardiologist and that was a 24 hour holter monitor test. This is basically a portable device that records your heart rate. On a follow up visit to discuss the outcome of this I was shocked to find out that my heart had been going in and out of AF for most of the day.

What were my options now? It had been explained that my heart was healthy. As it was put to me the plumbing was fine it was the electrics that kept misfiring. I was suffering from paroxysmal atrial fibrillation meaning the episodes would come and go. Some poor people are in persistent AF. I could have a catheter ablation but as this is an invasive procedure I only wanted to resort to this if my symptoms increased and started to really impact on my life. My other option at this time was to try anti-arrhythmic medication. I was already on tablets for my blood pressure and had already been put on Warfarin for stroke prevention so one more tablet didn’t feel like a big problem for me. So I started taking Flecainide and had another 24 hour test three months later. My heart at that time was in regular sinus rhythm. Over the next 18 months I had the occasional AF bout which would last for a couple of hours or so. On the whole I found I was able to cope with this even though each one felt like I had a bag of worms wriggling around in my chest. Unfortunately at the end of 2013 my symptoms escalated but more of that in another instalment and about my decision to have an ablation.

I was very lucky with my diagnosis as my heart was in AF on my first visit to my GP but it can be very difficult to diagnose as bouts sometimes only last a very short time. If you feel you or anyone in your family suffers from this condition there are two excellent websites full of information I would recommend Atrial Fibrillation Association and Arrhythmia Alliance. However as I said at the start please consult your GP and get expert medical advice.

Miles for MAMA countdown

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Only two days away from the start of our Miles for MAMA challenge. Looking at my fellow participants I think it’s pretty fair to say I am the oldest. However what we all have in common is that we are wanting to raise awareness of the problems that can still occur during pregnancy and childbirth. The need to keep women informed and aware of the importance of listening to your body and your babies movements. Women must never feel they are creating a fuss or may be thought of as worrying over nothing, if they feel that something isn’t quite right. MAMA Academy is a wonderful charity helping mothers and professionals work towards more babies being delivered safely. Their Made to Measure campaign is about encouraging every hospital to use customised growth charts. By doing this, it has been estimated, we could reduce stillbirths in the UK by 1000 per year. Everyone who is taking part in Miles for MAMA has set their own challenge. I have decided to join my daughter Jenny and cover 1000 miles during the 10 months of the challenge. So starting on Sunday 13th September I shall be donning my walking shoes at every opportunity.

You may wonder why at 61 I am joining a band of young Mums. Well it’s because I believe so fervently in what they are trying to achieve. Raising money and awareness. I may be a Grandma but firstly I am a Mum. Becoming a mother was probably one, if not the defining moment of my life. You never stop loving and worrying and wanting to help them, no matter what age they are. I am so proud of both my children. Watching my daughter go through her second pregnancy (I lived across the other side of the country during her first pregnancy) was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. She had suffered with pre eclampsia towards the end of her first pregnancy and it was very much on our minds as to whether it would happen again. Thankfully things went much better this time, although she has had a tough time recovering from the birth as Jake weighed in at 10lb 2ozs.

Watching my 2 beautiful grandsons brings back so many memories of my children’s early years. I already find myself wanting to freeze time, just like I did with Jenny and Adam. Every new milestone is etched in the memory. So you see us Mum’s, no matter what our age, have an affinity with one another.

To try and make my challenge more interesting for you all I have prepared a virtual route. I thought that way as I reach one of my planned destinations, I can tell you about that place and why I chose it. Setting off from home in Newcastle upon Tyne I will head for Linby in Nottinghamshire, Westgate in Kent, Portsea on the Hampshire coast, Hook Norton in Oxfordshire, Tingewick in Buckinghamshire, Coventry in the West Midlands, Blackburn in Lancashire and back over to Newcastle.That unfortunately only covers 947 miles. So we will take a little jaunt out to the beautiful Tyneside coast line right on my doorstep, a place I visit often. Of course in reality I will be pounding the streets around my home, hiking my way around our fantastic Northumbrian countryside and peddling like mad on an exercise bike. Those who know me well will probably guess why I have chosen those particular locations. The rest of you will have to wait until I hit one to find out.

So on Sunday give a thought to me and my fellow Miles for MAMA team as we set off on our individual challenges. It would be very nice if you could (begging part coming now) stick your hands in your pockets and give a few pennies to a fantastic charity. You can donate via our Just Giving page http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Miles4MAMA. Also take a look at http://www.mamaacademy.org.uk to see the brilliant work they are doing and what your donation will go towards helping.

Waffle (the useless information type not the rather scrumptious cake with square patterns) and the third age.

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Sat staring at the keyboard wondering what direction I want my blog to take. Having set myself the challenge to become a regular blogger, I now have the problem of what to waffle on about. Reading other peoples blogs is so much easier than trying to engage people in your small bit of the world.

Should it take the form of a diary. I’m not so sure you would all be interested in my week. Should it be informative – Genealogy, coffee and the heart condition Atrial fibrillation all possible subjects. Could I write reviews of some of the really engaging places I visit around my adoptive home city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the beautiful Northumbrian coast. I think you might find a few of all of the above creeping in over time.

Today however I am pondering the Third Age, whatever that might be. I will openly admit I hit 60 last year and do find myself thinking about retiring from work. We are told that over the next 20 years the number of over 60’s will increase by 40%. But does the modern day “OAP” want to pass quietly into obscurity, I think not. We have changed since the days of our parents. Again we are told we have greater economic security. We are more socially and politically aware. We are aware of the importance of eating healthy and taking regular exercise.

Having seen so much change in our lives so far, the majority of us have managed albeit sometimes with the help of our off springs to keep up. From black and white TV’s if you were lucky to flat screen, surround a sound and now streaming our favourite TV shows and films. From telephones attached with wires you couldn’t walk around with to the first cordless versions to bricks of mobile phones now we can do near enough everything from our mobile devices. I can remember my parents having to book a time slot with the telephone exchange, who then had to connect us, if we wanted to call relatives in Australia. I now am in constant contact with my dear cousin through the wonders of social media. Yes us over sixties have Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The internet has opened up a whole new world when news is instant, we can research anything we want to and communication is the press of a button away. So is it little wonder that we do not intend to go quietly into retirement when there is so much out there to explore.

#Miles4MAMA update

Those who read my last blog will be aware that I have picked up the gauntlet and on 13th September start my challenge to cover 1000 miles in 10 months. Most of this will be done by taking numerous walks and hikes. I may invest in an exercise bike to whittle the miles away. I shall be reporting my progress here and to make things more interesting for you dear reader, I have planned a virtual route around England. More about that and the planned route next time. Meanwhile do visit the MAMA Academy website and www.greatnorthmum.com to see what the challenge is all about and why we are doing it.

My challenge for MAMA

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I set up my blogging page almost a year ago and it has just sat here with the grand total of one blog. That however is about to change. I have set myself two very important challenges. One, become a more prolific blogger and two, join in the #Miles 4MAMA challenge. I like my fantastic daughter Jenny, @greatnorthmum intend to cover 1000 miles in 10 months. Why I hear you cry? Well let me tell you my reasoning.

Jenny is General manager and trustee for the marvellous charity MAMA Academy. She is also a consummate blogger and through following her blogs, I have read some wonderful stories written, not only by Jenny, but a lot of her Mummy blogger friends. Some are truly upsetting, some are wonderfully uplifting and some are fantastically hilarious. However what I feel they all have in common is a desire by some pretty amazing women to support and educate, through social media, mothers and would be Mums everywhere.

As a mother, albeit of a 34 and 30 year old, I admire what they are trying to achieve. Visit the MAMA Academy website or follow them on Twitter @MAMAAcademy and you will find a charity set up by a remarkable lady, Heidi Eldridge who has turned the tragedy of baby loss into something very positive. Working to support both professionals and Mums to be, the charity is raising awareness and promoting positive pregnancies.

Jenny has set up the Miles4MAMA challenge to help promote the charity and raise funds to help with their excellent work. She is using the challenge to help with her post natal recovery. Giving birth to Jake weighing in at 10lbs 2oz, definitely took its toll on her. As her Mama I fully intend to support her and yes I could have set myself a lower challenge but in for a penny, in for a pound. What better support can I give than matching her efforts.

The idea is to cover 1000 miles between the 13th September until Jake’s first birthday on the 13th July next year. Believe me, whereas Jenny’s miles will be a combination of walking, running and exercise bike, mine will most definitely be covered by walking. I shall be keeping you abreast of my progress on here and on my Twitter page @TitaniumTrudy and on Facebook.

I’m sure this challenge will help my fitness levels. Losing weight 5 years ago I’m afraid the pounds gradually crept back on. Over the last 7 weeks I have lost 1.25 stones and am feeling so much more energised again. Hopefully setting myself this challenge will see a few more pounds drop off and equip me in my most important role of Grandma. It takes a lot to keep up with two grandsons. Also having had a cardio ablation procedure 8 months ago to hopefully stop my atrial fibrillation, I certainly need to exercise more. Procedure so far successful and I hope to keep it that way.

So on with the challenge. If Jenny can do it I’m sure I can. Oh, and one last word Jenny will be setting up a just giving page so I shall soon be asking for your support. Off to find an app to track my progress.

Arghhhh once I press the publish button I can’t back out. HERE GOES>>>>>>>

Flat Shoes and Broken Bones

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Why Titanium Trudy? It’s a story not for the squeamish. So be warned, as the BBC would say “some parts of this story you may find upsetting”.

DSCF0219Back in the autumn of 2004 Steve and I moved into a lovely little cottage. It was on a small row with a unmade road out front. Actually it was little more than a dirt track. Quiet and peaceful with lovely views across open farmland at the back. Amazing as we were right on the edge of the town. There was only room to park one car outside and as my son Adam had a car at that time, he would leave his in a parking bay around the corner.

Fast forward to February 2005. Nicely settled in our new home it was a joy to come home to after a hectic day at work. Being given a lift home by Adam one day, I was striding out alongside him around the corner onto our road. Next thing thump!! I’m down on the floor. Looking quickly around to make sure no one had seen me, as I felt a right fool. I started to pick myself up. It was then I realised something was definitely not quite right.

Those of a tender nature may want to skip this bit. On looking down I could see my knee perfectly ok but why was my foot at right angles to it. What was that bend in my shin?

“Adam I think I’ve broken my leg?” I said quiet nonchalantly.

“Think you’ve broken it.” came the incredulous reply. Oh and with a bit of an expletive in front. Poor boy had heard the snap.

Ambulance arrives and on being moved, the pain kicked in and it was mighty painful. An operation was obviously needed as I had made a right mess of my poor leg. Tibia (skip again if you don’t like gory medical details, that is if you have re-joined me since I warned you last time) had snapped in two places, so I had free floating bits of bone in my shin. Fibula had broken also but only in one place. So a titanium plate was inserted alongside my shattered bones.

Everything is fine now. Due to a wonderful orthopaedic surgeon all I have to show now is two little scars and a lower left leg that is straighter than my right.

On my return to work after months of healing and physiotherapy, Emma one of my lovely work colleagues and friend started calling me TL short for Titanium Lady. So when I was setting up my twitter account and thought of blogging, Titanium Trudy seemed a most natural choice of nom de plume.

One more little story whilst on the subject of my titanium leg. I have another friend Rebeccah, who one day very casually asked me what would happen, if I am cremated, to my leg? How sad am I that I actually checked this on Google before writing this and I can tell you that it will not melt. Yes Rebeccah is still my friend! and she will be pleased to know that my leg will outlive me as I told her I’m leaving it to her in my will.

Names have not been changed to protect the innocent. Many thanks to Emma for her wonderful picture of Titanium (Lady) Trudy.