Chuck It In The Fuck-It Bucket

Some pretty flowers to counteract the swearing

I've seen posts before about creating a 'Fuck Budget', most brilliantly done by Vix Meldrew having been inspired by Sarah Knight's The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck. However, I have not read the book. Instead I have been influenced by the source of most sparks of genius - the group chat. Usually what gets said there stays in the safety of Whatsapp (or relative safety - ain't no trusting Mark Zuckerberg) but this was such a straightforward but truly life altering piece of advice I feel compelled to share. It's by no means a new concept but it's effective and most importantly was given me to one of the most positive and bloody hilarious people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing so I feel it holds some weight. I was upset about something that felt like a big deal and after letting off steam in the chat she simply said, unpretentious, to the point and with a laugh:

"Chuck it in the Fuck-It Bucket."

This is my kind of ~inspirational~ quote and one I'll forever be grateful for. It makes so much sense, it's so redundant worrying about things or other people's actions that you have no control of. The only thing to do is shrug it off and move on. There's no point wasting energy that could be spent more usefully having fun or focusing on your own goals or spending time with the people who do give a damn. 

Bearing that in mind, here's a list of a few things I've chucked in the fuck it bucket lately (I'll stop swearwording now, sorry!)

People who aren't interested. Be it friends, potential love interests, employers, followers - if they don't wanna know, they don't wanna know. I used to torture myself wondering if it was me and my personality that put people off or if it was the 'baggage' that comes along with CF and transplant. Maybe it's both but there's really not anything I can do about either of them, so there's zero point stressing about it because there are plenty of special people who accept everything about me. They're the ones that matter.

Vodka. I have been allergic to it since transplant, I don't know why. I miss it but just have to accept it doesn't like me as much as I like it so it's goodbye, in the bin. 

People who put your passions down. Ooh these people are The Worst. I get it very often, having such an interest in social media and doing a degree in fashion and dress history means people think it's acceptable to tell me they're irrelevant things. They're not to me and that's what matters so I no longer care about their *irrelevant* opinions. Life can be tough and we all need our escape from the pressures and horrors of the world sometimes and if you're lucky enough to have found that then you must hold onto it. 

Not being an early riser. If I get up early it's usually because I haven't been to sleep at all the night before because I am all about that insomniac life apparently. I feel like there's a lot of pressure to be a #GirlBoss, killing it from 6am after a gym session and watching the sunrise and drinking a smoothie. My brain doesn't function before 11am and I just can't change it no matter how much I've tried. I am a Night Owl and that is that. 

Organisation. I'm so scatty and last minute much to the annoyance of everyone else, I want to work on my timekeeping in order to keep my friends but when it comes to writing, be it for work or blogging, I feel my best, most honest and original pieces are the unplanned ones. There seems to be some kind of method in the madness that's doing it for me so why change it? Although new stationery is always appealing...

Wanky ~creatives~ (you may want to see my previous post for context.)

I'm very sure I could add so much to this list because honestly, once you start it's v hard to stop. Quite the addictive process, Marie Kondo-ing your life (although that method can too get in the bin because those folding techniques are not practical and I'm not prepared to part with any of my shoes even if I haven't worn some of them since 2010.) I recommend you give it a try - what would you chuck in the fuck-it bucket?


On Relationships After Transplant

I was wondering if this would be a little ~risky~ to write but a good friend once told me to write about the things you're afraid to so I'm gonna put myself out there a lil bit and hope it's not too cringe. I think I'm very open on here but at the same time quite private - I'm not sure I'd ever really revealed much about my personal life before, so it feels a little strange to be typing this out. But if even one person reads it and can relate then it's worth my pride!

When I came home from transplant more than one person said to me 'Ooh it'd be nice if you got a partner now!' which really bothered me for two reasons. First, the notion that it was something that I needed or wanted. I'd spent the most part of two years literally stuck in a hospital room unable to move more than one metre from the oxygen machines attached to the wall, so unsurprisingly I wanted to make the most of this new freedom without having to answer to anyone. Secondly, this idea that people with chronic illness and disabilities can't/don't/shouldn't date is a whole other blog post but an assumption that most able-bodied people seem to have for some reason. It annoyed me that people assumed it was the fact that I have CF that meant I didn’t have a long-term relationship – plenty do, I’m just undateable and annoying AF hahaha. I’m joking (even though it could very well be true) but also, you know, personal choice was a factor. There is absolutely no doubt that CF makes dating difficult, but it’s not impossible. I mean bloody hell, if the likes of people such as (feel free to insert whoever you want here, I feel bad namechecking) get married not once but multiple times then surely I had some hope because I’m not that bad I don’t think. I hope. I’ve just always savoured my freedom and independence and felt like what rare time I had before transplant that wasn’t spent doing medicines and treatments had to be entirely mine. I think I needed that time to be totally selfish, I’d have gone bonkers otherwise! Add that to being a bit of an introvert anyway and being so young, relationships just weren’t at the top of my priorities.

The first year after transplant I wasn’t very keen still, my head was all over the place and I was having trouble with the platonic friends and family relationships I’d had as the dynamics of those go completely out of whack post-transplant, which is again perhaps another blog post in itself. Adding another into the mix didn’t seem like a smart move. But obviously I jumped on the Tinder bandwagon along with everyone else, which I have to admit was fun – I like meeting new people and have some stories (those will never be repeated on here though, sorry nosey friends.) But then I met someone IRL (I know, WTF) and fell head over heels. But I would say that ended almost as suddenly as it began and although it was brief it affected me a lot. Too much if I’m honest, I spent a good few months Feeling Sad. Looking back, I feel a lot of emotions about that time ranging from absolutely mortified to grateful. I feel awful that I’d wasted precious time feeling down – I didn’t go through so much to spend weeks crying over someone who wore a trucker cap (like I said, mortified ok?) but without wanting to go all Ariana Grande on you I am appreciative of that time because it made me realise what not to do, which is essentially put all my happiness in the hands of someone else. A dangerous thing to do, but also very human as us humans are stupid. After transplant I wanted to experience everything, and heartbreak is very much part of the human existence isn’t it?

But when I got through it I knew it wasn’t something I’d want to go through again. I carried on seeing people but felt like I just went for things that I knew weren’t going to last, aka a lot of wanky 'artists' living in Peckham, as there was a kind of safety in that. There were wonderful people who offered me the world, but I rejected them because I was afraid which is something I’m not proud of. I went back to being as independent as I could and avoiding anything potentially serious so I think I went from one extreme to the other which is no way to live. It maybe sounds dramatic and although I in no way think these are feelings exclusive to me and someone who is post-transplant, I do think they're particularly common emotions if you're in that situation. It's that thing of feeling like you don't have enough time to figure stuff out and that you don't have much control over the timing of things in your life. Silly I know, because does anyone have any control over such things? But when you're very aware that you've got to try and fit a lifetime in a few short years sometimes it feels like the pressure is on.

However, I'm finally at a point now where I feel more relaxed and going with the flow - I feel less of the anxiety I felt in the first two years post transplant, which is maybe odd because as the years progress I'm getting closer to *danger.* But I feel more accepting of things and have realised that although there are many things I've yet to do the absence of those experiences don't take away the things I have done. The same can be applied to love, because for me it isn't the be all and end all. I thought 'Imagine if it never happens' and instead of feeling sad I felt free. It's just one of many things that can happen in a lifetime, there are so many beautiful things that can happen as well. I'm also lucky to be surrounded by other forms of love too - the love of my family, my friends, the love I feel for myself, the love I feel for my passions in life and of course the love I carry around with me every day thanks to the donor of these beautiful lungs, a stranger who I'll never know and who never knew me. 

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this long ramble - perhaps it was best left in my diary when I wrote it back in January. I suppose I just thought on the off chance that anyone has been feeling similar that you're not alone. Relationships are that bit more complicated sometimes, I get ya. Just remember that they're one aspect of life, don't let the media, your mother or Mariah Carey at Christmas time convince you it's the only thing to strive for. 


A Calm Start to 2019

Hello, hello. How you doing? I know we're approaching the end of January but I thought I'd do a little post with my mood for the year anyway. Nothing wrong with being fashionably late anyway ;) Firstly, they're my favourite to read, I love the nostalgia of them and the sense of optimism. Secondly, it's late because I spent much of the festive period in pyjamas and unwell. It was nothing serious at all, just one of those loooong, dragged out bugs that don't seem to shift. 

On that note I'd like to make a disclaimer. I'm not big on resolutions, I absolutely believe in setting intentions and I think it's a positive thing to have something to work towards or to look forward to. I just don't believe they're something that has to be done from the first of January. Sure, it feels very neat to start afresh on the first day of the first month of a brand new year but life is rarely so straightforward. It's something that's been proven to me time and time again living with chronic illness but really I think it's something that happens to us all.In my case it wasn't until this week that I started to feel up to doing things and motivated. Health, be it physical or mental, really doesn't give a shit what day or time of year it is - it doesn't follow convention, it does it's own thing. When it gets bad on the regular you have to follow your own schedule too, I think it's healthier to work with it than try to fight against it. Because are you fighting for what's best for you or to fit into a society that's always telling you what to do? It takes a strong person to let go of the guilt that comes from not following convention but it's worth it for your peace of mind.

I know I sometimes tire myself out trying to keep up with the rest of the world - I naively thought I'd have transplant and be like everyone else. But of course health issues still pop up, my priorities were different to my peers (while they were getting degrees I was getting new lungs) and as a result by society's standards I might be a little behind when it comes to ticking off life's achievements, although I'm not because that list is totally fictional. Also despite having transplant I might not even accomplish such things anyway - kids, a top career, marriage, money aren't a guarantee for anyone nor are they what everyone wants out of life. I can't change my health situation, I can't go back to the past and do things differently but I can redefine what success is to me through both short and long-term aims, which I find mega exciting! Especially as they aren't set in stone, I have the freedom to shift them around which is a privilege many don't have and one that was denied to me for so many years so I'm definitely going to make the most of it. I will still have the occasional wobble (my annual, snotty NYE Big Cry will attest to that) but on the whole instead of feeling like I have less opportunities I feel like I have endless opportunities thanks to that shift in perspective. As a result the start of 2019 has been very chill for me and mainly anxiety free, I feel like I'm living my life just how I want to without worrying about things and people and expectations that I really shouldn't be bothered about. I know that emotions are never linear but for now I'm enjoying feeling calm and taking it day by day.

With that said, here are some fun, totally selfish things that I'd like to do in the rest of January. I prefer a list of monthly intentions because that means there's more to look forward to!

  • Finish my uni work for Semester 2. I've missed a lot of lectures due to being ill which is a shame as I've loved this semester (I got to study Schiaparelli which was a dream project!) but I'd like to finish the late work I have left to do and wrap it up basically.
  • Go to the Barbican. Don't @ me, even though I've never been despite being a life-long Londoner.
  • Go to the beach. I've not walked along the Brighton seafront yet this year, it's bloody freezing but I think I might go tomorrow after my exam to shake off any stress about it. 
  • Cook at least once a week. I've kept to that this month, I'm pretty bad just eating out or ordering in but I like cooking and trying something new, even if it is only something simple (I'm no Nigella!)

I hope you've had a good start to the year! Have you done anything fun so far?


On Embracing Scars

A Royal wedding dress reveal is often a rather exciting moment for most fashion enthusiasts, but for me seeing the photographs of Princess Eugenie in her stunning Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos gown felt extra special. 

From a fashion perspective it was wonderful to see a British label given such a platform (talking of which she also wore Charlotte Olympia shoes for the occasion.) There's no doubt it was a beautiful dress - the full skirt, the folded neckline - but to see the long, thin scar, a result of spinal surgery for scoliosis, pointedly peeking out from the deep V back showed the power of dress and meant that for me it was far more than a moment for fashion. It was a moment of empowerment for everyone else with similar surgical souvenirs. 

You see I too bear that same scar, as I had the exact same operation aged 14. They straightened my twisty spine and fixed it in place with twelve bolts and two titanium rods and after a painful, but thankfully brief recovery, off I went to enjoy life all straight and proper. If it wasn't for the scar that snakes up the entire length of my spine to be honest I'd quite forget I had it done, especially taking into account lung transplantation surgery almost 10 years later.

Which brings me on to the scars from that. We have the obvious one that goes from side to side across my chest where the surgery was performed. I have two scars on each side of my ribs where chest drains were inserted (one looks a bit like a star which I'm quite fond of.) Alongside the one where they put a tracheostomy (breathing tube) in, I have the ones on my neck caused by ECMO (a big life support machine with equally big tubes) and then two scars on my legs where they had to put ECMO in there after the neck one didn't work. There's the one where I had a feeding tube in my stomach and more in my neck and on my side where a port sits under my skin, as well as various scars from all the cannulas, blood tests and whatnot from over the years - there's a lot going on, sure. 

Of course I knew I'd have scars but seeing as there were no mirrors in hospital I was quite unaware of just how much my body had changed. It wasn't until I was getting dressed in my bedroom and caught my reflection in the full length mirrors of my wardrobe doors that I was confronted with this new, stark reality. It was shocking to me, to see the full extent of what my body had been through - it looked so violent, I didn't recognise myself. To be frank, I felt grotesque. Perhaps not the right thing to think after almost dying, but that's how I felt at the time. 

However, after the initial shock had worn off I began to see them as a sign of power and strength. They were a mark of all that I'd been through, a tribute to the magic of medical science and a specific reminder of the type of surgery I'd had that saved my life. Incredible things! Beautiful meanings!

Time has faded my scars and most are hidden by my clothes. They're not totally on show here either mainly because the most obvious ones are in awky places but they're there nonetheless, attached to stories that are a part of what makes me, me. Perhaps it's my love of a good novel, maybe it's the history geek in me or narcissist, depending on your view, that revels in the idea of a narrative being revealed through the strange marks on my skin. They still cause me occasional pain due to scar tissue and other parts are completely numb years later so they're not without problems. However much I think they should be normalised and without wanting glamorise them, I firmly believe we should be proud of our scars - from the ones from major surgical procedures to the little burns that nipped the back of your hands grabbing a pizza out the oven, they're a reflection of our lives rather than the airbrushed, flawless bodies traditional and social media bombard us with. 

So to see Princess Eugenie showing her scar on what was probably the most public day of her life was empowering to see - a small but mighty gesture. From the numerous tweets I saw that day to the excitable message I got from a fellow lady who's had scoliosis corrective surgery ('We are matching!') I know for sure I wasn't the only one moved by it. 

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