My life with EDS….

I know I post a lot on twitter and Facebook to try and raise awareness – but I’ve decided to write down my journey, good, bad, and ugly – so thank you so much if you have taken time to read this :).

EhlersDanlos syndromes (EDS) are a group of genetic connective tissue disorders. Symptoms may include loose joints, joint pain, stretchy skin, and abnormal scar formation. It often takes many many years for a formal diagnosis.

As I have hEds – I have decided to list some of the weird and wonderful things that come along with it..

People with hEDS may have:

• joint hypermobility

• loose, unstable joints that dislocate easily

joint pain and clicking joints

• extreme tiredness (fatigue)

• skin that bruises easily

• digestive problems, such as heartburn and constipation

dizziness and an increased heart rate after standing up

• problems with internal organs, such as mitral valve prolapse or organ prolapse

• problems with bladder control (stress incontinence)

• Pregnancy complications

• Slow gut movement

There’s many more – but they are the main ones!

I was strangely diagnosed after an eye test – they found white blood cells in the back of my eye (you can get sensory problems too, eyes, ears etc) and sent me to a rheumatologist. I was 28 when I was diagnosed.

At the time, I will be honest I had never heard of it and I was slightly scared. But I carried on going on my long walks – my body would always ache after but I thought that was just from walking too far. It turns out it was the EDS. I used to come in and get straight in a shower or shabath (sit down shower haha).

It’s only when you sit back and research it, that pieces of your childhood jigsaw start to piece together & you realise you weren’t in fact an unlucky clumsy child… and then it got worse.

I was walking 6 miles a day at work, and getting progressively worse but kept going , until one day my body wouldn’t physically let me any more. I couldn’t move, my knee had displaced and I ended up in a&e. (I don’t bother going now, we have putting them back in to a fine art ha)

But it’s the inward bits that people don’t see, which is why I’m trying to share my journey with people.

The pain is constant, it is draining, but then you don’t sleep because of painsomnia. A viscous circle.

People with EDS don’t tend to absorb medication and even certain foods too well either – I have been on tramadol and had no relief. The same for morphine.

I have gut issues, I have bladder incontinence for which I get Botox (designer bladder!) and yes, I have soiled myself when I have lost control of my bottom muscles.

My partner has been an absolute godsend helping me; bathe, change,do my hair, push me in my chair, take me on days out to places I like – basically everything.

I have constant crutches and braces on, and just the other day was sat on the sofa and my shoulder just popped out. Just like that, I wasn’t even moving.

This is the difficulty of EDS because it has so many different aspects under the surface people can’t see. I’m stubborn, I won’t refer to myself as disabled, instead using the term differently abled. I understand some people don’t like this term – but it works for me.

I still try and do what I used to, just with adaptations. I have my mobility scooter which gives me more freedom (I haven’t driven my car since February this year). And I have my crutches and chair. The only problem with crutches is 1. They make you even MORE tired & 2. They risk my shoulders coming back out.

I have at least one dislocation a day, and my right knee is usually the culprit.

I have POTS – Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a condition that affects circulation (blood flow). POTS is a form of orthostatic intolerance, the development of symptoms that come on when standing up from a reclining position, and that may be relieved by sitting or lying back down.

My skin often turns into what I call corned beef skin. Mottled and just not nice to look at really – but I’m not a vain person so I just get through it with humour saying my EDS skin is back. This links in with MCAS. Mast cell activation syndrome.

Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) is one type of mast cell activation disorder (MCAD), and is an immunological condition in which mast cells inappropriately and excessively release chemical mediators, resulting in a range of chronic symptoms, sometimes including anaphylaxis or near-anaphylaxis attacks – this can especially happen after bathing!

I Have bladder and gut issues, and need to sit on a towel in the passenger side of the car because once an EDS’er needs to go there’s very little warning. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have wet myself – but I’m no longer embarrassed.

I was diagnosed with a secondary condition, fibromyalgia with all of its tender points too on top of the EDS.

It’s so difficult to try and explain it to people without keeping them from their day (or two!)

But this is my story. This is my life. Some days I will be okay and have okay days. Some days I cannot get out of bed.

Sometimes my gut works properly but usually not.

Yes, I have pooed myself.

Yes, I wet myself.

Yes, I get frustrated at times that I’m not as active as I was.

But one thing I’ve come to realise is that I have it. It’s not going away… so I just crack on with whatever I can and try and keep my mindset positive.

I wet myself at least 3 times a week (I’m waiting for my next lot of Botox)

I have had an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage which can be both linked to EDS.

I have endometriosis which again is linked to EDS.

I have hearing problems that have been there since I was a child.

I have the archetypical VERY skinny wrists but very large hands in comparison.

I can’t control my body temperature which isn’t great, especially in a hot shower or shabath.

I have the ‘long face’ a lot of people with EDS have. In the family we are all animals and I’m the horse haha!

Yes my joints pop out regular, or even sublux (not a full dislocation).

Yes I struggle to live the life I once had, walking for fun and I miss out on so many social things because it really is one day at a time.

I can’t make concrete plans with you, because I can’t promise on that day will be okay.

My hands and feet regularly turn purple and like blocks of ice because of my poor circulation.

I love music so I still try and get to my concerts – with my partner pushing me in my wheelchair (they often don’t allow mobility scooters).

But you know what? This is my life now, and I do my hardest to do the things I could before – just adapted.

With it being connective tissue, collagen and joints, it literally affects your entire body, as your body is made up of collagen connective tissues and bones (joints). All of my ligaments are lax, joints loose and unstable, internal organs have collagen around them but not supporting them well – and that’s just a few things.

I just wanted to try and write this to keep raising awareness (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten loads, so I will keep adding to it) and not for any sympathy please. If you think this could help anybody then please feel free to show them. If you just wanted to learn more about it, then thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If you imagine being filled with concrete at the beginning of the day – that’s the best way I can describe how it feels & the pain.

There aren’t may surgeries they can do, as with the joints and ligaments being so lax to begin with, putting a false ligament or tendon in won’t strengthen the others.

I am lucky. I have my group of friends and my family. I have my partner and his two amazing children who understand completely and they are 5 and 8.

It took me a long time to realise I had to accept the changes to my life but slowly but surely I’m getting there!

Thank you once again for reading and I hope you found it informative (or boring, either or, haha)

And if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, either via here or Twitter @lala_cox

Keep on keeping on zebras, and anyone else who suffers from a long term degenerative disease. You’ve got this. I promise.

Thank you again for reading. More info can be found here – https://www.ehlers-danlos.com

Lauri x

NOTE: none of the above advice is intended to substitute medical experts opinions. Please always see your doctor, specialist, PCP, or physio if you have any problems. Thank you.

Miscarriage isn’t taboo – and neither are syndromes! It’s okay not to be okay…

I have thought long and hard about writing this blog, but then I remembered – writing is my release. Be that in the form of a poem, a blog, or random scribes on tatty pieces of paper. Writing is my therapy. 

It just goes hand in hand that it might help others too – and that’s what I want. 

Let’s start with the EDS… Ehlers Danlos Syndrome to give it’s technical term. There’s some decent information online about it, especially on http://www.ehlers-danlos.org if you’re interested. 

I do my best to document my life as it is, day to day warts and all. I’m not one of these who has a social media life and a real life. If I feel it I will say it. I don’t want sympathy I just want people to understand and raise awareness of a rare condition. 

Dislocations, subluxations, gastrointestinal problems, sleep problems, mobility problems, and the pain. 

It’s odd, I have had it all my life, but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 28 and it didn’t get worse until February this year. You see, I had started a new job. Knowing my limits it was an office based job.

Only it wasn’t; I was walking 6 miles a day, coming in and being asleep by 6/7pm. I kept going though, until my body gave up and my knee popped out. 

I lost count of the times I was in my doctors office crying with the pain. I was signed off sick. 

I would like to point out I do not blame my team at work, they were fully aware of my condition but it was HR who said it would be fine as it was an office based role. It wasn’t. 

Fast forward to June, and I tried to go back. I say tried, because I ended up having some form of nervous breakdown on the morning I was due back and sat on the bedroom floor crying. 

Cue an emergency weeks holiday and to try again in a weeks time after yet another trip to the doctors. 

It’s the other adaptions you have to make too. I’m 31 and I have a mobility scooter, wheelchair and crutches. I have a rail to help me in the ‘shabath’ as I call it (a sit down shower). I used to walk for pleasure, I loved getting lost in the great outdoors with my headphones in – 6-10 miles a time. Now I can’t manage stairs. But I have adapted. 

I’ve since found out that EDS can exacerbate after a trauma (my knee dislocated in February). It’s been a rough year getting used to the new ‘me’ with some tantrums along the way, but I never gave up. 

I have an amazing support network round me, my family, friends, my Paul and his two amazing monkeys. They’ve been the reason I haven’t given up if I’m honest. 

That’s all I will go into on EDS atm, I will do a longer post another day about it but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me. 

The main subject of this blog is miscarriage. Yes, that word that makes people retreat into their shell and not know what to say to you or those close to you. The word that strikes fear into the heart of people who really want to help but haven’t a clue how anything they say can make it any better. 

It can’t. But they are appreciated. Support is appreciated. Listening is. But please don’t pretend you understand unless you have been there. I mean that in the nicest possible way – until you have experienced such loss you honestly cannot imagine it. 

What did I do wrong? What could I do differently? Nothing and nothing. According to the NHS 1 in 4 recognised pregnancies ends in a loss. That’s a quarter. Now think of how many people get pregnant and that is a huge number, a quarter. Yet it still seems taboo. 

I remember the day I found out I was expecting like it was yesterday, after the year from hell with my body, looking at those two little lines on the stick I was overwhelmed. 

I went to tell my family, and my mam cried her eyes out. You see, I had an ectopic in 2013 and only have one side so the chances of falling pregnant aren’t great. 

We then told Paul’s mum and dad. His mum swore – she hasn’t sworn since 1974!

Then my dad and Sarah. Everyone was over the moon. Everyone knew it was early days but still – what a gift. 

And then it began. A couple of days later I was at a rheumatologist appointment and the pain kept getting worse. By the time I got home I couldn’t cope any more and phoned 111, who sent an ambulance. 

I ended up having to stay in hospital that evening, with poor Paul propped up in a chair next to me. 

They kept checking my hormone levels every two days and although they weren’t doubling they were going up… 

Then, on the morning I was due to attend an early bird sure start session the hospital phoned and asked if I could go and see the head gynae consultant. 

He, his assistant and a sonographer all told us that the chance of ‘pip, making it was around 1-2% but to come back in three weeks for a scan. 

The longest three weeks of anyone’s lives I think, especially given I was on bed rest and to be quite frank going a little loopy. 

I asked my mam to come to the scan with me and Paul, when it eventually came round. I felt ill. Sick with nerves, anxiety, everything. 

There was a heartbeat. I don’t know if I have ever seen so many tears in one room. It was amazing. We had beat the odds so far. We were having a precious gift. 

We still couldn’t get too excited, but we did allow ourselves a little bit – the kids found out and were amazing. Absolutely over the moon god love them. 

Then, on the Monday, I said to him that I didn’t feel right and I ended up in a&e – who just said it was my EDS. 

I put up with any pain, and I would have put up with a thousand times more just for pip to be oKay. But in my gut, I knew something wasn’t right. 

I saw GP’s, midwives, a&e again and told them all the same. The pressure in my pelvis and the pain, including chest pain was unbearable. But again, EDS was deemed to be the culprit. 

That is, until one Sunday evening I went to the toilet and spotted blood. Not much, but enough to get my attention. I woke Paul up, who said he would phone my ward in the morning for me. I was booked in for a scan on the Thursday. 

We didn’t tell any family, we had just lost our dog, and didn’t want to stress anyone further so we just told a couple of close friends. 

The Thursday came, and those all too familiar feelings of anxiety, sick, worry and utter dread struck. We went in. I don’t think we spoke the entire journey there.

“I’m really sorry” she said. “There’s no heartbeat.” 

In the exact same room that the happy tears had flown in just a short couple of months ago, I now felt like I could drown in the flood of tears in this tiny room. Paul held me, kept telling me it wasn’t my fault, but I was heartbroken. Those simple words she said ended or put on hold our plans for the future. There was no more pip, we beat the odds to get that far for it to be so cruelly ripped away in 5 minutes. 

They decided to leave me to pass pip naturally, but the next day, after no sleep and an horrific dream when I did manage 20 minutes sleep I phoned for their help. 

I had to go in and take a tablet. Then four more on the Saturday morning. My god the pain. It was constant contractions and still no passing of pip. The mental and physical pain I can’t even describe. Paul never left my side but his face said everything that he couldn’t. We were simply waiting to pass pip. 

I had to take two more tablets Sunday morning, and still the contractions stayed. He would come and sit in the bathroom with me every time, and as we do, we tried to use humour. 

I remember the cricket was on, and between me him and dad, we wondered who would be out first – Steve smith or little pip. Sick to some, maybe. But it’s how we coped. (It was, astonishingly, Smith!) 

And then it happened. Just as we were leaving for hospital the pain went to a 15/10 and I needed to push. He stayed with me the whole time. 

I remember feeling rotten to my very core, numb, empty, everything you would expect. So we went to my Mam’s to see the puppy and have a cup of tea. Because that fixes everything. 

Then we came home. We just laid there, I finally slept, we sort of went round in a haze. Like a bubble, this wasn’t real life. 

There’s the longer lasting effects too, the natural anger at why us? The natural what happened? But there are no questions we have that anyone will ever have the answers for. 

I was told my body would take 3-6 months to heal due to the EDS, and given medication. It made me a zombie so I asked to change it.

I stopped bleeding after about two weeks. I was actually thankful for this as I kept saying to him it just reminds me. 

Then I slept. Mainly during the day but I just slept. Was I escaping my mind? Maybe. Paul sleepy, escaping his too. 

I knew the dates in my head, when my scans were due, what my due date is. I’ll never forget them. 

Some days I don’t want to get out of bed, some days I do, some days I nip to Tesco on my scooter for bread and milk. Some days I go to the football, which I missed from February till October. But some days I can’t do anything. And that’s okay. 

We’ve been lucky as I said earlier with the support network we have had, on and offline. We wouldn’t have got through anything without them. And I definitely wouldn’t have got through anything without Paul. He was my absolute hero. 

So there’s my story, in all its ‘glory’. The reason for telling it so brutally is because it’s not talked about enough. People hide and shy away from it. It affects not only the mental health of the woman, but the man too, massively. Seeing the woman they love in so much pain physically and mentally. 

I am so sorry it’s so long, but there’s almost 5 months worth of thoughts in there. 

So pip, you will always be our baby. You will always be Paul’s third child, my first, and our first together. If we are ever blessed in the future with a child, you will be the big brother or sister. 

Always. 

But for now, we keep talking, it’s healthy. We keep humour when we can, we try to keep smiling and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Because we will be okay. There’s no other option. 

If you have made it this far, thank you, seriously thank you. If this can encourage one person to speak more openly about infant loss, still birth, miscarriage then I have achieved my mission. 

Please don’t send sympathy, if there is any sending to be done – please send it to someone you think it might help. 

Thank you xxxxxxxx 

What is the Premier League without the top six?

The table says it all really, with 29 points between top and seventh – and a further 15 points between seventh and eighth. Where is the gulf? Why is it there? Money?

If you went for the argument that money was making the Premier League a competition for only the rich elite – you will be doing the Leicester of last season a disservice. Yes, they spent money – but they didn’t spend massively. What they did do, is they created a TEAM. They knew their strongest eleven, and they worked around this model.

What they did, we will probably never see again. It was a one off. A true moment of sporting glory that one of the “top six” hadn’t won the title again. Somebody else was competing. It gave fans hope.

It is however interesting to note, that the only teams this season to have a positive balance after in-comings and outgoings are Liverpool (£4.25m in the green) and Southampton £13.37m in the green. Every single other team is in the red. Are either team challenging for the title? No. European football, yes, for one. Mid table for the other. A very good, respectable eighth place – but – again – 15 points behind seventh placed Everton.

According to transfermarkt, just three seasons ago, Leicester made £553,000 profit in sales. Then they won the Premier League.

Is it a case of buying smart, investing and recruiting smartly and creating a business model over a number of years, or just pumping money in both transfer windows for the best available players?

This season, again according to transfermarkt, the total balance of transfers in and out of the Premier League is MINUS £671.2m. This figure, has risen steadily over the past five seasons. In 2012/13, it was MINUS £260.14m. So, over a period of five years – there is an increase in the decrease of £411.06m.

So, is money ruining football? Is it not giving a chance to clubs that aren’t dirt rich? OR is football just getting richer? Does recruitment need to be smarter? Do you work up to it over a period of years?

Spurs, this season – have a balance of £-25.6m. But they are second. They have a home grown, goal scoring hero, and a relatively youthful side with talent – and found themselves challenging for the title.

Leicester, last season with a balance of £-34.38m won the title.

So, what of the other 14 teams that make up the league? What of the smaller clubs, who have a big payday on promotion – but would likely need to spend upwards of £80m to get anywhere near the top six.

Is this a gamble too far for some? You have the payment, the pay day, the sporting glory.. but is it justifiable for a newly promoted club to spend almost everything they earned to be able to compete?

Does geography play a part? With North East football in the doldrums, with the exception of Newcastle’s promotion – does the North East not have the lure of the other clubs? Do North East teams have to pay more to get big names to go up North? If you were given an opportunity in the North, or in London – where would you choose?

Could you imagine a Diego Costa in a Sunderland shirt or an Eden Hazard pulling on a Boro top? Is it a combination of money and geography, or is it simply down to the gulf in class between the teams in the league?

You can speak about the geography surrounding it, but it was Middlesbrough and Bryan Robson who, in the opinion of many, kick started the change in English football.

Robson was given money, and put together a team with flair. Juninho, Emerson, Ravanelli. Sadly, it ended in relegation in May 1997, but they put themselves on the map. They made three appearances at Wembley between 1996 and 1998. They may have lost the finals, but on their day they could give anyone a game.

They scored 51 goals that season, the highest from any team outside the top seven. That’s in spite of being relegated.

But, the North / South divide still seems to be there. It was entertaining, new, at the time – but it didn’t revolutionise the Premier League long term.

How can it be made fairer? CAN it be made fairer? Or, again, is it just a case of building year on year, building up some money, creating a team and then one day just GO FOR IT.

It seems for fans, the lure of Premier League football is immense, and there is no greater sporting glory than competing in one of the greatest leagues in the world. But, is that all it is? Sporting glory?

Because, if we’re honest – will anyone ever do a Leicester again in the near future…?

Let’s just get one thing straight from the off. I’m not about to go and burn my bra, nor am I going to ride naked, on horseback, around the streets of the North East. I am not a raging feminist who takes umbrage to any comment made against females. But I am a female who will call people out (regardless of gender) when they seem to display an anarchic, medieval attitude.

I’m a journalist. A sports one. But also, a ‘normal’ one. I, like many hundreds of thousands of female journalists around the world am able to switch my style of writing to suit the task at hand. It’s quite a skill.

It just so happens that I love sport. All of it. Why should that make a difference? Does it make a female any less qualified to write about something, simply because they are anatomically different to men?

There are many men out there who don’t like sport, and many females who do. If you can write, report and inform – and complete your job and tasks – then you can do it. Regardless.

I was born into a football family. My father is a journalist; my uncle was a journalist. I have grown up in a football club. Seen many comings and goings, and learned how to do things. All whilst loving football.

I’ve been to the Golf Open in Troon, and more than 15 racecourses, and staying up until all hours watching the Olympic Games. Because I LOVE SPORT.

So many female journalists out there love sport and get an unnecessarily hard time about it, simply because they are made up differently from males.

Why can’t a female be an expert? Why can’t she be knowledgeable about a subject that doesn’t fit the stereotype of high heels and lipstick?

When Boro aren’t playing, you’ll often find me watching local non-league football. Because I like football. It helps, when you have a passion, that you understand it too.

Just because football, as a spectacle is undoubtedly more prominent in the men’s game – doesn’t automatically mean the same is relevant behind the scenes.

When people display a holier than thou attitude, it gets backs up. Male and female. Mainly because these people realise that writing is not gender specific. Just like singing. Acting. Working in a supermarket. You get the gist…

When you look at successful female journalists, especially from the local area – you’ll almost always find one thing in common. They studied. They STUDIED to learn the craft, and kept on learning.

Being a qualified journalist takes more than knowing how to use their there and they’re.  How to use a comma in the correct place and how to spell things correctly.

It requires dedication. Stamina. Knowledge and research. It requires unsociable hours. It requires you to not be glamourous. And it requires hard work and determination. Much the same as any other course or degree out there.

Me? I studied sports at college – before combining my two passions and studying journalism at university. Hard, but rewarding work.

Yet people who sit behind a keyboard, not brave enough to reveal their real persona, feel that it’s okay to have a go at journalists, because it’s ‘banter’.

Well, journalism is a job. A skilled one, and all the men and women out there are doing a grand old job of delivering all the news that you greedily devour on your smartphone, app, tablet, laptop etc.

Without journalists, news won’t reach you so quickly. News may not be accurate. News may not even happen.

So next time you want to call out a journalist, male or female – remember their craft is a study too and they provide you with a service you use every single day without even realising.

 

 

Ten reasons to love Teesside (and the bits only the natives will understand)

1. South Cleveland Garages – Anyone old enough can make the immediate reference between the car dealer and a Tina Turner classic…. SIMPLY THE BEST… (For those who arent sure… Take a look here: South Cleveland Garages(C) Joel Young

 

2. Suggitts – A trip to Ayton? Well aye… Only if the whole family can indulge in a spot of Suggitts ice cream. (Oh, and take away some of the sweets too…)

3. The Transporter Bridge – People may slag Middlesbrough off, it may be the worst place to live in the country (MAY) but there is no doubt any Teessider who sees the iconic bridge on the skyline immediately feels a humongous sense of pride. “That’s my home.”

Photography for Middlesbrough Borough Council Summer 2008

Photography for Middlesbrough Borough Council Summer 2008

4. Redca.. (No R ;)) As soon as the barometer peaks over 12 degrees it appears the entire population of Teesside head off to Redca for a lemon top, a look at the vertical pier and a quick dip in the sea. It always appears to be at least 15 degrees colder the minute you arrive mind.

Redcar - Council
(C) Redcar and Cleveland Council

5. Dorman Long – Dorman Long is an engineering consultancy and equipment manufacturer for the construction of long-span bridges, power stations, refineries, offshore structures, stadia and other large building structures. Dorman Long was once listed on the London Stock Exchange. Oh, and they built some of the most iconic bridges in the world. Proud.

6. The Boro – a hotbed of North East football it might not be – but with our team at least we get something. Over the years a combination of promotions, relegations, European runs, play off finals, cup finals and the ever eternal hope has kept each and every Boro going. So we may not have seen a lot, but we see enough to keep us coming back, and keep it interesting. At lest it’s varied I guess.

rriverside
(C) Mfc.co.uk

7. Roseberry Topping – It’s that big hill. (Over 1,000 feet actually) You know the one you can see over near the other littler hills? Plenty Teessiders take to the topping in times of nice (and not so) weather – to look at the stunning views of the Tees Valley area from the top. Even the chemical (‘Smoggy’) works look good on the horizon. Who said it was grim up north?

Rosberry Topping
(C) The National Trust

8. The Europa – There were collective gasps and sobs when it’s closure was announced. Based on Borough road, it was one of the best places to go for an end of the night Parmo (or just a parmo, it was a restaurant after all.) But fear not… you can now get them delivered to your home from a new Middlesbrough takeaway opened by the former staff. Dom’s takeaway on Acklam Road, was opened by ex owners daughter Anna, and she drafted her dad in to make his legendary parmos. Sorted.

Europa Gazette
(C) The Gazette

9. Using your Yellow Card at The Crown – who remembers £1 cheesy pop Monday? The queue, which stretched right back down Linthorpe Road (on a school night too) for people to fill their boots. It was always – ALWAYS busy. It also isn’t apparent to most people that the N on the Crown sign has been backwards since it very first opened… go check!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(C) Sabre Roads

10. The Barrage… Tees Barrage white water centre has attracted top events and competitors from Teesside and further. After a redevelopment, the course is perfect for adrenaline hunters who want to hit the water. You can powerboat, white water kayak and canoe, to name a few. Oh, there is also a pub at the top of the hill too. Win Win.

One of the worst places to live? Yer jokin aren’t ya?

Firstly I would like to say thank you to all of the well wishes and thoughts that have come in this week. And to apologise for the quietness, and if I haven’t replied, but they are very much appreciated. 
Lots of people have sent love, and asked about dad too – and on behalf of him I would like to say thank you, as he ‘doesn’t do social media’ ha. 
Lastly; I would like to share some funny anecdotes that will hopefully raise a smile… 
It’s not a secret that Boro gushed through Ali’s veins. On more than one occasion, if the family had stayed at ours after a party – he would wake up frightfully early, sprightly, stretch out and shout ‘UP THE BORO’ before going to read his morning paper. (Yes, really) 
There was junior reds, run by him and dad – where I would be religiously, one of only 5/6 girls most times! 
Or the parties at his house. Notorious New Year’s Eve gatherings – where we would inevitably spend more time round next door after midnight, after standing in the middle of the street singing Auld Lang Syne. It was always Christmas at ours, new year at theirs. That’s just what we did.
Everybody was welcome. Even if he had never met you, the door was open to join in the fun. 
I remember too, he wanted to interview me about collecting advent calendars for his breakfast show – but decided he wouldn’t phone me until ‘later’ as I liked a lie in. He phoned at 8:30.. Thanks for the lie in!! 

You could always add in the lot of us crowded round a tiny iPad mini screen at Ali’s wedding last year watching the play off semi first leg! Football, families and weddings! 

I could go on and on, but this is just a short, sweet, and hopefully smiley memory to share – and a thank you to all of you far and wide for the love that has poured in. 
I guess from the start in life, and with him and my dad in my life – I never had a chance really did I? Boro and football was always going to be a priority (otherwise I’m sure they would have had something to say!) 
Teesside has lost a brother this week. But he was a brother to look up to. If I can grow to be half of the broadcaster he was, then I’ll be happy. 
So uncle Ali, the Holgate in the sky awaits you. Slide in, two footed shouting UTB & let them know you have arrived. Too early, undoubtedly, but being early was your thing wasn’t it? 
It was an absolute privilege to not only know you, but to call you my family. You are an inspiration to so many, and the legacy you leave behind is a testament to the man that you are. 
It won’t be the same without you, and you can never be replaced – but you can always be remembered. 
I’ll see you soon, and in the meantime – I’m off round yours for a parmo 😊 UTB.

  

Boost for Catterick with opening of new shopping complex

 

As Catterick’s Princes Gate out-of-town shopping complex opens it’s doors, LAURI COX talks to some local residents about their views on the new centre.

 

Phoenix House Army rehabilitation centre, which is within half a mile of the new complex, has seen the benefits first hand.

 

One service woman, a beneficiary of the centre, who wishes to remain anonymous spoke of the new confidence that she has gained in being able to easily take advantage of the shopping centre: “I like it. Before, I had to go into Richmond or Darlington and I couldn’t do that without somebody with me. Now I can go down the road and get my shopping, and I can go alone.”

 

These positive sentiments are echoed by Melanie Dickinson, Executive Officer at Phoenix House.

 

“We have a gentleman who comes on a mobility scooter, so he can go from here to a shopping centre, to a cinema, easily, without having to even take any additional transport.”

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/lauri-cox/melanie-dickinson

 

John Burbridge, Logistics and Support Assistant at Phoenix House has also spoken about the employment opportunities the new shopping centre has bought to the area.

 

“They work on a system where they can work on zero hour contracts, part time contracts, or full time.

 

The army wives can come and go.”

 

https://soundcloud.com/lauri-cox/john-ph

 

And one former beneficiary of the centre, Justin, who now works there part time is ecstatic that he can now go out for tea in Catterick.

 

“I work on reception part time, but I came through the centre as a wounded soldier back in 2013 and I never left.

 

It’s great, if all the rooms are occupied and they don’t want to eat here they go and eat down in Hungry Horse or Brewers Fayre, fantastic idea having them both together.”

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/lauri-cox/justin-ph

 

It isn’t only the local Garrison, the largest in Europe that is speaking about the benefits. Pupils at local Risedale School also spoke of their delight at the new centre, and how it has made them more sociable.

 

 

Reece Winsfield, a pupil at the school spoke of the different benefits it has had for him.

 

“It’s all in walking distance and not too far away.” Commenting also on how it has made him more able to socialise with his friends: “Before this complex was here I used to just go to a football pitch around the corner, but now I’m more sociable with my friends.”

 

https://soundcloud.com/lauri-cox/risedale-school-pupil-reece-winsfield

 

https://soundcloud.com/lauri-cox/reece-winsfield-speak-about-being-sociable

 

While Laura Middleton highlights the fact even saving the bus fare into Darlington for her and her friends is a benefit. “It saves a lot of money because I used to get the bus down, maybe once every other weekend me and my friends would go down for a shopping trip.”

 

https://soundcloud.com/lauri-cox/risedale-school-pupil-laura-middleton

IMG_7220

 

Hannah Simpson, 15, year 11. Rebecca Blackman, 15, year 11. Corey Matthews, 14, year 10.
Front row l-r: Reece Winsfield, 14, year 9. Samantha Wood – assistant principle. Laura Middleton, 14, year 10.

With the new cinema, shops and eateries, it seems that Princes Gate is something that Catterick has been waiting for a long time, whether it be for troops, former troops, wives, children or further.

For more, please see:

https://richmondnoticeboard.wordpress.com/

Stop the world, I want to get off…

It’s a funny thing, life, isn’t it? So many chapters, some short, some long, some which seem never ending. But they do end. Each and every chapter has an end.

For anyone who has read my previous blogs about mental health, they will know that I don’t hide any problems I may have had. I will openly talk about it, in the hope that one day, the stigma surrounding “imaginary” illnesses will disappear, for good.

This chapter starts somewhere in 2012, maybe early 2013. A toxic (for the pair of us) relationship, which neither of us could get out of, even though we knew that would have been best. We loved each other, but were bad for each other and got stuck in a vicious circle. I became lost. I didn’t know who I was any more.

Having had previous problems with anxiety, depression and mental health in general, it was testing at times, to say the least.

However, I don’t want to go into too much detail about that – I’m not an ex on a rant and I’m not here to bad mouth anyone… what I am here, hopefully to do, is to make people realise that there is no shame in being different. There is no shame in reaching out and asking for help. One of the strongest things you can do, is seek help.

Anyway; this is where the full story begins – in mid to late September 2013, I found out I was pregnant. I am aware many of you know I was ill, but don’t know why (I don’t tend to share a lot of things like that). I was in and out of hospital for two maybe 3 weeks, every day for invasive scans, blood tests and check ups. They couldn’t find my baby anywhere – but my body was certainly pregnant – that much they did know.

I didn’t know what to do. Isn’t the most natural thing in the world for a woman, to carry a child, protect it and give birth to it a little further down the line? I couldn’t even manage that. They eventually found my baby, it had become lodged in my fallopian tube.

They gave me two options. An injection – which is a cancer treatment to hopefully lessen the mass and pass through the body naturally – or an operation. I chose the former. I have never known pain like it, physically or mentally.

However, me being me – realised there was nothing I could do about it and I just had to get on with it. That is, until a phone call one Tuesday afternoon from the hospital – 2 weeks after my injection – asking me to come straight in to my ward – as the injection hadn’t worked.

I took myself to the hospital, and met with my nurse who gave me the options – stay in and have emergency surgery in the morning – or walk out of the hospital with a high likliehood that I would be dead, or very seriously ill within 48 hours, as it continued to grow, would burst and cause internal bleeding. I had only ever been to a&e once in my life before all of this, and here I was being told this news. I knew there was only one option really.

I had to sign consent forms, was placed on 3 or 4 drips, and prepared for my operation the next morning. It’s funny the little things you remember, as I was Nil By Mouth, and they let me have a cracker at 11pm, and I stayed up all night streaming the ashes on my phone.

Anyway; the surgery went ahead the following daw as planned – and I came round in an anaesthetic haze demanding to know where my mum was, and telling them that they had to take my catheter bag out, as I “didn’t want one of those things and needed a wee.” Despite the fact I couldn’t even walk.

I’m just telling this story briefly, as there is no need to go into too much detail around it.

I was discharged the following day, with a beautiful set of surgical stockings and some injections that had to be administered once a day. This, after the surgeon came to tell me that they couldn’t save my ovary or tube. My mum or sister had to bathe me at 25 years old. I had honestly never felt so low in my life. So degraded. And it was 3 weeks until Christmas.I constantly doubted myself, asking if I was still a woman because I only had one side left. I wasn’t a proper woman any more.

So, I asked my mum one day, if she could take me into town – I wanted to see if I could get some Christmas shopping done. The humiliation I felt, when we realised I couldn’t manage and needed a wheelchair was like nothing I have experienced before. However, we made light of it, quipping that we had a free bag carrier at least.

Christmas camIMG_9729e, and as is tradition – I visit my dads on the evening. Only this year, I couldn’t drive – so he had to come and get me. I went up, opened my presents, ate my dinner, took my tablets and fell asleep. I felt so rude. And something which to this day I regret, as it turned out to be my grandmas final Christmas with us.

We never told her the full story of what happened, we just told her it was related to my ovary. Im glad of this, as she was my best friend and it would have broken her little heart.

So, we fast forward to February – and my first time back driving – a man writes my car off my smashing into the back of me. No big deal really, a car is a material possession and can be replaced. It just seemed I was in a bad run of luck.

Slowly, I returned to uni – staying late every Wednesday to catch up. My tutors and classmates couldn’t have been more helpful and for this I am eternally grateful. I would never have got through that year without them. (and I did, I passed with flying colours somehow!)

In time, I managed to be able to wear waistbands and jeans again, got myself a new car and some more freedom and independence. I carried on visiting my grandma every day, and taking her shopping or going on our little outings.

However, in April, whilst at uni – I got a message from my mum telling me my terminally ill nana had been put on end of life medication & to expect the worst. I came home immediately and went to see her. She passed away the following day. It was the first grandparent I had lost that I was fully able to understand – and seeing my mum so heartbroken broke my heart. The first person I went to, was my best friend, my grandma.

I wrote a poem (as I do, my release) and read it at her funeral. Then life just carried on.

Until June that is; when I got a call from grandma one Saturday morning; she had had a fall and could I go round please. When I got there, she told me that she had fallen the night before and didn’t want to bother me as she knew I was at work until 10. I immediately phoned an ambulance, phoned work and explained and was told that I would have to find cover or go in. Sorry, but no. As stated, and as you probably all know – my grandma was my best friend. We were so close, spoke every day. Ever since I was a little girl she had looked after me, and I her.

She never really came back from that – I would visit hospital every day – take her in her favourite sweets and posessions and joke around with her. Latterly, when she was moved into a care home – I visited pretty much every day. I had a 3 day holiday in Ibiza, which I was reluctant to go on but I knew she was being looked after. As soon as I got back, I went to see her and she stole my wristbands!

Then; September 6th 2014, after I had visited her in hospital (she had been re-admitted) I was getting ready at a friend’s house for a well-deserved night out – and I got a phone call. I must go to the hospital as she had gone downhill. My world fell apart in that one phone call. My heart literally broke.

My friend, who I will not name – as I haven’t asked her permission, drove me to the hospital while I phoned my mum and dad to tell them. I phoned my other friends, who were coming out with us – and each one of them came to the hospital and sat in the family room waiting for me. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people around me that night.

I begged her, pleaded with her, tried to make deals with her – but I knew she had given up. She wanted to leave this sphere. Sammie brought my godchildren in to say goodbye, and we left.

We returned the next day, sitting, talking to her and waiting for the inevitable.

She passed away at 8.25pm on September 7th. She wasn’t alone. However the nurses, and my family had advised me to come home at around 7 to try and get some rest.

I will never forget that moment as long as I live. The ONE person I turned to, my little best friend, gone. I was completely and utterly gone. Apparently I even screamed.

I went back to the hospital to collect her things, give her a cuddle and a kiss and made her look smart. Odd, I know. But I had to do it. For me, and for her.

For me, given everything else in the 15 months previous – was the worst. I didn’t know what to do and I felt completely lost. My close friends worried that I would go off the rails. I didn’t.

I continued (somewhat limited) at uni, and tried to muddle through. I don’t know how on earth I managed it, but I passed my course with a merit, just one module from a distinction.

This isn’t some back story into my life, but it’s a story to others. No matter what life throws at you, and how sometimes you feel like it may last forever – it doesn’t. I suffered three of the worst things imaginable in such a short space of time and I won’t lie, it did affect me physically and mentally. But I knew I had to keep going. However, I also knew I needed help.

I now attend counselling once a week, and that isn’t something I am afraid to admit. The strongest decision I ever made, was telling people I needed help. That I wasn’t coping.

When you have been to the depths that a lot of us have, sometimes there seems to be no way out. You feel like you can’t tell anyone as “they won’t understand” or “I’m being silly” alongside a myriad of other things that run through your mind.

However, I’ve learned a lot. I still have my bad days, weeks or months. But I know to tell someone. A little text or a phone call – and I know I’m not crazy. I have learned, over the last 18 months how much I appreciate my amazing family, and who my real and true friends are.

There is so much stigma attached to mental health issues, which is why I write my blogs. There shouldn’t be. If you opened up and even asked people – I can guarantee you they are a lot more common than you think.

So, my message is this – you want to stop the world and get off? You don’t. It feels never ending, there is no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel. There is. Only, when you have been so low, can you begin to realise and appreciate even small things in life.

So many times along my journey, which in all honesty began way way before 2012 – I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve laid in bed for weeks or months on end, and I’ve had the darkest of thoughts. But I’ve fought through them all. Each time I do, it makes me realise that it only makes you stronger (without sounding cliché)

Sometimes, things just crop up – but please realise – you are never the only one – and you are never, ever alone.

Never give up. Giving up is easy. Riding it out when you think no one understands is the real courage.

IMG_5781  IMG_0207

What a difference 18 months makes.

Lauri x

ps… My other mental health blogs are here – http://apicthousandwords.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/last-one-for-now-monster-in-my-head.html

With a name like Antonio Lulic, it’s no surprise when asked about his heritage, he explains that his Great-grandfather was Croatian, and his Father and Grandfather are Chilean. 


So, where did Antonio grow up? Well, Sunderland to be precise. Until he was 10 anyway. He then moved to Chester-Le-Street, before later Wakefield and London. 

Not that he sees much of London of course, or of any fixed abode for a long period of time – as he tours relentlessly around the world, including with his long term friend – Ed Sheeran


“My favourite place has been Thailand. I ended up jamming with a local band on my last night, and they invited me back to do it, paid,” he remembers. 

“That was so good, but hard work. It was 28 degrees, strings were snapping every five minutes and the sea was at my ankles. Sometimes I would literally just play to the sea, however sometimes there were big groups of tourists.” 


So, how does a guy from Sunderland end up supporting Ed on a South American tour? 


“I just text him.” He says casually. 

“I asked who was supporting him out there, and he text back saying, ‘you’re South American, you could do it!’” 


It was lovely to be back, he says, to visit family still living in Chile, his granddad, uncles etc. 


Antonio remembers his first visit to Chile with his dad, where he had the realisation he could get citizenship. “I thought cool yeah! I want two passports like James Bond!” 


From the huge auditoriums of South America building up a loyal fan base, Antonio came home (just for a while!) – supporting English alternative folk band Nizlopi. He was touring the North of England, and managed to fit in a visit to perform an intimate private gig at Darlington College, where his opening words were; “The last gig I played was in front of 14,000 people. This is brilliant. A lot more scary, but a lot less scary in some ways.” 


For a funny guy who openly admits he pieces together fragments of songs until it’s done, sometimes while cooking his tea, and thinks of song writing like ‘having a poo’ it showed a soft, humble side. That no audience is too big or too small. 


He talked about writing “The City of Austin Texas” when he was, literally, in Austin, Texas, travelling 28 hours across the desert after a break up with his then girlfriend. A trip, which the two of them were meant to take together. He draws inspiration from various things. 

And although starting guitar relatively late, at the age of 17, (he was drummer in a band with his friends, and was sick of carrying the most equipment round), Antonio just won’t stop. 


“Ideally, what I want, is to have a tour where my name is the headline act. 

“That’s hard work. As a musician it’s easy to get lazy, but you just have to work, work, and work.” 


When questioned who he would custard pie in the face, the answer is maybe not what you would expect. 

“For the sake of being controversial, Simon Cowell for inventing those talent shows. I think they are made for entertainment, and can be a Red Herring for musicians. However, I do know people who have entered them, and it has really helped them.” 


Antonio defines himself as a singer-songwriter – despite openly admitting that it changes all the time, from folk to folk rock amongst others, but notes that he is constantly changing.


With his gravelly voice, and his animated stage presence, it’s clear to see why he is building up a loyal army of fans in all corners of the world. 


He’s warm, he’s welcoming, and he’s funny. 


Filling the gaps between songs with funny stories and anecdotes from his time on the road and his life. His performances just draw you in, and you feel as if you are almost there, in Austin Texas, with him. 


So, what’s next for him? 

“I’m touring the North this week. Then I’m going to America, and back to Brazil later in the year.” It just never stops. “However, one of my aims for this year is to brush up on my Spanish!” 


With all the time spent on various modes of transport, where, in his words, ‘you can’t do anything’ (unlike his passport inspiration, 007) let’s hope Antonio can fulfil this and is fluent by the time he returns to South America. 


His latest EP SON is available to download on iTunes now. 


www.antoniolulic.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Hero of Flight 4U5925

There is one name that is prominent in the downing of German Wings flight 4U5925. A co-pilot – accused of deliberately crashing 80 tons of metal into a mountainside.

But little has been said about Patrick Sondheimer, the captain who so desperately tried to save the jet, and all those onboard – left in the shadows.

There are no photos of Patrick. No face to put to his apparent final words “Open the damn door! For God sake, open the door!”

Only, he didn’t. The young, German, co-pilot placed an oxygen mask over his face and sat in complete silence as the plane descended rapidly into the French Alps, while Captain Sondheimer desperately fought to break the cockpit door down with an axe.

german wings

(PIC – depo.ba)

I have deliberately not named the accused in this article, preferring to focus on the valiant efforts of a true hero.

Surely, for a man whose last living act was selflessly trying to save the lives of 149 people on board his aircraft – there should be more credit. 149 people got on that plane that morning, some returning home – some on business, and others taking in a little holiday time – placed their trust in the two people in the cockpit, and Sondheimer was the one that kept their trust till the end.

It has been reported that the accused once said; “I will do something and be remembered forever.” And this, with the media coverage, delving into a troubled personal life, and repeatedly printing his name are giving him exactly what he wanted.

The real onus, the true hero in the story – is the man who in his final moments – still cared more about the people who trusted him.