The Mother of All Updates… Maybe. Kinda.

I’ve forgotten how to blog. I can write comments on everyone else’s blogs, but I’ve forgotten how to write. But here we go. An update, of sorts, for anyone who might maybe stumble into Renlish land again. I keep intending to write and it never really happens. Though to be fair, this past 18 months or so has been somewhat distracting.

Back-track right to May 2017… that was the month my uterus was evicted. FUN TIMES! There’s a post somewhere on this here blog about that experience. Feel free to read it. Should I link it? My SEO plugin thingimabob thinks I should link it. Ok… so here is that link; my Game of Thrones themed hysterectomy story. It was going to be a multipart series, though to be honest, it was a little traumatic, even though I make fun of it and I never really got around to writing about the healing process. 2017 was basically spent in recovery mode from that. It wasn’t a lot of fun. I ended up back in hospital and the doctors once or twice. I’m better now, though! So… YAY!

A few months later, around August, I had a “FUCK IT!” moment, and bought a couple tickets to DragonCon 2018 for the Man and I. And then I spent several more thousand dollars on hotel rooms and airfares and car hire and… Basically I spent $10K on a five-day trip. Worth it. Because THIS happened 12 months later…

Capt'n Jack Fucking Harkness, me, and The Man.
Capt’n Jack Fucking Harkness, me, and The Man.

Yeah, that’s a picture of the man and I… WITH JOHN FUCKING BARROWMAN. IN ATLANTA.

I will do a separate blog about that, I think. It’s a tale worth telling. Everything from AN UNMENTIONABLE AIRLINE taking us off our flights causing us to get to DragonCon a full day late, to the very Christian taxi driver who preached at us for a solid 25 minutes… and then conveniently didn’t have change for a $50. And us Catholics should be ashamed? Really? REALLY? Anyway.

And then, around my birthday in December, the unit a couple doors down from my mother’s house went up for sale and I tried desperately to buy it for myself. Unfortunately the agents in charge of that sale were… Let’s just call them turds, because that’s what they were. I could write the saga of trying to buy the unit but it still upsets me, even a year later. Needless to say, I am still less of a home to call my own.

And then in January this year… Bindi (aka That Fucking Cat, aka Bindipuss, aka my little heart kitty) got sick. Really sick. Very sick. It turns out that she’d only had one functioning kidney and had been in that condition for quite some time. Unfortunately she had developed some abscesses on the one working kidney. It meant a week in hospital on medication and a small procedure to drain the kidney, followed by a few more months of medication and worrying and trying to get her to eat. I wasn’t ready in January to let her go but it was clear by May that she needed to go. She was getting sicker and her apetite dropped down to zero. When we realised we’d been keeping her going on nothing but those Dine treat tubes for a couple of weeks, it was clear that we had to let go. So now she sits on my shelf, a pretty gold-flecked green glass dome created by Memorial Glass.

This is Bindi now. Beautiful forever.
This is Bindi now. Beautiful forever.

Since May it’s basically been me travelling between my mum’s house where I have a room (but not MY old room because the witch has turned that into her craft room) to my boyfriend’s share house where he has a room… Doing what I can to stay sane in an insane world. The black dog is ever-present. I don’t see my friends nearly as often as I like, in fact I have minded the house of some of my closest friends and seen their cats more than I have seen them.

I still spend an obscene amount of money on nail polish and colouring books and art supplies.

SPEAKING OF COLOURING…

A spread from Escape to Shakespeare's World
A spread from Escape to Shakespeare’s World

That’s still very much a thing that I intend of sharing lots of soon.

And most recently, I turned 40 this year.

40.

How the fuck did that happen?

Art Bloggery – The Colouring Craze

A few years ago, like just about everyone else on the planet, I started colouring. Yes, according to social media experts, I had regressed depressingly back to my childhood where apparently I have daddy issues, or something. According to artists everywhere else, I was being lazy and not truly my creative self by colouring someone else’s work regardless of the fact that’s sort of the point of colouring books. Finally, according to psychotherapists the world over, I was being mindful and relaxing my brain.

Well, I’ll go with the last of those because I actually do find it relaxing. As with all of my hobbies (like sculpting and jewellery-making and digital art), colouring can be intricate work taking lots of concentration and focus. I find that that focus on one single thing for as many hours as it takes before my fingers start to go numb (they do, it’s hilarious) is actually a blessed release from the near constant noise in my brain. That and I like making pretty pictures and learning new skills.

As usual, any time I start a new hobby, I jump in head first and buy ALL THE THINGS.

Most people buy what they need; maybe a few expensive items, maybe a handful of artist quality pencils.

Not me.

What is this pithy 12 pencil set you speak of?! I shall have ALL the pencils.

Seriously, the 132 Prismacolor Premier set was not enough. I sold that set and bought the 150 set because I needed ALL the colours.

(And then I sold that set too because Prismacolor Premiers are the crappiest pencils ever. But more on that later.)

So once I had all the pencils, I needed all the books. Cue a collection of over 130 colouring books that followed swiftly after. And that collection is still growing, though I have slowed down and now mainly focus on books by particular artists.

And then came the water colours, the blending mediums, the special erasers and sharpeners, the cases, the gesso…

You get me.

So now I colour. The thing I particularly love about colouring is that I can do it in a relatively small space and it’s not such a big deal to pack up and move if I need to, unlike jewellery-making and some of my messier hobbies.

And so, finally, this blog will be what I have always thought of making it – a showcase of my creative endeavours with maybe a few rambles in between. Gone are the days where my longer rambles are worth anything to anyone.

(Don’t worry, if you used to read Renlish and there was something you particularly wanted to read again, just let me know. I have everything saved in drafts.)

The Secret Garden
The Frog Pond – The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

Diary of a Hysterectomy – The Hospital

Day 0. “Eviction Day”

I’m a wreck. No other way to put it. The enormity of what’s happened over the past 18 months (marriage separation and uprooting my life, illness, the death of my aunt, etc), and now this has proven to be too much to handle today. I’m tired and anxious and can’t stop crying.

Anything and everything is setting me off and I am so, so cold. I’m taken to what will be my room and, thank you private health insurance, my room is a delightfully vintage single with an outlook onto the leafy street below. Single and bloody cold. What is it with hospitals and having the temperature set to a max of 12 degrees?! Anyway, M and I wait for the nurses to come in, check my files and issue me with the appropriate wrist bands. Thus begins the constant repetitive questions:


“What is your name and date of birth?”
“What are you here for today?”
“Do you have any allergies?”

The theatre nurse comes in and introduces herself and I lose the plot entirely, much to her shock. I’m sheepish through my tears and assure her that it’s nothing personal.

Catlyn Tears
Can’t. Stop. Crying.

I change into my gown (less clothes, even colder now) and pressure socks and with a last smooch from M, I’m wheeled out, still bawling, to surgery where I meet one of the other theatre nurses who gives me one of those wonderful heated air blankets. OMG SO WARM! I nestle under it and ignore the urge to put my head under the covers and hide.

My anaesthetist arrives and he sees that I am one big snotty mess. He gently tells me what’s going to happen, how I am going to feel, that he’s there to make sure I stay asleep (a bloody good thing if you ask me) and bring me out of it again when all is said and done. His voice is very soothing and I am more inclined to believe that I’m not going to die this day.

Finally I get wheeled into theatre and there’s my surgeon to greet me. She grabs my hand, holds it tight and gives me a pat before going through the official process of starting the procedure. They take away my heated airbag and I instantly start shivering and crying again.

The surgeon hovers above me while the anaesthetist does his thing. I squeeze her hand as the needle goes in and the cold heat of the happy sleepy-time medicine shoots up my arm.

I only vaguely remember asking for another shot of whatever that was before I surrendered to the darkness.

That lovely fuzzy feeling.
More glorious, numbing medicine…

Waking up again seconds – though it might have been hours – later, I realise that I’m already back in my room. If I woke up in recovery, I don’t remember it.

I don’t remember much of anything for the rest of that day.

The one thing I do remember before drifting off again was that it was FUCKING FREEZING in that room.

Day 1 – First day Post-Op

Happy sleepy-time drugs finally wore off and reality set in. I was down one uterus but up one very annoying catheter. Not in a whole lot of pain, but then I hadn’t tried to move, so “yay, catheter!” I guess.

Thoroughly entertained by the fact that my entire stomach is numb from mid-rib to my girl bits. I spend much time poking at it. My stomach, that is. I poke my stomach. Not my girl bits.

Nurses (both student and fully qualified varieties) are lovely and checking on me every couple of hours around the clock. Lovely, but it means I can’t sleep. The pressure cuff around my arm keeps waking me and they keep asking me my name and date of birth and if I have any allergies.

I discover the Food Network on television.

I’m still cold.

I keep confirming my name and date of birth every two hours.

Every. Two. Hours.

Day 2.

Given my first Clexane in the wee hours of the morning. For such a tiny needle, that shit hurts like hell.

Still being asked who I am as if the answer will be a surprise.

Still cold. Starting to think the coldness is a sterile environment thing. It has to be cold so bacteria doesn’t grow. At least, that’s what I am telling myself to justify why I can’t feel my fingers and toes.

Nurse comes in with a tray of Stuff and Things™. Interesting.

“We’re taking the catheter out today!”

Oh. Yay…?

YEOUCH. That is the most unpleasant sensation.

“You feel like getting up and having a shower now?”

What the what, now?!

“Not really…”

“It’s best if you start moving around, it helps speed up healing.”

Nurse-speak for, “You stink. You need a shower and we need to change the sheets.”

I slowly – so slowly – manage to manoeuvre myself out of bed.

Oh, wow. Wow. With a side of OW. You know that sensation, like you’ve been sliced open and your guts are falling out? No? Well, use your imagination.

Hysterectomy Hack and Slash
Exactly like this.

I am honestly frightened everything is going to fall out.

I feel vaguely sorry for the poor student nurse who has to stand in the shower and help wash me but I am feeling mostly extremely aware that I am naked, sore, and not alone in the shower. The hot water is a small comfort but I would much prefer it alone.

By the time I’m out, dried and dressed in my own PJs, my bed has been remade and I have to admit I feel better for the shower. I finally beg for a couple more blankets as I just can’t deal with the cold anymore.

Extra blankets are brought and I am happy as a bug missing a uterus in a rug.

Warmth and food and sheer exhaustion from just moving between the bed and the shower means that I crash out hard for a couple of hours. When I wake up the nurse comes in and says that I was completely out and she didn’t want to disturb me so she just checked my temp while I was sleeping and left me alone.

I really like that nurse.

Day 3.

Given Clexane again. Nasty little fucker of a needle, that. Not a great way to wake up.

I really want to go home now. Third night in on very little real sleep apart from cat-naps that are interrupted by changing of the guard at the nurse’s station or pain keeping me awake means that I am very quickly losing the plot. I’m tired and bored and I miss my mum and my cats and my boyfriend and I am seriously starting to regret having the operation because of the sheer amount of discomfort I’m in. Moving hurts, the bed hurts, my neck hurts, every muscle not used to being employed for the simple act of walking is screaming at me. I’m on a cocktail of Endone, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol and something that might have been slow release morphine…

The nurses ask me how I’m feeling once or twice and I just start crying again. They do their best to soothe me and explain that even though it might not seem like it, I’m actually doing quite well.

I don’t believe them.

I want to go home, I tell them.

I can go home when I can manage to go to the toilet on my own, they tell me.

OH REALLY?

CHALLENGE. FUCKING. ACCEPTED.

Thus begins the Quest to Poop.

The Mission to Void the Bowels.

The Goal to Drop Anchor in Port.

You get it.

I can’t go home before they see that my poop shoot is shooting the poop unimpeded.

In hospital, you poop…. or you die.

With the catheter gone I’m peeing like a champ on my own. Still can’t feel much down there so it’s only when my bladder is absolutely aching that I realise I need to go. I can never really tell when my bladder is empty either, which is slightly disconcerting. It’s a weird sensation of stuff being there but not quite as there as it was pre-op.

I decide that since I am up and able to shuffle around by myself without help, I may as well have a shower. In the meantime, someone comes in and changes my bed again.

THEY STEAL MY BLANKETS.

Major whining ensues until I get them back again.

Missing everyone. With the exception of M, no one has come in to visit me. I don’t mind it so much but I honestly had not expected to be in hospital for so long and the lack of sleep mixed with pain mixed with medication is making me constantly weepy and I just want a friendly face that isn’t attached to an arm with a hand that’s weilding a needle…

End of the day, still no poop. Worrying because I have hideous, painful gas. My stomach is bloated beyond ridiculousness.

Day 4. This day has been officially renamed to  Waiting to Poop Day

The nurses still can’t remember my name or date of birth. It’s starting to get old.

Able to walk around a little bit more so I’m wandering slowly around the ward. I’m doing well, so they tell me. I don’t care, I tell them back. I want to go home.

“But you need to…”

“Poo. Yes, I KNOW.”

Peppermint water is supplied to help settle my bloated tummy but all that does is make me gag. I’m given some laxatives but after a few hours there’s still no joy.

Suppository time.

Yes, it’s that glamorous but I no longer care.

I WILL TAKE THINGS BEING SHOVED UP MY BUTT TO GET OUT OF THIS COLD, COLD HOSPITAL.

And like everything else in this hell hole, the nurses fingers were freezing too.

Suppository works in the vaguest sense of working. The colt from Old Regret didn’t exactly get away but the gate was left open. I no longer feel so stopped up. Small blessings.

“Can I leave now?”

“Yes, you can go home…”

“YAY!”

“…tomorrow.”

“OH FUCK YOU.”

Day 5.

I’m going home today! I’m going home today!  The nurses come in and ask me my name and date of birth again, but this time I get a new question…

“Who is coming to pick you up?”

I shower. I pack. I watch more Food Network.

I repeat my name and date of birth at least four more times before M arrives in the early afternoon to rescue me. But we’re still stuck there for a while as we wait for my discharge and to be given all the wonderful drugs which stop me from feeling the fact that I have a rather large hole in my abdomen.

The trip home is an interesting experience. G-force and abdominal surgery are not happy bedfellows. Every time the car breaks, I feel my entire lower half lurch. Fortunately I have a towel and wrap it around my belly for support – I could kiss whoever it was that suggested that little trick.

Essure update. AKA “Now I need a hysterectomy to fix this shit!”

I figured it was about time to update the situation with my Essure implants now that they’ve been in for a few months. Nothing has improved and as you can see from the title of this post, I am having a hysterectomy to have the things removed.

Why do I need such a serious surgery to get rid of something so small?

Let me explain…

While a lot of the constant pain immediately following the procedure eventually died away, I noticed a gradual, itchy, throbbing pain starting probably about one or one and a half weeks into my regular cycle.  This pain would increase in intensity until I started spotting a week later. I was (and am) still using the BC pill so you can imagine how frustrating it is.

My period pain itself went from uncomfortable but manageable to horrific “GIVE ME ALL YOUR MERSYNDOL NOW!” levels.  I’ve never experienced anything like it.  I was hoping the first time would be a once off but every period since has been exactly the same. Excruciating.

I knew I needed to get them out. I wasn’t going to be like some women I have since met who have dealt with similar symptoms, and much worse, for years.

This time I’d done my reading before going to see my surgeon again. After much investigating, I realised that I was not a candidate for a salpingectomy (just having tubes removed) as one of my implants is protruding into my uterus by about 7 or 8 coils. This means that if just the tubes were taken out, they would have to leave part of the implant in my body.

Can I get a HELL NO!?

So I decided it was a full hysterectomy for me.

Armed with this information, I went back to my doctor who, predictably, was dubious about my reasons for being there. The expected questions were asked. I am fairly certain she thought I had changed my mind about wanting children.

I know I got a little hysterical during that appointment. I wanted to be believed that everything I was experiencing was directly related to the Essure and I didn’t want to argue with her about getting them out. In the end my doctor agreed to do the surgery for me without much fuss.

So now I’m having a hysterectomy.

I am frustrated and angry that it has come to this. I’m upset that I am literally being forced to decide to have my uterus taken out or just suffer.

I am pissed as hell that women have fewer and fewer rights with regards to bearing children (or the decision not to) and yet we are used a guinea pigs. The fact of the matter remains that Bayer have not had these things properly tested. The risks outweigh ALL of the benefits.

If you, dear reader, are also suffering after having tubal occlusion done with Essure implants (or any coil or mesh implant), please lodge a report with the Theraputic Goods Administraion on their page. The TGA needs to know that this device is causing more harm than good.

Essure Implants – A Testimonial

Warning – This post talks about female reproductive organs and contraception. If you don’t like reading about that stuff, go away.

I’m taking the opportunity to write about my experience with the (somewhat infamous) Essure implants.

If you’ve found your way here after googling Essure either before or after you’ve had the operation, firstly, don’t panic.

DO NOT PANIC. It’s the worst thing you can do. I know there is a crap-tonne of information out there and just about all of it bad, and my own story isn’t that great either.  That being said, I wanted to relate my experience because all I could personally find were horror stories.

Preface

Like many gynecologist’s have done, my doctor suggested tubal occlusion, aka an Essure implant, because it was a quick and simple procedure and something that I could have done while I was getting another medical issue seen to.

On the face of it, Essure implants sounded awesome. No requirement to put me under a general anaesthetic, I didn’t need to go to hospital to get it done as there was no need to open me up surgically, recovery time was two days at most as opposed to a couple of weeks for a tubal ligation. Because I am fat (my doctor had the good grace to call me “cuddly”) she said that it would be the easiest option for us both. I couldn’t disagree – being overweight does come with it’s own complications when it comes to medical procedures. But it all still sounded great.

That was pretty much all that was told to me about the procedure and the implants. I got a brochure detailing how the implants worked and was sent on my merry way.

An Explanation

For those not in the know, a tubal occlusion is where two tiny spring coils are fed into the fallopian tubes. This causes a natural reaction within the body and the irritation from the coils causes scar tissue to form around the coils, thus providing a natural block in the fallopian tubes that stops the egg delivery process from the ovaries. The name of these coils are called Essure and they are made by Bayer.

My Procedure

When I went back almost a year later, my doctor was still happily recommending the implants but she did tell me that there was some sort of action against them in the United States. She then explained that she used to just do an x-ray at the three month mark but since there had been questions about it’s effectiveness, I would need a different procedure that involves being turkey-basted with dye to be sure that the fallopian tubes were blocked.  So I just thought it had something to do with their effectiveness.

Sounds good, right? Here’s where it went pear-shaped for me.

My situation deviated from the norm in this regard as I had to get another small procedure called a LLETZ or large loop excision, which did involve being admitted to hospital as a day patient. My doctor did both procedures during the same admission so I was put under a general anaesthetic rather than just being done in the chair. All went well on the day, and I was out of hospital within five hours – most of which was actually spent waiting for my turn and recovery afterwards.

After going home from the hospital I was a little exhausted and a little bit sore, though I am certain that was from having way too much going on up in my privates for one day, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Two days after the procedure I actually felt worse that I did when I came home from the hospital. Yes, it hurt but it wasn’t so much an “ouch” as it was a constant, intense ache in my lower abdomen. Every now and then there would be a horrible pinching that I could feel somewhere from within and it was extremely disconcerting that I couldn’t reach the area to rub it better. It was the weirdest, most unpleasant sensation I can ever remember experiencing. This feeling increased to a weird pulling-like sensation and that’s when I started to realise I could feel these things inside me. The mental damage that did was almost as horrific as the pain I was in.

My Recovery After Essure

I was told that I would be down for a couple days at most.

Here’s what actually happened.

Day 1 (after procedure): A little spotting, nothing serious. Moderate discomfort but nothing a regular headache tablet couldn’t dampen. Was more tired from my usual crappy reaction to the anaesthetic.

Day 2: More discomfort, pain in my lower back and still experiencing spotty/gritty discharge though this was from the LLETZ loop, not the Essure implants. Looked up “essure” on Google and proceeded to have a meltdown.

Day 3: Increasing discomfort.  Not spotting but lots of watery discharge. Again, this was most likely my reaction to the loop, not the Essure implants. Still very upset by what I found online.

Day 4: Post op pain diminished and back pain gone but I was still feeling uncomfortable and sore. Noticed a weird smell at that point and took myself to the doctors and was prescribed a general antibiotic.

Day 5:  Back at work, however sitting for long periods of time became uncomfortable. The horrible pulling sensation starts. Emotional/mental distress increases a thousand fold as I had read even more what Google had to say about these fucking implants.

Day 6: Mild spotting starts.  Discomfort remains high and steady. Had to go home from work early. AGAIN.

Day 7: It still hurts to sit for long periods of time and the weird pinch/pull sensation increases when I move around too much.

Day 8 to Week 2:  Bleeding increases. Pain still as it was.  Constant, tiring. Starting to become a little despondent and, frankly, frightened as hell at what I had allowed to be done to my body.

Week 3: Bleeding seems to be on the rise.  We’ve gone from spotting to proper bleeds but at the end of the day.  This makes sense, as it could be from increased activity, but it is very concerning as I shouldn’t be bleeding at this point at all. (Still on the active contraceptive pill, too.)

Week 4: Ok, I might have had sex a couple days before I should have (I had to wait for my cervix to heal completely which was horrible, particularly when you quite like your boyfriend) but I was more toey than a Roman sandal and needed physical reassurance that I was still desirable and that my bits still worked. Answer; I am and they do. I was happy. But the day after I still had the bleeds. And the hurting was still very much happening if I walked around for too long… or coughed.  This prompted a call to the gyno for a follow up appointment.

At that appointment I was told that my cervix looked awesome (yay, I suppose) but that it smelled like I had an infection.  I also explained about the bleeding too and was given medication for both.  As I was still in pain, she referred me on to have an x-ray to make that the implants were where they needed to be and also have a blood test to see if anything serious needed addressing.  The results from both of those were clear.

Week 5:  Round one of medication taken and the infection seemed to clear up.  The pain had definitely improved too so I get the impression that it might have had something to do with the Essures at this point.  STILL bleeding heavily though.

Week 6:  Started taking the non-active contraceptive pills and let nature take its course just in case it was my period breaking through as the gyno suggested.  HOLY SHITBALLS, the cramps…  That was new.  I sometimes get horrible cramps but this was something else.

Week 7:  Period finally finishes but still spotting. ARGH! It stopped towards the end of that week.

Week 8 to present:  NO BLEEDING. NO PAIN!

Yes, it took eight. fucking. weeks to recover from this procedure and I still have to go back sometime soon to get that final examination done.
EDIT: Actually, my pain and symptoms became much worse. Check out the Essure update I wrote.

What I Found On Google About Essure

I won’t repeat what I found but very little of it is good.  The only positive testimonials to be found are on the Essure website itself which, frankly, I find dodgy as fuck.  I discovered that I had been sold on something that is swiftly proving to be dangerous.

What is most frightening was the sheer number of women who have come forward to say that they are or were unwell and in pain and needed full or partial hysterectomies to get rid of both the implants and the pain they caused.

Hell, even Erin Brockovich is in on it – she’s running the class action. EDIT: SHE’S NOT AND THEY ARE NOT. ESSURES HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE MARKET IN ALL COUNTRIES EXCEPT USA. As of this update (9th March 2018), Slater and Gordon are considering a class action for Australian women.)

Am I angry at my doctor for not having told me these things?  YES.  Yes, I am.  Very much so.

Am I upset that I didn’t turn to Google first to do my own investigations before getting the procedure done?  Yes, I am. If I had seen this information beforehand, I would have simply opted for tubal ligation and just dealt with the recovery process.  Buyer very much beware.

Would I recommend this to anyone?  No. No, I wouldn’t.  Certainly not based on my experience.  Eight weeks is a lot of time to be in pain and to be bleeding. Now I have the added stress of wondering what is going on inside my body at any given time, if these things are going to move or break, if I am bound for a lifetime of recurring infections, if I will be in pain again if I start a serious regime of exercise, IF I WILL GET PREGNANT – WTF?!

Let me just reiterate that I got these things put in because I didn’t want to get pregnant and wanted a hormone-free method of long-term contraception.

So far, these things have not made my life any easier. I am yet to see if they are going to make it horribly difficult.

 

Simplest and Best Cauliflower Soup EVER

Is there anything better than cauliflower soup?

Well, there’s chocolate, I guess.

And doughnuts.

And apple crumble doused liberally in extremely vanilla-y custard.

But I digress.

Cauliflower soup is the bees knees of soups and has been a favourite since forever and best of all it is piss-easy to make.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 Large head of cauliflower (Or as much as you want, really.)
  2. 1 ltr chicken/vegetable stock (For the lazibums around, just buy a carton. For the cooking aficionados, spend a day making stock from scratch and laud it over the rest of us.)
  3. 1 TBSP caraway seeds (Even if you hate caraway seeds, like I do, they need to go in this soup as they do something to the flavour of the cauliflower that is magical.)
  4. Salt and pepper to taste (A good, big sized pinch for a big pot.)
  5. Optional: Milk, evaporated milk, cream, cheese, etc. (Will discuss later.)

Method:

  • Roughly chop up your cauliflower and throw it in the pot. Give it a bit of a rinse if you’re one of those annoying “I only buy organic” people and your cauliflower is still liberally sprinkled with the poo of fairies and unicorns.
  • Pour in your stock until it just covers the cauliflower. If needed, you can top up with water or more stock.
  • Throw in your caraway seeds.
  • Turn the stove onto a medium-high heat and cook the shit out of it until the cauliflower is easily mushable with a spoon. MUSH! You can leave it rustic like I do with most bits still intact or you can get your stick blender our and make it smooth. That all depends on your visual taste.
  • Check your seasoning at this point. Chuck in some salt if you think you need it.

Now, the soup is entirely edible at this point and if a quick, tasty meal was what you were after then this with a couple slices of buttered toast is delightful.

If you want to beef it up a little you can do the following:

  • Make a rue (white sauce) with cheese and cook it into the soup or;
  • Throw in a bottle of cream and call it “Cream of Cauliflower Soup” (this is both decadent and tasty) or;
  • Pour in some evaporated milk (low fat, regular, dairy-free, whatever you like) for that gentle balance between broth and cream. This is my personal favourite.

All of the above additions work really well if you want to go a bit fancy and blend the soup smooth.  This is a great starter or just a comfort dish on it’s own. Try dipping garlic bread into it.

OMFG-YUM.

Just a side note, this particular recipe makes a very light, liquid soup; it’s not meant to be thick. It’s the “broke student” version of several recipes you can find online.  If you’ve only got a couple dollars, this makes a BIG pot that can keep you going for a while.  If you want something a little more sumptuous, add in some starchy potato, onion, garlic and butter for richness.

 

Life is Strange – Game Review

On the penultimate eve of what is swiftly becoming the geek event of the year – PAX AU – I thought I would celebrate the approaching nerdgasm with a review of a game that I have been playing on and off for the past few weeks.

I would have done a review sooner but I’ve basically been in post-game remorse since I finished it a couple days ago.

Life Is Strange

It certainly is. If you want a game that induces all the feels… EVERY. SINGLE. ONE… then you need to play this one.

Let me chuck in a disclaimer here, though. If you prefer a lot of activity in your gaming experience (think “activity” in First Person Shooter terms – button mashing and racing around shooting/hitting things), then you will not like this game. If you enjoy a character and plot-driven game that runs more like a choose-your-own-adventure book, then you will love it.

Life is Strange is about choices.

Cause and effect.

Chaos Theory.

It’s a game in five parts (or episodes) where you play the part of Max, a budding photographer who discovers she has the power to turn back time and rewrite the past, sometimes to the betterment and sometimes to the detriment of any given situation.

The game starts with saving the life of Max’s long-lost best friend, the blue-haired Chloe, and from there you follow the girls through their adventures. It’s a little Sweet Valley High mixed with Pretty Little Liars mixed with Twin Peaks mixed with Walking Dead.

But without the zombies.

Chloe and Max
Chloe and Max

For me, it was totally immersive. I became invested in both the characters and the storyline. It brought me to tears in a few parts – but maybe I’m just a sook… Though having watched a few people on Youtube playing the game, their reactions have been much the same.

The real star of the show is the beautiful soundtrack. A good musical score can make or break a film and the same can be said for a game like Life is Strange. The music is mellow and haunting and lovely. Paired up with the fantastic art and animation throughout, it’s a real treat. I’ve noticed a handful of folks criticising the voice acting and script but once you just get into it, you simply don’t notice the ridiculousness of it. (“You hella saved my life!”)

The game play itself is very simple, you look at everything, talk to everyone and choose an appropriate response. In some places you have problems to solve like finding number codes or remembering and repeating a sequence of events. And as I mentioned, every thing you do or don’t do or choose to say affects future scenes and decision – this idea of cause and effect is what the game is built around.

Unfortunately (and this seems to be a common and very loud complaint) is that the game will lead you to make one of two choices to finish. There are no alternative endings at all. So regardless of whatever choices you make throughout the game and how you change the journey within the storyline, you will always come back to one specific decision at the end. And that kinda sucks because unless you’re the type of person who likes to unlock every achievement possible and get the best stats, you’re not likely to want to replay. I have no problems with either of the endings but just felt bummed that regardless of how I chose throughout the game, it didn’t really matter. But that was a very small gripe in what was ultimately a very enjoyable experience.

Getting down to the technical nitty-gritty, the mechanics of the game are a little clunky. I do have to say that the drag-click thing with the mouse is annoying but if you happen to be playing this on a console, you have the option of hitting buttons which is obviously easier. (I was playing on the PC version.) Other than that, you move Max around with the typical WASD keys and steer with the mouse.

Life is Strange is available through Steam. You can buy the first episode, “Chrysalis”, for a fiver and if you like it you can buy the rest for $17USD. I finished the whole thing in about 15 hours of game play. Not bad for a little indie game. Not bad at all.

A solid 8/10.

Important note: The game has been found to be triggering for some people as it deals with illness, drugs and suicide. If you’re particularly sensitive to these concepts, steer clear. The game is also rated M for obvious reasons.

No I won’t “suck it up”.

You see me whine on Facebook about being sore and tired. You sit there and smile knowingly or roll your eyes because you’re a gym-goer too. Or a runner. Or a crossfitter. Or an otherwise Tough Mudderfucker, but you’re not me. You know all about muscle soreness and recovery and optimal heart rates and that fabled exercise high.

You think you can say certain things to me that I will react positively to – because we’re friends.

Backstory.

I’ve just started back at the gym and back into regular exercise after watching my weight change eight kilograms in the wrong direction. For someone who was already around 102kg and has fought tooth and nail to get down from 152kg, that’s a scary number to see again. So I’m back at the gym. I’d love to go back to my personal trainer but even at $20 for a session (and I feel I need at least three sessions a week to be worth anything to me health-wise), I can’t afford it. So I do it on my own and try to do a good, honest job of pushing myself.

But you know what? This shit’s hard.

So, yeah, I complain.

Occasionally, like today, I write a mildly amusing-to-me comment on Facebook expressing my current hatred of whoever invented gyms and that I was sore and that I was going to make myself sorer by subjecting my body to yet another session of physical torture known as working out.

What I got in response, among other things, was being told to “harden up, princess” and “suck it up, cupcake”.

Ha ha, right? Really funny. Ren’s just whinging again. Let’s poke fun at her. She won’t mind.

She does mind.

OH BOY, she does.

Yes, she is whinging again but she just needs a little support. Sometimes she needs to be coddled because, heaven forbid, she’s feeling more than a little fucking delicate at that moment. She might actually need for someone to remind her why she is doing this when she hurts from repeated sessions of “sucking it up” and to keep going when tears of actual physical pain are mixing with sweat.

I do “suck it up”.

I am “hard”.

And you will hear/see/read me complain because that’s what I do when I’m feeling bad. Because, fuck you, I want someone to tell me that this IS WORTH IT.

What you don’t see or hear about is the way my hip joints grind so painfully the day after a particularly hard session of squats and treadmill work that I can feel the sensation of it in my back teeth. What you don’t see or hear about is the way my lower back throbs for days because I was stupid and just so happy to be moving that I forgot the “Ren can’t run or jump” rule but did burpees, star jumps and jogged in place on solid concrete for ten minutes.

So DON’T tell me to harden up. I do this shit in SPITE of how much I suffer for it in the days following.

I have to balance what I do in order to be able to walk the next day (if not the next hour) because I’ve got other shit I need to “suck it up” for and get done.

I love my friends but sometimes I really want to smack them up the back of the head.

With a shovel.

Renlish.com
Words to live by.

No, I’m not getting pregnant. But thanks for asking.

REPUBLISH NOTE 2018: I am now divorced and have had a hysterectomy.

So, Christmas. It really is that joyous time of year when family think it’s okay to get all up in yo bizznizz and ask inappropriate questions and say inadvertently hurtful things. The fact that I have not become pregnant yet or made any attempts at becoming pregnant in order to give my in-laws (or my own parents) grand-babies has officially been pointed out to me. This has not been helped by the fact that distant relations of child-bearing age have been popping out kids left, right and centre. Not to mention my own sister is up to number two. The traitorous bitch!

(No. Not really. She’s just a bitch. ;) )

I feel for the Outlaws. While my mother and father have come to accept that I am probably not going to be the one to give them babies to spoil (because my little sister is fulfilling that role spectacularly), my Outlaws, particularly the manbeast’s mum, are feeling left out of the grandparents stakes. They only had one child – adopted one, in fact, so I think that it makes it a little harder for them for them to come to terms with my childlessness.

I should really make it clear that the Outlaws have not said anything directly to me (or the manbeast, as far as I am aware) but comments around the topic have been heard. Comparisons between myself and another baby-bearer in their family have been made – within earshot.

This is not terribly new, though. The whispers of the possibility of hearing the pitter-patter of little feet started shortly after I married the manbeast and turned 30 – three days apart. Those comments were very occasional, most of the time in jest but even so, there was an underlying tone of “So… when are you actually going to have a baby?” Of course now, six years later, those whispers are turning into shouts of “You’re STILL not pregnant?!”

Outwardly, I can only smile and shrug. Inwardly, I cringe. And get a little annoyed.

Renlish.com - Inigo Montoya

Let me say here and now that I love kids. LOVE them. I am not by any means anti-child at all. I would happily steal everyone’s kids. I’m the cool aunty who hypes up all small people under the age of 10 on sweets and evilly hands them back to parents at the end of the day just before the sugar crash happens.

Seriously, that ALONE is reason enough to never have children. Anyway…

I would love to be a mother. But…

I am anti-pregnancy. I am anti-gene pool. I am anti-starting a family in a turbulent marriage. And it’s not just my decision either!

Okay, so probably having my mate Inigo help me sum things up isn’t going to cut it…

Reason 1: Pregnancy is Gross

It is. I find the whole idea of carrying a baby abhorrent – and I am sorry if that offends anyone. And I know perfectly well that my feelings on the matter are totally irrational and stupid but that’s the way it is. No amount of trying to convince me otherwise is going to get me to change my mind. I know a couple of people who loved being pregnant, adored the idea of new life growing inside them, enjoyed the feeling kicks and sucker punches to their bladders. Most people I know who have kids didn’t like the pregnancy so much but it was simply a means to an end for them. They wanted kids, they had them. Of course you have to get pregnant to get the kids.

Me? I tell everyone “I want kids – I just don’t want to get pregnant.” The confusion on their faces as that sinks in is highly entertaining.

PregnantSpray

I find nothing endearing about the process, and no, contrary to what many people tell me when I say that I am anti-pregnancy, I am not afraid of giving birth. That can be virtually painless if I want it to be. It’s the nine months leading up to birth I don’t want to deal with. It’s the idea of this… thing… growing on me and in me. It’s the hormones which, in all seriousness, screw that! My hormones have been messing me around enough as it is. I am a physical and emotional wreck.

Reason 2: My genes suck.

No, I am not talking about appearance because I am gorgeous and the girls in my family get the maternal genes. No issues there.

How do I put this sensitively? I am a firm believer in the idea that mental dysfunction is hereditary. There have been studies which prove this – though I suppose there are studies which prove anything if you throw enough resources at any given topic. But I’ve found this to be true in the case of me. In every single branch of my family there are issues.

No. Just no. I cannot and will not deal with that possibility. I grew up with it.

Selfish much? Hell yes.

This is the reason why I have not take up a friends half-joking-half-serious offer of surrogacy for me. Yeah, she can have the baby but it’ll still be from my genes and NO. All of the no.


Reason 3: It’s just Not a Good Time

I know there are loads of people who’ve been unprepared for their pregnancy – who have felt that they’re not ready, but “Oops!” and they’ve dealt with it with aplomb. I also know a couple of people who HATE being mothers but love their kids and if they had their time over they would make different choices. I don’t want to be either one of those people.

I am however a firm believer in family units. Kids belong in environments where they have loving, supportive guardians who want them. My marriage isn’t wonderful at the moment. Enough said. I refuse to become pregnant and have a baby in this environment and I am definitely not going to get pregnant and start popping out kids just to please specific people or fulfill my destiny in the social norm.

And the next person who says I “don’t know what love truly is” until I have kids, I WILL punch you in the fucking face.

Reason 4: And, well, the MANBEAST doesn’t want them.

This is the one thing that irritates me the most. As the potential sproggin-bearer, I am the one who cops all the looks, all the comments and questions, and all the sideways glances. Does the manbeast? Rarely. Me? Not a day goes by when I am not reminded that my biological clock is running out of battery power.

But has anyone actually asked the manbeast if he wants children?

Guess what? I have.

The answer is no.

Though we both agree that I would make a great mother.

So there you go. If I thought it would make a difference, I would post this blog to all the people who keep asking about the state of my uterus, but I doubt it would make any difference.

I am going to grow old and alone.

And I’m okay with that.