Thursday, October 06, 2016

Annual vet visit #4

Closed the café early so we could get home and get the boiler looked at - and take the boys to the vet. When getting nearer the time I got Monkey fairly easily into the travel box. Elbie ... not so much. Got him in the bedroom and wrestled quite a lot to get him in, and he wouldn't have any of it. NONE. After some struggling, we both went downstairs, and lured by the sound of the back door, I picked him up and wrestled him into the box - finally! He complained all the way to the vets, of course.

He went first, and was kind of cuddly, but was very squirmy trying to get him on the scales (4.34 kg eventually). Overall, he's in a good condition, if a bit highly strung (he's used to being outside most of the time, and here's us having a change of industry which means he's inside for nearly all week), and he had some gunk on his teeth. Seeing as how he mainly gets biscuits to eat, it's not too concerning, but might want to consider taking him in to get his teeth cleaned. When it was time for the booster he was growling and hissing and generally being a very angry cat, and very close to biting. The vet decided to let him back in the box to calm down.

Monkey had to be dragged out of his (so what else is new?), but put up with the examination without a fuss. His ears showed a little more wax than is usual, but no mites or anything. Teeth in good order. He was 5.57 kg, so he's dropped a little in weight, but I was advised to give him a little less food, seeing as how they're now fed using the chip feeder and their food is actually weighed.

They were both given a flea treatment/wormer combo, and sent on their merry way.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lipoedema and me

Finding out you have lipoedema can stir up all kinds of emotions. Some people find it extremely upsetting, like a life sentence, because it means there's sod all they can do about their weight. They feel as if they've been doomed to the life of a fatty, instead of clinging on to the false hope of Being Slim Again One Day, as offered by organisations like Weight Watchers and Slimming World.

Others see things differently.

I just found it incredibly liberating.

Now I don't have to go around beating myself up (mentally) for not doing as much as I can to lose weight all day every day, or worry about why I'm not losing weight, or putting my life on hold "until I've lost some weight", or putting up with people using phrases like "a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips" or "no I can't possibly have that cookie, it goes straight to my thighs".

Knowing that I have lipoedema, and that THAT'S the cause of my shape and weight from childhood, I just feel like okay, well, now I don't have to angst about my weight so much. Instead I can focus on working on making it strong and healthy. Not to lose weight, although that's a welcome side effect, but in order to feel good about myself and get more energy.

I'm stuck in this body for the rest of this life, so I may as well try to enjoy it instead of wishing it was something else which it never was and is never going to be. Of course the pain is still there, that's not going away (sadly), and the difficulty in finding clothes that fit and so on, but still.

If someone was to call me a fatty now in a derogatory way, instead of being mortified and go home and cry about it, now I feel like if that was to happen, I'd tell the person in question to shove off, I have a medical condition which is at least in part genetic and fuck all I can do anything about, and whether I happen to enjoy an ice cream in the sweltering heat or not isn't going to change things, so STFU.

When I was growing up I was about 10 kg overweight, and that meant I was basically "the fat one" in my class, and my parents were concerned because they had "a fat kid". If I had been diagnosed with lipoedema at the time, how different would my outlook on life have been? (Putting aside the fact that I could've got treatment options to prevent it from progressing past stage one ...) As in, looking back on it, at the time I wasn't actually 10 kg overweight - I was a pretty normal child/teenager weight-wise but who had LIPOEDEMA, which caused that extra weight. Weight that, just like now, was around my thighs and upper arms.

Nowadays, sure, I've gained weight so that I'm now more like 50 kg heavier than I "should" be, and all that can't be blamed on lipoedema. I acknowledge that, and accept that I'm at least partially responsible for my current weight, but instead of focusing on "OMG when I THOUGHT I was fat, I weighed 40 kg less than I do now! o.O" I can focus on taking care of my body, and instead of seeing my body as a constant enemy and reminder of my failures as a person, my body can be an ally and a friend, because we're in this together.

Realising I have lipoedema has probably helped my self-confidence more than seeing a therapist did. Seeing a therapist was good because it helped getting my anxiety in check, but he wasn't necessarily the best when it came to understanding what being fat feels like, because he's never had to worry about whether a chair is going to break if you sit on it, or never had to deal with feeling judged because you happen to be eating (and eating something other than a fruit or a salad) in public, or that you might be more qualified than someone else for a job but be rejected because they don't like your fat body.

But yeah, finding out about lipoedema has been great. It answered so many questions, like "why are my upper arms so fricken pain sensitive?!" which is not something I would go to the doctors with, because c'mon, it's not a medical emergency, and neither is "my legs tend to hurt at night, which I've had for as long as I can remember" (and which was previously dismissed as "growing pains"), and the need to pee when I've been lying down for a few minutes, and so on. Now it would just be nice to have a doctor write down the diagnosis on a piece of paper as well. Shame that it's a condition most of them are unaware of, despite it affecting around 11% of the female population.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

BREXIT: I'm an immigrant

I'm an immigrant.

There, I said it.

Since I moved here in 2004 I have never been made to feel unwelcome in the UK simply based on the fact that I was born and grew up in a different country. Never, until about six months ago.

Six months ago we drove from Nottingham to see my parents in Sweden. As the UK is not part of the Schengen agreement, our passports were checked as we were leaving and re-entering the UK (our borders to the EU aren't as open as ‪#‎Brexit‬ propaganda would lead you to believe). Coming back, my husband's passport was pretty much given a casual glance and handed back. Mine was scrutinised and they asked me what my reason for entering the UK was. My response was that I live here, to which they asked "how long?" Seriously?

Since then the tone and the feel of the country has really changed. People on Facebook (some of whom are family) are sharing propaganda and outright lies left, right and centre about the EU and the UK's place within it. They vilify immigrants, and as an immigrant myself (which people tend to forget, because Scandinavians are generally seen as "good immigrants", whatever that's supposed to mean) ... err, thanks?

Like many other EU immigrants I've not claimed benefits (unless you count about three months in 2010 when the Jobcentre paid my NI contributions because I registered as a jobseeker under the misguided notion that they'd help me actually find a job, and failing that, perhaps offer a course or something to improve my job prospects - umm, nope), I rarely go to the doctors, I pay taxes both as an individual and as two separate (if small) companies.

What will happen to me if the UK leaves the EU? Am I "safe" because I've lived here for over ten years? Am I "safe" because I'm married to a British citizen? Or will the government, at any point, decide to move the goal posts and kick me out, despite being a taxpayer/spouse/long-term resident?

What will happen to our new business if the UK leaves the EU? We're trading with another EU country, which means no customs charges (have you ever ordered something from the USA for about £20 and been charged £13 customs and VAT by Royal Mail? Yeah, imagine that but ordering stuff for about £2k) and you only pay VAT to the country in which your company is registered. We've only just started out, and having to pay astronomical import fees is going to make the import side of our business go down the drain.

So yeah.

I'm an immigrant, and I'm truly scared about how easily misled and wilfully ignorant the British public is. Tabloids (owned by people living in tax havens, which is why the EU wants to go after them for tax evasion ... guess why said tabloids are pro-Brexit?) say "jump!" and the British public say "how high?" It's sad. What makes me even more sad is that when I came to this country for the very first time, as a tourist in July 2000, I felt like I had come home. It's an odd feeling when you're in a place you've never been before. In 2003 I guided some classmates around London as if I knew it a lot better than I actually did. In 2004 when I first visited Nottingham - and the man who was to become my husband - and he drove me down to Stansted, I cried. I cried because it felt so utterly wrong to part with him and I didn't want to go back without him. That's the reason why I'm here. That's the reason why I've stayed for all these years.

The UK is a great place to be, and I would probably feel like a foreigner if I moved back to Sweden, and sure, the UK is far from perfect - but that can be said for any country, most definitely including Sweden. The UK is my home. It's where I live, it's where I work, it's where my life is. My beloved husband is here, and I'm afraid that a Brexit could force me away from him (and our beloved furbabies) - even if that's highly unlikely. There are no guarantees. The UK is my home, so why do I no longer feel welcome here?

Monday, May 23, 2016

BREXIT: TTIP + EU = No NHS? Think about it

With the whole scaremongering about how TTIP and the EU would destroy the NHS, let's think about this for a sec.

1. Most countries (if not all?) in the EU have some form of state sponsored affordable healthcare system, because we're not the USA. If affordable healthcare was threatened in the entire EU, you can be sure the MEPs of the whole union would fight for every country's right to retain their respective systems. It's not just the NHS that's under fire, it's EVERY SINGLE COUNTRY'S HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS. It's a big deal for everyone, not just the UK.

2. If the UK left the EU the USA would bully the UK into accepting TTIP in its current form, as a "well if you want us to do business with you, you have to agree to our terms", in which case yes, the NHS would be screwed. The UK would be so desperate to get the prospective trade deals it would entail to accept whatever was offered, without caring so much about the consequences. TTIP is a big bargaining chip for the USA. "But we want to keep our NHS like it is!" "Well, tough, you do as we say, or we're leaving. You need us, we don't need you." "But but but ..."

There would be nothing to bargain with from the UK's side, because UK is small potatoes as far as the USA is concerned. They can do without striking a deal with the UK, a UK without the EU can't. EU is a massive market, and the USA has already said that they're not interested in the UK as a standalone market, because there's not enough selling/purchasing power in a small country like the UK.

3. In addition to #2, the current government are already trying to dismantle the NHS by running it into the ground so there will be no other option than to get rid of it. They've done a stellar job so far. They don't really care about us, the "common people", they care about money and earning more of it, and let's face it, the US healthcare system is in the business of making loads of it. That it's hurting a lot of people in the process seems to be beside the point.

Yes, the NHS is currently underfunded, overworked, badly managed, and increasingly unsustainable in its current form, but there are things that can be done to change that. Changes which should include actually checking people for if they're permanently residing in the UK or have an EHIC and charging the rest accordingly. (This is after all why it's important to take out travel insurance when you go abroad!)

Point being: the government want any excuse to get rid of the NHS, and leaving the EU and as a result being forced into accepting TTIP in order to trade with the US would be an excellent excuse as far as the government is concerned - because then it wouldn't be THEM who got rid of the NHS, it was a necessity for The Greater Good, a.k.a. trading with the USA, so it was clearly THEIR fault ... Meanwhilhe, staying in the EU (the cost of which is a tiny fraction of the total spend of this country - look it up) would mean we have allies who also wish to keep their healthcare systems intact and we can fight it together.

But what do I know? I'm just another one of those bloody EU immigrants, who had the nerve to come over here and pay taxes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

BREXIT: A little less emotive outbursts, a little more hard facts, please

The EU is far from perfect, I've been criticising it for years, but the official "Vote Leave, take control" document is an abject demonstration that the official Brexit campaign is a complete shambles run by people with no strategic plan whatever, who think that a garbled mess of fearmongering rhetoric, unsourced statistics, shocking opportunism, misleading claims, blatantly false dichotomies and outright lies is sufficient to convince anybody of anything.
- Another Angry Voice

Which is basically my opinion of it. To me, Vote Leave always come across as very emotive, so when someone argues why we should leave it's based on emotions, opinions and (frankly) make-believe. The Vote Stay campaign, on the other hand, have arguments based on actual facts and actual numbers.

Just the other day, we heard a radio phone in where some guy was complaining about petrol being much cheaper in Spain, and why should they have all the money and petrol subsidies and so on, and that's why he wanted out. Completely failing to take into account that every country have their own fuel taxes, and that it's that country's decision how much to tax it - nothing at all to do with the EU. So if you want to leave the EU (Britain can't "leave Europe" because Europe is a continent that we're part of no matter what) based on "them Spanish people pay much less to fill up their cars, boo" then you're not basing your opinion on any kind of facts, but misinformation and ignorance about how your country - let alone the EU - actually works.

And the same could be said for just about anything the Vote Leave people bring up as well.

Immigration and free borders? UK isn't part of the Schengen deal, which means you're required to show your passport on trying to enter the country - unlike travelling from France through Belgium and Netherlands to get to Germany. Half of all the immigrants coming to the UK are from outside the EU anyway, so that wouldn't change.

"Immigrants take all our money!" No, actual FACTS show that they pay in more to the system than they take out. Sure, getting child benefit when your child doesn't even live in the same country as you is messed up, but that's basically down to UK rules. Pretty sure you can't claim child benefit in Sweden (another EU country) if the child lives with a parent in the UK, for instance.

"We don't want none of that European Court thing!" The thing which is ENTIRELY SEPARATE from the EU and which the UK HELPED SET UP after WW2 to safeguard against similar atrocities happening again?

"We wouldn't have to pay the EU any money!" Yes, we would - Norway and Switzerland still pay membership fees to EEA in order to trade with the EU, but they have no say in policy because they're not in the EU, who set the rules, and they don't get any subsidies.

"But we'd save the NHS!" The EU is not what's caused problems with the NHS. That's all on our very own government trying to dismantle it + how badly run it is. I was pretty shocked to hear that if you need crutches (for instance), you're not forced to hand them back once you don't need them anymore. You know, handing them back so that someone else can use them. Instead, no one cares and the next person gets a new set instead. That's not how you save money. Or actually making sure only people who are entitled to free healthcare get it, i.e. UK residents and EU citizens. They don't seem to check entitlement at all. I read a story about an American tourist who had a family member having to go to the doctors in the UK and was surprised to hear he didn't have to pay anything for it. They weren't entitled to free UK healthcare but no one charged them for the visit, which they should have done? How many instances of this happens every day and how much money is lost this way? (There are more examples, but those are glaringly obvious ones.)

"They keep voting us down! We never get to have it our way!" If, say, 19 countries out of 20 (UK being the 20th) vote the same way, isn't that an indication that the UK perhaps has the WRONG opinion? Like the whole steel thing in Port Talbot. The EU wanted to up the fees on Chinese steel to help EU steel, the UK voted AGAINST it, and so on. Besides, majority rule is HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS.

But yeah. My problem is that the Brexit campaign doesn't deal with facts, but just emotive outbursts about how Britain was great back in the day and can be great again ... ignoring how society has changed in the meantime. But maybe people have some kind of romanticised notion about Victorian slums?

What I would say is that I believe that most of these politicians, businessmen and so on do not have the slightest interest in what would be best for the general public; they base their opinions solely on what would be best for them as individuals with a reckless and callous disregard for the rest of us.
- Comment on Another Angry Voice

Which is why you have two camps. There are the politicians who have interests in Europe and who therefore want to stay in because it would benefit them to stay. Then there are politicians who have non-European interests and therefore want to leave because it would benefit them to leave. Let's not pretend that's not the case.

For the general public, though, I'd much rather go with factual arguments than emotive argumentation, and if the Brexit campaign did more of the former and less of the latter, then there could have a balanced discussion, but as it is now, the Stay campaign are the ones who deal in facts and actual figures, while the Leave campaign always sound like someone's drunk and slightly racist uncle at a party - someone who can't be reasoned with using facts, and who keeps shouting about how Britain needs to be great again but has no actual idea of how that's supposed to be achieved aside from "leaving the EU", as if that's some sort of magic cure-all.