At the weekend I took a flight to Tenerife with nine other girls for a friends four-day hen-do and a spot of sun, sea, cocktails, clubs and mischief. We had the most amazing time staying in Playa De Las Americas and drank, danced and laughed all day and night long. It was such a treat to get away and leave the chilly cold wet weather of home for sunshine and smiles and the children were kept busy with their grandparents who had planned lots of lovely activities for their special sleepover weekend.
Believe it or not, this was my first ever girls-only break away and long overdue as I’d booked to go away with my best friend several years ago, when I discovered I was already pregnant with my daughter I sadly had to cancel, and have always gone away as a family ever since. So to go with a group of friends was certainly an eye opening experience and I’m grinning from ear to ear with such hilarious memories. We wore our pink hen-do sashes and went out in fancy dress as the Call On Me keep fit girls and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.
I forgot how good it feels to have a night out, as being a single parent it’s certainly a rarity for me these days. Where we stayed was the hub of hen and stag do’s and every bar and club greeted us with champagne, shots, shorts and cocktails as we reapplied our lipgloss and jushed up our hair in the toilet mirror giggling away and playing party games. Sunbathing all day was enthusiastically followed by drinking all night, and I reckon I’ll need another holiday to get over such a crazy weekend. It was hilarious to see such a mix of people, all out to have a good time with such fantastic banter and sense of humour. We ate absolutely everything in sight and drank until daylight and it was a carefree and hilarious time that I will never forget. Just what the doctor ordered.
When packing for the weekend we’d checked the weather report which ranged daily between 17-21C and was obviously windy from being by the sea, so I took along a few dresses, long skirts, bikinis, shorts and t-shirts hoping that it would be warm enough to catch a bit of sun. It didn’t feel hot, but was pleasant, and sunbathing on the beach all day I had no idea that I’d burned until we were about to head up the the room, and a cold shower left me jumping and yelping from the sting.
On our final day after packing our cases, checking out of the room and sunbathing by the pool waiting to catch the flight home, the hotel’s entertainment for the afternoon was a bird trainer showing a golden eagle. Having always loved animals, had a pet budgerigar as a child and a chicken a few years ago, I’ve held many parrots and owls over the years and on days out. When the trainer called us over to come and meet his eagle I couldn’t resist and gave it a stroke on its wings and a little tickle. It was a glorious bird with such amazing wingspan and beautiful colouring. We chatted for a few minutes before returning to the group to discuss plans for going home.
We headed to a lovely little restaurant for a spot of lunch a couple of hours before leaving for the airport. It was an afternoon of beautiful blue skies and glowing sun, although the temperature wasn’t unmanageable as it was around twenty degrees, and we sat under umbrellas on the terrace to have sandwiches and soup. As I brushed my hair off of my face I realised my forehead felt numb and I tapped it with my fingers in disbelief that I couldn’t feel my touch. It was an odd sensation and nothing that I’ve experienced before, so I asked the other girls if my forehead was bruised or had changed colour and they said it looked normal, so I thought nothing more of it.
Getting to the airport the numbness in my head continued to spread and I realised when I frowned or looked up that my head felt tight and stiff for some reason, so popping to the toilet after check in I was horrified to see that the middle of my forehead had swelled in a ‘V’ shape between my eyebrows right the way up to my hairline. I looked like an alien out of a science fiction film! We were hysterical with laughter and totally baffled at what could have caused it as there was no bite, no sting and no change in skin colour, I was just swollen and puffy all over.
Boarding the plane I found my seat, stowed my bag and took out a book to read for the 4hr flight home. Not long after we’d settled at an average height and the seatbelts sign had been released, I noticed that I was labouring slightly to breathe as I had to inhale deeper and longer just to get a normal amount of breath. I put my book away and sat upright thinking it was nothing to worry about because I’d been looking down to read and the air pressure of the cabin teamed with being at such a height may have contributed, like when you feel car sick if you read during a long drive. So I closed my eyes and lent back in my seat to try and nap. Perhaps an hour later, I needed to go to the toilet, and as I walked to the back of the plane I had some strange looks from the other passengers whilst passing their seats. The air stewardesses were preparing the drinks trolley in the cabin area and asked if I was ok as I waiting for the toilet. I said that I’d felt some swelling in my forehead and that I was feeling a bit short of breath and they told me I no longer had a ‘V’ shape between my eyebrows anymore but now my entire forehead was bulging and my eyelids were going puffy. As I felt around my face I realised my hairline and down the side of my head had also turned numb and looking in the toilet mirror I was horrified at how my head was swelling so quickly.
The air stewardesses made me up a bundle of ice wrapped in a cloth and gave me two soluble paracetamol in the hope of cooling and reducing the swelling, as well as a glass of water for hydration and I returned to my seat. I sat with the makeshift ice pack on my head feeling rather special as everybody looked at me with gasps of shock and laughter as we all chuckled away at how strange it was. My head still showed no sign of going down, the air stewardesses suggested I should try an antibacterial insect wipe just incase it was caused by a bite that had become aggressive. I couldn’t see or feel any sign of a bite but still I tried it, wiping the pad across my head in the hope that something might work to reduce it. The only other options we had was anti inflammatory needle onboard which would have to be administered by a doctor if one happened to be present, and the air stewardesses frowned in dismay as there wasn’t anyone available, as if I got any worse then there was the possibility of rerouting to land in the nearest country and get me to a hospital with 500 other passengers in tow!
The only thing that we could put it down to was that I’d stroked a golden eagle a few hours before whilst sitting around the pool before lunch, and perhaps I was having an allergic reaction to it. Thankfully I found the situation light-hearted as I figured I was stuck on a plane with pills and ice and so there wasn’t a lot anyone could do. We’d been out partying til 6am for our final night that morning and I felt pretty tired and relaxed and don’t like to cause a fuss so I played it down. Each time anyone asked if I was ok I’d reply with “I think so, how does it look now?” and remove my ice pack only to be greeted by their hysterical laughter and disbelief for which I concluded “I must still have a dinosaur head then! Oh dear.” And I guess because I was so helpless I didn’t get worked up or stressed about it, I just had a good laugh and hoped I’d be healthy enough to get home without it getting any worse.
When we landed back in England the shops were closing up at the airport but Boots was still open so I quickly popped in to buy some allergy relief tablets and Ibuprofen painkiller and inflammation pills before getting the mini-bus home with everyone. I crawled into bed just after 2am in my freezing cold house alone and in silence and closed my eyes. I had to collect Millie in five hours time from her grandparents ready for school and tried my best to sleep with my pounding, fat head.
The morning alarm went off in the blink of an eye and I yawned and shivered my way through the traditional ritual of scraping the ice off of the car windscreen on the driveway. What a difference a day makes; yesterday I was relaxing in my bikini by the beach sipping cocktails at the bar, and this morning I’m an inflated dinosaur-head freezing in the rush-hour traffic with the cars heaters blasting my eyes dry in desperation to get warm. It was so exciting to see Millie’s little face as I gave her a traditional red flamenco dress and necklace that I’d bought her whilst away. On the drive to school she said she’d had a lovely weekend, seeing both sets of her grandparents for a sleepover and going to the cinema and dinner with her best friends for a birthday party.
I went to the village doctor right after dropping Millie to school and was fortunate enough to get an appointment quickly. He too was baffled as to what had caused my reaction, but assured me that whatever it was came from abroad and not here, so I would be safe now that I’m home and it is just a matter of time before the swelling subsides. All that I can do is cycle the tablets that I already have. My neck is swollen as well as my glands, eyelids, cheeks and forehead and I feel as though I have a nasty tension headache. He advised that when I lay down to sleep the blood would run to my head and may make the swelling worse, so providing it doesn’t get too extreme then I must wait it out and in a few days it will hopefully pass. So it’s just a waiting game now, all that I can do is stay upright and make sure that I take my pills and painkillers regularly. Fortunately I have a suitcase load of washing to do, bags to unpack, housework, children to feed and an empty fridge to restock at the supermarket so I expect the time will fly by. Unfortunately it means that I can’t do any exercise because of the pressure in my head so those cocktails and rich dinners will just have to hug my hips for another week for now. Isn’t life interesting!
Thankfully after four days the swelling in my face has subsided and now I am left with some pretty horrendous sun burn across my face and chest which has decided to peel. I haven’t been sunburnt since I was a child and definitely never to this extent. Before going away I’d had a sore throat, on the first day I got my period, and had a nasty onset of sunstroke from my sunburn. But hey ho, that’s what holidays are for, you spend weeks, if not months preparing so that you can look good in a bikini and have a great time and everything happens all at once, and you end up with a bloated belly and enlarged head! But it was the most hilarious time ever and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
As I’ve been on medication all week and I absolutely hate pills, my head hasn’t stopped pounding, my skin is sore all over and my eyes ached simply for being awake. My head had been up in the clouds and all over the place and I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. When I made breakfast one morning before the school run a piece of bread muffin had got caught in the toaster and started to smoke, so without hesitating I reached for a knife and stuck it into the element to fish it out and BANG, the house electrics blew. Never in my life have I ever been so thoughtless, and it not only shocked me, but highlighted the fact that I detest medication and how drowsy and dumb it makes me feel.
After my swelling had gone down and I looked human again, albeit for my red face and sunburn, I took a trip to a The Belmore Centre for a spot of acupuncture to help me to destress and balance my energy. I’d never tried it before and was hoping that it might clear my mind and the side effects from the pills that I had finished taking. I was nervous before going, simply for the thought of having needles stuck in me which I can’t say that I’ve ever been a fan of. But after the procedure I literally floated out of the room and it feels like a great weight and stress has been lifted from my body, mind and soul. With the only side effects of acupuncture being relaxation, this was one procedure I’d love to have time and time again!
I have now reached day 60 of my 90 day P90X3 fitness regime and feel amazing. I’ve spent the past two months eating everything in sight and bulking up to gain muscle, and now I’m looking to eat sensibly and cut some definition to my body for the final month of training. I love the focus, drive and dedication that keeping fit gives me, and I workout seven day a week for half an hour at a time on this current program. I find it so exciting to begin a journey that you’ve never tried before, to question your ability and to watch yourself grow, strengthen and change as you make the impossible suddenly possible. We should all take a step out of our comfort zone every once in a while and realise just how capable we really are.
This week was pancake day which marked the beginning of Lent, the Christian festival that reflects on Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness where he fasted and endured temptation. It is tradition to give up one thing each year for Lent to mark this time, and to remember the sacrifices that Jesus made for us. I am not overtly religious, but I have faith and lead my life by example. As a mark of respect I will be giving up chocolate, my major vice, for the duration of Lent as well as taking this time to be thankful for everything that I have in life. The shops are bulging at the seams with easter eggs, which is the ultimate temptation for me to see it everywhere that I go and to know that I can’t have it. I don’t lead an extravagant life as I am neither rich nor poor, just a happy medium, with two beautiful healthy children and a positive outlook. I feel it is important to appreciate what we have so I’ve decided to take part in the 100 Happy Days challenge, whereby you recognise one thing each day that makes you smile and take a picture of it. At the end of it you create a book filled with precious memories as a way to reflect and look at the blessings you have.
I believe we can all benefit from being thankful, to feel humble and appreciate the world around us. To be fortunate enough to have life, the air in our lungs and the ability to make each day our own, we are so lucky to have this opportunity and it should never be wasted. The storms, floods and grey skies have now cleared and we are greeted by a beautiful blue horizon and the freshness of Spring time. It is a new beginning for us all and the chance to colour our lives with incredible memories and achievements just like the beautiful wild flowers that fill the meadows around us. Treasure these days, be thankful for life and don’t ever waste a second of this precious journey.