Tuesday, 5 July 2022

My Body is Mine - Your body is Yours

The recent news that the USA Supreme court has overturned Roe vs Wade is a dark day for women living there. For all women, really. To have 50 years of bodily autonomy declared irrelevant overnight impacts  all of us.

I'm tired now.

I'm tired of having to explain why a foetus (no matter whether it is loved or wanted, or feared and not wanted) is not a person. A foetus may be the potential to become a person, but as a potential "maybe" it cannot hold the same legal rights as the woman whose body it is in. The woman already is a person... or the girl, as in the recent case of the ten-year-old rape victim who had to flee to another USA state in order to have the abortion she needed.


I am angry now.

More angry than I have words to form into coherent thought. But thankfully, I'm not alone. From Australia to Africa, to Europe and Canada... women all over the world are angry both for their sisters in the USA but also for themselves. Everywhere I look, women are sharing their anger and their stories. Best of all, I'm seeing MEN stand up and say, "We are angry too; this is wrong." From Kendrick Lamar to men I know personally - friends and family. It's still far too few men, but it is a start.

I am grieving now.

This has brought back memories of not having my body treated as my own. I only realised this looking back - too late - my body was never treated as mine. When I first showed signs of endometriosis, in my 20s, the gynaecologist I was sent to ignored the signs and instead went on this weird rant. Instead of  focussing on my symptoms and why I was actually there, he raged at me for being single and how I needed to take better care of my ability to have children.

I wasn't a person with health concerns - I was a womb. I wasn't someone in pain - I was an incubator.

In my 30s, when endometriosis nearly killed me twice over, I should have been offered a hysterectomy. I wasn't. I should have had all the full implications of "staying able to have children" explained to me. It wasn't. And as a result, the damage in my 40s was *extensive and life-altering. I was sacrificed to keep my fertile, for a future man who never existed until when I finally did marry, I was too damaged to ever keep a pregnancy and too damaged to ever live a full and healthy life.

My body is mine. My body WAS mine. Why wasn't it ever treated that way?

I am determined now.

I will not shut up. I will not let any other woman or girl not know that HER BODY is HERS ALONE, but we now have a huge battle ahead of us. The Patriarchy has to go. It is an ancient toad, sitting in a swamp it created with its own warped mental excrement. It always was a lie and now, more and more, it cannot hide. The swamp is being drained and no matter how ferociously it fights, it will become extinct.

It is inevitable.  

Monday, 4 July 2022

My Battle with Endometriosis

Endometriosis showed up in my 20s, although I did not know that then. I had bad menstrual pain, heavy bleeding and hormone imbalance. All which were ignored by my male doctor and male gynaecologists. My doctor (later admitted) thought I was a hypochondriac. The first gynae was just horrible. He seemed to hate me from the moment I entered the room, so my mind boggles at what my doctor had written to him about me!

Because my endo wasn't picked up on, the endometrial tissue kept spreading throughout my abdomen, affecting all my lower abdomen organs and muscles. When I started losing wight, I thought I'd found a diet that worked and bought a new wardrobe. Even though I had severe pain with constipation, I thought that was also due to my dieting. I never realised it was because the endometrial tissue had formed a band of shrinking scar tissue around my intestines that could very easily have led to a rupture and/or gangrene.

Then one night, I woke up to HUGE pain, but Stoic me waited till morning to phone the doctor (ambulances are expensive in SA as well as USA). My doctor admitted afterwards (he did apologise!) that he didn't think my pain was genuine, but thankfully he sent me for a scan anyway. They found an ovarian cyst the size of a grapefruit had torn my ovary apart. I was bleeding internally. I had surgery the next day, but they messed up. Not realising how damaged I was internally, this new gynaecologist caused more damage and had to call in the help of a second surgeon. I was under for several hours as they worked to save me. (SIDE NOTE: it was this emergency surgery that triggered my fibromyalgia)

You see, endometrial tissue is like living glue - it fuses to whatever it touches and every month, it bleeds. And when it bleeds… it fuses to more places. By that stage, my womb was fused to my bladder and my intestines and kidneys were fused to my back muscles, causing the constant back pain that had been an ongoing problem since my 20s. They had to remove one ovary. I should have been offered a hysterectomy - I wasn't. I should have had the long term details explained to me - they weren't. In fact, when I asked gynae #2 to explain what endometriosis was, he snapped, "I told you this already!" 

I pointed out that he has explained straight after surgery, when I was still groggy and drugged up. I made him explain again, which he did briefly and with great annoyance. I had to go away and find the information for myself, which was a slow and difficult journey since good information on this disease was still very limited back in the 1990s.

By the time I married, I was told I probably could not have kids, but once again I was not offered any help or suggestions. No pain care, no medications, nothing.

In Scotland, I miscarried twice. First time, was within a week or so, but I still knew I'd been pregnant. Second time, was longer and more unpleasant as a result. No one explained to me that I'd probably never have managed to carry a baby full term, or without danger, pain and complications, since by that stage my womb had been fused to itself  (gynae #3 said "folded over and glued to itself like an envelope") as well as fused to my bladder and lower intestines.

A year after my last miscarriage, the pain started to be intense. I couldn't lie down without pain. Yes, I told doctors. Nothing was done about it. I went home and basically stopped sleeping for about a month. Then one morning, the pain went up to epic level and my mom took me to the doctor where a FEMALE doctor booked me into emergency straight away.

This time, the remaining ovary had ruptured - bloated with cysts and fused to other organs. This time I was offered help - medications and the option of a hysterectomy, but with the warning that a hysterectomy would be dangerous and possibly life-threatening. Since all my lower abdomen organs were fused to each other, they could not remove my womb entirely. They'd have to cut off bits, leaving the pieces fused to other organs behind. That would mean each little portion would bleed when I menstruated, and probably cause more issues rather than solving them. On top of that, cutting it away when fused to everything else meant there was a pretty good chance that they could damage other organs or rupture my intestines.

I refused the surgery and took medications instead. The meds caused early menopause, with all the symptoms and annoyances of that. As an extra, the meds also made me put on a lot of weight. And finally... I had rare side-effects - extreme water retention and peripheral nerve damage: numbness, loss of balance, loss of ability to hold or use fiddly items like pens, paint brushes, etc for long (my hands cramp up). The cramping is mostly in my fingers, feet and toes, but sometimes I get weird painful muscle cramping in my legs, sides and shoulders. The nerve issue has led to other types of foot damage

Sleeping is still painful. Some nights are ok, some are bad. It's never comfortable. I have low grade pain constantly. It's mild, thankfully. Sleeping, standing and walking are the worst causes of pain. So I have to limit how much I stand and walk, which obviously hasn't helped me tackle the weight gain!

And it is VERY tiring. I get exhausted quickly. I can go from okay to a very not okay in minutes.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Mark Twain Quote

 From the New York Herald, October 15, 1900:

"I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with the Rockies. Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.

I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which had addressed ourselves.

But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the Treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. . .

It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle get its talons on any other land."

Mark Twain.



Sunday, 20 March 2022

Are You part of the Solution or part of the Problem?


For this special edition of Blogblast for Peace, I'd like to focus on one question: 

Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?

For me, the conflict in Ukraine is shining a huge spotlight on all the things that need to change before humans can ever hope to have world peace.

It's impressive how many countries are offering homes to Ukrainian refugees, but also completely  hypocritical. The UK voted for Brexit in large part to stop the influx of migrant workers and refugees. They have even tried to make it illegal for ships to rescue refugees at sea. In the USA, Americans who voted for Trump wanted pretty much the same - no more refugees, no more illegal immigrants. Build that wall! Similar in Australia, with their refugee detention centres.

If you are completely behind your country allowing in Ukrainians, but not willing to speak out at those refugees dying in oceans and trucks, still held in detention centres, then you are part of the problem. 

By Adam.J.W.C. - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14985392


If you think Putin should be tried for war crimes, for invading Ukraine, but are not also lobbying to see Tony Blair and President Bush stand trial for lying about Sadam having weapons of Mass destruction in order to invade Iraq... you are part of the problem.

A 2016 study by Carnegie Mellon University professor Dov Levin found that the United States intervened in 81 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000, with the majority of those being through covert, rather than overt, actions.[91][92] A 2021 review of the existing literature found that foreign interventions since World War II tend overwhelmingly to fail to achieve their purported objectives.[93]

If you truly stand for Peace, for justice and a better way, you cannot pick and choose which country you support. That's how world wars start, when others "pick a side".

If you cannot be objective - you are part of the problem.

Wars and conflict do not start in a vacuum; they tend to erupt after unresolved issues are ignored for decades and/or when other countries intervene... and other countries do not intervene unless there's something in it for them. Humans as individuals can be caring and altruistic, but world governments are rarely into self-sacrifice for the Greater Good. Governments do what is best for themselves and their country first. All of them. And as such, their participation in any conflict is at best "dark grey" vs "light grey".

If you see one side, in any conflict, as "Good" and the other as "Evil" - you are part of the problem.

We now know that there were several German resistance movements who fought against the Nazis, but back in WWII the whole attitude was that EVERY German was evil. Britain rebranded products to remove any trace of Germany. So German Biscuits became Empire Biscuits and the British Royals dropped their German titles. And now I see people online talking about hating Russians, because of Ukraine. That they're not drinking Vodka any more because it is Russian... seriously?

Have we learned NOTHING?

If you think Russians are responsible for their leader's choices, then should those Americans who disliked Trump claim full responsibility for the things he did, even though they never voted for him? And do those Americans who did vote for Trump now feel they have to shoulder the responsibility for whatever Biden chooses to do? I doubt it. Everyday people have very little control over what their governments and leaders decide to do. 

If you see ANY country's population as completely culpable for what their leaders/military do... you are absolutely part of the problem!

I know, because I lived in a country, tagged by many as "evil" - Apartheid South Africa of the 1970s-80s. I know how complex and many-layered the truth of a country can be, then watch how it is over-simplified by the world news in order to stir up emotional interest. South Africa has 11 official languages, 6 major religions and, pre-1990, a racial classification system of THREE segregated racial types.

I know how it feels to have strangers hate you simply because of the country you live in, not bothering to find out your opinions on that country. I recently posted an article on Farm murders in South Africa on Facebook. A British friend wrote back that he would not try to raise help and support because the farmers were "white" and (his words), "Well, what can you expect? Apartheid." Except this is now 30 years after Apartheid ended, and so those young thugs torturing and murdering people have never lived in anything but a free and completely equal society.

If you see any group as deserving death, pain and suffering... you are part of the problem.

I have no grand solutions to offer here, beyond this fact - we have to change how we deal with each other, or we will eventually destroy each other and our planet. Repeating the same old mistakes isn't good enough any more.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Turn, Turn, Turn

For two decades (how did the time go by so fast?) I've taken part in Blogblast for Peace, every November. I've watched it continue to grow, steadily spiralled outwards as we draw, write and create in the name of Peace. But this year I'm turning around and following the spiral back to the centre. 

It's time to turn. 

Because no matter how much of a difference we might make in fighting for world peace, there is no greater battle, nothing ever more important or courageous, than ensuring your own personal peace. Your well-being has to come first. 

Your mental and emotional health,

                 your sense of spiritual or ethical integrity,

your self-respect, 

                                                                    your personal sovereignty,  

your inner peace. 

Because when there is no peace within... there can be no peace without.

 As wonderful as it is, to belong to a large group all battling for positive change, I'm also seeing a lot of burn out. People who are saying they feel exhausted; long past running on empty. So this season of Peace, I'm asking you to turn the spiral inwards. I want you to check your inner core; is it steady? Is it calm? Is it a sanctuary? Are your boundaries clearly marked and are you brave enough to hold them firm? Because it takes tremendous courage to stand up for yourself whilst still staying centred in peace and love.

The hardest thing to do is to love yourself and treat yourself with kindness, because the world will fight you on that. Our society prefers people who are obedient to others. It ridicules those who choose to put themselves first. But the boss who implies you are lazy or not pulling your weight if you ask for sick leave... will he be there for you when your health collapses? The "friend" who calls you selfish or unkind for refusing to constantly help... will they be there for you when you collapse from exhaustion?

It's not your duty to take care of everyone on the planet as well as fighting for Peace and the planet itself.  That burden is too great; no-one can carry that much. You will burn out. 

For two decades we have all cried "NO MORE" for world peace; now we must do it for our selves. No more giving without receiving back. No more draining yourself dry in the hope that somehow, some day, all that sacrifice will be appreciated and recognised. No more giving parts of your self away. No more self-destruction and lack of inner peace. 

Turn, turn, turn ...

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Countdown to Blogblast - BRAVE!

The theme for Blogblast for Peace this year (Nov 4-7 2021) is..
"Courageous Peace in a Time of Great Change"

I'm ready! :) And here's my inspiration... Brave!

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody's lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave