So glad you've come...

Welcome to Tigressland, my own personal little corner of the Internet where I hang out expressing my views about the smaller things in life. No controversy here (I'm saving that for the book lol) just the everyday minutiae that add up to my rather unpredictable, but always fun, life! So pull up a cushion and come chill.....and follow! We bloggers love it when you follow ;-) ~Tigress

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Testing positive

Well it’s still all go in the Tigress household.

See I've dropped off the parents at the airport and picked up the youngest offspring who is now here until the middle of April. While the elders were seen off without a hitch, the airline seems to have lost Lil Blondie’s luggage, but as much as this is rather inconvenient, I can’t help but simply feel grateful that her plane landed safely with all on board intact, unlike other recent aircraft flitting about the skies. 

My thoughts and healing vibes are with the families of those killed in the recent air tragedy in the French Alps.

It’s a funny thing gratitude; for many people it seems to only turn up in times of extreme events, and unfortunately for some, it never turns up at all.

People seem to find it so hard to appreciate what they have...and I find this sad.

If I sat down and thought about it, I have a long list of things I could be thoroughly miserable about. But for each and every one I have something to be grateful for. So if I am going to rabbit on about being grateful, best I lead by example. Here are the negatives and counter-positives in my life as I see them.

Negative 1: I've had cancer and it may come back one day.

Positive 1: My cancer taught me to appreciate my life at a base level and not feel guilty about cleansing negative energy from it. The fact that it may come back reminds me that the word ‘may’ is very different from the word ‘will’.

N2: I don’t get to see my children as often as I used to now I live in Australia.

P2: I have the Internet/Facebook to communicate with Miss 19 and see Lil Blondie every school holidays. I get to spend quality time with her now, much more than I did when I was a burned out single Mum.

N3: I have a painful degenerative spondyloarthritis condition that requires I take daily medication to manage and limits the amount and type of physical activity I can do.

P3: I can still walk, talk, hug people, write, type, think, read, exercise (within reason), drive, wash and dress myself, kiss, make love, laugh, feed myself, do housework, see, hear, touch, taste, smell and many other things that many other people cannot do. I am lucky.

N4: I have Fibromyalgia. I am frequently tired and sore and have multiple digestive difficulties. I sometimes have poor concentration and cannot even remember what the start of my sentence was.

P4: Refer P3

N5: My partner (Kevman) works away for part of the month and I miss him a lot.

P5: I have a partner who loves me very much and messages me every single day. Every three weeks I get to pick him up from the airport and it feels wonderful! Even the anticipation is delicious. I get to miss him and be reminded how much I feel for him. Yet I get to remain independent and am able to focus on my individual pursuits.

N6: I cannot maintain a full time job due to my health and family/partner commitments.

P6: I'm having time to get diagnoses and the health assistance I need as well as learn the best way to manage my body for maximum results. I have time to read and write as well as investigate healthier eating (reeeeally need to do this more). I also get to spend a whole week with my partner as well as have time to do craft and volunteer work. I am also investigating an online business with Miss 19.

N7: I cannot fix all the problems in the world that worry me.

P7: I can sign petitions, keep learning, practice tolerance and understanding, do my part in spreading love, education, positivity and joy where I can and encourage others to do the same. I can be the change I want to see.

N8: I sat down to write today feeling decidedly average.

P8: I now feel lucky, motivated, appreciative and just a squidge more in love than before (impossible I thought).

So I leave you with a challenge: Write down five things you are grateful for every day for 21 days.

Feel your life change

Tell me all about it! On here or on my Facebook page:

Thursday, 19 March 2015

On dads and driving

I use to be afraid to drive.

Not like: “Oh golly gosh that’s a wee bit daunting” type of afraid.

More the: “Jesus Christ I think I'm going to die” all the while shaking like a strung out junkie and wanting to vomit type of afraid.

It was quite the barrier and many reasons had been discussed as to why it existed.

My Mum had never driven, nor had her Mum; I had a naturally reclusive personality; and I had never been taught how to drive when I was young so always saw motor vehicles as foreign objects; some sort of unfathomable ‘other’.

But the most accurate reason as to why I strongly disliked driving was that I was afraid to piss other people off. 

Now in my household, as can be assumed from the above, my father did all the driving. During my formative years we lived in Napier, an average sized city in the province of Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. But for an average sized city it had a disproportionate amount of idiot drivers. You knew as soon as you got within the provincial borders that you were back in the area because indicators became optional as did even bothering to check if someone was there before pulling out onto a road.

And amongst this I was driven.

Now my father is, for the most part, a calm and patient man. Even once in the confines of a vehicle he keeps his cool and handles his four wheeled steed with ease (he used to be a ministerial driver for New Zealand politicians at one point in his career) but this did not mean that he remained silent behind his closed windows. In fact some of his most eloquent insults came forth while in traffic:

“How about you shift that dilapidated pile of shit off the road before I run right up your arse!”

“That’s right, you pull out there you bloody great ignoramus; it’s not like ANYONE ELSE IS USING THE ROAD!”

Or my personal favourite: “Are you going to turn that bloody corner or do you want a written God Damn invitation!”

Such was our amusing car trips. And this was all well and good...until I came to drive myself.
Living (in my early twenties) with a guy who was a complete prick didn't help overcome the phobia at all (I won’t elaborate as I am currently in a good mood and want it to stay that way) but I did manage to get a restricted licence. Then I met a calm sorta guy and he patiently let me drive his manual Nissan Navara with the clutch almost gone...this was a nervous experience at best.

And then we moved to Australia (where I couldn't drive), then Canada (where I also couldn't drive) then back to New Zealand (where, by then, I had totally lost any driving mojo) then back to Canada (where I couldn't drive) then back to New Zealand where it was also a no go due my phobia kicking back in with a vengeance.

When my marriage to said calm sorta guy ended, I felt a rising sense of panic. How could this have happened? Was I really that unlovable? Maybe if I drive he'll come back?

As it turns out, he wasn't the loss for me that I thought he was, but my grief at the time achieved miracles: I drove. He kept our Ford Falcon wagon and bought me a Mitzubishi Galant Viento, and I drove that thing all round town, in my own time, via my own routes. I chose to think of my car as an extension of me, like a protective coat, and this changed how I saw other drivers. You say what you like, I'm doing my best and you can all just deal with it.

I also made changes to my diet around this time that I also believe helped me control my anxiety. The gluten-free, dairy-free  diet (also known as the Asperger’s diet) has done wonderful things for not only my body but my over sensitive brain.....but that is a topic for a whole ‘nother blog.

Thus by the time I met the Kevman (I was sporting a 5 series BMW by then), I was very proficient at zapping around Feilding and Palmerston North (New Zealand).

Which was all but useless in preparing me for the highways and byways of Perth’s massive and constantly changing infrastructure.

“Oh good, someone else who can pick Kev up and drop him off at the airport and save us doing it” was one of the first things I heard from a few relatives upon my landing here.

Say what...

You know I'm from a pissant little Kiwi town that doesn't even have a set of traffic lights don't you?

But I did it. The trip to the airport at that time involved one major road, two highways (articulated trucks an un-optional extra), road works and what felt like 73 speed limit changes.

It took me three goes to get it right but I got there (Yes I have a I don’t use it....I cannot drive with things rabbiting in my yes; news, ads, rambling DJs and questionable

I felt right proud of myself. And each month I've been trying somewhere new: The Spudshed, The Reptile Centre, a different shopping centre, things like that.

So right now, my parents are visiting and I am currently dazzling my father with my vehicular brilliance. I'm haring around the Perth bitumen like Danica Patrick, changing lanes like a champion and generally having a right old time.

I feel my Pappy’s pride as he is seated next to me.....and also his amusement as the following fell out of my mouth yesterday: “So are you gonna shift yo ass into the other God damned lane or do you need a written bloody invitation!”

Aaaaand Lil Blondie is getting driving lessons from age 10

Now off to Freo!! Should be interesting ;-)

See you next week! 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

What I have...not what I am.

This is one those entries that kinda has to be written.

I am not particularly one for defining myself via medical conditions I have. This will never be a ‘Medical blog’, nor will any of my conditions make it into the description atop my wee corner of the Internet.

But I am a Tigress....born in the year of such stripy animals, and as such, I do not turn down opportunities in life and this I consider an opportunity. Not only to inform others of the reality of another’s oft physically painful life...but also to help them understand it from that other’s point of view.

What follows is a, probably rather disorganized, description of stuff my body has along with the effects thereof. I am tired today, dog tired....hence the inspiration to take the time to write this. I am tired but I am happy.


Fibromyalgia is an insidious disease....or, more correctly, a ‘syndrome’: a collection of symptoms hanging out together that make up a ‘condition’. It involves, by definition, ‘pain of unknown origin’ (really helpful).

Ankylosing Spondylitis and Sacroilitis are part of a cluster of conditions know as seronegative spondyloarthropathies and can generally be referred to as a pain in the ass (as well as several other places).

Hypermobility is the ability to stretch your joints past what is considered normal. This can be responsible for irritating the nerves in said joints more often than usual and generally causing pain wherever the hell it feels like it.

I have all three of these conditions; though, at present, specialists are not sure of exactly which spondyloarthropathy I have, or which condition is responsible for most of the pain.

If you ask me on any particular day how I feel....’sore’ is the correct answer. But I can’t be arsed explaining why (not that anyone probably wants the full answer anyway lol) so you'll usually get a smile and ‘good’.

And that’s not a lie. I do feel good, because that is what I choose.

And I make that decision every day.

There is no other choice for me.

When I wake up in the morning, I put my feet on the floor...they hurt. I take Naproxen (an anti-inflammatory) twice a day, but still, every morning I wake up and my feet hurt when I stand on the point that I cannot walk correctly for several minutes until much of the pain subsides. This process repeats every time I sit/rest during the day for any period longer than about 20-30 minutes. I stand up, they hurt...I walk funny, they loosen up, I do stuff, I sit......rinse and repeat.

All I can say is thank God for good sports shoes and inserts. I wear high heels only about once a year and under close supervision.

I have similar difficulties with my hands though they are seldom idle throughout the day. Pain most often occurs in my hands when I attempt to, say, grasp a thin string tightly or have been sitting still watching a movie and then try and grasp my drink.

I also have pain in my ankles, knees, wrists and elbows .This varies depending on level of previous activity, weather changes....or unknown factors in the universe that decide shit with no regard to anyone’s well-being whatsoever.

Now unfortunately, it’s not just the peripheral bits that hurt. Due to my sacroiliac joints (found at the back of one’s pelvic girdle) not being up to snuff....I have episodes of severe pain in that area as well as stiffness in my lower back in general. Walking is not fun at these times and pain killers are required en masse. But Naproxen largely avoids these flares now. This is a pleasing development.

That’s about it in the pain department....stuff hurts every day and I take pills to stop as much of it as I can. If I don’t take those pills, I don’t really feel inclined to move....for the most part because not only does all of the above hurt more severely, but I develop costochondritis, or inflammation of the cartilage at the bottom of the ribs that makes even turning over in bed a mission of epic proportions.

Needless to say I like Naproxen.

Other shenanigans that my body gets up to are as follows:

I am positive for the gene HLA B27, making me significantly more prone to the above mentioned spondyloarthropathy cluster of conditions. Other effects of this gene that I have experienced include regular bouts of iritis (inflammation of the iris of the eye) and possible reactive arthritis (should have gone to doctor but didn't, so just my self-diagnosis there): a temporary arthritis in reaction to an infection (particularly bladder or stomach). The former involves pain, inflammation and redness in the eye requiring steroids and dilating drops, the latter manifests as soreness (particularly in the weight bearing joints) as well as Achilles Tendonitis (making for one very sore tootsie for a long period of time).

Other eye issues include bouts of dry, irritated eyes that require drops.

The hypermobility means that basically I hurt myself more easily than most, coz things stretch further than they should. This makes gym time fun.

Then there’s the rest of the Fibro fun and games. Fibromyalgia not only causes pain, but also some major doses of fatigue. You develop quite sudden and overwhelming desires to lie down on frequent occasion and these tend to be non negotiable. Some days you will feel quite good and go hooning around like a mad thing doing a bunch of stuff only to feel like death warmed up the next day. Life is about balance with Fibromyalgia....a balance I am apparently yet to learn.

Fibromyalgia also means you sleep like other way to describe it really. I am lucky in that I have trained myself to fall asleep fine....but I often wake up at stupid times and cannot return to a deep sleep. This does not help one’s concentration and energy level issues the next day.

Fibromyalgia also makes your body sensitive to everything. And I mean everything.

Food: I am gluten, dairy, yeast, caffeine, aspartame and alcohol sensitive (significantly reducing or avoiding these has lead to a considerably better mental and physical state)

Noise: it irritates and stresses me, especially loud or incessant noise....I much prefer quiet, though I do tolerate most music very well. 

Temperature extremes and changes: My body strongly dislikes cold but also stops working in the heat....I have a functioning range of temperature that is not that wide....air-con is my best friend here in Perth.

Light: My eyes are hypersensitive to light.... (Though unrelated, I also have a photic sneeze reflex – I sneeze at the sun/bright light)....I have to wear sunglasses everywhere, even in winter on glary days, and I strongly dislike ‘white light’ indoors.

Skin: My skin can become sore for no reason...none at all...just becomes sensitive to the touch for no reason whatsoever....quite ridiculous. Getting poked in one of the 18 Fibromyalgia ‘tender points’ ain't exactly fun either. 

Everything else: Anxieties are common with people with Fibromyalgia. I strongly dislike telephones and am not all that impressed with crowds either. Am also prone to vertigo in some situations.

Another delightful wee facet of Fibromyalgia I sometimes experience is ‘Fibro-fog’. That is, I lose track of what I'm saying mid statement; I cannot recall the spelling of simple words or cannot recall the specific word I want; I have frequent periods of low concentration and attention span and I have difficulty remembering some recent events (though have crystal clear memory of others).

There are other random things that my body does but they are probably not related to these conditions and will be part of further investigations. These include heart rate abnormalities, reactions to local anaesthetic, aseptic cystitis (the symptoms of bladder infection without any actual infection present.....particularly clever I thought) and various stomach and bowel complaints that seem to be above and beyond the Irritable Bowel Syndrome I've also been diagnosed with. I'll just keep up the doc/specialist visits till we have the full story.

But enough of what’s wrong....what’s happening to fix these things? Well before we get too cutely optimistic let it be known that all three of these conditions are chronic (ongoing) and incurable. But stuff can be done to manage them.

Exercise is a good therapeutic aid and I am in the process of being prescribed a physical therapy routine to work within the bounds of my Fibromyalgia, around my sacroiliac issues and toward strengthening muscles to support my hypermobile joints. I am very much looking forward to this as when I am left unsupervised, I go all out and consequently write myself off for days.

I am currently trialling the drug ‘Lyrica’ for sleep issues and pain management. It seems to be helping a little with the sleep but not so much with the pain just yet. Doses can be increased, we'll see how it goes.

I have made many dietary modifications (as mentioned above) and believe this has significantly improved my Fibromyalgia symptoms, but there are still more I can investigate. Following the FODMAP diet and/or removing nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and capsicums) from my diet are the next step but I want specialist evaluation before I go changing anything else.

But probably the best way to fight these conditions is by simply not giving in to them or letting them define you. I am a global citizen, a Kiwi, a committed partner, a mother, a daughter, a humanitarian and a friend long before I will ever be a Fibromyalgia sufferer or cancer survivor. I get up each day, enjoy each day, be thankful for each day and put everything I can into each day. I surround myself (virtually and actually) with positive, caring people (my gratitude to my Kevman knows no bounds here), smile at strangers and genuinely appreciate everything I still have to offer this world.

I may be a broken-ass bitch but I’m still a damn lucky one. I get to wake up, stand up and step up each day...and that’s all I need to know.

Till next week! Be awesome ;-)

Thursday, 5 March 2015

So in reality.....

          “Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.” Tupac Shakur

Unless you've been under the proverbial social media rock lately, you've probably been inundated with images of a certain white/gold (or is black/blue?) dress.

For those who have missed the viral sensation, let me explain. Recently a photo of a blue and black dress was circulated on the Internet. The only problem was that to ¾ of the viewing population, the dress actually appeared gold and white, that is the blue parts appeared white and the black parts appeared gold.

Like actually

I thought the Kevman was going a tad soft in the melon when he held up a picture of an obviously white and gold dress, telling me in all honesty that it was blue and black. He had his little earnest face on...he wasn’t shitting me.

In short, we were seeing two completely different versions of the same picture.

But the story gets better. Later that day, after a lovely dinner and a cocktail or two we had another squizz at the bi-polar dress. I now saw it as blue and black while the Kevman now saw white and gold.

Words were spoken...some not for little ears (“What the f**k??” was popular).

So how could this be? How could we see the same picture so completely differently?

The science behind it is baffling and I can’t be arsed examining it now (that’s what Google is for my friends, go for it).

What I would like to examine is the backlash to the popularity of the picture.

It is not uncommon for various phenomena to go viral on the Internet. A recent episode that springs to mind is that of a certain socialite’s shiny posterior supposedly ‘breaking the Internet’. And quite rightly the backlash was profound. Why were we being inundated with this shit when much more important things where going on in the world? How had we become this shallow?

I agreed.

But this time, I don’t.

Yes there are indeed much more pressing issues in the world to be acknowledged, but this dress picture has proven a far more valuable point than naked pictures of Kim Kardashian’s ass ever will. While the Kimster’s pic serves only to reinforce the women as sexual meat paradigm, the dress picture emphasises something altogether different:

That two different people can perceive the exact same ‘reality’.... differently.

 Rather profound I thought.

Still not impressed? Well let’s extrapolate (and here I break my ‘no controversial issues’ rule to a certin extent)

Let’s take the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

There's a ‘reality’ here that changes with every person you talk to. Some see ‘evil Muslims’, some see ‘evil Jews’, some see ‘cunning Zionist oppressors’, some see ‘violent Hamas extremists’ while others see atrocities committed on both sides and write them all off as ‘religious idiots’.

So who is right?

Well we could ask the media, but do you really think they are able to give you a comprehensive story in a three minute newsbite? Doubtful. And in their desire to bring you the ‘two sides’ of what is actually a multi faceted issue they have a tendency to paint one side as good and the other as evil. This doesn't actually help us understand the actual situation a whole heap. These people would effectively try and tell you what colour the dress is when half of them are seeing it completely incorrectly.

When it comes to the picture it is merely a variance in perception, colour vision, and a little mental trickery. But when it comes to Israel and Palestine, variances in knowledge are the main culprits: Knowledge of the history of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, knowledge of the current situation, and knowledge of the full spectrum of religious thought within both the Jewish and Islamic religions.

If you asked an ISIS member, a Mossad employee, a moderate Imam, a Palestinian child, an Israeli university student, an American soldier, a frontline foreign doctor, a Gazan soccer player, an Al Jazeera reporter and French photographer their thoughts on the conflict, chances are you would get a different version from each of them.

A different personal and subjective version of ‘reality’ based on their own knowledge and life experience.

They would all see a slightly different coloured dress within the spectrum of vision of the ongoing conflict. And to each person those colours would be as real as the bullet casings at their feet.

So was this dress going viral such a bad thing? Really? When it so clearly illustrated how very different people’s perceptions of a ‘reality’ can be?

Some stated they would have preferred other pictures to have gone viral, such as that of a young girl being handed a folded American flag at the funeral of what one would assume is her military parent.
So what reality is to be seen in that picture? Do you see the bravery of American soldiers? The sadness of children deprived of a parent?...or does your mind extrapolate to the warmongering of political bodies and the senseless deaths of thousands of innocent people because some world leaders can't get their shit together and treat all their countrymen and women fairly and equally.

Does the picture of the little girl really teach us anything more than the picture of the dress? Probably not. 

What the dress picture effectively did was remove the context to show the simple truth. It took out the politics, the religion, the weapons, the opinions and the media slant and showed us what we needed to see.....that a complete stranger as much as someone we love and care about more than anything in the world can see something completely different to the way we do.

With the dress you don’t have a lot of hope of changing what you see.

But with everything else, there are steps of knowledge toward common ground.

So when you approach every disagreement from now on......just be thankful it’s not about that damn dress and get to steppin'

I'll leave you here with a quote from the legendary Bruce Lee. This is for all those fighting around the world for the most basic of human rights. More people stand with you than you know.

“Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

Take that whichever way you see it.