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Maybe some of you who do regular workouts have heard this one. Especially women. I did hear and still hear it very often when i do upper body workouts. Don’t be scared to lift, most of women are afraid of lifting because they will grow muscle and become too bulky. We all know very well where this comes from and if you don’t get it, i’ll give you a hint: society’s absurd beauty standards. After all women with strong arms are “weird”.

No they aren’t. They are healthy, motivated and strong. Here i don’t refer to bodybuilders and professional athletes, they are another category. I refer to people who usually workout at normal pace three to six times a week. Like myself. Sometimes i do it even less within those days when disease is an impediment.

I’ve been working out before and i can tell you honestly, i’ve never had bulky arms. I did though build some muscle and got rid of that hanging arm skin. But that’s it. I could never build bulky arms because i’m not a bodybuilder, i don’t do sports for a living, i’m not taking any kinds of supplements (and here i refer to steroids) and i keep within a modest range with weights. And i don’t usually train with that scope.

One of the reasons i started training was after a physiotherapy session which i attended because of lower back pain. The physiotherapist gave me two simple exercises to test my lower back muscles and i couldn’t perform them at all which meant that my lower back muscles were extremely weak. At that point, i took this challenge very seriously and i told myself i couldn’t go on like this. I had to do something about it. And i did. I never even thought for one second that building muscle might be a problem, i always saw it as a positive thing and i never worried about looking like a bodybuilder because i knew that 4-5 times fitness sessions won’t turn me into one.

So, if there is somebody worrying about that, i’d say stop it. If you are doing normal fitness programs, you won’t get bulky arms. The ones who have a high amount of muscle than the average is because they do follow very different training programs and a very different diet than the average fitness amateur.

 

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When i was younger, i used to get respiratory tract infections very often which usually resulted in long periods of unpleasant symptoms, medicines and doctor visits. Then my mom and aunt started to go almost every summer at the seaside and they took me along with them. I remember being so excited, not sleeping the whole night on the train journey from our town to the Black Sea and the next day going immediately to the beach although mom and aunt were so tired. I loved the evening walks by the sea and that typical sea smell.

But it was not only the enjoyment of being there that helped. I noticed, and my parents noticed that respiratory infections became a thing of the past. I wasn’t plagued by them anymore and from then on we continued to go to the seaside for about 2 weeks per year. I enjoyed it so much, i wanted to move there. I was so jealous on the people who were living near the sea.

Years have gone and i moved to a city from Central Finland – Jyväskylä. I lived there for 8 years and i gathered the best memories and met the best people. Until circumstances forced me to move away. You imagine that it’s not easy to move from a place where you have lived for 8 years. I got very attached to the city and i had friends there, too. At least what was left of them as most of my friends moved around the world after their studies were completed. But little did i know that in a very short time i would accommodate myself in the new town, so fast it seemed unreal.

After losing my job due to budget cuts, i started looking for another one all over the country with very few hopes. Given my circumstances, i wasn’t so optimistic about it but the best of luck made it to find a new job (and a great one!) on the seaside coast of Western Finland in Central Ostrobothnia. In Jakobstad or Pietarsaari. It’s a two language city which from the first i thought it was amazing because i found it very frustrating to forget my Swedish. But among the best things…it was near the sea! After all these years, i was moving near the sea!

The transition was made easier by my ability to adapt to a new place, not being bothered by the fact that the town was much smaller than Jyväskylä, the great work colleagues who were and are very helpful whenever i ask something, my will to learn as much as i can about the place’s history (afterall i work in a museum!), i genuinely wanted this workplace, no unemployment office forced me to apply for it, i did it because i really wanted it. The town has a really interesting history and…it’s placed by the sea. I could not have asked for more.

At first it was not easy to move away mostly because of getting used to a place, building a life there and being scared for the new. I didn’t know how it will be, the atmosphere, the people and the whole process of moving is itself really stressful, at least for me but in the end i don’t regret it a bit because as i can see it now it was for the best. At point we are so stuck in that old, safe routine that we don’t realize it is harmful for us because we don’t keep going forward. We are just kept into that same place. I would really love to remain here if it is possible as my contract is limited but that will be for the future to see. For the moment, i am enjoying the time here, do my work as best as i can and learn a lot.

I remember reading a while ago an article about sanitary pads tax and how that should be lowered (from 24% to 12%), including tampons, absorbants and incontinence pads. In Finland, a pack of average absorbants (14 pack, normal size) is between 2.30-3.50 euros and here i don’t count in cheap brands which are an absolute disaster because of their low quality. Don’t ask me about tampon prices as i don’t use tampons (i did when i used to have periods but only when i was swimming and they were extremely uncomfortable). And before judging me why i don’t use a menstrual cup – i tried but it was a disaster and i guess because of endometriosis which suspicion was later confirmed by a specialist.

But, i’m writing this because it amused and somehow disgusted me the comments left by men who demanded that they should also get tax-free razors. Look, you just don’t compare sanitary pads with razors because if you take both genders into consideration, women also use razors. And quite a lot if you take into account that some of us are quite hairy. Add to that wax, hair removal creams, hair removal devices or hair bleaching. Because society sees us as disgusting monkeys if we dare to expose the smallest amount of hair in the places deemed by the almighty society not fit to show hair on. And to add to that razors for women are more expensive than men’s. I saw that with my own eyes in the grocery store one day when i compared the prices out of pure curiosity. As a guy you can go around with an unshaven face but dare to go out with hairy armpits as a woman (search for death threats that some women got because they dared to show their bushy armpits in public).

So both of us we need razors but only us need sanitary pads because well, damn biology. You can stop your period but then again you need money for the meds to stop it. And now i’m talking about lots of women who struggle with money and for whom 2.30 euros is a lot of money (not to mention women who have heavy or extended periods and they might need 3+ packs of absorbants per month). In this case about 10 euros per month is lots of money. Nobody said about giving sanitary pads for free although it might be a very good idea for the ones who live in poverty. But lowering the tax would be of great help. And whoever can stand a menstrual cup, i do advise them to buy it because even if it is a bit pricey, it will save a lot in the long run. I would use one if i could as most of sanitary pads are also manufactured from synthetic products which are not healthy for the body or environment. There are better sanitary pads namely cotton and organic pads but they are a bit more expensive than their synthetic counterparts.

In Finland the brand Vuokkoset sells organic bio-degradable and cotton absorbants and pads.

 

Do you know when you just take your trash out, throw it into the bin and forget about it? Yes, i know because most of my life i did exactly that. I never had to take care of my own trash, i just sorted it and threw it away. Out of sight out of mind. But for me,  it was not out of mind because i thought many times where does my trash go, how is it processed, is it totally recycled, then how it is recycled?

Well, this last weekend i found out, at least a part of it. Since my other home is in the countryside, we needed to buy a compostor because the place where we took the organic trash was full. Another option was to order a trash bin from the city but i think the costs would have gotten higher since you have to pay monthly for the trash bin and trash delivery services.

So, before i had to do research what kind of compostors are on the market, how do they work and how one uses them. Then we headed to the grocery store, at the department where they sold compostors and ordered one as they didn’t have them in stock at that very moment. In one week the compostor was delivered at the local shop and we had to pick it up together with  three sacks of woodchips to throw over the organic leftovers so they can turn into soil. It took a while to arrange the spot where the compostor would be placed and then another while to assemble it. I started reading the instructions including what you can and cannot throw, possible problems, compost temperature and maintenance.

It took almost a whole day working on assembling and informing myself about how to use a compostor. And things are not ending here. You do have to maintain the compostor and when it is filled, you need to take the soil out and assure that it functions properly.

If somebody is curious and interested, the compostor we bought it from Biolan, 220eco model suitable for a household of 1-6 persons and it costed 469 euros. The composter was also registered and there are some more accessories that are needed especially for winter and for mixing the compost. I would have loved to write my own experience with composting but for the moment i just threw organic trash only two times. Let’s see what happens in about 5 months.

“There’s more to life than being a passenger”. Amelia Earhart

Not many people know that but one of my childhood career prospects was to become a commercial airline pilot. But i knew this will never happen because of a disease i didn’t know i have back then and mostly because where i grew up people would just laugh into your face if you were a girl and wanted to become a pilot.

I’m very conscious about my choices and environment but there is one thing i will never give up: flying. So when the Swedish hippies started bragging about their useless eco taxes on flights, i became fierce. First, their whole point is to make flights so ridiculously expensive so people won’t fly anymore in the hope they will save the planet. Which won’t happen because those taxes will surely go (as usually) into the pockets of some rich magnates and what you will be left with it’s probably destroying an industry and have even more jobless people.

When greenies bark so much about taking down the aviation industry all they have in mind are the retired people travelling to Canary Islands or Thailand for their holidays. Sorry to break it down but the aviation industry is so much more complex than people transportation, there is also transportation of goods, namely the cargo flights which are a bigger part than people transportation. And then there is the part that it has nothing to do with goods or people, one example would be the military.

And believe it or not many people are not travelling just for the sake of travelling. Thinking now of the average Jones who goes to work. When you work, employed by somebody or having your own business, you don’t have many days of holiday so one could travel mostly once a year (at least my case). Other people travel a lot because of work, study or because they have families and friends in other parts of the world. Travelling for pleasure makes a very small part of flying.

Another thing with flying, when i look at Finland, is that ground transportation’s infrastructure is quite weak and expensive. I’ll take an example: travelling from Southern Finland to Lapland. You need to change trains twice and take a bus because the railway stops around Kemi. This journey costed me two years ago 210 euros (with student discount) and it lasted one day. Norwegian Airlines has flights between Helsinki-Ivalo starting with 30 euros. In 1 hour and 40 minutes you are in Lapland with a very convenient price.

My family lives on the other side of Europe and one time i was crazy enough to look if i could make the whole journey by train. I gave up after i saw it takes about a week, it is extremely expensive and you need to go through several border checks between countries. No thanks. Blue Air has very cheap tickets Helsinki-Bucharest and you’re at the destination in less than 3 hours. Time is money.

Plane tickets are already expensive as it is and the conditions are not that great. A basic flight has almost nothing included hence the low price and i do remember when i started flying long ago, plane companies used to have much more decent conditions and here i refer to meals and included fees for luggage. But i don’t complain, as long as i reach the destination safely, i’m happy.

So, yes, us the average Jones can’t actually afford to travel so much because of the prices and available free time but also, and now i refer to myself, i don’t do that well on long haul flights. I flew to Canary Islands few years ago, the flight took 6 hours and i thought i’m going to go mad. I was in pain, physically. That was as a passenger, i have no idea how i’d act if i were a pilot. Sad, i’ll never find out besides flying simulators.

But coming back to the problem, i’ll leave this article here. The issues that i have already mentioned and mainly the loss of jobs and eventually closing down small airports are mentioned in the article as well as failed attempts of other countries to introduce an eco tax on flights. For me, it is nothing new as i have the decency to take into consideration economic factors and actually inform myself before shouting let’s put a tax on everything to save the world. Taxing is not a solution but improving aircraft and fuel it surely is. So, before i book a flight i always inform myself what type of aircraft does the company use and what kind of general policies they have. Sometimes price is not always the key as on some routes you have no choice but to fly with a certain company. In case, i book long haul flights, i’m more strict about the airline but as i don’t travel outside Europe for now, i don’t have to worry about it.

 

This issue has been pressing me for a long while. To be more specific since i started taking regularly birth control pills in my early 20’s and noticed that one cannot get them as subsidized meds as with most of prescription pills i had. Why this issue bothered me? Because i wasn’t taking them for birth control but for a condition that was later diagnosed as endometriosis. This disease has no other treatment than hormonal one which includes birth control pills.

I tried to look into the matter and why these pills cannot be prescribed as medical treatment for a disease. In Finland, doctors tick a box on your prescription: for disease, other reason. Birth control pills with the exception of only one brand cannot be ticked under “for disease” box. Why? Right now i cannot think of any other reason than legislation which is quite complicated and involves legal aspects and the fact that birth control pills are mainly seen as used for recreation (sex) which society is still quite taboo-ish about and cannot stand women getting a free pass when it comes to it.

Still, the last reason still doesn’t have an excuse because the doctor can very well prove you have a medical condition which requires the pill as a treatment and therefore prescribe it under “for disease” category. I don’t see why it is that complicated unless there are legislation factors involved. Diane brand of pills is subsidized and used to treat, for example, acne. Why couldn’t other birth control pills be allowed to be used in treatment of other diseases?

There are lots of medications which are used for several diseases. Birth control pills are mainly used for birth control but they help with many other issues such as endometriosis, PCOS, acne, amenorrhea, PMS, menstrual cramps, heavy periods etc. The fact that only one brand is subsidized is not enough because this one brand is not suitable for all women. I couldn’t stand Diane, it made me sick. I tried several brands with no success until i came over one and i stayed on it as i didn’t have any serious side-effects. It is one of low-dose hormone BC which probably explains why my body tolerated it.

Some birth control pills are affordable but other are very expensive and given the fact that not everybody has an optimal financial situation, they should be on the subsidized meds list, if not for preventing pregnancy, at least for disease. Some of gynecological diseases are crippling as endometriosis is and because the pill is the only treatment for it, it should be recognized as one by insurance companies. Not to mention that most of painkillers are not subsidized either, the disease might cost one a lot.

On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me that the pill is not considered medicine as endometriosis is still not understood and patients wait years for diagnosis. Also, the disease gets very few money for research although it is as common as diabetes and asthma. At least, this little help could be welcomed by many.

As about the judgement from people, i would say it should be ignored. The judgement usually comes from the fact that these pills were created and mainly used to prevent pregnancy and as i mentioned, this thing does not usually stay well with some people especially that women use them. Most things i’ve heard are usually related to side-effects. Every medicine has side-effects but when it comes to the pills, it’s so amazing how people become so suddenly worried about your well-being and need to remind you about what you do to your body. When we all know it’s not about that. You wouldn’t lecture a diabetic on their meds, right? What’s the point in judging me? If i’m not taking the pill then i have to take painkillers which are actually worse and they do not stop the growth of endometriosis as the pill does. Alternative medicine is not an option because it doesn’t work, i also tried that.

All of us who take meds for one reason or another, are very aware of the side-effects and what we get ourselves into. But as for now, there are unfortunately no better choices. I am though grateful that i live in a place and age where i have access to this treatment.

It’s been almost 7 months since i found out i have a big endometriosis cyst on one of my ovaries. I know that the disease has already spread if it managed to form itself into a visible cyst and who knows for how long i have had it. Although i suspect since i was a teenager if i were to think of all the symptoms that doctors mistook for different issues along the years.

I’m still not fully aware of the gravity of the situation and i do deny quite a lot. This luxury is also permitted by the fact that the medication i was put on works quite well and most of the time i am pain free. As i have been reading from endometriosis forums, others are not that lucky. Of course, i don’t know yet how serious it is unless i have the surgery which i’m still waiting for. I can’t say i’m in a hurry to have it because right now i’m looking for a full-time job in my field and struggle with a society that fully blames me for the lost of my job and for this disease. Although i had no fault in it.

What did i learn though from this? First, not to take my health for granted. Today you might be completely well and tomorrow you might receive a horrible diagnosis. You are not invincible and human bodies are very fragile. It’s no guarantee that my disease won’t become worse over the time. I have to keep in mind that there is no treatment and no cure for it. The only few options available are not very efficient and i might say quite dangerous: hormone therapy and surgery.

I learned to accept the limits of my body and to come to terms with them. I had to stop doing any kind of harsh physical activity including my beloved fitness hobby. I can’t stand or sit too much, i can’t even do most of the house chores sometimes.  There are though some days when i can do pilates and mild core strength exercises. And there are days when i can just exist. I learned that if i don’t force my body and just let it be and live accordingly to its limitations, i get by much better. It was difficult to listen to it in the beginning when we live in a society that drives us to exhaustion by transforming us into overachieving robots but stressing my body and pushing it over the limits made things so much worse. I also realized that if i continue to ignore my body, i will also destroy my mind and this is the last thing i want right now.

This disease puts a huge toll on the mind as it is so by finding a certain harmony with the body, i’m trying as much as i can to preserve my sanity and be productive at the same time. The pace is much slow but i’d rather go that way than crumble for good.

I became used to carry a special bag full of medications with me all the time. I have five types of painkillers and i learned to know the pain very well and to medicate according to the intensity of the pain. I learned that taking Nurofen Plus (the one with codeine) for a week didn’t get me addicted as i was afraid it will. Now, i’m just glad i don’t have to take it.

I have the hospital emergency number set as app just in case my cyst bursts or i have ovarian torsion. Or i might have some other emergency related to the side-effects of the hormones. I also learned all the symptoms and revised the first-aid procedures just in case.

Eating healthy and staying fit is not totally going to protect you from diseases. Of course, i don’t want to turn into a bitter person and eat all the junk food which comes at hand. I still take care of my diet not to worsen the endometriosis. But, in many cases, lots of people will blame you. You must have eaten healthier and exercised much more. I learned not to listen to them because they are not the sick ones and automatically they don’t understand a thing. And as I later learned some of well-known fitness trainers also struggle with endometriosis.

This goes to the next lesson and i think the most important one: people will not understand you. They can have mountains and oceans of empathy, if they are not the ones dealing with this disease, they won’t understand. And this also made me realize how little society knows in general about endometriosis from the reactions i usually get. It angers me to see so much ignorance but i still try to calm myself down and understand that these people have not idea what they are talking about. Sure, they could just keep their mouth shut but not everybody knows the fine art of diplomacy.

This disease doesn’t mean the end of life. It makes it a bit more difficult but in no way i thought of giving up everything i like doing. I am able to study and work as i did go to school and held down several jobs while having this disease (i just didn’t know what i had back then), rarely missing any days. Doing something i like usually has even improved my spirit and made me more resistant to the disease, in a way, completely ignoring it. There are lots of us struggling with this but somehow we manage to live normal lives or at least as close as possible to normal.