Search

Eh look! A mysterious button. Let's click it!

Shauna Reid

Welcome, weary traveller! I'm Shauna Reid, an Australian writer who moved to Scotland eleven years ago in pursuit of adventure and kilts

Join my monthly newsletter

A very small shark bit my arm – Part 2

29/May/2014

Get Well Soon

Shark postcard from the amazing Frances.

Continued from Part 1.

Mid-April
I went down to Edinburgh for the surgery. Here’s the painkiller-soaked version of events that I originally posted on the U&R forum. It was also the first time I used the voice dictation software so it’s a bit bonkers, but it captures the spirit of the moment!

I was prepping myself no, CRaPPING myself, on the way to Edinburgh as I’m not a big fan of horses no hospitals.

On Wednesday I had the nuclear medicine part. It went fine. They injected the isotopes then I had various scans. It was a bit claustrophobic inside the scanning machine so I borrowed a tricks from you guys, to go through the alphabet and name somebody awesome that I know for each letter. Andrea Alex Anne Angela and so on all the way Z. it made me teary happy and totally calm.

I checked into the 2nd hospital on Wednesday night.

I was in award at six. No. A ward of six. Women. One lady had caught a fish fork no no no. PUT A fish hook through her hand by accident and it got infected.

Another lady had been beaten by her own C a T. Not beaten, B I TT EN by her own cat. She was a bit crazy but really nice. She was showing Fish Hook Lady pictures of her dog, which was named beyonce.

I was nervous on the morning of the surgery. I told the anaesthetist and the nurses that, quote I’m crapping my pants right now unquote.

Beneath the test beneath… no. the anaesthetist replied, quote only an Australian could get away with saying that unquote.

Then he asked, why are you living in Scotland?

I said, because I’m hiding from the sun. But that didn’t work very well did it? Ha ha!

They all laughed kindly and next thing I was under.

When I woke up it was two and a half hours later. I couldn’t believe that it was over. I asked the recovery nurse if it was really over.

She said yes and that they didn’t have to do A skin graft after all! they managed to close up without it.

I kept saying over and over, is that true? Really?

And she said yes, and I just started crying like a real ugly cry honk honk honk.

Was so relieved and then my teeth chattered violently then I felt so so happy smiley.

I was worried I would say something stupid like when I was sedated for my wisdom teeth. The only thing that I said was when I overheard two nurses talking about a doctor who always writes snotty e-mails. I yelled to them, Well he sounds like a real fanny!

Waiting – Week 1
It’s good to be home. Arm is very sore and sleeping is awkward but I’m totally fine.

Went to the plastic surgery nurse in Inverness today. She took off all the dressing and bandages. My armpit looks pretty good, the scar will be neat! My wrist looks horrific. It was quite a shock. I have a very strong stomach; growing up on a farm you see a lot of boyfriends no no no. gory things!

This dictation thing is so funny.

Anyway the WOUND is gruesome! I thought I was totally cool and even kind of impressed, but then I stood up to leave and my stomach dropped and I nearly fainted. How embarrassing! The nurse made me lie down for a while. He he.

She said I need to keep my arm elevated for another two weeks to help with this swelling. Also dr said last week that biopsy results Will take A minimum of two weeks so that is nearly 1 week down.

I’m feeling calm and it’s not just the TRAMADOL. One step at a time, and as mother-in-law Mary said, be strong!

Continue to Part 3…

A very small shark bit my arm

27/May/2014

Raigmore

I’ve been updating this post offline for months, but was too chicken to publish until I knew if there’d be a happy ending. Spoiler alert: there was. Woohoo!

December 2013
There’s a mole on my forearm, two inches above the wrist, that Gareth has christened Wally.

“When are you going to do something about Wally?” he keeps saying, “I don’t like the look of him.”

I’d asked my Dunfermline doctor about it in 2012 and again in the summer of 2013. Both times she said it was nothing to be concerned about, but the second time I insisted on getting it checked anyway.

She wrote a referral to the specialist but with waiting times, I’d moved to Inverness by the time an appointment came through.

So I visit a new GP, who says she can remove it at the surgery, rather than restart the referral process.

“It’s up to you though,” she says, “It looks innocent and doesn’t need to come off. The scar would be bigger than the mole itself.”

I’m a total wusspants about needles and gore so briefly consider leaving it, but end up booking in. It’s annoying and I keep knocking it on things. And it does seem to be getting darker and taller, rising like a rogue panettone.

January 2014
Is 36 too old to ask for a jellybean? I try not to vom as the doctor digs away at my arm. I inform the doc and the nurse that the mole is named Wally and they crack up.

“Did you want to take a photo before we chop him out?”

“No thanks, I don’t want to see his sorry mug again!”

The nurse holds up a little vial with the floating blob of tissue. “Say goodbye to Wally! He’s off to Raigmore now!”

One week later
The doctor calls me in to talk about the test results.

“Unfortunately it turns out you have a malignant melanoma. I have to say I’m completely flabbergasted. It did not look suspect, at all.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “flabbergasted” out loud before. It sounds charming with her English accent.

The report says the tumour is quite deep, possibly larger than the biopsied area. Further excavation is be required. So the GP writes an urgent referral to the dermatologist at the hospital.

I feel shellshocked. But being an Aussie I know a gazillion people who’ve routinely had these things chopped out, no worries.

All I can think about how is how Wally was born and bred entirely in Scotland. I’ve spent nearly eleven years trying to convince the locals that even though their sun is pissweak and elusive, it still wants you dead. And now I have PROOF! I feel strangely triumphant, but kinda shitscared.

February
Raigmore Hospital has a SYSTEM. Holy crap I love a good system! Instead of a baffling array of ologies and ists and isms, they’ve sorted the departments into numbered categories. So instead of wandering around for hours trying to find where you’re meant to be, you just report to your number.

The dermatologist is a funny guy, combining bluntness with a calm, “let’s keep our heads here” that I find reassuring.

He begins by explaining Wally’s size. “1mm, we’d be concerned, so 4mm? That’s a thick one”.

I must have looked a bit blank so he says, “You do appreciate what a melanoma is?”.

“Oh yeah, I grew up in Australia!”

“You grew up in Australia?”

“Yes. But I was always fanatical about sun protection!”

He pulls a face like I’d told him I’d camped on the surface of the sun itself.

He explains that it could be a simple matter of taking a wider chunk from my arm and that’s it. Or it could be that the rebel cells have spread since they’ve been there quite awhile. There’s something about his matter of fact way tone that almost makes me laugh. I feel kinda humbled and powerless. What can I do about any of this? All I can do is wait and deal with it as it comes.

He looks over my galaxy of freckles then feels my lymph areas. He notices the Fitbit clipped to my bra. “Now what is that thing?”.

“It’s a Fitbit. Like a pedometer.”

“Oh really?” he raises an eyebrow and grins, “Or is it actually… a recording device? And a hidden camera too? Are you from Channel 4 Dispatches or BBC Panorama?”

He says the procedure is too involved for a local surgery, so the next step is a consultation with the Plastic Surgery department.

Afterwards, Gareth and I flee to the Dores Inn for that mega scone.

A week later
The plastic surgeon says they’ll do a wide local excision, which means going out about 3cm in each direction from the original site. This is to catch anything left behind and to help prevent it coming back.

Because of the melanoma depth, family history, and my young age (sorry doc, say that last one again?), they’ll also do a sentinel lymph node biopsy, which involves injecting radioactive isotopes into the Wally Area. That will light up the nearest lymph nodes in my armpit. They’ll remove those nodes then test them to see if the cancer has spread.

Apparently I will wind up with a cool scar and a kind of dent in my arm. I poll my friends for crafty ways to explain it. It’s where the aliens implanted the chip. It’s a skateboard ramp for tiny squirrels. I decide to go with, a very small shark bit my arm.

March
The doctor calls me with surgery dates and reads out the letter from the dermatologist. “Did you know you are a Fitzpatrick Type 1? Have you heard that term before?”

“Does that mean… ginger as f*ck?”

Apparently it’s a numerical classification schema for skin colour. Type 1 is pale white; blond or red hair; blue eyes; freckles. Always burns, never tans. Yeah, that’s the fella!

April
The surgery is two days away and I’m bricking it. I keep thinking about the skin graft and having a piece of my thigh being welded to my forearm. I’ve never been a fan of my thighs, and now I’m going to have to look at them, on my arm, every day? That’s crazy talk.

This is getting long so I will continue later in another post!

Update: here is Part 2.

Sunday afternoon haulage

13/May/2014

Highland's Strongest Woman

I didn’t realise until Sunday that I have a burning ambition to drag a truck down a road with my bare hands.

I was at the inaugural Highland’s Strongest Woman contest, cheering on my kickass personal trainer Shona and her fellow ladies of steel.

Holy moly. First they did a medley of carrying heavy objects ranging from 40 to 100 kilos (88 – 220lb) over a 20 metre course. Then they had to do as many 100 kilo deadlifts as possible in 90 seconds. Then they had to press heavy weights (can’t remember how heavy) above their heads as many times as possible in 90 seconds.

All very impressive, but then they did the Truck Pull & Drag. There was a rope attached to a 3 tonne truck. They had to grab that rope and pull the truck along for 20 metres, then run around to the front of the truck, jump into a harness, then haul it back in the other direction, as seen in the photo above.

One could read the papers or walk the dog or go to the pub on a sunny Sunday afternoon or one could pull a truck along the road for fun. Watching those dames it seemed like a brilliant idea!

They finished with the car deadlift. I think it was a Renault Clio or similar, but dude, it was a car. The three women who successfully did it then had a lift-off, with 10 kilo weight being chucked into the back of the car until finally with 60 extra kilos there was a winner.

The whole event was so inspiring. The patience and determination over time needed to be able to lift like that. The guts to take part with 150 people looking on. The way the competitors cheered each other on. Gold!

And of course I loved how they looked badass with their stripey socks and chalk dust. If you met them on the street you may not know about their secret strong superpowers, until you asked them to open a jar or they casually lifted you over their heads. Totally want to be like them some day!

PS I typed this myself! Sorry voice dictation fans! I’ve been doing an hour or so per day. Next up, lifting mugs of tea. Then a short leap to small vehicles? Look out!

 

Spot the monster

06/May/2014

loch-ness

Here I am again with another terrible voice dictation. It’s been nearly four weeks and I’m finding that the straight in English Australian English! is working better now, because the more cranky I get delivered I get with it, the more Aussie my voice becomes.

last week I didn’t manage to post, Jeanette kindly gave me free pass from our writing pact. I was feeling very thanks D thanks D ANGSTY and I didn’t want to leave a miserable post sitting up there all week. I nearly flaked out again tonight but Gareth centimetres now said to me just now, “five dollars US is almost 3 British pounds, I can’t believe you’re giving up so easily”.

Gareth parents are currently in town and tonight we went to the doors in. Dublin. fuck. DORES INN for dinner. Also known as home of the giant scones. 10 months on from her accident, Mary is doing brilliantly and getting ever stronger. And thus I resolve to be likewise. Pow!

I took the above photo at 9:08 PM. I know it looks kind of obnoxious when people put hashtag no filter on insta grand photos, but I just wanted to say that this one doesn’t have any filter because I’m really blown away by how beautiful lochness was, or nutshell. AU NATUREL.

Eleven. Eleven!

19/Apr/2014

Apple voice dictation

I think I have this voice recognition thing figured out now. I hadn’t noticed that you can change the language settings!

I had it on American English, which made me sound like a drunken lunatic. But thanks to Tamakikat‘s sage comment I discovered that you can download other languages. First I changed it to A stray Liam Australian English which worked a little better, but British English seems to be the most accurate.

For me anyway. It doesn’t like Gareth very much! We both read out this random paragraph from the guardian as an experiment:

Peter Moores has been given a second opportunity to coach England after his appointment was confirmed this morning. The 51-year-old Lancashire coach previously held the job between 2007 and 2009 but was dismissed after disappointing on-field results and a damaging personality clash with then captain Kevin Pietersen, who was also deposed.

My attempt:

Peter Moores has been given a second opportunity to coach England Archie’s appointment was confirmed this morning. The 51-year-old Lancashire coach previously held the job between 2000 and 70,009 that was dismissed after disciplining on film results and damaging personality clash within Capt Kevin Peterson who was also the post.

Disciplining on film! Ooh er.

Gareth’s attempt:

Universe has begun a second opportunity to put a wind that is appointment is confirmed this morning and 51 year old Lancashire Court juicy has adopted 2000 70,009 was dismissed after disappointing onto themselves and damaging personality clash with them Two Kevin Peterson result of the post.

I reckon Apple needs to fly a variety of Scots over to California and get working on this. You may recall that Siri cannae handle the accent either.

I kinda liked the surreal randomness of the American English dictations, maybe I’ll switch it back!

Diane, it’s 3pm

15/Apr/2014

This post is brought to you by Apple’s voice to text dictation thingy.

I had some surgery last week which I’ll write about soon. My left arm is out of action for a couple of weeks. I’m determined not to fail on my writing bet with Jimmy. No not Jimmy I said Jeanette. JENNETTE. But I’m rubbish at typing with one hand. So here I am yapping at the computer feeling like a twit.

It’s weird speaking out loud like this. I always thought I wrote microscope. No not microscope. Wrote like I spoke. It turns out my brain is better connected to my fingertips than it is to my mouth. I’m not feeling very articulate in this format! How did people dictate murders in the old days without feeling like like an idiot? Letters, not murders! I don’t think the computer likes my accent.

My sister is visiting for a few days. Later on she’s going to help me wash my hair which is totally hottie no grotty after a week of neglect. Das Gareth said he was unqualified in the field of hair washing. But he has been making great cups of tea. I’m bloody lucky and thankful for all the groovy people in my life and return the favour as soon as I can.

Net flicks update! I have been watching out of parts. No. House of cards. It’s a come down after Friday night lights, and there is nothing about any of the characters I can remotely warm to, but Kevin Stacey Stacey Stacey SPACEY and Robin Wright – ok how come it understands Robin Wright but not given Stacey, no Kevin Spacey? oh now you’ve got it – are such great actors and so beautiful to look at, that I’m hooked.

It’s taken me half an hour to write this dribble dribble dribble DR I VEL so I will spare you any further disjointed renting renting renting RANTING. Have a good week, good people!

Great Underwhelming Statues of the World

08/Apr/2014

They are iconic. They grace postcards and tea towels. They inspire poetry and plastic replicas. But in reality they’re just a little bit shithouse. When you get up close in person you can’t help thinking, “Is that it?”

Here are the Great Underwhelming Statues of the World I’ve been lucky enough to see…

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh
You know the story – John Gray dies and his faithful hound Bobby keeps vigil over his grave for fourteen years. When the hound died he was immortalised by this statue. He was only a wee dog and the statue is to scale so… hmmm.

Bobby & Mothership, 2004

Bobby & Mothership, 2004

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen
Anti-climax ahoy!

Little Mermaid

Ripped arf!

Manneken Pis, Brussels
I saw the Manneken Pis souvenirs before I saw the statue itself. Creepy chocolate ones, chess pieces; gigantic garden-gnomish replicas. I thought we were in for a mega statue with blush-worthy equipment. But we almost walked straight past it!

Manneken Pis

Where? Wha?

The Dog On The Tuckerbox, Gundagai, Australia.
Driving from Central West New South Wales to Melbourne takes about eight hours, which is equivalent to 125 hours if you’re under ten years old. The only thing that could hush the chorus of are we there yet are we there yet from the back seat was the promise of stopping at Gundagai to see the famed hound atop the lunchbox.

Such a thrill for a child after five hours cramped up with siblings and suitcases, to finally stop to eat a wilted Vegemite sandwich and gaze upon this masterpiece!

Pic from sydney-australia.biz

Pic from sydney-australia.biz

Do you have any must-see anti-climatic statues, folks? Would love to add more to the list.

Lady in grey

01/Apr/2014

The other day I was slapping some sunscreen on my face when a pair of furry EARS rose up from behind the mirror frame.

The tall mirror, unhung six months after moving in, was leaning against the side of the trusty brown IKEA Malm drawers. On top of the drawers was an open box of Dietgirl paperbacks that I’ve been meaning to deal with for some time. And on top of the Dietgirls sat the evil fluffy cat from next door.

Stink eye cat

He must have come in through the bathroom window and ducked upstairs when I wasn’t looking. He gave me a scornful look when I shrieked in surprise. Then he turned around and nestled back down into the box. I told him to rack off but he just hissed then purred aggressively. So I took a couple of photos, then he went to sleep for half an hour.

Then he woke up, gave me another “what are you looking at?” look before scuttling off downstairs and back out the window, leaving me the books with as much fluff outside as in.

Speaking of the Malm, I have developed a funereal clothing situation. Despite The Mothership’s investment in Getting My Colours Done, somehow over the past few years my wardrobe has reverted to dreary, prison-like shades. Navy, black, grey, brown.

It wasn’t a conscious thing, but now it is clear that as I went through that gloomy, gradual relardification period, I slowly replaced my colourfuls with Don’t Notice Me items. I didn’t clock how bad it had become until a few weeks ago, our friends visited and we all stayed at a pub for the night. The next morning I went to put on the grey top I’d packed, only to find it was actually grey tracky dacks, because I’d grabbed the wrong piece of blah from the Malm.

Also, I’m constantly losing items of clothing, because they all blur together in the drawer. It’s always a frenzy of cotton before my walks as I can never find The Black T-Shirt For Exercise as opposed to The Black T-Shirt For Leaving The House or The Black T-Shirt For Sleeping In. Made worse by having black IKEA Malm compartment thingies and a black laundry basket.

After the Grey Tracky Dacks incident I said to Gareth, “Have you noticed that my clothes are grim as fuck?”

And he said, “Oh yeah. You’re like one of those grannies in mourning.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“I thought maybe it was a look you were going for?”

Now that I’ve finally noticed the mourning wardrobe, it is bloody awful! At some point it must have been working for me – the outsides matched the insides. But it’s no longer where I’m at. I’m taking good care of myself; my health and fitness is back on track. Life is pretty cool! I can’t just go replace everything, so I’ve started by dusting off the bright lipsticks and scarves, and I bought a tomato red handbag on eBay that is pure JOY every time I look at it. Bring on the technicolor.

Gee, what colour trackies should we wear today!?

Gee, what colour trackies should we wear today!?

Barcelona, smoke and whisky

25/Mar/2014

Last week I was in Barcelona for an Up & Running workathon with Julia. As always Gareth sniffed, “Away on your holidays again, eh?” but right now we have a big project with a short deadline. When your business partner lives in Italy, no matter how brilliant Skype and Google Docs are, you need proper face time once or twice a year to get things zipping along. And some tapas. Tapas help the creative process.

churros

But before the work was the small matter of Julia running the Barcelona Marathon, along with two wonderful Up & Running alumni Paula G and Paula P. All three did brilliantly. As did the U&R cheer squad of Clare, Honor, Julia K, myself and Paula’s sister Adi. Julia K had brought pom poms all the way from Texas. Unlike the London marathon experience there was no scrambling for a “good spot”, but the small crowds mean we had to make a lot of noise to make up for it. With pom poms in hand, everything is worth celebrating. Go man with green tights! Go runner with tutu! Go pigeon crossing the street! Go abandoned water bottle on the ground!

paulas

It was so good to catch up with some of the U&R gang and witness the fitness.

hats

On Monday it was straight to work. We established a routine of 5.30am wakeup, walk, coffee then workathon! Barcelona is even more beautiful when the streets are empty.

rambla

By the time we left on Friday morning I felt calm and like we’d achieved a lot. Which was such great progress from the snivelling panicky mess I’d been a week earlier!

As much as I’d enjoyed the balmy Barcelona weather, seeing the Cairngorms from the plane felt like home…

plane

… as did the gloriously shithouse weather!

Welcome to Inverness

On Saturday I didn’t feel like returning to reality, so we went to Cromarty, a gorgeous historic village on the  tip of the Black Isle.

Cromarty lighthouse

It’s a great spot, and reminded me a bit of some of the coastal villages in Fife, except with better food. I’d been wanting to go to Sutor Creek Cafe as it boasts Britain’s most northerly wood fired pizza oven! But I saw someone eating this roast lamb roll when I walked in and got distracted. It was delicious, but I got totally pizza envy later on.

Gareth got a venison burger and was flummoxed by the fried egg on top. “It’s very Burger With The Lot” he said. But I could tell he enjoyed it. He would just never admit it!

Sutor Creek

The town is great for a wander. There was a great antique shop that The Mothership would have loved.

antiques

Praise be to the patron saint of healthy bowels.

regulus

Beautiful blue sky.

crow

On Sunday we were still in the mood for escaping reality so we pootled down to the Glen Grant distillery to get my Whisky Project back on track. I could not face one more bloody distillery tour, despite Gareth’s pleas, “But they have purifiers on the stills! It’s TOTALLY different!”. I took a long wander through Major Grant’s garden instead (and got really annoyed afterwards upon realising I’d left my Fitbit on my pyjamas! ARRGH!).

glen-grant

I joined the end of the tour to watch the magnificent educational video. Somehow it managed to be even more cheesetacular than the Ghost of Roderick Dhu. Major Grant sat by the fire and told us the history of his whisky empire, how he went to Africa and shot a lot of leopards and wildebeest and was a dab hand at salmon fishing, curling, “and other manly pursuits”.

I was trying to take a photo of the video screen without the tartan-trousered guide spotting me. I’d just focused on Major Grant’s gigantic moustache when he said the distillery had expanded so much they had to add “STEAM POWER!”. On those words, two big gusts of artificial smoke blasted out of the mantelpiece and sent myself, Gareth and the septuagenarian Californian couple into coughing fits. It was magic!

The whisky was delicious, too.

smoke

Up & Running March winners

06/Mar/2014

Before I get to the winners, would you get a load of our swanky brand new video? It explains in one minute flat, what Up & Running is all about. I can never quite capture the goodness in words, but the video really brings it together. Sniff sniff.

Thanks for all your giveaway comments. Not only were they excellent answers but I’ve got great fodder for the Netflix queue!

Here are the lucky winners as declared by the Random Number Generator:

  • Penelope – wants to go to Washington with the West Wing folks
  • Julie Earnshaw - “Bon Temps, Louisiana – because I’ve never seen a chubby vampire yet, and I’m certainly up for some shape shifting!”
  • Marion - is also a True Blood fan, and is going to have her way with Eric!
  • Lindsay - will be solving cases in the sun on CSI Miami.
  • Anna May - is off to Nashville to be an amazing country singer and “life would be fairly CountryTastic”
  • Angie - is off to Sunnydale. Buffy forever!

Congratulations, folks – I’ve emailed you with the details. Please get in touch ASAP to claim your prize.

If you missed out this time, there’s still time to tag along - courses start next week!

More of our fab emoticons by saralando.com

Newer Posts
Older Posts