Sterilised at 30 – part 3

On 28th October I sat in the waiting room of the Gynaecology department at my local hospital (alongside lots of pregnancy bellies) and I couldn’t sit still. I was incredibly nervous.I could feel my pulse pounding all over my body. My boyfriend of just over two years was sat next to me, holding my hand in one hand, and a book in another.

It didn’t take long for me to be called in for the initial weighing, height taking and blood pressure. All was normal (which is surprising, considering I normally have low blood pressure, but I put that down to the fact that I was feeling rather stressed in this instance!)

Then, I was ushered into another room. The lady asked me all sorts of personal questions about my menstrual cycle, my sex life and she asked me about the different contraception I’ve tried over the years.

I was quite surprised by the fact that she seemed shocked that my boyfriend of two years wasn’t keen on having a vasectomy – Apparently, when asking for a female sterilisation, the first thing they do is ask if your partner would be willing to undergo sterilisation instead (it’s less invasive than female sterilisation). The fact that he’s younger than me (only by 2 years, but still) and that we’re not yet married meant that I wasn’t willing to try and persuade my other half to make the life altering decision to undergo male sterilisation. After all, my quest to remain childfree has been MY quest since I was a young teenager. It’s not his responsibility or burden.

We moved on to discussing other reasons for sterilisation. As you are probably aware, I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type, which is a debilitating, degenerative and genetic connective tissue disorder. There have been reports (from specialists in the EDS field) that suggest a link between the Mirena Coil – which I currently have – and the worsening of EDS symptoms. I know for a fact that my EDS flares up during that time of the month and if I can have the option to go without any hormonal contraception, I would benefit from it; emotionally and physically. The lady doing my assessment was keen to refute the idea that the Coil could have any effect on my EDS but I held my ground. I made in clear that I wanted rid of all hormonal contraception, end of.

She then went to another room to discuss this with the Consultant. 5 minutes later, the consultant came in, shook my hand and said she understood that I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and asked me who else in my family has the condition. I explained that my sister and mother are both hypermobile, as were my Grandmas on both sides of my parents. She explained that she understood that EDS is an autosomal dominant condition and was happy to give me the go ahead for female sterilisation.

I couldn’t believe it, I grinned from ear to ear. I said thank you very much, and she left the room. It was then down to the other lady to go through all the paperwork with me and explain what’s going to happen next.

It was explained to me that there are some risks associated with a Tubal Occlusion and they are: possible perforating/damage to the inner organs during surgery, infection, failure rates and so on. I am due to undergo a Tubal Occlusion using the clipping method which has a failure rate of 1 in 200 which doesn’t sound too great, but as we all know, abstinence is the only way to stay 100% pregnancy free, unfortunately!

But, this was all worth it, to me. Knowing I won’t have any other hormones in my system other than my own, is worth the risk.

I signed the consent form there and then, and even underwent a surgical pre-assessment – bloods and a medical history were taken and I was told that as I don’t work, I may be asked to attend surgery at short notice, which is absolutely fine with me! The sooner the better really.

So that was my (surprisingly short and easy) experience with being referred to Gynaecology for female sterilisation.

I feel I must add my own thoughts.

Firstly, if there is anyone else out there that is young, childless and absolutely sure that they don’t want children and would like to be sterilised on the NHS, I would absolutely recommend talking to your GP about it. My own GP refused to refer me, so I got a second opinion from another GP who, when pressed, put me forward for it.

Unfortunately, with the country and the NHS in the state it’s in, we now have to fight for treatment. We have to put our case forward and fight to be taken seriously. But, the funding is out there for female sterilisation – you just have to make a case for yourself.

I went to my GP fully armed with information on the NICE guidelines for female sterilisation, articles on my genetic condition and articles on other young women being sterilised on the NHS. (If you’re not aware of a young woman named Holly Brockwell, look her up – she has been an inspiration to me, in my quest for sterilisation). Holly fought for four years to be sterilised on the NHS and she had never even had a coil fitted (unlike me, who had to undergo every type of contraception before being taken seriously!) so if Holly and I can be heard, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be heard too.

Being childfree is a choice that we all have a right to make. If you don’t want children, that’s entirely up to you and no one should make you feel bad for your own lifestyle choices. Be proud of the life you lead and stand by it. If you’re at all unsure and think you may want children someday…. sterilisation is definitely not for you. It’s a big decision that requires years of thought and you must be absolutely sure.

I’ve never been more sure.

Stay tuned; I will be updating this blog every step of the way and as soon as I get a surgery date, I will let you all know x

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Student, once again!

I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog post about the fact that I’m now a student (again!)

I am 5 weeks into a BA (Honours) History degree with the Open University and so far, it’s been great! I’m ahead in my studies and handed my first assignment (on Cleopatra and Cézanne!) with 16 days to spare. I figure even if I’m way off the point, the second assignment is a second go at the first assignment so all’s not lost!

This is my desk at the moment (borrowed laptop, antique dining chair!) and it’s not overly comfortable. Having a condition like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome means sitting is difficult, typing is painful and so is holding a book open! Thankfully the Open University have a great support team for disabled students and they sent me ring bound copies of the course texts so I don’t have to hold them open!

I’m also in the middle of applying for Disabled Student Allowance to hopefully get some dictation software, an ergonomic chair and some other things that will help me study more successfully while being disabled. 

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the Day School as I haven’t been given any funding for travel yet (hoping that DSA will cover this) but I did make it to a local tutorial which was nerve wracking but really interesting. I actually found myself answering all the questions the other students directed at our Tutor so I’m feeling like I’ve absorbed all the necessary information!

I will be writing updates on my studies as this is something that may interest other disabled people who would like to study but don’t know where to start! 

If you have any questions about being a disabled student, please do feel free to get in touch, I’d be happy to answer your questions! 

She Said Yes; Part Two – Sterilised at 30. 

Earlier in the year my own GP said “no chance” when I first inquired about being sterilised. I left it a good few months, booked an appointment with a lady GP who dealt with my Mirena Coil and broached the question with her. She was resistant at first but relented when I pressed the issue – that was on 7th October.

Today, I received a call from the Gynaecology department at my local hospital asking if I can be available in 10 days time for an appointment regarding female sterilisation! I am over the moon!

Because this issue seems to be quite a taboo subject (and a growing number of women are choosing the childfree life) I have decided to document my experience of being sterilised at 30, so that it may give other young women the courage to stand up for what they want in life. It isn’t anyone else’s job to tell you whether or not you want kids, nor that you should live your life having to constantly worry about falling pregnant by accident because for people like me, who are sure about who they are and what they want, there ARE options to make sure we never get pregnant, full stop.

Follow me and follow my quest to be childfree and fabulous!

She said yes!!!

No, this isn’t an engagement announcement, before you get excited… This is a ‘my doctor said yes to putting me forward for female sterilisation’ announcement.

Let me start by explaining how much I do not want children…

I started life like a normal little girl; I loved playing with dolls and pushchairs, I loved playing family with my collection of Barbie and Ken dolls and I had already named my little girl ‘Pansy’ that I was going to have with my first boyfriend at the age of five –  Ryan Bass – Yes, Pansy Bass, that poor imaginary child, I am so sorry.

It wasn’t until after I hit puberty did I really consider having children. It wasn’t something I thought about at all, in any serious way. This carried on until I was around 23 and in my first sexual relationship. I have always been firmly on the ‘pro-choice’ camp but my boyfriend at the time was ‘pro-life’ which, now I look back, is another reason why I’m so thankful I didn’t have to deal with any pregnancies while with this Manchild.

My situation hasn’t altered much in the last 7 years since that relationship ended, in terms of where I live (still with my parents) and I’m no longer able to work, but I am in a long term relationship with a man; a man who teaches children for a living.

One of the first cards I threw on the table during our first date was that I didn’t want children and that it was non-negotiable. Thankfully for me, he was okay with that and he said he’s not fussed about having children either way.

In the back of my mind, I do worry sometimes that my complete lack of maternal instinct will someday impact on my partner’s ‘not so bothered’ status – I absolutely, utterly, do not want to force this lifestyle upon anyone and my choice not to have children is mine alone. I am unwilling to be responsible for any regret someone may have who ‘wasn’t quite sure’ later down the line if/when they then watch their friends have children and wish they had that too.  You simply cannot read people’s minds, no matter how hard you try, so a huge amount of faith and trust goes into a relationship, which isn’t easy!

You may have read previously that I have an inherited connective tissue disorder – possibly from both sides of my parents. It has impacted my life in a huge way and has changed my entire life’s plan more than once. The only time when me and my illness see eye to eye is when we talk about having children (or not!)

My body does not want to carry children, it has made that clear – it can barely carry itself, let alone an 8lb baby. I do not need to go into detail as to how my condition affects me, but I will say that I wouldn’t want to pass this condition on. It’s a horrible illness and I am not prepared to be responsible for a person with a lifelong illness, as horrible as that sounds.
I may get some responses of protest to that statement, but I honestly do not care what anyone else thinks about my view on disability. As someone who is herself disabled, I believe I am more than entitled to have this view on it.

I’ve written previously about my love of sex, travel and antiques and I stand by it. I am thirty years old. Next year, I plan to buy a house with my partner. We plan on travelling all over the world (if we can afford to save enough, whilst paying a mortgage on one salary!) and we like expensive furnishings. We can afford to be self-indulgent and selfish and I want to keep it that way. I love my life the way it is.

To me, having children is like a ball and chain. I personally don’t see any attraction in becoming a Mum. The lifestyle of parenting looks like hard work, that goes unpaid. I do not have a maternal instinct so the ‘love’ I’d feel wouldn’t outweigh all the negatives; the tiredness, the wailing new-born at 4 in the morning, the toilet training, the babyproofing… the list is endless.

My slightly older sister (by 3 years) has an 18 month old. I love him to bits; he’s hilarious and cute at the same time. I’m very much a proud aunt. But, I see what my sister has to go through every day and I thank my lucky stars I’m as free as a bird and I have no responsibilities other than washing my clothes and paying my £10 a month phone bill.

Earlier this year I spoke to my GP about being sterilised on the NHS and the first thing he said was ‘no chance’ because the CGC or whoever simply wouldn’t consider it; I’m too young blah blah blah. I went home with my tail between my legs and felt rather deflated.

I told myself, I’ll leave it for a few months, then try a different doctor; a lady one, hoping she’d understand more, being a woman herself.

As soon as we sat down, I started explaining about how my coil isn’t working for me and I’d like to explore more permanent options. I mentioned permanent sterilisation and she started talking about how often young women come and say they want to be sterilised and then they come back crying saying they want to be able to have a baby at 35.

I looked her in the eye and said I’m not one of those women. I haven’t wanted children since I was 16 and that hasn’t changed and it won’t ever change. She said to me that she could say yes on the spot… as if trying to call my bluff and I said ‘why don’t you?’, she looked at me blankly, paused, and then said ‘okay then, I will say yes, if that’s what you want’. I replied ‘Oh my God, really? Yes, please, I definitely want that’ and that was that. She briefly mentioned having to get funding for it, which I know will be the next hurdle.

But, in the end… she said yes and I couldn’t be happier.

Stuff… So much stuff!

I’ve previously posted about how my partner and I are currently saving for a deposit on a house. In the meantime, I’ve decided to rid myself of all the horrible, tacky Ikea furniture I have (tallboy chest of drawers and a wardrobe) in favour of some real, antique non-flat pack furniture.

We’ve decided on the Victorian era with regards to wardrobes and chests of drawers and gothic revival slash arts and crafts for our bed and other items of furniture (jardiniere stands and such) and we’re now scouring the country for bits of furniture we can actually afford.

Unfortunately for me, I currently live in a terraced 3 bed house built in the 1970s so it isn’t blessed with the Victorian treatment in ceiling height and room size. I’ve just found out that the tall boy chest of drawers I’ve fallen in love with won’t in fact,  fit up the stairs in my parents house where I’m currently residing (we can tell by looking, even without the Ross from Friends’ “PIVOT…. PIVOT…..”)

To say I’m gutted would be an understatement.

So, it’s back to the drawing board and I’m now left with a large hole where my hideous Ikea chest of drawers sat until 2 days ago when I sold them on a facebook group to a very happy lady. If I could find a Scottish Victorian chest of drawers that will fit up the stairs and round a corner, you’ll be the first to know!

Planning for the future also puts into question your past. At least, in my case, my past that is currently sat in multiple vintage suitcases on top of (previously stated) hideous Ikea wardrobe. I have collections of CDs from when I was 17 and a member of the band HIM’s street team; I have all the Ozzy and Sabbath CDs I collected in my youth, I have memories in the form of STUFF – so much stuff and so many memories.

But what do you do with all those memories? My loft (or rather, my parents’ loft, which I have temporarily commandeered) is chock full of memories too – my rail of 1940s and 1950s clothing that I will never get rid of, 1950s furniture that I loved and now hate and can’t shift, suitcases full of winter clothes/summer clothes depending on the season and even more mementos all tucked up in various sized boxes…

You know the things… the keyrings you bought on a trip to the seaside with your best mate from high school, and the coat you wore at your fattest (yes, I do still have my ‘fat coat’) and the clothing you used to wear but don’t so much any more, but still won’t throw out because you might some day…

I’m now facing a rather hard decision about what will go and what will stay. I simply cannot keep it all, I simply don’t have the room.

How do you know which mementos to keep and which ones to throw away?

 

 

Waiting, waiting, forever waiting

I feel like I’ve been waiting for something my entire life; waiting for an appointment, waiting for painkillers to kick in, waiting for the side effects to wear off…

We spend our whole lives waiting for things, but it never gets any easier, does it?

Some people are fantastic ‘waiters’ – they could wait patiently for hours, days, weeks or months for something they really want and are happy to wait. Others are impatient and they want it now. Instant gratification and all that.

What’s worse, is being one of those people who has waited, patiently, dutifully to oneself because they know the wait is worth it, but at the same time being one of those types of people who hates waiting and wants it  when they want it.

In this instance, I’m talking about waiting and love.

As a teenager, I was awkward, geeky and plump. I wasn’t holding the reins when it came to puberty and I wasn’t exactly admired (at least to my knowledge) by the boys. Everyone around me seemed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend or had at least, ‘snogged’ nearly everyone in our friendship group. I was always on the perimeter, watching, listening to their stories and the gossip about who snogged who at the last house party.

There, I remained on the outskirts of ‘love’ or at least, affection. I was waiting patiently for my turn – my turn to be admired by the opposite sex and waiting for someone to like me back. I spent most of my teenage years yearning for a male friend who I thought was beyond handsome and funny and so charismatic. If there was such a thing as the “friend zone” back then, I was definitely firmly in it. Every girlfriend he had, I hated. It tore me up. For years, I yearned for him, waiting for him to finally see me in the same way he saw the other girls in my year. It never happened.

I waited until I was nearly 17 for my first kiss. I won’t say much about it, other than it wasn’t with a particularly skilled gentleman and it was such a traumatic experience, I ended up waiting many years after to build up the courage to kiss another frog.

I’d gotten so used to waiting, that I made a name for myself. I entered college at 19 and became friends with a small group of girls a few years younger than me. I would be introduced on nights out to guys in the local nightclubs and bars as the Virgin of the group. Being known as a 23 year old virgin never bothered me, but I would cry myself to sleep every night feeling unloved and for being untouched by a man and the pain of having to wait for so long to have what everyone else was having.

My talent for waiting didn’t end there. I finally lost my virginal status at the ripe old age of 23 because I had stubbornly decided to wait for the right guy to be my first proper boyfriend. I was waiting for something that not many people I know had waited for – maturity, a sense of self worth and confidence. I wanted to be happy in myself before I gave myself to another and by then patience was definitely my forte. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and a year later, absolutely heartbroken, I knew I needed to take the time to reacquaint myself yet again with patience.

Well, I’m definitely not 24 any more and interestingly, the older I get the more I lose my ability to wait; to be patient. I feel like I’ve spent so many years of my life waiting to be happy, or waiting for someone to love me… that now I have all that, I want to stop waiting and live my life. I put my love life on hold when I was younger because I wasn’t happy with myself… I changed what I wasn’t happy with and I no longer ‘had’ to wait.

The hardest lesson I’m learning right now, at the age of thirty, is yet again – patience.

Two years ago, I met a beautiful man with long blonde hair, a pretty face and a wonderful soul. Amazingly, he fell in love with me and I with him. Unfortunately for us (and unlike our peers) we don’t come from monied backgrounds and so we’re having to save up to move in together. We both decided after just 6 months or so of being together that we wanted to live with each other, and so we began collecting things for our house. We have tea towels and mugs. We have cutlery and pots and pans. We have a bed and a coffee table. We have lamps and light fittings. But we don’t have a home… yet.

It’s horrible isn’t it… the more you want something to happen, the harder it is to wait for it. I’m so tired of waiting. I feel like I’m being tested constantly and I don’t know why or by whom but I do. I feel like I became such an expert at being patient, that someone is now laughing at me, making me wait once more, purely for their amusement.

I don’t know how long it will be before we can move in together. I don’t know how many more Sunday nights I will cry myself to sleep because he’s not there. All I know is that I don’t want to wait any more. I am sick and tired of waiting, always waiting. I can see our life together in my mind and it looks wonderful. Just how long I’m going to have to wait, is yet another question that will remain unanswered. For now.

Yours Patiently,

Beth Von Black.

 

 

The house we don’t have yet. 

My partner and I have been planning on living together from around 4 months of being together. We decided very early on that we were serious about each other and from then on, we’ve been collecting things for the house we don’t have yet. 

To say we’re an unusual couple would be a slight understatement. I am what most people would call a ‘goth’ or ‘greebo’ and my boyfriend also has an alternative look; long blonde hair, beard and rarely without a metal tshirt on. 

Living as a couple has been our plan pretty much from the start and it’s been a wonderful experience over the past two years collecting things for our home to be. We both decided that we didn’t want a flat-packed home from IKEA or Argos. We are passionate about old things, antique furniture and things that have held the test of time. 

We bought a gothic revival Victorian octagonal table and drove many many miles to the Peak District to pick it up. We bought a beautiful black Victorian dresser from a man whose wife wanted more modern furniture (thank you very much!) and we have a writing desk and wall mirror to match. 

Our latest purchases were a French ecclesiastical antique candle stick and a wonderful planter that I’m now looking for a stand to put it on! 


We’re definitely going down the Victorian route with our decor. Think, dark coloured walls, dark furniture and lots of candlesticks. I’ve been obsessed with taxidermy and curios since childhood so it was a huge relief to have a partner who also doesn’t hate my love for the macabre. 

At the moment, because of the planter we’ve just found, I’m in the middle of researching which house plants I’m least likely to kill and which house plants were most popular during the Victorian times. I’ve settled on a Boston Fern for the planter above. I love ferns. 

Here are some more images of things we’ve bought for The House We Don’t Have Yet. 

New Project; Handmade Scented Soy Candles by Von Black

When I was around 16 my Dad helped me to make some candles. It was a fun little project we did together; we shopped in charity shops for loads of pretty glasses, used turkish coffee jugs to melt the wax and they ended up looking pretty fantastic!

So, with my little bit of candle making experience, I’ve decided to give it another go – this time, with a little bit more finesse. I’m stocking up on some very interesting essential oils and I hope to create a small batch of handmade, scented soy candles with a dark edge to them. I am so excited to get started on my next project… Watch this space.

Paris, Prague and Budapest

As I’ve posted before, my partner and I are keen travellers. We’re both extremely inquisitive people and we both share a love of seeing what the world has to offer.

In March this year, we went on a 6 day jaunt across Europe. We decided to visit three countries and spend 2 days in each country. 

First, we got the Eurostar from London to Paris. We stayed right by the Gare Du Nord as I needed to walk as little as possible. We visited the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame cathedral on Easter Sunday and queued for HOURS to see the Paris Catacombs…


Here are the Paris Catacombs


Notre Dame Cathedral


We then flew from Charles de Gaulle airport to Prague airport. We stayed at the 4 star Hotel Yasmin in Prague. It was beautiful and the best breakfast I have ever had! We booked a taxi into the old town and had a mooch around. I found this amazing little bric-a-brac shop and if I had more space in our suitcase I would’ve easily spent a small fortune in there! It absolutely threw it out with rain while we were in the old town so we jumped into a doorway to find it was the entrance to a museum of medieval tortue, so of course we had to go in!


Prague was sensationally beautiful. We most definitely want to go back and stay nearer the old town as there was so much to look at and so little time to do so. I watched a documentary years ago about an ossuary in Prague and ever since then, it has been on my bucket list. Knowing this, my partner took us on the train out of Prague and towards a town called Kostnice to visit Sedlec Ossuary.

After 2 days in Prague we packed up and flew to Budapest. We stayed in a rather grand looking Novotel Centrum. 

We found the most amazingly hipster restaurant in the Jewish quarter in Budapest. It had a library! And served the most beautiful Hungarian wine called Bull’s Blood. Divine. 

I feel I need to describe how difficult it was for me, physically. I’ve written before about having Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome so I hope by now you’re not surprised when I say this holiday really took it out of me! We stayed two days I each country so I could sleep and rest on the second day. The pain rehab would call this ‘boom and bust’ but I call this ‘real life’. 

There is no real way you can pace yourself on holiday like this. We made sure I had a box full of painkillers and heat pads and I travelled with all my splints and walking stick. I sat down on anything and everything I could put my butt on and went to bed early every night. I took a nearly an entire week of rest to recover from the travelling (well, as much as I recover anyway!). 

This is the only way I’ve found works. Others may pace themselves or go on beach holidays but I refuse to. Firstly, I hate the sun (don’t like being tanned) and it makes my POTS worse. European breaks are ideal in terms of short flights and semi-decent weather. 

Our next trip is in December when we fly to Basel in Switzerland then two days later we fly to Freiburg in Germany. It will be snowy, wintry and Christmas markets galore! I cannot wait! 

I made this…

A few weeks ago, my partner and I signed up to an adult education 1 day course in Stained Glass making. We’re quite a creative couple and are always looking for things we can do together. This one day stained glass course was a no brainer – we both adore churches and cathedrals, especially for their incredible stained glass windows. So, we thought we’d have a go at creating something of our own!

I was quite nervous when we got to the adult learning centre. It all seemed quite daunting looking at all the tools and equipment laid out before us.

The tutor started by explaining the difference between different types of glass, cutting, staining, painted glass etc. Then we went through the usual ‘elf n safety stuff and we got on with our creation.

I have to say, I really struggled cutting the glass. My hands aren’t very strong at all and I suffer with chronic and acute pain in my fingers and wrists. You do have to press really quite hard and keep it smooth at the same time using a glass cutter like this one:

toyo-tc10p-glass-cutter-1.jpg

I don’t think I’d recommend glass cutting to someone who struggles with their hands! I shan’t be making any more stained glass panels, I don’t think.

Anyway, we cut the lead came (the silvery metal stuff that hold the glass in place) and placed it all together ready for soldering.

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An example of soldering Image taken from search engine

Soldering looks easy, but is actually an art in itself. It is so easy to make it look awful, as I found out. I’m hoping I can file it down a little, polish or paint it up and hide some of my awful soldering, but anyway…

I made this!

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