Tuesday, 7 November 2017

If You Wear Contact Lenses You Need To Read This!

This is a cautionary tale about the over wearing of contact lenses.

Now just to be clear this isn't a lecture this is an experience we went through recently that will forever be a lesson to us and anyone we know who wears contacts.

Laura and I both wear contact lenses. We have both over worn contact lenses. We've slept with them in, gone days without taking them out and never quite known when our month runs out for our monthly. In all honesty we broken all the rules.

Or should I say we did we in the past.

Earlier this year I had an eye infection that would not ease up. I took my contacts out and wore glasses for over week and nothing eased it. It wasn't until I got medicated eye drops and had another week wearing glasses that things started to improve. It scared me enough to make sure I take my contacts out every night and thoroughly wash the container. Thankfully I haven't suffered since.

Then I came across this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5033087/Why-NEVER-wear-contact-lenses-shower.html and it scared the life out of me so much that I forwarded it to Laura. Now the content of this is unpleasant! And I'm not sure how you shower without contacts if you are blind....I mean leg shaving requires sight! Nevertheless it is worth a read.

Anyway the article prompted an immediate reaction from Laura and her contacts that had been in for a week came out that evening.

A week of wearing glasses and Laura was ready to get her contacts back in - anyone else suffer with heavy glasses after a while?! Or start to miss peripheral vision?! It was Sunday morning and we were heading out for a dog walk with friends. On the drive over to the walk Laura started saying her contacts seemed cloudy - strange but not unusual, I thankfully had some contact lens solution and suggested rinsing them.

It made no difference and within the half an hour drive Laura's sight had become completely cloudy even without contacts. We were freaked but thought the fresh air might make a difference.

It didn't!

Some 3 hours later nothing was making a difference. The contacts were out and glasses back on but the vision was like being in a smokey kitchen. We rang 111 (UK non emergency healthcare line) and ran through the symptoms. They asked Laura to touch her chin to her chest, and if there was dizziness or blurriness, nothing gave them a clear indication of the problem and we told to get to A&E ASAP. In fact if I wasn't around they would have sent an ambulance.

We were freaked.

Arriving at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth hospital we headed into A&E and were greeted with a fairly empty waiting room. A doctor saw us within 40 minutes. Great we thought until all his eye tests proved inconclusive. He seemed more concerned about figuring out if the eyesight was deteriorating than addressing the cloudiness. We sat patiently as he called the Birmingham eye hospital and asked for their thoughts. The conclusion was that they needed to see her.

It was almost 9pm by this point and we got the car out of the £4.70 (how do hospitals get away with such rip off charges!!!!) car park and drove the 3 miles to the central Birmingham hospital. Our instructions were clear - check in at A&E and ask to be directed to the eye department.

On arrival a mentally disabled vulnerable adult was mid fist fight with a nurse (they really are heroes) and we stood patiently by waiting for our chance to cross and check in. From there we had more instructions.....to get to the eye department go down the long corridor, turn left, through the double doors, past the cash machine, take the exit doors to the right and cross the car park towards the red building!! Simple. Actually hell no! That car park was massive. There were no obviously red buildings at 9.30pm and no signs. The main path wound past bins and piled rubbished and ended in a yard. There were dozens of pathways and no obvious choices. We ended up in a delivery area. We found abandoned buildings. Buildings in complete darkness and just when we were giving up hope a small building with lights on in the far distance. That was the eye department. We had walked for 20 minutes!

We were seen as soon as we walked in and the Doctor was reassuring from the off. Sight was perfect - check. No obvious signs of degenerative disease - check. Macular degeneration stable (remember that story about Laura's eye developing a hole? It's here)- check.

A few tests more and a conclusion was given. Overuse of contacts has dried Laura's eyes so much that when she put her contacts in after a week they burnt the surface of her eye! THEY BURNT THE SURFACE! That cloudy/burnt kitchen was burnt eyeballs. There is no reason why it happened at that exact moment, it could have been the case the contact had been stored in wasn't clean. It could have been something on the lenses. It could have been bad luck. One thing was clear though, over wearing contacts dries out your eyes and leaves them susceptible to this. No matter how long you take them out for to give them a rest. It's all about how dry your eyes are.

It's 2 days later and the cloudiness has subsided, thankfully. Laura was prescribed lubricant drops that she finds eases the dryness and glasses are on for at least a week.

It was a horrible, horrible, frightening lesson but one that has made sure we will never take wearing contacts for granted again.

And nice to see hospitals embracing the gender neutral bathroom approach!

Friday, 3 November 2017

National Jigsaw Day!

That's right you read it right....it's National Jigsaw Day!

The 3rd of November is a day that all jigsaw fans, young and old can come together to celebrate the past time of many that is rarely discussed - or celebrated!

The 2017 Jigsaw Day Jigsaw Party is hosted by Wentworth Wooden Puzzles who you can find out about here. The party starts at 1pm on Twitter you just need to find @WentworthPuzzle to join in. Oh and hashtag for the party will be #NationalJigsawDay

If you, or a loved one, enjoy puzzles it's worth checking out as the hour long party will include giving away spot prizes and limited edition National Jigsaw Day puzzles. All you have to do is join in - simples! Even Radio 2 are getting involved....

This will be the second year of celebrating all things jigsaw (and not the scary horror movie version). We are talking about puzzles, the nice peaceful past time that you used to do as a kid and gradually find yourself doing more and more as you get older. Even in a world of online games, brain training and puzzles there there is something relaxing about switching off technology and completing an actual puzzle. We often do it on holiday and love when an AirBnB we stay at has their own selection.

The strange thing is as a kid I used to be very particular about my puzzles - I had to complete them alone. Piece together the outside then work in. Help was a distraction and I wouldn't move until it was complete. Nowadays though jigsaws are an activity I enjoy with Laura. We both use the method of 'getting the edge first' which means I find it less confrontational.

To help us get involved this year Wentworth have kindly sent us a limited edition jigsaw that I'll be trying to complete during the party and they have kindly offered to give one away to one of our lucky readers.

So if you used to love jigsaws but it's been a while or you're an avid jigsaw completer let us know in the comments, on Twitter @SarahplusLaura or on Facebook @SarahplusLaura and we will put your name in the draw to receive your very own puzzle!

Even if you don't win check out Wentworth wooden puzzles - they make a great gift and count as brain training so are perfect for any age. Plus there jigsaws range from 25 pieces to 1500 so you can be a beginner or hardcore veteran there's something for everyone!

Happy National Jigsaw Day

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Is Halloween Overrated?

So before we race of and start getting all festive-y I thought I would take a quick moment to ask a big question..... Is Halloween Overrated?

Here in the UK Halloween has historically been about dressing up as a kid usually in something scary and maybe knocking on a few people's door when trick or treating. It was never a major holiday. No-one ever decorated their house unless it was for a party.

Fast forward 20 years and Halloween has become so much more, well for me. We can blame the Americans, I blame my American, we can blame commercialism or we could just accept that people love the opportunity to dress up and Halloween is the perfect excuse.

Over the years this blog has featured many of our Halloween celebrations. A lot have included a night at the Rocky Horror Picture show but more recently it has involved family costumes. The change happening when we bought our house and could actually decorate and welcome trick or treaters.
This years Rocky Horror Picture Show outfits!
As with most things I took some convincing on Halloween. I'm not a fan of scary things and I used to prefer to turn off the lights and wait out the trick or treaters rather than encourage them. But then I realised it was me missing out in that situation. I was the one wasting an evening avoiding Halloween.

The first time I embraced Halloween as an adult was at Uni. Thankfully there are no photos in existence but I can guarantee 'scary' and 'not wearing much' would have both featured. Ah the shame!

Then when I moved to London, just before Halloween, it seemed like a great theme for a housewarming party. The only challenge was with everyone fully embracing the dress up, my 3 housemates and I had no idea who people were and it turned out by the height of the night we had a ton of strangers as well as friends. Thankfully we and the flat survived!

That year was the year I met Laura. We had just started working together and Halloween was some of our first pictures together. I should have sensed then that Halloween was going to be something I celebrated every year!

It's fair to say that we have celebrated Halloween in some way every year. Even our low key Halloween nights involve a fully decorated outside - complete with spider webs on the bushes and purple covers on the lights. For added scariness this is also scary music playing when the door opens.

Laura's proudest Halloween achievement is that in 3 years we have gone from being the only decorated house to now being one of 5 - all because of her :)

Last night we had a record 100 pieces of candy and we still ran out! That's 3 years in a row we have had to put out a sign saying 'Sorry we have run out of candy'. That also involves giving away our favourite pieces that we save till the end in the hope that we get to eat them :)

This year was fairly low key though, well for us.

Previous years Laura had baked for work and held party games, see the outcome here and here.

Or there was the year we bought Paul the Pumpkin into the world and spent the entire evening making him do things pumpkins shouldn't do! Check out the photo shoot here.

A personal highlight of that night
Last year studies by Mintel showed that spend in Britain now hits £300 million on Halloween! With 40% of adults saying they would do something for Halloween. That is a significant increase from the previous year in a trend that is set to grow.

So whether you are a Halloween lover or hater one thing is clear - it's only getting bigger! If you think it's overrated now, prepare yourself it's only getting spookier!

I've accepted it for all the joy it can bring. Seeing kids faces when Bisbee shows up in her outfit, the sheer confusion on their faces when Laura asks who they are dressed as (either it should be obvious or their parents have just chosen a random outfit and they genuinely have no clue), the fear and anticipation of the first trick or treater. Laura's always convinced it's going to be teenage boys, it never has been. Laura's strict 'TAKE ONE' rule that I find so awkward (it's being British I think) but if she didn't do it we'd run out far sooner so I know it needs to be done.

It's a shame Halloween is but once a year!