Need for Speed...Not my Most Wanted

As someone who doesn't really buy that many games in a year, I tend to think about my purchases carefully, or at the very least buy it if its popular with Frugal Gaming.  However this game was slightly different.

I really enjoyed playing NFS:HP. It was a game where, even with my poor driving skills, you still had a chance.  I should maybe have looked more into it but lots of my gaming buddies were buying it so it was a bit of an impulse buy.

A year on

Last night I was using my phone to take notes for Christmas presents for Susan.  I was skimming through my previous notes and I found one that was 358 days old.  It was a list of symptoms I was feeling around this time last year and the notes were for me to take to the doctors.

The note consisted of weakness, passing out, hip pain, unable to stand straight, tiredness and a weird one, my left hand being itchy.  So around a year has passed since then, so how are my symptoms now.  

Well the weakness is not so bad, I am by no mean strong but I at least have the strength to lift the boys.  

Passing out, this was a big one.  I used to pass out on a semi regular basis.  Nothing major but enough for me to be on the ground for a minute or so.  This no longer happens, at least I can't remember the last time it did.  

Hip pain, to be honest I don't think this will ever "go away".  I will be able to manage it but never get rid of it.  I have blogged about this before.  I have been on 2 different sets of pain killers. Gabapentin and pregabalin.  Both these had side effects that made me want to stop taking them.  Gabapentin caused hostility as the doctor put it and pregabalin made my weight balloon.  As you will see here I have a different way of coping with my hip pain now.  As the pain in my hip was the reason I couldn't really stand straight, this has also been managed better.

Tiredness will be something I will have to deal with forever I guess.  Some days I can't walk up my stairs and sometimes I am almost "normal".  I just need to know my limitations.  In general I am OK with this, although sometimes I find it tough that I can do things one week but then not the other.  However when I look at the recovery time I have to get back to a functioning state then that's what makes me realise that I need to be sensible.

So this is an update 1 year on.  I think I am in a better place than this time last year, both physically and mentally.  As always Susan has always been there for me whenever I am at a low and drags me back up when I need it.  My family and friends have also got a bit better understanding of how I am so I am also thankful of that.  Finally my work.  They have been understanding since day one.  I remember when I came back from the doctors last year and being told I had to rest when I needed it.  I explained this to my boss and he told me to do whatever I had to.  I'm allowed the flexibility to work from home if I have to and also give me a little bit of leeway when my brain is a bit scattered

Mmmmmm Pizza

It is the school October week in Scotland at the moment.  Although I am swamped under at work, I wanted to take a day off to spend time as a family.  Over the last few weekends and the next few coming up I have been working so I haven't spent that much time as a family.  Our plan was to take the boys to the cinema, visit the New Toys R Us that has opened and then maybe to go out for some dinner.

As some of you may know, for the last couple of years I have been on a Gluten Free diet to help with my M.E.  This can make eating out a little bit of a gamble at times.  We tend to stick to the same places, with me getting the same meals as I know they are safe.  Almost without fail, when we drive past Pizza Hut, the children always ask if they can go there for dinner.  We then have to explain that daddy can't eat anything from there and one day mummy will take them there.  Most of the time they understand, Lucas especially.  Who now asks if everything that I eat is Gluten free.

Well it was brought to my attention a couple of weeks back that Pizza Hut have started to do a Gluten Free pizza base.  Pizza is the one thing that I have truly missed.  I have had substitutes from various places but have to admit that they all lack something.  The base is always crunchy and a little hard.  Well this was the chance to try it out.

So as to avoid disappointment to the kids, I called ahead to see if the local Pizza Hut had GF bases.  I was assured that they did so dinner at Pizza Hut was on.  Before this we had a trip to Toys R Us to do, the boys obviously loved this but all I could think about was pizza.  So having spent the best part of 90 minutes making a list for Santa in Toys R Us it was time to go for dinner.  We then told the boys we were going to get pizza, they were excited about this and Lucas asked if it was now Gluten Free?  I told him it was and he gave me a big hug.

We arrived at the restaurant and given a booth to sit in, this was ideal as both boys wanted to sit beside me.  I then asked to double check that they had the GF bases, "yes we do" was the answer.  The server then went on to explain that they have adapted various things and if I decided what I wanted, she would double check to make sure that they were GF. It has been over 2 years so my knowledge on Pizza Hut was at a low but I quick skim through the menu and it came flooding back.  A meat feast for me, but wait it has a bbq sauce.  When we were asked about our order I asked the girl about the sauce, so she went and checked and to my surprise, came back to tell me it was also GF.  I was so excited, like the kids were in Toys r Us earlier.  So we ordered, helped the boys fill in there we quiz books and then the pizza's arrived.

Well as you can see for yourself, its square.  Not to worry its pizza right? Does it matter if its round, square or triangular?  At around this point, this is when I am usually let down.  The cheese and the toppings can't mask the crunchy and hard base, why would Pizza Hut be any different?  Well they were different, I am not sure how they managed it but the base actually tasted like a thin Italian base.  Susan had to tell me to slow down as I was eating like I had never been fed but it was so tasty.  I have also attached the picture of my plate at the end, pizza demolished.

At the end of the meal, the waitress came over and asked how I had found out about the GF bases.  I explained that I had found out through Twitter and that on an initial search of the web didn't show up very much.  I think that Pizza Hut could market this more and not leave it to like of Coeliac association and bloggers to market it for them.

Anyway, pizza was excellent and I will definitely be back again (and again and again).  Now if only they would do stuffed crust...

Forcing a social situation...

On Saturday I went to play poker with some old friends from school.  To be honest I was not up for it one bit.  Over the last month or so I have not been feeling at my best.  I think I can trace it down to being because I ate some wheat but to be honest it was now that long ago I am not sure.

Anyway, I have played poker with this crowd in the past and I have to admit it is maybe one of the funniest nights I have.  We meet up every 3 months or so and its good catchup and also some stories thrown in from the past.  All in all it is good fun and often aided with some alcohol.  As I wasn't feeling great I decided that I would just take the car.  I told everyone in advance that I was driving and that I wasn't feeling well.

I don't keep my illness a secret but I also don't use it as an excuse either.  Saturday was interesting to see the different levels of peoples understanding of what was actually wrong with me.  A few understood the basics, a couple seemed to understand a little more and then there was one that didn't have any real clue.  Every person there asked how I was, asked how I was feeling and seemed to appreciate that I had made the effort to go.  I was explaining to the group in general how I had struggled to get up the stairs the other week to which I was asked "How come you can play 5's then?".  Its a legitimate question I suppose, I explained that I can only play 5s when I am well, I then went on to explain the illness like a rechargeable battery.

I have to admit that there was another motive for me going.  People generally only see me when I am well, they don't see me the days when I can't concentrate, in real pain and can't get up stairs.  On Saturday I was in between these stages.  I wanted to go as I don't like letting people down but I also wanted people to see me when I am not at my best.  There may be times in the future when I will need to pull out of these types of social gatherings and I think it helps when people see me not at my best.  Also winning helps

A real pain meds alternative

Back when I first got diagnosed as having M.E. you might recall that I was worried that I would be on pain meds for the rest of my life.  If not then the post is here.

Over the few years I have learnt to accept that I will be on pain meds for a long time.  However one of the side effects of Gabopentin was hostility.  Now, to be honest, I am now renowned for my tolerance at the best of time but this was unbelievable.  My aggression level was at about 8 out of 10 and that was just when I got up in the morning.  Unfortunately it was the people that I cared about the most that were at the wrong end of my moods.  I went to the doctors and explained my symptoms.  My medication was then changed to Pregabalin.  Within a week I could really notice the difference, my mood was more upbeat and I was becoming more tolerant of the misbehaving children.  All was good, or so I thought.  Over the next few months, I began to notice that I was gaining weight.  I initially thought nothing of it.  It was Christmas time and then January is full of birthday takeaways.

As some of you will know, there used to be a whole lot more of me than there is now.  I have always been determined that I would never gain weight like that again, so I watched my calories for a few weeks.  My calorie intake was around 1800 but each week I was still gaining weight.  It had got to the stage when I had been on the tablet for around 12 weeks and I had gained 16lbs.  So another visit to the docs.  This visit was basically explained to me that weight gain is a side effect but you need to pick 1 of the 2 tablets you have been on.  I was given 1/2 strength tablets to try and reduce my intake to find a level that was right for the pain that I had.

Now I was thinking about alternatives.  Susan had always been suggesting that I should look more into alternatives but I wasn't so sure.  I have always believed in the wonders of modern medicine.  If there is a tablet that makes it better then that's for me.  However I was now at a crossroads.  I either had to accept that I would be on pain meds that would increase my weight at a pretty alarming rate or I look into something else.  I decided to begin looking.

Susan and myself have been lucky over the last year or so to make some friends via twitter.  One of these, Dawn, was training to do Cognitive Hypnotherapy.  She offered to create a pain script for me to try.  I accepted but wasn't really expecting anything from it.  As I have said before, I normally don't believe these things work.  Man, I have never been so wrong in my entire life.  I listened to it for the first time and I have to say the experience was bizarre.  The pain however was lifted.  At this point I had stopped my pain meds so I was expecting an increase in pain.  When the pain was getting worse I would listen to it again and the pain would lift.  As time went on the strangest thing happened, I could no longer visualise the "pain".  This freaked me out, so I contacted Dawn just to make sure.  She reassured me that this was a good thing, not being able to "see" the pain was what was stopping me from experiencing the pain.

It has now been about 6 weeks since I have came off my medication.  I have to say that I am glad I have done this.  Cognitive Hypnotherapy would never have been something that I would have chosen so I have to be thankful to Dawn for offering me her help.  For anyone reading this I don't think I could recommend this highly enough.  Everyone should check out her website

Minecraft, modern day phenomenon?

Over the last 6 months or so I have a few gaming friends who have been playing Minecraft on the PC.  To be honest, as much as I really enjoy playing games, I don't enjoy PC gaming (Football Manager being an exception).  A few weeks ago Minecraft was released on the Xbox 360.

Minecraft on the 360 broke day one XBLA sales records and recouped developer costs within an hour.  With so many people buying it, it must be good right?  So I downloaded the trial one night and left it.  A few nights ago I remembered that I had downloaded this.  The hysteria that was surrounding the game on release day had died down.  So I installed the game to see what it was all about.  I was met with this screen.

Well this looks quirky, was my first thought.  Sadly it didn't get any better.  After 30 minutes of basically digging a trench, I started to pay a little bit of attention to the tutorial.  However there was only so much of looking at this type of image I could take.

I tried to like this game, I almost wanted to like this game but its headache inducing graphics were too much.  Couple that with the facts that the game in itself seemed pretty pointless.  Maybe if I played the full game then I might get to the point of what I am supposed to be doing but I didn't find this game either fun or relaxing.

The thing that annoys me the most is I wasted an hour playing this and now I have wasted another hour putting this post together.  This is 2 hours of my life that I am not going to get back.

Day off and a game of Golf

Well yesterday (Tuesday the 22nd of May), I managed to get a day off work.  Lucas had a play at school so I was going to watch that in the morning.  With the weather being nice I wanted to squeeze in a game of golf as it was a rare opportunity to get a game during the week.

The friend that I was meant to be playing with called off on the Monday, so I was left with the dilemma of should I go and play alone? Fortunately, plans changed again and we were back on.  We went to play Broadlees.  This is a 9 hole course which was good as it gave me the opportunity if I was too tired to just play 9.  However I went for the 18 anyway.  This was a nice wee course to play, although to be honest I don't really have much to compare it with.  It also made a difference being able to play in decent weather and not have to battle the rain.  Also for the first time I managed to score under 100.  For some this will be no big deal but it was to me.  I have been close to getting under 100 on a few occasions but always failed right at the end but this time I managed it with a 96.  I am sure its the new clubs.  My new challenge will be to consistently score under 100 now.

So back to my nearly dilemma of going out and playing golf on my own.  This was something I wasn't sure about.  I find golf a bit of a social thing.  Its good to be able to catch up with what's been going on with friends for the 3+ hours you are out.  However, it would appear that playing golf on your own is a fairly common thing.  Yesterday I noticed 2 different people playing on their own.  It seems that the thing to do is tee off with 1 ball and then when you are playing your approach to the green, it seems OK to hit a couple of balls.  I guess this is a good thing as it saves you from catching the group in front and also gives you the chance to try a few different shots.  I have to admit though that I am not so sure if playing alone would be something for me.

Anyway, I have got another game planned for Saturday.  Hopefully the good weather will remain.

Golf - That's what's next

I recently got my domain name renewal invoice in.  This got me thinking about this blog.  When I first wrote a post it was all about my struggles with CFS/ME. At the time it was a good outlet for me, I was not in a great place with it and I couldn't really talk to anyone about it.  So having somewhere to vent some anger or just a place to moan was helpful.  Over the months I have always wanted to move away from just moaning and to move onto something that would appeal more to some of the other people that follow me.  I play online with many people from Frugal Gaming and that has been something that I have enjoyed doing. I briefly thought about reviewing games that I was playing, however the things that people would look for in a game review is not something that appeals to me.  The music, the graphics, the game engine is all something that I pay little to no attention to in a game.  I want to know if the game will keep me playing it, if its a bore or not.  So I decided not to take that route.

At the end of last year I started playing a bit of golf.  Then when on a coaching course I fell on my wrist and damaged it, so the 6 weeks healing pretty much put an end to that.  However this year I have started with a vengeance.  I have flirted with golf over the years.  Never invested any real money into it, my clubs were always giving to me by someone else and they were often many years old.  So this year I bought myself a new set of Irons. I spent a good few weeks looking into which clubs to go with.  I was looking for something that would give me a little more distance but was forgiving.  Technology has changed over the years and I was trying to catch up.  I had narrowed it down to 3 sets, The Cleveland TA7's, the Wilson DI9's or the Nike Slingshots. I spent days reading over reviews of each set of clubs.  Trying to find reviews that would be relevant to me.  On golfing forums people would ask what is the best clubs for them and the answer would always be go and try them out. This however is not always practical.  Most of the golf shops in my area close before I get a chance to get there and try them out.  I had then narrowed it down to the Cleveland or the Wilson.  I had planned on using American Golf to buy them but they didn't have either set in stock.  So I took my old clubs and met up with a friend at the driving range and explained my dilemma.  Well it just so happened that he used Cleveland irons now and had used Wilson's before. I then had a hit with his and that was me sold.  So that night I went online and ordered the Cleveland TA7's and they were delivered on the Wednesday.

So on the Thursday I went down to the driving range to have a hit for the first time.  I was hitting them straight and with a little more distance but nothing major.  I have however at 34 realised I am never going to make the European tour so distance wasn't really an issue.  So the next day, with a rush of blood to my head I then joined a local 9 hole course as a member.  I decided that 9 holes would be best for me as I am unsure if I can make 18 holes regularly with my CFS/ME and then on the Saturday played my first ever medal.  I have to say this was not something I was looking forward too.  I am quiet a shy person and the idea of being rubbish and having people seeing that I am rubbish is a bit of a put off.  I did manage however to complete the round with a score of 101.  I know that is pretty high and hopefully over time it will come down but I was happy that I had completed it.

A couple of years ago, I asked myself the question of what next?  Well I can safely say that the what next for me sports wise will be golf but I will always have gaming there along side it.

Newcastle and what happened next

Hey all its been a tough couple of weeks for me.  The entire Rangers fiasco hasn't helped but it has mainly been my health.

At the start of February I went away on a boys trip to Newcastle.  It involved many hours of drinking, not a lot of sleeping, some football and lots of laughs with long time friends and guys I was meeting for the first time.  However the aftermath make me question if the entire trip was worth it.

The week that followed was full of early-to-beds trying to catch up with the sleep I had missed over the weekend.  This also helped me try and get rid of the alcohol and caffeine that was in my system. To be honest all things considering I actually felt ok.  However the weeks that followed, I can't say were as good.

 It all came to a head when I was out shopping with the family.  We were walking up the hill and I was pushing the buggy, it honestly felt like I was walking on the spot.  My body seemed to be going through the motion of walking but I didn't seem to be going anywhere.  We then had to get some food in for the house.  Fortunately at this point Lucas was pushing the trolley.

At this point after I got home I pretty much spent the rest of the weekend on the couch.  I am fortunate enough that in my job, when I get days like this I can work from home.  I ended up staying in bed most of the day for 3 days but every night after I had went down stairs I was met with this

It might not seem like much but these were the hardest 14 steps I have ever had to climb.  I had no strength in my legs, I could not get up one single stair without having to use arm strength and the bannister. Do you know how soul destroying that is?  As much as I was being told to not bother going down the stairs I still wanted to at some point. I wanted to go down the stairs to eat, I wanted to go down the stairs to see the boys when they got home.  I wanted my life to have that tiny bit of normality, that tiny bit that makes me feel like there something to fight for.  I don't want to end up being virtually bed ridden.  I know this might happen but I am going to try my hardest to make sure that if it does, it is going to have had a challenge getting me there.

I am happily starting to feel a little better now.  I am back at work, I can manage up the stairs (although I am trying to limit my trips)

Would I do the Newcastle trip again?? Hmmm its a tough one

A hopeful resurgence

Hi Everyone,

I realise it has been a while and if anyone is reading this then they will be thinking "here we go again, another attempt at a comeback" but I am actually hoping that it will stick this time.

In the last 6 months or so I have questioned if I really do have ME/CFS or not.  I know of a few people on Twitter and Facebook who have a much worse time of it than I do.  It often about this time when something hits me and I am floored for a week or so and really struggle with things.  I don't know if it is more wishful thinking than anything else.  I would love the day when I wake up full of energy and pain free, get into work and not have total mental blocks about what I am doing.  I know that I should be thankful that I can lead a fairly normal and active life but sometimes I just want that 1 day when everything is normal.

Since my last post, my oldest boy is now a school boy.  Seems like only 5 minutes ago when I was getting something from the chippy when Susan called to say that was her getting taking through to be induced.  I never did finish that sausage supper, if I knew I would no longer be able to eat Gluten then I would have savoured it more (or maybe not).  My youngest is now no longer in the terrible 2's.  He is in the terrible 3's instead.

Other than that my life is filled with PS3 gaming.  I am still pretty active with the guys from Frugal Gaming and it seems strange that it was only about 1 year ago when I played my first game on-line with them, I feel like some of them have been friends for many years.

The last part of my post will be dedicated to my wife Susan.  For every time I am on a low, she is always there to pick me back up.  Every time I can't take any more if the constant pain, she is there to offer help.  As I have said before, without her I would be an absolute mess.  

Something New is coming

Not much has been happening with my blog for a while.

I have decided that it will undergo a revamp.  I will continue to talk about Gaming, my findings with Gluten free food and my trials with ME.

Hoping to bring you something new on the 7th of February.

Stay tuned