book reviews · Bookish

Leaves of Love by Lucy Aykroyd (Review)

Hey guys. Today I am on a Random Things tour for Leaves of Love by Lucy Aykroyd which came out in Kindle and Paperback formats a week ago. I received a copy of the book for free as part of the tour. Please be sure to check out the other tour stops!

Leaves of Love is a warm and insightful book from Lucy Aykroyd who is experienced as an end of life doula. She shares stories from those in her care and how she helped them as she was by their side in their final days. It’s beautiful and heartwarming and made me quite emotional. It’s not a long read, but it’s a precious and valuable one.

Lucy not only shares stories from those she cared for in their final days, but also offers helpful advice for both caring for those nearing the end of their journey, and what one can expect. She talks about little gestures that can mean the world to the person, how to help get through the tough days and more.

You can really feel Lucy’s compassion radiate from the pages of Leaves of Love. It makes the prospect of death seem a little less scary, for me, at least. It’s hard to know what to do or how to act when people are dying and this book feels like a blanket around the shoulders and the warm pat of reassurance. I wish I had this book a couple of years ago when the death of my grandfather was looming overhead. I think it’s one everyone should read, especially anyone who is preparing for the end of life for someone. Be it as a carer, loved one, family member etc. This is a valuable book for both the practical aspect and for the soul.

About the Book

Are you a carer or companion to someone who is ageing? Are you looking to enhance every moment of their lives to the end yet feel full of trepidation at the prospect? Leaves of Love is a simple yet essential guide for both layman and expert to keep by your side as you learn the beautiful and ancient art of accompanying another over these final transitions. Leaves of Love is laced with inspiring real-life stories that depict the rich gleanings to be found within ageing and the unexpected opportunities that can reveal themselves when we embrace the reality of our dying. These stories bring with them a tool bag of ideas and practical tips to empower the carer within all of us to value our own unique gifts and love as we have never loved before. With nature as our guide we learn how to be present when we visit a care home, what matters most as we sit with someone and how and what to expect when we are accompanying a dying person.

Health · Uncategorized

Cervical Comb-over

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So, I had my very first smear test, or cervical cancer screening test. Yeah, it was weird and I decided I wanted to share the experience with you, start to finish, because I know many young women are apprehensive about having the procedure.

So, first thing is first. Booking the test? Well, you get a letter in the post. I got mine earlier on in the year, even though I was still 24. I kept putting off booking my test because I needed to see a nurse for bloods and a pill check as well anyway. I decided I would do it when I got back from a trip away. I actually got a second letter, this one had a leaflet with more information about the procedure, what happens afterwards, and requirements prior. You start getting invited around the age of 25. It is worth noting that you do NOT have to have the test if you don’t want to. It’s ultimately your decision, but please don’t use embarrassment or anxiousness as a reason to avoid it.

To book the procedure, you just call up and book in with the nurse once you’ve had the invite – the letter does tell you all this, but I’ll tell my experience regardless so you know what you can expect. Now, when I booked in, the receptionist didn’t actually tell me about the things you need to do before-hand (or rather, the things you need to NOT do). They ask that you book the test for the middle of your cycle, basically, it’s better if you’re not on your period for the test as they can get a clearer reading. They also say to not have a bath the day before and to avoid sex the night before – specifically to not use spermicide, lube or a barrier method of contraception. It’s probably just better to avoid it all together to save having to maybe need the test re-doing. If the sample is inadequate, they will call you back in three months time to take another sample. The test itself? The only thing you need to do is undress your lower half. If you wear a lose skirt, you can keep that on. The test itself only takes a few minutes.

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The nurse will ask you to lay down on the bed – I was given some of that paper stuff to put over my lap. You go spread-eagle and she (or he! you can request that a female perform the test when booking if you’re concerned) will insert a lubed up, scary looking contraption in to your fanjo. It’s called a speculum and it’s not actually scary. This basically dilates your vagina, opening it up so the nurse can see the cervix. Then she uses a little brush like pictured above to swab some cells from the cervix. This is what is sent off for testing. For me, the opening of the speculum was uncomfortable, a little painful in fact. The tenser you are, the harder it is for them to get on up there but if you’re anxious, tell your nurse. If it hurts, tell your nurse. They’re happy to take their time or to stop if you need it. It only takes a moment to collect the cells. While the speculum itself was weird and uncomfortable for me, I honestly couldn’t feel the brush. I dunno if it was because I was focused on the fact there was this woman all up in my junk and the pressure kinda made me feel like I need the loo or if it’s something you genuinely can’t feel but that was it. Brushy brushy, then she gets on out of there and you can put your junk away.The nurse advises that I may experience some spotting later on and if it happens, to not be concerned. Personally, I didn’t get any, but my ladyparts did feel a little weird for a while.

A little embarrassing? Perhaps, but it’s worth it to monitor your cervical health and potentially reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

Once the sample is taken, you will get a letter back after about two weeks with the results. If the sample was adequate and completely clear, you’ll get called back again in three years. If the sample was not adequate, you will get recalled in a few months – there are loads of reasons the sample might not be adequate so don’t worry about it. Anything else? They’ll tell you in the letter what will happen. I’ve not had my results yet or anything so I cant really speak on that part.

If you want some more technical information, you can check out the NHS page on Cervical Screening. This post was a bit longer than intended but I hope it puts some of you at ease about the test.