Saturday, 28 January 2017

Health: Smear Tests, sharing my experience.

There's been a lot of chatter around the old interweb regarding smear tests of late and I kind of want to share my experience with you and have a chat about them. 

TW: This post refers to sexual assault. 

Being the ancient dinosaur that I am, I was lucky enough to have been able to start having smear tests at the age of 18. My experience of smear tests has not been nice, but I wanted try and reassure you that no matter how bad or scary or painful it is, you really are doing yourself a disservice if you don't go and get yours. 

Me headed to the doctors...
Credit: Linocutboy

At the tender age of 18 I stepped into a dark dingy nurses office, completely unsure of what to expect. Maybe I should have picked up one of those leaflets up and clued myself up first, and yes the internet was very much in its infancy so I couldn't really google it (I could have maybe asked Jeeves, yes I am truly that old). 

The brusk nurse told me to remove my trousers. There was no screen, just a bare office with a bed thing in the corner (what are they called?), anyway I digress, I stood there in my knickers, she kind of looked at me oddly. I had to ask if needed to remove my knickers, I genuinely didn't know what to expect. I think I thought this may be a pull them to one side situ? Who knows what was going through my mind? But no, it was a full naked bottom half situ. I walked over to the bed and hopped up. Seriously this was the dark ages, it wouldn't happen now, you'd remove all that behind the privacy of a curtain and pop a bit of paper towel on you for modesty. 

She put the speculum inside me, which again, back in the dark ages was cold and metal. My very nervous vagina shut the sucker right back up again. The nurse told me to relax, after a few attempts and she managed to get up there. A few painful scrapes later and we were done. I went over to the chair, put my clothes back on and sat down, she gave me a talk about checking my breasts and sent me on my way. 

I felt so violated. You see, about 4 years earlier I had been subjected to a sexual assault by a boy I went to school with and this, in a strange way, felt the same. I had found myself in a situation I didn't want to be in, I felt vulnerable and stupid. The exact way I had felt those years before. And as much as I tried to tell myself it was for my own good and that it was a medical procedure, still I sobbed and sobbed. 

When it came to my next one, around 5 years later, I remember sitting in the car with my dad, shaking. I was so scared, I didn't want to go in. But somehow he managed to calm me down and talk me round. In I went, this time, in a different, brighter, more modern surgery. I was talked through the process by a very kindly nurse. I went behind a curtain (hoorah) and removed my clothes, got up onto the bed, and popped the paper towel on for my modestly. The nurse inserted a plastic speculum, and yes, again my nervous vagina clamped it shut, but after another try we got there, and yes, it still hurt like hell, but the nurse's friendly chatter seemed to soothe the whole process a bit and I was in and out before I knew it. 

Every time I've been since has become easier. 

Is it pleasant? No. 

Is it painful? For me, yes. 

Is it mortally embarrassing? Yep. 

But, is it worth it? Yes, absolutely, a million times yes. 

This is only my personal experience, but one I wanted to share with you. Despite the most horrific start to my smear journey and the painful memories it brought up, I still wouldn't change it. I would take that ten minutes of embarrassment and pain over cancer any day. I'd have one every week if it meant not having cancer.

Love your Lady Garden - Get a Smear.

I beg of you. Take whatever pain, bad experiences, fears and put them to one side, once every three years and do this one thing for your health. Please. 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Small Biz Saturday: VE Cosmetics

Hey! So it's the new year and I'm so excited about the way things have kicked off on the blog this year. The giveaway has been going great guns and it really made me think about the part I can play in supporting small business and handmade products.

I thought a monthly (for now, possibly weekly) feature on small businesses, independent producers and handmade products might be fun, so what better way to start than to feature the products of someone I love very much. 

My mate Lynsey runs VE Cosmetics and specialises in ethically sourced, vegan make-up and beauty products. All handmade by the lady herself, Lynsey (the gorgeous redhead below) has developed amazing range of quirky, fun and beautiful products.

Now you all know I am not good with the make-up, if I manage to slap on a bit of mascara it's been a good day! But I'm very sure all you slap addicts out there would know exactly what to do with the huge range of products Lynsey makes.

Head on over to her site, have a good ole poke around and do your best to support small business. Vegan friendly, cruelty free cosmetics by VE Cosmetics.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Giveaway: Major Snug with The All in One Company

Well that's it. We've had a severe weather warning here... Yeah, excellent. So there really is no better time to be hunkering down and getting your major cozy on! The All in One Company are speciality onesie makers, and we all know how much I love a onesie so it was mega exciting to be introduced to these guys! 

Each onesie is designed by you and handmade in the UK. Every detail from the fabric, pockets, hoods and details including ears and tails (YES TAILS) are chosen by you. All you have to do is follow the easy on-screen instructions to create your bespoke garment.  

As you can see, I went for quite a simple design, the grey star design fleece is super soft. I opted for side pockets and little cute ears. The attention to detail and choice on the site is amazing. If you have someone in your life who is onesie mad, this is the place for them. 

The design process...

Mine came to just over a £100 which might seem a little extortionate but what you have to bear in mind is that this is bespoke, one-of-a-kind, tailored design; handmade in the UK. Sizes range from XS - 5XL which, at a guess is a size 30. I accidentally ordered a 58inch chest (the 5XL) (I'm actually only a 48inch chest, I literally don't know what I was on that day), so this is incredibly oversized on me, but at this time of year when all I want to do is snuggle, it is perfect.

So now the good news! The All in One Company are very kindly giving you the chance to design your very own onsie with a £100 voucher! All you have to do is follow the steps below. The more steps you take, the more entries you gain! Good Luck!

**This item was sent to me for the purposes of review**

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Style: Preppy Style with Dash

It's definitely getting chilly, and with the predicted cold snap on its way you're going to need to get wrapped up. The other week I brought you a gorgeous jumper from Dash, and today I've got another one for you. This navy cable knit is great for layering up. 

This is quite a preppy, almost mumsy outfit for me, but I am totally loving it. I felt really fresh and cute wearing it and it was (here it comes...) comfy! (you know I live for the comfiness). The jumper is quite boxy and short, so I wore it over a longline blouse. Other than that you could wear high waist trousers or a winter maxi skirt with some chunky boots. 

A big shout out to my baby Poppy who took the pics. Not bad for a 6 year old eh?!! 

**This item was sent to me for the  purposes of review. Hoorah**

Monday, 2 January 2017

Style: Live Unlimited Look Two

Hey! How was your festive period? Are you all partied out? I took it pretty easy to be honest but I did manage to go out for a meal or two and spend lots of time with my family. This gorgeous plus size drop waist dress from Live Unlimited was a key piece and I'm sure will continue to be in the coming months. 

It won't come as any surprise that I've teamed mine with jeans and killer heels! I love to try and dress stuff down as much as possible, I don't really do 'dressy', so I like to play with items and use things like jeans or biker jackets to make them just that little bit more casual. 

The beading detail to the neckline is really beautiful and of course, being sheer, it feels really sexy. This is going to look great with tights and boots too, or some leather look leggings would look cute too! I sized up to the 24 on this one as I was concerned about the placement of the drop waist with my hips, but there is plenty of room, it sits beautifully and is really comfortable. 

**This dress in this post was sent to me for the purposes of review. All words and opinions are my own**