Ann Allan: Reading This Could Save a Life and It May Be Yours.

Over the last nine months I was aware that things weren’t right and I knew I needed to see a doctor. However the virus was everywhere and I kept putting it off.

It was a difficult decision but I finally realised I needed to find out what was going on. It took a lot of phone calls but I persisted and eventually got through to the clinic. The doctor agreed that I needed to be seen and an appointment was made.

Blood tests were taken and I was asked to take an FOBT (fecal occult blood test), a very sophisticated test that can detect occult blood in the bowel.

A few days later I was walking along the seafront at Seapark when my doctor phoned. First the good news , the blood tests were all normal but the FOBT showed that there was a problem and further tests were necessary.

This included a second FBOT which also came back positive. This was very quickly followed up by a phone call from a consultant at the Ulster hospital who described what would happen next.

First a colonoscopy, followed by a CT scan and then an MRI. I have to say that I couldn’t have been treated better. Everyone I came across, and there were three hospitals involved : Downe hospital, Lagan Valley hospital and finally the Ulster hospital were understanding, efficient and caring. Despite all that was going on with the virus, normal day to day life saving procedures were going on.

I won’t go into details but the colonoscopy and the prep for it weren’t pleasant. I was able to watch on the screen as I didn’t take a sedative and so I realised something wasn’t right when I heard the doctors asking for a biopsy. This took place at Downe Hospital.

A discussion after with the doctor revealed that they had found a tumour / polyp 3mm ( 1 inch long) It was not possible to say whether or not it was cancer until a biopsy had been performed. The wheels were also set in motion for a CT scan followed by an MRI.

Next morning I received a call from Lagan Valley Hospital. Could I come along that afternoon for the CT scan? No waiting, straight in with reassuring staff talking me though the procedure. I had to wait over a week for results of the CT scan but it was clear and if it was cancer it hadn’t spread.

The MRI was next. This was the one I wasn’t looking forward to as I am extremely claustrophobic. However as it was scanning the pelvic area I was able to go into the tube feet first and apart from the noise it was fine.

How was I feeling during this time? I have to say I was quite calm and accepting. Red flags had been mentioned and I knew I was getting excellent attention and it was being investigated quickly.

I got on with life and took the attitude that what will be, will be, to quote and old song. My husband didn’t sleep much in those six weeks and the family were worried. I had good support from them and from friends who I had confided in.

On Monday this week I went to the Ulster Hospital to get results. Good news, the tumour is benign but is probably precancerous. So I will need an operation in January to remove it.

I am writing this to let anyone who is worried about their symptoms not to be embarrassed or afraid and to see your doctor as soon as possible. They have seen and heard it all before.

The symptoms of bowel cancer are below. This doesn’t mean that all cases will be cancerous but it could save your life if it’s caught early as in my case.

The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and do not necessarily make you feel ill. However, it’s worth trying simple treatments for a short time to see if they get better.

More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have 1 of the following combinations of symptoms:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit – pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain
  • blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids) – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

Constipation, where you pass harder stools less often, is rarely caused by serious bowel conditions.

Most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer.

https://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer/

Thank you for reading this. I hope you will share and maybe by doing so you will help save a life.

I wish you a Happy and Healthy Christmas.

Deja Vu all over again.

It may be my age but I keep seeing scenarios in NI that have been going on here for years. Only difference, new voices, same arguments.

Nothing is ever taken to a conclusion. We just go round in circles never squaring the circle. Addressing the legacy of the troubles, dealing with terrorist groups, racism, homophobia, bonfires, flags round and round we go.

Now we have climate change and how that will affect us in the coming years appears to being ignored.

We have had the warmest summer on record. The earth is scorched and countries that never had wild fires are having to tackle major blazes. Lack of rain in some areas are adding to the problem.

Meanwhile torrential rain is causing flooding in areas that never had flooding before. Pictures in China of travellers standing in flood water up to their shoulders while standing in trains is terrifying.

London too has had flooding in areas never flooded before.

Can we stop the bickering and name calling and get down to saving the planet for future generations?

What I’ve seen on Twitter over the last week reminds me of a school playground

So what if Arlene Foster wants to join up with a clown like Farage to pretend that they represent a majority of GB citizens. (Note it’s GB and not GB and NI.) Let her get on with it. Viewing figures will soon tell us how well it’s doing. I’m sure they are loving the publicity.

We also have Covid to contend with and the conspiracy theories are rampant. Boris Johnston as PM should be speaking out to quash these theories and to have some of the leaders arrested for their hateful rhetoric, but he knows they are the majority of his supporters

Please politicians in NI stop acting like school children. We are running out of time to save our beautiful planet.

And for goodness sake stop using words like sneering and woke.

We have become a selfish society thinking only of Number One, taking everything as a personal insult. The treatment of the asylum seekers and the lack of condemnation by the unionist parties is shameful.

No matter how many blogs and op -Ed’s are written (like this blog ) how many people will listen? It’s worth trying, so don’t give up. We need to do something and do it quickly.

Let this generation be the one that takes climate change seriously.

Thanks for getting this far In the blog!!!

What by Michael McFarland

What …

“What is like to be deaf.”? Asked a voice.

“It’s like nothing else on Earth” Signed a voice.

“Everything and everyone is forever quietened.

Little Mix, Pavarotti, the friend; the stranger; you ~

The traffic; the people; the sea; the new-born babies

The piano; the horse, the lamb, the orchestral strings.

That inconsiderate cyclist behind you on the footpath !

All these to us are silent; and silence is non-golden.”

An open letter to Joel Keys

Dear Joel

I’m sure you are reeling from all the criticism( and some adulation) that resulted from your appearance on the NI Affairs Committee.

A lot for a young man to take on. Your reference to violence possibly influenced by those who nominated you to appear in the first place. Those who profit from violence perhaps.

I would like to tell you why I stopped listening to you. It was when you suggested that violence could be on the table. I admire a young man that can be articulate even if he doesn’t hold the same views as I do but when he sees violence as an alternative to dialogue then I switch off.

I was your age when the troubles started and my children were a lot older than you when the Good Friday Agreement was signed. So for most of my adult life I lived in the shadow of the violence around me.

I lay at night as a teenager listening to the gun shots and the petrol bombs going off around the city. I drove through streets that were barricaded with burning busses, I was evacuated on many occasions due to bomb scares and two friends died, one who was coerced into committing an act of violence and was blown up and one an innocent young man carrying out his duties as a Civil Servant.

When my children were growing up I spent many sleepless nights worrying that they would get home safely. We had essentially normal life taken away from us through violence.

Look around you at the families who are left still suffering after almost 50 years. Is that the legacy you want for your children?

When you say violence is on the table. Violence against who? The British Government who negotiated the Protocol, or those who’s aspirations are different from yours? Will you wreck your own area with this violence? Burn cars and properties? Injure police who try to intervene?

Joel, life is short and you’ll find as you get older that using the pen rather than the sword will work better in the long run.

Don’t let your peers end up as statistics. Young men who will end up with criminal records. Go to university, meet others with different points of view but please don’t go down the road of thinking that violence pays. Our legacy would indicate that it doesn’t. It only prolongs the situation.

I wish you well for your future and if you choose the right path I’m sure you could do great things for your community.

Don’t let those who remain in the shadows lead you down the wrong path

By the way I have four grandchildren and I’m hoping that they will never have to experience violence again in Northern Ireland. We all deserve to live in peace.

Sincerely

Ann Allan

Ann Allan : 99 or 00

There are many important questions needing answers for the citizens of NI and beyond:

Will Edwin Poots succeed in getting rid of the protocol ?

Will Jim Alister ever learn to smile and most importantly:

How will we cope if a 99 becomes a 00?

Having had some investigative experience I set off to find out from the man himself ( who wished to remain anonymous) at Seapark in Holywood where I have in the past purchased a 99 from his ice cream van.

‘What will you do if you can’t get chocolate flakes’ I asked. ‘Will the people of Holywood revolt?

‘I expect there will be some annoyance’ he said, ‘but I’ve called in a mediator and if we have to we will resort to sprinkles. It will just be a matter of reeducation. Holywood people love their 99’s. I never could understand why Holywood golf club and the Culloden hotel wouldn’t let me park my van there but it’s their loss’.

‘Will we recover if we lose the 99 ? ‘I asked

With a tear in his eye and a tremble in his voice he replied ‘ This could just be the tip of the ice cream, 99’s could be lost to a new generation’

I thanked him and told him I would take the matter up with members of the assembly some of whom believe the 99 is only a couple of years old and see what happens.

As I walked away licking my ice cream I thought

I hope this isn’t the end of the 99 as we know it.

Ann Allan: 2020 What a Year!

I didn’t believe that when I said goodbye to the family on the 12 March after my son’s birthday get together, it would be the last time we would be able to hug each other for the foreseeable future. I remember that we all made a joke of touching elbows not realising this was going to be normal life soon. My husband, who is a virologist, warned us that he could see the pandemic spreading rapidly but I doubt if even he could have foreseen how bad it would be. 

Things evolved quickly and we went into lockdown around the 19th March. Toilet rolls became like gold dust. Trollies were piled up with luxury quilt toilet rolls, soft on the bottom but a pain in the butt for those who couldn’t get their hands on them. As a member of the vulnerable, over 65 ‘s, community we cocooned ourselves. We didn’t go the shops. Our children brought groceries and left them on the step. Every item was carefully washed down with soap and water and a dettol infusion to kill the virus should it be lurking on any surface. 

At the time I was writing for VIEWdigital and so I was able to do that from home using FaceTime to communicate. Gordon was already working from home so that didn’t change.

We started walking every day. At first round the block and then driving to beaches and parks further afield. I started photographing every thing that moved and every day putting them on Twitter. I’m so grateful to all those who liked them and commented on them. It made it so worth while. I also put them on Facebook with an account of how we had spent the day. I then got the timelines printed in a book so future generations can see what it was like to live through a pandemic.

So apart from not going to the shops our daily lives remained much the same as usual, though as one who has never ordered groceries online, I found having to write a list of what I needed very annoying.


We were extremely lucky with the weather during March, April and May so no long days stuck in the house. And here I realise how lucky we were. We had a garden, lovely places nearby to visit. I felt so sorry on the days we did get rain, for parents locked down without a garden, young children with lots of energy champing at the bit to unleash all that pent up energy. It was much the same with Gordon when the golf club closed.


As the number of cases came down restrictions were relaxed and Summer arrived. It seems a long way off now.

Then there was a debate about GCSE’s. Exams were cancelled as schools had been closed. A worrying time for teenagers already confined to spending time at home. It was decided to award marks on performance and even this caused controversy depriving some from pursuing their chosen career path at University.


I remember around June answering a tweet from a Twitter friend saying that my husband anticipated a second wave in the Autumn and I just hoped that plans were being put in place to deal with this second wave. Unfortunately it became apparent that this wasn’t the case and decisions on what to do as the numbers rise again is being made ‘on the hoof’.

How has the year affected me personally?

Well I’ve missed hugs from my children and grandchildren. I also have come to realise that there are some people that if I never saw them again it wouldn’t worry me and others who I’m missing a lot.

During our many walks by the sea over the past 10 months I’ve collected lots of sea glass. Looking it up on the net I found it was possible to make pictures with the glass so I had a go at it and found out I enjoyed it. I was able to sell them before Christmas and raise money for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice. We also saw lots of places along the east coast that we hadn’t visited before. Northern Ireland has some beautiful places so get out there and see them.

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones due to contacting Covid. Two close relatives had positive results back in September but thankfully with few symptoms and a rapid recovery. I also feel for those elderly people who were unable to spend Christmas with their family and for whom this could well be their last Christmas.

I don’t understand those who try to gain attention by dismissing the virus as ‘just flu’ and refuse to obey regulations put in place to stop the spread.
I’m disgusted by our MLA’s who can’t put issues aside and work together for the good of all. Covid 19 doesn’t distinguish between orange and green.

Now we have a vaccine and although the virus is very crafty and is mutating to find new hosts we are hopeful that when we have vaccinated over 85% we will begin to return to our new normal.

So as we move into a new year and personally I just see it as a continuation of the past 366 days don’t expect life to suddenly change for the better or for that matter for the worse.
However I wish you all a Peaceful and Healthy 2021. Thank you for following me on Twitter, Facebook, Chatter and YouTube and for the craic we have had in this unprecedented year. The year of Covid.

 

Seapark

 

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Girls Night Out

 

It’s Time to be Selfless not Selfish 🦠

As a mother and a grandmother who has had restricted contact with family members since March I am asking those who won’t obey the rules to think again.

I lost my one of my grannies when I was just 2 and the other at 14. I never knew my grandfathers. They were long gone before I was born. Thankfully that has not been the case through the 20th century, as modern medicine and the advancement of science have resulted in the elderly living longer. That is until Covid 19 struck and we were back to bygone days where we had no treatment for viruses and millions died in the 1918 flu.

Looking back on the measures taken in 1918, people wore masks, socially distanced and washed their hands frequently There was still a huge loss of life but the virus was snuffed out due to citizens doing their part and adhering to the protocol.

So why can today’s citizens particularly in those countries with large numbers of patients (and here I have unfortunately to include ourselves) not see the bigger picture and until a vaccine is approved try to stop the spread.
Those of you who are young, we know you think you are invincible and regarding the virus you are probably right but there are those around you, namely your elderly relatives and those who are compromised due to illness who are not invincible and will die an agonising death.

Many years from now as you hold your beautiful new born baby will you and your relatives be thinking ‘ Granny and Grandpa would have been so proud if they hadn’t succumbed to Covid? Or will it be ‘Here mum hold your grandchild. I think she looks a lot like dad.’
It’s up to you, either listen to the charlatans who or trying to tell you that the scientists are misleading you or listen to the Scientists who know what they are talking about. I know which one I am choosing and that’s not just because my husband is a virologist and knows what he is talking about.

So it’s up to you to do what’s right for all. Do what’s right for loved ones and our fellow travellers on this short journey or to be selfish and do what’s right for you. Your family and friends! Your choice!

Ann Allan: The Roots Run Deep

32B29B1D-5451-41E5-8DD3-AA852A8E23A1 I was chatting with my 16 year old granddaughter recently and we were discussing the political situation here in NI following the debacle over the recent funeral arrangements for a Republican funeral. She also told me about comments circulating on Facebook about Noah Donahoe. Horrible sectarian comments that no 16 year old should have to see.

‘Hopefully my generation will sort it out, she said. None of my friends want to see what’s going on. We don’t care about religion, colour or whether you’re gay.’

I had to be honest with her and tell her that every generation blames the last and promises to make changes that never actually happen. For a good many years after the Good Friday agreement I really thought we were at last going to change our society, where sectarianism and all the other isms were a thing of the past.

But like an ancient tree whose roots are buried deep I soon discovered that the roots of sectarianism and evil in our society is deeply rooted.  The roots reach out and push though to the surface occasionally and break up the facade that we see as peace.

We will never get past the them and us mentality while these roots are spreading under the surface and entwining yet another generation.

It has become more apparent in recent days that some of those who are supposedly working for the good of all of us my not be entirely invested in that objective and their roots came to the surface at a time when we needed to be looking out for each other. It became obvious that it was a case of do as I say not as I do.  Many of us who lost relatives were unable to attend their funerals or comfort their families. Not to mention the fact that we do not wish to spread the corona virus by encouraging large gatherings.
Now what was going to be a peaceful 12th July has led to a ‘tit for tat ‘ situation with bonfires springing up in areas where there had been an agreement to have none. 

Could no-one read the room? Could no one see that the misguided actions of a group of people would cause hurt to all sections of the community, including their own followers.

Their actions have led us to a situation where the Assembly is once again in danger of a possible shut down. Our deputy first Minister is being asked to step down in a repeat scenario of 3 years ago when the First Minister herself was also asked to step down. This led to the suspension of the Assembly.

I can’t see a future where this will change, where we will live along side all our neighbours peacefully.  It may be that like the corona virus we may just have to live with it and expect that the roots will break through to the surface from time to time. Only time will tell. I hope my granddaughter’s generation will be able to make a bigger success of it than we have.

May his Memory be a Blessing

For days now ever since we learned that Noah Donahoe was missing, we have all invested in the hope that he was safe and well and would soon be found.
He became our son, our bother, our family and we willed him to be ok.
The community bonded together and everyone set out to look for him. It was a concerted effort  and some came long distances to join in.  There was always a hope that he would be found alive and well, but that was not to be.

This morning we heard the sad news that Noah had been found. No one knows what happened other than those who are dealing with the situation.

But that didn’t stop the faceless gutless key board warriors crawling out of the woodwork with their theories of what had happened to Noah. All without foundation and intended to rise tension and maximise the hurt that the family are suffering at this time.

They have no shame in posting false information. Passing on something they have heard from a friend of a friend of a friend.

All the efforts of a community who had come together to find Noah tarnished with the comments appearing on social media.

Please stop and think before you try to seek a bit of attention by pretending you ‘ are in the know’ In actual fact it’s none of your business and I’m sure the family are hurting even more with each new conspiracy theory.

Whatever happened, a lovely young boy has been taken too soon and a family is grieving. My condolences to his mother and his family.

May his memory be a blessing.

GREENWAY OR FREEWAY

Asian men are cycling road bike in the morning

The Comber Greenway is a 7 mile traffic free section of the National Cycle Network running from Belfast to Comber along the old railway line which closed in 1950. It is a flat bitmac linear path.

Before the pandemic it was a quiet peaceful path to walk along, to listen to the sound of the birds and to count the number of discarded poo bags along the route.

But not anymore. It has turned into a racing track where cyclists donned out in the latest apparel disregard the right of walkers to be able to walk without being knocked down. 

Gordon and I used to walk it most days. Going from one section to another. But no longer. We have been driven away by cyclists.

Now don’t get me wrong many members of my family are cyclists but it only takes a few to act like Tour de France competitors to make it unsafe for others.
For the slightly hard of hearing there is no noise to signal that a cyclist is approaching and very few appear to know how to ring their bell. A gush of air as they pass and you jump into the ditch to avoid being mowed down.

I have just read an account on our Nextdoor app that a young child on a bicycle was knocked over by an adult cyclist on the Greenway at the weekend,  both ending up in the ditch, the child winded and distressed. This was backed up by other complaints of a similar nature. 

With the summer months ahead what is the solution?  No one wants to ban cyclists but neither do we want to end up with a fatality. 

I don’t have a solution other than to have cycling hours so that walkers get the chance to walk without fear of being knocked down. But I would  appeal to the cyclists to be more considerate. You know who you are. Now take the joggers …..no, don’t even start me on joggers.