OH MY GOSH (FLUFFY BUTT): http://youtu.be/D81GT4lINVs

This is my Nala’s take on the Nicki Minaj song. Think she is some competition for Nicki? Hehe.


The weird symptoms of a VSer

Okay so to most people visual snow is a weird enough symptom/syndrome in itself. But within the Visual Snow Facebook group and forum, I often notice the description of symptoms I did not know were possible even for a VSer.

VSers are united by their symptom of TV-like static in the visual field. It may or may not be more noticeable under different light levels, or times of day, but most VSers have this symptom 24/7. It can even be seen with closed eyes.

Goadsby and Schankin have recently published research suggesting that visual snow sufferers experience hypermetabolism in the lingual gyrus of the brain. However, this is merely a correlation and does not identify a cause. Further research is expected to commence in the near future, once the fundraising target has been raised.

There is currently no known treatment for visual snow; however the static is often not the only, and sometimes not the most debilitating symptom suffered by VSers. Symptoms commonly suffered by VSers are tinnitus, brain fog, derealisation/depersonalisation, fatigue, and anxiety. However it is not uncommon to see symptoms previously unheard of, even by your average VSer, described by member of the group.

The opportunity for sufferers to talk with others about their symptoms is of course largely a therapeutic experience, especially for sufferers of such a rare condition, many of whom have had negative experiences with members of the medical profession that haven’t heard of the syndrome before. However, ‘symptom sharing’ may also pose a potential psychological problem because of one influence. The power of suggestion.

Sufferers may read the description of another member and, realising they share a specific symptom, be able to eventually put a name to their symptom. But alternatively, it may cause a sufferer to realise the possibility that a symptom exists, which they may then dwell on, and self-analysis of an already anxious individual can lead to all kinds of stress.

I personally recommend ignoring posts that you know will not be useful to you. Discovering the similar plight of another may be comforting, but reading  about all the possible things that can go wrong in the human body may induce extra worry that not even a healthy person needs.

Scottish independence: Views of a Welsh person

Many of the people reading my comments on Facebook and YouTube recently would probably consider me an aggressive ‘No’ campaigner (albeit, as a resident of Wales, without a vote).

Actually, this isn’t necessarily correct.  While I would prefer Scotland to remain a part of the UK, it is many of the ‘Yes’ campaigners’ remarks that I have a problem with.

If I believed everything many of the ‘Yes’ campaigners said, I would probably think everyone in Britain wanted a Conservative government. This is most definitely not true. I have never voted Conservative in my life and, unless anything changes drastically, never will (although admittedly my plan to move abroad may void this pledge regardless). I would never wish for a government run by a party known for its loyalty to the rich and the traditionalist upper classes, and with such obvious lack of consideration for animal welfare. (Yes, that in itself is a deal breaker for me.)

Anyway, a (possibly paranoid) feeling I get from many of the ‘Yes’ campaigners is that Britain and the UK government are considered one and the same.

As someone that has had a Labour MP since the constituency was established, the purpose of this post is to raise my hand and say “Excuse me, you’re wrong”. My town certainly has its bad points – crime, poverty and a noticeable financial abandonment from the rest of the county; but I am proud that it is part of a Conservative free zone.

So, Scotland, while previous comments may have made me appear selfish in my wish for us to remain united, what I would really like to ask is, can all of us anti-Conservative Brits join you? Because I fear that Scottish independence may leave the rest of us with a Conservative government for years to come.

Ice Bucket Challenge (and more)

OK, so a few days ago I received, inevitably, my #IceBucketChallenge nomination. The culprit was my girlfriend, not knowing if this craze had yet made the journey across the pond. Thankfully it had, and therefore it didn’t come as a complete shock to me.

My girlfriend successfully completed her challenge in her warm Pennsylvanian garden (or ‘back yard’, I should say). I, on the other hand, was forced to complete mine on my blustery Welsh drive, in temperatures around 12°C. Oh well, at least it wasn’t winter!

Getting all the ice cubes from the freezer, I dropped them into a bucket of cold water. I sat on the drive, propped my phone up on the food waste bin and got it over with as quickly as possible, nominating my two best friends.

This challenge led me to wonder if the creation of a challenge for visual snow could ever catch on. Imagine that sort of awareness and money becoming available to VS research. VS sufferers are currently trying to reach a goal of $50,000 for the next phase of research to be conducted by Dr Goadsby and Dr Schankin.

Their most recent publication suggested that VS is caused by hypermetabolic activity in a part of the brain called the lingual gyrus. It was a milestone for VS sufferers; but only a momentary relief to the constant irritation this condition inflicts on its victims. After all, there is still no treatment.

I have tried coming up with some random challenge ideas to raise money for VS, but have struggled to build enthusiasm for any of them, even from within the visual snow community.

So this weekend I plan to just throw myself in at the deep end (mostly figuratively, but somewhat literally) and make another video, not dissimilar to the Ice Bucket Challenge, but this will be for Visual Snow. And, VSers, this will be shared beyond the visual snow Facebook group. Stay tuned. 😀

To donate to visual snow research, visit EyeOnVision.org

Career advice from the perpetually undecided

Last week saw this year’s AS and A level students find out if their latest year of slog was worth it.

A levels, in the UK education system, are the academic courses taken by many students aged 16-18 in order to prepare them and fill the requirements for university and other higher education courses, apprenticeships and jobs.

‘Results day’ is traditionally on a Thursday in the middle of August, one week before the GCSE results are released for 16 year olds. Students nationwide receive their results on this day, and second year sixth-form students find out if they have been accepted into the university of their choice.

Talking to several A level students this year has led me to reflect upon my own experiences of further education, and the expectations imposed upon myself by my school and my peers.

Throughout high school I was an A-grade pupil. It didn’t come without effort, but I was lucky that my mum would help me with revision for class tests and standardised exams. With her help, I usually achieved good marks. Not that I was incapable of this without her help, but I would often lack in motivation and she would push me to study when I would rather play on The Sims or update my Aaron Carter fan site. (Yes, I was late to the lesbian party.)


(The Journal; September 1, 2004)

I changed my mind several times, during years 10 and 11, about what A levels I wanted to take and what I wanted to study at university. In hindsight, the fact that these were my career decisions at the time, seems odd to me. I think for most 15-16 year olds though, not enough is known about the ‘world of work’, the careers that exist and what they involve, in order for them to make a decision about a career path. So, a lot of the higher-achieving teenagers, especially, base their decisions on the subjects they do best at, and which school subject they most enjoy. That is what I did. It is not always a bad decision, but I would encourage people to also think what they enjoy doing out of school. If I could go back and give my 16 year old self any advice, it would be:

“Forget which school subjects you enjoy or are good at. Forget the expectations of teachers and the school, based on your grades and abilities. Think only about what you enjoy doing and what you are passionate about.

Your academic achievements should be there to help you into the career of your dreams, not used as a decider as to what career you should have.”

The career software we used at school predicted, time and time again, that my most suitable job would be a dog groomer. I laughed at this result, thinking it was ridiculous. I was an A-grade student. I would surely be a member of a prestigious profession. Right?

This concept of ‘superior’ careers and what high-achievers ‘should’ do, is what, in my opinion, needs to change. Thinking back to my 16 year old self, I most enjoyed spending time with my pets and walking rescue dogs. I volunteered at a cat rescue during the summer, and edited videos of my cats. I did a work experience placement in my local zoo. A career in dog grooming would be perfect for me.

Instead, I did reasonably well in my A levels and pursued a degree in Biology. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret going to university one bit. I enjoyed university life, benefitted greatly from my new-found independence and friendships, and I got an alright degree at the end. But I couldn’t get a job in the field, my modules were a pick from several different areas of the subject and the practical skills I obtained were thus also as random. I remain perpetually undecided and still wonder whether I should forget academia and work with animals. I really do recommend following your heart, not your results day transcript. Good luck kids!