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Kissing my Stomach Goodbye

On the 26th September, I kissed goodbye to my stomach. Why? Well, to cut a long story short, I inherited a mutation in the CDH1 gene – which means I have an increased chance of developing diffuse gastric cancer and lobular breast cancer. After a routine gastroscopy in April revealed one of the biopsies to show cancer, I made the decision to have a total gastrectomy. Below are extracts from my diary that I wrote during my stay in hospital.

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Stomach Plush – Bought from Plusheez

 

26.09.17 Day of Surgery – Tuesday

Today is the day. Something I’ve been building towards for the past 4 months, ever since I got that phone call on the 18th May. Currently sitting in hospital in pjs and a dressing gown, trying to keep as cosy and warm as possible. B is sitting here beside me, usually sleeping as he’s shattered. We were here 8.5 hours yesterday for my pre-op so we were both exhausted! Luckily they gave me a sleeping pill to knock me out last night. Starting to get a bit nervous now. Just trying not to think about it all as I keep visualising myself in the operating room and it freaks me out a bit. It’s a long road ahead, but I have to do this. The alternative would or could be much worse…

27.09.17 Day 1 – Wednesday

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So yesterday went well. The level of care here has been fantastic so far. The surgery took longer than the expected 3-4 hours. I was under anaesthesia for 9 hours! This is because they sent some tissue to pathology for testing to see if there was any gastric mucosa left behind where they made the join of the oesophagus to the small intestine. It turned out that there was, so they cut more tissue away and made a new join. When the surgeons told me this today, I thanked them massively as having stomach mucosa left behind had been my biggest worry. They allowed B to come and see me in the recovery ward at around 10pm last night. They said I would be incoherent and wouldn’t remember anything, but I was fine! Even the nurses were shocked! When they awoke me from surgery, I even asked them what time it was and was surprised at realising that I had been asleep for 9 hours!

Today I am allowed to drink 300ml of water, but it’s a struggle. When I take a sip, it feels like it gets trapped in my throat and chest, so I sucked on ice cubes instead. Unfortunately, that’s now causing the same issue. I managed to get up onto my feet with the help of the nurses, so that’s something at least! Baby steps – one day at a time. I will try again tomorrow. Apparently I look well and have no fever, so that’s a good start.

28.09.17 Day 2 – Thursday

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So today, the physiotherapist got me up and walking down the corridor and back! My main struggle is the air that’s trapped in my body. A lot of it is in my chest and some further down. The pain is horrific! Turns out it’s from the CO2 that was pumped into me during surgery. They said most of it will be absorbed by the body and muscles over the next few days. B came to visit again today, it’s really great having him here. I haven’t done much at all today apart from rest but surprisingly, it hasn’t been boring. I just need to remember that my body needs time for everything to heal, so rest is very important. I also managed to drink half a glass of saft! Small victories!

 

29.09.17 Day 3 – Friday

Last night wasn’t so good. I think I called for the nurse 3 times because of the pain caused by the trapped CO2. Today was okay, I walked three times with the IV stand (no longer need the zimmer frame thing!) and I can even walk without it whilst someone else pushes it along for me! The only downside is that it’s pushing around all the air inside me when I walk. I’ve cried twice today from the pain because it’s so bad and now it’s pushing against my incision where my stitches are. If I didn’t have to deal with this, I feel it would be plainer sailing! Gianni stopped by today with Bjørnar, and brought me a beautiful potted plant. It was nice having extra visitors. It was also nice being able to catch up with him, as I havn’t seen him for a couple of months. B has been wonderful though, attending to some nurse type things whilst I’m in here, what a saint.

30.09.17 Day 4 – Saturday

Last night also wasn’t good. I called for the nurse 4 times because of the pain caused by the air. Each time, they increased my epidural and I would fall asleep only to wake again an hour later in agony. On the fourth call, they gave me morphine and I slept for 3 hours until the nurses came in at 7am.

Today has been a struggle. My epidural was removed, as well as my catheter. The pain has been the same as last night. Over the course of the day, they managed to get the pain under control by giving me morphine. BK and Anne Marthe came to visit in the afternoon, which was lovely 🙂 They brought me a beautiful bouquet of purple flowers. Weirdly enough I felt a bit guilty because I was very drugged up and still in a lot of pain, so I wasn’t much fun to be around!

01.10.17 Day 5 – Sunday

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 17.15.27Today has been a much better day! The pain has been managed throughout the night, which meant I got a lot of sleep and some during the day too. I also drank 1.5 cups of tea, 1 cup of lemon water and a bit of saft. So I feel like I’ve managed to get a lot down today. It’s also been nice having more visitors as Linda came to spend the afternoon with me. She brought me a lovely pink lotus flower friendship bracelet, that she also has in blue. Very thoughtful ❤ B also came to visit later in the day and he’s just getting ready to leave. Later, I’ll give my mum a call and maybe try to read my book. It’s so difficult though as my eyes keep rolling around in the back of my head as I feel tired all of the time.

02.10.17 Day 6 – Monday

Today has been an interesting one. I was sent for a chest x-ray at 9pm last night. (I’ve been wheezing a little bit when I breathe in and out.) Turns out, I have a bit of fluid on my lungs. No infection though, so I have to be mindful to take deep breaths and be up and about more. B and his mum came to visit me in the afternoon. It was lovely having her here as I didn’t know she was going to be in town until I was in hospital. She brought me a beautiful bowl of flowers, which one of the nurses commented on saying how pretty it was.

Today I’ve started to eat a few things. I say eat, but it’s still liquids. First off, I tried a chicken stock cube in hot water (too salty as I used the whole cube in a small amount of water – silly me), then i had 3/4 of a high calorie berry protein shake and a bit of fiskesuppe. My appetite seems to have changed though. I absolutely loved fiskesuppe before, but once it was in front of me, the smell made me feel nauseous. I tried a couple of spoonfuls and couldn’t have any more. Today I’ve been walking up and down the stairwell! Managed to do it three times as they suggested. At the moment, I have a lot of strength as I’m given saline and glucose via IV. Tomorrow they’re planning on removing my drainage tube. That’s the source of a lot of my pain, so hopefully once that’s out, things will get a little easier.

03.10.17 Day 7 – Tuesday

edfToday they removed my drain! At first, the nurse removed the bandage, and then the stitches. She gave me morphine and suggested I walked around for 10 minutes to loosen the drain. I’m squeamish with needles and stuff like that, so it grossed me out to look down and see a tube sticking out of my abdomen! It was a bit painful as I was walking around and I started to get dizzy just before she came back into the room. It was painful when she pulled it out! I yelled out that loud, I’m sure the whole ward could hear me! I still have a lot of discomfort in the area, but it’s no surprise really as it was through my muscle.

It’s now 9:30pm and someone has been wheeled into my room 😦 Boo! I had it so good! I was initially sharing a room with somebody until Friday, so it was nice having a space to myself for a few days. Never mind, I should only be here for another few nights.

04.10.17 Day 8 – Wednesday

edfToday I’m going home! They said I could stay another night if I didn’t feel safe leaving today, but I feel ready. I still have some discomfort, but I’m coping well without morphine.

I’m still trying to eat as often as possible. I got a bit dizzy in the pharmacy earlier, and figured it was my blood sugar level. So I had a teeny bit of honey once I got home, which seemed to help. I even tried a mashed up poached egg in the evening! It’s nice to be home and trying different foods and being back with B ❤

 

 

I just want to say a huge thank you to the wonderful Nurses, Doctors and Surgeons at Haukeland that looked after me during my stay, thanks for the lovely messages of support and kind words from my family and friends, thanks to my wonderful visitors that came to see me in hospital, which made my time spent there much more pleasant… and the biggest thank you of all to Nurse B ❤

Not sure how I could have gone through this without him.

 

Basking in Baška Voda

Last month, Bjørnar and I went back to our favourite place; Croatia! Initially, we had discussed doing city breaks this year with Amsterdam in the Summer and Iceland in late October. But with everything that’s going on, we decided to have a nice relaxing beach holiday instead. So this year, we went to Baška Voda, located in the Makarska Riviera.

My motto this Summer was to “Eat, Drink and be Merry”, so we definitely came to the right place!

On the Monday, we booked an excursion to go wine tasting in the mountains. Before we got to the winery, we stopped off at two different locations – the blue lake and red lake.

These are both sinkholes. The blue lake looked green whilst we were there. The red lake is named after the reddish-brown colour of the surrounding cliffs, coloured by iron oxides.

Afterwards, we arrived in Imotski at the Grabovac vineyard. Having sampled many of their lovely wines last year, we knew we were in for a great evening. We left with two bottles of red wine – one of which is still unopened! (We’re saving it for a special occasion once I’m fully healed from surgery – fingers crossed I can still drink wine then!)

During our stay, we decided to walk to Brela. This was a beautiful town that seemed bigger than Baška Voda. There were so many beautiful beaches, but the one we headed to was the furthest away; Punta Rata (In July 2004, Forbes magazine listed this beach among the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world). I made sure to pack our swimming goggles that day, and I got to see lots of different fish around the rocks.

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On the Friday, we booked an excursion to Dubrovnik. The coach journey, although long, (4 hours each way) was wonderful as we got to see some beautiful scenery. An area of the coastline, a town called Neum, is actually part of Bosnia, so we had to pass through the border four times (into Bosnia – then back into Croatia as we reached Dubrovnik and vice-versa). We were told this could potentially take up to an hour both ways, but luckily we were allowed through without scrutiny each time.

Dubrovnik Old Town was beautiful! It actually reminded me of Venice with it’s stunning architecture, history and stone walls. I did however struggle that day with the heat and crowds. I was dehydrated and didn’t have enough energy to keep walking around. I felt like I didn’t get to thoroughly enjoy the day, and would like to go back there again but in Spring or Autumn – something that I also said about Venice.

It was a great week in Croatia, and we were glad that we had the opportunity to see a bit more of the country by also visiting Dubrovnik. Split Airport was of course the same as last year! But at least we already knew what to expect!

 

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The Croatian goodies we came home with ❤ 

A Year of Knowing

One year ago today, (gosh that went quick) I opened a can of worms / was the day I embarked upon this journey / was the day I stepped onto this crazy rollercoaster ride…

Today I’m feeling positive – but realistic (hence me describing it as a crazy rollercoaster ride) On my down days, I tend to think that I’ve opened a can of worms! I’m only human!

Basically, I sent an email to the genetics department here in Bergen, asking for more information as to how I would go about having a test done to find out if I carried the CDH1 mutation that runs in my family.

After getting the relevant information from the Doctors in England, I took this information to my “fastlege” (Doctor) in Bergen the following week, and requested a referral to the genetics department.

01.08.16 – Contacted the genetics department

08.08.16 – Referral from my Doctor

04.10.16 – Appointment with a genetics counsellor – Blood test sample taken

08.11.16 – Results from blood test – CDH1 mutation detected

30.12.16 – Meeting with genetics counsellor to discuss next steps (opted for screening)

18.04.17 – First endoscopy with multiple biopsies taken from stomach

10.05.17 – Meeting with surgeon to discuss option of having a Total Gastrectomy in the next few years

18.05.17 – Results from biopsies – Signet ring cell carcinoma detected in one of the samples taken. Decision made to have TG this year

14.06.17 – Second meeting with the surgeon to discuss the TG

21.06.17 – PET/CT scan (awaiting results)

 

As it currently stands, I am still scheduled to have my TG on the 26th September. I haven’t received the results from my PET/CT scan so I can only hope that no news is good news…

 

 

 

June 21st – The Longest Day (in more ways than one)

June 21st: The Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest day of the year

For me: My first PET/CT scan, which felt like the longest day of the year!

So, before I get the final go ahead for my surgery in September, my surgeon decided to refer me for a PET/CT scan to stage the cancer.

🤞 Fingers crossed that it’s just localised and I won’t need chemo 🤞

After fasting all morning and drinking copious amounts of water, I headed to the hospital for my appointment.

On arrival, Bjørnar and I sat and waited until my name was called. We were then shown to a room, I changed into some hospital clothing, laid down on the bed, answered a few medical questions and had my blood sugar level checked. Then I waited for the Doctor to come and put a cannula in my arm.

This was not a pleasant experience 😥 I have thin, deep veins that are difficult to find. Every time I have a blood test, a long time is spent trying to locate a vein. Usually, the Nurse/Doctor has a few attempts and I end up resembling a pin cushion. Today was no exception… They even used a special gadget to look for veins in my arm!

AV300-Vein-Viewing-System

Image taken from: http://techpp.com/2012/03/26/top-medical-gadgets/

After 5 attempts in the back of my hands (which resulted in a few painful, little bruises), an Anaesthesiologist was asked to come and find a vein. Luckily, his first attempt was successful! After he left, the Doctor returned with a large robot-looking machine, connected it to the cannula in my hand and in went the radioactive tracer. Bjørnar left the room at this point to get some food since I had to rest and relax for the first 30 minutes (apparently even reading can affect where the tracer ends up in the body). For the first few minutes, knowing that what had been injected into me was radioactive, my heart started pounding and I began to feel anxious. Since I couldn’t feel anything physically different in my body, this helped me to slowly calm down.

After 75 minutes or so, a Nurse came to tell me that they were ready to do the scan and I followed her to the room. After laying down on the scanner bed, I was told that they would be injecting me with the contrast dye for the CT part of the scan. They explained that I would feel some discomfort in the area where it was injected, and since the cannula was in my hand (usually they put it in the forearm) they would reduce the pressure. After placing my hands above my head, I was moved through the machine.

Immediately, I got very anxious and felt claustrophobic! With my heart pounding in my chest, I asked them to take me back out. A few moments later, I said I would try again and tried to keep it together. Once I was through to the other side of the machine, they injected the contrast dye into the cannula. Now this hurt A LOT! My hand was burning and it was very painful. They tried to relieve the pressure, which helped a little, but then my heart began to pound in my chest and I felt like I couldn’t breathe! I told them it felt like somebody was sitting on my chest. They asked me if it was anxiety and I said that it was nothing like what I had felt before. I tried to focus on my breathing – taking deep breaths in through my nose and slowly out through my mouth. After a while, the pain subsided and the pounding started to lessen.

I’m not sure how long the scan took, but I can assure you, it felt like a lifetime… I had an MRI scan around 8 years ago, and laying in a claustrophobic tube is no fun. Especially when you have to be in there a while! Back then, I managed to control my nerves, so I definitely feel that my anxiety has worsened since then.

From this experience, I have realised that my anxiety is worse than I thought. I feel like I wasted four months being on anti-depressants as this only helped the situation temporarily. Without the medication, the issue is still there and I need to get my mental state into better shape before my surgery in order to aid my recovery.

I just want to end by saying that I really do have the best fiancé ❤ Bjørnar has been so supportive throughout all of this. Yesterday, after knocking one of my bruises on my hand, I burst into tears, and he gave me the biggest hug. It was painful, but I was also feeling emotionally overwhelmed and it all came pouring out. On our way home, he treat us to sushi and some Yorkshire Ales, and then he spent the whole evening chilling with me.

 

Old Norse in the North

Yorkshire

formerly known as the County of York and “York” comes from the Viking name for the city, Jórvík

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It’s no surprise that Old Norse has influenced the English language; particularly in the North where the Vikings dominated for many years!

When I started to learn Norwegian a few years ago, I found some similarities to Yorkshire words and places and thought it would be a good idea to make a blog post out of it!

Yorkshire Definition Old Norse Bokmål
Bairn Child / Baby Barn Barn
Beck A stream / A brook Bekkr Bekk
Berserk Mad / Angry Berserkr Berserk
By Place names ending in by

eg. Grimsby

By By
Dale Valley Dalur Dal
Fell A hill / Mountain slope Fjall Fjell
Flags Flat stones used for paving, flooring or roofing Flaga Flagger
Flit To move about / move house

eg. Flit about

Flytja Å flytte
Foss Waterfall Fors Foss
Gate Street / Way

eg. Kirkgate, Briggate

Gata Gate
Gawp To stare open mouthed

eg. Stop gawping

Gapa Å gape
Laik / Leck To play

eg. Are you laiking out?

Leika Å leke
Lig / Ligg To lie down Liggja Å ligge
Lug Pull or carry, or a knot in the hair Lugge Å lugge
Mucky / Muck Dirty / Manure Myki Møkkete
Nay No Nei Nei
Reckon To think, to consider Reikna Regne med
Sillin Raining heavily

eg. It’s sillin it down

Sila Å sile
Skrike Scream loudly (related to shriek) Skrækja Å skrike
Spell Splinter of wood in the skin Spjelke Spjelke
Tarn Lake / Pond

eg. Malham Tarn

Tjarn Tjern
Thwaites eg. Linthwaite þveit Tveit

Happy Pills – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

So here it is, my very LONG, open and honest blog post about my 104 interesting days on Escitalopram (aka Lexapro/Cipralex)

💊 💊 💊

Timeline

  • 7th February – 10mg
  • 23rd February – 20mg
  • 16th March – 10mg
  • 20th April – First appointment with Psychologist
  • 11th May – 5mg
  • 21st May – Last 5mg pill

 

Mental health is still a topic that is often kept in the dark. Even myself is guilty of this. In the past, I have been diagnosed with both depression and anxiety. I have had counselling, and have also taken alternative antidepressants such as 5-HTP and St. Johns Wort – all of which was without the knowledge of my family and friends.

The genetic result that I received in November, ignited my anxiety. Over the Christmas period, I experienced episodes of high blood pressure and on some occasions, panic attacks. These would go on for 30 minutes or so as they continuously flared back up, thus resulting in me taking Valium to calm myself down.

Over the years, I’ve done my own research into antidepressants and their side-effects and was strongly against taking them myself. But in February, after experiencing more panic attacks relating to my ongoing health issue (I also took 5-HTP during this period and it wasn’t helping), I went to my Doctor and asked for antidepressants, because I felt that I couldn’t manage this on my own. At the same time, I was also referred to a Clinical Psychologist.

7th February – Diary Extract (10mg)  How it affected my emotions

Today I went to the doctors and took my first antidepressant. After struggling (but managing) for over 10 years, I finally caved. The anxiety has gotten the better of me, thus in turn making my depression bad. At the moment, I’m a mess. This new revelation of me having this crappy gene mutation, has been a tough pill to swallow. I thought I was coping well, but as usual, I was downplaying it and fooling myself. Last week was hell. I barely left the house. Hell, I barely even got dressed or left the bed. That’s when I really knew I had to seek help and sort it out because I wasn’t able to sort it myself. I’m feeling a lot of mixed emotions. I’m nervous and anxious to be taking this medication, as it’s something I wanted to avoid. I’m sad because I feel defeated, that I could no longer help or control myself mentally… But I also feel proud, for making the appointment, going there and explaining myself so well that I got the outcome that I had hoped for.

At 00:30, I came home and wrote in my diary after being out with a group of people. I didn’t drink alcohol as I wasn’t sure how it would affect me. But I left early as I was feeling very uncomfortable in this social situation.

I feel that the medication has affected me already. Today I felt mellow, but not like I do with Valium, just calm and level with a bit of a fuzzy head… Tonight, I left early since I could feel my anxiety bubbling to the surface. As I walked home, I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. Here I am feeling sad – but level, with no tears.

21st February – Diary Extract (10mg) Feeling mentally drained and demotivated

Today I feel rubbish. My 13th day on Lexapro and my head is a mess. No motivation. No real desire to eat. I feel hungry – but I feel like I’ve lost all motivation completely. It’s been difficult to go to the gym as my head has felt cloudy and my focus has been off. I’m so tired all the time, I just want to rest. I’m tired, but I can’t nap and it’s mentally draining. I don’t have an appointment yet to see a Psychologist – I almost can’t be bothered going to see one anymore. My health anxiety has subsided for now, but today I feel as though it (Lexapro) may not be worth it. I know I need to stick it out for a few more weeks at least.

23rd February

I had a follow up appointment with my Doctor and mentioned that it had curbed my health anxiety. I also spoke about the crippling exhaustion and tiredness that I had been experiencing, along with my lack of motivation to do anything. The Doctor did not believe that this was related to the medication, and advised me to increase the dosage to 20mg.

19th April – Diary Extract

So a lot has happened since I last wrote in here. The side-effects were awful at 20mg. I was spaced out like a zombie, had no energy whatsoever and couldn’t focus or do anything at the gym. So after two weeks, I tapered back down to 10mg. I still have tiresome days.

During my time on 20mg, my behaviour was strange. B would find me sitting and staring into space. When I did this, I wasn’t day-dreaming – I was simply staring into the abyss. Looking back at this time, I said “the lights were on but nobody was home”. This is not something I would ever want to experience again…

During my sessions with a Psychologist, I mentioned the tiredness, exhaustion and inability to do the things that I once enjoyed – eg, go to the gym, cook, hang out with friends… I also made it clear that I wanted to stop taking the antidepressants because I felt that they were suppressing my emotions. I hadn’t cried properly in months and I just felt constantly flat. The Psychologist explained that the anxiety, depression and sadness that I had been experiencing prior to me taking the medication was a natural human response to something real that I was going through. It made a lot of sense. I wasn’t feeling depressed for no reason, and the panic attacks weren’t random either. I was genuinely upset and scared of what I had recently found out, and hadn’t had enough time to process it all.

I wad advised not to quit taking the tablets cold-turkey, so on the 11th May, I began cutting my pills in half and took 5mg daily. Slowly but surely, I felt that I had a bit more energy and was returning to my normal self .

On the 21st May, I took my last 5mg dose of Lexapro.

I mentioned at the start of this post that I was well aware of the side-effects of antidepressants (not so much the tiredness part though – I should have NEVER increased my dosage to 20mg), but I was not well-informed or clued up about the withdrawals. A lot of that, was naivety on my part since 5-HTP and St. Johns Wort never gave me any. A quick google search led me to many posts on forums about “brain zaps” and “brain shivers”, and how many people resorted back to antidepressants because of the withdrawals.

The first week was awful. I felt generally dizzy (as though I had lost my sense of balance) and my brain felt fuzzy. Whenever I moved my head from side to side, I would feel a strange zappy feeling in my brain. Sometimes, the shock sensation would radiate down my arm. Despite this, I persevered. I took a 100mg dose of  5-HTP twice a day, and magnesium before bed in hope that this would help.

I’m almost 2 weeks “clean” and can honestly say, never again. I still get the strange zappy feelings now and then, but they’re nowhere near as intense as they initially were. My emotions have returned (I actually cried the other day, and it felt so good to let it all out!) and my motivation is back! Once again, I enjoy going to the gym and cooking. 🙂

Perhaps all I needed was time. Maybe the antidepressants were good for short-term use in my case, whilst I got my head around all of this.

Right now I feel positive, even though I’m having my stomach removed in a few months time since one of my biopsies showed cancer (and this is me talking without the Lexapro in my system!) My plan is to make the most out of the next few months,make lots of plans, enjoy myself and eat/drink whatever I want, whenever I want! ❤

Disclaimer: As the author of this blog, I have based my writings upon my own experiences regarding the topics covered in my post. However, I am not a medical doctor, nurse or otherwise formally qualified in this subject matter. The information contained in this blog is not intended to be construed in any manner as medical advice.

 

 

 

The Dreaded Phone Call

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Still feeling a little bit blurry headed after the 17th May Celebrations in Norway the day before (which, by the way was fab!) I struggled to comprehend the news that I had just received on the phone. The surgeon, that I had met with just a week earlier, had just called to let me know the results of my gastroscopy. All biopsies, apart from one, had come back normal. The news I didn’t want to hear was that one of them was showing signet ring cell carcinoma. Fuck.

The strangest thing is that I remained calm as he spoke to me; I didn’t even cry for a while afterwards. I simply couldn’t. I felt numb and confused. The surgeon suggested that I talk over the news with my family, and advised me to call him again as soon as possible to schedule my total gastrectomy (sooner than I had hoped to do so). This could mean no summer trip to England, no Engagement party with my family and friends, and no trip to Amsterdam. For now, all (fun) future plans are on hold.

So what did I do? Well, after breaking the news to B and my family, I poured myself a very generous glass of wine, ate a large slice of cake (leftovers from the 17th) and had a good, long chinwag with one of my close friends. ❤

It’s been a few days since I received the news and there’s still a few unanswered questions that I need the answers to. Does this mean I have to have chemo? How soon should I have the surgery? What if it’s already spread and they can’t find this out just yet?

Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that they found something. Now I know I have to have the surgery. I just don’t like having my life dictated by this. It’s only been six months since I found out that I had inherited the genetic mutation, and now I have to deal with this new piece of information. It really hasn’t been enough time for me to get my head around all of this, but with each day that goes by, I feel a little bit more prepared and accepting of the situation.

 

 

 

Mum’s (2nd) visit to Norway

Earlier this month, my mum came to spend some time with us in Bergen again.

The first time she came to visit was the last weekend of August in 2015. In true Bergen style, it rained a lot! So this time, I told her to come around the start of May, and promised her a weekend of great weather. (Luckily, it didn’t disappoint… phew!)

Saturday

On the Saturday, we took a 6 hour round-trip to the Hardangerfjord.

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During our journey, we stopped off at Fossenbratte, Steinsdalfossen, Øystese, Hardangerbrua, Eidfjord and Voss.

Steinsdalfossen was a magical place! We walked on the path that led us directly under the waterfall. As I stood underneath, I was more than grateful for the nice refreshing mist after walking up the steep path on a warm day!

After enjoying a picnic in front of the waterfall in the sunshine, we made our way onwards towards Øystese.

Here, we stopped off at a lovely rocky beach. Whilst there, I managed to find a large, beautiful piece of quartz. ❤

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Hardangerbrua – longest suspension bridge in Norway – 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) long

Our final destination, was Eidfjord. Words can’t even describe how beautiful this place was!

Close to the water, were a row of trees that had something different knitted around each one! Our favourite (especially B’s) was the lady – she even had glasses and a handbag!

After a long day of driving and sightseeing, we made our way back to Bergen through Voss

Sunday

I’ve lived here almost 4 years and had never been to Fantoft stavkirke; a place I’ve always wanted to visit. So we figured we would check it out whilst my mum was here. Little did I know that it was closed until the end of the May! 🙈

Afterwards, we took the Ulriksbane (a cable car) to the top of Ulriken; the highest of the seven mountains in Bergen. Despite me being a wimp when it comes to heights and sitting down on the floor in a London Eye pod with my head in my hands many years ago, I managed the trip quite well!

In the evening, we went out for a lovely meal at Zupperia – Torget. The “Kokkens Krumspring” was to die for! King prawns, squid, scallops and chicken with ginger in oyster sauce, served with crispy noodles. Yum! Afterwards, we took mum to Apollon Platebar – probably one of my favourite places in Bergen. A small, cosy record shop/bar that has many craft beers on tap!

Monday

Before she flew back to the UK in the evening, we visited Gamlehaugen; the King’s residence in Bergen, and then Peppes for Pizza and wine in the sunshine. Unfortunately, King Harald was in Oslo so we didn’t get invited inside for a cup of tea…

It was such a lovely weekend, having my mum visit us in Bergen again and being able to spend some time with her. We both had such a great time with her and look forward to her next visit, so that we can plan another exciting road trip and make more new memories. ❤

It will never be the perfect time…

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Today I cried; something I’ve struggled to do for the past few months thanks to the antidepressants I’m taking. I’ve always been skeptical of taking such a thing, but over Christmas, my anxiety was getting progressively worse as I struggled to come to terms with the fact that I was walking around with a potentially ticking time bomb. I felt like I had no other alternative than to try the medication, and to be honest, it has helped. My health anxiety is under control and I feel a lot more calmer, but of course not everything is peachy… I’m unable to express my true emotions. Instead, they stay bottled up inside of me and I am unable to release them.

That was of course, until today…

I guess I thought that I would feel a lot more prepared for surgery after meeting with the surgeon, but if anything, I feel just as worried, afraid and sad about the whole situation as I was before. Perhaps I should have gone to my appointment with no expectations.

I know there will never really be a good time to have a total gastrectomy, but after doing a lot of thinking, I decided that I should do it early next year. He asked me why I wanted to wait until then, so I told him the truth. It’s because I’m not mentally ready right now and still need time to prepare for such a life changing event. Besides, we want to get married in 2019, and I don’t want this decision looming over me for years to come.

So, my goals over the next few months are to wean off these “emotion suppressive” antidepressants, continue seeing a counsellor to help me overcome my health anxiety and get both my body and mind as ready as it possibly can be to say goodbye to my stomach in Spring 2018…

Deep throating a hose pipe…

Don’t worry, this isn’t an erotic blog post! I’m simply referring to what took place yesterday morning; my first Gastroscopy.

Since I received my genetic test results in November, I have a mutation in the CDH1 gene, which can lead to Diffuse Gastric Cancer, I have been anticipating this procedure ever since. Mainly because I just didn’t know what to expect – I knew it would take at least 30 minutes and that they would be taking 30 biopsies from my stomach, but partly because I retch when I brush my back teeth sometimes… So how was I ever going to manage swallowing a long endoscope?!

The waiting area was a long corridor lined with seats that were filled with people. Therefore, we were sat quite far away from the doorway where the Doctors came out one by one and called out a name.

When I was called out, the fact that it felt like I was walking down an awkward catwalk runway with everybody gazing at me only added to my anxiety.

After first introductions with my doctors, I preceded to tell each and every one of them that I was anxious and nervous. They all reassured me that it would be fine, that I would be sedated, and Dr. Trond told me that he was going to give me some of the “good stuff”!

After spraying some anaesthetic at the back of my throat and fitting a mouthguard, they asked me to lay on my side and administered the anaesthetic. They then placed the endoscope into my mouth and told me to swallow. (You’d think that Medical Science had advanced far enough to make an endoscope as thin as spaghetti?! Nope…)

Despite them telling me that I probably wouldn’t remember the procedure, I remember the whole thing (albeit some parts hazier than others). For the first part of the procedure, I was laid observing the whole thing on the screen as they explored the lining of my stomach and took multiple biopsies. After a while, I think the throat spray anaesthetic had worn off as I started retching repeatedly! They told me to take some deep breaths and administered more anaesthesia into my hand.

Towards the end of the procedure, I began retching again; this time more violently. I was struggling to control it and my mouth began to fill with bile and blood (gross, I know). Again, I was told to take deep breaths, but it took me a while to stop it from happening. It’s not easy with a mouthful of liquid, a mouthguard on and a tube down your throat!

After the procedure, they took me to a room to recover for an hour before discharging me. Dr. Trond came to see how I was doing and was surprised at how perky and normal I was, considering the amount of sedation I had been given (apparently it was a lot)!

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(Even in the hospital, I can still manage to get comfy and snug in a blanket!)

Since the gastroscopy isn’t a reliable screening method for this type of gastric cancer, I have been advised to have a total Gastrectomy in the near future. Next month I will be meeting with a surgeon here in Bergen to discuss this further so that I can make a more informed decision on what to do next. 🙂

Special shout out to B for making me lots of soup over the past two days and looking after me ❤ He’s the best

Florida

🇺🇸  I’m all about the palm trees and 80 degrees (not forgetting the Vitamin D)☀️

We’ve had some dark, dingy and damp months here in Bergen over the Winter period (nothing new there), so I was more than ecstatic when I received a message from my mother inviting me to Florida with her this Spring!

Part of me, believe it or not, was a little reluctant at first as I was nervous about the long haul flight – but this turned out to be fine! The abundance of movies and tv shows, and food and wine, made it much more bearable and enjoyable than a regular flight from Bergen to the UK!

Since my mum’s three sisters live there, a lot of my time was spent catching up with my aunts and cousins, as well as soaking up the sun. ❤

I was also lucky enough to spend Mothers Day with my mum (it’s been many years since the last time we spent it together). On the evening before, we went to Downtown St. Petersburg for dinner and drinks, and then spent the Sunday sunbathing on the beach.

I’ve already been to Florida twice before; once when I was 12 and again when I was 16. During those trips, we visited Universal Studios, Busch Gardens and Disney’s Magic Kingdom – so this was a much more relaxing and chilled visit to the sunshine state!

Overall, it was a fab holiday! It was just what I needed, and had a great time seeing my family!

The journey home was a bit stressful though! Our flight from Tampa to Philadelphia was delayed over an hour, which meant we would miss our connection from Philadelphia to Manchester! 🙈 Luckily, I found out just in the nick of time, and spoke to the helpful American Airlines staff who managed to pull a few strings and get us seats on a Tampa – Charlotte flight, and then Charlotte – Philadelphia! We landed in Philadelphia with just enough time to board our Manchester bound flight. PHEW!!!

We’re Engaged!

💍23.02.2017💍

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B had just got back from work, I’d just finished cleaning and the sun was still shining – so he convinced me to go on a walk. We went to Svartediket, which is a beautiful lake in the city. We were planning on walking to the end of the track that leads to a waterfall, but I wasn’t feeling so good so we cut the journey short. On our way back around the lake, we paused at a smaller waterfall. As I was peering down on it, B got down on one knee! (For a split second, I just thought he was tying his shoelace!) Then he said “Stacey Shaw, would you like to get engaged?”, then he asked me to marry him! 🙂 I said yes! It was all very surreal – I always imagined I would cry like they do in the movies, but I was actually shocked and surprised! 😊

💍 – I love how the emoji reminds me of my engagement ring! It’s a rainbow moonstone – so in some light, it looks blue. 💙

(Above) After my ring had been re-sized, we went back to Svartediket to take more photos!

Bergen Whisky and Beer Festival

Whisky and Beer; two of my favourite things! ❤

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The event was open for 5 hours on the Friday and 6 the following day, so we decided to try Whisky on Friday and Beer on Saturday.

Ireland

  • Jameson Caskmates *
  • Jameson Black Barrel Select Reserve *
  • Teeling Whiskey Single Grain *

Scotland

  • Scallywag Speyside Blended Malt *
  • The Black Grouse *
  • Talisker Skye Single Malt
  • Caol Ila (12)
  • Smokehead Single Malt
  • Pigs Nose *

Norway

  • Eiktyrne – 7 mnd Baby
  • Eiktyrne – Sokin og Eikin
  • Oss Craft Distillery – Whisky *
  • Bareksten – Botanical Gin *

Japan

  • Nikka – From the Barrel *
  • Nikka – 12 YO Blend

 

  • Austmann – Coconut Porter *
  • Austmann – Dark Matter
  • Stones – Ginger Joe Pear
  • 7 Fjell – Gateway Drug *
  • 7 Fjell – Whisky Tørs
  • 7 Fjell – Kaffeslabberas *
  • 7 Fjell – Svartediket *
  • 7 Fjell – Si Ingenting
  • 7 Fjell / Austmann – Lactic Brown
  • 7 Fjell – Eiffeltårnet *
  • 7 Fjell – Andre Buskvekster
  • 7 Fjell – Meltzer Belgisk Dubbel *
  • 7 Fjell – Helge’s Surprise IPA
  • Beerbliotek – A Passion for Strawberry Blondes *
  • Beerbliotek – Black Ale Chilli
  • Brewdog – Neon Overlord
  • Brewdog – Cocoa Psycho *
  • Amundsen – Dessert in a Can *
  • Wild Beer Co – Shnoodlepip *
  • Voss – Eldhus Porter *
  • Voss – Kveika Baerøl *
  • Voss – Quadruple Bypass *
  • Erdinger – Dunkel *
  • Grünerløkka – Irish Rock Porter * 

* = indicates my favourites (yes, there were a lot!)

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Oss Craft Distillery and Bareksten

The only distillery in Bergen! Their products were wonderful to try and Stig, the co-founder of Oss and owner of Bareksten was lovely. I had never come across a clear whisky before, so I was excited to try this! Both the flavour and aroma were fruity; something adventurous and different. What surprised me even more was the Bareksten botanical gin. I can’t usually drink gin without a mixer (usually I add tonic or flavoured soda water) but this went down a treat! It was smooth and very flavourful. If you love gin, I can’t recommend this enough. Just please don’t spoil it with a mixer! 😛

Jameson Caskmates and Irish Rock Porter

Bringing back the tradition of a “Whiskey Chaser”. The Irish Rock Porter is finished in whiskey casks, and Caskmates has been finished in stout-seasoned whiskey casks. Therefore, these two go together beautifully!

7 Fjell

A craft brewery in Bergen. I think we tried almost everything 7 Fjell had to offer at the event! My absolute favourites were Kaffeslabberas (Coffee Pale Ale 6%) and Gateway Drug (IPA 6%).  

Dessert in a Can – Amundsen

This deserves a special mention! A dark, sweet, delightful drink with notes of marshmallow and chocolate! Apparently, this is new and should be released sometime in March. I’ll have to keep checking Vinmonopolet, as I can’t wait to try this again!

 

A massive thanks to B for getting me tickets to this for Christmas ❤ I had a wonderful time with him and his brother Kurt, and can’t wait to do it all over again next year!

🍻  Skål! 🍻

CDH1 Positive

It’s been 24 hours since I discovered that I have a mutation in the CDH1 gene, and what an emotional 24 hours it’s been. As soon as I read the words “The CDH1-mutation has been detected in your blood sample”, I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably.

I know a lot of people won’t understand and some may say it’s nothing to worry about – but when it hasn’t even been a week since my uncle’s funeral, the news hits even harder.

Everybody hates the C word (I’m referring to the six letter one), known as the “K-ord” in Norway. People don’t want to talk about it and I bet almost everyone has been or will be touched by it in some way during their lifetime. After the third person in my family was diagnosed with stomach cancer, doctors soon found a link and realised that a mutation of the CDH1 gene was to blame.

I didn’t know what my odds were of having the mutation since my dad hadn’t had the test done, so in August, I took it upon myself to see my doctor in Norway and was referred to the genetics department in Bergen.

5 weeks ago, I was sitting anxiously in the waiting room with Bjørnar at the side of me. We were both invited into a room with two Doctors, where we sat and talked at length about stomach cancer, genetics and the tests I could have done if the result were to come back positive. I was also told that I was the first potential case in Norway with the CDH1 mutation, so they were very excited to be meeting with me!

They told me that I would receive the results in 4-6 weeks and during this time, my family insisted the test would come back negative. I on the other hand, did try to mentally prepare myself as much as possible for the latter. After all, I knew I could potentially be opening up a can of worms!

So since I’m back in England now until late December, my next appointment isn’t until January where I will be having genetic counselling and discussing what to do next… Annual gastroscopies or to have a total gastrectomy?!

On the plus side, since I’m the first case in Norway, I can be their guinea pig! 😀

(I’ll be keeping my readers updated with my healthcare journey in Norway not only to help raise awareness, but also for my own sanity. After all, I think if I bottled it up and kept it in the dark, it would eat me up alive!)

Tid for Syden

Syden – Literally meaning “the south”, is a common Norwegian term for destinations with a warmer climate.

After visiting Pula in Croatia two years ago and falling in love with the place, the atmosphere, the wine and the friendliness of the locals, we have been itching to go back there ever since. Last year, we were focused on getting our business up and running, so we were more than ready for a vacation this summer!

Podgora

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This year, we booked to stay in Podgora in Makarska Riviera; a beautiful coastal area between Dubrovnik and Split. The weather was perfect, apart from some strong “bura wind” on some evenings! The locals explained how this usually occurs during the winter but this year, they had been experiencing it during the summer. Whilst we were there, the wind speeds were up to 65kmph (40mph)! This sounded intense at the time, but after finding out speeds have been recorded at 304kmph back in 2005, I realise my worry was just an overreaction!

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On our second day, we visited the monument “wings of a seagull” for a concert in the evening to celebrate Saint Vincent, the protector of Podgora. The monument, unveiled in 1962, is in remembrance to fallen soldiers during the second world war. There we sat in the filled amphitheatre-style seating, drank some Pivo and enjoyed some live Croatian music.

 

Wine

Last time we were in Croatia, we visited Trapan Wine Station; a vineyard in Šišan and sampled many of their delicious wines along with other brands during our stay in Istria. Since our last vacation, we found that it’s near impossible to find Croatian wine in the UK or in Norway! So we made sure to sample some more beautiful wine whilst we were there.

A few of those sampled were:

  • Pošip Čara – Dalmatia
  • Zlatan Babić – Dalmatia
  • Zlatan Opol Rosé – Dalmatia
  • Vina Laguna Merlot – Istria
  • Vina Laguna Pinot Sivi – Istria
  • Grabovac Kujundžuša – Dalmatia

Makarska

On our third day, we eventually took the bus to Makarska (three buses never turned up!) and spent the day there, relaxing in the shade before heading to Grabovac Wine Bar in Kačić Square. There we sampled five of their wines, tasted some lovely Dalmatian ham (don’t worry, I’m not referring to a black and white dog!) and cheese whilst learning some new and interesting things about wine tasting and winemaking. Whilst there, Bjørnar spoke to the winemaker and mentioned how we had been unsuccessful in finding Croatian wine back home. Despite the fact they have been producing wine for many centuries and very successfully might I add, they can only produce a fraction of wine in comparison to other countries. The winemaker explained that this was due to the fact Croatia only had 30,000 hectares planted whereas Spain for example, has 1 million!

Mystery solved!

Pivo

Another thing I love about Croatia is their Pivo! Their 2% raddlers are yummy and refreshing! However, I was a little bit gutted that I didn’t find the pink grapefruit Ožujsko this year.  😦

Split Airport

As many people know, I hate flying so it’s essential that I have a pleasant and relaxing experience in the airport to help calm my nerves. I’d already braced myself for bedlam after seeing photographs taken inside Split Airport showing how insanely overcrowded the place was. Despite this, we did manage to have a giggle about having to sit on the floor whilst drinking crappy wine served in a tiny plastic cup! 😀

Anyway, goodbye for now Croatia! We’ll be back… 😉   ❤

Road Trip to Fjørtoft

Every summer, Bjørnar and I head to Fjørtoft; the beautiful island he grew up on in Sunnmøre. In the past, we have taken the bus from Bergen to Ålesund, and then another bus, before getting on the final ferry to the island. This usually takes around 12 hours and is very draining! So this year, Bjørnar decided to drive.

The journey itself is wonderful and I am always captivated by the beautiful views of the mountains and fjords. I pack a book for the trip every time and never end up reading it because I’m either gazing out of the window or sleeping! There are 5 ferries in total throughout the journey, allowing you to stretch your legs, breathe in some fresh air and grab a bite to eat. Since I’m a fan of brunost, I opted for a brunost svele and was not disappointed! It’s safe to say my love for brunost has gone up a level. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!

Brunost = Brown Cheese  |  Brunost is a common, Norwegian name for mysost, a family of cheese-related foods made with whey, milk and/or cream.

Svele = Svele is a Norwegian batter based cake. By size and texture they may bear some resemblance to American pancakes, but are usually eaten for afternoon coffee or as a snack between meals, served with butter and either sugar or brunost, folded in half to the shape of a crescent.

 

On our way there, we stopped off at this beautiful spot at Vassenden. The water was completely still and the place was overwhelmingly peaceful and serene. It was one of those views that takes your breath away; the photographs don’t do it justice.

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We stopped off at the same spot for another photo on our way back to Bergen. It’s amazing how different it looks when the sun in shining and the water is moving.

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During our stay, we travelled to Borgund to visit Sunnmøre Museum. Here they have an open-air museum with 50 well-preserved old buildings, that display various architectural styles and lifestyles from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century.

At the museum, they also have replicas of the two Viking boats that were found in a marsh on Fjørtoft in 1940.

The largest boat is about 10 meters long with the hull made of oak. The smallest boat, almost a rowboat, was much smaller and in very poor condition. They were set down in the marsh, with the larger one filled with stone. There was no other equipment or objects in the boats, leading them to believe they were sacrificial gifts.

Sealing material in the largest boat is C-14 dated to 860 AD. The boats were built some time between 500 and 900 AD.

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Some of our days on the island were spent relaxing, sunbathing and swimming. Whenever the sun came out, we made sure to take full advantage of the weather. Especially since we’d forgotten what a blue sky looked like! 

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13835767_10154388046321079_1367001774_oLuckily there was no sign of brennmanet this year, but there were plenty of glassmanet in the sea! I initially freaked out when I saw one as I’ve never come across them before and didn’t know they were harmless! The one we saw on our final day was huge, so I took a few snaps of it in the water. Afterwards, I tried to push it far back out into the deep so that it didn’t meet the same fate as the others that had washed up along the shoreline and dried out that day.

Brennmanet = Lion’s mane jellyfish

Glassmanet = Moon jellyfish

 

Our journey back to Bergen took a little longer than anticipated due to increasingly bad weather. The closer we got to Bergen, the greyer and darker the sky became and as we approached Hordaland kommune, we were greeted by heavy rainfall and a thunderstorm directly above us! We both laughed about it… After all, we wouldn’t expect it to be any different!

A Weekend in Oslo

On this day last week, Bjørnar and I were sitting in the airport, waiting anxiously to board our plane to Oslo after seeing a small propellor plane parked at our gate. (For those of you that don’t know us very well, we are both nervous flyers and have always insisted that we would never travel by propellor plane!) So I popped a couple of diazepam, washed it down with a glass of wine (don’t try this at home) and crossed my fingers in hope that this would not be our mode of transport that day!

After thirty minutes, the small aircraft moved and a large red-nosed Norwegian plane took its place! I was very relieved and realised that I had overreacted initially since Norwegian don’t have any small propellor planes within their fleet!

Anyhow, we arrived in Oslo after a slightly turbulent 55 minute flight and made our way to Helsfyr to check into the Scandic hotel.

Our view for the next few days would be this lovely building… Skatteetaten 😀 (These are the people that collect the taxes in Norway 😉 )

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The skies were dark and grey on the Friday and the weather forecast had predicted thunderstorms and rain for the duration of our stay. Yet when we woke up on Saturday morning and opened the curtains, the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in sight!

The primary reason for visiting Oslo was to attend the wedding of Bjørnar’s sister. So after tucking into the free breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant, which by the way was amazing, we made our way back to our room to get ready for Monika’s wedding. The ceremony was held at the stunning Kampen Kirke, which had beautiful stained glass windows and decor throughout. After attending a couple of Norwegian weddings since moving here, one thing that I have learned is that they like to have a lot of speeches! I think it’s great in comparison to British weddings, as only a couple of people are expected to stand up and speak, or sometimes not at all because people feel too nervous and shy. In Norway, anybody and everybody could do a speech if they wanted to!

Before travelling to Oslo, I wanted to find if there were any local museums that we could visit during our stay and discovered that the Munch Museum was fairly close to Helsfyr. On our final day, we went and viewed some of Munch’s work along with some of Jasper Johns’ pieces.

 

Unfortunately, the museum did not have the painted version of The Scream on display 😦 We found out afterwards that this was currently at the National Gallery in Oslo.

Across from the Museum were the Botanical Gardens and the Natural History Museum. Pressed for time, we only managed to visit the greenhouses. These wonderful, old buildings were filled with an array of exotic flowers and plants.

Overall, we had a great weekend in Oslo and would have loved to have spent a few more days there to see some of the other museums and the city itself. Our flight back to Bergen on Monday evening was delayed 45 minutes, resulting in me missing the first half of the England v Iceland football game 😦 In hindsight, the flight should have been delayed much longer so I would have missed the whole game since it was so disappointing to watch! 😀

Couples Shoot

A few weeks ago, Bjørnar and I were lucky enough to have some professional photographs taken by two wonderful British photographers. Jamie, who I met a year ago when he was the photographer at my cousin’s wedding in England, had made arrangements to travel to Bergen and do a styled shoot with some models, and asked if we would like to have a couples shoot.

Despite never doing anything like this before, the offer was too good to refuse! After having my hair and makeup done by two lovely Norwegian ladies, we headed to the botanical gardens in Milde.

Hair by Seline: Facebook   Makeup by Jessica: Facebook

After having a week of sunshine and high temperatures, the weather was quite the opposite that particular day!  Luckily the rain held off though, but my choice of footwear could have been better! I was constantly sinking into the mud with my stiletto heels! Throughout the shoot, Jamie made us feel comfortable and directed us so that we knew what to do.

0001 - Stacey + Bjonar  - IMG_0244 - Jamie Sia Photography_Stomped by Jamie Sia Photography

0008 - Stacey + Bjonar  - IMG_4356 - Jamie Sia Photography_Stomped by Jamie Sia Photography

 

Photographs above taken by Jamie Sia Photography    Facebook    Website

Afterwards, we also had the pleasure of having some more photographs taken by the lovely Elly; one of the models for the styled shoot.

Photographs below taken by E.L Hitched    Facebook    Website

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Overall, the outcome was fantastic! We had a wonderful day and now have a lovely set of photographs that we can cherish for a long time.

Make sure to check out both Jamie’s and Elly’s websites to see their amazing portfolios. ❤

Money Money Money

I may have lived overseas for almost 3 years, but one thing I didn’t do before relocating was to close my english bank account. For me, it just seemed easier to keep it open just incase I ever move back. Plus, I use my card whenever I visit home and I also pay my masters degree loan from that account every month.

When I first moved here, I thought the only two options I had to transfer money to my english account were through my Norwegian bank account (which is expensive) or through PayPal (time consuming and difficult). For the first few months, I used PayPal until I came across TransferWise.

I’m not really sure how I discovered it, I think I just stumbled upon it when searching for a more efficient and easier way to do my monthly transfers! Anyway, I did a little bit of research into it first as I’d never heard of it before, and found that it was developed by the same people at PayPal. (So far so good…)

After signing up, another thing that appealed to me was their interface, which is very user-friendly and modern (another great thing to have when transferring money as it makes things so much easier!)

I’ve been using this service since December 2013 and so far, I have transferred £9700 and saved £225 in fees!

It’s easy and free to sign up! If you use the following link, you receive your first transfer up to £500 for free.

transferwise.com/u/95fb

Reasons to use TransferWise:

  • Free to sign up
  • Low fees compared to your bank
  • Fast transfers
  • Supports many different currencies
  • Great customer service (Respond quickly and are very helpful)
  • Easy to use interface
  • Cheaper than PayPal

If you have any questions about how to use this service, I would be happy to try and assist 🙂

My review and opinions expressed here are my own and based on my experience with TransferWise. I am not affiliated with the brand nor do I endorse them and they do not endorse me. I am not paid for my review.

17. Mai – Gratulerer med dagen!

The 17th May, also known as Norwegian Constitution Day, is an official national holiday that is celebrated all over the country. The Constitution was signed in 1814 and declared Norway to be an independent kingdom.

Despite me being in Bergen for almost 3 years, this was my first time celebrating it here so I was very excited!

We arranged to celebrate the 17th with some of my expat friends, so I decided to bake a “marsipankake” for the day. I’ve never been quite fond of baking as I find it quite stressful and as I expected, It didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped! My sponge base didn’t rise very much at all, so I had to run out to the shop to buy more eggs to bake another one! The second didn’t rise either but I managed to salvage the cake by putting the two sponge layers together. Recipe: Marsipankake

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On the morning of the 17th, after having our champagne breakfast, we made our way into the city centre to watch the parade. The streets were lined with thousands of people, many of whom were wearing their traditional “bunader”. Bergen has its own traditions for the parade, that includes comic troupes, various local organisations, a children’s parade, and the unique “buekorps”. It was a great experience from start to finish, and we were lucky that the weather held out.

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After the parade had ended, my friends and I came back to our place and we continued the celebrations by drinking prosecco and vodka, eating “pølse” and “kake”, attempting to sing the Norwegian national anthem, and dancing to music until late!

Translations

Marsipankake = Marzipan Cake

Bunader = Traditional Norwegian Costume

Buekorps = Traditional marching neighbourhood youth organisations in Bergen

Pølse = Sausages (similar to hot-dogs)

Gratulerer med dagen = Congratulations with the day