Dr Ranj and how he helped us through the hardest times again and again.

So in my blog so far I have shared about hard times in my life how we got through them and we got through them, but there is one person who has helped us so many times and they didn’t even know that they were helping us. By making what I just saw as a ‘silly’ Tv show with a few songs and puppets they were educating my daughter they have again and again made scary times easier for both my daughter and me. The name of this guy Dr Ranj.

Dr Ranj has never met me or my family (although if I could meet him then I would shake his hand and thank him for his work) but he has been in my home nearly every day both on our TV and on our tablets. He has been educating our children in all things medical. I know it sounds stupid but a TV show and an App really has helped up and put our minds at ease. Ok its not the headlines of “Dr Ranj saved my life” that hit This Morning but to me they are just as important. I want to share just one of the many times he has helped us.

ranjThe first was a few days in the life of our third child, Michael was very ill when he was born. He was hooked up to so many machines a ventilator, feeding tubes, in an incubator and so many monitors Me and Mel were worried sick about all sorts of things; will Michael be ok, will he make it through the night, when will we get to hold him. Then came the time I was dreading letting my other kids meet Michael. I knew Andrew would be ok he was only Two he wouldn’t really know what was going on. It was Elizabeth we were worried about. she was 4, at school and starting to understand the world around her, we were worried about how she would be seeing here baby brother hooked up to all these machines fighting for his life. I was dreading it, before we went in I was fighting back tears trying to prepare her for what was going to happen. We walked in and instead of being scared she was a massive comfort, she looked at Michael and said “Daddy that’s just a nasal gastric tube its for feeding him and the incubator is just keeping him warm” (when we talk about it now she can tell me what so many of the machines do) we were gobsmacked I asked her how she knew, she told us because of Dr Ranj. I was confused at first how could a Doctor on This morning help my daughter deal with what was going on. I started to look at what she watched on TV thinking I was going to Phil and Holly talking to the TV Doctor. But no I found the TV doctor was also a children TV presenter and had a app were children can learn all about illnesses and going the doctors or hospital. By making these shows he has helped my daughter understand something scary and in a strange way put mine and Mel’s mind at rest.

This has Been just one example there are so many other times Dr Ranj has helped us I would be here all day telling you about them. His shows have even made my now nearly 6 year old daughter tell me she wants to be a Doctor she even understands my Job as a Health Care Assistant a little better because of Dr Ranj. And to all you parents who haven’t seen his show find it on Iplayer and get the CBeeBies app.

So Dr Ranj I wish I could meet you and say thanks, I wish my daughter could say thanks in fact I wish my whole family could say thanks. Because without even knowing us You have come in to our home via our Tv and made some of the most scary times of our life that little bit easier.

I know we most probably wont meet as much as I wish we could so I could shake your hand, But if you read this and I hope you do. Thank you so much for all your TV shows all the stuff on the App and the catchy tune I now have stuck in my head so I will finish by singing it why I type.

Be Happy, Be healthy And get well soon.

PS if your ever in Liverpool hook us up

PPS your tunes better than the stick song

Advertisements

I’m Back and I a talking Kangaroo care

So its been 8 months since I said goodbye for now to the PND world, I spoke about how raising awareness of PND in men had become an obsession when I started writing nearly 2 years ago I was one of only a few dads talking about our struggles and telling men we needed to talk, this was and is an important message and being one of the only people spouting this message was a big responsibility to have. And it took its toll I spent months talking about the past and my road to recovery reliving all the feelings every time I told the story. I needed to get away and focus on being me and not just The PND Daddy. Well now I am back and I’m ready to blog again, this time its going to be different though. Yes I am going to talk about PND and yes I will keep telling men the importance of seeking help when it comes to improving Mental Health. But this time I am not putting pressure on myself to write. I will write when the mood takes me and about things that matter to me. This week its Kangaroo Care otherwise known as skin to skin. This is something more and more NHS Trusts are promoting. When a mother has a baby it is encouraged that as soon as the baby is born they are put skin to skin this helps to build a bond between mother and Baby. I am not in a position to talk about all the medical benefits of having skin to skin time with your baby but Tommy’s Midwifes have a good article about how kangaroo care can help you and your baby. I can however tell you how kangaroo care helped me with my mental health.

I have to admit the first time I had skin to skin it felt very strange, Elizabeth was a few hours old, I was sitting on an chair at the hospital with my top off and a baby asleep on me. It was the most natural thing in the world but it felt just strange. I never really gave it a chance, I wrote it off very quickly as not for me. For the next few months my top stayed on and it wasn’t coming off when it came to spending time with Elizabeth. It wasn’t until after my break down I began to explore skin to skin again. I thought I might have been too late and maybe she would not take to it but I thought I would give it a go. The next time she was crying and we were struggling to settle her I took my top off and laid her on my chest, she snuggled in and fell asleep listening to my heart beat. It was the closest I felt to Elizabeth ever, I instantly had a connection and a bond. From then on we had skin to skin when ever we could. Elizabeth was more settled for it and my mood improved when ever we did it. It even worked in other ways. All 3 of my kids hated water when they were young, now only one hates water, I strongly believe skin to skin had something to do with this. When Elizabeth and Andrew were young I used to get in the bath and put them on my chest bathing them whilst they were relaxed on me. Interestingly Michael is scared of water and he is the only child I haven’t had as much skin to skin with. Maybe I need to take a leaf out of my own book and give Michael a bath with me.

I would highly recommend skin to skin to both mum and dad it is an amazing way of bonding with your Baby, it helps settle your baby quicker and your mental health will see the benefits of it. I know at times it feels unnatural but its how we cared for our kids for thousands of years and is the most natural thing ever. Give it a real chance to work past the awkward feeling an you will see the benefits.

Tony

New site.

well a big thanks to everyone who has read the blog on WordPress.Now some big news we have our own website. So from now on blogs won’t be updated on here but you can visit the new site and read the blog there. I have all past blogs as well as new ones and loads of guest blogs please visit the site regularly and maybe even join the mailing list for regular updates.

www.pnddaddies.co.uk.

 

19 week wait for treatment – just not good enough.

So I have blogged recently that both me and Mel have been struggling since Michael has been born. We have both recognised we are struggling and that we need to get some help before things got worse than they already were. We then both saw a health professional, I saw a nurse at the mental health team and Mel saw her GP we were both then referred to a health service close to where we live and we have both had phone assessment to see if we were eligible to use their service and we were both told we could be offered CBT for PND and PTSD and that we would be put on the waiting list that was around 3 months long. That was 5 weeks ago so we have spent that time trying to figure out how we make ourselves feel better and doing as much self care as possible.

mental-health

However things took a turn this week, Mel got her letter to start CBT next week, I decided today to call the service and find out when things would be moving on for me as my wife has an appointment before me when I was assessed before her and we were both offered the same service. The lady asked what we were assessed for. I explained we were both told we had PND and PTSD. The lady very quickly told me my wife had been prioritised because she had PND. Me being me explained that men can get PND and I also suffer from it so couldn’t I get the same priority. It was explained to me that they only prioritise mums with PND so I would still have to wait and the wait was another 14 weeks.

I have to admit this left me with mixed emotions. I was happy that Mel is getting help and glad she would be getting the help to be happier and start to move forward. However I was and still am jealous and a little bit angry Mel is getting help where as I am left struggling for 3 more months that’s June before I get any help. I need to get help to get better so I can be back at work and actually feel like I doing something to support my family. What about me when will I get my help?

Now before I go on I understand why Mel got prioritised and why they can only prioritise mums with PND the service is stretched right now so if they prioritised everyone then no one would get seen quicker and those in crisis would not been seen quickly. And I don’t blame the service either they have so much funding and so many people in need of help.

I blame the NHS and our government. Cut after cut has left their services short of money and short of staff leading to massive waiting lists and patients who have been brave enough to ask for help  waiting 6 months for help this is just not on. You would not have to wait 6 months to have a cancer that was killing you removed from your body. You would start treatment straight away. So why are we waiting 6 months to start treatment for an illness that is destroying the life of hundreds of thousands people? I know mental health is broad term and there is different severity of mental health illness but you wouldn’t even wait 6 month for the most minor of physical illness.

Only last week the Guardian news paper published that 271 highly vulnerable patients died between 2012 and 2017 after 706 failings by health bodies. 

This is just not good enough there are just the failing that are published.

Services are doing the best they can with the little money they have, charities like PANDAS and Tommies as well as private people like me with my facebook support page and websites like This Dad Can are also trying to support people as best we can. But we shouldn’t have to the NHS should be better equipped to support those with mental health illnesses.

Right now someone in government needs to stand up and be the voice of these people and make sure mental health services are funded correctly and that everyone get the help they need a lot quicker before more lives are lost to the horrible debilitating illness is mental illness.

 

Breaking the stigma – Why I refuse to suffer in silence.

So I have been talking about my struggles with PND for over a year and what a whirlwind year it has been. I have been interviewed for Both the BBC and ITV. Had my story written in two magazines and one national paper. Guessed blogged on a number of different blogs and worked along some national organisations as well as be on national and local radio. I know that might sound like I am raising myself up on a pedastool and trying to say look how good I am.  In truth I hate it, I would rather not have done all these interviews and spoke about what happened to me and what I am doing to change things. Every time I stand in front of a camera or sit at a mic I have to relive one of the most painful times of my life. I have to admit how I felt when Elizabeth was born and how I could not cope with being a dad and how it drove me to near destruction. The positive is I also get to talk about how I improved and raise the point that the health system is failing to support the needs of dads. When I do these interviews I open up old wounds. More worrying in this day and age, I open myself up to attack from both men and women who don’t think men can have PND or that we should suffer in silence and not be talking about our feelings. For every 100 good positive messages I get at least 20 negative and abusive messages.

When I tell people all this how each interview is draining and forces me to relive the worst time in my life and how I open my self up to abuse, I get asked why do I do that? Why not put it all in a box and move on?

The answer is simple 1 in 10 men suffer some sort of mental heath illness following the birth of there children and that figure is only based on those who have spoke out and seek help. So many dads suffer in silence. There is a stigma that needs breaking and someone has to be the one to break that stigma. The NHS is failing to support dads after they have had babies. They are failing to recognise the importance of dads and their mental heath in the life of there children. With so much focus on mum (and rightly so) but no focus on Dad.. how about we focus on the family and both parents as individuals. With up to 21 fathers committing suicide each week leaving 1,092  kids with out dads and in general dads are 5 times more likely to commit suicide than mums.  More needs to be done to get dads talking. And if me doing all these interviews gets people talking then I will happily take the stigma take the abuse and keep opening old wounds. I get people talking, help new dads and men in general realise its OK to not be be OK and encourage them to go the doctors and get help. If my speaking out helps even one dad its worth it and I will keep speaking out until the stigma around mental health is broken and men are getting the help they need.

//embeds.audioboom.com/posts/6718966-episode-57-the-pnd-daddy/embed/v4?eid=AQAAAIWjp1r2hWYA

That said here is my latest interview on Radio City talk over here in Liverpool. I have to admit I enjoyed doing this one, I always love going up the tower and seeing the views and I have wanted to get in to these studios for years and the views of my city are amazing.

Dad Hair Day

So this past week Mel has been away in Norfolk with Michael leaving me with Elizabeth and Andrew. This meant the school was my responsibility. I have to admit I nailed it this week we were never rushed and were always on time to school.

One thing this week I did realise is I am no good at doing hair.

On the Tuesday Elizabeth was in her world book day costume and she asked for her hair down so I gave it a good brush at sent her to school thinking nothing of it. That was until after school her teacher pulled me to one side and said to me if I took Elizabeth’s brush and bobble in she would be happy to do Elizabeth’s hair so she looked nice. Something Elizabeth reminded me of the next morning when she said “Daddy Please don’t forget to pack my brush and bobble so my teacher can do my hair”

Now I have also made light of the fact I cant do Elizabeth’s hair, after all I am new to hair as a man I just run my fingers through mine and do a quick bit of styling and then I’m done. I have never had to do high ponies, low ponies, pig tails, buns or had to put my hair in a double dutch so why would I be any good at hair. I even used to love sharing this hair hack using a hoover.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fshanghaiist%2Fvideos%2F10156408533566030%2F&show_text=0&width=476

However if truth be told the fact that I struggle with Elizabeth’s hair has always upset me. Friends, family, schools and Elizabeth her self are just a  few people who have made comments on my poor dad hair. No matter what I tried I Just couldn’t get Elizabeth’s hair to look good it was always full of knots and lumps and Elizabeth was always complaining it was never right out and that I cant do her hair. The more people commented the more I got down. I felt like I was missing out on this time with my daughter. Now I know its only a 5 or 10 min task but I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out on that bond. We did everything together I wanted to be able to do my daughters hair to.

I even Commented on our social media about my frustration and how I felt I was missing out. This video made by 60 Second Docs was sent to me by a friend and its changed how I feel about doing my daughters hair.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F60SecondDocs%2Fvideos%2F1461921143906007%2F&show_text=1&width=476

You see this video makes a very good point “Its not about the braid its about the bond” This is something I never thought about before I was so obsessed with getting Elizabeth’s hair perfect that I forgot how just spending 10 mins doing a Bad Dad hair style is time we can spend together talking and developing a bond. After all a bad braid is still a braid right.

Phil and Emma are now even offering classes all over the US for free teaching dads the basics of hair management and giving them the tools to feel more confident in doing their daughter’s hair. Their website has all the info you need to know about the classes and even a shop.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FDaddydaughterhairfactory%2Fvideos%2F2466896303536476%2F&show_text=1&width=560

They are even regularly sharing videos tutorials on how to do some amazing hair styles including the hack above on how to do a high pony that I have now tried and swear by when doing Elizabeth’s hair. I have tried a few more of their hair styles with a mixture of results but I am getting the hang of the basics now.

28741656_10156264463373658_1240347844_n

But most of all now when I do Elizabeth’s hair as much as I want her to look good and have nice hair. I remember those inspirational words of Phil and Emma:

“IT’S NOT ABOUT
THE BRAID
IT’S ABOUT THE BOND.”

The Importance of Self Care

In all my blogs over the past year I don’t think I have spoke much about the topic of self-care or doing things for yourself that you enjoy and find therapeutic. I talk on my twitter and on our support group a lot about how it is important to do things that make you feel good that give you time to just switch off from the world and relax. Mel likes to go on walks get out of the house and walk down to the end of the run way up a country lane and back home in a big loop. we live on the edge of a city and we have a small village a few miles away so when Mel goes on her walk she gets a chance to be in the countryside and is reminded of home and Norfolk. For me its cooking and baking. I can concentrate on something else and lets my mind switch off. Today me and Elizabeth made scones together and when she got bored I made flapjacks and a real chance to switch off and just relax.

28166922_557267314647235_3670807596384111819_n.jpg

When I bake I make far too much like I did today. I tend to make one thing then think ooo lets make something else then think who’s going to help me eat all of this.

This way of thinking led to the day I made far too many cupcakes, I was off work following my bad turn after Elizabeth was born. I had been in hospital and had done a lot of cooking as part of my therapy and had got in to baking. I was having an extremely low day so had decided to make a few cupcakes and experiment with some flavours this resulted in me making 4 dozen cakes in four different flavours.

mmmWorking from front to back we had Banana and custard that had actual custard in the middle. Next we had peanut butter and chocolate cakes, Coconut and chocolate cakes then came our crowing glory, it was every kids dream our seaside cupcake.

532162_583542798376447_2123258842_n.jpg

These were just amazing one bite and you were in sugar heaven, a blue and yellow plain cupcake to represent the colours of the sand and sea (nothing special so far) then came the best topping every incorporating everything that’s special about the sea side.  Candyfloss and popping candy icing topped with Great Yarmouth rock (it was where we were living at the time) and finished off with plenty off Sand (yellow sherbet). We made many more cake flavours including strawberry and cream and a champagne cake but the four above were always our favourites. We also made a few birthday cakes including this Angry Birds Cake.

13239374_1119328868131168_8689289830031983800_n.jpg

All this baking led me and Mel to try our hand at having our own stall in the local market for a few months but it just sucked all the fun out of making cakes and made it so stressful so we gave up the stall and stopped baking for a while until the fun came back and we enjoyed baking again. Now once again we love making cakes. cookies, scones and bread and for me it is my way of switching off.

564569_592304977500229_1631963016_nSo why am a writing this? Its not to tell your get baking, start a business or even deter you from turning a hobby into a business. I am writing this blog to remind you of the importance of self care of finding that thing that you enjoy and that helps you switch off and do it as much as you can. Looking after your kids is so important as is looking after a home and making sure everyone is happy and healthy. However you can’t do any of that if you don’t look after yourself so once a week take some time out and do something for you with just you and if you have a partner let them do the same. It doesn’t have to be anything special and you don’t have to spend hours doing it just find that one thing you enjoy and take the time to do it. Honestly you and your family will feel better for doing this one little thing just for you.

And if you still don’t feel like a cake after all those pictures here is a few more of my creations just to make your mouth water.