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My Health Woes: Clinical Depression, Dental Abscesses, The Lump and The Emergency Surgery

By Friends & Family, HealthNo Comments

Recently I’ve really not been well. Here is the saga thanks to my body that seems to be falling apart:

The Clinical Depression
Earlier in the year I struggled with severe clinical depression, before getting myself into Recovery. But this wasn’t to be the last of my health problems.

The Recurrent Dental Abscesses
Over the past few months I’ve had recurrent dental abscesses in a wisdom tooth. After several courses of antibiotics and regular Paracetamol and Ibuprofen (painkillers), the tooth had to be extracted.

Then I got a dry socket infection. It was the weekend so had to see an Emergency Dentist who prescribed me more antibiotics and recommended regular painkillers. Luckily this time the antibiotics worked and touch wood (touches bedside table), I’ve had no more dental problems.

The Moment of Panic
Next my blood sugars were off, I started to feel exhausted and generally terrible without any trigger. I went into a spiral of panic, thinking that I was getting ill with depression again. This panic only served to make me feel worse. But then a lump appeared.

The Lump – Return of the Jeff
A lump appeared on my right buttock. A bacterial infection, that I’ve had several times before. I always feel terrible before it appears.

I’ve had this lump enough times to name it Jeff and to tell close family and friends that I was going to stick some goggly eyes on it and draw a mouth using a marker pen.
I went to see by GP about Jeff. As usual I was given antibiotics. By this point, I was beginning to feel that I was living on antibiotics. But as always, I took them religiously.

Never one to miss an opportunity to get a laugh at my own expense, I spent several hours creating this on my iPad:


Could be a blockbuster.

I shared it on Facebook, forgetting that most of my Facebook friends don’t know about Jeff, so wouldn’t get the reference. But those that did laughed, so it was totally worth creating this piece of artwork.

The Hospital Admission – For Emergency Surgery


Admitted to Hospital for Emergency Surgery.

After five days on antibiotics Jeff had only seemed to get bigger – looking like he was the size of a gold ball. I was unable to sit, stand or lie down comfortably for any length of time. So I went back to see my GP.

My GP said that I needed to see a Surgeon immediately and referred me to the Surgical Team at my local hospital. He gave me a two week sick note and told me that I’d be off work for at least the next fortnight.

I went to hospital and was admitted to the surgical ward. I was reviewed by the Surgeon and Anaesthetist. It was decided that they would operate on me first thing in the following morning, with me being first on the emergency list on the account of having type 1 diabetes and having to fast.

I went up to theatre about 9am in the morning. I was put under general anaesthetic and next thing I knew I was in recovery and in a lot of pain. Thankfully I had been prescribed painkillers which were administered quickly.

After I had eaten, drank and peed I was allowed to go home with mum. She had to observe me for the rest of the day.

Wound Healing
Initially, I had to have the wound packed on a daily basis by the District Nurses. Then as the wound has got smaller, the District Nurses have been packing it every other day.

Thankfully, so far, touch wood (touches bedside table), there have been no complications such as infection at the wound site or accidental tearing of the wound.

My Experience of NHS Care
The NHS care that I have received has been superb. My GP has been exceptional. The Dentist’s have been helpful and supportive. All of the hospital staff (including the Surgical Team, Nurses, Porters and other staff) were great and efficient. Special mention must must be made of the Anaesthetist who looked after me. I felt that he genuinely treated me like a member of his family. All of the community service staff have been fantastic too.

Thank you to all the staff who have looked after, supported and cared for me this year.

I know the NHS is not perfect. But my recent experiences have been perfect.

Tough Year
2015 has been a really tough year for me health-wise. But Autumn is upon us and is a season of change. Leafs will change to bright colours of red, yellow and orange before falling from the tress. I hope my ill health falls from the tree of life, like one of these leafs and that it leads to a sustained period of good health.

Take care & I will write soon,


I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:

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TheGayUK Articles: An Interview with a Drag Queen, Hope for a HIV Vaccine, HIV Campaign: ‘It Starts With Me’, The Pride Survival Kit & Book Review

By Books & Authors, Creativity, Gay, Health, JournalismNo Comments

TheGayUK‘s theme this month is Pride. The articles I’ve written this month are: An Interview with a Drag Queen, Hope for a HIV Vaccine, HIV Campaign: ‘It Starts With Me’, The Pride Survival Kit and this month’s Book Review. Some of these articles have been submitted, but not yet published – so here’s your chance to read first.

An Interview with a Drag Queen

Wayne Wright Miss Levi Benidorm Wayne Wright (left) is Benidorm’s longest serving British Drag Queen, better known as Miss Levi. I got the opportunity for a chinwag with Wayne about how Miss Levi was born, what she’s like, what she’s up to and her future.

For those of you who’ve never seen Miss Levi’s show, it features elegant dancing, good lip-syncing, a dazzling array of costumes and laugh-out-loud comedy. People who’ve seen the show describe is as a highlight in their holiday. He definitely leaves his audience wanting more, as many return to see his show again, year after year.

Let’s start with the most important question of all: How did you end up working a frock for a living?

Miss Levi Benidorm Well…I was a Red Coat and I used to do the comparing. I was playing Jack in Jack and the Bean Stalk, and one night after the show the boss came back stage and said:
‘Wayne, you have to compare tonight in Stardust.’
I said: ‘I can’t it’s ladies night.’
He said: ‘I know. You’re wearing this.” And handed me a cushy velvet dress, a stupid big red wig and some shoes that were three sizes too small and that was the start of Miss Levi.

Was this when Miss Levi was born?
Yeah…I suppose it was. It went down very well so they asked me to do it every week. Well they didn’t ask you when you were a Red Coat they told ya.

So you were forced into it? Against your will?
Wayne laughs before explaining:
When you were a Red Coat in those days you didn’t question it. There were twelve Red Coat staff and five thousand people who wanted to be them. It was like having the winning lottery ticket.

How did you come up with the name Levi?
My great granddad’s name was Thomas Levi Griffin. I thought Levi’s universal; it’s male and female.

Miss Levi Benidorm How would you describe Miss Levi to somebody that’s never met her?
Levi’s down to earth, up for fun, very proud of her roots and a bit of a flirt.

OK she’s a tart… Wayne laughs, before asking: Isn’t she?

Then Wayne adds:
Someone once said to me: she’s wittier than Simon Cowell and sharper than Judge Judy.

How did you and Miss. Levi end up in Benidorm?
Well…I did it as a Red Coat and then I became Levi The One Man Show, warming up for the big acts. Then I got offered major work by this big agent in Bradford, but needless to say I never got an ounce of work. All false promises but I was young and naive.

So I ended up working in a nursing home in Bradford with a woman called Philly. I reported this Nurse abusing patients and a lot of the workforce wouldn’t speak to me. I didn’t care as I did the right thing. Philly still did and she said to me:
‘Oh Levi, Wayne, get to Benidorm. There’s people like you there, you’ll have a better life there.’

So one day, I walked out of my job, booked a ticket and here I am.

When you’re getting ready for a show, at what point do you transform and become Miss Levi?
Only when I hit the stage, Wayne answers instantly before adding: Never before. Never after. She comes to life literally on stage that night.

Do you ever worry that she’s not going to turn up or that the transformation won’t happen?
Oh no… she’s a professional. She’s old school, she’ll always turn up.

I don’t ever even think about the show until I’m on stage, because when you’re doing live comedy, you’ve got to go with the room. The secret to good comedy is to turn it around. Make a beautiful person ugly, and an ugly person beautiful.

Where do you get Miss Levi’s costumes?
I make a lot and then buy a lot in Thailand.

How long does it take you to make a dress?
Oh…weeks and weeks and weeks. If I wasn’t working it would probably take me about a week to make one dress.

Where can people come and see Miss Levi?
At the Showboat, the show stars at 10:30PM; Wayne says before becoming animated talking about the Showboat:

Miss Levi Benidorm We’ve got everything at the Showboat. Downstairs we’ve got two restaurants, a big terrace (for sitting outside and enjoying the sun), take away food and a cabaret room that seats two hundred and eighty three people. You can come and have a meal with a show, then there’s disco and karaoke afterwards.

Upstairs in the top bar we’ve got a pool table, a dartboard, big screen televisions and even a Jacuzzi! The Showboat can also be booked for private parties like gay weddings, straight weddings, birthdays.

What’s Benidorm got to offer visitors?
Benidorm’s absolutely wonderful, there’s something for everybody. You’ve got your gay section, your straight section – which a lot of the gays go to. Gay people don’t have to go to gay bars in Benidorm, they can go anywhere.

There’s so much entertainment, Wayne says before counting on his fingers: you’ve got beaches, British restaurants, French restaurants, Italian restaurants. You’ve got fast food, bingo halls, you’ve got everything in Benidorm. It’s cheap too.

Well it’s free entertainment, wherever you go. There are no door charges. It’s the cheapest lager in Europe, Wayne adds.

What’s the future for Miss Levi?
Erm…to keep going. I have no plans to retire.

What do you think will happen in Benidorm in the future?
It’s going from strength to strength at the moment. It’s just hours away from the UK and it’s so cheap, you can get a breakfast for two euro. So I think it will continue to do well with the Brits.

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Here is what I learnt from writing this article:

  • The format of an interview article.
  • How to use Vod Burner (available on both Mac & Windows) to record Skype calls (both video and audio), meaning I didn’t have to write copious amounts of notes.
  • That the important thing for the writer is interesting and open questions.
  • That the interviewee does most of the work for you, very little imagination needed to write up an interview.
  • That editors occasionally change their mind. This was due to be published this month under the theme of Pride & Drag. But the Drag element has been dropped and instead will be published in August.

NEWS: Hope for a HIV Vaccine

Image Credit: 2edeveloperteam @ flickr

(Image Credit: 2edeveloperteam @ flickr)

The International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) announced last week that they are starting a clinical trial for a HIV vaccine, based in London and two centres in Africa.

Laboratories in London – UK, Kigali – Rwanda and Nairobi – Kenya will recruit 64 healthy HIV-free adults for phase one of the trial that is expected to last for two years. Volunteers will receive two vaccines and not be at risk of catching HIV.

HIV affects 34 million people worldwide, of which there are 96,000-100,000 in the UK. HIV is found in bodily fluids and people are usually infected by: unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive, reusing injecting equipment that has been used by someone who is HIV positive or transmission from mother to baby.

HIV attacks the immune system in the affected individual, weakening the body’s ability to fight other infections and diseases. You can find out more about HIV on the NHS Choices Website. Over the last few decades there have been massive advances in treatment; that have focused around slowing down the damage HIV causes to the immune system.

IAVI have admitted that the clinical trials are in their early stages. Clinical trials usually take at least 10 years and usually cost billions of pounds. There are many on-going research projects focused on trying to create a HIV vaccine. So it’s likely that there wont be an effective HIV vaccination for at least a decade.

Jason Warriner, Clinical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, when asked about IVAI’s clinical trial said:
‘We welcome investment in the search for a vaccine against HIV. This research is in its very earliest stages. Clinical trials take several years to complete and, even if the vaccine passes this first stage of tests, more research will be needed over the course of many years.’

‘Although an HIV vaccine has so far remained stubbornly out of reach, we now understand how to prevent transmission better than ever before. A combination of widespread condom use, regular testing for HIV, and getting those with the virus onto the right treatment, could drastically reduce HIV within a generation.’

A HIV vaccine would protect people from catching HIV and would most likely be administered to those in high risk groups including gay men. The ability to prevent people from catching HIV would be a significant step forward in the fight against HIV; as it would stem the number of people becoming infected.

For those that are already HIV positive, the vaccine will not be a cure. It is likely that they will have to continue with their treatment. However people who are HIV positive should take hope from the fact that there’s a number of on-going research projects looking into potential cures for HIV, and ways to reverse some of the damage HIV causes to the immune system.

While we wait for a HIV vaccine, health professionals continue to recommend that gay people use condoms when having sex and that they are regularly tested for HIV at least once a year.

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Here is what I learnt from writing this article:

  • Formatting of a news article.
  • Writing to a tight deadline.
  • Creating my own angle, especially when the topic’s been written about before in other press outlets.

HIV Campaign: ‘It Starts With Me’

Health Protection Agency has given two years of funding to the Terrence Higgins Trust to deliver the ‘It Starts With Me’ HIV Campaign. This campaign focuses on three aspects: Test, Treat and Protect.

'It Starts With Me' HIV Campaign Image

Did you know that 8 out of 10 gay men get HIV from a man that doesn’t know that he’s got it? Or that 100,000 people in the UK have HIV but don’t know it? If these aren’t good enough reasons to encourage you to get a HIV test here are some more: regular testing gives you piece of mind, it’s free, confidential and convenient.

You can arrange an appointment at your local sexual health clinic or even do a test through a postal kit. Jake Simpson recently reviewed the home testing kit. ‘It Starts With Me’ campaign even has a ‘Do I need an HIV test?’ Questionnaire, answer five quick and easy questions to establish if you need a HIV test. Earlier testing helps get quicker access to treatment for those that are HIV positive.

A better understanding of HIV has led to treatment that gives a HIV positive person a feeling of better health and a longer life. According to ‘It Starts With Me,’ earlier treatment can extend your life expectancy by about 10 years; equally delaying testing and starting treatment can cost you 10 years of your life.

The Campaign video (below) says that treatment stop the spread of HIV by reducing amount of HIV in a HIV positive person’s blood stream to an ‘undectable level’ meaning that they are unlikely to pass on HIV. Watch the video here:

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The Department for Health, Terrence Higgins Trust and all other sexual health organisations recommend the use of condoms when having sex. Condoms are the best way to Protect against HIV, especially when 8 out of 10 gay men get HIV from a man who doesn’t know that he’s got it.

Gay men 25-29 years old are most likely to test HIV positive, but HIV doesn’t discriminate on age, gender, race, sexuality or for any other reason. If you’re worried about HIV you can speak to your GP, local sexual health clinic, or call Terrence Higgins Trust on 0808 802 1221. If you’ve got a sexual health question, visit TheGayUK sexual health section:

If you’ve recently been diagnosed HIV positive, the forums on: are said to be helpful along with Terrence Higgins Trust Website. There are also several bloggers who share their experience living with HIV; here are just a few of them:

Alex: HIV & Me

HIVing The Dream



Remember to get tested regularly, if you’re HIV positive to get treatment and always protect yourself using condoms when having sex. Together we can and will stop the spread of HIV.

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Here is what I learnt from writing this article:

  • That HIV treatment can reduce the amount of HIV in a HIV positive person’s blood stream to an ‘undectable level’ meaning that the spread of HIV can be stopped.
  • Sources of support for a person with HIV.
  • Discovery of several HIV blogs (added to my sidebar under ‘Blogs of Interest’).

The Pride Survival Kit


(Image Credit: Edjamacated Guy @ Flickr)

Pride season is upon us once again. Here’s a list of 13 essential items to help you to have a safe and enjoyable pride.

Pop these items in your man-bag and call it: The Pride Survival Kit.

1. Pride Map / Guide – Most offer Pride organisers offer a Pride map and guide, whether it be printed when you buy tickets or on their website online. Pop a copy in your Survival Kit and you’ll never be lost in the world of Pride or miss any of the big events.

2. Mobile / Smart Phone – These are great to keep in contact with your friends, partner or significant others at Pride. But should something go horribly wrong, in an emergency you can dial 999 and ask for the Police, an Ambulance or Fire and Rescue Services to attend.

3. Emergency Mobile / Smart Phone Charger – Your mobile’s no good if the battery has gone flat, so carry an Emergency Mobile Phone Charger. There are a variety of these devices on the market and they all have different features, such as: solar panel charging, disposable – one use only, super fast charging, etc.

4. A 24-Hour Supply of Any Medication You Take – Your transport home might be delayed or you might not get home at all. Take a 24-hour supply of any medication you take, so that you don’t miss a dose.

If you’re planning to have a drink of the alcoholic variety, check beforehand that it’s OK to mix your medication with alcohol. If you’re unsure speak to your GP or prescribing health care professional who will be able to tell you.

5. Painkillers – There’s nothing worse than being in pain to spoil your Pride mood. Take some painkillers and avoid being the member of the group who’s not in the mood because of pain.

6. Emergency Money – It’s always good to be prepared for the unexpected. Emergency money will cover costs because of an unexpected event at Pride. How much emergency money you put to one side is up to you and depends up on your circumstances.

7. Sun Protection Lotion – In the UK we have ever-changing weather; it can be pouring down with rain one minute and the next the sun is cracking flags. Taking sun protection will stop you burning and protect against potential UV damage when the sun comes out at Pride.

8. Condoms & Lube – At Pride you may meet someone and hook up with them. Whether or not you’re planning to hook up, take condoms and lube. Then if something happens you wont have to worry about the unprotected sex the morning after.

Some pubs and clubs do provide safer sex packs, but don’t rely on these. The pub may have stopped providing them since the last time you were there, or there may have been a rush and are out of stock.

Condoms & lube are provided free at your local sexual health clinic. If you are worried because you’ve had unprotected sex, the sexual health clinic can also undertake testing and offer support. For more information visit The Gay UK Sexual Health Site.

9. Bottle of Water – Staying well hydrated will protect against sunstroke (along with sun protection lotion) and will also lessen or prevent alcohol-related hangovers.

10. Safety Clips & A Spare Pair of Pants – If you’re in the Pride Parade safety clips are essential, as costumes don’t always stay together. Even if you’re not taking part in the Pride Parade safety clips are still useful to have.

We’ve all had wardrobe malfunctions at the most inconvenient of times and a safety clip or a spare pair of pants can prevent that ground-open-up-and-swallow-me-now moment.

11. Alcohol Hand Rub – Toilets, especially outdoor ones soon become unclean. Alcohol hand rub used after a visit to the toilet will keep your hands hygienic.

12. Lollipops / Sweets / Other Snacks – Keeping your sugar-levels up with lollipops, sweets and other snacks will provide your body with plenty of energy. This will mean that you can enjoy Pride to the fullest.

13. Ear Plugs – These are great if the music gets too much. They also prevent your ears from ringing or buzzing the day after Pride.

Pride is a celebratory event where we come together to celebrate our sexuality as part of who we are. Gay people throw a great party, but there’s always a potential for things to go wrong. The Pride Survival Kit if carried in full or part is likely to reduce the risk of something going wrong for you. We hope that you have a safe and truly fantastic Pride.

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Here is what I learnt from writing this article:

  • Being relaxed let’s my brain be creative and come up with ideas. The idea for this article popped into my head as I was about to step in the bath.
  • I need to allow more time to be relaxed to let my creativity flow.
  • It’s good to share an idea with others and to get listen to their suggestions. I shared my initial list of survival items with some of the other TheGayUK writers and they came back with items to add to my list. Without doubt, their suggestions have enhanced the article.

Book Review
I’ve submitted my Book Review: In His Secret Life by Mel Bossa, which is available on The Gay UK. You can Go to Top of post or Journalism page.

Write soon,


I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:

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Christmas Card Letter: 2012

By Books & Authors, Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, TechnologyNo Comments

Contact Me

Monday 19th November 2012

Dear Reader,

Another year passes us by, time flies by so quickly doesn’t it? For me this year has been a mix of passive times with periods of immense activity. In January I bought myself an iMac (see iMac Part 1 & iMac Part 2), promising myself to write creatively more often. In April I went to watch Steps to relive my youth with mum, Ian & Jodie.

(Above left to right: Ian, Mum & Jodie. Steps Logo on MEN screen. Jodie & Mum.)

In May I had two weeks of annual leave and celebrated my birthday at Alton Towers. If you’ve never been to Alton Towers…you must go; it’s a brilliant day out. During my time off I also visited Chester Zoo for Steve’s Birthday and visited Steve’s family in Hastings.

(Above left to right: Steve in Giant Turtle Shells. Two Cheetahs sunbathing. Me, Steve’s Friend & Steve in Masks at the gift shop.)

My Degree in Nursing results were released in June and I got a Upper Second (2:1) Honours. I felt a sense of achievement and a sense of relief that it was finally over after I previously had to put the final module back a year.

Sye came to stay in July for the Summer. With his arrival I felt a renewed level of motivation to get things done. He returned to Uni. in Salford in the Autumn, it was good having him to stay but I am glad that he’s back where he wants to be.

I had a day trip to Liverpool in August with my good friends Chrys & Simon. Chrys being a proper scouser (minus the accent) showed us round the beautiful city and for the first time I understood why people love the city: the architecture, the culture (music) and the seemingly relaxed nature of the people.

Just before the day trip to Liverpool I started experiencing some severe back pain. After seeing my GP I had an x-ray, was given some painkillers and was referred to Physio. My back’s still causes me some grief now, but the combination of co-codamol and physio exercises have massively reduced the amount of pain I experience.

Having continued to blog throughout the year including several book reviews, I was surprised in September when I had caught the eye of a Publicist (who works for several publishers). This Publicist, from Publishers Group UK asked me if I would review one of their books. I had a bit of a confidence crisis, as I had absolutely no confidence in my writing but Sye encouraged me to go for it. So I did…

The Publicist was that pleased with my review that he sent me another five books to read and at one point stated “a career as a book reviewer beckons!” This was a huge complement and has given me a little more confidence around my writing.

About a week or so ago, I was approached by a Publicist Manager for Headline publishers who have asked me to review a copy of Fuse the second book in a trilogy.

Among my plans for next year is to develop my writing further. But for now I’m focusing on Yule and Christmas. Things are changing this Christmas; for the first time ever Mum is working on Christmas Day, I am off work for the whole Christmas period and I am going to attempt (with Steve) to make Christmas Dinner. Ha ha should be fun at the very least.

Have a joyful festive period,

Antony, Dylan & Russell (the cats)

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Ouch…Severe Lower Back Pain

By HealthNo Comments

About a month ago I started suffering a sudden onset of severe back pain. It got so bad that paracetamol and ibuprofen wasn’t touching the pain and I couldn’t find any position to sit or lie in that would relief the pain so I went to see my GP. The pain was so bad that I felt constantly nauseous meaning I wasn’t eating, which is not good for a diabetic.

My GP thought it might be crushed vertebrae and gave me co-codamol with an appointment for an x-ray of my spine. The Co-Codamol was effective at relieving the pain but made me really drowsy. This mean’t that I was off work as wasn’t safe to drive.

(Some of the tablets I was taking.)

I didn’t agree with the doctors diagnosis of a crushed vertebrae as it is usually associated with trauma. While waiting for the x-ray results and being off work I rested my back as much as possible and the pain eased, meaning that I had to take the pain killers less often. I even managed to start getting out in the car and getting to the supermarket which was a major achievement as I had been house bound for nearly two weeks.

When the results of the x-ray came back it was revealed that my spine was fine so the GP diagnosed me with a muscle spasm. She gave me some Diclofenac as well as the co-codamol and referred me to a physio.

I’m still getting twinges of pain somedays, especially if I do a lot of walking or other physical activity. I am trying to rest my back as much as possible and be careful about not putting too much pressure on my back muscles. The whole experience has made me really appreciate my back, feel thankful of not having any spinal damage and made me more aware of the physical pain some people face in their day to day lives.

To anyone who suffers pain on a day to day basis, you are brave and I hope one day that medical advancement can lead to completely curing you of your pain.

Take Care,


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