Takayasu’s Arteritis: Rare diseases Day 2021

Hey pals,

I wasn’t diagnosed last Rare Diseases Day, so I really wanted to grasp the chance to talk about my Takayasu’s Arteritis with you on my blog. I’ve mentioned bits and pieces here and there like on Instagram or my Youtube Channel, but here I’m going to go into what Takayasu’s is and what that means for my daily life. I also have a selection of other Diagnoses which affect my treatment and flares, so I may talk about that a bit as well.

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I don’t want to go through my story again of how I was diagnosed as it was pretty intense, I did film a video explaining it all before I was officially diagnosed that you can watch, My Doctor Didn’t Believe Me. I will also be making a video specifically about the scans I had to diagnose Takayasu’s if you are interested, subscribe to my channel.

Now, onto Takayasu’s Arteritis. Pronounced Tah-Kah-Yah-Sooz Arh-Tuh-RIE-tis. Not Arthritis, Arteritis. A rare type of vasculitis that causes blood vessel inflammation in the large vessels (mainly arteries but occasionally medium sized ones as well) it most commonly damages the aorta and is often seen in the aortic arch and the main branches off it. The aorta is the large artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body. It is also known as Pulseless Disease or Aortic Arch Syndrome as well as these are the main signs and symptoms of TAK. Easier to say as well, I guess for some people.

Takayasu’s can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries, of which I have two narrowed arteries that lead to each arm, but it can also lead to weakened artery walls that can bulge and tear which is called an aneurysm. Before I was diagnosed, I thought an aneurysm was something totally different, I thought it was like a blood clot/stroke. Takayasu’s can lead to pain in the limbs but most commonly arms, chest pain, high blood pressure, and even heart failure or stroke. Since joining some online communities for people with Takayasu’s, I’ve found that many people were not diagnosed until after a stroke or needing life saving heart surgery, if you watch my video linked above about my story you’ll see that in many ways, I got lucky and was diagnosed before something like this could happen, but not before permanent damage was already done.

Many, if not most, of us need medications to control the inflammation caused by our immune system attacking our body tissue, to prevent complications or further damage being caused.

There are two stages to Takayasu’s. Stage one can be impossible to identify, and as I was already dealing with other health issues for the years leading up to my Takayasu’s diagnosis, I don’t think I would have been able to find it earlier if I tried. Many people, but not all, will feel unwell with fatigue, muscle and joint aches and pains, mild fever which sometimes involves night sweats, and unintended weight loss. I have hypermobility syndrome and have dealt with muscle and joint aches and pains for years and years as well as fatigue. I never had a fever, I never lost any weight, but I did have night sweats on occasion. These are also symptoms of Crohn’s disease, which I was diagnosed with a year before Takayasu’s.

We were only able to eventually figure out my diagnoses because I had entered Stage 2. This is the stage that inflammation causes arteries to narrow, so less blood and oxygen and fewer nutrients reach organs and muscle tissue. Commonly signs are: weakness or pain in limbs with use, lightheadedness/dizziness/fainting, headaches or visual changes, memory problems of trouble thinking, chest pain or shortness of breath, high blood pressure, diarrhea or blood in stool, anaemia. I’ve had chronic headaches for years, the diarrhea and blood in my stool was crossed off by IBS/Crohn’s, I’ve also always had a dizziness about me often contributed to my hypermobility syndrome, my BP has never been that high and used to be relatively low… the only symptom I could go off was that my right arm hurt when I used it for anything, this is known as claudication. Washing myself, brushing my teeth, holding something, patting my dog… repetitive movement set my muscles on fire but it was often put down to hypermobility syndrome (as talked about in my video) or pinched nerves, but I had so many MRI’s, one of my entire spine, and not a single pinched nerve. I also had a nerve conduction test which came back perfect. Besides this, the only other thing I had noticed is that any time someone tried to take my blood pressure from the arm that hurt (my right arm) the machines never worked. I always had to tell them to use my left. Before my abscess draining surgery in November 2019, I’d just been having a panic attack over the cannula they were struggling to find a vein for, was sedated and was mildly aware of how much the cuff hurt my right arm and that I’d lost all feeling because it was squeezing so hard and it was lucky I managed to get out something like, “no you need to put it on the other arm, it won’t work,” before passing out. I woke up with bruises all over my right arm but they must have swapped over after I knocked out. This is what made my GP stop and think, and found I was almost entirely lacking a pulse. (This isn’t mentioned on all online resources, but it is on the Vasculitis Foundation’s page under symptoms and diagnosis.) Thanks to him, I made it to the right people and got diagnosed.

For some statistics, Takayasu’s (Also known and called TAK) is often diagnosed in AFAB people (9 out of 10 patients to be specific) but I have also come across some AMAB people too, between the ages of 15 and 40. It has affected people outside this age bracket too, but this seems to be the most common time frame. It is also more commonly diagnosed in Asian people and one study also specifically says in Latin American people. I have seen a few different estimations on how common this disease is but the Vasculitis Foundation and Rheumatology.org state 1 in 200,000 people. This leaflet says a UK study showed TAK affects 1 person per million per year, this is likely UK statistics. It also says 2 out of 10 people with TAK ‘get better’ after one episode and do not require long term treatment. It is currently understood to be an autoimmune disorder which occurs when the body’s natural defense system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissue. It is not thought to be genetically inherited but there is something thought to be within genetics and DNA that makes TAK more likely. TAK was first described by Dr Mikito Takayasu in 1908 (which I found out as I wrote this! More info on this under ‘History of Takayasu’s Arteritis’ here) For people who find videos more helpful for learning information, check out this Webinar by the Vasculitis Foundation on Takayasu’s.

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Diagnosing TAK is difficult as it shows differently in each patient. Vasculitis.org.uk has some really useful info about each scan with images so I recommend checking that out. Not everyone will have raised inflammation in their blood tests (ESR or CRP), or show active inflammation on a PETCT scan. The most accurate diagnosis is a biopsy but it is very risky to do on such large vessels as the aorta and is not usually done unless the patient is undergoing vascular surgery. In my regular physical exams, my pulse is manually checked and listened to all over my body. I’ll have you know, my left foot has a great pulse! But, next to none in my right arm. This is where the other name comes from, the “pulseless disease”, because the blood pressure and heart rate are different across limbs depending on how much damage the arteries leading to them have sustained. 90% of patients with experience one or more arteries narrowing and rendering their limb pulseless, or nearly. They also listen for sounds called ‘bruits’ which can be heard over large arteries with a stethoscope, as far as I know, I do not have bruits. You often need multiple kinds of imaging scans done for diagnosis and to find the extent of the damage done so far. An ultrasound can find narrowing in limbs and neck, MRI/As with contrast can find narrowing in the aorta within the body, PETCT is for active inflammation but doesn’t really tell you much else and needs radioactive sugar water to work which isn’t great for your body and health. There are a few other scans, but I’m not entirely sure what they are or how they work as I’ve not had them done but there are more details in the Vasculitis Foundation site under Diagnosis. Also the Wiki page on this can be helpful for people totally new to health care as it links many key terms to help with making understanding the basics of testing and body parts included easier.

When it comes to treatment, there are a few options, but the general goal is to decrease inflammation (often by suppressing the immune system) so the disease slows or stops progressing. Many people have to take steroids and find it difficult to fully come off them as their inflammation rises and their symptoms return. I am on month 9 of steroids and I am slowly tapering down. Steroids are not a fun drug to be on, I’m also planning to make a video talking about my experiences on them as this is the third time I’ve had to take them and the longest. Previous times, I’ve been on them for 1-3 months at a higher dose. Another medication family often used is Immunosuppressants. They suppress the immune system, like steroids, but have less side effects and are preferred over steroids if possible. This includes Methotrexate (often used for Arthritis, my Gran is on this as an injection) Azathioprine/Mercaptopurine (I’m on Mercaptopurine), and Mycophenolate Mofetil. I believe all of these are also known as Chemo drugs. The third family of drugs are Biologics, which I am also on and are also to suppress the immune system! Apparently, “those with severe disease who don’t respond to traditional treatments may be prescribed biologics”, but in my case, I’m relatively complex with multiple autoimmune disorders I think I had less choice. Biologics are complex proteins that target certain parts of the immune system to control inflammation. Commonly used are Tocilizumab (which I was almost put on, but apparently is very rarely use for Crohn’s patients due to complications) and Infliximab which is commonly used for Crohn’s patients as well. But I was put on Adalimumab (find out more here in this video about this drug and my personal experience) for Crohn’s before I was diagnosed (literally two months before I was diagnosed) so we decided to just keep it up and see how I went and in September we upped my dose to weekly instead of every two weeks, and then changed the brand from Imraldi to Amgevita as my Rheumatologist had been doing some reading of research for TAK and Adalimumab. In April, it will be my 1 year on Adalimumab and I’ll be making and posting an update video to my channel. Some people also need drugs to lower Blood Pressure/Blood Thinners to help reduce the risks of blood clots. The other option is surgery, which is reasonably risky. If you have surgery with active inflammation, it is likely to not work permanently and possibly occult (block) again, but many people have to have surgery because it is life or limb threatening. I’ve been told that if I start to permanently lose feeling in my right arm and it starts to look very weird (yellowy translucent because there’s no circulation) I need to contact the Vascular surgeons for emergency surgery to save my arm. It can also be to repair aneurysms. There are also Revascularisation surgeries where a blocked artery is bypassed, usually with a vein graft from somewhere else in the body, usually a leg. I follow someone on Instagram who had this surgery, Susana Ramírez from Spain. There are also Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty (PTA) that aim to open narrowed arteries by inserting an inflating balloon to stretch the narrowed section, which I think Susana has also had. The Vasculitis.org.uk site has a lot of really detailed information on that the other sites I have used lack so I highly recommend looking at this site if you want to do further, detailed reading. The Rare Diseases site has some information on clinical trials as well, for meds and TAK.

Due to the nature of these kinds of medications, there are things you have to be careful of and keep an eye on. Lowering the immune system can make you more prone to contracting colds and flus which is why I’ve had to be extra careful during the pandemic as I am more likely to catch it but also have complications that threaten my life. There is potential for bone loss (especially with steroids) which is why I’ve spoken to an NHS dietician and now take a high dose calcium vitamin as well as vitamin D (helps the body to absorb the calcium). You need regular check ups with your doctors to keep an eye on these things. You can also become anaemic, which I was briefly the year before I was diagnosed with TAK for 4 months I was on a prescribed high dose of iron tablets and continue to take store bought. We are also recommended to get the flu jab, pneumonia vaccination, and/or shingles vac, as this helps reduce the risks. We cannot take LIVE vaccines so if we want to travel somewhere that often needs a LIVE vaccine before you go, you have to have a chat with your doctors about this. I’ve not had the chance yet as I was diagnosed early in the Pandemic.

The main team for people with TAK are Rheumatologists (joints, muscles, immune system) they are in charge of your meds, a Cardiologist (heart doctor) I don’t yet have one of these, and a Vascular surgeon (veins and arteries) who I do have and have met a couple of times, this was the man who sent me for the ultrasound that found the narrowing and really started the diagnosis process. My vascular surgeon discharged me but said that I can contact his secretary if there are any urgent worries that may need surgery. I also have my Rheumatologist’s secretary’s email to send her direct emails about new symptoms incase they are linked to my TAK or my other conditions that are also managed by Rheumatologists (hypermobility syndrome and fibromyalgia). I also send her research studies that have been shared in the TAK Facebook groups I am in, as she seems to be taking an active role in researching and understanding this disease more. I found one that states Crohn’s and TAK are very similar in genetic (???) shape/appearance, sorry can’t remember the right terminology. There is a Crohn’s vaccine (called MAP vaccines) in the works that is nearly ready for the public and this could mean one for TAK could be developed if they really are as similar as it is currently thought. The vaccine isn’t a cure but it is thought to be a way of making more severe symptoms and damage, minimised and be less damaging, which is always good.

One of the less discussed symptoms is Carotidynia, pain and tenderness over the carotid arteries (in your neck) which is found in 25% of patients. I have experienced this symptom on physical exertion since my mid-teens. It becomes so painful it is hard to breathe, I have to stop what I’m doing and grip my neck. It is recommended to refrain from extreme cardio like HIIT or circuit training, as it can aggravate these symptoms too much. Exercise is recommended to continue as it can help widen narrowed arteries, or encourage the development of capillarys (small veins which can help make up for narrowed arteries with blood flow) so they recommend regular weight training and gentle cardio.

It is thought that the majority of TAK patients will continue to have relapses and remissions throughout life, but it also appears that for the majority of patients it ‘burns out’ after a period of 2-5 years. There isn’t a lot of information on this, sadly, as I would love to know more. When I was diagnosed in June 2020, I had already been experiencing active disease for two years, and this will be year three. I hope I follow this trend of burning out at 5 years but I’m also aware (because of other conditions I have) this may not be a reality and will be a lifelong condition I will have to keep an eye on and take meds for. Up to 25% of patients with TAK are unable to work due to their condition. Hello, that’s me. Or, I can’t work a traditional job due to my chronic illnesses. The mortality rate is low for TAK, with early intervention, careful monitoring and treatment. In the US and UK there is 98% survival rate of ten years. Most discussion on survival rate tends to be between 5-10 years from diagnosis, I assume this is because it is so rare and caught at such varyingly different stages it can be hard to say past 10 years. Mortality linked directly to TAK is often a heart attack, heart failure, aneurysm rupture, stroke or kidney failure. Not everyone with TAK will find steroids helpful for their condition, and due to having been on two high dose short term courses in 2019 before my TAK diagnosis, I could give a definitive answer to my Rheumatology team that steroids definitely helped the pain in my arm, which is a good thing.

Having Crohn’s and TAK at the same time is good and bad. Good, as there are a few meds that are used for both diseases. Bad, because there are meds for each disease that don’t work for the other, or worse, cause harm. One biologic used in TAK can cause bleeding in the colon for Crohn’s. So I was lucky to be put on the meds I was put on. Adalimumab is less often used in TAK but it has been used and not caused further harm. We are seeing how things go. Aspirin is also commonly used in TAK but having Crohn’s means I can’t take this drug either as it is a NSAID which can aggravate Crohn’s and cause inflammation and bleeding. My Gastro consultant said to me that once you have one autoimmune disorder, you are more likely to develop others, so even though TAK is rare it isn’t entirely a surprise. Also, my Gran has a couple types of vasculitis (Polymyaldia Rheumatic, she may also have a Large Vessel Vasculitis like TAK called Giant Cell) which means my genetics could have been predisposed to developing something similar and it was just the way the shuffle of DNA landed. Funny enough, the Wiki page for TAK actually has quite a detailed section on the genetics with linked references.

erythema nodosum
ID: Artie’s legs, three angles from the knee down, showing many round dark bruises. Erythema Nodosum July 2019.

As you may be able to tell, this information is spread about across different sources. None of them are the exact same, and many of them miss things from their lists. My first searched before I knew I had TAK was on the NHS site under Vasculitis. This one mentioned painful, numb or cold limbs which was the first time the idea of limb temperature came up, it’s not really mentioned anywhere else and I’ve always had bad circulation to my hands and feet, they are often always cold and become so painful when it is winter and I have to go outside (walking to Uni in Feb-March was the worst, it was like walking on glass) and may have a link to Raynaud’s Phenomenon. This page also recommends the Vasculitis UK site for further info, so that’s where I went next. It is important to use references with good and trustworthy information for the beginning of your journey in understanding TAK for yourself or for a friend/family member. A page I came across as I was researching for this post is by Patient.info (the site my GP surgery uses for appointments and prescriptions so I know it is trusted) and this is the first reference to a certain pain I experience with over exertion of my arm, a ‘tenderness overlying the affected arteries’. If I push myself too hard when weight training, I feel pain over my brachial artery, which is the narrowed artery in my right arm, right above the inner elbow bend. It also mentions back pain due to Aortic involvement which I have never read before, and is more specific about the types of rashes linked to TAK. Other sources have mentioned rashes but never a specific name or description of it. This site specifies erythema multiforme and induratum. I had Erythema Nodosum in July 2019 which was thought to be my Crohn’s (as 1 in 7 people with Crohn’s develop this) but I’ve also read it can happen to people with Medium Sized Vasculitis. Muscle wasting is also not mentioned a lot, but common to happen if you stop using the affected limbs. Many people compensate for the pain by using the limb less affected, which leads to muscle wastage, another reason they do encourage continued exercise.

I know a lot of people wonder about the effects on pregnancy, I won’t lie, I do not plan to ever be pregnant and carry a child so I have not researched this myself. But there is this particular study you can check out for more information on it based in Britain. There are also a lot of posts on the Lauren Currie Twilight foundation site that include TAK, I have not read any of these yet but plan to. I share some of my emotions and feelings about my treatment and diagnosis across my socials but this post from end of August 2020 has some specifics of what I was dealing with at the time and this video where I look back on myself from a year earlier is very emotional but also very raw and depicts the emotional struggles people go through when living with chronic conditions.

Check out this post right before I was diagnosed with TAK.

There is also a debate about whether TAK and Giant Cell Arteritis are the same thing or not. Not enough research has been done, and the only difference seems to be TAK has the ability to make limbs pulseless but otherwise both do very similar things and Giant Cell seems to be more likely in older women, where TAK is often younger. Sometimes both are just called Large Vessel Vasculitis for this reason.

I hope this has been helpful in teaching you about what Takayasu’s is and what I go through with it. I would really appreciate if you donated to my Ko-Fi as I do create this content for free and this is my lived experience, I am unable to work but I love to create helpful and educational content when I have the energy and capacity. This piece is over 3,500 words with numerous references as well to make learning and further research as accessible and easy as possible. I want to help empower other people in similar positions as myself, it was hard for me to go through this only a year after my Crohn’s diagnosis, but I had definitely learned some lessons from Crohn’s and applied it to TAK. Follow my other socials for more personal anecdotes, research, and advice. I post on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. I also Stream on Twitch sometimes, feel free to follow and join in on live streams. Also consider sharing my piece to reach more people. Please check out my other pieces linked below as well.

~ Artie

they/them

Books I Predict Will Be Mediocre

Hey pals,

I’ve talked about the books I’m excited to read on my TBR, I’ve talked about the books I find intimidating, so here are the books I don’t think I’m gonna care about that much. You might think, “hey why are you still planning on reading them if you don’t think you’ll be that bothered?” Well, just in case I actually end up really enjoying any of them. I liked some of them once already, so I’m hopeful they will at least be entertaining. My unread bookshelf is busting with books, and here are some of those books.

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Moxie: Even though it seems like a book that would be my vibe, I feel like it might be somewhat ‘feminism 101’, which I think would be appropriate for the intended audience but maybe not something I would enjoy as much. When I read books, I do take into consideration who the audience is when reviewing or giving my opinions. So, even if I do decide it wasn’t for me, I will let you know if I think it is suitable for the audience and could provide good content for them.

Maze Runner: I’m actually so sure I won’t be that bothered by this series, that I sold off the two later books of the series. A booktuber I just started getting into put this in a really good way but I’m going to butcher it by trying to explain now, but when it comes to dystopian book series I really enjoy book 1 where all the world is being set up and enjoy the rest of the books less. I enjoyed the first film, but the second one was pretty tragic, though I think the book would be better I think it is pretty telling of what the plot will be like. So, I want to read book one, mainly to experience this writer and this series in a new way, but I don’t have much hope for the later books.

Potion Diaries: This is a book I’ve put off reading and moved about between my TBR shelves and my Unhaul pile. I like the sound of the plot and the character, but I know it is going to be very straight even though there is a perfect sapphic plotline right there.

Marilyn Monroe biog: I think both Biographies of Marilyn I own are written by men, so they might be mainstream factual but they probably won’t wholly encompass the emotion of living life as Marilyn as they are less able to put themselves in her position. I also tend to enjoy the Celebrity History when it’s discussed in more of an open “we don’t know what actually happened, but here are some theories and the evidence to back them up”.

Kurt Cobain biog: Whilst I will say, same as above, I also feel like Kurt’s regularity of wearing dresses will probably never be mentioned and never discussed further like why he chose to wear dresses and make-up: was it a possible gender exploration? or more of just general rebellion as he is the frontman of one of the biggest alternative/grunge bands the world knows? I dunno, and the book probably won’t think about it.

The Body Book Cameron Diaz: It’s probably gonna be boring, I won’t lie. It’s about food and macros and other nutrition shit. Which is something I want to continue developing my understanding of, but it’s not exactly fun reading. She might make it interesting, who knows but I doubt it.

Nausea: I picked this up, not having a clue who Sautre was. Now I’ve heard his name a few times and a vague idea of what his work is like. Probably pretentious and whiney. I want to give reading this book a go, but this is what I’m expecting.

Virginia Woolf book: Besides knowing she was a racist, I dunno if her work is going to be my vibe in general. I’m not a classics book reader really at all. I feel like she is considered a classic writer. Just gonna have to give it a go.

Jacqueline Wilson books: As I can confirm after reading Girls In Love, I feel like I’m going to be semi-underwhelmed by the other books I have by her. The only good thing she had going for her stories was that she often depicted a range of family dynamics and gave kids in the less mainstream family situation something to see themselves in. But, they are all still straight and white and cis and I don’t remember any disabled family members or main characters so… this is why I think I’ll be underwhelmed.

Kisses by an angel: A lot of the YA supernatural romances for women I’ve gone back to always leave a sour taste in my mouth, whether it’s because of very outdated views (which, yes, somehow still sneak into the plots of SUPERNATURAL books) or the main characters have way less charm than I remember. I’m not sure I liked this one much as it was back in 2010.

There were more on this list, but I didn’t really know what to say for them all. So, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see if I talk about any of them. I have decided I want to do semi regular reading Wrap up videos this year, just to keep more detailed up to date log of what I read in 2021 and then at the end of the year do more themed videos like my favourite books or the worst books, etc. Don’t forget to follow my channel for videos on books, I recently put out a video of Book Recs with Bi Main Characters, and also a Gender Discussion triggered by OHSHC during my Manga Reading challenge.

Please check out my Ko-fi and consider donating or sharing it out. I’ve been struggling with money since my benefits were stopped and I really want to save up to get a medical assessment done to finally get a diagnosis I’ve been thinking about for the better part of 2020. Also my Facebook for art you can buy from me. Or my Depop for secondhand items. Check out my Bookshop lists if you’re looking to buy a book as you will support me and indie bookshops when you buy that way! This list are books I am really excited to get to reading in case you want some help!

Leave a like and a comment, I’ll see you next week for Rare Diseases day!

~ Artie

They/them

February TBR for LGBTQ+ History Month

Hey pals,

February in the UK is LGBTQ+ History Month (In the U.S it’s Black History month so I’ve also added a couple of books for that theme too) I rarely stick to TBRs but I felt like it might be a good idea to talk about some of the LGBTQ+ books I own and still have to read, and direct you to other posts I’ve made here and on my channel about LGBTQ+ books I have already read. Check out my most Recent video, my January Reading Wrap Up!

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Check out my Bi Main Character book Rec List!

My TBR February 2021

Queer: A Graphic History: Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking nonfiction graphic novel. From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged. Along the way we look at key landmarks which shift our perspective of what’s ‘normal’ – Alfred Kinsey’s view of sexuality as a spectrum, Judith Butler’s view of gendered behaviour as a performance, the play Wicked, or moments in Casino Royale when we’re invited to view James Bond with the kind of desiring gaze usually directed at female bodies in mainstream media. Presented in a brilliantly engaging and witty style, this is a unique portrait of the universe of queer thinking.

Sub Rosa: In this stunning, Lambda Literary Award-winning debut novel, Amber Dawn subverts the classic hero’s quest adventure to create a dark post-feminist vision. Sub Rosa‘s reluctant heroine is a teenaged runaway named “Little”; she stumbles upon an underground society of ghosts and magicians, missing girls and would-be johns: a place called Sub Rosa. Not long after she is initiated into this family of magical prostitutes, Little is called upon to lead them through a maze of feral darkness: a calling burdened with grotesque enemies, strange allies, and memories from a foggy past. Sub Rosa is a beautiful, gutsy, fantastical allegory of our times.

Trans Britain: Over the last five years, transgender people have seemed to burst into the public eye: Time declared 2014 a ‘trans tipping point’, while American Vogue named 2015 ‘the year of trans visibility’. From our television screens to the ballot box, transgender people have suddenly become part of the zeitgeist. This apparently overnight emergence, though, is just the latest stage in a long and varied history. The renown of Paris Lees and Hari Nef has its roots in the efforts of those who struggled for equality before them, but were met with indifference – and often outright hostility – from mainstream society. Trans Britain chronicles this journey in the words of those who were there to witness a marginalised community grow into the visible phenomenon we recognise today: activists, film-makers, broadcasters, parents, an actress, a rock musician and a priest, among many others. Here is everything you always wanted to know about the background of the trans community, but never knew how to ask

Human Enough: When Noah Lau joined the Vampire Hunters Association, seeking justice for his parents’ deaths, he didn’t anticipate ending up imprisoned in the house of the vampire he was supposed to kill—and he definitely didn’t anticipate falling for that vampire’s lover. Six months later, Noah’s life has gotten significantly more complicated. On top of being autistic in a world that doesn’t try to understand him, he still hunts vampires for a living…while dating a vampire himself. Awkward. Yet Jordan Cross is sweet and kind, and after braving their inner demons and Jordan’s vicious partner together, Noah wouldn’t trade him for the world. But when one of Jordan’s vampire friends goes missing and Noah’s new boss at the VHA becomes suspicious about some of his recent cases, what starts off as a routine paperwork check soon leads Noah to a sinister conspiracy. As he investigates, he and Jordan get sucked into a deadly web of intrigue that will test the limits of their relationship—and possibly break them. After all, in a world where vampires feed on humans and humans fear vampires, can a vampire and a vampire hunter truly find a happy ending together? 

The Picture of Dorian Grey: Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

The Great Gatsby: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story is of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his new love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Black Kids: This coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots. Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year. Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids. As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

Who Do You Serve? Who Do You Protect?: What is the reality of policing in the United States? Do the police keep anyone safe and secure other than the very wealthy? How do recent police killings of young black people in the United States fit into the historical and global context of anti-blackness? This collection of reports and essays (the first collaboration between Truthout and Haymarket Books) explores police violence against black, brown, indigenous and other marginalized communities, miscarriages of justice, and failures of token accountability and reform measures. It also makes a compelling and provocative argument against calling the police. Contributions cover a broad range of issues including the killing by police of black men and women, police violence against Latino and indigenous communities, law enforcement’s treatment of pregnant people and those with mental illness, and the impact of racist police violence on parenting, as well as specific stories such as a Detroit police conspiracy to slap murder convictions on young black men using police informant and the failure of Chicago’s much-touted Independent Police Review Authority, the body supposedly responsible for investigating police misconduct. The title Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect?is no mere provocation: the book also explores alternatives for keeping communities safe.

Check out my video on a Manga triggering my Dysphoria

For other LGBTQ+ Recommendations, I posted this video during Pride Month last year. I will also be posting a video next week all about books featuring Bisexual Characters, if you’d like to check that out, give my channel a sub. I also wrote this list of Sapphic books I’d like to read sometime last year, and recently books I would like to read more of this year.

If you are looking to learn more about LGBTQ+ issues, I have many posts you can check out. I had a talk about androgyny on my channel, the importance of same gender dance couples, I also discussed the first two Harry Potter books with an analytical point of view, I also posted about being in LGBTQ+ productions and why it is really important to pay marginalised actors for their labour, and I read Heartstopper for the first time. On my blog, I wrote about Elliot Page coming out and the reporting of trans news, how to be a better trans ally, reviewed Cemetery Boys which was the first Own Voices Trans book I read, wrote about the historic LGBTQ+ sites around the world, and made numerous lists about Queer content available online (specifically Netflix) for you to check out at your leisure.

I would also like to ask that you consider making donations or sending money to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people this month. There are many people (including myself) struggling with money and fundraising for life saving things, from shelter to medications and surgeries. Directly donating to an individual makes more of a direct impact than donating to a charity. You can tip me on Ko-Fi and find many crowdfunding pages on twitter and a few on the comments of my blog post on Trans Allyship. Also, there are millions of posts tweeted daily, I often RT them so check out my Twitter page for more.

~ Artie

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54 Books I Haven’t Read in 10 Years

Hey pals,

This is a very specific blog post list, but it’s something I wanted to share and discuss! I did mention these books in my All The Books I Own and Still Haven’t Read video. But I didn’t go into a lot of detail, because the video had roughly 150 books mentioned. I did recently go through the book series I want to try to complete this year, if that’s more your thing. So, I shall go into them more now. I’m going to try to give a summary based on my memory alone, I think it would be interesting to come back to this post after reading them again and see how much I remembered and if I was correct.

YA/Kid Lit

Contemporary : I did a video reading a mixture of Contemporary YA I have never read before, but also some re-reads. Feel free to go check out that video, I do mention the Georgia Nicolson series in it and why I am less excited to re-read that right now.

Georgia Nicolson Series: Georgia is a knobbly-kneed, big chested teenager with a lot of sass and goes to an all girls school. All the boys find her funny, all the girls find her funny. But none of the boys she’s interested in are interested in her (sort of).

Withering Tights, The Taming of the Tights, A Midsummer Tights Dream: Georgia’s cousin, who I think is a lanky theatre gal with long black hair, goes… to Yorkshire? Somewhere up in England, where the Moores are. It’s a modern day Wuthering Heights (which I have never read, she just names a bunch of people after the characters and compares things to the book, I don’t know) Doing a performing arts course away from home, again with a bunch of girls, it’s like there are no co-ed schools in this universe… I don’t think the series ever got an end as the author died. I think this series is a “read one more time, unhaul” kind of thing.

Midnight: Mmm lets see, another girl with long dark hair, gothic vibe, but kid version. I think she’s called Violet. Something about fairies? Errr yeah I really don’t know.

Diamond Girls: Honestly no idea. I think it’s a family of a lot of sisters and a young kind of unstable mum. The girls have to take care of each other.

Clean Break: Parents break up, I think the mum moves her and the kid(s?) away and the kids wonder why their dad doesn’t call/care… something like this?

Supernatural

Kissed by an Angel: This is a fat book like 400 pages or more. I don’t know how they filled so many pages. The main character moves to a new town after her boyfriend died in a car crash which she was also in so she is depressed, doesn’t feel like she deserves to be happy again let alone fall in love. Her dead boyfriend is an angel just chillin’ hanging out and following her around. She low key starts falling in love with a new boy and dead boy is like ‘nah fam you’re gonna die so we can be together forever’ he changes his mind and lets he live and fall for new boy the end.

Generation Dead/Kiss of Life: There’s a virus that only affects teenagers, where they died and become undead. Only the ones that die become undead, to clarify. I did start this reread end of 2020 but put it down and didn’t get back to it. Basically main character Phoebe, goth chick with long black hair falls for a zombie jock, her best friend Adam who is also a jock is also in love with her and has a shitty home life. Their group also had a friend that became a zombie who they don’t talk to anymore. It’s kind of a story of learning to accept zombie people and a vague commentary on the PC culture with language. I find it’s very relevant to the disabled community in the ways that zombie bodies act and look different in a selection of ways (this can be read as Neuro Diversity, Mental Illness, Physical Disabilities, etc.) and the adaptations made for them but also the language used, like I don’t think they can say zombie I think it’s like the living impaired or someshit which sounds SO SIMILAR to handi-capped and differently-abled and special needs, etc. SO I definitely want to re-read this series to be able to use this as a comparative between real life as a disabled person and what’s written in this book.

Lord Loss: I’m not actually sure I read this book the whole way through in the first place so I don’t really remember much but I do remember it being very creepy and people disappearing and gore. I think it is a short book and part of a series but I just want to check it out to finally decide if I think it’s a good series or not?

Vampyr Legion: I think this is a ‘I’ve been sucked into a video game and can’t leave until I complete it’ book, like the Jumanji film remake but with Vampires and maybe Werewolves? Anything else? Couldn’t tell you but I remember being able to read it as a stand alone even though it is the second in a series.

haruhi fujioka OHSHC
Haruhi from OHSHC

Manga

I will be doing a manga marathon video if you want to be updated on what I think of these. I did also read a series last year, Chibi Vampire, you can check that video out first to see if that is something you’d want to watch again.

Ouran High-School Host Club 1-6: A Poor student Haruhi gains a scholarship to a very expensive private school, accidentally smashes a ridiculously expensive vase and is instantly recruited into the Host Club (low-key kinda a pimp club where the boys of the school romance the girls…) Haruhi is actually a girl. But now leads life a a boy at school and kinda likes it! Also I’m pretty sure several of the host club boys fall in love with her. Tamaki is always trying to make her wear femme clothes which always bothered me, but otherwise I liked him quite a lot.

Arata: The Legend 1: I don’t remember reading this but I remember reading the plot. A Princess? Doesn’t want to be a princess and somehow swaps places with a boy who looks exactly like her and has the same name.

Blue Exorcist 1-5: Rin? I think is the main character or is the twin of the main character. Main character! Is the son of satan? I guess… or a demon… their ‘father’ is Father something, a pastor who is also an exorcist. Main character joins exorcist school which he didn’t know about for his whole life because he is part demon and I don’t know they were trying to let him lead a normal life. His twin has already mastered and become an exorcist and a teacher. There’s a very clear hetero girl love interest for the main character but BUT it is manga and there is always homosexual tension. Either the pink haired dude, or the angry one he fights with a lot. Considering I owned the DVD I don’t remember a lot.

Mega Tokyo 1-5: This is a manga made by a non-native of Japan. I think it is a couple of white guys (Americans?) who moved to Tokyo and live there and have adventures. I don’t know if they actually live in Japan or if that was just the comic but the characters are based off the creator and his friends. It’s pretty straight so I think it’ll be another read again and sell/donate.

Full Metal Alchemist 1-15: Ed and his brother Al try to bring their mum back to life after their dad is a dick and pisses off. Al becomes soul in large tin suit and Ed will forever wear gloves. They have adventures to learn Alchemy, what they did wrong, to find and defeat their dad??? And try to get Al his or a body to return to. Probably one of the few times I have a straight ship I actually really Like Ed and Winny? I dunno, I said I was doing this without refreshing my memory and that’s what I’m doing. But there is a guy later on who creates homosexual tensions with Ed but I don’t know how old either of them are or if it is appropriate.

Non-Fic

Hungry by Crystal Renn: this book I mentioned in my Non-Fic Recs video too, I talk about it there so I’ll save myself the embarrassment from trying to remember what I said.

If you’re curious about what books I wouldn’t read, then check out this video My Anti-TBR. I’m thinking of bringing back my Read With Me live streams but to my Twitch, let me know if you think I should and give me a follow I’m halfway to 50 follows! I do have a lot of book related content planned still, as Lockdown in the UK doesn’t appear to be ending and even if it did I don’t know if I would feel safe doing things outside. I have a couple non-bookish things I want to try and create but it’s mainly books over here right now! Follow the blog! Follow my Twitter and Instagram. I have some blackout poetry art available for sale on my Facebook so please check it out and get in contact if you want to buy!

~ Artie

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