Thursday, 22 March 2018

The New Normal

I have got into the habit lately of saying "We''ll do that when everything is back to normal." "We'll go there when all this is behind us." I had my first appointment at The Royal Marsden Hospital this week and was thinking it when I was on the way there. I was quite nervous about the appointment but I shouldn't have been it was a really nice place and everyone was so friendly and kind. I was sitting in the consulting room waiting for the consultant and staring at a print that was on the wall. It was of a wildflower meadow with a stile leading through to a field. It was such a pretty picture I imagined myself running through the meadow, jumping over the stile and walking across the field with my dogs. I'll do that when all this treatment is over I thought.
   I had a long chat with the consultant who explained all the treatment I would have. None of it sounded too terrible but what shocked me was the length of time it was all going to take. I would be having regular blood tests and scans after the treatment and if my blood levels change I may need more treatment. After five years I will not be monitored so often. Five years! That was a long time to wait to run through a wildflower meadow and jump over a stile!
   It has made me realise you can't wait for life to get back to normal, what ever that is. This is my normal now, my new normal. You can't waste any time in life by not doing the things you want to do. I have decided I am not waiting for a date in the future to do the things I want to do. I'm going to do them now in between the scans and the treatment and enjoy every minute. Well I'm off now to look for a meadow to run through and a stile to jump over!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Sitting By My Window

I want to thank people so much for the kind comments left on my last post about my Mum. I still feel a bit too emotional to answer them all but they have meant so much to me. It is incredible to think of people, I have never met, all over the world who have thought of us and left such kind comments. I can't say how much it has helped.
   It was a beautiful sunny day last week, when we said goodbye to Mum, abnormally warm and sunny for a February day which was so fitting. All our family came together from all over the country and it was a lovely day, a true celebration of her life. As we drove away from the house behind the hearse with her wicker coffin covered in roses and spring flowers all I could hear was her little friend the robin singing it's heart out in the hedge. It was so comforting.
  Unfortunately this week I had to go straight into hospital and have the rest of my thyroid, lymph nodes and another parathyroid gland removed. It couldn't have come at a worse time but they had already put it off for two weeks for me so I just had to get on. As I sat in bed looking out over a part of London I don't know at all I felt miles from home and spent the whole week thinking of sitting looking out of my own window. Here I finally am, it is just a bit of a mundane view but to me today it looks like heaven on earth. The operation done, I know I have to get the results and deal with anything else but this stage is out of the way and I have willed this moment to come all week. It's freezing and for anyone outside I hope you are wrapped up warm but I will sit and recuperate for a while. I have a swollen neck, croaky voice and feel a bit weak but I don't really care, I am just happy to be home!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

So Much Love

    On Wednesday morning my Dad phoned and said my Mum was still not feeling well. I told him I would come straight over after an early lunch. As soon as I arrived I was struck by how pale she looked. We sat and had a little chat and cracked a few jokes but something was wrong. My Dad called the doctor we were told she would be round at about 5.30pm. All afternoon we sat and talked then about 3pm Mum said "I have a bad pain in my stomach" I suddenly knew this was not a normal bad day. We waited for the doctor with reassuring looks and smiles and by 5pm suddenly the pain became worse. "The doctor will be here soon" I said smiling to my Mum and Dad. When the doctor arrived we exchanged looks while she examined my Mum and she said "I will call an ambulance". "Can you put my make up on for me Jane" my Mum said as we waited for the ambulance and I carefully put it on. My sister arrived with the paramedics and we joked and smiled. I went in the ambulance with her with blue lights and sirens to St Helier Hospital. As the paramedic slipped and knocked off her oxygen she raised an eyebrow to me.
   At St Helier we were ushered into a relatives room. Within half an hour kind people called us in to see my Mum. No waiting in corridors, no bad casualty experiences just kind people looking after us. We were told she had a perforated bowel. There were two choices make her comfortable and let her die or operate and have a slight chance of living. The doctor told my Mum "You may not wake up from the anesthetic."  "I don't want to die" she said "I want to live, I have so much to live for."
    It all moved so fast, we had fixed smiles on our faces as we chatted and talked. The time came for her to go to theatre, We kissed her and all told her we loved her. "I love all of you" my Mum said. "So much love" my sister said with the same fixed smile on her face as me. My Dad kissed her and said "I'll be here in the morning" "You better be" said my Mum smiling "because I love you" With that she was wheeled away and we walked out of the hospital sobbing our hearts out,
   At 3am the doctor phoned me. The operation had gone very well and my Mum was being taken to intensive care. We had hope, we were so happy. In the morning after 2 hours sleep, we arrived so hopeful and had a whole day of improvements. Even though she was sedated and on a ventilator we talked to her. We planned for home and what we would do. At 5pm the doctor wanted to speak to us. "Maybe they are going to tell us about new treatment" my Dad said but I suddenly felt a feeling of panic. "There is no hope" the doctor said. "Her blood results are so bad there is no way she can recover. At 92 further treatment wouldn't be fair to her. We will turn off her machines tonight." My eldest son and daughter came and with me, my Dad and my sister  we sat around the bed whilst her pulse slowly became slower and slower. "She's gone Dad" I said as he cried and cried for his wife of sixty two years.
   We took my Dad home and sat with him all night. " How can I recover" he said. I told him there are so few people who can say the last words with their loved one were I love you and we have that privilege, I had started scanning the photos my sister and I looked through at the kitchen table before all this happened and we smiled so much at this one, all of us together having a laugh and joke. As my sister said "So much love."


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Puppy Dilemma

    I know a lot of the country has had snow today but it was a lovely bright sunny morning here although I noticed the barometer was quite low which I tried to ignore. I had to dash around before I left for my Mum and Dad's house but it always seems a bit easier when the sun is shining. My sister and I went together today as neither my Mum or Dad are feeling very well. After we had made my Dad some lunch, nothing for my Mum as sadly she is on a liquid diet now, we settled at the kitchen table with old boxes of photos whilst they both had a sleep. We are trying to sort them out and get them in some sort of order. We thought it may help my Dad's memory if we could scan them and get him to try and remember were they were taken and when. It's worth a try we thought.
   After a run round the shops for them (in the pouring rain, I knew the barometer never lies!) I left for home later than usual and it was gone six by the time I got in. My youngest daughter and her boyfriend were telling me how down our little Yorkshire Terrier Cassie has been.
   One of the saddest things that happened to us last November was our old beagle Poppy dying. She was nearly 15 so I know she was a good age for a beagle but we miss her terribly. She was deaf in the last few years of her life but her face would always light up and her tail wag when you stood in front of her. She died two days before I went into hospital and the night of my operation I kept thinking of her and felt like bursting into tears. The only thing that stopped me was if the nurse asked me what was wrong and I replied "I miss my dog" they would have thought I was mad!

Poppy Jan 2003 - Nov 2017

     We all miss her so much but Cassie has taken it the hardest. I didn't really realise that a dog could be depressed but she is showing all the signs of it. We have always had three dogs and it had worked perfectly. Our Border Collie Bud thinks he is a person so he virtually ignores other dogs and Poppy and Cassie would always be together, They would sit cuddled up together all the time. When Cassie was a puppy Poppy would fuss about her licking her like she was her puppy and when Poppy became old and frail it was the other way around and Cassie looked after her. Now Cassie seems bereft she is off her food and sits staring into space, it is so sad. The only time she brightens up is when we are in the park but we can't live there! We had thought of getting another puppy in the spring but I am scared it may backfire and we will make the problem worse. 

It is a dilemma. Does anyone else have any experience of a depressed dog?


Monday, 15 January 2018

Recycling Ideas For Pretty And Useful Storage

      It started off  as a horrible rainy day today so I decided I would sort through some new storage ideas. I am an avid collector. Whether it's books, vintage toys, old tins, or vintage costume jewellery I collect it. I only have to buy two items and that's it in my mind it is the start of a collection! As I am not selling on ebay at the moment I have promised myself when I buy items at car boot sales or jumble sales it will only be if I can display it, store it easily or an item I can find use for and adapt into everyday life.
     When I am out searching for bargains I always look out for some retro storage ideas to keep my collections in. I love the look of them around the house and it just seems to me sensible to recycle old items into useful storage. Two items I have found recently have given me lots of storage with a 60s and 70s look and at a price that can't be beaten really.

1970s Vinyl Record Storage

     One is this 1960s or 70s LP record storage case I bought at a car boot sale for £1. It still has the original key and I keep lots of my 1970s LPs in it next to my lovely record player my family bought me  a few years ago. You can't beat the sound of a 70s vinyl record! I'm always on the look out for more but at about £25 each on ebay I think I'll keep scouring the car boot sales.

1960s Air India Vanity Case

      The other great storage find was an Air India 1960s vanity case I noticed under a table at a jumble sale and also cost me £1.

1960s Air India Vanity Case

     It is in lovely condition and has the original Air India logo of The Maharajah which was the mascot from 1946 until 2015.

1960s Air India Vanity Case

      The inside is still lined with some beautiful 1950s or 60s Christmas wrapping paper. So neatly done I wonder if many people today would take so much trouble and look after an item for so long. I have put it on top of my wardrobe with a collection of some of my vintage toys inside and I love the look of it. New storage would be ten times the price and not nearly so much fun!

    I was out feeding the aviary birds and hens this afternoon and the clouds gradually started to clear. I decided to try and fit in an hour tidying up in the garden. 

Clouds Clearing On A January Afternoon

     There is so much to be done after a few months of neglect but I'll keep pushing on so the garden looks half way decent by the spring. It was lovely being out there I enjoyed it ever so much. There is a lot of  pruning to be done and I feel as if I have made a slight start. I was thrilled to see there was the beginnings of blossom on the plum tree. I know we still have a long wait until Spring but the signs are there! By the time I had finished my hours work the clouds had almost disappeared. 

A Blue January Sky

After such a gloomy start the day has certainly brightened up.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

What A Difference A Year Makes!

Never has that been a more true statement than in my life. I have not written a blog post here for just over a year. My Mum was re-addmitted to hospital just after my last post and we were back to weeks of visits and stress. That was the first of several admissions over the year and although she is back home now she is so much frailer and every little health problem seems to turn into a health crisis. It's been heartbreaking to see my poor old dad struggling on.

I managed through all of this with lots of health problems I tried to ignore until in July, when I was putting sun tan lotion on, I felt a large lump in my neck. I went to see my GP the next day and it all started. Months of scans, X Rays, biopsies in between hiding it all from my Mum and Dad.  I didn't want to worry them even though I was constantly being told it was highly unlikely to be cancer. I was finally admitted to hospital for an operation in October only for it to be cancelled as I was waiting to be taken down due to such abnormal blood results. In November I was back in and had half of my thyroid gland, a parathyroid gland and a lymph node removed. To be honest the operation was no were near as bad as I thought it would be and within a few weeks had recovered from the surgery but still these aching symptoms remained.

On the 3rd of January I finally received the diagnosis I have Follicular Thyroid Cancer. It was a shock and I have been told I will need more surgery and treatment. "If I had to have a cancer" my consultant said "I would choose this one." I felt like saying "Well you can have it mate! I don't want it." But I can't, so it's a case of getting on with it. I know so many of my old friends in blog land have been through so much in similar circumstances so I have decided to record my progress and if I can help one person with a similar diagnosis it will have been worth it. It will be a pleasure catching up with old friends. I wish I had returned sooner I have a feeling it would have helped me on dark days.

I changed my profile photo as although I am still a nostalgic person I feel at the moment it is about looking forward not back. The photo was taken at last year's visit to the Smallholders fair in July. Just a few days before I felt the lump. I'm hoping this July Tom and I will be back there and will take a new photo, scars and all! Here we were looking so happy.

It's not all doom and gloom though, we never lose our sense of humours no matter what! I have a lovely new Granddaughter called Scarlett to write about and have made more contact with my 13 year old Granddaughter from my eldest son's previous relationship and I can't tell you how happy that makes me. As a family we still laugh at everything and I have made "It is what it is" our family motto I think I shall get it translated into Latin and put it on a plaque! 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Always A Dog

I thought quite a lot after yesterday's post how much a family of animal lovers we are. Our youngest son said a while ago that he couldn't imagine life without all the animals we have had but he is sure it wouldn't have been nearly as happy without them. We always talk about our animals both now and from years ago. My Mum and Dad grew up with animals and talk about them still. Every dog, cat and pet rabbit is remembered with pleasure. When I was a child we took our dogs on holiday all the time and all I can remember is walking on the beach or up mountains with a dog. I was so happy.

1960s Holidays With Our Dog

    I wanted my children brought up in exactly the same way and they have been, with long walks with dogs and holidays with dogs on the beach. When we are all together we reminisce about them exactly the same as my Mum and Dad do. 

A few years later and another much loved dog.

   My eldest daughter was telling me she wants her baby to be brought up the same way. She said she will start as soon as the baby is born, going to the park with our dogs and long walks. No ipad for our young child she said firmly. I am sure what ever stage of your life you are at, dogs will bring you pleasure if you are a dog lover. My heart breaks when I see lonely old people on TV saying they can go for days without talking to anyone. Get a little dog, I think, all those people to talk to in the park and a reason to get up and go out every day. If you don't have that love of dogs you just don't but I am so glad I have.