How have I come to this?

This afternoon I need to drive to the other side of Southampton for a covid test. I haven’t been that way for years. I know the way to where I need to be. It is only 20 miles each way.

There are roadworks most of the way from here to there. Those who think they know best are turning our motorway into a “smart motorway”. The rest of us think it’s a waste of time energy and money not to mention unsafe. I am going to give myself an hour to get there just in case of delays.

Even just a few years ago I would have thought nothing of doing this journey. I enjoyed driving and often made journeys of several hundred miles. Now I am feeling anxious about it.

When did I change. Has my joy of driving stopped suddenly or has it crept up on me slowly?

Since having this new car I have only stayed local. Maybe going a bit further today will help. I have been driving automatic cars for a few years but this one is manual. I had forgotten how often you have to change gear when driving around town. Perhaps driving along the motorway will help. Either way it isn’t going to stop me going to other places when required, it just might need more mental preparation.

Spanner in the works

I had it all planned out. Books out for collection Friday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday that takes me almost to the end of the month. I was late getting started this week. Then other things got in the way so there are no books out for me to collect today.

Because of my low energy levels I’m only putting out around a dozen books each time. So now I need to do a few more each time to get round to all of my customers.

I found out this morning that I am having an endoscopy next Thursday. Which means a covid test on Monday. Then self isolate from Monday to Thursday. I am likely to be feeling rough on Friday.

I am now going to attempt to get all my books out for pick up this Friday and Monday. I won’t be able to do a pick up next Wednesday so no point putting any out for then.

I did know that I would be having an endoscopy within the next two weeks but hadn’t considered that I would still have to isolate after all have had both jabs and putting out and picking up books doesn’t really involve seeing anyone.

Besotted granny

One of my friends has joined the besotted granny brigade. Her granddaughter is 4 months old and she is so in love with her.

For years I said I wasn’t ready to become a granny. I hadn’t finished being a mother. Then a few years ago I started to worry about my health etc, that was when it hit me that if my sons didn’t hurry up and start having children I would be to old/ill to enjoy them.

Three years ago I became a granny for the first time. I instantly fell in love with my grandson. Teddy is three now. I was afraid that he wouldn’t know who I am what with covid restrictions and them living in London. Video calls were me watching him play whilst I chatted to his daddy. The other week when lockdown rules were eased I got to spend time with him in the garden (very cold). Then last week on his birthday we had a video call where he actually talked to me. He showed me his toys and books. Today we had another video call with him interacting with me. He knows that I am granny. I love this new stage in our relationship.

19 months ago my eldest son provided me with a granddaughter. After 4 sons and a grandson I was delighted to finally have a girl in the family. She has always been used to video calling with her other family and with me so she has always been interactive. When she visited our garden the other week she would take gammy by the hand to look at things or fill her little watering can.

We also had a video call today. She tells me lots of things that I don’t always understand but her speech is coming along well.

This granny is besotted with both my grandchildren.

Elbow bumps, why?

On and off since March 2020 I have wondered about this. Why do they do it? I understand that the advice is not to shake hands in greetings. What I don’t understand and it’s often politicians that I see on TV doing this, is why the elbow bumps? For a start they have to get much closer together in order to do this.

Wouldn’t it be better to not have physical contact. After all we are meant to be keeping space between us. If they can’t bear to forego physical contact then for heaven’s sake wear gloves and have a handshake. No skin on skin contact and not such close proximity.

Insisting on this elbow bumping ( often looking awkward) is not clever. It doesn’t protect them from catching covid-19. I know that it is considered polite in the civil world to shake hands but couldn’t do that for the past year. Considering the social distancing, face coverings we have all become accustomed to is it not possible that these politicians and other business people/ celebrities could just not do anything.

If elbow bumps are permitted then why is hugging not?

Please could someone explain to me why I can’t hug my family but these people can bump elbows.

We are gradually coming out of lockdown here in UK. Will this habit continue or will handshakes resume?

No antibiotics for me

I have just ordered my latest repeat prescription through the online site linked to my Drs surgery. At the top of the side bar on the website was a tab for antibiotics. I am glad to say that I have not had any antibiotics since my initial recovery from my surgery. During 2019 and 2020 I was on antibiotics so many times that I started a diary specifically for my antibiotic courses. This time last year I had been on 5 courses since the start of the year.

Because of the problems I was experiencing I was getting numerous kidney infections. It became a vicious circle that ultimately prevented me having my surgery in March 2020. My PRD (pelvic radiation disease) was destroying my bladder. This meant that I was prone to kidney infections. These infections affected my iron levels. The longer I waited for surgery the more infections I got, leading to lower and lower iron levels which in turn rendered me unsuitable for surgery at that time.

In order to get my iron levels to a suitable level I needed an iron infusion. (Iron tablets would take too long and not be as efficient). However Lockdown came along and prevented my infusion from going ahead. (I was already at the hospital being prepared for this treatment when it was cancelled.) I later began a course of iron tablets which over the following months did indeed increase my iron levels. (Not fully but enough).

At the time of my surgery I was again very unwell with a kidney infection. Along with the frequent infections I had over the last four or five years I had several that were so bad I was house bound for weeks/months. The first time I was ill for four months whilst I went through a variety of tests and scans to check that my cancer hadn’t returned. The second time it happened it was only six weeks before I was strong enough to leave the house. This last time it began three weeks before my surgery, I was still very weak from the infection as well as the surgery when I came home from hospital.

I am so relieved that my surgery although dreaded at the time has hopefully put an end to these kidney infections. No more antibiotics (at least not for kidney infections) is a blessing. No more having to deal with side effects like a horrid taste in my mouth for a week at a time or having to work out what I can or can’t eat when because I can’t have milk products within 2 hours either before or after taking the tablets. For now at least I am free from that life.

What three words?

Recently I bit the bullet and joined twitter. I’ve found a few people to follow. I don’t really interact on there. I’ve left a couple of comments. My posts on here are automatically posted on there. I currently have zero followers but that’s no surprise. I doubt anyone even knows I’m there.

Browsing earlier I saw a tweet from someone I knew a few years ago.

What three words are you looking forward to saying when the pandemic is over.

For me it will be when I see my family and can say…

Let us hug

The parcels keep coming

During this time of pandemic where we rarely go out the parcels just keep coming.

Many people are shopping online, us included. Mum is still buying books but not as many since she got herself a kindle for her night time reading. An assortment of other items arrive for her several times a week.

My shopping online is starting to show a pattern. Biscuits, I have become addicted to Border butterscotch crunch biscuits. I have discovered that I can buy a pack of 6 packets.

There are packs of wool. I have been knitting almost constantly since just before my granddaughter was born in September 2019. I have knitted cardigans, jumpers and dresses for my granddaughter and her cousin who is just 3 weeks younger than her. I have made dozens of little hats for premature babies. There are tiny jackets too. I have made poncho’s and matching berets for the two little girls.

I have fallen in love with so many different balls of wool for these. I have a variety from 50g to 400g balls. A few months ago I was making a family of hand puppets for a primary teacher so I have lots of colours left from those. My son and his fiancee are adding to the list of requests. I’m currently working on some striped jumpers. Navy with red stripe, they also want white with red stripe and white with navy stripe. Both girls got white with royal blue stripe for Christmas. The latest request was for a hat for which I have been sent a photo. I have as yet to search out a suitable pattern.

The other items that are prominent on my shopping lists are bird food. Bags of mixed seed, suet blocks, suet balls, Coconut halves, meal worms and peanuts. These are shared not only by the robins, blue tits, great tits, collard doves and wood pigeons but also three squirrels. Ginger, Biscuit and Roger. (yes we have given them names).

What have your shopping habits during the last year shown you about your shopping patterns?

Looking down is the new norm

Since this pandemic started our lives have changed so much. There are so many things that are different now.

We all have to wear a mask/face covering. We are encouraged to wash our hands, and keep our distance. Many people work from home instead of going out to work. Zoom meetings and other video calls take the place of speaking face to face.

I for one started 2020 with short hair, I now have shoulder length hair. Many have learnt to cut their own hair out of desperation. I decided to let mine grow out and when the time comes get a completely new style. One unexpected skill I had to attempt is cutting my mother’s toe nails.

Our non essential shops are closed but online shopping is booming. Our high streets are empty. Restaurants are limited to serving takeaway/delivery food instead of in house service.

There has been a big increase in delivery services. Where once we were asked to sign for packages they are now left at the door with just a knock to alert us to their arrival. In a small way I have been doing this with my Avon business. We can put our books through doors and collect from the doorstep without seeing anyone. deliveries are made by leaving the package on the doorstep. I have noticed that I am not the only one who has become used to opening the door and automatically looking down to see what is there. We didn’t do this a year ago. How many people can say that they don’t now look down as soon as they open the door?

Disconnected

Six moths ago (well almost) , it was 18th August 2020. I had life changing surgery. Lockdown the first was quite easy for me because I wasn’t going out anyway. At the start of 2020 I was waiting to have surgery in early March. By mid February I was on my 4th lot of antibiotics since the start of the year. I put myself into a self imposed isolation. I didn’t want to catch a cold or anything else that would put off my surgery.

Well that plan didn’t work. When I had my pre-op it was discovered that my iron levels were far too low for me to have my procedure. My surgeon said it was all the kidney infections that had caused my iron levels to be so low. No wonder I was getting so tired all the time. I thought taking iron tablets would help but that wasn’t the case. It was arranged that a week prior to my new surgery date (3rd April) I would have an Iron Infusion. Similar to a blood transfusion.

However on the day of the infusion I went to the hospital. Very weird, security on the door stopping everyone who wasn’t there for treatment from entering. I had already discovered that the car park I usually use was out of bounds. Hospital staff only. This was the impact of the first lockdown showing itself. Corridors were very quiet. None of the normal activity. Eventually after being sent to the wrong place I found my way to Day Surgery Unit. Here I was prepped for my treatment, all the usual questions, blood sugar test, weight, height etc. The nurse went to collect the prescription. A few minutes later returning with my surgeon’s assistant.

It took a very short while to let the news sink in. My surgery was cancelled. Covid-19 had put the kybosh on that. With tears in my eyes I drove back home. No infusion for me on that day. The rest of lockdown I was still fairly weak. I stayed home and stayed safe. I knitted, I read. I took care of my mum.

Lockdown finally came to an end, my health was slightly better, I guess because I had been staying home not rushing around everywhere. I waited for the call. I was so worried that I wouldn’t get that call not in July or August or September, perhaps not before Christmas or even in 2020 at all. Why would they call me when there were all these people with cancer who needed surgery. Surely they would get priority over little old me. I don’t have cancer right now although my problems stem from the cancer treatment I had back in 2001.

My Dr disagreed, she said that my surgery was urgent, she would remind the hospital to get me in asap. True to her word, at the end of July I was told to go in at 7am 18th August. I put it down to the shock, but now realise it wasn’t that. I became very ill within days of receiving my appointment date. I could barely walk, or eat. My strength was virtually nil. I did hope that I would recover before my allotted date. No such luck! A few days before my surgery I was asked to go in at the earlier time of 6.30. We weren’t sure what traffic would be like or how long it would take me to lug my bag from the entrance to where I needed to be. (obviously the furthest part of the hospital from the main entrance). I couldn’t take anyone with me to carry my bag so I soldiered along, stopping at various seats to rest. I still reached my destination far too early. 5.45am! I don’t usually know that time exists.

Anyway. I had my surgery. At first I was horrified that my life was now changed for ever. No going back, it was so awful that I didn’t think I would ever learn to cope. I was in theatre for 6 hours and in hospital for a week. In normal circumstances I would have spent that week chatting to the other patients who came and went during my stay. Unlike me, I didn’t speak to any of them. I just didn’t want to. I was probably feeling very sorry for myself.

I came home and was still in a lot of pain as well as weak and not eating. It took several weeks before I could start to get my appetite back. Gradually my strength increased. I started sitting up instead of laying on my back most of the time. I had nobody looking after me. I was and still am carer for my mum. Lockdown may have finished but we still couldn’t have people in the house. Only our cleaner every 2 weeks fully masked up. My ex who was our support bubble is the only other person who visits.

My nurse would normally visit every day to make sure I was fine with my new reality and was able to cope with everything. She could only phone me to see how I was doing. Now almost six months later I have got used to all that my new life entails. The problems I had in the early days are now a distant memory (most of the time). I am getting used to the reordering system for my supplies.

Now I guess I should put you out of your confusion and tell you that at my tender age of under 60 I am now a bag lady. My bladder wasn’t working, it had not only shrunk but had holes in it. I wear a bag on my stomach (stoma) which I have to empty regularly throughout the day. I have a night bag which I attach to it with with a longish tube for night times. I have a strap which keeps the tube against my leg whilst I sleep. Not very often but occasionally like 4.45am today I wake to discover my bed is wet because I have become disconnected. The tube was still strapped to my leg but was no longer attached to my bag on my stomach.

It is times like this that I am glad I am single and don’t have a partner to disturb in the middle of the night, sorting out the bedding.

All things said and done although this is now my reality and it isn’t something I had ever thought would happen to me. I feel so much better now, than I had for a number of years. I still get extremely tired. I try not to do too much but I’m gradually getting stronger.

Life will never go back to normal for me but then I doubt it truly will for anyone now. I am leaning how to live my new normal.

How is this right?

Today my car went into the garage to see what they could discover about my current car problems. It turns out to be a computer problem which can only be fixed by a main dealer garage. I can see my money vanishing into thin air. Who knows how long it could be until my car is fixed. In the meantime I have parked on the roadside so that I don’t need to worry about this reversing issue more than necessary.

Although primarily I use my car for my own benefit we also need it for transporting my mother who has MS. Whenever my mother leaves the house we have to move her by wheelchair. Since my surgery last August I have not attempted to lift her wheelchair in or out of my car. I have had help to do this. The last time I got a new car (to me) I needed to find one with a boot that was big enough to accommodate mum’s pink wheelchair, This wasn’t easy on the budget I had. In the end I got a 10 year old Renault Scenic. Unfortunately I was unable to find a suitable petrol car, so diesel it was. Not ideal as I do lots of short journeys with lots of stop starting.

Today was the day my mum has been waiting for since before Christmas. It was V day. Her first coronavirus vaccine shot . It just happened to be the day that my car was at the garage. I borrowed a car from the garage for the day.

Since speaking to the garage mechanic we have been having conversations about what to do if my car is either too expensive or too difficult to repair. One thought was that as Mum is disabled maybe she could get a mobility car with me as the named driver. We figured that this would generate lots of paperwork to fill in but would be worth it. After three of us looking into this online we came to the conclusion that this would not be possible.

If my Mum was still working she could get PIP (formerly Disability Living Allowance). She would be able to get a mobility vehicle. However even though she had MS for many years before retiring it is only in recent years that her mobility has become so difficult. Because of her age she is entitled to Attendance Allowance which she has been receiving for the last 18 months. This however doesn’t qualify her for Mobility help. We have gone over and over everything we can find. It would seem that becoming disabled after retirement age (unless you receive a Military Pension) you must stay at home and never go anywhere.

If we don’t have a vehicle of some sort it will make my life difficult but also my mother’s life. In the past year she has only left the house for medical appointments. Without a car she would need to get a taxi to her appointments. This would cause her great stress. Not only ordering a taxi, I know I can do this for her but she is an independent woman. She would be getting stressed about ordering a taxi in time to get there and needing another for the return journey. She would be stressed about finding a suitable taxi that can take her wheelchair. I know that she is not alone in being a person over retirement age who has mobility issues. How can it be right that unless you become disabled prior to retirement you do not qualify for transport whether it is a vehicle or a mobility scooter.

Back to the drawing board.

If anyone has any other information on whether or how we can do this please let me know.