Not here yet

i have lost track of how long I have been home from hospital. I still don’t feel like I am back in the he here and now yet.

Not only do I still lack energy but mentally I don’t feel as though I am back yet. There is so much I want to do but I don’t feel that my brain is in gear. I can read or knit or watch TV. I can cook simple meals and do a bit of cleaning. Anything that takes brain power just isn’t happening.

I have been having more than my usual amount of down days. I know that I will get through this. After all I am a weeble. You can knock me down but I will get right back up. It’s just that these days it seems to be taking longer to get back to my sunny disposition.

Maybe that’s because I’m getting older but maybe it’s because I feel like the knocks are becoming more frequent. I don’t know and I don’t like it.

I’m home

After 11 stressful days in hospital I am back home. I still have my appendix in situ but have to have it removed at some point in the not too distant future.

I am currently feeling relieved to be home but very fragile and weak. I need to be kind to myself and give my body time to recover from everything it has been through.

I also need to get my head into the right space before normal service can resume.

Fractured not broken

The other night and it was at night I wrote a post about waiting. I wrote it because I had been reading Abbie Greaves book The end of the Earth. It had taken me back to when I was a young adult. I couldn’t sleep because of the thoughts going round and round in my head. Once I had written it and I apologise I didn’t read it through so there are bound to be errors.

One of my new blogging friends Bitchy after 60 commented that with everything I have been through it would have broken most people.

That post only scratched the surface of what my life has been like in the last 50+ years. I’m not broken yet. I have many emotional fractures and my body is falling apart but nothing has broken me yet.

Last night mother asked if I had experienced depression or anxiety in the last year. The question was in relation to the covid-19 pandemic. The answer is no. I am lucky to have technology that has allowed me to keep in contact with family and friends. I could also order whatever I needed online. I also have plenty to keep me occupied. My garden, reading, knitting etc.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced anxiety or feeling in low spirits. I have but more in respect of my health than the pandemic.

Waiting

Last week I wrote about Abbie Greaves book The Silent Treatment and I was looking forward to reading her second book The Ends of The Earth. I finished reading it a couple of days ago. I would recommend it however it is a heart felt tale of love and pain.

Reading this book was bitter sweet for me. I enjoy Abbie’s writing but some of the characters took me back to my past. I’m not saying that these characters in anyway resemble me or my past. There are aspects of this sad tale which remind me of one of the bad times in my life.

Some people in my real life know bits of my story but I guess my mother is the only one who knows most of it and even so I didn’t divulge some of my truth until many years later.

When i was 20 I had been engaged for 2 years to M. After a falling out with his mother I was treated more like his mistress/dirty secret than his fiancé. Eventually I had had enough and broke it off. Some months later I began seeing A. He was an older man but we got on really well and he treated me so much better. He was serving in the army but we spent as much time as we could together. We had mutual friend that he stayed with at weekends.

At the time I had joined the Territorial Army in my spare time. I remember once being embarrassed when A had dropped me off for my weekly training. Someone commented about my dad dropping me off. Anyway it was t few days after my 21st birthday that I had been away on a weekend training exercise on Salisbury Plain. When I got back on Sunday night A met me at the barracks to take me home. He took me to our friend’s flat.

He wanted sex. I was tired, battered and bruised. I wanted nothing more than to sleep. He forced himself on me. I made it clear I wasn’t in the right frame of mind or body for sex. That didn’t stop him. I don’t remember how I got home, I guess A drove me. The following Saturday he came to see me. I told him we were finished. He was not happy. He raped me in my parents living room. I never saw him again for which I was glad. I never told anyone what had happened.

At that time police were not sympathetic and I knew that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, after all he was my boyfriend and this was years before domestic rape was recognised. Later I. The year I got back together with M. It didn’t work out, I had changed. Not only that but I found being alone with him difficult. I couldn’t cope with intimacy, I would always see the face of A looming over me. After several months I broke off my relationship again.

I found an ad in the local paper for a week in Austria traveling by coach. By this time I was 22 and in need of a break. I was travelling alone. Being one of the last passengers to catch the coach I had a seat behind the driver. During the long drive I got chatting to both drivers. Once in Austria we were split up around the village. If memory serves me right there were three of us staying in the house where I was staying.

Through out our stay there were events and trips each day. Most of the group were couples or groups. I was just me and often found myself with the drivers and our tour rep. Looking back I know that was a mistake. I was beginning to feel an attachment to the taller of the drivers C. We were spending more and more of our spare time together. Until I ended up spending the night with him. C was an older man (apparently I prefer older men), but younger than A. Amazingly when I was with C I didn’t see A’s face.

By the time I returned home we had swapped phone numbers. He had my home number and my work number. Whenever he was between trips I would catch a train to London where we would stay in cheap hotels. He told me he wouldn’t marry me but he wanted us to live together. I spent a few days with him staying with a friend of his. I applied for a job at his local airport.

Then the unthinkable happened. I hit a call from an older woman claiming to be his wife. S was 14 years older than him and he was 14 years older than me. I guess I will never know the real truth. C told me that he had married S to help her and her two daughters (my age). Every time he tried to leave her she cut her wrists or some other cry for attention.

For months I had to have my calls screened both at home and at work. S or her daughter would call me saying nasty things. I stopped seeing C. Then one night he arrived at my home saying he had left her. He couldn’t take it anymore. The next day we found a bedsit near to my work. That first week it was great coming back every evening to my meal cooked for me. The two of us together making plans. It wasn’t so great for C, he wasn’t used to being in a strange town alone all day with no work. It was his off season.

He told me that he had a friend in Norfolk who could give him work as a taxi driver Monday to Friday. He would be back at the weekends. He never came back. I refused to get upset. I couldn’t phone him, we didn’t have mobile phones in those days. After a few weeks I had a phone call from the Samaritans supposedly searching for C on S’s behalf.

I stayed at the bedsit until the end of our 3 month contract then moved back to my parents. While I was at the bedsit I didn’t see anyone outside of work and a few visits to my parents in the next town. I couldn’t give up on C, I couldn’t forget about him and move on. I needed to know where he was and what had happened. I kept my grief tucked inside me. I never cried, my health began to suffer.

I remember one day phoning my mother at work in a panic. I felt as though my life had collapsed, I didn’t know how I would get through the next minute let alone the next hour. I don’t remember what happened next but I got through the day. My work was suffering, eventually I handed in my notice. I knew I couldn’t carry on with my job in the state I was in.

I managed to persuade my Dr that I needed help but I didn’t want pills. He arranged for a councillor to visit me at home. Unfortunately he was about to change jobs so I only saw him the once. He told me that I was clinically depressed. We went through everything in my life that was making me feel so bad. That helped, just breaking it all down into different problems.

About a month later I got a job working in a bar then a job as an hotel receptionist. One afternoon on my way home I stopped at our local supermarket. On the way out I saw a face I never expected to see again. It was C. He waited for me to walk me home. As soon as I was home I ran to the bathroom to be sick.

It was 11 months since he had left me. He thought he could pick up where he left me. He explained that he had gone to Norfolk as planned but he had phoned home to check how S was. She was in hospital after another suicide attempt. So he went back to look after her. Now she was well and he was able to leave. I saw him a few times over the next couple of months.

I became pregnant, he said he was decorating the flat for S then we would be together. I lost the baby. Suddenly he was unavailable again. He did arrange to see me over the August bank holiday. Bizarrely I stayed with his younger step daughter and partner. We had become friends over the phone. She didn’t agree with how her mother and sister had been towards me. Anyway when I was supposed to see C it was S who turned up. I was suddenly very ill in the bathroom. Later we spoke and found that neither if us were the bitch we had thought.

Over the years I have wondered what happened to C and S. I moved on with my life. I met the man who gave me my four sons.

Abbie’s book was nothing like my story but it did get me thinking about it. I just remembered that one of my colleagues way back then once said to me. ” Your live life might not be happy but it’s interesting” . Thinking back on that comment I don’t know why she thought it was interesting.

Being absent in my own life

The last week has kind of passed me by. I feel like I have gone back to the first few months after my surgery. All I have wanted to do is read or sleep. I’ve been falling asleep 3 or 4 times every day. That’s not normal even for me.

I have been doing other things like a spot of gardening and a bit of avon. I have even gained a few new customers.

I have made an appointment to have a telephone call from my dr. I managed to get the earliest appointment Friday 9th April, after I was told I could ring up at 8am each morning to see if there are any available appointments that day. Whilst this is causing me a great deal of stress it isn’t urgent urgent. I have been dealing with this problem for 20 years but it is getting worse.

In the last few years prior to my surgery I was experiencing constant leakage because my bladder had deteriorated. This was very unpleasant and inconvenient but I didn’t feel unwell with it apart from the frequent kidney infections.

However my bowel problems are making me feel drained, uncomfortable and unable to do very much. Just moving around can trigger an “accident” . I have very little and sometimes no notice at all that I need to go.

Throughout the 20 years since I underwent radical radiotherapy for my stage three cervical cancer. (I know I’m lucky to be alive). I have tried to carry on with my life. This last week I feel as though I have withdrawn from my life.

Although I am my mother’s carer she is worried about me. I don’t want her to worry. Apart from not wanting her to worry I don’t think I can cope with her trying to diagnose my problems and come up with remedies.

I want to be my usual cheerful persona. I think when I see people I manage to carry that off but I spend so much time with just my mother I am sinking into myself.

Today I plan to pick up the last of my march Avon books and do a little more gardening. I hope my body allows me to do these things today.

I’m not like them

I have often been told that I come from a long line of strong women. I am told that I am a strong woman too. I have memories of my Great Grandmother Alice but only as a very old woman. I have memories of my paternal Great Gran (mostly of having to stay with her and being fed undercooked eggs for breakfast). I understand that both these women were strong willed women in their day.

I obviously have memories of both my Granny and my Grandmother. My Granny was one of my favourite people in the world. I can’t in all honesty say that I knew a great deal about her life but I loved her dearly. She was taken away from us far too soon, She had a massive heart attack in the night when she was just 67. My Grandmother was a lady who I wasn’t so close to when I was growing up. I grew closer to her in her later years. How many women in their 90s complete a degree with the Open University.

My own mother has always been strong. My father wasn’t inclined/able to support us properly so my mother trained (whilst bringing up 3 teenagers) to become a Lawyer. Life wasn’t easy for my mother when we were small. She did what she could to make a better life for all of us.

During my adult life I have been reminded by my mother that we are strong women. I have been told by others that I am so strong. I struggled to bring up 4 boys whilst being married to an alcoholic. I survived stage 3 cancer in my late 30s. I fought to get through a nasty divorce. I managed to keep myself and 4 boys going through financial struggles following my divorce. Then I remarried and found myself hitched to another alcoholic who was also a narcissist. I managed to get out of that situation.

All my life I have been reminded that I am strong and come from a line of strong women. I’m not though. I have never felt strong. I have done what I had to do for my boys. I have always felt that I have to get through everything because I come from a line of strong women. I can’t let the side down and be the first non strong woman.

I want to be allowed not to be strong. I want to not have the responsibility of keeping up with my strong women.

WHY do I have to always be strong?

Dark cloud on a sunny day

I’m looking out onto a sunny day and not feeling the joy this would usually bring. Anyone who knows me would say that I am a naturally happy and positive person. Throughout my life I have suffered from depression although not so much in recent years. I have mostly managed to keep it at bay.

I think my whole life has been one long struggle. Poverty, living with not one but two alcoholic husbands. (yes I know one is unfortunate, two is foolish).

18 years ago I was starting the journey into treatment for stage 3 cancer. I was given the all clear in September 2001 a few days before 19/11. it was still another couple of months before I returned to my part time work. It took time to build back the strength to do more than just the basic requirements of family life. I remember very clearly the words of my Macmillan nurse telling me that a very few people have long term bowel/bladder problems following the treatment I had undergone.

I think that after all these years it is safe to say that I am one of these few people. I wasn’t aware until two years ago when I was so ill that I was literally housebound in agony with no appetite. My cancer treatment had made me prone to kidney infections. I had suffered repeated bouts of flu like symptoms, pain in every part of my body and a shivering fever. What scared me the most was the drastic weight loss and the frequent passing of blood in my urine. After many blood tests, ultra sound scans, CT scan it was decided that the cause of all these symptoms was a severe kidney infection.  A course of strong antibiotics and forcing myself to eat again I began to get better. The next year and a half I have managed to stay reasonably healthy.

The last few weeks I have felt unwell, I was getting those flu like symptoms again. I have been struggling to force myself to eat for a few weeks and the blood in my urine has increased from being once or twice a week to multiple times a day.  I never know when the blood will come but I always know when it does because passing water becomes very painful. (it makes me want to cry). I don’t have thrush or cystitis both very unpleasant but luckily not problems that I have had to deal with for years. However as I sit here now I have a pain in my urethera. I don’t know how to describe it other than a feeling that I have a holly leaf wedged inside me. I have been to see the Dr, I don’t have an infection at the moment. The flu symptoms have subsided. On Friday I had to take a day off work as I had a severe stomach upset which left me on the loo for hours. When not on the loo I was sleeping.

I was trying to force myself to eat to get back my energy but scared to eat because my bowels were playing up. Ever since my cancer treatment I have suffered with bowel problems. I can never be confident that my bowels won’t erupt with little or no notice. It makes being out of the house very dangerous for me. Yes I really chose the right job for me. Being in my car for hours on end delivering parcels. There have been days when I have had to make a mad dash home for the loo. I don’t always make it.  It has been bad enough for all these years but now that I my bladder problems have increased over recent years it is getting me down. Following a recent urodynamics test (which wasn’t very successful) the registrar tells me that my bladder has damage from my radiotherapy back in 2001. Cheers I had worked that out.

This has been my life for so many years now that I don’t remember what it was like to have normal toilet functions. I find it both physically and mentally distressing every time I need the toilet. It must be wonderful not to have any worries or distress when sitting on the toilet. I just don’t remember.

All this added to my recent bout of being unwell has led me into a dark place. I don’t usually allow myself to wallow for long but this time I feel myself being dragged under. I know I have things to do and people to talk to but it all seems as though my life is too much effort. I have my estranged husband calling me with messages saying that he needs my help. I can’t help him I have my own demons to deal with. If it wasn’t for my four sons and their growing families/partnerships I just wouldn’t bother getting up each day. I just want to give in to oblivion. I know I won’t, I have my grandson and another grandchild on the way to think about.  If I am honest though I am fed up with my life.

To make life even better within minutes of posting this I fell. I missed the bottom step of our stairs, flinging myself and my laundry into a heap on the floor. Surprisingly my ankles were fine. However I did have incredible pain in my feet. I later discovered the my left big toe is bruised and I had some painful swelling on the side of my right foot. Having wrapped my foot in a towel and some frozen sweetcorn, the swelling subsided. Now three days later my right foot is only painful when knocked but my left big toe is still painful but I am able to walk on it fairly well now.

I have just been reading about PRD Pelvic Radiation Disease Pelvic Radiation Disease

This is new information for me. I had no idea that what I have been dealing with for the last 17 years is a common condition for those of us who have had radiation treatment for Cervical Cancer. Had I known about this sooner I would have made more noise about it with my GP. Instead I have lived with it believing that nothing could be done.  Over the last couple of years I have had various tests and screenings for my bladder problems but never for my bowel problems.

Yes, I am grateful for the treatment that I had which has enabled me to  continue with my life and watch my sons grow up. However I would certainly say that these apparently not so rare side effects of radiation treatment have affected my quality of life.

Moving

This moving business is quite exhausting. When I left my husband four weeks ago today, I only took with me what I needed for a few weeks. I didn’t know what the future would hold. How would he react? Would he cope without me?

In the first couple of weeks communication was mostly unpleasant messages sent from him to my phone. I didn’t respond. I returned to the house a few times to collect more of my clothes and other belongings. Still I was not 100% sure whether there could be a way back for us or not. However the house needs to be sold. I need to remove my belongings from the house.

At the beginning of this week I finally had a message from him to say that he loves me and wants me back. 3 weeks it had taken for him to say he misses/loves me. We spoke on the phone the following day. It was a good conversation. He told me that he is working at getting himself sorted out. He hasn’t had a drink for a month (I know this is not accurate). He said he has begun going to AA (which he hates). I told him that I am not ready to go back. One conversation is not enough to convince me that anything would be different. We need more time, more of everything that is positive.

Two days later I spoke to him again but he had reverted to type. He was rude and after a few words hung up on me. Yesterday I had not been home long from my morning working when he called me. In my car I keep a portable tyre pump, he needed it as he had a very flat tyre. I agreed to take it over to him. The tyre was completely flat. We talked briefly. It is funny how he can be civil to my face. I packed more of  my things into my car and gave him a lift. He had arranged to meet someone and was running late. Surprisingly he needed to be dropped off at the pub!

Later when I was back home again he rang requesting a loan as he needed to go out in the evening but would pay me back next day. We had quite a good chat about things I need to collect. I am going over there today and will go up in to the loft to see what is up there. He can’t because of his broken collar and shoulder bones. Apparently the house will go on the market this week. During the conversation we also talked about the future. He now wants a divorce. OK, so now I know where I stand. I have no intention of divorcing him but if that is what he wants that is up to him. He is moving on without me, he is looking for other women to date/have sex with.

All the times he has told me that he loves me and doesn’t want to lose me obviously count for nothing. I did think he might fight a bit harder not to lose me.

I shall remove more of my belongings today, it might take a few more trips as I find it very difficult being in the house that I thought of as home for 5.5yrs. I don’t want or need much, mostly it is clothes and books. Most of which I don’t need to have with me anymore. Most of the clothes I have already brought back here have been sorted and bagged up for charity.

Moving out of the house and moving on with my life seem to be my priorities right now. Apart from working I am sleeping a lot. I think that although on the outside I am coping with all these changes, my body is exhausted by it all.

moving boxes

 

 

 

Living on the edge

 

I am writing this for myself more than anyone else. I need to work out how I am feeling, why and how to do something about it. I don’t know about anyone else but for me putting it down in words helps me to work things out so this is what I am going to do now.

I am aware that when I am unhappy my family and friends will automatically think that the trouble stems from my marriage. There have been times when this has been the case but not at the moment.

The last few months I have been feeling very lonely, not when I am alone but when I am surrounded by others. This could in part be put down to my poor hearing. I don’t always know what people are talking about, partly because I can’t hear but also because I have noticed an increase in private conversations going on around me. I don’t ask what people are talking about because I figure that if they want me to know then they will tell me. This I think sometimes back fires because they then think I am neither interested nor care about what is going on with other people.

 Now that there are just the two of us at home, there is very rarely any tension where there was a lot in the past. I don’t feel any need to gripe to my friends about my home life. Maybe this is part of my problem, I don’t have much of interest to say, so it’s possible that my friends think I am being aloof. The more I am excluded from conversations the more I draw into myself. I guess this has become a vicious circle. I have been trying to make more effort to be more sociable but still I feel that I am being left out in the cold.

Recently I attended a function where I had an opportunity to catch up with a number of people I hadn’t seen for ages which was really nice. This function involved a sit down meal (which was tasty). I found myself sat between two people I have very little to talk about with. The two people to my right were constantly looking at their phones, I know this was no reflection on me. I was actually pleased that the person on my immediate right did actually talk to me a bit. He is well known for not talking to anyone he doesn’t know well. Where I could hear laughter coming from all the other tables there was none from ours. That isn’t just because I was on that table, there were three people that I could normally have a laugh with, it just didn’t happen. Maybe if I had been drinking more (I had a glass of bubbly on arrival and a glass of red wine with my meal) I might have been jollier. I don’t drink much so when I do it goes straight to my head. Perhaps it was because I had been feeling in very low spirits all week that I wasn’t able to just let go and drink more or enjoy myself better. By 10pm I could easily have just gone home but the taxi I was sharing was booked for midnight. Speeches over I joined everyone in the bar with the dance floor. I found myself sitting on my own, (my choice) just watching everyone else having fun. Several people did try to get me dancing and some of the time I did. Other times I didn’t (something in my head was telling me “if you don’t feel comfortable doing something then don’t do it”).

By the time I got home and my husband asked if I had a good time, I was feeling very unhappy. I tried to identify why I was feeling this way. I don’t blame anyone else it is all down to me. Being on the edge looking in is probably where I normally find myself at functions. It has never bothered me in the past, I am usually quite content to sit watching everyone else having fun. This time though it has got me taking a long hard look at myself, and I don’t like it. It has left me feeling very miserable, and self-conscious. I can’t function properly. My husband has been very understanding and caring for which I am extremely grateful.

I have realised that although I have a sense of humour and love to laugh, one of my favourite sayings is “a day without laughter is a day wasted”. I do find it difficult to let go of my inhibitions and have fun the same way that others do. Is this genetic? Is this because I am so incredibly shy? Most people don’t realise how shy I am. In small groups of two or three I am fine but put me in a larger group I can’t be my usual self(even if that larger group consists of people I get on with in smaller groups). Even when my kids were little I loved being silly and doing daft things with them but couldn’t do it with other kids around. I love being daft and goofing around like the child that my mind still thinks I am so why can’t I be like that with other people around. Why do I always have to behave like a sensible grown up. Why can’t I let go? I am hurting myself with all these thoughts, I am making myself miserable and tearful thinking about what is wrong with me. My self-esteem is rock bottom. Where do I go from here?

I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to be around me when I am not much fun to be around. I know that the general consensus will be that I should talk to my doctor, I don’t want to take any tablets, the last time I went to see my Dr feeling depressed I was offered self-referral telephone counselling. This I would be more likely to take on if they worked outside normal working hours, I don’t believe that they do. I have just decided to contact them anyway. I don’t know what else I can do to get myself out of this misery. I feel like avoiding all contact with people, I know that is not an option and I will do my best to face it. Before this I have found comfort being with people who care about me but I’m not sure that I can face anyone right now.

I hate these feelings of self-pity, I want to get back to being the cheerful positive person that I like to be. The person who no matter what life throws in my direct I can face it head on and deal with it. I am so proud of the fact that whenever I get low, I allow myself 2 or 3 days to wallow then I pick myself up. This time it just isn’t working. Is it because this time the problem is not anyone or anything else it is me myself and I. This time I don’t know how to fix it.