The sun came out today.

All through May we have had lots of rain and not much sun. For many of us we still have our heating on. After all my excitement at getting our washing line put in 10 days ago, I have not been able to use it yet.

Today the sun has been out. It has been our first warm day. I actually went out without a coat/jacket. I have seen photos of friends enjoying a drink in the sunshine. Others have been on lovely walks in the sun.

My views today have been from hospital windows. Today was the day for my colonoscopy. Yesterday l spent the day drinking 4 litres of klean prep to clear my body out. ( No food after 8am and that was only rice crispies.) My day was spent in the bedroom so I could be close to the bathroom.

This morning I subjected myself to the hospital staff. I must say that I had a very kind gentle Portuguese male nurse looking after me. He was so considerate of my feelings and comfort when he needed to insert a cannula. I had told him of my needle phobia. He took the time smoothing my hands and arms to find the best vein he could. Apparently my veins were very wobbly.

He promised me that he would only make one attempt to get the needle into me. It did take time before he finally pierced my skin. Success first time. It was then time to don the non flattering gown and paper knickers.

A few minutes later I was in the room where the procedure was taking place. I remember getting into position on the bed and a sedative being put through the cannula. I was aware of being wheeled into the recovery room.

As usual after an aesthetic I was being sick. I was informed that my ride would be here at 11.30. I asked what time it was now. 11.15. ( no way would I be ready in 15 minutes). I let him know to come back in an hour.

After all that it seems that my fickle body has yet again come up short. This is not the first time I have had an invasive investigation that couldn’t be completed.

“Procedure limited by benign stricture” Further investigations required.

Next step is for a CT scan. Oh great joys. I don’t mind these but it usually involves having another cannula.

Being unfamiliar with this hospital it didn’t help that there is construction work being carried out which made finding the drop off and collection point difficult to find. I was dropped off at the wrong side of the hospital. I was being collected from the same place. This meant that I had a long walk going to and from my treatment. A very kind make nurse carried my bag walking me back to the pick up point only to discover that my lift had managed to find the main entrance after all. More walking followed. I was so relieved to finally find my car. 2800 steps isn’t much but right now to me that was a huge effort.

Having left home at 8am I was back home at 2pm and went back to bed. Having had a deep sleep I returned to the land of the living just before 5pm. I am now starving, my stomach is rumbling. I shall be ordering a take away to be delivered tonight. Do I opt for chips or Chinese?

Tomorrow is another day. At least I can put today behind me and know that I won’t be going through that again.

I am hoping that tomorrow I shall be able to go out in the garden to soak up some 🌞

A cold lunch

Monday morning brought flurries of snow. By the time I set of to get my car fixed it had been snowing constantly for at least 3.5 hours. Not that it was doing anything much. It was settling but it was such tiny granules that it didn’t look much more than a layer of frost.

Driving to the garage you wouldn’t have known there was any snow. The roads were completely clear. Arriving at my destination, an industrial estate I drove around and around for 20 minutes looking for the garage. In the end I had to pull over and phone them. Ha ha I was behind the units I needed to find. literally just yards (or meters) away.

I parked up went into the unit and hander over a set of keys. The young man said he would phone me when it was ready, (about an hour).

There was nowhere for me to wait. I walked down the road to a small takaway food unit. Joining the queue I awaited my turn to enter the premises to get something hot to eat. I watched the occasional wagtail flitting around. Never staying long enough for me to remove my gloves to take a photo. I like to take photos of wildlife.

Once I had purchased my hot pastry I walked a little further along the road, having spotted a picnic table. I settled onto the bench to wait out the time. With flakes of snow swirling around I warmed my fingers eating my hot pastry. It didn’t take very long before my fingers were hurting even with woolen gloves.

After about 40 minutes I couldn’t sit there any longer. I made my way slowly back to the unit containing my car. It was too early so I continued further on. Because I can’t walk very far I came back slowly. I did think of sinking down onto a kerb but knew that I wouldn’t be able to get back up easily. Then I spotted my car in one of the parking spaces. I hurried, if you can call my hobble hurried to find out the verdict. Apparently it wasn’t fixed. I wasn’t charged because they were unable to put it right. He gave a recommendation of where to take it next though.

If you can believe it I the had trouble getting into my car. The driver’s door refused to open. I had to get into the passenger side and climb over. Not easy.

Now I begin the search for another newer car.

Heavy snow forcast

All week they have been warning of 3 days of heavy snow, may cause travel disruption. All week I have been checking the weather on my phone. We would get some during the night but not much. Then again at 11am and 1pm. I went out before 11am to ensure I wouldn’t get caught. I was all cozy sat at home by 11am waiting for the promised snow. Even just a few flakes would do.

I understand that my granddaughter further east along the coast experienced her first snow flurries but nothing much. My grandson in London had snow but nothing settled.

It’s now Sunday evening and still no snow.

Again tomorrow we are expecting, or maybe not, more threat of snow around 10am/11am. It will be just my luck if we get snow when I’m heading out to take my poorly car to a garage in the hopes they can fix it. They tell me I will be waiting an hour for them to carry out a re-calibration. Hmm I hope I don’t freeze wandering around for an hour in an unfamiliar area.

Just a short walk

I wish I could go on lovely country or beach walks. I miss going on long walks in the countryside particularly the New Forest. Unfortunately in recent years my ability to walk very far in one go has been impaired by a combination of pain and shortness of breath. Now that my recovery is progressing I aim to build up my strength. Three times this week including today, I have walked to the next road and back. I know it isn’t very far. Today’s walk was 0.58k which took me 8 minutes. For most people this would be nothing but for me it is an achievement.

In the last couple of years I have managed to get thousands of step in each day. These are done in short bursts never long stretches. My husband always complained that I parked too far away from the store entrance when we went shopping. I did this purposefully to give myself just a little bit more exercise. For many years now I have been monitoring my daily steps. This began when one of my son’s was training to join RAF. We would compare steps each day. Obviously he always did more than me but it got me into a pattern. Each day I would look at the lowest number of steps during the past week and try to beat it then try to beat the next then the next with the aim of always beating the previous day.

Recently I stopped doing this because I knew that my steps were not worth measuring. I am only going out a few times a week during lockdown and usually by car. Now that my car is not playing the game I am walking more. It hurts but I am determined to increase my daily weekly steps again.

Early days of motherhood

I have been reading a book about a ‘Mummy Blogger’. In this book an aspiring writer is thrown into motherhood sooner than she was prepared for with the early birth of her daughter. She begins writing a blog about life with her new daughter. I have reached a chapter where she describes being incredibly lonely once the first visits from family and friends have dwindled and her husband is back at work. She spends a lot of time speaking to her husband on the phone whilst he is meant to be working.

Reading this has got me thinking about what it was like for me as a new mother for the first time. I had moved from Kent to Hampshire and was staying with my parents for the first few months. My father was commuting weekly between Hampshire and Kent for work. The father of my baby had been made redundant from his job. He hadn’t decided until my son was born whether he wanted to be a father. He was splitting his time between Kent and Hampshire until he found a job in Hampshire. I was alone all day Monday to Friday while everyone else was working. I didn’t know anyone locally, I didn’t have access to my own friends. This was in the days before mobile phones and even the internet . My days were revolved around my little baby boy. He was one of those babies that doesn’t want to sleep.

When he was 4 months old the three of us moved into a bungalow about 5 miles from my parents’ house. If I thought I was lonely before the loneliness was about to increase a notch. Now I found myself living in an old farm house with no neighbours. We had fields on two sides, woods on the other side and a Household Waste site across the road. My only access to a phone was the Public Telephone five minute walk away. I had no transport as my son’s father was using it for work. At least I had had my mum to talk to in the evenings and weekends before but on the plus side I didn’t need to worry about my baby crying now. I was the only one who heard him now.

Life did improve when I started working in a local DIY store down the road at weekends. My baby would be with his dad and I would be with other adults. I made a couple of friends who also had young children/babies. I’m trying to search my memory (this was 31 years ago). Both these women lived at the other side of the large village/small town. I walked everywhere in those days but I don’t think I would have walked that far. Maybe I did. More likely they came to visit me more often. Later in my son’s life I had the use of a car so I could drive everywhere but by then we had moved again to another village 3 miles from my parents’ in the opposite direction.

This little boy of mine now has a two month old daughter with his fiance. Although they also moved shortly before the birth of their daughter, life is very different now. Contact with family and friends however far or near is at the click of a button. With the wide use of digital photography and mobile phones I am able to watch the progress of my granddaughter (and my 18 month grandson in London) from a distance.

What are your memories of those early days of parenthood?

What they don’t tell you

As I have said before as in my last post, in 2001 I was diagnosed with stage III cervical cancer. In September (just a week or so after 9/11) I was given the all clear. My treatment had been successful. Yippee, hurray, I got my life back. I remember one of my boys saying “I’ve got my mummy back”. It was a time to celebrate.

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What they didn’t tell me (I was told a few people have long term bowl/bladder problems). I would from then on be terrified of food that I had always loved. I look at the fruit bowl with longing. Grannie smith apples beckon to me with their glistening green peel. Crisp pears appeal to me. Peanuts and Cashews tempt me. In short anything with fibre is dangerous to me. Last week I treated myself to a small handfull of dried fruit in the evening. I woke up in agony and had to rush to the toilet not quite getting there in time.

I can and do occasionally eat small amounts of the foods I desire but fear. I have to plan when I can eat these things ie when I don’t expect to be out of the house for long the next day. Going for long walks are a thing of the past unfortunately. Apart from the time the activity makes my bowels work harder.

As I talked about in my last post ” the cost of surviving cancer” my bladder is badly damaged and I am now awaiting major surgery to make my life better. However over the last 18 years although my bladder has been a problem it has been my bowels that have made my life so difficult. It is only the last year that my bladder has over taken my bowel problems.

This doesn’t mean that my bowel problems have become less annoying. For 18 months until this April I was delivering parcels for a living. Not the best career for someone with my problems. I would be working when I would get a feeling and have to make a mad dash either home or to the nearest place where I could use the public toilets. I didn’t always get there in time even though it might have only taken me 5 minutes. Many times I only get seconds let alone minutes notice that my body is about to eject it’s contents. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have needed to get completely changed and showered. During the years I worked in an office there were times I had to dash home to get cleaned up.

I love to wear pretty clothes, skirts, dresses, bright colours. I have had to learn to wear clothes that are dark (black or navy trousers) long tops that camoflage any accidents that may occur.

I wonder how many women would think twice about not being tested for cervical cancer if they knew that apart from the treatment which can be harrowing. If they knew that their reluctance to under go the indignity of a smear test could lead to a life like mine.

During the months of treatment there are rules that have to be adhered to. There are reasons for these seemingly odd rules. When I attended my first radiotherapy session (following weeks of tests measurements, scans etc) I was given a list of foods I couldn’t eat. Basically I could only eat food that is generally considered to be unhealthy. I still keep to this diet now because my body gives me no choice. I couldn’t wear perfume. Showers were out. Baths had to be luke warm and no bath oil or bubbles. How disconcerting to be laying in a luke warm bath with nothing to hide the floating hair. I didn’t lose the hair on my head as I didn’t have chemo, but the hair on my body.

How many women would willingly put themselves through all this for the sake of a five minute appointment if they knew what they were letting themselves in for.

I know I am lucky to be alive, others didn’t make it, however I wouldn’t wish anyone to live this way if they can avoid it.

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.

Hiatus

I know I have been absent for many months, partly because I had nothing to say. Partly because I didn’t have the time or energy. That doesn’t mean that I hadn’t thought about writing.

I have had a bad last 12 months or so including much ill health (for me) and accidents (my husband). After months of poor health (almost housebound for months), I suddenly started to get better at the end of June. Nobody is more surprised than I am that after finding it very difficult to just walk from one room to the next, I am now averaging a daily step count in excess of 12,000 steps.

In September we jointly took on a part time job delivering parcels. Ha ha I say jointly, but the reality is that I do this 97% on my own. My husband has been out with me a few times but has never managed to stick it out from the beginning to the end of the round. On the few occasions he has attempted to assist me, I have ended up leaving him in a pub whilst I complete the round.

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Step by step

I have been very lax in posting on here since Christmas. In the main part this is due to the new venture I have joined Owl in. He has not worked for coming up to 3 years now and all our reserves have slipped away for one reason or another. I was getting stressed about how we were going to manage without enough money. Whilst looking for work Owl came across an opportunity which he thought might be right up his street. To be honest it is right up many streets, and back again. Many times.

So, back in November Owl took the first steps to joining this new business venture where you can be in business for yourself but not alone. I was to be brutally truthful very very sceptical about the whole thing. The basics of this opportunity are that you deliver catalogues to households in your neighbourhood then a day later go back and collect them. The idea being that the householders will look at these catalogues, decide that they need some of the items shown even though they didn’t previously know that they needed these things. They place an order with you which you send off and when the goods arrive you take them to your new customers and collect their money. You get to keep a percentage of these payments as your profit.

Owl had just got to grips with the concept of this when he was encouraged to start selling online as well. Now this is not something that Owl was keen on himself but I could see the potential and this is when I had my ‘I get it’ moment. So I joined the business along side my husband. He would walk around the streets with his catalogues and I would sit at home (when I wasn’t at work) and sell online through facebook groups. This seemed to be quite easy and I got hooked. I would sit for hours making ads and posting them online, Sometimes I found it difficult to keep track of the number of people interested in what I was selling.

After Christmas we all had the good news that a new catalogue with branded items had been launched. Selling went through the roof for some. More local distributors began selling online and I found it harder to sell locally online. I needed to cast my net further afield. I was a little worried about this at first as it means getting people to pay up front for their purchases, but it is actually very easy. We have had a steady increase in customers through our catalogue drops, we can see the potential in this venture. We have made some really great new friends and see the things they have acheived. We want to be where they are, I have no doubts that it will happen for us.

I had been getting ever more frustrated that Owl, although he gets what he needs to do is just taking so long to do anything that rather than moaning that he wasn’t getting his catalogues out/or picking them up, I began going out there (it’s much better now the weather has improved). Sometimes I manage to get Owl to come with me delivering or picking up. Other times he is too busy doing whatever he is doing so I go alone.

Now I am by no means fit, my walking isn’t what you would call fast. However I am getting out in the fresh air, I am picking up orders, my stamina is gradually building up. Life is looking not exactly bright but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately all the time I am preparing catalogues or out delivering etc it has meant I have less time for selling online.

I am trying to view my online selling as an added bonus to the catalogue selling. One other thing that has come about in the last few days. For several years I had been using my mobile phone as a pedometer and used this daily, each day trying to beat my number of steps from the previous day. I had stopped doing this early last year, as I was finding that more and more often my steps were not recording and also my battery was constantly running down.

Anyway I digress, as often happens. Last week whilst out with the catalogues, I realised that I really ought to be keeping a log of how much walking I am doing. Last weekend on my birthday I reinstalled the App that I had previously installed on my phone. Having mentioned this to a colleague who is trying to lose weight I helped her to install a pedometer App onto her phone (not the same one, as she has a different make of phone) shortly after another colleague asked me to help her set he phone up too. Now both these ladies have dogs so they have regular dog walks to keep their steps going. I don’t have a dog but I do have catalogues. Now I am making every step count.

Yesterday my lovely Statto and the gorgeous Miss Effervecence were visiting, I took them for a walk in our local park before going out to pick up catalogues. This meant that I smashed my average steps of around 7 or 8 thousand and managed a whopping (for me 12000).

Now I am home from work and Owl has gone out delivering catalogues on his own as I wasn’t quite ready to go out. So instead of going out increasing my physical steps I am making steps to increase my online selling.