Filing Feelings

We finally got round to doing some ‘filing’ in our house recently.  That makes it sound very glam and like I was wearing a pencil skirt and following an index system at the time, when in fact I was wearing my pyjamas, and tossing old bills at the dog who would then rip them into tiny pieces (who needs a fancy shredder?!)
Yes in reality, filing is just when the desk starts to bow under the weight of unopened bank statements (I know, I know, won’t someone think of the trees?! Blame Chris, not me, I bank online!) and appointment cards and nursery newsletters and the such, so that we finally have to do something about it.
Most of the stuff goes in the bin, and then anything worth keeping gets put in one of four box files. It’s all very dull and necessary.  I actually found an unopened letter from our pet insurer which was dated the end of November, telling me that the price of Fudge’s insurance was about to double.  That would probably have been good to know 4 months ago…*sigh* In my defence, a lot of shit was going down in November, and I spent a week of it in hospital, and even managed to get myself diagnosed with two rare conditions.  So perusing our renewal quote on the dog insurance wasn’t really high on my agenda.
There’s always shit left over, at the end of the ‘filing’, that has nowhere to go. Often times it ends up in the bin also but there’s some stuff it’s hard to be ruthless over…
Scan photos, from a pregnancy that didn’t work out…
Pathway Plans, and minutes of meetings from when I was in care as a teenager…
An instruction booklet for a calculator my Dad gave me, that still has workings out scribbled on it in both his and my Mum’s handwriting…
A Bliss DVD about resuscitation that I am supposed to have watched as part of my job- you know, the job I haven’t been to in over 7 months…
What am I supposed to do with this shit?  There is no box file for “Things that make me feel weird” (an oversight on our part, it seems). In the end they sat in a pile on the table for a couple of days until I couldn’t bear looking at them anymore and they got shoved back where they came from- the deepest darkest recesses of the desk (and my mind).
And then just a few days after our filing extravaganza this arrived in the post:
A letter, about the whooping cough vaccine, being offered to women who are more than 28 weeks pregnant. Yes, it would appear my GP surgery still think I am pregnant. 33 weeks pregnant to be precise. This is despite the fact that they have received my discharge summary from St Mary’s Hospital, where I had my miscarriage medically managed last October, and correspondence from Sheffield Centre for Trophoblastic Disease who are still testing my urine every fortnight following my Molar diagnosis.
There was no doubt where this letter was going- straight in the bin.
If only filing my feelings were as easy.



How I Am

Several lovely people keep checking in with me to see how I am. I think they mean “How I am feeling” as opposed to say, “How I am still alive after everything that has happened these past couple of months“, although frankly that feels like a relevant question too.
The answer is “Ok”. And also, “I don’t know”.
I’m able to attend to most of my daily needs- showering, toileting, getting dressed, eating and drinking, entirely independently. I can walk without help and without falling down. I can even manage the stairs with my trusty crutch. I left the house for the first time yesterday and that was totally fine. So really, when I think about it, I’m doing ok.
Certainly compared to this time 2 weeks ago, when a bruised and defeated version of myself lay in a bed on AMU hooked up to the magical 2nd dose of immunoglobulins that seemed to kick start my recovery. In fact some days when people ask me how I am, I feel like resorting to hyperbole and images flash through my mind of me cartwheeling around the room shouting “Spectacular!” and “Superb!” because physically, although I’m probably only about 85% back to normal, compared to how bad I was I feel about a million times better.
On the other hand, when people ask me how I am, I feel stumped. A simple question leads to a spiral of confusion. At any given point in time I find it almost impossible to identify a singular emotion that would cover my current state of being.
I feel genuine happiness at being home and reunited with Chris and my boys. I feel so much gratitude and huge crashing great waves of relief at how well my recovery is going. I feel stressed about our impending house move, and frustrated at the timing and how inconvenient it is and how little help I can be on a practical level. Although there is also a tinge of excitement mixed in there, of fresh starts and new beginnings. I feel worried about family and friends, who have their own struggles and who’s battles, unlike my own are not yet definitely won. I feel terrified that this may yet turn out to be only an interlude in my own battle and that my symptoms might come back or I might wake up one day to find I can’t move again.  I feel sad about the loss of our baby, about the plans we made that now won’t be and the space in our future that now waits to be filled, or not. And occasionally I feel overwhelmingly and irrationally angry. I’m talking pure unapologetic rage. Towards people, towards things, towards life itself. It comes out of nowhere and in a flash it’s gone again, leaving me wondering if a side effect of IVIG therapy is some kind of Banner-esque transformation.
The fatigue aspect of recovering from Guillan-Barre has been spectacular. Always inclined towards narcolepsy, in the sense that I have an ability to fall asleep any time any place (a distinct advantage when it comes to juggling shift work and motherhood) I now find myself like a cat. Delighted to be alive and yet unable to fully appreciate what life has to offer because I need to spend about 16 hours of every 24 asleep. Waking up is a several hours long process compared to getting to sleep which doesn’t even require my eyes to be closed before the process begins.
Today I didn’t get out of bed until 10am. I spent most of the afternoon sat on the sofa in my pyjamas wrapping ornaments and picture frames in bubble wrap and placing them in a box because it was the most “helpful and yet restful” thing I could think to do. Even so by teatime I was unreasonably exhausted and I fell asleep whilst putting Toby to bed, before even he himself went to sleep and woke up an hour or so later, summoning up just enough energy to transfer myself into my own bed before zonking out again.
Admittedly I’m awake now but that’s only because Chris came to check where the hell I had got to and his presence in the room woke me up (and scared the shit out of me) so I decided to sit and drink some ribena and potter a little on my phone before falling asleep at a slightly more reasonable hour for someone (well) over the age of eight.
When I think of how I used to spend entire days from 6am until 7.30pm in sole charge of the kids and then go work a busy night shift before getting back home at 8am and then sometimes sleeping for a couple of hours or maybe not at all before continuing where I left off with shopping and cooking and cleaning and playing etc. It’s hard for me to comprehend how I was even still alive.
These days all I can manage is some light packing and/or childcare duties (after about 12 hours sleep) and I’m done for. It’s like getting used to a whole new pace of life. Pace being the operative word and something I think I am going to struggle with because I like everything doing yesterday and find it difficult to differentiate between urgent and non urgent tasks. Chris calls it “impulse control issues” as it often leads to me undertaking ridiculous tasks at the most inopportune times because I can’t bear to just let it go for another minute. I know I am going to have to learn though if I want to keep the momentum going with my recovery without setting myself back. It’s just going to be hard.
So, if you ask me “How I am” and it takes me a few minutes to formulate a reply. Or indeed if my reply is a garbled nonsensical string of words, then you’ll understand why.

Back after a break

It’s over a week since my last blog entry so there’s lots to tell but how much of it will be of interest to anyone other than myself is anyone’s guess 😉
I haven’t been online much at all to be honest, part of that has been because of work keeping me busy but also because Chris has had some time off and I’ve wanted to really enjoy our family time as much as possible, knowing it’s likely to be much more scarce in the coming months as he starts his final “Prep for Practice” placement ready to qualify/graduate in August (Eeeeeep!)
Another factor has been my emotional stability (or lack thereof) and thus my need to take some time away from the internet, which in all it’s awesomeness can nonetheless sometimes be…well…a bit much. I am not normally an advocate of the “sand, head, go forth and bury” approach but I really needed some time to just enjoy my little family and see some beauty in the ordinariness of life because I am such a bucket of emotion at the minute I was really in danger of allowing all the rubbishness and sadness and craziness of the world to just fill me up to the brim.  Having a few days of just dipping in to facebook now and again to deposit a few photos of my children to share with friends and family, and skimming the occasional article online seems to thankfully have stopped that from happening, and given me time instead to tip some crap out of that bucket and make space for some positivity instead.
Bad things are happening the world over and earlier in the week had me crying into my ovaltine, which you should know, is a good look for me.  On a more personal level, there are lots of things happening close to home that are difficult too, and it seems like lots of my time recently is being spent with a head full of whirling thoughts about how things are and what might come next and how to help, and what to do, and searching for answers and solutions, of which by the way, there are very few that are probable or indeed possible.  Fun days with my boys don’t stop the bad things or the difficult things or even the whirling thoughts but they do put them all on hold until a time when I’m ready to face them, deal with them and attempt to tackle them.
So, what have we actually been doing? Well, we went to a farm!

In the Batmobile, which once was shiny and is no more.  Farms- full of mud and hay apparently, who’d have guessed?!

Chris had to sit this one out as he was squirreling away working on his Final Ever Essay as an undergraduate student (unless he fails and has to resubmit but he’s a clever thing so I’m pretty confident that won’t happen) We had a brilliant day though.  Rudy loves animals, I mean, I know all small people do, but he gets so excited, and although he doesn’t know the names (aside from “caaaaa” which could be car or cat depending on context) he is an expert at animal noises.  Possibly the most adorable part of the day was when, after ten minutes in a barn with a load of noisy lambs he actually just started “baa”ing as though having a conversation with them and us, in this new found language.

Very very cute.  As are lambs by the way!

And in fact, all baby animals! The teeny tiny piglets were possibly my favourite:

Although mama pig was GRUMPY and HUNGRY, flinging them out of her way with her snout so he could get to the feed we’d thrown in the pen.  Lots of the animal mamas were breastfeeding although there were some formula feed lambs, in the interests of infant feeding equality 😉 and I must confess I did find myself over-identifying slightly, in a “She has to feed HOW MANY babies?! No wonder she looks tired, poor mama!”

Toby declined a donkey ride, and we missed the tractor trailer ride but I’m sure we’ll go back there again over the summer.  It’s not our most local open farm but it’s a lot bigger than our local one so even though it was busy it didn’t feel crowded as such and there was more open space for the boys to do their thing, aka, run wild!
This week we’ve been over in Bangor visiting Chris’s Mum and sisters, although only for the day, which is never long enough but it’s still good.  This is the first trip we’ve had in a long time where the sun was actually shining so the boys got to explore Nana’s garden, which they loved. (See above re: running wild being their most bestest and favouritest activity!)

Chris’s Mum Joy isn’t well, and is on the transplant list for a new liver so having to attend lots of appointments and undergo lots of investigations at the minute, which is hard for her most of all, but also for everyone who worries about her and wants to help.  We feel slightly useless living a hundred miles away (literally) but trying to help in whatever way we can.

I maintain it’s crazy that in this country we have an “opt in” rather than “opt out” system when it comes to organ donation, meaning that only around 30% of people are actually signed up to the organ donation register when the reality is, most of us would be happy to accept an organ if we needed one.  Either my math is bad or else that means that the majority of folk have a “If it’s not affecting me then it doesn’t concern me” attitude, which is pretty sad.  I have a pretty relaxed attitude when it comes to my body, in the sense that I have been signed up for organ donation since I was a teenager, I give blood and I am on the bone marrow transplant register also.  Basically, if anybody needs anything and I’ve got some spare, they’re welcome to it. An attitude I try to apply throughout my life, except possibly when it comes to chocolate. Or wine. But you get the idea 😉
Oh and we went to the airport.  It was cloudy and windy and absolutely NOT the perfect day to do some amateur plane spotting.  I say amateur because there are some people there who take it VERY seriously indeed and I’m not sure what they made of Chris and Toby racing around pretending to be aeroplanes or me shrieking into the wind “LOOK RUDY! A PLANE! FLYING IN THE SKY!” Haha.

We had a delicious lunch at a pub near the airport which probably contained my allowed calories for about five days in the chocolate fudge cake alone.  And that was before I poured the cream on.  But nevermind, I’ll get back in my size 12 jeans one day…possibly just for that day but it’s going to happen!
I’m still running in preparation for the Great Manchester Run which is happening scarily soon, and I am still in desperate need of donations which are all going towards equipment to improve the lives of two children with a rare genetic condition Findlay and Iona so if anyone wants to contribute I’d be super happy! I can only jog about half the distance I need to at this point so training may need to step up a gear (or several) in these coming weeks so if you don’t hear much from me, assume I am running around Levenshulme with my face the colour of my hair trying to improve my stamina without wearing away my poor knee caps, who have an appointment with a physiotherapist this week (Finally!  Wahoo!)
And last but certainly not by any means least I went to a one day workshop run by Doula UK on an “Introduction to the work of a doula” and I absolutely LOVED it and, as Chris can attest, came home buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm and it’s something I am definitely interested in pursuing in the (I hope not too distant) future!
Whew! I think that just about rounds off the catch up!
Well if any of you are still reading, well done! I assume you don’t have small children, or if you do, you may want to take a look around as if they’re anything like mine they’ve probably scaled a bookcase/emptied out all our kitchen cupboards/flooded your bathroom by now (or possibly all three!) Errr…sorry!  GOOD LUCK!

My Dad

It’s 3 years today since my Dad passed away. I wish i could say peacefully but i don’t know because i wasn’t there. He was unwell and had been in hospital a week when it happened. I hadn’t visited because i had a brand new baby and the ward he was on was closed with diarrhea and vomiting. And anyway, we all thought he’d get better, that he’d bounce back like he’d always done. And then he took a sudden turn for the worse, and died at around 4am on 20th December 2009.
His official cause of death was pneumonia, but that was exacerbated by malnutrition and both those were secondary to the massive stroke he’d had in January 2008 and that was a direct result of his alcoholism so really, in the end, when it comes down it, it was the drink that killed him.
Growing up with an alcoholic Dad, i always knew of course that he wasn’t going to live to a ripe old age but he was so resilient. He’d been abusing his body and getting away with it for so long, the idea he wouldn’t be able to get away with it forever was quite an abstract one. So even though it was expected in some ways it was also a massive shock. He was 49.
When it happened, and for a long time after, i didn’t really know what to think or how to feel about it. I cried after the viewing, and at the funeral, but Toby was 6 weeks old so i had to just keep carrying on as normal, and he was a fantastic distraction:
That’s him the day after my Dad died, the first smile we managed to catch on camera. And all dressed up for his Grandad’s funeral:
The only photo i took that day.
It was such a bittersweet time.
When my Dad died he had two Grandsons he’d never had chance to meet, Toby and my nephew Zach who was only 2 weeks old:
Since he’s been gone he’s gained two more grandsons, and earlier this year, a granddaughter.
To some extent i think i’m still not sure how i feel or how to find the words to say what i want to say.
But i suppose all it comes down to is that he was my Dad, and like many eldest daughters i was a Daddy’s girl. And i miss him but i don’t wish him back. It wouldn’t be right or fair. He was so unhappy for such a long time. And i could write a thousand blog posts questioning why, hell i could write a BOOK on it and would still have barely scratched the surface but it would mostly be speculation anyway.
If i could talk to him today i think i’d just want to know if he was happy, and to wish him a merry christmas.
Everyone who knew him knows how much he loved christmas. He WAS christmas, even though every year, despite his best intentions he’d inevitably end up causing some kind of trouble for somebody.  But he loved it, i mean, he really loved it.  The tree went up in November and the christmas music was on a loop throughout December.  I’m sure my love of this time of year stems at least in part from him.  And because i was born 3 days before christmas it just made it all the more magical for him.  He used to call me his “christmas angel”.
Merry christmas Dad and Rest in Peace.