Thursday, 20 May 2010

Real men wear pink

Several years' ago, me and my man visited America; starting at San Francisco before driving down the Pacific Highway to Los Angeles. We arrived at our hotel in the evening and decided to catch a tram down to the dock. There was standing room only on the tram, so my man and I stood. The tram pulled to a halt and a man squeezed between us, brushing his hand lightly across my man's bottom, saying seductively, 'my, you have a nice smile.' This was a bit of a shock to us both; being quite naively British and very 'straight'. My tall and macho man was wearing a pink denim shirt at the time and reflected that perhaps it was the pink shirt that 'did it' and he pondered on whether or not to wear it again. Yes, wear it, said I... real men wear pink... a colour does not denote your sexual orientation... (or does it)?

Now my new friend has just bought a pink polo shirt... he is a real man too! By 'real' I mean he is at ease with his sexuality and does not shy away from a colour that traditionally has not been seen as a man's colour.

For Me? I prefer blue!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

New Beginnings

My garden and I have sprung to life once again! Hence a trip to a garden centre took place where I strolled through the Rose section and saw a Rose named 'New Beginnings'. A nice commemoration I think! And very apt!

It's been a long time since I felt this good! My stomach problems are drifting away and all tests seem to come back normal; I have lost a bit of weight, which pleases me and I have found a new friend.

For the first time in four years and seven months I feel as though I can move forward without looking back; plan things; do new things; meet new people; organise my career and start again.

Writing my blog along the way has been therapeutic, cathartic and enlightening... leading me forwards to this point. Thank you blog friends for making the sometimes unbearable journey with me... now I can begin a new Chapter of my life and will not speak again of death, bereavement and loss.

I may go back and buy that Rose!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Meerkat with broom handle

I wasn't looking forward to an Endoscopy, so opted for the heavy sedation rather than a throat numbing spray. The waiting room was packed with similarly worried looking people of all ages. My daughter sat with me, not reading her magazine; both of us quite silent... waiting. Eventually I was called into a room to have a 'chat' to the nurse. I explained that I had a sore throat and a headache, therefore, would it be better to come back another day? She took my temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and said I was okay to go ahead! Bugger! I really did have a sore throat and headache! She asked how often I suffered with acid reflux. "I don't" I replied. She asked why I'd been referred, so I went through the whole story again before returning to the waiting room and my daughter.

Twenty minutes later, a tall man in gown and pulled-down mask appeared and in a Russian or Eastern-block accent, called my name. I followed him in to a surgery. He was talking to me, but either I was mentally in another place, or his accent was too thick for me to comprehend. I sat on the trolley while he tried to find a suitable vein, (I think my vascular system had shrunk with fear)! He kept dropping things, so I asked jokingly, "Have you done this before?" he giggled. Now I was really starting to worry!

I laid down on my side, as instructed while he injected me with something saying, "you vil soon be very sleepy". Good, I thought! However... I seemed to be awake throughout the whole thing and remember them talking around me, discussing what was coming up on screen, while I gagged my way through it all. I remember them wheeling me into a little recovery ward, along with other women laying on their left sides, who were all happily snoring their heads off! I asked the nurse why I was awake. "Oh you've been awake all through it... some people are!" she said matter-of-factly. My throat was so very sore; I'm sure he'd used a broom handle!

My daughter was shown in and the nurse came back with a line drawing of what a stomach looks like and where they'd taken biopsies. At the bottom was a prescription. "Take this to your GP so that you can start taking it dear. It will help with the acid reflux." I replied groggily, "I don't have acid reflux". She smiled at my daughter and said I could go as soon as I could walk across the ward and back unaided.

The outcome? It seems I have ulcers, a sliding tear and a hernia. The biopsies were to test for Helocobacter Pylori, which my blood tests had highlighted, and was probably the cause. I am still waiting for the report to me and my GP and the possible and very necessary antibiotics for H.Pylori . Meanwhile I keep wondering how a tear can slide!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Different worries

There's nothing like a health crisis with another beloved member of my family to take my mind off my own health concerns; namely... daughter suddenly losing vision in one eye after suffering continued sharp pain at the back of her head! Several visits to the JR hospital (which I'm becoming quite intimate with) and endless waiting on chairs in numerous clinics later, she and I leave for home, armed with several further appointments on a little yellow card. No-one can explain it, so my daughter continues to take a variety of painkillers and is a little upset that the laser eye op two years' ago has now reverted to a worse prescription than before. No, it has nothing to do with the laser op, they say.

Then mid-week my daughter is admitted to the Stroke ward of the JR as the headache worsens, her speech is affected and eyesight just as bad! She undergoes various tests including an MRI and told to expect a lumber puncture at some point.

Then last night while I rushed down to her house to look after the two boys, I had a phone call to say the MRI scan was clear, she'd refused the Lumber puncture and was on her way home. She has not suffered a stroke and they still have no answer for the prolonged loss of vision. So... in the next few weeks she will be undertaking more various tests as an outpatient, while I will be having an endoscopy this coming Wednesday.

I have discovered that since giving up wheat/gluten products completely, I have felt much better. It has now been confirmed that I do not have Haemochromatosis; my liver is perfectly fine, albeit with a small lesion that is benign and like a scar that has probably been there since birth. I do not have kidney or lung disease and I'm not diabetic. However, one of my previous blood tests has shown an anti-body to B12 and is being investigated further. I must say, that while some of the administration processes of the JR vary in efficacy; the thoroughness of most of the medical staff are pretty good!

As for the builders and the man from NHBC... the damage is cosmetic only therefore does not need a claim, and the builder, he who was bullish and brutish, has turned into a lamb; he's sort of apologised for his previous behaviour and has offered to repair the rendering free of charge.


Friday, 26 February 2010

Surreal conversations

It's turned out to be a strange week... perhaps the moon is in conjunction with Uranus? No letter of appointment for the hospital after giving an armful of blood and an enduring an MRI scan; so I rang the clinic and asked Miss Efficiency (very politely) if I could expect notification soon regarding my next appointment. It was as if I'd unleashed the Gods down upon her..."How do I know what your doctor looked like?" But, I didn't ask! "Was she young with short fair hair?" she continued... "umm, can't remember, but I don't think her appearance really is the issue here..." I replied. "Did she tell you that you would have an appointment?" she shouted down the phone at me. "Yes, - I would get a letter asking me back to the clinic in three weeks' time... and that three weeks is up..." I didn't finish my sentence, she transferred me back to reception, whereupon I asked to speak to the secretary of the clinic's consultant. Answermachine! I left a polite, gentle message, not wishing to unleash the Gods again. I did get a response... a polite message saying my letter would be in the post... and an apology for not having received the letter by now. Result!

Then two days' ago I was driving along our narrow little lane, going slowly around the bend (ha), when a man in white van came straight at me at speed, I swerved into the hedge, narrowly escaping having a wrecked car. Boy, did I swear! I extricated my now scratched car out of the hedge (white van man didn't stop)... and went to the village shop (now housed in the local pub), and collected my paper, still shaking while relaying the incident to the ladies behind the counter. I drove back along my lane looking in all the driveways for the white van... no luck; he'd gone. I wanted to confront him, knowing full well I'd only get a mouthful in return.

And, just half an hour ago, the two builders whom I've been trying to get round here to look at the crumbling rendering on my new house, turned up. I opened the front door and about to say hello, when I had a tirade along the lines of: "It's Frost! Not our problem... you should have painted the rendering by now." "Hello" I replied. He continued, "We were only responsible for the first 2 years, and these houses were built 7 years' ago..." I interjected, ", five years and that's the date on the NHBC insurance certificate." He towered above me and shouted down, "No, 7 years!" By this time I was trembling a bit but determined not to show it. I said, "I don't want to argue with you, just tell me if you will give me a quote for the work and I shall contact NHBC." He calmed down a bit, and said, "yeah, we'll do the work... but it's your fault the rendering has come off." "How", I asked. "You should have had it painted, 'cos you live on an exposed site." I reminded him that my immediate neighbours had had their rendering painted two years' ago, and they are also pursuing a claim for cracked rendering, so clearly, painting it didn't prevent the problem. I stood back inside my porch at this point. He drew breath and I interjected again... "I shall get back to you after I've spoken to NHBC about this." I smiled and closed the door. I have just spoken to James at NHBC who is sending around an assessor and has assured me that painting the rendering is just cosmetic and that the rendering should be up to the job. Hey Ho... we shall see what happens!

Tonight I'm off to Art Club... someone very arty is coming to offer a critique of work... I don't think I shall put myself up for a critique yet! Not until the Moon disappears completely up Uranus!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Stately Garden in the Cotswolds

Last summer my friends and I visited many National Trust properties as well as other grand houses open to the public. I took lots of photos and upon stumbling across one the other day, ... decided to try and paint it!

It started out as just a simple line and wash attempt... but I wanted to play with wet-in-wet and this is the result... a doorway to who knows what...

Yesterday I had another scan... an MRI this time. Still no firm diagnosis; the consultant was annoyed that the previous Ultrasound scan doc had presumed to diagnose Haemochromotosis without all tests being concluded. I suppose she's right, but I'm still left with no firm diagnosis yet and don't know what to eat or do in the meantime. I actually feel a lot better, although still have some aches and pains in the upper right abdomen region. Trouble is, while all this is still in the 'don't know' box, I can't seem to concentrate or plan anything for the future. I just want to get healthy again and start living life to the full. I've spent too much time grieving and am now ready to move on... seriously!

All that aside... I am a member of the local Arts Group, and have just looked at other members' art work...Wow! What a talented group they are. I have just lost all confidence in my own ability! Perhaps I should take up plumbing instead!!

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Like most of the population, apart from Bournemouth who haven't had snow, I have now had enough!

I made my way to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, skidding along my lane until I came to a road that was more drive able... joined the queues onto the ring road and stayed in nose to bumper traffic for an hour and a bit. Then came the trauma of trying to park the car at the JR with no electric parking signs working, cars abandoned all over the place, cars skidding into parked ones... in all another 35 minutes until I abandoned my car on a patch of snow-covered grass under a tree.

I entered the nearest door and then walked for another 15 minutes until I found the Radiology Department. I expected to wait another 30 minutes, but amazingly I was shown straight in and then began the ultrasound on my abdomen. In conclusion, and with phone calls to my GP and other departments, it seems my problem is Hemochromatosis (iron overload in the body) ... an inherited condition that if untreated at the early stages inevitably leads to Diabetes, Heart attack and or disease, Lung disease, Kidney disease or failure, Stroke and Liver failure. Not the news I wanted to hear. So now I have to see a specialist, will need an MRI scan to see what damage has occurred and will probably have to have blood taken from me on a very regular basis in order to try and remove the stored iron in my organs. Of course I looked it all up on the NHS website and I may now have a shortened lifespan as a result. It explains my brother's diabetes and my parents' and grandparents' early death from Heart disease and Stroke.

Of course, I've been doing all the wrong things for the past 9 months... due to feeling tired all the time, I increased my iron intake via supplements... wrong move! I've been eating all the wrong foods; salmon, liver, steak etc - all high in iron. I should drink more Tea (Tanning helps reduce iron intake); avoid red meat, shellfish and any sugary foods. I look pale, sometimes grey and am losing weight. I managed to get through to the busy outpatients' reception desk this morning... (too many fractures and no staff available), to try and bring the appointments forward, but no luck yet.

So now I have to think of my children and their children... the faulty gene is passed down... some are carriers, and some, like me will have this condition. Apparently, it is more common than doctors first thought and as many as one in one hundred people have this condition and remain undiagnosed. My iron overload has gone straight to my Liver and has formed clusters, one of which is just behind my Gall Bladder and is causing me pain. Ironically, (pardon the pun), I now hardly ever drink red wine, which along with tea, contains tannins that reduce iron intake. Not that I'm about to start - my Liver is too important for me to get it wrong again! I just wish that this condition had been picked up when I'd visited various GPs over the past three years.

Today I hope to get the car out of the garage and venture into the nearest town for a paper. That's if I can negotiate past the piled up snow by my gate and path... left there by my neighbour who has constantly been clearing his side of the driveway! If I had any energy I would clear my side.