Farewell to Me and Hello to Myself – Changes with Chronic Illness

I’ve been struggling to write, to take part in blog shares or blog parties. I don’t know why….brain fog, the constant nagging pain in a near permanent dislocated shoulder, stress from an adolescent, lack of pacing, all manner of things could be blamed….I just don’t really know.

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Farewell to Me

Hubby was clearing out earlier this week and came across some DVDs that he and my brother compiled years ago from my parent’s camcorder.  You must remember the black boxes carried by all self respecting tourists about 15 years ago?  Unlike the traditional camera with a film to be exposed and turned into photographs, the stream of moving images needed to be converted from a small cassette into a format suitable to be viewed on a home system – usually a DVD player by this time!  We had forgotten we even had them but, when the writing refused to flow, I have spent several afternoons watching short clips from 12 – 20 years ago.

 

A wonderful trip down memory lane from the eldest being an inquisitive toddler – did you really let him use let hammer and hit himself, Dad/Grandad?  – to holidays abroad with all three kids, to Christmases where departed family are still very much alive and laughing alongside the rest of us.  For me it was my young children that I was watching closely and shed a few tears when my lovely Grandad appeared with the then 4 year old politics student discussing a Ninja turtle gift for Christmas 2003.

But hubby told me today that he struggled to view the clips as he was watching me!  Why?! I wondered –  what was so interesting about me being mum….pregnant, with new babe and toddler, unwrapping presents, pushing a buggy, going to work. Hmmmm – that was it!  He saw me – how I was, always on the go, winging it most of the time, particularly around my back problems, pain and EDS.  Walking, running, playing, dancing, swimming, working.

Claire & Lucy

A particularly poignant moment was hearing our lovely girl’s voice, aged 2, telling Mummy and Daddy to cuddle as she zoomed the camcorder in on us – with a little help from her brother.  On hugging a little voice shouted out “Kiss!!” – we were on holiday in France and this was our last holiday abroad as a family as chronic pain was soon to strike.

Whilst I had not really seen myself, much less watched myself (who likes watching and hearing themselves?), hubby saw the person I was and remembered the person I became.  The woman turning 40, riddled with pain and opiates, puffed up with drug weight gain and lunging into reactive depression.  The woman struggling to be a wife and mother.  Sometimes it is easy to forget that this journey with chronic illness is not ours alone.  Our nearest and dearest live it with us, the good with the bad, the happy with the sad.

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The Moonwalk

When I mentioned her dad’s comments to the lovely girl, I did feel sad that her answer was that yes, she noticed it too as she can’t remember me before my symptoms took over and my general health deteriorated.  The mum on the film looks like me, sounds like me but is almost a stranger.  Or is she?

Hubby had the final say by reminding us all that it is possible to move beyond those awful middle years.  He says that I am me again!  It sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it?! Accepting my situation, being pushed to come off the regular opiates in order to have a spinal cord stimulator and keeping as healthy as possible(!) has been transforming.

Whilst I will never be that thirty something who seemed to lose so much almost overnight as she turned 40, now as I look toward turning 50, I think that I can say that I am ME again.  I look in the mirror and as I look past the grey hair, the lack of sleep, the metal spine, the splints and mobility aids, I feel like myself and so I see MY reflection once more.

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Photo by Andre Mouton on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

Unforeseen – Life’s Curve Balls – coming fast and furious

It has been one of those weeks where nothing has quite turned out as we thought it would – the culmination of some tricky events that have escalated over the summer.  I can’t write about them yet – they aren’t just mine to tell.  But the impact on the family is great and a dash up the motorway has left this body feeling more decrepit than ever.  Chronic pain is flaring and spiralling.  Emotions are flipping between tears of worry and screams of anger; a lack of sleep and a definite lack of concentration is overwhelming.

I am sorry to have missed Monday Magic yesterday.  This poem that I found by Patricia Grantham seems appropriate!

Lifes Curve Balls - Poem by Patricia Grantham

To My Future Self – taking notice & learning life skills #SoCS

The long awaited exam results finally arrived for many this week.  There have been tears of joy and despair up and down the country – for some the exultation of achieving that 6th form place in the desired school or college, for others the disappointment of being unable to move on with friends and the upset of starting somewhere different.

To my future self

This morning the post brought hand written envelopes to a particular group of 16 year olds.  For most the plop of this missive onto the mat was unexpected, a letter that was completely forgotten.  At the beginning of their GCSE studies, the school had added Mindfulness to the timetable – a concept completely lost on many of the 15 year olds particularly the sitting quietly and not letting their minds wander.  In an effort to give them some skills to deal with the stresses that might lie ahead during the 2 year course, they were encouraged to learn about emotions, feelings and how to help themselves.

During one session, they were told to sit back and take notice of their current thoughts and feelings – and then to a write a letter to their future 16 year old self to be received just after exam results.  I wonder how many of them where accurate in their predictions about their future selves…..not their results, but their mindset, organisation, preparation and plans for the future?  If only I had written a letter to my future middle aged self……

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This post is part of Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness and was written on Saturday (I promise) with the prompt “notice” – to find out more visit Linda and more SoCS posts here

 

 

A Summer Holiday Read! Blog Tour and Book Review : The Heat is On by Helen Bridgett #LoveBooksGroupTours

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I am delighted to be a part of another LoveBooksGroup Blog Tour!  Just right for summer.

The wonderful middle aged ladies Angie and Patty, along with their best friend Charlie are back to add some sparkle to the summer.  Angie and Charlie are running their successful travel agency, the Mercury Travel Club, their friend Patty has just returned from performing on cruise ships and all three are in new relationships.

Angie has bought her first home since her divorce; her daughter Zoe is living in New York and she has a wonderful new man in her life.  She has won a local Business Entrepreneur Award and the travel agency has been going from strength to strength.  Life is good!  But this is all to change when Lorenzo enters their world with his new brand of travel agency that he opens in a shop directly opposite The Mercury Travel Club.  Suddenly the friends find themselves desperately fighting for their business as they are undercut and thwarted at every turn by the devious Lorenzo – can they find ways to remain one step ahead with innovative and fun ideas, to maintain their loyal customer base and to woo new clients?

A unique opportunity presents itself in the shape of a beautiful island retreat, which could give the friends the USP that they need for the survival of the Mercury Travel Club.  Add maintaining their personal relationships and growing new ones into the mix – what could possibly go wrong?

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This is the second book in the series, and whilst I always recommend reading a series from the start, The Heat is On can definitely be read as a stand-alone – there really is enough explanation to understand the back stories.  The antics of the pals make this the perfect light, romantic comedy to pack in your suitcase and read on the beach!  The book is fun, witty and easy to read – maybe not a great literary novel, but certainly a very enjoyable one!

Angie, Patty and Charlie are funny, lovable and in possession of real human traits.  For me some of their most endearing qualities are those that are reflective of real life and not some magazine styled ideal – failed relationships, insecurities, less than perfect bodies, inability to cook, embarrassing parents, turbulent love lives and a love of life.  They show that it is possible to be middle aged and still have a sense of adventure and joie de vivre.  The friends are loyal, protective and love each other – this gives the book a real feel good factor.

The characters are funny, scatty and seem to invite disaster at every turn.  But they are also lovable, believable and it felt joyful to be a part of their story.  I love a well written classic piece of literature, but I equally love a well written, contemporary, light hearted tale and would definitely describe this book in this category.  Angie is a great character and I can easily both laugh with her and cry with her – this woman has soul!  Patty is larger than life and just makes me smile every time she enters the room.  Charlie provides the balance to his female friends – the voice of reason yet also passionate and driven.  Perhaps my favourite character is Angie’s mum – so funny and always there at just the wrong moment to make an entrance.

A joy to read, this is a light hearted, romantic comedy that doesn’t pretend to be anything else – a perfect, unpretentious read for the summer!  4 stars

With thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for including me on this blog tour.

Available from:

Amazon:

Book 1 –

Book 2 –

 

Waterstones

WHSmith

 

About the Author

Helen has always loved books and always loved writing. One year she decided her New Year’s resolution would be “Write a novel to give as a Christmas present”. She spent the year writing and The Mercury Travel Club was born.

Helen hails from the North East but now lives in Manchester. bridgett
Following a career in Marketing, Helen took an MA in TV and Radio Scriptwriting and created short films before writing her first novel. She loves nothing more than a glass of wine and witty banter with friends; her love of dialogue feeds into her work and has given her the perfect excuse to eavesdrop on conversations. Helen lives with her husband and their chocolate Labrador, Angus; all three can often be found wandering the Cumbrian hills or in country pubs.

Like many people, Helen believes that the music you grow up with as a teenager stays with you for the whole of your life. Being a child of 80’s rock, when she hears the opening riff to Sweet Child of Mine, she cannot be held responsible for her actions!

Find Helen:

Website: Helen Bridgett.com

Twitter: @Helen_Bridgett

Goodreads

Publisher: Red Door Publishing

My Guest Post on “You are Awesome” Love Letter – Do You Remember?

Last week I was thrilled to be featured on Angela Noel’s blog “You are Awesome – Celebrating Inspiring People and Interesting Ideas” as her regular Love Letter guest post.

This is actually a poem that I wrote over 14 years ago for one of my closest friends, who had just died after a 2 year battle with breast cancer.  We found ourselves in a situation that I could never have envisaged as our close friendship became one of nurse and patient.  I was recognising signs and symptoms before they were diagnosed, and I encouraged her to accept a referral to my place of work for palliative care.  The day that I called my consultant to arrange for her to be admitted and then called her hubby to tell him, I went home and sobbed.

The next day I donned my blue dress and I went to work to care for my patients and my friend.  I was the nurse in charge and had to be professional, but after handing over to the night shift I couldn’t stop myself from begging the night girls to take good care of her.  She came home the next day, a Saturday, and died at home the early hours of Tuesday morning.  She was 37 and had the most beautiful smile in the world.

Please visit Angela’s post to read my full poem:

Love Letter : Do You Remember?

and have a look around the blog as Angela is one of the most inspirational and beautiful writers that I follow.  Thank you Angela for having me!

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Why Me? Well Why Not me? A Trip in the Tardis won’t be Changing my Lot!

Today I finished reading a science fiction book that has got me thinking – not my usual cup of tea but I have been asked to review it, so that will be coming!  Anyway the premise of the story was of life taking different turns and thus different timelines – the what if? or sliding doors scenario.  The main character finds himself with 3 different versions of himself due to time travel – the timelines all run from 1965 to 2016 and the world is a very different place in each one.  Which timeline is the correct one for the world? Is there such a thing as the “correct” one? How can one minute action change the whole future of the world? If we were all given different life timelines would it be possible to always make the right choices?

Life is full of uncertainties and every day is full of actions that will have consequences. How many times have you wondered after an event “what would have happened if I’d gone left rather than right?” It made me think about a recent conversation where a mother was saying that her poor teen child was always the one that things went wrong for, had the worst health problems, and suggested everyone around them should be sympathetic.  She said “When my teen gets upset and asks why does it always happen to me, I agree that it isn’t fair.”

Why Me

But is this the right way to answer?  Is Mum allowing the teen to always put the blame for every situation on to someone else? It may be better to stand up straight, shoulders back and tell the world “well I don’t like what has been handed to me, but I’m going to damned well get on with it”.  Over the years a powerful message that I learnt from so many patients was the “Well why NOT me mentality?”.  As you all know I can apply this to my health – I don’t have a fatal condition (neither does the teen!), but it is tricky to live with and I find it hard to think I may be like this for another 40 years.  I wonder if I hadn’t taken up rowing aged 12, or if I hadn’t become a nurse, or if I hadn’t fallen down the stairs in my second pregnancy and hurt my back again (hmmm….might answer some of the questions about son number 2!!), or hadn’t had a third pregnancy, or had genetic testing, or, or, or…..there could be so many different timelines if only something had been done differently.

But what a waste of energy.  The past can’t be changed and sadly I don’t yet have a time machine…..and even if Dr Who did offer me a spin in the Tardis, how much would it change?  Not my genetic condition…..I could think “Why me?”, but actually the bigger question is “Why not me?”.  When a close friend died aged 37 from breast cancer, I did ask “Why her?”…….but then look out the window and it could be anyone’s mother, father, brother, sister, friend couldn’t it?  If I could change our family timeline I would want to ensure that my kids hadn’t inherited EDS and that nothing bad would ever happen – but I can’t do that, so my job is to ensure that they accept it, live life to the full and for the moment.  If problems arise – the politics student’s migraines, the lovely girl’s dislocations and pain – then we will deal with them…..but by shouting “why me? it’s not fair….” is not going to help.

So, back to my novel – the main character found that every time the scientist invented a new machine, he also invented the “accident” of that machine; every time he was sent back to try to alter the timeline/revert to the original timeline, his actions would have a knock on effect….with unforeseen consequences.  I think I am actually starting to sound like my old physics teacher – for every action there is an equal and opposite action – or something like that!  So I guess for me and the teen, it means we have to get up, not dwell on the bad bits (sometimes easier said than done) and get on with the good bits.  But this is only one old crone’s ramblings!

Although if I’d had that time machine and could have made it so that I could join in at the SHS Burn’s night dancing last night…..equally I think hubby, Duncan, would be turning his back so that he wasn’t swept up to do the Gay Gordons!!

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Burns Night Celebration – picture from SHS Association

Have a great weekend!

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