Empathy

When I wrote last week’s blog post Rainbow Bridge  I never expected in a million years the response that it received. It wasn’t just me hubby had people coming up to him in work, telling him that they couldn’t read it without shedding a tear or that it said what they felt but had never been able to express it. I had followers on Instagram contacting me about their recent losses and long ago losses too. On Facebook it was the same, with many people contacting me or leaving a comment. . It was emotionally hard as I am very empathetic, so when people start to get tearful when they are talking to me, it makes me cry too. But when I wrote the post I was half expecting it to stir up a lot of emotions because I had been in such a mess as I wrote it. I have to be honest I never did a final check on the post to look for errors, mainly because I found it so upsetting to read, it was real and raw. I haven’t even gone back to look at it now to refresh my memory before writing this one. I just can’t do it, I have already been in tears today twice over the dogs. It is always just bubbling away under the surface for me at the moment, although to look at me or to see any of my social media posts you would never know.

I am so touched that something I have written has moved so many people. I thank each and everyone of you who commented or messaged me. It was very hard last Thursday as I had no idea how it would be received. I had no clue if people would think I was wallowing, being self indulgent or a drama queen. That people would think that I should pull myself together and get on with the rest of my life. I promise you I am not self indulgent, wallowing or being a drama queen. I just write about life and my experiences. I try to give a voice to those feelings that we push down and don’t let anyone else see. I take a chance that people won’t reject me or ridicule me because I try to talk about things that many would rather brush under the carpet. Although there have been several articles regarding the death of a pet in National newspapers it is still treated with some degree of disbelief by those who have never had an animal / pet in their lives. 

The whole point of my post was for you – whoever you are, know that it is ok to feel whatever you are feeling, to express your grief ( and it is your’s and no one else’s) anyway that you like. That these feelings are totally normal. You are not weird, you aren’t wallowing in your grief, you aren’t an attention seeker and you are certainly not being a drama queen. You are hurting and it will take time to process all that emotion. Hell I am only 8 months on and there are days where I can barely keep it together. Days where all I do is cry. Days when I feel guilty when I know rationally I have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. I just wanted you to know you aren’t going mad, I honestly thought at times I was losing it. All of those feelings, even the uncontrollable rage that even surprises you when you roar, is totally normal. It is the beast called grief and it doesn’t have to be something that you go through alone.

As I touched on in my blog post even when you have suffered from a significant bereavement such as a partner / child / sibling / parent / friend, people who haven’t been through that kind of grief can’t begin to imagine the enormity of the feelings of loss and pain. They may see you red faced, tear stained and see your grief but that is soon forgotten because it has no direct impact on their lives. The next time they see you, taking the kids to school, going to work, getting the shopping – all things you have to do despite the pain and grief they assume you are “better”. They don’t understand that grief goes on forever. They seem to think that grief has a timeline and by a certain amount of time say 6-12 months maybe sooner if they are real dicks, you “should” be “over” it. How do you explain that there is no getting over it? You are just getting through each day the best you can. There will be good days, bad days and the worst kind of days.  Life will probably never be the same again. But there will never be or has there ever been for anyone who is grieving a time when they are over it. Getting Over It has to be the most grotesque phrase ever. Followed by Time is a great healer. There is no healing from grief, you carry that pain forever.

I had people contacting me about dogs they had lost thirty years ago during their childhood that they still mourned for.  Others told me about their recent losses that they just couldn’t process or that in the proceeding days before my blog post it had hit them, after thinking that they could keep going and carry on as normal. I was quite honest when I spoke to them and told them Jay and I have very little memory of January and February this year.

 We know we got Dembe, we know he was tiny but ask us to recall anything significant like where we took him on his first walk. What the date of his first walk was, his first bark, his first growl all the stuff we would normally remember and we draw a blank. It’s not because we didn’t care about it, purely our brains were overloaded processing what had happened when we lost Frankie and Mollie within 7 days of each other. I am so glad that I started the Dembe Diaries blog and his diary that I base the blog on, so that in years to come I can look back and see all those things in black and white that my brain was unable to absorb at the time.

 I do remember Jay barely spoke in the first 4-5 days after it happened. It was quite stressful as I went into list mode, trying to control everything because my anxiety spiked. His anxiety spiked because I was making so many demands on him all the time and obviously he needed to have some control in his life too. It was very difficult trying to get him motivated to help me sort the house out ready for Dembe’s arrival. Especially as we couldn’t stand being in the house as it was just full of reminders of how empty it was. We did cry together and we did talk about our babies, all of our babies. But the pain and grief was hard because although it has happened to both of you (or all of you) it is also an individual thing that no one can make better or take away from you. People grieve in different ways. Just because Jay wasn’t breaking down in tears every 5 minutes like I was didn’t mean he wasn’t hurting or struggling to cope. You only had to take a look at him, ashen faced, tired and so very quiet, grief and pain was written all over him. For a few days I was worried that he was going to drop down dead from a heart attack or stroke he looked so ill.  

Grief is weird one minute you can feel like you are doing ok and the next minute it feels like the world is imploding. There is no rhyme or reason to it, you are carried on its current and it takes you wherever it pleases. There is no control of it, it controls you initially, even denying you sleep when it wants to. Both Jay and I suffered from terrible insomnia in the 7 days after Mollie and Frankies passing. We would find ourselves downstairs in the middle of the night watching crap on the TV whilst eating chocolate biscuits and drinking sugary tea in the hope we would just pass out from a sugar overdose. I remember one day within about 20 minutes of each other we both left the electric shower on, when we left the bathroom, returning to it a few minutes later, neither of us could work out why we had left it running. We had no recollection of leaving the bathroom.  Life really was being lived on autopilot, all we could do was keep putting one foot in front of the other and get through another day.

I want to tell you that things do get better, the grief becomes less overwhelming.  I feel like I am finally starting to live life again instead of just simply going through the motions. I am not saying that in 8 months you will also be feeling better, it could be less time it could be substantially more time. But there will come a time when you let a breathe out and know that you are starting to be you again.

Up until about a week ago the last time I listened to music and enjoyed it was 29th December 2018. That was the day that Frankie passed away and I had been listening to my Sinead O’connor LP. I didn’t play any music for a couple of weeks. After that time had passed, I tried but I found the noise too much and overwhelming. I had no emotional connection to the music. I would rather be in silence or have the TV on low in the background.  For the last two weeks I have played music non-stop. I have sung at the top of my voice and quite possibly scared the neighbours. I have found the joy in music again. I haven’t played my Sinead O’Connor LP, I think that one will take some time. I may not play it again for several years, I’m not setting myself a target, I will let it happen, I won’t force it. One day I will sing something from the album and it will be like an ear worm that won’t die until I play it. At the moment anything from that LP makes me sad.

We have also started planning things for the future. We have booked  a short break in the UK next year and we will be taking Dembe with us. It is very exciting. This will be the first time since 2006 that Jay and I have had any sort of holiday. It is only 3 nights away but it will do us all some good just to get out of the house and away from the day to day. I am nervous as hell as I have become a real homebody since becoming ill. Other than stays in hospital I haven’t been away from the house in 13 years. It is hilarious to me that I am getting a bit anxious thinking about it when Jay and I have travelled to Sri Lanka, USA (Florida), Antigua, Paris, Menorca and various places all over the UK for weddings / christenings. I know that we can do it, it is just my world has been so very small over the last 13 odd years.

So please be kind to yourself, wherever you are in your journey with grief. Everyone does grief differently, there is no one size fits all. What works for you may not work for anyone else.  Remember living life does not mean that you have forgotten those who are no longer with us. At some point things will get easier, you will reach a new normal. It is not a journey you have to do alone. If more of us start talking about grief and how it affects us we will educate those who have never experienced it and maybe create a little more empathy. The world could really do with more empathy at the moment.

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Rainbow Bridge

I have  called this blog post Rainbow Bridge as all pet owners will know what I am talking about and can make the immediate decision whether or not to read this post. If you decide to skip it, I understand . I can’t even read the poem Rainbow Bridge without breaking down and turning into a snotty, red faced, tear stained mess. So if you decide from the outset that this post probably isn’t for you, I get it. I will just reassure you that I will not be talking about Frankie or Mollie’s passing at the start of this year. That shit is just too raw still to deal with and I would prefer to spend the remainder of the day functional rather than being the snotty, red faced, tear stained mess I know I will become.

 
The blog post is called Rainbow Bridge because I want to talk to you about the very real depth of grief losing a pet, any pet can cause you. A grief that you can feel embarrassed about because you didn’t know it was possible for your heart to physically hurt so much and you not keel over and die. A grief and depth of feeling that unless you have lived the experience you can not begin to even comprehend what the other person is going through. And a grief that you feel you have to hide from the world as grieving over an animal is still seen as self indulgent, selfish, weak, being melodramatic. A depth of feeling that is so strong that it even takes you by surprise.
 
We are in this country ( the UK ) crap at dealing with other people’s grief, even when they have lost a child or a partner. We seem to assume that once a person returns to work or starts doing normal things again that they are ok. Many people seem to think that there is a set period of time that a person should grieve for and after that time has passed, all that emotion and sadness should just turn off. If they don’t you are seen to be wallowing or attention seeking. A lot of people just don’t seem to understand that grief is not a linear journey and that it never ends. You will always be dealing with your grief one way or another. Time is not a great healer, there is no healing for grief, there is a just getting used to it. What initially in the first days, weeks and months seems all encompassing does slowly reduce in size but it never leaves us. It is something we carry always.
 
Those of you that aren’t pet owners may be surprised to read that it is exactly the same for those who have lost a pet. I really hate using a the term pet as I feel like it diminishes their status. But until someone comes up with a better word, I will have to use the one that is universally understood. Most people these days understand that our pets are more than just “pets” they are much loved members of the family within their own rights. Which is why it cut me to the core when somebody recently clumsily said to me ” You were so lucky to get Dembe when you did to replace…” she stopped herself continuing with this statement as I think she realised how awful what she had said sounded. 
 
There is no replacing a beloved cat, dog, guinea pig, hamster or horse. The same as you can’t replace a mother, a father, a child, a friend. Each one of those like our pets are unique. So why people use the dreaded replace word I have no idea. I’m glad it was said recently to me rather than just after it had happened because I don’t think I would have been able to control myself. I may have got physically violent because it was just so insensitive. Now because there is a little bit of distance from the event and I am not caught up in the overwhelming emotion of it, I can understand that it was clumsy and not ever meant the way it sounded. Why do I know that? This person has recently lost her mother and father in the space of a couple of years. She knows there is no replacement for them, she is also a dog owner and knows they can’t be replaced either. Had she said this in January I wouldn’t have been so forgiving.
 
When I found myself in the position of losing Frankie and Mollie within 7 days, having lost Willow 55 weeks earlier, I honestly didn’t know how I was going to carry on without them. The pain, the grief was just so overwhelming. The house had already felt strange after Frankie passed and then when Mollie was no longer here, it seemed so cold and empty. I missed the feel of their fur, the warmth of their bodies, the noise their paws made on the laminate floor. The pools of water Frankie liked to dribble all over the floor after having a drink. The barking, the farting, picking up the poo, the bonio (dog biscuit) crumbs. Everything that had meant being a dog owner for the last 15 years had just been suddenly snatched away with no warning. Everything seemed so bleak and miserable. You will never know how much you will crave a cuddle with a dog ( or any pet ) until you suddenly are no longer able to do it. 
 
That was the hardest thing to cope with in the days that followed their passing, that I couldn’t stroke a dog, be licked, have a tail wag. Jay and I spent every minute that we could out of the house because being in the house just magnified our loss. We were lucky in the respect that a week after Mollie passed away we brought home Dembe. I dread to think what life would have been like without him. I know some people will think that far too quick and that they don’t feel that they could take on another dog / animal whilst they are still mourning their loss. Everyone is different and there are no rights or wrongs in this situation. Had there not been any puppies available we would have had to wait, it is just the way things happened. We felt at the time and still do that it was written in the stars. The breeders had the same surname as the breeders of Mollie and Travis. Dembe’s mum was called Willow, it all seemed like it was just meant to be.
 
Did having Dembe stop the grief? Of course not. In some ways it complicated things because initially I was terrified that Dembe was going to die. My anxiety went up through the roof. It had been a very long time since we had a puppy in the house and it all seemed very alien to us. So whilst trying to come to terms with losing my babies – which they will always be to me no matter how old they were, I had a new baby to deal with. It some ways it was also good for us, we threw ourselves into socialisation and getting lots of experiences under his belt. That meant we had to leave the house and see people. We invited lots of friends over to get them involved. I don’t think for us any time would have been the right time to bring a puppy into the house. Our lives had revolved around our Weimaraners and this was such a massive change to our life, it will probably take us years to get used to it or our heads around it.
 
What did surprise me was the way the people seemed to think once we had Dembe that the grief would just suddenly disappear – as in the replacement theory. There were good surprises as well, people that I had only ever known on facebook sent flowers, cards, gifts. We had so many messages from people. Even though at the time it was hard to read them, not because there was anything wrong with them but just because they were so kind and thoughtful. I heard that Jay’s boss broke the news to his colleagues at work and a couple of them burst into tears because on the previous Saturday the poor man had also had to tell them that Frankie had passed away. No one could quite believe that life could be so cruel. I still don’t believe it but I am happy that Frankie and his mum / best mate are together again.
 
Initially I felt like we had to hide the fact that we had been looking at puppies and we had visited Dembe, paid the deposit two days after Mollie had passed away. It wasn’t because we didn’t love her, I have been crying on and off as I have been writing this. It is because Jay and I are realists, we knew the dogs couldn’t go on forever. Mollie was 14 and quite deaf, Frankie was losing the use of his back legs, had arthritis in his hips and spine, he hadn’t been able to wag his tail for months and was a huge 41kg, 12 year old dog. He had lived far longer than anyone had expected. Even before we lost Willow in 2017 we had been discussing when we got a dog in the future what breed it would be and what his name would be. We had always said we would have a boy, due to the fact both girls had spay induced incontinence after being spayed as emergencies. We said a Labrador as Mollie had always had a thing for black Labs, she adored them. We never knew why but if she met a black lab on a walk her face would light up and she would play bow. The Weims were as much part of our decision making process as we were, as we wanted their blessing. I know none of them would have wanted us to live our lives without a dog.
 
I saw a Meme not long ago that said Dogs fill your life with many happy days and the one worst day of your life. It is pretty true, although the worst day is the worst day when you have to say goodbye, the not so worst days follow, where you have to face life without them and hope that Rainbow Bridge is true and that one day you will all be together again.
 
In Loving memory of 
Travis Morris
Mollie Morris
Willow Morris
Frankie Morris
 
Not a day goes by that I don’t mourn your loss. Not a day goes by when I don’t talk about at least one of you to Dembe. You would have loved him so much.
 
Travis
Mollie
Willow
Frankie
 
Everyone thinks they have the best dog ever,  none of them are wrong.
 
Dembe

I am a survivor

Well I am still not feeling the blog. I don’t know what’s going on but I am really finding it hard to come up with stuff to write about. I am spending 7 days waiting for inspiration to strike and it just isn’t happening. By Tuesday each week I am in a bit of a panic, I like to try and write on a Tuesday if Jay goes out running errands. If not I will wait until Wednesday morning but I don’t like leaving it until Wednesday as I always panic if I have a migraine or something and no blog post is produced.

At the moment the days are just merging into one. I haven’t seen any of my friends for over a month although I keep in regular contact with some of them. I have come to realise over the last 8 months that some of the people that I thought for there for me, disappeared when Frankie and Mollie passed away.  I understand that everyone has their own lives and families, with their own shit to deal with but it has been a very isolating experience. Some people have made a supreme effort to be present and other well not so much. It’s ok as I have a long memory and will be sure to return the favour when the shit hits the fan in their lives. I didn’t expect to be visited constantly but the occasional text message would have been nice, especially when they know my situation of living alone and Jay working.

Thankfully though I am pretty self sufficient, whilst dealing with my grief, I was juggling a new puppy and attempting to find time to sew / embroider. It hasn’t been easy but Dembe and I have found a new routine that works for us. He is pretty good at entertaining himself whilst I am busy sewing. He always positions himself in a location where he can keep an eye on me and ensure he knows if I have moved. He likes one of three places, the bed by the washing machine, the sofa that looks into the kitchen or out under the gazebo on the bench surrounded by all the cushions. I can’t believe my luck that he doesn’t get bored and then start destroying things. When I have finished sewing he knows that is our time and I will ensure I spend the time playing with him, doing training or just cuddles depending on his energy levels. I have been blessed with a pup that is so very well behaved and so very loving. His favourite spot for sleeping is right beside me on the sofa. This is him right now as I am writing this post.

My life has totally changed this year, I have re-assessed a lot of relationships. I have made the decision that I won’t swim an ocean for people who wouldn’t jump a puddle for me. I have decided that instead of worrying about what everyone is thinking or saying about me behind my back and believe me you’d be surprised the shit I hear being spoken about me by people who should know better, that I shall just carry on living my life and enjoying myself. The best revenge on those sad twats is to enjoy yourself and plaster it all over social media. It totally then fucks up all the fairy tales that they have been telling people for years.

I am also getting out of the house a lot more, this does have to be limited and planned for. I haven’t suddenly magically got better, it is just with one dog things are a lot easier. Especially as Dembe is such a friendly dog and on the whole pretty well behaved, although we have now hit the teenage years and recall seems to be a take it or leave it thing! Fatigue still grinds me down. I like using my energy for things for things that make me happy. So using my mobility scooter on Woodbury Common and getting out with Jay and Dembe has been unbelievably healing and grounding. 

It has been the one thing I have missed most since I got sick. The wheelchair trike although brilliant is an absolute ballache to transport. The wheelchair is fixed framed so that would take up the whole boot and then I would have to juggle the trike attachment with me in the front of the car. Not exactly safe. Then I piled on a load of weight when I developed my CSF leak and was virtually bed bound for a year, then in 2017 and 2018 we suffered a number of bereavements and I tend to self medicate with gin, chocolate and junk food / takeaways. I was 5 stone over the optimum user weight for the trike. So anytime I did try to use it the battery drained in minutes. I’ve been too embarrassed to say that because I allowed myself to get fat as fuck, I haven’t been able to use it. Hopefully now I am back losing weight ( it’s taken me until the last month to feel like I can actually do it) and I am back to 3 stone down, ideally at least another 3 to go so I will be massively under the optimum user weight. The trike will be used in the future as it is more suited to the rough and rugged environment of the common.

I do love my mobility scooter though and it has given me back my independence. It is easily taken apart to it can fit in the back of the car. It makes life so much easier if I need to go to the doctors or the hospital for appointments.

Over the 2 months I have got back into sewing and actually enjoyed it rather than feel I am going through the motions. From January until June I made a bloody good show of pretending I was ok, ensuring I used my embroidery machine every week and appeared to be enjoying myself. At points I felt like I was dying inside. I felt like a shell of the person I was. I didn’t feel I could voice the pain I was in. I know others struggle with grief especially when it is over an animal and not a human being.  Like I said earlier it has been one of the most isolating experiences of my life. There just felt like there was no one there. I do wonder if there had been someone their if I would have still felt so isolated.

I do have a tendency when things are tough to disappear into myself and attempt to shut out the world. I still kept on posting on social media, I still kept the creative things going but in all honesty I was going through the motions. It is only now that I can watch anything remotely sentimental without breaking down immediately. I only now feel like me. I feel like I have been on some weird journey where at points I lost myself. It is true what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger because in January / February this year I honestly thought the pain would kill me or I wished it would.

So I skillfully went off on a tangent there, I am enjoying sewing again and being creative rather than having to force myself to do it in the hope at some point the joy would come back. I am still working on my scrap busting quilt sew along. I found out yesterday that it is between a double (bed) and king size (bed) size, so it definitely is the largest one I have ever worked on. I made the back panel for it yesterday.

And in case you have forgotten what the front looks like

This morning I sorted out the wadding ( what you call batting in the USA ) which needed sewn together. I also made some plastic templates  to draw around as I have decided to tray something totally different with the quilting. It has taken me a few days of mulling it over to come to my plans. I have drawn it out so I have something to refer to. I now just need to have Jay clear the floor space in the lounge so that I can put my quilt sandwich together quilt back + wadding / batting + quilt top. I use temporary basting spray to hold it together but as it is so large I will also be pinning it. This ensures that the fabric stays nice and flat so it doesn’t shift and give you puckers. I also managed to sort out the binding yesterday. So it is all ready to be quilted shortly. I will be quite glad when it is finished now as I hate half done projects hanging around. I am really ready to now get myself into new projects and stretch my skills.

Anyway I started with no clue where this post was going and have managed to ramble on forever!

Dembe has changed locations

He likes it so he knows exactly where I am in the house at all times.

I think this year I have learnt, a lot and we are only in August. My heart has hurt more than I ever thought possible without keeling over and dying. I have learnt in the depths of grief you are still able to love unconditionally and you must never feel guilty for that. I have also learnt that the majority of people run away from grief and think that is acceptable behaviour. Despite all this I have come back stronger, love another dog more than I ever thought possible but when you have this gorgeous mutt in your life how could you not?

And yes he is holding my thumb in his mouth!

This is the year that nearly broke me, the year that changed everything and has just proved to me I am a survivor.

Mish mash

I will admit I am pretty tired and have lost my mojo with the blog this week so I thought rather than post nothing at all, it will be a bit of a mish mash of lots of different things!

I had my physiotherapy treatment today, which consisted of deep tissue massage and ultrasound treatment. I am feeling very sore, nauseous and headache. Which is what always happens when my neck has been messed around with. I will feel better tomorrow but for now I feel like I have been through the 1600rpm spin cycle of my washing machine! The good news is that the pins and needles I have had in my left arm/ hand and shoulder has already improved significantly from this session earlier on today. I am booked in again for a treatment in September as my physio is away in August. Lucky for some. She is a miracle worker and I enjoy my sessions with her as we have long chats sometimes very in depth and emotional and sometimes fluffy. But it’s a good laugh even though the pain of being prodded makes me levitate above the bed sometimes. 

My neck muscles have become very tight again which is obviously the complete opposite of what EDS is supposed to do but we believe it is my bodies way of trying to keep my neck and head safe due to the lax muscles, ligaments and tendons. I hold all my tension in my neck and all my headaches come from my neck. It is a situation that has got worse over the last few years. At the moment I am resisting wearing a collar full time as whatever strength I do have in my neck will disappear completely. I am also aware that nothing touches the pain of a neck induced headache, well that isn’t strictly true as diazepam is the only thing that helps. But quite rightly the doctors don’t like prescribing that and I really can’t be bothered at the moment to go and beg. 

The other reason I won’t wear a collar full time is vanity, plain and simple. It makes my face look fat and it doesn’t need to look any fatter than it already is.

I promised a mish mash so here it is. Ages ago I wrote about my hirsutism, it initially started when I was put on steroids in 2008. I have always had a blonde moustache over my top lip but the steroids made the blonde hair thicker and much more noticeable to me.  I also grew more peach fuzz on the side of my face. Age and possibly being at the start of the menopause has given me a lovely crop of black hairs on my chin that like to go unnoticed until they are 2ft long or I have had the dentist / doctor / hairdresser / friends over. They only stop playing hide and seek about an hour after you’ve been at the dentist / doctor / hairdresser or had company. Despite the fact that you checked your known outcrop spots religiously using both natural daylight and the torch function of your mobile phone.

Over the years I have tried a variety of hair removal tools and they have all been crap. Hair removal cream results last for about 12 -24 hours until you can start feeling the regrowth. Plus I became allergic to them so whilst I would have a hair free top lip I would end up with a red raw line above my lip. I even ended up with chemical burns on one occasion so after that I haven’t used hair removal cream again. I have tried plucking but that is ridiculously time consuming. You also need very good eyesight and light to get a reasonable result. I then tried using Jay’s ear hair trimmer as it had a variety of different cutting heads. The problem was the hair would be back within a few days and feeling prickly because of the blunt ends caused by the cutting blades.

So a while ago I looked into waxing, I have no idea what prompted it. I use an epilator for my legs, so it probably came from that. I looked around on Amazon and came across the wax warmers, wax beans and all the bits you need to give yourself a wax treatment. I ordered all the kit and last week I started trying it out. I have found it remarkably easy and I don’t need really good eyesight to produce good results. I won’t lie the first time I did my top lip it made my eyes water but I was amazed at how much it took off. I bought some wax for sensitive skin and without colouring. As the wax was pale I could see all the hairs trapped in it, so despite my eyes watering I was pleased. 

After my first go it was clear I needed to work on my technique, so I watched several videos on YouTube. That has been a massive help, as with the wax beans you don’t use cotton / paper strips to stick to the wax, the wax sets firm enough that you just pull the wax strip off.  The real skill is creating a lip at the bottom of your wax strip so it make it easy to remove. I haven’t quite mastered that yet but I am getting there. I had another go before physiotherapy – that’s another occasion these hairs like to come out of their hiding places, this attempt went better. I think it is going to be one of those things that the more you practice the better your technique gets. The results have been really good and lasting much longer than any other hair removal technique I have tried.

Going off on another tangent, like I do. I have been managing to get out and about up on the common accompanying Jay and Dembe using my mobility scooter. With the weather being so dry the ground is nice and compacted making it must easier for the scooter to cope with being off road. Dembe gets really excited when I come out with them both for a walk. I have been managing to get out a couple of times a week.

 

Dembe is 8 and a half months old now and loves his walks. Although he doesn’t go as mental as the Weimaraners did. 

I  am still working on my quilt, I managed to square off all the blocks at the weekend and they are sat waiting to be sewn together. On Sunday I was on a local facebook group where people offer things to give away for nothing, in return the people that have stuff off the page must make food / toiletry donations to help those families in need locally. I spied some curtains that had been posted on the page before but no one had shown any interest. At the time I was drawn to the birds on the material. I thought I would be able to upcycle the fabric into bags or something. However when I got them home I realised how much I liked them and wanted to use them as lounge curtains. I had been looking to replace the curtains in the lounge for years but I had just never seen any curtains that I liked. 

The curtains needed some TLC, I don’t think they had seen the inside of a washing machine for many a year. They also had some holes in them where the fabric had become weak from being exposed to strong sunlight. What should have been a simple job turned into an all day event. I repaired the curtains in the space of an hour but found that they were too short for my window. So I ripped open the bottom seam as I could feel there was extra material contained in the seams. I only needed 4 inches at a pinch 3 would do. As luck would have it one curtain contained 17 inches and the other 15 inches. The lining had also been folded up. I was worried as these curtains were very old that the fabric that had been tucked away in the seam maybe brighter than the fabric that had been exposed to the sunlight but there was no discernible difference between them. I altered the curtains and the lining and now have a wonderful set of curtains for the lounge.

The fabric design is called Spice Island and was produced from the 1960’s until the 1980’s. It was sold in the UK department store called John Lewis and the designers name was Pat Albeck. You can find out more about her here – https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/sep/15/pat-albeck-obituary

Quite spookily she was Emma Bridgewater’s mother in law. For those of you who follow my blog you will know that I collect Emma Bridgewater pottery. So it seems apt that I have the Spice Island designed curtains in the same room as the majority of my pottery collection.

I am so pleased with the job I have done on the curtains as I have never done them before due to the worry about having to be 100% accurate – not something I am brilliant at when it comes to straight lines. Mr Myasthenia Kid loves the curtains to, it was his idea that we have them ourselves instead of me cutting them up and using them to make bags.

Anyway like I said this week is an utter mish mash of stuff. I hope you have enjoyed the many tangents I have gone off on! 

See you next week.

Scrap Busting

Around two weeks ago I stumbled upon a sewing challenge on social media and thought why not. Up until now I have always been too scared to join in with sew along projects, as I never felt that my work was good enough or that I had enough experience. However with this challenge as it was using scraps of fabric cut into 2 inch wide strips or 1 inch wide strips, I felt that I wouldn’t be under any pressure to be an expert quilter. 

I was in a bit of a panic though as I had joined two weeks after the challenge had started and members of the group were already sewing their strips together or had finished sewing them. I joined late on a Friday night, as I had been unable to sleep I had been on social media, when a video from Sugar Bowl Crafts  popped up. I watched it and thought that looks fun and it was promising a quilt made in record time. 

For the uninitiated a sew along is a just a fun thing to do, completely voluntary and you either are sewing part of a project that will be sent off and joined up with everyone else’s or a project for you to complete at home. Some sew alongs require you to buy kits or set fabrics, others you get to choose your own. I liked this one as it is using scraps and I have been on a bit of a fabric buying ban because I am drowning in fabrics. Some I have bought and others I have been given. I always keep my scraps as I hate the thought of spending money on fabric and then not getting the maximum use out of it. I have scraps stored in 3 different locations and it was starting to feel overwhelming so the idea of a scrap-busting quilt really appealed to me.

I recently made a quilt for Mr Myasthenia Kid, using some charm squares ( these are 5 inch squares of fabric you buy pre-cut). He has wanted a quilt for ages and I kept promising him I would make one. But I never seemed to find the time. Since getting the embroidery machine and the dogs passing away at the start of the year, sewing had taken a back seat. I had lost my sewjo, I had done quite a bit of machine embroidery but actual sewing not much. As I was making Jay’s quilt the love for sewing came back, I was planning on starting the Anna Maria Horner quilt kit I bought last year but have been terrified to start it in case I messed it up. Plus it is a huge quilt almost king sized and my largest quilt that I have made hasn’t even been half that size. So this sew along was also a chance to put together a large quilt – my largest yet. So it was a win win on all fronts.

Jay’s quilt.

The quilting on this quilt took over 4 hours and I lost two needles in the process. I am so pleased with it though as nothing was bought to make it. It was all made with items I already had in the house.

The sew along quilt’s design was random strips of 2 inch wide fabric joined together (or you can do one inch wide). My first job was to go through my scraps and pull out the fabrics I wanted to use and sort them into colours. Each piece of fabric tells a story as I can remember where it came from and what project it was used on. I had 4 charm squares left from Jay’s quilt above, fabric left over from the lap quilt I made my mum for her birthday last year. Point to any of my fabric strips and I can tell you if it was gifted, came in a subscription box or if I bought it. I love that about this quilt it makes it highly sentimental and it is like my sewing journey in one quilt. 

I thought the sorting and prepping of the fabric would be a quick process. I hate this bit of any project, I loathe cutting stuff out. I am the worlds slowest and you can guarantee I will mess it up due to my poor maths skills (why thanks Dyscalculia ). I have a creative grids stripology ruler which has been a godsend. It has cutting channels on it every inch and half inch, so you can cut across the entire width of the fabric and know that the width will be correct…..as long as you chose the correct cutting channel. Eventually after several sessions over a few days I was in a position to start sewing the fabric into long strips.

I sorted the fabrics into colour groups. Group 1. Red / pink / orange, Group 2. Blues / purples, Group 3. Yellow/ cream / white, Group 4. Green,Group 5. Grey / black / purple grey. Within those groups I put all the same fabric together and put them into piles (pinning them) that way when I sewed the fabric strips together to make my large strips I could choose fabric from a pile ensuring I didn’t have to worry about sewing the same fabric together next to each other. It did sort of remove the randomness, rather than taking a chance and sticking my hand into the bag and pulling out a strip to sew.

I also at the same time cut one inch strips, from the same scraps and sorted them the same way.

Once the different fabrics were sewn together ( as above), the metres ( and it was metres) of fabric were then cut into 10 inch strips. For the 1 inch strips once they have been joined together you cut them into 5 inch strips.  The next part is to then sew 6 ten inch strips together to make your 10 inch block. Here are the 60 blocks that I have sewn, just so you get an idea.

I find it amazing how different the blocks look from a distance and all together.

Here are the first 23 blocks that I laid out on the kitchen floor.

I had to get hubby to stand on a chair to take the photo for me. Over the next few days as and when I had the energy I would put together the remaining fabric strips and turn them into blocks. Until yesterday when I finally completed all the 10 inch blocks I intended to make.

I had to do the layout in two settings as there was no more floor space!

Here are the remaining blocks, being “lab” tested 😄😄😄

I love the layout that I have in the photos so I am contemplating sewing the blocks together like this after they have been trimmed to 9.5 inch blocks.

I am now starting on my one inch fabric strips, joining them together. So far I have done the greys/ blacks/ purples and I have also completed the blues. I have three more huge bags of one inch strips to join together before I then cut them into 5 inch strips and turn them into blocks the same way the 2 inch strips were. I intend to use the 5 inch blocks as a border around the quilt – which is different to the sew along border but I like being different. I have no idea how huge this quilt will turn out but hubby is already making noises about it being on the 3 seater leather sofa as it combines all the fabrics that we have in the lounge along with many more!

I have really enjoyed working on this but my old injury / problem has come back. My nerve has become trapped in my neck again and is leaving my hand and forearm (left side) with pins and needles / numbness. It is just as well that I haven’t spent any money on the quilt as I have had to book in with my private physio again which costs £45 for 30 minutes. She is ace but on a limited budget it’s a lot of money to find in one go. So I am having to set a timer when I work and do 15 minutes, have a break and then do 15 minutes. I will be seeing her a week Tuesday.

It isn’t just sewing that is triggering the trapped nerve but any movement at all that involves my arm. Even using the chromebook or taking a drink is enough to have the cold pins and needles feeling start. It is highly irritating as it means I am severely limited in the amount of time I can spend doing the stuff I love. I am hoping the physio can get the blasted thing untrapped and me more comfortable again.

I will be sure to update you all with my scrap busting quilt progress.

Miserable ….you fill in the blanks

On Tuesday 16th July I went to my doctors appointment. As I can’t get to these things alone due to my mobility issues and no longer having a driving licence, Jay and Dembe ( who is training to be my assistance dog) came with me. I had the doctors appointment as I have a lump at the front of my neck near my adams apple. It can’t be seen by the naked eye but can be felt. When I move my neck and head in certain positions I can feel the lump pressing on my esophagus so it was important that this was checked out. 

We managed to rock up about three minutes late due to an unexpected road closure. We had hoped to prk up outside but instead had to use the carpak across the road. This all added extra minutes that we didn’t have as Jay had to assemble my mobility scooter, get a parking ticket and get Dembe’s lead on. We had put Dembe’s high viz yellow coat on before we left the house. It says on the side of it “Assistance Dog in Training” and when he is “working” we put his coat on him so that members of the public are aware of what he is doing.

We managed to get into the doctors a little stressed due to being late. The main waiting room was practically empty it was as I was getting checked in that I was told my doctors room was at the end of the corridor. This was a major ballache as this waiting room is literally the width of a small houses landing or hallway. You can’t swing a cat in there. When we got there it was jammed and there were only two seats left. Dembe was a little perturbed that so many people were so close to him. He is used to be given space. It’s not that he won’t behave, it is just this was our first visit to the surgery with him and we were playing sardines. The doctors surgery was also unbearingly hot. If I am complaining of the heat it is boiling to a normal person.

Poor Dembe was panting away, he wasn’t unsettled but he was fidgeting a bit to get comfortable. We had a massive amount of treats and just practiced calm giving to get him to settle which he did. Considering he is just 8 months old today and this was his first visit he did well. Especially with it being so busy. There was no barking or crying despite the loud noises coming from the floor above. He really does know that when his coat goes on his behaviour has to change and it is wonderful to see. Many people in the waiting room were complimenting him on being so good for an obviously young dog. So what happened when we went into the doctors consultation room has really angered me.

The doctor made it clear from her facial expression she wasn’t happy that I had both my husband and my assistance dog with me. Jay sat across the other side of the room and kept Dembe occupied. Doing various exercises silently so he was totally focused on Jay. He was sat right in front of Jay, well out of the way of the doctor. The only noise he was making was panting. The doctor needed to examine me on the couch as I made my way across she piped up “Your dog is very hyperactive”. Had I not been in a doctors surgery I would have probably given her a gob-full. Instead I pointed out that he was just 8 months old, he was in training and that panting was not the sign of a hyperactive dog but a hot dog. Jay decided to take Dembe out of the room and walk him around outside the building, he was really angry with the doctor and didn’t want to end up saying something that could impact my treatment. I was so angry that this doctor that obviously knows fuck all about dogs was making snide comments about him. A dog that had done absolutely nothing wrong. I didn’t bother to speak much at all after that because I knew if I started I may have ended up having to look for a new doctors surgery. 

It seems that kids can wreck the joint at the doctors surgery, run around screaming, grab at people etc – all stuff I have witnessed. But a dog that is simply panting is hyperactive. Honestly the stupid cow should have seen him the first night of puppy training 7 weeks ago when he was play bowing, barking and generally being a dick – that is hyperactive. I would say if Dembe had been naughty or hadn’t behaved as he should. I am not an idiot. The whole reason we are doing all these training courses is to ensure he conducts himself well when working / out in public. So for an uneducated, miserable cow of a doctor to say he was misbehaving by snidely saying that he was hyperactive is bang out of fucking order. It’s been 10 hours since the appointment and I am still fucking seething about it.

 I have seen some crap doctors in my time but she took the biscuit and it wasn’t just the issue with Dembe. I also told her about my dry eyes and the fact they are drying out at night causing abrasions on my cornea. She said she would prescribe me something for my eyes. I told her I needed something at night as that was when the damage is occurring. My eyes are very dry during the day as the Hyloforte drops are only providing about 20-30 minutes of relief at a time. But I need something at night to stop my eyeballs sticking to my eyelids. She has totally ignored that and prescribed me drops for day time use. I give up, what part of the conversation didn’t she get. She didn’t even think it might be important for me to see an ophthalmologist to get my eyes checked. To see of we could get to the bottom of why my eyes are dry and what could be done about it. She has taken it into her head that I am allergic to liquid paraffin when I have used it in another eye ointment perfectly fine. I was so pissed off by this point other than repeatedly bang my head against the desk I had to just smile and breathe rather than tell her what a giant fucking cockwomble she was. I do try not to lay into doctors, its a thankless job, so many targets and patients to see. But of you aren’t going to fucking listen and then make pronouncements on my dogs behaviour despite clearly being no expert then I am afraid you deserve everything this post has coming for you.

As I left the doctors I had to book in blood tests ( check my thyroid) and the doctor is doing a referral for an ultrasound to check out this lump which she believes is a lymph node. I can tell you something for sure I will never be making another appointment with her again. The receptionist was really lovely and said what a lovely dog Dembe was and how well behaved he was. She wouldn’t have known what had gone on in the room as I was literally at the desk seconds after the appointment was over. As I looked out of the surgerys door I could see an old chap fussing Dembe and Dembe sitting there loving it. No barking, no crying just a well behaved, panting dog. That made me even more angry.

Jay said the old guy was talking to him for a while and made a massive fuss of Dembe. Dembe was a little scared at first but Jay passed the guy one of Dembe’s treats and he was won over immediately. He said it was so sweet. Jay said the guy was obviously quite lonely but because of the love he was showering Dembe with Jay just let him and was chatting away with him. Jay said after about Dembe that maybe we should get  him trained as a Pets As Therapy dog as he loves having attention and has such a loving nature. It’s definitely something we will consider in the future once we have his training mastered.

After the doctors we walked over to the mini Marks & Spencer as I had a delivery to pick up. As we walked through the door all the staff were smiling at Dembe. It is lovely when we take him anywhere with us in his assistance dog vets, people who have looked as miserable as sin just moments before just beam at him. I love the way this dog makes people smile …apart from you know who..Miserable…….you fill in the blanks.

Dembe was really well behaved in M&S and on the walk back to the car. To reward him this afternoon we took him up on Woodbury common and I accompanied them on my mobility scooter. So I will end this angry blog post with some beautiful photos of my hot dog, not hyperactive one. Stick to diagnosing people love, as animals are just not your forte.

The last one is Dembe working, wearing his assistance vest.

Thanks for reading!

Dry Eyes

I got diagnosed with dry eyes over ten years ago, it could have been 15 years ago, I just know Travis ( our first Weimaraner) was alive then. How I found out I had dry eyes was due to the fact a cigarette end had blown into my eye whilst we were in the car. The agony it caused I will never forget. I had a burn to my cornea and thankfully no lasting damage but a few weeks later my eyes were feeling very sore so I took myself off to the eye infirmary where I had a few tests and found out my eyes were incredibly dry.

On and off for years they have been treated ( very poorly) with the first line treatment for mild cases of dry eyes hypomellose. That treatment in all the years I have been taking it does nothing, the liquid evaporates off my eyeball in a matter of seconds and I am back to the sore, itchy burning feeling I basically put up with 24/7. On the odd occasion when I have made a fuss I am given lacrilube to use at night, which is alike vaseline for your eyeballs. It is fabulous stuff but it means you can see fuck all for hours once it has been applied so has to be done when you are certain you are going to sleep.

I have brought up with numerous doctors that my dry eyes were getting worse, that I am waking up with crusty eyes that then burn and sting for the rest of the day. For some reason I just haven’t pushed this and have allowed myself to be fobbed off with the excuse that it is my medication causing my dry eyes as if this is in some way my fault. I am now coming off all medication that causes dry eyes – even though I have been put on these after the diagnosis of dry eyes was given.

On Sunday morning I woke up with with my eyelid stuck to my eyeball. That is as grim as that sounds. Only I didn’t twig what was going on until after I rubbed my left eye and it felt like the top surface of my eyeball had been removed. The pain caused my eye to water profusely. I also worked out that this has been happening for months to a much lesser extent, I keep waking up with a searing pain in my eyes, my eyeball has been sticking to my eyelid.

I realised quite early on, that I had an abrasion on my cornea but I just didn’t want to have to go to the local minor injuries unit with the high probability that they would send me onto the eye infirmary. I foolishly thought how bad could it possibly get ? I decided that I would ignore it in the hope that the pain settled because ignoring it has always worked so well in the past. We decided that we would take Dembe up to the local supermarket to give him some experience of dealing with a shop environment, noise and large volumes of people. He handled it like a pro and we were both so proud of him.

He is walking like a dream and has stopped jumping up at me when I am on my scooter. He now sits beside me and waits for me to give him a cuddle.

My eye pain was ok as long as I was 100% distracted, so I threw myself into binding a quilt I had made for Jamie aka Mr Myasthenia Kid. I wanted to get it finished and he wanted it finished and on his bed! I managed to get that done but as soon as I finished and no longer had anything to distract me the eye pain ramped up by about 500.

I actually waited until Monday to take this photo.

We decided we would start watching season 3 of Stranger Things. I sat with a hot compress on my eye because my logic was the heat would help it as they advise a hot compress with dry eyes. I was kidding myself still that the eye pain was dry eye and would settle. I lasted 20 minutes until I asked Jay to take me to the local hospital where they had a minor injuries unit. I knew (well I hoped they still had it ) that they had all the kit for an eye exam, I kept my fingers crossed that they wouldn’t insist on sending me to the hospital and the eye infirmary. As I knew the wait would be horrendous and sitting up like that for several hours would knock me for six.

Jay dropped me at the eye infirmary and he took Dembe out for a walk. I am extremely grateful that I was seen within 20 minutes of arriving. It wasn’t busy but there were other people coming in with more serious issues than I had. I was ushered in but immediately told that they would only do a basic eye exam and then send me to the main hospital as I had Ehlers Danlos syndrome. I questioned this as I knew it was just an abrasion and no need for the trek to the hospital ( one I hate due to a couple of twatish doctors based there). I was informed as the eye is made up 100% of collagen they couldn’t mess about. I was shocked that this nurse was so on the ball with EDS. Normally they are clueless, not their fault if they have never come across it I must add.

I made a few grumbling noises along the lines of its just an abrasion there is nothing wrong with the rest of my eye and that sitting for hours up there would make me much sicker in the long run. I had an eye test which I think I did reasonably well or well enough to convince her I wasn’t in danger of losing my sight imminently. So she acquiesced and did a proper eye exam. The local anesthetic stang like hell, it felt like I had a million paper cuts on the surface of my eye and she had poured vinegar on it. Once the stinging wore off it provided me with a lot of relief as the pain was dulled massively. She had a look at the structure of my eye which was all sound. She then added the lovely yellow stain that they put in and immediately could see I had a superficial abrasion right across the centre of my eye. I hadn’t been able to pinpoint where the pain was coming from my eye hurt and hurt more every time I had to blink. It made sense that it was right across my eye.

Me when I got back from the minor injuries unit. I was given antibiotic ointment, as my eyes were so dry it would provide some relief as it has to be put in 4 times a day. I was made to promise that if it wasn’t any better the following day I had to head to the main hospital and get it checked out. Thankfully it was an awful lot better the following day.

I have an appointment with my gp next week that I had booked for another reason – which I will still be bringing up! By the time I go to my appointment the local injuries unit would have informed them that I had an abrasion on my cornea caused by my eyeball sticking to my eyelid and that my dry eyes need to be treated! However as it is more than a week away I have spent £30 on dry eye ointment for night time to keep my eyes moist and to prevent them sticking to my eyelids again and some much stronger eye drops that should provide more relief than the tap water ( sarcasm but that might as well be what it is) I have been prescribed up until now and that someone saw fit to remove from my repeat prescription list. 

My eyes are still quite uncomfortably dry, I am awaiting my delivery of the day time drops as nothing I have here if I wish to be able to see at all will provide any relief. When people say they have dry eyes unless you have experienced it you would never realise how bloody painful it can be.