The C word

Well to be perfectly honest there isn’t an awful lot to talk about other than the C word which I really didn’t want to talk about for the third week on the bounce. But as things have changed dramatically here in the UK – we are now on a half arsed lock down ( I say half arsed because so many people are completely ignoring it). And now hubby will be home with me for the next 12 weeks.

Thankfully hubby isn’t in the 1.5 million that the NHS have put into the the very high risk group who have been asked not to leave their homes in the next 12 weeks. He is though in the next group down which is high risk. Basically this means he is at high risk of serious complications or death should he contract Covid -19. I found this out purely by accident on Monday when discussing it with a friend and fellow moderator on Facebook when she posted a link to the Asthma UK website that had detailed information on what Asthma inhaler mean you are considered to be on immunosuppression medication. My blood ran cold as I saw on the list Symbicort the brand my husband uses daily. I dug a little deeper and calmed a little when I read the dosage required and thankfully he is nowhere near that dosage. It then lead me to then google for information regarding methotrexate as that was increased in August to 20mg. The last dose before he would have been put on injections to control his psoriasis. 

Now if I am honest I am a little cross that gp surgeries aren’t checking to see what patients come under the high risk category. The very high risk group were sent a text or may still be waiting for a letter that should be with them by the 29th March. These are the people who will have the worst outcome should they contract Covid-19. People like Jays mum, who has multiple myeloma , a type of blood cancer. Thankfully Jays parents have taken the sensible precaution of self isolating for the last month. My parents are also self isolating, my dad will be 70 this year, my mum is in remission from ovarian cancer. People are having to search for the information themselves – and not all conditions are listed on it leading to a lot of confusion. Plus many people, my husband included just didn’t see himself as vulnerable. His asthma is well controlled, he has been on methotrexate for 6 years without issue. He rarely takes time off sick from work, he gets the odd cold but isn’t a sick person. So to now discover he was deemed high risk was a shock. A shock that he is struggling to process.

 I know that now everyone has now been told to stay in doors but for almost two weeks hubby was exposed to massive amounts of people who may or may not have been spreading this virus. It took me googling it on Monday and coming across this official NHS document to see that due to his dose of methotrexate and the co-morbidity of Asthma he was now considered high risk. The irony is he was sending all the high risk staff home from his work place last week, on full pay for 12 weeks ( 2 weeks have to be taken as holiday). The high risk group also included anyone with a BMI of 40 or over.  I am cross because he could have been home and not putting himself at risk. I am also cross with him because despite showing him the document, printing it off for him and explaining it to him, he didn’t believe me. He tried to get information from the doctors surgery, he was unaware that the doctors surgery is effectively closed and you can no longer just walk in off the street. He doesn’t really do social media, doesn’t read the news papers and kept turning off the news, so he was blissfully unaware of what was going on outside his work bubble. Laughably he also tried ringing 111 for information and was given short shrift by the call handler who basically told him don’t ring this number unless you have symptoms of Covid-19. 

So now I know for sure that he doesn’t pay much attention to me when I am speaking to him as I had talked him through all of this. He seemed to think it was happening elsewhere to other people and I am guessing that is the same reaction for a lot of other people because the lock down is laughable. The roads up to the common have been busier than ever and a lot of people without dogs, with small children even babies are up there. Now I know we are allowed out to exercise but honestly if I had a new born baby I wouldn’t be leaving the house and risking it’s health. We are only going out to walk Dembe ( I sit in the car) because he won’t poo or wee in the garden. We try to go when normally it would be quiet, as we have every day since 2004. It is like a bloody bank holiday up there. On our way to the common we saw families out on their bikes cycling together, again no dog. I am really struggling to wonder why if you had no reason to leave your home you would?

It took Boris’s speech on TV on Monday night, when he called for the lock down for Jay to realise that this was serious. After Boris had stopped talking he turned to me and said,” I’ve told XXXX ( his boss, who is lovely), that’s me home for 12 weeks. I love my work but I am not dying for it.” I burst into tears as I had been at my wits end with him. I couldn’t get him to see how dangerous this was especially with him being asthmatic. The relief was unreal. 

However in true Mr Myasthenia Kid style the following morning he had a series of melt downs. Which  I was expecting to be honest as the longer we are together the more glaringly obvious it is becoming that he is very likely on the Autistic Spectrum. He becomes irrationally angry when confronted with change. He doesn’t deviate from journey routes, dog walks, places we go etc. Literally even a suggestion of change will get my head ripped off. I learned a long time ago that unless it was life and death not to bother. He also has to have things broken down in to the minutest detail. I remember years ago when our first dog Travis was ill and in the vets, he badgered me constantly about what they were doing. I tried to give him answers but he kept on and on. In the end I lost my temper and screamed how the fuck would I know I am not a bloody vet. His anxiety was off the scale and when he feels like things have deviated from his routine his default setting is anxiety.

So despite knowing that he would be paid for his absence, he still insisted on messaging HR and having the same conversation with with them, that he had with his boss the night before. Despite also knowing the policy having sent home staff the week before. He was in a right state until he had the text from HR confirming he wouldn’t lose any pay. He was in such a state I told him that we would put together a schedule for him so that he would have a routine and a plan for each day. Because without this I know he will fall into a depression. I really struggled to deal with it yesterday as Tuesday is pretty much, 99% of the time his day off. So the fact he wasn’t working yesterday shouldn’t have been an issue. However it was the anxiety around not working that was causing the melt down.  

It is really hard work having to stay one step ahead of him and basically have to guess what the issues are because he doesn’t verbalise it. He has told me he is taking this 12 week period a day at a time rather than thinking about it as 12 weeks or even telling himself it will be June before he is back at work, is causing him to be anxious. It is such an enormous change in his life that it is sending him into melt down mode.  He is also feeling the guilt that he isn’t working alongside his team, who are working in the germ soup that is a supermarket. He knows rationally that staying at work is risking his life but he feels guilty that others ( although they aren’t high risk or if they are high risk have declined due to being able to work in an office) will be in that situation day in day out, to keep the country supplied with food. 

So his plans are to do some decorating, refurbishing some furniture with Tuesday’s and Sundays as his days off as they would always be in a normal week because we need to keep things as normal as possible.

I am feeling a lot less anxious now that I know that he isn’t being exposed to god knows what. However the stress  levels had obviously been building up over time with me and last night I came down with a migraine. Initially I had hoped I would sleep it off but at 2.15am I was woken with severe pain in the right side of my head and face. I took all my meds and then managed to get back to sleep only stirring at 4.45am when Jay got up and managing to mumble hot water bottle. I managed to stay in bed until 6.30am and then had to get up as my back was killing me. Thankfully by the time I got up the pain had reduced to that of just a bad headache and I knew by then distraction would be better than any pain killer I could take so continued with my day as usual. In the middle of the night I was cursing myself for not getting my blog post written up but thankfully even with helping ( more like supervising) Jay get the table sanded and waxed today I have still managed to get a blog post out.

I hope everyone is keeping well and safe. One day we may even look back on this and laugh, if we are lucky enough to get through it.

Take care

Dembe decided barking at the sander was the way to go! He also tried to get it to do zoomies with him, strange beast.

Sanded and waxed – the biro and lipstick marks removed and it is looking fantastic again

Hell in a Hand Basket

I really hoped that last weeks post would be the only one that I would write on Covid-19 but as the world seems to have gone to hell in a hand basket and we aren’t even in the worst of it yet, simply put it is a subject we just can’t get away from because it is impacting almost every aspect of my life currently.

However I can’t help but feel slightly irked at the melodramatics shown by people whom are healthy in every way and have in all likely-hood a very good chance of getting out of this alive that are walking around moaning like they are a doctor or nurse on the front line or have been exposed to Covid-19. I am so glad in some respects that my inner circle has got so much smaller because I would have probably been arrested for assault after slapping them around the face and telling them to pull themselves the fuck together. They are so inward looking only worried about themselves that they really don’t see they are at far greater risk of being strangled by their colleagues than catching it currently. This is really for the want of a better saying sorting out the men from the boys.

Amongst the chronically sick groups I belong to we are having a chuckle at you healthy individuals losing your shit over having to stay at home for 2 weeks ( if someone in your house is showing symptoms) or 12 weeks for the over 70’s / high risk groups. We have our own memes asking if you have tried yoga or kale to get better. It is hilarious that after such a long time ( for me I have been pretty much self isolating for 12 years) the tables have been turned and some of you will have a chance to see what it is like being separated from the rest of society through no fault of your own other than to get sick or be in a household with someone who is sick. Let me be clear no one from the chronically sick world wants you or anyone else to get Covid-19, we wouldn’t wish that or any other illness on our worst enemies. We just want you to understand what our experience has been like for however many years we have lived it.

Many of us in the chronically sick / disabled world had no choice about our self isolation. Once we got sick and had to withdraw from normal everyday life our worlds shrank. Initially there may have been offers of help and support. Friends ( if you were lucky ) may have visited from time to time but as the years ticked by and they got bored, our worlds shrank even more. I know I found that I literally had to keep the conversations going, be the one to constantly keep in contact with them, otherwise I heard nothing at all from them. Over time that has dwindled away which was why I was so keen to start my crafting group The Stitchin’ Bitches – more on that in a bit.

Whilst I am heartened to see whole communities rallying behind those who are too frail to go shopping or are having to isolate due to having suspected Covid-19. I can’t help but feel a little bitter that it was a crisis like this that was needed for some people to get the help they needed everyday not just now. I also wonder if this goes on for a long time 6 months plus if compassion fatigue will set in. Will people still be looking out for each other when this has blown over ( at the moment that feels a very long way off). I do fear t that once things get back to normal those of your forced into isolation will forget the experience and be no kinder to the chronically sick community than you were before all of this.

My crafting group The Stitchin’ Bitches of which we had 3 wonderful meetings that was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone has been postponed until it is safe for us all to meet up again. One member has COPD, one is immune suppressed, another has asthma ( badly), the other has a husband on fairly strong immunosuppressants. We are a really healthy bunch LOL. Out of all of them I considered myself the least vulnerable until the announcement on Monday evening and as I have the flu jab I am now considered vulnerable. I am not sure why I get the flu jab for free, it could be due to the oxygen that I use on an adhoc basis or the fact I have PoTs / EDS. My husband gets his due to asthma and with him on methotrexate I actually consider him higher risk than myself. So for now all non essential visits to my house have been suspended as I try to limit my exposure to the outside world as much as possible.

Due to simple economic’s hubby can’t self isolate for 12 weeks ( the current advice) we don’t have a mortgage and bill fairy that will come and bail us out. There are hundreds of thousands like us unable to follow the advice because of inadequate financial support if we do. Sure he could take a 3 month career break from work but it would be unpaid. So again do we chose to self isolate or to eat. It’s a very real question facing many of us in a country whose leadership have chosen ideology and economy over human lives. Now if he gets ill or shows symptoms of this virus we will both isolate ourselves for the required 2 weeks. He will get paid for that as his company ( and very well done to them for doing that) are paying people who are having to self isolate for the two week period. But to actually stop working until this blows over is a privilege that only the richest in society can afford. I did have a laugh at Virgin asking its staff to take 8 weeks unpaid off work. What out of touch moron thinks that their staff can afford to do that?

It is really hard not to get anxious about the whole situation, especially when my husband who is normally so detached from the real world it gets irritating, is starting to panic. At the end of last week after the blog post was published lots of people reached out to ensure I was ok. To be fair on the Thursday I was, on the Friday I was a mess. Thankfully I was well enough to do some fabric preparation for projects that I want to start and as that was all measuring and cutting out, I couldn’t let my mind wander and go down the rabbit hole. I swing from being utterly terrified to what will be will be, at an alarming rate. Things seemed to have settled down a bit, we aren’t watching the news constantly and we are practising increased hygiene routines at home.

There isn’t a surface in the house that hasn’t been sprayed with Zoflora at least twice a day! Including Tv remotes, phones and Chromebooks. In fact as soon as the spray bottle comes out Dembe runs upstairs. I am pretty sure he thinks he is going to get sprayed!

We have jointly decided after this dog training course ends ( only one session after tonight’s session ) we will be taking a break. We will be cutting out all non essential travel and socialising. It just isn’t worth the risk and although the training session is hardly crowded, it takes place in a huge barn, its just mixing with more people. People that maybe super spreaders or have symptoms but drag themselves there. I have already seen someone that was supposed to be isolating themselves for 7 days ( before the change to 14 days ) posting photos on social media with them out and about. With people still not taking it seriously, we aren’t prepared to put ourselves at risk due to their stupidity. I am sad about not continuing with the dog training for the time being as some weeks dog training is the only time I see other people other than Jay. Although we don’t stand around and chat just being with other people has done wonders for my mental health so the next few months are going to be tough, when I have got used to seeing people again. But I coped for the 12 years previously and will cope again.

Now when hubby rings me from work on his tea breaks he automatically asks how I am and then I do the same for him. His response this morning was ” well I am ok for the moment, but there are more people now absent from work self isolating”. In a store where they have been cheek by jowl with panic buyers in there thousands for well over a week now is it any wonder that the staff have been exposed. Obviously none of the cases are confirmed as people are only being tested if they are hospitalised, thankfully no one yet out of the staff has been seriously ill enough to be hospitalised. But it everyone is in limbo not knowing if they have had it or if it was just one of the many bugs doing the rounds at the moment due to the lack of testing taking place.

We have at the moment no idea what the future holds. We live in interesting times. 

I sincerely doubt that this will be the last time I blog about the subject.

Who knew you would be considered rich if you have more than 4 toilet rolls? – a little light relief.

***

I keep meaning to say that hubby had the dentist back at the end of February and his Dentist complained to him then that they were struggling at the practice to get face masks and other protective equipment. That was around February 28th, I am writing this on 17th March and things have only got worse since then. If the dentists are finding hard imagine what it is like for hospitals. Many doctors are coming out and saying they can’t get the proper equipment to ensure that they don’t get exposed whilst treating patients. As I said earlier hell in a hand basket and this thing has only just started.

Covid 19 / Corona Virus

I hate to be one of those people who look like they are jumping on the bandwagon but even I am finding it hard not to get a little anxious about the huge fucking elephant in the room which is the Corona Virus or Covid 19 to give it, it’s official term.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

People I talk to about it automatically assume that as I go out very little I am effectively self isolating / quarantining myself. What they forget is that Mr Myasthenia Kid works in retail, after healthcare probably one of the worst occupations to be in for exposure to this virus. Why? well because of customers firstly, many of these superstores have customer bases in the tens of thousands not just the 100 people that you may notice whilst you are in store shopping. Then there are the staff, who will drag themselves into work rather than face the indignity of the attendance policy and have a black mark against their names. So we have the 7th circle of hell right there. So whatever Mr Myasthenia Kid is exposed to rest assured he will unwittingly then be sharing with me. And that really concerns me.

Technically I am not in a high risk group, although I have PoTs it isn’t an issue with my heart. It is a problem with the autonomic nervous system, whilst when I get an infection it makes the PoTs symptoms a million times worse ( causing more palpitations, shortness of breath and syncope / fainting) it won’t kill me, unless I happen to faint in a dangerous situation. EDS also doesn’t mean I am at any higher risk, my only issue is that whilst I am used to joint pain etc – it still hurts, I can’t lie around in bed for days without causing myself more pain due to my back. So whilst I may feel like I need to be in bed I will have to get up and sit / lie on the sofa to ease my back. What worries me and is the name of my blog is the possibly seronegative / undiagnosed Myasthenia Gravis that I have been dealing with since 2007.

Myasthenia Gravis can cause a respiratory crisis which means the patients muscles become paralysed and they can no longer move their rib cage or diaphragm and therefore can’t breathe. I have been blue lighted to hospital back in 2008 with such an issue and was very close indeed to being placed on a ventilator so that they could take my breathing over for me. I was taken immediately to resus and placed on oxygen at 15 litres a minute. After a few hours I was doing a lot better but I was exhausted and slept close to 48 hours solid after that little adventure. I still have home Oxygen now a cylinder and a concentrator as I have the super power of suddenly being unable to breathe properly. I also use the oxygen in the treatment of my migraines, when I am not in such a bad way that I can’t remember I have it. So this is my fear, whilst technically I don’t have a diagnosis of Myasthenia ( when I started the blog I did it was removed in 2009/10 ) I respond well to the treatment of Pyridostigmine Bromide also known as Mestinon which resolves my ptosis and weak muscles within 30 minutes of taking it. Maybe it isn’t MG but some other neuromuscular issue whatever it is this is what is scaring me about Covid-19.

My other fear is should I be unlucky enough to end up seriously ill with the virus, a doctor with no idea about my life or the quality of it could ( due to limited resources ) be making decisions about whether or not my life is worth saving. They may not realise that I have lots of friends, a loving husband, a gorgeous doggy, a very happy fulfilled life with my sewing / embroidery / quilting. That I help run the largest PoTs Support Group on Facebook for the UK and ROI ( nearly 5k members) all they will see lying in front of them is a disabled woman who hasn’t worked for 12 years and is my life worth less due to their views on disability? I have actually found those in the medical profession can be the ones with the worst attitude towards the disabled and do see things as black and white as who is economically worth saving. The medical profession like all walks of life hold a variety of views on the disabled some nice and some totally abhorrent. I should imagine their are many other disabled people out there worrying about whether their lives will be deemed worthy enough to save should difficult decisions have to be made because resources within the NHS ( ICU beds, HDU beds and ECMO machines).

In some ways this all feels like we are sat here waiting for the zombie Apocalypse to start. There have been many complaints that the NHS 111 website is potentially missing many thousands of possible Covid-19 sufferers due to the questions it is asking. Basically unless you have been to an area that is now rife with it or have been in contact with a person with a diagnosis of Covid-19 you aren’t being tested. The main issue now is that many people who have this illness very mildly are  now amongst us spreading the virus and there will be those who are super spreaders who show no symptoms themselves but pass it on to everyone around them, latter-day Typhoid Marys if you will. There are so many known unknowns with this new illness that no one is quite sure how badly countries will be affected.

The fact that just this morning ( Wednesday 11th March ) The Bank of England has cut interest rates and they believe that the UK will now be entering a recession just adds to my concern that this is going to be a very scary time. When have you ever heard of the Bank of England cutting interest rates due to a virus?

I know many people who read my blog will have their own health anxieties and I really don’t want to add to them. But I do believe it would be ridiculous not to talk about this. I can’t be the only one that is worrying and I want to let you know it is ok to be concerned and to practice extra hand-washing. Whats not ok is to let your fears take over your life and stop you enjoying life.

So just some practical tips – not encouraging bulk buying in any way

– Ensure that you have all your regular medications and keep on top of your repeat requests. Just so you don’t run out.

– If you were to have to self isolate do you have family members or a friend who can get shopping for you? reach out on local community pages and find out if there is anyone willing to lend a hand should you find yourself in this position and you have no close friends or family nearby.

– Ensure you don’t allow yourself to run out of the basics. Keep a note pad in your kitchen and when you see something is running low write it down. Then next time you go to the shops or have some one go / order online you won’t forget. Again I am not encouraging bulk buying but ensuring you have enough to last a few days so that you aren’t in a situation with nothing at all.

– Wash sheets and towels on a 60 degreeC setting to ensure you kill as many germs as possible. Try and stay on top of these tasks so that at least you have clean towels and bedding should you get sick.

– If you don’t have it set up get internet banking or a mobile banking app set up. So you can pay bills, buy online etc So if you are sick you don’t have to worry about getting to a bank etc 

– Have pets? ensure you have their food in. We did a bulk cooking session for Dembe on Sunday and have frozen it. So if we are sick he will still have food. If you have a dog and they need walked speak to friends and family and see if they will help out should you need it.

– Ask anyone that visits to not come if they are feeling under the weather. If they are bringing stuff to you get them to leave it on the doorstep. I would rather upset someone by saying I would rather they didn’t spread their germs than have them coughing and sneezing all over me.

– If you have prepayment metres and can afford it ensure these are loaded up. If you can’t speak to your supplier and see if they can help at all should you become ill and not be able to top these up. Many people are going to be in the same boat, so I should imagine they will be getting plans in place to ensure customers are supported. The press will have a field day if people are being left without power.

If you can think of any other hints and tips please leave them in the comments.

Stay safe and stay well.

New Things

Six weeks ago I did something crazy. It had been in my head since before Christmas and I had been spending an age mulling it over too scared to say it out loud. It took until after Christmas for me to even say to anyone what I had been dreaming up.  One day I mentioned to my husband what my idea was, he assured me it wasn’t that crazy and that if I didn’t try I would never know.

To some this idea won’t sound that crazy at all but believe me it sent my anxiety into over drive. My big plan. my crazy idea, wasn’t really out there at all. I just wanted to start up a monthly coffee morning for like minded crafting friends who would like to learn new skills, solve a craft problem, get hints and tips etc. I will be honest  through 2019 I was a bit of a hermit, some of it self imposed, some of it well read my post Reflections and you decide. I was going months and I mean months without seeing anyone other than Mr Myasthenia Kid or Dembe. Ok so that is a bit of a half truth there as we were going to dog training but a 5 minute conversation once a week with someone other than my husband is not socialising. Especially when the topic is just Dembe or dogs in general. My mental health was being crushed, although creatively I had never felt so fulfilled as my sewing / embroidery had taken on a new direction. My anxiety was really getting bad around social interactions because I literally just wasn’t seeing anyone.

Chronic health conditions impact so much of my life, it limits the time I can spend doing it. I would love to run a small business selling items but my body couldn’t cope with the work load that something like an Etsy shop would produce. I can’t do craft fayres as I couldn’t sit there all day without then being sick and exhausted for weeks after. Crafting is my life it gives me the reason to get up and keep going every morning. Without it I would be very lost. However part of crafting is sharing your triumphs and disasters. Whilst there are various Facebook groups ( some of which are very supportive, others are like a nest of vipers) it isn’t the same as actually speaking to a real live human being. I can no longer drive as I lost my driving licence 5 years ago due to my medical conditions. Public transport is too hard going for me. I rely on Mr Myasthenia Kid if I want to go anywhere so attending guild meetings hasn’t been easy due to his work schedule. I wanted something that combined my love and appreciation for all crafts and a social atmosphere. So I took the plunge.

I knew the name I wanted for the group – “The Stitchin’ Bitches”, I also knew due to the size of my house numbers would have to be limited, if anyone wanted to come at all. A friend of mine reached out regarding a crochet issue she was having, we are both self taught and only in the last few months. I casually mentioned in my response that should I start up a group for us to meet and discuss our crochet ( and other crafts) would she be interested. She almost bit my hand off, she would be extremely interested in it and what a good idea. 

Even though I had this positive response I still left it at least a week until I built up the courage to put up a post on my Facebook timeline asking if there were any like minded crafter’s like me that wanted to meet up on a monthly basis and do crafts together. Be it crochet, knitting, embroidery, sewing. I had a lot of responses but it was from people in different parts of the country saying that they wished they lived near me as they would be there like a shot. Initially responses from local friends was slow, embarrassingly so. I was starting to think that maybe there wasn’t any desire from any of my friends ( other than the first one I spoke with). Determined not to take the lack of response from my first post as the definitive answer I posted several more times. Each time I got responses from people outside the area that I lived , even the friends I have made world wide via various health forums wanted to come. But in the end I had 4 people interested which was a good number – remember I live in a tiny house.

I set up a private Facebook group for us all to be able to post in and then set up a poll so that they could let me know what days suited them best to hold a meeting. I had envisioned when I first embarked on this idea that it would be one hour a month – which for me was fine as it would give me time to recover and give me some social time. We decided Mondays were best and set the date for our very first meeting of The Stitchin’ Bitches – they all loved the name by the way! I think we sort of sound like a Country and Western group LOL!

Initially it all seemed fine until my anxiety kicked in the day before our first meeting on Monday 10th February. I was just terrified that the meeting would be a flop, that people wouldn’t speak to each other or that after 30 minutes people would be racing to get out the door. I was so anxious I barely got more than 2 hours sleep, I tossed and turned all night. This would be me hosting an event ( thankfully all my friends know I am poorly and will pitch in with making drinks etc if needed)  without my safety blanket of Mr Myasthenia Kid. Also some of the people attending I hadn’t actually seen since I left work in 2008. For me it was a huge gamble. I am always really anxious when people come to the house anyway, I worry that they think it is dirty or uncared for etc. Its hard to keep on top of stuff when you aren’t well and all the DIY stuff falls on one partner. So I know there are some places crying out to be redecorated etc. I was also worried about people judging me, on the outside I don’t look sick but every day is a battle of some sorts. I worry that people think I am taking the piss because no one ever see’s me when I am really poorly.

Monday 10th February seemed to come around so quickly. By the time 11am arrived I was pretty knackered just from the sheer anxiety creating this “event” had caused. I really shouldn’t have worried. I also wasn’t the only one who had been anxious, a friend confided in me on leaving she had been terrified to attend. As for thinking they would all be racing for the door at 11.30am nothing could have been further from the truth. It was 13.30 that the last person left and the first person had only gone around 15 minutes before that. I had been concerned due to the fact that we all had one work place in common that we would end up discussing that but again nothing could have been further from the truth. It was barely mentioned and that was only as people left. It was just so lovely to have a few hours with people whose eyes didn’t glaze over when crafts were mentioned. I know I can get very passionate about my projects, so it was nice to answer peoples questions about the techniques I had used etc. It was equally nice to see what my friends had been up to. For all of us it was so uplifting to get out of the house and socialise – obviously I didnt go far!

The really nice thing was that as the meeting / gathering was drawing to a close one of the lady’s said “Rach, any chance we can do this once a fortnight? I don’t think once a week is enough”. Everyone else was in agreement also. I said immediately that no one would “have” to come to every session especially if they felt fortnightly was too much, that I was happy for people to dip in and out as needed. But the buzz the morning had created was so great that we set up the next few weeks worth of meetings. I was so proud of myself and what our little group had achieved. I posted on my Instagram account about it and now several other people dotted around the country have decided that they are going to do the same thing. Which is really lovely as it is such a boost for your mental health and to stop the isolation that is all too common in the world.

Today (Monday 24th March) we held the second meeting and today we had the grand total of 7 people here (including me). Dembe was like a dog with two tails, with all the love and fuss he got from everyone. Today two members learned how to start to crochet – slip knot, chain stitches and then double crochet ( UK ). Another lady had a refresher on crochet and learned how to do a Granny Square for the first time. In the corner a lady was being taught to knit. Mr Myasthenia Kid is on holiday this week from work and made himself scarce for a bit having a wander around the town. However he said the buzz and positivity he got from the room when he came home was amazing. He said he was so proud of me for being so brave to try and do something to end my own social isolation. He did make us all laugh as when he walked in he said “good god is this the budget version of the Playboy mansion”. Considering our age ranges were from 21 to 70’s it was hilarious. 

We were also spoiled by a new member who brought homemade scones, jam and cream for us to have as a crafting snack! And bloody gorgeous they were too. I had decided yesterday to make everyone little paper tissue holders as a way of saying thank you for coming and making it such a success. 

I can’t lie after every meeting I have been utterly exhausted. If I knew that it wouldn’t impact my nights sleep I would go for a nap in the afternoon. Mondays after are written off with me having a lazy restful afternoon on the sofa but mentally I feel so uplifted and happy. I am so glad that I pushed myself to do something totally outside my comfort zone and I hope I inspire others to take that chance and do new things.

****

On Thursday 20th February, I had the worst migraine I have ever had in my life. It was so bad that I am actually suffering from amnesia caused by it. I have “lost” most of Wednesday 19th, the majority of Thursday 20th, Friday 21st quite a bit is unrecoverable as is Saturday 22nd.  It is only from yesterday on-wards that I can recall anything that happened during the day with any clarity.  I won’t lie this has scared the shit out of me. Which is why I haven’t done a huge detailed blog post because basically I don’t know what happened to last week. I have a gp appointment booked because I need to know that this was just a horrific migraine and that I can be referred to see a headache specialist or if it was something like a TIA that can also be looked into. Having Google at our finger tips can be a curse and a blessing but as I can’t account for much of last week and this has never happened to me before with a migraine I can’t just ignore what has happened. Anyone who knows me also knows that I don’t run to the doctors every 5 minutes so it has really shit me up.

As soon as I know you will know.

Reflections

The start of a new year always makes me a little reflective. I always think that now I am in my forties I should have my shit together. When I was a teenager people in their forties all seemed to know what they were doing, were confident and self assured. Now I am in my forties I realise like everyone else my age that those forty year old’s I admired were just winging it. No one has got their shit together and we all are just making it up as we go along. All that those 40 year old’s had that I didn’t as a teenager was life experience. I don’t think there will ever be a eureka moment in my life where I feel like I have figured everything out. I think I will forever be winging it and pretending that I know what the hell I am doing.

As you get older I do think you appreciate the simpler things in life. You put home, happiness and friendships above the material things. You also start to refuse to put up with so much crap or maybe it is you finally get the courage to start putting yourself first for a change. At the end of last year I made some quite sweeping changes. I reassessed some relationships, I binned some, I reinvigorated others. I pushed myself to make an effort with those I didn’t want to lose. It is funny during the hard times you really notice who runs towards you and who runs away. And there is the third group of people those that in public or on a public forum make all the right noises but do nothing practically to help.I have noticed this a lot over the last 4 years.

 Those of you who follow the blog or know me personally know that basically over the last 4 years Mr Myasthenia Kid and I have been to hell and back. Briefly ( which is a laugh as even briefly so much has happened each event is a blog post in itself) in 2016 I developed a CSF leak which left me confined to my bed for much of the year and if not in bed lying down. It made socialising very hard, several of my friends were wonderful but one in particular would make all the right noises you know the “just let me know if you need anything” and when you did ask you were met with radio silence or a long list of excuses as to why they couldn’t help. I will never ever be able to repay Imogen for how she helped us during that year, looking after the dogs at the drop of a hat for 8 hours whilst I got treatment at a hospital an hour away. Same for my parents who when Imogen couldn’t help would come up and drive me back down to the hospital a journey of over 100 miles. 

In 2017 we lost our dear friend of over 20 years, Andrew, in a car accident, his passing made me realise I needed to make more of an effort to stay in contact with my friends as none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow let alone a next week. In this year I also lost a family friend of many years who I would have regular conversations with via Facebook Messenger and telephone calls, although we never met in person. Later that year I was to learn my Grandmother and my dear friend Pam ( my neighbour twice and the person I saw most other than my husband) had both been diagnosed with lung cancer, Willow our 11 year old Weimaraner passed away on December 15th and it broke my heart. Due to the events of the following January I don’t think we ever mourned her passing properly. Both Imogen and Heather rushed to my side that day. Another friend offered but I realised at that point that I didn’t want her there at the time I was surprised by my feelings but let it pass thinking it was grief.

In January 2018 we lost both my Grandmother and Pam, despite knowing that both their diagnosis had been terminal we had lived in a bubble that it wasn’t going to happen. I had many conversations with Pam, she moved between despair and complete denial. It was emotionally hard going for me, which probably sounds quite selfish and self absorbed but I challenge anyone to listen to your friend of over 20 years talk about the fact they are dying and walk away untouched. Pam passed away the same week Andrew had a year earlier, which I have always found quite bizarre, especially since Pam had accompanied Jay and I to Andrews funeral less than a year earlier.

 We had no idea then at the ticking time bomb that was contained within Pam’s body. Looking back now there were subtle signs that something wasn’t right, she had looked really tired all the time etc a whole heap of little symptoms that added together were something deadly. Even if we had known then I doubt much could have been done but it makes me angry that mistakes were made in her care and the people that made those mistakes have got away with it. 

When Pam passed away both H and Immie rushed to be by my side again. The other friend basically told me she was coming, despite me saying that she wasn’t needed. It was uncomfortable, for everyone as it was like there was a cuckoo in the nest.  I didn’t know why I didn’t want her there, I just knew that if I was hurting she was the last person I wanted present. I should have listened more to what I was feeling and realised that those feelings were a huge red flag. But instead I blamed myself, telling myself I was cruel and unreasonable to be feeling like that. 

Reflecting back on the situation the lesson I take away from this is don’t ignore those feelings / intuitions / gut instincts. If I hadn’t of ignored them I would have saved myself another 18 months of being treated like shit and only being visited when she thought other people may see her doing it. It was very much a keeping up appearances situation.

There are still a lot of emotions to process from the January of  that year. I haven’t stopped crying since starting to write this and the grief has come out of nowhere as I certainly wasn’t feeling sad before I started writing today.

In the July of 2018 my mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a very rare type at the same time I had stuff going on in my life that was extremely stressful. I was already suffering from terrible anxiety and depression after losing by now 5 people from my life and one dog ( in the February I lost a school friend who I had known from the age of 11 and we used to have regular chats on social media, just last night I thought I must ask Jon what planet I can see in the nights sky currently, as Jon had bought himself a telescope not long before he passed – totally unexpectedly and I had to remind myself that he isn’t here). I struggled to get up and out of bed as the stress was doing a real number on my chronic health conditions. I was passing out frequently and had issues with ptosis. The heat of the summer didn’t help either.

My mum then had major surgery in the August, in the September we had good news that although what had been removed was cancer, it was tiny, the size of a pin head and very unlikely to return. She is currently in remission, no one is cancer free until they have been 5 years clear. She has regular checks at the hospital and will do for another 3 years.

I finally thought that we may get some peace, after all what the hell could happen to us next? Surely the universe was done toying with us now? But no, 2018 was going to end badly and 2019 wasn’t going to start any better. On 29th December 2018 we lost our beloved boy Frankie aged 12 ( a Weimaraner) and his Mum Mollie (Weimaraner) followed him over Rainbow Bridge exactly a week later on January 5th 2019 aged 14. Both had incredibly long lives for the size of dog they were but at the time it felt like my world had imploded. I had spent every day with my dogs since 1st June 2008 ( except for hospital stays ) They were a huge part of my life and most of the time the only company I had except Jay.  I didn’t know that I could be in such emotional and physical pain and yet still wake up day after day. I thought Mr Myasthenia Kid was going to drop dead from a broken heart he looked so fragile and  broken. Even with Dembe our Labrador puppy coming into our lives on January 11th 2019, we were struggling.

This was where I noticed this friends  persons absence even more, no messages checking on how I was doing. No card, no flowers, no visit. Yet again H and Immie were there by my side, along with Paul, Pam’s partner. I will be forever touched by Paul coming over on the Sunday after Frankie passed and then coming over again the following weekend when Mollie passed. He sat and shed tears with us and told us not to worry that Pam would be looking after them until we all met up again.

 I had cards and flowers from friends and cyber friends and yet no call to check how we were, beyond the initial messages of me telling you what had happened. That is when the penny finally dropped, that when I needed you, you disappeared as you had done so many times before, unless there was an opportunity for you to be seen as a “good” person. There were so many people I only knew on Facebook who came to visit to check that we were ok or who messaged me out of the blue. I have never felt love like it, so many people hugging us, looking out for us, physically being present. 

When Dembe arrived oh my goodness, so many visits. I have never known a puppy get so many toys and presents. I had baby gates offered within minutes of me asking on Facebook if I could borrow some, the same with crates etc. Nothing was too much trouble for people. It was overwhelming and it was something I have never experienced before and I am so touched by all those people. However it made this persons lack of action / concern even more painfully obvious. That hurt, even with all the pain I was in already the fact that we could all be so easily forgotten was another huge red flag.

Initially I made excuses,  maybe I hadn’t said I was struggling? Maybe you didn’t realise I was grieving? Maybe you didn’t understand the depth of my grief? But even to the village idiot it would have been glaringly obvious. Contact over the year became less and less. It felt more and more like it was one way traffic which indeed it was. I was lucky when I messaged you if I got more than a couple of sentences out of you. Again I made excuses, you were busy with your new life now. You certainly made me feel like I was interrupting you living your best life. When it got to 4 months since I had last spent any time with you and even longer since we had spent any time alone, the decision was made. I had waited a month at that point for a message to be answered. I snapped. I was faced with the prospect of you turning up on my birthday and I knew I couldn’t pretend for 5 minutes let alone several hours that everything was ok and that I was grateful for the few crumbs of attention you had thrown my way.

You would have never put up with being treated like that by anyone, yet I was just supposed to accept this? The last 2 years had passed in a haze of grief but I was starting to feel stronger. I knew that your behaviour  was now emotionally damaging to me. I couldn’t move forward if I was going to continually wound myself, wondering what I had done wrong, why I wasn’t good enough or why you felt you could take advantage of my good nature. So I ripped the band aid off and called time, reasonably amicably. I had been hesitant about hurting you when it was clear from your actions you had no concern about hurting me.

I suppose I am reflecting on all this as that is what the new year does. December and January are full of anniversaries of people and pets passing they are hard months. It’s only now on 22nd January that I feel like the weight has been lifted . That I realise that the last few years I have been operating / functioning with a low level depression going on in the background. That the anxiety has lessened enough for me to see things clearly.

 You had changed or maybe the real you had come to the surface? Perhaps I chose not to see the real you or the nasty comments you made on a regularly basis. I put those down to you being verbally clumsy despite the fact you claim to be a writer. I realised I had put up with far more than I had ever credited myself with. I was right to call time and that belief is unshakeable now. I’m not the only one that has noticed that you have changed, grown colder and more bitter than you have ever been. I feel sorry for you as your world is shrinking and you are so full of yourself you can’t see it. One day you will come crashing down to earth with a bump and you will be all alone. Maybe you want it that way, so you can perpetually be the victim?

I reflect back and realise I should have found the strength earlier. That I should have seen the pattern that I could never depend on you. That you liked to take and use, yet giving absolutely nothing in return.  You may think you have everybody fooled but truthfully more and more of us are seeing through you. I hope you find some peace because only someone who is utterly miserable with their own life finds joy in hurting others.

To feel human again

It has been a manic few days and it has left me utterly exhausted. I have seen that many people I could almost be accused of being a social butterfly. All I know is today I feel like the batteries have been taken out and I am working with my emergency power supplies only.

We have started back at dog training and we are going twice a week. On Sundays Dembe has his agility training which he loves and is doing so well at. On Tuesdays he has his obedience training which he loves in a different way. Both tire him out mentally as well as physically. The problem with the dog training is that there is just one day in between which doesn’t quite give me enough time to bounce back if I am then adding in medical appointments or getting my hair done or seeing people. 

Tuesday was my final medical appointment out of a string of 4 over the last 3 weeks. One medical appointment in a week is enough to knock me for 6. 4 in the space of three weeks has sent me crashing. It’s hard to describe what you mean to people that aren’t sick. For me it means I wake up feeling more tired than when I went to bed. It is an effort at times to even take a breathe in. As the day wears on I feel like I have been at the gin, without the fun part, so my eyes are bouncing around all over the place and I feel disconnected from my body. I look very pale and run down but inside I feel like death warmed up. I can struggle to maintain my body temperature so that I am freezing cold ( even in the height of summer). I can get emotional over the slightest thing, lose my temper usually with inanimate objects that aren’t doing as they are told because my hands won’t work ( so I am continually dropping them ) . It makes it hard for me to complete anything that requires attention to detail.

Add in me making the stupid decision to make all the Christmas gifts for family & friends but not starting the majority of them until a few weeks ago and I feel like I am on a hamster wheel that I just cant get off. There is no down time as not doing something for a day puts me further behind but this week I have had to take a step back because I am so tired I can’t work without making mistakes. Doing nothing makes me feel like a failure and that I don’t contribute anything to the world…which is why I have been teaching myself how to crochet so that on the days I can’t sit at the sewing machine / embroidery machine I can do something else curled up on the sofa or in bed.

The stupid thing is I keep adding to this list of things to make which is then piling on the stress. I will get there but I keep having panic attacks when I see someone helpfully posting on Facebook that there are X amount of days / weeks until Christmas. I really need to learn to be kinder to myself as even on the days when I have felt drained I have still pushed myself to do just a little something. I like to break tasks down so that I when I come to make an item it is all ready to go and the amount of time it will take to get it all together will be massively reduced. 

So like yesterday I decided to have a go at making the Doggie Christmas Stocking from Sweetpea Embroidery. Because I know I need to make at least two of these for gifts, as I prepped the fabric pieces for the first stocking I did the second. It took me longer, obviously but Jay was home and was doing all the running around for me so all I had to do was sew. When or if I manage to get to the embroidery machine today all I will need to do is stitch it out as everything is ready and cut to size. This is how I have to do all my projects, I do all the prepping one day or over a couple of days and then when I make the item I can concentrate solely on that rather than expend energy I don’t have. It is very rare for me to be able to start and finish a project no matter how small in a day. As my actual time I am able to work is so severely limited. I can’t sit at the embroidery machine or sewing machine all day, I am deeply envious of those who can. I am in pain within 20 minutes, so have to take regular breaks. I have an alarm on my phone that goes off every 20 minutes to ensure that I get up and move / change positions. Otherwise it will cost me £45 at the physiotherapist whilst she tortures me ( in the nicest possible way ) to correct the damage I have done to myself. 

It’s the same for material prepping. Everything is done in stages. Many times I make cardboard templates to help me with ensuring I cut out the right size fabric pieces. This helps with cutting down waste and ensures that even if I am not thinking straight as long as I have the right template ( sometimes that isn’t as easy as it sounds) I can be trusted to cut my fabric out. Obviously making templates adds more time to a project, it tends to only happen if I know I will be making more than one of an item. Basically the majority of my life is spent breaking down tasks into smaller manageable chunks so that I have the energy to be creative and give my life some meaning.

Currently there are boxes everywhere with bits of fabric / templates / batting all cut to the correct sizes waiting to be embroidered and sewn together. It will all get done but it will be done slowly and in the best way that I can pace myself.

I am so exhausted today as Sunday I had two visits from friends who had come to collect their table runners that I had made them, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. It was great to see them but we also had dog training in the middle of the day.

The table runners had taken a lot out of me getting made and I had been stressed out about getting them straight and sewn together nicely. I took a lot of time over it. The top stitching alone left me needing a nap afterwards last Friday. I sewed the rest of it together on Saturday afternoon.

Monday I had my hair done for the first time since August, it needed done desperately as I had already used my dressmaking shears to hack a sizeable amount off the fringe ( bangs ). After my attempt at hairdressing it was even more important that it was sorted out. I am lucky that I have a wonderful friend who does my hair for me and knows I find the whole process exhausting. Doing it at home means it takes 2.5 hours instead of 4 hours being overstimulated by lights and sound in a hair salon. 4 hours in a salon would probably lead me to be bed bound for around a day.

Tuesday – the last medical appointment was for my filling. I did it without diazepam the first appointment in ages where I have managed that. My dentist and I have now got a process that works and reduces my anxiety. I had to ask him just to not tell me any detail about the procedure. I only need to know that I require a filling not what he will be doing. It worked brilliantly as he didnt tell me on the 4th of November what the process would be and yesterday as he did it he kept quiet . It worked like a charm. I was just left with TMJ pain in the afternoon and evening, which triggered a migraine. I spent a lot of the dog training session last night losing the vision in my right eye and the feeling that my scalp was shrinking.

Today ( Wednesday ) I have woken up with the remains of a migraine, waves of nausea and just generally feeling washed out and knackered. I will push myself later to get something on the Christmas present to do list made or completed but for the minute I am drinking bucket loads of coffee in the hope it will make me feel more human again.

Consequences

I went out on Sunday with friends…. I know that sentence seems bizarre. It is something I haven’t done in 12 years. On the surface it may appear to some that to attempt such a thing must mean that I am doing better. I mean I left the house and socialised for 6 hours. What they didn’t see was the fact there were days of pacing so activity followed by rest periods. Massive amounts of ensuring I got my medications scheduled at the right time and attempting not to let my anxiety take over.

We planned going to the create and craft show back in July. As the ticket only cost £8, I was prepared to lose it if on the day I woke up and wasn’t well enough to attend. It seemed so far off in the future the 29th September that it may as well been a year away. So when I realised it was the coming weekend it set me into a panic. My biggest fear was becoming ill away from home and then ruining the day for my friends.

The anxiety leading up to this event was off the chart. I lost a few nights sleep over it. I kept catastrophizing, what if’s? The stupid thing is many of these what if’s have never happened. It was a fear of the unknown, of never having been to a Create and Craft show or knowing how busy it would be.  Surprisingly the morning of the show the anxiety had subsided and I was able to look ahead to the day. I was almost relaxed which then made me anxious.

I had more medication on me than a pharmacy to cover me for every eventuality.  I had my 4 hourly meds – pyridostigmine and pseudoephedrine to ensure that my blood pressure remained high enough for me to remain vertical and not suffer horrendous fatigue. Extra pain relief in case sitting on my scooter for all that time caused muscle spasms or just pain. Stugeron in case my vertigo decided to kick off and cause me problems. Taken at the earliest opportunity it can stop an attack in its tracks. Buscopan, in case due to nerves my bowel adhesion pain decided to pop up and make itself known. Paracetamol – to give me extra back up for my pain relief. I decanted oramorph ( liquid morphine) into a smaller bottle so I didn’t have to carry a huge one with me. Alarms were set on my phone, compression socks on, allergy lists, medication lists and medical condition lists were safely stowed in my bag. Along with a list of my doctors and next of kin. All this and I was only leaving the house for a few hours. If that all sounds like someone who is doing better let me know.

Every trick in my book was employed to ensure that I would be able to cope with this trip out ( as a one off ). Everything that could be done in advance of Sunday was done. Clothes for the day sorted by Wednesday, down to underwear and compression stockings. All clothes had to be comfortable, in layers so that I could be warm or cooler depending on how my temperature decided to behave on the day. Normally I am always cold. All medicines, allergy lists, medical info was printed out weeks in advance and kept in an envelope so on the day ( or day before ) it could just be slipped into my bag. My bag was packed on Friday and Saturday, last minute items Chilly bottles of drinks were added on Sunday morning. Nothing was left to chance. Every eventuality was planned for. Jay would be staying at home with Dembe and would be ready to come and get me should I need collecting early.

The day itself was fantastic, I managed to chat to lots of people. I met the ladies behind the scrap-busting quilt challenge from Sugar Bowl Crafts and bought half a metre of material from then, some Anna Maria Horner fabric. I chatted at length to the local branch of the Embroidery Guild and would have signed up to attend meetings had they not taken place on a Saturday. Not driving and having hubby work in retail meaning Saturdays off are like gold dust means I miss out on a lot of things. I also spent a great deal of time talking to the Quilters Guild  region 4 which is my region. I am now considering entering a quilt into the novice category of The Festival of Quilts as 2020 is the last year I would be able to enter this category. You have to have been sewing less than 3 years, I started October 7th 2017.

I could have spent an absolute fortune on fabric. There were just so many beautiful fabrics from so many different designers. I managed to pick myself up some bargains. I got some gorgeous fat quarters, some Christmas and some non Christmas.

 

I managed to pick up some good quality thread for £1 a reel. The pinky one is for me to finish a cushion cover as I didn’t have any threads that were even close to the colour of the fabric. The blue thread is for my Christmas table runners. As I tried applique on my embroidery machine last week for the first time, I absolutely loved it.

Yesterday I found out my snowmen are going to be the Brother Embroidery machine group that I belong to banner for the month. Which was a wonderful surprise.

A lot of my Christmas fabric was bought to make Snowmen and Father Christmas table runners as gifts. So I went in with a set list and didn’t deviate from my plan. It would have been incredibly easy to go mad but I have so much fabric that I need to only buy what I need, not what I want! Or I will have to make another scrap-busting quilt very soon!

By the time we had finished at the show I was getting cold and exhausted. I was in bed by 6.15pm as I could no longer hold myself upright and had already suffered a bad fall in the kitchen about a hour earlier caused by being over tired. I was asleep before 8pm and slept all the way through waking at around 6.30am. By 7am I had badly scalded myself with steam from the kettle so Monday was effectively written off as I spent the day on the sofa with my hand in a bowl of cold water.

Yesterday was pretty quiet too although I did manage to stitch out a cushion front for a friend. Only because hubby was home and I didn’t have to do anything other than look after myself. I managed to forget to take my blood pressure boosting medications so by 4pm I was wondering if I would make it to dog training. I took my medication and had two cups of coffee and that saw me through. However this morning…Wednesday all the activity has caught up with me and I feel hungover, the concentration span of a gnat and every part of my body hurts.

I knew that I wouldn’t get away with going out unscathed, I am a little surprised that it has taken over 48 hours to hit me properly. Normally it is 24 hours before I feel an outings / events full effects. But this was a huge deal and I had probably kept myself going with the adrenaline still firing and the fact Monday I couldn’t do anything and I was still limited yesterday. There are always consequences, I will always end up paying for enjoying myself. I can’t complain it is far worse not to have done anything and still wake up feeling like you have been run over by a truck. I might not look that sick but looks are very deceiving. Only people who really know me, know how I look when I am taking a nosedive. This morning I only had to catch sight of myself in the mirror to know that this was the day I would be paying for trying to be normal.

So it was a huge deal for me going out on Sunday, it wont be a regular thing as I don’t want to spend days recovering no matter how much I enjoy myself. This is now recovery day three and this is the most multisystemic one. Today my blood pressure is misbehaving, I am white as a sheet and my pain is at a higher level than the norm. I would love nothing more than to announce that my health has made such a significant improval that a trip out with friends had no consequences for me but sadly that just isn’t the case.

Massive thank you to Alison and Tracey for looking after me. Also Chris for driving us.