I hope….

Well it seems we are all players in some kind of dystopian society. The police ( it has been reported) going into shops and telling the store owners what they can and can’t sell. Road blocks stopping cars asking where the occupants are going. Whilst I understand some of these measures maybe necessary I do sometimes wonder if there will be long term ramifications for our civil liberties when this is all over. Possibly the free society that we have been told exists for so long, was just a fallacy. Who knows ? It is just a bloody strange time to be alive. 

I worry a lot about the adults of the future and their mental health after being exposed to these constant stress levels. No matter how good of a parent you are the kids are going to notice that things are far from normal. Exposure to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol for prolonged periods during childhood is theorised to cause damage (here) We went into this global pandemic with a vastly underfunded National Health Service, whose mental health side always played the poor relation. Now we have the very real issue that after we get through this that not only adults maybe displaying the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress but also millions of children. All people who may be needing immediate help after this crisis is over but the help sadly won’t be available to them.

My anxiety levels have been all over the place in the last week, I know I am not the only one who is struggling to deal with the current situation. Last week gin and chocolate were my drugs of choice but they left me feeling awful and rapidly gaining weight, so I have switched back to my meal replacement as I feel so much better on this and it stops the passing out after eating nonsense. Hubby is also having to battle the demon anxiety, his is related to work and the guilt of not being there. The slightest thing is setting him off so it is necessary to attempt to fill his days with as much activity as possible so he simply doesn’t have the opportunity to fall down the Covid- 19 Rabbit hole. 

I was perfectly fine with the whole lock down situation as in all honesty it was no different to any other week in the past 12 years. At the moment with Mr Myasthenia Kid being home it just feels like he is on holiday other than his work phone is on and he is ringing staff to find out how they are doing whilst they are also on 12 weeks leave from work. However more than two weeks of this and it is going to get bizarre. I have grown very used to my own company over the last 12 years. I can usually accommodate the disruption to my routine when he is home, this 12 week period could be a test as I do like my routine. 

On Saturday a dear friend dropped off mine and hubby’s prescription medication to us. Normally I would have thrown my arms around her and given her a hug. Instead we had to observe the whole two metre distance protocol . It was weird and unnatural ( I get that it is to stop infection, it doesn’t stop it from being totally alien ). We have over the last ten years become quite a demonstrative country, friends greet each other with a hug, peck on the cheek. So to suddenly go back to not greeting my nearest and dearest this way, well it really upset me. As soon as I closed the front door I started crying and I pretty much wept on and off all day long. Which was a bit of a nightmare as I was trying to do some sewing. It was the first time in a long time that I had to acknowledge the isolation. I know I am incredibly lucky, I have someone at home with me, so I have human contact. There will be many people out there, particularly elderly people or those who have been widowed with grown up families that have no one at all and it will be like that for 12 weeks ( at least ).  Countless pieces of research have concluded that loneliness is as bad for you physically as smoking 15 cigarettes a day let alone the damage it does to you mentally. For a nice easy to read article on it click here .

A lot of people are going to be experiencing something they have never done before – complete isolation. The impact on the health service after this is all over will last years and people, well those in power need to be thinking about the nations recovery, not just financial after this. Every generation will be affected, every demographic it is another ticking time bomb waiting for us on the other side of this pandemic. There will be those dealing with the loss of one or more loved ones, those who have had OCD triggered ( obsessive compulsive disorder ) by the excessive hand washing we are all undertaking to prevent contracting or spreading this virus. Also what about the women who are due to give birth right now, will there be an increase in postpartum depression or psychosis? We already knew that the mental health resources were spread thin before this started, with a depleted exhausted work force how on earth will anybody get the help they will so desperately need when this is finally all over ( and for some their conditions will be so acute right now that they need the care immediately and it won’t be there ).

I also worry for the key workers who are holding this country together right now. Ever increasing work loads as more and more people have to self isolate for two weeks. The abuse that some of them have suffered whilst simply trying to carry out their role to help the general public. Some of them have had to make some very painful emotional choices, not to see their children / loved ones for fear of contaminating them with this virus. When they are already experiencing probably some of the toughest working conditions they have ever endured they now have the added emotional toll of having the physical contact of the ones they love removed from them. The people at home can be the very support system that keeps people going at times like these.

I have great concerns for the doctors, nurses, health care assistants, home carers who may have patients that pass away from Covid-19. I can’t imagine the toll that is being taken on those who are dealing with rooms full of Covid-19 sufferers, that will or probably have already decided who will and who won’t be placed on a ventilator. Can you even begin to imagine the damage that must do to a person? Having to tell that persons loved ones that the patient won’t survive, isn’t a suitable candidate for life support. People may think they must become immune to it over time but I don’t think they ever truly do and this maybe the tipping point for many in this field of medicine that leads them to walk away from it once this crisis is over. It maybe the same for many occupations, that people realise the emotional toll that the job has taken on them is just too high.

Many of my friends still work in retail, once a job considered by many to be low skilled is now feeding the nation. However after 2 weeks worth of abuse by the general public many are now refusing to do more than their base hours, no longer willing to do over time and be exposed to the abuse both physical and verbal for just over the minimum wage. Who can blame them? Many people are making the decision to place health particularly mental health over wealth. They can no longer put up with their treatment at the hands of others, when they are providing a vital service. Without anyone in food retail from the checkout operator, to the store cleaner, to the HGV driver to the factory worker, to the packet printer, to the farmer and many others I have failed to mention, you would’ve have gone hungry. And yet some people are still treating them like they are shit on their shoes well shame on you.

I am hopeful for great social change once this is all over. I am hoping those previously thought of as low skilled get the recognition they should by being paid a proper wage. That the homeless will remain housed and not turfed out once the crisis is resolved.

I hope that we come out of this accepting that we all will be carrying mental scars no matter how tough we are and that there will be the help available to all that need it, not just those that ask for it.

I hope that we all start to appreciate each other more and realise everyone has their part to play if we want to live in a fair and just society. That it is no longer someone else’s problem.

I hope most sincerely that we never go back to once what was normal, that we strive to make a difference every day.

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.

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.

Happy New Year 2020

Welcome to the first post of 2020, doesn’t it just sound so weird 2020? I keep expecting someone to add in the word vision. This year will mark our 20th wedding  anniversary, it will also be 23 years that we have been together as a couple. How on earth did I get so old to be celebrating 20 years with someone. At 46 it now means that I have spent half my life with Jay and scarier still that 50 is looming ever closer! 

A New Year can make you sit and take stock, it brings about all the New Year New Me bullshit but for those of us facing some bereavement anniversaries the only thing we ever want to do is just get January over with. The first anniversary of Frankie and Mollie’s passing was far harder than I could have ever imagined. I spent both days in floods of tears pretending I was ok to Mr Myasthenia Kid so he didn’t worry about me whist attempting to deal with his own grief. The day after Mollies anniversary it was the 2nd anniversary of my Gran passing and this year it hit me harder than the first. 

There have been so many times over the last 12 months I have gone to ring her and got as far as picking up the phone only to suddenly realise she is no longer with us. I still haven’t deleted her number from our phones, it is the same with Andrews. Towards the end of this month marks three years since Andrew passed away and his number is still the first on both mine and Jays phone, along with the home phone. In the same week it is the second anniversary of losing Pam, one of my oldest friends I made in Exmouth and my next door neighbour twice. It would have been her birthday the week before. So as you can see January is an exceptionally shitty month for Jay and I. A month where we grit our teeth and try to just get through it.

Thankfully this year we have signed ourselves up for training courses for Dembe, so last night we had our first session of the advanced class. Dembe did really well and we got a bit of one to one time at the end with the trainer Martin as we are trying to get Dembe to walk, next to the mobility scooter with me holding the lead. I find this nerve wracking as I am always terrified that he will get too close and I will run him over. This bit of training is as much for me as it is Dembe. We do love going to training and Dembe enjoys it too. On Sunday we will be going to Agility Training for Non Beginners, this is a fun course which leads on from the agility course he did last year. He enjoyed it so much particularly the tunnels we decided we would do the next one on. It also gets us out of the house on Sunday and Dembe just loves going and doing something different. Our whole lives revolve around him, making him happy and providing a stimulating environment for him.

Thankfully we had a lovely Christmas despite knowing what the end of December and the whole of January would hold for us, with all those anniversaries. We received a truly wonderful gift from two of our friends, I burst into tears when I saw it ( I am blaming the menopause for ability to cry at the drop of a hat at the moment). It now has pride of place in our lounge and we have since added some more photos to the wall around it.

We were both so very touched by the thoughtfulness behind this gift. It contains a photo of ( going left to right) Willow, Mollie, Travis. Frankie and then Dembe at the bottom as a tiny pup. I can’t believe that this Saturday will mark the end of his first year with us, what is known as amongst dog people as his Gotcha Day. We will be celebrating his Happy Gotcha Day and we thank our lucky stars that we have such a wonderfully affectionate dog as Dembe.

Dembe was thoroughly spoilt by our friends this Christmas, it was crazy the amount of gifts he got and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who got him something. We certainly didn’t expect it.

Not in the photos, his Uncle Paul also got him a new food bowl, Sam gave him a tin of sardines which he had for breakfast Christmas morning, some tennis balls and a bone shaped chew, he also got bags of treats from various people as well. He was a very lucky little pup. We got him the huge tugger you can see in the photo, along with the grey puppy. We also got him a pop up tunnel which he went through twice on Christmas morning but has flat refused to do it again. We are hoping after Sundays agility class he will be happy to go through it again.

I planned to do as much of a #memadechristmas  as possible. At times it was incredibly stressful, wondering if I would manage to get it all done. I did and thankfully all my gifts were really well received. I also made the majority of Jay’s gifts, which was a bit of a nightmare as I am useless at keeping secrets and nearly gave the game away on so many occasions. Also I was using the day time to make presents for family and friends, whilst at night in bed when I was watching TV or couldn’t sleep I was crocheting him a hat and scarf set. I can’t remember if I have said anything on my blog about the fact I have been teaching myself to crochet since November 2nd. When Jay opened his hat and scarf from me, he didn’t initially believe that I had made it. The only way I could get him to believe me was to ask him to find the labels on them. He was thrilled with them both.

As he worked Christmas Eve I let him open one present from me, purely as I couldn’t wait to see his face. This was another gift that I had been working on in secret, a quilt made from a pre-printed panel ( so not cutting / patchwork ). He had seen this panel on several occasions when it had been featured on the now defunct Sewing Quarter tv channel, every time he had raved about it and what a lovely quilt it would make. I purchased it in secret and then when I could worked on it. He was over the moon with it.

Christmas was a bit of a Dembe and Daddy “love in” which was a gorgeous to see. Dembe loves it when his daddy is home and makes a real fuss of him. He is my dog but he loves his daddy very much as well. I managed to get this shot of them on Christmas morning

Dembe sat on Jays lap as often as he could during Jays time off form work. They really are devoted to each other.

I had some really lovely gifts from friends and family. I took part in a Secret Santa organised in a Facebook group I am part of and received a pattern – The Humbug Bag and some beautiful fabric ( and some zips).

From Jay I got a little travel iron – which I had asked for to help me when I need to iron small pieces of fabric or small seams on quilts. Ironing is a bit of a nightmare for me so anything that makes it easier for me is brilliant, I hate having to wait for help. I also got two books on crochet,

And I have already made a small dog from the book – a weimaraner, it looks dog like but not Weimaraner like but that is down to my skills at crochet that need a lot of practice.

I am currently working on a giant Labrador made out of chunky wool. It is HUGE! Dembe keeps barking at it as he wants to play with it. Currently it is limbless and ear less, although I have embroidered his nose on. Which is what is probably making him bark.

We got so many lovely presents we really are very lucky to have such lovely friends who spoil us alongside our families.

Even with all the gift making I managed to gift myself this Christmas Quilt which I made on my embroidery machine. I am very proud of it as it is the first quilt I have done on it and until October 2019 I had never done applique on my Embroidery machine as the thought terrified me.

I was very sad when my quilt had to be packed away along with all the other Christmas decorations but I am really looking forward to getting it out again later on this year. 

I hope that those of you who celebrate at this time of year had a wonderful time. Wishing you better health, happiness and peace for 2020.

 

Merry Christmas 2019

Normally at this time of year I would take a long look back at the previous 12 months and do a summary of all that has happened. This year however its more of a case of 2019 don’t let the door smack you on the arse as you make your way out. The year started with the lowest of lows and has ended with some highs. I must truly count my blessings as some of us haven’t made it through this year and will not be seeing 2020 in. It is sobering when a person you have known through social media passes away and at the tender age of 25. It makes you take a breath and realise a lot of the stuff that pisses you off is simply #firstworldproblems.

 
 

 
So to move onto happier things here is a photo of my dear handsome boy Dembe who is my world. He has brought us so much joy in what could have been an utterly awful year. He is also the reason why last night I found out I had won a hamper of dog treats worth £80. I entered a quiz as the company we use to help us train Dembe ( and train us) Happy Dogs was celebrating 15 years of being in business this year. The first prize winner couldn’t collect the prize so I was awarded it. It was a lovely surprise in a year where I have won quite a few things weirdly. I have never known a year like it for competition wins. I have won a £10 tropic skincare voucher, a bottle of Super greens skin oil by Tropic for myself and a friend ( worth £42 a bottle), I won in a prize draw on Instagram a set of three thread glosses for hand sewing that have Christmas scents. I have also had quite a nice year with the lottery having one win at £140. So I would normally say I was an unlucky person but the facts actually show me it is the complete opposite. I have some dreadfully unlucky things happen but in the grand scheme of things I can’t complain at my haul.
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
I have also been gifted vast amounts of fabric this year by my cousin Juliet and two ladies who I am friends with on Instagram. I have been bowled over by peoples generosity which is why this week I have donated 8 Christmas stockings to children who need some Christmas cheer. This has been done through a Facebook page I am part of called XXX ( name of our town) Friends in need. We support families who have fallen on hard times mainly due to the implementation of universal credit, people donate items to the page, if you take an item you pay for it with food / grocery donations to Claire who runs it. My second hand lounge curtains that I simply adore came from this page. I donated back our old lounge curtains and got Jay to drop them off to the lady that wanted them. It has also been a good way to recycle items and prevent them going to landfill, whilst also helping those who need our help.
 
In the new year Jay and I will be going through the house including the loft and having a massive sort out. We will be donating what we can to the page so that families may benefit from it. It is a sad indictment of our times that people are living in poverty unable to feed their children in a country that is either 5th or 6th richest in the world. Whilst all the time the media portray those living on benefits as living in luxury and being scroungers. What I love about the friends in need page is no one judges and if they do Claire swiftly boots them from the page. Unfortunately due to the election result there will be more and more families that need our help. People really do need to remember that these days most people are one illness / accident away from poverty / losing their homes. That can’t be right and it shouldn’t be accepted with a shrug of the shoulders like there is nothing we can do. I always think there for the grace of god go I. 
 
Christmas will be a quiet affair for Jay and I as it always is. We do enjoy spending time with each other . He will be exhausted after the run up to Christmas, it is always nice just having the time to be with each other uninterrupted. 
 
As this time next week it will be Boxing Day in the UK ( 26th December for everyone else ) this will be my last blog post of 2019. A year which I can’t say I am sad to see the back of. I will see you again on 9th January, so I can have a break over the festive period.
 
 
So despite the tragic start to the year I am ending it on a happy note and feeling extremely grateful for everything I have and the people who are in my life  are those who want to be there and don’t treat me as an after thought.
 
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful 2020.