Always look on the bright side

I’m sitting up in bed, listening both to the rain and the birds singing in the gum tree and acacias outside our house. The magpies visit daily, singing and chattering to us, the cat chatters back. (I put the link in for the UK / USA peeps as the birds are called the same, but are so different. The warble is lovely, and our pair come when they’re called to hang out).

I’m making a concerted effort to sit upright as much as I can today. I’m also revving up for a long hot shower, but I’m waiting till the boys get back from hockey before I have it. I’m not as unsteady on my feet as I was, but I’m still a bit worried I’ll fall over.

I’m trying to find the positives in this.

I spend my life propping others up, checking in, cheering on. I’m not and don’t think I am all ‘woe is me’ – I’m just trying to show what’s going on in my life. The only way we are going to get through life is to walk beside each other. If you feel I overshare, or whinge or complain. That’s fine, tell me.

We’re all adults FFS, we’re not in the school yard anymore.

Hubs has asked I don’t share as much on Facebook. I told him, ok, but I’m not going to dial back on the mental health stuff though. That shit is important.

So I’ve “gone fishing”. I’ll push photos through to FB from Instagram. I’ve also ticked a box that means you can’t see when I’m online, so I can wander around in my groups and reply to messages on my time.

I’ve also had a big cull and blocked others, because I am done.

I wear my heart on my sleeve; always have, always will. If you don’t like it, that’s fine; I don’t have to like the stuff you do either. That’s the joy of being an adult.

But like I said, I’m looking out for the positives. I’ve only had the flu, imagine if it was anything serious? Broken hearts take a long time to heal, but you come out stronger.

what a week

Valerian, the herb, not the movie

Last night it took me ages to get to sleep again. Then I woke up. Fretted. Got cross with myself. Fretted some more. Got back to sleep. I had bad dreams last night too, images I can’t shake even now. I staggered out of bed at 6:20am; bleary eyed, unbearably sad and with less than an hour to have a shower, finish lunches, get Hubs to the station, Archie to school and me on the road.

Things didn’t get done over the weekend, like Archie’s reading diary. We read every day with him, but have to justify it to his teacher by completing it. I sent him to school with three blank spaces in it, so can look forward to ‘????’ in there tonight when we get home.

I got in the car ready to whizz the wee man to school and got an alert on the dash ‘Key mechanism not working’ I only needed to get the battery changed, but it freaked me out somewhat as I’m transferring the car to my new job.

I’m tired, cranky and honestly, shell-shocked. I am not fully in my body. I have to start taking better care of myself, otherwise I’m going to fall over. I need to do some exercise to help tire me out and get me to sleep, but tonight I just need an early night. I’ve also brought some Valerian for good measure. I am making myself eat, as I have no appetite and when I do eat, I feel sick. To top it all off, my stomach is churning. Looking everything up online, so far so normal. I know it is a process I’ve got to navigate, my compass is a bit faulty.

I am so glad that I’ve got people on the end of the phone for me. I’m also grateful that Ian and I are messaging each other. Cat photos, nonsense, updates on our days and laundry. Anything and nothing. He told me off for drinking, having seen me obliterate feelings and pain before, he knows the depths I can sink to. I’ve reset my sober date to today (24 June).

At lunch time, I went to Box Hill Central – that has changed a huge amount since I last was there. I was only just pregnant with Archie, so over eight years ago. I dropped the dry cleaning in, found a pharmacy for the aforementioned herb extract. Walking round to find somewhere to get the battery changed, I got completely lost; asked for help, got misdirected out of one building and into another. Then giving up altogether, as I was heading out (in a huff) to get back to work, I walked right into the stand and got the battery replaced.

Then … I got lost coming out the car park, had to do a U-Turn on Elgar Road.

I should be able to book my flights tomorrow, Ian is off to the funeral director now. That might help, as I feel a bit lost and in limbo still.

I don’t know what to say

This is the bit I hate. When people do the head tilt and say ‘I’m sorry.’ Both of us feeling inadequate because we have no language for grief any more.

In a way, I’m glad I’ve changed jobs. I now sit in an office with ten people, instead of over a hundred. I don’t think I could cope with lots of people coming up and doing the head tilt at me.

I’ve been in constant contact with Ian, messaging each other about shit. Inanities, funeral plans, what, where, when, cats. I said to him today I was worried about upsetting him, he told me off – “Not going to happen” as he reminded me, “We lived under the same roof for goodness knows how long and never had a cross word.”

We had a giggle last night about the amount of selfies Erika took. Literally every where she went, she took a selfie. No shame, no fuss, no bother. “This is me in outer Mongolia. This is me with an ice cream. This is me with everyone. This is me!” We laughed at the montage of photos that could scroll through for hours without repeating itself.

I’ve got her last selfie saved in my phone, she knew she was heading into hospital so got all her hair cut off. She looks calm, adorable with a pixie crop, stoic almost.

I miss her giggle.

BossLady was very sweet last night and said, ‘Don’t rush in tomorrow’. So when L messaged me and said ‘Want to meet up?’ I jumped at the chance to say ‘Yes, let’s have a coffee’. Best laid plans were foiled when we found the coffee machine had gone phut, but we coped and went to the other cafe.

I am so blessed, I had so many hugs from friends this morning. Our house, Archie’s school and where I used to work are within 50m of each other, meeting L and A for coffee meant a steady stream of colleagues coming for their morning cup of Joe fix; and a steady stream of hugs for me. I didn’t put my make-up on, there was no point, I knew I’d cry.

After a good natter with my girls, I drove to work listening to Tim Ferriss talk to Amanda Palmer. I listened to his interview with Neil Gaiman yesterday. Amanda and Neil are two of my favourite humans, they are so of themselves, by which I mean – they are Amanda Fucking Palmer and Neil Gaiman. Amanda talked about how Patreon (of which I am one) gives her the freedom to do WTF she wants to do with her art; including making the most intimate, hair-raisingly good album I’ve heard in, well, ever There Will Be No Intermission. I can’t tell you how good it is, you just need to listen and wallow in it. She is talking with Tim Ferriss and telling him how much of a relief it is to be able to do this album, and not have to go to Steve and say “I’ve made an album, it’s got songs on it about miscarriage, abortion and death. By the way, the first track is 11 minutes long” (I’m paraphrasing), but with this funding model, she can do what she wants knowing that thousands of people around the world can support her. Each month, we contribute money to enable AFP (and others on the same platform) to create their art, whatever which way, knowing that we won’t always like it, understand it, but that we want to hear what she says. And, (Brucie Bonus) as we’re cheering her on through our monthly funding, if you can’t afford to pay $$ for her album, on BandCamp, she can release the album for $1. Because the Patreon community have already paid for the recording studio, mixing etc. It’s a safety net that gives artists flexibility and autonomy like never before. Which is why the record companies are getting worried…

I digress, have you watched Good Omens yet? have you seen that a fundamentalist Christian group have petitioned Netflix to not make any more? Never mind that Amazon made it? If you’ve not watched it, please do. Apart from anything else, it looks amazing, the colour scheme of the characters, the texture of their clothes – sublime. It also has a fabulous combination of the original BBC radio adaptation actors with a stellar cast, as in Josie Lawrence and Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Derek Jacobi – the list is endless. Michael Sheen as Azriaphale might be my latest crush. Might be. He’s totally adorable as the old fuss-bucket. David Tennant as Crowley camping it up is delicious.

It’s faithful to the book, raw, and as Neil was show runner, that it’s not been tweaked to ramp up the suspense to eleventy-stupid is great. I don’t know about you, I do like a bit of tension, but stringing it out over episodes while you finish off other storylines – yawn. I loved it. I love that the book is also galloping up the charts again too.

Picture Credit

I ate lunch today

Which is an odd thing to be proud of, but I do have a tendency to not eat when I get very anxious or stressed. My throat closes up and I have to force food down me. Last night I had some soup, a real tangy miso and mushroom (new flavour from La Zuppa that I’m loving). I managed a mandarin for breakfast, have eaten my smaller than normal lunch and just had a cup of tea with a chocolate protein bar. We’ll think about dinner when we get to it tonight.

After three days at home blowing my nose like a trumpet and with aches and pains all over, I went back to work today. HR were very sweet, “Are you sure you want to be here?” ‘Yes please. I need something else to think about’. BossLady and I have already had a conversation about my going back to the UK for Erika’s funeral; the lady who was covering my role immediately before I arrived will back-fill, so I also don’t need to worry about it all falling into chaos while I’m out.

I know I’m going to feel sad, lost, angry and so on. Grief will do that to you. But s0dding hell, last night was hell. I went to the spare room in the end. If it wasn’t my legs twitching, which wakes me up, I’d be dreaming so vividly I’d wake up. Maddening.

I’ve got Jasper stuffed in my bra today. Erika gave it to me when I left the UK, ready for my long journey. It’s a thumb stone, polished so you can put your thumb in a smooth groove and fidget with it. Jasper also came into theatre with me when I had my C-Section. I don’t particularly do crystals per se, I like them as aesthetic objects, but it was one of the things I thought of would be easily portable, a comfort and reminder whenever I felt it. Normally I’d put it in a pocket, but I’m in a skirt. Yes, I have several of them.

I’ve caught up with my emails; as in, they’re sorted, categorised and I’m working through them. BossLady’s inbox is going to take more work, she’s practically full so I need to do a major archive operation and plough through them.

I’d love to go to the gym, or for a run, but swimming with Archie last night before his lesson, (read splashing about and playing) was hard work. I’m as weak as a kitten :/ I’ll start again from the weekend. I can’t do everything.

One day at a time.

Be like Christine

Yesterday, the world lost a kind, gentle soul who spent her whole life looking after others. Chris held her family together with love, and then shared her love with countless others through a lifetime of teaching, before it reached our little family to boot. Hanno’s mum was my heroine, for so many reasons, but mostly for the love she sprinkled through the world so freely.

We’d meet at Hanno’s house for races, or his plays, in between swapping texts and the odd game of Words With Friends, (that she wiped the floor with me in). Occasionally we’d call, but mostly to organise food; nevertheless, when we were together, we picked up where we left off. Fitting into the banter and laughter of familial insults of longstanding relationships. Archie has grown up with her in his life as someone who talked with him, not to him.

From the devilled egg standoffs with her daughter in law, to the roast dinners; from the chicken salads, to the breakfast rolls; from coffees to copious amounts of wine, our relationship revolved around food. Us ‘ladies what lunch’ drove to Rutherglen for some downtime away from the boys and endless football codes. We sampled wines, had lunch, went to the chocolatier, Rosie (my cousin) and I chatting in the front seat on the way home, Chris snoozing in the back.

We sat in a Laundromat drying bedding and towels in companionable silence, getting coffees on a cold, wet day, again getting out the house from the football! Walked round Farmer’s markets and brought fresh veggies, cooing over the soil still damp on the carrots, exclaiming at the crispness of the greens. I loved cooking for her, because it meant she sat down and didn’t do anything. From when she woke up to when she went to bed, unless she was sitting down to have a cuppa; she was on the go. Looking after Keith, cleaning the kitchen worktops, sorting laundry, if it needed doing and you didn’t stop her, Chris did it.

We cheered Hanno on from the back of the hall at his first play, slowly being allowed closer to the front of the hall through the years as his confidence grew. Archie telling me loudly to ‘Be quiet Mama!’ when I got the giggles.

The time we spent with Chris and Keith was filled with laughter, food, joy, food, love and more food. From my first trip over in 2007 where Chris had changed the bed in the spare room for Hubs and I, smoothing the sheets over with love. Folding the towels like a hotel, she made sure we were welcome. Never knowingly under-catered, we always had more food than we knew what to do with, Hanno’s house had elastic sides with people crashing on couches, in beds and cousins joining for breakfast after sleeping in a caravan on site just down the road.

Archie and I visited a few weeks ago, taking some flowers he had chosen for her. We only stayed long enough for Archie to eat his lunch, and a quick catch-up and a hug. He’s missing her already, trying to explain it all to an almost seven year old is hard work. While Archie knows that she’s gone, Chris will never be forgotten. Forty years of teaching, almost fifty years of marriage, two proud sons, four indomitable grandchildren, family, friends. All of us who knew Chris are better people because of her.

Be like Christine, pay your love forward. Greet the world with open arms and an open heart.

 

 

The Air That I Breathe

(Don’t worry, there aren’t that many songs with breathing associations left!)

Today I took myself back to the hospital, again on the train, again brought a coffee and a book and settled in for a long wait. Longer than it should have been as I misread the letter, and arrived for a 10am appointment that was actually booked in for 11am. Never mind, I nearly finished Cloud Atlas; as an aside, I’d like to get hold of the film to see how they managed to film it.

I spent over an hour with the consultant, she was amazing. Another incredible lady like the cardiologist, she knew her stuff. Short answer, we still don’t know what’s going on. I maybe on the cusp of something, which as it (whatever it is) is early, doesn’t show on tests yet. Or it may still be pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure inside my heart, but only triggered on exertion. Or it may be an auto-immune issue. Lupus has been mentioned a few times too.

I had more blood tests done, I’m booked back in for an exercise test and a repeat of some of the respiratory tests to see if there is any change. And I may have to have another visit to theatre to get my heart looked at again, as although I told her I’d had a right heart check, there are no notes on it in the system. Whoops.

But, some of my symptoms are easing. I can now walk a bit quicker, than I have been. Walking and talking don’t get me so out of puff too. I also did the vacuuming yesterday and I wasn’t blowing out my arse (technical term) at the end of it. However the fatigue is not letting up. I’m constantly tired, constantly pushing through just to get to the end of the day. If I sit down and I’m not doing something, I will nod off. I’m also cold, yes it is winter, and hoofing it down with rain as I type (I realised the cat was still outside. Whizzed down to let him in – to say he was not amused would be an understatement!), but I go to bed with PJs, socks, under a duvet and a blanket and most nights with a hot water bottle. But I also sweat a lot too, at the slightest exertion, e.g. cleaning my teeth, getting dressed, I have to sit down between tasks in the morning otherwise I’m trying to put make-up on ‘glowing’ skin.

Hubs said that I need to appear on House, then we’d get it figured out in an hour.

I’ve also been given the all-clear to exercise, to do what I can. Not sure what that’ll be, but I’ll head out for a walk tomorrow lunchtime. It’s a start.

 

 

Every Breath You Take

Today I parked at my local station, hopped on the train with my book (Cloud Atlas) and went back to outpatients at our local hospital. Eventually, as I had to ask for directions. I had to go up to level 3, walk along the connecting corridor between two buildings, then head down to level 1. Eventually ending up below daylight, to get to the “nuclear testing” area.

Sounds more scary than it was, I promise. I was called in early, the benefits of allowing enough time to get lost, just as well too! I was talked through what would happen, confirmed I was who I said I was then had a cannula put in.

The machine today wasn’t an x-ray machine, nor a CT machine, but a mix of the two. Very technical here, sorry. I lay down was given a gas to breathe in, two and a half breaths worth, the machine then rotated round me as I lay there to take images of my lungs. After twenty minutes, I was then injected with another reagent, these images were quicker, only 8 minutes long.

I lay on my back with my arms above my head each time, trying to concentrate on my breath, the irony was not lost on me. I thought I could get at least a meditation session in while I was there.

Guess what? I’m normal. Well, my lungs are. Yay, no blood clots. Boo, no idea WTF is going on.

I headed to the café to get some lunch and bumped into the girl who was in the room next to me on the spinal ward. She recognised me, asked how I was going and we had a good chat. She looked really well, she’s trying out a new chair at the moment, so busy working on her core muscles as she has to sit more upright in it. But she said she’s also getting much better with a brace they’ve set up to help her control the chair.

Then heading back to the lifts to head home, I bumped into a girlfriend selling her handmade clothes. I’d been hanging out to see her, this was officially a great day! We had lunch, a coffee and a chat. I read some more of my book on my way home, headed into the office and got heaps of work done this afternoon.

Finally, one last piece of good news – the insurance claim has been processed too. Huzzah!