Tuesday, 31 December 2019

The end of a crap year

2019 has been pretty bloody awful, culminating with Mum dying on Christmas Eve 10 minutes before we got to the hospital.  She'd been ill the entire year, with multiple hospital admissions, gradually - and then rapidly - getting worse and worse throughout the year.  Several times she took a turn for the worse and we all thought it was the end, only for her to pick up again.  It's been a real rollercoaster.  It's a blessed relief that she's now out of pain, her last few weeks were truly horrible, for her and for us.  

My beloved aunt Sylvia, Mum's younger sister with whom I spent a lot of time when I was in my teens and 20s, died in July after a short illness, we did see her in hospital 2 hours before she died.  I still miss her dreadfully.

Husband's health has been, and continues to be, a worry this year.  He's got an appointment for admission to the day surgery ward in mid January, so they can accurately measure his prostate - they need to know the exact size before they can operate.  If it's too big, he'll have to go to a hospital quite far away for the operation, they won't do it at our local one - another worry.  The cold weather and long drive up to the Midlands to see my Mum has affected him quite a lot with his heart failure, he's been exceptionally tired, more so than usual.

My health hasn't been good this year either, having been diagnosed with arthritis and bursitis in my hips, the start of a diabetic foot problem and my liver disease having progressed to Stage 2, and a lot of gut trouble caused mainly by anxiety and stress.

But there have been some good nephew's wedding in August was truly lovely, despite it peeing down with rain the whole day, meaning we had to be inside in a conservatory (it was held in an old abbey, now a wedding venue) rather than outside in the gorgeous grounds.

I started a new hobby, card making, which I love and was pleasantly surprised to find I'm actually quite artistic, something I never knew!

My 60th birthday was lovely, we went away to Devon for the week and the day of my birthday was made really special by our wonderful friends.

We now have the funeral to get over with on the 11 January, there are some associated family problems which I'm not going into on here but which will be a big worry for some time to come.

But we're really hoping that 2020 will be an improvement on this year - I won't say it can't be any worse, as I don't want to tempt fate.

Thank you all so very much for all the support you've given me, it's made the bad times a lot more bearable and comforted me a lot.  I hope next year is a good one for all of you.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Getting prepared for new healthy eating regime

I am determined to crack on with losing weight and getting fitter in 2020, my weight is affecting so many aspects of my health now and I've felt increasingly unwell for the past few months.  Admittedly, not all of it is weight-related, some of the gut problems certainly are to do with stress and anxiety, as are my sleep problems.  That won't be improved until Mum's funeral and associated other problems are dealt with, and husband's prostate op is over and done.  But losing weight should help with my arthritic hip and back pain, joint pains, general sluggishness, my early diabetic foot problems, and the internal stuff like my worsening fatty liver disease which has progressed to Stage 2, gallstones, high BP and moderately high cholesterol.  I don't want any of that to get worse, I want it all to get better or at least be stopped in its tracks.  And I don't want to have to be on various medications for the rest of my life.  For all that to happen, I HAVE to lose weight.

Realistically, the new diet proper won't start until Friday 3 January, but I am making preparations and plans between now and then, and am starting to eat more healthily.  Our day to day eating regime for the past few weeks has involved not much healthy home cooking, and rather too much reliance on quick carby things, snack foods and takeaway stuff - something we very rarely normally do.  I'm sick to death of peanuts, crisps, chocolate, cake and pastries now, so that's good!

We still had most of my Christmas cake left....I'm not really a great lover of it (I make it for husband, who loves rich fruit cake) but had eaten a couple of small slices.  Yesterday I portioned it up and gave some to neighbours and put a little bit in the freezer, for husband to have on his birthday (8th January) - I froze it so he won't be tempted to eat it before then.  

We had the bacon, brie and cranberry puff pastry pie I'd made and frozen before Christmas for dinner yesterday, as we were having the double crust pastry pie for dinner, I didn't do any carby root veg with it, just lots of green veggies.  Now there's just the last few mince pies left, which will no doubt get eaten today.

Will try to ease into the low carb, moderate fat and protein, lots of chicken, fish and green veg and fruit thing this week, prior to starting proper with that in a time restricted window on Friday.  We're out on NY eve to neighbours so won't have much control over what we're given to eat and drink (I do supposedly have control over how much of it I choose to eat though!), so I expect some naughty things will be consumed then.

We must try and get out for a beach walk today, Betty needs it and so do I, the lack of activity for the past couple of weeks due to back pain, has just exacerbated it even further, I'm in total agony now.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Highs and lows in town

Yesterday morning we nipped to town to get a couple of things I wanted - the health shop (H&B) are having one of their Penny sales (buy one thing full price, get another for a penny) and this weekend they have an extra 15% off any spend over £35.  So I got another 2 bottles of CBD oil, the larger 30ml size (I'd previously got the 10ml size), for just £34 for the two.  At full price without any of the offers, those 2 bottles would have cost me £80, so a very good saving.  And they'll last me for ages.

Whilst there, I noticed one of the card shops was selling 2020 calendars at half price, one of them had large size months and dates and plenty of space to write things on.  I'll get one of those for Mum, I thought, it'll be just right for her (she's nearly blind in one eye and has poor sight in the other).  I'd actually picked it up and was on my way to the till when I remembered.....I had to rush out of the shop in tears.  No doubt there'll be plenty more occasions like that, until it finally does sink in that she's no longer with us.

I decided to make the healthy brown rice salad that Cherie mentioned (from A hopeful nature blog) for lunch yesterday.  I didn't follow Meg's recipe exactly, but used what I had - brown basmati rice, cooked diced chicken from out of the freezer, some crumbled feta cheese, chopped tomatoes, cucumber and a couple of gherkins, a few remaining olives and some pomegranate seeds, plus a handful of chopped walnuts.  For the dressing, I mixed up some olive oil, honey, lemon juice and homemade cranberry sauce with salt & pepper, shaking it all in a jar.  It was lovely.  Sorry, I forgot to take a photo.  There's enough left for lunch today, I'll take a pic if I remember.

For tea last night we had the sausage rolls and pigs in blankets I'd made for Christmas and froze and never ate, with homemade coleslaw and a few slices of cheese.  

Dinner today will be the bacon, brie and cranberry puff pastry pie I'd also made and froze before Christmas, we'll have it with veg and probably a cheese sauce.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Emotions all over the place

Yesterday started off with sister and I having a laugh over some funny memories of Mum, but later on we were both in tears.  I know it will be like this for some time to come, definitely an emotional rollercoaster.

Sis went to the hospital yesterday to collect the death certificate, then to the funeral directors and the bank....all very emotional.  She'd been sorting out some of Mum's paperwork in the morning and had found a lot of my old school reports - oddly enough, only mine, there were none of my siblings' reports, we don't know why...unless they're somewhere else that sis has yet to find.  I found it very touching that Mum had kept my reports, I never knew that.

My elder brother, who's been a keen photographer all his life, has been sorting out photos he's taken of Mum over the years and sending them to us (thank goodness for phones and social media).  More emotion - most of the photos bring back happy memories, some of them I'd never seen before and were a bit of a surprise, a few not entirely welcome.

We're collaborating and collating memories for Mum's eulogy - as the eldest sibling I recall more about some aspects of Mum's early life, and knew a few things that the others didn't....that's all very emotional too.

It's all quite mentally exhausting at the minute.  Some of the time I'm fine and getting on with the day, then suddenly, completely out of the blue, I'm overwhelmed with a bout of sobbing.  Had a text from someone yesterday, it was well-meaning but breathtakingly insensitive - unintentional I know, but it had me in floods of tears.  In situations like this (a death), sometimes people just don't know what to say for the best, do they, and end up putting their foot in it.

The limbo period between the death and the funeral is the worst, I think.  I hate it.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Getting Christmas over with

…..not that Christmas really happened here.  Thank you again for your lovely comments, I've had so many comments, messages, emails and texts, it gives me such a warm feeling.

I cooked a roast dinner yesterday (and ate it), it's the first time I've cooked a proper meal in a week or more, we've been pretty much surviving on crisps, peanuts and cake (my Christmas cake I made about a month ago, no marzipan or icing though, and a lovely carrot cake a kind neighbour made for us).  Oh, and the lovely buffet our friends provided Christmas evening....friend M practically stood over me with a whip to make sure I ate it (ok, slight exaggeration M but you did 'encourage' me to eat, so thank you 😘).  We've got lots of homemade sausage rolls, mince pies, pigs in blankets and a homemade bacon, Brie and cranberry puff pastry pie in the freezer, none of which we felt like eating, so that's what we're going to eat over today and the weekend - just to tidy them up and get them out of the way, so there's only healthy food left 😉😁.  There's a method in my madness.....eating that lot will probably mean that by Monday I'll be feeling bloated, sick and desperate to eat clean, light, healthy food, so the healthy diet commences next week.

On the subject of which.....Cherie this morning mentioned on her blog a salad another blogger, Meg (not come across her blog before, but will bookmark it now) put on hers.  I've had a look and it's lovely, exactly the sort of thing I like, so will be making that next week.  If any bloggers want to band together so we can all encourage each other with healthy eating, please shout!

Sister and I were reminiscing via WhatsApp early this morning, funny stories about Mum, we were both in stitches, did us both good.

Going to venture out to the shops in a bit, will be good to get out of the house for a while.

Thursday, 26 December 2019


I love this picture of Mum, I have it as my laptop screensaver.  It was taken by my sister back in May, in Mum's garden, Mum was on the phone to me at the time.  Unfortunately, she didn't look anything like that on Christmas Eve when she died, she'd lost so much weight and looked utterly dreadful, seeing her like that will haunt me for the rest of my life.  

But I'm not going to dwell on it, I shall look at the above pic whenever the image of her final day threatens to overwhelm me.

Mum passed away 10 minutes before we got to the's fine though, I really didn't want to watch her die, and we're all just relieved she's no longer suffering.  The nurses said she was peaceful and comfortable at the end....well, they would say that wouldn't they, but I choose to take them at face value.  Mum's last few weeks weren't nice at all, her passing is a blessed relief for her and for all of us.  She didn't get her last wish to go home, somehow I knew she wouldn't, she was far too ill to be moved.  It's probably for the best.  The one thing that gives me some comfort is that when I gave her a final hug and kiss, she was still warm, having died only minutes before.....I would have been filled with horror had she been cold.  I am sorry if this upsets anyone, but death is horrible and that's the reality.

A positive is that she had lots of visitors in her last few weeks, many friends from her congregation went to see her in hospital, much to Mum's delight, she didn't realise how loved she was.  I'm glad about that.  I'm also very happy that she was able to speak to me on the phone a couple of weeks ago and told me how much she loved the cards I made for her.

I know this is going to sound crazy, but I just knew she was going to die at Christmas, I just 'felt' it, I even said it to my husband.  Christmas is not a happy time for our beloved Nanna, my Mum's mum, died on Boxing Day years ago.

We have lots of happy memories of Mum, she was very funny, often unintentionally so.  She also said whatever was on her mind, she never left anyone in any doubt as to what she thought, which could be a bit embarrassing at times!  Mum didn't have an easy life, being left to bring up 4 children on her own (I was the eldest at 13, my youngest sibling was just a baby when our father buggered off) and with next to no money.  We never went hungry, she was expert at making a meal out of nothing, we were clothed, fed and warm - even if there was ice on the inside of our windows in winter, we had plenty of blankets, hot water bottles, paraffin heaters and handknitted jumpers, gloves, scarves and hats/balaclavas (much to the disgust of my brothers who had to wear the balaclavas).  We had days out to the zoo, museums and parks, we even went on caravan holidays a few times.  Mum wasn't a demonstrative or cuddly mother, she was more likely to say 'oh for goodness sake, what have you done now?!' when one of us fell over and cut our knee, but we knew we were loved.  And she did become very affectionate in her old age, obviously making up for lost time.

We took our decorations down a week ago, knowing that Mum was near the end I just couldn't bear to have them up.  Regardless of our Christmas being a sad one, I hope all of you have had a lovely time.  We did go to our friends' late yesterday afternoon, they were extremely kind and supportive and we're lucky to have them.

Even though we've been expecting this for months, it's only just beginning to sink in that Mum's gone and I'm very tearful this morning.  

Thank you so very much for all the comments and emails, they help enormously.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Thursday, 19 December 2019

bye for now

Mum has now gone downhill again and doctors say it's end of life.  Arrangements are being made to get her home, as during her last lucid moment she said she wants to die at home.

Thank you for comments, I won't be posting again until the new year, probably.

Another crisis

My mother went downhill rapidly over the past couple of days and by early afternoon yesterday the doctors called my sister and brother into an office to get their wishes, as mum was semi conscious and struggling to breathe on oxygen (just like her sister, my beloved Aunt Sylvia, was a few months ago, just before she died).  They agreed on no resuscitation and no aggressive intervention, keeping her comfortable only.  

However, as has been the case for some months now, Mum has pulled through and improved a bit, brother and sister have been told the immediate crisis seems to have passed and Mum is now classed as 'Amber', which apparently means a prognosis of up to 6 months.  Her condition changes on a daily basis, though.

It really is a rollercoaster and my nerves are in shreds.  Christmas this year has no interest for me whatsoever anymore.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Winding down

All the standing up in the kitchen, and then sitting down in my craft room yesterday for an hour or 2, is killing my back and hip.  I'm going to have to give in and get some codeine, the diazepam (which admittedly I'm not taking every day) and paracetamol alone just aren't touching the pain and it's getting harder to ignore, even when I'm busy.  Will just have to take the horrible gel drink stuff to combat the constipation.

Got a bit more baking to do today for the freezer and then that's it, I'm not doing any more.  I do plan on buying a lot of fresh veg on Friday and prepping/blanching it to freeze, but the prepping at least can be done sitting down at the table, and I'll get husband to help with the blanching.  He's making bread rolls today, he does most of our breadmaking now, which is a big help.

Thank you for all your comments, and my apologies for not reading and commenting on all of your blogs.  The past few days, by the time I've sat down in the armchair in the evenings, I just fall asleep - not sleeping well at all at night much right now, because of the pain.  I will get round to doing a self referral for physio soon - I hope - but really want to get husband's prostate op out of the way first, that's a priority.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Freezer done

Had a good day yesterday and got loads done.  I reorganised the big freezer in the utility room and the fridge freezer in the kitchen, they weren't as bad as I thought actually so it didn't take too long.  I then did a new freezer inventory.  After sitting down for a while to both rest my back and hip and wrap my hands round a hot mug of coffee to thaw them out, I worked out a menu plan for the rest of this week and weekend, and also did my shopping list for Friday.

Chopped up the rest of Sunday's roast chicken and froze it, along with the leftover veg - I'd deliberately prepped and roasted a large tray of root veggies on Sunday, so I could freeze half for another day.  I then made the ginger biscotti, this is the recipe I used if anyone wants it:-

I can recommend it, they're lovely.  I didn't bother with the icing on the top, husband's not a fan of icing.  The recipe makes loads, I've frozen half of them, I'm sure you could easily halve the quantities if you wanted less.  I used a bit less sugar in the recipe, as I always do, I also used black treacle instead of the stated molasses, as that's what I had.  I didn't have any allspice or ground cloves, so used mixed spice.  I doubt it's critical to use the exact stated spices actually, just a mixture of warm sweet spices would do, I'm sure.  I will make them again but will probably use a bit more ginger next time.

This morning I'm going to make 2 dozen individual Yorkshire puds and some shortcrust pastry to freeze, then will go up to my craft room and do some cardmaking this afternoon.  I also have a few presents to wrap.

Monday, 16 December 2019

A not busy/busy week

A very rare occurrence - we have a whole week with no medical appointments at all for either of us.  We have only 2 things on the calendar this week, both on Friday - going shopping for fresh veg and any other bits first thing Friday morning, as soon as the supermarket opens (it's not 24 hours here), and taking Betty to the vet for her follow up ear treatment in the afternoon.

So I'm going to spend the week reorganising the big freezer (again - it's funny how it gets so muddled so quickly....although I think husband has something to do with that!) and seeing what space is available.  I know there is some, we've had a few meals out of the freezer lately.  I also want to do some baking, things to freeze.  I shall make 2 dozen individual Yorkies, a few soups, enough pastry to be divided into a few portions, a couple of wholemeal seeded loaves and a dozen or so rolls.  I saw a recipe the other day for ginger biscotti which I know husband will love, he really likes ginger cake or biscuits, so will have a go at that as well.

My hip and back have been a real problem again the past few days, I've been taking the diazepam at night but it's not really doing anything...I wonder whether it's because I normally take it in conjunction with codeine, but have chosen not to have the codeine this time.  It makes me terribly constipated, which means I have to take yet another medication to combat that, and I just don't want to, it's all bloody meds and I really don't want that.  So I'm going to try taking a diazepam in the morning instead, perhaps every other day, and have a break from the kitchen every hour or so to sit down with my hot wheat bag on my back, to see if that helps instead.  Or maybe try using my little TENS machine, which means I have to lie face down on the bed for 20 mins.  Not such a bad thing I guess.  I'm not going to let it beat me this week, too much to get on with.

I also want to plan some healthy meals this week - with the best will in the world, Christmas and new year is not a healthy eating time and I'm just not going to worry about trying to eat healthily during that period.  I might even have a drink or two! (something which I'm not really supposed to do, because of my liver problems, but let's face it, I'm not Paul Gascoigne so a couple of drinks - and that's all it will be - isn't going to kill me.  So a week of healthy eating before the festive period should do me some good.

The past couple of weeks I've had absolutely loads of spam comments, far more than ever before, it's gone mad....not troll or nasty ones (although there's been the odd few of them), just plain spammy ones, generally advertising some website or other, I've been getting a dozen or more a day.  I wish Blogger had some facility to automatically transfer the obviously spam comments out, so we don't have to physically do it ourselves.  

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Better day and planning for a new dieting regime

Mum's rapid onset dementia is certainly getting worse quickly.  Sis had a phone call from the hospital a couple of days ago to say that Mum was being 'difficult' (the hospital's word), apparently she'd refused to take any medication or to get out of bed.  She's seen by a physiotherapist every day, who gets her up to check her mobility - well, Mum flatly refused, and wouldn't take any tablets either.  Yet when sis got up to the ward and spoke to Mum, Mum looked blank and claimed she hadn't done anything of the sort and had in fact cooperated, both with the physio and in having her meds.  She hadn't, she just had no memory of refusing.  And Mum's brother is going up to visit her today, they haven't seen each other for probably 10 years or so (so he'll have a bit of a shock when he sees how much weight she's lost and how she's deteriorated).  Sis has had to tell Mum every single day for the past week or so that he's coming to see her, she forgets literally every day.  It's very upsetting.  I hope she recognises her brother.

I had a visit from my best friend yesterday, it was lovely (if brief), cheered me up no end.  Spending time with mates is the best thing ever.

My sergeant major diabetes nurse appointment on Wednesday went very well, she was surprisingly nice, helpful and very encouraging.  She's very pleased with my diabetes control, which she says is excellent.  As for the weight thing, between us we've come up with a plan, starting 1 January.  Rose agrees that December is not really the best time to start a new eating regime!  She did suggest, however, that it would be prudent to be sensible if possible - eg do we really want (we certainly don't NEED) a 6th mince pie?!  Or so many handfuls of Quality Street that we actually feel sick?!

Rose is a huge advocate of Dr Michael Mosley's low carb Fast 800 diet, and/or Time Restricted Eating (TRE), a kind of Intermittent Fasting, she has several diabetes patients who have lost between them something like 77kgs following his plan.  Rose even tried it (the Fast 800) herself -not that she's diabetic or needed to lose a lot of weight herself, she was keen to try it before inflicting it on her patients and fancied losing half a stone or so.  She tried it for a fortnight initially and lost the half stone easily, so carried on for another fortnight and lost another half stone!  The idea is that you eat 1 large meal, or 2 medium or 3 small ones totalling 800 calories, but all to be eaten within a window of 8 or 10 hours (8 is preferable), giving a fasting period of 16 or 14 hours each day.  So say don't eat anything at all, and drink only clear fluids, until 10 am, eg, then have your last meal before 6pm and only drink clear fluids after that, until 10 am the following morning.  During the fasting period, our bodies start 'eating' our own fat reserves for soon as we eat something, this process stops and the body uses the food instead for fuel, as it's a more instant process.  So the longer the fasting period, the better it is in terms of our bodies using our own fat stores as fuel.

I'm certainly willing to give the TRE a go and to cut down on carbs.  Rose suggested I do it for 2 weeks initially, but I'm not keen on that - I think I'd be setting myself up for failure.  I have no problem starting diets, it's sticking to them I have trouble with.  So what I've suggested is that I do it 3 days a week - say Monday, Wednesday and Friday - to start with....that way I know I only have to stick to it for one day at a time.  Rose agrees that's a good idea for me, it'll be far better to do something that I know I can and will cope with.

So starting on 1 January (conveniently, a Wednesday), I'm (well, we're - husband is on board with it too) going to have a low carb, medium fat and protein breakfast at around 10 am, skip lunch and then have a normal meat or fish and veg type dinner, avoiding carbs like potatoes, rice or pasta, at about 5 or 5.30 pm.  Before 10 and after 6 we'll just drink water, fruit tea, or black coffee/tea.  The thing I will find the hardest is missing my first cappucino of the day at around 6 am, but it's not long to wait for it really.  I'm not going to be too hung up on counting calories, the mere fact of eating only 2 meals during our dieting days and cutting carbs and portion sizes, not eating a ton of cheese (some cheese is fine, half a pound is not!) and only having 1 frothy coffee a day will reduce the calories enough without bothering to count them.  Rose is going to see me once a month to weigh me and see how I'm getting on.  She's also thinking about setting up a diabetes weight loss clinic group - I said I'd definitely be interested.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll work out some meal plans for the diet days.  I'm actually really looking forward to it.

The boob squashing was ok, although I did find it bloody painful this time.  Worth a bit of pain for peace of mind, though, and it is only every 3 years.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Busy, when I just want to curl up and sleep

Thank you once again for the lovely and supportive comments, and the emails, people are so kind (especially complete strangers!).  And Joan in Devon, thank you, you're right, I don't have to explain or justify myself.

I was told something yesterday which really upset me (nothing to do with the blog), consequently I had hardly any sleep last night....that and the noisy gale going on throughout the night (and which is still raging) kept me awake, so feel like death warmed up.  And sod's law, we have a busy day, just when I don't feel like doing anything.  Got to take Betty to the vet at 9.15, her ear infection is back.  Then it's my boob squashing, luckily the hospital is on the way back from the vets.  We need to go shopping as well, whether I feel up to doing that straight after the mammogram remains to be seen, we might just take Betty home (we'd have to leave her in the car whilst we do the shopping anyway, which I'm not keen on doing) and go out again later.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Everyone's entitled to an opinion

Thank you for all (well, most) of the comments....there were a few anonymous ones that just got binned - I don't publish comments from anonymous people who haven't the courtesy to leave a name, nor do I publish downright rude ones (which are nearly always anonymous, I wonder why!!  Bloody cowards).  Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, including me, and it's my blog and if I choose not to publish some comments that's my decision.

Anyway, to give a broad blanket answer to a few of the comments....

We do indeed know how lucky we are to live in this country and have free and excellent healthcare.  Well, it's not entirely free as such, we've contributed with all the National Insurance contributions we've both made during our working lives.  Our NHS is brilliant, I've always said so - it's not without problems but they're largely caused by lack of funding and support from the Government.

Moving on to all the suggestions re getting husband to and from hospital, and for me to stay in a B&B nearby.  All I can say is, you don't know the intimate details of our situation, I may say quite a bit on here but I don't give the whole story - I may be blonde but I'm not stupid.  Certainly not stupid enough to tell the whole unknown world and their wife/husband every detail of our lives.  So you'll just have to accept that some of your suggestions, whilst I appreciate them very much, are simply not feasible for us, for various reasons which I'm not going into.  As for it being a question of priorities....yes, but everyone's priorities are different.

Well, it's election day here in the UK, and whichever way we vote may have an impact on our NHS.  The whole bunch of MPs, from whichever party, are a shambolic lot of incompetent liars, as far as I'm concerned - they all seem to forget they're supposed to be representing us, the common people who live in this country, it's more about squabbling amongst themselves and getting the upper hand.  And they say anything, literally anything at all to get us to back them - how many of their so-called promises will actually be carried through after they've been elected?  I will vote, but to be perfectly honest, it's a case of voting for the person/party I find least offensive, not because I have any actual faith in them.  And no I'm not saying who I will vote for, that's nobody's business but my own.

I had my nurse appointment yesterday, it's my boob squashing tomorrow (really looking forward to that one!) - hooray for the NHS!

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Oh for an easy life! UPDATED

Thank you for comments, it's all a lot to consider.  Another complication is that our rent here is relatively cheap, it wouldn't be nearer to a town and amenities.

Anyway, that'll all have to be put aside till sometime in the future.  Husband had his appointment yesterday with the consultant, the one where he was told to take a relative with him.  I can see why - there's a lot to think cancer, but plenty of complicated other stuff.

To cut a long story short, he needs an operation, and there are 3 options for this op.  One is fairly new and they haven't done many of them as yet, so a bit experimental.  He can choose which of the other two options he wants to go for, each have their advantages and disadvantages.  However, for various reasons, he may not be able to have the op at our local hospital - well, I say local, it takes nearly an hour to get there, despite being only 14 miles away as the crow flies...the trouble is, it's a bit of a convoluted route (another downside of living in a rural area).  He may have to go to either Reading (120 miles away) or Newport, Wales (65 miles).  How he's supposed to get to either place and then home again, I don't know....he might be entitled to hospital transport, I know nothing about that, will have to look into it I suppose.  Whichever it is, he'll need to be in for 2 or 3 nights and I won't be able to visit him.  

He needs (yet another) test first before anything else happens, so another period of waiting.

Why is everything so complicated?  And everything always seems worse when it's the early hours of the morning and you can't sleep.


I've phoned the hospital patient transport advisory number.  They won't transport husband, as he's not eligible - he's not disabled, has no medical need and is able to walk.  And as the transport is free of charge, they have a distance limit, unless there are very special circumstances.  They mentioned community schemes whereupon a volunteer driver takes people in the driver's own vehicle or a minibus - the customer has to pay, it's not cheap (£11, with a bus pass which husband hasn't got, to go to our local hospital, so I dread to think what it would cost to go 120 miles) and again they won't all go beyond a certain distance.  Their only other suggestion was to ask the consultant if there's a surgeon willing to do it in a hospital not as far away.  Which I assume the consultant would have suggested anyway!  Ah well, it might not happen, so we'll just have to cross that bridge if we come to it.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Our biggest regret

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it?  

As we age, and our health starts to suffer, we're thinking about our future more and more.  One worry is whether we'll be able to continue living here indefinitely if/when one of us dies leaving the other alone, or if (or rather, when) husband is unable to continue driving a car.  It's such a small hamlet, with no facilities, in a very rural area - yes it's lovely and we have very nice neighbours, but the downside is none of the necessary facilities are within walking distance, and we have no public transport here.  Our neighbours are mostly our age or older, so they're in the same boat as ourselves.  Will the surviving partner even be able to afford to remain here, bearing in mind we'll probably need taxis to take us around in the future, and they're not cheap?

We don't regret moving here to this house, we both love it and we've had 8 happy years here, and 18 months before that in our first Somerset house....moving down here from the Midlands has honestly been one of the best decisions we ever made.  But with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better to choose a house still in a rural location, but much nearer to a town, or at least some basic facilities such as a GP surgery and a shop or two, and a bus service.  Nobody likes moving house at the best of times, but the thought of possibly having to up sticks and move again, at some point in the future, fills me with horror.

But the thing we both regret the most, and would go back and change in a heartbeat if we could, is not buying another house when we sold our last house back in the Midlands in 2001.  At the time, property prices were booming and we got a very good price for our sold at the full asking price just 2 days after we put it on the market.  In fact, as it sold so quickly, we had no time to look around for another house to buy and took a 6 months lease on a rental property, planning on using the time to look for another house.  However, we really liked the rental house, it was in a lovely quiet residential area and we had wonderful friendly neighbours with whom we got on really well.  The letting agent said there was every possibility that the landlord (who had no intention of ever living in the property again) would agree to sell it to us, or if he didn't he'd be happy to have us as long term tenants.  Well, he decided he didn't want to sell it and we ended up staying there as tenants for 9 years.  After the first couple of years, when it became obvious we weren't going to be allowed to buy the house, we spent the banked profit from the sale of our previous house on a new car and a touring caravan, having decided we liked living there so much we wanted to stay.

And then everything changed and we moved to Somerset - fine, it had always been our dream to retire to the country, we just decided to do it before retirement, whilst we were still young enough to enjoy it, and were lucky enough to find a nice rental property quickly.  But because of that decision years ago not to immediately buy another house, we've been stuck renting ever since.  And will be for the rest of our lives.  Which means that, whilst most people our ages will have paid off their mortgages and have more money available in their old ages, we're still going to be paying out hundreds of pounds every month ad infinitum.  The big bonus of living in a rental property is that we don't have expensive maintenance costs, which are of course the landlord's responsibility.  BUT we're at the landlord's mercy - if he decides he wants the house back for whatever reason (it will likely be money), then we're out on our ears.  And that's always a worry.  We did go to the CAB and the Council, to see what our rights were regarding social housing....we're only eligible for a 1-bedroom flat, but our chances of getting one aren't high as we don't (at the moment!) have any special needs.

As I said, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Christmas is being put up today

Thank you for the comments, the diazepam tabs are helping and the muscle spasms have stopped now, thankfully - well, fingers crossed, I haven't had one this morning so far.  The thing I don't like about the diazepam is that it lingers, I still feel very fuzzy-headed the next morning (I only take it at night), my head feels like it's stuffed with cotton wool and my brain is frozen for hours.  Still, they relax my painful muscles and that's all that matters.  

Between the tablets and the CBD, I'm sleeping better, which is wonderful.  The past few nights I'd been sleeping solidly for the first 4 hours or so, but then waking around 02.00 and dozing only intermittently after that, finally getting up around 4 ish.  Consequently, although I was getting some good quality sleep in the early part of each night, I just wasn't getting enough and so was becoming more and more tired.  Last night I was dropping with exhaustion, went to bed at 9.30 pm and slept very nearly straight through until just before 5 am, only waking a couple of times and going straight back to sleep each time.  So now I feel tons better.

Speaking of the CBD, since mentioning it here I've been getting loads of spam advertising comments....sigh.  They get binned straight away, of course.  I don't know why they don't give up - ok I know they're bots, not people, but people must programme them in the first place - I mean, does any sensible person ever actually take any notice of what are clearly money-grabbing scams?  I suppose some must do, else what would be the incentive for them to carry on?

So today I'm going to put up the rest of my (few) Christmas decorations - I only decorate the hall window and the mantel shelf in the lounge.  Although I'm thinking about putting up something on the stair banister....which will give Grinch husband something else to moan about 😂.  I can't find the string of fairy lights I put inside a big glass bowl....they weren't in the bag with the rest of my decorations and I can't remember what happened to them last year, so may have to buy some more....cue more moaning from the Grinch, snigger snigger.  Just to add to his misery, I shall be playing my Christmas CDs, I absolutely love all the Christmas songs, whether they be cheesy pop, old classics or hymns, and play them throughout December, singing along with them.  Incidentally, I've noticed that as I've got older, my singing voice has got worse (not that it was good to start with!) - well so what, I like singing along and it makes me happy.

We have a busy week, husband's appointment with the consultant on Tuesday (the one he's been asked to take a family member/friend to) - he says he's not worried about it but I think he is.  Wednesday I'm having my hair cut, then in the afternoon it's my appointment with the sergeant major nurse for my annual diabetic review and for her to terrorise me into losing weight.  Well, I do need a kick up the bum, my motivation is sorely lacking at the moment.  And on Friday morning I have my boob squashing, which I hate but would never think of not going.  I need to write all my Christmas cards this week too.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Did the earth move for you?

This morning I had to give in and get an emergency GP appointment for my back, I had excruciatingly painful muscle spasms from the minute I attempted to get out of bed.  A couple of them were so agonising and sharp, I very nearly fell over - if I hadn't grabbed hold of something I would have been on the floor (and then would never have got up).  The GP prodded all over my back - whilst I was standing, he didn't ask me to get up on the couch, thank goodness - and said 'I think I can safely say it's painful pretty much everywhere below your rib cage'.  As I yelped every time he touched me, it didn't take much deducting.  He's given me the dreaded diazepam....I know they're a good muscle relaxant, I've had them before, and at least they give me a good night's sleep.  He also recommended I get on with the self referral to physio sooner rather than later.

I've had some heat on my back for short periods today (my microwavable wheat bag shaped like a hot water bottle) and it's helped a bit, enough to enable me to move around without wincing all the time and looking like I've aged about 20 years.  So I've been able to do a few things in the kitchen.....chargrilling a bagload of peppers I bought reduced to 28p, deskinning and freezing them, and sorting out the fridge and giving it a clean.  I've just prepped a cauliflower for cauli mac and cheese for dinner and had a bit of a surprise - there were quite a few insects nestled amongst the leaves, all dead thankfully, but also a big wasp!  A hibernating queen, I presume - it wasn't dead, it moved a tiny bit when I prodded it with the knife.  It's dead now though!  Bees are fine, I don't like wasps, having been stung a few times.

Had a few showers today but there's been a lot of sunshine too, quite a nice day and not too cold.  

Big news last night, but it completely passed me by!  There was an earthquake here just before 11 pm, the epicentre was only a few miles away, just the other side of Bridgwater.  For a change, I was fast asleep and never heard or felt a thing, our neighbours said they heard a thump and their doors rattled, friend a couple of miles away said he felt it too.  It was 3.2 on the Richter scale apparently.  So no, the earth didn't move for me (sorry, bit cheesy lol).

Thursday, 5 December 2019

In agony today

After having a lot less pain over the past couple of weeks, down to the CBD I presume, I'm in total agony with my right hip today, the pain kept me awake half the night and I was up early again, it was just too uncomfortable to lie there.  Husband is out and I was planning on spending the morning in the kitchen, doing some batch cooking and baking, but my hip is too painful to be standing up all the time so I won't be doing that.  Sitting down for too long just makes me stiff though, so it's a bit of a vicious circle right now.

Having made all my Christmas cards, well the fronts, the insides need stamping with sentiments so I'll do that today.  I also need to make a couple of birthday cards, and do a few more cards for my mum.  I'll see if I can find a few videos on youtube about watercolour pencil art too.  And I want to look for some low carb/low fat snack ideas.  So plenty to keep me occupied.

Christina, you're welcome, I'm glad you managed to get the salmon, Cherie it's a shame you haven't a bigger freezer.  Ann, you asked about Clarks Village and whether it's not worth going anymore.  I guess it depends what you want....I would say it's probably still worth going for a lot of people.  The Clarks shoe factory shop is still good, we've bought lots of shoes there over the years.  I don't like the big Next and M&S shops there, they remind me of TKMaxx, they're too messy and just like a big jumble sale in my view.  And as for the stuff they sell in the Next shop in particular.....I just think where on earth do they get all this weird stuff from?!  The clothes are just that, weird, too outlandish for my tastes and it all seems to be stuff that I've never seen in the normal store or their online shop.  I dare say the stuff might appeal to young people....

There are a few shops I do like there - Cotton Traders, The Body Shop, a couple of kitchenware and stationary shops, husband likes Sports Direct.  But there are also a lot of the expensive shops that I never go in - Radley (lovely bags but who can afford them?), Jack Wills, Hobbs, Joules etc, even these outlet shops seem blooming expensive to me....yes nice things but I just can't afford them.  I guess it depends what your tastes are and what you're looking for, Ann.  I'm sure there are bargains to be had.  I do like the ambience there though, it's a nice place and quite a nice shopping experience and it's good to have so many shops in a relatively small and contained area.

We're going to a Christmas craft fair in a neighbouring village on Saturday, there are a couple of particular decorations I want and haven't seen them anywhere else, other than online, so I'm hoping some clever local craftsperson might have them.  We don't do Christmas in any kind of big way, but I do like a few minimalist and tasteful decorations.  Husband is very bah humbug, but I just ignore him and let him grump if keeps him happy!

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Observations when I can't sleep

It's just after 04.00 and I've been awake for an hour.  Quite cold but am warm enough in my thick fleecy dressing gown and slippers.  Just been looking out of the window in the spare bedroom....clear sky with lots and lots of stars....a house across the field has lights on downstairs (they're farm workers so I guess they're getting ready for work) and it looks a bit foggy in the light from their windows shining on the field.  There's an owl hooting in the trees to the right of the field.

Betty lifted her head and looked at me when I came downstairs just now, but then snuggled back down into her bed.  She went to the groomers yesterday, she smells gorgeous (much better than the fox or badger poo she rolled in at the weekend!) and her fur is so lovely and soft.

Went to Clarks Village at Street yesterday (it's a designer shopping outlet, one of those places filled with lots of posh expensive shops that sell off last season's stock at lower prices....still expensive though).  And bought....a bar of chocolate from the Cadbury shop - a gift for a friend, not for us.  Nothing else took my fancy, so that's all I spent.  It wasn't nearly as busy as I thought it might be, I guess most people went on Black Friday or at the weekend.

Morrisons are doing whole salmon on their usual holiday offer of £5 a kilo, think we might go and get one - salmon is my favourite fish, I'd much rather have that than steak, husband would always choose steak though, although he does like salmon as well.

It's my beloved Aunt's birthday today, she would have been 73.  That's probably why I can't sleep.

Monday, 2 December 2019

A lovely sunny Winter morning

Thanks for comments.  Julia, I'm happy to give the CBD company name, they're called and they don't do bank transfer payments, it's credit or debit card.  Their customer service is brilliant, they're very professional and the oil comes well packed and in a very pretty box.  Viv, don't worry at all, I wasn't upset....whilst the hospital may say that Mum is not currently at end of life/palliative care stage, we know it won't be long until she is, we've all been prepared for that for a long time now.

Mum is still in the cancer ward, they apparently are moving her out of the side room and into the main ward now, as she's no longer passing blood and the diarrhoea has stopped.  I think it'll be better for her to be in the main ward with other people, sister said mum seemed quite depressed yesterday in the side room by herself.  Not that Mum's particularly sociable, she isn't really, but there'll be more activity to give her some interest.  Sis is worried that Mum's not eating much - yesterday apparently all she ate was one Weetabix in the morning and a single slice of toast in the afternoon, she says she's just not hungry and doesn't feel like eating.  She does have some kind of vitamin drink, she has it on prescription at home (it comes in little bottles), she has 2 or 3 a day and is also being given it in hospital.  I've said that as long as she continues to have those, and drinks other fluids too (which she does), then that's something and there's not much else sis can do - she can't force feed her!  I know sis is worried about it, unless she is there at mealtimes then Mum frequently doesn't eat the meals, the nurses simply don't have time to sit with all the patients and encourage them to eat.  And Mum has lost a lot of weight....about 6 stones during the past year, but she was rather overweight to start with - she's certainly not now, she's like a little bird.  Poor old thing 😢

Husband's out for the morning, I'm doing a bit of cooking then some cardmaking, I'll try and remember to take photos.

We don't go in for Christmas in any sort of big way, but I do like just a very few decorations....this is our Christmas tree:-

Very minimalist!  And out of the way of Betty, who wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to play with one that was at her height!

There was an absolutely glorious sunrise this morning:-

My photo doesn't do it justice, the clouds looked wonderful.  We have clear blue sky and lots of sunshine now, although it's certainly very cold and there was quite a hard frost this morning.