Saturday, 29 December 2012

New Year's Honours

As predicted Milton Keynes was hell on wheels yesterday.

Although we set out after lunch, normally a big mistake at this time of year, we were amazed to find a parking space with ease. The power of the blue badge I suspect as other vehicles were cruising around the car parks like sharks waiting to pounce.

Driving a trike around in such a crowded space turned out to be a lesson in avoidance. I lost count of how many people walked into me and in one case actually fell across me. Fortunately neither of us were hurt and the woman that landed on top of me was extremely apologetic. This is one of the disadvantages of having such a small mobility scooter, you are that much harder to see, however I saw a similar incident involving a conventional sized scooter so I think people are just blind.

We made a beeline to Waterstones as all I really wanted was to use my gift cards up and then dropped into John Lewis, Boots and Lush before heading home. We ended up with bags of books and not much else, which seems to be the norm for us.

This morning we were up early and heading for Luton Airport before eight, no I'm not fleeing the country though I have given it some thought from time to time. We were there to collect Svet who actually arrived fairly late having had a bumpy flight and a nail biting landing due to the high winds that had sprung up overnight. Being early and a Saturday we did the whole journey there and back in just over an hour and it wasn't long before she was settled in the spare room.

This afternoon I've got a choice of doing the ironing, yes more, or going out to replenish supplies for New Year. Personally I'm in favour of going out tomorrow as anything fresh has more chance of making it to Tuesday than if I bought it today. I also think it will be quieter but I could be wrong. I have to go out though as I can't do it on Monday as I'm working.

My cold is still hanging on. I feel quite poorly first thing but everything clears once I'm up and about and by midday, apart from the blasted cough, I'm fine. This is the fifth week and I can't believe I've still got it, what the hell is going on? I'm also tired. I've been staying up later than I normally do as we are watching a lot of films in the evening and then getting up early to prepare food or catch up on small jobs around the house. I've got to start getting back into the normal routine pretty quickly as next week I'm back to my normal work pattern and if I'm going to make it through all four days I need to be rested.

It is one week since I was put on the transplant list and I'm still jumpy when the phone goes at a unexpected time. We had two calls yesterday that made my heart leap but one was a wrong number and the other was someone call Micheal with a very strong Indian accent who kindly rang up to tell me my computer had a problem and he'd fix it for me. Obviously my Apple Mac ruse has expired but after what I had to say to them I bet they wish it hadn't.

I cannot stand these scum who think calling themselves by English names are going to fool people into thinking they are genuine. As I've been bothered by these people for at least a year now I have to wonder why they are still trying this scam. Surely everyone in Britain must know about them by now so their success rate must be going down? Unfortunately I know from experience that there are still trusting souls out there who are stupid enough to hand their bank details over to anyone who asks for them and while people still do that the scammers will continue to phone.

In the news an article by Richard Littlejohn a columnist with the British newspaper the Daily Mail has been causing a bit of a stir.

For those that don't know several children have been killed on our roads this Christmas, most notably two young brothers when the car they were travelling in overturned on the M6. These poor little mites fortunately died instantly along with another family member, two others are still in hospital.

Three days after this horrendous accident Littlejohn chose to have a rant about the length of time police closed roads after such an accident. He wondered why it was necessary to 'close the whole motorway for several hours' and surely 'one lane could have been opened to let traffic past'. Maybe this is a man of very little imagination, I don't know but certainly this is a man without any respect for the dead and their families. When a car crashes so spectacularly on a clear dry day there has to be a reason. Maybe there was something in the road. Maybe there was a fault with the car. Or maybe, just maybe someone high on drink, drugs or just incompetent clipped the car and sent it into it's fatal roll. Without a proper investigation the police will be unable to give the family the answers they so desperately need to understand this tragic event. And to do that the police need time. Everything will need to be photographed from every possible angle. The road will have to be finger tip searched for clues such as headlight glass and neither of these things can be done safely with traffic thundering past just inches from the crash scene.

Then there is the safety of other road users. Does Littlejohn really want to see other accidents being caused by people rubber necking and therefore blocking the motorway even longer?

And finally there is the dignity of the victims. As a motorist I certainly would not like to drive past an accident and see bodies still in the road or in the car. As a mother I would hate the thought of my children's bodies being on display to all and sundry. And just as a human being I think the family of these poor unfortunate children deserve to have as much time as it takes spent looking for answers. OK, people would be late for their Christmas dinners, but they will have their dinner eventually. These poor children will never attend a family dinner again and I think Richard Littlejohn should show a little compassion and stop to think next time he decides to complain about inconvenience. I'm sure if it ever happened to him he would soon change his tune.

The New Year honours list has been announced today and as expected there are a lot of sports men and women represented. Now although I think it is nice to honour the most successful British Olympic team in history do we have to do it my making them knights of the realm etc?

Lets be honest about this. The honours were originally meant for those who do good deeds and don't normally get any recognition for it. This can mean people who do charity work or people who have done something exceptional during their normal working or leisure time. So we are talking soldiers who have shown immense bravery and saved others at risk to themselves, or the man in the street who pulled a child from a burning car or the woman who set up a charity to help disadvantaged kids without any monetary help from anyone. These are the people who should be getting the honours.

Sports people work hard, there is no doubting that but it is selfish work. They 'sacrifice' their relationships, their families and their friendships in pursuit of greatness. Some will say they are doing it for their country but ultimately they are doing it for themselves. This is not to say they are doing anything wrong, it is their choice but surely their reward for all the effort is the gold medal, the cup, the trophy. Do they really need additional honours heaped upon them? Some have become extremely wealthy through their sports, what more do they want?

I also have a problem with celebrities getting honours. Often these are due to their 'charity' work but often it is not. And for those who do get it for charity work you have to question exactly how much they do other than let their name be used and turn up to the odd event if there are enough photographers present. Yes there are some who do an awful lot, take David Walliams, Eddie Izzard and the now disgraced Jimmy Savile, all were or are frequently filmed doing something totally extrodinary in the name of charity. These people get off their bums and do things, and not just for Children In Need or Comic Relief.

And I absolutely hate honours going to politicians or the financiers, if there were a less honourable lot I'd like to see them.

Ohps, sorry, I went off on a mini rant there when all I meant to say was I think honours should go to the people they were meant for, the unrecognised.

Well it's time for me to get back in the kitchen. I'm hopeful of writing a blog tomorrow but just in case I don't I wish you all a very Happy New Year and I hope that those of you who are ill get better in 2013.

Friday, 28 December 2012

My Merry Christmas

Well I have to say working on Christmas Day was actually quite nice.

There were of course very few of us in but we were not overwhelmed and a lot of the calls were just seeking advice so all in all a fairly quiet day. We were treated to bacon sandwiches and as everyone had brought food in there was enough to feed a small army.

Even though I worked my full ten hours for the first time in eighteen months the day passed quickly and I was soon on my way home where I was greeted with a lovely meal of home made meatloaf with barbecue sauce, peas, hash browns and fresh fruit. After getting well and truly stuffed we all sat down and watched the film Love Actually, one of our favourite Christmas time films, with a bottle of wine and tin of Quality Street.. Not everyone's idea of a perfect Christmas but good enough for me.

Laurence arrive late afternoon Boxing Day and I prepared a special tea of cheese board, sausage rolls, pickles, crackers and fruit which we picked at as we caught up, not having seen each other for almost a month. And then we sat down for our first film night in almost a year. We watched The Mask of Zorro, not exactly Christmassy but one of the boys favourites.

Yesterday was our big Christmas Day. We shut our doors to the world and had a belated turkey dinner with all the trimmings and for once I ate the lot and kept it down. I couldn't manage the ice cream but had a bowl later in the day. We exchanged presents and everyone was delighted as we had all managed to get exactly what everyone wanted this year. Usually there are a few naff presents but not this year. We then settled down to watch Prometheus.

In the evening Laurence went to the pub with some school mates and then went home as he has to work again today, such a shame but he will be back on New Years Eve, when he will stay a bit longer.

So today I've got the usual task of stripping the turkey of the rest of it's meat and freezing it for future use. I'm leaving some out though along with some left over stuffing as there is nothing I like more that a turkey and stuffing sandwich. Then I have clean up the spare room and change the sheets in preparation for another visitor. Svet, Andrew's Bulgarian girlfriend, is arriving tomorrow for a week's stay. So this year's New Year's Day lunch will be for five instead of four.

This afternoon we are off out to do a bit of shopping, namely Andrew is going to get an extra present for Svet, and Peter and I will mooch around the sales, not with any intention of buying anything, but just to see what is there.

Talking of sales I was appalled at the pictures of crowds in Selfridges on Boxing Day grabbing anything they could get their hands on. This was not 'need' this was pure 'greed' and the shoppers really didn't care what they ended up with as long as they got something.

Maybe it is me but I've never bought something just because it's a 'bargain'. If it is something I want or need and it is on sale then fair enough. I've never been able to understand the mentality of people who spend the night on the pavement outside a shop just so they can be first through the door. Crazy!

Christmas Strictly Watch

I have to say I wasn't exactly impressed with this year's effort.

Maybe I just wasn't in the mood, I'd made the mistake of watching Eastenders first, or maybe it was just that I'd had my fill of Strictly this year but it just didn't grab me. I also felt the wrong person won, personally I feel the footballer was the best, and you all know how I feel about footballers.

To be honest the TV this Christmas has mostly been pants.

I've enjoyed the re-runs of Morecombe and Wise on BBC2 and have loved some of the Disney films and the Carry On marathon but most of it has been, well dreary.

There is little to look forward to in 2013 either so maybe a trip to Waterson's with my book tokens might be in order. I have a feeling I'll be reading a lot more this year, until Strictly, I'm A Celeb and Appretice starts up again that is.

Well it is omelets all round for lunch as a 'light' meal has been requested after yesterday's blow out and then time to hit the shops. Wish me luck!

Monday, 24 December 2012


Well I've still got this damned cough! I'm beginning to wonder whether it will ever go away. Apart from that I'm feeling more like me now, I been out and found I managed quite well and I feel I am now ready to get back to normal, and that means work.

It is going to be strange, I always feel worried about going back after a long time off and feel even worse as it was the run up to Christmas. I know my colleagues will understand, they know I can't help it but it doesn't stop me feeling guilty, especially as the doctor refused to shorten the sick note. On the other hand I did say I was going to take more care of myself now I'm on the list so if the doctor thinks I need the time I'd just better go along with it and do as I'm told.

And so the question about leaving work has risen it's head again. My family and my medical team feel I spend far to much time worrying about work. Ideally they would like to wrap me up in cotton wool and keep me safe until the call comes. However what if the call never comes? What if it doesn't come until a year has passed, two years, what would I do with myself? On the other hand if the call came today it would be nice to be able to go back to work fully fit and finally able to pull my weight. In two weeks the new shift pattern kicks in and I've always said I'd give that a go before making any firm decisions and I'm going to try and stick by that. Although the new pattern gives me less time off between shifts I will be working shorter days. I have no idea if this is going to make me more or less tired until I try it. Decisions, decisions, I just do not know what to do at present.

I've got my prescription refilled yesterday so I am armed to the teeth with antibiotics and steroids in case things take another downward turn. I was worried that my constant infections would mean I might miss my chance if I was ill when suitable lungs came along. Apparently this isn't the case. When they explained why to me it made perfect sense. They would be cutting the infected lungs out and as I'd immediately be put on strong antibiotics any residual infection would be treated. What a ding bat not to think of that, however they will not do it if you are on steroids as they can prevent healing, so from now on steroids will be the very, very last resort.

In the news my heart goes out to those people who are currently battling floods. I watched the news last night in horror as picture after picture showed floods and land slips. And it is still raining. I cannot remember anything like it. Yes there have been floods before, I remember seeing some horrors in recent years but nothing like this. Previous floods have come and gone fairly quickly but this year they just keep coming and coming. As we were threatened with drought conditions earlier in the year the turn around is amazing and sort of proves the old saying 'be careful what you wish for'. I hope that things start to dry out soon and that the families effected can have a good Christmas despite everything nature has thrown at them.

And on that note I want to wish everyone who reads this blog a very Merry Christmas but above all a healthy one. Take care, eat, drink and be merry and look after yourselves and each other.

Sunday, 23 December 2012


Oh my goodness! I don't know what came over me but I went to Tesco this morning for some last minute bits and pieces. To be fair I had no trouble parking but once inside it was bedlam.

I had an unfortunate encounter with a Tesco employee before I even got into the store. This woman was leaning against the door frame of the entrance puffing away on a cigarette and blowing smoke over everyone trying to get into the store. As I approached she casually threw her fag end onto the floor, despite standing right next to a bin, when it landed right by my feet. She looked at me as if daring me to say something and then turned and went inside. All Christmas spirit deserted me at this point and I went straight over to customer services to complain. The woman I complained to asked for a description of the offending employee and seemed just as annoyed as I was. Will my complaint get taken seriously? Who knows but I hope it does because I'm pretty sure that is an image Tesco does not want to be known for.

Once home and with the fruit and veg safely stowed I'm in the rather unusual and pleasant position of being ahead of myself as far as preparation is concerned. So this afternoon I'm going to sit down for a couple of hours, nurse a Bailey's and chill out. I got the all clear from the doctor and although I'm still coughing there is no infection left and my oxygen sats have returned to normal so I will be working on Christmas Day.

Although no one wants to work at Christmas I am pleased that no one will have to have their Christmas ruined by being called in to cover me. A lot of my colleagues have young families and I know what a magical time it can be for kiddies. My children are grown men now and Laurence always works Christmas as, being single, he prefers New Year off so he can party with his mates. So our Christmas is being delayed by a couple of days and to be honest no one really minds.

Strictly Watch

Oh my goodness, what a show. I knew as soon as I saw Louis' show dance that he'd got it in the bag. What a lift and how brave was Flavia to allow him to even attempt it.

I was really torn this year. I really did not want Denise to win, she always had an air about he that she was expecting to be the winner from day one. However I really like James and would love him to win one year, just not this year. Vincent is another favourite of mine and yes I would have like to see him lift the glitter ball but unfortunately the show dance was awful, he would have been much better off basing it on what he is really good at and that is Tango. Kimberley has grown on me throughout the series and I really would not have minded her winning, however my favourite from day one has been Louis. Unfortunately Louis is a bit unpredictable and can let the side down when everyone expects to see spectacular, take his jive, such a disappointment. Last night though he was perfect and I bounced up and down on the settee when he won.

There were mutterings about Brucie from some of my friends, saying he was too bossy, got in the way and was generally annoying. Yes he is all those things but he is not half as bad as Tess, who this year decided to turn up dressed as a oven ready chicken. The problem is that Bruce for all his faults is the perfect host for Strictly and despite his age can still ad lib in a crisis and keep things flowing nicely when chaos is reigning all around him.

I can't imagine Strictly without Bruce but we all know that the time will come, whether by his own decision or by natures, but when it does I think Strictly will be poorer without him.

Well time to cook up a storm for lunch, creamy tomato pasta bake today, then a nice little time out before it all starts again.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Vanilla Ice

I'm going to start this blog with a plea for myself and all the other seriously ill people who could be looking at their last Christmas if they do not get a transplant.

Do something amazing this Christmas and give the gift of life. Please join the organ donor list and make sure your relatives know your wishes. Stats show that over 90% of people want to donate but less than 50% do. Out of those only 30% of organs are used because the donor's relatives refused to let donation take place because they did not know if this is what the donor really wanted. Save them the pain and confusion of making a decision at a difficult time and discuss what you want to do now.

To join please use this link

At last I am feeling better, I still have a productive cough but it is less each day and I can now hear again. My sense of taste and smell is still intermittent but at least they do seem to be returning. Best of all my appetite has improved again and I'm more or less eating normally so should start to put some weight back on.

Yesterday I had my most active day yet. I cleaned the oven, I nearly gassed myself in the process, and made some absolutely scrummy ice cream. The ice cream was actually the easiest and tastiest recipe I've come across in a long time. If you want to have a go here it is.

300ml full cream milk
300ml double cream
1 vanilla pod or 1 - 2 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 large egg yolks
125gm castor sugar.

Put the milk and the vanilla into a saucepan and bring to the boil, remove from heat and leave for vanilla to infuse. Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy. Remove vanilla pod from milk (if using) split and remove seeds, add seeds to milk. Pour the milk into the sugar and egg mixture and stir well. Return mixture to saucepan and heat slowly stirring constantly until mixture thickens to consistency of double cream. DO NOT LET MIXTURE BOIL. When mixture coats back of spoon remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add double cream and stir well, set aside until completely cool then put into fridge for 1 - 2 hours.

If you have an ice cream machine pour in and mix until stiff then put into a sealed box and freeze for at least 12 hours. if you don't have a machine place in a covered container and freeze for one hour, remove stir well and repeat until mixture is stiff. Then freeze for 12 hours. This makes enough for four people on it's own or six if served with fruit or cake.

If you want to make a ripple mix in some flavoured sauce during the last mixing or for other varieties add choc chips, crushed nuts or soft fruit.

I'm going to have mine as it is with a drizzle of Baileys over it.

Andrew got the Christmas tree and decorations down form the loft and I finally felt that little bit festive.

Today I'm catching up on all the jobs that are routine and mundane and won't get done for at least another week and that means finally tackling the Eiger of ironing. Thankfully there are a few good films on this afternoon so I won't be bored. Andrew is going to do the decorating, as I can't leap around on ladders etc and by the time Peter arrives home the house should look lovely and he'll have some shirts to wear.

Junior Apprentice Watch

I've just about caught up on this and am so, so please the dreadful Maria didn't win.

The task this week was to come up with a whole new brand of sports wear. While Maria insisted she and Patrick focused on one sport Ashleigh and Lucy went 'street'. Right from the start it became clear that Maria was a team of one while Ashleigh and Lucy worked really well together and inevitably won the task. Maria was unrepentant and still seems oblivious to how she bullies everyone. Patrick was more laid back and just shrugged defeat off. Out of the two victors I had no doubt Ashleigh would be the winner. She was mature beyond her years and knew about money, a subject close to Lord Sugar's heart. A very good result.

In the news I've been following the plight of seven year old Neon Roberts very closely. This little boy had a brain tumour which was removed but further treatment was needed. This treatment was radiotherapy and was deemed necessary to stop the cancer returning and spreading to other areas. A straightforward case with straightforward treatment proven to work so why is he in the news.

Well this is because his hippy dingbat of a mother kidnapped him to stop him having the radiotherapy. Her argument was that the possible side effects of the treatment were too severe and she didn't want him to run the risk. Of course she totally ignored the inevitability of a regrowth of the tumour which would lead to death if untreated. Now we all know that treatments have side effects, some very unpleasant, but what mother wouldn't want to give her child every chance in the world? OK he may lose a few IQ points, he may suffer impairment of some degree but he'd be alive wouldn't he?

Now let me just say I'm not totally against alternative medicine. Used alongside conventional treatments it can have very positive effects but I would always turn to the tried and test methods before anything I'd looked up on Google. However the mother wanted to try everything BUT the tried and tested method, while the father wanted to go down the conventional route, they are separated, what a surprise. The squabble ended up in court during which time a test showed that Neon's cancer had indeed returned and he needed further surgery, guess what, dingbat refused to let him have it so in the end the court ordered the surgery which Neon underwent without any ill effects. Now the court has ordered that Neon have the radiotherapy and that he stay with his father for the duration of his treatment. Thank God for common sense.

His mother is still not happy and is now threatening to sue just about everyone involved. She is of course entitled to her opinions but I have to wonder if she even stopped to think about the effect all this is having on the child she professes to be trying to protect. Neon is old enough to understand what is going on, he is also in the awkward position of trying to please both mum and dad, a hard enough task for any child let alone one that is ill. Most parents, no matter how strained the relationship, will put on a united front when faced with a seriously sick child but not so this mother. She seems to be enjoying the notoriety while we have heard very little form dad except through lawyers. So is her battle really because she has the best interests of her child in mind or is it a way of making dad look uncaring. If so I think we can all agree her tactic has badly misfired.

Strictly final tonight, I cannot tell you how excited I am but first I must answer the call of the Eiger.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The End Of The World And The Beginning Of A New Adventure

Well today was supposed to be the end of the world but for me it is the beginning of a new life. Yes almost a year to the day after my initial referal I have finally made it onto the transplant list and it is as though the whole world has been lifted off my family's shoulders.

We got up at the unearthly time of 0630 as we had to be at Papworth by nine to meet Mr Dunning the surgeon in charge of saying 'yea' or 'nay' and we really didn't want to be late. Although it is only a forty minute drive from my house to the hospital the journey was taking place during a dark, wet, rush hour and involved travelling the A6 and the A1, both notorious for rush hour accidents.

The journey was unremarkable though we hardly spoke. I'd had a sleepless night and so with the remnants of my infection still clinging on I wasn't at my best. Try as I might I just couldn't be positive and by the time we arrived I'd convinced myself it was going to be bad news and talked myself into the old 'well I'm no worse off' way of thinking. The hospital was in chaos when we arrived as the diagnostic center had flooded so we had to paddle to the transplant clinic which was packed with patients from the other department. Luckily the transplant clinic was operating normally though the lung functions, x rays and ECG's were being conducted elsewhere in the hospital as the rooms used for them were out of action. I gave my name at the desk, was offered a mince pie and sat down to wait.

I was surprised to find a really pleasant man waiting for me. I always envisaged surgeons as being rather haughty and aloof and, well, self important but this man was anything but, he greeted us like old friends and then got quickly down to business. He'd 'researched' me and his findings had been a 'bit of an eye opener'. This worried me, what had they found and did it mean no transplant. Unbeknown to me he had painstakingly searched for details of my previous surgery and unlike loads of others found them. The operation way back in 1965 was complicated and has left considerable scaring. My heart sank, this must mean that whatever they did would most certainly make transplant impossible so I was astonished when he went on to say that he'd be delighted to perform the transplant for me. I was so surprised I squealed.

Back down to earth and the facts were laid out. Transplanting just lungs is going to be difficult, not impossible but difficult.  The previous surgery has caused scaring and lesions in just the wrong places, not much but enough to cause heavy bleeding if not dealt with properly. My aorta and pulmonary artery have also thinned so again this could cause heavy bleeding, etc, etc, to cut a long story short I'm going to be 'challenging'. The final decision is this, I am to be listed for both heart/lung and bilateral lung transplant. He would much prefer the heart/lung option but if a good pair of lungs come my way he isn't going to turn them down. I'm not going to have a 'clam shell' incision, he is going in through the sternum whichever op I have because while he is in there he is going to strengthen my  bits and pieces.

My chances are very good. My underlying fitness, all that swimming, weightlifting and pounding the pavements have come into their own, is as good as anyone could hope for so I should recover quickly. That along with my 'very' positive attitude makes me an ideal candidate apparently, and with that I was presented with the consent forms. We were then shuffled out into the waiting room to wait to see the transplant co-ordinator and get the 'do and don't' talk and sign yet more paperwork. In one hour I'd gone from feeling 'what's the point' to wanting to jump up and down screaming.

The rest of the morning was a blur but I got the main points...

Keep yourself as fit as possible.
Keep your weight steady, try and put some on if you can but certainly do not lose more.
Ring once a month to let us know of any changes.
Ring us if you are poorly
Ring us if you are going away
Ring us when you get back
When the call comes DO NOT DRIVE YOURSELF, we will send a car for you.
Keep a small bag of essentials by the front door that you can grab as you leave.
Make sure you can be contacted at all times.

When we finally got out of the hospital I jumped up and down shrieking like a toddler on Christmas morning. I just could not believe my luck. Good things just don't happen to me, certainly they haven't this year so I felt that I deserved to be excited.

We stopped off at a pub on the way home and I tucked into baked Camembert, one of my favourites, steak, chips and parsnip puree, all washed down with fruit juice. I couldn't manage a sweet but as soon as we got home I poured myself a small glass of Baileys as a very special treat. Then it was let everyone know time. I have to say the reaction from my family, friends and colleagues has been awesome. All have been so happy for me, some commenting that they thought I deserved it, which was nice.

And so now the real waiting begins. In one of my early posts this year I stated that I felt that 2012 was going to be my year. Well I was wrong in that statement. It has been, for the most part, absolute hell. I've lost a lot of friends this year, good people who stood by me in the early years and never turned their back on me no matter how hard I tried to push them away. I have gained new friends and have come perilously close to loosing one a couple of weeks ago. Sita is fighting but is still very poorly and my hope is that she is well enough to see her children at Christmas. Emotionally I've been on top of the world and down in the depths of despair and every emotion in between. There have been times when I thought I couldn't do it anymore, when I've been so close to cracking it would have been easier just to step over the line than fight back. Physically I've continued my downward path, admittedly more slowly than in previous years, but still this illness marches on, slowly sucking the life out of me and there is nothing worse than watching yourself deteriorate. Even professionally the path has been full of potholes and I've hit every single one, some more than once and as a result there will be things I can never fully repair.

However despite everything that has been thrown at me, the infections, cancer scares, rejections, false hopes and disappointments I'm still here and so in that respect and that respect alone I suppose it has been my year. Now I have a future to look forward to, something to aim for and although I know it could be a long wait and there will be a few disasters along the way may be, at last and for once, things might just be turning my way.

And now back on planet earth I have an oven that needs cleaning and ice cream to make.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

At Arms Length

Well I can't say it hasn't been an interesting twenty four hours.

I set off yesterday after lunch to go and have my blood checked and an x ray. I really didn't want to go, I didn't feel well enough and I was paranoid that, in my weakened state, I'd catch something else. However huddled into the furthest corner of the waiting room I found a unique and extremely effective way of getting people to keep their distance. Every time I started to cough I cleared a good few meters around me in all directions. As soon as people began to creep back I'd start again and 'bingo' clear seats all around. I must have used a gallon of alcohol gel and kept my mouth and nose covered so I'm fairly confident that I've escaped unscathed.

Back out in the fresh air I realised I actually felt better than I had in days and the crisp cold air worked wonders on my nose leaving me clear if not fully functional. I still barely have any sense of smell though my taste and hearing have improved a lot. The plan was for Peter to return me home and then go and pick Andrew up from university but I felt so well I decided to tag along for the ride. Peter wasn't keen but once he'd extracted all sorts of promises to 'stay in the car' and let him and Andrew do all the fetching and carrying he agreed and I had a lovely trip out along the motorway. It was exactly a fortnight since I'd left the house and I think I'd got a sort of 'I'm not well' mind set going on because instead of feeling worse, which I was convinced I would, I felt better for the change of air and scenery.

I did as I was told and stayed glued to my seat while suitcases and bin bags were loaded into the boot and then we were off home loaded down with, what looked like, a whole terms washing. Andrew made it back before we did and had already raided the fridge by the time we'd pulled up in the drive. He sorted out his washing and I put the first of several loads on to wash before making some tea and sandwiches.

After an evening of listening to Andrew's experiences during his placement, including his norovirus patient, I went to bed happy in the knowledge that he'd survived his first term and was now safe and well back under my roof.

It was four o'clock when he started. Every mother in the world is familiar with the sudden thump as they hit the floor and the thunder of feet along the corridor that ends with the bathroom door being flung open and the inevitable sound of vomiting. This was my wake up call and it went on, and on , and on, and on, until by eight he was fast asleep and I was lying awake rigid with fear that I'd just brought norovirus into the house. While he slept I washed the entire bathroom down in neat bleach and then showered so that anything I might have brushed against whilst cleaning was washed away. My clothing and towels went into the wash and the downstairs bathroom and kitchen also got the deep clean treatment.

When he woke up he announced he felt a lot better but Peter wasn't convinced and decided it would be best if I spent as little time in contact as possible so I was ordered to dress and we went out. Luckily I feel better again today, I still have my cough but I can now breathe through my nose and occasionally get the odd whiff of perfume or strong food smell such as coffee or garlic.

We went to the shopping center, where I was abandoned for the best part of an hour while Peter went off to do something secret. So I whizzed around on my trike and bought myself a little smelly treat, I don't know why, I can't smell the stuff, but I'm assured by the girl in the shop it is just lovely. I then bought myself a coffee and parked up to drink it and do some people watching. I have to say I was surprised at how few people there were. Some of the shops were actually empty so my people watching wasn't as successful as it could be. Though I did notice at least three people in onesees and ugg boots and all were old enough to know better.

We then hit Tesco, which was also far from busy, and, much to my delight got all my Christmas shopping done. All I have to get nearer the day is the turkey, some fresh fruit and veg and cream. Our Christmas is going to be two days behind everyone else as Laurence and I are working Christmas day itself so there is no rush. So I supposed with every cloud etc...

When we got home we found Andrew dressed and halfway through a piece of toast. On seeing this I immediately ruled out norovirus and after a little chat have now put the cause down to the 'bits and pieces' he ate yesterday rather than throwing things away. This included a dodgy week old yogurt and some olives he's had lurking in the fridge since the beginning of term. I'm not relaxing my strict hygiene regime yet but I don't think we've got anything more serious than food poisoning going on.

Tomorrow I'm off to Papworth, hopefully to get the final go ahead for transplant and to sign the consent forms. All the tests and biopsies have come back clear and provided they have everything in writing the only possible fly in the ointment can be the surgeon, whom I'm meeting tomorrow. I had a letter from Papworth saying that so far they have 'found no contra-indications to transplant but she will be high risk due to her previous surgery and enlarged Pulmonary artery. However if the surgeon thinks it is feasible then we will list her for transplantation at the earliest opportunity.' So although they initially said 'yes' now we are back to 'maybe' because of my previous surgical history. I'm sure they've transplanted more difficult cases than me, they must have. I just hope they think I'm worth the risk.

Well time to check in on my boy and offer more liquid, then a nice cuppa and a sit down before I start fretting about tomorrow again.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Slow Progress

Well I've finally done the Christmas cards and they are in Peter's hands making their way to the post box as I write. The Eiger is still with me but you can't have everything.

Remarkably we also managed to do the pantry audit, well Peter did, I sat and watched offering the odd word of wisdom and making final decisions on what to keep and what to throw. I was surprised to find we didn't need to throw that much but the cupboards almost look bare after the tidy up. The cats and birds have both gained from the process. The cats getting two out of date cod fillets cooked up for their supper tonight and the birds a split bag of bread both found at the bottom of the freezer.

I've also managed to eat a proper meal for the first time in a week. I cooked up some chicken kievs and found I could just about taste the garlic. The hash browns and peas were tasteless but went down well and I feel stronger today so obviously food is what I need now. I also got a whiff of my shower gel this morning so things are definitely looking up. Some friends have recommended a salt nasal spray that may help which I intend trying as soon as it can be found and bought.

My underlying PH seems to be recovering well and my sats are now back up to 89%, which is more or less normal for me, but my chest is still full of gunk. It is shifting though and I'm no longer bringing up blood so I'm taking this as a good sign. My doctor wants me to have an x-ray and I have the warfarin clinic tomorrow so I'm going to combine the two rather than go out twice. I then have to go and see him on Friday for the results and the final decision as to whether I will be well enough for my shift on Christmas day. I so hope I am, I hate the thought of someone being dragged in just because of me. However present form is not looking good.

Andrew arrives home from uni tomorrow, or rather we are supposed to be picking him up. It is still in the air as to whether I will go along for the ride or not. I'd like too as I'm so bored just sitting watching TV but I know I have to be really, really careful or I'll be straight back to square one.

Strictly Watch

Oh my goodness! Being deprived of my senses of smell, taste and hearing seem to have heightened my powers of prediction and I got it right. I think I might do the lottery numbers tonight before I lose it again.

I was mega happy to see Denise in the bottom two again though there was no way she wasn't going to go through. To be honest if I'd have been Lisa I'd have just thrown the towel in and conceded defeat right there. However this is Strictly and stranger things have happened. Denise could easily have fallen over and Lisa could have got her top line straight for the first time this series. If it had been down to sheer popularity Lisa would have walked it, such a shame.

So we now have the excitement of the final and the one dance I really, really want to see is Louis' show dance. I suspect even if he doesn't win it will be the dance of the night. Roll on Saturday.

Well time to decide on something for lunch, I've run out of garlicky things, much to Peter's relief I'm sure, so it is a choice between chilli or curry. Then this afternoon's task is decorating the Christmas tree. Peter will put it up and I will  add the pretty bits as and when I feel a burst of energy coming on. This might take a while.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

When You Just Can't Be Bothered

Well I'm not coming on in leaps and bounds but I am improving.

This morning I've started to get the odd whiff of Olbas oil and I got a sweet taste from my tea. Not the actual taste of tea but there was definitely something other than puddle water. This is very encouraging. I am still coughing and it has become a very productive cough indeed so I'm hopeful that I'm beginning to clear things out faster than they are being produced at last. I've also managed to pull a muscle during one coughing fit so it is now also extremely painful but I'm persevering. My ears are popping and humming and my hearing is much improved so another thing to be grateful for.

What I don't have is energy. Those Christmas cards didn't get done and the Eiger is still with me but I really just cannot be bothered. So instead of getting that one small job I'd set myself done I lay on the settee and watched 'Never Been Kissed', 'The Posiden Adventure' and 'Ice Age 2' back to back between getting cups of tea and dozing off. Although I have all three of these on DVD, I watched them on TV as the advert breaks were perfect for trips to the kitchen to boil the kettle. I did manage to rally myself to put something in the oven so Peter would have something warm and filling when he got in but that was all I did, all day. Pathetic isn't it.

Desperate to get on top of this Christmas thing, cards aside, I have constructed a rudimentary list of 'must do's' which is now hanging on the fridge door. First on the list today are the bloody cards, the ironic thing is I know that because I've put them on the list they are more likely to get done. So why couldn't I have just saved myself the time and trouble and just done them? Bazaar isn't it.

The second thing on the list is the annual pantry audit. Peter will be doing this while I sit at the kitchen table vetting use by dates and deciding whether I really need to replace something I've never opened. I quite enjoy this task as it can give me a lot more space and save me money. Last year I discovered a huge bag of sausage rolls hidden at the bottom of the freezer with a use by date just two days past Christmas. They were cooked and eaten on Christmas eve with a glass of wine and very nice they were too. On the down side two bags of sprouts were quickly binned when found to be a year out of date. They were not replaced, I'm the only one that eats them so if I really, really must have them I'll buy a handful of fresh.

Strictly Watch

Well it was going to happen, we all knew it would, the only surprise is that it took this long.

The start to this week's Strictly was more nail biting than usual when a news bulletin earlier in the day had said that Brucie had been taken ill and gone home. Claudia Winkleman had been put on standby.

Oh no! Not Claudia Winkleman! I have enough trouble getting through the results show with her presenting it but a whole Saturday show and a semi final at that! Surely they couldn't do that to me? So huge relief swept over me when a familiar figure tottered onto center stage. It was obvious he was not well but he knew, just like the rest of us, that such a night could not be left in the hands of the 'Daughter of Darkness'. And so the show was on.

Lisa was the standout act of the show and for all the wrong reasons finally catapulting herself into the Novelty/Comedy act we'd all been expecting to see from show one.

Fair do's she has done really well and managed most of the routines as well as anyone else but now, finally, her size is letting her down. She may be agile, she may be quick on her feet but she can't twirl, jump or scamper around the floor the way her competitors can. In Latin any lifts come in the form of Lisa lifting Robin and in ballroom Robin can barely get his arms around her making the hold look stiff and awkward. Her American Smooth, famous for it's lifts, was completely devoid of any lift whatsoever, surely a Strictly first. Her first dance, was it a Samba, had a lift, she lifted Robin but it also had a floor twirl that left her in the middle of the floor like a stranded whale. An image made worse by Robin failing to haul her upright in one quick smooth tug.

The studio was in uproar, I was choking and the judges were in stitches. However, despite the laughter and the joy her performance brought, everyone knew it was the end of the road, or at least should be. All four of the other contenders are technically better than she is but none bring quite the performance Lisa does. The question is going to be where her popularity will outweigh her dancing skills. By rights at this stage in the competition the voting should be based on dancing skills alone, however in a free vote this will not happen. My prediction is this. Louis will get through because he is the only man and everyone wants to see his show dance. Kimberley will get through because she is a good all rounder and is currently the only one with two perfect dances behind her. Lisa will get through for sheer bravado. Which leaves Denise and Danni, we all know who I'd prefer.

Well off to decide what to put in my mouth for lunch, frankly it could be anything because I won't taste it and then on with those flaming Christmas cards. Give me strength!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Suffer The Little Children

Well after a rather lovely surprise yesterday it is back to reality time.

It is a week since I last smelt or tasted anything and although I feel better this has not improved and I'm still coughing up nasty green stuff and blood. All I can say is that this is the worst infection I've had all year and I have to get it just before Christmas. Yes I know it is better than having it AT Christmas but if that happened at least everything would be done and everyone else could just get on with it without me. Now I'm in catch up mode and have decided to make a list because I can no longer rely on remembering to pick up this or that when I go out. Especially as the last time I was out was over a week ago and it doesn't look as though it is going to happen again anytime soon..

So this afternoon I'm going to write out the Christmas cards and get them ready for posting if it is the last thing I manage today. I've had several false starts at this but in order to guarantee delivery they have got to go on Monday.

I'm also looking at a pile of ironing about the size of the Eiger but looking is all I'm capable of doing right now so that is another 'not today' item that has to be slotted in somewhere else. Don't get me wrong Peter is really good at keeping the washing ticking over but he cannot iron for toffee. Everything looks worse than when he started so I've banned him from it, something he's taken very seriously ever since.

I am on my own today, Peter has had to go in and catch up on some of the work he had to leave to look after me. He has left me safe in the knowledge that for once I am not capable of getting up to mischief and so is very relaxed although I do get a text every now and then demanding to know what I'm doing. This means getting my own lunch and keeping up the supply of liquid on my own. The latter I'm managing really well but it is difficult to decide what to eat when you don't 'fancy' anything. It has to be done though and I think I'm going to try that old standby of beans on toast. If nothing else it is quick to make and if I don't eat all of it I can throw what is left without feeling guilty of the cost. I hate wasting food.

Junior Apprentice Watch

Finally got around to watching this yesterday.

Oh my word these youngsters really do not have a clue do they. A washing machine at a three day music festival? Are they crazy? I did think the cardboard loo was a good idea though and was surprised that it didn't sell better but in truth those were the cleanest festival portaloos I've ever seen. And, as with everyone else watching, I could have screamed when the most obvious best seller, the face paint, was dismissed out of hand. Unfortunately Maria ended up on the winning team again and so has annoyingly made it through to the final. I was really sad to see Steven go as I thought he was probably the best of the lot. Andrew was on his last chance so his departure was a no brainer.

So all I can do now is hope and pray that Maria doesn't actually win.

Strictly tonight and it is the semi final and a return to the 'two dance' format. I am so looking forward to this and really hope Louis makes it through to the final. I think the one firmly in the danger zone is Lisa. Despite her popularity she is falling behind the others a bit now so I think she will be the one being knocked out. However I've got it wrong before and will probably get this wrong too. Such is life.

The news late yesterday was one of the most dreadful of it's kind. Little children aged between five and eight years old shot because a young man fell out with his mother who happened to teach at the school. No one can comprehend why these young men, and it almost always is a young man, turn to violence in such a pointless and shocking way but they do.

When I first heard the news I was immediately transported back to Dunblane and the horror and disbelief that Thomas Hamilton caused for reasons that are still not fully explained or understood. However we learned from our mistake. We immediately tightened up our gun laws and banned certain types of firearms, the result is that we haven't had a repeat. Oh yes I know were still have had the odd crazy shooting the streets up but fortunately children in this country can feel safe in their schools.

In America this is a repeat offence and will continue to be so until someone has the strength and courage to tighten up the gun laws. Unfortunately unlike us America will never learn because there are people, powerful people, who believe it is their right to carry guns and shoot people with them. It was an extraordinary sight to see President Obama weeping so openly while addressing the nation and urging his government to do something about it. However even as the words were leaving his mouth he, along with everyone else, knew nothing will be done because the House of Representatives and the Senate are both filled with gun totting Republicans who are firmly against anything that could lessen their power over the poor, and that includes free health care.

America is a wonderful, spectacular country in so many ways but it will always be held back from being truly great while those in power cling to their archaic rules like a toddler refusing to let go of it's favourite toy. The 'right to bare arms' may have been relevant during the civil war, and for decades afterwards, but two hundred years later? Really? Until they get over this attitude these horrors will continue and as always it will be the most vulnerable in society that will suffer.

Well the toaster awaits, as do those blessed Christmas cards.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Smell The Coffee

Well progress is slow but I am definitely getting there. Managed a shower this morning, which meant I could wash my hair, thank God, and feel heaps better just for that.

My breathing is improving but I still need oxygen for moving around so my trip to hospital this afternoon will be in the wheelchair. I did toy with cancelling but this result is far too important to me and I didn't want to spend the entire Christmas period worrying about it and fretting about the delay this will cause at Papworth.

I have seen my doctor however who is pleased with my progress and has re-started my diuretics now that the risk of dehydration has passed. I am to make an appointment to see him at the surgery early next week for a check but he thinks I am out of the woods now. So that is reassuring.

Although my nose is fairly clear I still cannot smell or taste anything. In desperation I requested a bag of Tangtastics when Peter went out to get some shopping. I figured that if I was going to taste anything is would be these babies but no such luck. It was like chewing cow gum so unusually the bag lies open and untouched at present. I have managed to add soup to my list of 'things I can drink' and two cans went down a treat yesterday even though I couldn't taste anything I could imagine the taste, which made things more palatable The embargo on cold drinks has been lifted and I quickly downed a ginger beer relishing the bubbles popping on my tongue and the slight sting from the ginger, sadly no real taste though but a sensation will do for now.

I am worried about my lack of taste as I don't feel like eating anything and can't tempt myself with any exciting smells or cravings. This is something I'm going to have to overcome in the next few days though or there could be problems. I weighed myself this morning, I know I said I wouldn't but I figured knowing the worst was better than imagining it, and I've lost three pounds so far. Not a huge amount I must admit but when you think of how much it took to put it on it becomes a bit of a big deal.

Spoke to Andrew last night to arrange when to collect his things from uni for Christmas. He cheerfully announced that there would probably be some washing, you don't say.

On a more serious note he was assaulted by a mental health patient yesterday and escaped serious injury by a cats whisker. His crew were sent to pick up this patient, who was being sectioned, and transfer them to hospital. It was not expected to be a difficult job and as there were three of them no police back up was called for. Things went well enough until they tried to get the man into the ambulance and then he changed his mind and kicked off big time. In the ensuing struggle Andrew got the ambulance door slammed into his face. Luckily he saw it coming and, thanks to his 'ninja' reflexes, managed to get an arm up to protect himself just in time or he could have broken his nose and possibly lost some teeth. The man was eventually subdued and is now safely in hospital.

This week he has mostly been dealing with strokes, cardiac arrests and old ladies falling down and hurting themselves. All without fail have remarked on his youthful appearance and called him a 'lovely young man', aww. He has passed all the bits he had to pass and has had loads of practice on blood pressures and ECG's and form filling. His last shift is on Monday so we are picking him up on Tuesday, hopefully by then I will at least be well enough to go along for the ride.

Just as I was about to publish this I got a call from the Breast clinic at the hospital.

It is good news there were no cancer cells in the lump removed and I have the all clear. I will need another mammogram in a year and if that is all clear back to the normal three year gap. I can make an appointment with my GP nurse next week to have the stitches out. They are rushing the written confirmation to me so I will have it to take up to Papworth next week. They thought that it might be better for me not to attend clinic given my condition and the filthy weather. I am both gob smacked at this consideration and ellaited at the result. Last hurdle well and truly cleared.

Well time for another cup of puddle water and then a busy afternoon on the phone letting everyone know that this time is is good news.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Taking The Rough With The Rough

OK, I know some of you will either not have read the warning message that accompanied this blog, not got the message because some systems do not allow you to attach an external message when posting the link or have read the message but decided to come and have a read just to get outraged and have something to complain about. All I can say is if you really don't like reading about medical matters or bodily functions do not  read. You have been warned, in some cases twice, so on your own head be it.

I have had a truly frightening few days, I've never experienced anything like it and with God's help will never hope to do so again.

After my last post I went back to bed and went swiftly down hill. It wasn't long before I was turning blue, gasping for air and in a panic Peter called the doctor who, bless him, came straight out. After a through check up he muttered darkly about IV lines and hospitals but thankfully was persuaded against such things by a reminder that both my local hospitals have the norovirus at present and that was the last thing I needed right now. Luckily he saw the sense in what we'd said and laid down some ground rules.

As I was already on one set of antibiotics for my boob op and had just started a second lot that morning he was willing to give me some time but would return for a visit on Wednesday and if there was no improvement then hospital it had to be. I was to stop my diuretics until further notice and have regular hot drinks, if possible at least one an hour. I was not, under any circumstances to have anything cold, no I don't know why either. He gave me a breathing mask as my nose was so bad my canulla was ineffective. If there was any down turn he was to be called immediately. He then left and so began two and a half days of hell.

By now I couldn't breath at all through my nose and my throat was so sore and dry every breath was painful. I cover myself in Olbas oil and despite making Peter's eyes water and keeping the cats at bay it had zero effect on me. I lay propped up on pillows and Peter brought me my first mug of hot, sweet tea though to be honest he could have been serving warmed up puddle for all I could taste. By seven I'd had hot tea, Ribena and honey and lemon all tasting exactly the same. Then it was time for my line change.

There was no way I could do this myself so under instruction Peter took charge and from what I could tell did just fine. Too be honest I would not have cared at that point if he'd dropped it in the litter tray before attaching it to me. Then after a couple more drinks I settled down to sleep.

At around 0400 I woke up feeling as though I was choking. I'd slipped down the pillows and was almost flat, I'd also managed to knock off my oxygen mask. I felt as though there was a huge plug in my throat stopping me from drawing breath. I started to cough so I swung my legs out to try and sit up when the coughing changed to vomiting, I made it to the bathroom gave one almighty heave and promptly wet myself. How humiliating. Peter came rushing in to find me propped up against the bath covered in, well you can guess, and trying to cry. He cleaned me up, changed my clothes, took me back to bed then went down to start the washing machine and brought me up another drink on his way back and that is how it continued right through to past midnight. By now I'd run out of all my pj's and was going through t shirts and joggers, several sheets had also been lost to the battle. We were both totally exhausted.

I must have slept well because on Wednesday I woke up and realised I actually felt better. I got up staggered to the bathroom where I gave myself a rough wash and put on my original pair of PJ's that had made it through the cleaning cycle and were now fresh and dry.

The doctor turned up around midday and after a quick examination said there had been a slight improvement. He then wrote out yet another prescription, this time for steroids and said he'd be back on Friday. I spent most of Wednesday asleep. I still couldn't smell or taste anything but I could breathe through my nose.

Oh the joy of steroids! Today, after another good night, I woke up feeling so much better. I still cannot smell or taste but at least I can breath and although I still have my cough it is not too bad. Best of all my oxygen sats are on there way back up, a sure sign that things have turned around. Feeling too unsteady for a shower I ran a bath and took stock. I don't have to weigh myself to know that I've undone all my good work weight wise, to be honest the way my ribs are sticking out I would not be surprised if I'd lost more than I actually gained. I did think of weighing myself but I can't be bothered, once I start to eat I'll do so then, maybe the news won't be all bad.

The water soaked into the dressing on my boob and it started to peel away. I was quite pleased as I was supposed to have removed it a few days ago. The skin is a mixture of green and yellow, the scar is clean and dry, which is a big relief. I was surprised to see that the scar ran almost completely around my nipple and there is a small dent where there wasn't one before. I'm supposed to be going to the hospital tomorrow to get the result but as yet I don't know if I'll be fit enough. If I do go then it will be in the wheelchair, there is no way I'm up to riding the trike, with my trusty oxygen. I have redressed it with a bit of gauze, though this is only a precaution rather than necessity as I'm a bit squeamish about having stitches uncovered.

I've dressed and am lying on top of the bed rather than in it today. I've been gulping down my drinks as I'm incredibly thirsty all of a sudden and am craving something fizzy to drink, I will have to wait until tomorrow to see if the ban on cold drinks can be lifted. So I'm going to try and stagger downstairs later on and maybe try bowl of soup for lunch. It will taste like puddle water but at least I can imagine what it is supposed to taste like.

In the news, well I actually have no idea what is going on in the news, everything has passed me by these last few days so I've got a lot of catching up to do starting with the Strictly Results show. Yes I do know who went but I'd like to see it for myself.

So it's an afternoon of being waited on hand and foot while trying not to worry about tomorrow. I know, I know, they said they were confident it was benign but the way my luck has been running lately I'm not taking bets. If, for once, fate is on my side for a change and everything is OK then that is my very last hurdle jumped and I can look forward to next weeks trip to Papworth being positive and straightforward.

Right I have a pile of newspapers waiting, take care.

Monday, 10 December 2012


You know you are in the poo when you can't get out of bed.

Such was my fate yesterday. I felt so poorly I didn't even feel up to writing my blog, and you know I must be really bad if I can't even manage that.

I started off really well on Friday, despite being a bit sore from the op and still having a cough I felt great so went to work and sailed through eight and a half hours without blinking an eye. I was uncharacteristically grumpy though and found myself snapping at colleagues for no reason.

Saturday my cough had worsen but I still felt well and spent another full day in work and even managed to wolf down a fried breakfast. However that night sitting on the settee watching Strictly my nose and cheekbones became hotter and hotter and I felt bunged up and started sneezing. By the time I went to bed I was wreck and could hardly breathe. Waking up at six for work I just knew I wasn't going to make it, I was streaming and coughing up all sorts of gunk. So I wrapped myself up cracked open my emergency supply of antibiotics and stayed where I was. When I eventually woke up it was gone ten and I was hideously late with all my meds. Peter supplied several cups of tea while I did the necessary and then it was back to sleep and so it went on all day. I'd wake up with a raging thirst, down as much liquid as I could stand and fall back to sleep exhausted.

Of course the result of all this was by 0200 this morning I was wide awake and playing Angry Birds while Peter slept beside me. I did think of getting up and going downstairs but didn't trust myself to be able to get back up again.

This morning I feel rather better but still sound like a sixty per day smoker and have lost all sense of taste and smell. I phoned the doctor but he told me not to try to get out to see him, I must have sounded bad, but as I have started on antibiotics he has made an appointment for me on Wednesday to check on progress as he reckons the antibiotics should have kicked in by then and if they haven't he'll give me something else.

So where did this come from? Well it wasn't work, I wasn't there long enough, so there are only two possibilities. Either Peter's bug was different from mine and rather than me giving it to him, he has passed it on to me, or I picked it up at the hospital, take your pick.

Talking of hospital's my boob is now an attractive shade of purple while my nipple has turned green. One of the problems of doing the op as an emergency is I didn't have time to stop my warfarin and this is the colourful result. However, apart from the odd twinge, everything seems to healing well. I do hope that everything is fine at the check up on Friday, if I get there, and I can put one more hurdle to bed.

On the subject of transplants I am very pleased to report that Sita is improving fast, she still has a long way to go but at least she is on the right path now.

Well if I can stagger downstairs I'm off to watch the Strictly results show, yes I really was so bad I missed it, then it is more tea and hopefully a good film, if I can stay awake that is.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A Shocking Day.

Well I'm feeling pretty good this morning. I'm in a bit of pain but nothing a couple of paracetamol can't handle and my cold is definitely on the way out.

So what happened?

Well as I explained yesterday I'd gone to the clinic to 'discuss' the removal of this lump and was expecting a battle because they seemed very insistent on doing it under general anesthetic, which every PH suffer knows is tricky to say the least. My appointment was for 11.10 and having experienced my local hospital before went armed with a good book as I expected a long wait. I even sent Peter off to do some shopping as I thought it would be pointless him hanging around too.

I was shown in to see the consultant at 11.12 and I braced myself for the argument to come. Too my utter amazement she said 'you've been through enough this year' and 'we need to get this done sooner rather than later' almost before I sat down. A good start I thought expecting an appointment in the next week or two. 'How about this afternoon?' Before I knew it I'd signed the consent forms and was on my way to the day surgery unit to be prepared. She didn't once mention GA and instead she explained that she planned to smother my boob in a special cream which would numb the skin, then pump me full of local and work as quickly as possible.

I have to say I was taken aback by the speed and only just had time to notify Peter what was happening before I was wheeled into theatre. The operation itself took less than twenty minutes and I was back in recovery with a mug of hot sweet tea and an egg sandwich. I was discharged with a pocket full of pain killers and antibiotic cover half an hour later with instructions to return next week to have the stitches removed.

Exhausted and completely stressed out I fell into bed around nine with a hot chocolate and a couple of pain killers and was soon fast asleep. I slept much better than expected and was not woken by pain once. I must be tougher than I think I am.

I am not allowed a shower until tomorrow so I stripped off this morning for an all over wash and got the first look at the damage in the mirror. I have a huge pressure dressing which has squashed me flat but this is good as the less movement, the less pain and I look like a small child has drawn arrows everywhere but apart from that everything seems fine. I can remove the dressing tomorrow and have been given a lighter, waterproof one to replace it with.

Another person going through a far rougher time than me is fellow PH sufferer Sita who's transplant partially failed as the heart wouldn't start beating. This is a real blow to the PH community, we have lost far too many friends this year, we really do not want to add Sita to the list. Despite my trauma Sita hasn't been far from my mind and she was the last person I though about last night and the first person I thought about waking up this morning. However a miracle has happened overnight when a new donor heart became available. To have one chance of life is lucky, to have two in two days must make Sita one of the luckiest ladies on the planet. At time of writing we do not know if this second op has been successful and we are all praying for good news this time.

Sita's predicament has been something of a reality check and I don't think there are many on the transplant list who have not had second thoughts over the last couple of days. We all see transplant as something of a miracle cure and don't even consider the possibility that it might not work. We are all aware of the dangers that follow transplant such as infection and rejection but we all expect the initial operation to go well. I must admit for a brief moment yesterday I did wonder if what I was going through was worth it. If I wasn't up for transplant the lump could have been left alone and just monitored. This event has made me realise both how much I'm prepared to go through to get the transplant and how scared I am of actually being called up.

Thinking about you Sita and hoping for good news soon.

In the news I was horrified to learn that Stuart Hall has been charged for indecent assault that took place in the 1970's. I really enjoyed Stuart Hall's commentary on It's A Knockout and viewed him as a sort of benevolent, jolly uncle. I still wonder what good it is doing dragging this all up now but he's apparently admitted it so I can't really argue.

Also the Palace and the Media are in uproar over a fake phone call made by two Australian radio presenters. In a shocking breach of patient confidentiality the nurses happily divulged personal information to this pair without once questioning their authenticity.

I really do not know how this happened, especially as each time I've been in hospital Peter has had real trouble getting any information about me.

And finally some university bod has taught a dog to drive. Really? Why?

Next blog could be tomorrow or on Tuesday depending on whether I feel up for work or not.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Not The Day I'd Planned

This will be a short one as I've had rather a traumatic day.

Oh my goodness I was so shocked when I pulled back the curtains and saw snow this morning.  I was not expecting that and neither were the weather people who all looked a little shell shocked. Thankfully it is not very deep and now the sun is out it is already starting to melt.

At time of writing the news on the lady having the heart/lung transplant is not looking good. She is out of theatre but there have been some complications. Everyone in the PH community is praying for her and is hoping for a more positive update soon.

Today I went to see the surgeon about my upcoming lump removal. I wasn't worried as I'd already been told it was benign and removal was just to prevent possible future problems. I got to the clinic at 11.10 and by 13.30 I was in theatre having surgery. Now I know I wanted them to move fast but this was a bit too quick. Luckily everything went smoothly and by 1530 I was discharged with an appointment next week to have the stitches removed.

In a way I'm really happy because that was the very last hurdle to transplant so now when I go to see the surgeons on the 20th all the results will be in and, provided no one throws me a curve ball, I'll sign the consent forms and be listed. At least I won't be spending Christmas with the frustration of still waiting for things to happen. It is all done now so I can start to relax again.

Well I'm very tired, very sore and desperate for something to eat so I'm off to plonk myself on the settee and relax.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Well they say good things come in threes and there has certainly been a flurry of good news over the last 24 hours.

First up I got the results of a biopsy I had last week. A tiny lump was found in a routine mammogram, it is benign but I've opted to have it removed anyway as, once I've had my transplant and am on drugs to suppress my immunity, there is a slim chance it could turn into a problem in the future. I'm not looking forward to the removal, especially as despite discussions with the consultant, they've put me down for a general anesthetic which I can't have. However, after intense discussions on the phone, I think I've finally got my point across and I've got an appointment to discuss when and how tomorrow. As it's benign I'd rather wait until after Christmas but if they offer me something sooner then I won't be turning it down.

The second piece of good news was hearing that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting but is currently suffering from acute morning sickness and is in hospital on a drip. As someone who also suffered badly from sickness she has my whole hearted sympathy.

Probably the best news though was logging into the PH forum to find that fellow sufferer Sita has been offered a heart and lungs. Sita has had as rough a ride as I have getting onto the list and has only been listed for a couple of months. I am so pleased for her but admit to feeling ever so slightly jealous. Still it proves that the system works and once on the list things can move pretty quickly. It's just getting on the damn list that is so long winded and frustrating.

My cold/flu has taken a bit of a downward slide, I knew I shouldn't have said I feel better, and I feel really stuffy nosed again today. I was also very sick again yesterday evening which might or might not be related. I've started steaming with Olbas Oil, which has served me well in the past so fingers crossed.

Peter is not fairing much better and came home from work all bunged up and coughing like a 60 per day smoker. He resorted to hot whiskey toddy's which at least did give him a good night's sleep.

We are out of milk, bread etc, etc so we have no choice but to take a quick trip to the shops to stock up. I'm going to get ingredients for some home made soups and stews so if we don't feel like eating much we will still be getting some healthy veggies inside us. We also need more paracetamol and honey and lemon. I don't really mind this as sometimes going out into fresh air clears the head better than anything else. I will be digging out my thermals though and will insist Peter does the same.

In the news, apart from the royal baby, is the row about big corporations avoiding paying tax.

Nothing winds me up more than reading how those that can easily afford to pay constantly avoid it. I hate the way the companies put up prices then announce billions of pounds in profits. Now I'm not saying they shouldn't make a profit, after all that is what they are in business for, but do they really need to make so much? And if they are making these huge profits why are they not paying their fair share of tax?

It seems Starbucks have seen the error of their ways and have approached the treasury to negotiate arrangements, whatever that means. Of course they only saw this error when the news of their tax avoidance got out and suddenly profits from British stores began to plummet. They forget that the British are not as 'precious' about their coffee drinking as the American's are and will happily walk past Starbucks and give their custom to someone like Costa rather than pay the outrageous prices Starbucks charge. You see above everything else the British have a sense of fair play, if they think someone is trying to cheat them they won't hesitate to let their feelings be known.

The other two companies named and shamed are Amazon and Google. These are going to be far more difficult to get a message across too, especially at this time of year. There are few compaines out there that can match Amazon for speed, service and choice and Amazon know it so are pretty comfortable knowing that they are unlike to see customers leaving in droves. As for Google, well is there anyone who doesn't use Google? No I though not.

Whatever happens I hope the treasury will see sense and start winkling the money owed out of these companies rather than hitting the public with more tax hikes in the new year.

Well time for a nice hot cuppa and then a root around the cupboards to find something to cook for lunch.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Do You Want The Good News First.......

It's weigh in day today and there's some bad news and some good news. I haven't put any weight on, hardly surprising as I lived on tea for two days, but I've not lost any either. Thanks goodness for that.

I'm feeling much better today, I'm now at that annoying stage where you feel you can do something right up to the point you actually try and do it. I did manage to make a quick pasta for lunch yesterday but it wiped me out and I spent most of the afternoon dozing on the settee. Today however I feel so much stronger. All the aches and pains have gone and apart from the stuffy feeling in my nose and a sore throat I'm feeling pretty good. I'm not going to rush things though and will spend at least another day taking things really easy. I have to go back to the doc tomorrow to get checked out and if he says everything is good I'll be one very happy bunny.

The bad news is that Peter has started coughing. He sounded really bad first thing but things seem to have settled for now. He insists he's feeling fine but I suspect I might well be doing my nursing bit by the weekend. It will make a change to be looking after him as it is usually the other way around these days. For now he has gone off to work, reassuring me that he'll be OK. I think part of my concern is that I forget that normal people do not feel as bad as I do when I'm ill and so attribute how I awful I feel to them even though it is usually not the case. I still worry though.

Today I have received my packs of PHA Christmas cards so will spend this afternoon at the dining table writing them all out. That should keep me both occupied and out of trouble, which is just what I need. I have to say I'm getting a bit fed up of watching TV. As I've said before it is wonderful when you are really ill as there is very little else you can do. I try to read but usually cannot concentrated and end up dozing off and losing my place. When you start to feel more lively you then start to feel guilty sitting on your bum all day so I need something I can do without over doing it so the arrival of the cards was perfect timing.

Andrew has had a bit of a blip with his ambulance placements. The person he was paired with last week started a new job today which leaves Andrew rather high and dry as far as mentors are concerned. However they have managed to sort this out over the weekend and he starts back tomorrow. He will now be shuffled between three stations. His original at Isleworth, Richmond and Twickenham. Thankfully they are all within a couple of miles of each other so the changes won't make any difference to his travel times. Apparently everyone knew this apart from Andrew, what a shame he's been messed about but on the positive side at least he still has a placement.

Strictly Watch

I must be ill, that's the second week in a row I've got a correct prediction. Michael went so now we really will be getting rid of the good dancers. I hate this part of the series because you want everyone to stay, apart from Denise, but they can't.

Apprentice Watch

Finally got around to watching this on good old iplayer.

I cannot believe that team Platinum lost. I though their club had a lot more going for it than the rather boring 'you stand and watch while we have all the fun' space/science experiment class Odyssey served up. I mean were the kids going to be allowed to try the experiments for themselves?

I used to take Andrew and Laurence to 'messy play' sessions all the time, they loved it. OK sometimes they came out so plastered I didn't quite know how to touch them but if they were happy, I was happy (and it saved me getting my own house dirty). It seems that today's parents want their offspring to remain spotless, which really isn't natural for kids. All it took when my two were small was a warning that they were going to get dirty and a set of old clothes you didn't mind getting stained.

So back to the task and despite having Mouthy Megan trying to rock the boat, again, Odyssey won. There was an up side to this however and we finally got rid of Dismal David. Four times in the boardroom must be some sort of record. I still cannot believe he's a 'private tutor', I hate to think what it is he teaches. How to make sexist comments and stand around looking lost would be my bet.

Well Christmas cards wait for no man (or woman), I just hope I can find a decent pen.

Sunday, 2 December 2012


I have finally got rid of my headache and my appetite is returning but still have sore joints . This is all good news as it seems my bout of mini flu might be on the wain, excellent!

I felt so well this morning I casually mentioned work but got slapped down straight away by both Peter and Andrew. To be honest I wasn't really being serious. I know that for people with chronic illness flu can be a killer, to risk my life when I am in grasping distance of a cure would be the height of stupidity. I'd also probably end up being off longer after catching something else too. This 'putting myself first' business is really difficult when you know how much pressure everyone is in at work but at the end of the day I've got to look at the bigger picture. I'm, hopefully, going to get a transplant and after that everything will change. I will still have to look after myself but with a bit of luck my sick days will be less and I'll be well enough to work full time, I just have to be patient for a little bit longer. Easier said than done.

Yesterday saw me firmly settled in front of the TV while being waited on hand and foot, something else I find difficult. We watched the film Phantom of the Opera and I told Andrew how Peter and I went to see it when it was playing at Her Majesty's Theatre in London before Laurence arrived on the scene. The discussion got me hankering after our early days when we could do these sort of things without spending weeks arranging babysitters. So I've decided we need to start doing it again and have scanned the programme from the MK theatre and quite fancy 9 - 5 and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. All I've got to do now is buy the tickets.

I'm A Celebrity Watch

Yes Charlie won!

It has been a very good series this year. There have been a couple of blips but none of the nastiness that some years have had. Some people will say this has made it a bit boring, not me, anything that has David Haye being gnawed by a Bandicoot is entertainment enough.

As usual I am sad that it is all over but in other ways glad as sustaining all my reality shows was becoming a bit of a strain.

Strictly Watch

Oh my goodness, what happened to Louis?

He was absolutely fabulous, I enjoyed his dance so much I replayed it twice. Needless to say I was cock-a-hoop when he knocked Denise off the top spot. I must say I found James' protests of it being him that messed up a bit lame.

The only other dance I didn't like was poor old Michael's. The judges are right, he is stiff and he is awkward, which is a pity because his ballroom is almost faultless.

I think Michael will be in the bottom two as for who joins him, well it could be any of them now though I think Lisa might find herself there. I don't know why I feel that should be though.

Well I'm off to attempt a bit of cooking, nothing elaborate, pasta with a simple tomato sauce then back on the settee for the afternoon. I just hope there's something good on.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Flu 2

Well it seems that having the flu jab doesn't mean you won't get the flu.

Apparently I've been really lucky having escaped for so long, according to my doc, as nearly a quarter of flu jabs fail. I didn't know this but it is a fact that some people just resist them and you cannot tell who, which is why ill people who have had the jab are still advised to take extra precautions to avoid infection. On the plus side sometimes it doesn't take properly and you still get a mild version of flu but this will make you totally immune once you've had it. So I guess from that I'm meant to consider myself lucky.

I do feel better today, my temperature has returned to normal so I don't need to drag my duvet around everywhere with me. I also had an uninterrupted night so that helped too. I still ache and still have a niggling headache but I think I'm on the road to recovery now, at least I hope so. The advice was paracetamol, lots of fluids and rest and DO NOT go anywhere until you feel 100%. Looking outside I don't think I'm going to have any trouble with that.

I still have the antibiotics on standby but at the moment they don't look as though they are going to be needed.

I was delighted when Andrew arrived yesterday afternoon bringing a big bar of chocolate. He had heard I was unwell and as he has the weekend off came to see how I was. I spent yesterday afternoon listening to all his stories. He hasn't had a birth, death or RTC yet but he has had three psychiatric cases and buckets of sick. Rather him than me.

I'm A Celebrity Watch

I do hope Charlie wins, I like Ashley but would prefer Charlie.