Friday, 28 February 2014

Not Feeling Quite Myself

It's been a bad week.

Not because of anything that has actually happened by more because I've been feeling a bit off. Work has been particularly difficult but whether that's because it really has or I've just felt that it has is hard to say. Several people have remarked that I don't appear to have my usual positivity going on and I know I've lost patience in situations where I normally just let thing ride. If I get a few complaints I would not be at all surprised.

In myself I've not felt poorly as such, though my cough has returned, but another course of antibiotics seems to be dealing with that. I don't know what it is but I've just felt low. So low in fact that I haven't been able to rouse myself into doing anything much. Unfortunately my mood has brought the end to my 365 challenge as I just could not be bothered. Of course I always knew that the challenge could be brought to a swift end by the call to transplant or a serious illness but I'd always hoped it would be the former not because of my mood.

The weather doesn't help. Everywhere is so dull and drab. However there seems to have been a sudden rush to blossom among some of the trees on the way to work. I've even seen some daffodils and crocuses but curiously no snowdrops. Of course the first signs of spring have cheered me up temporarily but it never lasts. Give it an hour or so and I'm back to doom and gloom.

In work there is no escaping the fact that my job probably won't exist in the next couple of years. This is not so bad. I am still a qualified teacher so I do have something to fall back on, even if it is only supply work. That of course needs my transplant to happen but I do have other skills. Peter and I had a long chat, in fact it's a chat that has been going on for over ten days now, and counting, and we have made a momentous decision. We have decide to go into business for ourselves.

In three years the mortgage will be paid off. Hopefully I'll have recovered from transplant and the kids will be settled in their own homes. There is nothing to stop us giving it a go. We only have the roughest of plans as yet but we are going to stick with the big holiday as the first priority. Then we will sell up and, not necessarily downsize, but move further north and west so we are somewhere between Wales and my boys. Of course where we move too will always be slightly restricted by the need to visit Papworth form time to time. We will then use any money left over to get started. Of course it is all pie in the sky at the moment but one thing we both want is to no longer have to be at someone else's beck and call. We've both had enough of that now and feel we deserve a little freedom. Yes it would be easier to win the lottery but as that is never going to happen and we have never been scared of hard work this is the only viable option. We will see. We might well feel differently in a year or two and just decide to sell up and travel the world.

Today I'm going to be cheered up by a visit from Laurence who is dropping in for lunch and later the arrival of Andrew who has a week off before returning to uni after his latest placement. Of course with every up there is a down and Peter and I also have dental appointments this afternoon. Lovely!

In the news the killers of Lee Rigby have got whole life and a minimum of 45 years. They have behaved appallingly throughout the trial and thoroughly deserve what they got. Their's will not be an easy ride in prison. There will be plenty waiting to give them a taste of their own medicine. Outside the court protesters gathered with mock up gallows. I can't say I'm for capital punishment but in some circumstances I think it would be best for all. It would certainly be best for the taxpayer who is going to have to fork out a fortune to keep these vile morons safe.

Right I'd better get on with it. It has promised snow this afternoon and it certainly feel colder. At the moment it is raining so I can't see it myself. More tomorrow.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Normal Service Is Resumed.

As if this weekend wasn't bad enough with fainting at work and reaching my 14 month marker it now looks suspiciously like I am developing another chest infection. I would love to know who I upset in a past life because they just cannot stop heaping the misery on me. Thankfully I have my emergency supply of antibiotics to back me up and I'll start those today and arrange an appointment with the GP tomorrow. So fed up right now I feel like getting under the duvet and staying there. Forever.

I have a new nemesis to contend with too, in the form of our local, 'friendly' postmistress.

As regular readers will know we are in the middle of a clearout/downsize and have put a number of items on Ebay in order to raise funds for a massive holiday if I get my transplant. This means a regular, almost daily, trek to the post office to send a variety of oddly shape parcels.

Last week we arrived on a Monday morning to be told not to come in with parcels on a Monday morning as she was very busy. A few days ago Peter went in with a parcel that was 'too small because the stamps wouldn't fit' and he was told he 'should have put it in a bigger box.' Putting it in a bigger box would have increased the postage. Yesterday we arrived with seven parcels and were greeted with a heavy sigh from the post mistress and a 'goodbye' from one of the parrots. There was a bit of a queue so Peter and I waited patiently with our parcels while we were entertained by the parrots. At one stage one of them toppled from it's perch and a loud 'bugger' was issued as it climbed back up. Everyone in the shop ignored it except for us who were reduced to tears. I was laughing so much I had to hold on to Peter, which wasn't appreciated as he was carrying all the parcels.

When we got to the front of the queue she stomped around weighing things and practically threw the stamps at us. As we were leaving Peter cheerfully told her that he would be back on Monday with another lot. This was greeted with a grunt and a glare. Thankfully I will be in work so Peter will have to endure on his own.

I have a feeling the post mistress will become a regular feature of this blog, well at least until we've given her a nervous breakdown or finished our clear out.

The weekend has been a mixed bag. We tried to make the most of the good weather on Friday and Saturday by going out for a mooch around the shops. We didn't buy anything, we rarely do, and as Peter said, it would be crazy to start filling the house again just as we are starting to clear all the clutter.

Yesterday I received a lovely email from a lady who's husband is currently waiting for a heart transplant. She wished me well and said that she had started reading my blog because of her situation. I am so touched and honoured that my ramblings are helping someone else. People always think they are alone when going through something like this. It warms my heart to think my little blog has helped someone realise they are not. This lady and her husband will be in my thoughts and prayers that their call comes quickly.

This afternoon is going to be feet up on the settee watching a film.

I was delighted with Wales' performance in the Six Nations on Friday night. After this weekend no one is going to win the Grand Slam but the championship is wide open. The big one, and probably the toughest, is still to come and that's the Wales versus England match. I just can't wait. I alway love the England/Wales match regardless of the score.

In the news I've been alarmed by the reports coming out of the Ukraine. I have a friend from the Ukraine. She lives in England now with her husband but she still has relatives and friends out there. She must be very worried and I hope her family are OK and haven't been caught up in any of the violence.

Right time to think of lunch and then a long week stretches before me, undoubtedly without any chance of a call from Papworth.

Friday, 21 February 2014

“I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king"

Today it is fourteen months since I was put on the transplant list. To be honest I really thought that by now I'd have had the op, be back in work and getting on with my new life. Instead all I can see before me are long days of pain, breathlessness and restriction and equally long sleep deprived nights. Sometime, no matter how positive you are, it does get you down.

I was talking to one of my supervisors this week and she was asking me how I was coping and I admitted that I was starting to say 'if' instead of 'when' I have the transplant. She was lovely and said I was a very strong person and would get there. 'After all look what you've been through so far.' It's a very nice thing to say but more often than not I feel as though I am the weakest person I know. After all my body lets me down at least once every day.

Of course weakness of body and weakness of mind are two entirely different things. I know I have a weak body at the moment but I know I have a strong mind but that can be more of a curse than a blessing. The trouble with having a strong mind and a positive outlook is sometimes people forget that inside you are just a frightened little girl in a lot of pain. I am constantly being told how much I'm admired for how I 'just get on with it' when really all I need is a hug and someone to tell me everything is going to be OK.

Today's blog title is a quote from Elizabeth the first because she was also frustrated by the limitations of her body. Even though those limitations were merely perceived simply because she was a woman.

Right enough of feeling sorry for myself.

The big Roberts clear out is progressing at pace and I have found a whole stack of vinyl albums in the back of a cupboard that I'd forgotten I had. And when I say stack I'm talking about 120 albums. No wonder I have no room for my clothing.

Among them I found my much treasured 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' in yellow vinyl. I remember I specifically wanted the yellow pressing as I was into vivid colours at the time. Sadly, unless I invest in a new turntable, unlikely, I'll never hear the actual records again but I do have it all on CD. I also found some Jefferson Starship, early Genesis and lots of ELO and David Bowie. I haven't gone through them all yet but I expect there will be some surprises. My taste in music when I was younger was a little bit all over the place.

Tonight I will be sitting on the settee, crisps in one hand, a cheeky little glass of cider in the other to cheer Wales on in their latest Six Nations match. I'm not expecting great things if I'm honest but you never know. Last time out might have just been the wake up call they needed. As with everything else in life one can but hope.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Another Week, Another Face Plant.

And it was all going so well
Having recovered from my last chest infection and the low blood pressure I was confident that there would be no more fainting. I had, however, reckoned without the vagaries of the air conditioning at work, which decide to stop working. Walking in this morning it was as though I'd walked into a furnace. I ripped my jumper off as quickly as I could but my knees buckled and all I could hear was a lot of shouting while the only thought going through my head was 'well this is embarrassing'. I was soon surrounded by fans and concerned colleagues and being plied with cold water. I began to feel better but was sent home as a precaution. Once in the car I whacked the air con up to full freeze mode and sat for a few minutes before setting off home.

Of course by the time I got home I was feeling fine and a bit of a fraud. I changed and washed in cool water and then checked my blood pressure. It was a bit on the low side but not low enough to be a problem, though as Peter pointed out it had probably started to recover on the way home.

I know some people will think it is silly to faint because it is a bit warmer than usual but PH patients do have problems with heat due to the medication.

PH is essentially very high blood pressure in the lungs. The drugs we are given relax the blood vessels, which in turn lower the blood pressure. When the body gets hot it naturally widens the blood vessels so the body get as much blood to the cooler surface of the skin in order to cool down. When a PH patient overheats its a bit of a double whammy and over you go. Hopefully things will be fixed by Monday, when I'm next due in.

The rest of the week has passed without incident and it has been lovely going to and from work in daylight at last. Monday morning was particularly beautiful thanks to it's glorious sunrise. I'm hoping for more of them in the weeks to come.

In the news I've grown irritated by those supposedly in with the fashionable set, or jealous, aging harpies as I like to call them, whining on about the Duchess of Cambridge's hair. It's too long/curly/straight/unruly apparently. For goodness sake! She's a pretty young woman. So what if she has long hair. What is the problem? Just leave her alone.

The winter Olympics are still failing miserably to capture my attention. I have no idea what half the sports are or who's competing. Though from what I've heard maybe that's for the best.

The pictures are some of this weeks efforts for the 365 challenge.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Back To The Rat Race

I cannot believe that I'm back in work tomorrow. That ten days went so quickly I barely had time to catch my breath. However I've had a really good time getting out and about instead of being stuck indoor watching TV. In fact I've been out and about so much I've barely had time to watch any day time TV at all. Today is going to be different though. I'm having an enforced rest day to ensure I'm at full charge before tomorrow's onslaught.

There is no rugby this weekend, which has left me distraught. I've become used to getting all excited on a Saturday. Now I'm going to have to wait until Friday before I can stress out watching Wales play, hopefully better than they did last time. So, if there are no old films on, I'm going to pay homage to Roger Lloyd Pack aka Trigger and watch some of my Only Fools and Horses collection. There are probably better ways to spend a Sunday but most of them are off limits to me so I'll just have to make the best of it.

One thing this week off has left me is massively frustrated. I was fine until Wednesday until I visited Norwich Castle and realised just how limited I'd become. It wasn't just the fact that I was banned from certain areas, and it is always the bits I'd find most interesting, but just the day to day getting around.

Take the cafe where we had lunch for instance. The tables were set so close together that you had no chance of getting my trike or even a wheelchair between them. Having to leave my trike outside left me feeling nervous as I was worried it would be moved by an officious security guard or stolen.

Then on the days we went shopping we found some shops I couldn't even get into as they had a step at the entrance. Those I could get into had rails, shelves or displays so closely packed I was in danger of knocking things over with the slightest movement. My absolute favourite was a charity shop which had helpfully installed a ramp for disabled access. Right at the top of the ramp they'd installed a stand displaying crockery. It was impossible to get around on my little trike so goodness know how the traditional scooters would fair.

Despite having a lot of fun I still long for the days when I could get around on my own two feet. A lovely sunny crisp day such as today would have me and Peter heading for the hills and a long walk before returning home rosy cheeked for hot chocolate and buttered toast. On wetter days we'd head for the local pool and spend a couple of hours ploughing up and down in warm water. We certainly would not be sitting watching old movies every Sunday as we are now. Of course in the summer we do go out and visit places and attend the occasional car boot sale or Antiques fair but only if it on flat solid ground. My trike does not do wet grass or mud.

Day to day I'm limited too. I can't vacuum anymore and that drives me mad as it used to be done every other day. Now it's once a week at most. I can't dust as it makes me wheeze so that has to wait until I'm out of the house and Peter is at home. I can still iron, I do it sitting down, but carrying laundry baskets and hanging out the washing is beyond me. Another source of contention as none of my boys can peg out properly. A lot of people say to me how lucky I am not to have to do all the mundane stuff anymore but they don't realise that 'mundane' is normal. One of the first things I'm going to do once I'm fit again is clean the house top to bottom.

And so after a lovely week, which I have throughly enjoyed, I'm left feeling that I could have enjoyed everything so much more if only I were fit. By next Friday I'll have been waiting for my new life for fourteen months. I'm trying to remain positive but it is become harder, especially when you feel you've missed out.

So today I'm making that good old comfort food Toad in the Hole. Andrew is due home any minute after a really tough week on placement so I though a bit of old fashioned cooking would just hit the spot.

Having said that I'd better get on and start preparing. I'm fancying apple and blackberry crumble for afters. Sounds good to you? Yep me too. Next blog Friday.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine Day Blues

I am writing this under great duress.

After almost a year of looking, thinking, rejecting and discussion we have finally found our ideal bathroom cabinet and Peter is in the process of putting the thing up. This involves a lot of drilling and banging about, naturally, and as the bathroom is next to the study it's a wee bit noisy in here. We still haven't come to any agreement over the flooring and at the rate we are going the bathroom will need doing again before we get anywhere. We really need to stop dilly dallying and get on with it. If only we could agree.

Yesterday we took advantage of the weather and took a trip to....wait for it...Watford.

Peter had some electronics to pick up so as it was dry, sunny and relatively warm we decided to do a quick sprint around the charity shops. I came back with armfuls of books, even though I promised I wouldn't, and Peter came home empty handed. Still it was fun and I enjoyed getting out and about in the fresh air.

Today we are back to normal which is to say dull, wet and windy. The forecasters are predicting up to a months worth of rain in some areas over the next day or so and our area is expecting very high winds over night. I am worried as to how much more punishment the silver birch can take.

I have to say that with all this dashing about I'm sleeping like a baby. However my cough has started to come back. I feel fine and there are no other symptoms but it is a bit worrying as it has gone on so long. If it continues through next week I'll have to go back to the doctor's but for now I'll rest up and hope it is just a blip.

In the news over the last week we have seen both William Roach and Dave Lee Travis cleared in their respective trials.

I am really, really not surprised. There has to be an element of doubt as after all this time it basically boils down to their word against their accusers. Certainly in the William Roache trial the 'victims' were not exactly reliable. Changing their stories and generally messing things up big time. William Roach admits to having slept with a lot of women but then so, no doubt, has Tom Jones, Axel Rose and Barry White, to name but a few. The famous, especially the male famous, have women throwing themselves at them and sometimes they give in to temptation without asking the age of their teenage temptresses. However those women shouldn't turn around several decades later and decide that they had made a big mistake.

The doubt must be why on earth, if the things they say are true, didn't they report the crimes at the time. OK, the attitude to celebrity was very much different then and women claiming sexual assault or rape were treated appallingly by the police and society alike. However they could have told somebody, a friend, a relative, even written it in a diary. Then at least they would have some evidence to back up their claims. The fact they waited so long and only came forward after the Savile affair broke adds a definite doubt as to their motivation if nothing else.

As Dave Lee Travis said after his trial there are no winners here. The men and their families have gone through a horrendous ordeal. In some cases their careers will never be the same again because there will always be that shadow of doubt. The accusers have come away without the huge payout or the tabloid spreads they were hoping for. And the CPS and police have come away looking rather silly and vindictive.

However the biggest losers are the women past, present and future who are real victims. Anyone being sexually assaulted by anyone famous, or not for that matter, is going to have a harder time of it now. Unless they report the event within hours of it happening the police are going to be very wary. Once bitten, twice shy, or so you'd think.

However like a dog with a bone the police are still relentlessly pursuing anyone who was famous in the seventies and eighties and has had a finger pointed at them. No matter how tenuous the chance of gaining a prosecution. It's almost as though their dogged pursuit is in some way a compensation for the one that got away. Jimmy Savile did do all those terrible things, there is proof, but he is dead and cannot be touched and no matter how many more famous names they drag through the mud they can never compensate for that..

Right time for a cuppa and feet up to watch some Olympics. Still trying to get into them, still failing.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Great Roman Coke Disaster

Yesterday was our my awaited trip to Norwich Castle to see the Roman exhibition I'd heard so much about on the news and radio. I was so excited I couldn't sleep the night before (I don't got out much) and was up dressed and ready to go by nine. Despite the dire warning of bad weather it was actually dry and calm outside if overcast and a little dull.

The trip was going well until Peter hit a bump on a corner.

On Monday we had been out shopping and had lunch out. I'd got a coke in one of those cup things with the lid and straw but couldn't finish it. So I'd put the cup in the cup holder in the passenger door and promptly forgotten about it. I was about to be reminded in the worst way possible.

As though in slow motion I saw the cup rise out of the holder as Peter hit the bump. Then I heard a 'pop' has the lid came off before the cup neatly upended itself into my open handbag. There was then a mad scramble, hampered by the cornering, as I rescued my phone Zen music player, similar to an ipod, purse, spare contacts and anything else I could think of. Luckily I keep a few cloths in the car to wipe fogged up windows etc so I wiped everything down and then dared to look inside my bag. There was a mass of old receipts, sweets, lipsticks and general handbag gunk floating in a pool of brown liquid. My bag is leather so I had to get it out of there before is began to sink in. I stuffed the cloths and a fabric carrier bag into the handbag to soak up as much as I could, depositing the sodden cloths in a plastic carrier bag. The result was a very damp handbag and lots of loose items that couldn't be returned.

I stuffed as much as I could into the glove box and deposited the valuables in various pockets and in the spare spaces in the camera bags that we would be taking in with us. The handbag was pushed in the glove box where hot air comes down to warm your feet and soon a sickly sweet smell began to fill the car.

We arrived at the castle and was able to drive right up to the main doors to park in the disabled bays there. Just as well really as the slope into the castle is really steep. Peter put together my trike while I was busy stuffing my bits and pieces into the camera bags and then we were all set to go.

The first disappointment of the day came when I was told there was no wheelchair access to the dungeon tour in the basement. I couldn't go up to the balcony in the Keep due to building works and there was no wheelchair access to the battlements. However the battlements were not open anyway due to the high winds.

First stop was the loo, all that coke sloshing about had had an effect. Then we stopped off at the cafe for a bite to eat. Very, very expensive. If you are thinking of visiting take your own sandwiches. Then off we went. We made a beeline for the Roman exhibit, after all that is why we went, and met with the second disappointment of the day. No photography allowed. Damn it! Still not really a problem if I really wanted some pictures I'd buy the special guide on the way out.

The exhibit was the biggest disappointment. Filling only three rooms there was very little there and almost none of it was from Britain, let alone Norfolk. It was supposed to be an exhibition of Roman artifacts found in and around Norfolk. What was local could have fitted in half a room. Most of the stuff I'd seen before in the British Museum and, although I didn't mind seeing them again, I was hoping for something new.

We moved on the to the other exhibits and found ourselves competing with several school trips as kids raced in and out of the rooms all shouting at the tops of their voices. I was annoyed that none of the teachers even bothered to try and quieten them down.

The other exhibits were much better than the one we'd come to see and I was delighted when moving around to see a few paintings I recognised from two of my favourite artists. I found two Gainsboroughs and two Lowrys and they made my day. Unlike some galleries where you have to stand behind barriers we could get up close and personal and really take a good close look. The kids didn't like the art galleries so we mooched around in them for most of the time until they began to leave.

We then headed for the Keep and this was breathtakingly beautiful if not a little drafty. Actually by now the wind was howling outside and the roof creaked alarmingly with every gust. The windows had been glassed over but it was easy to understand how cold it must have been in the days of no windows at all. We looked around and then Peter went into the basement for a quick look so I found a radiator, parked up and waited while firing off a few photos. We were allowed camera's here but no flash photography so it took a great deal of control not to shake. I think I did quite well as I'm naturally shaky anyway.

A quick coffee and we headed home. We had agreed before setting off the leave early enough to allow us to do the journey in daylight. The weather had taken a definite turn for the worst and the journey home was slow, tedious and, when the wind tried to blow us off the road , sometimes scary.

We made it home just after five and spent the evening watching the news reports about the atrocious weather. Despite our difficult journey we had escaped very lightly.

Today is going to be quiet, though we do have to run some errands this afternoon. Hopefully the weather will stay away until we finished.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Parrot Sketch Revisited.

Gosh it has been a really busy day.

For once we had a dry and sunny day so we took advantage and set off early to get the mundane tasks out of the way so we can enjoy the rest of our week.

First up was a trip to the post office. I had one medium parcel and four jiffy bags to send so we pulled up outside our village post office and I nipped inside. Now in my naivety I thought a bit of extra business would be welcome as this post office has been threatened with closure more than once in the last few years. It is run by a rather eccentric lady who has a thing about parrots. She keeps at least three in the shop and while I'm queuing I get wolf whistled, asked how I'm feeling, offered a cup of tea, told 'good afternoon' and got given the price of a first class stamp in between a cacophony of squawks and whistles. By the time I reached the counter my head was ringing and I could barely hear the post mistress over the noise.

I plonked my parcels down on the counter and she glared at me over her glasses. 'You shouldn't be bringing in so many parcels on a Monday morning, I'm very busy.' I couldn't believe it. I was being told off for giving her my custom. I thought she was going to refuse to serve me but she barked instructions about putting things on scales and then started pushing stamps at me from under the glass window. Once everything was covered in bits of sticky paper I was told to 'shove them in that sack there',  which I did, paid and left to a parting shot of 'Good Morning' from one of the parrots followed by a hearty cackle.

It was then on to Milton Keynes where we visited Tesco first, stopped for lunch and then went on to Costco. The shops were so quiet we were done and dusted and on our way home by two.

We'd only been home a matter of minutes when Andrew arrived. He had a day off before his next shift so had come home to collect his post and take back as much food as he could squeeze into his top box and panniers. After all why go shopping yourself when your mum will do it, and pay for it, for you. Kids! He did have some good news though. He has passed another two exams and only has one more essay outstanding. All very good news this close to his finals.

I spent some of yesterday having a bit of a de-clutter and decided to finally move some of my vinyl albums up into the loft. We haven't had a turntable for a number of years now so I've gradually been replacing them with CD's and now have almost the complete set. I took a picture as I memento. One day, when I have the room and the money I might invest in a turntable again and play them. After all to us oldies music is nothing without the odd crackle and hiss here and there.

I have included my latest efforts for the 365 challenge. Hope you like them.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Slow Sunday.

I feel a little less spaced out this morning. In fairness I had quite a good night, waking only once but going straight back to sleep. Peter also had a very good night so we are both feeling a lot better today.

I watched Wales play with little enthusiasm, which was just as well as they played appallingly. They were undisciplined and all over the place. They deserved the loss. There goes the Grand Slam, we could still end up champions but it's going to take a hell of a lot of improvement. I also watched a bit of skiing, ice skating and snowboarding but couldn't get into it at all. Which is unusual for me because I watch Ski Sunday as often as I can. In the evening we forced ourselves to stay up and watch a film. The tactic worked because I was so tired I can barely remember getting into bed.

We have woken up to a wet and windy morning, what's new, but I have yet to turn on the news to see what damage has been done overnight. Unfortunately today will only be a small break in the weather and then only for this afternoon as another storm is moving in over night and then we are expecting the big one on Wednesday. It seems never ending but at least there is one thing in it's favour. It is mild. This time last year I was wearing jumpers to bed I was so cold.

Today is a 'get you house in order day'. We are getting all those horrible little housework jobs done so we are free to enjoy ourselves over the next few days. Tomorrow is going to be shopping day, well we have eat, and a quick trip to a charity shop to deposit some clothing. From then on we are free to do as we want.

The plan is still to do a few day trips but looking at the weather it might be difficult unless we are visiting something indoors. Norwich castle is still on, provided we can get there, and we may also pack a visit to the National Gallery or British Museum in as well. I know we go to London a lot but they are usually for hospital appointments and by the time we get out half the day is gone.

I was woken by a very insistent Smirnoff who wanted feeding. I'd forgotten to put biscuits down last night, that shows how tired I was, and he was hungry poor love. Smirnoff really doesn't like the weather. He is very nervous and skitish when the wind blows. He also thinks it is all my fault and keeps looking at me as if to say 'make it stop Mum', if only I could.

This afternoon, once I have got the housework out of the way, I'm going to do a little more painting so I'd better get on with it.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

On Australian Time

Goodness knows what happened to me last night but I hope it doesn't happen again.

We went to bed at our normal time, read a bit then turned off the light and promptly became wide awake. At 00:40, after lying there talking for two hours, we got up and went into the kitchen to make some hot chocolate in the hope it would send us off. It worked a treat on Peter, who was gone about five minutes after we turned the light off. I was still wide awake at five and thought I would never get any rest. The next thing I know it is light and the clock is saying eight thirty. To say I feel like a zombie would be an understatement. I'm going to be a grumpy girl all day.

Yesterday we decided to forego our usual trip to the shops. We have to go out Monday so we'll do it then, so I got the paints out and have started on something. At the moment it just looks like a splodgy mess but I'll take a picture when I'm happier about it. Any plans for today have been shelved and it is highly likely I'll be asleep on the settee this afternoon while trying to watch the rugby.

I watched some of the opening ceremony from the winter Olympics yesterday and is it my imagination or did they copy the London one? I haven't seen any of the events yet but I will. I'm off for a whole week so there is bound to be one day when I want to do nothing but vegetate in front of the TV. Today for instance.

Once again the weather is the main feature on the news. It is almost becoming normal to see people knee deep in water and cars abandoned on roads turned into rivers. Latest predictions are that the storm due later today could bring waves of over fourteen meters high. If that is true then it will be goodbye to most of our Victorian sea fronts. Those that are already damaged are especially at risk as local councils have had no time to effect repairs or put in defenses. Having said that I can't see much being able to defend against fourteen meter waves.

I must say sorry to those living in Norwich. Of course you are not on the coast. What was I thinking, but your are closer to the coast than I am so my concern still stands, especially as some of our main roads are under water now.

I really need to take a nap so I will finish here. Next blog tomorrow, when I will hopefully not be doing a good impression of the walking dead.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Uk Versus The Weather Round....I've Lost Count.

Well two days back at work just flew past.

It was nice to be back and catch up with my friends and colleagues but I am starting to admit to myself that the job itself is no longer really 'doing it' for me.

To be fair my views might have been coloured by the problems I had getting to and from work this week. It is no fun driving through rain and high winds at seven in the morning and having to dodge fallen trees, flooded roads and wildlife. On Wednesday I more or less had to drive in the center of the road in some places and just as I entered the darkest, most wooded stretch of my journey,  I had to slam on the brakes as this huge deer shot out in front of me. Fortunately I was not bombing along at my usual speed or there is no doubt I'd have hit him.

Thursday was better going in but I had to drive through a monsoon on the way home and the puddles were back. The wind rocked the car and, for the first time since I got it, I wished it was bigger. I felt quite vulnerable to be honest. What really made me worry is the number of people bowling along without headlights on or driving through the floods at speed. No wonder the emergency services are run off their feet when there are so many idiots on the road.

However I now have ten days off so the weather can do what it likes because I don't have to go anywhere. I have got a few things planned but it does depend on the floods etc. We want to go to Norwich Castle to see the Roman exhibition but Norwich is on the coast and there have been some problems already with worse weather to come. I guess we will have to play it by ear. That's all we can do.

Having my holiday plans disrupted is nothing to what has been happening in some areas of the UK. People are having their whole lives disrupted, and in some cases totally destroyed, by the floods. My heart goes out to them and I'm horrified by the news reports I see everyday. Of course my most heart felt concern is for the people in my home town of Aberystwyth. They have been in the front line for every storm coming our way. They have had a few lucky escapes but the storms coming in tonight and particularly the huge one due on Wednesday could cause some real damage. I can't see how they can escape but I'm hoping against hope that they will.

My auctions have finished and I made over sixty pounds which is a very good start to our holiday fund. All I need now is the transplant to allow me to travel again. Arrrgghhhh! It is so frustrating! I have so much I want to do but just can't because of my stupid body.  Ah well maybe soon, never say never.

Right must get on. I'm having a bit of a laundry fest. My only problem is going to be all the ironing I'm creating.

Tomorrow Wales faces Ireland in the Six Nations. I am so looking forward to that. The Winter Olympics have also started. I can't say I'm that excited but I might watch some events if the weather keeps me housebound.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

I'm Like A Rubber Ball...

This will be my last post until the weekend as I'm going back to work tomorrow. Yay! I am getting a little stir crazy and I feel great so why not. I'm still on antibiotics, which will continue for another five days, but they have certainly hit this one on the head. Of course I could get the call tonight, doubtful but I could, in which case I will not be returning to work for some time. There is always hope.

That's the trouble with me. No matter how gloomy I get or how ill I become I always, always bounce back. Some would say it is a good thing but sometimes I wish I wasn't quite so optimistic because I'm constantly getting disappointed. I suppose it is better for those around me though. If I was constantly moaning or looking on the dark side I think I'd be very lonely right now. No one wants to hear constant complaining. That's the problem those of us with serious illnesses have. Because we are used to feeling grotty or being in pain we tend to get on with it, while others make a fuss about everything. Sometimes I listen to someone going on and on and on and I'm thinking 'if only you could spend a day in my body, how would you cope then?' Occasionally I feel like screaming 'suffering! You think you're suffering? Grow up!' Of course I don't and never would, I'd lose my job for one thing, but mainly because if they can't feel what I feel then I can't feel what they're feeling. There are always and will always be people who are worse off than me.

Last night I watched saw an advert for a weight loss programme. The woman, who was overweight but nowhere near obese, was sobbing away because she felt so awful about her situation. The tears were real, this was no actress, but I had no sympathy at all. Is that bad? I just thought 'well you got yourself into that mess, get yourself out'. To be fair she did and looked fantastic. However it I got me wondering how that tactic would work for an advert for organ donation. It would be useless using me, I'd be there smiling and saying how 'nice it would be' to find a donor. Hardly the grip you by the throat 'I need your organs or else I'm going to die' message that's really needed.

Can you tell how bored I am? I'm commenting on adverts. Tisk!

Yesterday I tested the waters and found that the ironing, cooking and laundry did nothing to upset my breathing. My SAT's remain at 89 - 91%, very good for me and certainly a sign that whatever was ailing me has gone, at least for now. Of course this might be down to my extra diuretic. I'm no longer taking the extra one every other day but now every third day. It has had a remarkable effect on me. My tummy and ankles have gone down while my oxygen levels have gone up. Clearly I was slowly drowning. I will continue with my regime until I next attend the PH clinic in April but for now it seems to be working and I'm not dehydrated so no more dizzy spells. Bonus!

I'm keeping up with my 365 challenge. OK sometimes I get a bit desperate and end up taking pictures of packets of crisps but a picture is a picture. I've included some of my latest efforts in this blog. Actually I had a pretty difficult decision to make last night. Should I go for the pickled onion Monster Munch or the flamin' hot? I love them both. I especially like the flamin' hot with a sprinkling of Worcester sauce over them. After a lot of thought and consideration I had both. Piglet!

Well I'd better go and check I can locate all my uniform for tomorrow. There is nothing worse than losing your security pass at six thirty in the morning. It makes getting into the building a bit tricky as the receptionist doesn't arrive until eight. Next blog Friday.

Monday, 3 February 2014

A Smoking Gun?

There's an article in the paper this morning regarding organ donation and transplants. Specifically lung transplants.

According to research, done by Harefield, one of the UK's best transplant hospitals, over half of lung transplants are done with organs donated from smokers. A fifth of these smoked twenty or more a day. The piece is written with a headlines designed to shock, which is typical. The paper is always trying to stir something up.

Now when you are put on the transplant list you are given a tick list of the type of lungs you will accept. You can opt out of receiving lungs from drug users and those of smokers. Personally I saw no reason to limit my chances so I ticked everything as acceptable. If they'd offered me pigs lungs I'd have ticked the 'yes' box. I was, and am, that desperate.

The way I see it is this. OK, the donor may have been a smoker but how long ago? Research into lung cancer etc shows that it doesn't matter how long you've smoked for you lungs will start to recover the minute you stop. Over time you could end up with lungs as healthy as though you have never smoked. Even if the donor had smoked up to his last day I'd trust the transplant team to make sure the lungs were fine for transplant. They would never do something to put me at risk, which is why so many organs are rejected every year. The heart and lungs are the first organs to be removed from the body of a donor. This is because they have the shortest 'shelf life'. It has been know for a transplant to be stopped as a patient is being wheeled into theatre because cancer has been found in another part of the body. That's how careful they are. No matter how perfect the lungs are, the smallest growth in any other part of the body means they cannot be used.

There are many, many risks involved in lung transplant, or any other type for that matter. One of them is catching something from your donor. It is a known and acceptable risk. Usually it is something easily treated such as a virus or infection. Occasionally, and as far as I know there has only been one case, you can develop lung cancer. However who's to say you wouldn't have developed cancer anyway?

Only 20% of transplants take place in the six months directly after transplant. That rises to 50% after three years but by then half the people on the list will have died waiting. Overall you are much more likely to die waiting for a transplant than from catching something from the donor. As far as I'm concerned those are good odds. For someone who has been waiting for over a year, and who knows time is running out, the risk is minute. I would much rather have one or two years living a 'normal' life, and accepting the risks that come with smokers lungs, than deny myself that over a tiny possibility.

So talking of lungs how are mine this morning? Well feeling good. I still have my cough, I don't think that will ever completely go, but it is now unproductive, always a good sign. I'm feeling better in myself too. I'm sleeping well and getting plenty of rest so everything is progressing nicely. I have another day or two before my sick note runs out to decide whether to go back to work. If I do it will only be for two days and then I have a week off. Sounds like the perfect way to 'test the waters' as it were.

Today I'm going to do something normal. I have already taken my kitchen back and now I'm planning on a little light ironing this afternoon. As I said, just testing myself.

Ireland beat Scotland in the rugby, no surprises there, in a very one sided match. Ireland face Wales next weekend and I think it's going to be a difficult one, especially as Ireland will be playing at home. However I have already booked my place on the settee and will be cheering with all the gusto I can muster.

Well time for my antibiotics, a cuppa and then a little exercise in the form of loading towels into the washing machine. Next blog tomorrow.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Heart Awareness Month

February has been designated 'Heart Awareness Month'. During the coming weeks there will be lots of information sent out on how to keep your heart healthy and how to spot potential problems. As much as possible I will add bits and pieces to my blogs to keep you updated. Also look out for news articles, television and radio programmes and initiatives by your local health authority.

So lets start on a positive not and take a look at a perfectly normal, health heart. (It's OK, nothing gory just a diagram.)

My heart was thumping like a drum when watching the match yesterday. It was a really tough match but Wales came through and a win is a win right? I have to say that when Wales made a try in the first few minutes I thought we might be looking at a bit of a whitewash, but Italy was not so easily defeated and came roaring back with a vengeance. I have to say I always enjoy the nail biters more than the walk overs so I had a really good time.

The England France match was another edge of the seat match and for a while it looked as though England had got it. However France came back stronger in the second half and won in the final few minutes by a couple of points. The Ireland v Scotland match has just started as I write this so I'll be nipping down to watch it as soon as I've posted.

Health wise I'm feeling a hell of a lot better today. My cough has finally all but gone, I still cough when I wake up but have done so for years. My oxygen SATs are impressive at the moment hovering around the 89%. Not bad when normal for me is around 85%. I'm beginning to eat well again but my craving is mostly for fruit and veg so I'm piling my plate with health stuff figuring that food is food and at least I am eating even if it isn't the high calorie stuff. I did indulge in a plate of nachos covered in melted cheese last night while watching a film, so it's not all bad. Or should that be good?

Andrew's results are still trickling in and he has received one of his essays back which he passed with a very high mark. Brilliant! Just one essay and two written exams outstanding and then we can breath easy until the next time.

Peter presented me with a load of stuff to put on Ebay this morning so I've spent most of my time photographing and listing the items. He's got a lot of old car stuff lying around from all his renovations and upgrades so may as well get rid of them. I've also dug out and put on a few more items too. We decided that as we want to move house in a year or so we need to start clearing out all the accumulated junk. If we can sell the stuff and put the money to a good cause, why not. There is no point hanging on to it 'in case it comes in useful' and we really do need to de-clutter. I've got a feeling that every time I return from work I'm going to find another pile of stuff on my desk ready for me to list. Still it gives me something to do and keeps me out of trouble and best of all our holiday fund is going to be huge if we manage to sell everything.

Right better get to the settee, don't want to miss the whole match. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Souped Up.

Well my trip out was cold, damp and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Peter fussed and worried about me getting wet or being too cold but I had three layers on and a coat, gloves and hat so I think I was fairly well covered. We went to Dunstable Tesco's as it has a covered walk way from the car park so we could make sure my trike, I decided against the wheelchair, would stay dry during assembly and I could trundle most of the way in undercover.

Being a Friday afternoon it was quieter than usual so we went around in double quick time, to be fair we only needed a few things, and we were soon back home feeling non the worse for wear. Andrew beat us to it by about half an hour and we were greeted by dripping biker gear draped all over the dining room. Lovely! I then embarked on one of the biggest disasters I've ever made. Seriously do not try this at home.

A successful Tomato soup
I am one of the worlds biggest soup lovers. I love soup. I find it warming comforting and practically the only thing I can eat when feeling off colour. As a result I make a lot of the stuff and I am always on the look out for new recipes. A few weeks ago I found a Mary Berry recipe for sweet potato soup. I was delighted as I love sweet potato and being a Mary recipe what could go wrong? So yesterday I bought the ingredients and got to it. The description promised a 'spicy, warming soup with a vibrant colour'. I followed the recipe to a 'T' and all seemed to be going well apart from the slightly sludgy colour. I reasoned that the colour would change once all the ingredients were whizzed up and blended.

One hour later and I stuck the blender into the pot and whizzed expecting a vibrant orangy yellow colour as seen in the picture on the recipe. I got a grey/beige sludge. Andrew, who had wandered into the kitchen in the hope of great things, commented 'maybe it'll taste better than it looks. So out came the spoons and we sipped tentatively. The smell wasn't that appealing and I nearly spat my spoonful straight out. It didn't really taste of anything much but there was this rather sweet, cloying hint of something deeply unpleasant. Not willing to give up I poured both Andrew and myself a bowl and tried dipping with some bread. I couldn't finish it. It actually made me feel quite sick. Peter took one sip and pulled a face indicating he wouldn't be taking anymore.

So I'm afraid it will be washed down the sink at some point today as it is stinking the kitchen out, I've actually been burning josh sticks in an effort to drown it out, but I have found another recipe for roasted red pepper soup. Maybe in a couple of weeks, until then I'm sticking with what I know.

Today is the start of the Six Nations rugby tournament and no prizes for guessing who I'm supporting. I love rugby and get extremely excited about it. I scream, I shout, I jump up and down and on very rare occasions do a lap of victory around the living room. Quite often at the end of a match I feel I've played it, not just watched it. Wales are the reigning champions and if they win this year that'll be three in a row. The competition is going to be tough though, but I'm sure we will come out victorious again.

In the news Justine Bieber has been arrested again, this time for assault. Has anyone's career ever disintegrated quite so quickly? Sadly he still has quite a large fan base. I wonder what will happen when these teeny boppers start to grow up and realise what it is they were really supporting.

Naturally the papers are full of the Kercher case, with Amanda Knox taking center stage and pulling out all the 'poor me' angles she can think of. Will the USA send her back to Italy to face the music? I won't be waiting with baited breath.

Aberystwyth appears to have survived this morning's tidal storm as it hit further south. They are not out of the woods yet with at least another high tide and more high winds to come later today. However the rugby might not escape entirely unscathed. The Wales versus Italy match is being played in Cardiff and, although the match should take place without any problem, the worry is for the fans travelling to and from the venue. Have these people issuing the warnings ever come across a determined Welsh rugby fan? I think not! It'll take more than a bit of wind and rain to prevent them watching the match, believe me. Tenacious is just not in it.

Right time for my cuppa and yet another antibiotic. I swear that if you picked me up and shook me I'd rattle.