Tag Archives: illness

Snails, slippers and impromptu haircuts

Even grey mornings have their special charm when seen through the eyes of a three-year old with new wellies. Mab bless her for keeping the cheeriness quota up in the house.

The weather this year seems to have prompted a snail and slug population boom. Luckily my total lack of garden lovin’ ensures there is plenty of weedy greenery to go round.

This pleases Ida immensely and her garden investigating in between showers involves collecting the various hues and sizes of shelled molluscs. That and woodlouse herding, marigold petal picking and making secret paths in the grass which is nearly as high as her.

Other news from this place here include the successful antibiotic choice to see off the infection in my less bad hip (in that there’s still a socket) AND cortisone injections – very successful and welcome. Whoo hoo.

My mood is taking a while to bounce back up. I’m biding my time as experience tells me it’ll eventually get back on board. Until then my world has shrunk to the bare basics. I’m still spotting BT’s but the whole system feels a bit forced and creaky… still in action though.

Fathers day was  happy, Steve worked but opened cards and presents before he left and came home to a feast of jerk chicken, plantains, dirty rice, festivals and mango salsa.

It’s a pleasure cooking with Zeph now – he’s a genuine help, in fact he made the festivals and the mango salsa completely solo. Ida watches, stirs and chops herbs and a mushroom which didn’t really get used but occupied her for at least 30 mins. All we need now is a bigger kitchen…

We had a pleasurable couple of afternoons beforehand painting cards and sewing slippers; 


We bought the plain cheap slippers and decorated them ourselves with various beloved mini beasts including, of course:

Yesterday I did a hack job on my hair. Never a good idea – I just got incredibly cross when brushing out the dreadlocky knots I’d let build up and cut off my pony tail with the sewing scissors. Luckily Ida was elsewhere as this is NOT an example I should set her as I’m constantly finding little golden locks where she’s been unable to resist the swishing sounds she loves so much.

I did neaten it up but judging from the hair on the floor I reckon I cut off about two-thirds of the length and did anyone (including my nearest and dearest) notice?

Did they bleeding heck. Which leads me to conclude that no-one sees me.

Of course it could be because I mostly wear it scraped back and twisted up so no bugger has any idea what it looks like down anyway.

I suppose I should just be glad we don’t have any clippers in the house as it could have been so much worse.

Hot Spell

The last few nights have been just too hot to bear. My fine figure is far more suited to Inuit nights, I absolutely blubberly-rock cold weather but am disadvantaged in balmier climes.

The children are both the same. I try to soothe them to sleep with tepid baths, open windows and a pj and bedclothes ban which usually gets broken due to the fact they NEED some kind of covering to clutch as they drift off.

 Checking on them in the early hours I peel sheets away and smooth sweaty curls off their faces.

Sometime in the  grey hours there’s a changing tide as night seeps away with the wash of the new-day coolness creeping welcome fingers through the mostly sleeping house. It barely registers in my restless fever-troubled dozing. About now my night-time painkiller is wearing off and I’m waiting for the mornings welcome fix. Stupid fluid on crumbling near non-existent hip-joint . Foul misbegotten infection. Unwelcome prickly hot fever.

Lying on threadbare sheets, every worn spring sticking into me, I hover just outside proper rest. Tiredness and misery stain my thoughts. I resent the heat and flinch if anyone tries to touch me. The idea of a shower makes me actually dry retch. I want to no-go zone every inch of my skin.

I lie listening to everyone else even breathing and the whirr of one solitary fan stirring the treacly hot air around. Mentally I run through the tenets of pain clinic. The need to own and control my pain. The fact that my own experience has taught me this is true doesn’t help in these spare stranded hours. Recently all our lives are tainted with my salty sweaty scent of self-pity  and general all over misery. We’re all waiting for the tide to turn.

Days narrow down to basic goals. Clothes on, food of some kind provided, one child got school and collected, other child nursemaided by Cbeebies, buckets of water and hulahoops. Coaxed into considering a pile of leaflets to be cut into ribbons with the fascinating usually out-of-bounds orange scissors a worthy afternoons occupation. What feels like never-ending hospital trips chasing the seemingly holy grail goal of pinpointing the correct antibiotic cure for my own filthy internal plague. Petri dishes seeded from the mysterious putrid fluid drawn from my very bones offer up grown auguries of success.

I have grown to mistrust them.

Everything seems worse in the night. While my toes dip in the sea of sleep the pain balloons and swells unreasonably. Irrationally I doubt my ability to last til morning, I dread the next day packed full of small failures, I weep about my loss of humour and ability to celebrate the small things. Bitterly I resent all the sleeping going on around me and the card dealing performance of fate.

I’m chasing something in my troubled half dreams. Vaguely I think it’s a cure or an AI disguised as a steer in some grotesque urban forest. The pain in my pelvis is because I’ve been pierced with a poisoned arrow. Defeated I lie down on some broken glass and wait.

Slowly I can feel some warmth seeping through from behind me. Somehow I’ve become cold and bask in the slow flush of heat as comforting and calming. There’s a goddess behind me casting a healing scorching spell. I stretch my toes and snuggle into the glow. Without noticing I drift deeper into sleep, taking a millisecond to register the spell as a possible threshold for change. We’re on the up I mentally murmur as I dive deeper.

When I wake up there’s a small naked person wrapped over my back. She’s all tangled hair and pouting lips. Smooth golden limbs speckled with summer bruises and scrapes are draped over me and she radiates heat like a small serene sunshine-gilded buddha.

Who knows? Maybe she is a spellcaster. I certainly noticed a very beautiful thing immediately without the aid of drugs. Goddess knows I yearn for a bit of everyday magic why not lean on a bit of placebo faith healing?

Mixed bag. Sick bag.

I think I’d have to sum half term up as mixed.

All the omens were good as Steve had booked some time off and we’d planned a couple of days in Bristol doing things that pleased everyone. Zoo, an art exhibition, a kids theatre show at the Tobacco Factory.

Valentines day was my usual dichotomy of glee at the opportunity to celebrate and decorate and dislike of the whole hallmarkedyness and idea that I’m being bidden to declare love. It’s a regular cardfest here as everyone makes cards for everyone – Ida refusing to be left out of any paint and glitter opportunities. My best card this year was from Zeph. A carefully rendered picture of a shark savaging a swimmer. I’m particularly moved by the entrails gracefully drifting down to the seafloor.

A biting indictment and perceptive summing up of love I’m sure you’ll agree. Especially from someone so young. *sigh*

These and the chocolate ladybirds Steve threw into the mix made for a cheerful morning piled into the bed which was probably the highlight of the day where I made an effort to de-mould the bathroom.

Our time away was lovely. I like that we’ve established some family rituals about train travel – like taking bagels for breakfast which we can’t eat ’til Cam and Dursley. Watching out for the llama farm and the field where there’s often deer watching the train pass with the seriousness of spotter anoraks.

The zoo was also its usual pleasure with everyone absorbed in their favourite routines. I’m pleased to see how the new stumpery, adorned with a lovely range of ferns, is blossoming and Ida spent the usual ludicrous chunk of time inspecting the ants. The sun shone as well, casting hopeful thoughts of spring and more garden time.

Although the camellia walk showed a sad array of frost burnt flowers there are plenty of new buds pressing through.

I may have attempted some kind of heavy life metaphor  if I hadn’t been shoved out-of-the-way and trampled by other people eager to get to the fruit bats. Nevermind – I always have you guys for weighty introspection eh?

There was the usual riotous joy at booking into the travelodge and then a really delicious meal out at a fantastic tapas place in the docks. Followed by a happy wander home through neon landscapes.

We went for breakfast the next morning at Bordeaux Quay on the waterfront. Gorgeous food, upmarket place – Zeph is desperate to do one of their kids cookery days. Well – he was.

Ida was explosively, spectacularly, slow-motion-horror sick right… in…the… middle of the restaurant… and then into my hair and down my back as I ran with her to the toilets. She was then sick in an art gallery, on a boat, by a boat, in Boots, at the bus stop, on the bus, in the train station, in a lift, and several times on the train home.

We arrived home – pale and wan. Everyone had sick in their hair. There was elbowing around the shower door. Never have clean clothes and the soapy scent of shampoo been more welcome.

Inevitably the rest of half-term was spent being ill.

*sigh again*

Zeph was incensed by recovering just in time to go back to school.

Still we fitted in lots of happy stuff. I finished an order that means the mortgage is achievable this month. We ‘ve had a lot of happy domestic stuff with Steve. PJ days with the papers and lazy afternoons playing board games that usually end badly, (show me one that doesn’t when there’s a three-year old involved.) Lots of story sharing and book mooching and some secretive present preparation for Steve’s birthday on Wednesday.

Also, actually a lot of strangers were very kind during what I have mentally christened; the grand vomit tour of Bristol. Thank you universe and thank you anyone who drops a pebble of kindness in the pool.

Spreading the word for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Ninety words.

One of my favourite blog reads is over at Kate on Thin Ice. I think her Groovy Mums is …well… groovy and I appreciate her proactive approach to charities and what blogging can do to spread important messages. Which is why I have meant for ages to join in with this blog hop.

Queen of the procrastinaters I am, I am. Since I managed to carve a bit of me-time out on this Valentines day to scrub some mould off the bathroom ceiling, (steady.) I really think I should pull my finger out.

Basically she’s looking for 90 bloggers to write 90 words about an important woman in their life and include the following information about the Breakthrough Breast Cancer campaign.

“Pink Ribbon Bingo have pledged to support Breakthrough Breast Cancer all year round with 15% of the gross revenue accrued through online play on the site being donated to the charity. Visitors also have the opportunity to donate a percentage of their winnings directly to the charity. Along with the fundraising element, Pink Ribbon Bingo and The Daily Mail online will be helping the charity to raise awareness by promoting their vital health messages such as TLC (Touch, Look, Check).

“Celebrity supporter videos on the Pink Ribbon Bingo website including Jessie J, Melanie C, Tom Ellis, Macy Gray, Sharon Corr and Kelly Hoopen – http://www.pinkribbonbingo.com/ .

If you click on these YouTube links, you can hear Kate Thornton and Tamzin Outwaite’s support.

Kate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brz793lgb_g&feature=youtu.be

Tamzin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCh671wnj2o“

I’m lucky to have lots of inspiring, supporting women in my life. Since I read Kate’s blog I’ve turned over in my mind who I’d like to write about.

And I’ve settled on my very beautiful three-year old daughter, Ida.

She changes so much just by her existence. From the minute she took her first resolute breath, flailing her arms firmly in the air – fixing me in her passionate gaze she began her work.

With her in my arms and my hopes, dreams and fears for her in my mind I look at my mother with new understanding. The bridge begun with Zeph’s birth is now complete between us. Unassailable.

I look back down the years to little Laura and I forgive her and start to learn to love and help her. She deserves exactly what my daughter does. Safety, understanding, love and freedom.

Sadly most people’s lives are touched by cancer. Lets keep campaiging for research for a cure and better treatments and spread the word about what we can do to look after ourselves.

I’ll be teaching my daughter for sure.

Owl Family

Well I’ll start with a heartfelt Gah.  Gah!  It’s been a while since I last posted. The sunniest week of the summer so far and I sent Zeph to  a rainy Cambridge and trapped myself in the house with a toddler building furniture, de-moulding, painting, and making curtains. With tonsilitis and only one functioning hand.

Joy, joy and more joy I assure you. My sister came for a few hours and helped me clear the room. A mercy mission if there ever was one – adrift as I was upon a sea of mysterious Lego pieces, broken plastic trash, dusty unidentifiable junk modelling, happy meal toys, bottle tops and empty crisp packets. Under his bed he had a hoarded supply of Bonjella and two tubes of my old mascara. Should I be worried?

Also Steve came through on the construction side of things. Not his natural strength so I am overwhelmingly thankful. Moving everything around means that some of the animals painted on the walls are covered up and other bare patches of woodchip revealed. To please Ida and make her lower bunk as exciting as the top one I promised her some animals of her own. Predictably she asked for an owl and as I got the paint out she upped the ante by asking for a family of owls. She’s at the stage where she translates what we see into her family. So there has to be a Daddy ant, a Mummy ant, a Zephie ant and an Ida ant… Ditto la Owls.

So late at night, occasionally doubled over with a hacking cough, in a humid twilight I did some painting. I worry, often – as parents do, that the kids miss out on stuff. We barely scrape by at the moment and I say, more than I would like, ” Sorry we can’t afford that sweetie”

On calm reflection I think this is okay. I grew up in a home with very little spare cash but a great deal of affection and attention. I have no regrets about that aspect of my childhood. I want the kids to share my values. I would love not to have to worry about money constantly and I daydream at night about being able to afford without worry the piano lessons, car trips, adventuring experiences Z yearns for without always having to choose and juggle. 

The one thing I remember about being little is the magical way my mum could conjure up beauty and wonder out of nothing. Sleeping in the garden, star watching, building a Lego world in the bath and then flooding it, painting our walls, digging fortifications in the mud, dressing up, turning our own bunkbeds into  a pirate galleon. This is what I promise myself to never stint the kids on. I’m rich in this stuff and I want to spend it lavishly. I can’t afford the beautiful transfers I saw online but I can paint my own. Wonkily. She’s two and half, does she care about it being slapdash?

No – she loves it. LOVES it I tell you. I dread her teenage self despising me but right now, I can spin fairy tales out of nothing and she makes me feel miraculous.

I’m off now to hang the patchwork curtains I finished last night. I’ll be back with pictures and I promise it won’t be a another week away. Looking back over the last few posts they’ve been very kid-centric. That’s just how I feel at the moment. I remember being obsessed with Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson one childhood summer. Alice and I would range over the house gathering everything important onto my top bunk then staying, washed up there for the rest of the day. We’d have two minutes to run hysterically around filling our arms with what we wanted to rescue then we’d hurl ourselves and our bounty onto the bunk. I feel a little like that this summer. Spending half an hour holding her asleep on my lap tracing the arch of her eyebrow. Reading exhaustively the workbooks he’s bought home from school full of his stories and ideas. Trying to memorize them both.


I just sat down determined to write a post as I’ve failed in my self-imposed requirements recently but just as I logged on the heavens opened and the most impressive hailstorm started. It only lasted a minute but Ida and I both ran to the conservatory where it sounded like the heavens themselves were falling onto the roof.

I love how she was equally galvanised and terrified. We held our upturned hands out of the door to feel the hailstones sting our palms and she squealed and leaned her head back against my chest. Half an hour later she’s tucking into a fish cake and I’m back at the screen but we are still pleased by the hail but more by the pleasure of sharing it.

Days at the moment aren’t exactly smooth. In among the end-of-school high jinx there’s been lots of hanging around in boring corridors and playing by the sofa while Mummy is dozing/weeping/vomiting but there are Beautiful Things in amongst it all as long as I remember to pay attention. I’m smiling now as I write – thinking about the furious clamour of the hail on the roof and the brightly lit black sky.

I spent some time earlier attempting to clear Zeph’s room for its transformation and pack a rucksack for him. He’s going to spend a week with my very kind aunt in Cottenham, a village outside Cambridge. She has chickens, a huge garden, access to fields and plans for a night moth watching session as well as other stuff. He is foot hoppingly happy. I’m trying not to feel jealous or anxious that he’ll dig his heels in and refuse to come home.

I’m hoping a week away will make him feel like he’s had a holiday this summer, along with some day trips. There was talk of Ida and I going for a day or two as well but his devastated face dissuaded me. “Aunty Alex invited me…” It’s such a strange feeling of pride and fear as he pulls away from me. The day he was born I realised he’d smashed down all my strongest barricades and I was defenceless, vulnerable and exposed. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Anyway – enough of sounding like a Hallmark card. I’m cooking proper tea for the first time in about a week of toast. Its toad in the hole tonight thanks to Z’s heartfelt pleading. Mine is never that successful as my batter always sticks even though I grease the pan – why? why? Doesn’t seem to alter their enjoyment though and we have peas from our garden to go with it. I’ll be bolstering  them with something else but it’s still satisfying.

My hollyhocks are still soaringly gorgeous although I haven’t gone to see how the hail has affected them and yesterday we ate with all due ceremony the ONE plum our tree has produced this year…must do some googling…. 

I’m planning some curtain making for the new room. My hands might not be up to knitting or hand sewing but they should be able to steer stuff through my trusty machine. The thought cheers me immensely. I’m holding it out as a carrot to get through all the hoovering and book lugging that lies in store this afternoon. I’m planning to exploit Zeph terribly as a work donkey. After all he’s going to get to miss all the bunk bed building angst. The boxes of bits are lying threateningly in the hall and up the stairs. Squeezing past the mattresses propped up on the landing has given me a few back-at-home flashbacks. I have two bits of furniture to sand and transform and some flatpack new bookshelves on their way. Gah.

Healing power of Bagpuss

Ida is fed up with us all.

You see, she was ill at the weekend and was the centre of attention as she was pathetically sick. Sometime in the early hours today the V fairy waved her wand over the rest of us and the rest of the night was a whirl of sheet-changing, washing piling, dettol swilling, and elbowing each other out-of-the-way at the bathroom door. She slept serenely through it. When she did deign to awake she spent the first hour saying “Ida not sick” in a self-satisfied way by the head of whoever was indisposed.

That soon got old I can tell you. For her too when she realised all we planned to do today was lie around and whimper a little. Three viewings of the Aristocats later I finally gave in to the silent struggle of wills with Steve about who was going to get to lie in bed feeling like death and who was going to go downstairs and prop themselves between the sofa and the coffee table and pretend to be interested in puzzles, felt tipping and tea parties.

It’s been a long old day – I’m writing this while anticipating a change in shift. There is no sound from upstairs. Zeph has just arrived looking less like a zombie. He hasn’t been sick for about five hours. Should I try him with some dry toast? Where is his father? When will I get to lie down? I read him [Steve] the riot act about two hours ago which lost its impact when I had to take a hurried toilet break halfway through. When I returned, still enraged he looked at me all pathetically and said “but I’m sick…” Which he is, poor honey. I know it’s a cliché but really – why am I the one multi tasking? I have NEVER claimed to be good at it.

Well now I’ve equally repelled you by over sharing and annoyed you with whining I will find at least three BT’s. Actually I think today it’ll have to be silver linings.

Today I am thankful for;

We had a free day as we were supposed to be at the hospital with Zeph so at least S didn’t have to stress about work although he absolutely has to go tomorrow (another reason he should stay in bed I guess.) While I’m here, thank all gods I don’t have to juggle work and childcare. This is an enormous blessing.

Ida kissing me better, she is a very loving baggage, full of pats and strokes.

Actually there’s some nice stuff on cbeebies. We like Tinga Tinga, Third & Bird and Mr Maker. Ida is rendered hysterically excited by Rastamouse but I’m not keen. After a bit we put Bagpuss on which pleased us both. God I love Bagpuss.

When I let Mittens out the sky was black with rain. By the time she was meowing at the window in her Mog impression big fat drops were splashing down. When I put my face up they felt like warm kisses. The hammering on the conservatory roof and against the windows make it seem surprisingly cosy indoors.

At one point we were all in our bed with everybody wants to be a cat on in the background. I’m so pleased we got that big bed.

I shall wither

The recent news that my body is busy spinning a fibrous mass of tumour (most likely benign, my gene string seems to have gifted me the special gift of cyst forming) has prompted the renewal of a certain disapproving frowning gaze on my physical self.

I have to admit that I have always felt slightly dislocated from my corporal self. I’m a fine figure of a woman – this is loving code for could take my place in one of my beloved turn of the nineteenth century travelling freak shows.

That is – fat lady- although as I mournfully regarded myself in a mirror earlier possibly bearded lady as well.


Anyway, despite health worries I’ve never really felt desperately unhappy about being wider (as Zeph used to put it when he was little) On reflection whilst on the couch I’ve come to the possible conclusion that this could be because the couple of slender times in my life were particularly unhappy. I spy another dichotomy of feeling safe, substantial and  as though I’m removed from the male gaze – really most people’s as they politely avert their eyes yet also feeling as though I could take my place in a freak show. 

I also disconnect from myself physically in times of stress, pain and even during sex. Using my body as a punch bag becomes a dreadful self harming habit and has bred a contempt that,rationally,  I find distressing.

Embarking on a new relationship I strived to embrace intimacy and to stay present. Much harder than I thought but with enormous benefits. Being pregnant with Zeph was the first time I ever appreciated my body’s remarkable evolution forged efficiency. Amazing that it just got on with this incredibly complicated chemical architectural design project. As he grew the casual reassigning of my internal organs, the fine tuning hormonal adjustments were a marvel. I patted the bump and congratulated my stretching fecund body. Of course there were the usual miserable pregnancy moments. A sense of being poised at the very top of a huge rollercoaster on an insubstantial tea-tray, unable to see the ground through the clouds, awaiting the first contractions. I remember waking Steve up in the night near the end and saying tearfully, “it’s too late to change my mind isn’t it?” But, on the whole, I had never felt in such accord with my body. Steve recounts with glee me climbing on to the bed clutching my blueish, bloodied, minutes old son, putting him to my breast and saying fiercely, my face flushed like an Amazonian warrior – “look what I did – aren’t   I   amazing?!”

Sadly that feeling soon faded and a series of miscarriages eroded my new pride and confidence in my body’s abilities. A recent encounter with mutated Pagets then a complicated bone cancer addition has left me regarding my internal workings with intense suspicion and resignation to their essential inadequacy.

On the good side meeting an old (as in I’ve known her a long time – she’s not a crone), very beautiful friend for coffee it turns out she’s weeping at night about wrinkles, grey hair and getting old. Things that hold absolutely no fear for me, I don’t fear losing that youthful dewy glow as I never had it. I’ve always had to rely on other stuff. I’m embracing ageing – I definitely feel happier – I’d like to think I was wiser but realise that’s up for debate.

Reading this over my shoulder Steve is wondering out loud why I’m so quick to see beauty in every cracked vessel around me yet resist it in the mirror. I don’t know. Maybe I need to practise.

When I was sick I read a collection of essays about illness that included one about cancer being an attempt to evolve. Like we’re trying to grow wings, or some fabulous new telepathy, carbon neutralising, saving the world organ. At the time it pissed me off. Recently it crosses my mind.