My Decision

This is a piece I wrote back in 2008

It has been a couple of years now and I don’t have any regrets. Some time ago, I think it was the middle of last summer my mother asked the question.

‘If you had known how hard it was going to be would you still have done it?’

I consider this carefully before replying. I am not sure why as I knew the answer, there was never any doubt in my mind.

‘Yes most definitely, it was the best thing I could have done.’

Indeed it was the only thing I could have done. I had given it my best shot. 19 years of my life I had given to that man. But the day had come when I realised that enough was enough. He couldn’t understand it when I told him I didn’t want to continue living with him. He couldn’t work out what was wrong with me. We had a good marriage didn’t we, we never argued did we?

He was right in a way, as until the last few months we had very rarely had a row. Firstly he was never around to have a row with as he was always either at work, pub or asleep. (the perfect marriage in some ways).

Secondly we never rowed because, when he was around he made me feel so useless and weak that I never dared to argue with him and on the occasions when I tried to vent my anger on him he would turn it around to be my fault. Like the many Saturday mornings when he came home from shopping. (I wasn’t allowed to shop I spent too much, whereas he always bought bargains – you know the deals where if you buy this you get that free or the end of date things). We had a freezer full of things we would never use and a fridge full of things that had to be eaten in one day but nothing for the rest of the week.

He often came in with a mood on, this would make me grumpy, (no one likes to be moaned at for no reason). Because I was now grumpy he would complain about my mood and stomp off to the pub.

During all these years he would tell me that I was

‘fat, ugly, useless with a brain like a sieve’

Now after so many years of being told this it becomes hard to believe otherwise. I believe that if you get married you should try to make the marriage work. I was not going to give up easily. I had to try to make it work. Besides I had nowhere to go and 4 children to consider. Because I had done such a good job of trying to make our marriage work he had no idea that it wasn’t working. The end of our marriage came as a big shock to him. For me it never really was a marriage. I had never been in love with him. We had never courted as such, just fell into a relationship as when we met we were both getting over broken hearts and needed someone to turn to. If I hadn’t got pregnant the marriage would never have happened.

Now, though we are divorced and I have never been happier. Financially we were never really solvent as a couple. Does anyone know a solvent alcoholic? But we did have two wages coming in, his full time wage and my part time wage (part time!! I worked longer hours than he did for half the money).

Now it is just me and the boys, I am the only one bringing any money into the home. It has been a struggle and there are days when we have to keep our coats on because it’s too darn cold and I don’t have any spare cash to buy gas. (Yes I have had to get a key meter for both the gas and electricity). There are days when we have just 2 slices of bread and no milk. But we manage, I have not killed any of them off yet.

Are we better off now? Financially no we are worse off but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it isn’t going to be like this forever and now that I have a full time job that I enjoy things can only get better.

However we as a family unit are much happier. Gone are the days of dreading the door opening, wondering if he is in one of his soppy drunk moods or in a nasty bad tempered mood that has everyone either cowering behind a cushion or hiding away in the bedrooms. Gone are the days where everyone had to be silent or risk his bellow of

‘Stop that noise’ or ‘be quiet’

In the past two years there has very rarely been a cross word spoken between any of the five of us. It took me a few months to realise that he was never going to be here again chastising me for staying up late or reading when I should be doing something else. I can have friends here if I choose. (visitors were forbidden when he was here).

Our house rings with the sound of music (not always to my taste, teenagers!!) and laughter where before there was only silence broken by shouts of ‘silence’.

There is an air of confidence about us all that was not there before. I have learnt that I am worth so much more than I ever knew. I am happy, I laugh, I joke, I feel sexy, I feel worthy, I have finally come to love the person I am.

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Lucky or not so lucky

I’ve noticed recently that quite a few of my friends have been mentioning the pain of living with endometriosis

Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:

  1. Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before and extend several days into a menstrual period. …
  2. Pain with intercourse. …
  3. Pain with bowel movements or urination. …
  4. Excessive bleeding. …
  5. Infertility. …
  6. Other signs and symptoms.

When I was a teenager I was one of the last of my friends to start my periods. At the time I was ashamed but looking back I was lucky. Once my periods began so did the suffering. Pain like nothing I had ever experienced in my short life. It would begin on day one and continue until the bleeding stopped on day 9 or 10. Most of my friends were regular and knew exactly when to expect their period to begin. I didn’t realise for some time that other girls didn’t experience the same problems I did. I was very irregular so didn’t know from one day to the next when I would have a flood. I often finished a lesson and stood up to discover that both my skirt and the chair were covered in blood.

My periods were generally over a week long and sometimes I would start one only a week or two after the previous one but at other times I could go upto 2 months between. I would need to take pain relief and would spend hours curled up with a hot water bottle clutched to my abdomen.

When I was about 15 or 16 (so long ago now that I don’t remember exactly) my mother took me to see my dr. He told me that I would grow out of this and everything would settle down by the time I was 17. It didn’t.

As the years went by I would like to say that I got used to this. I didn’t. My periods were always long, always heavy from start to finish and always painful.

In my mid twenties I had my first child and a couple of years later my second. Quickly followed by my third. It was after the birth of my third child that I went almost a year without having any periods. I got into a habit of marking on the calendar how many days passed between my periods. Eventually my Gynecologist did some tests and found that I had polycystic ovaries. My ovaries were not working as they should meaning that they didn’t release oestrogen as often as they should and therefore producing eggs. Many women with this problem have difficulty with conceiving.

I feel blessed that not only did I manage to have 3 healthy sons but also had a fourth son. I was given some treatment for this, but not until after my fourth and final son was born. Among the tests I had undergone I had a bone density test which showed that due to my lack of oestrogen over the years my bone density was not what it should be. I was put on the mini pill (even though I had been sterilized by this time). This was to boost my oestrogen levels as I was even in my mid 30s a prime candidate for Osteoporosis. I couldn’t start this medication until after I had stopped breast feeding my baby.

When I was 38 I was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer. The treatment for this was intensive resulting in what they called a non surgical hysterectomy. At this point I went through early menopause. This was in itself a blessing for me as it meant the end of all those long, heavy and painful periods. It also meant no more babies but I had already finished having my family so that was fine by me.

I know that I am not the only female in my family to have problems with their reproductive system. My daughter in law is currently in hospital having had emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy. She has also had two miscarriages in recent years. I myself had two miscarriages (before and after my first son). Two of my sisters in law also had problems.

My daughter in law is very passionate about supporting Tommys Charity for stillbirth and neonatal births. We both believe that the loss of a child at whichever stage shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. Women (and men) should be able to express their loss without it being a taboo topic. I also believe that other “womens problems” are not spoken about enough. Just because these problems are relating to womens reproductive system doesn’t make them shameful. They are not something that should only be spoken about in a whisper hidden from everyone.

I am unlucky that I suffered right from the beginning with endometriosis. I am lucky that this problem was cut short by my cancer treatment. I am unlucky that I had cancer. I am unlucky that I had polycystic ovaries. I am lucky that I had 4 healthy sons. My life has been one big rollercoaster of being unlucky but balancing it out with good luck.

I can do this

I know it’s been a long time since I posted here. I did write a number of posts that just never made it to the publish stage.

2020 has been a strange year for everyone so far.

I started the year having a rough time health wise. I was  on one course of antibiotics after another.  In mid February I got the news I had been waiting for. 6th March was the date I would have my much needed major surgery. My energy levels had run down quite a bit so I told most of my Avon customers that I would be out of action from the end of February.  I put myself into self imposed isolation. I didn’t want to run the risk of catching a cold or anything else before my operation.

10 days prior to my surgery date I had my pre op appointment. A blood test revealed that I was severely anaemic. I would need to have an iron infusion before I could undergo any surgery. The date of my operation was pushed back to 3rd April.

I had been struggling to get into the right mindset and now had to do it all again. I wasn’t afraid of going under the knife. It was the thought of the pain and possible problems during the recovery period. It would most likely be a number of months before I could get back to life as it should be. (I won’t say normal because my life has not and will not be normal, it will hopefully be improved).

Then Covid-19 happened. Everyone was told to stay at home and only go out if necessary. It was announced that most surgeries would be cancelled from 10th April to allow for the Covid-19 crisis. Great! I should be starting my recovery by then and looking forward to going home. A week before my new operation date I went to the hospital for my Iron Infusion. It was really weird going to the hospital. There were security guards on the doors making sure that only those who needed to be there were there. The usually bustling corridors were empty. I made my way to the day surgery unit. All the usual obs were done and I was being prepped for the proceedure. The nurse looking after me went off to get the prescription but came back with the specialist nurse who I had corresponded with but not previously met. She explained that my surgeon had had his theatre time taken away because of the coronavirus epidemic. I was sent home. No Iron infusion.

I settled down to lockdown. My life became a round of knitting (for two little girls, my baby granddaughter and her little cousin). Reading, playing games on my computer, growing seeds and looking after my mother who has mobility problems. All the time Keeping my Avon business ticking along slowly. I could have gone all out to grow my business whilst being stuck at home. However I couldn’t get my head into the right space to do so. I have done a little to keep going.

In some ways I have enjoyed the lockdown. I didn’t have to feel guilty for not doing much. I did find it hard not being able to see my grandchildren. Neither of them live locally so visits take a fair bit of arranging. Luckily I had spent a little time with both of them in February. Finally I got to have a socially distance visit with my granddaughter and family a few weeks ago. She is now 9 months and crawling. The last time I had seen her she was just 4 months old so lots of changes since then. My grandson turned 2 in April. We had a family zoom to celebrate but its not the same as being there.

As time went by and the number of Covid-19 deaths started to go down I started to panic. When will they be able to start doing the operations that had been cancelled? Would I be classed as urgent or pushed to the back of the queue. Should I be getting myself mentally prepared for this operation that I am terrified of having? According to reports that I have read and heard it could take a year or two to catch up with the backlog. I was beginning to fear that I might still be waiting until the end of the year and possibly next year.

Most of the time that we have been in lockdown apart from a lack of energy my health has been better than it had been. I put this down to being at home all the time not rushing around. In recent weeks though I can feel my condition worsening. As the days and weeks pass the amount of time that I feel rough is increasing. I don’t say anything just take pain relief when I really really need to. I have been finding recently that it is getting harder and harder to be the cheerful optimist that like to be. It isn’t all the time but my spirits have been flagging which is not like me.

My GP phoned me yesterday following the results of a test. I have yet another infection but the best antibiotic for this particular infection is only given intravenously so not going to happen. I now need a further blood test to see where my iron/blood count is. She wrote to my surgeon last week to remind them that I should be a priority. If I don’t hear from them in the next few weeks she will write to them again. I spoke to her about my fears that it would be months away. She told me that I should be an urgent case, my condition is very complex.

In the light of that conversation I am trying to be positive and think that I won’t have long to wait. I am planning to get my hospital bag repacked . I still don’t want this operation but I know that I need it. The sooner I get it over with the better. I can and will do this. I have been through so much in my life and come out the other side so I can do this.

If I was Boris I would be creating a new mantra

I CAN DO THIS. I CAN DO THIS. I CAN DO THIS

Being tactical

It’s 10 days to go before the election. On the radio they are discussing people who don’t vote and the many reasons why. One of the reasons being ‘my vote won’t make a difference’.

Where I live we know that no matter which party you vote for the same party will win. The same party has won for decades. It is what is known as a safe seat. There are four candidates standing in this constituency. I know which party I shall be voting for. It’s the same party I have supported since I was a young woman. However it doesn’t matter which of the three parties I vote for other than the one that will win. Many people think that there is no point going out to vote when the result will be the same anyway.

I don’t agree. I think we should all vote. No matter which of the three alternative parties you choose. Every vote cast against the leading party will reduce their winning majority. If we can do this each time eventually our votes will begin to make a difference.

1995

At the start of 1995 I lost my father. He had a heart attack and died just a month after his 55th birthday. I can’t believe that was almost 25 years ago. In March I discovered that I was pregnant again. I already had 3 young sons (it hadn’t been my intention to increase my family). This baby was due on 16th December (my father’s birthday). Of course we told the boys that this baby was a gift from their Grandpa. This year, 2019, my father would have been 80 on 16th December.

Because I had had two babies by caesarean section, plus I also have a propensity to have big babies, it was decided that I should have this baby by elected caesarean early to prevent the chance of an early labour.

So it was that, early on the morning of Friday 1st December 1995, my husband drove me to the hospital where I was booked in for the birth of my fourth child. In those days we didn’t routinely know the gender of our baby before we met in person. Having 3 sons I was convinced that if this child was another boy I would suffer from postnatal blues. I had asked to be sterilized during the birth process. I enjoyed pregnancy but felt that I shouldn’t put my body through any more pregnancies. This decision meant that if I had another son I knew I would therefore never have a daughter. I love my sons and don’t regret having any of them but I knew that in later years I would have no daughter to do girly things with. My life ahead would be football orientated. (Which it was).

I remember being prepared for theatre and telling the nurse that I don’t want to do this. “I know about dirty nappies and broken nights, I don’t want to do that again.” Laughing she told me it was a bit late for that now. I was then wheeled out of the room leaving my husband behind. Although I was having an epidural he wouldn’t be joining me, as my third son was being dropped off by Grannie, while she went off to a meeting having taken my elder sons to school. It was his turn to look after our young son.

It wasn’t long before I was given my 4th son. It was a day before we had a name for him. He was a healthy 7lb 7oz even though he was 16 days early. Although he wasn’t the daughter I had hoped for I loved that baby boy from the very second I met him all slippery and red.

I have now had 24 years of love for and from that boy. I feel very lucky to have this child (now an adult) in my life. I do love all my boys more than anything or anyone else (except my grandchildren). However this boy and I have been through some challenges together. He was only 5 and not long started school when I was told that I had stage III cancer. His father had told our boys that “Mummy is going to die” Obviously I didn’t. Then a few years down the line my marriage collapsed. This little boy of mine refused to go to school most days saying that he was ill. In time it was discovered that his reluctance to go to school was because he was scared that if he left my side he would lose me.

You see although I had filed for divorce from my alcoholic emotionally abusive (now known as Coersive control) husband. We were still living in the same house. I had moved out of the marital bedroom and slept on the sofa for months. My husband had made many threats to my life. This little boy only 9 years old witnessed things a child should never see. He wanted to protect me from the kitchen knife that was being used to threaten me with, among other things. He was the one who wiped my face clean after his father had spat in my face.

Once their father aka The other parent had moved out of the house, life calmed down a little. As my boy grew older he was afraid that he might turn out like his Dad. I knew that just the worry of that meant that he wouldn’t. He is a very caring lad. He worries about everything. The 5 years between the other parent leaving and our divorce being finalised and me meeting husband number 2. My four boys and I were happy even though life was tough.

Then I met husband number 2 and moved my baby boy away from his friends. He was not happy. It didn’t help that 2nd husband was a very reluctant step father. He didn’t make life very pleasant for my two younger boys who were living with us before going to Uni. I felt very guilty for everything my little boy ( a strapping 16/17 year old by then) had been through in his life. He was very unhappy. When he finished college he went of to University in Southampton. By the second year of Uni his anxiety problems had become so extreme that he was often sick in the mornings. I spent many hours trying to give him a sense of peace so that he could cope with life.

18 months ago he left Uni and moved into a flat with his girlfriend. He tried to find work to support them both. He did have interviews and even job offers but his anxiety problems got in the way. He was so unhappy, he desperately wanted everyone to be proud of him. He wanted to be able to support himself and his girlfriend. Finally last winter he got a job that he was able to keep hold of. He didn’t enjoy it and the travelling was a problem but he kept going even though his hours kept being cut. I am please to say that they are both now working in places that they are happy in and the pay has increased for them both.

Throughout everything that my boy has been through he has been there for me when I need support. I know that all my boys love and care about me. This young man just gets me. Maybe it is the many many hours we have spent talking things through. All the time I have supported him. It doesn’t matter what the situation he can vocalise my thoughts and feelings as though he can see inside my head. I will and do do anything I can to make his life better for him.

A few days ago I told him that I am lucky to have him in my life. His reply…

“We are all so lucky to have you in our life. We could never neglect you or allow anything to happen to you without the best care we can give.”

How could I not love this young man. I am so proud to be his mother.

Happy birthday sweetheart. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Enjoy your evening with your friends.

Here’s to a great future for my lovely son

Lots of love Mum xxxx

Joe

Stepping back

Right now I feel as though I have stepped back two years to when I was ill for 4 months. I have very little appetite, it is an effort to eat even a slice of bread. Consequently my energy levels have plummeted. I find myself feeling cold particularly my upper body and spend hours in bed sleeping fully dressed with the duvet tucked under my chin.

Not so long ago I was prescribed some tablets from the hospital to help with my bladder problems. I didn’t know if it was a coincidence but at the same time that I started taking them I started getting the painful shivery flu like symptoms that I used to get when I had  kidney infections. After a few days I stopped taking the tablets to see if that helped.

I went to see the Dr, she confirmed that no infection was present. I was advised to wait until I felt better then start taking the tablets again. At this point I had also been struggling to eat properly for maybe a month or so. Some days have been better than others.

On Sunday 31st March I took one of the tablets again as I was feeling better just a little on the weak side. By the evening I was feeling not right, by about 9pm I was having the painful shivery symptoms again. Luckily I wasn’t working on Monday but felt so bad that I again spent most of the day in bed. By Tuesday it had worn off a little. I went to work as usual (Tuesday is normally the quietest day of the week). I loaded up my car then went home or an hour to rest before doing the first part of my round. After an hour I had to go home again for a break. What I would do in 2 hours took me 4.

On Wednesday I went off to do my work knowing that I would have to keep going home as I had done the previous day. Because of my feeble state I left about 18 parcels behind I knew I didn’t have the energy levels needed. Again I went home had a rest before setting out again. After an hour I went home. I repeated this pattern, apart from my sorry state my car decided to play up. Each time I tried to restart the engine it was getting harder and harder until it decided not to start at all. I still had an hour’s worth of parcels to deliver. I phoned RAC and was told it could be upto 3 hours as the rush hour was about to start shortly. After waiting about half an hour I tried the engine again and it did start although reluctantly. I managed to limp my car home. I wasn’t going to risk it stopping.

I thought it only fair to let my field manager know what was going on. I wasn’t due to work the following day, plus my car was booked in to the garage for a safety recall. Funny how in the days leading up to going into the garage my car had started playing up, overheating light flashing, If I turned the heater up I was suddenly plunged into fog.

Anyway I decided that I needed to take Friday and Saturday off so that would give me Thursday through to Tuesday to build up my strength again. The stress this gave me in trying to find someone, anyone to cover my round for a couple of days was more than I needed. I told my field manager that because of my health I had decided to give up my round. We had a chat later in the day and I will not be doing any more parcels until I feel fit enough. When I feel up to it I can go back and do one or two days when I want to. For now my priority is to get better.

In this past week I have done nothing for my Avon business I am a week behind with putting out my books and I have a few boxes that I have yet to unpack and sort for my customers. Now that I am not doing the parcels for the moment, I am determined to catch up with my Avon.

I think that when I was ill 2 years ago I just let myself get swallowed up in it. This time I am adamant that I will fight it and get my strength back sooner rather than later. I have to be strong enough to make the journey to see my son and grandson next weekend and again on 27th for his first birthday.

I took my car out for a run to try to clear the fuel blockage. It was really noisy today, I was just starting to think about pulling into a layby. Just then the oil light came on. followed quickly by a clunk, there was a cloud of smoke and the car cut out just as I reached a slip road. (my first and only piece of luck). It took an hour and a half for my rescuer to arrive with his RAC van. It took him less than a minute to decide it was the Cam belt. So my car was towed home. He wasn’t able to get it near our home so he left it in a car park further up the road. This looks like it will be an expensive problem. By the time I had staggered home from where my car now is I was as white as a sheet according to my Mum. The poor RAC man had to put up with me retching all the way back.

Update

As it turned out I was too ill to leave the house for 2 weeks. My car was towed to a local garage where the damage was assessed. It was going to cost almost as much as I had paid for the car to get it running again. In my state of ill health I couldn’t think about it so made the decision to have my car scrapped.  I now have another car, one that has 5 seats instead of the 7 my previous car had but the boot is big enough to accommodate my mother’s pink wheelchair. I have not gone back to delivering parcels. I am doing Avon but barely have the strength to be out for an hour at a time. I sleep a lot too.

I am frustrated that I have not been able to step back into the life I had before falling ill in the spring. I am now in a routine of quiet companionship with my mother. I am now officially her carer. This was not something either of us could have envisioned a year ago. It would be easy for me to say that I am not going to carry on doing my Avon, I’m just too tired but I am continuing because it gets me out of the house, meeting people, getting some exercise and fresh air as well as a small income. I am gradually increasing my business, I’m definitely a tortoise not a hare. It allows me to pay for my own fuel, phone bill and buy gifts for my family without having to ask for a hand out from my mother.

Slowly does it

I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I have done anything quickly. My boys used to joke ‘mum never runs unless she needs the loo’. They were right. Have you ever tried to run up a flight of stairs with your legs crossed. I can tell you it’s impossible.

Anyway, I don’t walk fast, read fast or do anything fast. The same seems to be the case with building my Avon business. I don’t do huge amounts of canvassing for new customers like most of my friends.However week by week I am adding more customers to my business. Today I dropped books to some new houses and some that I have canvassed before. I went back to pick up some stragglers from another road. I picked up one new customer. That makes it three new customers this week. Taking my total up to 101. It was my plan to canvass a lot more houses than I have been able to do. Due to my recent health issues it has been a slower growth than I had hoped for.

I had also hoped to grow my team quicker than I have so maybe you could help me. If you know anyone who would like to become an Avon Rep or Sales Leader perhaps you could show them my website

earn from beauty

or perhaps you would like to buy from my shop

My online store54410683_294436737919675_7825833577597108224_n

Dark cloud on a sunny day

I’m looking out onto a sunny day and not feeling the joy this would usually bring. Anyone who knows me would say that I am a naturally happy and positive person. Throughout my life I have suffered from depression although not so much in recent years. I have mostly managed to keep it at bay.

I think my whole life has been one long struggle. Poverty, living with not one but two alcoholic husbands. (yes I know one is unfortunate, two is foolish).

18 years ago I was starting the journey into treatment for stage 3 cancer. I was given the all clear in September 2001 a few days before 19/11. it was still another couple of months before I returned to my part time work. It took time to build back the strength to do more than just the basic requirements of family life. I remember very clearly the words of my Macmillan nurse telling me that a very few people have long term bowel/bladder problems following the treatment I had undergone.

I think that after all these years it is safe to say that I am one of these few people. I wasn’t aware until two years ago when I was so ill that I was literally housebound in agony with no appetite. My cancer treatment had made me prone to kidney infections. I had suffered repeated bouts of flu like symptoms, pain in every part of my body and a shivering fever. What scared me the most was the drastic weight loss and the frequent passing of blood in my urine. After many blood tests, ultra sound scans, CT scan it was decided that the cause of all these symptoms was a severe kidney infection.  A course of strong antibiotics and forcing myself to eat again I began to get better. The next year and a half I have managed to stay reasonably healthy.

The last few weeks I have felt unwell, I was getting those flu like symptoms again. I have been struggling to force myself to eat for a few weeks and the blood in my urine has increased from being once or twice a week to multiple times a day.  I never know when the blood will come but I always know when it does because passing water becomes very painful. (it makes me want to cry). I don’t have thrush or cystitis both very unpleasant but luckily not problems that I have had to deal with for years. However as I sit here now I have a pain in my urethera. I don’t know how to describe it other than a feeling that I have a holly leaf wedged inside me. I have been to see the Dr, I don’t have an infection at the moment. The flu symptoms have subsided. On Friday I had to take a day off work as I had a severe stomach upset which left me on the loo for hours. When not on the loo I was sleeping.

I was trying to force myself to eat to get back my energy but scared to eat because my bowels were playing up. Ever since my cancer treatment I have suffered with bowel problems. I can never be confident that my bowels won’t erupt with little or no notice. It makes being out of the house very dangerous for me. Yes I really chose the right job for me. Being in my car for hours on end delivering parcels. There have been days when I have had to make a mad dash home for the loo. I don’t always make it.  It has been bad enough for all these years but now that I my bladder problems have increased over recent years it is getting me down. Following a recent urodynamics test (which wasn’t very successful) the registrar tells me that my bladder has damage from my radiotherapy back in 2001. Cheers I had worked that out.

This has been my life for so many years now that I don’t remember what it was like to have normal toilet functions. I find it both physically and mentally distressing every time I need the toilet. It must be wonderful not to have any worries or distress when sitting on the toilet. I just don’t remember.

All this added to my recent bout of being unwell has led me into a dark place. I don’t usually allow myself to wallow for long but this time I feel myself being dragged under. I know I have things to do and people to talk to but it all seems as though my life is too much effort. I have my estranged husband calling me with messages saying that he needs my help. I can’t help him I have my own demons to deal with. If it wasn’t for my four sons and their growing families/partnerships I just wouldn’t bother getting up each day. I just want to give in to oblivion. I know I won’t, I have my grandson and another grandchild on the way to think about.  If I am honest though I am fed up with my life.

To make life even better within minutes of posting this I fell. I missed the bottom step of our stairs, flinging myself and my laundry into a heap on the floor. Surprisingly my ankles were fine. However I did have incredible pain in my feet. I later discovered the my left big toe is bruised and I had some painful swelling on the side of my right foot. Having wrapped my foot in a towel and some frozen sweetcorn, the swelling subsided. Now three days later my right foot is only painful when knocked but my left big toe is still painful but I am able to walk on it fairly well now.

I have just been reading about PRD Pelvic Radiation Disease Pelvic Radiation Disease

This is new information for me. I had no idea that what I have been dealing with for the last 17 years is a common condition for those of us who have had radiation treatment for Cervical Cancer. Had I known about this sooner I would have made more noise about it with my GP. Instead I have lived with it believing that nothing could be done.  Over the last couple of years I have had various tests and screenings for my bladder problems but never for my bowel problems.

Yes, I am grateful for the treatment that I had which has enabled me to  continue with my life and watch my sons grow up. However I would certainly say that these apparently not so rare side effects of radiation treatment have affected my quality of life.

Relationships

Since leaving my second alcoholic husband a year ago I have been living with my mother. I have gone from being in a large 4 bedroom house where I ran everything from the cooking cleaning, finances etc. I have been running a home for over 30 years (my eldest son is now 31). Over that time I have accumulated a collection of kitchen things.

Moving in with my mother I left the majority of my things behind. I have one medium bedroom plus I have taken over the two seater sofa. The kitchen is about a quarter of the size of the one I left behind. I never thought I would miss doing the weekly shop, but I find myself walking around a supermarket thinking about what I could buy/make. There is very little room in the cupboards or fridge ad freezer for me to add the things I would buy. It has been a challenge going back to live with my mother after all these years of running my own home.

I love my mum to bits and we have always been very close. I am very grateful to her for allowing me to move in with her when I left my husband. In the last year it has become apparent that her need for my help (in small ways) has increased. I don’t now feel I could leave her on her own again.

It would have been easy to become stuck in a way of working and caring but not living. However last summer I joined my friend in her Avon team. I didn’t want to do catalogues, my plan was to work solely online which I could do from the comfort of home. I very quickly gained about 50 customers (not online). After a couple of campaigns I also decided to become a Sales Leader and build a team of my own. Before Christmas I had recruited 12 people into my team (with varying success).  I am now on a mission to recruit more team members. I am keen to help others enjoy the benefits I have found from being in this Avon family. Not only am I earning extra money, I am making new friends, loving all the products. I have never had so many perfumes. Designer handbags, jewellery.

Joining Avon was a great decision for me. I has given me a life outside of my work and living with my mum.luck for her gift set

http://www.earnwithbeauty.me.uk

Since writing this post I had a spell of being housebound by a bad kidney infection which left me unable to do anything for 2 months. During this time my mother had 3 falls in 3 weeks. Possibly due to her doing more of the things I had been doing for her. Anyway in the months since the spring she has become less mobile and now relies on her 3 wheeled walkers whilst in the house and a pink wheelchair for the few occasions when she leaves the house. She has now made the decision to give up driving and has informed DVLA that she no longer needs her licence renewed.

I am now her Carer. Together with my small Carers Allowance and the money I earn through doing my Avon I do have a little bit of financial independence. Since being ill I have been unable to go back to work delivering parcels. I still 5 months after recovering from my illness not got much energy back. Running my Avon business has prevented me from becoming a recluse. It forces me to leave the house most days. There are days when I just can’t face it.  I can only manage about an hour before I need to go back home for a rest.

Owning my cancer -part three

Ages ago now, I emailed all my female colleagues the open letter I had written back in October 2001. This resulted in a discussion between myself and my colleague, who was very forceful in stating that some people just don’t like Drs and should be left alone, she says that if she suspected that she had cancer she would rather not be treated but be left alone to die. I happen to disagree, we all have at times to do things we don’t like. I don’t like needles in any way shape or form but I put up with them because I have to. As I have said before cancer affects not just the patient but all the family. I can not even begin to contemplate what life would have been like for my four boys if I had not had treatment for my cancer.

Talking of treatment that is what I want to talk about this time. On looking back now I guess when I was told I had cancer and would need chemotherapy every week and radiotherapy daily I thought it would be simple. I would lead a fairly normal life except that I would go to the hospital every day for 5 minutes of radiotherapy. But on Tuesdays I would be there for hours for the chemo treatment which I did realise would make me feel ill. But I could cope with feeling ill once a week for a month if it was going to get rid of this growth.

What I hadn’t expected was the weeks of tests before my treatment could be started. There were chest x-rays, nuclear x-rays to test my kidneys, MRI scans to check for cancerous cells in other parts of my body most importantly to make sure my lymph glands were clear. There was the measuring to make a personalised stencil for the radiotherapy machine. Three tattoos to mark the spot so that the stencil could be lined up accurately for each treatment. All the time I felt as though I was fading away I was becoming weaker and paler by the day, the pain was increasing, but I was not going to let this get the better of me.

Eventually and it did feel as though it had been a life time although in reality only a couple of weeks, my treatment was to begin. I think I even felt a little excitement mixed in with the anxiety. This was after all the start of getting better. I had always been a fairly patient person (laid back) but these weeks were when I really learnt to be a patient patient. There were two radiotherapy machines in use in the clinic, often one or both would break down causing a backlog of patients to be treated. It became more the norm than not to have to sit for two hours waiting for my turn. But going back again to that first treatment day. Having waited an hour or more among the other people who were very ill some terminal I was called into a cubicle. Here I was given a leaflet listing the foods I wouldn’t be able to eat during the weeks of my treatment. I hadn’t been prepared for this. Because my tumour was situated so close to my bladder and bowels I would need to be careful not to eat any foodstuffs that consisted of fibre. That meant a blanket veto on fruit or vegetables, brown bread, potato skins, baked beans and very many more. There were times it was difficult to find much that I could eat. It seemed that any food deemed to be healthy would be unhealthy for me. So I began a diet of stodge, eating lots of pastries and pies, things I would normally try to avoid. Now in 2019 I am still not able to eat much food that contains fibre. I can only eat small amounts of fruit and vegetables. I love nuts but have t be careful how much and when I eat them.

But it wasn’t just the food issue, there were other rules too. No hot showers or baths, no bubbles in my bath, nothing on my skin that could react. I had to learn to have daily luke warm baths of plain water using only the minimum of things like shampoo. It was during these baths that I made the awful discovery. Because I wasn’t having chemo I wasn’t in danger of my hair falling out of my head, I wasn’t about to go bald. But to my horror I was finding that with no bubbles in my bath I could find hair floating in the water. As the weeks passed this was becoming more and more irksome, I couldn’t understand it but put it down to being normal but I wouldn’t normally notice, it was only because the water was clear. But then one day I realised why I was finding hair. My pubic hair was falling out, so much so that on one occasion my husband asked if I had been shaved, I hadn’t.

We fell into a routine where each day my husband would head off to work early, then return mid morning to take me to the hospital on alternate days. My mum did the other days, we worked it out so that one week my husband did three days and mum two then the following week they swapped. Both had incredibly understanding bosses who allowed them the time to do this for me. Each Friday my appointment was earlier so that I could attend clinic afterwards to check my progress. More opportunity to practice being patient. There were blood tests and more x-rays. I was still weak but the pain had begun to ease. I was very anaemic and required a blood transfusion the day before my 39th birthday. I did suggest they choose the blood of someone who had been partaking of gin or vodka.

Weeks passed and I knew I was beginning to feel better. My six weeks of daily treatment were coming to an end and my consultant told me that they wanted me to have a few weeks break then I would be admitted for a few days while I was given a dose of internal radiation treatment. I wanted them to forget giving me a break and just get on with it, lets get this out of the way. They wouldn’t do this, my body had taken a real battering even if I didn’t realise it. My body needed time to get stronger before the next stage of my treatment. It wasn’t long before I realised the wisdom of this.

Even now I don’t understand this but my treatment had made me so sore down below that each time I passed water it burnt so badly as though I had an open wound. One of the worst experiences there are. Then weeks later I was admitted onto one of the oncology wards. I had a single ground floor room with a tree outside my window. My room was very basic but I did have a tv although as I was to discover the remote didn’t work which meant every time I wanted to watch something I had to get a member of staff to do this for me as I was near enough immobile on my bed. The next three days were possibly the worst of my life. I was taken into theatre where three nuclear rods were inserted into my vagina whilst I was under general anaesthetic. With these rods inside me I couldn’t move much as their presence caused me a great deal of pain. For the duration of this treatment I was effectively radioactive. Visitors were at a minimum and those who could come in had to stand behind a large lead screen so I could just about see their head above it for the allotted 5 minutes. My boys were not allowed on the ward. Staff could only be in my room for a maximum of 10 minutes during any one shift. The constant sickness caused by the anaesthetic didn’t help this situation.

Finally the prescribed time came to an end and on the third evening I was given morphine so that I would be better able to cope with the pain as the rods and the accompanying packing materials were removed. What a relief that was to be able to turn over and sleep on my side. Next day I was told I would be able to go home providing the sickness had stopped. It had diminished but not cleared up completely but I managed to hide it from the staff so that I could be discharged.

That was the end of my treatment but not the end of the agony for me. Our life was still in limbo as we waited for more tests, more scans, another operation to examine my cervix to determine if all the cancer cells had been eradicated. Finally after months I was given the all clear on 19th September 2001. I thought this would mean that my life would no longer be affected by my cancer. I was wrong. The cancer itself was gone but now there were the Dr’s appointments, hysterectomy clinic appointments, hormone implants 3 monthly check ups at the hospital. I still couldn’t get back to a healthy diet. I couldn’t go anywhere without knowing where the nearest toilet was and that I could get to it quickly and easily. Before I could go anywhere I needed to take precautions which often left me doubled up with constipation. I was left with very little control over my body functions, when I needed to go I needed to be quick. But gradually over the months it did begin to improve. I still find that eating fruit can be unwise but I am no longer afraid of it.

The weight I had lost at the start of my treatment soon piled back as I continued my non fibre diet but lacked the energy to do much so didn’t burn off. Now all these years later I still have bladder and bowel problems. The cancer has not returned for which I am grateful. It took six years before I was officially signed off from hospital checks. There have been a couple of occasions when I have been ill and had to under go tests to make sure it wasn’t cancer back again. 

I am fully aware that I was very lucky to get the treatment I did when I did. My tumour (which at the time was described as being the size of an orange) I later learnt was 7cm x 8cm x 7cm. No wonder I was in pain. Others were not so lucky. If I had been given a smear test sooner maybe I wouldn’t have had such invasive treatment. Please please be vigilant and get any changes in your body checked out.