What they don’t tell you

As I have said before as in my last post, in 2001 I was diagnosed with stage III cervical cancer. In September (just a week or so after 9/11) I was given the all clear. My treatment had been successful. Yippee, hurray, I got my life back. I remember one of my boys saying “I’ve got my mummy back”. It was a time to celebrate.

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What they didn’t tell me (I was told a few people have long term bowl/bladder problems). I would from then on be terrified of food that I had always loved. I look at the fruit bowl with longing. Grannie smith apples beckon to me with their glistening green peel. Crisp pears appeal to me. Peanuts and Cashews tempt me. In short anything with fibre is dangerous to me. Last week I treated myself to a small handfull of dried fruit in the evening. I woke up in agony and had to rush to the toilet not quite getting there in time.

I can and do occasionally eat small amounts of the foods I desire but fear. I have to plan when I can eat these things ie when I don’t expect to be out of the house for long the next day. Going for long walks are a thing of the past unfortunately. Apart from the time the activity makes my bowels work harder.

As I talked about in my last post ” the cost of surviving cancer” my bladder is badly damaged and I am now awaiting major surgery to make my life better. However over the last 18 years although my bladder has been a problem it has been my bowels that have made my life so difficult. It is only the last year that my bladder has over taken my bowel problems.

This doesn’t mean that my bowel problems have become less annoying. For 18 months until this April I was delivering parcels for a living. Not the best career for someone with my problems. I would be working when I would get a feeling and have to make a mad dash either home or to the nearest place where I could use the public toilets. I didn’t always get there in time even though it might have only taken me 5 minutes. Many times I only get seconds let alone minutes notice that my body is about to eject it’s contents. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have needed to get completely changed and showered. During the years I worked in an office there were times I had to dash home to get cleaned up.

I love to wear pretty clothes, skirts, dresses, bright colours. I have had to learn to wear clothes that are dark (black or navy trousers) long tops that camoflage any accidents that may occur.

I wonder how many women would think twice about not being tested for cervical cancer if they knew that apart from the treatment which can be harrowing. If they knew that their reluctance to under go the indignity of a smear test could lead to a life like mine.

During the months of treatment there are rules that have to be adhered to. There are reasons for these seemingly odd rules. When I attended my first radiotherapy session (following weeks of tests measurements, scans etc) I was given a list of foods I couldn’t eat. Basically I could only eat food that is generally considered to be unhealthy. I still keep to this diet now because my body gives me no choice. I couldn’t wear perfume. Showers were out. Baths had to be luke warm and no bath oil or bubbles. How disconcerting to be laying in a luke warm bath with nothing to hide the floating hair. I didn’t lose the hair on my head as I didn’t have chemo, but the hair on my body.

How many women would willingly put themselves through all this for the sake of a five minute appointment if they knew what they were letting themselves in for.

I know I am lucky to be alive, others didn’t make it, however I wouldn’t wish anyone to live this way if they can avoid it.

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.

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.

Less is more

Things have been better this week. I have been busy at work and there have been a couple of days when I didn’t need to sleep all afternoon. I have had some very early nights though. 9pm one evening and even 8.30 a few days ago.

I am beginning to feel more like getting things organised and added a further 5 bags of clothes to the clothes bank yesterday. Does anyone need any clothes hangers, I am sure mine have been breeding! How did I ever have so many clothes that I didn’t have enough hangers? No longer working in an office and losing 3 stone in weight has meant that most of the clothes I had are no longer suitable. These days I live in a few pairs of leggings and a couple of pairs of jeans some t-shirts and jumpers. Living the simple life as far as clothes are concerned.

Communications with my husband have turned a corner too. I have not had a nasty message for a week! Instead he is starting to tell me that he misses/loves me and wants me back. He has begun talking about the future being a journey and would I join him? I have had to tell him that a few conversations are not enough, it is going to take time. I need to know that he has stopped drinking (not just for a week or too but for much longer). I need to know that he has given himself the chance to accept support not just from me but from others who can give him more help than I can. I also need him to take on more financial responsibility and not leave 90% on my shoulders.

He is putting the house up for sale, he has had various valuations and decided who he wants to use. He tells me that he won’t be staying in this country. Currently he is talking about Spain, which was our plan 6 months ago. I am not sure I can join him on that journey any more. Maybe if he does go out there and things are harmonious between us I might visit. I don’t think I would move out there now.stock-vector-hanger-black-icon-vector-illustration-155568137

Dodging the bins

Today the weather has been wet and windy. I don’t normally mind the wind, the rain I can cope with depending on where I am and what I am doing.

Being a Wednesday I was out delivering parcels ( I do this Monday to Saturday). It was damp but not too wet as I loaded my car with the parcels for the day. I guess I was about a quarter of the way through my round when the weather picked up. I don’t mind rain, my hair was cut short yesterday so I wasn’t too worried about the weather effect on my hair, I’m not so keen on the rain on my glasses which I now wear all day.

Once or twice I found that the wind was becoming troublesome when opening/closing doors. One door to a block of flats slammed in the wind almost pulling my arm out of its socket but I soon recover from the shock of that. Later in my round the wind was getting stronger, it just so happens that Wednesday is the day each week that the wheelie bins are emptied on my round. I am used to dodging the truck as it makes its way through the streets I am attempting to make my deliveries to. Today I had the added problem of bins that had  been relieved of their contents suddenly racing across roads into my path.

How many of you have experienced this ?wheelie bin

It’s a wrap

Feeling rather weak after my delivery round whilst suffering from a rotten cold, I am beginning to get my appetite back. I fancied making a cheese and beetroot sandwich providing that the bread I bought last week hasn’t gone off.

Surprisingly when I got home my husband was sat in the kitchen watching tv and drinking beer. He made me a cup of tea for which I  am grateful, and said he had bought me some lunch. I was then presented with a plate containing a wrap. I so appreciate the effort but when he told me it was my favourite I was excited to eat a mexican chicken wrap. What I found in front of me was southern fried chicken. We have been together for over 6 years, surely by now he must know that I never ever eat southern fried chicken of any description from any source.

I have lost count of the number of times we have discussed which wraps I like and which I don’t. I would rather he didn’t bother, than get it wrong every time.

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Hiatus

I know I have been absent for many months, partly because I had nothing to say. Partly because I didn’t have the time or energy. That doesn’t mean that I hadn’t thought about writing.

I have had a bad last 12 months or so including much ill health (for me) and accidents (my husband). After months of poor health (almost housebound for months), I suddenly started to get better at the end of June. Nobody is more surprised than I am that after finding it very difficult to just walk from one room to the next, I am now averaging a daily step count in excess of 12,000 steps.

In September we jointly took on a part time job delivering parcels. Ha ha I say jointly, but the reality is that I do this 97% on my own. My husband has been out with me a few times but has never managed to stick it out from the beginning to the end of the round. On the few occasions he has attempted to assist me, I have ended up leaving him in a pub whilst I complete the round.

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