Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oh dear.....

Since I had been having a few better days earlier this week, I decided to do a bit of tidying in my kitchen cupboards. This was a long overdue and much needed task, but one of those jobs that I always put off. Kind of like the ironing!

I had so many biscuit tins in my cupboards that it was unbelievable. Most of them empty, I am afraid to say. I used to bake when I was feeling better, so those tins were often filled with some home-made goodies. Now they just contained crumbs or shop bought biscuits.

I was trying to get a bit more organization into the cupboard, so some tins just had to go. As I lifted a tin from the back, I heard the rattle of a biscuit inside. I opened it to find a shortbread biscuit. A home-made shortbread biscuit! Why there was a single biscuit left in the tin, I don't know. Normally when home-made cakes or biscuits are in the house, they disappear kind of quickly. And normally, when we eat the second last biscuit, we say that it wouldn't be fair to leave one single one all by itself in the would get lonely! So I don't quite know why one was left. Perhaps I left it for Ian. Perhaps Ian left it for me. I don't know.

One of Ian's favourites too - a round shortbread, rolled in demerara sugar, just the way my Gran used to make them. Her biscuit tin was always full of them. My other Gran used to make the more traditional Scottish shortbread, equally delicious, but I tend to make that only at New Year. She taught me how to make it when I was a young girl and I cherish those memories standing in her kitchen, kneading the shortbread dough with her.

But anyway, that poor old shortbread biscuit......I have not got a clue how old it was. I haven't baked for months. I'm quite sure I haven't baked this year. Oh dear.....yes, oh dear, that biscuit could be six month old maybe. Maybe less. But possibly more! So I am afraid it went into the bin. I am surprised that it didn't just jump out of the tin and into the bin by itself!

It might not have been eaten when it was supposed to be eaten, but that wee shortbread biscuit still gave me some enjoyment when I found it as it brought back some lovely memories of both my Grans.

Note that I still haven't tackled my ironing pile, and there may well be clothes in there which have been there for as long as that lonely shortbread biscuit lived in that tin. Hmm......well, another little while won't harm them then, will it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Picture it........the sun is shining, you are happy, but you cannot ignore that big grey cloud threatening to ruin the day.

That’s what chronic pain is like. Even on a good day, you live with a fear that it could all change suddenly.

That is what trigeminal neuralgia and other chronic illnesses do to people. We either seem to live in pain, or live in fear of being in pain.

Recently, I have had a few reasonably good days. The pain never leaves, but it is not nearly so bad. But, as I am going about the house singing my heart out, at the back of my mind, there is a niggling fear that it could just change at any minute.

Today I am trying to tell myself to forget that fear. Just enjoy it. I reckon I cope with the bad days pretty well, but when I get a good one, it’s silly to ruin it because of a niggling fear that it will turn bad.

So I will keep singing my heart out. I will sing as loudly as I can. Because that’s what I do when I’m happy.

The fact that I can’t sing a note in tune doesn’t make a jot of difference.

Well, maybe it does to Ian....

Yes, poor Ian.... I always sing when I am happy.  Sometimes I even sing when I am in pain. But on a day like today, I sing. I sing non-stop. I sing loudly. Actually, I probably sound as though I am in pain! But I don’t care......I like to sing. I even sing with a silly voice sometimes. I even sing with silly words because I don’t know the real words. I just like to sing.

Okay, truth be told, it's not poor Ian at all. He actually joins in with me. So maybe he really does enjoy my singing. Either that or he joins in to drown me out.

Probably just as well we live at the end of a valley with no neighbours!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Body Shop

A friend on a forum mentioned yesterday that she could be doing with a new leg. There were a few replies from others saying that they could use a new brain, new back etc.

Just like cars need a new set of tyres and exhausts, we could all do with new body parts too. Wouldn’t it be good if we could just walk into a body parts shop and replace the bits and pieces which give us bother.

Imagine you’re out for your shopping, and in between the butcher’s and the greengrocer’s, there it is........the Spare Body Parts Shop.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for a new leg, 30 inches long, about this wide.....”

“Right or left Madam?”  Well, it would need to be right, wouldn’t it. Couldn’t go about with two left feet, could we?

“None in stock at the moment......need to order that up for you. Will be in next week.” Wow what a service!

A new back....a new face......oh that sounds just like a dream come true. 

I’m sure replacement body parts would cost a fortune or even.....yes, wait for arm and a leg! (Sorry, just had to get that in)

But I’m sure it would be worth it to a lot of people.
Do you dread getting out of bed? 
Is your hip giving you gyp?
Is that shoulder making you feel older?
A brain causing pain?
Worry no more, just pop to our store
For legs, brains & backs and much, much more..........

Friday, April 13, 2012


Everyone who knows me knows that I do try to smile even though I am hurting. But occasionally I do have off-days. On one of my recent off days I wrote a poem. A very long poem, called Normality.

I was feeling very sorry for myself at the time and started thinking about some of the things which have gone wrong over my life. Then my doorbell rung. A friend had decided on the spur of the moment to come to see me. Almost instantly, my mood lifted. It was a much needed visit!

I really don't have days like that too often. I just tend to get a smile on my face and work my way through the day. But it was just so nice to get that surprise visit the other day.

I finished my poem when I was in a better frame of mind and have decided to put it here. I'm not putting it here to look for sympathy. Sympathy doesn't help me. I'm actually putting it here in the hope that it might help some other people who are also going through tough times. We all find our own ways of coping with our problems. And no matter how bad a problem seems at the time, we can get through them. Somehow, we get through them.


I think it began with my back
I was ten
It decided to grow out of shape
I got worse after that
The scoliosis affected my pelvis
I can remember praying
Yes, praying
That I could just be normal
Just let me wake up and be normal
That’s all I wanted
It’s not what I got

I always felt kind of strange
An oddity
But it became worse, not better
The migraines started
Blind spots and sparkling lights
Afterwards, the headache
I was thirteen
Painful joints started too
Knees occasionally, fingers were worst
I wanted normality
It’s not what I got

That twisted back became painful
I was still at school
Sitting in classrooms I felt it burn
I tried to ignore it
I pretended it wasn’t there
I was still praying
For normality
I didn’t want to be like this
Just let me wake up and be normal
That’s all I wanted
It’s not what I got

I got checked out for Marfan’s
I didn’t have it, but I was Marfan-like
I had some of the symptoms
One was a mitral valve prolapse
Amongst the other things
Why me?
What was going on?
Please, just let me be normal
Why can’t I be normal?
I’ve never had that

The back pain got much worse
Much worse
I certainly couldn’t ignore it
It kept making me faint
The muscles were in spasm
I could hardly move
I was only about twenty-four
Now I prayed that the pain would go
That’s all I wanted
It’s not what I got

Heart palpitations started at the same time
My heart raced
It pounded like it would jump out my body
It could last for a minute
Or as long as two hours or more
Came on for no reason
No reason at all
It was frightening. Scary
Once a week, sometimes more
Was this normal?
Certainly not

The headaches were getting worse
I was under 25
Not always blind spots or sparkling lights
But my face was hurting too
Just constant pain on my head and face
And my teeth. They hurt like mad
Like torture
The doctors said it was migraine
The dentist, well he said it was normal
Actually I know now
It was the start of TN

There have been a few other things along the way
Like Raynaud’s
Plenty of aches and pains, from my ribs to my toes
The shoulders and neck
It just seems that my life has been full of pain
Pain is just part of my life
It’s normal
No point in praying to be normal
Living with pain IS normal for me
I wanted normality
But not like this

So what did I do to deserve all this
That’s right.....I did absolutely nothing
I don’t deserve this pain
But I’ve got it. And I need to smile through it
That’s my way of coping
Not by praying
It didn’t change things for all those years
It didn’t take my pain away or straighten my spine
That was what I wanted
But that wasn’t what I got

Life can be very unfair sometimes
There is no ‘one size fits all’ for everyone
So everyone is normal
Even me, with my odd back and all my pain
And trust me, there are people much worse
And they’re normal too
So now I don’t pray to be normal
I don’t pray for my pain to be taken away
I laugh. I smile. I stay happy
I cope with my pain that way

I never look ahead to the future
I can’t
I’m sure it would frighten me if I tried
I’ve enough to deal with the present
So I try to just deal with today
Pain is just part of my life
That is normality
So I smile, I laugh, I stay happy
Because that is just how I deal with my pain
I smile, I laugh, I stay happy
But sometimes, I just say ‘why?’

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Dad

Today is my Dad's birthday. He is seventy-nine......not that you would know it. He certainly doesn't look that age. He has a perfectly full head of hair. With not a single grey to be shown.  He probably makes a few men a fraction of his age a wee bit jealous of what he has growing on his head. And more than a few women. (Including yours truly!)

But, I don't just love him because of his hair. My Dad is a special man. Very quiet, he keeps himself in the background, but should anyone need his help, he is right there. He's always been like that.

I'm not having a very good time with my pain just now, otherwise I would have been down to see him today. I feel bad that I'm not there to say happy birthday to him in person, but he understands.

He always understands.

He has lived most of his life with chronic back pain too, so he really does understand pain.

I hope he has a lovely birthday today. I know my sister will do her best to make it a special day for him.


I wanted to add this photo.

This is the birthday cake which my niece and her friend made for my Dad yesterday.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter

When I was a wee girl, Easter didn’t mean lots of chocolate eggs.

It meant decorating a boiled egg then going to the nearest hill, and rolling the egg down from the top. Then of course, I ate the egg, no matter what it was covered in, even if the shell had burst on the way down. I peeled off the remnants of the shell, the grass and who knows whatever else, then enjoyed my egg.

A few years ago when we moved here, my niece and nephew came here to do the same. Plenty of hills to choose from, we all decorated our eggs, then off we went. This was a sight to be seen. My Mum, then in her early seventies, climbed a hill with my niece, nephew, Red, the dog and the eggs.

My Dad, my sister, her husband, Ian and myself all stood at the bottom to cheer them on.

So, the first egg was dog saw it and immediately ran after it, caught up with it before it even got half-way down the hill, crunched through the shell and ate it. Then the second egg came......oh, this was a great game for Red. A bit disappointing for my niece and nephew as they didn’t get the chance to see their eggs roll all the way to the bottom, but what a laugh we had that day.

By the time the fourth egg was on it’s way, I was shouting to hold Red back. “No more eggs!”

Everyone just laughed, “But he’s having fun!!!!” I couldn’t argue with that. He was having fun. We were all having fun.

But let me tell wasn’t much fun in our house later that night. There was a rather unpleasant smell in the air!

Happy Easter to all my friends. But, please don't eat too many eggs at one sitting, whether they be the chocolate or the plain old boiled variety.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Bring Out The Violins.....Nah, Don't Bother

Sometimes I feel like I am teetering on the edge. The edge of what, I don’t quite know. About to scream?  About to burst into floods of tears? Or about to go to bed and sleep for the rest of the day? The third option is probably the one I’ll go for. I do that sometimes. Well, actually, I do that quite a lot. I never actually burst into floods of tears. And I don’t scream. Well, I did when I fell that time and cracked my ribs on the wardrobe. But that’s probably the only time.

I guess I am feeling sorry for myself.  I try to avoid that, but some days, I can’t help but feel life isn’t very fair. I know it’s not fair for a lot of people. But I am not superhuman, so this does get to me sometimes.

I do try to stay positive all the time, but sometimes that is hard work. I know I have lots of things to be grateful for in life.....but sometimes.....just sometimes, I can’t help but think about what chronic pain has taken away from me.

Life has always been different. Most of the time it has been kind of matter of fact that I just couldn’t do things because of the pain. I just accepted it. Took it all in my stride. No screaming and shouting.....I just got on with it. I even laughed things off.

People can be stupid sometimes.......actually insensitive. Way back after giving up work through ill health, I remember a friend saying that he thought I should take up child-minding. Great money in it, he said. Ahem.....ok, so I wasn’t fit to work as a clerical officer, but you think I’d be ok for child minding? Ian and I didn’t have children ourselves, because for starters,  we didn’t know what a pregnancy would have done to my back, but common sense told us it would get worse and I just wasn’t going to be fit enough to look after a baby, let alone once that baby gets to the toddling stage. One of those ‘head must rule the heart’ decisions.

But those big things.....I didn’t let them beat me down. Obviously I had a lot of help getting over the big hurdles like those of not having children and giving up work. Ian and I were in that together. He kind of knew what he was getting when he got married to me. He knew about the pain. He couldn’t not know about it. And even back then, he tried to keep me smiling throughout it. “In sickness and in health.....” I do remember him making a funny face at me when we came to that line in our wedding vows. I’m surprised I didn’t start giggling through the service.

But pain has tried to take away so many of the smaller things too. Hobbies that I have, then the pain gets too much, so I need to stop. Jewellery making, needlework, card making, painting. Then there’s the cooking and baking. Unless you are in pain, you don’t appreciate how much making a plate of plain old mince and tatties hurts.

I still try to do some of these things. Yes, there is pain.....but I want to do things sometimes. I don’t want to just lie about and do nothing. I want to cook dinner sometimes, even though it hurts. I want to bake Ian his favourite apple and cinnamon cake sometimes. I want to make my Dad a birthday card. I want to draw. I want to get the paintbrushes out again. And I will......sometime.

The problem is that now it’s not just pain that prevents me from doing things. The high doses of medication for the trigeminal neuralgia come with their own problems. With every increase, or change there comes a new set of side effects ranging from tiredness to twitches. I desperately want to draw but just now I can’t keep my fingers steady. They shake and they twitch at random, so maybe not the time to be picking up the pencils. I could just see me trying to draw Red, my labrador, and he would look like a curly haired poodle. Think he would be quite offended.

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Well, I did start the day feeling sorry for myself.....wrote this, but didn’t publish it in my blog. I wasn’t sure if I should. I am not looking for sympathy.

But, I had a long sleep this afternoon, and woke up feeling better. So, maybe the sleep helped. Maybe me writing about how I was feeling helped. I don’t really know what helped. I don’t really care. I am back to being me......back to just accepting that my life has to be like this. And being positive.
 So I decided to publish it anyway. Just to let people see that everybody can have bad days. Everybody can feel sorry for themselves sometimes. But the main thing is that everybody can pick up again. Sometimes, you just need to get it out of your system.

Now, I wonder if anyone is wanting a portrait of a curly haired poodle..........