Thursday, 11 August 2011

Seven & a half weeks seems like a very long time ...

Today my husband is currently en route to hospital for his second session of radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer. He has to have a 10 minute blast each week day for the next 7½ weeks. He is behaving very calmly about the whole situation but I know him quite well. He’s frightened and that fear is, understandably, causing him to behave in more of an irritable fashion than usual. He looks and feels very tired but, at the moment, is insisting on carrying on “as usual” work-wise which, in one way, is laudable but I’m not hugely certain that wearing himself out is a brilliant idea when undergoing a treatment that can, amongst other side-effects, cumulatively make one feel exhausted.

We have been enormously lucky in receiving so many messages of good luck and kind wishes for his well-being from friends all over the world. I’ve been really rather overwhelmed by emails, messages on Twitter, calls from friends.

The sad fact is that I had to remind my husband’s own siblings that it would be good of them to contact him to find out how he’s doing. I received but one response to this reminder … my husband’s older brother emailed to request that I shouldn’t be so condescending. The dichotomy of having so many good wishes from friends makes his family’s behaviour seem all the more aggravating to me. I resolve not to give this too much priority but, that said, I’ve been up all night not only worrying about my husband but also prickling with indignation about his dysfunctional family.

This diary clearly isn’t only going to be about how my husband is coping with his treatment but also how I am feeling about it from day-to-day. I’m not going to spout rude words herein but suffice it to say that it would be a damned sight easier for me to deal with my husband’s fear than it is to navigate nervously around his denial. He and his family are so controlled (and, indeed, controlling) but I must remember that everyone deals with problems in their own way. Just now my husband’s way seems completely alien to me.

If anyone would care to scream on my behalf, I would be very grateful.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

I'm having a bit of a worry ...

I’m having a bit of a worry …

On 1st January 2011, I wrote my last blog post … I didn’t exactly make any New Year’s Resolutions but I did say that I was going to write 200 words each day until those words became a book. I haven’t done that. Other things took over, the 200 words each day were abandoned and instead I became involved in learning about nearly every NHS geriatric ward in the environs of North East London and Essex which now all seems pretty pointless because my 90 year old father died anyway.

That sounds very churlish but, let’s face it, 90 year old gentlemen (and he was a GENTLE man) who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease and leukaemia tend not to get better and many of my daily visits were spent having one-sided conversations conducted in a jolly voice with someone who wasn’t ever going to respond. Sometimes I missed a day or two of visiting but then guilt got the better of me and once again I would sit at the bedside of a hallucinating nonagenarian and try for 30 minutes or an hour to make everything sound okay with his world. He died on 11th May and, sad as I am, it really and truly was for the best.

I should, at this point, also add … with just a tinge of spitefulness in my fingertips … that I believe if the NHS in this area had got its act together, his life may have been prolonged, with considerably more dignity than was the reality, for a while longer but, heck – what’s the point? He was shunted from pillar to post and back to pillar again. Each ward to which he was admitted had no idea of what his medications should have been, what his name was or indeed where he had come from. I made an official complaint to the NHS which was only answered after my MP prompted the Trust to respond – and I received that response a week or so after his demise. I write follow-up letters in my head night after night but none of them will get printed or sent because none of them will bring my Pa back.

In the middle of the marathon bout of hospital visiting, I had a bit more bad news … my husband has been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. He’s been having “wee problems” for about 3 years but is an extremely stubborn bugger and wouldn’t go to the Doctor – so, instead of having an enlarged prostate or even Stage 1 Prostate Cancer, he now has Stage 2 Prostate Cancer and is at home preparing for 7½ weeks of radiotherapy which we hope will see the cancer on its way. The good people of Twitter know my husband as OP which stands for Old Peculiar and, to the good people of Twitter, he IS old … he’s even older than I am and I am Methuselah and he IS peculiar – but so am I, so I guess we’re quite well-matched in an odd sort of a way. But he ISN’T that old and I have had enough of illness this year and I don’t want anything awful to happen to him. I just don’t. And stamping my feet and having a tantrum doesn’t solve anything at all but that’s exactly what I feel like doing – because it’s JUST NOT FAIR. He is a mild man, often an awkward sod and not as kind as people who meet him think he is, but he is mine and I want him to be well and happy and carry on being my husband and my son’s father.

And NOW look what I’ve done … I’ve made myself cry. And I am not supposed to do that.

To top it all, I have had to grow up … in the mother stakes. Josh, about whom I tweet frequently, is now 14 years old and he is on his first extended holiday away from home ever. He has spent an odd night away here and there but now he is away for a fortnight in the Middle East.

WHAT? Do I hear people cry “THE MIDDLE EAST”? Yes, dears … that most dangerous of countries in the Middle East … you know – the one that allows women to drive, doesn't make them walk 3 paces behind their husbands covered from head to toe in black burkhas, doesn't stone them if they happen to have sex before they're married or play away from home once they are, the one that doesn’t shoot its own citizens if they have a demonstration, the one that has proper democratic elections without the need of an Arab Spring to overthrow its despotic leaders … the one that is demonised by nearly every medium possible … Israel. I WILL say that most of its citizens are desperate for peace with its neighbours but make the dreadful mistake of voting in politicians whom, because they have a good command of English (albeit "American English"), they seem to think are "statesmen" when all that they really are, are warmongers with a good command of the English language.

And that's the little country that Josh is visiting. And I am missing my kid. I behaved disgracefully yesterday after I’d waved him off at 6.30am … I went out with a friend for a very non-kosher fried breakfast, came home, took 2 Temazepam and slept for nearly 24 hours … so I wouldn’t miss him at school out time or at breakfast time this morning. It worked for those 24 hours but I’d really only deferred the utter misery of not having him around and I feel positively ghastly tonight.

I miss him coming downstairs at 9.00pm to assure me that he’s going to have a shower “any minute”. I feel bereft at not having to remind him at 10.30pm that “any minute” does not, in fact, comprise 90 minutes and would he PERLEEEZ go and have a shower NOW.

I miss him interrupting my ‘phone calls. I could be on the ‘phone to the Queen herself but if Josh wants to talk to me … it would matter not. He talks. I scream at him and still he talks. I don’t listen to him and STILL HE TALKS. I miss him at 7.30am when he wakes up and demands “Mum, BE SARCASTIC … teach ME how to be sarcastic”. He doesn’t understand that I can’t help being sarcastic and I can’t switch it on or off like an electric light. And he doesn’t understand something much more important than that … sarcasm doesn’t win anyone any friends. I guess it takes an excess of 50 years on this planet to learn that for oneself.

I miss his jokes … even the ones that aren’t funny. I miss him changing his clothes 11 times after he comes home from school or 14 times on Saturdays and Sundays. I miss him saying “Yuch” to whatever I cook and then eating 2 helpings of everything. I miss him thinking he’s conning me when, in fact, I know EXACTLY how much chocolate he eats and how many cans of diet Coke he drinks. I miss him rapping tunelessly. I miss him following me around with his video camera. I miss him most dreadfully.

And I am very proud of myself because I now know what MY Ma went through when I went anywhere. I was an only child too and she was an uber-protective mother but she bit her tongue, gritted her teeth and didn’t wrap me in cotton wool and that is exactly how I try to be with Josh. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t. But sure as hell – in these two weeks, he will be having the time of his life and it actually doesn’t matter how much I miss him because HIS independence matters so much more than my misery.

My Ma used to say to me about kids … “When they’re babies they make your arms ache and when they grow up they make your heart ache”.

She was very wise, was my Ma … and while I’m at it – I miss her too.

So … I’m having a bit of a worry. Usually, I stay in my shell when I’m miserable. I don’t tweet much because I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, I can do it all by myself. But tonight? Well, tonight, I just have to tell you how utterly and completely wretched I feel.

I bloody hope my next blog post is happier!

Thank you for reading. Please pass the Kleenex.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

A Little Bit of Honesty to Start 2011

Okay, so 2011 is the year that I have decided to call myself a writer and am committing to write at least 200 words a day so that by 31-12-11, I will have 73,000 words and something that can be mangled into a book. At the moment, most of the words that are in my head are "and", "but", "the" and "ergo" but the longer ones will come and the story is there. I am not going to tell you the longer ones until they're finished but, Dear Blog Readers and Twitter friends, please nag me because I need every bit of encouragement I can get!

2010 was a hell of a year. It started, as most years do, on 1st January which was momentous as that was the day that I moved with my son to London in order for him to start at his new school. That move nearly split my marriage but the gods of dead controlling mothers-in-law must have been grimacing at me because husband and I still appear to be together! My instincts weren't awry. The school in Bournemouth that I took my son out of is now officially failing and the lovely journos at The Bournemouth Echo pointed out an article about it published on 14th December 2010. On the last day of 2010, they pointed me in the direction of a further article written about a local Bournemouth councilor's views on Bournemouth education. I despair. I offered to write an article for them 14 months ago which perhaps could have benefited Bournemouth kids in achieving the education that ALL kids deserve but The Echo's editor was "a bit nervous" about it. It's not my place to ask why but, heck, I'd like to edit that newspaper! The journos there deserve a bit of bravery! That article became my blog ... "The Lunatics are Running the Asylum". 14 months is a long time for any kid to have a rotten education and the journos at the Echo must have found their editor's decision NOT to go with my article rather frustrating. Never mind, my son is now happily installed in a most wonderful London school and is thriving. It doesn't stop me from feeling bad about the kids he left behind at the school from which I removed him.

My blogs in the past year have been spasmodic to put it mildly - not least because I've been busy getting son settled into his new environment, buying a house and generally getting used to living back in London. Well, I say London ... we're in Essex. At some stage I will get it out of my head that I'm no longer a NW8 girl or even a SW7 girl and at some point in the near future I will, in order to fit in, have to dye myself orange and start speaking broad Essex. This is never going to happen. I may live in Essex but the accent won't adhere and nor will the colour be tangoed!

Twitter has remained a lifeline for me and I still join in as much as I can ... but I've discovered a few realities about myself. 140 characters are not enough to be anything other than completely honest. The bullshit shows through so very clearly and I've hardened myself to the fact that I have a very long memory and am pathologically incapable of not checking facts. I don't think I am anything other than the person I am in real life when I tweet or blog. I don't pretend and I don't bullshit and in 2011, if my followers do, then they can expect me to pull them up on it. I'm all for "creative writing" but if someone blogs about something as FACT and it isn't, then it sort of makes my skin crawl. Write creatively, by all means, but head it up with "I made this up" so everyone knows where they stand.

Can I manage without Twitter? Of course I can, and in the next year, I will be so doing as writing a couple of hundred words a day is going to restrict my time there but, I'll be around because I would miss my friends too much not to be.

So 2011 is starting on a very honest note. If that honesty upsets anyone then I apologise but honest I am and honest I will be.

I wish you all the 2011 that you wish for yourselves. Mainly I wish for health, happiness and peace for us all. (Oh & I also wish for people whose careers are writing schtick to stick to that and give themselves a quick kick in the shins if they start writing about politics about which they know nothing ... but that's a story for another day!).