Today is ‘Thankful Thursday’

I am dedicating Thursday Blogs to being Thankful for my life. A quote, a song, a poem, something about my week, some thoughts aloud.

I have an album, ‘Society’ by Eddie Vedder and Jerry Hannan, written for Into the Wild. Every time I hear it, it gets me emotionally, perhaps because I have seen the film based upon Alexander Supertramp who died after giving up his money and possessions to live a life of solitude, or perhaps it is because it is Eddie Vedder singing it, or perhaps because it touches a cord somewhere.

Whenever I feel restless, unsatisfied with the things I have, or don’t have, when the green-eyed monster rears it’s ugly head from time to time at the ever-growing material success those around us appear to have as we stand still or even go backwards, when I want that bigger house, that garden, when I am frustrated that I am not getting to where I want to be quick enough,  I put this Album on (and clean the kitchen for some reason).

It brings me back to where I need to be. I grounds me. It reminds me why we don’t have that bigger house, that garden, those lovely things. Why our fridge is falling apart and we our cooker is not fully functioning. Because, we chose to do things differently to others, we chose our family, we chose our lives together, we chose in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer. We decided money is not of huge value to us, yes, important, we must eat and have clothes and a roof over our head, some nice experiences, but not those things that so many people around us hanker for to the detriment of time.  I don’t want a bigger house. What for? to buy more things to put in it?  Why do I want a bigger, faster car? to use more fuel in, spend more money insuring, be more likely to drive fast and crash? why do I want an expensive rug? for the kids to ruin with milk and cookies, to have the cats throw up on it, to have to spend lots of money cleaning it? R and I often talk about ‘downsizing’! to a yurt. I would so love to do that, chuck it all away, all the crap, the shit. How utterly wonderful would that be? I could not do what McCandless did and disappear completely, not with the children, but taking it all back a little? It would be Good for us.

I am thankful that I can remind myself of where I actually want to be in life. Right here, with the people who matter most to me. I am so so lucky I have had the opportunity to live the life I have had with my family, to be part of their lives, for R to have some time with them when he was made redundant. This last year has been so hard, I am thankful that I had not worked every hour that existed prior to this last year, that I had spent time with my family.

I am thankful my children are well, my husband is well, that I am relatively well, that we have food, and a roof over our head. That we are happy. If we had to strip it all back, all our material possessions, we would have the things that are most important to us. Our love, our friendship, our happiness.

I am so thankful that we are happy. Because, despite the toll of my shit health, I would not change my life. It isn’t perfect, but it is good. I got to keep hold of that Happiness and not lose it.

Below is a snippet from the song ‘Society’ from the Album of the same name. Sung by Eddie Vedder, written by Jerry Hannan in collaboration with Eddie Vedder. If you haven’t watched the film, you must do it.

(Live song here)

“It’s a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
And you think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all, you won’t be free

Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me

When you want more than you have, you think you need
And when you think more than you want, your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
Cause when you have more than you think, you need more space…”

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“They Fuck You Up, Your Mum and Dad…”

“…they may not mean to, but they do.”  This Be The Verse – Larkin.

I worry a lot about how my chronic pain is affecting the children and how it will in the future. R and I try to keep the day to day stuff discrete – I don’t advertise taking my medicine and R and I discuss serious stuff, complication, future plans, possible surgery/not surgery and my fears in private, I try not to show when I am very upset. But this pain is all-encompassing. It is ever-present no matter what ‘phase’ I am in. At best, I am cautious in what I do, how and when in case I relapse, at worst I can’t do anything because I have relapsed and am in pain. And there is no way of hiding this from my babies.

It breaks my heart when I cannot get up off the floor due to a back spasm and Summer Girl helps scoop me up. When she strokes my hair after I have been sick and asks me what I need. Admittedly she has always been a compassionate and empathic girl. I suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum with both my pregnancies, and more so with my Winter Boy. My Summer Girl was just 3 years old, and would be rubbing my back as I hurled into the Great White Telephone. I would be unable to stop her as I was ‘busy’ and she was soothing and reassuring even then. But then it was different, it was always going to pass, there was always going to be an end to that difficult patch (and it ended literally the moment the placenta was ‘born’ I almost immediately asked for coffee and toast having not really eaten for 9 months) and I could explain that to her with certainty. I can’t do that now, although I lie and tell her it will most definitely get better, just in a little while.

I am less concerned about Winter Boy. I mean yes it does affect him, he can’t always have cuddles and sometimes I get cross when he jumps on me from the top of the sofa, or bounces on my stomach and I have to stop him. He understands that if he kisses my back it will make it all better, and tells me he is going to look after me. But in time, should this situation ever resolve, it will hopefully leave his memories for better times.

But Summer Girl, she is 6. She understands so much more. She as memories already and this is forming a huge chunk of them right now. Last week she went to school in tears on several mornings, in particular on Wednesday, my Dark Day when I had to crawl to the toilet and cried from pain and vomiting. She did not want to go because she was scared to leave me. And this evening, having again witnessed me vomiting she was hushed away from me by R while crying hysterically ‘mama! mama! I want mama!’ and crying that she does not want me to be sick and have a bad back any more, and even as I threw up I cried at not being able to stop it coming up, so that I could go and hug her and tell her it will be ok.

I cannot make this go away for her. And It might not go away at all, if surgery is not viable this could remain for a long time. Years. And what memories will they have? of a sick mummy, who they had to be careful around, who had mood swings and who did not do what other mummies do? I cannot bear that their childhood is being clouded by this. It dominates everything at the moment. It was never meant to be like this for them. This is not their future. No. I am not going to let that happen. I have to change it.

So, having been torn in many directions regarding medication, and pressure from my GP to take it, I am not going to take the Pregabalin prescribed today, the nerve blocker that is just as likely to send me into a zombie like state and struggle to function any day of the week as the other never blockers. I am not willing to put my children through another 4-6 weeks of me trying adjusting to it, and for the side effects to mess us up even more than we are now, and I am going to find a way to accept some level of pain, manage the ups and downs differently and Get The Fuck Over It. Somehow. I will resolve myself to adjust to this properly, emotionally. For the sake of my children. I will still have good days and bad days, but if I am not high on medication every single waking hour, then I stand a chance of the good days being really good.

And then maybe the children will have memories of their mummy sometimes not being well but always happy and smiling, determined and fun, memories of their mummy being who she should be, not this shell of a woman who is here right now. And maybe I won’t fuck them up too much.

Lazy Days Help Back Pain Recovery.

The HallowEden Little Monster’s Ball was amazing. But my back is stiff and sore today. I have some nerve pain and am slightly stooped. R has been out helping a friend decorate their house and is then off to work. So we have watched many films, ending with the final film now on – the wonderful Arietty – to finish off our Lazy Thursday.

The pain is worth it. I stopped the nerve blocking pain for a couple of days to get rid of the foggy head. Then, yesterday afternoon after finishing work, I picked up my two Witch’s Kittens, and a Witch’s Cat, straightened my Very Own Cat Ears and so began our Halloween Road Trip.

In the howling wind and rain we drove into Deepest Darkest Cornwall eating spooky treats while the wipers swished and swashed the torrential rain away. As we drove slowly into the flooded roads of the Cornish Valley we vaguely considered turning back. But, no, it was meant to be like this surely, on Halloween?

30 minutes away from our final destination and the Biggest Witch’s Kitten started the ‘are we there yet?’ chant. And finally we arrived at The HallowEden Little Monster’s Ball. The Eden Project is an amazing sight from the hill any day of the week and our excitement rose seeing it in front of us as we walked the steep descent in the downpour toward the huge domes, following many other little witches, ghosts, cats and ghouls who had come out to wander the bios and spook people.

The youngest Witch’s Kitten had a catnap in the car and woke up grumpy, refused to walk. I left the stroller at home as it usually means pushing that and chasing the super fast kitkit. But not in the rain. He insisted on being carried for a reasonable amount of our trip, although he certainly had a whole lot of running done too.

The place was fantastic, with hanging lanterns and candles, amazing Steam Punk vampires, wizards and witches walking around, owls to stroke, bats to look at. We took a walk through the spooky pitch black rainforest with wolves howling and stumbled upon an old haunted Malaysian House, we made magic wands with Dragon Snot and Unicorn Snot and Fairy Dust. We ate Eyeball Pizza and Toffee Apples, and drank hot chocolate with marshmallow bobbing on the surface, had our faces painted and finished by listening to The Story Teller in the Wishcraft Tent, spinning amazing ghost stories – an old wizardy man with white hair and a tall wooden staff, sitting by in the most amazing grand wooden carved throne, with a couldron that started to produce white wisps of smoke when the children waved their wands. I watched the grim reaper walking through the crowds, towering, dark scary presence stopping people in their tracks, before making the slow ascent back to the car and driving back through the valley with Kittens whose gentle snores filled the car before we got out of Eden.

But, there is no better way to recover from back pain than double dose painkillers, popcorn, blankets and back to back films with my children before early nights for all.

Simply. My Daughter.

I was going to write down boring thoughts about my first day into my second week back at work, about my new £800 orthopaedic chair that arrived with a little blood pressure type thing at the back to adjust my lumbar pressure, about how spun out I was on my medication that I struggled to focus on conversations with colleagues and just hope they did not notice thanks to my fab think rimmed glasses (I knew there was a reason for this style of glasses).

I did not feel particularly inspired about it all. So I asked my 6 year old daughter what I should write about. ‘ME!’ she gushed and then bounced over to sit with me so she could see what magical words I was going to type. ‘what shall I say about you?’ ‘you can tell them I am beautiful and clever!’ she grinned. Well, I can, and I will. She is both beautiful and clever.

So this post is for Bella. She is the most adorable girl in the world.  She oozes fun and character. She beams her smile everywhere she goes, her hearty wild laughter and bold confident character reels people in and they fall in love with her. She is not big on tantrums although we have seen more of those in her 6th year than in any other year so far, she is great at arguing her point, questions and knows almost everything, but not as much as her teachers.

She loves fairies and all things princess, she loves pink things and fluffy things, angel wings and sparkles. Sometimes she loves nothing better than quiet time on her own with some of her small dollies and her dolls house, making up stories. She loves dancing and ballet. She also loves gold and silver which are her favourite colours, loves climbing up slides the wrong way, climbing trees in her favourite dress, riding her bike down hills as fast as she can go, even though she is still learning. Her favourite ‘celebrities’ are Tom Daley as she wants to be an Olympic diver, and Moe Farah because she thinks he is handsome.

She is a risk-taker – she broke her arm aged 5 trying to climb ‘big boy’ monkey bars, snapped both bones in her wrist, luckily straightforward to fix without surgery. Admittedly she shed some rare tears then, but not for very long. After the initial shock of the fall,  being brave when they pushed the bone back in place, only using gas & air to help with the pain, she was more upset about not getting a pink cast and not going to sleep for an operation and it did not slow her down. She loves adrenalin rushes, fast things, high things, crazy things. She gets very excited very easily and sometimes has to be asked to slow down as she wants it done now. not tomorrow. not next week. now.

Bella is a bookworm. We have read to her from the moment she was born. R loves books too and reading bedtime stories was something he was able to do during the first few months of newborn breastfeeding and Mummy Hogging The Baby. She reads everything now ‘the switch has clicked’ she reads signs, graffiti, magazines, books and I now have to hide newspapers from her, so she does not see the whole “JS” business, or guns,or photos and stories stories of death and violence. Although I am not sure how much longer I can keep things in the news from her as she pays a whole lot of attention to things around her and takes more in that I realise.

Today was the first day of her half term and while I spent it at work checking out my new fancy gadgets on the Expensive Chair, she went horse-riding, with one of her best friends, her best friend’s daddy, R and Roo. Her best friend’s nanny lives on a farm and owns two horses and she gave them both a ‘lesson’. She got soaked and muddy and had the ‘best day ever’. This evening she had the biggest bubbliest bath that even I envied, although it was short lived because her two-almost-three year old brother shared it with her and inevitably ended in tears. After her bath she snuggled with her mama for a story , a lovely story about a mermaid from a beautifully illustrated book – ‘Magical Fairy Tales’.

But not before she brushed my hair and massaged my head for much longer than she wanted. That was The Deal. I write about her and she massages my hair. Not a Bad Way to end my day.

I Rocked the Crazy Train! I Am Now in Pain.

I stand in front of the crowd. They jump and clap to my rocking notes, as I tap my foot and rock to the music. I am a Rock Goddess of the highest order, giving my crowd an amazing show. With sweat dripping down my face I end with a 5 star performance.

I take a bow, rip the guitar from around my neck and throw it to my audience.

My husband gets up from the sofa, and takes his turn at Guitar Hero. He has turned into Jim Morrison whIle I stumble onto the sofa snd collapse. The sweat is from  the central heating, cranked up to combat the dropping temperature. My staggering walk is due to increasing pain in my back and hip, along with the worst case of pins and needles in my foot and calf since I sat cross legged for too long at yoga once. 

Once avid fans of the pretend guitar, spending many a night with friends drinking beer and being rockstars together, it got relegated to the spaces in the eaves as parenting, work and other Real Life took over. I found it searching for something else just over a week ago, and since then R and I have played all the Gigs again, fought with Ted Nugent and won, and I fell in love with rock all over again. Not that I ever fell out of love – there have been many moments when I have driven in our family wagon singing to Rebel Yell, windows down, cranked up to full volume, it has just become secondary to the calmer tunes of Twinkle Little Star and Wind The Bobbin Up. Although, my children are rocking it out too now, even my two-almost-three year old Roo, and Bella is pretty damn good at Band on the Run. And they have mastered moshing around the living room.

I have achieved one of my Wish List items too this week, dancing around with Bella while R did his best impression of my favourite rock god Dave Grohl. Unfortunately my over zealous popping and moshing while ‘playing’ Ozzfest has resulted in several of my wish list items being unticked, namely the ‘walking without a limp or visible pain’ and ‘dancing with Bella.

R has said I might have to retire. Or at least play some of the more gentle tunes and remember that the nerve blocking meds have not fixed my back, they just pretend it doesn’t hurt any more.

He is only jealous that I can rock the fast notes better than him.

Today I Read 350 Emails and Smiled A Lot

Last night my two-almost-three year old boy snuggled himself on my side of the bed. By the time I get to bed, he is stretched across the bed, but every now and then rolls over to the edge. I spend several hours tossing and turning only half asleep waiting for the ‘thud’ of him falling off the bed that is a million times bigger than him. By the time R returns from his late night out, Roo has been gently carried back to his own bed, eyes shut, head in my neck and as I tuck him under his duvet he makes a feeble effort to show his disapproval ‘i don’t wan go to my bed, I wan…zzzzzzzz’. 5:00am and he has climbed back between us. Next thing I know is Bella cuddled next to me hanging off the bed on the other side of me, talking non-stop. I figure it must be almost 7am due to her incessant questions and chatter. I glance at the clock after 10 minutes or so and find it is 5.45am. I am So Not Impressed.

3 hours and 15 minutes, two cups of coffee and a long shower later I am on the wrong bus going around the houses to take 25 minutes to drive what should be a 10 minute journey to work, for my first day after 5 weeks off sick due to sciatic nerve pain. It is a good job really as the other bus drops me outside The Hut where I would find it difficult to walk past without buying a Skinny Latte Extra Shot. That would be 4 caffeine shots before work and I am going to be wired enough anyway with the variety of painkillers I have taken with the first two, along with the lasting effects of amitriptyline from my nightly dose.

Wow! My office is bright! and noisy! By 10am my head is pounding with the lights, noise, and the 350 emails I have to read. I am not sure if this is the medication or just shock at being back at work after the relatively sedate time off sick. My boss comments that I am looking better than she has seen me for ages. Repeats this several times and says that the time off has done me good. She is trying to work out what is different. Make Up, I tell her. I am wearing make-up. I actually spent 30 minutes plastering it on in a way to make it look like I was wearing not a jot of make up apart from lipgloss and mascara, disguising the heavily medicated eyelids that even my thick framed glasses cannot hide and the dark circles and red blotchy skin. Well, it has worked I find out as several colleagues comment on how well I look. I am not sure whether that means I always looked rough before, or only when I was looking so ill with pain, but either way, they really do seem genuinely surprised that I look well. I decide on the latter and plaster on a beaming smile for every comment I get.

I sit on my old, alleged back pain specialist chair. This is not the one that was recommended by the back specialist assessment, the one that I later find out is going to cost £800+. This is the chair they have decided will do after all despite being recommended otherwise (I can’t figure out why they think this…). Except, when I sit in it and the pins and needles shoot from my left foot straight up my leg and into my buttock, my boss quickly changes her mind and 20 minutes later the approval for the new chair has been signed and sent off. But, they still won’t let me have red leather or an iPod charger. However it does recline. Bonus.

By the time I leave the office I am limping slightly and my head is pounding from the excessively fast-paced office, from struggling to focus on the computer screens, having to engage with people and on the whole being unused to Life On the Outside on my pain meds.

I am now watching Black Beauty with my children, tired but relieved that I got through my first day back with relatively little trouble and without falling asleep  or slurring my words in front of my colleagues. But I really must get myself some of those noise blocking ear protectors.

Shall I have a glass of wine to celebrate?

Tonight My Husband and I Are Sleeping in Position No.2

There is no noise. It is hushed as my children settle down to sleep. After getting up several times as they often do when their daddy goes out for the evening. Playing Up  – isn’t that how the Behavioural Books scientifically refer to it?

Then I hear the tiny ‘th-th-th’ of gentle creeping footsteps on the deep soft carpet that leads to the loft room which is Mummy and Daddy’s Bedroom. The bright pink door (used to be Summer Girl’s Room) swings open and there in the dark of the doorway, silhouetted by the hallway light stands my two-almost-three-year old Winter Boy, one hand rubbing his eyes. He casually walks over to me at the computer desk and announces ‘I can’t get myself to sleepees, I tried an I jus can’t do it’. ‘do you want me to tuck you back in?’ ‘noo. I really can’t get to sleepees. I wan to sleep witchuw’ he says in his sing-song, Cant-Be-Resisted voice. I never let him sleep in my bed first thing at night. Not unless he is ill or R is away, then sometimes I do and then he stays there all night. Usually though I tuck him back in to his own bed and stroke his hair. And Repeat.

This evening, I look at him and my heart melts. How can I resist that little coy smile and angelic voice?  I say ‘quickly, get into bed and go straight to sleep, I don’t want to hear a peep ok?’. Before I even finish my sentence he has scampered across the bedroom, onto MY side of the bed I note, jumps into bed, tucks himself up neatly in the duvet and smiles sweetly at me. I walk over to kiss him goodnight. He does not fuss or fidget, but unusually lies completely still. By the time I return from popping down to turn Winter Girl’s light off, he has both arms spread eagle, one hanging over the side of the bed and is gently snoring, in a deep, happy sleep. It has taken him less than 2 minutes to go from standing by me to fast asleep in exactly the same position as when he climbed in. Why does he look far more content there than he ever looks in his own bed? And did I say it was My Side?

R is going to be less impressed than I was, when he returns home later. He will need to make a decision whether to wake a sleeping boy and somehow get him into bed without him waking and realising what crime is being committed against him, adopt The Position Number Two, or accept that through the course of the night Winter Boy will likely assume most of The Positions. Unless he finds himself in Position Number Two that is.

Maybe I should make up the spare bed now…