Sleeping with Darth Vader and Emmet. It’s Wrong.

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I am writing while sandwiched between two sleeping children, two Lego alarm clocks and a glass of Weak Lemon Squash that I can’t reach. On a Saturday night. The rock and roll lifestyle is to be envied across the world. I am hoping that I don’t need to take a pee anytime soon as the process of clambering over them fills me with dread as my back is not in a great shape today.

We have been watching the Lego Movie in bed. To celebrate their new Lego Alarm Clocks – Winter Boy has Emmet and Summer Girl has Darth Vader. The purchase of said alarm clocks was to install a sense of time in them and not wake me by pretending to be invisible, crawling through the slightly open door and along the bedroom floor, while almost silently giggling. At 6am. On a Saturday.  The message was clear. The alarm clocks will go off at 7:30am tomorrow. They are not to leave their room apart from to use the loo, if they really absolutely have to. They are not to play music, musical instruments, whistles, sing, laugh loudly, go into the kitchen and try to make me breakfast, put the tv on. They can play with their Lego, tidy their bedroom up (they actually laughed at that one), read to themselves, read to each other. And most importantly, in the ‘not to leave the room’ bit they absolutely must not Wake Me Up.

The irony is not lost on me. They have carried these alarm clocks everywhere today. Winter Boy in particular has not let his out of his mitts. Except now, as they snore (not so) gently next to me, their alarms are still set for 7:30am but by my head, one on each side. And I can’t move the sleeping babes as I can barely stand straight. I forgot R was away tonight, so his usual putting of them to bed when he comes home is not happening. They are staying put until 6am. Instead of in their own beds, until 7:30am with me in my kingsized bed All On My Own.

Bollocks.

I might sleep on the sofa.

For My Summer Girl. “HOME”.

My flat is my favourite place to be right now, shall I tell you why and how? I don’t have too much. ok, perhaps too much clutter. but material things, well they don’t really matter. I can’t open some cupboards as the hinges are broke, the kitchen wall’s falling down and the garden (yard) is a joke. We’ve not fixed the skirting and the kids room needs some paint. But we have other priorities,  stressed? well we ain’t. So what do I love about this place that is mine? I sleep here, I love here, where I spend all my time. My children were raised here, memories were formed, it’s cosy and comfy and snug and it’s warm. We have a door with a lock to shut the world out there. We have colour and brightness and laughter and cheer. There are books everywhere, cooking smells and incense, drums and guitars, music and fun. Toys are not kept in one place hidden, there is no room to which entry’s forbidden. We have plenty of space with high ceilings, nooks and crannies, room to play hide and seek, room to put up visiting granny. Big bay windows that let me try to grow plants in pots, although if I’m honest, green-fingered, no, I’m not. I feel safe here, I belong here, I don’t want to leave this place, would not trade it in for lots more space. It’s my home, the kids’ home, R’s home, and also our cats’. There is Nowhere I want to be more than snuggled up in this flat. 

– For My Summer Girl aged 6 and a half.

Why My Winter Boy Can’t Hug Me Right Now

My back has ‘gone’ for the millionth time. I am moving, but it is painful. R has just gone to do the rest of the Christmas shopping. My Summer Girl is happily colouring.

My Just 3 Winter Boy is in a happy, lovely, cuddly mood. But, he is not in a still, quiet, calm, cuddly mood, but the type that has him climbing all over me being a cat – he is twisting over my back, hanging off my neck and laying across me – normally it would be wonderful. But, right now I am having to keep asking him to stop and be still, and as he can’t, to sit next to me. He simply won’t stop.

I remind myself that this will not affect him negatively in the long term, but how can it not? How can he possibly understand that sometimes mummy loves snuggles and a little rough and tumble love, but sometimes not? It’s inconsistent. And yes I tell him it is because my back is feeling poorly, but he just does not understand that, or rather, yes he understands I have a painful back, but does not make the connection between that and jumping on me.

And it hurts me so much.

My Thoughts are with Newtown, Connecticut

I am sorry you have to bury your children and teachers today and the coming days. 

I am sorry your worlds have been ripped apart. 

I cannot express fully the sadness I feel every day at your losses. It can only be a fraction of your sadness. 

I wish you all the strength to face the coming hours, days, weeks, months, years.

My thoughts are with you Newtown.

 

Thankful Thursday – 4 More Sleeps To Go…

On Monday, we are going to Center Parcs Winter Wonderland for 5 days.

You will easily spot us. Our family will consist of 1 Mother with sparkly christmas hat, badly singing christmas songs and the top of her voice, swirling and twirling and clapping and whooping. You will see a 6-and-a-half-year-old girl with a matching hat, singing with me, dancing and twirling and touching everything she sees. You will see an Exactly-3-Year-Old, crying because mummy is insisting that he wears his very own sparkly christmas hat, and occasionally falling over as he desperately runs after us, trying to join in Mummy and Big Sister’s craziness. You will see a slightly subdued, embarrassed Father hanging slightly back, asking everyone to calm down and occasionally getting cross with the children for not doing as they are told and, likely also telling his wife off for the same thing.

We really need this break. We need to shake the negative out of this year and get ready for a positive 2013. We are going to sit by the open fire and wrap christmas presents and write out christmas cards, while drinking mulled wine as the children sleep. We are going to drink hot chocolate and eat mince pies, sing Christmas songs and watch christmas films. We are going to ride our bikes through the woodland, swim in the Tropical Paradise Pool and do a 12-Days-of-Christmas Trail. We are going to visit Father Christmas in his Woodland Workshop, have a Christmas Carvery, and maybe I might even fit in a massage or facial.

I am thankful that I booked this at the end of January 2012 to cheer me up after feeling so rotten last christmas due to serious back pain. I am thankful that I am well enough to make this holiday. Despite still struggling to shake a general feeling of unwellness (my blood hurts, how is that even possible?!) at the moment my back feels relatively stable, and although I am aware it can ‘go’ any time, I am enjoying how it is now, and just praying it will last for the holiday.

We might even have snow -how magical would that be?

 

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…”

“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.

Blown Away by Hope and Pain.

There are two parts to this blog, as technically this computer has been confiscated by my husband so that I can listen to the audio book he has downloaded for me, and so I can fully rest my back.

Firstly, Wow. The power of Mumsnet is two fold! Not only has ‘Doogie Hower’ in disguise found the cause of my back problems but, how many people have come to check out my post! and have left me some amazing supportive messages. And yes, the more I think about it, the more I can feel the place where that oddly large and painful but quick to disappear from my memory bruise was. It was right in-between my vertebrae at the base of my spine. Now I remember, and have discussed with R, neither of us have any idea how it escaped our memories. It just demonstrates how easy it is to block very important details from our minds.

There is no doubt in my mind  now that the unfortunate event of the shower curtain caused my slipped disc. But, I know many people are thinking, as R did, ‘so what?’ and as someone commented on my last post ‘you can’t un-salt the soup’. That is true. This revelation does not fix my back. It won’t change the treatment offered. The damage is done and it is going to take a long time to fix, whatever the cause. Perhaps had I linked it at the time it might be a different story, but probably not.

What this does change is how I deal with it, emotionally, in the long-term. It gives me hope. I was told by several medical professionals that this is likely degenerative. It has happened over a period of time and the disc is disintegrating. This has put a little pressure on the discs above. And, as it is degenerative, it is likely this will progress upwards in time. This has been the source of great angst for me, as many of those who have journeyed with me over this last almost-year know. Coming to terms with the loss of so many things in my future. Having to find a way to parent so this debilitating condition does not hugely and negatively impact on my children’s upbringing. I have had so many tears of worry that this might end up crippling me. I have seen my career disappear in front of me and seen my relationship change and become damaged in front of my eyes.

This means, that maybe there is a chance that won’t happen. This means that if I can get this disc fixed, that it might not spread upwards, that it is not degenerative, that it is not inevitable that my life will be a continued cycle of pain and medication. Hope.

Alas this leads to the second part of my post. At the time I should be revelling in this fabulous news (and believe me I have been blown away by it) and seeing this as a new episode in my life, where I can go to work with little pain feeling this is actually progress that might stay, instead of walking with a swing in my step, I am in bed in pain as my back has gone again and I can’t stand or walk.

I have been throwing up since sunday, (for those who have an aversion to vomiting stories, read on, there will be no details) and now I am unable to walk for pain and muscle spasms. I have a theory about this, about the links between my pain and being sick, but that is for another time. For now, having had to crawl to the toilet on my hands and knees I am in so much pain I am going to return to the excellent audio book The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss for those who want something cool to listen to.

But, this is not going to beat me now. Not anymore. I am not going to just accept my fate is out of my control, this is not my destiny to have a back problem, it is not genetic, or degenerative. So I can overcome it. After some sleep.

(ps Thank you everyone for reading my blogs and for ‘liking’ and for the lovely comments. It means a lot. Even with a little nudge from those at the top.

My ‘Slipped Disc’ Cause was Discovered by a Mumsnetter.

I have been a ‘Mumsnetter‘ for many years. There. I have said it aloud. I don’t normally advertise it by shouting from the rooftops but there are probably certain behaviours that might give it away. You will find me charging across the busy supermarket to retrieve the BOGOF Fruitshoots that R has put in the trolley, I was an avid breastfeeder and yes I would get my norks out in public to feed my baby (and, shock horror! toddler), and no I wouldn’t cover myself in a huge shroud to hide it, I am proud of being a woman and a supporter of girls being girls not sexualised mini-adults. Now I suspect that those traits along with my other ‘mumsnet outing’ traits were always there and that is why I am a mumsnetter, although to some extent I probably have a little more confidence to voice some of my longstanding views than before. Some people might argue those traits exists simply because Mumsnet has influenced me.  Of course there are some things I do which are directly as a result of my membership of the Clan of Witches as my husband calls it (or ‘The Oracle’ when he is being nice) such as being so bold as to say ‘did you really mean to be so rude?’ to someone who has upset me, or ‘accidentally’ leaving my shopping list in the trolley at the end of my shopping, with items such as Naice Ham, Pombears and Grapes on it.

But, regardless of how much influence and when, there are some times when credit has to be given completely and utterly to the women (ok so there are some male wannabes but it is MUMsnet and not PARENTsnet) of this outspoken and sometimes controversial network. And this is one of those times. And there is one particular Mumsnetter and well-loved blogger who has my thanks today and possibly for a long time to come – DILLYTANTE.

She casually asked me today if I was the person who had an accident involving a shower screen. And yes, that was me. I kid you not – a couple of years ago I was kneeling under the bathroom shower screen as the bath was filling with bubbles for the children. My daughter had unknowingly pushed it across so she could lean over to swirl the bubbles. My son was standing to the right of me, I was undressing him. I stood and lifted my head, full force up into the shower screen, the force so hard it pulled it out of its brackets, the corner of it cutting into my scalp. It toppled forwards, edge hitting the sink in front which broke into several large pieces, one of which flew and hit me in the face, breaking my nose and cutting above my eyebrow. I did not feel the warmth of the blood trickling down my face or the throbbing of my now slightly more crooked nose. I was terrified that my son or daughter was hurt. Bella was screaming (because she could see the blood) and I was screaming because my son lay on the floor. Luckily, that was because I had pushed him and he was completely unharmed. Bella had a small cut on her little toe and apart from being shaken was otherwise unharmed. I have no idea how this very odd and scary turn of events did not hurt my children, but I know as I got them out of the bathroom to tend to my bloody face that it was not short of a miracle that it had missed Roo by a whisper as he was so close to me. I dread to think what it would have done to him. And so I was thankful for my broken nose.

Two years and one month on, and DillyTante has reminded me of something. Yes, I said, that was me. Was that the cause of your back problems?  No, I said, not related to my back. And then I remembered. I thought about that event, and I remembered. As I remembered part of the event that had slipped from my memory, the jigsaw pieces fit into place. As the shower screen slid down me after hitting the sink, I was still bent over, the sharp corner of it landed on the base of my spine, leaving a small cut and an enormous painful bruise. I was so caught up with the overwhelming relief that my children were ok that I did not think about it again. Nor did I remember mentioning it to the doctor at A&E when I had my wounds seen to, worried about my broken nose, although R was certain I did, and as with most other discussions with professionals, not taking seriously.

And nor did I think about it again 8 days later and 2 days before I was due in hospital to have my broken nose straightened, when I picked my 10 month old son up from my bed and the first wave of searing agonising pain shot through my back and legs. This was the start of two years of regular bouts of debilitating back pain. I did not link this completely devastating pain to the healing bruise and cut on my back, as I dragged myself through the corridors of the hospital on the day of my nose operation, stooped in pain and high as a kite on valium and codeine that had been prescribed over the ‘phone by emergency doctor (when I told him I was having to try and wee in a potty as I could not get to the toilet).  The hospital gave me a reclining chair to sit on and gave me my 4 hourly doses of this medication to help me cope with the pain while I waited for hours in agony from my back muscle spasm, so that I could actually make it until my operation.  I had my nose straightened and home for several more days in bed, battered, bruised and in pain. I did not put those two events together as I did not know then what a slipped disc really was, or that I had one and did not link the pain I was now experiencing with the isolated pain of a bruise.

And this bruising and cut on my back was never thought of again. Until DillyTante made the connection with her clearly amazing memory. How could have I forgotten it? I ran downstairs to gush this revelation to my husband. ‘ok’ he said ‘does it really change anything?’ Helllooo! Not only do I now remember what has triggered it, but it has always been assumed that this back condition of mine is degenerative, as there has been no known injury that could have triggered this. Except. Now there is a very likely injury. Central annular tears (where the outer disc crust has torn dead centre rather than to one or other side)  are not very common, unless by trauma force injury, so it is entirely probable that this was caused by the shower screen hitting my lower spine with force.

That means DillyTante that this might not be degenerative. And it changes a lot! And, once again it re-enforces the power of people who come together across the miles through forums and blogs. A blogger and Mumsnetter can remember something I have long forgotten, that is pretty incredible, and may well change the fate of my future.

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.