Tony

Tony

Tony

I have never really had much problem with sleeping. I am one of those people that can awaken during a dream and pick up where I left off if I want to: depending on who is in it that is! This week though, I have suffered a little: probably because of Rusty deciding that he/she is not a child but actually a jumping bean! At one point, in Lidl, I thought that Rusty might even be coming early. Other supermarkets are available obviously.

One night this week when I was struggling to nod off, I began thinking about my Dad, as I normally do. I know I am 35 and I have my own family but I sometimes cry into my pillow and think that I really want my Dad! Not much shame in admitting that, I do. My Dad had the ability of making everything alright, as all Dad’s do of course but, it was almost like he could inhale your worries and bury them deep inside of him: like that massive bloke in The Green Mile (if you haven’t watched it, you should have). There are times when I need him to do that for me: not just because I want him to make me feel better but, because he gave my life light. It was only when the light went out that I realised I would have to live in darkness for a while.

Tony

My boyfriend sent me this once: if you had met him you would know what a grand gesture that is (he’ll moan at me for that)

I have thought to myself on many occasions: what is the point in being such a fantastic human being and then not having anything to show for it when you are no longer around. This is part of the reason that I started this blog and part of the reason that however small my effort, I will always do my best to ensure people know what happened to my Dad so they can make sure it does not happen to their loved ones. I wish I could go back. By that, I mean that if you have read my blog, you should be nagging your Dad to have his Prostate checked. It’s not just an ‘old man’s’ disease, just like Breast Cancer does not only afflict woman over 50. My Mum was younger than me when she first found a lump. Just because you don’t have any symptoms, does not mean diddly squat!! My Dad was born in 1945 and he died in 2005. He never went to the doctors for 25 years but, there was no prize in obtaining this milestone, in fact, it was the opposite. He most definitely got the wooden spoon.

I recently visited a local Prostate Cancer support group to talk about Travel Insurance for people with pre existing medical conditions (because that is what I do as a day job) and of course, my own experiences. My Dad would not have been the youngest one there, I would! I would have given anything to find a group that we could visit together and talk to. Although, it may not seem much, I felt like I really achieved something that day, like I did something about it, instead of just feeling sorry for myself and questioning why the Universe can be such a terrible bastard sometimes. And I know I am not the only one, there are people that have suffered much worse but grief is very inward and its hard to think of others. I do think of others now though: knowing my Dad made me a better person. I hoped that my Dad would have been proud of me too.

Cancer leaves a massive trail of destruction and not just to the one it affects. My Dad said to me once that he had the easy job because, I would be the one that was left behind to deal with it and he was right. My Mum never said a lot towards the end, she couldn’t talk and so had to use a magnetic sketch pad to tell us things. Hard to convey all your final wishes in a matter of sentences eh? So why do we not do it when we can.

Tony

My Daddy! Make sure you hang onto yours tight: with both hands.

I know that I am a bit bonkers and those who know me will know that my brain and mouth have no connecting off switch. But, whatever you think of my Blog, whatever you think of me, just remember that you have a chance to change things: before it’s too late! And so why wouldn’t you?

If you were me and I was you!

If you were me and I was you!

If you were me and I was you!

Happy Birthday! to my Mummy for yesterday. She would have been 68 (I think) That sounds terrible but in all honesty, My Mum has been dead for longer than I actually knew her. In that respect, do I think it is maudlin to mark those occasions like a Birthday for someone who has gone? Of course not! It is only maudlin if I spend the day feeling sorry for myself, which of course I didn’t as I do that daily anyway! Just joking!

I spoke to a Psychic once who told me that my Mum was upset that I never had photos of her around. Well, you can tell her that I am upset with her too…for dying! Of course, I always had to have the last word! Apparently she also wanted to have some reference to her in my girls names. That is how I knew that it was my Mum because she had an amazing sense of humour: Maureen Freda Joan…Mum really? Her Mum was called Joan and my other Nanny was called Phyllis Mildred: if that wouldn’t be the universe having a giggle, I don’t know what would be!

On the weekend, I am sure my other half would not mind me telling you, but we had an enormous row! Sometimes I think it is good to clear the air with these occurrences as we spend a lot of time together but, we don’t always talk (not about important things anyway) Human beings in their very nature always want something that they don’t have: I would like a house in Taormina (look it up) with a cable car, a lunch of  Buffalo Mozzarella every day and a Pinot Grigio tree but, that is not reality.

We live each day doing the same things, going to work, looking after the children and if you are anything like us, sitting on the sofa at night, eating chocolate and watching television. It is natural to think that life should be more interesting and when you are busy looking at Twitter and some 18 year old blonde with a wash board stomach is jumping off the Empire State Building in her bikini, why should you feel special that you are merely enjoying ‘Benefits Britain’ with a glass of Shiraz! Truth is though, what if you didn’t do that anymore? What if your life changed and it was all taken away? Then you would realise that you were happy and life was important to you. I am under no illusion that I may create the vaccine for Ebola or end world hunger, but that does not mean that my life has been wasted: nor that I should have done something else with it. Really and truly, if I did now jump off the Empire State Building in my bikini (although it would be more of a belly flop for me), I would really want to be sat at home with my boyfriend watching ‘Benefits Britain’. That is the irony! Why can’t we just realise that now before we have to lose something to make it important. This is what I tell my boyfriend when he is feeling rubbish about himself and that he has achieved nothing. We have all achieved something, whether we have been kind to someone when they needed it or told our child something that they will always remember and subsequently tell their children, we can’t see what we have or what we gave because we are too busy thinking that we should be something else.

In 1990, my Cousin Emily was 11. She was the daughter of my Mum’s brother Terry and she was my penpal. I used to love getting her letters and she was always particulary good at drawing mice. Her and I were exactly the same age and many said we looked the same too. I can still remember her vividly, she had a huge smile and she was so kind and caring. I am sure that she would have been a primary school teacher and probably sit on her sofa at night and eat chocolate but, she never got that far. One day she went to school and she simply never came back!

If you were me and I was you!

Left to right: Emily, her brother Simon and me.

I can remember those storms. I was at school and my classmates and I were watching the slates fly around outside. Clearly the buildings we were in were 2 million years old and so we were marched to our school hall, which I always thought was a bit mental as we then had to dodge said slates on the way there. Personally, if I had known I would have to sing Kum Ba Yah for three hours accompanied by Mr Pearson on his accordion, a light concussion may have been a relief!

I should not say that. For my special Emily simply sat at her desk and the roof fell on her. My Mum was really affected by her death. She never spoke to me about it, as I was 11 too but, I always knew. I wish I had spoken to her as maybe it would have helped her but, probably I was too busy wishing that Patrick Swayze would suddenly like goofy 11 year olds. My Mum would have traded her life for Emily’s, I know this to be true! In actually fact, she was not that long behind her but, my point is, when my Mum was dying, she did not spend her time thinking about what she wished she had done with her life or what she regretted but, merely how she had lived it and that she would now be leaving it behind. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Multicoloured

Multicoloured

Multicoloured

Pink or blue? This week we find out! Actually though, this one is Rainbow! A Rainbow baby is a baby that has followed a loss and my little Rusty really didn’t fancy hanging around in the ether for long before he was given to me.

We are not going to tell anyone what we are having, but I will find it incredibly hard. For purposes of clarity I always refer to Rusty as a boy and so will continue to do so: I would like a boy, purely because I don’t have one. Naturally, I just want everything to be OK and this is the first concern.As a mother you worry from the moment they start to grow but, I will not be disappointed with a girl. After all I know how to deal with girls: I am an old pro at it really (OK! maybe not so old….shhhhhhh!!) I just have a horrible horrible feeling that as both of my daughters were just so amazingly good (in hindsight), that this one will be a terror. Completely in a good way of course! When they are 17 and staying in bed all day, I am sure I could then look back and laugh. Whatever happens, I have been blessed with Rusty and he is my (I should really say our) Rainbow that’s for sure!

It happened when I was at work. If I am honest, I had a niggling feeling from the moment I woke up but, I tried to put it down to wind! Sorry that was bad taste! I started bleeding and I remember thinking, ‘Please just let it be a blip, they say it happens, I have read it in magazines’: but, really I knew that this was no blip. I left and I drove home, worrying because I had left work early.I tried to focus on what I would cook for tea and what the evenings viewings would entail.Anything other than focus on what I knew was really going on in my body. I didn’t make tea and I didn’t watch the television, I just went to bed. I did this to try and forget for a bit, not breathing too heavily so as to keep it all inside. Keep it safe. And I willed everything that was there to keep growing, to hang on like a limpit with rigamortis. But, of course it didn’t and by the next day, it was pretty much completely gone. My baby had gone almost as quickly as it came.

Multicoloured

I didn’t feel like a real person again until I was given Rusty.

It was a small comfort that I could indulge in one of my favourite hobbies again: Pinot Grigio! However, it was nice to go back to the gym and work off some frustrations and of course concentrate on my flabby bottom. Which, coincidentally is now flabbier that Pavarotti’s bicycle seat! There was however, one major hindrance concerning the gym and basically moving/walking/cuddling and this was that my boobs felt like they were in a juicer! Three weeks this continued to the point where I was genuinely worried. Given my Mum’s history and the fact that the surface area of my boobs was ordinarily so small that I barely knew they were there half the time anyway.

I have given my doctor some real ‘stick’ in the past but, to be fair! After the whole Molar Pregnancy debarcle, he deserved to be prodded with it, very hard and in his nether region. He was very kind to me now though and he humoured me as no doubt he remembered me as the nasty complainant who had wanted to poke a stick in his nethers.( He did not know this of course, mainly because I have just said it now) He is my hero now though. I weed in a pot and went on my way to indulge in my favourite hobby again I expect. Incidentally, straight after,we met my Boyfriends old friend (again, he’s not old) and wife for coffee on their way down to Cornwall.They told us of their unexpected pregnancy and how they were also given one that was slightly more challenging than their others. This is course does not still play on my mind…no no no!!

Multicoloured

I am pretty sure my brother was the troublesome baby and I was the good one!

I suppose he called me around three hours later. ‘We had discussed your fertility earlier following your miscarriage Shushanah’, ‘I don’t really think that is an issue any more’. Blimey! That was quick!! I have absolutely no comprehension how it did not even cross my mind that I may be pregnant. I had tried to stay away from the internet regarding pregnancy after miscarriage but, what I did read was all pretty woolly. This bit is scientific: I must have ovulated exactly 11 days after and Rusty was given to us pretty much on the next love in. I know exactly what day it was too! I know! I don’t get out much!

And so to the pressing question: how are the hormones? Well, they are still having a party like its 1999! I continue to try and explain to my beloved what it feels like to be pregnant.Mentally I mean, not physically. Obviously, I am over the moon and incredibly happy with our Rusty. I do not, like some, feel like I am carrying an alien and despite the wobbly bottom, love showing off a growing bump. I do however continue to be frustrated with the feeling of sheer irrationality and irritability and what’s even more frustrating is that I do not care when I act this way because it comes from so far within the depths that if it did not come out, I would surely spontaneously combust. I am sure that most of the time, my boyfriend would prefer this option greatly.

Like a lot of people, I moan on Facebook sometimes and it helps for a while but, really I want to have a regular rant to the person closest to me. His obvious avoidance of any such instances merely compounds the feeling and not only do I get in a teenage strop but, I also feel like he does not actually want to know and does not care. I understand though that I probably would not want to talk to me either. I have to though as am kind of attached! Being pregnant can make you feel vulnerable, like you want to be looked after and anything other than 100% attention 24 hours a day just feels like the total opposite. And so I remain, horrible, selfish, unreasonable and absolutely no fun to be around but, I am doing quite an important job at the moment and it is easy to forget that. I am still me and I still have a big heart, which I want to use to its full capacity on a daily basis. It is also easy to forget that I will do anything for those I love and give everything I have for them…right the way to the end of that rainbow. I just might kick a few leprechauns on the way…..

Ghosts Part 2

Ghosts Part 2

My Dad was always falling out of bed! Sometimes the dog pushed him out and sometimes he simply turned over a little too far in his sleep and…doink! He could just about feel his legs but, he could not weight bare in any way. He could get onto the commode himself and from his wheelchair to the bed was ok but, there was generally a struggle each day. Once, he was so determined to come to the next level of the house and look out of our fire escape window at the gardens next door, that he tried to drag himself up the stairs like a merman. I was fuming with him that day! He got half way up and then slid to the bottom like a sausage. He thought it was hysterical (as he did most things) I, on the other hand was furious with him for taking such a risk to his already crumbled spine: I slammed doors and called him a ‘Bloody, Pissing idiot’! Again, he thought it was hysterical.

When my Dad was in hospital, I had some help to get the downstairs ready for him coming home. We were lucky enough to live in a large town house which used to be flats so everything was pretty much self contained for him. He had a bedroom downstairs next to the living room and a bathroom where I could empty the luminous green wee from his catheter bag.We built slight ramps so he could easily wheel from room to room.The house being so old, there were tiny drops into each downstairs room. Dad could pick up things with his special ‘claw’ which helped him grip and lift things that were slightly out of his reach. Mostly, he would use it to pinch my bottom when I was getting something for him or lifting the cats tail while giggling and singing ‘Pixxxeeelina’. Some utter bastard who drove like a numpty ran over my Pixxee after my Dad had died. I was devastated to lose that connection.

It sounds completely bonkers but, there are nights when I am feeling really sad that I will close my eyes and hold out my open hand, in the anticipation that my Dad would hold it: even if just for a second. Some times I beg him to do it or to come and sit on the end of my bed so that I know he’s there, that he misses me in the way I miss him. That he still thinks of me as I do of him and if he is proud of me at all. In reality, if he did come back to me, he would probably just pinch my bum again with that bloody claw!!

Ghosts Part 2

My heart will always be just a little bit broken.

There were some nights that I would stay away and although I worried about leaving my Dad, I needed a release sometimes. He had nurses come in and help him also. I loved my dad with every single ounce of my being but, sometimes the pressure of looking after him was too much and I needed to escape. I was happy for it to be just the two of us but, it did make me feel very negatively towards a lot of people who I felt had forgotten us. Something I am still working through!

My Dad’s prognosis was very bleak right from the beginning. He was given months because his Cancer was discovered so late and was extremely aggressive.He was a right stubborn old sod and he died almost four years later (even after Merman and slippery sausage incidents) He waited until I was married so he knew I would not be alone and he died five weeks after that.

Ghosts Part 2

My beautiful girl: if not a little bit weird!

Only weeks before, something happened which should have forewarned us. I often wondered if it was a consious forewarning  for my Dad. He would never have dreamed of admitting that to me, never. In the same way he would never admit about the baby in our previous house. But, it has always left me wondering. This is what happened:

I had been away overnight at my in laws and was returning as I usually did if I had stayed out,around late morning.The image of my Dad in his chair is one that I will never forget. He was sat in the living room watching the television and as his head turned to look at me coming in the front door, he turned ashen. My Dad carried a lot of expression in his face but, this day it was one of confusion and terror. There was a split second where I contemplated that the Cancer had spread to his brain and perhaps he had no idea who this intruder was. ‘Shu’?…..’You haven’t just come home?’ ‘You came home last night’. I hadn’t.

My Dad went on to explain that just as he was drifting off to sleep he was aware I was home. He said he had not heard me come in the front door but had seen me furtling around in the landing (I did and still do furtle an awful lot) and had called out to me to see what I was up to. I had walked to the entrance of his bedroom and stood in his doorway for a couple of minutes without speaking and then simply turned around and walked away. Of course, I say me, but it wasn’t me, I was 17 miles away watching trashy TV and no doubt drinking wine. My dad said there was no doubt in his mind that he was seeing a person, a solid entity (what he thought was me) that he had called out and asked me to get him a drink. We made a joke of it of course and japed that it would have been more than a little unsettling if whatever or whoever that was that night had actually brought him a drink.

This has always been a comfort to me, not frightening in any way but it is something I will take with me to my own grave and I will always wonder who exactly it was that came to collect my Dad. Dad didn’t have much time to worry about it as whoever it was accompanied him to the next world shortly after. I hope someone comes for me too when I am ready to go. I will have that drink though: Pinot Grigio naturally!

 

 

Truth is often stranger than..

Truth is often stranger than..

For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing. Like reading an amazing book, it can take you away to wherever you wish to go. Even now, as I sit at my kitchen table with my glass of wine and the dog in her basket, probably farting (the dog that is, not me), I have just been somewhere else. I have been writing some fiction.

I have wanted to write a book for a really long time. My idea of a book was always pretty much what I write about now. I don’t mean in a depressing way but, just the only way that I know: about life and about loss. Well, about my life and loss really.

I have never read fiction. Even before I had children, I would think that reading something that had no truth would be like wasting hours when I could be learning something, filling my mind with information I never knew. That sounds pompous I know, I don’t mean it like that. I just mean that I love real stories: true crime, I love biographies and ever since I did history in primary school, I always wanted and loved to learn new things. Only history wise, I really have very little interest in the natural breeding of the lesser spotted toad weasel!

Now, my love of writing has gone so much further. What was once initially cathartic scribblings has not only become my therapy but, my ultimate escape when it is needed. My man has his guitar and the girls have, well… a child’s life and for sometime now, I have felt pretty uneventful regarding my mark on the universe. But, I want to write. I love to write. I realise that it will probably take me no further than my small Dartmoor town but, it actually takes me everywhere I want to go.

So, I have decided. I am going to try to write some fiction. I never have before and the way in which I write means that there is no pre meditation involved. I sit at the computer and simply see what comes out. I do not know if this will work so well with fiction but, if it does, perhaps I will try to write that book. The thing that really excites me is that even if I am just the smallest bit capable, I could practically write about anything.

With this in mind, I am going to try it and I am going to let you read it. My man will no doubt say it is good but, that is because he loves me. If it doesn’t work in the same way as fact, then I shall simply shelve it until I have more practice. Let’s just suck it and see eh? Ooo that’s an idea…50 shades esq next time maybe? LOL…. xxx

BRCA2

BRCA2

BRCA2

Would you like to know if you were going to die? Ok! I know it’s not exactly that dramatic but, for a long time now I have anguished over this one. I am lucky enough, at my age and only because of my history obviously, to have regular ultrasounds and check ups. I don’t have Mammograms because I am too young and younger (cough cough) breast tissue is much harder to read on a Mammogram than it is on an ultrasound. Mind you! I had to push for it. I had a referral from my doctor and numerous pointless conversations and telephone tennis in order to be able to have these reviews. Unbelievable really.Luckily, I stuck to my guns.

I have also been offered the BRCA2 test. As if it wasn’t a ticking time bomb in my life anyway without having any concrete confirmation of a defunct gene which could lead me down the same path as my Mother. Perhaps I am naive to think I would rather not know, particulary given my massive spiritual beliefs in life but, what would I really do if I did have the irregularity in my genes? Would I have a double mastectomy and rebuild my breasts and then have a hysterectomy? Of course I bloody wouldn’t. I don’t have the most amazing rack but, I am more than happy to leave it how it is for now. I do want more babies though: the thought of never having another child is absolutely devastating to me. I already feel like my biological clock may prohibit me anyway but, to chose to eliminate even the option for good is beyond any type of comprehension I must admit.

BRCA2

My daughter and I were doing the selfie before it was even popular 🙂

We have all been alerted to the BRCA2 test, mostly thanks to Angelina Jolie but, quite strangely for me, I spoke to an absolutely lovely lady whilst at work (selling her Travel Insurance) who recommended me to her specialist. The first thing she asked me and probably because of my name: Was I Jewish? Specific mutations of the gene can be associated with some ethnic groups, namely those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. I am not Jewish by the way but, in case you were wondering Shushanah is a Hebrew name.

There can be a mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that can suggest that you are at higher risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer.If there is a mutation, your risk of getting Breast Cancer can be as high as 85%. However, your environment and lifestyle can always have a big impact. Well! Of course it can! If I never left my house, it would be unlikely that I would die from being run over. No-one else in my family had Breast Cancer but, did my Mum get it because she had a genetic mutation? Her Grandma may have had it too but, as she was run over by a bus, we will never know. Do you sense where I am going with this one?

I have agonized whether I would want to have my girls tested. The truth is, it wouldn’t be up to me. They should do whatever they see fit when the time arises and should I get Breast Cancer, then we would look at that much more closely of course. I have an Insurance in place which I have had for years, if I’m being honest, I could really do with now but, that’s an utterly despicable thing to say. I could though: or I shall continue to wait for my miracle and keep on dreaming.

BRCA2

I never want my girls to have to go through what I did..never.

I watched an amazing programme not long ago about an utterly beautiful and inspiring girl called Kris Hallenga who started the charity Coppafeel, promoting regularly checking your breasts for lumps and irregularities whatever your age. In this day and age and with all the media attention, it really isn’t still something that young girls feel they need to do. Kris was 23 when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and it had spread: to stage 4! Kris now spends all her time promoting breast checking and if you have a chance to check her out, make sure you do because it’s women like her that make this world seem like it has a purpose. She does for me anyway. As I said, I am lucky enough to get checked but, I still had to fight for it and as I’m used to fighting, I stuck it out. I know how easy it would have been to give up though. Very!

Don’t misunderstand me, My Mum didn’t die of her Breast Cancer because it wasn’t caught in time. She died because she first had Breast Cancer in the 80’s. That is truly what I believe. And she was in her 30’s which was considered really young to be diagnosed at that time. If she had the treatment that there is available today, I know she would still be here. There was no Herceptin then and Radiotherapy was primitive by today’s comparison, in a Prisoner Cell Block H type of fashion. My Mum’s had spread of course, spread to her brain in the end and when she could no longer talk, she jotted down her witticisms on an Etch a Sketch type affair. My treasured Godmother Ro (who I will tell you about soon) said that she had told her that she knew I would be OK because I was strong. I never wanted to be strong. I would have much rather not been strong and had an easy life. That is me being selfish again.

BRCA2

My Mum was in hospital when this picture was taken. I was 15..oh and I was angry…

My Dad on the other hand, did die because he was diagnosed too late. Had he just had a routine check where Prostate testing was standard, he would still be here: infuriating me by never doing the jobs I would ask him to do whilst I was at work and then when I moaned at him, smiling at me with an almost bellowy smile that shone deep out of his soul.. If I had a time machine, I would not go back and get the Lottery numbers, I would go back 10 years, march him to a doctor and and demanded that they stick their finger up his bum right away! It really is not a difficult concept, every man over 50 should get that ‘digit up their doughnut’!

A man with Prostate Cancer after treatment or even during can have a PSA reading (Prostate Specific Amount) of 4 or under. When my Dad’s Prostate Cancer was discovered, his PSA was 2000! 2000!!! In my job whilst Medical Screening for Travel Insurance, in 13 years I have never spoken to one client with the disease who had a reading over 100. The doctor phoned me and said she was worried that I did not understand the severity of his condition (the drunk doctor I told you about before) Cheeky cow!!! Six months she told me we would get. Nearly 4 Years we were blessed with. That’s one determined, amazing, funny and much missed old git! I wish I could ask him if he would want me to be tested.

Happy fathers day you old git. Love you Dad!