Oh, not another poem about her being in the wars! Can’t she change the subject and get on with her chores? Is it so essential to talk about her pain? Could we have another tale before we go insane?
So, let’s talk about the weather; it’s beautiful outside But what about the dentist and the damage he’s denied She doesn’t like that surgeon; her doctor’s on the case The whole *kit and caboodle is an absolute disgrace
But think about the summer with a lovely cool breeze Look out of the window at the flowers and the trees Now, she’s got some pills that should offer some relief Yet, here she is going on about her blooming teeth!
Four days on these pills, and she sleeps, and she shakes It’s difficult to concentrate; she thinks she needs a break She wants to carry on her writing; it’s something she enjoys But she’s drowning in the water, so we need to throw a buoy
So here she is, producing work; will she never rest? Though everyone on WordPress makes her feel quite blessed There is a lot of gratitude within this heart and soul She knows that pushing on will really take its toll
So how about a holiday; where would you like to be? Ooh, yes, she says, delighted, and chose Southend-on-Sea We could paddle in the water. But the sea is full of shit! Aww, can’t we dip our toes in just a tiny weeny bit?
*kit and boodle (Collins Dictionary)
Informal (often prec. bywhole) The wholelot of persons or things; all of something
Well, here I am again, finding I can’t keep up with everything I need to do, and my head is spinning! I’ve had to be out all day today; tomorrow, I have some work to do on a project; Saturday, my best friend is coming for lunch; and on Sunday, I said I’d go along to the local Quakers Meeting House to accompany a friend to a service for the first time. It should be interesting, and I am looking forward to it. I also have a lot of coursework to do, as I’m getting behind on that, too. Please, forgive me, once again, for missing some of your blogs for now. I need a few more hours in the day, or perhaps, a few more days in the week. Anyone here got a few to sell, by any chance 😁!?
Add to all that the severe pain 😖I still have following my botched tooth extraction. I’m on stronger medication than morphine to try and get on top of the pain. It does render me a bit incapable sometimes, as I keep nodding off. It’s difficult to be productive when your brain is frequently ‘logging out 😶!’ The medication is making my hands shake, too, so I constantly make mistakes when typing. All I can say is, “Thank goodness for *Grammarly!”
Anyway, I’ll leave it there for now. I humbly apologise for not reading your brilliant work recently. I am in the process of writing a poem, but I think that’s about all I can manage for the moment.
I know you are all kind and understanding, and you may be fed up with me pleading “overload” again, but I’d rather be honest about things than just suddenly disappearing into the ether.
I may be able to read a few blogs over my busy weekend, but I’ve learned not to allow myself to get exhausted. I know my health is important, whether physical, mental or emotional. I wish you all really well and I hope that you enjoy your weekend, whatever you are doing. If you’re alone and don’t want to be, I send you kind thoughts, calm and peace ☮.
I called 111 for assistance (a helpline within the UK) I needed advice about the pain I’d been having every day They asked me lots of questions to see how I was feeling I told them it was time that I really should be healing
I told them about the tablets that made me feel all funny I mentioned that my dentist had charged me lots of money They asked about my general health and how I felt today Do you need an ambulance? I replied with a firm “No way” Had I had a heart attack, or perhaps, I’d had a stroke? I was puzzled by these questions, but they seemed well-meaning folk Did I feel a heavy weight sitting on my chest? I began to doubt myself and started feeling stressed
I confirmed it was those pills that made me feel unwell My head was very dizzy, like I’d been on a carousel Had I had an accident within the past few days? Had I had a migraine with brightly shining rays?
Was my speech quite slurry; my mouth dropped on one side? I said yes, but it was nerve damage the dentist had denied I think you need an ambulance; I firmly refused once more No, I really don’t, and yes, I’m certain, that’s for sure
I thanked them very kindly and said that I had to go But you might need an ambulance. I really don’t, you know I thanked them once again; I shouldn’t have a moan And with that, I stopped abruptly and hung up on the phone.
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.
Mary Anne Radmacher
One of my blogging friends, Melinda, from ‘Looking For The Light’, posted on her blog that March was Disability Awareness Month. I hadn’t heard of this, possibly because we don’t have this day in the UK. However, I’d been thinking about writing about my view of being a disabled person. I said I would do this before the end of March, as it seemed an appropriate time to write my own perspective.
So … just a bit of background information … Many years ago, I was involved in a fairground accident, which injured my cervical and lumber spine, meaning that some of the nerves from these areas were damaged. This affected my ability to walk, move, feed myself, or drink out of an ordinary mug or cup. I had a lot of care to begin with, but was determined to be independent.
I’ve come to terms with my accident and my disability. I wouldn’t have it any other way now. If I were given a wish, it wouldn’t be to rid myself of my disability. I am who I am; I am learning to love and care for myself. I can manage a few steps with a walking trolley indoors; I have an adapted kitchen and a wonderful electric powerchair called Alfie, who is my legs and wheels combined. Alfie allows me to travel independently. I don’t drive. I can’t even get a taxi; believe it or not, my town has no wheelchair-accessible cabs!
Buses are a nightmare and nigh-on impossible to navigate. Trains are relatively easy (except in the rush hour), as I learned from visiting London (40 miles away) to see my late Mum when she was in the stroke rehab. hospital. Travelling in rush hour means being packed like a sardine and at the exact height to be thumped on the head by someone casually throwing their bag onto their shoulder. Worse still, in the crowds, I’m perfectly lined up with all those armpits – close up – some more fragrant than others!
Travelling about is both a frustration and a joy. I can ride at 8mph (13 km/h), which is pretty speedy, and I am lucky to live near a foot/cycle path that takes me into town. I never knew which side to travel on, given that I’m neither a pedestrian nor a bike. I used to get dirty looks from disgruntled people on either side of the path. Well, where on Earth am I meant to go? I now drive down the white line in the middle! Problem solved!
The weather can be a challenge sometimes. I can’t use an umbrella as I’m driving with one hand and holding my bags with the other. If it rains, I get soaked – simple as that. I’ve got used to it, and knowing that my skin is waterproof and clothes will dry off, it really doesn’t bother me anymore. Yes, I could get one of those plastic capes for wheelchair users, but I wouldn’t be seen dead in one of those! So, does it serve me right if I get soaked – yes, I guess it does! Snow is out of the question. Living at the top of a steep hill, as I do, makes it far too dangerous to even step foot (wheel, in my case) out of the door.
Also, I have two major phrases used by many people, most commonly found in (but not isolated to) the US, both of which I detest with a passion. The first is one I hear said a lot on American television programmes, and that’s the use of the word ‘handicap’ when referring to a disabled person or in a car park as the description given to the allocated ‘handicapped’ parking space, as opposed to, in the UK, where we have accessible parking spaces or Blue Badge parking. The term ‘handicap’ is only used in the UK as a type of insult these days.
The other phrase that gets me is the description of a disabled wheelchair user as ‘wheelchair-bound’ or, worse still, ‘bed-bound.’ I’m not bound to my wheelchair or my bed by ropes, as the phrase might suggest. Please, think before using those terms. Thank you.
My pet hate is being stuck indoors against my will, either because of the weather or, like this week, because my battery decided to fail, and I had to wait two days for an engineer to come out to fit a new one. I feel a sense of panic as my independence is taken away, and I’m trapped at those times, and that’s not a desirable feeling for anyone. If you can imagine giving up your legs for a while, that’s what it feels like for me not to have my wheels. If all else fails, thank goodness for online shopping and Amazon.
Finally, I count myself lucky. I realise that not all disabled people feel the same way as I do. This is just my personal view of living with a disability and being a wheelchair user. I am, on the whole, very happy in my own skin.
If you have any questions you would like me to answer, please feel free to ask in the comments section; alternatively, you can reach out to me through my ‘contact me’ page. Thank you.
TRIGGER WARNING – THIS IS ABOUT EATING DISORDERS (ANOREXIA)
This account is purely about my own experience of anorexia. This disease affects all sexes, not just women. It can also affect people of any age group. In my case, I was in my forties when it began. Treatment these days may well be different; I don’t know. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or suspect you may be, please seek help from your doctor or any of the helpline numbers given at the end of this post.
Anorexia isn’t about the food; it’s about control. I wanted to control my life but thought if I could control my body and weight, I’d start to feel better. How wrong I was.
It started with me cutting out fats and carbs like many people on diets. I began to lose weight and felt like I was achieving something. As I lost weight, I still wasn’t satisfied, though, convincing myself I was overweight and needed to lose just a few more pounds. I lost more weight, but I still wasn’t content. I began to develop rituals around food, such as cutting food up into tiny pieces to make them last longer or seem more and, weighing everything I ate, then totting up the calories. I stopped drinking coffee with milk and drank only black coffee and Diet Coke. Still not satisfied; eating salad wasn’t enough to control my habit. I began to weigh the lettuce, water well shaken out of it, and work out the calories in three thin slices of cucumber. The weight started to drop off me, but I couldn’t see how ill I was.
I need to make it clear that anorexia is not a choice, a fad, or a diet; it’s an extremely serious and dangerous illness, which is nearly always caused by significant trauma in childhood, as was the case with me.
More rituals developed, and the weight loss continued. I’m not going to go on to describe all those habits and routines because I DO NOT want this to read like an ‘instruction manual’ for anorexia. Suffice it to say; I ended up in the local psychiatric hospital on the eating disorders ward at a very dangerously thin weight of five and a half stone! I was confined to bed and only allowed to use the bathroom with a staff member present. It was so embarrassing.
My first meal there was presented to me two hours after I’d arrived. It was, to my horror, vegetable curry and rice followed by bread-and-butter pudding and two scoops of ice cream. It wasn’t a small portion, either. I don’t think I’d ever felt that sense of panic before. A nurse sat with me and insisted I ate every stone-cold mouthful. I cried, I sobbed, and I begged, all to no avail. I was made to eat all that food despite having terrible pain in my stomach. It seemed barbaric to me. It took me nearly three hours to force the food down. Other than that, they threatened to tube-feed me, and with my phobia of choking, I couldn’t bear the thought of that.
The eating disorders ward had strict rules. Everything was done on a reward and punishment basis. To begin with, I wasn’t allowed phone calls or visitors, not even my family, and I wasn’t allowed out of my room. Weeks passed, and as I gained weight, albeit reluctantly, I was ‘rewarded’ with a phone call to my daughter, then my son and my Mum. They were all worried sick about me and dreadfully upset that I was going through all of this at the same time, realising I was very ill and needed help. There was no way of ‘cheating,’ although some of the people there tried. We would have lost a reward if we lost weight, which was impossible with every mouthful being supervised. It was such a thoroughly miserable time. At the time, I thought it was tortuous; it certainly felt like it.
However, there are only three ways out of anorexia in my mind. One is to get better despite it being painfully hard work (but well worth it); the other is that you spend your life battling with your illness for, possibly, the rest of your years (and believe me, that’s pretty awful), or you die!! It’s as simple as that!
I began to make good progress and started to feel better physically. I was allowed to eat in the dining room with the other inpatients on our ward; I could go to activities and learn about the basic psychology of eating disorders. We were taught about CBT therapy and offered other forms of treatment once our minds had started to recover from the starvation. We were basically given another chance at life, and I was grateful for that.
Finally, after being in hospital for six whole months, I was allowed day leave, and then weekend leave etc. Eventually, I was allowed home but had to attend the day hospital every day.
I don’t think you are ever really ‘cured’ from an eating disorder, but for me, it’s like being in remission, and I never take my life or health for granted. Anorexia is an addiction as well as an illness. Like any addiction, you have to consider yourself in permanent recovery. Now, at the age of 65, I’m making the most of my time and intend to live the rest of my life without harming myself in this way. I’m happy in my life with two adult children and four gorgeous grandchildren. If anyone is reading this and recognises themselves in what I have written, please, please, seek help.
Firstly, I want to say that I know this post is a long one because I wanted to share my experience in full. I hope you can manage to find the time to read it. It would be much appreciated.
Over the last six years, I’ve shared several posts about my dearly-loved late Mum. I wrote at the time she had her stroke, and then, a couple of years later, I wrote a post called THE MISSING MUM YEARS. It explained how, because of my disability, I could not access my Mum’s house, and Mum couldn’t leave there because of her severe agoraphobia, so we didn’t see each other for several years. It was heartbreaking.
It was only a few weeks after Mum’s stroke that she finally left the hospital and went to stay in a stroke rehabilitation unit, where she had her own room, daily physiotherapy and a television. There was wheelchair access to the unit, so I could finally see her regularly. She was, understandably, becoming depressed there because she’d always been so active and was mowing the lawn two weeks before her stroke. Now, she had no movement down her left side and became increasingly frustrated. It was awful to see my Mum like that. She spent three months there before my sisters and I had to decide whether Mum could return to her house as she wished. It was impossible. Mum had lived in a big Victorian terraced house with many stairs, which she just would have been able to manage.
We had many meetings with the hospital staff and the social workers there and finally concluded that Mum would need to go into a care home. It was decided that she would come to a home near me, given that my sisters all worked and lived too far away. I went on the search to find a suitable place, all the time knowing that Mum wasn’t happy about leaving her home after being there for decades. I spent several weeks visiting care homes, but none were suitable.
Finally, I found one called The Lodge. The lovely manager showed me around. I noticed many elderly and disabled residents, some asleep in chairs, some watching TV, and some happily participating in craft activities and bingo. The manager took me to the room that would be Mum’s. I really wanted her room to overlook the garden at the back, but because of the urgency of the situation, the only room they had had a view of the neighbouring house’s roof and a few weeds growing out of the paving down the side of the house.
Her room was almost bare, apart from a bed and a wardrobe. Some faded pictures hung on the walls, and some artificial flowers in a jug on the dressing table. The manager explained that Mum could bring any of her belongings, like pictures, photos, ornaments etc., to make the room more homely. I tried to imagine Mum there, knowing she would hate anywhere I could have found her. She wanted her independence back, but that couldn’t happen.
I felt so guilty because my disability and having no car meant that I was limited in choices of care homes. I would be the only member of my family who would be able to visit Mum regularly. This home had, at least, very kind and caring staff. I went back a couple more times to make sure I thought it would be suitable, knowing full well that Mum would hate being in any home. It was heartbreaking to have to make that choice on my own. A moving-in date was set for the 10th of January, 2017, one day after Mum’s birthday.
When I next visited the stroke unit, I told Mum all about it, ensuring I pointed out all the positive aspects and tried to help her come to terms with her upcoming move. She wasn’t happy, but I felt I had no choice. I would have loved her to come to live with me, but the practicalities made this impossible. She was so unhappy, and it broke my heart to see her this way. A couple of days later, she caught a cold that went to her chest and caused an infection. Then, it developed into pneumonia, meaning she had to return to the city’s main hospital. I saw her frequently, but she wasn’t at all well. My sisters and other family visited her; one sister flew over from Australia. She wasn’t really aware of what was going on, but now I imagine this is such a common scenario; families all flocking around their loved ones’ beds. I can’t help but wonder if she knew why we were there.
By the evening, the family had gone home, leaving just Mum and me. The ward sister allowed me to stay late, so I sat at Mum’s bedside, talking quietly and holding her hand. I sat with her for hours, talking to her and wondering if she could hear me as it wasn’t evident. A nurse came along to check Mum’s sats and said Mum’s oxygen levels were up a bit, and she seemed more alert. I was so relieved at the thought of Mum pulling through this horrible illness.
When I finally got home, feeling a bit more positive, I thought I would be able to see a lot of Mum now that she would live within my wheelchair-driving distance. I felt a little more reassured about the future.
And then, came the next morning and the phone rang very early. I hesitated before picking it up. As soon as I heard the sister’s voice, I knew it would be bad news. She spoke softly as she said my Mum had passed away about half an hour ago. I was devastated and put the phone down with tears streaming down my face. As the oldest daughter, I had the job of informing the rest of the family.
Looking back now, I’m almost sure that Mum had lost the will to live because of not being able to go back to her beloved home and having to go into a care facility. It was the 30th of December 2016, and only a few days before she was due to move to the home. I truly believe now that it was a blessing that she left us then rather than go into this care facility. She’d always been such a positive, independent woman, and this was her way of escaping the reality of her future.
My biggest regret that haunts me to this day is that Mum died alone in hospital with no one to hold her hand as she slipped away. I just can’t come to terms with this. Perhaps, I will do in time.
RIP, My precious and so much-loved Mum, 30/12/16
(I was prompted to write this piece after reading a post from Cindy Georgakas. Thanks, Cindy xx)
I never remember my dreams, but last night, I woke up at 2.30am in a state of panic and fear. I’d had a nightmare, only this time, I remembered it vividly. I have no idea where it came from; I hadn’t been talking to anyone about my experience, and it wasn’t in my mind yesterday. I’m left wondering why I would remember this now. As I wrote this, I was shaking, recalling every detail as if it were yesterday. These are my memories of that time.
I remember when I was five. and only very small I got measles and constant nosebleeds and had to go into hospital
It was called ‘The German Hospital’ It treated contagious infections I was scared and wanted my teddy bear At five, I needed affection
But it turned out to be a prison and I was shut up all day in a cot and when Mummy and Daddy left me there I was only a little tot
Hardly anyone came to see me I was in total isolation Even the nurses who came every few hours just gave me nasty medication
I couldn’t get out of the cot though I’d stand there and call and cried Surrounded by four solid walls and trapped in there, inside
And I added my own tooth marks to those that were there before on the cot rail, in utter despair hoping someone would walk through the door
Not another child did I see the whole time I was in there Mummy and Daddy didn’t visit much and nobody seemed to care
Not even an ounce of kindness did I get in that awful place and I stood for hours, rocking my cot with tears streaming down my face.
Yesterday, I wrote a post called, ‘The Day Before‘. So many of you (my friends and blogging buddies) were encouraging, kind, thoughtful, and caring, sending me your love and best wishes. I can’t tell you how much that support and love from you meant to me. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. However, as I had feared …
I got home at about 3.30 pm (it’s now 8.15 pm), but I’ve been trying to get myself back into a space where I can communicate without breaking down again. I could hardly see the screen on my laptop through my tears. I feel totally exhausted from crying so much.
The counselling with my lovely counsellor, C., is definitely ending on 21st December, and there is absolutely no chance of continuing to see her again after that date. I’m devastated and heartbroken 💔. I have been through so much despair and heartache with her trying to come to terms with the frequent child sexual abuse and rape that I suffered from the age of eight until I was twelve. I haven’t said those exact words on my blog before, apart from the odd mention in my poetry, but, there it is – in black and white, as that is the truth of what happened to me.
I’m only part of the way through working on this awful trauma, and now I will be completely alone and without my counsellor. We spoke, in between my tears, about going onto the waiting list for general counselling, which I would have to pay for. Up until now, I’ve been treated under the Eating Disorders’ umbrella, which has been free. General counselling would be less specific and, although, my eating habits aren’t as bad as they were, I definitely can’t say that I’ve recovered from those issues.
C said she would speak to the organisation’s manager to see whether they would even accept me under the general team. She said, as I feared, there is a long waiting list. As it is, the counselling offices are closed from the 21st of December until the middle of January 2023. So, I know I’m in for a long wait. I feel panic-stricken at the thought of going it all alone until a place comes up (that’s if they accept me). I really don’t know how to cope with this situation. If I’m accepted (and I won’t know this till December), I’ve got to find the funds to pay for it. As I said in my last post, I can’t afford to heat my home this winter (I appreciate the ideas that people have suggested that might help). Something is going to have to give. It’s a case of whether I heat my home or eat decent food.
Assuming I am accepted, it will mean starting all over again with a completely new and unfamiliar counsellor. I don’t know if I can face going over all those painful memories once again. I feel despairing. My doctor is phoning me on Friday; I will have to update her. There is nothing else she can do. I’m exhausted with all the emotion and will have an early night accompanied by two Diazepam to attempt to give me some respite from what feels like being in the hall of crazy, distorted mirrors at the funfair. It just sums up how my life feels today – crazy and distorted.
Please forgive me if I missed reading your blogs today. I can hardly keep my eyes open. I will catch up with some, or I may have to miss today’s blogs and start afresh tomorrow. Thank you for listening. Until tomorrow … Love Ellie Xx 🖤
TODAY IS THE DAY BEFORE. It’s the day before I see my counsellor (C). She was away last week, so I’ve had to wait two long, painful weeks for an answer. Tomorrow is the day C tells me whether I can continue to see her after my last session, which is due on the 21st of December this year. Up until now, my therapy has been free under the council-funded Eating Disorders service, where I got six months of treatment, for which I’m very grateful.
However, now I cannot get any funding to continue seeing C under the general health team at that counselling organisation. It’s not just that, but there is a waiting list of ten months to even be considered. I can afford a little, but not the average fee for counselling, which is in the region of £50 – £60 per session. On the improbable off chance that C can continue with me without the ten-month wait, I will have to find the money. As it is, I struggle to make ends meet, and because of the UK cost of living crisis, I can’t even afford to have any heating on this winter. Being cold is miserable, but I’ll put up with it if it means I can continue to see C. I’m counting the hours and minutes until I go for my session tomorrow. I feel absolutely sick with worry.
All that aside, I have also lost three people this week (not through deaths, thankfully.) Their losses have been a blow, nevertheless. I had a Befriender from the Hospice who had phoned me every Friday – we’ve been chatting for nearly a year – just day-to-day stuff, like friends. She called me on Friday to say this was her last call as she was leaving the service to work with her daughter.
The same day, I had a call from my lovely pharmacy assistant, who’s been dispensing my medication for the last ten years, and whom I got to know on first-name terms and almost like friends. She always had time for a quick chat.
Finally, I had a call from Amy, who works for the NHS Wellbeing Team. She told me, very kindly, that because my mental health has deteriorated, she can no longer work with me. I just can’t figure that one out.
I’ve seen images on Google that say something along the lines of the picture below. Sadly, it’s no consolation to me right now. Please, wish me luck for tomorrow and keep your fingers crossed that the decision goes in my favour. I will update my situation either tomorrow or within a few days depending on the outcome.
Thank you to all my amazing and beautiful friends and readers who have been there for me on every step of my recent painful journey. Love Ellie Xx 🖤
Okay … time to be honest and confess. I’m stressed. Extremely stressed. I’ve had so much on my plate lately that I’m struggling to cope with anything other than the usual routine of life. I’ve denied my own needs and am mentally exhausted. I’m hardly even going out these days. Staying cooped up all day isn’t good for my mental health either. I’ve spent so much time and energy, both mentally and physically, getting ready for my family to stay with me, and now that the rooms are finished, I find myself in a state of near collapse. This isn’t something I like to admit readily (or publicly), yet here I am doing precisely that.
I’m w-a-a-a-y behind on so many things, not least of which is keeping up with reading my blogging friends’ posts. My brain is frazzled. My concentration shot to pieces. When I do read a post, I take it in and appreciate it and show that with a ‘like,’ but making enough sense to leave even a semi-worthy comment is proving too challenging. I’ve recently been apologising a lot for my inadequacies – for not keeping up, whether it’s reading blogs or making phone calls to friends and family.
Tomorrow, my friend has suggested we go out for lunch. She’s worried about me and tells me I need a break. She’s right, of course; admitting that to her is one thing, but admitting it to myself is something else entirely. It’ll tear me away from my laptop, to which I’ve become permanently joined at the hip, and that can’t be healthy for anyone. On Tuesdays, I take part in a garden project. It’s enjoyable, social and relaxing. I took a break from it recently as I had other priorities. I think now is the time to resume that hobby. The last time I was there, we were picking gorgeously-perfumed sweet peas – one of my favourite flowers.
Some of you will know I wrote a post about the changes going on for me at home. I wasn’t at all happy with my writing standard yesterday and seriously considered deleting it. Being a self-inflicted perfectionist isn’t doing me any favours right now. I’ve thought long and hard about writing this post and hope you will understand. I will still be here, happy to read your posts as always and perhaps, writing when inspiration strikes, but I am giving myself permission to not put myself under so much pressure to say the right things, to constantly apologise for not keeping up and making myself feel so inadequate for a while, or at least, until I’ve got my mental health sorted out a little more. So, please, don’t be offended if I don’t leave my usual style of lengthy comments. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate your writing; just that I need to give my mind a break.
It wasn’t easy to write this post. It feels like giving up, like failure or admitting defeat, but needs must, and I owe it to myself to be sensible. Keep writing as beautifully as you ever do, my friends, and I’ll catch up with you as and when I can. Thank you for your understanding. I appreciate it in advance. Much love, Ellie xx 💝