Best Foot Forward …

The only photo of me in the flesh that you’re likely to ever see! I’m shy.
Make the most of it – it’s not likely to happen again 😉!

I thought I’d give you a little background information about my disability. It’s not something I’ve previously spoken about much in my blog, so this is my story.

I started life as an able-bodied little girl who did all the usual activities that young children do. I was always small, skinny and underweight, but there were advantages to being as I was. I could shin up the gym apparatus faster than many children in my class. Considering I was sometimes thought of as a weed, I did pretty well. I grew up, married, had my two children, Tom and Clare, and then my ex left. I continued to raise the children alone and also had to work to bring some money in for us to live on. It was a tough time, but I was very content. Between school runs, the children’s football matches and netball, I was a carer and home help for ten years (I’d initially trained as a secretary and worked in the City of London for several years). I combined my work which I loved, with caring for Tom and Clare; we were a very happy little family.

When the children were about thirteen and eleven, I saved enough to take them to the funfair in town (Essex in the UK). It was there that I had my accident which was to change the course of my life.
When our carriage crashed, I felt a tremendous jolt that jarred my neck and spine. Eventually, after a lengthy spell in hospital (with my children staying with my Mum) and with many tests, x-rays, scans and examinations, the doctors decided I’d damaged the nerve endings leading from my spine. They said it was permanent. It was an awful lot to come to terms with, but over time, I grew, not so much to accept it but more to live my life despite it. I wasn’t about to give in easily. The pain was awful, though, and I was on morphine for quite a while. It wasn’t all bad – I was away with the fairies much of the time 😄!

Fast forward twenty years. It was recommended that I have a DEXA Scan as osteoporosis was suspected, given that I’d always been small-boned, had experienced a few years previously with anorexia, and being unable to exercise very often. When I got my results, I was unsure who was more shocked, the radiographer or me. My T-scores were appallingly low. A score of -2.5 indicates osteoporosis, but mine was -4.5, which meant I had severe osteoporosis.

Degrees of osteoporosis
Mine is severe, meaning there is more air space (in brown) and very little solid bone (shown in beige). It’s a wonder I haven’t entirely disintegrated!!

I was told I could die if I fractured my hip or be left even more disabled if I injured my spine. I have to admit I was scared – very scared. Every move I made seemed risky, and I lived in fear for a while. I became super-careful with everything I did, but two years ago, I tripped over Peanut (my new cat) while transferring from my wheelchair to my walking frame. There I was being rushed off to Accident & Emergency for the second time. I was in agony. I’ve never felt pain like it. After all the x-rays and scans came back, the doctors announced that I’d broken my pelvis, not once, not twice, but in six different places. I don’t do things by halves. If I’m going to have an accident, I’ve got to do it in style!

Strangely enough, contrary to what most people would think, I don’t have any regrets; I’m not angry or bitter or in the least bit dissatisfied with my life. I am who I am. Without the experiences I’ve been through, I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be Ellie.

My next post (Part Two) will be about my journey back to good health and where I intend to go from here on in.

Okay … these aren’t my legs, but just an indication of where I go next on my journey. Look out for part two.

Fast Forward

Photo credit – Unsplash

Okay – you’ve guessed it! That’s not me in the above photo! Surprised? I didn’t think you would be. It’s just that it was difficult finding an image of a wheelchair in motion. You mean to say I had you fooled for a moment 😁? No? I’ll retract that then!

It’s now only three days since I got home from being in hospital. I’m still absolutely exhausted and rather sore (only to be expected). What I want to say is that I’m running as fast as I can to catch up with all (or at least some) of your posts that I’ve missed while I was away from home. I’m not succeeding very well so far. My concentration is shot to pieces, and I currently have the attention span of a gnat. Nevertheless, I remain optimistic and know this is only a temporary blip. I’ll soon be back on form and communicating with everyone a bit more efficiently. Don’t expect miracles too soon, though.

So, that’s where I’m at right now. Please, bear with me a little longer till I get my oomph back. I’m managing to read one of two of your posts but can’t get my brain enough in gear to comment. I feel like I’ve got a head full of rice pudding. Don’t ask me to expand on that thought further.

In the meantime, thank you all for your kind comments and for caring about me. I do love my WordPress family. Have a great rest of the day (unless it’s the middle of the night where you are). Love to you all. Ellie xx 💖🥰💞

Home From Hospital

I just thought I’d pop in briefly to let you know I’m home from hospital now. My friend came and collected me from the hospital this morning and was kind enough to stay some of the day at home with me. You’ll be pleased to hear my operation was successful. There was a minor complication, but the hospital really did look after me well. I have to visit my GP in ten days to have my stitches taken out. I’m also on antibiotics, still somewhat wiped out and have very little energy. Not surprising, though. Early days yet.

I was lucky to have been on a reasonably quiet ward, or as quiet as wards can be, with the general hustle and bustle of hospital staff being as busy as they are. That, along with a variety of pings and beeps from hospital equipment. The doctors and nurses were all lovely, and so were the care workers and cleaners, and I feel grateful for being cared for so well. What would we do without the NHS?

My home help, a good friend, is coming over a couple of extra times over the next week to make sure I’m okay and see if there’s anything I need. It’s very kind of her, and I appreciate it. My neighbour got some shopping in for me yesterday, so I’ve got food, although I’m not very hungry. The hospital food was yummy, and they even had a good choice of vegan meals which surprised me. I think food always tastes nicer if someone else has cooked it for you!

I probably won’t write much for a few days yet as I’m still pretty exhausted. I don’t think I’ve got all of the anaesthetic out of my system yet, either. I will try and catch up with some of your recent posts as soon as I can. I’ve missed you all being part of my life. It’s funny how people we don’t really know away from WordPress can become a big part of our lives.


I’ll say night-night now as I’m going up to bed early. I might even let Peanut, my cat, come up with me as I think she missed me while I was away. A neighbour popped in a couple of times a day to ensure she had enough food, water and a clean litter tray. I missed her too.

Mostly, I wanted to thank all of you, my blogging buddies and readers, for your very kind comments and good wishes – I’ve just had time to read some of them. It’s lovely to know people care, and it means a lot to me. See you all soon. Xx .💟

Hospital Break

TO ALL MY READERS AND FELLOW BLOGGERS,

UNEXPECTED NEWS

This brief but important post is to let all my readers and fellow bloggers know that I’ve unexpectedly got to go into hospital for an urgent operation tomorrow 😢. I’m being picked up first thing in the morning, so, as you can imagine, I have an awful lot to do to get myself ready for my inpatient stay. The hospital estimates that I’ll be there for anything up to a week, depending on how the operation goes.

I sincerely apologise to all my blogging friends that it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to read your posts from now until I’m home and recovered again. However, if, after my surgery, I’m feeling well enough, I’ll try and catch up with some of you from the hospital as I’ll have my phone with me. You never know, I might even feel up to writing a short post from my bed!

In the meantime, please, stay safe and well and keep writing all the beautiful pieces that you all do so well. For now, take care of yourselves, and I’ll look forward to catching up as soon as I’m able. Thank you all for your understanding. Group hug 🤗🤗🤗 – Ellie xx 💜💖💙

The Missing Mum Years

My childhood home

This is my dear late Mum’s house as it stands now. It was my childhood home until I married at twenty years of age and moved out. I’ve been reminiscing about this house over the last couple of days. One of my sisters had been back to visit there recently. Although she advised me against it, I asked her to share her photo with me. Big mistake! Huge mistake, in fact. It’s no longer how I remember it. Gone is the beautiful orange door (not that it’s visible in this picture) – it’s been replaced by a dull grey. The window frames have all been painted stark white over the original orange. Orange was Mum’s favourite colour. The steps outside are also not visible in this photo. The neat box hedge has completely overgrown, as has the glorious pink azalea shrub. I feel so sad. I shouldn’t have asked to see this photo. I should have known it would be different now, six years after losing my Mum. I still miss her so much. I always will.

The steps at the front of the house were a barrier for me for the last four years before Mum passed away. Being a wheelchair user now, there was no way I could climb them to get into the house. To make matters worse, Mum was severely agoraphobic, which meant she couldn’t leave there. It meant that we didn’t see each other for all that time. It broke my heart (and hers). We spoke on the phone a lot, especially towards the end. I would call two or three times a day to check she was okay. She mainly was as fit as a fiddle … until she had her stroke. Before that happened, she would vigorously mow the grass, raking it up, digging and planting flowers and tomatoes.

Those last four years were so painful. I didn’t feel sorry myself; I never did, but I felt angry and frustrated about my disability stopping me from seeing her. It was hard to come to terms with, and we missed each other terribly. The only time I got to see her in those last years was when, towards the end, she was admitted to hospital after her stroke. Hospitals are nearly always accessible. She was never the same after that happened. I wrote a post about this at the time. You can read about it at https://elliethompson.uk/2016/11/26/grief-without-death/.

I’m glad I can’t see the inside of the house; it must be so different now, and it would only upset me further. The kitchen was always my favourite room. The kitchen units were orange, as was her one-person teapot, which sat permanently on the side waiting to be filled. She loved her cups of tea and her toast and marmalade, which she’d have for breakfast every morning. After we lost Mum, there were all the usual formalities to arrange; the funeral, the interment, the house to sort out etc. My sisters came from various parts of the country to deal with all this, but I had no choice, being unable to go up those damn steps. My sisters were very kindly involving me as much as possible by taking pictures of everything, so I could decide what I’d like to have. I chose Mum’s little orange teapot. It reminded me so much of her.

Mum’s orange teapot sitting comfortably on my kitchen windowsill

I have a tradition now. Every year, on Mum’s birthday and on Mother’s Day, I take myself off to a quaint tea shop in my city. I order myself a pot of tea (I usually drink coffee) and some toast and marmalade. Sometimes, I order a slice of cake – Mum always enjoyed her cake. Having recently bought the loveliest card I could find in John Lewis, I sit for a couple of hours and write to her. I write it as a conversation between us, just as if she were there with me, drinking tea and eating toast or cake. It makes me feel closer to her at those times. I wish she were still here to join me. But, however much I write, it’ll never make up for those four years when I couldn’t see her. I missed so much of her later life. I think I’ll always miss her – the pain doesn’t lessen. Perhaps, it will in time.

THE THERAPIST (J.G.)

therapist and client

Having not having written regularly for some time due to family circumstances, I suddenly find myself writing again and recently this and the previous post (poem), both of which have a lot of meaning for me, are very serious topics.

As those of you who have known me for a while will be aware, I had, some years ago, an emotionally abusive and very damaging relationship with a therapist (who I am no longer with). This affected my mental health hugely and I was hospitalised for a while following this ending.

I still carry a lot of anger about this although I have tried to deal with it in my current counselling. I wrote this poem which I feel, is certainly ‘telling’ of what was happening during those years with her and why I am finding it hard to deal with my anger and find forgiveness as I, perhaps, as I should for my own benefit. 

I lie amongst the shadows

The new born of the old

Such innocence destroyed

Yet, none of this foretold

~~~

The tales we spun together

Which she led me to believe

Magnified reality

Their purpose to deceive

~~~

The I Ching books and Angel Cards

Were poetry in motion

* William Blake’s descriptions

Assured of my devotion

~~~

My identity was stolen

Soon a puppet on a string

I learned to tell more stories

And I wrote of everything

~~~

She pulled me to her bosom

She offered me affection

A love I thought forever

Then came the cruel rejection

~~~

I wonder where she came from

As she led me down the lane

Leaving me abruptly

In excruciating pain

  • The reference to William Blake refers to the fact that his book, ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’ was the poetry book that JG gave me as the first of many gifts

It has taken me a great deal of courage to write this and I know much can be read into this poem so if you have any comments or views, I will happy to reply to them. Thank you for taking the time to read this, Ellie.

STROKE – COMPASSIONATE LEAVE

Image result for Right Brain Stroke Damage

Life has had a nasty habit of throwing us curveballs now and then. That ball has certainly knocked me down many times, but I think the important thing is that it’s not how far I fall but whether I can get up again from there. That’s true for everybody at some time, but I feel like I’ve had to do an awful lot of climbing back up over the years.

I don’t feel sorry for myself though as we all have to cope with this experience we call life. I’ve had a significant knockdown just recently which is limiting the amount of time that I have to write my blog – not that you could ever really call me a prolific writer – I’d say more a sporadic writer.

Right now, things are tough and a real challenge. My mum was sick before I wrote my last post – she was in a local hospital with pneumonia. That was bad enough. She is elderly and becoming rather frail now, and illnesses and accidents are becoming a common occurrence now, in her 87th year.

A week later while still on the ward, Mum was found collapsed in the bathroom – she’d had a stroke. The very thing she had always dreaded and said: “It’ll never happen to me”. I thought, until this event, perhaps somewhat naively she was going to be right – that she would live to an even riper old age than she was already.

An ambulance rushed her to the main City Hospital. A friend took me there later that day, and it was a real shock. There was my mum, laying almost helplessly unable to do anything. The whole of one side of her body was lifeless. She couldn’t move her arm or her leg; she couldn’t sit up – not even with support – she lurched sideways into a sad heap and had no balance. Her face had dropped so that her eyelid drooped and what was left of her smile had been taken away.

Two weeks later, she still hasn’t made much progress in her movements. Her speech is slurred, very soft and infrequent as her cognitive function has also been affected so that her brain is working much more slowly to process information. She’s unable to swallow properly so is on a diet of small portions of rather undignified, pureed food which she still manages to pull a face at in an odd way and I just know she’s thinking, “Why am I being given baby food?” I can’t begin to imagine how awful it must be for her to be trapped inside her mind without being able to express herself clearly or barely communicate.

Needless to say, her appetite is almost non-existent, and I can’t say I blame her when food has to be spoonfed into her now crooked mouth. Pureed shepherd’s pie and carrots, having been liquidised within an inch of their life, wouldn’t appeal much to me either.

I am travelling up to the City Hospital every other day (a journey by train in my wheelchair, George of two-and-a-half hours each way). I spend as long as I can with my mum but then return home along with the hoards of workers turning out from their places of work to head homeward. Travelling with an electric wheelchair is not fun when all around me are rushing, pushing and shoving to get home after a long day or a long shift.

As you will have gathered, I might not be able to make an appearance very often at the moment, so please excuse me if I have been unable to read, like or comment on your blog. I have only had the time to sort through the most important emails and phone calls, and it’s likely to be that way for some time. Thank you for your understanding, my friends 😦

SHATTERED

shattered woman face

They say it never rains but it pours! The last few months has been one long succession of dramatic events, unfortunate happenings, life problems, family dramas and … need I go on?

Things are particularly bad right now which may explain the absence of posts again on my part and the same goes for reading all of your blogs. What can I do but apologize once more?

Right now, my Mum is in the main City Hospital, Trauma Unit after an accident. She has fractured her spine in two places and fractured her skull along with her nose. She also has kidney damage. Basically, she is truly shattered. She is on oxygen to help her breathe and is fairly out of it most of the time because of the powerful painkilling medicines she is receiving. She is in a neck brace because she has fractured a bone at the base of her skull too.

I am obviously extremely worried and upset, as you can imagine. I’m fifty miles away from Mum with no car to get there. I managed to get down there on Thursday with George (my new wheelchair) but it was a very difficult journey – three trains and two buses each way for me to get to the hospital on my own.

I found her fast asleep when I went in, partly because of the strong painkillers and partly exhaustion. After an hour, I woke her very gently and told I was there She couldn’t speak much but I know she knew that I was there.

She’s hardly able to eat and is not drinking much either. Fortunately, she is on a drip and is lying flat on her back with nothing to look at but a blank ceiling most of the time. That’s make her feel quite depressed (hardly surprising  under the circumstances).

Basically, my Mum is shattered! And as you can imagine, I am shattered, emotionally too. It’s awful to see my Mum in so much pain and with such severe injuries. I am thinking about her day and night and only wish that I could take her place so she didn’t have to suffer so much. I would in an instant. Mum is eighty-six and is physically, mentally and emotionally, a broken woman. My heart is breaking knowing that she is going through so much.

PIECES OF ME

pieces of me sad girl drawing

It’s taking me a long time to recover from the assault I experienced and wrote about last week which I suppose it to be expected. Although I realize how lucky I am to be still here, I haven’t got over the shock and the awful trauma of it all yet and sometimes I just dissolve into pieces and floods of tears.

I have spent the last week being interviewed by the police in the aftermath of what happened to me.  The Victim Support organization have been in touch too and have offered me one to one emotional support for as long as I need it which I appreciate and need so much right now. My GP and the hospital have been so understanding and are helping me recover, physically from the attack.

However, I’m living in fear each day of every knock on the door, every car that pulls up near my house, every unexpected noise or movement even though I know that this ‘man’ is in police custody and can’t reach me. That doesn’t stop me having nightmares. Nor does it stop the overwhelming flashbacks that are almost as real as the event itself.

I’ve told very few people other than the professionals who are dealing with and supporting me. At some point, I have to tell my family as they have guessed something isn’t right even though the nearest of them lives over 60 km away from me. They suspect something is wrong despite how hard I’ve tried to disguise a cracking voice and although they cannot see my tear-stained face. I didn’t want to tell them…

Echoes from decades ago of the instructions from my father, ‘not to say a word’, ring in my ears. “Don’t tell,” “mustn’t tell,” whisper through the trees even on a night like tonight when a storm is raging outside, the river has swollen, and the crab apple tree in the back garden has come down. The outside world so accurately depicts what’s going on inside my head. My heart thump, thump, thumps on the inside of my chest, threatening to break through the delicate tissue of my breast.

The utter shame I felt as a child has returned although I know, logically, now although not then, that the shame belongs one-hundred percent with the offender and the perpetrator.

Nevertheless, I am still in pieces and will take some time to mend.

 

MY MUM IS SICK

This isn’t going to be a clever or intelligent or even vaguely interesting post. It will probably be full of uncorrected spelling and grammatical mistakes but right now I DON’T CARE. I CAN’T. I CAN’T EVEN THINK. This is purely a self-preservation act. I am so stressed that I could almost ask to be admitted into my local psychiatric hospital (which I hate really) but just to get some respite, get away from this world, get relief from my problems and responsibilities and most of all to get away from my feelings. I pray in desperation to my Father who is my rock in times of trouble, (Psalm 6:2  I am worn out, O Lord; have pity on me!  Give me strength; I am completely exhausted).

My Mum is very sick. She is in a hospital 45 miles from me and I have no way of getting there to see her or be able to help her. All I can do is to phone and see how she is doing every day, and wait and pray that the Lord heals her (Matthew 4:23   Jesus went all over Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the Good News about the Kingdom, and healing people who had all kinds of disease and sickness).

Mum is 85; she has double pneumonia and kidney failure and we don’t know whether she is going to make it.She has been put on a ward where there are five other elderly patients, three of whom have Alzheimers and are continually shouting and calling out. I know that they are ill too and I so feel for them but Mum is used to living quietly on her own and is so distressed by these disturbances.

I feel so powerless to be of any help to other than to be a listening ear at the end of the phone when she is well enough to speak and then it is difficult to understand her as she is so breathless when she tries to talk. Mostly, she is too poorly to chat and then I ring the nurse’s station and ask the nurse in charge of Mum’s care how she is doing. I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on anything much as Mum is constantly on my mind. I couldn’t bare to lose her. We are so close, in heart at least, not miles which means I don’t see her much.

Mum lives in an old Victorian terraced house that’s getting pretty tumbledown with age. It has four concrete steps up to the front door which I cannot access in my wheelchair which means I can no longer going into her house. If she makes it through this illness (and I pray she does), she may never be able to manage those steps again as her walking has been affected. That means she she will be unable to come out and I will be unable to go in. How will I ever see her again? Will I be able to see her again? I feel distraught.