Mrs Claus visits the sexy superstore!

They say children Sam’s age have no prejudices and I can absolutely believe it. Sam’s only requirements for someone to be an authentic Father Christmas is male and a red fur trimmed hat. Any bloke… any race, any age, any degree of facial fur, any BMI, can indeed be Father Christmas PROVIDING he has the hat. Having said that maybe male is not actually a requirement.

During a recent journey on a stretch of dual carriageway past an industrial estate he had us slow down as he had positively identified “Farjha Kishmas in the sky”. I couldn’t understand his insistence (assuming some bloke nearby had a hat meeting his wide criteria), until I spotted the sleigh…. on the roof of a branch of the adult shop, Pulse and Cocktails. The sleigh was being manned (or womanned) by two female mannequins in suspenders and fur trimmed red lacy-racy-wear. I said “My oh my, Mrs Claus has taken Rudolf for a spin…and just look at her Sammy, she’ll catch a cold with no trousers on!”

img_3828

This is the first year Sam has really recognised our annual period of winter festivities (at only a year old- Alice is still in Wonderland). He does not refer to it simply as Christmas, he believes it to be a double barrelled celebration known as Christmas-Tree. When asked what the jolly bloke says he will shout Ho Ho Ho merry Christmas tree or more specifically “Ho Ho Ho Merrwy Kishmas Free” he also immediately breaks into a tone deaf version of “winkle winkle ritter star” as soon as I flick the plug switch on the fairy lights. Christmas has this year provided me with endless amusements.

Fairy lights are in fact almost the only thing left on our “kishmas free” as between him, his sister, and the cat they have orchestrated a near perfect assault on everything dangly.

img_3471
Please note this was minutes after its construction.

I hear a tinkle… and then a rustle, which alerts me to the likelihood of another raid. I have on one occasion; found Alice under it gathering low lying targets to lick/gnaw individually, Sam was stood on the stairs attempting to remove his favourite decoration the “chicken house”, which is actually a tiny painted wooden bird house and the spider-ninja-cat was two branch levels away from the supreme objective (AKA the star).

img_3844
Please note the remaining 6 baubles and raggedy lighting

I thought logically, I thought sensibly, I thought practically. So I put my Tesco 6 foot falsey out in the hall. Why? Because there is a door, a door that can be closed. I am not a twit, it is a given that being the registered owner of two toddlers it would be something of a temptation and I had no doubt it would be an exasperating nuisance by the time the fat man flumped down my chimney (well squeezed through my boiler vent as that is the best I have to offer). But I didn’t quite expect the methodical destruction the trio have accomplished.

Even though it has no trimmings for four feet, each evening when I shut the living room curtains, I flick the switch in the understairs cupboard and see the hall light up festive and multicoloured with the now lopsided hanging lights. They sparkle in the tooth dinted plastic baubles (now concentrated above the reach level) and I get that wash of warm sentimental feeling that only the Danish have a word for (Hygge) and while Sam sings his “winkle winkle ritter star” I sing “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree how empty are your branches”.

img_3507

Then…

I chase the kids and the cat into the living room and swiftly slam the hall door shut!

Go on then Soph, give us the gossip! What’s been occurring lass?

So where have I been? Why was my last blog post two months ago? Quite simply my body for the first time in my life decided to let me down physically. Me = strong like bull? No! Me = shit like … well shit! Totally shit.

If I was a car I began clunking and squeaking in early September: I started vomiting, and I vomited for 6 weeks, I wasn’t ill with a stomach bug but every other day saliva randomly started streaming from my mouth like a tap (it would easily have filled a cup) before inevitably hugging the porcelain. I was also having patches of fatigue. Not tiredness (ho ho I know tired… two kids under two teaches you what tired REALLY means) but fatigued like blocks of concrete encasing each limb laying on the rug wondering if I left the door unlocked for someone to find me. My eyelids would droop and I lost the ability to open them. I couldn’t control the muscles voluntarily. They just stuck at half closed.

My right arm then got pins and needles and it fizzed and crackled down into my fingers and my forearm felt dead like I had had a local anaesthetic. My balance began deteriorating and I was stumbling when I tipped my head back or leaned forward. If I shut my eyes I could easily hit the ground before I knew I was tipping. Cue multiple trips to the GP.

Following a day out to the train museum for Sam, I was on York Train Station platform and my legs started to feel rubbery. Like they weren’t my own (think Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers) . I couldn’t control or coordinate their movements properly and my upper body began jerking to correct the imbalance. My dad asked “are you dancing?” I answered  “no”… At which point I went careering to the right and was put (by those around me) onto the platform floor. I gathered myself (embarrassed) and got home blaming a long day walking and low blood sugar.

Two days later I was out shopping and again my walking became uncoordinated. My right leg felt like a cheese string, my hip was popping forward and my upper body swayed and jerked around on its own accord. But this time it didn’t stop. I was frightened. I got home and by then my right knee was dancing entirely independently just buckling and wobbling incessantly, after a call to 111 I went to the walk-in-centre and then was admitted straight to the hospital. My mum drove me, but walking the long hospital corridors to Medical Assessment my whole upper body was writhing and jerking, so much so I had a wheelchair brought as I was holding onto the wall and just daren’t let go. The lovely nurses kept asking “and this has just come on today”as they rammed a cannula in my vein.

img_2522

Both me and my mum sat there on the dark ward surrounded by curtains and beeps glancing and smiling at each other, trying to reassure the other it was all OK while inside we were both silently convinced I had a brain bleed or a tumour.

My body was moving entirely by itself. Involuntarily. I couldn’t walk properly. I kept thinking. “What if I have something life threatening, the babies might not have a mummy! Oh my god, I didn’t tell them that I loved them in their cots before I left”. I was really that scared. But carried on smiling and joking… Sophie style.

By morning the writhing (“chorea like movements”) had stopped and I settled into a twitch and leg shaking dance routine and I was moved out of assessment to another ward. I was sent for urgent scans, they found a lesion in my cervical spine and two smaller lesions in my brain however these they did not feel could account for my movements. So after a horrendous collection of cock-ups (blood tests being lost twice, my notes being misplaced twice, delays of weeks on necessary tests and a total waste of time in farcical outpatient appointments… I was sent to a different hospital with an excellent neurology ward to try and get to the bottom of it. I was put in a specialist bay with 24/7 CCTV monitoring of the beds, had wires stuck to my scalp, strobe lights flashed repeatedly in my eyes, I have been recorded on medical student videos, I have stared at black and white chequered screens, worn eye patches, I have sat in my knickers and been hit with hammers and poked with prongs by 6 different consultants (haha including being whacked repeatedly on my chin), I have been marched/run up and down wards, I have had fluid drained from my spine, I have had my nose and groin swabbed, my throat scraped, my veins emptied and I have spent hours inside an MRI machine… but…I have also had a wonderful selection of hospital puddings!

So what’s wrong with me?

I have a diagnosis of FND (Functional Neurological Disorder).

img_3554So what’s that? Well it means that on all the tests that they have done my results have been negative. However my central nervous system is not processing signals correctly. If I was a computer my hardware would be hunky-dory but my software is knackered.

So how is this treated? The condition is not well understood. I get the impression it’s a bit of an inconvenience to neurologists because there is no known disease of my nervous system for them to treat. Therefore I am thrown at physiotherapists and psychiatrists (but referral times are painfully slow). The relentless movements have not stopped now for 7 weeks (just imagine your muscles involuntarily jerking day in day out with only sleep stopping them) I have been prescribed a sedative medication for seizures to control the myoclonic jerks. I also have muscle fasciculations which mean they visibly ripple and twang under my skin frequently (while asleep and awake). I also have visual issues.

How do I feel?

img_3449

Beyond grateful that I am not going to die, but distraught that I am stuck. Cast adrift to cope with an awful affliction that has changed my life, for an unknown period of time. The GP has signed me off work, I have to notify the DVLA so I could lose my driving license, I walk with a stick, I cannot tolerate florescent lighting (as I am now photosensitive) which means shopping is a trauma and I am wearing prescription tinted NHS issued glasses (that unfortunately have little impact on the vertigo and disorientation that I feel under lights- plus they make me look a knob). And all this while caring for two busy babies. I could honestly curl up like a cooked prawn and stay under my duvet for eternity.

But I won’t.
Because I can’t.
Because the sun comes up and the kids need breakfast.

Many people have said “at least it’s not MS” (with great kindness and well wishes) and good god I would NOT wish MS on anyone but at least I would understand the monster tearing up my world, at least there would be some magic potions to just have a quick bash at, doctors would have a clue, and there would be something tangible to point my anger at and scream “you wanking shitbag twat disease”. Instead all I can think is “your weakness has ruined you Soph, your weak mind has blown a gasket and left your nervous system in tatters”.

Thoughts that I am reassuring myself with to help me understand this odd diagnosis:

Migraines- Are real, cause real suffering and visual disturbance; flashing lights/vision loss etc. but do not show up on scans
Irritable Bowel Syndrome- Is real, it is a ‘functional’ disorder and causes suffering despite no detectable abnormalities showing on tests
Tourette’s- Is real, it’s a neuropsychiatric disorder. Causes involuntary actions/vocalisations, however is not fully understood and does not show up on tests/scans.

So conditions can be real without positive tests/scans, and despite it not being fully understood by medicine.

What is the plan then Stan? To be honest right now… I don’t have one. I am just gathering the bits strewn all over in the storm and I will try to assemble some order again.

But one experience keeps popping up in my mind: It was a lady in the bed across from me on the neurology ward. She explained she was likely receiving the same diagnosis as me of FND. But she could not walk at all. She could not go to the toilet by herself. She could not use or feel her left arm and she couldn’t even drink from a cup so she had to use a feeder that they use for people with late stage dementia etc. When I got the diagnosis explained I got upset. When I opened my curtains (once I had sorted my smudged panda eyes). The lady in that bed told me I was right to cry but that I CAN deal with this. She told me I am strong and needed to be so for my babies. She told me I couldn’t help my symptoms and she told me I wasn’t a freak.
I had seen her in the night in our dimly lit bay (as neither of us could sleep) we didn’t talk, but in her, I saw myself. She would fidget endlessly and sit up restless, exhausted and frustrated with herself, clearly desperate and worried. But when her family arrived in the morning she went straight back to being mighty, she slapped on the superwoman mask and was immediately someone I would want to be. I thought if that powerful human being, who is physically worse than me has FND too… then maybe I am not weak. Maybe she is right. Maybe I can do it.

So onwards I go. Into this unknown and strange territory, for who knows how long! Might be a few months before I see improvements, or a year or more. But one thing I do know is each morning I will have to uncurl, go downstairs and make ‘my motivation’ jam on toast because they don’t tolerate hiding under duvets (unless it’s a den, then we all hide under it until the “dine-saurs” have gone).

P.S The consultant neurologist is putting me forward for a study at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals into FND. So they can try to help people in the future. I hope I get a goody bag with a complimentary halo!

Is it OK to cry in front of your kids?

crying
Alice looking a lot like her mother mid meltdown!

Is it ever ok to cry in front of your kids? I remember the few times I saw my mum crying when I was small and I can still feel my confusion at seeing her face contorted and her eyes pearly with tears. I can picture her sat in the kitchen on a pine chair and I can feel the panic that hit me when I realised… she wasn’t  actually superhuman.

Why did I cry today?

I can’t say anything drastic has or is happening. No major drama. The pressure in the pot today just got too much and it bubbled over hissing emotional steam and pissing tears.

I have been unwell for the past 5 weeks vomiting and having patches of dizziness, confusion and fatigue that have knocked me off my feet and although going to the doctors, I am not getting very far at all fast. I got some test results today that came back as normal- which contrary to expected left me gutted, because I still don’t know what the bloody hell is wrong with me. Returning to work is fast approaching and I am pretending that’s ok, but I am ABSOLUTELY bricking it. Between now and my return date at the start of next month my dad is flying over for a week to stop and although I am very excited about seeing him and the kids enjoying their grandfather it is an added pressure (*if you’re reading Dad I DO want you to come don’t get worried!*). And financially I am insanely stretched (as anyone knows on the tail end of maternity leave) and this week the tumble dryer broke, the hoover broke and Sam irreparably broke the nursery wardrobe.

So that’s the background stress simmering away and then today’s events totally burnt my brain crumpet!

I woke up this morning and stood in front of me was Sam, in his hands were four partially eaten toffee coated pastries. He has this week learned to climb out of his cot and apparently this morning before I was awake he felt he needed a breakfast of sugar encrusted fat laden carbohydrates. I looked down and saw that he had also obliterated a packet of foamy banana sweets. I thought oh shit… he has just filled himself with rocket fuel and it is not even 7am.

I was correct, he was literally spinning around on his knees singing Twinkle Twinkle like a chipmunk on speed within minutes. Alice woke in a dire mood (think gremlins crossed with a rabid raccoon) and for the first time ever she had done a covert night time poo so after removing Buzz Lightyear from my wardrobe shelves I whipped her soggy nappy off (as I do every morning without issue) except the unexpected contents fell all over, at which point she made a break for freedom (unwiped) across the landing. I addressed the situation and resumed Operation: Dress The Imps except Sam’s sugar levels had hit the upper atmosphere and… he bit me… HE FECKING BIT ME! He has never bitten me. It wasn’t a nip either it was a skin pulling blood blistering blue bruising bite. I can tell you dear reader, he knew damn well he is never pulling that crap with me. I wasn’t physical but he was thoroughly disciplined. He came down to earth (from his trajectory somewhere near the edge of our solar system) and realised he had big time upset me. He climbed on my knee told me I was a “hurt mummy”, he kissed my arm and said sorry. And all was well again… for a while.

Yesterday I spent 4 hours cleaning and tidying (bear in mind I am not perky). Tidy house, tidy mind is my motto. So I came down the stairs to organised clean bliss. Well by 10.30am. It was clear my hours of sweating had been completely pointless. The kids had methodically gone round every cupboard and drawer and emptied them. The DVD cupboard, the nappy cupboard, the drawer filled with wires, the stationary drawer, the pan cupboard, the cleaning cupboard, the messy drawer (full of ‘I don’t know what to do with this’), and of course the toy box and the toy chest. Sam had gone in the understairs cupboard found a 15kg bag of dog food and had been scooping it out onto the floor with his welly. I can honestly say my house looked like hurricane Matthew had passed right through the downstairs.

Then Alice started kicking off bright red and yodeling and Sam wanted his dinner but I realised the cupboards were bare (cue the you are an epic failure thought). I could feel the pressure building, I just needed a minute I thought. So I peeled a now beetroot Alice off my trouser leg plopped her on the living room rug. Silently shut the kitchen door and opened the freezer to try and locate toddler friendly food. Except I noticed my chin was quivering.

And it wouldn’t stop

And I couldn’t squash the lump that had jammed itself in my throat

But Alice was at this point hysterical and Sam was banging on the shut kitchen door shouting for me. So I stopped staring at the freezer and went into the living room, I picked them both up and plonked myself on the sofa. Then it happened.

Like a biblical bastard flood!

I cried. I really cried. I don’t remember when I last cried. I forgot the weird noises crying people make. The kids looked at me like I was growing a palm tree out of my ear. Sam said “oh arrrr my mummy… mummy crying” stroking my arm. The hole time I was crying I was thinking this is probably damaging them, they don’t need to see me like this. Get a grip Soph! But there was nowhere to go and nobody to help. I would have been totally embarrassed of my snot bubbles if I had rung anyone to come over.

Aaaand then the storm passed all is a bit soggy and ruffled but fine- well Alice is still mardy, Sam is still a toddler and the house is still a bomb site. But I am no longer making weird squeaks and blowing my nose on baby wipes. And I found a couple of potatoes to bake and a tin of tuna for lunch!

I guess I need to take the lid off the pan before I make a mess of the hob next time!

Wildebeest Babies- Early Walkers

imageMy son started walking at 9 months 3 weeks and my daughter wobbled/waddled across the rug at 8 months 3 weeks. Alice has just turned 10 months and she walked around Next with me yesterday (while I was salivating at the latest trends far outside my maternity budget).

It seems if my babies were born on to the African plains they would have a decent chance of survival. Push em out and off they trot (to out run lions and get a mortgage on a grass hut). I have taken to referring to them as wildebeest babies.

I can’t resist proudly posting videos of each of their achievements onto my Facebook. But while immensely proud of them conquering a new skill I am conscious of the effect those videos might have on other parents. I don’t want them madly googling ‘when should my baby stand?’ or ‘why is my baby not walking yet?’. I don’t want them getting their knickers in a knot. We have enough to worry us without Facebook statuses adding to our parental neurosis. The truth is they all get there at their own pace and while my two are working on completing a triathlon, other more cognitive skills are no doubt being neglected.

imageFacebook can resemble a baby comparison site at times particularly between mums. We can all smile through primitive reactions but a whiff of the green eyed monster occasionally drifts into our chest for a nano second. We pour our heart and soul into these pint sized people. They drain us of tears and patience (and sleep) and introduce us to a depth of love that was unfathomable prior. OF COURSE our inner chimp pops up screeching and clutching a banana! But we soothe it back down with reason, logic and decency (and quite rightly so). We click LIKE, scroll on and it settles back down to scoff the banana. My chimp was always madly hammering ‘why can’t my son use a sippy cup?’ and ‘why can’t my baby clap or wave?’ into it’s Tesco Hudl.

There are negatives to hitting milestones early. For instance a 9 month old baby naturally has much less understanding/sturdiness to properly handle its environment. Average or later babies have many more months to survey the terrain and work out the effects of gravity etc before they are steaming through the kitchen door and climbing inside the dishwasher. I know injuries for newly mobile little ones are common but Alice can travel anywhere in the house including up the stairs in 60 seconds but she doesn’t even have the coordination to get a spoon of yogurt to her mouth. She tries to walk out the patio doors with no concept of the drop. She is so wilful and absolutely determined to be on her feet, it is proving hard to protect her from injury. She doesn’t yet grasp that her surroundings have corners, lips and edges. Babies finding thier feet this early is like giving a Ferrari to a 4 year old!

There is nothing worse than seeing your child hurt. I wish I could have a stern word with her developmental timetable and tell it to slow down and give her mind chance to catch up with her body. Not just because I don’t want my wildebeest running off to play in the toilet water or climb the airing cupboard shelves, but because I don’t want her tiny beautiful little body getting unnecessarily battered by her relentless stampede towards the health visitor tick boxes!

Chronic Ovarian Twitch Syndrome- Are you affected?

imageI have an affliction. It has been a life long condition with early childhood onset. I knew I had it, but it wasn’t a socially acceptable admission to make in the new world of female freedom with hard and bravely fought for equal rights. For a little girl born in 1990 the world was mine to conquer. In contrast to the country my own mother was born into I had a society prepped with the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Descrimination Act. I could be the blinking Prime Minister for god sake. But my dream (not the “I want to become a vet dream” that I spouted as a kid*) my true hearts desire… was to be a mummy.

Vom.com I know.

I loved dolls, pregnancy FASCINATED me and I adored babies. I was the kind of kid that hovered near anything that might possibly be a baby. A baby human, a baby cow, a baby caterpillar (basically the smaller caterpillars) if there was a possibility it was a baby, I was there. The below picture is of me exhibiting affection upon a real life baby (my brother). I dragged him out of his bouncer at around this age into my plastic ladybird pram and pushed him off down the garden while our mum was on the phone distracted.

imageIn infant school the teacher of the year above mine was pregnant (and therefore a god like idol). A fantasy which preoccupied me far too often for many months was being the hero of the day and delivering her baby from under her turtle neck burgundy jumper. As a 6 year old I wasn’t sure precisely of the procedure but I was pretty confident it would involve her belly button and I would need a cushion from the class ‘quiet area’ and some towels from the teachers stock cupboard. My favourite part of the daydream was walking back into the open plan classrooms from the school corridor, while Mrs Richardson lay resting on the cushion (probably sorting her belly button out) holding the baby swaddled like Jesus in the paint stained art towels. Id proudly announce to the whole of year 1 and 2 that “the baby had been born and Mrs Richardson was tired now so would be back to teach tomorrow” I imagined I would hold the baby up like Lion King and everyone would clap. I expected I would get a house point sticker and a special mention certificate in assembly- had it all not been my weird ass imagination.

Alas I have now hung up my ovaries. They are purely ornamental from now on. But even though I am perfectly happy (and borderline overwhelmed most days) with my gorgeous troublesome pigeon pair, whenever a scan photo or birth announcement pops up on my Facebook feed I have another flair up of my Chronic Ovarian Twitch Syndrome (COTS)**. I can feel the troublesome pink little buggers do a slight twitching twist on their coat peg. They release some unknown chemical that makes me revert back to that kid begging (with squeezed out tears) for “the Baby Born doll on the TV that does a real proper poo in the potty”. I look at the wonderful 2D black and grey blobs or those freshly popped wrinkled beauties in their brand new baby grow and I get smacked right between the eyes with four tonnes of broody!

But I calm myself down and slap my cheeks while repeating my COTS mantra to relieve the attack: They-poop-on-the-rug-and-then-shuffle-on-purpose.

Say it with me now fellow sufferers… They-poop-on-the-rug-and-then-shuffle-on-purpose!

*I wanted to be a vet because the vets on Animal Hospital had access to baby animals.

** This is a purely fictional condition don’t go to the GP, you will look like a moron!

The Diary of an 'Ordinary' Mum

Minor misunderstandings

Me and my brother went through infants and juniors thinking white spirit/turpentine was sold in Mothercare and not DIY shops. The reason for this was our then next door neighbour, who cracked a joke to my dad that it was in stock at the local Mothercare store if the bottle he was madly scrubbing us down with ran out. I guess we must have gotten into the part used tins of paint in the garage and decided to renovate our outfits/limbs with gloss.

I also got to the grand age of nineteen before I noticed the saying was actually ‘give up the ghost’ and not ‘give up the goat’. I had assumed the origin of the phrase was linked to “oldendays people” having to rehome a deceased person’s livestock after they died  (I LOVE that I had even concocted a likely historical background for my misunderstanding). I nearly fell off my office swizzle chair when I realised my error!

Which leads me on to Sam’s latest amusing assumption. I have this morning explained to him that “boobies are not actually part of a bra, they are in fact part of my body… like my arms” (but thankfully not yet quite as dangly, almost… but not quite).

Sam is a blend of bossy and adorable at the moment. He struts around first thing in the morning instructing me to “out OUT nanights” (translation: get out of bed pyjama clad woman) brush my “teefs” brush my “head” and put my “boobies on” (while waving any bra he finds hanging around on my bedroom floor). He believes completing these tasks will mean we can immediately go downstairs and have toast with “jang” (jam).

I am impressed he knows people get up, brush their teeth and hair and dress at the start of each day. I am also amused that out of all my clothes he thinks the most important item is my bra (he is probably in fact quite right- if I went to Rotherham Tesco without it I would no doubt quickly become a Facebook meme). But the idea that I must apply my boobs each morning like I put on my foundation had me in complete stitches!

I thought I better explain to him now and nip it in the bud, as I don’t want him getting to nineteen without correction. God… romantic liaisons at that age are awkward enough! Uncovering a basic truth like that WOULD be quite a shock… and being as though I think the sun shines from his peachy cheeks I would rather he didn’t give up the “goat” or fall off his swizzle chair.

Two things I don’t mention to strangers

10329269_10154138070030128_6533869777051325317_n

The awesome online tribe of bloggers that I have discovered on Twitter are running a fundraising event under #BloggersBeatingCancer and there will be a virtual coffee morning (I have no idea how these things work but I hear it is possible) which will take place tomorrow 10.30am. I want to help if I can so this is my offering:

As with far too many of my fellow earthlings I have my own personal story of why cancer needs it’s torturous and tumorous arse kicking. I don’t shout it from the rooftops because I don’t want to appear to or in fact want any attention drawn to a very difficult period for our family. As such this piece feels super awkward to write. But if sharing this post encourages a few people to redirect the couple of quid they were going to devote to Greggs steakbakes towards Macmillan I will be quite pleased with my little old self.
I don’t have a huge family, we are rather small and we are now smaller as a result of the C word (and it IS both types of C word!). My family would have been almost wiped out had it not been for the miracles of modern medicine. In 2007 within a three month period my mum, my aunt and my grandma were diagnosed with cancer. Besides my Dad that was EVERY significant older family member I had. I was 17 my brother 15 and my cousin 8. Three out of the four human beings that raised me, and had sat around my Sunday dinner table… were all facing the real possibility of death.
14518276_10154993147670663_1284075986_n
The effects of the ravaging disease went further than their bald heads, further than the tears at diagnosis. It battered each of us hard for six years. The family was pulled together by the horror of it, but we were completely isolated in our own experience of it. The cancer stricken were facing seemingly endless and horrendous treatments/surgeries and we faced caring for them physically and emotionally after each one.
While they were watching their bodies become unrecognisable in the mirror we were stood next to that same mirror trying to convince them that they still looked beautiful enough to leave the house. There is only so many times you can convincingly reassure your mum that absolutely nobody will notice her bloated chemo face, part missing boob and NHS issued dead cat wig, when she knows full well you are lying to protect her. There is only so many times you can rub cream into someones painful radiation burns and hold them while they lay on the bathroom floor sobbing in hopelessness and pain before it REALLY starts to hack away at your soul.
Each of the three were scared of dying, they were scared of each other dying and we were scared of being left behind. Cancer doesn’t just make people sad, it makes them angry. So unbelievably ANGRY! Angry at the injustice of an indiscriminate disease, angry that they are having their now stolen and their tomorrow dangled by a thread and all that anger gets directed at those around them. Like every other family enduring the storm that is cancer we felt like plastic carrier bags in the wind. With no control over our lives until it had concluded its path of destruction. It is the patient that has the cancer but it lays in ruins everyone that loves them too.
My mum won, my grandma is still doggedly fighting it, but sadly we had to watch my gentle and creative auntie pass. She was a great light in my life that was blown out like a birthday candle on a hospice bed in front of my eyes.
So…now that I have written the above heart wrenching real life TV style charity advert, what is my second secret?
I am a closet poet. Not as interesting I know. Haha!
My auntie was creative to the core (if she was a stick of seaside rock she would have had ART written right through the centre) so I am braving it and sharing some of my spoken word poetry that I wrote after coming to terms with our cancer rollercoaster ride of horror. My poetry normally strictly lives hidden in piled up notebooks in a dark dusty cupboard. My auntie always wanted me to show the world my talent. She pestered me endlessly about creating various videos with her. SO I FINALLY AM!
Below is a link to a video of my poem if you want to nosy, if it’s not your thing don’t worry:
PLEASE consider donating, I appreciate you may not have a lot (I currently have two buttons, a raisin and fluff in my purse) and it gets on my wick when charities harass. But I aim to find a few quid down the sofa for this cause. Below is a link to be able to donate:
If not today on this link then next time you spot a charity tub or a person in a tabard waving a bucket (make sure they are not a window cleaner) consider throwing some change in if it is rattling in your coat pocket.
3 Little Buttons

Woody Woodpecker and the strawberry thief!

Alice has a new laugh. Babies go through stages of experimenting with different sounds. Whether that is squealing or blowing raspberries. Alice has discovered this week that she can laugh like a cross between Woody Woodpecker and a 40 a day smoker. It’s a little embarrassing to be honest.

We were in Morrisons and a genuinely lovely old man came over, bent down in front of my double buggy/snow plow and was chatting away to the kids (Sam hid his face as is Sam’s way) he was telling Alice she was a “lovely girl, so happy and so smiley” and at that point she let rip with her new ridiculous fog horn loud laugh. It doesn’t sound like it belongs to a human, let alone a baby girl in pink bunny dungarees! The old bloke nearly fell over backwards into a stand of Soreen on promotion.

After laughing it off while pretending I was as surprised as him at her outburst (and secretly checking him for signs of hip fracture) I carried on. But at some point between fresh-produce and toiletries Sam had swiped a punnet of strawberries.

Hidden from view in the front of the snowplow he’d broken the plastic and had been shoving them into his mouth (stalks and all). He’d obviously been noticing something wasn’t quite right with each mouthful. So he had spat each chewed strawberry plus stalk down his front or offered it to the always accommodating Alice (AKA waste disposal unit) before ramming another four in his pie-hole.

So I went from feeling like a total boss swanning through the automatic doors to skulking back through them convinced the lady on the till thought I had liberally poured a bottle of fruit smoothy over my son and his dear friend Woody Woodpecker (and garnished them with strawberry tops).

The grave: It really shouldn’t be funny but it is

image

I took the kids to my grandad’s grave on Thursday for the first time. A bit of a random unplanned sentimental moment. I have only visited a handful of times in the 20 years he has now been gone, but I felt oddly compelled while I was passing to go and present his descendants to the only earthly bit of him left.

I pulled up into the cemetery carpark and told Sam we were “here to see my Grandad” he looked at me and said excitedly “Oh yeah Mummy Grandad!” I thought… WOW he seems to have grasped this concept better than I imagined.

I am an utter muppet, he is not even two years old of course he hadn’t grasped it!

It quickly became apparent the poor child hadn’t a clue WHO’S grandad we were here to see. He spent the next 10 minutes running around the headstones in sight of other members of public with his arms in the air shouting “Grandaaaaad where arrre you?” I thought to myself Oh bollocks, he’s disturbing people! But I quickly understood from their facial expressions that they found it immensely touching that this little boy was shouting longingly for his deceased grandfather amongst the many graves. When in actual fact he thought he was playing hide and seek in a field of stood up rocks with my alive dad. I didn’t feel I could shout back “No no Sam, I am sorry mate, I am a div…wrong Grandad, THAT ones not dead”. So I let people enjoy the false sentimentality of a totally ludicrous situation.

And just to finish the farce off to theatrical perfection; I swiftly arranged the kids against the headstone and took a quick photo (being of the digital age and unable to just use my perfectly capable memory). Alice had lifted herself up to investigate and feel the engraved letters…but she slipped and nutted it… giving herself a rather sore forehead.

So I then had to get a hysterical Alice and a hysterically disappointed Sam (that repeatedly informed me he had still “not found Grandad”) loaded back into the car.

TOTAL buffoonery from start to finish. I think my grandad would have laughed his lovely shiny bald head clean off  (if he had somehow been hiding amongst those gravestones)…and I know for a fact Sam’s grandad will be laughing his matching shiny bald head off as he reads this on his smart phone.

I am yours and you are mine

awww

There will come a day when you close the front door
Your room will be empty and the house will be sore
No more sneaking a peep at your dreaming face
The thought of that alone is making me ache
And even though you are still so very small
Those little legs will too soon be strong and tall
Time will have run away through my fingers
As childhood for no one ever lingers
If I could stop the clock at this very moment
Before my rose tinted glasses are stolen
And youth makes me your natural opponent
Before your gentle eyes notice that the world is flawed
And your shoulders have to grow ever more broad
I would be naggingly tempted
To live and love you right here
With you forever protected
But the road ahead will be quite rightly YOURS
And despite my worries and beside my fear
I will think proudly of the journey you are to explore
As my heart in truth couldn’t keep you confined
From the warmth and glory of all life’s sunshine
But forgive me sweetheart if I cling
While dreading the day you find your wings
Because I will never again find a happier time
Than in this moment…
When I am yours and you are mine

 

3 Little Buttons