Wednesday, 2 March 2011

What we did on our holidays

Currently we are waving and drowning a bit in playing catch up for being away for a week . . .

BUT we had a fantastic time. We went and stayed in one of Posie Rosie's cottages - Persabus Cottage  fabulous cottage - really home from home.

We were out and about doing photography every day and were knackered by the end of the week . . .

Posie Rosie was a pure delight to meet - I don't think I ever saw her stop smiling - she is one of those warm genuine people that you want as your best friend. Mind you I totally went off her when I discovered that despite not looking old enough she really was the mother of teenage children  :evil: Mr Posie Rosie was also brilliant - knows everyone on the island - a real character - loved his stories and we are planning on going back for more. Infact you know even when we went over to Jura people there knew Mr and Mrs Posie Rosie - we didn't meet anyone who didn't know them and indeed didn't like them.

One thing we loved about the Island was just how friendly everyone is  . . . no I mean REALLY friendly  . . . EVERYONE waves at you as you drive round the Island - well no, not just us - everyone waves at everyone . . . un-nerving when it first happened because we wondered if we were doing anything wrong - but once we found out that it was the norm we found it utterly charming. Then of course back on the mainland we had to get used to the fact that people don't wave.

The island itself is beautiful and we found some stunning wild beaches - if I could live there overlooking the sea I would - but it would have to be a very specific beach . . .

So thank you Posie Rosie and Mr Posie Rosie - we will be back.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

PERTHSHIRE OPEN STUDIOS 11th - 19th September - we are number 88 and on the red route

Visit from Forth Valley Open Studios 

Yesterday at Wester Lix we had a visit from some of the Forth Valley Open Studios committee  . . . here they are with myself and Dave and Rob Mulholland's brilliant stainless steel 'mirror' man.

Below is another picture with Dave and our very special guest

Pictures courtesy of Ann Shaw and taken on her iPhone.

As you can see the weather is fantastic - so go on if you are in Central Scotland come and visit us on the red route number 88.
PLUS the first person through the doors saying they have come here as a result of Twitter, Facebook, or Blogger gets a unique giclee print


Saturday, 8 May 2010

Camouflage For Sale

Ironically today I should be down at Kew Gardens receiving my prize for my winning picture in IGPOTY, meeting the judges and seeing the exhibition of all the winning pictures - but a mixture of health and ash cloud has meant that we can't go . . . :-(

Still it is a gorgeous day here and I would rather be amongst the Perthshire Hills than anywhere else - although visiting Kew Gardens would have been a good second.

So anyway I have been asked by a some of you if prints of my picture of the Chaffinch in the Sycamore Tree are for sale . . .

And the answer is yes . . .

Prints will be in two sizes (all in cm)

Larger mount size will be 40x50 with a picture size (mount window) of 27x31

Smaller mount size will be 21x30 (A4) with a picture size (mount window) of 15x17

Both mounts will fit into standard frame sizes . . . or of course we can frame the picture for you.

The large ones will be Giclee prints - smaller one will be on archival matte paper - both sizes will be signed.

Larger one £25 inc p&p

Smaller one £10 inc p&p

So email me on or give me a ring on 01567820990

Thank you


Saturday, 1 May 2010

What a Year

And so far it is only May.

Starting last September I went for and got my Licentiateship Panel with the Royal Photographic Society. The judges were more than kind - one judge tried to give me 200% . . . head swelling stuff . . .  and I was encouraged to go for my Associate Panel asap based on my Licentiateship Panel. My panel was of my earlier shoots of my Raindrops on Grasses with a few extra bits to show variety.

So hugely encouraged and armed with a 'rough panel' plus spares of my Wild Grasses I went to the Advisory day in Scotland in January . . . and got shot down horribly in flames - no need to widen the doorways after this critique I could crawl under the gap in the door, regardless of whether there was even a gap. I was told I was doing nothing new . . . all been done before . . . blah blah - completely the opposite of my previous experience. I felt so discouraged I stopped taking photographs - what was the point - `i was carp after all . . . unoriginal . . . boring . . .

However, shoulders slumped I did manage to go with my rough panel and layout to see my mentor . . . brilliant man - talks to me how I imagine House might!!!!!! We get on really well!!!!!!!! It was decided with my passion for my grasses that my panel was better suited to Contemporary Arts than Visual Arts as an Associate Panel - plus it kept me away from the judge who clearly was not impressed with my work. Still feeling very discouraged and not really expecting to pass I waited for the 21st April . . . judgement day . . . sigh . . . I didn't think my passion for my subject was going to count for much this time.

All day long I kept checking for the email that would tell me if I had passed, or not . . . nothing . . . nothing on the web site . . . sigh . . .  I cleaned the house to within a molecule of its dust . . . and then at 17.41 when I'd given up all hope . . . WHOOP WHOOP . . . Gillian Hunt ARPS - I'd passed. Lots of running around in circles and screaming ensued for a number of days. HS was away on the Isle of Aarron doing a photography shoot so I was forced to celebrate with Lixtroll . . . oh and we really did celebrate. Serious bout of wine flu caught up with us the next day.

And it went on getting better . . . the RPS liked my panel enough to want to hang onto it and use it for workshops. Plus I was asked to send electronic images in as well to go onto a CD for presentations . . .  my images were (along with others) also being sent to Japan . . . and I was asked to do a brief talk on my panel in May at a RPS meeting . . . BIG SMILEY FACE.

Quite enough for one year!!!!!! Yup. Except I had been short listed for the International Garden Photograher of the Year competition  . . . and then I became a finalist . . .  berlimey and then on Sunday 25th April I got an email saying I had won my category of Wildlife in the Garden. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

So I am now back taking pictures - I have learned a really good lesson - believe in what your doing and don't always expect everyone to think you are good - they won't . . . for whatever reason . . . but equally learn to be your harshest, but most constructive critique . . .  I love what I do and nearly gave it up because of someone's careless remarks . . . never again . . . unless of course I lose it and really do become crap . . . every artists dread . . .

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Berludy Bins

Good grief and all that - how sad is this my poor little blog not touched since January. Well excuses, excuses - it has been a busy few months what with getting ready for the Aviemore Trade Show and then doing the show - but I will blog about that at a later date.

I put this up in the Moans and Groans Forum of Purplecoo ( and thought I would put it here as well so that my blog gets used again . . .

We have three types of bins - grey ones for normal rubbish - fortnightly collection, brown ones for recycling, fortnightly collection and a big green wheely bin for the commercial rubbish from the cottage - oh and recycling boxes which are only for the domestic rubbish. We have had ten years of problems with the bins which I can't go into without the red haze descending . . . However the result of which is the domestic bins are now all locked and so are the commercial bins - to foil the fly tippers.

So for the last three weeks the commercial bins - despite repeated calls to the council haven't been emptied . . . slight red haze creeping in. . . . I managed to speak to the depot chap on Friday and was told

- ah well . . . the main crew have been off sick for three months . . .

uhuh . . .

and the guys that have been doing it are on the domestic crew . . .

uhuh . . .

and your bin was locked . . .

SCREAM . . . of course it was fekking locked THE WHOLE WORLD AND HIS DOG DUMP THEIR RUBBISH IN MY BIN IF IT ISN'T LOCKED . . . we had a whole cooker top shoved in the bin once - not to mention vats of used cooking oil and a bag of sick . . . shudder.

and the crew didn't have the key . . . .

AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH WHAT THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE KEY FOR THREE FEKKING WEEKS . . . Total red haze . . . I think there is a strong possibility here of SOMEONE IS LYING.

There was more to this conversation but what with the red haze and the rushing in my ears . . .

So apparently they are going to empty my bin on Monday - yeah right - even though it is Bank Holiday - yeah right - and then will come the battle of the fully charged bill - we can't give you a credit - we will just empty you weekly instead of fortnightly for a while and only charge you for the fortnightly . . . THERE IS NO FEKKING POINT IN EMPTYING A HALF FULL BIN ONCE A WEEK . . . I WANT A CREDIT . . . we don't do credit . . . oh let me introduce you to my chainsaw . . . I think you might change your mind Twisted Evil . . . sigh then again last time I got REALLY P*SSED OFF - AND REFUSED TO PAY THEY TOOK MY BIN AWAY . . . BARSTEWARDS . . . and I can't take the bin bags down to the tip because it is commercial waste . . . yeah prove it . . . Twisted Evil Our Council commercial bin department I REALLY REALLY HATE YOU . . . SIGH . . . If you ever wondered what a lying jobsworth is like - well this department is it.

PS I couldn't put in any speech thingies cos this ' is the only one I have left - I have ordered a load more though.

Monday, 12 January 2009

The Sky in Scotland

I watched a piece on the TV the other day about light pollution and it struck me again just how lucky we are to live here in the Perthshire hills of Scotland. When night falls and the sky is clear we can see the stars and I mean really SEE the stars. It is breathtaking . . . the more you look, the more stars you see - clouds and clouds of stars. No light pollution here for us - it is pitch black, until you look at the sky.

When Robot Boy comes home one of the first things he wants to look at is Sky - well yes Sky TV and then when he has done that and it is evening time he goes outside and stares at the sky and wonders at the beauty of it. Yup even teenagers 'get it'.

I sent RB a birthday card which had a picture of two cartoon penguins lying on their backs in the snow staring up at the sky.

1st Penguin - wow Eric look at all those stars . . . what do you think it means . .

Eric - Pause . . . it means someone's nicked our igloo!

Well with his love of stars how could I resist - well clearly I didn't

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year

Eeeeeeek my poor blog has been seriously neglected - note to self - must do better in 2009.


Thank you to everyone on Purplecoo for making it such a special place to be - I have loved having your company whether we are laughing, crying, of offering support to each other. I look forward to a better year for all of us in 2009.


Monday, 28 July 2008

More a Show and Ask

Whoop whoop today is our Purple Show and Tell on Purplecoo . .

Some of the flowers I have put up are, I think, purple wild flowers and I haven't got a clue what they are (hangs head) so if you know please tell me . . . .thank you.

This one I know it is a Scottish Thistle with an obliging Bee

This one I know as well it is my madly flowering Cape Primrose - which is an indoor plant.

Another type of thistle . . . it is tall and untidy and leggy looking.

No idea what this is - it grows in a big bush with these lovely bell flowers.

Yeah yeah I know it is more pink than purple . . . it is growing wild around here - no idea what it is.

I have been told this is a wild Orchid - but I don't know for sure.

This one is a climber and I found it wound around nettles . . . the leaves are Mimosa like.

Bit Campanula like . . .

So that is my Purple Show and Ask.

Thank you for looking.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Six Random Things

Eeeeeek I have been tagged by Cowgirl . . . I can't remember the rules - rules are made to be broken . . . so I have done eight random things because I got carried away . . .

1) I hate Subway's (sandwich shop) shops and logo - completely irrational it makes me FEEL bored . . . hard to explain.

2) Wet pavements in a town have the same effect as above.

3) I LOVE extreme weather . . .even if storms are scary.

4) I love the smell and feel of brown paper bags - I was soooooo sad when Ikea stopped making theirs.

5) I love the smell of fresh Tar . . .

6) I have a phobia about earwigs . . .

7) I struggle with Mental Arithmatic . . . and was never able to work in a bar.

8) I was terrible at Physics at school and then decided to drop it for my 'O' Levels and came fifth from the top in my last exams before I dropped it.

There done . . . I am not going to tag anyone - but if you want to do six random things then consider yourself tagged . . .

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


There I was going for my usual walk with the dogs. Lovely, lovely SUNNY day . .remember the sun - big yellow ball in the sky tends to make you hot . . . and not in an attractive to the opposite sex way either . . .well not unless you shed layers . . . which given the summer we are having is probably not wise . . . tucks in summer vest.

So there I was walking along, minding my own business throwing sticks for the dogs (flat ended ones of course - don't want the dogs to hurt themselves) when I realised I was being followed . . . yes followed . . stalked . . . and attacked . . . not once but THREE times and then harassed for the rest of the walk.

Mmmmmm yes, no really - attacked . . . and harassed . . . berludy great big fly it was - all sort of buff/minky/mushroom coloured . . . about an inch long. Berludy thing bit me three times. It kept sneaking up behind me landing on the back of my legs and OUCH. It followed me for about a mile . . . then it got brave and landed on my arm . . . If I'd had my chainsaw with me it wouldn't have been so cheeky. . . nasty little . . .

I have no idea what it was - going out again in a minute and taking the camera with me . . .

I have tried looking up Scottish Flies, but all I get is fly fishing . . . sigh . . .

Honestly you can't even go for a quiet walk these days without being hassled.

Ah HAH - think I found the little berger . . . apparently it is rare - so phew - I didn't swat it . . . don't want a repeat of the berludy mussels . . .

Monday, 14 July 2008

Long Distance Love

Hooray hooray Wildchild has phoned from Trinidad and all is well. Horrible life stopping moment though – phone rings – Wildchild's voice the other end . . . gulp . . .wildly beating heart in mouth muffling voice and hampering attempts to act casual and cool . . . eeeeeek I'm talking to my child half way across the World.

'Hey Wildchild brilliant to hear form you (super causal). . .howareyouiseverythingalright . . . gasp . . .?'

The reply is the unconcerned

'Yeah everything's great!'

And breathe . . . yeah it isn't just animals that can crank up the stress factor.

Whoop whoop . . so no broken legs, yellow fever, bitten by vipers blah blah and they have chocolate . . . In fact the worst problem apparently was the heat . . . very hot yesterday (remember heat) and the electricity had gone . . . not a problem except the fan wasn't working and neither was the fridge – so the chocolate was melting . . . berlimey. Not had the melting chocolate problem for a while now. Left a candle on the lit woodburner once that melted . . .

Wildchild is up at 5.00am each morning and spends her days putting up large bird nets to catch . . well . . . birds . . . which she and the team ring. She is enjoying the work – although disappointed that they won't be working with Blue and Gold Macaws and Manatees as thought. She has caught several species of Humming bird . . . wow. NB all the birds are handled swiftly to cause the minimum of stress and then released.

How about this . . .Wildchild has WRITTEN us a letter . . on PAPER . . .yes PAPER . . . with a pen . . . really impressed . . remember when we all used to write like that . . . She is going to post it – stamp and EVERYTHING and it will be here in about three weeks . . . .hmmmmmm . . . remember that as well . . . snail mail . . .

So all is well in Trinidad . . . The leader of the field trip has a mobile phone so each student is allowed a ten minute call home each week . . . Something to look forward to once I have get over the heart in the mouth bit.

Here at home Robot Boy and Geek Girl came to stay. Too much excitement. Cesspit Cottages had a week free – so Robot Boy and Geek Girl had the cottage to themselves for a few days..

HS and Robot Boy went for a long local walk in the hills surrounding us – spectacular views now that the trees have gone. On Tuesday we went to a tiny island just off Oban. The ferry across only took about five minutes . . . barely enough time to go a decent shade of green. Gorgeous little island – chatted to one of the locals about the pleasures and problems of living so cut off. We spent a couple of hours on the island walking and talking (both boys and girls multitasking here) and taking pictures. Then wandered around on the beach and found sea glass and rescued a stranded eel. No that really is eel and not seal . . .

At the end of each day we cooked and spent the evening together . . . sigh . . bliss. And guess what – Robot Boy - the child that refused to eat anything except baked potatoes, or chips now eats curries – yes curries and and on Tuesday evening he cooked us a really spicy chicken fajitas. . . .sigh . . .

One of the highlights for me was a long chat with Robot Boy . . . just the two of us, we talked and I mean really talked. Robot Boy has always been quite articulate with his feelings. I won't embarrass him by writing here what we talked about (well only a little bit) – but it is so good to know that he is happy and where there have been problems he has been able to work through them. One thing he did talk about, which I hope he won't mind me mentioning – was a school parent evening – a few years ago now. During the evening he got a lot of positive feedback from his subject teachers . . . except his maths teacher and apparently rather than dwell on the positives HS and I zoomed in on the maths 'problem' and lectured him all the way home (half hour drive) about the need to do better . . . which he resented. Squirm! Having said that he went on to raise his game and did very well at maths . . . smug.

Robot Boy and Geek girl make a wonderful couple – they seem so happy together. She is lovely and has a really wicked sense of humour and can hold her own with us any time. Yup . . .she didn't flinch at the fart machine taped under the table, or the laughter machine hidden in the fridge . . . or the vibrating cat in the bag . . . although my Furbies irritated her – but then they irritate everyone – no point in having them otherwise. Geek Girl ( her choice of name btw) is every mother's dream – someone who makes their boy happy and someone whom they actually like. Plus when they arrived she had brought chocolate . . . .lurve that girl!!!!!!

So all is well on the 'long distance love' front. You never stop worrying about your kids – but ours do seem to have acquired a lot of the right 'tools' for building a good life. HS and I are very proud of both of them.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Pet Lover's Blindness!

Keeping a pet lessens stress . . . of course it does – proven fact.

So why am I standing here cleaning up a cat poo with enough electric stress to level even a Buddhist monk. Yup cat poo on the floor – which of course I trod in - is not something to relax and calm you. Not just any old cat poo though – poo that has to be checked for fur balls to make sure the medication is working! Hoh yes gloves on dive in and investigate in minute detail . . . .eeeeuuuuuuwwwwww. Stress level meter on the up!

So of course the simple thing of taking the cat to the vet for excess dribbling . . . the cat, not the vet . . . although maybe the vet is a closet dribbler . . . turned into the cat – Bootsie (Boo) – needing his teeth 'done'. Grind own teeth lightly. Plus Boo was walking a bit hunched so he needed a blood test to check kidneys . . . and if they were ok, he could have Metacam for arthritis. . . . mmmm – grind teeth harder and furrow brow.

So Bootsie was duly taken in – knocked out- and his teeth were de-scaled. End of story – of course berludy not. Poor old Boo had a lot of inflammation on the right hand side of his mouth . . . could be just with the contact with the plaque (light at end of tunnel) – could be a tumour . . . gulp – (oncoming train.) Grind teeth to powder and add in chewed cheeks.

'Here's the bill bring him back in a week . . .oh and give him these antibiotic pills – they taste foul, but keeping them in the fridge helps . . . !

'Er thanks . . . have you read my post on pills and cats . . . thought not.'

'And his kidneys are fine – here is your Metacam . . . '

'Nooooo . . . . '

'It's drops in food . . .'


Bootsie stopped dribbling . . .hooray – and breathe . . . and then he started being sick . . .noooooooo . . . . . tense up and work on sick feeling in pit of stomach. Boo also started to yell for food more and to burp loads . . . sigh . . . heart in dry mouth. I took him off the Metacam . . . my guess it was irritating his stomach a lot – given the amount of burping and yowling. . . .him and me. Tense feeling in solar Plexus.

I also thought Boo was horribly constipated until I discovered that our Collie - Sassy was hoovering the cat poo out of the litter tray . . . eeeeeek. Note to self keep an eye on dog for sickness . . . and . . . tense a little bit/a lot more.

The burping stopped . . .sigh . . . but Boo continued to be sick and his appetite dropped through the floor – so did his weight . . . so did mine . . .

Another visit to the vets . . . hah they were unable to get a look in poor Boo's mouth so he had to be knocked out . . . mutters about cats and pills. . . whilst brewing a headache. . .

The inflammation was less apparently. Boo was given a long acting antibiotic injection . . . TWO WEEKS it lasts TWO WEEKS . . . and where was this injection last week. . . and something to help bind the fur in his stomach – paste in a tube - palatable . . . twice a day for a week . . .then he can expel the hair balls up . . . or down. . . erk . . fight nausea!

Berlimey HOW MUCH . . .hand over credit card . . . massage tense neck, take pills for headache and rescue mangled tongue from between teeth. Own tongue of course – important note - never kiss someone at the vets when handing over credit card. Especially not the vet!!!!! Never the vet . . . he dribbles you know!

And Boo appeared to get better. He stopped being sick and started eating again . . . and breathe . . .

Then he was sick again . . . twice – raise shoulders to ears . . .higher . . .and hold.

But he has been better the last couple of days and then . . . dawn the day of the hairy poo . . . very hairy, very smelly . . . very treadable poo . . .hooray . . .he has passed the hair – it is the little things that make you happy . . . but don't relax . . .oooooo nooooo not just yet . . . there are two dogs and fish and sheep and a million things to go wrong with them, to them, to me . . . no time to relax . . . any minute now . . .and . . and . . and . . . wait for it . . YES . . .we are off . . Sassy has weed in HS's study . . .WHY . . .and WHY . . . and WHY – high blood pressure, spots in front of eyes . . . Pee In HS study . . . carpet, anger, instant grief. Pee in my office, wooden floor, forgiveness, no rows . . . no chest pain . . .

Owning pets is relaxing? Show me the petless idiot that said that and I'll show them the hell that is pet owning and the depleted bank balance and the sleepless nights . . . and the endless, endless, endless STRESS . . . . . and . . . . oh listen Boo is purring . . .aw bless . . . Such big loving eyes . . .Yes I love oooo tooo Bootsie Boo – who a cutsie wutsie liddle boy then . . . sheer contentment . . . . . dreamy sigh . . I wouldn't be without a pet you know – they are just sooooo relaxing . . . All is well . . .pet lover's blindness.

Monday, 23 June 2008

A surprise vist and imminent parental worries

Yup I think my face has almost stopped burning . . . bit concious of my laugh though . . . and wary of my mobile phone . . . berludy thing.

So the berludy thing rang. . . Saturday night – looking forward to a quiet night in, good food (HS doing the cooking) a not too horrible bottle of wine (bargain from Sainsbury's).

'Hi Mum . . . are you in?' (Wildchild)

Pause . .


'Can I come up and have a shower!'


Evening out of the window . . . or door – why does it always have to be a window . . .couldn't it go up the chimney.

But you guessed it both HS and I were delighted . . . the evening and the chimney already forgotten.

Wildchild, having passed her end of year three exams with flying colours, was on a field trip (part of next years Honours Course) and staying at a nearby Outdoor Centre. She and those in her group had spend the day catching and ringing birds. The Outdoor Centre is excellent, but no frills. Wildchild and three friends arrived looking for home comforts, warmth and a hot shower.

The house filled with excited young chatter as everyone fussed over the dogs, the cat, met Cyd and failed to see him scoop up his 'Taste the Difference' pieces of Sainsbury's Salmon. Towels were produced . . . showers had. Raincoats and walking gators lent. Hair washed and straightened. Childhoods remembered . . . In the space of ten minutes Wildchild managed to leave towels, drier, straighteners and tissues all over the bedroom . . . the explosion of her presence was small . . . time constraints, she can do better. . . oh so much better . . .

Glad to know that as parents we still have something to offer our children . . . a hot shower, a washing machine, food . . . unconditional love, all in a heatbeat. Wildchild even hugged me in front of her friends . . . so getting over the embarrassing mother bit then – that's no berludy good . . . I must try harder.

Wildchild will be close by until Wednesday then she goes back to Dundee for a couple of days before flying out to Trinidad . . .gulp . . .Yes Trinidad. Bye bye Wildchild, hello instant worry . . .Trinidad . . still can't get to grips with this – Trinidad for six weeks – part of her Uni course – she will be studying endangered parrots. . . gawd . . . she and her friends chattered confidently about the dangers of the snakes and spiders . . . eeeek all too real . . .no malaria though . . .phew . . . just yellow fever . . .cerikey . . . and insects . . . they are all taking Jungle Formula with Deet . . . BERLIMEY . . .and working ten hours a day . . . speechless . . .

But wow what an amazing experience for her . . . She will be away on her 21st Birthday . . . yes HS and I are sad she won't be here, but no doubt she will be spoiled rotten by her friends and how many people get to say they celebrated their 21st Birthday in Trinidad. HS and I managed to sneak a Catherine Tate talking (am I bothered it's your 21st Birthday) card and a badly wrapped in Xmas paper packet of Haribo sweets to one of Wildchild's friends, another Trinidad traveller. Hope they bring a smile to Wildchild's face and happy thoughts of us on her birthday.

And yes KittyB – this was the packet of Haribos you sent to me as part of a swap. Every expense spared!

HS and I are planning a surprise to meet Wildchild at Gatwick when she returns . . . schhhhhhhh . . .don't know if it will happen yet.

So here we are full of pride and holding back the tears . . . sob . . . .

PLUS . . .Robot Boy finished his exams on Thursday (he is quietly confident he has got through ok). . . and moved in with his lovely girlfriend on the Friday (yes HS and I like her . . phew). RB is staying in Scotland so won't have to long distance worry about him . . .just the usual worry then . . . WHERE, oh where did the time go . . . checks chimney . . . settles down with photographs, nostalgia, no Haribos and a berludy big box of tissues . . . sigh . . .

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Nothing is as it seems

Nothing is as it seems. A couple of weeks ago I watched a film starring Colin Farrell and Al Pacino . . . it was a spy thriller and the message throughout the film – was - nothing is as it seems. Interesting film lots of twists and turns, but nothing to do with this blog.

Ever been in the situation where someone's phone has phoned yours. They are unaware of the connection, but you can hear everything that is going on the other end. Oh yes. . . .nothing good comes of eaves dropping, even if it is not your fault – you can see where this is going can't you. It is the little things that catch you out.

There was a voice message on my mobile phone – it was a few days old – somehow I had missed it. I dialled my voice messages and idly listened. There was a lot of blurred and distorted noise, bored I almost hung up . . . and then a man spoke. I recognised the voice it was HS. His phone must have been in his pocket and dialled mine at some point . . he said something – I couldn't hear what . . . vaguely interested I listened on and then SHE laughed . . Berludy berludy hell . . .WHAT . . . there was some slut with a REALLY and I mean REALLY dirty laugh, laughing at something MY husband had just said . . . and it went on and on . . . Who the fugger and buck was she trying to impress – well that was obvious . . . and that filthy laugh . . . SNARL And . . . he was clearly enjoying her attention . . berludy berludy hell.

And so with a severe case of wobbly spaghetti fingers and blazing green eyes, not forgetting the abrupt companionship of the red dog of anger snapping none too playfully at my heals I vengefully checked the diary against the date of the phone message . . . no fool me . . . I would have the truth and the identity of miss slutty laugh in no time.

Yup there it was – the day we had moved Wildchild to her new flat . . . . Hah yer barsteward, think I don't know what is going on. . . gottcha . . .

And the slutty bitch with the dirty laugh who was clearly entertaining MY husband with more than the desired effect. . . Yup I knew exactly who SHE was now . . . NOTHING gets passed me . . . yup that wicked slutty bitch with the REALLY dirty laugh . . . . . . . . that would be me . . . . runs away . . .face burning.

Nothing is what it seems.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Summer Time

There's a Yawning in the Dawning
Of another sunfilled day
Too much light for my liking
Please make it GO AWAY

We have blue skies up to Midnight
With Dawn barging in at 4.00
And the birds hollering their greetings
I can't take it any more

Sleeping in the Summer
Is a long forgotten thing
A few brief snatched hours
Then it all begins again

Light through the curtains
Noise inside my head
No-where to run and hide
The daylight kicks me out of bed

So I'm getting out my chainsaw
And a torch that's oh so bright
I'm gonna get those birdies
I'll give them yelling in my night

Hah see how they like it
When their night is suddenly gone
Yeah come on out you birdies
Hear my chainsaw sing its song

I'm revving up my chainsaw
And filling the night with sound
I'm shining round my power torch
And jumping up and down

Gawd is that the time already
No sleep for me tonight
Grrrr the birds are singing loudly
And the berludy sun is bright

The air's filled with feathered song
My efforts were in vain
So I don't think I'll bother
With torches and chainsaws again

I'll sleep with my ears all blocked
And paint my eyelids black
I'll suffer the endless daylight
And get through with just naps

I'm looking forward to the Winter
The dark mornings and the night
Hip hooray for the Winter
It's the season nature got right.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

An Ass

Gorgeous, gorgeous sunny day. Birds singing, oh and hark the first cuckoo and yes the shrill haunting cries of the Buzzard contrasting with the harsh cries of the crows. The gentle delicate colours of the wild flowers and the deer stomach and guts warming quietly in the sun . . . .WHAT . . . .rewind . . . eeeeeoooouuuuwwwww. Yes there it was a pile of deer entrails chucked just off the public path. Last week it was a deer foot. All perfectly legal . . .yup despite the fact that it is distressing not to say berludy unhygienic – it is actually legal. Although I will be having a chat with Sepa on Monday – our environment agency.

I phoned the police – my main concern being that I walk the paths near our home everyday for an hour or two . . . and I have never seen any warning that there is shooting. And I also know that all the paths are well used by locals and tourists.

I was told that under the new Scottish Right to Roam laws I have a perfect right to be there . . . and so do the people with the shooting rights and they don't have to put out warning signs. The guns, the deer stalkers use, can actually shoot a bullet up to six/seven MILES . . .this information from the police themselves and indeed from a policeman whom I know hunts. Deer stalkers are supposed to shoot into a back stop ie if you are shooting in the hills you shoot towards a hill where the bullet will stop if you miss your target . . . but you can't do that in a wood and if that bullet misses and strays how do you even know who, or what you have hit.

Now is it only me who can see the potential disaster lurking in the woods waiting to happen?

I pointed this out to the policeman . . . and he said 'well you needn't worry you would probably be spotted.' Now call me pernickety but that word PROBABLY is not entirely comforting – particularly as a couple of Winters ago HS and I, whilst out walking in exactly the same area I am writing about, had someone discharge a gun very close to us . . . the hunter had no idea we were there until AFTER he had fired the gun . . . We phoned the police. The man in question got his knuckles rapped by the police and told do it again and you will lose your licence . . . horse and stable door springs to mind. But every time our hunter goes out shooting he is at risk of discharging his firearm near a member of the public . . .whether it be in the forest, or out on the hills the problem is the same - you simply cannot see people until they are very close to you.

I was told by the police that the gun laws are very stringent . .

'Er but they still allow people with powerful guns to shoot in areas frequented by the public – with no warning to the public?'



I have been told by the police that if I hear shooting when I am out walking to call them (the police) immediately and they will come up and investigate . . . er yeah could be too late by then . . .but thanks . . .Think I'll just bolt this stable door and then trot off into the sunset on the stable's ex occupant . . . a berludy incompetent Ass. . . think I'll call him Law!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

The Hormone

Said in the voice of Frankie Howard in Up Pompei – remember when he used to say 'The Prologue!' . . .sigh . . .showing my age I guess!

And so . . The Hormone. A little demon from within. A tiny little inhabitant in our bodies busily proving on a daily basis and throughout our lives that size doesn't matter when you are intent on wreaking havoc..

When we are young our hormones live in apparent dormant calm allowing us to get on with the tricky business of 'growing up'. Although I suspect the tricksy little hormones will be in there somewhere stirring up the terrible two's perhaps . . just practising for the turmoil that they will create later on. Then, just as we are heading into an all important time of our lives – exams – the whole of our future hanging the balance . . .POW . . . zippy little hormones nip in and turn our normal young lives into teenage hell. As if growing up isn't difficult enough nippy zippy hormones decide to bring horrible acute and overpowering awareness of the opposite (whispers) sex into the equation. And they (the opposite s-e-x) are suddenly the most important thing in our lives. Just when we should be thinking about Maths and English and History suddenly Chemistry and Biology become the most important thing on agenda and not the type that you will be examined on either – well not by the school anyway. Ah but not content with turning our lives upside down the hormones also cause our skin to erupt horribly, just at the time when we need to look our best., to be attractive to the opposite . . s*e*x. All hell breaks loose. We develop an unjustified (well mostly unjustified) hate for our long suffering parents, just when we need their support most. Our bodies change and sprout all over the place and our moods go up and down faster than a speed lift. And as if it wasn't enough with the hair and the new body odour and the spots and the turmoil us women get to have periods every month as well. Oh thank you oh higher one for that!

So somehow we stagger through the confusing teenage years, just another phase perhaps, but the hormones are awake now and they aren't going to let go. Oh no for us women every month is a roller coaster ride of emotions over which we have no control. We see-saw from happy and calm and liking ourselves for maybe one day of the month to out and out hatred of our bodies for the rest of it. Overnight we loathe everything about ourselves, we hate the way we look, dress, walk, talk, think, speak, breathe. Our bodies retain water and bloat up, we feel fat and revolting and as if to mock us we are hungry all the time and crave chocolate and just want to eat and eat and eat . . .which makes us bloat and hate ourselves all the more . . .arrgghh. And then the men in our lives don't understand why we are so snappy and vile. Well why the hell should they, we don't understand either and do they bring us the very chocolates we crave and don't want – of course not . . . .And then there is the pain and the mess of periods . . .warning to you men – don't cuddle us when we feel like this – a poke in the eye often offends . . .'but why aren't you cuddling us, don't you find us attractive any more Wailey Wailey. . . If I have to put up with this the least you could do is be supportive . . don't come near me, I know what you want . . . What do you mean you will love me however I look you're just being condescending I know I'm fat and ugly. . . But darling big is beautiful . . . MEN!!!! Honestly you just don't know what you want do you? Snarl! AND the house is a mess WAAAAAH.

So we lurch from month to month to year to year battling each mood change until maybe we find we are pregnant. If we are lucky that is, not everyone who wants to be can be. However the rollercoaster takes on new dips and turns, highs and lows. Morning sickness, bizarre cravings (cheese marmalade and onion toasties) and apathy and new moods we didn't know existed. Tiredness beyond belief, a bladder that develops a mind and size of its own, a body that is no longer yours. We also go through the blooming months and life is good and the backache and constant battle with gravity through to the torture of those last couple of weeks to childbirth and crashing hormones. Postnatal depression for some and a baby to cope with as well. Ghastly, unrepeatable, never again? Obviously not - because many of us do willingly go through it more than once and I, even after two children, confess I can't remember that much about being pregnant. The hormone again – it has mind block powers . . .sneaky little . . .what was I saying?

So we travel through life lurching around the minefield of hormones without a map – even Sat Nav can't help here and we grow older and maybe even wiser and more reasonable and then the menopause creeps in . . . good grief just when you thought you had got it all worked out. Hot flushes – save a fortune on the heating, mood swings, don't even TRY to keep up, black thoughts, feelings of doom – wake up on an indrawn breath of near panic and weight gain again . . . what is it with weight and hormones and bit by bit everything starts to wrinkle and fade and for those of us with daughters it all happens just as they are blooming into gorgeous young women . . .ptoooooey – how UNFAIR is that . . .And we still find young men attractive . . . .eeeeeeek.

Ah hah . . . but after years and years of being ruled by the little demon hormones . . . . . .I actually 'get it' now. The physical things I can ride out and the mental things I can grab hold of and contain . . . so you see you little bergers you don't rule supreme anymore . . .ho ho ho little hormones of mine. I know I still have a monthly cycle of sorts, but I 'get' it and it will no longer 'get' me. I WILL allow you your mind block tricks though so that when I look back over my life, which I know in the deep dark recesses of mind that I have lived in turmoil, I will see and remember a life that has been pretty berludy wonderful to date and I shall, every day, look forward to each rising sun . . . . . . . . . . once I have conquered the daily indrawn breath of panic that is!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

A little tale of Poo

Oh lovely it was, just last week, a warm sunny day in April, birds singing, sun shining and all was well with the World – you know the sort of thing.

So there I was out walking the dogs – no one around – breathe out and relax perfect. Then I spied what looked like a tissue. I had to walk right past it so couldn't fail to see it and nooooo it wasn't a tissue. It was a neatly tied white plastic bag full of . . . dog poo . . .yes dog poo, sitting there with great smugness amongst the moss. Eeeeeuuuuooowwwww. It was already sweating in the sun the bacteria inside going rampant in the warmth. Bleah. Ah but wait, maybe the owners of said poo were returning the same way and would be back to retrieve and dispose of the offending article. Comforted that this would be the case I walked on. Pleased that there were people in the world who were thoughtful enough to bag up their dog's poo . . .although burying it would have done. I will point out here that I did not open the bag and investigate – it was obvious enough what was in the bag . . . I do have a life you know.

The next day was chilly and overcast, but ok. The dogs and I set off for our daily walk. And very quickly we encountered another neatly tied bag – black this time – also full of poo . . . Ah well it too was probably waiting to be collected.

Further down the track though we came across bag number one . . .eeeek. Still there and clearly laying claim to its place in our landscape. Berlimey . . . still maybe they would both be collected tomorrow. But no . . . and a week later they are still there. Which led me to thinking WHY!!!! What on earth went through the mind of whoever had done this. They had gone to all the trouble of collecting and bagging up and securing the bag and then . . .just left it there. Was the act of tying the bag the limit of their thought. Or if not, what did they think was going to happen to the bag. Did they imagine the Poo Police would be smartly along to collect it Neeee Naaa Neee Naaaa – thank you kindly sir. Or maybe they had reasoned it was ok to leave them because the bags are bio-degradable. Eeeek the thought of that festering package being eventually released doesn't bear thinking about it. And if that was the thought process that would mean the country side would be littered with neatly tied, bacteria multiplying packages . . . Or maybe they just didn't think . . . but surely there had to be some thought to have taken the doggy bags with them and used them in the first place. Hah this crime would be considered pre – mediated then. I say 'them' because I did come across a non local couple with a small black dog . . . No I didn't ask because they were walking in the 'towards' direction of the poo and at this point I was still hopeful that they might be in return, collect and dispose mode. Sigh . . .nope.

Out in the country side I see no problem with just scooping the poop into a hole and covering it. After all dogs generally try with little success to cover up their 'doings' so I just help things along. Plus there is plenty of poo of various types all over the countryside and I see no point in collecting up my dogs poop in a bag and binning it for someone else to deal with. My dogs, their poo, my problem. Although there is a school of thought that this sort of poo will affect the local ecology and in some areas people are no longer allowed to scatter the ashes of their deceased on the mountains . . .but that is another story.

I would actually love to have an open non-judgemental chat . . .revs chainsaw . . . with someone who has just chucked away their litter in the country side. I genuinely want to know WHY they think it is ok to do this. What do they think is going to happen to their discarded rubbish. There has to be some kind of reasoning even on a subconscious level. Why do people out for a walk in the countryside think it is ok to leave their food packaging and water bottles. Why would they want to spoil the very thing they were surely out to enjoy. I can sort of understand why this can be made ok in towns because there are systems in place for collecting rubbish – supply and demand – although it is still completely wrong. But WHAT is it that makes people wind down their car windows and chuck their rubbish out onto the grass verges, or to stop the car and dump a bin bag by the road side . . . .

Recently someone has gone to the trouble of driving a couple of miles up the track – and it really is just a track – and dumping a load of car tyres . . .er thank you . . . very picture skew. Last year someone dumped a sideboard . . .a little way up the track just off the road . . .mmmmmm. . . One time I caught a white van man trying to dump rubbish in our private bins (they are half a mile from our house at the road end – so rather vulnerable) – Mr van man got quite angry that the bins were locked . . . sigh . . . he was sent very smartly on his way . . .no doubt to dump elsewhere.

And I thought I would leave you with this picture of a car seat sitting out in the middle of the forest . . it has sat where it is for a very long time as you can see by the moss growing on it. Bit of a lateral thinker this one . . .

Maybe someone reading this can enlighten me as to the thought processes that are required to dump rubbish without feeling any guilt . . .and then when I have listened and failed to understand I will introduce TT into the equation.

Monday, 7 April 2008

A Testing Time . . .

Yes a testing time in more ways than one. Sorry, sorry couldn't resist the pun. Pun, what pun? Read on!!!!

I went to see my Doctor on Friday. I had received a letter from my consultant and wanted to go and discuss it. In short the consultant was confirming Functional Somatic Disorder (which is an umbrella of conditions – none of which I appear to have) . . . and saying that as far as he was concerned any further investigations into my symptoms would be fruitless . . . and then he waffled on about Cognitive therapy and clinical psychology . . . blah blah . . . .berlimey!

Mmmmm as I read the letter I had cartoon visions of me being casually thrown onto the medical garbage heap, wildly clutching at an umbrella. My feelings are that I don't fit into ME, not really, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or anything else under the FSD umbrella. Then again as my previous rheumatologist had said to me when I asked about ME etc – he said oh they are just labels given to people when we don't know what is wrong with them!!!!! Terrific. Interestingly my IBS also under FSD has cleared up since I stopped eating wheat! So there goes another one of those illnesses with no know cause for the symptoms . . . it depends where you look.

So I was a bit wound up when I went in to see the Doctor on Friday. HS came with me – whether to support me, or protect the Doctor from my chainsaw I wasn't sure.

All change . . . we had a long chat with the Doctor and in short he doesn't agree with FSD diagnosis either. He says there is evidence of inflammation in my body (which the consultant denied) and his feeling is that given the fact I already have two autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto's and Dry Eye disease) the likelihood is that I have one or more other autoimmune diseases causing my flu like symptoms. He feels that I need a diagnosis, a prognosis and a way of coping . . .I feel I need wine, chocolate and a roll up. He said there is no point going to another consultant in this area as they will just all agree with each other!!!!! So I am now going to Nine Wells hospital in Dundee to see another Rheumatologist (apparently they deal with most of the autoimmune diseases) for more tests. I have been warned it could be another long haul – more waiting, more tests and yet more waiting and no guarantee that they will be able to find out what is wrong. So may be no further forward at the end of it, but at least my Doctor isn't giving up on me and shoving me under an umbrella on a garbage tip.

We did discuss M.E. - in his view true M.E., not to be confused with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has symptoms which can be tested for and is a recognisable disease - actually recognised by the World Health Organisation . . . something I know Hopping Moon and Tumbling advocate very strongly, but not all the medical profession treat it as a real disease. He also felt I don't fit into ME or CFS . . . yes I have similar symptoms, but I don't have the extreme fatigue, or muscle weakness and I can mostly walk an hour every day which ME and CFS sufferers can't . . . I talked about my concern about my shrinking world and he has suggested that he sends me to see a clinical psychologist to help me deal with what is going on . . .yup love clinical psychologists – I wanted to be one. He also said that it was a vicious downward spiral ie if you go out and feel unwell then you will be less keen to go out next time. True. But I used to find that if I pushed through my symptoms I was ok . . . then over the months I have become less and less ok and yes now I am wary of going out . . . not sure it is a downward spiral though, just that I am actually feeling unwell when I go out. Tricky one. Having said that I have just booked up with Wizzard to go to the Scottish Finals of the SCDA One Act Play in Inverness for three days – so I won't give up pushing the boundaries. Interestingly my Doctor said he didn't believe in CT therapy in my case, or that a course of this would make the symptoms magically disappear . . . Full of surprises my Doctor. He also said that if he did feel that there was no point in continuing looking for a diagnosis for my symptoms he would tell me. And I would listen. And I would trust him.

So back on the merry go round and off the garbage heap and not an umbrella in sight . . . .WHOOP WHOOP.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Tagged - seven things

Eeeeek I have been tagged . . . seven things about myself - presumably interesting.

1) I was terrified of school, I really really REALLY hated it and hated it right through until I left at 16. I was permanently worried about my homework, I hated doing games. I was hopeless at Maths - although I did love English literature. I was constantly told by my teachers that I lacked confidence - so in the end I did.

2) I spent a lot of my working life working in Television as a VTR operator, an editor, I did a bit of editing. I worked with the studio, Telecine. I did alot of the titling graphics for clients on a machine called an Aston. I used to love my job and couldn't believe I was being paid from something I enjoyed so much. Then came the days of the take overs and suddenly money became more important than quality and the whole post production world turned into a cut throat business. My life was made hell by the company I worked for ( a well known commercial broadcast TV company who had taken over the wonderful company I had been working for) because I didn't fit in anymore and because I was an official in the TV union. In the end I got so fed up with the way I was subjected to regular snide put downs and abuse that I upped and walked out one day and then I sued the arse off the berludy company and got a generous out of court settlement. I have never worked for anyone since - the whole thing scarred me so much . . . then again I LOVE working for myself.

3) With one other VTR operator I did the first ever Sky Broadcast . . . then it only went out for two hours a night and not to the UK! Oh we had so much fun in the early days.

4) I have been married three times. I have obviously got it right now as I have been with HS for 22 years married and 26 years together.

5)I won a national hand writing competition when I was in Middle school and also got highly commended in a national poetry competition at about the same time I think. Also got short listed in the 90's for the One Voice writing competition . . .

6) I have loved animals ever since I was small and rescued a pigeon when I was eight - my first rescue. I ran a Rabbit rescue, for about four years and a Parrot Rescue. I have rescued rats and a ferret and sheep and chickens and cats and dogs and chinchillas . . . and so on . . .oh and of course Cyd my eyed Piranha.

7) I was told when I was in Junior school that I would grow up to be a writer . . . well I guess I did, but haven't had anything major published yet. I had a few minor bits and pieces published under Amber Hunt by Templar Publishing . . . think they are all out of print now and googling Amber Hunt does not bring up my name as my minor success was long before google . . . But I am now writing again - so who knows.

There I think you know enough about me now . . . Oh and I LOVE cheese and onion and marmalade toasted sandwiches - which I am really missing whilst I am on this wheat free diet.

I am not going to tag anyone - but as others have said if you fancy doing your seven things . . .then please consider yourself tagged.

My Best Friend

Today - the 1st April - is the day that HS and I met 26 years ago . . . and I just wanted to say thank you HS . . . you truly are my best friend . .Best April Fool I have ever had - before someone else says it . . .

Sunday, 30 March 2008

It really is the little things.

I have turned the toaster up' HS announced this morning. 'Thought I had better tell you!'

Um right - not much you can say to that really . . .'er why?'

I was still struggling with the loss of a whole hour this morning and what this meant to my coffee consumption . . .

'Well I have ben leaving it down so that you don't burn anything, but I am just letting you know I have turned it up.'

'OK . . . er thank you, but I'm not eating wheat at the moment . . .so what would I be putting in the toaster?'

HS looked uncomfortable and muttered . . .'well I don't know, but I've left it turned down for you.'

Too good an opportunity to miss I gleefully pointed to his blonde hair . . .

But what really struck me, blonde moment, or not, was the fact that he had been so thoughtful.

It is the little things like that tell me HS loves me.

He has and is being a huge support through the last 18 months with this illness and I never forget that although I am the one with the symptoms he is going through it as well. His support has been unstinting. We have talked a lot and even argued a lot, but he is always there for me. He has taken me to the hospital to see the various consultants and driven me home and listened to me as I worked my way through all that has gone on. He is there when I am in an up mood and there for me on the days that are not so good . . .always there for me.

So thank you HS - your support and all the little things you do really are appreciated. Sometimes words don't seem enough

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

A Golden Opportunity Part Four

I was upset and angry when I left the hospital after being told I had a form of M.E. I was confused and my mind was all over the place . . . I honestly didn't know what to think. Part of me thought what if this condescending dismissive man has got it wrong . . . My symptoms have been going on since the late seventies, but we didn't dicuss my symptoms, or my history. Or maybe this is a different disorder . . . what if something has been missed, what if I have something that is curable, but has now worsened and could kill me if not treated, what if I have something that is very simply treatable, but has been missed . . . And I still often get moments like this. Then again would I feel the same whatever I had been diagnosed with. I suspect the problem is that there is no pill popping treatment for M.E the whole diagnosis and treatment is a bit vague . . . then again the chances are I wouldn't have taken any pills they offered me anyway . . .unless it was in the form of a replacement pill type hormone thingy . . . the likes of which I already take in the form of Thyroxine. Berlimey talk about all over the place. I also accept that I have to put eyedrops in my eyes and take take acid inhibitors to prevent scarring in my hernai. I hate taking the anti-migraine pills as I don't know long term what they will do to me and have even wondered it the aching is a way of my migraines coming out elsewhere . . . Who knows and that is the thing, medical science is amazing, but there is more to learn than there is actually known.

Then I started to look at what this meant to me and my life. There is a psychological aspect to M.E ie it seems to affect fit and active high achievers . . . but it is a physical disorder and not all in the mind as was thought years ago . . . except there are no tests done in this country to confirm the disease. So could it be that my mind and body are not in harmony . . . that there is a discord that has probably been present for years and now the body having coped for so long is no not able to cope any more. This is true of many diseases, if not all diseases, but that is another debate. And certainly this way of thinking is exactly what I studied in Reflexology and Stress Management. So where does that leave me. Well it leaves me some pretty horrible physical symptoms with no obvious physical cause and mood swings and disabling tiredness and a shrinking life. But it does give me the opportunity for self development and to really look and I mean really look at me as a person. And a chance to look at what is not good in my head that could in turn be throwing my body out of sync.

I have a negative side to me, we all have our negative side. There is and has been a lot of anger in me and I have watched that come out in various ways. I have a judgemental side and a depressive side, I worry to much and push myself to hard, never feel good enough . . .and so on. So my conclusion is that it is now time to come to terms with my 'negative' thinking and to bring it into a more positive focus. It is so much easier to be negative and angry with the world and the people in it than it is to be calm and peaceful and happy. There are so many external influences telling us how to behave and pointing out how we don't measure up . . . berlimey it is amazing any of us ever get through getting up and getting outside the front door every morning. I know I beat myself up each morning because I am not an early riser . . . I judge myself, by how I think others will judge me . . . but really it is me doing the judging. It is me deciding that I am lazy and no good . . . and waking up in a panic. There is of course the question of where all this conditioning came from . . . I could blame my childhood, other people, everyone, but me . . . but it is my thinking, I am responsible for it and I am responsible for changing it.

My feeling is that when I am able to achieve a calmer more peaceful state of mind then I may also achieve a calmer, more peaceful body and perhaps I will start to feel better and if I don't at least I will be able to cope better. I have noticed that walking every day does help me cope with my symptoms, because I feel so much better mentally after a walk. I feel more positive . . .

And with all the above I could be totally barking up the wrong tree, but even if I am there are still parts of my thinking that I know I am ready to change. I recently found myself forgiving my Father and experiencing the liberation that forgiveness brought. I even found myself no longer being angry at the woman who tried very hard to pinch HS off me a few years ago. It is unlikely I would ever trust her again and unlikely we will be friends, but I no longer feel overwhelming anger when I think of her . . .(firmly puts down chainsaw) . . . . and breathe and relax . . . .rrrRRRRrrrRRR . . .sigh . . . well I will work on that one . . .LOL.

Eeeeeek no I am not about to turn into a paragon of virtue even I couldn't stomach me if I did that and let's face it I would no longer be me and living a lie for a completely different set of reasons . . . but I do honestly think I have been given a Golden Opportunity to look at and challenge long entrenched ways of negative thinking in myself and by slowly altering these to gradually improve and enjoy my life in a way I never have before. But no way am I ever giving up my chainsaw . . . .or chocolate . . .or wine . . . .

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

A Golden Opportunity Part Three

So there I sat . . . a little hopeful. Maybe just maybe I was going to get a diagnosis at last. There was no examination though, no looking through my list of symptoms, no discussion about my Hashimoto's and my concern that I seem to be losing a lot more hair lately when I wash it – or that my once pronounced eyebrows are getting a bit, well . . patchy, or that the hairs on my legs have stopped growing. The latter usually a sign I need to take more thyroxine. No discussion about any of these things. He looked at my year old blood tests and said I was on plenty of Thyroxine . . .er what about the symptomatic approach . . . I explained that my Doctor and I were happy with the dose – the consultant didn't comment.

So the pronouncement . . .

'You have, (not may have, but have) Functional Somatic Disorder' . . . .


'Functional Somatic Disorder.'

'Ok so what is that exactly?'

And the answer was 'well we can't medically diagnose you. All the blood tests done by the Rheumatologist are coming back negative. And I know the Rheumatologist very well.' Uh huh sticking together here me thinks. 'And when there is no clinical diagnosis then you come under the umbrella of Functional Somatic Disorder.'

Ah so I don't have Functional Somatic Disorder, but I come under it's umbrella?'



'Well lots of disorders that we can't diagnose with tests come under this M.E., Firbromyalgia, PMS, IBS . . . blah blah blah and studies have shown that psychology plays a part in these diseases.'

'So are you suggesting this is all in my head?'

'No not at all, just that certain personality types fit into this bracket. As studies show.'

' OK! So are you saying I have M.E.?'

' . . well you have a lot of the symptoms although your fatigue doesn't seem to be that severe.' He then drew a diagram with all the various illnesses and explained how the symptoms all overlapped and I was in the overlap somewhere . . .somewhere . . .where?

Wow how clever – he had seen me for ten minutes, on a good day and had already worked out that my fatigue wasn't that bad (really!) and he had worked out what was wrong with me when no-one since the 1970's had been able to. And all this without discussing any of my symptoms and despite the fact that my symptoms aren't typical of any of the things he had mentioned.

He did say that he would arrange for me to have a blood test for my Adrenal Glands, but wasn't expecting anything abnormal. He then went on to say that once I'd had the test then he would ask my Doctor to arrange to Cognitive Therapy to help me cope with my symptoms. I asked about the mouth biopsy that said I had mild chronic inflammation. The consultant flipped through my notes and said he had no such letter! 'But my Doctor is under the impression that I have inflammation in my muscles', I insisted, not that I particularly want inflammation in my muscles, 'but my Doctor was so definite about it.'

' Well the evidence I have here is that you don't,' pronounced the lofty consultant. He then printed off a self help manual on M.E. To be collected at the front desk and said goodbye . . . .

Berlimey . . . do I have M.E, I thought he said I didn't? What is going on. He told me he was printing off some information about Functional Somatic Disorder and gives me a manual on ME.

My first reaction was to be very upset. I didn't want a disease, disorder that had such a stigma attached to it. A disorder that was once thought to be 'yuppy flu' and like depression all you had to do was 'pull yourself together'. Once the consultant had made his pronouncement it was very clear that he was 'done' and just wanted me gone. I felt like a time waster. There was nothing to prove I was ill. All I had now was exactly what I started with – how ill I feel. . . my word against the world. Much much easier in some ways to have a definite disease.

A lot of this reaction stems back to nearly being sacked from work with my days off due to migraines. My employers didn't believe me and wanted me to go into a work when I had a migraine so that they could see for themselves how ill I was. Go into work – but I was constantly throwing up . . . anyway that is another story and discussed in a previous blog. I was and am worried what if 'they' have got it wrong. My vet was diagnosed with M.E – later on turned out he had Q disease. I can never get to grips with people not believing me. I was brought up to tell the truth and am always gob-smacked when I realise people think I am lying. The situation with the migraines and my work cut very deep.

I guess I was worried too about what people would think of me . . . Would people even believe I was ill. After all most of the time I look alright and on the surface can function ok. It is only in private that I know the extent of my illness. Some days I ache, but have energy and feel on top. Some days I ache, have no energy, but still feel on top. Some days I ache, have no energy and feel so down and tearful and doing even the simplest task seems impossible. My aching seems to target different areas on different days. Sometimes my legs and ankles and feet. Sometimes my hands wrists and ankles, sometimes my shoulders – sometime altogether. But always there are specific points. If I knock myself, or hurt myself the pain felt is completely out of proportion with the injury. I fell over in the mud yesterday and know have pain in my hip and back and running down the front of my leg. I know this will last a few of days and be impossible to get comfortable – but from experience it doesn't usually last any longer than that.

One thing I have found is that my World is shrinking. I no longer do drama, have turned down the Uni course I was going to do on person Centred Counselling. I have resigned from all the committees I was on. I do go to the village at least once a week, but rarely go out in the evening now. I was so worried about how I was going to be when KittyB and Faith were here – but I was ok. Same with Blossom, except for one evening I was ok there too. I walk everyday for an hour, or more. Sometimes I come back from the walk still aching, but energised and coping. Other times I struggle to walk. I avoid planning anything in case I can't do it – I hate letting people down. The level of aching does go up and down. I have had periods where it is only just there in the background and I have been able to function pretty normally. Then it all comes back again and I have to live, as now, day to day.

So in short Thursday's sentence left me feeling tearful, and generally pretty hopeless. I was left with an illness, disorder, whatever, that was making my shrinking life hell and although it wasn't causing me any damage and wasn't going to kill me there was no indication of how long it was going to go on for. Interestingly my cousin who has Hashimoto's – also had M.E. We hardly ever speak though . . . Her's lasted two years.

I have started to read my self help manual and so far I am already doing all the self help things they suggest. And have already found out that resting actually seems to make my symptoms worse. Whereas generally I can push through, there are times when I have no choice but to rest. A nasty quirk of nature is that my illness, as with many illnesses, it causes sleep disturbance and like last night once awake the pain keeps me awake. Then I am tired as well as fatigued the next day which means I don't cope as well. I am very reluctant to take pain killers as at one point with my migraines I was taking 15 paracetamol and codeine a day – usually three every three hours when I had a migraine – I don't want to go down the addiction route again. I save them for when things are really bad.

So this was where I was last Thursday at stage one – through the weekend I was rapidly to go through other stages . . . . but will tell you more about that in the next few blogs.

P.S Today is the day I joined CL a year ago year!!!!!!


elizabethd said...
It'd difficult to know how to comment, except to say that you are so constantly cheerful, amusing and such a good Headmistress, and also going through all that too. Very brave.

19 March 2008 06:56

westerwitch/headmistress said...
Thanks ED - sorry yes I think alot of people are finding the same - that it is difficult to know what to say - the blog is being looked a,t but no-one is commenting.

For my part it is something I have been going through for years now and I needed to write it all down and my process of working through it all and how I am coping. I want to get it all out of my head and down on 'paper' and also to share it in the hope that it will reach out to someone. Gawd that sounds terribly noble - but you know what I mean.

19 March 2008 07:10

lampworkbeader said...
WW If it does turn out to be ME there is not stigma about it nowadays. It was years ago that it was called, rather unkindly, yuppie flu, and then only by the really ignorant.
I have know children with ME and there are a lot of things that a person can do to manage the illness, but I am sure you know that as well as anyone.
I have no suggestions to make it better, but i guesss cyber friendship won't make it any worse. So lots of love LWB

19 March 2008 11:55

A Golden Opportunity Part Two.

Things did indeed change in June 2006 – but to explain why I need to back track to Feb 2006. I examine my breasts now and again – not as often as I should I know – and I found an abnormality. It wasn't a lump, just odd – not quite right. I went to the Doctor who was pretty certain that is was not a tumour. He however referred me to hospital anyway just in case. I wasn't seen until May – but I was a non urgent case. I had expected to be told everything was ok and that would be an end of it. Instead I was given all sorts of tests including needle biopsy, mammogram, and a scan. The scan and mammogram were inconclusive on one side, but showed a shadow on the other side – the 'normal' side. Another scan at a later time showed this to be a cyst which was drained there and then.

The consultant was still not happy and decided to remove the abnormal material by surgery. This was done in Stirling general in the middle of June. I also had another lump removed as well, which came up a couple of weeks before the surgery. A biopsy was taken of the abnormal tissue and the lump. Long story short , my lump was made from dis-organised cells and I was told I have Fibrocystic Breast Disease – a benign condition. Phew big relief. The abnormality I had felt was enlarged milk glands – a condition called Duct Ectasia another benign condition. So although I am liable to have cysts and lumps pop up from time to time it is unlikely to be anything to worry about.

A week after the operation I started aching. Inconvenient, but been through it before, so just thought it is a time thing. Then the weeks started to go by and the aching continued and got worse. I still tried to ignore it. We were in the process of selling our house to Lixtroll and peat and moving ourselves into the newly rebuilt Steading. I put it down to a viral thing plus stress.

Two months went by and still no sign of relief and I was becoming worried. I went to see the Doctor. He thought I had a rheumatic type condition and gave me steroids. Which helped, but seriously upset my stomach. He then tried various treatments before referring me to a Rheumatologist. I got an appointment in November 2006. It was then I was told I had Sjogren's Syndrome and put on anti malarial tablets. No not because I had been playing with mosquitoes, but because the pills have a side effect of relieving the aching associated with Sjogren's. I was given various blood tests to confirm the Sjogren's and it was assumed that this was just a formality. I already had the dry eyes, dry nose and aching. They did the Schirmer test on my eyes which confirmed that I had dry eye disease. I had to stop taking the anti malarial pills in January because I had thought they were upsetting my stomach.

Then in March 2007 I went to see the Rheumatologist again - all blood tests had came back negative. So I was left no-where. More tests ensued. A mouth biopsy was booked, but that took months to come through. All the blood tests were coming back within normal range. I was left hanging with no further appointment until after the mouth biopsy and with no idea what was going on with me. And with no form of treatment. In the end we paid for me to see a private consultant. I unfortunately saw the same one that I was seeing on the NHS – he was a bit less dismissive of me as a private patient, but not much. He came up with a few more blood tests. They all proved negative. I finally had the mouth biopsy in October – nearly a year after I first went to see the consultant. The mouth biopsy showed that I had mild chronic inflammation, but not what was causing it and confirmed that I didn't have Sjogren's. I expressed surprise at the mild bit of the inflammation – my Doctor said that my symptoms fluctuated and a biopsy of my muscles during a bad flare up would confirm chronic inflammation. But at least this proved I had inflammation.

After all this I got a letter in the November from my consultant saying there was nothing more they could do for me and they didn't need to see me again. No referral, no advice - nothing – just dumped. I felt very let down.

Also at some point during all this between breast problems and aching, my mammogram results got lost along with all my notes which made life difficult when seeing anyone at the hospital. I complained on several occasions, but everyone just seemed to shrug and come up with all the problems of the hospital. My notes appear to have been found now, but were missing for about a year. So as you can imagine my faith in the NHS has taken a battering over the last 21 months.

Meanwhile In December I was sent to have a gastroscopy - which showed that my stomach problems (which had started in January) were being caused by a Hiatus Hernia . . .The time delay here was me – I refused to go for the tube down the throat treatment . . . I had had it done before without sedation and didn't like it. This time I noisily demanded the drugs and got them. Much better. I didn't see the consultant afterwards was just told you have a hernia – go and see your Doctor in two weeks . . .er thanks . . .Thank goodness for the internet. Every patient being diagnosed at the hospital where I have been should be told how to Google their symptoms it is the only way they are going to find any information on what is wrong with them.

I went back AGAIN to my Doctor. Firstly to discuss medication for my Hiatus Hernia. I took and still take the acid inhibitors – to avoid scarring of the stomach wall in the future. I was given other pills to empty my stomach quicker. I have stopped taking these as I didn't like the side effects and didn't feel they helped at all. Next on my list I asked my wonderful patient (sorry pun) if seeing a Endocrinologist would be a good idea in case my aching and tiredness symptoms were linked to my Hashimoto's. He agreed and a letter went off. I was hopeful. I hadn't seen a consultant about my Hashimoto's since 2004 and there were a few questions I wanted to ask – plus the aching and symptoms I had were very similar to the ones I'd had in the couple of years before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's. My Doctor also said that if we drew a blank with the Endocrinologist then we could look at seeing an immunologist. He felt it was important to get a diagnosis and treatment and a prognosis of what was going on with me.

I got an appointment to go and see the consultant on March 13th at 14.30. One minute I was hopeful and the next thinking it was a waste of time . . then I thought this is just part of the elimination process and necessary.

So last Thursday I went to see the Consultant. We ended up not discussing the Hashimoto's at all. He clearly had read through my blood tests and some of my history and had already made up his mind as to what was wrong with me before he even met me, or examined me. I had written out a list of all my symptoms in the hope that this would help with the diagnosis – the Consultant said 'thanks for that', but didn't even glance at it, or ask to examine me. Then he sat there and told me what he thought was wrong with me . . . Quick bombshell and here's the door . . . . although I had trouble understanding what he was saying and kept asking questions. I was told that I would be tested for Adrenal gland function (I think this will be at my Doctor's but I was having trouble concentrating), but that he fully expected it to be ok. So I was sent home with a self help manual to read and a head full of questions, eyes full of tears and a heart full of lead. I felt dismissed yet again. But I will go into what happened and how I am coming to terms with it all in the next few blogs.


milla said...
Bloody hell, have just read the last two at a sitting and am gob-smacked. How do you keep so cheerful! No wonder you've made a friend of a chainsaw, sounds like it needs to be revved at the consultant. And the ninny who lost your notes. You poor thing (mindful of Ivy: this is NOT sympathy ...!)

18 March 2008 07:07

suffolkmum said...
I've just done the same as Milla - read it all in one go. Without meaning to sound like a rubbernecker I am keen to know what his diagnosis is, and whether it has helped or not (or indeed is accurate). Talk about going through the mill. x

18 March 2008 07:19

chrish said...
Had a rather bruising encounter with a consultant last week myself - got rather brusque treatment for daring not to have osteoporisis like Ma. Left reeling but well - goodness know how you're coping after your session.

18 March 2008 09:40

tattie weasle said...
I love the NHS for emergencies but for everything else it can be a problem perhaps taking your trusty chainsaw along??? No perhaps we don't want them getting the wrong idea! We DO need you around you know...
Like so many I think you are QUITE QUITE amazing!

18 March 2008 13:48

cait o'connor said...
I agree with all that has been said, you are are amazing. I look forward to hearing the diagnosis.

18 March 2008 15:00

exmoorjane said...
My God, you must have been spitting blood (well, obviously I don't mean literally spitting blood) but so much ineptitude....makes me want to rev up my own chainsaw. jxxxx

19 March 2008 04:27

A Golden Opportunity Part One

At last I have diagnosis of what is wrong with me. Which has invoked all sorts of emotions. Proving again that you never know how you are going to react to in any given situation until you are actually faced with it.

So to get this all straight in my head I am going to take a leaf out of Country Craft Angels book and blog it through.

I have had a life dogged with ill health. Migraines from the age of 11 – happily they are at long last under control with medication and have been for four years. I have Hashimoto's Disease, a Hiatus Hernia, tinnitus, intermittent IBS and possibly the beginnings of diverticulitis. I used to have severe clinical depressions, but that has lifted and I haven't suffered from it since the 80's. I am also an anorexia sufferer – although it is very much under control now . . . then again that is what anorexia is all about isn't it - control. All of my 'illnesses, disorders, syndromes – whatever you want to call them are controllable (that word again) either with pills, or diet and I have been pretty much able to live a normal life. And most of the above have happened later in life and therefore it is not unexpected for health problems to appear as you get older.

Running alongside this since the late 70's has been my flu like aching and tiredness. It used to appear a couple of times a year usually for about a month, or so and was very debilitating. I put it down to having flu, or some virus. It rarely lasted longer than a month. At some point I was sent to the hospital and investigated for rheumatism and arthritis, but all tests came back clear. It was very worrying at the time of each bout to feel so ill, especially as I couldn't work and there was always the fear of losing my job . . . as had almost happened with my migraines. However each time all the symptoms would gradually go away and then vanish completely. I would get all my energy back and life would go on as before.

I had my children in the late 80's. Both by caesarian as I had high blood pressure both times and placenta previa with the first pregnancy, but apart from that the pregnancies went well. Although I landed up in hospital a month before Wildchild was born with a corker of a migraine and high blood pressure – I was kept in for a month. I was sooooo noisy they put me in a side ward . . . we were all having too much fun in the pre-natal ward and my blood pressure was through the roof. They tried sedating me – but gave up as it had no effect – my room was out of bounds to all my new friends, but there was no stopping me. Still I had a hoot and came out of it with a gorgeous baby. Second time around – ended up in hospital again with a migraine and high blood pressure. I didn't take to any of the girls I was on the ward with, so I behaved myself and was let home until I went back in for the caesarian.

I loved being a Mum, but bringing up two children when you have severe migraines was pretty grim at times – but the good times were far more than the bad healthwise and somehow I got through it.

Then in the early 1990's the usual twice yearly aching kicked in, but this time it didn't go. It dragged on week after week. I had no energy and yet somehow I had to continue looking after the children and also running my children's clothing business. My Doctor did some blood tests and said all was fine and then tried to tell me I was depressed which was making me ill. I tried to explain that I was ill which was bringing me down – but I wasn't depressed. No-one listened. Two years went by. I had some remission – but when the aching and tiredness did come back it was always for months at a time and I was scared that it would never stop. It was a very black time for me. I can remember sitting and staring into space wondering if this was it for the rest of my life. I hit rock bottom and really didn't know how I was going to go on.

I had no quality of life and was getting really desperate. I changed Doctors within the practice and then EVERYTHING changed. The new Doctor, a woman, had me tested for an underactive thyroid. Apparently I had been tested before and because my blood tests were borderline the previous Doctor had chosen not to treat me . . . he didn't even discuss it with me. My new blood tests came back borderline also, but my Doctor decided to treat me for my symptoms. And within six weeks HELLOO LIFE . . . I was taking Thyroxine which as far as I was concerned was a miracle drug. I no longer ached, I had energy, life was good again. Yes I still had the migraines, but I'd always had those and life in-between them was amazing. Interestingly I developed Tinnitus at the same time as the underactive thyroid.

Bless my Doctor she still wasn't satisfied and sent me to see an Endocrinologist because she was wondering if I had Hashimoto's disease.

MMMMmmmm I saw the consultant. He had a room full of students and was clearly showing off. He asked my to lift up my chin and swallow . . . which showed off my enlarged Thyroid gland and said that yes I had Hashimoto's Yup that was it no blood tests no history taking – no discussion just swallow and diagnose. He then put me on a massive dose of thyroxine replacement – saying that my thyroid was going to fail completely anyway so might as well get me on the dose I would eventually be taking.

Within a few weeks I was climbing the walls. I was paranoid, tight with tension the whole time, anxious, having heart palpitations and panic attacks . . .in short I was on a massive overdose of Thyroxine. My lovely Doctor put me back on a much lower does and explained that I would need to play around with my dosage until I found what suited to me and that it was not uncommon for it to take two years to get the dosage right. Plus as the Hashimoto's killed my thyroid I would need to increase my Thyroxine over time. I have indeed played around with the dosage over the years and my current Doctor is happy for me to control my own symptoms in this way.

And so life went on and up until 18 moths ago I had been fairly stable. Bouts of aching and tiredness still came and went, but no prolonged spells of feeling ill. Gradually my Thyroxine increased over the years from 50mcg to 225mcg – with a few hiccups in my dosage, but nothing catastrophic.

Four years ago, after I had been through the menopause, medication that hadn't previously worked on preventing my migraines suddenly did and just like that I had my life back , I could plan ahead and things were looking good.

But all that changed dramatically at the end of June 2006.

Comments moved over from Health blog

lampworkbeader said...
Hi WW I am afraid to say I haven't even heard of some of the things you have to live with on a daily basis, other's are only too familiar.
Take care of yourself and continue listening to your LWB

16 March 2008 10:21

littlebrowndog said...
Crikey, WW - that all sounds pretty horrendous! I too get migraines - although thankfully not as regularly as it sounds like you do - and know how utterly debilitating they can be. Will read your continued story with interest.

LBD xx

16 March 2008 10:22

chrish said...
Hmm, I feel somewhat ashamed of having a bit of a grizzle when you (and LBD above) are coping with so much. Migraines are difficult enough in themselves - I go through phases of them - but put them with all the other symptoms you've had to deal with and I wonder that you've achieved so much.

16 March 2008 11:04

faith said...
Poor you, it all sounds so horrible, and yet you seemed so vibrant when Kitty and I visited. Two out of my three sisters, and a dear friend of mine, have had thyroid problems so I know what all that is about - shudder.

16 March 2008 11:47

cait o'connor said...
I hope you get things sorted WW. I hardly ever get a migraine now, one of the (many!) joys of coming through the menopause.Have you tried cranial osteopathy by the way? And Reiki or healing. I can recommend both.

16 March 2008 15:16

cowgirl said...
Oh, WW, what a lousy time. And not just for a little while either. You manage so well, you make me ashamed of the times when I have my mini-meltdowns (quite often at present). The key seems to be a great GP, thank heaven's yours is one of these, do take care.


17 March 2008 00:27

exmoorjane said...
Yup, ditto to what the others have said. YOu have a plateful and no question about it. I do hope you're very kind to yourself through all this..and know what's coming next! jxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

19 March 2008 04:22