6 months since my last post, it’s time to update.
This week I got back the results from my April bone marrow biopsy. There have been no Leukaemia affected blood cells detected since January. But the important tests are the bi monthly bone marrow ones.
At diagnosis 85% of my blood producing stem cells were affected by the mutation which causes my type of Leukaemia. By December it was 3%. Unfortunately, between Liverpool Royal, and Guys, in London, they lost my February sample, so I’m running 8 weeks behind on results.
April sample result was no detectable mutated leukaemic stem cells. I need clear blood, haematological remission, and 3 undetectable bone marrow results, molecular remission, to be considered in remission. Next samples 31 May and last week July.
Im still receiving the experimental trial protocol involving arsenic trioxide infusions. Few side effects, extreme tiredness, my hair is totally white and I’ve got baby curls, but worst is peripheral neuropathy in hands and feet. Permanent pins & needles, total numbness in my toes and soles of my feet.
Mobilty is impaired and restricted. It may be permanent.
But I’m getting back to some normality. Went to Dublin over bank holiday weekend, theatre trip, and I’ve chaired a couple tribunals with two more this coming week.
Treatment continues until 6 July, then rehabilitation physio and 3 monthly, 6 monthly and, after 5 years, annual bone marrow biopsy follow ups for life.
All on the NHS. Truly a marvellous resource. My treatment will have cost £250,000 plus. Each chemo dose costs the pharmacy £1000, and I’ll have had 99 doses by July.
It's 9 weeks today since I was first admitted. I'm feeling much better. Still in Liverpool.,. Treatment going well. Drs pleased.
I've .three more days of chemotherapy before I'm discharged for 2 weeks on 29 November.
Returning to IoM on 2nd December.
Then on 14 December I start phase 2. That is four blocks of 4 weeks chemo twice per week with each block separated by two weeks break. So that's until end May.
The really good news is that apart from 5 days induction to phase 2, and monthly clinics in Liverpool, Nobles Isle of Man Hospital have agreed to deliver phase 2 chemo in their cancer day centre and are sending over a specialist nurse to be trained in the experimental trial I'm on which involves arsenic trioxide.
I'm looking forward to my own bed, the dogs, the Island, and doing a tiny bit of work.
Thanks to everyone for visits, good wishes, gallons of lucozade and lots of chocolate.
I've got weekend leave this weekend and I'm showing a friend from Bulgaria around Liverpool and the the weekend of 9/10 December Paul and I are getting our lives back on track and going to see Nutcracker in Edinburgh
For those who don't know, we're trying to update via Twitter.
Basically a database table containing all the MF posts ever has fallen into a corrupt state. Due to the size, normal recovery methods aren't having much effect so I'm now looking into dumping the data out and rebuilding it from an extract. Obviously that's quite drastic and it's proper shit-the-bed type stuff as one error and it's all gone. I don't know how current our backups are right now, Uni does that stuff, so I'm going with the assumption that I need to get this right first time.
So, the blogs module uses a different table than posts so all being well this should appear and hopefully either direct people to the Twitter, or at least understand it's being worked on.
It's a lovely day outside, go get some fresh air.
After pondering what to call my blog, the revival seemed to be the most apt. I thought of "Bursting with Joy" but that would have seemed a little OTT even if it would appear appropriate to those who have been through the dark days of my life. "Risen from the ashes" was another thought but that reminded me of the Phoenix. The Revival is pretty apt for what is happening to me now; a revival as in the definition "A restoration to use, acceptance, activity, or vigour after a period of obscurity or quiescence."
I didn't want to continue blogging telling everyone how good I was, followed by how down I was and boring people with the endless rollercoaster that my life became since Tom died. Strange things happen sometimes when people suffer loss and allsorts of unbelievable things can happen. Unpleasant things from early years, suppressed and forgotten, can come back and have to be dealt with. This has been the case with me. It isn't necessarily something you want to share with the whole world. So I withdrew from almost everyone and everything. Someone once asked Tom did he write everything there was to know when he wrote his autobiography. His reply was "When you invite someone into your house, you don't show them your bedroom." With that in mind, I also didn't want to share my struggle over the past 8 months or so. What I can say without doubt is that I am now having a revival.
Tom wrote about his journey with cancer and did so with such courage, humour, honesty and optimism. My journey since he has gone has been one of grieving but also of the most awful depression. The thing about depression is that you are anything but optimistic. Negative and pessimistic if the two can be separated. Who want to read about that? But now my journey has taken me another step further. I have been through grief. I have been through irrational behaviour. I have even revisited the darkest days of my past and I am now coming out of the tunnel.
The numbness gradually went which I didn't even know was with me. I only knew when I felt anger and love again. Love came first when I felt it for my family, friends, birds and dogs. I went through the motions of looking after my animals and birds, but I was ashamed and bemused by my total lack of love or feelings for them. I didn't understand it. Anyway, the love is very much back. Anger came but not at Tom which people said may happen. Apparently the person who dies can come in for some anger for leaving. No, my anger seems to be with everything that I seem to have suppressed in the past or present for that matter. So where am I now?
I have come off the antidepressants and am doing well. I have been doing some bookwork for Tom’s brother and Sister-in-law at Pooilvaaish which has given me a purpose and self esteem. I started back with Castletown Band but have been absent without leave for a few months whilst I come through this last tunnel. Painting has been a struggle but one is complete which I have put on this blog. It is too dark for my liking and I cannot brighten it no matter how I try and so I will leave it. It represents a period in my life and reflects the mind of the artist at the time. It is of Langness Lighthouse and my first attempt at acrylic. Most of the painting was done in the early hours of sleepless mornings from around 2 a.m. That is what depression is like. You can lie there tossing and turning or you can get up and try and make use of the wakefulness.
My baby heron survived and the strangest thing is that he must have been the runt and thrown out of the nest. I am only 4ft 11 and some would probably agree I was of a muscular build. My young 'Odin' seems for all the world, a heron equivalent of me. He's a titch. His legs only come up to the knees on the other herons & he can be identified at a glance. As small as he/she is, when it comes to the sardines in a morning, Odin will defend his territory. He knows his name as well, but so funny to look at. In the summer I watched him catch an eel in Castletown harbour and even as a large heron tried to rob him, he wasn't out done. He will always be looked after by me and he's very special.
I have also had the pleasure of watching a family of moorhens raise 2 sets of young in the summer. I think my little moorhen did survive last year because as shy as moorhens normally are, there is one which is fearless when it comes to humans and I think it may be my little fella.
Last week I had an overwhelming desire to go back to programming. Now if that isn't a sign that the depression is lifting, then nothing is. I never thought I would ever feel confident to go back into that sort of environment or that anyone would be even slightly interested in a 59 year old. Well I made a phone call to one of my old firms just to test the water. What can I say? I went to Central Software today already knowing that they would like me to join them on an adhoc basis at the moment. I was nervous for two reasons. Firstly I can feel emotional meeting people who I haven't seen since Tom was a fit and healthy husband. Secondly I haven't programmed or been into that sort of workplace for nearly 3 years. I didn't even know if I could pick it up again, but I had this strange confidence about me that it would all be fine. John the CEO treated me like I hadn't been away from the place for nigh on 14 years. I left at the end of January 1996. Most of the people that were there when I left are still there and they were all pleased to welcome as one of their number again. I only worked there for 3 years but in all my years of employment, I have never loved a place like it. Everyone who works there does so because they love programming. There isn't any politics as there is nothing to be gained. There aren't any bosses as such. No positions to aspire too or projects to you want that much you would denigrate your co-workers to achieve your goals. It is heaven for me especially at my age. I can do a bit of programming which I have to say I absolutely love. There won't be politics, just a team of people all enjoying what they do and encouraging each other. I am sooo excited.
I was craving a can of coke tonight and there was none to be found. The garage was closed as it was 9.30 so I decided I would creep into the Sidings (pub), buy a can and leg it home. I'm from the old fashioned brigade that feels like dying at the thoughts going in a pub on my own. I sidled up to the bar feeling very conspicuous when I lady shouted "Hello Barbara" and then half the bar joined in. That was when I decided "to hell with it"; I got my coke and joined her and her husband for an hour. I mention it only as another way of letting you know how the revival is going. On the way home which is only about 200 yards, I decided it was time to blog. Also today I have seen the doctor and let it be known that I am now off the antidepressants and want to now get on with my life. I needed them when Tom was ill. I was so badly affected when Tom was being treated; I used to go into the park to sob my heart out. I couldn't remember things or think straight. I couldn't get the thoughts out of my head that I was going to lose him soon and at the same time I kept Tom’s optimism alive. Whilst he slept beside me I would exhaust myself on the internet looking to see if there had been a breakthrough in his cancer. It was relentless and I drove myself. When he died my nightmare became reality. The worst had happened. I had lost half of myself and it was the best half. I fluctuated from being unable to function to racing thoughts and basically I was a mess. Then as I have said, I gave away quite a bit of my finances and followed that up with reliving every trauma of my childhood and so on. Now it is finished. I have been warned that the antidepressants will have suppressed some of the grieving and I may still have to go though some stuff which is only what everyone else has to cope with. I'm up for that. I am going to be the Barbara that met and loved Tom 20 years ago. I'm not going to finish my life in a permanent depressive state. I'm having a revival.
Before I end this blog I would like to apologise to all the people I have neglected over the past months/year. Pauline, Joyce, Cheryl, Dorothy, Barry and Linda to name but a few. Wendy and Sean, thank you for the flowers. Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me to blog again when I thought it was passed its sell by date.
This is Barbara Glassey on the banks of the Silverburn River looking forward to Christmas and the New Year.
Well here we are back home after Paul has had his op in London. He now looks good, no skull deformity and is feeling good. I have to say that all the years of paying health premiums have paid off. I am ashamed to have not stayed with the NHS, which I support,and believe in passionately, but the care he got privately was really superb.
He has been given the go ahead to fly by end of January, so his ski holiday is on. The Walton skull plate was synthetic, but the London plate is titanium, will he set off airport security scanners and how will we explain? This could be fun. Watch this space!
We also got to experience NHS A&E in a large south London hospital. Will never grumble about Nobles, ever again.
On the day of Paul's discharge he collapsed and became unconscious 3 times, once in the car on the way back to the hotel, once at the hotel and the third time, again in the car just as I arrived at the hospital doors to have him re admitted (at the suggestion of his consultant, with whom I had spoken).
I had parked, on double yellows, outside the private patient entrance, went in and asked for assistance. They had no porters specifically on duty, the ambulance men in the ambulances next to my car told me it was not their job to get Paul out of the car and into A&E as he had not arrived in an ambulance. One even suggested I should not have brought him in but should have dialled 999. I went to A&E 100 yards down the road, queued for 5 minutes to get to the desk, receptionist tannoyed a porter, but none arrived. Eventually she found a wheel chair and a hospital worker who pushed it to the car but told me it was not his job to help me get Paul, who was still unconscious, out of the car, into the chair or wheel him into A&E.
Eventually I prevailed on two ambulance men to assist in the car to chair transfer, then I was on my own, and was being harassed by the Hosp ital parking attendant to move my car. I had been on the yellow lines for 20 minutes and was blocking no traffic, so after wheeling Paul, who was just coming round, into A&E, I had to abandon him and find parking.
10 minutes later back in A&E Paul had disappeared. I found him in triage. I noticed that next to the triage station was a police office and outside was an armed police officer. Paul was wheeled into the A&E cubicle area. 50 cubicles, all full, nowhere to go. Paul was pushed into a suture room with two beds.
That is where and when we noticed the cameras, 5 of them, and the rifle mikes, four of them! Channel 4 were making a documentary on Kings A&E. A large Jamaican, bleeding profusely was then admitted to the room with a nurse, his partner, a junior doctor and a camera man, sound man and gofer, who had filming consent forms. (no we did not sign up!) The Jamaican had the broadest patois I have ever heard, and whilst being stitched related to the film crew how he had been "rolled by four niggah bruthas" for his wallet. I suppose it may make good TV.
After a scan, because the main worry was that Paul had started another hemorrhage, there were no cubicles or rooms, no NHS ward beds available, and private wing were trying to rearrange beds, it was a 3 hour wait in a corridor on the gurney.
Eventually a bed was found, but again no porters so Paul had to walk the half mile to the ward.
I will never again criticise Nobles, as long as I live.
Anyway, Paul had another two nights in and has been fine ever since. No bleed, the collapses were put down to wrong medicine prescription at discharge, low blood sugar, he had not eaten the night before or that morning before discharge, and peri operative risk. In other words he had been discharged too early!
I stayed at a boutique hotel on Camberwell Church Street, a 10 minute walk from Kings College Hospital on Denmark Hill. The area was fascinating. The ethnic mix was extreme. It was vibrant and for a manxie, quite exciting and certainly an eye opener.
Within the 400 yards from the hotel to Camberwell Green there were 12 different nationalities represented in the shops, restaurants and bars. Spanish Hotel and tapas restaurant, Lebanese kebab shop, Jamaican pattie and jerk take away, Vietnamese restaurant, Chinese restaurant, Bangladeshi restaurant, Thai restaurant, English Fish & Chip shop and two pubs, three banks and two estate agents, 5 Nigerian hairdressers all offering "easing" and money changing facilities behind windows filled with neon lights, a Polish delicatessen, an Indian corner shop and hardware store, a Jewish bagel shop. Other shops, cafés etc were clearly not English owned or run, but what they were did not matter.
More health worries and silly Spanish stories
Well this is intermittent, but I never meant to make it into a diary. I am surprised at the number who read, especially with my appalling spelling. I promise I do spell check work matters. I just haven’t got an IE spell check configured for the forum posts, that and losing a couple of teeth has given me a slight lisp, which has upset the voice recognition software.
So no I have not applied to be AG or Deemster. Nor do I wish to stand for election in September 2011.
I went off to Spain on my own in August, Paul did not feel like travelling. I was meeting 14 family and friends down there, from 2 to 80. I went down in the motorhome/ferry via Santander from Portsmouth supposedly. Got to check in and found I had the wrong passport so had to get a mate to fly mine down from IOM to Luton, so missed the boat. Eventually went via St Malo the next day. Extra 10 hours driving, but 16 hours less at sea so was not much later arriving, but was much more tired.
Had a great holiday. On way back the internal handle on the one and only door to the motor home went US and I had to lean out of the window and call people over to get them to open it from the outside!
Anyway Paul has been exploring options other than Walton. We have sort of lost confidence.
Yesterday he had a Walton check up, and on the Ben, just arriving at Heysham he collapsed again. Seizure and fitting. The boat crew were great and a retired nurse helped. The ambulance was there within 15 minutes and came on the upper vehicle deck. Paul had started to recover and refused to go to Lancaster and we all agreed I would drive fast, very fast, to Walton and they could scan him and check him over, as well as deal with his follow up consultants appointment . He is back on anti convulsants and has slept almost continuously since, but no new bleeds.
So now Paul has two options for his plate replacement, Walton in 6 weeks time or Kings College Hospital London in 3 weeks. That’s almost a year to the day since the first hemorrhage
I think we are going to London.
Any way the optimist Paul has booked his skiing for 2011 31 January to 14 February, got a helmet and a wifi helmet cam
I just want to see the end of 2010, annus horribilis!
(Originally written on 02 October 2008)
There I am at Heysham in the Ferry Terminal. God is having a particularly heavy pee on the port at the time. It’s early December 2006 and I’m on my way home.
Heysham Terminal – I wonder why Dante omitted it from his divine comedy – must have been too scary. Actually it’s more Mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings. Dark, damp and full of strange creatures.
The traffic cone is in the middle of the sewage pool designated as the Gentlemens toilet. I heard on Manx Radio several weeks later it was still there.
Passengers gather. Staff mill about saying nothing. Rumours circulate. Staff admit nothing. I speculate if I can afford the prices at the cafeteria – café? Sod all to eat bar some cake. Hardly adequate fare for those about to be in peril on the seas.
Tension mounts. Due to the lack of information from the staff, the passengers mill around like a badly directed crowd scene from a 1950s Hollywood epic. The designated sailing time comes and goes, An hour passes then we low caste foot passengers are herded on. I start Baaing like a sheep. Several of the younger passengers join in. Further delay ensues but at least we’re on the boat. I find the buffet area and scrutinise the menu. Outside the weather can best be described as very unsettled. At last the mighty engines rumble and we set off. Starving, I buy a chicken curry with chips and rice. Superb. Then the fun begins. The ship rattles, pitches and people start to be sick. The deck tilts like a mad tilty thing and there’s the growing smell of sick. The Angel of Death appears in a corridor. Jack Hawkins walks past in his duffle coat. I debate asking if there’s a U Boat ahead. Half way across, the lounge resembles a Star Trek episode – people being hurled from side to side. The Christmas trees ( cleverly secured at the top, but not at the bottom ) swing side to side like deranged monkeys. The plates in the galley and all the little packets of biscuits and cakes fly out of their display cases.
Flavour of the day is vomit.
We crawl round on the floor looking for someones spectacles which were thrown of his nose by a particularly vicious pitch of the boat. The TVs go out. Lights flicker.
I wait for Jean Luc Picard to give the order to abandon ship.
The Angel of Death is throwing up in the gents. I am struck by the realisation that Steam Packets’ Ben My Chree is as stable as Gaddaffi in his pre friend of the west days.
Some poor sod is huddled on the top deck on the leeward side under blankets throwing up her intestines. The only others up there are a few madmen trying to enjoy a fag and not get tossed overboard.
Everything not bolted down in the lounge is flying around including all the passengers. Then at last lights through the dark and rain.
People try to avoid dying before reaching land. When the ship of doom does eventually dock hours late, naturally with their usual contempt for foot passengers; we are let off last. In fact the cleaners were boarding and in the lounge before we get on dry? land. But at last there I am.
On holy ground.
The land of my birth.
The blessed isle
It’s cold, dark and p*ssing down but I’m home.
Well it has been an eventful 3 months. Paul went to Walton and had his plate fitted. It was a plastic affair, not titanium, so no looking forward to setting off body scanners. In and out in 4 days. I went to Spain and finalised the farm and season prepared the apartments
I got back 30 April.
& days later Paul was at deaths door again, air ambulances to Walton. Infection had set in the plate was rejecting and pressure was building up inside his brain. He lost all co ordination and started to slur.
At Walton they thought they had detected an abscess in the centre of his brain and so on IV antibiotics he was kept in for 17 nights to ensure it wasn't. Fair enough they did admit the infection was s introduced at Walton on installing the plate originally and no it was not MRSA
Paul is not a good patient, he gets bored easily and frustrated when he is not told exactly what was going on. At the start he was being told but was forgetting. Then one afternoon a nurse at a shop half a mile away recognised him. He had gone for cigs and food. As he was sleeping he missed meals. So he sneaked out for take aways!
I went over every other day, mainly day trips on the fast craft, with car and dogs. The dogs kept him going. I have now notched up my 40th single journey this year.
Anyway he is back home now recuperating, has to wait another 4 months to have the plate re fitted, in meantime cannot fly and I am the only driver
On the bright side the extension is done and most things are back where they should be, just the fish to move to their new home and Paul's new office to kit out
No witty or funny stories this time, just relief to be alive
Well, it's been a long journey for me so far and it isn't over yet, but I am truly beginning to find my way to enjoying my life and not just making the most of it.
I have found it hard to write these past few months as it has been a time of trying to understand my emotions and behaviour of the last year. If anyone had told me that I was behaving irrationally at the time, I would have thought they had lost the plot. I knew that I had done some pretty strange and erratic things like going on spending spree’s and parting with money far too easily, but only when it was too late and then I didn’t know why. It has been explained to me now and whilst it is embarrassing, I understand it now and feel I can share it with you in case you ever go through anything similar.
Apparently the last year has been spent with me trying to cope with the loss of Tom which one would expect, but sometimes people who are grieving do things totally out of character in an effort to try to stop the pain. Some turn to alcohol when they have never drunk before, others work like mad to forget and in my case, I spent money on new clothes, taking to people to dinner every day, looking after others financial problems and on it went until it wasn’t possible to do it anymore. I felt happy when I made others happy. When it stopped I had to face reality and try to get a normal life back on track. I did pay off my mortgage and any other debts I may have had, so some good was done, but I also made it so I have to be extremely careful now with what I have to live on. What’s done is done and it was my way of getting through the pain.
I also learned that when I felt that I had no interest in my birds and animals, it wasn’t that I’d ceased to love them. That was a numbness that enveloped me and I felt nothing. I went through the motions of looking after them, but it was just that. No feelings, nothing.
There is a lot more to grieving than what I’ve mentioned and everyone is different. All I can say now is that I have gone through those periods and now I am accepting.
Today I woke at 5.45 a.m. which is early for me of late. It was a beautiful morning and I thought I would motivate myself and go out to Langness with the dogs. What a wonderful reward I received for doing just that. Lapwings were soaring as 3 herons stood in the stillness of a large pool left behind by the sea. Wheatears and Meadow Pipits danced across the small road, from bush to bush. Flocks of oystercatchers reflected the sun from their under parts as they flew across the rocks. A small baby seal sat basking in the sunshine on a rock. Skipper and Suzie rolled in the lush green grass and then galloped ahead. As I walked towards the point I saw two porpoises making their way round Langness and out to sea, one slightly ahead of the other with fin and body rising out of the water with each thrust. My heart swelled and I wish I could have shared all what I could see with others. I didn’t feel lonely though. I had my thoughts and my memories of Tom and how we did that walk so often together. My mind would think of how he would have loved it today and then as an aircraft took off, I could hear him saying “Flipping planes.” They were such an intrusion when he was trying to listen to nature. I would have been giving him a running commentary of what I could see and to which bird the sound belonged to that he could hear.
Last Sunday my friend Anne and I went to the wildlife park at 5 a.m. It was to listen to the dawn chorus and have it explained to us by Chris Sharpe who knows just about everything there is to know about birds on the Island. It was something Anne and I wanted to do last year but it wasn’t a good time for it. We weren’t disappointed. The first thing we encountered were bats flying rapidly about. I’d have thought they were swifts or something in the dusk. I didn’t realise they were so small and flew so rapidly. From then on it was the start of the dawn chorus and as we made our way through the wildlife park and into the Curraghs, Chris explained each song, bird, nuances etc. There were lots of tracks from the wallabies but no sign. Then there was one sitting in the middle of a path. It didn’t bolt. It just sat there at a distance of about 60 metres, letting us view it with our binoculars. By 7 a.m. we were in the café having a full breakfast and by 8.45 I was home ready to uncover Orry and start my day feeding the birds and the dogs,
On the wildlife front I have some interesting news about Gertie the goose. If you remember I brought her into the garden last summer it became apparent she was going blind. She spent the winter with me and was very settled in the garden with the hens. In the winter the hens all got colds and coughs. I know it sounds nuts but it’s true. They were sneezing like mad and some were pretty bad. It went through the flock pretty quickly and so I put them all on antibiotics. They all got better and then I treated them all for worms and mites in their drinking water. Whatever did it I don’t know, but Gerties opaque pupils cleared and she was able to see again. I put her back on the river and she has been enjoying the last few months back in her own environment with her husband and sister. Last week I had to go and rescue a baby heron that couldn’t fly and it was unable to fend for itself. It has been living outside on the wall and surrounding area and being fed by me. Although it is a baby, it is still quite big even if it is half the size of a full grown heron. I felt so privileged to be able to hold such a bird after years of just looking at them. I was able to feel the long beak, stroke the long soft neck and also feel the toes and long legs. Once I got him in a place I could keep my eye on him, it was then time to shower and make sure I had to mites etc. I’ll include some photos in the near future.
On the pet front, Skipper is still rounding up the hens, Suzie is still rolling in every cowpat she can find and Orry!!! Hmmm, Orry! He now has added to his already large vocabulary, ‘Oy’, ‘sod it’, ‘stop it’, ‘come ‘ere’’, ’get off’, ‘good boy’, ‘come on’, ‘hey boy’, police sirens, heron calls etc etc. His intelligence is improving and he is starting to answer back sometimes. His cognitive speech is improving as he will shout ‘come on, come ‘ere’’ when he see’s me in the morning and wants out of his cage. Suzie got a sharp rebuke when she stood too close to Orrys cage when he was just sitting in his doorway eating a morsel. A bash on the back followed by ‘Oy’ sent her scurrying to her basket. Take something off him which he shouldn’t have and he also yells ‘oy’ at me. He’s great company. The hens are laying well and they have also started their own party trick when I take the tray of food out to the aviary. The all jump up and try to mug me for the tray which when up ended, scatters egg, sprouted seeds and sweetcorn all over the floor.
The other day I went to my first band concert for quite a few years. After starting back with Castletown band and since my last blog, I had virus after virus and didn’t have any continuity with regards practices etc. I am over all that now and I love playing again. I don’t seem to be any worse for my time away and the bandmaster has asked me if I will play some solo’s again. I haven’t done it for years, but I’m up for it. It is all therapy and another interest.
I didn’t really think many people read my blog anymore and wasn’t sure if it was worth me doing it, but I have met people in various places that have mentioned I haven’t written for ages. People I never dreamed in a million years would read what I blather on about. I will try and keep you up to date with things. Motivation is the problem and has been with lots of other things, like emailing people and I still haven’t yet started to paint!!!! One day perhaps. After my little (under statement) spending spree I may have to start pretty soon to keep the wolf from the door.
Toms Mum has not been in the best of health and has been in and out of hospital. She had a particularly bad do last week when she was sent home before they had sorted out her blood sugar levels and last Monday we were pretty close to losing her with a hypo incident. She is doing better now. Orry the parrot is knocking on the window, strutting up and down the window ledge and shouting ‘Barbara’. Oh, I forgot to mention his other new word ‘wor ever’.
I’m off to see the Priests tonight with Anne. For those who don’t know, they are 3 Priests with the most fantastic classical voices. I just hope they get over with all the volcanic ash clouds.
I’d better sort out my aviary birds now. It is nice to be talking to you again and I hope my motivation continues.
From a much more settled Barbara on the banks of the beautiful Silverburn River.
... this cartoon does a pretty good job of expressing alot of my thoughts about parts of modern life and work.
It involves a strong reaction to it - oh dear NSFW language.
The challenge in life is how to ensure the poetry this world has to offer us outweighs the frustrations life blocks us with ... and an understanding that overcoming those frustrations is partly what creates our poetry. Life aint easy - but that shouldn't surprise us really.
It has been the longest I have been without blogging or editing Toms Blog but now I will give a catch up.
First of all, who wants to read about how someone is struggling over Christmas, the New Year and Birthdays with depression. That was where I was at leading up to Christmas and after, continually dipping. It isn't something people want to read on a blog or perhaps that I want to write in too much detail. One of the effects is a lack of motivation and the blog fell into that category as did lots of other things.
Anyway, before Christmas I took on a task which has gone some way to keeping me going and a reason to get out of bed besides looking after my animals. The Vicar who buried Tom has become a friend of mine, along with her husband. She has been very supportive to me since Tom’s death and we share some interests. Her father fell and broke his hip at the latter end of last year and he has come over to the Island to be with his daughter and also to be looked after by her. I volunteered to help and since the day he arrived a week before Christmas, I have been going to her home each day to wash and dress him. He is a lovely elderly gent who will be 94 in March. It gave me someone to focus on and help. His face beams when he see's me arrive and that makes all the difference. He didn't come over here to recuperate, rather to be nursed, but he has come on leaps and bounds and is playing the piano each day and doing exercises to try and improve his painful hip. In the first instance he did well to survive the operation on his hip at his age, but to find a zest for life and a motivation to improve is pretty cool. I could do with a bit of that zest and motivation myself. I have only been going for around 2 hours a day and I sometimes take him out in the car so he can watch the sea whilst I walk my dogs. I printed off every one of Tom’s blogs for him which he has read, including Tom’s book. His eyesight is better than mine and he has a sense of humour that is noticeably quick in which he never misses a trick.
For the moment I have had to have a rest from looking after him as I did too much at the beginning and didn’t pace myself. I am at the moment having some time away so I can concentrate on myself for a while. I tended to put all of myself into the task and haven’t allowed myself time to rest and be quiet. I went each day to the vicarage since the middle of December and in all I only missed around 2 days up until last Saturday. Now I am resting and taking time to be with me.
My mother came over to be with me just before Christmas and stayed for nearly two weeks. I continued to look after my menagerie, my patient and each day I took my mother to dinner with a different friend. Christmas day I went to the flying club with my mother, Tom’s mother and his Aunty Trudy who also lost her husband last year as documented in Toms Blog. It was a lovely dinner and it was a change to everything we would normally have done on Christmas Day. We were out of the house and supporting each other, being waited on with a lovely meal at the Flying Club. No shopping, cooking, stressing or washing up to do. We just sat down and enjoyed being spoiled. I didn't allow my mind to wander over past Christmases with Tom and to be honest; I did try my best to ignore the festive part of it all. It has been very hard not to think of the previous Decembers and January's with cancer, scans, specialists and worries dominating our lives. That has probably been at the root of my dip in spirits and the fact that I still find it almost inconceivable that Tom and I have been parted. I felt sad for all the people who would be going through those same emotions that we had been through the previous years and knowing how they will have felt isolated and sad, whilst everyone celebrated. A young friend of ours lost his mother the week before Christmas and he came to me for advice on everything he should do about the funeral etc. He was devastated and had looked after his mum for a few years. He is 25 and had to bury his mum on Christmas Eve. We cried together as I tried to guide him through his grief and also tell him the practical things that had t be dealt with. He likes to look in on me and check I'm ok and he is coping with his loss. Christmas will never be the same for him again; even when he has children of his own there will always be a tinge of sadness.
I did start back in Castletown Band and I’m aware I do tend to work on whims at the moment. I still have a lot of practicing to do to get back to not exactly my best which isn't that terrific. I'm enjoying playing with the band and there are quite a lot of new and also young faces which is encouraging. Again, I am incorporating this in my break whilst I just slow down a while.
This weekend I am going on a direct flight to Paris with Eileen. It is only for 3 nights and is just over £200 including flights and hotel. I’ve never been and I’m excited. Eileen is the friend that can make me laugh and this is what I need at the moment. Neither of us speaks a word of French and we have decided to just go with no plans for what we want to see and we will just take in the atmosphere and see where we end up. I will report on that next week when I get back. I’m not sure if I’m nervous of the flight or not. It is 2 hours and whilst I appear to have got over my fear of flying, I have only done half hour flights.
When I return I am determined to paint again. I am going to set aside some days which I am going to use for just painting. Once I start I know that I won’t want to stop and that is the place I want to be at. The last time I attempted it was when I was ill with pneumonia but I was so ill I hadn’t the strength to hold the brush for long.
I have been listening to the dawn chorus each morning. The Thrush is the first bird singing and the rest follow some time later. There are stirrings in the bird world now and changes in their habits. The herons aren't as frequent and I know they are busy nest building. In a few months they will almost camp on my shed roof when they expect me to supply them with the food to try and feed the brood they will have hatched. I have been enjoying watching the Lapwings dipping and diving in the fields and by the shore. I love their aerobatics and the unusual calls they make. The weather wasn’t conducive to long walks early on Sunday mornings but for the last few weeks I have resumed my wanderings with Anne. For the first few weeks we walked from Hango Hill to Langness along the shore and marvelled at the flocks of birds feeding in the seaweed. Our walks started in freezing weather, but last Sunday was a much milder day. We decided to walk to the Silverdale Glen and back via Tom’s grave. I had some flowers to put there for Valentines Day. I was followed all the way to Ballasalla by one of my herons who hadn’t been fed and he decided I was going to pull a fish out of my pocket. On the way back there was a field of herons all stood absorbing the sunlight and my previous escort spotted me and resumed his duties all the way back to the house. He was duly rewarded and no doubt went back to his pals.
I have been reading Toms Blogs which a friend of ours in America has collated and sent to me in a word document. It is amazing how his words have an impact on me even now. When I read them it is with a different view than when he was alive and with me. The words speak to me, but in a different way. I feel ashamed of my low spirits when I read what Tom wrote with everything he was going through emotionally and physically. I have decided to have the entire Blog put into a book for those people who never had access to a computer as I feel he can still inspire even though he lost his fight for life. The profits of the book I will give to the Hospice on the Island as they are an unbelievable charity.
In my animal world, Orry is improving his vocabulary and also other sounds he has picked up along the way. He is the only parrot I know that only has to look at a bottle of Fentmans Dandelion & Burdock to do a rather loud burp. His territory has grown and I'm not sure if I have retained my position as head of the household. Suzie made a great recovery from her rather big operation before Christmas and is a little cutey. Skipper is about the same as he ever was but I am more able to cope with Skippers mad collie side. I was sad over the Christmas period when I lit a fire in Tom’s room, put the TV on and closed the door. Skipper went frantic at the door to get in as with the sound coming from the room, it was obvious he thought Tom was in there. When I opened the door he dashed in and stopped dead when he saw and empty settee. It was only at that point that I realised that he hadn't forgotten Tom and still lived in hope that he would return. I have to say that I am finding it increasingly more comforting to sit in that room surrounded by all the models with nothing changed. There is a peace which is felt by all who I invite in. That room is largely left shut and used to bring visitors into and as I say, it is lovely to light a fire and sit contemplative like Tom used to do.
It is a month ago since I attempted to put a blog on the internet, but there has been a little problem with the webpage that allows me to post my blog. Now that I am settling down again, I hope to blog more often and keep people up to date more. To everyone who has emailed me and I have not replied which includes Wendy who came over in January with her fiancé Sean, I can only apologise as it has been due to my total lethargy and depression. I now know the different levels that depression can take and I have actually been into the darkest of places. I don’t want to go there again as it is totally debilitating and no-one can really help. All I can say is that I now understand the hopelessness and I hope that in the future, I will be able to draw on my own experience to help others who are in that dark place.
As I look out of the bedroom window as I write this, birds are busy nest building. My aviary birds are singing their heads off. Orry is whistling, barking and chatting downstairs, I can hear the hens clucking away, the ducks seemingly laughing on the river, Gertie the Goose is shouting to her pals who will be waiting for me to feed them, there is cooing, rooks cawing and the whole world of nature is alive and happy. I have almost been a year without Tom which has been the longest year of my life. I now want to shed the misery I have allowed to engulf me and start to live my life like Tom. Taking time to think things through and seeing the positives instead of the negatives. Instead of dashing about trying to fill my life with things to take me away from memories, I want to be comfortable with those memories and in my own company. I have lots of friends that have tried to support me over the year despite my frenzied comings and goings. I have to include my family in that also, as I haven’t been the easiest person to deal with. To those I apologize and also thank for still being there for me.
Now it is time for me to feed all the ducks, birds, hens, geese, swans, herons, dogs and parrot that are willing me to move my backside.
This is a contemplative Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River, with a heart that is full of joy at the beauty that is all around me.
Paul continues to make good progress and to stay dry.
What will I have to blog about indeed.
We have builders in at present, I am taking the opportunity of adding bed rooms and bath room so we will end up with 3 receptions including a more defined dining area,a room downstairs which can be used as either a bedroom as we get older or a reception, with a walk in shower added to the cloaks and upstairs a new office for Paul and 4 large doubles all en suite.
Spain is done but the website eludes completion.
Next trip is to Walton to have a plate put into Paul's skull, then I am going to Spain to ensure all in order for season then a week end in UK doing Institute of Advanced Motorists training and test. As well I am aiming to fit in HGV or PSV here. The motorhome is 4,5 tonnes unladen, and I do have 7.5 tonne grandfather rights based on when I passed my test but I can get an insurance discount with the extra qualifications
So down to dogs and their ability to fly
We lost Noodle for half a day last week. She is clever. Knows how to work the rear windows in the disco. We had been to Ramsey for a lunch out and came home via Druidale. Got to Union Mils, only two dogs and one very open window.She had got out just after the Ballaugh end of the Druidale road. Anyway someone picked her up and took her to Ramsey police. We drove from Union Mills all the way to Ballaugh and back at very slow speed stopping and shouting every mile.
She seemed pleased to see us when located but I think the cops in Ramsey were sorry to see her go. Not much work done when an attractive playful puppy is tearing round the ops room playing.
So if you wanted the police in Ramsey on Friday and they were slow answering, now you know why
You will be able to tell by the time of my writing that I'm still having difficulty motivating myself in some areas. But my life has continued with enough activity to warrant a blog. I should really do one more often, but there is still no real organisation in my life despite the fact that I am packing into it as many things as I can. A pattern will become apparent as I near the end of this blog and you will understand perhaps what is really going on in the mind of Barbara Glassey. I hope you do, as I have an awful job understanding myself.
When I finished my last entry I mentioned I was having a an early retirement get together. I did have one and it was held in the Viking Garden room. There was a great buffet and I had a good time with my mates from work both past and present. A few of my old workmates turned up who had moved on from Zurich and it turned out to be a reunion of sorts as well for everyone. Some of my friends and family came as well and it was a successful evening with still quite a few having to be ushered out at kicking out time which I'm told is the ultimate barometer for measuring an event.
On the following Monday Toms Mum Nel, my friend Eileen and I set off for Dublin for Nels 82nd birthday. Nel looked like the Queen as my sister in law Rosie took us all to the airport. Luckily Nel didn't forget her Id and we were on our way quite quickly. We flew out of Ronaldsway at 10.25 and we were in the Gresham Hotel in the centre of Dublin for just after 12 and that included picking Nels sister Kathleen up on the way. Although Kathleen lives in Dublin, I thought it would be nice for both sisters to stay in the hotel together and enjoy each other's company and be waited on. I booked Nels and Kathleen's room for early occupancy so they could settle down and we all had somewhere for our cases. I'd arranged for a bottle of wine, chocolates and flowers for the birthday girl which finished off our arrival at the hotel nicely. The Gresham is a beautiful hotel of a type I have never stayed in before. Marble, wood and crystal chandeliers greeted us as we entered the massive reception area. The staff all seemed handpicked for having wonderful Irish hospitality and in the few days we stayed there, I never saw a glum face amongst any of them. That in itself was worth the stay. The rooms were massive with Double and single beds, easy chairs, coffee table, desk, TV with a keyboard and free internet and wifi. I loved it. Eileen and I hit the shops as soon as we could and kept that pace up whilst we were there. Eileen has the ability to make me laugh until I cry. We seem to bounce off one and other somehow and we got on great as it was our first time sharing a room and being in each other's company for longer than a shopping trip or a pudding night. She was a bit unwell on the Tuesday but I maintain it was because of the amount she ate at breakfast when she saw the unbelievable selection of everything spread before her in the dining room. If she could answer, she would argue and might even mention my snoring and other noises that I made whilst asleep which she kindly said reminded her of her late husband Derek whom she misses so much, and with her eyes closed could imagine he was in the next bed. I soothed her to sleep. I've never been told that before. It was normally a gentle push to turn me on my side and a gale force wind blowing in through the window to keep the air flowing. Apparently that stopped me! Anyway, we had a great time and I burst the seams of my case bringing back my wares.
The Saturday after we got back, I decided to do another first. Castletown Band were playing in Castletown Square for the switching on the lights. I decided I would take my cornet along and make that first step to playing with the band again. Every time I thought about going to the band room for a practice, I felt anxiety at being there after these years and breaking down. I thought turning up casually in the dark and just playing along would be much better and so I did. I felt very emotional to be honest and every time anyone spoke to me, my throat tightened and tears filled my eyes. Quite why I felt like that I can only reason as to the last time I played with them, Tom was very much alive and well. All my other activities that I do now seem to be new in my life since he died with a large part of me being involved with the church. Anyway once the playing started I was ok. It was an awful night with the rain coming down in buckets and members of the band making jokes about the blue flash that would make its way towards us when the lights were switched on. Thankfully it didn't. The band were lucky enough to have a temporary cover, but the unfortunate public got a drubbing. One thing that gave me a lift in my spirits at the end of the evening was the sight of a couple who had been waving to me. Norma the Vicar who buried Tom and her husband David had come along to support me on the night. They stood there dripping and smiling at me and it didn't half give me a lift to think that someone would come and do that for me.
The next week was taken up with me worrying about Suzie the cocker spaniel and her impending operation. I had spoken to the vet after the results had become known to them and we agreed that an operation would take place, sooner rather than later. With lumps in both mammary, I had it explained to me that it was a very large operation and I could phase it or do it in one go. If I phased it, the spaying would be first and the mammary's later. The vet had already said he needed and x-ray to check if her lungs were ok as there would be no point operating otherwise. That left me in no doubt about the seriousness and haste was what was needed. I had to go for the full operation. She had an chest x-ray when she had her heart scan and so there was no need for another one and the results showed she was clear. The operation was going to be adlib due to her heart condition with spaying being the 1st. If she appeared strong enough the left mammary and then dependent on her state, her right mammary. I took her to the vets on the Thursday morning and she clung onto me for dear life. My heart went out to her but it had to be done. I left her and went to do a grocery shop to take my mind off it. Karron had offered to do my birds for me and so I was in no rush to get home. After I did the shopping I called at a garage on the way home. I have decided I can't just manage with a motor home as an only vehicle. Nice idea, but not practical and I wondered how on earth I was going to carry Suzie up the steps when it was time to get her. I've always been impulsive and so was Tom, but when we were together we discussed things before we did it and quite often we'd suddenly realise the cons in our scheme and laugh at what we'd nearly done. We could just as quickly talk ourselves back into it again and we were intent, but that has gone now. I don't think things through and even if I did, I would listen to Tom, I don't listen to me. Enough waffling, I bought a car on the way home for the Nissan garage. I wanted it to be less than £3000, low mileage and it was to be for the dogs and shopping. I bought a 2004 Kia Rio with 23,000 miles on the clock and got it down from £3500 to £2900. I gave up the £300 warranty for that and reasoned that it had a full service and had only done 3000 miles since its last service. It's a smart car and does the job. Suzie came through all her ops and stayed at the vets for a few days so they could monitor her, give her morphine and she had drain tubes in her.
From the day of the op my spirits have gone down quite dramatically. I think it was the stress of putting Suzie through all the op that was the trigger. Who knows. All I do know is that this is the month that for the previous 2 years has been the most anxious and unbelievably stressful of Tom and my married life. Waiting for scans and results the 1st year. 6 weeks of waiting through Christmas and the new year to find out what the problem was if it wasn't pneumonia and all the time trying to banish the ultimate word out of our minds. Hoping that a life wasn't going to be lost through negligence or endless waiting. Do you know that if you are an animal it is lightening fast getting an animal sorted. Someone said that's because we pay vets privately. Tom would have reasoned it all out to me. Now I just spout what I think without putting too much thought into the process. Last year we had the result that Toms cancer was back before Christmas. We saw the specialist on the Thursday, got a CT Scan on the Friday and then hoped chemo would start straight away, but another long seasonal holiday ensued. Why wasn't there haste my mind screamed. Let's get it started and Tom just waited again. Of course there was no haste as they knew that the cancer was bad and although chemo did start again in January, the cancer had already gone out of control. At least we had hope for a short while. So now I cry, but not for me but for all the people who are going through it at this time. Those who are waiting for results, those who are waiting for treatment to start and basically for anyone who feels that they are on their own in a dire position. I have been there and my heart aches for them all. So yes, my tears fall and I say it's not for me, but perhaps there is a touch of transference here and that my own loss now is what is really behind it all. I don't know myself. I don't know if you have experienced depression, but when the low comes like this it is very hard to function normally. Everything takes so much longer to do. It is easy to forget to eat and drink. Sleep is either to much or not enough. Well enough of that for now. That is just where I am at this moment and like Tom used to do, I have to be honest in what I am experiencing. I have seen the doctor and she amongst others have suggested I paint. I can't as the motivation is just not there. I have been put on steroids due to my eczema being so bad and my hands so cracked and painful, so that is why I'm blogging in the middle of the night again. They stop me sleeping. Now back to more cheerful things.
I brought Suzie home from the vets last Saturday and although she was very sore at first and needed lots of TLC she has bounced back like a little trooper. She's raring to go now, but she is full of stitches and so I have to be very careful. At least it is over and hopefully she will be well. Another lump was found in her uterus and I have asked for it all analysed so I will know whether I have to be vigilant.
Yesterday I had to go to the dentist again as I have an chronic abscess. I know, there's no end to it is there sometimes, except when its chronic it isn't painful but they can turn acute. I thought with Christmas coming up and on steroids which lowers resistance, I'd better get it sorted so I took my chief cheerer upper Eileen with me and went and had a root canal. The dentist was convinced that I was in for a few torrid days after the treatment he has done but said it should settle down. Anyway all is well, so it's not all bad.
Today I am having my Marks and Spencer's furniture delivered that I bought a couple of months back and tomorrow I am having new carpet laid on the stairs and spare bedroom. My mum is coming to stay with me a week today and so I want it all nice for her.
I haven't been able to motivate myself to send out Christmas cards and have put a greeting in the local newspapers for 2 weeks from both Nel and I wishing everyone every blessing for Christmas and the New Year. We will make a donation to the hospice. I never did say how much was raised when Tom died in lieu of flowers. It was just over £1400 and that was without the retiring collection at the church. So thank you everybody that made a donation.
For those living off Island that I haven't been in touch with I will give you a ring if I know your number.
It must be long this as I started at 5 this morning and its gone 7 now.
This is Barbara on the Silverburn River wishing you all every blessing for Christmas and the New year if I don't blog again beforehand. God Bless.
Photos below - ist 2 are me at my retirement do minus glasses.
Nel raising a glass. Nel and Kathleen her sister. Under the Christmas tree with Nel, Kathleen, Eileen and Kathleens son and daughter in law.
Kathleen posing under a chandelier
After admission to Nobles and air ambulance transfer to Walton neurological centre on two occasions with ten days, the second under life threatening circumstance, Paul has made a very quick and seemingly full recovery from his three cerebral haemorrhages and two seizures.
I spent the weekend with him. He has had visits from lots of friends and family
He has asked me to thank all of the people who have asked about him, thought about him and prayed about him. I too have had messages of support. Thank you.
He still cannot recall the events leading to admission or 48 hours after that. But otherwise historic and short term memory are good. He has fully recovered the use of left arm and leg and is having the 50 staples taken out of his head wound today. He is fully oriented as to date time and place and has told countless nurses and physics who is the queen of England
He has been in 4 wards at Walton in 12 days and has managed to get on well with nurses until yesterday when he went to have breakfast with his mate Tommy and did not book in and out properly. I tried to discuss discharge arrangements only to be told they were worried about his “non compliance” I grinned and asked did they mean he wouldn’t do what he was told wand made their ward look untidy, Yes was the reply, evidence of full recovery to all who know him, but of concern to the nursing staff who don’t
He will be discharged this week, not sure when, Wednesday or Thursday possibly and definitely by Friday. He has tickets to a concert on Saturday and wants to do Christmas shopping. I will tie it in with a trip over with a car so he does not have to bounce back and fro on the boats. We will be back here on 16th
There is one last thing, due to the large hole in his skull he will have to go back for a titanium plate to be fitted, that will be in new year
I suspect years of fun going through airports and setting off the alarm and then announcing he has a dinner plate in his head in pidgin whatever language is appropriate for where we are
I spent all yesterday with Paul
He has been moved from ITU to a high dependency ward.
He should move on to an ordinary ward Friday or Monday when they stop the blood pressure drugs
He is tired, but cheerful, fully compos mentis, and quickly recovering movement on the left. (he can lift and keep both left arm and leg in air for 30 seconds)
His speech is unaffected.
He is hooked up to all sorts of monitors and on drip lines for drugs and fluids. He is eating normally. His head swelling has gone down although he has a nice zipper line of staples on the right side of his skull. He is on nicotine patches and say he has no desire for ciggies
He now has clothes and his iPod and computer (but not on WiFi in this ward so no e-mails yet)
He is receiving lots of visits from family and friends and would welcome seeing anyone passing by Walton Centre in Fazackerley
I go back Friday for the week end and then I am booked over for the whole of the weekend after that. His brother Sean has been over for a week now, which is much appreciated
Paul has started keeping a memory book so cards and messages will be saved
Walton Centre Lower lane Liverpool L9 7LJ 0151 525 3611
not very eloquent, I know
I have commented upon my partners drinking and its effects on me and us from time to time
My last visit to Spain was railroaded by a drunken weekend so i went alone, nothing memorable apart from 36 hours storm tossed in the Bay of Biscay and I will post about that another time.
The Farm is finished, I have paid rates and I have a permanent electricity connection. The booking web site is in beta phase and we are nearly all go
The drinking got really out of hand when he started to fall over, down the stairs etc.
On 13 November he had a headache which stopped him moving, put down to drink by us both. Over the week end my attempts to get him to hospital failed, by stubborn refusal. Monday morning I called out the Doctor, I was frightened that light phobia and long standing headache might be meningitis. Within half an hour he was having MRI at Nobles and was flown to Walton with a brain hemorrhage.
Released on 20th he was still not well and I watched with concern as he struggled to get up, eat etc. He seemed to be deteriorating but again refused the Dr. This Wednesday I was so worried I tried to get him to go to hospital, Refusal.
I then discovered one of his mates had smuggled in a case of lager and bottles of wine and he had been drinking and not taking all his pills.
Yesterday we spoke at 07.00 but by 10.30 he was unconscious unwakeable and foaming at mouth. Ambulance called and he was once more in Nobles, another scan, much larger bleed and clot, life threatening, and then in air ambulance to Walton.
A three hour operation early hours today removed that clot, but instead of coming round he has had another bleed and is now on clot three removal
His adoptive mother has taken over as next of kin, I'm out of the loop. His family history is complex so when I have had information I have passed it on to others who care/have links. His adoptive father, who left the family when he was three , had a right to know. Mum in law refused/ His natural mother and brothers and sisters, who he traced and then fell out with over his drinking also should be told.
Dad was easy, sister less so. However i tracked her down only to be told his natural mother had died 4 years ago and they had thought it best not to tell him. Searching down to www.192.com
Life is shit today
I just wanted to get it off my chest
I can't think of a suitable title so yes, I have used Toms naming convention. I have had to try and make time for myself to do this blog again. I still seem to be running around quite a lot and not spending much quiet time at home, except in the evening and by then I am quite tired and its Orry time. That isn't a good time to be bashing away on a computer keyboard as I could lose most of the keys in seconds. He is very quick to nick a key and it sometimes takes an age to clip it back on. My return key is hanging on by a thread at the moment as I gave up trying to put it back properly.
The family get togethers have found another lovely Sunday lunch venue at the Old Courthouse in Douglas. We went a week last Sunday and everyone loved their extremely generous and beautifully cooked dinners. When I say generous, that isn't an exaggeration. The chicken dinner had a full half of chicken. We didn't realise that actual meals were served and thought there were just bar snacks, but there is a lovely restaurant and the staff were attentive and charming. So if you fancy a bit of a change on a Sunday, it is well worth the £12.95 that we paid.
Last Sunday I decided to cook dinner myself and so I cooked a joint of pork the night before and was going to take my time preparing it all on Sunday morning. My friend Anne phoned to see if we should go walking on the Sunday morning and as we hadn't been for a while with the bad weather, we decided we would give it a try even if it was a gale force wind. After all, the dogs would still need walking. It was blowing an absolute hooly so we thought we'd walk to the end of Castletown beach and back, being blown into each other as we went. By the time we made it to the end of the beach we thought we'd walk a little further and the more we walked, the more we wanted to walk. Our eyes watered, ears stung and we forced our way through the gale, imagining the calories we would be burning with the sheer effort of forcing ourselves through the weather. The sea was mountainous, the dogs loved it and we felt totally exhilarated. There weren't many birds about for obvious reasons and we couldn't hear anything but the wind. We walked around Langness and eventually back to the beach. If we felt exhilarated, the couple of guys who were kite sailing (if that is the right terminology) must have felt on cloud 9. The wind blew them from one end of the beach to the other at an unbelievable speed, with massive waves smashing into them as they went. Sometimes they appeared to be tossed in the air and somersaulted back down into the foaming sea. It was a great sight to watch and that is as far as I would like to go with that one. Anyway, by the time I got home, I hadn't left myself enough time to do lunch and was stressing. Then I thought, "Why put yourself though this" and I promptly phoned the Flying Club and booked is in for dinner there. I didn't know if we would manage to get through Shore Road to Derbyhaven as the tide was coming in, but we managed it and by the time we'd had lunch and relaxed in the nice friendly atmosphere in front of the coal fire, the tide was on its way out again.
This week has been pretty stressful with animals and people. It started on Monday morning with me catching a hen that had looked depressed for a few days but resisted all attempts to examine her. Yes, hens do get depressed and when you know hens, you can spot a depressed one. Basically it is when a hen is not well but like all birds they do everything they can not to show they are ill as the other birds will pick on them. If they appear very ill, it is often the case that the flock will turn on them and kill them if they can. So by the time you notice a bird sick, it is often very sick. In the case of the hen, it was crop bound and so the food it had eaten for a few days had stuck in its crop. It will starve to death if it isn’t cleared and it can be difficult to shift. I have had to put Liquid paraffin and hot water with a syringe into the crop and keep massaging it to try and clear whatever is blocking it. I'm still not sure if I've one the battle yet and it has been some days. I am also having my carport roof lifted to accommodate the motor home. Graham, who is doing it, nearly took his thumb off on Monday afternoon and we spent from 1.30 until 6.30 in A & E. It was thought at first that he's cut through the tendon, but luckily it was just the muscle. It was a very serious cut and my home looked like there'd been a massacre.
Tuesday morning I took Suzie to the Onchan vet who it the heart specialist over here. I had to leave her whilst she had a heart scan and x-rays. Toms mum Nell also wanted me to take her to A & E as her hand looked inflamed where she had stitches the previous week to remove a suspect growth on the skin. She is diabetic and I was concerned that the wound was getting infected. I Picked Suzie up at 2.30 pm and then took Nell to A & E. We arrived just after 3 and she was seen at 3.30. The male nurse confirmed that her hand was infected and he said it was because the stitches were in too long. He informed Nell that a doctor would have to take the stitches out but she'd have to wait a couple of hours. It was 6.45 by the time she was seen and she was told it was all fine and to be expected. I couldn't believe I'd spent another afternoon in A & E and in this case, it was all for naught. I felt I'd seen enough of Nobles and vowed it would be some time before I offered to go there again for quite some time.
The vet phoned me over Suzie and she is close to congestive heart failure. Apparently its common in Cocker Spaniels and for the moment we don't do anything. With animals they treat the symptoms as they happen. Anyway, we will meet each thing as it comes along and for now she is having a wonderful time and appears to be as fit as a butchers dog as long as its daylight. She is totally blind in the dark and so at this time of the year I have to make sure she is walked before nightfall.
Wednesday morning I received a phone call from my friend Eileen. Eileen is coming to Dublin with us next week when we go over for Nels (Toms Mum) 82nd birthday. She chatted for a bit about Euros and then she said "You haven't forgotten bout Friday morning have you?" A deathly silence ensued as I hadn't a clue what on earth I'd promised. There was no point in trying fib, as she sussed me straight away. "Errm, to be honest, yes." "You said you'd take me to the hospital for my checkup." I stood there stunned at just how quick my vow was broken and my mind flicked to the other people I'd also promised coffee with. "You're busy aren't you?" she asked. "Don't be daft, of course not. I'll have you there on time, don't worry." So that’s that. My memory is rubbish and I have to check my iphone diary everyday. Obviously I forgot to put that one in!
Friday evening I am having a sort of belated goodbye get together for my friends at Zurich. I've also invited quite a few friends around and am calling it my early retirement do. I think there are about 40 or so coming to the garden room at the Viking and I have a hot and cold buffet for everyone. It will be nice to meet up with everyone and say goodbye to them after my years of working with them and introduce workmates to friends and Tom’s family. I wouldn't mind, but I'm already browsing the jobs column in the newspaper in case anything interesting comes up. I like people and animals and would love to look after either. My programming days are over. I want to do something to help and make a difference somewhere.
Today is the calmest day we've had for a while. Its only strong wind today and that’s great. I will have to go and look after my menagerie now and I will leave you some pictures of Sundays walk.
This is Barbara on the wind and rain swept banks of the Silverburn River.
Life still continues to be one of continual challenges, albeit brought on by myself. Just after my last blog I decided to have a gathering. Toms friend Tony has sisters living in Manchester and every time they came on holiday to the Island, we always put on a buffet and invited friends around. I did this a week last Saturday for Tony's sister Joyce and her partner. I was very nervous to be honest and I wasn't sure how I would stand up to having friends around without Tom here. I was determined that I wanted to do it as I wanted to bring everyone together for the first time since Toms funeral and try to carry on as I would if Tom was with me. The morning of the buffet I had a strange happening in the house in the morning. I had been feeding the ducks and geese on the river and when I came into the house, it became apparent that a bird had been in the house. I cleaned up a few spots here and there and as I went upstairs I had another little deposit left on the window on the landing. I began to wonder if the bird had actually left the house or had it gone further up the stairs and if so, where was it. It didn't take me long to find out but it was a shock to pop my head into Toms Office only to find a male blackbird sitting in a cage I use to take Orry camping. It sat there as still as anything and we just eyeballed each other. It didn't stress or anything. Eventually he went out when I opened the bedroom window and at some point in the day, it flew off. I'm finding amazing the amount of wild birds I have encountered over the past few months that have entered my life and just seem to have been quite chilled about our encounter. Don't get me wrong, I don't think for one moment any of them are Tom reincarnated, but it does sometimes seem as though he sends me comforting little visitors to let me know he's with me in spirit. Possibly its wishful thinking and Tom said before he died that if ever I ever wondered if something happened and wondered if it was him, that I would know for sure if it was him. For now my mind just knows what he would say in certain situations and they pop into my head. Anyway, back to the buffet. It turned out very well and at one point there was over 25 people in the house. I laughed and I cried. How could I not? I asked his friends as they were going if they felt it hard when they sat in the same room as they did when Tom was here and they reminisced. All said that they didn't feel that Tom wasn't there and it felt like he was with them. They were all very happy and said that Toms presence was felt keenly and he was close to me even if I didn't feel it now. That made me cry good style.
I picked the new motor home up on Friday night and it's lovely. I haven't had time to kit it out or go anywhere in it at the moment as I have been very busy with all sorts. Toms mum was taken to hospital on Tuesday evening and she's had another bad do with a chest infection. I have had her at the doctors for the past few weeks due to a chest infection and I've tried so hard to keep her well, even so she still got very ill. I want her fit for the end of this month for our trip to Dublin. I know she'll love staying in the Gresham and seeing her sister.
If that wasn't enough I also offered my services to the Church in Port Erin to play the Last Post for them today. As I haven't played a cornet for over 3 years and hadn't felt emotionally able to join a band again, I certainly put myself in a challenging position. So it was agreed that I played at St.Catherines morning service today. I also had another request for me to play at Malew Church this afternoon. I didn't know how I would feel with that as I have only been in the church twice. Once for Toms father's funeral and then for Toms funeral. Anyway I practiced quite a bit yesterday on a cornet I bought 2 years ago when my chest was very bad and I thought it was because I wasn't playing in a brass band anymore and I thought my lungs may have needed the exercise. It turned out that I had chronic asthma which went eventually and I hardly touched the cornet. As I was adjusting my poppy and was about to leave this morning, I could hear Toms voice reassuring me that it would be fine. I always got nervous when I was playing solo's and Tom would always give me a little hug and reassure me. He was really proud of my cornet playing. Anyway I did the Last Post this morning and it was ok. It gave me the confidence to tackle my next task of playing at Malew Church. I sat in the gallery and had to wait until almost the end of the service before I played. I didn't hang around afterwards when everyone else stayed for refreshments. I had held my nerve and I wasn't going to tempt fate any longer. As I went outside, instead of heading for the motor home, I walked across the road and stood at Toms grave. The tears flowed and I couldn't tell you whether it was because I had been quite worked up and it was now over, or because Tom wasn't with me. Probably it was a combination of the two. As I stood there sobbing with my cornet under my arm, a line of a eulogy that Tom wrote sprung into my mind, "Tis only bones before you lie." That pulled me together and I headed home.
I had been out all day and I needed to have a walk to wind down and I decided it was time to introduce Suzie and Skipper to our new vehicle. I drove to Langness and it was a cold, but absolutely beautiful evening. The sun was going down and as I drove through past the golf links, the reflections in the water pools, contrasting with the sky was impossible to ignore. I stopped to take a couple of pictures and a male pheasant flew across the front of the vehicle, his silhouette standing out against the evening sky. The dogs and I were on our own for the walk, apart from the wildlife in the area. The birds were looking for nesting places, evident by the agitated territorial cries coming from them. A curlews mellow call carried on the night air along with a herons aggressive kraarck. I could hear the sea lazily lapping onto the rocks below and even a snort from a seal cut through the peaceful night. Again, my thoughts turned to Tom and how he would have loved the sounds and smells this evening. The Chickens Rock lighthouse seemed to wink off the coast of the Island and all around the lights of Castletown and across the bays to Port St.Mary, the lights shone like tiny fairy lights. Even the airport looks pretty at night time. Suzie kept close to my legs on the way back as the light had gone altogether and she is blind in the dark. I did daydream about getting her one of those lamps that joggers can buy which they put on their heads and can see where they are going without having to hold a torch. I thought I would get one and put it round her neck when it goes day and we walk. It might be a totally nutty idea which may not work and then again it could be just the job.
On the animal front, Gerty the goose is doing ok in the garden and rules the hens. of the new hens I got, the 3 light Sussex that were a year old are fine, but the 3 pullets who are 30 weeks old have suffered badly with the very wet weather. They started sneezing last week and 1 in particular became very poorly coughing. I have her and another on antibiotics and she does seem to be responding. It hasn't spread to the older ones and so it must be that the young ones have a very low immune system. I have to be very careful and change my clothes and shower when I've had contact with them so I don't pass it on to Orry or the aviary birds.
I have added a couple of pictures. There is the blackbird on Toms braille keyboard and Tony's sister Joyce with a very happy Orry on her shoulder.
This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn, wondering what my next challenge will be.
To everyone who keeps uptodate with my blog I have to apologise for the erratic entries you have been getting of late. I'm afraid it is still down to the same old thing - the grieving process and how I am handling it. Just when I feel I have weathered the worst and feel I am starting to get on with things, back it comes to slap me down. In my last blog I told how October was the month Tom and I started going out together. It was also a month we came to love. A lot of people feel depressed when the clocks go back and the bad weather comes. Tom and I loved all the seasons and the clocks going back spelled a time of cosying up and feeling secure with each other, loving the fact that we were safe, warm and together whatever the weather threw at us. It was a magic feeling and this has caused me some anguish this year. The mist that lies on the fields in the Autumn brought back my first memory of Tom taking me up the Silverburn River. The mist was low on the field and it was beautiful. I took a picture of him which I still have and it was so atmospheric. All these memories are lovely but also agony when I no longer have Tom with me. October was also the month I eventually persuaded Tom to go to the doctors when he was getting short of breath. He insisted on stopping smoking before he went and all that caused a delay, I don't think with hindsight that the outcome would have been any different with the type of cancer he had. So there you have it, I have been having and I still am, a bit of a weepy time and have been busy trying to lift myself with alsorts of impulsive things which work in the short term and along comes the tears again.
Not long after my last blog I felt I was getting more depressed as the week went by and on the Friday I decided I would try and nip over to Blackpool to see my brother John and his wife Helen who were in Blackpool on business. They live in Germany and I hadn't seen them since my Step Fathers funeral 2 1/2 years ago. They are both in the army and John is now a Major. Anyway he said he could see me on the Friday night and Saturday and then he would be travelling back to Germany. In half an hour I had booked a plane, a hotel room, arranged for Karron to look after my animals and cancelled any appointments I had for the next 2 days. I flew out on the tiniest plane I have ever been on and returned the next evening. Everyone knows my fear of flying but a strange thing has happened since I have lost Tom. I seem to have lost my fear of most things, flying, wasps etc. I don't know whether thats because it all pales into insignificance or that I'm not bothered about things without Tom. Actually I'm not being totally honest on that score. On the flight out I prayed all the way up and kept my eyes tightly closed. I relaxed for a little and then the same praying and eyes tightly closed scenario followed the descent and landing. I felt quite pleased with myself that I had done it. I had a good time whilst I was with John and Helen and we spent Saturday at an outlet centre in Fleetwood and had lunch sitting beside the marina. The trip back was little bit different than the flight out. For one thing, Blackpool airport was all but shut down with everything closed and notices up saying the Check-in desks would open at 7. Sure enough they did and whilst I had no opportunity to have a cuppa whilst I was waiting, that was rectified after check-in when I was told to go into the executivr lounge. There before me was every drink under the sun but my eyes looked no further than the vodka on an optic. Once I had checked that it was ok to help myself I got myself a vodka. A happy chap leaned over me and said "Have a double love, yer not paying!" I didn't need telling twice. A double it was and a can of coke. I knocked it back in time to get onboard the plane and I have to say my return trip was much more relaxed as I watched the Blackpool illuminations, the little boats at sea and eventually the lights of the different towns on the Island. So hopefully I have truley got over my flying fear and I am sorry it hasn't happened whilst Tom was alive.
I have more or less bought another camper which I pick up a week on Friday. I decided on upgrading the camper when I realised I would be sleeping out and my present camper wasn't bought with sleeping out in mind. It was purely for Tom and I to spend days out with the Skipper and have a little relaxation at the same time. Now I have 2 dogs and also like to take Orry with me and so a bigger camper was needed for the sake of comfort. Its gorgeous and I have put pictures on to show you it. It is 3 years older than my existing one and its only costing a few thousand to upgrade.
I have also booked a few days in Dublin at the end of November for Toms mothers birthday. She will be 82 and is Irish. I thought it would be nice to take her to Ireland so she could spend some time with her sister and I have booked the Gresham hotel. My friend Eileen is coming as well so we can have a mooch around the shops whilst Nel and Kathleen spend a more sedentry time together. Eileen has never been to Ireland, Nel wouldn't be able to travel alone and I will be going to Ireland for the first time without Tom and need to do things for the first time. Needless to say, we are all excited and looking forward to it, though I don't think Eileen will be too chuffed after spending a couple on nights in a twin room with my snoring.
Yesterday I went to Marksies to buy some new furniture for the conservatory. I still use it as my relaxing room and the front room still remains Toms room complete with models and bar. I find Toms room the most peaceful in the house and I couldnt change anything about it. Pauline has just called and we are going to have a bit lunch and then look for some new stair carpet.
If you're wondering why I'm spending so much at the moment, it's a case of getting everything done, paying off the mortgage and any outstanding loans etc before deciding where to invest what is left from my pension payout.
5 hours Later
Well, we only got as far as having a bit of lunch and doing a bit of shopping in Castletown. I felt more like enjoying the Autumn sunshine with the dogs than picking carpet. Even that was delayed as I realised that Quilliam the cockerel needed his dressing changing on his footwhich he has due to bumble foot. I try to keep it clean and it is notoriously difficult to cure, but I have managed it before with a hen although it took 6 months. The good thing is that once the cockerel is caught, if he is laid on his back you can do whatever you want as long as you don't hurt him. He lies as good as gold and very still. Once Quilliam was sorted the dogs and I walked up the river whilst I collected grass for Gertie the goose off the river and seed heads for the aviary. Gertie is coming along fine and knows where everything is in the garden. The Gander of the same breed which is still on the river is having a bit of a problem with balance on land. I mentioned it to a friend at the vets today just in passing and she told me that lead from the fishermen can cause it in the river birds. Unfortunately once has bird has been affected, the damage is permanent. For the moment he is managing very well and comes to the fence and has a chat to his girlfriend each day. He does have another mate on the river, so he is still very happy.
Last Saturday about 6 of us went to a pudding tasting night at the Ballasalla Church hall which was held to raise funds for work in the Catholic church in Castletown. The hall was packed and we had 45 puddings to try and taste. I only managed 8 as I have a hiatus hernia and I daren't really eat late. I wish the tastings were held at midday and I could really get stuck in. I was impressed how the Ballasalla Church went out of their way to help another church of a different persuasion in a different town. I loved the Churches working together like that with nothing but Christian charity being meted out in good measure.
The Ballasalla Church often have something going on like the French night the other week. I think the pantomime Character night in December will be good, but I don't know if I have the bottle to dress up like one. I'm sure Eileen will badger me to do something mad.
I was asked to become a commitee member of the Friends of the MSPCA who are presently busy raising funds for an indoor exercise building at the MSPCA. It will also be used for dog training with the the animal behaviourist and it is envisaged that it may be used and opened up for other things. Some of the committee members have a permanent stall at the Milan Vetinary Clinic in Castletown. I have just managed to get a whole load of £1 coin token keyrings with different designs for them to sell towards the fund raising and I have also handed over some Cd's of Tom reading his monologue "Home" with the background tune of Ellan Vannin. It is special for those who love the Island and Tom captures his love of the Island and why in the words that he wrote. Unfortunately I am also on the CD and Tom would kill me for saying that, but I dont't think I do the song justice. I felt that the one I sung which again Tom wrote the words of, should have been sung by a man. Anyway it was something we did together and we had fun doing it as we did wwith everything we undertook.
Anyway, it is time to call a halt to this blog for now. This is Barbara on the most beautiful banks of the Silverburn River, busy, sad, happy, fundraising and missing Tom oh so much.
Yes, it has actually come to me earlier than I had Originally intended, but I have now taken early retirement. People ask me how do I feel and I would have to say that I'm not sorry to be saying goodbye to that area of my life. I'm actually trying hard to stop smiling like a Cheshire cat. I started work at 15 and until Tom became sick, I have been employed in all that time. The sad part of retirement is that Tom and I spoke about it almost on a daily basis. When we retire we will go to America on the Mississippi, we will do what we want when we want etc etc. Now I have no Tom to share it with and it’s sad. We did however try to treat his period of illness as a sort of retirement period and acted as if it had actually happened, except we couldn't go away due to his illness and treatment. He always said 'next year when I'm free of cancer' and my heart would ache as I knew there wouldn't be another year and had to keep him positive. Anyway, I now don't have to worry about leaving the animals to go off to work and getting Karron in to see to things I may not have time for. I don't have to worry whether I will manage to cope with programming and the stresses that ensue when a problem has to be fixed ASAP. Now I just have to live without Tom.
It hasn't been a lonely time for me, in fact if anything it is unbelievably busy. I have so many friends I am having a job to accommodate everyone, but I'm managing. It is better to be like that though than lonely. I have started to take an interest in things about me again and I have been spending time with my aviary birds. Yesterday I had them clambering all over me yesterday for attention. My new 6 hens have settled in and there wasn't any fighting between my old girls and the new. One of the new hens follows me everywhere and I have named her TillyMint after my favourite that I got in my very first batch of hens that were originally battery hens. They are laying well and all who have called in the past fortnight have been promised eggs, so they better not let up for a while.
Yesterday I went to the cemetery with Toms mum and we took flowers. It was the anniversary of the death of her first son Kevin, which also means today is the anniversary of Tom and my first walk together. It was 19 years ago that I called at Toms house when he lived with his mum for their TV rental. I knew Tom for years due to this extra job that I had collecting TV rentals on a weekend. Tom was always waiting to say hello and most times he had a problem he wanted me to solve. Sometimes the paper was stuck in his printer, sometimes a ribbon needed changing and I'd even had to try and fix things I hadn't a clue about but always obliged. But on this particular day 19 years ago he was shaking like a leaf. I asked him how he was and he said he'd had too much to drink the night before, ended up at a party, fell asleep and unknowingly woke up and thought he was at his own home such was the extent of his inebriation. He walked outside with his guide dog and took a route he would have taken if he was at home, only as he was in Port St.Mary he ended up on the breakwater in the middle of the night with a guide dog with no harness. At that point he didn't actually know where he was and he walked off the breakwater and was saved from the sea with a bag he had on his back catching on the thing a boat is tied too. He got back up realising that he was in trouble and spent the rest of the night crawling around trying to get off the breakwater, but not daring to walk in case he went over the edge again. He did eventually get off and was found wandering up the street by a lady Tom’s mum cleaned for. She gave him a lift back to Castletown. That was one of the occasions that Tom always referred to as coming to terms with death. As a result of all that, I offered to run Tom to Port St.Mary to find his guide dog harness which I did. On the way home Tom asked me if I would like to go for a walk the next day which was Sunday, with his dog and my 2 dogs. I thought I would do my Christian act and take him out and that is how we first went out.
Tom directed me firstly to the Flying Club and then we walked to Santon Gorge. I felt self conscious holding his hand, but he didn't seem to mind and so I thought no more of it. I thought that is how everyone took him for a walk. After Santon Gorge he directed me to Fort Island and explained everything that was there. He was so knowledgeable and such great company to be in that I felt I would like to become his friend and perhaps take him out again sometime if he wanted. It had been a lovely day and I really couldn't get over how much I enjoyed his company. He had me enthralled as to how he could tell we were walking past objects like large rocks, hedges, trees etc and know they were there without being able to see. He explained that he got an echo back from the object and he could determine the size. The air dispersed around it differently as well and he was very much like the bat, able to hear them. It did not apply to humans as they were not solid enough, but most objects outside could be determined if there wasn't a strong wind blowing which would interfere with his very sensitive hearing. The next day at work I was full of it, telling everyone about how intelligent, fascinating and funny he was. I thought it might be nice to invite him to tea if he'd like to come and so I phoned his home but his mother answered. I didn't have the nerve to ask for Tom, so I just passed the time of day and went. The next day I thought about it again and again I phoned hoping he would answer. Once more his mother answered the phone and this time I asked could I speak to Tom. Tom came to the phone and I asked if he would like to come for tea to which he answered "yes." I asked him when and he answered "whenever." "Tonight" I asked and he said he'd like to and so I arranged to pick him up in Castletown at 6.30 when I finished work in Ramsey. Now all I had to do was work out what to give him as I knew I had nothing in. These days it would be easy to put a smart meal together with all the ready foods on sale, but then it was a little trickier. I had decided it would have to be something quick and with chips and as I look back now, I can't believe what I expected him to chose from and I'm even more amazed he came back for more. I bought a chicken leg and a breast, a tin or corned beef and a tin of salmon. That covered chicken, meat and fish. I picked Tom up and drove him back to St.Johns to the cottage where I lived and then gave him the options for tea. There was a long pause as he considered and then he plumped for salmon and chips. When we got to know each other better I learned that he couldn't stand chicken, only liked salmon on a sandwich and wasn't keen on tinned and as for corned beef and chips! Corned beef hash, but never with chips. We just chatted all evening and all too quickly came time for me to take him back to Castletown. We met often over the next 3 weeks until one Saturday after I had finished my television round; we went for a walk up South Barrule in a howling gale and freezing cold. When we got back to the cottage we decided he should stay the night and I would take him home the next day. This went on for a week and he only returned home to collect his clothes. It was quite a speedy courtship and then living together as neither of us had been married or lived with anyone before. All we knew was that we couldn't bear to be apart and that remained the case until the day Tom died. It was some time after we got together that I learned that all the jobs Tom lined up for me when I visited his house were mostly engineered. He said he used to try and work out how he could keep me there a little longer and all that time I hadn't a clue. All I know is that from the day we got together, my life began.
This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River living with the memory of a lifetime of love.
Just back from Spain
we now have the bolletin and the cedulla, nearly there.
Of course nothing goes smoothly, both the water and electricity have decided I need a new metre and that the electricity will need to be under grounded from the nearest sub station, 100 yards away, for which I will have to pay, water wants to re route the supply so it is in the road rather than under my garden.
We shall see how long that takes.
The place is really super, just one problem we have developed a damp problem in one downstairs corner, so builder now on that.
Trip down was difficult, Paul went on the rampage on the Bay of Biscay ferry drinking all night and refusing to get in the car on arrival. We were supposed to be sharing the driving. So I left him in Santander, he could get the boat home or catch a plane from Santander airport.
Two hours down line he called to say he had lost his wallet, robbed, and was stuck, so round I turned. He was sober by the time I picked him up, but we were 4 hours behind hand. I took him to the airport at his request bought a ticket, and then he refused to get out of the car.
Got to Barcelona arriving 6 hours late
2 nights later he was drunk overnight, with booze smuggled off the ferry, alarmingly I noticed that the psychotic behaviour is developing definite signs of schizoid problems,
Anyway we managed to have the rest of the week drink free and did all of the jobs and then flew home without incident
At Barcelona air side the only cutlery is flimsy plastic so you cannot take on board and attack aircrew and hijack the planes. The food was awful but the cutlery kept on breaking, hence the reference to George
Dad was an avid UK traveller with his motor home in the early days of the motorways, we lived near to the Preston bypass M6 the first bit of motorway to open in 1959. As we travelled thousands of miles we stopped for breakfasts or teas, a sort of special treat. dad was taken aback by the cost of the food, and he used to maintain it included the stainless steel cutlery. To our shame he built up a full collection of knives forks and spoons slowly by sneaking them out.
Forte reacted and withdrew stainless and replaced them with plastic, brought to their financial knees we were both sure, by G
Had the ghost of George been haunting Barcelona airport? A nice thought.
You wouldn't believe how many times in the last 2 weeks that I have been going to write a blog and just haven't seemed to find the time or too tired to do it. I have been doing a little sailing, socialising, walking etc and will attempt to remember the main things that have occupied me.
I have discovered yachting as opposed to motor boat sailing and have found it an entirely different experience altogether. Toms friend Michael has taken me out on his yacht the Raven which is a gaff rigged boat for those who know. I personally haven't a clue, but he told me it was to do with the type of sails/rigging. Anyway, I have to say that I have found it totally exhilarating and exciting. We were even out in a force 5 and instead of being nervous, I loved every minute of it. I wasn't nauseous as the boat dipped and rose with the waves. I felt so much a part of the sea and so natural. I did look at the empty seat beside me and felt such a longing for Tom to be next to me. Tom wasn't very fond of yachting and I puzzled over it for a short while and then decided it was because it is a much more unpredictable sail. The boat can be leaning right over and he would have to shift his body weight to the other side of the boat and along with that, the mainsail is also swung from one side to the other at times and that would be very scary for someone who couldn't see. It wouldn't be as pleasant a sail as sitting in a motor boat chugging along. In my case I am small enough for the sails to pass over my head and was able to see what was happening with the sea, sails and boat. I was on the tiller for each sail and loved the feel of moving the boat about and keeping her steady. I'll never have a yacht of my own as I am not confident enough and I am just happy to sail with experienced people. I have even given up trying to keep on top of Toms boat the Silverburn. All summer I have been relying on different people to bail it out etc and it has been a weight on my mind. This week I have handed it over to Toms brother Lenny who loves sailing and fishing and only discovered his love for the sea when Tom took him a couple of years ago. I wanted to keep the boat in the family and so it is fitting that Lenny should continue to enjoy the sea from his brothers boat.
I have been increasing my walking each week and last Sunday got up to 4 miles. It still isn't a patch on what I was doing before the Pneumonia, but I am slowly getting there. Last week Anne and I walked from King Williams college to Langness and back. It was a lovely morning and there were so many birds out. The Curlew was in full chorus and when I pointed out his call to Anne, she recognised it although she wasn't aware that it was the Curlew. I also managed to positively identify the Egret as the Little Egret. A heron challenged it and seeing the two birds together enabled me to see the Egret was so much smaller. I love to see it flying with its pure white body and wings lazily flapping overhead. Yesterday I walked a little up the Silverburn and saw a large flock of Goldfinches flying and playfully landing in and around the river. The blackberries are still on the bushes and I have to confess to not having the patience to pick them much this year. I had every intention of, but without Tom it seemed so boring and lonely. We used to go each year and take a flask with us. It's just not the same.
I've organised Christmas very early for us this year. I didn't want to be in the house cooking for just Toms mum and myself whilst we thought of our missing loved ones, so I decided we would eat out. Toms Aunty Trudi has also decided to join us as her husband Norman died in January this year. So the three of us have booked with the Flying Club for a 7 course lunch on Christmas Day. It won't totally take our minds off Tom, Dennis and Norman, but it will be an enjoyable outing for the time we are together and we will enjoy being waited on. It is a nice cosy, friendly place and so we should have a good time. We went there last Sunday for our weekly family gathering and we all agreed that we hadn't enjoyed a Sunday lunch like that for a while.
I went out last Saturday evening with my friend Eileen. She bought tickets for a French Themed evening at the Abbey Church hall. We decided to go with onions around our necks and Eileen went one better and wore the beret as well. It was a great evening and you wouldn't believe how well a church hall could be made to look like an authentic French restaurant with the vicar in evening dress showing each group to their candle lit tables. We had a starter followed by beef bourguignon which was delicious. Then came a choice of sweets followed by different French cheeses, coffee and then chocolates. People took their bottle of wine but we just had Dandelion and Burdock due to me driving and Eileen not trusting herself. It was just as well really as we laughed that much that I thought I wouldn't be able to take a breath and Eileen thought she'd popped a healing broken rib. God help us if we'd got drunk. There was entertainment on in the for of the Harmony singers. This is a mother and daughter singing duo with the most beautiful voices with which they sang all the familiar French songs, finishing with a rousing and entertaining rendition of the can, can. Our next 'do' is a pudding evening on the 24th October. So far Eileen, Elaine, Pauline and I are down to go in our group. I'll have to starve myself for a month so I can go and enjoy tasting the puddings laid out on the night.
I really should do these blogs more often as I find it hard to remember all that I was going to say when its left so long. Fluffy the moorhen never returned and I have come to the conclusion that he has need taken by a sparrow hawk or something. I have deliberately not dwelt on it as I can do nothing about it and so I can only remember the positives that came out of our little time together. He focused my mind at a very bad time for me and I learned so much about the shy little birds. He in turn lived longer than he would have done and lived like a king for that very short time, ruling all beneath him which included Orry, the dogs and anything else he felt he could boss. lady came to the house last Sunday morning and I brought her through to the conservatory to say hello to Orry. She was fascinated with all the birds I had in the aviary, the hens, Gerty the blind goose and then she spied the heron which sits on the shed roof waiting for me to feed it in the morning and at night. "Oh Barbara!" she shouted excitedly "aren't you worried at leaving him outside? Shouldn't you have him in?" I tried my best to explain that whilst he appears to be tame, he is a wild bird and no, I don't worry one bit about a 3ft 6'' heron being left outside. Having a little moorhen in the house was one thing, but a flamin' great heron is another!
Suzy is on heat again and she has driven poor Skipper mad. He is castrated and has tried his best to keep her happy but she is just too demanding and he has started to lose his rag with her now. She even started howling last night and the quicker she has a heart scan to check whether she is fit enough to be spade, the better for all of us. She managed to take off on Sunday morning on the beach and straight away found a willing dog. Anne ran the length of the beach to catch her but the deed was done. Suzy now has to have an injection to make sure she doesn't have any more pups. It's a nightmare at the moment. Hopefully she should be lessening off soon.
I'm picking up some hens tomorrow. If I mentioned them a while back, it never happened as the lady lost my telephone number and I hers. Now she has advertised again we have regained contact and my flock of 6 will be 12 tomorrow. That will mean eggs through the winter for me and my friends.
I am due to return to work next week but a plan hasn't been put into place yet. As I haven't been to work since a year last March, the firm do a gradual return to work plan. I meet with HR on Thursday for a chat and pretty soon it will happen. I haven't a clue how it will work out and I am just going to give it a try. A lot of water has gone under the bridge and I just have to see whether this is the right thing to do or not. I also see the chest specialist tomorrow and will get the results of my chest x-ray I had last week. This is to determine if I have fully recovered from the Pneumonia. I feel fine but boy can I sleep.
I am going to put a few photos on of the dogs at Langness and also the boat trip I had.
This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River busy as hell but missing her soul mate so much.
We are enjoying some lovely weather here at the moment and I for one have been making the most of it. I have spent the last week trying gradually to regain my strength and walking is one of the area's I have had to work on. On Toms Birthday I never got to the cemetery as that was the last of our very bad days which was wet and very windy. I was a little tearful that day and played a little recorder he used for messages to himself. Some people wouldn't cope with the sound of a loved ones voice who has passed on, but I find it brings him alive in a way. Although he has gone, I have something that makes me smile and warm inside, far more than a photo. Anyway, on his birthday Manx Tails came through the letter box and I was thrilled to see the piece I had written beautifully laid out with a black background, white writing, a beautiful white rose at the start of the article and a red one on next page at the end of the article. It seemed apt for it to arrive that day and I have had some lovely feedback, a plant delivered to me from someone who wanted to remember Tom that way and a card from a very old friend we used to socialise with in Ramsey that we lost touch with when we left and whose husband also died of cancer 2 years ago. The article was more or less where I was up to when I wrote it and it's amazing how things have changed in that short time. I focused a little on my long hill walks and I am barely able to walk a mile on the flat at the moment, but I am working at it. I am not able to put the article on my blog, but if anyone would like a copy I will happily email it in its raw form or if you send me your details, I could get some Manx Tails and send one to you. Obviously this is for the off Island readers who don't get Manx Tails. On Wednesday I picked Toms Mum up and we went to the cemetery with the wreath I bought. It was a beautiful day and I think it has been ever since. I took a photo of the grave which has just had grass seed sprinkled over it. I am not allowed to put a surround on the grave as they are not allowed on new graves now due to some of them falling in disarray and grass over graves are simply mowed.
As I said previously, I have been trying to improve my fitness and it is a very slow job, but I am doing more walks each day. I'm not doing longer at the moment, just a few 1 mile walks through the day. I found that I could hardly walk for the pain in my legs when I was getting to the end of a mile and it shocked me at just how much the pneumonia has played havoc with my body. I even tried to play a little on my cornet and after 3 minutes I was totally out of breath and my stomach muscles behaved like my leg muscles after a mile. I didn't even realise I used my stomach muscles to play. It just goes to show. I am oil painting and again, one hour at a time is enough due to fatigue, but the picture is gradually taking shape and I do love oils.
On the pet front it has been an interesting week. Fluffy the moorhen continued to go down to the river daily, coming back throughout the day for a nap or to torment Orry which he seemed to love to do, to such an extent that when I was getting Orry out of his cage the other day, Fluffy was on top of the cage and bending over the door attempting to give Orry a peck on the head as he came out. It has been like watching siblings trying to get the better of the other with neither attempting to hurt the other. It was all very amusing. Fluffy always went to bed upstairs in Toms office on a top shelf and stayed there until the morning when he would come into me for a little stoke and to let me know, along with the dogs, that it was breakfast time and I was to get up. When the animals decide I've slept long enough, there is no ignoring them. They use team work to keep the onslaught going.
Autumn is with us now and the leaves are dropping from the trees. It is a time when the countryside takes on different shades of yellow, gold and brown and can look beautiful. As I walked along the river yesterday, blackberries were everywhere and I've decided I'm going to have a bash at winemaking this year. My heart isn't into jam which I normally make lots of, but I'm not feeling very homely in that way. It was for Tom, even if I did give loads away, but I'm not up for it now. There are lots of butterflies and I noticed a few swifts still about. Yesterday I walked through the fields and gathered late dandelions for the aviary and some lush chickweed. I feed freshly picked greens and seeds to the birds as often as I can and Gerty the goose wanders around the garden everyday with her beak to the ground looking for grass and such which I also gather for her. Michael took me and a couple of friends down to the Sugarloaf Rock one afternoon and although I'd been warned, I didn't half get a shock when that beautiful big rock normally covered in birds, had one lonely gull standing on it and it was so quiet. All the babies have fledged and gone. Sean and Wendy will be interested to hear that, especially as they got so many wonderful pictures when they were over last.
I can't think of anything else that has happened in the last week as my mind is taken up at the moment with the disappearance of Fluffy the moorhen on Sunday afternoon. I had been out to lunch with the family as usual on a Sunday and arrived home around 2.45. Fluffy was in the house asleep and when I came in everyone was happy to see me including Fluffy who proceeded to compete with the dogs for my affection and followed me upstairs whilst I got changed. After that he went out to the river as normal and I fell asleep in a chair. I never saw Fluffy again. He didn't come back that night and that is when I knew for sure things where not right. He always came home at dusk no matter what as he had his own little habits. All suggestions that he has met up with another moorhen or just gone wandering are quickly dismissed as he wasn't ready and was top of the pecking order in the house and liked his own routine. As a consequence I have been doing the 1 mile walks often in a day and I have covered the river to the waterfall, down to the harbour, to the west and east and no sign. I've checked the sparrow hawks plucking trees which only have pigeon feathers, neighbours gardens and there is no sign. I like to think as Karron suggested, that he has somehow got in someone’s car and was carried off and eventually when the stowaway was found, released. He's a canny bird and knows how to look after himself, though he has no fear of humans like normal moorhens and will engage in play fighting if they take him on. He doesn't hurt though as the moorhen beak has no power as such and he is just very amusing. Obviously I am still wondering what happened to him and will for some time. I am though looking at the positives as I really don't want to dwell on the negatives at all. It’s been too bad a year for that and there are lots of positives out of my time with the little moorhen. He came to me as a tiny day old having been snatched by a seagull and then dropped. My neighbour Tom brought him to me at a time when I was grieving badly for my Tom and I had to make a decision whether I was going to continue trying to look after a baby bird or pass it on to the MSPCA. In looking after Fluffy, my mind had to focus on the needs of the baby which required feeding every hour with a small artist’s paintbrush. I had something else to look after and I have so enjoyed watching the little thing develop and also get to know the instincts of a moorhen. Although Fluffy was domesticated in a way, he was wild at heart with a lot of character. It was great to see the character develop and have a relationship like that. He gave me joy and also to everyone who came into contact with him. In return he lived like a king and a lot longer than he would have done if the seagull had recovered his dropped meal. If in the meantime anyone comes across a cocky little moorhen with a bald patch on his head, do let me know as I would love to know he was safe.
Anyway, this is yet another middle of the night blog and once more an apology for not emailing people. I haven't had my laptop switched on since I blogged last week, taken up as I have been with other things. I have found reading to be therapeutic and have been doing more of it. It relaxes me and my mind does not dwell on things the same. I will close now folks.
This is Barbara on the Silverburn River looking for a little moorhen that answers to the name of Fluffy.
p.s. My nieghbours Tom & Dee reported seeing a lone moorhen in the quarry water at Scarlett. I asked him did it have a bald head and he said he didn't know as it was too far away. He added that it got a little awkward as there were people about and he was stood t the edge of the water shouting Fluffy.
I still can't help laughing at the thought of it. I did go to Scarlett with Karron and the dogs this afternoon but the moorhen is an adult and not Fluffy. Having said that, the moorhen got there so they must have a decent range of flight. You never know, he could be out there somewhere!