Thursday, 8 October 2015

Second Chance?

I feel it's about time that I wrote a post. I've been apathetic enough since Harry died.
You might have read about the wonderful send off that Harry had at his funeral on my brother Eddie's blog. He described everything in such detail that I really don't need to add to it except to say that it was a very happy occasion when all the grandchildren contributed in some way or other by a reading or playing an instrument. Everyone wore colourful clothes and he had all his favourite hymns, readings etc. 
There was very much an atmosphere that he'd been set free and had moved on to something much better. That is what we all believe.

However, I had my own secret torment going on because a few weeks before Harry died, I was beginning to experience some worrying symptoms and had got in touch with the Oncologist that had seen me through such a lot of treatment before. They took it quite seriously and thought I might well be relapsing into an other episode of cancer. An urgent CT scan was arranged and two days before the funeral I had the scan and couldn't help but worry what it might reveal.
The following week I was phoned up whilst out walking and told that two things had shown up on the scan. One was a stress fractured pelvis that was put down to radiation damage from four years previously. The other was an unknown *thing* that showed up in my lower quarters.
I was gutted and disappointed that I hadn't even had a chance to do anything that I wanted to do after Harry had died and now it seemed I'd be facing chemo or some horrible treatment in order to get a bit longer life.

As everyone will realise, I'd given my very all to him for well over eighteen months and not been able to have many days off or felt that I could relax because of the unpredictability of his illness.
Anyway, when I got to Oncology this week, I was told that it was most likely to be a haematoma caused by bleeding from another smaller fracture. I'm now waiting for a biopsy to confirm this and to see what can be done about the haematoma.
I was reassured that there was no sign of cancer on the scan anywhere on my body.
Although I am in some measure of discomfort and I also have to be very careful not to do anything that could break my pelvis or hip, I really do feel that I'm so lucky to be given another chance of life.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Celebration of Harry's Life

In my last post, I knew that Harry was really ill and hadn't much longer to live. I posted it on the Friday and by the evening the GP had rung me to say that he probably wouldn't last the weekend. So I planned to spend all day if necessary, on Saturday and his twin was going too and also my brother, Eddy
However, Harry had other ideas and decided to go to be with the Lord during the early hours of Saturday morning, so nobody got to see him before he died. I was disappointed and angry at first but now feel very grateful to have been able to sit with him and smooth his hair for a long time on Friday afternoon. He wasn't conscious anyway.

Now I have to plan the funeral. It is a lonely and overwhelming thing to be doing.
He loved bright colours and we don't want folk mooching about in black on his funeral day.
The grandchildren he loved so much will read poems and scripture and play musical instruments. We will sing his favourite hymns and tell each other afterwards all the little things that made Harry who he was. He'd have loved that and I sometimes find myself wishing I could tell him things that we're planning to do for him.

Although I've not had Harry with me at home for 6 months now and I'm so well used to being on my own in the house and making decisions and things like that, I shall miss him so much and will now have a large chunk of my day to fill in as I won't be going to visit him any more.

Harry, we almost made 53 years of married life. 
Thank you for being my faithful companion all these years of ups and downs. I have some wonderful and sometimes funny memories that nobody can ever take away from me.
I will always love you and you'll be missed more than you could imagine.
I know you've moved on to a better life, free from pain. I expect I'll be with you before too long.

Lots of Love

Thank you everyone who wrote such lovely comments in my last post. I will get back to you before too long.......

Friday, 4 September 2015

Letting go.......

Schools went back this week and there is a distinct chilly feel to the mornings and the evenings are drawing in. I guess Autumn is on it's way and I only have very late summer flowers struggling to bloom in the garden now. It's not my most favourite of times.

Harry is still with us but is very much weaker. I go most days to the nursing home but yesterday I went to Weston Super Mare on the bus and spent three hours in the cool sunshine by the sea. I walked from one end of the promenade to the other (which involved several miles) and then I walked back again.
There is a Banksy display at one end of the promenade in a disused open air swimming baths. I would have had to queue for hours to get in to see the street art and all the controversial paraphernalia that people either love or hate.
I would have liked to see it if I'd have had more time and am thinking of making an effort to get a ticket before it finishes in a few weeks time.
Google him if you'd like to find out more, but I know most people in Britain know all about him and will have their own opinions as to whether they want to see the exhibition or wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.

One of the positive things that has happened over the last few weeks is that I'm a Great Aunt for the second time running, as my niece gave birth to Rosa who looks so cute in the photos that I've seen. Those who follow my brother, Eddy Bluelights  blog will probably have seen the latest photos of her and brother Peter. 
They are at the beginning of their lives with the possibility of great things happening to them, while Harry is at the end of his...... but something keeps him strong enough to press on for more time.
I do hope that he is having positive things happening to him in his imagination. Occasionally he opens his eyes and says *Hello* with a smile and then falls back asleep again. He doesn't seem to remember much about who comes or goes. I very much miss the *old* Harry and often expect to see him with me when I wake from dozing in front of TV most evenings. I have a flash of disappointment when I see the empty chair.
Its not easy letting go.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Join the Shaun Trail

For the last month in Bristol, Aardman Animations have inspired the production of 70 Shaun The Sheep life sized models that have been beautifully decorated by different artists and they've been scattered all around the city and outskirts.
London had 50 of their own on display earlier this year.  They will all eventually be auctioned off individually for large sums of money that will be donated to the children's hospitals. 

People have come from other countries especially to join the *Shaun In The City* trail as well as  Bristol citizens and visitors from all over Britain. Many have even bought an application for their phones, which brings in more money for the charity.

Because of our depressing situation with Harry during the past few months, my daughter has been coming to see him far more frequently than normal and we've been very grateful for the Shaun Trail to take our minds off things. We've visited parts of Bristol that we didn't know and would probably never have got to know without the Shauns. Wherever we've been, we've had to wait our turn to view and photograph these models because of the scores of visitors that are doing the same thing. Some of them have asked us to take their photo with the Shaun. Adults as well as children of all ages have been following this trail and it's surprising how many conversations we've had when people see us with a map. "Oh, are you looking for the next Shaun? It's just round the corner." 
This kind of venture not only brings in money for expensive scanners that the hospitals will be able to buy, but it's good for tourism and brings people together as well as helping us to keep fit by walking the different trails. Some of them are easy but others more challenging.
At the end of the month, the Bristol and the London Shauns will be on display together in a large Bristol venue and I intend to visit them with a friend. 
So I for one, am very grateful for this distraction. However, now I've found all 70 Shauns what next?

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Yoyo-ing Effect

I feel quite ashamed that I haven't managed to write a new post telling you the latest news. The comments in the last post were so kind and I realise that everyone must be wondering what has happened and how we're getting on because over my years of blogging, I've made some good friends who care about us both and I also feel this connection with you all.

The truth is that we're in a very similar position to the last time I wrote. Harry must have been a very strong person because his body has been trying to move on to better things for well over a year now but something manages to pull him back just as we are all despairing and resigning ourselves to the inevitable.

So the only way I can describe my life really is that I'm yoyo-ing backwards and forwards from one extreme to the other and trying to live in the present and just get on with things.
As Harry's life becomes narrower and narrower, I wonder what pleasures he has left as he's totally bed bound, so cannot now see the beautiful garden with the squirrels and birds that he used to enjoy so much and can only eat pureed food spasmodically and has great difficulty communicating.
However, inside his head, he knows what's going on and can experience all the frustrations of his restricted world just the same as you or I could. He has TV which he sometimes enjoys but probably listens to when he can't find the strength to watch.
I go in to see him for a few hours everyday. Some days he can laugh and is interested in talking and listening but other times he doesn't really know I'm there. I never know what to expect when I go in. Each day is different. Harry doesn't stay on the the same level but swings from near unconsciousness to being alert and I do think of a yoyo because of the extreme of it all.

The local Hospice Specialist Care Nurse comes to see him/me weekly and they do support family as well as the patient.
Unfortunately it is Charity funded and only has 12 beds for the whole of our city and because of his unpredictability has no chance of getting in there. They do wonderful support behind the scenes and I do owe them for their considerable support over the last year or so.

So thats our life in a nutshell. Yes, a yoyo just about describes everything.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Slipping Away.....

Over the last week, Harry has been slipping away from me, sleeping more and more and not being able to communicate very well at all.
He drinks from a covered beaker and eats a mouthful of soft food most days.
I sit by his side and stroke his hair and talk to him while he is sleeping. Who knows if he can process what I say or not?
Occasionally he opens his eyes and stares into space, other times he smiles and says, Hello.
I am missing him. I miss the conversations we used to have. I long to tell him the little snippets of news that I know he'd be interested in.
I feel I have to visit each day and sit with him but we've had some really lovely sunny days and I feel the summer is slipping away too. 
Somehow I had never envisaged him declining like this at the height of the summer. It would seem more natural on a cold, bleak winter with bugs and flu and viruses to catch...... but not in such perfect conditions as we're having now. 
Am I being silly or not?

Thursday, 18 June 2015

What About Pushy People?

We're almost at the height of our summer now and it's lovely to sit in the shade of a tree out in the open spaces with a book. When I'm in my garden, I seem to always see something that needs attention, something to clip back, weeds invading the flowers, so I often dart about doing all these jobs rather than sitting with a book as planned. I'm not like that indoors though and read away for hours.

As it was a dry, mild day, yesterday, I decided to get a bus to Wells, Somerset, which is about an hours journey from here.
The city is very small and the streets narrow and I'm sure that if it didn't have a magnificent cathedral, then it would be classed as a town.
I knew it would be market day and there would be a lot of people about and I thought it'd be good to wander round and spend a couple of hours before returning home.

I'd not been on the bus very long when a young girl plonked herself down next to me and immediately started to be very gushy with, *How are you today? I like your top. etc.* At first I wondered if she was alright but realised she wasn't British so didn't think she knew we didn't like that kind of approach. Almost immediately after I acknowledged her with a casual remark...... she got out her pamphlets and started to try to get me interested in her religion. All I wanted really, was to sit quietly and look at the lovely countryside around me as it was my precious day off. However, I was jammed in by the window so couldn't escape and I didn't have the heart to dampen her enthusiasm, so I let her pray for Harry and took her pamphlets which I read but later disposed of.
I think as we get older, life is not so black and white as this girl was making out. The smile on her face seemed plastic and I wonder if she'd had to try to convert me for an assignment at the *chapel* she was going to en route. I was relieved when she got out of the bus a good deal earlier than I did.
I thought of all the people who would have been really uncomfortable with this girl's cheeky move. It seems a bit like the Charity muggers (that we call Chuggers* in England.) They jump out at you and say, *Hey.... how are you doing?* as though they are long lost friends and all they want is to get you to sign up with a Direct Debit for their charity. They then try to make you feel quite guilty if you say no. (A 92 year old woman from Bristol recently jumped over a high cliff to her death because she was overwhelmed by begging letters and she tried to give to everyone and got herself into a mess.)

When I arrived in Wells it was drizzling with rain the whole time I was there. It didn't stop me going  for a long walk and I met 2 lovely ladies who asked me if I'd like to go for a cuppa with them (they weren't selling anything, asking for charity or peddling a religion!) I met them in the bus queue in Bristol and talked while we waited for the bus.
Although I cut my visit short because of the rain, I found I had quite enjoyed the trip. The bus journey going home was without incident..... almost boring. The streets were dry in Bristol as it had been sunny all day. 
I had plenty to think about when I got home, recalling the unusual journey to Wells. 
What do others thing about fanatics and chuggers?