Saturday, 28 November 2009

Children In Need

Last weekend in England, it was Children In Need Week which is an appeal for lots of money to support childrens' Charities. The bear in the picture is a character who is used to advertise the Appeal. His name is Pudsey. No you are not seeing double, there really are two there.

Every week at school, Amber, my eldest granddaughter has a spelling test on a Friday. Usually twelve new words that have to be learnt each week. As a rule she gets all twelve right and as a reward, I usually buy her (and Millie) a small gift. That is real pressure, isn't it? If Amber gets all twelve, then Millie gets something too.
Anticipating the twelve out of twelve, I asked the children what they would like. It is usually something quite small. This time they both said that they would like Pudsey bears. They were selling them in the local ASDA shops for only a a pound each. They were very small bears.
Well, Harry and I searched two ASDA shops and all the little bears had been snapped up and they only had the larger ones that cost much more than they usually get for a spelling test.
I was getting tired so decided to get a large bear each and go mad.
When the girls saw the bears, they were overawed and their Dad said, "You'd better give them a hug for buying those bears." (Obviously meaning granddad and me.) We all collapsed with laughter when both the girls picked up their bears and gave them a hug.
Wasn't that funny.

On Tuesday evening, Harry and I had to go to the hospital where he has been treated for prostate cancer for seven years. We were both rather shocked to be told that they can only now treat the cancer successfully for six more months. After that it will be much more difficult and will be less and less effective. I thought that they would be able to do another two years, so this is a new blow that we have to bear in our family.
Seems I just get to grips with one thing and then something else comes and takes away the peace.
When you get kicked enough times...... you feel stunned, unreal. However, you just have to get back up and try again.

I have now had my CT scan and have been told it will be 10 days before I can learn anything about what exactly is going on in my body.
I also have two more different scans booked for next week.
I am about to start back at work on Monday so it means taking off yet more time and not getting any nearer to knowing what treatment I will be getting or when.
I am thinking that I am being given lessons in patience from above.
In the meantime........ I am experimenting with scarves and hats. Not too keen on a wig.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Counting My Blessings

Copyright: Maggie May

This evening (Wednesday) at 6pm, I will be going to our local hospital for a CT scan. At first I thought I was going to be fed through a tiny space which I wouldn't have liked because I get claustrophobic in confined spaces. It might be because I would feel really out of control of what would be happening to me, as I wouldn't be able to escape if I wanted to.
I am pleased to say that I have discovered that it is not the MRI scan but the doughnut, a much wider piece of equipment so I will be fine with that.
I have to drink a pint of water before I go to have it and pour in a little potion that has been sent to me via the hospital. This will show up my digestive tract from start to finish. I will not get the results until the following Wednesday that brings us up to the 2nd of December.

All this waiting has not been easy for me as I am by nature, an impatient person. I like to get results...... I like to start things NOW!
I am having to learn to accept that this cannot be. I have to wait.
I am rather an unusual person because I have a secondary cancerous lump in the groin and no one seems to know where the primary cause is. It is unusual but not unheard of. Just the kind of thing that happens to us as a family though. Not straightforward ....... typical of Maggie May.
If the scan shows up something....... then I will start chemotherapy and radiation treatment straight away. If nothing shows up they will zap the groin tumour with radiation.
I can see that this is going to mess up Christmas either way.
My son is coming to stay for a week with the girls from the time school finishes till the time they fly to Japan for two weeks on Christmas Eve. My daughter will be coming to take over from him when he is away. (Poor thing, as though she hasn't had enough to cope with already.) There will be a bit of an overlap when all the family will all be together.

To try and make it more enjoyable for the children, my son Sam is buying a wii for them all that will be put upstairs in the roof. So that if I am chucking up in a bucket and losing my hair, the children will be having a good time up in the attic space and hopefully that will compensate.

Usually, at this time of the year, I am wishing the Winter away and longing for the Spring. Not anymore. Now I feel very much alive and living for the moment. Being alive seems much more precious. Everything now seems more lovely, more treasured, more beautiful. People seem more important, relationships seem much more meaningful.
I am living for the moment and am grateful for what I have. When you think there is a chance that you might die........ then everything seems to be more vibrant, enticing you to live. I took everything for granted before and hadn't realised the way I often wished my time away.

I have spent a good chunk of my life worrying about my old age. How I would cope if I was left alone. How would I manage financially. When you realise that there might not be an old age then it all seems to have been a complete waste of time. Living for the moment seems a much better option.
Today I can see and hear and move about. I can cuddle my grandchildren and I can blog. I know I am loved by so many people and that gives me courage to face the future.
I have to chose a picture now to go with this post. I'm not sure what it will be yet......... but it will probably be something beautiful.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Stuck In The Loop

My grandfather on my dad's side was a very intelligent man. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a Research Chemist and worked towards that and achieved it. Similarly, my Dad also knew from an early age that he wanted to do the same. He was also very intelligent and before school he taught himself to read out of a medical encyclopaedia that happened to be lying about.
I don't think that he had much attention given to him as a child.
My grandfather was a very strange man, showing no emotion and would sit in silence for hours. I can remember being quite afraid of him when I was very young. By then he lived in a remote part of Lancashire in a farm house with his two sisters and a younger brother. They were all extremely shy people. My Dad's cousin also lived there, as she had looked after him when my grandmother had died before I was born and when he was only ten. I loved this person who I called Auntie M. She was badly disabled by Rheumatoid Arthritis and was often in great pain.
Grandfather and Auntie M had gone to live in the farm house to escape the bombing in Wallasey during the Second World War and when that was over, they stayed on, probably causing distress to the sisters and brother by doing so.

Grandfather was renowned for his disagreeable nature. In fact he used to grunt sometimes rather than answer and everyone gave him a wide berth. People used to *walk on eggshells* so as not to upset him.
My father also had this remoteness about him and he didn't like being touched. I can clearly remember as a toddler learning very quickly not to try and climb up on his knee because I would be pushed away and told to get down. I was never cuddled or picked up by him, though we have photos of him awkwardly holding me in a wooden sort of way.
I don't think he ever understood any of my needs or emotions. No..... he couldn't ever understand emotions.

Fortunately for me, my mother was quite a demonstrative person and gave me plenty of physical love. I went to her for everything and thought of her as the provider of all my needs and very rarely asked my father for anything. I think I was very confused about the extremes of their very different personalities and not having the strong role model of a father.
Can you see where this is going?

I don't think Asperger's Syndrome became known about until the '70s and so no one ever put a name to either of these men and lets face it we are all on the Autistic Spectrum to some degree. Both men were known to be Odd Bods........ eccentric people and accepted for what they were. My Dad had many strange obsessions ...... collecting things for the sake of it was one. Dad spent a lot of money on all the technical gadgets of that day, leaving us without money for adequate clothing. He just couldn't understand the need for such things as long as the body was covered. I was always so ashamed of having to wear the same things over and over again and was made fun of quite a bit at school. However my Mum could make something out of anything and I can remember her chopping up curtains to make shorts so that we could go away for a holiday. A bit like The Sound Of Music when the Van Trapps did the same.
At the time, I didn't think any of this was unusual until I started to see how other families interacted together and then I realised that our family was different. Other girls had a wonderful relationship with their fathers.
My dad just couldn't understand why I wasn't as intelligent as him. I suppose he wanted to have a daughter who carried on the Research Chemist tradition and was bitterly disappointed and after being told I was no good at his favourite subjects, I just gave up on them altogether. I wanted to be *normal* and concentrated on art and pop music and dancing and having a good time.

By the time I was married with children, he had mellowed into a really kind grandfather who my children loved but couldn't quite understand.
Even they knew he was eccentric but loved him anyway. It was quite common for them to be told to *grow up* if they had a view that was different from his and his favourite saying was..... *The man's a blithering idiot*.

So it was no surprise to me that my own children have been drawn to people with similar characteristics......... that zoomed along towards the Asperger's line. I cannot and will not say any more about this for obvious reasons.
However it has come to my notice that families seem to attract the very types into their fold, that they are trying to escape from.
Family members who have put up with a difficult family member for years, often subconsciously choose an identical partner to that very one, even though they feel there is no chance of it happening.
Alcoholics unwittingly choose other alcoholics, depressives go for other depressives and Aspergers are no exception to the rule. If there is an Aspergers person in the family you can get so used to this condition that you don't recognise the problems that are going to happen when you meet someone who has some of the traits. It is normal for them. They have been programmed to accept certain types of people. They are comfortable with that type of person. They deny that they ARE that type of person.

The Book *Families and How to Survive them* By Robyn Skynner and John Cleese puts all this in perspective beautifully. This is the book that made me aware of what was going on in my own family.
Walking on eggshells so as not to upset a volatile personality. We are very used to doing this in our household.

It is like being caught up in a loop. Our family members continually get hurt because they choose people who will not or cannot make them happy and it goes down the generations and the mistakes are made over and over again.
I sincerely hope that my grandchildren will be more aware of the lifelong misery that this can cause.... but I have a feeling that they will possibly stay in this loop unless they have help breaking out.........
We must recognise these family traits and beware of the pitfalls.

What is there in your family?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

In My Grandmother's Day

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Sue

Photos copyright: Maggie May

Although these photos were taken in the Black Country Living Museum in Birmingham, I can remember similar scenes in my Grandmother's home.
The fire range above with the brass fender round it was the heart and soul of my grandmother's back room. The coal fire used to be lit everyday, no matter how hot it was outside and I can remember feeling as though I was in a furnace when I was a child, visiting.
There was always a kettle on the hob, just like in the picture and sometimes there was washing drying or airing on the fender.

This was a typical kitchen scene but it was a room that was always called a scullery. There was cold water in the tap but any hot water had to be carried in from the fire.

This is just some of the equipment that was needed for washday. Notice the wooden rollers on the mangle and the dolly tub for rinsing that had to be hand filled. The dolly is the wooden paddle that had to be twisted by hand to agitate the washing. If you look above the mangle, you will see a tin bath hanging on the wall for the weekly baths (shared by all the members of the family) and all the hot water had to come from a small kettle heated on the coal fire. Understandably the bath was never very deep and the water was filthy by the time the last member of the family got in.

Notice the boiler in the corner for boiling up clothes. There is a space on the other side of the wall for a coal fire to be lit to heat the boiler. Think how that would be on a wet day, having to go outside and try to start a fire before the washing was even started.

The photo below was a typical toilet called a midden! It was just a hole with a bucket to catch everything. Fortunately, my grandmother had a modern outside toilet with a flush! The towns had sewers but out in the country the slops had to be buried.
Remind me never to moan again about my chores.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Help Yourself Friends

I was thrilled to receive this lovely gift of aromatherapy hand and body lotion from Mimi that she made up herself. She chose *balance* and *harmony* as the ingredients, as she obviously feels this will do me good. This cream has a lovely smell.
She also made up the lovely card to go with it and that smelt of roses. Marvellous gesture and very much appreciated.
Mimi lives in Eire and the package crossed the Irish Sea in a boat, I think because it took a long time to get here. Bristol had had a postal strike at the time she sent it but it plopped into my house yesterday.
I put some on my hand and sniffed it as I fell asleep and I managed to get over 5 hours which was lovely as I hadn't been sleeping well before that.

I am hopeless at giving out awards as I usually have to get my son to help me and do not like to be a nuisance. However I found this one in a folder from the past so I didn't have to go into my awards gadget, that I find hard to fathom out. If there is anyone on my blog who considers themselves a friend of mine, then please take an award.
You are more numerous than the stars. Well no...... that's an exaggeration.... but too numerous to mention. I appreciate you all more than I can say.

Footnote: I attended a different hospital today to talk to a Consultant about my cancer diagnosis and future care.
The latest is that I have to have a CT scan in two weeks and after a thorough examination by him today, he says I have a secondary cancerous lump in my groin where they did a biopsy. He has so far found no evidence of cancer in any of the places that he has examined me.
If the CAT scan does not show any evidence of primary cancer, then he has enough knowledge from the biopsy of how best to treat the secondary. (Radiation treatment.)
It seems a superb hospital and I have my own cancer nurse who is there for me any time I have a query.
It seems that there is a good chance that I will never know where the primary cancer is and he told me about another lady who was almost identical to me with her diagnosis and after having her radiation treatment and getting her lump zapped, she went on to have no further trouble and after five years he discharged her.
I feel better now. Oh and he said I was fighting fit and that many nurses couldn't walk up the steep hill to the hospital that I bounded up in no time!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

To Kaiko

When I think back to that first time that Sam introduced you, things seemed really good.
I was happy for him to marry a girl from Japan...... after all, he had been living there for ten years, so it seemed a very natural thing for him to do. I was very open to your culture. I liked you from the start and looked forward to your visits.
So what has gone wrong? Is there no hope for our relationship now?
This separation is not what I wanted and not what I'd hoped for.

We shared the same house for nearly a year and there were obviously difficulties. Two women living in close proximity, sharing the same kitchen and the same bathroom.
Both of us at the opposite ends of the age range, from different cultures and both used to doing things a different way.
The differences in our temperaments were vast. By English standards I am rather reserved but by Japanese standards I must have come across as a demonstrative person who could change from cool to hot..... with a whole range of temperatures between. But I never bore a grudge.
You hid your feelings from me and your lovely dark eyes were like pools of unfathomable water and I could never understand what you were really thinking or feeling.
But I was there for you.

There is one thing that I want to thank you for, or rather two things......those beautiful granddaughters who have given me immense pleasure. From the moment I set eyes on Amber and Millie, I fell in love with them and I will be grateful to you for the rest of my life.
They are like two little rose buds who could so easily be crushed before they have a chance to open into flower. I do so want to see them flower and mature.

Kaiko......... Its the blog name that I chose for you because I liked it. The name means Forgiveness.
Can you forgive me for upsetting you? Maybe you will in time, but it may not be in my lifetime.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

My Everlasting Kitchen Progress

Photos copyright: Maggie May

Most of you know that I have been having my kitchen altered in varying degrees since last February.
The menfolk in our house have done major work on it. Originally to get rid of rodents (of the largest variety), who were nesting and causing havoc in a tiny roof space where we were completely unable to get to them.
After constructing a new roof, of an entirely different design, the problem was solved. However, I have been living out of boxes for ages as the men had other things to do and my kitchen was in a state of limbo for months.

While I was in hospital recently, my carpenter son, Sam, decided to try to finish off the interior decorations. A mammoth task but I knew it was his way of coping with the uncertainty of my biopsy and everything.

Although three sides of the kitchen have now been revamped, the rest has been put on hold because Sam has another run of work and I also decided to go back to work last week and I couldn't face having no access to a kitchen when I wasn't home all day. If I work I need to organise meals and things at set times, otherwise I cannot cope with any of it as it is all too tiring.

I am still living out of boxes because the one side of the wall that hasn't yet been attacked by Sam, has to have the wall cabinets remade. So everything is on hold again.
You will see by the above photos that he has made an excellent job of everything and I am so grateful to him.
Not long ago the kitchen looked like the picture at the bottom.
So we are making progress slowly but surely.

Friday, 13 November 2009

The Scream

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Yesterday when I was really hurting though I was trying not to show it in front of the girls, Millie, the youngest drew a picture on the blackboard with chalk.
I thought then, that this was the perfect picture of how I felt. She had unwittingly captured it with chalks.
It is easy to fob off children at the age of nearly five and seven.
They asked me why I wasn't at school ( because they know I work there lunchtimes.)
I told them I had to have my stitches out and that I had been a bit sore and that I felt sad.
That was readily accepted and off they went.

Of course the older grandsons are a different matter altogether. I had been dreading phoning my daughter because she has already had so much stress through her husband's illness and death last year. However she phoned me during the time they were at school. We cried a lot and got that out of our systems. However, when she phoned me again in the evening for a further chat, she told me she had got on touch with the hospice where her husband had died and where she still goes for councelling. She asked what she should say to the boys about my cancer. They love me dearly and have already been hurt by cancer and loss.
The hospice strongly advised her to tell the truth.
So she said to Dean the 11 year old that Granny had cancer and his eyes brimmed with tears. She asked him if he wanted to know the details and he shook his head. She then went on to ask if he would like to know if Granny had some good things happen in her illness and he said that he did want to know about those things.
This is the lad that cannot go to the grave of his father or even talk about him. He is shutting it away.
Rick is 13 and autistic and Deb thought that he might show the wrong emotion because he sometimes gets confused and giggles at inappropriate moments. So when he was told that Granny had cancer, he just shouted "I hate that word cancer...... I hate it!" But he didn't cry or show anything other than anger. He also said he didn't want to know details of my illness but readily agreed that he would like to know of any progress I make.
Of course all this started me off crying again, however, when I woke from a sparse and restless sleep this morning, I knew what I had to do. I must compile all my thoughts, struggles, love and everything that is in my life and write it down so that this blog will be there for the family long after I am gone. And..... I don't plan to go anywhere too soon.
So here we are in a slightly more fighting mood than yesterday. No good kicking doors down, knowing me I'd probably break a foot.

Eddie and I told the doctor all our fears about not starting treatment straightway.
The Doctor examined me in lots of places and didn't feel anything obviously was wrong. He said that he thought I was a very fit person and that it really was very essential to get to find out exactly what kind of cancer that they are dealing with as treatments vary and he would hate to start me off on the wrong one and spoil my chances later.
He thought two weeks was a quick time to get to see the gynaecologist and he has booked me in for an MRI scan. (There is a waiting list for that though.)

In the meantime I am eating chocolate and comfort food and to hell with the 5 fruits & veg that I have been religiously sticking to.
I will get back to healthy eating eventually.

Thank you all for your continued support, prayers and positive vibes that have helped me no end..... for my faithful blog followers and the ones who read my blog but don't comment........ you know who you are. Also for the friends who come round and hug me in person and do all sorts of little things for me.
I won't forget all the kindness....... I really will not. I appreciate all of you.
One of you said something that made me think. Everyone has been sending up prayers for Maggie May and are the prayers really benefiting me? (Gulp!)
Well if all the hairs on our heads are known and counted as Jesus said they were...... then he knows surely who I am. My name is Maggie and you all know where I live. So you can offer up prayers to Maggie in Bristol UK and you can be sure they will benefit me.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Results...

Photos copyright: Maggie May

I got this post prepared so that I could tell everyone some really good news after seeing my consultant this morning. I was going to title it *Everything Coming Up Roses*

However, every thing changed in the flash of an eyelid, when the consultant told me I had secondary cancer.

He said it was coming from the uterus. How the Hell could that be? I had a hysterectomy thirty years ago?
Just tell me how?
I feel like kicking doors down. I feel really upset....... too upset to write personal email. I am sorry about that. I will no doubt get over it.

So now...... wait for it......... I am having to go back on a waiting list to see a specialist in womens' problems (that I can't even spell.)
I might be hearing from them within two weeks. Two more weeks of Bloody Hell!
I assume then there will be tests and more waiting for scans & possible surgery. I seem to have gone right back to the start again. A bit like *snakes and ladders*. And all the time this thing inside me is spreading. I just want to start treatment. Is that too much to ask?

My lovely brother is going with me to the doctor this afternoon to push for some treatment.
Forgive me for my tantrum I don't intend this blog to end up as a cancer blog.

Please pray for me. I can't.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

View From The Big Wheel

Photo copyright: Maggie May

When I went on the big wheel at Weston Super Mare last summer, there was a really good view of the pier where the pavilion had burnt down the previous year.
The sides have been extended to take a bigger building that has already started to be built, but this is how it looked last August.
I could see right across the Bristol Channel to Wales.

Watery Wednesday is hosted by 2sweetnsaxy.

Footnote: For those of you who are anxious to hear news of my biopsy..... I'm still waiting.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Waiting Game!

Photo copy right: Maggie May

I expect other people are wondering what my results were from my recent biopsy.
Well I wish I could answer as I would love to know too.
It is now seven days since I had my operation and I assume I am going back to work tomorrow.
My daughter thinks that the Pathology Lab is waiting for cultures to develop. That might explain the delay. I shall be nervous of answering the phone or looking at mail tomorrow.

In the mean time I have had the whole family round for the weekend plus a friend or two. That took my mind off things and was an enjoyable experience.
It has been hectic to say the least, however, I have done no cooking. The reason being that while I was in hospital, my son gutted my kitchen (again) in order to sand down and paint and put up shelves. As usual, he is doing a grand job. Sam is a precision worker but he is extremely slow. Carpenters are notorious for being perfectionist.
So even if I wanted to get into the kitchen I cannot.
Microwave meals have been the order of the day. I think we must be getting unhealthier by the minute.

I am taking it all in my stride because there isn't anything I can do about the situation. I might not have been allowed home though if the hospital knew what my home situation was really like.

I'd like to thank you all for positive wishes and for prayers that have upheld me during this stressful period of not knowing. I feel as though I have been wrapped in a little cocoon of safety and there is a part of me that doesn't want to come out of this. However tomorrow is the start of a fresh week and I believe that it will hold the answers about what my future holds for me.
Please continue to send the prayers and positive thoughts as they help me no end.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Potential Pets?

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Emily

Photos copyright: Maggie May

Here I was with three African Land Snails in my care until the end of half term. I took them home from school because my two granddaughters have been hankering after pets for a long time.
I think they were thinking more in terms of warm and fluffy though, rather than hard and slimy.
Day one, the girls seemed quite interested for a while but they kept asking when the snails were going to move as they did seem to have very long periods in the plant pots napping.

Although I am rather cruel to the snails in my garden because I chuck them over into the back lane,( giving them the chance to get out of the way of vehicles that go there), these pet snails brought out the protective in me and I lived in dread of something happening to them while they were in my care.
They loved lettuce and pears and cucumber and they had to be sprayed with tepid water everyday.
Eventually I had to pick them up and clean them out before returning them to school. Not as bad as I thought, though I did put on rubber gloves to do it.
I suppose even these creatures are a tie when holidays come, which is the main reason why we can't go fluffy because those kinds of animals seem to be even more dependant pets than snails!
Back to the drawing board!
Any one know of anything that is no trouble, but more interesting than a snail and that is definitely not a rodent?

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily. Do look her up!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Another Weir

Photo copyright: Maggie May

This photo was taken in Topsham, Devon and is where I spotted this weir, I just had to capture it.
Last time I took a photo of a weir, several people from overseas asked me what the word means. A weir is a low dam built across a river to raise the level of water upstream or regulate its flow.
Watery Wednesday is hosted by 2sweetnsaxy.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Maggie Munster

Photo copyright: Sam May

Those naughty granddaughters dressed me up on Halloween. Something to chuckle about while I am indisposed.
I think I will hang on to the wig!

Hope to be back soon.

Footnote: I am back at home now gathering myself up together and will catch up with everyone's blog.
Had excellent care in our wonderful hospital. I cannot fault the Nation Health Service.

I will have to wait for the results of the biopsies.
What you have to do to get an extra week off though!