Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Just blethering........

I woke this morning to the increasingly loud chorus of bird song as the sun struggled to raise its head. Peeking over the blankets, I was unsure what the weather would hold for today and tiptoed out to open the curtains. Brrr, it was still chilly so I jumped back into bed, just as J came in with my morning cuppa. “Morning, honey,” he smiled at me and kissed the top of my head before he went back downstairs to let the chickens out.

The next sound to assail my ears was the dogs barking in delight as they were let out to “help” with the chickens. Their “help” is to snuffle all around the run, checking up on who has been roaming around eating spilt seed, during the night. Their curiosity satisfied, they come skidding back into the house for breakfast.

While all this goes on, less than five minutes has passed but already my mind is at it. It’s the same every day: I wake up and my mind is instantly alert but my body struggles to match the pace. So, this is my time to plan the day. Sipping my tea, I watch as the sun pokes through and patches of blue sky appear through the white fluffy balls of cloud. “Enough blue to make a sailor’s suit”. That was one of my Nan’s sayings and it popped into my mind and brought a smile to my face. Thinking of my childhood and time with my Nan always brings a smile to my face and, after the pain of losing her, I carry her with me always. I find myself still doing things we did together; things I would never have done without her and I smile often at the memories.

A pair of long tailed tits sit on a branch outside the window and peek in at me. They are nervous little birds and soon fly off as the more confident blue tits appear. Note to self: top up the feeders before breakfast.

The clouds roll in and the sky turns grey again as I am in the shower. I can see the field at the bottom of the garden and the pale green shoots are just pushing through the red/brown earth that is so characteristic of this part of the country. It is still too early to tell what it is going to be, but last year it was pasture and I think we are due a wheat crop…………. My mind moves on again: I must change the spare bed as we have visitors due. Mmm, will the sheets dry out today, or shall I hang them up over the Rayburn? Nearly dry myself now, I give lip service to some body lotion – too chilly to dally and get dressed.

Windows open and bed turned back, I shoo the cat out. She loves to jump up on the bed and I don’t mind after it is made, but she always makes a beeline to the warm patch I have not long vacated. With arms filled with washing I negotiate the stairs down and J is just coming back in from walking the dogs. Oh, great! They’re filthy (again!) and after a brisk rubbing down are banished to the utility room to finish drying off. Dog chews are dispensed before they start barking to “ask” for one – they are such creatures of habit.

The washing machine starts its gentle hum and the kettle is sending small spirals of steam up to the ceiling. I make J’s sandwiches for work and then we sit to eat our cereals together. And then it happened. You know the feeling when your stomach flips over as realisation hits? I had glanced at the calendar and realised that I had a blood test in 40 minutes. Darn it! Mental lists scatter as I frantically finish eating, rush to clean my teeth and throw on some lippy whilst doing up my shoes. I have to have blood tests every fortnight for a while now that I have restarted my Bosentan. Liver function can be affected and there is a strict protocol to follow.

I wave a kiss at J as I grab handfuls of keys and leg it to the car. Newent is only 15 minutes away so I may just make it; that is if there are no tractors on the road. And then my mind is at it again as I spy litter floating in the ditches. It was bin day today and we always get litter after a collection. Note to self – get litter picker out of greenhouse where it had been shoved when I went to buy chicken feed last time. Time to be a womble again!

Turning left at the Dymock crossroads, I pass a thatched cottage that is having the roof re-done. It is long overdue and I’m not sure if it has changed hands as there has been a hive of activity over the last few months. The ladders are still on the roof but it is still a little early for the thatcher to be at work. Crossing the motorway bridge I note that traffic is very light (this is not a busy motorway at the best of times, more like a dual carriageway), glance at the clock and dip the accelerator a bit more. I normally pootle about but today I have got an appointment so will get up to the 50mph speed limit.

It was hard to find a parking space this morning but I did find one eventually. Red-faced and out of breath, I check in at the desk. Just made it! 10 minutes later I am walking down the high street to pay a bill at the bank and the sun parts the clouds once more. I pause to pick up two plastic bags that are rolling along the floor and shove them in the nearest bin, tutting. This irritates me soooooo much. Newent is such a pretty market town with its timber framed market house and Tudor buildings. In the summer there is multi-coloured bunting draped across the streets and there are wonderful butchers, greengrocers, bakers, tea shops, card shops and the obligatory “country” store selling wellies, Barbours and cords. It is host to the Newent Onion Fayre in September and the crowds roll in.

Today, though, I have a hefty list of phone calls to make, washing to finish and floors to clean, so I need to concentrate my thoughts once more. And I left the house without making the bed! Major sin!! It is starting to spit as I pass the thatched cottage in Dymock village once more and see that the thatcher has started his work. Eight minutes later I reverse on the drive; 2 buzzards call from above as they circle over our roof and I battle with the gate against the strengthening breeze. I’m ready for that cup of tea now and slide the kettle onto the hot plate as I discard body warmer and hang up the keys. Within minutes it is boiling and I can commit my mental list to paper so that later I can enjoy crossing things out! So satisfying – I love a list and that smug feeling when you reach the bottom. Only trouble is, there’s always another list tomorrow!

Friday, 6 March 2009

It's been a while

The last time I blogged, it was about autumn. Now, it is spring and as the snowdrops are fading away, the crocuses and daffodils have taken over. Christmas has been and gone; already a hazy memory and, as the days start to get ever longer, the birds are beginning to build their nests and the promise of new life beckons.

We have had snow here, like many places this winter but, apart from that, winter has been a long one for me. Scleroderma has chosen not to be kind to me lately and I have suffered from digital ulcers like never before. My only pain relief has been morphine and I have been numbed down and out of it for a few months now. I don’t think I suffer from depression, but I have been down with zero energy and vast amounts of lethargy. When this happens, all I want to do is sleep or gaze out of the window at the trees.

Ever since I can remember, I have had a fascination of trees. I marvel at their ability to live so long, when we are here for just a fraction of time in comparison. I love the different varieties; their colours, sizes, blossoms, fruits and texture of bark. We are fortunate here that from every single window of our cottage, we can see trees: trees of all descriptions – oak, perry pear, hazel, silver birch, elder, ash, copper beech, apple and plum trees, plus a huge eucalyptus tree right at the bottom of the garden, with its amazing peeling bark. When my nephew and niece come to stay, we write secret messages on the bark and lay a treasure trail around the garden. We have had magical moments doing this, but they grow all too quickly and will soon rather sunbathe, listening to their IPods instead.

My “therapy” is my tree gazing. I have long since learnt to listen to my body when it is not firing on all cylinders, and so our trees have listened to my misery and pain and ever so gently, kicked me up the bum and nudged me back on course. They have turned a blind eye to my attire (I have been unable to do zips and buttons for over 2 months) as I have slobbed around in pull up trousers and sweatshirts. And now they are teasing me to want to go outside and do some gardening, but it has turned too cold for me again and I have to content myself with making plans and drawing up planting maps for my raised vegetable beds.

At least now I can type again! I am VERY slow and my fingers are clumsy, but I get there in the end. I am healing daily as the spring advances and there is a hint of warmth to the sun (not today, though!). I will never be fully “well” or cured, but I always get my equilibrium back – this winter has been harder to get through but I received good news that my funding has been granted for the drug “Bosentan” last month. I was in hospital having my Iloprost infusion (to try and kick start the healing of my ulcer) when my letter came and that was the icing on the cake. I participated in the drug trial for Bosentan and afterwards was given the drug for a 12 month period, free of charge by the drug company. This was 2 years ago and for the last year without the drug, my ulcers have been very spiteful. Bosentan doesn’t stop the ulcers coming completely, but makes them heal much faster. It is also used by sufferers of pulmonary hypertension but, fortunately, my “type” of Scleroderma means I am less likely to have this. So, enough! I have my little pills once more, my ulcer is shrinking slowly and I am feeling stacks better. Life is pretty darned good and I am back in the frame of mind to realise it.

It is growing dusk now and I am off to put the chickens to bed. Our ex battery hens have settled in wonderfully and are keeping us in more eggs than we can eat. Neighbours and friends are enjoying the eggs too and come to see them grubbing around in the dirt. They are such characters and so friendly – you only have to walk towards their gate and they come running to see what presents they have. Their favourite is mash potato, but they love rice, bread, veg peelings, chips (!), grapes, apples, strawberries and pasta. They love being picked up and stroked and the kids love to go and fetch the eggs when they come to stay. It couldn’t have worked out better – they give us so much amusement and we give them love and a safe environment.

So, until another time (not so long, I hope) – wellies, body warmer and gloves are to be donned before I venture into the cold air to close that pop hole! xx