Waving not drowning

Hello, I’m back! *Waves*. It’s a risk to say I’m feeling a little better – at least some of the time – but with any luck it might continue, and I might even do some ‘proper’ writing soon. The miserable posts I wrote in anger over the past two weeks are safely tucked away in drafts, and may never see the light of day. So this post is not about drowning in despair, but is instead a celebration of some of the deeply unexciting, but reasonably cheerful things that happened in the past two weeks…

Talking therapy with someone who already knows our situation (so I don’t have to go over it all again) seems to be helping a bit. At least it means I’m not dumping my worries on my friends…

My badly needed new phone – I’m always a bit intimidated by new phones, but I’m loving the fingerprint identification – so fast – and the battery life – so long. I don’t need an iPhone, so this is a budget option that looks like a good choice so far, apart from the camera, which is not very impressive!

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 09.29.16
Sunrise over Dublin 16.2.18

 

I’m reading a book – always a sign my mood has improved. It’s One Small Act of Kindness by Lucy Dillon, in case you’re interested, and there’s a great review of it here.

Two weeks ago I managed my first 10 kilometre run of 2018. Too slow, but a good start. Then I did another 10K with a friend, seven days later. Perhaps I’m back on track?

My smear test results came back clear, great reassurance for an awkward and uncomfortable few minutes at the GP surgery. Go do it, if you haven’t already!

An at home dinner with my eldest turned into an hour long chat – rare as our lives are both ridiculously busy. It was lovely. We also went to the cinema. This time to see the latest Maze Runner film – not something I would have chosen, but surprisingly enjoyable.

And finally, guess who has been arriving home every day full of happiness and joy, as though to make sure I keep my head above water?

For more reasons to be cheerful, head over to Lakes Single Mum.

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The Waiting Room

It’s all honey blonde and pinky red tones with shafts of sunlight making geometric shapes on the floor and warm curved walls to hug you as you sit and wait. But there’s also creaky hard seats and noisy floors that echo with the rhythm of shoes and boots and runners making a cacophony of sound that ebbs and flows.

The door opens and in they go. The door shuts. You’re left outside to wait. Your stomach churns as you wonder how the appointment will go today. You try to read something, write something, concentrate on something, anything that will distract you from fixating on what is happening behind that implacably closed door.

You listen to the sounds of others waiting: cranky children, the lower murmur of women chatting, the rustling of paper and doors opening and closing, voices raised in excitement as gossip is exchanged. The ring of phones and the coughs and splutters of the sick and old.

You sit and wait and wait and wait. How did it come to this?

You’ve become the person who knows almost nothing, but is expected to do almost everything.

Then the door opens. All looks well. Phone away, fix welcoming smile on face, drive home. Another hour spent in the waiting room is over. For another week.

NB I’m cheating slightly as this post is not about my disabled daughter.

 

Battling anxiety by scaring myself silly! #timetotalk

It’s no secret that the ongoing family crisis here has had a negative effect on my mental heath. I’ve never suffered with anxiety like this before. The effects have been frightening, and that resulted in a negative feedback loop where the fear made me more anxious. I retreated, avoided people – even friends – avoided situations and activities that suddenly seemed too difficult. From talking to friends, some of this may be age related too – my peers are experiencing similar issues – a loss of confidence, feeling anxious about everyday chores and activities, afraid of doing something stupid, of others seeing it, of feeling stupid yourself and therefore wanting to avoid anything that might be challenging.

But if you know me at all, you’ll also know that I hate feeling fearful, I hate feeling weak, I hate feeling vulnerable, so I searched around my head for strategies that would improve things. And I remembered the advice that facing your fears – in a gentle way – should make it easier to cope with them.

So for the past week, I’ve been making a real effort to get out of my comfort zone.

‘Me’ time was prescribed for the weekend, and I was lucky enough to get a sitter for Sunday morning, so I went for coffee on my own and then to the gym. With no worries about having to rush home after training, I tackled the showers. It’s only taken me two years… But in all fairness, communal changing rooms are very intimidating for women of a certain age, especially those who don’t have time to do all the grooming and tanning and exercise that’s expected! And I had stupid little worries about whether the lock I had would work on the locker, would the key be safe while I showered (I had visions of it being washed away…). All my fears were misplaced: no one  noticed me at all and my plan to manage the locker/shower process worked perfectly.

Then there was another incident in the saga of the fridge, that I’ve mentioned more than once over the years! On pulling it out one day, I was horrified to see dust almost filling the vents in the back. Dangerous, I thought. Luckily Google came to rescue and told me that I needed to vacuum the fridge coils. I’d never heard this before, and it took me a few days to tackle it, especially as you have to remove the back cover of the fridge which says ‘Technicians Only’ in very large letters. But I did, and nothing blew up or went on fire either!

Cutting and taking up winter leggings for B – because her legs are a non standard length and only summer leggings come in capri length. (Her clothing issues are worthy of a whole blog post in themselves –  I promise to write it one day 😀). I was afraid I’d ruin them of course, but I didn’t, and she’s wearing them today. Result.

Back in the gym again, and there were two young men demonstrating their handstand skills. It was impressive, and you couldn’t miss the demonstration either. And you know I’m competitive, right? And that I used to do school gymnastics as a child? And that I can resist everything except temptation? So when I’d finished my essential training (it is essential, it keeps me strong, and keeps my back healthy, so I can carry on caring) I got my breath back and then attempted a handstand, and then two more. I was only able to hold them for a couple of seconds, but still! The guy behind the desk winked at me on the way out ha ha #55notdeadyet.

Finally, I have agreed to go for talking therapy, to keep others happy, but very reluctantly. Here’s why:

It eats into the free time I don’t have.
It requires me to talk about all the crazy stuff that has happened in my life. Again. And I find that traumatic.

So you could say I’m scared of counselling too, so that’s another reason to do it. And because today, February 1st, is #timetotalk day, I really should make the effort to talk about mental health, and I hope you do too.

Time to talk

Because scaring myself has made me feel better, this will also be my reasons to be cheerful post for this week: read more over at Lakes Single Mum.

 

 

Reasons to be cheerful 27.1.18

Unfortunately B and I cannot do parkrun this morning, so instead I’m going to run around hunting for reasons to be cheerful…

…I bought some new everyday wear gym clothes in the sales to encourage me to exercise even when I can’t get out. As an Irish celebrity said recently:

“If I put my jeans on in the morning, that’s it, I’m not going to the gym that day.”

And I find the exact same thing happens here.

…My disabled daughter’s telly died this week and as she cannot entertain herself, TV is very important to her. She also has an iPad, but in her opinion that is solely to watch videos of her favourite bands and she will protest if you try to use it for any other purpose! So a replacement telly was needed. I began looking at reviews online, but she does NOT need a 32″ flat screen TV in her bedroom! I knew there was a very old TV in the attic, but had no idea if it was still usable. But guess what? All I had to do was plug it in, attach the Freesat connectors, and bingo! Over 100 channels for B to choose from. It’s neat and sturdy and it works. Why can’t I buy a TV like that any more?

…Welcoming several new families to the special needs club I help to run and seeing how happy their children were to be there.

…The joy of collecting my eldest daughter from the airport on Sunday after she represented the Irish branch of the family at a wedding.

…My Zumba class started up again for 2018.

…Coffee with one friend and a lovely email from another.

…Approaching an Irish delegate to the Davos World Economic Forum about the apparent lack of a hoist in a picture of the beautiful disabled toilet she shared on twitter. She promised to raise the issue of changing places toilets. Result!

(Incidentally Davos and Davros are too similar for me not to think that the World Economic Forum is not full of villains. Anyone else?)

…Making an apple pie with one of my other children.

…Attending the first meeting of the new Human Rights Committee at the CRC in Dublin, which runs the adult day programme that B attends and loves. The Committee plans to improve the lives of disabled people and has assembled a proactive group with a variety of backgrounds and skills. It was a very positive two hours, and a great break from my usual daily activities!

So that’s it for another week. Head over to Mummy from the Heart for more reasons to be cheerful xx

 

 

Wake Me Up When It’s All Over

The date for the referendum has not yet been announced, yet the campaign is already getting nasty. I refer of course to the proposed referendum to remove the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which effectively bans abortion in almost all circumstances (for my non-Irish readers).

I’ve made my decision, and I explained my reasons here. But I will not be campaigning or reading or listening, because I find it all too upsetting. There’s good people on both sides, compassionate people who do care, I know that. But there’s others who will use anyone, any strategy, or any argument in their attempt to win this battle, and it’s ugly to watch. So I plan to avoid it. I will be muting and hiding as much of the coverage as I can.

Personally I find some of the tactics of the Save the 8th campaign barbaric (with apologies to my pro life friends). Pictures of dead foetuses are surely disrespectful, and seeing one in your Facebook news feed or on the street must be very upsetting for those who’ve had abortions, as well as those who’ve suffered miscarriages or given birth to very premature babies, like I did.

Then there’s the fake accounts being set up to discredit the other side by spreading horrible lies.

And I was disgusted by the exploitation of children with Down’s Syndrome by one group. I fired off an angry tweet asking whether this group actually provides any support to children or adults with Down’s Syndrome who “leave school and face into a life of sitting at home with their parents or being dragged around shopping centres by their carers.”

Not a very balanced tweet, I admit.

When I calmed down and admitted that I know adults with Down’s Syndrome who live happy lives, I was admonished by a member of the repeal campaign because it “confuses the issue by giving undue prominence to a minority.”

That tweet left me feeling very uncomfortable.

The repeal side can also present a cold clinical tone when discussing the whole issue of abortion, and how many babies/foetuses will be affected, which I also find upsetting.

And many of the campaigners ignore what happens post pregnancy whether it’s ended early by abortion, or results in a baby being born. Everything has to be presented in black and white, but life is messy, and there will never be a solution that works in every situation.

Abortion is obviously an emotive subject, and I’d love to ask everyone involved to play nicely, but it ain’t gonna happen, is it? I’ve never liked wars, so please excuse me while I head off to hibernate. Wake me up when it’s all over.

 

This Dutch Dam is just about holding…

There’s a well known poem called Welcome to Holland that would be familiar to most parents of disabled children.

I am not a fan, but Holland has stuck in my head as an analogy for special needs land, especially as it is below sea level, so constantly threatened with being overwhelmed, all those happy colourful windmills like the educational toys we hope our children will play with, and the clogs we use to kick ass to get everything they are entitled to and need.

Holland is protected by dams, and I often think of the tale of the boy who stuck his finger in a hole to prevent the country from flooding, because my job is like that too. Constantly plugging holes in the house, the services, the disability issues, and anything else you care to mention.

I plugged a lot of holes this week, and while a lot of worry was involved, it is satisfying when a plan comes together!

You know that storm we had last night? Well I came downstairs to find a hole where my back gate should be, and found it in pieces in the back lane. Luckily, replacing the garden gates had finally reached the top of my ‘to do’ list after about 5 years, and a new gate was sitting in the back just waiting to be installed. One call this morning and the job is done. #feelingaccomplished.

Winding back to the weekend, Parkrun with B on Saturday was soggy but uplifting as usual – B was smiling most of the time, I promise!

Parkrun 13.1.18

She was also smiling a lot on Sunday when we popped into Omni Shopping Centre. I wasn’t smiling so much that day as following a couple of weeks of dodgy sounding noises, the washing machine finally decided to go on strike halfway through a wash, that included B’s favourite pink blanket…

I’d previously rung the manufacturers, and the eye watering cost of an engineering visit plus likely parts and labour would certainly be more than the machine was worth, so after 7 years of valiant effort, I decided it would have to go to that great scrapheap in the sky, and frantically googled reviews to find a good budget replacement. Then the decision whether to suck up the delivery and installation charge, or bring it home and do the work myself. That was decided by a sick child, meaning that leaving the house was not an option and I needed a replacement machine even more urgently. As you can imagine.

And I have a little tale to tell you now…

I waved off the delivery man at about 1pm on Tuesday and admired my shiny new machine, and all was well, until I tried to open the door. It simply would not budge.

I texted the delivery man to let him know, then I rang the manufacturer helpline and they sounded surprised, and told me to try again. I braced my feet against the machine and yanked with all my might, but there was a little black catch that was stuck.

The emergency catch worked, but that involves taking off the service panel, and was  obviously not for everyday use!

The retailer offered to replace it, and I was resigned to another morning sitting at home, when I was contacted by the delivery man. He was even more surprised, and so was I when he told me he’d opened the door several times.

It turns out these new fangled machines have a ‘child’ lock that you have to switch off before trying to open the door, or select a wash.

I had a very red face…

Epilogue: it’s a fabulous machine, except I cannot see the logic of replacing dials with electronics, surely just one more thing to go wrong??

Have a good week xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

A life changing week?

It could have been, and maybe it still will be, I’ll let you know… In the meantime, here are some related reasons to be cheerful…

First up: the house alarm is finally fixed: there was a fair bit of trepidation in this house about burglaries over the past seven days, but luckily no-one told the local criminals. So tout est bien qui finit bien, as my French teacher used to say.

Next up, health stuff. It is January after all. On Monday that involved the removal of the tooth with the cracked root and subsequently an abscess too. I am very relieved to see the back of it, even though it’s cost me a small fortune over the years.

Today I got my regular blood tests and a smear test too. Hopefully the results will be life-affirming: I don’t really worry about these things now, and being a 24/7 carer has given me a completely different perspective. In fact, *whispers*, I almost enjoyed all this healthcare: there I was, sitting or lying down in warm welcoming rooms, one with lovely calming music playing in the background, someone taking care of me for a change, and nothing to do but breathe.

Back to the weekend and a trip North to meet the Kerr family** who let B try out their spare running buggy in freezing conditions in a Newry car park. She seemed very comfortable and happy in it and buying one would be a great idea, but I have to look at the logistics first – she can’t travel in it, so I would need a bigger van to take it and her wheelchair and a hoist too! I need to buy a new one sometime soon anyway, before the current (diesel) grannymobile becomes completely worthless. Decisions, decisions. It could change both our lives though, and prevent existing equipment getting damaged. Also it GOES ON THE BEACH! B used to love the beach, in all weathers, but she’s not been able to access one for a number of years.

Also this week: cake and coffee out with a couple of friends, #Parkrun with B, I finished the post Christmas clean up with a little help, our lovely home hairdresser trimmed all our hair into submission, I read a whole book for the first time in ages (thanks to Jax for the recommendation), I got the car fixed, and attended a very useful meeting about B’s future (she was with me, of course).

Finally today I went to the launch of some new bungalows: they seem perfect, and the builder is happy to make any necessary tweaks to meet B’s specific disability needs. But they are a long way from Dublin and B’s service, so I couldn’t make an immediate decision. And all bar one were reserved by lunch time…. But just the fact that more new bungalows are being built is a reason to be cheerful, there’s hope that we will eventually be able to move somewhere more manageable.

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

** The Kerr family also run Aaron’s Army, a non profit organisation, that provides support to families wishing to experience assisted running and raises funds to provide them with a disability jogging buggy. I think it’s a great cause.

You Too versus #MeToo

I’ve kept my mouth shut so far on #MeToo, but foolishly I cannot seem to keep quiet any longer. That’s because of the generational divide that seems to be opening up between women my age and older, and the younger generation on the topic of sexual harassment under the #MeToo campaign.

I am sad to see so many older female icons like Catherine Deneuve being attacked for expressing an opinion on the #metoo campaign. But I actually wish they would stay quiet, or at least be a little more nuanced. Because warning of potential consequences of the #MeToo movement is fairly pointless. No one knows. The main consequence of speaking out is that the media are now salivating at the prospect of portraying this as a battle between different groups of women (just like the stay at home versus working mum debate) and this has the potential to totally obscure the original point of the campaign. So please can everyone calm down and stop rising to the media bait.

Yet here I am, speaking out too.

Because the world was a different place when we were young. And perhaps we have internalised misogyny, as was said on twitter this morning. But there was no Stay Safe programme in schools to help us work out what was acceptable, there was no internet to tell us, and we didn’t confide in our parents in those days either. We just dealt with it as best we could, and we’ve been dealing with it for 50, 60, 70 or more years, but not necessarily in ways that would be acceptable to today’s women.

Sexual harassment on the street? Change the way you dress. An older man puts his hand on your leg when you’re eight? Keep out of his way. Factory production line stops and cheers as you walk through in your suit and high heels like they’ve never seen a woman before? Hold your head up high and concentrate on not tripping over. Work colleagues bring you to a lunch time pub with a stripper? Make them sit outside.

These are some of the challenges I have dealt with over the years. I haven’t forgotten them, but I don’t think they traumatised me.

And remember I have always been socially awkward, always jealous of those women (especially Liverpool and Dublin women) who always seem to have a smart answer for any man who dared to give them grief.

Hopefully if the #metoo campaign succeeds, it will make life easier for all women, in all situations. But I don’t think that misogyny will completely disappear, I think it will just go underground and women will still need to be ready and able to cope with it at times.

Relationships between younger men and women may well change as a result of this campaign, but hopefully it will all work out in a positive way: every time I see a young dad hugging his child to his chest in a sling, my heart lifts at the changes that have already happened.

At the same time, I think that most of us older women have the confidence and experience to continue our relationships with men in the way that we choose. We shouldn’t be criticising the younger generation for the changes they want to see.

It’s true that the behaviours that negatively affected my life are not covered by the #MeToo campaign as far as I know, and I do not write about them publicly. But perhaps if the campaign really succeeds, it will ultimately improve all human behavior. And that would certainly be a very good thing.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

All the Christmas jumpers and socks have been worn, the tree needles are being walked all over the house, the laundry basket is overflowing, the fridge is nearly empty, and it’s time to reflect.

2017 was a year of three halves (yes, it felt that long). Four fairly stressful months, followed by a pretty good summer, followed by an ongoing crisis from mid September. I didn’t cope very well.

But like a frog being slowly boiled, you learn to live with the fear and anxiety and craziness, until something or someone slaps you in the face. For me the wake up moment was a photo posted by a dear friend on my timeline. I did not recognise the stressed and anxious face, and unkempt hair that stared back at me from my Facebook feed. Then that night I ground my teeth so badly I cracked a root.

Something had to give. I had to take my own advice and look after myself, even though it makes me feel guilty, as it takes me away from my 24 hour job as a carer.

The next day I began to make some changes, and I’m now beginning to feel better, even though the appointments begin again this week, the need to catch up with the housework, the admin, the maintenance, and my wish to get really fit so I can achieve my one personal goal for 2018: running the Dublin Women’s 10K in under 55 minutes. Then I’ll be able to write a post called ’55 and under’, geddit?

Anyway one of the changes is to find reasons to be cheerful again, so here’s some from the past few days….

A walk into town gave B the chance to try out her new winter coat. I think she likes it 😄.

B in her new Eskimo coat, Smiley

I began using The Book of Days. It’s smaller than the utilitarian system I adopted to manage the business of running this family, but that wasn’t really working anyway, and it’s lovely to have a beautiful diary instead 😍.

The book of days

I returned to the gym, after a break of almost three months due to family commitments. It was great to be back, and my plans to cancel my membership to join a nearer, cheaper gym didn’t happen. I couldn’t quite manage to get the words out…

ICON gyn

The baking began again. Flapjacks were made at the request of a very appreciative child!

chocolate covered flapjacks

That’s all I have for you: Head on over to Mummy from the Heart for more reasons to be cheerful and have a great week xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

Festive Greetings

Happy Christmas, Festive Greetings, Happy Winterfest, or however you celebrate, have a wonderful day.

Thank you for all your interest and support during 2017, it is much appreciated.

For 2018, my dearest wish is that all my family, friends and readers could find a way to enjoy life as much as my very special daughter. Here she is showing how it’s done…

Me abd B, Christmas 2017