Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 9 February 2016
I have been sitting in my silence.
Sitting in my own pool of fear, which seeped under the doors and through the windows.
I have been awaiting the Endoscopy, which everybody had an opinion about.
Have the sedative.
Don't have the sedative.
At 7.45 this morning the 'oosbind drove me to the hospital.
Checked in to the Endoscopy unit which is open seven days a week, all day every day. Are you listening Mr. Hunt.
Went and sat with senior nurse Sally who asked me my name, age and an assortment of medial questions.
Then into the Endoscopy room. Monica, the Portuguese nurse, talked me though the procedure. I've learnt during this marathon ordeal, not to ask any unnecessary questions, not to speculate and to trust that my meditation and calm thinking will get me through.
it certainly did this morning.
Mr. Sharma shook my hand then put on his latex gloves.
Monica sprayed my throat with a banana tasting spray,to numb the back of the throat, I was then instructed to lie on my your left side, in with a green gum shield with a hole in the middle.
I breathed deeply, intercostal diaphragmatic breathing, down went the tube with the camera attached. Looked liked ET's finger. Took pics round my internal world, routine biopsies of a polyp in the stomach, three burps and up I sat.
The whole procedure tok about 5 minutes.
I shook everybody's hand and filled out a form telling the hospital that everybody involved was wonderful.
I waited for the read out, Jim came in to the cubicle to listen with his ears. The polyp, was being sent off for diagnosis, a little bit of gastritis in the stomach and a little inflammation in the duodenum. So nothing really to report. Exactly one hour later the old git drove us home.
The phone kept ringing from my army of supporters, and at 10.25 I was allowed to eat.
A lovely pea green soup, I made yesterday.
I may have to have a barium meal since the instructions were to check my swallowing. Apparently I had said I had difficulty with swallowing - I don't know where they got that from - still any results that I need to know will be sent to me by letter.
I have to face a consultant on March 10th to try and establish what is causing the pain, but each test eliminates another area of concern.
So now at 11.15, the damp grey morning has been taken up with sprays and form filling. I'm going to slide into the bath, read and remind myself that I am totally healthy, its just some buggering thing that's causing the pain.
Maybe I swallowed something on my American tour, although I think it was mostly my pride.
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum, Ad Infinitum | 28 January 2016
Its a cold bright day. My fingers are cold, only just put the heater on in the attic, haven't been up here for ages.
Spent most of my time in front of logs fires, which Jim has lovingly laid.
Tuesday night my doctor called at 7.00 p.m. Anybody that says the NHS are lazy should visit my surgery. They start at 8.00 and finish God knows when.
So there I was lying on my bean bag, flanked by two hot water bottles, when the phone rung. The scan is all clear, theres a bit of this and a bit of that, what you would expect for a woman of my age, but in the main its very encouraging. However, the pain is still rampant so I'll be referred to a specialist that will hopefully identify the problem.
I'm no longer living under a shroud of fear.
But our world was turned upside down.
Last week little Solly was taken to the vet. He was the runt of the litter, he was silly, funny, fluffy and endearing. He was rescued by us from the dawter and her errant friend who, on a hangover whim, decided to spend more money than sense buying him from a shyster in Hackney.
Solly came to live with us. He was nurtured, fussed over, fed, watered and generally spoiled to within an inch of his overgrown coat. We loved him.
The Hackney shyster sold a dud. For however beautiful Solly was - and he was - Solly had a faulty heart. From the moment we got him his breathing was shallow. We, as you do, ignored it, burying our heads in the dunes.
Last week we took him to the vet, he had 220mls of fluid drained from his chest. Two shaved patches on his lovely fur, and a four different drugs that had to be administered.
In one week I learnt how to roll the meds in bits of smoked ham. He gobbled it up with relish, including the bitter pills.
Yesterday, at 11.15 we took Solly back to the vet. The pills were the highest dosage they could give, but still the fluid was building up. So at 11.25 our dear little cat was laid out, on his blue and white towel, and given a lethal injection.
Too short a life, too short. Jim cried, I cried. The vet cried with us.
The cottage feels empty. The Guernsey sweater he slept on, in the wash, his bed, and toys removed. His eating dishes put away.
And the attic, where he nibbled my work boards and played with my pens, where he opened the box of cat biscuits, littering them over the carpet, my room where he tore chunks out of my chairs and climbed into the plant pots, feels lonely and cold.
Of course it will pass, but in the middle of my aching distress we've lost a delightful little life. A mischievous ball of warmth.
King Solomon Bywater you will be sadly missed.
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 21 January 2016
To you all, a big thank you for your love and support.
Last night I didn't sleep at all, watched the National Television Awards, from the comfort of my bean bag and two hot water bottles. Given that the awards are voted on by 'Sun' and 'Heat' readers, it's not surprising that the whooping and hollering, the 'Impact Award' for an Irishman's torso and the acceptance speeches, were lame and embarrassing. Although I was happy to see Suranne Jones and Billy Connelly being honoured.
I finally fell into a fitful sleep at 4.30.
Ate before 8.40. A litre of water before 11.40. Into the car and Jim got us to the hospital on time.
Sat in the tiny waiting room with a woman in a wheelchair nursing seven broken bones in her leg from a car accident, a high octane woman with Cancer and a waxen faced man who slowly fainted on the chair next to Jim.
Had the canula put in my arm vein, then sat until a Nurse from the Phillipines moved me to another room.
My coat and dungarees left in a ball with Jim.
I was taken into the cat scan room. Lay down on the bed, thick socks and shoes still on, wearing a blue hospital robe, when the bed moved. An American voice told me to 'Breathe, hold it in, now breathe out again.' She spoke to me twice as the bed moved back and forth. Then the nutse put the dye in.
'Are you allergic to aahodeen?' he said.
I didn't understand.
'Are you allergic to shell-fish?'
Ah! Iodine.' I said. 'No I'm fine.' I said.
The dye flowed into the canula and my body went hot - which is what he said would happen - The American voice told me to breathe in and out and, 5 minutes later the Phillipino nurse told me it was all done.
I climbed off the bed, the line out of my arm and a big gauze pad put over the tiny hole.
Jim brought me my clothes and we left. We had to stay within the hospital grounds for thirty minutes in case I had any reaction, and then off we drove.
The whole procedure had taken two hours, the nurses were wonderful and the old git just as perfect as could be. Thank you to the NHS.
After oat cakes, parmesan cheese, a mug of home made soup and some crackers with tomato I was exhausted. The psychological trauma I had put myself through was daft but now I know what to expect I will be more circumspect should I ever have to have another scan.
Into a hot bath, after which I slept for two hours. It's now six o'clock and I'm in front of the fire.
Two weeks to wait for the results.
Positive thinking, walking, hot water bottles and home made soups is on the menu, hopefully by February 4th I will be up and running - well at least fast walking.....
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 19 January 2016
Put on a big puffy jacket, had my pyjamas and thick socks over my suede clogs, and left the house in the frosty morning.
The earth was hard, paw prints frozen in the mud. The grass white and crusty. Sounded like I was walking on cardboard boxes.
A strip of pink announced the morning.
My body was warm and my face frozen, like swimming in the Blue Lagoon.
Birds whistled, crows cawed and the distant hum and whoosh of cars. Rush hour in East Sussex.
As I climbed the slope into the field the sun shone onto my left side. My shadow, bigger than me, accompanied me in the hedgerow. As I moved up the hill my shadow grew taller, then skinny, then massive on the logs in the farmers shed. By the time I reached the avenue the sun was on my right and I was shadowing myself on the Eucalyptus trees.
My big puffy jacket and skinny long legs. The chickens cackled as I walked past them.
Last night I gave a talk to Rotherfield WI. Started at 8.00 finished at 8.45. My life story in 45 minutes. I could say that just about sums it up, like black plastic bags full of a life at a house clearance. But that sounds dark and it wasn't I had a wonderful time. The tea was hot and sweet the audience sweet and warm, by the time I crawled into my car I felt life coming back to me.
I covered my pain with a thick pair of tights and a loose dress. The women told me not to worry about the scan, that everything would be ok. The women, all 35 of them, clapped my recovery.
So it's Tuesday night. Tomorrow the accountant and Thursday the scan. I have pictures in my head of me falling to my knees in relief and then I have pictures of me falling to my knees in despair. Whatever it is it will be dealt with.
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Posted by Jeni in | 10 January 2016
8.45 on a Sunday morning. January 10th.
There's a light grey stillness outside, all the decorations have been swept up and the cats are waiting to be fed.
Him and her are asleep upstairs. Later on we're driving into Hackney to collect some things, then drive home again with a boot full of creativity.
It has been a full, family Christmas, with 11 mouths ravenous for my particularly moist turkey, 9 full stomachs for my Boxing Day gammon, and 6 overloaded bellies for my New Years slow cooked lamb.
The trimmings were easy, the exchange of gifts touching and the settling down for games and Quentin Tarentino in front of the big log fire, was worthy of a Drew Barrymore film.
It all came and went in the blinking of an eye.
Friday was funeral day. Hundreds of mourners at The Jewish Cemetery in Bushey for the sudden death of a dear, dear relative. As men, in skull caps, Trilby's, and other hats to cover their heads, stood separate from the women. The mourning men, their black boots sinking into the cold Hertfordshire clay, watched the coffin being lowered into the ground. The women, clutching their handkerchiefs wept quietly, as their men took turns with the shovel. Three spade loads of earth over the simple coffin. So many men the grave was nearly filled to the top with the cold slippery clay. As we all traipsed back to the assembly point, washing our hands under running water, scraping the mud off our shiny shoes, hundreds of us shivered as the Rabbi closed the service. Then we all drove back to Harrow to eat funeral food.
In a small room with a giant television screen a loop played of the deceased man with his wife and children. Weddings, holidays, the happiest of times, the man buried but one hour since.
And Jim and I collected our car from a driveway that a neighbour had offered us and set off back to Sussex. 7.30 start home by 3.00. A full working day of mourning.
In the car my mobile rung. We were listening to Miles Davis, cool blue music. It was the doctor with the results of yet another blood test. A Doctor with as much bedside manner as the gravedigger we'd just left behind. He left me strangely numb as he told me that all was not well, then the phone went bubbly, the sound of clucking chickens, and the phone went dead.
So I wait for another scan.
Confusing health is a leveller. That the three of us are together to deal with it is remarkable. I am not who I was before, I am considered and on hold.
2016 is the Chinese Year of The Monkey, a year of curiosity and mischief, well we'll see won't we?
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 21 December 2015
Two parcels to post, so I drove down to the local Post office. The postman, a delicious Asian man, with long pointy fingers and the patience of Meher Baba, weighed the boxes, put them in a sack and wished me a very good Christmas. I wanted to buy his lifesize skeleton for the dawter but he had just sold the last one...
Driving round to the village and the radio had an expert talking about the many aspects of memory.
Years ago - if I remember correctly - I made a film about a man who invented smells.
The olfactory system is the sensory system used for olfaction, or the sense of smell. Pass a smell under the nose and pictures and memories flood the senses. He had made a box, containing six little phials, from Vanilla to Coal stoves. Christmas fir trees to newly washed clothes, stables and cooked cabbage. The box was called ALL OUR YESTERDAYS. Using his knowledge of the olfactory system he traveled round Nursing homes wafting the scent under the noses of the elderly, then people who hadn't spoken for months opened up. People who were inside their own private world opened up. The flooding of the senses and suddenly their minds were flooded with pictures and stories.
Being asked to remember made them remember, being asked to share their stories helped in their healing.
If I smell the littler bottle of 'coal fire' I am 8 years old, begging my mother to let me fill the coal skuttle with shiny lumps of coal from the cellar. Not a cellar at all just a coal hole outside.
If I smell the clean washing phial. There I am on tip toes hanging out my mothers washing. Using the prop my father whittled to hold the washing line in the air, the sheets and shirts dancing in the wind.
The resin of pine, the divine smell of Vanilla, and there's the taste of my mothers custard.
I have always had a very acute sense of smell. I can invoke the smell of clove oil even chocolate. Indeed if I want to eat something, and I haven't got it, I'll conjure up the smell then I can almost taste it. It s a lot cheaper than Waitrose.
So there was Jane Garvey talking about memory. The rain on the windscreen, the Christmas lights everywhere and I was transported back to 1960, the reflection of orange tangerines on the wet pavement.
The smell of sweet grapes, the whiff of Turkish Delight, the whoosh of roast potatoes, the magnificent aroma of mince pies. My mothers kitchen. Condensation on the windows, crisp celery in a jug. The promise of promises.
The serial this week is about George Grossmith, a music hall comedian who became the star of 'Gilbert and Sullivan', the first eight bars of 'I am a Very Model of a Modern Major General' played out in my little red car and I was instantly transported to the wings of the school stage. The anticipation of my entrance, the beating of my heart, the smell of the grease paint, the thrill of a packed house, and before you could say 'Pirates of Penzance' I was thirteen again, bringing the house down, getting all my laughs, and giggling at the coffee stains on the Major Generals white leggings.
My mother and brother in the chorus, my life's work unfolding before a rapt audience.
I could almost taste the sweet smell of success.
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 10 December 2015
This morning I took the 10.09 train to Charing Cross sans hot water bottles which have been pressed to my body for nearly two months. Pain and more pain have been my constant companions since October 5TH. I've seen more medical practitioners than an episode of Holby City - but looks like I'm finally out of the woods. Me, Mrs Crankology, has resorted to two lots of antibiotics, pain killers and prayer!
So this morning the old git dropped me off at the station. I then took the Bakerloo line for two stops, changed to the Central Line and arrived in White City five minutes late for a one line voice over.
Five minutes later I was out of BBC Media City heading back to the tube.
Had a phone conversation with the dawter who is going through it. Last week had her phone knicked from under her nose, then last night her coat, with her Oyster card and headphones, knicked from the same place. Horrible when your kid is in such turmoil.
The train arrived immediately. Shepherds Bush, Holland Park, by Notting Hill Gate, the carriage was full.
Immediately opposite me sat a black 'dude'. Armani Jeans top. Black wooly hat, headphones, shiny Firefox trainers and a 'Thinkpad' which he pulled out of his backpack. Yes of course he was wearing trousers but I couldn't identify them. Three seats away was a Chinese girl, wearing headphones. She pulled a little red sketch pad from her bag and a thin nibbed pen. She opened the pad and let the pages fall to a picture that she had drawn, using the pen she added lines.
A young couple got on. A small woman, wearing a headscarf and holding a cookie in a paper bag, her face shiny and radiant and her husband - I assumed - in Western dress, they sat down between the black dude and the artist. The smell of the giant biscuit filled the carriage. She took small bites and let the sugar melt in her mouth. I could taste the vanilla. Not one crumb left on her lovely lips.
By the time we got to Queensgate a huge black woman, wearing a headband, and carrying a big bag had filled two seats. Next to me sat a finely sculptured young woman with a nose ring and dangly earrings. She was picking grapes off a stalk out of her bag. I wondered whether I would have shared them out.
I don't know what it was but I was overwhelmed by the group of us in the carriage. All jiggling along together towards Lancaser Gate. The sweet smell of cookies, the deliciousness of difference, and then my thoughts turned to the turmoil of the last two months, the pain that my kid is in, the nastiness of Donald Trump, the injustice of this Tory Government, their vile policies, and I started to cry. Not sobbing but the kind of silent tears that roll down your face. I was discreet. The absolute calm of the carriage, I sniffled a bit and I felt the hand of the girl next to me.
'Are you okay?' she said gently. And she stroked my shoulder then put her hand on my thigh and held me.
'Are you sure?' she said.
I was utterly moved.
'I was just thinking.' I said.
There was a pause I was going tell her about sharing the grapes. But I said again. 'Just thinking.'
Marble Arch, Bond Street, I was getting out at the next stop. She was travelling to Bank.
'Do you want to tell me what you were thinking?' Her concern was touching.
For three stops we talked. She had been a video editor, worked on a film featuring a black man doing rope work in a big tent. She watched him, over and over as she edited his moves, and confided to her friend that thats what she really wanted to do. 'Go for it.' said her pal. So she gave up editing, aged 23, went to circus school, and now 6 years later she is a high wire performer, living her dream. For the next few days she's working in Syon Park then back to Bristol where she lives. This beautiful young Sri Lankan woman had crossed all boundaries on a British tube train. Touching and talking, listening and sharing.
I left her smiling as I walked into the chaos of Oxford Circus - a far cry from her big top.
I told her that when I come back in my next life I'm going to be a free climber. Using my finger tips on the edge of mountains, swinging my body through the peaks, with no safety net.
She smiled as if it were all possible.
Some would say I have lived most of my life without a safety net, but I've never smelt the mountain air.
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 14 November 2015
February 22nd I broke my arm.
Lingering chest infection from American airlines and air con.
A collapsed back from July to October.
And just when i thought it was safe to go back into the water on October 5th I got Shingles.
I was told by my health team that it was a result of being run down, immune system low, that it was about low self esteem and a feeling of failure. All and some of it true.
November 14th and Paris is reeling from the aftermath of ignorance. Dead people, the victims of Governments selling each other arms and not taking into account that when ignorant people get frightened they hate. They hate everything from Vietnamese waiters to a teenage music fans.
All my aches, and plans - and let me tell you that Shingles is the single most painful thing I have ever experienced - pall into insignificance when a moments imagination rests with the parents, relatives, and friends of the victims of unbelievable cruelty.
And will the suicide bombers go to Heaven? Will their acts of desperation taken them to a better place?
We are all asking what is to be done. We all have had enough of living under the black clouds of terrorism. As long as there is an arms race, as long as the powers that be trade one gun for another, as long as we invest in war - not peace - then we will continue to witness the vicious circle of injustice.
I am sending the only thing I can send, love and light. To Paris, to The Refugees, to the poor, homeless and to all the victims of greedy governments that simply do not listen.
God help us all.
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