Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Perfect Christmas

I've entered the Sainsbury's competition to win the Perfect Christmas - have you seen the TV ads? Snow? Carol singers? Tree? Fireworks and lots of food and drink - woo hoo!

We're in the finalists zone which is very exciting - and it has been a very welcome distraction these past few days.

The pain continues, relentless as ever. Really about resigning myself now to this may be as good as it gets. Not made any better by knowledge my post is being put at risk of redundancy tomorrow.

But hey - let's remember the Gratitude Book :-)
  • I had a nice glass of wine and long chat with a good friend this evening.
  • The tube was on time tonight and I got home in an hour!
  • It's freezing outside but we can still afford to heat the house!
  • The Vicar of Dibley is on TV and making me smile :-)
  • I have a warm bed to sleep in tonight with a memory foam topper...
It's not that hard really, we do have a lot to be thankful for.

Sleep well


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Costoplasty Clarity

I belong to a support forum for people with scoliosis. I thought I would mention that again, though most of you know already. Those who don't know sometimes seem to wonder how it is my circle of friends seems to include so many people with spinal issues ;-)

Over on SSO I've been asking for some clarity re costoplasties - a procedure that trims some bone from a protruding rib hump to improve the cosmetic appearance of your back after corrective surgery. I was booked in to have this done but in the end I was told Mr Tucker didn't feel it was necessary - he obtained a good enough correction by loosening, de-rotating and fusing my spine.

However - he did do a thoracotomy and remove one or two of my ribs so he could get in and collapse my lung, and gain access to the front of my spine to remove a few discs and loosen it up (nice huh - hope you're not eating).

The point of going through all this is I am trying to work out where the intractable pain is coming from. If you google thoracotomy it's not great news in terms of long term recovery and freedom from pain. Yet costoplasty is widely regarded as the most painful procedure. I simply cannot imagine anything more painful than the agony I went through so am grateful that didn't have to happen!

Having written it all down it seems an irrelevance now.The pain is there no matter what the source. As I write it feels like a red hot knife is being twisted below my shoulder blade. Well, how I imagine that might happen as thankfully no one has done that to me for real!

Off to get a shower and dressed, then onto a breakfast meeting with my team. Another busy and distracting day, which perhaps in the end is the best way to cope whatever the cause.

Laters xxx

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

New Notebook

Time to buy a new notebook perhaps.

Bee reading about the idea of keeping a Gratitude book. Yes it sounds cheesy but who am I to complain about a nice ripe Camembert or slice of Stilton?

The idea being, every night you write down five things to be grateful for. Seems this has been proven to help people with ailments from depression and chronic pain to athlete's foot. Well maybe that last bit's a fib but you get my gist?

I told a friend about it over lunch yesterday. Their initial reaction suggested cheese wasn't their favourite thing but as we chatted I think we both concluded what harm can it possibly do? To be a bit thankful, grateful, appreciate things more - smacks of counting your blessings and that has certainly stood the test of time.

I think the idea of a notebook is a good one. You do this last thing at night so you don't want to be logged on and have all that electronic stimulation stopping you from sleeping. I fancy a nice William Morris print notebook to inspire lovely thoughts, and perhaps a fountain pen to help me write neatly - or at least legibly.

Meanwhile - for one night, or rather morning, only. Here's some I thought of earlier.

  • Had to go into work for a meeting, the outcome of which was much better than expected
  • An old friend was around and we had time to grab some lunch on the South Bank - always a treat
  • We managed to find enough money to fly Rachel home (don't ask!)
  • Had one of those nice baths where you get the water temperature just right and could stay in there all night.
  • Slept really well, didn't wake for painkillers once
You get the idea? Still loving the notebook thought but there's something about sharing the gratitude that's kind of nice - what does everyone else think?

Wishing you all a wonderful day with lots of things to be thankful for xxxx

Sunday, 14 November 2010

To Blog or not To Blog

Hi again,

As you may know, or can work out from the dates of my blog posts, I blogged practically every day for three months. And then I stopped. Not altogether of course - I continued to squirrel away my thoughts and feelings in a journal and it still remains my aim one day to sit down with a box of tissues and a large glass of wine and read all about it :-)

In fact I may print the blog and the journal, probably in double line spacing with a margin either side, and send it off to a publisher (probably need an agent first...) as I remain convinced this story needs to be told. And read. And heard. As scoliosis is still something that so many people are ignorant of. The few that have heard of it are often misinformed and it continues to concern me that there is no screening programme to identify AIS - adolescent ideopathic scoliosis - in the early teenage years.

There used to be - that's when mine was picked up. But "back in the day" surgery was lengthy, risky and unlikely to produce a significant correction. Which of course is why I never had surgery years ago.

Why did I stop the public blog? At the time I couldn't have put it into words, other than to say that I felt uncomfortable writing about things and knowing that they were in the public domain. Someone commented to me that my blog was relentlessly positive and upbeat but that wasn't how I was feeling. In fact the time when I stopped blogging was about the time I had some kind of emotional breakdown with all the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. To continue writing positively felt like a lie, that I was deceiving myself and others, so it had to stop.

It was therapeutic to continue writing in a less public place and I am very grateful to those who accompanied me on that very difficult stage of the journey. But the point of this blog had always been to try and offer some help and support to others facing this surgery or recovering from it.If that is you, and if you would like to read more about the dark days, then please do drop me a note or comment below.

It's now a week since the intercostal nerve blocks. No real change to be honest, other than the area under my right boob/breast (delete whichever you are least comfy with) is slightly less painful. For a few days the site of the injections felt sore and stung. Now the pain is back to how it was.

However - having tried just about every prescription drug on offer I did wander into Superdrug yesterday and for £1.09 bought a pack of "extra strong painkillers" Hmmm....

200mg of paracetamol, 300mg of aspirin, 30mg of caffeine. Sounded like chicken feed. Never mind, I gave it a go and by the time I'd added in a couple of gin and tonics the pain had lessened. Always good to know there's something out there that has helped on occasion and may do so again, perhaps cocktails are the way forward :-)

Time for bed - as Zebeddee once said. More soon.

Linda xxx

Monday, 8 November 2010

Intercostal Nerve Blocks

By way of an update here is what I have just posted on the Scoliosis Support Site. With apologies to anyone who has read this already...

Home and in bed now. Somewhat delayed by my omelette taking an hour and a half to arrive. (In the end I got out of bed, feeling very faint, went to the nurses station and said if it wasn't coming then I would go home. They said "but you can't go home until you have eaten something")

I have big sticky dressings on my back, clearly have been bleeding a bit so will leave them until they come off naturally I think. The area is very sore but Mr Tucker said it may take 5 - 10 days for the steroids to take effect.

The last thing I remember prior to the injections is joking with the anaesthetist , getting a bit emotional and his assistant holding my hand, then going into theatre and seeing a pile of pillows on the operating table. I said there was no way I could get on there and lie on my tummy, Mr Kofi said "okay then I'll give you a gin and tonic" and I woke up in recovery!

Mr Tucker was as lovely as ever - but told me off when he came to consent me as I was still in my jeans knitting. He was like "get changed - we're ready for you" when clearly he was not unless he operates in a suit these days ;-)

Linda x

Saturday, 6 November 2010

9 months

Think for a moment about all that you can do in nine months...

Okay now, how many of you said "Grow a baby" ? Gotcha!

You can also live through the tail end of winter, the promise of spring, a somewhat disappointing summer, and somehow find yourself in autumn with the stores full of festive cheer. Almost a year gone, where and how?

It's three months since I blogged on here. I still keep a diary - somewhat erratically it must be said. So I do have a record of all that has gone on since my last post back in August. It doesn't make for the most cheerful reading so I'm saving it for a rainy day when there's nothing on TV and I feel like making myself miserable. I plan to sit down with a glass of wine and a box of tissues, and in one sitting read through everything on here and elsewhere. The hope is that this will bring a realisation of how far we've come, along with a new hope and optimism for the future. So perhaps be a good idea to do that sooner rather than later ;-)

The latest news in the proverbial nutshell is that I am going back into the Wellington on Monday for some intercostal nerve blocks. These are injections of steroids and/or anti-inflammatory drugs into the nerves in my spine. The aim is to stop these nerves from firing off pain signals the way that they do 24/7. In particular if I am startled, jostled, rattled, or bumped. Think commuting into London on the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines and you get some idea of what a challenge this can be. Still not driving as I could never do an emergency stop, firework night was to be avoided at all costs as big bangs are notoriously painful (a balloon bursting at a Halloween party reduced me to tears), and the busy-ness that is our wonderful capital city is a scary nightmare at times.

The jags should reduce the pain for a couple of weeks, with the hope that longer term having had a "rest" the nerve endings may be less sensitive in the future. Mr Tucker was very matter of fact about this procedure and has kindly agreed to carry it out himself, under sedation, on Monday evening. Hey - I'd only have been watching Corrie after all!

This is uppermost in my mind at the moment so little else to blog about. Other than I am of course back at work- part time - and finding that to be both a blessing and a challenge. More next time maybe!

I hope that this finds you all well and look forward to your comments, here and elsewhere. If I have not been in touch recently then I do apologise - but this is why.

Linda xxx

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Six Month Check Up

Hi everyone,

I've just re-read my last post where I said that I would blog again in a couple of weeks. Ooops - that was the middle of May and here we are at the end of July. I am sorry, doesn't time fly when you are having fun.....?

Joking apart, the last couple of months have been eventful and it feels only right to update those of you that I haven't been in touch with. The most significant event probably was going to see a pain management specialist. This was suggested by Amy, my wonderful physiotherapist, and thanks to my private medical insurance I was able to see him within a matter of days.

Doctor Berman took a full history, examined me, and was very reassuring. Just to hear someone agree that you have been through a massive surgery and are bound to be in a lot of pain makes a tremendous difference. He gave us an hour of his time and laid out the options, of which there were many. The first thing to try was a daily dose of amitryptiline and to date this has proven to be effective. It took a few weeks to kick in but it now takes the edge of the pain and also seems to make other painkillers such as paracetamol more effective. It also helps to ensure a decent nights sleep.

It's not without its side effects of course - fluid retention and a dry mouth being the most obvious. but at present they seem a smallish price to pay for some relief and compared to the last post the pain is much more manageable.

I saw Mr Tucker yesterday for my six month check up and he is clearly delighted with the results of his handiwork! The scar is healing and fading well, I have a reasonable amount of flexibility in my back (still can't touch my toes though!), and the correction is very good. I was explaining to him how I used to look for clothes in the petite department as I was so short waisted, the gap from my bra to my belt was practically non existent. Now it is a real novelty to have a waist and yesterday I brought a dress which I shall belt to emphasise this!

He went on to say that the conversations he has with teenagers about this surgery are completely different from those he has with adults. He then went so far as to say that having this done at 50 is completely different from having this done at 40! He made no secret of just how tough it is in a way that he wouldn't have done pre-surgery. He seemed to be congratulating me on toughing it out.

We skimmed over the pain issue somewhat - in some ways I hate to raise the subject as in every other respect the surgery was successful and it seems churlish to be complaining! However there are days when I want to scream and shout or thump something because I have simply had enough of it. The answer of course is to stay calm and take a painkiller, and it has to be said the post op pain responds more readily to these than the pain before the surgery ever did. Mr Tucker expects there to be an improvement in the pain as he feels it is still "early days" after such massive surgery!

I plan to return to work on 1st September and of course I am looking forward to seeing everyone again - though I have tried to visit the office on a weekly basis so that the first day/week back is not too overwhelming and emotional. When I take the train into town I am always reminded that it isn't going to be easy but as with everything else it's about taking one day at a time.

If you'd like to see the journey in pictures here's a link to a few - enjoy!

That's enough rambling for now - thanks if you have been reading this and for all your continued support and prayers.

Linda xxx

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Middle of May

Hello there,

I hope the news that I am posting hasn't popped up as an unexpected and unwelcome alert in your inbox! Just re-reading my last post there is a certain finality about it, and when I wrote it I genuinely felt that I had come to the end of the road as far as this blog is concerned.

However I am aware that some of you are very kindly still checking in from time to time, and I am touched by this and by all the messages and texts I still receive. I therefore thought that perhaps I should post an update here from time to time to let you all know how things are progressing.

We left things in a very positive place but unfortunately that seems to have been the calm before something of a storm. Just a week after seeing Mr Tucker I was emailing his secretary with various questions. Mainly to do with the increased levels of pain I am experiencing - and my fear that this means something is wrong.

It is really too early to know if there is a problem with the fusion - one of the things I find so difficult is not being able to relax and know that all will be well. It is also hard to know how much of the pain is still post-operative and how much I will need to learn to live with. I suspect when I saw Mr Tucker there was still some morphine masking things but once that had gone I was aware of a "pulling" feeling where the curve is being stretched out, of nerve pains where the nerves are re-growing, of tenderness and aching where my rib was removed, and of the general feel of the metalwork in my back. The pain is there all the time and I long for some respite from it.

Mr Tucker assures me much of it is muscular as my muscles scream at being used again. I have started hydrotherapy and been swimming (rather unsuccessfully to be honest!) and every extra bit of exercise makes the pain worse. He suggested Voltarol as well as paracetamol. Today I have sneaked in a teensy bit of codeine too. I am trying to wean myself off my hot water bottle after the incident I cannot remember which led to the nasty burn on my back. Presumably I fell asleep on top of it at some point and didn't feel anything due to the numbness of my skin :-(

The worst thing of all however was the ghastly depression I experienced at the tail end of the withdrawal. I wouldn't wish such an experience on my worst enemy - the horrible bleak black dark empty misery and crying for days. It has lifted now - though it leaves you feeling fragile and I still cry easily and often - and I understand it is another common symptom of drug withdrawal. I have learnt so much these past few months - much of which I didn't want to learn!

I want to go back to work but that is in the hands of HR and the Occupational Health department. I have another couple of weeks signed off and to be honest it's probably 50/50 whether I will be fit enough. I miss everyone, I miss Christian Aid especially this week, and I miss London.

However - the big exciting news is that tonight I am in fact going to London to meet Sarah, Jayne and Jemma and go to the O2. Our Christmas pressie :-) The journey has been meticulously planned, the painkillers timed, the restaurant with the comfiest seats has been booked. I can't wait to enjoy a proper evening out and fully expect to cry my eyes out.

Do please keep in touch -I always enjoy hearing from you and thank you so much to those who have come to visit, sent cards, emails, texts - means a lot.

Will post again in a week or two.

Linda x

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

What a difference a day (or two) makes

Good news. The worst of the withdrawal symptoms appear to have abated. No longer lying in sweat soaked sheets shivering, aching, unable to sleep and constantly vomiting. Diarrhoea has subsided, headache almost gone and slept six hours last night...

Even better news... Went for my twelve week check with Mr Tucker this afternoon. X rays show a good correction (along with every one of the fourteen two and a half inch screws!) but a bit early I think to see if the bones are fusing (apparently that appears as a "haze").

Mr Tucker asked what painkillers I am taking and when I told him was astonished. "Is that all?" being his reaction. He did ask me if I had gone "cold turkey" and his face was a picture as he clearly knew what that would have meant for me. I hastily explained I would always have opted to get it over with quickly rather than drag things out over several weeks or months, but accepted it is not what he would have advised :-)

And so - it's okay to have a bath - hoorah! To swim - how good will that be! Not to wear the brace - Hallelujah! And I can even drive - a miracle! Only restriction now is no heavy lifting, and obviously to listen to my body and not overdo it or my muscles will "scream".

Home now - cleaned out the bath with Dave's help (no one has used it for three months - the boys all like to shower...) and cannot wait to fill it with fragrant warm water and soak in the bubbles. Alas that is not to be just yet as Ian does need to be in the house in case I get stuck!

Will go for a swim tomorrow - hopefully. There is a warm pool next to the hospital in Stanmore which is heated to 32 degrees especially for spinal patients. And may just have a little glass of wine to celebrate all of this too.

In many ways this seems a better place to leave this blog. I'm signed off for another month which will be spent exercising, building up my muscles and strength. There's a lot to be done in terms of building up my confidence too - you don't go through something like this and emerge unscathed - or maybe you do but I didn't. It's knocked me quite simply for six and it will take a while to be the person I was. Or maybe I won't be that person but someone different - our experiences make us the person we are and this has to be up there with the big ones.

I'm pleased I kept this blog - I still haven't read it myself and think I probably need to sit myself down with that glass of wine and a box of tissues and do so slowly, carefully, prayerfully. Thank you to all those that have read it and shared the journey, who have commented or contacted me after reading, and who have held me in your prayers and thoughts over so many weeks.

I've re-discovered a real passion for writing and when I stopped this blog a few weeks ago continued to keep a journal which will I think be part of an ongoing journey of self discovery for many more weeks, months or even years to come.

I feel I am about to enter rambling mode so will finish now with, yet again, my love and thanks to you all.

Linda xx

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

It's been a while...

... but I thought I would just post an update on here as many of you have been kind enough to say that you miss the blog, or have asked how I am doing. Thank you.

The past few weeks haven't always been easy but I guess I've made slow progress. Funny now to look back on the early days with rose-tinted specs - I don't remember the pain much at all, but I do remember sleeping lots, lying in bed, not worrying about anything (much!)

Things are going well enough but there is no way I will be back to work this week which was the original plan. I'm still in considerable discomfort, and badly need to exercise and build up my strength and stamina. I also need to build up my confidence as it's so true what they say about how something like this affects you emotionally. I went out on my own for the first time yesterday - just a walk to the library - it was a real effort and I burst into tears the first time someone spoke to me!

I've had a shockingly ghastly week since taking my last dose of morphine too - worth mentioning as a warning in case anyone else ever finds themselves on strong opiates. Please don't do what I did - I was naive and thought that if I stopped the tablets the pain would increase. That I thought I could cope with, and planned then to switch to something milder once I knew what the level of pain actually was without the drugs.

I didn't expect sweats, chills, shivers, diarrhoea, vomiting, aching all over, insomnia, restless legs, itching and constant uncontrollable crying. But that is what I got. Hopefully at the tail end of all that now but still unable to eat more than a tablespoon or so of food and surviving on smoothies and soup.

So as well as gaining two inches I have lost - oh I've no idea - at least a stone. There's room for two of me in most of my clothes and whilst many see this as a good thing it freaks me out. I know I need good nutrition for the fusion to "take" and would love to look forward to and enjoy a nice meal. Hopefully that is more likely now I am not taking morphine.

So - signed off for another month but my aim in the coming weeks - if my consultant agrees tomorrow - is to become more mobile, exercise some more, start to get out in the garden and see some friends. I was pre-warned that I would not feel up to visitors for a while and that has been so true. Thank you to those who have popped in and put up with my tearful ramblings, and apologies to anyone else - perhaps now might be the time if you do fancy a visit so I'd love to get a text or email from you.

Won't ramble any more for now, thanks all for your continued support, prayers, positive vibes and messages.

With love

Linda x

Friday, 9 April 2010

Maybe, maybe not...

I'm not sure if I am going to carry on blogging.

Just lately it's felt a bit "samey" with little to laugh - or even smile - about.

There's stuff in my head I'd quite like to get straight but I am not sure this is the place, maybe I will take a break.

Meanwhile - I googled this evening to see if there were any other online accounts of how long it takes to recover from scoliosis surgery. I found a really useful site (I've already written to thank the author) and I really admire her honesty. If you'd like to get a feel of what I've not managed to say check out but in particular the post op and extended recovery pages.

She's much braver than me when it comes to constipation, and more honest when it comes to shaving your legs :-)

I'd like to hear from you as if I don't blog for a while I can still email you updates. Perhaps when things feel more positive I'll give it another shot. Maybe this is just a stop at the Motorway Services on the Journey to recovery. The Little Chef of Looking for Linda maybe?

Au revoir


Thursday, 8 April 2010

It's a Small World...

I can't resist a quick post to explain the comments on the last one...

I'm not feeling good about googling images - I know I should be out there taking my own photos but just now that's a real challenge. However - some good has come of it!

There I was googling daffodils and it brought up a blog site with links to some other blogs. I recognised a name, clicked through, and sure enough it was someone I have come to know through the scoliosis support organisation. What were the chances in the vastness of cyberspace? It wasn't like I was googling back problems or scoliosis - just daffodils!

So lovely to have magnumlady's blog to follow now - and I am inspired to get out there with my camera tomorrow and take some pics of my own (yours are amazing!)

Been a looooooong day and as expected dinner was the pitta bread and hummus. Dave coming down with a cold and feeling lousy. One for the p and pv people please - the last thing I want or need right now is a dose of those germs :-( Ian not due home for another two hours so going to sleep and see if he can sneak in without waking me up...

Night night all xx

Spring has Sprung but...

The sun is shining and I expect many of my lovely colleagues - and friends and family elsewhere - are envious of me sitting in the garden enjoying this early spring sunshine.

The reality is so different - and I feel a little more honesty than usual coming on here! I am stuck in bed and Ian is on another of those stupidly long late shifts. So he left at 1.30pm and won't be home till 12.30am. Grrrrr.....

Reason I am not in the garden? Well the patio door is rather heavy to slide open for starters, but the main problem is we don't have a comfy garden chair. This will be rectified - I've asked Ian to buy me one for my birthday! But until then it would be very uncomfortable sitting out there on an ordinary chair, and trying to get in and out of a deckchair would be impossible - and hilarious.

Whilst I'm trying to reduce the painkillers the pain is pretty bad (note the subtle understatement there...) so the last thing I need is not to be comfy. I'm going to stay here on my memory foam mattress with my hot water bottle.

Went for my physio this morning ie: a walk in Ricky and round Waitrose. So frustrating (yes this post is a bit of a self indulgent misery fest) as I picked up various things and realised they would end up in the compost bin in three days time having passed their sell by date without being cooked or eaten :-( Fresh green beans - yum - but cannot lift a pan of boiling water. Nice stir fry perhaps? Nope - can't lift the wok! Ended up with a few ready meals but reality is I'll eat pitta bread and hummus or french bread and brie with some dried apricots and activia yoghurt for obvious reasons :-)

Were it not the Easter holidays of course Dave would be home at 3.30 ready to rustle up something to rival Dhruve (still gutted for Alex.) But he's out and about somewhere with his mates - as I often say to my inner-city friends this is Enid Blyton country! We live by a canal and river, next to a natural moor. There are endless woods and orchards nearby and a huge park with trains, pools, activity things and a cafe. There's public transport - bus and tube - into Watford and Harrow for cinema and shops (slightly less Enid Blyton). The children really have grown up going off on their bikes and coming back when they are hungry. Though they don't even do that since they opened a kebab shop at the top of the road! Hmmm......

No point moaning - hopefully the weather will hold out until I get a nice luxurious sun lounger and besides Ian only has to do three of these horrid shifts. I shall catch up on some reading, some letter writing and maybe (to please the Boss) have another go at the West Wing :-)

If all else fails there are a lot of Easter Eggs around and I have lost rather a lot of weight....!


ps: I am not sure but somehow something happened and a screen came up with something about networked blogs and next thing this is one of them and some of you are being asked to verify I am the author. I really don't "get" what this is all about and the rather scary thing is people seem to be asked to "rate" this blog. Blimey - I am starting to feel the stress the Masterchef finalists were under. This was never intended as a literary masterpiece - simply a way of inviting a few friends to share the journey - what have I got myself into....?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

System Restore

Sorry no photo - not even a stolen googled one - sorry.

This post is primarily a reminder for me. A marker in the sand. A system restore point if you like.

I am going to try and manage without diazepam. Or at least with half the dose. As most of you know I am pretty much off the dihydrocodeine now. Still need the slow release morphine of course and reckon the Voltarol is also pretty significant. Plus paracetamol of course - though I've reduced the dosage there simply by sleeping later and missing the 6am dose...

But the diazepam is bothering me. Basically it is a sedative, to reduce anxiety. It has muscle relaxant properties so I guess ought to help with the pain too but I think it may be what makes me so sleepy and may contribute to my tearfulness.

I'll give it a day or two and if things worsen I can think again but for now I am looking at the little white tablet in tonight's pill box and thinking "nah...!"

The quicker I can get off all these drugs the quicker I may start to get back to normal in all sorts of ways - so p and pv's requested please - thanks!

Had a chat with my Boss about returning to work today - will speak with my lovely HR advisor on Friday too. Would be lovely to get back to the office - I miss friends, colleagues, and contributing something worthwhile. But feels unlikely I'll be ready in three weeks time which is when my certificate ends (where did that time go?!)

Maybe less drugs, a bit more time awake and re-learning to concentrate, some hydrotherapy and a decent haircut and I'll start to feel like I could take my place back at work.

We'll see - and if/when I doubt that I'll come back to this post and remember it did feel possible tonight.

Oh - gutted Alex missed out on Masterchef - I had started to love that guy :-(

Linda xxx

The Post-Birthday World

For those of you unaware of the significance of the title of this post it is a book by Lionel Shriver that happens to be one of my best ever reads. I couldn't resist stealing the title and hope she doesn't mind :-)

Here you can see my splendid birthday cake. Paul made it. He borrowed a Kenwood mixer, bought a piping bag and whisked it up instead of watching the Newcastle match on Monday night.

That is what he told me. Later on he confessed he asked someone who makes very good cakes to make it for him/me. Still a lovely thought and I think he - or perhaps Sarah - were responsible for the chocolate button decoration. Very nice. Thank you. I can forgive the White Lie as you did confess eventually :-)

Birthday was very nice - lots of cards, lots of pressies, messages on Facebook, texts, emails and phone calls - thank you all. I was hopeful that the day's scheduling had worked - had several lovely visitors in the morning and slept from 2 till 6. Really had hoped to be up for a lively evening with the children and perhaps even that glass of wine. Had decided what to wear and even planned to straighten my hair etc...

Sadly was not to be. In spite of the siesta I felt pretty rough still. We did pressies in bed and decided on a takeaway. I did make it downstairs for about half an hour and managed some egg fried rice and a glass of water (don't laugh - it was very nice!) then a cup of tea and slice of the above cake.

After that it was back to bed and remarkably back to sleep! I have no idea how I can sleep so much but people tell me it is my body healing itself in the way it knows best. Nothing to do with boredom then.....

And so - to the pressies! Thank you all so very much. Way too many gifts to mention and it would be completely wrong of me and unfair to single out any particular present as special so I am definitely not going to mention the Boyzone CD as something I was particularly thrilled and delighted to open. Surprised too as it said on the wrapping it was a football! And on the subject of very special presents I shouldn't single out the little Angels that I tell all my problems too and they fly away with them either... so I won't ... oops... :-) Best pressie of all was of course having the children all here but missing Rachel SO much. Skype and Facebook are great but virtual hugs really not quite the same. Hurry home for a proper one soon and we will celebrate Christmas, Easter, and all our birthdays in October!

As most of you know, I am trying hard to cut down on the medication in the hope my tummy problems will improve and I may be a bit less dozy. (It will also please my GP who understandably would prefer to write less scripts for Class A drugs.) The side effect of this is of course more pain so I am going to stop now and snuggle up with my hot water bottle and snooze away a couple of hours till it's time for some paracetomal. (Paracetomal! I thought they were for colds and 'flu - not spinal surgery - how can they possibly be strong enough? I miss my dihydrocodeine :-( )

May blog again later - there has been a request for a post about the Teddy Bear's tea party and I would hate to disappoint my Boss :-)

Thank you all again for messages and if I don't get around to replying then I am so sorry - I am trying to - honestly.

Linda xxx

Monday, 5 April 2010

A Teddy Tale

Dave has for some time been reminding me that there has not been a Teddy's Tale on the blog. I don't like blogging for the sake of it but have to admit I've also had a fair bit of hassle from Scruffy, Boofle, Spotty and Teeny Tiny Bear so even though I've blogged once already this evening I guess it is only fair to give them a voice...

The thing is this. Cuddles and Nigel (in his lovely new jumper) have taken to sleeping in bed with us. In fact they have taken up residence pretty much day and night. I'm not sure how it happened - perhaps one day when the sheets were being changed Scruffy, Boofle, Spotty and Teeny Tiny Bear politely moved out of the way and sat on the dressing table, perhaps Cuddles and Nigel hung on to the side of the bed, ready to climb up and sneak back in when no one was looking. They were under the pillows for a while - we didn't even notice they were there. But then I had a few bad days (you can always look at previous posts for details...) and suddenly it was nice to find them (probably when I was rummaging under the pillow for a tissue...) and have a little cuddle.

This may sound very soft and soppy if you are not a Teddy Bear - or even a soft toy - person. But this is a good point to reiterate - if I haven't already done so - that pretty much every photo I've seen on here or other forums of friends (known and unknown personally) in hospital beds or somewhere recovering from scoliosis also includes a soft toy or Teddy of some kind! Never underestimate the comfort a Teddy Bear can bring when you feel lonely or poorly...

But back to the main point of the story. Cuddles and Nigel have been getting a lot of attention, and not just from me. Keegan likes to sleep cuddled up next to me (she rather likes my hot water bottle...) and will often grasp hold of one of them. Basically the other Teddies have been neglected and probably feeling a little bit jealous.

The thing is though - just because I haven't seen as much of them doesn't mean for one minute that I haven't been thinking about them. I've been wondering - guiltily at times - where they are. And when I saw Scruffy I realised he had definitely had a lot of attention from Keegan - perhaps his little hot water bottle needs filling as he's looking a little the worse for wear :-(

At times it has been the bears in bed with me that I've taken somewhat for granted. In fact when I haven't felt like a cuddle with Keegan I have given them to her instead! And just because I haven't seen the others doesn't mean I've not been thinking about them - I knew that soon enough they'd turn up!

We're all back together now - as you can see from the photo they staged a sit-in on the Netbook until I paid them some more attention. But that wasn't necessary. I knew they were there without them making a fuss or feeling neglected - I just hadn't managed to let them know. But I've been dozy - from the drugs, from the pain, from the emotion of it all, and this has made me rather selfish at times - sorry :-(

So there we are - the Teddies are happily reunited, Newcastle are back in the Premier League, and in just about an hour I will be more than half a century old - plenty to celebrate! I wonder what would happen if I had half a glass of champagne along with all my pills tomorrow?

Time to sleep - if we can - the bed is rather crowded :-)



Tomorrow is my birthday - woo hoo! The image I posted last year was rather different - I turned 50 in South America and captured the moment as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. This year the pic is sadly stolen (again) from Google but I have to say that cake does look rather appealing...

So - I am sitting here looking forward to tomorrow - but wondering how I am going to stay awake long enough to enjoy it! I still spend much of the day in a drug induced doze and my daily physio - ie walk - usually means spending the next two or three hours flat on my back...

A few of you wonderful people have said that you'd like to pop round tomorrow and that would be lovely - perhaps late morning might be a good time? I promise to try and be dressed (or at least in clean and decent PJs...) and will make a supreme effort to wash my hair and dig out the lippie. (Yes, I confess standards have dropped since those early days when I wouldn't go a day without doing my hair and make up...)

After lunch I think I need to factor in an afternoon nap/siesta/snooze as I'm looking forward to seeing the children in the evening and would be rather rude to fall asleep on them ;-) Not quite sure what we are going to do - last time we tried to all eat together here I couldn't get out of bed! And as for a birthday drink it may well be Orangina... nevertheless it will be good to see them and catch up on news - better be interesting or I may fall asleep again (sorry Sarah/Paul/Dave - only joking of course!)

There may be a little tea time window between sleeping and seeing them though so text if you do fancy a cuppa and who knows we may even find a slice of cake.

I'm sorry if this all sounds rather regimented but the fact is I'm still bed-based and ridiculously tired. If it's true what they say about Beauty Sleep I'll be absolutely stunning by the time my spine's fused :-)

Anyway - enough of tomorrow - still over three hours to go before I turn 51! Back to today - and we went for a lovely walk along the canal - see the photo below - ahhh!

Probably the furthest I've walked so far - around two and half miles - and yet again I came home to lie flat on my back with my trusty hot water bottle for a couple of hours. (Thanks Deb for the company though!) It's frustrating - no doubt about that - but I have to remember what massive surgery I had done just 8 weeks ago, and how fortunate I have been not to have suffered complications. It's just a question of being patient...

Home alone this evening but for very good reason. The boys are watching Newcastle play over at Paul's. One point secures promotion back to the Premier League - more cause for celebration if that happens. We deserve a good result after Watford were robbed this afternoon - equaliser in the 95th minute grrr.....

I'm enjoying a soap fest and am about to track down an Easter Egg. Thanks to you all for your continuing lovely good wishes and see/speak to/hear from many of you tomorrow.

With love

Linda xxx

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter. I hope that you have all enjoyed today - whether that's meant celebrating the resurrection of Christ, spending time with loved ones, catching up on some long overdue DIY (or iplayer) or simply taking some time out from the busy-ness of everyday life.

It's been good - I think - to see many stores, supermarkets, Garden Centres even, closed for the day. Reminds me of when Sundays were different. Annoying perhaps if you'd run out of something - milk, soap powder, or just time - but also a genuine excuse - reason actually - to do a little less, slow down, spend time being rather than doing. Is it just me or have others also noticed a number of tv programmes about Easter and its meaning? I watched an interesting exploration of various atonement theologies which took me right back to my third year at Theological College. Again it's seemed right to acknowledge this significant Christian Festival in a way that seemed to have been lost over the past few years. (I read some shocking statistic which said that one in three children think we've been marking the Easter Bunny's birthday this weekend...!)

Whether you're a believer or not it's surely hard to disagree that children ought to at least know why at this time of year we enjoy the benefit of two Bank Holidays in one weekend and don't grow up thinking - as some apparently do - that it all came down to Cadburys?

Usually we'd host some kind of celebration here - invite friends and family over for food, drink, conversation, games. This was impossible this year and we discussed as a family what we might do instead. The honest truth was I didn't feel able to do anything. I can still only sit for 40 minutes or so, I possess no appetite and stupidly overactive tear ducts. I just wanted to let the day come and go - and in the end that's what we did. Yes we watched a bit of the Grand Prix - I fell asleep. Yes Dave put Doctor Who on iplayer - I fell asleep.

I eventually woke up around three when it was lovely to see my mum who popped in for a visit with chocolate eggs and carrot cake - thanks mum! Around 7pm Paul and Jem turned up and Ian somehow magicked up a roast dinner from nothing - well the freezer. He is seriously going to be up for Masterchef next year - look out Alan Hansen :-)

We watched Jonathan Creek - well I started to as I fell asleep - and now everyone's asleep except me - as of course I have been asleep most of the day. Nice to have Paul and Jem staying over and the lads off to Vicarage Road tomorrow. If Jem doesn't go perhaps I can ask for a manicure :-) Ian and I have been invited to join them at Paul's in the evening to watch the Newcastle game (they have Sky TV) as it has huge promotion significance - what do you reckon? Apparently I could lie on his sofa - hmmm - not managed that on ours yet so we'll see.

What't the point of all of this rambling? Maybe it's something to do with me learning to go with the flow. Yes I love the parties and celebrations and get togethers - long may they continue. But it is also okay to just "be" and see what comes along. We've got food, warmth, books, laptops and tv if all else fails. How often do we arrange things because we feel the need to be busy. Wasn't it Colin Firth who praised the benefits of spontaneity? Easy for me to say all this when I'm surrounded by family perhaps but I have spent many long hours and days on my own these past months - a new experience. I've realised being alone and being lonely are not the same thing. Something to explore in another deeper post perhaps - or others may care to comment?

For now though thank you all again for your Easter greetings and look forward to hearing from many of you in the coming week. If you would like to visit drop me a text and come armed with Kleenex - this week is filling up but the one after looks good.

Much love and Easter blessings

Linda xxx

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Day by Day...

I'm determined to keep up the habit of blogging daily. But some days like today it's hard to know where to start. Or finish.

I'm pleased it's the last late shift Ian has to do for a while, though it's been lovely to have visitors today - apologies to you both for all the tears but I don't think anyone turning up who's been reading this can say they weren't warned. In fact it was brave of you both to come and sorry I wasn't a better hostess or more cheerful company.

Graham accompanied me on a walk to the Co Op as I wanted to get an Easter Egg for Ian who has been with me on every other trip to a shop. I am such a sad geek I googled and AA route-mapped the journey when we got back and found we'd walked 1.2 miles. Phew. Four hours flat on my back with a hot water bottle and four morphine tablets later I was almost human again :-) I wonder what aches tomorrow will bring - especially now I am halving the dihydrocodeine. Boy do I ache this evening...

Was lovely to see Lisa and always fun to show off the scars for the first time. Even if you saw the pics on here they are pretty impressive in the flesh. In fact I wish I could see them myself - I am reliably informed they are healing beautifully so hopefully the bio oil is doing its job. Also good to hear that plans for the Big Lunch are well underway - I hope to be there even if I'm not going to be much help organising it.

Nothing very profound to say today and no picture - sorry. Hopefully Easter with its wonderful reminders of new life and resurrection will lift all our spirits so I hope that you have a Happy and Blessed day.

With love

Linda x

Friday, 2 April 2010

The Hills are Alive...


There is something on TV other than chopped veggies and relocation programmes. It's a Bank Holiday so of course The Sound of Music is on - one of those films that you don't actually have to watch because you have seen it so many times before. It's just kind of on in the background while you get on with all those other important things you have to do. Like... erm... well blogging for starters (building up to some more thank you letters, knitting and perhaps watching a dvd later - but that may clash slightly with the TV....)

Today's not a great day - they never start well after a difficult evening/night before. And reducing the drugs is never easy. Confession time - today is the first day since I started getting dressed that I haven't got dressed. Ian's working, the weather is rubbish and even if neither of those were a fact I think my body is screaming out for a rest. I've really tried to push the physio ie walking but all of this and especially the long trip out on Wednesday seem to have created aches and pains in places I didn't know could ache or pain. So today's a bit of a duvet day in my Eyeore PJs...

I'm not sure if I have said before what a great GP I have? Went to see her yesterday evening and as has already been ascertained I was not having a good day. Through the tears and the snot we managed to work out what's going on - apart, obviously, from the pain. She very perceptively pointed out that I've come to this experience/journey very well prepared and with very realistic expectations. I've a great group of supportive friends I have met through the Scoliosis Support group and each of those who is post-op has been kind enough to take time explaining to me what to expect. (Though lovely Simon did point out to me this week that it was hard to convince me how tough it would be - I guess we all expect to be the one who defies all expectations!)

However - until I actually did decide to go for surgery I was pretty ignorant of what to expect. As I was so incredibly fortunate in having to wait just two weeks ( I am almost embarrassed to say that here when I know how many friends have been waiting or waited months or even years) it was a steep learning curve (:-)) and for two weeks I was pretty glued to Google - when I wasn't trying to clear my desk at work. The fact is though I knew - and I know - that this is a long painful journey - it has been said to be worse than open heart surgery - and the reality is it may be a year before I am back to "normal" (I wait now for all the jokes about me never having been normal... :-) )

So - back to the consultation with my GP. In terms of how I am coping she was very supportive and complimentary. The more challenging issue - and one maybe causing me so much upset - is perhaps how to manage the expectations of those who - like me a few months ago - know less about this condition, the treatment and expected recovery process and timeframe.

To be totally honest in spite of all I have just said I am surprised myself at how much time I still spend in bed - I am sure there are people out there who cannot believe that is still the case 8 weeks post op! I am horribly frustrated at how little I can do for myself, let alone for others. Unexpectedly home alone last night dinner was a cup a soup and cheese roll - nothing wrong with that but I wasn't really supposed to have lifted the kettle! (Ian has left a flask today but I also have Dave here who's going to cook a roast ;-) )

Of course I have lots of lovely friends, family, neighbours I can ask for help - please don't any of you be offended. But that is not the point. It is the sheer frustration, having gone from someone who was working full time in a pretty important job in Central London to being someone incapable of picking up anything I drop without one of those Grabber things I'd previously only seen used by the cleaners on the London Underground!

But I am getting off the point. What I'm trying to say is I know this is normal and par for the course and to be expected. But I feel sorry if I am letting down friends and family who expect me to be capable of doing so much more. I am sure I seem very dull, boring, miserable and negative just now and that is one of the main things that is getting me down. I don't even need people to tell me I am not those things - I just need them to say that it is okay to be that way.

Unfortunately as my GP and I agreed there isn't much I can do about that. However Julie Andrews may just have provided the answer - perhaps what I need to be doing is thinking about My Favourite Things...

And so I will leave it there for now and go and ponder on Warm Sunny Days, Beautiful Sandy Beaches, Hot Deep Bubble Baths, Chilled White Wine, Walkers Cheese and Onion Crisps, the music of Westlife, my wonderful family and, whisper it quietly, Daniel Craig...

I'm sure that I will say this again but a very Happy Easter to you all.

Linda x

No Blog Today

As I typed in the subject line I realised I have used it before (Google kindly reminded me). At some point I will look up that post to see if I felt as rotten as I did today.

I don't want to blog it as I don't want to come across all miserable and negative.

Suffice to say that tomorrow is another day. I'm sad I can't get to church for Good Friday service, will have to be sure to give due reverence to the hot cross buns Dave's promised to pop out for in the morning (as I forgot to buy any.)

For now I shall lie here and wait for Ian to get home from this stupidly late shift so that I can turn the light off and get some sleep and escape from the pain...

Happy Days


Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Tough day

Hi everyone,
This will be brief as I am exhausted. Ian was off work today and we decided to go and visit a very close family friend who is in hospital very poorly. We needed to go the bank first and the trip to Ricky provided a twenty minute walk up and down the High Street so we went from there directly to pick Dave up and head for the hospital.
A lovely visit - everyone pleased to see everyone, but cannot deny the half hour drive and forty minute sit on a hospital chair was tough on my back. We called in on my mum on the way home and I must have been the most antisocial visitor ever as I sat on her sofa with my freshly filled hot water bottle.
Another half hour drive - even with pillows and the hot water bottle the potholes and traffic got to me. Had been out five and a half hours and came straight home to bed. Dave really knows the routine now - where to put the pillows including one under my knees - and exact position for the hot water bottle.
No dinner, not even a cup of tea :-( Just some juice and fruit and nut mix I could nibble lying down. Was determined to stay awake so I get a good nights sleep and that's the plan for five minutes time!
Guess I achieved a lot and it was a worthwhile day. Be interesting to see how things are tomorrow especially as I have a GP appointment and probably another conversation re cutting down the pills....
Oh well, made a change from watching people chop veg...would only have made me feel guilty about not getting my five a day today anyway :-)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Yes, I have officially had enough of daytime television. Well, more specifically of watching semi-celebrities chopping veg and "chucking" them into a pan where they have "sloshed" some olive oil. In fact it's not just semi-celebrities. It's celebrities, it's chefs, it's people like you and me. And it's not just daytime tv either, we've just switched off Sophie Dahl and I said to Ian that this has to be the subject of my blog today. Vote now - the other option is how much pain I am in at the moment and I think we've all had enough of that just recently. Brief update however - my right arm and shoulder blade are hurting like crazy again, hence typing hurts, hence this will be brief. Unless I get carried away on the subject of raw vegetables...

Haven't really got that much more to say about them to be honest - other than who actually watches this stuff - other than those who've just had major spinal surgery and can't reach the remote of course. I'm sure I have ranted about daytime tv before and to be honest the makeover and relocation programmes get to me too. But today I was struck by just how much food is prepared, cooked, analysed and consumed throughout the average tv schedule. Maybe this is what has spoilt my appetite? I'd an email from a friend today who reliably informed me my pain is not caused by the surgery but by daytime tv and chick-lit. He may have a point but what are the options? I do have a couple of boxed sets but I am incapable of viewing them through a playstation (sorry - I am a dinosaur). Before you suggest it - this netbook has no drive and no software to view dvds. I so have a Macbook but I am not allowed to lift it (for the same reasons I am not allowed to lift the kettle with more than one cup of water in it - very green but not very sociable...)

I could read more intelligent books. Well, in theory I could, but I have tried and miserably failed, I finished a book today - woo hoo! In fact I will recommend it to anyone looking for an easy read for the tube - "Foursome" by Jane Fallon. I became aware of her when I was attracted to (and purchased) her first novel "Getting Rid of Matthew" which had nothing at all to do with how I was feeling about my boss at the time ;-)

I have another book to try and get into tomorrow, but Ian is off so we may do something exciting like walk round the block, wander to the post office, go for a coffee or even a pub lunch! The options open up enormously when you have an arm to lean on...

I've strayed from chopped veg, daytime tv and even the pain I am in. It's almost time for lights out as Ian was up at 5 for an early shift today. That means a long night - perhaps I will try to get into that book now...

As ever thanks for all the emails - and the cards too. I admit to having a "grabber" so I can pick up the post before Ian gets home now - always lovely to see some cards amidst the bills and junk mail - can't believe they are still coming to be honest, thought you would all have forgotten me by now ;-)

Sweet dreams


Monday, 29 March 2010

Cuddles from Keegan

Taking pics with a camera phone isn't easy is it? It's especially not easy when you are lying on your back, in pain and dopey from painkillers...

So I took a fair number of pics when I was trying to sum up this morning (not This Morning the tv show... as previously discussed it was Eammon and that lady today, not Phil and Holly...). Rather I was trying to sum up what it was like lying in bed this morning. Most of the pics are horrid. I have a pained expression on my face, the inch long roots are now clearly visible, and my nightie I have grown to hate. So this is the best of the bunch and rather sweet I think it is too as it does show the way in which Keegan spent the morning cuddling me...

Unfortunately I then got up for a shower and to make some lunch and - bless her - she simply would not leave me alone. Weaving between my legs and licking my toenails (she seems to love the bright red...) I was terrified I was going to trip over her and fall over. I knew too that as soon as I put my lunch on the bed and attempted to get comfy she would start to nibble the rocket. It all got too much and a. I shouted at her b. I burst into tears because I shouted at her :-(

Disaster as she looked at me - shocked - then lay out in an appealing sort of way on the bed as if to say "how can you not love me...?" But I wasn't to be won over that easily and before long she had hidden behind the bedroom curtain - clearly in a sulk.

We made up - eventually - I have a supply of Whiskas Temptations for such moments - the feline equivalent of kissing and making up I guess. But it was rather sad that I'd had such a massive falling out with my main companion for the day. Wondering if perhaps I need to remove my toenail varnish? That would be a shame - it cheers me up.

Didn't get out until Ian got home - a brisk walk to the post office just in time to catch the post for an important parcel. Back home for a jacket potato and Monday night soap fest. Just watched the last Married Single Other which is good as it gives me a legitimate reason to cry. That little boy is so adorable... and such a good actor.

Bottom line today is my back aches and my scar is bl**dy painful. In fact all of them are. I'm wondering if the Tiger Balm caught it at some point yesterday. Going to disappear now and get Ian to rub some Bio Oil into it and see if that helps.

Not a very exciting blog - sorry about that. Please do send me your news - it has to be more interesting than mine at the moment...

Night night xxx

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Better day

Today's image is hopefully rather more cheerful and appetising than yesterday's? I keep meaning to take some more photos myself but the options are a tad limited just now - though I realise I've not really posted a pic of this room - or of my lovely displays of cards which have in fact grown since I first mentioned them. Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has sent me a card - they really cheer the room up. Meanwhile with apologies for copywrite infringement I have again stolen this from Google.

The stolen image - of the glass of wine - illustrates the fact that Ian and I went to the pub this afternoon. Locals will know it - the Scotsbridge Mill - and very pleasant it is too. Very convenient too after another trip to Waitrose again in the hope that I may see and suddenly fancy something (the Daniel Craig jokes are a bit boring now - we are of course talking about food, especially since I lost 4lb last week - people would pay to lose weight at the rate I am doing...)

Ian and I had chatted about whether it might be nice to have a glass of wine. The doctor, anaesthetist and pharmacist had all said that nothing I am taking meant I really cannot drink. That's not what the labels on the boxes say though! I wondered if it might cheer me up, improve my appetite, make me believe that life is or will at some point return to normality.

In the end though I bottled it. A cloudy apple juice and a packet of crisps. Guess I'm just nervous about the drink/drug combo. Besides - I've pretty much told people I'm teetotal these days and let's face it I'm a cheap date :-)

Ian cooked a great dinner which I ate in the comfort of my bed with a hot water bottle behind my back - having sat for way too long this afternoon. And we watched the final of Dancing on Ice. Am I the only one who prefers this to Strictly and thinks it deserves a Saturday night slot? Torvill and Dean's new version of Bolero was mind blowing. The only thing that spoilt the show for me was the sheer cruelty of making all three finalists dress in their Bolero outfits when only two were going to perform - how disappointing must that have been? Oh - that and the lovely Holly's dress. I truly admire her but what was going on with those shoulder straps? Up or down? would have been better snipped off I reckon. And sorry but the colour did nothing for her.

Who I am I to talk - proud of myself when I get out of my nightie and into joggers and some kind of t shirt. Sorry Holly - love you really - not that you are reading this of course. Guess you are at the Wrap Party as I see it's Eammon and his fiancée on This Morning tomorrow - will be timing my nap accordingly.

Ian is back at work tomorrow. We are organised- another important step forward in coping. Plan is to go to the post office on my own. Perhaps during This Morning in fact? Have bought nice rolls etc to make lunch and Dave has been instructed to leave only one cupful of water in the kettle or I cannot lift it (imagining 999 call here - help I cannot lift my kettle and I am dying for a cup of tea...)

Waffling when should be starting to snooze - early alarm in the morning. Lovely to speak to you all and do please reply in whatever way you like best...

Night night xxx

Saturday, 27 March 2010

This really isn't much fun

Most of you lovely followers and friends seem well aware of the reality of this journey so I hope you don't mind what I hope is a relatively rare moment of absolute honesty...

This really isn't much fun.

I'm trying hard to keep the blog upbeat, to see the glass as half full. Where there's a glimmer of hope, positivity, good fortune I latch onto it and try to persuade every fibre of my being to express gratitude. I know there are thousands - millions - far worse off than myself and I frequently tell myself to shut up whingeing, not long and I'll be back at work. Commuting on the Met and Jubilee Lines - now that really is something to complain about...

Seven weeks post op things must be improving. It's hard to see that at times - especially when I have really pain-filled days or even on days like today - after an "appointment" when plans are cancelled as all I want to do is curl up with a hot water bottle and sleep. Only I can't curl up of course - I have to lie on my back. That has to be one of the most difficult things to do.

Rehab is, I think, going quite well. I've progressed from walking to the loo, to walking hospital corridors, to stairs, to the corner shop, to the Cafe (which involved a hill) to various Garden Centres and even the Harlequin and tea in M and S. The thing is though - every step of this is painful hard work. I'm fortunate to be getting out of the house and seeing some nice places - much of this could be done on treadmills and machines in a hospital rehab centre. In fact that may start soon if the physio decides not to opt for hydrotherapy (another one for P and PV* please...)

But each outing is an enormous effort, often involves tears, and usually means when I get home I come straight back to bed and sleep. Today's been like that, even without the planned supermarket visit. We got back from Leavesden and I slept for three hours - doesn't bode well for tonight I know. And then I woke up miserable and tearful. Ian had made delicious sausage and mash with lots of veg and onion gravy (bangers and mash being one meal that works very easily for a veggie in a meat eating household) and I decided to eat downstairs with Dave and him. The pain was unbearable, sitting upright on a stool eating from the table, I lasted about five minutes and dinner was wasted. In floods of tears (it's been a very soggy day) I came back to bed and ate a pot of ice cream lying on my back! Have to say it was delicious - Waitrose Organic - Strawberry flavour. But it wasn't sausage and mash and I didn't fancy eating that lying on my back - sorry!

The point here isn't to paint a miserable "woe is me" picture, honestly. It's just to try and somehow explain the reality. I'm wary of saying too much as I know some of you are facing surgery yourselves. As I said to Dave this evening - it is very easy when we opt for surgery to say that we have to write off three (or maybe six...) months, expect and cope with the pain, and know that we have "future-proofed" ourselves against a wheelchair bound old age with respiratory problems. Easy to say but less easy to live through. Even with all the support in the world it's impossible to deny it is tough to be in such pain and to feel so useless. There are so many things I long to do - not least support and help other friends and family members. The most useful thing I did this week was wipe the windowsill (the sunshine - lovely as it is - made the dust and sticky patches way too obvious!).

Hopefully tomorrow I will write a few more letters - I genuinely enjoy doing that (just wish I hadn't lost so many of your addresses when I changed computers...). We will probably get to the supermarket and I will try to blog something more cheerful. I'm sorry for this less than positive post - perhaps I just needed to get things off my chest as already I feel brighter for sharing with you all.

Thanks by the way for offers of lists to hydro/physiotherapy - will definitely take you up on those once we know more.

Palm Sunday tomorrow - will be sad not be be in church watching the children march around with their branches. I'd love to go but the reality is sitting in a pew - even if I took several pillows - for more than ten minutes or so -would finish me off for the day. Even so it is the start of an important and Holy Week and I will endeavour to find some way to mark and remember it.

Enough rambling - I can tell these days when my posts have gone on rather too long. Thanks to you all for reading. Night night.


*Prayer and Positive Vibes - thank you ;-)

Never been quite so relieved...

First of all the good news is somehow I got around 7 hours sleep last night. No idea how this happened - though I was pretty shattered and hadn't napped in the afternoon/evening which may have helped I guess.

Woke at 7.30am and made a supreme effort to eat/take pills/shower/dress/make up etc etc and get to the pharmacy for 9am. Phew - will I be exhausted later! Sat down with the pharmacist to explain the nightmare issue described in yesterday's blog - without managing not to cry. She was very kind, said she would go check the computer and be back soon.

You've guessed it? Thirty seconds later she emerged with the morphine. It had been dispensed and I guess placed in the controlled drugs cupboard - not placed in my bag or given to me. The relief was totally overwhelming, I cannot begin to describe how I felt when I knew that I now had enough decent pain relief to see me through the week.

We bought some croissants and pain au chocolat (the co-op does these suprisingly well...) and came back to bed. Important appointment at 11.30 so maybe blog a bit more later. I'm thinking perhaps today's outing could be to Asda and suspect Ian may need a little persuading that this is "A good idea" Bless - he'd prefer to wander round a garden centre looking at bags of grit and topsoil - guess it's our differences that bring us closer huh?

Can feel I am rambling - look forward to hearing from you all soon. Much love as ever.

Linda x

Friday, 26 March 2010

Not such a good day...

A pretty awful day in fact. I ached all over, all day. The pain reminded me of just post-op, when I was being turned in HDU (ouch!) and didn't know what to do with myself.

We thought of all the possible reasons - Ian in particular is a solutions sort of person. Maybe a little too many walks this week? Steep hill to the Cafe? Too much time trying on clothes in M and S? The usual muscles/nerves healing and settling thing? We went and bought Tiger Balm on Rachie's recommendation - about to give it a try.

It wasn't till late this afternoon that I figured out I probably forgot to take the slow release anti-inflammatory (Voltarol - that I love to hate) this morning. Ouch - if that's what it is like then the thought of stopping it any time soon is not something I'm relishing...

Then I got the long awaited call from Stanmore re the hydrotherapy. Or so I thought. Actually it is an appointment for an assessment - on land - and not until 16th April. Not worth taking my cossie then and have to say I'm disappointed it's not sooner. We'd hoped to get at least a few sessions in before Ian goes back to work as of course he is my main source of transport (even the shuttle bus from the tube is out of action apparently :-( )

The final straw however was when I came to sort out my pills for the coming week. It's not a job I particularly enjoy (breaking all those little foil bubbles plays havoc with my fingernails) but I am very organised. I have all the drugs on a little chart and methodically pop them into the correct little boxes so that when it is time to take my pills they are there lovingly waiting for me without me rummaging in various bags and boxes.

Disaster - there is no morphine for the coming week. How this has happened I have no idea. Two options I guess - error on the script or error in dispensing. I can't see how the error is mine other than I didn't get all the boxes out in the chemist shop and calculate how many I needed to see me through to my next appointment on Thursday - should I have done? I will do next time for sure...

Sod's law it is Friday, and neither the 1st nor the 3rd Saturday tomorrow so no surgery open. Guess we go along to the pharmacy and explain the situation but my big fear is I'll not be able to get hold of any more. For good reason these are controlled drugs - I assume we'll need to get hold of the on call doctor and persuade them to write a script for morphine when they know little of me (though my scars and x rays may help of course...)

Added problem of course is pharmacies don't generally stock Class A drugs as we have discovered - they need to be ordered in. And in the UK it generally works best not to be sick at the weekend if possible - things seem to slow down and I am scared even if we do get the script no one will be able to fill it. Last time we had a problem like this Sarah called round all the large pharmacies in the district and no one could help.

So - I can't help feeling apprehensive (for that read **** scared) at what the weekend may bring if we cannot get hold of the little brown pills. I guess we can up the dihydrocodeine again and there is still some Oromorph hanging around (bring on the oral thrush :-( ) but I reckon I will be climbing the walls. Definitely something for the prayers and positive thoughts please - that the pharmacist will have a little box sitting there with my name on it that he forgot to pop in the bag maybe? Or if not that we can get hold of a sympathetic doctor, a script, and a pharmacy with the stuff in stock...

That's kind of it for today. Dave really wanted me to blog about my new clothes and how dressing nicer makes you feel better - reckon he's been checking out the Teddies! But just now the only thing on my mind is p-a-i-n and how to prevent it.

Hope all of you lovely people have had a good week and that the weekend is a sunny one for you in every way possible. Clocks go forward - one less hour of pain (does it work like that...?!)

Sleep well


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Wow! Look at these amazing images!

It's been a challenge - but at least something of a distraction! The original x rays and scans of my spine arrived in the post this morning. In some weird and wonderful format but I've managed to convert them to jpeg files ( feeling a bit smug and proud of myself) so I can share them with the world.

Above left is actually a slice from the MRI scan and for anyone in any doubt I think it shows the extent of the curvature - 66 degrees and deteriorating rapidly. Above right was on a previous blog post but worth repeating here I think. According to the disc it was taken in theatre and shows what I now know to be the 14 two inch screws along with the titanium rods and various hooks. The observant amongst you will also see the chest drain which gave me so much grief :-)

These side views are perhaps less impressive - though if you look carefully I think you can see the lordosis reduced. I am hoping that means my tummy will stick out less, coupled with the weight loss and height increase look out Elle Macpherson :-)

Joking apart - I am trying to work out just what a difference the surgery has made to my BMI. One huge surprise has been to realise that for years I had maintained I was five foot 4 and a half - or even five foot five - tall. Looking at the various reports and records here I see I had shrunk to five foot three and a half! Hence my disappointment when measured post op and was just five foot five and a half (and rounding that up slightly to five foot six - convinced the measuring thing was inaccurate!). I had expected to be around five foot seven!

Anyways - have gone from a BMI of around 25 (considered overweight!) to about 22 - without depriving myself of anything I like! Though I guess being teetotal for 7 weeks may have made a difference...

Anyway - this post is in danger of becoming rather long and geeky so will stop for now and begin the long, painful, arduous task of getting showered and dressed. There are days when I genuinely wonder if it is worth it but refuse to succumb to nightie and dressing gown all day!

Look forward to your comments on my amazing pics - I reckon my surgeon deserves a knighthood!

Linda xxx

New Clothes

I think we're all pretty much agreed that a new outfit can make all the difference to how we feel. It was good to get out yesterday and I am really grateful to Sarah for helping me choose how to spend my M and S vouchers.

As yet I don't have a photo of me in my smart new linen trousers and nautical top but I suddenly remembered someone else had a new outfit that had not yet been shown off. In fact I was flicking through some photos from other friends with scoliosis and seeing their Teddies (you really cannot get through this surgery without soft toys for company) when I realised the Teddies here haven't had a mention for a while - I will have to correct that soon.

Meanwhile as a "taster" here we have Teddy Nigel in his new jumper - no longer branded by his purple T Shirt and, I have to say, possibly not looking too happy about it. Maybe it will take some getting used to...Personally I think it is rather fetching.

Perhaps some more proper blogging later - not much planned for today as very sad to be missing an event at work that I had really hoped to be well in time for. When the date was announced and I'd realised it was seven weeks post op it had never occurred to me that I would still be in bed and in so much pain. I had hoped to turn up, see lots of friends and colleagues, enjoy a number of very gentle hugs and perhaps even sip a glass of white wine... guess I am learning to be patient but not very patiently.

Anyway - morning morphine has kicked in so time for a nap. Laters xxx

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


The days fly by so quickly. I guess that's inevitable when you spend so much of them asleep. I've just woken up after another three hour "nap" and I know that sounds daft when sleeping at night is such a struggle. But what is the alternative? It's not like I snuggle up and think to myself "let's spend the afternoon asleep". I lie here on my back - as I do much of the time - and after a little while my eyes grow heavy ad I can feel myself nodding off and that's it - next thing I'm waking up - at least one day further away from the op and hopefully one day closer to less pain...

Slight change in routine today. Rather than nap this morning I forced myself to get showered and dressed early enough to go for a walk with Ian and Sarah before she left to go home. Walked all the way to Cafe Amici which for the locals amongst you will know involves a fair amount of hill walking. Arrived early enough to claim the comfy sofa - this is becoming a habit - and enjoyed a cup of tea and bite to eat. Ian opted for scrambled eggs - not sure why at first (he's more of a coffee and muffin guy usually) but then it occurred to me that he is obviously determined to perfect his own version and overtake Dave as my Mastereggchef. Apparently these were fluffier than his own so he'll be practising - I can see egg wars breaking out Chez Anderson this weekend...

Writing this short paragraph has - as ever - taken a ridiculously long time. At least we're just a few minutes away from some more painkillers. The reduced dose is incredibly obvious no matter how much I try to pretend to myself it shouldn't make much difference. Roll on 8pm and the morphine - when - as Sarah says - I may start to talk nonsense but at least I stop whingeing!

One final piece of news - Nigel (the Teddy) has his new jumper. It just needs a little bit of sewing up the sides - too much like a hospital gown at the moment. Will try to finish and get a photo on here - I realise it's rather a text heavy blog so have just taken a look through my phone and found a rather fetching photo from yesterday of Keegan getting to know Sarah which I will leave you with - enjoy!

Much love and do keep writing - seriously - your messages keep me sane and the cards brighten the bedroom. I love hearing from you and it's been great to renew contact with some old(er) friends - thank you.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Visiting a different kind of centre...

So today we didn't go to the Pond Place or the Garden Centre - much to Ian's delight we went instead to the Harlequin Centre. I'm a "Premium Club" member and consequently had a lot of vouchers for M and S about to expire...

Thankfully Sarah came too, it was like having a personal shopper with me as she picked out a nice pair of comfy black linen trousers and a very on trend nautical top, whilst walking along carrying my coat, bag etc :-) Nice to have something to wear other than my three pairs of joggers... just need to feel like going somewhere to wear something a little bit smart now.

It was time to sort out some new underwear too (turn way now if too much information) - my body having changed shape rather dramatically post-op. The lady in the fitting room was very chatty, very attentive and very interested in my op - I guess these scars are going to be a talking point for some time to come!

Trying on just a few items and I was absolutely shattered so we adjourned to the Cafe. We go there a lot - Premium Club customers get one heck of a lot of vouchers for the Cafe as part of the deal - but usually on a Saturday when it is packed. I'd often wondered how you managed to get a seat on the comfy looking leather sofa and discovered the answer is to visit at 5pm on a Tuesday...

Sarah is still here and cooked a delicious dinner but there is no doubt the reduction in painkillers has made a big difference. I've laid in bed all evening doing precisely nothing. No interest in TV, the book I'm reading, knitting or putting anything on here. Sounds incredibly dull and boring but surprisingly not - just trying to keep the pain at bay is enough to be getting on with.

One nice piece of news is that Keegan has definitely decided she likes Sarah. She has - for the first time - been to snuggle on her lap this evening. Hopefully the feeling is mutual and Sarah's body language actually does mean "I love you too". Very nice to have Sarah staying again :-)

Someone asked what we have planned for tomorrow. Impossible to say really - so much depends on the pain. Can't deny I long for it to be gone but have to accept that is likely to be a while away yet.

Night night


Monday, 22 March 2010


... as feared, reducing the dose of dihydrocodeine by half at just lunchtime and early evening had a dramatic efffect.

Only this morning I was basking in the warmth of so many lovely messages saying how much more positive I - that is the blog - has been sounding. It was impossible to believe that I and the author of those posts were one and the same person as I lay on my back this afternoon fighting back (nah - tell it as it is - succumbing to ) the tears and grateful I'd bought fresh packs of ten on the outing to Waitrose at the weekend.

As ever Dave was a star - hugs and hand holding are what you need in these situations. Lovely to have the big kids here too tonight - missing Rachie though. Hope she is reading this and booting up Skype!

Once I'd had the evening dose of morphine things settled down. I need to keep reminding myself how fortunate I am - especially when I hear of other friends whose surgery and post-op recovery has been complicated. I am in good hands, healing well, with loads of support from family and friends. The living room ceiling is getting plastered tomorrow (can't say I'm not jealous...) so we may escape - Sarah and I having suggested to Ian that the Harlequin rather than a Garden Centre may make a nice change :-)

So hopefully a decent night's sleep ahead - can but dream!

Much love to you all

Linda xxx

Down with the Drugs

Just a quick blog to say that I've seen my lovely GP today and she is understandably anxious about the huge quantities of controlled and Class A drugs that I continue to consume each week (still over 200 pills...)

And so the time has come to think about reducing them. Well not just to think exactly. To reduce them...

We had a nice little chat and I volunteered to come off the Voltarol - never much liked it anyway. But she was honest and said she really isn't that fussed about me taking it. I've also given up Oromorph but that is kind of cheating as haven't taken it for a week. I'm not taking any more lactulose since it started making me vomit so what's left? Well paracetamol of course but the bottom line is morphine, dihydrocodeine and diazepam are what really need to go. We've agreed it will be the dihydrocodeine first - and we'll just half the dose. But it still feels pretty scary to be reducing the analgesia when the pain wasn't quite under control before :-(

Mr Tucker assures me the physio and hydrotherapy will help with the pain.Meanwhile I have become chronically dependent upon my hot water bottle.

May blog again later if anything exciting happens. Was nice to bump into a friend in Ricky and have a chat - reminds me there's life outside these walls. I've written some more letters and even done some knitting - things looking up for sure.

Must go - am missing Countdown :-)