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 :-)


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Keep on keeping on...

...that seems to be the general message from all you lovely people who keep messaging me in response to the blog. I'm not sure if there are still issues commenting or if you are just shy but either way thank you - your support means so much and I feel a lot less lonely with you all there.

Today it is not the rib pain but the scapula pain that is driving me insane. I think I could write a poem there - but let's not bother. Suffice to say it hurts in a scarily horrible fashion. Heat (oh how I love my hot water bottle) and rest seem to be the only way to get any relief - I am hastily typing this whilst waiting for the pain to start again and cause me to stop. GP tomorrow for discussion re analgesia and fearful she will wish to reduce drugs when pain barely controlled - another one for prayers and positive vibes please...

I wrote a few more letters today. It is possible yours is in the pile on my dressing table. Sadly I am missing a lot of postal addresses so it could be a challenge getting them to you but I've overcome a few challenges in the past few weeks so what's this one? I have faith in the power of Google/Facebook/Christian Aid/ the good old grapevine - I will get your letter to you somehow!

I heard from someone this weekend who for various beautifully expressed reasons is closing their Facebook account and thinks perhaps they are "analogue" rather than "digital." I wonder if perhaps I am a little bit like that. I've really enjoyed replying to your lovely cards with pen and paper - though I am appalled at how bad my handwriting has become. I'm not quite ready to give up on Facebook - but not that far from it maybe...

Other than that today's highlight was a trip back to the Garden Centre for more Pond Repair supplies. The pond is drained, repaired, refilled, thank goodness. Apparently Keegan was a huge help and had lots of fun finding the frogs - I don't want to know any more thank you.

Just had dinner - worthy of mention as definitely enjoying food more (assuming yesterday was a blip...). Maybe lack of Oromorph, maybe Ian getting familiar with Jamie ...? Settled in bed now with plenty of tissues ready to watch the tribute to Stephen Gately. Boyzone, Westlife and Robbie on the same bill (and Bono it is rumoured...). I'm sure some of you have opinions about my musical and viewing tastes - please feel free to keep them to yourself just for the moment if that's okay? Thanks :-)

Right - pain has kicked in along with Ronan's opening vocals so will say goodnight for now. Look forward to hearing from lots of you soon...

Linda xxx

Saturday, 20 March 2010


Good morning,

I stayed awake till late watching Sports Relief online. I had no idea you could watch TV on the laptop with headphones - thanks for that Dave! wish I had known a few weeks ago but never mind, hopefully a few less nights ahead of lying in the dark listening to Ian asleep and wishing somehow I could find my own way to Dreamland.

Determined to blog today but not sure why. Not going to rush it - have twenty minutes now before an "appointment" (detail not for the faint hearted...) and out of interest I have my newest most favourite hot water bottle tucked under my right arm. The heat is easing the pain slightly but holding the bottle there is also stopping me moving my arm which is again helping a wee bit. I can feel the stabbing pain in my scapula still - that was there pre-op. A bit disappointing if that's not going anywhere - perhaps something for you prayerful and positive vibing people. Thanks.

Obviously I've not blogged properly for a week or so. Thanks to those who have reminded me to look after number one (So tempted to chuck in a number two joke there - let's not...) and not worry about updating you all. Thing is though, I still feel like when this is all over I want to sit down with a nice glass/bottle/magnum of champagne and read it from start to finish to remind myself where we have been. Even looking back a few weeks I should be able to see some progress - so I want to keep on top of this. The thing is - last week was just so absolutely ghastly and it is quite difficult to work out why.

Maybe it is okay just to draw a line and accept it was rubbish, rather than wear myself out trying to decide on the reason. So many possibilities - drugs, constipation (oh we do rather keep coming back to that - sorry...), boredom, rubbish TV, pain, whatever... fact is I hope this week is a bit better and I hope I don't have another week like last one.


A brief interlude there. The laptop crashed and we popped out for the "appointment". The exciting news just now is that Ian's making scrambled eggs on toast a la Jamie Oliver. Do I detect a touch of male competition Chez Anderson these days? Since's Dave's Mother's Day miracle I've enjoyed a considerable number of interesting and tasty meals - are they vying for Masterchef? Have to say though - at the risk of offending the others - Paul popped in on Thursday and his Vegetable Lasagne really was rather marvellous. Practice I guess.

So - how to sum up the week. Would be a shame not to have on record for example the trip to a couple of Garden Centres on Thursday. Thought we needed a new pond liner but great news (and huge thanks to the staff there...) it is patch-able. Hoorah. The thought of emptying the pond, keeping the fish away from Keegan, patching the liner, re-filling etc etc etc sounds like a whole load of fun - doesn't it...?

We also bought seed potatoes and various veg seeds and stuff for the vegetable patch. Hard to look back and think this time last year I was out there digging it over, planning and planting (well - almost). This year gardening, along with everything else, will be a spectator sport only :-(

We also paid a visit to the Aquadrome in Ricky. What this and the Garden Centre we stopped at have in common is a tea shop. These places seem to be springing up everywhere. It is no longer possible to simply go to a shop, for a walk, to a DIY emporium, a Garden Centre, to stock up on paint and paper or pea sticks and compost. Everywhere you go these days you are enticed to buy tea/cappucino and "home made" cakes (at whose whom exactly are they made I ask myself.....)


Another interlude. After the eggs (very good by the way - well done Ian -perhaps a touch more seasoning next time....?) I slept. For three hours. How is it possible to sleep so much? I know that less sleep during the day should equate to more sleep during the night but it just doesn't work like that. Sleep needs to be grabbed when it offers itself and this afternoon I gratefully succumbed to three hours with no pain and no rugby...

Then we popped to Waitrose - which makes my earlier post out to be a lie. No coffee shop. Thank goodness! It takes me long enough to walk around a supermarket as it is without the distraction of coffee and cake. When you have spent six weeks trapped within four walls supermarket shelves can be a source of huge interest you know. Ian trudged along behind me with the trolley until I realised the trolley can in fact be a zimmer frame in disguise and stole it from him. Which meant we took even longer as I was more easily able to inspect and deliberate and try to decide what I might fancy. Turns out it's jacket potato and salad for dinner again but at least I did inspect the options - my taste buds just aren't what they used to be. Has to be said though they have improved since I stopped using Oromorph - that seemed to be the main cause of the oral thrush too. Good job too as we only have a dozen or so value toothbrushes left...

Well all the excitement and the blogging and now the news via text from my mum that Daniel Craig is on TV tonight have quite worn me out. I'm cheating anyway - writing this flat on my back which is problematic even if it means my arm hurts less. What happened to my touch typing skills? I remember just after the op telling the anaesthetist that they seemed to have gone - hoping still it is drug related and I won't have to re-learn :-(

Dinner will be here soon - rather than another interlude let's call it a day. This is a pretty long blog after a rather barren week. Just a final very Happy Birthday wish to my lovely friend Lara. Wish I were dancing the night away at the party - or at least sipping my first glass of champagne - but now I am starting to sound like Liesl....

Au revoir...

Linda xxx


... well technically yesterday... I achieved very little on my "to do" list. Reason? I slept. Most of the day. All morning, most of the afternoon, and then this evening. And of course now I cannot sleep. Grrr....

Neither can I blog now as the noise will keep Ian awake. So I shall lie here and - thanks to Dave cleverly showing me how - I will watch Sport Relief online.

And tomorrow I will do all - or some of - those things I planned to do today - or rather yesterday...

Perhaps this will teach me to slow down and be more patient. Perhaps it will just drive me nuts - if I am not already :-)


Thursday, 18 March 2010


... I will blog.

I will also try and reply to some of the many lovely emails waiting in my inbox.

I am also going to get back to writing some more letters as I bought some lovely new notelets when we visited a local garden centre today.

That is the sort of list that used to take me till around 10am. Bearing in mind I also have to factor in at least a couple of hours for shower/hair wash/getting dressed/make up/pill taking and another couple for the time it takes me to slowly chew my food in the hope I may manage to eat and digest something that is now looking like one very ambitious day!

I usually have a good hours nap in the morning and another late afternoon so quite how I fit it all in I am not sure but I am going to give it a go!

By the way and whilst writing - someone commented to me this week on how my hair has grown. Those of you that I did not see just pre-op may not know that I had it cut short in the hope of making it more manageable - though you may have noticed from the photos I have posted. Well - the big challenge now is how to deal with the "growth" and I am open to creative ideas bearing in mind I can bend my back neither backwards nor forwards over a sink or bath. We do have a couple of ideas up our sleeve but if anyone has any advice it would be very gratefully received...

For now - good night and will blog tomorrow. Definitely. xxx

Sorry for the Silence

Thank you to everyone who has messaged me - in whatever way - since Sunday. Many of you have commented on the silence here on the blog. Special thanks to those who've assured me you are thinking of and praying for me anyway - that means a lot. And sorry I have not replied to many of your texts or emails.

Typing- and texting - is increasingly painful. Physically - I guess the muscles under my right arm were cut where the rib was removed to make room for my spine to be rotated and it must be taking some time to heal. For someone who enjoys writing as much as I do this is a real issue and I am getting to the point where I may consider voice recognition software. However that feels like an admission of defeat so I thought maybe a few days rest then try again.

But writing is also difficult emotionally. Any of you that have spoken to me on the phone, skype or in person cannot fail to have noticed how tearful I am. Thank heaven for "Wilko Handy Tissues". It is difficult to talk about how I feel and it's the same writing - even typing this now I have my little pack of ten (tissues) never far from my side.

Being a thoughtful and analytical sort of person I could try and work out why I am so tearful. I hesitate to use the word "depressed" as this does feel to me like a pretty standard reaction to a whole load of circumstances and not therefore a medical condition requiring treatment.

One factor may be the introduction of diclofenac to my drug regime. It has never really agreed with me and we did agree to review it today or tomorrow. Another may be the constipation - I know that to date I have tried to couch this in more discrete language but let's call a spade a spade if that is okay. It seems to me obvious that such a build up of toxins in anyone's body is going to cause problems - not to mention the physical discomfort.

Then there is the lack of appetite - not helped by the above or the general nasty taste in my mouth caused by the drugs - still over 200 a week. Lack of exercise doesn't help here either.

And after six weeks there is the general fear that this will never end. For all the doctors said it seems impossible to believe the pain is still as bad. Lack of sleep, boredom - I could go on - there are just so many reasons not to be cheerful at the moment. And on top of everything else our darling Guinea Pig died yesterday - those of you that knew Leo will understand what a loss that is to the family - he was a real character who- remarkable as it may seem - communicated with us in his inimitable squeaking way whenever he wanted something such as a stick of cucumber. Keegan - the cat - is clearly missing him too. Dave was very brave in conducting the funeral last night but I did manage to get out into the garden to pay my respects - a very sad time.

There are of course reasons to be cheerful too - lots of lovely flowers on the windowsill, dozens of cards that are now hanging up - I'll try to take a photo later - and between them all the family have made a real effort with the food. Dave's scrambled eggs would still win masterchef but Ian's risotto was pretty good, along with nanny's cauliflower cheese and Sarah's creamed leeks...

And the main reason to be cheerful of course is that "it" is over. To my dear friends anticipating surgery - I hope this does not sound too difficult and of course you are younger than me! Everyone's experience is different and the main thing of course is that once the surgery is out of the way it is all about the recovery and no longer worrying about the deterioration and longer term prognosis.

The sun is shining today so hopefully we will get out for a bit later. First I am going to sleep. As I still don't sleep well at night ( I long for the day I can sleep on my side and snuggle up properly) I usually have a nice nap after a bite of breakfast and some painkillers. It was lovely to speak to Rachel on Skype this morning but I am quite tired out now - may even miss Phil and Holly :-(

I'm sorry this post is neither particularly interesting nor cheerful but thank you to those who are still following. Perhaps a huuuuuuuuge flood of prayer and positive thoughts may help me snap out of my self pity - please do go for it.

Will try to resume the daily blogs - or even post something later. Meanwhile have a lovely day and thank you for being there.


Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothers Day

Hmmmmm.... not the most flattering photo I will ever post but this is definitely one that needs to be up there for everyone to see! It's Mother's Day, it's just Dave and myself here in the house (well Leo is downstairs of course and Keegan has just stolen my hot water bottle...), and I really fancied scrambled eggs for breakfast this morning.

The whole concept of fancying something (foodwise...) is so unusual at the moment that it does somehow need to be indulged but I confess to having failed as a mother (and wife) in that scrambled eggs are something I have always prepared for the family and to be honest Dave had it in mind to bring me up a bowl of Special K and a yoghurt I think.

However, he is indeed one very special young man and with the aid of the BBC Good Food website he had within twenty minutes rustled up not just scrambled eggs but scrambled eggs with cheese and baby plum tomatoes. Yum. Thanks Dave if you are reading this (and I will make sure that you are later!)

I've not felt much like blogging lately. Someone said to me recently that they couldn't do the whole blog thing because of the way in which you bare your soul to the universe for all to read. That almost throwaway comment made me realise to what extent this blog is not like that, and perhaps that is why I am tired of it.

This will be a record of the journey and I am sure when I come to re-read it I will be astounded. It is of course still a useful way of updating you all with what is going on as I have become worse than ever at responding to emails/texts/messages. But initially I remember using this as a place to talk about how I was feeling - I had several nice emails from people saying that they were sure or hopeful I was finding it therapeutic. That is no longer the case. I'm not comfy sharing some - or most - of what I am feeling just now, the journey is so much tougher, so much more scary than I ever imagined it could be. In fact each day I feel I should write a "hidden" blog just for me (or anyone with a particularly strong stomach or broad shoulders!) I could do that I guess but then again when it hurts so much just to type what's the point in a load of pain just to write down how miserable I am?!

I'll leave it there for now - it is nice that lots of you keep telling me how brave I am and I'd hate to disillusion you! Let's focus instead on the delicious eggs this morning and the scrumptious dinner which Sarah and Paul ("her" Paul as opposed to "my" Paul if I can say that without causing offence to Mr Harrup...?) are cooking here this evening.

And one final thought - I never thought that I would watch the Motor Racing. I'm not sure where they are or who is winning but hey this must come down to showing an interest - I even had the rugby on yesterday!

Happy Mothers Day to everyone out there who Mothers someone, or many people, in any way shape or form. I hope that you feel loved and appreciated.

Linda xxx

Friday, 12 March 2010


I remember saying that a lot when I was working! It's still important now though as it does mean for the next couple of days Dave will be around - and Ian has tomorrow off. I am a bit cross that he has to work on Mother's Day but looking forward to Sarah and Paul coming over and making us something nice to eat - us including my own mum and brother to thank them for their help and support over the past few weeks. More of Mother's Day on Sunday I am sure - for now it is Friday.

Good news is whilst I did wake twice in the night last night I did not need to take the Oromorph. The slow release Voltarol and double dose of morphine seemed to do the trick. I was also less stiff and sore this morning, when of course I still had another dose of slow release Voltarol to look forward to!

A bit of a lazy day today to be honest. Read a bit having given in and ordered a box full of chick lit from Amazon. I am currently reading a book entitled "Let's meet on Platform8" and finding it fascinating and amusing how many of the landmarks and train times I recognise at Euston Station. Names and details have been changed for obvious reasons but yes I have used those toilets and drunk in that pub. Clearly this is a very worrying sign - both that this is the level of literature I am currently engaging with and that I care about such trivia. Blame the drugs - might as well - they seem to be to blame for everything else...

... especially of course the erm... "lavatorial issues" not to mention the fight against oral thrush valiantly being fought with the aid of Asda's 5p toothbrushes rather than yet more medication. I do suspect the drugs are also to blame for my appallingly miserable state of mind and lack of desire to do anything or see anyone. If it is not the drugs then we do have a problem as I am not going to be much fun or company once back in circulation - assuming I ever am!

Having said that, I was sad to miss my dear friend Lara's birthday meal and drinks at a favourite Italian in Ricky this evening. I'd been thinking perhaps I may get along for half a glass of something fizzy and rumour has it a chair was saved for me. Believe me if I could have made it there I would have done ladies but instead I raised my mug of peppermint tea to your very good health ;-)

Looks like you were having fun anyway ladies - if in the dark! ;-)

That's it for another day I think - thanks for all your messages. Hoping for some reasonable weather tomorrow as definitely feeling the need to get out and about a bit more - a stroll to the corner shop maybe?

Have to just finish by saying how totally in awe I am this evening of Christine Bleakley - I suspect she may even ache somewhere near as much as I do!

Night night


Thursday, 11 March 2010

Six Week Check-up- After 5 Weeks!

Hi everyone!

I'm lying flat on my back, well dosed up on drugs with a hot water bottle after the longest outing since my surgery, so I'm getting Dave to type this for me!

It's customary to have a six week check, for some reason I saw Mr Tucker today, 5 weeks post op. He is delighted with his handiwork. My scar is beautifully neat and healing well, he is the thrilled with the x-rays and all the staff at the hospital commented on how much taller and straighter I am.

He congratulated me on toughing out what he described as 'hell'. He made no secret of how severe the pain is and that even for him this was major and complex surgery. In fact, he brought tears to my eyes when he acknowledged just how tough it has been.

He is very concerned that I am not sleeping as this will be making everything worse and so- as hoped for- he came up with a few suggestions:

  • We're going to double the slow release morphine in the evening, which should mean I don't wake up and need 'top-ups'. Sorry- no more midnight blogs/emails/messages
  • We're going to introduce some slow release anti inflammatory drugs twice a day
  • As soon as possible, I will be starting hydrotherapy at Stanmore hospital- I'm so excited, I can't wait!
From the Wellington, we went to my GP who patiently wrote out the prescriptions. Then on to the chemist, who surprisingly had everything in stock- I think he's starting to see me coming!

Thank you all for your good luck messages for today and for your texts asking how things went. Most of all, thanks to Dave for typing this for me. Hopefully speak to you later.

Lots of love,


Wellington today

Thanks for all your good wishes - many of which have made me cry. I'll post on here later with news of how the follow up appointment goes. My main plea/hope/concern is that there may just be some way of getting the pain under control. I'm itching to start on the boxed sets, to read, even to listen to music (anyone got a Spotify invitation code they wouldn't mind sharing...?) but just now the pain gets in the way of everything.

I'd also like to start enjoying some food again - horrid to feel hungry then throw things away and it does feel like such a waste, and finally - though this may be an ask too far - I am desperate to do my roots!

For now it is time to get showered, dressed, made up and away to St John's Wood. Never before have I noticed every pothole in the road so will be lining the seat with pillows :-)


Linda xxx

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

More Serious Stuff...

Hi there

I've not felt much like blogging lately. Typing is painful - I guess from where I had a rib or two removed from under my right arm - it must have cut through the muscle as well as removing the bone. On the outside it looks to be healing well but who know what's happening underneath? I should find out more tomorrow when I go for my follow up appointment.

Besides, most of what I've had to say recently has been all about the pain and after a while that starts to feel a bit boring and repetitive. But I am determined to keep the blog going for a number of reasons. First of all - it has been five weeks now - five weeks ago this evening we were in that nice Italian restaurant on Doctor's orders! (In fact that makes it five weeks since I have enjoyed a glass of wine!) Those five weeks have gone in a blur and I cannot wait to read back over the blog. Not yet - it is way too soon. But given time I intend to sit down - perhaps with that glass of wine and maybe a mansize box of kleenex - and re-live it all...

Secondly (and I do feel I am repeating myself - sorry!) I have been rubbish at replying to your messages/cards/texts/emails so at least by doing this you can find out how things are going - and recently that has been pretty rubbish - so apologies for the silence elsewhere.

But along with those reasons it's been something to work on with my co-editor Dave - who really must take credit for the Teddy Tales - so it's been fun!

Today was ten times better than yesterday - worth saying that at the outset of this post. Yesterday was just ghastly. The pain was unbearable, with no sense of things getting any better at all. Food tastes nasty, my stomach (oh - call a spade a spade - my bowels :-( ) are agonisingly painful, I couldn't sleep, didn't feel like seeing or even speaking to anyone - generally it was a horrid day and boy did I let Ian and Dave know about it when they got home last night. I think the trigger may have been dinner which whilst it may have been perfectly edible and tasty to some tasted horrid to me. I'm actually starting to feel hungry - more than that though I can see I am losing weight and know that I need good food to help the healing process. When everything tastes awful this is a real challenge...

After a good chat about it all we cheered ourselves up with a game of Harry Potter on the PlayStation2, a glass of pomegranate juice and some pitta bread (tasted like cardboard...) and dips. I'd stupidly messed up my drugs dosage and had to go a very loooooooong while with no decent pain relief so let's say it wasn't the best of days.

However today was another day and in spite of everything (but with the aid of a fair amount of oromorph) I did manage to sleep reasonably well and for much of the morning. After which Ian gave me a lift into Rickmansworth and I had a good look around Marks and Spencers for any food I fancy. So tonight it's a delicious looking Thai Stir Fry - here's hoping it tastes as good as it looks!

I'd expected to come back and doze again from the pain instead of which I have sat with a hot water bottle tucked under my right arm and blogged. I've even enjoyed Blue Peter! My tummy is rumbling - first time I can remember that for a looooooooong time and rumour has it we're about to have another go on the Playstation!

So - back to see Mr Tucker tomorrow and hoping all is healing well and as it should be. I'm also hoping he may adjust the pain control slightly if that is possible - it would be so good to be pain free if just for a while.

Well - I think I have written enough for one day - thanks all of you who are still listening - I hadn't expected so many of you to still be sharing the journey but really appreciate the fact that you are.

Have a Happy Evening

Linda xxx


Hello, it's Boofle here. Just a very quick post as I am not really into this blogging thing but something has been bugging me and I need to get things straight.

I know that one or two of you find the whole Teddy thing a bit odd - isn't this supposed to be Linda's blog? Well I think she's done her best to explain why we're on here too. (Though I am actually not sure that she has told you all that deep down she has aspirations to be a childrens' author and is therefore really enjoying writing the stories...look out J K Rowling....!)

But today it is my turn to reveal something very significant indeed. I am not a Teddy Bear. I'm not sure how everyone managed to miss this very important fact but it is true - I am a dog. Spotty - the Dalmation who joined us just the other day - pointed this out to everyone and I have to say it was good to feel that I could be myself and not have to keep pretending. But more than that - eveyone has been calling me Boogle when in fact I am Boofle. Linda realised that today when she went to buy some more thank you notes and - woo hoo - there were some with me on! You can see me proudly sitting by one in the photo above!

By the way, if you've still not got a letter from Linda then she promises she is trying hard to get them all done and who knows you may be lucky enough to get one with a picture of me on it!

I need to hand over to Linda - she has a lot to say today - but first of all I should just point out that we had some very nice visitors yesterday - you will see them in the photo I am about to post. We all love having visitors and just wish Linda felt up to seeing people - her friends are fun and bring nice things to eat and drink. But I am sure it won't be long before she's calling you all up and asking you to come round and keep her company....

Here you can see us all with our visitors. They came with NannyAnne who is here most days, helping out in all sorts of ways. She changes the sheets, makes cups of tea and lunches, tidies up and cleans and sometimes even sits and does the Sudoku!

NannyAnne has the biggest collection of Teddies in the world I think- which may be where Linda gets her love of us (Teddies and dogs!) from :-)

As you can see we were all keen to get around the laptop and catch up on the blog...

Monday, 8 March 2010

So the rest of Monday...

... wasn't much fun :-(

Pain is shocking - so much so I called up the Spinal Nurse at the Wellington for advice. She's suggested spreading the sustained release morphine tablets through the day a little - to try and keep on top of things. She also reassured me again that it is early days and if absolutely necessary I should take some oromorph rather than sit and cry my eyes out the way I have done the past few days :-(

The reassuring thing about talking to this nurse - Mini - is that she works with the spinal surgeons on a regular basis, rather than being based on a ward. So she has seen it all before and can reassure me that things will get better. Many of the nurses on the ward were familiar with spinal surgery but few had seen surgery quite as huge as this and certainly since coming home every doctor and nurse (as well as friends and family!) that has seen the scars has reacted with amazement ;-)

It's not just the pain though. I feel constantly sick. That may be to do with the drugs, it may be associated with the constipation. Whatever the reason it is horrid, I've no appetite and food tastes pretty horrid. Ian has bought me another dozen "value" toothbrushes along with some mouthwash and the oral thrush seems to be under control - this is just nasty.

I'm not exactly bored - which I find suprising. Someone asked me today what I do all day and the answer is pretty much nothing. I check my netbook regularly and the frequent messages really do cheer me up - I am just sorry I rarely reply. I'm determined to get dressed and do my hair/make up each day - that takes a while. Eating - or trying to eat - is another painfully slow process. I try to go for a little walk, maybe make a phone call. The TV tends to be on in the background and I have magazines to dip into. But it is impossible to concentrate on anything and very few things keep my interest.

I think I have said this before but I look forward to reading this story in months to come so I am determined to keep writing even when - as today - things feel a bit low. Tomorrow is another day.

Night night and love to you all

Linda xxx

Sunday Monday

Monday morning - and the sun is shining. Great not having to face the commute - how will I ever cope with it again?! Not too great being stuck indoors and wondering if maybe - just maybe - I might get out for a tiny little walk later - we shall see... Over optimism and and ambition have already been my downfall this weekend...

My Blog Editor aka Dave has just been reading yesterday's entry and pointed out that whilst it is a good catch upon what we did Saturday it does still leave Sunday as something of a vacuum. Oops!

Perhaps that is for the best however as there is no doubt at all yesterday was one of the lowest days to date. I developed a pain in my left lower back which frankly had me in tears and back on the oromorph - I simply couldn't function. A warm shower didn't help at all and when my lovely friend Graham arrived all the way from Haywards Heath for a visit I was still sitting wrapped in a towel, no hair or make up done, crying my eyes out. Don't tell him - please! Someone made him a cup of tea and before too long No 7 had done its stuff but even so our conversation was carried out with me flat on my back!

Which is how most of the rest of the day was spent to be honest. I must have sat up at some point to blog about Saturday and I did have a very nice dinner but even Stardust couldn't keep my attention so it was a lot more painkillers and an earlyish night.

This blog seems to be revolving around pain levels and the number of hours sleep I manage. A tad boring I guess and a few people have asked when are things going to change? The honest truth is that things are unlikely to differ significantly until we get past the six weeks mark - another fortnight to go then. One milestone this week is a follow up chat and x rays with the consultant Mr Tucker when I get news on how things are progressing in there. Nerve wracking stuff...

After that I will hopefully begin to "potter" and the plan remains to go back to work after 12 weeks.

Other than these statistics I'll have to look for other ways to make the blog more interesting. There are some things I am assuming would simply be Too Much Information but I'll be looking out for any amusing anecdotes - or even links to external articles for those of you who are interested in knowing more about Scoliosis. I am starting to feel my campaigning streak itching as I realise more and more just how much ignorance there is about this condition. It may not be sexy or fashionable but it sure is painful, annoying and can have serious long term consequences so let's do all we possibly can to ensure young women (and occasionally men) no longer "slip through the net" in the way that I did.

Just heard there are severe delays on the Jubilee Line - ooooooh - I am so sorry to my lovely colleagues affected by these. I am going to take my morphine and snuggle up with a hot water bottle while I catch up on news from the Oscars.


Linda x

Sunday, 7 March 2010

What happened to Saturday...?

I'm not quite sure where yesterday went. That may sound like a very silly thing to say - though bearing in mind the amount of drugs I am on perhaps it is not surprising. But what did I do and why didn't I blog?!

I think I spent most of the morning asleep again- and at the risk of repeating myself I have decided not to worry about this or try to stay awake and sleep better at night. If my poor bashed about body fancies a bit of a rest then why deny it the opportunity? That may account for the morning but what about the afternoon...?!

Ah yes - I did go for a walk. Quite a long walk in fact - right around the block. Then lovely Marjorie popped in for tea and a chat and even prayed for me. Marjorie has been an honorary member of our family for as long as I can remember - she saw me through college, David's birth and growing up and used to frequently let herself in here and wade through a pile of ironing whilst I was in a lecture (with Dave under my desk - a long and different story for those of you that did not know me in those days...!)

I'd actually been brave enough to invite a few of the girls round for a drink yesterday evening (mine's a fizzy water...) as Ian was out with Paul at the O2. However everyone seemed to be busy and maybe that wasn't such a bad thing in the end. The walk and the visit completely wiped me out and all I wanted to do was sleep - again! Lovely Lara did drop by so I could say hello to my favourite little man (and so he could see his Teeny Tiny Teddy - thank you so much Callum for letting him stay with me till I feel better...) but perhaps I'd been overly optimistic thinking I would have the energy fora girlie get together ;-(

As ever Dave really knows how to make Saturday night an event so he organised a great Indian takeaway to be shared in front of Casualty. My current obsession with hospital soaps and dramas is definitely something to discuss! The food was delicious but that was it - a full tummy and I was asleep even before bedtime pills - maybe that's why I didn't blog? I woke in the night as Ian returned from a great gig - the Dave Matthews Band - and seem to recall lights and tv were still on - oops there goes my carbon footprint :-(

But this blog was never about documenting every detail of every day, so in some - no many - ways - does it really matter that I missed a day? I was wondering again just now about why I am blogging - and funnily enough at the moment I am back to just wanting it as a personal record of the journey. I'm quite excited about reading it all through in six months time as I guess it will quite an interesting story!

But I am also really excited about all the friends - old and new - sharing the journey. I just had a visitor - a very dear friend - and his having followed the blog made our conversation so much easier as we laughed over some of the incidents that even I had forgotten but he remembered. Did I really blog about the weight of the screws?! It meant too that he had seen the photos and could see it was all worthwhile. Still had the fun of standing up and shocking him with my extra two inches though!

One lovely new friend I have made is Simone and it seems only right that I share her own blog and Facebook group here...

Simone has a lot more knowledge and experience than I do and is a great person to turn to when I have questions - so anyone following me because you are considering surgery may also find Simone's extensive website a valuable source of information and advice. Highly recommended - go take a look and sign up!

Well all this blogging has made me snoozy so bye for now and look forward to hearing from you all soon.

Linda xxx

Friday, 5 March 2010

no post tonight...

... been a busy day on the blog - and a busy day here generally. Hey - I even got the knitting out (yes - the words "Get. A. Life." are springing to mind...)

So I am not going to add anything more - just leave you to read this morning's post - and do comment if you can (annoying that so many of you still have problems but thank you for the messages...)

And I hope that you enjoy the little picture strip that Dave helped me put together earlier today - have to say it made me smile ;-)

Happy weekend all

Linda xx

Teddy Rebellion...

Never turn your back on a bunch of Teddies (or anything at all if you have had your spine fused...) as look what they might get up to....

Home Alone...

Well today is another "first" as I am Home Alone. I had a nice cup of tea - and not so nice glass of prune juice - with Ian at 5am, some Special K and a yoghurt with Dave at 7.30am and then that was it! My mum as ever very kindly offered to come over but I think it is important to be taking these steps forward and I am surrounded by good friends - and Teddy Bears - who will of course keep me company if I feel the need...

One very lovely and special visit this morning was from the Vicar and a member of the Pastoral Group (who made me a cup of tea - thank you!). I feel very privileged to live in a community which still likes to think of itself as a village and which definitely possesses many village-like properties. Every summer the Brownies dance around the maypole on the Green (I do not lie...), the village grapevine ensures you are are kept well informed of any important news before it has actually happened, and in time of need both my GP and the Vicar will offer to visit at home.

A few hundred posts ago (or so it seems) I blogged about a lovely spiritual experience I had in church just before I went in for the surgery. I've always been pretty open about my religious/spiritual beliefs, though at times that openness has consisted of admitting I am not sure what at this particular moment I think or believe! My experiences of church have been mixed - but as someone once wisely said to me - if you do find the perfect church then whatever you do don't join it as you will only spoil it! And to be honest now does not feel like the "right" time to be unpacking my thoughts on these things - I wanted to share something much simpler...

Over the years I have "tried" hard with God. With church, the bible, prayer, meditation, all the things we traditionally do to feel his/her presence. I've longed for some huge overwhelming spiritual experience (or several) to remove all my doubts.

But as I have got older I've really come to value some of the simpler elements of Christianity which have been handed down over the past 2000 years. Baptism for example - the significance of a new, fresh start. And perhaps even more so - Communion. The Eucharist. Lord's Supper - so many different names for what is essentially a very simple meal of Bread and Wine. Having studied Theology I think I understand a little better than I used to what is meant by the sacramental value of these actions. In some way that I simply cannot describe Communion seems to me to be a place where I can stop trying. And having just admitted how much I have tried over the years that can only be a good - and restful - place to be.

I've a way to go yet in making sense of this. Occasionally when sharing bread and wine with friends I am suddenly reminded of the man Jesus - all those years ago - telling his friends not to forget him, and in particular to remember him at meal times such as this.

That seems to me to be quite a different experience to the other one I want to describe here - when thoughts and prayers and words and tears and longings have all run out and feeling quite alone and desperate there is this longing for contact with the supreme eternal being that I still like to call Father. At times like this, the ministration of communion, using the liturgy passed down over so many years, refined by our forefathers (and mothers...), from someone who has accepted the call on their life to serve others in this way seems to me to be very profound. I do not pretend to understand it for one moment but this morning I was just so grateful for half an hour spent sharing in this way, and as a result felt strengthened to face whatever the next chapter holds.

So- not really home alone after all - and just wait till you see what those Teddies have been up to! They say actions speak louder than words so perhaps a few photos will be sufficient :-)


Thursday, 4 March 2010

What have the Teddies been up to?

Unbeknown to Linda, the Teddies had on occasion been taking a sneaky peak at the blog.

"Looking for Linda" said Boogle in a questioning tone of voice. "What's that all about?"

Scruffy shook his head "You've clearly not been paying attention, have you? Or didn't you bother to read the archive posts?"

"Archive posts? What's that supposed to mean?" added Cuddles.

Teeny Tiny Bear had to struggle to make himself heard - it was always tricky being the smallest - but eventually he persuaded the others to quieten down." "Looking for Linda" is a song title - don't you remember? It's easy to remember and also a bit of a play on words - anyone looking for Linda's blog on Google should find it quite easily, and hey - there may be people looking for song lyrics who randomly stumble on our story - and might enjoy it!"

Nigel was clearly disgruntled and the others looked at him to find out why. His reply surprised them at first but when they stopped to think about it they realised - as so often - that he was right.

"Well chaps, first of all I have to say I am getting very cold." Ahhh. He was of course making a valid point - it was a few days now since Linda had whipped off his purple jumper and enthusiastically decided to knit him a nice little home made one. He'd not liked to complain but ever since then he had been shivering. Scruffy very quickly gave him a big hug and promised to find him at least an old sock to keep him warm for the time being.

"Secondly," went on Nigel, "you say "our story" but it's been ages since this blog mentioned anything at all about us. Linda keeps hinting we are up to things and promising to write about us but take a look at what it's been lately - pain, pain, pain...I know she must be in agony but surely writing about us would be a pleasant distraction? (As ever he was right - for days Linda had been thinking that she needed to shift the emphasis, employ some distraction techniques, perhaps even write a few poems...)

The Teddies immediately broke into a squabble at this point, so much so that they completely forgot they actually had a new friend with them who must surely be wondering what was going on. As ever it was Teeny Tiny Bear who reminded them all to include Spotty in the conversation.

When Linda had come home from hospital the first few days had been really difficult. She had looked forward so much to being in her own bed with all her own things around but actually it was more difficult than she had imagined. It sounded a bit mean to say it but in hospital when something went wrong it was somehow okay to complain. Not in a nasty way - just to say for example "I really wanted that cup of tea but they must have forgotten about me 'cos it never arrived..." And it was also alright to ask someone to come and pick things up that had got dropped - a book, glasses, lip balm, the remote control etc etc. Now she was home it was much much harder as it was her lovely family looking after her and she didn't like to criticise them or complain.

Without realising it Linda had got quite fed up and the pain had got worst. Several of the blog posts had become more about the pain and how she was feeling - less about what was going on. And much much less about the Teddies.

It had been her son Dave who'd introduced Spotty to the gang of Teddies. He'd had him when he was a baby himself, and Spotty had been all over the place often keeping him company in his cot or when mum and dad were away. Of course Dave was way too old to need him for that now but unlike many of the other soft toys from the Anderson Household Spotty had never made that long lonely journey to the Oxfam shop. Instead he had stayed safely under Dave's bed, waiting for a moment like this when he would once again be really useful. Perhaps now was his time to say something.

Very often when people - or Teddies - are really closely involved in a situation, when they know and love the person concerned or in pain so much, it is hard for them to know how best to help and sometimes they cannot understand what is going on. But it seemed that Spotty had been quietly watching what had been going on and they all looked to him now to hear what he would like to say...

Spotty opened his mouth to speak. He felt a little out of place amongst the Teddies as he is in fact a Dalmation Dog - but a very small one. Not quite as small as Teeny Tiny Bear who stood alongside him for moral support -knowing how hard it can be to speak up when everyone else is so much taller than you...(and feeling ever so slightly jealous of Linda of course who would never be in that situation again...)

"The thing is this..." said Spotty..."I can see how much you all want to help, it's always the same when someone is ill and especially when someone has had something done as enormous as this. And it's not just us Teddies that want to help either - look at all her friends commenting on the blog too. You know I have worked out her password and hacked into her email account too - she has lots and lots of messages there. And that strange bleeping noise we keep hearing - that's all text messages.

"Well I wish she would at least answer them and stop them disturbing my sleep" said one Teddy who shall remain nameless ;-)

Spotty carried on. We all want to help but the thing is we all know what would help us in that situation. Look at Nigel over there - he's happy just with an old sock to keep him warm! Sometimes we'd never guess what someone wants and what will make them feel better - apparently tonight Linda suddenly wanted an ice pack on her back! After all those weeks of hot water bottles! I guess we have to keep asking.

But the other thing is when someone is in that much pain sometimes they honestly don't know what they do want, which can be even more frustrating. So they get cross and irritable, and fed up with being asked. Like I said - it didn't matter so much in the hospital but here at home it is difficult as they really don't want to seem to be selfish or ungrateful."

The other Teddies had a bit of a think about this - it didn't make sense straight away as they knew that all they and everyone else wanted to do was help. How could anyone be ungrateful - or worse of all start crying - when people were just trying to help? But then one or two of them who had been reading the blog occasionally - when the tv was off perhaps - remembered the post Linda had written the other night. "From the heart" or something it had been called and frankly one of them (who will remain nameless but doesn't like his sleep disturbed by mobile phone bleeps...) had thought it was a little bit over emotional. Isn't it about time to get a grip, move on, stop analysing and worst of all crying?

"Ah..." said Spotty. "Never underestimate hormones! Surgery, pain, hormones, can all do funny things. Haven't you noticed how Linda still talks nonsense? Only last Tuesday she said to Dave that she was very nervous as today was her operation day! One minute she is boiling up, the next she is shivering, she is very tired and very tearful - it will take a while but things will be back to normal soon enough. I do have one more quick question to ask you though...."

"Go on..." they said - almost in unison

"Why are you all sitting up here? True you are nice and tidy and you can see things are okay - but don't you think she'd like you back in the bed for a cuddle? I've seen that big black and white cat there - the one that moves - but I am sure she would like you to take turns too!"

So now we leave the teddies plotting how to construct a rope ladder down the side of the wardrobe door and back into the bed, Nigel - brainy as ever - seems to have his eye on the cashmere cardigan - watch this space.... and Linda is determined to finish his new jumper :-)

For Callum, Rachie, Dave and everyone else who wanted to know how the Teddies are getting on. Any names or resemblances to persons living or dead are of course entirely co-incidental.

More from me tomorrow xxx