So Tired

I could easily miss a step, fall over like a tree in the forests and be asleep half-way to the floor.  I didn’t sleep well Thursday night.  The past few days I’ve had problems with what Helios calls “defecation frenzy”.  I didn’t miss work but I have had to take more time than usual to attend to calls of nature.  Thursday it was 4 or 5.  Friday it was 8.  This morning so far it’s been two and I’ve decided that I probably need to fast now to get it out of my system.

I dreamt last night I was in the US.  I was in the car with Foxxy (an old friend who, in real life, shares my name but with a slightly different spelling) and her boyfriend.  They were chatting away in the front of the car and, every so often, they would giggle at a shared joke.  I contented myself with looking outside the window.  We drove for some time to another city.  It was a beautiful journey – I couldn’t help but notice how green the grass looked.  The US is so vast!  For some time we didn’t see another car or person – which doesn’t happen in England.  It was pristine and I thought that if all of the US was so beautiful I wouldn’t mind living there.  However, things weren’t as nice when we got to the city: people seemed to be crossing the road any old where and we had to swerve to dodge them.  It reminded me a little of where my sister used to live – with University students flooding the streets to get to their next class on time.

We finally arrived at our destination: we were visiting our friend at the hospital.  I remember him from high school but cannot remember his full name.  He’s called John and he was in our gang.  He was the one that wore the T-shirt “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.”  He had had a car accident and had a number of broken bones.

We parked well away from the building to avoid paying the parking fees.  I put one sock on but the other fell down a crevasse.  I could have retrieved it but I didn’t.  I just put my shoe on my right foot.

I worried that the smell of the place would make me sick.  When I was in high school I made the mistake of visiting a friend who’d had a car accident and the smell made me sick – I had to run to the toilet!  Very embarrassing!

We weren’t allowed to see John immediately – which was a good thing.  I didn’t notice any overpowering smell – so I was OK there.  I started gearing myself up to see a John that looked a lot worse than he probably was (in order to honestly say how good I thought he looked) and I thought of things to tell him like “You look just like you did in high school – except for the odd broken bone of course!”

We were shown to a seat near a TV where there were some patients and visitors.  The visitors didn’t look worried – they looked dirty – like how I’d expect the residents of Dale Farm to look.  Dale Farm is a Gypsy site in Essex that has recently evicted half its residents because they only had permission for a certain number of mobile homes.  The story made national news and, politically, I found myself siding with the local council.  I just don’t understand the traveller way of life in order to understand their plight or why they choose to live the way they do.

In the dream I didn’t pay them any attention.  I was pacing and worried that I’d lost my right sock because (and we all know how odd dreams are) even though I’ve not seen John for at least 20 years, he’d given me that pair of socks and I didn’t want him to think that I’d lost one.  The next thing I know all the other visitors leave and Kate, my line manager and someone I really respect, smiled at me and said “We have to ask them to move – they’re always wanting to sell us their dead.”

I woke up with the word “Dead” ringing in my ears.

When Helios got up I told him that I thought I ought to fast today to get my bowel back to normal.  Helios suggested that indigestion may have an effect on our dreaming.  Then he said I should take a paracetamol and codeine.  I can’t help but remember what he said about his time in Kenya– he came back with a “shit yourself thin” diet!  Thursday I was uncomfortable but in a good mood all day.  Friday I felt a bit worse and grouchy.  Today I’m hungry and afraid to eat lest I suffer with more bowel trouble…

I’m going to have to go back to bed.


More news

I was at home on Thursday night while Helios was at a Quiz Night with his work.  I took the opportunity to do a bit of tidying.  I walked from the bathroom to the kitchen and felt a crunch under my right slipper.  I wondered how a bit of plastic got into the bathroom but walked through to the kitchen thinking “I’ll pick that up in a minute.”  When I went back to the bathroom I discovered a half-crunched spider!  I have a hard time with spiders when they’re alive or dead.  It’s a proper phobia so I spent the rest of the evening in the living room, perched on the sofa like a parrot on Helios’s shoulder.  I waited Helios’s return so he could rescue me.

Later that night Helios came in clutching his prize – his team won the quiz (no surprise there) and I was treated to a blow by blow account of how many questions he successfully answered before he rescued me from the spider corpse.  Indeed, he answered 9 out of 10 questions correctly in the film round – all the questions were about James Bond films.

Of course, I’ve never liked bugs.  When my parents were still married they lived in a house near some fields.  I was about 3 when this incident happened and it’s Mom’s favourite story.  A mouse invaded the house and, when I saw it, I climbed Mom like a monkey up a tree while screaming “A BIG BUG!! A BIG BUG!! A BIG BUG!!”

I had a strange encounter at a charity shop this past week.  I let a man pass me by and he looked at me and said “Espionage?”  I can only image that he was referring to my appearance, I was wearing my red winter coat and beige winter hat.  I said “No, it’s just my hat.”

Helios has started a blog about his favourite passion: films.  Consequently we’ve talked about how we write.  His comment about my writing was – frankly – a little disappointing for me.  I just assumed that people reading me would automatically hear my voice.  He maintained my voice isn’t in my blog.  OK, I have to write about difficult subjects.  I think it’s important to sound intelligent when I talk about women’s health.  It’s not good enough to learn the issues and then talk about the nuisances in a condescending tone.  He has a point though.  It’s not me if I don’t sound like me.


Accepting Suffering

Even before my father’s death I have been rethinking a lot of things.  I still consider myself a Christian but have found comfort with Buddhism.  So many people question God and ask “Why me?” – which is understandable if you have Parkinsons and you know it will kill you eventually.  However, I do believe that because Dad was never cured, and I know how bitter he was towards the end, perhaps he would have coped better with a bit of Buddhism.


One of the first points of Buddhism is that suffering is a natural part of life.  It’s not something that we can get away from.  For example, the story goes that there was a woman who had a baby but the baby died.  She goes to the Buddha and says “You’ve got to help me.  I’m at the end of my rope.  I don’t know what to do next.  I’m so depressed!”  (Aside: I just love the fact that even all those centuries ago people wanted a quick fix to their problems!)  The Buddha said “I can help you but you need to do something for me first.  I need a mustard seed from the house in the village where no one has suffered.”  So the grateful woman trots back to her village and proceeds to interrogate everyone there.  She quickly discovers that every home had experienced suffering.  She even discovered that some people had suffered more than she did.  She never obtained a mustard seed but she did gain comfort…


Buddhists do not believe in a deity.  Without a deity you are liberated from the question “Why me?”  You are liberated from the notion that you are being punished for some sin that you may or may not have committed.  Instead you are forced to try to make good your life as it is today.   As with my dad having Parkinsons, sometimes there is no good reason for what happens to people.  There may not be a deity out there judging every move you make and meting out punishments according to each wrongdoing.


I find this thought comforting with bearing the burdens of my illnesses as well as bearing the burden of my father’s short and troubled life.  I try to make today matter.  I try to live my life in a way that I can justify.  I try to make the world a better place for everyone I meet – from the strangers I smile at on the street to my family who I try to protect.  I hope that by doing good things, that good things will come to those I love.  Karma: what goes around comes around.  Of course that’s not what happens to some people but, for the most part, it’s been my experience.  I’ve had a few hard years but now I’m having a few easier years.  All things considered, I consider myself lucky when I have enough of a support system to help me carry my woes.


I hope that when I go back to Christianity, I am accepted back with open arms.  You know what I mean, I mean that tingling feeling I get when I pray for forgiveness of the things I have done and the forgiveness of the things I’ve left undone.  For the moment, I’m looking into new ideas and applying that which I feel is right to my life.  Perhaps a new view of suffering is just what I needed?


A more innocent time… 11th September 2011

I grew up in the Midwest United States.  It’s a flat region.  The land is flat – like a piece of paper.  Indeed, it could be considered to be flatter thanNorwich!  The land is vast and featureless.  There the farmers grow corn and beans.  In fact, have you ever seen North by Northwest?  You remember the bit where the protagonist is running away from the airplane that’s coming?  That was filmed in my region!

The winters are unspeakably cold and are characterised by snowstorms so violent that you can’t see your hand at the end of your arm; ice storms that create beautiful but deadly sculptures on the trees and fences; and wind that makes snow drift like sand in a dessert.  It can be a cruel place to live.  I think the people who stay have a rugged determined streak.  The place has a beautiful barren quality in the winter.  If you grow up there, you can’t help but be a strong individual.

The summers are equally taxing.  I will say it’s hot but that is something of an understatement.  It’s a sweltering hot.  The humidity, without a cloud in the sky, can easily reach 98%, 99% and even 100%.  Imagine a Turkish bath but with the sun beating down on your head…  As an Englishwoman, my first instinct is to open the windows in the flat if I’m hot but in theUSI close everything and turn on the air conditioning.  For example, I remember my ex had a hard time with this concept; I’d notice he’d open the window of the car and I’d tell him to close it again: it was hotter outside!  It’s little wonder that we don’t spend a lot of time in the sun!

I grew up in a more innocent time.  Terrorism was something that happened to other people in other places.  As much as I see that Americans were wrong for believing that two oceans would keep out the madness, at the time I didn’t appreciate the cocoon that I lived in.

On September 11th 2011, with 5 hours time difference, it was the afternoon when I first got an email from a friend about the attacks.  The first thought was that it was a tragic accident.  The next few hours, with yet another plane and another plane going down, we all wondered with horrified awe “What next?”  Although I didn’t know anyone there, I couldn’t help but cry.

My ex husband was due to be on a conference call with someone in the World Trade Centre and, frustrated, he left the meeting room to find out why he couldn’t get through to find no one could get through to New York.

A few months later my ex and I travelled to the South of France.  We overheard some Americans behind us in a queue talking about the new and severe safety procedures put in place when they travelled.  My ex – in a very loud voice – said “New Yorkers got what they deserved on September 11th – they’ve been funding the IRA for decades!”  While my ex believed the attacks were a consequence of meddling in international politics, I focused on the future.

At the time I said to anyone who would listen that we shouldn’t send troops over to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Because Americans felt they had to do something, I advocated sending over the Army Corps of Engineers to Afghanistan and building hospitals, schools, irrigation systems and roads to encourage farmers to become builders and, those that remained in farming, should be given help and advice from the Americans to ensure that they grew food – not poppies.

Of course having a more positive response wouldn’t cure the world’s ills, but we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today had we looked at September 11th as an opportunity to break out of our cocoons, to show that we value life equally across the world, to provide inspiration for the politics of understanding and forgiveness.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to draw a line under something horrible and, by doing something positive in response, the world benefits.

Ten years later my life is a million times better than it was back then: I’m married to the love of my life; I have my multiple diagnoses for my chronic illnesses and, thanks to plenty of time and effort, I manage them reasonably well; and I live in a quiet village and enjoy a relatively stress-free life.  Unfortunately, some people haven’t had such a positive decade.

Peace to you and yours.



Let it be

It was just over a week before I was born when my Dad’s brother died in a car accident.  Because I never knew Uncle T, I could only surmise what he was like.  I was too young to know what questions to ask to know his essential personality.  (Which reminds me – I really must make a list of questions to ask my family before I travel to the US!)  I know he was a big man, and in those days his size was unusual.  If he had a similar car accident these days he probably would have survived.

Uncle T was buried in a village in the Midwest of the United States close to where the family lived not long before I was born.  I’m sure my arrival – along with the fact I had 10 fingers and 10 toes – mitigated their pain.  Someone died, someone else lived.

During that time The Beatles had their Number One hit “Let it be”.  Although I think it was written by Paul McCartney to help him say goodbye to The Beatles, my father found the song helped him in his grief.  I gave him a cassette tape with Beatles tunes on for Father’s Day one year.  Dad told me about his brother and how he died before I was born.  It’s strange how essential details of our existence arrive into our lives as if by accident: had I given him something else I’d never know…

Consequently, I’m finding that “Let it be” is helping me.  Dad is now resting beside his brother in the cemetery just outside the village.  A pathetic few words indicate that he existed.  A few sad numbers clock the days he spent living in this world.  A happy likeness adorns his stone – a photograph taken when he was 18.  He was full of promise then.  He didn’t have Parkinsons then.

“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be.”

When I was younger I used to think that Uncle T was a kind of guardian angel to me: I was told that he was keen on meeting me but never managed it.  Whether Uncle T was looking out for me or not, the fact that someone in the family died so close to my birth has always reminded me that we have to focus on the positives in our existence.  Someone dies, someone else is born.  There is a balance of pain and joy.  We would never fully appreciate happiness without suffering.

I’m the kind of person who, while I find suffering as difficult as everyone else, likes the cyclical nature of existence.  I always know what to expect – there will always be pain and joy throughout our lives.  You can’t have one without the other.

After all those years, losing his brother was such a traumatic experience that Dad got emotional when he heard “Let it be” that Father’s Day.  I think I’ll always cry when I listen to “Let it be” too.

“There will be an answer, let it be”



Five Things Friday

  1. My scary work project is finally nearly over.  I’ve been amalgamating two filing systems into one new system for the past few weeks.  Today I finished removing the files from the old systems – except for those that are currently being worked on.  I spent the afternoon beaming and smiling around the office.  It’s so nice to see an end to a long slog!
  2. A sleeping bag arrived today for Apollo’s visit.  We bought it online.  The neighbours are going to let us use their 3 man tent for the duration of his stay.  I’m really looking forward to showing him around!  He arrives with us the weekend 13/14th August.
  3. I wasn’t surprised that Amy Winehouse died.  Sad but not surprised.
  4. I generally don’t like fish – I think it’s due to my Midwestern US upbringing.  The closest body of water was several hundred miles away.
  5. My favourite cartoon is still Calvin & Hobbes.  Classic!

Five Things Friday

I saw this on Wishfulfillment Everyday and thought “what a good idea!”  Here’s five things for you:

  1. As you know I’m on my second marriage.  What you don’t know is that we probably watch far too much TV.  We religiously watch Top Gear every Sunday night.  We’ve seen all Star Treks – the original series, TNG, Voyager, DS9 and Enterprise.  We’ve seen all of Babylon 5 twice.  We’ve also seen all of Stargate and Stargate Atlantis.  It’s official – I’m a nerd!
  1. I only shower twice a week because I have long hair and very dry skin.  Although now I mention it, showering is a spectator sport in my house.  Occasionally I try to make the excuse of chatting to Helios when he’s in the shower but I usually just go to watch the show…
  1. Occasionally I buy generic presents on sale in anticipation of Christmas and neighbour’s birthdays.  This year I’ve taken all the ones I can find and have put them into a raffle as prizes for my Relay for Life – Cancer Research UK charity event this summer.
  1. I love baking cookies but find the dough a bit hard on my wrists.  I regularly have Helios’s help with the mixing.
  1. During the week I have eggs for breakfast but at the weekend I regularly have beans on toast with cheese and jalapenos peppers.



A friend of mine, J at My Autoimmune Life, lost her baby in January.  I had a dream about her last night: I was working in a doctor’s office and chatting with nurses.  I was crying, sobbing.  I was telling them about this patient who’d been through a number of miscarriages and who, when she’d finally had a baby, the baby died after only 13 days.  Then, after suffering the indignity of subjecting her baby to an autopsy, the doctors couldn’t find any reason why the baby died.  The more I cried, the more people came around to watch.  I expect they were trying to console me but they didn’t say anything…

I was sobbing.  I’m still tearing remembering it.  I had to get up at 5:15 a.m. to watch some TV.

While I didn’t believe it at the time, I think my miscarriages were a blessing.  However, there are times when I think God’s got it wrong.  As I’ve followed J, I’ve been through a full range of emotions over the past year or more – delighted for her when she looked like she’d be carrying “Littlest” to term.  Concerned but happy that Littlest came into the world safely.  I thought with medical science what it is, I could relax now and become a favourite auntie who regularly sends great presents.

I felt like I’ve been kicked in the gut when Littlest died.  In this day and age I just hadn’t begun to contemplate Littlest dying.  Oh sure, if we were talking 200 years ago when infant mortality rates were high I may have kept saying my prayer for her but this is 2011!  Tiny babies just aren’t supposed to die!

Then there’s the terrible irony that makes me angry: Littlest couldn’t have asked for nicer parents and she died!  J had tried and tried to carry to term and, when she finally had a beautiful baby I expected her bad luck to be over, you know?  I can completely understand J’s sentiments – that she doesn’t want to talk about God at the moment.  Would you?

I found myself angry with God on her behalf.  How much suffering can He put people through anyway?  I mean, I’d always thought that things generally turned out for the best and after a couple of years you might be grateful for certain things happening that you’d thought weren’t brilliant at the time.

It’s so hard to sit on the other side of theAtlanticfrom a friend in need.  Helplessness is a familiar feeling with my being stuck on another ocean side.  I’ve missed weddings and funerals but this circumstance shook me to the core.  There aren’t many things that would shake my beliefs but this has.

Since I’ve started re-evaluating my life, I’ve started looking into Buddhism.  I don’t expect I should be surprised that I’m finding answers there that Christianity hasn’t provided in this circumstance.  I know I’m cherry-picking my religions again, but it’s the best way for me to decide how the world should be.


Helios and Me

It was three years ago today that Helios married.  It was a wonderful day topped off by the fact that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.

Happy Anniversary my love!


Life in a circular form

For my mother who started the circle turning.

It was 20 years ago today that I turned 20. Twenty was a hard year for me. Firstly my sister’s father died on my 20th Birthday. I think I’m right in remembering that he was only 54. Bowel cancer. Yet another cancer that’s got a lot to answer for… I remember that night well. I was staying as a guest at Mom’s house (My old room was turned into a guest bedroom when I left for university.) when she got the call that he’d gone. Of course it was the middle of the night and my sister was already asleep. I don’t know how but Mom shoved her contact lenses in without hurting herself but she raced to get dressed and dashed out the door. After she left, I stood in my sister’s bedroom doorway, wishing there was a way I could protect her from what would happen to her the next morning. I was helpless in misery. Her life had changed and she didn’t even know it yet. Mom had left me with strict instructions to let my sister sleep so I did. I had classes early the next morning so I left before my sister woke up. I burned at the thought that my sister had lost her father. Wasn’t there something that I could do? There wasn’t. The funeral was moving but I only remember bits of it: photos going into the coffin, the gentle smile of someone who knew him as a friend, and meeting my sister’s paternal sisters. However, my main memory was of standing next to my uncle by the grave; we looked at one another with a strong determination, almost telling one another “We’ll get them through this” while my mom and sister were crying.

Mom came to visit me in my apartment a couple of weeks later. She was obviously still raw with emotion but I had to tell her something important: did she realise that he had died on my 20th birthday? No, and immediately she was shocked. I could see guilt coming to her eyes – which was not the emotion I wanted from her. I told her that he’d had 365 days to choose from to die and he chose my birthday so I thought it must mean something. I expect, knowing her the way he did, he wanted her to have happy memories of that day and be happy for the time that they had together. She could allow herself to be happy on the anniversary of his death because it was also my birthday. He died on my birthday because he wanted her to be happy: and he knew I wouldn’t take it personally. He really was a stunning man and I still miss him.

My useless boyfriend seemed to be of very little help to me at that time. Twenty was the year that I would be rid of him. I left him for a number of reasons: I was keen to have babies while he determined not to, I was discovering my religion (not something I talk about because I consider my relationship with My Maker to be personal and private) while he was determined to make me into an atheist, and he was already taking me for granted even though we’d only been together a couple of years. It was a cocktail that was lethal to the relationship but very good for me as a person: I felt I had the moral high ground when I left him. I felt like a stronger individual. Although it wasn’t easy, it was the right thing to do.

Mom, am I right in thinking that Twenty was also the year I changed majors at university? I started in Elementary Education and moved to European History when I decided that I might go for teaching older students. Once again, it was the new and improved stronger individual that made the decision when I walked into an elementary education maths class and a professor tried to tell me that 2×2 is not 4 – it’s 2 groups of 2. Now, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want to spend my hard-earned money only to discover that 2×2 is not 4! To be sure I was doing the right thing, I sent my CV to the local high school and did some volunteer work for a fantastic teacher. I would have made a great teacher, even she said so. I volunteered for a number of years at the high school and I’m still in contact with that fantastic teacher; although she has moved on to bigger and better things.

Now it’s twenty years after my 20th birthday and I’m still seeing the circular pattern that life has given me: I formulate my ideas; I go forward to implement my ideals and come back to reaffirm my philosophy. Theory into practice into theory again. There are times when practice will change your personal philosophy. Sometimes events reaffirm your beliefs. Some things don’t change: 2×2 still equals 4. The two most important women in my life are my mom and sister. Some things change for the better: I’m on my second marriage and I have two great stepkids. My stepson will be 20 this year – I wonder what life has in store for him? My theory is the circle rolls on…