WOYWW visitors – please scroll down to the first post for today.
The second of three posts for today, and the first of two “update” posts – I realised there was going to be too much for a single post, because such a lot has gone on this year. I have therefore decided to devote this first one to personal and health issues and other miscellaneous things, and to make a new post about my creative endeavours during the year, of which there have been many!
I can’t believe it’s that time of year yet again when I look back on the months that have passed and take stock, and look forward, hopefully always with optimism, to the year ahead. This is the fifth annual review post I have made – have I really been blogging this long???
We have celebrated our first year living in our new house, and reaped the benefit of so many months of upheaval, anxiety, stress, joy and fun that took place during the previous year, during the renovations, and this year we have been able to enjoy to the full all the carefully planned alterations which have made life easier for everybody.
One of the things which has been the most fun was finally to be able to move into my beautiful new ARTHaven and get it up and running and planned exactly how I wanted, so that it at last became my favourite room in the house, where I can immerse myself in art and creativity and shed the stresses of the day, in an environment carefully designed and planned by me, and brought to fruition by our wonderful builders, to enable the creative process to take place with the minimum of difficulty.
The year 2014 has been characterised by a series of health crises for us all – myself, my hubby and my mum, who lives in a flat occupying half the downstairs of the house. Just when we seemed to be entering a more stable period, something else happened, until I got to the stage when I wondered, “What next?” I know that compared with some people, our trials have been light, but nevertheless sometimes they have seemed hard to bear.
At the beginning of the year, now that we were really settled in, my hubby went up country to pick up my buggy (mobility scooter) which had belonged to my uncle, and this was installed in the garage with its own power supply, and enables me to trundle forth at the magnificent heartstopping rate of 4 mph to do my local errands – church, shopping, visiting etc. This is liberating!
In February I caught a nasty throat infection which left me coughing for months, and eventually in the summer I saw the doctor about it, and it became clear that the cough was a result of GORD (Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder) and I was put on medication for this (Omeprazole) and referred to an ENT surgeon at the hospital for a proper examination, which revealed that there was still evidence of inflammation so I was put on revolting Gaviscon which is a sore trial to take!!
In the summer I also had problems with an extremely dry mouth, but after seeing another hospital consultant, a disease cause was ruled out, and we came to the conclusion that it was just another recurring M.E. symptom raising its ugly head again. I was given some good advice, though, about nasal decongestion which has helped a lot.
I suffered very badly this summer with swollen ankles and again sought medical advice. Several pieces of advice bore good fruit, and I also invested in a Circulation Booster which helped a lot. The cooler weather helped considerably, later on.
Since our return from holiday when I was shocked at how much weight I’d gained, I decided to embark on the famous 5:2 diet, and am happy to report that having hit another plateau recently, with my weight remaining constant for several weeks, I have lost a total of 2 stone 3 lb (31 lb) in six months. I have another 2 stone to lose until I am at the optimum weight for my height, but it is great knowing that I am now officially “overweight” and no longer “obese”!
In the summer also, I was diagnosed with mild anaemia, probably as a result of my ongoing ulcerative colitis, and have been on ferrous sulphate ever since, although now on a reduced dose, with my Hg levels being checked monthly.
In August I had my regular gastro-enterology appointment at the hospital to check on the state of my ulcerative colitis, and I have a colonoscopy coming up in January 2015 (something that has to happen every 2 years). He is pleased with my progress and how I am responding to the medication (Pentasa (mesazaline)).
However, my main health event of the year was a coronary artery spasm causing severe chest pain at the end of July, landing me in hospital for a couple of days. I’ve had no recurrence since, apart from a few periods of much less severe chest pain, all of which have been brought on by stress. I have a nitro-glycerine spray for such events. Coming out of hospital I became a soggy emotional heap, and when that passed, I moved into a period of several months’ mild depression, feeling generally “out of sorts” with myself, which is apparently a very common reaction to any cardiac event.
My M.E. continues much the same. The condition appears to have “bottomed out” and while I am not improving, neither am I continuing to go downhill as I did at the beginning. I have many days when I am pretty well unable to function and need to rest, which can be frustrating at times, but there’s nothing to be done about it and one just has to go with the flow and try and be as sensible as possible. Having a new adjustable bed is giving me more comfort and better nights and I no longer hanker after my wonderful hospital bed that I wanted to take home with me! This is also helping a lot with the reflux. Life is certainly easier with the renovations we had done in the house to suit my needs and also that my hubby isn’t having to run around after me quite so much as in the past.
A few weeks ago my hubby had an accident on his motorcycle and broke his wrist. He was in plaster for several weeks, and is now wearing a wrist splint after the latest X-ray revealed that the bone had knit. He will have another X-ray in a couple of weeks’ time and hopefully then will be back to normal. It feels painful now the rigid support of the cast is gone, and it will take time for it to regain its full strength. The worst part of it from our point of view was that he was not allowed to drive with a cast, and with all the running around he has to do on our behalf, this added to the already considerable inconvenience for him.
Mum’s health has presented us with several crises this year – firstly the common occurrence of minor injuries to her paper-thin skin necessitating hospital visits and the regular and frequent re-application of dressings. She is now very deaf and also needs her ears syringing regularly. She has also started suffering a series of TIAs (mini-strokes) and has been diagnosed with AF (atrial fibrillation) and is now on warfarin, which necessitates weekly visits to the surgery for her blood to be tested to determine the dose. Her short term memory is poor, and since her most recent bout of TIAs she has become more difficult, which is stressful for me, and my dear hubby is trying to shield me as much as possible, by taking on most of the contacts with her. We both experience ongoing low-level stress, interspersed by the high-octane version brought on by frequent confrontations with Mum on various issues. How true it is that whatever one’s personality, this tends to be exaggerated in old age.
It wasn’t just us humans in the family who had health issues this year. Our senior kitty, Beatrice (aged 14), after being registered with our new vet, had four teeth extracted, and was discovered to have a growth in the back of her neck that had to be removed, which proved to be quite major surgery, but was fortunately proved to be non-malignant. In order to protect the wound, she wore a premature babygro!
Then followed a series of urinary tract infections which have become ever more frequent so that she is more or less constantly on antibiotics now, but keeping pretty well, and with a good appetite. She is too thin, and with her delicate stomach has to be on a prescription diet, and requires frequent small meals in order to prevent vomiting. She continues to be a great character and much loved by us all, and she and “Granny” have developed a strong mutual affection and she enjoys spending time with Mum in her flat. The vet, “Uncle Luke,” is extremely fond of her, and everyone down at the vets’ has a huge soft spot for this very unusual kitty who is bursting with character and a bit too intelligent for her own good sometimes!!
All these health pressures have definitely been helped by having my hair permed again in the summer! Luuurve the curls. Thank goodness for good hair days, fragrant baths, kitties, art, and my wonderful hubby.
I was devastated this year that my faithful old sewing machine (21st birthday present) bit the dust, but delighted to get a new Brother machine, which, as things have turned out, I haven’t had a lot of time to get up and running – just a few boring household jobs to be done, and I still have to look up in the book how to thread it!!
At the beginning of the year I invested in an iMac and after an initial trial period trying to run both the Mac OS and Windows on it via a system called Parallels, eventually came to the conclusion that Windows didn’t work well enough on this for me, and I would continue with my two (now fairly elderly but excellent) laptops for Windows, and use the Mac pretty well exclusively for video. I had a brief experience with an upgrade to the latest version of Pinnacle video editing software on Windows but as with earlier versions, was frustrated by its instability, and decided to bite the bullet and move to Final Cut Pro for Mac which has proved to be a very successful move indeed. With my new video camera setup I can now produce good quality HD videos and the program is a total dream to operate – makes me wonder why I didn’t stop messing about years ago and spend the money and get serious – I’d have saved a great deal in the long run! I have not had as much time to create videos this year as I would have liked – it is a highly time-consuming process but also very creative and enjoyable.
Finishing touches to the renovations included the installation of solar panels in the summer. We had been at a bit of a loss to know which company to approach, but our visit to the County Show was very fruitful, as we were able to speak one-to-one with several companies and come home armed with fliers. It was not hard to make our final choice, and the work went ahead very smoothly.
The major event of this year was my hubby’s retirement in the summer. He continues to be quite overwhelmed by the tremendous send-off he received, and all the gifts, cards, letters, emails etc. etc. I was a bit worried that he might feel the loss of role quite badly but he has had an incredibly busy time since, being carer for both Mum and myself, and various other commitments, but I am glad that he has been able to fit in quite a few days out doing the things he enjoys the most, and spending time with his friends. In the summer, for the first time he was able to volunteer on the local annual archaeological dig on a full-time basis. Knowing how precious these times are for him, I guard them jealously and try not to add to his commitments by asking that he drive me to things that aren’t strictly necessary, but we have had some nice outings together, and had a wonderful holiday (our first for 4 years) in the summer, coinciding with my school reunion, and the opportunity to immerse myself in some fabulous art. Our major and best day outing was to Bristol to view the Kaffe Fassett exhibition (click on the link at the top of my sidebar for pictures).
Since moving here, I have found an excellent church to join, and was admitted to full membership in the summer. I am thrilled that is is right on the doorstep and takes only a few minutes on the buggy to get there. I have made new friends there and the quality of worship and teaching is excellent.