14 October 2015

Health... so glad we have it

Though it is only Wednesday, it's been an interesting week, and one which has reminded this fat lass just how damn lucky she is.

Monday brought news that my cousin is not doing so well, and his gastric problems (for which he had major emergency surgery a couple of years back) have returned. I don't know the full details yet, but am rather concerned for him.

Tuesday saw a visit to my new GP to discuss staying on HRT for a while longer [pleeeeez!] and also to see what could be suggested to relieve the damn nuisance which my left knee has become (an old tale, but somewhat worse these days - after weeks of shifting furniture and boxes I guess).

I went primed, having done some background reading as I was half expecting the extended 'increased risks' fight over the HRT as I've been taking 'my' version of mother's little helpers for more than five years now. I was dreading it, to be honest, as I thought this would be time to stop, and I still remember all too well how awful the start of menopause was... Almost everything I've read indicates that symptoms return, sometimes in spades, if you come off the medication - even if you are gradually 'weaned off'.

Thankfully, we were able to have a very sensible discussion, both about HRT and some possible alternatives. My lovely (female, and fifties) GP turned out to be pretty amenable to my continuing the status quo for another year, at least, given that I've not got too awful a family history and have done a lot in lifestyle changes to mitigate some of the more obvious health risks associated with HRT. Phew, so looks like I get a temporary pass on morphing back into Alecto, my old mate the Fury - that one characterised by constant, unceasing anger.

Then came the big surprise. A few years ago when I talked to my previous practice about my dodgy knee I was fobbed off with physio (which helped a bit) and an x-ray (which was a pretty pointless exercise for something I suspected to be soft tissue related). This time I was offered an MRI scan(!) to properly investigate what's happening - probably damaged cartilage. Watch this space.

Today brought another health related day trip, this time to the eye clinic with my darling lovely hubby. Wow, up here (a well respected teaching hospital) they are SO organised, and so 'human'. I know that sounds odd, but he was treated with care and respect and kindness by everyone we encountered, from start to finish. We were very impressed.

His somewhat 'chopped about' eye (after macular hole surgery, full retinal detachment repair and subsequent cataract surgery) was thoroughly checked over and found to be in a pretty good state, except that a small, leftover suture was discovered to be working it's way out. The consultant was not happy to leave it there and before we could think for a moment, having administered a local anaesthetic eye drop, whipped out a pair of fine tweezers and scalpel and removed it on the spot. Goodness, we didn't have time to worry - he just motored on and did it, and it was all over in a flash. Perfect, and some tiny droppers of antibiotics to take home too - not even a wait for a prescription!

The other eye was also checked very carefully as there was a minor concern about the scan showing the retina being slightly 'uneven'. With the history from the first eye... better safe than sorry, eh. Looks like things are OK though, and there is no sign of any new (diabetic related) damage to either eye. Thank goodness - we'll take that!

What made me pause for thought though was the number of other people there for their eye appointments. Everyone you could imagine, from mums with their tiny babies to very elderly and infirm people in wheelchairs, from an extremely smart gentleman in a pinstriped suit with a posh briefcase (a lawyer maybe?) to a poor chap who looked almost down and out. All there because they had problems of some sort with vision. The fact that I am absolutely fine in this respect and lovely hubby is doing OK is a big blessing, and one I must make sure to count.

So, that combined with the fact that we are both fit and strong enough to have walked there and back (there are hills here too) gives me some pretty amazing blessings to take account of today. Autumn colours and a little sunshine add a few more. Whatever happens in life, there are always good things too. Sometimes, when times are uncertain or challenging, I just have to be reminded of that.

Onwards and most definitely upwards...

04 October 2015

A long road travelled...

...and boy, does it ever feel like it!

Hello world. Not sure if anyone will be left to read this as it has been such a long time since I last wrote anything but... if anyone is interested, I'm still around. Settle down with a cuppa kids, this is shaping up to be a looong read!

A whole helluva lot has happened since the last time anything got posted here, and if I can stand aside from the chaos for a moment to report back, the vast majority of that journey has been positive. Some stuff not so, and some pretty rotten (as life tends to be), but I'll get to that. Let's start off with the good stuff.

The move from our former flat and an end to living in the 'not very exciting' flatlands of Cambridgeshire territory went ahead just as May came to an end. Janey Mac, but that was a hard slog! However, my darling lovely hubby and I now benefit from land which has height as well as breadth. I always knew I'd missed hills, but didn't realise quite how much until we came to Nottinghamshire.

This is definitely a big plus. I really love seeing the play of light and shadow across distant hillsides on the walk downhill into town. I love the feeling of 'making an effort' walking uphill back from a shopping trip - especially carrying bags of heavy shopping. I love the fact too that I can do this relatively easily, and that probably tells you something as well.

Despite the multiple (and seemingly never ending) stresses of:
- downsizing (a LOT!)
- shedding much-loved possessions (aaargh - books!)
- making the move to a very much smaller flat in a completely unknown area
- knowing no-one at all
- quitting my job (hmmm, some definite pluses and minuses here)
- getting accustomed to being at home all day (for now, anyway)
- my lovely hubby's retirement and a lack of 'routine'
- finding 'trustworthy' contractors to rip out/replace a very tired and crappy bathroom and kitchen (all within our rather restricted budget)
- the dust, disruption, and glitches & hold-ups of the work taking place
- the joys of searching (unsuccessfully as yet, dammit!) for a new job
and SO much more, I'm still here.

Better yet (and I'm actually quite surprised to be able to say this), there hasn't been any significant change to my weight. Blimey! My clothes still fit me (now they've been unearthed from somewhere within the depths of a gazillion boxes!). I'm still fairly fit for an ageing former-fat lass too, as shifting furniture, those jolly old boxes, and so much more hasn't killed me off yet. Yes, I know I 'could do better' and could do with a bit of (er, lot of) toning but I promise that will come as life settles more.

I can happily report that, having moved to a new area, our health has been thoroughly checked out by a new GP practice. Hey, both of us are doing pretty darned well, even with our kooky way of eating which completely flies in the face of all NHS advice. Yep, we're still low carb, high fat and adequate protein munchers, and loving it.

We're well, that is... with one small proviso. We're waiting for an MRI scan for lovely hubby as there's a niggling concern about the underlying causes for his increasing hearing loss - the upshot is they are hoping to rule out something sinister behind it. This is a regular source of worry to me in the dead of night at the moment, but my tame angel assures me it'll all be fine... honest guv'nor.

But back to the positive stuff - counting those blessings that remain as a daily memorial to and reminder of my darling Mum. Oh yes, I did get that tattooed on my back by the way. I'll see if I can be brave and put a photo up at some stage.

After a bit of a shaky start I'm beginning to love our new home. Although compact and bijou the flat is fine - secure and warm, and a permanent place to settle for the future. Although we are not 100% done yet and still have the bedroom to de-box and organise, somehow, we have carpet on the floor at last (I could not have begun to understand the joy of this statement until we'd lived in a bare and echoey box for months!) and fresh clean paint on the walls. We now have hot water, a shower, a fully workable (and whizzy) kitchen, our beloved pictures on the walls and our remaining books beautifully arranged on the shelves (now this has made a real difference for the better).

We are a little way off a main road into the city so everything we could wish for is pretty close by, and the transport links are really good too. Great now and a definite bonus for the future as we get older. We look more or less southwards out onto an old brick-built mill building (converted to flats) across a grassy slope with trees gently beginning to shed their goldening leaves (in the sunshine at the moment and it is beautiful). We even have bats performing a synchronised fly-past each evening - now there's a joy to watch indeed. We have a colony of argumentative magpies visiting every morning to scavenge and squabble, and even the occasional visit from a jay and a couple of squirrels.

As life always goes though, not everything is entirely rosy. My dear friend is having a pretty bad time after her surgery (which thankfully went well) ever since the path lab reported back with less than positive news from the biopsies. She's now subsumed within a welter of ongoing and traumatic treatment, with none too jolly prospects and a lot of pain, and trying hard to stay positive. It's hard as there's nothing we can do to help in any way.

We also just lost a friend from our old neighbourhood, a little over a week ago. A lovely, smart, sophisticated, funny, incisive, gentle gentleman who was a real high-flyer back in the day. He'll be sadly missed, by us (lovely hubby was especially close to him) but especially by his wife. Again, it's hard knowing there's nothing one can do to be of any real help. Life really does suck sometimes.

I've been finding I miss friends and colleagues from my former life more than I thought would happen, so feel/have felt slightly isolated at times. Logically speaking, I know this will doubtless change when I do find work and develop some sort of social life (and by that I mean regular interaction with a range of people, rather than going out and about on the town) in this new area. Until then though it sometimes feels just a tad lonely - that means the dreaded black dog sniffs around whenever he gets a chance. At times he gets the upper hand, but thankfully not for too long.

Until I'm working again finances are a bit of a concern too, but these negatives notwithstanding I think we made the right decision to move. It's been a long journey, and one which isn't over yet, but on balance life is pretty good. I think we can settle down and feel at home here and one of our big worries about growing older (the old insecurity) has been lifted from us.

A very nice thing on the horizon is a visit from my sister later this week. She hasn't been able to come until we were a bit more organised and I'm really looking forward to a few days catching up, sharing time together and relaxing. Glad we always have the phone to keep in touch but a big sis hug is always best.

Right, enough of me blithering. As I usually say... onwards, ever upwards.

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