Tuesday, 3 November 2015

So What Now?

I like to think of myself as a positive person overall yet my family tell me that's not always the case. Isn't it funny how we can perceive ourselves to be so different from how others see us? I presume they are going by my recent behaviour as I have to admit I have been a little down in the dumps of late, less patient, more cynical and definitely more anti-social. For those who don't know me personally after 2 years of to-ing and fro-ing to see my GP I have finally been diagnosed as having ME/CFS. Up 'til then it was just a vague "stress induced illness" label, so in a way it's a huge relief BUT also a massive kick in the gut as I have cared for both Tasha and Tara since being diagnosed with the same illness and so know the pitfalls and what to expect from this beast. Anyone who knows anyone with ME will understand how awful it is and so that is the reason for my recent lapse in communications, socialising and generally participation with the human race. It has floored me health wise over the past couple of weeks with virtually no energy and all the revolting symptoms of pain, headaches, enlarged lymph glands etc etc along with massive brain fog and moments when I have literally stood still in the middle of a room wondering what on earth I was doing!

However, there are some highlights for me to share with you amongst my moroseness. First off, regarding my previous blog, To Do List by 50, I stated for one of my "to do's" that (and I quote) I would...

"Let the girls do a make-over on me and wear whatever they decide for the day ~ I have no fashion, I just wear jeans and man jumpers with Docs or trainers. I like to be comfortable. The girls would like to see me looking girly and feminine so I have said they can choose an outfit (gulp ~ even if it is a dress or skirt) and put make-up on me and I will keep the look for the day. No idea when I'll let them do this, but it's one to have for a rainy day perhaps"

Well, this is one I can now tick off the list. Myself and The Dave had been invited to share in celebrating a friends wedding and typically I had "nothing to wear" for the evening do. At which point my girls stepped in and suggested a shopping trip and make-over on the day. So Tasha and The Dave came shopping with me, Tasha chose my dress and accessories. On the day Tara did my make-up and Tasha styled my hair, this is the end result of the "Mum Make-over"...

I must admit I felt very much out of my comfort zone wearing make-up and wearing "girly" clothes but part of me also liked it. Sadly I had to rub off the foundation and powder early in the evening as I started to react to it but the eye make up, eyebrows and lippy stayed firmly in place. Thank you girls xx

Another on my "to do" list is to grow my hair. This is obviously an ongoing operation for me and there are days when I have to sit on my hands to stop myself reaching for the scissors and chopping it all off. Knowing my frustration, Tasha permed my hair for me so that in a morning I just damp it, scrunch and it's done. No more washing my hair daily which for someone with ME is a real boost as I don't have to drag my carcass into the shower every day to clean it and waste vital energy, I am a dab hand a strip washes now I must say (not showering doesn't mean being dirty!).

So crazy purple mama is now sporting the retro 80's perm #bouncy! 

Purple filter for the Purple Mama
As we are now in November we have sadly had to close up our little holiday getaway for winter and had it drained down so that pipes don't freeze and burst whilst we are away. It's always a wrench to know that we won't be able to visit again until March, however, it's good to know it's there and we can go back for our monthly visits to the coast again next year.

I'm not sure if it's being ill, having depression or just general old aged-ness (aka grumpy old woman syndrome) but I find Christmas is so overrated. Not being of a religious nature, I don't celebrate Christmas as a religious festival but more of a time to spend with my family AND being a family who are challenged both physically and mentally we tend to have a very chilled, quiet, low key affair. No big parties, high jinx or mass excess, more pj's, bucks fizz, films, chatter, games and early to bed. We all chat as we cook and share in the preparation and setting up - it's not a job for just one person it's a communal experience for us, especially as we have so many specific diets to cater for, vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, lactose free, low fat, low salt and low sugar! 

While I'm on the subject of Christmas I also loathe the gift giving part too - why is everything so commercialised? It really annoys me, to the point where I become either angry of very grumpy and bah humbug. The carols, the fake cheer, the buy, buy, buy adverts selling "perfect gifts" get my back up. Can you love a "gift" can a "gift" give you a hug, be there for you when you are down or laugh when you are silly - no of course it can't. Why spend money for the sake of it - instead I prefer to give little gifts throughout the year to people as and when they need something, for no other reason that that it will make them smile and help them out. For myself I want nothing at all but if someone insists then please either donate to either of the two charities I support Invest in ME Research (because myself, Tasha and Tara have ME) or British Heart Foundation (as The Dave has had several heart "episodes" and surgery) - donations at least are a gift to many as it pays towards ongoing research to help sufferers. Although for my family/friends who don't want to do that then come have a cuppa and a chat instead of giving me a gift to unwrap. The same goes for other celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries. As I get older I want less stuff but more time with those I care about. This year I will not be sending out cards and will be talking to family about future gift giving and asking them to not buy us any and hope they understand. Am I alone on this I wonder? Perhaps it was losing mum just before Christmas that changed my perception of the holiday because it was a time we always spent together and I can't even begin to tell you how much I miss her, the hole she left in my heart can never be filled but with each passing year I am able to smile more as I remember her and cry less. Her memory makes me want to squeeze every ounce of joy from every moment I have with my loved ones, make wonderful memories and hold them tight. Scarily, we never know when we are speaking to someone we care about for the last time, fate doesn't always keep us in the loop that way. 

Anyhoo, this grumpy old biddy is now going to go oft and have a cuppa whilst contemplating so what now? Who knows, is the answer I suppose, let's just see where our journey takes us next. Til next time.....

Sunday, 11 October 2015

To Do List by 50

Life is short and many of us forget to live it to the fullest. We get swamped by life, being mothers, wives, partners and forget the we are also ourselves in our own right. I adore my family, they make me belly laugh and class them as my closest friends. I love spending time with them which is one of the greatest gifts life has given me. We have many conversations and said "you must do that" to each other when talking about what we would like to do before we die.

Our family conversations and recent health issues have prompted me to revamp my bucket list and give myself a time frame to finish it by. I have decided that I want to achieve these by the time I hit 50 because who knows how long we have left on this earth and when our allotted time is up?

I have now separated my list into two parts, those already achieved and those yet to mark off as completed. As you can see the yet to complete is longer, but I have until May 2019 to get them all done.

So far these are what I have successfully achieved and marked as "ticked"...

Write a blog ~ I have done this as you can see 
No booze for a month ~ also accomplished in a past sober for October fundraising event for Invest in ME.

Get a Tattoo ~ I was late to the game on this one and had my first tattoo on my 41st birthday followed 3 more since then. They all have significance for me; the first is the St Cuthberts Cross surrounded by 5 stars, the cross signifies my mum (she wore a St Cuthberts Cross for as long as I can remember and bought me one too), the 5 stars are for the 5 baby boys I miscarried at 12 weeks each time. I have learnt that my body cannot carry boys and that is why I miscarried them. My second Tattoo was the M interwoven with a heart going into infinity symbol. This is our family tattoo (M signifies Mawer). The third was the little fox which Tasha hand poked onto my ankle, which means a lot to me and she has the identical tattoo herself. The final tattoo is the cont;nue one ~ this was inspired by project semicolon. I tried to commit suicide at the age of 18 and thankfully was unsuccessful, however throughout my life I have suffered from anxiety and depression and so this reminds me that life goes on.
My tattoos
Have a facial piercing ~ I completed this along with the tattoo on my 41st birthday and had my nose pierced at the same time.

Sunday, 4 October 2015


A few years ago, we decided on a budget holiday to Primrose Valley in Yorkshire. We booked a static caravan which allowed us to bring our dog (we only had Taylor back then) and off we went. We were smitten, the local area was beautiful, the park clean, well laid out and perfect for our needs. By the end of the holiday we had bought our very own caravan and booked the pitch where it would sit. We are very lucky to have a quiet cul de sac location, the setting is peaceful, private and relaxing. Whenever possible we hop into the car and go for a few days to spend some time just revelling in the wonderful peaceful environment and fresh sea air.

To say it's my happy place would be a massive understatement. Many people are funny about holiday parks like this and caravans, but for us it's perfect. The dogs love it, girls love it and so do we - we don't go for the park facilities and "entertainment" but use it as a base for our days out, plus it has access straight onto the beach.

Now that our girls are older we are enjoying the luxury of mini breaks on our own, without dogs and their paraphernalia, as now we have 3 it's almost like packing up a car back in the days when we had younger children, instead of high chairs it's dog beds, toys and bowls etc.

If you haven't been I would highly recommend the Yorkshire coast, it is simply beautiful. Here are some photos from our recent trip (sans dogs and teenagers).

Bridlington when tide is out
Whitby Harbour
Whitby again ~ go to Fish Box by the harbour for fabulous fish and chips.
Bemptom Cliffs ~ amazing array of wildlife and bird reservation
Looking down at Robin Hood Bay and the old town
Robin Hood Bay ~ great old town with history
Robin Hood Bay ~ Old town with small narrow streets down a steep incline to the sea
Robin Hood Bay ~ many old doors and some unusual maritime door knockers to be found too
Robin Hood Bay ~ down by the sea, tide was in.
Flamborough Head ~ Lighthouse and cliffs 
Flamborough Head ~ if it wasn't for the dastardly ME I would have been down these!
Flamborough Head ~ simply stunning
The Stunning Yorkshire Moors
Filey Beach
Filey Beach where I spend much of my time
Great local pub ~ does wonderful home-cooked food & will go off-menu for you too! The owners collect everything and the place is full of memorabilia of all kinds yet still spotlessly clean.
Luxuriating in the October sun and enjoying a chilled white
Happy us in our Happy place
Sadly it is almost the time of year where we have to drain down the caravan and close it up for winter. We have one more mini break planned before then at the beginning of November and then that's it until March next year. I hope you enjoyed a sneaky peak at my happiest of happy places.


Thursday, 1 October 2015

It is done ~ steak I'm coming for you!

30 days of vegetarianism = DONE!
Thank you one and all for all your support and encouragement throughout my month as a vegetarian. I must admit although I missed my much beloved meat dishes there were also a few vegetarian dishes that went down very well indeed. So I have made the decision to be 50/50, half the week I shall have my meat dishes and the rest of the week will be vegetarian. This means I am now classed as a "flexitarian" which is beneficial because, and I quote...

"It gives you the health benefits of a vegetarian diet without having to follow the strict rules," says Blatner, a registered dietitian "We know that people live longer and live healthier when they eat vegetarian, but it's just too darn hard to do it 100 percent of the time."

Most flexitarians have about 2 or 3 veggie days a week and the rest meat, which suits me perfectly. When I eat out I will also check out the veggie options, and sometimes pick them instead of my meat based ones. I know committed vegans and vegetarians will see this as a cop out but surely opting for less meat days and some veggie is a step in the right direction? I watched a documentary recently about the impact of us meat eaters, with the growing population, on the environment and so I want to do my bit but am too weak to give up my meat fully ~ so yes, I know I could do more, but at least I'm doing something.

So, for your viewing pleasure I give you pictures of my evening meals for the past month (breakfast was always a bowl of Rice Krispies or Bite Size Shredded Wheat and lunch was always a banana and meal replacement shake just for your information)

For the last two days I am sadly sick, got the lurgy but The Dave has whisked me away for some sea air and rest ~ so I am currently happily resting away in my sea-side retreat. The caravan's a bit nippy but thankfully packed plenty of warm jumpers and the fire is doing it's job! As you can tell, being away we are being lazy and eating very easy to prepare foods - but still on the vegetarian trip until the end and none the less tasty for it's simplicity either.

Day 29 ~ Wholemeal Bagel, beans & Scrambled Egg
Day 30 ~ Pub Fare, Cheese & Coleslaw in Granary bread with sides of chips & onion rings (shared the sides with The Dave).
For the last time, as I celebrate tonight, I shall give you the links to my fundraising page and the number for texting donations. Any support or shares would be enormously appreciated. I repeat what I said in my last blog that your donations, no matter how big or small, are enormously appreciated not only myself but also fellow sufferers because it means your funds are helping Invest in ME Research to move forward with their vital research into this illness.

If you are unaware of how ME affects the sufferer then this may help you understand. Each patient is different, symptoms will vary from day to day and some are more severe than others. Whilst the mild sufferer can manage a "normal-ish" life, working part-time and pacing well, a severe suffer is bed ridden, needing 24 hour care and support. Wherever you are on the spectrum of severity it is a hugely unpleasant and isolating illness. It takes so much from you and gives nothing in return.

For us, with two teenage daughters having moderate to severe ME and myself, their carer, having mild to moderate ME, life has become a challenge. It's a juggling act requiring planning and contingencies. The girls had to leave school and miss out on vital education because if it. We have three wheelchairs and two pairs of crutches, bed cradles, shower stools etc. It's not an easy illness to live with. That's why for us personally, and all other sufferers, your support is vital and much appreciated. The more that ME is recognised and accepted for the real physical illness it is and NOT as a psychological "it's all in your mind" illness then steps can be made to change how patients are perceived by some members of the medical profession and general public.

As always here is the text code if you wish to donate or you can go via the justgiving page

Thank you for sharing this journey with me, it's been a blast!
p.s. this will be my dinner tonight & I can't wait...

Monday, 21 September 2015

21 down ~ only 9 left to go

I can't believe I am now on the home stretch *whoop whoop* ~ only 9 meagre days left, which will be a doddle and so my last blog about this challenge will be in 10 days time on 1st October when I will be celebrating completing my vegetarian month with a HUGE juicy steak with all the trimmings and a nice LARGE glass of wine or two.

So, what have I been eating this week?..
Day 15 ~ Jacket potatoes, coleslaw and salad

Day 16 ~ Broccoli & Tomato quiche with salad
Day 17 ~ Falafel & houmous salad bagels (made by Keisha) Delicious!!!
Day 18 ~ Linda McCartney Country Pie & Veg
Day 19 ~ Veggie Burger and home made baked healthy chips with spices
Day 20 ~ Sweet Potato & Bean Burger
Day 21 ~ Oriental Vegetable & Noodle Stir Fry in Black Bean Sauce
Unfortunately I've not been feeling too good this week and had to deal with the issues the dastardly M.E. saw fit to throw at me. I cannot express strongly enough how much your donations, no matter how big or small, mean to not only myself but also fellow sufferers. Invest in ME Research is our hope for better health in the future, it's funds raised by sufferers, their friends and family and their supporters who are raising the funds for this vital research as sadly it is lacking via any other source.

As always here is the text code if you wish to donate or you can go via the justgiving page

Thank you all for your support thus far and join me to celebrate on 1st October!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

14 down, 16 to go!

I have started dreaming about meat and in particular of a red juicy rare steak doing the can can towards me and home-made burgers in baps dancing in the background and wake up with my mouth watering! I will NOT give in or succumb, instead count down the days until meat is once again on the menu, I've made it to almost half way, the end is ever closer.

So what's been on the menu this week? Lucky for me we were taken out to dinner on Day 9 by The Dave's American pals it was lovely to eat, chat and catch up. However because of the exertion ME has been kicking my butt so I'm afraid quite boring as mostly convenience foods this week.

Day 8 ~ Sweet Potato Kiev; looks bland but didn't taste that bad

Day 9 ~ Garlic Mushroom starter followed by Brie, red onion & Pepper tart with salad and herb potatoes every bite was delicious!
Day 10~ Wholewheat pasta, Linda M's meatless balls in tomato & basil sauce with cheeky topping of lactofree cheese on top ~ was rather disappointing meatballs were pretty tasteless and a little cardboard like in texture.
Day 11 ~ Wine and Stuffed Crust Veggie Supreme Pizza (It was one of THOSE days!)
Day 12 ~  Lack of appetite and ability to cook so Butternut squash Soup
Day 13 ~ Still feeling poop so Mozzarella and tomatoes 
Day 14 ~ still on the soup this time Exorcist Green Pea & Asparagus
As always here is the text code if you wish to donate or you can go via the justgiving page

Hoping my appetite comes back soon and ME crash starts to recede, even though feeling poop the dreams of red meat dancing in front of me taunting me continue which makes me even more determined to see this through. My vegan daughter truly doesn't understand how hard this is for me because she doesn't like meat so doesn't miss it, but is very encouraging and that's a real help for me.

 So, two weeks down and two weeks two days more to go (not that I'm counting down at all, sheesh!) until I can taste that steak!