Weekly roundup

My little autumnal blip seems to be stabilizing, though I’m not anywhere near as good as I was in the nice weather.  The good news is that my brain fog has lifted (I’m always foggy headed, but at least now I don’t feel like I’m drugged) and I don’t feel as fluey and achy.  My energy levels are also better, if not brilliant.  The bad news is I’ve had a run of stonking headaches/migraines, my pain levels are still high (my hip is getting much worse) and I’m still not sleeping.

Despite everything I’ve had another busy week, but at least it was self-inflicted (for the most part).  Monday I had my long-awaited appointment with the Oral Surgeon regarding my sub-luxing jaw and TMJ pain.  He’s suggested trying a mouth guard on my bottom teeth at night, which I know won’t do a shite of good.  However, I have to try it if only to tell him it’s not done a shite of good.  I go back to see him in February for a follow-up.  I know the answer is actually some kind of mouth guard, but it’s going to have to be custom made and somehow fused top and bottom to stop my jaw slipping into my earhole as I sleep!  He was actually a really nice Consultant though, and was mortified I hadn’t been under the care of a Rheumatologist since my Ehlers-Danlos was diagnosed back in 2010!  He’s going to write to my GP and strongly suggest I see someone locally.  The other thing he was horrified to discover is that I don’t have an epi-pen, despite my almost total drug allergies and history of reactions after food.  He suggested I tackle my GP about this, though I feel it should have come from Dr Seneviratne when he wrote to my GP last year.

Tuesday evening I attended a 2 hour beginners workshop run by my local camera club, and Wednesday evening was the weekly camera club meeting.  Oh boy do I struggle to do things in the evening, let alone two evenings on the trot, but I was still glad I made it even though four days on I’m still suffering the consequences.

Yesterday (Saturday) I also attended a 2 hour workshop on how to mount photographic prints.  This coming Wednesday I enter my first camera club print competition and there are strict rules on how entries can be submitted.  There are 6 competitions in all over the year and the person scoring highest in their class gets promoted to the next class up.  Here are my two entries – wish me luck!

Today my friend K is coming over and we’re going out for lunch.  She’s been chocka with cold for weeks now and it feels like forever since we’ve had a natter, so I’m looking forward to that :-)  I then really need to rest this week (well, apart from my Dad’s hernia operation on Tuesday and my physio appt on Wednesday for my hip,) so that I have enough energy to get to the EDS conference next weekend.  Who am I kidding?  My Mum can’t do a thing, and following surgery I’m fairly sure my Dad will also be laid up, so I will be on Daughter duty the entire time.  Not that I mind, because Bertie has practically lived at their house this week while I’ve been gallivanting, as well as staying there overnight if I ever do make it to Birmingham.  He loves being at his Nanna and Granda’s because they eat meat and give him all sorts of treats off their dinner plate which he never gets off his vegetarian Mum.  It’s a wonder he ever wants to come home ;-) .

 

Frankenfoods – Part 3

Disclaimer:  As I’ve said many times throughout my blog I’m just a patient not any kind of expert, particularly not of food or nutrition, so thoughts stated in this post are just my own observations. 

When I started my blog I put a few recipes up and just expected it to be read by half a dozen British people with histamine problems.  I had no idea the number of visitors I would have from other countries, particularly America, which has made me conscious of the differences in foods between the UK and other countries.

There have been a couple of excellent documentaries on tv here in the past couple of months.  One of which was Horizon which looked at the environmental cost of meat production and consumption.  It was difficult for me as a vegetarian to watch, and I kind’ve sneaked a peak from behind my cushion at all the dead bloody carcasses hanging up, but quite an eye opener in terms of how food is produced particularly in the States.

I’ve read about Paleo diets in the course of my health investigations and they all mention eating “grass fed beef”.  It’s always had me a bit stumped – what on earth else would you be feeding cows other than grass?!  I had no idea that on large scale American beef farms there is not a blade of grass in sight and that cows are fed on a dry diet made from corn.  In contrast, Britain is a tiny country and simply doesn’t have room for farming on this scale.  All our cows are put out to pasture for most of the year, although obviously in deep winter there is no grass production and they are fed on sileage (a grass product grown in summer and stored for feed in winter) and other dried cereal food mixes.

One argument against vegetarianism is that there isn’t enough land for us all to grow plant foods, but it’s such a load of old tosh.  Cattle and sheep take up vast areas of land for grazing, and on top of that we have to put a similar amount of land aside to grow cereal crops and grass for sileage to feed cattle in winter (and in America all year round).  Without sheep and cattle we’d have vast areas of agricultural land.   In recent years there has been a small push here in the UK to try and get people to have one meat-free day per week to try and reduce our beef consumption in particular, though I’m sad to say it hasn’t really worked.  In terms of milk and milk by-products like cheese IMHO we need to focus on goats, sheep or hardier  cattle breeds which can survive on non-agricultural land, eg. heathland and hills (or in America more desert-like conditions as goats do in Africa).

Our current large scale cattle farming methods means we have a huge problem with animal by-products (or poop to you and me).  I live next door to a dairy farm and trust me when I say they produce humongous amounts of poo.  It never crosses the average consumer’s mind where all this stuff goes to and I’m sure they’d be horrified to know that much of it ends up in our fresh water supply, along with the chemical fertilizers used to grow the grass for the cows in the first place!

I had no idea that cows were routinely given antibiotics in America which are actually banned here in Europe.  It makes me glad that, for many years, I’ve bought organic dairy products wherever possible, because the over-use of drugs in dairy herds is widespread on both sides of the pond, and although some drugs are still allowed in organic farming they’re not anywhere near on the scale of those used in non-organic.  It now makes perfect sense to me why health-conscious Americans are so careful about what kind of beef and other meats they consume.

The other thing I’ve never understood when reading about American food is “high fructose corn syrup”.  I had no clue what this was as it simply doesn’t feature on English food labels.  I discovered that in Europe HFCS is called Fructose-Glucose Syrup and, although is still doesn’t seem to feature anywhere near as highly in Britain as America, you will often see it in biscuits and cakes.

I also didn’t understand the whole “corn” debate in America as the only corn we consume here is the odd tin of Sweetcorn, until I realised that “corn” is actually what we call “maize” and is fairly widely grown (though not as widely as wheat).  We don’t think of maize as being unhealthy in any way however and the little girl my parents sponsor in Africa lives on the stuff (along with yams and goat’s meat, milk and by-products) and she’s as fit as a fiddle.  Maize has been around since pre-historic times according to Wikipedia, (which blows the paleo non-grain eating ancestor theory totally out of the window) so I guess it all boils down to what you do to it post-harvest, ie. the mixing of it with sugars to form HFCS!

However, in Britain and Europe we don’t grow genetically modified maize (corn) or any other GM crop, and I’d certainly feel differently about eating maize if we did.  America, on the other hand, is the largest GM growing country in the world.  The problem with growing GM crops is that it negates choice.  Once GM crops are grown they naturally cross-pollinate with non-GM crops resulting in contamination.  In Britain, no-one would be allowed to class their crops as “organic” if they were GM contaminated and none of us would have the choice of eating non-GM crops if we so desired.  With GM, it really is a case of once the Genie is out of the bottle there is no way of putting it back in.  Not everyone agrees, however, as this recent article in the Observer newspaper points out.

We have an ever increasing population and ever dwindling land and resources with which to feed us all.  The problem is vast and complex.  On the one hand people in certain parts of the world are starving and on the other in some western countries three quarters of the population are obese.

We in the developed world throw away obscene amounts of food, and food packaging, every day.  One thing making everything from scratch has taught me is to be less wasteful – you don’t spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to then chuck the food in the bin, and I scrape every last drop of the sauces I make out of the jar!  I personally would like to see the issue of food waste tackled rather than growing GM crops or feeding cows in ways that are so removed from their natural habit it’s grotesque.

There are solutions to our food production and consumption problems, but they’re incredibly difficult to implement.  It’s easier to just grow more food (let’s ignore the fact that half of everything we produce goes to landfill!) than to change people’s food buying and cooking habits (which for a start would mean every company which produces TV dinners would go out of business). One thing is for sure – the current state of affairs isn’t working and simply can’t carry on.

 

 

 

 

Attitude is everything

As regular readers of my blog will know, I’m not a big fan of whingers.  Those people who spend every waking minute feeling sorry for themselves, asking “why me?”, needing sympathy and wanting someone to ‘fix’ them or their situation.  I know that comes across as harsh but, sick or not sick, we in the developed world have no clue what a hard life is.  We were not orphaned at the age of 5, had our eyes gauged out and had to go begging on the streets in India.  We are not so poor we send our children to scavenge on rubbish tips as they do in Brazil.  We are not dying of AIDS, shunned by our village and left to die, alone, in a mud hut in 45C heat, surrounded by flies and literally starving to death as we are too weak to carry water or make food, as happens in Africa.  We are sick, but we are sick in luxury.

I don’t have much money, but I have a warm, dry, home.  I sleep in a huge, soft, warm, comfy bed.  I have clean water on tap.  I do a poop and it gets flushed away……..somewhere I don’t have to think about.  I have access to gorgeous food that’s delivered to my door.  The entire world, and everything in it, is at the tip of my fingers through my laptop.  I have the security blanket of the welfare state, broken as it may be.  I have health care, broken and sometimes inaccessible as that too may be.  I don’t have to worry about being raped by gangs carrying guns, or having my village bombed by opposing military forces.  I don’t have to worry about my genitals being mutilated or have to marry at the age of 11 to some bloke who’s old enough to be my grandad.

During my 20 years of illness the only practical help I’ve ever received has been 6 hours from a paid Carer, who cleaned my home, changed my bed sheets, did my ironing and did my shopping.  Other than that, I was on my own.  While I was bedridden I managed to get a new roof put on my house, deal with rising damp (including having all the plaster chipped off downstairs, a damp course installed, replastered and re-decorated), have a new patio laid, have a new kitchen fitted, and the entire inside of the house remodelled and re-decorated.  All this, despite being so sick at times I was told I might die.  For 10 years I shared my home with a succession of nice, and not so nice, lodgers to make ends meet.

I moved house in 2004.  I could only afford a ‘do-er-upper’ and couldn’t afford to get people in to do the work, so I did much of it myself.  I’ve chipped off tiles and plaster.  I’ve installed new electrical sockets.  I’d sanded and varnished wooden floors.  I’ve painted.  I’ve hung new doors.  I’ve wallpapered.  I’ve installed new windowsills and bannister rails.  I’ve varnished.  I’ve laid laminate flooring.  I’ve grouted.  I’ve installed washing machines, tumble dryer vents and dishwashers.  I’ve created an entire garden from scratch.   I spent 3 months painting kitchen units, one excruciating, exhausting hour at a time (which made my wrists so painful I spent the following 8 months in splints).  It took 6 years but I finally got my house finished.

Kitchen before:
Kitchen after (all my own work):

On top of all this I’ve pursued, and won, 2 court cases: one against my health insurers who tried to stop paying me, and one against a building firm who fitted a gas fire which leaked carbon monoxide into my lounge.  Both cases took 2 years to resolve during which time I had virtually no money and, during our worst winter for 30 years, no fire.

In amongst all that I’ve had relapses so severe I’ve ended up in hospital, then in bed for months on end.  I’ve taken on an abandoned dog.  I’ve looked after my terminally ill Mum for 2 years now.  And during my entire 20 years of illness I’ve volunteered for various ME and other charities.

At the same time I’ve researched and pursued 2 further diagnoses, on top of already dealing with chronic illness which, as you all know, is a full time job in itself.  I’ve set up 2 blogs and a small support group.  I’ve written articles, taken part in research, and tried to educate arsy, arrogant doctors.

I can’t be as ill as I claim I am, then, if I can do all this!  Of course I am.  I spent years crawling on my hands and knees to the toilet.  I organized all the remodelling work in my first house in my pjs, unwashed and barely able to string a sentence together.  It took 6 years to finish my current house, despite the fact it only has 5 tiny rooms, because I’d paint one radiator then spend 3 days in bed, in pain, recovering.  But I never once thought I couldn’t do it. It needed to be done, so it got done.  For me, it’s all about attitude.  I live on my own.  I don’t have the luxury of sitting in my sick bed saying woe is me.  If I don’t get up I don’t eat or pee.  End of story.

I come from a long line of Copers.  My nan left school at the age of 11 and was sent to the middle of nowhere to work on a farm with only one ½ day off per month when she had to cycle 11 miles to see her family, then after only 4 hours she had to cycle 11 miles back to the farm again in the dark.  My mum left my Dad in the midst of a nervous breakdown, with 2 kids, 3 suitcases, no home and not a penny to her name.  I am who I am because of the women in my family, who had struggles beyond my comprehension.

I am only human.  I have times where I wallow in self pity and despair.  I just don’t spend too long there, because it can lead to places in my head that are truly frightening.  Whatever comes my way I will not only cope, I will thrive.  There is no other choice.

New Recipe

It’s Autumn here in England and I’m in need of warming comfort food.  Trouble is I feel like crap, so I’m barely up to cooking anything which takes longer than 15 minutes.  Fortuitous, then, that my treacle flapjack takes just that :-)  It’s lovely with a warm mug of milk and has become my afternoon treat, alongside reading a few pages of a good book (thumping headache and brain fog permitting).  Recipe in the Dessert section and scroll down.

I finally got around to doing a photo of my basil pesto, so at least you know what it’s supposed to look like.  I’m having this tossed with pasta and roasted veg for dinner tonight, mmmm :-)

And while I’m on a food theme, for anyone who is both low histamine and dairy-free finding a cheese substitute is tough as most vegan cheese products are made of soya.  However, my friend told me about Violife which is a soya-free, dairy-free, gluten-free cheese made with ingredients suitable for a low histamine diet (if you ignore the citric acid, and let’s face it a small amount of citric acid isn’t going to kill you).  If anyone tries it I’d be interested to know how it tastes.

I’ve also updated the few recipes on my site which didn’t have American conversions.  It’s really difficult to work out precise gram to cup measurements for ingredients, therefore some are approximations, but at least my visitors from the States can get a feel for the amounts involved and use a bit of trial and error to get the recipes to (hopefully) work.  Happy cooking!

Weekly roundup

OK, what the fuck happened?!  Last weekend I felt great: painted the side of my shed and drove myself 30 miles to the city for a mooch round the shops, then woke up Monday morning with my period and feeling like I’d been hit by a 2 ton truck.  Didn’t think much of it, as my period always makes me as rough as a badger’s bum for a few days, but it’s now over and I feel worse than ever.

I am definitely ME-ish.  I feel like every cell in my body is operating on 30% power and I ache all over like I’m coming down with the raging flu.  My brain is cloudy with fog and there is a numb, pounding patch right between my eyes.  I’m exhausted, feel dopily drugged yet can’t sleep.  I’m nauseous and my throat is sore.

My mast cells are also playing up.  I’ve done nothing but sneeze and have a runny nose all week, and with feeling so fluey I thought initially I was coming down with a bad cold (they’re certainly starting to do the rounds now it’s Autumn).  But my nose is itchy and prickly, so it’s definitely a mast cell flare rather than a virus.

But the worst thing of all is that I’m having the worst EDS pain flare of my life so far.  Every muscle, every ligament, feels both burning, stiff and sore.  My ankles, my knees, my elbows, my wrists, my back, my neck………..and don’t get me started on my already painful hips.  I’m shuffling around like a 90 year old and spending half my life in the bath as it’s the only place I can get relief.

Trying to make food feeling like this is tortuous.  I’m struggling to stand for even short periods and my hands are so painful that trying to peel veg or lift pans makes me actually tearful.  I’m living on fresh juice, toast and Cornflakes.

Since getting ME back in 1994 I’ve always gone downhill in Autumn.  September is when my first symptoms appeared and for some reason is my worst time of year (well, along with January after I’ve overdone things over Christmas).  It can only be the change of weather.  Two weeks ago, when it was still 20C and sunny, I was feeling great.  Then the rain, wind and cold arrived literally overnight and all hell has broken loose.

I’m one of those people who usually just ignores being in pain.  I slather myself in Ibuleve gel, stick my TENS machine on, brace my joints and carry on regardless.    But you really can’t do that with ME – if you push yourself you simply collapse, even if you have the spare energy to push yourself in the first place, which I currently don’t.  I forget how soul destroyingly boring being stuck in bed all day long by yourself is – it sucks.

I’ve no idea how long this patch will last.  I have a really busy few weeks planned, including travelling 200 miles to Birmingham for the EDS UK conference on 25th, but whether I’ll make it is anyone’s guess at this point.  I’ll just take it a day at a time, try to relax and not worry – there’s nothing I can do about the situation so fighting it really won’t help.  To make matters even worse the latest season of Teen Mom finished this week……..now that’s really made me miserable, what am I gonna watch on the telly?! ;-)

Follow-up post

I just wanted to thank everyone who commented on my blog post about my fall out with my best friend.  I really do appreciate all the support and your very wise observations helped me get my head around this sad situation.

I found writing the post really cathartic…….and enlightening.  It wasn’t until I read the draft over that I realized N had been letting me and our friendship go for a very long time.  I’m sure if I said that to her she’d deny it, as I don’t think it’s been a conscious thing, but looking at the bare bones of what happened it’s very obvious I was way down her list of priorities and that her Aunt had taken my place.  Her anger and upset over my blog post was just the excuse she needed to break up with me (for wont of a better term) and if it hadn’t have been that it would eventually have been something else.  These things happen.

I’m not devastated or anything in case any of you are worried about me.  I’m sad, but in the past few years the friendship had taken up so little of my time it’s not like it will leave a huge gaping hole.

I still love my friend and want nothing but the best for her and her family.  I was very fortunate to have her in my life for the past 20 years and wouldn’t have gotten through the tough times if it weren’t for her support and laughter.  But it is time to move on.

I actually had a fabulous weekend.  Took myself off to the city on Sunday while it was quiet and had a mooch round the shops for an hour.  This is going to sound absolutely nuts but I felt totally joyful.  And very free.  Like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  Reading back my post about my friend made me realize just how resentful of the situation I’d become and how distant I felt from her, while at the same time pretending that everything was fine.  It really wasn’t fine, and it hadn’t been fine for………well, ages.

This is the 2nd long-standing friendship I’ve lost in the past 12 months, and I realize that for me the resentment in both relationships has been the same – that of not being heard and my needs not being met.  I have a challenging life and I think it’s almost impossible for a healthy person to have any understanding of that, try as they might.  And I also think it’s almost impossible for a married person to have any understanding of what it’s like to live alone as I do.

I’ve been both healthy, employed and married, therefore it’s fairly easy for me to see my friend’s lives from their perspective.  But they have no way of seeing life from my perspective as they’ve never lived it.   It’s no-one’s fault – it just is what it is.

Maybe solitude is my bag this time round.  It’s certainly been a theme since I was a wee girl, despite my best efforts to change it.  So instead of wishing it were different I’m just going to relax into it.  I’m going to cherish it and enjoy it and look at all the things it offers instead of all the things it lacks.

“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Max Ehrmann

Another friend bites the dust

In recent weeks my  best friend and I have fallen out.  It’s taken me some time to write about it because, to be honest, I simply can’t get my head around the situation.  This is a very long post and includes some whining and self-pity, so if that’s not your thing feel free to skip it.  And if you do read, please no judgemental comments telling me everything I did wrong – I’m so not in the head space for that right now.

N and I have been best mates for 22 years, despite the fact we live at opposite ends of the country.  I knew her before she was married or became a Mum, and she knew me before I got sick.  I’ve mentioned her in glowing terms many times throughout my blog and I’ve always told her what her friendship means to me.

When we were younger we spoke all the time and I visited her down in London as much as I could.  Things changed when she had her first child, as it was around the same time I became bedridden with ME.  Yet despite the changes in both our lives we worked at keeping our friendship alive.  Well, it wasn’t work…………I loved her and thought of her as my sister.

She became a Mum to 3 boys, and things changed again when they all started school and her husband took a job 100 miles away and was only home on weekends.  It was decided we would only speak between 9am-3pm Monday –Friday when the boys were at school as her evenings were so busy, and I wasn’t to ring on weekends as that was her time to spend with her husband.  Fair enough, although for me weekends were always my loneliest time.  I used to really hate Sundays, when everyone was with their families and I was alone in my bed.

Eventually my friend got a part-time job, which made the time we could contact each other even more limited and we got down to talking once a week for about an hour.

Further down the line they moved to a huge house which took a lot of looking after.  My friend couldn’t cope with the kids, her job and the house, so she gave up work and was a stay at home Mum.  I thought it meant we’d be able to chat more, but for some reason I can’t fathom trying to find time to speak to her got even worse.

By this time my health had improved and I was no longer bedridden.  I started to have my own commitments  and I remember my friend saying jokingly it was annoying to have to think of my schedule as well as her own, as when I was bedridden she could ring any time and always knew I’d be home!

For me, speaking to my friend even for an hour a week was a priority.  No matter what I was doing (commitments to my Mum and walking the dog aside) I’d just drop it and chat to her – let’s face it, it was more important than dusting or doing the bloody ironing.  Yet her time for me seemed to get less and less – there was always something she was busy with.  To try and quell my occasional resentment I’d rationalize the situation in my head, the gist of which was I should be thankful she was still my friend, as she was the only person who’d stuck by me during my entire illness.  And I am grateful.   She has been a really good friend to whom I told everything.

During the last couple of years, as my Mum became more ill, my Dad’s mental health declined and I adopted Bertie, my own life has become extremely hectic.  You have to remember that while healthy people are on the go from 7.30am to 10pm each day, I have to cram everything in before 3pm, because after that my energy is spent and I’m in bed.  It got so bad I was feeling overwhelmed, and made up a schedule for my week to make sure I got everything done which, btw, included time set aside to speak to my best mate.  N was really quite sarcastic about this, implying I didn’t know what busy was.  My resentment grew, because although she has three kids the eldest is 20 and a grown man, the middle one is 17 and the youngest is 13, so they’re not exactly babies.  I’m not entirely sure what she thought she was doing in her day that was vastly different to mine and I was doing it all as sick as a dog.

Last year they moved area, her husband changed jobs and they bought a much smaller home.  Her children are all but grown up and her husband was now home at 6pm every night.  I thought finally we would have more time for each other.  But it got even worse and I still can’t work out why, bearing in mind she still wasn’t working.

She did, however, move 6 feet away from her aunt to whom she’s very close.  She seems to speak to her several times a day and they rarely go a day without seeing each other.  I tried not to be hurt by the fact she had plenty of time for her aunt and her cousin, neither of whom were subjected to the 9am-3pm or weekend rules, yet less and less time for me – but I’m only human and I didn’t always succeed.

When I had my first Mast Cell appointment last November in London I stayed down for 3 days, the first night in a hotel and the second two with my friend.  She invited her aunt round to meet me at 4pm, which was lovely.  Then the aunt was invited to stay for dinner, and we all sat round the dinner table with my friend and her aunt chatting about people I didn’t know and her aunt not even looking in my direction.  After dinner at 8pm I retired to lie on my bed as I was exhausted, but did my friend come and up lie quietly with me for a chat?  Nope.  She stayed downstairs with her aunt who finally went home at 10pm.  I hadn’t seen my friend for 18 months, and she could have seen her aunt the other 363 days of the year.  Got to admit, I was seriously hurt.

To make matters worse, the next day I was leaving at 2.30pm but my friend bogged off for an hour to take her aunt to the Dentist, despite the fact her aunt can drive, has a daughter of her own, and in any event I’m sure there are taxis and buses where they live. I know I spent a lot of time in bed while I was there, but in the previous 20 years I’d barely been further than my nearest town, yet here I was 300 miles, 2 trains and a tube ride away, and the effort and travel had really made me feel poorly.  I hated myself that I couldn’t be a perkier, more chatty, more fun friend.

In the following 2 months I had to make the 700 mile round trip to London twice more, once for my blood tests and the second time for my follow up Mast Cell appointment.  Neither time did my friend even offer to come and meet me at the station for a coffee, let alone go to the appointments to keep me company.  She does live some way out of London, but visits the city regularly as her parents live there.  Thinking about it, if the roles were reversed and she was single, sick and travelling alone from London to Carlisle for a really important medical appointment wild horses wouldn’t stop me from meeting her off the train, making sure she go to the appointment OK and going in with her for moral support.  It was the beginning of the end for me.

Last month we went 3 whole weeks without speaking as my friend was so busy.  The first week I got a text apologising.  The second week I got a text apologising. The third week I didn’t even get a text.  Around the same time I wrote this blog post about how lonely I’d be after my Mum passes away and how my current friendships won’t fill the gap.  My friend doesn’t subscribe to my blog so I knew she wouldn’t read it.  Which again is weird – nearly 300 total strangers follow my every word, yet my best mate can’t be arsed.  However, despite the fact she hadn’t even had time to text me all week,  and she only dips into my blog now and again, she did read it and her reaction kind’ve stunned me.

Did she ring me, upset, angry, hurt?  Nope, though she did send me a very lengthy text message saying she was “gutted”.  About what?  Well, the fact I’d expressed my feelings about our friendship on a public blog for one (though I’d mentioned her a dozen times previously and she’d never had a problem with it before).  She was also hurt that “our entire friendship is based on me feeling grateful she had stuck by me”.  I bloody hate when people catastrophize events to suit their own ends.  I didn’t say this at ALL.  I did say I couldn’t base my continuing friendship on gratitude, but I did not say that my entire 22 year friendship was based on this.  If she’d bothered to ring me and ask me about it I would have explained it more fully to her.  The thing that upset me the most, though, was that not ONCE did she say she was upset I felt so alone, or that she was worried our friendship was slipping away.  Not once did she apologise for not having any time for me.  Not once did she acknowledge my feelings at all.

I have to own my part in this.  Naturally if I’d known she would be reading this particular blog post I would have worded it differently.  I hold my hands up to being completely tactless, but I’m not sure anything I said was so vile it was enough to end a 22 year friendship over.  Or maybe I’m wrong and am just totally deluded?

The very next day her husband unfriended me on Facebook.  After 20 years.  I hated him for that.  I have never in 22 years deliberately hurt my friend.  We have never before had a single cross word.  Yet he has hurt her in ways I find inexcusable, including having an affair when the children were all really tiny which absolutely shattered her.  I could cheerfully have stopped speaking to him after that, but I didn’t.  I respect the fact he’s my friend’s husband and if she could forgive him it meant I had to.  I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s always been extremely jealous of my relationship with his wife, as he has never had a single friend let alone a best friend, and I’m sure he’s delighted I’m out of the picture.  And I’m not being churlish in saying that, I actually mean it.

I didn’t reply to my friend’s text, as I was too hurt and angry and needed a chance to calm down.  After about a week I emailed her explaining from my point of view what had happened, including the incident when I went to say with her last November.  The email included an apology that my blog post had hurt her, but I did explain that I didn’t think she’d be reading it.  I didn’t get a reply, and a few days later her son (to whom I’ve always been close) also unfriended me on Facebook.  I have no clue what they’ve said to him, and if I’m honest I’m more upset about that even than losing my friend.

The following week it was my birthday and I didn’t receive so much as a card.  It was then I realized that, for her, the friendship was obviously over.

I still don’t really know what I did that was so unforgivable that a 22 year friendship has been lost.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve done anything at all.  I had no clue my friend would read my blog post, and in any event it didn’t say anything that was so horrendous it should cause them all to stop speaking to me.  All I did was say I felt lonely, was worried sick about the effect losing my mum was going to have on my emotional and mental health, and I felt like my friend didn’t care enough to find time for me.  If the shoe had been on the other foot, and I’d inadvertently heard my friend say that, I’d have been devastated that she felt I didn’t care about her and I would have asked her what I could do to make the friendship better!

The entire friendship I’ve put my needs second to those of my friend.  I understood when she had small children and was busy.   I understood when she had a job and was busy.  I understood when she had a big house to take care of and was busy.  But I’m not sure the understanding went both ways.  Did my friend understand that for 10 years I wasn’t busy?  That I lay in bed day in and day out  totally alone?  Did she understand that for 6 years I renovated my house, single handedly, while being extremely ill yet still found time to talk to her?  Is there any comprehension of the time and effort involved in cooking every single thing from scratch, looking after my parents, taking care of the dog, the house, shopping, ironing, cleaning, washing…….all totally alone in only 7 hours a day and with not one, not two, but three exhausting and painful diseases yet STILL making speaking to her a priority?  Did she, just occasionally, chat to me in the evenings and at weekends because it was the best time for me?  No.

In her text, my friend accused me of “just cutting people off” if I had a problem with them.  I was really upset about that too.  Number 1, my best mate isn’t “people” – she’s been like a sister to me for over 20 years.  And Number 2, I spend years and years making excuses for people (like my Dad) and trying to see the world from their point of view before getting to the stage where I feel so hurt and upset I have to say something.  And every time I’ve ever said anything the other person has stopped speaking to me.  I’m not sure how that’s my fault?

She’s right in one respect though, and that’s after someone has deeply hurt me I have the ability to simply cut off my feelings and ties without a second’s thought.  It hadn’t gotten anywhere near that stage with my friend, but after a month of her not even bothering to contact me or make any attempt to patch things up, I’m there now.  I’m not about to beg someone to make time for me or to be my friend – it’s something they should want for themselves and if they don’t then I can’t force them.  I have enough self esteem to know that, sick or not, I make a good friend.  And I also know she’s going to regret chucking that away.