Bias

Jen Brea’s wonderful docu-film on M.E. ‘Unrest’ is still being shown around the world and if you haven’t seen it yet and suffer from chronic illness or care for someone who does you absolutely should, whether you have M.E. or not.  It was recently screened at UC Berkley and there followed a panel discussion with some of the leading M.E. researchers in the world which is available to view for free here.  I learned nothing from the discussion that I didn’t already know but it made a refreshing change to hear Ron Davis’ honest point that we have no idea as yet what causes the disease and I was heartened to learn that he shares my hypothesis that it is a single entity and will turn out to be something very simple.  M.E. causes widespread symptoms, the severity of which differs between patients (as happens in other neuro-immune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis) but the causal trigger will be the same mechanism for everyone and IMHO will be an issue with our immune system.  I will not be swayed from this view so don’t bother trying 😉

One of the points that I took away from the discussion, which involved questions from patients, is how we all have our own bias when talking about M.E., myself included.  Erik Johnson, a long term advocate of CFS, believes his and many other people’s illness was triggered by Sick Building Syndrome/mould.  Another patient asked about EMF (electromagnetic fields) and their role in the disease.  I read lots of comments online from patients who are convinced they know the cause of M.E. and it’s x, y or z depending on how their own illness developed, none of whose views I share.

My own illness was triggered by a viral infection but later made significantly worse by travel vaccinations, however I don’t blame the vaccine or any component of it such as preservatives or heavy metals for making me ill – I blame my immune system for not responding appropriately to the injection.  Just like I blame Erik’s immune system for not responding appropriately to mould, not the mould itself.  As I said earlier I’m convinced that a breakdown in the functioning of part of our immune system will turn out to be the cause of M.E. and the triggers will vary – for some it will be vaccinations, for others mould exposure, for others viral infections and so on.  It’s the only model which fits everyone.

M.E. can, and does, run in families so of course the subject of genes came up.  I’m not convinced by the genetic argument or that genes are particularly implicated, at least not at the level we currently understand.  What I do think is that our immune system is genetically influenced, for example parents with allergies often have children prone to allergies, so it stands to reason that the potential for the immune system to be dysfunctional can be genetically inherited but again the environmental trigger for that dysfunction will differ from person to person.  I’m unconvinced, however, that the conclusion is going to be that ‘gene x mutation predisposes towards M.E.’.  The answer is going to be simple but not that simple.

The one thing I am utterly convinced about is that M.E. is treatable, no matter how seriously ill a person is, and that full recovery is absolutely possible.  It may be that we need to take medication for the rest of our lives to keep our immune system functioning healthily but I know I have glimpsed almost full remission following changes in my immune system (when starting with a cold for example) and if we can replicate these changes using drugs returning to full health is not beyond the realms of possibility.  In fact, it’s a certainty.  Having said all that, decades of illness will have affected our bodies and things like heart disease and osteoporosis from years of inactivity will be a lingering legacy.

‘Unres’t is available to view on DVD, Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, Vimeo and other platforms.

 

 

 

 

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Milestones

I became severely affected with M.E. back in 1996 at the age of 28.  For my 30th birthday I treated myself to a computer as the internet was just taking off (yes, I’m that old 😉 ) in the hopes I could connect to other people with my illness. It was the very early days of online support groups and I joined one called MEChat which was based in the UK  – there were international, mainly American, groups but we Brits seem to have a fairly unique sense of humour which many other countries just don’t get and wildly different health and welfare systems to the States.  Many of the people I met through MEChat I’m still in touch with and they are all, without exception, still sick.  Some of them have improved somewhat over the years, as I have, while others have received alternative or additional diagnosis as I have with my hEDS and MCAD, but none of us are well.  I also joined the 25% Group, the only Charity which exists solely to support severe sufferers and for whom I would go on to volunteer for 14 years, and again many of the people I ‘met’ through the charity I’m still in contact with.  No matter how supportive your healthy friends and family are no-one can ever get M.E. like other M.E. sufferers.

Many of us were in either our late teens or early twenties when we got sick, so we have grown up together.  We are mostly childless (too ill to even think about having kids), single (how do you meet people when you never leave the house or cope with the demands of another person when you can barely cope with your own needs?) and many still live with their parents even though they are now the same age their parents were when they got sick.

Even though I first developed M.E. at the age of 24 at least I’d experienced some life beforehand.  I’d been married (and divorced), owned my own home, finished my college education, been on a wild and boozy girls holiday to Greece, started on a career and travelled to 47 countries either as holidays or during my stint working on a luxury cruise liner.  Many of my friends weren’t so lucky.  They became ill as children and are still housebound, often bedridden, in middle age.  They have the courage of Lions, the strength of Hercules and are some of the nicest people I have ever had the privilege to know.  They don’t whine, focus on others and not themselves and have managed to carve out lives of purpose and meaning from situations which to the majority of us are simply unthinkable.  I see you friends, even though you may think you are invisible.

As regular readers of my blog will know I don’t really do milestones.  My way of coping with the havoc chronic illness has wrecked on my life is to simply ignore anything negative because I have enough trouble getting through the days without purposefully dwelling on stuff that brings me pain.  In truth I’m a bit of a coward and know that if I focus, even for a minute, on all that I have lost I might slit my wrists in the bath.  I ignore the anniversary of when I first got sick, endure rather than enjoy Christmas, and secretly dread birthdays and other special days where I feel pressure to be well enough to “enjoy” the day for the sake of other people who don’t have to suffer the payback from “having fun”.

Having said all that, there are some life events which simply can’t be ignored, like turning 50, and of course many of my sick friends are sharing milestone birthdays.  There is something mind blowing about reaching middle age when you became ill as a young person.  Sheer disbelief that your body has kept you alive, but so incredibly sick, for so long.  Grief for a life not lived as you’d hoped or expected.  Worry about aging parents/care givers and what this means for your future.  Affirmation of your isolation.  Anger at your decades of lack of medical and/or social care.  Sadness at relationships which couldn’t bare the pain of your situation.  Joy at finding new friends.   Pride that you have coped with a life so devoid of normal human interaction without completely losing your shit.  And 101 other emotions that I, scaredy cat that I am, don’t want to even think let alone write about.

So I will leave the writing to Naomi, a friend of a friend whose blog post on turning 40 turned up in my Facebook news feed this week.  It is a wonderfully eloquent, deeply moving but more importantly honest piece from a woman who can still find meaning, joy and purpose in her limited existence whilst acknowledging that there is nothing positive about her situation.  She is a warrior in the truest sense of the word.

 

 

 

Weekly roundup

I’ve had a very mixed week, with some really nice, and some absolutely God awful, days.  Following my Mum’s Guillain Barre Syndrome her legs started to swell, they’ve gone all lumpy and she has weeping blisters on her knees which I think is lymphatic fluid.  Her GP wasn’t the slightest bit bothered but they’re driving my poor Mum nuts as well as looking unsightly so I asked for a referral to the Lipedema Clinic to have them checked out because they looked exactly like the photos of Lipedema I’d seen online.  The appointment was on Monday, but the nurse didn’t think it was Lipedema.  She didn’t know what it was though, so she’s ordered some compression stockings for Mum anyway to see if they help.

Eighteen months ago I was on a very rare outing taking Autumn photographs up the lakes when another photographer set up her tripod beside me.  We starting chatting and got on like a house on fire, so despite living a good distance apart we occasionally meet up for a photo day or simply for a coffee ‘n a gossip.  Tuesday was one such day.  It’s rare I ever go through to the city unless I have a hospital appointment because it’s a 60 mile round trip and absolutely floors me, but being as though I’m down to my last pair of jeans (the rest having given up the ghost and gone to ripped jean heaven) I thought a mooch round the shops was in order, so arranged to meet my mate for lunch first.  3½ hours later I hadn’t visited a single store but had had a brilliant catch up and stuffed my face with Pannini while the snow fell down outside!

Wednesday I didn’t have my usual Camera Club, but instead attended an annual competition between our Club and two other local Clubs.  We came last, as usual, but it was still a good night and a chance to have a natter with some fresh faces.

Thursday my busy week caught up with me and I felt like I’d been trampled by a herd of wild elephants.  To add insult to injury my period was due and I just felt bleugh.  I wasn’t alone either – my lovely Bertie has suffered with a herniated spinal disc for several years now and his back has really been playing him up the past few weeks.  My usual treatment plan of giving him strawberry flavoured infant Calpol (which I think he hates more than the pain) and sleeping on a 4″ orthopaedic grade mattress with a heated pet mat so that he doesn’t get cold and stiff during the night doesn’t seem to be helping – not that he’s spoiled in any way you understand, or receiving 100% better care than I am 😉

Friday I woke with a migraine which, by tea time, felt like someone was stabbing my brain with a pick axe.  I couldn’t eat a thing, felt so nauseous I didn’t know what to do with myself and was hugely light and noise sensitive so I spent the day lying in bed, bored out of my mind and wishing I were dead.  It’s all the fault of my sodding hormones.  I was on day 32 of my cycle and my period had still not put in an appearance – hurry the fuck up and let’s get it over with.

I woke the next day with residual pain but at least the stabbing had stopped.  I was completely loopy loo, however, and got all togged up to take Bertie out and was halfway down the drive with him when my dog walker rocked up.  In my fuddled brain it was Sunday, which is my day to take him, but of course I was 24 hours ahead of myself and it was only Saturday.  Doh and double Doh!

Needing a treat for surviving the previous 48 hours I mugged off the washing up and laundry and spent the morning taking photos in my spare bedroom.  I had a plan to do just my eyes behind a bedouin type veil, but ended up with this photo which I was quite happy with.  Before anyone gets excited I look nowhere near this good in real life – I might have 30 years ago, but the taut flawless complexion in this picture is all down to airbrushing and other computer trickery, like removing my 50 year old wrinkles and all the horrible red capillaries in my eyes.  The eye makeup was added in post processing (because who the hell has the energy to put eyeshadow on), the lips are due to cherry flavoured chapstick and I don’t ever need blusher with my permanently rosy histamine cheeks – every cloud ‘n all that  😉Saturday afternoon Bertie and I had a potter down by the river (or rather, Bert pottered and I sat and watched) and it was wonderful.  It reached the dizzy heights of 8C, the second warmest day of the last 4 months, and a strange yellow globe appeared in the sky which I think is called the Sun 😉  The Oystercatchers have arrived back from their wintering grounds, the song of a solitary Lapwing was on the breeze and I even spotted a young Heron who flew away the second it spotted me back.  Spring is around the corner my friends and it can’t come soon enough!

 

 

 

Mild Cognitive Impairment

This post is off topic to my own health issues, but is something I’m currently dealing with with my step-Dad and being as though we all have parents it might be something some of you are also facing or will face in the future.

I’m going to start by saying I am utterly convinced my step-Dad has a learning disability of some kind, though as a child in the 1950s of course this was never investigated.  He was just labelled as “stupid” and shouted at a lot 😦  The reason I say this is:

  • He ties his shoe laces in a very bizarre fashion.
  • His handwriting and spelling are appalling.
  • His logical thinking is even worse.  For example the light bulb blew on the landing one day and off he toddled up the stairs with a new bulb and an axe in his hand.  When asked what he needed the axe for he said “if the bulb is hard to get out I’m going to give it a bit of tap” not understanding that hitting a glass bulb with an axe is going to break it into smithereens.  Another example is that we were having a new dishwasher fitted and needed a 3″ hole putting in the external wall of the house for the waste pipe, which my Dad thought he could achieve using a hammer and a dinner fork :-/
  • He is hopeless at sequencing and couldn’t put together a piece of flatpack furniture, or follow a recipe, if his life depended on it.
  • He’s never been able to repeat back a tale correctly, so much so that we’ve never been able to rely on him to accurately tell us anything which has at times made life hugely difficult and is the reason I insist in going to all his medical appointments with him even though he hates me being there.
  • He is very emotional and can cry at the drop of a hat, and lose his temper at the drop of a hat.

Having said all that, he is by no means thick and for some things has above average intelligence.  His memory has always been superb, I think because he’s always had difficulties with reading so has developed his memory skills to compensate.  He is also excellent at maths and can do mental arithmetic better than anyone I know.  I feel immensely sad that he has never been assessed for his learning difficulty because I think it would have done heaps for his self esteem to know that the issues he’s faced all his life haven’t been down to lack of intellect, but rather a brain disorder he could do nothing about.

The reason I tell you all this is to set the scene for the difficulties we faced in realizing he was starting with cognitive problems in his mid seventies.  Because some his behaviour has always been a bit strange, his ability to rely information dodgy and his reasoning ability off, when he first started with cognitive issues we didn’t even notice.  It was only when his once superb memory began to be affected that a huge red flag was waved.

One Mothering Sunday I was taking my parents out for lunch to a Hotel in the town where they live and my Dad, who was driving, couldn’t remember how to get there in the car.  He used to drive for a living and has always been excellent at directions, so to say this came as a shock to us all is an understatement.  He then started forgetting acquaintances names when he was telling us who he’d bumped into while out for a walk and struggled to recall the names of actors in tv shows, which used to be his speciality.

My Mum then started to express concerns about his driving, saying that he’d driven through red traffic lights without evening noticing them.  He was very easily distracted and didn’t seem able to carry on a conversation and drive safely at the same time.

He’s always been someone who likes routine, but now when his routine is disrupted he becomes tetchy and agitated and he simply can’t cope with two things happening at once.  He has developed rituals which take ages to perform, for example at 7pm on Friday nights he goes out to play darts but has to start getting reading at 5pm.  Quite what he does for 2 hours is anyone’s guess, because all he needs to do is change his clothes, collect his darts and money and put his coat and shoes on, but he faffs on for ages and if something happens to break his ritual he gets really stressed.

After about 18 months of memory decline he also became very tired all the time.  He could sleep for ten hours a night then get up, have breakfast and nod back off on the couch at 9am.  This was so unlike my usually active and full of life Dad that Mum and I decided he needed to see the GP.  However, we didn’t want to worry him so being as though he was also having trouble with his water works I made an appointment with this as the excuse, but beforehand I wrote to his doctor outlining why we were really there but telling her not to mention the “dementia” word as we were hugely worried that my Dad might become anxious and depressed if he thought that was on the cards.  She was excellent, initially talking about his tiredness and urine issues then going on to subtly ask him about his memory and any other problems he might be having.  My Dad, though, is a person who will never admit to being ill and told the GP that he had no other problems other than weeing in the night – thank God I’d filled her in on his memory problems otherwise she would have been totally in the dark and his symptoms not investigated.

The Doctor referred him to the local Memory Clinic and within three months he’d had an extensive assessment carried out in his home by a lovely specialist nurse.  This involved lots of written and verbal tests and, to our absolute astonishment, he passed with flying colours.  Seriously, he did superbly – my Mum and I mentally took the test alongside him and he outperformed the pair of us!  How could he be having such issues in day to day life yet perform so brilliantly when tested for cognitive deficiencies?!  He was also told he would have to re-take his driving test, which again his passed no problem, and his brain MRI scan came up totally normal.  In one way this was fab but in another it was hugely frustrating – his family knew he was having difficulties but for the most part they simply weren’t being born out on the tests.  Having said all that they did pick up on the fact that he used inappropriate language in converstion, had some issues with spatial tasks and his memory problems were apprent in taks involving verbal recall.

He was diagnosed as having something called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) which means he has more cognitive problems than a healthy person of his age but they aren’t serious enough to be classed as dementia.  He has to be re-assessed every 6 months though because a percentage of people with MCI will go on to develop some form of dementia over time.

My step-Dad is now 78 and over the last year his memory has worsened, though not worryingly so.  He has started a new behaviour, though, which I could find nothing about online.  He whispers to himself constantly, but he knows he’s doing it and only does it when he’s alone.  It’s common in Alzheimer’s for people to talk to themselves in mirrors or to hallucinate and talk to imaginary people, but they don’t know they’re doing it which isn’t the case for my Dad.  I also know healthy people talk to themselves, living alone I certainly do, but it’s in a normal voice or I talk to the dog like he’s human.  My Dad’s behaviour is completely different – a whispered mumbling steady stream of chatter the second he leaves the room.  I caught him yesterday putting his shoes on, whispering away to himself at a hundred miles an hour yet when he realized I was there he stopped immediately.  I have no clue what this is all about though have mentioned it to the Memory Team.

He’s also now making information up.  For example, he’ll talk to his sister on the phone, often on the loud speaker so my Mum hears the conversation which is how we know he fabricates.  When I arrive he’ll tell me his sister has phoned then go on to tell me some of the facts of the conversation and some stuff he randomly just makes up.  We have no idea why he does this.  When you’re having a conversation with him he seems totally engaged and appears to have followed the topic fine but my Mum and I know he hasn’t, because if you stop the conversation mid way through and ask him to repeat what has just been said he can’t.  He makes an excuse that he didn’t hear or catch what was said but that’s not the issue – I’m not really sure what the issue is, but it’s not his hearing which is regularly checked and is OK.

My Mum has zero patience with him and gets really irate when he can’t do things or tells her information which is wrong, but my poor Dad can’t help his brain being ill any more than she can help her heart and lungs being ill.  It must be so frightening to feel isolated from conversation and to live in a world which often doesn’t make sense and he needs a structured, calm, supportive environment not her winding him up and making him even more stressed.  She should be encouraging him to develop routines if that’s what helps him cope and not demanding things of him which he clearly can’t do, such as cooking or keeping track of finances.

Some people with MCI don’t deteriorate over time but I’m fairly sure my Dad will go on to be diagnosed with full blown dementia.  In fact, when I talk about him I always say he has dementia because I know he does – the fact this isn’t currently born out by official testing is irrelevant.  It’s obvious to those close to him that his behaviour isn’t normal and he struggles hugely with some aspects of daily living, though he’s learned over time to cover this up and often does a good job, you’d only know there’s a problem if you know him well.

 

Weekly roundup

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve felt pretty miserable this week.  I don’t know if it’s my hormones (The Curse is imminent) or I’m having a bit of a mast cell or histamine flare but I’ve simply felt low.  Sick and tired of being sick and tired and having to put up with the daily crap-o-la inflicted on me by my many and varied diseases.  Now I’m unable to tolerate the H2 antihistamines I was taking for my GERD I’m inhaling stomach acid into my lungs and have a permanent cough, which is exhausting and gets me down.  I’ve also not slept particularly well this week, had a migraine on the day of my Camera Club and my back has been painfully spasmy.

Needing to take my mind off my situation I, once again, turned to my photography for distraction and have been trying out a new technique called Light Painting.  It involves being in a totally blacked out room, setting a long exposure of 20 seconds on the camera and ‘painting’ objects with a small LED torch to creat the light.  You do little bits of the subject at a time then stitch the resulting photos together in Photoshop to create one image. I’ve never attempted still life photography before, light painting is fiddly and time consuming and my first attempts were terrible, but I think I’m getting the hang a bit more now and have even entered one of the resulting shots in our latest Camera Club competition.  I have had a surprising amount of fun alone for hours in a dark room, though I’m not sure what that says about me as a person or how I like to spend my time 😉

The thing that made my week, though, was receiving an email off an old friend who also has M.E.  In it she explained that she’d been inspired by my situation to do something really challenging in her life and to know that sharing my story on my blog had helped her made the effort of writing, discussing what is often very personal information and the negative response I sometimes get online which is upsetting and stressful worth it.

My parents are having new windows in their apartment on Monday, so on Saturday I took down all their curtains and fly screens which is one of the reasons my back is sodding well killing me this morning.   After a very quiet couple of weeks the next few days are busy and of course are going to coincide with my period when I always feel like death warmed up – I blame that Mr Sod and his Law!

 

 

 

Talking crap!

I’m sat on the loo this morning with a piece of poo stuck, straining so hard to pass it I thought the veins in my head would pop, muttering to myself that it’s 6am, I’m exhausted and really don’t need this shit today when I burst out laughing.  I was literally talking crap 😀 And I’m going to discuss crap in this post, so if you’re of a nervous or delicate disposition look away now.

My earliest childhood memory involved my toilet habits.  The second I started eating solid foods I struggled to poop and as there were no laxatives for children in the early 1970s the Doctor told my Mum to shove Vaseline up my back passage, which let me tell you is not fun and involved pinning me down on the bed screaming blue murder at the age of 4 while my Mum shoved her finger up my jacksee.  I, unsurprisingly, have never forgotten the experience.

I struggled with bowel movements my entire childhood, not helped by the fact I just wasn’t much into food particularly fruit and veg, and was diagnosed as having a “lazy bowel”.  In my teenage years I was allowed to take Senokot tablets which contain a vegetable laxative but pooping was still difficult.  Of course, we had no idea I had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome at the time and that the connective tissue which makes up my entire digestive tract was faulty.

I became vegetarian at the age of 22 which helped, but didn’t cure, the situation but then it all turned to crap again when I became bedridden with M.E. and could barely eat anything solid.  Exercise is also vital for keeping your bowel in good shape and without that I was lucky if I went to the loo once a week.  There is nothing more uncomfortable that not being able to poop and my stomach was sometimes so swollen I looked four months pregnant.

Unfortunately Senokot started to give me palpitations, so I switched to Ortisan fruit cubes which tasted like hell but which at least made my poop easier to pass – they contain figs, tamarind, rhubarb and dates and no nasty ingredients that I couldn’t tolerate.  I also started drinking prune juice every day which helped enormously and I started to go to the toilet most days for the first time in my life.

As I’d had problems with my bowels from almost the day I was born I had no idea that other people’s experience was vastly different to mine, particularly as we don’t discuss our toilet habits in polite conversation.  I was a faddy eater as a kid so the Doctor put my constipation down to that and didn’t look for an alternative explanation, then when I grew up I simply learned to manage the situation.  When I was diagnosed with hEDS, however, it all began to make sense and I realized faulty collagen was to blame for my years of toilet trauma.

For me, the issue seems to be two fold.  My collagen is stretchy and weak, and although the transit of my poop seems to be remarkably OK it appears to get stuck at my floppy ileocecal valve which separates the small and large intestine.  I get stinging lower right-sided pain and can actually feel the hard sausage shaped faeces if I run my hand over my tummy, yeugh!  So my poo backs up and gets bigger and bigger because of my overly stretchy collagen, then when it eventually works its way round to my bum to be expelled it’s so ginormous it’s like giving birth and I have, on occasion, had to do panting labour breaths to shove that baby out 😉  Over the years this, of course, has done my arse no favours and I now have piles which itch like a son of a bitch.

I’ve unknowingly had mast cell disease from the day I was born and when I started on a low histamine diet 4 years ago it made a huge difference to my bowel habits and I now poop most days after breakfast.  In fact, I can tell when my histamine bucket is high because my bowel gets “lazy” again and I have huge difficulty going to the loo.  I’ve no idea why reducing my histamine load should help me poop more, because according to Dr Seneviratne most people with MCAD have diarrhea and a low histamine diet helps them poop less not more, but trust me to be different 😉  My crap is still the size the elephant dung and I still tear my arse some days pushing it out, in addition to now having almost permanent lower right-sided abdominal pain which stings every second of every day, but it’s still a relief to be able to poop regularly and better for my digestion.

The irony is when haters come on my blog accusing me of being full of crap I can’t really argue can I, though I can truthfully say I don’t give a shit 😀

Weekly roundup

A week on and I’m still suffering from sorting out my kitchen cupboards.  My back, which hasn’t been bad for ages, was in spasm so much last night I hardly got a wink of sleep and I’ve had to use my TENS machine for the first time this year *sigh*.  My energy levels have also been rubbish so I really haven’t done a fat lot.

I’m still only visiting my parents on a Monday now and doing all the jobs they want done in one day, instead of the 3-4 times a week I used to see them.  My Mum is drinking again, though thankfully not as much as she was, and I simply can’t be around it.  As she is receiving no help or treatment my fear is obviously that she will start drinking more and more and we’ll be back to square one.  The 3 months she was sober last year were lovely and I’m so sad that she didn’t even try to keep on the wagon.  My family still don’t know about the situation, though I did confide in my Aunt who lives in Australia via email when I was at my lowest ebb.  Her reply was that she holds my Mum in high regard and I have to remember she has had a difficult life and never got over my brother choosing not to live with us.  Does my Aunt think that losing my older brother, my protector and guide, had no effect on me?  I’d been moved 170 miles from my Dad who I adored, my friends and everything I knew, was couch surfing without a home of my own or any possessions, was being bullied at my new school, my Mum was pissed every night and then the only person I relied on left.  I was eight years old.  I then had to live with her abusive relationship with my step-dad for years, was bullied my entire school life which my Mum did nothing to stop, have spent my adult life alone and sick as a dog and don’t have the luxury of getting pissed on the couch every day because I’m looking after my alcoholic Mother and Dad who has dementia but, hey, my Mum is sad so lets all focus on that.  Whatever.

Wednesday night was our second print competition of the season at Camera Club and I was chuffed to receive joint 2nd place with my ‘Beneath the waves’ image and joint first with my flamingos.  I know no-one believes me but I still have no confidence when it comes to my photography and am always amazed that the judges like my images!

I had a little spare cash this month because we don’t pay council tax in Feb or March, so I’ve treated myself to a new duvet cover and curtains for my bedroom.  They’ve really brightened the place up and look gorgeous in my little cottage, even though I now want new lampshades, laundry basket, mirror…… 😉

Right, I really must have some breakfast then get dressed and take Bertie out because I’m dropping him off at my parents for the day while I go through to the city to meet my friend for lunch.  I’m knackered, my back’s killing me and I’m a bit dizzy so technically shouldn’t be driving but it will be great to get out of the house and to join the human race for a bit.  I might leave my credit card at home though, just in case I’m tempted to nip in to Dunelm Mill!