Tag Archives: histamine intolerance

Won’t someone stop this train

I’m having one of those days weeks where I’m feeling overwhelmed.  I’m beyond exhausted, hormonal, feeling extra poorly and am, quite frankly, just plain fed up.  It’s been coming on for several weeks and, despite knowing I’m doing too much, am stressed, not sleeping and my health is suffering, I’ve felt powerless to stop the train.

My stay-cation, which started Saturday morning, has felt like anything but a holiday.  Last week I had meant to get on top of my laundry and stock up my freezer with food so that I wouldn’t have to do any chores, but was so busy with my parents that didn’t happen, so I spent most of the first day of my vacation cooking and washing.  I also found out that a friend in the village had dropped down dead from a brain hemorrhage the day before at the age of 43, which was devastating.

Sunday I spent the entire day putting together a five page objection to the plans to build 10 houses on a field next to my home.  Planning objections have to be based on law and material facts about which I know nothing, so it literally took 7 hours of Googling and writing and re-writing and checking my facts to do the submission which had to be handed in by Wednesday.

Monday the Yale engineer was coming to my parents’ house about the lock, so I had to be there to see to him as my parents simply can’t cope.  While I was waiting for him to arrive I made them some mushroom soup to go in the freezer and did some paperwork.  I then went into town to have new keys cut for the new lock, then walked the dog, went to see my neighbour with the cancer’s daughter to check how she was doing and finally got home, on my knees with exhaustion, at 4pm.

Tuesday my parents, 2 neighbours, myself and the dog had arranged to go up the Lakes for lunch which sounds lovely but was hard work.  I’d woken that morning with a stonking bad head which never let up all day but I still had to get Mum out of the house and into the car, do all the driving, get Mum out of the car and into her wheelchair (in the pissing rain and howling gale courtesy of Storm Ophelia) and seated at the hotel, take her to the loo mid-meal (which meant mine went cold), get her back in the car, back into the house, her shoes off and her slippers on, a brew made for them both and all the while keeping an eye on my Dad and looking after the dog who then had to be walked (in the storm) on the way home.  That night I had a small seizure/mast cell reaction and knew that if something doesn’t change, and soon, my health could get seriously scary.

Weds I woke at 6am feeling so MEish I felt like I’d been run over by a bus.  There was a mix-up with my dog walkers (one of whom is also my cleaner) and both turned up at 9am.  So the actual dog walker took Bertie while the cleaner sayed on to clean the house, which was due to be done that afternoon.  Usually I spend an hour tidying up before she gets here but of course I wasn’t expecting her and the place looked like I’d been burgled, so instead of crawling back into bed which is what I needed to do I started to sort the house out (she can’t clean if there are 20 dirty dishes on the kitchen worktops, photos spread out on the lounge room carpet and no fresh sheets to put on the bed).  That night was camera club and there was a hand-in for our first print competition, so I also had three A3 size photos to print off and mount.  Then I walked the dog, did the Tesco shopping for myself and my parents,  had something to eat, got changed and before I knew it it was 6pm and time to leave for town.  I seriously felt like road kill and have absolutely no recollection of the drive home.

It’s now 5 days in to my hols and today is the first day I have been able to spend the morning in my pjs in bed resting (well, inbetween putting my groceries away which were delivered at 9am, making my lunch, taking the dog out, making my dinner and tidying up afterwards).

I feel hard done by and want to shout to the world DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD MY FUCKING LIFE IS????? not that anyone would care.

Being sick is a thankless task and no-one realizes how difficult our days are, not just physically but mentally and emotionally.  Being a Carer is also a thankless task and no-one realizes just how much stress and work is involved in looking after a sick relative and their home.  The two together just feels like too much some days.

I feel like I should be apologising for being miserable lately, then get angry at myself for thinking like that.  I’m bloody well entitled to feel however I feel and shouldn’t feel pressured into pretending to be perky and upbeat every second of every day.  Yes my life could be harder (and has been).  I could still be totally bedridden, I could be begging on the streets in India or living in war torn Syria, but just because I’m not doesn’t make my situation any easier to cope with — not just at the moment anyhow.  I honestly think if just one more thing goes wrong or gets added to my plate it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and I’ll just collapse in a heap on the kitchen floor sobbing snotty tears onto the lino.

I need a break.  A proper break.  Away from the dog, my home and my parents.  Somewhere pretty and tranquil and restful (not a hotel full of 100 other boisterous guests).  But I can’t afford one and even if I could who would have Bertie?  Wherever I was I’d still have to drive to get there, cook (as eating out every day for a fortnight would cause me all sorts of histamine nightmares) and I’d still have to do laundry as I don’t possess 14 pairs of undies or socks.  So even going away somewhere seems like hard work and not really worth the effort.  I feel alarmingly trapped in a situation from which it seems there is no rest or reprieve.

I know that if I get the chance to properly rest and my hormones settle down from their current warp 10 status I’ll get my umpf back, but today I just feel like a rat on a treadmill and my little legs are tired.


Weekly roundup

I started a two week staycation yesterday, whoop whoop 🙂  I am so exhausted I have no idea how I’ve kept functioning and the thought of not thinking about anyone but myself for a while is heavenly.  This week, though, has been mental as I’ve tried to get on top of all the outstanding jobs so that I can take some time off with a clear conscience.

After 10 days of faffing about with Yale customer services over my parents’ front door lock and getting nowhere, I finally snapped and at 9pm Monday night I guessed the email address of the Managing Director of Yale UK and emailed him.  Imagine my shock when I received a reply less than an hour later, telling me he would personally see my issue was sorted the next day.  By 9.15am  Tuesday morning a Manager from Yale had rung me and offered to send an engineer to my parents home to fit a brand new lock with 5 key fobs free of charge (RRP £400).  Result 🙂

The 3rd intercom I bought for their front door also worked like a charm, so I’m hoping that’s their door entry issues finally resolved.

I also chased up the decorators who arrived on Wednesday and were finished by Friday.  The hall and stairs look great and, although they were expensive, they made a fantastic job.  I’m hoping that’s my parents sorted for a bit now (famous last words!).

I found out my 90 year old next door neighbour has lung cancer, so I’m guessing she will never return home from hospital 😦  At least the decision whether or not to contact social services over her care and living conditions is now out of my hands, which is a weight off my mind.  Her daughter, who lives 300 miles away, is currently staying in the house and has caught 4 mice in the kitchen, so at least she knows I wasn’t exaggerating when I said there was a rodent problem!

Our village discovered this week that plans have been put forward for a development of 10 detached 4 bedroom houses with double garages on a field only yards from my cottage which currently has a stunning view of the Pennine fells.  There is no identified housing need here, we have no facilities (shop, school, pub, post office, garage), the 2 local primary schools are full, ditto the dentists and doctors, and there is no public transport or employment beyond minimum wage.  There is only supposed to be housing built on green fields where there is an identified local housing need, so now we’re all busy putting together objections to the proposals.  There is a ridiculous scramble to build houses here in the UK and planning policy just seems to be ignored.  Rather than build inappropriate houses on land used for agriculture (what are we all going to eat when Brexit happens and food imports are restricted?!) I think the Government needs to look more at the sustainability of a tiddly little island with finite land mass and whose population is expanding at a ridiculous rate of knots (which was basically what Brexit was all about if you ask the average Joe in the street and nothing to do with racism or not wanting to trade with Europe).

At 10pm last night I settled down to go to sleep and when I turned off the light I saw pinpricks of flashing light in my vision which, within a few minutes, were a kaleidoscope of zigzag flashing coloured lines.  I was having an aura migraine, so despite being shattered I got up and had a snack as eating often helps to cut it short.  There was a period in my thirties when I had at least 2 aura migraines a month and they would frequently happen in the middle of the night waking me from sleep, then in my forties they almost totally disappeared to be replaced by common migraines, the kind with head pain so severe it feels like rats are gnawing on your brain.  My aura migraines only involve aura – no pain, nausea, nor anything else other than they leave me feeling spaced out and not quite with it.  I only get maybe two a year, there is no warning they are about to happen (unlike my common migraines which have a prodrome phase) and I have no idea what sets them off.  They’re not pleasant but I’d take them over the common migraines any day of the week, not least because they’re pain free and last under an hour unlike the common migraines which are excruciating and can last 4 days.

It was the first Camera club competition of the new season on Wednesday.  I am now in the advanced league with some seriously good photographers, so my hopes of winning anything this year were slim to none.  Imagine, then, my gobsmacked surprise when I came third with my ‘Sunday Worship’ picture and first with my ‘Mural’ 🙂  There are a couple of people in the club who are a bit jealous of my success and I know they were waiting for me to do badly so they could say “yes, it’s a different ball game when you’re with the big boys” and I admit I felt a bit smug that I’d robbed them of that opportunity 😉

If you don’t hear from me this week I’ll be lying in my bed reading a book and pretending I’m on a beach in the South of France.





I often get asked on my blog what the difference is between Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, whether there is any link between the two and how to tell if you have one or the other (or like me, both!).   The answer is we know very little about Histamine Intolerance, and not a whole lot more about MCAS, and virtually zero about the two conditions in tandem.

I have no medical qualifications and am not an expert in either disease, so I can only write about my own experience and what I was told by the Consultant who diagnosed me (arguably the UK’s leading expert on both conditions).  Knowledge is an ever changing thing and what I know now may obviously change in the future as more is discovered about my little understood diseases.

I’m as certain as I can be that I was born with Mast Cell Disease.  I have photos of myself as a very young child where I am flushed bright red and my Mum tells me I was dermographic from a tiny baby.  She didn’t think much of it, however, as she was dermographic and got wheals and hives from tight clothing so she thought it was normal, just as she thought my “double jointedness” was normal and my velvety elastic skin was normal because she too was hypermobile and had stretchy skin.  As far as I’m concerned my MCAD is hereditary and genetic.

Photo of mast cell induced flushing

Flushing as a 3 year old child.

As most of you know, people with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome are massively more at risk of MCAD than the healthy population but quite why is still a mystery.  There are several theories but they are just that – theories.  The truth is no-one knows.  We also don’t know if MCAD causes EDS, if EDS causes MCAD or if neither causes either and there is another mechanism at play altogether.

My mast cells are activated by all manner of things which the mast cells in a healthy person would rightfully ignore.  Heat, hot water ( very itchy!), cold, cold water (ouch and double ouch!), stress, hormones, some pollens, alcohol, some animals, emotions (particularly excitement), strong winds, exercise, just about all drugs and a host of other situations cause my mast cells to lose the plot, leading from mild problems like nausea or feeling fluey to full blown anaphylaxis and everything inbetween.  But until the age of 44 I could eat whatever I liked and I loved my food.  For the decade I was bedridden with severe M.E., and could do virtually nothing but stare at the ceiling all day, food was my biggest pleasure and I looked forward to mealtimes like an oasis in a burning desert.

Everything changed one day when I was 44 and suddenly started passing out every time I ate.  This was the start of what I discovered was Histamine Intolerance and for me it felt totally separate to my MCAD.  Very little is know about HIT but it’s thought to be caused by a lack of, or badly functioning, enzymes called Diamine Oxidase (DAO) and/or Histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT).  My HIT was brought under control in about 6 months purely from changing to a low histamine diet, but it’s not ‘cured’.  I still have to maintain a low histamine diet otherwise my symptoms start to creep back and very soon I’m reacting again to everything I put in my mouth (histamine is part of the digestive process for everyone but my poorly enzymes can’t effectively deal with it, so it’s vital I keep my ingested histamine to a minimum).

So, for me, there are some vital differences between my MCAD and my HIT:

  • HIT is only related to what I eat or drink.  MCAD is related to my wider environment, both external (eg pollen) and internal (eg emotions).
  • HIT developed in middle age.  MCAD has been there since birth.
  • HIT causes anaphylaxis-type symptoms only (eg drop in blood pressure, palpitations, nausea, vomiting, fainting, flushing).  MCAD too causes anaphylaxis but also other symptoms (eg itching, dermographia, hives, swelling, sneezing, migraine, pain).
  • The symptoms from my HIT subside within 2 hours of eating.  The symptoms from a mast cell flare can last days, weeks even months – mast cell activation perpetuating mast cell activation and causing a neverending vicious circle.

As far as I know no link has been established between HIT and MCAD.  None of the major papers written by world experts on mast cell disease mention HIT as part of the puzzle which, if HIT were a major cause or perpetuating factor of mast cell degranulation, you would think they would.  I’m not saying the two aren’t connected because I have no clue, but for me they feel like very separate entities and my Consultant diagnoses them as two distinct and separate diseases.  That they both involve histamine is intriguing (though the mechanisms are vastly different), but we have no idea if people with MCAD have a higher incidence of HIT than the general population because no data on this exists.  It may just be coincidence if you have both diseases or it may not.  It may be that mast cells degranulate as part of HIT or it may not (I suspect not but that’s just based on my own experience).

When I’m having a mast cell flare, my HIT does appear to worsen.  However, I personally don’t think this proves a causal link.  What I suspect is happening is that my mast cells are producing excess histamine which my body is already struggling to cope with, so when I eat and even more histamine is produced from the act of digestion it causes overload and I get symptoms after eating that I wouldn’t get if my mast cells were behaving themselves.  So food/digestion isn’t causing mast cell degranulation, which is already happening from other causes, it’s just adding to my body’s histamine excess.  I may, however, be totally wrong.  No-one knows what’s happening yet and it’s not an area anyone is researching as far as I’m aware.

There are sites online which appear to contain authoritative and convincing information linking HIT and MCAD but I can find no research, and therefore facts, on the two conditions and none of the articles I’ve read contain links to research papers.  So as far as I’m concerned information linking the two diseases is based on nothing but speculation and guesswork and you all know how I feel about that 😉

So, that’s my take on HIT and MCAD but of course my experience may be different to yours.  According to my Consultant, you can have MCAD without HIT, you can have HIT without MCAD but you can also, of course, have both.



Weekly roundup

The first half of the week was dominated by The Curse.  My endo pain was excruciating, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, had a 3 day migraine and felt bloody awful.  Despite all that, Tuesday night I’d committed to help out at the beginner’s photography class but as I sat there my entire body was tingling and I felt scarily light-headed.  My iron levels, I’m sure, are low again due to me not eating as well as I could with everything that’s gone on with my Mum in the past couple of months.  So on Weds I decided to take 2 sachets of Spatone iron water instead of the usual 1 and within 24 hours I did feel much better 🙂

While I was at the photography class my friend noticed one of the rear tail lights wasn’t working on my car, so on Friday I had to go to Halfords to get it replaced, which cost me £20!   For 2 tiddly little bulbs – daylight bloody robbery.

My parents live in a first floor apartment.   They have an intercom on their front door so that they can see and speak to anyone who arrives at the house, then can open the door remotely with a wireless fob.   Only the day my Mum arrived out of hospital the bloody intercom stopped working *sigh*.  What was needed was a new system, because the handset for the intercom was in the hall and my Mum can now barely get out of her chair so she really needs a handset next to her in the lounge.  No problem, you can get wireless systems these days that I could fit myself…………..which worked everywhere in the house except where my Mum sits in the lounge which was a black hole of interference.  FFS.  I had to send the first one I tried back, and the second one I tried back, so this aft I’m picking up a third one which guarantees to be interference free.  Please God can this one just bloody work?

My Dad takes the fob to open the door with him when he goes out, as he now sometimes struggles to remember the numbers for the doorpad.   This, of course, leaves my Mum with no way of opening the front door if she’s in the house on her own.  No problem,  I thought, I’ll just get a second fob from Yale.  I then spent an hour trying to pair it to the front door without success.  I spent 25 minutes on hold trying to get through to the Yale helpdesk, only to be told they couldn’t help me and I needed to speak to the technical team……who were busy.  A ticket was raised and after I explained it was for my disabled Mother they said they’d get back to me urgently.  A week passed and I heard nothing.  I then shamed them on Facebook and 3 people rang me in the space of an hour!  Apparently since we got our door several years ago the wireless receiver for the fob has changed, so they sent out a new receiver.  Which still didn’t work with the new fob.  I then spent another hour on the phone to Yale who told me to reset everything.  Only then the door wouldn’t work at all.  You couldn’t get in or out and it didn’t lock.  The customer service chap then gave up, said he hadn’t a clue how to fix it and left me to it, saying he’d ring me back on Monday with a solution, leaving my disabled, vulnerable and elderly parents all weekend with a front door which wouldn’t lock or open!!!  I worked out that the reason nothing worked is that we’d faffed on for so long the batteries had died and all was well after new ones were put in (how come I could figure this out and the technical chap from Yale couldn’t?!), but I’m still none the wiser on how to get a 2nd fob to work with the old lock.

Why does every goddamn thing end up being so stressful and exhausting?!  The reviews for the wireless intercom on Amazon were excellent – everyone else just plugged it in and it worked perfectly.  Not for me though, oh no, that would be far too easy :-/  Y’know, when the people around me helpfully suggest I “get more help” in dealing with my parents who the fuck do they think I’m going to employ to do stuff like this?  Or to trail into town because my Mum needs new slippers, only her feet are swollen so she doesn’t know if she needs a size 4 or a size 5, so I have to buy both, take them home, try them on her, then go back into town to return the pair that didn’t fit.  Or the fact that my Dad can’t even cope with deleting photos off his camera so that he can take the memory stick up to the Kodak shop to get printed off, so needed me to help.  Or the decorators who promised to paint my parents’ hall and stairs by the end of September but haven’t yet turned up and needed chasing.  They’re now coming on Weds this week, so muggings here has to go today and take all the pictures down, the shelf off the wall above the radiator and my Mum wants rid of the old Intercom and wires which involves me crawling about in the loft and just hoping I don’t get electrocuted.  I do wish the do-gooders, who have absolutely no clue what’s involved in looking after elderly parents, would shut the fuck up about me needing more help like it’s an achievable solution when it’s nothing of the kind.

Lovely people keep buying me stuff for birthdays and Christmas, only I’m not a ‘stuff’ kind’ve girl and have zero need for most of it.  So I now have several boxes of irrelevant, but brand new and beautiful, shite sitting in the corner of my bedroom.  I had planned on doing a couple of car boots in the summer to get rid,  only a combination of the weather, my own health and my Mum’s health put the kibosh on it.  However there was a table top sale in the next village on Saturday so I loaded up the car, unloaded it the other end, reloaded it 4 hours later and carried it all back into my bedroom, making a lousy £19 in the process.  This morning I’ve woken up with my back, elbows, wrists and knees on fire from all the lifting and I’m not entirely sure the pain is worth the piddling amount of cash I raised 😉

Apologies for such a grumpy roundup, but the truth is I feel grumpy (I think I’m still hormonal).  And tired.  And a bit fed up.  This week I’ve had zero time for myself or to do anything fun and I’m a girl who needs a bit of fun to keep my disposition happy.  I promise to try harder this week 🙂


Weekly roundup

Whoooooooo.  This is the sound of me exhaling, something I haven’t done for a good 2 months.  Finally I’ve been able to have a couple of days at home and actually slob about in my jim jams, well until it’s time to take the furry child out for his afternoon jollies when it’s advisable to put some clothes on – I’d be a Smorgasboard for mozzies, ticks and midges if I sauntered through the woods half naked.

Physically my Mum is coping OK, but it’s her behaviour which is astounding me.  She is no longer drunk and we are having actual conversations in which she is lucid, rational and just plain normal.  And she’s now ringing me too, which she hasn’t done for 4 years as she was too busy getting legless.  I don’t have to think about what time of day it is, because I can speak to her at 7pm at night and she’s just the same as she was at 10am.  When she was drinking she was so smashed she made no sense by evening.  On a purely selfish level it’s wonderful.

But more than that she’s really calm.  My Mum’s always been a feisty person and while she’s been drinking she’s been a mare.  She constantly got frustrated and irritated, particularly with my Dad, and was a real bully at times.  But since coming out of hospital she is weirdly chilled.  She is not snappy and constantly losing her cool, which means visiting isn’t the stressful experience it used to be.

I arranged for her GP to come and check her over and had a quiet word with her about the situation.  My fear is that now Mum is out of hospital, she is not being fussed over by the nurses, she doesn’t have the other patients to chat to, she’s not drinking and is discovering the full extend of her physical limitations and isolation that she will nose dive into severe depression.  She drank because she was unhappy and lonely and that hasn’t gone anywhere.  So the GP is coming back this week to monitor her mental health.  I’m not buying this new, zen persona for a second, though I’m enjoying it while it’s on offer.

My hormones have been rampant this week and I had a very painful ovulation.  My egg release is getting more and more excruciating, I’m assuming because of all the endo-related adhesions on my ovaries,  and for a couple of days I literally couldn’t stand up straight.  I also had a niggly migraine for 4 days which kind’ve spoiled my R&R and my emotions were up and down like a bride’s nightie – one minute tearful, the next wanting to tear someone’s head off.  S’not nice.

Wednesday night was my Camera Club and months ago I’d been roped into doing a demonstration on Photoshop.  I woke that morning with a migraine which got worse as the day progressed, but thankfully it wasn’t bad enough to stop me driving so I soldiered on.  All was fine until mid-way through the workshop when my brain suddenly felt like it had become loose and had gone crashing into the side of my skull.  I seriously thought I was having a stroke.  For a few minutes all thought processes ceased and I literally couldn’t speak, which was proper scary.  Although it settled down, for the next half an hour trying to get my thoughts and words together was tricky and my blood sugar plummeted until my hands were shaking.  These weird vertigo-like episodes are becoming more frequent and I’m not sure if it’s to do with the peri-menopause or is linked to my migraine (I’m thinking more hormones because they often happen without a headache).  I do wish they’d jog on cos they’re starting to freak me out.

Being as though I had a few hours to myself this week I was able to take some photos, which I haven’t had time for in ages.  We have a competition coming up with the theme of ‘Water’, so I decided to try and photograph ‘rain’ which involved being outside in the dark in a flimsy dress and standing under a freezing cold hosepipe when it was only 10C outside.   I won’t be doing that again in a hurry 😉

I also thought I’d try some hi-key photos with the last of the summer flowers from my garden.  These were much more pleasant to do, if a bit of a faff.

On balance it’s not been a bad week all things considered, though my mast cells are certainly on high alert from all the stress and over-exertion of the past few weeks.  I am seriously not sleeping, have nightly anxiety nightmares which leave me drenched in sweat and am getting up in the night for a pee, a sure sign my histamine is rampant.  My back and joints are also painful, which is probably a combination of my hormones, mast cells and the autumnal weather, and my appetite has gone through the roof (definitely menopause related!).  On the plus side I’m starting to feel more like a human being than road kill and at least have clean socks and undies now I’ve had chance to do some laundry 🙂





Weekly roundup

I’d hoped to do a proper blog post this week but I simply haven’t had time.  Inbetween visiting Mum every day in the hospital, clearing up after my birthday party, seeing to the dog, helping my Dad, shopping, cooking, washing and going to Camera Club the days have passed in a blurry, exhausted, painful, hectic haze.

However, the good news is that my Mum came home on Friday afternoon so I’m hoping that life with return to some semblance of normality.  Of course, once the adrenalin on which I’ve been running for the past several weeks has subsided I will inevitably crash, so I’m anticipating then spending a couple of weeks in bed feeling like the living dead and getting behind on my jobs all over again but that’s just the nature of the chronic illness beast.  I’m also expecting hives to appear any day and am amazed they haven’t put in an appearance before now, stress being my number one mast cell degranulating trigger.

The Hospital arranged for Mum to have a carer come in the morning to get her dressed, but they hadn’t arranged for a carer at night to get her undressed.  I did point out that if she can’t get dressed then she can’t get undressed (!) so before she was released I asked firmly that a night-time carer was put in place.  She can walk to the loo on her own with her Zimmer but then can’t pull her pants down because she’s holding on to the Zimmer so my Dad does that bit.  I asked what happens when she needs the loo on the night and my Dad is sound asleep in the next room and they apparently hadn’t thought of that!  So this morning a commode has been ordered to put next to her bed.  I honestly wonder what planet the social care team in hospital is on, because they clearly have no idea of the needs of their patients.  I think they just assume that because Mum is married my Dad will do everything, and I had to point out that he’s nearly 80, has arthritis and dementia and if they thought for two seconds that he is going to make himself ill looking after my Mum they can think again.

Before my Mum came home I made my Dad tip all the alcohol in the house down the sink.  He was reluctant and said he felt guilty doing it, which just shows the level of emotional blackmail an alcoholic has on those around them.  I, on the other hand, had no such qualms but then I’m not the one who has to live with my Mother, my poor Dad is.  I then had the unenviable task of telling my Mum that there was no vodka in the house so not to even bother asking.  I lied and said the doctors had told me that if she drinks she’ll kill herself as she’s so poorly, but then she had a go at me for discussing her drinking with the Doctors.  So I had to explain that you can’t go from drinking a lot every day to stopping suddenly because you could have a seizure, and the doctors needed to know that so that they could give her medication to help.  Due to the shame of alcoholism she wasn’t happy I’d talked about her drinking with the doctors so I just said “well if you didn’t drink I wouldn’t have to would I?”  I refuse to be made to feel guilty for her behaviour.  I’m not totally heartless, however, and realize she drinks for a reason so I’ve arranged for her own GP to come and see her on Monday and I’ll have a chat with her about the situation.  I’m hoping there may be some counselling available – my Mum definitely needs to talk to someone about her issues and should have done so years ago.

While my Mum’s been in hospital I’ve fully realized the extent of my Dad’s dementia.  He basically has to be told what to do every second of every day and you still have to check that he’s done what he was supposed to be doing.  He needs help to choose what to eat, help with phone calls and paperwork, and just general constant reassurance that he’s not alone.  He gets incredibly stressed when asked to do anything outside of his normal routine and gets himself really worked up about life in general.  And he’s only at the mild end of the dementia spectrum!  It’s a bloody awful disease and my heart goes out to him.

People around me are telling me to get more help with my parents and have no idea that the help simply isn’t available.  Yes my brothers should do more but the truth is they have no intention and would genuinely leave my parents to get on with it rather than step up to the plate.  Carers only do things like shove a meal in the microwave and help with washing and dressing.  They aren’t going to spend 2 hours re-arranging the furniture in the lounge to accommodate Mum’s zimmer frame as I did on Friday morning, or putting together the commode, perch stool and toilet frame which the hospital Occupational Therapist ordered and my Dad had to collect from a shop in town (the OT doesn’t even visit the house to do a proper assessment any more FFS).  There is no-one to do banking, open and deal with post, arrange follow-up hospital appointments, chiropody and hairdressers to come to the house, no-one to fix the intercom at the front door which has chosen this bloody week to stop working and no-one to unpack my Mum’s case from hospital and re-pack it with new stuff in case she needs to go back in.  All the things we take for granted that we do in a day until we can no longer do them.  I admit I’m so knackered I’m a bit grumpy and people’s suggestions of getting more help (like I haven’t fucking thought of that!) are getting on my frazzled nerves.

To be a bit selfish for a minute, I think everyone forgets that I am also ill and while I’m looking after my Mum and Dad there is no-one looking after me (mind you, the fact that no-one looks after me has been ignored for the last 23 years so no change there then).  I made sure yesterday that my folks had everything they needed, that their dinner was made, that Mum had a clean nightie to put on……..and came home, exhausted, at 6pm to find my bed wasn’t made, I had no dinner organized, my dishwasher was full and there were dirty dishes all over the kitchen counters from not only this morning but yesterday and the day before, my bin needed to be put out and I realized I hadn’t washed my hair since last Saturday (thank God for my wig!).  These are one of the few times that I miss having a partner.  Mind you, from the last few boyfriends I’ve had I would still have come home to an unmade bed, no dinner and a dirty kitchen because they were lazy bastards who did fuck all in the house, and the things they did do they expected a sodding medal for, so maybe I’m not missing much after all!

I’m sure things will settle down in the next week or so but just at the mo life feels a bit overwhelming.  I could do with an afternoon at the Spa or an evening out amongst normal people but don’t have the money, time or energy for either!  Maybe next month.





The best laid plans…

….. of mice and men oft go awry, and my plans have certainly gone belly up while I have been absent from my blog.  I don’t quite know where to start with all that’s been going on, so grab a brew and put your feet up – this make take a while 😉

As you all know, my Nan died at the start of August and there was a lot to organize.  My Dad needs help with any kind of paperwork and with making phone calls, so obviously I helped plan her funeral and we’re both still dealing with the solicitor regarding her will and finances.  My Dad’s dementia means he gets stressed and tetchy easily, so not only do you have to help him physically you have to constantly reassure him and calm him down, which can be difficult if you too are feeling stressed or, more importantly, exhausted and ill.

About 7 weeks ago both my parents got a virus.  It was a tickly cough which my Dad got over in a few days, but of course it went to my Mum’s chest and she developed a stubborn chest infection.  She ended up with 3 lots of antibiotics, and thrush, and it eventually settled but she never picked up.  In fact, on the day of my Nan’s funeral she was so unwell I had to take her home early from the tea.

That was on Monday 21st August and she continued to deteriorate all week.  By Friday she looked dreadful and I begged her to let me call the Doctor but she refused.  She sees so many health professionals she gets fed up to the back teeth and I can’t blame her really.  By Monday 28th August however she was very ill indeed, but it was a Bank Holiday so I had to wait 5 hours for an out of hours GP to visit.  She dipped Mum’s urine and declared she had a rampant UTI and a fever of 103F!  So she was prescribed yet more antibiotics.

Two days later on the Wednesday, Mum told me her hands had gone numb and that she had an awful pain in her neck.  Mum has both osteoporosis and spondylitis and does get random pain all the time, so although I was concerned I just gave her some codeine and said we’d see what she was like in 24 hours.  When I went the next day, though, her feet were numb and when she went to stand up her legs gave way.  Now we were all worried.

I rang for a Doctor who came within 2 hours and immediately ordered an Ambulance which took us to A&E.  At first they thought she might have slipped a disc in her neck, but an MRI scan showed nothing.  She then had a lumbar puncture which, along with her history and symptoms, resulted in a diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome.  It’s bizarre.  I thought if my Mum’s life were threatened it would obviously be because of her lung or heart disease, yet here she was desperately ill with some rare and random immune problem set off by a piddly little cold!  At 11.30pm Dad and I came home, leaving Mum waiting to be transferred to a ward.

The upshot is she is still in hospital and likely to remain so for some considerable time.  She has been given 5 days of immunoglobulin infusions, which is made up of a healthy person’s blood and which it’s hoped will replace her own faulty immune cells.  But her breathing has been affected and, although it’s great that she’s not on a ventilator, she does now need a nebulizer and is on a course of steroids.

My Mum, as you know, is an alcoholic but in most families alcoholism is a shameful secret and my Mum would be mortified that anyone knew.  So I had to find a way of speaking to the A&E doctor to let him know that Mum would be in alcohol withdrawal and they had to treat her for that or she could have a seizure.  So she’s been put on Librium without her knowledge.  Consequently she’s a bit high and in a brilliant mood, which is no bad thing really because I’m sure without it she would be monumentally depressed at being stuck in hospital.  The best part of it for me, and I know this sounds horrendously selfish, is that I now have my Mum back.  She is not drunk.  She is not slurring.  She can remember what I’ve told her.  We are having proper conversations and a laugh, like we used to before she became a raging drunk.  And it’s nice.

She’s now been in hospital for ten days.  The first week my Dad and I went to both visiting times, afternoon and evening, which meant I was driving 120 miles every day.  It nearly killed me.  I also had Bertie to see to and had to get friends and neighbours to have him, dropping him off, picking him up, remembering to take food, bowls, leads, poop bags etc.  Not only that, but it was my first week back at Camera Club and on the Tuesday night I was teaching a 2 hour beginner’s class, and on the Wednesday night I was giving a 20 minute talk on gaining my CPAGB photographic distinction, so I had to turn up as there was no-one else to do my stuff.  By Thursday I felt like I’d been run over by a train.

But it gets worse.  Coming home from the hospital one night a warning light appeared on the dash of my car and it started to loose power when I accelerated.  This despite the car only being 2½ years old and having had its MOT only 10 days before!  I couldn’t get it in the garage for 2 days, so I had to borrow my Dad’s car which isn’t automatic and made my legs hurts like a son-of-a-bitch.  I did get my car fixed and it cost me £200 I don’t have.  FFS.

It was also my birthday week and I had planned an afternoon tea party in my little garden for 30 people on the Sunday.  As Mum was in no danger I carried on with the party as the invites had already gone out and the food ordered and paid for, but of course the weather turned and was due to chuck down so I had to find somewhere else to have it which turned out to be my friend’s barn in a village 3 miles away.  Which was great, but meant I had to carry everything over there on my own and keep going backwards and forwards all week.

Trying to organize that on top of everything else nearly saw me off.  By Saturday I literally couldn’t feel my legs, was so nauseous I could only eat toast and my brain felt like someone had battered it with a hammer.  I haven’t had a birthday party since I was 6 years old.  I spent my 21st with my abusive ex-husband.  My 30th stuck in bed with severe M.E. and not even able to speak.  On my 40th I had improved enough to go out to dinner with a couple of friends but I’ve never had a party, and now it was kind’ve ruined and not the calm, chilled, fun event I’d planned.  It seems that whenever I do anything that’s just for me it turns out to be so stressful I wish I’d never bothered.

Of course, in the meantime life doesn’t stop.  I still had to cook meals, shop for myself and my Dad, do laundry (and the extra laundry created by someone who is in hospital), take the dog out and do all the other things we have to every day to survive.  As if all that weren’t enough I also got my period.  I think Someone Up There hates me.

My best mate took pity on me and took me out for a gorgeous, relaxing lunch at one of my favourite places by the Lake on Saturday afternoon.  I admit I didn’t see my Mum that day – I was too ill and exhausted and just needed some me time.  My Dad and niece went in the evening though, so at least she had some visitors.

In the end the party yesterday went off fine, but I was literally on the go from 8am until 9pm.  Afterwards I got tidied up then went through to the city to visit Mum at night, taking a little tray of party food and my family presents and cards with me to open with her so that she felt part of my birthday. My Dad had had to choose my presents, which isn’t his forte, but bless him he played a blinder and bought me the most gorgeous silver bracelet which he had engraved with my dog’s name and a little paw print – I love it 🙂

On top of that my lovely best mate made me a silver ring with a tourmaline stone (she is so talented) and another friend bought me a brilliant t-shirt which I wore to my party 😉

I feel so ill, exhausted and in pain this morning though I don’t know what to do with myself and I still have to go back to the barn to wash up and put all the tables away.  I had planned my annual post-birthday 2 week stay-cation as I knew throwing a party would be knackering, but of course Mum is still in hospital so that’s not going to happen.  I feel a bit hard done by which I know is selfish, but I look after everyone else all year and just wanted a couple of weeks where I could focus on me for a change.  I desperately need to chill and recharge my very flat batteries.

So, I think that’s me up to date.  I can’t quite believe I’m 50.  I still feel about 35 in my head (although my body disagrees) and I’m not sure how I ended up being half a century old!!