Tag Archives: living with chronic illness

Weekly roundup

I’ve been feeling rubbish for a month now, with particularly bad ‘brain fog’.  Both my back pain and insomnia are the worst they’ve been in years and my get up and go has got up and gone.  My joints are stupidly stiff, particularly in a morning, and there isn’t a ligament, large or small, which doesn’t hurt.  Yay.

I’ve not had a cold or a virus, not been under any different stresses to usual and not been doing or eating anything I shouldn’t, so I can only put it down to my hormones which are definitely on the rampage.  My endometriosis pain is really bad every single day at the moment and I’ve no idea why that should be other than my peri-menopause is ramping up a gear.  I feel like I’m having a permanent period only without the bleeding – my worst nightmare.

However, life carries on and this week has been really busy.  Wednesday I did the 60 mile round trip to the city for Mum’s oxygen assessment for which we’ve waited nearly eight months.  It’s a dedicated COPD clinic and the physios there were lovely.  They were mortified that my Mum had lung surgery 5 years ago and has not had a single appointment since with a dedicated COPD team nor any kind of rehab, and we haven’t been given a scrap of information on her disease, how to manage it or what to expect as it progresses.  That’s because there is no COPD Clinic where we live, but just because we don’t live in a city doesn’t mean we should have a complete lack of health-care for this terminal disease.  It’s a bloody outrage.  The outcome of the appointment is that Mum’s breathlessness isn’t so much a result of a deterioration in her disease (although she is in the ‘severe’ category) but more to do with her absolute lack of fitness coupled with her poorly lungs.

Thursday I had to starve myself until 2pm ready for my gallbladder scan.  I knew I didn’t have gallstones but they did find 2 small polyps.  I seem to be riddled with polyps as they also found no less than 11 when I had my first stomach endoscopy, some of which were really quite big.  They aren’t common in the general population and I would guess are mast cell disease related (there is research which shows increased mast cells in endometrial polyps and some debate as to whether mast cells are implicated in both nasal and colon polyps which have become cancerous).   Polyps can turn nasty so should be monitored regularly, which doesn’t happen because my local hospital is skint and can’t afford to do preventative medicine.  I’m still waiting for an appointment to see the Gastroenterologist about my continued stomach/oesophageal pain and low iron levels, which I can’t convince anybody is just severe reflux (due to overly zealous mast cells producing too much stomach acid, and my weak connective tissue causing my stomach sphincter to be floppy and allowing the acid into my oesophagus.).  I also suspect I have endometriosis on the outside of my stomach but good luck with having that confirmed, because my local hospital missed the humongous amounts of endo in my pelvis when another hospital found it no problem!  They really are feckin useless.

Friday I had to be up at the crack of dawn as a plumber was coming to service my gas boiler and fire, so I had to empty out the airing cupboard in the bathroom.  Afterwards, I followed him into town to my parents’ house as they’ve had a godawful smell coming from their kitchen sink for ages now which, despite our best efforts, we haven’t been able to solve.  I got there to find my Dad looking totally washed out and discovered he’d been up all night puking.  He’s never ill so to discover he’s had some kind of bug was a shock.  Bless him, he’d been sick in the bathroom sink and must have given it a blockage because the water then wasn’t draining well so I had to nip up to B&Q for some sink unblocker.

My Mum now really struggles to get up off the couch, so this week got rid of one of the little sofas in their lounge ane replaced it with 2 riser recliner chairs, so while the plumber was doing his thing my Dad and I spent 2 hours repositioning all the furniture in the lounge trying to find the best place for them.  My back was sodding well screaming before I even started and my poor Dad looked like he was about to keel over.  Inbetween all that, my brother rang and asked my Dad to give him a lift to work so I went instead as I didn’t think Dad was up to driving.  I then had to organize for the old sofa to be taken away which sounds easy but was a sodding nightmare.  I felt so sorry for the Old Fella who, bear in mind is nearly 80, had hardly had a wink of sleep, been violently sick then had to clean up after himself, change the bed sheets and wash them along with his pyjamas, and was just expected to carry on like nothing had happened.  If my Mum had been up all night puking she would have expected to stay in bed and be cared for but my poor Dad gets no such treatment.

My garage is up a shared driveway and I have to pass my neighbour’s house to get to mine.  I often stop to chat to the lovely couple who live behind me but on Friday discovered a very stressed Rob who was having a mare with Amazon.  £79 had gone missing from his bank account and despite trying for 1½ hours he still hadn’t got it sorted out.  My neighbours are in their seventies and find the internet confusing, so I said I’d help.  I discovered he’d been signed up for Amazon Prime without his knowledge (he didn’t even know what Amazon Prime was) so I managed to cancel the subscription and get him refunded.  All of which meant I didn’t reach my back door until 4pm and was just about on my last legs due in no small part to the fact I’d only managed 3 broken hours sleep the night before.

Summer officially arrived on Saturday and the weather is gorgeous so Bertie and I sat by the river for a couple of hours watching the wildlife and having a much needed chill.  To me, where I live is paradise and as I lay there in amongst the buttercups, with little Sandmartins swooping overhead, sheep and lambs peacefully grazing just feet away and the gentle babble of the river in which a Heron was fishing I couldn’t help but count my blessings.  Days don’t get any better than that 🙂

 

Weekly roundup

I’ve had a shit week health-wise.  My last period was weird and has left me feeling rubbish.  In particular my histamine is way high – I know this because I have rampant insomnia, am peeing like a race horse, sneezing, itching, my back is in constant painful spasm and I’m having some mild reactions after eating and taking my H2 antihistamine meds.  Hives are always the last thing to appear, but appear they will – something to look forward to then 😉

In addition, I’ve had some quite bad M.E. days, the kind I’ve thankfully forgotten existed.  My brain fog has been really intrusive and left me feeling like I’ve got dementia, and I literally had to stay in bed one day as I lost all feeling in my legs.  I had a very scary hour one afternoon when I was driving somewhere I’d been going to for 40 years and got lost – I genuinely couldn’t remember how to get there and ended up driving round in circles for 20 minutes.  WTF?!

My Mum turned 77 this week.  I wish I could say I enjoyed her birthday with her, but to be fair all events are marred by her drinking now and I just endure them more than anything.  She seemed to have a nice time though so I guess that’s the main thing.  She’d asked for an electric soup maker which I bought her, but when she rang me smashed out of her skull at 6.30pm to tell me she’d made her first batch of soup it kind’ve spoiled the gift for me if I’m honest.  I know it shouldn’t have but it did, and I need to acknowledge that to myself.  After my counselling I don’t get angry about it like I used to though, so that’s good.

My Dad’s been having some dizzy spells and it must have been bad because he made his own appointment to see the Doctor!  She said he has a slow heart beat and thinks maybe his prostate medication is the cause, so he’s been taken off that to see if it helps.  Lots of things can cause dizziness in the elderly though, so it’s just going to be trial and error to discover the culprit.

The General Election result was a total disaster and I bet the cocky Conservatives wish they’d never bothered.  This bloody country continually shoots itself in the foot and is, quite frankly, going to the dogs.

My best mate is also having a rough time of it, so we met for lunch yesterday and had a laugh to take our mind off things.  Thank God for her cos she keeps me sane.

Even though my brain has been fried I desperately needed a distraction from how crap I’ve been feeling, so worked on a couple of photos I’d taken.  The marble Bust one, done using my bed sheet and marble effect toilet seat!, is just OK (I can’t get the eyes right) but I quite like the horse:

 

 

Weekly roundup

I’ve sadly been to many funerals over my lifetime, and as the deceased’s nearest and dearest stand giving the eulogy I’ve often wondered if they ever told the dead person what they’re telling the rest of us.  How precious they were to them, how they changed their lives, all the times they helped them, or made them laugh.  How much they were loved. I’d personally prefer to say all these nice things to the people in my life while they’re still here, so I copied the blog post I wrote about my Camera Club friend John and emailed it to him.  I had emailer’s remorse the second I did it, and had no idea what his reaction would be, if I’d embarrass him or myself, or whether it would make our next meeting awkward but then I figured so what if it did?  I wanted him to know how much his kindness had meant to me over the past 3 years and that I valued the qualities he possesses as a human being, which I find are rare these days.  I needn’t have worried.  His response was lovely and I think he was shocked but secretely pleased.  Even at the age of 70 it’s nice to know that we are appreciated.

The first half of my week was uneventful, the second half not so much.  My Monthly Friend made an appearance on Thursday and left me a complete gibbering wreck.  I had a migraine which lasted three days and from which my head has still not recovered, and was so emotional on Friday I literally couldn’t stop crying.  I can’t remember the last time I sobbed like that and to be so out of control of my emotions was most disconcerting.  I’d been awake half the night with period pains and what felt like rats gnawing at the inside of my skull, then logged on to my laptop to find that John had bought me the Elements 13 software and his kindness was all too much.  I started to bawl and once the floodgates had opened I couldn’t close them again.  The more I cried the more my head pounded and the more nauseous I felt, but it made no odds.  Bloody hormones, I’m a martyr to them at the mo!

Despite my emotional fragility and stonking headache I’d arranged for my friend’s two kids to come over for a photoshoot in the afternoon so I eventually had to pull myself together.  I had the eldest dress up as a mermaid and tried my hand at faking an underwater picture, which still needs a bit of work but has turned out OK.  I get really excited about creating composite pictures and totally immersed in them.  It’s such a fantastic distraction and I feel truly alive when I’m being creative.

I get criticized about all sorts by readers of my blog, and one of my biggest crimes is that I don’t understand issues properly.  Whilst it’s true I don’t have a degree in genetics or nutrition 90% of my readers don’t either, so I try to tackle subjects simply and in a way we can all grasp.  For example, you will never see me write about “heritable disorders of connective tissue” (say whaaaat?!) because to most people it means fuck all.  In any area of life the more knowledgeable and skilled people become the less they speak in a language that the lay person can understand, which is fine if you’re conversing with other Doctors or Researchers but rubbish if you’re speaking to Patients.  When Charities are producing literature or giving lectures to Joe Public I wish they’d stop with the medical jargon and just speak in good old plain English.  It applies to any walk of life.  My Camera Club holds a beginner’s photography course but the guy who runs it has been taking photos for 30 years, so twitters on about ‘focal lengths’ and ‘lens distortion’ when the people he’s speaking to just want to know how to point and shoot and not have a blurry photo at the end of it!  I sit in the audience and watch their eyes glaze over and their interest wander and it actually becomes all about the ego of the lecturer and how clever he is to know everything about everything rather than how to help others become better at taking pictures.

More research out this week shows ‘breakthroughs’ in the puzzle which is M.E./CFS.  The trouble is the ‘breakthroughs’ are on different subjects, one being energy (*sigh*) and the other the immune system (more promising IMHO).  Patients online get all excited and then we hear nothing ever again.  I don’t even bother reading it any more because I’ve had 20 years of ‘breakthroughs’ when it comes to M.E. and we’re still none the flippin’ wiser.

More terror-induced carnage in the UK overnight.  What an absolute waste of life 😦  I have no idea what ISIS hopes to achieve.  If Hitler, who killed millions of Brits in the war, couldn’t break us a few lone terrorists aren’t going to.  I sometimes wonder if these men (and it’s always men, particularly as women have no value in this ideology) just like violence.  They like the feeling of power and control it gives them and while in the beginning it’s to do with religion or land, in the end that just becomes an excuse to murder people for the sheer thrill of it.

Weekly roundup

We’ve had an unexpected heat wave this week and it’s been fabulous.  I feel so much better in warm (not hot!), sunny weather with more energy and less pain, not to mention the psychological boost.  The Farmers aren’t quite so happy though, as they’ve recently planted summer crops and we’ve hardly had a drop of rain for 6 weeks now.  Combine that with a week’s worth of 26C heat and the seedlings are all suffering.  It’s due to cool back down to the usual 15C tomorrow but there’s still not much rain due, which is great for me but bad for the plants!

I mercifully didn’t feel any ill effects from my endoscopy, other than having a very sore throat and diaphragm for a few days.  In fact, due to the fabulous weather my energy has been great this week and I’ve managed to do a little bit of gardening, potting up some tender summer flowers that I’d grown from seed in my kitchen windowsill.  Bertie helped, by pinching mouthfuls of fresh new soil out of the pots and eating it.  He’s a strange boy 😉

The arm on my distance glasses broke this week and aren’t fixable, so I’m having to fork out £160 for a new pair.  I’m stony broke as I’ve been buying a Father’s Day gift for my Dad and presents for my Mum’s birthday next month and really didn’t need the expense :-/  I got my Dad a simple Pedometer so he can see how far he’s walked when he goes up the fells each week, but I’ve tried it out myself first because he’ll ask me how to set it up and use it and I had no clue.  I’ve worn it for 5 days now and am amazed by the results.  I’m sedentary obviously and there’s no way I’ll ever be doing the recommended 10,000 steps a day, but actually I’m more mobile than I realized and it’s surprising how the steps taken pottering around the house and garden mount up, all of which help to keep my muscles and heart healthy 🙂

Monday’s torture aside, it’s been a lovely quiet week and it’s been great to be out on my scooter without having to be trussed up like the Michelin Man to keep out the cold.  I really don’t have anything to tell you, which is great because it means there’s been no drama and weeks without drama seem to be few and far between.  I have had an email from the genetics company 23andme which has made me think about genes in general and I’m intending to do a post about that this week.  It’s also half term holidays and I’m hoping to do some more photos with my friend’s kids, so that will keep me out of mischief.   But right now I’m off to make some breakfast cos my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut 😉

 

 

Weekly roundup

It’s Sunday.  Again.  Blimey, I have no idea where the time goes!

I spent the first half of the week feeling rubbish after attending the Photography event last weekend, so consequently didn’t do much.  I’ve felt rubbish a fair bit recently and I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by all the jobs piling up both at my house and at my parents’.  I can’t have felt that overwhelmed though, as instead of tackling said jobs on  Thursday when I was feeling a bit brighter I went with a friend on my scooter to a local bluebell wood instead 😉  The sun was shining, the insects were humming, the butterflies were out in force, the smell was breathtaking and I tell myself it was good for my soul (and it was).  I’m going to ignore the fact I trapped my finger in the back door on the way out and took a chunk out of my knuckle which bled everywhere and is still really sore.

Friday though I really did have to make a start on some jobs at my folks’ and it did feel good to get them out of the way.  Friday afternoon my computer decided to install the latest ‘Creation’ update for Windows 10.  It took over an hour and afterwards my touchpad didn’t work properly, all my notification sounds had reverted back to default, my taskbar was full of unnecessary icons like One Drive which I now can’t get rid of, my carefully calibrated monitor colours had gone to shit and my computer had slowed down considerably.  Way to go Microsoft!  So I spent another hour putting my laptop back to how it should be and cursing Bill Gates.

Saturday I was getting concerned about the fact my freezer was half empty, so I spent the whole morning cooking.  It fucking cripples me and at the end of it I’m in so much pain and am so exhausted I’m literally on the verge of collapse – if I ever win the Lotto the very first thing I would do is employ a chef.  I’m extremely proud that I managed to make some Gingerbread, 4 Lentil Dals, 4 Lentil bakes and 4 pots of rhubarb jam though – yayy to me 😉

This afternoon I’m meeting my bezzie for lunch.  I haven’t seen her for weeks as she’s been really unwell.  She has M.E. but is also Coeliac.  She and her partner ate out at a cafe they’ve been to many times before and she ordered a gluten-free turkey sandwich.  Not long afterwards she started to feel really sick and realized she’d been glutened.   When she asked the cafe owner what was in the sandwich it turned out it contained regular stuffing.  WTF?!  She vomited violently for the next 6 hours and it took two entire weeks for her to start eating normally again.

This is where the current fad for being ‘sensitive to gluten’ annoys the hell out of me.  So many people these days avoid wheat because it makes them bloated or because they’ve read online somewhere that it’s bad for you, so food outlets don’t really take the whole issue seriously.  But for Coeliacs it can be a matter of life or death.  If my friend eats gluten it can give her stomach cancer or make her puke so much she needs to be hospitalized.  By giving her a sandwich containing gluten the cafe owner has basically assaulted her, causing her actual bodily harm.  We both agree there should be some official body you can report this kind of thing to, as it’s now illegal in the UK to say food is allergen-free when it’s not.

I’m dreading tomorrow as I’m going for my endoscopy.  Wish me luck and here’s hoping my throat doesn’t swell up like last time!

Perspectives

I am woefully sleep deprived and have the brain function of a coma patient today, so apologies for typos and I hope this post makes some sense!

The thing that shocks people who don’t know me and find out I’m ill is that I’m so bubbly, happy and enthusiastic about life.  They wonder how it’s possible to suffer the way I do, and lead such a limited existence, yet still be joyful.  When I really analyze my situation it’s complex and I don’t have a glib answer, so I thought I’d try and explain it in this post.

I was absolutely miserable when I was healthy.  I was not living any kind of authentic life and was striving for what other people strive for, ie advancement in my career, foreign holidays, a nice car, designer clothes, the perfect body and various other material ‘stuff’ which appeared to make other people joyful so I thought should make me joyful.  But it didn’t.  I hated my job, couldn’t care less what kind of car I drove so long as it got me from A to B, ended up ill every time I went abroad and secretly thought anyone who spent a shit load of cash on a Gucci bag just because it said “Gucci” on the front was mental.  I had no idea when I was young what would fulfil me, I just knew that it wasn’t ‘stuff’.

When I first became really ill with M.E. I was also miserable, but it was a totally different kind of misery.  Stripped away was my career, the body beautiful and financial stability, and the only item of clothing I bought for 6 years was pyjamas.  It’s impossible to be happy when you wake each morning feeling like you’re dying and in so much pain and distress you wonder how you will get through the next minute let alone the entire day.  I was abandoned by just about everyone except my parents and a couple of close friends and faced a herculean struggle each and every day just to feed myself, bathe myself and do the basics of keeping myself alive.  It was surviving not living but it changed my entire perspective on life.  When you have everything you’ve ever strived for taken away, then are told you might die but not only do you not die you actually start to recover, it changes you forever – or at least it should.

I remember the first time I went out for dinner after my bedridden years.  I still felt really really ill, just getting dressed and putting my make-up on had been a monumental effort, the room was spinning, the lights were too bright…………but I truly lived that night, maybe for the first time ever.  I felt the summer sunlight streaming through the window onto my face.  The smell of each ingredient exploded in my nose.  I could pick out every sound: from the hiss of the espresso machine, to the creak of the door as each new person arrived, to my partner’s breathing.  The cutlery was heavy and solid in my hand.  The bubbles from my lemonade popping on my tongue.  Everything was heightened like I was experiencing it for the very first time……….and that hasn’t left me.

Now I am well enough to be able to do things no activity is taken for granted.  Even on the days when I’m really unwell, it’s chucking down with rain and freezing cold but I still have to take the dog out I remain grateful that I can even go over my front door step.  I still loathe doing the ironing but can dislike it and still be appreciative that I can do it 😉  Come those warm, sunny days when I’m lying by the riverbank, surrounded by birdsong and the buzz of insects it’s like some kind of Nirvana – I lie there bursting with gratitude at living where I do, drinking in the experience and nature’s life affirming energy.

There’s an adage which states: “you don’t know what you have til it’s gone” and it’s oh so true.  My Mum and I were technically homeless for 2 years after my parents separated and that experience has never left me.  My home has always been incredibly important for my security and I’ve never taken it for granted.  I am grateful every day for my own space, my own kitchen, my own bed.  I’ve never had much money and that used to bother me until I realized that money can’t buy me happiness.  You need a certain amount of financial security to feel safe and I’m extremely lucky that I have that, but over and above security money can’t buy me anything which makes me joyful.  It doesn’t buy love, family, health, friendship or peace of mind.  In fact, I think money often robs people of the ability to appreciate life and the more people have the more dissatisfied they become.

I am lonely and I miss having a partner, but experiencing that loneliness makes me appreciate the people in my life so much more.  I drop everything to spend time with my friends and family and relish every second of laughter and companionship.  And if Mr Right ever does come along he’s going to be cherished beyond his wildest dreams (lucky boy 😉 ).

We are constantly brain-washed into believing money, possessions and the perfect body will make us happy, then wonder why we spend much of our lives feeling discontent.  We’re forced into constantly striving: for more and more stuff, for longer nails, bigger boobs, a smaller waist, flatter stomachs………….. and it’s exhausting.  When is enough actually enough?  And as long as we’re healthy who fucking cares what we look like?!

After my brushes with death I realized life is both precious and precarious.  I realized I wasn’t invincible and my life could be taken away at any time for any reason, so I needed to seize each moment and treat it like my last.  I could lose the people I love suddenly and without warning, so I needed to treasure every second they’re still with me.  I realized that nature nurtures me in a way no material possession ever could.  That the loyalty and unconditional love of my pets sustains my soul.  That I am in awe of my body, which has spent 2 decades fighting a brutal war to keep me alive and emerges every day victorious, if increasingly bruised and battle scarred.

I love being alive.  It certainly beats the alternative and I intend to live with passion and gusto and joy for as long as I am able.  My limitations constrain me but don’t confine me and they certainly don’t define me.  And now, despite feeling absolutely crap, I am off into my spare bedroom to take some pictures of myself looking like a statue for a photo idea I have, then will spend an engrossed hour tonight in Photoshop faffing with it.  And after that, I have an idea for a photo which involves a scarecrow, and one which involves a fairy, and one which involves a mermaid, and one which involves tree bark, and one which involves a witch, and one which involves bluebells, and one which involves a plane…………….I can’t wait to get started 🙂

Weekly roundup

I can’t believe that this week my blog received its 700,000th visitor.  Holy crap!  I know I’ve said this before, but the thought that sickly me, lying here in my bed in the wilds of the Lake District can reach hundreds of thousands of people from 170 countries around the world literally blows my mind.  The internet is *awesome* 🙂

My new photo pages have proved popular, though I apologise that only a few of the actual pictures are new.  I have now added a few paragraphs to the bottom of the mast cell photos page to explain the difference between the reactions a healthy person would have to things like being hot or being bitten and those experienced by someone with a mast cell disorder.

My busy “holiday” last week caught up with me on Wednesday and I felt like I’d been trampled by a herd of wild elephants.  After 22 years of having M.E. I’m usually very good at knowing how far to push my body and bad days are now rare rather than an everyday occurence, so it comes as a shock when I wake up feeling so ill – you really do forget how poisoned and poleaxed M.E. makes you and how unable you are to do anything, ie speak, think, sit upright, let alone make something to eat or have a bath.  It didn’t help that I had my period which this month was pretty unpleasant, or the fact my hormones have given me rampant insomnia for the last fortnight which is inevitably going to make me feel rubbish.  I have a feeling my hives might now come back because that’s what happens when I don’t stay underneath my ME-induced glass ceiling.  Some people with M.E. would call this a “crash” and some would call it a “relapse”.  I wouldn’t call it either.  A “crash” is having to say in bed for at least a couple of weeks and a “relapse” is having to stay in bed for at least a couple of months, often much much longer.  I try not to be overly dramatic about my bad days, even if they last for several days, because they really are just bad days and nothing proper rest won’t alleviate.  If I don’t rest, however, my bad patch risks becoming a crash or a relapse and I’m very aware of that.

Because I’m so unwell I haven’t done much, but this weekend I’d pledged to man a stall for 2 hours each day at a large annual photography event organized by my Camera Club.  I was looking forward to doing something different and meeting new people, so dragged my ass out of bed to attend.  I did enjoy it, but it was sodding hard work and as each minute ticked by I could feel my energy draining away like water down a plughole, my body getting heavier and heavier and my brain getting muddier and muddier until just speaking a simple sentence was beyond me.  For once I must have looked as shit as I felt because an acquaintance I don’t even know very well was there, took one look at me and said “you’re flagging, get yourself home” and I had to agree.  Trouble was, that was yesterday and I still have 2 more hours to do this afternoon!

May is Ehlers-Danlos Awareness month and, coincidentally, M.E. Awareness month and I have done nothing to highlight either disease.  I think, after all these years, I’m just more realistic than optimistic about how much people are interested in the fact I’m ill.  On the whole Joe Public doesn’t care and won’t care until someone they love has either disease.  When I was healthy I wouldn’t have read a post about someone being sick either or I would have read it, thought “oh that’s a shame, poor thing” and gone back to my plans for what I would wear out that night.  It’s only when influential people’s lives are affected by disease that things change.  Ronald Davis wouldn’t have researched M.E. if his son Whitney didn’t have it, just like John Caudwell wouldn’t be ploughing millions into Lyme if his family weren’t affected by it.  Putting something on my Facebook page is pointless because I’m preaching to the converted – my friends and family already know I’m sick and if they haven’t bothered to find out about my diseases by now then they’re clearly not interested.  Even I find reading endless posts about devastated people’s lives depressing, to the point where I skip right over them (I know, I’m a disgrace but at least I’m honest 😉 ).

On that cheerful note I’ll try and get my achy, painful, foggy, exhausted, sick arse in gear.  It would help if Bertie didn’t wake me every single morning at 6am demanding his breakfast, particularly this morning when I hadn’t gotten to sleep until after 3am!!