Monthly Archives: October 2005

Heart bypass

I’m sitting here, wishing I had one – that today could simply bypass the part of my body where my feelings are all tangled up and I could simply get on with the mundanities like loading the dishwasher and doing the ironing without all the other gumph. You probably think it’s about Dad, but it’s actually only half about Dad as I’m sitting here listening to my little Smudgelet coughing himself hoarse as he tries to sleep and wishing I could magic this cough away for him. Tiddles has been poorly as well today, with a RADA-qualifying performance over a “two 8-pm bedtimes in a row” headache which was seriously amplified by “Smudgelet and Grandad are getting all the attention and it’s about time you paid a bit more to me”-itis. (Spot the sympathetic mummy! And yes, I do feel guilty, but if you saw him dancing around in the mummy-isn’t-looking moments, you’d lack sympathy too). And of course, there’s a large part of me that really wants to go round and spend the evening with my Dad.

I hope they do take him in tomorrow. We’ve been today to get his blood test done (having to suffer the guilt of leaving a poorly 13-year-old alone in bed while we did so, in the absence of a babysitter) and I called in on the third-floor ward to check on the routine for tomorrow. After I’d run up and down the stairs to the ward, Dad suddenly said “Did you think to ask them about the mattress?”, so off I went again. Dad has a special mattress from the hospice to make his bed bearable to sleep on and I was to enquire whether the hospital could provide one. Needless to say, the answer is “Any chance you could bring your own?”. I wonder, when they send him home after the op, whether they’ll tell him to “pick up his bed and walk”.

Maybe I shouldn’t laugh, but I’ve been thinking about the reaction of the landlady at the pub when Dad had his seizure on Saturday. She came to mind when I was planning to take Dad and the boys out for lunch today, before the boys were both too ill to go, and I pondered whether to go back to the same place! I think she’d have had a fit 😀 She was kind and concerned, but I couldn’t help laughing as she’d been concerned how the ambulance men were going to get Dad out through the tiny front door so went and opened the double doors at the back, returning only to find they’d already gone and were loading Dad into the ambulance. Totally flustered, she forgot to enquire how Dad was and simply ranted about how the ambulance men had taken no notice of her opening the other doors for them, even though she’d told them to take him out of the back way. (And no, it wasn’t to keep him out of sight as going through the front was actually more discrete as we were sitting just by the door). I was forced to giggle, too, when she misheard my brother speaking to the control centre when he rang for the ambulance. Dad has a Triage Bypass card which allows him to get emergency treatment without having to go through a host of questions from a nurse first. The landlady (not listening to the conversation at all, of course) went into the lounge and declared “He’s only just had a heart bypass operation, too – no wonder he’s so ill !!!”

Mind you, the old fraud managed two trips to church on Sunday and a ride out to the church coffee morning on Monday. I was helping. I made three cups of coffee and drank two, and washed up four cups so I am sure M appreciated my help 😀

Now this is the life

Well, today’s been just lovely – just how a family Sunday should be, apart from me and the boys missing church this morning. Dad managed to go, though – much to everyone’s surprise. (I missed in order to get him there, and to catch up on some missed sleep from yesterday, though my planned soak in the bath was interrupted by one sister phoning and my breakfast by the other – not begrudged for a minute, but a bit of a spanner in the works for my planned lazy morning!!!)

So what has today contained, apart from cooking meals and loading dishwashers of course. Well, it’s contained singing round the piano (great fun) and both boys practising their Christmas carols for the concert at the end of the year. It contained breaking open Tiddles’ birthday present which was a game of “Quick Chess”, introducing the boys to playing chess by breaking it down into a series of much smaller and quicker games with a limited number of pieces. We mastered Power Pawns and King’s Conquest with great fun discussing tactics and laughing at Smudgelet when he totally messed up 😀 Then this afternoon, Smudgelet feeling quite washed out and needing to go to bed for a couple of hours, Tiddles and Dad and I got the cards out and played rummy and sevens for two hours of unmitigated fun. It was great, and Dad was able to enjoy it as much as the rest of us.. until I beat him, of course 😀

Now Tiddles and Dad are having tea together and getting ready for me to run them to church for the evening service while Smudgelet nurses his cough in a nice steamy bath.

A contrast to yesterday’s frightener. My brother was over just for four hours, down from Scotland for work reasons, and he offered (OK, so he was volunteered!) to buy us all lunch at the local pub. Should have been a nice afternoon out before running him back to the ferry. But as it was, he stayed all afternoon. The reason? Dad was taken ill in the pub and collapsed, needing an ambulance to rush him into hospital. It was so indescribably scary – I thought we were losing him. One minute he was fine, apart from not really fancying his meal – the next he was taken with a seizure which looked for all the world like a stroke. The kids were screaming and I could do nothing to comfort them because, had I moved away from Dad, he’d have fallen to the floor from his chair (and of course we’re having to avoid any risk of him breaking a bone). Thank God my brother was there to phone the ambulance and to see to the boys while I cared for our father and accompanied him in the ambulance to the hospital. I aged in moments – partly through the shock of seeing him in such an incapacitated state and partly through the fact that the paramedic who arrived to administer oxygen and get him ready for the ambulance had been in my class when he was nine!!!

Possibly a mini-stroke, possibly something else (goodness knows what), but at least the oxygen did the trick in bringing him round and within minutes of arriving in hospital he was flirting merrily with the female doctor, informing her that he had a lot of trouble with his heart… because he kept losing it to lovely female medical staff and getting into trouble for it!

Scary now, though, to be on tenterhooks waiting for it to happen again (as well it might) – especially for my poor little ones who couldn’t sleep last night for fear that Grandad would be taken ill in the night and unable to call for help.

Random acts of kindness

I meant to blog about this today and, with events as they were, it got blown out of my mind temporarily. Now the dust has settled, it has definitely come back. I fact I was going to blog about it yesterday, but got trapped in a wardrobe. But if ever there was perfect timing for a perfect unexpected gift, then this was the day for it.

birdie, this is not the proper thank you note I intend to write, but you are one special person and I in particular am so touched by your kindness and your sheer ingenuity. Because from the middle of my wardrobe yesterday I was called to receive a parcel from the postman.. a parcel with an unfamiliar address and handwriting. And upon opening it I discovered I’d gained the biggest smile imaginable. For it contained an assortment of the most wonderful destressers……. and you can tell mr birdie you’re not mad at all, for they were absolutely perfect.

A spray of lavender and camomile for my pillow,
two shiny round conkers
a bottle of bubble mix
a massive feather of a pen
the tiniest imaginable kite
a baby birdie footprint that I really do cherish.

Thank you!!!!

Meanwhile I have spoken to my friend. My baby is fast asleep in his bed, clutching his teddy, having cried himself to sleep. I am going in the morning to take him to school.

Now to spray my pillow with lavender and camomile and go to sleep.


No, not my figure. Well, my figure too, but mostly the way today developed.

Lovely morning. M was preaching at a little country church with no organist, so I volunteered to accompany her to.. well, to accompany her. A good way to get a sneak preview of a church where I may well be called upon to preach in the coming months. The hymns were playable, and it was a delight to hear both my sons sitting alongside me and singing their hearts out. Until today Smudgelet had never been willing to partipate in the singing at church, despite being able to read and enjoying singing.

After the service, I was given the chance to play the ancient organ which now stands unused in a corner of the little chapel. It’s a beauty, with painted pipes and the tiniest ivory keys, and wooden stops that made a sound like a swanee whistle when you pulled them out! And as I was delighting in the experience of that and asked how old it was, the steward admitted that they didn’t know how old it was but they had one older… and unveiled a tiny harmonium about the size of a sewing machine. Talk about a workout for the mind AND the body – you had to pump madly with alternate feet, control the volume with a lever operated by your knee, and then use both hands to play on its tiny keyboard. It had a lovely tone, though, and was such fun to play.

We conned M into buying us lunch out. Well, I invited her to the local cafe for coffee, as it was such a beautiful day.. and then discovered I’d no money. She offered to stump up the cost of the coffee, but once we got inside the cafe we just couldn’t resist getting lunch. A real treat, and chance for us all to chatter and relax together.

Then this afternoon the heavens opened and so did Tiddles’ temper. Once again unwilling to do the homework he repeatedly puts off until he gets detention, this time he responded to it with violence… until I ended up having to restrain him. A phone call brought our wonderful M to the rescue, but he wouldn’t respond to her either, so I ended up calling a friend who’s an emergency foster carer and arranging for her to take him overnight so as to stop myself calling social services. She’s a wonder too – dropped everything and took him in as he stood, in his torn pyjamas and dressing gown. I’m now waiting for her to call and let me know how he is. Distressing for poor Smudgelet, though – terrified to see his brother attack me and desolate to see him go. And as for me……. I just want him home, but I’m also relieved not to have to deal with it any more tonight… and I’m still all of a shake. I’m glad M was here to reassure me that I did, actually, do everything right and that there was nothing I could have done to prevent it developing the way it did.

The other night Smudgelet, talking about his sister, said “It would be so much easier if I didn’t love her so much”. Thinking of Dad and thinking of Tiddles… boy, do I know what he means!

The feline, the tooth and the wardrobe

Ouch – I suddenly find myself minus half a tooth and half a filling. Great – the Isle of Wight is utterly without available NHS dentists so my little emergency could well take me “abroad” on a little excursion… either that or cost me an arm and a leg going private. How very irritating.

Smudgelet seems not to be coughing quite so much tonight – touch wood. Let’s hope a lazy day has done him good. Tiddles has had a good day too, as has my Dad who has completed another set of beautiful drawings.

Meanwhile most of the day has been dedicated to my wardrobe. Amazing – it’s the first set of instructions that have actually been straightforward to follow – so miracles do happen! I’ve done all but the most difficult bit. I’m leaving the doors until tomorrow- by 5pm I thought it was about time I got washed and dressed and ready for the day. Am I the only person who works best if they don’t change out of their pyjamas? But it all went together without a hitch and was eventually manoevred into position in the bedroom, having weaved it back and forth through the doorway and multi-cornered hall single handed (don’t tell my Dad!), with a little help from Tiddles. I wondered at one point why it had suddenly become heavier, but evicting Charlie from the drawers helped considerably. Shame I hadn’t really planned in advance properly… .. … Well, it only took another half hour to take the whole fitting back through the hall and into the lounge again to turn it round!!! But it does look good now it’s finally facing the right way!

Charlie was already in disgrace. The jigsaw box was a cosy place to have a sleep this morning. Shame it was balanced so precariously on top of the organ – a slight shift of weight and the whole lot went catapulting over the length of the end part of the lounge, together with the contents of my open sewing case which was balanced alongside it. Needless to say, Charlie did not hang around for long to see the results of his mishap! Tiddles reckons he’s gathered up all 3000 pieces. I suppose I’m going to have to make the puzzle up to find out if there’s any he’s missed.

Bet I ache tomorrow.


A lovely long chat with Tiddles’ teacher yesterday, negotiating a reduction in homework due to his sleeping problems. The school are being very helpful – and it’s reminded them, the teacher tells me, of the fact that their pupils are still children who do need chance to do things other than school work, so it may have benefited more than just him.

It was good to exchange stories, comparing his behaviour at home and his behaviour at school, and giving us each a better insight to the “whole child”. I was reassured. “He is getting better,” she said. “I can see some progress in his organisational skills!” I waited, on tenterhooks. “He no longer leaves his books strewn all over the desk when he leaves the room,” she informed me. Wow… now that is amazing. “No, now he gathers them all up and moves them away…….. and leaves them strewn over the worktop at the side of the classroom instead. But we have to celebrate these little steps 😀 ”

One small step – he’s asked me if I’ll buy him the book they’re reading in school because he wants to get on with it and the class are not really interested. Amazing!

In other news, Smudgelet is proper poorly – with a sore throat and cough so bad that he no longer has any voice to cough with and consequently sounds like a cat bringing up a hairball. He woke me up at 3 a.m. to inform me he’d lost his voice. I was very sympathetic… it was only the fourth time he’d woken me, after all. Poor Smudgelet. He’s curled up now in my bed…… well, in my duvet on the sofa… and sleeping fitfully. Mustn’t catch it, though. And mustn’t let Dad catch it either.

Now that my sister J has gone home and all’s gone back to normal, depression and anger over his op has now hit Dad. He’s declared that if it doesn’t take place next week, he’ll refuse it. This was triggered by a standard comment on the date-confirmation-letter that non-attendance without prior notice would result in being denied the operation and the GP being informed. He has taken this personally – convinced it was added onto the letter especially for him and unable to comprehend that the letter is a simple pro-forma with only the specific details added in before posting. Ho hum – I can see the next few weeks being a bit of a challenge. Good job Tiddles is getting himself more organised 😉


I am writing from the middle of my wardrobe. I sit here surrounded by whiteness and mirrors and bits of dowel and I have come to the part in the instructions where it clearly states, in diagram form, “give up for a bit and go and do some blogging”. This bit comes shortly before connecting the oojamaflip to the doofah and slightly after undoing all the screws that connected the whatjamacallit to what is clearly the wrong dooberrywhatsit.

Actually it is not going too badly so far. The helpful instructions have told me to construct the wardrobe as close as possible to the place where it is going to stand… and then informed me that I needed a space at least 8 foot square in which to construct it .. more, if I actually wanted room to move while building. Thus I am building my wardrobes a long long way from where they are intended to stand, and have had to totally reorganise my lounge in order to do so. In fact, one could almost ponder whether it might be easier just to bring the bed in here!

Tiddles is feeling quite pleased with himself, having managed to construct the little bedside cabinet single handed. OK, so I helped a little bit, but having learnt from my childhood experience that it is a good thing to learn how to put together flat-pack furniture but is a very boring activity if all you’re allowed to do is pass the screwdriver and hold the nails, I insisted that he take the role of master carpenter and I’d simply do the labouring. (Hmm.. somehow, though, I seem to miss out both times!)

I was an incredibly good girl today. You can be impressed if you like. Despite the searing cold (can you have searing cold?) and blizzardy wind and drizzly grey rain, M and I resolved to start our swimming and aquafit routine again after a break of several months (and a sarcastic comment from M’s doctor when he weighed her yesterday!). Dad came along for the ride and sat happily in the cafe for half an hour drinking coffee and eating biscuits while we industriously ploughed up and down the pool in the not-exactly-tepid water. We swam for a good three hours from ten forty to eleven o’clock, pausing only occasionally to.. er.. ah yes, to let the lane ahead clear before monopolising it with our energetic and determined swimming, and then had a lovely warm shower and adjourned for coffee. It would have been churlish of us to turn down the Mars Bar Dad offered to buy us, wouldn’t it?

Domestic rumblings

It’s all go at Smudgie Towers!

In fact, I could do with it all going. This house has far far too much clutter – as those who have visited our mini-mansion will confirm. And right now it’s worse as, in a sacrificial offering, I donated my wardrobes to the Smudgelets and now have a bedroom full of Tesco crates jam packed with clothing (most of which I’m sure I’ve.. er.. outgrown!). I exacerbated it yesterday by donating the remaining chest of drawers to my Dad – tipping the contents out onto my bed to speed up proceedings – and taking off his hands a large (somewhat in need of repair) chest of drawers chock full of bits and pieces which need sorting and “relocating”, probably in a large black bag. Contents of these drawers have, to save time, been tipped out onto my bed for ease of movement and repairing of the chest. You know, I love sleeping on my sofa 😀

The interesting part of these proceedings was my sister and I moving the chest of drawers. Well, not so much a chest of drawers, actually the centre piece of a wardrobe suite, so the height and ungainliness of a wardrobe but with removable drawers. It was interesting indeed manoevring it through my rather zigzaggy hallway; balancing it along the slopy path all strewn with hidden obstacles like a tiny step up and a large protruding drain cover and an over-friendly hedge; forcing it round the hairpin bend at the end of the path and onto the rather steeply sloping drive, and then up Dad’s steps and through into the bedroom. En route we had a rather close encounter with my catoniasta (sp?) bush. As we arrived in the bedroom and looked at the base where the drawers were going to go, we found it jammed full of catoniasta berries but, what’s more, a million or so tiny baby woodlice scurrying in confusion over the wood in search of a nice safe crevice to hide in. What a performance. Both my sister and I are rather fond of woodlice and preferred to rescue them than squish them… easier said than done! And all this while trying not to alert Dad’s attention to what we were doing!

Now my new wardrobes have arrived. Hmmm… they are flatpacked in two massive and extremely heavy boxes in the middle of my lounge. Hmmmmm….. anyone got an hour or five to spare this afternoon?

I have also been three weeks without a washing machine. The machine itself was fine, but the catch on the door was broken, necessitating a new door, and I simply couldn’t get to the spare parts shop in order to order one. So I’ve been lugging the minimum load of washing possible round to Dad’s to do (and simply stockpiling the rest – amazing how it’s reduced the ironing pile!). Yesterday I finally had chance for a leisurely trip to Ryde, so I took out my new screwdrivers and began to remove the door. The little broken bit of catch fell out as soon as I undid the first screw, and I realised it wasn’t actually broken, just dislodged. I put it back in place, fastened the screw and…. tada!…… washing-machine-repair-woman strikes again! Oh the sweet sound of washing whirring in the tub 😀 😀 😀

My sister goes today, with the anticipation of course of returning in a couple of weeks’ time. Strange to say goodbye to her – I so want her to stay but know that it’s not feasible. I won’t be thinking of it for long, though, as I have to go with Dad to Carisbrooke Priory because his usual companion is unable to go today. I must find a way to change my feelings about it from resentment at losing a precious day to myself sorting out my new wardrobes to a feeling of pleasure at sharing with Dad a special day which I know he’ll enjoy. Hmm.. can I feel both, please?

back again

Banana body wash, cherry shampoo, strawberry body cream – I ought to smell good enough to eat, but as it is I just feel like a Knickerbocker Glory without the icecream.

I’m sorry I’ve not been around for a while. Well, I have been around, just not really blogging. I didn’t want this to be come a “woe-is-me-a-blog” but things were getting a bit hectic, what with Dad’s illness, preparing for today’s operation, dealing with the boys’ emotional (and consequent behavioural) difficulties, school and a series of domestic disasters. Oh, and making all the late-night visits and decisions about which schools the Smudgelets should go to next year. Thank heavens for the lovely counsellor from MacMillan who recommended I go to the doctor and get signed off. Mind you, the doctor informed me I seemed remarkably “together” and not stressed or depressed at all. He saw me on a good day!!!! 😀

So here I am at home.

Those of you who read the ship will see that Dad’s operation has been deferred to the end of the month. It’s currently a sense of anti-climax, mingled with a frustrated anger because it’s nobody’s fault (it’s deferred because there are more urgent demands on the imaging equipment they need) and disappointment and a sense of losing control because they’ve said that there’s no guarantee the op will take place on the new date either.

We’re focussing on finding silver linings. Tiddles had wanted to find chance to spend some quality time with his grandad before the operation and we’d been finding that difficult to arrange, what with homework etc. But now he’ll get chance; Dad’s visits to the Hospice have started him drawing again and even getting interested enough to look for his paint brushes; my honorary uncle was thwarted last week in his attempt to bring Dad’s situation to their church’s fortnightly prayer meeting because the meeting was brought forward an hour and he didn’t realise – so now he’s got chance to take it to the next one; and Dad’s off to the Hospice today and my sister and I are getting a precious day together to…… well, what should we do? Lay the carpet in the bathroom? Clean Dad’s house through? or……….. go shopping and drinking coffee??? I wonder which it will be 😀 😀 😀