Monthly Archives: March 2006

Testing times

It feels as though I am being tested to breaking point at the moment. I will not crack, though… God won’t let me crack.

My nice easy night has just gone for a burton. Lovely expression, that! I was planning to get Dad off to bed early (him being worn out from the hospice and still feeling really quite poorly) and then crawl into my bed myself. I felt the need to curl up and pull the duvet over my head. To say nothing of needing to rest my body which has finally started to tell me about the battle I had holding my baby tight last night so that he wouldn’t hurt himself or me.

It’s been a day which has really quite battered me one way or another, though the hospice were quite wonderful about Dad’s sickness (changes in medication and full investigations into the cause). I got the bill for the windscreen wiper motor for my car – £278!!!! And nothing to see for it, of course, as is always the way with cars. I must admit I felt quite physically sick myself when I got the bill.

The this afternoon the very nice window and door man arrived to measure up and give me a quote for a new door. It has to be a complete door, and the side windows to match, because the old door is basically losing its grip on life as well as not conforming to building regulations one little bit. I knew that. So Mr nice window and door man did his bit with tape measure and calculator and then told me to sit down and take a deep breath. Just short of £1000 !!! He was very nice, no hard sell at all, recommended I get other quotes and recommended a company that does very low interest loans for home improvements, and left me to think about it and get back in touch if I wanted to go ahead. £1000! I have shown Tiddles the estimate, just to make a point. Turns out they’ve been helping themselves to my money for quite a while. Looks like it will all backfire on them now as I think our annual holiday may have to be sacrificed to make a point. But I am reeling at the cost. I’ll find the money, and as I said, the cost of repair is only because I am fortunate enough to run a car and have a home. But I still feel shellshocked.

And now Dad has had a sort of collapse and I’m sitting here waiting for the doctor to ring instead of snuggling down under my duvet. It’ll be in the next two hours, they tell me. Well, it’s 10pm now… who wants to go to bed before midnight anyway?

I was supposed to be preaching on Sunday morning but have today rung my mentor and asked if she can do the service in my place. I haven’t given a thought to the planning yet. It’s a dilemma. It’s only fair, if I am not going to be able to do it, that I give my replacement as much warning as possible rather than dropping it on her at the last minute. And yet I feel wrong somehow. When I started this Local Preacher training, I was well aware of God telling me to trust him to find the time for me to do it properly. So by handing it over to another it feels as though I am failing to trust. Maybe if I had held on to it, then it would have come together by Sunday. Or is it that God is maintaining his part of the bargain by providing me with someone who I can ask without reservation to help me out at a difficult time. Hard to tell… but at the moment I feel as though falling back on my friends and on God is the only option and letting myself be carried through the tough time so that I can give back when things are easier.

Praise God for a good friend who sent me a text just as I was feeling at my lowest ebb and offered to come round (I was sadly too tired) and to loan me the money and to give me a shoulder to offload onto. That offer was worth more than a million pounds to me.


A conversation overheard.

Lord, give me a break. Please give me a break.

Why, my child. How many do you need?
Why will you have such a large bill for your car repairs when money is rather tight this month?
Well, might it be because you earn enough to have a car when so many in the world have to walk?

Why do you need a new door to replace the one where Tiddles has smashed the glass?
Why, could it be because you have a safe, warm home to live in when many are sleeping on the streets?

Why is your back aching?
Could that be because you are generally so well that the small aches and pains are noticeable. And could it be because you have such an excess of available food to eat that you overindulge and have given yourself too much weight to carry?

Why did Tiddles have a tantrum?
Could that be because you are blessed with two gorgeous children who hate it when you are cross with them and who feel secure enough in your love for them to let their pent-up anger out in your presence?

Why is it so hard watching your Dad suffer and caring for him?
My child, is that not because I have placed you in a family which cares for one another and because your father is someone you love deeply and who loves you? Would you rather be alone?

Why do you feel so alone sometimes?
Have you not looked around you and seen just how many friends and good family members you have who are there for you all the time? Am I not always with you? Don’t you feel me at work in your life?

Why is life so hard sometimes?
Oh my child, do you think I don’t know it’s hard? Do you think I don’t weep for you when you feel low and rejoice with you when you smile? Why do you think I sent my son?

Thank you, Father, for always being there for me and for the incredible richness of my life. Thank you for the beauty of the place I live, for the sanctuary of a country which is relatively safe and where I am free to follow my own faith and dreams, for a wonderful family and supportive friends, for the fact I don’t have to boil my water or carry it for miles from the nearest stream, that I don’t have to forage for food and I recieve (for all my moans) a fair pay for the work I do, that I have exceeded the life expectancy for many parts of the world, and that no matter where I go or what I do, you are always there beside me.

Training walk

I reckon the RAC website must be lying. It must have been more than 3.2 miles. That means I’m going to walking that distance four times – good grief! Still, it felt good to be walking the 3.2 miles home from going with Dad to the hospice. I planned to catch the bus but decided that, since I had gained an hour or two off school (and since I was going to need every penny for my new windscreen wiper motor and my new door) then it would be a good opportunity to see how far I could walk without getting out of breath. I had my pedometer on too, although it either reset itself when I dropped it or, and of course I go with this latter option, it went completely round the clock and started again from 0 as according to that I only managed two paces!

How kind of God to keep me cool on my walk and stop me overheating. The gentle rain was actually quite pleasant – though I must say it wasn’t really pleasant enough to warrent the downpour that dogged the last mile of my walk! And by that time I was really really regretting having had a cup of coffee at the hospice before I set out. I mean, walking with your legs crossed isn’t easy… running with them crossed is all but impossible!

The hospice nurses agree, naturally, with the Macmillan nurse so Dad will probably not be having a syringe driver fitted today but instead they’ll be doing some tests to see if they can get to the bottom of the causes for the nausea. If it’s a spread of the cancer then, to be honest, we’d rather not know at this stage but it could well be something easily treatable. It’s quite a relief to have that decision taken off my shoulders for a while, although I hate being the custard cream squished between the two biscuits of the hospice and the GPs! Dad looked so pathetic when I left him at the hospice today – small and pale and lost – and he didn’t want me to leave him. At least I know he’s in the best place and can make the most of being at home alone today.

Ian, I can’t believe your friends visited the Isle of Wight and didn’t wave. Mind you, it’s a long way from Australia to here just for the weekend! Why didn’t you come with them?


Tug of war between Macmillan Nurse and Doctor.

We half expected Dad to go into hospital today to try and sort out the sickness and test for anaemia and dehydration, but when the doctor came he was looking a fair bit better and managing to hold some liquids down so the decision was made that he should stay in bed tonight and see whether he was fit to go to day care at the hospice tomorrow.

It’s decision time, actually. The doctor and district nurse want to fit dad with a syringe driver in his chest to administer a constant stream of anti-nausea drugs. The macmillan nurse feels we should hold off with this until they’ve ascertained that it isn’t something easily treatable which is causing the sickness. All I know is that this constant nausea and retching and fear of eating and drinking is dragging dad down and significantly reducing his quality of life at the moment, and at a time when he was actually feeling a bit stronger too. Dad wants me to make the decision – not sure that I particularly want to! One good thing about a syringe driver is that it would mean the district nurse visiting him every morning while I was at school, just to check it was ok and to fill it with more drugs, so I would know he was having someone go round every morning. That in itself would be a real bonus. And it’s fairly clear that sooner or later he’s going to need to have his drugs administered by syringe. But does he want that any sooner than he needs it? Goodness only knows. I think I’ll have to sleep on this one.

This is one of the occasions where it would be nice to have a significant other to hold me tight and help me not think about it for a while, and to be there to discuss it all with in the morning.

In other news, the driver motor on my windscreen wipers is burnt out. There goes another £200!


Chas, the child’s fist survived the encounter with the door far better than the door did. I was reassured to know that, if the injury were bad, then at least the emergency doctor was on his way. But it was just a few minor cuts. I think the damage to his eardrums was greater! 😉

Home sweet home

I can’t go to work.
The car won’t mend.
The doctor’s coming out to dad.
I need to get my front door replaced.

I can’t go to work because today’s the start of my new timetable where I come home for an hour and a half late morning and then go back for 1:30. The car is off the road as the wipers refuse to work and it’s raining – I can’t even take it to the garage yet. I can’t afford taxi fares to and from school twice in one day as it would amount to all-but as much as I earn for the day and by this time I’d already have missed teaching two lessons out of the four. And if the doctor’s coming to dad, then I need to be there. They were going to phone me at school to let me know when they were coming and I was going to dash home, but without a car it’s impossible.

So put the kettle on, Smudgie, get the washing machine in gear, ring the door people and the garage and let’s make the most of my day without pay.

A taste of heaven

Did I tell you about my spa break?

Well, close your eyes a moment and imagine heaven. OK, you can open your eyes now. I said, YOU CAN OPEN YOUR EYES NOW!

It was interesting to find that I felt quite different once I had left the Island and deposited the Smudgelets with a very brave and generous Ferijen who was going to entertain them for the day before delivering them to my sister. Almost immediately it felt as though I had lost weight, as though I was sitting a little higher in my seat, as though the sky was just that tiny bit brighter. Not that I don’t love them, and Dad too, I hasten to add, and not that I didn’t miss all three of them like crazy, and still not that I begrudge or even don’t relish the responsibility of caring for them all. But to suddenly find myself footloose and fancy free, so to speak, was a marvellous feeling and I sang all the way to Leicestershire. But even this was no preparation for the flood of lightness that I experienced on arrival.

I have to say that from the moment I walked along the wooden walkway, over trickling pools and fountains, through the door of the spa resort it was as though I had been plucked from one life into one of total contrast. Everything was pristine (see what I mean? total contrast!) and perfect and I was pampered from the moment I walked through the automatic door and someone seized my suitcase and said “Let me take care of that”! I checked in and then went on the guided tour of the facilities before abandoning the clothing of the outside world, donning the snuggly warm towelling robe over my swimming costume and the silky soft slippers I had bought for the occasion, and just melting into the whole experience. There was one moment when it seemed a little surreal and I had visions of myself being brainwashed and subsumed into this cult where everyone wears white robes and lounges around until called one by one to the “massage room” for extermination…. but then I realised that even if that were the case, it was a rather pleasant way to go! 😀

The pool was beautiful, crystal clear and so warm that it was like stepping into a bath, though cool enough to make swimming a pleasure. And between swims I could luxuriate in the whirlpool, the sauna, the steam room or the sun loungers by the side of the pool. It was just like that fantastic childhood memory of the feeling of stepping out of the bath into a huge towel that had been warmed by the fire and snuggled up in there by a loving mummy, that cosy pampered safe feeling. And to go from there to the lounge and simply laze in a giant leather sofa – one sofa per person – one that reached out and welcomed you in and lulled you into a totally relaxed state, half reading, half snoozing, half dreaming.

My room was simply amazing. Huge and beautifully decorated and furnished. It was an absolute dream – took my breath away for a moment as I walked in and the porter gave me a guided tour! There was a huge window with a balcony overlooking a natural-effect lake with hundreds of water birds, and looking out over undulating fields. The bed was so immense that I almost felt lost in it and it occured to me that I could sleep a snoring Tiddles and a wriggling Smudgelet in there either side of me and not even be aware they were there. In fact, if I had smuggled in all those “little ones” who were looking for a place in my suitcase, there’d have been plenty of room!

I was determined to make the most of the facilities and classes. I used the gym. Five minutes worth must have had some impact on my general level of fitness, surely? As must the five minute bike ride I completed in the grounds before deciding it was far too windy and far too much like hard work. But I did do two complete water classes. One was the aquafit that everyone was moaning about being scheduled before breakfast. I smiled slyly to myself. To tumble out of bed, slip on my cossy and make my way to the pool at 7am was real luxury for me, after months of getting up before 6 and getting straight into the fray! The aquafit was good, but the aquajog was brilliant. That was later in the day, a new experience, wearing strange belts around the waist that kept you afloat but upright in the water. In this suspended-animation, you were to jog through the water, feet not actually touching the ground so more like cycling in a way. Each length of the pool was done in a different manner, each one ever so slightly harder work than the last (amazing that it could get any harder than the first method we used!), and we wore webbed mitts on our hands too, to increase the water resistance. Boy, was it hard work! I think the worst was when she got us to jog across the pool holding a float upright in front of us! Or was it when she got us to tow a partner across the pool, with them just holding on to the back of our belts. It was a good workout for all of our muscles, especially the ones you use when you laugh!

The meals were amazing. If they were laid out for me like that, with such a selection of foods so lovingly and painstakingly prepared, I swear I would eat far far more healthily. I think the best was the breakfast – a massive array of cereals, fresh fruit, “real” yogurts, breads, freshly squeezed juices, all of which you could feast on to your heart’s content. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day anyway, the meal which I enjoy thoroughly and could not do without, and this was my idea of heaven. I may have eaten healthily but I must have gained some weight! Then the evening meal of caesar salad followed by seabass in lemon sauce followed by apple strudel was amazing (apart from the fish bone incident which I could hardly believe was happening)… in fact, it was so well prepared that I even found myself eating and enjoying spinach. Spinach! I ask you!

And what about the massage? Well, apart from feeling a little silly, lying there for the facial with cotton wool pads on my eyes and mud on my face, and apart from a slight allergic reaction to the eye stuff which made me look like a red-eyed panda for a little while, it was absolute bliss. The therapist commented how knotted my neck and shoulders were – I’d have been surprised if they weren’t! But I’ll tell you something, by the end of the massage they were so loose that they could well have fallen off and I wouldn’t have noticed. Her opinion was that I should have a neck and shoulder massage at least once a month to stave off future back problems caused by stress. I said that it would be rather nice to treat myself to a monthly pampering and she tutted. It’s not pampering, it’s not a treat, it’s not a luxury – view it as a prescription and a necessity for the good of your health, find yourself a good therapist and invest in your future health. Yes ma’am. 😀

Looking back, it seems all like a bit of a dream.

To top it all…

Mr RAC man is currently under the bonnet of my car in the rain, trying to get my windscreen wipers to work so that I can drive to school. It being Tuesday I am, of course, missing my favourite class. Typical. iI should get there just in time to take my Year Five group…alas. Where is the valium and the nose plug? (They’re a rather.. er… aromatic little group!)

Good job I had my spa break – I’m still managing to keep incredibly calm and patient. Was it the spa break, or was it the prayer I prayed for patience at the last service I did? Whichever – and to be honest, God’s got to be at the centre of it whichever it is – I am so greatful for this deeper sense of peace I’m feeling just lately, even when real life is doing its bit to break it down.

Real life with a vengeance

How’s this for real life.

8pm, standing in the porch watching for the emergency doctor for my vomitting father while trying to board up the front door which has just been smashed by the fist of tantrumming son, to the sound of the terrified tears of two repentant children who have been caught out stealing from my purse and lying about it, and trying frantically to prevent the inquisitive cat from walking on the broken glass.

A good excuse to get a new door.

And what’s more…

1) Brief Encounter, Goodnight Mr Tom, Pride and Prejudice,

2) Can’t really answer this one

3) 5 and 2

4) Mastermind

5) Roast lamb dinner with roast potatoes, carrots cut in circles, mint sauce and no gravy

6) 4th october, 19th May, 25th February

7) nowhere

8) Spring

9) undecided about this.