Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Aunty Magic

I’m a Granty I squeal as I ring Mr H with the news

Oh my goodness that was quick, email me a photo

I was having a lie in but the news means I spring - I wish - rather I yank on my bed stick and clamber slowly out of bed…

I ring my sister, now a Nana, who was at the birth with the Daddy…and of course my now Mommy niece!

I am blessed I tell friends later that day on the phone, my nieces and nephew are my world. Mr H gives an attention seeking ‘what about me’ cough in the background!

Being an aunty is like being in Cadbury World and eating all the chocolate I want…The best scrummy, yummy thing!

When they were little I let them eat pizza for breakfast, stay up a bit later than Mummy and Daddy allowed, let them sit in the washing basket and roll around the garden…



I then handed them back to their parents to undo the damage I had done breaking all their rules…

They come and stay as they revise for exams, ring me if they need guidance, help and support…

As they grow older I take them to the theatre, on trips to London, spoil them in the shops buying clothes that their Mom and Dad said were too expensive. We take mini breaks together and call ourselves ‘Girls on Tour’…

I tell anyone who will listen about my special ‘boy and girls’

Now, this sharing of time and love shines through in their grins and hugs when they visit, or come and collect me; in cards and letters they send, texts and calls they make. They walk slowly when they are with me, help me in and out of the car and carry my bags. They understand epilepsy and how to look after me if they need to…

I am the luckiest aunty alive.

When I talk to Liz my choir leader we share our aunty experiences. Liz had a magical aunty who sadly recently passed on to aunty heaven.

Its Aunty Magic Liz says


So now I am Granty Dawn I can sprinkle more aunty magic…


Aunty
A person who can give hugs like a mother
Keep secrets like a sister
and share love like a friend

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Empty Wheelchairs...

I sit back down in the grey airport wheelchair and stuff my feet back into my converse. 

Sorry about that says the young man who is pushing me through into departures but no one escapes the shoe scan.

He helps me out onto a blue seat with a wheelchair picture printed onto the fabric. 

Thank you 

Mr H slips him a tip then wanders away to find the toilets. I pull my belt back through the loops of my jeans, push up my sleeves and wipe my forehead, it feels like its 29 degrees inside as well as out there in the Caribbean sunshine...

A few seconds later...

Bing Bong final call for passengers flying on TOM815 to Birmingham please make your way to Gate 4

That's us I call out as I frantically fasten my belt and grab my bag. Mr H returns and we ask where the wheelchairs are to take people with disabilities to the ambulift.

The lady responsible for getting the disabled onto the aeroplane tells us they haven't got any available...

But if you walk over there and out of the door the Ambulift is waiting she points. So a snake of crutches, sticks and mobility scooters weaves its way towards the pointed door. As we go out into the sunshine we spot thirty or more empty wheelchairs silently sitting. Waiting to be used...

One by one, like suntanned canaries in a cage, we are lifted on a yellow metal platform into the tin box ambulift. Mr H says to the Barbadian gents assisting us These people should be on the plane before the other passengers, little chance of that now. Again! 

Image result for image of airport ambulift


I am fed up that the disabled are always last on the plane here in Barbados. There is a fifty dollar tip if you can get us all onto the aeroplane before the other passengers. A look of shock passes over the young mens faces, then they giggle as they whisper to each other. The process of loading us speeds up...

We trundle along the road by the side of the aircraft lined up, ready to fly. We watch anxiously as lines of buses fill with passengers about to head to our aircraft which is waiting on the tarmac. 

Get your foot down Mr H shouts as he waves the fifty dollar bill at the driver. 



We are all laughing and giggling as we clutch our sweaty fists. We must be doing the speed of light now Mr H laughs as the ambulift snails it's way towards the first aeroplane. 

We pass it. 

Not ours. 

We stop at the third. Reverse up to the side door. The ambulift mechanisms creak as like birds we are lifted into the air. The giggles of anticipation get louder. The gents knock on the cabin door. 

It is opened immediately. It's a miracle I shout!

Mr H calls to the air hostess is the plane empty, are we the first passengers.

Yes she grins.

We all cheer...

Mr H stands back to let the crutch and stick brigade clamber across the metal bridge to enter the aircraft. Then with a huge grin he hands over the fifty dollars...

That's a first I say to the blue hatted air hostess as she directs me to my seat. We have never made it onto the plane before the able bodied at this airport. Just proves that money talks...


Time to Relax...

Friday, December 23, 2016

Look into your heart...

I can't wait for Boxing Day I say to a friend when she asks me if I am looking forward to Christmas. Don't get me wrong I add, I love going to church on Christmas morning to sing carols and see friends i have met on my Brain Tumour journey.

I love seeing the grins when I give gifts to my family on Christmas Day. I love giggling as we share jokes. I love sitting around a table eating far too much food; then using up our spare coppers to play our Christmas card game... 

But this year  I don't have the energy to decorate the house with tinsel and trimmings. Can't be bothered really. All that bending and twisting exhausts me. 

When Mr H comes home from work I tell him to close his eyes  

Two seconds later I tell him to open them

Tada...The Christmas tree is up I grin...



We giggle at the £2.49 childish, tacky tree which brings Christmas into our home.

In the shops  I feel like a pressure cooker with a bobbing lid. Sweat drips off my forehead as I am knocked sideways by present clasping grey haired ladies and pram pushing mummies.

In Tesco I spot two young lads handing out leaflets to people as they clamber onto the escalator to buy more food. They give me their scouts grin as they tell me, we are collecting food for the food bank today.

When we leave the shop Mr H and I push our trolley over to the charity collection point and wait as a lady in front almost completely empties her trolley bursting with tins onto the table. A joyous tingle runs up my spine as we then add our tins, jars of coffee and tea bags to the magically growing collection. It's food for people who don't have enough money to buy even the basics.

At home I hum to myself as I stir cake mixture and roll icing to create cupcake gifts for some of my friends. When I give them they are met with wide smiles and gasps that I have made cakes for them. 

I make more for the staff and volunteers in the Green Community Travel Charity. Their help means I can get out to my exercise classes and to meet friends when Mr H is at work...



When I walk into their office for the first time I am met with smiles and Santa hats. These happy people work or freely give their time to help people like me.  I hand the cakes to Jenny the office manager with a request. Please save one for Richard my friendly Friday morning driver who takes me to choir every week....

My friends please remember this for Christmas...


 I wish all my friends and blog readers a Peaceful Christmas and a Healthy 2017

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

My two pink bundles

Chatter, chatter, chatter...

Like a typewriter clacking on sheet after sheet of paper

my mind writes its own script for a play I want no part in

I pick up a pen, press it between my thumb and middle fingers, watch as it slots into place in my hand and black ink flows like blood from my blue and silver pen...

I looked at you when I opened my eyes and gave my first cry. I don't remember seeing you,  but you were there, two pink bundles of skin, bones and the teeniest nails. You helped me to eat, clutch my mommy's fingers, gave me something to chew on when my first teeth broke through. 

Now as I glance down I see years of hard work etched into the creases from hand washing and caring. You helped me through exam after exam scribbling on paper for hour after hour. You are always there for me...

So in 2008 when I wake up after my second brain operation to see my left fingers curled up like a claw. My arm coiled like a spring up to my chest. I lift you with my right hand and gently place you on a pillow on my bed. I ease each finger out and lie them flat. I whisper I will take care of you now. 

Like a baby I teach each finger how to hold a spoon so that I can feed myself cereal while steadying the bowl with my working right hand.  We progress to holding a flannel and reach up with the help of a nurse, to wipe my swollen face. I grin as we lift the items off my bedside table one by one, laugh when the nurse asks why so my left hand can put them all back again I tell her. I work you hard, we work together to get you moving again. Gripping a zimmer frame was our biggest challenge when I was re-learning to walk. But together we did it. Together my hands and I can overcome anything.



So today as words do a merry go round in my mind I once again turn to you, my precious hands. With all your wrinkles, dry skin and nails I am trying not to nibble; you help me to write out my thoughts. And my mind slows as unhelpful words float by on a cloud...



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Rolling waves

I can’t believe we are here I say to Mr H with a grin. A whole week, we won’t need to use the car.



We stroll hand in hand along the narrow, cottage filled lane to the sea front. I stop as Mr H clicks his camera to capture my ever widening smile. 






I breathe in slowly as I fill my lungs with the salty air. My shoulders drop as the ozone fills my nose. I stare and listen to the swooshing tide as it spreads onto the beach before being pulled back into the sea, washing away some of my anxiety. The sky may be grey but my heart is full of sunshine.



I hope that this break will settle my head. Stop the electrical storms which have kept me at home, too scared to go out on my own.

This change in behaviour started a few weeks ago…

In Tesco I shout out Whooooh as a huge wave crashes through my head knocking me sideways. I stumble and grab a tin filled shelf.

Can I help a lady asks, so I send her into the next aisle to find my Peri Peri sauce hunting husband. I breathe a sigh of relief when he rounds the corner. I slide myself down onto the floor. Tesco staff come to help. First aider arrives. They bring a wheelchair and take me out while Mr H pays.

A one off. I hope.

Then last Saturday it happens again…

I am alone, walking past Boots in the mall and Whoooh breaks through my lips. I lurch to the side. A man standing there sees, looks, then walks away. I try to walk again but the waves stop me and I slide myself once more to the floor. My legs cannot hold me up. I need to sit I whisper to no one.

I call out to two ladies can you help me please?

Epilepsy.

They stay with me and I book a Taxi home, quicker than ringing Mr H. When I can stand, these lovely hen party planners walk with me and wait until it arrives.

Two days later I step out of the front door, wrapped up to guard me from the autumnal breeze.  I pass cottages, the club house, but by the bungalows a wave crashes inside my head. I wobble against someone’s dry stone wall. I lower myself down at the bottom of their drive. Almost in the lane. But not quite. Please stop someone I whisper to myself as cars pass by…

Eight years ago, when I was alone in my hospital room, unable to walk after my surgery I promised myself this…


A whole week in a cottage by the sea.

I am living my dream of an epilepsy calming, ozone smelling, seagull crying, bird watching, fossil hunting, chip eating week.


I am not afraid of storms for
I am learning to sail my ship
Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In a hole

Sue and I grin as we arrive at Mesmerize Me in Birmingham

This is it she says, Excited?

I  have been treated to a make over day with my friend, Sue's sister Jacquie bought it for her for Christmas  and told her: go with Dawn you will have a great time

Our pale, make up free faces stand out against the black sofa we are asked to sit on as we sip a cup of coffee.  Phase one Selfie Sue says as we grin into her camera...

We glance at the forms we need to fill in.

Mmmm which feature do you want enhanced in the photos I mutter as I glance at Sue, dimples for me, eyes maybe, for you she suggests

Which feature do you most want to disguise...wrinkles we giggle 

But I bow my head and instead scribble I don't want to look disabled. 

Upstairs our faces are transformed from pasty pale to palettes of colour. Our eyes and cheeks are defined as the beauticians apply more make up than I have ever worn!  We use theatrical make up they tell us, you will need it in the bright studio. They tease our hair into bouffant styles. Very Mary Quant I say to Sue when her rollers come out!

Back on the sofa we take phase two photos...


When it is our turn we wheel our suitcases into the studio. Lets look at your outfits first Laura the bubbly photographer suggests with her camera hanging around her neck...

She asks me what my limitations are...

Try me with everythingI don't want my stick to get a peep at your camera lens I mutter as I abandon it in the corner of the room.

She suggests we sit on the floor and clicks away as we pose, first on our front, after waiting for my left leg and foot to register what I want it to do. We laugh as I try to hang onto the position long enough for a good shot...



You look fantastic she smiles as we kneel...


Do you think you can get into this hole next Laura asks me with a grin.

I'll give anything a go...

I hoist my bum into position. 

Now slide down, let the curve do the work she tells me as Sue watches, her grin getting wider with each shuffle..

Oh my goodness thats amazing they both say as the camera clicks...


Not a disability in sight...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Time to ask the right questiions

When I was young the last thing on my mind was to sit down with my parents, aunties, Grandparents and ask them to tell me about their lives.  In my late teens I often stayed with my Nan on my time off from nursing and we giggled our way through the days. Grandad and I had our love of books, birdwatching and nature to keep us talking for hours over a cup of tea in a china tea cup.

We would walk to the shops or library together like the best of pals. Me on the inside of the pavement as he protected me from the road, his brown shopping bag swinging on his arm. But I never once asked him or Nan about the Adult School. 

It was their homes I took myself to when I lay in my hospital bed in 2008, distressed in the darkness, unable to move. I walked my memory through each room recalling the chairs - chairs I now sit on at home, the glass clown by the fire at Nans, the bird paintings at Grandads - paintings which now hang on my walls. I rarely got upstairs as I was always asleep before I reached the bottom rung of the stairs.

Last year it was my late Grandad who silently took me by the hand and led me into the Adult School research I am currently doing. He wanted the story to be told. He wanted me to tell the story.

The interviews I am undertaking with many silver  haired ladies and gents make my heart sing out as I see their smiles, their joy in sharing happy memories with someone who is interested in what they have to say. But in my quest for stories, all too frequently I hear:

I wish I had asked my Mum...

I wish we had sat down and talked....


If only I had taken an interest...


So when I sit shoulder to shoulder with my Mum in The Archives and Heritage Dept of the Birmingham Library; we discover letters to and from my Grandad, minutes of meetings written by my great Grandad; notes about my aunt and uncle. 

I smile when Mum excitedly gasps your Dads name is here I didn't know he was on St Oswalds Camp committee. We find letters, brochures and photos some featuring people I have never known, others were uncles and aunts, Grandads and Grandmas who I never thought to ask...



My brain tumour gave me the gift of Time

Time to ask the right questions of octogenarians who want to tell their stories...

The Midland Adult School Youth Committee 1944 - including my Uncle in the backrow
Photograph courtesy of The Midland Adult School Uncatalogued Archives held in Birmingham Library Archives and Heritage. Photographer unknown

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Feel the buzz

On November 17th 2008 I pulled on my Ronhill tracksters, slid my feet into my blue and white running shoes and jogged away from the house.  My last run...

When my brain tumour stole my running and walking legs Mr H refused to go back out running.

I can't he would say, it is not the same without you






But eventually I manage to push him out of the door with a smile. I know running is good for him and I happily stand cheering when Mr H achieves his goals of a 10K and half marathon






I walk my slow hobbly walk around the village and learn to swim...

But over the last year I feel as though I have reached a walking red light. While everyone around me is running... I watch running groups pass the window,  listen to friends and family talking about their couch to 5K training, chat on the phone with friends doing the Race for Life. For Me!

But my running legs are screaming to get moving, they want a challenge, I want to exercise with people.. I want to feel the buzz

I can't walk 5K let alone run I tell the Race for Life organisers as I ask them to consider doing something for people such as me with disabilities due to the cancer...

We will look into it they tell me. But then it all goes quiet...

My friend Chris suggests I try aquafit at our local Gym so I find a group  leader with a sensitive approach to the fact that I have to do my wobbly, slow version of most of her exercises. I find myself grinning and humming the words as I lift my leg to the music while hanging onto the side of the pool.

In my search for more alternatives I discover a circuit training class for people with Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinsons disease. I am welcomed into the arms of this laughter filled hard working group. Vicky the leader is as bubbly as the best champagne and ensures each exercise is tailored to each members ability.. 

We are going to work you hard she tells me with a grin. 

It feels like I am back in the neurology physiotherapy gym I say when she insists I try to lift my left leg rather than swing it to the side...I am back on the balancing board, stepping slowly up and down off a step, using a resistance band to work my arms and legs so hard they shake...

Its back to exercise basics and I am feeling the buzz....


Life is not always about trying to fix something that's broken
Sometimes it is about starting over and creating something better
thatonerule.com


Thursday, May 12, 2016

A rare find

Oh my goodness I don't believe it, I don't believe it, I say as I look around to see if anyone is watching...

I stroke the orange and cream cover. Gently touch the front, run my fingers across the title and name. I check the date, yes 1814 I mutter to myself, Thomas Pole...

Last week a black cloud had settled over my happiness. Each morning when I woke, happiness sat in my shoes ready to be stamped on with each step I took. Too many seizures. Too many falls.

On Sunday over our cereal bowls Mr H announces you need a day out, a change of scenery, I am taking you to Hay on Wye. On our way we spot a red kite soaring above. I watch its forked tail wavering with the wind and my happiness floats out of my shoes. When we leave the car we mutter uselessly only two books each...

In the cinema book shop, always our first stop, I search for books linked to the research I am now undertaking on the Midland Adult School. I run my finger across the index board on the wall; education and religion this way. I cling to the handrail down four rickety wooden steps and pass two rows of wooden, magically musty book shelves; I find education first. 

As I smile at shelf after shelf of colourful books my breathing slows and my shoulders sink. I dangle my walking stick from my arm as I move along the rows and rows of books. I stop with a doubled heart beat when I spot the words Adult Education! I lift the first book from the shelf .... It belonged to someone called Colin Woods, all the books I slide from their home bear his hand written name. I wonder what he was studying as I start my purchase pile on the floor...


Mr H with his arms full of books, comes to find me. Anything? he asks

I nod grinning at the pile on the floor; look at the orange and cream one; I cant believe it. It's a copy of Thomas Poles' original paper on the first Adult Schools which he established in Bristol!

On the drive home the sun shouts its golden glory as it lights up the green Welsh mountains. I grin at the thought of getting my nine well thumbed books safely home to read.