Thursday, August 6, 2015

Where there's a will there is a way

On the TV programme Gardeners World this week, a lady, with numerous disabilities including blindness shared the joy of touching and smelling a tomato plant in her garden. As she inched her away among the plants stooped low over her stroller she told the viewers...You can tell if a tomato is ripe by touch, if it is hard it's not ripe, slightly soft and it is ready to pick...I am always tasting!



Her delight in the plants shone like the morning sun rising in the sky as she shared her garden with the viewers. It is my only private space she declared, people can only come in if I invite them. I have found that with all my difficulties I need to think tangentially she said 

Tangentially! A new word for me so I looked it up...well to be truthful I leaned across and asked Mr H, my ever present dictionary...be creative, think laterally he says. 

And my mind wanders back to my nurse training... I am working on an elderly care rehabilitation ward where laughter rings out all day as we help the patients get back onto their feet or find new ways to cope after fractured hips. The words of one such lady have stayed with me throughout my life...

Where there's a will there's a way she would say as she struggled to get up from her chair.

So I reflect on my life and my tangential approaches as I meet each day with a smile - well almost every day...! .

I now have rules: 
  • Every day is a best dress day - nothing lies unworn
  • When I feel well I say it out loud. Today I feel great. Today I am well.
  • I am kind to myself when I am energyless. I watch a DVD or read a book instead of beating myself over the head with a stick for being tired!
  • I only organise one thing a day. A visit from a friend blocks a day in my diary
  • I always use my Energometer to calculate whether I can do something extra or not
         Action + Time + Energy Needed
                  __________________                                      = Do, Delay or Don't Do

      Current Energy Reserves (Zero, Red, Amber, Green)


  • I have accepted that writing is my new career, it occupies my grey cells, keeps my fingers tapping and constantly brings new challenges. I no longer wish I was back nursing



  • I mediate or do a mindfulness activity most days, even if it is only watching a butterfly or my breath for a few minutes. It matters. It helps keep me calm.

  • And when my Gorgeous Sue comes down for the day, we snort and giggle as she tries to get me over a wall when faced with a locked, barbwired gate on a sunny short stroll...


 I may not be able to jump the hurdles in front of me 
but with the help of others I find the path (or wall)  around them...

Over and still in one piece! Just!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Love will see us through...

Before last December, less than a year ago,  I only sung in the house, or in church at weddings or carols at Christmas. But now singing is part of my life. 

I am in a choir I tell a friend when she asks what I am up to...

Wow I didn't know that  she says

I have always wanted to sing, always muttered about doing something about it but it took my recent Breast Cancer storm to push me through the door of one of  Liz Martin's amazing Choirs. 

Singing is like a medicine. A course of rehabilitation. A life line. I rarely stop grinning at choir unless I am wiping a tear from my eye,  moved by a song or words.

Last week as we sang Hold On. Love will see you through. tears ran down my cheeks as I struggled to gulp back a sob. 

My Mr H has held on, stuck with me. Our love for each other sees us through the roller coaster of our life. One day I will be able to sing Hold On without tears. Sometime. Some day.

On Sunday I joined in a day of singing to raise essential funds for Wotton Arts Centre, in St Kenelm a beautifully simple Georgian Church. Mr H took me and sat in the traditional pews to listen for the first time. The sound of our harmonious voices wafted around the terracotta walls and seeped into souls as we sang the day away

I had to look at the ceiling when we sang Hold On. One peek at Mr H's face and I would have been a sobbing, spluttering mess. He knew though that I sang the song to him.

Some of the songs made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck he said as we left.  I knew the choir would be good but not THAT good!


Music speaks what cannot be expressed
soothes the mind and gives it rest
heals the heart and makes it whole
flows from heaven to the soul

Why not make a cup of tea and enjoy listening to a recording of our concert in February...

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Life is beautiful

Last week a friend asked  if I ever get bored. 

Never! 

I am too busy living I said

Each morning as I wake I wrap my arms around myself and thank the Lord for I feel well. Really well, I am grinning with wellness. 


Yes I still trip when the slabs are uneven 
and often when they are not.
I  have to limit my drinks to six a day.
Be mindful to not let my energy dip too low
to let seizures take hold and
 cause an emotional crash...

But this summer I don't have to traipse to and from the oncology unit, have regular bloods taken, or avoid eating runny yolk eggs.

I welcome every second of this wellness, cramming as much in as my damaged body can deal with.

I am making the most of this pocket of time I tell my counsellor. I am at the top of the mountain and am camping here for as long as I can.  I am caring for me. 

This peace of mind has evaded me for so long as I have constantly searched for the old Dawn. Dawn the nurse. Dawn the leader. Dawn the walker and runner...

I have writing projects to keep my grey cells cranking. I can choose whether to commit the time. I had my first swimming lesson for nearly two years and have been encouraged to try Nordic walking at Penny Brohn Cancer Care. And once again I can potter at the allotment,

But quite often I am happy to just be. Grateful that I am here to enjoy this summer, my family, friends and life...


Just when the caterpillar 
thought the world was over,
It became a butterfly...






Friday, June 19, 2015

Things that go bump in the day...

In April I wrote about the Water of Life because I have been drinking enough water to fill a reservoir. The oncologists and nurses said water will flush out the toxins and help with fatigue. So as each wave of fatigue crashed into my day I drank another glass,

But as spring opened its doors the bite of fatigue got sharper each day.  After my shower I had to lie on the bed. Downstairs for breakfast, I felt dizzy as I emptied cereal into my bowl…

I feel awful, keep falling over and I am having seizures again  I tell my neurosurgeon when I see him in March for my 7th annual brain scan results.  

Well there is no change in your scan he says and the ventricles are the normal size so no sign of hydrocephalus either.

But at home when I try to hurry to reach the ringing phone, my feet end up in a knot and  I launch myself across the room like a cannon ball. My head breaks the fall as it smashes into a table…I sit up with a groan as blood trickles down my face and onto my arm…





After a three hour wheelchair wait in Accident and Emergency It is too late to stitch my head wound so I am pushed to a ward. Too ill to go home. 






The cause of my fatigue, wobbling Weeble-ness and falls is Hyponatraemia - a dangerously low sodium level in my blood. The cause of this low sodium is a side effect of one of my epilepsy drugs Eslicarbazepine (also occurs with Carbamazepine).  

My epilepsy consultant explains…by drinking a lot of water you have been making the (until now unknown to me) side effect much worse. 

I have over diluted the small amount of sodium still in my blood.  I am intoxicated with water!!

So now I have to count my cups of coffee, camomile tea and glasses of water. A total of 1500mls per day is all I can have.

After a couple of days of  one legged foot stamping tantrums and rants...the rewards of less water flow in…my Weeble-ness is less wobbly. I am hitting the floor less often and my seizures have stopped again - for now. 

So on holiday I hide the scar under my growing fringe and allow myself an extra Banaberry crush mocktail ...


Monday, June 1, 2015

Red

I want to buy you that heart Mr H says with a tinkle in his eye as he points to a crystal pendant in a shop window in the pretty streets of Stockholm Old Town




So with a giggling grin smeared across my face we step inside.





Mr H points it out to the Swedish lady. She fetches it from the window display and holds it out to me. But with only a glimpse I back away from the counter...shaking my head...unable to speak.

As waves of nausea crash inside my stomach I stutter I can't have it...

I swipe at the stream of unexpected tears as they drip onto my blouse. 

Concern is etched into Mr H eyes. 

Chemo is all I can say. 

Chemotherapy drug I gasp.

Red. 

Red in crystal. Looks like Red in plastic.

The lady immediately moves the pendant out of sight and gently puts her hand on my shoulder. I understand she kindly says, concern glowing in her eyes now too.

I never thought Mr H says as we leave the shop. 


Where did that come from I say, shaking my head. I thought I had locked that memory away forever.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

There is no Present like Time

Tick Tock, Tick Tock; whatever I do the hands on the clock still click Tick Tock as Time waves goodbye. 

With good health I squeezed as much do’ing as I could into every working day. Then at home I stuffed more into my spare time too.

How are you people would ask...Very busy, not a second to spare I would proudly reply… I could do with a few more hours was another and I just don’t know where the time goes was my favourite…

I woke up on a Monday and all of a sudden it was Friday. A whole week had passed and as hard as I tried I could not get it back!  But with my rumbling health my ability and desire to squeeze, cram and stuff things in has diminished. 

I often feel worthless. Have no value.  I have believed self value came from output and achievements at work and in play.

But when a friend visits, her face frowning with stress, I listen and listen and offer a cradle of support. As she leaves with a smile on her face a wave of self worth weaves its way into my grin 

I have Time which I can give freely to others.

I have ears which I can use to actively listen.

I have years of experience embedded in my brain which I can offer when my energy allows.

On my cancer journey I am taken to hospital appointments by volunteer drivers who give their Time for free. And friends think nothing of using their Time to drive many miles for us to share a day out.

The sun warms my heart when a friends offers her Time to collect me for a beauty appointment, while another picks me up and brings me home after a morning of singing my soul out!

There's no time like the present
No Present like Time
And life can be over in the space of a rhyme
There's no gift like friendship
And no love like mine
Give me your love to treasure through time


Georgia Byng - Molly Moons Time Travel Adventure


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Magic at the Marble Arch....

The Taxi door opens and like Willy Wonka I stumble, stick first, out onto the pavement. Our bags are whisked inside by a smart suited doorman. As we step through the door of the Montcalm Marble Arch Hotel we are greeted by Laura, our dedicated Guest Experience Manager. 

We are treating ourselves to a stay at this newly opened, elegant hotel hosting the UK Blog Awards so that when my fatigue digs its fangs in I can flop straight into bed.

The key adorned ticket invites us to enter the Awards evening via the red carpet at 7pm.

But when I take a peek, over 30 steps await the able bloggers. So back in the hotel, we pop out of the lift below the steps and cameras!







Inside the Wonderland of trees we are greeted by a giant green, grinning cat, toadstools and piles of tea pots, cups and saucers. A rainbow of alcoholic cocktails flow from waitresses trays. So we head to the bar to ask for our 'sparkling water champagne'.and get a closer view of the Cat!

As the buzz of bloggers chatting fills the tree lined ballroom, smiling, I ask a gent standing by my side 

Where’s Alice! Has anyone seen Alice?...








I chat to some fellow bloggers but my trembling, tired legs mean I have to take a seat in the auditorium before the other revellers come through the door. Mr H follows waitresses and brings us palm sized bowls of hot food.






With everyone seated in the sparkling pink room Gemma Pearce the founder of the UK Blog Awards opens the event. 







My heart is thumping when the host, Vlogger Andy Samuels, announces the ten short listed Individual health Blogs….

The silent drum rolls in my head when the two Highly Commended blogs appear on the screen...

I turn and grin at Mr H as he wraps his arms around me. And the Urban Kultur Blogger and his brother sitting by our side say well done Dawn.



As soon as the Awards are complete I wander to the front to thank the Health judges; Kath Evans, Head of Patient Experience in NHS England and Children's Nurse and  Dinh Tu, Social Media Consultant for Bupa. 

I am thrilled with my Highly Commended Award and as we swap tales of our nursing experience Kath tweets a selfie of us both…









All the standing and adrenaline have drained my energy tank so Mr H and I leave soon after, clutching our gorgeous goodie bag which have been filled by the sponsors 







Back in our room at the Magical Montcalm we sip camomile tea as I tweet and text my Award to the world of waiting family and friends...

I want to thank each and every one of you for reading my blogs and for voting and helping me reach the short list for these Awards.

THANK YOU!



Congratulations to 
Nic's Nutrition the amazing Winner of the Individual Health Blogs and to 
Ceri Jones also awarded Highly Commended for her Health Blog Natural Kitchen Adventures 
Evidently Cochrane for Winner of the Company/Organisation Health Blog Award

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Shake, rattle and roll...

This morning Mr H was up when the birds started twittering. Like a dormouse I slept on, curled up under the covers. I woke when my burring alarm got too hard to ignore to find Mr H standing like a sentry by the side of the bed,

it's 9 o clock you need to take your tablets...

My two doses of epilepsy tablets must be taken twelve hours apart. A long lie in is no longer an option. I could of course have my Sunday morning tablets by the side of the bed but once awake this dormouse needs food...

Before 2008 the only pills I popped into my mouth were paracetamol and brufen to keep the constant headaches (and nausea), which I ignored far too long, at arms length.

Now I take a purple and 2 white ones each morning and a handful at night. When a new pill needs adding, like Tamoxifen for my breast cancer, I slip into fret mode.

I hate taking these I grumble to Mr H.

He calmly reminds me they are my tools for living...

Sunday is my tablet morning, like any creature of habit I need routine.






And like a Girl Guide I like to be prepared.

 As I eat my breakfast I cover the table in boxes to sort my weeks supply. I pop all my drugs out of their packets into my weekly pill box. Then twice each day it only takes a second to tip my morning then evening allocation into my palm and swallow. My tablets control my health conditions. I control my tablets...







If I am going out in an evening I decant my epilepsy tablets into my precious pill tin, which once belonged to my dear friend Jon and is a treasured gift from Jacky his Mum. I then set a reminder alarm on my phone and like Cinderella, I take them before I turn into a midnight pumpkin...







Want to know more about how your body deals with drugs? Click Here A Medicines Life Inside the Body - National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Or on the Effects of Epilepsy on a Body? - HealthLine


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Water of Life

When I found out I had cancer the oncologist said it first…

Drink plenty of water.

Then the nurses in the chemotherapy unit repeated the message as they dripped the red and yellow drugs into my vein…

Drink plenty of water.  So I drunk more

When the nutritionist reinforced the water mantra that comes with cancer, I swapped my small glasses to pints…

But then I discovered drinking plenty of water helps with fatigue





            Now I drink a reservoir every day.






But did you know that Water of Life is also used to describe distilled alcohol especially whiskey.  The ancient term Uisge beatha which is Gaelic for the Latin Aqua Vitae or “water of life” was altered in the 18th Century to Usky and later to Whiskey.

Mr H and I don’t drink the other “water of life” It never passes our lips. I haven’t drunk a drop since 2008. I can’t say I am a tee total as I rarely drink tea. The occasional sparkling water with a slice of lemon fizzing at the bottom is our champagne.

I am back where I started. As a young adult the only alcohol I would lift to my lips was a snowball at Christmas. I liked the creamy, sweetness. But when I started working and going to pubs with friends and clubbing with the girls; I trained myself to like the taste of lager, and cider…it was the thing to do.

I recently read a page turning book The 12 Step Warrior, which kept me so riveted I finished it in 2 days. It is about a life almost ruined by alcohol and circumstance. But not only did Peter Skillen free himself from the grasp of alcohol; Peter is now a published author, accomplished film maker and Martial Arts expert.

I have seen the damage that alcohol can do. Seen it wrap it arms around People I know. Some find it easy to walk away from the warm alcohol induced hug. Others cannot. And as the grip of alcohol tightens, I watch it squeeze out life as the malignant dependency grows. 

I feel lucky that my health stopped alcohol fizzing up my nose or passing my lips and dulling my mind.

I prefer hugs from Mr H.

Be drink aware
"There is a sliding scale of drinking too much but it starts at a much lower volume than most would expect. Understand your drinking by clicking here
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