Fever Diva


When I was a little girl, around, I don’t know, maybe seven or eight years old, I picked up one of those childhood illnesses. I’m not sure which one it was. All I know is, that I had an extremely high temperature.

It was so high that I started hallucinating, seeing heads with no bodies and matchstick people doing strange exercises over by my mum’s wardrobe.

It freaked my mum right out, I can tell you.

The problem is: it didn’t stop there.

After that illness, any time I had a low grade fever, I’d start hallucinating again.

When I was a kid, I’d get sick and then, you know, hallucinate. And my mum would become unglued.

I’d stay healthy for a while and then I’d pick up a cold or a sickness bug and then suddenly I’d be shoving away floating faces and yelling at stick men and my mum would be ruing the day she ever gave birth to such an oddity.

When I was 17 my hallucinations and I moved out. We moved around a bit and then settled down in a little house, in a little village.

My fevers and my hallucinations had become more of a biennial event, so, in general, I kept them pretty much to myself.

Then my first husband moved himself in.

He stayed overnight, left in the morning and returned in the evening with some clean underwear. He stayed the night again, then left in morning and returned with a chest of drawers, for his clean underwear. He stayed the night and then left in the morning and returned in the evening with pretty much all of his stuff.

He, luckily,  was only confronted by my visions three or four times, as he trotted his stuff right back out again after about seven years. He found it all a bit odd, but to be honest, he was more exasperated by my lack of interest in wearing two identical socks simultaneously, and the fact that my tool kit consisted of: a hammer, a bag of carpet tacks, Blu-Tack and some felt pens. The latter concern was not unreasonable. After all, when he went to the loo and yanked on the toilet tissue, it was surely fair enough, that he was horrified, that not only the whole roll, but also the holder and a heap of plaster, came flying towards him.

Looking back, I could have yelled at him for destroying my handiwork with his man-strength.

Instead, I was too busy explaining that that rubbery stuff really was Blu-Tack, despite it not being blue. That, I had cleverly coloured it in with the felt pens so it would match the wall colour.

He did not share my enthusiasm. Instead, he went around dismantling things and replacing them with screws and something called ‘raw plugs’.

It took him a good couple of years to stop shaking his head and to appreciate my talent.

I remember the exact day quite clearly.

We’d been housesitting for my parents for a week as they’d taken a holiday. We’d fed the plants and watered the cat.

On their return I wanted the house to be spick and span. So I did all the washing, changed all the bedding, scrubbed down the kitchen and the bathroom, I even popped out to the local florist and bought flowers as a distraction from the smell of polish. All I needed to do was hoover and wash the floor.

I got the hoover out and sucked away on the deep pile carpet in the hall. Then I entered the kitchen, with the brand new cushioned linoleum. I paused for a second, and then I heard a horrifying noise. The hoover, it turned out, had different settings depending on how deep the pile of your carpet was, or in this case, wasn’t.

I pushed and I pulled but the gurgle persisted so I switched the hoover off.

I lay it on it’s back and then glanced at the floor.

I think my heart actually stopped for a second as it sunk in.

The bloody hoover had sucked a chunk right out of my mum’s new, extortionately priced, linoleum.

Driven by lack of linoleum funds and a healthy amount of fear – my mum is not a person you want to piss off – I raided every drawer in the house until I found, no, not felt pens but crayons.

Felt pens wash off. Crayons are wax. Linoleum is frequently washed.

And so I went to work, crayoning the upper linoleum pattern onto the lower linoleum backing with as much haste as my shaky hands could muster.

My first husband, knowing my mother, went into a full blind panic.

When I’d finished, and tested and retested my work, with a mop and bucket, I stepped back and asked him, “What do you think?” I saw that fleeting you-are-my-heroine look flash across his face and I knew, I just knew that all my Blu-Tack colouring-in had been in preparation for that precise moment.

We hurriedly finished the house, desperate to make a quick get away before my parents’ and siblings’ arrival.

I may be mistress of fraud with a  crayon but I cannot lie through my teeth, even if my life depends on it.

We were close to leaving when my parents showed up. So close. We were almost at the back door, in the kitchen. Which meant that the subsequent conversation took part, in it’s entirety, in the kitchen. We enquired about their holiday and made our ‘we need to go ASAP’ excuses, and the whole time, the treacherous cat, stared at the crayoned hole in the linoleum. The same cat that I’d just watered for a week tried to give my game away!!

Years passed. My mum renewed her lino. I renewed my husband. And life trundled along.

My second husband eradicated my sock nonsense and bought himself a bumper tool kit. But the real icing on the cake was that he arrived in my life complete with a full blown cat allergy.

I aged and developed various ailments. The children kindly brought home and shared around all the bugs, nits and noroviruses that they could catch at school. The frequency of my fevers increased steadily, to every few months, rather than every couple of years.

And there had been a new development. With an even slighter rise in temperature, I found myself having restless nights and on waking that I’d turned upside down in my bed. Yup, suddenly I’d wake up in the morning and my face would be, well… facing my husband’s hairy feet.

On Sunday, our youngest child woke us up at 4am having grabbed an illness which ran pretty much like this: vomit, 40°C fever, bad headache, sore neck; which thus sent us into a tailspin, having already gone through one child fighting against meningitis. So we did the mega-alert, test-the-temperature-every-fifteen-minutes for any increase, thing. Actually, we were so anxious that we checked every five minutes. For two and a half hours. Then we started to notice a decrease, so we gave her some Nurofen and some water, and tried to sleep a little.

Her illness developed: sore throat, tissue boxes worth of snot, nose bleeds, a sore eye. The child, who normally puts the bounce in the word bounce, lolled around on the sofa.

Her fever stayed fairly steady for three days.

Three whole days.

For three days, she breathed her hot breath into my face as I stuck the thermometer in her ear and nursed her brow.

For three days, she passed me snot filled tissues and empty glasses so I could replenish her water.

For three days, I was filled with dread because at 38°C, I feel the need, somehow, to cuddle up to my husband’s feet. For three days, I despaired because at 38.5°C, I visualise hovering heads and exercising matchstick men.

What on earth would 40°C mean for me?

On the fourth night, one feverless child lay in her bed and slept soundly. Her mother, on the other hand, kept waking up, thinking that, at any moment, she would be violently sick. Then the feeling would subside, she’d lie back down and snooze again.

At around 4am she found herself sitting, bolt upright in bed, thrashing her arm wildly. Her stunned husband called out to her, “Are you having a nightmare again?”

“No.” She said matter-of-factly. “There’s a scarecrow.”

Because she could quite blatantly see a green grass (rather than brown straw) scarecrow, pogoing in the middle of her bed.

Now I know what happens at 40°C. I have an even better imagination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How are we to move forward?


A few things have happened lately that have made me think about what it’s like to be a woman in this world.

Before that, I just went around well, being a woman.

I should just start at the beginning. It was this article that started it all.

Since I read it, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

Because, unfortunately, it’s true.

Take today for instance…

♦♦♦♦

We have a salesperson who comes to our door roughly once every three weeks selling frozen food to us. The food is generally of pretty good quality and I specifically like the frozen fish as there’s more choice than at the local supermarket, plus it’s mostly been fully deboned.  To top it all, it’s cheaper than buying fresh fish (don’t forget, I’m feeding oodles of kids here).

Normally, our salesperson is a slightly ditsy lady. She has a tendency to forget something from my order and a couple of minutes after she’s left, I see her hurtling right back down the road again with my missing items. Though once, admittedly, it did take her until the next day to notice my forgotten eclairs.

Her arrival always sets our dog off. The previous frozen foods salesman was an absolute dog fanatic. He used to spend 20 minutes playing with our dog during every visit, as opposed to five minutes taking my order. Sometimes he even filmed our four-legged friend with his mobile phone, so that when he went home he could relive his work day with his wife. Any moment he had left to spare he whiled away showing me pictures of all his other customer’s dogs.

Our dog (Lexi) still recognises the van. Despite the dog enthusiast having moved away over a year ago. It was a mutual love-love relationship.

So he left and we are now visited by the sales lady who is nice and tries really hard but is obviously completely overwhelmed by the hairy one. Lexi really, really encourages her too to be a dog enthusiast. But so far, she’s still rather intimidated.

Now, knowing what I know, I should be more careful checking off my goods versus my bill. But it’s difficult. As you now know, there is the manic dog, who’s jumping up, trying to catch a lick, then throwing herself, belly-up, onto the ground, desperate for a full-on belly rub down, while barking all the time.

Despite consistently having been informed from the company a good couple of days before that the lady is due, I have always, always forgotten and then been ‘surprised’ by her arrival, and that leaves me totally embarrassed on two major points:

  • The house is always a tip
  • I have never ever looked through the catalogue and I have no idea what it is I want to order.

Which means: any random child who just happens to be around takes the opportunity to yell out excited ideas of what we really, really don’t need.

Now the frozen food company doesn’t only sell fish. They sell anything at all that they have possibly thought of that could be frozen. Which naturally includes cocktails and doughnuts, snails and lasagnes, dumplings and… well, it’s just easier to tell you that they have a catalogue filled with more than 150 pages of tempting offers.

As a grown up, the tempting-ness of these offers become less seductive because I have the ability to look at the price and at my bank balance. Unlike any of my children.

So normally the picture looks something like this: with one arm I’m trying to wrestle back the dog while with the other I’m shushing the children. Who, if there happens to be more than one of in the room at that time,  have entered into a full on battle of ‘What We Need More Of – Ice Cream or Cake’ otherwise known as the S’cream Cake Wars.

And then, after all that, there’s the freezer to contend with. It’s always almost full when the frozen food salesperson arrives. Either because I’ve been on a soup making mission or because my husband has thoughtfully been shopping just the day before and filled it with frozen pizzas. No, he never knows when the frozen food salesperson is coming either.

I always buy way too much and end up emptying the ice cube tray and stuffing the kids with ice cream before dinner in order to fit in yet another fish finger.

So you get the usual picture.

The woman arrives. I battle and spend. My husband emails me because the bank suspects fraud as his wife has spent so much on the debit card again. The dog pines and sometimes escapes when the poor saleswoman accidentally leaves the front door ajar. And she returns, red-faced and panting, “Sorry, your dog is now running around the sports field again. Oh, and here’s your tuna fish pizza.” And not one single child is satisfied with what I bought.

Instead they are bickering.

Again.

While I am re-rearranging the freezer.

But today it was different.

Today, a man came to the door and as soon as I saw him I knew that I knew him from somewhere, but I couldn’t quite figure out where…

That’s because I have absolutely no skill at all when it comes to the competency of facial recognition. Seriously, I once watched a film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in it. Half way through I was completely confused and I had to interrupt my husband’s viewing pleasure and interrogate him about it. It turns out, I couldn’t tell the difference between these two main characters and thought they were both playing the same role. My husband was significantly horrified and has teased me about it ever since (hence I now remember the two actors’ names).

The man standing at the door was clearly a frozen foods salesman as he had parked his van right in front of my house. So I greeted him, but I told him not to enter as I had one sick and germy kid lolling around on the couch.

He didn’t try to come in. But he told me several times that he would like to sit down at the table with me to do the order. I had to say “No” very clearly, three or four times, before he would finally back down. I explained to him it was for his own good health but I could tell he wasn’t at all pleased.

I felt that instinctive unsafe feeling that, since I read the article, I’ve started to think that every woman knows.

And then I remembered, that’s how I knew this man. He’d been a substitute salesperson for the frozen food company once before. And I’d had the very same uncomfortable, unsafe feeling then.

He didn’t raise his voice, or push the door. And he didn’t lay a finger on me, but I felt threatened by his tone and his body language. He was very forceful in his sales technique. He didn’t smile. He slammed the doors of his van stormily, one after another.

I felt unsafe. On my own doorstep. So much so that I thought about calling the company and telling them not to send that particular salesman to my door again.

♦♦♦♦

That article jumped into my mind yet again.

I am a woman and I live regularly on my guard.

I am a woman and time and time again I feel unsafe. Or taken advantage of or disrespected.

And I don’t say anything.

I just ignore it.

I thought it was normal.

And it may be that it happens a lot. But that is wrong.

I owe it to my daughters to talk about it.

We all do.

So, I’ll start the ball rolling. Feel free to join in in the comments section.

It is not acceptable to think that all that should be important for me is pleasing men and having their children.

It is not acceptable to pat my bottom.

It is not acceptable to pay me less.

It is not acceptable to say that all my problems will be solved if I look pretty.

It is not acceptable to have a go at me for feeding my child.

It is not acceptable to use your strength to make me feel afraid.

It is not acceptable to not stop when I say no.

 

Saying goodbye to 2015 with openness and honesty


Sometimes I think, I don’t know what happened. Sometimes I think, how did I get to be right here, right now, right where I am?

It’s like, I am in some kind of blurry confusion. Or like I landed on my bum with a thump. I wasn’t expecting it and I am sitting there all kind of dazed and amazed.

The hours tick by and roll into days. The days tick by and roll into weeks. And I tumble and roll with them. I keep attempting to pick myself up and stumble on but I seem to lurch from one impossible situation to the next.

Some days, standing in front of several huge piles of washing feels like enough to be classified as an impossible situation.  I look at the mixtures of red and white and black and blue, which should, technically, have all been sorted out into their appropriate baskets, according to my own rules of the house. I stare at those never-ending mixed piles and I despair.

Some days, I focus on the enormous list of things I expect myself to do that day, and I realise I am in an impossible situation. I can only disappoint myself because no earthly being can possibly tick off each of those designated tasks in just one day.

Some days, I find myself pondering over a blank piece of paper. It seems like my impossible situation is to actually find enough energy to draw up the day’s list in the first place.

Instead, I drag my lazy butt over to the sofa and distract myself with the TV, or a game or someone else’s news.

Then I leave the house at the very last minute to pick up my daughter, because even though, I feel incredibly lonely, I can’t bear to face the other mums. With their happy smiles or their problems or their invitations or their requests.

I attempt to hide in the driver’s seat of my car. And if they approach me, I feel the panic rising from the pit of my stomach.

Occasionally, there are days when the impossible situation is just to make it through the day.

On those days, I bite my lip, swing my foot, pace the floor, hug the dog, think of the kids, go back to bed in an attempt to wake up in a better mood, call my husband and just try to breathe in and out and tell myself that tomorrow is a brand new day full of brand new possibilities.

I’m still an optimist. Deep down inside.

2015 has not been my finest hour.

In all honesty, it’s been really bloody tough.

It’s been the accumulation and aftermath of: three burnouts, Crohn’s, a million doctor’s appointments, sick kids, diagnoses, arguments, a suicide, PTSD, continuous headaches, sleepless nights, stress, guilt, loss, panic and pain.

So I decided that the only way to turn things around was to go into a specialised clinic at the local hospital for a while.

It was the right decision. I talked and cried and laughed and painted and danced and beat the hell out of drums. I made friends and cried and talked some more. I listened. I hugged. I walked through the forest. I remembered things I’d ‘locked’ away. I talked about them and cried and then ‘locked’ them away again. Because it’s just not healthy to let those things consume your life.

Above all, I realised that my own driving force is low self-esteem, guilt and fear.

So all these years, I’ve needed to do my absolute utmost, to prove to myself that I am worthy, and to reduce the feelings of guilt that I carried around for things which I had always believed were my fault but actually weren’t. I needed to protect my family from all eventualities, because in my own experience bad things actually happened again and again.

I feel like I’ve been knocked down and built back up again. Albeit, loosely.

I can’t tell you that I feel ‘well’. I would more describe myself as feeling ‘fragile’. Sometimes, some days, still bring their impossible situations.

But I can tell you that I have more energy and that I am looking forward to Christmas more than I have in years.

And that I am hoping, ever the optimist, that when I look back in years to come, that I will see 2015 as a turning point in my life.

And that 2016 was a new beginning.

Wishing you all, from the bottom of my heart, a wonderful Christmas. And a 2016 full of hope, enlightenment, love and strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another day, another heartbreak


I could not sleep this morning before 4am. I lay, disheartened and sickened on the sofa, flicking from the internet to the TV, as I watched events in Paris unfold.

Terrorists: you have my fucking attention.

You disgust me.

You make me feel both mad and sad.

Your only desire is to fill our world with fear and hate.

Shame on you!

I will continue to teach my children love and tolerance. Peace and acceptance. Kindness and understanding.

I will maintain my stance on freedom, equality, education and justice. Despite your bullying tactics. I have never been one to lay down to bullies.

And I am even more determined to support asylum seekers than I was before.

Paris, we love you. We love your youngsters singing and dancing on the Champs de Mars. We love your friendly artists, helpful pharmacists, busy waiters and enthusiastic, philosophising passersby.

Stay strong. Mourn. Feel loved. Be safe.

 

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” –Jean-Paul Sartre

 

 

You and me


There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see what we see.

There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see what we see.

I see flowers
where you see weeds

You fear wasps
when I cherish bees

I listen to music
and you hear noise

You see rubbish
I see potential elaborate and interesting toys.

You feel anger
but I, I feel pain

I see helplessness
but you? You see shame!

You feel hatred
when I, I just feel sad

I am disappointed, lost and lonely
and you? Are you glad?

There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see what we see.

There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see whatever it is we see.

 

You may wish you were a fly on the wall in my house


I sometimes wish I owned a dictaphone to record those ‘special moments’.

Like yesterday, when we visited the local shopping centre. It wasn’t a planned visit. We ended up there because I was really sure we had an appointment at the local hospital. But it turns out, that my racing through town, in desperation to get one of my loved ones there on time, was a bit over-zealous. As the appointment I dragged everyone to is not for another two weeks.

So we found ourselves within the centre of town, with nothing to do. And the rain started. So I suggested the shopping centre. Some people wholeheartedly agreed that it was a good idea. One family member did not. But we jumped back in the car anyway and continued our journey at a more leisurely pace.

Lori, Akasha and I browsed a couple of the shops while the grumpy one stood outside, looking, well, grumpy.

In one of the smaller boutiques Akasha, who as you might remember, is eight, blurted out, at full volume, I should add: “Is this shop so small because it’s not successful?”

I did my best to blissfully ignore her question by pointing out a top to my picky and in-need-of-clothes teenager. But she informed me, in no uncertain terms, that the said top was “ugly”. She did not whisper and the shop was, as I’ve clarified, quite small. We were also the only customers in it, so the assistant was clearly focussed on us. I decided the best option was to make a quick getaway.

Back to the grumpy one.

The summer holidays are drawing to a close and there have been oh so many of those moments.

Like just a few short minutes ago.

Akasha (the creator) bound into the room and jubilated, “I made myself a necklace from my pants string.”

Indeed, around her neck she wore a piece of knicker elastic. Removed from the panties she’s currently wearing creating a ‘matching outfit’ effect.

My teenage son, (the health and safety officer) analysed the situation and noted, in his usual very matter-of-fact tone: “A health and safety person might describe that as a strangulation device.”

To which Lori (our quick-witted ninja) replied, “Like my hands!

 

 

Dreaming up true heroes


I’m one of those people who remembers dreams. In explicit detail. I awoke this morning and realised I’d had several back to back dreams and they all appeared to have a running theme:

I’d found myself having some difficulties, generally of the missing passport/lost ticket/non-functioning bank card persuasion and I felt rather panicky and weepy. There always seemed to be a ‘going off on holiday’ scenario but we’re not going anywhere – so that part must have just been wishful thinking.

Anyway, every dream ended with my husband saving the day at the last minute.

I got up and went downstairs to inform him that he’s my hero.

Can you imagine my surprise?

He was standing at the kitchen sink. Washing pans. With nowt on ‘cept his superman pants.

#healreadyknows

 

A brief interlude


My recent crankiness, unreliableness and remoteness can all be put down to one cause:

Headaches.

I am like a full on headache-monster. With angry red smoke billowing from my nostrils and everything.

The latest spate started in about October. It’s now July. I am demented. My gut feeling is that it was a sinus infection that set it all off. I don’t go with my head feeling anymore. It tends to lead me down the path of confusion.

I got a cold. A regular cold. As did most of the members of my family. Except, everyone else was blowing their noses and, you know, just generally increasing the value of tissues. Where as, I, only had a slight sore throat and sneezed a couple of times.

Everyone rejoiced, “Mum is fit and well!”

But I panicked, somewhat. I increased my inhalers and bought shares in Sinupret. Because, from past experience, I’m well aware, if it doesn’t stream out of my nose like a gushing river then it either clogs up my lungs or my head.

I continued to breathe easily but I stopped thinking straight.

I shoved sprays up my nose. Washed Sinupret down with gallons of water and rubbed peppermint oil on my temples and forehead.

The latter sometimes served as a welcome distraction, as the oil has a nasty habit of running from the aforementioned forehead into the eye.

And that burns baby.

Enough to make you forget you ever had a headache.

But it lacks longevity. So, it’s by no means a cure.

I fought on with nose showers and steam inhalations and raw garlic.

I am a truly horrible patient. I hate being ill. It stifles my get up and go. And without my get up and go, I’m a right old mess.

So I battled my ‘cold’ and I won. But soon enough I realised that I’d only won a battle and not the war.

I apparently got attacked by one cold virus after another and it seemed like my sinuses got more and more stuffed and the company who make Sinupret had to weaponise me with stronger, more kickass versions of their product.

I knocked back painkillers like an addict. Though I wondered if they did any good at all.

I saw doctors, of course.

They cheered me on in my endeavour and handed me prescriptions that made no difference. At all.

So, I visited a specialist in June, she smeared cold, slimy gel all over my cheekbones and my forehead and told me she could see nothing. At all.

Apart, that is, from a large cyst in the sinus cavity which she reckoned would not be responsible for such continuous pain.

She informed me that there are cavities she was unable to see with her machine and that I would need an MRI.

I asked her for medication. She declined.

I told her Ibuprofen doesn’t seem to help. She said, “No, it wouldn’t.”

We called all the radiologists within 50 miles but none could bang magnetic waves around my head for more than six weeks.

I despaired. I whined. I ordered my husband to learn acupressure from the internet and he, in turn, dented various areas on my head, face and hands. The relief was minute. Even trivial.

I threatened my head, that if it didn’t stop bloody hurting, I would bash it off a wall. It didn’t listen.

There was one other thing that the specialist had mentioned. My neck.

Now, my neck has been a regular source of headaches for me over the years. I’ve repeatedly had physiotherapy. It’s one of the areas I carry my stress, along with my shoulders and my jaw. But also a physio had once told me that the first vertebra in my neck wasn’t sitting correctly, which would lead to me suffering repeatedly from headaches. One of Joni’s friends had been having migraines and had been for a procedure known as ‘AtlasPROfilax‘. Her headaches had been cured but she remained sceptical about the procedure.

For one thing, it costs 220 Euros. That’s £153. Or $238.

But my husband persuaded me.

I was given an appointment, fairly quickly, and my husband drove me there. I had reached the point where I could no longer drive the car. My concentration had gone and I felt like a liability to other drivers.

The first thing that got me excited was the sofa. I kid you not: it was made of recycled cardboard. Here it’s here. Isn’t it brilliant?

It distracted me from my nervousness. For a wee moment. But that was all I needed, because then the physio invited me into his treatment room. I dragged my husband in to assist me with decision making.

During my many years here in Germany I have met many, many doctors, nurses and therapists. But it would be fair to say I’ve never met any quite like this one. He felt, to me, to be more like a salesman than any kind of therapist.

My husband is a pessimist and was also the one carrying the wallet so the holistic ‘healer’ knew he was the one who needed to be convinced.

I was told to stand up and things were pointed out about the way my feet pointed, that one shoulder was higher than the other and the like. If I remember correctly, he also noted that one boob was larger than the other. I’m sure that was the case, because I have a vague memory of wondering how appropriate such talk was. I was living in a land of fuzz and confusion at the time, so I may actually have imagined that part of the conversation.

My husband announced that he couldn’t really notice the minimal difference in shoulder height and that it was regularly the case that one boob would be bigger than the other.

It could be that I attempted to block that last bit out and that is the real cause of my confusion. I am a jealous gal. And I bury my head in the sand about previous relationships my soul mate has had.

The two men chatted on. I was made to lie on the bed, on my tummy, with my legs up in the air. Supposedly a pen was balanced on one of my feet. I turned my head to one side and then the other. My feet moved too, and so the pen was never aligned with the other foot. I didn’t feel anything I just did as I was told and begged inwardly that someone or something would cure my damned headache.

I would describe myself as a realistic optimist. I am an optimist but I also like to be realistic about things. So I glanced around for some sign of science. The healer/physio/car salesman – whatever you want to call him –  showed us the bone, called the atlas, which your head sits on and keeps the rest of your spine aligned (or something like that) with one of those plastic skeletons on a stand that doctors have. He told us, when we are born, it’s already misaligned. He told us that is the case for everyone and that everyone needs to have this procedure done.

Now, I know that I told you that I’m an optimist. But this was the moment when my inner pessimist started to kick in. Everyone? He babbled on about evolution.

That was it. That was the science. The remaining 20 minutes or so, he ‘sold’ us evidence of his healing ability by telling us about various local doctors who, along with their families, had come for AtlasPROfilax at his clinic. He even dropped in a few names in order to convince us.

I should probably mention that he did also look at my neck for a few seconds.

I asked him what the procedure entailed and to my horror he pulled out a patented tool, which, I thought looked rather like a poking vibrator, and told us, quite excitedly that this tool vibrates (I wasn’t really surprised by that point) which softens the tissue and muscle around the atlas so that it can move into the correct position, from which it can never move again.

Then he asked us a question, befitting a true salesman:

Do you trust me?

Now had I been fit and well…

Had he had a healthy specimen standing there before him…

Had I not been driven to the point of no return by a raging headache…

I could have stomped on his foot, told him to shove his obscure looking vibrator, yelled at my husband to grab the sofa while I nabbed the very cool plastic skeleton (for educational purposes, naturally). In order to to teach him about the consequences of conning all of those doctors and that 91 year old female patient he told us about. And about the importance of data protection.

I wanted to shout, “Why the hell would I trust you? You just broke medical confidentiality! I would be a complete lunatic to trust you!! I don’t want you anywhere near me with your vibration rotation contraption!!! You just insulted my boobs you cocky scoundrel!!!!”

Instead though, I just said, “Do it!”

I was that desperate.

I can tell you there was nothing soft or soothing about the treatment. My neck was intensely beaten by a pokey vibrator. In fact, in the days that followed it was clear to me that I had some internal bruising.

He made me stand again and strangely one of my feet seemed to stand naturally straighter than before. He did the pen test again and apparently, no matter how I turned my head, my feet stayed in the same position and therefore were always aligned with the pen.

I went to the receptionist who insisted on a cash payment. I was given a receipt from a copy book that could have been bought at any stationers.

Which all, of course fuelled my inner and my husband’s outer pessimists.

But within a couple of days my headache was gone.

Gone, I tell you. GONE.

And it stayed away for about two weeks.

Then I caught a bloody cold again.

But I have a free, follow up appointment in two days. And my MRI is now only just over a week away.

I’m feeling distinctly optimistic.

Vibration rotation anyone?

 

 

Sickness wreaks havoc


People often ask me how on earth I manage with four children. I tell them: it’s a little extra work, yes, like a lot of washing (think of mountain ranges like the Alps), and sometimes I have to make difficult choices, because there are times, when I get double booked into events, like two parent evenings occurring on the same day in different schools, which also happen to be miles apart, at the very same time. You might question what the odds are on that happening. I can tell you, they are apparently quite high. I can also tell you that I have quite active children, between them they regularly: sing in choirs, partake in drama class, do ninjutsu, climb, geocache, canoe, ballet dance, play keyboard, go to youth fire service, swim, cycle, play bass guitar and arch – play archery? Go arching? – Whatever! So, sometimes I find myself double-booked into two audiences at once or as a taxi-driver expected to drive in two opposing directions simultaneously.

When it comes to deciding which child to opt in favour of, my general rule of thumb is to select my favourite at that moment. That tends to be the one who has been the most helpful and/or has bribed me with the most sweets or cake.

Once I’ve worked out the logistics, I normally find most tasks doable, in a hectic kind of way. I try my best to be to organised and it comes together in a perfect picture of organised chaos. And so we toddle along. Until, that is, someone gets sick.

Sickness wreaks havoc…

It all started last week. With all of those children doing all of those activities and meeting all of those other children all of the time it is quite clear, that they are going to bring some germs home at some point or other. So no element of surprise there then. Just bad timing.

Aden came home with a cold and being the generous, sharing boy that he is, he donated some of his germs to Lori.

Now that left Lori in a fix. Normally, she would not bat her eye at a mere cold but I knew something was seriously wrong when our obsessed Ninja informed me that she didn’t feel fit enough for sword training. Then, that very night, she woke up with a high fever and a pair of very sore ears!

Poor timing indeed. The following day she was due at one of the final rehearsals of her much rehearsed school play.  The same play her older sister would also be playing in.

In order to realise the significance of this development, I probably need to give you some background information.

The play, “Momo”, is one they have been working on for about six months. Both daughters have several parts. One main character and and a a few minor roles.

It’s an adaptive, evolving piece. The kids explore their characters in depth and change the script constantly until it fits. They add in music, songs, and various theatrical effects and decide what props and costumes to use. They keep the essence of the story but they vamp it up, modernise it and make it their own.

During this time lines constantly change and minor roles are passed from person to person. Depending on who’s getting changed for the next scene and who’s currently on stage at the time.

So, although they have the script months in advance they don’t actually learn their lines until much later on.

Now let me put your mind at rest. Lori knew all of her lines last Thursday when she got sick. So to miss the rehearsal on Friday wasn’t great but it wasn’t a disaster either.

But Joni

Joni has been taking her ‘Abitur’ – her High School Diploma in the last few months and officially she left school about two weeks ago, but then she disappeared off to the Austrian border to do some work experience.

So, just to refresh, while others were getting sick and learning their lines Joni was galavanting around Europe discovering what it’s like to be a teacher taking kids off on a school camp. She had a whale of a time.

To be fair, she took her lines with her. But she was too busy having a whale of a time she didn’t have time to learn them.

I should perhaps point out something here, Joni is more of a ‘last-minute’ sort of person.

Where were we?

Ah, yes, so Lori was sick. In bed with a fever. Weak. Being force-fed vitamins, throat lozenges and very spicy home-made soup by her doting mother and Joni had returned and was back in the midst of rehearsals.

She decided the weekend would be a very good time to learn her lines and she also had Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday – during the day – because the play wouldn’t be on until Wednesday evening. (As in, this evening.)

But Saturday was Akasha’s day to shine. She’d been rehearsing her butt off too. Quite literally. She’d been dancing not only at her rehearsals but also in the living room, in the garden and well, just about anywhere there’s been space to dance in, if truth be told. I am her witness. I’ve been forced to be her constant audience for many a month now. I swear, if I didn’t have an arthritic knee, a dodgy hip and well, just a general lack of bendiness, I could actually do the dance alongside her. Without any rehearsals or anything.

So, Saturday was filled with rehearsals and hairdos and checking in on the sick one and then, finally, many beautiful ballet performances by many excited, but graceful children. One of the best moments was when one of the littlest dancers just stopped dancing, looked for her mum in the audience and gave her a big smile and a wave.

Joni used to dance too, so she found herself thoroughly involved in the day’s experiences.

To celebrate Akasha’s tear-rendering performance – I admit to being hopeless, I need to carry tissues en masse to every event – we took the two girls out for a celebratory dinner, which ended in Akasha having quite an entertaining sugar shock after being given a bit of meringue in her free ice cream. It was especially entertaining for the waitress. I don’t think she’d ever witnessed a child ‘drunk’ on sugar in her restaurant before, giggling hysterically and then yelling, “No, no, I  can’t take any more!!!!” when she brought the customary little shortbreads with the bill.  I attempted to hide behind a soggy tissue, with no avail.

Sunday arrived and Lori rose from her bed. But every time she walked, she stumbled. She felt really dizzy, but incredibly, believed that it would be a good idea to go to school and then rehearsals the following day. I can be quite an authoritative parent. I told her “No, not on your nelly!”

By the evening Joni seemed to be wearing a scarf. And a pullover. Even though it was about 28°C outside.

The following day, I made one child rest and sent two off to school and one ferreted around a bit and then left for her rehearsals. She told me she felt fine, but she appeared to have become attached to her scarf and her pullover.

Apparently, when she approached the teachers at the theatre, they became very alarmed. I do understand why. She did look rather peaky.

Tuesday, as in yesterday, I would like to say, came and went without much ado. However, the truth of the matter is: no day in this house ever comes and goes without some drama or other. We could be a reality TV show keeping the public thoroughly entertained.

So Tuesday arrived and the first issue of the day was that lovely little dancing Akasha was no longer dancing. Instead she was wheezing, rather emphatically. She’s asthmatic and we gave her her medicine. But she didn’t get any better at all.

No, actually that was the second issue of the day. The first issue was that the dog spewed. She tried to be considerate. She attempted to tidily regurgitate just on her cushion. But she was out of luck, some of it oozed off onto the floor.

Joni and Lori insisted on going to all day rehearsals, as in, ten hours of rehearsals. They were croaking like frogs and although Lori could walk in a straight line once again, Joni looked like she’d undergone some kind of surgery to become attached to that scarf and pullover. They insisted that they were fine. They have that ‘the show must go on’ attitude of true professionals.

My husband took Akasha to the doctor as I was starting to feel a wee bit under the weather and hadn’t slept too well. He returned with antihistamine – the doctor didn’t believe our littlest had a cold, instead he thought she was taking some kind of allergic asthma attack. We were thinking more along the lines of bronchitis and I’m still unconvinced.

Joni and Lori arrived home after their ten hour session. Lori lay on the sofa and went into a deep, deep sleep for over two hours. I tell you, we could have had a party in that room and she wouldn’t have noticed a thing.

Joni did not look too well at all.

We ate together. I added extra vegetables for nutrition and meat and fish. As well as eggs and bread.

I don’t think it was the most well-conceived plan I ever had.

A couple of hours later, Joni appeared, looking grey. Not because she’d finally removed her brightly coloured scarf. Her blood pressure had dropped, she had a fever and she ended up in the bathroom hugging the bowl for longer than would have been necessary, I am sure, had I not stuffed her with so much food.

Lori wrote to the dramatic drama students on her Whatsapp group “Shit, shit, shit, my sister’s being sick and sick and sick!” In the hours that followed, I believe there were a lot of frantic messages to-ing and fro-ing in the group which involved many swear words and exclamation marks.

I, for my part, just started force feeding the kid again. This time I fed her ‘good bacteria’ and electrolytes. I sent her to bed and expected her to, you know, lie down and sleep, after all that stomach wrenching.

I wandered into her room armed with a just-in-case-you-can’t-make-it-to-the-loo bowl and instructions for her Whatsapp-ing sister to wake me should she be sick again.

And I found her, sitting on her bed, learning her bloody script!!!

So, today’s the day. I got up extra early this morning. A whole hour earlier than I’d actually planned. That’s because Akasha woke me to tell be that she couldn’t get any air. I gave her her inhaler and took her into my bed with me, but she enlightened me, that there would be even less air in my room, because there were now three people in it.

She took her medicine. The doctor warned us that it would make her tired. That’s not proved to be the case. We’re almost in sugar shock Duracell bunny territory once again. She’s been being a mermaid (which did involve some under-the-table-with-legs-tied-together style maneuvers), she’s played her keyboard, read, sewn costumes for her dolls (she has some big teddy wedding event on the horizon, allegedly) all the while wheezing and coughing away.

Joni and Lori left for their final rehearsals, but only after I was sure their temperatures were normal and Joni had managed to retain a whole slice of toast and a couple of drinks. The Whatsapp group had been informed every step of the way.

I packed them up with tissues (supposedly there had been a nose dripping issue in one of the still scenes), an array of lozenges (luckily Joni is mainly playing an old man, so her new voice is quite appropriate, but she also plays a high pitched doll so we needed that avenue covered), a lot of water, peppermint tea and money so that they would be prepared for all eventualities, including, of course, shopping.

The moment of truth will soon be upon us.

Will Joni remember her lines? Will Akasha make it through the performance without being sick in the bucket, which she feels she might just now need to take with her? (She’s been looking forward to her sisters’ performance for many months and nothing, NOTHING is going to stop her being there!!) Will Aden record the show upside down like I did with Akasha’s ballet performance at the weekend? Will the audience notice nose drip? Will voices be lost? Will the high pitch doll sound like an old man, who smoked all his life? Will Lori repeat her coughing fit from this morning and spit mucus into a tissue?

The moment of truth is almost upon us.

I, like Akasha, can’t wait. Six whole months I’ve been excited about this production. And I know that if any two girls know how to pull it out of the bag through sheer determination and enviable spirit, it will be those two.

Besides, Joni only needed to turn up at her drama group today to receive a round of applause. She’s already on a roll.

 

 

Postponed post results in wonky weight of weird woman?


I could tell you that everything is running swimmingly at the moment. But I’d be lying to you.

I could tell you that beyond the odd hiccup or two, all is well in my world.

But I’d be leading you straight up, a very wonky, garden path.

I could tell you that my son’s voice is not breaking. That my house is bright, clean and sparkly. That my washroom does not have the nickname ‘The Alps’. I could even say that I didn’t just get lost trying to find the hall where my daughter is doing her ballet rehearsal for her show tomorrow night.

But I’d be telling porkies.

Instead, it would be truthful to say, that it was the very same hall she did a different show in last year. The very same hall I’ve walked past with the dog. The one that’s quite big and has a car park and is, once found, relatively easy to find.

I can also tell you that I had to ask a postman for directions and that he had no clue either. But to be fair, the post-people have only just returned after a lengthy strike. And it could well be that they hired some new post-people to catch up with the enormous mountain of mail that the people at the post office were talking about this morning. I was there. Picking up a parcel. Not sending anything. I’m still too afraid to. I have images in my head of my delayed birthday presents and my postponed get well soon cards being distinctly smaller and more loseable than a needle in a haystack.

I am particularly perturbed by the loseable image now. Seeing that the postman I met didn’t seem to know his dance halls.

I could tell you my bathroom scales are broken. After all, it’s what I told my husband until I suddenly discovered I could no longer fit in pretty much any of my summer clothes. Without forcing them and hearing tiny ripping sounds, that is. At first, I assumed the washing machine must be on the blink as there seemed to have been some shrinkage.

I could tell you that I didn’t just console myself with ice cream. And that I am not presently eyeing up a Wholenut.

Sorry, that I have not just eaten the said Wholenut.

But I’d be bare-faced lying.

 

 

 

 

Quest for humour in my existence

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