They bloody lied to me, life does not begin at forty!

So this is my present state of play. Just in case you should want to know it.

Starting from my scalp:

My scalp is somewhat tight because in an effort to keep my hair away from my neck (you’ll learn more about that later), I have bundled my crows nest fake auburn tresses upon the top of my head. My saving grace, in that department, is that I have a bright, shiny, new scrunchy, which really is something to get excited about when you have four kids and are a little more than forty years old.

I look a little like a scarecrow.

With extra straw.

Following downwards my brain is stuffed. Not with the lovely brains and wisdom of my fully spent youth. But with good old fashioned snot. Lots of it. I’ve tried blowing it out. I’ve tested setting it free with a nasal spray. I’ve attempted to shower it out with a nasal irrigation device, but at best, I only dripped. I’ve even done my utmost to pump it into oblivion with a special sinus attachment for my nebuliser; but to no avail.

So my head? It hurts. Somewhat.

My eyes are actually fine. Well, with the exception that I need to take my glasses off in order to see something that’s right there in front of my face.

I’ve discovered, on kissing my husband goodnight, that he is indeed quite a handsome fellow.

My nose is very dry. And bright red.

I have recently heard the name Rudolph being brandished about…

My skin is peeling, especially on my face. It seems to be some kind of wicked side effect to my immune suppressants. I’ve plateaued at a kind of flaky-old-lady with a chaffed look niveau.

I have attempted to replenish the skin with various lotions and potions but my now immune suppressed body reacts with a fiery, burning wrath rash when I do so. So, I’ve resolved to stay flaky and remember back to yesteryear when it seemed, somehow, like being called flaky was some kind of compliment.

My neck. Ah yes my neck.

Yesterday, it was fine. Although my shoulder was attempting to be a little troublesome…

Then this morning, it complained (a lot) that I had slept wrongly in my bed.

I gently turned it this way and that. I told it, that we were finally out of bed and that, really, it doth protest too much. I promised it a nice warm scarf and a massage.

Then I sneezed.

One almighty sneeze.

And ever since that moment, I have looked like someone shoved a plank up my back as I can now only manoeuver with my whole body when turning to my right.

Hence then my crows nest; it’s the only possible way to stand a chance of the heat patch glue actually staying glued to my neck. That and the quadruple insulation scarf I have wrapped seventeen times around it.

My shoulders are now okay. Ish.

But my lungs? Well, er, let’s keep it short and just say they are competing on the whole mucus front thing.

Glad tidings from my throat though, considering how much I’ve been coughing, my throat is feeling fine. I suspect that’s down to the incredible volume of onion juice and honey I’ve been knocking back.

A little point of interest: my boobs are south facing. South facing!! How did that happen?


Anyway, my hips, ah yes, my left hip twinges. You got it: Twinges.

And my stomach, well, it feels a little nauseous, but, to be honest I’m putting that down to the incredible volume of onion juice and honey I’ve been knocking back.

My lovely Crohn’s bowel? It loves immune suppressants (in stark contrast to every other body part I own) so it’s absolutely fine and dandy.

Though, (and this information I only normally give out on a need to know basis), my bottom cheeks are continuously clenched together, nowadays, in an attempt to maintain a grip on my bloody grapevine otherwise known as my piles.

My left knee is trying to convince doctors that I was some kind of heroic sportswoman, with a pretty array of meniscus tears. But I’ve told them, quite emphatically, I generally stuck to gentle walking. Albeit I did tend to cover large distances, seeing as I am a woman and not a feminist one at that. Therefore, I can freely admit that I cannot park. Not to save myself. Which in turn means that I have always had to abandon my vehicle in the largest possible space I could find. Of course, that then has always happened to be the space that is furthest away from my desired destination. And I also have a tendency to forget where I parked my car, in that good old flaky spirit of mine, so that has, on many occasions led to some gentle strolling too. Not gentle on the nerves, mind you. There was, at times, quite a lot of shouting. And some swearing too. But I doubt that either of those things would have affected my left knee.

And while I’m bearing my soul; my right knee is sympathizing.

Which I don’t need.

I’m quite capable of feeling sorry for my left knee all by myself.

Don’t be thinking that I’m body-sidist, but what on earth is going on with my left foot?

It has some strange lump on it that doctors insist on poking, with an unnecessary fury and injecting concoctions into which has not improved matters in the least.

But the good news is: we live in modern times.

I joked with my daughter, the other day, “By the time you bury me I’ll be half plastic.”

My husband, who apparently still loves me, despite my decrepit frame, retorted, “Titanium, you’ll be made of titanium, it lasts longer.”

After I recovered from his unusual interlude of romanticism, my first thought was, “Wow, I’ll be the one setting off all the alarms at the airport!”

Then I had a little premonition. I realised, long before my own death, exactly what song will play out at my funeral:


“I am titanium……”

A weak week

It’s funny to think that just over a week ago we were building up pavilions (that a few short hours later were to be dramatically felled in a storm), we were rehearsing the Gay Gordons (which we wouldn’t need because we had never intended our garden to become a mud wrestling arena) and we were blowing up space hoppers (which were then inappropriately used as footballs by small boys, providing one of the first catalysts of the evening for the ADHD one’s meltdowns).

It seems like such a long time ago. And yet, it was only just over a week.

A little more than 7 days ago, a friend asked me if I ran on adrenaline. I could give her the concrete answer that I definitely wasn’t being rejuvenated by sleep. After all, I was only averaging 4 hours a night. I thought about the question a little, and decided, after looking up at the sun-filled sky, that I must run on solar power.

I stared at the sun (and the sun, after I’d recovered from my blind spot, twinkled back down at me) and I smiled. Full of giddy anticipation of cake and guests and sushi and cake and dancing and space hoppers and actual hopping, and cake and showing the Germans just how to do the Gay Gordons and the highlight: an extra stubborn piñata donkey.

And then a bloody great grey cloud arrived, cut off my energy supply and I was forced to down cheap bubbly wine and Duracell batteries homemade mint chocolate truffles.

I can’t believe that we were still living and celebrating the festivities just over 168 hours ago!

I’ve spent the days since waving goodbye to friends, attacking overflowing bins, finding little surprises I hid from myself in the midst of my I-think-I’m-funny boozed-up state, pouring through photos, wondering if I should vacuum the confetti off the grass and devouring the Olympics.

Yesterday, I overdid myself in the latter activity, it would seem.

I should inform you: I’m completely useless at sport.

I can’t throw a javelin more than a meter.


My P.E. teacher used to despair of me.

And it all got much worse when I accidentally swivelled too far and lunged the discus into my terrified team…

I suspect that my teacher had had a premonition. I’d been given a beanbag.

I really hold no malice at having always been the last to be picked for school sports teams. I suppose my classmates feared for their own safety whilst in my vicinity.

Despite my own inadequacies though,  I still love to watch the pole vaulters and the pommel horsers and the sprinters and I had a lovely, restoring nap during the men’s 10,000 meters.

But I think I must have cheered/clapped/cried too much as Ennis strode comfortably to victory in her 800 meter heptathlon finale.

Because, when I woke up this morning, something with my back was slightly awry.

Despite the assistance of painkillers, I have not been able to make the dinner. Or do the washing. Or go to the loo without some assistance in the dropping of the drawers department.

Bugger. So this is what it’s like to be in your 40s!

Aden’s surprise

Next week I will be, gasp, gulp, sigh, sob… FORTY!!!

Don’t be wishing me a ‘Happy Birthday’, yet. Germans consider birthday wishes before the actual day to be bad luck. I’m not particularly superstitious. Though I don’t walk under ladders – I’m a klutz and something could easily drop on my head. I do salute magpies – I’m polite. I do shriek quite loudly if someone attempts to put their shoes on the table – it’s unhygienic. I do swoop in and attempt to win the battle of the wishbone – I see no point in throwing a wish possibility away. I did spend around half my childhood looking for a four-leaf clover, with no success. And I do knock on my head, if I’m not in close proximity to a more perfectly formed wooden object.

No, I would describe myself as more pragmatic than superstitious.

Anyway, if you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that I’m planning – and that means currently organizing – a proper knees up for my fortieth. I can say knees up now, I’m almost forty. Though whether I can actually get that bloody wrecked left knee up there is another discussion entirely… Where was I? Oh yes, party. So I’m currently organizing the festivities as laid out by my challenges. It’s quite exciting.

Last week, I accompanied my son to an impressive sports event involving several local schools. The finale being two dances performed by 1800 pupils in unison.

After I’d wiped my eyes (blubbery mother that I am) I dragged walked with my five-year old to find my son in the swarm and then we found ourselves right in front of the stage, watching the most amazing balloon entertainer.

I mean, this guy totally rocked.

My son stood in the long queue and waited patiently to receive the autograph of the performer.

I stood with him for a while, then wandered over to the grass and sat in the sunshine. All the other kids picked up their autographed postcards, said their ‘hellos’ and were gone. But my son had a little chat with the young man.

I quizzed him, but he was non-committal.

The next day my son informed me he was expecting a call and that I was under no circumstances allowed to answer the telephone.

The call finally came and he returned to the room, disappointed.

He’d tried to book this amazing entertainer to come to my birthday party as my birthday present.

Naturally, the entertainer (who’s been on TV several times) was completely booked up.

Now, how sweet is that?

I am relieved though. He would have had no money left = no train set that he’s been saving for forever and a day, and we’d probably have had to empty our piggy banks as well.

P.S. If you’re looking to send me a birthday present, tissues would be nice, the ones here seem to be rather soggy!

P.P.S. For my entertainment and yours, a clip of the super-duper entertainer in question (it’s in German but please persevere, it’s worth it!):

Ageing without dignity

In ageing I am not triumphant. Soon I will have ‘accomplished’ my coup of 38 years on the planet. Although, being honest, it doesn’t feel to me, to be much of an accomplishment.

I have, throughout the years, of course, achieved much. I can walk and talk. I have friends. I’ve passed exams. I have four children and a husband. I own a mortgage (jointly, admittedly). I have learned to drive. I’ve held various jobs. I have travelled.

But nowadays, I have the feeling, I have not only reached my peak, but I have surpassed it.

It’s a combination of little things. But they add up. For example, I wake up in the mornings and the first question of the day should be, “Where hurts today, darling?” The answer would vary. A multiple choice approach could even be applied:

Question: Which body part is noticeably painful this morning, is it…

a. your head?

b. your knee?

c. your back?

d. your foot?

e. your stomach?

f. your ear?

g. a combination of a and b?

h. a combination of c, d, and e?

i. None of the above?

j. All of the above?

k. Something not mentioned above?

l. All of the above mentioned and a new source?

m. Should I just put you out of your misery and shoot you?

The truth of the matter is that I will soon be 38, which in my mind, at least, is not so old, but as my forties approach, I just notice I am speedily degrading…

For instance:

Last year both my eyes and ears deteriorated. Meaning not only without my lenses can I not see you properly, but I also have no clue what you’re saying to me.

For instance:

My ankle clicks. My knee clicks. And most of me cracks or creaks. A walk downstairs and I sound like I’ve started my very own band. I am for the first time in my life, musical.

For instance:

A necessary requirement is always to be close to a loo. No matter where I go, I need to find out where the nearest toilet is located.

For instance:

I used to have a liking for hair dye. Now I have a requirement for the stuff.

For instance:

I have started drinking peppermint tea.

For instance:

Memory = zilch. I have no knowledge of my children’s names. Or even my husbands name. I have to write lists. Then, I forget that I wrote a list, or, I loose it. Sometimes, I cannot even read my writing on the list. Or I have no idea why I wrote the damn list in the first place: What is this list for? Am I going on holiday? Or shopping? List, you make no sense to me at all!

For instance:

I prefer to ‘do it’ in the comfort of my own bed. With no pressure applied to afore mentioned knee, stomach, ear or foot areas. Limiting the possibilities… Though, truthfully, mostly I fall asleep on the sofa, and awake, dribble dried onto my face and next to an uncomplaining, uncomplicated, though somewhat soggy husband.

It would be true to say that in general, I look forward to my future. To my opportunities ahead. To my children finding their way. To my growing family. To more time for myself and for my husband and I, on our own. To holidays and shopping trips and parties and all the celebrations that the future holds.

But there are some things that fill me with dread:

The trips to the dentist. The loss of my teeth. The pulling of my wisdom teeth.

Losing people I love. Death.

Looking in the mirror and seeing an old woman staring back at me.


I guess this is true for every one of us. Accepting the ageing process is no easy task. Sometimes, I so want to hit the brakes. Life is both wonderful and exciting, yet it is also tragic and unbearable.

I have decided my best way forward comprises the following rules:

Take one day at a time and see what each day brings.

Write the lists anyway.

Take all of the drugs offered by the doctor.

Drink alcohol whenever necessary.

Take lots of photos.

Enjoy the moment.

Dye my hair, again and again and again. And buy a wig if it does actually all fall out.

Not completely rule out botox.

Eat what I like. Especially chocolate.

Brush my teeth and pretend to the dentist that the gums just don’t bleed anymore.

Avoid the dentist.

Forget the word ‘dentist’.

Enjoy my new found musical abilities by adding the odd song.


Cry and shout whenever I want to.

Appreciate my family and friends.

Avoid mirrors.

Avoid scales.

Not completely rule out replacement body parts.

And finally, party wildly for as long as I can!

Today is the first day of the rest of my life…

I got up this morning and impulsively decided that instead of designing the lava filled volcano birthday cake, that I’ve promised to supply in two days time, or doing the washing, or the dishes, or cleaning the house for the hoards of children that will come to the birthday party on Sunday afternoon, I would go shopping.

For myself.

I had had this image in my head the past few weeks of a floaty, summer, gypsy style dress I’d seen many times in the window of a local store. Reaching out to me, taunting, “You want me, don’t you?”

Until now, I’ve managed to ignore the urge. Well, until today.

Today, I dressed in my long straight-ish green dress and thought, “Oh my God!”

It’s not my first time of thinking, “Oh my God”, on dressing myself in the morning, over, say, the last three years. But today it really hit home.

In my head I am still the size 8 I was as a teenager. As a size 10 in my 20’s, my fantasy could still be maintained. The difference being negligible. But now heading on my daily curse to my 40’s I’ve suddenly realised: the top half of me is a size 12 and the bottom a wobbly 14.

And when I say that in my head I remain a size 8, I mean that when I look at clothes, my purchases are made with that in mind.

Hence the straight-ish green dress.

It’s not that I buy the wrong size. Just that I want to wear skinny clothes, and, of course, it doesn’t really suit.

I have avoided the glaring-at-me-truth for as long as I can. Not looking in mirrors very often is a typical trick. But today, I caught sight of myself and had to flinch. The dress itself is ok. The problem is, it accentuates the problem areas, being on the verge of straight.

An undeniable issue for me is also one of proportion. Almost three and a half years of breast-feeding and four caesareans have naturally taken their toll.

Boobs that prefer the direction south to north.

And a stomach that looks like an implant of an enormous wobbly jelly.

Plus there’s all that chocolate, cheese, cake and wine…

So this morning a decision had to be made.

Face facts Sarah. This is who you are.

Sarah wobbly belly.

Sarah south-facing boobs.

Now what about a floaty dress? Off to C&A and there I found it. The one remaining and in my size. Fate.

In my acceptingness of myself, I became excited. There were lots of pretty floaty things. And I tried them all on.

Although the allowance is only five articles in the changing rooms – Why is that? If I had seen an assistant I would have asked, “Am I only allowed to purchase five articles as well?” But I didn’t. See one. So I took in as many items as I could carry. In true standing with my rebellious self. And I bought more than five things as well…

On my way home in the car, (once I’d retrieved it, I had been convinced I’d left it on the first floor, and not the second one, where I later discovered it), I found myself feeling happy that I’d accepted myself. For who I am.

I know for a fact that my love affair with Mr Chocolate, Mr Cheese, Mr Cake and Mrs Wine are all far from over.

I know in my heart that half of the clothes that remain hopeful in my wardrobe, of seeing the light of day, are never going to be worn again. At least not by me. Especially not those green trousers, the ones that I can’t fit my bottom in, let alone attempt to close. That is just an unreachable dream.

I decide on my return home, that I will dismiss all unfitting clothing from my wardrobe, and donate it to anyone willing to take it off my hands.

I feel somehow, lighter. Free. I’m going to be ruthless.

Even with the few things I’ve kept since I was 18. Well, I’m going to try.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Perhaps this is what they mean by life begins at forty.

But to be honest, I realise that I have more pressing issues than my wobbling stature. Yesterday, I again did not remember to pick my daughter up from Kindergarten. I was on my way to collect her, on my round-trip to the shops. But somehow I managed to forget her, only realising partway into town. I had to turn around and drive back. At least this time though I noticed ‘something missing’ by myself and my son didn’t need to inform me.