26 November 2010

Dear So and so...Cars, Colleges and....Well, you'll see!

Dear So and So...

Go over and see Kat to find out who else is having a moan today...

Dear #1 Car...

FFS! I don't appreciate the 'non-starting' thing this morning. Not at all, I'm not impressed. Panic phone call from TD to drop off 'correct' uniform for college, key in ignition and...Hello?!...nothing. 
I know it's been cold, I understand that. But a dead battery, come on, please! But I am a little sorry for all the foul #&%! names I called you, but trust me, only a little.

Yours, annoyed


Dear #2 Car...

Look, I get you might be a bit pissed off at being usurped by #1 Car and being stuck on eBay for a mere 99p, but a completely flat tyre? That's not even remotely funny.

Yours, saving my air.


Dear TD...

Find your bloody Timetable...
Then you won't take the wrong set of uniform in to college and end up calling me to drop off the right one. See #1 Car.
I know I offered to drop it off, but the alternative was you coming all the way back home. Which was all so unnecessarily complicated. 

Frustratingly, Mum


Dear College Tutor of TD...

Don't call me at home to ask where TD is, 25 mins after having her sent home for not having the correct uniform for the day ahead. Find her something else to do?

Ahh...Right, I see, you haven't seen TD this morning? Erm..er..okkaayyy....Bye!

Yours, red faced & trying to get off the phone fast.

Dear TD...


Yours, lied to and annoyed, Mum

Dear Me...


Yours, lied to and very annoyed with self.

24 November 2010

The Gallery - Black and White

I haven't joined in with the Gallery at Sticky Fingers for a very long time...But I do LOVE black & white photography, so just had to join in this week. This photo is from last year. I'm sure you 've guessed what it is? It's not the view usually seen of the structure. Which is what I think makes it all the more interesting. Click to make it huge...

 We're used to seeing the glizty, gawdy, bright lights, the fun and colours of  Brightons Palace Pier.
This is the 'underbelly' of this beautifully constructed landmark building. The foundation for all the fun and laughter that happens above.

23 November 2010

A West End night out..Midori Cocktails and a bit of Dirty Dancing!

Free cocktails followed by Dirty Dancing? Well, I could hardly refuse could I?? Don't be stupid, of course I went...

Graciously offered (to be truthful if was more like a Twitter ambush of 'Me,me,me,meeee!), unable to go herself, by the lovely 1 more means four  
...Thank you Amy.

So Wednesday found me travelling up to London to meet an old friend Jo. Old as in having known her for over 25 years..eeeek! Not that she's old, obviously, she can't be, Tut..please she's only a year younger than me.

We headed to Dirty Martini in Covent Garden, where we mingled with the after work crowd, and after introducing ourselves to the Midori crowd awaited our cocktails.

By the time a waitress came to take our orders, Jo and I had started chatting with a couple of girls sat next to us, one of which I'd been told to keep a look out for. 'Wild blonde hair' was the description given to me! 

We decided to get a mixture of cocktails from the menu and try each of them. 
Clickity click on the links for videos on the 'How To'.
Between us we ordered a Midori Margarita, a Midori Sour and to mix it up, just a bit, Dirty Martini's own creation, a Paradisio.


My personal favourite?? The Midori Sour, by a long shot. It's the one I could've happily drunk glass after glass of, if I didn't have to actually co-ordinate anything physical afterwards, you know, like standing upright and walking or talking. Because as with most cocktails, it actually didn't taste very alcoholic at all, more like a deliciously melon fruit juice...Yum.
But I was ultra good, and stopped at only two...honest!

I tried the Margarita, but as I'm not keen on tequila, it wasn't a hit for me, but Jo loved it. If you like tequila, I'm sure you'll love it too. The Paradisio, which was the cocktail bars own invention, was truly quite lethal! Just as well they've banned smoking inside, as had anyone lit up within close distance to the drink, there'd have been serious danger of a small explosion.

They'd thoughtfully laid on some nibbles, very handy for it's soaking up alcohol properties! 


At 7.15pm we all walked, and possibly in some cases staggered, round to the Aldwych Theatre, where we settled in to watch some Dirty Dancing . 
The dancing was spectacular..the singing and songs were brilliant and foot-tappingly familiar, and the stage set was a bit of technical wizzardry (with the slightly odd giggle inducing moment at the 'lowering of the log').  

But some of the acting made me wish I'd had a lot  few more of the lovely Midori cocktails to blur the edges slightly. I mean, who knew Jimmy Durante was alive and kicking and currently performing in the West End??

12 November 2010

A difficult post to write...It's loving, not all sad & scary.

This will probably be the hardest post I ever have to write. I want to write it, no, need to write it, then I can read the words to make it seem more real, as at the moment it still feels a little surreal.

My husband, my partner of 12 years, Ian, died on Friday 22nd October 2010. He didn't 'pass away' 'leave' or any of those words I personally find so infuriatingly vague, he died. Exactly one month, date to date, after our Wedding Day.

I knew it was coming. I was as prepared as you can be, I truly was. I know myself too, too well. I cope and function better if I know all the facts, every possibility, every tiny thing.  I'd asked every question I could think of, even the one you never in a million years really want to ask 'How will he die?'...But I asked and I was told.


Ian's particular cancer type was extremely aggressive. A Malignant Melanoma, which never presented on the skin, but was discovered as a large tumour wrapped round his Illiac vessel (the main artery in the hip/abdomen area, to, in his case his right leg). At first we were told he could have surgery to remove it, but in the 3-4 weeks it took to see the  top surgeon at The Marsden, it had doubled in size and was then inoperable. 

He underwent palliative radiotherapy in March, with little hope of reducing the size, just stopping the growth. But as Melanomas are predictably unpredictable, it shrank. To a size that was then operable. A glimmer of hope, and Ian was always so positive.

The same surgeon performed the surgery, in late June. But reading his notes, I'm extremely nosy and as I said before, have a need for information, good and bad, the surgery was listed in bold, clear as day writing, 'Palliative Surgery'. At this point I 'knew' how this would end. My heart hoped it wouldn't, but my head knew it would. This was for me, the moment I went from hoping, positively for Ian, to learning to accept. 

Unfortunately in September, as a side effect, Ian developed a blood clot which meant a stay in hospital of 2 weeks, having daily injections. It was during this time I had a meeting with his Oncologist. 
We had a long, very emotional conversation about 'How long?' and 'How?'. She was as honest as she could possibly be with me, and explained 'Weeks rather than months' and told me to try and concentrate on 'All the positives, the moments you can look back on and make you smile, even if you don't believe me now, you will need them and cherish them, so make them'. She was so right...our Wedding Day being one of those.


I got to acceptance much sooner than Ian. He struggled with it. I know he felt 'acceptance' was giving up, giving in. He needed to feel he was fighting it. He never said it that way, but I understood him so well. So we never talked about when, he was more comfortable not knowing. 
In the same position I would probably be the same, who knows?
On a different note, I have a slight problem with some expressions, such as, 'They fought to the end'. It somehow makes it sound as if when the person accepts what will happen they have 'failed' in some way?

He did wonder how?, on only one occasion with me.  He was terrified of dying, in his words, in excruiciating pain. He said it was his biggest fear.

"You will probably get tireder and weaker. You'll sleep more often, for longer, with less waking moments. Until you sleep all the time. Then the sleep will get deeper, until finally you'll stop breathing while asleep."

This was his Dr's answer to to me when I'd asked 'How?'. And it was what I told him.

I saw and felt his relief.

Then I made a promise. 'I promise, and you know me, I don't break my promises. I will do everything I can to make sure it is as pain free as possible'. 

On Sunday he was unable to swallow his array of many drugs. Not for the reason I'd previously thought, because he couldn't physically swallow, but because he didn't know how to, or what to do. It is impossible to get someone to swallow pills if they don't understand what you mean. I tried and I had to give up after 25mins. That's when they started a Syringe Driver. So he was still getting all his pain relief & sedation, but as a constant flow over a 24 hour period.

By Tuesday he was in his hospital bed, in the dining room half of our living/dining room.
The Tuesday morning was also when he stopped drinking fluids. I had hoped this would help with the pain he was getting on weeing by this point, as the tumour was growing and obviously affecting his bladder in some way. And as much as the continuous drugs he was on helped hugely with keeping him comfortable, his pain increased during those times. So Wednesday and Thursday was spent mainly, apart from spending time with him, with all of us, District Nurses, Hospice @ home nurses, making sure he got top up shots of diamorphine to reduce that pain. Thursday evening was also when his breathing changed, quite distinctly. Shorter and shallower. Although I had a wobbly moment, just before this, on realising that I wasn't keeping my promise to him. We weren't making him completely pain free, I felt I was failing him. But yes, by Thursday night he had no pain, eventually.

I say eventually, as there was one District Nurse, on Thursday evening, who had a problem with giving a 5ml shot of Diamorphine, for pain, (which he had been having up to that point) as in her own words 'Given the stage Ian is now at, I'm unhappy with giving morphine, as this could hasten this stage'...

My response? Because obviously this was more about accountability and her signature being on the drug chart, if he were to die shortly after.

"You're unhappy about giving pain relief drugs because you're concerned about hastening the end, but you're happy for him to stay in pain, but for longer???...That is what you're saying? Well, I'm unhappy with your decision". How fucking illogical is that?

Luckily we had the most amazing Hospice@home night sitter, Marion, an Auxillary Nurse. Marion had a long discussion with the District Nurse about maybe upping his sedative, who then conceded to give Ian 2.5ml of morphine and 10ml of sedative. So no surprise when 2 hrs later we had to phone them out again for more pain relief, whereby the Nurse that arrived that time had absolutely NO issue with giving a full dose of each. 

During the Friday morning I had a very quiet talk with Ian, telling him that everything was sorted out, there was nothing more to worry about, everything and everyone would be okay. I was telling him to go. I know he hated being like this, unable to function on even the most basic level.

His Parents and 2 brothers arrived at the house at 1.45pm, and bumped into Ian's son who was running 2 mins round the corner to his house to change out of his school uniform (poor thing had been wearing it for 2 days!). His parents and brothers sat and talked with Ian, although there was no response from Ian. But I had read everything I could get my hands on, and discussed it with both Macmillian and Hospice nurses, and they all agreed that hearing is the last sense to go, so to continue talking.

I now have personal, absolute proof of this fact. Ian died at 1.57pm, just 12 mins after his Mum, Dad and 2 brothers arrived and spoke with him, although his breathing had been laboured for hours.

I held his wrist and hand with both my hands, without thinking. And I felt his pulse stop, quite by accident. I didn't 'plan' it that way, it just happened. It was a truly incredible moment. His bed was surrounded. Me, his parents, his brothers, my Mum and Dad, 2 of my children, and one of his best friends.

He took two breaths, one tiny cough and just didn't breathe back in...

There was a split second, just after that last breath, of complete and utter silence and peace, almost like a vacumm.

...and I said?

"Well darling, you made that so easy"


There's a lot of talk about Quality of life, but Quality of death? It's still a very scary and taboo subject to discuss. What does Quality of Death actually mean? For me it meant love, support, comfort, no pain and no fear, for Ian or us as a family. If you have good, loving people on your side, supporting you, all pushing for the same thing, and you love and know the person, it's the very last thing you can do for them.

Getting it right. 

It's the one thing that is guaranteed in life, we will all die at some point. And the people around you, given the right circumstances, can make it good.

And as near as possible, we all got it right. I couldn't change the ultimate outcome, but I damn well made sure the journey there was the best it could be.

5 November 2010

Dear So and so....

I'm doing as I'm told and I'm jumping on the Dear So and So train today. Please read and join in..go on...you know you want to. Then go add your link here, 3 bedroom bungalow

Dear Pretend Adults (kids),

Stop walking out of the living room and leaving behind all your tea cups/glasses and plates with leftover toast on, or I may just have to collect them all together and put them 'in' your room for you,

A getting slightly pissed off now Mum


Dear SAME pretend adults,

Stop, stop, stop putting almost empty jars back in the cupboard! I can see the peanut butter jar is nearly empty without even picking it up, you're the one using it, one more teeny, tiny fingertip amount would make it completely empty, for goodness sake use it up, please!

Yours frustratingly,
Oh P.S. The same goes for juice cartons in the fridge, what is that about?? A teaspoon of juice, who leaves that?

Dear Hendrix, floppiest cat in the world,

I love you, but please, stop laying out, full stretch, like a draught excluder, in front of closed doors. We can't see you! We will end up standing on you and accidently killing you. Not to mention the tripping over you and dropping everything on the floor incident (see plate/glass/cup scenario above), thanks very much!

Yours purringly, 
Owner of food x


Dear House Phone,

Stop ringing every single time I sit down to complete masses of paperwork, what the hell is that about? How do you know? Am I being spied on?? 
Or failing that, help the bloody answer phone to work! You know, come on guys, you're a team.

Yours pleadingly


Dear Boiler,

Now I know you're taking the piss! 5 days after the only person who understands your little foibles isn't here to fiddle and tinker with you, you decide to stop working!
Okay, it was only a hiccup, but I promise this, you will now play ball, or I will be replacing you, you hear?

warm but annoyed,