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A nervous nose appears …

I’m creeping nervously back into my old haunts. Given that last time I said I was back I promptly fell off the blogging wagon again I am loath to make an definitive statements this time.

 

Life has been quite an adventure since we last spoke. My dad gave us all a scare when he started losing his sight in his left eye. On Sunday it was hazy by Tuesday he couldn’t see anything out it. Very scary!! It was job to accompany him to various hospital departments. He didn’t have an appointment so we had to hang around for four hours while they squeezed him in. He got a very exciting ultrasound of his eye which was interesting to watch while showed he had blood in the eyeball. They weren’t sure if his retina had detached so he had to come in the next day for more shoe horned appointments. He had his first minor surgery that day to laser the small tears but they could not be sure they had them all. So the next day (Thursday) he had another minor surgery where the next guy up the chained lasered the back of his eye some more. However on the Monday they then dragged him back to drain the blood pool from his eyeball, finish off lasering bits and put in a gas bubble into his eye.

 

For the gas bubble to work effectively to press his retina back against the tissue without scarring Dad was required to stay in one set position for 50 minutes out of ever hour. This meant I had to take over feeding everyone and Mum took over cleaning up after me. It was pretty exhausting standing making dinner every night. I am extremely grateful that Dad is back in working order now. Worse he needed drops put in his eyes every 2 hours for the first week so it was a bit of a strain having to get up and down all the time. It is amazing how quickly 2 hours can pass when you are reading.

 

Because of all this family drama my Open University assignment got put off indefinitely. Finally the final, final deadline was given. Tomorrow the assignment must be in or I fail this course. Thankfully I have had a burst of thinking wellness and have just completed the last question. There is one question where I am extremely dubious about my answer but otherwise I am very pleased with my work. I shall just have to see whether my marks are any good.

 

Right having blown all my brain cells on databases and SQL queries today I am now off to curl up with a good Kindle!

 

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 1 session :-|
Headache intensity / pain level : 1 :-D
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 4 :-|
Fatigue : 5 :-|
Brain Fog : 5 :-|

An observation of the reading habits of an M.E. bookworm …

I seem to have nothing to say today. I woke up this morning all sparkling ready to get down to some work but unfortunately I have come to you after I’ve worn my brain down. I’ve been going through my enormous Amazon Kindle book archive (1626 books) creating a wish list of books my mum might like to read. She is not into all the genres I read so I’ve been selecting the first books of series she might enjoy. I have it narrowed down to 24 books/series – an selection include:

  • pure fantasy: A Tapestry of Spells (Nine Kingdoms) by Lynn Kurland,
    • This is the second trilogy set in the Nine Kingdoms by Lynn Kurland. The story revolves around Sarah and Ruith trying to stop Sarah’s brother from destroying the Nine Kingdoms. On the way they have to confront their own powers and history while romance blossoms.
  • science fiction mixed in with fantasy: Quest for the Moon Orb (Orbs of Rathira) by Laura Jo Phillips,
    • When Karma Baraka first saw the sand dunes of Planet Rathira, little did she know that this apparently peaceful world with a civilization strangely like that of Ancient Egypt was under attack by demons from another dimension, that the strange-looking cross recently given to her was the Ti-Ank, a talisman of unbelievable power, or that her possession of the Ti-Ank and her remarkable ability to speak to the dead marked her as the long-prophesied Techu, whom the Rathirians believed would come to save their world. I enjoy the Egyptian elements as something different from your usual medieval fantasy settings. The main character is a strong female who won’t be battered down my male prejudice. I enjoy the gentle romance as the party make the way across the desert to find the Moon Orb.
  • sword and sorcery fantasy: The Kinshield Legacy (The Kinshield Saga) by K.C. May,
    • Warrant knight Gavin Kinshield sets out to find a letter from his father to discover what caused the demise of King Arek. The story romps along. An easy read but still satisfying to see our hero grow into his potential.
  • young adult fantasy: Ready, Steady, Dig! (The Rooks Ridge series) by Rosalind Winter,
    • When you have spent the last sixteen hundred years faithfully guarding a precious hoard of gold and silver buried in the foundations of a Roman villa, the arrival of a bunch of TV archaeologists is seriously bad news.
      But the little household gods of the Villa Corvo have ways of deterring intruders that the makers of the popular programme “Ready, Steady, Dig!” could never have dreamed of. This is a fun satire on Time Team (a UK archaeology program – a dig in 3 days) methods woven round the household guardian Lars. Will 12 year old Vera and aging rock star Bony be able to help the stone figures save the day? I smiled all the way through. As a fan of Time Team there was a great deal to smirk over.
  • murder mystery: Invisible (An Ivy Malone Mystery Book #1): A Novel by Lorena McCourtney,
    • Ivy Malone is not your average crime fighter. She is getting on in years and found that with age she has become invisible. So when she spots something unusual she puts her powers to good use. I love this series because Ivy is such a wonderful lady. She would make a wonderful grandmother. I’m always rooting for her to solve the mystery.
  • young adult murder mystery: I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells,
    • A young man trying to deal with sociopathic tendencies who works at mother’s funeral parlor on the weekends. He ends up trying to solve the spate of murders in the town. Thoroughly enjoyable mystery with wonderfully drawn main character
  • military science fiction: A Galaxy Unknown (A Galaxy Unknown, Book 1) by Thomas DePrima,
    • A young ensign finds herself awakened from cryo sleep a decade after she abandoned ship in the middle of the night. She finds that the galaxy is know ravaged by space pirates. This is the first of her adventures in defeating them. I love this series because it is a slight satire on other series such as Honerverse by David Weber but matures into its own right. There is daring do and impossible escapes which adds up to a light hearted, fun science fiction read.
  • romantic suspense: The Unsung Hero (Troubleshooter​s) by Suzanne Brockmann
    • After a near-fatal head injury, Navy SEAL Lieutenant Tom Paoletti is ordered to take a leave of absence from his team. When Tom catches a terrifying glimpse of an international terrorist in their hometown, and the Navy dismisses the danger as injury-induced imaginings, childhood sweetheart Kelly Ashton is the one person who never doubts him. Creating his own makeshift counterterrorist team from his most loyal officers and the town’s residents, Tom knows they must save the day if he is to have one last chance for happiness with Kelly. This is a book containing intertwined stories of romance in the the second world war as well as new love with two teenagers. This book has real depth of characterization and the thriller suspense element is well drawn. I thoroughly enjoy all the books in this series. The military action elements just get better and better.

 

So I hope I’ve given you some new authors to go and explore. I’m off to read Intruder (Foreigner Novels) by C. J. Cherryh before the new novel Protector comes out on the 2nd April. Bren is one of my favourite characters of all time. I was blown away when I first read this series. I can still devour it down two books a day once I get started. C.J. Cherryh has an amazing ability to delineate different mindsets both between aliens and within human cultures. I find her observations on interactions stunningly interesting. I can’t wait for a new book to absorb.

 

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 12 hours in 1 session1 :-|
Headache intensity / pain level : 2 :-D
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 2 :-D
Fatigue : 4 :-)
Brain Fog : 4 :-)

see my explanatory scale document here.

Short but sweet …

Off to the physiotherapist today to confess to my sins. Have completely collapsed since my last visit and so expect to get that disappointed look. Still given that I did manage to get my assignment in on time it has not been a total loss the last few weeks. I am now gearing up to get the next assignment done – due in 24th April. Only got 4 weeks or so which means need to get myself in the groove soon.

 

In other news I’ve been engrossed in a reading binge. I have read all 10 of the Blood Destiny Series by Connie Suttle, all 5 of the Legend of the Ir’Indicti Series and am now working my way through her High Demon Series. If you are looking for a little bit of little fantasy this is your author. Don’t expect deep plotting but do enjoy a rollicing storyline as she barrels towards the her finale  She has managed to make me cry while reading so don’t expect it to be all sunshine and light either.

 

Right I’ve off to get dressed to leave. Speak soon I hope.

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 12 hours in 1 session :-|
Headache intensity / pain level : 4 :-(
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 2 :-D
Fatigue : 5 :-|
Brain Fog : 5 :-|

Another one bites the dust …

Well, it is gone, done, finished. The first assignment for this year’s course with the Open University is submitted. It is winging its way across the ether as we speak. It actually turned out not to be a complete nightmare AND I got it submitted by the deadline, whoo! The large part got done two weeks ago when I had my bright spot and worked my way through all the diagram questions. Today and yesterday I was focused on getting the last of the short answer questions out of the way. I now know what the legal and ethical implications of database management are or at least my assignment knows. I’ve already overwritten those files in my memory.

When I haven’t been assignment working (most of the time) I have been (surprise, surprise) reading. Given my slow brain melting state the last few days I’ve been going back re-reading some favourites. Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my favourite authors. Her Miles Vorkosigan series blew me away when I first got started with Cordelia’s Honor back in 2008. Since then I have gone on to read everything she has every published that I can get my hands on! Anyway I was started off on this path of remembrance by her latest release – Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. Having read the newest book in the series I decided to go back and read the earliest. I’m now back up to book 12 in the series so I’ll soon be back to where I started!

As a break in the science fiction writing I also started reading a book I’d been recommend by Amazon. I recently worked my way through the Nola O’Grady books by Katherine Kerr starting with License to Ensorcell. I loved these books – urban fantasy with a dash of humour. I can’t wait to find out with her next adventure might be. Since I’d run out of Nola’s adventures to read I tried a new book Blood Wager by Connie Suttle – book 1 in her Blood Destiny series. I really enjoyed it. I really like the heroine Lissa – a newly turned vampire. It’s fun hearing her complain about her new life not coming with a manual. I must say the ending annoyed me mostly because I wanted to thump one of the male characters round the head. When you start composing rants as you lie down to sleep dressing a character down for their behaviour you know you have been well and truly sucked into a series.
To distract myself from my spiraling rage I went back to visualizing my latest fantasy novel idea. I really should be trying to visualize in the novel I’ve already started but right now I don’t have the heart for it. I hope that I’ll feel more myself as the summer draws near and will then tackle the Moon Daughter project. In the meantime I’ve been dreaming up new worlds and characters. My ‘what-if’ from a couple of posts back (8th March 2013) has matured into 3 fleshed out characters, a world magic system, 2 local environments and 3 visualized scenes. This is still a very early phase though. I am nowhere near having a plot or character arc in sight!

Well now that I am done working for the day I shall head off to read the next book on my list either A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold or Blood Passage by Connie Suttle.

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 5 hours in 1 session :-(
Headache intensity / pain level : 2 :-D
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 2 :-D
Fatigue : 4.5 :-)
Brain Fog : 5 :-|

Trying to train a young dog in old tricks …

Wow, I can’t believe it has been 10 days since my last blog. I am struggling to get back into old habits. Partly this is because my laptop was stolen away by my mum for a few days. She needed my Vista since her Windows 8 was not cooperating with her. My other reasons include recovering from major life events.

 

In the UK if you are disabled and need support with your care at home you can apply for a benefit called Disability Living Allowance. This comes in several different levels but in previous years I have been on the lowest rate for the care support and the highest rate for mobility. Basically the highest rate for mobility is not much money but it does include an automatic right to a Blue Badge which gives you access to yellow line parking. So when I reapplied in 2011 it was the expectation that my benefits would be continued as usual though it is always a very process in and of itself. Shockingly I was turned down completely. They seemed to think that I had been cured!! So over the last year we have been going through the appeals process. It finally culminated with a face to face tribunal on Tuesday of last week.

 

The tribunal was three people across a desk from me and my mum. By prior consent I was not told of the date of the tribunal until the day before. This cut out all the days of worrying I would otherwise of wasted my time on. With only 24 hours notice I was in surprisingly calm frame of mind as we arrived. Due to inclement weather the tribunal was running behind but this did not bother me. I had my Kindle with me after all. Still I was pleasingly calm when we finally entered the session some 60 mins after our arrival. The session itself went very well. I tried to follow my mum’s advice to pause and count to 5 before answering. I have a tendency to rush in with an answer that is then usual not entirely accurate. The questions themselves were offered in a very gentle way. I was frightened that I might end up being cross-examined or with hostile questioning but the panel were very mild in their tone. A mere hour later it was all over. We trundled home in the snow to await the result. On Thursday I was informed by post that I was to be awarded the lowest rate care and mobility back dated to the decision in 2011. Yeah!!! :-D

 

This of course would be quite enough of an outing to incapacitate me for a few days but on Thursday I was roused from my prone position to celebrate my sister’s birthday. This was to be a big occasion – not her birthday but the first occasion of meeting her boyfriend of 3 months. We went into the nearby large town to eat at our favourite Greek restaurant. The food was spectacular as usual. We, under strict orders, managed to not embarrass my sister too much. I certainly enjoyed a chance to see her young man in person. He certainly managed to cope with us for one evening to his credit!

 

Now as the new week begins I am still trying to pick myself up from last week. With my Open University assignment due in on Wednesday this week hopefully my brain will start co-operating soon.

 

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 13 hours in 2 sessions :-|
Headache intensity / pain level : 2 :-D
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 2 :-D
Fatigue : 6 :-(
Brain Fog : 5.5 :-(

Beware: Hibernating readers may wake at anytime…

Hello World. Yes I might actually be back. Despite my absence for 65 days I did not in fact forget about you I just had a bout of computer phobia. When my M.E. related depression gets bad I get anxious just thinking about turning on the computer. I won’t even nip on my mum’s which is almost always running to check email. So all my online activities have suffered from my complete absence. It is quite amazing how many emails you can stockpile in two months.

 

While I’ve been hibernating there have been many developments. Today’s cumulative good news is that my sister is now officially a doctor of philosophy in Psychology. She submitted her corrections a week ago or so. Her confirmation letter came in the post this morning and she is on her way to collect her certificate this afternoon. So we now have a doctor in the house! :-)

 

In other news my mum has completed her radiotherapy sessions and is now dealing with the aftermath. Her arm is still very sore from the surgery at Christmas. But at least she is not having to go the hospital every day as she was for the radiotherapy treatment. Otherwise she has weathered this storm with her usual unruffled grace.

 

As I attempt to drag myself out of my winter cave I find myself tripping over Open University textbooks. My first assignment is due in on the 20th March. Amazingly in 2 days I have completed 60 marks out of 40 so have a presentable assignment already at this stage. Of the remaining 40 marks one question looks relatively simple and the other one looks like my worst nightmare. In fact the question heading says ‘tests your ability to select and relate material from various topics’. Arr! :-( There is also the ‘note you should not need more than 600 words’ warning flag. I absolutely hate paragraph or long answer questions. Give me a diagram to draw or convert, or code to write and I’m happy. Ask me to ‘briefly distinguish between terms’ and I’m looking on the question of doom. Still I shall solider on and at least attempt to put some sentences together I might be able to pick a few marks.

 

On the topic of putting together sentences – work on my novel halted back in November. I haven’t yet come out of my cave far enough to resume writing. However I have been the recipient of another writers brainwave. I have been pondering fairy stories again. This time what would happen if the evil fairy at Sleeping Beauty’s christening instead of wishing for death at the pricking of her finger on a spindle simply wished that all the other fairies’ wishes came true precisely. What if your skin actually was as white as snow? Perhaps as cold and wet as well? I’ve been having an interesting time thinking about the impact of those seemingly benign wishes. Now I’m working on why the different factions of fairies/witches might exist and what the king’s reaction is going to be to all this. Anyway it keeps me entertained as I lie on the acupuncture table each week and before I drift of to sleep at night.

 

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 1 session :-)
Headache intensity / pain level : 2 :-)
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 3 :-)
Fatigue : 3 :-)
Brain Fog : 3.5 :-)

Where’s the Prince for a Reading Beauty? …

I am officially attempting to claw my way out of a Kindle coma. I have read 238 books since the beginning of December. That works out at something like 9 books a day! This is my standard way to deal with stress – retreat into my bedroom with a pile of books or in this case my Kindle.

The main source of my stress has been my mum’s ongoing situation. She had her surgery on Christmas Eve and came home Christmas morning. I was stressed out on the 23rd before we took her into hospital. Mum got a lot of hugs as I hung onto her as she waited out the ticking clock for us to head out. But once we at the hospital it was a calm experience. She was in a  really small ward of 6 beds with 2 nurses. Everyone was really friendly. Mum was very calm about it all so that really helped me be calm as well. Her surgery was uneventful and she enjoyed an evening of rest before coming home to us. Christmas Day was strange with my sister and dad going to get her, then naps all around so that presents weren’t opened until 9pm.

My best presents were the ones I bought and gave. I got two board games that we are now enjoying as a family. The time spent with them is my best Christmas present. I did get a beautiful bracelet from my best friend made with lava from Mount Etna. This way I can have a bit of Sicily with me everyday as a reminder of my best friend’s new adventure abroad. My best friend and I met up for a delicious Indian meal on Saturday. I haven’t been out without a family member since I last saw her in March/April time. We had a wonderful catch up. I look forward to seeing her again in the summer when she gets back from her job.

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 2 sessions :-|
Headache intensity / pain level : 1 :-D
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 2 :-D
Fatigue : 6 :-|
Brain Fog : 5.5 :-|

Sometimes it rains and sometimes it pours …

So this week I have had my first physiotherapy appointment; an awards dinner where my mum got an award for her work for charity; my usual acupuncture appointment and my sister put in her very first job application last night. Still to come  my sister has her viva tomorrow and my mum is making hospital visits for her pre-op tests. Honestly it is completely manic in out household.

 

My physiotherapy session went really well. I was stressed out beforehand but Faith was really nice. She gave me some positional breathing exercises to improve my rib muscle strength. Hopefully this will increase my deep breathing ability increasing my blood oxygen levels and so making me feel a bit better. I also asked her about Graded Exercise and she suggested using the Wii Fit Balance game so I shall be trying that out once I’ve recovered from this week!

 

The awards ceremony was amazing. My mum was nominated as a Community Champion for her work helping parents get the right support for their special needs children in schools. It was wonderful to see her go up and be recognized for the fabulous work she does. The pictures from the night aren’t up yet but I shall post one when they are.

 

My sister held a family pow-pow to get her job application read and checked by all of us before sending it off. We are excited and nervous for her. Of course we would love for her to get the job. It would be an amazing opportunity for her and only about 90 minutes away from home. But I would be a little sad as well as she would be moving out. I love our evenings of watching tv together and they will be sadly missed. Still we are in the earlier stages at the moment. We are hoping she will get shortlisted and get the opportunity to experience going to interview and what the process is like even if she doesn’t get the job.

 

Today all eyes turn to my sister’s viva tomorrow. At least 2 hours maybe as many as 7 hours being grilled on the contents of her doctoral thesis. I’m not worried for her. I know that she did amazing work and that it is well written. As long as she can string a sentence together and has a reasonably good explanation of her work she will pass with flying colours. Still we can’t help be a little bit nervous!

 

Of course the major back of the head worry at the moment is my mum. She went in for one round of pre-op tests today with another lot tomorrow. I shall be joining her at the crack of dawn as we trek off to the hospital to undergo such joys as an ECG and blood taking. While I’m not worried about the actual cancer I am concerned about the stress of the process we’re going to go through. Thankfully we’ll have a break over Christmas while her wound heals from the surgery before radiotherapy begins in mid to late January. I’m feeling pretty calm about her outcome but stressed about the details. A day spent waiting around for tests is not my idea of fun! Still I intend to be there to hold her hand and entertain her regardless of how early I have to get up. :-D

 

On a lighter note, yesterday was the first day of snow this winter! Apparently it fell in about 30 minutes and was really only 1/2 to 1 inch in depth. But it caused chaos on the roads as everyone slowed down and then the snow melt caused road flooding which was interesting. It took my sister 1 hour and 45 minutes to do a 20 minute journey. Worse news is that we are forecast snow again tomorrow so we shall have to set off extra early. We are planning to leave an hour to do a 20 minute trip and hope for the best. If we don’t encounter any problems we shall just sit around and run my sister through her practice questions until we need to leave for the hospital.

 

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 11 hours in 1 sessions :-)
Headache intensity / pain level : 1 :-D
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 3 :-|
Fatigue : 5 :-|
Brain Fog : 5 :-)

The best bad news ever …

Yesterday was the big day – my mum got her news. Bad news – yes it is breast cancer; Good news – it is Stage 1 which means there is no sign it has moved to her lymph nodes. It is highly treatable and survivable. Women in the age bracket 60-69 have the highest survival rate of all diagnosed groups; 90% make it to the five year mark.  She is scheduled for surgery to remove the lump followed by radiotherapy after that.

 

We are all in shock at the moment. My mum thought this might be the outcome but the rest of us were still thinking happy thoughts. It’s hard to say how I’m feeling. Stressed I think. Trying to think ahead to how to help her the most. I’m afraid but mostly because who wants to see their mum sick and in pain? Overall I’m not worried. Everybody dies. I would be personally devastated if we were to lose my mum now but I am going to lose her eventually. I could lose her anytime she gets into her car so this is not so different. I wonder if cancer is actually more survivable given the risk of injury and death on the roads. Now we just have to make doubly sure that she knows we love her and will always be here for her.

 

On top of all this my sister still has her Viva approaching – a large source of stress in our household. She is making good progress but still it does seem like everything comes at once! Of course after a day like yesterday I’m in pain mode today but I shall be crawling back into bed soon. Dark is best. :-D

 

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 2 sessions :-(
Headache intensity / pain level : 5 :-(
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 4 :-|
Fatigue : 6 :-|
Brain Fog : 6 :-|

Stop the world I want to get off …

Yesterday I felt like the world was on a roller coaster. As long as I kept my head still, eyes open and no flashing lights I just felt mildly dizzy rather than like I was on a teacup ride. Surprisingly I’m not feeling to bad today. A bit more headachy than usual but not horrendous. I even managed about 45 minutes working on checking my sister’s thesis. She wants me to do some basic checks in the run up to her viva. She now has a date so it is all steam head. 11 days and counting!! Eeek :-S

 

It is now only 48 hours until we will know the outcome for my mum’s test results. As calm as we have all been so far I think the tension is going to ratchet up as the hours tick down. Certainly I’m expecting to feel pretty nervous on Wednesday. Given her history the lump is likely to be benign but she is a high risk group for breast cancer so we really have no idea. Whatever happens we’ll be there to support her but still it is a little scary to contemplate all the possible outcomes. We shall keep praying for good news.

 

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 9 hours in 1 sessions :-D
Headache intensity / pain level : 2 :-D
Nausea level : 0 :-D
Joint / muscle pain : 4 :-|
Fatigue : 4 :-)
Brain Fog : 5 :-|