Tag: household

Two hospital visits and “The Gas Man Cometh”!

The past week has been a mix of unexpected, scary, painful, exciting, relief and changes.

I had been feeling worse than usual physically but had put it down to all the flu bugs around, cold weather and the fact I had been very stressed in the preceding month. However, it wasn’t flu. Just over a week ago I had some horrible symptoms I won’t detail here. On calling 111 for advice they sent an ambulance straight away. At the hospital I was found to have [ahem alert don’t read whilst eating your dinner!] bowel obstruction. Thankfully they had caught it in time before things became more serious (if left, it can cause a rupture in the intestines). I had IVs and they erm, did what they had to to clear it, X-rays, then I had to have more IVs for fluids. I ended up being readmitted the next day because I was having symptoms again so it was a scary couple of days. They would have kept me in but there was a bed shortage. I’m home now with several medications and guidelines to follow about diet and drinking enough.

I am so thankful this was spotted in time and treated. The doctors, nurses and HCAs were all kind and caring and made some scary, nasty things as okay as possible, and reassured me. They were busy but still took time.

I have some changes to make now. I have had to stop several of my medications because their side effects could now cause problems with my bowels. I need to discuss this with the GP to find alternative medicines and ways to manage because I needed their beneficial effects (eg for pain relief). Fortunately I’m due to see a specialist pain clinic in a month’s time. Also, I’ve been told to cut out wheat from my diet to see if this makes a difference. Even though I don’t have celiacs, some people can have other problems with wheat. Bowel problems do occur as a complication in other conditions I have (fibromyalgia, POTS and hypermobility syndrome) and people can find going wheat free to be helpful. I’ve started this and so far thankfully I am not missing wheat too much at all, though I’m still only able to eat a little so that may be why.

I’m hopeful that with these changes I can keep things better, though we don’t really know exactly why the obstruction happened. In the meantime I’m fighting not to get too down through some of the difficult effects I’m still going through. I am very achy, pain is worse as I’ve had to stop some of the medications, and I’m still stupidly weak physically (the fibromyalgia is badly exacerbated which again is to be expected as after any illness). I have had bladder incontinence for years because of the fibromyalgia and nervous system problems; since the bowel obstruction this is much worse and now distressing bowel urgency and leaking if I can’t go right away, are added to that. I’m praying this is temporary or at least that the GP can refer me back for some help when I see her next wek. I used to be too disgusted and ashamed to admit to that side of things but now after everything that’s happened in the last few years it doesn’t seem such a horrendous thing to admit it, though I still get upset and feel horrible when I have worse incidents.

The other problem that has loomed large is I had no heating or hot water for 23 days! The most incredible saga unfolded between my landlord, the boiler maintenance people and the boiler manufacturer and fault after fault was found with my boiler and the flue.

This song seemed apt!*

Thanks be to God, as of this evening everything is fixed! I had a most enjoyable and appreciated shower. Boiling kettles to wash up, clean and have a wash was not the most fun, though it’s what my grandparents did daily as a matter of course. It has been very cold some of the days I was without heating and a friend very kindly lent me a portable electric radiator. On the plus side, I’m likely to be entitled to compensation for the multiple mistakes made and inconvenience caused. I have to apply for that from my housing association.

In more exciting news, today I attended the first session at the Recovery College, which I’ll post more on shortly. It was an introduction to how one can become involved in mental health research, bringing a service user or “lived experience” perspective. It was more inspiring than I’d expected and left me feeling I have something of value I could bring to shape research materials, methods and how research findings are communicated.

Another brilliant event this week is that my friend who has been homeless for a long time, has at long last got a place in a hostel. It’s a good hostel in a safe area. By no means is this an end to his difficulties but it is a blessed answer to prayers and struggles to navigate the way through the council, the housing list, support agencies, forms, waiting lists, assessments, phonecalls….it goes on. What he’s going through is terrible and scary however I pray this is the beginning of safety and a little stability. Thanks be to God, from the depths of my heart, thanks be to God.

Ginny xxx

*”The Gas Man Cometh” by Flanders & Swann. Thanks to Hawkmoon for the video.

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Update long overdue!

It is a really hectic, up and down time at the moment and I’m much overdue posting. It has been hard to gather my words. I don’t make a habit of 2am posts – certainly not the best time of day for coherent writing – but I did not get to finish this earlier and it felt important to write before a big change coming up for me in the morning.

Belatedly, wishing you good things this New Year. I think I can just about say this since it’s still January! I’m praying that positive times and opportunities come for you and God’s blessings are shown to you to encourage you each day.

January is always a strange time, cold and empty in a way, after Christmas. Right now, so much seems unsettled, in the world, for my loved ones and in my personal life. I’ve written that before not long ago and of course it has not magically changed with the new year; if anything it seems all the more apparent. I’m trying to give generously of time and resources and friendship, for example to friends in need, and that’s how we encounter Christ in every day. But I’m feeling twisted apart inside because I come up against my limitations, what I cannot give and cannot resolve.  The family in my block, both of the partners seriously ill, whose Benefits have been suspended unresolved for weeks so they have no food, heating or electricity. My friend who has already suffered terribly and now faces more surgical procedures, my friend who has been homeless for almost a year and whose life may be in danger… to the thousands on thousands of people seeking asylum, the fear taking hold giving weight to insular policies that seem to offer protection but perhaps already spiral out of control. (The Mexico border “wall” seems to me to teetering somewhere between bizarre Divergent- trilogy-esque images and more than echoes of the Cold War era eastern block policies.)

I steer away from political issues in this blog but I think this turmoil hits ever closer to home. We hope that in times of hardship we come together and hold onto what matters most but I’m starting to think a certain level of hardship and fear brings only divisions. Then again, in my faith I believe somehow this must not be true because Jesus became Man to suffer and experience everything we suffer and go through. And He is all Love. Love came here, into the darkness and despair. Nothing changes Jesus. The despair and dark and hurt didn’t change Him, didn’t change love. So Love is here, Love suffers and struggles, but isn’t extinguished, so even in the hardest times, it’s love that remains – not division and conflict . I mustn’t lose sight of that.

This post has diverged somewhat from the update I originally planned. Probably to do with the fact that it’s 2am. I’m going to try to get back on track.

Since Christmas, I feel I have not been able to catch up at all. Usually, I have a big clear out, going through cupboards and drawers and so on and decluttering. I haven’t managed this at all. I’m frustrated with myself that I can’t keep on top of the housework at all. My emotions are bubbling over and have been for some time and I feel I have no resilience to cope with straightforward things. Saying that, maybe a lot is happening at the moment. I’m about to be discharged from the personality disorders community service I’ve had therapy in for the past 2 years. I’ve been trying to find support and things I can get in place for after my discharge. This has not been easy and actually it has been quite distressing because I have been promised a lot of treatment I haven’t had and I’m left with major mental health issues unadressed. On the positive side, I have made contact with a peer support worker and Recovery Coach who are going to help me short term and I think this will be really valuable. I have also signed up for some courses at a Recovery College, which I’ll post about (and explain) next week.

My physical health is not going through a great patch just now. The cold always makes the pain worse so that’s part of the reason. I have had to give in to the fact I need a wheelchair sometimes now and I’m looking at getting a mobility scooter. At least this will help me be less isolated and take a little stress away perhaps, because I’ll be more able to take part in things outside my home, like my volunteer work.

Practically at home, I am going rapidly up the wall at the company who should be repairing my boiler. I have had problem upon problem since November and now have no heating or hot water. I feel they have handled the whole thing terribly (7 canceled appointments for a start, having to phone 6 times to arrange a very simple thing, and so on, then them accusing me falsely of missing appointments). Ggrrr!! I know this is just part of life but in the state I’m in at the moment, I can’t cope with this, and feel very frustrated with myself for that. My emotions explode out of all control. Then I get angry with myself because so many people are going through so much worse.

A close friend has serious housing issues as well as a huge number of health problems. I’m trying to be there and do what I can. Cook hot food and support him with form filling and trying to get him a support worker who could help. It is a little way I can try to help and use the knowledge I’ve gathered from my own housing issues in the past.

I’m going to stop here. Later this morning is my last group therapy session and this will be a really really hard lot of goodbyes. I’ve been writing thank-yous and goodbyes, some of the hardest cards I’ve ever had to write. I’m sure I’ll write more about this last session and ending therapy, in the coming days. At the moment I’m struggling to find the words. I’ve cried so much today.

Ginny xxx

 

 

Magic carpet – update :)

My carpets were fitted a week ago.  I still feel surprised each morning as I get out of bed and step onto squishy carpet instead of cold bare floor! It has made even more difference than I expected. The simple carpet makes a much gentler effect than all the mis-matched off-cuts and rugs I was making do with. It feels luscious underfoot – really soft and springy. I did not expect that. It’s cosier, literally too as it seems much warmer; I think the extra insulation it provides will cut my heating bills.

As the fitting day approached, I was so nervous and felt panicked about coordinating everything and about being able to get the furniture moved since I can’t do it myself because of my physical disability. Thoughts of postponing the date came to the fore, though I knew that would not be a good idea. I’m so pleased I went through with it now. I had the help of knowledgeable, patient staff in the carpet shop and the very personable carpet fitter, not to mention my dad and step-mum and friends L and S’s encouragement to go ahead.

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For some reason, now the carpet is done I’m more inclined to do other things to make my home pretty, for example, I’m looking forward to repainting where it’s greatly needed, or even very simply putting up a Christmas tree this year. This is a hard time of year for me as for many people, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to decorate for several Christmases. Yesterday, I bought a little tree.

Ginny xxx

Magic carpet time

“…and I’ve been wanting a word with you, too, Arthur,” said Mr Crouch, his sharp eyes falling upon Mr Weasley. “Ali Bashir’s on the warpath. He wants a word with you about your embargo on flying carpets.”

Mr Weasley heaved a deep sigh. “I sent him an owl about that just last week. If I’ve told him once I’ve told him a hundred times: carpets are defined as a Muggle Artefact by the Registry of Proscribed Charmable Objects, but will he listen?”

“I doubt it,” said Mr Crouch, accepting a cup from Percy.

“He’s desperate to export here.”

“Well, they’ll never replace brooms in Britain, will they?” said Bagman.

“Ali thinks there’s a niche in the market for a family vehicle,” said Mr Crouch. “I remember my grandfather had an Axminster that could seat twelve – but that was before carpets were banned, of course.”

(From “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J K Rowling)

The long-awaited day has arrived. My carpets are being fitted in my flat today. I’ve been here 1 year 9 months and it has taken til now to have the resources – financially and mentally – to get this done. Right now I’m feeling very anxious and tired. It has been a big job getting all my furniture moved, cleaning and painting (the skirting boards for example, where I don’t want to get paint on the carpets). I’ve done the last bits this morning; my legs are shaking now and the pain’s really bad but I’m so pleased I’ve done it. The fitters will be here any time now. It will be so much cosier with carpets, as well as being easier to clean and probably reducing my heating bills too. I think the colour will work well and be quite calming.

There are some amusing moments to come, I’m sure! For example, I’ve moved most of the furniture to the kitchen, which is not being carpeted. I can’t fit any more in there now. So where could I put everything that I then had to empty from the hall and bedroom cupboards and wardrobe?

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Yup, in the bath, of course! 🙂

I’ll post some before and after shots later.

Have you got anything exciting happening in your week?

Ginny xxx

A Very Hungry Caterpillar finds a home

I found this little guy when I was sweeping my patio. I thought he’d prefer a nice leaf to curl up on, rather than the paving stones.

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I am trying to tidy up my patio garden. It isn’t big at all – I have a patio door that opens onto a very small paved area and then a small flower bed beyond. I haven’t given this little space the attention I should since I moved in, largely as my physical challenges make gardening tiring and painful. Plus I’ve never particularly enjoyed it!

This week I’ve made the promise to start caring for it better. It is a blessing that I have this little outside space. I didn’t expect it at all and living in a flat it’s a privilege to have any garden. It’s a help for everything from being able to hang out washing to getting to sit outside, breathe, pray, ground myself in all the sensations of outdoors, and feel less isolated when I’m not well enough to walk far – I don’t have to stay totally indoors.

So I want to behave more thankfully for my little garden and take care of it and find ways in which, just maybe, I can create something pretty. It can be part of learning to give some time to creating a permanent and stable home, which I’m really not used to having, as until I came to this flat I was living between different kinds of shared and temporary accommodation where most of the time I stayed shut away in my one room, too scared of interacting with other people and too locked into my obsessional thoughts and hallucinations to leave it unless I could fulfil my compulsive behaviors and unless I could be sure I’d see no-one. I’ve had to leave so many places when I lost jobs, couldn’t make the rent, broke down mentally and was so disturbed I’d be asked to leave by the people I was living with.

Some level of security (though I’m not without financial problems) is a new thing for me and it’s hard to build on it. Any home I have, I expect to lose. Actually, for some strange reason i haven’t figured out yet, having a home and taking responsibility for it frequently fills me with panic. I feel like I’m losing control or can’t manage it, I’m out of control with everything I’d want to be in order (paperwork or cleaning etc) or other times I’m not sure what I’m scared of; something to do with I’m not allowed my safety, knowing it’ll be taken away, fears of being attacked or watched by my abuser and flashbacks associated to particular places in my flat. Having said that, I can feel safe in my home and I even have a place within my home where I surround myself with comforting and grounding things that help me stay safe when I’m dissociating, having flashbacks, the emotions are too much, and the like. I thank God for that. It’s so important for me to learn how to build on this otherwise I ignore the goodness of everything I have. Giving myself permission to trust in having security and knowing how to create an ordered home that I care for and give thanks for, is a new thing to me. I’m trying to take some little steps towards it, with my garden and trying gradually to bring more order to each room in my home.

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(Thanks so much to Cathy and her lovely blog at  https://cathylynnbrooks.com/ for reminding me how nice it is hanging out washing in the sunshine 🙂 – and as ever encouraging me so much to appreciate the beauty of the present moment in the little things. )

Ginny xxx

Ten dishes – #1

Cooking has long been something I struggle with.

I struggle to do it because of the pain and lack of strength that comes with my physical health problems. After a day at work it’s too much to cook as well. Plus, I tend to crave junk food when I feel rubbish physically. Also, when I’m feeling low and anxious and the voices are loud or I’m mad with myself, it’s very hard to allow myself to prepare nice food for myself. There’s so much guilt and conflicting emotions associated with eating.

I used to be a fairly competent cook. Actually I used to prepare all my and many of the family’s meals from the age of 9 or so, as my mother stopped attending to that aspect of life for many years,  as her mental health worsened. It used to be something I enjoyed. It made me feel “grown up” and responsible and I enjoyed trying new recipes. But recently I’ve totally lost that confidence, apart from liking to bake for friends sometimes.

So, I have decided to set myself a little challenge of learning to prepare ten different savory dishes, to try to rediscover some of the positive sides of cooking and be a better hostess on the rare occasions someone does come over. Here’s the first attempt – cottage pie. My friend came to stay for a couple of nights so I made it for our dinner. That gave me good motivation to do it. My friend liked it so that was a positive start.

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I’ll be trying to prepare low budget meals as money is still very tight. Perhaps that will make it interesting to share ideas here too for anyone else in a similar situation.

Hope today is a good day for you.

Ginny xxx

 

Silly post, but just to hold myself to it!

This is a pretty silly post but I’m writing it here in order to hold myself to it, because if I write it here I’ve made the commitment to all of you (lovely readers) as well as myself.

I went to group this morning. I’m so boiling with feelings and hurt and loss and anger (not with group or anyone in it but with the whole PD Service). I desperately need to shut off and the best ways I know without help are things that hurt me. And it’s very possible I could just go home and do that and dissociate or literally knock myself out. I am going to try to make myself take another action instead.

I commit that this afternoon I will write a card to send something to my step-sister that she needs. Then I will clean in every room in my flat. It is in a complete state as i have not cleaned or cared for it in the state I’ve been in in the last two weeks. I may not finish all of it but I will vacuum everywhere and I will clean at least three things in every room (it’s a small flat!).

And to keep going in the promises I made in my commitment to getting better, 5 things I’m thankful for today are:

  • I have a flat of my own to live in (well I say my own; it’s rented but it’s home and I’m blessed to have my place and my safe space).
  • I went to therapy today and talked about horrible feelings and the other members of the group listened and didn’t treat me like a freak. They actually seemed to understand.
  • I saw an old friend yesterday who I have not met in years. She seemed happy and well and she’s having a baby very soon.
  • My step-sister and I are getting in contact with each other more.
  • Um… I didn’t have to wait ages for the bus back to town after therapy, does that count 🙂 ?!

I’m wishing for something good to happen to you today.

Ginny xxx

Making it home

Today, I had some new furniture delivered – fantastic bargains in a local furniture charity shop. (The large number of charity shops round here is a particular blessing for those of us on a tight budget and possibly more creativity than money 🙂 .) So I spent the best part of the day re-arranging and cleaning and installing the items.

I have been in my flat several months now and it is my first place of my own, as opposed to renting a single room as lodger. I am thankful beyond words to finally have a housing association flat. Without this I would never have been able to afford to rent a whole flat as rents are incredibly high here. I cannot believe this place should be mine and thank the Lord for it every day.

I was a lodger in a family home before moving here. The family could not have been nicer and gave me privacy but I was struggling a lot, just as I had been in all my previous properties. That was probably one reason I moved around so much. Apart from financial issues or having to move when jobs ended and new jobs started, getting to a new place sometimes provided a temporary illusion of escape. When the illusion came crashing down it would just be worse than ever.

Anyhow, at the last place my OCD and obsessional thoughts were very hard to cope with and hide and my anxiety was increased because there was a young baby in the household, which seemed to increase my fears that I would cause people harm. At my worst times, which was becoming most of the time, I would dread bumping into anyone in the shared kitchen and having to speak, so I just stopped preparing food. The close proximity to others made me want to run and hide. So hide I did, in my room, which was the only place to spend time anyway, since there was not a shared lounge, only a kitchen (and bathroom, but that’s not exactly the place for small talk or hanging out). Then once I was in my room for any length of time, I felt trapped. The panic attacks, flashbacks and terrifying thoughts would come and there was literally nowhere to run.  There was not anywhere to go to get a breathing space or a different environment or to be in a different place for a while to help me step out of what was happening in my head. I’d lie on the bed or sit on the chair and do my best to employ the distraction or self-soothing techniques the clinicians told me but feel I was just suffocating in the world inside my head.

I can’t say how helpful it now is to have more space. It turns out that it really is true that you rest better when the bedroom is set apart as a relaxing place. I have the space I need in the kitchen to cook when I am able to. It is rare that I am able to at the moment, for many reasons, but the fact that I have my own kitchen does at least increase the likelihood that I will prepare food. My lounge is cosy and I’m even so fortunate as to have a view out to the communal garden. I have a very tiny garden and a flowerbed and although I do not enjoy gardening, I do like to keep it tidy and there is a certain satisfaction in pulling the weeds from the earth to let the little plants breathe.

In some way, I can begin to make this flat my own. Having a place where I can start to feel safe in the space, make some choices about how to lay it out, use my creativity to make it the way that I enjoy and even bring other people into it, makes it a home. Caring for it (cleaning, tidying, doing the little flower bed outside, feeling thankful for what I have) gives a constructive focus.

Much as I was longing for a home for a long time, I am still surprised at the difference that it makes to have one. Often I do not realise the value of doing something quite simple towards making it more of a home – such as tidying and choosing how to arrange things, as I did today, or perhaps painting the walls the colour that you like. Even on the very bad days, being in this home makes it slightly better, somehow. Maybe it’s a little bit less scary, a little bit safer, a little less unpredictable, a little more space, or a little bit more of beautiful or positive things around me.

Thank you dear Lord, for HOME.

Ginny xx