Sunday, 28 July 2013

Doctor, Doctor...

I wasn’t able to write my blog last week due to unexpectedly being in hospital.  In May I had a perfectly straightforward operation but encountered complications.  Blood clotting problems.  Haematoma.  A massive infection.  What should have been a two week recovery period took over two months.  I didn’t really give the whys and wherefores a second thought.  But never mind, because the annual summer holiday was looming and that would put me right.  I’d only been on the aircraft half an hour when my ankles swelled up.  I put it down to my age – old lady ankles were surely perfectly acceptable once entering your fifties.  After all, if nobody had invented wax strips, I’d still be sporting an old lady fluffy chin.
On arriving at Chania Airport for the return flight home, a holiday rep insisted I see a doctor.  I had to have a ‘safe to fly’ certificate as, by this point, my swollen ankles had also become swollen calves.  Once home in England, I elevated my legs and got back to work.  I was far too busy to trouble doctors.  However, one week later I had two legs like tree trunks.  I finally took myself to the GP to check it out.  The GP suggested a blood test to make sure the kidneys were in good working order.  And that, I thought, was that.
Twenty-four hours later I had a phone call with my GP sounding frantic and telling me I must drop everything and go to A&E.  I was horrified.  I was diagnosed with CML.  I can’t spell it and I’m not going to look it up on the internet because then you see all the negative stuff, and I’m not buying into that. On the plus side, I have been told there is a good success rate and although the condition cannot be cured, it can be ‘put to sleep’, which means staying on a drug for the rest of my life.  I’m not buying into that either, and my haematologist has agreed that in three months time I can check out alternative practitioners.  But right now, I’m just tremendously happy to know that I have a future.
Whilst in hospital awaiting results of blood and bone marrow tests, my sister told me to keep calm by meditating.  So I gave it a whirl and, despite being sceptical, actually had some mind blowing experiences.  I simply had to write it down.  So I’m now working on a very short book (or a very long essay, depending which way you look at it) about this one week of my life which spanned both despair and great joy.  I think the meditations may carry a message for others.  It will be called ‘100’ because that number kept cropping up time and again as I wrote.
Which reminds me.  A schoolboy told his parents, ‘I got 100 in my maths test and still didn’t pass.’  ‘Oh dear, why ever not?’ asked his mum.  ‘Because the answer was 200...’

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Mind the Step...

Mind the Step...

I have a new book out, The Ex Factor, and it’s like nothing I’ve ever written before.  The prompt for writing this was being a step-parent.  They say being a parent is the hardest job in the world.  I disagree.  I think being a step-parent is the hardest job in the world.
My first husband had been married before and I ‘inherited’ a delightful little boy.  His mum was also lovely and I was extremely fortunate to have a good relationship with her.  Indeed we spent many a Christmas and New Year together.  When my first husband died and I re-married, I found myself inheriting another step-child.  Things couldn’t have been more different.
Step-parenting can be a joy.  It can also be agony.  In stressful times, family mediation is a Godsend – if all family members can be persuaded to go.  If they can’t be persuaded...well sadly the problems will remain.  Problems that can test a marriage to breaking point.
If you have a trawl through step-parent forums, you will find a small army of both men and women with an overwhelming desire to offload about their lot – which in itself is very therapeutic.  Step-parenting is a huge pot of bubbling emotions, and after reading so much ‘out there’, I simply had to put it all into a book.  And if you’re a step-parent reading it, I’m afraid there is no magic wand or easy answer.  As one person said, try and keep love in your heart because, at the end of the day, you can’t fight love.
Which reminds me.  A wife said to her husband, ‘If I were to die first, would you remarry?’  ‘Well,’ said the husband, ‘I’m in good health, so why not?’  ‘Would she live in my house?’            ‘It’s all paid up, so yes.’  ‘Would she drive my car?’  ‘It’s new, so yes.’  ‘Would she use my golf clubs?’  ‘No.  She’s left-handed.’

Sunday, 7 July 2013


Having just returned from ten nights in Crete, I cannot believe how quickly this holiday came and went.  It was a joy from start to finish.  Holiday moods are always enhanced knowing you will have guaranteed sunshine and a true blue sea on your hotel doorstep.  And what a stunning hotel!  Not to mention the joys of being waited on hand, foot and finger.  To have all your meals prepared.  To have a maid change your sheets every day and sparkle the en-suite bathroom.  Heaven!
My only complaint – if you can even call it that – is that the bathroom was a bit of a squeeze when the three of us were in it together vying for the mirror.  The wall mounted hairdryer, right by the sink, had a habit of bursting into life every time one of our shoulders accidentally nudged it.  There was an iffy moment when the hairdryer hose fell into a sink full of Mr V’s shaving water, but no lights fused and nothing went bang.

The hotel entertained the guests every other night.  I was particularly enthralled with the Monday night DJ who played non-stop music from the late seventies.  Suddenly I was transported back in time and, much to my daughter’s horror, dancing in my flip-flops to Chic’s Le Freak, the iconic Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, and Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff.  Spot the teenager slunk down in her seat thoroughly disowning her mother.  On the ‘quiet’ nights, we entertained ourselves.  This involved a pack of cards and a chess board.  Mr V regards himself as potential World Class Champion.  Sitting down on a backless chair, he re-taught me the chess moves.  By Game Six I’d cottoned on and had his Queen screaming for mercy.  Funny how my husband had a sudden loss of interest in the game.  ‘You’re a bad loser,’ I pointed out.  ‘I let you win,’ he retorted leaning backwards and quite forgetting his chair had no back.  Oops...

Sharing a family room has its disadvantages.  It’s always a race who can get to sleep first in order to avoid being kept awake by Mr V’s snoring.  One night it was me to hit the pillow and instantly zonk out.  Hurrah!  The victory was short-lived.  I was awoken by my daughter touching my arm.  Pat-pat, pat-pat.  ‘What?’ I opened a pair of bleary eyes.  ‘He’s snoring,’ she jerked her head in the gloom, ‘give him a shove.’  ‘Why can’t you give him a shove?’ I grumbled. ‘Because you’re the nearest,’ she replied sweetly before turning over and zonking out herself.  Naturally I was left to stare at the ceiling for the next three hours listening to sounds comparable to a farrowing pig.

No holiday is complete without an excursion.  Ours was a trip on a catamaran.  As the boat made its way out to sea and lurched over some rather big waves, I experienced for the first time a feeling of...well...being a bit poorly.  And I wasn’t alone.  Several people were at the back of the boat in the shade, so I took myself off to join them thinking a little less sun might help.  It transpired that these people were actually in the process of, um, you know, being poorly.  Oh no!  I went swiftly into reverse – straight into the Captain.  ‘You okay?’ he smiled courteously, ‘you no wanna be sick?’  ‘No thanks,’ I trilled.  He smiled again, ‘Happy fish today!’  Oh God.  I fluttered a hand to my mouth and made my way back to the front of the catamaran.  Fortunately, an hour later I had my seafaring legs and my stomach was back to being cast iron.  Which was just as well because the trip lasted six hours.  There were, however, two swim stops allowing for some snorkelling or just bobbing about in deep crystal clear waters, plus a lunch stop in a taverna overlooking the harbour.  And it was then that we all spotted a huge turtle gracefully swimming on the water’s surface.  What an amazing sight!

Which reminds me.  What do turtles use to communicate?  A shell-ephone...