Pick up the phone – Its good to talk

Well one month into 2021 already. Its just turned February. For some its a dark month and many folks find it a lonely difficult time, with thoughts and reflections going through our minds. This year we are still in restrictions, a great deal of people have jumped from one personal crisis to another. There has been so many difficult situations for our fellow human bean to cope with over the last year; we have been tested in more ways than one. I have known a fair number of family and friends who have over the last year fought life threatening coronavirus. During this pandemic many people have faced fear, anxiety, poverty, hardship, social isolation, unemployment, etc.  Now is the time to take notice of who has been helping who, and most importantly does anyone need help. Remember when we used to pop in for a quick chat, or go out for that drink, meet up at lunch time, or a run on the bikes. That person is possibly lonely a missing seeing everyone and could do with a jolly good chat. Do yourself a favour and as the scout or girl guide leader would say do your good deed for the day; Pick up the phone – its good to talk

I think we can all agree that this has been an unusual year.  It has been a difficult time for everyone at some time and we have all be faced some sort of challenge and uncertainty.  I don’t think anyone thought we would still be facing these kind of restrictions in 2021.  Covid-19 has dominated our lives and health.   The NHS and the care staff have taken good care of us since the start. They are dedicated and like true troopers put patients before themselves, work long hours; doing their best to make us feel as comfortable and secure in these strange and difficult circumstances.

From my personal experience my team of medics all the way through this pandemic have been ultimate superstars. My net specialist emails in between appointments to check up on me, make sure how I am doing. My nurses come in to my home changing my dressings, changing the water in my gastrostomy tube weekly, administer my octreotide treatment at home fortnightly, change my entire gastrostomy tube every 8 weeks (however due to problems such as infections, burst balloons, etc its been happening after 5 weeks, 1 week, 3 weeks). My nurses will also come to my home if I have any problems. They are wonderful; my net specialist telephoned me last week when he was on the phone he commended the nurses and said the work they did and how well they looked after me, helping keep the amount of infections down and most certainly assisted in keeping me out of the hospital. The amazing supportive Community Enteral Nutrition Team (CENT) call me regularly. Usually Kat or Marion visit me every two months. They weigh me, check on my peg feed and we discuss how my feeding regime is going. We talk about my quality of life, what is going on with my appointments, my body and everything thats going on in my life. They are very supportive and always at the end of a phone. I can pick up the phone and give them a call any day, if they can’t pick it up and talk to me when I call. Their secretary June will answer, take a message and one of them will call me back, chat with me and sort out any problem that may be going on. They report to my dedicated Net specialist (The Prof), my hard working GI consultant, who works hand in hand with the Prof, and my GP. Letting them know if anything needs changed, such as my frequency of feed, etc. Remember my GI consultant, he is the chap who did the creative drawing when he kindly saw me bang in the middle of covid restrictions and did a wee procedure when my gastrostomy tube fell further into my intestines than it should have. He has to have sense he has labradors.

For some people this will have been a long and lonely year. For others it will have gone quickly and nothing much will have changed other than the physical restrictions, such as supermarkets, going from one district to another, closure of shops, establishments, etc. This time last year I was looking forward to going to Dunedin Chapter’s AGM meeting and annual dance; this is the Harley-Davidson® club that my husband and I belong to. The AGM was actually the last meeting we all got together for an official meeting. Now that the vaccine is getting rolled out, you never know…………. I miss the blether, the friendships, get togethers. However, right now its for our own good, and we have to wait until the appropriate time. A while longer to make sure we are safe is better in the long run. So in the meantime be content with sharing a conversation on social media or a text, email and most definitely a natter on the phone. When director of Dunedin Chapter Scotland HOG® #9083, Stewart Willox phones me and says I won’t keep you Elizabeth, and we are still blethering 20 minutes later. I’m sure the poor chap’s ears are bleeding.

I have been very fortunate over the last year and would like to says thanks to the folks that have kept me going, I wrote an earlier post on being thankful for my smartphone and posts being grateful of support during this pandemic. However, I would like to echo this and let everyone know I more than appreciate the texts (yes minister friend Janice, even the early morning Prayers), WhatsApp’s, emails, social media messages; every piece of contact helps prevent the feeling of loneliness, it makes me appreciate what I have – a circle of human beings around me that care. I so love the photos I receive in texts of my grandchildren, it brightens my life and lightens my heart. Marion and Tony send me the most beautiful photos of Luna, she was born in lockdown, we were privileged to see her Christmas Day and have only seen her via technology since, thank goodness for gadgets. We have round robin texts between Tony, Stuart, Marion, Laura and Myself; all checking in, keeping up with the news and sharing photographs. Pre lockdown both my sons were at our house regularly and our home filled with laughter and cheer. Now our lads call regularly, they FaceTime with the kids which is fabulous, I get time to talk to the boys and chat away with the babes. Nearly 5 year old granddaughter Alexandra loves chatting away at anytime. See how they are developing, here all their news. Never tire of hearing their news, listening to Tony telling of his uni work, and whats going on in the world of government policy at Edinburgh University , or chatting with Stuart as he drives home from a hard shift at the hospital where we talk about all sorts. My sister Hazel and I text message each other every day just to check in. We blether on the phone often, and its never a short phone call. My friend, Jen, we met on the first day at university in Edinburgh when we were both 18. We’ve been firm friends since. We chat every Friday morning at length. I so enjoy these calls and have to admit they help keep me sane.

The last year for me has been difficult I won’t deny it. I have been over the threshold approximately half a dozen times and most of those occasions have been sheer necessity. I so miss being able to ask Steve to drive me over to visit my Dad. I miss going to my support meetings with The Ann Edgar Trust; so miss seeing the friends I’ve made and the support I get out of going. So for now I’m still content with my calls and other means of communications. My daily WhatsApp messages from Louise lets me know I have a loving caring friend, Stephen cracks me up with his comical wit on WhatsApp, he sends me not only messages to ask how we are doing but jokes, photos to make me laugh; he arranges online quizzes that we take part in on zoom. Lindsay Lou messages me with photos of the kids and tales, I so miss seeing them, suddenly Glasgow feels like the other side of the world.

I’m sure you have been affected this passed year in some way. Whether its physically or mentally, we have all been touched one way or another. Family and friends are important, keeping that line of contact is much more beneficial to some than others. What I have taken from this year is, yes it has been trying, but we have to remember restrictions are put in place for our own good and to save lives. During this pandemic a great deal of people have been diagnosed with this awful virus and sadly numerous folks around the world have died from it. Receiving messages, seeing familiar faces on my silver screen, receiving cards from my sister regularly by post, chatting on the phone, sharing news or a problem or five. I realise how lucky I am to know I am loved and cared for. Next time you pick up your phone to look up your social media pages or online shop, why don’t you give your family or friend a text or better still a phone call. It is so lovely to hear a friendly voice, share a chat; find out whats been going on in YOUR family/friend’s life. If you are going to do something nice today and think of others; do a good turn, please don’t say you don’t have time, life is good and far too short. Share something nice that happened today with someone. Please Pick up the phone – Its good to talk

Thankful for my smartphone

As we approach the latter months of the year I have become more and more grateful for technology. In particular my Apple laptop, smartphone and iPad. Whether, it has been a FaceTime GP call, a hospital appointment or a chat with a family member, my iPhone has been invaluable. When the lump on my shoulder caused my home nurse concern, first a photo taken from my phone, emailed to my GP, then a FaceTime call so she could see it, then decided it did warrant a GP visit and examination. Fabulous camera on the phone, such great photos you get from it. I’m so Thankful for my smartphone

I have my smartphone linked to my MacBook and my iPad. When I take a photo or put an entry in the diary on the phone it goes into both the laptop and the iPad too. I love to take photographs. Photography is a great passion of mine. One of the most relaxing activities for me is to pull out my Nikon camera and shoot some images. However, if I am standing at the back of the house watching my beautiful 4 year old granddaughter and our labradors taking my phone out of my pocket at an opportune moment to capture a memory. This week is my octreotide treatment week, belt and braces, it’s in the diary in my phone; alarm set on on phone to go off 40 minutes before my nurse is due, so I can take it out of the fridge. It’s much easier to administer and more comfortable if it’s not too cold. Nothing worse than a freezing cold substance going into your hip area. I don’t have much fat or muscle on me as it is. My make up is pretty bony now and the thick needles are getting kinda sore as they go in. But what I have to remember is no pain no gain. If it wasn’t for these injections I probably wouldn’t be here today. They reduce the rate of bowel motions incredibly, I no longer look like a Ribena kid all day long and its pretty well proven they slow down the growth of net cancer. All in all bloody good job I would say. And most certainly worth the pain in the ass they give you.


Buddy and Bella with Alexandra

Since the middle of March life has became very different. The arrival of Covid-19. Lockdown, restrictions to the way we live, finding a new normal. For the time being at least.

I use my phone and iPad to have chats with my family and friends. Not only your traditional blether but the most fabulous video calls. We laugh, sing, play games; a telephone call has never been so much fun. On my laptop and iPad I keep in touch with friends from my support group, TAECT we have general chats, quiz days, information talks. I also keep in touch with my motorcycle friends at The Dunedin Chapter. To take part in quizzes, talks, chats, etc we use Zoom

Technology has been my lifeline over the last seven months. I haven’t had many visitors. I have only visited my dad on two occasions since March. Going out of my front door doesn’t happen very often and seeing people in the flesh is something of a novelty at the moment. Ive taken to talking to anything that looks interested and stands still long enough to listen; for instance yesterday morning I was sitting on the sofa wrestling with my slippers, the table lamp to my left was my conversation buddy, mind you I got the right kind of answers, I guess he agreed with me, I got a silent reply I took this as an acknowledgement of approval.

My other method of keeping in touch with family and friends is social media platforms. Linkden Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are the ones I use. Fabulous for keeping in touch, sharing information, posting articles, photos, etc. I use the messenger to chat. I also use WhatsApp. A good way of communicating with chums. We share stories, snaps, etc. A great way of cheering each other up especially when the mood is low.

Whilst my technology is great for communication and keeping me in touch with the outside world whilst I am shielding. The laptop, iPad and phone also have been used in more than I thought they would be.

During these difficult times many banks have closed their doors. Leaving many of us to online bank more than we used to. Me, I have banked online for what feels like a lifetime. My health before covid forced me to make changes, so I guess I have found it fairly easy to adapt. I use my laptop, iPad and smartphone to bank. However, I have to admit the app on the smartphone for the Natwest Bank https://personal.natwest.com/personal.html is so easy and convenient to use.

I use my Phone to order shopping, order my prescriptions from the GP, order the feed needed for the month from Nutricia to keep me going with through the gastrostomy tube.

Checking emails and going online is so easy with my smartphone. One click and Im there. Its so easy to download apps. https://www.apple.com/uk/ios/app-store/ There are so many different apps, something for everyone, from games to weather. Have a look, and give something new a try. It really does brighten your day.

When I first got a mobile telephone it was for work, it was to answer calls and check up on how MY patients were doing. That feels like another lifetime ago. Now I use my smartphone as a tool, to go on the internet, check my emails, send messages, take photographs, occasionally let my granddaughter play a game, oh and of course make a telephone call.