Turn that frown upside down

I would like to introduce a young lady who lives in Midlothian, Scotland. At present she works in an office however dreams of one day working full time in the writing world. Whilst chatting to Beth Merry I can feel her frustration and want to break out and get those fingers tapping the keys and tell the world all she has to say. Although Beth writes her own blog https://bethanybloggswriter.wordpress.com I suggested she write a guest blog for my site. Since my site is smile each and every day. I gave her the topic “smile everyday”. This was the heartfelt article I got back from Beth. Its about one of the hardest times in her life when she found it difficult to smile, whilst she was surrounded by sunshine, all that energy and heat failed to warm her heart and make her happy. Despite the rays from the big yellow sun and the beautiful blue sky Beth felt cold and alone and at many times incapable of smiling and having that warm butterfly feeling of comfort inside you when you know you are safe, loved and belong. Would she ever feel like this again, and be able to turn that frown upside down. I hope you enjoy it.

Why 2020 is Better than 2016 to Me

Before 2020, there was another year that as a society collectively decided was – to put frankly – absolutely awful. 2016 saw many beloved celebrity deaths, worldwide panic over the election in America, terror attacks seemingly around every corner, and plenty of other horrors that left the world pausing to catch its breath on the 31 December that year and crossing every finger and toe that 2017 would be kinder.

For me, 2016 was particularly awful because both my mum and my grandad sadly passed away, and I had to pull on my grown-up pants at 19 years old and pretend I was strong. It was one of the hardest years of my life; and now with 2020 being deemed an even worse year due to the pandemic, I’ve had time to do some reflecting on how much has changed.

Moana Beach, Adelaide, Australia

In 2016, I was living in Australia. My family had emigrated when I was 10, and while the first couple of years I had enjoyed, the shine eventually wore off and I found myself desperate to make my way back to the UK, back to my home. I felt increasingly out of place at all times, and desperate to tell people that I didn’t belong – the fact that I had absorbed the accent almost immediately did little to persuade folk. As the next of kin for my mum who passed away in June, I was left in charge of putting her affairs in order for myself and my younger sister which meant a lot of phone calls I didn’t know how to make and, more importantly, arranging a funeral. I grew up a lot that year – and fast. I was still studying, still working two jobs and getting over a lot of heartbreak. It felt like things would never improve.

Seafood Rise, Adelaide, Australia

Fast forward to 2020. As I write this, I’m sat in my house in the Scottish countryside that my partner and I bought together nearly 9 months ago. He’s putting together some units to complete the massive desk he’s constructed for our home office, and I’ve got a stew bubbling away on the stove. I’ve had an uneventful day at work – Sat at my dining room table lockdown style of course – stretching my writing muscles now. Saturday was my birthday, and I had a quiet barbecue in our newly landscaped back garden with some family, and on Sunday my partner and I ventured out to Gore Glen to finally see the beautiful waterfall and connect with nature. I can breathe fairly easy these days and my worries are far less significant than those of 2016

Gore Glen, Midlothian, Scotland

I never could have predicted that in 4 years time I’d be in the space to feel this content. In a time where my world was crumbling around me, I pushed through to venture by myself to the other side of the world where the love of my life and I have made a life together for ourselves. Coronavirus be damned – the opportunity to look back at the last 4 years and see how far I’ve come make all the lockdown restrictions worth it.

These days, I smile everyday because while there are still a few things beyond my reach. I’m a damn sight further ahead than where I was in 2016.and there’s so much to be grateful for! I’m home in the UK where I belong, I wake up everyday to my amazing partner and the views over the Pentland, and I have room to grow at my own pace. What’s not to love?

Me, happy, home

We’re all Jock Tamson’s Bairns

As the time of the restrictions of the coronavirus goes on not only here in the UK but in a great many countries all over the world.  We have all had to get used to for the time being a different way of life.  Here in the UK we are still in lockdown.  Shops, restaurants, pubs close.   Work places cannot function as they once did.  Schools, colleges and universities have closed their doors to students and staff.  Many personal services can no longer take place; such as hair cuts and styling, nail manicuring, tanning.

 

As someone with carcinoid syndrome   things changed for me quite some time ago and I  had to learn to deal with many issues.  I have had to make many adjustments.  My skin has changed, I have to deal with horrendous flushes, etc.  Whilst I still love to wear make up, dye my hair, etc I have to be careful for reactions.  Looking back as a youngster I can remember pinching my mothers food colouring to dye my hair when I had ran out of money to buy the real McCoy and making sure the earrings matched the colour of the nail polish,  that co-ordinated the hand bag and shoes.  Well I was more of a Dr Martens  student, although I did like to wear the decorative ones, give a bit of colour to my life.

 

The one thing I have never been into is wearing any ‘add ons’ – getting my nails manicured and polished and painted a pretty colour for a special occasion yes.  Acrylics on me? No – just never been the done thing.  Hair extensions are something that have came a long way in the last few years.  And to be honest they look so good and natural you would never know where the natural hair ends and the ‘fake’ hair starts.  And as for any other body enhancements, young women placing an implant in their bra, such as a  chicken fillet insert to make them look on the larger side and give them that extra lift.  In the seat of their pants too bum boosters.  for that additional filling on the rear end.  I’m blessed with olive skin and don’t feel the need for fake tan

 

As a woman who brought up two lads I didn’t have make up,  nail polish, make up, hair extensions, bra, etc requests in our household.  We did have lots of aftershave, mousse and wax for hair styling, and hair dye.

 

In the evening hubby and I find ourselves sitting blethering about our day just the same as we normally we do.    On one of our evening chats we had a discussion about how much time has been spent on screens and the pros and cons of this.  We have been really grateful of the smartphones we both own, the fact that we can FaceTime our friends and family.  If I am going to be in the house for 12 weeks with the garden for light exercise and the only physical people I see are Steve and my nurses I cannot thank enough the progress of technology that has allowed us to move forward and video talk on a call.  On Sunday when my hubby was cleaning our Harley Davidson and I was doing my favourite job of saddle soaping the leather panniers we had a FaceTime call and the 4 year old granddaughter, Alexandra that is mad keen on motorcycles, virtually started the Harley Davidson Fat boy.  She got to hear the roar of the pipes.  And to see the big smile on her face made my day.  As we discussed screen time we went on to discuss social media and what we had seen on it over the last day or so.  My husband had been perplexed and annoyed with the folk that were generally yapping about nothing.  I said to him its simply boredom with people, they have nothing better to write or they are hiding behind their status and making out everything is FINE.

 

What really got us was the folks worrying about breaking their nails and not being able to get to the nail bar…… the hair extensions falling out…….roots coming in and the fear that everyone will see their hair colour (well I hate to tell you, you have just told us, if you hid in your house, and didn’t put a status up no-one would know)………    We have started to see status’s on facebook and people tweeting about their appearance or rather what they believe the lack of it.  They are worrying about what they look like even when there is people fighting for their lives in intensive care.  One of the nicest stories I heard this week was a young family talking, Mum in her late forties was doing the talking, got to admit she looked like she had just got out of bed and it was lunchtime, she was wearing a pair of jeans and a sweater, no make up and no fancy hair do, the kiddies were still in their onesies; Mum was telling the tale of how nice it was to work from home, not feel pressurised to get dressed up and be able to wear the same set of clothes the next day.  Oh and have a day off from make up.

 

I remember a time when I was a bairn and played free, skipped to my lou and sang songs, didn’t bother if there was make up on, what size of breasts or bum someone had.  Yes, its great to take pride in our appearance, however we have to be careful not to become self obsessed.  What we have to remember is  we are all human beings with similar skin and hair.  As the saying goes We’re all Jock Tamson’s Bairns

 

 

baby s feet on brown wicker basket
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

A visit to cardiology: how low is too low?

Since my recent hospital admission the chest niggles I have been experiencing over the last couple of years have been somewhat more problematic.    So an outpatient appointment with the lovely Dr Denvir at The Western General on Wednesday afternoon was arranged.  Steve accompanied me, even though it was a hospital visit, as usual it was lovely to spend time just the two of us.

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Got there with 10 minutes to spare – time for a quick pee, a plenty of time left over for walking to the clinic, getting checked in and taking seat in the not too crowded waiting room.  No sooner was my bum on the seat and my name shouted.  Weight, blood pressure and ECG all done before I saw the doctor. I took a seat back beside Steve and expected to wait quite a while.

Less than 10 minutes later Dr Denvir called on me.  Steve and I entered his consultation room.  He was wonderful gave us plenty of time to talk and ask questions, he explained everything in detail.  We discussed in depth the pain I get in my chest, how often, how I feel, etc.  I was telling him how at times the weight on my chest feels so heavy, other times the pain is worse, and my mouth gets very dry and then the saliva runs down my gums, I need to sit on the floor and wait on the pain passing. I feel very breathless.  It can take 15 minutes to go away.  He listened to my heart, had one of those poker faces – he didn’t have any kind of expression that would shout out something instantly to you,  and he did not make any sounds; no umming or ahhing, while he was examining me.  There was no guessing.   In a way it was reassuring.  He made me feel at ease.   He rolled up my trouser legs and said my your feet are very cold.

Steve told him I wear an apple watch, and told him about the heart app.  And asked how low should your heart rate go down to.  Dr Denvir asked why.  Steve told him I wasn’t looking too good so we looked at my watch to see what my heart rate was sitting at.  My heart rate was 18 beats per minute.  He looked at us,  well gadgets such as apple watches aren’t always exactly accurate, however that is low.  He went on to say,  they are sometimes 3 or 4 units out.

After our lengthy discussion, Dr Denvir has decided the best plan of action if for me to use a GTN spray when I get the pain.  He also sent me for an echocardiogram that day.  I got my heart scan on the Wednesday, so he could see what was going on.  He says that he believes that the problems are coming from my carcinoid syndrome.  He wants to see me  in 4 months, however if I feel worse before then give his secretary a phone and he will see me sooner.

As we were walking to the car,  I said to Steve he was very thorough and very nice; I like him, Yes, Steve said to me, but he didn’t say what was too low for a heart rate for normal. 

The Tattoo

Folks have been inking their bodies for much longer than anyone can imagine.  The oldest discovery of tattooed human skin to date is found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, dating to between 3370 and 3100 BC.  Today many people get a tattoo in celebration of the birth of their child, remembrance of a loved one, and of course expression of art.  Me myself, I have never been attracted to the idea of tattoos in the slightest on myself, however, I have no objection to anyone else having artwork on their skin.  In fact I rather admire the work the tattoo artist work does.  The first male love of my life, my Dad has one tattoo; he got it when he was in the army, it has a thistle on it and the name of my mother on it.  I used to kiss it and look at it lovingly and rub his arm and think to myself if someone loves me like my daddy loves my mummy I will be one lucky lady.  My And yes people for the record this has happened.   My hubby does have three small blue tattoos on his tummy, they are markers the radiotherapy he underwent for his testicular cancer.  In 1996 this is the way they set up the simulation and marked the skin and the patient is left with permanent reminder.  Mum and Dad were married for 60 years before Mum died, Steve and I have been married since 1986, following in their footsteps; happy with that.

Both of my brothers, Albert and Brian have tattoos, and my sister Helen has a tattoo.  After my our Mother passed away.  Albert had an image of Mum on his arm.  Helen got a tattoo in remembrance of Mum too.  We all cope in different ways with death and honouring loved ones.

I have a few friends who particularly liked to express themselves one way or another.  Whether it is eclectic dress, many colour hair changing, piercings, and the main discussion of this post getting a tattoo or five.

One of my friends particularly likes to get tattoos.  Louise is a very close friend who has became one of the family.  Lou and Keith, got one of Buddy and Bella’s pups from the first litter, he is the image of Buddy, they call him Gunner.  When the second litter came along goes without saying another puppy had to join their household.  Harris, now one year old may look like his Daddy, but majority of his characteristics are of his Mummy, Bella.  Lou, has been wonderful over the last three years, visits plentiful.  Giving lifts to hospitals.  Helping with fundraisers for Scotland’s Net Cancer Charity – The Ann Edgar Charitable Trust.  What fun we had at The Tea Party and The Music For Nets Night.

Lou is a busy lady, but if she says she is going to help – I can guarantee you she will be there.  The one thing I found harder than anything else was asking for help.  When I had to give up driving the reliance on getting a lift is essential.  The spontaneous hypoglycaemia and exhaustion means I like to plan outings in advance.  Not living on a bus route isn’t ideal.  But Ive got to admit, car travel is usually the best form of transport. So asking for help….. with Lou, you don’t need to ask.   For Many things, hubby Steve and I go together.  Both our sons, Tony and Stuart assist as and when needed.  My sister hazel helps out when she can too, which really lightens the load.

Lou messaged  me one morning Ive got something I want to show you.  Its a present.  But its only for you to see.  I really hope you like it.  I asked if she liked it.  She answered, oh i’m pleased with it.  Left me a tad bamboozled and yet looking forward, as always to her visit.

Later that morning In comes the smiling face, Buddy and Bella run up the long hall and cover our guest in a mountain of blonde hair while dutifully competing for a slobbery snog.  The kettle goes on as always.  I wait in anticipation for the ‘surprise’.   As I bring through the teas and coffee Lou takes off her sweater for the unveiling.    As I catch a glimpse of what I can see on her arm I almost drop the cup.  On her arm she has had a tattoo.  And what is it?  A Zebra.  I see her lips move, I can hear the words come out in an almost muffled way,  I got this for you.  For the first time in my life I can almost say I have a tattoo.  My heart skips a beat and brings a tear to my eye.  I had no inkling, what a lovely thing to do for me.  And to raise awareness for net cancer.  Thanks Lou.

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Why did she chose the Zebra?

In medicine, the term “zebra” is used in reference to a rare disease or condition, like Neuroendocrine (NET) Cancers. “If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” … This because in the medical community the term zebra is universally used to reference a rare disease or condition.

You can find out much more about neuroendocrine tumours, net cancers.  And particular support in Scotland by visiting Scotland’s Net charity.  This charity was set up by my consultant and a patient,  at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital.  Her name was Ann Edgar.  The charity can be found at http://www.taect.scot

My Shining Lights when the going gets tough!!

For most of us life is hard enough.  We all run along in the treadmill of life in our own way. Me, I try and make the best of it even on the bleakest day.  The last three weeks have been a struggle.  My father is in hospital, he has had life saving open heart surgery, his surgery was fairly extensive; a triple bypass, a valve replacement and a pacemaker.  He has been in intensive care, moved onto high dependency and now graduated to the specialist cardiology ward.  He still has a long hard journey ahead of him.  My Papa is made of strong stuff, he will fight all the way.   I am finding it hard, seeing him lie in the hospital bed looking so frail and lost when I am so used to seeing him going around the family home like a busy bee.  To let you understand my Dad is not one for sitting down, as you would say he has a ‘glass ass’.  He likes to keep busy, making sure everyone is looked after when they visit him.  There is always coffee and a sandwich on offer.

Ive been feeling a tad worse than usual over the last few weeks too.  On the medics advice Ive increased my steroids.  Whats keeping me going and giving me strength?  Love.  From particular special individuals: my hubby Steve, my sons Tony & Stuart and my granddaughters Alexandra & Grace.   They are my shining light, all of them fill my heart with warmth and love.   They light up my life even on the darkest days.  And make me smile – Always.  I love them so much and am so grateful to have them in my life.

 

 

 

Tea Party For Net Cancer Day

On November 10th 2015 I missed an excellent information day at The Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.  It was hosted by a small charity, many people will never have heard of – the Ann Edgar Charitable Trust.  This event was for Net Cancer Day.  The reason I wasn’t there; I was in hospital with sepsis.  My mobile phone let out a familiar tone.  I looked down at the screen, the notification said “a big cheer for Elizabeth……” this gave me the boost I needed and echoed what I already knew – that my chums from the support group were all there for me.  It was then I decided by hook or by crook next net cancer day I would be doing something very different.  Eight weeks in hospital, a few months of getting my life back on track.  And then plans began……

The Ann Edgar support meetings offer what I  would say is a pretty special service.  I’ve made new friends and genuinely feel a real benefit.  The charity has not only made me feel welcome but gives time and support to my husband Steve too.  The knock on effect reaches not only partners, but also children, parents, siblings, friends and work colleagues.  My sons, sister and friend have all been in contact with TAECT at some point.  The idea that anyone affected by nets can get support or information on a local level is wonderful.  For me it’s time to put something back in to say thank you.  I would like to raise awareness of TAECT and net cancer too.  What better time than net cancer day.  So one year on and a tea party in Pencaitland is organised to raise some awareness and funds.

Whilst my main aim was to do the majority of the organising, I wanted to involve others.  I enjoyed getting the help; it was great how it all came together.  Helping hands can in all sorts of ways and was much appreciated.

It was a lovely event to organise, folks came from near and far to taste the lovely home baking I have been tweeting about.  It gave me a warm feeling to see so many people walk through the doors.  The room was full of laughter and chatter with many smiling faces.  In the two hours we raised a fantastic £1289

Looking forward to the next fundraiser to get my teeth into.

 

Naming – What do you think?

I have had many suggestions for the name of my gastrostomy tube.  I’m so grateful to everyone for all the effort that has been out in.

A fellow blogger, Elaine, has gave me a name that I’m rather struck on.  The name Lavita, which means life.  Rather apt.  For me the tube gives me a better quality of life (when I don’t have sepsis, or any other infection that is).  It provides me with my essential nutrients and vitamins – my daily steak and chips or fresh fruit salad if you get my meaning.  For many people with a tube it is an essential lifeline and the only source of nourishment.

The name I have chosen is Lavita.

 

Lavita meaning life.

Suggestions and comments welcome 💕💕