Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Blue sky day, blue sky thinking.

If I have seemed a bit off form and lax in posting these last couple of months it could be that I have not been the happiest of bunnies. My old sweet voice has turned to a croak and I am still waiting to attend an appointment with ENT to see if there is anything obvious causing it, it could be the meds. to keep the bones in tip top condition! A little HRT could help do that job but I am still waiting for that box of sweeties. My local health service has given up on me, took their time! I have been passed on to a clinic which has turned out to be a bit over 180 miles roundtrip.

I had called to make an appointment in the second week in December when the letter arrived and I was given the choice of early on the next Monday just 60 hours hence or today. I had something arranged for the Monday which would take so rearranging so I went for today with the risk of awful winter conditions to contend with. As soon as the phone call finished I set about rearranging my Monday so as to be able to call back and hope the Monday was still open. By now it was lunchtime so I left a message to make the change and I would call back to confirm later. No calls either way worked all afternoon so I was resigned to a five week wait for an appointment for I knew not what! I presumed it would be endocrinology since that was the department which had thrown me out but… I emailed someone who had been to this clinic to get some idea of what it was like so as not to arrive totally cold, then I started to stew. This is someone who refused to say that their appendix was grumbling because I did not want to be on a two year countdown on a waiting list, I don’t do well stewing like that. I eat too much and gain weight and with this miserable weather have not had much exercise!

As predicted but times ten! The weather has been beyond anything we have seen since 1981 when we smart enough to spend a month in northern France enjoying the winter markets and the fabulous christmas food that was available and missed it all. For over three weeks it has been almost impossible to even get the car out to the road and everywhere has had walkways of solid ice causing record numbers of broken bones. It is not a good time to be dying, all the long term beds are full of multiple fracture victims! Local authorities have failed to stock salt since we have has a few mild winters, this is like not having a fire extinguisher because there has not been a fire for a while! As it turned out it has been the best day for a couple of months and Glasgow, a city where webbed feet is almost obligatory was mild dry and bright. This was going to be a solitary trip, who in their right mind would put themselves through such a trip in the winter if it was not necessary? Julie never questioned the calendar note and I would have slipped off for the day and then done some me things in the city after the 11 am visit to the clinic but stir crazy Julie saw the weather forecast and declared that she wanted to come for a visit to the refurbished Kelvingrove museum. We used to visit this city quite regularly but as the places we were interested in slowly closed down or changed we have only passed through, we finally worked out it had been nearly a decade since we had spent a day there together!

As luck would have it the museum is only a short walk from the clinic so all was arranged. The drive through was an eye opener, mile after mile of near stationary traffic heading into work in numerous place, we arrange our travel to avoid traffic, a minute holdup at lights is a traffic jam to me. Then there were countless miles of the only east west road completely dug up for rebuilding, about a year so far! 40 mph limits with camera controlled average speed limit computer system did not help. So instead of a lazy coffee in the museum cafe then a lazy saunter to the clinic I arrived with only six minutes to spare, no coffee.

The clinic was quite busy with dozens of people waiting in the reception area many of whom seemed to have interestingly contracted infections if what I overheard was correct. I was given a short form for personal information to fill in and told to wait in the first floor waiting room. I just had time for bladder relief and tidy up myself then a couple of minutes in an empty waiting room to myself before I was called and led to a very small room and given a seat. I felt a little naked with no nail colour but I had wanted to be able to show my poor shattered nails. Julie had marvelous nails when she was on HRT, now for the first time in thirty years she has longer stronger nails than me. Suzy who had met this doctor had not mentioned a salient fact which became obvious within microseconds! There was not going to be much discussion about my nails or my interesting blood chemistry and no new blood was going to be sucked out, this was going to be the kind of intimate chat I had manage to avoid for a long lifetime! I was trapped and all that anxiety about this sort of situation had not prepared me for the actuality.

When he started by saying “we have an hour” I knew I really had been caught!

“Do I want to ask any questions?” was an easy start. I was lost for words so let him start his interrogation. Clearly this guy has watched all those spy films where enemy agents are encouraged to cough up all their deepest hidden secrets. I have been absolutely open with my thoughts and memories over this last year on my blog and have covered quite a range of time and experiences over the last year. His interrogator seemed to suck most of that out in this one session!

Something had clicked in my head that said here is your chance to say what you feel once and for all, at last, for better or for worse there would be some sort of record. Being me I answered all questions openly and honestly even when they sometimes brought me to moments of emotional speechlessness. I also said exactly what I thought about the process the system puts us through and what I thought was absurd and back to front about it. All together it was really cathartic and I was left feeling like a tension had been released. At that point he said well I am the psychiatrist you have always feared and now you will have to come back for another appointment with another to see about desired drugs! Oh well. And then the killer statement “that he felt that he could support me for as far as I decided to take this process…”

Knock over with feather springs to mind! I know we covered a lot of ground in what turned out to be an hour and a half and I had said things which I thought would count against me, I only wanted a box of sweeties and something which I had never imagined possible, in fact had been told forty years ago would never come to pass has been dangled there as an attainable goal on day.

I have been through a second grilling and the mood in the house is strange to say the least. I have said that this was a step I did not think I would be able to take or one I would ever ask Julie to have to support me through but suddenly as if the seriousness of my state has become totally clarified and authenticated has subtly changed from accepting to supportive. Will she still be like this when she has had time to sleep on it? Just what will the future bring? I just don’t know.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

party shoes walking on a cloud

outdoor christmas tree with snow

indoor christmas tree with angel

deep frozen fish

Hardly got the decorations up and it is time for them to come down again. Fake tree this year since snowed in and cannot not find one locally any more, all the best glass balls are just too heavy and still in the box till next year. Would have cut down the tree in garden but it was under deep snow before christmas. Julie had to take down the tree because I found myself with one of my rare online chats, she managed with a minute to spare so is not damned for ever. Party shoes (only shoes I own except gardening shoes!) can go back in their box. End of fun for a while.


The sun came out for a short while and I soaked up a few rays to generate some vitamin D. If I have been quiet for a while It is because I have been feeling a little down, perhaps a little SAD which used to affect me at this time of year and there has hardly been a glimmer of sun for weeks. More than that was negative introspection which I hardly ever do these days but sad to say the happiness of some whose blogs I have followed for a long while are taking the final step as have several in the recent past and no doubt some of them will soon vanish from our part of the net. This has highlighted the realisation that there is almost no chance that I shall ever be able to do what they are doing which has left me in a state of empty stagnation which is hard to shake off.

The sense of isolation many of us felt before the net has long vanished. All of us who grew up thinking that we must be the only ones like us in the world and terrified to mention it to another soul. Now we read daily of the huge numbers of us there are and the equally huge number of ways we find of dealing with it according to our individual circumstances of age, health, wealth and outstanding relationships. Some of these accounts fill us with joy in the knowledge that we are not alone , others rip out the heart when you hear of how your situation can now sometimes be dealt with and someone can live a life almost as if nothing had ever happened. While I have long been resigned to my personal fate and am not an envious or jealous person I will sometimes suddenly fall into a hole of wretchedness like now when those who were on a similar journey are suddenly at the last hurdle and probably about to slip quietly out of your life. When so many have gone in the recent past and another two are on the brink it does highlight your own position with a searchlight for a while. I have just had the best year of my life after half a century of fairly worthless years but at the moment I can’t help feeling gutted and hopeless and lacking in the energy to fight the next round of random bureaucracy in the health service and hold out little hope that they will be able to restore the voice which has been reduced to an embarrassing hoarse croak let along give me the sweets I crave because of my health.

A month from now with appointments attended and the iced roads melted away I may have bounced back to my new old self again. If any posts seem below par for the next while, at least you know why. There are an infinite number of ways we have of dealing with this transness and I realize that those who go for surgery are in reality the lucky small percentage who manage to find the support or finances. It is not even my highest priority since given the choice if I had the choice I am sure I would choose to improve my appearance before changing something which nobody may ever see. This makes me feel even more stupid to be feeling so low. My best wishes go out to those who are making this final step.

There has been a break in the weather and after a workout clearing the slope up to the road the car finally got us to the shops to stock up , now good for another two weeks if need be. Julie was getting stir crazy even though we have been getting visitors who could drive up to the front gate on the flatter road. Nearly twenty years ago I helped a friend dismantle an art installation of a driftwood shack marooned on an ice flow, table salt was used for ice and was going to be junked at the end of the show when it was no longer white. I hardly need to tell my regular readers that I rescued about three hundred pounds of salt for keeping my pathways clear of ice. I went to get some of this endless supply only to find that it is now down to the last couple of plastic milk containers which it has been stored in ready for sprinkling. There is no salt of any kind available for sale. After over two weeks the road in front of the house which leads to the local health centre has finally had a few grains of salty grit spread, just not enough to do anything.

While we were out we visited broken arm girl to stock her up on supplies and deliver her christmas presents and another friend who seems to have been left alone for a couple of days while wife and daughter go on a fun trip! They both live on the cleared main roads otherwise we would not have risked it.

Hope all misery passes before next post.



Sunday, 3 January 2010

winter wonderland?

Christmas has never been a favourite time of year for many reasons.

Born into times of austerity presents were few and you can guess why they were never anything that I could have possibly wanted, even the books were aimed at boys and were never opened!

Parents were quite self centred so there was little sense of christmas being a close family affair, very much children should be seen but not heard.

Now the attention is on over indulgence and wild present distribution which is problematic for someone with very limited means and still in the position of receiving inappropriate gifts! I hate the wast of gifts which are clearly of no use and have tried to instigate local rules to restrict gifts to consumables and am gaining a following now that more are reaching retirement. If you are the kind of friend whom I can meet for coffee then you were probably lucky enough to get classy hand made chocolate of one kind or another. Nothing of note came our way except two very nice New Zealand wines from my friends mother who got something Chanel in return. Why didn’t I get a mother like this?

The one thing I do like is decorating a tree but this year I never go a chance to buy one with the weather. I would have cut the one I have growing in the garden but it was laden with frozen snow so I put up a fake tree which could not even take the weight of the fancier glass decorations which I have collected. I splashed some pine essence about to try and fool people and some were fooled but what a let down.

It hardly ever snows where I live but it did some time before christmas then turned to inch thick ice on the roads and walkways. Since all politicians sing the mantra of global warming the one thing they have done is cancel the order for grit and salt to make the world safe, many have not ventured out for weeks now since each night any slight thaw becomes sheet ice over night. Having already had a practice sliding when the frosts first came to get my hand in I have been out twice. The first I wrote about in a previous post but just after christmas I once again launched the car from the garage with maximum acceleration to throw it up the ski slope to the icy road behind the house, then headed out into a short blizzard to a friends wedding. It was to have been a very quiet affair, just the couple their children and witnesses. Since I had said some time ago to my hair removal torturer that I had had a similarly quiet wedding the had a birthday party the same day where it was announced she thought we were on the same wavelength. Somehow since our last session it all went awry with the arrival of australian cousins who invited themselves to her party and suddenly it was cars and bridesmaids (not me Jo). I took a few photos then went on to the party later on where I got lost in the vastness of new build footballers mansions with little in the way of signage so there were a lot of snowy handbrake turns before I found the venue. Typically for a wedding a bit late was too early and I had the company of another guest, Jill, who had been given a lift out to the wasteland. When it all started up it was not my sort of party! It had been lent by one of said footballers and was a bit flashy, lets just say none of my friends have a dedicated play room for parties with a fully stocked bar, juke box, slot machines and a shiny chrome pole in the centre of the room! I am sure that ceiling did not need that support.

New Year used to be the big event when I first came here 40 years ago and christmas was hardly bothered with with many still working till the last minute and straight back to work immediately after but took a long break at New Year for days of visiting friends and lots of drinking. It was not uncommon to find yourself invited into strangers homes to welcome in the New Year especially if you had some drink with you. Ten years ago we had a party to which we invited an Australian woman who was exchanging for a year with a teacher friend, she came almost directly from the airport. In the early hours of the morning I walked her home since she hardly knew where it was, she was more than a little surprised when we found ourselves drinking and chatting for hours in homes along the way, she must have wondered what kind of country she had landed in. Now hardly any of this seems to happen and you can’t have a drink and drive home and this year you can’t even stand up in the icy streets.

The forecast is for another week of below zero so I am going to hibernate, we have some rooms so cold that we do not need a fridge. Our christmas present to ourselves is gas for the heating!