The Apple Blossom…

The story of my fight, actually… What happened to me nearly two years ago, still haunts me, reminding me of how lucky I am to be here…

(An excerpt from Apple Blossom, the short story I wrote to help other people who find themselves in a similar situation)

“The lights were dimmed, giving the treatment room a spooky atmosphere. The huge machine that towered over me as I lay on that uncomfortable table seemed even more menacing in the gloom.

The only light in the room was coming from the centre ceiling panels above me, which had been replaced by translucent photographs of apple blossom which softly gleamed in the darkness. Obviously, strategically positioned to take the patients mind off what was happening to them. The panel I liked best had fluffy white clouds on a blue sky behind the blossom.

I had been stretched out and precisely positioned on the platform, all the marks on my chest lined up with the eerie green beams of light that shone down from the machine. It was almost a kind torture, what with my arms pinned above my head, waiting for the machine to start humming. All the technicians had fled, leaving me on my own. Just me and the apple blossom above my head and a machine quite capable of giving me a lethal dose of radiation if it decoded to throw a wobbly. Quite scary, if you dwelt on it, which I was trying my level best not to do.

In the silence, I hear the soft clicks, which heralded the beginning of my third session. Just twelve more to go. Twelve more 20-mile trips to the hospital for just 10 minutes under the apple blossom. And all of this, just to make sure that the aggressive tumour that was cut from my body a few weeks ago has not left any of its calling cards behind. Well worth any inconvenience, I would say.

Not that I am loving any of it at the moment. I could almost be regarded as ungrateful, for although the surgery was quick and virtually painless, the after effects are not and I have no way of knowing if any of it is normal. They say it is, but I have my doubts.
I have two scars, one for the tumour and one for the sentinel lymph node, and I know they will be tender for a while yet, but I have this huge hard lump, which hurts quite a bit at the moment. Doubtless, all will heal eventually; I am just running out of patience.”

Universal Amazon Link:  myBook.to/appleblossom

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What do you know about Gluten?

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“Gluten intolerance can affect nearly every tissue in the body, including the brain, skin, endocrine system, stomach, liver, blood vessels, smooth muscles and even the nucleus of cells. CD and NCGS are associated with an astonishing variety of diseases, from schizophrenia and epilepsy to Type 1 diabetes and osteoporosis, to dermatitis and psoriasis, to Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism to peripheral neuropathy. Because the range of symptoms associated with gluten intolerance is so broad and nonspecific (e.g., can be attributed to any number of conditions), many patients and doctors don’t suspect gluten may be the cause.”

 

When I awoke this morning, my body was racked with pain, again. My joints were screaming before I even rolled out of bed. I knew there had to be a reason for it, and resolved to find out what it was as I was really tired of feeling like an old woman.  I am an old woman, but I don’t have to feel like one, now do I?

As I staggered to the bathroom, a word arrived in my brain. My brain works best first thing in the morning, something I don’t understand but welcome gratefully. Nice that it can sometimes, eh?

This word was ‘gluten’.

I resolved to investigate and see if gluten was affecting my body. I wasn’t prepared for the long list of symptoms that I found, just about everything I complain about was on that list. The weight gain, chronic itching, migraines, joint pain, constipation, asthma and my peripheral neuropathy!

I think it is time to stop eating food containing wheat, barley and rye.

 

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Gluten Containing Foods – foods to avoid

  • Biscuits
  • Beer
  • Bread
  • Cakes
  • Cereals (except a few from the good list below)
  • Chocolate bars
  • Cookies
  • Corned beef
  • Couscous
  • Crackers
  • Donuts
  • Gravies
  • Malt beverages e.g. whisky
  • Malt vinegar
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Muffins
  • Pasta
  • Pastries
  • Pies
  • Pretzels
  • Pizza
  • Sauces
  • Sausages
  • Salami
  • Sauces – many have wheat as a thickener
  • Soups – many have wheat as a thickener
  • Wheat flour

And replace with these…

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Dairy
  • Beans, legumes, and nuts

Read more at https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/food-options/#0ltbAIH8aotdqp7W.99

Gluten-Free Substitutes

“Many items that usually contain gluten have gluten-free alternatives that are widely available in most grocery stores and make living gluten-free much easier. Keep in mind, however, that minimally processed fresh foods are a crucial part of a healthy gluten-free diet. It is very important to base your diet around fruits, vegetables, meats, and other healthy food groups listed above.

Many commercially available products are labelled “gluten-free,” but there will be some that are not; this is why proper label reading is important. It is also important to remember that “wheat-free” does not necessarily mean “gluten-free.” Be wary, as many products may appear to be gluten-free, but are not.

As a rule, traditional wheat products such as pasta, bread, crackers, and other baked goods are not gluten-free. However, there are many gluten-free options available that use alternative flours and grains. Often, gluten-free bread can be found in the freezer section. Additionally, there are gluten-free flours and flour blends available in the grocery aisle, allowing you to bake your own bread.”

All of this sounds like a plan, so when I have armed myself with a stack of rice cakes, I will begin to go gluten free. Losing the aches and pains will be sooo worth it!

I will report back on my progress, as soon as I get any!

 

 

 

The Heart of the Matter…

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After my heart attacks three years ago, and my subsequent brilliant behaviour since then, I didn’t think I would be having any further trouble in that direction. I can still remember every gruelling moment of that time, and how near I came to shuffling off this mortal coil.

For a while afterwards, though, I was very nervous. Every twinge of heartburn (for that is how it started before) was met with chewed fingernails and immense trepidation. Probably a good thing in the end, for it made me a model patient. I took my medication religiously, even though most of it had a dire effect on my asthma.

I gave up smoking that day, and I like to think it was because the cardiologist asked me to but the truth is, I didn’t want to die, so I stopped willingly. I have taken steps to improve my health and fitness too, and think I am in a much better shape now.

So when I began to notice something odd going on in my chest, my spirits hit the floor. I was experiencing little thumps and fluttering’s, and although this doesn’t sound too serious, I worried. When I checked my pulse, I noticed gaps in the rhythm. Every couple of minutes, my heart would skip a beat, and not a shred of romance or excitement anywhere near me!

I have my own blood pressure machine for regular check ups, and I seemed to be fine, so I was confused. I had recently stopped taking the daily aspirin and the beta-blocker, as they were making my asthma so much worse. Maybe I should start taking them again and see what happened. The other odd thing was that my ticker behaved itself during the day, but come the evening, it had a field day. Sleeping wasn’t easy either, more because I was worrying than anything else I think, for I can normally sleep through anything.

And of course, the usual question presented itself. Do I bother my doctor with this? I have a check-up soon, so I could mention it then…

I know at my age there is so much you just have to get on with, and I do seem to have more than my share in that department, but my instincts were not clear. I usually know what to do, whether it turns out to be a waste of everyone’s time or not.  My dilemma is this, apart from the funny goings on, I feel quite well. Apart from arthritis in every joint, failing eyesight, a painful neck and hip, the list is getting longer.

I decided to wait a few days and see what happens…

Two days later… I have reinstated the beta-blocker but not the aspirin, and the thumps and fluttering’s have now stopped. So far, so good. I wonder what will happen next?

Old age can be so much fun, don’t you think?

Balls in the air

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This year is finally getting going after one of the slowest starts ever. Already the jobs are piling up, and my to-do list has never been this long before.

Under normal circumstances, this would not be a problem, but certain conditions are conspiring to slow me down. Whether it is due to a slowly growing cataract or not, my brain is beginning to tire easily, requiring me to break up the amount of time I spend at my PC.

I have been arranging my working day to try to minimise the tiredness and still manage to be productive, but another aspect has decided to rear its ugly head. My memory always had its share of holes, but nowadays it has more holes than a colander. I can forget things faster than you can blink. So despite all my safeguards, it is beginning to look as though my days are numbered. But what does this really mean? Just how many computing days do I have left?

I am now 73, (although I swear certain parts of me are older), and I have no intention of hanging up my mouse or my pencil, but it seems fate might have other ideas. All I am hoping for is the ability to take my foot off the gas pedal now and then. So I might not be posting as often, even though it really hurts me to say it. I have a feeling there might not be any new adventures in my marketing attempts either as I find it hard enough keeping what balls I have already in the air.

I started this post last week, and that was pretty much how I was feeling then…

Fast forward to today… Gallons of determination have arrived from somewhere, making everything look so much better than they did before.

All the routine stuff, e-mails, marketing, and social networking, is being done quickly and efficiently, well I think it is, and that’s what matters, isn’t it? My brain is happy, and if I could just get my muscles, bones, and eyesight to buck their ideas up, I’ll be good to go and laughing my socks off!

 

 

 

Muddy Waters…

 

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Getting an appointment with my doctor is becoming impossible these days, as he must be the most popular person in Petersfield, that’s all I can say. For several days I tried, finally giving up and making do with another doctor.

I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, for me and doctors don’t normally get on. I swear they think I am a malingerer or something.

To be fair, she did check me over quite thoroughly I thought and did her best to assure me that there was nothing in my head that shouldn’t be there. The earache and four-week-old headache were dismissed, as it didn’t keep me awake at night so couldn’t possibly be that bad.  I don’t think she believed a word about my constant giddiness and nausea.  When I tried to describe the way my brain seems to ‘slide’ sometimes, I could tell she thought I was barking. A typical hypochondriac with possible dementia thrown in for good measure.

I left the surgery with a prescription for something to help with nausea, and when I got back home, I checked this drug out on the internet. Turned out to be a strong antipsychotic, not be given to the elderly or anyone with dubious brain activity. Taking it under these conditions, they said, “could result in death.”

Needless to say, that prescription found its way into the bin a bit sharpish. Whatever is wrong with my brain will just have to get on with it, or go away. I know which I would prefer!

In an endeavour to ease my symptoms, I decide to cut back my workload and time spent on the blessed computer. The optician had offered to darken my reading glasses to help with the glare, so I thought the future could be doable.

Once I took a good look at the situation, I realised I was on my own, regarding my future.  Assuming of course, that I had one. It was up to me to find a system that would work, as the alternative didn’t bear thinking about. War had been declared between me and everything I wanted to do.

My eyes would grudgingly allow me a little time at the PC/laptop/kindle before throwing in the towel, so I had to come up with a decent routine.

The problem with my knees was more easily solved, a comfortable pair of kneepads and I was good to go. Something I was pleased about, for I tend to do a lot of work on the floor. (don’t ask!)

The constant tiredness, headaches, and arthritis would be harder to manage, but not impossible with the help of copious amounts of soluble paracetamol.

After a cold hard look at my workload, I realised I had far too many balls in the air, or irons in the fire, whichever you prefer. I had to get out the pruning shears and cut back some of the things that really weren’t getting us anywhere.

All that searching for the magic answer/angle had to stop too. My life had to be simplified if I wanted to come out of this mess in one happy piece!

A further post about how I chopped and pruned may well follow, once I get past the pain of deleting and unsubscribing all the dead or dying wood in my forest!

The Windows of the Soul…

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The first time it happened, I thought that my brain had just decided to quit, breakdown or crash, whatever it is brains do when they die. One minute I was perfectly fine, reading something on the computer screen and then it happened.

My brain lurched.  That is the best way I can describe what it felt like. It was as if the contents of my head twisted around in one quick movement. Instantly, I felt sick and nauseous, and when I tried to stand, the room revolved violently, and I had to sit down again.

The first time this happened, I was unable to walk or work. I wasn’t actually sick, but it felt as though I would at any minute. The following morning I opened my eyes, expecting the worst, only to discover whatever it was had gone. It didn’t happen again for what seemed like a long time, but for a few years, I had to endure these “dizzy days” every couple of months, and although I coped with it, I secretly worried about what it could mean.

Last year they began to get closer together and hang around a little bit longer than just one day. This was roughly when the optician discovered I had cataracts growing in my eyes. They were very small and didn’t need to be removed yet, and I was assured they were not the cause of my symptoms. I was prescribed with a special coating for my glasses to combat the glare from the computer screen.

Fast forward to this year and the current dizziness. This time it has lasted for nearly 3 weeks, and another visit to the opticians has confirmed that the cataracts are still small and unlikely to be causing me trouble. Again, I am not convinced. Something must be causing it?

I have been finding some respite by wearing sunglasses over my glasses, at the computer as well as out of doors, and may invest in new tinted glasses to avoid wearing two pairs all the time. I have been reluctant to bother my doctor again, as he didn’t have a clue last time I went. I already suspect it is probably yet another of those mysterious ailments that must be endured as part of growing old.

The thought of losing my sight, or worse, fills me with equal amounts of fear and dread. I think of all the things I love to do and might not be able to manage anymore, and don’t know how I will cope if the worst happens. Quite apart from my writing and hobbies, there are so many other things I love to do. It breaks my heart to even consider life without them all.

For a start, what would I do all day…?

Happy New Year!

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Like last year, this year didn’t start too well for me, but I think I can finally see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I deliberately didn’t make any resolutions. Well, I tried not to, but they were all there in my head anyway, driving me crazy with all the possibilities.

It has been a year since they discovered a lump in my breast, a lump that turned out to be the worst kind. One year on and I wait for the results of my recent mammogram. Then two weeks ago, I tore a ligament in my knee, restricting my movements and doing little to improve the state of my mind. I am beginning to hate the sight of my local hospital!

The knee is feeling better now, after one of the most terrifying procedures I have ever been subjected to. The swelling had to be reduced they said, and out came one of the largest hypodermic needles I have ever seen. I waited for them to numb my knee first, but to my horror, this did not happen. The doctor swabbed my knee with antiseptic and plunged the 3-inch needle straight into my knee. I waited for the pain to blow my head off, but to my surprise, I couldn’t feel anything. What was this magic? Everyone had delighted in telling me just how painful it was going to be, but I honestly couldn’t feel anything.

After removing two full tubes of fluid, he injected something into the knee, saying that it would make the pain go away immediately. I was ordered to stand up, and then walk about, and he was right, the pain had gone. I could walk! I glanced at the crutches leaning against the wall, knowing I wouldn’t need them anymore.

Then it was the day of my oncology check-up. I was just two hours away from knowing if the rest of this year would be worth having. It had better be, for I’m in the middle of two books, and a ton of promoting needs to be done. Besides, I’m not ready to hang up my boots or anything else for that matter.  If I can just make these worn out old eyes go on for a bit longer, everything will be fine. (I won’t be escaping the hospital for long, as I have a cataract in progress, and it will have to come out eventually.)

Turns out that I am fine… I have a pain free knee and a clean bill of health from the breast clinic. 2017 was a bit late starting for me, but the sun has finally come out, and I feel the enthusiasm flowing through my veins once again…

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To celebrate, we have created a trailer for Anita’s book, Secrets. We argued long and hard over this one, but Anita knew what she wanted, so that’s what we did.

She would love to hear what you think!