Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie

Two determined authors, bulletproof and dangerous…


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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!


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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…?


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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!


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New Year’s Eve

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Usually, as we approach this day, my head will be full of good intentions and plans for the coming year, but this time it was different. For some inexplicable reason, I had been sadly lacking on the enthusiasm front.

Maybe it was all the shocking news of the celebrity deaths, linked to my own advancing years, or the state of the world in general. Hardly conducive to positive thinking.

But some things had managed to creep in, despite my misgivings. Several new ideas were on the table, and Anita and I were starting to build new strategies. I had also begun the arduous job of sorting out my photograph storage, something that had been getting progressively out of hand for a while. Computers are clever things, but the space on them isn’t finite.

I had also decided it was time I bought a mobile phone. Never thought I would ever want one, but I keep running into things I could handle better with one, the additional opportunity to publicise and promote our books being the main one. So, after a slow start, my enthusiasm was picking up.

And then it happened.

I was cooking the evening meal on New Year’s Eve when I began to feel dizzy. I tried to ignore it, but it got worse and I began to worry, for this was exactly how my heart attack started nearly four years ago. Intense dizziness, nausea and sweating – it seemed to be all happening again.

I spent the rest of the evening tucked up on the couch, too sick and giddy to move, keeping my eyes shut in an effort to stop the room from spinning. I had a headache but no fever, so it was probably a virus as it had come on so fast.

I had nightmare visions of being blind, unable to read or write. The dream of a mobile phone began to seem like a stupid idea.

It was a miserable being that listened to the chimes of Big Ben that night. Normally such a happy occasion, but was turning out to be anything but.

The following morning wasn’t much better. Not quite so nauseous, but my eyes were having a battle of their own. They simply didn’t want to work together. If I used one at a time, the room stayed still, use them together and I was back in the washing machine again. I ended up wearing an eye patch, which did allow me to check my emails.

I began to wonder about my eyesight, for I had previously been diagnosed with a cataract. Had it been on the Weetabix and grown big  enough to cause problems? I would have to see my optician as soon as possible to find out.

This was not how I envisioned beginning the New Year, and to say I wasn’t happy about it would be an understatement. Last year was a nightmare, what with the cancer and family problems, but the year had closed with the all clear after my first annual check-up.

But it would seem the fates are not finished with me yet, which is a shame, for I’m not ready to give in and go quietly just yet.


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Waiting …

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At this time of year, I am usually beginning to think about next year and all the things I plan to do. But it can be a bit depressing, reminding you of all the things you meant to do this year.

So I resolved not to do it again.

I am at the ripe old age now when all forward thinking starts to slow down, and mine seems to be at a standstill.

Since my encounter with cancer this time last year, dread has been having a running battle with my optimism. Some days are more positive and dread retreats into a corner, where it sits and glowers at me. It feels a bit like waiting for a train, only to hear the message “We apologise for the delay, but the next train has been cancelled…”

Waiting has never been something I have excelled at, but I have learned to be patient over the years, but this year has  really stretched it to the limit. You see, no one has actually said that the cancer has gone. The lump has been removed, so I should be fine, but until I hear those magic words, I will remain  ‘worried, from Hampshire…’

Gradually all through the summer months, I thought I had learned to ignore the lurking shadow of doubt. The fact that I had a book to finish writing helped a lot. But other parts of my life were suffering instead and most of the time I lived like a hermit, hardly ever leaving my office. Gardening was done out of desperation, when the grass and the weeds threatened to advance on the house. I stopped caring about how I looked or what I ate.

Consequently, I ended up looking like a well-fed tramp. My hair was too long and I looked like a witch. Luckily, the day I noticed all of this was one of the good days, and I resolved to pull up my socks.

I was surprised when the letter arrived, as it wasn’t quite the Christmas present I liked getting and I wasn’t expecting anything until the new year when my check-up was due. It was an appointment to be “imaged” again by the radiography team at my local hospital.

On Monday, they will do extensive imaging to check the site of the surgery and the results of the radiotherapy, and assess the healing process. The letter also warned me that I would not be told anything at this time; presumably, I will have to wait until February and the check-up appointment.

Have they any idea what my brain will do to me in the coming weeks?

 


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Interview With My Conscience…

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It was another Monday morning and I was asking myself the same old question. Why do I  bother with any of it? Anything that could possibly go wrong, usually does, and it was getting a bit wearing. Then my inner voice decided to join in the conversation.

Everyone feels like this sometimes, you are not unique you know…

Yes, I know we all have days when we think everything conspires against us, and life seems futile. Doesn’t help though.

You sound like a drama queen, one who is prone to over exaggeration…

I don’t think I have imagined the succession of near disasters that have played havoc with my life this year?

Okay, I will admit there have been one or two, but nothing to write home about…

How about my inability to successfully market anything. You have to admit I am hopeless?

Could be you’re just not smart enough, for it’s not exactly rocket science…

I can buy that one, for the results of my efforts speak for themselves.

You seem to be forgetting that you are OLD. That feeling of circling the drain is quite normal at your age you know…

There are days when I would agree, but others when I still feel competent enough for the job in hand.

But which of these days are the real ones, and not the ones that are the result of your own stupidity?

I know I have a few shortcomings, but there are also circumstances that are beyond my control.

Beyond your mental capacity, you mean…

A fine Jiminy Cricket you turned out to be, where is all the optimism, the encouragement?

I can only work with the material I have at my disposal. It’s not my fault if your grey matter isn’t up to scratch…

You know, all of this could be academic if my health gets any worse. I’m sure you have to agree that I am not imagining that?

I know it does all seem very real, but you have beaten the odds before, and will do again, I’m sure…

So, you would conduct my life differently, would you? You are coming across as a smug know-it-all, but you don’t drop any hints any more, do you? Isn’t that supposed to be part of your remit?

After a lifetime of trying my best for you, literally thousands of hints later, I have run out of ideas.  Banging my head against a wall is definitely not my scene…

So I am on my own now, you are retiring?

You still have your instincts, even though they malfunction far too often. It has brought you this far, however…

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“Some of us get to choose how we live our lives, whether to depend on our conscience, or wing it with instinct.

Heaven knows which is best, and I think it also knows what will happen to us.  I could do with a ‘heads up’ round about now…”

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The Perfect Place…

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Today was my first check-up since the course of radiotherapy ended, and I had been trying to convince myself that I wasn’t the least bothered, it was just routine after all. But as the day approached, my mood got blacker.

I didn’t understand. It was all over now, just the long wait for all the tissues to heal. Not just from the surgery, but the devastation of the radiotherapy too. Practically everything inside my breast had been nuked, or at least that’s what I ended up calling it. The theory being, that all the cells around the site of the original cancer are destroyed, just in case any of them intended to turn bad on me.

This sounded all right when they explained it to me in the beginning, but over the weeks and all the discomfort, you start to wonder just what is going on inside you. All kinds of things seem possible, if not probable. Every twinge makes you suspicious. Personally, it would take a perfectly clear mammogram to convince me I wasn’t harbouring another unwelcome visitor.

To be fair, the young doctor did seem to be concerned about the rather large lump still inside my breast. The consultant was summoned and measurements were taken, and after a furtive discussion, (which I couldn’t quite hear) it was all deemed ‘normal’ and ‘to be expected’.  BUT… and I waited, holding my breath.

“If it gets any bigger…or hot…or changes in any way… you must come back.” They explained the lump was a collection of fluid, the result of the cell destruction and should dissipate in time.  So that was all right then, I think.

Then I was dismissed, and it was time to go home. I knew we were closer to the sea than home, and I really needed a break. All that pulling and squeezing had made my breast very uncomfortable, so I persuaded my escort to head for Hayling Island. It’s not far from Portsmouth on the south coast and just a little remote, and I love the vast wildness of the place. The perfect place to gather your wits.

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It wasn’t sunny, but very mild. It was trying hard to rain and the sea was a mesmerizingly beautiful misty blue. There was rain out at sea, shrouding the Isle of Wight in a translucent mist. I plonked myself down on the shingle, merging my mind with the rhythm of the waves gently breaking in front of me. As the tension began to lift from my shoulders, I realised something, something I had refused to think about before. All those people in the clinic that day were all fighting for their lives to some degree. You would never guess how scared they must have been from looking at them though. It was a chilling thought that some of them probably wouldn’t make it.

But I had. I had beaten cancer, and the universe will never know how grateful I am…