Friday, 17 January 2014

And they'll never know.... (last post)

It has been such a long time since I last wrote in here.

This is a pre-lude to my final post, so please, humour me and read on...if you've shared in or read about the journey thus far, it's important.

I started this blog after the death of little Polly, and the realisation of how much writing helped me to vent my feelings, or to be able to share her with the world.

I was doing a Shirley Valentine - but where she talked to the wall, I, in turn, wrote on my blog.

I haven't written for a long time now, and the main reason for this is, oddly, when I was nominated for a MADS Blog Award, I became very aware of exactly how many people were reading this blog...and it scared me, for a moment.  You put you blog "out there" but truly, I didn't expect anyone to ever really read it, never-mind people to re-visit time and time again and nominate it for an award.  I suddenly felt pressure.... to write... but also to use my blog for some "purpose" and to give it some direction.

I think I knew, when I wrote my Season Of Goodwill posts, that I was starting to round-up my blogging days.

I've felt guilty about not fully sharing my journey of parental grief through blogging, in order to offer others hope & support, but it is because I have become slightly braver.  I currently don't write to the wind and expect people to identify with me - instead in recent months I have finally felt able to offer my hand out in person, and step forward and say "I'm so sorry" to those who have experienced similar losses.  A subtle difference, but a very positive move forward.  I can use the devastating experience of Polly, and my experience of losing her, in a positive light, in the same way that others used their experiences to help me through my darkest times.

It has taken an ENORMOUS amount of time to get to this point, to where I feel comfortable enough in my own thoughts and feelings to do this.  And we're here.

For now I will concentrate on my family, on life itself, on utilising my experiences in a positive & supportive way, which includes my return to work, full-time.  Now returned to a role where my passion lies, with re-found faith in my own ability as a professional.

The job thing, actually, was my final piece in my post-Polly jigsaw puzzle.  When you lose a child (although I suspect this is the same for any life-affecting moment / illness /  bereavement, etc) you are rocked to your core.  Not only, in it's basic form, do you not anticipate or prepare in any way for this happening (how can you, it's not "meant" to happen, is it?), but the entire world in which you live changes.  It is an extremely gradual process of re-building yourself as a mother....and a daughter...a sister....a friend....and as a professional.

The final piece, as I say, of my jigsaw puzzle, was finding myself as a professional.  In my last job - which I did for a year & which was also my first since we lost Polly, I made a tough choice.   On Day 1 I knew I'd be asked "how many children do you have" and I carefully thought through and prepared my answer which was, and has always since been "well, I have twins who are 5 and a toddler".  I didn't say I have 4 children (which I do), but nor did I say I have 3.  I don't define myself, on that first moment of meeting someone as "bereaved Mummy", but nor do I omit my beautiful girl either.  Instead, I gave my colleagues at my last job, a clear run to getting to know ME.

It felt a gamble, an emotional one.  But I do believe it paid off.

Later down the line, much later, I spoke about Polly, and happily & comfortably so. But by that point my colleagues knew me; we worked hard together, we laughed, we joked, we put the world to rights, and my colleagues knowing about Polly didn't, by that point, make any difference to how they viewed me.  The funny jibes, the mickey-taking, the still continued.  Which over time, allowed my confidence in myself as a person, but importantly  a professional to grow again.

The pieces of my puzzle are all now, I feel, back in place.  In a different way round to how they might've been before, but one which still works.

And they'll never know....they'll never know, those lovely ex-colleagues of mine, how important my time with them was.  How much it was so lovely to meet them, especially the ones I will stay in touch with... but even for those who I won't, how each and every encounter between us in the professional sense was part of fitting that final puzzle piece into place.... the triumphant moments, and the challenging ones all of you... thank you.

*Dedicated to my ex-colleagues and my long-suffering readers and supporters both of the blog & myself/my family...... thank you*

Monday, 1 April 2013

Meet the family - Squeaky

Meet Squeaky, one of our 3 cats.

He came to live with us (well my parents, at the time) about 12 years ago.  A lady up the road from us had died, and we knew that she had a huge collection (I am thinking over a dozen)of feline companions.  What happened to all the others, I'm unsure.  But Squeaky (he tends not to meow but utter a shriek/squeak instead when he wants to make his presence known) started arriving on the doorstep.

A few feeds later, and he never left the house again.  Swiftly, he moved from outside, to inside, and to my knowledge has never left the boundary of our garden/house ever since.

He's a creature of habit, loves lap-cuddles, goes somewhat crazy over any toy containing cat-nip, and his one identifiable mark is his beauty spot - a little spot next to his nose.

Last November, Squeaky became poorly.  After a few trips to the vets, an ear infection/irritation was diagnosed, and we started a long road of different ear-washes / antibiotics and steroids, given in various doses and combinations.  All seemed to help a little, but none completely eradicated the problem.

Recently we knew that we only had one option left. It was the one that we had tried to avoid, in terms of his age (he's no spring chicken...she says, pointing out the obvious...given he's cat, but anyhoo).  When the day came, I was convinced he wouldn't be coming home again.  I said my goodbyes, and accepted, in the best way I could, that we had tried everything possible to make him better.

Much to all of our surprise and delight, Squeaky came home later that day! He had sailed through the surgery!  The relief was ENORMOUS.

We're many weeks down the line since then, and Squeaky had continued to do well. He hadn't looked back since his surgery; he was happier, more agile and generally much brighter in himself.  Ok, so as a result of his surgery cancer of a gland in his ear had been identified, but it was thought and hoped that this was in many inconsequential - if we could keep on top of his ear irritation/infections, then he may well outlive the cancer anyway.

And then, out of blue, last week he suddenly looked really old.  His face looked different; weary, almost.  And we suspected he'd lost weight.  We spoke to our lovely vet, and agreed that we'd bring him in in another couple of days if we were concerned.  I hoped, that because our other cat had been through similiar surgery, that I was simply being paranoid.

But here we are, a few more days later. Squeaky has lost a lot of weight, clearly.  Having refused his usual medication in his food, and not wanting to eat at all, we are now changing our tactics of abandoning his medication altogether, and simply encouraging him to eat anything he fancies.

It's not working... yesterday he climbed feebly into the open section of the tv cabinet, went to sleep, and has barely left there since.  He is wobbly, and frail.  On the positive, when from time to time (we're trying to get the balance between reassuring him we're here but not disturbing him too much) we post a hand into the cabinet, a little furry head responds, and purrs.

He's in no distress or discomfort to our knowledge.  But equally is too feeble now to make the trip to the vets which at the best of times upsets him incredibly.

We know, instinctively, where we are heading.... While our little furry guy remains comfortable, he will stay here at home, where he is always happiest.

I wanted to write this blog post, it suddenly feels imortant to tell you about how after our house fire, I didn't sleep well in the first few days.  It could've been because of all the emotional  over-load, but part of it for sure was because when I slept in the tiny caravan by the house, a certain furry person slept in my sleeping bag with me; only disturbing me when he felt it was breakfast time by batting me on the head with his paw.  It was a happy sleeplessness... he was a wonderful and constant companion during tough times.  I could tell you also how on New Years Eve this year, we sat down with our 3 children to play a game at one point, and Squeaky nudged his way into the ring as if to say "hey, my turn next".  There's so many tales to tell, and the one, heavy-hearted reality is that since Dad died, we have only ever been the "keepers" of Squeaky.  We love him, and I hope the feeling is mutual, but he was, and still is, always Dad's baby.  We have only ever been in loco-parentis.  Much as we love him.

While we're still in positive times, I also need to talk about our vet.  In my eyes, a vet is like a GP - often several in a practice, and after a few visits, you generally identify one who you feel is right for you.  From thereon, you don't visit another GP.  Our vet has been very much the same.  It's difficult to express how reassuring it has been during our many visits with Squeaky, to know always that he is treated with great knowledge, experience, professionalism and the care that comes from being a genuine cat-lover.  Her skills extend beyond this - as parents-in-loco we have been shown support, empathy, and always a much needed element of humour, too.  It's not just our vet who's been wonderful, her colleagues have been too.  It was with great relief, as I was checking Squeaky out from his operation, that as a couple of large dogs came into the surgery the receptionists beckoned me to pass Squeaks to them, to keep him from being worried.  On every level, I know that the minute any of our furry family enter the vets' surgery, their needs will be met.

I feel bad that Squeaky's first appearance in my blog is probably going to be his last, too.  But right now, he's here.  He's very much an important member of the family.  It just so happens that he's a furry member, and a very poorly furry member too.

Squeaky/Squeaks/Squeaky-Woo-Woo... I hope you have SO much more time with us....but if you don't, I hope you know how loved you are; how much your amazing vet has tried to help you..most of all right now I hope that whatever time there is to come for you is comfortable. X

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Night cream is for...crisps

Something a little unpredicted fell into my shopping basket today.  It has crossed my mind for a while now to make that big leap; I have tried to resist it, but obviously my subconscious mind took hold over my conscious mind today.

I work in an office.. and as with every office I've ever known, it can be a dry environment; I talk a lot (it's my job to do so!) and since working there I have noticed my skin has been quite dry.

I've tried the obvious tricks... a bit of fresh air, moisturising regularly, drinking plenty of fluids, etc.  Yet still, my face especially feels dry.

So today I became the owner of one small jar of night cream.

For the record, for anyone who happens to visit my house and spot my little blue pot by my bedside (why are they always blue?)..... my reason for having it there is simply because I often get hungry in the night and turn to crisps.  Any seasoned crisp-muncher needs a dip.... what more can I say....

I don't remember my Mum ever having "night cream".  I do, however, vividly remember my Nan having some.

Crisps, crisps is my reason..... we'll say no more on this matter....

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Good, The Sad, and The Grubby

So it's been Mothers' Day here... and what does that mean?  Chance to be thankful for all that our mothers have done and do for us... and chance for those of us who have children, to enjoy, in whatever form it comes, their thanks.

I imagine that there have been treats-a-plenty across the land.  I am guessing, also, that there will have been varying levels of anti-climax, and for some, much sadness too.

The sadness thing in particular strikes a chord with me... I thought of several who have lost children and/or mothers, and hope that each of these friends of mine found their way through the day, despite their sadness.

For anyone interested, here are some snapshots of our day....

I had a lie-in until almost lunchtime!  I was awake long before then, but made the most of the opportunity to laze in bed...bliss!

My giggling brood brought me breakfast, or should that be brunch, in bed, and eagerly handed me their gifts with so much pride and enthusiasm that I couldn't help but smile.
There were some chocolates....

Which not-so-mysteriously quickly disappeared....

And some sweet peas, which the twins were more than happy to help me plant, and is the reason that they had an un-planned "swim" in the bath....

We also went to the Church.  The twins wished Polly, Granny & Grandad a happy anniversary (!) and I wished my Mum a happy Mothers' Day, and hoped that she wouldn't mind sharing her flowers with Polly and my Dad, too.

It was a lovely day.  I know that despite the sadness that was felt and carefully "filed", I am very, very fortunate.

I hope everyone reading this had a good day, too... Katie x