06 March 2010

Doesn't Time Fly!

4 months of flying by in this case and it really has flown. There's been no time to sit around wondering what would happen next, although 'what next' is a constantly recurring question, just have to ask it on the run.

I got through my radiotherapy with eyelashes intact but a few bald patches, the most noticeable one right on the crown of my head at the parting but fortunately I couldn't see it in the mirror so I didn't let it bother me. More of a problem was the fact that I couldn't colour my hair until 3 months after my treatment finished - that's 4.5 months of re-growth and as the grey roots grew my confidence plummeted and I avoided looking in mirrors, shop windows or any vaguely reflective surface.

Of course life continued during these low ebb months and at a pace I've never experienced before, made worse by the tiredness caused by the radiotherapy.

The house purchase in England went through very smoothly, so smoothly we completed about 10 days early. That meant moving only 3 days after my treatment finished and spending a weekend packing boxes when I should have been resting. Of course I thought it would be fine because I could rest at the other end but oh no, that was not to be. We couldn't get the heating going in the new house, a very old house but new to us, and then the weather turned nasty, well it was December. We were without heating, other than a borrowed convector heater, for 3 weeks and spent much of it huddled in to 1 room. The rest of the time we were running around trying to get quotes for various jobs and visiting hospitals to see a close friend who was very ill and some general running about helping to get things sorted for him.

Even Christmas couldn't go smoothly as I had to pick the kids up on different days, one of them on Christmas day afternoon while the dinner was cooking on a low heat. Peaceful it wasn't but I guess it was kind of fun in the end and they both stayed a few days so we had some rest time.

January saw the round of hospital visits start up again for myself as well as our friend this time and I had the first of two trips up to Glasgow for check ups, the second being in February. All is well with my treatment and I'm not due another check until September but we are on regular hospital trips with our friend who is now on chemotherapy. That's likely to go on until mid April at least.

In the middle of all this we have still been trying to sort our our house refurbishment and have only got round to the bathroom re-fit this week, 3 months after moving in. It was a nightmare getting quotes and the reality of the refit has been worse - a week and it's still not finished. I am now sworn off more work on the house for a few months apart from essential jobs or minor decorating but despite all that I've been looking for a job. Yes, with all that going on I've still managed to get bored.

Physical activity and stress do not necessarily stimulate the mind and they certainly do nothing to help with the lack of routine and stability. Of course jobs are scarce at the moment and with my recent medical history it's tough convincing employers I'm not a bad risk so in the short term I've decided to do some voluntary work. Next week I start work with a charity called Headway that works with people who have an acquired brain injury. It seemed kind of appropriate since my tumour is technically a brain tumour, although I've been lucky and not suffered any neurological damage - or as the registrar put it "the effects are mainly mechanical"!

As new beginnings go this one is taking a long time to get going but hopefully I'm on the right road now, after all it's March and that means Spring is just around the corner. The season of new beginnings.

25 October 2009

Catching Up

It's been quite a while since I was last here and a lot has happened since then. One important thing didn't happen though. After months of legal wrangling over water rights and environmentally correct drainage we were forced to pull out of the purchase of the cottage. We were disappointed and more than a little bit pissed off about the amount of money we had spent on surveys and legal fees but life goes on and we had to sit down and take stock of our situation and what to do next.

Things had moved on with the treatment plan for my meningioma and we knew that the radiotherapy would be finished well before Christmas. We also new that once it started we would be pretty much trapped were we are for around 6 weeks and since all my family are a 6-7 hour drive away it really brought it home to me how isolated we are here. My original intention was to go back to work full time and maybe see if I could carve a career of sorts but the meningioma got in the way of that and as we'd moved to a new area that meant my opportunity to meet people was gone. I had no support network, just my husband and it's not fair to put the whole burden of my condition (I refuse to accept that it's an illness) on him so I tend to bottle things up because there's no-one to talk to. Add to this my parents aren't in great health and my kids are struggling in the recession and the choices narrowed. The final thing that tipped the balance was location. We have problems with anti-social behaviour were we are and really don't know the local area, or anywhere in Scotland, well enough to make an informed choice.

We decided there was only one thing to do. Move back to England, to the area where we have family, friends and a reasonable knowledge of the localities. Conscious of the start date of my treatment we decided to go down for a long weekend to do some house hunting. Using the internet we made a short list of possibles and set up the appointments, then headed down the motorway for a busy weekend.

No 1 was on a very busy road opposite a big pub, so we politely looked round and then immediately crossed it off our list.

No 3 was OK. I can't describe it as any better than that but it just didn't wow us with any possibilities.

No 4 was a nice house, with definite possibilities but on another very busy road, we struggled to park just to view it, so that one was out as well.

No 5 was very nearly the one. Needed lots of work but had possibilities, then we found out that a fair with a potential for trouble was held in a park behind the house regularly. With the trouble we've had where we are that ruled that one out.

No 6 was another nice house but to make it suit us we would have had to knock down walls and that would have been messy, time consuming and it still wouldn't have been what we really wanted.

That brings me back to No 2. In a quiet village, reasonably near to parents, a little further from the kids but close enough and most importantly, the almost perfect layout for us. It was a house we didn't think existed but here it was - and also substantially over budget! We only booked the viewing as a wild card choice and I'd actually hoped I wouldn't like it, ho hum, more thinking to be done.

Well we thought and we added up and we subtracted and we realised that we really couldn't afford it but could try an offer, which would still be a gamble but sometimes you have to do that.

So we did. We put in a low offer, rejected. A higher offer, acceptable with a but. Then a surprise compromise from the seller, which sent us off in to another round of soul searching and counting the pennies after which we were the ones to accept.

We're now two weeks in to the buying process and so far so good. If luck is on our side this time, and I think we deserve it, we'll be done & dusted by mid December and living in our new (to us) home and asking for paint & wallpaper as Christmas presents.

One last thing, probably the most important but I'm still trying to ignore it. My radiotherapy started last Tuesday. So far it's going well. I still have all my hair, my eyelashes are intact and the only thing making me tired is the silly time I have to get up to go to the hospital. I hope it stays that way.

26 August 2009

Plans? Huh!

We may still have a cottage to buy but it's not gonna happen when we planned. The paperwork that turned up was missing one vital piece and despite our solicitors chasing it as soon as they became aware it still hadn't surfaced by late this afternoon. That leaves us only 3 working days till the end of the month so there is no chance of completing for then.

The new date they are working towards is 11th September. Yeah, I know it's only another 2 weeks but that depends on them finding the missing piece of paper or finding a way round it!

20 August 2009

Busy Times

Our dream cottage is moving a little closer to reality.

After a delay of almost a month because the owner didn't have the correct title deeds the paperwork is finally on it's way to our solicitor. Thanks to a specialist legal post service they use here in Scotland it will definitely be with them tomorrow and, amazingly, they think we can still complete on time as long as there are no strange clauses in the contract.

That gives us just 7 working days! Sounds impossible but everyone's finances are in place so it's just a paper trail and as we won't be moving in straight away there's no frantic packing to do.

First job, once we get the keys, will be to assess what we have with all the clutter cleared then work out a programme of works with the aim of moving in before Christmas. There are walls to be stripped and insulated, bathrooms to be moved, a new kitchen to be fitted and complete re-decoration throughout. We may even move the front door if the current (vague) plan comes together. I plan to take lots of before & after pictures and a blog on the progress or lack of! I don't do video so a video diary is not an option.

Oh my, that means I'll be working through NaNo, maybe I can combine the refurbishment with a tale of hidden rooms and unearthed treasures :-) If that wasn't enough we also have a pre-booked weekend away in September and a wedding to go to on 31st October down in England. Busy, busy, busy!

NaNoWriMo Time

Yay, only 10 weeks (ish) till NaNo starts :-)

Oh my! Time to get thinking :/

17 August 2009


It's hard to believe it's been over a year since I wrote anything here. The last time I did my life was full of renewed hope and expectations some of which have been met and exceeded but in other ways I've crashed & burned; I just hope there's a little bit of phoenix somewhere in my genes.

The good bits first.

I found a great writers group. It was difficult at first, so many of the members are established professional writers or very accomplished amateurs, but they made me welcome and I've made some good friends. Better still, working with them has given me the confidence to push my own writing that bit further. I even won a couple of awards! Now I just have to find the confidence to submit something for publication.

The not so good.

I managed to find work, not bad for someone who had been out of the work place for 3 years so had no up to date skills. Unfortunately it didn't last long as it was with a bank in the middle of the financial crisis. I didn't get laid off, I couldn't stand the appalling way they treated their customers or the bullying culture within the organisation; so I left. Stupid I know but morality has always won over common sense with me. I took another job in an office but, just like the bank, they managed through bullying and intimidation. I could have stayed and fought but health problems were being worsened by the working conditions so I gave up another job.

Which brings me to the bad bit.

I have a meningioma, which is a type of brain tumour, but in my case it's wrapped around my optic nerve. A swelling behind my eye was discovered during a routine eye test just 10 days after we arrived in the UK and was eventually diagnosed as a meningioma after 2 MRI scans and consultations with an ophthalmologist and a neurosurgeon.

Fortunately it's benign; probably. Because of the location they can't do a biopsy and removal is impossible so it'll be fractionated radiotherapy sometime very soon to stop it from growing. They can't shrink it though so once the treatment is over I'll be exploring new career options as the damage to my eyesight is irreversible and I can no longer use computers quickly enough for a commercial environment. My sight is still good but my eyes don't work together properly so fast scanning of screens is difficult, as is concentrating on a computer screen for any length of time.

But I'm one of the lucky ones; it could have been so much worse. If we hadn't moved countries it might not have been discovered for years, it's not malignant and the doctors can preserve most of my sight. I'm counting my blessings.

Good things to come.

We're in the process of buying a very old cottage which will take some months to restore but when it's done will give us more space and I will have a study to work in and maybe make those writing dreams come true. It's always good to have a dream.

17 April 2008

Moving On

The decision is made and I can't, don't want to, turn back but it's still scary. After 2½ years in Spain we've decided to leave. The weather's great, most of the time, and the people, the ordinary people that is, are mostly nice, welcoming and tolerant of us guiris but the country is so corrupt, the authorities so hostile and obstructive that we've decided to cut our losses and move to more friendly shores. So in a about 12 weeks time we're off to Scotland. No guaranteed sunshine but one of the friendliest countries I've ever been to and a government that welcomes enterprise and actively helps people to achieve their dreams, from the born and bred to the newest of immigrants. I don't know what our future holds but at least we have one now instead of stagnating in the negativity of Spain.

24 September 2007

Short Story Competition

I've entered 2 stories in to the TooWrite short story competition. The titles are Frogs, Snails and a Stegasauraus, which you can find at www.toowrite.com/frogs-snails-and-a-stegasauraus-8988 and La Elegante, which you can find at www.toowrite.com/la-elegante-9529

The competition closed on September 20th and then went to a 2 week voting period, so about 10 days left if anyone wants to take a look.

That's if there's anyone out there reading this!