Joy and Pain

21 07 2014

Its been a while, and as ever, things have not been quiet! Im sure the needle that weaves my life’s rich tapestry must be the size of a giants darning needle so huge are the events that I am in the midst of.

We have been blessed with the birth of Pippin and Roy’s first baby, a beautiful little boy called Charlie, delivered at home at the most serene and peaceful birth ever, by the birth goddess mother Candace, no pain relief (hypno- birthing at its best), an amazing birth plan and surrounded by total love from Roy, Doula Steph, me and her lovely midwife. Although things got a little harem scarem directly after the birth and Charlie needed to spend a week in NICU he is absolutely fine, a wonderfully precious boy and he is bringing huge amounts of joy, pleasure and love to our life. He is a little star and my heart soars every time I see him 🙂

I look on in wonder at how Pippin has taken to being a mummy, so natural, so calm, so full of love for her son and it touches my heart to see Roy cherishing both my daughter and his son. We are lucky indeed.

Its been really sad for me and Alistair that he has missed out on so much of this precious time in our life, whereas previously he would have been able to be a huge part in what was going on, now, due to his very limited mobility it has been virtually impossible for him to be hands on. I am experiencing first hand the tough and difficult times the ‘well half’ of the couple faces when ill health makes itself an uninvited guest in a relationship.

I will never again overlook the journey of the spouse, believe me, its hard, tough and calls for great strength and love. I know for  all  family members its painful, terribly painful to have a loved one experiencing illness, but, once their visits are over and they make their way home albeit with heavy hearts, they go back to their lives, to their partners, to their families, to their worlds that still function, their worlds that still have normal everyday activities, holidays, days out. All the things that I know I took for granted that we did together and now for the time being, we don’t have. The life of the “well half” of the couple takes on a whole new shape and I have had to adapt to that shape since our return from Germany. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint, not by any means. I am simply communicating a view that up until this point in my life I had never really understood.

For the past 5 weeks or so Alistair has been receiving high dose vitamin C and local hyperthermia at the lovely clinic in Sussex. He’s really enjoyed the treatment and the calming totally loving atmosphere of the clinic. It has been quite draining for him although his sister and brother in law have been amazing and their support and practical help has been invaluable.

Things went a bit pear shaped at the weekend. The pain Alistair was experiencing seemed to crescendo (brought on we think by his inability to pee AGAIN) and it got to a point where he just couldn’t take it anymore – he’s a big man, a brave man, a strong man but this brought him to his knees. Gillian and I had first hand experience of how the new(ish) 111 non emergency service simply doesnt work. We made a call to 111 at 8pm saturday evening, asking for a GP to visit Alistair at his sisters address. Once we got rid of the monkey (first point of contact at 111) the clinical specialist was brilliant, assessed the situation appropriately and said it would be flagged as absolute priority and someone would be out within 2 hours………

We called again at 10:30, oops the system said it had been logged by the appropriate provider but it appears not to have been logged at all. Nobody knew about us yet.

12am, spoke to some old dinosaur GP, a buffoon it would seem who only had a mouth and no ears apparently! He didn’t see this as urgent, he’d worked in the NHS for 40 years (like we gave a shit), he only came on duty at 11pm and didnt care that we had been waiting for 4 hours already. He would be out but he had others to see first so no idea how long.

You should have seen the pair of us, up at the window every time we heard a car like a couple of kids waiting for something really exciting to arrive! We had equipped Alistair with a Walky Talky ( a proper one, you see at Gillian and Paul’s why wouldn’t you be able to lay your hands immediately on a set of Walky Talky’s). Well that squeaked into action at one point and broke the waiting monotony. Alistair had managed to dose but had woken to ‘moth gate’! The windows had been left open and a lamp light on, great open invite to all the moths in the neighbourhood to hang out.

So we amused ourselves by watching endless TV, narrowly avoided buying knitted jar covers form the teleshopping chanel and expected at any moment to either get a phone call from the GP to say he was outside or hear the door buzzer go and let him in. Oh and we drank endless cups of tea.

About 18 phone calls and 12 hours later, yes you read that correctly…12 HOURS… still no GP, well not in Sussex anyway, we found out that the buffoon GP with no ears did visit, but in Saffron Walden where we were not! And, his 40 years experience in the NHS hadn’t taught him to call the number that he had to find out why we were not answering his knock at the door. I think at this point hysteria had almost set in!

A lovely GP did finally turn up at 0930, almost 14 hours form our first request. She was very apologetic, agreed with the rest of the country that 111 single point of contact is pants and administered some heavy duty pain killer to Alistair. I haven’t pulled an all nighter for a long long time, about 17 years I think and in those days there would have been plenty of alcohol to help the hours go by. Still, we had Boarder Control Australia eh Gillian  and I also watched Oceans 11 for the first time which my children will tell you is not my sort of film (I didn’t realise until the end though that they were actually robbing a casino)!!

So, Alistair is back home now with me in Saffy, so we can be together for a while until his treatment resumes again and we have actually had amazing service today from our local GP and the district nurse. We are getting some ongoing care from MacMillan (looks like I will definitely be hosting a fundraising coffee morning for them now..please come) and Alistair is more comfortable and in remarkably good spirits again.

So as I said, its been a while and things haven’t been quiet! And I haven’t even mentioned the ongoing saga of my poor parents enforced separation!

Until next time 🙂




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