Be running up that hill…

Chronic illness is great at kicking you when you’re down. Lamentably, it also likes to give you a dunt when you’re flying too. It would be taxing to say which is worst, but falling from a height certainly hurts.

That was me last week. I was on a lovely break in the cutest cottage by sea. Soaking up the calming sea side views and thoroughly enjoying time with my nephew. The sun was out, we headed to an incredibly beautiful beach. I watched the boy run around having the time of his life. I paddled in the refreshingly cold sea. Took deep breaths, listened to the lapping waves & felt happy.

Tide coming in on st Cyrus beach

As it edged towards late afternoon people started to leave. I began to worry about the hill I’d have to climb to leave the beach. As we packed up I saw people stroll up. I knew it was going to be a problem.

And I was correct. That little sand dune fucked me up. I started trying to ascend it alone, but quickly realised that wasn’t going to happen. It’s hard to get your footing on slopping sand. Even harder to get purchase in moving ground with a walking stick. With every step the sand slid down the hill pushing me back. It was all working against me.

Foot with black painted tie nails on the sand with wave approaching

My sister saved the day. She let me lean on her, literally & half dragged me up that hill. Every step was excruciating. My knees felt like the where going to explode. My back, wrists, elbows & shoulders were all screaming. I couldn’t catch a breath, my lungs felt as though they were filling with the sand I was slipping on.

That little sand dune appeared to go on forever. The bench at top a promised land I’d never reach. Listen, the pain was bad, it wasn’t the culprit of tears at the summit. As my sister helped me struggle I saw my 3yr old nephew gamble up the slope. An old couple comfortably passed us. A nice man with a very concerned look stopped to ask if he could help. I focused on breathing whilst my little sister pepped talked me up that hill. I repeated ‘you’re nearly there’ in my head and tried my upmost to hold back the tears.

When I finally had my bum on that bench my nephew ran to give me a cuddle. The tears started streaming. I looked at the beautiful view as I silently cried. I didn’t want to make eye contact with my loved ones. I didn’t want my little rascal to see me in this state. I recognised the concern in my sister’s voice & the love in the silent shoulder my Mum offered to hold me upright. As much as I loved them for it, I hated that I have to be this way.

View from hill over a beach.grass & wildflowers with sand past leading down to the blue sea

It was another one of those ‘how did I get here’ moments that chronic illness brings. I never imagined it’d take a support team to get me up a hill at 40 years old. I’m not a person who likes to be publicly vulnerable, yet here I am. Regularly fragile & exposed as I try to scratch out something close to a normal life. I felt guilty and embarrassed and pathetic and grateful and burdensome and scared and loved. All crashing over me with more force than the waves below could ever muster.

I concentrated on the nature around me as fought to compose myself. I attempted to ignore the curious looks from strangers & the pain coursing through my body. I listened to the the waves and birds. I let the blue horizon pull me through all the heavy implications placed on the people I love. I dried my eyes. I got back on my feet.

The day continued. Me, making my way slowly behind the others. Stopping to rest. Taking pain relief. Zoning out when we got back in the car. It was all so much bigger than that stupid hill. I was hoping I hadn’t distressed the others. Dreading the pain that I knew was still to come. Feeling sad at the thought that I probably wouldn’t ever return to that blissful beach.

It is painful to accept one’s limitations. I find it incredibly hard to let more & more go. I hate that I’m always the one who has a problem with the plans. I despise that my difficulties are so visible. Gasping for air at checkouts that take a fraction too long. Sitting on floors when there’s no seats available. Calling in advance to check if my malfunctioning body can be accommodated. I don’t like being on display, don’t want to answer questions about my stick, shake off the exasperated sighs or smile at pitying strangers. No matter how kindly meant, I’d rather be suffering in private. I’m exhausted by the knowledge that I’ll pay for every slice of fun. Even more so by the battle with myself to keep reaching for those good times anyway. Most of all I’ll forever regret how much this impacts all the wonderful people in my life. I wish I could stop being a hindrance. I never want them to have to worry. I appreciate every tiny thing they do for me, but I still wish they didn’t have to.

This is chronic life. It’s not just the pain & illness. It is all encompassing. Lots of the time the only way to deal with that is to push it to the very back of your mind. These moments of brutal clarity never stop taking me by surprise.

Put on your white dress…

I still can’t quite believe it, but my baby sister got married on Saturday. It was a wonderful day. She made an absolutely beautiful bride and everything went perfectly to plan.

My sister will always be stunning, so I had no fears about her finding the perfect gown. I, on the other hand was at panic stations. I searched & searched, but couldn’t find anything that worked. Finally, I found this pretty little number. I’m not usually one for sparkles, but this dress captured my heart.

ly is wearing green sparkly swing dress with gold belt & sandals
Dress – Dolly & Delicious
Belt – Boohoo
Kimono – Joanna Hope
Sandals – Schuh
Glasses – Where.light
Make Up – Stefanie Ferry

I felt awesome in my swishy skirt & shiny accessories. I loved watching my little sister seal the deal with her person surrounded by the people she cares most about. I’m so proud of the cute wee pest who has become the most incredible woman. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

Sunshine on a rainy day…

I hesitate to write that life is starting again because, well, we’ve been here before. I’m really hoping this time we really are on the road to recovery. In the meantime I will share pretty much every presentable look.

The relaxing of lockdown meant when we got rained out of the swing park we could continue the play date indoors. I wore an amazing linen dress that my excellent Mum found. The kiddies wore leggings that they managed to get dirty in 5 mins. Fun was had by all.

ly is standing by a brass floor wrap wearing a grey & green striped shirt dress and big square red & green glasses
Dress – Zea
Glasses – Where.light

The only thing cuter than me in this dress is of course these two little darlings.

Two toddlers kneeling in floor  playing.  One with arm around the other

There’s gold in them hills…

I’m having a rough time. Everything is a bit of a struggle at the moment, so I’m going to do a wanky, hippie dippy post. Feel free to clock out because I’m about to deep dive into gratitude.

All the Basics

I have a safe, stable home. Food in the cupboards. Running water, central heating. Access to healthcare. A comfortable bed & wardrobe full of clothes. My basic necessities are taken care of and that’s more than a lot of people can say.

FaceTime

And WhatsApp, messenger, zoom & all the other clever doo dahs that allow me to keep in touch with folk. A friendly face or some carry on helps brighten my day.

Pillow Slides

Bought on a whim. Incredibly ugly, but oh so kind to my joints.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a genius plant. First & foremost it’s hard to kill. If you don’t have plant mum skills aloe is for you. It looks good, it adds oxygen to your room & it’s even easy to grow more from cuttings etc. Added bonus, our bodies love aloe. Need a moisturise, got sunburn, heat rash, a blister? Cut open a leaf and whap it straight on. Upset tummy, mouth ulcers, bad breath, ibs? Add a teaspoon to a glass of water. Wonder plant*

Temporary Solutions

I have a lot of issues with no permanent cure. Hence I have grown to appreciate a temporary solution. Diazepam is certainly not for long term use, but it bloody works for a day or two when your brain thinks the world is attacking you. Jane Austen will not fix my life, but she will soothe things for an hour or two. Whilst mint tea can’t cure my stomach disease, it can soothe the spasms attempting to eat lunch caused. They will return, but the minty goodness will buy me enough time to get home. Temporary solutions are various & abundant. Hugs, hot baths, sex, lidocaine patches, a big glass of wine… Moments of respite are better than none at all.

The Sea

Everything about the sea is soothing. The never ending expanse of it, the smell, the sound of the waves lapping. I always feel calmer by the shore. I can breathe deeper and see more clearly. Pretty lucky that I live on an island. The dazzling deep blue is never too far away.

Bronan

My lovely big loyal boy. Always gentle. My own living hot water bottle. An adorable wee tyrant who has me wrapped around his paw. Who doesn’t want to be awoken by a meowing creature in their face at the crack of dawn every morning?

Vincent D’Onforio

I like how brooding he is and that head moving to maintain eye contact thing he does on Law & Order. He seems like he’d be clumsily kind if you were feeling bad. He’s always despicable when he plays a baddy, which I like, no half measures. I get completely absorbed in the character when I watch him. I always believe it. Also, good name.

Summer Rain Showers

I like the ones that come on heavy, but run out of juice quickly. Summer rain smells good, it freshens everything up and gives me a good excuse not to hang the washing out.

Diet Coke

It is really bad for me, but it tastes soooo good. Big icy cold gulps. I don’t know how to quit you, Diet Coke.

Specs Appeal

Statement specs bring me joy. If I have to wear glasses every day they are going to be splendiferous. Big, colourful, can’t be missed face furniture is the only kind I will consider.

Ian Hislop

It’s very sexy when a person is that good at anything. He exudes the confidence of knowing he’s top of his game. He can slag off the bad guys with impunity because he leads a pretty decent life. He is cute and funny and incredibly smart. I’ve always been fairly sure that he has a huge, beautiful dick too.

Love

This might be where my sincerity gets too much for you. I care not. Life really wouldn’t be worth much without love. Giving or receiving, it’s wonderful. All those little thoughtful things a person does because they love you. Tiny gifts, texts, snapping a pic of something you’ll like. It all feels good. The warmth of knowing I’ve made someone smile or that they wanted to make me smile. Being able to comfort with your words or a cuddle. Sharing milestones & cups of tea. Love is the point, right? How can we not feel grateful if we have it.

Period Pants

A new thing for me and I like them. Wearing a pair to bed is so much better than using a tampon & worrying you might sleep too long. Likewise, so much better for those last days when you’re not quite sure if your period is actually finished or not. I can’t stand the feel of sanitary towels. Nor do I relish the sensation (or risk) of pulling dry cotton from my body. Period pants are a comfy godsend.

Choice

I’m so happy to live in a time (& place) of choice. So many aspects of my life offers abundant options. I can access almost any song in the world from my phone. Look up current affairs, trivia, what time the chemist closes by pressing a few buttons. I have films, shows, games, podcasts, strangers & friends at my finger tips. Whatever food I fancy can be delivered to my door. In theory I can pursue any career I’d like. I can vote how I choose. Do as I please with my body. Get married or not. Sleep with who I want. Wear what I like & go wherever I want (pandemic aside). Choice is not to be sniffed at.

Gardeners

Hallelujah for folk who will sort the garden in exchange for money. I am physically & constitutionally unsuited to maintaining outside spaces. I do however enjoy utilising them. I also like not stressing about ever encroaching weeds. I will never underestimate the peace securing a good gardener brings.

Little People

I have seven perfect niblings. My oldest niece is the smartest, coolest, kindest 11yr old you will ever meet. She will always be my little muffin, but she has grown into a person who makes me so proud. Then there are my brother’s boys who are his complete mini mes. His oldest is so patient & protective with his little brother. It is gorgeous to watch. My sister’s boy is half rascal pirate, half total love bug. He is a joy to be with. My bestie’s big girl is so cute & sassy. She may only be three, but that girl knows what she wants. Then there are her brand new little brother & sister. Newborn twins are a hand full but man alive are they adorable. I am so lucky to be part of their lives. Helping them become the people they want to be is an honour.

Disabled Ammenities

Parking spaces, toilets, seats right by the door on trains. I love them all. Anything that takes into account that every step hurts is a life saver. Extra space, bars to hold onto, not having to wait, all make my life immeasurably easier. Disability can rob you of dignity in so many ways. Things that allow me to navigate public spaces without being humbled are magnificent.

Sister Tik Toks

I love it when my sister and I send each other tik toks. I feel very seen when she sends me clips that make me laugh out loud or that relate to some shared experience. Having a sister is a lovely thing. Having a sister who gets you is even better.

Life has turned out to be harder than I had imagined. Amongst the struggle it helps me to acknowledge all the little & enormous things that make it worthwhile. I know it’s cheesy, but give it a whirl.

*Not a cure or medicine. Speak to your dr about any health concerns.

The tiniest lifeboat…

My mood has been struggling to stay a float of late. I’m trying hard not to wallow, so I’m going back to basics & celebrating my lifeboat moments.

The sun came out. A few bright, fresh days have made me a little perkier. Shaking off a few layers & enjoy the outdoors. I even shaved my legs for the first time in forever. Mr sun better not disappear.

Pale white legs with green words tattooed on calf

Receiving surprise Easter treats. My clever little nephew found my favourite choccies (I think his Mummy helped). I am excited to get stuck into my delicious minty egg & luxurious floral fondants. All vegan & completely yummers.

Hotel Chocolate  Mint Easter Egg & Violet Creams

Having a swing park adventure. The stay at home order has prevented me seeing my little ones as much as I like. That of course makes every adventure extra special. This week I got to play pirates in the swing park with the boy. He made some new friends to enlist into his band of pirates. He is always the Captain, Auntie ly gets to be the bad octopus pirate & much hilarity ensues.

ly is laughing in a swing park with her nephew behind her
Toddler in cloud leggings going down a slide on his tummy

A mini makeover will go along way when total transformation isn’t possible. I’ve been hating my ugly brown sofas for ages, but have failed to find a replacement I love. Not being able to physically shop hasn’t helped. Who wants to buy a sofa without ever plonking their bum on it? After much deliberation I seized upon a colourful temporary solution. I’m super pleased with the results.

Before
After

Stay at home order lifted. I am beyond excited that we’re actually on the road out of lockdown. The weather is coming up, infection rates coming down; if this keeps up we could be in for a bloody good summer.

Everyday it’s getting colder…

I managed to sneak in a little trip to the park before we completely locked down. I took the opportunity to wear some Xmas pressies since it’s unlikely I’ll be out of lounge wear for quite a while.

The only possible fashion choice in this weather is layers. I piled them on for my icy outing. My excellent Mum found this lovely vegan brand & showered me with their accessories. While my sister indulged my leopard print love.

ly I’m standing in park with walking stick wearing jumpsuit & faux fur coat
Jumpsuit -Asos Curve
Scarf – Pom Boutique
Coat – Marks & Spencer
Cardigan – Boohoo
Boots – Dr Marten
Glasses – Where.light
ly is  wearing leopard print jumpsuit & navy maxi cardi. The photo had Forrest background superimposed
All those mirror selfies are getting boring.

The boy found new ways to play with my walking stick & slid around on the ice with his Mummy. We completed our winter adventure by feeding the wildlife. Those swans are so beautiful, but not above squabbling over grub.

Toddler in coat & Woolly hat in playpark
Pink post it note on frosty leaves
Swans on an icy pond

A Very Covid Christmas…

Like many others, last minute covid restrictions scuppered my Xmas. I was bummed not to be able to see my people, especially the wee ones. Ultimately though, it wasn’t so bad.

My digestive tract is still struggling with the long covid, so Christmas dinner was never going to be an option. I’m way too sore & tired to relish the idea of getting all gussied up. The wonder of video calls mean I could still watch the kids open presents & have a carry on. Thus, Xmas day on the sofa wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a magical day. I don’t fancy making a habit of it, but needs must. I still had lots of gorgeous presents & messages of love. I think more than anything what got me down was just the lack of distraction. Enjoying the kid’s exuberance takes my mind off not having made any of my own little people. This year I couldn’t help but dwell a little longer on the the Christmas traditions I’ll never be a part of.

2020 has been a wash out for most of us. I still feel I’m stumbling blind when it comes to discovering a new focus. I have actually achieved things I’m proud of this year. I’ve smashed some career boxes that I didn’t think would even get ticked. Those successes don’t fill that motherhood chasm.

My Corona Christmas has been reminiscent of the whole 2020 experience. I’ve felt a lot aimless, a little sad and entirely capable of making it through. Surviving is the only goal this year & we’ve almost reached it.

ly is wearing red glasses & leopard print. She is cheersing with a glass of bucksfizz

Dancing in the dark…

GlasGlow is back. We have taken the boy every year of his life, so this has become our own little Halloween tradition. This year was even better than last.

Blue neon lights blurring in rain
Large moon and coloured lights.

The boy was proper excited and dancing around; utterly adorable. It wasn’t too crowded and people paid attention to social distancing. The rain even almost went stopped for us. It was lovely.

Toddler running under neon rainbow
plus size woman in tartan coat with toddler in red duffle stunting infront of twinkly light wall

It was a bit of struggle for me to get around the park. Post covid I’m even less mobile. I found some places to sit and took periodic rests whilst the little man enjoyed the lights.

Pumpkins and giant glowing crystal in dark park
Two adult smiling women and toddler surrounded by lights

Much fun was had. Now I’m in recovery mode and jammies all weekend.

Build me up…

It’s been ‘ugh’ for a while now and I’m in danger of wallowing in a big puddle of woe is me. I’m making efforts to feel better. I started by tackling my inbox and then tried to clear some light housework. Ticks on my to do list helped me feel less useless. Now seems a good time to build on that by counting my blessings.

So, today I am grateful for,

My big comfy bed (& no one snoring, farting or otherwise bothering me in it).

My fridge holds soups & fruit juice galore. My stomach only wants these & the occasional bread product.

My demanding little purr ball.

Black & white cat with his eyes closed having his ears rubbed.

Excellent new Jim jams. They have pockets and are so soft I keep stroking myself.

Ly is taking mirror selfie. Smiling & wearing pink jammies

Hot running water.

The sick & ridiculous humour of the Small Town Murder podcast.

Small Town Murder podcast logo

A plethora of supportive & loving people.

All the perfect little ones said people have made.

The writings of Sara Pascoe & Barbara Trapido

Free and accessible healthcare. Big love, NHS.

Red love heart and NHS in white letters

The freedom to drift in and out of sleep as needed.

The phone steriliser relieving covid related iPhone anxiety.

Messages of love from my big muffin.

Text message with sad alien face

Lemon & lavender scented heat pads.

A room festooned with beautiful blooms.

Various bunches on flowers in vases. Sunflowers , roses, lilies, berries, gladioli

This is 40…

Fuck. This is it; the big 4-0. I am definitely not ready. Up until now I haven’t worried all that much about the number on my card. This year it all feels rather scary.

Pink birthday cake with sprinkles & 40

Forty is different. It’s just so huge. I have this sense of it being a before & after year. There’s the obvious sinking of youth. I’ve noticed a few changes on my face. In themselves they aren’t a problem, what they signify certainly gives me pause. I’m beginning to wonder how my body will stack up against the ageing process. Are my dodgy joints going to pack in altogether? Will my hair go white? Is menopause on the way?

ly is standing against a sandstone building arms stretched out wearing rainbow fringed top & blue velvet skirt

40 feels like the nail in the coffin of fertility. I know that hope is already all but extinguished. Hitting my fifth decade seems symbolic; a final snuffing. There are so many unattained goals. I expected to be living a different life by now. Time is whizzing by faster than ever. Getting through the ultimate to do list is increasingly daunting.

It’s not all black. I have built a life I’m proud of. I’ve filled it with bloody lovely buggers. All my people have made beautiful babies for me to adore. I’m doing the work I’ve always wanted to do. I feel loved. So, this is 40. Terrifying, but I’ve conquered the fear before. Why stop now?

ly is wearing a t skirt with the slogan ‘thou shalt never fuck a tory’ and blowing out candles on birthday cake