A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Review of the year 2009

It's time, once again, to review the year that has been. In no particular order (though probably the same as last year as I keep them on my computer) here are the questions that I ask myself and I ask you too.
  1. What has been your biggest achievement this year? Getting another first in my last OU course and gaining a Diploma in English Literature and Creative Writing.
  2. What made you laugh most this year? Probably watching W 'wash' her face with baked beans!
  3. What has been your favourite/most listened to piece of music this year? I've listened a lot to Eddi Reader after being introduced to her music in the late spring/early summer.
  4. What was your best holiday this year? I've had two great holidays this year - France and Somerset. They were very different and are difficult to compare, but perhaps France has a slight edge, just because it was so very long since I'd been abroad and also that my two gorgeous nephews were there for some of the time.
  5. What new skill, if any, have you acquired this year? Erm ... I'm not sure ... making shortbread, perhaps ...
  6. What's the best book you've read this year? 'The White Tiger' by Aravind Adiga.
  7. What is your happiest/fondest memory of this year? It melted my heart when I was in France and my older nephew, O, who was 2 1/2 at the time, came running up to me the day before my brother's family went home, threw himself onto my knee as I played with his baby brother on the floor and said, 'Aunty Becky, I will miss you when we go.'
  8. If you could spend next year as a film character, who would that be? Perhaps Hermione Granger. I'd have the excitement and adventure that Harry Potter has, but without the fear for my own life, and without having to study hard at the same time to gain good grades because knowledge comes naturally to her.
  9. What new hobby did you take up/old hobby did you reinstate this year? Cross-stitch. I've completed two this year, one of which I began 15 years ago, the other 10 years ago! I've also started another and need to find the time to get stuck back into it. I'm not sure where that time's going to come from though.
  10. What one thing would you really like to do next year? The gym marathon that I was supposed to do in October, but which got postponed first by an interruption in breathing ability and then by the development of POTS.
  11. What has been your best discovery of this year? That Miller Brands make 200 beers worldwide that they assure me are safe for me to drink as they don't contain any of the things I told them I'm allergic to!
  12. What news story of this year has had the biggest impact on you/do you most remember? I have trouble remembering what news stories happened this year, but I think the seige on the Mumbai hotel happened this year. That had quite an impact at the time - it was so terrible. The other news story that dominated the headlines and was impossible to get away from was, of course, that of swine flu.
  13. What's the best film you've seen this year? 'Slumdog Millionnaire'
  14. What was your best buy this year? Probably my slanket
  15. What has been your best day out this year? Hmm, possibly the day that W and I went to Fountains Abbey back in March. It was freezing cold, pouring with rain by the end of the day, but a great day with a wonderful time at the deer park where we got within a couple of feet of some of the deer.
  16. Is there anywhere you'd like to visit next year? Italy! W and I are going in April for her sister's wedding ... though we do have to book it ... best get that sorted soon, I reckon.
  17. Name one thing you did this year that you'd like to do again? Go back to the cottage that W and I stayed at in Somerset. I'd also like to go to Longleat again, which would be easy to do from the aforementioned cottage as it's only a few miles away.
  18. Who gave you the best advice this year? Hmm ... a difficult one ... perhaps the advice that my mum gave me on my final project for the creative writing course I did earlier this year. I'm sure her advice helped me to get that first I mentioned before.
  19. What new skill would you like to acquire next year? Erm ... I dunno ... maybe something computery, like how to do something I should know how to do but don't ... not sure what though. I'll think about it.
  20. What was your favourite TV/radio programme this year? Possibly 'Survivors' that was based on the book by Terry Nation, and for which I've seen a trailer for a second series starting in the next few weeks :o) As for radio it's probably been the Radio 4 comedy 'Cabin Pressure'.

So that's my review of 2009 with a smattering of thoughts about the year to come. What are yours?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas special

This is a very quick post as I'm away in London for Christmas. I'm staying with my brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews, and have come down here from Edinburgh with my mum and step-dad. It's lovely all of us being together, and wonderful to having Christmas with the children. O is 3 years old now, and D is 15 months old.

Somewhere along the line O has misheard 'Away in a manger'. In this house we are all now singing 'Baby in a power ranger.' :oD If you tell O that it's really 'away in a manger,' he says, 'but I don't know that one. Let's sing 'Baby in a power ranger.'' :oD


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Officially potty

I went to my appointment with the prof at the falls and syncope clinic on Friday. She'd had a chance to look at my 24 hour ECG and accompanying 'events' diary from the previous week, and she confirmed the diagnosis of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). After reading the information about it on gpnotebook, where I first discovered it, I'm not surprised that POTS has been confirmed, and in fact I'd have been more surprised if the diagnosis had been something else, but I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It's good to have an answer. It's good to know the reason for what's been happening. It's good to be able to put all the pieces together. However, it's not a great diagnosis to have. POTS isn't curable, and given that I was to have something else wrong with me it would've been 'nice' if it had been something curable. At least there's hope that some of the symptoms can be treated and the prof has prescribed diltiazem to try to reduce my heart rate. She said that my heart is beating so fast at the moment that it's not working effectively, so my brain isn't getting enough blood or oxygen, which is why I'm passing out. Slowing my heart should stop the fainting. I'm hoping too that slowing my heart down to a more normal rate will mean that I might have a bit more energy again, because at the moment my body's in over-drive and I'm knacked a lot of the time. I forgot to ask how long the diltiazem would take to work, and at the moment I'm on what seems to be a relatively small dose of 120mg and my heart is still running at least around 130bpm when I'm standing. I've only taken three doses so far - Friday, Saturday and today - and I'm guessing it might take a few days or a week or so for it to kick in, but then one of my friends who's a doctor suggested that it should start to work fairly immediately so now I don't know - is the drug just not working or is it going to take a while to work?

One of the things that I was really worried about was that whatever is wrong with me was going to stop me from driving. My car is my ticket to freedom and independence, and because of my asthma it would be so life-limiting to have my driving licence revoked. This possibility wasn't something I'd initially thought of, but my mother suggested it and then at the beginning of last week she said that I may have to prepare myself for the doctor saying on Friday that I wouldn't be able to drive any more or for a period of time. It was worry about this that made me forget to ask about how long the diltiazem would take to work, and I really didn't want to ask the question about driving, but knew that I had to. Thankfully she said that I can still drive :o) I am so very, very relieved. She said that in relation to this there are a few precluding factors to driving: 1) if the dizziness I have is vertigo (it's not though - the world isn't spinning, it's the stuff inside my head that feels like it's spinning); 2) if I was fainting a lot sitting down; 3) if I didn't get any warning before fainting; or 4) if I didn't have time between warning and fainting to pull over to the side of the road. The prof said that she could see how terribly life-limiting it would be for me if I couldn't drive any more, and while of course she has to do what is right for the safety of everyone, it's a huge relief that she's said that I'm still okay to drive.

While I'm wondering how to get my head around the diagnosis of POTS it does bring together a whole variety of things for me. It seems that many of the apparently unconnected bits of me that don't work properly can probably be joined up by POTS, for instance it seems that many people with pots have a lot of common allergies, a lot of drug sensitivities and a lot of uncommon food allergies. I haven't written a great deal about my allergies here, but perhaps I'll tell you a little more about them in the near future. They're certainly complex, and I certainly have many uncommon anaphylactic food allergies as well as common allergies and allergies to meds.

Another thing that the POTS can account for is the thickening of the vitreous humour (particularly in my right eye) that has so far been accounted for by the long-term high-dose steroids I take for my asthma, even though this isn't a known side-effect of steroids. This thickening has caused the development of large black floaters in my vision that are annoying and sometimes get in the way when I'm reading. They're also a reported symptom in POTS.

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is a neurological condition - a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (that's the part of the nervous system that controls the body's automatic functions). The digestive system is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, and the prof told me that the POTS is most likely accountable for the Irritable Bowel Syndrome that I've had for several years, and it may also explain some of the upper right abdo pain I get, although this has previously been put down to cholecystitis and ulcers caused by the prednisolone and theophylline that I take for my asthma. It could, I suppose, be a combination of all three things. Another thing that the autonomic nervous system controls is sweating, and for a long while there have been times when I've had excessive sweating. This is embarrassing and makes me very self-conscious when it happens, but apparently this too can be attributed to the POTS.

There are various other 'little' things that the POTS diagnosis pulls together (including the non-asthmatic chest-tightness I've been getting, and maybe even weight gain), and suddenly it all makes sense. How I come to have it though is perhaps something we'll never truly know the answer to. It seems there are various causes of POTS, including viral and bacterial infection (pneumonia is particularly mentioned) and Lyme Disease, which I had back in 1997 when on holiday in Canada (and I actually haven't been off the steroids for my asthma since a month or two after this). There's also the possibility that it could, in my case, be caused by some of my asthma medication, so there's uncertainty around whether my POTS is primary or secondary, and I'll probably never know for sure, but that doesn't really matter because it doesn't change what's happening or the effect of it on me. The only thing the cause of it could effect is the prognosis. While it's not curable, about 50% of people who develop it after a viral infection get some relief after two to five years, while others who develop it for some other reasons have a very poor prognosis with distinct possibility of deterioration over time. I guess I have not to get too hung up about this aspect of things though and just get on with it. The important thing now is to work out how to live alongside this new companion.

There's certainly no denying that I am now officially potty.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Full speed ahead

I know that it's an age since my last blog entry, but things have been rather busy here in relation to the whole passing out thing. I mentioned in my last post that I was thinking of phoning the secretary of the consultant who was supposed to have referred me to the falls and syncope clinic. I did this the following day - last Monday - only to get through to a voicemail message saying that she was out of the office until 14th December. This meant that nothing was likely even to begin to get done about my referral, and I couldn't chase it up, until this week, which is a long time when you're fainting at least once everyday.

In my desperation for some kind of answer I went trawling the net again. I know there are huge dangers in looking for health information on the internet, but I really didn't know what else to do, so I went to my usual starting place - gpnotebook. I'd looked on here before in relation to these events and not come up with much, but for some reason, on this occasion, I very quickly found myself looking at a page I hadn't seen before and could hardly believe what I was reading as so many of the things listed under the clinical features fitted my symptoms. It was a page on Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). I'd never heard of this before, but as I read it I couldn't help exclaiming to the cat again and again that I thought I'd found what the problem is, but then I had the dilemma of what to do with this suspicion, and in the end I hit upon the idea of printing the info off, highlighting the symptoms relevant to me, and taking it to my GP. I know that a GP's heart can sink when a patient arrives with internet-acquired info, but I really didn't have anything to lose given that I was getting nowhere fast with the consultant, his secretary, and the previous GP I'd seen (the one who'd initially had me admitted to hospital, but then sounded exasperated and said there was nothing more she could do when I phoned her after my discharge).

First thing on Tuesday morning I rang the GP surgery, asked for an appointment with one of the GPs who knows me well and got one with Dr Cg for 11am. Because I haven't seen him about any of this passing out stuff I first had to explain what had been happening, about the admission to hospital, how pointless that seemed to be, how the consultant had failed to refer me to the falls and syncope clinic, and that now his secretary is away so nothing will be done for at least another week. Then I told him that his heart was probably about to sink and I gave him the info about POTS, saying that I'd found it online and wonder if this could be my problem. I was very pleasantly surprised by his receptiveness to the internet info, but I think this was helped by the reputability of gpnotebook (he said that he uses it himself sometimes, and I know that several of my doctor friends use it too). He read the info on which, as I said before, I'd highlighted the clinical features relevant to me, and to which I'd also added some other annotations to expand on some points. We then discussed it and he agreed that POTS may well be what I have. He gave this as a provisional diagnosis, but said that it needs to be confirmed (or otherwise) by the specialists, and they are the consultants at the falls and syncope clinic. My GP was aghast at the failure of the consultant I was under as an in-patient to refer me to the clinic, and said that I needed to be seen as soon as possible. I told him about my fainting whilst cooking just a few days earlier, and that my heart rate had gone up to 180 bmp (!) on the Sunday evening when I was changing my bed sheets (usually my carer does this, but the cat had been sick all over them, and I wasn't going to sleep in cat sick so I had to change the sheets), and he already knew that I live alone. Dr Cg said he'd fax through a referral himself, that he'd write 'URGENT' on it in big letters, that he'd write it in red even though the colour wouldn't show on the fax, and that he'd list some of my risk factors. I got the impression he was saying to the clinic, 'This case is urgent. No, I mean it. I really mean it! You absolutely must see this patient, because I really, really, really mean that this is URGENT!!!' He said that I ought to have an appointment for two or three weeks time. This still felt like a long wait, but a heck of a lot better than the nine weeks I'd been quoted by the clinic, and that's nine weeks after the referral has reached them, been read, and been processed. I went home finally feeling like I was getting somewhere.

On Thursday morning I went up to Freeman to be kitted out with the 24 hour ECG equipment, which did produce the predicted blisters despite the extra antihistamines, but I had little choice but to put up with it as it was important to get it done. Although I was feeling rubbish and didn't really want to do anything much I knew that lying on the sofa wasn't going to give a clear picture of what's been happening with me so I forced myself to be as active as possible, which isn't very active at the moment, but it's more than being stationary. Spending more time being upright meant that I spent more time doing unplanned close floor inspection, which is usually a very bad thing, but on this occasion it meant that I could record it in the events diary I'd been given and the docs would be able to see if the fainting related to anything going on with my heart. It was a tough day. During the afternoon, though, I received a phone call from the falls and syncope clinic telling me that they'd had a referral for me from my GP who thinks that I need to be seen quickly (he'd obviously been effective in his insistence that this is an urgent, and I mean URGENT referral), and would it be possible for me to go along to the clinic the next day! Of course it would! I couldn't believe it. Only a couple of days earlier I had no referral, thought I was going to have to wait until at least February or March to be seen, and now I had an appointment for the next day! Amazing!

So on Friday morning I first of all went up to the Freeman to drop off the 24 hour ECG kit. I asked who the results would be sent to and was told it would be the referring consultant, which is no good to me as I have no follow up with him - not surprising given that he's a gastroenterologist on the drying-out unit, but I somehow ended up with him as my consultant. I asked if the results could be sent to my GP, and was told that they could be if I wanted them to be, but the technician did look rather surprised at the request for some reason - weird. Anyway, with that sorted, I went straight over to the RVI to the falls and syncope clinic where all the staff were very lovely :o) I was seen very quickly and taken through to a kind of testing area with several curtained-off beds each with a set of monitoring equipment. They did a couple of pretty basic tests - primarily lying and standing ECG and BP, and continuous BP at rest for 5 or 10 minutes before the standing bit - and then I was taken through to see the consultant. She was lovely too, and is a professor with a particular interest in POTS and fatigue. She took a full history, asked various things to do with life-style and any other health problems I have, especially those requiring hospital over-seeing, and then, even before I mentioned it, she said that heamodynamically I fit the criteria for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. However, just before I could ask for my honourary medical degree for my success in self-diagnosis ( ;oP ) she said that she wanted to see the results of my 24 hour ECG before confirming or rejecting the diagnosis. She looked on the computer there and then to see if the results had been processed, but seeing as I'd only handed the kit in about an hour before hand I wasn't surprised that they weren't on the system. She wants to see me again this week, and I have an appointment for 9am Friday when the ECG results will definitely be through and the prof will have had a chance to look at them. It's so good that I'm being see so quickly, though I have to say that it's slightly unnerving that the prof wants to see me two weeks running, because that never happens in out-patient clinics unless there's something to worry about. Mind you, I'm worried anyway. So on Friday I may come away with a diagnosis, and with that I may be able to start some kind of treatment, and that may help me to begin to feel better and not be passing out everyday. It would be so good not to have my heart pounding away at a rate of knots almost all of the time, and not be almost afraid of standing up because it's going to get unbearable and I'll end up passing out, or at the very least feeling really ill. Unfortunately, if I do come away with a diagnosis of POTS then the first line of medication treatment that's most effective for most POTS patients is a no-go for me - beta blockers. As the name suggests, they block the beta receptors, which are the exact receptors that some of my asthma meds stimulate. If I were to take beta blockers then I would quickly die from a severe asthma attack. There are one or two other options, so it seems, but I'm not going to look too closely into any of them until I know for sure whether or not this is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or if it's something else. However, what I have learnt is that if this is POTS then none of the treatments are curative, but rather they manage the symptoms. If I'm going to have to have something else wrong with me, which it seems that I am, then it would be quite nice if it were something that could be cured ... for a change. From my conviction that I'm right in my self-diagnosis, I suspect that God isn't planning on my having something curable, which is a bit pants if you ask me, but whatever it is my only option is to find a way through, a way forward, and to adapt to another change in life. I predict that I'll get fed up and have tantrums, but I also predict that I'll survive and I'll find ways to live life to the full, even if I have to check out the floors of all the places I go.

Now then, it's stupid o'clock and I should be in bed so I'm going to make up a hot water bottle and take myself off to the land of nod. If I don't get back to you before, then I'll certainly let you know how things go on Friday.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Saving my bacon

I was supposed to have my swine 'flu vaccination at the GP surgery on Tuesday. I went along to the appointment, the nurse went through the usual precautionary questions, and then we went through the ingredients of the vaccine and it turned out there was something in it I'm allergic to - a sulphate. She went through to speak to one of the doctors who said that in light of this, they couldn't give me the jab without my first speaking to my asthma consultant, especially as it transpires that a lot of people with multiple allergies are having adverse reactions to the injection. I came home, rang my consultant and left a message with his secretary, who phoned me back on Thursday saying that Dr H (my consultant) had weighed up the risks and decided that I should have the swine 'flu vaccine, but that they should give it to me in hospital, so I went up to the ward on Friday morning. It was a very strange experience waiting to be injected with something I knew I was allergic to - planned anaphylaxis ... very odd. I wondered if it was something similar to being on death row, although for very different reasons - ultimately to have my life saved, rather than certainly ended.
Dr. H came to see me before the ward round, went through the risks (i.e. anaphylaxis and death!), got me to sign the consent form, and then had the F1 put a cannula in so that I could have IV chlorphenamine (Piriton) before being given the vaccine. This would hopefully stave off an allergic reaction, although it would also make me sleepy.
J, the Charge Nurse, came with the IV and the jab, asked if I was ready, pumped me full of chlorphenamine, waited 5 minutes for it to whoosh around my body, then stabbed me in the arm with the potential killer jab. All we could do then was wait and see what happened, but at least I hadn't blown up into a Becky balloon and dropped dead immediately. After a while my lungs started to get tight and my sats dropped to 91%, but they were sorted with a couple of oxygen-driven nebulisers, and everything else was okay, thanks to the prophylactic chlorphenamine. I stayed on the ward until just gone 7pm to make sure all stayed okay (there can be a delay in the occurance of a reaction, and if there has been a reaction (which the lung-grumpiness was almost certainly due to) there can be a second wave reaction later), and then I was free to go home. It was a weird experience walking onto the ward in the morning as I'm usually gasping and struggling to breathe at all when I arrive on Ward 29, and it was even weirder to walk off the ward the same day ... a good experience though :o) And hopefully, I'll now be safe from getting swine 'flu :o) My bacon has been saved!
The same cannot be said regarding the whole passing out thing, which is still going on. When I was discharged from hospital the week before last with this the doctor had said that I should get an appointment for the falls and syncope clinic for two weeks time, which would mean I ought to be seen next week. This being the case I was expecting an appointment letter sometime during last week, but nothing came so I phoned the clinic on Thursday to ask what was happening. When I explained what I'd been told about getting an appointment for two weeks time the receptionist laughed and said that there was at least a nine week waiting list. She then went on to tell me that the consultant hasn't even put the referral in yet! The swine! Not only has he not done what he said he would, but I was told porkies about the time-scale, so now goodness knows how long I'll have to wait. I'm going to call the consultant's secretary on Monday to ask when I can expect the referral to be sent, and perhaps say that I'm not impressed that it hasn't been sent all ready as it's really not good to be passing out practically everyday, and not safe either - I fainted while I was cooking the other day, and it could've been really bad if I'd fallen onto the hob ... although it may have speeded up the referral, I guess ...
On a positive note, I have got an appointment for the 24-hour ECG, which may throw some light on what's going on, but only if it's something to do with my heart. Anyway, I go for that next Thursday morning, and then obviously have to go back on Friday morning, but I don't know when I'll get any results from it, or even who the results will be sent to as the referral to the falls and syncope clinic hasn't yet happened and I'd thought it was going to them. I might ask if it can be sent to my GP so that I can at least know it's going somewhere, and somewhere I can access them.
Now then, keeping on the theme of pigs - having my bacon saved from swine 'flu, swines of doctors who don't do what they say they're going to, and flying pigs for getting appointments - I was sent an email the other day that made me laugh a lot. I thought I'd share it with you so read on for a giggle. Oh, and apparently it really was sent to David Milliband.
Nigel Johnson-Hill
Park Farm
GU30 7JT

Rt Hon David Milliband MP
Secretary of State.
Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
16th July 2009
Dear Secretary of State,
My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.
In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.
I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Sadlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?
As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?
My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.
If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradeable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?
Another point: these pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?
I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current DEFRA advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?
In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.
Yours faithfully,
Nigel Johnson-Hill

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Good things

While I'm having a rough time physically at the moment I think I need to spend a bit of time thinking about the good things and appreciating the positives. It can be all too easy to get trapped in the misery cycle, and sometimes making space to think about what's good in life is enough of a pick up to keep motivated, so here's a little list of some of the good things in life:

  • Friends. They are a wonderful gift and friendship is one of the most valuable things you can be given. I'm very lucky to have the amazing friends that I do.
  • My slanket. This is my new favourite possession and I now firmly believe that every household should have at least one.
  • The cat - Zach. He's completely nuts so keeps me entertained; is very cuddley (when he's not eating me!); and is great company.
  • A long lazy bath and freshly pumiced feet. Ah, the little things...
  • Heinz baked beans - the tasty, nutritious, Becky-friendly standby when cooking is too much to think about (I had them for tea tonight).
  • My nephews. The oldest one is three today and I spoke to him on the phone this evening. Both he and his brother (who's fourteen months old) never fail to make me smile :o)
  • Books. They feel good; they smell good; and they're easy to get lost in.
  • BBC Radio 4. It's an education. It's funny. It's interesting. It's dramatic. It's entertaining. Sometimes it can even be a little boring :oO but I listen to it anyway and often learn something.
  • Pyjamas - sheer comfort.
  • Music. I love listening to it and love making it. I managed to get to Christmas Choir practise last night and it was fantastic to be able to sing again for a bit. I was completely wiped out afterwards and today, but it was worth it.
  • Wednesday mornings when my carer comes. Once I've let her in the flat she usually sends me back to bed either to sleep or to listen to the radio and drink the cup of coffee that she always makes me as soon as she arrives.
  • Good neighbours. For many years I had horrendous neighbours in the flat above, but for the past three years or so I've had a lovely couple living above me, who keep an eye on me and always ask if there's anything they can do to help.
  • Creativity. I love it that I can do arts and crafts, and get pleasure from making things for people. I made my nephew's birthday card the other night and was really pleased with the result, but the real joy was that he liked it too and made a point of thanking me for it (and 'all the lovely birthday parcels') on the phone this evening :o)
  • An active mind. Sometimes when the body isn't up to much it can be frustrating to have such an active mind as I want to be doing all the stuff that I'm thinking about, but mostly it's good. It keeps me occupied. It keeps me interested in life, and life beyond myself. It gives me the ability to read and enjoy all sorts of things.
  • Comedy. I love a good laugh. I should sort out another trip to the Hyena Comedy Cafe with friends. It's not exactly cheap, but it's good fun ... maybe something to do in the long, dark days after New Year to help us giggle our way towards spring.
  • Better deals on utilities. I had a call from Virgin Mobile yesterday offering me a better package on my mobile phone than the one I already have with them - more minutes, more free texts, less money, and 3 months completely free as I was happy to keep the handset I've got. Hurrah!
  • Hot chocolate. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Ya see? Life's okay really. Sure, my body's not working very well at the moment, but all in all I do okay, with the best of people and the best of things - both big and small - that keep me ticking over. I have a heck of a lot more than a lot of people in the world, and for that I'm grateful.

What are you thankful for in your life? Maybe we can remind each other of some of the things that we take for granted but really ought to take more notice of.