Thursday 22 June 2017

Midsummer notes

As we head towards the end of the school year, there's a lot going on. More birthday parties, summer fairs, village fetes, book fairs, school trips... 

Not to mention that last weekend I lost a large part of a (Joe-free) Sunday. Completely my own fault: the hangover from hell. Cue the whole 'Never again' self-talk alongside the accompanying nausea, pounding headache and light-headedness. It was a good party though.

We've been trying to complete a job I wish we'd never started: painting the gable end of the house and the kitchen extension. Said gable end and extension are coated in pebbledash. Pebbledash is a nightmare to paint. You have to stipple. And bits of pebble come off so you then have to go back and redo those bits too. It takes a very long time to cover a very small area.

It was all my idea. I take full responsibility for it.

We visited our friend's plant nursery over in Cheshire again, which meant Joe got to collect eggs from the nesting boxes and to play on the old tractor. And we came home with a car boot full of lovely things to put in the garden.

Speaking of which, now my mum's house is sold I picked up a few of her plants: some big, fleshy geraniums in terracotta pots for the kitchen window and a lavender for the outside steps. I like the idea of continuation - she's gone but the living things she tended are now mine to take care of and enjoy.

I've been busy printmaking, writing and drawing. Then photographing things for the online shop. I'm planning to go and collect more flowers for pressing, especially now the nearby fields are full of tall grasses and wildflowers. I'm so inspired by them that I wrote a piece for Creative Countryside (here, if you'd like to take a look).

I've managed the odd little walk alone and am hoping to get out after lunch today. The skies are looking a bit ominous and it's damp out, which is just how I like it - always better for taking photographs when your preference is for the darker side of things.

After the stifling heat of the past few days it's a relief to feel a breeze. We had the gazebo out in the garden so Joe could play without getting burnt (despite his factor 50, super-sticky suncream). He loves getting dirty and the suncream acts as both a magnet and a fixative.

This week's obsession: making 'stock', 'soup' and ice lollies with water, bark chippings and herbs picked from the borders. Tasty.

Recently I wrote about being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Well, I'll be honest: that diagnosis just didn't feel right to me. After many years of symptoms, from gruelling fatigue to feeling cold all the time, gastritis to brain fog (and so very many things in between: gluten intolerance, suspected coeliac disease, B12 malabsorption to name just a few) I decided to do my own research.

I looked at some blood results I'd received earlier this year, I read some (reputable) books and articles and I went to see the doctor. I even took Jay with me for a bit of support. And it turns out that I have autoimmune thyroiditis. The condition I've been convinced has been behind all these issues all along.

Someone finally listened.

So I had yet more blood tests, and I get the results this afternoon. The doctor wants to start me on medication. It's a relief.

But I'm also a great believer in functional medicine, and despite being pleased that I'm going to get treatment at last, I also want to address the cause. So I'm currently doing the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) which aims to calm inflammation and stop the immune system going haywire through eating simple, non-processed foods and taking supplements to heal the gut. It's very restrictive but I'm almost three weeks in and other than the gin-related episode on Saturday night, I'm feeling pretty good. Not to mention I've lost 8 pounds. 

A few things: firstly - if you know something isn't right with your health, be persistent. Find out about things. Make notes. Ask for second opinions if necessary. And going private isn't necessarily going to solve everything (when I spent £250 on a private consultation with an endocrinologist I was sent away having been told to take some vitamins). Spending rather a lot with a herbal practitioner didn't get me very far either. I do prefer this natural approach, but in the end it was a young doctor in my NHS practice who came good.

Secondly: please don't write any scary comments about thyroid issues! I'm feeling a bit panicky at the moment. That solitary walk after lunch is definitely needed...

Enjoy these long midsummer days.

Friday 9 June 2017

Up in the air

It's almost a week since we returned from our (now annual) week on Skye. Only one rainy day was had - so we lit the fire, took hot baths and did our best to keep Joe occupied - and the rest of the time it was magical.

Dolphins, seal boat trips, castles, rusty old lighthouses, gardens, forest walks, beautiful beaches, mountains, bluebells, cuckoos... And solitude.

Things are a bit up in the air at the moment. In small ways and more significant ones.

My stepdad has sold the house he and my mum shared. It's far too big for just him so in some ways I feel sad but in others relieved. It just doesn't feel the same there any more. I always picture her waiting for us at the kitchen window, or summoning me upstairs to try on clothes. Visiting that house is hard.

He's offered me a few pieces of furniture and I'd like to have them. It's just a case now of figuring where they'll go in our little cottage.

Fortunately one of my friends lives in a house which owned the old village wood yard, so there's an outbuilding where I can store a particularly troublesome desk. The rest... Well, we'll just have to move things around a bit.

We're also wanting to put our house up for sale soon. There are a few health-related problems I want to deal with first though, so no solid plans just yet.

What we'd intended to do in terms of moving has shifted a bit, too. This after plenty of research and speaking to lots of people. But we're still keen to get moving and I'll share more once we actually know the details and mobilise ourselves into action!

And now we need to replace the hallway carpet (which was only fitted last year). On Tuesday afternoon I pulled the ironing board out of the understairs cupboard and tipped a tub of black masonry paint all over the floor. The resulting slick was an inch thick and about two feet wide.

The carpet, by the way, is an oatmeal colour.

I didn't take it well. Jay had to come home from work early to help.

Later that evening I learned that Joe needed a bug costume for the following morning. Cue panicked block-printing of an old T-shirt and stitching of muslin into moth wings.

He came downstairs way after bedtime to see how I was 'getting on' and managed to kick a cup of as-yet untouched tea all over the living room carpet. I may have yelled at him, then issued a grovelling apology shortly afterwards.

So what with arranging transport (and space) for furniture, needing more masonry paint to finish the gable end, and trying to find a carpet fitter, things are a bit all over the place.

Let's not even get started on politics.

And to round off this frankly rather self-indulgent whinge-fest (sorry about that): I just finished a book which had a sort of inconclusive ending. I managed all the way through to stop myself from peeking. I won't name the book (unless you ask) but the whole storyline was leading up to whether (or not) something would happen. And now I'll never know.

Anyway, there are more pretty pictures from Skye (without the commentary) here, if you'd like a look.

Have a great weekend. I've overdone it with the news lately so am hoping to perhaps unplug and do a few more mindful things instead.

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