Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mindless chatter.....

Advent starts tomorrow. All of a sudden, it is time to start thinking about Christmas. I couldn't find my wreath, because I am absolutely NOT going outside in the freezing cold to wrestle with the ladder, carry it in and climb into the loft. That would be a recipe for disaster, and I resisted the impulse, you will be happy to hear. I may well have been stuck in the loft for the entire Advent season. Withering away.

So I made an Advent candle arrangement without the wreath. And it looks good anyway. I will add a photo when I download the contents of the camera later.

I have had a quiet few days, but you know, I tend to assume that if I am home, I am resting, and I perch about the place as I am doing things and then wonder why I feel 298. Memo to self: tomorrow sit and do nothing that requires excess movement. I am using the embroidery machine, you see, and it sews by itself, but then I need to keep going in and out to check whether I need to change colours, or if the bobbin has run out so I am moving all the time. But I do love the end result!

I ran out of a particular thread yesterday and went along to my local sewing machine shop. BIG mistake. They have the new Bernina 830 and were using it at the time, and there I stood drooling. DROOLING, I tell you. It is amazing. My life is incomplete without one. Obviously. So I made the mistake of asking how much it was. Hahahahahahahahah. HOHOHOHOHO!

But still.

It was beautiful. Especially the size of the sewing table. And the stitch regulator. And the stitches. And the screen. And I just wanted to pat it and take it home. But I departed with my £3 spool of thread, and something to add to the wish list for my mythical lotto win. I absolutely do not need it. But oh, I want it! See - I am quite frank with you. Need = good. Want = bad. I know. I know.

And that slow cooker I bought???? Just marvellous. Why I have waited so long to invest in one is a total mystery to me. The smell of delicious food when I walk in is just the best. I have great plans for next week's food.

I am rambling yet again.

Right now, I can think of nothing better than curling up under the fluffy cloud blanket with my recession heater, coffee, chocolate and the tv remote. However, I am supposed to be out. Socialising. Looking glam. Without my pink fluffy socks and slippers. And it is raining. And cold. And I need to stop whining and get a life, so.....

Over and out for now. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reasons to be thankful.....

We do not have Thanksgiving here, but I wish we did. Not for the founding fathers, of course, because there weren't any around these parts, but for a myriad other reasons. I honestly feel that having a special day to stop, look around, and take stock of the enormous blessings we are all surrounded by, would do everyone so much good. Me included.

I have often talked about my habit of waking in the mornings and listing 5 things I am thankful for as a way to colour my day, and to remind me that all is not actually lost. But, like every other human being on earth, I tend to get bogged down at times with the things I do not have, and cannot do to the exclusion of everything else. Even those multitude of blessings. I am an idiot. Human, though.

So I thought I would talk to myself today a little. Bear with me, people.
  1. No, I cannot run (yet) but I CAN walk (with a stick). I am thankful.
  2. I cannot climb down a mountain, but I CAN climb up (a small one). I am thankful.
  3. I hurt a great deal, but I CAN feel, and am not as bad as some. I am thankful.
  4. It takes me longer to do most things, but I CAN still do things. I am thankful.
  5. I can only drive short distances, but I CAN drive! I am thankful.
  6. No, I don't have a wood burning stove or a fireplace, but I CAN keep warm. I am thankful.
  7. I don't live in my dream house, but I DO have a home. I am thankful.
  8. My bathroom may need to be replaced asap, but it STILL works. I am thankful.
  9. I may not like what I see over the fence, but I DO have a garden I can grow things in. I am thankful.
  10. My children may live far away, but I CAN talk to them, SEE them (on skype), and chat to them thanks to the marvels of modern day technology. I am thankful.
  11. I can't afford to spend loads on presents, but I CAN use my time to make things. I am thankful.
  12. I can't fix everyones' problems, but I CAN listen. I am thankful.
  13. I may get lonely, but I DO have great friends. I am thankful.
  14. Life may be a trifle challenging, but I CAN still smile. I am thankful.

And that list is just for starters. I could go on. And on.

It is so easy to focus on the stuff I can't do. Don't have. Bad stuff, and heaven knows there has been a great deal of that in my life in recent years. It has been challenging all right. BUT what have I learned from that? So much. So much stuff which has shaped the woman I am today. Not quite what I had in mind, I freely confess. I was born to glide through life. Hahahahahahahaha! Well, the thought would be great at least! Sigh. Oh well........... I do still have dreams, of course!

Actually, gliding may have been a little boring. Perhaps.

No. Everything has happened for a reason. I popped in to the doctor's today to collect a note, and I was chatting to the receptionist about how, until a few years ago, I never darkened their doors. Ah yes - the reason I said that was because she knew who I was straight away, and I said - so anonymity is out then, or something like that. And I left grinning. And as I walked out the door, she called after me and said - "At least you can still smile, Linds."

She is right. I can still smile, after all that has happened.

And for that, my friends, I am truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends for tomorrow!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spring cleaning in Autumn.....

The rain..... Cumbria and parts of Scotland have been flooded badly, and it is now raining again. Mind you, it has not really stopped for days. 1000s of homes are wrecked, and people are staying with friends or family or in refuges. Bridges are falling down, and roads destroyed. How hard it must be for all those people who have had their lives up-ended as we ease into the festive season. Dreadful. Hopefully something will be organised soon as a way for everyone to help.

I got a little carried away on Friday. You see, I have had plenty of time while resting, to re-organise my house. In my head. So on Friday, I decided to empty my linen cupboard. Please tell me why I have so many towels, sheets etc, which have not seen the light of day for.....oh....maybe 20 years. I use and re-use the same things, and there was this mountain.....

I threw the lot onto the floor in the lounge. Then I hauled out the garbage bags and tossed 85% into it. However, in order to get the things I was keeping back into the new place I wanted them to be, I had to move ALL MY FABRIC. Oh good grief. You have NO idea how much fabric is stuffed into this small house. I was ruthless. I have now got a full rubbish bin, and a full recycling bin.

Then, because I tend to over do things (remember how bad I am at pacing???) I decided that I would toss all the bags into the car to take to a charity village close by. And so I thought a half full car was silly. You can see where this is going can't you...

In went old chairs. Bags of books. Clothes. China. A hat. And the front seat was full of things to take to the tip on the way home. And then I called Jean, and arranged for her to collect my chest of drawers - a huge oak one so we could take that as well. It is too big for the house. She arrived early on Saturday and we discovered that it would not fit in her car. That meant calling another friend with a huge car. So he arrived (after racing round his home to find more things to take too) and off we went. In convoy.

And when I got home, this house was exactly the same. 2 car loads did NOTHING. There is not the slightest gap in this place, and how on earth is that possible. I swear everything expands the moment I turn my back. So, as I was still in a ruthless mood, I managed to get up onto the deck in the sewing room. You see, there are 4 cupboards up there which I have not opened in 10 years, and clearly the contents cannot be vital to my health and happiness, or I do believe I may have opened them sometime in the past 10 years. What did I find?? More fabric.

Sigh. I now have a total mess, and have run out of steam. And storage space. I need a nap. You would not believe the state of the sewing room. I hyperventilate when I look in there. So I shut the door, and retreated to the couch.

Tomorrow is another day......

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Randomness revisited.......

It has been quite a week. And it is just Wednesday. It has been marked by an inability to sleep when I go to bed, and an overwhelming ability to sleep when I sit down on the couch. Sigh. My body clock is up the creek.

I always knew this was going to be a tough week. And there have been unexpected added extras .......
  1. A friend's mother died on Monday.
  2. Photocopied another file. More than a ream of paper. And a leg which did not appreciate being stood on.
  3. Could not sleep. In bed at midnight. Up at 3am.
  4. I saw my GP yesterday and totally forgot why I made the appointment 2 weeks ago.
  5. Still can't remember.
  6. I have conceded the need to keep taking the meds. Defeat in one way and reality in another.
  7. Ate chocolate cream cakes with Jean. She found them reduced so we were obviously meant to eat them.
  8. I saw the pain specialist yesterday too. Nothing more they can do. Just keep on doing what I am doing and accept limitations. Wonderful.
  9. Could not sleep. Up at 3am etc etc.
  10. A friend's father died today.
  11. Went to see lawyers today. Had to go over the whole G thing from the start. Over 2 hours of the whole story all over again. Ceremoniously surrendered the files to her. 3 years of work and blood, sweat and tears. It could take months still, but the whole thing is in motion now and I am not fighting alone any more. Praying for a swift conclusion and a miracle or 2. One big positive is that she knows what CRPS means, knows about Bath being a centre of excellence, and knows all the problems associated with CRPS. Without me saying anything. Eureka.
  12. Home to fall asleep on couch for hours. Many hours.
  13. Scoffolding down on monstrosity behind. It has not improved the look. At.All.
  14. Tomorrow........... final meeting with the school, which is going to mean dismissal on medical grounds.
  15. Then maybe, just maybe, I will get to sleep and wake rested on Friday morning. And start trying to find me again.
  16. After burning 2 dinners last week, I invested in a slow cooker. Now have to learn how to use the thing. Sandra ......... I need help!!!

You know, on the way home from the lawyers today, I was discussing timing with Glynis, and I suddenly thought that, had I got lawyers involved before now, it would all have been different, because we would not have known about the mistakes with the valves. This is the right time. For one reason or another, even when I went to check out some lawyers before, something has always been not quite right. I am glad I waited. Or, let's be accurate here, was made to wait.

So, I am sorry I have nothing light and frivolous to expound on today. Maybe next week. Oh week is mammogram time and other assorted delights. Groan. Life is just a frenzy of fun and excitement around these parts.

Thank heavens the sense of humour is still showing some feeble signs of life.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mums and other wonderful things.......

It is Mum's birthday today! Happy Birthday, Mum! I swear she has more energy than Marge and me combined, and never seems to age at all. Marge and I say frequently that if we ever get to 84, which will probably require a miracle or three, we will be wrecks. Mother on the other hand, is amazing.

The photo was taken this summer, next to the lake. One of her absolute favourite things is to go on the lake steamer. She loves being on the water, and it is a wonderful way to relax because there is absolutely nothing to do except sit back and enjoy the trip. Please note the hair. I am greyer than my own mother, under the highlights. Sigh. She has never coloured her hair. That is the real thing. Bigger sigh. And that stick she is holding, please note, is MINE. Not hers. I need a stick. Mother does not. That says it all.

Anyway. Both Marge and I know we have been incredibly blessed to have her as our Mum. The whole family adores her, and she is wonderful. And once she reads this, her head will be too big for her hat. We love you, Mum!

My morning involved sharp objects. I went to await delivery and installation of a new dishwasher for some friends of mine, and the delivery men arrived, and took one look at the old dishwasher and informed me that they were " not allowed to disconnect old appliances". So I told them to move out the way, and hauled the old one out, and, muttering righty tighty, lefty loosey to myself, I switched off the plug, closed the water off, and removed all pipes. Then stood up and told them to get on with things.

10 seconds later, they informed me that they had a problem. The outlet pipe was too big to go through the hole in the side of the cupboard to the drain. "We will have to leave it" they said. I think not. I told them to stop right there, grabbed a kitchen knife, and buried myself in the cupboard, and sawed through the wood until the pipe fitted. There is nothing like taking a kitchen knife to one's friends' kitchen units. Believe me. There was no way I was letting them leave without finishing the installation. Strike one for me. Not sure about the knife though. It may never be quite the same again.

So that was the first of the sharp objects. The next collection of very sharp things was at the hospital, where I had the last (of this set) of my acupuncture appointments. Not pleasant. I am not at all convinced they have worked. I will reserve judgement. Apparently I can have another series in a month or so if I want them. We will see. Right now I am not thrilled at the prospect.

So there you have it. Oh, here is a photo of my new best friends. The gloves I talked about.

One of them. I have not mastered the art of taking a photo of both my hands together. I can't tell you how wonderful they are. They are not even a week old, and look as though I have worn them non-stop for 4 years. Maybe I need more than one pair.......

I have not forgotten Psalm 46. Tomorrow. I am not doing a thing tomorrow. I need to recover from the sharp stuff!

Monday, November 09, 2009

A cold autumn day.......

I have just had a poxy little blue box appear on the tv screen saying that I am about to lose my free channels. I need to get a new viewing card. Screech. I cancelled our Sky subscription when Geoff died, and have been just getting the free satellite channels, which has been ok. Not great, but better than nothing, and now they want me to go and buy another card. I am less than impressed. Buying a new card does not even begin to feature on the List.

Just one of the little things in life which irritate one. I am definitely irritated.

I have taken life very slowly today. I did indeed fall asleep on the couch the moment I sat down yesterday evening, and woke at midnight. Last week was a mega week, and I am still feeling it. Next week will be another mega week, so I am trying to drift rather than march, if you see what I mean. I have spent a great deal of today on the phone to lawyers etc, and we have more meetings scheduled for next week. I have also taken down the last 2 posts for now. You can email me direct if you have any questions or answers. But things are starting to move at last. Slowly.

It has been really cold today. If I had been a little more active, I might not have noticed it as much as I have done. Thank heavens I got some fingerless gloves. They are my new best friends. I can even use the computer while wearing them! I would love to crochet some like the ones at Attic 24 - Lucy is absolutely amazing, and her blog is such a delight. If you haven't visited her before, run over as fast as you can right now at check it out. And she can crochet.....oh yes. I dream of arriving on her doorstep clutching some snuggly wool and a crochet hook and begging for a lesson. I want to be able to make a ripple blanket too. And birds. And flowers. And especially those wristwarmers. What a pity I have not got the faintest idea how to start. Groan. Her blog makes me smile. I just love it.

But please come back after you visit her....hello??? Are you still there??? Maybe not. If you don't know her yet, you will be wading through her archives, so I may as well sit here and chat to myself for a while.

Mumble. Mutter. Stupid tv. Coffee. Maybe that will cheer me up. I need chocolate.

Right. I need to snap out of the Mood. Here are 5 more things I am thankful for:
  1. Being able to talk to my family
  2. New gloves
  3. Warm and cosy bed
  4. A lawyer who is going to make a difference
  5. Hot coffee right here next to me

So much more I could add too. Remind me to tell you a little about Psalm 46. You will not BELIEVE what happened. If ever there was confirmation that God takes care of the details, my Psalm 46 story is it. That can wait till tomorrow.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Shared lunch...

20 people arrived for shared lunch today, and we all had a great time. Once a month, friends take turns to host a shared lunch after church on Sunday. This month it was my turn. It is great, because once upon a time, we all went to the same village church, and now we all go to different ones all over the place, and this is a way we all keep in touch and get to relax, chat and eat together. There was a great deal of eating involved today. So much food! Babies, children, noise, laughter and fun.

It is good. So good that I forgot to take any photos.

I have now restored the house to a semblance of normality and I have to say every part of me aches. I do believe tomorrow will be a slow day. Pacing myself. But I loved it all, and it is worth the aches.

I am looking around as I write, trying to think of anything I need to do while I am upright, because the moment I sit down and relax, I will be there to stay. You have no idea how it all seizes up. I feel it coming on rapidly.

So a good day. I hope you are all having a lovely Sunday too!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Labcor heart valves and other ordinary things.....

Morning, all....

A couple of minor heart points before I move on to more mundane weekend type of things:

The valves in question are Labcor (Brazil) bio-prosthetic porcine aortic valves.
  1. Has any hospital reported an increase in failure of the valves? This is presenting with a ring of abscesses around the base, visible in a TOE (trans-oesophogeal echo-cardiagram), and dehiscence of the actual valve. Cultures all negative for bacteria, although patients show all the other signs indicating endocarditis, and heart failure. Failure rate or re-presenting patients vary from 3 months post op +.
  2. Do hospitals follow the prescribed washing instructions to the letter, including squeezing the ring?
  3. Who trained them in washing procedures?
  4. Is the redo rate higher using Labcor valves?
  5. Has there been any alarm or concern raised re the valves?
  6. Instructions to wash for 2 mins in saline solution 3 times, are different to washing twice for 3 minutes. In my view. The concentration of the saline and gluteraldahyde will be higher in the second option. I think. Am I right?

Anyway. Just a few details I need to get out there. 4 confirmed deaths so far at the hospital where G died that I know of, and there could be more. He was the first. Any info can be emailed to me. The address is on the profile page. Thanks - for all your support, and for asking those questions wherever you may be, when the opportunity arises!

So the weekend is here, and the sun is actually shining. I couldn't sleep last night, so I was at Tesco at dawn to do the food shop. Then at a Ladies' Breakfast and talk at the church in the village at 8am. Food has featured quite highly in recent days, now I come to think of it. There was breakfast in Oxford at a lovely hotel before the Inquests, and then breakfast at the hospital before acupuncture, then scones and coffee out in town yesterday, followed by chocolate brownies and coffee with friends in the afternoon. Breakfast this morning, and tomorrow it is the shared lunch and this month it is here, at my home. So, as I said, food features highly in my life at the moment!

I have just planted the tulips in the pots. I can't kneel or crouch, so it is all bending from the waist stuff, and you have NO idea how awkward it is. I get vertigo after a while. Not to mention that the jumper tends to fall over the head in an unattractive fashion, leaving the back exposed and the hands are too muddy to re-adjust. I am quite sure you have a mental picture of the sight. It is not pretty.

You will be happy to know I have received my first Christmas card. Give me strength. The shops are all full of Christmas stuff now. But I am not ready to think about it yet. Diana has sent me a beautiful book, and I am going to try to relax a little and read this afternoon. It has been quite a week, and the brain is still up and whizzing along at a ridiculous pace. Sigh.

I will be back.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Heart valves and Inquests.....

I am wiped out, people. Unexpectedly, I was listed as a "person with special interest" at the Inquests, and granted permission to speak, and question the witnesses. They combined the 2 Inquests, and with no papers or copies of statements, and with the most delightful lawyer lady sitting next to me writing more questions I needed to ask, I was back in the "seat", so to speak.

The focus and concentration necessary when you are well prepared is one thing. Flying by the seat of your pants and coming up with really telling questions while making notes, and listening to all the evidence is totally another. Remember the inability to focus I have developed with the CRPS? Yes. Well. It was a bit of a challenge, but then indignation and fury can drive you to superhuman levels at times. And I was given a great deal of leeway by the Coroner. The barrister leading the huge hospital team did everything right with great deference. Me? Hahaha. "Any questions, Mrs L?? Yes, you will have questions", said the Coroner. "Oh yes, I have questions". And I did. Many.

Semantics. Was the print on the instruction papers large enough. Oh give me strength. Get glasses. Just an example. However, in the end, a narrative verdict was delivered, stating that the 2 deaths can be mainly attributed to a combination of the hospital failing to follow washing instructions, the supplier failing to train the hospital staff properly in those washing instructions, and the manufacturer writing ambiguous instructions.

No-one is off the hook. The hospital is clearly trying to shift the blame. There was apparently no washing protocol in place back then. There is now. However, there is a washing protocol in every restaurant in the country, so there should have been one in a theatre when dealing with heart valves and life and death. Without a doubt.

At the end, the Coroner looked at me and said to get in touch with his office and he would help with any papers etc that I needed. His officer repeated this after the Inquest. And the delightful surgeon, who I attach no blame to whatsoever, came up to me and one of the other families and my lawyer and said that there is never a day which passes when he does not wonder if, by using another make of valve, all this could have been avoided. He also looked at me and said "You should have been a barrister". I missed my calling, it seems.

So in a short while, I am speaking to the lawyer, and on we move to the next phase, which will involve press releases. At the moment, while it is out of the press, the hospital appear to hold all the cards. That is about to end. I am now ready to do whatever it takes.

So if any of you out there know any heart surgeons, I have a couple of questions about Labcor aortic heart valves. I want to know if any other hospitals around the globe are having problems. I do not do "discreet" enquiries. The time for "discreet" is long past.

This is now later, if you know what I mean. I was interrupted by a call from the lawyer, and we have sorted the next bit, which involves an article in the Sunday papers. I have emptied every paper I possess onto the floor to find various documents, as my filing consists of many piles. And shopping bags. And baskets. Sigh. Note to self: Sort the papers.

Oh - today was the 5th acupuncture session, just to add to the joys of life. I should be resting on the sofa. I am not. My brain is still in overdrive. Yesterday when I got home, after falling asleep a couple of times in the car, I spent the evening dozing, then waking to scribble questions down, dozing, etc etc. I was a passenger, I hasten to add, not the driver. Today has been much the same. I need to sleep, but my Brain. Will. Not. Stop.

I said you would hear all. So there you have it. Check out your address books to see if there are any cardiac surgeons lurking, if you wouldn't mind. I need all the help I can get.

My notebook, pen and I are now retreating to that sofa.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The warrior is back.....

So today is Tuesday. This is worthy of note, because tomorrow is Wednesday. Tomorrow is the day I am going back to Oxford for 2 more Inquests. Not for Geoff, but for 2 more of the people who died like he did. Unnecessarily. There is every chance they will be adjourned because they do not have all the information needed.

And today I had a call from a lawyer who will be there observing both Inquests, as her (very large) firm has been appalled at the fact that there has not been any big investigation into the fact that 7 people (she says) have died so far. They found out and have been tracking events from the Medical Alert issued when the heart valves were withdrawn from use in the EU last year.

I have been praying for an angel, people. I am tired of this warrior mode I have been in for the past 3 years. I have nothing left in me. And maybe she is the angel. Who knows. I do know that we are meeting at 9am tomorrow. So a multitude of prayers would be appreciated. Many multitudes, in fact. And please continue those prayers all day. One Inquest in the morning, and one in the afternoon, and then we start on talks re re-opening Geoff's Inquest again. And this time, there will be lawyers, barristers, and whoever I can get there. Bring it on - the gloves are coming off.

Miracles do happen. I believe that. There could be a miracle too, if someone stands up and says - Enough. We blew it. We are so sorry and accept full responsibility.

Yes, I know, it is naive of me to hope for that, isn't it. However, as I said, miracles do happen. In the end, truth and justice will prevail, of this I have no doubt. I have NO idea how this has been kept out of the press, by the way. But tomorrow, there will not just be two families alone vs the hospital, because I will be there with my 2 wonderful friends, and the lawyer, watching and listening. And holding fast to the promise in Psalm 46.

My papers are ready. My brain has slipped into medical mode again, and adrenalin is surging through me. This is not promoting a peaceful and/or relaxing afternoon or evening.

For so long I have refrained from talking about details, but you know, now I am beyond caring. You will be hearing it all. Geoff died from a massive mistake. Whether the valve was faulty, or the hospital failed to follow procedure and didn't wash the toxic chemicals it was stored in off it before planting it in his chest, the end result is that they killed him. His heart disintegrated.

He did not have to die.