March 29, 2015

Monday 9th March Near Fatal Freak Accident Makes Headline News

Morning…I spent a lovely day in Lymington with my mum who was allowed home from the hospital for the weekend. The family all came to visit, including my nephews and niece. One of them helped my younger brother in the garden and asked “Are you granny’s gardener?” and then followed it up with ” and is auntie Fiona their carpet cleaner?”…all because I got down on my hands and cleaned some marks off their carpet…my role in life is complete!

There must be something about this time of year, as it was a year ago my youngest son had a near fatal, freak accident that made headline news. I can remember it so clearly.

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It was Sunday and had been a lovely sunny day. Everyone was out and about. We had been at a rehearsal and son had been at work. He phoned to check if we were home and said he was going to the park with some friends. Ten minutes later the doorbell rang. Some boys stood there saying I needed to come, as son had been involved in an accident. As a mother of two boys I was used to the dramas, disappointments and worry and thought to myself “oh lord, what has he been up to now!” We walked to the park and as the boys chatted I gathered that as he ran from some bees, a tree branch caught him and he fell. He got up and they noticed a gash in his neck. Just by chance some Red Cross men, who had been on a course, were chatting in the sun outside their homes, at the park entrance. The boys asked them to take a look at my son’s injury. They said “it didn’t look nice” but nasty cuts never do. We arrived at the entrance of the park to find the Red Cross van parked, son sitting in the passenger seat with his head resting on the dashboard, the injury covered and the two Red Cross men standing beside him, one with a clipboard monitoring his pulse. My son wasn’t saying much. They smiled when I arrived, which gave me the false sense of ‘nothing to worry about’…looking back, its probably what they wanted. Son’s girlfriend arrived as she had also finished work and had heard what happened, so she got into the drivers seat and sat with him. The Red Cross men joked that this would make him feel better and get his pulse racing! They told me he would need to go to hospital to have some stitches so I returned home to get my car. Husband was cooking Sunday lunch and said it would be ready by the time we got back. As I got out of my car to take son to the hospital, I was told an ambulance had been called. My brain started racing and I felt the first elements of panic..’Why did they need an ambulance for a cut on the neck needing a couple of stitches?”…but the red cross man kept smiling, so everything must be alright. It was decided that son’s girlfriend would go in the ambulance with him , whilst I would drive my car so I could bring them home later. The ambulance arrived, blocking the road and son was taken into it. Panic rose..he was in there way too long, the ambulancemen didn’t come out, but the red cross men kept on smiling and chatting. Finally, son’s girlfriend was allowed to get in the side door of the ambulance. The ambulanceman opened the back doors and said to me “I must warn you I am going to have to put the blue light on..it is very close to his main jugular vein. Someone was looking down on your son tonight, it is that close”…At that moment I could feel myself inwardly start to shake, suddenly I was scared, tears not far away.”Is he going to be alright?” I asked..the reply “he should be”. I quickly phoned my husband, as I started to follow the ambulance. Meanwhile son’s girlfriend who was oblivious to the severity took a photo of him.

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I lost the ambulance on the way and arrived at the hospital, parked and rushed in. I explained who I was. I sat down and waited and they came and said he was in resuscitation so I would have to wait. My fears rose. They eventually came and said they would take me through. I was taken to a room where my sons girlfriend was sitting all alone. The sort of room that people are taken who are about to be given bad news. As they rushed him into hospital she had apparently been pushed into the room and didn’t understand what was going on. We waited for what seemed like ages and I told her what the ambulanceman had said. Finally, a doctor came and explained that my son was very lucky indeed as the cut was millimeters away from killing him, but they also needed to scan his neck as they were worried there was a leakage to a main organ. We were relieved as we were allowed to see him. He lay on his hospital trolley and was discussing the fact that he was playing the lead that week in his school production and hopefully he would be able to do it by the end of the week. The Dr looked at me and shook her head behind his trolley…it wouldn’t happen.

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A couple of hours later we were relieved to find that there was no leakage. He was given several stitches and the hospital decided to keep him in for observation. He missed out on his Sunday lunch, so husband had to bring him in a McDonald’s. The next day he was allowed to go home and the local press had found out about his story. If he couldn’t be in his school play he decided he could be on the front page!

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Then he got messages from a magazine and an agency but he never followed either up properly. His story made Get Hampshire, was on the local bill boards, it made the Evening Standard and even made The Sun..although the focus of the story was entirely different!

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I knew we were lucky and agreed with the ambulance man.. someone that night had been looking down on us.

March 28, 2015

Sunday 8th March The Talent And Humour Of Open Mic Night

Morning….I’m taking great pleasure in my tea as this is the last teabag, so decorator starting at 9 am on a Sunday morning to paint the kitchen, will be out of luck! We don’t know him, so he is likely to think we are right stingy misers not offering him a cuppa, unless of course he drinks coffee, in which case he will be in luck! The kitchen is going to be an exciting magnolia, as I can’t visualise what it is going to look like, so have gone for boring but safe!

The TOPS Musical Society Fundraising Open Mic night was not only fantastic, but raised nearly £800 towards the huge expense of out next show Fiddler On The Roof, which is fandabbydozy!

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Last year the society sadly nearly folded and financially has been struggling as shows cost more, audiences fall and sponsorship dwindles. Social events have been vital in helping to keep the group afloat, as well as being fun and wanting to keep people involved. Last night had such a lovely atmosphere and demonstrated how many talented young singers there are in the society, a group where I happened to meet my husband 26 years ago. It also, with all the worries I have at the moment with my mum, allowed me to be a proud mum, a proud friend and almost, a proud wife!

My husband compered the evening and having a certain amount of charisma started the evening off with a bit of charm and humour as he tried to encourage people to get up and perform. Unfortunately, some were feeling a bit shy and needed to have a bit of dutch courage, some needed a few bevvies to give them dutch courage, some needed to wait until the end of the evening before deciding they had any courage and some decided courage was best left to others!

My husband persuaded, or you could say forced, one of our sons to start off the evening by singing a song he had performed at college from Made In Dagenham, a show I have never seen. It was quite a sad song and perhaps reflects the difficult time he has been having recently, but he sung it very well. Unfortunately my video skills did not do so well, and I started and stopped disastrously missing the first few seconds.

A group of the youngsters sang a great rendition of Seasons of Love.

Son number two sang “Feeling Good”.

There were lots of other solo, duet and group performances, a poem and two comedy numbers, the first by my husband. He decided to sing me a love song which is very touching and should have made my evening, but when he repeated the refrain “she has a penis” the love was lost and the proud wife feeling rapidly disappeared! The words were not his own, but the backing track and vocals were.

Then to finish the evening my fellow ‘old bags’ did a brilliant comedy number, where I should have been the lovely red head at the end, but because of circumstances I couldn’t rehearse and whilst appreciating comedy I wasn’t totally up to performing it.

A great evening, a great success and a great fundraiser! The next one is being booked.

Anyone, wanting to see all these lovely people perform properly click here..www.topsmusicals.co.uk

March 23, 2015

Saturday 7th March Spring is in the air!

Morning…not being a person au fait with technology and all that goes with it, I only became aware of Pinterest a few months ago, probably at the same time I started my blog. I spent several months calling it Pin Interest and having to be corrected by friends, although being corrected didn’t really make a difference, because the name stuck even though I know I’m wrong! My colleagues occasionally call it that too, sadly, just to humour me! What has surprised me most is my most popular pin…can you believe it..it’s washing knickers, five pins in one week! Not MY knickers I might add, but brand new kids ones bought from Primark and linked to Aliens Love Underpants. As you can see it’s an inspiring pin, that teachers presumably seem to love!

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Today is looking up, the sun is shining, it is our musical Society’s Open Mic night and my mum is being allowed home for the weekend from hospital.

I think Winston the rabbit also thought things were looking up..Spring is in the air and he seems to have taken a shine to one of the cats. I went out to hang up some washing and the cat came bounding up wanting to be stroked. He was quickly followed by the rabbit who at one point tried to take his affection a little too far, thankfully, the cat was having none of it! Every time the cat was followed too closely by the rabbit, Winston was swiped, so there no chance of having a new type of pet, although what it would be called is up for debate, a cabbit or a rabcat!

March 22, 2015

Thursday 5th and Friday 6th March Celebration Assembly

Morning…internet  off for a while and only just returned, which meant that when I woke at 5 am I couldn’t Escape to the Country. I’m back to work today and rehearsing my class assembly..I have one week.

It was lovely to see all the children in my class and a child from the class next door brought me a lilac, tissue flower to cheer me up, which was very sweet.

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The class had been practising hard the assembly we started before mum became so seriously ill. The caterpillar song and life cycle dance were looking great and they all said the words about why their mums were fantastic very loudly. Then they acted out sections from the book ‘My Mum is Fantastic’ but it was lacking a little something! In my dramatic and creative wisdom I decided that each section needed thirty seconds of music for them to perform to, which would hopefully bring each acting performance to life! Mum doing fantastic painting was to be to the Take Hart theme tune, ( I’m showing my age..it was an Art programme in the 70′s and 80′s!) fantastic tightrope walking was to Barnum, (I’m showing what Musicals I’ve done..I played the 161 year old Joyce Heth!)  fantastic story telling was to Jackanory, (I’m showing what childhood TV I watched!) fantastic gardening was to English Country Garden, (I’m showing what songs I sang at school!) Fantastic animal taming was to Animal Magic, (again it’s an age thing, I’m sad and have fond memories of Johnny Morris!) fantasic swimming, (I just found a random song on the internet!) and finally it ended with mums fantastic party’s..which had to be Kool and the Gang’s ‘CELEBRATION’ (I’m a party animal myself and obviously fantastic!) Assembly sorted.

My fantastic mum

Whilst  I’d been away the children had been practicing ‘Celebration’. The staff knew I had been talking about singing it for the end of the assembly and they had worked on a couple of confident child soloists who demonstrated their singing beautifully.Having heard their rendition I thought it would be good if one of the children sang the deep “Lets celebrate” echo as well. I asked each child as we lined up to go to assembly, demonstrating myself each time, “Would you like to do it?” Until the child with the solo being ‘Kool’ said ” Mrs ******** I think you should do the solo!” What a compliment..I took great pride in the fact that I was cool enough to be in his gang, nothing to do with being an exhibitionist and wanting to be on stage! This was the same child who on watching an S Club 7 routine on Youtube earlier, said “it sounds good, but just doesn’t look good!”… such critique, at aged four..bound to go far! Further than me, who suggested, in the evening, at dancing  that Tescos sold lycra navy dance trousers for men..what was I thinking? Mind you if I did find them there, I would indeed be celebrating, as a whole evening of online searching was unsuccessful.

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March 21, 2015

Wednesday 4th March Laughter Through The Pain

Morning.. mum’s room with a view has a chair next to the window where she likes to sit and see the changing weather, but she wants a cushion for extra padding. I’ve said I’ve got one big enough at home.

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Sadly, I forgot the cushion. I returned home last night and organising myself plus teenage son meant too much to think about, so the cushion was left, by the front door! Son was outraged I had purchased Tesco sandwiches for the car journey down the M3, when on entering the hospital he saw Burger King, “You should have told me hospitals have shops and eating places, I would have preferred a Whopper!”..unfortunately my purse didn’t prefer this option, it had bought a bag the previous day! He made it clear to my mum how peeved he was and how shocked he was to find shops in a hospital, which made her smile.

Mum’s room not only has a view, but a toilet and a shower. Even whilst ill she has standards and a fighting spirit, so when dad used her toilet and dared to leave the toilet seat up, he was told to return to sort it out, which made us laugh. I also had to point out that the navy round necked jumper he was wearing was in fact a v neck one…he might not have realised as the v was facing the back!

Doctors have asked mum to exercise which is a challenge, as she can’t leave her room. She walks from wall to wall, which if she had a pedometer would be approximately nine steps times two, laughable and rather short of the 2000 I’m required to walk daily, well, in an ideal world! She also has to wear tight white compression stockings. These are not a glamorous look, but a necessity in hospital and out of which peeps her toes, at her own admission not her best body feature, so suggesting my son should inspect her toes didn’t go down well!

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Mum is slowly getting to grips with new phone technology and now realises that just because she hasn’t got her own own phone number saved in the mobile doesn’t mean she can’t ring home! She has also moved on to the advanced technology level and has even used the photo setting. Todays technical challenge is a portable DVD, so she can watch the series of Ann of Avonlea. Remembering names of technical gadgets is still a challenge..”what is the thing that helps you get from one place to another?”..never mind the word Sat Nav..the reply was ” you mean a CAR”..yep, more laughter.

Mum’s nutrition levels are low so she has to raise them up by drinking three horrid nutrition drinks daily, as well as getting rid of any infection with antibiotics. After an afternoon of chatting, laughing and admiring yet another sunset from her room with a view, we left and my son said “It is like there is nothing wrong with granny”…that is exactly how she wants it.

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Returned home to someone so relaxed, chilled and with no worries…how I wish this could be me.

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March 20, 2015

Tuesday 3rd March Hospital Room with a view

Morning…sun now shining in Lymington but terrible hailstorm in the night which hummed, battered and shook the house keeping us awake. Weather is like my emotions at the moment..all over the place.

This mornings phone request from the hospital is a tape measure… was surprised as couldn’t imagine my mum doing room or body measurements whilst ill, but apparently it is for her knitting.

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People are so kind and my mum and dad are lucky to have a strong church community supporting them. The prayers and good wishes being sent their way are keeping them both strong, but also preventing my dad from taking on all the household chores he claims he can do at nearly eighty! He is constantly on the phone giving updates and receiving good wishes, so we’ve decided that whilst noble of him to volunteer to iron, cook, clean, garden and put the bins out, he needs a cleaner. We are on the search…but not for the wide selection of cleaners husband thought we were on the look out for!

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I never considered a hospital a shopping venue, but Southampton Hospital has a clothing shop called The Stock Shop which every time I pass, my eyes are drawn to. It has bags, reasonably priced, unless of course you shop in Poundland when they might be a tad expensive, and also in lots of bright colours. I popped down whilst visiting and was amazed at my own sensibleness. Instead of the green bag I loved and had my eye on, I bought a black one …It was a case of facing up to the fact I am not a character from the Emerald City with a vast green wardrobe or green coat to match, instead I have an abundance of black, a necessity for a woman of a certain age wanting to hide lumps, bumps and everything else!

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Mum has been moved into a room of her own as she has an infection, so now has a room with a view and as the sun sets what a wonderful view.

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March 19, 2015

Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd March Signs of Hope

Morning..the first day of March and there are lots of signs of Spring in my parents lovely garden signaling lighter days, new life and hope of warm days ahead.

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My mum is a wonderful cook, sadly I do not have her skills. It is a family tradition that after church mum would cook a big family Sunday roast. Today, because of her being sick we had to glue her to the sofa whilst my brother, dad and myself cooked the Sunday roast with a little bit of help from Marks and Spencer and Waitrose…she wasn’t convinced at first by our capabilities! It is a standing joke that mum often has jars and food that are perhaps beyond their best, as she has a big walk in larder where food can sometimes get lost. We were looking for a vegetable to accompany our chicken and my brother took some out saying ” I’m not sure whether we should have carrots or parsnips?” It was an easy decision…

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I turned on the kettle for a cup of a tea and having waited for ten minutes for something to happen I asked “I think it must have too much water in it” I poured some out and still nothing happened “Is there something wrong with your kettle dad?”..my brother looked and said ” well it helps if you switch it on”…oopsie, the plug was unplugged for dad’s coffee machine! I plugged it in and even then forgot to re- switch it on so by the time we made the tea we were well and truly parched and maybe mum wasn’t too far wrong about my capabilities!

Sunday roast was a success, the parsnips were less so and mum had an enjoyable family day at home, before returning to hospital.

Waking up with a cat on my bed is like home from home..except my parents cats have normal names like Poppy and Tabitha and are not named after drinks!

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Sitting in bed and my mobile phone went, it was mum. She phoned to say a doctor had been round and the news was not good..the cancer had gone through her stomach lining and the family had been asked to see the consultant that afternoon. She had felt like there was little that could be done. The phone went down and we felt devastated.

We were dreading the meeting with the consultant in the afternoon, but whilst her condition was serious, he did give us options and like the signs of Spring, hope.

March 18, 2015

Saturday 28th February Jacket Requiring Risk Assessment

Morning…I have decided I need to do a risk assessment when wearing my big black padded coat…here it is on a trip up the Thames, keeping me warm!

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Firstly, it scooped up mums cup of water at the hospital yesterday and threw it all over the floor, so I was on my hands and knees with a box of tissues wiping it all up.

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Secondly, a vital prescription attached itself to the back of my coat and I took it for a walk around M and S car park, until dad spotted it!

After having lots of tests and giving my mum antibiotics for an infection the hospital have said she can go home for the weekend, returning on Sunday night. She is happy.

Once home, mum decided she needed to enter the modern world of high tech and require a mobile phone! She watched all the other patients using them and having spent a long time trying to contact home and having to wait in a queue, she has decided her own personal phone is a necessity. Dad and I made a last minute dash into Lymington high street to Car Phone Warehouse, the only place you can really purchase a mobile phone in the town. We were dropped off by my brother, as it was near to closing time on a busy market day, so impossible to park. We explained to the sales person that we wanted an easy to use phone for an older person with clear buttons. He recommended a flip up Doro Phone Easy, which was apparently made with the older technophobe in mind. Hoping mum doesn’t speak into it like a dicta-phone, which is what happened when I had a flip up phone and she obviously didn’t hear a word!

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Having made our purchase in double quick time I phoned my brother to pick us up only to find myself speaking to a voice I didn’t recognise. “You want a Margherita pizza?” the voice said several times,..’NO I DON’T…. I want a lift home!’ Not sure how our lines got crossed with a pizza delivery place but they did.

Mum now has all phone numbers saved to her phone and has been given a lesson on using it..her three positives…big buttons, easy to use and a camera.. lets hope she can use it!

March 17, 2015

Friday 27th February Life running amuck

Morning…at the moment I have an increasing aversion to the M3 which seems to divert to the A30 each evening, which annoyingly also had roadworks last night after finishing at dancing,so my journey home took forever. Mornings are a struggle and car journeys a battle. I realised  why yesterday when I enter my car I have a feeling of impending doom and imminent uprising…ignition on, music plays, I switch off, but the damage is done..bit late to ‘nip it in the bud’ as thanks to my sons Les Miserables has been my car music for years… (as the cracked case demonstrates!).

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It has also not gone unnoticed that more and more I seem to play the role of drunken, cackling, but full of character women when I perform…it maybe says a lot about the influence it has had on me too!

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I believe it is time to stop the revolution as it is running amuck.. I’m changing the CD!

Went to school but after telling them about my mum and having an emotional moment, I was sent home to pack so I could go to Lymington to be with my dad and we could visit my mum in Southampton hospital together. There are times when if you are lucky to have a close family you realise they come first and this was one of those times. Having a student in her final teaching practice meant that I wasn’t teaching anyway and having planning time on a Friday morning meant it was my own time I was missing, but I was very grateful to my colleagues  for their support. Dad was pleased to have me for company and we visited mum who was having various tests done, being so strong and behaving as though nothing was wrong. For us however, life could not longer be planned in years, months or weeks it is a case of one day at a time.

March 16, 2015

Wednesday 25th & Thursday 26th February My Mum is Fantastic

Afternoon…so I am preparing my children for their class assembly in two weeks time with the caterpillar dance. They curled up like an egg, shot out into a caterpillar, they then crawled around munching leaves, spun into a cocoon, broke their wings slowly out of it and finally flew like a butterfly, all to different pieces of music brilliantly put together by a colleague. I demonstrated spinning and flying but gave the egg curling and caterpillar sliding a miss, as I wasn’t sure my body would get up off the floor with ease! Instead I found a colleague who was younger, fitter and healthier to demonstrate.

We then discussed why each child’s mum was fantastic after a quick read of My Mum is Fantastic, as the assembly falls in the week of Mothers Day..it ranged from giving huggles, buying bikes or glasses to running a bath and making a hot chocolate.

My fantastic mum

I had to do an observation for my student and then went to a mentors course in the afternoon.

On the very morning I don’t need to be up early my eyes, ears and brain have zinged into action at some unearthly time. Couldn’t even watch Escape to the Country due to sleeping sounds resonating round the bedroom. My kitchen now has lights and it looks like I might have to go and experience them!

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At school it was cooking and pizza caterpillars were on the menu!

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I got home to news that was to devastate my family. I needed to phone my dad as my fantastic mum had been rushed into hospital. She had been to the doctor the previous day as she was feeling tired and they had taken blood tests. In the night she had been sick and shaky and the doctor came to visit her, saying the tests showed she was anaemic, apparently a sign of something more serious. He felt her stomach and found a lump. In that moment our life changed..