Holiday plans for two!

Another of the many advantages in changing jobs is the fact that I will be working in the same local authority as my daughters’ schools – and so will be far more likely to have the same school holidays as them! I’m finishing at my current school a week before term ends for that very reason – having the time with eldest daughter while her siblings are off on holiday with their dad was more important to me than having the pay for working till the end of term.

So we’re planning a little jaunt of our own! Ours needs to be low key and wheelchair friendly. An extensive survey on Facebook (I have a definite love-hate relationship with Facebook but it comes into its own for this sort of thing) came up with lots of ideas but Llandudno was suggested and after that nothing else came close! Of course. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself (yes I do; my brain is fried at the moment…)!

So we’re off for 3 nights in a B&B on the sea front. We’re looking forward to a drive up the Great Orme, a visit to the RSPB place at Conwy and lots of time walking and wheeling along the front, eating ice cream and fish and chips. It’s going to be brilliant!

Now we just need reasonable weather to go with it please!

Lazy blogger

Was it REALLY Christmas Eve that I last posted in this blog? Good grief…

No point trying to catch up properly with the last three months. Suffice it to say that my broken foot mended enough that I could return to work with a limp at the beginning of January, and the limp had disappeared less than a week later. All completely back to normal now, of course, though it still aches a bit at the fracture site when I’ve been standing for a long time.

I’ve never had a ‘word for the year’ before, as many of my blogging friends and acquaintances do. I never intended to either, but at the beginning of this year, a word kept coming to mind and I couldn’t shake it off. In the end I decided to adopt it as a sort of all encompassing New Year’s resolution (something else I don’t usually bother with!). The word?


I am a rubbish relaxer. I’m not a worrier as such, but I’m always just that bit… tense. On edge. Waiting for the next thing to go pear shaped. When I sit down to knit, or read, or watch TV, I always have that feeling I should be doing something else – and even though ‘should’ has been a banned word in our house for a long time now, it’s still my go-to feeling until I remind myself not to.

But this January 1st, I resolved to make ‘Relax’ my watchword for the year.

I was slightly scared that there was something significant in the word and that life would give me reason to need it (is it just me whose mind works that way?), and almost immediately after Christmas, work became trickier and for reasons beyond anyone’s control I realised that my job was probably going to be disappearing before too long. And in the middle of rather a lot of difficult days and weeks, I found that I was indeed relaxed, against all the odds. I just had that feeling that it would all be okay, even though I had no idea how.

I stumbled upon a job I just knew I had to apply for, even though I wasn’t really looking for a job at the time. I applied. I got an interview. I was offered the job. I didn’t actually WANT to leave the school I’m at now but as the child I was supporting is no longer there, I couldn’t be sure I’d still have a job come September.

So, I have four more days left at my current school. Four more days of 17 mile commutes (hurrah). Four more days with lovely supportive staff and gorgeous children who I am going to miss SO much (sob).

Then after the Easter holidays, I will start at a new school. This one isn’t 17 miles away; it’s about half a mile away. A ten minute walk from home. Same pay, same hours, very similar job to the one I’ve been doing. But half a mile from my house. I can’t even count all of the ways this is going to improve our family life but:

– I will save about £150 a month in fuel costs.
– Child care costs will go down from quite a lot to almost nothing.
– I can have breakfast with Three and then walk her to school.
– When she is ready, she can start walking to school on her own, just as her brother and sister did at the same age.
– Because of the way my hours are set out, I will be able to come home and have lunch with One, at least some of the days.
– Walking there and back each day will be regular exercise I am just not getting at the moment – I’m hoping it will help my waistline to cease expanding and maybe even shrink a little!

This is a bitter-sweet week coming up. Four days left in a familiar environment I didn’t actually want to leave, then saying goodbye to a very lovely set of people, before taking 30-40 minutes driving along a busy dual carriageway to get home. Then on Friday I’m going to walk Three to school for the first time in well over a year, then going in to visit my new school to get my bearings and find out about the child I’ll be working with, and meet some of the other staff, ready to start properly after the Easter holidays. And then I can walk home. And it’ll take me 10 minutes.

I foresee a mixture of tears and excitement. It all feels very weird.

Next post (because I’m planning on being back blogging again now) I will tell you all about the holiday One and I have got planned. 🙂

One more sleep till Christmas

Yes, we will be singing along to Muppet Christmas Carol a little later on – our time honoured family Christmas Eve tradition (though every other year when the children are with their dad, we move Christmas Eve (and day) to a time which suits!).

Foot update: huge improvement in the past week. As of today I can shuffle around the house on flat surfaces unaided by airboot or crutches – though I am using the airboot when I have to actually do anything useful at any speed! Yesterday One and I went into town on the bus, and with one crutch plus the boot I completed the rest of the Christmas present shopping. We celebrated this major achievement with a Black Forest hot chocolate each in a certain chain coffee shop in the centre of town, before getting the bus home again! In the afternoon I walked, with boot and crutch, to the supermarket, put the crutch in a trolley, negotiated food buying, and then had a lift home from a lovely friend.

I am still doing everything at snail’s pace, but at least I can do pretty much everything again now, and being forced to go slowly is actually very good for me. It’s not my natural way to do things and I know I miss so much by rushing around all the time.

No idea yet when I’ll be able to drive again but I can now see that possibility on the horizon and I’m still hoping to be back at work at the beginning of next term.

Something amazing happened over the weekend. We have been without central heating since last February (when a local, horrified, plumber came and told us we needed an entire new system as it is all out of the ark), and the immersion heater died at the beginning of October, leaving us with no hot water either. We have attempted to get on the new boiler scheme, but were deemed unsuitable by the company we applied to as our system is too old and unreliable and they couldn’t risk putting a new boiler onto a system which might die. That was a very low moment. My mum came to the rescue with the offer of funding and I contacted a different local plumber who had been recommended. He is massively busy at the moment and can’t replace the boiler till January, but after a few weeks of trying to find a second hand pump for a temporary patch up, he turned up out of the blue brandishing said pump on Saturday afternoon and managed to get the radiators on. We were amazed and delighted, which turned to despair when after an hour and a half the boiler died again. On Sunday the plumber returned, drained all the air out of the system and since then, so far, everything has worked as it should.

It is truly amazing having radiators that come on and warm up, and hot water coming directly out of a tap instead of a kettle. My first bath in nearly three months was indescribably wonderful.

We still need a new boiler, at least, and the plumber is hoping we might not need new pipes or radiators, but he says it’s very difficult to tell until he starts the work. A wonderful lady at CAMHS who works with one of my children is currently looking into the possibility of finding grants for funding which might help save my mum from having to pay out quite so much. There is some hope of a warmer, more efficient house for 2014! And at least we’re getting a warm Christmas!

After such a busy day out and about yesterday, I have no intention of getting dressed at all today. So far, we have had my mum round for a cuppa and a chat, and watched the 2000 version of The Railway Children (I cried and cried at ‘Oh Daddy, my Daddy’, and all of my children laughed at me… heartless wretches). In half an hour or so it will be time to close the blinds and get Michael Caine and the Muppets into the DVD player.

All three children are here and we are snug and warm. Everything is ready and Christmas can begin. I feel relaxed and hugely grateful for a gradually mending foot and warm radiators.

I wish all of my readers and friends a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and hopeful New Year. If I had any sort of resolution it would be to continue to try to live my life one day at a time, and looking for joy in the small things. Some days that is very far from reality, but all I can do is continue to try!

Day 8

Just a quick post tonight as bedtime is looming!

Today I managed to use the airboot and the crutches to walk to a local shop a few streets away to buy crisps and nuts for our sofachurch Christmas get together tomorrow night. One came with me as far as the shop, helped carry the items and stashed them in the rucksack on my back once I’d paid for them. She then went in the other direction for an appointment and I walked home all by myself!

Amazing how something so simple now takes so much organising and working up to. I was really nervous about being out by myself, though of course it was fine. As I got in the front door, my phone rang. I stood in the hall behind the door talking to the caller for a few minutes and as we were wrapping the conversation up there was a knock on the door! I was really glad I hadn’t just settled back down on the sofa again so it was all rather useful timing! (It was delivery of a Christmas present from ebay – hurrah!).

Talking of Christmas presents, I’ve done a load more online shopping today, making lists as I went, making sure I stuck rigidly to my budget, and now I only have a very few presents to get in ‘real life’ so to speak. I’m hoping I might make it into town at some point in the next week as I begin to be more mobile; there’s a bus which stops almost opposite our house so that might be a possibility if I feel up to it. I’m relieved to have got things a bit more organised – it’s been preying on my mind and tomorrow I might pick up my knitting again.

As for today, my walk, which was probably about quarter of a mile altogether, if that, pretty much knocked me out and I sank into an accidental and very deep sleep on the sofa for an hour and a half when I got back! Since breaking my foot I seem to be weeping, and sleeping, at the drop of a hat – two side effects I really wasn’t expecting! Everything makes me cry (most ridiculous example so far was the Christmas Bake Off episode last night when Mary Berry put a little tea light into her gingerbread house and all the boiled-sweet windows glowed *sob*) and I keep falling asleep at random! Hopefully all part of the healing process…

Conversation just now:
One: How are you feeling?
Me: My foot hurts. How are you feeling?
One: The side of my mouth hurts.
Me: Maybe if I kick you in the mouth with my bad foot, the two pains will cancel each other out and we’ll both be absolutely fine…
One: YES! Let’s DO that!

The tragic thing is that, for us, that’s a perfectly normal conversation!

(Spoiler alert: we didn’t do that…)

One week on

It’s a whole week since I toppled sideways to the ground outside our house. In my head, at the time, I thought I’d be back to normal after a couple of days. The reality is rather different from that, but I can be positive and see how much better I am now than I was last Tuesday night.

The situation on day 7 is as follows:

– The airboot continues to be a thing of joy. It still hurts to put my foot down in it, but at least I can do it, and standing on both feet, even supported almost entirely by crutches, is wonderful.

– I can walk short distances around the house with airboot and crutches and then need a nice long rest with the foot elevated to recover.

– The bruising continues to come out more and more; it looks a lot more dramatic than it did last Tuesday even though none of the bruises are in the least bit tender – no bruising at all at the actual fracture site! Bizarre.

– Getting about is still exhausting

– I’m pretty much managing without painkillers now – just 2 paracetamol and 2 NSAIDs during the day (which I’m hoping to cut out tomorrow), and the same again just before I go to sleep.

Today the following nice things have happened:

– A work colleague who lives in my town, is currently on maternity leave but was heading into school today for a meeting, called round to collect both my sick note and my present for the Secret Santa to take in for me. It was really nice to see her despite the fact I was in my pyjamas and the house is a tip! Also good to be reassured from someone at a senior management level that I would definitely be a health and safety nightmare and a liability if I’d tried to go to work on my crutches, and that I should take as much time as I need to get properly better rather than rush back and get worse! (Still hoping hard to be back for the beginning of term though!)

– I got a parcel today from a lovely friend which I can only describe as a ‘broken foot survival kit’. It contained some gorgeous sock yarn (which I am reluctantly resisting casting on until I’ve finished at least one of my current Works In Progress), a big bar of chocolate and a puzzle book – fabulous! Thank you Dawn!

– I also opened another parcel from another lovely friend which contained a wonderful purple knitted hat. I’ve been wearing it all day and it has both kept me warm and cheered me up loads! Thank you Liz!

I have utterly awesome friends. Lots of whom live too far away.

Plus an awesome eldest daughter, who made it to the corner shop and back this evening just because I said I was craving Lucozade. And an awesome youngest daughter who has made me a lovely detailed Christmas card. I haven’t seen Son today of course but he too is awesome and made it back to Manchester just fine on Sunday even though he had to walk to the station and find his train all by himself! Bless them all. 🙂

Airboot of joyousness


This device from the fracture clinic is already improving my life immeasurably, in the tiniest of ways.

I just did the washing up for the first time in almost a week. OK so One had to boil the kettle and pour the water into the bowl and pass me all the pots, but I stood at the sink and washed them all.

I managed to step up the step into the house when we got home from the hospital, remaining upright instead of crawling in on hands and knees with my bum in the air like I have for the past six days.

And I have just discovered I no longer need the chair outside the back door to help me get to the outside toilet. I won’t dwell on how much easier that whole operation is when you don’t have to wobble on one leg…

I’m still supported entirely by crutches and putting my foot down isn’t pain free even in the boot. I can only walk for a short while before a good long rest of the foot back on the sofa. But even this little bit of extra mobility is amazing when I’ve been hopping for nearly a week.

Apparently I’ve fractured the base of my fifth metatarsal in the best possible place. The x ray was fascinating to see. Recovery time should be 4-6 weeks. I’ve done nearly a week already.  Driving-wise, as soon as I’m completely out of the boot I can sit in the stationary car and play with the pedals until I’m confident I can do a pain free emergency stop. I’ve got a sick note for work and am hoping I’ll be able to focus on rest and recovery over the Christmas holidays with a view to getting back to work at the start of the new term.

Feeling tired, sore, but much more positive and with hope that improvement can now start to happen.

In which I stamp my good foot and demand to be in full health immediately

Day Five (in the Broken Foot House). And I am still unable to put my foot to the floor or even move it much without squeaking. This situation is currently causing me to be sulky and stroppy and behave in the manner of a three year old.

How is it possible that I can stumble and fall on Tuesday evening, and at Sunday lunchtime still be in a position where I am planning down to every miniscule detail how I am going to manage to wash my hair and be clean and presentable enough to leave the house for our church carol service this afternoon?

It is a very steep learning curve to acceptance when all your plans are turned upside down like this! Part of me still thinks I’ll be walking about by the middle of next week. That’s the same part of me that thought, on Tuesday evening, that I’d be back to work by the end of this week, and perfectly okay by today. Bah!

Maybe the fracture clinic tomorrow afternoon will give me some concrete information and help me come to terms with what the next few weeks will hold. I am not enjoying this feeling of being in limbo at all.

I keep thinking about the different aspects of Christmas that are going to be affected by this. The whole hiding-and-wrapping-and-stashing of presents. The filling of stockings on Christmas Eve. I fear that One is going to have to be my elf (and indeed she has offered) – but what about her presents? She may be a mature and sensible 15 and a half but she needs some surprises too! What about Christmas Day itself? We were planning to go round to Mum’s house (and take roast potatoes with us). If Mum comes here instead, lovely, but the prospect of cooking seems impossible in my current state! I’m hoping by then I’ll have a little bit more mobility. We’ll work it all out and it will be fine, I know, but I want this to be a true record of my grumbles and worries and fears.

This is my blog, so please allow me this moment of whinging. In a minute I’ll pick up my knitting and do another row of scarf. And find my sense of humour and perspective again.

Christmas is coming


Today has involved:
– Welcoming Two back from his dad’s house for the weekend (I normally meet him off the train but today he had to walk home by himself)
– Watching two films on Lovefilm with all three children: Nativity 2 Danger in the Manger (first time of watching, absolutely superb) and The Iron Giant (we used to have it on VHS video and have watched it numerous times but not for many years. Lovely revisit of an old favourite)
– Mobilising all three children, from my sofa, to tidy up the living room and put up the tree and decorations. See the above photo. They did a fab job.
– Sitting with tears of pride running down my face as I heard all three children washing up and drying up about three days’ worth of pots in the kitchen (yes the broken foot is making me more emotional than usual…)
– Finding out soon afterwards that they had moaned and bickered throughout and that Two’s back was now hurting from standing up for so long… (and yet I am unmoved. It’s about time they found out what I do for them on a daily basis *grin*)
– Eating tea which was ready meals warmed up by One in the oven. Yum!
– Being reminded via social media of the 2006 infant school performance of The Christmas Postmen (in which Two was one of the Postmen). Persuading the children to dig out the dvd and making them all sit through the whole thing. It was great and most amusing pointing out the tiny little cute children who are all great big hulking Year 9s now!
– Discovering that watching people break their leg on Casualty when you have a fractured foot is vicariously far more painful than usual!
– Knitting three more rows of my 350 stitch sock yarn scarf. Three rows of sock yarn weight makes no discernible difference to the scarf’s progress and takes all evening. I will persevere however because it’s going to be absolutely gorgeous when it’s done.

Foot hurts no less than it did yesterday and is turning an interesting shade of blue. We’re going to our church carol service tomorrow afternoon. I’m alternately really looking forward to it and absolutely dreading having to leave the house again on these bloody crutches!

How the mighty have fallen (in which I am rescued by Batman, Robin and a Gingerbread Man)

There are probably all sorts of witty ways I could begin this post, but they all escape me this evening. The bare facts are as follows:

– On Tuesday evening I came home from work, cooked and ate tea with One then collected Three from her after school club as usual.
– We got out of the car at home.
– I walked round the car to the pavement, somehow stumbled and turned my ankle over and ended up sprawled inelegantly on the pavement right outside my house.
– After laughing and reassuring Three I was perfectly okay, I realised I couldn’t get up.
– I crawled into the house and was met by One and her crutches to help me get to the sofa.
– After panicking loudly on facebook, I followed my friends’ advice and called 111.
– They sent me an ambulance, with blue flashing lights and everything.
– The paramedics looked at my foot and said ‘it’s going to be a trip to Leighton, isn’t it?’ (local hospital)
– They took me for an ambulance ride, gave me ibuprofen on the way, booked me in and left me in a wheelchair in A&E to await my fate.
– After about an hour I was called through to Minors. Had to shout very loudly to ask the receptionist to wheel me round there as I couldn’t move!
– Foot prodded. I squeaked loudly at very localised pain. Sent for X ray. I was NOT brave and whinged a lot to the X ray people as they asked me to put my foot into positions it preferred not to adopt.
– I’ve broken my fifth metatarsal.
– I got double tubigrip, a pair of crutches, and an appointment at the fracture clinic 6 days’ from then.
– A very kind friend came to my rescue to give me a lift home (thank GOODNESS for facebook!).

Since then I’ve been existing on painkillers, self pity, chocolate, tea and an occasional dose of necessary sense of humour.

I’m learning to ask for help. A bit. Sometimes. As I am Ms Bloody-Stubborn-And-Fiercely-Independent it is a very humbling experience being completely and utterly helpless.

– I can put no weight on my foot at all, and daren’t try until the fracture clinic tell me what’s what on Monday afternoon.
– I crawl up the stairs at night on my good foot and my other knee, and slide down them on my bottom in the morning. Other than that, I don’t use the stairs at all.
– I have a survival bag with painkillers, kindle, phone-and-charger, hairbrush and anything else I need on a daily basis which sits next to me at all times and I get a child to carry up and down the stairs for me when I go.
– My knitting sits next to the sofa at my feet at all times though I haven’t been doing much of it yet as I still feel guilty for doing leisure activities when I’m supposed to be at work.
– One certain friend has been particularly wonderful; turning up on the first morning saying ‘I knew if I offered help on facebook you’d say no, so I’ve just come anyway’, bearing teabags and chocolate, and being an absolute mine of genius ideas and practical help.
– I’ve been bowled over by the kindness and willingness of so many other people too. My faith in the basic loveliness of humanity has been boosted tremendously.

I have absolutely no clue at the moment when I will be able to drive again or when I’ll be able to get back to work. I’ve gone from absolute mayhem hectic busyness which I was struggling to sustain without a nervous breakdown to barely being able to move or do anything at all. A very tiny part of me thinks this might have been the only way to get me to slow down enough to save my mental health from falling to pieces. The rest of me is just massively annoyed and stressed at the myriad logistical problems this has now created.

Winning the prize for farcical events so far is the trip to Tesco with my friend this afternoon, so I could do some grocery shopping. J pushed me in the wheelchair we recently purchased for One; we attached a trolley to it and trundled around the store crossing items off my list. Lots of easy-prepare food as cooking is impossible for me right now. We noticed that today must be Christmas dressing up day for the Tesco staff as we wheeled past a rather tall Oompa Loompa!

We heard a sireny sound as we shopped, idly chatted about whether it was the fire alarm, but as everyone else seemed to be ignoring it, we just carried on shopping. By the tortilla chips, we heard a tannoy announcement informing us all that it was indeed the fire alarm and we should all leave the store immediately.

We joined a stream of shoppers heading towards the entrance, escorted by various dressed up staff including Batman, Robin, and Superman. My wheelchair pushing was taken over by a Gingerbread man, who made sure our trolley was left safely and then said ‘we’re not allowed to use the lift in a fire alarm, but we’ll have to get you downstairs somehow…’

The end result was that I was wheeled backwards onto the travelator and held still on there until we got to the bottom, by a Gingerbread man! As the travelator began to slope I squeaked ‘I don’t LIKE this!’ but managed to become stoic again and get to the bottom without tears or trauma!

We all stood (sat, in my case) outside for about ten minutes, with no sign of any fire engines to add to the excitement. Once we were let back in, the Gingerbread Man appeared again out of nowhere and wheeled me expertly to the lift. I asked him if he worked in the bakery – apparently not! Shame…

I have no clear idea how this injury and the recovery time is going to pan out yet, only that my vain hope I might be back at work the next day was a ridiculous notion. I’m veering wildly between the depths of despair and resigned acceptance. Sometimes back and forth between the two several times an hour.

Watch this space. I may need to blog myself sane over the next few days/weeks!

Could this be the laziest blog post I’ve ever done?

Tricky week. Can’t think properly let alone compose a coherent blog post. So I thought I’d let a silly facebook app do the work for me – something called ‘What Would I Say’ which generates statuses based on a jumble of things you have posted to facebook in the past, so that it sounds like you. I had a bit of a play with it last night and here are my favourite things the ‘HelenBot’ came up with (the last one is my personal favourite!):

– Just after a crazy fortnight and I am a huge mug of tea

– is now working in my own cake tin and am in deep denial

– Thank you Jackie, but it’s a sudden burst of mugs of tea

– I really DID

– They are ridiculously cute. Hurrah for tomorrow’s camping trip this

– Thanks but I’m going to sleep

– I really can’t understand why they lick your mobile number

– has found the germs and packing plenty of my research study and the drugs helped keep the plus chips. Mississippi mud pie, You’ve got nothing, Mummy

– Could we have got any CLEAN trousers? I do

– Bother. Sudafed and paracetamol don’t remember it

– Jury is nearly at an end, or I will be messaging you a cold.

– Feeling really low about my holidays are STARVING when we arrived and the sheep themselves are quite a sensible chap…

– Lists, lists, lists, lists, lists, and chocolate