Thursday, 22 September 2011

Single parents - eeeeeesh

On Monday my husband went away on a work trip; he goes away quite often really, and every time it's hard. Hard because I miss him, hard because the boys miss him, hard because normally I stay in bed when he gets up in the mornings, hard because we usually tag team the bath/bed routine and take a child each to get it done.

Before I had children I used to look down on single parents - not consciously - just thought they weren't as good at it as married couples; snobby? Yep. Judgemental? Very. Wrong? Hell to the yes. 

Being a parent is haaaaaaaaaaard work - there are times of unadulterated joy - such huge, heartwarming, aching joy - incredible joy - and the love - the love that you feel for them, that they feel for you - it's immense. It's so massive. But man it's hard. It's exhausting, stressful, emotional - hard. There are times when they challenge you physically - just wearing you down by not staying still, you're constantly tense and alert watching, waiting, chasing, catching. You're on the go because they're on the go ALL. THE. TIME. 

There are times when you're mentally worn out - they talk and ask and demand and challenge - and you have to answer in a way they'll understand, explain, chat, encourage, keep going and going until you're all "but why'd" out and can't think in straight lines any more. You have do manage it all without swearing, without using phrases they can't understand but without dumbing down too much. You have to think constantly about all the contradictory advice and how to balance it with what you and your children actually do.

There are times when none of you are entirely well. Where you're full of cold, your children are full of cold, they just want their Mummy, they cling and whinge and strop and tantrum and cling and whinge some more - your whole body aches, your head is thumping, you're exhausted - and they're feeling the same. They want their Mummy. You want your Mummy. Everyone is running on fumes and you just want to lose your temper and go to bed after stamping your feet like they do. 

I have my husband. It's rare that we feel like that at exactly the same time - so when I feel like that he takes over; when he feels like that I take over. When I'm absolutely out of 'cope' he copes for me. He's amazing for that - I'm lucky. 

I've been looking after the boys alone for less than a week - and man oh man am I ready for my husband to come home. I'm ready to let him play with them so I can have a pee alone. I'm ready to stay in bed whilst someone else does nappy changes and bed time. I'm ready to have someone cook me dinner - or being able to do it without the kids shouting and pulling at me! 

Single parents - you're amazing. Single parents do it all without someone there to help, to step up when it all gets too hard, without that back up and support. Far from looking down on single parents, I now look up to them - right up up up, to them standing on a pillar, spot lit like the heroes they all really are - you are amazing. I could NOT do this parenting thing alone. You're super. Well done. Really well done. 

National Meningitis Awareness Week

This week is National Meningitis Week. Don't yawn and look away - or think this could never be part of your life; it could.

Pretty much all children are immunised, at some point, against meningitis. I was - just before my GCSEs I was immunised, along with all my class mates, against Meningitis C. Which was great - but it didn't stop me getting meningitis B; Meningitis B is not one which can be, as yet, immunised against. It's very serious. I was very, very ill - I came close to death; I didn't, however, have the rash that people expect to see in meningitis; I didn't have septicaemia - which is what causes the rash - but I did have the other symptoms.

I had been sitting GCSEs that day. I had what I thought was a migrane - I'd been getting them a lot, I wasn't sleeping enough, I was living on coffee and mints and revising late into the night. I was very worried about my exams and all this meant my head was often pounding. 
I sat in an exam, an English exam, which I'd expected to ace, and thought "This must be how it feels to be dyslexic" - the words were swimming in front of my eyes, the letters all lit in neon, all different colours - I couldn't see any of it clearly; I cried and wrote "help me" and lay my head on my desk. The teacher asked if I was ok - but said I couldn't leave and to just try my best. He thought I was just being dramatic - which, knowing me at that age, was fair enough! 

After the exam I walked home. My friends walked half of the way with me, worried about me because I looked so unwell. It took me three times longer than usual to walk home - a walk I did every day - and I had to sit at the roadside to rest a number of times. By the time I got home I felt weak and disoriented. I told my Mum I had a headache and went to bed. She was off work with some kind of illness - I can't remember what, that summer is very muddled in my head. I know she was ill though and was worried about her - so I went to bed and tried to sleep. Again this is muddled - I may be getting two or three days muddled in my telling of the story. That night I was sick, a lot. I couldn't keep anything down, not even the water my step dad was trying to give me. He carried me to the bathroom to help me be sick and wash my face, and carried me back to bed. 

The next morning I had another exam - my Mum said I had to try, though I was so ill; she bought me glucose tablets and co-codamol and dropped me off. They sat me by the door in the exam room in case I had to leave to be sick. The boy behind me kept spitting chewed up paper into my hair. The words were neon and swimming again. I needed to be sick. I crossed the hall to the door directly opposite where the school nurse was waiting for me - she held my hair as I was sick and tried to get me off the floor. I couldn't stand up. Mum came, and took me home.

I don't know whether the doctor was coming to see her, because she'd been so ill, or if she called him for me - I was delirious, lying in my bed with the curtains closed and a pillow over my eyes - the light burned right through my brain like fire. Every sound was amplified. I couldn't move, I was sick without sitting up into a bucket beside my bed. The doctor came in and turned on the light; I screamed, screamed and screamed. He sat me up. He asked me to lift my head - which was slumped to my chest. I couldn't. He looked pale. He ran out of my room, down the stairs, to get a bag from his car. He was making a call on his mobile as he ran. I think he might have injected me with something - I don't really remember, that might have been in the ambulance, or in the hospital. They took me with the blue lights flashing but no sirens, I couldn't bear the noise. I cried and told them my Mum was ill - they said "we're more worried about you right now" and I cried, wanting to look after Mum. 

My brother teased me afterwards - in the hospital they asked what hurt - "Me 'ead" I groaned, begging them to turn off the lights. 

I don't know how much of the time in hospital I was conscious for. I don't remember much. I remember my Grandmother talking about the birds outside. I remember my Mum quietly crying. I remember my friend from school bringing in a box of cards and letters everyone had written and being surprised how many people cared I was ill. I remember sending the flowers I'd been given out of the room because the smell made me so sick. I don't really know how long I was there. I almost died. I remember the lumbar puncture. That was a BIG needle. 

I was 16 - I'm 28 now. The nerve damage to the right side of my face isn't as obvious now. My eyesight wasn't perfect before, but is far worse now, particularly my right eye. My hearing in the right side is poor. My short term memory was damaged considerably - so I make a lot of notes. I can remember vividly days in primary school and things that happened when I was young. I only have vague memories of most of my time in secondary school. I remember conversations I had with my teacher in year 5 - but can't remember the names of most of the people I went to university with. I remember what my notes for an exam in upper 6th looked like - could recreate them exactly - but can't remember the route I walked home every day for 4 years. I've learned to work around this memory oddity but it is a pain. 

I didn't die though. Nor did I get septicaemia and lose my fingers, toes, limbs; I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm lucky because it was spotted, treated and caught soon enough to stop me dying. 

I didn't have the rash - I didn't have that one symptom everyone thinks means meningitis. I had the others though - so learn them, educate yourself; you need to know them all to be safe - and you need to sign this petition.

Meningitis Research Foundation calls for:
    • Government to pursue the widest and earliest possible implementation of effective vaccines against all strains of meningitis and septicaemia across the UK. There may soon be an opportunity to prevent MenB (meningococcal group b disease) the leading cause of life-threatening meningitis and septicaemia in UK children
    • Government to change its criteria for assessing the value of vaccination for meningitis and septicaemia to include full medical costs, plus social and educational costs of the disease.
    With government support the illness that so nearly killed me could be prevented. Think how many lives could be saved if that happens. And you can help it to happen. Just sign. 


    Sunday, 18 September 2011

    Save the Children

    When I had my first son his heart rate, which was being monitored as I gave birth, plummeted; the midwife acted quickly, pushed her hand inside me and pulled him out, saving his life. 
    When I was pregnant with my second son I lost the ability to walk thanks to problems with my hips. My health professional team, free on the NHS, performed a c-section, meaning I can walk again and didn't cause myself permanent, irreparable damage. 
    My second son was given life saving drugs BEFORE the birth to ensure that, being premature, he would be well enough to survive.

    This was all done for free. The lives of both my sons were never really at risk because of the incredible health care here. My body wasn't damaged too badly because I live in the UK and had access to care.

    For a huge number of people, this isn't the case - they don't have this access. We can help them to get it. What they need is health workers - those people we see and take for granted every day - those people who save lives, provide care, help your children to live. Health Workers. There is a severe drought in East Africa currently - this is killing thousands of people, right now. Right now, thanks to illnesses that we, here, never worry about thanks to the free health services, illnesses that can be cured or prevented, that our children will not die of - everyone effected is someone's child, someone's mother, someone's father, someone's loved one. You can help to save them.

    Doctors, nurses and midwives are vital to help children survive. Without them, no vaccine can be administered, no life-saving drugs prescribed and no woman can be given expert care during childbirth.  But the massive shortfall of health workers in some of the poorest countries is hitting the most vulnerable children and families the hardest.
    Half of the 8 million children who die each year are in Africa, yet Africa has only 3% of the world’s doctors, nurses and midwives.
    No Child is Born to Die!
    Children are dying from causes we know how to prevent or treat!
    That’s why lots more doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers are needed in the poorest countries. We can stop millions of children dying.
    Save the Children’s No Child Born to Die campaign has helped secure a massive increase in funding for life-saving vaccines. Now we must take the next step to ensure children don’t die simply because they are too poor to see a doctor or nurse.

    You don't need to give them money - you don't need to give anything more than a few minutes of your time and your voice. Give that, and many, many thousands of lives can be saved, a massive amount of care can be provided, and millions of lives can be changed for the better. You can do that. YOU can do that. 

    Save The Children is running the No Child Born to Die project  - get involved today and you can be part of the voice they need.

    On Tuesday, a fellow blogger and friend Chris Mosler (@ChristineMosler) will attend the UN General Assembly in New York. She is going there with Liz Scarff on behalf of Save the Children to pressure David Cameron to play his full part in solving the health worker crisis.  There is a target of 60,000 signatures on the petition by Tuesday. At the moment that petition sits at 41,673 can we change that? Sure we can!

    Let's pull together, people power and make Chris proud.  Lets do our damnedest to make sure she goes on Tuesday armed with 60,000 signatures. 

    1. So first off - Let's all sign the petition, 30 seconds work and a step closer.
    2. Then the challenge set by @HelloItsGemma and @Michelletwinmum is that we want (need) to see 100 posts of 100 words linked up here by Tuesday. If 100 bloggers each write a post about this and encourage more signatures that could make a massive dent in the 20,000 signature shortfall that we sit with right now!

      Write your 100 words about a great health professional you have encountered in your life. Add a link to the petition and either link or add in some information from Save the Children about the #Healthworkers campaign
    3. Link to a number of other bloggers/ vloggers and ask them to do the same.
    4. Tweet about this, facebook mention it, remark on google plus, talk to your Mum on the phone, whatever you can do to spread this to just a few more people, please do it.
    So here is my list of people I want to pass this baton on to -


    The A-Z of me Meme

    I'm pretty sure I've been tagged for this three times, but I can only find two of them and those are here with @averagemummy and here with @MotherScuffer (sorry to the 3rd person, I'm not deliberately rude, just thick!) and it's a great Meme, started by the wonderous @laurenhousewife here that's been amusing me hugely on the blogosphere. 

    Since I've been tagged repeatedly I thought I'd take advantage of hubby being in the bath to get it done!

    ANORAK…Do you have a sad side
    I bought a box set of every Star Trek film - on VHS dude - in a charity shop. This year. This isn't some kind of old, shameful secret from my past, it's pretty new. I watch them in bed. I'm THAT cool.

    BODY…What physical attribute would you most like to change?  
    My back and hips - they aren't like yours. I wish they were. Unless you're my Dad, in which case they are like yours, only worsererer because of the babies, and they hurt. I hope my babies don't inherit the same problems. Though if they do they won't ever be pregnant so it won't be so bad!

    CELEBRITY…Which one would you most like to date and why? 
    Mister Bloom - or rather the actor Ben Faulks
     because, well, look at him. There has been a lot of media coverage about Mummies going mad for him. GET OFF. Mine.

    DEBUT …Tell us about your first ever blog post. What made you start blogging? 
    Well, I can't show you it because I've been blogging since Live Journal was cool (Dude, THAT long) and my first blog was foreeeeeeeever ago and was mostly teen angst poetry. And lots of posts about how my life was SO UNFAIR.

    ERROR …What’s been your biggest regret?  
    Not learning to play an instrument in my youth.

    FUNNY – who’s making you laugh? My toddler, or my husband - they are both hilarious.

    GRAND…If we gave you one right now what would you spend it on?  
    Something incredible and utterly indulgent for my husband's 30th next month.

    HOLIDAY… What’s your favourite destination?   

    IRRITATE… What’s your most annoying habit?  
    Always being right. I'm not always right - I'll just act like I am in a very offensive manner until people give up trying to disagree with me. Because I'm an arse.

    JOKER…Whats your favourite joke {the one that makes you laugh everytime you hear it}? It WAS going to be this one;
    What's brown and sticky?
    Then my friend came to visit and told me THIS one, which is WAY funnier;
    How many oranges can you fit inside a grape?

    HILARIOUS. Falling over funny.

    KENNEL… Do you have any pets?  I have the world's largest hamster, Pumpkin, and a husband.

    LOVE…Are you single, married, engaged, living with a long term partner?  I'm married.

    MEAL… Whats your ultimate starter, main and dessertStarter is dim sum, Main is lasagne and Dessert would be my Mama's chocolate orange trifle.

    NOW…If you could be anywhere right now where would you be and who with? 
    In a house we owned, with my family visiting.

    OFF DUTY…What do you do in your spare time?  
    In my who what?

    PROUD MOMENTS …What are you most proud of?  
    My son learning new things and speaking so well, and being polite (when he is)

    QUEASY …What turns your stomach? Really short, chewed fingernails.
    RELAX…How do you relax?  
    I get into my Nook with a book. 

    SONG…Whats your favourite song of all time?  
    This one right here  - Amel Larioux singing "Make me Whole" - it was our wedding song.
    TIME …If you could go back in time and relive it again, when would you choose?  
    The last few weeks before my Grandmothers died, so I could call them a few more times. I miss them.

    UNKNOWN…Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows?  
    I have very few of these left after a post I did recently, which you can see here, but I also suck my big toe. Only when I've just got out the bath though, and only when nobody's looking. 

    VOCAL…. Who is your favourite artist?  
    Skin from Skunk Anansie. 

    WORK….. What is your dream job, and are you doing it now?  
    PR or being a novelist. For that to work I'd have to write a novel. Preferably more than one.

    XRAY…Any broken bones? 
    My uncle broke my arm when I was very little by rocking over it on a rocking chair. It was my fault, he had just told me to stop jumping on and off him and was trying to catch me to stop me smacking my face as I fell over trying to jump on him. I still like to tell him he broke my arm when I see him. (Uncle Nick, if you're reading this - YOU BROKE MY ARM DUDE, BROKE IT!) He stopped me crying with smarties. Still works. 

    YIKES…What’s been your most embarrassing moment?  
    Hearing that toddler had screamed "FUCKING BUS, FUCKING CARS" at my lovely Mother in Law's house; shame on me.
    ZOO…. If you were an animal, which one would you be? 
    I would be a hamster - Pumpkin seems to have the dream life. Or a baboon - for the ass. 

    This was fun - I enjoyed this, thank you! 

    Now to tag some folk;

    I taaaaaaaaaag...


    I'd have tagged more people but they've all done it already!