starting again, again

It is incredibly difficult to restart a blog after almost 3 years absence.  I feel almost compelled to write a post about what has happened in those three years, how I recovered from agoraphobia, how I got a job (and lost it again) and how my old back problems have flared up with a vengeance.  It’s this which has prompted me to start writing again.

In many ways, my life is very similar to how it was when I was agoraphobic.  I don’t go out much by myself – not because of fear, but because my mobility is poor and the pain starts to become problematic.  Mr D is still my rock, and without him I think I’d be utterly stuck.

My reason for writing again is purely cathartic.  I am in pain, am struggling and have had enough.  Last time my back was very poorly, it helped me to keep a diary of what was going on, partly so that in my meds addled brain I could keep a note of what was happening.    I understand that people don’t want to read blogs which are all moany and pathetic, but it’s what I need right now.  I doubt anyone still has my RSS feed anyway.

My back problem is this:  I have arthritis in my spine, and three ruptured discs.  When my GP told me the results of my MRI scan, she actually apologised for not sending me for an MRI sooner.  She’d thought that my problems were merely a flare up of the old issue.  I’ve been referred to neurosurgery – this was an obstacle course in itself, as I had to be first referred to the musculoskeletal clinic for them to refer me.  In the end they didn’t even need to see me.

My appointment with the consultant neurosurgeon is on 14th May, and frankly I am counting the days.  The pain is constant, and if I try to ignore it, I get this sickly burning sensation in my spine.  I am struggling with most daily tasks – Mr D helps me put my knickers and socks on in the morning, and I need his help getting in and out of the bath.  I hate this.  I hate having to ask for help constantly and feel guilty that my husband works five long days a week – sometimes six – and when he comes home he is faced with a messy house and chores as long as your arm.  While he’s been out, I have mostly done bugger all, and consider myself lucky if I’ve managed to put a load of washing through.

So, I am going to try blogging.  Hopefully I’ll keep it up this time, and maybe it won’t be a constant moan.

Off We Go Again…

Trackback flooding (despite being stopped at a sytem level) is causing my control panel not to load, so I can’t post. The plugin I found works great – until it thinks *I’m* a spammer, and anyone who’s ever left a comment, which is why you get the 500 errors. It’s worth pointing out that until I figure this out, I’ve had to completely delete the trackback and comments scripts – so don’t try making comments.
Everything is buggered at the moment. I have a cold, which is just leaving me feeling tired and headachy. And to top it all, the worst possible borkage – my coffee machine’s not working. *cue dramatic music* Those who know me well know that I am a slut for a good cup of coffee. When my machine broke down 18 months ago, I was a wreck. I don’t think it’s to do with the caffeine, but more to do with the routine and orderliness. Plus I’m very fussy and like my coffee just so. Suggestions that I dust off the cafetiere have been met with gurns and obstinance – it just isn’t the same.
I posted on about it, and it seems to be the steam thermostat. I phoned the manufacturer and asked them if they will sell me just a thermostat (which looks incredibly easy to replace when I’ve looked inside) because sending it to them for repair will be prohibatively expensive. Luckily, they seem happy to send electronic parts to people, and it’s only going to cost £11.99.
The anxiety and depression have been worse, maybe because Everything Is Going Wrong, but I’m managing to deal with things in spite of this. When I telephoned the coffee people yesterday, it took forever. Redialling an 0870 number (national rate, for non UK readers) pressing different buttons and being told that they were busy… When I eventually got through, I managed okay because I knew exactly what I wanted. However, I suddenly remembered that I wanted an ‘o’ ring for inside the steam wand. The guy I spoke to was a bit confused as to exactly which ‘o’ ring I was talking about – I don’t think he expected people to go that far inside their machines! When I got off the phone, I realised I was shaking, which annoyed me. I felt stupid for letting my anxiety get to me over something so simple.
Aside from that, everything is the same. We’re still alive, and trying to blog…


I might kill something.
I’m doing this entry from my old installation of Movable Type which I forgot to delete. Aside from this, I can’t post, you lot can’t comment, and I hate the internet.
I shall fix it very very soon, I promise. In the meantime, if there’s something pressing, there’s a spanky link on the right *points* to email me.
In other important news, Mr D has been asked to work Stupid Shifts thanks to a client being as demanding as a two year old. This is only for two weeks, but it means that he’s here for most of the day, as he goes in to work at 3pm (til 11pm). On the bright side, it means that we can do Therapy during the week rather than at weekends, on the downside, it means it’s close to midnight when he gets home, so my already buggered body clock gets another flogging when he comes up to bed. I wish I could be one of these people who just goes to sleep and doesn’t worry, but I don’t – I can’t sleep until he gets home.
Ah well. I hope this posts…
edit yay!

Old Friend

There you are! Where the hell have you been? God, I’ve missed you so much.
You’re later than usual, and the last few months have been so dark and cold without you. Every day I yearned for your return, and the freshness and brightness that you always bring. When you came, you brought me flowers – daffodils and crocuses and I love them so much for bringing new colour into my life. And did I ever tell you how good you smell? When you’re around, I want to breathe so deeply, to capture you in my lungs until they burst.
Yesterday, outside in the garden, I felt your warmth caress me – everything just seemed happier with you around. I feel renewed – but that’s you – you have the power to make things fresh again, to make them new.
Thank you, Spring.


Firstly, I need to say a massive thank you to Giles, who is what is commonly known as an Utter Treasure for sorting out my archives. In the end, it involved fiddling with the database, which is even more scary than fiddling with a perl script. Big hugs and copious booze for him. *muah!*
The archives are a bit disjointed, because the backup didn’t include anything from this year, so I’m adding those manually as I go. Unfortunately, it means that some comments will be lost, so apologies for that.
names have been changed to protect the guilty
This week, Mr D has been on a CAD course in Telford (the “he’s already a cad” joke has been done, sorry). Apart from writing about how I’m managing for six days on my own and whining about it, I couldn’t think of much to blog about. Mr D and I been talking about how Telford is just a spit away from Bridgnorth, the place where I spent most of my childhood summer holidays. My Grandma’s best friend had an ancient cottage in the middle of a field on the outskirts of town, and most of my summers were spent sitting on a rug in the huge garden listening to the birds sing and reading whatever Famous Five book I had taken, while Grandma and Aunty Pat listened to Radio 4 in the cool of the sitting room. Grandma was a keen seamstress, and would invariably take some half made teddybears or dolls with her, and masked her tight lipped irritation with Aunty Pat, who wanted to help but didn’t always “get it quite right”. I remember Grandma once saying to me “I do wish she’d find her own sewing to do”. It wasn’t that Grandma didn’t appreciate the help, I think she was just such a stickler for getting things done in a particular way.
The last time I went there was about 16 years ago. Mr D and I took Grandma the two hundred miles to see Aunt Pat, and all her friends and relations (think Rabbit in Winnie-the-Pooh). It was a strange and bittersweet holiday. Everyone was getting old, and there was this sense of urgency to see them one last time. It was a bit of a pain, Mr D and I were young, and wanted to run off and do our own thing, but literally every day but one was taken up with visiting people. In hindsight, I’m glad we held our tongues and went along with it, and it’s taken me a long time to realise that. Aunt Pat died a couple of years later, and the cottage passed on to her nephew and his wife. The last we heard, Bill and Penny were living in a caravan in the garden and restoring the cottage, with input from English Heritage.
When Mr D said he might look into Bridgnorth and take some photos of the town, so I could see if it had changed much, the last thing I expected was the phone call I got on Tuesday evening.
“guess where I am”
Yes – he’d found the cottage, and walked down the drive with a view to knocking on the door and saying hello. He’d seen Bill, asked if it was him, then said, “my wife asked me to drop in and say hello”
Bill paused for a moment, and exclaimed, “dominocat!”
Cue goosebumps moment number 1. Mr D had only been to Aunt Pat’s once, and we only stayed a week. Yet Bill knew who he was straight away. Bill and Penny’s hospitality was as warm as always. They caught up on gossip from both sides, including the fact that their younger daughter Anna hand just had a baby – which leads nicely to goosebumps moment number 2.
The last time Grandma visited Bridgnorth when she was still sewing, she left behind some dolls that she’d made. I think the idea was to raffle them in aid of “Save the Children” a charity for which Aunty Pat was a keen fundraiser. Bill said that the last of the dolls was given to Anna for her baby just two weeks ago, prompting them to get all nostalgic and wonder how I was doing.
That, internet, is what’s known as fate.
Bill and Penny have said that we can go and stay. I think we might have to take them up on that…

The Whisker Project

Cat Whiskers – Urgently Needed!
Yes, you too can help save the insatiable needs of another crazy cat lady. Corie is collecting cat whiskers from her blog’s readers. Not that they all grow them, but maybe…
Until now, I thought I was the only one that collected cat whiskers. Yay! I’m not mad!
*thinks about this for a moment*


Last night, something of note happened. The nice lady doing the weather on TV said the F word. Before we all write in to the BBC, that F word was ‘frost‘. (I’m saying it quietly, it might go away). I realised suddenly that it was most definitely autumn, and that my vain attempts to hang on to the summer were ebbing away. I’m sitting here wearing three hundred layers of clothes, and there’s no leaves on the trees, so maybe I’m mildly deluded.
In September, I remember thinking, “I must cut the lawn one more time this year”. In October, that thought was repeated several times, and suddenly, it’s November and Far Too Late. I now know without any doubt that I will have the messiest garden in the street for the next five months.
To be honest, the last few months have been very much like that. In August, I finally relented and realised that I needed some kind of medication to help me out. My doctor looked at the long list of SSRI’s that I’d tried (and failed with) and said, “why haven’t we tried Prozac?” So, I tried Prozac. For two months, I waited to see if anything would happen with my anxiety and depression, while my weight steadily crept up and up.
Body image has always been a big issue with me. Even when I was a sensible (and now enviable) size 12 (UK) I had ideas that I could do with loosing a bit around my backside, or my tummy needed toning, or something. The very first time I took an SSRI I gained weight. However, my depressive episodes were fairly sporadic in those days, so whatever I gained, I usually lost again. When All This Shit™ started around four and a half years ago, I started taking SSRI’s more regularly, and I’d guess that I’ve been on one or another for about 85% of that time. I started Effexor because I’d asked my doctor to prescribe “the thing that’s least likely to make me gain weight” – Effexor was it. So, when I gained around 8 or 10 pounds with Prozac, I went back to my doctor and said, “I’d prefer not to take anything, and deal with the panic attacks myself, rather than gain any more weight”. I think at that point, she realised that any SSRI she prescribed was likely to increase my weight. I wonder how true this generalisation is, but I don’t fancy experimenting to find out, thank you.
What she suggested was different. She weighed me, checked my BMI, and suggesed something new. That new thing was Sibutramine. When it was first released, the drug companies marketed it as an anti-depressant. Reports came back that it worked better as an appetite suppressant, so it was re-marketed as an obesity treatment. Dr H reasoned that because my weight was such an issue for me (not to mention the strain on the arthritis in my hip and lower back) and because I met the strict prescribing criteria, she saw no reason why I shouldn’t try it.
When I get over the fact that I’m on an obesity drug, and that on paper I’m “clinically obese”, I’m really happy with this stuff. I’ve been on it for six weeks now, and I’ve lost almost a stone, and my mood is so much better. As a result, I feel more inclined to do things, rather than just stay on the sofa being miserable all day. I’m still having panic attacks, but somehow I’m dealing with them better. Before, I’d spend the entire day moping that I couldn’t cope, that maybe I’d failed because of an attack. Now I tend to think, “bloody stupid shit” and get annoyed with it. The subtle difference is that I now have the mental fortitude to fight it.
M, my counsellor, retires at the end of the year, and for a while after she told me, I felt completely lost. She has been a rock to me, an incredibly positive factor in my recovery (although she seems to think that I’ve done all the work). I sincerely hope that everyone dealing with deamons like mine gets a counsellor like M. I’ll really miss her.
The other Big Thing is fiducia. Last month, I aquired a domain and got new hosting for the child abuse survivors website that I wanted to do. It’s still relatively basic, and is a ‘work in progress’, but I have huge plans, and have already received really positive feedback from friends, M, Dr H, and others. If anyone reading this wants to contribute any suggestions, please