Cluedo, Yoda and unrefreshing refresher training!


After six months off work, I am finally phasing back in and this is why I have been quiet. Blogging has taken a back seat whilst pain and exhaustion come to the fore. Dubious as I was, I thought I would bounce back in, newly acquired assertiveness to hand, breeze through my shifts and all the work that entails then return home to become a model housewife: laundry sorted, dishes done, homework worked through with munchkin. The reality was far different. Within two hours, my back burns up with pain, my shoulders scream out for a massage, my head hurts, my eyes are rolling with exhaustion my fingers stop working and words are not forming properly.




To questions such as “how are you getting on?” I am reluctant to tell the truth. I don’t want to moan or cry or sound lazy. Instead, I offer drinks. A perfect get away from the office, I feel. I hadn’t banked on how painful it would be on my hands to carry more then two cups back to my office in one go: a once easy trip is now a mammoth task involving trekking through waiting rooms, dancing around doctors, avoiding patients and trying to cling on to cups which are threatening to drop at any moment.




This week I have been catching the bus in because I am still not able to drive and my poor little car stands neglected under a tree which taunts Bessie (the car), as it changes in accordance to the seasons – blossom, tree sap, autumn leaves have all fallen whilst my car has sat there. Occasionally Bessie has a wash. For the most part, she is home to greenfly, lady birds and Sandy and Scott, the travelling spiders currently residing behind the wing mirrors. (Fine, as long as that’s where they stay!)




The bus journey is in itself another task. The walk to the bus stop is all downhill. All good unless, like this morning, it is raining. Cue umbrella, head down and disorientation. I soon learnt that, when looking down, it is always handy to learn where trees are or pavements end. The bus, when it arrives, is full of school children announcing how gay everything is: “I got a new pencil case. It’s so gay.” “My mum is so gay.” “My maths teacher is so gay.” I was tempted to point out that they are on their way to an all boys or all girls school (the buildings are next to each other) and maybe the expression used should be rephrased. Once at my stop (the children all get off three stops before mine so five minutes peace is gratefully welcomed), I have a ten minute walk to my office where I instantly land in the morning meeting.




Today I had refresher training. I thought this would be a twenty minute session. It ended up being over two hours. I left feeling unrefreshed! The trainer was brilliant. Patient and funny and somehow, we managed to get Cluedo and Yoda in as a way of helping me remember things. (The brain works in weird and wonderful ways!) Training took me to the end of my shift. My partner picks me up – what a godsend. I instantly crashed on the sofa and slept for two hours.




I always try to see the silver lining in every cloud, but I am struggling to here. Last week I worked two shifts, this week three. None of them consecutive. Next week will be four. I face the consecutive days for the first time in months. I am wondering if I will cope and if I don’t, what happens then? The trials of M.E and fybromyalgia are presenting themselves in different guises. For now though, I am settled. Pyjamas on, laptop on, dinner being served. Tomorrow is another day.



Will the parents of Abi come to the pool side please.

ImageThis is my stepdaughter Abi (8). The picture speaks many words. Abi is confident, cheeky, dramatic and always singing. Always armed with her quick wit, she is a master (or madam!) of managing to get herself out of trouble by making others laugh. Those who meet her never forget her: she is our shining light, our star.

We have never been pushy parents – I see too many pushing children through auditions and working numerous rehearsals around and sometimes during school hours. I watch from a distance and see the toll it takes on their little ones. These parents I have known since school. They too used to audition for shows. One mum in particular desperately wanted fame (I think the writer Judy Blume classed this type of person as a bun head). She now wants the same for her daughter. Nor are we pushy in the sporty sense. We are not the lone parents standing up to watch our child win a swimming gala race, shouting “faster, faster” from behind the video camera, then giving a twenty minute lecture about technique and how this will evidently need work- even though their child won the race and even had time to tread water and check where his competitors were in relation to him!

Whatever Abi wants to try her hand at, within reason, we let her try. She will find her niche someday but needs the opportunity to try things out first. We have encouraged swimming though. When Abi was little we lived in Cornwall near a river. We figured swimming was essential for safety purposes so enrolled her in the local swimming club. Abi was four. We spent ages choosing swimming costumes (“not that one, it hasn’t got FiFi on!”), goggles and floats. We made it exciting with songs and games, then the day came.

It started much as it ended: Abi, despite being surrounded by peers she knew, screamed! I don’t mean shouting and crying which echoes around the sound-magnifying hall, I mean deep breath, full lung scream! We reassured her that she would be safe and went to the cafe in the hopes that she would calm once we were out of sight. We could still hear her from the cafe. We snuck a peek through the window to see her clinging on to the teacher, legs hitched high out of the water.

At the end of the lesson, the teacher asked why Abi would have such a fear of water. We couldn’t give an answer. We had never “dropped” her in water, she had never been out of her depth. She relished baths, enjoyed splashing around and loved water toys. We couldn’t understand it.

The next week was a little calmer, but Abi continued to cling to her teacher. And so it went on, sometimes screaming, sometimes not. Never jumping in and never letting go. Her peers moved up a class, Abi stayed put. On bad days, the tannoy would boom “Would the parents of Abi come to the poolside please” and we would have to fish her out. We gave up. We figured Abi would learn in her own time. Just like she did with potty training (on her terms), riding her bike (on her terms – she would not let us help!), tying her laces (on her terms) and getting dressed (you guessed it! On her terms!). We don’t always give in to Abi but we choose our battles wisely.

Fast forward to eight years old. Abi is in a school swimming gala. She struggles to swim a width whilst her peers are diving in the deep end. She watches them intently. She decides she wants to do what they are doing. Abi has finally set her terms. Now is the time!

We enrolled Abi in three 1-1 lessons so they could gauge which class she should be in. Over the summer, in three half hour slots, she mastered swimming a front crawl, swimming a width, jumping in the shallow end and swimming for short times out of her depth. She is now having group lessons. Her swimming peers are mainly younger than her by a year or two but she is driven by determination to “show them” at the next school gala and dive in with the boys. Today she was made an example of swimming a width front crawl. The others had to watch and copy. Today she jumped in the deep end for the first time.

Today she smiled.

Abi has decided she actually likes swimming now and is keen to learn everything there is to learn. Abi has decided she will not only “show them” next year but will win too. It is such a magical thing to watch your child grow in confidence. All it took was the opportunity to do it….

…… on her terms!