That Dark Lonely Place…..

That’s where I have been recently…

It is a very lonely place when you are burdened with a chronic pain condition. For the last six years I have suffered mine. Anger, despair, isolation, desperation….. but also acceptance. During the latter half of 2013 until August 2014 I had a period of normal pain. Normal pain is there every day, every morning and every night but it is manageable. I can just about function, be a mum, be a friend, be employed and enjoy my passion for all things equestrian. Life is ok, I feel blessed for my two healthy children, supportive friends, my handsome four legged boy. I can actually enjoy life.

Then the flare comes… August this year, out of the blue, no warning. Just bam! Here I am!! A big flare and the aint nothing you can do about it Im going to wreck your life for as long as I please! And so it did.

Until four days ago, as quickly as it arrived, it left. Sunday afternoon.. nothing special happening… no change in my day, what I’ve eaten, what I’ve drank….  nothing different to the last two and a half months…. its just left. Oddly I was at my breaking point the evening before. The lowest of my lows, many tears and desperately lonely.

So, four days on and I am very much hoping my body has recovered, that the inflammation has calmed. IC is a silent predator, I still have it, its still lurking in there. I can feel it every day. I still use six catheters a day…. should I dare to hope? Should I make plans? It could come back at any minute. This is my plan…. enjoy everyday. x

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Its Been A While….But I’m Back!

I haven’t written for quite some time but as 2013 comes to a close I cant help but look back at this year with some relief that is nearly over.

A year ago, on the 28th of December I underwent a procedure that was to relieve me of the daily pain I’d suffered for four years. In fact what was supposed to be a new pain free chapter in my life turned out to be quite the opposite and for the first six months of 2013 life stood still.

Life became almost unrecognisable, culminating in daily doses of Tramadol. I had become nearly two stone over weight and was struggling with depression. I had no money left from my savings and getting very little help from the government. I was broken. I looked in the mirror and did not know who that person was. Where did that happy confident girl go……

Well folks, she back!!! 

I may not be free of IC, I may not be slim although I have lost 22lbs so Im getting there, but my mind is back! My clear thinking is back, my control is back, my confidence is back!!! I AM BACK!  I find it hard to put into words how I feel. If I talked about all the shitty things that have happened over the last four years it would make for depressing reading, so Im not going to. In fact all of that is gone, let go, forgotten, forgiven.

Now is the time to grab life by the whatsits and enjoy! These last horrendous few years have taught me something very important. Maybe if I hadn’t been in that hell I would never have learned to appreciate the important things in life. Many of us a bit blinkered and go through life without my care or thought, well I was a bit like that. I was kind and generous to others, I was a good friend to many, I provided for my family as a single parent.. but… I didn’t understand what appreciating life was really all about! I’d never experienced long term chronic pain, never endured financial ruin. In fact I’d never really worried about money at all. But somehow I was never really happy deep down. Now I know why!

Life teaches us many great lessons, its up to us to listen, learn and take action!

I took action, I took responsibility. I came off tramadol, I lost weight and then I made the decision to go self employed. Every time I took one of those decisions I grew. I grew in confidence and I grew an understanding of what had been wrong in my life and that I had to get to rock bottom before I could learn and ultimately change my life for the better. 

So here we are nearing the end of 2013 and I thank god we are! I still have IC, I still have no money and I still have pain everyday. But!!? I feel happy, I feel alive and I feel ready to go on into the new year, 2014… here I come!

My name is Morag and I’m back x

Is This A Turning Point?

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Where to start…… Ok, the last four years have been s**t. Really really! Illness, financial ruin, relationship breakdown, moving house…… Being a single parent with a chronic pain condition has been a tough road to travel.

One constant in my life for two and a half years has been my horse, Finlay. There is not a day goes by when I don’t feel privileged to have him in my life. The time I spend with him Im not a mum, single parent with a chronic pain condition. Im just me! The girl who started riding aged 6 and never stopped. Of course as a mum I feel blessed everyday that I have two healthy happy boys but my horse time is me time!

In July this year I appeared to be having less pain on a daily basis, it was still there but not as severe. Around this time I started wearing a magnetic bracelet. I had been taking tramadol everyday so maybe that was the reason but I really wanted to get off this drug. I had started to lose weight, being 20 lbs overweight, this was a good thing. When the weight loss started I began to feel better about myself, I had control of something for the first time in years. This feeling of achievement spurred me on to come off the tramadol, which I did.

One other reason to come of the drug was I would begin a 6 week course of treatment for my IC, one day a week at hospital. So I wanted to be drug free to access whether this treatment would make any difference. The more decisions I made the more confident I became. I took on a small cleaning job a couple hours a week, Id met new friends and Finlay’s yard, and even contacted someone who has IC and lives locally to me! It was great to chat to someone who completely understood what I have been going through for five years.

So now a couple of months on, I’ve lost 14lbs, my pain is at a lower level and my self esteem is much improved. I don’t feel as insecure and I’m actually quite liking myself again.

Last week I was approached to work part time for a local lady who has three dressage horses. At first I was really unsure. Could I do the job? Could I manage pain levels? Could I use my catheters at work? Could I fit the hours around my youngest son and my own horse commitments? After much deliberation and conversations with friends (ok I know its not life or death, just a job) I decided to give it a go! In fact I am going self employed, freelance! Its a bit scary but… feel the fear and do it anyway!

So many good things have happened in the last two months. Why now? Is it because I took control of one thing in my life (my weight) Is it that when you project positivity that’s what you attract? Is it just the cycle of life, like life’s patterns? They say life changes every seven years and just over 7 years ago I met my ex. Hmmm that makes a lot of sense! So 7 years on and I’m finally turning a corner on to a new path. Who knows where it will take me. x

Ps, last week got my hair done for the first time in 12 months AND went out for a drink with friends. Well, they’d been trying to get me to the pub for three years 🙂 x

IC : Full Circle!

Next week I will start attending hospital once a week for treatment in the hope that this time around it will make a difference. This treatment as been tried before but as we have exhausted all other options apart from drastic measures like bladder reconstruction, its worth another try.

It does feel like Ive come full full circle right back to the beginning but the difference this time is that by using the catheters the bladder will actually be empty. I believe that all treatments failed previously because this important fact was missed. The bladder was not voiding sufficiently!

We all retain a certain amount for fluid, that’s very normal. But I was retaining up to 350mls! That’s very far from normal! So with the combination of drug therapy instilled into the bladder plus the bladder being properly empty maybe there is a chance that the pain will be less. Maybe!

The drug therapy is call Cystistat, I will have weekly instillations of this for 6 weeks in the hope that it will help to repair the damage to the lining of the bladder.

With IC you can only hope! x

‘Could It be Magic…?’

So the song goes…. For the older reader that would be Barry Manilo or more recently ( I say recently that would be 1993) Take That.

That song comes to mind for a few reasons tonight.

As some of you know I have a chronic pain condition called IC and over that last four years it was become increasingly worse. After a conversation with a friend who lives in the US I decided to try magnet therapy.

I have no idea if this will work but Ive been wearing my silver horseshoe (of course) magnet bracelet for a week and I definitely have less pain!! Of course this is not a clinical test there could be other reasons. But if this continues I will be delighted!!

Another little piece of magic last week, an old friend came back into my life. This person has been part of my life on and off since high school and having both been through some very difficult years with other people we finally put out cards on the table and decided to take a chance. I was asked ‘are we making the same mistake’ I answered no, because after 15 years apart we are different people. Our, at times, traumatic experiences at the hands of others, have made us better people.  Be brave I said, take a chance at happiness.

Of course nothing is ever simple and the miles separate us but a visit next week is much anticipated!

Could it be magic? Well I feel I have been blessed with a little magic!  I feel loved x

Graduation Days!

This little family of mine has had some major events recently. Two graduations at opposite ends of the education system.

My youngest son who is five graduated from nursery a week ago on Friday! Complete with mortar board and certificate they had a great time! With lots of party games, balloons and general mayhem! It was a wonderful to see my little guy growing up and now ready for his first year of primary starting in August.

The second graduation was on Wednesday the 4th of July in Aberdeen. This one was a whole lot more serious, less games and balloons more pomp and ceremony! My eldest son Ben who is 22 years old this month graduated with a degree in Language & Linguistics. Four years of hard work and study finally realised! Not only did he achieve his degree but he worked his way through University to support himself financially! To say Im proud of him is an understatement!

We travelled up to Aberdeen on the Wednesday, its around 200 hundred miles or so, and stayed in a very lovely hotel. It was more than I could afford but I wanted this trip to be special for Ben, something he would remember. We had a good drive up and arrived at the Ardoe Country House Hotel mid afternoon. Set in its own country estate with spa, swimming pool and tennis courts, I could’ve stayed for a week!

I haven’t travelled much since I was diagnosed with IC so I was a little apprehensive but I managed to cope with its challenges throughout the trip. Staying in a hotel is a real novelty for my youngest son who proceeded to charm and amuse hotel staff and guests alike! Of course going to sleep even when exhausted was a tall order, he didn’t give in to the tiredness until we were all in bed and lights off around 11pm.

The following morning we had to be at the University early to collect robes and have photographs taken. Having ones photos taken that early in the morning is not for the faint hearted! I fear I may look rather old and haggard (photos have not arrived yet) However seeing my first born standing there in his robes and mortar board made me burst with pride. With his little brother gazing up at him in complete awe just made my heart melt.

Photos done, we proceeded over to the great hall. My youngest had his ipod to keep him amused during the ceremony but we did have to be seated quite some time before it actually started. As the graduates filed in I could see Ben walking to his seat, tall and proud. After all the initial introductions the chancellor lead the prayer. Cue mini melt down from youngest! Just when it all went quiet he changed games to the running dinosaur which had a very catchy theme tune. Would he turn it down? Nope! When a very pompous grumpy man turned around making obviously disapproving gestures I felt mortified. For fear of a total tantrum I did my best to reason with him, to no avail.

After 15 minutes of very bad behaviour he clamed down ( little shit!) and managed to just about see through the rest of the ceremony without further upset.

Near the end of the degree presentations it was time for Ben to receive his, until this point I had kept myself together pretty well but as soon as he made his way to the stage I felt the tears come. Tears of joy, pride and love for my son who was the first in our extended family to attend University. I quickly picked up my phone to distract myself and recorded this amazing moment in mine and my sons life.

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As we (the families) were leaving the great hall, after the graduates, a very kind couple came over and said to my youngest what a good boy he was sitting through the ceremony. I said how I felt others were disgusted that Id brought my sons little brother and that he had disrupted their enjoyment. They said on the contrary and that he did really well! I felt so much better and started to relax a little.

Outside the sun was shining and we enjoyed the atmosphere, watching  everyone milling around, with some wearing amazing traditional dress of students families who were of African origin. So many different cultures, it truly was a great day!

Back at our hotel we packed and checked out, if only I could afford to stay another night. Youngest stated he wanted to stay for a 100 days!! The drive home was long, I was very tired but we arrived safely and negotiated Glasgow rush hour to get back to Ayrshire around 6pm.

Two days later I’m still on a high. The trip used up this years holiday money but it was worth it. Maybe we will have a holiday next year. x

Its Good To Talk

Its good to talk, so said a very old tv advert for a telecoms company. I agree, it is good to talk, especially during times of turmoil. So why do some men find it impossible to talk, ask for help or allow anyone in?

Is it that we are all a product of our upbringing, have we learned patterns of behaviour from our parents? Or is it based on gender?

I raised one son on my own and now 20 years later find myself in the same position. My eldest son who is approaching his 22nd birthday communicates well, he and I have always had a good relationship. From an early age I encouraged him to talk, talk about anything and everything and I now do the same with my five year old.

I think its vitally important that young children learn to talk, especially boys.

We are all a product of our upbringing to a certain extent but we can also learn! We can learn from our past mistakes. Isnt that the point of making mistakes? To learn from them?? I guess no one can be forced, one must be ready to talk and accept help but watching someone go through that process is heart breaking.

I went through a very tough couple of years after separating from my ex. I thought the stress and heart break would never end. But it did and I learned a few things about myself. I admitted to myself that I hadn’t treated others as well as I could have in the past. Id been very selfish and took many things and people for granted. That experience along with the chronic pain condition I have made me more humble, more appreciating of what really is important in life.

As I watch my friend suffer the demise of his marriage in a foreign country far from friends and family all I can do is offer a shoulder to lean on. I can see his turmoil. I can see alcohol controlling his emotions. I can see through his attempts at humour to ward off any sympathy or words of affection. His family reach out to him yet he rejects all offers of help. I talk about gaining some control again, I plead with him to stop drinking but then I think, is this what he has to go through to learn the lesson? To learn from past mistakes? To learn to talk?  

Its easy to shut oneself off from all emotion in the aftermath of a difficult relationship. I’m still wary of letting myself feel anything for a member of the opposite sex but it does get easier with time. As for my friend, I really don’t know if he will trust ever again. 

I hope he finds the strength be open and honest and more importantly talk. Exorcise those demons G x