Friday, 14 July 2017

Osteoarthritis is no fun

I need happy toes:

When I look back over the years, I remember the seizing up of joints going back to my first marriage. We would sit for a couple of hours over dinner, or go and see a film and, at the end, everyone else would get up and I would begin to... and then have to stop while I gentle unfolded my hips and knees, especially those on my right side. This means I have been dealing with osteoarthritis since my early 30's. As I approach my 60th birthday next year, that's a long time to be dealing with joint pain.

There is no doubt that I have had good years and bad years, and I have to be particularly attentive to my neck and upper back, as there is particular damage to that part of my spine. 

But, the worst damage to deal with is unquestionably that in my foot. It makes walking and standing incredibly uncomfortable and, in the past few years, has become much worse. 

I have been having cortisone injections in the joint of my big toe for a while now, but today it has been decided that surgery is the better plan going forward. I didn't even know that surgery was an option, but they will fuse the 2 joints in my toe, which means the joint will no longer bend, putting an end to pain from that joint. The bones will be set with a slight bend, so that there is rocking motion to the joint to make walking easier.

Joint surgery, or arthrodesis to give it the correct name, 'restores stability, provides pain relief and improves alignment of bones in arthritic patients' - sounds like a good plan to me. 

As I can't have surgery within 6 months of a cortisone injection I have had to forgo the injection today and need to continue managing the pain with rest and painkillers, but if it means I have a permanent solution to a painful condition, it has to be worth it. I just hope it doesn't take too long for the appointment to see the specialist to come through.

After it all heals one of the benefits, other than the lack of pain, will be that I may finally be able to wear normal, pretty shoes again.

Now, that's something to look forward to.

Thursday, 13 July 2017


It's been a while since I've written anything on here, my life has been consumed by writing, promoting and generally all things book related, but there are times when there a little distractions and this has been one of those weeks.

On Saturday we were at a large family gathering of Peter's family, followed by Jessica's graduation ceremony on Monday. It was a wonderful day and so lovely to see all the hard work she has put in over the last 3 years pay off, (and I got a lovely spur of the moment visit from my brother while we were in London).

One  very proud Dad.

So, after the rushing around of the weekend a couple of quiet days at home, giving me chance to wander around the garden to see what's new.

I love spotting the flowers as they bloom. Today we have a new fuchsia flowering, 

the little rose tree has gorgeous blossoms 

and even the clematis is beginning to get there. 

We have an awful problem with snails which seem to adore the clematis, so it has been a real struggle to get it to this stage. As well as this, the first tomatoes are ripening, and the flowering cherry tree is dripping with birds gorging themselves.

So, for now, as they say, everything in the garden is rosy.

Today I had my annual asthma check, at which I was told I have good lung function (tell my body that when I am running for a train!) and tomorrow I have the dreaded cortisone injection. I hobble a lot by the end of each day and these injections in my toe are really very painful, but I endure them because they give me a couple of months normal walking before I start to hobble again. 

Not the best way to finish a week off work, but hey ho, it has to be done. Hopefully, it will be sunny and I can sit in the garden and read all day while I rest my foot.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Welcome Smokey

Friday night saw the arrival of the latest addition to the household:

Introducing SMOKEY

Smokey is 12 weeks old, and is already an experienced traveller - he travelled with Jessica on the  train from London. 

There is already an older, established cat in the house - 
Wiskers - a serious threat to a small kitten (or so we thought)

It seemed sensible to follow the research from books and Google and keep the kitten in a separate room, apart from Wiskers and gradually introduce the presence of the kitten.

So far, the kitten has been all over the house, Wiskers appears not to notice any new scent.
After a couple of days we took Wiskers into the room where the kitten is. The kitten was in his cage and immediately noticed Wiskers, but Wiskers simply turned around and left.
We brought the kitten into the room where Wiskers was - nothing
We put the kitten in eye-line of Wiskers -oooh, reaction! Her eyes widened. Not a muscle twitched, no hissing and spitting - just a modicum of interest, then she turned her back and went to sleep.

Later that same evening Wiskers was settled on my knee when we brought Smokey in and let him play on the floor in front of her. She stayed where she was but watched him. When she began to tense, I worried that she was ready to pounce so we picked Smokey up, but I am now not sure she wasn't just re-positioning to get an easy view.

We worried that the kitten may make Wiskers feel she wanted to move out. Last night we couldn't find her at bed-time. I couldn't find her this morning either, but it turns out she had been settled in the cushions from the settee we currently have in the garage. Well enough hidden that we worried she'd been outside all night in the cold, when in truth she had been totally cosy.

Today we brought the kitten into the lounge to see what reaction we would get. This time Smokey really wanted to get to Wiskers, but the feeling wasn't mutual.

It really can't be this easy and I am sure Wiskers is merely lulling us into a false sense of security - but so far it has been so much more peaceful than expected.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Through Time To London - the book finally arrives

It's always good to have an ambition. My ambition started over 20 years ago when I walked through W H Smith's bookstore and saw a new book written by Jacqueline Wilson on display. It was a children's book, and I was at this time an adult. What caught my eye was the name, it was my name too. I remember thinking how good it must be to have your name on a book in a bookshop. That was the day the seed was planted.

Then life got in the way. I continued to be an avid reader, to this day I have never read one of Jacqueline Wilson's book, yet she is responsible for me now having a paperback with my name on it, (well, more on that later).

Today I took delivery of the first copy of my children's novel. A time-travel adventure featuring my two fabulous dogs, Brandy & Brinkley. 

I wrote the first few chapters as far back as 2013, but only finished it earlier this year. Several weeks of proofreading, re-writing, taking feedback from beta-readers and a massive learning curve in self-publishing and finally, I am at this epic moment in my life. And it feels amazing. An ambition well and truly achieved.

I can now call myself an Author. 

As for the name? I have used Brindy as an online user name for several years, well, since I got Brandy& Brinkley, as it's a combination of the two names. So, when I decided I would write under a pen name it really was a no-brainer what to use for my first name. The surname took a little longer, but I wanted some way of incorporating my mum's maiden name. Mum taught me to read at an early age and instilled a love of books that has been with me my whole life. 

Hopefully, this will be the first of many, I have already started working on book 2.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

What more can we do to test the cat...?

Whiskas is 11 years old. She behaves like any normal cat.

So last year we introduced a hamster to the house.

The cat is curious and often sits and watches the hamster in its cage, although she doesn't stay around when he is in his hamster ball, as he rolls at her like a bowling ball attempting a strike. I have found her sitting on top of his cage a couple of times, but neither the cat or the hamster seem stressed by this, just curious.

We have made the garden a haven for small birds. This year we had a nesting pair of robins. Not the most sensible place for robins to be, considering the cat.

She is more curious than over the hamster, and may have frightened them away, although we did see one back in the garden yesterday.

And now we have a new test for the cat... fish. We have a new garden pond which is now home to 6 goldfish. Time will tell whether the dislike of water or the curiosity of the fish will win through.

We do love the cat, honestly... but it does seem we are acquiring anything we can to test her patience.

Trust me, we do not have plans to get a dog!

Friday, 22 April 2016

A Little Bit of Time travel

They say that time flies when you're having fun. Well actually, time also flies when you're not having such fun times, but only when it;s over and done and you can look back.

Scroll back to February 2014, (edges go blurry, and wobbly, as indicates travelling back in time), I am sitting in the conservatory tapping away at my laptop, dogs laying close by. Chapter 21 is complete.

Fast forward to September 2014, I have been struggling to be creative but have finally completed chapter 22.There is no longer a conservatory or dogs in the image.

Another jump forward to November 2014 and another chapter complete. 

Major changes have rocked my life and darker times are looming ahead.

The book remains untouched, my world falls apart...

Time travel forward to February 2016, almost 2 years on from my last truly creative spell, and suddenly the story is progressing. Living through the last 2 years has been difficult, but I'm settled again, content with my life and the muse appears to be back. I have begun writing before, only for it to come to an abrupt halt, so this time, I keep my own council. I am near the end, I struggle with a section then decide it works as well without it, so I leave it out. I want a good ending, it needs to work...

Suddenly, I am there. 25 chapters, done, finished, my first book complete.

Well, ok, it needs editing, proofreading, sending out for beta reading. But in essence, I have completed the task, the excitement I had for this project is back, I enthuse when I speak to people of what I am working on.

Suddenly, the last 2 years have disappeared. I focus on a phrase that works for me:

When one door closes another one opens. The thing is we are normally so focused on the door that closed, we forget to look through the door that has opened, and that is usually where our focus needs to be, that is where the new opportunities are. Forget the regret and recriminations that belong to the closed door, it is pointless. 

So now, it's April. The edit process if halfway done, I have feedback from new readers, and it is still good feedback. I am encouraged to continue to my goal of publishing my first novel. It feels so close, I can almost see it on the bookshelf in Waterstones.

A little flat footed

When I wake in a morning I don't assess whether I have any pain or not, I assess how much pain I have and where it is. It's rarely in just one place as it does like to move around my body. Recent months has seen an increase in the pain levels and it is now noticeably affecting my day to day life.

OK, time to see what can be done. I have read copious amounts of info on the internet, but maybe the doctors have some other advice that I can use. I asked my GP to refer me to the rheumatology department and my first appointment was yesterday.

The outcome of a long consultation is I have osteoarthritis in hands, neck and feet. The index finger on my right hand is showing signs of bone deposits and  slight deformity, the pain being manageable most days. 

I have cervical spondylosis in my neck, supported by my MRI scan of several years ago, which is getting worse, but I manage this as best I can as there is little I can do other than take painkillers and rest it.

None of this was new or a surprise to me.

What was a surprise to me is that I have flat feet.

Flat feet, fallen arches, whatever you want to call it... that's me, and this is contributing massively to the pain from the arthritis in my feet, from my toes, all across the balls of my feet making and distance walks very painful, (and sometimes some not so long walks are almost impossible). So, I am now waiting for a referral to a podiatrist, who no doubt will advise me I can no longer wear cheap, fashionable shoes, (something I am already well aware of) and need clumpy, sensible shoes with supportive insoles. 

While I wait for the appointment to come through, back on to the internet to research flat feet. I find these may be hereditary or it may be something I have acquired. Either way, this is news to me and so I am curious to know whether there is anything I can do to help control the pain while I wait for the appointment to come through, after all, I could be waiting upto 12 weeks.

So, apart from increasing the price I pay for good, sensible shoes, what else can I do?

Well, apparently I can do foot exercises to rebuild my arches. OK, I can give that a go. I don't need any specialist equipment, a can of tomato soup for 1 and a towel will get me started. Well, I say tomato soup, it could be any flavour, we just happen to have a cupboard full of tomato. 

First exercise, stand on a step with the balls of my feet on the step and the rest of the foot handing off, lift myself up slightly and hold, relax down slightly and hold, making sure not to go too low or it will turn into a calf exercise. 12 times... and rest. OK, painful, but manageable.

Next, spread the towel on the floor and using first one foot then the other pull the towel towards me by scrunching in my toes. OK, not so sure about my ability to scrunch towels with my toes, but here goes.  Now, that really isn't easy so lots of practice needed... or maybe a lighter towel, maybe I should start off with a tea-towel, progress up to a hand towel and ultimately onto a bath towel. 

And so it goes on, but now that I know part of the problem is my flat feet, I can at least try and do something about it... and hopefully, by the time I see the podiatrist, I will be part way to solving the problem.

So, hands... ok, I have some stronger ibuprofen gel to use, while I see if using chilli based gel will have the long term effect of numbing the nerve ends so they don't tell my brain I'm in as much pain as I am. Known as Capsaisin, (no, I'd never heard of it either,) it is a substance found in red chilli peppers that gives them their heat. As it doesn't contain any ibuprofen it means the capsaisin cream can be used in conjunction with ibuprofen if necessary. Rather ironic that I cannot abide chillies in my food, and maybe if I had been eating hot curries my level of pain may have been reduced as a side effect. 

So far, so good. 

Of, and there are my hips too. That turns out not to be arthritis, but something called trochanteric bursitis. My right hip is much worse than my left and so I been referred for a cortisone injection into my right hip, and if my left needs one at a later date, I can ask for that to be done too.

So, I have pain in my neck, hands, hips and feet... no wonder the other bits in between sometimes feel painful too, they are getting attacked from all directions. The good news is, there are things to make life more comfortable which don't involve steroids.

Now, me and my flat feet are off to roll my soup can.