Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Moving forward

Staying alive

Well, I go away for a year, come back and WordPress has changed. Blocks?? I will be interested to see what it looks like.

My life plods  along. I’m still a Parish Councillor, just. I don’t do bureaucracy. I know that is a surprising statement from someone who was an NHS employee for 3 decades but the NHS was NOTHING in comparison to local government. A fence is in desperate need of painting. Residents offer to paint it, using a good quality wood paint, the same colour as it is at the moment. NO. NO says the Chair. Not before you have completed this risk assessment and answered this extremely insulting to the intelligence, poorly written email. Following on after 2 similar experiences the residents rounded on the council and told them to paint it themselves. The Chair also believes that they have the final say over everything, and that unless they want it to be discussed, it will not be discussed. It would be so easy to step away and leave them to it but I will not give in. I signed up to act in the best interests of the residents and that is what I shall continue to try to do.

The residents association is a reality now. It became official in January and is going great guns. They have resurrected the fete on the common, complete with live music. After an interesting exchange with the Parish Council (no you cannot put a tree on Parish land) they have erected a Christmas Tree on private land and will be having a public switch-on event. 

After 12 years of no contact with my Father he agreed to see me again. Contact involved me doing everything he wanted, the puppet master was controlling my life again. I was not permitted to ask why he had chosen to have no contact with me, or my children, for over a decade. The one occasion when I tried he gave a performance worthy of an oscar for ham-acting, much clutching at his head and wailing, however, no explanation. After helping him move home 3 times, and 3 years later, I have given up. He is 97 years old. He could die at any time but he could live for a few more years yet. Why have I decided to close the door on our relationship? I have realised that he really couldn’t care a jot about me, or my family. The reason he agreed to contact again was for his own interests. He was running out of friends and other family, so he decided that I was better than nothing. Our relationship is toxic, having contact with him makes me unhappy, very happy. It is a constant reminder that my Father shut me out; that he wasn’t there as a Grandad for my children, their other Grandad died when they were babies. That, although he must have known that his Grandson was terribly ill and close to death, he made no attempt to contact either of us. I have tried to talk to him about this. I felt that if we could speak about the history, that if I could understand why he had shut me and mine out, we could begin to establish a happy relationship. He blocks this, I have no idea why. I feel sad that he will take his side of the story to the grave with him but it is now obvious that this is what will happen.

Staying alive. That is me. I have given up smoking. After 40+ years I have not had a cigarette for 3 weeks. My quit app tells me that I have regained 1 day and 21 hours of life; that I have saved £143 and that I will gain 3Kgs in weight. Hmmm. The money is worth it, but the weight gain? Not so sure.

Other health news is that I have changed GP’s, and that I appear to have been put on a drug that has banished my restless legs. Yes. Rather than attempting to mask it with codeine, I am now taking Ropinirole, and it’s working. I can sleep, all night but, if I can’t sleep I can lie in bed. I can just lie there and relax. It’s all good in the hood.

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Nearly every night I think ‘I must blog’, and every night I get carried away with something else. Tonight I shall put fingers to keyboard though, after all  I started blogging to maintain an on-line diary, to recount my journey into Grandparenthood. I was amazed when I started receiving comments, I was amazed but I was also gratified. I used to blog freely about my family, but I drew my horns in when a reader took huge issue about a piece I had written and told me that she had discovered who I was and that she was going to notify my employers, and the NMC about my Blog. I was horrified. I was fairly sure that the NMC would not have complaint with me, after all I didn’t break confidentiality or bring the profession into disrepute  however, once my anonymity was compromised then confidentiality issues may have arisen. My employers, they may not have been too happy about my ‘musings’ as they sometimes referred to employment topics and local employment topics at that. I could have been in serious trouble. I closed down my blog for a couple of months, deleted the writing she found offensive and held my breath. Months later, when I had heard nothing, I started writing again. Momentum was suffered though and I had lost the ‘discipline’ of regular blogging. I am going to make a New Years resolution, blog at least once a week.

I’m still a midwife. Recently I received a ‘promotion’, really it is just an official recognition of a role I have been helping with for over a year, but it does give me a new job title. Over the last 18 months I have also assumed two other roles within the maternity services, one clinical and very few hours, the other non-clinical but together they take me up to full-time hours, and more. I am approaching retirement age but, due to my husbands pension having become negligible since G Brown did something, don’t know what but it made Hubby’s pension pot leak a huge amount, and my state pension age running away from me at breakneck speed, I can see that I shall have to put in the elbow grease for a few years yet. Midwives and childbirth have been much in the news over the past few months and, with Will and Kate announcing her pregnancy, I expect procreation will remain in the spotlight.

My family are all well. 16 of us now and all spending Christmas Day together. Hectic week ahead but culminating in a fabulous, chaotic, noisy but joyous celebration and, of course, Ruby’s first Christmas

Ruby Rose

Ruby Rose

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For some unknown reason I had imagined that as the years passed I would find myself myself slowing down and having more ‘me’ time. I don’t know where I got that idea from but I was really way off the mark, my life now is full of commitments. When I increased my work hours I knew that my life was going to need to be strictly organised and that I would need to be religious in using a planner to ensure that all my duties slotted into place. What I hadn’t allowed for was Hubby doing his back in so badly that he couldn’t help out when the going got tough, in fact he became yet another commitment. Anyway, so what with juggling 2 jobs; 1 incapacitated husband; household tasks; gardening and 7 grandchildren I have found little time to blog.

Today, today has been declared an ‘I have no intention of doing anything that I don’t want to do’ day. Yes, I will be working on 2 databases but that is my choice, sort of, because if I don’t get on with them I will look a right idiot on Monday when I have to present the results of an audit. They are work but there is not enough time to do them during work hours and staying late at work would not help with the production of these beasties because, if you are seen then people feel they have to interupt you, plus it prompts them to dump more c**p at your door. Strange mentality in the NHS, perhaps everywhere, I don’t know. If I noticed someone having to work late, and over their hours, to complete a job then I would acknowledge that they had too much work. I may not be able to substantially reduce it, but I would definitely not go giving them more to do, where I work the opposite appears to be the case.

Work. The cut-backs continue, the unhappiness of the midwives and the women increases. We have just passed through a huge baby influx and it appears we should be back to normal levels until December when there is another little blip. May/June next year are bumper months which was unfortunate as the booking of these women co-incided with the bumper crop of newborns, making a double whammy for community midwives. I’ve had a couple of exciting call-outs requiring me to accompany women on blue-light transfers. In both cases the women were not in danger but the transfers were in the rush hour so 2’s and blues were used to reduce delay. One woman had rocked up at the wrong place in quite advanced labour and had received no antenatal care at all, was newly arrived from an African country and spoke no English. The other had turned up at a clinic, having taken her own discharge from hospital 2 days previously, and her blood pressure was through the roof. With the first lady I saw very little of the journey as halfway to the obstetric unit she started to make the sounds you associate with pushing so I was kneeling on the floor next to her trying to convince her with body language that she should breathe, breathe. I was also sliding up and down the ambulance as it braked for which I bore the bruises for quite some time, but which did make her laugh between contractions. As I was safely strapped in with the second transfer I had a wonderful view of the ‘Moses’ effect i.e two streams of traffic parting to allow the ambulance through. I also witnessed how stupid some drivers are, one even trying to outrun the ambulance, the paramedic told me that is not unusual. Unbelievable!

Work, job number 2. The job is thought provoking and challenging, however my dealings with HR and payroll have been even more thought-proking and challenging. After 3 months of being relaxed about not being paid, no contract etc. I lost my calm, laid back demenour and went for the throat. I have recollections of uttering such blasphemies as ‘grievance’, ‘union’ and then the ultimate ‘I’m stressed’. It does seem to have worked in that I received lots of back pay 2 weeks ago, I eagerly await the 24th of this month. Who is behind this bungle? A totally US manager, even more US than my other manager, in fact so US that my community manager is now beginning to take on the mantle of the most amazing manager, ever.

Home. Well Hubby had to be carried off the golf course after resurrecting his old back problem. He was in agony and was unable to feel anything down one leg, from his buttock to his little toe. G.P? Anti-inflammatories, this was a phone-call trige because there were no appointments and it wasn’t considered urgent. 4 appointments later, when I dutifully waited outside, and 7 weeks later, I marched into the consulting room with my drop-footed, unable to walk properly husband and waited until the G.P had told my husband it ‘would take time’, and ‘at your age’ (58) whilst staring intently at his computer screen, not even shifting his gaze when husband demonstrated the extent of his ‘dead’ leg, then I waded in. ‘What’s the diagnosis then?’ Still not looking away from the screen the doc responded with ‘Well, it’s possibly the same as he had before’. ‘Sure of that are you? Are you not concerned that previously the symptoms were not as severe but that he did require surgery?’ Oh yes, then I had his attention. A withering look was sent in my direction. ‘We could try physio, but it would possibly be a waste of time’. ‘It may well be a waste of time but now we are at the point where this is having a detremental effect on our lives. My husband has his own business and is unable to work. He can do nothing, not even pick up his grandchildren. So far you have done nothing, not even attempt a definitive diagnosis. I am thinking MRI to rule out a problem which, rather than resolve, could get worse.’ Over to the G.P, ‘Well the wait for an MRI is about 6 weeks and it may be better by then.’ I am surprised that he didn’t push the emergency button at that point because I erupted. A verbatum transcript is impossible, mainly because anger and indignation took over, but the essence was that if they hadn’t waited so ******long already he would now be having his MRI and physio and we would know what we were dealing with and, just because you are only just out of short trousers, don’t regard anyone who has grey hair as too old to spend money on. Now pension ages have been changed everyone else, except NICE and NHS choices, thinks we have at least 10 years of productivity ahead of us, so don’t dare write my husband off. Hubby now has his physio and MRI appointment.

The grandchildren are all well, and growing but of them are growing quite as quickly as grandchild number 8, who is currently nestled in DIL’s womb and scheduled to appear at the beginning of May. Yes, another one. See below for how the others have grown.


Well. My update is complete. My databases call. Firework night looms and Christmas lurks.

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Life has recently become extremely hectic and there is now much more juggling with commitments. Family life has been full, June has 2 birthdays and, in our household, that always heralds family meals so we all mustered the other weekend to celebrate Joshua’s 1st birthday (time has flown), his Mummy’s birthday, Father’s Day, son-in-law passing his electricians course (3 years hard graft after a working day at evening college) and me getting a new job. June also appears to be the month when our ‘children’ need a weekend away, so Mum and Dad end up having the grandchildren and not enough sleep.

The new job, well I’m still doing my old one as a community midwife but I have now also taken on another role, within the same Trust, midwifery related but not clinical. I know, I’m always wittering on about wanting to retire so what on earth has possessed me? Two things have prompted this, firstly it is a role that has always really interested me, and secondly, due to the bankers and the politicians I am one of the select group of women who find themselves most disadvantaged by the changes to pensions, state and NHS. I was amazed to be selected for the job as on the day of the interview I had some nasty virus which was causing me to appear grey, subdued and huddled and the interview was at the end of a particularly busy working day. I knew one person on the panel but the other 2 were entirely unknown to me so either the other candidates were totally unacceptable drop-outs with no grasp of the language or the one person I knew bribed the other interviewers!

Community is plodding along, this month has on the whole been quieter postnatally but I have managed to squeeze in 2 homebirths and a birth at the midwife-led unit. One of the homebirths set my adrenaline soaring, all my own fault really as I was being too relaxed, so was the woman in labour, and didn’t phone the 2nd midwife in time, in fact I didn’t phone her at all as my hands were full. I had to ask the woman’s husband to phone her and request she come PDQ, unfortunately it wasn’t PDQ enough as baby arrived 15 minutes before the 2nd midwife, luckily all was well though. There was still a slight frisson when I realised that baby was on her way out and I hadn’t got another pair of hands if needed, all the adverse scenarios started racing through my mind, but then I banished them and I concentrated on welcoming baby into the world.

I wrote all of this yesterday but when I ‘published’ it all that appeared was the title, the body of the text had vanished, for good, and this is the second time that has happened, is anyone else experiencing this?

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Time, well it’s just flying at the moment. There’s a lot going on at work, so may machinations, some seemingly innocuous others are rather worrying and are leaving many of us ‘watching our backs’. I have my resignation letter composed and saved and I cannot count the number of times my finger has hovered over PRINT, Hubby is leaping to attention every time the printer goes into action. Tee hee. It is all just a matter of time though.

Jack is now 7 and Amy 6, and both had the same birthday present, a trampoline. I take the blame for this as I acquired one a few months ago and it has been such an amazing hit with all the grandchildren that their parents decided they should have one. I have strict rules in my garden about the trampoline, no bundles, no pushing, no food allowed, there are occasions when Nanny has to turn into a sergeant major but on the whole the children are kept healthily occupied for hours.

From somewhere, and through some movement I have developed ‘tennis elbow’, or lateral epicondylitis. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Nasty condition which catches me out regarding what will elicit an ‘ouch’ and, as a result, what actions I can perform. I can open a car door with no problems but cannot sew. I can get the ironing board out and carry the iron to the board, but I can’t iron (handy that one!). I can chop vegetables but cannot turn the tap on the water butt. On the up-side it is ‘self-limiting’, the down-side is that it can last between 6 months and 2 years. I just hope that time continues to fly.

I was thinking about time today and how we develop our concept of it. I’m not a philosopher, I just heard myself saying ‘You’ve got 10 minutes on the computer Amy’ and so realised that we often give children timings. I will say ‘In a minute’; ‘Give me a couple of minutes’; ‘You’ve got 5 minutes to tidy up’ and other time precise instructions, but they are anything but precise in reality. Do we develop our sense of time from comments like these and, if so, could it account in part for why some people are poor time keepers? Before we learn to tell the time from a clock our concept of time must come from clues given by those who do know about hours and minutes. I had been considering this when daughter came round to collect her off-spring. We sat on the patio having a chat (whilst the children bounced on the trampoline) and after a while she informed them that they had 5 minutes and then they were going home, I waited and timed what would actually happen. In reality it was 20 minutes before they were summoned from their leaping, and then a further 10 minutes before they left to go home. So, having been told that in 5 minutes they would be leaving they really had 6 times that number of minutes, with no correction to the initial instruction. Were they aware that it was more than 5 minutes, or do they now have an erroneous impression of time? Is time a learned concept?

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Life is full, work, grandchildren and a rapidly growing garden are using up lots of time (and energy). My pond, which I made about 15 years ago, appeared to have sprung a slow leak. Fortuitously a friend had decided to get rid of his huge pond, only a year old and constructed before his son started walking, so had a virtually brand new liner which he gave to me at the end of last year. Re-lining a pond, a much bigger job than I had anticipated. Removing all the edging slabs, catching the 2 remaining goldfish and then emptying the pond, by hand, it took days. My glasses kept falling off and into the mud at the bottom, the frogs kept jumping into the pond and then scrambling to get out, so I’d help them, take them down the garden and then 15 minutes later they would hop past me and launch themselves back into the thick sludge. The sludge, buckets full were deposited around the flower beds, Hubby said that it looked as if a cow with a bowel problem had been let loose in the garden, I’ve been assured that it’s good for the plants though. After days of re-levelling, cementing slabs back, re-filling and re-planting I returned the fish, plus three we had been asked to adopt by son, and then realised that they were too visible to the heron so had to net the pond. It’s been good to have the warm weather but it has created an issue with the pond water, it’s turning green, I suspect because the oxygenating plants are not yet established. Should I invest in an aerator?

We have also had Jack’s 7th birthday, I can’t believe that he is 7, it only seems like yesterday that my first grandchild was born and now I find myself escorting him and his friends to the O2 dinosaur exhibition, where he proved himself to be as knowledgeable about ‘terrible lizards’ as the guide escorting us. Obviously there was also the family birthday meal and, thanks to the early summer weather, it was a bbq plus an early outing for the paddling pool. One of life’s conundrums – how come that when you pack the pool up for the winter it has no leaks, but when you get it out the following year it has developed one? Grrrr.

Work is another conundrum. Where is it all going? I don’t know, it just seems particularly grim at the moment and I have a premonition that before too long I will find myself reapplying for my job on a lower pay band, not good news leading up to retirement as it would affect my pension. I am having an interesting debate with the people in control of parking. We have to pay, currently £12 per month to park for half an hour a day, at the hospital where we are based. They are now increasing the fee to £20 per month. I have taken issue about this, pointing out that I have no choice about whether I park at the hospital or not and also the fact that the new rules will mean that we have to park a hundred yards from our office where the gas cylinders and on-call equipment are stored. The response I got has inflamed me even more ‘ if you wish to park on the hospital site’. Hang on there you ignorant bureaucrat, I don’t ‘wish’, I HAVE to, it is one of the conditions of my role that I have a car, that I use that car for my job, I cannot do my job without a car. Plus, why should I, as a job-share, pay the same parking fee as a full timer? Any employment experts out there who might like to weigh in on this one?

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Back to life

We had a lovely break. Went on a boat and saw a whale and her baby. Stroked an Eagle Owl and and a Golden Eagle, really soft and downy. Swam, a teeny, tiny bit; got my sun-rash (bother, I usually only get it in the UK); got very tipsy one evening and tried to persuade Hubby that we should try out the mobility scooters which were re-charging in our apartment block, he pointed out the error of my ways; read 3 books, absolutely glorious, almost hedonistic! It then went downhill. Our flight was delayed and then, on the 4 hour flight home, I got my restless legs and thought that I might just go completely mad. Got to bed at 3am and at 10am daughter, she with Amy and twins, arrived having been evacuated from their house due to high levels of carbon monoxide, obviously they took up residence with us. The next day son arrived, very poorly with problems with his ileostomy, and got into the only spare bed, Hubby and I laughed, hysterically.

Daughters back boiler is now fixed, I commend EDF for providing them with a free heater to ensure they wouldn’t freeze and also the boiler man who sorted everything out for a very sensible and realistic price. Son’s blockage is now resolved and he has been returned to his wife and family.

Having cleared the house of off-spring I returned to work, 10 days away and everything has hit the fan. So many rumours flying around that I have decided to put ear-plugs in and stick my head in the sand, bad news for the women and even worse news for the midwives. When I decide to listen to things I really don’t want to hear I shall blog, possibly at length!

It is half-term this week so I have had 3 grandchildren staying, luckily I was able to put a star on Izzy’s reward chart to say she had slept through the night!

I got on my Wii with trepidation this evening. Over the last 6 months I have lost a stone and a half, at Christmas I put on 6lbs and it took me until the week before our holiday to lose it again, I was certain that a week of good eating (and drinking) would see me back at my Yuletide weight….wrong!! Hurrah, I’m 1 pound less than the day before we went, it’s amazing what a busy 5 days are capable of.

A serious point, Silverpoint. Now the holiday we had was a promotional deal with a company called Great Resorts, only it turned out that they had gone and a company called Silverpoint had taken their place. Part of our deal was that we had to attend a presentation, a morning or afternoon was to be dedicated for this, fair enough. In fact the ‘presentation’ took 5  hours, we thought we were hard done by but another couple we chatted to were talked at for 6 hours, and that’s what happened, not a presentation which implies the attendees all sitting together and being presented with facts, but a one-to-one with a well-trained, verbose salesman. He showed us his personal photos, told us his life history, drew flow charts and told us that for in the region of  £8,000 we could enjoy amazing holidays or ever. He then told us that his manager needed to speak to us to ‘make sure that he had given us all the facts’. After an interminable wait his manager appeared, amazing news, we could access the world of luxury holidays for nothing, well sort of, yes it would cost us money in the end but for the first year it would be free. I have a very laid back Hubby, in 36 years I have known him lose his temper about 10 times, it is now 11 as the only way to get the message through that we were not interested was to shout at this nasty, deceitful, apology for a  human being. Over the next 3 days we talked to several other couples, they had all been offered different deals, we talked to a couple who had handed over £100,000 chasing the dream of a lifetime of luxury holidays only to be disappointed, and then for Silverpoint to suggest that they hand over a further £3,000. They didn’t, thank heavens but if anyone should ever doubt how dangerous and distressing this type of selling can be then I wish that they could talk to this couple. Oh, I forgot to mention, part of the ‘presentation’ involved using Google maps to look at the couple’s home and comment on it’s condition and value, really spooky stuff. If you are offered a presentation week then I can really recommend it, you will get fantastic accommodation, you will have to put up with a few hours of slick sales patter but if you can resist a massive temptation then it will be worth your while as you will have had yourself a cheap break!

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