Category Archives: All the rest of my life

Kittens

Well, I have no idea at all how to gracefully get off this high horse I have vaulted onto, so I shall just trot behind this hedge and err, fall off with a resounding crash.

Nothing to see here! I’m not limping!

Hello! I like chocolate! And daffodils! Sunshine is nice! I want a kitten!

Hunting for a flat or wee housie in this very big and massively overpriced city is bringing me out in hives, though. Hives! I can live in a place with, um, room in its rooms about seven hours’ commute from work, or I can live in a biscuit-tin about an hour from work. No, I can’t live closer to work, I haven’t robbed a bank recently. Oy vey.

And you can’t fit a kitten in a biscuit tin.

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Scenes from the beginning of the end of a marriage

May and H, sitting side-by-side in the living-room, watching the ice-dancing at Sochi, gleefully discussing the relative merits of sequins, frills, and little black gloves in costuming. H has just made May a cup of tea. Anyone would think they were going to eventually die aged respectively 87 and 88, holding hands in bed. 30 minutes earlier, May was shrieking ‘A Velociraptor, for fuck’s sake! In my house! In my house!’ while H sat with his head in his hands and wept.

May, at the end of her evening commute, standing outside the house in the dark, looking up at the stars, longing to go home, for minute after minute, because there is no home anymore.

H, weeping after finally telling his parents about the impending divorce, and May, automatically, unthinkingly, putting her arms around him.

‘I’ll have the Claudia Roden cook books and the Elizabeth David ones.’
‘What about the Madhur Jaffrey ones?’
‘One of them’s yours. I gave it to you.’ Pause ‘You can totally have the Complete Potato book as well.’
‘OK, what about Nigel Slater?’
‘I’ll arm-wrestle you for him.’

H is watching The Voice while May cooks dinner, and May dances about the kitchen area, singing along, suddenly happy. Suddenly actually happy. About what? Foolish woman.

May is sitting in the lavatories at work, stifling her sobs in case someone comes in and kindly asks who is that sobbing in the cubicle? And can she come out so we can have a wee now?

H is troubled. He’ll be seeing some of his family face-to-face, and doesn’t really want to tell them about the true nature of the Velociraptor, for verily, no one likes a Velociraptor-owner. ‘Don’t tell them then,’ says May.
‘But they’ll ask, and I don’t like lying to them.’
‘But you had no problem at all with lying to me for four fucking years?’
May storms into the kitchen and starts rage-making coffee. H follows her, looking pathetic, to apologise. ‘Look,’ says May, depressing the cafetière plunger, ‘Just tell them it’s too painful to talk about. And then if they push it, they’re the ones being awful.’ H looks relieved, both because of the advice, and because May hasn’t hit him with the kettle.

May spends a few minutes spitefully hoping H’s family do winkle it out of him, and the whole episode ruins lunch, before roping in Bitter McTwisted and setting her to googling divorce blogs.

May goes to brunch with a good friend, but has cried so often she just sort of sits there like a waxwork while her friend’s eyes fill with tears on the reciting of the Tale of the Incipient Divorcening. In any group of friends there is one who, hopefully only for a few months at a time, takes on the role of That One To Whom All The Shit Happens. For now, this friend is May. May drinks entirely too much coffee and talks energetically about Shakespeare instead.

H makes a couple of pitiful attempts at blaming the Velociraptor on the miscarriages. ‘I always thought I’d’ve been able to get rid of it if we’d had a living child…’ he begins, before May erupts in a painfully ugly fury. Because May herself wasn’t worth remaining dinosaur-free for? Now H is channelling Henry VIII? The fuck? A few days later, H uses the unwise phrase ‘well, you weren’t entirely to blame…’ and comes within a whisker of having his entire wardrobe left out in the middle of the road.

May goes back to googling properties within commuting distance of her place of work. Shamelessly, in the middle of the living-room, where H can see her.


Back she crawls

Hey, Gentle Readers. How are you all? And look, I’m still alive!

Item – Yes, I have gone for a good old gloomy-pants new look around here. Things are suddenly and to my intense disgust very different, and this is the bloggy equivalent of cutting most of my hair off and dyeing the remains Emotional Midnight Ink.

Item – No, there have been no further shocking revelations about my health. It remains as it ever did – endometriosis, PCOS, adenomysosis, allergic to bloody everything.

Item – Actually, it’s the marriage. Which you, dear kind readers, have watched me occasionally vapour and kvetch about right here on this very blog – the communication issues, the sex (lack of) issues, the not-being-on-the-same-page-hang-on-is-this-the-same-book? issues. It turns out you can’t be even so much as in the same library when one person is hiding a rather important thing from the other. And I found out.

Item – Other things I found out these past twelve days:

  • Fainting from shock is actually a real thing that really happens (being me, I of course politely waited until I was all on my own before fainting from shock, and had to get back up again to make my own hot sweet tea. Which I am still irrationally pissed off about).
  • You can miss a person horribly even when they’re sitting the other side of the room from you, eating popcorn and glumly watching the Olympics.
  • You will actually say ‘please don’t speak to me right now or I will hit you with a chair’ and actually, sincerely mean it as a polite warning made out of concern for the other’s health and wellbeing.
  • There are such things as Deal-Breakers. That will break even 20 years of love and 17 years of cohabitation and 9 years of marriage. And will break them all with a clean, hard, irretrievable snap. And the pain will come closer to killing you than even pulmonary embolisms and RPL.
  • That property prices in Britain are fucking insane and I will be forced to mortgage my every living relative for a cupboard with a chemical toilet in the corner.
  • That it will be my cupboard. That I long for it now with the power of a thousand suns.

I can see you, Gentle Readers, practically bouncing on your seats in your eagerness to type ‘but what the hell happened? What did you do? What did H do? WHAT? WHAT?’ And I am going to cheerfully piss you all off by not telling. H, as furious as I am with him, as shattered as my heart is, nevertheless deserves both his privacy and the right to tell his story his way, should he ever want to tell his story.

The night after I Made My Discovery, I dreamt I was painting the walls of our home, but the plaster kept flaking off to reveal what looked like grey-blue dinosaur hide (I don’t have an unconscious. It’s all Captain Obvious in there). So let’s just say H was keeping a velociraptor under the bed, even though I hate velociraptors, am scared of them, and have always said things like ‘Oh, we don’t have velociraptors! We’re not velociraptor people, are we, H?’ and H would say ‘What? Oh, yes. Quite. No velociraptors. May doesn’t care for them.’

And then the velociraptor burst out and bit my leg off.

So, you traitor, you really believed you’d keep
this a secret, this great outrage? Steal away
in silence from my shores? Can nothing hold you back?
Not our love? Not the pledge once sealed with our right hands?
Not even the thought of Dido doomed to a cruel death?

Virgil’s Aeneid, Book IV, translated by Robert Fagles

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19807#sthash.DPtFK5vF.dpuf

You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

Donal Óg, translated by Lady Gregory.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19457#sthash.RJd5MWfD.dpuf


Parenting, UR doin’ it rong

We went to see my Dad. It was simultaneously awful and liberating.

Awful, because my Dad is still, fuck-and-alas, a galloping narcissist and if the situation isn’t all about him by heck he will make it all about him. We did have a fight. His heartfelt apology, for which I was at first so very grateful and by which I was at first so deeply moved, rapidly turned into a ‘thing’ about his self-awareness and how therefore we didn’t get to mind when he was a tiresome old arse because he always had been and always would be and because he was aware he was a tiresome old arse, it was an endearing quirk rather than brutally rude and cruel to his children, and the fact we’ve all got Serious Issues from is behaviour over the years is… Not a Thing? I guess? Because reasons?

Liberating, because my heart, which has always lagged miles and years behind my head on this, suddenly realised that there is no magic combination of saying the right thing or doing the right thing, at the right time in the right way, that will unlock Parenting Level ‘Unconditional Love’.

Awful, because there were good bits about having this man as a father – the love of words and books, the stories he used to tell, his wit, his humour, his good days when he was delightful and delighted with us – and as soon as you open yourself up to the good bits, you’ve made yourself vulnerable to the bad bits. And if you shield yourself from the bad bits, you’ve cut yourself off from the good bits. This is not a dance I can do well, or at all gracefully.

Liberating, because this is not my problem. I am not my father. There was enough balance and good example in my life to save me from this ugly inheritance, this inability to see people as people, as equals, this inability to empathise, this raging fear that someone else’s gift (brains, knowledge, money, charm) is a direct threat to him and will somehow annihilate him. And that is not me. And does not have to be me.

And then we came home again, and I went and discussed all the above with my counsellor.

It would seem that a life-time of being shamed for having the wrong sort of body/hair/eyesight/attitude/artistic talent*/height/academic aptitude/pubertal development/sized breasts/menstrual problems can leave a girl feeling profoundly inadequate. Being treated as a flaming nuisance and being repeatedly accused of hypochondria and whining every time I was ill or having a bad time with my periods left rather a tiresome selection of psychological scars. And therefore, when it came time to have a baby of my own, with a body I’d been taught was flawed (and its being flawed an act of perverse rebellion on my part), my inability to make a baby was for me a great source of shame – bitter, bitter shame and guilt. My brain knows this is fucking ridiculous. My brain always knew it was fucking ridiculous. I am quite bright, after all. My poor silly heart, which has the IQ of a golden retriever and a similar desire to love all the grownups even when they kick it, needed more time to realise that I am no more ‘flawed’ than anyone else.

All humans have issues, health problems, non-Barbie-dollness, scars, lumps, wonky bits and hormones, and are nevertheless lovely, loveable, wonderful creatures. I have just had bad luck. Not as bad as some people’s obviously. But definitely worse than other people’s. This was not because I brought it on myself, in any way. Why would I? How could I? It’s not even physiologically possible.

I cannot fathom the guilt, shame, embarrassment, and self-loathing that lead my parents to take a child with obvious health problems and frantically alternate between blaming her and insisting nothing was wrong with her rather than, say, take her to a decent gynaecologist and Get That Seen To, Because Poor Kid, It Sucks. But I know I’m not the only woman who has been shamed for having menstrual problems, fertility issues, and miscarriages. And I don’t know what is wrong with our society that this happened and keeps happening, but it needs to stop. And if you have ever tried to dismiss, down-play, shame, or judge a woman over these issues, I hope you get your pubes caught in your zipper and have to be cut free by a paramedic.

*Writing instead of drawing. Yes, my family went there.


Just getting on with it, as per

Heya, Gentle Readers. Happy New Year. How are you all?

So, Christmas happened. H and I rushed about through floods and storms and howling gales (not kidding), to see the In-Laws in a kind of festive flying leap before doing some serious Christmas Hunkering in our own home. Then we similarly hurled ourselves at my mother’s house for New Year, and now H has gone to work. But matters end not here, because next week we are visiting my Dad for a few days.

Dad is being exceedingly tiresome, forgetting things and then blaming everyone else for whatever it is he forgot, also champion blue-ribbon entries in the Emotional Blackmail And OneDownManShip State Fair, and I don’t want to go. On the other hand, I don’t want to be the daughter who neglects her old man just because he’s being tiresome and forgetful. So I am doing this for me, not him. Because I am a Good Person.

Though all bets are off if he tries to tell me that ‘in the old days people didn’t make such a fuss. Babies died all the time and people just got on with it.’ Direct quote from the dear old man a few years ago.

(a) This is horseshit, as anyone who actually reads anything written prior to 1900 bloody well knows, in that yes alas babies died all the time but it broke their parents’ hearts to fucking bits. Even early miscarriages. Once you know, you know, and you can’t unknow, and saying ‘well you wouldn’t’ve known before they invented home pregnancy tests’ is fucking pointless. And in any case, many women know from implantation, test or no, because hormones, weird. Therefore, in the ‘old days’ more people suffered more heart-break more often, actually, and hopefully their nearest and dearest were less dickish about it. Though, alas, humans=dickish, so…

And b) this is stupid, as I am getting up and dressed every morning, and I shower regularly and go to work and DO my work and occasionally do a bit of house-work and visit my friends and relations and if this is not ‘getting on with it’ then what the fuck is? Or did he actually mean ‘stop troubling me with the fact your woes are at this time considerably more woeful than mine, because my compassion circuits are badly corroded and this may short me out’?

My Dad is not well, and I can’t gauge how unwell he really is, because he veers between shouting ‘I am IRON MAN’ and yomping up a mountain, and whimpering that he’s very very old and dying and old and dying and frail and old and DYING AND OLD. Then he goes off to chop wood. Then he complains of chest pains. Then he has a whiskey or six and drags the dogs out for another 8-mile yomp. He’ll either outlive me or be found conked out mid-yomp within the next two years.

When H and I have performed our oblations on the parental altar, we will set up an appointment with Riverside Clinic. So there’s that.

And because the Universe is like that, an old school-friend died on New Year’s Eve. It’s not fair. It’s so unfair. 2013 was such an angry, destructive, vicious year for so many people, and now this, as its final parting ‘fuck you exceedingly’ gift.


‘Tis the season. Hi.

Gentle Readers, Season’s Greetings. How have you been? How are you all doing? Me? Oh, fine, fine. It’s a long story. Have a cup of tea. Or coffee. Or cocoa. Or wine. I don’t know what you like. I don’t know what I like. Excuse me, I shall just go and stare into a cupboard for a few minutes.

Anyway (I went for tea. I’m British) anyway, (I see you were serious when you asked how I’d been. In that case, I shall tell you. In Items. Because Items are traditional.

Item – Working from the toes up, my left leg, the one that developed the big fat DVT. How is that? Well, I had a final ultrasound scan of it, during which the sonographer kept a poker face to out-poke all poker faces. Then a week later we saw the haematology consultant (a third one. Consistency being a thing that huge NHS hospitals can’t actually do on the budgets they actually get). I had been somewhat bothered by the way my leg is still more likely to cramp, to get tired, to ache, than my right leg. It was weird and I didn’t like it, and I was somewhat concerned that despite all the walking about and trying to get fit again the stupid thing was not cooperating. And, well, of course it isn’t cooperating. Third Haematologist told me that though my popliteal vein was no longer completely blocked (yay?) the clot hadn’t completely dissolved and had now scarred over. So my left leg will get oxygen starvation if I over-do it, and will ache and swell if I stand about for too long, and is at risk of another socking great clot if I push my luck. Fucking A, man.

Item – Compression socks. I hate them. They have a purpose and their purpose is excellent and my ankle is not swollen on a regular basis with thanks thereunto. They still suck. I still hate them.

Item – Cerazette! Still my bestest friend in the universe. Every few weeks, I spot painlessly for a week. Otherwise, my pelvis is filled with peace, calm, sunshine and dancing rainbow unicorns.

Item – Cerazette! Demon! My hair is falling out. I have a metric fuckton of hair to start with, so it will take a great deal of falling-out-ness before I start to look so much as wispy, let alone Leonardo da Vinci, and yet I am not amused. Not at all. Sodding hormones. On the other hand, I’d rather be spear-bald than spend three weeks out of five in so much pain I can’t really function, so fuck it. I have hats.

Item – Wheat. I ate some. Within 24 hours my oesophagus was so swollen I was having trouble swallowing (and had to go retch a few times when I had not chewed obsessively 27 times before swallowing, as ‘stuck’ is a thing). This is an official food allergy thing, apparently. I also got gut ache and wind and mild runs (trots?). I decided I hate delicious yummy wheat with a passion. Not trying that again. Damn it all to hell.

Item – Trying again. We were waiting for the all clear from the Haematologists (many and varied). The consensus is I will have to be on low molecular weight heparin AND aspirin from conception to six weeks after end-of-pregnancy. Also, I will have to wear stockings on both legs, and will probably be a physical wreck throughout. Hurrah! But, I can try again if I like. So we will go see Riverside Clinic in January, and see what can be done about tucking Frosticle back in me. On the other hand, a fresh IVF cycle? Possibly a really bloody silly idea, as ovarian stimulation/hyperstimulation is in itself a damn fine way of triggering blood-clotting. We shall see. My current feeling is, if Frosticle doesn’t ‘work’, I am getting seven cats and a pet owl and a horse called Horse.

Item – To my fury, Third Haematologist went on about there being no genetic ’cause’ for my thrombophilia, therefore I didn’t technically ‘have’ a thrombophilia, and I rolled my eyes, and what I would like to say is, actually, I don’t have a currently recognised genetic cause that you can test for. I ABSOLUTELY FUCKING DO have a thrombophilia. You fucking idiot.

Item (secondary, diversionary) – I much preferred First Haematologist, who was sympathetic and sensible, and Second Haematologist, who was actually The Doctor slumming it while evading the Family of Blood or somesuch. (I am perfectly serious. He referred to ‘eight of your Earth weeks’ at one point and H got the giggles (yes yes yes, so did I)).

Item – Work. I am back at work full time. It’s fine. I’m coping. Leg is not being so much of an arse as it were to interfere with my day-to-day duties.

Item – Family. Oh my God I have had it up to here with my family. I will no doubt get back to you all on this.

Item – Counselling. My NHS-provided counsellor, who I see once a week, is lovely and wonderful and has made me realise I spend an inordinate amount of time beating the everlovin’ shit out of myself for everything and anything from untidy hair to being a vile antisocial Bitter McTwisted of Doom. If anyone spoke to a friend of mine the way I speak to myself I’d disembowel them. I am practicing being sweet to myself. It is weird and hard. Also, she keeps reminding me, my family’s hang-ups are theirs, not mine, and I don’t need to take them on board at all. Build Team May! If people are not on Team May, skip briskly away into the distance singing ‘la la la’!

Item – Marriage. H and I are not happy. H has dealt with the Summer of You Must Be Fucking Kidding Me, well, badly. I have also dealt with it badly, but H has taken the proverbial biscuit, bless him. Communication has gone to hell. I will let H tell you about it. That is my revenge upon him, ho ho ho. Hi, H! Stage is all yours! So!

Item – Couple-counselling. We tried to find a counsellor. We had an initial visit in which the man would NOT. STOP. TALKING. When I bought up the whole ‘children now seriously unlikely’ thing, he had to stop me there to tell me ‘I didn’t know that’. Which, actually, was the first red flag. A good counsellor does not tell you what you should and should not be thinking about this sort of stuff on the first visit and before he knows any of the medical history apart from ten mother-fucking miscarriages in a row, you absolute 24-carat gold clotheared dickwhistle. And then tried to slut-shame me when I said I had a higher libido than H and the lack of sex and more specifically communication about sex in our marriage was making me sad and angry, by explaining to me as if I was very stupid indeed that in normal marriages, it was normal for both spouses to lose interest and get ‘too’ used to each other. Well then, I’m abnormal, as I haven’t lost interest in H at all, as I just explained, and the issue is the lack of communication, not the lack of sex per se, so sod you very much. And then, he never turned up to our second appointment. He made his excuses the next day via the practice manager. His excuse was not per se stupid, but his not getting in touch himself to grovel just a bit? Was a great fat honking flashing neon sign saying ‘this man is Not The Counsellor For You, Also, Has No Fucking Manners Whatsoever’. So. Start again.

Item – I have a disgusting cold. So there’s that.

Item – Christmas. Every card I write, every Christmas decoration I hang (or get H to hang), every present I buy or plan I make, I drag kicking and screaming from a black, angry, pissy abyss of raging misery. Just so you know. The only thing keeping me going is a) H’s various concerts (it’s a good thing, being married to a musician) and b) the prospect of the Doctor Who Christmas Special.


Not enough tea in all the world

And why are you posting so infrequently, May?

Item – Work. I am still not back up to full-time hours, because I am still tired and weedy and prone to limping and getting all breathless and grumpy. It is so frustrating and miserifying I keep failing to notice that I am better, I am stronger, I can stand and walk citius, altius, fortius!

Item – And this week, I woke up on Monday with a splitting headache and sinuses bicycle-pumped full of rubber cement. I spent all yesterday at home feeling anxious and guilty (and headachey and ill). And then I spent today at home, knitting, and trying to talk myself out of feeling anxious and guilty (and headachey and ill). To my vast irritation, paracetamol doesn’t really work on the headache, but I can’t take NSAIDs because of the fragmin. (Oh, come now, May, you giant wuss, it’s not as if it’s a migraine. Yet).

Item – At the weekend, I went on an outing en famille in honour of my niece Minx’s birthday. Minx and her friends were fine. My mother and sister were… a little difficult to make plans with. And though they were very nice about it, they were clearly bewildered by the fact I did not want to walk back and forth and up and down and to and fro all day long. I was very tired (I have been sleeping so badly), and Mum was startled and concerned to see how very pale I was (it was Halloween. I don’t need no crummy make-up to do ghostly), and yet she was still surprised that I wanted quite a few sit-down breaks. Oh, for the love of…

Item – Ah, yes, the Sleeping Badly. I am the Queen of Insomnia at the moment. I. Do. Not. Sleep.

Item – Matters have not been helped by our landlord, who suddenly offering to raise the rent by holy-fucknuts percent. But, amusingly, not to do any of the numerous little repairs and restorations that the flat rather needs. We are very amused. For a few weeks there, we were also entertaining the jolly notion of a sudden desperate house-hunt over Christmas. H has been negotiating with The Law on his side, so things may be less drastic than that, in the end, now that I’ve already had the stress-induced apoplexy. Keeping in mind this all came on the heels of The Father’s Heart-Attack, The IVF, The Miscarriage, The Embolism, and The Threat of Redundancy.

Item – You know what? Fuck 2013. Fuck it exceedingly.

Item – I saw the NHS counsellor once, and she was very nice, and I am interested in seeing what happens next. She couldn’t see me the next week because reasons, but we have a regular Thursday thing scheduled starting this week. My only twitchery twitched because she wanted to refer me to her hospital’s miscarriage specialist (Which is all very well, but the NHS has so far done something between crap-all and fuck-dickery about my recurrent miscarriages beyond the mopping-up afterwards. They ran all the tests the NHS runs, and then fat-shamed me. It took private consultants to reveal the thrombophilia-despite-no-genetic-reason-for-it and the immune issues. I do not think there is anything this new NHS consultant can do even if he wanted to). There’s something about my current medical situation that is making people leap six feet in the air and run in four directions simultaneously trying to FIND THE ANSWER FIND THE ANSWER OH MY GOD THIS IS TOO WEIRD AND MUST BE MADE BETTER. It’s a very odd change from previous years’ ‘shit happens, you fatty McFatfat fatperson fatzilla. Eat lettuce only and keep trying’. I have cognitive dissonance. But I could do with people just calming their tits a minute and letting this be what it is: A shitstorm. All this constant THERE MUST BE AN ANSWER LET ME SOLVE YOU thing is uncomfortably denialist (it’s not a bad thing because we will solve it and solve it and then it won’t be bad so you can’t be sad because we will solve it!) and very uncomfortably victim-blamey (well, you just haven’t tried XYZ, have you? If you tried XYZ this wouldn’t’ve happened, would it? More fool you!) with a side-order of God-complex (I will save you, puny mortal! Here is my solution from on high! There! Now you are saved! I said now you are saved, damn it! Be saved by my Wisdom!).

Item – Two more weeks of fragmin injections. Then another ultrasound scan of my affected leg, and another visit to the haematologist, to discuss how matters stand, and if there’s any permanent damage and so on. And then, apart from the bastard son of a donkey’s rectum compression socks, the Saga Of Clotting will, let us all cross fingers, be over.

Item – I happened to go past the Riverside Clinic the other day. Our other embryo is frozen in there, waiting. I felt like Gerda seeing Kay trapped in the power of the Snow Queen, unable to rush in and thaw it back to rosy life with my tears. I wasn’t expecting to feel like that, but now that I do, how do I say no to a FET after Christmas? And how would I bear it if the Frosticle didn’t take, or worse, miscarried as well?