10 weeks, morning sickness, one lung and laziness…

So! Where do I start, first of all yayness, 10 weeks in and still feeling pretty much alright. Wednesday was our first visit to the Maternity Hospital, Holles Street in Dublin, it was a really family affair! The boys tagged along too to check it out. They’re now convinced this baby will be a “Dub Head” but I’m sure we’ll bring the Wexican out in them! 

Scan showed a good strong heartbeat ticking away on the screen, and although all these positives are limiting our spirits we are still very much aware that any number of things could go wrong, but very hopeful that it won’t! We met with the fantastic Prof. Higgins on our visit where she went through my extensive medical history in detail, working out exact specifics for each medical event. The list went on so much she filled the page and was still looking for more space! Truth be told, my body is a bit of a mystery. One lung only ever really worked Only I wasn’t aware of this until I turned 23. I was treated for asthma my whole life, due to shortness of breath. The pulmonary artery to my right lung never developed while I was in the womb. A CT by Crumlin Childrens Hospital when I was 12 years showed up an abnormality in that my right lung was smaller than it should be. No further testing was done, I was told I had one and a half lungs and that it wouldn’t affect me in later life and that was that, back home and back on the inhaler. I went on to have two pregnancies and was breathless through both, was passing out on my second. But was told it was all in my head. Boy were they wrong! 

At 23 after a mini marathon for charity a couple of days later I began coughing up blood, suddenly I couldn’t breath properly, my mother rushed me to Wexford Hospital where they diagnosed respiratory distress, put in a chest shunt to relieve the fluid building uo in my lung that was literally making me drown in my own fluids. A day later I was told I would require permanent oxygen from now on and was put on some pain relief to ease the difficulty of breathing. As I was sitting on the bed leaning over on the hospital bedside table with a pillow underneath me and my two legs bouncing up and down to take my mind off the pain of each breath I became terrified that this was now my life. I didn’t want it. And they couldn’t give me any answers. Many bouts of pneumonia and infections and respiratory distress later and chronic pain that left me incapacitated on most days. A palliative care script was then introduced where the level of meds and relief is what is giving to someone who is dying. I kept asking if I was dying and the same answer was “your illness is extremely rare and we just don’t know what we are dealing with or how to best proceed. Nearly 4 years of this excruciating experience. Days literally felt like years and I have lost count of the amount of times I wished myself dead to have it done.

Jigs and reels, I eventually had my right lung removed in 2014 and this improved for a while until I caught another bout of pneumonia and ended up back on oxygen. Everything changed in January when I decided to switch from pharma to cannabis oil and from conventional food to a plant based diet.

Then I discovered a few weeks back I was pregnant for the third time. I was baffled and the doctor was baffled. So here I am at 29 with one lung trying to navigate pregnancy as best I can. What can I tel you about it? The nausea is the hardest part, the constant feeling of needing to puke. But it’s also a reassuring sign in a way. I notice that breathing is getting a little more difficult on uphill and long distance but I know that will be something of a struggle over the next few months as my one lung even though it’s operating at 100% it can still only do 50% of the work. This is where good old oxygen comes in, but not necessary just yet, thankfully! My heart pounds quite a bit, especially if I sit up to fast or bend over to pick something up, although I’m assured this is normal as the level of blood increases in your body during pregnancy. As a result of having my lung removed I have post pnemectomy syndrome where my windpipe and heart have completely shifted over to fill the empty space. My heart is now located near my right armpit and it has turned itself back to front. But that’s fine, it won’t kill me! Just a little extra pressure. 

I am so tired, I mean like a feel on the cusp of sleep the majority of the day, but for some reason I cannot sleep properly. My bump is starting to show a bit, I have been walking around with my jeans unbuttoned but with long enough tops to cover it… I can’t get away with that anymore so I’ve graduated to long dresses and I intend to invest in some maternity pants once I get the madness of back to school for my chappies out of the way! My boobs are sore all the time… the youngest gave me a hug the other evening and bumped his head off my right boob, my instinct was to kill, but instead I said my bloody boob! He was in stitches for ages. Since the lung removal my right breast is always sore due to nerve damage, coupled with the hormones causing pain there are days I want to rip it clean off my body. But then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror looking a bit buxom and I feel a little pleased that I now have boobs again after a long battle of not with my underweight issue. It’s not all bad….

My hormones are challenging, there’s days I’m angry but to myself, little things irritate me, not every day. I cry over anything touchy-feely, especially feel good things, although I fell apart when Mufasa died in the Lion King the other day… but it’s not all bad it balances out most of the time! I find myself happy a lot more which is a relief. I haven’t become an anxious mess like I thought I would, worrying about everything that could go wrong.

My bladder has resized itself and has decided now it needs to double and some days triple the amount of toilet visits per day… car journeys are tough, between nausea and seatbelt woes on boobs I try and avoid venturing too far. I have resigned myself to the fact of being a lazy moo for the next few months. I spend most of my time at home lying down, I was informed this is better for the baby, apparently it helps blood flow to the placenta bringing oxygen a little easier.

I can’t tolerate the smell of many things at the moment without gagging. If I cook, I most certainly won’t eat for a long time after. So I’m living on healthy enough throw together meals that don’t require much cooking effort. The kids have been awesome, I don’t give them enough credit but they are being so good and patient with all of this, I would be lost without them.

It was decided on Wednesday I have to inject myself every day with heparin it the stomach. This is to thin the blood to prevent a clot. I wasn’t sure about using this as I was concerned about how it would affect the fetus but I was assured it doesn’t pass through the placenta. A frank chat with the Prof and she ran through all the possibilities. So far it’s great I’ve gotten to ten weeks she said, the goal now is to get me to twenty, the pregnancy although high risk won’t kill me because they will be monitoring everything closely. She said ideally they will let me go as far as my body can handle it so if I can get past thirty five weeks they will look at induction then to prevent further strain on my body. But they don’t want to deliver any earlier than necessary. She said she cannot promise that it will all go smoothly and that we will have a baby by the end of it because this is rare and they are working off a very small group of women who have been in this position. I am the first one in Ireland they have dealt with. They promised the best possible care no matter what happens and that they will do everything they can along with the Mater Hospital and St Vincents. I’ve chosen to stop taking my cannabis oil during pregnancy to ensure that the baby has the best chance possible without having to work out any toxins, hence my trepadation even about the blood thinner…

I have had to start eating meat again for extra protein and iron but I don’t mind that so much, I will get back on track fingers crossed once peanut is born.

So… fingers crossed that it all goes well, although unplanned it was a happy blooper that we want very much. We are aware of the risks but also aware that it’s worth proceeding with. Whatever the outcome. We hope for a happy healthy baby by the end of it all, but no matter what, this little one is loved before it ever makes its entrance and has brought us all a new feeling of hope and positivity.

To my family, I’m sorry for being such a lazy cow, it’s only temporary I promise! Here’s to the next few months of trials and tribulations. Sorry for boring you but I will be posting regularly. Back up to Holles St and St Vincent’s in two weeks, in the meantime I’m just gonna keep grazing my way through… I’m craving cinnamon rolls…

Well… that escalated quickly…

So there I was on a Tuesday not able to drag my arse out of the bed, when I did I felt absolutely desperate. Hungover without the hangover… I was so tired I moved down to the living room couch, told the boy’s to stick on a movie and we’d watch it together, we’d have a lazy day. I kept dosing off and waking up and kept thinking fuck it, this is the beginning of an infection and I’m gonna be so sick… next thing the chap opened up a pack of cheese and onion crisps and the fastest I had moved all week I had to leg it upstairs to puke… Same thing Wednesday another lazy day, unable to stomach anything, sleepy, grumpy and getting worried… i began to lump extra fruits and veg into myself to try and feed my body with good stuff to fight what I thought was oncoming bad stuff…. Thursday came and it was an absolute pukefest from the moment I got up. A niggling feeling crept at me… period was late… could it be? 

Then I thought to myself “would ya ever fuck off, you pregnant, after the crap your bodies been through?! There’s more chance of you growing back a second lung…” all the same I couldn’t keep my eyes opened. The smell of everything was making me nauseous and I thought damn it I need to just make sure so off to the chemist, test was bought. Did it. Two blue lines. It was positive. I turned and puked out of shock. What the actual fuck. How? Well I knew how but the bigger how was how is my body going to cope with this?!

I rang my best friend, a woman I know I could trust with my life, and as I went on a snot fuelled rampage where I literally could hardly speak for sobbing it was all systems go with her supporting me to get the information I needed, to find out if this was something that was viable or not. If it wasn’t, then how would I go about addressing it. Another bestie contacted that evening offering support no matter what I needed and I felt totally overwhelmed but was given a lot of comfort to know I had someone to hold my hand if it came to the worst.

As most of you will know I’ve suffered lung disease, thankfully now, miraculously my remaining left lung is functioning at 100%. But I was also diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension which is something that is incurable, this is an increased level of blood pressure in the heart and lungs, the only cure eventually will be transplant of heart and lungs. My major concern was did I need to terminate this pregnancy to save my own life… if not then would my body be able to cope with it?

It was too late in the evening to contact the GP or respiratory team although I did try. The next day contact was made, the GP confirmed the pregnancy and congratulated me. “No no no this isn’t good” I responded. “I need to know if I continue with this will it kill me?” “Well it could, but even the healthiest women can die during pregnancy so I really can’t answer that, I advise you speak to your specialist.” “I have, ive an appointment for Monday” I said. “We’ll try not to panic until you know everything”… he offered to support me whatever the outcome after asking me what I ultimately wanted.

Absolutely petrified, we somehow muddled through the weekend, Monday came and my bestie and partner in crime always, Brian came with me for the hospital trip to St Vincent’s. Where I was given a lot of food for thought. But ultimately was told they couldn’t give me a definitive answer, that I would have to come back on Wednesday to see a pulmonary hypertension specialist in the Mater Hospital. Either way the pregnancy they felt would need monitoring. I left feeling uncertain as to whether this was something I could go through with but my heart wanted it, my brain was telling me to be sensible… if the pregnancy was too high risk then a termination was something I was entitled to under irish law as my life would be in danger… but we wouldn’t know this either way until Wednesday…

Wednesday came, back up to Dublin with Brian to hold my hand in the Mater to be tested inside out. The appointment dragged on for hours. Completely exhausted and a bag of nerves by the time 6pm came we  were ushered into the echo room. The halls were empty, all the outpatients had gone, my stomach was heaving, I didn’t have a good feeling… twenty mins later in came the specialist, an English chap with a lovely chirpy demeanour got me to strip down to my waist so he could scan my heart for the next twenty minutes while himself his junior doctor , myself and Brian stared at the screen hoping to have some good news. Hoping the pressures hadn’t in nothing had worsened since the last time. Many positions later he eventually told me to dress up. Shook my hand and said “congratulations, I’m not concerned, pressures are managed and low, you’re in good enough shape, besides you’ve had two already. I think you’ll be fine.” And with that a massive beam broke out on my face….

So it’s been just over a week since I found out… and to be honest I’m over the moon, I have told my nearest and dearest and have the support of those I love and who love me. I am hopeful that this pregnancy goes smoothly as possible and that there’s a healthy wee bundle at the end of it. But until that time comes, I’ll be taking it so laid back I’m gonna be horizontal for most of it. Thank you to my girlos who were there 100% when I needed it, talking sense and keeping me calm, you know who you are and I love you to bits for it. 

As one of the besties said it takes a tribe to raise a baby, and I know with my tribe, fingers crossed all going well, this child will be loved immensely and know what it is to belong to an amazing bunch of people. I couldn’t ask for a better family. And as for you Brian, thank you for sticking with me always and never giving in. Your support means the world to me, always has done and always will.

I told my boys today, over lunch and they were really excited, asking if they can pick names. Which was a relief! I remember when my Mam told me she was pregnant on our youngest bro when I was 9 I stopped speaking to her for days! (Sorry Mam!) but I doted on him when he came along.

This is truly unbelievable, my body is capable of such a feat after being through so much. Im asking all of you to please send all the good vibes you can! It’s still early days, I haven’t got an exact how far I’m gone until next week. But this as unplanned as it was, is loved already…

Fingers and toes crossed… I’ll be keeping ye posted boring you to tears with the progress, it’s something different to do this under these circumstances. But if it gives hope to another woman out there going through the same, sharing my story is worth it.

To my folks who understood when I rang them bawling for support… promising to support whatever the outcome. It means the world.

Much love to ye all.

I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M FUCKING PREGNANT! 

Here’s to the future whatever it may be…

Titch πŸ’™

That elusive question…

What should love feel like…?

I pondered this question lately, on reflection I was probably questioning the question too! My mind being a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas at any given moment, this question was something that I needed to find some half arsed answer to. Why? Because, my version of love and someone else’s can be worlds apart. Often when this is the case, we begin to feel “less than”. The second this happened, my first thought is always, am I expecting to much. To be fair I’m a pretty easy going person, I’ll always do my fair share sometimes even more without being asked. Or appreciated in some instances.

The Greeks define love as “the madness of the gods” and I interpret this to be a perfect analogy, for when we feel something so intensely for someone, we often push our own needs and wants to one side to ensure there’s are met. We don’t question it. We become people pleasers. In doing so, we expect that this person will reciprocate at least some of this. What happens when you become the ever giving and they become complacent. What happens when you finally wake up to the fact that you are being taken for granted and feel like nothing more than a convenience to their lives? Should you keep hanging in there in the hopes that some day you’ll feel appreciated or is it time to move on to someone who knows your worth?

As I sat there with two of my girlfriends, naturally the conversation gravitated towards the elusive conversation of men, for the two girls they had always chosen “bad boys” for me with the exception of a couple times, I always choose the “nice guys”. For the purpose of this blog I’ll explain what I define as both. 

A bad boy is a guy who wants you but on his terms. He doesn’t want anything too serious but wants you on command or when it suits him. He also wants you to fuck off when it suits him, giving little regard to your feelings. He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t do much to encourage your self esteem. He’s quite happy to sit back and let you do the work. He’s also quite happy to criticise when you don’t. He’s got an ego problem, this also equates into him pointing out how beautiful other girls are to you while having never complimented you in this way. It’s the guy that sees you as weak, the door mat and that you will always be there regardless. He sees you as being infatuated with him, this in turn creates a blanket of comfort for him as he assumes you are that desperate for his affection that you’ll do and put up anything to have it. He’s the guy that will think nothing of making you feel insignificant and he will often compare you to his previous women most like as a put down. He won’t make much of an effort to make you feel special. He’s the guy that has a problem with you speaking to other male friends. He’s jealous even though he says he isn’t. He’s possessive even though he isn’t that keen. There will always be times you are left second guessing yourself, unsure of where you stand, wanting more, wanting to walk and then fucking yourself up in knots because you can’t understand why you accept this behaviour when it’s not how you would treat them… yet you keep going back for more. This type of guy is no reflection on you as a woman. This guy is generally so insecure and lacking in self esteem that he behaves this way as it makes him feel in a position of power, where he is the one in control…

The nice guy, is the one who does those quirky little things to make sure you know he values you. He will compliment you even if you’ve just fallen out of bed with hair equivalent of a birds nest. He will always make you feel like you are the most important and beautiful woman in his world and every other woman comes secondary to this. He’ll pick up when you’re down and say or do something ridiculous to try and cheer you up. He’s the one that knows when you’ve had a tough day, and will make you sit down to relax while he takes care of everything. He’s the guy that after you’ve had a long day out and about when you come in the door will greet you with a hug, “sit down I’ll make you a cuppa” and tell you dinner is in the oven. He’s the guy that if you decide at a ridiculous hour you want to do something exciting, he’ll be all for that and join in your excitement with a unanimous “let’s have an adventure!”.

 I remember one night in particular with my boy’s dad, before we had the children, he picked me up when I finished my shift, it was late, “hey beautiful, whatcha fancy doing?” “Dunno, let’s drive to Galway” I joked. “You’re on he said, just need to fill up the car first” and at midnight we hit the road we drove through the worst fog practically creeping for literally hours, it took us 7 hours to make a journey that should’ve taken half that. But my point is he never said this isn’t fun, or this isn’t going to work, it was fun because we had each other’s company, chatting about everything and nothing, blasting out cheesy duets when a decent sort came on the radio. We arrived in Galway. Slept in the car for a few hours, had breakfast in a local cafe and then hit the road to Donegal to visit his father and partner. It was a great adventure. I have had this experience with one other person in my lifetime. Who loved spontaneous ideas and always wanted to create memories. 

I think we wouldn’t be asking ourselves this question if we felt that we were giving and receiving love in a way that we should. Nobody should ever not know where they stand for too long in a relationship. If he or she cuz lets be fair women are the same and I was one of those girls at a point that always gave less than she should, my reason for this was I didn’t want to give too much of myself in case I got hurt again. Maybe this is the case with the “bad boys”. To all of you stuck in these “half arsed relationships”, recognise your worth. If you’re current guy cannot or will not show you how much he cares, there’s a guy out there who will… don’t settle into something that is going to leave you feeling worse in the long run. If they can’t change this for themselves and you, they do not value the relationship enough to try make it work, it’s time you made that executive decision.

Writing this brings me back to another time a few years ago when one of my own boys asked me what love was…

Love… Huh?

So I got asked an intriguing question, probably one of the most difficult questions to answer that I’ve ever been asked by my then 8 year old son…

“Mam… What is love?”
As I took another bite out of my sandwich, I pondered for a few moments before realising that two pairs of young bright eyes staring intently at me waiting to be briefed with what “pearls of wisdom” they thought I had accumulated over the years. So I trepidatiously began the walk of hot coals…
For many years it was a question I had asked myself, but for a multitude of reasons. I often got confused as to why we weren’t the type of family to hug or tell each other we loved each other when myself and my siblings were growing up at home with our folks. And even though it was something that didn’t occur it was something I craved, as does every child. The first “proper hug” I had ever gotten was when I was 17, from my children’s father’s mother. She ran,over and grabbe me up in such an embrace that I genuinely froze, unsure of how to react. I stood there with my arms by my sides not embracing her back and not entirely comfortable with the invasion of my personal space. And in that moment, I felt warmth, the kind of warmth that just spread over me letting me know that this woman, albeit only after a few minutes of conversation, genuinely cared for me. I’ll always be grateful to both her and my ex-partner for showing me how to open my heart to allow love both in and out.
Love is irrefutable, it is intense, passionate and yet can hurt at times. It’s accepting a person in their entirety, flaws and all. But this is not knowledge that I have always had, this has only been impressed upon me particularly in the past ten years. And now that I know what it is to love and be loved truly, I can safely state that it will remain central in my life.
I explained to my two boys that there are different types of love. There’s the kind you feel when your baby enters the world, not always an immediate reaction for some but for me it was overwhelming and also for their father. It was an occasion where tears just erupted from us both out of pure joy. It was a joyful moment to hear their little lamb cries and look into their big beautiful eyes and instantly know, no matter how crazy drive me, I’m going to protect you with all of my being.
Then there’s the love that we feel for others, friends and family. The kind of love that you know you never want any harm to come to these special folks in our lives, so we strive to be there for them in whatever way we can. A shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, favours and good deeds and just doing something special to see a smile upon that persons face.
Then there’s the love that you often don’t intend to happen. That rush of pure exhilaration at knowing that in that moment you are IN LOVE. The ferocious tenacity of it feeding every fibre of your being. You’d practically walk to the ends of the earth for that special someone. It’s all consuming. It’s looking into the eyes of that person and knowing in that moment that you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Love feels like home. It’s what home should feel like. But no matter how I tried to answer the question for my sons, I felt that logic sometimes cannot effectively express something that is invisible and given and received in so many ways.
Love for me is happiness. Pure and simple. So, I back-tracked, unsure of how exactly to portray it. Then, I asked the question…
“What do you think love is?”
“Love is like having ice-cream on a sunny day and a cold day. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like cuz ice-cream is always a special treat and you can enjoy it even in the snow. It’s having a bedtime story every night. It’s getting a hug and kiss from you and dad. It’s being kept safe. It’s knowing that even if we do something really bad and even if you get really cross you’ll still forgive us. It’s having Lego (their puppy) lick your face. It’s having you bake a cake for our birthday. It’s dad sleeping over at our house on Christmas Eve so he can see what Santa brought us. It’s going out on day trips. Being allowed to have our friends over. Its buying you flowers. It’s drawing you and dad pictures and cards. It’s our family.”
And with that response, I felt blissful. To be the age I am now and understand that love should begin in the home. Our sons have grasped the concept of what it is almost 10 years before I did.
And I know when they’re awkward teenagers, who would rather do chores than be seen out in public with me, I’ll still be giving them that hug and kiss and telling them both that I love them to the moon and back.
Because after all… Love is home.
Titch πŸ’™

Anger… The Red Mist… whatever you call it… what does it solve…?

First of all, I want to say I’m guilty of having a bitch fit every now and then, although a few years ago these could range to many a day! Something simple, being late for an appointment, or spilling sugar while trying to put some into my much needed cup of coffee was enough to make me feel like a raging bitch that felt the whole world was pitted against me. It didn’t make me feel good, in fact I just about hated that so little could trigger me, in order to justify it I would blame it on what had happened or what someone said, rather than coming to the realisation that only I control my emotions. Nobody else! Easier said than done when you want to punch the wall or scream like a banshee when the latest fuck up occurs! 

It took me longer to realise that I might be angry over something someone had said or done, it took a while for me to connect the dots, that by me sitting there seething with fury, that wasn’t affecting the person I was feeling angry at. They were completely oblivious to my “plight” yet I was stuck on this hamster wheel, unable to step off or unwilling to. These happy-go-lucky people absolutely turned my stomach, I physically felt ill (even a little angry if I’m honest) that some people seemed to breeze through life as I interpreted it! Obviously I now know that this isn’t entirely true, some people have a nightmare but choose to put a bright face on it with an attitude of positivity because they realise to be anything else is burning up much needed energy, using it up on anger just ensures when you come to dealing with the next dilemma it is next to impossible. Why? Because you’ve already burnt yourself out giving too much of a damn to things that didn’t earn or deserve that much of your time and energy… but this is something that takes time to realise and something that we need to realise before we can begin to make those positive changes that we so need in our lives. In simple terms – it’s the first step in the process of becoming one of these happy-go-lucky feckers!

Negativity breeds negativity, if you’re first reaction is to explode the second something goes wrong, it sets off an anxiety in those around you, those who care but cannot do anything to appease how you react, that is in your hands. I am also guilty of this. I used to explode and have a rant and completely disregard the people in that space at that time and how it was impacting on them. My general reaction when someone used to explode around me was for me to shrink, to become so small I was almost invisible, afraid to make eye contact in case I then because the focus off their anger. I now realise this is the effect that I had in others when I carried on this way. Apart from making everyone around me uncomfortable, I was making myself ill without realising. All the anger was fuelling physical decline. Regardless of what you believe, mental and physical health are directly linked, if we feel crappy in our minds we will feel crappy in our bodies and visa versa. 

Does anger actually solve anything? My honest opinion is not directly, no… it serves as a catalyst if we direct it in a purposeful manner. So that thing or person you’re pissed off at… instead of having the rant, get proactive and decide how best you’re going to move forward, anger only serves to drag you backwards, the situation might have began in an unbearable manner, but your anger only serves to make it more so…

Who’s this benefitting? Not you that’s for sure! Nor those who are trying to help you pull yourself back up to start again. Speaking in anger is never wise. Things are said at we can no longer take back. That off the cuff sentence that might have seemed like a good idea to you at the time, can cut another so deep that there is no repairing that seed that you’ve planted. No matter how much you apologise, it doesn’t undo what has been done or said. I’m a massive believer that kind words cost nothing. This has come at a cost. I was once such a spiteful, angry, small minded individual. Why? Because I felt the world owed me something, terrible childhood, terrible teens, adulthood wasn’t shaping up to be much better, everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and the more it did, the angrier I became. Then what? I got sick, so sick that I was told I was dying. And then the anger became insatiable. I was furious. I couldn’t understand when I was going to get a break. Everything was doom and gloom and here I was literally being told I had nothing left to look forward to… 

I battled through this with the support of some amazing people, that I really don’t know how they tolerated me at this point in my life. I know I was unbearable. I didn’t deserve the understanding I was given from those who loved me enough to keep chipping away at my walls while I sat there just building them up twice as fast, afraid to let anyone in because I couldn’t take anymore pain…

I began to improve health wise after having my lung removed… but the anger was still very evident although not as much as when I was bed bound! Then less than a year on from this wondereous feat… I lost my best friend in the whole world, the one who stuck beside me no matter what. My boy’s dad, Mikey. He passed away in the middle of us having banter at his hospital bed. This was unexpected, and in a moment my whole world shattered. The anger rose within me as I felt this was the final straw and I literally couldn’t take anymore. At that point I wanted to die. I screamed at him to wake up, I got so angry that he had left me. I felt so afraid. That I literally couldn’t do this life on my own… the very thought of it set off a fear in me that to this day I have never experienced again nor would I wish to. But I do know if it wasn’t for my brother I wouldn’t be here today. I would’ve left that hospital and fired myself off the bridge or drove home and taken all my meds. More than anything in Sept 2015, I wanted to die. I didn’t want to face this world without my partner in crime.

We were due to be made homeless shortly after his burial, just before Christmas 2015. A routine appointment at the hospital led to me being brought in as an inpatient for the kids first Christmas without their dad and now their Mam couldn’t be there either. Without the support from an amazing group of parents at my boys school that year, Christmas wouldn’t have happened. They took care of Santa and let me focus on getting better, my friends cared for the boys as my family were in New Zealand. It was then I realised that no matter how angry I was, I wasn’t going to get home any faster. It wasn’t serving any purpose. It was time to literally snap the fuck out of it. I realised instead of spinning around on the hamster wheel, I could get proactive using the anger for purpose, and learning to change my situation through the right channels.

I became immersed in a new group of friends and activist comrades who have since very much become family. My life would not have changed without this amazing bunch of folks, and my own cop on! The anger now is driven towards changing a system that is unjust for everyone. But when I feel seething hatred for those who are pissing me off. I realise that instead of focusing energy on pointless arguments, it’s best to speak my mind, but in a respectful way. Make my point and then move on. I can’t change anything beyond that… 

So to all of you who are feeling an intense anger for pointless stuff, literally lads, get the feck over it because it’s only destroying yourself, your relationships with those who love you, it serves no purpose other than to keep you where you are. On that hamster wheel, with that chip on your shoulder, hating life…

Take it from me, someone who was that prick. Don’t be that person. Ooze positivity through positive thoughts. Instead of focusing on what is wrong, focus on what is going right and build on that. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor are we, we are a constant work of progress, if you aren’t constantly changing and learning you are wasting a wonderful gift of life.

Be that spectacular being that you are meant to be, reach your full potential and realise that no matter how tough things are, you can still have a great time with some epic peeps. Start the healing, find out what is hurting you and attempt to fix it, to begin living a life that you deserve. Your happiness in in your own hands, nobody else’s… πŸ˜‰

Titch 

πŸ’™

An Open Letter to My Soulmate…

Hey you,

It’s been a while since I got all “gooey”… let’s call it romantic, because it sounds nicer! I know as I type this, that I will have a million things that I want to say but I won’t think of it until after I’ve posted this or am afraid to put down in writing because my mind, when thinking of you hit a speed that I cannot keep pace with, purely out of excitement more than anything, at prospects…

It came quite quickly the intensity, trust and instinct. That’s what scared me, the fact that I could feel so much, so deeply for someone I barely knew but felt like I knew a lifetime. This was a difficult prospect to grasp, I’m normally the one that needs to know where they stand. It creates a great anxiety in me knowing that so much ammo has been awarded to you to throw back at me if you should ever see fit. You’ve done the same for me. We’ve effectively handed each other the bullets to destroy one another; each of us with a metaphorical gun that we can load up anytime. The irony is that I would gladly continue to pass you these bullets as there is nobody I would rather have fire them back at me. I feel safe knowing that it’s you holding them, for I know that you’d never intentionally use them to hurt me in any way… this has been a slow realisation, we have both experienced pain, we have both experienced hurt that has torn us asunder, where we’ve been lost and unsure of how to begin to repair what seems insurmountable. We have done it though, we have taken the blows that were dealt and continued to pick ourselves up. We are too stubborn to give in.

I see in you someone who wants to be loved, to give love, yet is afraid of both. I understand this, your fears mirror my own. I don’t know how best to let you know that no matter what, I am always here, even if it isn’t close to perfect none of that matters, what matters is that we support one another in moving forward in the best way possible. This may be where we bicker, or sulk with one another, lost in our own worlds of emotions but colliding momentarily. Coming together to create a spectacular force that can overcome whatever it encounters.

Maybe it’s that goofy way you look at me, with your eyes lighting up when I walk into a room. That cheeky grin that states everything that your words don’t. It’s enough to let me know what you’re thinking. I love that there are often no words needed yet we can communicate with each other through a simple look, it’s a connection that even as friends we will never lose. I imagine over a lifetime there will be pivotal moments and inside jokes shared as our eyes connect, that look that says, “hey save me, we need to get outta here!” or the look that states “do you remember when we were laughing about this?!” 

It wasn’t an immediate depth of feeling, but there was an immediate connection, a drawing that pulled me in, I wanted to learn more. The more I learned the quicker that I came to the realisation that with you, I could share anything, the deepest darkest corners of my mind. I think you realised the same. These conversations dwindling on into the birds singing and us immersed in one another’s worlds, sharing thoughts that I would never share with anyone else, a side that came out in your company. Like standing on a cliff, letting yourself fall backwards but somehow not fear it because you know there’s a safe landing, not to fix my hurt but to sit by me and support me in that hurt to enable me to fix myself and visa versa. You’ve hugged away pain without realising. More than you ever know I am extremely grateful to have been thrown into your life and you mine.

How I feel for you frightens me, I want the best for you, would struggle with someone hurting you and would feel your pain when you are hurting. I don’t own you nor you me, secretly there is an unspoken bond that has already decided this to be untrue. You’ve opened up in me a side that I don’t share with many, as open as I am I always keep that side of me to myself. I don’t like embracing my vulnerability, most certainly not with anyone else! Who wants anyone to know just how deluded they are… πŸ˜‰

Yet, here we are, still sharing fears, looks, fun, seriousness and the amalgamation of emotions that bring us to a deeper level of understanding. I don’t think at this point there hasn’t been much that we haven’t shared. I love that I see a side of you that nobody else gets to. I understand how difficult this was for you to open up in this way, part of me is still in awe that you chose me to open up to. There is no judgement between us, this is something that is appreciated and cherished by both of us. 

There are times I’m a pain in the arse and so are you, there is no denying that, there are days you’re grumpy with me and me with you, sometimes for valid reasons and sometimes for none! This is quickly remedied, although arguably it is like having a debate with myself whenever we disagree, although it doesn’t happen often and when it does we often find a way of bringing it to a point to where we end up laughing over it, teasing one another for our ridiculousness. I think these are few and far between. Our is the kind of bond that speaks what many wish they had… love is not just words, it’s actions, this is something that we have found a balance in. As manly as you try to be you’re an incredibly generous person with your time, emotion and commodities. I love this about you that you are able to create a feeling of safety with a few simple words. 

It’s a “just checking in” kinda caring, that simple message to say “Hey, have a great day!”, it’s the “hey babe, have you eaten today?”, it’s the hug and the kiss on seeing each other, with that goofy grin that speaks volumes. It’s the “I love you” before we depart. It’s the way we don’t go to bed without having made up or talked it through. Its in the way that we notice what the other needs, they little “hey, I thought you could use this so I got it for you” thinking about each other kinda thing… it’s the jokefest kinda love, where you or I come out with ridiculous statements by accident or on purpose but bringing a level of fun with it that has us doubled over in stitches. It’s the wipe away tears and hug always pain kinda closeness… it’s they way in which we always want the best for one another and those we love. Its a place where I can get lost for hours that culminate into days… not wanting it to end.

It’s the way in which we realise that most things will be ok eventually but not everything. There’s times that you will put up a really good fight and still lose. There’s times that we will hold on really tight while realising that the best decision is to let go. In these battles we will prop one another up, I’ve no doubt.

It’s in the way that I feel when I am near you. Makes me realise that this is something work taking a chance on… the realisation is there that this is not going to be easy, if anything there are days where this is going to be so difficult that we wonder if there is any point. These are days that we will have to work on it to try fix the issues that feel insurmountable at times. I’ve no doubt that this is something we can accomplish. But I want the good days as well as the bad. Because I want all of you. Thank you for showing me something that is true magic, just know that no matter what happens in adventure, I’ll always be here to laugh with you about it when the mayhem subsides! 

My soulmate, you’ve shown me a different way… thank you for bringing me to this point…

Hate you πŸ˜‰
Titch πŸ’™

Friends and Stonerology by Candlelight – Farewell Lung Partyο»Ώ

I was walking along the town last week with a friend when we bumped into another friend. A friend who has been kicking cancers ass. As we stopped to chat, I asked him how he was getting on with everything as I knew he had shaken things up, sticking to plant based diet and using cannabis oil. He proceeded to tell me that he had been given a call to go to hospital to have his left lung removed. As we chatted briefly about it, I wanted more than anything to be able to appease the anxiety I could see in his eyes which he was trying to divert by the smile on his face. He asked a few questions about what lung removal would be like, so I told him a little bit about my own experience, but reminded him that everyone was going to have advice, the best thing to do was to do what felt right for YOU! He explained that it all seemed very surreal still, it hadn’t properly sunk in. I could understand this, I remember when I was told that this was happening I went partially deaf to everything else. Even though the surgeon was still speaking, I didn’t really hear much else beyond “lung removal” and neither did my friend in his case! As we said our goodbyes, we embraced, squeezing each other tightly for longer than usual, the hug speaking more than I ever could. “I know you’re scared, but hang in there” I said and he squeezed tighter. I wanted more than anything to take the fear away… so I decided if I couldn’t do a whole lot, the least we could do was host a little get together to try and keep the minds occupied with a bit of banter!

So we decided to throw a party to celebrate… a Farewell Lung Party if you will! The FAREWELL LUNG! was made, a very informal invitation was sent and some food was put together both veggie and meat and of course the obligatory sweet treats although we tried to keep balance, with fruit and nuts to munch on in between, for a little get together among friends who are as good as family. In the midst of making a batch of guacamole the guests rocked in, we all awkwardly stood in the kitchen for a few moment, unsure of what to say to each other, passing pleasantries not wanting to say anything to ruin a good time. The host showed the guest into the living room and I made it my mission to keep keep piling food into the living room to make sure everyone was fed. Wine started to flow and of course the obligatory cannabis sesh kicked off among us circle of hippies πŸ˜‰ the conversation began to flow more freely between our small group, Bob Marley tunes filling the background.

I sat down to have my veggie curry next to our guest of honour and we had a frank chat about the experience of having your lung whacked out! It was a positive conversation, even with the seriousness of the topic we still found things to laugh about in between. Here he was this absolute legend keeping the good side out, we all agreed that the most important thing in this was to keep a positive mental attitude, I firmly believe that’s more than half the battle, then healthy food and plenty of rest! 

Darkness began to creep in as we all got lost in conversation in true hippie style as we had no electricity we lit up tea lights placing them around the house, the atmosphere was perfect to get lost in some of the greatest philosophical conversation I’ve had in a long time, as Sheeva the dog annihalated stick after stick, Arthur insisting she’d be shitting toothpicks for a week judging by splintered wood all over the floor! Wined out, we moved on to tea and cannabis, and the conversation deepened with relentless teasing between us. Arthur’s brother in the middle of teasing him, then inhaled a good mouthful of tea and began to splutter everywhere, we all laughed as we judged it karma, he looked at his brother cheekily and said you’re a fine one to be talking! The discussion ranged from, quantum physics, how we are all atoms working in conjunction with one another, politics, basic income, media influence, medicinal cannabis, what the future holds for our youth, the illuminati, one world order and Schroedinger’s Cat which completely blew my mind! This is where a cat, a flask of poison and a radioactive source is put into a box. When the monitor detects radioactive decay, the flask shatters poisoning the cat,  based on quantum mechanics the cat is classed as being both simultaneously alive and dead at the same time. It is only when the box is opened and viewed by someone that the cat appears either alive or dead but no both. Before viewing it is both. This was a complete mind fuck! We then moved onto how screwed America is and before we knew it we were moving into the wee hours of the morning but still deeply immersed in conversation. We all laughed so much, it was an absolutely amazing night amongst friends. We coined the phrase “stonerology”, promising to do it again soon…

At 3.30am we decided to call it a night and hit the road as out guest of honour had to be up bright and early to make his way to the hospital. Driving everyone home was quiet, there was a lot of food for thought, hugging each other tightly at each drop off we promised to see one another soon. Blessed to have such amazing people in our lives…

This morning I spun over at 6.30am to be with our warrior before he headed down for the op at 7.30. He was in good form, taking the piss out of himself. We had a little bit of  a serious conversation but mostly trying to keep it light. Arthur got gowned up and then allowed me the privilege of taking a photo to show the world his sexy pressure stockings! All set up on the trolley to head to theatre we gave each other a tight squeeze, holding on tightly, no words needed… as we both left the hug he cheekily grinned and said “I’ll see you on the other side either way!” “That you will my friend, I’ll be here to annoy you when you wake up!” and off he went, keeping a grave smile on his face, pure determination in those eyes as he headed up to completely kick cancers ass! An absolute hero…

All the good vibes in the world buddy, we’ll be seeing you soon, you got this πŸ’™ 

Totally rocking those stockings! πŸ˜‰

Titch ☺️

#FuckCancer

A gargantuan request – and little old me…

As I sat speaking to a very special friend of mine, my phone buzzed with a number I didn’t recognise… I picked up the phone to answer expecting that it was another person amid a housing crisis issue as the phone has been almost manic the past few weeks with requests. “Aaaawwwrrriiiight TITCHY!” came the booming greeting! In my weirdness I responded with the same accent “Awwwwriiight, WHO’S THIS?!” –

A friend I hadn’t heard from in a long time. An absolutely inspirational hero that has literally been through hell and back for the majority of their life time. I nearly burst I was so happy to hear from him. “Well kinda ringing for the sociable but kinda not at the same time Titch, I’m afraid I’m calling in that favour that we spoke of way back when, d’ya remember?” 

I didn’t, this was a friend that I had many long winded conversations about life with, someone who always guided me in the right direction when I was an anxious mess and unable to overcome the hurdles in my life, this favour could have been anything! Although I knew that I would grant it as this person means the world to me. “You know I’m not well girl, and you know how I hate to be lying around feeling sorry for myself… well the time has come. I’m checking out…”

As I stood there on the phone listening to him describe this with a jovial voice, I felt my knees slightly buckle. I wanted to shout “BUT I DONT WANT YOU TO GO!” Instead I found a feeble “oh fuck…” come out of my mouth as my heart raced and my body felt weak at the thought that my friend was telling me they were ready to die, but on their terms. More than that, they wanted me present, to have a cuppa, a chat, and sit with him until he did what he had to do… I felt sick, I could feel the tears pooling in my eyes. I felt like I wanted to hang up the phone and bounce it off the wall and start screaming about how unfair life was. But instead I listened and as he tried to cheer me up by filling me in on the trials and tribulations of hospital life that led him to checking himself out, out of complete frustration, I found myself laughing along with his anecdotes. I discovered the more I spoke to him that he wasn’t afraid that he was at peace with his decision… so I agreed to be his companion and company for the night until he did what he needed to do to find peace. He gave me a time to arrive and we ended the conversation. 

As I returned back to the living room of my friend, they stood up gave me a warm hug and I tried hard not to cry. I was telling myself that I’ll be fine… this was his choice not mine to make. I think my friend picked up on my need to cry because as we both sat on the couch he wrapped me up in his arms and held on tight telling me it would all be ok. With that, the floodgates opened and I sobbed for a bit, unsure as to whether or not this was something I could go through. But knowing full well that my conscience wouldn’t let me back out. I spoke to my friend about this over a cup of tea, they were supportive but wanted to make sure that I was ok with what was happening. After a lengthy conversation, I hit the road to make it to my friend for their final journey…

As I walked in the door, he was sitting in his usual spot, pink floyd blasting and the smell of cannabis and insense wafting through the air. “TIIIIITCHHHYYY! FUCKING GREAT TO SEE YOU GIRL YOU LOOK A MILLION YO-YOS! C’MERE N’ GIVE YOUR OLD PAL A HUG,” we embraced tightly and I started to cry again. “Hey c”mon now, you know what it’s like girl, we reach a point and that’s it, BOOM, DONE! You know I’m fine with it. I can’t let this monster take me it has to be on my terms…” as I went to turn the tunes down so we could talk, he boomed “NO IF I ONLY GET ONE MORE CHANCE TO ANNOY MY NEIGHBOURS THEN WE’LL LEAVE IT PUMPING, IF THEY ARENT HALOY WITH IT, LET THE, KNOCK, ITS NOT LIKE ITLL BE HAPPENING AGAIN!” 

“I’ll make the tea so” I said grinning, hitting 60 he was still very much that skin head youth from his hay-day, the rebel, the I-don’t-give-a-fuck-what-you-think-of-me, the fuck-the-establishment-anarchist, and even though he was full of bravado, his eyes told me that he was scared, even if he was too “macho” to give that away in the moment. 

As I was stirring in the honey into the cups I could hear Bohemian Rhapsody take over the speakers and I smiled, I knew what this meant. This meant he was expecting a sing-along… this was “our tune” as I went out to the living room I took my place behind the drum kit and he took up his bass and we blasted from the top of his lungs and the top of my one lung the tune with such vigour it lead to sufficient head banging for the chorus… “You’ve not lost it girl, now pick a fuckin’ tuuune and let’s have a little sess, clear the cobwebs and then we’ll get down to business! As I hooked up the iPad to the aux cable, he put his hand on my arm and I turned to look at him. “This means the world to me girl, you’re one in a fucking million, and d’ya know I’m fuckin’ petrified. When I get to the other side I’ll be looking out for you…” “You’d do the same for me bud, honestly, no thanks needed, I just want you to be happy…” 

“You’re a fuckin’ angel girl, now pick a decent track!” So I hit the playlist and chose Snow Patrol “This Isn’t Everything You Are…” I drummed, he bassed, we both sung, rolling into The Killers – Mr Brightside and finishing with Matchbox 20’s – 3AM… we gave it our all and I loved it, I could tell he was too. Getting lost in the music and not feeling anything other than that.

As we rounded up we went into his room and he went through the boxes of medicine he had been stockpiling for the occasion. He laid it all out on the bed and then he sat on the bed himself, put his head in his hands and cried, big heaving sobs, asking out loud “what did I fucking do in life to deserve this? I was a good dad, I was a good husband, I was a good worker, I helped anyone I could, why am I suffering…?” I sat beside him and held him tightly as he cried, and I cried and we both spoke frankly about life and death, what I meant and the importance of making sure he had done everything he wanted to do in this life before passing onto the next.

So, a decision was made. Not to take the medication. Not yet. Instead we sat there and I helped him form a “bucket list” of a  a few things he wished to do before he is gone. We did have a good laugh at a few of the,  I won’t repost them here for fear of retribution when he gets them done, but I will say watch this space they will give you a good giggle…

When we finished the list he said “one more tune” so we did, Johnny Cashs – Hurt, another cuppa or three and a lot of banter. As it came nearer the time to leave, he looked at me sincerely and thanked me for not leaving him alone in his decision. He said that the loneliness was what scared him the most. He told me that this wasn’t a decision not to do it but rather to live out the bucket list and then get “back to business” as he put it. As we embraced one last time I promised him I would always be there. And he retorted with a “don’t worry I’ll be calling on you again, jamming session before I go out, what better way to make it there?!” We both smiled at one another and hugged one more and then I left…

As I drove home I shook, and I cried, and I thanked Michael for giving me the opportunity to see my friend again before he went anywhere. But in that I became angry. Because I recognise the pressure that is put on a chronically ill person who is literally pushed to the brink of not being able to suffer anymore. I’ve been there. I’ve had other friends who’ve been there and have chosen this route. Not out of depression but out of a decision to want to take control of the situation and go on their terms. I wholly agree with this principle, your body, your life, your choice. And I know my decision will be the same in years to come when I’m given my “marching orders”, and I can only hope I’ll have a friend who would be willing to see me out ’til the end. Euthanasia should be made legal in this country. People should have a right to choice when it comes to prolonging the suffering or choosing to opt out. I became angry that this was not a choice my friend or any of my other friends I’ve lost over the years have had when they choose to go. If you don’t want the illness to take you, you should have every right to control those circumstances and not be prevented from doing so by some archaic religious beliefs that are legislated for… we never know what is going on in anyone’s life, or the suffering that they are experiencing on a daily basis. I’m glad my friend decided to hang on in there to get up to a bit of devilment but I know it’s only a matter of weeks before he will call on me again. I’m honoured in a way to think that I am the company he would choose. I think the law becoming involved in such a choice is abhorrent and cruel. 

Things need to change… people who are chronically ill are some of the most marginalised in our communities, I was the once too… kind words cost nothing. Make sure to check in from time to time. But most of all support the decisions of those making them for their own reasons. Who are we to judge a path we aren’t walking?

Lots of love,

Titch πŸ’™