October’s Swings and Roundabouts

I can’t believe how fast the year is moving on, and that it’s almost November already. I’ve had a bit of a mixed October, truth to tell. You just never know what’s in store for you, and maybe that’s a good thing.

Hull Fair (Wikipedia)
Hull Fair (Wikipedia)

The month started in its usual fashion. October isn’t my favourite month. I don’t look forward to the clocks going back an hour, and leaving work in the darkness isn’t my idea of fun. Even the prospect of Europe’s largest travelling fair arriving in Hull doesn’t cheer me up much, because I rarely go these days. Hull Fair was only something to look forward to with great excitement when I was a child. As a parent of young children it was something that had to be budgeted for – those rides did not come cheap, and nor did the food and toys that inevitably had to be purchased before we could leave, trailing five tired but happy children behind us. Now I’m older, I can’t stand the thought of shuffling down a jam-packed street, full of stalls and caravans, barely able to move forward for the crowds of people. Not to mention all the noise and bright lights blaring from  the rides. No thanks. The only thing I like about the fair is the brandysnap, and since my daughter was going she offered to buy me a bag of it, so no need to venture anywhere near, thank God.

I’d been cutting out sugar all October, so I asked her to hang on to the brandysnap until November. I was surprised how easy I was finding it to give up the sweet snacks. DH and I had decided to do our own version of Stoptober, giving up junk food instead of cigarettes (I don’t smoke and the chances of him quitting are zilch) and we were doing well, but the best laid plans and all that…

One morning last week, I woke up at 3am, and realised I was in pain. It was right in the middle of my tummy, and I wondered if it was something I’d eaten. I don’t like taking painkillers if I can possibly avoid it, so I struggled to get back to sleep for half an hour, but it wasn’t going away. Reluctantly, I headed downstairs, took two paracetamol and filled a hot water bottle and went back to bed. I eventually fell asleep, but within a couple of hours I was awake and in pain again. DH was awake by then, so we went downstairs and I topped up the hot water bottle and tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. By 7.45 I felt bad enough to ring work and tell them I wouldn’t be coming in. By lunch time, I was in enough pain to start panicking. The pain had moved to the lower right hand side of my abdomen, and I had a horrible feeling I knew what was happening. When I couldn’t get upstairs without crying out in agony at every step, I knew I couldn’t mess around any longer.

flowers from mum and sister
flowers from mum and sister

By some miracle, I managed to get an appointment with my GP that afternoon, and a quick examination later, I was on the way to A & E with a letter from my doctor clutched in my hand. I was in that department for five and a half hours, during which time I had bloods taken, a canula fitted, tubes carrying IV antibiotics and painkillers attached, and had been examined and prodded by three further doctors, who were all pretty certain it was appendicitis, but felt it necessary to jab me right on the site of the pain, just to make sure. Eventually, I was admitted to the ward. By this time it was midnight, and I was nil by mouth, as it was thought I would be having an operation the next day.

The following morning, after reluctantly donating what seemed like an armful of blood, and having been turned into a human pin cushion, I had a CT scan which confirmed the diagnosis, and I was told I’d be operated on that day. I waited and waited, signing a consent form and continuing to be nil by mouth while my “ward mates” drank tea and scoffed their meals, and finally, at half past eleven at night, the anaesthetist came to see me, to talk me through the procedure, and explain the risks. She’d just gone off to see the ward sister when the surgeon arrived to tell me that the operation was being cancelled. He said that, due to a shortage of staff after midnight, they didn’t like to carry out these procedures, unless it was life or death, at that time of night, but would schedule me for the next morning. I could have something to eat and drink, and then be nil by mouth again from 2am.

The nurse brought me a cup of tea and some cheese and crackers, and it was the finest meal I’d ever had. By then I was starving. Due to our attempts at Stoptober, I’d fasted the day before the pain started. On the day I went to the doctor’s, I’d only managed a few spoonfuls of cereal first thing that morning, as I felt sick, and then I’d been nil by mouth. All told, I’d not eaten or drunk anything for around forty-two hours, and believe me, the intravenous fluids were no match for a cream cracker and a chunk of Cheddar!

I was taken down to theatre at around three in the afternoon, and text DH to let him know. Unfortunately, an emergency came in, and I was told the operation was being postponed for a couple of hours, so I was left on the trolley waiting. I couldn’t let anyone know but I assumed someone would have told them back on the ward. They hadn’t. My “ward mates” were chewing their nails wondering what the hell was taking so long, and poor DH and my kids were having nervous breakdowns. I, meanwhile, was having a nice chat with a friendly little nurse and a rather lovely New Zealand ex-rugby player with a broken leg, who was lying on the trolley next to mine, while we flicked through the channels on the television remote, arguing about what to watch. He wanted to see some cookery programme, which personally I thought was just cruel, considering how long we’d been starved. We both agreed that Jeremy Kyle was the one thing we’d never want to see. We eventually settled on The Big Bang Theory, although he got carted off for his op and missed it, and the friendly little nurse talked all the way through it, but hey ho. I finally had my operation at half past five the following evening, and by eight o’clock the next morning I was having breakfast and, apart from a headache, I felt absolutely fine, if a bit sore.

Write Romantic flowers
Write Romantic flowers

I was discharged that afternoon, and headed home feeling a bit shell-shocked at how quickly everything had happened, and how suddenly appendicitis had come on. I’d been fine all day, and gone to bed feeling perfectly well. It was astonishing how quickly it flared up – although, looking back, I had been a bit nauseous for a couple of days. On the plus side, I’d had a lot of fun playing with the electric bed and recreating the scene in The Simpsons – “Bed goes up, bed goes down” – and I was home in plenty of time for Doctor Who.

So, unexpectedly, I had a sick note for two weeks off work. I’m still sore, and don’t feel a hundred per cent, but it’s not been as bad I expected. I was lucky. I know two members of my family who really suffered badly when they had appendicitis, so I feel I got off lightly, all told. I also couldn’t have wished for kinder, calmer, lovelier nursing staff. They were absolutely delightful and I’m so grateful to them.

I was treated to a lovely bunch of flowers by my mum and sister when they came to see me the following day. As if that wasn’t enough, the next day, a gorgeous basket of flowers arrived, with love from my Write Romantic buddies. I was so touched and they really cheered me up. Then, just yesterday, another huge bouquet arrived, complete with a  box of chocolates, from all my mates at work. They’ve all been really lovely, considering how short staffed they are, and how much pressure they must be under with me adding to their burden.

flowers from colleagues
flowers from colleagues

With my wounds healing and my discomfort lessening – in spite of the rather fetching surgical stockings that I have to wear for six weeks – I thought October would settle down. But no. The next thing was that our daughter’s little Cavalier, Rosie, was taken seriously ill. At eleven years old, she’d done very well for a dog of that breed, having no weight issues and only starting to have health problems in the last year. She has heart failure and has been on medication for some months, but has always kept her inquisitive nature and been almost as lively as ever. I’d bought Rosie when she was just eleven weeks old, but when my daughter left home, she took her with her, as she couldn’t bear to be parted from her, and she took our other dog, Jake, with her, too, as Rosie couldn’t bear to be parted from him, leaving us with our German Shepherd. However, we still see Rosie and Jake whenever we visit our daughter, who doesn’t live far away, and she’s still very much part of our family. So when we heard that Rosie had been rushed to the vet’s we were very worried. The news wasn’t good. The vet explained that she had only days to live, and it would be kinder to put her to sleep. My daughter and daughter-in-law brought her round to say goodbye, and we all cried. It was hard to believe she could be so ill, as she was still wandering round the living room, sniffing every corner, wagging her tail at us. But the vet had found a very feeble pulse, and her gums had been white. He said that her heart couldn’t physically do the work it was supposed to do any more.


Rosie went back to the vet at 7pm and DH and I watched the clock with tears in our eyes, feeling sick. Imagine our amazement when, just twenty minutes later, Rosie was carried back into our living room, and we learned that she’d made a miraculous recovery. The vet thought she must have had a heart attack that morning, which had caused the problem, but she was now trotting round, with her pulse back to normal and her gums pink again. Unbelievable! This time we all cried for joy. Personally, I think it must have been the steak that they treated her to as her “last supper”.

Since then, Rosie has had a couple of days of feeling tired, and she’s wearing special doggy nappies due to the tablets she’s on making her incontinent, but she went to the vet again today, and he’s happy with her. She’s tucking into scrambled egg and enjoying all the fuss. We know she may not have long, but for now she’s had a reprieve, and we couldn’t be happier.

Finally, my last news for now is that, on Thursday 22nd October, my first pocket novel for People’s Friend appeared in the shops. All Because of Baxter is on sale right now, and it’s about how a dog can change your life for the better, in the most unexpected ways. That has never seemed more appropriate!

I had dreamed about going to WH Smith and seeing my book on the shelves,

All Because of Baxter
All Because of Baxter

but, unfortunately, I wasn’t up to going into town. However, it was great to see it in our local supermarket, and I snapped up three copies. My mum went to WH Smith and bought the very last copy! She then went to Asda and bought another three copies, and to another shop where she got the last two copies. These have been duly distributed to her neighbours and some of our relatives. Bless her, she’s my biggest fan. She was pretty disgruntled to discover, however, that no matter how many copies she sold for me, I wouldn’t be paid any extra! I can’t explain the sense of achievement I felt, seeing my name on a People’s Friend pocket novel. I don’t know if it’s because People’s Friend is such a big and well-respected brand, or if it’s because I could finally see one of my books on an actual shelf in a physical shop, rather than on screen in Amazon’s virtual store. Maybe it was a combination of both. I know it delighted my mum that she could go into a shop and see a novel with her daughter’s name on it sitting there.

So that was my October, and there’s still a week to go! Stoptober went out of the window, as I’ve eaten loads since getting home from hospital, so I may have to do it all over again next month. I hardly dare think what may happen before I turn the page of the calendar and we head into November. Let’s hope the eleventh month will be a bit quieter all round! 🙂

Have a great week xxx

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