Sunday, December 23, 2007

Greetings of the season

Dear readers,
if there are any of you left (?!) excuse me for letting this blog slow to almost a halt.

The Mickel Therapy has helped me beyond my meagre expectations this year, and yet there are still times that I find it profoundly challenging. I won't dissect it all here, but perhaps that is why I am hiding from the blog - the second half of the race is still difficult for me, and I am doing the best I can, behind the scenes. Perhaps I'm too good at getting in my own way (?!)

Next year will bring changes and I will update as plans unfold. Maybe I will try to update at the end of each month, so people know when to check.

Apologies for not sending off any Christmas cards and it was good to receive a few. Next year, I'll get on the case. Here's a link to an animated card site that my nieces love. You can see free preview cards with lovely animation.

Happy Christmas - may you find yourself in the woolly jumper of contentment and the pantaloons of peace.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

M&S, S&M

My dear friends, Stuart and Marisa got married in New York. May happiness reign upon them!


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Oh, Readers of Blog, excuse my absence, if indeed you are still here. Things have been busy, which is, of course, fabulous. Most recently I was out on a filming day with the friendly wee film company. Myself and a camera man attended a local fashion show and did our best to get some decent footage. Well, he looked through the camera and I just chirped in with the odd suggestion. Oh, look, there's Kirsty Wark, etc...

We were there to film outfits in Harris Tweed, but the shocker of the evening happened when a model's hair caught fire. Thank the Lordio that she was okay in the end. She was a gorgeous black girl with a stunning Afro, and a candle caught her hair from behind. The flames shot up a foot high (flammable hairspray) and the audience screamed. The model took a couple of seconds to realise what was happening before a bouncer leapt on the stage and started slapping down the flames. I think they wrapped her head in a heavy curtain to put out the fire.

Subsequent models kept coming on to the stage but the audience couldn't relax until the hair-fire model came on again at the end, wearing a Harris Tweed coat. You could smell the burnt hair and see her Afro clumped like a matted poodle at the back, but she strutted beautifully, gave one last turn and blew the audience a kiss, as we whooped and cheered in relief.

The fashion show was for a great cause - Maggie's Centres, built to help support people with cancer and their relatives in a non hospital setting.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nearly November

Lordy, it's been so long since I blogged, I almost forgot my blogger password. Life has been flying past - I find that time has the illusion of speeding up in late autumn as you think, jeeze, it'll be Christmas in a few weeks. The Mince pies are on buy one, get one free already.

I'm still enjoying the trial placement at the Friendly Wee Film Company. Okay, so that's not their name, but I can describe them as such. As it's voluntary, I can still come and go without being stressed up to my eyelashes. That's a treat reserved for the real working world. Will I get there one day? Who knows.

I met an ME acquaintance on the street recently and when he asked me how I was, I told him that the Mickel Therapy was still helping me. He looked wholly skeptical (as I was initially) and I could tell it was not the answer he was looking for. I'll bring you down to earth a bit, he joked, you looked just like your mum there. Politics, huh?


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two films

This weekend I saw a big-budget film called Rendition which looked good and turned out to be awful, and a tiny-budget film called Once, which looked like a gamble and turned out to be gorgeous. Click here for one of the songs with film clips.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In praise of soft water

The first thing I like to do on return from England is to get my own hair back by washing it in soft Scottish water. When I wash it in Birmingham's hard water it becomes hair I don't recognise - dry hair that clumps together and resists a comb. Like doll's hair. Now it flows freely again!

I'm fairly exhausted but I enjoyed the trip to see my sister and her family. It was good that Nice Man was able to join us there. My niece who is nearly four has an amazing vocabulary. She'll ask the meaning of words all the time. What's vicious? What's basic? What's mating season? Ah, national treasure, David Attenborough causing parents everywhere to choose their words carefully...


Friday, October 05, 2007

Hey Ricky, one more time...

Occasionally I'll have a look at the stats for my blogarithm and I still get most hits from people who have searched for 'Ricky Gervais and ME /CFS'.

In terms of this year's health progress, my rant in January (one month into Mickel Therapy) and follow up here and here - seems such a long time ago. I was so offended by Ricky's ME-is-for-weaklings routine. Now, in a strange way, I'm not at all. It's like when people make religious jokes and the religious people get outraged and those with less attachment to any religion see it as 'quite funny, actually' without it being too malicious. If a religion is strong or true enough it should be able to withstand a bit of satire.

As for Ricky's routine, I don't feel the need to take up a defensive position any more. People can and do laugh at everything and anything. It's a relief when life isn't a series of battles and defences. Defending takes up so much mental that could be used to get out and look at trees instead. Oh, how I love those autumn trees.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Her with the big ears?

On Friday, I'm off on my bi-annual pilgrimage to visit my two cute nieces in Leamington Spa. If you google image search Leamington Spa you get this curious photo, which is slightly more interesting than a regency terrace, so that's what your getting, folks.

I'm still enjoying my part-time placement at the film company. It's small scale but it's rewarding to have a sense of purpose, not to mention ample post-it notes and several shades of high-lighter pens to choose from. When the phone rings it's for the others in the office, so I can see I'll have to forge contacts so people will have reasons to phone me. I phoned a girl today in a fashion design house whose name had the Italian pronunciation of Cecilia (Che-chile-a). I asked for Chinchilla by mistake.



Saturday, September 29, 2007


In my vain struggle to 'combat the signs of ageing', I spent £32 on a 3 for 2 offer of that talked-about Boots face cream - the only one that is supposed to help minimise wrinkles. A BBC science program said so. I'm not sure I believe it. How would you know if it was working? Unless you suddenly and inexplicably looked ten years younger, it's all so nebulous on a day to day basis.

When you see really elderly people - mostly women, I add - you can tell if they've been mostly happy or sad because of the way their wrinkles have set. A friend and I once played Guess the Life Story on the blank faces of people on the tube.

I'd like to have contented wrinkles instead of worry lines. Do I have enough time left to reset the template? It might be like trying to turn an oil tanker...and keep turning it if when gets lost in the currents. Well, I'd better start by getting some sleep. It's gone past 1 am, oh readers young and old, and those who see time as a relative concept, whatever that means.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

James McAvoy talks about...

...having sex with me (or could it be another Ciara, spelled funny with a K?) James, you make me blush. Click here if you want to eavesdrop. I noticed him when he starred in Shameless. His eyes are too twinkley to miss.

His wife looks lovely too. I saw them both once, in my favourite coffee shop having lunch, before he was really famous.


Monday, September 24, 2007

We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successfull...

...said Morrisey, except I'm blimmin' grateful for it myself. What a weekend of random musicality I've had. On Friday night, Nice Man and I went to a nearby community hall to watch our friends and compatriots do Neil Diamond covers. It was surprisingly good. Nice Man's landlord, aka Eugene Kelly (once of The Vaselines) sang Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon with just the right baritone. Stuart put on a bowl-cut Monkees wig and belted out I'm a Believer and everyone was dancing about with stupid grins on. There were loads more talented, pretty girls singing, whose names I don't yet know. With the look and feel of the old hall, you could have thought you'd accidentally fallen into the 60's.

On Sunday night, we got invited to Eddi Reader's house-warming party. More singing people who are effortlessly talented! Where do they come from? They just whipped out their fiddles and acoustic guitars and flew through gorgeous covers of Joni Mitchell, Patsy Cline, Bruce Springsteen and a few speedy jigs.

Most of the room was joining in and I had to mouth my vocals softly, for on several occasions, Nice Man has diagnosed me as being 'atonal' beyond rescue. He is correct, of course. But my enthusiasm - where can that go?! It needs an outlet. Even a whispery, tone-deaf outlet. Before we left for home, I picked up a wee ukulele and strummed along for a few chords. They may not have been the right chords, but as chords go, they were lovely enough.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Mighty Heart

I can't help feeling my last post was totally trivial, now that I'm back from seeing a preview of the film, A Mighty Heart. Angelina Jolie plays the French wife of an American journalist who is kidnapped in Karachi. It's based on a true story and it was wonderfully played and truly gut wrenching. I was unprepared and had to wipe many tears on my scarf, not having thought to bring tissues.

If you thought Angelina J was a bit of an air-head actress, this'll change your mind. Hmm, suddenly just thought about that phrase 'air head'. People don't say it about men. Perhaps it is sexist..?


Where's the UHT milk of human kindness?

Readers! Can I tell you about the wrong milk and how frustrated it made me? Yes? Okay, so I'm doing my wee voluntary shift in the hospital cafe. The clientele are mostly day patients, relatives of patients and, occasionally, thin men in dressing gowns. Today, an an elderly, smiley woman came to the counter and asked for a cup of milk.

The dinky-sized milk cartons in the fridge cabinet had sold out, so I thought I'd improvise and get her a cup of behind-the-counter-milk, used for coffees. I apologized that it wouldn't be chilled: it's UHT from a cupboard (where cartons of it are stacked like bricks in polythene).

Apparently this action was verging on a crime. At very least, it was a spanner in the works of a well oiled machine. Two fingers to order and authority! Everyone started flapping slightly and the supervisor said, we don't serve that milk. That milk is for coffees.

I felt bad for the customer - when I'm a customer myself I hate being made to feel as if I am a problem. Reluctantly the boss poured the wrong milk into a polystyrene cup and handed it over. Someone suggested 30 pence and I rang it through the till under miscellaneous.

I tried to apologise to the boss, but I was still narked, so I'm sure my 'apology' wasn't giving off the best vibes. I asked what I should do in future. She shrugged and said, I suppose you can sell it like that, but it's really for the coffees and we don't want to sell it all like that.

I replied that I was asked for no more than 1 or 2 cups of milk per shift -usually for a child. (I am not selling bathloads of the stuff!) She shrugged. We couldn't look each other in the eye. I bet she was mad at me. I am semi-mad at myself, for taking the blogger's way out rushing home to tell ye all.

I know it's a wee thing. It's not George Bush versus Iraq. I just always want to be one of these people who do their best for the customers, even if it means bending rules. Maybe especially if it means bending rules. I have never been good with authority.

Afterwards the husband of the woman who bought the wrong milk spilled his tea. I got him a new one without a second's hesitation. I told him he deserved it.

Ah well, it's the glamorous, tabard uniform that keeps me in the job. So far.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Blog guilt, Good biscuits, Producer/Directors

On the one hand, I have blog guilt for not updating my blog - on the other hand, I am glad enough, because the dip in posts is due to the fact that I am doing more, out there in the reality land. I know you would be glad for me, people.

Last week, I began a part-time, voluntary post in a small film company. I am starting from scratch, doing research for possible TV documentaries. I pretend to look more competent than I feel. I find myself using words like pre-production and producer/director. I want to learn to be good at it.

The other 3 workers are friendly and there are good biscuits in the small kitchen at the back. A few mid-afternoon pauses at the work station have been aided and abetted by a single McVities, dark chocolate digestive.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

End in sight for laptop saga - I hope?

Ah, the relief of customer service, as customer service should be. On receiving my letter, the manager of the laptop shop phoned me straight away and offered to cut any labour costs and charge me only the minimum for any parts required. £95 was quoted for a new screen. Do-able! Bearable! Once repaired, it will have another year's guarantee. I do not have to spend £450 on a new computer after 14 months, as the other dudes in the shop suggested. Phew, phew Barney McGrew. I shall leave it in tomorrow. Then we can talk about something a bit more interesting on this blog.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Still in PC blackout...

Monday morning and I'm hopping on other people's computers and trying to compose letters about the sales of goods and services act 1979, to see if I have any legal redress for a computer that cost me £440.44 (not a mere £390 as I guessed before!) and went utterly kaput 14 months later....

Thrilling, huh?


Friday, August 31, 2007

Nay Luck

Thank you so much for all the recent supportive comments, oh warm-hearted readers. Excuse me for not replying individually.

Excuse me, nay indulge me, for today's towering rage. I am writing this on my dad's computer as my laptop has just been pronounced extinct after a mere 14 months! Two pathetic months after the warranty ran out, the screen started to go black. A mere loose wire, I think, a trifle...

But Polish ponytail guy in the laptop shop tweaked and prodded and replaced various components, with other new components, fresh from cellophane. At one stage, he bit on a piece of gaffer tape and stuck down wires. About half an hour later he and the other dudes were shaking their heads and drawing in sharp breaths. A new screen was needed and would cost about £275. They recommended just buying a new lap top. The 'old' laptop cost £390 a mere 14 months ago.

I tell them I am tired and I will have to go home and cry before reviewing my options. I haven't actually cried. It is only money, nobody has died or been poked with needles.

I think I just feel scared and sad as my health has been a lot worse today and I am having no success 'Mickeling' my way out of anything. I feel semi-poisoned again. This certainly happens - I shouldn't be too surprised. Perhaps the disappointment is greater precisely because I was doing well before (she says, grappling for the positive?)

Anyway, I feel better for having let you know, that if I am without the world wide web for the next few days (weeks?) it will be an accident of fate and faulty components. In cyberspace no one can hear you scream. Except perhaps Sigourney Weaver and the ponytail guy at Laptops Direct, and you, oh loyal readers of blog.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I'm having trouble sending email again, so excuse me if replies are absent.

The screen of my laptop is also on the blink - a loose wire suspected. The guy at Dell technical support was trying to talk me through removing the keyboard with a screwdriver. I didn't know that was allowed? It seems a bit radical, like doing a spot of amateur surgery on a tendon or something. I had to go to my neighbour's to borrow the right size of screwdriver. By the time I came back, the Dell techie help man had clocked off and I was left alone to tinker. I was quite pleased when I put it back together with a few satisfying clicks and snaps.

It's still touchy though. I am tip toe-ing around my keyboard, trying not to offend it.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Mind the Gap

People have told me they like the honesty of this 'ere blog, so I am bound by honesty to report that I am feeling a bit melancholy this evening. Ironic, perhaps as the Mickel Therapy is still going well overall. (How many of you readers are hungry for more specific MT feedback and how many dip in for everyday bloggy observations?)

For Mickel watchers, one aspect of the therapy is to learn to cast a neutral and calculating eye on your life as is and compare it with how you think your life would have been if you had never fallen ill. Then you have to leave no stone unturned in your hunt for ways that you could move forward, even crawl forward, to make up some of the difference. I know it sounds too facile to be applicable ("well, of course we would get better if we could", etc) and yet, I have seen some progress in my attempts to press forward.

Today I had my meeting at the job centre and I will fill in a form to let me start some voluntary work and/or to earn a tiny bit extra each week. It is progress certainly, and yet I think some of the hovering melancholy comes from feeling the size of the gap between where I am and where I want to go.

I talked to my dear friend, Stuart tonight and he said when he started to get better from his lonely years of physical debility, he wrestled with frustrations and anger that arose as he met life's challenges on the way back up towards the 'real' world. I suppose it makes sense in a way. It can just catch you by surprise.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I knew it!

Hottest day of the year in Glasgow at 25 degrees Celsius. I have savoured every honey-glossed moment of sun. Ah, the temporary relief...


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Quietly Amazed

This photo by St├ęphan Reebs shows Glasgow University quadrant where I studied Arts and Social Sciences years ago. The weather in the photo is the same as today's weather, the same as most of the summer - this perma drizzel, adept at making me feel wistful.

After years of illness, I swore I would never allow myself to get annoyed by anything as external and uncontrollable as weather. As I wrote in a poem once, any weather is better than no weather (i.e. better than being housebound). But how shallow and myopic I was! This non summer is finally getting to me. Correction, I am allowing it to get to me. In a way, I am enjoying my objection, stoking it like a wee fire to entertain myself. I'll show this global warming! Any more of this and I'll fly off to the Caribbean! Aye....that'll be yer modern dilemma right there.

Wistfulness aside, things are going well. I am grateful. I have been doing some volunteer work and I have a meeting soon to ask about the possibilities of 'permitted work' - a declared and above-board scheme to help people on benefits graduate back to earning. It would be part-time and I'd see how feasible it could be. I'm feeling my way forward. At times I'm quietly amazed.

I'm also waiting on Nice Man to give me a lift to Tesco (everyone's local make-me-feel-guilty conglommerate). You can't be amazed all the time.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Rage against the machine

illustration link

So limited are the hours of sunshine this summer, that I feel compelled to go out to the park in front of my house at the first patch of blue sky. I had just lain down with my sunglasses and my book today, when a man with a leaf blower came out from a bush. If there is one artifact that can leave me incandescent with rage, it is a leaf blower that is as loud as a chain saw and uses planet-polluting petrol, when hey, a big rake would do, and hey again, only 3% of leaves are on the ground, so you might as well wait for the other 97% before you start moving them about. But leaf-blower man with his ear protectors couldn't resist. I gave up and went home. I couldn't look him in the eye, incase he saw in my gaze only arrogant pity at the folly of mankind.

Patio heaters, you ask? Oh, I love them too, in the same kind of way. What is this? Grumpy Friday?

I am going to see Nice Man's niece in a school play tonight. Enthusiastic, uncynical children in a musical extravaganza? That's what I need, surely!


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Random disparity and flying saucepans

Readers, let me not neglect you. Sometimes I use the random disparity of life as an excuse not to write. I mean, where does one begin? What will I write about today? When I try to write poems, I start with the general and try to work towards some emotion or situation that is distilled. But so often, the fabric of days is full of flotsam and jetsam, wholly miscellaneous.

Like when I smiled at my neighbour, Mylo, today. He does not know me but I know he is a record producer who is famous for making dance records from his pro-tool enhanced bedroom. He is so good at it, he is to produce Madonna's next album (allegedly). This might be Daily Record exaggeration, maybe not. Anyway, I sat in the sun on my doorstep and thought, there goes Mylo. Then I went inside and had beans and coleslaw for dinner as I felt too tired to cook. See what I mean, where's the poetry in that? Where does it all come together?

My wee niece, Maddy, was boasting to the librarian about how books were helping her become clever. Now I know all about dinosaurs and space and flying saucepans, she said.

More soon. We must chat more often.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

A waste of trees and cornflakes

When I was five or six cornflakes were easily my all-time favourite food. I was taken to visit some Irish relatives who had thirteen children in their family. Thirteen, said my mum, can you believe that? I pondered this statistic and apparently replied, What a waste of cornflakes. What I probably meant was, wow, how many boxes do you get through each morning?

I believed that the greatest freedom adult life could bring would be the ability to eat as many bowls as I liked. I could have cornflakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, when I grew up. No need for boring vegetables and stews! Minced-steak be gone.

Ah well, I still sprinkle cornflakes on top of my muesli most mornings. I never tire of them. I feel a strange affinity with cereal - the building block food from which all other food experiences grew.

In reverse, was their something I failed to appreciate as a kid and can't get enough of now? Yes, trees. I praise the Lord for the leafy relief of trees in cities. I think looking at them probably lowers blood pressure and calms neurotransmitters.

My Dad used to be a teacher in Edinburgh and he got a lift to school with other male teachers. One day he remarked on a beautiful line of trees in a field and they all burst out laughing at him and teased him about it later. Beautiful trees, they laughed. Trees?!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Strapless, you say?

I loved that film Muriel's Wedding, where kooky, likeable Muriel spends years planning her wedding day, long before she meets any potential boyfriends. She goes into bridal shops and tries on the merch. Once, I wandered into a bridal shop in Princess Square (a posh shopping mall in Glasgow). I was single, in my mid twenties, and thought I'd just look at the dresses. The shop assistant approached and asked if I'd set a date yet. I ran away.

I saw a poster yesterday for a bride's night out. Que? It showed a photo of a bride laughing raucously, clutching her waist. I moved closer to read the text. Something like - Want to wear your wedding dress again? Never been a bride and always wanted to wear the dress? Fancy a great night out with the girls? £55 per bride or £550 a table of ten.

I paused to let my brain adjust. So it was a night out at a hotel, knocking back champagne with a few hundred women, all dressed in strapless, ivory, diamonte-encrusted gowns?

At last, I read in the small print that it was for a women's charity. Ahh, Char-it-y. Phew! And relax. Good for them. Them to their fancy and me to my Nancy. I must be getting older as - no matter how much I admire a decent bit of bridal couture - my Nancy wouldn't include wearing it without getting married - just to see what it feels like.

Better get up now and put on my Cat Woman outfit to clean the bathroom.

PS. Here's a recent photo of my brother, John and his lovely bride, Sarah. Not just dressy-up. The real McCoy.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Four Firemen

Four firemen came out to fix my beeping smoke detector. It had beeped all through the night - I put in earplugs and struggled to sleep, telling myself to think of the piercing beeps as mere bird tweeps.

Today, in attempts to fix it, Nice Man had gone up ladders in a valiant, Nice-Manly way. To no avail.

I was about to phone an electrician and then my mum phoned the local fire station for advice. Out they came, in their fire truck! They didn't wear fire uniform, but their black trousers and tight, black t-shirts weren't too hard on the eye (sorry, Nice Man).

The firemen diagnosed the beeping as emanating from the carbon monoxide detector linked to the central heating and not, in fact, the nearby smoke detector. Anyway, they took it away to smash it and recommended I buy a new one. I was embarrassed not to have figured this out myself but they couldn't have been nicer. All praise be to firemen everywhere.

They'll need all the firemen they can get for the floods in England (global warming surely?). I feel so sorry for the people in flooded homes. Newsreader, Peter Sissons, was interviewing a woman over the phone as the flood waters rose in her street. He was running out of questions, and asked if any livestock in the area were affected. Well, my cat's sleeping on the bed upstairs, she said.


Friday, July 20, 2007

There it's there

Photo Link

Readers, I am back online. And while you pop the champagne corks for me, let me tell you of today's small adventures in the in-between land of trying-to-get-better.

For this, I must improvise a new word: Schadenschade - the opposite of Schadenfreude. Let Schadenschade denote the feeling experienced when you are involved in a situation or event that is worthy and well-meant, and you start out with enthusiasm, and yes, definite aspiration....until gradually this va-va-voom morphs into deflation, as you start to feel compromised by the very situation you had such generous hope for.

I started a short journalism course run by an international charity and in the first lesson on grammar and proof reading, many minutes were spent making sure everyone understood the difference between There, They're and Their.

I know. There were foreign students with limited English in the class. The teacher seemed a very decent guy and naturally didn't want to exclude anyone. Everyone was smiley and warm. The charity is life-affirming and ultra-worthy. But I ended up feeling comatose with drowsiness, as I had grasped the difference between There, They're and Their in Primary 5, and learning it again, several times over, made me want to leap out of the window just to alleviate the passing boredom. I felt weak with ennui.

Trying-to-get-better is littered with heart-buckling, Schadenschade schemes. I am not well enough to start a job on a newspaper. I can write the odd thing at home alone, but ultimately I'd love to move towards infrastructure and other people and chatty lunch breaks. Beggars can't be choosers - and no matter how uppity my frustration sounds - I know I am indeed a beggar in terms of work-life experience. I would be streets ahead if I had been able to finish my honours degree and train in a profession - psychologist, teacher, journalist, whatever... All of these would have built layers of confidence and expertise, where now there is only a great blank in my CV. Having said that, I used to think that dealing with serious illness was/is the hardest of jobs, so surely there is strength in that.

So where to next? I will keep thinking. We wore name badges today and people (understandably) pronounced Ciara as Key-ara. I scored it out and wrote 'Kira'. What else needs a line through it and a new piece of paper?

Have I been too moany? Do I need to practise the art of patience?


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hung out to dry

Five to ten working days was the last estimate for when I might receive my new modem. Throw in two postal strikes and the fact that Talk Talk promised me my modem two weeks ago, and who knows when it'll arrive. My 'Sweex' (?) wireless router is still failing to open websites and the helpful folk at Sweex (who hell they?) have no helpline. You can email them and they'll respond three days of the week. They recommend I log on to websites with long lists of numbers in the title. Hey, I can't get on to any websites from home, let alone obscure techie portals that magically reset wireless frequencies.

I am still using other people's computers every couple of days, which is a bit like using other people's bathrooms. You never quite relax. You miss your own shampoo.

Anyway, friends, I have finally recovered the lost ground from the bug. I am back to my batting average, always hoping I can uncover new avenues of progress, while accepting that things can be frustratingly slow at times too. I fancy going to the cinema again soon. We saw Paris Je t'aime earlier in the week and generally J'aimed it.

Until next time, (I hate to let go of your hand, oh t'internet readers)...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Whisking the cake mixture of Life

Wow - have I slumped this week or what? I was over-hasty in trying to get passed my sick bug horriblus. I actually feel worse 5 days after it, as opposed to 2 days after it. My progress chart has nose-dived. I am trying not to get alarmed, yet the deja vu isn't pretty - the feeling of 'poison' in the veins, the gasping-to-lie-down waves of weakness. My deepest fear in these situations is that the Mickel progress was some sort of random fluke that may have run it's course. I can't let myself believe that, so far, but those are the darkest thoughts. Okay, wheesht, calm, - vent over. There, I've said it, in the hope of exorcising doubt. If you are still here, readers, you are with me on the ups and downs. Now I shall refocus on the blackboard as best I can.

Still no Internet and I am writing this post from the spare bedroom as I baby-sit for the kids of a dear friend. This dear friend is a very busy doctor and she hasn't ever managed to read my blog - I tease her about it. She didn't know what a blog was. I can tease her again that I wrote mine from her spare bedroom and she still won't get round to reading it. The kids are sleeping now. They were watching a DVD she bought - some adventure story about huskies and swarthy explorers in the Arctic. The kids asked me about frost bite and I had to tell them gently it could make you lose your fingers.' That's not very good for whisking cake mixture, said the wee girl. No. That and other things.

This non-weather is getting beyond a joke. I keep wondering if a sustained blast of sunshine would pep me up.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I sorely miss my internet!

Readers, Readers, I feel so cut off from you! My home Internet drought stretches on and today my new ISP will send a second modem in the post, the first having gone missing, (why does so much stuff seems to disappear in the post these days?)

Due to circumstance, my blog posts are reduced to brisk bulletins from other people's computers, rather than leisurely ponderings with occasional photos. So for today's bulletin -

We all enjoyed my brother's wedding in the gardens of a Scottish country house at the weekend. The rain plashed heavily on the B+Q Gazebos but the romance and good feeling was more than enough to make up for weather mishaps. Just a great day all round.

Yesterday I woke up with some kind of acute sickness bug and spent all day leaning over a bucket at the side of my bed. It was truly torturous. I'd forgotten how awful it can be, how hard to put into words.

Today I have been able to eat again and make it to my parent's computer. Praise Be.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Listen Again Links

Phew - I am just so relieved to receive a few supportive comments after the the Radio Scotland interview aired. (I'm still without the Internet at home, so I was unable to email pals in my address book to tell them about the programme). Anyway, I agreed to do it, then worried afterwards about the possible response(s). As you do...

For one week only the interview is available to listen to online. (My mum and my dear friend Stuart also take part). The poetry is cut off from the start of the recording, but hey ho.

To Listen Again, click here , then scroll down and click on Give Me a Voice.

For the Medical Matters follow-up click here (also one week only).

More blogging if I ever get my blimmin' Internet fixed! Talk about Chinese water torture...

Thanks to the producers at Radio Scotland for their hard work and enthusiasm.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Give Me a Voice - Radio Scotland

Greetings Amigos. I copied this info from the Radio Scotland website - (for those living outside Scotland, the programs will be available on Listen Again links on the Radio Scotland website for one week only. I'll try and do you a direct link when it becomes available).

Wednesday Special double feature as Radio Scotland explores one of the most misunderstood and controversial of diseases – ME.

Give Me A Voice
Continuing the series where BBC Radio Scotland gives a voice to another issue from a very personal point of view. Ciara MacLaverty talks frankly about how she has lived with ME for the past 20 years. She reveals how she's fighting a devastating illness as well as battling with the public's misunderstanding of her condition.
Medical Matters
Following on from Ciara MacLaverty's experiences, Cathy MacDonald reveals the cutting edge research aimed at finding a cure for ME. Tackling the difficult nature of the disease head on, she explores the widespread conceptions about it and some of the alternative therapies which have proved helpful for some sufferers.

Me again, folks- I hope that I don't let anyone down with the content of the interview. I tried to tell-it-like-it-is and then I mentioned briefly that I think Mickel Therapy is helping me and this is a vast surprise to me. I know this is controversial in the ME world. Anyway, I can only be truthful about my experiences of the last 20 years...and I have been. As I said, I hope it is of help to others somewhere along the line.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Get that investigated in'tae

Well, any jolly posts are suspended, replace with IT Rage posts as I still can't get online at home. Having no access to the Internet from the bosom of my bedroom makes me feel like a day old kitten being pulled away from it's mother's belly - hear my squeaky miaow and see my tiny claws paw the air.
The Techie Help man says my wireless router probably needs reconfigured and he can't do it from afar. How gloriously dull! How did it get unconfigured? I try to wrestle with these things. Impatiently I follow all the step by step processes. I told the Indian woman on the helpline, I'd get my dinner first. Yes, she said, better to get your dinner first.
Apologies for slow email replies. I await a modem in the post.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What is going on?

Dear Readers, I am in a low grade grump. I can't get on line at home and have been trying for two days. Sorry that I can't reply to emails. (Is online one word or two?)
I have also been plugging away at the Mickel Therapy, but recently (post holiday?) I feel stuck. I am frightened of the law of diminishing returns. Today I am so drowsy, I feel as if I have accidentally swallowed a couple of horse tranquilisers. All this has made me tetchy. Tetcherama! I will endeavour to exorcise said frustrations and try to turn them into constructive action, if possible.
The radio programme I took part in goes online (one word) in a week. I hope it is of help to others. I'll let you know the details when I can.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things you don't know at the time

I didn't know when I drove along island roads as a 17 year old, in amber sunsets listening to Dire Straits sing check out Guitar George, he knows all the fancy chords, that Guitar George was a real person and 21 years later I'd be eating strawberries at his wedding and hearing how he is descended from Russian aristocracy, including Rachmaninoff. I'd be sitting beside Nice Man, (whose band Guitar George roadied for) and I'd be thinking that I'd been lucky in love.
And when I heard that song on the radio today, I remembered those island sunsets, when the sea went glassy and the curlews cried out in the dusk and it made me think I've been lucky in the whole damn lot.
(PS...apart from the hideous ME, of course, but I'll think past that today).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Of course I emailed you..

During the two week email block out, I got disillusioned with not knowing if any mails were getting through. Another ISP happened to phone and offer me a deal, and normally I get annoyed at such sales calls, but this time I ran into their open arms - metaphorically, telephonically. Oh, the chemistry. Of course, I'll sign.
Anyway, it's been a funny, muddle-along week and I'm still not sure if any of my outgoing emails are disappearing into cyber voids. I may have emailed you 36 times, dear reader, and you remain unaware! I have decided to leave the whole pile of internet insecurity until I return from holiday.
On Sunday I am flying to the Outer Hebrides with Nice Man (birthplace of Nice Man ancestry). Think miles of empty beaches, remote cottages, at least one friendly sheep dog, surely? I must pray for decent weather and/or pray for the capacity to be philosophical in the face of Atlantic rain.
How is my health? It is hard to say. I had the return of horrible inflammo-head yesterday. I had forgotten how painful and wretched it could be. However, I am still trying to find paths of progress, and steer myself gently away from over-thinking. Ha, ha, she says, over-thinking what I can write as the end of this post. That's it, enough! I must go and drape my laundry over radiators.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Still no email

Sorry for my lack of email replies. I can send them, but they haven't reached their destination. I know because none of my test emails to myself are getting through. At first I'd write test in the subject line, then test 4 or test 6, eventually I wrote things like grrrrr and feck's sake, come on.
I have a yahoo account but I don't have all my addresses there and it doesn't feel like home.
I saw a great film recently with the unusual name of Jindabyne. It was based on the Raymond Carver story called So much water, so close to home. Now that's a better title, huh?
I tried to clean my bedroom this morning. I seemed to have escorted the dust from the bedside tables on to my keyboard and other locations, as yet undiscovered.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The recorded message...

..on the Tiscali help-line says the email faults may take another few days to fix. I imagine engineers in hard hats with walkie-talkies climbing up transmitters and radio-ing to more qualified engineers with white shirts and gelled hair, sweating over micro-chip circuits in open plan control rooms. They'll say, we're gonna need more time, Sir. The blood pressure of chief exec's will be rising steadily as Tiscali customers across the land are email gagged for another few days. I am waving from my blog.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Not Another Highland Wedding?

Okay Agnes, we'll go if they don't serve venison burgers

Like my dear father, I have always been a late-to-bed and late-to-wake person. In a nonsensical way I feel almost proud it it. It feels more bohemian, less straight-laced.

Nice Man drove us to the Highlands for another wedding (we have an unprecedented 6 weddings over 3 months!) and I asked the landlady of our B&B what time breakfast was.

Oh well.., any time really, she said.

Hallelujah, I said - perhaps an over exuberant exclamation, but I never cease to applaud customer-centred flexibility in the hospitality industry.

Great, when's the latest time? I asked.

A quarter to nine for breakfast. Check out by ten.

Pardon? On a Sunday? So Long, Scottish breakfast. I might as well have woken her up at 1.37am when we came back from the wedding and asked her to do me poached eggs on toast. You said any time before quarter to nine was fine... Tired, you say?

On the drive home we stopped in a lay-by overlooking Rannoch Moor. There was a piper in full regalia busking for foreign tourists (who all seem to wear black and red gortex anoraks). His bagpipes were competing with the chug of a burger van generator amidst the general wafting of chip fat. We took my waterproof tartan blanket and hid behind a hillock where we stumbled upon two young deer with velvety antlers, chewing the heather and staring at us from a couple of sofa lengths away. Lovely.

I feel very wrecked again tonight. No boasting about MT improvements for now! I'll see how next week goes.

PS. My outgoing emails aren't getting through due to server issues. Just so you know.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

I have my days

What lack of logic to blame oneself for not sleeping well, yet I do. How tempting, yet unproductive, to manoeuvre into the cul-de-sac of self blame. Stop it you daftie? If I gave the impression that Mickel Therapy was a way forward for some, it may be, but that's not to say that it's easy. I still find myself in pockets of anxiety throughout the process, hence my sleep can waver. I think this is common. (To be fair, I had occasional, pre-process anxiety too). I am too locked in 'headyness' today. I must find something I can do to distract and enjoy myself . Welder by day, dancer by night? (Sorry, obscure Flashdance tag line, suddenly released from a brain cell that still thinks it's 14 years old).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

These Things I Know (for me, if not ME)

Phew! The blog comments kitchen isn't half heating up on the ol' mind/body therapies debate.

I'm trying to avoid getting dragged into rhetoric and I am fine with everyone expressing their views. In fact I feel like I'm sitting in the eye of the hurricane, where the leaves are barely rustling above my head. But I can tell people are still mystified, as I was, and still am. I don't feel qualified to pronounce any definitive answers as the Mickel Therapy (MT) is still a work in progress for me.

However, I thought I'd lasso a few truths and clarify them for myself. I don't wish to sound defensive - it's more a case of 'these things I know' (or at least I think I do...)

1) I know how disconcerting it is when you have tried hundreds of treatments without any success and someone suggests you should try an expensive one, and - guess what - it sounds the most implausible of all. It sounds just plain wrong. Of course you think, No Siree!
I am not urging anyone to try MT/RT/LP. I'm just being truthful about my ongoing experience with MT and how it has surprised me so far.

2) Phases of illness - Regular readers may know that I have been ill with ME for 20 years and my worst phases left me bed bound for two separate episodes of 4 years each. In the beginning the severity was almost beyond words. It was like a living death - I couldn't hold a knife and fork, wash my own hair, talk, watch TV, bear light or sound. I was in agonising head pain and felt 'poisoned' to death every waking moment. I was 7 stone and had involuntary muscle twitches, strobe-like flickering behind my eyes, new onset eczema etc, etc. You get the picture.
Do I think MT could have helped me then? My gut instinct would have said no, but one of the things MT has done for me now is to make more open in my thinking. I can't see how it could have helped the living death phases, but then I was adamant it wouldn't help now either. I have heard of MT/RT therapists who do house visits to the severely ill and claim that they can facilitate some sparks of improvement. My jury is out.

3) Price - I know it is expensive. MT folk are lobbying for trials to try and get it on the NHS (some ME folk are against this, but I think if it was free, there would be nothing to lose, for those who want to risk trying it). Anecdotally I hear that some therapists do give clients a discount after a few sessions. I hear that the MT/RT companies have a lot of running costs. If I took all the money I've lost over the years on trying a 101 things, it would pay for MT, and at least I am seeing some results, where before I saw none. (Pauses to remember dosh wasted on homeopathy, acupuncture, supplements ad infinitum, faith healers, some weird guru who cut off my hair and analysed it for cellular injuries?!)

4) Looking back on my first two sessions, my therapist said my face was 'a picture of complete doubt'. Yup. I was asked to 'suspend my disbelief' and try to follow the new theories in small ways. It is not about forcing or pushing. That is all I tried to do in the beginning. It was very slow, frustratingly slow, but I started to see pockets or small 'shifts', where I didn't feel as ill as I thought I would in the usual circumstances.

Okay...I'm beginning to feel uneasy as if I've fallen into trying to defend my status-quo, and defensiveness is unrelaxing. (If you live by the blog, you die by the blog, said Nice Man cheerfully). So I'll leave it here for now. I hope I make more progress, so I'll be able to consolidate what I'm trying to say. So I can talk the talk, then walk the walk.


Monday, May 21, 2007

A Highland Wedding

Lords a larky, I go away for a weekend and my blog comments section is simmering away like a debate in a medium-heat Tefal saucepan. Fair do's to all.

I'll stand back from the debate (for now!) other than to say I had a great weekend and managed to do more than I had in ages. Witness photo evidence of myself and Nice Man at the delightful wedding of Gaelic singer, Julie Fowlis ('it's great, but I have no idea what she's on about - Ricky Gervais). By the way, Julie will appear on the Jools Holland show next weekend.

The reception took place in this Victorian hotel in the Highland town of Strathpeffer. One of the pipers told us that Gaelic has far more words for shades of greens and blues than English. He told us it is rich and sensual in descriptions of nature. In the church people sang Amazing Grace in Gaelic and it sounded just as spine-tingly as it always does. And when the sky turned inky blue - or however the Gaels would paint it - there were Gay Gordons and Strip the Willows till the wee hours.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Hello again, dear readers and thanks for the comments and questions. So, an update...(pauses to twirl a cotton bud in her ear - is it only me who is hooked and on two or three a day?). I'm feeling a bit stretched this week as I flew down to visit my sister and cute nieces last weekend, and Nice Man and I are invited to a wedding in the Highlands next weekend. So I'm trying to catch up with the small stuff in between - email, dark washes, wilting pot plants. I am trying to keep in the 'flow' and attempting to side step what-if-I-can't-manage thoughts, which hover like wasps by a nest.
In response to Neil's very valid question - Why are you not encouraged to talk about the mind/body therapies? Well..., I used to wonder this myself, but I can see a rational behind the recommendation. In all these therapies, they suggest that clients try and move away from 'headyness' - I like this word because I do often feel tangled up by my thoughts. I get very 'heady' at times and I don't enjoy it. Analysing, explaining or defending MT to others might hold you back, when you are supposed to be trying to get into the flow of listening to what your body or 'bodymind' wants from everyday situations.
I don't think it's a cult or anything. If a patient got a medical procedure, his friends and family would be better off asking the doctor for technical details, rather than the bloke himself who has just started the tablets or had an appendix removed.
I don't know if MT would help most PWME. I hope it'll help me further but I still struggle with the concepts of it myself, so I've still got big 'L' plates on my MT car. I do know, however, that PWME's would be more likely to listen to other PWME's - those who hoed the rows for years, alongside them. Is that how you write hoed? Dictionary says yes.
Must go for a bowl of cereal now. It appears to be my main fuel. Move away from the headyness, lock target on Jordan's Organic Muesli. But thanks to others for asking and I'll let you know how I get on.