Category: Work

Death Head (by )

For the last year - maybe a little more I have felt that I am dying - I don't mean the ageing existential dread - I mean the feeling that my blood was thickening and clogging, as if it had hooks and barbs, but that if I was to get cut it would just bleed and bleed and bleed, that my heart was struggling with every beat but that there were so many of them that it might explode with the effort instead. My lungs have been fire, my ribs still hurt to breath as if I am breathing nothing but acidic smoke or drowning. My back hurts in new and unexpected places and this dull ache reminds me of the infected kidneys and sure enough my water works are... not right. My head often feels like it is literally being crushed or that ice water and electricity are somehow being poured into the brain casing. Then there are my muscles - so week, and crampy, twisting into painful shapes if not just the extremities going numb or tingling sometimes changing colour to match. My body feels like it has been shutting down whilst running the engine at full throttle. I actually feel like I am vibrating sometimes, my sternum is sore and even between my ribs... if I cough its like there are bands of barbed wire wrapped around too tight. And my eyes feel like they are being pushed out of my head by thumbs pressing in from the inside of my skull. My bones sometimes feel like they are splitting apart and even my teeth and scalp hurt. This is of course all on top of the pain I already had from old injuries, the chronic pain, migraines and the womb of doom.

It feels like I've been dying by degrees. Not helping this is the fact I do also have the existential dread - I have just had two and half years of everyone dying - so so many friends and family and the miscarriages and the almost dying myself. The spring especially this month is particularly horrendous for anniversaries and rememberings - including dad's and of course my last outing before illness and Lockdown was a funeral - the world beyond my door is filled with death.

But the absolute worst thing about all of this is that I can not dismiss it all as a panic attack - I did that in the summer and ended up being rushed into A&E - I am lucky I didn't have a proper heart attack - I am lucky once more to be alive. My heart really is struggling, I have been quiet sick since the miscarriages and then caught flu and/or covid on top. I have had seizures and my eyes are actually being pushed out of my head by the muscles at the back of them inflaming. My blood is clotting in a non good way and then not clotting when I need it to seal a wound. My breathing sucks - I sound like my dad who had COPD. My poor body is being pumped full of adrenaline so it is running at full throttle and it is tired - I am literally shaking myself apart like a poorly maintained piece of machinery.

I spent most of last year being unable to sleep flat due to my lungs and my hair keeps falling out.

I even got new allergies and warning sighs that my body was trying to reject parts of itself - like during my pregnancy with Jean - then there was the yellow skin - to go with the red blotches and weird blisters.

For 3 months last year - starting around now - I could do nothing much other than survive and since then basic parenting and washing myself have kind of taken up ever ounce of energy. My eye sight and hearing have both been affected and this too is not helping - it makes it like the world has receded from me - even with my new awesome glasses - and that is how ill I have been - I haven't even properly shown the world my fabulous sun glasses. I have been unable to write or draw or even craft - I began making tentative steps back to the things I love doing in the autumn but it seems like such a steep climb. Two weeks ago I attempted and completed my first commission since March last year - I managed it - I am starting to fight back - but it is unbelievably hard and I do not know where the bounders lay between physical illness and say - not seeing any of my friends for a year - most of them more than that as my mobility has been shot since the miscarriages.

The kids are helping me - we have started a family art club but I am feeling like the worst fail parent as my 15 yr old cooks food to feed the family whilst attempting GCSEs and the 10 yr old gets into trouble at school because they are obsessed with death and won't shut up about it. They both thought I was going to die and Mary got to see a full blown seizure and didn't know what to do and went to get help but everyone thought they were just doing a please play with me and so she came back and sat in the room telling me to stop and asking if I was ok and it was awful. And the poor Alaric too - they have had to take on everything -- including the basics of looking after my mum and trying to work and fill in the gaps of homeschool I got too tired to do - and there was a lot of it - I fell asleep in Mary's school club zoom. Alaric had the horror of watching me decline once more and feeling that everything is balanced on them and their ability to work and look after and fix and clean the house.

Alaric is somewhat crushed and I am more than aware of this and can do nothing other than attempt to make occasions out of everything. So today I am making a "Fake Away" of the King of the Golden Archers variety - so nuggets and burgers and milkshakes (yes that is me mucking around with the concept of Burger King and McDonalds!). The kids actually like helping with these events and tend to do their chores without arguing and they also know that these things sometimes get postponed if I am too ill - hell Jean got her birthday cake last week - her birthday is in August though Mary's happened on time - though her cake was rock hard in an attempt to make and not buy when too ill to really cook - she loved it and has been eating it with dairy free custard. This is how I fight back - it is a little lame that is true but then I am a lot lame.

But also the last couple of weeks the feeling I was dying started to lift. Obviously the seasons and things are changing so it could be the sunlight - but then I had the summer last year so I don't think it is that - I think that maybe all the medicine and things are working - I am classified as extremely clinically vulnerable and as such have already had my vaccine - I should have had weeks before I did but I got confused as I am trying to deal with 5 peoples worth of appointments and some of the clinics over lap. Three of the household are taking medicine and three are attending clinics - there isn't a complete overlap of the two groups either. Both kids now count as SEN I think and Jean is being supported by young carers.

A phrase keeps getting stuck in my head the Gloucester themed Beatrix Potter story - "I am worn to unravelling" - I am worn to undone - but the fight is on.

I now weigh the most I have ever weighed outside of pregnancy and that is some feet as I lost a couple of stone during the fever etc last year - so my weight has seriously been fluctuating with a 5 stone difference - I realise part of that is the thyroid meds (as in you can lit chart it to the dosage) but a lot is also my mobility (and maybe too many FakeAways coughs) and I was over weight to begin with.

Part of my fight back is trying to exercise - but seriously it is like trying to run a marathon every day when all I am trying to do is get up the stairs :/ but I am currently managing 3 odd km with crutches or half a km on the treadmill with out. I am using gaming (PokemonGo) and bribes (medals) and do gooding (charity challenges (or rather will be for this one)) to get moving again - before they went back to school the kids did PE with Joe with me and we found another youtube who does work outs to musicals (I found these easier to get into than Joes stuff that is obv aimed at the smol peeps).

This week has only involved one lot of blood tests and a panic at remortgaging - I have turned 40 and didn't get to have my big party but I got a purple coffee machine and though I am worried about the amount of waste it produces I have to say it is currently being my go to when things get too hard and it is like having a coffee shop in my home and mum only really likes coffee shop hot drinks anyway... we are struggling in every way except money at the moment - which is weird and I have to say money has definitely made a big difference and I can not lie about that - I have the home coffee shop set up and Netflix and iPlayer and Prime and Crunchy Roll and an epic gaming set up like we have never had before. But I often think that somewhere there is a me - trying to get through all of this without those things - and I have been in that place and in such a place it was impossible for me to fight back and all I could do was survive with lots of help. And so I want to help others - I have been trying - we have sent food and money to food banks, given resources to scrub hubs and the Hackspace to make PPE etc and I made halloween parcels for friends I thought might be finding things tricky but was too ill to even send Christmas greetings on line 0.o

Its swings and round about - but it is at least something and part of my fight back of me living is trying to make this world a better place.

So I am currently a Death Head but do have High Octane blood and hope a little engine over haul will help with things - it's just a little tricky as it has to be left running whilst the maintenance work is being done.

Recap - I feel/felt like I'm dying - probably because I actually was - trying to do more than survive and get myself as well as I can - have traumatised family due to the almost dying bit and not seeing any friends and family (big issue for youngest who needs kids to run around with and has been very lonely) - focus on family emotions rather than on grades or outside assessments. It is the anniversary time for lots of the deaths of people I love this month and also I will probably be hitting people up for sponsorings for charities to help get me fit because my arse is way too big. Also also all grown ups in our household have now been vaccinated first doeses for a few weeks which is an emotion boost even if it scrubbed me out for a week and a half (nothing like actual covid).

Pan Dumb Moan I Am (by )

This year has not been what I thought it would be - that is often the case but this year more so than normal and this time not just for me. Global events have shaken all our lives to a greater or lesser extent. This upheaval has cost many their lives and upended others, I myself ended up very sick and having a nice trip to hospital in an Ambulance whilst wondering if I was ever going to see my family again.

The pandemic of covid-19 has stirred up feeling in society I had hoped were extinguished with the libration of the concentration camps at the end of the second world war but if I am honest I already know that the festering puss of eugenics was always in a shallow grave and just waiting to pop back to the surface. I am seeing the disabled and chronically ill being side lined and even told to just get on and die by those who are supposed to be our friends and protectors, authorities and work colleagues alike. I am also seeing people going out of their way to help regardless of their own hardships and that is something else - the flip side - an amazing.

Lock down has been hard on people especially mothers who have had their support networks basically made illegal whilst meeting and laughing in a pub by mostly men is absolutely fine. This stark contrasts and contradictions plus back peddling and muddled thinking define the crises here in the UK, especially as the year has drawn on and floods and storms have added to the stresses. Unemployment and employment shifts have abounded with backs fluctuating between being magnanimous and strike you whilst you are down.

Erosions of human rights especially LBGTQ+ community have begun with barely a whimper from anyone outside of the community thanks to the manufactured war between the different types of feminism and rainbows. It is a mess and a wedge driven too deep by those that once added balm to the cuts and bruises of the general bigotry of life. Allies now fight.

Many of us have lost our jobs, or in my case my entire industry - it is not a good time to work in events.

And in all of this pain and stress and confusion people were sharing memes about how Shakespeare and other such artistic heroes created and made master pieces whilst in quarantine so that's obviously what we should have all been doing - and they meant it well and mainly it was them kicking themselves up the back side but others were seeing it as duty to create and record the goings on and were telling others off for not doing so. But people where (and are) dying and we couldn't even attend the funerals except by weblink and it stank and hurt and was not... just not something that was conductive to creation for many.

I have written very little this year - I have started to loose count of the people I have lost, I keep forgetting people are now dead and that is horrendous. I missed a funeral because I couldn't get zoom to work - it is laughable and I did laugh until I cried and then I laughed and then was in a weird sob-laugh state.

And that's another thing - I was asked to perform and take part in the fantastic online array of performances and events but... I have little to no voice, I am horse - I can not sing or read out loud to the kids even so there is no performing for me - no live streams or recording my poetry for youtube. Nope - just lots of sipping various beverages and brews in the hope that they might in some way help. Add to that that I just did not have good enough tech until the middle of last month for the preferred ZOOM to work for me :/

The virus affects eyesight as well - as does the extra autoimmune system disease it has left me with so I have had to learn to adapt to even worse eye sight than I had previously - my glasses can no longer correct everything and I risk further damage before this is over. I have premature ageing of the eyes and a host of other issues. But my new glasses have made it so that I can sit at my computer again and work.... half a year into the illness.

And tentatively I have started to create again but I am not looking at producing more than normal.... oh no I keep having bouts of being poorly again or having to home school the kids due to them having a temperature and waiting for tests or isolations/lockdowns happening and I have my elderly mother to look after - no I am facing the fact that I missed a lot of the writing challenges - I started and aborted them and yet I feel I want to at least revisit those as they are normally important project drivers for me.

As such I have lists of things I can dip in and out of but I do not need to complete anything.

Fevers and Graves Disease have made my normally vivid dreamscape into living visions or hallucinations with beautiful landscapes and narratives that would make epic films. I have begun trying to record them but only have vague notes from the worst of it as I wasn't entirely conscious when they were really bad. Also until this month I had written a few poems this year - as in under ten and generally composed on twitter or facebook as they had just started as comments on the political situation.

I have been tagging the art and poems with ArtFromMyCovidBed and yes I am still spending a lot of time there and I hate it, I want to be up and running but getting up the stairs leaves me panting and coughing and gasping for breath and it is ridiculous.

My mantra is this is a pandemic and the only thing you have to do in quarantine is SURVIVE.

Having said that I am now just beginning to create again and I have lots of ideas that have been brewing in the nightsweat insomnia that plagues me and there are now a number of political and pandemic based poems. These I hope to weave into a few related collections mixed in with some of the art and stories spun from the fever dreams. They may just be chapters of a larger work or collections in their own right. They are:

Pan Dumb Moan Am I

Pan Ick

Pan Damned It

These will be specifically themed on the pandemic and on going crisis, where as Art From My Covid Bed is just any art I have produced during this recovery period.

I like these titles as there are rings and knots of meaning to them - but that will have to wait for another post.

To the world in general - Health, Hope and Happiness <3

(this piece was cross blogged from my poetry blog Turquoise Monster)

Illuminated Fragments (by )

Currently it is the Gloucester History Festival - happening very differently to previous year in the restrictions on numbers and the shift to more outside pre booked things and mostly online talks and interactive virtual tours. Even if I'd been well enough there is no way Cuddly Science/History could have done it's normal activities with sand pit digs and cloth puppets 0.o

I am seeing past events popping up on Facebook memories and they are awesome but do you know what? So is this year... there is a festival that had to completely start from scratch and reorganise some great stuff and they managed it and on their big year too! 10yrs of the Festival and 25yrs for the Heritage Open Days!

And it's not like I am completely devoid of involvement - back in the spring an art and archaeology project that I was very excited to be a part of obviously had to go on hold but now the exhibition is there for anyone who wanders over to see! They are asking people to pre book free tickets and wear face masks when in the building as well as doing track and trace.

It's at Llanthony Secunda Priory and called Illuminated Fragments. There were 15 of us lead by Jacqui Grange of Creative Solutions with access to the archaeological finds from the area thanks to Cotswold Archaeology, and tutorials on calligraphy as well as researching the history and stories of the area.

I really enjoyed the parts of it I managed to get to and the work produced is truly spectacular - it is only up until the 14th of Sept 2020. Including the Heritage Open Day.

Protected: Llanthony Remains (by )

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That Which Does Not Kill Us…. (by )

I used to write about "The Curse" a lot - so many damn things go wrong for us that it has just become a kind of on going sitcom comedy type situation. I tried to twist things round and be more positive and things were great for a while... then they weren't but it was the Head Injury and the migraines before it and the recovery and I generally forgot about the curse.

And of course this year has had lots of wonderful, amazing things in it but it is also a dark time for us. A sad time, a devastated time - the last 2 and a bit years have been full of tragedy and pain. I haven't felt up to sharing a lot of it... the people we are missing, the physical after affects of miscarriages and the shake up of domestic things to try and make sure everyone who needs stuff has it.

It is too depressing in many ways.

But I do want to be sharing stuff a bit more again - and there is joyous, wondrous and creative stuff in the mix but I am afraid that is not what this post is about - nope - this is about the crap!

Not the deep sorrow stuff just the crap.

Where to start?

Well my new computer (not new now I know but still not exactly old) has never really been fast and I have had issues with stuff just working on it, with email and the spam thingies stopped working on my blogs and I have over 20 so my emails got broken by all the spam, some of the blogs got broken with the spam, our wifi is periodically being blocked by something that likes to move channels and therefore follows our attempts to get away from it. This means that a) it as well as emails was hampering work greatly and b) has meant my phone bill is a lot higher than it should be because I wasn't checking what it was using and it was on roaming data whilst I was watching videos in bed rather than on our wifi :/

Yes stupid me.

I did amazing arty things in the summer and mostly it was absolutely a positive experience but some of it was really soul crushingly negative and had me not wanting to go to events and thing - such nastiness does not belong anywhere let alone the creative sector. This was multiple things and they all bundled up and have made me hacked off with Gloucester and I don't want to be hacked off with Gloucester - it is my home.

On top of that I still have not been paid for three different things I did in the Summer - let alone my autumn stuff - this has had ramifications and has seen me having to trek out to bank meetings - fitted in between physio for Jean and other medical stuff for my mother (I need to book my own appointments and just haven't managed!). Bank meetings where fun!

Here is the Facebook comment I made about it:

Due to multiple people having not payed me - I had to go to the bank to try and stop credit card spiral debt - I explained the situation but nope... they would rather lock me into a spiral of debt than give me a loan to pay off the credit card I'd had to put stuff on and then cancel the card - reason is they won't cancel the card but are worried I'd just rack the same debt up again as my spendings been erratic - well yes because I wan't paid when expected by multiple people and I thought the money would be through before the end of the first month and I am now getting to more than four months down the line and the interest is now more than I spent in the first place. I've found a way around this but only because I... am married to someone with a high end job and even then when I say sorted I mean we've just stopped the spiral being unmanageable but I'm still going to be paying the bank back about 4 times min what I actually spent - and none of this would have happened if I'd damn well been paid on time. I am so annoyed - I tried to sort it out the first month when it looked like the money was going to be on the card a while but we couldn't prove who I was - AGAIN - so proving I exist has been fun :/ I hate banks - oh and the spends where so I could continue working not random shizzle. Interest rates make a huge difference to debt management - hence wanting the loan - but also they don't like freelancers.

The support I've been offered from family and friends over this has been amazing but I feel embarrassed that it has come to this :/ And worse - if this was the money that paid the mortgage and/or food rather than DIY and festivities and vets bills and opticians then we would be screwed.

Incidentally I need new glasses desperately - the anti scratch coating got scratched in the summer - probably all the rock handling sessions I did - blooming meteorites! But obviously I have been putting it off until I get paid... and so it goes and goes around again :/

Wednesday was supposed to be the big Christmas shop were we go up to Bristol and make a day of it and see friends etc... but what happened was that I found 3 of our new hens dead. I have never lost them in a batch before which had me contacting hen experts and asking if others had experienced the same on forums and facebook etc... the conclusion is that they were either sickly to begin with - they weren't from the rescue org I normally go with and where a direct rescue via a friend so that was very probable or Mr Fox had scared them to death.

Illness in live stock is a serious thing and bird flues etc... can be passed on to humans so this was a bit of a stress and involved poo picking and of course a little hen funeral 🙁 Also just be extra disturbing some chickens have a tendency to have movement after death - hence running around like a heads chicken - they really can do this - I have in fact seen this as a kid but this was the first time I'd seen it in one of my chickens - it is very disturbing.

The dead chickens where bad and stressful enough but there was an added issue - the kids are supposed to check for eggs in the morning and feed and water the chooks after school - they are very slap dash about this so I tend to go out at lunch time to do a check up and remove any packaging from pellets etc... that the kids have left behind. So the chickens should have been found by the kids - obviously it kind of a good thing they were but... it means that the kids didn't check on them that morning.

I set a trap by which they could lie and dig themselves deeper but both independently told me the same thing - the crooks had been very "chickeny" moving about and chasing them for food but they had forgotten to do the chickens - I was actually impressed with their honesty and they were very upset about the chickens but the duty of care to the animals is very important and can not be shirked. This means they are not in as much trouble as they could have been but combined with some other things I had to call a family and put the entire house on chore lock down.

I will confess I can not cope with the housework and Alaric is great but is finding he can't even start helping with dinner because the kitchen needs cleaning before he can start so dinner is getting later and later.... so everyone has a semi screen ban - the xbox, blue ray and fire stick are unplugged and tablets and phones are rationed - for everyone - including the grown ups, including Nanny.

There is more laundry to do that before and I am trying to work and take my mum out on a regular basis - Mum has had two lots of cancer and is in her 70's and still heart broken from the loss of my dad. Domestically we are in a bit of a pickle as I try to fit another house into my already cluttered home - the kids toys are currently covering the living room being culled and sorted etc... and it is taking me forever because I too do not have motivation, time or energy and so have had to set a time when we all just plough into this sorting and cleaning. It falls to pieces every time I have to disappear out of the house for events - nothing gets done and that is something that can not continue - I have mobility issues and mum is a wheel chair user and we have had to have a stair lift and stuff fitted - things can not be left on the floor or in piles in the way - it's just not going to work and is unsafe.

Sadly this is a source of stress for Jean as she has a lot of home work some nights having started her GCSEs and it takes her ages and hurts her due to what now appears to by her version of the hyper-mobility that plagues the family. She felt she had no time to begin with - so we have had to sit down as a family and draw up a plan of exactly how this is going to work and work best for everyone,

So we didn't do our big Christmas shop - this is normally the big outing that gets the bulk food for December and January plus some treaty things and presents and is our family outing with pizza (I have jacket potato these days due to that whole not being able to eat the yummy foods anymore).

So that was Wednesday then there was Thursday - I try and take my mum out and about every other day but sometimes it's only once a week - and Thursday was the only day I could really do this an we went to Dunelm to get her some house thing - we ended up with house things too - because you always do when you enter such shops! This was an extended lunch break for Alaric who then has to make the time up later - but this seems to be working ok at the moment.

Anyway she decided she wanted to push the boat out and get her medicines by herself. So Alaric dropped her off at the ASDA as they have a pharmacy - this was the first proper out on her own that she'd done since my dad died in April.

Her scooter had been fully charged but then she didn't come home and I began to fret - it was starting to get dark - she didn't have her phone on her - it was in her bedroom :/

It was now starting to rain - I started opening the door to check for her - I ended up getting the neighbours to look for her... she was fine she'd gone to look at the cloths in ASDA as well but by the time she turned up I was frazzled and she was being sleeted on and was cold and wet even in her big yellow Mac and me and Jean just helped her into the house and were fussing about making her warm drinks and getting her dry cloths. When I went back the scooter was gone - I thought Jean and Al had put it back in the car... I was wrong.

The mobility scooter - my mum's life line to going out of the house had been stolen. From our front garden and taken down to the carpark at the end of the road and smashed up. Of course I wasn't going to find that out until Friday evening.

Friday I had been given the opportunity to attend a free training course and series of talks including on photography - it was also a networking event with free lunch!

Yay! Things were looking up - I was a little stressed due to running slightly late but my friend and co-story teller was also running late - in fact later than me so other than ending up in an awkward seat it was fine. And I got an entire pack of biscuits to myself - yay for the no gluten or yummy food thing - also the biscuits where yummy.

I met lovely people and was leaning things and had bought a blanket so I wouldn't get cold etc...

Lunch time arrived and I had HOT food and the session I really wanted to attend was after lunch. I ate my food and then took the lift down to the toilets - leaving my phone behind me because I am being paranoid about bad things always happening to me unless I have my phone on me and this was a safe space - so pikachu was relegated to guarding the note book.

I was saving my energy for the event so was using the lift - I am still having to use a crutch to walk any distance at the moment.

All fine... I get into the lift to come back up - the basically new lift in the refurbed historical site and it shonks out... "going going going going going up" reeeee "going going going..." The door won't open to let me out. Dude at the desk spots me and comes over and does magic reset and the door opens and I want to get but think I am just being daft - being trapped with no way out is a big thing for me - just writing this makes my pulse quicken and the panic in stomach and throat start. It's not claustrophobia as I am perfectly happy with small spaces and the trapped in space can be huge and I will still be panicking if I can not see an escape route.

Anyway - he's reset the lift so it should all be fine and I give him the thumbs up and up I go until CLONK it comes to rest almost exactly between the two floors - so that now I can't even see out of a window - there is maybe 20 cm of the window for the ground floor visible at the bottom of the lift. I hit that alarm button until muffled voices appear and the faff starts...

The events organiser appears and I have to tell him that I have seizures and the chances of seizures goes up with stress levels and I don't like being trapped. I say it all calmly and I was working very hard on calm because the last thing I wan't was to have a seizure and plus my instincts tell me to kick and climb my way out of such situations - in the natural world this makes sense - in a lift in a building that is not on fire - it doesn't

I end up sitting on the floor because standing up is too much hard work - literally my legs start shaking with fatigue and I am in pain and now sitting on the floor which I was trying not to do because I know the chances of me needing help back up are really high and Alaric is not there and I can't phone him or even play Pokemon go and there is a poke stop just out side - damn me and trying not to be taken over by my paranoia!

Any way the events organiser stayed by the lift taking to me to keep me calm and then the engineer was there and fixing things - but it seemed like forever - I think the whole thing was half an hour maybe 40 mins and the engineer worked really hard to fix the lift for when I needed to come back down but I opted to go slowly down the stairs.

I had missed the rest of lunch and most of the photo workshop but the talker gave me his contact info so I could ask questions later - I was shaky and got hugged lots. I was going to walk home to a) do fitness and b) to hatch pokamon eggs but I phoned Al and he came and got me.

Then we found the scooter was bashed up and then there was contacting the police and then Saturday we took Mum out in the wheel chair to a caftfair - we have to be careful with the wheel chair as Alaric has sciatica and issues with his back and Jean has issues with her wrists, neck and back.

The craft fair was lovely... the cafe however was very busy and our large lunch order.... well after waiting for over an hour they had to come and give us a refund as they'd run out of food!

Fortunately there was a chip shop but there were hanger issues occurring (angry because you are hungry!) - so yeah that is kind of where I am - it's been one hell of a week

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