2019 year review


I wrote no newsletter last year as what was happening was hard to bear, impossible to share

It’s taken another year’s reflection to process and begin to understand: I was short of the words, disorders, understanding and of the knowledge…………

Home is now me, one old cat, one new pup

Alan left a year ago after a year of PTSD type of behaviour and his taking out what he thought he deserved from home and business. It took me awhile to see what he was doing in his narcissism. I confronted him and he denied it. He shrugged his shoulders: “I’m entitled” was the best I got. He evidently felt that he was. After living with his increasing paranoia along with concealed cameras and him not speaking to me for months I was wanting the pain over with. I set a date in my head when he would be gone. This was so, he left me with a dying dog, a kitten that ran away and a working lurcher that was killing invading rats and preventing Alan from entering the house. He had him sussed: Strider  was guarding me as best he could.

My blood pressure rose to above 200 bpm and doctors offered pills. I’d been on a waiting list for counselling from Women’s Aid since police had sent me there. Its a year later and I’m still waiting. My accountant held all the business books to prevent any more entries being made. I changed the passwords for router and phones to cut his computer access probably way too late.

I sent the accounts to a forensic accountant as I could not trust Alan’s entries. I’d been working flat out for so little return. Something had to blow and it did. On March 18 a blood clot lodged in my cerebellum and I lost consciousness. Shala found me in the kitchen, apparently trying to relight the aga. She recognised my symptoms of confusion and packed me off to Ayr hospital screaming at them” she’s had a stroke” when they prevaricated. I was put on anticoagulants and scanned which visualised brain issues.

I was not fully conscious for five weeks. When I came to I was in Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital Glasgow although looking from the window I was convinced I was in Tarbolton. The brain does its best with limited information. I took some time to understand. My head hurt, my coordination was too poor to be able to walk: I was pushed about in wheelchairs and steadies and fed baby type foods, better than being on drips trussed up like a turkey with sensors and tubes. I’d been kept going while folk had come and gone and shaken their heads. Jaime had been called back from her work in Dundee and had taken over the business temporarily and then closed it down when neurosurgeons did not think I would work again in 2019. People cannot be let down. All storytelling was cancelled: I couldn’t remember any people let alone stories. I scribed in my notebooks in minute writing of my distress. I lived for visitors to remind me of who I was and to help me  know who I could be again.

At the early stage of consciousness recovery I had realised I could not be understood so I thought “who would understand me and could help me?” In my head unfolded pictures of healers I’ve met and worked with and I sent them telepathic messages, careful to say who I was and what I thought I needed. There’s nought more frustrating than receiving a distress call and not knowing where its from. Over time I learnt my message was received and relayed. It was strong enough that a storyteller friend picked it up to and love began to pour in. Now I felt supported. not just by the staff who carefully cared for my daily needs. I was sent to Occupational Therapy to show I could make a cup of tea and a slice of toast then heat up some tinned soup. None of which are my normal fare. They could not know this. They did not know who I had been and I could not impart this information. Friends tried. I navigated long corridors in concrete blocks, found and often lost my way in stairwells, wards and in car parks outside seeking nature. One nurse wheeled me to a garden and I learnt that route so I could return. I need nature so much. Each day I watched the pigeons and seagulls outside on the trees and in the car park twisting and turning in the winds. The weather was fiercely cold. It was easier to be in the ward in a concrete jungle

Repeated MRI scans showed improvements in my brain and I was moved to rehab in Irvine nearer home. It was easier to move about here, the hospital is in park land so I watched jackdaws roosting in the eaves and a fox slinking through the bushes. I wasn’t allowed out unsupervised, visitors were only very occasional (the novelty had worn off perhaps or it was too sad- I had heard it was emotionally difficult to see me so disabled. I found back gates in the ward garden I could slip out of and go pick wild garlic and larch needles as fresh healing herbs. Food here was dire. My natural diet is of fruit and vegetables, raw leaves, fresh eggs and oat flakes which was hard to get, instead I got soggy pasta and boiled veg covered in bottled factory sauce. yuk. We looked forward to our Saturday night take-outs. As I got stronger so I became more bored and frustrated: nothing to do with my hands! I started to read again and asked to go out to the cafe – change is as good as a rest, though they didn’t cater for the gluten free either.  With the spring sun came more brain clarity. I was ready for home but my blood was too thick, I was at risk of more strokes so had to have warfarin injections and daily INR checks until it was thin enough. I did get out to Asda and filled the ward fridge with soy desserts.

Ailsa took me home in June. She and Connie had tidied up and ensured me a fresh bed. After so long in hospital everything smelled odd to me. So many folders and things had been moved by Jaime to keep them safe or to find information, I had no idea where to begin to find anything or where to start. The garden was a jungle so I started on the hedge trimming and pulling nettles. I focused on what I could do not what I couldn’t. I found I was still afraid to go in to Alan’s den (now my garage). I had no dog to walk or cat or hens to care for, they,( cats and hens) came back on my birthday 10 days later. Jimmy cat, now 15 is a blessing. But my dog had been given away.

The house felt empty with no Strider and no family, just me after four months of busy hospital wards.. On the first day home I had a pain that was scary. I called 999, they were with me quickly, reassured me the ECG was fine. I took it to the doctors, she said it was a side-effect of the heart drugs I have been given. The appearance of an ambulance alerted neighbours who shared their concerns and offered their phone numbers: I was back, held by the village, something I’d lost with Alan’s negativity about them all.

Little by little I’ve recovered my health, and my business which took a beating as word got around that I was dead (no, not yet). I’ve managed a couple of story gigs in familiar places. I have to relearn everything I once knew as the hospital psychiatrist predicted. The cattery has protocols I could immerse myself in, folk club events offered songs and stories and I made some new versions from notes and books and recordings

Poetry has been a boon, I even wrote reviews of Irvine hospital in verse so that the staff would take more notice and they have made a sincere effort to change practices since they had never thought things through from a patient’s point of view before, certainly not an autistic patient’s. Analytical ways can be very useful. I was shown improvements they had made when I went back for reviews. At first my life was all doctors and hospital appointments. I’m more stable but still there’s been no counselling. I go for less reviews: there’s another CAT scan due in February. I can drive myself to hospital now. Being able to drive was a massive boon. Good folk offered me lifts and we have buses here but independence is better. I can choose my time of day to travel so that I don’t get overwhelmed by people. The first time I got on the bus was frightening as I couldn’t manage depth perception to be able to get up the steps. I gradually found out my deficits and worked upon them. Yoga practice has been a big help. I’m singing again in a choir and since I went back to my harp class I have slept better. Perhaps it’s just the brainwork but the musical rhythms seem to help. My writing has blossomed and I’ve been accepted onto Red Squirrel Press’s list (the publication will be in another year or two, this is worth waiting for as the team are excellent and in the meantime I can work on the illustrations. Life is a constant process of rediscovery of who I am, who I’ve been and who I will become.

The cattery business ticks over supplanted by Universal Credit, which took six months and my MPs intervention to access! The house bannister, the only home modification I requested, promised by social services has never materialised. It is as well to be independent and have friends who can help. I’m grateful for all that I’ve received and all that I can share. I got to see Jaime after her trans surgery operation, she is doing well. her life moves on apace. She works for the Scottish government now in Dundee.

Last week I collected a beagle puppy I named Maddy from the SSPCA who had been seized from an Irish puppy farm so now I have someone to walk with. She’s not the wild thing that Strider was. No, she’s cuddly, gentle (unless you’re a book or a chicken) and fun.

Christmas day was spent with Shala (who still helps me here) and family and I slept well after eating so richly. I’m only just recovering appetite and interest in food after being so long ill. Its not the best way to lose weight though its been effective!

I hope your year’s been less painful and the New Year to come will be rich indeed.