Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Confession

Hello everyone. My name is Lorna and I'm a hoarder-holic. I am also a very, very bad housewife. 

I may of mentioned it before, but I felt the need to confess it once more, especially as the last two days have been spent tidying and cleaning just two rooms in my house. Two down only three more to do before Christmas Eve, and I'm not including the bedrooms! 

I'm not even sure where it all comes from, or more precisely, who it even belongs to. The elves, pixies, fairies, hobbits, gnomes and the rest of the little people must think my house is a storage unit as all the humans around here claim it isn't theirs. The socks down the sofa, the half glasses of milk found when the smell gives them away and the pile of shoes which grows just by the front door. 

I have yet to tackle the hallway or the kitchen, but I have done the dining room and the conservatory. It might not sound like much to those of you like Paula who never, ever put anything on the table, but in my house a flat surface, or for that matter one not too sloped, means a place to put a piece of paper or two, a book, a parcel, make-up, mirrors...... the list is endless and so was the stuff on my dining room table. 

The table now.

The dining room tree.
The conservatory was worse. As our gateway to the garden the floor was liberally decorated with muddy paw prints, various half chewed toys, wellies, muddy shoes and due to the wet weather soggy socks. The coat rack was bulging with everything from scarves to summer hats and the sofa was piled high with paperwork that needed filing, bubble wrap (well you never know when you might need it), cardboard boxes (ditto), ice cream tubs (do I need to repeat myself) and of course those essential piles of old newspapers. 

The conservatory.
Today I will try and tame the hall and make a start on the preparation for my Italian Extravaganza. I've got twelve hungry mouths to feed on Christmas Eve and that means twelve hand made from scratch, individual 12" pizzas as no-one can agree on toppings. 

I hope you all have a peaceful Christmas and let's all raise a glass to those who we wish could be celebrating with us. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Auntie Sandy

Dear Auntie Sandy,

Mom has allowed me to borrow her account so I could drop you a quick note. 

Mom and Dad are both well. Mom still gets sad about Auntie Paula, in fact she woke up this morning sobbing as she had been dreaming about her. Mom asked Dad if it would ever get any better and he said not so much better but different. 

Of course Mom doesn't have much time to be sad at the moment, she's too busy making biscuits and cards to send out to friends and neighbours. Don't tell her, but I've tried several of her wares and they're not toooooooo bad. 

I am so excited about Christmas. I've been practising my present opening, Mom leaves them on the table for me and I open them and then she wraps them all over again and hides them in the loft. I heard her tell the rest of the house that unlike previous years Santa won't be leaving the presents under the tree, what a mean man! If I get a whiff of him I'll make sure he thinks twice about being so mean. 

Christmas Eve should be good too. We're having another Italian Extravaganza made up of pizza, lasagne, lemon ricotta cheesecake, tiramisu, garlic bread, pizza, ice cream, a bit more pizza and of course a tiny bit more lasagne. I'm not sure what everyone else is eating though!

I think we might all have to start Shrinking Saturdays in the New Year!

I'll try and Mom or Dad to post again before Christmas. 

Woof Woof


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The long and the short of it.

To answer Sandy's comment, no Mike is not still standing on the podium, I really am that short. Actually there isn't that much difference in our heights, only eleven and a half inches, not even a foot! I have suggested several times that we swap legs to even things out a bit.

On Monday Mike had his appointment at the hospital, gosh the three months have flown by. We were called in by the HCA only to be greeted by a registrar. Panic! The last time we were seen by a registrar rather than SB it was because the news was bad, very bad and I instantly thought "great, it's on its way back and SB won't tell us." I needn't have worried, Mike's pp is still less than two and everything is fine.

Which is more than I can say about my sinuses, five weeks later and after a week of TWO anti-biotics I am still suffering from the jaw pain that causes my teeth to hurt when I eat or drink or simply lie still. Back to the doctor's later.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

All's Well That Ends Well

I thought I would update you all on yesterday's MyelomaUK infoday at Birmingham. As I mentioned previously, Mike had been asked to do the Patient and Carer perspective presentation, but more on that later.

As usual the talks by the experts on current treatments, managing side-effects, future strategies and clinical trials were really useful, but the real joy came from meeting other people who's lives have been touched by Myeloma. There was Winston who has just relapsed after a nine year remission and his lovely wife. We finally met up with Sharon another young sufferer who we first made contact with on the Under 50s site and now have as a friend on Facebook. Sharon is lucky to be alive as she had pneumonia and then an infection that attacked her heart just after her SCT. There was a lady called Karen who came to speak to us after Mike's speech who was looking forward to her holiday now she was the other side of treatment and her SCT.

The pair of us with Sharon
Talking of Mike's speech I better let you all know how it went. Mike decided that the best option was to be as positive as possible, just in case there were newly diagnosed patients in the audience. You don't want them too scared by horror stories of infections and near death experiences, do you? The speech was very well accepted with plenty of laughter in the right places and as Dr SB was one of the speakers, audience participation too, especially as he felt he needed to answer Mike's remark that people shouldn't introduce him to students as "the man who likes to dress up as a woman" , just because he impersonated Tina Turner. 

Once again I was amazed at how positive a lot of people are, despite their diagnosis. I really needed yesterday, it cheered me up no end, despite the fact I've had a sinus infection for over a month and I'm now on 2 high strength antibiotics!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Keep calm and keep typing

Don't panic!!!!!
Yes there is only a week to go until we have to email the speech to Myeloma UK so they can super check Mike isn't saying anything too radical.
Have we started it? Yes. 
Have we finished it? No.
Will it be less than 20 minutes in length? Not a hope with Mike's trick of removing equine legs.
Keep calm Lorna it will be fine. All you've got to do is click the mouse for the next slide in the PowerPoint presentation oh and finish the presentation when Mike has finished his speech.

Other news. Today I found a new blog. It is written by an incredibly witty young lady called Emma. She is only 28 and was diagnosed with Myeloma on 20th August. I thought I would share her with you all.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Look out Birmingham!

Hello again. Is it really nearly two weeks since we spoke? Gosh time flies. It's been a busy couple of weeks. I had number one daughter here for a week and two graduation ceremonies to attend, my two sons can now proudly add BSc. to their names.

We've pottered in the garden and cleaned the pond, we can now see the fish once more and they seem to be quite content with the new arrangement of plants and fountain.

I tried to get a photo of the fish but they are shy.

Mike got an email from Myeloma UK asking if he would consider doing the patient talk at the Birmingham Infoday on October 20th, the only problem I can see is stopping him exceeding the twenty minutes alloted!

I'm in charge of the PowerPoint presentation.

Oh and yesterday Toni managed to rip the letterbox off the door. The flap is now super glued shut.

Saturday, 1 September 2012


Firstly, thanks to all of you who have stopped by and left comments in our absence. I can't believe it's been nearly two months since I blogged, the time seems to have flown by.

You'll all be pleased to hear that not much has been happening here. Mike has had the odd cold complete with chesty cough but is otherwise in good health. The hospital has increased the gap between appointments to three months (it was every 6 weeks) and life feels pretty normal. In fact yesterday was the first time in weeks that we even mentioned the M word. It's funny how things have changed over time. At the beginning I wanted to know everything about the M word and how to defeat it , but now I'm more laid back. As I said to Mike "I don't have to know how a jet engine works, I just need it to get me on holiday!"

Like Karen and Sandy recently commented, we are still very raw at times about the loss of Sweet P. Like you Karen I had a complete melt down Thursday evening and found myself sobbing just because I remembered how lonely the two Bs would be at Christmas. I guess there are a lot more tears still to be shed and there is no point trying to stop them.

So, it's a new month and I think about time I tried to blog at least once a week again. I can't promise that they will be interesting posts, I don't have Paula's ability to make even the worst situations funny, but I will try and amuse you any way.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Time to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps!

I've decided it's about time we got ourselves out of the doldrums caused by too many "bad" things over such a short space of time. I know that Paula wouldn't have wanted us to be moping around forever. I still look every morning for an email from her, but that too will pass, to use an expression I've often heard.

Of course the weather doesn't help. I think we've had two dry days the past month, one was on the day of Paula's funeral and the other was yesterday. The garden has suffered for it. Nothing much has grown except the lawn which we can't cut due to the rain and the chickweed which threatens to choke everything.

Toni, who hates getting wet, certainly doesn't like the state of things. Having to "go" outside is a real problem. She firstly has to go out in the rain, which did I mention she hates and then she has to "go" on grass that is almost taller than her!
PLEASE don't make me go out :(

Actually we did try and cut the lawn yesterday but someone left the mower too close to the garage door and during the mini flood we had last Thursday, water got into the handle. Now I thought "that was a week ago, it'll have dried out by now." Obviously not given the loud bang and black smoke that billowed out of it when we tried using it! No real harm was done and Mr Lawn Mower is now at the lawn mower hospital. I on the other hand will probably never be able to look at a Flymo again without breaking out into a cold sweat.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Mike's speech

When Bernard called us to give us the details of the funeral he asked Mike if he would be willing to say a few words. Mike of course agreed and the following is the speech he is making today.

Paula was one of those rare people who instantly made an impression and not only with those people she met in person. There are hundreds of blog readers across the globe who quickly came to love Paula and the tales she told of her life with Bernard, Buddy, crafting and Myeloma. We heard tales of lost keys, she hadn’t told Bernard yet, of mysterious knocks to wing mirrors, she hadn’t told Bernard yet and further purchases of yarn, did Bernard EVER know just how much she had stashed away? Then of course, there was the “Spot the Auntie Ann” competition, so even though we’d never seen her, we soon all knew what the Saints crazy lady looked like. As Paula often pointed out, Auntie Ann was nuts about them.
Lorna and I came to meet Paula through the unfortunate link of myeloma or rather she found us and was the very first person to comment on our very first blog entry on the very same day it was posted. There then followed a friendship of comments on blogs and emails. We travelled up from Wolverhampton with Toni our Jack Russell to meet Paula and the 2Bs as they became fondly known, (sorry Bernard).

Paula was there when I was going through my SCT on the end of a facebook message or email when Lorna needed support. Making light of the stress made it all so much easier to bear. Thanks to Paula I will never think of the word green in quite the same way again.

Last June Paula and Bernard did us the honour of being the witnesses at our wedding. In order to do so, Paula had to escape the hospital where she was having IV antibiotics for a nasty infection. She duly arrived with a bag of knitting which got left in the car. Paula’s natural talent for making new friends was borne out by a comment made by one of our Australian friends Lynne, who along with Dave her husband, had travelled over for the wedding and spent a mere six hours in Paula’s company.

We met Paula once almost a year ago to the day and were immediately impressed by her thoughtfulness and insight and her amazing sense of humour. B. wasn't half bad either.

Another blog friend from New Jersey, Denise, shared Paula’s sharp wit on many an occasion and between them they would often make me blush, although Lorna didn’t seem to be affected in the same way. Denise asked me to say the following:

Really, I just can't seem to find the words to describe how awesome Paula was and I saw that through a computer screen. I'm sure she was absolutely mind-boggling in person.

Maybe Paula’s greatest legacy though, will be the legions of Myeloma Buddies that she knitted and sent across the globe. From Ann-Arbour in Michigan down to Bogota in Columbia, across from North Carolina on the east coast of the US to California on the west, in Italy, Germany and even across to New Zealand, Paula’s buddies, blankets and special hand-made gifts mean that she will always be remembered.

The following comment was made by Phil Brabbs, an ex-American football player who was diagnosed with myeloma in his late 20s.

The Myeloma community has lost a bright soul. She used knitting to spread love to my family and many others. Still to this day my kids only know of Multiple Myeloma in the context of the “Myeloma Buddies” that they cherish and sleep with every night. When Ruby was born we got a special, special package from the UK. Paula had knitted a beautiful baby blanket for Ruby, the one she clutches to every night to comfort her when we leave the room for her to go to bed.

Paula’s generosity and sense of humour was something someone newly diagnosed with MM thrived on. She is going to be dearly missed, but never forgotten by our family. Our kids will one day know her, as they have known the gifts she has given them.

Paula – you will always be loved and thought of by the Brabbs family. Thanks for sharing yourself with us. We will continue to dominate on your behalf.

Friday, 22 June 2012


No matter how hard I have tried this week, I just can't write a proper blog. I tried to do my monthly garden post, but I just kept thinking about Paula and my courgettes and that made me sad. I know I have lots of other readers to amuse, so apologies to the rest of you.

It has been a bad month. The day before we visited Paula my eldest called to say he had slipped on the mud outside his tent and snapped his ankle in 2 places. Then we had the terrible news about Paula followed by another lady last weekend aged 52. Then on Wednesday morning I heard that my eldest daughter had been raped on her way home from work. She had just finished the night shift in a home for the elderly.

So sorry folks, I'll try and resume normal service after the funeral on Monday. Who knows, I might even have some funny tales of B and B to tell.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Paula's Funeral

We have been asked by Paula's family to pass on details of Paula's funeral. It is taking place on Monday 25th June at 11:00 a.m. at St Helens Crematorium, Rainford Road, Windle, St Helens, WA10 6DF. Anyone wishing to attend is welcome.

Paula requested that she have no flowers and we assume donations to Myeloma UK would have been Paula wish.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Bag of revels

Life is like a bag of revels, just when you think you've sussed out the toffee you find yourself biting into a creme (or in my case a coconut) one. Yuk! Yes I'm old enough to remember when there was a coconut in there rather than the equally despised coffee. Little did we think when we got married, a year ago today, that we would be two guests down having mis-placed Sharon and now Paula (the rest of you better watch out I reckon).
The tributes to Paula have been done so much better by Sandy and Phil to name just two of her friends from across the pond. Instead I'm going to do a bag of revels, facts about Paula tribute. You'll have to decide yourselves which, if any, are the dreaded coconut.

Paula hated my courgettes with a passion. It was so bad she wouldn't even have them in her house. The poor things travelled all the way there just to be discarded.

Paula liked to listen to her music in the car at very high volume which meant every time B. got in the car after her he would find his eardrums practically bleeding.

Paula's favourite film was Predator closely followed by anything that would give a sane person nightmares and Steven Seagal action movies.

Paula used to go to work in a dress and Dr Martens and her friend Chris who she worked with often had to tell her to keep her giggling down as the senior partners could hear her upstairs.

Paula's favourite group was Metallica (hence B.'s bleeding eardrums) and she loved Alice Cooper, Bowling for Soup, Def Leppard and generally "noisy" music (or should that be noisy "music".)

Paula had always planned to marry a 6' 5" blond builder, but to quote B. himself, she married him instead. Having said that, B. wanted to marry a page 3 girl and got Paula instead, so it was a fair exchange.

Paula had a wicked sense of humour and I mean just plan mean. She would send Chris, who knows nothing of knitting or crochet, to get her wool. Now Paula knew that Chris knew nothing and would send her knowing she would be asked questions such as "DK or baby?" "What gauge needle is it for?" "What's the tension?" Poor Chris would plead with Paula not to send her, but Paula showed her no mercy.

Paula was stubborn. Auntie Anne recalls Paula's mom taking her to get her hair cut and Paula stubbornly refusing to have it done. It was cut in the end, but Paula just sat at the table and screamed for a long time after.

Paula would always order something different from the take away menu. While B. like me stuck to the same thing, Paula would flit from dish to dish like a gastronomic butterfly.

Paula has left a big hole in so many people's lives, but she wouldn't want us to dwell on what we have lost, but what we gained from knowing her.

The beautiful wedding present Paula made for us.
So we will raise a glass to Paula and Sharon tonight as we celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I'm just annoyed I didn't get the crocheted bed spread I was promised.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Update on Paula for those who don't read Sean's or Roo's blogs.

The following was left by Gill, Paula's s-i-l on another myeloma sufferers blog yesterday.

"I'm Paula's sister in law Gill. So so sorry to hear of Sean's passing. I can tell you that Paula was heartbroken when she heard the news. I am sorry to post here but Bernard wanted me to get information to all Paula's wonderful online friends and I am not really sure how to do it. Paula has had the most horrendous few weeks. The last chemo treatment into her spinal fluid caused extremely severe side effects and she has been so poorly. Last night it was decided to stop further treatment and just make Paula as comfortable as possible. I have just come home from hospital with my son Neil and Bernard and wonderful Aunty Ann are still sat with Paula. It was a hard night as Paula has a few episodes of distress and agitation. However, when I left she was peaceful and far more comfortable. Thank you so much for the messages you sent to Paula on the ward. I don't know how you did it far too computer technical for me. I read each one to her and I just know she heard every word. Please feel free to contact me through Paula's blog (I'll have to just go through the comments part) or we can talk on facebook. God bless to you all."

I know that most of you who read our blog will already know the news, but I wanted to make sure that people like Dave and Lynne in OZ, who met Paula at our wedding last year, and Mike C. too, knew what was happening.

When this photo was taken Paula had actually escaped from the hospital for the day, between her 12 hourly IV antibiotics! I hope you will also note the pints belonging to Bernard and Dave!

Mike and I are due to visit her tomorrow (Saturday).

Monday, 21 May 2012

21st Garden - May

Yes I'm here again, crowing about my garden and the delights it will soon provide (fingers crossed.) The weather between April and today has generally been pretty poor, we even had snow last weekend. It does seem to be improving, well the forecast for the next few days seems to look good.

I think all the wet weather has provided me with a problem I've not really had before:

Can you spot the difference? The top photo should be aubergine like the one below.

Some of the peas have been nibbled too.

It appears we have a snail problem, but given that on occasion Toni has been known to eat them, I think it might be a good idea not to use snail pellets.

So in no particular order I give you:
Butternut squash




Courgette / zucchini
Mange tout


The fruit side is doing quite well too.

Strawberry in flower
Rasberry flower buds
 I know it's not strictly my produce, but I thought I'd also share a photo of my fish pond as it looks now.

July 2011

May 2012

Friday, 18 May 2012

Before you go.

We've all "lost" someone. I've never really understood why we say lost, it's not as if we wandered off and left them in a shop or dropped them down the side of the sofa. But I digress. As we all know the only sure thing in life is that we're all going to die.

Now we all hate the morbid subject of D.E.A.T.H. but as Terry Pratchett has told us, he's only doing his job. The tricky thing is telling those you love that you do love them, without constantly saying "just in case I don't see you alive again....." So most of the time we don't tell people how we feel. Oh it's easy to make sure we tell our family that we see every day, but what about family and friends we see less frequently? Trickier. I could fill facebook every day with posts on all my friends' walls, but they'd soon unfriend me for spamming them. The problem is that most of the time we just don't know when that bus will coming crashing into us. Even when like Mike, you've been told there's a bus just around the corner, there is still no accurate timetable that we can refer to.

Now most of you read Paula's blog and her bus seems to be revving it's engine! It's certainly not fair that such a wonderful, caring, funny, talented and loving person should even have cancer so it's a downright disgrace to think we might "lose" her. So before she goes I just want to say, "We love you Paula."

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Latest, well late any way.

Well despite several changes in lifestyle and various medical interventions that I would rather not discuss on a blog that can be read by miners minors, I am still not seeing any improvement in my memory. I could bore you all with the lists of things I meant to do, didn't do or forgot to say, but I can't remember half of them and I've forgotten where I put the lists!

What I did realise this morning was I didn't tell you all about what happened after my last blog entry. Actually I had realised, but Mike was always on the lap top and trying to blog on my phone is impossible.

So, by the evening of Sunday Mike seemed to be getting over the sinus thing but started to complain of a terrible pain in the region of his ribs. I thought at first that may be he had pulled a muscle or something similar whilst coughing. He took a load of painkillers and went to bed. By Monday morning however he had decided that the central heating was not doing a good enough job and proceeded to try and heat himself, the bed, me and Toni by spiking a temperature of 39 C (102 F). By half past eight we were on the phone to the GP's surgery and managed to get an appointment the same day. By noon we were on our way to the hospital to visit the Emergency Admisions Unit with suspected pneumonia.

By half past two Mike had been seen by a junior doctor, had a trip to x-ray to have snaps taken of his chest and been given a dose of antibiotics. At that point everything seemed to be going quite well. We were still waiting for news at six when we were called in to see the consultant. Now where as the junior doctor had been pleasant the consultant had decided some time ago, that she knew it all so did not want to hear anything that conflicted with her version of events. What she did say was there was no sign of a pneumonia, but that Mike's kidneys were no good (that's why we see a renal doctor?) and that obviously Mike wasn't drinking enough (3 litres in less than 24 hours?) so she wanted to admit him for IV antibiotics, fluid and investigations into his kidneys (did we mention Mike is already under a renal doctor?) Mike agreed to the IV antibiotics, but made it quite clear he did not consent to the rest. We were then dispatched back to the waiting room so they could find a bed.

At ten o'clock we were still waiting. By this time the waiting room was full of people waiting, several of them elderly with oxygen masks and I heard a paramedic explaining to one elderly couple that they may be waiting a while as there were no beds at all in the hospital. Mike spoke to the nurse in charge and she confirmed the fact. Mike asked what he was supposed to do and she apologetically said, sit and wait. Mike asked the nurse if he could go home and return in the morning as he had slept very little the previous night and needed some rest. The nurse said she would ask the consultant, which she did, but iron drawers refused to sanction it and said Mike would have to discharge himself against medical advice. A few minutes later a young doctor was n front of him, sheepishly explaining the risks and getting him to sign the piece of paper that would allow him to escape.
I'd like to say things were better the following day at the GP's, but unfortunately the doctor we saw (not one of the normal practice ones) knew the consultant we had seen and decided that she couldn't do anything for us initially and suggested we go back to EAU. Eventually we got some antibiotics and painkillers out of her, but it was more like getting blood out of a stone!

Ten days on and Mike is now once more full of the joys of Spring, I just wish the garden was as sunny!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Time of year?

Well Mike has got to go for a chest x-ray tomorrow to see if the antibiotics did there job and to check there is something else causing the cough. Ironically it would seem that just like two years ago, he may now be going down with a sinus infection. He sounds a bit funny when he talks, (I know he always sounds a bit strange in the head but that's why I love him) and it reminds me of when he was ill and in hospital for weeks and weeks back in 2010. On that occasion he was admitted on May 7 after a couple of weeks of being off colour and then a week of gradually going downhill until he was so ill he couldn't swallow or even speak clearly.

It has got me thinking that may be it is caused by a reaction to a certain type of pollen. Is it a particular tree that flowers the end of April? Or is it simply coincidence or bad luck?

Polite answers will be gratefully received.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

21st Garden - April

I nipped out while it was still sunny and my porridge was cooking and took my photos. Even as I type, the sky is clouding over.



Butternut Squash


Onions (oh and weeds)

Pea (plus weeds)

Potatoes (what do you mean "where"?)





The beetroot, carrots and swedes are too hard to identify yet, may be next month.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Oh no!

While I was busy washing up a parcel arrived.

Mike took it into the lounge and started opening it, well he got Toni to.

Can you tell what it is yet?

I'm not impressed with the service! Aren't they supposed to lose it at the depot only to find it six months later after irate phone calls and threats of legal action?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

April showers, more like an Arctic monsoon!

Firstly an update on Mike. He is feeling much better than he did on Saturday. He is still coughing, but it's not as painful as it was. Of course he seems to cough more at night, waking yours truly, although it may simply be that I have no choice but to listen to him then. ;-)

As some of you will know, the weather has taken a turn for the worse here. Ironically the second they announced that the area is officially in a drought, the heavens opened and we had first the typical April showers (that bring the flowers that bloom in May) followed by constant rain with the odd hailstone episode and strong winds. I'm not a happy bunny, it's wrecking my garden!

As you can see Toni's bunny isn't very happy either.
 I did have some good news on Saturday though, my ironing board collapsed and is now unusable (hooray!) Even better is the fact Mike has been too ill to take me to buy a new one (double hooray!) Unfortunately he decided to go online and order one yesterday (boooooo!!) Fingers crossed it takes a couple of weeks to arrive, by then Mike will have fished his shirts out of the pile and worn them any way.

Now don't laugh at him Toni.