A year … of sorts

I wrote this last May/June. So it will serve for a different annual review.

A year in review

It’s been the oddest twelve months.

The day I fell over last May I felt as though I was watching myself in a slow motion film. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.

I’ve had falls before in my adult life but managed to avoid hospitals with bad sprains and quite probably fractures. But when I couldn’t stand up, let alone put weight on it, even I bowed to the inevitable.

It’s not often unemployment is a blessing, but I couldn’t have managed if my partner had been working. He couldn’t have managed, as absolutely everything fell on him.

And to be honest, he’s still doing everything outside the house, my feeble practical contribution to our life is limited to cooking, washing up, and the (very) occasional cleaning.

If I’d had an office job, I’d have got the sack for not being able to get to work after months, weeks maybe, let alone a year.

From being frustrated in hospital, gazing out at the big wide world, imagining the sun and the breeze on my face, I’m now used to being relatively housebound because I lack the confidence to go out in the busy streets.

Gibraltar is busy at the best of times, but when cruise ships come in and spew out thousands of passengers, even people who can walk properly avoid Main Street and use one of the parallel back streets. Oh and I’m vain. I don’t want to be seen limping.

On May 13 last year (2014), I insisted on coming home. I’d spent 12 days waiting for the op due to fracture blisters and another three days trying to learn to hop with a frame. Crutches were a no. They were quite happy to keep me in until I could have managed on crutches. Oh no. Not another weekend in that hermetically sealed building (windows didn’t open) gazing out at the sea, the blue sky, the Rock, Morocco.

A few weeks before that anniversary of May 2014, I woke up with a shooting pain. I thought I must have stubbed my toe hobbling around the flat but didn’t remember it.

‘Gout?’ suggested Partner. I groaned. Both my parents had it. Among the many supposed factors that lead to it, one is familial history, and another is … surgery. Also add in shellfish, liver, cauliflower, lentils, mushrooms, beer and goodness knows what else.

I remembered laughing at my dad when he first got it. He was in agony, had no idea what it was, and because he couldn’t walk, he called out the doctor. Back then, it was thought to be due to drinking port and eating game, the ‘rich man’s disease’.

Men get it more than women, and they get it younger than women. As ever, it’s one to add to the list for post-menopausal women. We trade periods for osteoporosis and gout. Life’s great as a woman.

It delayed our trip to Spain. Attacks typically last 3–10 days. The acute hurts-like-hell phase is probably three. Then it lingers around for a while. Lemon juice is meant to be helpful. So I guzzled loads of it. There are tablets. How does one get a prescription when unable to walk? Irrelevant as I don’t do tablets.

Weeks later, I got a pain in my side. I’d had it before but it went off. It was as though I’d been lying awkwardly. No, not appendicitis. Wrong side, and I had it removed fifty years ago.

This time, the pain didn’t go away. It got worse. It stabbed my back and my guts. I groaned all night keeping both of us awake until 5am when tiredness gave us a brief respite. A consultation with Dr Internet diagnosed kidney stone/s.

It eased off during the day, but started coming back again. I bit the bullet. Or more to the point, the Ibuprofen. Forget what I wrote about not doing tablets. This merited a painkiller. Which, I’d been given as a leaving gift from hospital 12 months previously and not touched.

And strangely, the pain disappeared, maybe the stone did too. Who knows. However both gout and kidney stones reoccur, so I looked up prevention. By the time I’d read conflicting information about eat/drink this but not that, my head was spinning. I found something that said drink beer so eagerly latched onto that. In the end I decided not to change anything about what I eat or drink, especially as much of the advice leant towards a vegetarian diet.

But if I was feeling sorry for myself, the tale of my neighbour jolted me into reality. She has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) ie she struggles to breathe. It’s got worse. No she doesn’t smoke, but she used to. She also used to work in a chemical factory.

She would walk to work but had to start using the bus. Partner caught the bus with her one day and she couldn’t walk from the stop to Morrison’s without pausing to rest. She was moved from a job dealing with people to a desk job.

Next, she had an oxygen bottle delivered to home to help breathing. It failed and she was taken to hospital. Every time they tried to drop it down from 100% oxygen she struggled to breathe. She was in for three weeks. During which time her evil employers told her to resign. And … she did. Workers’ rights. Where are they? Someone is struggling to breathe and she is pressurised to resign? Bad bad employers. Rot in hell.

So she’s not just flatbound. A lot of the time she is bedbound. At least I can breathe even if I can’t walk too well.

Another neighbour was talking about his problems walking. ‘Eventually my knees will give way,’ he said calmly.

Wishing my university friend a happy birthday two months back, she wrote back expressing sympathy about my continued lack of mobility, and informed me she had now broken her other ankle after having a similar break to mine a couple of years ago. She had gone on holiday in a wheelchair.

Going back to Spain, we were upset to discover both our elderly neighbours were ill with flu/cold. He’s 88 and she’s 85, I think. One day he came out to say hello. He looked grey. Very grey. Death-not-so-very-warmed-up grey. We feared the worst. It cast a damper over our visit. And then a few days later, he was out in the street, looking at least less grey. Phew.

So while it might have been a strange year for me, there is nothing truer than there is always, always someone worse off. Plenty of people better off, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be reliant on oxygen bottles to breathe. Limping pales into insignificance.

Update

After two months, the kidney stones came back. The Ibuprofen didn’t work. A neighbour suggested gin. I sent Partner hotfoot down the town for a bottle of Larios. Dirt cheap in Gib, currently £5.45. And … it really did work. Amazing. I haven’t drunk gin for years, but kidney stones are evil. One website I looked at said they were worse than childbirth.

My neighbour who couldn’t breathe went back into hospital and died in July, I think. She was early 60s. ‘I’ve no life like this,’ she said in hospital.

A friend of Partner’s was diagnosed with kidney and liver failure. After a few weeks on the dialysis machine in Gib (there’s only one), he was transferred to Algeciras where he died. He was 51. No one had a bad word to say about him, and his funeral was packed.

And I’m moaning about a broken ankle?

When I can walk down the beach on New Year’s Day?

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101 comments on “A year … of sorts

  1. Ah, dear, dear. Seems last year was an odd and/or bad year for so many, and it’s awful that we need to be reminded to grateful on the back (or ankle/kidney stones, whatever) of others who are worse off, but that’s life (and being human), I suppose. I’m glad you’re getting out and about notwithstanding your allergy to the hoards (which I share, incidentally). Hope that this year sees you hale and hearty and swanning around as much and as often as you please.

    And thanks for “dropping” in from time to time!!

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  2. “kidney stones are evil. One website I looked at said they were worse than childbirth.” – I’ve been told the same. And I have ‘birthed’ a large one too. The doctor nearly fainted when I showed it to her. I’ve experienced a huge variety of pain in my time, but the kidney stone, (and a burst eardrum), is right near the top of the list or horror. You don’t want to know what sits at number one. I have another kidney stone at present, and it is huge, but causing no problems at present. I’m hoping it will just settle down and retire gracefully.

    My father has relatively mild c.o.p.d, and a friend has to use an oxygen bottle for it regularly. It’s a truly grim condition.

    I hope your gout stays silent, and like the upbeat ending, and the pictures are cracking. *smiles*.

    – esme upon the Cloud

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    • Suspect I have eardrum probs too. Well tinnitus rings big. With vertigo. Should you like a bottle of Larios for the KS?
      An internet friend had lung cancer and COPD and hung on for far longer than I expected. Not that she stopped smoking. Some friends and I sent her the thousand cranes. Maybe it gave her extra time. Who knows? I think COPD is underdiagnosed.
      Upbeat ending? Damn, I forgot the school dinners part. Must add that to next post … most upbeat :)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear ladies, I have to agree on kidney stones, but after several years of knife in the flank pain I finally decided that I had to do something about it. I saw a urologist who (finally after many complaints to my regular doc) got rid of (most) of the infection I had been dealing with on the side, then scheduled a procedure called a lithotripsy. It is a fascinating procedure and it works like a charm. Standing orders before the procedure is a routine type chest xray. No problem. Stone shattered and gone, pain gone, then the urologist mentioned something that had been noted on the xray. It seems I had a tumor in my right lung that was too small to cause problems yet but promised to get bigger. Wow. I was very lucky, that was all 4 years ago and the tumor went the way of the kidney stone and I didn’t even need any follow up treatment from the surgery. I lost one of the smaller lobes of the lungs, went back to work and have been fine since then. Strange tale, literally the cloud with a silver lining.

      As for the lithotripsy, see if you can obtain that procedure. Gibralter is small compared to the countries around it, you may have to go back to the UK, but it’s an outpatient procedure and the worst part of it is straining your urine for the next few days to find the fragments.

      While dealing with the evil kidney stone one of the best pieces of advice I received was to drink lemonade (preferably made with real lemons) since the acids in it counter act the calcium ions that would otherwise precipitate into stones. In fact, I was told that it could help dissolve them! In any case, a tasty and refreshing treatment cheap and easy to acquire!

      Here’s to a better year and loads of good things for you all!

      Mariah

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mariah, thanks so much for that. I’ve read about lithotripsy. May be available here, but touch wood, I’ve not had problems for months now. I do have regular supplies of lemons from my neighbours in Spain though which may help.

        One of our friends went screaming into A&E one night in agony, and … he went to the toilet and peed out the stone. Skipped out happily!

        I’m glad yours got sorted, and moreso, your lung problem. As on this post, lung probs are bad news. Kidney stones are painful, but they don’t stop you breathing.

        You have a good year too :)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Maria, I’m pleased to hear about the successes you’ve had there, especially the tumour. By the gods! For myself I already know of the laser procedure and due to previous surgery it would be too dangerous to blast the big bugger if it isn’t actually causing any trouble. I’ve had it for a good thirteen years now and it has only grown a millimetre in that time, so fingers crossed it will remain where it is, and stay asleep.

        I return your good wishes heartily! *smiles*

        – esme waving from upon the Cloud

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the way you describe the year … ‘of sorts’. :D

    I think many of us have something like that and you are right, there is always someone worse off. True, lots of people are better off and I am grateful for my health, as bad as it can be on some days, I can still do what I want to do.

    That fall you had was a really bad fall and it could have been worse. It feels like yesterday though. Time does fly so fast, doesn’t it?

    I am just glad you are doing better and my wish for you is that those ailments will stay in the past where they belong. It’s great to see you walking down to the beach again and I hope we are going to see much more stunning shots like this.

    The structure of the Osborne bull is so amazing and the story behind it is very interesting as well. From the view you took it from, it seems it’s guarding everyone down below. :D

    Those straight lines look so neat. Yeah, let’s not mention the pesticides. Clearly no bugs will be found there, so no photo opportunities. I really do prefer you garden. :D

    Looks like the beach bar wasn’t open. I wouldn’t mind a little place like that on the beach at all. Then you can walk down every day, you and partner can drink for free and there will always be a treat for Snows and we’ll have long, relaxing chats. Nothing on feminism though. No, no, no! :lol:

    What a cute little pony! I bet he enjoyed that stroking. Whose was it?

    With me there thos artichokes wouldn’t have lasted long. What a glorious sight!

    That foliage does look gorgeous! Looks like a honeysuckle. What did the beach house look like? I bet it’s the one I am going to live in. :P

    You really had a perfect New Year’s day. Just the sea and no hordes of people in sight. But I am sure it doesn’t look like that in summer. Sounds like around here. Luckily we only have a dam, so no cruise ships can dock here. Unfortunately they now have more ‘party boats’ on the dam for the tourists and boy, can they make a noise and mess!

    I don’t blame you for not wanting to ‘limp’ around. It must have been such a difficult year for you darling and I do think you’re also glad it’s over. Thanks for sharing these amazing views. It’s always great to do a virtual travel with you. One of these days I am sure they will finish the teleport I ordered and then I can be there in a flash! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow Sonel! Where to start? Well the beach of course. It’s always a personal goal. Before, a walk up to the bull was too, before it was fenced off.

      As we age, health is something we no longer take for granted. I was always so fit.

      I have just the place for you on the beach. House to die for. Need to find the pic. Owned by an embassy as far as we know!

      No free drinks in Spain :( but still, we could take our own, and sit under an umbrella. Of course we would chat about feminism. Yes yes yes!

      Pony? Bar maybe?

      In summer, the beach is covered. Ours is a very popular beach.

      Teleport? SA is well on my list of places to visit. Watch out!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Of course the beach darling and I would even do my best to hurt not too much and take those long walks with you as well. Us too crocks will make each other feel better. :D

        That is a fact for sure. The days when I don’t have any pain are my best days. The same here. I used to gym, dance and run. Now I only swim and walk, but I am very grateful for that as well. :D

        That sounds heavenly and of course it would be owned by die embassy. Only they can afford places like that. :lol: But I’ll take it off their hands. They won’t say no. :lol:

        Well, in my bar there will always be free drinks for you and A and no, no debates please. They give me a headache. Still struggling to get rid of the last one. :P

        Lots of ponies and maybe 2 bars. You and A can run the other one.

        Nah, we’ll get a beach where only a few people are allowed. You know I hate crowds.

        Yeah! I just wish they would get on with it. Gib will be first on my list for sure! :D

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        • I think a leisurely walk down around the beach would suit just fine. Especially with ponies to stroke :) There used to be donkeys before. I did none of those. Just walking (and backpacking), cycling and swimming. Trouble is right now, I’m not balanced enough to get in and out of the water, we have big surges where we are. But I look at the sea, and it pulls. It really does. I love swimming.

          Private beach, plus bar plus animals, plus a nice house. What do you reckon?

          Liked by 2 people

          • Absolutely and yes, lots of ponies to stroke. :)

            We’ll get you balanced out soon enough and have a talk with those surges. They don’t need to be that rude. :P But just for you I’ll build a swimming pool right on the beach where you can swim to your heart’s content. :D

            Sounds like heaven. :D ♥

            Liked by 1 person

          • Did pool swimming for years. Swimming against the current is well good for strength as I realised a few years back. The sea does support you well though. Such buoyancy. Anyway, it’s free! I just need to lose weight and get these legs working.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. So glad the beach is walk worthy there, Southern California is being drenched by the rain we desperately need. Right now we’re very happy that “beach wear” includes umbrellas! Next time out in the sun, smile and think of the rest of us… at least no sleet, hail, snow, ice or any of those other crazy things!

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  5. Well, this is a cheery post to welcome the new year! But I think the message is clear – be grateful for what we have – even if it involves a bit of discomfort- someone somewhere is always worse off. And at least you’ve got that beach. Imagine if you were still living up north – you’d’ve been flooded out this Christmas! Happy 2016, hope it is accident free for you.

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  6. While I was reading the part about gout, I was thinking; «the myth I’ve heard about what supposedly causes gout is gin», then I got to the kidney stones part :) Never heard that one.

    Lots of sad events there. Does it make you feel any different/better when you notice how bad other people have it? We have a guy, in the building here — I don’t think he’s fifty even, always a big smile and something cheerful to say, helpful to old people … and two leg prostheses. Both legs amputated below the knees and he walks very well now. I’ve followed the process/training from a distance, I don’t know him well, but I try to think about him when I’m feeling sick/low/whatever.

    What a cute, little horse!

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  7. The like is for your lovely photos taken down at the beach and for the fact that you were able to get there, Kate. I’m so sorry you’ve been through so much pain and suffering this last while. May this year be much easier on you, I think you’ve had far more than your fair share of troubles. *hugs*

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  8. That was an awful year all round. I understand you disliking the hordes of visitors and going out when they’re about I can’t handle crowds either. I have COPD but haven’t reached the oxygen bottle stage yet and can still get about if slowly. I’m happy that you’re trying to get about outside though as it means not just the ankle getting stronger but also your confidence returning a bit.
    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda Kate and Partner. Let’s hope this is a wonderful New Year for you both.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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    • I was sad about the people who died. Still am.

      Getting out is hellish difficult when you have problems walking, for whatever reason.

      You have COPD and you still smoke?!!!!!

      BND to you too. I always forget it, until you wish it to me :)

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  9. That is indeed a pretty rough year — especially for those who are living with the challenges you document here. And I am glad you are gaining strength.
    My youngest brother is currently in hospital (as far as I know it’s his first visit since infancy) with pneumonia. He’s doing okay — we think — but my sister was shocked when he casually told the doctor (after about 6 medical histories had already been collected over his few days in the place) that “Oh yeah. I was diagnosed with a potential case of COPD.” We had never been told, and he never thought to tell the doctors.
    My mom, coincidentally, has just been admitted to another hospital right across town from my brother’s — with possible seizures. She is cranky and insisting that because she owns her suite she can go back any time she wants to. Um, no. Not while you are flat on your back and can’t take care of any of your daily needs yet.
    I am so glad you are recovered enough to get out and about more. May this year be fuller of the lovely stuff like the pony.

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    • Not that bad in retrospect. I think COPD doesn’t get enough mention. It’s not nice. Everyone thinks smoking = lung cancer, but it also = COPD.

      Pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, the list just goes on. Take care of your lungs – but we can’t all do that, depending on circumstances :(

      Health care. Ugh. Nightmare in older age. I can see why she wants out. Oddly in Gib hosp many of the older ones enjoyed their stay in hospital. Why not? Room service, cooked meals, no cleaning. TV, books, walking around if you could. Visitors. Quite the life really.

      Yeah, nice pony :)

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  10. Well, I know lots of bad stuff happens every year, but your experiences and ours and those of many people we know do tend to indicate that 2015 was a stinker. I hope this year has better aspirations – too late for the lady on oxygen, alas.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pony. Windows that won’t open are so depressing. Heredity is such a stumbling block (was wondering how you could possibly have gout). Kidney stones (sign to keep away evil inserted here). Saw a friend have her first attack when in college – it is worse than childbirth. There’s a lot of different treatments now beside watching one writhe in agony. An aunt had them zapped or something while sitting in a vat of water or something. Hope I never have to find out.
    As you say, there’s always someone worse off. The trick seems to be to keep moving or all sorts of stuff breaks. Good health is rarely appreciated until it’s gone. Trying to take more care here.
    Knock on wood and drink that lemon water (That’s stylish here – maybe a good thing from what you say.) As long as we can get to the beach or mountains and look out, life will be tolerable and manageable. Cheers for a new year!

    Like

    • Nice pony. I used to be an inveterate carrot/apple feeder in my richer days. Yes. The world is out there but untouchable, sealed in a hermetic bubble.
      Maybe not just hereditary given the surgery link. Same foot? Less than 12 months post-op?
      I think zapping is for large persistant ones, hoping to keep these at bay or lemoned.
      Keeping moving is good. My Spanish neighbour is 89 this month and still keeps walking up and down the street to make sure his legs keep working.
      It’s always good to be able to see another new year :)🎉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks CS, thoughtful of you to let me know.

      I’ve had a quick scan of your post and comments and all it does is bear out my point. We are at such opposite ends of the spectrum we (speaking generally not personally) can’t agree on anything. Just as my comment says there is no point in starting a discussion, the essence of your commenters’ replies is to say non-Christians are morally doomed because we don’t abide by your god’s rules so there is no point speaking to the heathens until they repent.

      Let’s be honest we can’t even agree on the beauty of a flower or a sunset without one of you mentioning God. And that’s the problem.

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      • Tkx rs-

        Let’s say for a moment, all the comments were completely off base, which leaves the post to itself.

        Where is your defense for your line I opened with, based on my following dismantling?

        For context, it may be better for you to answer over there though, as your readers here will be lost.

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        • CS, I thought your commenters’ replies were relevant as they said the same as me from the other end of the spectrum. We all are who we are.

          Defence? Dismantling? I don’t need to defend my comments. They stand. And if you think your commenters were off base perhaps that would suggest they weren’t addressing the points adequately.

          My readers are well used to off topic. I am not interested in going into the lions’ den. For reasons stated. No sensible discussion. Thanks CS, but no thanks. No disrespect, but I see no value when every single argument comes down to BUT GOD! Which was my point. Have a discussion without GOD! and I’ll consider. Otherwise, slag me off to your hearts’ content in my moral abyss of sin.

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          • Ok,

            Just making the point that my answer to you using history as a teacher pretty much put your comment in the bin, that’s all.

            The example of Solomon was well worth its weight.

            And no, I was not disagreeing with any commenters.

            And there is no ‘slagging off, btw.’

            Catch ya later.

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          • As you choose. Did you use history or scripture as a teacher? One is fairly factual, the other one is, well, mythical.

            The example of Solomon is only worth its weight for those who share your beliefs. Which again, makes my point. No. Point. Arguing. With. Bible. Believers.

            Did I say you disagreed with your commenters? No. You said they were off-base. Which I repeated back. Don’t misrepresent my comments.

            Oh, I think there is, but, I can live with a little pious self-gratified smirking from a few godsquaddders.

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          • Seriously rs?

            You say I am misrepresenting you? No.

            I presented to you a HYPOTHETICAL…………read it again. I was trying to show you the strength of my post to you WITHOUT comments……………..which all were good by the way.

            Anyway, you will address my post HERE, and not travel THERE where the context is vital?

            See ya there or nowhere I suppose on this one. But lions den? Good one.

            Like

          • You were presenting a hypothesis. Or a hypothetical case/scenario/situation. Hypothetical is an adjective and needs a noun. Or the noun to be used is hypothesis. However. Thanks for explaining and I’m sorry I misunderstood your hypothetical suggestion.

            Anyway. I made the trip out of courtesy. For what it was worth. My original point stands. Just as you consider yours do.

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  12. I’m not sure if what I sometimes get in my big toe is gout or arthritis, but I’ve found that a small bowl of black cherries [we call them Morello or sour cherries here] every day makes it go away. Worth a try if you hate take meds as much as I do.

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  13. Sheesh, all I can say is “yikes”! All these people leaving the planet that young!
    I understand both gout and kidney stones are (or can be?) caused by urea crystals and can be counteracted by drinking citro soda. But then, gin is good news.

    Stay strong. I love the pics!

    Like

    • I probably got used to it when a university friend died at 38. Trouble is, mortality creeps up, and it seems more relevant now.
      I understand fizzy drinks can cause the problem! As ever there is so much contradictory info out there. Gin is not good news! I don’t want to drink it. Although it is cheap cheap here in Gib.

      Thank you :)

      Liked by 1 person

  14. My husband shattered both of his feet in 2014. It took some time, but he’s doing great now. He’ll always have to deal with pain there, but nothing like what he first endured. The best part is, he can walk. Keep pushing forward and keep the faith in yourself. I’ve learned that the human spirit can overcome much more than we realize.
    https://loreezlane.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/a-tale-about-feet/

    My mom has COPD. She smoked for 50 years until the diagnosis. Sort of makes me mad at her, but I was there at the hospital with her until 3am last night. Yawn. She has bouts, but she’s home today and doing better … doesn’t need oxygen yet.

    May your 2016 be blessed with good health and happiness. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    Like

    • I found that story of your husband’s horrific. Seemed to have broken every bone in his foot :( well, feet. My real problem now, combined with vertigo and tinnitus, is sheer balance.

      I had an internet pal with COPD and lung cancer and still she smoked. But there again, at that point, one might ask why not? Our COPD neighbour deteriorated rapidly. Glad I’ve never smoked. I don’t think COPD gets enough coverage. It’s very insidious.

      The same to you, and best wishes for your mum’s health, and your husband too. Health is so precious.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. My dad suffered terribly with gout… just hope I don’t get it. Got enough bloody problems that I’m working through at the mo. Anyway, I just thought I’d pop by to see was the ol’ lass was up to before sinking into another book, (Hence the post visits and comments… You’re honoured; haven’t been to any other blogs!) ;)

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  16. sounds like quite a rough year – am glad that you were able to make it to the beach! how lovely is that.
    but am sorry to hear about your neighbour who couldn’t breathe. that really is no age…
     
    here’s to a much better year ahead. sending you hugs, and Timmy sends purrs. do take care!

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  17. Your new years walk does look great. Thr thought of kidney stones, though, is not so nice. Friends of mine who suffer from them find no relief from anything less than a full-on narcotic like Demerol. I hope it passes soon.

    Like

    • It was excellent. I love a good new year or xmas/boxing day walk. A Brit thing I suppose.

      My neighbour seemed to have hit the nail on the head, the gin did seem to get rid of it. Not that I want the gin, but the stones were hellish painful. Weird. Just weird.

      Like

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