Tuesday, August 31, 2010

garden delights

Bright sunshine but not too hot, just my sort of day even though there were times when it was necessary to retreat into the house for a respite from our overheated toil.

It's been wonderful spending a bit of time in the garden with my beloved, doing a bit of tidying up, transplanting items to more appropriate sites etc. but, even more importantly, taking time out to sit and observe the active enviroment. A spider's activity, creating and mooring a web between three flimsy breeze swayed reeds proved most entertaining and, I managed to catch some video footage of this engineering feat as well as a few close-up still shots of the engineer.

Both web and spider were wonderfully backlit from our vantage point and, it was amazing to note how swiftly some of the neighbourhood midges became hopelessly entangled in the arachnids handiwork. Guess the spider was relieved that all that work was proving cost effective time and motion wise.

A short while later I was thrilled to see, and hear, a couple of longtailed tits in the garden, the first time I've observed any here since before the long hard winter. Obviously as autumn approaches they're busy genning up on the locations of local feeding stations.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

An Ordinary Privileged Life

I seem to have been so busy enjoying life, since my appetite (for food and a few other perks) returned, that I'm left wondering where the time has gone. To be able, once again, to enjoy cooking feels like such a tremendous privilege (and, I suppose that as part of the global community we really do belong to a privileged group insofar as we don't have to worry about where our next meal is coming from). Even simple chores, like watering the tomato plants or giving the lawn a quick trim, have taken a whole new dimension - no longer chores but rather pleasurable activities. I've even managed to catch up with some essential ( and probably overdue) filter cleaning and replacement in the 180 litre aquarium. Come to that, I even got around to vacuuming the gravel as well sorting out the distressed aquatic plants.

The most important recent event is the commencement of my beloved's holiday, by which I mean she has a few days off work! Earlier in the year, we had contemplated another visit to the south coast, to stay with my brother and his wife, but having had frequent difficulties with travelling (even locally at times) ever since the onset of M.E., recent health setbacks have definitely ruled out this prospect. Mind you, there's always plenty of sorting out to do in both the garden and the house; fortunately, we enjoy each others company, so I'm really looking forward to quite simply basking in the close proximity of ma belle.

At lunchtime today we popped out to Cafe Culture, for a delicious light lunch, before heading over to the aquatic shop where we duly acquired five additional white cloud, and three golden, minnows to gently introduce to our aquarium. It's wonderful to note how swiftly they became part of a pre-existing shoal, with only an infrequent display of bickering!

Having prepared a casserole, for tomorrow's lunch, we settled down to enjoy a recording of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Promenade Concert which was being shown on BBC2 - a really fun start to a Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Much Ado About Something

There's nothing quite so rewarding as a good burp! At least following on from today's gastroscopy, during which some air is pumped into the intestines, it felt really good to expel some of the excess via the facial orifice. Mind you, as time went by, I did also find that other orifices helped alleviate some of the pressure.

I decided against having the sedative injection, wondering if it may adversely react with my M.E. sensitivities, whilst simultaneously wondering whether I would be sufficiently relaxed to perform the appropriate co-ordination of swallowing and nasal breathing, if I didn't have it. The wonderful thing is that I was ready to go home within a few minutes of the op having been performed and, able to eat and drink normally one hour after the throat spray anaesthetic had been administered.

Apart from one or two involuntary gagging responses, as the camera was manouevred around, the experience wasn't too bad at all. The exploration didn't disclose any abnormalities but, a biopsy from the stomach was taken to find out if there's any kind of bacterial infection.

It seems quite strange to me that one can experience so many spasmodic intensely discomforting / disconcerting symptoms for which further exploration is unable to find a cause. I am so grateful for the National Health Service that I, and countless others, are able to undergo these procedures without having to worry about whether their bank balance will permit such activities to take place.

Monday, August 16, 2010

contrary impulses

After a slow, lightly grey-cast morning, come noontide and we're greeted with clear blue sunlit skies. Large whites flitter and dance around the lavender and aconitums whilst the peacock variety of butterfly seem to make the buddleia their focus of attention. The sun-soaked pale beige shed wall plays host to others of the peacock line as they idly stretch out their wings in a posture of submission to the sun god.

It's so easy to feel the lure of this sparkling day, to dash out, throwing all caution to the wind,and soak up the radiance through every pore, but then reality bites. I take heed of the warning notes, issued when my carcinoma was diagnosed, seek shade between 11.00am and 3.00pm, always cover up and wear wide-brimmed hats when outdoors ... etc. The strange thing is, with these proscriptions in place, although hot weather has never really suited me - to such an extent that I've remained incapable of understanding the sun-seeking school of holiday making,  I'm just beginning to appreciate that type of yearning!

So, I duly roll down my shirt sleeves, don a sun hat, and stroll down to the pond to feed the goldfish. Open the greenhouse door to be almost overwhelmed by the stifling humid heat that rushes out to greet me. I make my way to the totally shaded arbour seat at the top of the garden, make a mental note of areas that need a little tidying (in preparation for the time when I'll once again be able to perform a few lifting and stretching activities), rest for a brief while before returning to the welcoming bounds of the living room.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

That's Progress

After a few days when even ambling up to the garden pond, to scatter a few food sticks for its piscine inhabitants, seemed like an overbearing chore, it was wonderful this morning to quite simply take the time to look around the garden as I performed this task.

A sudden fleet movement, rather too close to my foot-fall for comfort, catches my attention as a perfectly formed froglet, less than the length of my little finger nail (and I've got relatively small hands), leaps across the grassy sward. The sheer abundance of life, both flora and fauna, within the garden's confines is a constant source of joy and amazement - excluding of course the organic deposits left by visiting neighbourhood cats.

Anyway, having fed the fish, I move into the greenhouse to gather a few more fully ripened tomatoes and, taking due care not to overstretch, manage to water all the plants. Next task is repleneshing sundry bird-feeders although, I must admit that my attention to this is a more hit and miss business at this time, especially so during most recent days / weeks (when it has been more spasmodic than would be my intention), than is essential in Winter and Spring months.

I seem to have been catching up with my sleep requirement the past few nights, retiring to bed at an earlier hour, and emerging from the duvet lair, at least partially refreshed, some thirteen hours later. Today, I've so far managed to eat a small breakfast of a boiled egg and toast and, enjoyed some smoked haddock with new potatoes at lunch time. That's progress!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Visual Blessing

Recent days haven't been that good, to be honest, nothing I can really put my finger on; a generalized discomfort has prevented much other activity apart from less than routine fish-feeding, bird-feeding, tomato watering, and regular re-orienting of my seated position.

Strange how a generalized griping sense of dis-ease seems to emanate from discomfort in either a little finger, or more usually the armpit. Only when I pin my upper arms tight to my torso and sit back with forearms pinned behing my lower back does this discomfort ease. Fortunately these phases pass but, at present they too frequently return interfering with my appetite and much other attempted activity.

This morning, after a fulfillment of bed-rest, sat in the living room sipping at a wake-up beverage, I observed the following simple display which I posted as a tweet (line breaks of course omitted) - I've already posted it on 'Mal's Factory' but thought I'd share it here, to show that even in my temporary slumps into a pathetic despondency, it's still wonderful to be a part of this amazing creation:

I see the lavender
into a fluttering

of butterfly wings.
Large whites

the colour
of their perching

Malcolm Evison
12 August 2010

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Absolute (arm)Pits

Squirming wimp; that's a role I seem to play really well, trouble is I'm not acting. The multifarious manifestations of dis-ease have really found a fresh discomforting expression this past twenty-four hours plus. That sensation when one finds it impossible to discover, or maintain, a comfortable seated posture; if I was simply observing my wriggling activity I'd swear it was a bad case of worms. [Fortunately, that's an ailment that's escaped my attention.]

What has returned with a vengeance is that aching discomfort in the armpits, the one where I have to squeeze my arms tightly to my side in a first attempt to regain a tolerable posture, before placing my hands beneath my thighs as I sit back; a griping sense of nausea then takes over. A short while later, the giddy light-headedness returns and the legs start to feel like they're made of some gelatinous lead alloy.

No sooner had we arrived at the local takeaway, last evening, than ma belle had to escort her pale faced partner back home. By the time she'd returned to collect the ordered meal, any inkling of an appetite had disappeared from yours truly and, the smell of food made me turn green around the gills. One thing I can never be found guilty of is doing things by halves - my disorientation is a complete happening.

Later in the evening I regained my composure and managed a portion of the (microwave reheated) food. By bedtime had arrived, I found myself relaxedly wide awake for the total bed-rest period. Late morning I went up for a little rest, discovering that laying on my left hand side allowed my torso to feel more comfortably at home in the world.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sunshine and Blanket Stitch

Many people seem to worship the sun, so much so that they'll travel halfway around the globe to find a suitable place to spend their holiday sunbathing. Others, like me, have difficulty coping with very hot weather and, only on a few occasions have exposed my torso to the sun's rays, primarily at the time in the seventies when as a mature student I had a regular vacation job doing gardening. There were a few later occasions when I allowed my body to be exposed to the rays for a couple of hours, nothing out of the ordinary I would have thought, but it was only many years later that various warts and moles began to make their presence noticed.

An abundance of solar keratoses started to mar this fair skinned torso and, at times, a little cryotherapy was deemed necessary to remove the more troublesome of the little critters. Then, having noticed blood on a T-shirt which I'd been wearing the previous day, and during an enforced overnight stay in hospital, I asked my GP to take a look at my back and she immediately referred me to the dermatology clinic.

In earlier blogs, I've already commented on that referral, and the generally excellent treatment proferrred by the much maligned NHS. The basal cell carcinoma (rodent ulcer) was removed last Wednesday, at which time I was informed that there's a good possibility of a further rodent ulcer occurring within the next few years. Just by way of warning my readers of the deleterious effect of UV rays on fair skinned people, I decided to post a couple of views of my back, including a fine example of the surgeons blanket stitch (which has to remain in place for 14 days)

As stated earlier, I've never been much of a sun worshipper but, were I ever to consider exposing any part of my body to the sun's rays my minimum protection would be a high factor block (SPF15+). My beloved has been instructed on the importance of observing / detecting changes to any of my disfiguring growths.

 "Mad dogs and Englishmen ..." may "go out in the midday sun" but this mad Englishman will do his darnedest to avoid it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

exercising caution

Cautious, that's the only word for it; last night every move I made, as I lay abed, was carried out with an excessive degree of caution. It's not at all unusual for me to spend many hours lying awake, frequently changing my position, rolling over from left side to back, back to right side, arms stretched out, arms used as a prop for my resting head - the possible postural permutations are immense. Last night, however, I attempted to restrict any stretching movements, as my freshly sutured back felt rather stiff and necessarily unwilling to stretch.[At least I was able to enjoy listening to 'Through The Night' (BBC Radio 3) between 2am and 5am, as I lay awake; Brahms, Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Verdi and,a new discovery for me, the Croatian composer Lhotka, provided a relaxing background to my restlessly creative thoughts.]

Yesterday I attended the Dermatology clinic for the excision of a basal cell carcinoma from the middle of my back. The operation turned out to take more time than the norm, extending beyond forty minutes. At least I was able to chat with the consultant as he performed the surgery.

The tumour was somewhat larger than anticipated, the hole from which it was excised having a diameter in excess of a 50 pence coin and, a little arterial bleed required a considerable degree of staunching, sundry blood vessels needing to be tied off and / or cauterised. By the time the operation was completed, my chest, back, hair, beard and hands all needed cleaning; amazing how far and wide a 'little' bleed spreads its message. A considerable stretch tension exists around the sutures, owing to the size of the wound, and we've been told to expect a bleed. My understanding is that the sutured wound is about 8cm in length.

The importance of keeping the wound clean, clean vaseline being applied twice daily (in ideal circumstances). At this point I have to point out that my beloved can be quite squeamish, already evident as she was called into the surgery to be told how to keep the wound clean, but regrettably, it's impossible (where it's situated) for me to treat it myself. If I'm to take a shower, vaseline has to be applied both before and afterwards and, I'm also somewhat doubtful that it would be wise to remain seated in the shower for my normal duration. Admittedly I don't always have the stamina to cope with taking a shower, even when I feel a bit more able to stretch.

It's important that I remember to avoid lifting and any strenuous activity during the first four weeks as, any stetching of of the wound can affect the healing process. I'd have loved to have had that reason / excuse to avoid games, and the attention of our sadistic PE teachers, in my schooldays. Perhaps it's a blessing that, since succumbing to M.E. in 2003, I've already been forced into pacing myself and (whenever possible) avoiding any strenuous exertion.

Suddenly, I find myself taking stock of my activities / capabilities once again; just a few days ago I was lugging around compost and sacks of wild bird feed. I'm even going to be careful about watering the tomato plants in the greenhouse as the plants positions necessitate a good deal of stretching; I've a feeling my beloved may choose to perform that task for the duration.

It really is amazing how much we take our body's daily exertions for granted; only when caution has to be applied, prior to any action, do we become truly aware of our routine practises and capabilities.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Aspects of a wind groomed Garden

just a randomized reminder of yesterday's brief amble in our wind stirred garden

Website Update

I've just posted an additional selection of poems, by yours truly, on our New LUV4SINNERS Website under the inspiring title of 'More POETRY by Malcolm Evison'

Sunday, August 01, 2010

This day the Lord has made

I've really been enjoying this day the Lord has made; at least I've appreciated it all since my belated (11.00am) emergence into the new day. My beloved had headed off to chapel at least an hour before I overcame my soporific stupor. Speaking of soporifics, the aid to sleep prescribed by my GP doesn't seem to work in the expected way; the recommendation is that I take the dose one hour before bedtime so, I try to take it somewhere around 10.00pm but the effects, if any, rarely kick in before the early morning hours. By the time my beloved emerges from her restorative nights sleep, she usually finds a heavily drowsy shattered partner slipping in and out of daytime awareness!

As today's service was a farewell to her minister, ma belle drove home after the service to collect me in time for the farewell lunch (described by ma belle as "A Farewell" on her 'Bright Light' blog  for Shaun  

It was good to see Shaun again, and have a little chat, and I was made to feel most welcome at this special event commemorating his 11 year ministry at Wesley. Wesley was the chapel attended regularly by my parents, prior to  circumstances committed them to the care of their respective residential and nursing homes, and Shaun presided at both of their affirmative funeral services.

All in, I spent the best part of three hours at Wesley today; anyone who knows me well will be quite surprised that such socializing endeavour remained pleasurable, rather than an ordeal, for me. I'm as surprised as they may well be! Maybe one of these days I'll manage to pluck up the courage and stamina to attend for a service one of these days.

This evening Helen is out leading worship at another chapel in the circuit, the first of four consecutive Sunday services her local preacher duties are requiring of her, whilst I settle down to watch 'Orchestra United' and 'Amish World's Squarest Teenagers' (both C4).