Back Pain

Back pain, old friend. You returned. Most unwelcome. All I did was cough and you clicked out, and that was it. I could just about walk, just about stand, just about lie down, though my head was telling me it needed sleep. This was after two nights of no sleep due to the aforementioned cough.

Stupid cough.

I knew it needed help as I was hobbling. Then the panic sets in; will I get to work this week? Will everyone at work be rolling their eyes in a ‘here we go again’ fashion? (I can’t blame them) will I have to take the train this week? Will it go again while I’m on the train?

Phone the Osteopath. Tried a new one. Answerphone. Panic. Call the old one and get offered a 4pm appointment. But I have to pick up H from school then. Oh yes, even with a sore back life goes on (slighly modified). Manage to get a 4.30 one.

Tell work. Panic. Start shaking. The shaking doesn’t stop until I’m overheating in bed. Wondering if it’s back related or the cough. Google everything and decide to read up on Gall Stones even though there is no reason why. Lie down.

Clock watch. Shaking. Panicking. But I’m at home. Wanting Shaun to be home but he’s busy at work. Cry for a bit. Post on Facebook (a big no no when you’re off sick for obvious reasons) and get some support and brilliant suggestions to help. We need a dehumidifier. Too tired to browse Amazon.

Eventually 4pm comes and I hobble out of the house to school. H’s after school club is late and I realise I need to keep moving. Slight loss of dignity practising pilates stretches to stay sane. She appears and we go home, then straight back out to he Osteo. She’s as good as gold and looks embarrassed when she sees me in my bra.

As feared, my troublesome left side is too tough to crack and takes two people. A cough, I tell you.

But I’m sore. Get home and prep frozen veg and pasta. Shsun arrives home and the other Osteo phones.

They offer acupuncture. I’ll try anything. They also offer three monthly check ups, body MOT’s, something I’d been wondering about. They’re also only open Monday to Friday and have an early morning slot this Friday. I need it. They try to find answers. I need answers. I take the booking and email work. Then panic, shake and am frozen.

Bed is the only thing with extra duvets – and eventually I settle for sleep with Shaun steaming me with the iron (didn’t work) and getting a bowl of hot water (did work) to stop the coughs. I fall asleep but a beep wakes me up with a jump five seconds later.

In fact, I sleep badly again all night, dropping off until I needed to cough, repeat to fade. With each cough came back pain and the panic. If your back goes at night you’re doomed.

Wake up, no longer shaking, angry H who also wants cuddles, this afftects her too. Stiff lower back but feeling okay, not 100% but coping. Repeat to fade until you start to forget about it and normal life recommences. Hope you can deal with this pain until Friday. Dream about going back to work. Keep the painkiller businesses in business, repeat to fade.



Yesterday was Blogfest, the Mumsnet Blogging conference. I really enjoyed it last year and was really looking forward to this years – and it didn’t disappoint.

I won’t go into who I saw and what I gained too much as I’m sure it’ll be done everywhere by everyone who went, but the overwhelming message which came out of it was about inner confidence, and a real “you can do it” attitude – and if you can’t do it but want to do it, pretend you can.

It was a really positive experience – and it has made me feel like I can do better – sometimes I need to take my time. I’m not a naturally funny person but I have a good sense of humour, and it’s getting those funny things down. If they don’t feel right, come back to it a day or so later.

When situations in life come up (and there was a fairly big one recently which I turned down and haven’t even spoken to Shaun about), why not give it a go? I didn’t because it didn’t feel right and I didn’t feel worthy – but actually, maybe I should have. That opportunity may never happen again, and that’s okay – my decision may have been the right one. I can’t change the past, but I can help change my future, and our future.

When I sit saying that I know I’m no good at exams (and I really am not) I need to stop believing it – I’m about to sit the YouTube exam I failed twice last year in the next week or so, and I will pass it this time. I will do it this time and I won’t get nervous and worked up and forget everything.

This wasn’t really exactly what Blogfest said, but there were some incredibly inspiring people who have made me think. The Think Bombs section was amazing – Camilla Batmanghelidjh was so warm and inspiring, asking us to take a step back and think of everyone. Francesca Martinez made me nearly cry with her talk. Suzanne Moore just got on with it.

There is no point having this downer on yourself. Life is out there to be lived and made the most of. I’ve felt like I’ve walked around with a big grey cloud over my head – I’m constantly spoken over or ignored in many situations to the point I’m so incredibly sensitive about it I’d rather remove myself from situations than go through them again – understandably. It even happened yesterday!

But that’s not my fault, it’s the other people’s failings (or maybe they just think I’m boring, that’s fine, just don’t be so obvious, okay? I am very good at leaving people alone). I’m sensitive to it as it has happened many times. But it’s time to be strong and stick two fingers up at it. Surround yourself with people who DO care.

How does this then transfer to blogging? That’s tricky. I’m conscious I could sound ‘braggy’ with things I say or do, but this is my space, and if I didn’t say something I would forget – life moves so fast. I’m not apologising for it – that’s just how it is.

I came out of Blogfest, much like last year, knowing where I need to change – I am who I am, and this is my style of blogging – I’ve tried to be factual but just slip into this style, so this is my way. If you like it, subscribe to it, read it, comment, share or whatever, then thank you. This is all for me, a record of our lives, especially as H gets older and will get more sensitive about things being on the internet about her, the focus of the blog will change. It might not go on forever, then again it might.

Oh, and the other big thing from Blogfest – my back survived! I don’t think anyone will realise how big a deal that was for me. I met people and was happy – I wasn’t zonked out on painkillers wondering where I was. I met so many lovely people. Special mentions go to Sonya, Joanne and Clare – and a very happy special mention to Lou Kuenzler who was there – H loves her Shrinking Violet books, and it was so nice to meet her.

I’ll definitely be back next year.


It Really Could Be a Wobbly Tooth

We skipped the wobbly tooth stage for H’s first extraction. She had an infection in her gum which resulted in an extraction in hospital by injection. For the last year and a half we’ve lived with the front tooth missing – it’s fine, we’re all used to it.

In the back of my mind I’ve known that the rest will start to want to vacate her mouth when they’re good and ready. Had we not had this first extraction I’m pretty sure we’d have a full mouth of strong milk teeth – but that is exactly what we don’t have. We’re only missing the one tooth, mind.

Every night after tea she’ll take some fruit upstairs to read a book with – the current book is Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’ which she’s enjoying, she’ll settle on my bed all propped up and read and eat.

Until tonight. There was a painful cry from upstairs. My little girl took up a plum. Took a big bite of the plum, her bottom tooth bumping into the stone. Very painful.

It’s calming down, but I checked her teeth just in case – make sure we know which one hurted. The tooth did a wobble. A proper wobble. H found it painful, so I checked all the other teeth around it just to be on the safe side, and they were all fine – just the one.

She looked sort of heartbroken, a wobbly tooth. Slightly scared. I had to give her a big smile, a huge cuddle and a pep talk about how it’s absolutely fine for this to happen and just to be careful eating – maybe eat using her side teeth a bit more for a day or two.

I did suggest getting in touch with the tooth fairy, and saying how we don’t want the money and would like to keep the tooth as we want to make a necklace. I think she liked the idea…. it made her laugh anyway.

So yes, this may be the start of our first wobbly tooth. Cheers plum.


That Was The Week

We’ve had achievements this week. H said her Rainbows promise on Monday, which she was really nervous about, but did marvellously well with.


On Wednesday she got her Stage 2 in swimming and can move into the yellow hat group – except our local centre has no space in those classes. Our pool is currently shared with Cheam, and they do have space, so I’m wondering if we should switch for now and move back to ours when they’re set to move back. It’s the same pool, after all.

Then we had parents evening tonight. I think I suffer from the same self-esteem issues with my child’s abilities as I do with myself. This is not a good thing. H is doing SO well. She’s already hit two targets as far as to the end of Year 1 goes which is amazing – I keep thinking maybe they’ve got the wrong child! But she does enjoy learning, and that’s half of the battle. I couldn’t quite believe my girl was doing so well, yet I was so proud of her at the same time. She’s going to be assessed next term to see whether she’s ready to be a free reader – which to me is huge – she’s the youngest in the year and I had no idea how much she would enjoy reading.  Then it’s about answering questions and expressing an opinion on the characters which will be good – to see how much she is taking in from the story.

Given she loves her ‘Shrinking Violet Absolutely Loves Ancient Egypt’ book and has already read it three times cover to cover (it’s a paperback suitable for 8+) and tells me things that happen in the story, I can’t see that being a major issue.

It does make me feel like we need an overhaul of her bookshelves though, the younger reader books bagged up and dished out to friends who would use them more than we do now.

Tomorrow I’m taking her to the new Smiggle store near work to buy something nice to celebrate a good week. She’s pretty excited about it too – we went to one of their stores in Australia over the summer.

I’ve booked Christmas at Kew tickets for us all, which looks wonderful – I’m really looking forward to it. Now to get some Disney on Ice tickets for next April which are proving really difficult to get. Uuuh.

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“It’s just the way we are”

H came home from school today. “I was convinced I was getting the class frog to bring home today, I really was. I’m so sad” she announced.

I breathed a sigh of relief, as nobody really looks forward to it when you’re a parent. Do they?

“I really did think I was getting it this week, but A did instead. But I have to get it before M does!” she blurted out.

and this worries me. She’s not a competitive child in any way, and yet this year she’s definitely wanting to do ‘better’ than her friend – her best friend. I told her it doesn’t matter, and that doing your best is the most important, and if you really have to be competitive, then just make sure you get the class frog before the naughty children do.

But I’ve seen it a few times now. They play together wonderfully, but every now and then H will point out that her friend did something before she did, and my heart sinks. It shouldn’t be about doing something first, it should be about doing it – it doesn’t matter when. I’m sure all children do it, and I know what has caused it – being at school. You’re always competing against someone for something at school aren’t you, at this age?

I’ve heard her say many times how she wants to be on a higher book band than her best friend, and it’s silly. She should want to be on a higher book band because she enjoys reading. It’s all still so black and white. We were moved up to gold level a week ago, and so far we’ve had two books, rather than a new book every two days which is great. The books she has are now ones we can google to find out more facts, which she’s finding interesting too.

Quite frankly, she’s challenged by these books in a really good way – it’s the perfect level for her. I think we’ll stay on these ones for a while now, and that’s a good thing.

I asked her why she gets so competitive with her best friend when it actually doesn’t matter. “because it’s just the way we are” she replied. Yep, I bet there’s a class full of competitive 5 year olds… I could never be a teacher!!



I woke up as usual, I got dressed as usual, caught the train as usual and got into work as usual, with the same old usual food bought as I do every Monday when I don’t have the energy to make myself a packed lunch the night before.

I logged onto my computer and started work. Checked my calendar. My heart sank. I hadn’t forgotten, I’d just not remembered it was right now. I knew it was coming. I never forget, but I kind of let it slip my mind, if that makes sense? A bit like when I phoned my mum and dad up all those years ago, my dad picked up the phone and we chatted for ages before he passed me on to mum, and she said “er, you do know what day it is, don’t you?” to which I promptly remembered it was his birthday. I was at work at the time so the gasp as I remembered I’d forgotten to remember startled my workmates. Just a tad.

Eight years ago today my dad died. He lost his fight with cancer. Bowel cancer with secondaries in the liver and I think maybe the lungs too. The same kind of cancer Lynda Bellingham has been fighting. The same cancer she’s decided to end the fight with. My dad did the same. You know when you’re done with the fighting.

They were the same colour, the liver losing its ability to do what it should.  Dad joked about giving David Dickinson a run for his money with his glorious mahogany tone, but the yellow in his eyes gave it away – he really wasn’t well. We had four months with dad from diagnosis to death.

I see acorns these days and it reminds me of the time we all drove back from the cinema together after watching The Queen (the Helen Mirren one), and there was a large pile of them by the road. Mind, I also remember how he somehow got in for free, completely by accident and we all had a good laugh about it on the way home. It’s the little things. But always acorns. This time of year.

Eight years. But good stuff happened today too. Shaun got his job so is now permanent. H is going to become a proper Rainbow next week. I got to go to her school today to look through all her books, and saw lots of good comments and remarks and a little girl who is really trying hard (Even though she often does the ‘I’m too tired mummy’ thing with me). That’s why today happened and I didn’t burst into tears first thing.

I told H it was eight years since the grandad she’ll never meet died. She said to me “hey, that means he’ll have met god! you meet god when you’re in heaven, you know?” and said it with such authority I just went with it. She seemed happy enough. I think he’d have words with her though, as he didn’t believe in all that.

Tonight I came home at a different time, picked up H from school rather than the childminder, did some work at home as it’s getting busy again, and ended the day differently. Tomorrow is another day, another new start, the same old routine back again.  Life goes on.

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A Week Of Stuff

H withdrew a bit at Rainbows this week. I think it was the noise. It was noisy, but it was the first time in ages I’ve seen her covering her ears, the noise being too much. To be fair, I felt the same, and fortunately things calmed down. She helped me tidy up instead. She still loves it though.

Tuesday she had a playdate, and a new persona too. The over excited “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!!” with bad attitude thrown in occasionally for good measure. This bad attitude is coming and going through the week.

She’s been moved up to the Gold reading level at school which I’m immensely proud of as this is all her own work – she’s a huge bookworm anyway, so progress like this, two months after turning five makes me delighted. Her response? “Yeah, whatever. Um. Yeah, interesting. Right. Whatever”

I can’t work out which child she’s copying, but she soon smartened up her ideas when I threatened to turn off The Great British Bake Off that we were watching so she would NEVER find out the winner. My little girl came back then.

Swimming too – we were told by her teacher that next week we’ll get the letter to move up into Stage 2/Yellow hats which is brilliant. I know she can do it, and it was about building her confidence. Now she’s just terrified because “I’ll have a new teacher” which may or may not happen straight away – I’ve been watching the yellow hat teachers as well as considering moving her to the pool we live practically next door to (which would cost more). Time will tell….

She was cross with me tonight. I was later than usual. I’ve had to point out that I have to work earlier on Mondays, so am later on Thursdays, but it’s okay as we have most of her schoolwork done by Thursday so we can take it easier on the late night. I think she agreed. She was still cross at me though, and did a bit of standing, scowling and roaring at me as only a five year old can.

This Saturday we’re going to Hampton Court to see Singalonga Frozen. It will be amazing. It will probably rain. I have bought a chair today from Blacks so I can sit comfortably. I am going to hear that DAMN song again. But most importantly of all, H doesn’t have a clue we’re going – neither do her friends. We decided to tell them in the car on the way there. Hehehe. So keep an eye on the MumFriendlyJo instagram feed on Saturday night as we slowly go a bit mad with it all. I love Hampton Court and can’t wait!

Shaun has had two job interviews in the last week, we should find out something next week. From my simple understanding of it, it’s either the job he’s doing, or a job he isn’t doing which would mean that one week out of every month I’d be doing the bedtime routine every night. Having done it for two nights in the last week I bet you can guess which option I’d prefer him to go for, should he be offered both..

I Went to Church Today.

That was an interesting experience.

Today was the harvest festival, so H and I arrived with a tin at the methodist church where she attends Rainbows. She was terrified, as were two of her friends that we’ve known since she was a baby.

Fortunately I can sit with the Rainbows as I’m helping out, so I had a chat with my terrified group of three, promised we’d all sit together and things would be fine, and decided to make them laugh.

“don’t tell anyone. I’m actually quite scared too…”

H clamped her hand over my mouth in embarrassment. “oh mummy!” she said, as I reminded her that I was in Rainbows mode, and can only answer to ‘Kangaroo’ (I do realise the pelvic floor implications of this name)

To which she clamped her hand over my mouth again – oh the embarrassment of it all. We all lined up and H went into the church with one of the girls while  I looked the other, we all sat down together and by the end one of them said she enjoyed it “but it was a bit boring” (hey! that’s MY line!), we handed over our tins (I swapped mine so many times for various reasons, such as one girl didn’t like the tin, another was a bit sharp and she was trying to scratch her finger on it, another was just trying to open hers so we found one without a ringpull and so on – girls do seem to love the drama), and admired all our handiwork on a board at the side of the church, and actually. . .

It wasn’t so bad. The church isn’t for me, but I didn’t feel as awkward as I have in the past. Even if they did go and change the tune to the majority of the hymns. Fortunately when I was twelve or so, I was told by a schoolmate when we were having a ‘Bad Deed Week’ that I can’t sing. I took it to heart and tend to mime in public places. I tried to break free from the shyness and audition to sing in an indie band in 1988, but I couldn’t do it.

The children all behaved brilliantly, I ended up taking two of them for a mad toilet dash during ‘We Plough The Fields’ which was a relief as I could stay standing up – my back hurt today. H stayed behind and watched – she didn’t want to come with me. That made me really proud – she knew it was fine and knew I’d be coming back. Of course, I’m told they need the loo when we’re all doing the lords prayer. “hold it in! Not long now!” and so on. I felt like Julie Andrews doing all the wrong things at the wrong time and being a bit daft too.

Thing to remember next time – they do a collection. Of COURSE they do a collection, but when you haven’t been to church for over 30 years you forget this happens. So when the Rainbows next to you also have no money and you’re emptying the coins in your purse so everyone can join in, it doesn’t actually matter. Even if the change was around 12p each (I put in £1) the other Rainbows felt a part of it. I just thanked my lucky stars I had a purse full of change. Sorry church.

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The Diary of Back Pain Part Whatever

My back pain still hasn’t gone away. It flares up from time to time, things like sitting in a different kind of chair, or just lying uncomfortably. Taking it easy and moving around carefully seems to fix it, but in a rare moment of having some time to think this morning, I remembered how it used to be before my back hurt.

1. I used to drive into work every day.

2. I would change our bedsheets every week and have a good washing routine for all our clothes, bedding and towels.

3. I’d vacuum all over the house and have a fairly dust-free sort of place.

4. I had Tuesday nights free to watch tv.

Whereas these days my life has changed, sometimes I wonder forever.

1. I take the train every day. The 7.29 is my best choice, mainly as I can get a seat. If I go for the 7.45 there’s a chance I may have to stand all the way. Sometimes it’s manageable, other times it isn’t. Having back pain is something weird, like, you don’t wear a badge saying ‘baby on board’ even though it could have been a baby which was once on board which made the back be such a problem in the first place. Or sometimes the train just gets reduced to a 5 carriage from a 10. Then I’ll often go as far as Mitcham Junction and take the tram, hopeful of a seat (no chance at all of that).

2. I can’t remember when we last changed the bedsheets. Actually, it was last night, but before that? Maybe four weeks ago. It isn’t a priority any more, keeping the house clean is painful. I have mentioned getting a cleaner and we could afford to. It’s something I should consider if only for a cleaner house.

3. Same as above. I can’t remember the last time. I did vacuum up where H had been playing with PlayDoh that had dried out, but that was all.

4. I go to pilates every week now, to stretch, control my core and work on it so that one day I won’t be in pain. I’ve been doing this for over two years now – from when we were very skint and most of our money went on childcare, to now when we’ve actually got some money and I don’t feel so guilty for going.

my back

I don’t think anyone realises how annoying back pain can be. You do something, you do it fine. You feel normal again, and then five minutes later a little sciatic pain pricks you all down your lower back to the top of your legs, reminding you that you may have just overdone it a little tiny bit, and that actually, sitting down and concentrating is something your little niggly pinchy sciatic nerve doesn’t want you to do.

So you go to the Osteopath at £40 a time. It works, but eventually something clicks back. Around now you’ll wish you were made of Lego so someone could just piece you back together. You think you know what your problem is but nobody can actually confirm. You go for a swim after getting the all-clear from the osteo and have pains all down your legs and pelvis for two days.

I am considering doing my induction at the gym; as cycling is my next course of action to make it all stop.

Oh, and add to all the aches and pains, when it’s bad you can’t turn over in your sleep without waking up, mainly to get comfortable again. When you’re tired you hit the pillow and that’s it, but when you’re in pain you have a horrid night of sleep. Or it passes in stages through the night.

You put your child on your knee to give them a cuddle, and something stretches in your back, and won’t stop stretching.

Fun times, right? I would love to be put into some kind of mummified cast from the waist down which would stop everything moving for as long as whatever is wrong to heal, if only I could get answers to find out what it is. The pain doesn’t stop me doing anything, it just slows everything right down. Imagine a life in fast motion, that’s when things are fine. Then it s-l-o-w-s right down and you get very little done.

Frustrating. Stupid back.