Thursday, 28 February 2013

Health progress

School meeting beckoning yesterday morning, I asked the FH whether he would like to stay in bed until I returned at lunch time, or would he prefer to get up and sit by the fire for the morning whilst I was out?  Doing the stairs on his own is not on at the moment, so he either has to be up or down!  He decided to have a bath, put on some day clothes, and get up - the first time he has been properly dressed in over three weeks, and the first time he has come down as early as 9.30am since he came home.

I think we are making progress.

Granted, he sat in the chair all day, and just kept the fire going, and watched tv, but he was up.  The YFG was at home with him yesterday morning whilst I was out as she had a temperature and wasn't feeling great, so he had some company.  In the afternoon, UJ was here after going to the lunch club, and then a chap from one of the neighbouring houses popped in for a chat too.

It is looking positive at the moment - prayers and fingers crossed [according to preferences] that we will continue like this.  Thank you xx

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Meal planning for this week

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The plan for this week looks like this:

Yesterday, Monday, there was a chicken cooked in the slow-cooker all day so we had that with veggies and potatoes.

Today there will be baked potatoes with a variety of toppings.

Wednesday will be a lamb stew.

Thursday will be a mixed vegetable risotto.

Friday is a challenge, but I will attempt to make a cottage pie so that we can just reheat it when we get home from gym.

On Saturday I am looking forward to a chicken casserole, made with some chicken thighs.

And on Sunday, I think we may just go veggie again - I am going over to the BBC GoodFood website to see what inspiration I can find there....

The week ticks along so much more smoothly when I have some idea of what I am going to cook each day. I know that I have most of the things in stock for all of these meals, so that reduces the shopping burden this week, as well.  

Monday, 25 February 2013

Free health checks

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The FH may be weaker than normal, but I seem to be in robust health!  I have had a free NHS Health check tonight at our surgery.  The appointment was quite late, at 7.45pm, but I was in and out in less than the advertised 20 minutes.

One nurse was testing the urine sample, taking blood out of my finger to test it for sugar levels and cholesterol, and then she weighed me and did my blood pressure.  The other nurse was firing questions at me from a computer screen, asking me about my family's medical history of heart disease and strokes, diabetes and cancer, as well as about my intake of fruit, vegetables and alcohol, and whether I had ever smoked.

They were pretty pleased with me!  All the tests came back in the right levels, and my cholesterol is apparently very good at only 3.4, so I am definitely doing something right.  She weighed me with all my clothes [jeans, heavy sweatshirt, and walking boots] on, so I was a little more than I am on the scales here, and my BMI came in at 26, which is a bit more than ideal, but I am aware that I have more pounds to lose.

They hope I am in a similar condition in five years' time - and so do I!

A positive weekend

The weekend has passed off successfully.  The FH has had a good couple of days where he has been feeling stronger, and the visitors we had yesterday afternoon cheered and entertained him for a couple of hours.  He has been up in the later mornings/early afternoons through until bedtime, which has been good.  The weight continues in a downward trend, indicating good water loss, so we are hoping that the doctors will be pleased with that.

UJ also came to lunch yesterday, and seemed to enjoy the afternoon - my cousin, one of his other nieces, came over for the afternoon with her husband and her mother.  UJ's brother, my uncle, is not well either, and is waiting for an appointment at Papworth Hospital to have a pacemaker fitted.  It's all hearts at present!

A lady at the chapel is being given a surprise party on Sunday for her 80th birthday, so we are hoping that the FH may be well enough to attend that next weekend, even if only for a little while.  It is just going to be an afternoon tea with some entertainment, so he shouldn't have to exert himself unduly.  That is our aim for this week.

Financially, I have actually managed to increase our assets by £665 this month, so over the two months of the year so far, we have averaged £710, which is close to what I had targeted and I am very pleased with that.  I am still considering our charitable giving, and a couple of other things which will have a financial impact too.  Thanks for your comments.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Not all bad

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We caught some of the segment this chap had on BBC Breakfast this morning, talking about hospital food.  He may have an excellent point, and the standards may have to be raised in many places, but James Martin and friends got the FH quite miffed this morning because the segment seemed to tar all the hospitals with the same brush.

The FH has had some lovely dishes in Peterborough City Hospital, and plenty of food!  He had a good breakfast each morning, was offered snacks at mid morning and mid afternoon, and could have had two hot meals [lunch and dinner] each day.  Most days he opted for a cold sandwich or salad at tea time, but on one occasion, had a chicken curry at lunchtime and chased it down with shepherd's pie at tea time!

Each ward there has a "host" who comes round to take the orders for meals, and then served it out to him.  These were friendly people who could guide him as to what was suitable from the menu to go with the restrictions the doctor had in place on sugar.  The meals were the main talking point for him when we visited as he would delight in telling us what he had been trying from the menu.

Some hospitals are doing a great job!

Being realistic about savings and charity

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Coming towards the end of the month [already? Yes!] I can tell that we are not going to make the £750 target for savings this time.  Given the circumstances of the month and the extra expenses we have incurred, I am not surprised at all, and have decided to be grateful that I can achieve £500 and be satisfied with that.  It is still a sizeable sum, and will help us on our way.

It helped a little this week to be able to insure the FH's little Fiesta for only £160 instead of the £193 originally quoted.  I tweaked the quote a little, reduced the annual mileage to 6000 miles, which is very generous for him - he probably does a lot less than that, actually, but that was as low as I dared to go this time - and that generated a better quote.  I have both cars on the same policy now with Aviva, and it has saved money over last year's costs, so I am pleased with that.

BUT posts like this one from Ann Voskamp really made me think about our charitable giving this year.  Her writing moved me to tears yesterday and really challenged me to consider more carefully what I am doing.

We do give money to charities in a variety of ways.  I make an annual donation to the Salvation Army at Christmas each year in memory of my mother - and it is a decent one, not just a pound or two.
We donate in the offering plate to the chapel every Sunday morning, and even if we are not there on a Sunday, I make sure that the offering gets there one way or another.
I make the cakes for the Friday morning Craft groups and the Thursday afternoon get togethers at the chapel, which means that food doesn't have to be bought in.  
We regularly donate prizes for raffles and tombolas at chapel.
We supported the Operation Christmas Child boxes last year, and intend to do so again this year, with various items bought and made.
I am helping to support a child through the #ShareNiger project.
We support fundraising at school for our partner school in Africa, for Comic Relief, and Children In Need.
We leave bags of clothes out for roadside collections, and take bags to the local charity shops.

But, do you know what?  I realised yesterday that this is all too comfortable, as Ann puts it.  It is easy, it is not that challenging, and it doesn't move us out of our comfort zone here in England.  I am not going to go on mission trips to Africa or South America or Asia, I am not going to do anything that dramatic.  

BUT if I can put aside money each month for our future, surely I should be able to help someone to live NOW?  

It seems hard to look through various charities and decide which one to support, but that is what I am going to have to do.  Do I go with Plan International, Save the Children, Compassion, Mary's Meals, or WaterAid?  How do I choose?  I looked at a website just yesterday which was asking me to choose a particular child to sponsor - I couldn't do it - choose one over all the others!  

I'm going to pray over this this weekend and try to come to a decision.  If anyone has any advice to offer, I'd be pleased to read your comments.  Thank you.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Updating on the heart and the health

The FH's condition remains challenging, to say the least.  Although we have him home, I am worried about him and concerned that I may not know what to do in the event of an emergency, bar phoning 999.

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I don't have the patience of this lady, who I believe recently retired from nursing after 50 years or more in the profession.   It is not that I resent giving the care, because I love the FH and would do anything for him, but I am frustrated at seeing him so weak and exasperated with himself, and not knowing how long he is going to be like this.  I feel that we need to know whether this is a hiccup that he will recover from within weeks or months, or is this a new long term reality that we need to make lifestyle changes to accommodate?  We will have to look at things like stairlifts, for example, if the outlook doesn't show any signs of improvement.

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Peterborough City Hospital was a wonderful place for him to be treated, and the care he received there was great.  The nursing staff were amazing, the food was great, the place is clean and well looked after, and he felt safe and respected there.  We are now under the care of the GP day to day, and then we are off to Papworth on 6th March to see the cardiologist there, and hope for some answers.

There was an episode on Monday evening, after I had blogged, in which the FH collapsed at the top of the stairs, and I had to hold him up as best I could as he slumped against the wall.  He recovered and I got him to bed, but I called the doctor out on Tuesday, and he came to see him and offer support and advice.  The doctor returned today and took phials of blood for analysis, to check for kidney function, diabetes and the general checks that they do on blood as well, for anaemia and things.  He promised to pop in again tomorrow.

Rather than praying for specific things, I am thanking God for His grace, and His blessings in this.  I don't know what to ask for, so it seems better to me to thank Him for what He is doing for us.  I thank God daily that He has a plan for our lives, that He is giving us strength for each day, and that we are surrounded by kind friends and supportive relatives who daily show their love for us all.  

Monday, 18 February 2013

Middle of the month finance update

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Considering the month we have had here so far, we are just about winging it towards our goals!

The savings goal is at £358 for the month so far, with another £392 to add to hit the target.  Looking a little challenged, I have to say.

The various categories have suffered a little because my eye has not been on the ball the way that it usually is, as well as a number of unexpected expenses.  My total car parking bill for the hospital ended up at £25, and I have already had an extra tank of diesel for the month; the FH had two new pairs of pyjamas, and we didn't shop properly for two weeks, although we didn't spend as much as I had thought.  We are still within target on the groceries....

The FH has been up this afternoon, and has had visitors today: our old neighbour popped in this morning, and I fetched one of his old chaps to come and have a cuppa with him this afternoon.  My F&W tutor was here this afternoon too, and I have had a number of telephone calls as well, asking after the FH.  I did manage to clean the cooker and fold some washing this morning, but not the amount of cleaning I had hoped to have done. 

Now I have to go and renew the car insurance on the Fiesta - more financial juggling.  What exciting lives we lead!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A gentle kind of day

The service went well this morning, the weather has been glorious - calm, sunny and bright - and the FH is doing OK.  He is sitting in his favourite chair by the fire, where he has been all afternoon, and dozing in between programmes.  He slept through "Call the Midwife" [too much women's stuff!] but enjoyed "Songs of Praise" and "Countryfile".  We have had a couple of phone calls from relatives and friends to see how he is doing, and generally had a quiet day.  The best sort of day!  The kind of day we all needed before we go back to school and the general busy-ness of term time life, which begins again tomorrow.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A small hiccup

Yesterday the Fh spent the day largely asleep, and I began to get concerned that he wasn't actually as well as he had been the afternoon of his discharge.  Although the care at the hospital had been wonderful, I did feel that we could have had a little more support in the discharge process - what to expect, things to watch out for, potential problems etc.  I quietly rang our practice nurse at home, who had a quiet word with the doctor, at 8pm last night, and she came back to me with the advice to get the on call doctor out to have a check up.  I was immensely grateful that a doctor turned out at 10pm last night and came to look him over.  It was reassuring to know that he didn't find anything outstandingly wrong, and that he advised us to carry on as we were.

Today the FH has had an afternoon downstairs by the fire, and one of the ladies from the church came and sat with him whilst I made a much-needed shopping trip to town.  The girls and I were out for about 2 and a half hours, and the lady from the church managed to keep him awake the whole time!  She did very well, and they put the world to rights between them.

He has had rump steak and steamed veg for his supper, and retired to bed with the electric blanket on and the tv.  All the pills for the day are done, and we are looking forward to tomorrow.  Another day, and a step further into his recovery.

I have tomorrow's sermon spinning around in my brain and I am struggling to get it down on paper - the FH suggested that since I have a clear idea of the message, I should just trust God and go without having written it all down.  I am not yet that confident in my own abilities and will be spending as long as it takes tonight to get it down on paper!  It has been developing in my mind since last Thursday and I really should have committed it to paper by now, but sermons seem to keep developing even  once I have them on paper, and it has been intriguing to see how far this one would go.  I know it will change even as I deliver it tomorrow, so I am not too worried, but I do need to get the bare bones of it down, even if it is just an outline!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and enjoy the weather we are having in the UK at the moment - today was a glimmer of the spring that I hope is just around the corner...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The best news

He's home!

The FH is weak, tired and on more medications than before, but he is home, and back in his chair by the fire, asleep, already.  He really wanted a good cup of tea, which he has had, and now he needs a good night's sleep, but he is here with us, back where he belongs.  We are blessed indeed tonight.

Thank you for all your support and prayers - I would be grateful for the prayers for him to continue as he makes his recovery, please, as he doesn't look that great just yet.

Thursday's thoughts

We had a day off from visiting the FH yesterday, as my cousin popped in to see him in the afternoon and one of his old chaps from the village was taken in the evening.  The chap's daughter phoned me when they got home and said how happy the two men had been to see one another - so we were both pleased that we had arranged it.  The FH had been moved yesterday to a 4 bed room, so he has company now, which I think will be good for him.  There is talk [but no promises] of him coming home by the weekend, so I am quietly keeping my fingers crossed for that.

I took the girls and we met my sister for lunch yesterday, which was a first, and a very pleasant way to spend some time.  We all enjoyed it, and it was a lovely break from routine.  UJ was here as well for the village lunch club, so we spent some time with him once we all got back from lunches here and there.  He brought me some leeks, sprouting broccoli, sprouts and a lovely Savoy cabbage, so we have plenty of veg available at the moment.  More leek and potato soup will be on the menu, I think!

Today the weather is warmer than it has been of late, but it is wet again, so not ideal, and rather frustrating for getting anything done outside.  As it is the middle of February today, my thoughts had turned to sowing seeds for tomatoes, peppers and chillies, but it is not inspiring out there.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Monday's update

I came home from the hospital yesterday feeling more positive.  The fluid output has increased, showing that the medications are at last beginning to get rid of some of the water for the FH, and he was feeling more comfortable yesterday.  The doctors have identified that one of the transplant drugs needed to be withdrawn completely because of the damage it has been doing to his kidneys and stomach, and so they have doubled his dose of the other one to compensate.  The huge doses of steroids continue - the FH estimated that he took 28 pills yesterday morning.....and he continues to take oxygen.

I am sorry that this blog has temporarily become a medical diary, but I hope that you can appreciate that this is what occupies our thoughts and prayers here at the moment.  Finances are still on my mind, but not to any great degree in comparison to the thoughts of the FH.  My savings target for this month looks decidedly dodgy, given the amount I am spending on diesel and car parking, as well as new pjs that we have bought!  

The children are being very mature and supportive.  The EFG has had a night at a friend's house last night and then caught a bus into Cambridge for a day out today.  I will be collecting her tonight.  My sister has invited us to join her for lunch tomorrow, and then the YFG would like to go to the cinema with her friend on Friday, so my dad has offered to shout them lunch as well whilst I go and see him.  They are not having a "normal" half-term but the FH is determined that they should still have some fun.  There is no word of him coming home yet, so we continue with the visit schedule - I am going this afternoon with the YFG and UJ, my cousin is nipping in tomorrow and then we will be back on Thursday.  

Thank you.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Back to business

There is unfortunately no progress to report for the FH; he continues on his oxygen, with his fluid intake and output being measured, and with tests still ongoing.  He is stable, but not making any improvements yet.  His cousin took over the reins of the visiting today for me, and I had a break.  I slept in until 8am, didn't go to the church service this morning but just popped in to see folk afterwards, and have had two naps this afternoon! I have been in touch with relatives and friends, and watched some tv.  The fire was lit for the first time since Wednesday, and we have had a cosy day in.

I have had a look at some websites that I thought I might share with you, and see what you thought to them.  Some I like, and some I don't think suit me and our lifestyle.

I think that Petrolprices is a useful tool to keep track of local prices if you have a number of suppliers in your area, but there is no sense in travelling extra miles to get fuel a few pence cheaper.  

I do use Quidco quite often, especially when I am shopping around for insurance or larger purchases.  I also use TopCashBack for money back on shopping - if I am going to have to spend the money, I might as well get a little back if at all possible!

Supersavvyme is an interesting one - some aspects of it I like, and some I am not so keen on - but it is well worth a trawl around it to pick out the gems and find the parts of it which are relevant to your life.

I feel similarly ambivalent about Moneymagpie - if you can cope with the headline style of the home page, there is a lot in there but one could easily get distracted by "47 ways to find a date" instead of finding the really good stuff which you need to read if you are interested in saving money.  I think this one is another which is worthy of further investigation.

I feel like I should be as the BBC and point out that there are other moneysaving websites available!  But some are not to my taste at all - the ones which still encourage you to spend, but to acquire the items using coupons and deals which just allow you to get the item a little cheaper.  Too many people will use the coupons and still put the balance on the credit cards, and not enough people are encouraging the world to go back to the basics and just not to buy if one doesn't have the money to pay!

But, do you know what, I don't like any of these websites as much as I love the personal ones, written by MeanQueen, Frugal Queen and Sue, for example, where we hear about the realities of day to day life and get the personal touch.  There is a lot to be said for knowing that other people are living the experience and not just writing about it as journalists to do a day job.  Long live the real bloggers who practice what they preach.  They are an inspiration to us all.

If you can recommend a "real" blogger who is not in my blogroll, and who you think I would like to read, please mention them in the comments and I will go and have a read.  I am always interested to find new blogs and would love to add new ones to the blogroll.  Thanks xx

Friday, 8 February 2013

A new secret weapon

The hospital may be taking wonderful care of the FH but I am frustrated at never being able to actually speak to a doctor about what they are doing and what they are hoping to achieve, and what the long term outlook is.  I have spoken to a nurse twice on the phone today: the first time all I got was that the FH was "comfortable" and was due for an ultrasound at 10am, as I said earlier - and guess what he said this afternoon: the FH has had a scan and is "comfortable".....I asked the questions, but the nurse was very reluctant to say more than that.  When I asked to speak with a doctor, he said that they only talk with relatives face-to-face.

BUT I met a lady in there yesterday who I know - she is a student nurse.  I didn't know that as I only know her as the mother of two lads who come to gym, but I spoke with her tonight and explained my frustrations.  She will be at the hospital when we visit tomorrow and has promised to help me to find someone to speak with, to get some answers.  She was very sympathetic when I spoke with her, and said that there are a number of people we could speak with, so I have hopes of moving forward tomorrow.

We are going to gym in the morning till 1pm and then we will go straight from there to the hospital for afternoon visiting.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that there is not too much snow in this area, please, as I am not keen on driving in snow...

Thanks for all your lovely messages again.  You are beyond kind.

Quick update

Attention has shifted from the FH's kidneys to his heart, and he began a three day course of intravenous steroids [sorry - must have been distracted this morning when I put antibiotics] yesterday.  I rang this morning and the nurse said he had had a comfortable night.  He wasn't terribly happy when I was there yesterday afternoon, so that was an improvement, I hope.  He is looking forward to his sister visiting him this afternoon, and I will be going with the girls tomorrow now.  I will ring for an update from the nurse around 3pm as he was going to have some more tests done this morning.

Thank you for your prayers - please keep them coming - we are not out of the woods yet.  In fact, the doctors don't yet seem clear of the path, so we have a way to go.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Frugal benefits

Thank you very much for all the messages of support and prayers.  These are for you!

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The FH is now in a single room on the cardiac unit, wired up to oxygen, drip and catheter.  The medication had not produced the expected output yesterday so they want to measure every drop!  The water in his abdomen may have to be taken off with a drain - the consultants will have seen him by 11am today so I am allowed to phone for an update after that.  He had had a rough day yesterday, the nurse was telling me, with all the tests and the poking and prodding that had been going on.  More tests due today as well.

I was thinking last night, as I did another 60 mile round trip, paid the parking charges and bought tissues and squash (in a small bottle) and a magazine for him, that it is a good job I have spare cash to do all this with, and however do people with no money cope with this sort of experience?  It's not cheap to be ill in this day and age.  There is no cheaper way to get to the hospital, and nowhere else I could park to avoid the charges.  He has a free tv in his room, which is a blessing for him, and we took him a railway magazine, as he doesn't read fiction.  I have a house full of books, but none that he would read!  I did manage to find a book about Fred Dibnah, but he said he had already read that.

But this is the benefit of long term frugality, and savings.  When we have a need like this, there is no hesitation in buying what is necessary, and it can be done without going into debt, thank goodness.

Again, thank you for your good wishes - your support is much appreciated xx