Monday, 31 December 2012

Best Post of 2012

The last day ever...ever of this year...

2012, for us, has been a good one.  In the UK we have celebrated some momentus occcasions and overall I think we have felt proud to be British.

I am looking forward to 2013.  I want to enter it with gusto and keep that drive going throughout the year.  I hope that my summary post of 2013 will be as positive and packed as the one for 2012.

I have been pleased with how many posts I have written this year, given the limited time I have to sit and write.  But which has been my best one?  This was quite easy for me to choose.  It is the post that people often mention to me, and when I think of my blog, I immediately think of this particular post.

So, with drum roll and drama... MY BEST POST OF 2012 IS...

Channel 4, the official broadcasters of the 2012 Paralympic Games, are running an advert at the moment. It asks three gentleman, all in wheelchairs what they dream about. One says he always walks again in his dream. I think the other says he never dreams of walking. The third laughs and says he doesn't know what they are dreaming about but in his dream he is just surrounded by wonderful women and doesn't take any notice if he can walk or not.

This really made me smile. Then it made me think. I have been doing that a lot lately. I have been in that sort of philosophical mood, which doesn't always make me seem very happy. But it isn't that I am not happy. It just means that I am thinking. About everything. About nothing. About stuff. Sometimes my mind just needs to do that. Maybe that is the writer in me.

It made me wonder about what J1 dreams about. I can ask J2 and he always answers the same thing - 'Lion ROOOOOAAAARRRRRR'. If that is true it may account for his truly erratic sleep behaviour! But whenever I ask J1 he pauses, says 'Errrrrrrrr', pauses again and then sets to his default question -'Where is Daddy's car?' This means you are not going to get an answer to your question.

So I am left wondering. I am left wondering if he dreams of walking and running. Does he dream of running around the playground, or competing able bodied in sports day? Does he bounce on the trampoline until he feels sick and sweaty? Does he run along the sea front running up and down the steps to the beach until we tell him not to do it anymore? Does he run up the steps to the cafe to buy his ice-cream?

I have a recurring dream. Not everyday but always the same. J1 walks into my bedroom and asks if he can wear his football shirt for school. As wonderful as that is, when I wake up I get the crashing reality of life. And that is painful. Like when people say after they have lost someone, for that first few seconds of the day when you wake up, everything is perfect. Then your memory comes to life and reminds you of days and events past.

No matter how many years fly by, and how much I come to terms with / adapt to life as we now know it, the actual reality of knowing my son has brain damage is still a bastard. It makes my heart ache with the longing to be able to change it. It must be the biggest frustration in life that you will ever encounter - someone you love suffering with something, be it a condition or illness, and no matter what you do to help, aid, alleviate you know that you can't change it or stop it.

Maybe that explains my overwhelming need to keep in control of all other aspects of my life and my complete annoyance when I feel that is not the case. My developing attitude that you must absolutely do what you want to do, if it is something that you have any control over being able to achieve. Some people call that positive thinking. I call it trying to make up for what I can't change or control. A defiance that fate won't fox me into thinking I 'can't' control what happens.

Can someone that has never walked a single step dream what it is like to do so? I like to think so - after all I dream of flying and I certainly can't do that.

So, run little boy. Run and laugh.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Top Pick of Our 2012 Year

2012 has been a good year in many aspects for Britain in general this year, with huge events such as The Jubilee and the Olympics and Paralympics.  In yet another year of economic recession, it was nice to have a lighter period.  A spell of not looking at what was wrong with our tiny little island, but actually getting behind those representing us - in a good way.  To watch and be a part of days and nights that will go down in history all around the world.
An example of this is 04.08.2012.  This was the night when Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah all brought home those longed for Gold Medals for themselves and their country.  As London shook with the screams of encouragement from the lucky thousands in the stadium that night, I would hazard a guess that every street shook from those screaming at the TVs in their house. 
Whenever I see highlights from that night I will know that I sat with my two children, one either side of me, holding a hand each chanting 'Go Mo!' followed by three claps until he crossed that finish line when we whooped and cheered. 
2012 was a good year for our family in general.  We enjoyed participating in some old fashioned patriotism, but for us, one event makes 2012 a hugely memorable year.  My pick, for our best bit of the year must go to that wonderful day in may, when a Judge in our English Court of Law, banged her hammer signifying The Hubby had officially adopted J1.
We started the adoption process in October 2011, at our initial meeting we were told that an adoption case is an unknown quantity when it comes time frame.  We had read that it could take months, even years, depending on the complexity of the case.  What we hoped would go in our favour would be that it was a very straight-forward situation.
Of course we understood that what we believed to be clear cut, may not be to the professionals involved, but after our second meeting with our wonderful case worker, we breathed a sigh of relief when she said she agreed with us.  We were thrilled when in January 2012 we were informed we could make our application to the court.
We steeled ourselves for a long wait for the court date, but after a few more meetings we were given a first hearing in May.  A few weeks before this we were informed that it would be the only hearing required.  Our first court appearance would be our formal hearing and our celebration hearing.
We had a lovely day.  The court was happy to be carrying out a rare positive hearing and we were even allowed to take some photographs with the judge.  J1 officially took our family surname and we concluded our day doing J1's favourite thing - having a meal.
Fast forward a few months on and we now have the official paperwork.  J1 has always had a Daddy in The Hubby, day to day life hasn't changed, but now it is official, legal and binding.  J1 is The Hubby's son.  Fact.
There couldn't be any other event that would top that.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Very Special Needs Christmas Show

My admiration for J1's school is great at the best of times, but none more so than whenever they do the same as every other school and put on displays, activities and shows.
Within this fantastic special needs school they are already dealing with a whole host of extra 'pupil needs'.  So where they find the time to organise, practise and execute Easter events, Summers Fairs, Christmas Fairs, Christmas shows to name but a few, is just inspiring to me.
Every day I am in awe of the dedication staff, assistants and volunteers have to help our children.  But at this time of the year, when they ensure that those children experience what every other child in every other school in the country are doing I am blown away.
Our annual invitation to the School Christmas Show came last week.  We asked J1 what he was doing in the school play and his response 'It's a secret, I not telling.'  All we knew is that we had to send in a funky hat, scarf and gloves for him.
Wonderfully the school hall was packed out with happy, expectant and 'already bursting with pride' parents.  The theme of the show was Christmas Movies.  With everything ranging from The Wizard of Oz to Elf, the individual classes performed dances, songs, little skits and gave us some unplanned comedy.
Watching the children, adorned in outfits, including some fantastic wheelchair incorporated ones (believe me - I was open mouthed at how wonderful The Tin Man looked in his chair and mentally made a note for next years Halloween costume) was both heartwarming and tear-jerking.
The great thing this year, J1 did not have a meltdown at the door of the hall resulting in him being whisked back to class.  He coped with all the noise and unfamiliarity and actually performed!  I will never watch The Snowman without thinking of his class performance again.
As the audience clapped and cheered and encouraged I was reminded of how lucky we are, that J1 is at school and involved.  That we can attend all of these wonderful activities like we will for J2 when he starts school.  Too many of my mummy friends are not in this position, and at this time of the year we should think about them, and how they are feeling.  We should think about all of the amazing children that are going to be spending Christmas in hospitals.
We should really appreciate what we have.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Once Upon a Time : The Scare #GRACE

The year 2012 has opened up some wonderful opportunities to do things I have never done before.  One of those things has been to volunteer some time for the good of a charity.  It is this last one that has led me to writing this, very personal, post. 

I was asked, not long ago, by a very dear friend if I could help manage the social media for a charity that is very close to her heart.  GRACE (Gynae-oncology Research and Clinical Excellence) provides support, to women and families in the locale of  Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire living with gynaecological cancers.
Many people will know I write about living with disability and Cerebral Palsy on my blog. So many may wonder why I would want to find the time to get involved with a charity not related to that. The reason is simple; I had my own cervical cancer scare.

Helping women and their families local to them is only part of what GRACE do.  They are constantly striving to fund vital research into the causes and treatments of gynaecological cancers.  This work benefits every women in the world, we all know - cancer isn't picky about who it chooses.  Every tiny step forward to discovering more knowledge about these cancers is crucial.  Therefore if I can help - in anyway - to help those afflicted by these diseases, or do anything to try and help a charity find ways to combat them, I will.

I was 18 when my parents decided to move out of the area we had resided in all of my life.  I followed my parents to our new home a few months after they relocated, when I secured a new job.  My mum had enrolled me into the local doctors and I was far from thrilled when she told me I had to book in for a medical.
I had been registered under the same Doctors all of my life so I had never had a general health check, as required when you join a new surgery.  It was all the usual elements, answering questions, height, weight, blood pressure.  My previous Doctor had prescribed me the contraceptive pill, to try and regulate my menstrual cycle as it was particularly erratic, and the new Doctors were quite shocked when I informed them that I had not been called for a 'smear' test since being issued with the medication.
I was told that I must book in for one and left with an appointment with the nurse for the following week and a glum face.  I petulantly declared that "I did not want one!" to my mum who made it clear in no uncertain terms that I would be going to have it done.  She did what most people do, informed me that although unpleasant and uncomfortable it didn't hurt.
I dutifully attended the appointment and relief flooded my body when it was all over.  Little did I know that a 'smear' test would become the least of my worries.  I really did not give it a second thought after I got home, happy in the knowledge that I wouldn't have to go for it again for at least three years.
So, when I returned home from work for lunch a few days later I was surprised to see a note left for me stating that the Doctors had called.  I still did not relate it to the recent test.  The nurse was quite gentle as she told me that my results had not come back clear and I had been referred to the hospital for further investigation.  I asked her if I should wait for an appointment to be sent through but she informed me that one had already been issued and I was to go the following day.
It was the speed of it all that raised alarms for me, and my mum.  It had not even been a week since I had the initial procedure.  I was called in to see the Specialist first.  He was blunt.  He told me I was a lucky girl to have had the 'smear' test carried out when I did.  He informed me that cells change on a spectrum of low to high.  Mine were in the high sections and he couldn't be sure at this stage if any had fully changed. 
That was a huge piece of information for an 18 year old to take in.  I am not sure I did.  I was then taken through to a surgical room by a kind nurse.  I was told that the first procedure was to cover my cervix in some different liquids that would help show up the pre-cancerous cells.  Again, the Specialist did not sugar coat anything.  He let me see the screen and pointed out that over seventy percent was affected.  In short I was smothered. 
He told me that I would need to have a biopsy taken and that he would carry out a 'Loop Exision'.  I asked if I would come back for that - in the hope I could run as fast as I could away from the hospital and lock myself away to try and process the situation.  He almost laughed and declared that I would not be leaving until it was all done.  Thank goodness I was laying down, otherwise I would have passed out.
As they prepared for it all the nurse explained what I was going to experience.  It was just as she said.  As they insisted on doing it there and then I could only have a local anaesthetic, but looking back that was probably better for me, as afterwards I was allowed to go straight home.  I was told that the results of the biopsy would not take very long but if there was no news it was good news.
The first couple of days after I had it done were long and slow.  Every time the phone rang I believed it was going to be the hospital with dreaded words.  I couldn't get my mind around the fact that I was carrying around pre-cancerous cells and had absolutely no clue.  My mind kept drifting to the scenario whereby I hadn't moved, hadn't been called for a health check due to the new Doctors, hadn't had the test in the first place.
I swung from feeling very sorry for myself, to feeling very lucky.  It had been discovered and I was now under the care of the right department.  Then as the days turned into weeks with no news I started to relax.  I finally got a letter from the hospital noting that no further treatment was required at this stage but I was to return for another smear test in six months - the appointment already given.
Returning to the hospital I felt hopeful.  They had done quite an extensive 'Loop Excision' removal and if I could deal with that a 'smear' test was nothing.  The same Specialist carried it out and as usual said I would receive notification as and when.  My hopefulness was short lived when I was swiftly called back for another appointment.  I again under went another set of biopsy and 'Loop Excision'. 
Another round of 'no news is good news' ensued but this time my hopeful outlook did not return.  I was again asked to go for a 'smear' test in six months.  It seemed like a long time and my close family and friends tried to keep me positive, noting that they would have worked extra hard to make sure they got it all the second time, it was probably just a little bit that got left behind because there had been so much the first.
The 'smear' test appointment came and went and I was recalled for a third time.  This time when I was called into to see the Specialist I was also asked if I minded a Student being present.  Why the hell not, I was past caring to be honest.  I was quite surprised when I walked in that it was a different Specialist.  He had a much more empathetic patient approach, but that didn't change the fact that I was going to have to undergo the same procedures again. 
I remember the Specialist turning to the student and saying "This lady is just about to have this done for a third time.  She has very new and sensitive scar tissue that we have to work with.  We do not want her to have to go through this again.  We MUST get ALL of it."  That made me feel, actually, very safe.  It was the determination in his voice I think.  He asked to see me afterwards, which I hadn't had to do before. 
He said he was very sorry that I was here again and went through what I already knew about waiting to hear (or not being the case I wanted).  Then he spoke to me about the effect of the treatment, that no one had gone through with me before.  He said I had to imagine my cervix as the skin on my arm, if that was burnt, it would heal a little differently and be more sensitive.  And weaker.  The more it was burnt the weaker it would be.  I still didn't follow.  So he spelt it out for me.  The three procedures could potentially have made my cervix too weak to be able to carry a child.
This was a blast I was not expecting.  But at 18, with no interest in reproducing, I was too young to fully understand the implications of it.  It wasn't until I unexpectedly fell pregnant with my first child that this came back to worry me.
I left the hospital that day, feeling more upbeat than the previous.  Thankfully that hopefulness was realised when after the six month 'smear' I was finally given the all clear.  I was then monitored by 'smears' every six months until being given approval to return to the Doctors for the tests annually. 
It is only this year that I have been given the all clear to go every three years.  The magical three year call that I was waiting for when I was 18.  I am now 33.  This experience certainly changed me.  It made me stronger, it made a typical 18 year old, thinking life was long - appreciate life can be short, you never know. 
It made me weaker in some ways.  Those areas I am still working on remedying.  It made me feel like shouting 'Why Me?'.  Then it made me feel lucky that I only ever experience those preventative procedures and not combative ones.  Lucky that I was then watched like a hawk.  That I now have the foresight never to miss a 'smear' test as so many women do through fear.
If things had not been positive for me, I would have needed a charity like GRACE.  A charity to help me and my family through a traumatic, life-changing time.  An unknown time.  I would have wanted my friends and family to have had a source of information to give them comfort and solid information and fact. 
I support any charity that looks to save other women from Gynaecological Cancers, being it Cervical or Ovarian.  They need your support too.
You may wonder why I have written this post?  I wanted to write it so those that read my blog could relate to what could be 'just another charity'.  The support I am asking for doesn't cost anything.  I am just trying to help a charity gather support on Facebook and Twitter - so that YOU if you ever need the information can access it.
Please like the GRACE Facebook Page by click here GRACE FACEBOOK.  And follow us on Twitter by find us @grace_women.
You can find out more about the amazing work GRACE do by checking out their website here -GRACE WEBSITE.  If you ever have questions you can always contact them.    
Linking this post up to the wonderful Older Mum in a Muddle : Once Upon a Time.   

Sunday, 9 December 2012

What makes Christmas 'Christmas' to me?

I am loving the 'Christmas' photographs that are being circulated on Facebook at the moment.  The ones I love most, are the old traditional sort, steeped in memories of a simpler time.  When decorations were done as a family by the fire, in woollen jumpers whilst snow fluttered past the - not so environmentally friendly (ie. drafty) - windows.
I don't know if anyone actually ever did or experienced that in real life, but it is a concept that many even to this day, love.  As much as we would like to say we are going to take our lives back to those traditional times, I think it is now impossible not to get caught up in the convenience of today.  For example, purchasing gifts via the Internet rather than braving the masses at the till points; filling the children's stocking with sweets and Playdoh rather than apples and oranges.
But as an adult we all have our own memories of our childhood Christmases.  If we are lucky, they are happy ones.  And they are the true traditional Christmas to the memory keeper.  I did not appreciate these until I became a Mother myself, and the spirit of Christmas - through my childs eye - became important. 
I took stock of what I loved and cherished as part of my childhood Christmases.  Over the last few years, particularly as 'child' became 'children', I have tried to ensure that we keep some of our longstanding own family traditions within Christmas.  The build up; the day; after.  I have also started to create some of our own.  You never know, as my boys grow and have their own families - if we should be so blessed - they might just do the same thing and I will see my grandchildren enjoy some of the same things I did as a little girl.
So what does make 'Christmas' to me?
Actual Shopping - Yes, although I have purchased some items online, I like at least one allocated 'shopping day' in December, when you queue to park, freeze as you walk, sweat as you browse and sigh as you queue.  Within this is a feeling of nostalgia that makes it all worth while.  After a wicked Hot Chocolate, in a cafe in which there are no spare seats and the windows are streaming with condensation, you struggle back to your car with your numerous heavy shopping bags vowing next year - you are doing it all on line.
Decorating the Tree with a Christmas Movie - This has always been what we have done with our children.  It makes me feel Christmas like and when the children get bored of helping (usually after the first few minutes) they generally sit and watch it nicely.
Wrapping Day - I think I mentioned this in a Christmas post last year, but my mum and I have a long standing tradition - starting back when I was a teenager and able to afford to purchase my own small gifts for people - of having a wrapping afternoon.  We lay everything out, admire our choice of paper, tags and adornments, hit play on a cheesy Christmas CD and devour a Terry's Chocolate Orange.  About half way through we vow that next year we are buying half the amount of stuff.
Garden Centre Lunch - Nowhere makes more of an effort than a Garden Centre at Christmas time and for about the last 12 years, my mum and I, have made a tradition of having a 'child - free' (my children not hers obviously) browse and lunch.  Usually the new 'annual tree ornament' purchase is made here.
Christmas Eve Baking - Even when I worked full time I would always book Christmas Eve off in order to do some baking and get as much cooking as possible done for Christmas.  We always cook our Turkey and Bacon on Christmas Eve.  Mum makes home made sausage rolls.  I make home made shortbread.
Christmas Eve Afternoon Movie - When I was a child it was The Santa Claus with Dudley Moore.  We would watch it in the afternoon when Christmas seemed to near, yet so far.  Now our choice of film seems to be The Polar Express - works for me.
The Christmas Morning Wait - When my brother and I were children we were made to wait on the stairs before we were allowed to go into the living room where the tree was to see if Father Christmas had been.  It wasn't a malicious thing by my parents, they ensured the presents looked great and in position while the anticipation and excitement of getting in that room reached a crescendo and we were always giddy by the time they opened the door with a wry smile.
The Hat Game - After the traditional Christmas dinner we always had our crackers, donned the hats and played The Hat Game (you write a name on a hat and the person wearing it has to guess who they are by asking questions).  We do not do this at the moment because the children are so young and not interested, but I will re-introduce it as they get older.
Snowballs - The drink that is, not the cold icy stuff from the sky.  Even as a child I was allowed a sip of that sweet yellow liquid and I still love it now.  My bottle has been purchased and is ready to enjoy.
No TV Until After 8pm - This was a great rule when I was a child and a great rule now.  I can not stand the tripe that is palmed off as Christmas Day TV viewing and as the TV is generally on every other day of the year in our house, it isn't on 25 December.
Boxing Day Dinner - I think I enjoy our traditional Boxing Day dinner to Christmas Days.  We have a big old chunk of bacon, mash and pickles.  This is also the day that toys and games get full attention.
Now I am feeling super festive and really rather appreciative of the lovely Christmas memories I am lucky enough to hold.
What are your Christmas traditions - do they come from your childhood?  Do you strive to make lots of traditions for your own children?
I am linking up to the BritMums Christmas Blog Hop.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

What Has Made Me Cheerful This Week?

Things have been very busy over the last few weeks, so posts have been a bit lacking.  However, it is time to think about the week in all it's busy glory and pick out the best bits with Mummy from The Heart and Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC.
So, as Christmas approaches and the end of 2012 heads even closer these are my happy memories of the week :
* The Christmas Tree is up and the decorations are out.  We opted for a fake tree this year, puppy paws and all that, but it was just as much fun to decorate and has made the room look very festive.  Even with the lack of a fireplace this year, I have even found a home for the stockings to be hung.
* The Christmas Films are also out of storage!  J2 is very much enjoying them this year, particularly The Polar Express, which thankfully happens to be my favourite.  I love it when we all snuggle on the sofa under the cosy blankets with mugs of hot chocolate and a big old bowl of popcorn.
* Most of the Christmas shopping is done.  This is pleasing because I now have next Wednesday planned - this consists of going to see J1's school Nativity, followed by the annual tradition of my mum and I wrapping the gifts to Christmas Cd's and eating a Terry's Chocolate Orange.
* Our Christmas plans are formed.  We know who is going where, when and who is doing what.  I am thankful we do not have massive dramas over this, I know some of my friends are struggling to please everyone they need too.
* Something not Christmas related - the puppy has not pooped overnight for nearly three weeks *whoop*
For other cheery souls check out the Reasons to be Cheerful Blog Hop.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

2013 : Striving (#GetGrooving)

My last post considered what 2012 had been like for me and my family.  I was proud of our progress in most aspects of our life.  I, again, have had no time to sit down and write this week until now, but I have been thinking about what I would like to try and achieve in 2013. 
Participating in Kate on Thin Ice's #GetGrooving (Groovy Mums) helped me to focus my 2012 'Hopes and Aims' so I will be doing the same for 2013.  No one can predict the future.  How many of you have had things happen this year that you had no clue would ever occur?  Most I would think.  But a little planning never hurt anyone.  And things won't happen unless YOU make them.
With exception of all the normal things you hope a year will bring; good health; happiness for your friends and family; world peace; a lottery win; this post is all about the things that I can make, or help to make happen.
2013 Hopes and Aims
* Holiday of a Lifetime - To really make it that.  As this is the only time, I believe, we will be able to take J1 on this holiday we need to make it count.  Do absolutely everything we ever dreamt of doing and on coming home, have not one single regret. 
* Bike Rides - With the award of a bike for J1, we will be able to do that very simple pleasure of going for a family bike ride.  I want to ensure we do this regularly.
* Physiotherapy - For J1's physical strengthening to continue to improve through vigilant physiotherapy at home and school.  Great progress has been made with this and it needs to continue as he is growing fast.
* Social - We have started to get out and about much more socially as a family and it has been fun and it will be lovely to keep this going. 
* Swimming - Again this another simple family activity that has been a little difficult for us to achieve.  However, we have found a swimming pool with reasonable disabled facilities and if we enlist extra hands we can do this as a family.  J2 is also scheduled to start swimming lessons in March.  Safety first for our little fearless one.
* Home - Continue to improve our home and garden, including de-cluttering.
Really these all come down to one thing - enjoying our time together as a family.
* Writing - I have a few writing goals for 2013 :
- Continue with Camomile Crescent
- Enter at least two writing competitions
- First draft of my novel (when J2 starts Nursery in April)
- To attend a writing workshop in January (booked) and Britmums in June
- Research the book industry in general
* Blogging
- Continue to blog at least 2-3 times a week
- Raise profile of Lynsey The Mother Duck, via Facebook, Twitter etc
- Get a personalised design for my blog
* Social Media & Charity Work
- Continue to help the Charity GRACE with their Social Media. 
- Set up a GRACE blog
- Learn more about Social Media as a profession
* Running
- Continue to run at least twice a week for general health and fitness and maintain weight
- Join a running club or set up a 'running buddies' scheme
- Try and set up a 5K race whereby all racers jog with someone in a wheelchair
- Enter 5K and 10K races all year
- Complete half marathon in March
There are also two from last year that are important to ensure happen again this coming year :
* A weekend for just The Hubby and I
* One Spa session every three months (only achieved one of those this year - must do better!)
Again this might seem like an exhausting list but I will be focusing on them in small bite size pieces.  Most things can be achieved with good organisation, clever use of time and a bit of determination.
Have a think about what you want from your year - those things that you can have control over.  What can you make happen?  Baby steps of progress can make the world of difference to a mind that is feeling low, and once you start, you never know what you can achieve.
If you need more inspiration take a look at all the posts over at Kate on Thin Ice and see how others are getting on!