It’s really quite scary. I am still clawing on to Christmas. I know, I know…when it comes to Christmas, I am officially sad. I still have chocolate tree decorations saved and a couple of Christmas crackers and my 3D animated Christmas screensaver on my laptop and you know what? I DON’T CARE!! All my friends and family know how border-line obsessive I get over the festive period (in an understated way though; I don’t have flashing neon reindeer on my roof or anything like that) and by now accept that it’s just me. DEAL WITH IT. And no, I’m not sat here typing this whilst wearing my magic transform-every-fairy-light-into-an-image-of-a-reindeer glasses (she lied).
They are, however, REALLY, REALLY MAGIC.
Over Christmas and New Year I received lots of emails from readers of this blog asking all sorts of questions. I have tried to answer as many as possible but I know I’m behind so I thought that for February I’d put a shout-out to readers old, new and curious to ask me anything you like and I’ll answer all and sundry at the end of this month. You can ask whatever you blooming well like, shunt-related or not. I have a few as yet unanswered emails which I’m thinking of including in this end-of-the-month post as they’re rather interesting (fear not, your anonymity will be one hundred percent guaranteed; I’d never publish your names on one of my posts without your prior permission). So if you’ve been reading this blog and wondered ‘does she ever actually go out?’, ‘does she ever just want to rip her shunt into bits, the way I do sometimes’, or whatever else springs to mind, feel free to now go ahead and ask. And I’ll (hopefully) answer ’em all. If any questions overlap, I may need to pick one from that topic and answer that, but all topics will be addressed. So you lot get thinking and I’ll get back to….trying to get over Christmas.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had fantastic New Year’s Eve celebrations and that your hangovers haven’t only just cleared. It seems to be a bit of a crazy start to 2014, weather-wise; -53° in Montana? And nearly two weeks of storms here which have resulted in flooding a-go-go. All we really want here is some nice picturesque snow before the warm of Spring arrives. Sort it out, jet stream. My New Year’s Eve was quiet…so quiet I missed it. Literally. I had Jools Holland on the telly, was in on my own, struggling to keep my eyes open and was upstairs plumping up the pillows on my bed when I heard screams of ‘Happy New Year!’ and the straings of Auld Lang Syne coming from Jools Holland on the telly. Whoops. I missed midnight. Oh, well. I wished Hoshi a Happy New Year, had a small glass of Bucks Fizz, watched the London fireworks on telly (it looked very wet, windy and cold out there) and went to bed. That may sound sad but last year I chose to celebrate New Year on New Year’s Day rather than the previous evening. And it was one of the best New Year’s ever. So this year I chose to do the same and lying in my bed at 12.30am, listening to the gale-force winds, driving rain and hail, I was very relieved to be where I was and not at some party trying in vain to book a taxi. The next day, our planned New Year’s walk across the Downs had to be cancelled; the ground was simply too water-logged to even contemplate it plus it was terrible weather.
Flute, Swedish bagpipes, guitar and a long horn-thingy. Always an interesting musical mix at Paul’s!
Instead, we (‘we’ being the group who celebrated together last year by walking across the Downs) decided to head to my friend Paul’s cottage in the country. It was great. We brought food, they supplied drink (all non-alcoholic as Paul doesn’t allow booze in the cottage) and we spent the day being all cosy and warm whilst the storm howled outside, playing lots of the musical instruments that line the walls of the cottage. Paul is an amazing musician, as are many of his friends, so it always makes for a musical gathering (watch a bit of it here!). I had a go at the cello; my friend used to play it and I’ve always fancied having a go but coming across cellos to ‘have a go’ on isn’t easy….unless you’re at Paul’s cottage. Of course he has one. Only about eight of us managed to get to Paul’s in the end (he’s in a very remote location and the weather was, frankly, shit) but it was a lovely start to 2014. And not a sniff of a hangover.
See everything on the hanging on the walls and around the side of the room? All musical instruments!
I haven’t bothered with New Year’s resolutions because I only have one focus this year which is, I know already, going to take up the majority of my time and energy. So I’m not going to try and lose weight (well I’m not overweight anyway so that’d be a bit daft), stop smoking (I don’t smoke), cut down on alcohol (not been able to drink wine since last August – head doesn’t like it at the mo) or any of the usual resolutions. I spoke to Kim Nguyen Browne of the Vietnam Volunteer Network recently; she’d been pretty ill for a long time and was due to be in Vietnam right this moment, speaking to the government to help Lewis and I with our proposal. As it is, she’s here recovering, poor thing. She said that in the light of how her health is, it might be more time-effective for me to deal directly with the Vietnam Government. Gulp. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to do so to help her out and if it means we’ll get the information we need more quickly. But I am also extremely nervous about doing so as I don’t know how they ‘work’ if you get what I mean. Speaking to top-level governments about things they are doing wrong isn’t something I do every day, really. I am meeting with Kim in a fortnight to have a crash course in schmoozing effectively with Health Ministries staff to get the information I want from them. If I have to bat my lashes, I will do it; if it means getting the figures we need. Kim also has a brain scan for me from Vietnam, which Lewis is particularly keen to get. It is of a little girl born with only half a brain who was successfully shunted at Go Vap Orphanage. Often this sort of complication is overlooked or deemed to be too ‘difficult’ and the child is left to die. Lewis, being a top neurosurgeon, wants to see examples of scans which have been deemed as too ‘difficult’ to treat to see if that is really the case, or if it might be a case of – shockingly – laziness on the part of the medical staff out there. It does happen. Quite a lot, apparently. If we can prove that these children can be treated successfully, that we can help make it cost-effective as opposed to nursing them in institutions until their deaths and above all else, that it is WRONG to just leave them when the economy of Vietnam is currently extremely healthy and thriving – shame these children aren’t doing the same – then we may be able to bring about change, at least in attitudes towards disabled children over there. So….meetings in two weeks with Kim and Lewis and then it’s Approach The Government time! My head had better behave.
Actually, I’ve re-thought the ‘only one resolution this year’ and I think I may actually have two resolutions; my second is to stay in contact with friends. I have lots, I stay in contact with most of them very regularly – but some not so regularly. Not because I don’t like them but simply due to the busy-ness of life. But hey, I have a mobile, Skype, email – there’s really no excuse. So making time for more conversations and meet-ups will also be a priority.
Head-wise, I’m going for a pressure reduction next week (from setting 11 to setting 10) as standing upright after sitting for any time longer than forty-five minutes is proving to be quite a problem. I can’t tolerate the pressure change that goes on! It’s fine when I’m at home but out in public it’s embarrassing as it makes me stop in my tracks and I have to breathe very slowly and steadily to try to bring it under control. So I’m guessing it’s still too high for me. It’s a long, slow process but as long as I get there eventually, what does time matter?