Sunday, 30 November 2008

A Day For T'Internet Friends!

We had such a busy day yesterday. I thought that appropriately, my first proper day out should be with those from GUCH (Grown Ups with Congenital Heart Defects). There was a meetup planned for Liverpool, so it was up early yesterday (driving to Liverpoool was a bit beyond me at this stage, so Rob and the kids took me) and off to pick up my good GUCH buddy Gilly.

We met the others at 9.30 and, after the world's largest latte in Costa Coffee (it was FREEZING yesterday!), we went to look at one of Liverpool's 2 cathedrals. Quite an eerie sight greeted us as the freezing fog hadn't lifted, but an impressive sight none the less.


Now, not being of the religious persuasion, I don't really frequent churches, but I must admit that I love looking at cathedrals; the architecture on them is just fantastic. What was more amazing was that this one was only finished in the 60s, and yet looked hundreds of years old. I don't think there's many places built in the last 100 years or so that could look this impressive.

Anyway, here are some of my GUCH friends (for those reading from the GUCH site: l-r - Gilly, Vicki, Mike, Deb and Deb's other half!) enjoying the sights:

And as you can see, there were some wonderful sights:


After all that, Mike and Gilly needed a sit down!


Then it was on to the second cathedral, which was the more modern Catholic cathedral. As you can see, there was a much more modern take on this but I loved how they'd done it, especially the stained glass:


Paul got lots of good pics (which will no doubt be far superior to my snaps!):


And me and Gilly took the opportunity to have a good sit down (there's a lot of hills and stairs in Liverpool, not done either for some time!) and a catch up:

After lunch I was tired so met back up with Rob and the kids (who'd spent a few hours at the fabulous World Museum) and left my GUCHs to enjoy the rest of the afternoon, plus a few shandies later on! I so enjoyed meeting them all (only met Gilly before) and I'm looking forward already to the next meetup!

As we were over that way, we did a little detour on the way home and went to see my best cyber friend Marie and her lovely family. Me and Marie had a good chat about crafty stuff (and I got to see her fabulous new craft room; not jealous at all, honest!); Rob and Marie's hubby Kendo caught up on all things bike, beer and music related; and the kids? Well, the kids ran around and made noise and made us all wish we'd bought a jumbo sized pack of ear plugs! They're so funny together though and I so love the fact that they're growing up friends!

First of all, the ever cute Gracie decided to teach Xander the art of ballroom dancing:


However, that soon descended into all 4 of them 'dancing' round the living room to High School Musical (yes, Emily has now converted Gracie to the joys that is HSM on repeat 24/7! How Marie's still talking to me I do not know!)

I'm not sure Ewan was that impressed with the choice of outfit the girls had chosen for him for the disco however! Never mind, that just meant he abandoned the disco and gave his Auntie Lou chocolatey snotty kisses instead!
Anyway, a lovely if not tiring day yesterday! But it just goes to show how I've met some lovely people on this old pooter! I wouldn't have met any GUCHs if it wasn't for the message board and as for Marie, well if we hadn't been on the same birth club over at Babywhisperer then I wouldn't have such a good friend now (plus no-one to steal crafty ideas from!)

Friday, 28 November 2008

Chatterbox!

I'd mentioned in an earlier post how, while I was in hospital, Xander had suddenly found his voice and was finally talking. Unlike his sister, who said her first word at 10 months (and hasn't shut up since!), Xander wasn't an early talker and before 2, all we got was 'moo, baa' quack'!!

So, it's now lovely to hear him rabbiting away. It's mainly single words (mummy, daddy, Emy, Manma (Grandma)) and the odd 2 word sentence (Pooh Bear, bye mummy etc). He can also name all the characters in Roary The Racing Car!

So yesterday we were rather amused when he managed a 4 word sentence: now, if you touch one of his toys he shouts:

"Oi, give it back!"

Bless him!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

And Finally...The Good News!

So, today was the day I was dreading: I went for my follow up appointment with the cardiologist. But, in a nutshell, it's looking good!

I told him I wasn't interested in a long term prognosis, I'd rather not know! However, the lovely Dr T decided to tell me anyway: that my prognosis was probably no different to before all this happened! Relieved isn't the word I tell you. The stent is very robust and they're not known to corrode or anything like that, so it should just stay in there forever now. They will however have to monitor it for the rest of my life now, but he's promised to take very good care of me!

He also said that I can eventually get back to what ever I did before, which includes being able to pick Xander up again. You wouldn't believe how hard it's been not to pick him up and squeeze him this past couple of months. As for Emily, well she's getting so big she'll be picking me up next!

One interesting thing was how rare this was. I knew it wasn't too common, but I'm the first case my cardiologist has ever personally seen. I'm certainly one in a million me!

Anyway, afterwards I saw the physio to discuss how I get back in shape physically; my legs and back are very weak so she's shown me some exercises to build up gradually. Then I went round to see some of the nurses etc who took such good care of me. I'd baked muffins yesterday for them all so was like Santa! It was funny seeing them stare straight through me at first (I look different vertical, dressed and washed) but the hugs that followed were lovely.

So, hopefully I can now get back to normal. It's such a good feeling; feel like I've not dare breath for the last 2 months and it's been such a difficult time for me and Rob. I'm very emotional right now but that's out of relief!

Finally, I just want to thank everybody again for all their love and support. I tried counting the other day how many cards, flowers and gifts I got, plus how many visitors both in and out of the hospital. I had to give up, it was just too many (I daren't even start counting texts and emails)! There are just so many people who have been so wonderful and it's something I will never ever forget. Thank you!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

My Whoopsy Daisy Angel!

*** PUSHY MUM ALERT ***
Now, I've never really been a pushy mum...
...until now! Because...
EMILY GOT THE LEAD IN THE SCHOOL CHRISTMAS PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, in the school's production of The Whoopsy Daisy Angel, Emily is...can you guess... the Whoopsy Daisy Angel!
Where did I put that agent's number...

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Rockstar Part 2

Following on from my son's obvious rock star leanings, we also have another potential rock star in the family. Emily loves doing concerts in her bedroom and dancing around pretending to be Hannah Montana. Yesterday, when Auntie Zoe came to visit, she decided to show off her all round musician skills by writing, playing and singing her very own songs. She certainly has the stage presense of Hannah Montana:

And from the look of her first ever music video, she certainly has fans like Hannah Montana:

video

But, why is it I wasn't reminded of Hannah Montana but more this lady:



Saturday, 22 November 2008

What's In A Name?

For some reason, my kids have both ended up with really long names. It wasn't intentional; we just seem to decide on a first name quite early on in pregnancy and then the name grows as the pregnancy goes on! We picked Xander's name fairly on, and I always knew that if I had a boy I wanted to have William in there somewhere after my Grandad who had passed away when I was only 3. Then, as I got nearer my due date, we decided that we needed something that meant something equally to the pair of us. After much deliberation and endless arguments from Rob that 'No, Xander William Slash isn't an option Louise!', we decided to name him after this fella:


This is the mighty James Hetfield of Metallica. We've both been a fan for over 20 years and so he seemed appropriate as we couldn't ever see a day of not loving his Royal Rock Godness!

Anyway, imagine our delight the other day when we caught our son wandering around like this:


Yes!! Even though he dances round to Mickey Mouse he does have some musical taste genes in there; it's a classice piece of '85 Metallica aswell so he's starting with the good stuff!

Unfortunately for Xander, we won't be taking him to see the mighty 'Tallica in February (thanks to my sis & bruv-in-law Gem & Dave and my oldest Metallica buddy and James worshipper Ali (who won't be reading this far as she'll never get past the pic of James!)). He's not quite ready to see Mummy screaming at rockstars just yet; but hopefully in 10 years time I'll be introducing my squids to the mosh pit (yeah, at 44 I can see me doing that!)

In other more sedate news; Thursday night saw the lights switch on in our local town. I was determined we would go as it's normally really good. So, on go the thermals, long sleeve jumper, cardigan, thick coat, scarves, gloves etc etc and off we went. The kids were all trussed up against the nasty wind that started about an hour before we set off:


Emily got a lighting up butterfly, Xander couldn't care less so we didn't waste £4 on anything that lighted up for him; and me and Rob hogged the tea van (lovely hot chocolate with whipped cream, yum!).

I must say, our local town really do go all out with the lights, it's very impressive. Apparently there was someone from Emmerdale switched them on but it could have been the town hall cleaner for all I knew! Anyway, Emily and Xander were certainly impressed:

So, looks like Christmas is well and truely underway and I'm trying to embrace it with the whole '32 days till Christmas' countdown rather than my usual '33 days till it's all over' one!

Oooh, maybe I should do a 'XX days till I see James' countdown...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Late Night Ramblings About A Weird Little World...

So, it's 1am and I can't sleep for Billy-o. OK, so the can of Dr Pepper and trip to Costa Coffee at tea time weren't the best idea I admit! Anyway, I've been laid in bed for an hour now with my mind wandering; and they always say to write it down so what better than a late night waffle on the blog?!

I've been thinking back to the hospital and what a weird little world it is in there; particularly the relationships you form. You're there for days, weeks at best, and yet you develop these intense relationships with people who you'll never see again.

Take our lovely Brenda. I think I spent a total of 5 days in the next bed to her but felt like I knew her inside out: that woman had been through everything and spent day and night telling me about it! Not only was she diagnosed with a dicky ticker in the early 50s and subsequently had open heart surgery twice; she'd also gone through her husband being killed in a car crash, her sister being murdered and still managed to squeeze out 4 kids and down the odd Babycham! And you know what, there was still no stopping her, especially with her Shopmobility scooter! I find myself wondering if she managed to get out the same day as me or did ultrasound messed up again; and I really wish I could check in on her.

Then there was the Indian woman in the bed opposite, Maqsood, who couldn't speak a word of English. At first her shouting out in the night was annoying; but after a few days I found myself going over and holding her hand when she did. When I overheard the nurse on my last day there saying she was being sent home to die, I was glad I had done. That was 2 weeks ago and I've been wondering if Maqsood is still with us.

When I was first admitted, I was on a cardiothoracic surgery ward, very similar to the one I was on after my open heart surgery 9 years ago. I suddenly started thinking about a man who was on there with me. When they release you from intensive care they put you in a high dependency bay on the ward; I was on there with 3 elderly blokes who had all had bypasses, so it was quite strange for me. The man opposite was called Stan and, as we were in there over the weekend, we'd start conversations joking about going out into Leeds, our 'wee bags' in tow. So, when I was on there this time I started thinking 'I wonder if Stan's here?'. Bloody crackers I know!

And don't get me started on 'my bed'. I'm getting quite cross that my little corner of Ward 18 might now be occupied by someone else and someone else might be watching my bedside tv and chatting to Denise about Las Vegas whilst she changes my bed!

It's a very strange world the hospital. You're not there that long really, but you come away feeling as you would about a place you'd stayed for years. I think I'll always wonder about how Brenda and Stan are getting on, and what happened to Maqsood, and wondering how Denise is enjoying Vegas...

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Better Late Than Never!

So, there I was the other day, on my daily blog hop, when I stumbled across a post by the lovely Marie. When I last saw her, she was telling me about her Christmas project for this year, and this post of hers lead me to the full details here. Ooooh, thinks me, that looks like a lovely Christmas project, maybe I should give it a go?
I mulled it over for about 10 minutes, then made a mental list of what projects I had coming up to Christmas: Gemma and Dave's wedding invites, Laura and Gary's invites, top secret sewing project for Christmas presents. Hmm, maybe scrapbooking every day might not be that do-able.

Then I came to another realisation - whatever happened to last year's Christmas project: the scrapbook I was doing to document Emily and Xander's Christmas? Wouldn't it maybe be a good idea to actually finish that before THIS Christmas?!

So, when Emily requested that we sepend our Sunday afternoon with a bit of a mother/daughter scrapbooking session, I thought it was a good time to blow the dust off my stash, and do some scrapbooking for the first time in 3 months! So, here is my first layout for a long time and another step closer to actually finishing last year's project:

Emily decided to be a lot more prepared, and made a headstart on this year's Christmas scrapping:

Feel like I'm on a bit of a roll now, you never know, that Xmas album might actually get finished before I need to start on this years!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

What Happened To My Boy?!!

So, while I was in hospital, a lot changed: the weather got COLD, the days got a lot shorter, and all the leaves fell off the trees.

However, the biggest changes seem to have been with my son. He can say 'mummy' perfectly now, he can form a sentence, he counts to 10, he's a genius with a jigsaw, he dances and sings to Mickey Mouse; and, er, this:

Now, a man doing the shopping? I'm all for that. And multi-tasking so that he can build mummy a palace whilst doing her shopping? Even better! But, with not only a dummy but princess slippers too? Erm, I'm not quite convinced...

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Dear Santa...


Like it or not, Christmas ain't far away! So, I actually relented the other day and ordered Emily's Christmas present (you see, good girl here, shopping online rather than braving the shops!).
Emily wrote a Christmas list weeks ago, a good 2 pages long! So, I went through it last night as I'd had a couple of requests for ideas...what a load of tat! A £30 cupcake maker that makes 1 cupcake at a time? We have an oven that will do 2 dozen at a time! I really can't believe the rubbish that is out there and the prices they charge for it. Needless to say, the list has been amended and just the stuff that she may actually still play with by Boxing Day are still on there!
And as for Xander, there is virtually nothing out there for 2 year old boys! Everything's too babyish or for 3+ (believe me though, when he's 3 he will have the coolest toys!). His list currently comprises of 2 things!
And as for my list? Mine's simple...peace and quiet!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Remembering


Today is Rememberance Sunday so today's blog post is dedicated to remembering those who have served in not only the First and Second World Wars, but those that have served in the Falklands War and both Middle East conflicts too (and indeed, those that are still serving).
I've never understood the point of war, but I have so much respect for those who will go and risk their lives to protect people like me and you back home.
A special mention has to go to my Grandad Harry and my Grandad-In-Law Ron, who both served in World War 2; which makes me love and respect them even more (if that's possible!).
Thank you.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Cats, Devils, Conkers, Sparklers & A Bit Of Love Bomb Baby!

So, I log on this morning for a bit of blog hopping and was greeted with this post over at Jen's blog. Love reading Jen's blog anyway, she's just so bloody funny; but this post made me cry with laughter: it just sums me and Jen up circa 1990!

I also got to thinking today that I should maybe upload some pics (although Rob did an excellent post the other day, I thought trying to explain uploading photos might have been pushing it a bit!).
First of all, here's the munchkins on Halloween: Emily dressed as a witch's cat and Xander as (what else) a little devil:

Rob brought the kids into the hospital so I could see them dressed up. I also had the added bonus of not having to answer the door to the trick or treaters!

Whilst in hospital, I got lots of lovely cards and presents; but I have to say the one that stood out was from Rob's Uncle Neil (or Big Bad Uncle Fred as he likes to be known!). Most people sent flowers, chocolates, grapes, magazines but not BBUF; he thought what I needed to aid my recovery was a home made conker necklace:

Nope, I've no idea why either!! (And eek, that ain't a flattering pose of me!)

Last night, we had some fireworks courtesy of my parents and sister. My mum also made pie and peas and some good old Yorkshire parkin! Xander was less impressed with Daddy's firework display and retired to the living room with Grandad to watch Tigger and Pooh. Emily was however a bit more appreciative but got rather impatient when it came to sparkler lighting. Granted it did take about 20 minutes to get the buggers lit, but finally her and Auntie Gemma got to have some sparkler fun (yes, Gemma was doing it just for Emily, honest!):

Trouble was, Rob had been trying to light sparklers that long that he got a bit carried away when they finally did light, and lit too many:

There we go, all caught up now!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Dare I Even Say It...

...I'm home! Hopefully for good this time!

After a weekend of temperature taking and lots of blood cultures, the docs were happy that the infection hadn't spread and discharged me yesterday lunchtime; one month exactly since I was first admitted. It's a funny feeling: obviously I'm so happy to be home but it's also quite strange to be away from the routine of the hospital and having a nurse on call 24/7. In a strange way I'm also missing the mad old biddies which I shared a bay with (especially Brenda and her Shopmobility scooter tales!!).

So, I said I'd write out the full story, but that story has become far too long! So here's a quick rundown of everything that happened in the last month; I think you get the gist from that!

2 x heart operations
1 x bout of pneumonia
1 x water infection
1 x lumber puncture
1 x chest drain
1 x stay in ICU
3 x stays in high dependency
19 x canulas
5 x CT scans
6 x chest Xrays
3 x cathetars
and a partridge in a pear tree!

Hoping November's a little less hectic!!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Update!

Hi everyone!

I'm out on day release so thought I'd do a quick update.

First of all, get Rob being all good at blogging!

Like I say, I've been given a pass out today, though do have to be back at the hospital at 7. However, that's giving me time with the kids and a couple of meals that aren't of the hospital variety (how anyone gets better on those I don't know!).

The pneumonia has cleared up fairly well; I had a chest x-ray yesterday and it looked good. I had my last lot of IV antibiotics last night and now it's a waiting game; if I carry on and stay well this weekend, they should let me out next week. However, if I become symptomatic again it could be a sign the infection has spread to my stent and that means a 6 week course of IV antibiotics; which means I won't be out until Christmas.

Please keep everything crossed for me, I just want to get home and get back to normal. I'm also missing the munchkins like crazy and need more than the odd half hour by my hospital bed with them.

Take care everyone and hope to see you soon!