Thursday, 23 January 2020

Sparkly Spiders, Latin Inscriptions & Other Fairy Tales

I'm not sure I want to share this post.
It has taken me a few days to write it...

Firstly, let me just say that right now, I am very happy.
I'm calm and feeling groovy and I am okey-dokey.
I just feel that it is important for people to know about this...so here goes...

Last year ended with me in Intensive Care.
I woke up after being unconscious for some time.
I could see sparkly bright coloured, teeny-weeny 'spiders' dropping down from the ceiling, really pretty and gentle.
There was also gold writing in Latin carved over the walls, (?), this went away after a couple of days.
I just lay in a tiny bed, like Snow White - (the ICU is also the children's ward, it's Wales...).

Artist, J Batten
 I felt completely happy.

I had no idea how I got there.

A few days before this I had been to the same hospital for tests.
They had taken lots of blood and scans, sadly they didn't test for the right things.
My bladder had stopped working so I was given catheters to use myself, which I did, and was given some antibiotics.
The antibiotics made me vomit and I had a weird reaction to them.
My own doctor wanted me to have some more tests next week...they didn't happen.

I am usually very healthy, eat well and exercise three times a week, don't drink, don't smoke,
(wow that makes me sound such a goody-goody he he he).

A couple of days later...  I fell unconscious and Steve (AKA 'The Giant Troll' ), called the paramedics, who got lost and took and hour and a half to get to us.  (We live up a mountain in Snowdonia).
I was taken to A&E.

Steve told me what happened...I have no memory of anything that was done to me, which seems to be the best thing really.
He watched everything the A&E team did to save me, sounds horrific.
Glad I was not there to witness it!
I just woke up with rows of IV drips down both arms and groin and a big fat catheter.
See, I will do anything for attention ;o)

Turns out that I had Sepsis and went into Septic Shock.
Google it and it is really scary reading.
You can be very healthy one day, and dead the next morning!
So please, find out about it, learn all of the warning signs and act quickly.

Sepsis kills more people each year than cancer does!

The team said I had about an hour of life left in me.
The A&E doctor told Steve to bring my children to the hospital to say goodbye to me.
Mmmmm...that part makes me cry...
The thought that I would not have said goodbye to them...
Steve said, 'You don't know her, she will be up and walking around next week'.
I was. (Though it was hard).

I was moved to the ICU, I was there a few days.
It was a very odd place.
About five beds and some children's toys. 
There were a few very poorly elderly folks and a me, then a young woman (maybe late 20s) was brought in next to me.
She died.
The young doctor was distraught, she kept sneaking back to check that she was really dead.
So upsetting.
She was sitting upright propped up on pillows and looked so young and peaceful.
I hope she went somewhere nice.
Steve had walked right past her and not noticed she was dead.
Until they covered her face with plastic.
Steve asked me, 'Is she really dead?'
'Yes, she died this morning'
'But she's so young'
'Yes, she is'

December, the most wonderful time of the year!
We had been tidying up ready for our Yuletide celebrations.
That was put on hold until I came home, so our decorations are still up.
I'll take them down when I feel like it, they are a comfort to us at present.
A reminder that life could have been so very different this year.

I know that I have not been myself this past year.
Trying to motivate myself to finish things became harder and harder.
I felt drained.
I was tired all of the time without doing much really.
Naturally, I put it down to just being a lazy old sod.
Artists can find any excuse to not paint :o)
I could still draw every day because I just sit on the sofa to sketch.

Sketching ideas 

Painting and sculpting...now that is harder.
I do my 'Art' and sewing in the kitchen,  so everything has to be moved and then put back, way too much effort for lazy old me!
(Even sewing had become a tiring chore, yet I did manage to finish a special Memory Quilt.)

I  had also been hungry all of the time, stuffing my face, yet strangely getting thinner and thinner.
My children said I looked like a Wraith.
(Scrawny does not suit old women, they just look really really decrepit, like when the 'fountain of youth' goes wrong and they rapidly age then crumble to dust !).
Magic diet?
You bet!
The kind of diet where your body burns all of your fat, just to make sugar...till you drop down dead.
Magic indeed.
It appears I was a diabetic and no one had picked up on it.
Which was why my body could not cope with the bladder infection.
So, I now have type 1 diabetes.
I'm old (57) to get this, usually it arrives when you are much younger.
Guess I'm just lucky hey?  ;o)
Told you, anything for attention!

I have this little kit of things to check my blood/glucose levels.
There is a little black thingy.
I call it my Tamagotchi of blood.
No matter how much I feed it, it always wants more!

I want your blooood

And a pricker for my fingers, to draw the blood, which is fine if your hands are warm, mine never are, so I sometimes have to do it a few times.
Where is that Spinning Wheel and spindle when you need one?

Touch the spindle dearie...

Then it says if you are within the correct levels or,  'having a Hypo, or a Hyper'.
This little black thing is really judgy!

Then you are okay to inject yourself with insulin... four times a day, (yup, 4).
Before meals and at bed time.
Three in the tum and at night, in your thigh.
Fun and larks eh?
I also have to check how many carbs I'm having and not eat too much, otherwise you have to have lots of insulin.
I'm greedy, so this is no fun :o(
I like big dinners.
I don't like the effects of having loads of insulin though...dragon tum, just saying.
The diabetes nurse gave me a magazine about type 1, it was a cheery read.
If you aren't 'good' you can get all sorts of lovely complications like lower limb amputations, blindness, organ failure...see, very cheery :o)
I think I'd prefer to read 'Pretty House' mags instead!

The doctor/specialist at the hospital was a right beggar, so lovely and sarcastic.
He was small, skinny, totally bald and looked like a goblin.

Arthur Rackham must have met my doctor ;o)

He shook my hand and I said, 'Oooh your hands are freezing!!'
To which he replied, 'The heart is colder!'...:o)

He told me I had been a bit crook, (his words), which I think summed me up.
He would come to see me in the mornings.
He asked me how I felt about the needles and having to do this.
I just said ''I have no choice'.
Which I don't.

He asked me what I did for a living, I told him I'm an artist.
He said, 'That's a job is it?', then went on to talk about the artists he was reading about.
He knew quite a lot about art really, for someone who thought it wasn't a proper job.
I love sarcastic people, they are so amusing.
He was also a really good doctor.
He said the A&E doctor, (the same doctor who said I was dying), ran down the corridor to him when I arrived, to ask his advice.
Glad he did.
The A&E team saved my life.
The ICU team helped me recover.
The diabetes ward, (most folks there didn't have diabetes, it's Wales ), helped me get stronger and learn to become a diabetic.
I am eternally grateful to them all.

My doctor works a day a week on A&E and came to see me on the ward, she found me walking down the corridor and looked up at me and said, 'My god, you're strong!'
I'm not sure if I am...
I'm stubborn see.
I knew it would come in handy one day!

So, that's about it.
This is my life now.
The sepsis alone can affect you for years afterwards, it can make you sick for a long time, some folks get flashbacks or PTSD from it.
As I cannot remember anything about being in the A&E, I'm hoping that won't happen!
The type 1 diabetes is enough for me.



As it is now a new year and a new decade, I'm going to look on the bright side.
Maybe when I feel stronger I will be able to get some of my UFOs finished.
At least I have a 'real' excuse now though, so I might milk it a little he he he.
I'll post some pics when I can...you see I have this bone in my arm...

As for the 'sparkly spiders' and 'Latin inscriptions'?
I have no idea what they had given me in those drips...

I just know that when I fell unconscious at home that I had left my body and didn't come back until it was safe.
My children say that I was 'away with the faeries'.
Well, the Fae do know that I love them, so I like to think that they took care of me.
I will make something special for them when I can.

Seems the Fates didn't think it was time to cut my thread just yet...
Thank you ladies :o)

Artist, J Strudwick




Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Ivy

I saved this as a draft last year, then...reasons...
I'll write about them in the next post :o)

Ivy is a beautiful sacred plant.
Many Gods and Goddesses are honoured with it.
We have lots of old gnarled Ivy here.
Birds nest in the deep dark holes within.
Insects buzz around the fuzzy flowers.
The weird black berries disappear in the Autumn, I'm not sure who takes them all, but I know the thrushes love them.

I wanted to make a picture which shows the depths inside an old Ivy 'bush'.
It seems that the Fae wanted to join in too.
Who am I to say no?
So, here is the sketch.

Sketchbook Ivy

I liked her pose, she looked deep in thought but she wasn't quite right.
Anyway, the painting started, this is the fun bit, where you can make a mess...:o)

First, scruffy layers
Okay, I'm really not loving this, it just looks wrong.
Not how I picture the lovely old Ivy when I peer into it...or the little Fae.
I'll give her some more layers of skin.

And some leaves, and redder hair...
Mmmm...still not loving it.

Looking better, but still not right, damn...

So, now I think she would look better wearing a floaty little dress.

I really don't mind painting over her body, it is useful to have as a base.
(Yeah, right, I'm saying that because I'm annoyed with myself for not doing it sooner!)
So, after lots (& lots) more layers were added and some dew drops...taddaaa!

 'Ivy'

(Painted in Oils on canvas, size 12 x 16 inches)







Saturday, 9 February 2019

When Bert Came Down The Chimney

We have an inglenook fireplace, a very huge one.
We found it behind a modern ugly replica inglenook fireplace !?!
We had soot in our eyes and up our noses for months trying to clear the stones away and find the chimney.  But we managed it eventually and this demon of an inglenook was behind the modern thing.
It would have been a place to roast a dragon no doubt, in the days of Yore ;o)
It would have wasted so much energy to heat the house, so we installed a cast iron stove, those square ones on legs, with glass doors.
There is a reason I'm telling you this bear with me...

So, the other day my children and I heard this scratching noise coming from the stove.
The torch showed nothing inside it but you could hear something, then it went quiet.
We have lived in other old houses and have had dead jackdaws fall out of old chimneys (on top of my head!) before, but these were in big old wide chimney stacks which had never been lined..
Our chimney here has a flue liner and a cap on the top, with just enough gap for ventilation around the rim.
It is also very high.

The chimney stack

Needless to say, we thought it might be a little mouse or vole but couldn't see how it could get inside the flue pipe.
We opened the doors, holding this big net in front to catch the little critter...nothing.
So, 'The Giant Troll' aka Steve thought it would be a good idea to clean out the stove, it needed a visit from the chimney sweep as it hadn't been used in a while and there was a pile-up of soot inside the stove.
Strangely, on each side...
He wriggled the plate which is just below the pipe and tipped it sideways to get it out and...
This thing shot out, jumped on my back (I was bending over looking into the stove) and vanished.
Steve: 'What the hell was that?'
Me: 'A Jackdaw?'
I looked around the room to see where it was flapping, expecting it to be going crazy round the room, nothing.
Then I saw this weird black thing quickly crawling into the front room, up the step.
So, I rushed over and saw this totally black, long-tailed creature jump onto the mantelpiece and run along it, so fast, my eyes couldn't make out what it was.
I closed the door fast, to contain it.
Then we all heard things smashing and glass breaking, never a good sign.

My children ran in to ask what was in there.
Me: 'I'm not sure, I thought it was a Jackdaw but it has a big black, fluffy tail...like a cat...but too big, more like a black kitten?'
A black kitten?
How could it be?
Well, how were we going to catch the whatever-it-was?
We decided the front door to the house was the best bet, so stood with a big net guarding the stairs and making a pathway for it to run out.
Steve opened the door to the room and this just made it go crazy, Steve is a Giant Troll after all, the thing just went mad flinging itself all over the room!
Soot was flying everywhere, over everything and pots were falling over and smashing.
We told Steve to go outside out of the way and it might come out.
It did, it saw the open door to freedom and ran/skulked out the door and off into the front garden.

So, what do you think it was?
Yup, a jet-black fat squirrel.
It was so covered in soot you had a hard time seeing it clearly.
It disappeared over the wall and away to the fields.
And left us with the mess.
Soot prints everywhere.

I don't think it liked the radio channel!

My children were laughing because I had footprints on my back!
I also had soot on my face and in my hair.
We are still cleaning up after it, probably will be for a while, soot is evil to clean, it floats on water you see.

Even the curtain pole was covered, not to mention the curtains!


One good thing did come out of this though.
'Bert' as he will be forever known, did a great job of cleaning the chimney for us, with his big fluffy tail.
We even had a fire in there to celebrate .

These pots are covered, the small one has now lost a lid :o(


As they say in the 1960's Mary Poppins film
'Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee
A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be
Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-oo
Good luck will rub off when I shakes 'ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that's lucky too
(Which is probably why my face was black) :o)
 
And I am just not even going to try to clean my art stuff...
 
Art Prints or Foot Prints?


 
Did anyone ever think that country living was relaxing?
 
And if anyone is worried about 'Bert'...he came on the bird feeder this morning and stuffed his face with nuts.
We knew it was him because he had a big black stripe down his back and head :o)