A tale of unfortunate events

I think Lemony Snicket was on call yesterday

It’s 1.54am in the morning and I have been lying here for the past two hours unable to sleep and thought I would write about my eventful day yesterday.

I was booked in for a Hysteroscopy and arrived at the day surgery ward at 11.10am feeling fairly relaxed and ready to get it over with. The booking in clerk told me that I was last on the list and added that it was going to be a long afternoon’s wait.

Armed with 3 second hand Hello magazines and an iphone, I was directed to my designated cubicle for the duration.

And what a long day it was…

Three nurses along with a healthcare assistant ran the show absolutely rushed off their feet all day long. Different uniformed people flowed in and out of the ward but the nurses (and their voices) were the faces that became familiar throughout the day.

The first check I had was the normal blood pressure, temperature, questions etc and of course the ‘tagging’ to make sure they operate on the right person and the right bit of my body!

This nurse started her shift at 6.45am.

An hour or so later and 3 magazines done (I only like the pictures) the Anesthetist came and had a chat. Throughout the conversation and the legal warnings that have to be said, he constantly held the cheekiest smile upon his face. It seems that any given moment he could have burst out laughing which in turn made me smile and banter along with him.

I signed his consent form.

Next came the Gynecologist who wasn’t the consultant named on my admittance form and with him two trainee doctors. He was tall and slim with a wispy grey moustache wearing all beige. My friend katie and I have a long standing joke between us that whilst she chooses vibrant exciting colours, I go for, and in her very own words ‘beige dear‘ time and time again. It always makes us laugh so I figured that was a good sign.

I signed his consent form too.

It wasn’t too long after the beige man’s visit that the young trainee doctor returned with a request. He asked if it would be okay to examine me?

“What right now?”

His face coloured a little red and he replied with a;

“No! I mean when you are in the operating theatre.”

I asked him why and he explained that after the Gynecologist had completed his task, he would like to take a look too and that it would help him to learn. The young man looked around the age of 19 I’m not kidding and I proceeded to ask him what year of learning he was currently in and he replied year 4.

Anything in the form of education is a must from my belief so I agreed and signed yet another consent form.

One by one the patients on the list were taken away. It used to be that you would undress in your cubicle, put your theatre gown on and hop up on to the wheeled bed.

Oh how things have changed…

With an aching back and numb bum through all of the sitting around, my time finally came.

Yet again, more of the same questions just to treble check and then a lovey nurse led me down to the theatre by foot; porter and trolley in hot persuit behind us.

After stripping off and gowning up I was then allowed to get on to my bed and was pushed in to see the happy anesthetist.

At this point, I stop smiling and so did he – things aren’t so funny anymore!

I look away as he attempts his first cannula in my right hand;

“Sharp scratch” he says, “nothing to worry about” and then, “oh no its ruptured.”

The anesthetist has another go in my right arm and the flow of fluid is incorrect, so it has to be taken out. His third attempt is in my left hand and after much banging and squeezing and the use of a tourniquet, fails.

At this point my legs had started to shake uncontrolably and I was freezing cold.

The not so smiley anesthetist begins his fourth attempt when the theatre nurse politely reminds him that he is not allowed to try again as he fumbles at my arm suggesting it will be fine and we all need to calm down.

Protocol is three attempts and then call for a consultant anesthetist.

Another one is called and my whole body is now shaking.

I started to breathe deeply trying desperately to calm myself down because at this point I was super anxious about what was happening. My body seemed to be disconnected from my mind for a period of time as I struggled to control the shaking even though I knew that it was totally possible to get myself in to a relaxed state.

I just couldn’t calm down. My old familiar friend fear, took over…

Two more people arrived in the tiny room so that made six altogether. They were talking amoungst themselves about the problem and how they were going to manage me.

“Her veins are very weak,” was one comment, we could try…. and at that point the shaking at risen to my whole face with my teeth unable to keep up with the rythym of the rest of my body. They tried to keep me warm by laying a warm blanket over my feet.

Just my feet if I may add and it appeared heavy and uncomfortable so I asked them to remove it.

Did they forget about the rest of my body?

The Consultant Anesthetist spoke very calmly and whilst rubbing my right arm. He stated that everybody in the room needed to calm down especially me and at that it was all fine, he will get the cannula in no problem.

At this point I was ready to run.

Remember! I am a runner it’s my normal pattern of trying to escape – I couldn’t run anywhere I just had to stay and face to onset of massive fear. I prayed silently in my head yet again and hoped that someone was on call to help me and I attempted to surrender the fear over to anyone who was willing to take it from me; God, Dad even Alan.

Was anybody on call that day?

This smooth dark skinned, soft speaking anesthetist had three goes and this time in my left arm twice, with his last attempt in my left foot (the nurse told me that this one would sting a little more than the others).

Really!!! Do you think?

And what a surprise, none of the cannula’s were successful.

This man suggested that the ONLY other way of getting the cannula is was to insert it into my NECK to which I told him directly NO WAY you are not touching my neck.

At this point my vocal chords had kicked in. I told them all that I believed that everything happens for a reason and maybe the reason was that I wasn’t mean’t to have this operation at this point in time. The anesthetist replied with; “that’s a great way at looking at things,” – Oh please…

I also told them that I was freezing and that fact wasn’t helping me as my whole boy shook in front of them.

A few suggestions were made with a few other’s in disagreement and I said loudly that if they can’t do it the normal way then I was leaving and they could wheel me back to the ward.

So in comes the number 3 consultant anesthetist (not sure whether his title should have capital letter’s or not?) because at this stage I was losing the will to live… get me outta here! He brought with him another Dr, male nurse or even another ANESTHETIST – who bloody knows who the extra male person is at this point because I didn’t, he wasn’t introduced.

That makes 8 medical’s in the room now.

This man was stockier than the others and had a bald head. He said in a competent loud foreign accent; “Hello there, whats all this fuss about then?”

I politely told him that this was the last attempt (number 7) that any one of them was going to have, as they clearly can not sort the problem out and I’d had enough. He agreed with me and asked if it was okay to try just one more time?

Holding back the tears, I agreed.

The man who came in with him, held my right arm very tightly in a downward direction whilst the anesthetist put his glasses on. I gasped a sigh of relief due to the fact that he was the only one wearing glasses and told the the audience of medical staff and they all laughed.

Glad I could oblige.

He used an Ultra Scan machine to try and find an appropriate vein.

“Ahh!” he said, “a big beautiful vein” and the man who came in with him tied a tournaquet around the arm and the bald headed anesthetist pushed the cannula in with success.

You see! (literally) It was all about the glasses…

I was in that little room for about 45 minutes before they were able to sedate me and after the operation, my eyes were already in tears before I opened them in recovery.

Bless the male nurse who looked after me in the recovery room who confirmed that I’d had a rough time in there… and that it was all over now. He gave me a sip of water and a mouthful of Oramorph.

After what seemed about only ten minutes, I was wheeled back to where my day had begun and given two bits of dry toast on a plate with some butter and a knife.

Looking back now, I am sure that if they had just placed the warm blanket on my arm for a while a nice vein would have been ready for the impending cannula. When my father in-law was going through his chemo treatment the nurse always warmed his arm first because she found it difficult to get the cannula in so the warming up process served a great purpose.

I wonder if any lessons weren’t learn’t that day by the medical staff?

Maybe they all need to get there eyes tested might be one of them?

The nurse that booked me in, in the morning was the same nurse that signed me out in the evening and at that point her shift was 13.5 hours long.

©All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip 2019

Keep living until you are alive

The force that stormed through the door was untamed.

He was a mad man.

The man I loved unconditionally and yet feared unlike any other human being alive, arrived with the big black case in hand.

Remember the case?

I froze – engulfed in terror, my mother a couple of feet behind me and to be specific, she stood in the right hand corner at the back of the front room.

I was her shield.

Like it was okay?

The dog was going crazy, barking in a frenzy of confusion running in all directions. He was my father’s dog and very much loved.

The mad man – hair messed, face contorted, eyes wide with RAGE started bellowing at my mother and the only thing I remember is;

“I’m going to kill you.”

and he hurled the big black hard sided case with such force, across the room at Her and as she threw herself out of the way, her screams of begging and pleading went un-noticed by any person outside.

It was a near miss.

Smashing against the wall.

The dreadful volume of noise – shouting – screaming – crying – barking – it was utter chaos.

I can still hear the hysterical cries from her and the fury filled shouting from him – I began pleading with him, begging him to stop, telling him I was scared, using his love for me to try and persuade him to calm down;

“If you love me Dad then please, please stop!”

I was in my very own nightmare and needed help. I couldn’t get him to stop and physically I didn’t have the strength to hold on for much longer. The situation escalated as he kicked the dog out the way and started to push me back and walk in her direction so I threw my arms around him, hugging him, telling him I loved him, sobbing; my feet slipping on the carpet as I pushed back as much as I could.

I tried I really tried hard; I pushed back

and prayed frantically, with speed, in my head to a God that I believed was there.

He was there, wasn’t he?

Then something changed – slowly, he began to calm down and as I held on to him for dear life, he demanded to know where his drugs were. My mother told him as he prized my arms from around him and walked out of the room.

I prayed every day as a child.

For my father –

What is this love
this powerful force
This energy of love
Can strip the volatile naked
to reveal a truth
not often seen
Rage can hide behind love
and fear behind the rage
Fear is the truth
that rage will not speak
Love is the gentle dance
to heal a broken heart

©All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Or else!

My daughter was invited last minute, to a sleepover last night.

Driving home after drop off, I could feel the anxiety slowly building inside. Just the thought of staying on my own in the house all night long was enough to set an old, out of date, pattern off – Full swing.

I pulled the blinds and shut the curtains in the whole house; the evening was still so bright.

I shut the doors to the bedrooms, dining room and kitchen leaving a space that felt enclosed and safe.

I live in a bungalow.

I turned the light’s on in the hallway, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, lounge and my bedroom.

They remained on all night.

Unable to open the windows for air, the heat from the summer evening was unbearable so I stripped off naked and stayed that way until 2.55 am having watched 6 parts of “Thirteen Reasons Why.”

Sleep was not an option until I could no longer keep my eyes open.

When I was a child I can remember going through a stage of being very frightened to go to sleep in the dark. My father was strict and there was a ‘no nonsense rule at bedtime “or else!” – after saying our prayers I would wrap myself up in my thick yellow eiderdown, leaving a tiny whole to breathe.

Then I would pray some more.

Dear Lord

please forgive me for the sins that I have committed
please keep
Mummy Daddy Paul and Ashley safe
don't let anything happen to them
please take this itching down below away
thank you

Amen


I had the most horrendous internal irritation when I was small. It seems like I endured it for a very long time. I tried with every effort to describe it to my Mother and the Doctor and being so little, neither seemed to understand it or me.

That prayer was recited for many years, well into adulthood. I literally could not; not say it, just incase!

My Mother worked at a local factory five nights a week for 10 years.

I was 3 years old when she started.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Run Run – as fast as you can

the thing you are most afraid 
to write

write that

- advice to young writers

My mother and I were sat watching the televison when there was a loud hammering on the door.

As a small child, Saturday was my favourite day of the week . After doing the weekly shop, we would go to Woolworths and buy a big bag of sweets to devour whilst watching tv. I can remember so clearly, standing on tip toes to reach up to the carousel of pick a mix, foraging for the toffees with the curly white centre’s and throwing back the ones that didn’t fit the necessary criteria.

How funny…

Mum was oblivious to the fact that I was stealing and I would pop them in my pocket for later. Lord only knows (a term she often used) what my father would have done if he had caught me stealing!

Years later, Saturday’s were no longer my favourite days.

The hammering came from our neighbour who so graciously accepted the role of emergency contact. She relayed an urgent message from the hospital.

And boy!! Was it an emergency?(well for us it was.)

The nurse on duty had called to warn my mother that my father had discharged himself and was on his way home and said that he was in an highly agitated state.

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) teaches us about states.

The drugs had created a ‘come down’ reaction and his addiction was pushing his body for more.

There was more at home…

He walked the nearby streets in his dressing gown and slippers, carrying a large old black rectangle suitcase-the kind where if you pushed the side in causing a slight dent, then the dent could easily be pushed back out from the inside. I’m not quite sure the relevance of writing that part-maybe the case with a story attached, may have found its way into someone’s vintage collection by now.

I remember his dressing gown, burgundy and grey checked with a tassled ended belt and I wonder now, what passers by would have possibly thought?

We were absolutely terrified, waiting for the grenade to go off and feeling paralysed, unable to run.

UNABLE TO RUN… I’ve always been a runner!

The fear was so intense that there isn’t a word in my vocabulary to describe what I was feeling.

My mother hid his drugs and we waited.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Truth

“If you don’t transform your suffering, I will always say, with 100 percent certitude, you will transmit your suffering to your family, your neighbours, even to your country” – Father Richard Rohr

He suffered…

We suffered…

My children have suffered…

Its a long chain reaction that is passed on down through the generations until the pattern is broken. Will my children pass on to their children the pain that they may have learn’t to carry from me? At times I wish for silence in my thinking this way, as an abundance of knowledge has lead to punishing thoughts/feelings and I really can’t deny my truth in all of this. I have created suffering too.

Growing up in such an aggressive, volatile environment gives way to certain learn’t behaviours that often show up in my life. Different parts of me are still angry, frustrated, sad… I struggle to accept these parts and also know and understand that lack of acceptance of the self creates even more of an unbalanced life.

The truth is I can change as we all can, choice exists for you and for me. So with knowing that… what stops us changing?

Returning to a place that is so uncomfortable… is comfortable. Its a place that we know, a place to reconnect with ourselves, a safe place, uncomfortably safe. It can be painful, yet in the midst of that pain, a deeper sense of knowing our truth, can reveal itself if we allow it. It is when that line is crossed and the need to control takes over that more suffering can occur.

I have crossed this line many times and the truth is, I have inflicted my own overwhelming pain on to my beautiful babies.

I have tried to control just as my parents tried to control me.

My children have rebelled against my inability to let go of the repetetive patterns that I so brutally learn’t and have stood up for their rights to be independent of my wrath. They, as their own people truly deserve better from me as their teacher, confidente, Mother.

What I know for sure as Oprah would say –

I would give my life in exchange to save a child of mine.

The Love for my children is insurmountable, they are my absolute everything.

I am honoured and so very grateful to have been given the chance to share in their journey in this life as their Mother.

I am sorry for the pain that I have inflicted and… I am still learning.

This was my victory and my battle. All my demons, all my monsters that I’d been carrying around forever, the light came through and I realised; Oh, your not demons. They’re not monsters. They’re not dragons. I’ve been making them more grandiose than they are. They’re just the orphaned parts of me. They’re just the fearful-est, most terrified parts of me. They are scared to death. And they are throwing temper tantrums because of their fear. And now I have to tell them that it’s going to be okay. And they will all go to sleep. I am the mother of all of these parts of me. At one point I remember in my ascending above them all and saying,

I love you, fear and now go to sleep. I love you anger, you’re part of me. Go to sleep. you’re safe. I love you. I’m not leaving you. You’re part of me, you’re part of the family. You’re never going to be away from me. I love you failure. Come into my heart. Rest. You’re so tired. You’re so scared. You’re just children. You don’t know how the world works. I love you all. I have space for all of you. And together, we’re going to go forward now. – Elizabeth Gilbert

The door is open.

Its raining.

I am the rain.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip 2019

The Beginning of The End

It was Friday the 15th of October 1981. My Father had attended his hospital appointment for a Myelogram; a diagnostic imaging test to look for any problems in the spinal cord, nerve roots and other tissues. A coloured dye is injected into the spinal column before the procedure and then an xray is taken which enables the radiologist to see more clearly, if there is any damage. When the dye is injected directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which also surrounds the brain, there can be side effects – risk of a seizure, severe headaches, risk of infection, short term numbness in the legs and a risk of bleeding in the spinal colum.

In the 37 years since his death, I have never researched what a Myelogram is, only now in order to write this.

I just remember the coloured dye bit of the story and the violent aggression.

The local Community Centre held a kids disco every Friday evening and it was a great place to hang out. My Father used to drop me off and pick me up every week, much to the amusement of my friends who were allowed to walk home. He was very strict and often told me that I may be taken away by a stranger, if he didn’t keep me safe.

This Friday felt different…

My father was subdued to begin with after his treatment and I remember him complaining of a headache that was getting worse. I can picture him now, standing in the hallway by the front door. He gave me £1.50 for the disco, put his arms around me and squeezed me tight, told me he loved me and let me walk with my friends.

I can still feel the intense feeling of worry just by thinking about that evening.

The disco came and went and the entire time I was there, the anxiety was growing within me; what I would find on my return home?

He was in bed having taken as many drugs as he could take without killing himself, just to relieve the pain and was in and out of a drugged up state. I sat next to him, feeling so heavy, strained and tired. Why couldn’t he be normal like my friend’s Dad’s. I HATED him being like this, it scared me… The smell of Old Holborn soaked the atmosphere and I swear he could have burnt the house down on many occasion, leaving his rolled up cigarettes smoldering in the ashtray. His wedding ring was on his bedside table and I picked it up and held it in front of him. In a slow and slurred manner he said;

“Your Mother doesn’t love me anymore, you have it – take it!”

Closing his eyes, my father passed out and was snoring in seconds.

That was the beginning of the end.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Remembering when…

I have this vivid memory of me dressed as a pirate standing outside of my parents house just in front of the cast iron black gate. Covering my head is a bright red bandana and I am wearing a little black waistcoat, black trousers tucked into my long white socks and little black school shoes. I think that I was about the age of 6 or 7 years old and it was the day of the local village carnival.

I started dancing lessons at the age of 4. In between working three jobs at once, my mother made all of the outfits for my ballet shows. She spent hours lovingly hand sewing the little costumes and I still have three of them to this day; a blue Angel costume, a little Dutch girls outfit and a pink tutu. Over the years both of my girls have worn them when playing dressing up and as I think about it now, I’m not sure if I have ever told her how grateful I am for all of the time that she spent making things for me as a child. Dollies clothes, knitted blankets and cardigans, a soft clown with orange hair, cotton sewn purses and a bib and brace dungeree outfit all made by hand.

My mother always worked extemely hard and somehow I feel like I missed out on having her as a wholesome, healthy mum for the majority of my younger days. She lived under a cloud of my fathers depression and illness which prevented her from following her own dreams and passions. As he never worked in the latter years, my mother had to work even harder to make sure she could provide for us all. I wonder how he felt about this and what it did for his own self worth, esteem and beliefs about himself as a man, husband and father? I remember her being so exhausted at times and no matter what was thrown at her, she would soldier on, mustering up the strength, managing, coping, surviving. I think that’s a trait of hers that I’ve learn’t from a very young age; you just have to keep going no matter what… When I look back now it must have been unbearable at times for her living in such an emotionally draining situation. If ever we talk about the past now, she always states quite clearly that leaving my father was never an option and that you made your bed and you lied in it.

My eldest brother refuses to accept the fact that our mother choosing to stay was the right thing to do. He believes that she had a choice and by her staying in such a volatile relationship, my brother suffered the most horrendous abuse and in his words now;

“Because of the old man, my life is fucked.”

I don’t know if she was ever truly happy within her marriage or her life in general and wonder if she just stayed out of fear because she too was terrified of her husband.

My father threatend suicide several times and my mother picked up the pieces of his desperation time and time again.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip 2019