It feels so long ago that I wrote a blog post; it has been a rollercoaster few months. When I look back, it feels like all the days are blurred into one another. I have started working more regularly again which comes with its own set of pros and cons, my wife turned thirty, and this also had its own set of pros and cons, and of course the most important date of the year… fathers’ day. So, let the anticipation cease and let’s get you all caught up to the wonderful life of me.
I’m once again a working man… sort of
If anyone can remember last July, I started working at BMW with my brother again. He had put up the bat symbol, my red light up phone was ringing (for those of you who remember the Adam West Batman) and I put my pants on over my trousers, attached my cape and raced down to save the day. I did work there years ago when Laura was pregnant with Brooke-Haze and left when she was pregnant with Ember, but this time I am only cover for holiday, sickness etc. It suited me and my current situation, I was able to help a little and the feeling of being useful goes a long way for mental health / self-esteem. It also meant I was earning my own money once again. Don’t get me wrong, I have no hang ups with Laura being the breadwinner; if anything, it makes me prouder of Laura. She is a perfect example to our little ladies of how strong and powerful a woman can be. They can be managers if they want, they can be stay at home mums if they want, they can be astronauts, zookeepers, bean scanners, painters, builders, entrepreneurs or anything they want to be if it makes them happy. Up until I stopped working a few years ago, I had worked full time consistently since I was seventeen years old, earning my own money and supporting myself. I never felt comfortable when spending money when it was my own, let alone when it is someone else’s hard earned cash. Every time I purchased something for myself, I would feel a little guilty and that would turn into feelings of anxiousness and regret. Laura would be reassuring and tell me it was fine because it was, but it was a hang up I had to get over and contributing to the household helps. It also helps with the feeling of being useful. I know no job will be more important or rewarding than being a father but after being out of work for eighteen months I did miss adult interaction; although I am not sure the conversations with Dec can be classed as adult… Bisness!!! Actually, I feel Dec isn’t appreciated by certain management enough because of his age, which is something I relate to and I have a lot of time for Dec.
However, it has gone from doing a day or week here and there and sometimes going weeks or months without working, to now doing a minimum of three days a week. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling the strain. My body hurts more at the end of the day, my legs and arms feel heavier and overall I just feel more exhausted. On the plus side, it has helped with my sleep (most nights) but I am going to sleep feeling like my body is melting away and shutting down which isn’t nice. In an attempt to see the blessing in every struggle, it has shone a light on something I would rather know now in this situation rather than with another employer; I think my full-time working days are over.
The day that is not even half as respected, advertised or talked about as its counterpart… FATHERS DAY!!! It does bug me a little how Mother’s Day and Mother’s in general are always perceived and depicted in media as being some sort of superior beings compared to the Fathers, I smell bullshit. I love Father’s Day nowadays, the kids usually make me something, a card or a picture and I love it. Those pictures and cards not only record their growth year upon year but they also remind me that I have the best role in the world to the world’s most amazing girlies. I put anything like that straight up on my motivational wall which I see when I wake up every morning. What better way to start the day than that? Thank you, I love you little angels so so much. I always feel like I am cheating when I am given gifts for doing something that I feel is such a privilege in itself.
Another reason why I like Father’s Day now is because it no longer has a strange aura surrounding it for me. My Dad passed away twelve years ago in Bulgaria; I was only twenty-one. I would describe our relationship as turbulent if I was being polite and completely fucked up if I’m not. My Dad, for longer than I know, struggled with alcohol addiction. A few years after my Mum left us, he remarried a woman named Sue. She was also an alcoholic and their relationship became toxic. This put a strain on his relationships with me and my two brothers. He would sometimes get violent and I was kicked out more times than I can remember. But it was the emotional torment that was the hardest for me and I carried that around for many years, even after he passed away, in fact more so after he passed away. I would always make jokes about days like Father’s Day, something about saving money (just like I did on Mother’s Day). This was one, a defence mechanism and two, to ease those around who might have felt a little uneasy (you’re welcome). As I have grown older and matured, especially after becoming a father myself, I have let go of the issues, anger or hatred I had stored up inside. People aren’t lying when they say how freeing it is when we let go of these weights we carry around with us. Even with this newfound freedom, I still would not speak much about him, especially to my girls. Brook-Haze asked me the other day when his birthday was, I told her and she replied “can we do something for it?” I said “of course baby”. Her curiosity forced me to think about him and I tried to remember a happy memory of my Father. I searched my brain fogged, crazy brain and remembered something. After my mum left she would occasionally come back on the train to see us for the day. These days were heart breaking. The pain was excruciating because we would either be waving bye after a few short hours; or we would be stood eagerly watching all the passengers get off the train, anxiously waiting for one of those passengers to be Mum, only to then watch the train leave again because she didn’t show. I would break down in tears, but who was there to hold me as I cried these endless tears? My Dad. That one memory is precious to me. I hold it close, not because of the pain I felt, but because it is one of the few times I felt loved and safe with my Dad. In light of this memory, happy Father’s Day Dad, thank you for being there to hold my hand.
All Aboard the Train to 30’sVille, CHOO CHOO!!!
That’s right; my wonderful wife has left the twenties and has joined me in the thirties. I wanted to make this birthday a special birthday for Laura because she really deserves it. The problem was that she has almost zero interests (besides an awful taste in TV shows, I mean she doesn’t really care about Stranger Things!). This made gift selection very, very difficult. I wanted something meaningful and at the same time amazing; but she already has me, so it left options very, very limited. Then I thought of a plan, I would get Laura some beautiful jewellery to represent our love as her wedding rings no longer fit (Embers fault), it fits both categories, meaningful and amazing.
Jewellery Heist…Sort of
I told my auntie my plan to get some high-end expensive jewellery for Laura. She advised me that she knew a jeweller that could possibly re-size them. I told her we had already tried a jeweller, and because her rings have diamonds in the band as well (I am a baller what can I say) it couldn’t be done. She assured me her jeweller was better. So I let her take the rings in just to prove her wrong, and continued with my original plan and put a deposit down on a new ring. The next week my auntie tells me the jeweller can resize them, FUCK!! Now I had to make a decision whether to buy the new ring or get the rings resized. I really hate making decisions, but I went with getting the rings resized. This meant I had to try and get my deposit back. Not only was I proved wrong, but was also a deposit out of pocket. I rang them with a sorrowful tone and told the very helpful supervisor “my circumstances have suddenly changed and I no longer have a reason to buy this piece of jewellery”. The kind lady said I could have my deposit back once the item arrived in store, YES!!! I got the notification it had arrived in store, so me and Ember headed into town. I was feeling the nerves of going in; technically I hadn’t lied to the lady, my circumstances had changed and I was sad about the possibility of losing money. I had worries of “what if Ember says something that drops me in it?” or “what if when I look at the lady my eyes give it away?” I went in with the plan to look down and talk fake happy style, like I am trying to be friendly whilst hurting and took my wedding ring off. The lady refunded my card and as I went to leave she grabbed my hand and said “keep your chin up and get that smile back” I did what she told me to do, I went to Costa, put my ring back on, got Ems a hot chocolate and me a cup of tea and a lemon muffin. The muffin was so good I got my smile was back.
Craig approached me asking if I had anything planned for Laura’s birthday. I felt forced to come up with something amazing for Laura, because she does deserve it and also because I knew what Craig and his family expected; or at least I believed I did. I assumed they thought I should hire a hall and a booze up sort of party. However, I knew Laura wanted the girls to be part of whatever I was planning, and a party in the evening wouldn’t be something the girls could really attend. So, I panicked and said “of course I do”. I quickly thought we could hire a professional BBQ company to come and do the food for an afternoon party, that way all the kids could attend as well as the rest of the family. Craig asked all his family, including the ones from London what dates would be best for them; the Lincoln lot replied with a yes and available dates; with all the London lot saying no. I will no longer feel guilty or forced to travel there to see a bunch of people who do not make the same effort for us. So, we had an idea, we had dates, we had the guest list and time to get quotes. The quotes came back with fucking ridiculous prices. Kat, Craig’s wife had the idea of getting Dominos or subway or a mix of food which was a good idea. With more discussions going on; which each time left me frustrated and drained of energy, we all finally agreed to do a surprise party at my house, with takeaway food; well that is what I thought. Then, during another discussion about decorations etc. the BBQ idea was dropped in. I am not a confident person cooking for others let alone a BBQ. They assured me Craig’s’ dad would do all the cooking so I agreed.
Laura had mentioned one thing she wished she could do for her birthday, which was to go for a spa day with her friend Sam. The problem is she lives in London town and we live in Lincolnshire; not exactly next door. After mentioning this to Craig, he got in touch with Sam. Of course, being Laura’s best friend, she refused… only joking. Sam was excited for the idea. I originally thought of this to be a gift from me, but at the time I was in the middle of the jewellery saga and Craig was stuck for a special idea so I said this could be from him. Then the jewellery thing fell through and with all the problems, misinterpretations and the tension this caused, I wished I had kept it.
Craig and Kat had presented Laura with the voucher for the spa day, with the notion I was going with her. I put in an Oscar winning performance on the day, annoying Laura with all my anxious worries about my body etc. (like I would be doing if I was going). We arrived at the lovely location and went inside. The plan was to get there, and Sam be there waiting. When we got inside, I couldn’t see Sam and panicked a little. I pretended Craig was ringing me and went outside to check to see if she was in the car and then I turned around and she is stood with Sam with a smile on her face and a tear in her eye. That made it worth all the drama.
Whilst Laura was getting pampered and felt up by a masseuse, I was at home sweating my perfect ass off sticking up hundreds of photos of Laura’s life around the downstairs of the house. Dave (Sam’s fella) was helping with the decorations, well, sort of helping. Although he did do something I was truly appreciative of; he discarded some cat poop from the garden before people arrived, thanks Dave. Kat was a major help at the party, she cooked and prepped all the food, she also made these delightful little pizza bites, possibly meant for the children, but my belly was the happy receiver of at least a handful of these bad boys. Craig went to go to the shop with his Dad and his son to get more supplies and forgot to take his son; well done Craig. Even though planning this party was the most stressful, draining, annoying and frustrating thing I have done in a long, long time, maybe ever, the day was amazing and I hope it made Laura feel loved.
MS and Me
This is a blog about my life with MS, so I owe you guys an update on how it has been treating me these past few months. It is funny because even though I want to be as honest as I can with it (which is difficult to do), I automatically started typing “I am okay overall” which isn’t a lie, but it is also isn’t true. I always want to sugar-coat it as I never want to come across as the moaning, whiny guy. This is something a lot of us will do I am sure. But why do we help those asking the question “how are you?” Most people will not give a shit, let alone give a second to try to be empathetic, yet we help them out of the awkwardness of the truth and lie or twist the truth to be more manageable for their pea sized intellect. Well, for those of you who do truly care and want to know how I have been, thank you for your thoughts, they are and always will be appreciated.
I have had a few trips and falls, which are never fun for the body or mind. I was thinking the other day after I got out the shower, “wow, I have a lot of bruises, but why?” Then I realised I am so used to being off balance that I just accept and absorb all the times I bounce off the corner of the walls or the door frames. This is something I am now working on. I have been to see a Neurological Physiotherapist a few times. We had stern words over the phone because I was too exhausted to make it once and another time, I had the school run because Laura had to work late, and she didn’t like the fact I had to cancel twice. I saw her perspective; I am not a moron, but she had no time or compassion to see it from mine. Anyway, it hasn’t exactly been a great experience, but I have tried to put my personal feelings aside. It is hard to talk about your personal physical struggles which can cause insecurities, to a person who you do not feel comfortable with nor cares about your wellbeing.
Also, there has been another thing going on; it is the thing I was not ready to talk about publicly on my last post. I have noticed a change in my number one trips to the toilet. It is difficult to write and admit to having changes in this department, mainly due to pride and the male bravado, but the subject of toilet trips always seems to be an embarrassing one. But this blog isn’t just about the celebrations; it is a real account of my journey with MS. I seem to have to go more frequently recently, especially at night-time. I am not drinking more or doing anything different, I notice it more when I am tired or drained of energy. I will go to the toilet then I feel I need to go again straight after. Then I go to the toilet, but nothing happens, or it’s a trickle and takes ages. When it gets like that, I have the choice of either staying awake and making endless trips to the toilet or going to sleep in the hope I do not wet the bed; clearly a win win situation for me. On nights where I don’t feel so drained or am up half the night it doesn’t happen so bad which is a bit strange. When I go for my first wee of the day, there have been times when it didn’t always feel like I had fully emptied my bladder. I then get the girls up and ready for school etc. get myself ready for work and go to do the school run. Once I have dropped Brooke-Haze off, more often than not, I desperately need to go again. This means I have to stop off at home before I go to work, then push my concerns to the back of my mind and get on with the day.
The pains in my right side are still there and my energy levels fluctuate like waves in the ocean. One minute I feel like Mo Farrah, the next I am feeling like Simon Pegg in Run Fatboy Run. I am currently waiting on blood tests to see if I am anaemic. Once I have my results, I will book an appointment to see my neurologist, the delightful Dr Alex and talk to him about these new symptoms. I try not to think about the future too much because a person like me can easily get caught up in it, but some days I feel like throwing in the towel with all these MS symptoms; the pain, the fatigue, the vertigo, the forgetfulness, plus other ailments such as knee pains, migraines, digestive troubles, it is easy to think why the fuck bother! But then I look at myself through my kids’ eyes, I remember how I looked at my Father; weak, broken, defeated and tell myself “that will not be me”. It is like the scene in the film Rocky Balboa (the one with the inspiring speech to his son), he is in the ring and gets knocked down by the champ, and then the scene cuts to the voice in his head and says something along the lines of “what did you say to the kid? It’s not how hard you hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”. I find this scene to be more inspiring than the speech because we can all talk a good game and preach to others some bullshit philosophy like “stay positive”, but it is a whole other perspective when we must do it ourselves. I personally do not like the phrase “stay positive” because I feel suppressing feelings like anger or frustration is dangerous. It is natural to feel emotions such as anger; it is how you process them where people can go wrong. I have been there myself. I tell myself stay resilient, show courage and be appreciative for what you have got. Google’s definition of resilient is “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult condition”, that’s me. Being courageous isn’t about not struggling or being scared; it is moving forward despite being afraid. And what better way to lift your mood than to look at what you have got. I think these are better qualities to show than pretending everything is fine, okay, dandy etc.
I have been feeling proud of myself lately. I am pleased with who I am as a person and have been making more of a conscious effort with the important people around me. I have been rebuilding my friendship with Lawrence; that is an important friendship to me and one I regret hurting. But we have big plans to build an arcade machine together (hopefully in time for Christmas). I have been making more effort to make Jennie stop working so hard and to have more catch-ups. She is one hard worker; I don’t think I know a busier person than Jennie. I have also been ringing my good friend Anthony every week on my day off. We speak for hours like two teenage girls gossiping on the phone. He is a delivery driver, so he has me on his Bluetooth, and anyone that knows me, knows I always have my headphones on, so he works and I clean or tidy etc. whilst nattering away. It has been a good way to keep up to date with each other; he is my brother from another, once fitter, Mother and I love him like one. He came around the other night to see me and we had such a laugh, I haven’t laughed that hard in such a long time. It is important that no matter what, you still find a way to laugh. Last but no means least my brother Mark is going through his own health battles recently. I won’t divulge any more than that as it is not my place to, but I hope he knows how important he is to me and the family, we love him and we are here for him. Never stop fighting and pushing forward everyone, we are too strong, too resilient and too courageous to be stopped.