I’ve found myself being rather quiet recently. Conversation isn’t coming easily as I don’t much feel like being flippant. But in life, things have a way of catching you out don’t they? After the shock of last week I’d placed an advert on a degu site asking for a home for the three degu girls. I realised that it would be impossible for Julia to cope when I brought her home. As I’m quite allergic to them ( and the rats) there’s not much I could do either when it came to cleaning. But lets face it, I’m a man and never realise when things need cleaning anyway. I’d also added to the advert that I had the rats too and if anyone was interested………. All I’d specified was that I wanted someone fairly local so that we could keep an eye if needed and they didn’t have far to travel.
Unexpectedly I got an immediate answer and had messaged the young man who replied. Julia had been home a few hours when I mentioned the degus would have to go, I was pleased when she agreed (reluctantly) which was just as well because he arrived. Within half an hour the degus had gone and I was sure it was to a good home. While he was here he saw the girls and said ” About your mention of the rats in the advert. I’d like them too.” I saw Ju’s face change and begin to crumple. As I went through to my room to get something she followed and tearfully asked that the girls not go just yet. What could I do? But, as luck would have it, he’d come in a car and the girl’s cage is quite a good size and would not slide into the car upright. I couldn’t let him take the cage on it’s back as the girls would be standing on wire rather than their solid base. After explaining that Ju was reluctant to say goodbye to them just yet I pointed out that they’d be safe and still here for him later. He left with that promise.
Since then, Ju has risen every morning without fuss to play with them before they go to bed. As she’s usually the one to open the cage while I make her a cuppa, the routine goes like this.
Priya will run straight for Ju’s dressing gown sleeve.
Bernie will go straight for the opening at the neck and wander down to her waist. Sometimes Ju sits down on the settee then until they emerge again. Then it’s up to the cage.
Penny will climb out onto the top of the cage and then onto Ju’s shoulder while Amy will tuck herself into one of the tubes they sleep in and wait to be lifted out. I will deliver Ju’s cuppa and then go back to take my meds. That done I have to pour myself a bowl of cereal because of the diabetes ( at least that’s the excuse) and go sit on the settee. Bernie will have been sitting on the arm in anticipation of my arrival. I have to give them each a shreddie on my spoon and they run off to hide and eat them. I daren’t take a mouthful yet as it’s not long before they return. Bernie first for her second one which suffices followed by Amy, Priya and Penny in quick succession and only after they’ve taken their third one can I carry on.
Ju uses this interval to take her tablets and a drop of her tea. My part in the performance is usually over in five minutes and it’s play time for a while with them raiding pockets for tissues to play tug of war with or running in and out of dressing gowns. There’s a blanket over the back of the settee and they love crawling under it. Eventually I’m off duty and Ju takes over again as the drinks lady.
There are some very distinctive styles of drinking. Penny will always cup the liquid in her hand and bring it to her mouth like a gentile lady. Bernie’s quite happy just to stick her nose straight in. Priya on the other hand tries both as if she’s unsure what she should do. Amy is always on guard so she’ll pass it from hand to mouth too. Then usually she’s straight up on her back legs to check for danger in the air. maybe she expects the Red Baron to appear.
Half an hour is about as much as Ju can take of playtime now but I’m so pleased she still shows the same interest. The biggest surprise for me is her determination to maintain the riding. So, on Wednesday afternoon we’re off to see if she can actually cope. We can only attend the RDA stables as they’ve got a mechanical hoist to get riders to horse level. Great news on the charity front though as our friends at a local cafe have a giant teddy bear they’re going to raffle off for Pennant Park Wishes and we’ve just heard that planning permission has been granted and building is about to start. All those that have donated to the Riding for the Disabled Charity at Pennant Park have my undying thanks. I’ll let you all know how Wednesday goes.
Here's Priya with a cup of tea.
For the not too squeamish, here's Penny battling for her breakfast. or rather mine.
It’s been a funny old day. First thing this morning a friend took me shopping and it went well. I got what I wanted, she spoke to the staff for me and I paid. We came home and she left after which I expected a very relaxing day. If I ever find out who jinxed me heaven help them.
A knock at the door this afternoon. Normally I’d be on the computer and able to hide away and ignore the sound. Today I was just passing the door which has a half glazed panel. I had to open the door to a 6’4″ skinny giant. Thankfully I didn’t have to speak as he introduced himself as the council electrician come to repair a pull light and an electrical socket. He was a nice man and after being pointed towards the bathroom went to get his tools and proceeded to fix a new string to the light. I spoke long enough to enquire if he needed a ladder only for him to laugh and just reach up. It was only moments before the job was done. On to the next job.
Passing through he saw the cages and asked how many rats I have. “Four” I answered “and three degus”. “Three what?” he asked but was such a helpful man I didn’t have to speak as he answered his own question “Oh, these delightful little chaps” he said. Please bear that in mind.
The second job was a socket in the kitchen. The story starts about two months ago when Ju asked me if our fridge had a light. I told her of course it did and she said in that case the fridge is defrosting. Such sarcasm and it beat me saying that we were due anyway. So, I checked out the plug and put in a new fuse and tried again. No joy.
With food defrosting and panic setting in I decided the fridge must be defunct. Off we went and spent a pleasant £83 on a new one. We get it home and know it has to stand in place for five hours so I manhandle the old one outside and Ju rings for it to be collected as rubbish. My old friend complete with midge fragnets looks quite forlorn outside the front door.
Five hours later Ju plugs in the new fridge and asks me if there’s meant to be a light. Aargh. I try it in a different socket and lo’ it comes on. Getting an extension cable I push the fridge into it’s new home. Now I have two working fridges one which is due to be scrapped and it’s cost me a fortune to find out I have a faulty socket. So, the nice man comes to mend it. ” You do know about the defrost switch we put in for fridges don’t you?” he asked. I shook my head dimly. Moving aside some trays he points to what I always thought was an immersion heater switch. He presses it and the socket becomes operational again. Just putting a tray back must have knocked it off. All the time he was here I heard about his two dogs, 5 cats, wife, children and their appetites which he’d swap for a cage of rats. I thanked him with some sweets for his children.
That’s it. I’m officially out to the world now while I finish my mail. That done I return to the kitchen and realise the fish tank is dark because I forgot to turn it on this morning,. A rush of apologies there and a little food and I’m forgiven.Going back through I realise I need to give the girls clean water and some food. Bernie and Priya are first for a treat but Amy and Peny aren’t far behind. With Amy I have to be quick as she snatches and doesn’t mind a bit of finger. Odd, as when she’s out she’s nervy but a perfect lady. There, everything OK in their world. Degu’s next. All three Saffy, Poppy and the one I can never remember, came flying towards the door as I brought food. They’re gregarious animals, very bright and like humans but very quick. I opened the door and inserted my hand to drop the food. As I did Saffy squeezed past and made a break for it. I dropped the food and shut the door again sharpish to keep the others in.
I sat down with a ball and a peanut and called Saffy. She’s so scared of me she strolled over and sat on my knee. Like a flash she had the peanut from my hands before I could drop it in the ball and make her go after it. I got some yoghurt drops and popped them inside the open ball while she watched me. Then, as calmly as you like she climbed down the side of the settee and disappeared into the kitchen. I spent almost an hour polishing the kitchen floor with my trouser knees but although she was happy to come to me when I called her name she was not going in the ball. Eventually I gave up and went back through to sit on the settee with another peanut in hand. I called her and like an angel she answered me. In the ball went the peanut and in the ball went Saffy. I picked the ball up and carried it to the cage. Dalmation ! I couldn’t open the door one handed. She thought I had it open and jumped ready to be a good girl and go in. Instead she hit the closed door and hopped it again.
I had to loosen the door enough to be able to open it one handed but not enough for her daughters to escape. Fifteen minutes later Saffy followed a yoghurt drop into the ball and I was able to get the cage open and her in. As I did, the one I can’t remember jumped straight into the ball expecting to be allowed to go for a roll round. I’m sure she was disappointed when she was manhandled straight back into the cage. I’d had enough degu chasing for one day and I’d missed my Big Bang Theory. So much for a peaceful day.
It’s been a frustrating week. ( Behave yourselves, I’m not talking about THAT). On Tuesday Julia finally had the scan to ascertain whether the distended stomach was due to fluid and if so, whether it could be drained. Well we found out it is fluid which ruled out my phantom pregnancy theory from dreaming about Tom Selleck. For some strange reason there’s more fluid on the right than the left and more at the bottom than the top though I would have thought gravity was responsible for the last bit. As it was fairly late on Tuesday we decided to wait until Wednesday evening for the Oncologist (Dr.Hotlips) to see the scan results and the MacMillan Nurse to get the same information so she could arrange for the fastest doctor to perform the drain in order to relieve the pain. Wednesday evening came and went and I began to see that we were treating this as far more urgent than they were.
On Thursday we rang and left a message for the Nurse. We couldn’t get any answer from the Oncology department. Still no ring back by Thursday evening. Today we went out early to do the weekly shop before anyone else gets up. I have to sneak Julia out of the house so the girls can’t see her as it’s the one day she doesn’t get them out to play first thing. She suffers a terrible conscience and fears being seen as she’ll have no choice but to go back and play with them. Huh, I don’t think so ! We meet our daughter at the supermarket and she goes round with me while my other keeper sits with a coffee in the McDonalds. Shopping done I’m allowed a coffee and a bacon roll ( diabetic approved of course) before heading for home.
Waiting at home was an appointment card for next Tuesday 19th at 4 o’clock to see Dr McHottie. It gives us no information at all. I confess that I’m getting very wound up at this point and the slightest remark could have me screwing myself into the ground. We unpack the shopping and I suggest Ju speaks to the hospital to see if she can clarify if this is a speaking appointment or an all action appointment that might require a nightie ( tut tut, for an overnight stay on the ward of course). We can’t speak to the Doctor and the receptionist is vague- it’s usually just a consultation unless otherwise notified is her response. In frustration and because my lip is lacerated from biting it, we leave another message for the MacMillan Nurse.
We enjoyed lunch, or to put it another way, Ju and I couldn’t eat but Yvonne enjoyed hers – that’s another story. Then mid afternoon Yvonne has to depart for home and a further shopping expedition with her husband. Ugo of the non-stop stomach who is currently suffering badly having given up chocolate for Lent. That’s like taking milk from a baby or a yoghurt drop from one of our rats. The phone rang after she’d gone and it was finally the Scarlet Pimpernel Nurse. Finally we get some sense but all of a sudden I don’t want to hear. I want to go out and howl at the moon, I want to curse and swear. Yes, the likelihood ( not definite??) is that the draining will be performed on Tuesday. BUT, while there is a fluid problem, it’s not great enough to be causing the pain. That’s much more likely to be something pressing on the bowels which would also account for Julia not going to the loo very often or easily these days. Something we reported months ago and were given laxatives for and then something to clear up any excess looseness should that occur.
I’m no genius , though I’d be grateful if you didn’t tell my family that, but I think I’ve worked out what could be pressing on the bowels. OK, maybe there’s nothing that could have been done to prevent it, but I’ve been saying for a long time that a scan to let us know the growth might help even if it’s only to be prepared for things like this.
I’m sure the bald patches in my scalp will grow back soon, but poor Ju isn’t very happy, in fact she’s quite low, as this news came out of the blue and it hits home what an illness she has and what it’s doing. Before that she was convinced the drainage of the fluid would result in being virtually pain free again. If I had a million pounds to spare we’d be flying out next Wednesday on a tour of the places she hasn’t been to ( everywhere except Florida years ago and Prague). Sunshine enough to brighten her flagging spirits. I’m truly sorry for anyone with cancer but I’ve lost so many of my family this way I think I’ve given enough and only have time for Julia now.