Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Finally a medical diagnosis

Finally, yesterday, after around 11 years of having no access to medical care and at least 35 years of worsening symptoms that have been ignored or brushed aside, I saw a doctor and to my utter surprise and enormous relief, he was perfectly happy to accept that the increased symptoms I've been experiencing for the last 13+ years are those of fibromyalgia ... and asked if I minded if he put that on my notes.

Frankly, I don't mind what he puts (well, I do, I'd rather it correctly say Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), but since the NHS no longer use that and uses Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) instead - impossible for me to have as I'd been ill for a decade and a half before that awful crap misnomer was invented - I therefore prefer Fibromyalgia be used as it sounds more like a 'real' illness), as long as he accepts that there's something to investigate, because, in the exceedingly long story that ensued during all this time, as I explained to him, the worst part (above the considerable physical pain I've endured) is having been doubted and treated as a liar by my own family. Better yet is that he gave me a medical certificate with the word fibromyalgia printed on it that I was able to wave under my mother's nose. She sniffed at the paper with an air of suspicion then denied ever doubting me - like once before, when she said, "Oh I believe you, but I want backup."

I'm sure you get the irony / contradiction. She still doesn't, but lets see if that's enough to satisfy her and if she's capable of treating me any better now.

[No, of course, it wasn't. She later declared that "it's only on paper" and she won't believe it until the doctor tells her himself. This would be funny if it wasn't true. I'm 51. He won't discuss my health with her. Obviously? No again. She refused, utterly, to believe that the concept of patient confidentiality exists. When I assured her, once again, that it does, she declared it was "wrong". The diagnoses of both Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome were later confirmed to me - in writing - by my Rheumatologist. This letter has since been accepted as evidence by various bodies. Of course, this was still not good enough for my mother.]

Anyway, the doctor wanted to get some basic information about me on that first visit yesterday - none of my notes have materialized yet (if they ever do) - and he's sending me for some blood tests; cholesterol, sugar, etc., but his intention is that we take a holistic approach (how I LOVE to hear that word from a mainstream medic), work out a management strategy between us and then tick off the issues one by one, as I'd made it clear that I have a list. (The positivity was pretty short-lived as not much has been resolved and nothing successfully treated since.)

Nothing is simple, of course, because I have to go to hospital for the tests (on Monday), on an empty stomach. It will take two buses and a taxi, cost around £20.00 return (for the approx. 5 mile journey) yet, because of the bus times, the earliest I can be there is 11.30 in the morning. A bit late to be still starving as the nice lady at the hospital, who made the appointment, kindly pointed out!

The way she asked "Fasting or non-fasting?" sounded funny too, like "smoking or non-smoking" used to sound, when you had a choice on flights! :)

Still, it should represent a step forward, provided I don't faint on the way.

But getting any diagnosis after this long is a bloody miracle!

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

Friday, 22 August 2008

Put your feet up and walk

Taraxacum officinale

Conundrums and contradictions; puzzles and paradoxes, I haz dem ...

To say that the English climate doesn't agree with me is the understatement of the century and I don't just mean that I'm a wimp, start to feel cold at anything under 25C and just don't like it, although I'll admit that all of those are true as well.

No, I am genuinely in serious pain every time it's humid. The obvious difference is that, whereas that was one day in a 100 in Tenerife, here in the UK it has been the other 99 days too. On the roughly 99 out of every 100 days when it's too wet, too cold or threatening to be either or both, I'm in too much pain to move.

And we're not just talking about some minor ache, it's creaking joint and searing muscle pain, alternately both dull and sharp, in my shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, back, neck, hips, legs, knees, ankles, feet ... often severe enough to make me cry, nauseous and prevent me from sleeping.

This is the same pain I've been suffering (and had previously been managing with combination of benign climate, a special mattress, a heat pad and careful balancing of effort versus rest; none of which tools I have available now) since 1995, but as I suspected and said repeatedly it would, has been severely increased in frequency and severity in the British climate. And this is why I've spent the last 7 years begging my mother to make some sort of compromise to avoid it.

Even if she doesn't give a shit about me and the amount of pain I am in, logic ought to tell her that I cannot look after her if I'm reduced to being an invalid. 

Of course, she doesn't do logic.

Anyway, you get some idea why it's so difficult to cope, with the pain and with her. And this is supposed to be summer. I will not be able to cope with winter.  

Of course I know that if I don't move enough, I'll just stiffen up like some creaky old relic (and do), but it would make matters much worse if I was to get caught in rain, so balancing it to move far enough, often enough to keep myself mobile, is proving beyond impossible.

Whenever I can on a day when it's dry enough, I get out and walk (can't afford anything else) the 2-3 miles to the village and back, despite the fact that it half kills me to do it and takes another few days before I can move again. But I do it, because already, when too many wet days passed and I wasn't able to go out my feet and ankles became so swollen that I could hardly get shoes on - never happened before - which was painful and quite scary.

It took a couple of days with my feet in the air to get the swelling down and, ironically, the only way I can keep it under control is by walking more and, when I'm at home keeping my feet up. The other contradictory thing I was recommended to reduce water retention, is to drink more water.

Now I can walk short distances, or I can lie down with my feet up, but I dare not sit in a chair for more than a few minutes, because my feet go to sleep and / or swell up like balloons. I already couldn't stand for long: that's now reduced to not at all, unless I keep moving.

It's difficult to manage, but how I managed it before was considerably better than taking some prescription drug with "... a monstrous list of side effects that includes diarrhoea, constipation, drowsiness, sleeplessness, hunger pangs, loss of appetite, euphoria, depression...", as The Grumpy Goat so aptly describes it

More contradictions: 

A dry skin problem on my forearms, wrists and hands that I only used to suffer in winter in Tenerife, has flared up painfully already. At the other extreme, oily skin and a plague of "teenage spots" have returned to my back and face and, one or other has me constantly itching and scratching like a flea-ridden moggie.

Oh, why the pic of the dandelions? Dandelion root, is a powerful and safe diuretic for reducing fluid retention, dandelion root promotes liver detoxification and dandelion leaves support kidney function. May have to try that. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Great Toilet Paper Debate

This is the correct way! Toilet roll debate finally settled. A patent dating back to 15 September 1891 helpfully included a detailed diagram which was explicit in showing the paper over the roll.

And, just to add even more surrealism to an already totally bizarre situation, there's the matter of the toilet roll. What the image above shows is what I had always understood, that the "right" way to hang a toilet roll is with the flappy bit over the front. This is how chamber maids - not that I've even done the job - are taught to do it in hotels, with the little pointy bit to make it look pretty. 

Truthfully, I don't think it's THAT big an issue, although I would counter that if it's under, the nice clean paper can make contact with a potentially not very clean wall, so I don't feel that is comfortably hygienic, nevertheless ...

Oh no, that isn't right! If I hang a toilet roll "the right way," the next time I go to the loo, I'll find it turned around with the loose bit hanging down the back and I get yet another lecture on why I am wrong and why wrong is right. So one day, just to see what she'd do, I made a point of constantly correcting it and, every time I put it "right", she put it back "wrong" again. Every single time throughout the day ... which has to be the most pathetically petty deliberate belligerently pedantic, obsessive-compulsive, control-freaky contrariness evar

Walls Come Tumbling Down

Makeshift fix to prevent loose tiles falling on me in the bath

The tiles were finally fixed last week, but what a bloody fiasco it took to get it done. Not to mention the fact that I came from that super-mega plumbing hell in Tenerife to ... Well, more of the same crap, basically.

This is something I really wasn't expecting. I had no clue or any reason not to believe my friend Andy's consolatory statement, when I'd had to come back to the UK, when she said, at least I would have the chance "to live in a house where everything works" for a while. How wrong we both were to assume that!

Exhibit A: the bathroom, as you see, is a "nice" 1970s style "avocado green" and, even on that, mother had to call me a liar publicly - I was explaining the general nature of the job to the tiler on the phone - when she insisted (excessively defensively) the house was built in 1980!

The whole thing is a convoluted and surrealistic tale of denial and fantasy, but if one wanted to be really pedantic, one could argue that there's only a day (or mere fleeting moment) between December 31st, 1979 and January 1st, 1980, but when I casually and lightly said, "So call me a liar for a year", I got a shouted diatribe of arrogant assertion back that it was 10 years.

Anyway, when I'd arrived in June, I'd noticed immediately that half a dozen tiles (two columns of 3) had blown and were standing proud from the wall.

When a friend came to visit he also immediately noticed it and asked my mother when she was going to fix it. She was kinda dismissive about it with him, but when I'd mentioned it, she'd displayed forceful denial: adamant that there was nothing wrong and that she couldn't do anything about it, in that (illogical and totally contradictory order), followed by the now classic ...

She hadn't seen this before, until I got here.

Oh, like I arrived, waved my evil magic wand and the tiles came loose?

That could technically be true. What she fails to grasp is that by insisting that she had not seen the problem, she pretty much PROVES she hasn't had a bath or shower for however long it is that those tiles were unhinged. And, if you need a clue, they certainly didn't become detached overnight!

Well, clearly, the tiles are not the only things unhinged in this house and, I gladly include myself in that category after all the many frustrations.

Meanwhile, the tiles urgently needed fixing before they fell and broke the plastic bath or smashed (not a good idea, since they're a size that can't be replaced now). The alternative, or consequence of ignoring the problem, could have been to have had to re-tile the entire bathroom. She should be thanking me for avoiding this, but no, as usual, she didn't want me touching them.

Despite her protestations, I was going to take down the loose tiles for safety and for the bloody obvious reason that I quite like to get clean once in a while, so I asked for some old towels or blankets to put in the bath to protect it and the tiles from damage. To ensure that I could proceed no further with that idea, mother told me, curtly, that she had nothing at all suitable. Full stop.

She also proclaimed that she didn't want me to remove the loose tiles, because, she said "it wouldn't look nice." Hardly the issue, I think!

Going to hospital with a broken tile sticking out of my bleeding foot wouldn't look very nice either! I was trying to get my mother to see that it was urgent, but the prospect of such danger just did not provoke any reaction whatsoever. No, simply because, to her, the solution is to not have showers.

Unfortunately, I tend to stink if I don't. Maybe it's just me, eh?

Fortunately, the tiles stayed up by a wish and prayer until my boxes and a thick double duvet arrived from Tenerife. By then one of the tiles was almost flapping in the breeze, so one morning when mother was out, I used the duvet to line the bath and set to "work." Well, all I did was place my finger lightly on the loosest tile and all six fell straight into my safety-net. Another three were in imminent danger, so I took those down too, then I fixed the bin bag over the space to keep the water out until it was fixed properly.

Which it was, finally, last week, but only because I made several phone calls to get it arranged, because she still wasn't about to do anything about it. 

And, believe it or not, this is not even half the story yet!

To a normal, sane person, it wouldn't be a surprise that some maintenance is required in a house almost 30 years old, alright 28, but we're not dealing with normal, sane reasonable folk, we're talking about my mother.

Wherever I look, I'm finding things 30 years old (and often much older), that haven't been maintained or are simply at the end of their useful lives.

And having wilfully ignored them for so long, the situation has escalated, but reality not even being a casual visitor to this house, mother has convinced herself that the considerable inconveniences to put up with it all are how it always was and is what's normal. It never occurred to me that "willfully not seeing" was what she'd trained herself to do for this reason. All it does is depreciate the value.

It does explain why she could come to the house I was renting in Tenerife once a year and, seemingly, not even notice the absolute shit hole I had to put up with.

Walls Come Tumbling Down, by Style Council. "You don't have to take this crap ..."

Do not feed the troll

Some people are never happy until they have something to complain about. I'm sure it seems like I'm never without a reason for a good moan either, but this seemingly contradictory statement appears to have found the ultimate proof in my mother. 

(She wants me to believe that I'm at fault all the time. Well, I don't claim to be perfect, but I'm also sure I'm not always wrong.)

In the meantime, I just don't know how anyone else puts up with her either ...

The other day I overheard her spouting an ignorant opinion as fact, words measured, but her tone was superior and haughty, to someone who definitely knew the topic under discussion FAR better than her. It was fleeting, but the tone of the replies she got suggested that this person found her tiresome.

And, yesterday, a friend of hers called to collect her to go out shopping. Mother answered the door, merely tells the poor woman that she has to shut the door and does so, right in her face. And my mother didn't even attempt to explain why, until after she'd collected her things and went out again and, even then, was just rattling on nonsensically and incoherently about "we're not really sure" of something to do with not letting the cats out.

Only minutes earlier she'd left the back door wide open. And there's nothing whatsoever unsure about it. The cats are not behaving in any way settled enough to be allowed out alone safely. On the contrary, they're behaving scared and skittish, therefore I'M ABSOLUTELY SURE they cannot go.

When the friend had phoned earlier to ask her to go shopping - and bear in mind that shopping is my mother's absolute favourite pastime - I'd have thought she'd have been more than happy to receive the invitation and go. No. She tells me she's going, sighing as if reluctantly resigned to some dreadful fate, then asked, with a slightly snarky tone, if that would be alright with me.

And I resisted (that'll shock a few people, since it's not my usual nature to demonstrate restraint) the rhetorical question in response, because I already knew it would make no sodding difference whether it was OK with me or not. And nor was I going to profess an opinion that she would use against me later. And I couldn't care less anyway. Well, the peace would be nice.

So I treated her question with all the respect it deserved and said absolutely nothing and, of course, there's nothing more irritating to a self-absorbed person than being ignored, is there? So then she had to find something else to say and waffled on about how she normally turns down these invitations. 

Like bloody hell she does! Presumably, she thinks I haven't noticed all the other shopping trips she's been on in the last couple of months, that she's told me about before and spoken about after then, or assumes that I've forgotten about her telling me - several times over the phone over the years - that she particularly likes shopping with this woman because she has good taste.

This was just rattling, merely for effect, nervously and to draw attention to herself, which likewise deserved and got absolutely no verbal response from me. And, where's the grateful for this woman bothering to phone her up and ask, drive over here to pick her up, take her out, bring her back?

Remind me always: do not feed the trolls!

A Real Crap and Bull Story

Style Council might have sung, "You don’t have to take this crap", the reality, however …

In a previous post, I detailed how we finally got the tiles on the bathroom wall fixed - which, when they were loose made taking a shower into a "dangerous sport" - but if you think that was the end of the matter, you'd be seriously wrong.

Amongst many other things, this still leaves the problem of the impossibly low water pressure ...

Warning: whilst I often talk a load of crap, this post actually does talk about poo (human waste), so you might want to avoid reading it over your lunch!

Anyway, the water pressure is so pathetic that, in the shower, you can't get wet all at once and rinsing off soap or shampoo takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. At this time of year it's a pain, but in winter ... (With fibromyalgia pain? I don't think so!)

Unless there's some miraculous improvement in the meantime, I face not being able to shower or wash my hair at all then. Mother doesn't take showers, gets her hair done outside (or washes it in the kitchen sink) and claims that the water pressure is perfectly normal. It's not. I can piss harder. 

And apart from the cold, I simply can't stand long enough.

Now, if at this stage, you're thinking that you've heard this one before, you'd be absolutely right, because this was exactly the same problem with poor water pressure (and poor maintenance, poor quality, etc) - and the landlady claiming otherwise - I had in Tenerife, but at least in Tenerife, I had the option of calling someone to fix things. Here I'm not allowed to do that.

The cause, in both cases is the same: extreme meanness, coupled with the fact that it's not them suffering so they could care less about it.

This same crap (pun intended) water pressure also refuses to sink er, "solid human effluent" down the loo. It generally takes 2-3 flushes to kill, which is definitely not nice to live with when there is always someone else's poop in the loo.

Most of the time it won't even cope with half a dozen sheets of bog roll, which doesn't bother me, because I'm used to putting it in the bin in Tenerife, except she will NOT permit a bin in the toilet (presumably, it wouldn't look nice).

Beware of mad cows

Notwithstanding that the paper issue alone proves otherwise, do you want to know what my mother's answer to this is? It's because I eat too fast. Maybe compared to a cow chewing the cud, or the excessive amount of time it takes my mother to eat nearly nothing (as it is with lots of old people), of course, it may seem as if I eat fast, but it's only relatively fast and, even if I do eat fast, I'm sure that isn't the reason, because in all my years, I've NEVER experienced this "personal" problem anywhere in the world before and, I think I'd have noticed, don't you?

The mad cow version is that there can be nothing wrong with the water pressure, the toilet can't be too old and in need of replacement either and, of course it's never happened to her (I can assure you that is not true), so it must be me.

She who defies all known logic, has  decided that, because (according to her) I eat too fast, somehow this has made my poo "unsinkable." I'd love to ask a qualified expert (what would you call them, a crapologist?) if eating speed can affect poo "sinkability", but it's not the point, is it?

While eating speed might influence weight control, stools that are firm, well-formed and floating generally indicate a healthy, balanced condition, according to doctors, so I'm in no doubt it's just a total load of crap (of course, pun intended) that she's made up to suit her own purposes. Ah, but she can prove it, she argues, because my dad had this "problem" too (very comforting to hear that, since he had cancer of the colon). All that tells me is that the toilet cistern has been less than efficient for years, because he died in 2001, but I just gave up before saying that.

I've considered suicide, but maybe I should just get a litter box! :)

So, as the tiler was also a plumber, I'd wanted to casually mention the pathetic water pressure, but it proved impossible without mother jumping in and derailing me. What did she tell him? Believe this: That the pressure is MUCH higher than it was when I first came here (not so) and, now it's SO HIGH (she tells him) that the "water goes everywhere." What planet is she on for Pete's sake?  

I'm Going Slightly Mad ...

"There's nothing more sadistic than making someone believe he's slowly going insane."

Whether it's caused by a debilitating illness, or someone trying to convince you that it's you, not them, who is in need of psychiatric help (mother couldn't remember the words psychiatrist or psychologist during her last outburst of madness, so she screamed at me that I need "a brain doctor"), I truly get the full sentiments of that statement and the hell it is to endure.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Stuff That

Stuffed marrow

The fresh, home grown marrow was given to us by a neighbour, so I was determined to make this rare gift of a genuine fresh vegetable into a healthy meal and not yer regular "school dinner" job, involving minced beef (even though such a retro food classic from the 1930's would have gone down a treat ... especially if it were served with "wartime food" like Smash potato!

Mother has been pouting again about the lack of meat in the meals I cook. So, I did lapse and eat meat, once or twice a year if I ate out, in Tenerife, but that was because it was locally raised, actually had a flavour and, wasn't full of chemicals. Other than that and always at home, I've eaten 99.9r% vegetarian for at least 2 decades. You'd think she might have noticed by now. 

Handling meat can make me physically sick: I can cope with things that don't look like any animal or part of one, like sausages (but equally avoid processed food) and I hadn't eaten meat in the UK for decades before I left, because the chemicals in it cause my symptoms to increase and go haywire.

What kind of person tries to "demand" that a vegetarian serve and eat meals with meat? Or insist that someone with food intolerances eat foods that makes their symptoms worse? It is deliberately cruel, controlling and belligerent.

Anyway, a quick peruse of the internet and I came up with two vegetarian stuffed marrow recipes to use as inspiration (I never follow recipes to the letter); the first from Riverford would have used lentils and another from The Foody that called for rice or beans. Had to use tinned kidney beans, because there wasn't time to soak dry ones, but those were added to onion, three colours of peppers, sliced mushrooms and tomato, all sautéed together, seasoned and served in the baked marrow. Heathy, filling and perfectly adequate without meat.

Ha, I'm not the only person (as she had previously insisted) to have moaned about the general standards of vegetables in the UK (Tesco's are the worst.) 

As a comment on this post on Riverford's blog says too, "I spend a lot of time in Italy where vegetables are a source of joy and I was always sad to return home not least because the local supermarket could only offer me highly packaged dull vegetables." Yep, that about sums up how I feel. (Riverford deliver to our postcode, on Thursdays, I discover. No, that would be a step too far!)

On the other hand, mother claims to have overheard a conversation at the vegetable department in Tesco this morning. Their packaged vegetables, frankly, have been a scandal, always wet when you buy them and prone to rotting and going mouldy in just a couple of days. Someone apparently remarked that today they didn't feel wet for once and the other shopper's reply had been that there had been a big complaint about it. Lets hope for improvements.

Hung out to Dry

Hung out to dry

Accuse me of airing my dirty laundry in public if you wish (it needs to be), but on Friday my washing was done and it was a major event, as it was for only the second time in more than two months. It's a tad difficult to cope with when all I was able to bring with me was one suitcase of clothes. This also shows you my mother's standard reaction to everything and is just one more example of the absolute impossibility of dealing with even the simplest of everyday things.

First, the chances of my mother being at home and not already doing her own laundry, on a day when the weather is also good enough to hang washing out are only slightly higher than that of finding rocking horse poo on your lawn.

The "right answer" to this, obviously, is for me to do my own washing, but ...

(Also, I should explain that I can't manage to hang washing, so I've had tumble driers for most of the last 25+ years. She will not allow me to have one.)

She uses the washing machine as her dirty linen basket and it's more than my life's worth to touch that, so I've very diplomatically suggested that, if she were to do the same as me and keep her dirty laundry elsewhere (she insists mine must be hidden away), then I could just do my own laundry. No. She says that she has to do the laundry (after all, I'm only 51 and had only lived on my own for 30 years: she doesn't yet trust me with the machine ...) and, that I only have to ask.

But I asked her if "we can do" (note: carefully not "to do") the approx. four loads of bedding that came off my bed in Tenerife on June 4th and went straight into the boxes for the shippers. Nope. Those are still waiting to be washed?  

She refuses to change anything to accommodate me, she doesn't want me touching her laundry or the machine (even though she needed me to show HER how to use it), then she storms off, slamming doors and muttering in a stage whisper about how unreasonable I am. What, for wanting clean clothes on a regular basis?

Hang out to dry: (Idiom) If you hang someone out to dry, you abandon them when they are in trouble. And, boy do I feel as though I have been!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Digital Television

Another example of my mother’s dysfunctional relationship with logic: I'd looked up at (now Freeview) to see when this address (using the postcode and house number, so I mean for this very house) gets digital TV and, although the switch is not until 2012, it tells me (right there in black and white) that 48 digital TV and radio stations are already available here.

Now I distinctly remember having a very long, slow, "I'll explain this in baby talk" conversation with my mother about this very issue on the phone while I was still living in Tenerife. The reason being that some time before, someone bought her a digital set-top box. This was duly set up by the purchaser and my mother had been telling me on the phone about all the programs that she'd been watching, including, "a whole channel of oldies", unquote. (Gold, probably.)

A little later, there had been a power cut and, presumably, its settings were lost. Obviously, she did not know that it needed to be nor how to reset it. Did she ask someone to look at it? Nope, she just decided that it was not working because, she claimed, digital TV was not in this area yet. Not a logical deduction. 

So, speaking very, very slowly, I asked her if she remembered telling me about the "whole channel of oldies". No reply. Silence. Avoidance. So, I TOLD her that she had been telling me about a "whole channel of oldies" and asked her to confirm that she thus had to have seen the "whole channel of oldies" with her own eyes. 

She still AVOIDED responding directly, merely snapping back in a nasty, sarcastic tone, "probably". So I told her that this meant, therefore, no matter what she was being told (she'd then claimed she'd been told by someone that digital was not yet in the area), that digital had to be available, because she had seen it with her own eyes. She still wouldn't hear it and returned the gift as "useless."

She could have returned it, honestly, as a pain in the neck if it needed constant resetting. She's not actually stupid. She could follow the logic. She just thought only she found it difficult and she could not admit to finding anything difficult, so she had to invent all these other ridiculous reasons that weren't her fault. 

When I got to the UK and confirmed the above details by looking them up, she claimed to be "fully aware" (as if she'd always been) that digital IS available here and vehemently denied having ever having said that it wasn't. Sh*t, she'd insisted, over and over, that it wasn't available and I'd had to go through the "but you've seen it with your own eyes" business over and over and over trying to get her to realise she was talking through her arse. And I, absolutely, categorically, could not EVER forget that particularly bloody difficult, nasty conversation, verbatim.

Now the "new" reason the digital box was returned, she informs me, is because it was not compatible with her TV set. Hold on a f*cking minute ... Didn't she tell me about seeing the "whole channel of oldies". So it was compatible then?

Friday, 15 August 2008

Terrorising the Friendless

Mother told me - in her cackling madwoman voice - that I had told her that I have no friends. Of ‘effing course I haven't ever said that, simply because it's not the case. Acquaintances I have hundreds; proper friends have been harder to keep with distances and poverty and because I lost touch with many in the days before the internet, but I’m certainly not without, nor have I ever said so. 

After deciphering various cryptic clues, I worked out that she was alluding to people like Gregorio and Fernanda or Jesus and Elvira in Tenerife and, to the fact that I was sad not to have been able to say goodbye to them. And the only reason I didn’t was because my mother had insisted that I could not do so, nor use her address and, specifically, that I was not to tell people where I was going. 

Ridiculous, but so be it. All I was doing was what she told me to do. 

Mother now says she never said anything of the sort, that I am a liar (for what reason, exactly, might I want to make something like that up, I really cannot imagine) and accuses me that the only reason I had to leave without saying anything to anyone is because I owe the landlady money. I don't! And I know I haven't given my mother the impression that I do either, so she's simply made this up to serve her fantasy. She also definitely knew it was the other way round.

All the previous losses and damages and, that I estimated in monopoly money figures (to about £50K), I should have sued the landlady for, but yet again mother had insisted I must not. She was always paranoid about complaints “coming back” on you. They only do that if they’re false. Now I know she makes up false complaints all the time, I finally understand this fake paranoia.

My mother spent years begging my friends to ask me to come to Britain. (Because my mother has only ever had contact with one of my friends by phone, she’s now twisted this round in her head that, as she only speaks to one friend, I only have one friend.) My mother has done the "of course you'll always have a home here" act for years, she also said that the moment I came here it would be my house too. Of course, I didn't believe that, but I still didn't expect this level of abuse.

Of course, age and illness add to her madness, but they can only make an already nasty, sadistic, vindictive bitch into an even worse nasty, sadistic, vindictive bitch. So far, on advice, I've spoken to my mother's GP about her behaviour, I've talked to the Citizens' Advice Bureau and to a solicitor. My friend says that this is not fair on me and the bloke at the CAB says it's terrorism and, to be honest I really didn't expect an opinion that strong from someone there, but it’s gratifying.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Britain's Really Disgusting Foods

Moldy beetroot

Really, there is something not at all right about this beetroot going moldy after only a few days, in a Tupperware, in the fridge. We'd also had fish go off from Monday to Thursday one week; In a cupboard, potatoes and carrots go soft and manky in only a couple of days, onions went all green and furry ...

All the fruit and veg here is too ripe and won't keep long enough to shop weekly. It's mostly packaged and sweats in the plastic, so I open it and put it on sunny windowsills to dry it before it's put away, but it all still goes funny after only 2-3 days. The quality is truly dreadful, compared to the beautiful, fresh produce in the Canary Islands. But the best part, according to my mother ...

This didn't happen until I got here!

It CAN'T be her fault (nothing ever is) and the house can't be damp, so it must be me. All it does is confirm that she NEVER bought anything fresh previously.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

How to be a non-person in your own country

You wouldn't choose to do this voluntarily, but here's what happens now when you move country - even back to one that is supposed to be your own country - because you have to start over from scratch again.

Even though I've had a bank account with the Royal Bank of Scotland (for around 15 years), it's only a savings account, so no cheque book (not that I want one), nor a debit or credit card I could use to make payments in shops or online. All it provides is a cash card I can use in hole in the wall machines and that has a severe limit on the amount of cash I can draw at any one time anyway.

But, I also discover that I can't apply for a different type of account to be able to have more card options (despite my history with them), because now all new accounts, irrespective, are subject to the same fraud checking procedures and those require that I have something like a utility bill in my name (which I cannot have as I'm living in someone else's home), or a bank statement, which I can't get because I don't fulfil the requirements (bleeding obviously).

Actually, I'm seriously pissed off about this because, I took the time to phone them from Tenerife before I left and told them what I was doing, where I was going and what I would need. I'd asked then if there was a card I could apply for and had been assured that there was. They told me to ring them once I'd got to the UK, which I did some weeks ago and they said they'd send the forms. They didn't and I had to chase it up and they still didn't tell me on the phone that I didn't have the right sort of account nor that these terms apply.

The requirements for applicants elsewhere are generally: 

Please note that to apply for [whatever card / account] you must be over 18, have had a permanent UK address for the last 3 years, a good credit record, and regular income.

And out of that lot, the only thing I qualify on is that I'm [well] over 18!

Ironically, my Spanish bank, despite the fact that I hadn't paid a "nomina" (regular income) into the account for at least a decade and had no credit history, had no qualms about giving me a credit card with a very small limit, the sole purpose of which was fraud protection - i.e. something I could use online and that didn't expose my main account to vulnerability. 

Of course I get fraud regulations. Actually, I don't want credit, but does anyone know how I'm supposed to get around this Catch 22 situation? I may not earn anything, but I'll need to be able to make online payments earlier than in 3 years time, which currently I have no means of doing. This means I can't can't top up my mobile online (so I'll have to walk a 3 mile round trip for it). Heck, I can't even book a ticket out of here (which is more than enough alone to create panic.)

Can you imagine living in the 21st Century without any plastic?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Wishful thinking is killing me

"In the same way that each of us has had to learn in growing up to resist the temptation of wishful thinking about ordinary things like lotteries, so our species has had to learn in growing up that we are not playing a starring role in any sort of grand cosmic drama." -- Steven Weinberg, American physicist and Nobel laureate

It's a sad, but true, fact that my mother refuses to shake her belief that the lottery provides a realistic chance of obtaining the money to solve my problems and is her only possible way of helping. Just to get rid of me, perhaps?

Even though I tell her about the near impossible odds over and over again, still she buys tickets, treats checking the numbers the moment the draw is televised as though it's a life-and-death necessity and still, she claims that buying lottery tickets is "doing as much as she can" to try to help me. 

Obviously, it is nothing of the sort and falls a long way below what might reasonably be expected of a family member who has the means to assist, as she does. She promised me she would do so. If she'd said no, I'd have had to accept that, but she didn't. It isn't acceptable to get someone into a position where they rely on you and then not provide the promised assistance. That's cruel. 

A "normal" parent faced with the ability to ease their child's pain and suffering, you would think, would move heaven and earth to do so. My mother will not compromise one inch. She seems to have an over-developed sense of entitlement: that she need not make any concessions, whereas everyone else has to bend for her. Especially me, because, I am only a child, after all (yeah, forget being over 50) and my needs (even medical ones) are subordinate to her whims.

My wants don't even exist. I deserve and get no respect as a human being.

This, once more, demonstrates how infantile her thinking is. Mostly, wishful thinking is the only kind of thinking she does. Fantasy land is more comfortable, I guess. (Since reality doesn't support their grandiose view of themselves, narcissists live in a fantasy world propped up by distortion, self-deception, and magical thinking.) Of course, I know I'll never change this, but neither can I escape it and you must see that it makes even the simplest conversations with her the mental equivalent of beating one's head repeatedly against a stone wall.