Archive for December 31, 2010

New Year’s Eve


I have blogged a few times about my great fondness for the word ‘hope’.  So much so that it appears in my house a little (see right).

365 days or 525,600 minutes, that’s what it takes to get through a year.  And what an interesting and lovely year 2010 has been.

New Year may mean many things.  But in my experience it reminds us that either we’re not quite in the position we would’ve preferred and can’t see how that might change, or we believe that 2011 might be terribly exciting.  In my mind, New Years Eve is usually all about sadness or hope, even if we never admit that to another living soul.

I won’t tell what was happening in my world on this date last year, but let’s say I remember 30 December 2009 very well and was holding back a lot of tears 365 mornings ago (31st).  Something had raised it’s head, again, quite unexpectedly on the previous day.   So while I probably pretended to believe in hope for 2010, actually, I was also sad. Something I wanted very much was patently never going to happen, and I had to learn to finally, and again, let it go, forever.  And, this year, which doesn’t seem that long later, I enter a new year full of hope and excitement about what may come to pass.  There are some people who have become significantly more important than anyone before; there are new people that I didn’t know then; and there are my forever friends, who remain in my world wherever we may be.

Despite what I felt on New Years Eve 2009, 2010 was actually rather lovely and very kind to me, and I know 2011 is going to be my favourite year ever. In part, that is not in spite of the dissection and the resulting stroke, but because of it.  I guess God really does work in mysterious ways.

So if it happens that you’re secretly not enjoying the beginning of a new year, then please take a tiny piece of comfort from someone who knows that anything might happen for you next year.  Absolutely anything.  And chances are – I really believe this for you, even if you don’t – it will.  So have a little hope today. Or let me have it for you. It’s a whole new year tomorrow, and I can’t wait to see what happens!


Tron at the IMAX

This will be tagged as 31 December, but at 0023, it still feels like Thursday night.

Tonight we went to the IMAX at Waterloo to see Tron, which is in 3D.

It’s the biggest screen in the UK.  It’s worth going to see almost anything there in 3D.  I love the IMAX.  Even more than the London Eye.  And while there was very little plotline, the effects were brilliant.  True surround sound (Em, I saw you look around when it sounded like someone was knocking on the door behind us!) and graphics that pop out (Rich jumped at the red thing flying at us). But, in the context of this blog, I also that just over remember two months ago, sitting in a restaurant trying to choose something from a menu was overwhelming enough to make me want to cry, and yet here we are, IMAXing like nothing happened.

I even caught the reference to WarGames: “the only way to win the game is not to play at all” (Joshua, the computer, it’s what he figures out a the end playing tic tac toe…?  No, well I guess you have to be a fan to remember these things!). Apparently there are loads more references to other 80’s films.  If anyone can find a link to a really good list, please do post it here.

Tonight – though it feels like tomorrow – will be New Years Eve.  I shall be bidding a fond farewell to 2010 which, including everything, has been terribly kind to me, and very much looking forward to new adventures in 2011.


Essay in progress

If I was up to date with my MSc cohort’s position on the course, I’d just have one final essay to do, a dissertation proposal and an dissertation.  Instead I’ve those plus 2 more essays that I missed from last term.  I’ve been told I can take what I need to finish them but I’m hoping that all will be done by the time the next round of essays are supposed to be in.  So only the two outstanding ones will be late.

Essay 1 (from last term), a dull-as-ditchwater-don’t-know-why-we’re-bothering-and-said-so-on-my-feedback-form essay, is underway.  It’s 2500 words but it’s also only part of a 4-part module, so I can afford to get 50% (a pass mark) without damaging the overall mark in any way.  So that’s what I shall aim for: enough to pass.  Then on to the more interesting one for last term, before I get to the really good stuff.

love this: stolen from

Anyway, it’s started.  I’ve adopted a whole new approach to speed things up, out of necessity.  In the past I’d research and print papers for a week or so, then read for a couple of weeks, then write for two or three more.  This particular essay I’m aiming to finish by this Saturday lunchtime so the research consists of pulling stuff up, copying and pasting and referencing, and once I have enough there I will write around it and over it and generally turn it into an essay.  Talk about academic basic-ness!  The thing is… I’m not entirely sure it won’t get exactly the same mark as if I’d spent more time on it… we shall see.

This week is going to be busy: the essay takes priority between now and New Years Eve, but I’m going to see Tron at an IMAX with my cousin tomorrow night.  I so love the IMAX and, when I think that 6 weeks ago there would have been no way I’d have been able to cope with the 3d and surround sound I am reminded just what a journey seems to have slipped by unnoticed.  I am so glad I kept the blog, else I think much of what I have written would have been lost to me forever going forward, with all the lessons lost.  Instead I shall have to archive at some point, so I have a copy of it in years to come.

love this too: stolen from the teatimeenglish blogspot

Anyway, Tron tomorrow, then New Years Eve and day will be spent just out of town; Sunday I shall be nipping to the coast on a train to see a friend for lunch; Tuesday is an INR check; Wednesday is a stroke clinic at Hospital Number 2 (part of the Cadiss trial thing) and then I’m flying back to NI that afternoon for a very lovely, chilled, relaxing week.  Then I’ll return on Sunday and then go to work on Tuesday…

Talk about a schedule..!


Break a Leg

Today was the annual family get together.  We aren’t usually all together at Christmas so, the first day we are all available after that we meet in the same spot, at the same time, every year, and eat in Chinatown.

This year was the same as any other, yet different.  It’s the first year I’ve gotten up and really appreciated that we are all still here.  It was also the first one without Helena, my brother’s recently-ex, who I missed.  But my dad said it was different because, I’m advised, I’m ‘more smiley‘ than I’ve been ‘in ages‘.  My bigger brother agreed.

Apparently I should take time off more often or, as my Dad put it, ““Can’t you break a leg or something next?



The Actual AfterStrokeParty

There is a reason this blog is called the afterstrokeparty.

On the 2nd or 3rd day – I was certainly still in the Hyper Acute Unit at Hospital Number 2 – my cousin Rich and I decided we would need an after stroke party in the new year.  I mentioned it to Kate .  When I started the blog a few days later, it seemed like the obvious choice for the URL.  In Kate’s words, “Who knew that would catch on?!”  However, going back to the original plan, the date of the party is now booked.  I’m billing it as a get-together for three birthdays (including mine) that fall in the same fortnight in January, as well as the afterstrokeparty.  One of the birthdays belongs to Mark.  You remember him, right?  If not, you can be reminded here, here, and here: he’s going to have a birthday with a zero on the end. (Sorry Mark!!!)

So… on Friday 21 January we are having a little get together involving a few drinks and friends.  Tomorrow Emma (the other birthday) and I will pop to the pub-around-the-corner to see if we can reserve a little space; otherwise it’ll be at our place.

So, if you are reading this and you know my email address, you are invited to join us for drinks to celebrate a whole new year.  Do let me know if you think you can make it and (assuming you really are my real-life friend) I shall send you details.  Save the date.

I’ve decided that the drinks will mark the end of the blog as I know it.  After it’s been written up, with possibly a few photos, I’ll close the frequent updates.  I might still post very occasionally, if and when there is something to say, but it won’t be a day-to-day thing any more.  Unless anything changes.

However, for those who may need another blog to read on the loo, I’ve started a new one recently, to go alongside my MSc dissertation, and it will gear up when I really get started on it, in March/April/May time.  And I’ll tell you all about it nearer the time.

Thanks for all the support and Christmas wishes.

Happy Boxing Day.  I hope you are having a fantastic time.


A very merry christmas!

As a Christmas treat I shall keep my words to a minimum and, instead, provide this.  Enjoy.

Have a very, very happy Christmas.  xx


Warm cider, Goldschlager and Salt Potatoes

When this all began I had a conversation with several people about the fact that one day the stroke would feel like a blip that happened some time in the past.  It kind of feels like that now.  Today is Christmas Eve; tomorrow is Christmas Day; in a week we head into a whole new year.  I shan’t forget the blip, nor pretend it didn’t happen, but I am not reminded about it daily any more, except by appointments or pills or people.

My friend has a Christmas tree that doesn’t have a topper, and I promised – just last week – to make one for it.  Today I did.  I’m sorry it’ll be a little late for Christmas 2010!  (Double click on – below- it if you really want to see.)

So now Christmas is ready.  Must be time for warm cider and Goldschlager and salt potatoes and nice cheese.  Or something.

xx Merry Christmas xx




The Christmas Eve Graph

INR check this morning.  It dropped.  I don’t really understand it.

I haven’t had any cranberries.  I have had very small amounts of green veg (salad actually) occasionally, but not much at all.  Yet it’s dropped to 2.1.  It needs to be kept between 2-3 and, because it’s still in range, they don’t seem worried.  The dose has not been changed.  The system, INR Star, says it doesn’t need checking again for a month but we’re actually going to check it on 4th Jan, which is the day the warfarin nurse gets back from Christmas.  I’ve not got a good feeling about that next check, as it’s a downward curve.  But we shall see, I suppose.  I think my neck is probably healed by now anyway, but it’s still not the most exciting position to be in for the next 11 days.  I have a box of Clexane syringes in the cupboard, but my bruises have only just really and truly disappeared and I’ve no desire to go back.

As a layperson, I’m also not rating INR Star.  Obviously I know nothing.  But there is clearly an unexplained drop in INR, it hasn’t changed the dose, and it suggested not checking again for another month.  That doesn’t seem like a very sensible or intelligent system to me.  Though I just found this FAQ thing – not on the INR Star site – which makes me wonder if they just haven’t customised the settings on the system for me…?  I’ll ask in January.

See, now I’m wondering if I should ask for it to be checked before 4 January.  But, well, the neck is probably healed anyway and the warfarin nurse didn’t seem at all worried that it would drop or anything, so maybe it’s just one of those things.

Diet Coke and stress, by the way, if anything – there isn’t much proof – raise INR, rather than make it drop.

Happy Christmas Eve!


I can’t be sorry; you have been warned!

Everyone keeps asking if I’m going back to work.  Yes, in January. On 10th.  Or maybe 11th.  Do I want to go  back?  Well… If I could be a paid lady of leisure, then I’d seriously consider not going back.  But I can’t, so I will.

I’ve also had a lot of questions about whether the whole shebang has made me question the way I live my life, and the place I work, and the relationships I have.  And the answer is…. no.  I still feel the same way about work as I did before this happened.  I still feel the same way about my lovely home.  I still have the same friends as I did before this happened: though some friendships are much stronger, and one – or maybe two – I will hold more loosely and invest slightly less in going forward.

I get the feeling I’m supposed to think that tearing up my neck, and having a stroke as a result of that, is the worst thing that ever happened to me.  But it is not.  It was a tad scary for a few people, not including me.  It was inconvenient for a lot of people, including me.  I’ve missed a few things I would like to have been part of.  I suspect there will be some issues catching up and re-integrating where things have rolled forward in my absence, exactly as they should have, but they don’t worry me, because they will work themselves out. And there have been some huge positives…

I’ve met a lot of good people.  I’ve learned a lot of new things.  I’ve been forced to learn it’s ok to – occasionally! – be vulnerable and let other people take over responsibility for things – including, sometimes, me – for a while. I’ve been allowed to see different sides of people I thought I knew very well.  And me being ill scared someone I care about very much enough to decide that life might be too short to waste, and to make some dramatic changes, for at least the next year anyway.  And now, well, now I feel like I’m back to more-or-less the way I was, it’s nice I have a couple of weeks to chill, even if Christmas is slap in the middle of it. I know things would be different if the impact had been more significant or protracted.  But it wasn’t.  And it is what it is.

As some of you know, I had been thinking of taking a 3 month sabbatical from Oct-Dec this year, but a combination of circumstances made me think that wasn’t the best idea and hold off talking to work about it until next Summer, when I’m due to write a dissertation for the MSc.  I guess I got the sabbatical anyway.  I mean, I would’ve chosen to spend it very differently: a lot less hospital and recovery time, and at least one overseas holiday with sunshine.  But I’m told that sometimes we don’t get what we want, but what we need… who knows.  There is certainly at least one thing that I’m glad happened as a result of all this, and so I can’t be sorry that it happened.

But I can still relate to this:

And I am so back on my feet.

You have been warned.



My flight has not been cancelled

I expect most people who are supposed to be flying into London today are huffing and puffing about their flights being cancelled due to the snow.  I would love my flight to be cancelled, but it is not.  As I type I am huddled under a rug in front of a fire, over which someone has just toasted me a pile of warm marshamallows that smell like spun sugar, and listening to the sound of tearing sellotape as the the same someone wraps Christmas presents in the other room.  As I already wrapped all his presents to others for him, I wonder if they might even be for me…

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