Thursday, October 29

Non Smoker?

Well, not quite, but almost.

After being told I had pleurisy 10 days ago, it brought back haunting thoughts of my dad and his long and slow decline in health leading to his death 5 and a half years ago. He was using inhalers and then oxygen pipes 24/7 for the last 10 years of his life. He was a heavy smoker and started getting pleurisy at the age of 40. A year younger than I am now. He ended up with a completely collapsed lung, and the other lung partially collapsed. He was on so many various kinds of medication he rattled. He ended up bed-ridden for the last 5 years of his life and I watched my precious father waste away. He died in hospital from pneumonia.

I had visions of me heading in the same direction, and I make my family go through the same thing I did, I can't make them watch me die slowly and painfully.

I was smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

It has been a very VERY tough week for me. I have cut down to two or three cigarettes a day and am trying very hard to cut those last ones out completely. I feel a bit guilty because everyone thinks I've stopped completely, but I went two days without a cigarette at all and almost lost my mind with it. I know it's withdrawal symptoms, but join those symptoms up with PMT and I was almost ready to murder everyone in my household, and the rest of the street. So, at the moment, those couple of cigarettes are saving my sanity, but I AM going to cut them out and I WILL be a non smoker. I do feel guilty lying to my family and have them thinking I have stopped completely, but I am going to stop completely. The mornings are the worst time for me. As I get through the day, its easier and easier to go without a cigarette, and I keep myself busy doing stuff, I just have to learn how to get through the mornings.

Having a reformed smoker (and very much the preacher) for a husband makes matters worse for me to be honest. Mark stopped his 30 a day habit almost 4 years ago, and as proud of him as I am for sticking to it, he drives me bonkers with his know it all attitude. I don't think he realises what he's doing, but he doesn't have a great deal of tact. OK you get a factual 'this is how it is' straight laced opinion, but when you're feeling a little bit sensitive and very very angry and anxious inside and you basically want to kill anything that annoys you.. tact would be a fine skill to adopt for a short while at least LOL

I'll get there :)

Tuesday, October 27

The phone rings....

1.50pm, Tuesday 27th October, the phone rings.

Oh god, what does my mum want now? It's the time of day she tends to phone, early afternoon.

No, it wasn't my mum. The caller ID showed it was Craig. Craig and I have been friends for about 4 years or so and we met through my photography website. He was one of the first people to sign up. He became part of the site team and we started to organise photography meets with other members. We loved our group meets and our other half's trundled along for a day out. I got to know Craig's wife Pam also. Craig and I have since become good friends although we only ever meet up at photography meets, we tend to chat on the phone every couple of weeks or so and seem to be on the same barking mad level.

So I answered the phone, hi Craig, how are you? Not good came the reply. Pam died at 1 o'clock. She died in my arms 50 minutes ago.

How do you answer that? A rare occasion.. I'm at a loss for words. Hearing a good friend, who has been in the thick of it in Iraq with the military and has seen a lot of his friends and colleagues die in action, who carries a tough guy image around with him (although I know it is just an image) in pieces because his wife has just died is enough to stun anyone to silence.

Pam was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of July this year. She also had liver cancer and cancer in her adrenal glands. She was given 5 weeks to live if she didn't have chemotheraphy, up to 5 months if she did have it. She opted for chemo. She survived just shy of 3 months.

I feel at a bit of a loss. A spare part. Craig lives about 100 miles away, not far really, but not close enough for me to nip round and put the kettle on for him and give him a box of tissues and a shoulder to cry on. All I can offer is an ear at the end of a phone line.

Pam was taken into hospital last week as one of her lungs collapsed. She was on the highest dose of morphene but was still in so much pain. She told Craig that she couldn't take it anymore. She took off her oxygen mask and died in his arms. She was 49. Craig is 40.

I'm at loss for anything else to say.

Friday, October 23

New Look

I was sick and tired of looking at a boring old white page with my ramblings on.

I've had a hunt through the templates available and didn't like any of them. What I didn't realise was that I could upload a new template of my choice. woohoo.

I thought I'd try out this nice fresh looking theme. I'm not normally a flowery type of person, but this looked nice and fresh and clean, so I'll see how I feel about it when I've looked at it and posted on it a few more times.

I think it might stay :)

Wednesday, October 21

That's me told then.... !

About a month ago now, I had a really bad cold. Normally I can carry on (ish) with a cold, but this one floored me. Then I developed a cough. It was a loose but hacking cough, but I got on with life. The cough just wouldn't go away. Over the weekend the cough changed and my chest got really tight. Then it felt like someone had punched me in the ribs both sides at the back. Monday morning, I tried to get a Dr's appointment. None available. On Tuesday morning I went to the surgery for 8.30am as our surgery is notorious for not having appointments. It's a first come, first served basis. Even at 8.30am (dragging poor Isabelle along, ready for school, in the freezing cold!) no appointments! I tried again this morning... aha.. 25 past 9! Yay! The bad news is it was with Dr Preacher. Dr Preacher isn't actually his name, but every time I go and see him he preaches about various other things to my ailment that I've gone to see him about, namely me smoking and me being over-weight. I had no choice, my chest hurt too much to not go.

Dr - Good morning, what can I do for you?
Me - It's my chest... etc etc (explained how I'd been)
Dr - Do you smoke?
Me - Yes
Dr [Sanctimonious tone] ahhhhhh. [begins sermon on smoking] You're 41 [like I didn't now that already!] you're not a young lady anymore... [ears close and hear blah blah blah]
Me - My chest has been really painful and I have barely smoked yesterday and today, and I've just bought some NiQuitin chewing gum to help me stop.
Dr - It's not going to be easy. It's ok you saying that while you feel ill, but as soon as you feel better, it's a different story.
Me - [hangs head in shame]

He listens to my chest.

Dr - uh-huh, ok. It's not going to help your chest being so over-weight.
Me - Yes I know but have lost 4 stone since October last year, although I have put a bit back on over the summer.
Dr - Just jump on the scales for me. [I've got a bad chest, I don't want to get weighed, I got weighed at slimming yesterday morning].
Me - climbs on the scales.
Dr - Oh, you're heavier than you were in June.
Me - Yes, I put some on over the summer, but I re-joined the slimming club and have lost 7lbs in the last 3 weeks.
Dr - Put some on over the summer? Healthy eating and watching what you eat is going to have to be a way of life for you, as is the non-smoking.
Me [pretty pissed off by this point] [hanging head in shame] yes I know.

As if having a bad chest wasn't bad enough, he reduced me to feeling completely worthless and a waste of space. I'm fat and smoke.. I'm surprised he even let me into his surgery!

He gave me some penicillin as I have pleurisy. So now I'm dreading telling my Mum and Mark because I know they will both start about me smoking, I'll get lectures all round. I do know I have to stop and I'm going to try really hard. But no smoking AND slimming at the same time? and feeling sore and in pain with my chest.. I feel pretty bloody miserable right now to be honest.

Thursday, October 15

First and Second

I recently joined my local camera club. Worried that it would be full of old men sporting cardies, I quietly crept it.

But no, it's quite a busy camera club with all ages and a lot of character. After the first meeting, I had 6 days to get my entries ready for the first competition. 3 prints and 3 digital images to be projected on the screen. So I got them all ready, the prints were mounted and I handed them all in.

Last Monday was competition results night. I sat with baited breath hoping that the judge wouldn't slate my work too much. Print results were up first. The results were divided into three sections. What I call 'the dross', then his selection and then the three winners. The landscape shot I put in, he said all the elements were there, but it wasn't really to his taste. Ok, fair enough. My second shot, my industrial sunset, got into the selection, but he wasn't happy that the sun was burnt out. grrrrr. My third entry was my gloomy windmill shot below.

He said that the only reason this didn't win, was that the print quality wasn't quite as he'd hoped it would be, but that was the only reason it didn't win. He loved it. arghh! Oh well.

Then on to the digitally projected images. My first shot was in the dross. It was my decayed rose, which I suppose is an aquired taste, and obviously not his taste. My second shot was my 'fixing the any key' shot of the little people fixing the keyboard. It was very well received in the club with a lot of laughs and credit for something completely different. This one made it into the selection.

But my trusty old Bald Eagle shot did me proud once again and it took first place in the category. woohooo.

It was also very well received in the club and I got a lot of compliments and questions about it, but everyone praised me. I felt like I was on cloud 9. So now, I've got to decide on my next set of shots to enter for the November comp. Set myself a bit of a hard act to follow haven't I? LOL

Monday, October 12

Absolute Bliss!!

ohhh I'd forgotten what it's like...

Friday reminded me of two things in life, which, when combined, gave me the feeling of bliss! Either one on it's own is pleasureable, but wouldn't give me the feeling of bliss.  It's just a shame it didn't last longer than it did, but I'll take 3 hours of bliss over no hours.  I do realise that this combination wouldn't give many people this feeling, but for me.. oh heaven.

The British Superbikes came to Oulton Park this weekend for their final races of the season. Friday was practice day. Isabelle was at school on Friday. Mark was at work on Friday. I was all on my little lonesome. Oulton Park was calling to me and my camera. My conscience was niggling at me though, so I asked Mark if he could get Friday morning off work so we could both go to Oulton Park to watch the bike racing. He's snowed under at work at the moment so there was no way. Excellent said my conscience. It's now clear, I don't have to feel guilty at going to photograph the bikes alone.

I really don't know what it is about bike racing that really fuels my blood. The noise, the smell, the speed (oh and the leather, but we won't go into that!). The fact that I can point my nice big camera lens at the bikes and bikers and get shots of absolute power is an awesome feeling for me. The blissful part of this session was that I didn't have a 4 year old monkey swinging off my legs while I was taking photographs as I normally do. No questions about who's winning, who's that man? etc etc. I could give full concentration to my shooting. I didn't have to consider anyone else if I wanted to move to another part of the circuit, or grab a coffee, or walk around the pits. No consideration to whether anyone was bored or not, it was just me and my camera.

My reservations about my new camera not focussing properly were also alieviated. Yes! It worked properly. I think that my smaller lens got damaged in the road kill accident, and that's why I've not had sharp photographs from it. But as you can see from the photographs below, it's working alright.  And check out the heat haze from the first shot, right behind the exhaust. That's every motorsport photographer's 'thing' getting heat haze! LOL


Such a shame that it's now the end of the racing season. I have to wait until May before the superbikes come back to Oulton Park. But I'm going to be there for race day next time!!

If you want to see the rest of the shots I got from the day, please go to view them in the gallery on my website: Click here for more British Superbike Shots