The Good Life.

Today we rolled up our sleeves, pulled up our socks and built a shed in the kitchen.

This year we decided as a family that we wanted to try and grow our own vegetables. We have been really conscious of the waste we are producing and it’s really shocking the amount of unnecessary plastics and packaging that accompanies our food shop. Once we made the decision to become more environmentally aware and try our best to live a more considered life it was like a veil had been ripped from my eyes. I was truly shocked at the shear ridiculous packaging choices that companies were forcing into my home. I had allowed these companies to creep into my home and fill my black bin to overflow, my blue bin to busting and numerous trips to the tip for the excess. I was most disturbed that all my fruit and veg came in either a plastic bag, plastic wrap, plastic tray or sometimes all 3. Why on earth do I need my cucumber and broccoli shrink wrapped, my oranges nestled in a plastic tub encased in plastic netting? By the time I had carted home the shopping and got everything put away I would turn around and face the mountain of excess packaging that I had to deal with. Enough was enough, you’re not welcome anymore.

So, why not begin our transition to plastic free by growing our own veg? We got ourselves sorted and started growing. Granda (my dad) helped the kids plant seeds. We planted courgettes, cherry tomatoes, chilli peppers and beef tomatoes. Granda taught the kids that we needed to cultivate the seeds indoors in our little window ledge propagator. We won’t see any sprigs for at least 7 days. We are all waiting very patiently for signs of life. After planting our seeds we braced the howling wind to plant potatoes in our barrel tub. Yes, I know you green fingered peeps out there are cringing because we have planted them a month early but patience has never been our strong point so we just jumped in feet first and had a really fun day.

Talking of no patience, we also thought that every gardener needed a shed, obviously to hold all our bits and pieces seeing as we are now practically farmers. We decided on a no maintenance shed, I know I’ve been rabbiting on about horrible plastic but lets be honest, if used correctly, plastic is a fantastic material. It’s robust, doesn’t rot and is waterproof, it’s just a ridiculous material for single use items. Anyway, we bought a plastic shed and we hope to have it for a very, very long time.

It was seriously the windiest day when we tried to put the shed up so we had the great idea of building it in our kitchen. 4 days later and its still in the kitchen. We are even cooking and eating dinner around it as it has just been too windy to take it outside. We did worry for a bit that it wouldn’t fit through the patio doors. It did though, minus the roof.

After a few days of dancing around our shed and telling the kids that it was in fact our new office space/homework room we got it outside and the roof put on.

As our week comes to a close and our new tentative steps into horticulture begins, we reflect on life and how precious our time is here on earth. We depend so much on the things we take for granted. God provided us with a beautiful planet and we are on the brink of destroying it. We are the first generation to understand the impact we are having on this beautiful world and the last generation who can do something about it. We need to stamp out single use plastic and tell the big chain stores that we have had enough. Money talks so take your money to local growers and local business owners. support your local greengrocer, don’t become a Tesco zombie. Or, have a go at growning your own.

Have a good week, God Bless.

January was a long month.

I know everyone feels like January lasts for 90 days but honestly this year my January was awful. I entered 2019 witha heavy heart. I wanted time to stand still in December. My son Austin was having a 2 week break from chemotherapy and he was like a different person, well, more like he was back to his old self. He managed 2 weeks without vomiting, this was incredible not only for him but for me. I can not bare the look in his eyes when he is being sick. Fear floods his eyes as he gasps for breath between vomits. It’s truly horrendous. We had created a little magical Christmas no chemo bubble and I was happy there. Yes I want to get to the end of the journey and be free from drugs but sometimes I feel, ‘it’s better the devil you know than the devil you dont’. You see, Austin was due to start his 4th phase of chemo on 2nd January a more intense phase and I was frightened. The last intense phase nearly took his life. He lost his bowel and the ability to walk. What more could go wrong?

January arrived despite me praying for December to stay. The 2nd came round and we headed off to clinic to begin this new 7 weeks intense phase. We spent 8 hours in clinic, had his bloods taken and checked then he received 2 intravenous drugs. Just like that we started. We had to return in 2 days to receive an intramuscular drug. Friday arrived and Austin was nervous. He wanted to go to the zoo so that’s exactly what we did. We all wrapped up warm and faced Belfast zoo in the freezing cold. Laughs, giggles and animal watching helped pass the time until we needed to head to the clinic for his injection. I sometimes watch the kids getting their chemo and to be honest it’s like walking up and ordering a McDonald’s. Walk in, take a number, get your thumb pricked, get called, trousers down, injection in, see you Monday, bye. I don’t know what I expected in the beginning but it becomes all very routine.

My birthday was the 5th and I was 41. I cried all day.

Monday came and today’s chemo was intrathecal, it is chemo which is put into the spinal fluid. Austin hates these days as he really panics when he is being put to sleep. Every time I lift him onto the table I look into his eyes and it takes all my strength not to cry. He grabs me and begs me to not let them put him asleep. He tells me he’s so scared of not waking up. No child should have to feel like this. I hate cancer.

Tuesday Austin starts to show side effects. Vomiting, no appetite, feeling tired. As the day goes on he starts to get more uncomfortable. We took him for a walk in Mount Stewart our local national trust property. This seems to perk him up a bit and we enjoy feeding the birds. By the time we get to the car he starts to get bad tummy pains. I check his stoma bag and it’s empty. This is not a good sign. For people with an ileostomy like Austin, having an inactive stoma for more than 4 hours you need to seek medical advice. After phoning our triage nurse we are advised to see how he goes over night as he is due in clinic the next morning. No movement overnight so off to clinic we go. They hook him up to fluids as he as had nothing by mouth for around 26 hours. 7 hours later He began vomiting and vomiting. After assessing him they wanted to keep him in. Over the next few days things went down hill and Austin was in unbelievable pain. Surgeons and drs concluded that he had developed pancreatitis due to the chemo drugs he had received during the week. He needed to have a nasal jejunum tube inserted which bypasses the stomach straight into the small bowel.

My worst nightmare was unfolding again in front of my eyes. Austin’s sensitivity to chemo seems to take everyone by surprise. In my mind I’m reliving the 1st phase, Painful stomach which escalated quickly to sepsis and 3 months in a induced coma on a ventilator. My anxiety was through the roof as was Austin’s. This can’t be happening again. How come he gets every side effect? Why can’t he catch a break? Why him? Why my sweet sweet boy? He does not deserve this. His pain was so bad he was on a combination of paracetamol, ibuprofen and morphine. His screaming will haunt me for years. Thankfully this time no sepsis.

Days turned to weeks and just like that January was over and we were still in the hospital. One of these days I’ll do a blog for parents about surviving long stays on a children wards. Man it is tough. Anyway, on 3rd February we for home. He is still in pain but we can manage it with oral painkillers and it’s not as intense and he had his tube removed much to his delight.

We had a talk with his consultant and the decision was made to stop anymore intense chemo. Austin’s body just can’t cope with these drugs. I was both happy and nervous. Happy that he won’t continue to have severe side effects. Happy that his hair will stop falling out, again. Nervous that the cancer will return. Nervous that if it does come back I know he won’t be able to have the treatment to get rid of it. All I can do is trust God and his plans for Austin.

Austin started maintenance chemo this week. This phase will last 2.5 years. Although it’s not intense as such it’s still chemo and it’s sucks. His daily drug makes him vomit. His weekly drug makes his blood counts drop and his monthly iv drugs make him feel awful. But, like I said ‘it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’. We know what to expect as he had 3 months of this after his picu stay.

So onward and up ward. I can’t start my new year resolutions on March. That’s ok right? Oh and I’m running a marathon in May! I suppose I should start training.

‘Till next time. God Bless.

You have to start somewhere.

I always start each morning with putting on my socks, it’s a good a place as any. I have promised myself for many years that I would try and start a blog. I’m about to turn 41 in a few days and seeing as our family have many challenges this year, I thought that today was a good place to start.

So here I am ready to bare all. 2019 began with trepidation. Austin (11) our eldest has leukemia and 2018 was the toughest year of his life so far. Yesterday started his 4th block of chemotherepy and we are all a little down. We are fearful for the unknown and nervous for known. Watching your child go through cancer is unbearable at times, the world keeps moving and you just have to put your big girl pants on and guide your child through it as best you can. Along with squaring up to Austin’s cancer I need to be mum to Ingrid (9) and Bruce (5). The past 7 months from Austin’s diagnoses has been one of the toughest mum points of my life. I find it hard to be separated from the kids and forced separation due to hospital admissions is super tough on the whole family. Finding ways to give each child attention and the love they need is like juggling with chainsaws, if you over stretch its going to get messy.

Rothwell’s don’t like to do things easily so we also decided this year that we couldn’t keep the blinkers on any longer. We couldn’t keep thinking that because we recycled we are doing enough. We have decided as a family to begin the transition to zero waste, greener living, simple living, what ever the new buzz words are. A more considered life is what we think. A less processed life and a more thoughtful life. With house full of every gadget going and enough belongings to fill 2 homes this will be a huge lifestyle change albeit a interesting one.

‘To hell with poverty put another pea in the soup’, while balancing the plates of cancer treatment and lifestyle change, Kevin (my husband) and I are training for the Belfast marathon. At 5 ft and very over weight this is not going to be easy. If nothing else this challenge will most likely give us and you some comic relief.

This beginning is short, but like most people their first steps are few. I hope to share our journey through life with you and I hope that perhaps you will find it interesting.