Spring at last.

What a dreadful few months this has been. Since before Christmas I have been back to fighting those darn demons again, but with spring on the horizon things are starting to look up a bit better once again. Through out these 3 months I just haven’t had it in me to write my blog, despite so much going on in my life.

The news that I was told in October that I would lose my new job, totally gutted, along with several other colleagues, it was a bolt out of the blue, and as the time is drawing ever so close to the finishing date (sometime during the first 2 to 3 weeks of April) it has become more and more difficult to comprehend what is going to happen job wise in the future. Already the job searching has begun, and last Thursday I had a job interview for what I do see as a perfect job and an added bonus it is very close to home. Just one thing, so many people have been interviewed for the position, I won’t know for a few more days yet but I doubt very much if I will get it, but at least I managed to get an interview and tried my best.

However, one thing is certain now in my mind, this current job I am in was not meant to be after all, and may be it’s for the best I am being made redundant. I wonder if anyone remembers the old saying, although we can’t see it at the time, things happen for a reason. I believe in this case it to be completely true. But it has given me several more months of very valid experience and knowledge in another specialized industry.

It was the first Christmas and New Year without my dad, and somehow we got through it, although it was very sad and strange not to see him Christmas morning, and then round the dinner table with my brother, sister-in-law and my nephews. It is also very strange to realize that next month, on my birthday, it will be the first anniversary of dads passing. I can’t believe where this past year has gone, it just does not seem real without him around.

The dark mornings and evenings with the dismal weekends throughout the winter months, travelling too and from work have taken its toll on my physical and mental well-being. In January I ended up with a virus that knocked me off my feet for a few days and then a severe bout of laryngitis in February. On top of all this I found out my diabetes has got worse and I am now on daily medication for this as well as new medication for a couple of other problems associated with the diabetes. Not really the best start to the year.

My daily routine starts when I get up between 5.45 to 6.00 am each morning and get ready for work to start a journey to work that takes about 1.1/2 hrs plus. This includes two bus journeys as well as waiting around time for connecting to the 2nd bus services and then a 15 to 20 mins walk down what has to be one of the dirtiest, and most dangerous roads in Birmingham which is a route to a major freight company in an industrial area. On the good side they say a brisk 20 min walk is good for you every day.  The road and footpaths are littered with rubbish that has been deliberately dumped, including large truck tyres, as well as the rubbish thrown out of the windows of speeding cars. The footpaths are blocked by trailer lorries which one has to walk into the road into oncoming, and sometimes speeding traffic in order to get around these parked vehicles. Normally I would be able to avoid this long walk and take a short cut, but unfortunately there is major bridge repair work going on which means the short cut is cordoned off until further notice. I’m guessing it will re-open the week after I’ve finished this job!

On arriving at work each day for an 8.30 am start I then have to deal with one particular male colleague who has to be the most arrogant, big-headed, loud mouthed and disrespectful person I have ever had the misfortune to meet in my entire working career. This has lowered my mood considerably over the past few months, but now I won’t have to work with him much longer which is a huge sigh of relief.  The rest of the team I work with are a fantastic bunch, and it is down to them that I have managed to survive and get through each day in this job, and the fact I have been able to learn so much about the concrete industry. Then, on finishing work between 5.30 to 6.00 pm I have to repeat the same journey back home, this time through a crowded city centre and finally manage to get home around 7.00 to 7.15 pm. feeling exhausted, but not able to get ready and go to bed because of having to have a light meal in order to have my evening medication and allowing the meal to digest before I can go to bed. If only life was so much more simpler.

This is a very long day with travelling and working in any ones book, and to do it through the winter months and through the dark mornings and nights has taken its toll on my health. Thankfully the past couple of weeks has been a big improvement, lighter in the morning when I leave home and of an evening when I leave work, which has made it more bearable and also a few warm mornings with some bright sunshine and blue skies.

The Saturday mornings I have had to work, which is one in every third Saturday, have usually been the better Saturdays regarding the weather, but because of having to be up at 5.00 am to be in work for 7.00 am by the time I finish around 10.30/11.00 am I am too exhausted to do anything, including going out with my camera. On my free Saturdays the weather has been dismal and so this has kept me indoors.

With all this going on I can understand why so many British love to go to warmer, sunnier climates during our winter months.

The last couple of Saturdays I did finally manage to get out and about with my camera, a trip to my nearest local zoo in Dudley and then last week-end to the Birmingham Nature Centre. Just pushing and willing myself to get out on both those days has helped me to start fighting back those demons. There is something about being around animals that does help to lift ones spirits. It means that with the better weather comes the chance to get out and about more, go on walks which in turn should help the diabetes and my blood pressure. I even have a couple of day trips planned. I also want to find time to relax and do some fishing in the summer months. I always used to find sitting on a river bank watching the fish rising to the surface and splashing, hearing the birds singing and the water rats and voles diving in and out, always made me smile and even gives me inspiration. In all honesty I think they all look forward to the spring as much as we humans do.

I probably say this every year, but I do love spring. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start, a colourful time of year, to see the carpets of  daffodils and crocuses rising from the ground, it warms the heart, and also allows our souls to breathe again. I realise I have a few  busy and uncertain months ahead of me, the stress of job searching, then starting a new job, working with new people, adapting to a different environment all over again, improving my diabetes, but I also intend to give myself some me time whilst out exploring with my camera, this is something I haven’t done properly for a few months.

 

Approaching Spring

Spring soon will be here
Away from the winter’s snow
Drying up every frosty tear
And causing the landscape to glow

But the shine of spring I need right now
I need all the help I can get
To wave goodbye to this past winter
In hopes that I can forget

I’ve lost all my real friends
And almost ever other friendship too
Right now I am just amazed
That I haven’t yet lost you

The approaching spring will hit restart
It’s something that we all need
The approaching spring will fix our hearts
And allow our souls to breathe

by Matt Burgett

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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A new road ahead.

It has been a very long strange and mixed 12 months. Some really rough and tough times these past few months on a health level and with the passing of my father in April,  but also some great times on the work side, and also the chance to develop my love of nature and photography and visit more places in order to do this.

Having said that I am now at yet another crossroads in my life, and yet I am seeking a new challenge and am looking to take the next step forward. In two weeks time on August 5th my current contract comes to an end, and yet again I will be looking for a new job, to some to find a new job it’s as easy as tossing a coin in the air, but for those of us who suffer depression and anxiety, it can be a very daunting prospect.

In many ways I have been very fortunate with this current position, I have far exceeded my own expectations and discovered new things about myself in my ability to tackle and solve problems and overcome a lot of obstacles. I have been able to maintain a  high level of professionalism, Iv’e been able to do so much in-depth work, and not just doing one or two stages of a job and then passing it on to the next person to do their part, but I have been able to follow many stages of an entire process through from start to finish. In addition to this I have been able to implement several new job procedures and carry them through to prove they can and do work, and Iv’e learnt a great deal about the rail industry, and I have also been extremely fortunate to work with some incredible and wonderful people and make some wonderful friendships in the process. Overall I have exceeded my own expectations, and I believe in all honestly exceeded my employers expectations of me, and I have to say that does feel good, and it also makes one feel proud to have made such an achievement.

One thing is for certain, I do feel a little more confident about my future job than I have done for many years, that is of course providing I get the right opportunity by a company willing to take a chance and give me the opportunity to prove myself. For the first time in many years I actually feel confident in my own abilities.

I have had a great year discovering the local nature reserve, through all the changing seasons, made friends with a Robin who I called Buddy. He has in recent weeks  flown the nest with his little babies, and despite knowing I will most likely never see him again, unless we both happen to make return visits to the reserve and his particular favourite tree. I do feel very privileged that I was able to make friends, share a trust and have a special bond with a wild bird and be able hand feed him.

That aside, I have also this year had to cope with the diagnosis of  Diabetes,  problems with my kidneys and cholesterol level, another lot of surgery and then in April the sudden and unexpected death of my Father.  An extreme combination of  similar problems that 15 years ago brought to my knees, and  my first dealings with  depression, but now despite how hard it is to cope with all this…some how I have managed to cope and  I have come to realise that it is due to a combination of the right daily medication, some really incredible family and friends, the pursuance of my love of nature and photography, and a job I love doing, but more importantly positive thinking and the confidence in ones own abilities, and to try not give up so easily.

So, my next step forward is to take a much-needed short holiday up in Strathpeffer  in Scotland the week after my job comes to an end, give myself chance to recharge my worn out batteries, take in the wonderful Scottish air, scenery and hospitality, take plenty of photographs and discover the wildlife up there, and also hopefully treat myself to a glass or two of some very fine single malt whisky from that region.  But, I do realise that I also need time to think about what sort of job I would like to do next, and how to balance my work life with managing my diabetes and also prepare myself  mentally for upcoming job interviews. So who knows what new opportunities await around the next corner.

 

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate.

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Many thanks for stopping by

 

Things always seem better when spring is coming!

 

February has not been the month I had hoped it to be!

 

So far this month apart from work, I have found myself having numerous doctors and hospital appointments, and with more screening and tests pending in the coming couple of months.

A couple of weeks ago I found out that after 16 weeks of very patient waiting, that surgery I had to have in October of last year, has not worked, and the surgeon has to do the operation all over again. What is worse is I have been told that this time it may not work either, and the probability is I may have to have the same surgery a third and possibly a fourth time over the next year or two, and if it still doesn’t work then the ‘contraption’ that I call it (which is a Seton cord being used to heal a fistula) may have to stay in place permanently. (All I can say is I now understand what a piece of cheese on a wire cutter feels like!!)  And all of this is preventative action to stop another abscess from forming.

For over 4 years now I have been having regular blood tests and monitoring to keep track of  a condition known as being a ‘pre diabetic’. In real terms this means one who is pre diabetic has a much higher risk of developing the disease diabetes at some point in their lives.  With changes in my diet and lifestyle over these last four years it means that I have been able to stave off the disease and keep it at arm’s length for as long as possible. One of  my hobbies, photography,  has helped me to benefit from this  because  it encourages me to do a lot of walking in parks and nature reserves with my camera, and in general it is good to get out in the fresh air, this is of course more difficult over the winter months because of the weather conditions and the lack of light especially in the early evening, but it has not prevented me from carrying on with it when I have been able to. A brisk 20 minute walk through the nature reserve or park of a morning and then again of an evening after work, is a great way to keep fit without over exerting yourself. Just one problem it can be a little muddy at this time of the year, and I have noticed some funny looks off other passengers of an evening when I get on the bus with muddy shoes. However, to get to see some of the birds that I enjoy watching it does mean having to go a little deeper into the woods, where all the soft mud is! If it’s good enough for the birds and wildlife, then it’s good enough for me.

Over these last 4 years I have watched a lot more closely what I eat and have tried very hard to eat a higher intake of such food as fruit and veg, more chicken and fish instead of red meat, more wholemeal and granary bread instead of white and so on. However due to other issues such as a severe acid reflux problem it actually complicates things more, this effectively means I am restricted to what fruits I can eat due to acid content, despite daily prescribed medication for this condition sometimes it doesn’t always work. It is a little awkward when you have to explain this to people, as some people tend to get the impression that one simply does not want to eat fruit and veg, or don’t like it and this is a way of not having to eat healthy. If only that was so simple and true. One thing I do have to openly admit, and am now feeling a bit guilty about, but lets face it we have all done it and that is to skip meals. For what ever reason, too busy at work, too busy a lifestyle, no time to prepare and cook food, too late in the evening and so it goes on. But I have now been told this is something I can no longer afford to do and take chances with. (note to self…must try much harder)

Over the past couple of months I have noticed I have been feeling a lot more tired and lethargic than usual, more headaches, more thirst, more trips to the loo, but I suppose like any one my age you do tend to put it down to just that…..one’s age! And in addition to that there was all the stress and upset with my father’s health just prior to Christmas which has spilled over into the new year. Thankfully he is a lot better now. But in addition to all that there were other symptoms that surfaced, and in all fairness I have to hold up my hand and say I ignored some of these symptoms, and realistically I suppose I was in denial, because I did not want to believe there was another health problem that I would have to deal with. Unfortunately following my last blood test, it appears that I have to face the fact that I am now a diabetic. Not the best start to the year I have to say. I am now having to learn about the condition and  understand how I have to live with it, and how it is going to affect my life now and in the future.

I am learning to understand that  this disease is going to have a huge impact on my life…for the rest of my life in fact.  The disease can be controlled, but there is no cure. But with continued perseverance on my dietary needs and help from the doctors and diabetic nursing team I hope to keep it under control and try to ‘live as normal life as possible’ and prevent or at least minimize the problems that can occur with this disease.  My GP was explaining to me the other day that a simple cut for most people will heal in no time at all, but for a diabetic if it is not dealt with properly it can lead to other problems, that in turn can be life threatening. Another thing she pointed out is how more prone to sight problems diabetics are. As a result of this I have to have an annual eye scan. I know that I can’t allow  all of this to get me down mentally, if I do then I know the depression will have won, and the last few years of dealing with that illness will have all been for nothing. The one important factor I have learnt recently is that I have to be the one to control the progression of the disease, it is up to me to do everything possible, especially dietary wise to keep it under control. The strange thing is I don’t smoke, I very rarely drink alcohol, except when I socialize with family or friends and even then it is minimal, so an occasional Guinness or Cider, and more rarely an occasional drop of very respectable and fine Malt Whisky. And in recent years I have watched what I eat. I don’t drive or rely on a car and so I end up doing a lot of walking as regular exercise (knee pain due to arthritis allowing me to)  So the question is…..Why me? Why has my body stopped producing sufficient insulin?

Once February is out-of-the-way I do have something to look forward to next month, and Spring is just round the corner, so before my next bout of surgery in April, its time to enjoy March. Again it is about trying to live a normal a life as is possible, and to do the things I want to do.  One of the places  for  a few years I have been wanting to visit is Bristol Zoo & Gardens. Last year for my 50th birthday my family bought me a special ticket for an Animal Experience Day….the chance to meet and greet animals behind the scenes (something of course not every visitor can do) Having finally managed to get some time off work I have booked the Experience day with the Zoo for the 18th March and am very much looking forward to spending a little bit of time behind the scenes with their Lemurs, and the chance to visit a Zoo I have never been to before, or for that matter I have never been to Bristol, so that will be a new and interesting experience for me, getting lost between the coach station and the Zoo 😉

The following week, as a bird and nature lover, I also have the opportunity to visit the Wetlands Centre in London. Hopefully a relaxing coach trip, and a just as relaxing walk around the centre to see and photograph all the different bird species and some additional wildlife.

All of this has been planned for a while, and I am determined to not let my diabetes overshadow these two experiences. I have always believed in Spring being a new beginning. I love this particular time of the year, there is always something to look forward to. Over the last couple of weeks I have been noticing the snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses all starting to bloom. In many ways this is a reassuring sight, in the knowledge that better weather is on the way and therefore the chance to get out and about more often, enjoy the walks and fresh air…and any excuse to go out with my camera. 🙂

 

February will give way

First came the cold,
	a temperature drop so fast and low
	the body could not adapt.

Then came the snow followed by ice and rain
	flooding the yard, creating new ponds,
	as ice still lay in a thick sheet on the surface.

Gradually, the wind and rain passed
	and the sky revealed a glint of blue
	but the clouds  rolled in gray and dark.

It inched out the brief staggered light of the sun
	and once again,
	the world lay chilled and frozen in its wake.

Yet still, somehow in the clearing away
	the wind blown leaf debris
	revealed life pushing forward.

In the confines of the once bloom filled garden
	were tattered iris fronds bent low
	with light green shoots waiting to come forth.

In the protected leaf cover rose
	pointed glimmers of dark green
	barely two inches tinged with white, crocus.

Leaning toward the sunlight, brief as it was
	clinging to the short warmth provided
	with promise of more to come.

Taller still, off to the side, green clumps
	with yellow bases stretching four inches up 
	penetrating frozen, solid ground.

Through the ominous darkness of smoky clouds
	appears an opening edged in puffy white
	and blue sky beaming with the sun.

February will give way,
	allowing winter to take a bow and leave
	as spring anticipates with new life.

Now at last, the cold will pass
	and sunrise and sunset will breathe
	with the promise of hope and life
of a new generation.
	and God’s everlasting love.

                              Poem by D M Babbit

Bring on the Spring!

Many thanks for stopping by, and  have a great weekend everybody.