A Kindness of Quilters

I have dropped the military this post in favour of one of my other passions  – quilting!

I love patchwork and quilting, it satisfies so many of my creative itches, it has colour and in has order and symmetry. I have never been one of those for whom creativity is winging it or free expression, I didn’t even colour outside the lines when I was a child, in fact I found people who did unnerving and slightly disturbing, I like the certainty of straight lines and carefully measured angles.

I’m a bit the same with writing, while the plot might be a road I travel to find the end, I can’t have characters without purpose, I don’t do spear carriers, at least not willingly, every person and every event I create must have a reason, they must be a part of a complete pattern. I might get into a mix of shades like a Log Cabin block, but in the end all the blocks must come together to form one cohesive quilt.

I belong to several sewing groups, Market Street Quilters is fairly large, about fifty of us. I go here for talks and classes and for exhibitions, we have one every three years to show off what has been made since the last one and to raise money for a charity. The next is in 2020 and I will share tales of organisation, exhibits and rising panic another time, here I want to talk about the two other less formal groups.

I guess you can divide them into Sewing Sisters – hand sewing and Stich in Time – machine stitching, but all variations are welcome and all types of fabric craft as well. I want to talk about them not just because they are both made up of a bunch of talented women, but because they are also truly lovely women.

As some of you know I have recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I’ve been becoming more and more disabled over the last couple of years and now I am awaiting referral for a wheelchair, which will be a necessity in the near future, In the mean time I wobble about on two sticks.

Sympathy is all very well and sometimes I feel sympathy is often nothing more than curioustity, but kindness is another matter and the women who make up theses two sewing groups are some of the kindest and most companionate people I know.

They take care of me, they bring me coffee and biscuits, they pick up anything I drop. When we go anywhere, a quilt shop or out to lunch, they make sure they get me as close to the destination as they can and they always find me a seat. They carry stuff for me, be it my sewing machine or a purchase, one of the bugbears of two sticks is not being able to carry anything.

And they do all this without making me feel a nuisance, in fact, just the opposite, they make me feel wanted and valued which for someone like me with the self worth of a discarded sandwich wrapper is a bit moving and makes me want to have a little cry every now and then. I’m pretty sure I’m a pain in the neck, but they never allow me to feel like one.

I could name them, but I might miss one and I would never want to do that. And probably none of them will read this, not having my taste for soldiers or for the sort of books and stories I write, but in case they do….THANK YOU….love Bev.

The picture is from the last exhibition, my first and possibly last king sized quilt.

 

 

 

What the ……!

Although I only got diagnosed a week ago, it is obvious that I’ve had MS for about fifteen years, it is just that in the past few months it has grown into an embuggerance.  This week has been a learning curve and, oh boy, have  I’ve learnt a lot.

Did you know MS is like pregnancy?

Stop gasping and giggling and stay with me… when you are pregnant and it is becoming obvious, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers will comment on your condition and amongst them will be the DOOMSAYER. This person will either themselves have been in labour for a hundred and fifty hours and suffered the agonies of the damned or they will be closely related to someone who has. Naturally this tale of unrelenting torture will inspired the first time mother with wonderful, soothing confidence and ensure she will look forward eagerly to her own labour.

As my child bearing days are far behind me (and BTW, I shoved babies out with no problem at all), I thought I would be free from the DOOMSAYER, but I was so, so wrong. Just as in pregnancy, they will know another person with MS and they have been confined to a wheelchair for years, they are blind, unable to swallow and suffering terribly in equally vile circumstances and for some reason they are always years younger than me! I’m not sure why being younger is such a vital detail, but apparently it is.

Why do this? Why with solemn expressions of deep concern do some feel the need to frighten the living daylights out of the vulnerable and gullible? I’m immune to this rubbish, I’ve done my research and while, as any soldier will tell you no plan survives the first encounter with the enemy, he will also tell you no intellgence work is every wasted. I’m prepared and I know that Mr and Mrs Doomsayer adore embellishing, if they can add extra beads, some glitter and a ribbon, they are as happy as pigs in muck!

The other interesting thing I have found is ignorance. You would have though after “The West Wing” and other programmes, most people would have a nodding acquaintance with the condition, but again, the scales of preconceived ideas have fallen from my eyes, at least one person has patted me gently on the arm and hoped I will be better soon!!!!!  I’m expecting a “get well” card and will be disappointed if it doesn’t come.

On a more positive note, I feel surprisingly well. I put this down to my having stopped fighting. I’ve stopped trying to do thing the way I used to do things and begun to do them the way I can do them. I’ve stopped trying to walk as I used to and slowed to the pace my body likes, surprisingly I can go further slowly than I could when I was trying to be normal. If I’m tired I don’t fight it, I rest and don’t feel so wrecked as a result and if I’m in pain I throw painkillers down my throat like sweeties and don’t give a damn about possible side effects.

Soon I am off for a long MRI and an appointment with the neurologist. I have made a list of questions ( research, research, research) and with the answers I hope I will be armed and ready for the campaign ahead. One thing I do know is that I will carry on writing and quilting for as long as I possibly can. I’ve got a Mrs Lillicrop story on the boil, two books telling me they would like to be written and someone said they will hit me with a heavy object if I don’t write a sequel to “The Tattooed Tribes”, plus I need to produce at least two excellent quilts for exhibition in 2020.

“Second star on the right and straight on until morning” people 🙂

 

 

Hurrah, Hurrah MS

Weird title I know, but bear with me.

The first thing you need to know about me is that I have the self worth of a house brick. The reasons for it are ancient and boring, but my default position on almost everything is “its my fault.”  So when I started to have trouble walking I put it down to spending way to much time at a computer screen….so it was my fault. When I started to get blurred vision, again it was too long looking at a screen, so it was my fault.

I’ve always been a big girl, dieting was a series of yo-yo events (although I have now found one that works and stays working), but I am overweight and as all the doctors and the media tell us, being overweight is the cause of many problems. So my increasing dependence on walking sticks, the pain in my legs, the burning sensations and the inability to raise one of my feet was my weight, my lack of moral fibre made me fat so all of that was my fault!

Then my bladder got to be a problem, but I’ve had two babies and everyone knows natural childbirth can bugger up the water works if you don’t do your pelvic exercises afterwards. Obviously I hadn’t done them enough, so equally obviously all this was, as usual, my fault.

Why, you ask, didn’t you take all this to your doctor? Because they might look at me with pitying contempt, then they would sigh and give me another diet sheet and tell me I needed more physiotherapy despite the amount I’ve done over the years. Obviously I’d not done enough or done it properly and who do we think is at fault for that. I couldn’t face hearing someone with knowledge confirming everything, all the time I stayed away, shoved pain killers down my throat and shut myself in the downstairs cloakroom to cry, the safer I was from the accusatory finger, the sad shaking of the head and the unspoken “what the hell did you expect, you stupid woman!”

At this point I must add a point and a confession…the point is that about fifteen years ago I started having a problem with my right eye…only the right. I had an MRI and was diagnosed with optical neuritis. I lost thirty percent of my field of vision and ended up red/green colour blind in that eye, but that was all…no-one said anything else, no specialist or GP said anything about it, but I googled it and found a reference to it being a possible symptom of multiple sclerosis, but I had no other symptoms, so put it down as “one of those things.” I’m not a believer in the benefits of Dr Google, I think you can put in what you think is wrong with you and a common virus can come up as Ebola and scare the daylights out of you, so I don’t do it. .

Now the confession, despite what I just said, in the last few months I have been putting in what is wrong with me and the same answer has kept coming up

I think I can hear a number of you muttering “oh, for god’s sake!” at this point and, dear reader, you would not be alone, the person screaming “for god’s sake, woman!” the loudest is the wonderful man I’ve been married to for more years than I will admit here, but and its a big but as far as I’m concerned , that little voice inside me which is repeating its mantra of “don’t be silly, you know its not that, its all your fault, if you had sat on a better chair, if you had blinked more, if you had lost weight, if you had done the exercises etc etc

However, his screaming finally got louder than the bloody voice in my head and he got me to the doctor and yesterday we got the result.

I have MS.

I sat in the surgery and couldn’t stop crying, not because I’ve got MS, that is what Terry Pratchett called “an embuggerance”, but because none of it is my fault, NONE of it, there is nothing I have done which caused this and I need feel no guilt. I cry for joy and I think my doctor is going to add this to her “days for my memories” as she said, it isn’t often you tell someone they have MS and they are delighted.

I know for a lot of people this news would be devastating, but I’m not young and my children are long since grown up and are not dependent on me, so it is no more than the afore said embuggerance. I know there will be difficulties , but my husband is looking forward to a blue badge and me being in a wheelchair, so we go in the direction he wants to go and I’m not wandering off somewhere and I have my eye on a snazzy mobility scooter which I will use to plough a path through town.

I have MS, hurrah!