Monday, March 31, 2008

Crisis? What Crisis?

What I didn't mention yesterday is that Son 1 is not the only member of the family in hospital.

200 miles away my Dad is in hospital having tests for chest pains...not the first time this has occurred, but last time no cause was discovered. I only learned about this yesterday although he was rushed to hospital in the middle of last week.

Then in a completely different part of the country there are complicated issues with the in-laws. Step-father-in-law is in hospital, mother-in-law is very confused and needs help but so far won't accept it.

A triple whammy.

Three notable things:

1. I forgot to mention that I hosted my second coffee morning at Novel Racers on Friday.

2. I still have that pesky assignment to finish...but I have been granted a seven day extension if I need it.

3. Son 1 seems to be OK so far.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Urgh. Son 1 had a crisis on Friday, or rather one had been building up, slowly but surely for a month. On Friday he realised he couldn't go on, he finally admitted (to a good friend of mine) that he needed serious help and was willing to be admitted to hospital in order to get that.

She immediately took action, we all ended up at the hospital and six stressful hours later, son 1 was found a place at an adolescent psychiatric unit in Central London. It is in a private clinic used by the stars, but is being paid for by the NHS, so how long he will be able to remain there is questionable, still at least for now he is safe and we can relax a little more in that knowledge.

There is a real lack of hospital facilities for children and adolescents with mental health problems. At first they tried to have him admitted to the local children's ward but, because they would have had to hire trained mental health nurses to be with him there 24/7, the consultants refused to have him. Our local children's mental health team works 9-5, Monday to Friday, with virtually no emergency cover even in those hours, so when something like this happens the child is assessed by the adult services based at the hospital. Although son 1 is 16, all were thankfully agreed that placement on the adult ward would be highly unsuitable.

So, we wait for tomorrow, and the return of his own local consultant to find out what the future holds...

Three notable things:

1. I bought myself a bright new handbag yesterday. Well, what else is a girl supposed to do in a time of crisis?

2. Son 2 hardly seems to have noticed his brother's absence. After all, Son 1 did spend most of his time in his bedroom...

3. ...talking of which we are in the process of cleaning out and fumigating said bedroom!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter blues

Well what a miserable weekend of snow, sleet and freezing cold...

At least it gave us an excuse to chill out at home and do very little other than eat chocolate and occasionally go shopping!

Three notable things:

1. I am Brain Training on a Nintendo DS Lite. I started off with a brain age of 60, argh!

2. I am still struggling wih my assignment and waiting for that lightbulb moment.

3. This website is frankly scary. Is this what they call post-feminism?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter arrives

So, Easter weekend is here.

It seems weird not having Easter in the middle of a school holiday. Son 2 is totally confused, however much we tell him that there is no school today (or Monday), he keeps putting his coat and school bag ready by the front door.

Son 1 is sleeping a lot after having something of a setback over the last few weeks and me, well I've got to go to Tesco today. I've also got a tricky assignment to start to write and I'm floundering...

Three notable things:

1. Coffee with a foster carer friend yesterday, when we had a very interesting conversation about the difficulties of finding local foster carers for disabled kids, inspired by my reading of When the Bough Breaks. She is going to take some of what we discussed back to the Local Authority.

2. We have too much chocolate in the house. But it is well hidden, I hope!

3. I'm hosting the coffee break over at Novel Racers today.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Writing as therapy

Someone suggested to me last week that perhaps I had started studying creative writing in order to find expression for some of the stresses in my life which would otherwise remain bottled up. Actually I started writing seriously at a time when life was as stable as it gets here, and it was just a way of being able to fulfil a very longheld ambition.

But having now read When the Bough Breaks by Julia Hollander, I can see that writing the book must have been cathartic for her. A means of trying to justify to herself the decision to abandon her profoundly disabled daughter in hospital at the age of five months, as soon as a formal diagnosis was received. I can't imagine why else she wrote the book, as neither she nor her partner are portrayed in a very sympathetic manner. In publishing this memoir she has opened up to very public media scrutiny an area of their lives which perhaps should have been kept behind closed doors for now, if only for the sake of their other young children.

It is a very well written book, but an uncomfortable read, which at times is all too brutally honest. I'm not judging her actions, she was clearly unwell and under great stress with little support and none of us can second guess how we might have reacted in that situation. After all, unconditional parenting does not come naturally to everyone.

I have to admit though, that the only thing that made me read to the end was the fact that I know there is a happy ending for Hollander's daughter Imogen. For Julia Hollander herself, however, I'm not so sure.

Three notable things:

1. I bought three tops for £9 in the M&S sale yesterday. Two I love, one I'm slightly less sure of, but what a bargain!

2. The French Market was in town. It is always fun to browse around, even in the rain.

3. I've pre-booked for the new level three OU Advanced Creative Writing course which starts in the autumn.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Silence broken

Sorry about the silence. It is turning out to be 'one of those weeks', I've got a lot on my mind and I can't think of anything much to write about.

So for now here are

Three notable things:

1. I got my OU assignment back yesterday. To say I was pleased would be an understatement.

2. My friend Andrea in Australia has set up a new blog. Go and visit her at Don't Spare me the Details, she is great writer, especially about life with her autistic son.

3. There are two new reviews and some book news over on bookersatz this week. Please keep visiting, commenting and contributing reviews, we need your help to make it a success.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Care controversy

This book, When the Bough Breaks by Julia Hollander, has been causing a lot of controversy on the web in the last week. The story of a mother who gives her profoundly disabled baby up into foster care, it was done no favours by a distinctly sensationalist feature in the Mail on Sunday last week.

To be honest I wasn't going to read the book because it feels far too close to home. I know a little about Julia's daughter Immie and there is absolutely no doubt that she is in a very loving and caring foster environment where she is thriving. Julia and her partner were also lucky that such a suitable carer was available in their own county so they could keep close contact with Immie. That wouldn't necessarily be the case everywhere.

But deep down I do have some slight misgivings. Giving away a disabled child so young could send the wrong message to her siblings. No one has a right to a 'perfect' child, it is a risk that is taken with every pregnancy. Even children who seem healthy can later become disabled by accident or illness. If that should happen to one of Immie's siblings, or if they should go off the rails in adolescence, what would the parents do?

I didn't expect to be a carer to both my children as teenagers. But if son 1 had already seen us put son 2 into care, would he have worried that we would do the same to him when he had his breakdown? Fighting for both of them has worn me down, has affected my own mental and physical health. But I wouldn't have done otherwise. Son 2 has made progress beyond all expectations and we have so far managed to keep son 1 out of psychiatric hospital. For me that is reward enough and yes, I too have had to have counselling because I felt that I was not a 'good enough' mother.

As I said, I wasn't going to read the book. But having now read a much more balanced feature in The Guardian and knowing the background that I do, I've changed my mind. Unlike many of the commenters on the web, I will not judge Julia Hollander's actions until I have read her whole story.

Three notable things:

1. A tutorial in London yesterday gave me a chance to browse in the Gower Street Waterstones, where I purchased this book.

2. I finally managed to get a piece of work together to submit to the bloggers' War Child anthology. In the end I edited a piece from some life writing I did on my OU writing course two years ago. I was surprised at how much rewriting I needed to do, a sign I think of the improvement in my writing.

3. I caught up with an old friend for coffee on Friday.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Growing up

With two teenagers in the house this subject is on my mind quite a lot at the moment. So I just wondered, when do you think you grew up? Or perhaps you still haven't?

For me I think it happened overnight when I was 31. The night son 1 was born, very unexpectedly and six weeks early, after an almost trouble free pregnancy. At six o'clock in the evening I was innocently watching TV as my waters broke. By six o'clock the next morning I was the mother of a baby struggling for life in intensive care. He spent six weeks in total in special care before we could take him home.

Life was never the same again.

Three notable things:

1. Son 2 is 14 today.

2. Son 1 has been suffering very badly from anxiety for the last week. We know why and it was expected, but it will still be a big challenge for him to overcome his fears.

3. I have finished the end of course project for one of my OU courses today, so now I just have one course to concentrate on. Hooray!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Casdok gave this to me recently and I hadn't yet passed it on. So here, on Mother's Day in the UK, is a gift for all my blog readers and especially those of you who are mothers yourselves.

Three notable things:

1. Alex has set up a blog dedicated to bookcases. Enjoy.

2. Bookersatz now has four reviews. All contributions welcomed.

3. I have quite a busy week ahead, including son 2's birthday. Must get organised!