Illustration by the amazingly talented Aoife MCannYou know how it is.  You have a vague idea of how things are going to go, and the timescale involved and then – WHAM, BAM, THANK YOU MA’AM – it all goes pear-shaped.  Just before Christmas, I was very unwell and spent a night in A&E (Emergency Room) before being admitted to a ward at 4.00 am.  The very loud snoring coming from the other two ‘inmates’ of the 4-bedded ward would have registered very high on the Richter Scale and I thought I was in the men’s ward.  To my amazement, my fellow patients were female.

Fast forward to the New Year – and, still yellow from the liver problems which took me to the hospital and, losing weight because all food was making me feel sick - the surveyor contacted me about the upcoming bathroom renovations.  We decided to wait a while before beginning the works because, erroneously, I thought I’d be going into hospital at any moment for the operation to find out what was causing the blocked bile duct and probably the removal of my gall bladder at the same time.  

For those who live outside the UK, and therefore possibly unaware of the critical state of our health system, all unnecessary and unimportant surgery has been cancelled for the foreseeable future.  Indeed, not only am I just waiting for the operation, I am also waiting for an out-patient’s appointment to find out WHEN I might have the operation.

Then the surveyor contacted me about 5 weeks ago on a Friday and said the builders wanted to start the works the following Monday. I had to arrange for Casey and Gibbs to go into a cattery (on their holidays) while the works were going on as it would be noisy and scary.  I knew Casey would probably be alright as he’s a very friendly cat.  Introducing himself to the builders and probably explaining to them how to do the demolition of the wall between the lobby area and the bathroom, before giving them detailed instructions on how to install the shower, new toilet and sink, not to mention the flooring and tiling.

Gibbs, however, is another kettle of fish.  He is very frightened of men and of feet.  As most men come with feet, it would have been doubly frightening for him.  I don’t know what happened to him in his previous life before he found Casey and I, but even after being with me for over three years now, he is still a very skittish and nervous cat. 

I thought, therefore, it would be better if they went to the cattery and returned home once all the work was completed.

Cat baskets lined up ready to take Casey and Gibbs to the catteryEarly evening, on the Sunday, I managed to get Casey into his basket.  Gibbs, on seeing the cat baskets lined up on the sofa in the living room, flew upstairs.  I left him for a while, hoping he’d be brave and come downstairs. He didn’t.  I tried to seduce him with various treats, which he eyed with suspicion and ignored.

In the end, Casey went by himself to the cattery.  I told Janice, the owner of the cattery, that I would try to bring Gibbs on the Monday sometime but as she was working, she gave me some time slots when she would be at home.  Naturally, Gibbs wouldn’t accommodate any of the time slots and resolutely remained under the sofa bed, rushing out of the cat flap to answer the call of nature before hurling himself upstairs and under the sofa bed for the rest of the evening.

Nearly four weeks have passed.  Casey is languishing on his holiday.  The bathroom still is without many of the items you’d expect to find in a shower room and Gibbs spends most days under the sofa bed where I push his bowl of kibbles at meal times.  Bizarrely, he’s been fine.  I’m upstairs with him most of the time on the computer, and my presence tells him that everything is ‘normal’ if Mum’s not bothered by the noises coming from downstairs.  When the builders have left for the day, we go downstairs.  He has his dinner, I have mine and then we watch television together.  This seems to be our new ‘normal.’

My manuscript (of my journey of living with leukaemia) was finished well before Christmas.  A friend had done the final edits for me and there isn’t much for me to do in the way of implementing her suggestions.  I expected to have it all done and dusted and possibly even sent out – by now – to a publisher.  But the blocked bile duct, the daily nausea, and the bathroom renovations have all conspired against me, and once again the best laid plans are on hold.  

Welcome to my world …

Mega thanks to the incredibly talented Aoife McCann for her very life-like portrayal of me!!! See Casey's Chats for his version of events      


A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure

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