Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sinus Toothache!

This is a break from my normal posts (if there is such a thing). I am posting this in case it is of help to someone out there if I share my experience.

Back in the summer, I started to notice a sharp, shooting pain in my teeth whenever I bent down to pick up the ball. Just that. Nothing else. Ah ha, those in the know will be saying, I know what that is.

Well, I didn’t. I put up with it and tried to ignore the thought that I had something very wrong with my teeth. I hoped it would get better. It didn’t. It got worse. Soon the toothache was constant and I was taking paracetamol every four hours. I had earache and jaw ache. The whole side of my face hurt and my teeth were super-sensitive.

So I did the sensible thing and made an appointment with my dentist. “Which tooth?” she asked. “I don’t know – all of them on that side at the top.” “Oh, so I have to guess do I?” she said and I felt like an idiot. I mean who doesn’t know which of their teeth hurts?

“It hurts most when I bend over forwards,” I said helpfully (it seemed relevant) and she looked exasperated as if that bit of information didn’t help at all.

She tapped all my teeth along the top on the left side. They all hurt. A lot. She did that thing where they spray something icy on your teeth. I nearly hit the roof. She took x rays. At last, I thought, she’ll find out what’s wrong.

“Hm, there’s nothing on your x rays.”

The nurse smiled kindly and said the problem is that the same nerve serves all the teeth so it can be difficult to find which one is causing the trouble.

To cut a long story short, she did a temporary filling in a small cavity she found and told me to come back in a fortnight. I wasn’t happy when I got home. I’d expected her to find something – anything – that was causing so much pain.

A few weeks later, after she’d replaced all my fillings on that upper side and put liners in to reduce sensitivity the pain settled – very slightly, so when I went back for my next appointment I was able to say, yes, I feel much better. I didn’t tell her I was still taking painkillers. I wasn’t taking so many, so assumed the teeth were settling down. “Good,” she said. “My next step was going to be root canal treatment.” Yikes!

Then it got bad again. I was in despair. I tried to wobble my teeth to relieve the pressure and considered raiding the toolbox for some pliers. I tried hot and cold compresses on my face, bags of ice, herbal remedies, clove oil, the TENS machine – I even tried ibuprofen although they give me indigestion (they didn’t help at all). The paracetamol took the edge off, but after about three hours I’d be watching the hands of the clock, desperately waiting for the time to be up so I could take more.

I woke four hours after going to bed and had to take more pills. I felt like banging my head against the wall.

I was grinding my teeth and waking myself up, causing more pain. The inside of my cheek ached. Some nights I'd be up at 3am, my night's sleep over.

Then at the beginning of December, I made a decision. I’d make an appointment and just tell her to pull the teeth out. That was my plan. I hit my teeth with a spoon trying to pinpoint the most painful one, but by then the bottom teeth were hurting too and I had pain all down my neck. The ringing in my ear that I’ve got used to over the years became loud and constant.

The hypochondriac in me was working overtime. If I wasn’t tossing and turning because of the pain, it was all the ridiculous thoughts whirling round in my head. I’ve had trouble on that side of my face before – when I was in my twenties – and I began to think it was something to do with the radiation treatment I had. Or maybe it was arthritis in my jaw. Once I started looking things up on the internet, I scared myself.

I couldn’t get in with my dentist and had to see one of the others. I sat in his chair and said, “It started off hurting in my tooth when I bent forwards. Now my whole face hurts – all the time.

“That’s not toothache,” he said. “That is sinus pain. I’ll do an x ray to be sure.”

He did an x ray and showed it to me on his computer. All fine. Sinus, I thought, you mean I don’t need to have all my teeth pulled out to stop it? Really?

“You need antibiotics. I can prescribe them, but you should see your doctor as he’ll know the best one to prescribe.”

When I went to settle up, the receptionist said there was nothing to pay and asked if I had to make another appointment. I told her what he’d said. “Yes,” she said. “That’s very common.” I said I felt a fool for not going to the doctor first and she said, “Well you have to start with one or the other.”

So the next day I went to see my doctor. I told him the dentist had sent me! “I’ve got toothache,” I said. “It hurts a lot when I bend forward.”

“That’s not toothache,” he said. “That’s a sinus infection. How long have you had it?”

At least three months.

I picked my prescription up and went home in tears. The end was in sight.

Except the antibiotics didn’t work – not helped by the norovirus I got in the middle of the course. I couldn’t get in with my doctor and had to see a different one. I was beginning to think it wasn’t an infection at all and my inner hypochondriac reared her ugly head again.

The doctor took my temperature. “Over 100,” he said which was a surprise. He prescribed a different antibiotic and gave me a steroid nasal spray to use.

I’ve had sinus pain before, but it’s always been in my cheekbones and always after a cold. Never like this!

About three days into the antibiotics, I was down to four painkillers all day. By Christmas Eve which was the last day of them, I didn’t need any. It was bliss to sleep through the night.

Christmas day evening my face began to hurt - but not bad enough for painkillers. But I’ve caught a cold. I’m snuffly and stuffed up so it’s going to hurt isn’t it? If it gets worse, I'll be back to the doctor like a shot!

The reason I am writing this post is because there may be someone else out there with an unexplained toothache that cannot be pinpointed and pain when they lean forwards. Go and see your doctor!

I cannot believe how debilitating this sinus infection has been. Apart from the pain, my only symptom was intense fatigue – and weight loss (every cloud and all that). I even had to soak my cornflakes in soya milk until they were soft because eating anything remotely crunchy was so painful.

My husband, bless him, did all the Christmas food shopping (including buying stacks of paracetamol) because I have been in Completely Useless Mode for weeks. I’ve done very little writing apart from my blog posts; in fact this is probably the most I’ve written for ages.

So for anyone reading this that doubts that a sinus infection can cause toothache, earache, headache, face ache, jaw pain, neck ache and fatigue without any nasal symptoms – yes it can!

And just as an odd little aside, the second lot of antibiotics I was prescribed were the same as those Dusty is taking for the next month, Co-amoxiclav (Augmentin).


I really hope that this post will help someone!


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Happy Christmas!



I wish all my lovely supportive, kind and understanding friends a very happy Christmas (Harley does too) – and thank you for putting up with all my moans and groans these past few months.

I found a way to stop Dusty and Harley pulling the tree over – I tied it to the bookcase behind it. Clever eh? I got the idea from my daughter in law who has tied their tree up too!



I’m sure they’re still plotting ways to pull it over. The poor thing is looking decidedly wonky and battered.

This was Dusty on a walk the day after he came home from the vet’s. Keeping him on the lead is proving to be… a challenge! My arms are so long now, I can scratch my ankles without bending over!




Before I go, this Little Witch is my 5 year old granddaughter. Unusual to see her in a dress. She's a real tomboy. Because I wasn't well, I had to miss her performance in her school nativity - boo (she wasn't a witch, she was a wise man and a stall holder!).



She was a bridesmaid a couple of years ago and it was touch and go as to whether we got her into a dress - but she was really good although she insisted on having her trainers on as soon as the ceremony was over.



Happy Christmas – I hope you have a wonderful time and wish you a new year of good health and happiness (Dusty does too) xxx




Friday, 12 December 2014

Latest on Dusty!

Well it seems the mystery of Dusty’s recurring abscess is still a mystery. We had to take him back to Dick White Referrals at Six Mile Bottom on Tuesday and he was admitted for tests. Leaving him was horrible – it’s never easy is it and I didn’t get upset in front of him, but I was blubbing so much coming home my poor husband ended up taking a wrong turning!

Dusty had a scan on Tuesday which didn’t show anything up, so they operated on Wednesday.

The vet cleaned out the infection and took a scrape of bone for cultures. They kept him in on Thursday to keep an eye on him and we went to pick him up today. He was so pleased to see us and when he got in the car, he barked as if he was shouting for joy.

All being well, we’ll see our vet for a check up next week and hopefully by then they’ll have the test results and will know which antibiotic is best to target the infection. Then back to Six Mile Bottom at the end of the month for another check up.

In the meantime he’s on soft food, no toys, no chews, no running about like a mad thing off the lead… I’ve put all his toys away – and my shoes which he likes to gather up. He’s not even allowed to go out in the garden off the lead – not because he’ll run around, but because he’s likely to find a stick or a rock or something else to chew on!


I finally got the norovirus which has been roaring its way through the family and was in bed all of Wednesday, which was kind of a blessing as I slept away a lot of the worry. I keep looking at those that haven’t succumbed yet and wondering who will be next. Cheerful aren’t I?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Stranger on the Shore



Not a great quality photo, but this chap was at the beach the other day and this was the best I could do before Dusty got too close and he flew off. I hadn’t even noticed the seagull doing a flypast.

Herons seem such lonely birds and the most I have ever seen together in one place is three. I think I’ve posted a photo on this blog before of one standing on a nearby rooftop.

When I saw him standing there, I thought of Acker Bilk who died recently and Stranger on the Shore was playing in my head.

We were at the beach at full tide one day. No sandbanks to play on! Not that Dusty and Poppy seemed to mind (they are in the photos - trust me).







We’ve got an appointment on Tuesday in Cambridgeshire as Dusty’s face has swollen up again. We have painkillers for him, but he can’t have antibiotics as they want to take cultures and do other tests.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

December Giggle Blog

I thought I was going to struggle for a giggle after the past week or so, but the Other Half came up trumps yesterday!

Long story short: ill children, stomach upsets, a family crisis, Dusty puffing up again, broken washing machine, toothache, more sickness, Dusty referred for MRI up near Newmarket…

BUT, everyone is okay and everything turned out all right and that is something to smile about.

We went to Cambridgeshire yesterday, prepared to leave Dusty for the scan and/or soft tissue surgery, but miraculously the swelling went down – a few hours after Jo referred him as it happens. I didn’t cancel because I was worried he’d puff up again.

So off we went. Sat nav took us almost there – as they do – and we followed the instructions from the vet (having gone through Newmarket and passed hundreds of beautiful race horses, a magnificent statue of a horse in the middle of a roundabout, lots of famous places and posh houses).

We were going to be very early for the appointment and I jokingly said, “Well, we had to allow extra time for when you drive past the place and we have to find our way back.”

So what did he do? “There’s the sign,” he said… as he drove past. We ended up on a dual carriageway heading in the wrong direction. But he found his way back and we were still half an hour early.

Good news was, no scan needed, but the vet we saw very kindly said we were right to keep the appointment because if it does flare up again, we can make another appointment and go straight there for treatment without going through the referral process – but let’s hope we don’t!

As for the toothache – after all the work I’ve had done, the dentist I saw today said it’s not my teeth and now I have to see the doctor… you’ve got to laugh haven’t you?

Oh, while I was at the dentist I noticed their front door was open when I came down the stairs and a man went out without bothering to shut it behind him. Helpfully I closed it. One minute later the man came back, loaded up with boxes only to find the door he’d left open was shut. Oops.

My beautiful oldest granddaughter had a Stone Age day at school where everyone in her year had to dress up. She chose this tartan material herself and as a surprise, I made her a “fur” cloak.





We have decorated for Christmas. So far Harley has been in the tree several times and Dusty has tried to climb in with her. Such fun!


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Stormy Waters

The recent stormy weather has had quite an impact on the beach.

There are dozens of mermaid’s purses washed up with the seaweed.

And last Sunday we saw a seal swimming just off the shore. He was too far out to get a good photo and every so often he’d bob under the water and reappear further along. There is a colony of seals not far from where we walk Dusty, but this is the first time we’ve seen one.

Sea foam blows off the sea and rolls along the beach in little fluffy clouds. That’s quite unusual too.





But most of all, there have been dozens of cuttlefish bones washing up. It’s never been unusual to see the odd one here and there, but right now they’re scattered all over the beach. And there are tiny ones too, which is sad, as they would be babies and it’s very unusual to see baby ones.

The bigger bones all have teeth marks.



Cuttlefish have several predators including sharks and seals. I think the teeth marks look as if they belong to seals.

A little further down the coast around Mersea Island and Brightlingsea, a pod of pilot whales has been spotted.

Sad sight though this morning of a Harbour Porpoise on the beach. I crossed the creek to check if there was any possibility of it being alive, hoping to be able to get it back into the water, but it was dead. Poor thing had injuries to its tail and fins.

Dusty will take his last antibiotic on Tuesday – then we wait and see if the infection has been beaten or whether it will be another trip to the vet.





Friday, 21 November 2014

Together!



Although he's written several historical stories for The People's Friend, this is the first time my son, Sam Curteis, is in the same issue as me and I’m that pleased. His lovely story, A Travelling Man, is the first in the magazine and Fiction Ed Shirley mentioned it in her blog






And my story – well that little grain of truth in my stories I spoke about on the People’s Friend blog – there is more than a grain in Sunshine and Showers.


Friday, 7 November 2014

November Giggles

Driving along the by-pass, I saw a beautiful bird strutting about in the road ahead, pecking at the grit, as they do. I slowed down, hoping he’d move before I got there (he did).

My grandson saw and sat forward in his seat. “That’s a… it’s a … It’s one of those peasants!”

*

And one of my granddaughters was talking about a beautiful dog we sometimes see out on our walks. She confidently told her parents that he is an Elastic Malamute. I blame my accent!

*

Two of my short story books are on sale at 99p (usually £1.99) for the next six days. They should also be at a special price from Amazon.com.




You Can’t Love a Stranger – all stories include an animal of some sort. Available from Amazon UK.











Haunted – all stories include a ghost. Available from Amazon UK.













And here’s Dusty cuddling up with one of his best friends – Bananaman.







Thursday, 6 November 2014

The People's Friend Blog

I am absolutely thrilled to be a guest on the lovely People’s Friend “Getting to know you” blog.

You can see my contribution here.

There are some great posts on there and I’m so pleased to join in.

The picture with the post sums up summer for me – it was a great one wasn’t it?


Update on Dusty: He is much better (hurtling now into adolescence and all the naughtiness that entails) and has an appointment next week to determine if he’ll need a further three weeks of antibiotics.


Harley says: “Yes, I know he’s behind me sticking his tongue out (how rude). He’s still miffed about National Cat Day!”




Thursday, 30 October 2014

Poorly Dusty - Again

Last Sunday, Dusty was not at all well. Listless and lethargic and then it came up – a swelling under his mouth again. It didn’t seem as big or as bad as before and he wasn’t doing the alarming head twitching this time.

These photos were taken the first time he had the swelling. You can see by the way his ears are down and his eyes so dull that he was in pain.




I had one painkiller left from last time, so I gave him that to tide him over till we could see the vet and he perked up. On Monday we trotted off to the surgery and he was booked in for an operation on Tuesday and given more painkillers and antibiotics. This time when the vet pressed his gum, something nasty oozed out.

Tom (who cared so well for Tilly and Indy) saw him when I booked him in on Tuesday morning and was concerned that the Rimadyl hadn’t lowered his temperature which was still very high. He said he’d do blood tests to see if anything else was going on, plus X Rays of his teeth.

It was a very long day.

My oldest grandson, who is just 9, had come with me to take Dusty to the surgery in the morning and insisted on coming back with me to pick him up that evening. I said I didn’t want him to come in, in case it was bad news. He said, “That’s why I want to come in with you. You’ve had a lot of bad news lately.” I was so proud of him and realised in that moment just how grown up he's become.

Jo showed us the X Rays. Nothing wrong with Dusty’s teeth, but an infection had set up underneath one and his blood tests indicated it might have reached his bone. They removed a tooth as it was acting as an incubator for the infection.

He’s now on very powerful antibiotics for three weeks and may need another three week course when that finishes. It’s possible that on one of his chewing sprees (like all puppies, he loves to chew) he has had a splinter go in and set up the infection.

But for now we watch and wait and hope the antibiotics do their work.

I wasn’t going to blog about this, but he does seem improved today if the way he’s been bouncing around is anything to go by. 



He’s not been off his food at all either and boy was he hungry when we got him home!

There was a lot of information to take in, but Lachlan remembered everything Jo said – and Dusty was very happy to see one of his little people had come to bring him home. Not that he’s such a little person now. He’s very grown up and I was very glad to have him there with me.

Harley says she can't believe that on the day after National Cat Day I'm blogging about a dog! (Even if she was very concerned about him!).




But yet again, October, I will be very pleased to see the back of you!


Friday, 24 October 2014

Keep Going Shell and Imposter Syndrome

Sorry – it’s another fishy one, but bear with me – there’s a writerly bit at the end!

This is another rare find on the beach. I always thought it was some sort of extra-large cockle. Whenever we found one, we’d yell, “I’ve found a Shell shell!”



Interesting fact: Shell’s original logo was a mussel.

Well, my extra-large cockle is a Pecten (scallop).  Pecten is from the Roman meaning comb or rake. You can see why it was so called.

Here’s another interesting fact: Scallops have up to 100 bright blue eyes around the edges of the two mantles.

They really are fascinating creatures and you can read more about them here.

Meanwhile, back on the beach we found this.



Big fellow isn’t he? That’s my size six foot in the photo to give some perspective. The tide was almost in, so he must have been there all night, poor thing.

I had never heard of Barrel Jellyfish until I did a bit of research. They’re more likely to be found in the Irish sea, but apparently earlier this year they fetched up round the Cornish coast. They are harmless, peaceful creatures and a favourite food of the Leatherback Turtle.

You know what all this is don’t you? Procrastination. I’ve rag dolls and dresses to make and stories to write, but I’m baking desserts and writing about sea life.

But here’s an article which may be of interest to you writers, “Why Writers are the Worst Procrastinators.”  Actually I think we are the best procrastinators. No one does it better.

It’s a very good article all the same and I really identify with Imposter Syndrome (fear of being found out as incompetent). I know a lot of other writers who feel the same - just waiting for that moment when someone points at you and says, "Hang on a minute, you're not a writer, you're just... you!"


So to distract you from my incompetency, here’s a picture of Naughty and Naughtier during a rare moment of restfulness (note who gets the cushion - the boss of course!).






Friday, 17 October 2014

Mermaid's purse - spooky!

I’ve been hoping to find one of these for ages.



I used to imagine perplexed mermaids swimming about wondering where their purses had gone.

It is also known as a Devil’s purse.

I was quite disappointed when I found out they were empty egg cases. This one is most likely from a skate, but could be from a ray. Sorry I can’t be more precise.

Darn. So no such thing as mermaids after all? Or is there?

I didn’t know a great deal about the egg cases so I looked it up. Apparently they are attached, by the parent fish, to weed growing on the sea bed and sometimes a storm will dislodge the weed and the egg case complete with eggs or babies which is when you find them on the beach.

The cases are made of collagen. I’m glad to say I’ve only ever found empty ones.



The best time to catch crabs is as the tide is going out. The seagulls all know this and sit patiently waiting for the water to recede.

They’d had a feast one day. I saw hundreds of footprints and dozens of bits of crab on the sand bank. It was quite sad really, but the seagulls have to eat. This is a feast on a smaller scale. It appears only one poor old crab was eaten here.



These ripples in the sand were quite close together. They change depending on the weather. Sometimes the ripples are very wide and flat.



This morning I saw a man digging up lugworms (Arenicola marina). They can live for 5 or 6 years (if a fisherman doesn’t dig them up for bait or a hungry sea creature doesn’t eat them) and live in a burrow under the sand.



The casts in the photo are close to the beach and are from very young lugworms (and yes that is a Dusty footprint). The bigger, older ones can be found nearer the low tide line. The cast is made from worm poo as they burrow into the sand, eating nutrients and expelling what they don't need!

So where is this all leading?

I took a photo of the man digging for worms because I thought it made a great shot – silhouette of a man against the sea with shovel. Bear with me – this is where the spooky bit comes in.



This is what I got – and I took several photos of him. So where did he go? He wasn’t there when we walked back. Perhaps he was never there at all.

Maybe he was a merman looking for his girlfriend’s purse…


Cue Twilight Zone music! 

Am I making it up? I'm a writer, what do you think? There was a man there and I did take photos and he wasn't in any of them - but it was very bright and I couldn't see my screen, so I might just have missed him. 



Speaking of making things up, I have a new book on Kindle, Gold Digger & Other Stories. You can read more about it (if you want to of course) by clicking the short story tab at the top of my blog. It contains fifteen tales with a twist.




Saturday, 11 October 2014

Beautiful Morning!

This time last week, Dusty was very poorly. We had to take him out to the vet twice on the Friday – an hour round trip each time, but worth it.

He’d woken up with no bounce at all and he was holding his head on one side and twitching. He looked almost as if he was about to have a fit.

Jo gave him drops for a mild ear infection, but said to bring him back straight away if he got any worse. A couple of hours later, he had a swelling under his chin like half a hen’s egg. It was rock hard and clearly giving him a lot of pain. He couldn’t even rest his head down and was trying to sleep with his head up. So back we went.

Thank goodness for antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. The swelling softened and he started to feel better. But he was still so quiet all over the weekend and didn’t even want to go for walks.

By Wednesday he was back to his normal mad, jumping-about, bright-eyed, full of beans self I am very glad to say. In fact, it seemed to hit him that he’d been out of action for almost a week and that he’d got to make up for lost time! Yesterday when we saw Jo for his follow up appointment, he was absolutely fine.

I’m not even going to mention my toothache. Oh, I just did. It’s been a month now and I have yet another appointment to go back in two weeks. She can’t see what’s causing the pain, so she’s replacing my fillings and putting liners in. I think I have another two to be done – I was in such a state of terror as I crawled out of the chair, I’m not quite sure what she said!

As you know I’m not a fan of this time of year, but this morning made me realise October can be beautiful. Dusty enjoyed himself at the beach.



I was down there at low tide and it was extra low meaning some of the creeks weren’t there and even the big one fizzled out, the further out you went. On my way there, a skein of geese passed by, honking their heads off followed by three swans. Behind me the ducks on the dykes were quacking.

There were cormorants lined up along the edge of the water and the usual huddles of gulls here and there. And it was so still and peaceful.

There were dark clouds gathering over Walton though – or maybe it was Clacton which is just a little further along the coast.



Then again, it looked pretty dark over towards Harwich and Felixstowe too.



Years ago, we used to search the beach for holey stones to use as weights for crabbing. This one would have been perfect.



We called them lucky stones as a stone with a hole going all the way through was meant to bring good fortune.

They are also known as Hag stones, Witches stones and Hex stones and have generally been used to ward off evil by farmers, sailors and just about anyone.

I’ve put mine on the windowsill.

Harley has a new pink collar and pink name tag. She said "It's very pretty, but does it make my bum look big?"



Oh, and I've a new book of ghost stories out on Kindle




It's raining now, not such a beautiful morning, but it was a great start to the day and right now I am feeling very lucky.





Thursday, 2 October 2014

October Giggle Blog

Imogen, 7, has written the book of her life in cartoon form. Pages and pages of her hopes and dreams.





On one page she pointed to a picture hanging on the wall. “That’s you, Grandma,” she said. “I have given you short curly hair because I always draw old ladies with short curly hair.”

I was just very flattered that in her future life when she is a grown up, she’s going to have my picture hanging on her wall.

*
There are several pools at the beach which are nice for paddling in, but there is one which is very deep. I have no idea how deep, but Poppy refuses to go in it at all. Dusty on the other hand, can’t wait to leap in.


video



Hm, a bottomless pool, what might a writer do with that? 

Apologies to anyone who clicked on an earlier link to this post and found it gone! I'd downloaded the video and it had come out sideways. I didn't want visitors to go away with a crick in the neck, so had to get that sorted out (with help from hubby - well okay, actually he sorted it out completely). 

Don't forget to check out the other October giggles from Susan and Lynne (and Sue!)

Happy October!