I know, I know. I've been a very absent blogger. I have great intentions but two very good excuses.
The first is that I am now working full time and have two children. The job I'm doing is taking a little adjusting to as they have some very "exacting" requirements on paperwork, most of which are bizarrely inefficient and seem designed just to increase teacher workload without offering any benefit to the children's learning... but with only a two-term contract I'm not sure that's a battle I'm prepared to fight, so I think I'll just submit and buckle down.
A much more pressing excuse for my absenteeism is that I've spent most of January feeling really very unwell and with ZERO energy. For somebody like me who, umm.... how to put this... aims to be superwoman and be brilliant at everything this has been a very hard month.
To start with I have a virus of some sort. My first week at my new job I was fine, but then on the 11th Jan I suddenly felt awful. It started with a sore throat and jabbing ear-ache and then progressed to a cold and racking cough. THIS HAS NOT GONE AWAY! It's got to the point where I'm coughing so much that I'm sick, I'm coughing all night and my stomach muscles and ribs are very very unhappy.
To add to this joy, it turns out my kidneys aren't working. This is an interesting story, because we wouldn't have found out had it not been for a thorough optician! In October at a normal eye check-up the optician noted a bulge in one of the blood vessels at the back of my eye, and suggested that I should get my blood pressure checked next time I was at the health centre. Two weeks later I did and it was very high, so the nurse told me to come and get it checked again two weeks later - still high. Next I was to see the GP, who told me I probably drank too much tea and coffee, and that I should buy a blood pressure monitor and check my blood pressure at home over a few days, she also arranged for a blood test and dismissed me. The blood test must have shown something interesting because in the few days before Christmas I got a flurry of phone-calls, "you've been referred for an ultrasound of your kidneys", "you've been referred for some more blood tests", "we need to fit an ambulatory blood pressure monitor at 9am on Monday 4th January"... all with no word of explanation from the GP. I said no to the latter. How could I go and have a blood pressure monitor fitted when I was supposed to be starting my new job, and with no way of contacting work over Christmas? I got another appointment with the GP... who didn't even look at the blood pressure readings she'd asked me to take, and who hadn't yet looked at the ultrasound report which had been sent by radiology 2 days previously. She told me there was no evidence of my high blood pressure until I could get the ambulatory blood pressure monitor fitted so I should make an appointment for that, did an examination of me (without even speaking to the two children I'd had to bring with me) and basically dismissed me saying that everything seemed normal. A few days later, when she had the results from the blood tests and the report from the ultrasound man in front of her she obviously changed her mind, because she phoned and told me I had "nephrotic kidneys", she was putting me on blood pressure medication immediately and referring me to a kidney specialist. WHAT? I looked up nephrotic kidneys and thank goodness didn't have half the symptoms of that, so resolved not to see this GP again, who seemed to veer from dismissal to panic and back again, and to wait and see what the kidney man said. He was very calm and matter of fact. He told me that my kidneys weren't working properly and that they needed to find out why, so they would do a biopsy of my kidneys, have a look at the results and then decide what could be done. In the meantime, he doubled my dose of blood pressure tablets to try to bring that down to normal.
That pretty much brings me to now. Over the last couple of weeks I've had increasing pain in my back, which may or may not be to do with my kidneys; increasing fatigue and lack of energy which may be to do with my kidneys, or the fact that I'm coughing all night. On Thursday I went for my pre-op assessment in Birmingham, and then went to the GP (saw a different doctor!) who felt that most of what I'm feeling is down to my cough, and prescribed me some anti-biotics in the hope that we can get rid of that before Monday when I go for my biopsy. After the biopsy I have to take a couple of days off too, so I hope that some enforced rest will help me finally lose the cough before I go back to work on Thursday. With any luck I'll have all my energy back over half-term and for Bug's 5th birthday (and if I don't I'll know that the kidneys are to blame for that). The biopsy results have to go through both microscopy and spectrometry, so I don't see the kidney specialist again until the end of the month, and hopefully he'll tell me that I have something that can be fixed nice and easily.
So, all in all a pretty rubbish January, but hopefully I'm going to start feeling better very soon, and by the end of the month have a plan to sort the rest out. Just reading this back and it seems a bit of a self-pity-a-thon, sorry about that, and if you've read this far, then thanks for sticking with me. Hopefully Mel's smily service as usual will resume again soon.