Easter is over, hurrah!

I’ve had quite a bit of chocolate in the house, anyone who knows me will be aware that I prepare early for Easter and Christmas. Now, it’s all been allocated to grandchildren and their is none in the house. I did not succumb to temptation and it is three weeks today since I gave up chocolate. Yay! Only 49 weeks left.

Recently, someone asked me if I am missing chocolate. I’m actually finding it easier than I thought it would be. I do buy a lot of chocolate, but I don’t eat a lot of chocolate. That’s a paradox, isn’t it? I always like to have chocolate in the house for when the grandchildren might pop in. At the weekend we slightly broke the rules and had more than guidelines allow, because children don’t count. We had a duckling hunt. My ducks had been kidnapped and I had to send out a search party to find them scattered around my garden. Obviously, they were chocolate ducks, there were nine of them and they all had names. I did not allow any eating until they had all been found and Lexi had the list to tick them all off when they had been rescued. We had some fun and I then needed to release the rest of the chocolate from the hostess trolley. It’s a good thing that I buy the bunnies early because the supermarkets ran out early this year. Most of them were in my trolley as I had about 27 in varying sizes. Laura, my youngest daughter was astounded and convinced that the bunnies had been breeding. She shouldn’t be surprised, she knows her mother well.

When I die, I want to be remembered. I’m not saying that I won’t be remembered, but I want to be in the memory bank for being the Nonna who gave them posh chocolate. One of the things in my memory bank about my grandmothers is the Terry’s chocolate oranges given at Christmas and which I endeavoured to make last until the end of February, because I knew that I wouldn’t have another one until the following Christmas. I can probably cut down on my chocolate buying and Laura told me that Meadow would be very happy with a punnet of strawberries, so perhaps I could be a little bit restrained at Christmas.

Missing chocolate for me is a very insignificant thing compared to the other things I am missing far more. We had a good time on Saturday and it was an absolute delight to see my grandchildren who haven’t visited since Christmas Day, but I haven’t seen my mum and dad since October last year. This is the longest time since I hugged my mum and dad and although we talk and FaceTime, it’s just not the same. Missing that feeling of someones arms around me or a stroke of my hand with loved ones has been the worst thing through this pandemic and it makes chocolate seem really trivial.

I’m sorry my blogging has been a bit random lately but things sometimes get in the way. Now that Easter is over and there is no chocolate in the house I will get back to a routine.

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Still staying strong

I’m on my second weekend without chocolate. At the moment it is surprisingly easy to go without chocolate, but I also know that there are going to be challenges ahead. Easter is approaching and the lure of Lindt Bunnies will be calling. I have bought Easter eggs for my grandchildren and the bunnies are breeding in my hostess trolley, which is where I hide everything. It has in the past been a hidey hole for excess tea bags and wine. It has contained Christmas presents and once a year at Christmas it is actually used as a hostess trolley.

Last week my Mum asked me how I was going to cope over Easter. I haven’t exchanged Easter eggs with anyone over the age of 18 for many years, so nobody gives me Easter eggs. Consequently going without at Easter is not a hardship. I can’t say the same for hot cross buns which I seem to be consuming to replace the chocolate. I have always bought chocolate so that it is in the house, but I have not always been the one to eat it. I just like it to be there. It’s my safety blanket.

I wanted to work out how to import some graphs and charts to demonstrate my ongoing progress throughout this year. I can tell you that there are 354 days left which is 5664 hours allowing for 8 hours a night sleeping time when I don’t dream about chocolate. My dreams are usually about my childhood and how much smarter and cleverer I would have been if I had concentrated more in class with less day dreaming about boys! I can give you these figures but I wanted to show you a graph which contained emotions, anxieties and smugness. I would like to have an ongoing pie chart with weeks ticked off, coloured into different shades which I could use to show how my challenge is moving on. However, this needs work. I have Numbers on my Apple laptop, but I have never worked out how to use them. Again, if I had been clever I would have worked these things out instead of bewailing my computer inadequacies. I will work on this over the weekend and possibly insert numerical data on Monday.

Have a great weekend everyone

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I’m so hungry!

I nearly blew it yesterday afternoon. I had a shortbread finger and I could have had another, but then I remembered they are probably full of sugar and fat. Waitrose title them as ‘All Butter Fingers’ , I guess they are probably full of butter. Waitrose don’t miss-sell, do they! With that in mind it occurred to me that there were chocolate bunnies in the kitchen and I thought that just one wouldn’t hurt. All I could think about was the melting chocolate sensation in my mouth and I was so close, luckily they were out of my reach.

I have to find healthy alternatives. Nobody fantasises about carrot sticks, although they would be the sensible thing. As I’m lactose intolerant, working on the basis of an 80/20 diet ie 80% of the time I am good about not eating lactose and 20% of the time not so good, chocolate was the 20%. Giving up chocolate for a year should help me soothe my stomach aswell as helping my weight. Now I need to examine what I can eat that is not chocolate. I have been browsing Waitrose website and Sainsbury’s just to be fair. I found rice cakes of different flavours, many have chocolate chips or are coated in chocolate but there are caramel flavoured and if I fancy savoury they do salt and vinegar flavour, I have bought a few of those. I like oat cakes and can anyone explain to me, why are they advertised as gluten free at 20% higher price when oats are naturally gluten free? A slice of cheese on top of an oat cake would satisfy my stomach until dinner. I like peanuts, salted obviously and I have found some rice crispy cakes with marshmallow, yum!

I have always been worried about being bossy to my PAs, and I don’t like to ask to have lunch organised for me, but I need to be more assertive and explain what I do need to help me to do the things I can’t do through the afternoon to help me stick to this challenge. I forget sometimes that the girls who work for me aren’t psychic and I need to tell them more often what I need help with, without coming across as being demanding.

It’s a childhood thing, ‘I want never gets.’ An adage from growing up.

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Week one done

I’m not a size 8 yet, disappointing, but I haven’t been for about 50 years so maybe I’m expecting too much. The problem is because I have replaced chocolate with shortbread.

I’m quite keen to keep a numerical record of my progress through this year. Obviously, this blog will help, but I feel I need more. And to that end I have done some calculations. Only 358 days to go, 8592 hours remaining, I sleep 8 hours every night so that leaves 5728 waking hours to not think about chocolate.

Tomorrow is the 23rd of March. A momentous day. Exactly a year ago we all experienced lockdown for the first time ever. I don’t know if they went into lockdown in the Black Death or Spanish Flu. I’m pretty sure we didn’t in the First World War and history tells us that we didn’t in the Second World War. However, do you think it was an over reaction to lockdown? In the Second World War, children kept their gas masks beside them at school. There was rationing, very little in the way of sweets and definitely no chocolate until the Americans arrived and they bought it with them. We knew there was a reason why they saved the war for us! The children wore their tin hats, but they still went to school, that was for five years. Adults weren’t furloughed or advised by Winston Churchill to ‘stay at home’. Life carried on throughout bombings, explosions and the possibility of German aircraft falling out of the sky. In my opinion in those days people were made of sterner stuff. Over the 5 years between 1939 and 1944, 75 million people were killed, that is the whole population of this country. Some people died, either shot, bombed, disease and starvation. So far globally in this pandemic approaching 3 million people have died. There were people who were lucky and escaped, their were some who miraculously survived against all the odds and the same thing is happening now. Some 40 year olds have been taken too soon and some 90 year olds have pulled through COVID despite the odds.

I appear to have wandered away from the chocolate deprivation! It’s self inflicted but at least week one is done. If I can survive a year of lockdown and all the things that we have missed out on like hairdressers, restaurants and theatres I think that this year should be a piece of cake, at least I know there is an end in sight, unlike the lockdown, which might be a moveable feast.

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Day 6: Still Staying Strong.

Well here I am on Saturday still resisting chocolate. Yesterday, Henry and Meadow, two of my lovely grandchildren, came to tea. They pulled a fast one on their Nonna and Grandad. They found a couple of Lindt gold bunnies and they told their Nonna, that Grandad had said they could have them, and they told their grandad that Nonna had said yes! They discovered the stash of chocolate meant for Easter. I do stock up on chocolate over Easter and Christmas, so it doesn’t matter if they eat them early because I’ll just buy more.

I haven’t found this as difficult as I thought I might, although I haven’t made it a week yet, so watch this space. I like posh chocolate, unfortunately that’s the most expensive chocolate. Supermarkets run offers on Cadbury’s often, I don’t know how they manage to sell it so cheaply, but a big bar can usually be bought for a pound, whereas Lindt and Green & Blacks costs twice as much. But lets face it they taste much better. I’ve got a confession to make. NO, I haven’t given in but I’ve given away my stash to the Orange Blossom Bakeshop, who create the most fantastic chocolate brownies. The brownie maker happens to be one of my daughters and it seems only fair to treat the other daughter in the same way. This might mean more chocolate comes into the house, but I promise I won’t be eating it.

I haven’t got a lot to blog about today this is short and sweet. Hopefully they’ll be more next time. Keep reading.

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Chocolate challenge day 3, 4 and 5

I am sorry I have missed the last couple of days, my typing is rubbish and you might end up with random numbers and letters because my fingers don’t lift off the keyboard. I was adding something to yesterday’s blog which had been typed by one of my PAs when I accidentally deleted it! That will teach me to save more often.

Anyone who knows me well would say that I am a bit of a chocoholic. Most people have laughed at my decision, they have said, ‘Why would you do that just before Easter, you will never stick to it, why do you want to do that anyway?’ Well I will stick to it, I am determined and anyway it’s a challenge.

I have always enjoyed chocolate, well ever since I have been able to choose to eat chocolate. Obviously when I was a baby, I couldn’t, but when I got my own pocket money I always wanted to buy it. My Nanna worked part-time in Martins a newsagent in Chandlers Ford and I took my threepenny bit and spent it wisely. Just thinking now I am transported back to being ten years old and the anticipation and thrill of first, seeing my Nanna and second choosing a weeks worth of sweets from the array of jars that lined the back wall of the shop. I vividly remember a little white paper bag being placed on one side of a set of balance scales with a 2oz weight placed on the other side. I loved white chocolate mice, they even had a tiny string tail attached in those days, but I knew that I would not get as much for my money as they weighed heavier, so they were a luxury. The Jazzies, chocolate discs with hundreds and thousands were lighter and I chose both white and milk chocolate. White chocolate shaped into milk bottles were added to my paper bag and I can remember watching carefully incase the scales tipped before I had filled the bag enough to last me a week.

In a different newsagents, at a different age, 14, I would skip breakfast, rush out of the house and spend hard earned cash on a Mars bar and eat it on the way to school. As you can see, chocolate is a big part of my life. I am missing Lindt bunnies and Cadbury’s cream eggs, but here is the thing. It takes me much longer to unwrap the damn thing than it does to eat it, so I’m not missing that much.

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No chocolate, day 2.

Yesterday was easier than I was expecting. I’m sure that you, my reader thought that I would cave in, and a part of me wasn’t sure about my willpower either, but I held out so let’s see if I’m still on course on day 175!

At about 3pm yesterday afternoon if the chocolate had still been available I might have given in. It’s the time when I am most vulnerable. I have breakfast around 9.30, I usually skip lunch, generally because I can’t think of anything that I would like to eat. If I had had toast for breakfast I don’t want more bread at lunchtime, so I can’t think of anything that takes my fancy. Of course, with all the money I will save on chocolate I will be able to have smoked salmon every day, but it’s not showing on my bank balance yet! Consequently I am a bit peckish by 3 o clock. I might be watching my TV and a “little something” would do very well.

I can think of all the things which could replace the chocolate fix. I can have fairy cakes, shortbread biscuits, marshmallows or fudge. That’s just the sweet things. Easter is coming and shops are chocka block with hot cross buns, there is no chocolate in them, well, Waitrose do a nice chocolate orange, but they also have a rum and raison. I could have cheese straws, popcorn, cherry tomatoes, cheese squares or pork pie. When I think about it, chocolate is a very small part of the deliciousness of things to eat.

I just need to stock up on small enjoyable food snacks to get me through to 6pm, when I can have the occasional glass of wine.

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My year without chocolate. yes seriously!

I am giving up chocolate for a year. Some of my readers will now be laughing, choking on their toast, splitting their sides at the thought of me making such a bold decision.

Sometimes, when I am laying in bed at night I have ideas. I can often write eloquently and free flowing in my head. I would be a famous author by now if only I could remember it in the morning. The idea of giving up chocolate for a year came to me at 3am on Sunday morning.

As you can imagine I have quite a bit of chocolate in my house. I was going to collect up all of the chocolate yesterday, but I ran out of time with my PA and I didn’t want to ask Husband in a Hurry to help me. He would not understand, he hates being Husband in a Hurry! I have done it this morning and even I am horrified.

I intend to blog every day to you my reader about this journey. I will tell you of the emotions that I go through, I will talk about my weight, which I don’t know as we have discussed in previous blogs, I can’t find anyone with scales for a wheelchair user. I will add up the calories that I save over a year and the fat that will miraculously drop off my body.

I am giving up Cadbury’s, Lindt, Green and Blacks, Galaxy, Nestle and Divine. I give notice to chocolate companies that their profits may drop. I have listed all the chocolate in a notebook with calorie content, fat content and sugars. Over the coming months you too will be astounded at the shocking figures that we consume without realising. I will talk about ease in which we eat chocolate without thinking about it or realising what it might be doing to us.

I’m not going to be sanctimonious or preachy about the next year, you can do what you want but this is my challenge and I am determined to stick to this, so come with me if you want to accompany me.

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The State of Play Today

I’m usually a fairly positive person. I try to find the good side of most things and I think I succeed. However, today is not a day for feeling positive. Sometimes things just gang up on me and all come at the same time. Let me tell you about it.

No. 1, I’m feeling tired. I’ve had an exciting couple of days when I’ve seen Mum & Dad and had birthday presents. That’s all good isn’t it? But whenever there’s a high there’s always a corresponding low and I would normally just give myself a good talking to and ‘get over it’. I’ve eaten well over the last few days, which I don’t often do, I’ve enjoyed good company and lots of humour. I’ve had some enjoyable face-to-face conversations and I’ve extended my birthday week into October. All good. These are the days that make my life special and I enjoy them so much, but with MS there’s always a kick-back, it catches up with me and I have to take things slowly for a while.

No. 2, today we’ve had some bad news, a good friend from Romsey days, when I still lived at home, passed away. Graham, along with his wife Doreen were a support network to me during my teenaged traumas. I baby-sat their sons and I took it for granted they’d always be there. Graham had survived a bout of cancer and seemed to be doing well. He was always the life and soul and he used to make me laugh, a lot. Moving to East Sussex somehow became less scary knowing that they lived in the same county and not too far away, even though we didn’t see them much. I am aware that as I age I will lose more loved ones, but it’s never going to get easier.

No.3, is the weather. Hasn’t it rained enough yet? When I woke up this morning it was grey and I thought, here we go, more of the same. However, it brightened up and at breakfast the sun was shining. Obviously, it wouldn’t last and we’re back to grey skies, cold wind and more rain. Apparently, the garden wants it. Tough.

It’s incredible the difference that the weather can make to my mood. As I said goodbye to Mum & Dad this morning, in the bright sunshine, I felt positive about the time we’d spent together and looked forward to the next visit. Yet, when the bad weather set in I just felt lonely and despondent at their leaving. In warmer weather, I might have been able to accept Graham’s passing with sad resignation. He died peacefully surrounded by his family. At the end of the day that’s what we’d all want. But, today, in the rain, I feel the loss for Doreen and their boys, but also a loss for part of my childhood.

It’s more common than people think to be affected by the weather. We harness it’s power for energy and globally we are subject to it’s changes. Climate change is here and if we are smart we can use it to our benefit and make it work for us. It still influences our feelings and emotions and we’re never going to get the better of that.

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The gift that just keeps taking

When I was diagnosed with MS I was unrealistically optimistic about my future. I knew what might happen, but I didn’t really expect some of the more unpleasant symptoms to happen to me. I knew that it was possible that I might become incontinent, use a wheelchair or lose my sight but I wasn’t going to let that happen to me, was I?

Over 40 years they have, well I haven’t lost my sight and I can probably live with the others as long as I don’t go blind. However, I want to talk about some of the other unexpected losses that have certainly happened to me and changed the way I am as a person.

I would like to think, no, I know, that I was brought up with good manners. It’s inherently clear to me how I should behave in certain situations. I learned how to eat nicely and politely with a knife and a fork at the same time, I knew how to hold a cup and a saucer and tea was poured from a teapot. I could apply makeup expertly. I walked in heels and I could wear shirts with buttons that did up all the way to the bottom, indeed I could do up buttons! Well, here’s how it is now for me.

  1. Like most people, with or without MS I need to stay hydrated. We all know about the de rigeur 2 litres a day of water, although it doesn’t have to be water, it can be tea but not coffee nor alcohol. At some point into my journey with MS I needed to use a drinking straw so that I avoided the accidents with fluids. I’m not sure exactly when that happened, but I would think that it was around the time that I could no longer afford carpet cleaning.
  2. I used to know and practice drinking from a champagne coupe, dish shaped of course, by holding the stem and sipping without tipping it down myself. The aromas of an alcoholic liquid in my mouth are lost when it is drunk through a straw. It’s very difficult to appreciate wine when it’s passed through a straw.
  3. I used to eat nicely. ‘Don’t put too much in your mouth and swallow one mouthful before you put any more in’ I was taught. Well, that doesn’t happen any more. I am very aware that it is not particularly pretty watching me eat. The haphazard process of loading my fork and balancing it over the 8 inches between the end of the table and my mouth is precarious to say the least. I can’t lean forward because all my core muscles have packed up and left for the coast. So restaurants are a challenge.
  4. Long gone are the days for me to choose from an extensive menu. I look at a menu in a restaurant now and I eliminate 60% of the choices because there are digestive implications in many of them. I avoid vegetables, lactose, gluten and anything that might resemble close to soya. I don’t know if anyone else has this irritation, but I cannot afford to be too far from my own bathroom, my hoist and PA on call.
  5. I get very frustrated when I can’t reach things physically and mentally, my brain tells me I can do something but my body says ‘Ha!’ I think I can bake chocolate chip cookies, which is okay until I need to reach the eggs in the fridge, on the high shelf and guess what? I can’t stand up. I think that I can dust the top of my picture frame. Well, if I could get in to the cupboard under the stairs to grab the feather duster I could reach the top of the picture frame and again my mind thinks it’s possible but the door frame around the cupboard says no to a wheelchair.
  6. I love writing. This is a constant obstacle for me to overcome. This works on 2 levels really, or doesn’t: a) my fingers just won’t do as I expect of them anymore. They will type, but it is totally unrecognisable as a sentence. Semi-colons, commas, numerical digits are interspersed with random letters. If I was typing for Bletchley to hinder intelligence I’d be okay. It certainly is an Enigma. b) my MS brain can’t always access the correct word for the correct use. I can identify that it begins with ‘Irr’ or ‘Act’ but the random things that come into my head are completely unsuitable for my need.

These are a few of the new and problematic issues when residing with MS. I don’t know how anyone else handles these daily challenges, but I would love to know.

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