Monday, 23 January 2012

I just can't be King!

After the relief of Friday's scan results, it was a case of full steam ahead for the busy weekend. And boy, was it busy!

On Saturday morning there was a meeting of the Facial Palsy support group, at East Grinstead Hospital. This is a new charity that has been set up and the support group is for people like me, who have facial palsy caused by any reason, to meet a few times a year, share experiences, have speakers, provide support and get the chance to feel that you don't look terribly different from anyone else in the room! Because this is a new group, some people have to travel quite a distance to get to the meetings - there was someone there on Saturday who had travelled from Portsmouth, for example. It makes me realise, once more, how lucky I am to be in the South East of England and near both East Grinstead and the Royal Marsden hospitals. Imagine if I lived in Glasgow and couldn't get along to any support group - I think I would feel just that bit more isolated.

Anyway, back to the meeting. This was the third meeting of the support group and the second Neil and I had attended. At the previous one, in September, I had been fairly quiet (unlike me, I know!) as I wanted to get a feel for the meeting first. However, this time it felt a lot more relaxed to me and I even led a discussion session, having discussed with my speech therapist, who very kindly, along with a colleague, gives up a big chunk of her Saturday to enable this support group to happen. I have to say, it felt good to be at the front of a group, leading a discussion and getting people to work in small groups and then give feedback - almost like being back at work! Perhaps it's because I didn't feel remotely self-conscious about how I looked, because everyone there had some degree of facial palsy.

We were trying to explore ways to make our newsletter and blog come to life a bit more and be useful sources of support and information for us, so we've now got a list of different things to investigate and experiment with. I've volunteered to become more involved with the blog and newsletter and also to take part in a brainstorming session to review the charity's website - what would we, the people whom the charity was set up to help, like to see on there? Because it will be a small group of people working on this, rather than the full support group, Neil and I offered to host this brainstorming session in our home - it's more comfortable and it "demedicalises" things by removing us from the hospital environment. It's also a good discipline to tidy up!

All in all, I felt it was a very useful meeting and of course, getting more involved makes me feel that I can be useful myself and give something back. One of the other members of the group lives quite nearby, so we plan to meet some time for a cup of tea and a chat.

On Saturday evening, Neil and I had been invited to a Burns' Supper at the home of some friends. Agnes, the hostess, is a fantastic cook and whenever we go to their house, she and Russell make us so welcome that the evening always flies by and before you know it, you are glancing at your watch and realise, with a shock, that it's nearly one in the morning! The evening lived up to expectations - the food was wonderful (and plentiful) and we all took turns reading some Burns' poetry. Russell's address to the haggis was superb - much better than my stumbling attempts to read some of Tam O'Shanter! Regardless of nationality (there was a mix of Scots, English and Welsh there), we all tackled some Burns and a great evening was had by all - and yes, when I glanced at my watch, it was nearly one in the morning!

Isn't it great to have a Christmas present in January? When the days feel endlessly dark, it's a long time till the next bank holiday, it's cold and all you want to do is make soup and eat stodge (okay, that last bit might be just me!).....I think January can be quite a depressing month. So, having had such a good Saturday, it was just fabulous to be going up to London with Neil to see the stage version of The Lion King. I loved the film and we had seen the mini version staged at Animal Kingdom in Floriday, but I had wanted to see the full stage version for a long time. Neil got tickets for us both as part of my Christmas present, so he and I set off to the matinee performance yesterday.

It more than lived up to expectations - I'm not sure I can find enough superlatives to describe it, to be honest! It was colourful, a real spectacle, brilliant costumes and sets, great singing and such a good story! Lots of humour (Rafiki, Timon and Pumbaa were superb!) and unexpected touches, like the animals coming down the aisles of the stalls so we could see them go past on their way to the stage. I have to confess that I was crying as soon as the show started, just because I had been looking forward for so long to being there (soppy sod or what!). We both loved the show and, because we had gone to the matinee performance, we had plenty time to find a restaurant afterwards and have a leisurely meal before returning home.

A good weekend, then! I've had a quieter day today, doing some domestic stuff and posting a parcel to Adam with all the clothes he forgot to take with him when he returned to uni last week. I'm off to the gym later with Amy as I have been a bit lax about exercise since my successful summit of Skiddaw last week - I can't rest on my laurels any longer!

No hospital appointments for a fortnight, when I will then have my PET CT scan, so I plan to use the next two weeks to get more paperwork sorted out and to catch up with people (three lunch dates this week - how will I ever find time to return to work?!). At least if I try to keep busy, it might stop me fretting about the scan - that's the plan, anyway!


  1. I'm exhausted just reading all that Ali :) sounds really positive, the support group sound very good.

    I have added Lion King to the list of shows I want to see, the first being War Horse.

    Loon xx

  2. Is the charity set up now? I thought it was on hold. If you let me know the link to the website I'll put it on Thanks!