Posted by: christinelaennec | September 19, 2016

It’s been a time…

I don’t know if I have ever gone so long without posting!  First of all, thank you all so very much for sharing our joy about the Dafter’s achievements.  Many of you have faithfully followed our journey with ME/CFS for the past five years, and your solidarity has meant more to our family than I can express.

I’ve been trying to think of what title to give this post – “It’s been a challenging time”? “Waving not drowning”? “We’ve had a time of it”?  But I think it’s just been a time…

Time in fact has been at an absolute premium in the past five weeks.  I have hardly had a moment to myself, and when I have had an hour here or there I have mostly just slept.  I still haven’t sorted our photos from Harris but I look forwards to doing that and sharing them with you.  I have some time to blog this evening because I am shut up in the bedroom with poor Tilly, who had an operation today.  Instead of a big plastic collar to keep her from pulling her stitches out, she has this fetching post-surgical suit:

Tilly in her post-surgical recovery suit. 19 September 2016.

Camo-cat:  Tilly in her post-surgical recovery suit. 19 September 2016.

(We were joking about how the Dafter should have a “recovery suit”.)  Until we found a lump on her breast last Thursday, Tilly had been enjoying some lovely Indian Summer weather:

Tilly basking in the sun, mid-September 2016.

Tilly basking in the sun, mid-September 2016.

The lump is now removed and along with a lymph gland biopsy is away to the lab.  Results are expected in 7 to 10 days.  This evening she has been very brave, and has been putting her tail straight up when petted.  She’s also purred a bit, which is unusual for her, so I think she is really relieved to be home again.

Cosmos in the garden, September 2016.

Cosmos in the garden, September 2016.

The garden has been pretty neglected this past month.  The Dafter started her college course four weeks ago and it has been a tough old time for her – physically, emotionally and in terms of her concentration.  She has battled on, and I by her side.  She goes to class for two hours, three days a week, and has found that utterly exhausting.  Unfortunately the three days are in a row, with no rest day in between, so she has been spending days in bed afterwards trying to recuperate, and rather dreading going back.  She has been able to keep up with the work, however, which is excellent.  She will try to extend the time she spends in class little by little, if she can manage that.  I pray she will be able to continue.

The Dafter is doing my job!

The Dafter is doing my job!

I had a birthday, and the Dafter and her father organised a lovely day for me.  Look – the Dafter is bringing the birthday cake in!  Michael took the day off work; he has been working absolutely flat out and will be doing so for the foreseeable future, so that was really good.  The Dafter managed college that day, so he and I were able to go for a walk and have lunch together.  Such a treat!

My birthday, September 2016.

My birthday, September 2016.

And I was really spoiled rotten with presents and cards, too.  To top it all off, at choir rehearsal that evening, they surprised me with a serenade.  I’ve never had 30 people sing Happy Birthday to me before!

My midge-induced trigeminal neuralgia (which I wrote about here) has almost completely cleared up now, very thankfully.  I just have to be careful how I touch my left ear.  People are saying that the midges this summer have been the worst in living memory.

Here is an interesting new word:

A new word for 2016.

A new word for 2016.

The joke is based on the nickname for Glasgwegians – “Weegees”.  Do I feel like a “Refuweegee”? I’m not a refugee, thankfully, but I do feel embraced by the people of Glasgow.  I have always felt very welcome in Scotland, since coming here in 1992.  This has been a consolation to me, as in the past few weeks I also discovered the new tax laws for American ex-pats, and the limitations on us in terms of some banking here now.  I’m not going to discuss it further here, but particularly if you know any American citizens living abroad (and this includes any children of theirs, born anywhere in the world), you might be interested in this video.  I am not endorsing this organisation at all, but the video from a Dutch news programme is informative, though it does not cover other aspects of the new laws such as reporting savings.

Another thing that has weighed heavily on me is that my mother has been very unwell.  She is now home from hospital, and it looks very likely that her health problems can be stabilised for some time to come.  Whereas the Dafter was doing much better when my father died, and I was able to be away for 10 days, it’s clear that I cannot make that journey just now.  My family here would pay far too high a price.  My mother has told me that she doesn’t expect me to come, and for that I am very grateful.

For some reason many of my favourite knitted sweaters have worn out recently:

Must keep knitting!

Must keep knitting!

But that is okay, because it means I need to knit more!  I have knit quite a bit over the summer, and will show you that when I get a chance.

I did sew something – a sling to carry the rats about in.  I designed it myself and it works very well:

Rat cosy, September 2016.

The Dafter with her rats, September 2016.

The rats are still shy, but they now come out and ride around our shoulders for a few hours a day.  They love snuggling into a hood, but this has the disadvantage that you can’t really interact with them.  With the sling, you can enjoy their company, and pet them as you go about, which they love.  They are very sweet:

Happy rats being carried in their cosy.

Happy rats being carried in their cosy.

Tilly sees them up on our shoulders, but she doesn’t seem to feel jealous of them.

She is now curled up, trying to sleep a bit.  Tomorrow will be a better day!  And alongside these various worries and problems, I am very conscious that the most important thing in life is relationships.  We are so blessed with our happy family, and it’s the strength we give each other that gets us through challenging times.

I hope this finds you all doing very well, and enjoying the shift to autumn.



  1. I’m really sorry your mother is unwell. That is very hard, especially when you are not able to visit her.
    I do hope the Dafter will be able to keep going on her course. And I send sympathy about poor Tilly. We too have been preoccupied with our cat, Hamish. He came to us as an injured stray, with an open wound in what you might call his armpit, and this is a site where it’s extraordinarily hard to get injuries to heal. The vet has persisted with attempts to repair his injury, but over a year none of them were successful. He ran out of options for further repairs, and we had a choice between giving up on treatment, which would lead eventually to euthanasia, or the rather scary step of amputation of the front leg which was making healing impossible. We went for the amputation, and the cat has done brilliantly. He runs round the garden on his three legs, and climbs the fence to next door, and is a happy, healthy animal. We are glad now that we agreed to doing this. I hope things will work out as well for Tilly. She is a lovely cat.
    I’m familiar with ‘refuweegies’ through my daughter. She is no longer in Glasgow, but she has been involved in activities about helping refugees to settle in Scotland, and circulating information about it.
    I’m pleased your neuralgia problem is improving. That must have been really miserable.

  2. Hi Christine, Sorry to hear about your Mum and poor Tilly. I hope they both recover speedily.

    My husband has an American Mother and hence a US passport. Neither knew of the filing requirement for overseas citizens. I happened upon it on a parenting site and we acted to backfile. It cost us £8,000 ( our entire savings 😦 ) to back file, US accountant fees, advice etc. He didn’t even owe any tax. He renounced citizenship in the end as it was just too complicated to hold US and an EU passport. I also had virtually no economic rights as a non resident alien spouse – I didn’t hold a Green card which would mean better rights as his wife (why would I hold one as an EU resident who doesn’t live in America?!) Grrrr.

    Anyway it’s sorted now. A very sad finish but necessary for a young family of limited resources!

    Hope Autumn brings you great joy with all the colours.

  3. I’m pleased to see that you have posted an update–I had checked several times. Your family is surely under stress at present–difficult to plan more than a day ahead. I’m glad you are participating in a choir–music is a great blessing.
    Hoping the best for Tilly–and of course always hoping that there is a ‘break-through’ in treating ME/CFS/PANDAS–all these horrid and debilitating auto- immune disorders

  4. Belatedly, Happy Birthday, Christine! In the midst of your current challenges, I’m glad you had a good birthday celebration…imagine me in the choir of folks singing to you 🙂
    Cheers for all of you with Dafter’s new schedule. May the Lord continue to strengthen and encourage each of you.
    I’m glad you are getting some knitting done, and that you are feeling better from the midges attack.
    Your rat carrier is very clever, and cuddly.
    May your mom continue to heal, your tax situation be sorted out in your favor, and please give Tilly some love pats from me.
    The last few days of summer have had some rain, and the leaves especially on various Maple trees are developing shades of golden reddish color as Fall gets ready to descend here in Boring, Oregon. Mt. Hood needs a new white cape! xxxx

  5. Belated birthday wishes. I am so sorry to hear about your Mother and Tilly hope they recover quickly, it must be hard not being able to visit with your Mum. Sounds like difficult times once again for the Dafter but she is doing amazing well to maintain the hours, well done her. Take care of yourself.

  6. Hello Christine, so nice to hear from you. Such lovely pictures. Wish your daughter all the best at college. The rats look really comfy I must say. Tilly looks very sweet in her suit, I made a post op. suit for one of my cats out of an old pair of stockings. She hated it, but looked oh so sweet. So sorry to hear about your mother. Not easy to be so far away from a loved one. Can I ask what a Midge is?? The nearest I can think of is “hjortelus flue”, a little fly that lands, drops it’s wings and creeps up under ones hair and bites (Juck!). They usually fly in the Autumn though. I have been plagued with nightmare headaches the past year, but they seem to be less intense this Autumn. It is cronic Migrane. Someone said that: “being happy is all about learning to dance in the rain”. I think there is a lot of truth in that. Not every day is good, but there is something good in every day. Take care of yourself and carry on knitting :), blessings from Pam in Norway x

    • Pam, forgive me for taking over a month to reply to your question! The midge is a very small biting fly. They are tiny, like a black dot or a flying pin-head. The Highland midge is “Culicoides impunctatus”. It’s a particularly virulent type of midge. Some people react to their bites more than others, and some years they seem worse than others. They thrive in damp conditions and are only able to fly when there is little or no wind. They hatch in late spring and are about until the end of summer. In the right conditions, they rise up from the ground in swarms. I’m pleased to say we don’t have your “hjortelus flue” here, although clearly midges on Arran quite like hiding in hair. It’s the first time that has ever happened to me, and I will be taking a bandanna with me on future hikes.
      I was really sorry to read about your headaches continuing – I remember you were having that problem some time back. I really wish you could find something that helped. But as you say, there is something good in every day. Take care of yourself Pam X

  7. Hi Christine, It seems that lots of things have hit at once and that can become overwhelming. Sorry to hear about your mum. Hope Tilly does well. It’s nice that dafter is attending college, and hope that her health will enable her to continue to do so. Glad you had a happy day with hubby. Also looked at the Tax Video, I had not heard about that. It’s like putting out a fishing net to catch the big fish and have netted in all the sprats as well.
    Wishing you all the best. Christy

    • Yes, Christy – the old tactic of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut… Nice to hear from you!

  8. Loved catching up on things! Look at that cute rat snuggler!!!! How fun is that?! Our piano teacher has a rat so today I took a picture of me with the rat — I’ll have to post it one of these weeks. 🙂 Love the pictures from your birthday and the Dafter carrying in the cake!!! So very special! So proud of all of you that college is going forward, despite the huge effort. Praying this can continue. Poor Tilly! I hope she is fully on the mend soon! Always enjoy pictures of your garden. I just did a bit of tidying in mine tonight. It’s always a bit out of control. Must go and get all the itchy pollens or something off of me!

  9. Sending best wishes your way, Christine. So sorry to hear about your mum. The recovery coat is so much better than the plastic contraption. Our daughter’s dog had an operation a few weeks back, and was sent home wearing what the girls called, “Monty’s baby-gro”.

  10. Happy Belated Birthday wishes! So sorry to hear about your mom. That can be difficult. Hope she does better soon. And, Tilly looks like she’s ready to go hunting in her camo, but I’m sure doesn’t feel up to it. Hoping the Dafter will be able to keep up with her studies. One day at a time…
    You have all been under a stressful time and prayers are going up for better days and some relief. It’s nice to hear from you. ♥
    Hugs, Anne♥

  11. So sorry to hear about your Mom and all of the rest including Tilly. What a nice birthday, many more to you. Hoping that things turn better for all of you very soon. And have fun with the knitting.

  12. Belated birthday wishes to you! So sorry to hear of your mother’s illness. She sounds very understanding about your not being able to go to her. Shame about the Dafter’s new challenges, but she seems to be taking them on resolutely. I love your rat carrier, especially the fluffy material inside!

  13. Merci pour ce nouvel article que vous avez trouvé le temps d’écrire malgré tout le travail que vous avez à faire et tous les soucis que vous avez à affronter ! J’espère que les nouvelles de votre maman sont meilleures et qu’elle se remet doucement. J’espère qu’il en est de même pour Tilly et que votre fille continue à pouvoir faire face à ce nouveau challenge. Bon courage à vous tous. Je suis comme vous, espérant presque qu’un de mes tricots se déchire pour pouvoir entreprendre un nouveau projet ! C’est cependant dommage pour le vôtre qui était si beau et devait être si agréable à porter ! Nous avons aussi des rats….mais dans notre silo à compost. Chaque été il y a des naissnances et nous pouvons ainsi suivre l’évolution des petits….Ils disparaissent ensuite tous dans la nature toute proche ! Pour finir, joyeux anniversaire à vous et bon courage pour les jours à venir.

  14. A very happy belated birthday, Christine! How lovely to have the choir sing to you and I’m so glad you were able to have some time off to celebrate with Michael. It’s nice to see these happy pictures of the Dafter (great rat-carrying sling, by the way), and I hope she finds a way to cope with three days of college on the trot each week. I’m sure that is quite a challenge for her. I’m very sorry to hear about your mum, but glad that you don’t feel pressure to dash across the Atlantic. I hope she’ll continue to do well with her recovery after hospital. I hadn’t heard the word ‘Refuweegee’ but I think it’s braw, and Tilly’s camouflage suit is extremely fetching. Hopefully it will aid her swift recuperation.

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