Monthly Archives: December 2011

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Mistletoe and wine. Lots of wine…

It’s only bloody Christmas Eve!  Can you believe it? I’m not ashamed to say that in the Cook household, we have been feeling particularly festive for ages! Starting from mid-November (some years it’s been late October, I shit you not..!!) the tree goes up and the Phil Spector Christmas CD is put on loop. (I’ve literally just found out that he’s a murderer…we’ll have the Smurfs Christmas Party on next year!!)  We tend to use Katie as an excuse for our festive zeal but this is an honest blog so I’ll admit to turning into a giant child the moment Christmas cards appear in the shops. I love everything about the holidays. (apart from the kids being off school…no-one likes that) I love how everyone looks more attractive under the mistletoe, I love how it becomes more acceptable to drink wine at 1 O’Clock in the afternoon if you put it in a Christmas mug. People are cheerful (falsely, but hey, I don’t expect miracles) the winter air is always fresher and I can sniff tinsel in public without people thinking I’m a complete loon – I’m a sucker for the smell of tinsel, it’s like crack to me.

We even have Christmas toilet paper. It’s nutmeg scented so my lady bits are as festive as I am…
Here’s me with an afternoon Christmas mug of wine:
During the festive period, you can also make children behave with a simple “Santa’s listening!!” Oddly, I’m grateful for Katie’s learning disability in a way, only as she still believes in Father Christmas. It really is very sweet. But that’s not why I love it so much. If she’s misbehaving, from around early November onwards, mum and I need only crack out ‘’Santa can hear you!’’ and she instantly becomes cuter than Shirley Temple. A few weeks back she went through a phase of being a total shit. She shouted, moaned, cried, hit, huffed and grumped her way through an entire week and my mum completely lost her tether and shouted “You know what Katie? Santa doesn’t exist. It’s been mummy all along! You’ve been so naughty that you don’t deserve any presents!” Now, any other child would have cried at those words. Not Katie. This is a child that has survived 9 operations; she’s more resilient than Chuck Norris. For real. She STILL believes in Santa. At 21, her absolute faith in something that brings her joy is unwavering. That’s pretty special. My nan used to berate my mum for keeping up the illusion, but if a girl who has little quality of life can find solace in a fictitious yet ever present figure, why discourage it?  I remember the time I found out Santa didn’t exist. An 8 year old Katie had spent 3 months in hospital. She’d had her birthday in the October and Christmas rolled around and she was still no better. In fact, the January after would be when we’d be told to take her home to die. So we took Christmas-in-a-box to the hospital. She’d woken up to presents at the foot of her bed; pumped full of anti convulsants (that were slowly poisoning her to death – more on that later) hands and feet punctured and tissuing from countless IV’s and being fed through a tube she exclaimed with all the triumph of a well child: ‘He’s been!’ I was 9 and I saw Katie’s reply from Santa on her bedside table. It was in my mum’s handwriting. Now, I was a very logical child (I’d read Moby Dick at 6 and wrote letters to the Tooth Fairy asking her to explain the finer points of magical aeronautics…pretentious doesn’t cover it!) and I knew right away that the whole thing was a farce. I was crushed. Katie has had a life wracked with pain and disappointment, to destroy her tiny bit of pure happiness would be unthinkable. She can be such a ballache but she really is one hell of a special kid and I love her unconditionally for it.
Christmas time is very special. For me, it’s a time not just for receiving new gifts but a time for appreciating the ones you already have.  I’ve had some very close calls with the two most important people in my life. I can’t count the times I’ve been told that I was about to lose them both. Christmas is a celebration of life, the lives of our loved ones. We should appreciate that a year has passed and we’re all still together, for we know not what the New Year is going to dump on us . (In my case, probably a lot more shit scooping and rolling around the living room floor during a night of brandy and the Steve Merchant Hello Ladies DVD I’ve asked Santa for… ;) ) It’s bittersweet that the most wonderful, loving and jolly time of year falls during the coldest month in the calendar. I stole that from The One Show. It’s a metaphor. Lap it up…
Wow. That was pretty poignant! Here, watch a video of Karl Pilkington explaining Christmas to lighten the mood…you’re welcome ;)
Christmas for carers can be very difficult. You don’t really have time off, sometimes the person you care for falls ill / becomes difficult to handle etc. but we just smile and carry on. I sup up, pull a cracker and listen to dirty Christmas Carols to brighten the tone (and to lower it, naturally :p) If you can put all your struggles and grievances aside for one day out of the year and truly appreciate life, even if you have more difficulties than Bob Geldof has trying to get a snog under the mistletoe, then you really have embodied true Christmas spirit.
We used the ‘Elf Yourself’ app, as we do every year, and the results are hilarious. Obviously my mum and Katie have mobility issues so seeing them leaping and dancing around like crazies makes my day! Have a look:
I’m going to sign off for the year now as tonight mum and I will be playing Santa. I’m a little disappointed that Katie wants to leave St. Nick a glass of soya milk and not a glass of brandy / wine / cosmo / mojito (all in the Christmas booze cabinet) because “he needs to lose some weight.”  Bugger. Mum can drink that then..! So from my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas, however you are spending it. I wish you all the best for 2012.
See you next year!!
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Granny for sale…

 I’m back! Here I am, fresh from not one but TWO TV appearances! Don’t worry, I haven’t gone all ‘diva’ on y’all! I’d like to say thank you for all the wonderful support I’ve received re: Text Santa and Central News. You lovely lot! I’ve not blogged until now as I really have been incredibly busy over the last week; mainly writing ridiculously important albeit stroppy letters to the DWP and practising my autograph…
I had a lovely time at the Text Santa live show last week, here’s me inside the ITV Studios:
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And this is me being utterly debauched at our hotel after the show:
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My beautiful friend Sophie and I before the show started:
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We were sat right at the back and I needed to pee the entire time BUT I saw The Wanted in the flesh… Ooh, that Jay. (y’know, the one with the curly hair?) Phwoar! I wanted to roll him into a little ball and put him in my knickers for a bit…
Speaking of undergarments, I have had an utter bollock of a week. Until now I have been far too proud to talk about finances but it’s such a pressing matter in the carer’s community at the moment. (yes, we have a community. We’re not as annoying as Jehovah’s Witnesses but we’re equally as stubborn) Do you remember me likening the government’s treatment of state dependents to being rogered in my previous post? Well I’ve just had my tiny ass well and truly pillaged… A few days ago I received a letter kindly letting me know that my Carers Allowance will be stopping in January. Apparently, taking care of my mum and sister 24/7 isn’t enough to warrant the giant sum of £55 a week that is ICA. What a load of shite. I wouldn’t mind if I had the time to go out and get a job but, unfortunately, amongst all the arse wiping and general mollycoddling there are many days where I don’t even have time to think about knocking one out over a picture of Stephen Merchant, let alone trying to combine caring and working.
I saw on Twitter today that Nike have sent over free football boots to that pointless, ugly fucker Wayne Rooney. It makes my blood boil to think that huge corporations financially support thick plonkers like that, yet our own government shits all over people like me – despite us carers saving them £119billion a year. That is not a typo. I’ll spell it out to reiterate: one hundred and nineteen BILLION pounds a year. I’ve never been so insulted in my life (apart from this one time when a random man said I looked like Carol Decker…cheeky fuck) I don’t usually let things get on top of me but it’s hard not to when, in this world, money is essential for survival. Katie has severe cyanosis –when your extremities turn blue from even the smallest bit of cold – so in these arctic temperatures our heating is on full blast. We’re actually contemplating selling our telly to pay the gas bill. This is plan B, my first thoughts were to sell my Nan but I don’t know where she lives. Typical. It also has to be the TV because mum won’t let me go out and become a woman of the night. Frankly, I don’t think I’d get much interest anyway but it’s the thought that counts.
I’ve decided to just come out and be honest about struggling financially as very few people realise that carers are often living in poverty / considering selling relatives etc. Just because I dress like this:
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and not like this:
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does not mean that I am living in the lap of luxury. Far from it. I’m simply trying to make the best of a bad situation. After all, life can be shit enough without walking around looking like you’ve stolen Britney’s wardrobe and have more STD’s than Frankie Cocozza…

Now, does anyone want to buy a telly?!

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ITV Text Santa

I’m incredibly honoured and excited to be part of ITV’s new fundraising initiative, Text Santa. It’s a big entertainment extravaganza kicking off this Sunday at 9:30pm – after the X Factor. You can text to donate and 100% of raised funds go the the six Text Santa charities. My lovely little family and I are representing Carers UK and are the stars (:p) of their appeal video. We’re feeling pretty proud of ourselves for putting our story out there. Hopefully it’ll rocket me to fame and I’ll end up marrying Steve Merchant and living happily ever after…

Visit the site: www.itv.com/textsanta (this is not a hyperlink. I don’t know how to do them so don’t expect anything tech-y from me. I’ve only just learnt how to comment on my own blog…)

I’d like to give Carers UK a huge shout out as not only are they a brilliant charity, but they know how much I publicly favour the ‘F word’ (they follow me on Twitter…) and have therefore placed a great deal of trust in me by allowing me to be an ‘ambassador’ of sorts. (Not really, I’m impeccably well mannered in public, honest!)

On the subject of Carers UK, I’d like you to please take the time to find out about them, carer or not, as they are doing a fantastic job and really need all the support they can get. I hate to chat politics but it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to, since carers and vulnerable dependents of the social care system are being fucked in the arse by the government. If you’re a carer and you’re worried about how the cuts will affect you or someone you care for, save yourself the ballache of contacting Social Services and give the Carers UK Adviceline a call:

And check out their website for some very valuable information: www.carersuk.org (again, don’t expect working links… )

So, that’s my obligatory ‘serious’ post for the month. Apologies if you’re just using me for laughs, the funnies will be back very soon! Don’t forget to tune into Text Santa tomorrow night. I know you’ll all be watching the X Factor final so you have no excuse!

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Not now, I’ve got a headache…

So I mentioned in my previous post that I won the ‘Carer’s Award’ at The Stroke Association’s ‘Life After Stroke Awards’ in 2007. It was all true, here it is:

It weighs a ton and although I’m incredibly proud of it, I would definitely throw it at a burglar should our house be broken into. I’m pretty paranoid about things happening to the house/mum and Katie, whilst I’m out. (I know I’m only 22 but I’m notoriously old before my time. I have a favourite cardigan and love my cat, Tigger, more than most people.) There have been times when my mum has been confined to her bed (4 achilles tendon surgeries, 5 mini strokes and the removal of an ovarian tumour will do that to ya) and I have been reluctant to leave her alone whilst I go shopping. I read a story on the internet once about a woman who died alone and before anyone found her, she’d been mostly eaten by her cat. Naturally, I overfeed our cat just in case I’m out, mum collapses and Tigger is hungry enough to start nibbling at her unconcious body. It’s costing a fucking fortune in Felix but at least I have peace of mind…

Does he look hungry to you?

Mum and I are sometimes able to go out together for some quality time. (Katie has 15 hours of respite a week which is pretty shit but we’re grateful. She has a better social life than we do…) Now, I don’t want to sound pretentious but in our small town, everyone either knows us or wants to know us. We can’t walk five minutes down the street without someone stopping us for a chinwag. Gets right on my left one. Usually it’s some asshole shouting ”Wow, you’re tall”. Like I hadn’t noticed. ”Fuck me, am I?!! Thanks for letting me know pal…” or ”How tall are you?” ”6ft so you need to be AT LEAST 6’2” for this ride” ;) The other day a guy actually shook my hand when I told him my height, as if he was congratulating me on my success. That’s right, being tall is a craft I’ve been working on. Fuckwit. Anyway, my point is that we only ever have three hours to spend in town and that’s damn precious time! We have bills to pay, food to buy, wine to choose…so what really fucks me off is when people who are familiar with our situation monopolise our time. Sitting in our favourite coffee shop (Caffe Nero: mum’s is a one shot, soya latte and I’ll have a hot, skimmed milk – thank you!) is a treasured moment, as we don’t get chance to have a good old gossip amongst the shit collecting and mothering at home. Just the other day we were deep in conversation (Shag, Marry, Avoid: Dr Christian from Embarrassing Bodies, Denzel Washington, Mr Bean – the results were quite surprising!) when an elderly couple we’re acquainted with plonked their wrinkly asses down at our table and proceeded to dominate the conversation with ‘tips on selling a motor home at this time of year’ and did we ‘know that you can get a fried egg batch from Wetherspoons for £2.20?’ That ballsy little voice inside my head wanted to shout ”if you fuck off now I’ll pay for you BOTH to have a Spoons batch, filling of your choice!” But the well-mannered sap inside prevailed and I waited patiently for their teeth to fall out. They stayed for an hour. A whole, fucking hour! They were like two cockroaches that wouldn’t die. You know, the ones that live for days without their heads. So it begs the question; where do we draw the line between frank and rude? How do you hint that you’d like someone to leave you alone? Respite is incredibly important for carers. We rely on it much like Amy Winehouse relied on crack; it’s an equally volatile relationship. I’ve decided that next time, and there will be a next time because people fucking love us, I’ll just stand up and be honest. So if you see us out, remember: you get to go home at the end of a 9-5 to relax and forget about your day. For us, it’s a 24/7 grind and we love the time we get to spend as mother and daughter. If you’re not invited to join us, piss off and leave us alone. And if you’re offended by that, well, there’s an old couple sat in Wetherspoons enjoying a fried egg batch that would LOVE your company…

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Introducing Me.

If you hadn’t already guessed, (or been bribed by me to read this shit) I’m Amy. I’ve started this blog with the intention of changing the public perception of carers; although it may end up just being a selfish, cathartic outlet for my wine fuelled ramblings about how terrible it is being a carer and how I have to justify the amount I drink to get through it. Carers aren’t all boring, moaning bastards who go to the corner shop in their slippers and claim they ‘don’t have time for a shower’. Well, I can only speak for myself… A lot of us make light of all the horrendous struggles that have befallen us. I mean, there is a funny side to waking up at 7am to find little lumps of shit on the stairs and your mum shouting tentatively from the toilet ”Help…I didn’t feel it come out. I have had a stroke!” You pull on a pair of marigolds, pick up the surprises and laugh about how many hits you’d get if this were on Youtube.

This is my mum. Hot stuff isn’t she? You’d never know she’s had a stroke and shits herself at least once a month:

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So back to me. I’m 6ft and naturally ginger; I didn’t think my life could get any worse until I became the main carer for my mum and sister when I was just 16. Studying for my A Levels (Literature, German and English Language, hold the applause) I was thrown in at the deep end. The kind of deep end you’re only comfortable in wearing scuba gear. My little sister Katie (below – looks like butter wouldn’t melt but in the coming posts you’ll see what a sneaky little a-hole she can be. I still love her immensely though!) had just come out of hospital and was bed bound, tube fed and had very little quality of life.

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My mum suffered her third mini stroke (TIA) and we thought we’d lose her. By ‘we’ I mean me. My grandparents had fucked off on a mini break and I haven’t seen my poor excuse for a father since I was 2. So I took over, like Wonder Woman but with smaller tits. I cooked, cleaned, washed, ironed, fed, bathed, medicated and aspirated Katie’s NG tube (you draw stomach fluid through a syringe to make sure it’s in the stomach and not the lung. Heavy.) all whilst back and forth between home, the hospital and Sixth Form. So that’s the rough outline. I can officially say that I’m an Award Winning Carer as I won the Stroke Association’s Carer’s Award in 2007 for this particular incident. Power to me, I think so! I also model on the side. Here’s proof:

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More on that soon. Check back for more hilarity and tales of my scrapes. I’ll also be posting useful links and tips for carers so don’t just bog off, I’m worth your while I swear.

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