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‘We Need A Cure!’ – Why I Don’t Ever Say That On Here (And Also Why I Understand Why Others Do).

11 Oct

I love September as in my mind it’s the start of Autumn (my favourite season).  I run to my own timetable and declare the 1st of September to be the first day of Autumn (even though it isn’t) because I love it so much and I don’t really care that I am factually incorrect.  I get all happy and excited and start taking waaaaay too many photos of red and brown leaves, conkers on the ground and squirrels running around with horse chestnuts in their mouths.  I’m probably quite irritating with it.
What I didn’t realise this year is that September had been selected as ‘Hydrocephalus Awareness Month’ in America by the Hydrocephalus Association (HA), a worthy organisation which focuses on finding a cure for hydrocephalus as well as providing information and community resources for those affected by the condition in the States.  Whilst I am all for raising awareness for medical conditions (writing this blog does that a little I suppose), I do sometimes struggle with the many ‘we need a cure now!’ messages regarding hydrocephalus that find their way onto my social media pages (I get tagged a lot!).  I never post them.  The first thing I do is untag myself so they don’t show up on my account.   The reason for this is because whilst I do think that yes, a cure for hydrocephalus would be a wonderful thing which would alleviate a lot of suffering for people all over the world,  I have personally found that doing what I can to improve my life right now, with hydrocephalus, makes me feel far more hopeful than holding out for someone else to come up with an outright cure and solve all my health problems for me.  A total cure may well not happen in my lifetime; after all, hydrocephalus has been affecting people on planet Earth since human brains developed.  Hydrocephalus symptoms were regularly described by Hippocrates (born 460 BC; that dude is old) – and so far a cure has still not been found, despite the awesomely jaw-dropping developments in medicine which have kept us all alive thus far.
The actual causes of hydrocephalus can be in themselves a bit mystifying.  I suddenly got it out of the blue when I was 26 after a gym session…well, maybe I didn’t actually develop it right that second but that’s the very moment the headache which I still have now made itself known.  The docs never discovered a concrete reason for it.  And I have a very complex case which has proved notoriously difficult to effectively treat over the years as even the teeniest adjustment in pressure causes my brain to throw a complete, over-the-top, diva-esque hissy fit of a tantrum.  My neurosurgeon, who is the top in his field, told me he’s not even sure which category I should fall under!  So for a total cure to be found which will suit everyone…well good luck to those who are trying.  And I honestly mean that ever so sincerely.
Shunts, to me, are downright amazing.  Yes, they fail.  Yes, they get infected.  Yes, we have to undergo a brain surgery to put them in, take them out and fix them.  But if it weren’t for that unassuming device in my brain right now, I’d be dead.  Simple as that.  And I’m really glad I’m not dead because then I’d be missing out on Autumn.
To me, the most positive thing I can do whilst living with a condition which hurts every day and for which there is no cure is to live my life in the best way possible; to try and socialise, to try and work, to try and do all the little, strange things which make me happy and to deal with the bad days (usually by keeping myself to myself and just getting through them knowing that they, too, will pass).  The reason I’m writing about all this today is that some of the messages I’ve seen on social media highlighting the ‘need for a cure’ and the call for ‘no more brain surgeries’ (which has been highlighted by ‘#nomorebs’ on social media) have worried me a bit.  Whilst I understand the sentiment – and frustrations! –  behind these messages, I also feel they are not all that helpful to people like myself, who have and will face more brain surgeries in order to survive.   No alternatives to brain surgery in terms of treatment are offered in these social media posts demanding an end to brain surgery…what are the choices for us if not that?  There are actually ways of treating hydrocephalus symptoms without a shunt in some cases…medication to reduce the amount of CSF production if the individual’s brain is able to drain a small amount on its own…but in cases like mine, where I’m 100% shunt-dependant, there is no alternative.  So to present brain surgery as nothing but negative to me is not that helpful.  Those of us who’ve been through brain surgery or surgeries know…it’s not good.  It sucks.  We’d all love to never have another one, ever.  But if you’re reading this and you’ve had a brain surgery, you’ve survived it, got through it and are well enough to be sat here reading.  So hey, we’re alive from that brain surgery!  We rock!  Virtual high-fives all round!
I would say that although I get the hope behind the particular campaign I’ve mentioned, although I understand the desperation felt by families of children and individuals facing their umpteenth surgery, for me focusing on the here-and-now is the best way to cope.  One hour at a time, if you like. Maybe one day there will be a cure.  Maybe one day there will be ‘no more brain surgery!’.  But right now, even though all those healthcare professionals and researchers are working as I type to achieve just that, we don’t have a cure and we will have to face more brain surgery (most likely).  So I say focus on the positives.  Don’t dwell on what you’ve missed out on due to being ill.  Think about what you can enjoy, NOW, since you recovered from that surgery.  Don’t regret the negative impact that surgery and illness may have had on your education and career.  Think about firstly what a freaking achievement you’ve made getting through what most people would never want to face.  Think about what you CAN do in terms of work and study…and adapt accordingly.  You may have to do things a little differently to the way you’d imagined but I’ll bet there is a whole load you can do with time and consideration.  If you’re struggling with your symptoms, talk, talk, talk to your surgeon and team about options.  If you’re hitting brick walls with that, go to your GP for a referral.  If you gather the support of friends and family and keep focused on what YOU can do, even though I know it’s hard when you’re feeling generally crap, you can make changes for your own life, no matter how small and that can feel so empowering.  And then you can leave the hunt for a cure and no more brain surgery to the pros whilst you marvel at the positive changes you’ve made, for you, right now.
I do hope we will one day have a cure.  And I totally get and respect all those who are crying out for one.  But I also say it’s okay to look at your situation and think ‘okay, this isn’t how I planned things and it feels really bad right now.  What can I do?’.  And if the #nomorebs social media hashtag comes true, great…just don’t forget to thank #brainsurgery for all it’s done for you so far because without it you most likely wouldn’t be revelling in the beautiful colours of Autumn and the cutesy little squirrels and the smells of bonfire smoke and…what do you mean, ‘that’s just you’?!

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Humour And Healing; Link To The Live Audience Q&A I Did In August

7 Sep

Sorry for the delay folks!  This video had to be taken down to edit something out for a couple of weeks so I couldn’t access it until it was finished.  If you haven’t seen the film ‘The Big Sick’ I’d really recommend it; it was so much better than I’d anticipated and really addressed many issues which I think we all face from time-to-time in our hospital/illness experiences!  Dr Khalid Ali is a lovely guy; such a pleasure to be able to do this with him.  We had many people watching from all over the world as it was streamed live and it was a big surprise to meet one of my blog readers afterwards who’d come along specially…so lovely to touch base!

Anyway, hope you enjoy this…and no, I had not idea I move my hands and arms so much when I’m speaking!!  Next time I shall be sitting on my hands….

Here’s the link:

Humour And Healing; Live Discussion

Jordan xx

‘Health And Humour’ live discussion reminder.

13 Aug

Hi everyone, I hope you’re all having a great weekend. I’ve had a few emails from readers asking for a reminder about the live audience Q&A I’ll be taking part in today. It’s at 3.30pm GMT (in fact in exactly 3 hours time) and you can see it live from the Lewes Depot Facebook page (just give ’em a like). Here’s the link;

https://www.facebook.com/events/140502793204217/?ti=as

If you can’t see it live, it’ll be available to watch at any time afterwards. 

See you soon! Jordan x

Going Live! Fancy Joining Me?

3 Aug

Hello good people.  Just a quick notice: I have been asked to speak at an audience Q&A following a screening of new film ‘The Big Sick’ on the topic of the role of humour in healing later this month.  I’ll be discussing the issue with Dr Khalid Ali and the event will be broadcast live from Lewes Depot Cinema (where I currently work) on Sunday the 13th August at 3.30pm London Time (BST).  You can find details of it here and if you fancy tuning in live on the day all you have to do is like or follow Lewes Depot on Facebook and you can watch it for yourself.  I’d like to say I’m not nervous about this but I am a bit.  However I think it could be an interesting discussion as personally, I couldn’t cope with all those brain surgeries without a hefty dose of humour thrown in.  However, I know this doesn’t always suit everyone.  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts; send them in!  Hope you can tune in and join me.

Jordan x

 

 

The Best Day Of My Life: October 25th, 2014

1 Nov
It’s My Party & I’ll Have Two Birthdays If I Want To!

Getting out of hospital on the 13th October, 2013 with my head churning from a disastrous ICP bolt removal, I knew that the probability of celebrating my fortieth birthday in style on the 24th October was highly unlikely.  In my fantasy I had planned a suitably joyous birthday bash with all my favourite people, some live music from my musician friends and maybe a theme to add a bit of fun (I’d been toying with the idea of Paris).  In reality, I spent the day lying on the sofa, too ill to get dressed and too nauseous to even take one bite of the cake my family had tentatively carried in.  Happy fortieth!  Never mind, I thought; I’ll have a party in a month.  Fast forward seven months and continuous pressure adjustments on my shunt to try and restore me to some semblance of my pre-surgery ‘normal’, I abandoned the idea of having a very-very-very-very-belated fortieth birthday party and instead decided to celebrate it on my forty-first; well, the Queen can have two birthdays in the same year – why can’t I?  In June this year, I decided that I was going to go for it.  Planning anything in advance is always a bit of a nightmare for obvious reasons; I simply cannot rely on my health to get me through an event.  It’s too erratic and unpredictable.  And over the past fourteen years, I have had so many cancelled birthdays I have nearly lost count.  But sometimes in your life you just have to decide that you are not going to be completely dictated to by a concern, fear, medical condition or whatever it is that may make you stop and think twice.  Sometimes you just have to go for it.
The planning of this event (I have to call it an ‘event’ now that it’s past and happened; because it really, truly was) nearly sent me back into hospital.  Never before have I had to organise such a large do for myself (for work parties and colleagues yes…but then you’re not paying for it which makes making big decisions a lot easier!).  Mum, Dad and I visited numerous venues (all of which were lovely but all of which cost hundreds if not thousands for one afternoon, which was a bit baffling…this wasn’t a wedding!), my friends and I discussed numerous potential themes, I had numerous sleepless nights wondering why on Earth I had thought that this would be a good idea and had numerous changes of guest list (being limited by a budget is never good but hey-ho; we’re not part of the Rockefeller dynasty).  What I eventually learned was a very simple lesson, not unlike the one that Dorothy learns in The Wizard of Oz; to find your hearts desire, all you have to do is look around you and reach out to the friends and family you have.  Super-schmaltzy?  Yes.  True? Yes.  Just as I was starting to despair of finding a suitable, affordable venue and not really sure on what I even wanted to do any more, my friend Phill called me to see how I was.

Lovely friend Phill

Lovely friend Phill

Phill and I have known each other for about twenty years; I met him through my brother, worked with him on The Artists Web for a few years and as he is a musician, sang with him in numerous gigs as well as doing backing vocals on each of his albums.  Phill is a kind, giving, funny and caring man.  So much so that as soon as he heard about the party dilemmas I was having, he offered me the use of his house for free.  I feel I shouldn’t just write ‘his house’; a more accurate description would be ‘his mahoosive Regency townhouse which he’s just completed after six years of restoration and which is now being used for photos shoots for Paul Weller and for weddings and which is like stepping back in time’.  It’s a breathtaking house.  Having spent a lot of time with Phill whilst he was undergoing the renovations (he literally stripped the entire house back to its original layout and researched the colours that would have been used, uncovered original mouldings and features, hand-scrubbed about a gazillion original hinges/locks/keys with a toothbrush to keep the authenticity and basically poured his heart and soul into the project), it’s been fascinating to see its sure but steady transformation.  When it was completed a couple of months ago, he invited me around for a catch-up and we sat in his living room eating fish and chips (and drinking a margarita) in his ‘living room’ (read ‘ballroom’) and I remember looking around me and feeling true astonishment at just what he’d achieved, literally single-handed. I admire him no end.
So now we had a venue.  Angel House – do take a look!  A beautiful Regency house.  And now I had a theme – Regency!  I didn’t want a full-on fancy dress party so I plumped for character masks which were reasonably in keeping with the era.

The masks - I said they were freaky, right?

The masks – I said they were freaky, right?

They were also suitably freaky once on!  I finalised my guest list (cutting out friends I really wanted there was agony but budget and venue size restricted me so in the end I had to be tough), bought fifty masks online and sent out the invitations.  I needed some entertainment and had had a late cancellation from a previous friend’s band which I’d booked (no fault of her own, I feel I should add!) so was left with about a week to sort something else out.  Enter Terry.  Terry is a dear friend who I met in 2001 when I started working as a vocal coach at Nick’s Music Studios in Brighton.  I taught vocals and he taught guitar.  We hit it off and ended up spending lots of time together both in and out of work as we formed a couple of bands (one general, one country) and spent many happy months gigging and performing at weddings, birthdays and so on.  Terry is a very successful musician (I don’t usually feel the need to mention it but I will here; he is Terry Bickers from The House Of Love, who have had a successful run in the 80’s and 90’s with chart hits and a huge following still today as they re-formed and are now gigging again) and he immediately offered to play.  Hurrah, we have music!  He teamed up with another uber-talented musician-friend, Ed (yes I know I keep saying they’re all so talented but they REALLY ARE!  I’M NOT LYING!) and formed a duo to play music everyone would know.  Terry said a microphone would be set up for any of my friends who wanted to get up and sing (I met many of them through theatre groups in my youth so many of them do sing) and I agreed to sing too.  Good old Terry.  He’s such fun that I knew he’d be perfect for this; a bit like an up-market karaoke!
I wanted to have Regency ‘touches’ at the party rather than have a full-on theme.  The house spoke for itself; you couldn’t miss the fact you’re in a genuine Regency property, but I wanted a nod or two at the era with the entertainment too.  So I asked another good friend, Andrew, who plays in a Caleigh band with some other friends of mine, if they could come and call some Regency dances for us all to do.  Not only was he totally up for it, he already knew two genuine Regency dances as his partner is a bit of a Regency fan and they do the dances in the Caleigh band.  Fantastic.  Hurrah; we have two lots of music!  I needed a bit more than that to be satisfied so I decided to project the BBC version of ‘Pride And Prejudice’ (starring Colin Firth!  In a wet shirt! Getting out of a bathtub!)  on to the wall.  Of course I had to test this out at my home and spent a happy evening watching Regency dances unfold on my walls and Mr Darcy may or may not have strode about fourteen-thousand times wearing his wet shirt across my ceiling.

Oh look! There seems to be a Regency dance taking place on my wall!

Oh look! There seems to be a Regency dance taking place on my wall!

It looked fantastic so that was a go-ahead. Finally, my best friend Sarah and I got together at mine to write out genuine Regency phrases (oh the joys of the internet!) onto cards so that guests at the party could have a Regency conversation.  We divided the phrases into the categories of compliments, insults, wooing and social observation.  Some of our favourites (which had me laughing so hard that the pressure in my head got too high and I had to leave the room on a couple of occasions) were: ‘will you partake of some gobble-cock?‘ (‘would you like some turkey?’), ‘he is the very pinkest of the pinks!’ (‘he’s so fashionable’) and ‘alas, he/she is cucumberish’ (‘he/she doesn’t have much money’).  Some of the phrases were rather rude so I won’t put them up here.  After that, we sorted out the food and catering, furniture-hire and glass-hire and everything was ready, although the whole process had taken a few months.  Now I just had to pray that my head would behave.  Which it kind of did, only the two nights before the party I didn’t sleep at all.  Not a jot.  Anyone who has suffered insomnia will know how rubbish you feel after a night of no sleep whatsoever, let alone two consecutive nights.  Unfortunately, with hydrocephalus it’s even worse.  I know this having had bouts of insomnia my entire life, both pre and post-diagnosis.  Sleep is one of the single most important things to me.  If I don’t sleep, I can feel so ill that I consider calling the hospital and I very rarely do that; it just wreaks havoc with the pressure in my head.  So at 3.45am on the morning of the party, already feeling terrible from the previous nights waking hours, I called my brother in a bit of despair, I have to admit (it’s okay; he was on the night shift at work!).  Luke was brilliant at calming me down because at that hour and feeling that ill, the thought of hosting a big party in a few hours was simply beyond me.  I honestly wanted to cancel the whole thing, which was awful because I am not by nature a quitter.  I’ve spent pretty much the last fourteen years getting on with things whilst feeling varying degrees of crap; it’s just the way things are.  If you don’t mention it, nobody knows anyway so it’s pretty easy to get on with.  I’ve learned to apply make-up to cover up the white cheeks, the black shadows under the eyes and the strange lines I get (red ones) around my forehead if my intracranial pressure is off.  But tomorrow all the attention would be on me and it would be harder to disguise.  But as my brother reminded me, I’d been very careful with my guest list in case exactly this scenario would happen; not one person who would be there wouldn’t understand if I was not on form or if I needed to lie down at frequent intervals.  When I sorted the guest list, I chose the people who have made what could be a difficult existence easier for me; that quality makes the best friends, I have discovered over the years.  Luke also reminded me that once the party started, adrenaline would carry me through anyway.  He was, as it turned out, correct.

Nibbles in the Drawing Room

Nibbles in the Drawing Room

So when the time came and I teetered in my heels into Angel House (teetered being the operative word; I have size eight feet with a G-width fitting – heels are not generally good friends with my feet) I felt re-energised and ready for the afternoon ahead.

One of my favourite photos...so surreal!

One of my favourite photos…so surreal!

We had decided on a three o’clock start for the party as my head struggles with late nights and also I had many friends travelling down from London so wanted to give them a fair chance to get back at a reasonable hour; gone are the days of the all-nighters!  Being in our forties (and many of my friends now having young families), a party ending at eight in the evening seems perfectly acceptable!  The house looked beautiful; Phill had got a florist to put gorgeous arrangements in the main reception rooms.  The place smelled of fragrant lilies.  At three, everyone pretty much turned up on time. The house filled up quickly and everyone was wearing their masks and looked very dapper indeed.  In fact three turned up in full Regency attire which was amazing!

Two Regency ladies; (my boss on the left and my nephew's Mum on the right!)

Two Regency ladies; (my boss on the left and my nephew’s Mum on the right!)

Lord Malc and Lady Sarah

Lord Malc and Lady Sarah

After drinks and nibbles downstairs, we gathered in the upstairs ballroom for Regency dancing, courtesy of Andrew and his piper friend.  I’d forgotten just how good Andrew is at this; I had thought that it would probably end up mostly just the girls dancing with the boys sitting out and feeling too cool and macho to do it.  God, was I wrong.  Andrew seems to cast a Regency dancing spell over parties and in the first dance there were three large circles with the men almost outnumbering the women!  Andrew is not only full of energy, he’s hilarious and had a lot of fun interacting with some of the dancers…especially those who were getting it wrong!

And the dancing commences...

And the dancing commences…

It was so fantastic; we did two dances (the second one had to have the rug removed after two ladies tripped over it and fell over) and everyone got very much into the spirit of it.

Andrew - an excellent dance-caller!

Andrew – an excellent dance-caller!

The first dance was a little raucous with shrieks, shouts and laughter as my university friends couldn’t help chant along with the directions; ‘step left!  Step right!  And turn-a-ROUND!’ until Andrew gently reminded us that such behaviour at a Regency gathering would have been seriously frowned upon and we would have been considered uncouth.  So the next dance was performed with the required etiquette, bows and courtseys in place, noses in air and only stifled giggles to be heard.  It was actually quite tiring!  For such seemingly gentle dances, they were quite specific in their positioning (this was one heck of a courtship ritual in those days) and required a lot of concentration to get right.  Such good fun.
After the dancing we all had food, drink and a breather.  I’d worried along with Mum that we wouldn’t have enough food but we had as a result over-provided so we had plenty!  Whilst we were stuffing our faces with a rather grand spread downstairs, Terry and Ed were setting up the music in the Ballroom.

The boys getting ready

The boys getting ready

This gave me a chance to actually speak to some of my guests (it’s so hectic being a host!  I had no idea!  The panic of not getting around to everybody!) and it was clear that everyone was so far thoroughly enjoying themseleves.

And up we go!

And up we go!

There were friends there whom I hadn’t seen for a year or so, so it was fantastic to see everybody again.  After everyone had eaten, rested and had a good catch-up with each other, it was upstairs for music.  Throughout the afternoon, I could hear people loudly declaring the  Regency quotes Sarah and I had written out from the conversation table (which I’d placed on the half-landing) at each other and shrieking with laughter over them.  The ‘gobble-cock’ quote seemed particularly popular, judging by the amount of times that I heard it!  By the time we all settled at the re-arranged tables in the ballroom, the band were ready to go.

Gathering in the Ballroom

Gathering in the Ballroom

The boys were fantastic; they had a set list and initially managed to stick to it.  That was, until I got up and sang ‘Desperado’ by The Eagles; it’s a song Terry and I played in our country band and is a lovely song.  I hadn’t banked on the fact that by now my voice would be hoarse with talking.  Plus I hadn’t done any vocal warm-ups (I’m a vocal coach; I always stress to my students how important warming up first is for the voice and here I was not doing so much as even a lip-trill!) and I hadn’t actually got up and sang live for a few years, thanks to the head and hospital.  So when I did actually get up behind the mic and saw a sea of faces staring back at me, I definitely had a moment of ‘why the bejeezus did I think that this would be a fun thing to do?!’.

Singing with the boys

Singing with the boys

  Personally, I don’t think I sang it particularly well!  I was way too tired and too unprepared. Everyone said it sounded great but it was my birthday so they hardly would have said otherwise! But it was fun and so lovely to be performing with Terry again after so long. After that, a brief break for not one, but two birthday cakes!  My amazing Mum had arranged them and she’d re-created the cakes I’d had at my fifth birthday.  She had made (when I was five) a cake with a doll’s body and the cake bit making up the skirt.  Being five and having a strange sense of street cred at that time, I was anxious that people would laugh at it.  Don’t ask me why.  It was a perfectly good cake.  But Mum didn’t bat an eyelid and instead took me to the local cake shop to choose a cake which I felt my five year-old guests wouldn’t laugh at.  The cake I chose consisted of three marzipan bears in a pink bed.  So imagine how I felt when Mum brought in…an exact replica (if a little bigger) of the doll cake!

The first cake!

The first cake!

  It was like going back in time.  Just as I was getting over that and Mum had told the story of the poor rejected cake to the guests, I looked up to see Dad bringing in an exact replica of the bears-in-the-bed cake too!

You mean there's another one??

You mean there’s another one??

It was such a lovely memory for them to recreate for me – and so funny as well! Amazingly, when Mum had gone back to the shop (yep, still there thirty-six years later!), the woman who had actually worked there on my fifth birthday was still there and remembered the cake!  They don’t do it anymore but she made it for Mum which made it even more special.

Dad with surprise no. 2; I wasn't about to swear there, honest!  Just an unfortunate camera moment!

Dad with surprise no. 2; I wasn’t about to swear there, honest! Just an unfortunate camera moment!

My parents are amazing; they do things like this – remember the details and spring them again on you when you least expect it which is so lovely.

Five years-old revisited, thanks to my Mum!

Five years-old revisited, thanks to my Mum!

After everyone had sang ‘Happy Birthday’ (twice!  Once for each cake!), the music resumed.

Lana and 'People Are Strange'

Lana and ‘People Are Strange’

  And now my friends had a glass of wine (or two) inside them, they took to the microphones.  Lana sang ‘People Are Strange’ by The Doors, David (who was a dancing, whirling fireball of energy and would pounce on unsuspecting people – namely myself, my Mum and my Nan – to get them dancing) sang ‘Your Song’ by Elton John.

A very soulful 'Your Song'!

A very soulful ‘Your Song’!

Danny, my friend from university, got up and sang ‘Working In The Coal Mine’ – which Terry and Ed hadn’t even got the chords to but being the fab musician they are, this wasn’t a problem!  Danny was amazing and got everyone joining in on the chorus.

'Workin' in a coal mine, going down, down, down...'

‘Workin’ in a coal mine, going down, down, down…’

  After that, Terry had the mic back and played until we got up and danced and whirled to finish off the day.

At seven, we started to wind things down.  I wanted to carry on for longer but I was so tired I knew this was the right time to stop.  We’d had such a lovely afternoon and when I said a few words to thank everyone for coming and for everyone who had helped put the day together, I tried to explain what it meant to be a) well enough for the first time in five years to actually be able to celebrate a birthday properly and b) what a difference every person in that room made to my life, I got a bit welled up.  Totally unintentional, but looking around a room full of individuals who mean so much to you tends to do that!

Nobody could escape David that night! Not me...

Nobody could escape David that night! Not me…

Not only that, my whole family were there, including my Nan, who is ninety-eight next January and who is just the most amazing lady.  She is quite the celebrity amongst my friends; everyone adores her and actually I’m quite certain that they came to see her, not me.

...Nor my Mum...

…Nor my Mum…

And quite right too! She’d found it so difficult getting up the stairs at Angel House and we were quite prepared to get her home as soon as she got tired.  But no, she wanted to stay right to the end and join in with the singing and a spot of chair-dancing with David.

..Not even Nan!

..Not even Nan!

I was so proud of her.  She and my parents had helped me to pay for the whole thing too, so without her the whole thing wouldn’t even have happened.  So we had an encore for the band and one last dance.

Shakin' some moves!

Shakin’ some moves!

And then there was no more left to do apart from cut the cake and give everyone some to take home, kiss and hug goodbye to fifty amazing people and help clear up, which rather a lot of the fifty amazing people joined in with, so made light work.  It was, as I said in my speech, the best birthday ever.  Without a doubt.

Winding down one fantastic day.

Winding down one fantastic day.

Not only that, it was the best day of my life.  My head had behaved despite feeling so ill earlier, everyone had turned up, the venue had been beautiful and full from start to finish with the sound of laughter and most of all I had everyone there whom I loved.  And judging from the fifty messages I got the next day on my phone, everyone who had been there had felt the same way and just had the best time.  I highly recommend having a double birthday.  In fact I think it should be made law.  Happy birthdays, everyone!

My wonderful, amazing Nan....and David!

My wonderful, amazing Nan….and David!

The sound of laughing friends and family...priceless.

The sound of laughing friends and family…priceless.

My Dad (he gave up trying to fit his mask over his glasses!)

My Dad (he gave up trying to fit his mask over his glasses!)

My brother Luke (with the curly hair)...great in a 3.45am crisis.

My brother Luke (with the curly hair)…great in a 3.45am crisis.

And I had these to open the following day...how lovely!

And I had these to open the following day…how lovely!

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