The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

All’s well that ends well


Photo: Zebedee the leghorn hen

Photo: Zebedee the leghorn hen

In my late twenties I took a post graduate teaching degree. My subjects were Drama and English (subjects that I’d studied at University). I did my post grad year at Goldsmith’s College in London. The majority of the course consisted of placements in London secondary schools.

One of the schools that I was sent to was in Blackheath. On my first day I was given two classes to teach. The first was described to me by their teacher as
“Intelligent bubbly kids. Great fun to work with.”
The second classes teacher looked grave.
“These are difficult kids that need a firm hand.”

The bubbly group were great fun to work with – in Drama lessons they took chances and did brilliant work. The other class were a nightmare. They called me “It.” They didn’t enjoy my classes and I disliked them.

One coffee break in the Staff Room a young male teacher was in tears. He couldn’t control his class describing them as daemons. I was amazed to discover that this was the bubbly group of kids that were doing such great work with me. In fact most teachers found them difficult. When I enquired about the second class very few teachers had a problem with them.

This was a really great lesson in belief and expectation. I didn’t become a teacher but it was worth doing the training for this lesson alone.

We’ve had a stressful few weeks. The Neurologist that I’m seeing managed to swing the insurance company into covering my sessions with him and all tests. This was great news as he wanted me to have a brain scan (£500). The brain scan slightly alarmed me. Did I have a tumour? Was I going gaga?

During the scan there was a window where I could look out and see the scanning staff in action. One of them appeared to be reading a magazine – I could just see the top of it. The other one looked bored. Then suddenly they both perked up and peered at the screen.

Had they seen something?

Normally in the UK we are given scan results on the spot. But brain scans are different they have to be studied carefully. As the weeks went by we didn’t get the ‘all clear’ letter and began to think that something was seriously wrong with me. My memory has been bad these past few months and suddenly it seemed to get much worse. I struggle to keep a grip when Inca fell ill and spotted that the vets were repeating themselves endlessly to be certain that I understood her medication and what was happening to her.

I was trying to make plans for the future but until I knew what the prognosis was I was in limbo. We returned to the Neurologist expecting bad news.

He opened the file and looked at me.
“They told you that you’ve got the all clear on the brain scan I expect.”
I could have kissed him all over.

I hardly slept that night. I was too stressed to sleep. It was in the early hours of the morning that I remembered that lesson from all those years ago.

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  1. Cookie Girl

    It might sound like a wierd thing to say, but waiting for my mom’s breast cancer biopsy result was worse than the diagnosis (but only just !) Worse ? How can it have been worse ? The test result came back positive. The difference was that whilst the results broke my world at the time, at least there was a way forward, a treatment plan, a masectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy. This is three years ago now, and it’s been a long journey for all of us, but one breast reconstruction later, and she’s off to Tenerife next Tuesday, bless her ! Even after all this time, and despite all this I can still say that the NOT knowing and the subsequent waiting for those test results was agony..

    Those test results were all the more poignant as my mother had a) a clear mammogram and was told b) that her problem was her ‘age’ (57 at the time) and c)that her problem was ‘her underwear’. It was only her own perseverance that finally led to her diagnosis.

    I’m happy for you Fiona that the brain scan was clear, but inisist that they keep looking for whatever it is that is creating your symptoms.. Take care and all the best.

  2. One of the means we both had to get through the waiting period was humour (a la Rae). Thankfully, Fiona and I share the same appreciation of the nonsensical.
    I used to address her as Lady Gaga occasionally and she knew that I was only joking. I never detected any sign whatsoever of early senility, which was her great terror.
    Stress is an insidious thing. It creeps up unbeknownst and suddenly you wonder what is wrong with you. Faculties dim and imaginary fears appear to be potential realities. I know – I have been there too.
    This blog and your support has been an anchor in reality. Many thanks to everybody who comments, whether on F’s personal articles or on Sloe Gin ( 🙂 ). Your involvement is therapy for us.

  3. Michelle from Oregon

    Only one word for you Fiona…
    Thank goodness its an all clear!

  4. Glad to hear your grey matter is all in order fiona 🙂 Just wanted to check they have checked you for lead poisoning in all the many tests you’ve had over the months haven’t they???

  5. Shereen

    Waiting for test results is such a stressful thing to do. And no matter how logical you try to be about it all your brain just can’t help running through the what-ifs.

    I’m glad you’re not doing the what-ifs over your brain scan any more.

  6. Rae Mond

    who’s going to be the first to make a joke about your brain scan coming back negative?

    I’m glad it did. Thinking something might be wrong is a vicious circle, once you start thinking it you’re atuned to potential symptoms, and the stress will make it all worse.

    Big love to you and D and the Min pins Xx

  7. Magic Cochin

    Waiting for test results is so so stressful. I remember having a routine test and being told ‘You’ll only get a letter if they need to call you back – no news is good news’. A week or so later I got a letter – I came out in a cold sweat, I had to sit down, I shook as I opened the letter ‘Tests were all clear’. I wonder how many others went through that routine!

    We’re so relieved for you Fiona. No you can rest when you need and put your increasing energy into your exciting plans.

    I’m toasting you with a big mug of tea!

  8. Now you can look forward and make all those plans come to fruition. You make me feel very humble the way you share all your ups and downs with us, honestly and openly. Thank you and big hugs to you all.

  9. Toffeeapple

    Let’s hope that the rest of your journey will be downhill and that stresses will disappear completely.

    Good vibes coming your way from me. Hugs!

  10. Ruthdigs

    So glad for you Fiona, it must be a weight off your mind. Thinking you both a hug.
    Spring is coming and Inca is better so hopefully this will be the start of something positive.

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