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All That I Am - Part 11

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(cont. from Part 10)


Millennium! There was much said about this particular year. Computers would crash, the world markets would collapse -- the end of civilisation was predicted.

I was fighting yet another chest infection. I'd had two bouts of pneumonia already and I was fast approaching my third. Later that year I was diagnosed as having

scleroderma for real, and I say real because it had never been diagnosed in black and white and it was only ever mentioned in terms of what I might have. This word had haunted me since my mid-thirties. It had been mentioned every time I became sick, and finally I'd had enough.


"If this is sclero wotsit -- do something for me, please?" My general practitioner was brilliant at that time. We lived in a small town in a small terraced house. The house was

never grand but it was comfortable, warm and a little palace. I was a country girl at heart. I'd been raised in the country on a farm and never knew anything about living in a town and having neighbours. My friends back home warned that I would never be a "towny" but I adapted very quickly and I have to say they were the best years of my life. My general practitioner held her practice in the middle of town. She always had time for everyone, but she was very strict about time wasters. When she learned I had scleroderma, she spent her precious time explaining the symptoms as best as she could, even requested leaflets for me to read. She was my rock at that time. I wish those days were back. My current general practitioner couldn't care less but that's another issue!


It was 2001. I was busy with my business. My circulation was terrible, I nearly lost my foot and a few fingers to Raynauds. I was in and out of hospital enduring

horrible infusions that almost exploded my head, at least that's what it felt like! The headaches and hot flashes this treatment caused were almost too bad to bear. Apart from all this, my parents had also had health problems and my uncle who had lived on the farm with them, suddenly died. Suddenly, we had inherited the farm!


My parents had let things slip for years. I was in no fit state to help and wouldn't have had the time anyway. There was a cottage next door to my parents in which my uncle had lived. It was in a very bad state of repair -- practicaly unliveable. We decided to sell our little home in the town and make our move sooner rather than later. It was decided to place a mobile home (trailer) on site whilst we did the renovation. We managed to employ a builder who had experience in old properties, but the house sale went really badly and took too long to complete. We lost his services before they ever began and then ended up stranded in a

housing boom where everyone it seemed, wanted a builder. My hubby had always had an adventurous streak in him, but I'm not quite sure if that's the right term -- daft, I'd say is more appropriate! I must have been mad to agree to do the renovation ourselves. No bulilding experience had we, not even the first idea of building a wall and there we were, ordering mortar, wood and a whole yard of materials.


We began by taking down a very dangerous wall, brick by brick. We cleaned every single one. It was summer 2002. We had piles of neatly stacked bricks and

it actually looked like we knew what we were doing. My hubby began to dig the first footing, a trench 3ft or so deep and 2ft wide. It was about 30ft long and

when I stood in it it came up to my hips almost. He'd bought an industrial-sized cement mixer from auction and mixed tons of cement. He had a wheelbarrow

and spade and every 10 minutes or so he ran with the barrow and tipped it in the the trench. My job was to spread the cement along with a long handled brush,

which I found was the best implement for the job. The wind was strirring up into a real forceful blow. Dust was flying everywhere and it was difficult to see. We'd got just about most of it done when we decided to take a tea break. I had grit in my mouth, dust in my eyes and a raging thirst. We returned to the mobile home for a well earned cup of tea. The kettle was just about to boil when there was a thunderous crash in the yard. My mum and dad were standing at the front of the house when we arrived at the scene and what we saw almost broke my heart. The front stone wall had collapsed, and more worryingly, it had collapsed right where we were working. I'd have been killed for sure.


That tea break certainly saved my life that day -- thank goodness for tea!

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