And After Another Long, Unexplained Absence…

The new edition of Shiny is out! – but you probably already know this, as we went live last Thursday and I am only now managing to produce a blog post.

SNB-logoAnd why is this, I hear you cry? Well, let me give you the details.

Casualties so far in 2016

Mr Litlove

Trapped nerve in shoulder.

Throat infection.

Monster cold from family party at Easter.



Uveitis in eye followed by WEEKS of chronic eye strain.

Cystitis once.

Cystitis twice.

Yeast infection from antibiotics.

Mr Litlove’s cold – though I caught this mildly and it is negligible in the scheme of things.

Abscess in tooth, resulting in more antibiotics and the prospect of an unpleasant trip to the dentist.


This last one was the worst. I came home and wailed that this was AWFUL. I’d barely got past the last batch of antibiotics and now I had another and the supremely dreadful choice between root canal work or extraction.

‘But this is great!’ said Mr Litlove. ‘You’ve got something definite and it has a name and they know how to fix it.’

Well, I’ve had a good run at health issues with names so far this year and frankly, you can keep them. I’ll take my nebulous chronic fatigue any day, which usually leaves me safe in my own home and without the need for medical intervention. Ten to one I’ll have the tooth extracted, as it’s been nothing but trouble since I concussed the nerve and the root canal work may well not be entirely successful. My mother assured me most comfortingly that an extraction is the sort of thing that’s worse in anticipation than in actuality and it ought at least to be quick. The dentist did warn me I wouldn’t be able to chew so well on that side of my mouth, but I pointed out I hadn’t chewed on it for the past two and a half years anyway. So. Now I just have to hope the antibiotics work (they are working, just more slowly than I’d hoped) and that I can avoid a second yeast infection. Sigh.

It’s been kind of Mr Litlove to keep me company in ill health. We were sitting on the sofa, staring at the walls not that long ago and he said: ‘We ought to be living the dream. We have an idyllic lifestyle and all we’ve done so far this year is be ill.’ ‘Tell me about it!’ I said. We are as usual oddly opposite. Mr Litlove is someone who can’t be ill quietly; there is never any need to ask him what the matter is. Whereas I get more still and more silent the worse I feel. He said he found himself wondering at one point if he’d caught chronic fatigue from me (I thought it was a bit late in the day for contagion) or whether we should have the house checked for poisonous gasses. I can understand Mr Litlove’s chain of events easily – he’s in the middle of a huge life change after all, which is tiring, and he got the throat bug from going back and forth to the doctors for me, and then his cold from a family party where it was rampant. He thinks that my run of illnesses have been provoked by fighting off this abscess for a while, and the dentist did warn me the swelling probably wouldn’t go down completely because of the scar tissue, since it had been there some time. I don’t know. I like it as a theory and wish it were true, which means I distrust it. What if this is just all about my heading-towards-fifty-hormones? What if this is the new reality?

On a more positive note, I have recently been able to read a bit again – up to two hours a day if I take plenty of breaks to rest my eyes. Which was absolute bliss after such a long, long drought. Before that I’d been forced to entertain myself with Woody Allen-esque scenarios in which I imagined travelling around the different departments of my body. So I might visit my brain to find the operatives bored and cranky, complaining there’s not enough to do. To which I would point out that the place is in a mess, half the cooling fans have burnt out, there’s litter everywhere, a good clean would make a lot of difference, etc. But they tell me that it’s no use, they can’t get any help from Maintenance. So I then visit Maintenance, where they suck in air through their teeth and say it’s a difficult time and what with all the recent problems, resources are low, maybe if they could get more supplies…? So I go to Accounts and Distribution, who are up in arms; they really need more nutrient income but they keep being ram-raided by that criminal, Stress, who makes off with all the good stuff the moment it’s delivered… And just recently I had a little fun with antibiotic ninjas storming the besieged Northern Gum Territories.

Well, you have to find amusement wherever you can.

This is true more than usual this week as Mr Litlove, now pretty much fully recovered from his cold, has gone away to Devon for a chair-making course. We’d agreed much earlier in the year that he’d go alone as a five-hour car trip is well outside my comfort zone at the moment, and normally I don’t mind a week on my own to watch what I like on telly and eat chicken risotto every night. But he’s only been gone an hour and I am missing him dreadfully. I think I’m a little lower in spirits than usual, what with this run of illnesses. But hey, I’ve hardly read any of the reviews in this edition of Shiny – and I must mention the kindness and understanding of the other eds, which has stretched beyond the pale this year! – and I’ve been feeling too rough even to look at what’s going on in the blogworld lately, so I could catch up. And I can make myself chicken risotto and watch an old movie I’ve watched so many times that I don’t need to strain my eyes on it (and I prefer rewatching movies to seeing them for the first time). And I have Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Solitary Summer by my side to read a few pages at a time, because there was a woman who really knew how to make the most of time alone. So I will do my very best to avoid a pity party.

If you happen to stop by, tell me what you are doing this week. I’d love to know!




50 thoughts on “And After Another Long, Unexplained Absence…

  1. Oh, dear, quite a chapter of accidents! Sorry to hear about all this, hoping you feel all better soon. I’m sure some chicken risotto and good old films will do the trick.

  2. I am so glad that (fingers crossed) you are on the mend – well once you have that tooth out anyway. You did what you could for Shiny this time – which is all any of us ever do, so don’t worry about that!

    Now, after you finish all those antibiotics – don’t forget to eat as wide a variety of veg as you can and something probiotic/yoghurty/cheesy to get all your gut bacteria back to full strength as the antibiotics wipe them out which is why you get the yeast infections (I’ve just been to a lecture on gut bacteria and read another book about them – so feel a bit preachy about it – sorry! πŸ™‚ )

    • Oh fingers crossed! And you have been brilliantly supportive – I hate feeling that I’m not pulling my weight. And thank you for the advice – I love advice! Sounds like I really need to read that book….

  3. Oh, you poor pair! So sorry to hear about all the poorliness – how rotten! I can really empathise with your teeth issues as I’ve just recently had two infected teeth which needed two separate courses of antibiotics and 1.5 hours of root canal…. I frankly wish the dentist had removed the thing as it’s right up the back being crushed between a rogue wisdom tooth and a crown, but there you go. Hopefully things will improve soon and you’ll be able to eat and drink and be merry and read books! Take care! x

    • Oh Karen, how completely awful! I am just about keeping the lid on one tooth, but two!!! Why isn’t there a complaints bureau for this sort of thing? There really should be! I’m glad you are writing this in the past tense, and do hope your mouth is feeling altogether better now, and the memory is fading. I’m looking forward to being merry again, that’s for sure! πŸ˜‰ xx

      • Teeth certainly shouldn’t be allowed to do this – apparently I grind in my sleep which aggravates things. The pain I had was about the worst I can remember, and the injection with the pain relief was the best thing ever. Touch wood, all is ok now, but it was not fun. I’m sure yours will be ok soon and you’ll be able to bite again! πŸ™‚

      • I grind too! And I think that teeth are a real design fault in human beings. They are nothing but trouble from start to finish. I really recommend naproxen as a painkiller. You can only get it in a box marketed for period pains but it’s just the straightforward drug and it helped me a lot. I am touching wood for you – and hoping very much that I’ll be back to normal soon-ish!

  4. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been ill. It’s terrible when these things come one after the other. You have all my sympathy for the tooth in particular. I had a tooth infection a couple of years ago, and I’ve never been in so much pain. I ended up getting a root canal, which was an adventure in itself, given my fear of the dentist. After a panic attack at the dentist, I had to be sedated to actually get it done. But the good news is, it hasn’t bothered me since.

  5. My sister-in-law advised me to take naproxen for nerve pain and it is a brilliant pain killer, really strong. So that has helped no end. I feel exactly the same way you do about the dentist; I have a large box of Valium at the ready and I’m not afraid to take it! I send a hug even for the memory of a panic attack, as they are ghastly too. But thank you for the solidarity. It’s comforting to know you can dread this sort of thing and survive…

  6. How utterly dreadful. I too have been on my own this weekend and trying to keep busy. Baking, cooking, going for walks, seeing friends (if you’re up to it), and catching up on blog-reading have all been immensely helpful in that regard. I can recommend them all.

    • Elle – thank you for your lovely comments! I hope you managed to have a very good, peaceful, contented weekend. I’m doing okay here. Being able to read a little bit does help enormously. My face feels much better but think of me next Thursday when I’ll be under the pliers, having that tooth out!

    • Send libations to the gods of medical science to look after me next Thursday, will you? That would be just fantastic. I keep thinking, I’ll just get past this and then normal life will resume… and then something else happens. I do so hope this one will be the last! x

  7. I’m sure I speak for all your fellow ed.s when I say we are only too glad to support you in any way we can, and just want you to get well soon. I absolutely second what Annabel says about taking care of what you eat following the antibiotics – it’s so important. And if the extraction looks like the best way to go, just go for it. I had one a few weeks ago and was absolutely dreading it but it was far less awful than I’d feared. Love to you xx

    • Harriet, that’s such a lovely comment, thank you. I am so relieved to hear you found the extraction a bearable experience. I’ve also found probiotics to take that are resistant to antibiotics, and hopefully these will continue to help (they’ve been great so far). And I’ll eat my veggies! Love to you, too.

  8. Sympathies for the tooth pain and all the other strains and pains! But I’m glad to hear that you’ve got your reading up and running again (well, walking I guess) and comfort TV and chicken risotto sound very appealing too.
    At the moment we only seem to watch Masterchef (and children’s TV of course). The kids’ current movie is Charlotte’s Web which is charming.
    All the best to you and Mr L.

    • I remember the years of only watching children’s tv – I ended up liking it much better than the grown-up version! And we like Masterchef, too. πŸ™‚ Thank you for the sympathy. It has certainly helped to be able to read a bit, and I’m hoping that will improve over time. I did get a bit bored of risotto, however and had to change to other meals! But hey, if that’s the worst….. !

  9. What a year you’ve had. Your faith in chicken risotto and excellent classic movies is well founded, thinking all the goodness of chicken soup but with the comfort of the rice.
    i recall a writer’s paean of praise for her dentist who assured her that our teeth were designed for a time when we had a life expectancy of 40. No wonder they cause us so much trouble! Small consolation, I hear you say. sending lots of good wishes for a full recovery and a Spring led burst of better health.

    • Well now that does explain a lot of things! I wonder how much of me was designed for a life expectancy of 40 – more than just the teeth, I fear! Thank you for the lovely good wishes and oh yes indeed, I do hope that Spring lifts my spirits of all kinds!

  10. Chiming in to say I’ve also had periods of trouble with an infected tooth that kept recurring, and I’d probably choose the extraction, as it eventually had to be done on my tooth after both a root canal and other oral surgery. But do be reassured that this is not the new normal in your 50’s. Oral health affects everything.

    I’ve been having a lovely time, first at a conference in Florida and then visiting my daughter in Tucson over Easter. Now we’re home and catching up on work, but I’m always planning my next trip, which will be for Walker Percy Weekend in Louisiana (more hot weather, which I adore),

    • The tooth comes out next Thursday, as I completely agree that several attempts to save a tooth end up more time and money than it’s worth! And thank you for the reassurances. I have been feeling my age what with all this health trouble lately, and that makes me fearful. I’m delighted to hear your news, though, and so glad you’ve been having wonderful trips. Hope Louisiana is fabulous.

  11. Ah poor you! (And poor Mr Litlove too!) I hope after this tooth you are over the hump of illnesses for the year, deciding to get them all over at once leaving the rest of the year for health and happiness and productivity. Solitary Summer is a great one and there is no way to resist von Arnim’s charm!

    • Oh I do hope so! If I’m using up bad karma, I can sort of live with that. Sort of. Would be nice if this was the end of it, though! And you are so right about von Arnim. I do love her.

  12. Well y’all have had more than your fair share, you poor things! As we say in my family in times of indignation: “What is the hell of this!”

    What have I been up to: So many things! I went see Hamilton in New York (fun!), attended a work conference in L.A. (not terrible considering how very very social it was), and am now trying to catch up on everything I didn’t do because I was traveling. I am hoping for a nice quiet April.

    • Now there’s a phrase I need to commit to memory! Thank you for the sympathy – it is much appreciated. It’s lovely to hear your news and I’m very glad the work conference was okay (I was never fond of them, given the sociability factor, but they had their moments). I’m completely with you in hoping for a quiet April!

  13. Oh poor Litlove and Mister Litlove, what a horrible time! I am glad that you’re both on the mend. Don’t forget to eat lots of probiotic yoghurt when the antibiotics are over, that will help your gut recover. And I hope that you are enjoying your time alone now. Have you read the new Olivia Laing, ‘The Lonely City’? The copy I ordered has just arrived and it looks great. Maybe it would be a good read for now, maybe not…

    This week I am frantically doing some paperwork for school. This year we moved from a year system to a two-semester system. The good news was that instead of having to submit our plans for the whole year in October, we just had to hand in plans for the first semester. The bad news is that nobody then bothered to submit any plans for the second semester – if the school doesn’t ask, it doesn’t get – and so now we’re all in trouble and rapped knuckles all round and planning this week please. Ooops. It’s not that bad though, now I’m actually doing it. I’ve also been reading ‘When We Were Bad’ by Charlotte Mendelson, which I enjoyed. πŸ™‚

  14. I do have a copy of the Olivia Laing! And I’m really looking forward to it. I have been reading mindless comfort reads lately, and given the speed I’m going, not many of those, though reading of any kind is wonderful. Once I get my mind back (fingers crossed), the Laing book is first on my list. Thank you for your lovely good wishes – Mr Litlove is having a fantastic time on his course and I’m doing fine having a quiet week. I remember so well all the paperwork around teaching – gah! Anything that postpones even a part of it is probably worth some getting into trouble over… Very glad it’s not proving too awful to do now you’re in it. I think a reward is in order, once it’s done!

  15. ((Oh Litlove)) – hugs. It is so frightening to have eye issues as a reader! When I was struggling with mine it really forced me out of my comfort zone to find other things I might find pleasure. I’m having a similar – albeit milder – year and it is so hard to keep buoying myself up time and time again. I really hope you and Mr. Litlove experience a full recovery by summer so you can start enjoying the lifestyle you worked so hard to achieve.

    • Courtney that is a lovely comment, thank you for the sympathy. The exact same thing happened to me in that attempt to find other activities that brought pleasure. And the worst thing was, I only like reading, it turns out! Nothing else really hit the spot. There’s nothing like a series of awkward events to drag a person down, I completely agree. It’s the relentlessness that really gets to you. I send big hugs and much love back, as it’s definitely been a bit of a strain this end, and you have two young children which makes everything harder. Here’s hoping for a lovely, peaceful summer for both of us! xx

  16. I was dreading having a tooth out a couple of years ago and was shaking with fright on my way to the dentist. I have to say I was in the chair for about thirty seconds and he whipped it out easily. Yes it hurts afterwards, of course it will, and he told me to sit quietly on a chair in reception and just wait for ten minutes or so. The pain subsided and I drove home. The best thing was the relief from the grinding jaw ache I had had for weeks. A tooth that is causing trouble can leak poison into your glands and make you feel even worse so no matter how you feel now, once it is out, you will be on the mend. Big hug Elaine

    • Elaine this is such a helpful comment, bless you! I’m finding immense comfort in knowing you and others have been through this process and found it not too, too awful. I do wonder if this abscess has been causing me some of the other health issues that have raised their heads this year. I’m actually holding onto that thought to help get me through tomorrow. Well, that and the experience of my friends. Thank you and hugs back!

    • Thank you, Susan. I really, really hope that will be the end of it for a while, too! You do need one fully functioning partner in a relationship ideally or else so much doesn’t get done!

  17. My weekend was spent watching my kids play sport (4 kids = eight events over the course of the weekend!). While I don’t mind being a spectator, it is exhausting πŸ˜‰ (plus, I had just a few chapters of the first Ferrante left and I was/ am busting to finish).

    • Oh I read that Ferrante just before Christmas (and still haven’t reviewed – I am so far behind!) and I really loved it. I’m definitely going to read the rest in the series now – will you? And oh my goodness, that is a LOT of spectator sport! That is very selfless mothering!

      • I was only so-so on the Ferrante – I think others had built it up for me too much! I won’t be rushing to read the next one but have it, so probably will at some stage.

  18. I don’t know how I missed this when you posted it, and I am therefore shockingly late in expressing my deepest empathetic sympathies for your 2016 trials and tribulations. It is quite difficult when two persons in a household are miserable, as there’s nobody to provide any hope that things will be normal again. You have to just take it on faith, rather than having any present example of health. (This is, incidentally, why I think it can be very bad for the elderly to live together in retirement and assisted care facilities…there’s no barometer of health, just the collective march to death, like lemmings to the sea.)

    I am glad to see in your latest post that the offending tooth has gone to its long home. And I know what you mean about the antibiotics…I had cystitis/kidney infection myself about a month ago (and if you will pardon the expression, holy fuck, that hurts) and couldn’t decide whether the cure or the disease was worse.

    • Oh do not worry in the least! The catalogue of horrors has rendered me incapable of blog visiting for the past few months. I do hope to catch up, but I am waaaaay behind. I’m really intrigued by what you say about the community of misery – and I think you’re quite right. We were very sorry for each other, but hadn’t really got the energy to turn that into active care, and were probably quietly hoping the other would just buck up soon! As for the UTI thing, my God! You’re so right. It does indeed hurt ridiculously and then antibiotics do turn out to be insult on top of injury…. I do hope you are much better now!

      • Misery does love company, but…it’s self-perpetuating that way, I think. At any rate, I am glad that the two of you didn’t get trapped in an endless cycle of mutual existential despair; with your fondness for French literature, that’s always a risk, you know.

        I am indeed much better, though I had a curious reaction to the antibiotic, on top of the expected complete destruction of my digestive system. It made me very short-tempered…not just short-tempered, but violently so, in a way that is utterly unlike me…fist-through-a-wall variety. I was sufficiently detached from this experience to observe it with mild amazement, and to recognize that it must be a strange aberration related to the medication…and of course I didn’t act on it, but I had it in mind that I must keep a very tight rein on myself for a few days. Subsequently I looked this up and found that yes indeed, this antibiotic has sent people into states of psychotic rage, so I suppose the annoying customer service rep whom I snapped at over the phone got lucky…had she been in front of me, I might have just strangled her literally, as I wanted to do.

      • LOL, you are so right about Existentialism. It’s dangers are everywhere and invisible…. The anger thing is rather fascinating. My sister-in-law also has CFS and we’ve been chatting a lot on the phone lately, comparing stuff. I tend to think psychology is highly influential, but she is convinced that our illness is biological all the way and part of her case for this is that hypoglycemia causes intense anxiety. As I do indeed destroy my blood sugar levels when I am in the least anxious, it is an intriguing chicken and egg question. Anyway, your experience is another vote for the way that biology impacts on emotional experience. As for the customer service rep, you really would think that somewhere along the line they could be trained not to be annoying… but I must say I’m glad you’re not facing a prison sentence for her.

      • It’s very chicken-and-eggy…since psychological events produce chemicals in the body, which then produce physical experiences that influence subsequent psychology.

        I’m hoping to save the prison sentence for some truly egregious client, and make it really worthwhile.

      • Yes, that’s it exactly. As tough to call as it is to get in there and influence. Oh and I love this notion of saving up your prison term – you were destined to be Nemesis, I think, just promise me you’ll let me know when the occasion comes closer.

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