Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Just salute and call me Arnold...

Super obscure Red Dwarf reference there. I promise, if you get the reference it is hysterically funny. Though I did cry the first time Martin said it to me...

But basically, I now have an "H" shaped scar on my forehead.

I saw a dermatologist for a mole next to my nose right before Christmas. That one was fine, though the doctor referred me to have it removed. Then, on my way out the door, he asked me if I had any questions. So I asked him to take a quick look at what I thought was an age spot (because my papa D has loads of them). He looked at it, then grabbed a magnifying device for a closer look. Then put some lubrication on my skin for an even closer look. Then he measured it. And said, "Hmmmmm..." Then he referred me to the maxillo-facial surgery department at Scunthorpe hospital. Six weeks later (which, incidentally, is lightening quick for the NHS!) I was having the "lesion" removed for biopsy. They removed the entire lesion as well as a small margin all the way around it, which was approximately the size of my fingernail. And because the area was so large they had to do some creative cutting on my face to cover it. A graft wasn't necessary, but they had to release my skin from my fascia and create "advancement flaps" to stretch over the wound.


This is immediately after the procedure.

Obviously I was numb for the procedure. There were a lot of dissolvable stitches underneath the skin, and twelve of them to close the outside flaps. The nerves were cut, and could take up to 18 months to regenerate, so the stitched area doesn't hurt too much. But holy Hannah, my eye puffed out like a proud father's chest, and I had some deep bruising that came out yellow about 3 days after the procedure. Seriously, my eye was nearly swollen shut!





I basically hid in the house for a week because I felt like a hideous beast, leaving only when I HAD to. But then the stitches came out, and it looked a bit better. But my right eye and cheek were still swollen. It felt like a really bad allergic reaction, but without the itching.




After the stitches were removed, I accidentally rubbed the wound lightly with a washcloth. It opened up on the bottom again. Only a little bit, but it bled for about half an hour. I just read a book while I applied pressure until it stopped. That is still some delicate skin! But it occurred to me what a miracle the human body is. A week ago, my skin was in a different place. A doctor loosened it and moved it, then stitched it somewhere else. And my body changed. Just like that! In another week, I will be able to start massaging the area so the scar tissue doesn't become too bulky, and a year from now you probably won't even be able to tell I had it done. The surgeon moved stuff around, but my body is going to accept that movement and heal itself in the new place. Amazing!

And now, three weeks later, it looks, well, almost normal? The healing process is coming along nicely, and I don't cringe when I look in the mirror any more. At least, not over the facial scar :D




Oh, and that mole next to my nose? Still there!

Friday, March 03, 2017

So our moving sale happened...

I've decided what it is about a trans-Atlantic move that stresses me out so much. And it's not the moving bit!

When you move house, you take your belongings with you. Yes, you have to pack everything up and get it from point A to point B, and that is a major nuisance. But you get to the new house, and you settle in and make it your own. You hang pictures, figure out where to put the telly, plug in the refrigerator, cook your first meal there to get rid of the previous occupants' food smells, etc. And you are surrounded by familiar things. Things that are still yours, just in a new place. Not so with this move, or the one we did over 11 years ago.

What we are trying to do, essentially, is erase our existence on this island. We are shipping some things over, yes. But we almost have to make it like we never existed over here. Our belongings aren't moving to a new place with us. They are being scattered all over the place, either with friends or through charity shops. Our house will have to be cleaned out and stripped of our presence. Even our car, that ridiculous soccer mom Renault that I hated for the first month I drove it, will either be scrapped or sold to another family. It will be like we were never here.

This move would be so much easier if I could just pack a few suitcases and boxes, and then go. It would feel like an adventure then, instead of the slow and systematic dismantling of an entire life. Four of them, actually.

A funny thing happened on Saturday, as we tried to sell off our earthly possessions. I lost it over an antique white enamel bowl. Such a simple thing, but I loved it. Irrationally! Martin and I picked it up on an antiquing day, not long after the children both started going to school full time. We went to some random town near Harrogate that is famous for its' antique shops, and rummaged around this converted factory. It was such a lovely day, and this old bowl was the icing on the cake for me. It is HUGE! And really old, with chips in the enamel that have rusted. The age and the rust made it all the more beautiful to me. And when our friend Naomi asked if I was selling it, I almost cried. Over a rusty old bowl. Plenty of other things that I love have been sold and taken away, but that bowl nearly undid me. I don't care about the clothes and shoes that I'm giving away, or the furniture we are selling. I don't even miss the microwave and toaster, both of which have already gone! But the memories tied to that bowl are so lovely, and I wanted to clutch it to my chest and hold on to it forever. So silly! I'm normally not that sentimental. Or emotional.

It's been tough to start saying goodbye to friends as well. We've met so many wonderful people, who have enriched our lives in countless ways. Luckily, I have my family to look forward to. They are the best sort of friends--the ones who stick with you no matter what. And I know we will meet new people, and rekindle old friendships as well. I am excited about the prospect. And so happy to be able to participate in the family events that we have missed out on for the past decade! There's the sealing of the little Bassetts, the birth of my newest niece or nephew, their blessing, Edith's baptism and confirmation, where her many uncles and her grandpa will be able to participate in the ordinance, the family reunions, and so much more. It makes me unbelievably sad that I have missed two weddings, a funeral, and more baby blessings, birthdays, and baptisms than I can count.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that things are pretty bittersweet right now. So many different feelings, each one contradicting the next. The only thing I know for certain is that our little family will be together, and that's what matters the most. Home is where the heart is, and my heart resides in Martin, Dylan, and Edith.

Still, a large part of me doesn't want to leave my home here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Eek!

Looking at flights to the USA. Getting a little bit queasy/nervous. Not about moving though. About the flight. I hate flying!

Well, let me re-phrase that. I don't hate flying. I hate preparing to fly, checking in to fly, and dealing with customs and rechecking baggage. Ugh!

First of all, there is the stress of getting to the airport on time (a huge deal when you are married to a man named Martin John Gilbert). Then there is the pressure of getting everybody checked in for the flight, making sure all the documents and passports are in order, etc. Then there is the massive ball-ache of queueing for security. Then it's finding the gate. And after all the rushing around, it is the absolute boredom of waiting to board.

Take-off is fun. I love that moment when you feel the airplane lift off the ground. Exciting, and a little bit terrifying. Kind of like that first drop on a roller coaster, but in reverse. Unfortunately, the flight lasts a little bit longer than your average roller coaster ride. at least 5 hours (for my travelling purposes) of being confined to one spot, eating when told to, peeing at a massive inconvenience to anyone seated in your row, and breathing in other people's germs and flatulence. Man, I feel sick just writing about it.

And when you land, it doesn't get easier. For us, it is a trip to collect our bags, go through customs (and immigration, this time around. Eek!), re-check our bags, and find our next gate. After that stress, it is once again the boredom of waiting for the next flight. It is cranky kids who just want to get some dinner and go to bed. It is restless legs, and having to sit on the floor because your gate area seats are all taken. It's a huge building full of grumpy people who also hate travelling. And they hate you even more when they see that you are flying with children. Nobody likes to sit next to a family on a flight--not even me, and I HAVE children. With me!

But it is exciting to think that in just a month's time we will be winging our way across the Atlantic towards home. It's been too long. And once we get there, I am sure I'll be excited to be home. As Martin keeps reminding me, "Think about how much you hate coming back to England when we have been to see your family." He is right, of course. He quite often is. Right now it feels like too much of a wrench to be exciting though. I still have all these doubts about whether we are doing the right thing or not.

We are going through all of our possessions right now, and deciding what to keep, throw away, give away, or sell. It's super stressful and bloomin' hard work! But we are getting it done. Because we don't want another move like the one that brought us here. Remember that, mom and dad? All that stuff? All those panic attacks? That was a bad scene. I need to keep it together for the kids' sake, if nothing else.

Moving. A pain no matter what. A pain on steroids when crossing oceans and continents!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Our (hopefully) last trip to the US Embassy, London

First of all, let me say that even though I LOVE London I am always glad to get back to sleepy little North Lincolnshire. Cities are great, but I prefer a much slower pace now!

The trip down was pretty uneventful, which is what you want for a long journey. We left at 5:40am. Not nice! I drove 'til Peterborough. I refuse to drive south of there, and since Martin pretty much insists on taking the A1 instead of the M1, he gets to drive the last hour. Everyone else had a nap. Nice, quiet drive for me. We got to Cockfosters in good time, and onto the Picadilly with time to spare. We arrived at the embassy early, carrying all of our bags for the trip. Booked a flat through Air B&B and couldn't check in until after 2pm. We found out then that the kids and I couldn't go in with Martin, so we kissed him goodbye and I took the kids out on my own. We got some breakfast at a little café nearby...





This kid loves selfies almost as much as I do. If I ever want to cheer her up, I just whip out my phone and ask, "Do you wanna take a selfie?" Instant smiles!

After our meal, we decided to walk over to Buckingham Palace. We got most of the way there, too. But we stopped to look at bus routes and discovered that we were AT the bus stop for the Natural History Museum. Just then, the bus pulled up. Since it was raining, we decided to give Buckingham Palace a miss. So off to the museum we went!

At this point, I'd just like to point out that I successfully navigated us around London using the bus system. Super proud of myself, since I usually leave that bit up to Martin!

We ended up getting off at the Victoria and Albert museum and having a little wander through there first. I love the V&A. It's just so weird and quirky! The kids were a little bit less enthusiastic, but had a good time with the audio presentations in a few of the rooms. When they couldn't handle it any more, we moved on to the Natural History museum. They were better there, though it was absolutely heaving with school children.

While we were there, I got a call from Martin. He was done at the embassy. All is in order, but he was missing a few vital pieces of paperwork. They can all be e-mailed over, so we are good to book flights, etc. even though the greencard hasn't been officially approved yet. Hooray! He met us at the museum, then we headed to our rental.

The flat was ok. Nothing too special, but the price was good and it was on Edgware Road, near the embassy. Vital, as our appointment the next day for Dylan's passport renewal was at 9:30am! We chilled for a bit, then went for a wander to find a place to eat. Settled on a Lebanese restaurant called Fattoush. The food was incredible! I will definitely miss interesting and exotic food when we move back to rural Utah...

The next morning was an early one. We got a bus back to the embassy and sorted out Dylan's U.S. passport. It actually arrived at our house yesterday. The process was quick and painless, and the family are nearly ready to travel.

After the embassy, we gambled a little bit and took the kids to the Tate Modern. I say gamble, because past excursions to art galleries have been a bit hit and miss. Mostly, the kids end up getting bored. We thought the Tate Modern might be different, because modern art is so weird and wonderful. Turns out, we were right. We had a delightful 1.5 hour trip around the museum, saw some Monets, a few Picassos, and a couple of Dalis. Some interactive stuff as well, which was fun. These were my favourites:


It's some guy named Gerhard Richter. Weirdly, about a week after we saw his work, I heard him mentioned somewhere else. Love the style and the scale and the colours, and, well, everything about them. They feel so free and easy!



Just thought this stairway was super cool. The museum is in the old Battersea power station in the bank of the Thames, and the building seems like as much of a work of art as the stuff inside it. Such an amazing space!





Then it was a walk across the Thames to the Tube station, and a long train ride back to the car. And an even longer drive home. But it was a lovely trip all the same, and we are that much closer to our next big adventure!