Monday 22 August 2011

Seven year itch

This week it is eight years since we moved from Surrey up to Cheshire. In general those eight years seem to have gone remarkably quickly. There have been times, particularly when we were waiting for the building work on the cottage to start, that it felt as if the hands on the clock were going backwards. It took about four to five years for me to think of Cheshire as home and I think that was more to do with eventually feeling that the cottage belonged to us, when we broke the back of the decorating, as it was to seeing Cheshire as familiar. There are still times when I feel as if I am living in a foreign country. Only last week a shop assistant said something to me as she handed back my credit card. I did not understand a word of what she said. When we first moved here we rented a house while we looked for a house to buy. It took us five and a half months of looking to find the cottage and another two and a half months to actually buy it, which meant that it was the end of April 2004 when we moved to the cottage.

Back in April after yet another sleepless Saturday night, courtesy of the neighbour's barking dog, we were seriously considering moving house. I know that you will be thinking they must be mad. They haven't finished the cottage that they are currently living in. But the brain plays tricks on you when you are wide awake at 3am in the morning. We had seen for sale, in the village, a house which interested us. At present we live on the outskirts of the village. Even though there is nothing more than a post box and a phone box in the centre of the village I have hankered after living in the village, ever since we moved here. The post office and a little shop went a long time ago. At the time that we moved here the cottage that we bought was the only suitable property available. It is not very often that a  house in the village is for sale. Most of the houses are too big for us and in all the seven years that we have lived here, this is the first house that ticked the right boxes for us. It wasn't perfect. It needed work doing to it. Neither of us really wanted a return to living in a building site but what is the price of a good night's sleep?

There followed a week of frantic activity to get the cottage tidy and presentable for estate agents to value it. I would not describe the inside of the cottage as untidy, but it was amazing the amount of clutter that there was around the place. What did not have a home and could not be thrown away ended up in the spare bedroom which is the only room that has not been decorated. Things were stuffed into drawers and cupboards and afterwards I did not know where I had put them! The dust sheets that had protected the conservatory furniture were bundled into a bin bag which I hid in the garage. Luckily I remembered that hiding place and they did not end up going out with the rubbish.

Two estate agents came to value the cottage. If we were to sell, which we aren't, neither would have the privilege of  selling it for us. The first came early before I was ready, fortunately husband was able to let him in. The second was late. Neither apologised. Uncannily they both valued the cottage at the same disappointing figure. Considerably less than the larger house next door which is currently for sale. This is the very same house that I recently wrote about being two council tax bands below our cottage. It has the same number of rooms as our cottage, although it is larger. More space means higher bills. The next door house also has a bigger garden. Our garden is big enough for us. We do not want to have to spend all day cutting the lawn. Whoever buys it will be paying a high price for the extra space. Both agents said that the next door house was over priced.

For now we are staying put and finishing off the cottage. So I can only guess what it would be like to live in  the village. Quieter no doubt, but probably less colourful and maybe less eventful. For the moment it is not to be and just to reinforce our decision not to move, the house that we were interested in was taken off the market before we got the chance to look at it. Our seven year itch lasted all of a week

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Where's the tooth fairy?

......when you need her. If only I could turn the clock back to those pre-teen childhood days of the tooth fairy. It was all so convenient when a wobbly tooth came out for it to be replaced by a shiny new tooth that emerged from the gum as if by magic, in addition to the tooth fairy paying to take away the now useless tooth.

Just before Christmas last year I went to the dentist with what I thought was a cracked crown. After poking around then x-raying the tooth he informed that I had a broken a root and that the tooth would have to be taken out. He then asked if I would like it taken out there and then. 'No thank you' I mumbled back and added that I did not think that five days before Christmas was a good time to have a tooth out. He replied that there was never a good time to have a tooth out and then went on to explain my options once the tooth had been taken out. The cheapest option is to leave the gap unplugged, which is not a good idea as the adjacent teeth can move leading to problems with your bite. Also food can slide out between the teeth and the cheek. The next option pricewise would be to have a denture on a plate - even the dentist considered that to be a non starter. The next rung up is a bridge which is effectively a triple crown as it involves crowning the teeth either side of the gap. Finally there is the most expensive and current state of the art option which is to replace the extracted tooth with an implant. My dentist does not do these himself, but would refer to another dentist in the pratice that does.  He left me to ponder the options over Christmas and New Year.

Husband and I gave the matter some thought over Christmas and decided to go for an implant. Although this is the most expensive option in the short term, I can see all manner of problems with a triple crown which in the long term would make that the more expensive option. When I returned, to the dentist in January expecting to arrange to have the tooth extracted, he had already discussed my tooth with his colleague so I was simply referred on. My next appointment was in ten days time and was in fact a consultation to explain the procedure in more detail than my dentist had been able to and to assess if I and my teeth were suitable for an implant which can only be done if the patient and their teeth are healthy. In addition the patient must be prepared to keep their teeth clean and if a smoker to give up smoking. I have never smoked so that is not a problem and I have always looked after my teeth as I intend to keep them. Even my 92 year old mother still has her own teeth although not much else. During the consultation the dentist measured my mouth from every angle then finally said that an implant could be done. Before he went any further I needed to have an CT scan of my mouth, in order to determine the height of bone in the sinus area above the tooth and to check for any infection. The dentist arranged it via a diagnostic imaging technology company in London (200 miles away) who in turn arranged the scan at The Dental Academy in Daresbury (15 miles away).

By now it was mid February and off I went to The Dental Academy in Daresbury. It was like a miniature version of Downton Abbey all wood block floors, leather sofas and potted plants. The dentist's consulting room/surgery, there, was like a spaceship with brights lights and chrome everywhere. He happened to say that he had four patients with the same name as me on his books. So I wasn't surprised when a couple of weeks later I received an invoice for someone else's treatment. It went straight back and I have heard no more about the matter. After the scan the results  were to be sent to the diagnostic imaging technology company in London for computer processing. It was another three weeks before I heard from my dentist. The height of the bone in the sinus area above the tooth (second back from my eye tooth) was about 2.4mm short of the required minimum, which meant that I would need a sinus graft between having the tooth extracted and having the implanted fitted. I had been advised that this would probably be the case, as most people do not have enough bone in that area to hold the implant securely. Crunch time had now arrived and I needed to make an appointment to have the tooth extracted. This is the part of the whole process that I feared the most, as I had not had a tooth out since I was 14, which was a  long time ago and it had been done under gas. This time it would be a local anaesthetic. Actually it was not nearly as bad as I had feared that it would be and I would still rather go to the dentist than the hairdresser. Whatever the dentist might do you leave  looking pretty much the same as when you arrived. I frequently leave the hairdresser looking as if I have had a fight with a combine harvester!

Once the tooth was removed I had to wait ten weeks for the gum to heal before the sinus graft could be done. This was done four weeks ago now. While I was googling, to find out what I could about it, I noticed that there was a clip of the procedure on youtube. A bit too grisly to watch, I thought. It took two hours for the dentist to do the sinus graft procedure which involves opening up the gum, above where the tooth was, in order to access the sinus and putting in some donor bone to build up the extra height required. While I was in the dentist's chair I had no idea how long it was all taking. The right side of my mouth was numb but I was aware that there was a lot of poking and pulling going on. By the time that the dentist had finished I had four stitches that would need to be removed and several that would dissolve. My instructions were to complete a seven day course of antibiotics, take pain killers if needed, to use a chlorhexidine mouthwash for two weeks, to use an ice pack to reduce the swelling, to sleep with an extra pillow, to eat a soft diet for two weeks and to take things easy. Then there were the don'ts - don't blow your nose or sneeze, don't sleep on your right side, don't bend over. By the following day the right side of my face was swollen and bruised. I looked like something a from the freak show at the fair. The swelling went down in about five days but the bruising took about two weeks to go and in that time it changed through most of the colours of the rainbow. Expecting that I might be feeling sorry for myself I had decided to take the following week off work. I was mighty glad that I had done so. The things we do for vanity. Patience is now the name of the game as it will be six months before I know if the graft has been a success.

Monday 1 August 2011

All change

Since I finished covering the maternity leave, about a month ago, I have struggled to get into any sort of routine, which is not surprising really, as during July every week was different. So far my plans to do a late Spring clean of the cottage and to clear the garden of weeds are barely more than plans.

The first week husband worked at home on the Monday driving to Halifax on Tuesday, instead of Monday as is usual. This was because we went to see Neil Diamond in Manchester on Monday evening. That week I worked on Wednesday, which is supposedly my regular day until the end of August. Week two I was back to working two days as I covered for a colleague's holiday and I finished the week on Friday with two hours in the dentist's chair. (More about that in the next post). The next week I had off (well just a day really) to get over the dentist and boy did I need it! The following week I had swopped my day and worked on Tuesday, as I was going out to a meeting on the Wednesday, which if I had worked allowed me just 30 minutes between arriving home and going out again. It's a rush that I could do without. So with four weeks down and five more to go I shall be working each Wednesday in August which has no meetings because of the holiday season. We do, however, have MIL, SIL and husband visiting at August Bank Holiday. I am hoping that the run up to their visit will be smoother than it was last year.

There seems to be an almighty amount of catching up to do in the cottage and garden. Over the last twelve months life seems to have been lived at high speed in the fast lane with seven days being crammed into five, as on the two days that I have worked absolutely nothing else has got done. I wonder how I managed in days gone by, when I worked full time. I know that I was younger but to be honest the job was not so frantic. It was 9-5 not 9-6 as it is now, which makes a lot of difference. It was no where near as busy and people were less demanding.

This work stint finishes on August 31, as does husband's current contract. Then we have a few days at home before we go off to Brittany for a break. When we return husband has some jobs to do before we venture into the unknown. Husband who is not a very good patient is having his cataracts done. On eye one week then the other eye the following week. Once his eyes have recovered he will need completely different glasses.