Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Wanted: An epic holiday (and a normal bilirubin level)

Anyone got one going spare?

We are 72 hours or so from the end of the school year, which means both of the most important people in my life will be on holiday.

The boy and the wife are both excited to get their feet up, go off on adventures and spend some quality time together.

They’ve both worked so hard in 2015.

Complications with gallbladder removal, and obstructive jaundice, have left me a literal shadow of my former self.  I’ve lost 4 stone, or put a more dramatic way, 30% of my total body weight.

I’ve literally been off my feet from the start of May, so they’ve picked up most of my jobs as well as taken incredibly good care of me.

Max has matured so much, becoming the man of the house, taking on tasks like putting the bins out and helping Helen, my wife, with all sorts of tasks.


Finally it feels like the NHS has finally got their act together, and I am now making steady progress towards a full recovery.

Perfect timing for the holidays to come and aid my recuperation, mind I am currently grimacing anytime I consider looking at my bank balance.  And I’ve only managed to do that with one eye open, and for a second or two.

At the same time that a break and quality time together as a family unit is quite literally what any doctor would order, I could really do with getting back to work too.

We have several UK short-breaks planned, which luckily were largely paid for prior to my enforced extended break from self-employment.


To be frank 2015 has taught me many things, with its overriding force-fed-repetitively-rammed-down-your-throat-by-endoscopy theme that you have nothing without your health.

Don’t know why 2015 didn’t get the memo from previous years, but I didn’t really need the reminder.

I’m more grateful for my existence than ever before, and long may that continue.

Albeit hopefully one a little less yellow, and perhaps spent on a sun lounger somewhere beautiful.


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Win some fabulous sports equipment for your kids

We are a relatively sporty household here.

I’ve played amateur sport since childhood.  I was a member of a cricket club, a hockey club, played football for my school and a local boys team as well as playing golf, badminton, tennis, volleyball and trying other things like horse riding and skateboarding.

We had a giant sports cupboard in our home, it had huge double doors, and if you opened them without thought you were likely to get buried under an avalanche of sporting equipment.

I was regularly extolled the costs of all these things, and how expensive children getting into sport is, especially as they grow so quickly and regularly need replacement kit.

One other problem is sports shops tend to do kids equipment as an addition to their core activity, rather than as a speciality.

Meaning parents are often bereft of any quality advice in sports shops, and can end up buying ill-fitting equipment or gear that doesn’t last very long.  All of which makes the process even more expensive.

Which is where Little Big Sports comes in.

Little Big Sports was set up by Katie, a mother of two, who was fed up of getting duff or no advice on where to buy the right size cricket bat for her young son.

The aim of the company is simple, to enable parents to find equipment specifically designed for children under 12 years of age.

Sports covered include: cricket, hockey, athletics, badminton, tennis, swimming, golf, cycling, basketball, netball, rounders, rugby and softball.

They've also recently expanded the product range into outdoor play equipment and trampolines.

The site is easily navigated, organised by sport as well as having a search facility across all of its items.

Everything can be sorted by size and age, but you can get in contact with Little Big Sports for free in order to get specific advice for your child.

Which is what they are all about.

They also want to make the process of buying sporting equipment even cheaper for one family by giving away £50 worth of equipment here, on this blog.

All you have to do to enter is complete the simple rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Little Big Sports sent Max some rather snazzy cricket equipment, to kit him up for the 2015 season.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

When your health scares the life out of your children

2015 hasn’t been entirely kind to the Newbold household.  Since a hospital admission during the first week of January, I’ve really not been at all well.

I’ve had undiagnosed digestion issues for 18 months or so now, and they heightened this year, culminating in a couple of hospital admissions, several visits to accident and emergency as well as a multitude of GP visits and investigations.

It’s been a worrying time, a time of pain varying from mild to hospitalising, of massive unpredicted weight loss and of bouts of jaundice and fatigue.

I've looked better

Then there’s the strongest painkillers, sedatives, nights in hospital, nausea, sickness, fainting, dizziness, blood tests, urine samples, enemas, x-rays, scans, MRI tubes, invasive investigations and endoscopic repairs.

I’ve that much experience and knowledge of the Upper GI now I expect my honorary doctorate to arrive at any time.

Taking one for the team

How many times have your heard or said that you would much rather be ill than see your children suffer?  I’ve lost count, but it’s imagining seeing things from my son’s perspective that has perhaps been the hardest part of all of this.

I’m sure it hard and unsettling for any child to see one of their parents ill, but when you’ve already lost one I’m sure that does little to help your anxiety.

My wife and immediate family have been exceptional over these last few months, I couldn’t feel more loved and grateful, they’ve dealt with Max superbly and exactly as I would have wanted.

We are both blessed and very lucky.

But it has destroyed our routine, the only one he’s really known for ten years.

I’m here every morning and every evening, and can probably accurately estimate the number of times that’s not been the case to be under 20 in the last decade.

He used to having me around.

And as annoying as I am, it must be at least at little disconcerting to not see me.

Saving the NHS

It’s driven me mad in hospital, especially when inefficiencies have led to delays, leading to unnecessary stays in hospital.  My last 8-night hospital stay should have been done in 3 for example.

You can imagine my mood and approach.

However I have discovered it’s a great way for the NHS to save money, leave me on ward for any length of time and everyone else will soon be discharging themselves.

The family I simply wouldn't trade

Max has been reassured as much as possible, and a relatively simple operation in two weeks time, should see me make a return to health (and eating normally) soon afterwards.

He’s pretty resilient my mini-colossus, and he’s just got on with it, not causing any problems, understanding that he really does have to do things at the first time of asking at the moment.

There have been no problems at school, he’s sleeping okay, and he’s not always checking how I am.  There are no obvious signs of negative impact, and he articulates his feelings pretty well.  Those he isn't keeping to himself of course.

However I still think it’s difficult to know the full affect any of this is having on him, and as it isn’t even over yet, I’m not sure we’ll perhaps know that for a very long time.

I remain so very proud of him, and my family.

Life remains as normal as it can for the next few weeks, though I’m still unable to work properly, and only previous financial prudence plus my wonderful wife are keeping us all off the streets for now.

But that's another story.

I hope the remainder of 2015 is kinder to us than it’s been so far.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.