Book Review Eva Jordan’s new novel “All the Colours in Between”

I was fortunate to be given an ARC via The Book Club on Facebook in return for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

I must be honest with you.  When I asked to review this book by author Eva Jordan I had not read the first book in the series, “183 Times A Year”, so my first stop was to do just that.  I read the books back to back so it is possible I may muddle some events, BUT the first thing that I would recommend is that you do read the first novel before embarking on “All the Colours In Between” for both maximum background and enjoyment.  I will try my best not to give any spoilers for the second book!

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The modern blended, extended family.  Marriage, divorce, teenagers, love, deceit, 3 generations, ex partners, friends, illness, flying the nest – this list is the tip of the iceberg of the life topics to be found in “All the Colours In Between”.  Lizzie is the mum, step mum, lover, daughter, ex-wife, friend and mentor driving the story of her family and the individual members life journeys.  She lives with her daughter, step daughter and son – all young adults by this book – and her partner Simon.  Her parents play a huge role in the family, along with her brother and his family and not forgetting the rollercoaster that is best friend Ruby.  The relationship with her ex, the father of Cassie and Connor, is strained at best.  But at this point Lizzie has become an author against all the odds – selling real books and featuring in the best sellers list – whilst in the first book she dreamed of this whilst working with books as a librarian.images (2)

In this book Lizzie’s daughters Cassie and Maisie have grown up, ditched their teen disguises, spread their wings and left home. Her son Connor has evolved from a lovely pre-teen into a grunting, hoody wearing, sullen sixteen year old.  I normally write a bit more about the plot in my reviews, but I really don’t want to give too much away.  Reading both of Eva Jordan’s novels gave me the same feeling that I had when I first saw the BBC comedy Outnumbered.  I was certain that someone had planted cameras in my household!  Of course as mum I identify with Lizzie – so much.  When she describes her conversations with her children and her own parents, I was shouting “Yes!”  The feelings of exasperation trying to get through to a teenage boy who looks like a man, is the size of a man, sounds like a man, and thinks he is a man yet is really a man boy – these could have been penned by yours truly!  The descriptions of her forays onto Social Media mirrored my own – my young adult kids shake their heads and ask themselves why they introduced me to it!

But Ms Jordan shakes up the commentary by writing different chapters with the voices of different family members.  In the first book she writes as Lizzie and Cassie for the majority of the time, and in this book Connor features to a greater extent too.  The Cassie of “All the Colours In Between” is older, slightly wiser, but still hilarious in her ability to use completely the wrong phrase or to misunderstand a saying.  Whilst her story is extremely dark in places, her love for her family shines through from start to finish.  Her description of a particularly stressful car journey with Maisy toward the end of the book is just hilarious – no spoilers, so no more!  Connor is that teen who feels misunderstood by all adults, is just experiencing sexual attractions, the pull of alcohol, spliffs and parties, yet is still damaged from the rejection by his father as a young child.  Maisy has moved across the world as true love struck, but when life took an unexpected turn (including a meeting with biological mum) it is her family who she returns to.Book Review - All the Colours In Between

I really could write an essay about this book, but needless to say I LOVED IT!  There is no sugar coating life here – relationships fail, family life is hard work to maintain, good things happen and shit happens.  Eva Jordan gives us it all in a way that had me laughing out loud one minute – particularly with Salocin, the grandfather – and then crying the next.  But no matter what life throws at them, this family will continue to grow and love each other….with some hiccoughs along the way. I cannot wait for the next instalment…..please, Eva Jordan!

Five golden stars from me.

 

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Dear Hubby….

Dear Hubby,

I woke up this morning wondering how we got here.  If we had known on this day all those years ago what was in store, I wonder if you..or I…would have turned up at Chelsea Registrar’s office?Scan0023

But we did, and here we are, having weathered the storms, the unexpected, the joys and some dark times.  Back then it was just going to be us and your beloved Lotus 7, having been told that babies were not likely when I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome aged 20.  The first storm – for you at least – was the realisation, soon after we bought our flat in Fulham, that we couldn’t afford the parking space to go with it! So the first Lotus 7 had to be sold as leaving it on the road – even the posh road to Bishop’s Park and the Palace that we overlooked – was not going to happen.  Scan0025

Of course at this time we had no idea about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – had never heard of it – we just knew I had a host of problems and had already undergone major back surgery and was very bendy. Life in London was great, wasn’t it?  I don’t think that brand new kitchen was cooked in very often as we dined out down the Kings Road or in Fulham most nights.  But all good things come to an end, and you began craving another sports car(!) so the hunt was on to move out of London.  Soon after the move to our first house came another joy in the shape of a second Lotus 7. But within months came probably our biggest unexpected piece of news….I went to the GP for a once over before starting a new job, feeling generally unwell – and came out 3 months pregnant whilst taking HRT.  Hmmm….that little 2 seater didn’t last long either.

There has been redundancy; more babies – including the tummy bug that didn’t go….oops! your little girl…..3 caesarians & increasing back pain; another house move to the same road as your in laws(!); hideous working hours for us both, including 6 day weeks and night shifts; increasing migraines; more dislocations; IBS; school choices; more back pain and finally on the eve of Obama’s first term in office – the straw that broke this nurse’s back!  Then a career lost – permanently.

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And 2 becomes..5

We are quite a few years on and many more major surgeries to add to the list.  Not forgetting the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome diagnosis – for me and the kids.  A life threatening illness for one of our parents and then your own health taking the full brunt of all our traumas. That was a scary time for us all to watch you disintegrate.

But…..we are here still standing – you at least! Me – I spend more time on the ground these days (laugh everyone!).  The kids had to grow up fast and have all turned out to be pretty bright (not sure where that came from), independent & resourceful – so long as we’re not talking about tidiness and cleaning!!  We have had to accept that I need you to officially be my “carer” – which I still hate – as my health declines, and this has been hard for us both having worked and earned from the age of 18.

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Look what arrived today!

But…..with a bit of juggling, fantastic parents and wonderful friends we are doing ok, aren’t we?  No we haven’t any money for holidays, and we worry about being unable to help the kids out financially, but this has led to our young adults working and earning – be it paper rounds, babysitting or writing websites! We are spending more time together as a family, you are enjoying setting up your own small venture and taking on a role at the kids’ old primary school, which has been the making of you. Who would have thought it a couple of years ago!  You never – or rarely – complain about me and I do know that on those really bad days, when the pain flares and I can’t settle, or the black dog (not Sam!) surfaces I can be awful to live with.  Plus there are the endless trips to hospitals across London and the different specialists to keep track of.

Neither of us signed up for this, but then you never know what is round the corner. In a funny sort of way maybe life is actually more fulfilling now.  We certainly both have almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and all that goes with it!

So back to the beginning…..it was a pretty dreary day and actually raining when we walked out as Mr & Mrs (at least I did prevent you walking me over the road to Stamford Park!) 25 years ago.  But today has been a bright, beautiful autumn day – Happy Silver Wedding Anniversary, hubby!Scan0024

love Claire x

Dear Hubby

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The Stresses of going to University for a Chronically Sick Mum!

I did it!  I survived the week in which the eldest child moved home and the middle one left.  Of course I have to point out that these are not sweet little children any more, but big, hairy men of 21 and 18 who have gathered the clutter of young adult life.

The eldest decided that it will be more cost effective to live at home for his fourth and final year, after paying the high costs of central London living for the past three years.  At the moment I am undecided who is going to find his return home hardest, him or us! His sister was distraught to find he was coming back – she thought that she would be free of both brothers….not one going and one returning!  Her plans to spread the art studio into his bedroom have been thwarted.  He has lived with the bright lights for three years, with only himself to consider (well, and the odd flatmate), whilst we have got used to having a spare room, a varied diet and no concerns about what time he is rolling out of London’s night spots, because out of sight out of mind, right?!

Stresses of Uni

He has already created havoc by deciding to decorate his room before moving back into it – but this has involved emptying said room onto the landing and then moving his flat contents back into the house, which are of course in the hall!  We cannot move for cases and computers and furniture.  So when son number two should have been packing up ready for his imminent departure do you think we could find empty cases?  Actually I don’t know why I am saying “we” as it was very much “I” – if it had all been left to him I’m not sure he would be there now!

This morning on waking with pain and fatigue running through everything, yes even my teeth, I concluded that this going off and coming back from university is pretty stressful.  “But it’s not even you, Mum!” each boy will shout at me, with no understanding that for me the decision to use up all my physical and mental resources, or spoons as we chronic community say, to ensure they are safe and sorted is a no brainer.  The journey from south London to Nottingham was hideous on Friday – there was an accident on the motorway needing an air ambulance, a huge detour and then arrival in the city at rush hour.  The B&B that I had booked, whilst fantastic in that we had a self contained flatlet, proved to be on a nightmare hill and in a huge Victorian house…and you guessed it our apartment was in the basement.  Not for the physically challenged – I needed my wheels by the time we got there – and also not for those trying to adjust to a brand new pair of varifocal specs.  So our arrival in Nottingham saw hubby in his new specs (he has never worn glasses before) trying to help me with my completely dead leg and back pain down a set of wet steps, whilst asking “Are these steps tilting to the side? I think they are at a funny angle”. NO!! It is your brain trying to adjust to new specs, but you are about to drop me…..

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Anyway we deposited the politics student (more nervous than he would admit) to his new home yesterday morning and spent a couple of hours on the very hilly, but very beautiful University of Nottingham campus.  At lunchtime the canteens and coffee shops were full of anxious looking parents and equally anxious, but embarrassed IMG_1385

new students – my son commented that no one had managed to break free of the parents yet! Charming!! The funny thing is that it seems like only yesterday that my parents were dropping me at the nurses’ home where I would live for several years, and I can still remember that feeling of panic that I wouldn’t know who to talk to or where to go.  So it was with some relief that, having told our boy to leave his door open so that he could say hello to flat mates, he informed his brother over messenger last night that he was in the pub with his flatmates.

I can’t believe I am saying this, and I expect I will contradict myself over the next 3 years, but the pain, gastric problems, increased POTS symptoms and body consuming fatigue today, have all been worth it to hear him say “Mum, I can’t talk now, I’m going to the bar with new friends”!

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Don’t tell him, but I’m actually a very proud mum!

Medical professional to Professional Patient

In under ten short years I have found myself well and truly stepping out of one uniform and into another.  I didn’t see it coming, I really didn’t.  But it crept up on me slowly and insidiously from my first surgery aged 21 until at the tender (don’t laugh) age of 39 I was officially declared medically retired. On the scrap heap, put out to pasture, caput!

Somewhere in the depths of my wardrobe hangs a blue nurse’s uniform along with a tiny belt and silver buckle, given to me when I qualified. I’m not sure that the belt would go around a thigh now, let alone my middle!! File_000 (45) These days my uniform is more likely to consist of trackie bottoms, PJs or if I am really lucky, a beautiful, backless hospital gown. Now you are understanding what my new uniform looks like, right?!

 

 

A couple of weeks back I started to write about a visit to the geneticist with my teenage daughter, known here as the lovely girl, and I have been gathering my thoughts around all the different appointments on my calendar recently.  As a medical professional I never appreciated just how many chronic illnesses there are out there, and even less how so many are multi systemic.  In palliative care we prided ourselves on being multi disciplinary but this really only scratched the surface.  Of course all that time I was nurturing my own genetic illness slowly but surely.  It was undiagnosed formerly; always just known as double jointed, bendy, funny circulation, chilblains, headachey, migraines, hormonal, dizzy, faint…..growing pains, sciatica, nerve damage, chronic pain – you get the picture.  But in recent years the pieces of the jigsaw have fallen into place, not always quite in the right places, but we are getting there and the appointment with my lovely girl reinforced this.

My hospital visits over the last month have included the geneticist, rheumatologist, cardiologist, endocrinologist and orthopaedics, not forgetting my GP!  With other symptoms of chronic illness such as fatigue and brain fog, the endless waiting rooms and then repetitious consultations can be exhausting and demoralising.  No one is at fault – it is the system. I have been pleasantly surprised to find that the younger generation of doctors have heard of my condition – Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – and seem to be aware that it can affect all body systems, not just that one that they are currently specialising in!  My eldest, the student engineer was out with friends at the end of term and one of his medical student mates commented upon my son’s shaky hands…..nothing to do with the fact they were in a bar, he assures me!  Anyway he proceeded to show them his bendy fingers – his really feel like there are no bones inside – and then his elbows and knees, and afterwards called me to say that the medics had been taught about connective tissue disorders and had heard of EDS..hurray!

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The Student Engineer – photo taken by Dan McKenzie

Having a diagnosis at just short of turning 15 is a huge leap forward for my girl from the position I was in at her age.  I think that I mentioned before that the genetics consultant wants us to keep an eye on her back as she will be susceptible to problems due to shoulder subluxations and wonky hips.  We know that there is no cure – the endocrinologist was so apologetic that he can’t do any more to help me, whilst the rheumatologist said I have an excellent knowledge of my condition and seem to be managing it well.  Orthopaedics know that I require joint replacement surgery – but I am currently too young and the unknown quantity is the constant dislocations.  The cardiologist is keeping a closer eye on matters and has increased one drug dosage to help with the dysautonomia fainting.

There you have it – in the space of a few years going from medical professional to professional patient!  As I said there is no cure for my kids, just a greater understanding of what might cause problems and what will help to prevent deconditioning. The geneticist told the lovely girl that there is no reason to think she will become a seasoned pro like her mum, to be mindful but to go away and live life.  Funny, but the endocrinologist said something similar to me about living life the best I can.

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My lovely girl on her way out to live…..

 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing….maybe if I had known, I would never have donned that blue dress only to swap it for a beautiful backless (hospital) gown!!  But it may well have made no difference.

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What a difference a decade makes! All dressed up – my last night out before the latest rounds of surgery and hospital visits! The whole family – with my parents and brother.

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You

Monday Magic

Here we are a week into August – and it turns out that what my grandma used to say is true – time really does move faster the older you get!  Where has the year gone? In fact where have all the years gone?

 

 

 

 

I have just taken up the Chair of the alumni committee for my old school – whilst I’ve been on the committee for a few years the shoes I’m filling feel enormous as they were previously worn by my old chemistry teacher – one of my first official roles will be at the 30 year reunion for my own year group in September.  A couple of us are currently tracking down classmates – stalking people on Facebook, Linked In etc according to my kids – and it has unleashed so many memories.

Can it really be 30 years since we left school?  Some of this group know that I am now disabled, but it is going to be a really big deal attending this event in my wheelchair and answering the questions!  I think when I give a little speech at the beginning standing up, I might say that the wheels are to accommodate my high heels!

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Who are those youngsters? Aged about 18 – Duncan in his Rick Astley days!!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The current 18 year old!

 

 

The funny thing is that despite all the physical changes in my body, the family I now have, the career I loved and lost, the exhaustion of life with chronic illness, inside I can still feel that 18 year old.  My own 18 year old just looks at me, shakes his head and tells me I am old – ha, ha, ha, none of us believe it will ever happen do we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing 18

Mum and friends playing at 18 year olds!

So what better way to get over the feeling of being past it, than to find some inspiring blog posts to inject some zest today!  Kick off your shoes, grab a cuppa and settle down for some fantastic reads – I hope you enjoy this week’s gems as much as I have!

https://movementdisordersblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/skimming-through/

https://chronicyogiblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/what-if-it-stays-this-bad-chronic-illness-and-managing-the-what-ifs-spoonie-yoga-day-8/

https://brainlessblogger.net/2017/07/28/managing-work-with-chronic-pain/

https://wheelescapades.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/naidex-the-nec-birmingham/

http://jessicagimeno.com/how-chester-benningtons-music-helped-me-survive-depression-abuse-chronic-pain/

https://kellyontherun.com/2017/07/11/perception-icebergs/

http://www.goldengraine.com/2017/07/26/disabled-full-time-job/

http://www.chronicallypositivemom.com/the-last-lecture-inspiration-for-everyone/

http://www.themerrymomma.com/2017/08/3-ways-building-closer-family/

https://thoughtsinamoment.com/2017/08/03/biofeedback-therapy-with-mindful-nutrition-wellness/

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From Chronically Positive Mom blog

Remember to comment, like, share and make a blogger happy!

Claire x

 

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Welcome back, pain pals, for another week and that means another Monday of inspiring blog posts that I have found for you.Monday Magic

I’m not going to write about the ups and downs of life in the Pain Pals house here this week – I still need to write a proper post about genetics, my lovely girl and i can now include our new family handbook….more of this later, I promise!

The dislocations have been fast, furious and very regular over the last week and severe gut pains after every meal have both left me fatigued and sofa bound……but the good news is that I have spent time finding and reading some great new blogs.  I have picked some posts here and they range from chronic illness depicted as sweets, to body image, to a review, to some delicious looking frozen treats – perfect for the summer holidays (if only the sun would come back!!).  If you are a mum of a daughter, or indeed an adolescent daughter, you must read Dear Little Girl With the Smart Mouth – it made me laugh and cry….and read it to my teen girl!

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Image from jthreeNMe blog

So….grab a cuppa, sit down and unwind with these great, inspiring blog posts.  Please, please make someone’s day with a like, a follow, a share or even better a comment!

http://www.healinghugsandhope.com/2017/07/my-chronic-illnesses-as-candy-bars.html

https://www.itsnottoocomplicated.com/home/2017/7/10/a-day-out-with-a-disabled-toddler

http://www.blessingmanifesting.com/2017/07/stop-verbally-abusing-your-body.html/

http://www.sublimemercies.com/2017/07/ableism-beaten-down-and-fighting-back.html

https://readbetweenthelyme.com/2017/07/22/celebrating-3-years-here-at-read-between-the-lyme

https://www.jthreenme.com/dear-little-girl-smart-mouth/

https://brokendownbody.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/but-one-of-my-best-friends-is-black/

http://www.smilesandsundays.com/imak-compression-gloves-review/

http://achysmile.com/index.php/2017/06/12/abdominal-migraine/

http://myfruitfulhome.com/2017/06/29/16-yummy-healthy-frozen-treats/

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Image from My Fruitful Home website

 

Claire x