Trial and Error

Quote of the Day

‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’ – Thomas Edison

Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.’ – Bruce Lee


Since Phase 2 of this journey began my life has been pretty much about trial and error with regards to most situations. Especially since my operation and the radiotherapy. It’s often been in peaks and troughs where one week I’ll think I’m doing really well and then next week it’s often like a little Gremlin has taken the rug from under my feet and said hang on a minute don’t be so cocky get back in bed and stay there. This leaving me pretty wiped out and sometimes extremely low.

For instance, just today I have spent the majority of my time in bed feeling really weak and achy. Hence why I have decided to write this blog in the hope to actually achieve something today. It’s the after effects of a week that’s had some highs and extremely lows.  From unfortunately losing one of my dearest and bravest friends, to celebrating Ste’s birthday with some friends and getting my tattoo finished (sorry mum and dad). It’s been an emotionally tiring week for me and that’s I think when I struggle the most. That and listening to too many drunk conversations pretending like I haven’t heard the story several times before.

Social Butterfly

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a social butterfly I’m certainly not inundated with invites come the weekend but I’ve always been pretty sociable. I will always talk to anyone and say hello and I can even enjoy myself without having a drink and have done for years on and off having cancer. Since the operation and the radiotherapy though this has certainly changed a bit. I rarely feel comfortable going out to places I don’t know or more to the point they don’t know me. I’m also reliant on other people not just in terms of cadging a lift but also to act as a bit of a buffer for me when my words get stuck. As soon as I feel conscious of myself in that I think people are wondering why I am wearing ear plugs and/or ear defenders that’s when there’s like a switch in my head and suddenly my words won’t come out. I can be having a fluent conversation one moment (if you could ever call my broad Darwen accent fluent) then then next I’m struggling to string a sentence together. It’s the same when I get asked questions.

It’s like when my kids are lying and trying to think of what to say that will get them out of trouble the only difference is I’m often not lying (or am I??). I can also struggle listening to someone for long periods of time. This lack of being able to communicate and listening is known as aphasia it can be caused by a stroke, severe head injury, brain tumours (in my cause), even early signs of dementia. It doesn’t however affect your intelligence so when people start talking to me slower because I’m struggling to get my words out, I do often think ‘NOB’. But it’s not their fault to be honest they’re trying to be kind and helpful it’s just a lack of understanding in the situation and a lack in me being able to communicate properly.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

One thing I’ve always enjoyed watching is comedy programmes. When I was younger, I used to do a few little impressions or ‘skits’ as my mum would call them. I think the main ones being Victoria Wood’s Kimberley, David Bellamy crawling from a rock, Kenny Everett’s ‘All in the possible taste’, Frank Spencer’s ‘Oooh Betty’ and my lovely Nan with her Zimmer frame. Like the material it was relatively small and selective i.e.  just my family that would get the pleasure of viewing (some may say enduring) these shows. I used to love making them laugh seeing the smiles on their faces. This is something that I still love doing now but more within my writing I like to think that if someone is reading something that I’ve wrote or an experience I’ve shared and it puts a smile on their face or makes them laugh then it’s worth making a bit of fool of myself in the process. I also used to love going to stand up comedy shows Micky Flanagan, Peter Kay, Sarah Millican and John Bishop being some of my favourite ones. So, I thought a good trial night out would be to my local library theatre. It’s small enough that I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, the tickets were relatively cheap and if I didn’t feel well, I could quickly get home.

The show must go on

The week prior I had had a pretty bad seizure. In that I had loss the ability to communicate and tie my shoes (all my motor skills had gone). Ste ended up rally driving me to A&E where I spent several hours waiting in a corridor for an MRI head scan. Thankfully everything was fine and I was discharged that night. Ste said it was like I’d been on spice. I mean if it was no offence to anyone but I certainly did not feel any of the highs probably more of the come downs.

This is why I wanted to do something and just be stuck at home. I was feeling pretty good the week after (probably more due to the steroids come to think of it) and if I’ve learnt anything you can’t put your life on hold for what may or may not happen you just have to test the water to see what you can do but not get too annoyed if those plans get put on hold because you’re not up to it.

We booked the tickets and asked our next-door neighbours Paul and Daniela if they wanted to come. We got a taxi into town so they could all have a drink and went to a nice bar beforehand. This bar also just so happened to have dance music playing at which point Ste said he could see I was struggling and thought ‘I’m in for a good night here’!!!

We had one drink and headed to the library theatre. If anyone has been to Darwen Library theatre you will know it’s relatively small and in all honestly can be hit and miss with the comedy acts but that’s all part of the fun. The compare is normally pretty good and often has been Justin Moorhouse. Hats off to anyone that can get up on a stage in front of a room full of people and not only try to make them laugh but try to not to ruin their night in the process (it’s a pretty tough job).

We walked in and headed straight for the back with our drinks from the bar. (Tip never sit on the front row as it’s more than likely you’ll get picked on). Going to our seats Paul saw someone he knew from work and started to bore him with shop talk. I tried to rescue the poor guy but he seemed pretty content having his ear chewed off. Daniela and Ste started to drink their drinks pretty fast, they had gone for let’s get two as we might die of thirst if we don’t as it could be a whole 45 minutes before an interval….it was then I thought I’m in for a good night here!!!

The compare came on it wasn’t Justin Moorhouse this time it was some Scottish ginger guy (who was ok to be fair). It was then I noticed one of my old primary school teachers Mr Jennings sat in the row in front, but I wasn’t 100% certain at this point. Paul finally sat down and I asked him if he thought it was, being we had both gone to the same school. In fact, I remember my first day in reception sitting next to him. (It must have been fate that he was destined to be near me and bore me forever by the way if he’s reading this, he will know I am joking). At this point Paul was pretty hammered and wouldn’t ask the bloke sat in front. Ste who obviously must have got pretty fed up with our childish tilly tattle tapped Mrs Jennings on the shoulder and asked if he was in fact who we thought he was.

It was Mr Jennings who was out with his wife probably having a good night up until this point. He said he remembered us and for some strange reason I decided to tell him about the misjustice I had endured some 30 years ago where I had been wrongly accused (bollocked I think was actual word that came out of my mouth) for doing something I hadn’t actually done. I think on this occasion it was wetting toilet paper and throwing it up at the ceiling and on the walls. I told him he had gone red with rage which I’m sure he will agree he was well known for this trait but he pointed out that it may have been from the red wine the night before. Which now having two children of my own I can totally empathise with. It was then he and his wife asked how old both me and Paul were and how long ago it was since we left school. At which point I was unable to answer not because I didn’t know but for me at the moment to try and work out dates/years from and to it’s almost impossible. Paul was no better at responding either but that was more due to being under the influence of alcohol. It could have been at this point Mr Jennings may have totally questioned his choice of career and 40 years plus worth of teaching! It was also at this point Ste had to step in and explain to his wife that I wasn’t well.

Always know your nearest exits

The next act came on and to be honest they can’t have been that memorable as I can’t even remember who they were. I just remember I was slowly starting to struggle more and more to the point I had now put the ear defenders on. It was then the interval where everyone makes a bee line for the toilets. I was stood in the que for the ladies with Daniela in front. She had gone into the next cubicle while I was stood waiting in the corridor for the next person to come out. Ste walked past and asked if I wanted another drink I said yes and he said did Daniela want one. To this I replied ‘Does a bear shit in the woods’ only then to realise I may have said it slightly too loud due to the fact I had my ear defenders on and that the now pretty long que of women maybe from the ages of mid-forties upwards may have also just heard. I turned round to notice the women behind me smiling.

The interval was over and the compare came on to introduce the next act. At this point I was really struggling in that my vision had gone a bit blurry and I couldn’t understand the compare. Like you do on a plane I started to look for my nearest exits which obviously avoided being picked out by the compare or comedian. It was then the next act was introduced and he had a guitar in his hand. I thought sod this I need to make my escape Ste had seen this state of panic in my face so knew I needed to go luckily, we made our exit out the back and went to get a taxi home. When we did my head was still ringing so I just needed to sit in a quite room for a bit.

The day after was a bit of a write off in the sense that I was really tired but did I regret going out no not at all. To be honest I had a good night although it was cut short it just felt good to be doing something I enjoy even if not in full. I just need to accept I can’t do all of the same things my friends can do now. However, I can keep testing the water dipping my toe in every now and then and see if things are improving and hopefully enjoy more moments that I can share with you in the process.

Lessons Learnt

  1. Laughter is the best kind of medicine
  2. Teachers may not always remember your miscarriages of injustice 30 years later so get over them now
  3. Should you want to experience Colin McRae rally driving then Ste is available to hire (helmets are not included)
  4. Challenge yourself and dip your toe in the water maybe even an ankle every now and then
  5. Be aware of your surroundings when wearing ear defenders


    14/06/2022 / 20:47

    Love reading your posts Rachel and you never fail to put a smile on my face 🙂 Keep dipping that toe in! X

  2. Catherine Leacg
    14/06/2022 / 23:45

    Well what an adventure and you got through it all intact! Well done!!!! Xxx

  3. Jeanette
    15/06/2022 / 09:31

    …. As always Rachel love your blogs… You definitely still have the ability to make us laugh! Loving your tips/words of wisdom… Keep dipping your toe in the water.. Xxxx

  4. chris jepson
    16/06/2022 / 08:30

    Another great blog Rach. You never fail to make me smile and laugh through these.

    Although many of us can’t truly understand what you are going through, you always manage to find nuggets that we can all relate to (much like a good comedian does!!) and they continue to inspire.

    Keep dipping those toes in 😉xxx

  5. Lindsay
    25/06/2022 / 11:29

    You have a fab way of taking us along in the tale, and in a way that makes us feel all the feels. I love how you love to make folk laugh and yes it’s definitely the best medicine xxx

  6. Lindsey
    10/07/2022 / 21:36


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