Thursday, 21 May 2009


The fight to survive is a powerful thing. These poor plants were posted to a friend of mine, Jane, knowing she had moved house and they would be a nice surprise to add to her new but not very full garden. They were well wrapped in moist tissue polythene and a suitable cardboard box. Posted the 10th April having been told they should be there the following day. They arrived today at my address. Jane had made a typing error and one digit in the post code was incorrect. It has taken the Royal Mail 31 days to return this parcel. So beware those sending any precious item in the post.
Now the plants ability to survive is amazing. The Hosta has lots of little embryo flower buds which is possibly part of its fight to survive. Many plants flower under adverse conditions wanting to produce seed before possible death.
At the end of this post I will tell you of another valiant fight for survival but first enjoy the photos.

I decided to make a start on these buttercups they have had their own way for the last couple of years but not any more I am having a rest after ousting some of them.

This lovely Poppy was grown from seed and I much prefer it to the gaudy red/orange one I have had in the garden for some years.

This geranium marginata is such a lovely plant, in and not in flower, with nice autumn colour on the leaves. It does not have a second flowering though like some geraniums.

This is the only type of Peony I have in the garden and I have split and divided over the years. It was here when we moved in.

Knowing Rob likes ferns I thought I'd show this on the side of the drive. Last but not least a marvelous plant, Gunera I know not in the right spot but where else can it go we already have some near the pond. Do you think we will be able to get the car out of the garage this year? It is already getting quite big.

Another fight for survival.
Jane my friend who didn't received her plants is the mother of three lovely young ladies. Jane's eldest Elizabeth spent from aged 9 suffering with ME/CFS. Due to her health she was home schooled but excelled in her studies. She became house bound and bed ridden with many symptoms but ending with swallowing difficulties. Jane was told of the Breakspeare Hospital in Hemel Hempstead, they were having some success with treating their ME/CFS patients.
Jane was advised against taking her daughter to the Breakspear by the ME/CFS charity dealing with children, but in desperation and at considerable expense Jane decided she would take Elizabeth there.
At aged 17 Elizabeth was diagnosed with Lyme Disease following blood tests. She was treated on a combination of IV antibiotics, antivirals and supplements for many months but made a good recovery.
Elizabeth remains well two years later and the last two winters has been working in a ski resort in Switzerland. Skiing by day , minding the bar at night and partying into the early hours of the morning. How amazing is that?
Many people with ME/CFS have been found to have Lyme Disease and helped to recovery on long term antibiotic treatment. How many people do you know with ME/CFS how many of them are tested or assessed for a bacteriological illness not just Lyme Disease. Many people with ME/CFS can point to an illness at the start, but the assumption is that the bacteria don't persist. Some pioneering Doctors throughout the world are realising that some microorganisms are in fact very difficult to eradicate with just short courses of antibiotics but can manifest as chronic ill health.
Just such a sad waste of a child's life but sadly there are too many similar stories.


  1. Hope that the plants pull through. Hard to believe that they took so long to return to you but nothing surprises me now about the post. I am pleased to hear that Elizabeth is now making good progress but what a distressing few years for her and her family :(

  2. Hi Anna
    Well it's been potted up as has the agapanthus so I will keep my eye on it in my nursery area.

    I am sure Jane will appreciate your kind comment about Elizabeth, when she reads my blog.

  3. My goodness, what a happy ending to a scary story. Skiing and partying like a carefree young thing, thank goodness for that. And the hosta....well it too had the will to live well. We often see plants for sale in boxes and plastic bags at the home improvement stores growing right inside the plastic. My daughter Semi will buy them every time, to save them.

  4. Semi

    Like mother like daughter. I ams o pleased she enjoys nuturing plants. Both my daughters love growing plants.

  5. It is pretty amazing to see how well those plants are doing after so much time in a box.

    I'm very glad to read the happy outcome about your friend's daughter. It's been interesting to learn more about Lyme disease on your blog,

  6. Those are some amazing roots on that hosta! I wonder if you can find a way to put it in the ground. It is certainly a testament to its will to survive! I'm glad your friends daughter made it through the storm and is well now--as are you! I have 3 horrible tick bites that I just got in the past week. One is still a big welt on my neck. The other 2 are scars. I've been bitten by ticks before and never have they left behind such itching and swelling! Only one of them was very tiny. The rest didn't look to be deer ticks. I still might go to the dr. to be sure.

  7. one spring, many years ago I moved a small garden shed. I was told it had been there forever. I did not have time to do anything with my 'new space' for about a week, when I got round to it there were shoots from 2 peony plants!! Like you say plants have an incredible survival instinct.
    Your friend's story is sad in that she missed out childhood , but great that inspite of beeing so sick for so long she is now a happy healthy person. I wish every Lyme story had a happy ending, but beacuse of politics and EGOs of powerful people many sufferers suffer till death. Oh! how I wish THEY could see what they are doing to their own kind.
    I could talk about this forever but perhaps I have talked too long already.

  8. Hiya,
    I got waylaid from saying what a beautiful flint/brick wall by your ME/Lyme story.
    If the girl still has swallowing difficulties, then it sounds more like MG to me, rather than ME.
    My life has been blighted by Myasthenia Gravis, and i know that the most obvious symptoms of recurring attacks are not being able to swallow or keep your eyelids open, your head straight or raise your arms. (In fact, not able to to anything much, once it gets a hold).But there are definite bloodtests to determine that by measuring anti-bodies.
    Assessment is always a problem for any of these debilitating conditions. I used to think I was just lazy.
    Reading about your experiences with Lyme, makes me reluctant to go out in our woods again, like I have been doing for so long. We have plenty of deer around and before now I used to walk through the areas were they hang out without a worry. Who knows: those funny ringshaped scars with a spot in the middle may not be as innocent as I thought.
    We need education and information. I always thought we were safe over here. But who can tell for sure until it is too late?
    Great job of opening our eyes to the threat and what to look out for.
    Feel free to zap this.

  9. Dear Joanne,
    I am really trying hard to catch up on blogging. You may notice! :) I have been so far behind, but I am trying to get there.

    Great pictures again and wonderful story of your friend's daughter. I have that Oriental Poppy also. It is stunning!

    The more I hear you talk of Lymes Disease, the more ignorant I feel I have been on this subject. I am grateful that I am becoming better educated. I had no idea that people had been suffering so much with this and that it has been so misdiagnosed.

    As you say, it has been sad that your friends daughter has suffered so when there has been a simple treatment all along. I am so glad that eventually she was treated correctly and is having a practially normal life now. That really is an amazing story.

    Thanks for sharing that with us.

    Have a grat Thursday.
    Cheers, Pauline

  10. Hi On this occassion I will not answer each comment individually.

    I would say that the Prof Randall entamologist said at the Lyme Disease action conference last year 'where there are deer there will be deer tick and where there are deer tick an unknown percentage of them will have borrelia(Lyme disease)'
    Any tick feeds off mammals and the small mammals are where the infection pool is. So if you know you have a tick bite there are those that would choose to take prophalactic antibiotics. Taken at the time of the bite can reduce risk of infection that may not emerge for many years. I am in touch with people who have gone from childhood bite to my age nearly 60 before being diagnosed.
    When my local paper ran an article a year ago I was contacted by a woman who was being investigated for Myasthenia Gravis. She had done the usual rounds of doctor, consultant. When she rang me she was being treated on antibiotics for a bladder infection and her symptoms had magically responded. When the antibiotics ended she a fiesty woman rang me in tears and despair her symptoms had come back with avengence. She eventually after seeing a specialist doctor privately had blood tests confirming Lyme Disease. She is doing well and managed to travel to visit her son in Long Island from UK. The year before she had been bed ridden and unable to travel to his wedding. Her NHS doctors are still dismissive even inspite of her obvious recovery.

    My scarriest symptom was the swallowing difficulties. When I was given Clarithromycin with the amoxicillin these symptoms eventually went. I have been fortunate not to have gastric problems but many have very serious chronic GI problems serious weight loss as well as gain are both common problems associated with Lyme. Many of the people I converse with on Eurolyme are far sicker than I have been and struggle longer to regain there health.

    I know I am cranky where lyme is concerned but there is much evidence to suggest it is far more widespread than our authorities are saying. Dr Jemsek at a recent gala said 'out of the top 20 chronic health problems only two have a known cause.' Lyme like syphillis can affect every system in the body, but it is far more complex. see my links top right into Research and also Judith Miklossy. watch the trailer in Under our Skin also have a look through their site at other clips. The DVD is amazing and as a film is being released currently in many cinemas in USA.

    There may be someone close to you who's doctors have never considered Lyme as a possible diagnosis.
    At the very least gives advice how to protect yourself and still enjoy as I do my woodland walks.

  11. Elizabeth's story is quite incredible.
    If only she'd been diagnosed correctly earlier.

    That Gunnera can get mighty big (I'm sure you already know that).

    Get those plants photosynthesizing and I'm sure they'll pull through.


  12. Rob Thanks yes I know the Gunnera get's big but it has been around for some years and we have coped so far perhaps not this year.

    The plants are potted up so I will enjoy watching them go green.

    Elizabeth's story sadly is like so many more. France is a particular hotspot, in many areas for Lyme but even more difficult to get doctors to treat adequately that is if they even diagnose it. However there is a group of Dr/researches that came up with some useful research a few months ago from France.

    I am in touch with a young girl struggling with encephalitis and many other symptoms,a mother whose son was bed ridden with neurological symptoms and GI symptoms but now back at school. Another whose husband had heart block. A widow whose husband set fire to himself and died. A woman who has struggled many years with a host of neurological symptoms and many other but severe head pain. All as a consequence of a tick bite in France.

  13. I'm so glad that story had a happy ending. Love the crinkled poppy. Actually I love it all - looks great. What a fun time of year! Busy and maddening (weeding) but fun!

  14. Thanks Rain Gardener.

    I won't have access to the computer for a little while so I will miss all your lovely posts.

  15. It seems everyone's poppies are out ahead of mine.

    Love buttercups.

    It's funny how things work - for a while, Doctors thought my epilepsy was a virus.

    Sometimes, like Jo, I wonder if I am lazy - but when I am well I do everything with such zest I know there is a definite difference between being lazy and being unwell.

    I've been thinking about you and your garden and the way you like things which are sometimes not valued in other gardens - like buttercups and think it may be something to do with not always being strong in health which makes one look at things close up and appreciate life wherever it manifests itself - as in your parcel. Maybe physical weakness makes us value struggle too?


  16. Joanne knows that these poor plants were meant for my garden - thanks to a typo error on my part the Royal Mail did not deliver them, although 99.9 percent of the address was correct. I would have loved to have them here.

    I was amazed by how they managed to survive life in a dark box.

    I should like to thank everyone who has commented about my daughter. We were fortunate that in the end we finally found a doctor who took us seriously - but it took eight years to do that.

    Elizabeth missed out on half her childhood which is something I will always regret. The saddest thing of all is that there are children just like her up and down this country who do not get diagnosed. She became ill because I used to take her to a park where there was a beautiful herd of deer.

    We were told she had ME, which in reality meant that the health system just washed their hands of her. However ill she became nothing was done because it had been decided that somehow it was all in her head. As a family we knew she was physically ill, but getting anyone to believe us was virtually impossible.

    We are fortunate in that we were able to pay for the treatment to get her well - the best part of £30,000 to get her better. Many are not in this position.

    At the moment there is NOT a single paediatrician in the whole of the UK who understands this illness. As it is so complicated doctors need to start waking up to the need to find out properly about tick borne illnesses.

    Ticks don't care who they bite. Yesterday on a German website I saw that children there are considered high risk. It is known that ticks carry infection, so it follows that children get sick. However, when these children become ill they need doctors to treat them, not just say there, there, it's all in your head. Go away and keep out of our hair and once you are invisible we can all pretend that somehow it is your fault that you are ill.

    I am afraid that is how we were made to feel for a very long time. It's very hard having a child who is ill but no one quite believes is ill. Unless you have been in that situation you cannot believe that doctors will just shrug their shoulders and just because they don't know what to do with you just leave the child to rot.

    In many ways Elizabeth spent a number of years locked up in her dark box. She was always very bright and kept up with her school work. Her year group stopped talking to her when she did better than them in exams and would walk past her as if she was invisible.

    Proper treatment has allowed her to jump right out of that box and back into real life - it is a much better place for any person to be.

  17. Jane
    Thank you for telling your story of Elizabeth in more detail.

    The recent article in the Telegraph today proof that ME is not all in the mind is of interest. Especially in that they are recognising the benefits of treating with antibiotics.

    What a pity our doctors are so quick to dismiss as all in your head or send us away with steroids or anti depressants even a short course of antibiotics for some people have provoked a response. Not exactly rocket science this lyme business.