Disclaimer

BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Six Dinner Sid


 These days, my wife and I sleep in separate bedrooms. With the house now to ourselves, we have the room. Also, with my dead arm, I'm told that I fidget too much. But the upshot is that there are now rwo "getting up" events in the house.

Booboo, the sickly cat, makes sure he is around for both! In fact, this morning, I got up at six o'clock and they both wanted food, Two sachets. I put the sachets down simultaneously, as even the greedy Booboo can't eat from two bowls at once. The other cat, Lola, who fortunately doesn't get anywhere near so stressed about food, is therefore guaranteed a place. That said, Booboo is sufficiently savvy that he will look at both bowls, and choose the bowl with the most food in it, even if it means changing bowls halfway. Poor old Lola just "fits in".

Anyway, my wife got up an hour later, and Booboo is acting like he's half-starved again. Three sachets. Fortunately, he's gone to sleep now so I won't see him until lunchtime!

On a more sombre note, I went up to the hospital yesterday and discovered that a guy I'd been chatting to for months (yes, he'd been in that long!) had died. Tony's stroke left him with communication difficulties, but for anybody who took the time and trouble just to chat with him, he was a lovely gent. I suppose this brings home that although I try to be light-hearted, a lot of people on this ward are actually dicing pretty closely with death. Quite sad nevertheless. I never really felt that close when I was there, but I'm very aware that I developed a kind-of tunnel vision, with me very much at the centre. I don't know whether that's the effect of a stroke, or the effect of a month in hospital. Probably, both, certainly stroke messes with a person's brain.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Life this week

Ah, so I have a day to myself today. I've had two events this week, and, don't get me wrong, they were both optional and very enjoyable, but even so, I still have deadlines to meet (get ready in time for a lift, get to the bus stop in time for the bus, etc.) I didn't need to stay in today because I was knackered or anything, just that it is sometimes nice to have lazy days, where you do everything that much more slowly, having long soaks in the bath in the middle of the afternoon, for example.

Monday I met with a guy who, over 20 years ago, was a work colleague. We went out for lunch, just to one of the pubs in the village, and it was better than I expected. I had moules-frites, which of course in France is a staple, but in England they make it sound exotic and whack a large price tag on it. But enjoyable, and something I could eat one-handed!

Yesterday I went - for only the second time - to see a group of other survivors, who meet fortnightly for coffee at the Salisbury Playhouse. I've written about this previously. I get the impression that the group is quite established, and so was happy to fit into my role as "new guy", but was surprised when another chap turned up for the first time. He was interesting, his stroke had barely affected him apart from his sight. I often think that is the most difficult. With me, you can see something is going on as soon as I walk, but his disability isn't visible. There's another chap at the group who's exactly the same.

This chap had his stroke at the start of 2017, so was quite recent, by my standards in any case. I'm about 18 months down the line and I've only just started attending, so.... But it was interesting to hear him say quite bluntly, that so-and-so is ahead of so-and-so, in terms of their disability, and indeed in terms of their apparent recovery. But at first glance, it can be difficult to see the effects caused by a stroke. And certainly one of the ways my stroke affected me was to make me less likely to beat around the bush - it's only really now that I'm feeling the "old" me start to return. You know, just in terms in phrasing things diplomatically when I say things. But again, I'm conscious of all of this - you'd never believed how much more you think about stuff following a stroke! - which is possibly a good topic of conversation for the group.

Funnily enough, the new Stroke Association co-ordinator also turned up yesterday. I think she covers the whole of Wiltshire, poor thing, so spreads herself pretty thinly. But I get the impression that there is a desire to check out everything that is happening on her "patch". And so, inevitably, the question of change came up. Fair enough - even if you decide that things are fine as they are, it's always relevant to ask the question. The group runs pretty peer-to-peer at the moment, which was one of the things that I particularly liked (hey, I'm an anarchist at heart!), even though at this early stage of my involvement I'm pretty much an outsider looking in. I can see the value of having, say, someone who owns a mailing list, just so you can effectively communicate courtesy stuff like a "johnny won't be able to make it next week" kind of message. Also, it'd be useful to have someone as a contact for new attendees. But at the other end of the scale - someone coming up with a week-by-week itinerary, almost - that would be a little too regimented for my liking. Interesting, but as I'm such a noob I think my role in all this is really to keep my mouth shut, and to see what happens. The guy who rocked up yesterday also happened to ask whether there were any organised activities, though he didn't say whether that would have been a turn-on or a turn-off.

Anyway, time to stop this and listen to the very overpaid Jeremy Vine.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Stroke Days

So, even though it is not even 10am, today has been sufficiently stressful to have been effectively a write-off.

We have visitors coming in a month or so, and so I am trying to make the house clean & tidy, albeit I need to do things incredibly slowly. So yesterday I stripped a couple of cushions from one of the sofas. They needed to be washed because we have an incontinent cat, and...... So after a good drying day out on the line yesterday, I brought the covers in (just as it started to rain). But can I get the covers back onto the cushions?

In some respects I can live with this, I'll struggle with it some more, but can always ask my wife to help as a fallback. I mean, it is incredibly depressingthat I can no longer manage to do such a trivial task on my own.

Next, I was hugry so decided to make some porridge for breakfast. I took my insulin as a precursor, but in trying to get the oats out of the cupboard......CRASH! another box had been wedged into the cupboard, which fell out, smashed and emptied its contents everywhere. So, I am denied some cereal which I only bought last week, from a supermarket I hardly ever get the chance to go to, and of course, breakfast was delayed.

I took a decision, which proved unfortunate, to try and clear this cereal up with the hoover, next thing the hoover is blocked with the bloody stuff. So, I then have to unblock the hoover.

Does it sound like I need to always take three steps backwards in order to take one step forward? It feels like it to me. And, of course, breakfast was further delayed.

To make matters worse, I just made my porridge with oats and milk, and got the mix slightly wrong, so the porridge ended up far too runny. So I microwavedit for a little longer, lo and behold, the milk boiled over and covered the microwave oven with porridge. So I had to clean the oven afterwards. And breakfast was further delayed.

By this time, of course, I'm sitting in the middle of the kitchen, crying my eyes out.

I finally composed mysefl, salvaged what "porridge" I could (mostly hot runny milk) and retreated back through to the lounge. Just in time to fight the other cat off! I might have thought that the breakfast was pretty yukky, but it must have looked good enough for Lola to be interested!

So, once I have calmed down, there is still a load of cereal which needs to be cleaned up from the kitchen floor. And I need to make sure I've unblocked the hoover properly, and that the oven is truly clean. Then, I think, it is time to go back to bed.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Daphne

Oh crikey, we lost another hen last night. Three years without events, then two die in a week. I can't help thining that I might have been able to prevent it, as I left the chickens alone all day (as I usually do) despite being in the house for much of the day. I found her at bedtime, so of course it meant a late night trying to revive her. It was weird because sitting with her on me, I thought I could see her heart beating. My first thought was that the cause of death was heat-related, as it was so hot yesterday, so I took her into the bath to put the shower onto her, but she never regained consciousness.

Daphne was a beautiful girl, but she kept humans at arm's length throughout her life. She was very much a wild thing at heart, unfortunately the best we could do was our garden.

Daphne (2014 - 2017)

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

New

Wow - just spent a Wednesday afternoon doing something new, as opposed to my regular stroke drop-in. I went into Salisbury, to the Playhouse, where I met up with a bunch of survivors over a nice cup of coffee. I was told about this ages ago, but as it clashed with my hospital visit, just let it slide. However I really wanted to get my arse into gear and get along.

In the event it was lovely. Most of the people there are survivors, most if not all more distant than me, so hopefully there are things I can learn from them. It is funny that you put all of us together, we all suffer from some stuff but not others, and you end up feeling lucky for yourself. It is perverse. I did say to them that I'd never be able to remember their names, as I had always been terrible at this, though at least I now had an excuse! In truth, that line is one of my stock attempts at a humourous ice-breaker.

But it is nice to meet people who've been through the experience, as one can leave so much unsaid. And especially with something medical such as a stroke - you inevitably meet a lot of people, and conversations tend to be quite narrow. In fact, I'd far sooner talk politics or current affairs, or road cycling even, a zillion things, than about my health, although I have a capacity for both. And when we do talk about the medical side of things, we start from a common hymn-sheet. It was interesting to see that other people had had similar quite poor experiences with the medical profession, although we didn't really get too deep.

So they meet every fortnight, and I must attempt to go again. It sounds quite mercenary, but there are things I can learn from people there in order to improve myself. And hopefully, something I can contribute.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Bump!

An eventful weekend, not particularly in a pleasant way.

Daughter come over - she'd been having trouble with her gall bladder again and had been in hospital - ostensibly to get some rest, but also to bury a couple of her guinea pigs, who had died quite coincidentally within a day of each other. I attempted to help by finding the spade for her, and was opening the garage door, when BANG, Alice had come through the back of the garage, saw the door opening, and decided to push at door, at the same time as I was pulling. So, needless to say, there were lots of cries of pain, and I ended with a bruised and cut shin.

Then, on Sunday, I went through to the kitchen, without anybody telling me that they'd just wiped the floor and that it was currently quite slippery. So, over I go, slipping over onto my knee. So yesterday was spent in a fair amount of pain.

My family is funny about these things. They act as though, because these things are all accidents, that they hadn't intended for these things to happen, that they are no big deal. That in both cases I'm lying on the floor in pain doesn't seem to matter. It's reminiscent to me of the tiny difference between murder and manslaughter - sure, the intention comes into it, but you still have a dead body at the end of it.

It is my daughter's 18th birthday in a couple of weeks, and there is an amount of money, from my late mother, that we agreed she'd inherit when she was eighteen. In fact, I'd got so tired of hearing "can I have some money for this?" or "can I have money for that?" that I thought I'd signed everything over to her six months ago, but it turns out that there are forms to sign. Daughter had obviously found this out when she tried to access the cash, and mentioned this on Sunday night. So, I get up on Monday, and this all needs to be sorted that day. So I'm basically driven into Salisbury to sign this form, and to cap it all, daughter was unhappy at the amount of money i the account. I mean, given the current tiny interest rates, I didn't think it had done too badly, but Daughter was grumpy. Possibly she'd forgotten about the times that she'd already dipped into the account for stuff?

Anyway, it all angered me. Daughter is never satisfied, regardless. This is something that has never changed. No matter how much you do for her, she is never satisfied. But in the face of this ingratitude, my wife reminded her that she's lucky to get this. Most kids don't get anything. Certainly I'm not inclined to do anything for her, in the light of all the trouble she's caused for me, although I do feel honour-bound to carry out my mum's wishes.But I'm hoping it is now all over.

I must also pay tribute to Peony, one of our hens, who died last week. We were both quite upset, as Peony was our favourite of the hens, and was extremely likeable. Peony was always the brave one to come into the house, once she walked all the way through the lounge and ended up in the hallway! I'm not sure what happened, she seemed fine one day but was gone the next. She's the first chicken who's died on us, so we have no idea if this is typical. But she was only around three years old, so not particularly old. It is very sad.
Peony, 2014-2017