THE TROUBLE WITH GEORGE

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Having my old tatty kitchen amazingly transformed into a beautiful, new and modern kitchen with units and a gas hob I can reach has meant I can use it independently of my carers. I’ve got a lovely, new electric oven (I have to get used to the temperatures as I’ve only had gas before). I’ve truly found freedom. At first, the novelty of washing-up at my low-level sink seemed attractive! Now I’m not so sure about that bit, but, nevertheless, I’m determined to not to rely solely on my carers, and I thoroughly enjoy cooking.

The next home-improvement project was my patio with a ramp. The word ‘patio‘ is in italics because it is actually built on the base of my newish forget-me-not blue garden shed – see my earlier post which you can find here … MY FORGET-ME-NOT SHED. The poor unfortunate hut became redundant (which is another story!), and was sold for a small sum to a primary school whose sports shed had been burnt down in a horrible arson attack. By rights, I should now be able to get up my ramp, accessing it through the front door, down the side of the house and through the gate – a bit of a long way round, but functional nevertheless. I’d be able to eat, drink and sunbathe up there if I wanted to whenever the weather is good and I have the time.

There is one big hiccup to this story. GEORGE!! Just when I was savouring the prospect of getting a nice suntan (with sun-factor 50 cream), and entertaining guests out there in the sunshine, George (my electric wheelchair for those of you who aren’t yet acquainted) decided to develop a fault. He sits, stubbornly staring at the ramp and refuses to summon up enough energy to climb it. He’s meant to travel at 8mph (no idea what that is in km), but in fact, he’s probably only going at about a fraction-of-a-mile an hour. No good! I imagine it’s the equivalent of an accelerator in a car going – or rather, not going. All this fantastic progress going forward; first the kitchen and new-found independence; and then the patio; and now? Now – my usual trustworthy lump of metal (sorry, George) frustratingly refuses to get up the ramp and embarrassingly slides backwards. I’m going nowhere fast.

Roll on Monday when the mobility repair company come out, and hopefully, give George the kiss-of-life, no doubt at a sizeable cost to me. Needs must.

MAKING TIME

See the source image

Spare time is something I used to have lots of, but never made the most of, mostly because I was depressed to go out, or just couldn’t summon up the energy or enthusiasm. Now, it’s a very different situation, I’m pleased to say. In fact, I barely have a minute to spare … I fly from one task, activity, meeting or outing like a demented wasp! It’s a good thing George (my wheelchair) travels at 8mph (not sure what that is in km), or I’d never get to all these appointments and arrangements.

I’m very fortunate in that, although I live in a town, there is a lot of countryside around me, especially where I am near the river. There’s a footpath and cycle track that follow the river’s route into town. It’s a lovely drive, albeit I’m driving fast and concentrating so hard so that I don’t cross paths with an irate cyclist, or a wandering pedestrian come to that. This fast-paced drive allows me to get everywhere I need to be on time. One thing I hate is being late.

However, I’ve realised of late, that I keep myself so busy that I rarely make time to relax or to chill out with my friends. So, today, having made an arrangement yesterday, I spent the best part of the day with a new but close friend. We just sat in a lovely restaurant for hours and hours. We had a coffee earlier on in the morning, and then sat and had a delicious lunch, beautifully cooked and presented. My friend drank wine and I, being a non-drinker, had an amazing strawberry, elderflower and mint cocktail, all followed by more coffee. We talked and talked, we shared secrets, stories of our lives, current times and our early years, sometimes accompanied by a few tears, but always followed by peals of laughter and giggles. We told each other about past relationships, some great and some disastrous. We took photos and sent them to each other, and generally got very silly, but not embarrassingly so, thankfully.

Eventually, we parted company at 4.30pm, having paid rather a large bill, and a generous tip because the waitress was brilliant and the food first-class. We just had the most wonderful day. I came home feeling all happy, relaxed and loved. Today really made me realise the value of making time for the truly enjoyable occasions. It’s just as important to make time to relax, chill and enjoy myself as it is to rush around to all those appointments and events that tend to fill the calendar. We’ll definitely be doing it all again soon.

Strawberry, elderflower & mint cocktail at The Bootmaker

My delicious cocktail.

 

[Top image courtesy of Stock-clip.com]

MY FORGET-ME-NOT SHED

Image result for a blue shed

I’m aware that I’ve been away since the middle of July (or thereabouts), so that’s nearly four months which must be the longest I’ve ever been away from my blog for. A lot has happened in my life during that time.

Ten-and-a-half months have passed since I lost my beautiful Mum. That time hasn’t been like I would have expected it to be. I haven’t been able to grieve. Strangely, and somewhat disconcertingly, I haven’t been able to cry either. I still cannot look at my Mum in any of the photos that I have. This isn’t how I expected grief to be. However, I am aware that everybody grieves in their own way and in their own time. Maybe, the time isn’t right for me yet.

As for other goings-on in my life, they have been more positive. Some of you may remember that my care regime was about change drastically with new carers coming into place and old ones going. I’m pleased to say that it has all worked out far better than I could have imagined.

I was also at the beginning of having a lot of work done on my house too. This has been a prolonged process, but I am getting there gradually. My bedroom is finished and is now a haven of peace and calm in which to sleep. The new shed has been built in the garden, that is, after being ripped-off by builders who I, eventually, sent packing, and consequently, employed new ones who have done a great job.)  The shed is painted a delightful shade of forget-me-not blue (at least, I think it’s delightful – I can’t speak for the neighbours).

The next and most significant project is adapting and renewing my twenty-five-year-old kitchen. This, I’m most excited about. It’s going to have lowered worktops, a new lower hob and a sink, all of which will be accessible to me in my manual wheelchair. The work is due to start in about two weeks. I’m currently at the stage where I and my carers are frantically sorting through cupboards and drawers with the intention of clearing out everything we haven’t used in the last two years, (that includes packaged food in the units that are well past their sell-by date!) I can’t wait for the new kitchen to be installed, although I’m not eager to face all the mess and disruption. However, as they say, “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”)

Well, I think that’s just about a relatively accurate round-up of what’s going on in my life at the moment. I promise I’ll try to catch up on some of your blogs as soon as I can, and I really will try not to leave it another four months until I pop into WordPress again. Thanks for sticking with me through my absence.

 

WORKING OUT

woman-lifting-free-weights-in-fitness-gym-assembly

(photo credit – http://www.fineartamerica.com)

 

Well … I’ve made a decision [round of applause, please]. I’ve decided, after living much of my adult life in a wheelchair and needing carers, that I’m going to get myself fit. I’m going to get fit in my city’s main gym – working out – [yes, me, little Ellie, working out – you heard right]. My brilliant idea is that maybe – just maybe – I would be able to manage a bit more independently without having to rely on carers so much.  I am very serious about it, and it would be amazing to achieve this.

Having made this great pledge to myself, I set off for the sports centre for the first time today.  I bought my ticket and a membership card and wheeled through the turnstile, along with an unexpected and very excited party of primary school children who were waiting to go into the pool for their swimming lesson.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I entered the door to the gym. I was wasn’t entirely surprised to find there were a few keen, male bodybuilders and one or two rather muscular, female weightlifters, all of which looked like they had popped a few steroids before they’d come out! However, I wasn’t particularly concerned [‘each to their own’, I thought].

I slid quietly passed them, trying not to look too conspicuous in my pair of blue jeans, a tee-shirt and a purple and white sweatshirt (which I couldn’t get changed out of without the help of a carer who I didn’t have with me). Compared to everyone else in their smart sports gear, I did, indeed, look conspicuous. I pulled off the sweater and bravely bared my arms in a vain attempt to fit the image a little more. I failed, miserably, but was nevertheless determined to get started – onwards and upwards!

One of the instructors met me a few minutes later, and having assessed me gave me a print out of the exercises I needed to do. I was keen to begin my workout. I didn’t know the names of half the equipment, but I managed to locate the weights and thought I’d start with them. I picked up the 2 kg dumbbell, and my arm plummeted towards the gym floor … I’d better start with a lighter one, I decided, and then chose the ½ kg weight. That was better although I felt a bit pathetic attempting to raise my arm above my head with what looked like a pencil with two blunt ends. I managed two lots of ten lifts with each arm altogether which was a fair start.

I gradually worked my way through my programme and finished after an hour, feeling suitably proud of myself. I felt really good and had thoroughly enjoyed it. I refilled my water bottle, went out into the caféteria area and treated myself to a vitamin-packed mango, spinach, kale and celery smoothie which was delicious despite the fact that it looked the same colour and consistency of the green sludge that floats across the top of my garden pond from time-to-time. Trust me … it was lovely.

I eagerly finished that up and left the sports centre absolutely buzzing with endorphins, and now, I can’t wait to go again on Tuesday. I’m so excited by the prospect of possibly being able to manage with less care, so achieving more independence. The sun was shining, warm on my back on the journey home and I must have looked a bit daft as I wheeled along with a smile on my face like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland!

woman in wheelchair exercise equipment

(photo credit – http://www.nchpad.org)

 

 

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STROKE – COMPASSIONATE LEAVE

Image result for Right Brain Stroke Damage

Life has had a nasty habit of throwing us curveballs now and then. That ball has certainly knocked me down many times, but I think the important thing is that it’s not how far I fall but whether I can get up again from there. That’s true for everybody at some time, but I feel like I’ve had to do an awful lot of climbing back up over the years.

I don’t feel sorry for myself though as we all have to cope with this experience we call life. I’ve had a significant knockdown just recently which is limiting the amount of time that I have to write my blog – not that you could ever really call me a prolific writer – I’d say more a sporadic writer.

Right now, things are tough and a real challenge. My mum was sick before I wrote my last post – she was in a local hospital with pneumonia. That was bad enough. She is elderly and becoming rather frail now, and illnesses and accidents are becoming a common occurrence now, in her 87th year.

A week later while still on the ward, Mum was found collapsed in the bathroom – she’d had a stroke. The very thing she had always dreaded and said: “It’ll never happen to me”. I thought, until this event, perhaps somewhat naively she was going to be right – that she would live to an even riper old age than she was already.

An ambulance rushed her to the main City Hospital. A friend took me there later that day, and it was a real shock. There was my mum, laying almost helplessly unable to do anything. The whole of one side of her body was lifeless. She couldn’t move her arm or her leg; she couldn’t sit up – not even with support – she lurched sideways into a sad heap and had no balance. Her face had dropped so that her eyelid drooped and what was left of her smile had been taken away.

Two weeks later, she still hasn’t made much progress in her movements. Her speech is slurred, very soft and infrequent as her cognitive function has also been affected so that her brain is working much more slowly to process information. She’s unable to swallow properly so is on a diet of small portions of rather undignified, pureed food which she still manages to pull a face at in an odd way and I just know she’s thinking, “Why am I being given baby food?” I can’t begin to imagine how awful it must be for her to be trapped inside her mind without being able to express herself clearly or barely communicate.

Needless to say, her appetite is almost non-existent, and I can’t say I blame her when food has to be spoonfed into her now crooked mouth. Pureed shepherd’s pie and carrots, having been liquidised within an inch of their life, wouldn’t appeal much to me either.

I am travelling up to the City Hospital every other day (a journey by train in my wheelchair, George of two-and-a-half hours each way). I spend as long as I can with my mum but then return home along with the hoards of workers turning out from their places of work to head homeward. Travelling with an electric wheelchair is not fun when all around me are rushing, pushing and shoving to get home after a long day or a long shift.

As you will have gathered, I might not be able to make an appearance very often at the moment, so please excuse me if I have been unable to read, like or comment on your blog. I have only had the time to sort through the most important emails and phone calls, and it’s likely to be that way for some time. Thank you for your understanding, my friends 😦

BOSOM PALS AND ACQUAINTANCES

girl alone black and white

Suddenly, the stark realisation that I don’t have a best friend in the world hit me like a bolt of lightning from the sky. Not only do I not have a best friend but sadder still, I don’t think I have truly ever had a real, best buddy.

I have many social relationships and acquaintances – college friends, church friends, Facebook friends, blogging friends, neighbours, work colleagues, family members, and no doubt many people who I have not mentioned here, but none of these would I class as my bosom pal.

This realisation hits hard as I can’t help but wonder why this is. Is there something about me that no-one is telling me? Perhaps, I do have green ears and a purple tail (as one of my blogs was entitled a couple of years ago). Is there is something about me that I can’t see but others can?

As far as I know, I am a nice person (whatever ‘nice’ is). I don’t deliberately lie, nor cheat or steal. I am trustworthy. I like to go out of my way to be kind to people and to try not to hurt anyone purposely – not simply because it’s the right thing to do (in my eyes), but because that is how I genuinely feel. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, I always say. I’m also a great believer in ‘Praise where praise is due’and ‘Kindness costs nothing’.

I was the same at both primary and grammar school. I never had friends, even then. I used to spend break-times sitting on a wall, wistfully watching while the other children playing, or when I was a bit older, I’d stand like a wallflower on the perimeter of the playground, too shy to go up to anyone in the vain hope that someone might spot me and even consider me as a friend. Maybe, it was because I was very small (and quiet) for my age so I got bullied quite a lot. I just didn’t to seem to gel with my peers.

As I grew up and when my children were little in Nursery or the early years of school, I plucked up the courage to exchange a few words to a few of the mums also waiting outside to pick their children up. However, I think I was thought of as a bit of a leper once my ex-husband left, leaving me with the children who were still young then. It just wasn’t the done thing back in the 80’s (showing my age!). I think I was, at that time, the only single-parent family in the whole of the Infants.

When my children were at secondary school, I had to work my socks off, caring and cleaning for elderly people – anything to make ends meet. Fortunately, I’ve always enjoyed the company of older people and I did like my work. Some of the clients I’d go to would let me bring the children during the holidays. Tom and Clare treated it like an outing as we’d go armed with colouring books, jigsaws and Snap or Ludo which they all enjoyed playing together and which, invariably, my clients would let the children win.

So, I think with me, and ‘friends’ or even acquaintances, it’s a case of you win some you lose some and even the ‘some’ are often like ships that pass in the night. But, am I lonely? No, actually, I’m not. I like my independence (all be it that I need Carers twice a day) and I do generally enjoy my own company and having time to read, study and write etc. I get to choose what I want to eat and what I don’t want, I get to decide whether to watch TV or listen to music. The majority of the time I get to choose when to venture into town or further afield with George (my wheelchair) and best of all, I get to hog the duvet without any arguments 🙂

 

 

 

 

HAPPY DAYS

seaside beach

Today was such a contrast to the days of the last two weeks … and thank goodness for that! I thought it was going to be a Tuesday just like any other Tuesday, but this week, my friend, Harri (short for Harriet), and I decided to take off to the beach or as us, British say, ‘the seaside.’ The weather was glorious and a perfect day for a drive down to the coast. We set off first thing in the morning and arrived at our destination by lunchtime.

As is the tradition amongst my family and friends, the first one to spot the water in the distance, declares excitedly, “I can see the s-e-a; I can see the s-e-a.” On this occasion, it happened to be me, and I was thrilled, you could easily have taken me for a five-year-old child!

We parked along the front, which isn’t easy during the school summer holidays but I am at an advantage in that I hold a Disabled Parking Badge. This enables Harri to get my manual wheelchair out of the boot of the car, and then me from the car into the chair which is an art in itself.

We’re not able to go down to the actual sand with my wheelchair as it clogs up the motor, so we decided to go to our favourite cafe which is positioned directly above the water when the tide is almost in. Surprisingly at that time of day, it wasn’t too crowded. So, we sat by the glass windows which were open with a warm breeze drifting in.

We ordered a coffee each, alongside scrambled eggs on delicious, doorstep toast finished off with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. We watched a group of very absorbed photographers snapping away at a tall, slim and young male model walking along water’s edge, nonchalantly tossing pebbles into the waves.

A little more time went by and we decided to have another coffee and a small piece of cake each. I had a homemade Bakewell tart and Harri had a chocolate brownie. Delicious! We sat and chatted about this and that and life in general and at times got engrossed deeply in some quite fascinating and absorbing conversation.

Eventually, after we had almost talked ourselves out, we thought about leaving, but then at the last minute, decided it was getting late, and somehow we were peckish again (must have been the sea air). We then finished our feast off by sharing a bucket of freshly-cooked fries which were very enjoyable (and when I say bucket, I don’t mean as in the size of a child’s bucket and spade, but one of about six or seven centimetres high.)

Finally, just to finish off a lovely day, we walked along the front, which was breezy but pleasantly warm, to a small, summer hut which sold seaside rock and  cinnamon doughnuts (which we couldn’t possibly indulge in after the treats we’d had at the cafe.) However, just to remember our very much enjoyed, carefree day, we splashed out on a typical, British seaside children’s windmill each; Harri bought a classic stick of rock for her friend’s son, and I invested in summer straw hat. It had a somewhat squashed but nevertheless, beautiful peach coloured flower on the brim.

Happy days!  🙂

GETTING ON WITH MY LIFE (RANT)

mental and physical health

Why does everything have to be a battle? I think, sometimes, the world revolves around money, [as well as politics, religion and small-minded people who think they have a right to take innocent lives, but in the light of the very recent killings in Orlando, I don’t intend to go into that here].

On a much more personal (and perhaps selfish) note, I have spent the last three months fighting for funding to allow me to keep the basic disability care that I need every day. I appreciate that I am very fortunate to have any care at all when there are so many people without care, both in developed countries and even more so in third-world countries. You may ask why I don’t provide fully for myself financially – the answer being that I am not able to work because I am studying – and that is in order to get back to some useful work. I only wish I had a wealthy or affluent partner or family on tap but that is not the case.

Currently, the Social Care Department are now arguing with me as to whether I need my electric wheelchair as opposed to a manual one.  They are prepared to supply me with a standard wheelchair which, yes, would get me about in my home with some assistance needed but would be hopeless if I wanted to have more than an indoor or very limited lifestyle.

There would be no more getting into the town for food and shopping as well as going to University, where I am studying  for a degree in Psychology and Public Health so that I can go out [ironically, in my electric wheelchair] and operate both economically and productively in society. Other necessary journeys would also be curtailed and therefore, out of the question. Don’t they get it? My wheelchair is my legs. I feel it would make far more sense if I were able to live a life outside of my home where I can function, independently, realistically and be able to earn enough to enable me to buy my own electric wheelchair which would solve the problem altogether.

Can’t they see how short-sighted they are? If I can’t remain as independent as I currently am, it is very likely to impact on my mental health. I could require more care from mental health resources which would, in turn, affect my physical health. This would lessen my chances of returning to work. This would be more of a drain on the Government Health Department and cost them much more in the long term.

My mental health, that is my Emotional Intensity Disorder (EID), also known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is no secret from them, nor my friends and family or indeed my WordPress followers. It is a day-to-day struggle just to stay on an even keel as things are now and attempt to support myself. I live my life positively in general, and I wish for that status quo to remain. However, it does affect my life in a big way but, I neither feel sorry for myself nor expect the world to be handed to me on a plate. When it comes down to it, I just want to live a fulfilling and useful life and be of much use to my friends, family, society in general and the world as possible.

Currently, I now feel physically and mentally exhausted. Is it selfish, at this point, to say that, yes, I do also want to be as happy and content as I can possibly be for myself too?

Rant over.

FALLING IN LOVE

first date words (George)

 

You know that feeling when you first meet someone and you’re not sure how you feel about them, but you meet up with them a second time to try to get to know them a little better? And then, the second time, you think you like them but you’re not entirely convinced yet. So, you arrange to go out again, for coffee this time and decide to try to make your mind up. You don’t want to keep messing them about. You need to make a decision as to whether you would like to get together and spend more time with each other or go your separate ways.

One week later – Decision made. Everybody says how good we look together and how well-suited we are. We’re both happy although I have to say, I am vaguely aware that it’s early days yet and there’s bound to be hiccups in any new relationship.

A week later, I’m completely convinced that I’ve done the right thing, and love is now, well and truly in the air, as they say. We have a date tonight – we’re going to the city’s main theatre to see an excellent and very gifted female comedian, live on stage. I’m so looking forward to it – I must remember to put the tickets in my purse before we leave and before I forget. We’re right in the front row so should get an excellent view.

The show was great, I had a good laugh but also learned a lot of things I didn’t know too. It finished quite late, at least late for me as someone who goes to bed early and is up as a lark in the mornings; well maybe not a lark, more like an antelope that’s been on the gin!

It’s time for bed now so I ‘elegantly’ glide up the stairs with Brian, my stairlift (so named after Brian, the slow snail in the old children’s programme ‘The Magic Roundabout’. All things considered, Brian behaves reasonably well contrary to some of the ‘funny business’ that was going on behind the scenes at that programme for those of you who might remember it!) I clean my teeth and at last, I fall happily into bed.

So, where is my partner? Oh, did I forget to mention that my new partner’s name is George and he is happily and peacefully downstairs snoozing downstairs in the hallway, and is getting his energy back, ready for tomorrow? Yes, you’ve got it … George is my new wheelchair (he’s plugged in and charging up). And yes, I know I introduced Prince George to you previously but now his shiny crown has fallen off and I’ve got to know the real George underneath, I like him much better and we’ve truly fallen in love now. Well, they say ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’.

PRINCE GEORGE (THE CASE AGAINST)

Well, sadly, that’s the end of Charlie, my wheelchair. He has finally given up the ghost and gone to that great big wheelchair heaven in the sky. I’ve been without Charlie for nearly a month now and have been cooped up indoors, slowly climbing the walls and developing a serious bout of cabin fever. Oh, it’s so sad and so hard to let him go after four long and faithful years.

Farewell, Charlie x

Charllie front

 

Introducing ‘Prince George’

I have now had to acquire a new wheelchair, although due to a serious lack of funds, he is somewhat, or should I say, considerably, inferior to Charlie. So, let me introduce ‘Prince George’, ordinarily known as George (and will possibly become Georgie if he behaves himself and endears himself to me a little more).

George 1

Today was my first full day of driving him and, oh boy, am I feeling it now?! Ouch! Prince George has so far shown himself to be very inconsiderate despite the deceiving ‘go faster stripes’ on either side of his back and his smart blue paintwork. I have noted the following points of comparison in the case against Prince George:

  • His back is tough vinyl whereas Charlie was comfortably upholstered.
  • George has four wheels, much more difficult to drive than Charlie’s well-balanced six wheels.
  • Parking is a nightmare … Charlie could do a nifty three-point turn. George just about manages it in fifteen points, (give or take a few).
  • Charlie had a neat, flip-up footplate whereas George has two very stiff footrests (I think he’s developed arthritis at an early age) .
  • George feels every bump in the pavement and he feels like he’s climbing the humps on a Bactrian camel’s back.
  • The armrests are plastic, as hard as cement which is tough on the elbows, as opposed to Charlie’s softly-cushioned arms.
  • I came home today totally exhausted and with my back feeling like I’d run a marathon in stiletto heels.

However, I do have to say in defence of George:

  • He has fitted LED headlights and rear lights for coming home on those chilly and dark winter nights when a starless sky is as black as coal.
  • He even has left and right indicators although because the controls are completely different, I indicated to turn left when I was trying to turn the speed down and I ended up having a close encounter with a brick wall which had very conveniently placed itself in my way.
  • George even has hazard warning lights – very useful in my case as the sheer effort of trying to keep him straight on a narrow footpath/cycleway renders him a hazard to anyone within a ten-metre radius.
  • George’s ‘beep’ is a tad louder than Charlie’s which means, “excuse me, please remove yourself from the vicinity if I am coming towards you”. Alternately, if I’m really exhausted and ratty, this may come across as, “get out of the way you silly idiot” (or for silly idiot, read “%$#@/&*£*”)!

So there you have it; the case of Prince George versus Charlie, with Charlie winning outright. However, unfortunately, I’m stuck with arthritic George so I’ll just have to persevere and leave the stilettos at home in future.

RIP Charlie