A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Exhibit A

Exhibit A is ...

... A watering can with holes punched in the bottom from when I used to grow rosemary in it.

This item was the cause of an extremely surreal day on Saturday.

After taking a sleeping tablet on Friday night I was woken at 10am on Saturday by one of my neighbours, who lives opposite the back of my house, leaving a message on my answer phone. In my sleepy state I wasn't all together sure that I'd heard her correctly at first so went through into the living room to listen to the message again. She said that earlier that morning she'd seen some scrap metal people send a young child (about 7 years old) into my back yard through the gap where there's a slat missing from the fence. The child's mission was to steal my metal watering can - Exhibit A. My neighbour had dashed out of the back of her flat, confronted the scrap merchants, retrieved the watering can, taken down the truck registration number and informed the police of what had happened. She now had Exhibit A in her possession. I went back through to the bedroom, looked out of the window, and sure enough there was a space where the watering can had been next to the wormery.

The rest of Saturday continued in a normal Saturday kind of way ... for a couple of hours ... and then the police phoned me. Could they come round and take a statement from me? Er, yes, I suppose so, but I didn't see anything or hear anything. They came - a young WPC and a student PC - and were here for at least an hour. They were ever so interested in the fact that in the past I've seen some scrap metal collectors (most likely the same ones) standing on the flatbed of their truck, looking over people's walls as they drove up the lane, and then climbing over when they saw something of interest. Unfortunately I'd never taken the truck registration number down, but the police officers said that if I see it again then I should do so and immediately phone 999.

So when the police came to my flat we spent a bit of time going through what my neighbour had said had happened, and that the police had quickly found and stopped the truck, but as yet were unable to take things further. I wondered what 'taking things further' might mean in the context of the potential theft of a holey watering can, but didn't ask at that time. After that the student went out to the car to get the statement papers and the WPC explained that she would pretty much dictate the statement to the student, as there are certain things they need to include in it, but that I should interject if anything was incorrect. Well what could I say? I didn't see anything. I didn't hear anything. I was out for the count when the crime was committed. That was pretty much all I could say, although I did also have to say that I hadn't given the scrap people or the child permission to come into my yard, and that nobody has the right to go into my back yard or take anything from the yard without either my permission or that of my upstairs neighbours who share the yard. Apparently it's not classed as burglary, because that has to entail breaking into a building, but it's some other crime I can't remember the name of ... not trespassing, but something along those lines. The other issue is the use of a child under the age of responsibility to 'commit the crime'. However, despite all that it seemed a bit over the top when the WPC told me that it could go to court and I'd be called as a witness!

Can you imagine? I might have to stand up in court and say, 'Well, your honour, I saw nothing; I heard nothing; and I knew nothing about the attempted theft of my holey watering can until I was informed of it by my neighbour.' How foolish am I going to feel! I know it's the principle of the thing, the immoral use of a child (which the police are going to inform social services about), and the fact that this is probably the tip of something much bigger (in fact the police weren't even sure that the scrap metal collectors were registered merchants, so they might also be breaking the law with that too), but really, going to court over a non-functional watering can??? I was reassured that because of my disabilities then I'd be treated as 'a vulnerable witness' and if necessary could give my evidence from a seperate room by video-link. For a watering can?!

I'll keep you posted on any developments, and let you know if I'm going to have to don my best court clothes ... not that I have any clothes specifically for court seeing as I've never had to appear in court before ...

... All very surreal.

By the way, just in case you're wondering, I've got the watering can back now. I met my neighbour in the back lane yesterday afternoon for a clandestine reacquainting with Exhibit A, which is now being guarded once again by the worms ... not that they did a very good job of it last time.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


Hurray! I managed to get through the chest infection without becoming a resident of my friendly neighbourhood hospital :oD It was a very close thing at time, and I suspect that if I hadn't had the spur of the christenings at the weekend to help me then I would have given in and gone in. Sometimes my stubbornness pays off though, and this time I got lucky :oD I was pretty ill for several days, but was thankfully just well enough to make the drive to Combermere Abbey in Shropshire, where we were staying, on Friday, and by the time Sunday came around I was feeling a lot better. I've still got some of that post-infection fatigue, which probably isn't helped by having gone gallivanting off round the country at the weekend, but the weekend was soul-reviving, and it was wonderful to see Oliver and Daniel again (and the rest of the family of course!).

I had what you might call an 'interesting' journey down to Shropshire. The traffic was heavy from the outset and it got a heck of a lot worse very quickly, taking me almost three hours to get from just Newcastle to York - a journey that should take under two hours! However, I should have guessed that it wasn't going to be straight forward when I got as far as Washington and saw a man standing on the wrong side of the railings on a bridge over the motorway. He was perched precariously, and was in such a position that if he'd jumped off the bridge the driver of the vehicle that would hit him wouldn't see him until he was in mid-fall. There wasn't anywhere I could stop immediately as it was a motorway, but I knew I wasn't far from a service station, and I knew that I couldn't risk doing nothing, so I drove the short distance to the services and thought for a second what to do. Although Washington isn't far from Newcastle I really don't know my way around and I had no idea at all how to get up to the bridge where this man was. I decided that the only thing I could do was call the police and explain the situation, so I did, and they seemed a little perplexed at first as to why I wasn't with the man or hadn't spoken to him, but once they understood that I was just a passing motorist on a busy motorway who'd seen someone looking actively suicidal they quickly got into gear, and before long I was in the company of a couple of nice policemen. The told me that other officers were on scene and thanked me for contacting them ... and then I felt a bit useless because I couldn't do anything else, and I don't know the outcome, but I'm guessing that he was stopped from killing himself and possibly others on the motorway as I didn't hear anything on the news ... not that I would've done while away in Shropshire ... It was all a bit surreal, and completely unexpected. It also brought back a lot of bad memories of times in my past when I was actively suicidal, but it was probably because of those times that I knew I had to do something, even if I couldn't get to the man myself. Being so depressed that you can see no way through other than self-destruction and suicide is one of the worst chronic experiences I think there is (though I'm sure some will disagree and suggest other things). I sincerely hope that whoever the young man was he is getting the help he needs.

After all that it didn't seem to matter so much that I was stuck in traffic for hours on end - there were worse situations I could've been in - though it was tedious. The journey as a whole should've taken a little over three and a half hours, but it took almost six and it was pitch black when I stumbled across Combermere, and I'd have missed the turning if it hadn't been for my sat nav. Anyway, I eventually made it and met up with various aspects of my family :o)

The whole weekend was lovely, the children are wonderful, and the baptism was delightful, even if the vicar was a little odd. Regardless of his sexuality, he was incredibly camp, and I wasn't too sure about some of his theology. When we were gathered around the font at the back of the small, country church, he said, 'The font is like a big washing up bowl. God is the Fairy Liquid.' Er ... riiiiiight. He took hold of Daniel (6 months old) at arms length, failing to support his head in any way at all so Daniel looked most uncomfortable and was straining to keep his head up, and the priest then proceeded to pour the water not just over Daniel's head, but into his eyes ... twice. I can confirm that this combination of circumstances is recipe for a screaming child. Oliver (2 years old) was next, except the priest reached out not for Oliver, but for Ollie's cousin, Gemma (18 months old). My brother and sister-in-law steered him towards the right child and Oliver was almost dropped into the font head-first. This didn't bother Oliver though, and he spent the whole time giggling and thoroughly enjoying the experience of baptism :o) In fact he seemed to have an altogether lovely time ... except for when the priest accidentally kicked him over on his way back up the aisle at the end of the service.

On Monday morning, when Mum, J and I had packed and vacated the cottage we'd been staying in, we went over to where my brother and his family were staying so that we could help them pack and/or distract the children. Daniel was fast asleep and looking ever so scrumptious when we arrived so no job to be done there except keep an ear out for him waking. Oliver, on the other hand, needed a bit more occupying so we took it in turns to play games with him, or help pack things up. Ollie had clearly loved 'his party' the day before, and summed up his weekend when he ran between Mum and J on one sofa and me on an opposite sofa, throwing himself at us with his face covered in smiles, and calling out, 'Happy people! Happy people! Happy people!' Utterly delightful!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Ug and aww

I have a chest infection :o( This isn't good. I didn't get any sleep at all on Sunday night, because I was coughing and then wheezing and then nebulising, which helped for a short while, but only about a half an hour, and then it all started all over again. Luckily I managed to get a doctor's appointment for Monday early evening. She wasn't impressed and was quite keen for me to go into hospital, but I persuaded her that I was okay to stay at home, and eventually she conceded on the proviso that if things get any worse then I call 999 and go straight in. I agreed I would. The doc's given me antibiotics (Co-Amoxiclav) that are like horse pills, but hopefully they'll kick in and beat the infection before the infection beats me. I had a bit of a better night last night ... though that might in part be down to the sleeping tablet I took (perhaps not the best thing to do when breathing isn't good, but I desperately needed the sleep). I'm still pretty lousy today, and have had a temperature, so I've had a pyjama day doing very little except watching the telly and using the computer. Mostly I've been touching up the photos of my nephews that I took when I was in London a few weeks ago. Here are a few of them:

Oliver in his 'cooking hat' and apron, and with freshly washed hands, ready to make pancakes.

Having washed his hands in preparation for making pancakes, Oliver thought it a good idea to then wash his hands in the pancake batter.

Obviously the only thing to do when you're waiting for your pancakes to cook is to put the sieve on your head.

Digging in and enjoying the fruits of his labour. We all did and they were delicious.

Big, big smiles from Daniel.

Daniel enjoying smiley cuddles with Mummy.

Align Centre

Getting dry after your bath is a bit more serious.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Looser and tighter

Do you have a pair of emergency trousers? Mine are a cheep pair of jeans from Tesco that I quite like, but which hardly ever see the outside world because they're that little bit too tight. They're the ones that come out when all my other clothes are in the wash, but I have to wear something. My emergency trousers had an outing from the drawer the other day and to my surprise and delight they're now a little bit looser than they were :o) They're not quite at the point where I'd feel comfortable wearing them in public, but maybe one of these days they will be. Hurray to weight loss. Okay, so I've only lost 9lbs so far, but that's not bad going really, and I'm pleased :o)

So I have looser emergency trousers, but unfortunately I have tighter lungs today :o( They were a little tighter than usual all through the night and kept waking me up, and today they feel rather irritated and gumbly. To be honest, they feel a little pre-infectiony, but I'm hoping with all hope that they're not and I'm taking things very easy today. After finishing and sending off my assignment yesterday (hurrah! Though that's also why I've neglected you for a bit), this afternoon I've actually had some guilt-free time lying on the sofa reading. It's been lovely. Coughing and wheezing has been a bit of an interruption to the relaxation though, as has the general feeling of not being 100% well. I have to be okay though, because next weekend is my nephews' baptisms and I'm going to be god mother to Daniel :oD I'm sure I'll be fine, it's just ... well, there's always the uncertainty with me and I have to be careful at the first sign of infection. Of course I'll keep an eye on things and go to the doctor for antibiotics if I need them, but at the moment there's nothing much I can do except have extra nebs as I need them. My prednisolone is already at 50mg (I haven't managed to get it down at all since I was in hospital three weeks ago), so there's not a lot of room for manoeuvre there, although I could bump it up to 60mg if I really have to ... We'll see. I'll keep it at 50mg for now and watch carefully how things go.

Sunday, 8 March 2009


I have blisters. This isn't terribly surprising I guess given that my poor feet have got used to an easy life up until two weeks ago, but they're sore :o( The one on my left foot isn't too bad and is in tact, but the one on the right is ENORMOUS ... well, it's about the size of a pound coin, it's burst, it's oozing, it's red and it's very painful :o( I have a compeed plaster thingumy on it and a melolin dressing over the top of that for extra padding, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to get away with it like that and still go to the gym/physio this week without ending up taking my foot off. Okay, so that's a bit of an exaggeration ;oP but I'm sure you know how it feels to have sore blisters. In the scheme of things they're incredibly minor, but I'm going to moan about it anyway ;o)

Suprisingly, despite all the exercise I've been doing, I've had very little muscle pain so far. Except, that is, when I swept a few crumbs up off the kitchen floor the other day and pulled a muscle doing that. Typical - I can go to the gym/physio and work out hard, getting through a couple of minor asthma attacks on the way but otherwise being fine, and then I come home and hurt myself using a dustpan and brush! It just goes to prove that housework is bad for you ;o) I'll give it up again and leave it to A, my carer who comes in once a week to do my cleaning and other things for me.

Those of you who have always done lots of exercise will probably know this already, and actually I remember it from times gone by when I was able to be more active most of the time, but when you've been exercising and then you have a couple of days rest your muscles start to hurt. It's like they're protesting against not being used, and they feel like they're curling up, moaning to be made use of again. It's very like the muscle pain you get when you've done too much exercise ... but not. There, that's clear as mud, isn't it. Anyway, this isn't exactly a revelation to me, but a reminder of something I'd forgotten. It's kind of good, because it makes me want to get back to the exercise to relieve the ache, alhtough I'm not looking forward to the possibility of blister expansion.

I know it's early days yet, but so far the 'training' is going well. Okay so I have some blips in breathing ability when I'm doing it, but I do anyway, and while they're not major I'll push myself on. Having said that, today hasn't been great for breathing and I woke up with sore intercostals from struggling to breathe through the night, but I've beaten my lungs into submission with plenty of nebs and I'm doing okay now. I'll just have to be careful at the gym tomorrow and tell the physio where I'm upto.

Hmm, now I ought to go and get on with some study. I have an assignment due in by Friday, for which I'm doing some life writing - a first person, present tense narrative about having an asthma attack. It's kind of therapeutic to write, but it's also quite emotionally draining as I'm having to relive the experience(s) in order to 'bring them to life.' Maybe I'll post it up here when it's done, but for now I only have 900 words of what has to be 2500 words so I'd better get to it.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Mixed reactions

As has been the case here, I've had a mixed response to my proposed sponsored gym marathon, but I haven't been deterred and I'm going to go ahead with it. When I told the physio on Monday about my plan she dropped her jaw, lost the ability to speak for a minute or so and then said something along the lines of, 'Okaaaay ... that's an idea ... we can work with that, you crazy woman!' So she thinks I'm nuts (she's not alone in that), but it's great that she didn't dismiss it or veto it, and I feel confident now that I can do this because I have they physios' backing ... or at least she knows about it ;oP

Others have, as I said, had mixed reactions. Some have thought that perhaps I'm setting my goals too high; some have urged me to reconsider; but some have been fully supportive even if they do think I'm crazy. I know that the less than enthusiastic responses are because the people care about me and don't want me to put myself at risk, and all I can say about that is that living is a risk, but I promise not to be stupid about this. Part of the reason for setting the date for it at the end of October is to give me enough time to get fit enough for it, and to be realistic with the time-frame I'm giving myself. I guess the other thing to say is that although this is a marathon, it is a gym marathon so I won't just be doing walking (I have no intention of doing any running as that really would be stupid, because my lungs don't like running one bit). The idea of a gym marathon is that I use all the machines - treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine and cross-trainer. I can cover a significant proportion of the distance on the bike, although I've have to think about setting a maximum for that or I'd feel as though I were cheating.

I still haven't worked out how to set up online sponsorship, and I can't use justgiving.co.uk because the ward's fund isn't registered with them. I'll have to see if I can use something like paypal, unless anyone has any other ideas. All help/advice appreciated.

So the next thing I think I need to do (other than set up online sponsorship) is to contact the Charge Nurse on the ward, let him know what I'm planning and ask if he has any blurb about the ward's fund that he'd like me to put at the top of sponsorship forms. I think it'd be useful to have so that people have a better idea of what they're supporting than just 'the ward that has a habit of saving my life.' I suspect that J (Charge Nurse) will exclaim my craziness, and will most likely worry about me doing it, but probably be supportive too. We'll see and I'll let you know.

Well I'm going to take myself off to bed now as I didn't sleep well last night and I'm pretty knacked. I'll keep you posted on the 'crazy idea' front as it develops/comes together. Off for a good sleep now I hope. Night.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Out of my mind?

I may have just lost the plot and be completely out of my mind (quite possible as, for some reason, I didn't get any sleep last night), but I've come up with another hair-brained idea. It may prove to be beyond me and my physical capabilities but ... I'm thinking of training to do a gym marathon. This is basically doing the distance of a marathon but in the gym, which in my case is with the phsyio in supervised exercise. I'd do it in part for my general fitness and well-being (or well-boing, as I just typo-ed ;oP although I'm guessing there won't be much boing in me by the end of it), and as part of my weight-loss plan, but I'd also do it as a sponsored event to raise money for Ward 29 at Freeman Hospital - my second home. Having come up with the idea and deciding, in my sleep-deprived state, that it's a good one (I may change my mind about this, but I appear to be committing myself to it all the same), I then thought that perhaps I ought to set a date for myself. Now I need to make sure I have plenty of time to get fit enough for it, and there will of course be the variable of my health around the time, but as it could prove to be a complete nightmare I thought it might be apt to do it on or around 31st October. The only drawback is that this is a Saturday and the gym is usually very busy on a Saturday, so it could be postponed to 2nd November, or brought forward to 30th October. As I say, there'll have to be a certain amount of flexibility anyway to allow for breathing ability and my hospital status, but at the moment this is the plan. This morning I voiced the idea on the online weight-loss support group thingumy that I joined the other week and I've already had people saying that they'll sponsor me! This is fantastic, except that I don't know how to set up an online sponsorship site/wotsit so I'm going to have to do some investigating and over-coming of computer numptiness :o/

Oh my word, what am I doing?! Some days I can't even walk, so why on earth am I setting myself this ridiculous target?! Answers on a postcard, or leave a comment seeing as you don't have my address ;o) I will just have to keep telling myself that this is going to be good for me and will also benefit many other people if it raising money for Freeman Hospital's Ward 29. After all, they do have a habit of saving my life ... just so long as they don't have to do so as a result of this craziness ...

Okay, now I've told you about it I guess I'm committed. Eeek!

P.S. If anyone knows how to set up online sponsorship, do let me know. I've looked on Justgiving.co.uk but the ward isn't registered with them even though I know they have their own charity name - SWaRM (Specialist Ward for Respiratory Medicine), which I know because the Charge Nurse asked me to come up with a name for it a few years back.