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

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Friday, 29 May 2009

The next installment

I got post this morning, and in the post was a letter from the Criminal Justice System. I have been summoned to court to appear as a witness in the case of the attempted theft of the holey watering can! I can't really see how my evidence is going to help the case along, other than to say that I am the owner of the holey watering can, and that after being made aware of its attempted theft I looked out of the window and sure enough there was a space where the watering can had been. How on earth am I going to keep a straight face?! I'm sure I'll break down into fits of giggles at the absurdity of the situation.

As I reported in the update on the saga, the guy who tried to steal the watering can had gone missing for a while, but had then handed himself into the police. Now, I'd have thought this would be an admission of guilt ... as did the police when they contacted me after this event ... especially as he did then 'come clean' about his involvement in the situation and his use of the minor in the crime. However, it turns out that in his hearing on 20th May he pleaded 'Not Guilty', which seems quite odd to me, but I guess he thought he'd try his luck so we'll see what happens.

I guess I'm unlikely to hear anything more now until after the court case on 29th July, but I'll let you know. In the meantime, Wilfred is doing a fine job guarding the watering can, and as far as I'm aware no other attempted thefts have occurred.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Getting back on track

Now that I've had a few weeks out of hospital, and now that I've finished my course and all the work for it, I'm finally beginning to get my strength back. For the weeks I had the pneumonia and for a couple of weeks after getting home from hospital I was having to use my electric wheelchair most of the time, but now I'm up and about and having to build up my muscles again. This is great, although it's also hard work. I'm determined though and I'm slowly building up my muscles and strength, and I've just started back to a more structured fitness programme. Okay, so I'm a bit limited at the moment in what I can actually do, because it's been a fair while since my muscles were actually used properly, but I'm getting there. I started out on Saturday with a walk along Longsands beach at Tynemouth. I took it slowly, but had a nice time wandering, watching all the dogs that were around playing and chasing each other, getting sand in my shoes, and enjoying the sunshine :o) Sunday was another lovely day so this time I went to St. Mary's Lighthouse for a walk along the cliff tops. The tide was in so the island causeway was covered, but I quite liked that because it's not something I often see - usually finding myself there when the tide's out. I met a friendly chap taking photos of seagulls while I was up on the cliffs, and we spent quite a while chatting about photography and snippets of life before ambling back towards the car park together, where we parted. It was lovely.

So yesterday (Tuesday) I made it back to the gym/physio for the first time since before the pneumonia. I didn't do even half of what I had been doing before I went into hospital, but I worked hard nonetheless, and have felt it today, though not too painfully. I thought about going back to the gym today, but decided that I was a bit too tired to do anything effective and not wear myself out completely, so instead I decided to try walking into town and go to the gym again tomorrow. I have to say that I was quite tired by the time I got into town this afternoon, but it felt good to have made it, and also quite a surprise. I know it's not really that far (a couple of miles), but considering how sedate I've had to be for the past few months it was a real achievement. Having survived the trek into town I was determined not to waste the trip and only come home with the small packet of yeast I picked up from Waitrose, and the funky door key I had cut for my new front door, so I went to Waterstones and ended up buying/ordering the books for my next course. I'd vowed that I wasn't going to do this yet; that I was going to give myself a break, but I couldn't resist ... books are just too addictive. I've put them on a high shelf where I know I won't forget about them, but they're not in immediate reach so I can make sure that I read some things that are completley unstudy related. I have a huge pile of books I've been wanting to read for ages, so it shouldn't be hard to make myself read something unstudy related ... for a while at least.

Tomorrow I will go back to the gym, and back to building my strength and stamina. I still have the plan to do the gym marathon in October, but I'm also still waiting to hear back from the ward Charge Nurse about the ward's fund. I tried asking him about it when I was in hospital, but he was very busy and never had the time to get back to me about it. I'll try emailing him again ... and perhaps write to the ward Sister as well, who's perhaps a bit more organised than J ;oP However, when I have details about the fund I'll get back to you with a way to sponsor me (if you'd like to), but in the meantime I need to get back to getting fit enough to do the gym marathon by the end of October.

Getting back to getting fit is also helping me to focus again on getting back to losing weight. I've been trying to while I've been ill, and had some success, but it's been minimal, which I think is partly down to my infection-induced inactivity and increasing asthma symptoms, though of course also down to the usual thing of just not cutting down enough on what I'm eating. I'll get there, and now I'm getting back on track :o)

Well, one of the benefits of doing more is that I sleep better, and last night I slept very deeply :o) After this afternoon's walk into town I think I might sleep okay tonight too, and now is the time to see if I'm right. Night all :o)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Loose ends

I finished my ECA! Actually, I have to come clean and say that I finished it and handed it in to Regional Centre on Friday, but it's only now sinking in that the course is done and there's nothing more I can do but wait until my results come through sometime in early August. I worked so hard on getting my project as good as I could, but I was also desperate to finish, desperate for a break, and the desperation did at time burst through in the form of tears. The final deadline for getting the ECAs for this course to the OU's national centre in Milton Keynes isn't until this coming Friday, so I got mine in a week early. This is quite an achievement considering how poorly I'd been for weeks before hand and had been in hospital, and really it's not surprising that given the post-infection exhaustion I had tears over my studies. It's done now! It's over! I'm on holiday from study till October 3rd (when my next course - Children's Literature - begins)! Hurray!

Having been studying without any kind of break (hospital admissions don't count as breaks, especially as the deadlines don't stop when I go into hospital) since October 2006, I am more than ready for a study break, but it's also really rather strange. Suddenly I don't know what to do with myself. It's like there are almost too many options of things that I could do so I end up not doing any of them. Although, having said that, I have done some of those little jobs that have been put to one side for ages. The other day I actually changed the lightbulbs in the kitchen and the living room that had blown several months ago. I haven't been sat in complete darkness, but it's amazing how much difference working lightbulbs make ... or maybe it's not that amazing, and it's just that I've got used to sitting in dinginess. No more! I have light!

Oo yes, the other thing that's been going on here is that the council contractors have at last done the work to the outside of my flat that they've been telling me they were going to do since 2006/2007. I have sparkling new windows and smart new doors at the back and front - all very swish, and it makes the outside of the flat look so much better :o) At some point they're going to come back and paint the stonework too, but I don't know when that's going to be. So this new smartness to the inside of the house has also had an impact on the smartness on the inside of the house, because you can't change the outside of a door without also changing the inside (funny that!), so the front porch is brighter and smarter, and the kitchen - where the backdoor is - is also smarter. I decided to treat the smart, new kitchen window next to the smart, new backdoor to a smart, new blind. The old one was nice, but I was bored with it and actually it cut out quite a lot of light. I had to cut the new one to size and I did that when the workmen were here changing the front door on Monday. Once I'd done that I sat in the living room for a moment thinking, 'I could probably put this up at the window myself, but ... hmmm ... there are men who know what they're doing with this kind of thing in my house at the moment ... I wonder ...' so I decided to be cheeky and ask if they'd do me a favour and put the new blind up for me. They did! Hurrah! :o)

Other loose ends that I've been tidying up have included getting my passport sorted out. It's only a month now till I go on holiday to France, and I was getting a little worried that I hadn't left enough time to get my passport back (I hadn't been well enough to get my photo done for the new passport so hadn't been able to send the forms off), so I phoned the helpline and they thought all would be okay. I sent the forms off, which I'd filled in online, and got my new passport through about ten days later! Brill! In the same line of things, I've been to the doc's to ask for the letter I'll need for the aeroplane to take my EpiPens and nebules in my hand luggage, because otherwise they're considered a terrorist hazard! I still need to get my hospital letters and allergies translated into French, but I have had an offer by a lovely blog reader and fellow OU student to do that :o) All I need to do is get the info to her, so that's something for the next couple of days.

So I'm finding various bits and pieces to do in my new-found freedom from study, but I haven't yet got used to being guilt-free about not studying. Dare I say, sometimes I even begin to feel bored!!! I'm at a bit of a loose end ... though I'm sure I'll get used to it and will enjoy it too.

Right then, I'm off to bed in a mo. I didn't sleep well last night, only getting about three and a half hours :o( It was quite muggy here yesterday evening and my lungs don't like that, which I think is why they were quite grumpy last night. I then woke up with the early morning light coming through the (new) window, which was nice in an 'it's summer and summer is lovely' kind of way, but it was too early and I couldn't get back to sleep :o( So yes, it's now time for bed and hopefully a better night's sleep.

Night all.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


You may remember the incident of the holey watering can. There have been developments. A week or so before I went into hospital I had a letter from Victim Support offering me counselling for the trauma caused by the attempted theft of said holey watering can! Can you imagine my turning up to see a counsellor in distress at the event of which I knew nothing until it had been brought to my attention later in the day of its happening? I think I'd either be laughed at or carted away on the grounds of being far too sensitive for my own good. Now I know that Victim Support do a marvellous job, and I'm not belittling the work they do, but really, how can it be imagined that I'd be traumatised by the attempted theft of a watering can with holes in the bottom, and an attempt that I didn't know had even taken place until a while afterwards? It beggars belief. Needless to say, I'm not taking up their offer of counselling.
Last month it was my birthday, and aware of the attempted theft of the watering can, and aware of the uselessness of the worms in the wormery beside said watering can, my friend K got me a protector for the can. Meet Wilfred:

Don't you think he's rather fine? I have to say that I never, ever thought I'd be in possession of a garden gnome (or a guarding gnome ;oP ), but look, Wilfred even has his own little watering can! He clearly cares about the destiny of such things and would hate to see one come to a bad end, so here he is guarding the holey watering can that has caused such a stir:


Now it's good to know that the police are protecting us from the villains of the world, but it has seemed rather surreal that a significant amount of police time has been spent on the search for the watering can thief. I know that the real issue isn't the can, but the fact that the 'leader of the operation' coerced a minor into the illegal activities of trespass and theft/attempted theft ... and that is why police time has been taken up on this matter, but still, if you look at the smaller picture - that of the watering can - it seems very trivial. So anyway, when I came out of hospital I had a message on my answer machine from PC May, the enthusiastic trainee police officer who had been investigating my traumatic experience. He didn't say much in the message, but sounded quite excited. A day or so after I picked up the message I had another phone call from him asking if I'd heard of developments in the case, which of course I hadn't as I'd been otherwise engaged in relearning the art of breathing. Oh, he was excited! PC May went on to inform me that the man they had initially tracked down as responsible for the crime had given false details and gone missing, and it turned out that he'd been living not at the address that he'd given the police, but in various hostels. After a couple of weeks of having disappeared though, the man had walked into a police station and handed himself in - a villain with a conscience! Only not enough conscience to admit to the coersion of a minor as he then proceeded to insist that he had nothing to do with the child, had no responsibility for him, and certainly hadn't led him into a life of crime. Only then he crumbled and admitted he was guilty. And the consequence of this? The case of the attempted theft of the holey watering can is going to court!!!!! Oh my! I am going to feel so incredibly foolish if I have to stand up in court as a witness (which I'm assured by the police, without having asked, will be under the witness protection programme and I can give evidence via video-link if I want!). 'Yes, Your Honour, I am victim to the crime of the attempted theft of a holey watering can that I once grew rosemary in, hence the holes. No, Your Honour, I didn't see anything ... or hear anything, because I was tucked up in bed and fast asleep at the time, having taken a sleeping tablet the night before. I do have a box of worms, which my father gave me for Christmas, next to where said holey watering can was taken from, but they have not been forthcoming with information regarding events of the morning, nor with giving a description of the villain. Your Honour, there is no need to look distressed at the uselessness of the worms' observation skills as I now have a fine protector in Wilfred,' at which point I could hold up a photo of Wilfred. I could, of course take the real thing, but that would mean leaving the watering can unprotected so it's probably best that I just take a photo.

PC May was so excited at the prospect of this going to court. Aren't you glad that your taxes are being spent on the protection of my watering can? I can hear your cheers of support from here. How about giving Wilfred a cheer too? I'm sure he'd appreciate acknowledgement for the fine job he's now doing. After all, so far as I know, no crook has tried to steal the holey watering can since Wilfred took over its protection.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Safely home

Sorry for the delay in updating you all. I did indeed manage to get home on Sunday and I've been enjoying being back, although I've also been rather tied up with writing my final project for my current OU course. Because this is a creative writing course then the final project isn't quite a dissertation, but rather it's a long short story. I'd done a first draft before I went into hospital (I'm not quite sure how I managed to get my head around doing that when I was feeling so poorly, but I'm glad I did), but I wasn't at all happy with the ending. In my post-hospital stupour and recover period I've been trying to re-write the end of my story and got myself so tied up in knots that I haven't been able to see what's been good and what's been bad about what I had. I've written three or four different versions of the end, but now have something that I'm happier with ... which is a relief as I ended up in tears over it yesterday - testament to the exhaustion that illness causes. The ECA (End of Course Assessment) isn't finished yet as I still have a commentary to write - a reflection on the process of writing the story - but the end is in sight. This is just as well as the completed ECA needs to have reached the Open University central office by 22nd May, which is only two weeks away! :oO

My mother has been staying with me for a few days this week, looking after me in the aftermath of the most recent admission. It's been lovely to have her around, especially while I've been so tired from the pneumonia, asthma, and hospital experience, and so wound up by the ECA. Mum's going home (Edinburgh) tomorrow afternoon, but as was already planned, I'm going up to stay with her for a few days next week. We're going to the theatre on Tuesday evening to see 'West Side Story', which promises to be excellent.

So that's a quick update of where things are at and where things have been, and where I've been.

I have news to get back to you with, but there'll be more on that in the next post.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

On the move

I had a brief escape off the ward today when a friend came and took me for a trundle in the park :o) It was lovely. There was a gentle breeze, but it was sunny and warm enough for me to be out in the wheelchair in my pjs, dressing gown and a blanket. I only had slipper socks on my feet so they got a bit chilly after a while, but that was only after sitting for quite some time by the pond and feeding the ducks. Actually, the ducks weren't interested - I think they'd had their full of bread by the influx of Saturday visitors - and barely ruffled a feather when bread landed on them. So for a while we threw bread at the pond and the concrete around the pond (not very exciting, I can assure you), and ended up feeding the pigeons.

It was so lovely to get out for a bit. Apart from a relatively short trip to the bathroom the other day I haven't been out of my little room since I got here. Although I'm used to it, it does get somewhat claustrophobic, and a bit weird when you hardly see anyone all day for several days. It makes exposure to the rest of the world something of a shock when I'm eventually 'set free'. And speaking of being set free, it's going to happen tomorrow :oD Hurray! The SpR came round this morning and was relatively happy with how things had gone since stopping the aminophylline, and although my peak flows are certainly nothing to write home about, they are better than when I came in. I was still on the oxygen when the doc came, but I've been without since shortly afterwards and I've been okay (my sats tonight were 94% on room air), so all is on track for home tomorrow. I'll have to wait for the final 'yes' from the doc tomorrow, but my script has been done, pharmacy have checked it, and my lift home is organised for around 2pm :o)

I'm so looking forward to getting home. As ever it's going to take a while to get back on my feet, but it's going to be good to be back in my own space, and back with Zach >^..^< They always do a fantastic job here, and I know for sure that I'm in excellent hands, but it's also always fantastic to get back into life :o) Here's to going home!

Friday, 1 May 2009


Spoons are at the ready and I've started digging my tunnel out of here ... which may come as a bit of a shock to those below me as I'm on the 4th floor. Never mind, the adrenaline from the shock it'll give them when I crash through the ceiling might give them just the boost they need to get better ;oP

The consultant, Dr H, came round this morning, waking me from my post-breakfast slumber by joking that, 'just because [I'm] doing an OU degree doesn't mean [I] can behave like a student.' ;oP After feeling completely exhausted yesterday, I'd had a bit of a better night's sleep last night and I felt more alive after my morning rest today, so it was agreed that we'd try to get the aminophylline down today. It's always a bit of an anxious time, because there have been many times when this hasn't been a smooth process and I've ended up back at square one. I was a little more relaxed about it this time though as 'square one' hadn't been anywhere near as critical as it usually is. However, it's still been a bit stressful wondering how things have going to be, but so far so good and the infusion came down at about 3.30pm so I reckon we're in safe territory now :o) This is a major step forward in my recovery and signals that discharge is approaching. In fact, if I can manage to get off the oxygen tomorrow then I may get home on Sunday, which would be fantastic. I know that as usual I'm going to be worn out when I get home, especially as the run up to this admission was such a long, drawn-out struggle, but at least we seem to have beaten the pneumonia bugs and the inflamation that they set up is more under control than it was. My peak flows are still low, with my highest pre-neb PEF today being 130 and my highest post-neb PEF so far today being 210, and they're still rather erratic, but they're going in the right direction. As for spirometry ... well, I don't think they've dared to do them again after the dismal result the other day. Maybe they think I'm better off keeping what breath I have for breathing, rather than wasting it by blowing it down a tube that draws a graph ;oP I don't mind - I'm not a fan of spirometry, because it makes you feel as though your head is going to take off and splat somewhere on the other side of the room while your chest implodes.

I'm really hoping that tonight goes okay without the aminophylline, and it should now that I've been off it a while and have started back on the oral theophylline, but night times are traditionally more difficult for asthmatics than day times. This is in part because of the body's natural cycle of cortisol - the steroid that the adrenal glands produce. The levels of cortisol fluctuate throughout the day, usually troughing between 2 am to 5 am, which is when many asthmatics experience more difficulty. The oral steroids (prednisolone) that I and many other 'unstable' asthmatics take raise the level of the naturally occurring cortisol (a healthy individual produces around 7mg per day) in an attempt to settle the asthma. In theory the dose of prednisolone can be split so that half is taken in the morning - the usual time to take pred - and half in the evening, so as to avoid the night time dip. However, the night time dip plays a role in sleep, and if you muck around with the cortisol/pred timing then you can end up getting very little sleep, which ultimately won't help. High doses of prednisolone can already affect sleep, whether or not the dose is split, and seeing as I'm on a whopping 75mg/day at the moment (!) it wouldn't be a good idea to further compromise the likelihood of good quality sleep that's going to rest my body and help me to get better. So yes, in theory the dose can be split and the night time dip can sometimes be averted, but in practise it is hardly ever done. End of pharmacology lesson ;o)

And now I've forgotten what I was saying before I rudely interrupted myself chuntering on about prednisolone and cortisol ... *scrolls back to look at the beginning of the last paragraph.* Ah yes, it was something to do with getting through the night and hoping it'd be okay now that the infusion is down. I'm sure it'll be fine. I hope it'll be fine. It will be fine. *crosses fingers* [pauses while blood pressure is checked ... it's all fine :o) ] Who knows, now that I'm line free, even if I'm not cannula free, I might even sleep a bit better as I won't be tying myself up in knots and pulling the line when I roll over. Oh, and the machine won't be having hissy-fits and beeping for no apparent reason in the middle of the night. Ahhhh, freedom :o)

Now then, where did I put that spoon? I need it to get back to my tunnel-digging *wanders away wearing a hard hat and looking for excavation implements*