25 Sep 2008

Post 76: Depression of the stroke survivor

It has been two years, 8 months, twenty four days and this morning since my stroke and I wish I could report that everything was just grand, well it's not, I'm afraid, I still feel like a poor imitation of a real person, exhausted, insecure, pale, drawn and I can see no way out of this for the forseeable future. I'm very against suicide because it would not be fair on the legions of people who have worked so hard to bring me back from the brink of death. I used to take pride in parts of myself, my appearance and some of my achievements. It's so difficult to take pride in anything nowadays. I look and feel like s**t, the roof over my head no longer belongs to me and only exists due to extreme good fortune and the Herculean efforts of my brother renovating and adapting the place, the incredible wheelchair I sit in is so far outside of my means that it had to be bought with the generous donations from people who have raised such a staggering amount of money for me. The same is true of much of the stuff in my house, almost all of which I feel unworthy of. I suppose that is the thing I have to be proud of,the strength and resolve of my friends and family. It must be as difficult to read this as it is for me to write it. Changing the subject but following the theme, the community Psychologist suggested to me that a way out of this isolation would maybe be to move to some sheltered accommodation a bit nearer places I could conceivably work. I could hardly believe I was hearing this. Moving here in the first place was one of the hardest, most terrifying things I've ever had to do. There is simply no way I could ever conceive, little afford to do it again. For starters, until the fog of my fatigue begins to lift, it just seems to get worse at the moment the prospect of using what is left of my brain is not a realistic one. To be able to deal with the rigours of what I used to be used to you have to be alert at all times (well most of them) bring energy, enthusiasm, charisma and charm (arguable I could ever do this!) to situations, which I certainly can't do these days and use a computer.
You might think this blog is evidence I can use a computer, I beg to differ. Writing this over a period of hours typing with one finger is simply not acceptable and wouldn't be to anyone. Anyone still reading is obviously a glutton for punishment, but I stand by the depressing content, I am slightly ashamed of being this unhappy.

22 Sep 2008

Post 75:Mocking the week and the Ryder cup

There have been some strange goings on in America lately that British satirists have latched onto and made me giggle, for starters John Mccain has selected Sarah Palin to be his running mate, a woman who he has met only once, as if this wasn't strange enough Mrs Palin is described in the tabloids as 'the thinking mans crumpet' or by Hugh Dennis on Mock the Week as 'the stupid mans doughnut'. There is something very worrying about the Republic Parties candidates which even more alarmingly have a 4% poll lead. Comic Reginald D Hunter said on Have I Got News For You recently (as a joke obviously) that McCains first action should he win is probably to 'withdraw troops from Iraq and invade Vietnam'. It gets worse, apparently Mrs Palin doesn't believe that climate change is man-made something even Dubya acknowledges. As MTW's Andy Parsons points out,'it's a sad state of affairs when you make Bush look like an informed progressive'. Palin meanwile has got a 17 year old daughter who has been knocked up by a bloke who has on his myspace page 'redneck and proud'., Frankie Boyle poinys out that'being a redneck and having a social networking website is ridiculous, redneck social networking is putting a couch on your front lawn', all this is genius and so much better for me than medical swallowable anti depressants.
While I'm having a rant against the US, we (Europe) lost the Ryder cup yesterday, now I was a little upset at this until a conversation with my mum revealed we may have lost on purpose to secure the long term future of the competition. What, eh, why? Because Americans aren't interested in stuff they lose at! Had we won yesterday it's entirely plausible that the Americans would cease to take the event seriously, Loding something five times running would surely be grounds for the Americans to say 'why put up millions in ad spend if no-one's going to watch it in the states. In the states no-one is interested in coming second. The most powerful nation on earth has the attitude and intelligence of a small child, run away, run away. America bashing aside, although I can still hear those nauseating chants of 'USA USA' or see US redneck player Bo Weekly chewing Tobacco. Enough ranting,it's making me angry (what a surprise). At this rate I could even take up smoking again which would be a disaster! What I really want to do is thank my amazing friends (Peter, Imogen, PJ,Vicky and Tony) for coming round yesterday evening, watching the golf and cooking the most sublime 'kentucky' 'southern style' BBQ. It was amazing and reminded me why I love good food and company and why losing weight will be impossible.

17 Sep 2008

Post 74: My Sister is unwell

My sister who I spoke to the other day said that postimg pictures is making me post happier stuff, it is pure coincidence if this post is less upbeat and there is no picture. Actually my sister is not well at the moment, she's in hospital in the US but hopefully it sounds like it can be dealt with despite it never being nice having to go into hospital, take it from someone who knows! Anyway, I hope she gets better soon. I had a thought last night, the moment I find someone will be the moment I stop writing this rubbish, I hear a collective sigh of potential relief but be warned when/if could be a long way off but as an attempt at speeding this up I have been conducting a bit of an experiment: In the last few weeks I have been trying out those dating websites. I have been completely honest about my situation and to be honest my worst fears have been realised. Blokes in wheelchairs are not what women want, It's obviously too soon for anything to have happened but the silence from the original mails I sent speaks volumes, no-one wants a disabled person. At least with girls I know they know what I was like and know a little bit of how I've handled this but there's a problem here too, which is the same problem that eats me up on a daily basis, is that I compare myself now to what I was like as an able-bodied person and the comparison always leaves me cold and filled with self-loathing. I have been told (repeatedly) that this comparison is not useful but it's the only one I can make because I may have come a long way from when I looked like being a vegetable in the Casualty of Charing Cross Hospital but I can't remember that, it's probably just as well I don't. Even things like independent
transferring between my bed and wheelchair as opposed to being mechanically hoisted by a third party don't feel like useful achievements because the distance that I need to go is so small. I hate being this way and I haven't even mentioned how tired I feel! Oh,on top of all this I got stuck in the lift at Natalie's clinic again today... It never rains...... Apologies if this post is a bit depressing.

13 Sep 2008

Post 73: Getting by alone

Well, I have just about survived this week on my own and the real hero has been my neighbour Tracey who has come in and checked on me, cooked evening meals for me and generally been about, not to mention all the people who came to see me (especially in the evenings when things can get a touch lonely.
One of my better choices was to get in touch with Natasha a few weeks ago. She has always had my best interests at heart and talking to her again was soothing. Since I was in the Royal Hospital she always maintained that I should have Massage therapy to try and loosen up the many muscles that have seized up due to messaging malfunction and inactivity over the last 2 and a half years so she found me one who for a reasonable amount (paid for generously by the trust) a chap called Ian now comes to visit me once a week, but the person who really deserves the credit is Natasha who even paid for the first two sessions., she really is an amazing friend. Ian may talk some occasional mumbo jumbo about how his magnetic massage accoutrements penetrate deeper into muscle tissue but his hands on approach to stretching my shoulder and neck is clearly helpful and he is a nice guy. I could have done with this sort of treatment over the last two years but getting the NHS to do anything different is like starting a sentence to an old gruff teacher 'with all due respect...'. It always gets you nowhere.
I guess my other 'big' news, well Natalie, my amazing physio would say so was that unaided I was able to get a glass to my lips and take a sip holding the glass in my left hand, even though I couldn't feel it ( I have no feeling in my left hand or left foot for that matter) and it was frustratingly slow and ungainly, about as far removed from any normal person taking a glass to their lips with the left hand. It is just like me to do down this achievement and just like Nat to talk it up, I could never do what she does,i.e. Be so lovely and upbeat in the face of such human suffering and misery. Often physio sessions cause me to cry uncontrollably about how hard I now find it to do the simplest of things. Natalie always picks up the pieces. It makes so much difference having a nice therapist.

12 Sep 2008

Post 72: Friends take up the slack

Not for the first time I couldn't feel more grateful. Regular readers of this blog will remember that my housemates have had to both go away this week leaving me in my own company. In a previous life this would have been fine, now it seems to be a trial of my mental health. Luckily, several friends have been around to pick up the pieces, my friend Simon came to visit on Wednesday, my other friend Simon (from John Lewis) came to see me on Tuesday with another former colleague the flamboyant and charismatic promotions manager Dan 'Gok Wan' Cooper who I hadn't seen for ages and then last night my great uni friends Alex and Will and what touched me was they stayed and looked after me like 5* carers. As another couple of my friends that are married it showed me that a couple staying in the spare room is no problem. It was just nice to have a meal and chat to them before I have to slope off to bed early because of my omnipotent fatigue. It was just so reassuring to have other people in the house. Alex then helped me with my morning routine and breakfast, all midweek and when I most needed the help! Thank-you, and so kind of everyone, may I commend the guestroom to everyone.

9 Sep 2008

Post 71: Tiny Lily Dabbous and it being a 'small' world at University

While I'm on the subject of visits, I had a particularly special one recently that I neglected to mention. It was from some old Uni mates of mine, Lianne and Alex Dabbous, before they were married, I used to do tutorials with Alex and we got on well because we were equally workshy and used to swap stories about how we were always in trouble with the same politics tutor. I knew his then girlfriend Lianne because she had once been the girlfriend of my great friend Dom. It was a small world back then!
What was special about their visit was they brought their tiny, pinfully cute 1 week old daughter,Lily, I felt so honoured to meet the baby so young and you can probably tell from the picture how precious she is, during the visit Lianne and I were able to swop horror stories about hospitals because it sounded like giving birth in anNHS hospital was more traumatic than my 'Gamma-Knife' procedure.

7 Sep 2008

Post 70:Lunch with the girls

It's a tough life, going out to lunch with four of my old uni mates. Made even tougher by the fact that they're all gorgeous girls. I'd offered to take out for a weekend lunch Alice, Sally, Alex and Helen a while back but they wouldn't let me pay which was so kind of them. Sadly, three of them are lost to the men of this world by marrying very nice blokes, why Helen hasn't been snapped up yet is an utter mystery to me. Despite the odd envious glance from passing patrons lunch went by without incident except when Sal's one year old son, Oscar wanted to get everyones attention by standing (usually with a little support), cooing,smiling and dribbling, I wish I could attract the attention of beautiful women by doing that, the standing still eludes me but for some reason the dribbling doesn't help. Anyway I guess my point is that being able to go to this loval pub and have a fantastic lunch with these lovely ladies helps me feel a little more normal. Again and for that I'm grateful.

It IS a tough life when you realise that your life basically falls apart when some key people are away. This week both my flatmates had to go toSouthAfrica. Caroline to go and get married (a happy reason) and Averil because her sister has finally lost her batttle with cancer (such a sad reason). There is no question that they both must go but I'm not sure if I can cope without them, that is how much I have lost my independence. Sadly, my mum and dad and brother are all out of the country till friday so it's not as if they can absorb some of the slack, What has helped go someway towards assuaging some of my terror has been the way that neighbours and local friends have rallied around to offer to cook me a meal here, spend an evening/night upstairs or help me struggle through my morning routine and Averil herself has arranged som sort of contingency when all she must want to do is grieve. This is going to be a tough week, I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

4 Sep 2008

Post 69: Alice and Dom and bizarre coincidences

I can't possibly write something about everyone who comes to see me, I simply don't have the time or the typing speed or most importantly of all, the energy. I'm sure a collective sigh of relief was breathed there but I feel compelled to write something nice about Alice and her husband Dom who came to see me last night, not only have they been the most loyal of loyal friends but it is quite unfathomably brilliant that they have ended up together, I can't think of a better couple and I know a few good ones. I've known Dom for years, scarily I think it's almost 25 years when our parents met in some cafe queue on the side of a mountain in Switzerland. His mum and my mum have both got rather loud voices so no prizes for guessing how they thought they might have something to talk about. Dom and I skied together from that moment on after every christmas for years. We both went through (completely separate) schools, him a year behind me before ending up at different Oxford Colleges.Alice turned up at my college (a year after me). I wish I could take the credit for introducing them but I think they had already met by virtue of being on the same course. So bizarrely, I knew Alice before Dom, so that them ending up married has meant the uniting of two great friends. It's always awesome to see them particularly as Alice is off 'saving the world' in Africa (he says cynically) working on HIV education projects for weeks at a time. Each time she goes I miss her and worry about her which is nothing compared to what poor Dom must go through. People like them and seeing them make my life worth living. I'm so glad I've worked out how to post pictures!

3 Sep 2008

Post 68: Beautiful Kath

A shorter ( and hopefully happier post today) I have always been a great appreciator of beauty, regular readers of this blog have probably noticed, yesterday I had a surprise visit from an old college friend and in her own right a very beautiful girl and beautiful person, Kathryn. Kath being Kath, rather than meticulously planning her visit like most people, I got a frantic phonecall asking me how to get here oh, and whether I was free in the afternoon. Luckily I was and she was able to make it. We chatted for a couple of hours. It's visits/chats like this that make life worth living. Kath and I have been mates since day one at college and know a lot of the same people so it's nice to catch up with someone so lovely and easy on the eyes. She's always full of interesting stories because she has gone down a very different path from most Oxford graduates because she has decided to be an actress. I have no doubt that one day she will 'make it'. At the moment her acting is very much from the 'Withnail and I' school, By this I mean it is a bit of a hand to mouth existence. Occasional theatre parts, sporadic roles in independent low budget films, showbiz parties full of luvvies, anecdotes, disasters, dramas, it wouldn't be for the faint hearted but it's always interesting, especially to listen to. It reminded me that memories and photographs are all very well and good but cannot replace the physical person.



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