28 Oct 2008

Post 81: My 1st weekend away

Just once it would be nice to be able to start off a post without having to apologise for not having written one for ages, my aim is to write one a week, usually at weekends to give people who read this something new to read on Monday morning when as I recall people are desperately trying to look busy while staring at their computer screens.
The reason I didn't manage it this week was I wasn't actually here this weekend. A lot has happened which I feel is worth talking about which makes a welcome change from the usual stygian content!
Firstly, some old college friends of mine bravely at their instigation took me down to Sandwich in Kentlur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href[], these protagonists were my best mate Tony[], whose skills of organization/coordination have made my time since my stroke a great deal easier, our mildly eccentric 'best anecdote teller in the world ever' theologian turned chaplain of charterhouse school, the reverend Richard Lloyd[] and Vicky and PJ Denning
[], whose marriage Richard had presided over in July 2004..Vicky is a great friend and has been like a sister to me since we met. She has always been a great source of support to me and I hope I have been to her. Everyone was thrilled when her and PJ got together because she had gone out with some real bastards (something she'll agree with me about). Funny story about PJ – his dad was the professor of organic chemistry at Magdalen College, Oxford when I applied for chemistry there back in 1994 and he actually interviewed me. He unsurprisingly declined to offer me a place and passed me on to a much lesser college with what turned out to be much greater people. Prof Denning had made the right choice, a year later I had ruthlessly changed subject to PPE having rowed and drunk my way to a preliminary exam failure in chemistry. Stranger still I think PJ was also my first year lab partner, so them ending up married is a fantastic coincidence. Everyone did a great job of looking after me with special credit going to Vicky considering she is six months pregneant. Usually when we're all down in Sandwich we all play golf as Richard's parents holiday house that we stay at is called the 'fifth tee'. Seeing as I am probably unable to play golf ever again the main agenda item for me was to try not to get too cold or tired and enjoy my friends company and look forward to the dietbusting Royal St Georges golf club roast lunch. Quite by chance a local girl called Linda had mailed me a few weeks ago because she had read on my facebook profile that I was a young stroke survivor,she herself was a young stroke survivor too and figured we might have some common ground. Seeing as I was in the area it made sense to meet up.Eventually we settled on meeting in the 'mixed bar' at Royal St. Georges after we decided that my wheelchair was too wide for the doorframes in her house! She had her stroke ten years ago and (giving hope to me) is so well recovered she doesn't even look like she ever had a stroke. She was so lovely and understanding and was such good company that we asked her to stay for lunch. I must say that without exception meeting other stroke survivors has been very useful. They have all given me hope. Linda was no exception. I had been pretty terrified about this trip before it, I am pretty scared of venturing out of my comfort zone, It's one thing to do at work, completely another to test ones physical and mental boundaries as if starting from scratch. At least in my own home I have my own routines, I know where rails are for me to transfer, I know how to transfer, I know which doors are wide enough, I know I can fit in the toilet, I know how to use the toilet, I know how to attract attention/ask for help if I need to. Linda also explained to me one of the many reasons I probably get so tired. 'it's like all your inateness is gone and to do the simplest of things needs you to concentrate so hard, it's tense and exhausting', so for me it means exhaustion. For her, Migraines. I don't know what to say. So the weekend went much better than expected but I got back home to some dreadful news.
On Monday morning Caroline (one of my housemates who I have become rather reliant on for my care – it helps that she used to be a qualified nurse in South Africa) was leaving (for good) that evening. She told me matter of factly that she had seen a cheap direct flight to Durban and had bought it, ostensibly to go and be with her new husband and family. Apparently since their wedding a couple of months ago in South Africa he has (understandably) been on the phone 'whining like a two-stroke engine' about her not being at home. I can understand this but am a bit befuddled by the suddenness of her departure which has deprived me of my best carer, I now have a room to fill and a whole lot of uncertainty to deal with, I remember how awful/awkward it was first time around, and I am left with the awful insecurity that she left in a hurry because she couldn't bear to be in my presence a second longer despite her words to the contrary.The only good news which makes up for this disaster is that my visit from Lucy has turned up just the counsellor I needed, Lucy's flatmate Vicki. Since being out of hospital, I have been looking for someone to talk too regularly to help me emotionally get through what has happened. I wish I could hand on heart say I was strong enough but I'm not. Friends have been a great source of support but friends have got their own lives and problems and cannot consistently be here every week. Vicki has kindly said that she can and the real bonus is she's incredibly easy on the eyes[] (always a major consideration), she's energetic,positive, bubbly, has a psychology background, She's perfect, for once since this stroke, I actually feel lucky.

19 Oct 2008

Post 80: The filming of Never Mind The Buzzcocks

That's right, I should be less unhappy after this week! I've taken in a couple of great shows this week, seen some good friends and importantly been visited by some gorgeous women. I however have worked something out, I'm only ever going to really be happy if one of two things happen and if they both happen it's going to feel like finding the holy grail. The first is to wake up and feel that the sleep I've just had has made a jot of difference to my constant state of exhaustion. The second is predictably to wake up next to a beautiful woman who wants to be there, not because I'm some charity case because of my disability, not someone I've had to beg, someone who is comfortable with me and what I have become. Before my stroke I was used to this. It is the thing I miss the most.

Anyway, happier stuff that doesn't make me cry. On Tuesday I went courtesy of Tony finding the tickets and Simon Dawes driving the van (accompanied by his awesome wife Yvonne) to see the filming of one of my favourite shows, Never Mind the Buzzcocks at BBC TV centre in Shepherds Bush. Once we had negotiated the many discarded copies of the Guardian we finally got to our places. Usually a wheelchair affords you a front row seat and a great view but sadly this time we were right behind the cameras, seeing as the tickets for these things are free we could hardly complain so we were able to watch most of the action on a nearby monitor but were obviously able to soak up the atmosphere. The first thing that was blindingly obvious was that rumors of in my opinion 'greatest living Englishman' Bill Bailey retiring from the show are sadly true. Impossibly young and hilarious presenter Simon 'streak of Piss' Amstell broke the audience the news gently by telling us Bailey had turned out to be;'greedy' and that after 11 years he had decided to call it a day to focus on his £30 a head sellout arena stand-up tour. Imagine, being motivated by that in this day and age, especially with capitalism crashing all around us,the average BBC employee must be thrilled. I'm being careful because I know a few! Anyway Phil Jupitus was very much in evidence, he is HUGE and as the recording wore on he looked rather bored but he is still consistently hilarious. Guest Replacement for Bailey was the inimitable Jonny Vegas who showed how much the show missed Bill Bailey. Sure, he is occasionally funny but not in the way that suits the show. I think the right words would be 'irritating' or 'tiresome'.Anyway my favourite exchange of the evening came between Amstell and guest Danny 'the cockney geezer' Dyer. Now Dyer is responsible for one of my all time favourite movie moments as speed crazed small time cockney drug dealing policemans son 'Moff' in 'Human Traffic' when he has a quality comedy rant abou how he would torture Peter 'f*****g' Andre. Simon Amstell was telling him he needed to change his brand to Danny Dieer (with a slight French accent) so he could be taken seriously as an actor instead of being typecast as a 'cockney urchin'. Dyer was not impressed. For a 30 minute show filming took two and a half hours ostensibly because Amstell kept fluffing his autocue lines or Vegas would be deliberately obstructive which was funny the first time he did it, not the thirtieth. All in all an entertaining ((if a little knackering) evening. I'm going to see 'greedy' Bills stand up show in December. I can hardly wait! From the ridiculous to the sublime, I saw something called momix last night which is a bit different from what I'd normally see. How would you describe it? Well, weird would be a good start. Contemparary dance in the pitch black with some UV lights tactically placed to illuminate the odd white strip on the black lycra clad dancers all set to a thumping Jean Michelle Jarre-esque post-apocalyptic soundtrack, weird is probably easier.The highlight of the night for me was getting driven and accompanied to the theatre by the lovely Andrea, my first occupational therapist in the Frank Cooksey Rehab Unit at Kings College, (she was pictured on the left in a much older post but the photo is now gone, probably another thing I can't be arsed to learn about blogging). Anyway the point is that she is great. She drove flawlesslly, and she is sparkling company and because she is used to dealing with stroke patients she knows exactly what she is doing. She made me feel safer than I have felt for ages. I hadn't spoken to her for ages,she just happened to respond to a group email requesting a driver. I feel privileged to have been in her thoughts. Continuing the theme of amazing women that have come to see me this week, I thought of my first proper girlfriend Lucy who I haven't seen for years.We briefly spoke on facebook when I was still in hospital and it turns out that she knew about my situation by virtue of bumping in to my cousin at a party. I got in touch with her again because she was good at listening to my problems all those years ago and when we'd been in email touch, I figured she'd be great to talk too. She's also incredibly pretty, which always help! The same is true of another friend of mine, Leigh. Now I have a couple of attractive friends called Leigh, this is the very tall South African one. There's nothing like being surrounded by Saffas! Both my housemates, Andrea, My physio Nat, what is going on? I hope there isn't a correllation with my mood?! I doubt that very much! I think for some reason my mood appears to be correlated with visits from lovely ladies.I feel a bit like Terry Thomas! Hellllllooooooo! (said in a posh gap-toothed way).

11 Oct 2008

Post 79: Out to lunch with old work friends

In the context of the previous post, you may think I would want to keep stum about just being taken out for lunch but I'm feeling quite virtuous about it. You may think that having fish and chips sounds bad but not when the fish is grilled eschewing the rather delicious(but sinful) beer batter. I even asked them to give me a small portion of chips with salad instead of the rest of the chips, it's hardly fish and chips anymore. I'm that scared of Natalie! It's not that she's scary, I just can't take another verbal battering. Physio is hard enough already without there being tension caused by my dietary indiscipline. I've said it before but it's so important to have a therapist that you like because I can't emphasise this enough, everything I do in Physiotherapy is physically and mentally horrific but to most normal people would represent little difficulty. I have had therapists that I don't like who have made me turn the air blue rather than do my therapy. You get the picture so I won't go on.
Anyway, I was taken to lunch by some former colleagues turned heroic friends, Simon Dawes (with family, awesome wife Yvonne and two mischevious children, almost 6 Joseph and slightly younger Isabel). They were joined by two people that Simon and myself used to manage, lovely couple Anna and Paul (I wonder how long it will be before they get married). I always take any opportunity I can to stitch up Paul ;-). Together they are brilliant as well as being a pair of comedians. They have both moved to pastures less green now ( JL people will see what I've done there) and Paul came out with an instant classic. After telling us that one of his new colleagues announced to him that she enjoyed watching skiing he unashamedly said'if that's the case then it's all downhill from there 'and that it's a slippery slope etc' Well I found it funny! These are the types of people and things that brighten my life these days.

8 Oct 2008

Post 78:Dieting is RUBBISH

I know it's been a while since my laast post but my battle with my weight got interesting this morning when my hitherto adorable physio, Natalie had a fairly serious go at me about my diet and more specifically about me asking people who visit me to bring me stuff. What I have usually asked people to bring is a vanilla smoothie and very rarely a turkey and emmental bagel. Apparently this is contraband of the highest order, she made it sound worse than crack and started using phrases like 'if you're really serious about walking again' blah blah. She even told me off for having too much dessert last sunday. As if my life isn't bad enough?! To put things in perspective I wonder how obese people walk again after stroke because I can't see how they could. I am pretty slim and lanky it just doesn't help being my height (6'3”) and having a stroke as awful as mine. It's another one of those situations when I don't feel lucky to be alive. Anyone reading this who's likely to visit me, an M&S salad is the order of the day. Woe is me or as Homer J Simpson said 'you don't win friends with Salad'.

1 Oct 2008

Post 77: My Parents amazing rebuilt house

Its been a while since my last miserable post and I have a few subjects for this post which will hopefully be a bit more upbeat (that wouldn't be too hard).
Firstly, my parents have finally moved into their rebuilt house. They must be so relieved as it has been two years since it burnt down and they basically were left in the clothes they were standing in. They have spent the last two years living in allsorts of places – goodness knows how they have found time to visit their stricken son,but they have. A couple of heroes is what they are to have somehow navigated the last three years with their health and sanity intact. Now that they've finally moved in things don't appear to get easier because the latest crisis is that my sister is in hospital in America. Susan has always been the successful and tough one so my parents and the rest of us are understandably concerned. I hope she gets better quickly. That would make me almost as happy as I was to hear that my dad had said on his first morning in the new house said 'it's so nice to have my view back'. I can only imagine how chuffed he is.
The second thing I'm going to go on about is how chuffed I've been by some recent visitors. Firstly Nick and Sally Walmsley and their awesome son Oscar, the 'mini-Walm', They are great friends of mine from University. Sally was my first proper girlfriend at College and Nick was a mate,one of the cleverest in a university full of clever people. They are a lovely couple. They came to see me on sunday and cooked me an awesome BBQ. Later in the day Becky and Harry Morrison popped in. It's so good to see these two as two years ago they were told they couldn't have a baby. Becky is now expecting twins in November. The conclusion from this is so inspiring and shows me that medical experts aren't always to be trusted. An attitude that I've taken to experts telling me there's nothing they can do about my fatigue and more than that, the RHN physio who told me I was 'unlikely to ever walk again'.



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