Archive for August, 2006

Day 462 – Tuesday 1st August 2006

Well, I couldn’t resist a blog entry..

I was up at 6.30am to get the dogs walked before I went into work. kp GOT UP WITH ME ! Unheard of – I don’t think she has seen pre-9am for ages. That was lovely of her. When I returned from walking the dogs, we enjoyed a cup of tea outside before I left for work. Marie came for 1pm and made Roast Chicken for tea – it was gorgeous. Abbie and Adele had also arrived as they are staying a few days.

On my return (6.45pm), kp filled me in on the day’s events.

She went straight back to sleep and got up about 10.30am. She showered and started getting dressed for herself – the first (or second) time since the accident. Needless to say, it wasn’t without hitch. Regular Blog readers will probably know where the hitch came…….According to kp……

kp:- I was doing fine, until it came to my bra. I had got it fastened, but had it back to front, upside down and was trying to work it out, when the dogs went mad. The man (who has been cutting our hedges) had come for his money. Well, I couldn’t get it on, I couldn’t get it off. Eventually, I got it off and put a top on. When I got to the door, my shirt was probably skew-iff, and my trousers were probably around my “ass”…..

And she did an impression for Adele and I of what she must have looked like, and was laughing her head off at herself. It was so funny to see kp laugh so much about the situation :-) She has SUCH a lovely smile and laugh – they are very infectious.

I was exhausted after doing some work (for a change) and was in bed asleep by 8.30pm. But, here I am at 1am, wide-awake. Need to get some order into my life I think. But, I really enjoyed my day at work and was made to feel very welcome which was nice. So, a first day for both of us that was a good experience. Let’s hope there are many more to come.


Thanks for all the blog comments of support. kp has read them all. She has started reading the blog. We read through up to the middle of June last year together, and she has been trying to catch up so she is upto this day last year, with the idea being she will then read one entry each day (i.e. this day last year). This should give her a good indication of how she has improved over a year. We came across this funny from Day 38 – Sunday 5th June 2005…..Let me set the scene…… Karen is a week out of Intensive Care, still bed-ridden, not mentally upto speed and on Ward 3 at the Q.E.

My dad made the 100-mile trip up from Lancashire today. kp was quiet for the most part, but we did have 1 gem. I had given dad an orange to peel for kp, while I degowned and went to get some cold water. Dad, like me, doesn’t go in for foods that need a lot of faff to get to the food itself and doesn’t eat oranges for this reason.

Dad:- Hey kp, if you carry on for the next 5 weeks as you have done for these first 5 weeks, you’ll be doing very well.
kp:- Do you think by then you will have peeled my orange ?

Week Ending Day 467 – Sunday 6th August 2006

First week back at work for me.

My big fear, going back to work, would be “how would Karen cope on her own ?”. I wasn’t too worried about the physical aspects of coping, like making a cup of tea, getting her bra on etc….more about the loneliness she would face after having my company 24/7 since the accident. This would give her time to reflect on her situation and if she couldn’t handle it, it would be hard for me to leave work.

But, as the week would have it, she didn’t get a moment to reflect as Abbie and Adele were stayed the week.

My first week back at work was great. I am back at the firm I used to work at back in January of last year. I was made to feel very welcome by all “the lads” and really enjoyed it, despite not knowing whether I was coming or going at times. This will sound bad, but it was nice to have a different focus. For the last 15 months, my life has been totally focussed on Karen – nothing else mattered, but now something else does matter. Granted, not as much as Karen, but it still gives me something else to put my teeth into and it is a good feeling.

Neither Karen or I have had a chance to miss each other, me because of work, kp because of her company. But it was still great to see each other on a night time and grab the odd 5 minutes to ourselves.

Karen has been coping “ok” with the day to day routine. Out of the 4 days I was away, she got her bra on once correctly, one day she had to ask Adele and the other 2 she didn’t bother ‘cos it was so hard the first day. Mum has played Bridge with a lady who also can’t use her left arm and she asked her how she managed a bra. Apparently, you can take your brassieres into the local hospital, and they will get rid of the hook mechanism and replace them with velcro. What a good idea !!! We are going to look into this.

Most of the week has been a rainy week, so kp, Adele and Abbie have been amusing themselves in the house most of the time. On Friday, the weather was better and Karen decided to take them to Brewsters so Abbie could go in the “Play Area”. Karen can’t drive for various reasons and so I had told her not to let that be an issue and if she wanted to go somewhere, just to get a taxi. She can’t take the bus, because standing up for long periods knacks her.

We both thought this would be a breeze, but it turned out to be a pain in the arse. She tried a few local taxi firms and couldn’t get a taxi until tomorrow !!!! Eventually she found one who said they would be there in 15 minutes, but they didn’t turn up for an hour. So, it left a sour taste in kp’s mouth.

In future, we will plan these out more.

Yesterday (Saturday), Abbie and Adele went to Beamish, which gave kp and I some “alone” time which we were VERY grateful for. We have enjoyed having them, but at the same time, we enjoy our time together. Whilst they were away, Michelle, Freddy and Marge arrived for a chinwag.

Here are Michelle, Abby and Freddy. I was wary of posting this photo as Freddy scares the sh1t out of me with his “look to camera”….Abby is camera-shy also….


It was a good afternoon overall….

Last night was our first night alone for a few weeks (or at least it feels like that)….

Today, we have really enjoyed each other’s company. kp was up at a half-decent time (9am) and we walked the dogs together. Regular Blog readers will know that one of Karen’ aims (post accident) and one of the indicators that she is getting back to “normal” as she calls it, is that she should be able to walk the dogs (on one of our normal walks). Our normal walks are about an hour long and cross styles, go up and down hills, cross rivers etc…..

Although today we didn’t make a full walk today, we conquered some hurdles which I found really impressive. Firstly, kp managed to scale a style pretty much on her own.


She also managed to walk about 30 yards up the hill we would normally go up…..


And chuck the toy for the dogs, albeit about as far as she could throw it before the accident, which was never too impressive, but impressive given her current situation….


We even met up with Brad Pitt on the walk. He was quite at ease with Elsa and Bonnie………


Once back from the walk, we enjoyed bacon sarnies and then kp went straight to bed – absolutely cream crackered.

Well done love – I told her how impressed I was !!! Style, Uphill walking and Throwing toy – a real bonus. She is doing so well. This next week, she will be on her own MUCH more – fingers crossed !

Azerbaijan ?

Just a quick question. The blog is being read regular from someone from Azerbaijan. My cousin Catherine spotted this, so now I am intrigued as to who this is ? If you are the mystery Azerbaijan blog reader, please leave us a comment as to who you are ?


David P.

Week Ending Day 467 – Sunday 13th August 2006

A Good Week Overall for kp this week.

First, thanks to Frank (from Azerbaijan) for coming forward to the “regular reader from Azerbaijan” query !! Karen and family were chuffed to bits that they knew who it was.

Much to my relief, Karen has really enjoyed her first week “on her own”. Marie came up and stayed one night (cooking tea for us, thanks Marie). But, apart from that, Karen has settled into a nice routine, consisting of

  • Getting up about 10.30am
  • Cup of Tea
  • Do jobs around the house (general tidy)
  • Exercises
  • Sort Washing
  • Dust
  • Read Blog
  • Water Plants
  • Get Poo Up

This is taken verbatim from her own list that she drew up with me last Sunday.

She hasn’t been to the shop yet (on her own) and I know she is quite scared about this. But, as vdfromboro suggested, she should take it in stages – walk to the end of the drive first, then a bit further, then a bit further, before going the whole hog. Part of the problem is that there is a stretch of pavement between us and the shop that is just wide enough for one person to walk. But, I know she’ll crack it and will feel brilliant for doing it. Watch this space.

As well as the above list, she has been trying to sort taxis out to get her to her various appointments. We only have 1 taxi firm in Esh Winning. And when you ring them for a taxi, the conversation goes something like this….

kp:- Can I have a taxi for 2pm to take me to the hospital ?

Taxi Firm :- Sorry love, can you give us a day’s notice if you want a taxi ?

Another time Karen rang, she was greeted by a 10 year old lad, saying “Me dad’s not in it at the moment

Grrrrrrrr ! So she has lost a lot of faith and confidence in Esh Winning taxis. Getting one from a bigger firm in Durham would cost an arm and a leg. Anyway, by the end of the week she had managed to book a taxi for this coming Monday when she has her first physio session since her last op. This will be her first trip out by herself. Heart in mouth time.

Another thing she has been doing is “thinking about tea” for when I get home for work. Each day, she has had something planned and one day she even cooked it. I DO love pasta when it has that certain crunch to it ;-)

This week, she needed to get her prescription for Tamazepam sorted. Karen has this thing she wears round her neck with a red button on it and if she falls, she need only push the button and the Home Care Warden comes round. We were told we could use them to get prescriptions. So, this week was the first test. Unfortunately, they have stopped doing this service, but did it for us this time as a one off.

Another challenge for Karen is to find a shop that sells front-fastening bras. She is really struggling with the bra issue. She can fling it round her back and try and fasten it at the front, but invariably one of the cups will be inside out and/or upside down and with the mental affect of the stroke affecting her “spacial awareness”, she can’t work out how to get the cup the right way round and even if she could, she doesn’t have enough hands to correct it.

So, she has been bra-less most of the week – not really a problem when she is housebound, but I don’t think she will be too keen with her baps juggling about in public.

Another thing she has been doing this week is reading the blog. She is REALLY enjoying reading it and has been howling at some of the funnies that we have come across. She is now upto August 12th last year and has been told (by me) that she can only read upto the day upto the same date of last year. So everyday, she can see how bad she was a year ago.

She had a few tears this week as well. On thursday, she had a visit from her work boss and Personnel. At the moment, they are taking her through a “is she fit enough to return to work procedure”. Every other time they have been, I have been there, but this time, of course, I was at work. According to Karen, they did the usual “How are you doing ?” spiel and she had a good chat with them. But then they started discussing the above mentioned procedure. Apparently, Karen will be visited soon by another Occupational Health person to discuss her situation, followed shortly by a visit from the work doctor who would assess if Karen will get fit enough to return to work. I, personally, don’t think she will, and I think they are thinking along the same lines, but they know how much Karen wants to return to work and they are stepping very carefully so as not to hurt her feelings. I don’t think it is the work, per se, she is missing, but more the camaraderie and friendship of her work colleagues.

Anyhoo, when they started discussing what might happen if she is NOT fit enough to return to work, they discussed her options…..

  • Ill Health retirement
  • Permanent Injury Benefit.

Karen didn’t like the sound of either of these “not returning to work” options and got quite upset. Normally, I would have been there to comfort her, but I think the bosses must have felt a little awkward. When they had calmed her down, they advised her that I should be there for subsequent visits. When they left, she had another good cry. I don’t think karen feels up to work at the moment anyway, but she doesn’t want to be stamped as “unfit to work” by some other party. I think it’s a door that she would like to keep open, but at the same time, she is happy not stepping throught it for now.
That’s about it for this week. So, generally a good week, a little sad one and funny one to end on.

Last night, we were outside having a fag (yes, we started again :-( ). I have been encouraging Karen to use her left arm/hand as the smoking arm/hand. The idea being it is good physio for her hand to grasp and feel the fag (not that she can feel it). And good for her left arm to try and get the fag to her mouth. It’s more the mouth meeting the hand than the other way round, but she can do it !!!!

The sad thing is sometimes she will do the motion of hand to mouth and not realise the fag has dropped out of her hand and is on the floor. The other sad thing was she said………

kp:- Isn’t it good what I can do with my left arm now. Don’t you think that it’s nearly better ?

She is doing so well with her left arm/hand, but it still has a long way to go. I am pleased that she is pleased and I KNOW there is still improvement to come. I am stilling seeing SOME improvement on a weekly basis.

Funny one to end on. Same issue – fags. Karen was out throwing the toy for the dogs in the back garden. She was smoking a fag in her left arm/hand whilst throwing the toy with her right. On one of the throws, Elsa caught the toy and came running back to Karen, but with smoke coming from her hair. Karen had dropped the fag (unbeknownst to her) on Elsa and it was still going. Anyway, Elsa was totally oblivious to this and Karen rectified the situation :-)

Week ending Day 474 – Sunday 20th August 2006

What an awful week. :-(

Karen had managed to book a taxi for Monday to take her to physio for 11.30am. It was coming at 11am. She had planned 2 hours to get ready. She actually ended up getting up at 8.45am allowing her 2 hours to be ready for the taxi. Today, she had purposefully not booked Marie as she wanted to achieve something on her own.

The 2 hours couldn’t have gone more wrong. According to Karen, whilst she was in the shower, someone knocked at the door. It took her a long time to get ready (with a towel round her) and get to the door. During this time, the dogs were going wild (as they do). By the time she had the dogs safely away and she was at the door, the visitor (postlady) had gone, leaving a “Please pick up your parcel at the post office” slip. Karen knew we were expecting the holiday money and so felt really bad she had missed it

Back in the shower. Wash Hair. Done. Just as she got out of the shower, the dogs went wild again for another visitor at the front door. Karen went through the same pallava of trying to get the towel round her, the dogs safely away etc etc….. This time it was the man who cuts the lawn letting her know that he was here and could she get the dogs out of the back garden so he could cut the grass.

She did that and then tried to get ready. Everything went wrong. She couldn’t get her right sock on and by this time was getting very angry with herself (as time was pushing on). When she finally got it on, she started on the bra and tried and tried and tried to get the bra on, but in vain. This was the last straw and at this she broke down. The first I knew of this was a phonecall to me at work.

I had been in work since before 8am. This week was particularly busy for me, as me and my colleague Julie were sitting down with each engineer and explaining some changes that we were implementing. With over 20 people to see, we had scheduled them one after the other from Monday to Thursday. As well as this, all our usual workloads were piling up. So, I am trying to paint a hectic picture here.

My phone silently flashed at me to indicate a call and it popped up saying “Home”.

At the end of one of the One2Ones as we called them (should have been Two2One’s I suppose)….I left the room and phoned Karen…….

Karen was completely distraught. As she spoke, she was sobbing her little heart out………….

Karen :- “I can’t get …..(sob)……ready…..(gasp for breath)……..I CAN’T GET READY !”

For me, this was utterly heartbreaking. Words can’t describe the pain that I felt at being 20 miles away from Karen when she really needed me.

Karen described the events of the morning…..

Karen (still sobbing) :- “………………….and I can’t get my bra on.”

B+stard Bras. They have caused me nothing but grief since I was a teenager. Have bra-makers not heard of velcro ?

Seriously though, it was awful. My first thoughts were to go home, my second thoughts were how important these meetings were for Julie and I in our efforts to move things forward. Aaaaarrggghhh !

The priority was to get Karen off to physio, thinking she would feel better after that. There was no way I could get there in time to get her ready.
dp:- Right…….Why don’t you phone Eileen (ace next door neighbour) and ask her if she can help you with the bra ?

Karen :- I have already thought of that……Eileen works on monday mornings.

Bugger…..At this point, my immediate thought was “Tommy (Eileen’s husband) would be in”. What a stupid thought at such an awful time. Thankfully, it didn’t come out of my mouth.

Tommy would never have managed a bra anyway.

We needed the stress taking out of the situation, so the only other solution was to cancel physio. My next meeting was due to start at this point. I could see Julie chatting to the person, waiting for me to come in.
dp :- Karen……….here’s what you are going to do. I want you to ring the hospital and cancel Physio. Then ring the taxi and cancel that as well. Lydia was going to be picking you up from the hospital wasn’t she ?

kp :- Yes….(still crying, but subsiding a little….)

dp :- Ring Lydia and see if she would come early.
I was keen to get someone there to get the b+stard bra on and to be some company.

dp :- I’ll ring you after this meeting and see how you are getting on.

For me, it was really hard to concentrate on the meeting. And my mind kept reverting back to kp :-(

As soon as it was over, I rang Karen and asked her how she had got on. She had done everything perfectly and the stress was out of the situation. Karen wasn’t as distressed, but was still crying.

I told her I would come home. Karen said that Lydia would be there in 10 minutes so we agreed that I shouldn’t come home.

Lydia took Karen out to lunch, which was nice. I rang Karen back to make sure she paid for Lydia and offered her petrol money. She wouldn’t take the petrol money. Thanks Lydia for rescuing the day for Karen !!!

Since this day, Karen has been VERY subdued. In her words, she feels like an “empty shell”. Tuesday, she just wanted to stay in and be on her own. I phoned the neuropsychologist who is superb at getting Karen out of the doldrums, but she had gone on holiday TODAY, and wouldn’t be back until the 4th of September :-(
Karen rebooked physio for Thursday and Marie came up Wednesday to stay for the night and accompany Karen to physio on the Thursday. With all the hullaballoo of the early part of the week, we had forgot to sort out Karen’s prescription and we desperately needed the drugs for the holiday next week.

Karen sorted this on Thursday, but didn’t enjoy all the phone calls needed.

Last night (thursday night), Karen said…….

kp :- I don’t feel like I am the number 1 priority in your life anymore ?

This was my worst fear realised. I knew that my time at work would make her feel like this. I tried to reassure her that she was, but she cited examples of me forgetting to do the prescriptions, change the pain patches and she was right. I felt awful and tried to reassure her as best I could. I need to up my game !

Today, we went to our appointment with the stroke specialist lady who is advising us on brain injury issues. She was great. We got the usual discussion out of the way, and when she asked Karen how she was generally, Karen broke down into tears and the whole week came out. She started by giving us some pointers on how to cope with these times. It all sounded great. BUT THEN………she headed in the totally wrong direction.

Stroke Specialist Doctor :- …….. It is unlikely you will get back to 100% health.

I was willing and eyeing the lady not to go down this path.

Karen :- What do you mean ?

Stroke Specialist Doctor :- …… It would be wrong of me to say you’re going to get complete recovery…….

I eyeballed her again………

Stroke Specialist Doctor :- But, you’re still making improvements and people continue making improvements for years after a stroke….

She then continued to lighten what she had said.

I was very annoyed that an already ultra-low kp was hearing horrible things from this lady. She was trying to help, but she doesn’t know where Karen is in her head about recovery. Karen is still expecting to be 100% again. Now, Karen is still making improvements and I believe she has a long way to go, but Karen doesn’t want to be told that she won’t get back to 100%.

In the car on the way home, Karen was typically frank……

Karen :- What did she mean by “unlikely to get complete recovery”

dp :- Well, take your eyes for example. We know that your right eye isn’t going to get better.

I said no more, and kp seemed to be happy with this, but I didn’t want to discuss this any further and thankfully she asked no more questions.


Invariably my attempts with Karen to boost her spirit end up talking about all the achievements she has made. From moments from death, to kidney dialysis for life, to walking again, to being left on her own etc….But Karen is “….sick of aiming for things, and achievements”. She just wants to be “normal” again. :-(

She is still really low. We went for a snooze in the afternoon and she woke up not feeling any better. If we can get through tomorrow (Saturday), then I know the holiday and being round all her family will be a great bit of distraction and therapy for her. Roll on Sunday when we fly off to Spain for a week in the sun.

Day 473 – 475 (Saturday to Monday) (19th to 21st August 2006)

Well, Saturday saw an improvement in Karen’s mental state – not much, but enough to indicate that the holiday would definately improve her wellbeing even further.

We had decided to go for a walk on Saturday and took both dogs for a surprise mid-afternoon walk. Thankfully, I took the brolly as it absolutely bucketed down. We only got as far as Tommy and Eileen’s. They are kindly looking after the house in our absence.

The night was full with us enjoying the “How do you solve a problem like Maria ?” and “Pop Idol” programmes :-)

Sunday (day of the flight) – things picked up. Karen was full of smiles when we met up with the family at the airport. This is the first trip we hadn’t taken the wheelchair on. Mostly, because of the extra security measures and the fact it would be a lot more troublesome. So, Karen ended up walking

  • from the car to the airport
  • all around the airport
  • all the way to the plane
  • all the way from the plane to the car (in Alicante)
  • all around Carrefour (only shopping centre open on a Sunday !) etc etc…..

Why do I describe all this ? Because she is paying the price for it now !!!! She has been in a LOT of pain since Sunday night. Her right hip seems to be the culprit – it’s not taking the load of all the walking.

Within an hour of arriving at the villa, everyone bar Karen was in the pool. The kids were in heaven (and the adults to be fair). Karen wasn’t feeling well enough to make the big step, but she wasn’t overly perturbed. For our first night, we decided to go to a restaurant within walking distance. But, even this walk (400 yards) was too much for Karen. Karen and I took the car.
Day One

We purposefully had an easier day for our first day today. We stayed at the villa all day and the kids (and adults bar Karen) spent the day in and around the pool. Karen had a great day as far as fun is concerned and when all the kids were getting ready for tea, Karen and I went in the pool together. It was 7pm at night and still warm. (That’s warm spelt C-O-O-L). She was hoping it would ease her pain, but alas it didn’t. She can’t swim now, and so we ended up going round the pool with me carrying her as she did her hydro exercises (big strides, cycling etc..).

It was enough to cool her down and I think she enjoyed the “David and Karen” time.

The whole day was a fun one and enjoyed by all – despite Karen’s pain. While I remember, we had started to knock Karen’s pain patches down and she went a lot of last week on 100ug Fentanyl (morphine). The pain was already getting to her before Saturday of last week, so thankfully (!) we went back to 125ug.

Back to the holiday, we got a takeaway and ate it back at the villa tonight. Fish and Chips for half of us and Chinese for the other half. It went down very well. kp didn’t want anything :-(   But, I bought her a bag of chips and she scoffed the lot.

Karen and I are staying in a hotel to leave space for all the family. Apparently last night, the kids were overexcited and very hard to get to sleep. So, one by one, they had to retire at different times. Louisa (2) was out like a light. Ethan (8) followed 15 minutes later and was also out for the count in no time. Before Abby went to sleep, we started playing Boy’s Name, Girl’s Name, Country, Colour, Food. I’d never heard of it. But it involves picking a letter and then frantically writing down a boy’s name with that letter etc….

Well, Marie slaughtered us all. And we completely forgot about Abby’s (9) bedtime. She ended up going about an hour later, with the big threat hanging over that if she told Ethan that she was up so late, she would go to bed early tomorrow. I doubt very much she will be able to keep that secret !

Karen didn’t join in the game. Karen would nornally be the first person to join in any game. She is known for the volumes she reaches when involved in any form of tournament !!! I think she was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to play it. I know it sounds strange, but her mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be, although I think she would have been ok if she had given it a try. She still enjoyed watching the rest of us and helping Abby out.

So a lovely start to the holiday ! Since I have been back to work for nearly 2 weeks, I have forgotten all my blogging skills and have only took 1 photo so far :-(   Unfortunately, it’s not of Karen, but it is such a nice one of Freddy and Michelle, that I have posted it anyway !


Day 476 – Tuesday 22nd July 2006

We took some codeine (for breakthru’ pain) on the holiday and because it brings on constipation, kp is reluctant to take it. This morning she had to take it. She felt she had slept most of the night on her right side – and with the hip problem, she had excacerbated the pain.

It seemed to ease it off a little. We started the day by going down to the whirlpool in the hotel. It is always quiet because it’s a £5er each, but Karen really feels like she benefits from it. The warm/hot water must really relax her muscles around her hip or something.


With that over, we headed over to the villa. Glenn and Marie had took the kids down the park, trying to avoid taking them in the pool so early (12pm). The kids were keen to go in, but not many adults are keen to brave the water before the sun has had a go at warming it up and they are too young to go in on their own.

When they returned we all went in the pool, even Karen (when it got a little quieter). Ethan managed to swim a width without his arm bands on. He thought he was the bees knees. As we got out of the pool for lunch (thanks Marie !!!), Ethan got out first and I helped kp up the big steps and then all of a sudden Ethan did one of his “big” jumps into the pool. I was unalarmed and just carried on helping Karen.

Karen :- DAVID – he hasn’t got his armbands on.

I had thought it was quiet – he normally shouts “Did you see that one ?”. But, this one was unusually quiet (he was underwater).
I turned around to see him returning to the surface starting to splash like a good ‘un. He hung on very close to me when I scooped him out.

Marie has done lunch each day (she’s a star) and we all thoroughly enjoy sitting outside eating it.

Karen and I went for a snooze after lunch and didn’t get up until 6pm !!! We did the same yesterday as well !

Tonight, we went to Pizza Nostra. Here is a photo of us all at about 9pm (still light).


Abby is a good eater. She has hollow legs and she will try anything. She had Pop’s Calamari yesterday and tried fish eggs and dried tuna. She thought (as did we all) that it was Fish, Eggs and Dried Tuna, but no it was Fish eggs and Dried Tuna. It didn’t look like caviar to me ! But she tried it nonetheless. She wasn’t keen to try my onion soup, so I paid her to try it (1 euro). Ethan wanted 2 Euros to try it, but I managed to get him down to a euro as well and he really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a euro coin to give him, so he ended up with all my change. Here he is showing it off with Karen….


Ethan is sleeping with us tonight as a treat – Abby will get her go tomorrow. As the last thing before bedtime, Ethan took a photo of Karen and I……….


Day 477 – Wednesday 23rd July 2006

Corker of a day.

Ethan stayed over with us and was as good as gold. We expected an early wakeup call from him, but we had to wake him up at 9.45 am !

We had a room service breakfast – a first for Ethan, and he really enjoyed it.


Karen wanted to go in the hot jacuzzi thing again, so we took Ethan down there. Karen’s hips were feeling “ok” for the first time on the holiday but she still wanted the water treatment.

Today, everyone was coming to us to go on the beach next to the hotel. Karen managed really well on the loose sand, but was glad when we reached the camping spot on the beach. Ethan had spotted an inflatables shop and was keen to buy an inflatable jet ski. 16 Euros later and he was proudly carrying a big inflatable to the sea. Unfortunately, he saw a jellyfish as we went close to the sea and was then too scared to climb aboard it in the sea and ended up just sitting on it on the beach and letting the waves just about touch it. He wanted to buy another inflatable (his money) because it was the inflatable’s problem that he wouldn’t go in the sea. He ended up selling the inflatable jetski to Abbie (who was having a great time on it) for 4 Euros and then spent another 14 euros on a huge inflatable airplane which he did go in the sea with !!

Eventually he built up his confidence and soon Glenn and Abbie, and me and Ethan were quite far out jumping the waves. We all had a great time. Karen was happy sitting with the girls. We hadn’t got deckchairs so I had to lower her on to the towel on the sand. When I picked her up again, she was bow-legged for a while, but was “ok”.
The afternoon ended when Ethan was sheltering under me (out at sea) and was jumping the waves. I went down to pick him up higher and at the same time, he jumped up with full force so he didn’t get hit by the wave. Unfortunately, my chin and his head met at full force. He was in tears, and my chin is still sore now :-(

We returned to the swimming pool of the hotel and Abbie did 10 lengths for the 10 Euros I had promised her. Ethan (being the usual wimp he is) wouldn’t even attempt a width. Grrrr !

The evening meal was had at Patio Andaluz. They had Flamenco dancers, and two guitarists who come round and serenade you. It was really good fun. The owner also comes round and pours liquor in your mouth from a great height from this strange glass bottle. The kids loved it (they don’t use liquor for the kids).



Cracking Day overall !

Final foto – Karen is doing something. Can anyone guess what ?


Day 478 – Thursday 24th July 2006

The answer to the “what is Karen doing ?” in the photo. Ronnie had a good guess with “Charades” but it was actually a cow impression, trying to impersonate the plastic kids container (shaped like a cow) that Louisa’s ice cream came in. Back to today….

Karen was in a lot of pain today, but she didn’t let it get her down.

I think, overall, she enjoyed the day, as did we all.

Karen and I didn’t get up until about 11am (it was a late night the night before). Cracking Night’s Sleep, but Karen woke up in pain and it stayed much of the day.

Today, the plan was to spend most of our time at the villa allowing Karen to take it easier. No walking on sand today ! This really killed her yesterday, although we didn’t know it until today.

We spent most of the day around the pool. Ethan had bought an inflatable aeroplane and Glenn, Marie and I spent most of the day pushing the kids (on the aeroplane) from one side of the pool to the other. It was a good laugh until it capsized and then Ethan (8) and Louisa (2) panicked and there were a few tears, but it still made us adults laugh.

Here is Ethan by the pool with the float that keeps him alive when he is in the water. He told us he could swim 25m (before the holiday), but that must be with rubber ring and armbands on, because without them, he goes ungraciously to the bottom of the pool.


Cracking Afternoon. kp stayed awake all afternoon (more than can be said for me (!)). Here she is, in the shade……….


She wanted to take a photo of me. Here I am pointing out my 6-pack…….


This evening it was barbecue time. Karen is starting to realize that if she takes the camera off me, she gets less photos of her in the blog. So here is a photo she took of me doing the barbecue tonight. Again, my 6-pack is well and truly on show. My email address (for all the ladies) is dp at ! ;-)


Here we all at the barbecue table (9.30pm at night, so apologies for the bad lighting..)


With the barbecue over, we played Trivial Pursuits – Marie was quiz master and we had a real good laugh especially when Marie asked one of the questions…………..

Marie :- “Who is famous for inventing the equation….. E=MC Little 2 ?” (should have been E=MC squared)

Well, we all found this hilarious, because she didn’t think she had asked it wrong ! We also liked Marie’s impartiality as a judge. When giving Marie and Freddy a question, she said she was picking a question from their favourite topic area i.e. an easy question….

Marie :- “Of which natural resource are saccharin and aspirin two byproducts ?”

Well, Michelle nearly wet herself at the difficulty of the question !!

It was a good laugh ! Coal by the way !
Michelle was keen to get across that she was ahead of me and Karen in the scores, but I kept rubbing it in that she had got the “Does Noddy’s car have a spare tyre on the back ?” question wrong when there was a 50:50 chance of getting it right !

And yes it does !

Cracking day and night. It was Abby’s turn to sleep with Karen and I tonight. Boy, do we regret that ! Within 1 minute of her shutting up to go to sleep, she was snoring like a man, and kp and I were in fits of giggles. I am writing the blog out on the veranda she is that loud !! I can still hear Karen giggling !!

Here is Abby fast asleep – think of the loudest snore you have heard and add it to this still picture and you have Abby in a deep sleep !!


Day 479 – Friday 25th July 2006

The night from hell !!!

Normally a night from hell is due to one thing – pain !

This time, it was due to – ABBY !

Karen and I experienced a night with Abby for the first time since she was a toddler. I can well imagine it being the last. We spent about 3 hours last night just laughing and saying to each other “Look at her now” .

She was snoring big time and then all of a sudden she would sit bolt upright in the bed (still fast asleep). She would talk to herself and then she would flop down. One of the times she sat upright, when she flopped down, her head rested on my bum and she just carried on sleeping. After a few minutes, she got up again and then lied down but this time was within an inch of Karen who was on her side. It left Karen trapped unable to get on her back, so I had to move her. When I grabbed her to move her over, she shook, but not with fright, the kind of shock you get when you lose balance.

We had a good laugh, but also an awful night’s sleep. At about 4am, the snoring reduced in volume to that of a plane at takeoff and we could get some sleep.

4 hours later we were wide awake. Kids – God Love ‘em !

We treat Abby to the same treatment Ethan had had the other night – i.e. room service breakfast.


And then a trip to the indoor pool….


Abby and I then went to the villa leaving Karen to get some more sleep and lay still for a while because of her pain.
I have been keen throughout the holiday to get Ethan to ring his mam, and although he sometimes said “Yes”, more often he said “Nah”. Today, he took me up on the offer and went out the front to phone his mam. I was watching him from inside the villa. After about 5 minutes, he started getting really upset. It’s his first holiday away from his mam and dad. I went out to console him. He needed hugs big time and I spent the next 15 minutes carrying an 8 year old around the villa bumping him up and down like a baby. Weird, but it really worked.

Emma (Ethan’s mam) was also in tears, so I assured her I would get him to ring her back when he was feeling better. About 30 minutes later, I tried to get Ethan to smile so I could send her a photo of him “ok”. This is the best I could get !


Sorry Emma !

It was then time for the fag run. A quick nip into Torrevieja, parking illegally in a pedestrian zone, ready to play the “We are English, we didn’t notice there were 500 people on the square and no cars” routine, and then back again.

Marie had done us all a packed lunch for the beach. On arrival at the beach, Karen (who has been experiencing a crescendo of pain today), got up and joined Adele at the pool, while I took Abby and Ethan for a ride on a jetski.

They were both a bit wary. Abby offered to go first as Ethan was too scared. She absolutely detested it. I am not sure if it was because of the speed I was going (only about 8knts or the 10′s of jelly fish we saw. I had to take her back with her in fits of tears on the back :-(

Ethan didn’t want to go on. So I ended up doing it on my own. But, jetskiing looks fun, but is actually a bit dull on your own. You whizz along, jumping waves, then jumping more waves, then more etc etc….Not much fun on your own. So after 5 minutes, I was back with the kids who were looking glum, whilst making sandcastles, totally unimpressed with Uncle David’s jetskiing experience.

45 Euros !!!!! And I was only going for Ethan who never even went on the back !

Grrrr !

After spending the next few hours by the hotel pool, we went into Torre for our “Night Markets” experience. Arriving at 6pm was an hour too early, as things don’t really open until 7pm, so we went to a cafe and had tea.

Here we all are………


Afterwards, Adele and I took the kids over to the statue of the lady who looks out to sea….



The funfair followed ….. Here is Abby on the quad bikes…..

abby on trike.jpg

Abby (and Adele and I) went on all the big rides. We managed to persuade Ethan to go on 1 big ride and he really enjoyed it after a panic attack at the beginning.

Glenn & Abby and Ethan & I went on the bumper cars and had a great time with that.

Funfair over, we went round the night markets. Ethan bought loads of gear for his Mam and Dad. Glenn caught pickpocketed, but thankfully some Spanish people caught the chap in the act and alerted Glenn to the fact. The pickpocket had done really well in undoing Glen’s zip without him noticing, but thankfully had not got away with the dosh !

We returned to the villa. By this time Karen was in an awful physical state. Pain was abundant :-( The Fentanyl Patches seem to dry up really quickly in the sun, so I have a sneaking suspicion she has been without the relief they bring for 24 hours. Thankfully, she was due another one last night and things seem to be better this morning (6am when I write this).

I wanted to stay on at the villa last night as we were all having a great time, but alas, kp couldn’t hack it anymore and needed her bed, so Glenn returned us to the villa. Here’s what we left …..


Day 480 – Saturday 26th July 2006

A night on our own last night and we really appreciated it. We got up at 6am and did the blog and had a cup of tea which took an age to order as reception kept telling us to contact the restaurant and the restaurant kept telling us to ring reception.
But we got it in the end.

With the blog done and our tea drunk we had some great sleep until about 12pm.

The afternoon consisted of lots of swimming in the pool with the kids (for me) and a chatty afternoon for Karen and Marie before Karen retired for a snooze.

The pain was improved today, but still an issue. More of an issue was the stiffness she had. When she just got up from her chair, she looked like Mrs Overall carrying a tray of coffee over to some guests. When I said this to Karen, as quick as lightning she replied……..

Mrs Overall :- “Two soups !”

Only funny if you know the relevant Mrs O. Sketch.

After the snooze, we did Rancho Blanco and had a lovely meal with the kids before a nice chat back at the villa and then an early night before the trip home tomorrow.

Cracking Holiday that we all have enjoyed.

I’ll finish with a photo of Ethan that I took to send to his mam to reassure her that he was ok.


Day 481/2 – Sun/Mon – 27th/28th August 2006

Going Home Day.

The usual packing, “cleaning the villa” routine occurred on time. I took the kids down to the park to get them out of everyone’s hair as everyone set about cleaning the villa ready for my sister and her crew (arriving an hour after we left).

Ethan was keen to get home. He had really missed his mam. He is 8 and it was his first time away from home – poor lad.

Karen’s pain was on the up. The patches were really drying up under the heat again and were probably next to useless most of the day. Karen had got up from the villa table the night before and literally couldn’t walk. Her bones were set in place. She had to coax her body into the walking motions to ease up a bit. Poor kp.

Today, things were worse, but as usual she kept it mostly to herself.

We arrived at the airport bang on time. Our bag was overweight, so I had to empty loads of stuff into a rucksack I was carrying. Unwittingly, I put in loads of liquids (perfumes/moisturisers), but they still let us through security. We went straight to the Burger King as the kids were hungry.

By the time we had ordered for 10 and ate the meal, it was 25 minutes to the flight. The screen was saying “boarding”. The fag crew had to have the fag, which left it with 20 minutes to go. As fags were lit, they had announced “Final Boarding Call” TWICE !!! I ran ahead to the gate (OTHER END OF THE AIRPORT), and as I got close, we heard on the airport tannoy system…..

Airport :- Would Mr and Mrs POWELARD please proceed immediately to Gate 2 ?

Yikes. I was the first there and I had no choice but to play the “disabled” card.

dp :- Sorry we’re late, my wife is disabled and we were all the way over at Burger King ?  Are we in time ?
The “disabled” thing undoubtedly helped and he said we had “just” made it in time. Karen was the last to board the plane and we were met with the usual stares from “cocky” passengers who were “on time”.

For takeoff on the way TO Spain, Ethan had kept his parka top over his head so he couldn’t see anything. For the takeoff returning to England, he watched the whole thing :-)

Karen had to walk a LONG way at the airport in Alicante and a LONG way at Durham Tees. It definately took its toll as this morning she was at a real low ebb ! The pain was too much and she was “fed up”. A downer was imminent. But, thankfully, it was Patch Change day today and after a snooze she was feeling much better.

The excessive walking on the holiday was simply too much for her and we will definately be taking the wheelchair next time, regardless of the security measures in place !!!

Today has been filled with sleep for both of us, getting the dogs back from the kennels, and more sleep. It was well needed. We are not used to looking after kids for so long, and to be fair, the rest of the family did most of the “looking after” anyway, but it still tooks its toll and the sleep we have had today (Monday) really allowed us to feel fresher !!

Cracking Holiday ! Ethan is “over the moon” to be back with his mam. Karen’s pain is lowering with the patch and the codeine she has taken. So, HOPEFULLY, she will have a better week than the week before the holiday :-)

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