Archive for November, 2006

Day 545 to 551 – Monday 30th October to Sunday 5th November 2006

Good week ! :-)

Last hydro sessions on Monday and Thursday. I think kp is generally relieved at the fact they are ending. They have been much more demanding since the previous physio left.

She has been referred on to the neuro physio, but we haven’t heard from her yet.

kp has been feeling really positive recently – which is great !

I have been trying to ge the work-home balance more in check and not doing so bad. Unfortunately, friday night saw one of our major customers have a mission-critical problem requiring me to work until 7.30pm on friday night :-( and then carrying on working on Saturday from 8.30am to 11am. Karen was “ok” about this, which was good. Unfortunately the odd call kept coming through on Saturday, but kp seemed to be ok.

We had a great Saturday, we went for a LONG walk (about 3/4 mile). kp did great – mounting a style along the way. Obviously, she needed my help, but she was keen to walk up the hill once past the style. I know kp’s limits better than her, so cut it short a 1/4 of the way up the hill.

Generally a great weekend. Strange last night last night. I was deep in a dream, and in my dream I asked Karen something (can’t remember what), let’s say “Where do you want to go shopping tomorrow ?”. Immediately after I had asked the question in my dream, Karen replied (strong voice, sleep talking) “We’ll go to Tescos if Sainsbury’s is shut.”

MAJOR TWILIGHT ZONE feeling. It was so weird. It was as if our minds were connected. Generally a good week. kp is very positive at the moment, which helps me feel good about life.

Hopefully another good week this week

Day 551 – Addendum

Forgot to say.

The guy who hit Karen’s car was up in court last month appealing against his sentence. I am pleased to report that his appeal was quashed !!! He has to serve his original sentence.


Day 552 – 558 — Mon 6th to Sun 12th November 2006

Another good week.

A week off from any form of rehab this week for kp. Hydro had finished the previous week, and physio doesn’t start until next week. Adele and Marie have both been up this week to help kp get the house ship-shape. Nothing seems to be where it was a week ago. I have been going to get a glass and ending up with a cup, a sharp knife has become a loaf of bread ?! I am sure there is some logic somewhere in kp’s mind (she chose the new locations), but I think she has even foxed herself a bit, as neither of us could find the dustpan and brush.

Another thing kp achieved with the help of Adele was a complete tidy/reoorg of the utility room. I am a great believer in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. And the utility room was fine before (imho). Anyway, we have a nice tidy utility room now, but unfortunately, in the tidying efforts the freezer switch was flicked off on Friday. This wasn’t discovered until Sunday when I opened the door and floods of water came out. Adele felt dead guilty when kp told her. We didn’t lose that much food and it needed a defrost/clean anyway !

Saturday saw kp and I go over to Middlesbrough to see Chris’ new house and to give Ethan his birthday present. All the family were there and it was a nice afternoon. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos. Louisa sat on my knee for ages stealing my sandwiches, which was nice. After 5 minutes on my lap, Adele dropped in the fact that she might have “nits”. Of course, after that, I was constantly scratching my head, when there was probably nothing to worry about.

So, overall another cracking week. kp’s pain seems generally in check. She has bad moments towards the end of the patch cycles, but doesn’t moan about them. Psychologically, she is doing great at the moment, and we are having some great evenings.

kp is starting to get frustrated at our solicitor. Her case seems to not be progressing at the speed of Angela’s so we dropped him a suitably word email on Sunday. I can’t think of anything else.

Day 559 – 566 – Monday 13th to Sunday 19th November 2006

Action packed week.

kp in good form generally.

Monday saw kp go herself (by taxi) to physio. It was her last physio and was in the form of a review meeting. It finished with a referral back to the neurophysio at Chester-le-Street. She had been referred there a few weeks ago and not heard anything, and still hasn’t heard anything ?! Fingers crossed they get in touch as kp wants to progress her physio. If needs be, we have a pool of physio to call upon that the insurance company have paid for, but it would be better to go back to the same physio that saw kp last time.

Tuesday, I met kp (from work) at the RVI (Hospital in Newcastle). This was for the fitting of the special contact lens. With kp not being able to use both hands, the “optician lady” fitted the lens. This was really funny to watch. kp is normally good with things around her eye. I am hopeless and would need a general anaesthetic to get a contact lens fitted. So, with kp being “ok”, we thought it would be a walk in the park. Wrong ! As the optician held kp’s right eye open and the contact lens got nearer and nearer, her eye would frantically start blinking. It took about 6 attempts before it had to be aborted. It was funny at the time. A new plan was needed. The lady optician had the idea for kp to hold her left eye open, while the optician held her right eye wide open and plonked it in. It worked after a couple of attempts. She had 2 lenses to try on, the first was the smaller pupil version. Basically it is a normal contact lens (that can be left in for a month without taking it out) but with a black pupil painted on. The idea being that it blocks all the vision in the right eye, leaving kp with good vision, instead of vision that is blurred because of the crap right eye.

Here is the lens on a piece of tissue….

As always, click on the photo to instantly enlarge…


Here is the first lens in situ …..

As always, click on the photo to instantly enlarge…

The optician asked Karen how it felt, and she said it feels ok, but like she had a lump on her eye. This was normal apparently. She spent about 10 minutes with this in just to get used to the feeling. Unfortunately, although this looks really natural, it let some vision in, and was still a little blurry, so it was time to get it out and try the second, larger pupil version. After a few more failed attempts getting the b+stard thing in, here she is with the larger version…….

As always, click on the photo to instantly enlarge…

This was great, vision-wise, but it was irritating her eye. We (optician included) were unsure if this was just kp getting used to it, or some adverse reaction. It was decided to give it a try, and if it got worse and she needed it taking out, she would need to come back in the following day and they would whip it out.

We headed home, with kp’s eye constantly weeping, but thinking she would get used to it. Half-way home in the car, I got a gut feeling that it wasn’t right and suggested to kp that we go back to the hospital for them to take it out. She wasn’t having any of it. She really wanted this to work and wanted to persevere. She spent the whole journey home with her eye closed as that was the most comfortable.

When we got home, it was still irritating her eye, and it was starting to look a little bloodshot, and her eyelids were becoming redder and redder. Sue Brady (one of kp’s old work chums) came over for tea (bringing bread and salad) and we had a good natter and a lovely meal, kp’s eye getting redder and redder and more sore as the night went on.

After tea, kp looked like this…..

As always, click on the photo to instantly enlarge…

Enough is enough ! It had to come out. Well, what a fart on !!!! With kp only able to use one hand, she couldn’t hold her eye open and remove the contact lens at the same time. Sue kindly washed up, while kp and I attempting to remove the blasted thing. kp’s got more and more frustrated with the attempts to remove it. I stood the mandatory 3 feet distance necessary at times like this.

However she tried she couldn’t get it out and invariably after her efforts the contact lens would be in such a position that it looked like she had 2 pupils. I stepped into the danger zone and together we cracked it. I held kp’s eye wide open as she rummaged around for it, and finally plucked it out.

The following morning, kp’s eye wouldn’t open. The gunk oozing out had stuck her eyelids together, but STILL she wanted to give it another try. She is desperate for it to work. We booked another appointment for the RVI for Thursday.

Wednesday was a quiet day, more than made up for by Thursday. I met up with kp again at the RVI (Royal Victory Infirmary) on Thursday and kp got her eye examined. She had a large scratch on her eye caused, the optician thought, by some spec of dust or a bit of grit getting underneath the contact lens and irritating her eye. This was good news as it meant that the problems she had had weren’t down to an allergy to contact lenses. The eye would take a week to heal, and the new contact lenses would take a couple of weeks to come so that worked out well.

From here, kp and I went to see the Occupational Health Doctor for the Blood Service. Coincidentally, the doctor works for the same company (Norwich Union) that is contracted to do the Blood Service’s Occupational Health. He was a lovely bloke with a German accent, and had been doing this for 14 years, so he knew his stuff. We sat with the Occupational Health nurse for 30-45 mins while we waited for the Doctor to be free. kp was her usual self asking millions of questions of the chap. One of the questions she asked left the poor chap with no answer to give bt the truth……

kp:- “So, will he give me some idea when I will be able to return to work ?”

OH chap :- “To be totally honest about the situation, I think it is probable that you won’t be going back to work with the Blood Service “

He continued talking for a while, further explaining the situation, and I could tell kp was getting upset, her eyes welling up more and more. :-( I moved seats so I could comfort her. The OH chap was great and explained that this wasn’t the end of things, but the start of a new life. I think, deep down, kp thought there was a chance she wouldn’t be going back to work, but it’s the hearing of it from someone official that always hits her hard. In the middle of the upset, the Doctor was ready to see her and we went through with him.

We probably spent about an hour with him, and it took the form of lots of questioning, whilst the Doctor wrote a report. In the end, he said that his report would be saying something along the lines of…..

Karen would not be able to go back to ANY form of work for the foreseeable future.

He said they used to say “permanently”, but they now say “for the foreseeable future” to cover themselves.

This hit kp hard and we had more tears !! So sad ! Thankfully this Doctor had worked in this role for a long time, and shared some experiences with us. He explained that in some of his past cases similar to Karen’s, he had been asked to go back 6 months after such a meeting to see how the patient was progressing. In nearly all of the cases, the patients felt great. They had closure on one part of their life, and the doors to other things had opened up. :-) This quelled the tears a little.
It looks like she will get ill-health retirement, but financially, we have no idea what this means. The OH chap reassured us that the fact she only has 4 years service wouldn’t mean any less money.

A quiet Thursday night followed with an early night.

Friday was another quiet day for kp.

Saturday, we had planned to go and see the new James Bond movie “Casino Royale”. It was a great movie, not the best Bond, but good nonetheless. I’d like to share Karen’s thoughts on the movie, but she was asleep for half of it !!! One funny moment I should share, there was a big action sequence in the middle of the film with the usual James Bond music playing and then all of a sudden a big car crash and absolutely silence in the cinema, that is until an almighty SNORT! came out of Karen. She had woken herself up with her snoring.

kp:- “Was that me ?”

LOL ! Thankfully, I could hide behind the big popcorn box we had bought.

That’s pretty much it for the week. We have had a good week overall.

Day 567 – 574 – Monday to Sunday 26th November 2006

Good week this week overall despite big pain issues (see later)

I was at work Monday / Tuesday but Karen and I spent the rest of the week down South. Marie came up on Tuesday night as she was kindly looking after the dogs during our absence.

We were up at the 8am (crack of dawn for Karen) and took the plane from Newcastle to Heathrow. It was the first plane trip we had decided not to take our wheelchair but instead we were going to use the airport wheelchairs. All went swimmingly, picking up a wheelchair in Newcastle to take us from checkout to the plane. When we got to Heathrow, we waited for 20 minutes for our bag to come out of the single carousel that was at the end of the corridor, until we realised that we were waiting at the wrong carousel :-( Our poor bag had been going around and around all on its own ! PLUS a porter had been waiting with a wheelchair for 40 minutes for kp ! You live and learn.

kp was keen to partake of some “fresh” air, and got a bit agitated when we passed a “smoking” room, and I said we couldn’t stop, because the porter pushing the chair would have to wait. Her mood continued downwards when she realised that she wouldn’t be able to have a smoke until the Heathrow Express got us to Paddington station. Tempers frayed a little and there were quite a few tuts and dirty looks coming in my direction. At Paddington station, the start of the long walks began ! Half of a mile from the train carriage to the taxis (no wheelchair) – kp was flagging. Taxi to the hotel. The Thistle Marble Arch is supposed to be a 4 star hotel, but the customer service was more like a poor 2 star. After being ignored at reception for 5 minutes we checked in. We got the key and headed to the room (Room 834). Room 834 was the furthest room possible from the lift. And the corridors were HUGE !!!! They went on and on and on and then we turned a corner and they went on for twice as far. Poor kp.

Here she is halfway down one of the corridors.

I am not exaggerating when I say it was probably a quarter of a mile’s walk to the room from the lift. That was no good for Karen, so I went down to change rooms and we got one right next to the lift – yay ! You’d think they would have noticed Karen’s stick and had a bit of thought in room allocation, but I doubt they even saw her slow walking speed approaching reception.

kp was out for the count as soon as we entered the room. Knackered.

We slept until 5pm and headed off to the first show “Mamma Mia”. It was raining when we left the hotel, and there wasn’t a taxi in sight. kp didn’t want to do the tubes, because of the steps involved. But we didn’t have much choice as there were simply no taxis around. I reassured her that there wouldn’t be many steps, as they are all escalators. DOH ! It turned into a right fart on, with steps after steps after steps. It didn’t help when we changed tubes to get on to the Bakerloo line, and had to go up more steps. Unfortunately, in me attending to karen, I hadn’t spotted that the steps we had gone up were “Steps to Street Level Only”. So, we had to go BACK DOWN them. It was now rush hour, and the trains were heaving. We missed one, thinking the next one would be better, but it was worse, so we had to get on it. I had to push kp on, and I only just got in. kp doesn’t stand well at the best of times, and on a moving train heaving with passengers and rocking from side to side, it was an awful experience for her. She couldn’t keep herself upright, so I had to hold the overhead hand rail, putting my other arm around her and wrapping my leg around her other side so I kind of had her in a grip. It knacked me, so I know kp must have been a lot worse. We made it in the end and had a gorgeous meal at TJI Fridays right next to the theatre.

“Mamma Mia” was excellent and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Good story and of course the excellent Abba music !

Got up just in time for breakfast. Went back for a snooze that took us nicely to Ronnie’s visit. She had took the afternoon off work. It was nice to see her. We had some drinks/chat in the bar. Here are Ronnie and kp….

We then went out to Covent Garden (taxis all the way from hereon in) for some dinner and some entertainment. It was lovely. Great meal. Nice to see you Ronnie ! Thursday night was the big one and the one we had been waiting for – Connie Fisher as Maria Rainer in “The Sound of Music”. The tickets were £70 each and worth EVERY penny. It was a truly awesome spectacle. Connie was note perfect and there wasn’t a poor performance in sight. Captain Von Trapp was superb, as was the Mother Abbess (not Leslie Garrett, as she doesn’t work Thursdays). The kids were wonderful. This show can only be described in superlatives and the end was truly magnificent. Standing Ovation all round. Marvellous ! Karen and I detest London as a place to visit, but this show made it all worthwhile. Would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

I tried to persuade Karen to ride in one of the bicycle taxis that hovers around the theatres at “kick out” time, but she wasn’t having it. After 10-15 minutes and a bit of a walk, we managed to get a taxi.

Breakfast and Checkout. Here is Karen looking forward to leaving the hotel in a few moments time….
Receptionist :- Did you enjoy your stay ?
dp :- No, not really

Not a word wondering why we hadn’t enjoyed the stay !

dp:- Please can I see an itemised bill ?
Receptionist :- I need to take payment first before I can print out the itemised billing ?

That about sums up our Thistle Marble Arch experience.

We took the train from Waterloo to Southampton where Tracy picked us up. We were dead excited to see Megan (Tracy/Mark’s daughter). kp was too tired to walk to her school to pick her up, so I went with Tracey and the other mothers to pick up their bairns. I felt a bit awkward swinging Megan’s pink Barbie brolly, but by carrying by the sharp end, I felt I retained a modicum of masculinity. Perhaps not…

It was great to see Megan in class, and she was dead pleased to see me when I caught her eye in class. It was story time, and I think it was frowned upon for them to be distracted when they should be listening to the story, so Tracey and I stood out of the line of sight.

Hugs all round when she came out.

Roast Pork for tea and it was gorgeous.

Lazy morning, followed by the swimming baths in the afternoon. The ladies watched on as Mark, Megan and I went for a swim in the kids paddling pool. It was lovely and warm. Megan had a whale of a time. I was like a prune after 30 minutes and made my excuses to join the ladies in the spectator area.

For tea, it was Roast Pork (it was a big pig !) and X Factor. Megan was really tired by this stage, and I was chuffed to bits that she came to lie in my arms and fall asleep :-) I love that. Dad took her upto bed and we all watched Celebrity and then chatted for a few hours. It was a lovely time. Mark has a fart machine (not his mother-in-law, Margaret). It runs on batteries and was situated besides Karen. It works by remote control and whenever Karen would get up from her chair or get down into the chair, he would let it rip. It does a very realistic farting noise (different one each time you push it). It was absolutely hilarious. It sounds corny, but with the timing just perfect accompanying Karen’s slow descent/ascent from the chair, it was funny as hell. I think the only person who tired of the joke was Karen, but she was laughing at the fact we all found it so funny. Here is kp going out for some “fresh air” with 2 coats on as she was so cold !
Mad rush Sunday morning. Megan had promised to come and wake us up. By 9am (flight took off at 11.05am), she hadn’t been up. I rang down to get the “terror sent up”. Within minutes we were both wide awake. Megan assisted on getting Karen ready. She helped her onto the loo, into the shower and helped dry her down.

kp:- Can you dry my bottom please ?
Megan :- Yes. Oh, it’s a big bottom isn’t it ?!

We were in stitches !!! From the mouthes of babes……..

That’s our long weekend. We loved every minute (apart from the non-show bits of London). Thanks to Ronnie for meeting up with us and to Tracy and Mark and Marge and Megan for putting us up for the weekend. Tracy and Mark slept on their sofa so we could sleep in their bed in the penthouse. :-)

Back to work and reality tomorrow. Bring it on !

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