Archive for June, 2008

Day 1132 – 1140. Saturday 24th May to Sunday 1st June 2008

Ups and Downs kind of week.

We went to Spain for the week with my family (Mum, Dad, Jane (sister), Guy and Sophie and Jamie). The weather wasn’t the usual Spanish weather. We can’t recall a day previously where we had had rain, but this week, it was like being in England for the majority of the week. Having said that, we were blessed with 2 or 3 good days, so we shouldn’t complain. On the day we came home, it was POURING down in Spain, and about 16′C and we landed in Newcastle with not a cloud in the sky and it was 20′C !!

Generally, it was a great week. It was nice to see my family and spend some time with them, especially the kids, who were lots of fun.

It was a very relaxing holiday. We had been given a self-help book about Post Traumatic Stress by Jane (the clinical psychologist treating kp at the moment) which made for good reading. It was quite deep at times (and too much for Karen), BUT it was really good. I underlined all the bits to read to Karen so she could see what PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) is all about and how to treat it. So much of what kp is experiencing at the moment is mirrored in the book and we both found it really helpful to know that there were reasons for what she was experiencing.

I managed to get in a day of diving (2 dives). The water felt really cold (19′C) even with a 5mm wet suit on and the vis didn’t compare to the Red Sea, but I still managed to see a tiny Moray Eel, an octopus and a big lobster. kp enjoyed the morning reading all about Katie Price (latest autobiography).

The downside of the week was kp found it hard (at times) to integrate with my family. It’s nothing personal to my family, she finds it similarly hard to integrate with her family (at times). She describes it as “I don’t fit in anymore”. One afternoon, things got so bad that she missed the evening meal completely. The following night she tried again, but she felt very isolated and I could kick myself because I didn’t notice as I was wrapped up messing with the kids. We had LOTS of tears that night when we got back to the hotel and I feared she would be in the hotel room for the rest of the holiday. But, on the final night, she made an effort again, and managed to enjoy it, so that was a nice “Up” to end the holiday on.

The best way of describing Karen and groups is that the group naturally goes at a certain pace, but since the accident, kp’s pace isn’t at the speed of the rest of the group and she loses track of where everyone is in conversation, jokes, banter etc….And she can’t reinsert herself into it. It’s very sad. And heartbreaking to listen to her discuss how she feels she isn’t the person she was before.

At least, we ended on a bit more of a positive last day and night. I think, for future holidays, we will have to plan in for pacing ourselves so we don’t hit this wall again. I hope it didn’t sour the holiday for the Pollard clan too much.

Overall, a good holiday. kp and I took time out from the family to do the Pier Walk (a 1-mile walk out to sea, and then back again). The weather was good, and the wind and temperature perfect. It was lovely. Here’s kp half-way along the pier. She did the whole mile there, and a quarter of it back, before we had to use the wheelchair. Nice one kp.


We walked the dogs in the pouring rain this morning.  On the way back, we passed through a field with a horse in. As kp got 1/2 of the way across the field, the horse started getting hyper and started kicking at me and the dogs. At the halfway point is a bridge (across a stream), and kp was safe there. But she could see what was going on and she got frightened. I joined her to comfort her and the horse seemed settled on the other side of the stream. So, we made our way to the other side of the field. kp got within 10m of the end of the field and the horse bounded over and started putting it’s arse in our direction (getting ready to kick). I ushered kp on and distracted the horse and kp made it to the end. However, it really upset kp and frightened her. Her legs were like jelly and she was wretching all the way home. :-(

Poor kp !

Anyway, she is safely home now and has caught up on some tv which has nicely distracted her.

Day 1141 to 1147. Monday 2nd June to Sunday 8th June 2008

Quieter week this week.

Karen’s pain is generally under control as long as kp doesn’t overdo it, which she did this week and had to pay the price for.

Sleep remains an issue but we are making more headway thanks to Jane from the Lansdowne Clinic. It’s early days.

Monday saw Doreen and kp go to Matalan for some retail therapy.

Tuesday – Rachel (OT) and Steve (physio) came to the house as they wanted to do a combined session to be sure they were working on complimentary rehab.

Wednesday saw kp and I attend the Lansdowne Clinic to meet with Jane. Sleep is Karen’s biggest issue at the moment (affecting her daily life) so Jane started working on that. Lots of good tips and a schedule that kp has to stick to.

  • No drinking tea before bedtime.
  • Recapping the day and what is planned for the following day an hour before bedtime, the idea being so that there is nothing on kp’s mind.
  • Going to bed at a reasonable hour (11pm) and she has to allow 30 minutes to fall asleep, and if she doesn’t, she has to get up for 20 minutes (and read something borning) and then try again.
  • Etc etc…

Lots of good tips.

She also has to keep a sleep diary for a couple of weeks.

That night, she slept from 11pm to 1.30am, 1.50am to 5.10am and 7.30-9am. So it’s broken sleep (no change there), but much better than previous sleeps.

Thursday, kp told Doreen not to come and she spent some good time with Adele (kp’s niece) – they walked the dogs together.

Thursday night – 11pm – 1.30am (woke up dripping with sweat), 2.10am to 3.30am (another sweat), 3.50am to 6.50am and 7.10 – 8.45am.

Friday – kp and Doreen went to the gym and they did arm and hand stretching. kp also went on the rowing machine and the gym bike, but that proved to be a costly set of exercises. kp really enjoys the physio sessions as well, so it’s a shame. The price she paid was lots of pain in her right leg and right hip. She had to take a couple of morphine tablets on the night and she missed most of the night’s tv and had an awful night’s sleep.

Saturday, she was still done in, so I walked the dogs on my own. In the afternoon, we went to see kp’s family in Middlesbrough, and took Adele, Abby and Louisa to the fair which was lots of fun. It has been a while since we have seen the kids and they haven’t half shot up. Abbie (11) is taller than Karen, although to be fair, there are some garden gnomes bigger than kp.

Good Saturday’s night tv watching the film Shooter (thanks Adele).

Sunday (today) we have had a cracking day. Lovely dog walk in the glorious sun, followed by reading outside (for me), and kp had a LONG conversation with Ronnie on the phone and then we did some gardening at the front. Really nice !

Day 1148 to 1154. Monday 9th June to Sunday 15th 2008

Well, a real contrasting week this week. Some real good mood changes for the better, but some real lows too.

Monday and no sooner had Doreen arrived that the girls took the dogs for a walk to make the most of the good weather. Rachel (OT) came at 1.30pm and Rachel and kp discussed starting to go out to places to try and build kp’s confidence up.

Tuesday was an interesting day. Doreen had supervision which is basically a session with her boss to discuss how things are going. In a nutshell, various things were discussed, the upshot of which was that Doreen resigned her post with immediate effect. When Karen heard the news from Syd, she was pleased and it had a significant positive impact on kp’s mood for the rest of the week. The downside is that losing the support worker means it’s much harder for kp to get out and about and walking the dogs is off the agenda. It’s a real shame it didn’t work out, because Doreen had done some great work with Karen around the house and the garden.

Doreen and kp were due to meet up with Steve at the local fitness centre, but instead, Steve came to pick Karen up to take her to the centre. This week they had a Balance Assessment to do. Things like a timed run of 20m, a safe fast walk on normal feet and tiptoes (no heels), over an obstacle (steve’s shoe) etc etc…..It went really well by all accounts and Steve was amazed at Karen’s tiptoeing. What’s a little bit weird is that for the very first time on the previous weekend, we had walked the dogs and kp had thought to herself “I wonder if I can run”. Anyway, she gave it a go and my answer would be “not really”.

When she did it with me, she was laughing at herself and I believe she was in hysterics when she was showing steve her “running”. Really good that she can laugh at herself. I think she ran 20m in 7 and a bit seconds, but she couldn’t be 100% sure this was the time recorded.

Matt (the speech therapist) came later in the afternoon and they worked on more role plays for telephone conversations. It was his last session and kp was sad to see him go, because he had really boosted Karen’s confidence on phonecalls and given her some practical tips to make things better when dealing with people on the phone.

Wednesday, kp and I went to see Jane at the Lansdowne Clinic. kp’s homework was to maintain a Sleep Diary. This had shown the sporadic nature of kp’s sleep all week. One of the things it highlighted was how many times kp woke up with nightmares and/or cold sweats. So, to help with this Jane gave kp some practical advice on how to deal with nightmares. She also suggested moving one of the tablets that could cause sweating, to earlier in the day as a trial, which we have just started doing as I type this. I will try ad report back on this in next week’s blog.

Thursday and Syd came. Unfortunately, kp had incorrectly set her alarm for 9pm (instead of 9am), so Syd was waiting in the car for a while. Marie, the dog walker (who has hearing difficulties) had arrived to take the dogs for a walk and came to wake Karen up. She was shouting “Karen, Karen, Karen” which woke Karen up. Karen came out of the bedroom, to see Marie, shouting Karen into the cupboard where we keep the towels. Marie had thought this was a bedroom.

kp was in stitches when she told me this on the night-time. LOL.

Anyway, kp called Syd in and they discussed the advert for the new Support Worker. kp was keen to stay motivated generally and made sure she completed all her exercises and tasks from all the professionals. Well done kp !

Friday – Steve (physio) picked Karen up and took her to the fitness centre to carry on with the next level of assessments. Today, she had to try hopping and skipping. Well, it’s fair to say she couldn’t do either. Steve demonstrated skipping to Karen, much to kp’s amusement. I had a go on the night-time, and there’s something not right about a grown man skipping. I can see where she found the humour.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of an incident on the way home. Steve had to brake harshly and kp fell to pieces. She was in tears and very shook up by it. Steve did his best to console her and on the way back kp did her best to talk about various things, but she described herself as “talking rubbish”. Steve was clearly concerned and recommended they carry on doing some more physio to take her mind off it, but kp’s mind wasn’t on it. Fortunately, Adele and Louisa had come over and that helped distract kp.

Once they had all left, kp’s mind came back to the incident and she fell apart again. But, the good news is that even just a couple of days seems to have improved kp’s mindset on this :-)

Saturday and kp and I went to Newcastle Airport for my helicopter lesson (kp’s xmas present to me). I absolutely loved it !!! It was a “never forget” kind of experience. The instructor (Scott) let me do some flying and initially I was a bit too rough with it, but after about 10 minutes I felt comfortable with it and flew us home – Thankfully, he landed it !

kp took this amazing picture !!


Here’s another one……


Last night, because we had had a late breakfast after the trip, we skipped Pizza. We watched a film and Big Brother.

Another bad night’s sleep for kp (par for the course)

Today, we walked the dogs, but there was something not right with kp’s body and we managed only about 1/2 a mile and the last 1/2 of that she really struggled.

She had a migraine in the afternoon, so went to sleep for a bit. Film and Pizza tonight.

Tomorrow we have the MDT. This is the meeting where all the specialists come to the house, plus the solicitors from both sides. Should be an interesting day. It should be really positive, because kp has done so well !

Day 1155 – 1161. Monday 16th June to Sunday 22nd June 2008

Very bad week for both kp and I, but it ended heading in the right direction.

It all started on the Sunday night. We were watching TV and something sparked a conversation that went further and further downhill, until I was absolutely distraught (I can’t go into any more detail than that). I was sobbing like a baby and to make matters worse, it was dark and I didn’t realise that the distress had caused a huge nose bleed. You know what it’s like when you cry and your nose gets all blocked up, well I had that with this flooding nosebleed, but I didn’t realise it.

When we finally switched the light on, you’d think I had been beaten up. There was blood everywhere. All over my PJ top, all over my face and neck. I just couldn’t stop crying. Once I realised I was having a nose bleed, I went into the bathroom and held my head over the sink and it was just gushing. What’s worse (for Karen) was that all my upset was still there so I was bawling into the sink. Poor kp – she was upset that I was so upset.

What made matters worse was that I couldn’t see a way out of the conversation, and my thoughts inevitably turned to suicide. I’ll whap a few morphine patches on, drink a bottle of brandy, go to the car, put some hose into the window etc etc…. I had planned it all out in the short time I had a moment to think between sobs !

Thankfully, by the end of the night, we had reached a sort of impasse, but neither of us were comfortable with how it had been left and there was some disturbed sleep that night.

Unfortunately, the following day (monday) was the MDT (multi-disciplinary team) meeting. This is the meeting where all the specialists and the lawyers from both sides come to the house to discuss kp’s progress. But, I don’t think anyone could tell that we had been to hell and back the night before.

The MDT went vey well. No tears from kp this time. It was very positive and the Norwich Union people were good and supportive of some further actions that will help kp.

The bath buddy arrived. This is like a seat of air that goes in the bath and kp sits on and then deflates to get her in the bath, and then inflates to get out. kp has a bath every night as she feels it helps her aches and pains, but normally, I stand in first and then lower her in. When she wants to get out, I get in and lift her up. But it means she is reliant on my presence to have a bath. This will give her some independance back. We spent most of the week practising this instead of me lowering her. But haven’t cracked it yet. I let kp do everything herself. But little things confuse her ie. one day the power cord to the bath buddy was on top of the place where you have to plug the air hose in and she couldn’t work out how to undo it.

Anyway, we got past that, but haven’t successfully used it really despite about 4 attempts. She keeps sliding off after she has been lowered down, which means when she inflates it, she falls off into the bath – NOT GOOD !.

I think the position of it is wrong – we are going to try a different position next time. I think and hope we’ll crack it.

Tuesday saw Steve come for Physio. kp wanted to go through the routines she has to practice which they did and then they did some more Wii-Fit stuff, which she really enjoys. What a cracking thing for balance improvement !

Wednesday and we both went to visit Jane at the Lansdowne Clinic. The sleep improvement strategies aren’t really paying off yet, but she did say it could take months, so kp will stick at that. kp now wants to focus on her low self-esteem. So the next sessions will relate to that. Also, top of the list, was ME ! It had been suggested before that I needed counselling, but I couldn’t really get my head around it. To me, if I can’t help myself, how can someone else help me – that’s my thought process. But after Sunday’s upset, I was raring to go for anything that will improve things (for me). I have accepted that I need help too. Jane put it really well……paraphrased…..

Jane (looking at both of us) :- I expect before the accident, you (plural) used to be support for each other. When you were down Karen, David would support you and when he was down, you would support him. But, since the accident, it’s probably been David supporting you most of the time.
Karen :- Definitely

And that rang a real chord with me. I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, but if asked to name one pressure on me, I couldn’t. I suppose I feel dead inside, I am existing, but not really living. I have no idea how anyone can help me, but I know I have to give it a go, for Karen, but most of all for me.

So, that night, I emailed Syd (Case Manager) and by noon the following day, I had 10 sessions booked with a Psychologist from the same clinic. So, when kp goes to her sessions, I will go to mine, which works out great. I am actually looking forward to it, even though I can’t see how it will help (ie if I can’t help myself).

After the wednesday session with Jane (with no Doreen to take her home), I took her to Whickham Villa. It’s an absolutely marvellous place for people with brain injuries. It has a flotation tank, a hydro pool, a jacuzzi and offers lots of beauty/massage treatment. It’s a real gem that you wouldn’t know about unless someone told you about it.

The idea was that kp would do a flotation for an hour or so, while I went back to work (very close). It worked out really well. I helped kp get in the flotation tank and left her floating for about 90 minutes at gas mark 4. When I returned at around 5pm, she was nicely relaxed and took some waking up. We then both went into the hydro pool and jacuzzi. It was a really good afternoon. We tried to get kp swimming again and had a real good laugh ! She was very frightened of swimming, but eventually she had enough confidence so that she would try with me supporting her from her tummy. And she gave it a good go. But what was evident (when she tried to swim) was how much stronger the right arm is (than her left). Basically, she just went around in circles, which we found really funny.

Thursday, the car got serviced. Angela (fellow car crash victim) came to pick kp up and from all accounts, they had a fantastic afternoon. kp came back glowing. It was good to see she had had such a good afternoon. :-)

Friday and it was physio time. Steve came to the house and they did some more Wii stuff. There’s this one thing on the Wii where you stand on the Wii-Fit board and have to balance as your chap (on the screen) walks a tight-rope. Well, it records how far you get ! kp thrashed my record !!! Well done love.

Now, I don’t mind kp thrashing me, but what perturbed me more was that Steve had beat my ski-jump record ! Syd, please can we get another physio for Karen !

Yesterday (Saturday), we walked the dogs in the morning and just got back before the heavens opened. A lovely relaxing day, pretty much mirrored today.

So, bad week overall, but ended very positive.

Day 1162 to 1168. Monday 23rd to Sunday 30th June 2008

Better week this week.

Monday and Karen had her session with the OT (Rachel). They went to town to try and get kp out and about. kp enjoyed it and got some lovely biscuits from M&S.

Tuesday and Steve (Physio) and Karen did some work at home. They did some work on kp’s balance with the Gym Ball and then on the Wii Fit. The Wii Fit is awesome for Karen as it really encourages her to better herself.

In the afternoon, we had our counselling sessions. It was timed so I could sit in on Karen’s as well. I was up first with my chap. It was good to just talk about how the accident has affected me and how I am coping with our new life. It didn’t feel like we solved anything, but I don’t think that was to be expected after just one session.

Karen enjoyed hers as well and I feel sure she is getting somewhere which is good ! After that, I took her to Whickham Villa for 90 minutes in the flotation tank. Perfect for me as well, so I could go back to work for an hour and then return to pick her up.

Wednesday and kp had booked a taxi to drop her off in the village to get her hair and nails done.

Thursday, there was nothing on, but kp did her best to stick to the schedule we have draughted up, here is an example of how busy kp is !!!

The reason we drew up this specific timetable is because kp gets confused with when she has some time off to do normal things (like see friends, watch tv etc…) and when she had it as one big list with things like “Do this 3 times a week, do this twice a week two times daily), she couldn’t work it all out, so this has helped her a lot and has took the pressure off.

She also made Lasagne for tea and it was delicious. That works out quite well. kp can make certain dishes, but the problem she has is bringing it all together to be served. ie timing the cooking of the Lasagne, the potatoes and the veg all to be ready at the same time. It’s too much for her, but that’s why we make a great team.

Friday and another physio session, this time Karen took a taxi to meet Steve at the local gym. She had a great day, doing some bike work and some time on the cross-trainer.  After that, they did some more Gym Ball and Wii-Fit at home. I think Steve enjoys the Wii-Fit too as he beat my high score on the Ski Jump ! :-(

His new record didn’t last for long though !!! Read it and weep Steve !

Friday and I went straight from work to pick Ethan up. He was coming to stay the friday night. He was great and VERY well behanved (MOST OF THE TIME!). He never stopped talking and I think, at times, it was a bit too much for Karen. He kept talking when she was asking him a question and she was a lot more irritable than she would have previously been. Even Ethan noticed it.

We had a great Saturday though. Ethan and I went to buy him a football and then we all walked the dogs.

Here is a photo kp took…..

Saturday night, we watched “Full Metal Jacket” but it wasn’t as good as the Sky Star System made out. It had 5 stars (the most a film can have). We would have given it 2.

Late night and early rise this morning (for me), but kp was up most of the night AGAIN (sleep still remains the main issue and all the things she is supposed to try) aren’t reaping any benefits yet :-(

She still stayed up when I got up (at 7.15am) and has managed to get a second wind which should last the day out.

We have done some gardening this morning and done a cracking job too.

On another note, I was called into a meeting with my bosses about the amount of time I have been taking off for all Karen’s appointments etc… They have been superb and very understanding but I think they are looking for things to become more “normal” now. I explained that it was a particularly bad time at the moment with no Support Worker and with me having weekly counselling as well as Karen etc, and that an end was in sight (when we have a new Support Worker), so hopefully we can come to some sort of agreement.

There is more to discuss this coming week I expect.

So, in summary, generally kp is heading in the right direction, but sleep is pulling her down. She is surviving on between 2 and 6 hours sleep a night (but not in one straight stretch unfortunately).

We’re keeping positive.

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