Archive for August, 2008

Day 1190-1203. Monday 21st July to Sunday 3rd August 2008

Apologies for a lack of a blog entry. It’s been a busy 2 weeks with one thing and another. The main reason for no blog entry was that we have been away to Spain for 9 days.

So, back to the week before we went to Spain.

Monday – We had recently seen a consultant anaesthetist about kp’s medication. He felt the medication kp was on was correct, but we should have a go at reducing the level of medication. He’s the chap who said that the purpose of pain medication (in case like Karen’s) isn’t to reduce pain, but to “maintain function”. In other words, there is a balancing act between keeping some pain, but getting back some benefits from reduced side effects.

The key to the reduction is very slow and steady. So, we took the morphine patches down from 600 to 575 on monday. At first, we thought there was no noticeable change, but towards the end of the week, we were less sure, but kp has persevered.

On the monday afternoon, Rachel (OT) came and did an assessment of kp to see how well she is doing. She asked kp to cook her beans on toast and a fruit salad, which kp did, we thought, without incident. A later report revealed that she hadn’t done quite as well as she thought she had, but still pretty ok !

Tuesday and we went to see Mr Scott at Durham Hospital (Dryburn). This was the annual hip and pelvis check-up. All looked ok from their perspective. Mr Scott remarked that one of the screws linking kp’s pelvis to the bar that holds it in place had broke (and he pointed it out on the x-ray), but that it was nothing to worry about, because there are about 10 of them.

Same time next year for another review.

Wednesday and Prof Barnes (a consultant neurologist) attended kp at the house. This was with a view to a follow-up medico-legal examination that he had done about a year ago. Nice chap, making kp feel very at ease.

On the night-time, Jane (Burns) came over and there was lots of laughing, something that follows Jane wherever she goes.

The following day, Jane was going to take Karen to Boundary Mills shopping centre, but unfortunately, kp had had a bad night’s sleep and didn’t wake up until 2pm ! Jane had waited until about 11am but had decided to let sleeping dogs lie ;-)

Knowing I was finishing my job with my current company, we had took the opportunity to book a last minute holiday in Spain. 9 days. We flew out early Saturday morning and arrived to a squeltering hot Spain.

The holiday was sooooooooooo relaxed. We were staying at mum and dad’s villa in Torrevieja. I can’t even recall what day we did what, but here’s pretty much what we got up to.

Play “Risk” until 3am

Repeat all holiday

Actually, that’s not fair.

We got quite a lot done as well. We went on numerous days out. One day we explored the mountains North-West of Murcia. We got out of the car at a spot in the middle of nowhere with beautiful views and could hear nothing but crickets and they were deafening.

Another day (and probably our best day), we explored mountains north of Benidorm and we thought the first trip out was great – we were overawed by the beauty of places like Relleu. Incredible – beautiful views, lovely peace and quite. Awesome !

In all, it was one of the best holidays we had been on for relaxtion, dp+kp time etc etc…..

Unfortunately, it all went a bit sour at the end with lots of tears and hysteria. To say kp doesn’t like cockroaches is a little on the mild side. She really detests the little bastards. On the penultimate night, there was a power cut to the whole street. We hadn’t seen a single cockroach all holiday in the villa, but the power cut got kp so on edge, we had to book into a hotel for the night (144 euros). The following night, we were wide awake playing risk at 1am in the morning and kp went in to get a drink and saw a little baby cockroach on the wall INSIDE the villa, well, she freaked.

Another night in the hotel ensued. I maintained an eery calm despite being none too pleased at the upheaval. Thankfully, I hadn’t drunk too much to drive.

Noone likes cockroaches (well, noone I know), but kp REALLY can’t stand them.

But, despite these last couple of days, we had a really good time !

Two complaints

1. Cockroaches (obviously)
2. The Heat (it was just too hot). 35′C+ on a couple of days.

Here are some photos………..



And the obligatory pier walk photo…..


Busy week coming up. Jane and Ronnie are visiting all week, and lots of appointments in there as well.

Day 1204 to 1210. Monday 4th August to Sunday 10th August 2008

Good week this week. Sleep still remaining an issue, but kp very used to lack of sleep now.

Monday was a sleep catchup day after the Spain holiday.

Tuesday saw the arrival of Jane and VD. With them came lots of laughter, a real good tonic for kp. There was also a treat for the dogs as they went to the groomers (a first). I was sceptical. I always thought dog grooming was more for the owner than the dogs and was a bit of dog cruelty with a fancy name. But, their rear ends were very matted. They came back looking and feeling amazing. What a difference ! Still don’t think the dogs enjoyed or appreciated it. Bonnie was a bit weird for the whole week, not feeling very sure of her backend where they had to shave her bare it was that bad. She kept running around to strange places in the house and sitting close to us. Hard to explain. Anyhoo, she is used to it now. kp feels better for it.

We tried to have a chinese that night, but BOTH chinese takeaways were closed on Tuesday, so we went for an Indian and it was very good.

Wednesday, I had a prearranged trip to meet up with Nigel. Whilst I was there, the Fire Brigade were visiting to discuss fire with his son as he had been allegedly lighting some fires with his mates. It was a very good job they did. What was funny though (and kp was in stitches) was that Nigel got into more trouble than his son (for various things around the house). Nigel found it very funny too.

Thursday was our weekly trip to the psychologists which went very well. Lots to think about and we were knackered after it, but no time for snoozes ‘cos of the visitors.

In the afternoon, we had an appointment at the Anti-Smoking clinic. We both want to give up. Nice lady. She was an ex-smoker and she sounded like she really missed the fags. We nearly converted her into a smoker at one point, which we found funny.

kp is giving up tonight. I am 2 days given up. Watch this space. Fingers crossed.

Friday and Patti (the lady who manages kp’s support worker) came to take kp to the Eden Arms to interview a lady. There had only been one interested person (probably because they can only recruit for a 6-month temporary contract) as we don’t know how the case will go yet.

Unfortunately, once they got there, she never showed up. Majorly annoying !!!

Anyway, kp enjoyed her time with Patti.

The afternoon, we all (Jane had gone home in the morning) watched the Olymic Opening Ceremony. Absolutely incredible – well done Beijing. Beat that London !

Saturday, I went to buy a bike in readiness for my new fitness program starting tomorrow. The girls watched some of the Olympics and then Ronnie left to make the most of the quiet traffic (Saturday evening).

Today, kp was feeling a bit rough as one of her patches fell off during the bath yesterday, so she had to pop a couple of morphine tablets, leaving her knackered and having to go to bed. I did the shopping for our new fresh food diet.

It’s all change in the Pollard household…..

Fit – here we come.

Day 1211 to 1217. Monday 11th August to Sunday 17th August 2008

So so week for kp. Sleep remains the big issue, but on the plus side, we have both been “off the fags” for a week !

Monday – Karen had an awful night’s sleep and remained lethargic all day. I took the car for an MOT and did a 4-mile bike ride. I walked like John Wayne when I got off “the saddle”.

Tuesday – Physio for kp. With the lack of a support worker (still), I am Taximan No. 1, so I took kp to the physio session. I left her there so I could crack on with things, and Steve (physio) brought her back. She did 10 minutes treadmill and 15 minutes bike ride. It was a bit of a struggle apparently, ‘cos of the lack of sleep.

Wednesday’s are Karen’s day off. Jane (the psychologist) had suggested that kp schedules one day a week as “Karen time”. That day is wednesday. So it was a catch up on things kp wanted to get done, like tidy the tablet drawer – fun fun fun !

Thursday – Joanne (Physio assistant) came and took kp for a walk up the street. She could tell kp was exhausted from lack of sleep so when they got back, she treat her to a lovely massage. I expect 10 minutes after the massage began, kp would have been asleep. Certainly, by the end of it, she was well gone and she just left her to sleep :-) Thanks Joanne !

Friday and another bad night. Physio was an even bigger struggle and it was cut a bit short because kp was just dead on her feet. When they got back, kp did some probing questionning with Steve about how much better she is going to get. Steve tells it how it is and there were a few tears later that day and over the weekend.

That night (friday), we had arranged to go to a friend of mine (Nigel)’s house. It was a dinner party for 6 adults and 3 kids and we had a whale of a time. Lots of good crack, the food was excellent, and Nige (the chef) had us all in stitches doing his Gordon Ramsay impression. Nige’s impression basically involves slapping the back of his hand and swearing a bit. It was very funny even after the 10th time !!!

Shame the evening couldn’t have gone on longer, but we had to get back for the dogs.

Here’s a photo from the night…..

From left to right, kp, scrappy, kelly, craig (ex-workmate), nigel (chef), milly and terry

On the friday night, kp didn’t sleep AT ALL, so the following day (Saturday), kp was good for ‘nowt, but she did manage to come on the dog walk with me and watch a film on the night time.

Last night, she took 60mg Tamazepam to try and right her clock. Certainly, she slept better, but it leaves her a walking zombie today, but she has to try and stay awake until tonight to get things back how they should be.

So, generally, in good form, staying off the fags, battling through lack of sleep. Keep it up kp.

Day 1218 – 1224. Monday 18th August to Sunday 24th August 2008

Bad bad week. Karen can’t go any lower. Things dire. Action needed and action coming.

Monday saw Karen reduce her pain patches down another 25mg, so she is now on 550mg Fentanyl every 3 days.

All was going well until Karen had a visitor in the afternoon (Sue). Now, Sue, I know you read the blog, but please don’t feel bad in ANY way for visiting kp or the chats you had. They were the normal chats you would have had and they just happen to have got Karen thinking about how much things have changed.

So, Sue visited, and kp and Sue had some great conversation just like they used to. Unfortunately, it got Karen thinking about how different things are to how they used to be. Apparently, during the visit, Sue took a phonecall from a work colleague. After Sue left, Karen got really hung up on the fact that she felt Sue would normally have discussed that call with her, but that she hadn’t and Karen took this personally.

kp:- It’s ‘cos she knows I can’t take things in.

I tried to explain that there are 100 reasons why Sue didn’t discuss the call with her, all of them perfectly reasonable explanations and that they had nothing to do with her not taking things in. But she said it didn’t matter anyway and that she can tell she is different to how she was before.

So, this set the bad week in motion. Thankfully, we were due our counselling sessions the following day and we left it on monday as a question to ask the psychologist on the following day. The question in kp’s diary read as follows …..

“How do I come to terms with the changes from what I was before to what I am now ?”

I had done my usual explanation that it’s a bit like grieving and that you have to accept things are how they are before you can deal with them.

Tuesday came and we went to the sessions. My session starts 15 minutes before Karen’s so that I can attend the last 15 minutes of hers (when I am done). So, I walked in from my finished session to find a kp in tears with Jane (kp’s psychologist). Karen had asked the question and Jane was doing her best to explain that Karen understandably had got upset at the thoughts she was having but now was NOT the right time to accept how things were. My bad !!!!

Jane :- I don’t think now is the right time to accept how things are. that time will come but not until we have the sleep under control and the anti-depressants are sorted.

So, it was left that we have an appointment with a Dr Parry (a psychiatrist) (next week) and that he could look into the anti-depressants and the sleep problems. This appointment had been a long time coming, but eventually it got sorted.

We went straight from this appointment to Karen’s physio (I dropped her off). Karen did her usual treadmill and bike training before Steve brought her home for some more home exercises.

Wednesday’s are Karen’s day off and we had planned a (fun fun fun) trip shopping for an upcoming wedding. We went to the Metro Centre and after 2 hours of shopping, Karen got fed up, picked up a blouse and we came home, vowing to make do with an old outfit. The mood was getting worse and worse.

Thursday, we had a medico-legal appointment at the solicitors in Newcastle. Karen’s sleep is still a problem, and with only 2 hours in the sleep bank, she was not really on top form for the mental tests ahead.

It was a neuro-psychological medico-legal appointment. It was a continuation of the one before that had to be split up ‘cos kp was too exhausted. So, we arrived and she went straight in and started the tests. Time passed and after about 90 minutes, the consultant came out with kp and said that Karen wanted to take a short break. We went outside for some fresh air (no fag !!!!) and walked down the street. kp was explaining how the tests were going.

kp (laughing) :- He said some words and I had to remember if he had said those words before. (REALLY LAUGHING). I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about.

It was very unnerving the laughter I heard. I would say it was “delirious laughter”. She was giddy and I couldn’t help but laugh along, whilst I was having worrying thoughts inside. Basically, the tests weren’t going very well and kp would normally get upset, but she was in this weird place…..laughing.

So, we went back and she continued the tests and after about another hour, the consultant came out of the room and asked me to come in, explaining that she was in tears.

And she really was………….

Karen :- How stupid am I ? I can’t do these tests and they’re not hard. (shouting…..) I AM STUPID.

dp :- You’re not stupid love, but these tests are meant to be hard, otherwise they won’t know where your limits are.

At this point, the consultant butted in and did a good explanation…..

The upset continued for about 15 minutes, at which point, the consultant said that we’d leave it there….

kp:- Will I have to come back again ?

Consultant :- I don’t think so….

With an upset kp, we made our way out of the building and went home. She went straight to bed (as did I, comforting her), when we got home. Very sad !

Now, that night, we had a late night and we had one of the BEST chats I can recall, and I seemed to be spouting the purest magic from my mouth. I was saying all the right things, and I didn’t know where it was coming from. it was weird. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet, but I was marvellous. It was like the best consultants from around the world in every field plus a bit of Oprah Winfrey coming out of the mouth (no american accent though). I really was on fire.

What I said made perfect sense to me and to Karen and we seem to put LOADS of things into perspective. I felt sure I would have got kp back on the right track when she woke up the next day. I would have put a million quid on it !

But, it wasn’t to be and until this day, I am still gobsmacked that it didn’t do the trick. I felt better for hearing my own spiel and even the dogs felt better for hearing it. But, it didn’t seem to help kp and the weird thing is, even Karen would say it was a great talk.

So, Friday was here and kp was still as down as ever (maybe a little better than the previous day) and she went to physio. She did the best physio session (according to kp) that she had ever done. Longer and further (bit like the bionic woman). Normally, I take her to the fitness centre and Steve (physio) brings her back and carries on some work inside the house, but this time, she asked to leave it there. Very unlike kp.

From herein, it was all downhill. Her sleep still to pot, we had a miserable Saturday (yesterday). We tried to keep it busy, walking the dogs, watching tv etc, but kp couldn’t be bothered with life and just wanted to sleep, which of course upsets the following night’s sleep.

I felted the shed roof, getting bitumen all over me and the house carpet. Don’t ask !

Today, kp in tears and really low, just wanting to sleep all the time.

She is in the bath as I type this and she has resolved to leave things until Tuesday when we see Dr parry. The Maffeys (friends from darn sarth) are up in Middlesbrough this week, so we are due to go and see them tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday), so it will either be just what she needs, or she’ll wake up and say “I don’t want to go“. Fingers crossed for the former and a better week next week.

Day 1225 to 1231. Monday 25th to Sunday 31st August 2008

Another awful week, but with a glimmer of hope for the future.

Monday was a Bank Holiday and we were due to go to see Tracey and Mark (plus Margaret, Megan and Thomas) in Middlesbrough. They were up from Southampton for the week. It’s something we always enjoy doing, meeting up with the Maffey Mob, but alas, and as feared, when kp woke up, she was _really_ low, too low for company. But, she didn’t want to rule a visit out completely, and it was left that she would see how she was later in the day, but things didn’t improve and the day was postponed until later in the week.

Unfortunately, the whole week was one big downer and the Maffey Mob and Pollard Posse get-together wasn’t to be.

Karen felt awful about not going, which made things worse for her (upset-wise). Of course, we were all telling her NOT to feel guilty, but when you’re depressed, (I know from experience), you just tend to see the negatives of everything.

Tuesday was our glimmer of hope. We had a meeting with a Dr Parry in Hexham. He is a psychiatrist. Pretty much the whole session was Dr Parry getting to know kp. The purpose was twofold……

  1. To resolve the depression
  2. To resolve the sleep problems

We were keen for a solution to both.

Mr Parry felt that before we can tackle the sleep problem, we need to solve the depression first, as that could well sort the sleep problem out. It wasn’t what we wanted to hear, but what he was saying felt right. The outcome of the session was an increase in kp’s anti-depressant medication, which she started as soon as she got home.

We had resigned ourselves to treading water, allowing time to pass for the medication to do it’s thing and get kp back on the right tracks.

kp was due to attend a physio session in the afternoon, but because of the timings of the Dr Parry meeting had to cancel.

Wednesay and Karen had planned to get her hair and nails done ready for Christopher’s (Karen’s nephew) wedding yesterday (Saturday). Normally, she enjoys the pamper, but it was more a functional experience than a pleasurable one.

Wednesday night and Karen had her first good night’s sleep for as long as we can remember. I’d have to consult the blog to see exactly when it was, but it feels like a _LONG_ time ago !! She got EIGHT hours sleep with a couple of loo trips. That’s awesome (for kp).

Thursday, Joanne (physio assistant) came to massage Karen’s left (stroke-side) arm with a view to desensitizing it. A light touch on kp’s arm results in her reacting like you have stabbed a needle in. It’s hypersensitive, so this massaging is supposed to be improving that. I would say it’s working, because when I put the morphine patches on, the reaction I get is SO much better than it was !!

In the afternoon, I had a doctor’s appointment to get the results of some blood tests that I had had done. Basically, with a change of lifestyle, I wanted to see my chlorestrol before the change and a few months down the line. My chlorestrol is 6.4 and last time I had it done (couple of years ago) it was 6.9, so I was pleased at that. I am still off the fags and all the associated patches etc, so am really pleased at that too. The doctor put all the facts (my weight/height, chlorestrol etc etc in his computer and I have a 13% chance of heart disease, which I was amazed at. I thought it would be more like 40-50%. If I can stay a non-smoker, then it will halve again. So, quite a nice incentive.

Following the doctor’s appointment, we had an appointment with the anti-smoking lady. Unfortunately, and understandably, kp has succumbed to the fags, and I don’t blame her one bit. Now is NOT the time for kp to give up. She needs every pleasure she can get, but she DOES still want to quit and once her mood is ok, she’ll get back on track. Well done for the 2 weeks you DID give up love !!!

Friday and we had an appointment I can’t discuss followed by physio.

Saturday was Christopher’s wedding. Karen wasn’t in a fit state to go, she was far far too low, but she desperately didn’t want to let Chris down, so she forced herself to go. She was “fine” through the service until his name was read out and then she had to choke the tears back. She kept herself ok though. Once we arrived at the place where the reception was, she looked like a deer caught in some headlights (wide open eyes). No sooner had she sat down and I asked “was everything ok ?” than she broke down. The whole thing had been too much for her.

She couldn’t stop the tears, but managed to keep the sobbing very quiet. Unfortunately, Chris (the groom) saw she was upset, which I think, got him upset, which got kp even more upset because she had “spoilt his day” (in her eyes).

I tried to explain that Chris would have just been glad you had managed to come to the main part, but nothing I said would stop the agony she was going through.

We got her to the car and I drove home. She cried herself to sleep in the car. As soon as we got home, we both went to bed and I cuddled her as she went to sleep again.

She still felt very guilty, but the change of environment with being at home, made things a lot better.

It was a subdued night.

Today, we walked the dogs and her mood was 3/10 which is MUCH better than it’s been this past week.

So, the good news is, that since wednesday, every night has been better sleep, so fingers crossed, with more sleep and if the increased anti-depressant tablets work, things should and WILL improve.

Watch this space…..

Fingers crossed

Love you kp


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