Archive for May, 2009

Day 1473 to 1479. Monday 27th April 2009 to Sunday 3rd May 2009

Good week – great to have kp back in the house.

She remains upbeat and positive and life is returning to normal again. We’re not fully there yet, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction. The psychologist has recommended she holds back from anything that could bring her down until we have seen 4 weeks of stable upbeat kp, which seems good advice.

So, the week started with tears. Monday was the anniversary of the accident but I had totally forgotten :-( . kp hadn’t ! Karen was very teary in the morning and I just couldn’t work out why ! When I asked her, she said she didn’t know why she was teary. Later, she told (reminded) me that it was the anniversary of the accident – it all slotted into place !! She hadn’t wanted to tell (remind) me at the time, ‘cos it would have set her off (crying) again !

I felt a bit guilty, to say the least!

So, the day was a bit of a “down” affair. Nat was kicking herself ‘cos she should have arranged something for monday. kp and I were doing the same ! We’ll remember for next year, well, probably ! ;-)

Thankfully, it was merely a blip/dip in mood and the following day kp was back on form. I had a helicopter lesson booked for the afternoon, but weather stopped play. And pretty much, this repeated itself each day. Heli lesson booked, and cancelled on day :-( The weather for this coming week doesn’t look much better, but I live in hope !

Anyway, back to kp…….Tuesday saw kp and Nat go off to the gym to do her exercises and then to the Metro Centre after a bite of lunch to get Dad’s birthday present. She also tried to book Whickham Villa for friday for a nice massage, soak and swim, but it was fully booked :-(

Wednesday and kp was up and about early sorting out the spare room, which is the room for old boxes and all the crap we never use.

Thursday and another trip to the gym with Nat. She has learned her lesson from previous trips and is no longer trying to compete with herself. She always tried to do the speed walk in less time, or do longer, with the inevitable increase in pain, but she is pacing herself so she doesn’t lose out on the week !

Unfortunately, despite the new pacing regime, she was still in pain, but we have put this down to the patches being reduced this week and her body not being fully used to them.

Friday was my birthday (32 years old (+/- 10 years)). And the card she got me was absolutely spot on. She is sooooo good at picking cards that are pertinent.

“Happy Birthday to my husband.
I may get kind of GRUMPY when I’ve had a rotten day,
And other times I just won’t BUDGE no matter what you say…
Sometimes I might start NAGGING when you try to take a break…
Or tend to say “I told you so” when you’ve made a MISTAKE…
But even though my changing MOODS might drive you up the wall…
As long as we’re together I’m the HAPPIEST wife of all!”

I love her so much. PLUS the card, I got a dry suit so I can go diving in the cold UK waters. It was a bargain. Dave and I saw the same suit for £499 at the diving shop in Whitley Bay. I got it for £204 INCLUDING a fleecy undergarment worth £70 !! Happy camper !

We had a nice friday together, doing some gardening. On the night time, we went to Nigel’s (my mate) for tea. I was thrilled that we were finally going and kept thinking that kp was going to back out at the last minute, but she was good to go !!!!! William, Terry and Lillian (Nige’s mam) were all there, plus 3 dogs,and a cat ! Lillian had just had some chemotherapy that week, and had had a day feeling low, and it was so nice to see Karen be the one who was able to pick someone else up for a change. Whilst Nige and I were catching up, I couldn’t help but earwig in on kp’s conversation to check she was ok, but she was fine and in good form – WELL DONE KP !!!!

Cracking Night, shame it wasn’t longer, but kp had took her Amytrypteline a about 8pm and by 10.30pm she was tired, so we had to leave earlier than hoped :-(

Saturday, dog walking, more gardening and some good TV on the night. No Pizza ‘cos we had had Pizza at Nige’s.

Today, we were both knackered (from the gardening yesterday), so lots of snoozing after dog walking.

So, this coming week kp and Natalie have planned quite a busy week, which is good. I have a heli lesson booked for tomorrow, which will no doubt be cancelled because of UK weather :-)

Fun Fun Fun !

Here’s some photos of the week…..

Lillian, William and Terry…..


kp and Milly (at Nige’s)…..


Bonnie and Elsa (plus big stick)……


Elsa (not understanding Centre of Gravity)….


Day 1480 to 1486. Monday 4th to Sunday 10th May 2009

Another good week in the bag :-)

Monday was the Bank Holiday. kp was glad of the extra day off. She made the most of it, by chilling and doing non-rehab stuff. Catching up on tv, snoozing. I was due to go to a helicopter lesson, but the British Weather transpired against me. Rather than repeat that over and over again, I’ll just record when I do go !

Tuesday and back to rehab for kp. Nat came and the girls went to physio at Seaham. By all reports, it went very well and Karen now has a new regime to follow when at the gym.

    Whilst she does the treadmill, she has to concentrate on keeping her left buttock in. Because of the stroke, her left hip has a tendency to not lock into place as it would naturally for most people. But, if she concentrates hard, she can get it in, and this makes for a walk which doesn’t use as much energy and looks more normal.

    Once back to the house, she then has to do pelvic lifts (again, to do with locking left hip forward), and then some balance board.

    Wednesday and first thing, I took the bike in for its MOT and it failed :-( Brakes seizing on and not releasing, which I had predicted would happen. Not enough use ! He’s going to fix it this coming tuesday and pass it. kp went to the gym in the morning to do all of the above. The weather was “iffy” but I was told it would be flyable, so I headed off to Newcastle Airport and had my first heli lesson. It was awesome. The weather got worse and we couldn’t get the whole hour in, but it was still worth the 90 minute round trip. The instructor (Steve) was great. He went through all the pre-flight checks, pre-startup checks, post-startup checks. He did all the radio (thankfully) and taxi’ed and took off and then one by one, he let me take each of the controls (cyclic, collective and pedals). After I had done each of them separately, he let me do them all together and I was flying a helicopter !!! What a feeling ! I was on Cloud 9 (no pun intended). He asked me to do various turns and maneuvres and by this time, we were losing the horizon to rain, so he asked me to fly back. I was thrilled as it showed some confidence on his part :-)   I flew it all the way back, joining right-base leg and then on to final approach (25), and I flew it up the runway, down to 500 feet and then he did the rest and he was really good !!! I was well impressed ! Loved it, and couldn’t wait to share it all with kp.

    After she came back from the gym, the girls were going to the cinema to see “State of Play”. Unfortunately, kp had a bad experience in the cinema, and they had to leave halfway through the film. Basically, she had an unusual sensation in her left arm, so much so that she couldn’t sit the film out. I arrived back 30 minutes before the girls, eager to share my experience and kp was keen to hear all about it, but I could tell she was “bothered” by her arm.

    The following day, we booked an appointment at the doctors. Karen is normally very good at working out if a Doctor’s visit is needed, so for her to want to go was of concern, but the doctor was great and reassured her that it was nothing serious and that she should only worry if her left arm was losing strength, which it wasn’t. So that was a relief. And by the following day, the sensation had gone. One of the things I have noticed is that her arm feels things differently to her right arm. So a cold sensation to her left arm, can feel like a burn. And a light brush with a duster (not something we do, just an example), can feel like I am operating an electric sanding machine on her arm (something I must do one of these days). So, it could be something trivial that if her right arm had felt it, wouldn’t have bothered her at all, like a bit of popcorn stuck to it. We never found out what caused it, but we’re pleased it’s over. That night, she had an awful sleep, but it didn’t prevent her waking up feeling positive on Friday.

    While I remember, Dr Yellowlees (Pain Specialist) rang on Thursday to see how kp was getting on with the reduction of her meds. kp was pleased (and rightfully so) that she had reduced the gabapentin to ZERO, the Fentanyl patches to 325 and she is off paracetamol apart from for the usual headache use !!!

    We also went to the Psychologists for a very good session with Jane. Very positive and Jane is considering dropping her sessions down in frequency but involving an occupational psychologist who will help kp with getting some long-term meaningful goals and helping her back to some form of voluntary work perhaps ? That’s the vague aim she has at the moment, but it will depend on this specialist.

    Friday was another busy day. Gym in the morning and Whickham Villa in the afternoon. At Whickham Villa, she had a lovely massage after some time in the hydro pool. Natalie helped kp work on some of her swimming actions. And something clicked for kp about why she was struggling to swim. So, she has some more moves to work on there, which is great.

    And then after all that, we went over to Middlesbrough to pick Abbie(12) and Louisa(5) as they were staying the night. They were very well behaved !! We took them to the fun house and had a meal there. And then by 11pm they were knackered and wanted to go to bed !! At about 8am on Saturday, we were all up and about walking the dogs. Breakfast on our return and then it was time to take them back after a visit to the Garden Centre to order our hanging baskets.

    Snooze on our return and then the usual Saturday night. Film (“The Departed”), and Pizza with Britain’s Got Talent.

    Today, we were up and out walking the dogs at 6am. And no doubt we will be going for a snooze shortly.

    So, great week all round. Another busy one coming up.

    Some photos from this week…..

    Elsa, chilled…..and in Karen’s seat.


    The dogs are very hard to catch sat still, but here’s the best of 7 photos I took…..


    Day 1487 to 1493. Monday 11th to Sunday 17th May 2009

    So so week. Could be better, could be worse.

    Monday and Rachel (OT) was in attendance. They did “plan and goal” setting and Rachel confirmed all the details of kp’s upcoming swimming lessons with a OT/swimming instructor. In the afternoon, at about 3pm, kp went to the gym with Nat and that went very well, kp feeling very agile.

    I had a helicopter lesson in the afternoon and that lesson was climbing and descending turns. That went fine, and I think because it was going so well, he thought he would see if I could hover, so we descended down to this barren bit of land and he got it in the hover and passed the controls to me. I managed to keep the hover for an impressive 1/3rd of a second, probably even half a second, before I lost it. So, can I hover ? Can I bloody hell !!! I left that lesson deep in thought, thinking “HOW ON EARTH will I have ever crack that ?”

    Monday night, and kp had another cracking sleep. Her sleep is MUCH improved since she is now on more amytrypteline.

    Tuesday and Syd came in the morning. He was pleased at kp’s positiveness and all the good news. I left halfway through for another heli lesson. We did more climbs/turns and hovering. And I had been thinking A LOT about the hovering, where I was going wrong etc…. and something clicked before the lesson. I put it into practice and the hovering was much improved. I managed a 20 second hover before losing it. I still can’t hover reliably, so I need to work on that. But, also, when I lost the hover, I need to be able to recover it. So, still a long way to go there !

    Wednesday was another good day. Natalie was off, so kp had a relaxing day, and rang VD in London. She hasn’t spoken to her since her mood dropped, so great that she felt strong enough to call her and they had a great chat, so that was good to hear when I got back from another heli lesson. Wednesday’s heli lesson was more hovering, which I think was worse than the previous day :-( . So, need to rethink things there. And we did autorotations, that’s the same as an engine cutting out on a plane, basically, no engine powering the rotorblade and you come down to earth rather quickly. We just focussed on entering autorotation, controlling it, and we don’t do the landing bit until much further on.

    Thursday, weather was awful, so I was reading up on Aviation law all day, while kp and nat went to the Metro Centre.

    Friday, weather still grim, and kp’s plan walk of the dogs with Nat, was cancelled. Instead they chatted most of the day and Nat took kp to the doctors in the afternoon to get the prescription changed and a few other things. The first time I haven’t been to the doctors with her since the accident !!!! Instead I gave her a list of things to go through with the doctor. I think the doctor was impressed she was on her own.

    Saturday, Nat was unavailable, so I was on support worker duty and took kp to see her sisters in Middlesbrough. It was the monthly sister’s day and they had a nice meal at Joe Rigatoni’s in Middlesbrough. Whilst they did that, I went back to Michelle’s to fix her computer. kp enjoyed her banana-split but was a bit teary on the way home. I think she felt like she wasn’t keeping up with the conversations fast enough. :-(

    But, we had a good night watching the Eurovision Song Contest. Russia put on a great show, and Graham Norton was very good, although a bit too talkative at times.

    Today (Sunday), and we were walking the dogs at 5am. kp has a few things on her mind, and hasn’t been to bed at all, so I expect she will catch up later in the day. We have lots of good programmes to watch to take her mind off things later, so we should have an “ok” day.

    I’ll end with a photo. On one of my heli lessons, we were flying back at about 5pm, which is a busy time for Newcastle Airport, lots of planes coming in and departing. I do all the flying apart from the low-level hovering, taking off and landing at the moment, which suits me given my lack of skill in those areas :-) . So, we are approaching the runway and are asked to perform orbits over the golf course, which we did. Whilst a plane lands, and 1 takes off, I am constantly flying circles in the air, which gets a bit dizzying, so the instructor sets us up in a hover and asks me to take over and that seemed to go ok. Then we are given clearance to land and the instructor tells me it’s just as well as “Marky Mark” needs the helicopter for his traffic report. It turns out the local “eye in the sky” uses the training helicopter to do his rush-hour traffic report. So, after landing, I didn’t have to fully shut down the helicopter, instead we just handed it to the “eye in the sky”. Here is a photo of “Marky Mark” at the controls. What’s interesting about this photo is that the tail rotor is straight, but in this photo it looks like it’s bent – optical illusion to do with shutter speeds and the speed the tail rotor rotates I expect.

    So, good week generally, could be better, could be worse.


    Day 1494 to 1497. Monday 18th to Thursday 21st May 2009

    Early blog this week, ‘cos we’re off to Spain for a week tomorrow.

    Monday saw kp a little low to start the day, but nothing dire. Nat came and the girls went to South Shields for a shop and some refreshments. It helped.

    The solicitor came over on the afternoon to discuss the case. Is an end in sight ? Well, you’d think we’d hope so, but I am not too sure it will be a positive thing. In a way, it will be the end of a mammoth 4+ years struggle and kp can “move on”, but I can’t help but feel it will be a time when the hell of the last 4 years HAS to be brought up, and will bring kp down. The meeting with the solicitor gave us a taster. As she was updating us on various things, kp got quite upset. She finds this kind of thing very overwhelming, understandably. It is hard reliving how things happened in the accident etc etc…..

    kp does best when she is focussed forward, not backwards, and we have to try and keep it that way if at all possible.

    Anyway, kp felt better after the solicitor left, which was great and the week got better and better.

    Tuesday, and Nat took kp to physio for a session focussing on her hips. Steve joined them for lunch afterwards which was nice and they all enjoyed it by all accounts.

    Wednesday saw kp get her hair and nails done in preparation for the holiday. She remained in good form.

    And today, kp will be going for her swimming lesson at Whickham Villa plus a meeting with her OT. We also have to fit packing in somewhere.

    Big thanks to Marie for dog-sitting while we are away ! :-)

    Spain here we come.


    Well, kp had a GREAT swimming lesson. She hasn’t been able to swim since the accident, but she conquered the first step and both she and the OT/Swimming Instructor were WELL pleased with her progress.

    kp couldn’t believe that she could float unaided.

    Here’s proof !


    Well done kp. The biggest plus of what she achieved is that she has much more confidence in the water which is great !!! Let’s see how she improves over the hols !

    Day 1&2

    Good first couple of days to the holiday. Karen has been in good form really enjoying time with the kids.

    Weather a bit overcast on Day 1, but it’s hot again today.

    Yesterday, we spent a good part of the day at the hotel. Table tennis tournaments, kids entertainment etc etc. Mum cooked a lovely leg of lamb. Kp wasn’t there to enjoy it as shehad a headache

    Here’s kp sunning (in the shade) yesterday. Guy in the background….

    Day 3

    Karen gave up fags on thursday last week and it’s doing my head in. She is doing really well – not a one – but she is extremely irritable and touchy.

    But we’re still sane and together so that’s good ;-)

    Yesterday, we slept a lot while the kids went to the beach. Nice Chinese takeaway on the night with a game of cards to follow.

    While I remember Karen has gone down another notch and is now on 300 fentanyl patch! Well done Karen

    Day 4

    Great day yesterday. Karen’s irritability subsided :-) think she needed some time with hubby on her own. She finds company harder to deal with even though it’s my family who she gets on great with.

    The kids & parents went to a water park, which meant we could do the “pier walk” which we always enjoy. Karen did the most she has ever done -about a mile I reckon!!

    Wheelchair for the rest of the way.

    In the afternoon, we went for a swim and Karen managed to her float that she had learnedfrom her swimming instructor PLUS shemanaged to get into the float position herself which is a first. Getting back to standing proved a lot harder so we’ll leave that to the swimming instructor!

    Attempted snooze thereafter, but nearby building work put paid to that!

    Lovelymeal with family on the night time followed by the fair. Jamie was with me in the dodge’ems and although he started timid, within seconds he was nearly exploding with excitement. It was so funny and karennearly died with laughter from the sidelines!

    Once we were back at the hotel, we played a few rounds of Risk and for the first time, it feels like I am winning!

    We’ll see how that pans out today

    Day 5

    Another great day, with an unfortunate bit of cold turkey.

    Great sleeps for the last 2 nights.

    After a morning read, we headed to Chez Pollard for lunch and lovely it was too!

    Afternoon came and I was on “chucking the kids in the pool” duty. Kp reread the last few pages of Peter Kay’s autobiography, until she realised she’d already read them :-(

    In the afternoon, kp started getting the symptoms of Cold Turkey – involuntary shudders, feeling cold, sweating etc…

    We think what has happened is that her Fentanyl patches have dried out in the sun and whereas, normally this would be unnoticeable, because she is downto 300, she notices the drop in morphine much more readily. Thankfully, we understood the problem and knew the solution : take some morphine orally and reapply all patches.

    And it worked. Kp played it safe and spent the night in while I went to El Dorado with the family for some fine dinery and some hide and seek. TheHide and seek started with our 2 kids, but a further THREE kids came to ASK me if they could play. At €5 a pop, and allowing me to sit down, it was an easy decision! ;-)

    We then came back and kp & I watched The Apprentice whilst the family watched some footy match

    All good!

    Rest of Week to Day 1507 (Sunday 31st May 2009)

    Well, we’ve had a fantastically wonderful holiday in Spain. It was one of the best we’ve had ! So nice when all the family can get together. The weather was absolutely spot on !!! Not too cool, not too hot !!

    What made it that more enjoyable is that kp was in the right mindset to enjoy it. The mood is up and kp was in good form !

    Can’t quite remember what happened over the last few days specifically, but we enjoyed them. kp remains off the fags – well done kp.

    The last day of the holiday was spent at our hotel and everyone came to us. We played a tournament of table tennis. Needless to say, I didn’t fair too well, but did manage to beat dad, and 1 game with Guy (he won the other), but Jane stormed all of us !!! Karen also had a play (but not in the competition), and she did really well, managing to hit nearly every ball I played her !!! :-)

    More than can be said of the kids who were adamant they needed no instruction, but we’re equally inept at hitting the ball AT ALL !

    The last meal was at the villa and was 2 x takeaways. Chinese and Pizza – it was lovely. Following day, we had a good travelling day home. It was nice to see the dogs again (thanks Marie!).

    The past 2 days (Sat/Sun) have been chocka block !!! kp has been gardening. And me and Tommy (ace neighbour) have been constructing a greenhouse, and it’s been BLOODY hard work. I am not very used to hard labour, never even mind easy labour. Tommy who’s approx 70, was mixing cement, lifting heavy stuff, whereas I was sweating moving my head from left to right watching him pour the cement !!! Mind, it was hot ! THANKS so much tommy. It’s took us 2 days and we’re not finished yet. The concrete base is down and will be setting tonight. The greenhouse is all but built, needing the window finishing and a door latch putting on, and the glass all needs fastening in properly.

    Was due a heli lesson tomorrow, but we’ll postpone and get this knocked on the head while tommy’s here.

    So, photo time…..

    Here is kp playing ball with the kids…..

    Here is Grandpa and the kids jumping into the water at the same time, or trying too…..

    Here is Jamie mid-jump…..


    Sophie and her mate…..

    sophiefriendHere is our new greenhouse (nearly finished)….


    Finally….Mum and Dad have had a new satellite installed at the Villa. It means they can get Sky over there, but it’s so big, it also means I can talk to my mate on the International Space Station…..

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