Archive for June, 2009

Day 1508 to 1514. Monday 1st to Sunday 7th June 2009

Well, busy week all round this week. It started with a non-legal MDT meeting which is where the therapists convene at our house to discuss kp’s progress.

For people to report progress after the 4th year post-accident is impressive. And across the board, that was the consensus. The biggest improvement (in my opinion), has been mental. Since the last MDT, we’ve cracked the sleep and depression and that is the most important thing to be on top of. 6 months ago, there was no way I could be considering work or my life generally, but the fact I can refocus on me speaks volumes :-)

It was a very positive meeting. There were a few tears at one point and these stemmed from anger. For the last couple of weeks, kp has been getting increasingly angry about why she is in this situation, but she knows that dwelling on what has happened is not positive for her, and it’s when she’s focussing on the future that life is good. So, it’s like she’s dipping her toe in the angry pool to get a bit of frustration out, and then back to facing forward. So, generally a very positive meeting. We have another one before the end of June and that is the legal one where all the solicitors come as well.

In the afternoon, Karen (and Nat) went to a load of garden centres to get loads of plants. They came back with enough to start our own garden centre – Well it felt like that, when I was moving them from the front to the back of the house.

Whilst they were gardening, I went to Newcastle Airport for Lesson number 5 (Hovering). I came back on Cloud 9 (pardon the pun), as I felt like I’d cracked the hover (little did I know!).

That night, Marie (kp’s sister) arrived and the following morning, I took them to the train station in Durham for their trip to see Jon Edwards (the psychic) in Edinburgh.

The girls (kp+Marie) had a great time in Edinburgh. The hotel and theatre were walkable from the train station, so I don’t think they used a single taxi !! kp didn’t think much of Edinburgh. It was too much like London (busy-wise) for her, but she enjoyed the Jon Edwards show. She was hoping to receive a message so she could start believing in things like that, but the only message she got was when Marie prodded her to wake her up as her snoring was too loud.

Whilst kp was in Edinburgh. Tommy (ace neighbour) and I finished off the greenhouse and a bloody good job we did too. I think this was when the weather was still nice, and we were really sweating our b+ll+cks off.

The following day (Wednesday), Marie and kp had a late breakfast and had a wander around a nearby park. They didn’t fancy shopping (too busy for kp). Whilst they were doing that, I was on Heli Lesson 6, which was a trip north of Morpeth to an area where we could do circuits practicing transitions (where you go from forward flight to the hover and vice-versa) and hovering. Well, the hover I thought I had cracked, I hadn’t !! The transitions went “ok” and the circuits were fine, but the hover. Well, I had lost the knack !! I was gutted and couldn’t think why I couldn’t do it. Steve (instructor) said it could be because the wind was a lot higher, and it was probably a little of that, but more that I wasn’t “in the zone”. Bit disheartening :-(

After the lesson, I picked the girls up. kp really missed me and vice-versa. We are so used to being close to each other and a night apart feels like a lot longer. Always nice to get back together again !

Thursday was the dentists for kp and I. kp, as usual, faired better, requiring no follow-up work. I had a cracked filling which needs replacing and some staining to get cleaned up (nice!).

In the afternoon, Nat and kp gardened ALL afternoon. All the plants they had previously bought needed potting which is back-breaking work. They had a system to make it better for kp, but the following day, she paid a price for such a long spell of gardening.

Whilst they were gardening, I had Heli Lesson 7. The whole lesson was hovering and I was over the moon to leave it feeling great, I had once again cracked the hover (I think!). Not only did we hover, but we did hover-taxiing, turns in the hover etc etc….It was FAR from perfect, but, although there were some VERY hairy moments, I managed to get them ALL back to a hover, where previously Steve had to save the day. There were also a couple of maneuvres where I thought Steve had helped (they were so smooth), but when I asked him if he had helped, he said that he had been too busy praying to control the helicopter – it made me laugh !

Friday came all too soon, and with it pain galore for Karen. She was VERY angry that such a small amount of gardening (I thought it was large !!!) had left her unable to do anything physical. Loads of morphine popped plus diclofenac and the pain was bearable, but she wasn’t very functional. So, it was a day in, talking with Nat. In the late afternoon, a lady called Nicki Brosnan came. I think she is a neuro-psychologist and her aim is ultimately to get kp engaged in some kind of vocational work back in the community. She started by doing loads of tests with kp. They are always intriguing to watch, but they do the trick, and they allow Nicki to see where kp has difficulties (visuo-spatial, recent memory, left neglect, and something else I can’t remember). Once she knows the issues, she can help kp with tactics/strategies to overcome them as much as poss, and then move on to her end goal. All good, and kp really liked her. Very switched on, and straight to the point, something kp likes !!

The weekend upon us, we have mostly been dog walking, and catching up on TV. Up very early both days. 6am yesterday and 5am today. But, all good !!

Another busy week coming up.

Addendum – Helicopter Blog

Rather than dilute kp’s blog with my helicopter exploits. I have started a seperate blog….

All the helicopter stuff will be here….

Day 1515 to 1521. Monday 8th to Sunday 14th June 2009

Great week for both Karen and I. They don’t come much better than this.

Karen and Natalie have come up with a great way for kp to keep track of the diary. 50% of the time when she looks at the diary, she picks the wrong day. Normally a week before, or a week after and she thinks she’s either repeating a day, or she hasn’t much on. So, Nat came up with a monthly planner, which they tried last week, but it didn’t work very well, because kp had to go down to the week and then look across to the day and it was confusing for her.

So, they have cracked it now, with this new weekly planner. Here’s the one for last week…..


Notice the weekly and monthly goal. :-)

So, Monday and kp did her home-based physio exercises with Nat, before going to do the weekly Sainsbury shop. It was her weekly target to do the shop herself. So, Nat came in with her and had a coffee in Sainsburys, while kp did the shop :-) Nice one kp. Whilst she was doing the shop, I had a cracking day in Carlisle flying helicopter circuits

Tuesday, the girls did some brain training and then Nat took kp to her swimming lesson, which went really well. kp was doing strokes today. Apparently, they noticed that her left (stroke-side) hand doesn’t open and makes a fist when pulling through the water, so they are getting a fin-like glove to help. Nikki Brosnan was due to come, but she had to cancel, so the girls did some gardening and walked the dogs in the afternoon. I revised Air Law all day.

Wednesday was Physio in the morning. Steve suggested a walk on the beach, as the sand is very good for walking and keeping your balance. Nice weather for it. In the afternoon, Nat took kp to see Angela (fellow car-crashee). The girls had a good catchup before kp returned home.

Thursday, and a dentist visit for me (cracked filling), and then to the psychologists in the early afternoon. That went really well. Jane is so good for Karen, knowing exactly how to put things and the pace that’s right for her.

Friday – I went off to take the Aviation Law exam, plus a great lesson, whilst kp gardened pretty much all day (with breaks here and there). Lovely weather for it. She paced herself well and only had moderate pain that evening (and the next day). We had some fun when I got home, the girls were shouting me to come through. They had found a dead mouse in the watering can and were both giggling like naughty school girls. When I got it out, Natalie literally ran around the back of the house, laughing and screaming her head off, whilst kp was in stitches at her reaction. When Natalie returned to have a look, I had to do the “fake trip and throw” routine for another set of laughs/screams. ;-)

So, great week and a nice weekend to top it off. Yesterday, we did some gardening, cutting down some Sycamores that had taken root, and cleaning out the garden shed. Today, I went to get my Aviation Medical out of the way

Life remains great for both kp and I. Long may it continue !

Ending with a photo…..We have a pair of collared doves who have been making a nest in our Cherry Tree for about a month or so, and whereas a month ago, they were constantly both flying in/out with twigs. For the past 2 to 3 weeks, one of them has been sitting constantly on the nest.

Here’s why…..I managed to catch a moment when the mother dove was probably getting food….


There’s at least 2 baby doves in the nest, but you can only see one here. Excuse the sieve. It has bird nuts in in the winter. I think the doves see it as a status symbol – nest with adjacent metal sieve. It’s not something normal doves have with their nests.

Day 1522 to 1528. Monday 15th to Sunday 21st June 2009

Not the best of weeks, but we know why now and the future is rosy again !

Last Sunday saw Karen’s mood be lower than usual and the worst thing was we didn’t know why. A “drop in mood” and “not knowing why” might indicate the depression is coming back, and that’s not good. So, we were both a bit concerned but not telling each other at this point.

So, monday came, and we were both hoping distraction might help. Karen had to attend a medical (in Durham), which I accompanied her to. It went fine. Karen’s mood remained low though, and she cancelled Natalie, hoping that some more sleep might pull her out of the mood drop. The snooze and kp “having words with herself” seemed to have done the trick and the night was more upbeat.

Tuesday came, and Natalie and kp went shopping for food supplies. kp’s mood had dipped again and we still couldn’t work out why !! I was starting to worry and I think kp was too. In the afternoon, there was no time to worry as kp had to attend a medico-legal appointment in Newcastle. I went with her. It went fine, but unfortunately, the consultant didn’t finish everything he had to get through, so we’ll have to go back sometime in August to continue it. No tears during the appointment although it got close when the consultant mentioned how slow he felt kp’s speech was :-(

That evening was a bit more subdued.

Wednesday and kp and I were up early, with kp’s mood still low. Nat arrived, but kp excused herself as she wanted more sleep. I had instructions to wake her at 12pm. I had been trying for a helicopter lesson everyday but the weather has been dire this week and for the first solo, aviation law requires good weather. So, I was revising Meteorology all day. Once up, kp and Nat chatted most of the day until Nikki Brosnan came (neuropsychologist). She did more tests with kp. One was, kp had to put a cross through every star on a sheet of A4 paper. As expected, she started on the right side and was slower than she would have normally been and missed out about 30 stars on the left hand side. But the idea of these tests is that they are a benchmark so that when Nikki has retrained kp’s brain, they can retest to see the improvement.

During this meeting, kp had a Eureka moment about why her mood had dropped. Karen was due to attend 2 parties this week (the mentioned Psychic Charity Doo, and Marie’s 50th birthday party (Happy Birthday Marie !!)). She had been dreading both, because she feels very uncomfortable in group situations now. When she attended her nephew’s wedding, she was in tears before the reception started and we had to come home. At some point during the meeting, probably when she was discussing things with Nikki, the lightbulb over kp’s head lit up and she felt that it was the worry/anxiety over her attendance at these parties that had brought her down. Once she had worked this out, and had committed to NOT attending (in her head), her mood improved. I kept asking her, how sure are you it’s that (I didn’t want to get my hopes up, to have them dashed), but kp was pretty sure, which was welcomely good enough for me, and from that moment on, her mood got better and better as the week progressed.

That night, kp was due to attend a psychic charity evening in Middlesbrough, but Nikki was here until after 7pm and couldn’t have attended anyway.

Thursday, and I had the option of a helicopter lesson if I didn’t mind high winds. The instructor said it would be good for me. I have flown in strong winds before and it was quite a demoralising experience, but this time, it was a very positive experience. Too strong for solo though, but I didn’t mind ! Here’s the blog entry for thursday’s flight.

Karen visited the “No Smoking” lady (with Nat) to get some more nicotine patches. She’s doing great and hasn’t smoked since the start of the holiday – well done kp !!!!

In one way, knowing why her mood was low had helped us both get past the worry we both had, but instead it was replaced with loads of guilt on Karen’s part, as she felt she should have gone to the parties.

dp:- There’s 200 people invited to Marie’s 50th. It’s not a small family doo, Marie will understand.

kp’s mood improved as the week went on. And the house became a positive place again after the dire first few days of this week !

Friday saw Karen go shopping in loads of shops at the Arnison Centre, and go to Costco to pick up a cake for Marie’s birthday party, which Natalie kindly took over to Middlesbrough. I went to Newcastle Airport as there was a 50:50 chance  of a heli lesson, but it was too blowy even to fly dual, so click here for what we did instead.

The weekend has been a good one, but very very fast and furious because the storm that is Ethan (11)  came on Saturday and stayed the night. It’s definitely been an “interesting” weekend. It’s lovely to see him and it’s lovely to have a calm house back too !!! We know the dogs like the break they have when he goes back. Last night, we watched “The Wizard of Oz” as Ethan’s in the school production and he wanted to see what lines “Munchkin 17″ has. Here’s a photo from the dog walk we all did today.


So, funny week overall, but things look great for next week, hope her mood stays up but we think it will.

Until such point as the specialists treat kp’s anxiety in group situations, it might be best that she doesn’t attend any big group gathering. So, no funerals, weddings, bahmitzvahs (not that we know any Jewish people) etc.etc…..

Day 1529 to 1535. Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th June 2009

Good week overall, with a bad day and some tears on friday, but she’s over that now.

Monday, Karen was in good form. Her mood was good and remained so all week, and this is so important. When her mind is right, she can tackle any problems that come her way :-)

Nat and kp went to the gym, and Karen was knackered when she got back, as she had had a bad sleep (for no particular reason), so she snoozed for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Karen’s social worker came round in the afternoon for an annual inspection. We hadn’t met her before, but she was nice. Nat came back in time for Nikki (Neuropsyche) arriving at about 6pm. She did more assessments.

Tuesday was a nice day weather-wise, so I managed to get a heli lesson in and pass a Meteorology exam (get in there!). kp did some gardening and had a lovely dog walk with Adele (can’t remember why Nat wasn’t there).

Another nice day on wednesday, with Nat and kp shopping at the Arnison Centre. kp got the ingredients for Lasagne with salad, which we had on the night-time, lovely it was too.

Thursday, Syd (Case Manager) and Rachel (OT) came over. They wanted to discuss the future OT requirements, but kp had emailed Syd that there were some support issues she wanted to discuss. Syd came 20 minutes early, but it wasn’t enough time to cover them all off. That night, kp became very angry and frustrated that she hadn’t discussed the support issues with Syd. It occupied her mind all the time, and it was very hard to distract her. She sent an email to Syd, and she felt a little better after venting her frustration in that email.

Friday was my big day doing my cross country to Carlisle and my first solo. First solo’s are big events in a pilot’s life, and kp was very angry that the events of the day (“support issues” is all I will say) had got in the way of my “big day” (as she called it). As it turned out, the first solo was a non-event in comparison to the other things that happened during my 3-hours helicopter flying that day. Read more here.

Karen had quite an upsetting day today. I can’t say too much, but support issues that she wanted to tackle herself were rightfully taken off her hands by Syd and Patti (Case Manager and Support Worker Manager). There were a few tears whilst I was not there. But, the good news is, that Karen feels it’s sorted now and in the past, and can move on.

The weekend has been fast and furious. We don’t seemed to have stopped. Dog Walking, snoozes, talking etc etc…..and I did my 2 open water dives for the Dry Suit course in a lake today, which on a scale of 0 (no enjoyment) to 10 (loved it) would rate a “-1″. But, at least it’s done and in the past.

So, quite a busy week. Even busier one coming up, and it’s going to be a scorcher too, so hopefully it’ll be an engaging week.

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