Sunday, 31 January 2010


Apologies for the lack of posts over the last week or so. What can I say? It's January. It's cold, grey and generally miserable. If there was any justice in the world I would be in Mauritius.

I am not, incidentally, in hospital. I was due to go in to the Royal Brompton on Tuesday so they could fiddle around with my BiPap settings and play with my mask in an attempt to sort out my CO2 levels. However I was bumped from my rightful bed by some sick person who was deemed to be in greater need than me. I was all psyched up and ready to go, ebooks downloaded and iPod charged, when the bed manager rang to say don't come.

Polly had to cancel her 'girls night' and we are both resigned to another couple of weeks of disturbed sleep with the BiPap alarm going off on average 17 times a night. It is worse for Polly because the high-pitched alarm doesn't always wake me but it does her. She has taken to kicking me in the back so we can share the experience. The sooner we can get it all sorted the sooner my bruises will heal.

I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Still Ticking Along

Yesterday I made the trip to Kings Hospital for the specialist FSH clinic with Dr Rose and his team. Once we had negotiated the near impossible task of parking within seven miles of the main entrance and then found our way through the maze of corridors to the Therapy Suite we were greeted by an enthusiastic volunteer who presented us with a pile of questionnaires designed to reveal my innermost concerns regarding my condition. No sooner had I started answering questions about my sleep patterns than we were whisked off to the cardiac clinic for an ECG.

The woman who performed the ECG was one of those people who wants to tell you all about someone they know who is in a wheelchair. In this case we were regaled with the tale of her nephew who had been run over by a drunken vet in Ireland, paralysed and then mugged by four Polish men in an alleyway in Dublin of his Christmas bonus. I think the subtext was that I'm lucky to only have Muscular Dystrophy.

A little later we squeezed in to a consulting room with Jo, the physiotherapist, Chris, a post-doctorate researcher studying MD, and Dr Rose himself. The purpose of the consultation was to review progress since the last one six months a go and to anticipate what was going to be required in the future. Everyone admired the super-duper wheelchair which they had been instrumental in getting funding authorised for and bemoaned the lack of progress regarding our housing situation. We discussed various problems I've been having with my hands and everyone looked at my toe. I was rather alarmed by their reaction to it. Words like 'tissue viability' were used. I was firmly told to get my GP to look at it.

Various technological ideas were mooted to help with my increasing difficulties with communication and I'm being referred to the appropriate specialists.

On our journey home I found myself in reflective mood. These sessions are of immense value but they force you to confront the reality of the situation. My condition is degenerative and, in reality, this means I am forever playing catch up with myself, compensating for physical abilities lost forever. I am not a particularly 'head-in-the-sand' type person but sometimes anticipating the future is difficult. Sometimes it makes me want to pick a fight with four Polish men in an alleyway. Mostly though it focuses my attention on what needs to be done so that my quality of life remains as spectacularly high as it is. I'm not exactly looking forward to some aspects of what is to come but, all things considered, I'd rather know and be prepared than be caught by surprise and left wallowing. You can't anticipate every change but some are inevitable and, as such, forewarned is forearmed. I'll drip feed you the details as and when they occur.

I'm mentally preparing myself for what I hope will be a very brief stay at the Royal Brompton Hospital next week while Dr Simonds and her team try to get a handle on my blood gases by fiddling with the BiPap overnight. My beloved is so distraught at the thought of my absence that she has arranged for a 'girls night in' with a whole coterie of friends to help her cope emotionally.

If I can get a Wi-Fi signal in my ward I'll blog you from there. Until then, thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Toeing The Line

There is little to write about at the moment as I am effectively snowbound. The heavens have dumped a largish amount of the white stuff upon us and rendered the local pathways wheelchair proof. Dancing On Ice could be broadcast from the Westcroft Centre car park, across which I would have to traverse if I wanted to get to the school or village. The boys had two snow days off school last week and have since been watching the weather forecasts with the same attention they usually devote to Spongebob Squarepants.

Apart from a slightly infected big toe I am well. Polly keeps looking at the toe and muttering that it is the wrong colour and doesn't match the other nine. It doesn't hurt unless someone pokes it so I haven't been particularly worried. Even so, to stop her worrying (fussing) I had one of the district nurses look at it and she put a dressing on it that makes it look like I'm wearing a finger puppet on my foot.

To add to the surreal nature of my life, this morning I ate my breakfast to the accompaniment of Polly having a Ukulele lesson and strumming 'She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain' in the chord of C. Her tutor has gone away to learn how to play 'The Wheels On The Bus' so he can teach her next week.

That's it for now. Until next time.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A Week In The Life

We are now a week into 2010 and this is my first post of the new decade. It has been an interesting week, here are some of the highlights.

On new years eve only one carer arrived. Polly had taken the boys to the early part of a party and I was home alone happily catching up with the second part of Day of the Triffids. Kolapo wrangled me into bed alone.

New years day – only one carer arrived. Polly helped Kolapo get me up. There appears to have been some confusion over on which days care was cancelled. This had arisen because the decision had to be taken weeks in advance. Polly was in her run up to Christmas where she dashes from nursery to nursery loaded down with puppets, dressed as a fairy and can barely remember what day of the week it is, let alone decide what care requirements will be needed over the festive period. The care agency seemed to have no clue either but lack the excuse of having to entertain hundreds of children with only the aid of Stella the Star puppet.

On January 2nd we had friends round for dinner. This was great fun. We had cancelled the carers for the evening which was just as well because no one went home until 1.30am. The only problem was that then Polly had to get me to bed alone and we were both very tired.

January 4th, Monday, the last day of the holidays before the boys go back to school and Kolapo arrives in the morning alone. Polly gets a phone call from the agency saying several of their staff are off sick. They make the assumption that Polly will bail them out and act as the second carer. Polly rebels and points out she is not a member of their staff and, besides, she has plans for the morning which do not include lugging me about. She then gathers the boys and takes them over to a friends. I am left in bed until 12.30pm when an irate Carlotte arrives all the way from Lambeth. There is much muttering in French and African dialects about the organizational abilities of the agency management. It also occurs to me that had the agency made fewer assumptions about Polly's willingness to drop everything to become their unpaid emergency backup worker and had asked her nicely rather than just assuming her availability then things would have run a lot more smoothly.

In the afternoon, after I had had a cup of coffee and a slice of toast, we took the boys for a last day of the holidays trip to the cinema to see Avatar. Fabulous. Rush to see it. The plot is blockbuster typical but despite the eco-save the planet-civilization bad/tree hugging natives good-climatic battle scene finale storyline the film is absolutely beautiful to watch. The alien planet Pandora is stunningly realised. We saw it in 3D which literally adds a new dimension to it but I understand that even in 2D the SFX are spectacular. It's the first time I've seen a truly convincing alien world. The film is quite long (161 minutes) but I was immersed totally and so were the boys. (Polly fell asleep for a little while but that is because she was in a warm dark place and had nothing to do with the film.) The film making is genuinely ground breaking and makes me excited about the future of the technology. Go and see it. Now.

January 5th – the boys go back to school.

January 6th – today. 3cm of snow has fallen in our area and so naturally the school is closed. Matty is only slightly aggrieved that he had an appointment at the dental hospital today and would have been off school anyway. Both boys are watching the forecasts keenly in hopeful anticipation of Siberian conditions for the rest of the month.

So, as you can see, 2010 has not ushered in a new era of blissful tranquillity for the writer of this blog. Mind you, if my life was just one long peaceful wheelchair ride you probably wouldn't care enough to read about it. I hope you all enjoyed Christmas and have had a happy new year.

Until next time.