Apart from catching up on my e-mails, dealing with the draft of my statement before the General Dental Association; checking over the examination papers for this year’s lectures in China and writing up my blog, I happily spent part of the day watching the opening of the Ryder Cup. Typical Welsh weather, bucketing down with rain. So much so that they only got two hours play in the early morning before the matches had to be abandoned for five hours. They did manage to get some play in the late afternoon and early evening but the opening four ball matches were deferred until tomorrow.
I forgot to mention yesterday the disastrous news there we are going to lose our wonderful OT, Sarah Moss. Apparently she has been given another job, something to do with brains, not hers, of course, but the patients. She doesn’t know yet when is she going toÂ move, but it appears to be imminent. I just pray she holds on long enough to set us up with the right of sorts of hoists. In any event, we will certainly miss her.
Late afternoon I received a call from Philadelphia, from Jennifer Lynn, the producer of the live radio show, in Philadelphia, that has invited me to participate on 13 October. We ranged over a great number of subjects in the hour and a half or so that we spent on the telephone, presumably to give Jennifer some idea of the sort of questions that the presenter of the show Dan (?), a famous American quadriplegic for the last 30 years, is going to put to me. She has promised to send me details of an earlier show that I can look at, so I should be able to get some reasonable idea of the style and title of questions I will need to answer. Unfortunately as I have to use my hands-free telephone the reception the other end is not that brilliant but there is no way that I could ask â€˜ my lovelyâ€™ to hold the telephone to my ear during the interview. Apart from anything else I would find that intimidating and I’m sure that my answers would not flow as easily as they would speaking on my hands-free telephone. Jennifer is going to ring me at four o’clock on the day of the live show just to make sure I’m still alive and well!
I spent the best part of yesterday watching the Ryder Cup which was terribly exciting. There’s something special about two nations battling it out together, in a sporting event, played purely for the honour of the country they represent. This is particularly so when you have the quality of sportsmanship and skill that is brought to an event like the Ryder Cup. We, the Europeans that is, started the day at 6 matches to 4 down to America needing 14 Â½. pints to win the cup. However of the unfinished matches, both the two foursomes and the four four balls, England started up in all of them. Sadly and, not untypically, the Welsh weather defeated the organisers and overnight rain delayed the start until 1.30. This meant that the 12 singles would not be able to be completed today and for, the first time ever and may all have to be played tomorrow, Monday. There is the fascinating prospect that any Â unfinished matches on Monday, no matter what the score, Â will be counted as a half, so we must pray for fine weather as this would be a very sad way to end such an engrossing sporting event.
In fact, in the event, the remaining two foursomes and four balls suffered from a late start and the team captains decided that all 12 singles would be played on the Monday.
The European team had a great day today, they started off, as I said 6 matches to 4 down and finish the day 9 Â½. against the Americans 6 Â½., having won five of the six matches and halved last. Even poor old Tiger Woods had a thrashing losing 6 and 5, the worst defeat he had never suffered in match play.
It’s amazing to think it’s only 11 days now until the good Dr comes to pick me up to go to Thailand. I think I will still be able to manage struggling along on my gutter frame the short distances although even this morning I noticed it was becoming a real struggle getting up the wrapped in my office. I have undoubtedly worsened even in the short period since Mick was here last. In particular, he will notice that I am beginning to have difficulty breathing particularly when I’m lying flat in bed, or even trying to turn over. In any event, whatever the situation, I could not be in better hands.
I’m still battling with the hoist a problem and then not convinced that the single horizontal track at ceiling level in the bathroom would not work. It’s a question of whether they would allow me to get an engineer to put some sort of a frame either bolted or glued to the floor at each end. It may be that being NHS equipment they will not allow us to alter it in which case I may have to consider buying my own from this company.
Having dealt with my e-mails and brought my blog up to date I then allowed myself to watch the final day of the Ryder Cup with a fascinating prospect in view. What a thrilling days golf it turned out to be. As one commentator said you couldnâ€™t write a better Hollywood script. In the end it came down to a nail-biting finish on the last but one hole, of the last match. Europe won by the slenderest of margins 14 Â½. to 13 Â½. Â Undoubtedly, one of the finest Rider Cup matches since its inception in 1927.
Following on from my complaint to the General Dental Association, my erstwhile private dentist very kindly came and took some photographs of my teeth before they are de-scaled on 13 October. Presumably, these will be offered in evidence.
Another geriatric golf day and ride around in the buggy with Griggsy. Still using my gutter from the car to the clubhouse and back, thanks to the â€˜hugâ€™ lifts given to me by our splendid Â club secretary. Scott. He really is the only one I trust to manoeuvre me over the steps etc However well-meaning my fellow members are they really don’t seem to understand how weak I am. I have one more Tuesday before I go to Thailand and I suspect that by the time I return, in early November. on my next visit to the club will be using a wheelchair. Even today I did not feel totally safe the whole time and realised that my legs were that much weaker, and indeed my arms too which I rely on, to take my weight, leaning on the gutter frame. Fortunately Scott has ordered a ramp to be installed which he says will be there within the next two weeks.
This afternoon the â€˜ incontinence ladyâ€™, Sue, kindly fitted me, for a home visit, at the end of a very long day. She is a qualified nurse but only part-time and covering a vast area and has a very heavy work load so I felt fortunate that she was good enough to acknowledge there was some urgency over my request for a consultation. I had previously explained to her, over the telephone, that I was travelling by air within a couple of weeks or so and was worried about the lavatory side of things as I would be unable to move about the aircraft and each leg of the journey was at least 8 Â½. hours.
She came with a wide range of alternatives devices, some of which were specifically designed for the incontinent, which Â is not my particular problem. Nevertheless, we were able to find three or four different things that we felt would satisfy my needs. One of them is a pair of pants with a sort of plastic pouch on the front which in itself holds a certain amount of urine but would not be large enough to contain a whole bladder full. However, the clever thing about that was that it had a spout on the bottom onto which one could attach a bag that would contain up to 2 litres. So, I decided that if I wore my kilt to travel in it would be a simple enough business for the good Doctor Michael to attach a bag on the end of this plastic pouch, that could poke out under the kilt, and then, when it was full, remove it discreetly and empty it in the lavatory.
Sue also produced a marvellously simple little plastic pot with a screw top and no bottom, inside which was a large plastic balloon which, like the leg bag, when pushed out of the pot, would hold around 2 litres. I can see this being very useful on, say, a car journey when one would not want to stop, say at a service station, download the wheelchair and go to a disabled lavatory. This little pot could be discreetly used in the back seat under cover of a towel or rug and, on completion, the top screw back on, safely containing the contents until there was an opportunity to empty it at the end of the journey.
Sue has a number of gadgets which we thought might be useful in the future and I thoroughly recommend anyone with my sort of problems to consult with their own â€˜ incontinence ladyâ€™ and hope that she is as helpful as was ours. Sue wrote out a prescription there and then for a couple of items that we could collect from Boots and a separate description, which she undertook to send off the following day, for a trial pair of pants which I pray are here in time for my journey to Thailand.
Another milestone in my blog. It passed 800,000 hits today and now looks destined to reach the million mark around the end of this year, having steadied down to a fairly constant 2500 hits each day. I just hope it’s still reaching the right people, both patients, family and carers.
Another great excitement today, Hollys, the wheelchair people, delivered my electric wheelchair. I drove it out of the office, up the ramp at the front door and into the bedroom then reversed it and drove into the study all very comfortably with no great alarms. I think Mike and Matthew, the guys who brought it, were impressed with my driving skills. It’s certainly a brilliant chair with front wheel drive it can turn on a sixpence. The key is not to go too fast to start with anyway!
The seat rises and tilts which means that I should be able to get into a position where I can move from this chair onto my gutter frame, in the same way as I do from the UpEasy cushion. So, as long as I have enough strength in my legs and arms to use the gutter frame this is the way I will move from my office chair to the wheelchair and from the wheelchair to my study chair. When I am completely wheelchair bound and no longer able to use Â the frame I suppose we will have to consider being hoisted into, and out of, the wheelchair into whatever chair I wish to sit in.
As both my hands are pretty useless, and although I can operate the chair smoothly using my almost useless right hand, in effect moving it through my arm, forwards backwards and sideways, the boys are going to set me up with a chin control unit so that when it becomes too difficult to use my hands, or my arms are too weak, I should be able to manoeuvre it, just as easily, using my chin.
This wheelchair will give me a degree of independence. For example, I will be able to go to the Cricketers, pub next door, and had lunch with my friends, without being put into a car or wheeled in a mobile wheelchair. In the summer, if I’m still around, I would be able to drive down to the village green and watch the cricket and so on. Certainly, when we have lunch in the garden and guests I would be much more mobile and be able to move around and join in instead of being stuck in one place.
I listened today to the last programme of Voices of the Family, from the Philadelphia radio station which is going to interview me by telephone next Monday. I have ascertained that the presenter of the programme is one Doctor Dan Gottlieb who recently went to Taiwan where he was awarded “The 12th. Fervent Global Love of Lives” medal. It is said that this medal has been recognised by many international media as the “The Taiwanese Nobel Prize for Love”. I assume, in Dan’s case, love of his fellow man. This medal has been awarded to 182 recipients from 37 countries in the 12 years since it was established. Listening to Dan interviewing people on his last show I found him to be sympathetic and am therefore looking Â to my own interview.
Had a wonderful day today.â€™ My lovelyâ€™ generously engaged the services of Barry, our driver, to take us all the way up to Church Stretton, Shropshire, to see my (almost) 94-year-old mother and her husband Richard. Obviously I cannot get up there as often as I would like so it was a great joy to see them both looking so well. Richard is an amazing guy who looks after my mother who, to put it kindly, is getting a little forgetful. In every other respect however she seems to be amazingly fit. I know that Richard makes a go for a little walk every day which is probably got something to do with it. They manage entirely on their own which is pretty amazing because Richard himself is 92. I was the only really old crock there.
I took up my usual bottle of champagne and we had a very pleasant lunch provided by â€˜my lovelyâ€™. Barry was marvellous the way he transferred me from car to wheelchair and so on.
He has the advantage of having many years of experience dealing with his dear disabled daughter so we are very lucky to have him in that respect. There and back the same day, without a hitch and we arrived home in the early evening.
Yesterday, son Smiler was due to come at lunch before our respective departures, overseas, next weekend. The 10th. day of the 10th. month of the 10th. year, to some people holds Â some mystical or magical properties and is meant to be a lucky day. Not so for poor Miles who found the roads out from London shut-off in a number of directions. There is no obvious reason for this — a terrorist alarm or a film set -it just was not possible to find a reasonable way here so he missed lunch. To the Chinese number 8 is thought to be extremely lucky. I remember a Chinese millionaire paying millions of RMB for a number plate with a single number 8 on it. Also on 8 August in 2008, tens of thousands of Chinese couples chose that day to get married in mass weddings.Â as indeed they did again yesterday. It’s a great idea and certainly cuts down on me cost of staging such an event.
Today was pretty hectic. Firstly we had our OT, Sarah Moss, pay, which will sadly be her last visit before she moves on to her next job. She is determined to resolve the problem with the hoist before she finishes with us. She brought, with her, a very nice young man. Ben, who at least came up with, what he hopes will be, a workable idea for the bathroom hoist. We all agreed that the best solution would be for Sarah, to try to get us a small standing hoist, which Alice will be able to use on her own. That we can use in the bathroom and a second one for transferring me in and out of the wheelchair. It may only be a temporary measure but it’s certainly worth it for a few months.
Hot on the heels of Sarah and Ben came out two young district nurses to check that my ear, for which I have taken antibiotics and eardrops, was free from infection. So important if one is flying.
Then, at four in the afternoon, yet another call from Philadelphia to check on the sound quality of my voice and, no doubt, to make sure I had not dropped dead over the weekend. â€˜ My lovelyâ€™ had come up with a brilliant idea to hold the telephone hand set by strapping it to a small stand. This should have improved the voice quality over the hands-free telephone microphone. In the event we reverted to the normal hands-free which, frankly, Â was more relaxing from me. Having satisfied themselves that all was well I was told to stand by around Â Â 5.30.
The producer came on about 5.20 and suggested that I might like to listen to the programme before I was called on myself. I got in on the tail end of the professor from Stanford talking about death so I determined to make it quite clear, when I was called on, to talk about living. The people who preceded me on this program were a lady called Jenny Bicks and a renowned psychiatrist, Dr Irv Yalom, professor at Stanford University who wrote about coping with death anxiety in Â Staring at the Sun. Jenny Bicks is the executive producer of a comedy drama on US television, entitled The Big C Â that uses the story of a woman’s battle with cancer to point out that in the face of death we might find a greater appreciation of life enjoying it to its fullest.
Certainly there’s no time like the time when one is diagnosed with a terminal illness to sort out life with its limited future as its challenges. At least, this is what the programme was all about but I have to admit that even in the face of my diagnosis it did not change my approach to life one jot. The programme Â was called Life in the Face of Death, which I only discovered after the programme and after Â I had stipulated that I was not prepared to talk about death only about living.
If anyone listens to this broadcast you will see that I actually moved the subject away from its core theme not really intentionally but without full knowledge of the intent of the programme. I was a little concerned that the interviewer Dr Dan Gottlieb might have felt a little chagrined at this change of events.. Not so apparently, according to the producer,, ‘Dan had a very wide smile on his face during your talk with him. He was spellbound by your enthusiasm and zest and cigar stories and was very happy to change the subject,’ so that’s all right then. I couldn’t have been too bad as the producer wrote in thanks afterwards saying that I was a breath of fresh air on the programme, That really wasn’t very difficult on such a morbid subject,
Maybe I will have a little more to say on the subject after I’ve had a chance to listen to the programme myself.
Any reader who would like to listen to this show can do so byÂ clicking on the following hyperlink Voices in the Family
My last day, before I go to Thailand, riding round with Griggsy watching the geriatrics play golf. I suspect by the time I get back in early November it may be too chilly for the kilt! I may have to be a little inventive with the equipment recently sent to me by the incontinence lady!! In any event, I think I shall be in trousers by then. Also, I think I will try the wheelchair next time instead of the gutter frame.. Scott has promised that the ramps will be in place shortly and I think a wheelchair in and out of the clubhouse would save a lot of lifting.
â€˜My lovelyâ€™ was out when I got home and Jane and Peter struggled to get me to my feet from the car so we call on the services of good old Luke, who seemed to have the same technique as Scott and made nothing of picking me up. Heaven knows who we will call on when Lucas finish building his bungalow opposite.
I’ve had some very nice complimentary comments about my broadcast although, as â€˜my lovelyâ€™ pointed out, it is most unlikely that any of your friends would say anything other than nice things about you!
I did receive a couple of comments from strangers who had listened to the broadcast and answered them, as I always do, on the blog itself. I do hope that my readers understand that this is where they get their answer to any of their comments. One listener to the programme in America apparently was so interested in my drinking and smoking habits he’s going to send me a â€˜ glass strawâ€™ — whatever that is. Something to look forward to when I return from Thailand.
My big task today was going through the final draft of the examination paper for my Chinese students together with the marking schedule prepared by my successor. I must say he’s done a great job and what I’ve seen so far gives me a lot of confidence. So much better than the fiasco we went through this time last year.
The good Dr flew in from Australia last evening passing through Heathrow on the way to Sweden and will be with us in a couple of days time.
Today was one of those rare days when there was universal celebration about a single event. All 33 of the Chilean miners who had been incarcerated half a mile underground for 70 days were safely brought to the surface through a small cylindrical hole that had been drilled down through the solid rock. They survivedÂ 17 days, on tiny amounts of food and water, Â without any indication at all that the people above knew whether they were alive and where they were located. It was somewhat of a miracle that the surface people guessed right as to their whereabouts Â and achieved the drilling to accommodate the escape pod in such a relatively short time. All of the miners appear to be in good spirit and reasonable health so it is somewhat of a miracle.
Basically a day of tidying up loose ends with my secretary before flying off to Thailand.