30 April 2011

Posted by DMC on 1 May 2011 in Diary |

Another quiet day, or at least we thought. The good Dr Michael left after breakfast, for his home in Sweden, and telephoned us late afternoon to say that he had arrived safely.

We were fine and spent the rest of the day together and watched one or two of the residue programmes of the Royal Wedding, in between other things. All was well until bedtime when I failed to rise from the chair and stand on my feet. instead slid to the floor with my usual cries of alarm. ‘My lovely’was her usual calm brilliant self and managed to prop me against the NHS chair so I could breathe and she could go for help.

Much as she would have liked to, there was no way she could possibly get me up from sitting on the floor to a vertical position. Fortunately our next-door neighbour Tom, was not at home and I’m quite pleased about that as we called upon him only two days ago and, let’s face it, there does come a time when you become a bloody nuisance. Anyway, our next port of call was another neighbour, Edward Oliver, who only lives 100 yards or so away. Unfortunately Edward had been to dinner the night before in London and had decide to have an early night. This was rudely interrupted by our telephone call and the poor chap had to get up, dress himself and come round. Even between them, ‘my lovely’ and Edward, with the assistance of the standing hoist, could not manage to get me to my feet and onto my frame, so we decided it was prudent to do what we had always been told we must do and dialled 999. The ambulance arrived from Radwinter no more than 10 or 15 min later with two extremely kind and helpful paramedics. They soon got me onto my frame with which I then I shakily made my way through to the bedroom.

I think it is, as I have suspected for some time, that my arms are giving out faster than my legs as I need to support the weight of my body on the frame when I’m attempting to stand up. I have noticed, for example, that it is getting more difficult to feed myself, even using both arms and the armrest, so I know they are getting weaker. As much as anything I believe that I have lost confidence and dread every time I have to go through the manoeuvre of standing from my NHS chair.

It’s ‘sods law’ that these things always happen at the weekend, and, in this case, on an extra long weekend. Although we have alerted Lynne, our OT, that we need more physical instruction on how to transfer from chair to chair, perhaps using a hoist, I think the earliest this can happen will be Wednesday morning, so in the meantime we will have to set up some assistance for the morning and night move





1 May 2011

Posted by DMC on 2 May 2011 in Diary |

After the dramas of last evening we managed our usual performance of getting me dressed and walking me to my chair in the study for breakfast. The problem came when I tried to get up again and onto the gutter frame to go to the loo. It soon became obvious that we were in danger of another fall. We certainly didn’t want to ring 909 again and ‘my lovely’ had the brainwave of eliciting the assistance of our good faithful driver, Barry, who lives reasonably close by. He came, as willing as ever, even on a bank holiday, and was here within 10 min or so and the necessary manoeuvres were accomplished without further mishap. Clearly this state of affairs cannot go on like this and we must swiftly seeks a longer more permanent solution.

I stayed in my study chair 14 hours, not attempting my usual mid-morning or early evening walks as this would have meant having someone to assist me getting up onto my frame. Barry came again in the evening at 10 o’clock, just to get me up and I managed to walk, or rather shuffle, back into the bedroom.

Incidentally, as a last word on the Royal Wedding, how many of you noticed the wording of the undertaking given by both bride and groom. Instead of the traditional “with all my worldly goods I thee endow ” it was changed to “with all my worldly goods I thee share”. Very modern, perhaps reflecting the right of each partner to a marriage being entitled to 50% of the combined wealth of both partners.





2 May 2011

Posted by DMC on 3 May 2011 in Diary |

With some trepidation I managed to shuffle up the ramp into the shower on my frame this morning despite not feeling as safe as I have in the past and I believe that this particular process may swiftly becoming to an end and we may have to resort to the special shower wheelchair. We will, hopefully, sort that out on Wednesday morning if Lynne, our OT, can come to go through the whole process.

This morning the ‘boy’s, our wonderful handymen, Bill and Paul, came at nine o’clock and helped get out onto the frame and into the loo. They put down the ramp at the office door and got out the electric wheelchair which I was determined to have a go at. They also measured up to put six inch inside pieces for the front door ramps just in case I try to drive the electric wheelchair that way. I had a brainwave, as I am unlikely to actually see office again, they could try the office ranp outside the French windows leading into the nursery and that would be a great way for me to get in and out of that room, perhaps using the electric wheelchair. They found that the smaller of the two ramps pretty well fitted the bill and they will come up Sunday to do this work. This will mean I’ll be able to access the breakfast room when we have guests and eat with them. Whilst they were here I moved around the garden in the wheelchair, It was absolute bliss to be out in the sunshine and totally independently mobile

I know we’ve had a lot about the Royal wedding but I could not resist this irreverent of the ‘Royals’ letting their hair down. (See if you spot the real Prince Charles and Prince Harry!!) Click the square below and then click on the URL on the e-mail. Enjoy



Barry came again in the evening to help me out of my chair and onto my frame, at bedtime. We will have to continue this process to such times as we get something more permanent in place.





3 May 2011

Posted by DMC on 4 May 2011 in Diary |

Dramatic ness. President Obama announced last night Usama Bin Laden, the erstwhile head of Al Qaeda – responsible for many tragic incidents including the destruction of the twin towers in New York on September 11, 2001,- had been shot by a small specialised group of American type commandos who raided his stronghold in Abbottabad ,Pakistan

The rather mysterious aspect of this whole thing is that they said they were only 99.9% sure that it was Bin Laden and there are no photographs of the body instead have yet been released-apparently he was a gory sight and the Americans did not want to inflame the Muslims by displaying it. Then, bizarrely, they took the body out to sea and after washing the body, in accordance with the Muslim custom, apparently gently lowered it into the water. Why the hurry to dispose of the body of the most wanted man in the world, particularly, from the Americans who have not always used the most sensitive approach to their enemies in the past. Of course, this has caused all sorts of questions about conspiracy theories, in particular as the Pakistani government were apparently totally unaware that Bin Laden was living in luxury in a especially constructive heavily reinforced Villa, with 18 feet high walls around it, only a couple of kilometres from an major military establishment and near a large conurbation. I hope to goodness it was really Bin Laden otherwise Pres Obama will have a lot of egg on his face! Okay one down and how many to go? Syria next? Then Bahrain? What about Saudi Arabia? Indeed where does this sort of tactic end? It is indeed a moral dilemma

Tuesday’s come round again, after two long holiday weekend’s and I was off to the golf club for my drive around and lunch. This week as Griggsy was in Spain he had very kindly arranged for Karl Creasey to be my driver. Karl looked after me beautifully and produced all sorts of rugs,,coats and things to ensure that I was not cold as there was a very chilly north-east wind blowing. Barry and Scott between them did their usual efficient transfer from car to wheelchair and back.

I got back in time for Althea to cut my hand and toenails before she goes off in a motorhome to France for a holiday. Barry turned out again at 10 p.m. to help me out of my chair. I hope we managed to put something more permanent imposition when Lynne come to see us tomorrow.



4 May 2011

Posted by DMC on 5 May 2011 in Diary |

A truly medical day after the long weekend and the dramas of the collapsing legs. Telephone calls to the district nurse re Continuing Care – we really need help for a few minutes in the evening to get me out of my chair and perhaps in the morning, for the loo. Then there was another call to Dr Margaret Saunders, the palliative care lady, about the two people who she was going to arrange to come here, one to teach me to breathe more effectively and the other one to show ‘my lovely’ how to rub my tummy to remove some of air. Then I called Dr Chris Allen – the head of my MND team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital – I’ve to try to persuade him to speak to Dr Ian Smith, at Papworth Hospital, about the possibility of fitting me with a diaphragm pacer. Then various calls to Lynne, our OT. to arrange for her to come tomorrow to physically demonstrate getting me out of one chair into a wheelchair. Then Holly’s, the wheelchair people, rang about putting some switches on to the left-hand armrest of the electric wheelchair so I could stop and start and control it from there as well as using my right hand to steer it. No sooner was the telephone put down than Mark, from Holly’s, appeared at the door like magic with the switches. He is also assessed me for a chin control for the day when my arms no longer work. While he was fixing the switches to the chair, Harriet, the boss of Ross Nursing-‘s whose offices are just round the corner, arrived with one of her nice young nurses, Louise, as a response to our request for Continuing Care.

They proved to be wonderfully accommodating and seemed to be prepared to work to our desired timetable rather than times to suit them. They will start tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m.I’m so pleased that at last ‘my lovely’, who has struggled on so manfully and bravely for the past year, at last, will be relieved of much of her anxiety.

‘Jane the sheep’ came at lunchtime and, amongst other things, massaged my hands and stretched my arms, as she has done over several months,. Maybe I can get the continuing care nurses to doing this on the days when Jane doesn’t come in order to keep my joints mobile and the fluid in my hands to a minimum.

After all the medical staff I thought the reader deserves some diversion. This first video, (click on the URL below) although little long (about 16 min.) is so well worth watching from a human relationship point of view and recognising the old boy (Uncle Jack) as redolent of the many thousands of young heroes /heroines who served in both world wars and are today still fighting on our behalf in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For the real aircraft buffs amongst you I can recommend looking at the other videos which show up when you click on to this one. They have a special meaning to me as I was flying 50 years ago, in Australia, with the good Dr Michael and his crop spraying brother, David. My first lessons were in.a little Gypsy Moth-whose wings we used to fold to put it away into the garage at night-then onto a Tiger Moth and finally onto an Auster Autocar. We flew all over the place, including one intrepid trip from Melbourne right across the centre of Australia (the ‘Great Bugger All’ as it is affectionately known in Australia) beyond Alice Springs to Tenants Creek. No radio and a rather dicky fuel gauge which meant that we had to carry a calibrated bamboo stick to dip into the petrol tank as we flew along to see how close we were to empty. This was a little more complex than you might think as we had to carry out this performance in mid-air, so to speak. It meant opening the door and whichever one of us was flying at the time (usually Mick) would have to unscrew the petrol cap, dip the stick and then bring it back into the cabin and close the door. If we were then empty, or close to it, whoever was sitting on the backseat (usually me) would then have to siphon petrol from a 4 gallon you and you and drum again through the open door into the tank to keep us going until we could find the fuel dump the been there for us in the ‘Great Bugger All’ I recall, one occasion, with Mick leaning out to perform this task when he came back asking rather apprehensively whether or not he had his spectacles or at the time because they certainly were there when his head came back into the cabin!. I have a number of flying tales to tell but not now, let these true heroes speak for themselves first..



5 May 2011

Posted by DMC on 6 May 2011 in Diary |

I think we made a mistake with the ladies from Continuing Care. Although we were ready at 7.30 they didn’t appear, I can only think that we misunderstood the arrangement. No doubt it will be sorted out today..

The second mistake was over lunch. I was due to have lunch with a friend at the Cricketers, next door. (No names no pack drill!). 12.30 came but no friend, so ‘my lovely’ dressed me up in my cloak and hat and wheeled me round to the pub thinking perhaps he expected to meet me there. As the weather forecast had promised a sunny day I had booked a table outside where I was parked in my wheelchair. Having furnished me with a small cigar ‘ my lovely’ rushed back to the house to ring my missing friend – no reply. Back she came by which time it was raining so we made our apologies to the pub and I was wheeled home. 10 min or so after I had been settled back in my study chair-with the help of our new neighbour Luke – who is back building his new bungalow – and then my friend arrived, covered in embarrassment, shamefully admitting that he had completely forgotten about our appointment. We assured him that it couldn’t matter less. We have all done it, even before we got old and dippy. I remember once arranging to play golf with two different people on the same day, in, error,and arriving on the first tee to see them both before I realised my mistake. I had no choice but to suggest they played together and I went home.

Alice met one of the new Continuing Care nurses in the local shop and it seems that they are unlikely to start until tomorrow evening-something to do with completing the paperwork, so it means calling on Barry again for the evening run.

The Americans have now decided that the 99.9% certainty about who they shot is now 100%, it was Bin Laden. However, they have decided that they were not show the world any photographs of the body, which naturally makes people very suspicious. Presumably the head was too badly damaged by the gunshot wound and site of their leader in such a state might inflame the Muslim population. The whole business as to why they shot an unarmed man and where on earth were all the guards who were earlier engaged in the gun battle with the Americans prior to the them entering Bin Laden’s bedroom, is all a little bit of a mystery. There is now a big row erupting as to whether they infringed Bin Ladin’s human rights when they’ gently dropped these newly washed body into the sea’ without first informing his relatives!

I know I said we would have no more royal wedding material but the following video was sent to me on the grounds that it was inspirational concerning creation and all the good things in life. In order to redress the balance of my recent comments about evolution and atheism I offer all those readers of mine who are believers this rather mushy video. Be sure your speakers are on.



6 May 2011

Posted by DMC on 7 May 2011 in Diary |

to look at the following video but don’t let it stop you having the odd drink! So. Cclick on the URL below and move the beer to the right. This has to be one of the cheapest dietary tips you will ever get!







7 May 2011

Posted by DMC on 8 May 2011 in Diary |

Last night was the first when our Continuing Care ladies were on parade. In fact, it was just Harriet who helped Alice to get me onto my frame and I walked through to the bedroom and went through the usual process of getting undressed etc. despite me being slightly apprehensive – I hate change – it all went fairly smoothly and I’m sure we will soon get into a routine. Harriet came again this morning with a nurse, Sam, and they put me into the commode chair which was used for its normal purpose and then I was move mouse down three lines showered in it. By the time they came at 7.45 I was up having had my breakfast, cleaned my teeth and been shaved.

I think the process is going to go something like this. After the morning session somebody will come in at lunchtime to help me onto my frame (or when I can still use my legs, hoist me up) and after my walk I will go into my electric wheelchair. If it is a fine day I shall go out but otherwise sit in it until someone appears around six o’clock for an evening walk (or hoist), then back into my comfortable lounge chair where I should stay until the evening team arrives, hopefully at around 10 p.m. There will be days when the routine varies slightly, for example, when I go to golf on Tuesdays, but Harriet seems very flexible, so I think we should be able to work things out satisfactorily.

Yesterday I received the delightful e-mail from one of my past students, Christine Wong, who acted as my guide on my last trip to China when I went to Inner Mongolia it was here that I rode both camels and horses into the famed grasslands. I was the only foreigner present, it being near the end of the tourist season. When we went into lunch I met a group of Chinese civil servants enjoying one of their government holidays, feasting in a yurt (a round Mongolian tent). They invited me to join them but the only language we appeared to share was downing glass after glass of wine. Each and every one of the party was determined to drink wine with me and it is insulting to them if you do not drain your glass. At the end of the meal we went out to watch the Mongolian wrestling. At which stage, well under the influence of the Mongolian wine, to the obvious delight of those assembled, I threw out a challenge to any other 73-year-old present . Thank goodness they saw me for the silly old fool I was and nobody offered to wrestle with me.

In her e-mail Christine, addressing me as ‘Dear Respectful Professor’ and was kindly asking after my health and sent me a couple of photographs of places we visited during my trip. This was the last of 10 trips around China which I always built into my lecture commitment and, as a result, travelled to most of the populated extremities of this fascinating country. I have lots of wonderful videos of my trips which unfortunately I doubt whether I will now ever be able to make into DVDs, as I had intended so must leave this to the next generation. My Chinese students have always been wonderfully attentive and respectful as they still seem to value the supposed wisdom of old age.

The big excitement nationally is the result of the recent council and district elections plus the all-important referendum on the Alternative Voting method. As I predicted the outcome was strongly against change, something like 68% voted to keep things as they are, which I am pleased about. As to the council elections, the Labour Party made very substantial gains, 681 new councillors with the Liberal Party being decimated, losing not only roughly the same number of councillors but also control of a number of Councils. The Conservatives mostly held their own which I suppose from Cameron’s point of view was a really good result in view of all the cuts they are making. The virtual annihilation of the Lib Dems was fairly predictable due to the coalition with the Conservatives but what worries me is that, if and when, there is a general election, if the same thing happens the likelihood is that someone who previously voted for the Lib Dems will vote Labour forgetting the appalling financial mess that the last Labour government left us in. Let’s hope I’m wrong and by then the coalition will have got the country back on its feet and the Conservatives will reap the benefit.






8 May 2011

Posted by DMC on 9 May 2011 in Diary |

I had a bit of a fright last night eating my supper. Something ‘went down the wrong way’ as they say and I choked and choked for the best part of an hour before I cleared the obstruction. It was quite frightening and I hope that this is not a sign that my throat muscles are beginning to weaken. I know that swallowing can become a difficulty with MND patients.

I shall speak to Dr Chris Allen, my next assessment, as to whether one of their suction machines would be sensible for me to keep on hand when I am eating

We did our own thing in the early morning following our old routine but I did not attempt to walk into the bathroom for a shower. I believe the caring proper may start early next week, once the paperwork is being completed, and then I suppose the carers will take over from Alice, even in the morning. In the meantime apparently we are paying for it ourselves.

We are extremely lucky in the proximity of both the main office for Ross Nursing – no more than 100 yards or so away – where there is an office staff of eight, and both Harriet and Sam live no more than three quarters of a mile away. In effect, at present, we only need them to get me out of the chair onto my frame and after that I can then walk- after a fashion – into the bedroom and be undressed and put to bed by ‘my lovely’ in the normal way. However, as the idea is to give Alice a break, at this stage, she merely points out what routine we have established so they can adopt it. Harriet is terribly conscientious and comes herself at present to supervise whichever nurse who has been allocated to us.

.As I had hoped, Bill and Ben, who came mid-morning to fit sides onto the ramps and do a few other jobs, helped me up onto my frame around lunchtime to give me a short walk and Harriet popped in in the evening for the same purpose. This, after they hoiked me into my electric wheelchair to enable me to test my prowess in going up the ramp to the outside and back. Then I had intended to try driving me chair straight into the study up to my desk to see if I would be able to operate my laptop from the it After all a lot of disabled people are put straight into their wheelchair from their bed and spend the entire day in it so I do not see why I shouldn’t try, at least, using it from lunchtime until the six o’clock walk Then, on those warm sunny days I can take advantage of going outside of my own. The problem today was there appeared to be something wrong with the battery and the wheelchair just simply would not move after the first few yards, so I shall have to get the people who rent them out to the NHS to come here tomorrow to see what is the trouble. I am very much hoping that the chair will be up and running by Wednesday when my mother and Richard are being driven down from Church Stretton, Shropshire, to have lunch with us, hopefully in the garden.

Harriet came around 6.00 to give me my evening walk and then at 930, a nice new nurse, Paula – in fact someone we have known for many years – came with Harriet to help me through to the bedroom. So the new routine begins.                                    
Yesterday I recounted how I had been riding camels and horses in the grasslands of Mongolia. When I received the following pictures from one of my pals in the USA, I recalled an incident with an elephant, which happened to us, in the Kruger National Park, South Africa in 1964. The following photographs are reminiscent of that incident but, on that occasion we were fortunate enough to be able to drive away before the charging elephant reached us. I had heard from someone else that if the elephant is really angry he can pierce your car with its tasks. The following photographs were taken on Thursday, Feb. 17, this year by someone from Centurion in Pilanesberg game reserve/,South Africa. The guy in the white Volkswagen was only trying to get past the elephant but the elephant wasn’t having any of it.



9 May 2011

Posted by DMC on 10 May 2011 in Diary |

Last evening the good Dr Michael Skyped me from his Swedish home in Loa. It was lovely to see him on my laptop particularly as he was sitting in what was my bedroom/study when I last stayed with him. Sweden is particularly beautiful at this time of year and no more so than where he lives overlooking a beautiful lake surrounded by tall pine forests.

Harriet came with Sam for the early morning shower and dressing, by which time I had already had my breakfast, clean my teeth and been shaved by ‘my lovely’. We are already beginning to fall into some sort of routine.

Mid-morning Kay and Tony Dunn dropped into a coffee. (They very kindly brought me a punnet of delicious English strawberries). For many years, Kay lived in an adjacent village, Berden, in The Old Kings Head, with her previous husband, who sadly died. Her two boys, Tom and Mark, were friends of my son Smiler when they were in their teens. Now they are both married with children of their own and we still have the pleasure of seeing them and their new families here from time to time. Just after Kay and Tony left, Barbara, from Ross Nursing, popped in to give me my lunchtime walk. Then, ‘Jane the sheep’ came to babysit me. after massaging the fluid from my hands stretching my arms, staying for a couple of hours to allow Alice to go shopping

The evening walk was supervised by Harriet and yet another nice young carer, Becky, who saw me to the point of sitting on my bed after which Harriet left and Becky did the necessary to get me into bed. Literally, the only drawback to the whole performance each day is a fact that they put into bed at 930 which is just half an hour earlier than I would wish to go. It may be later on that we will change is to 9 o’clock and I will watch something on my laptop for an answer before I go to sleep. She and understand I assume this will be the procedure for as long as I am able to shuffle through on my frame after which they will no doubt hoist me from my study chair into wheelchair and take me through that way.

For those readers who are not particularly interested in the minutiae of the medical details I apologise about these last few days of boring entries but as the initial objective of this blog was to assist people in a similar position to myself, I just want those fellow sufferers to understand how we are managing and, who knows, some of our ideas may be useful to them. I must say the latest aid which we have found most useful are the feet straps which lift up my toes so do not drag on the ground when I walk. What is so good about them is that once I’m sitting down they can be unclipped but left in place and then re-clipped when I need to walk again.

The other apology I need to make concerns the lack of the pictures of the elephants that I referred to in my entry yesterday. I really don’t understand it, as they appear in the initial hardcopy before I cut and pasted it into the blog and then they become little boxes with red crosses in them. Never fear, I will sort this out in the elephants will be there shortly.



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