Monday, 30 August 2010

Dreams and Reality

I have just been playing with the settings and design of my blog - I'm a Gemini and therefore like changing things just because I can...  I looked at the title of my blog 'Dreams and Reality' and thought back to the reason I called it that in the first place.   

At the time, September 2009,  I had just finished a year at home on my own, the last time Mr H. lived in Scotland for a year.  I was feeling liberated, self-discovered and open to the idea of climbing out of the rut.  I had signed up for OU and had probably just received my first pack of course materials; I was dreaming about the future....

Now, almost 12 months on, what are my Dreams and Realities?   

In my original post, I didn't mention Mr H. (since this is my blog, not his), but he is just starting to live his dream, the result of 3 years hard study - today is his first day working for Forestry Commission Scotland in Forest Management.  

My plans have moved on from studying Criminal Psychology to straight Psychology, "so that I have more choices in my new career" I tell myself.  I have my study path planned and all I have to do now is get the marks. Although I do not now feel so definite about leaving my current job, it's more a case of having choices.

The dream of moving up to Scotland.... well Mr H. and I were sitting on the verandah here one sunny evening this year, and we agreed that we never wanted to sell this house.  As he put it, he's "not finished with Lymington yet" and the reality is that we feel that we belong here.  A second house in Scotland is more likely to be on the agenda; in effect we now have that with the apartment he is renting.

My current reality of being stuck on crutches for months was not on my list of Dreams... but no experience is wasted.  It has brought to my attention all the things we take for granted, and when I am back on both feet I hope that I will make the most of it and not slip too quickly back into my old routines.

The one thing I have learned is that dreams and reality are both ever-changing: as one dream becomes a reality another should step up to take its place.

Worth the aching afterwards!

Yesterday I had a few hours out of the house with friends, which I really enjoyed.  It was the christening of my friend from work's 2 year old; in Mr H's absence my best friend came as my escort so picked me up at 9.30; I was testing out 'real trousers' for the first time (I have been living in soft jersey track trousers) and found them comfortable despite my lopsided-sized hips. The car park for the church is just around the corner and I said 'yes I'm fine walking, no need to drop me at the door'. 

First realisation - how frustratingly slow it is walking on crutches (I've only done it around the house really) when other people are noticeably dawdling to keep at the same speed.

The church was really full and we sat with other friends from work and made disparaging comments about the length of some of the congregations' skirts (very short) and wondered what the job of the lad in the long, heavy white cassock was?  (standard bearer and candle-lighter, we decided).   The christening all went well, nobody drowned.

Second realisation - church pews are not comfortable even with a cushion, they are too narrow front to back; I decided to stand up for the hymns to give The Leg some variety of discomfort.

After the hour's service my best friend G was 'gasping for a cuppa', so we stopped at my house for half an hour; also to let Django out and use The Facilities - we knew that tea and toilets might be difficult to come by at the christening party!    The party was held in a field at the grandparents' farm. Marquees had been erected and tables and chairs put out, and a whole home-grown lamb was roasting on a spit; adults stood and drank and chatted, while their small offspring ran around and played with hay bales, toy tractors and real digger buckets.  The rain mostly held off and it was a lovely, relaxed gathering.  We scoffed roast lamb and salad, and cupcakes and Mars Bar & cornflake cakes, and chatted and laughed.

Third realisation - I can drink two glasses of white wine & lemonade and still walk on crutches.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Blogging Whys and Wherefores

A friend and I touched on the problems of blogging last night. Well, not the problems of blogging so  much as the problem of having to be careful what you write sometimes because of the people you know will read it.  I agreed that this sometimes means that you repress what you are wanting to write, so that you don't upset a partcular person, prompt unwanted reactions, or let a cat out of a bag.

It would be easier to be totally anonymous and be sure that the only people who read your blog were complete strangers, but in reality we want our friends and family to read them, don't we?   I have a link to my blog from my Facebook page, I want my friends to read it so a) they get to know a bit more about me and b) so that I don't have to repeat myself individually to them when they want an update or wonder how I'm feeling (it usually needs more than a 20 word status can accommodate!),

Occasionally, however, I want to vent on some subject which I would not want certain people to read, because.... well it might be an instantaneous annoyance which just needs airing to get it out of the system, which will then be taken as something more permanent; or it's a subject on which I don't want to start a long discussion but which I know that is what it will cause.

So this kind of begs the question:  Why do you blog...?

I'm not currently sure of my own answer to that one, except for the obvious reason that it gets my thoughts 'down on paper' which is therapeutic.

How about you?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Six senses

As inspired by fellow blogger Carol on Not Only In Thailand, here are a few moments exploring the senses....

I can see...
my work laptop scrolling through its 'Keep Calm and Carry On' screensaver
my new orange folding crutches
a photo of Django aged 2 at Penmynydd (the in-laws house)
strings of get well cards
my sketching pad and pencils (under-used)
the record deck Mr.H bought for my birthday
Mr H.'s ukelele
a large stack of notelets and writing paper and my pencil case
a photo of me sailing
the tree and the roof of the Gilbern on the drive outside Base Camp window

I can hear...
traffic on the road
Mr H. upstairs moving things around
my laptop humming
Django moaning as he stretches in his sleep
my long fingernails on the keys

I can feel...
the weight and warmth of the laptop on my lap
my leg aching at the top and bottom of my femur, where the screws are
my cool feet

I can smell...
nothing! except the ever-present faint aroma of 'Dog'.

I can touch...
the smooth fabric of my track bottoms (the only thing that is comfortable)
the familiar keys of my laptop
the scottish thistle ring that Mr H. wears, but that I have purloined to wear while he is away
the softness of the duvet under me (I am lying on my bed)
my scar through fabric as I absent-mindedly massage it

I can taste...
orange juice and tea from breakfast

An interesting exercise in concentration, relaxation and noticing the surroundings.. try it!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Regrets and smiles

My late aunt Sue, my mother's sister, was an amazing woman; sadly I didn't discover this until after her death a couple of years ago when I heard her life story, delivered emotionally by her younger brother at her funeral.   Sue suffered for the last 15+ years of her life from the crippling rheumatoid arthritis, and yet my over-riding memories of her are that she was always cheerful, and she never talked about it. She always wanted to talk about what we were doing, hear the news and she loved a good chatty letter.  An enquiry 'how are you?' was invariably met with the reply 'But tell me what you've been up to!'

In her youth Sue travelled and did things that were considered outrageously risky for a single woman alone abroad (and probably still would be now); she had what was called 'spunk' in those days.  On her return to the UK she was secretary to a bishop (or something similar) and worked at Southwark Cathedral for many years, which included meeting the Queen.  Sue was always terribly sensible and very organised, and being the eldest child I imagine she was rather bossy; however I can't help thinking that she harboured an inner spark.

I always had respect for Sue, and when I heard the stories about her adventures I so wished I'd known about them when she was alive, so I could have asked her about them.  Still, thinking about her makes me smile at her strength and character.

I was reminded of her over the last couple of weeks, because I can now totally sympathise with her desire to talk about anything other than herself and her situation. When you are immobilised and can't just go out without the aid of others, life seems terribly dull; and you live with your limitations, pain and difficulties every day, so don't want to talk about them when you have the chance for more interesting conversation.

When you talk to people on the phone or go out, or friends visit, more often than not you don't want to talk for more than the intitial 5 minutes about how you are feeling, or coping. What you want to talk about is what is happening in 'the outside world' and what your friends and family are doing; you want to catch up with the gossip and revel in other people's adventures.

I hope that I have inherited some of my aunt's outlook on life, and I will admit that I might have inherited some of my stubbon independence from her as well, in a good way of course....

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

More mind matters

This evening my mind seems to be a mass of rolling, conflicting, confusing, frustrating, loving, guilt-ridden, needy, independent, undulating emotions.

I don't know where to start with trying to sort out this knotted-up ball of elastic string.

I hereby turn off the light in the hope that the Angel of Clarity will visit me during the night....

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Mind matters

My body might be improving but my mind isn't...  I have less enthusiasm for work than I did 2 weeks ago, I just can't keep the concentration or interest levels up.  

My OU coursework is due to arrive in September for the 4th October start; lets hope the neurons start firing on more cylinders by then.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Things that go bump in the night

The first real feeling of helplessness came to me last night when I was woken with a start at 2am by a loud *bang*.   No noises followed it and I lay wondering whether it had happened or had I dreamt it?  Django came into my room to say hello but didn't seem perturbed so I took it that there wasn't a murderous intruder in the house.

Still I was relieved to find in the morning that a picture had fallen off the wall on the stairs, presumably dislodged by Mr H. moving furniture on Thursday!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Dead VW Transporter (optional)

Some people may be interested in these; others would not want to see them, so I have put them on a separate page. Photos of our previous VW Transporter after the crash and having had the roof removed to get me out:   Dead VW Transporter

Does she take sugar?

Just when I think things are settling down and I'm doing really well, someone sticks a spanner in my mental spokes.

This morning was two letters: one from my mother suggesting I could get home physio from the private practice in town if I wanted it.  This despite the fact that she knows I saw an NHS physio last week, who said I'm doing really well and that there are no extra exercises I can do until I can put weight on the leg.

The other was from mother in law worrying about me being on my own, and suggesting that my best friend could go shopping for me and maybe come and stay with me for a couple of weeks.

I know they are well meaning but it makes me feel like a) people don't listen to what I say, b) they listen to me but then think they know better, c) they know more about my body than I do and d) I'm an invalid with no common sense, intelligence or initiative. 

I get really angry about it, and then upset.  Maybe that reaction is a symptom of that PTSD.....??

Taster session and our new baby

Today I am starting a 3-day taster session of being at home alone, in preparation for Mr H. moving to Scotland next weekend.   Today he is driving up to his apartment in Dalrymple (Ayrshire) with his brother, to take up the large furniture; luckily he has a friend with a Transporter van so has borrowed that rather than having to hire one.   He'll be home on Sunday night so here I am alone!   Although today I will be barely alone as I have 3 friends visiting at various times including one who is taking me out this evening.

Some achievements of the last 12 hours, all things that until 27 June I'd taken for granted as easy, everyday tasks:
  • Hanging up the washing! we have one of those ceiling airing racks on a pulley. It was hard one-legged and one-handed, but possible!
  • Cooked tea for myself and Mr H. while he was out sorting out vans etc. Not difficult, but tiring.
  • Earlier in the afternoon I dyed my hair (no, the red isn't natural! that would be brown and grey); I thought rinsing it off would be tricky but managed it in the shower without turning myself and all the surroundings 'Red Passion'
  • I've asked a friend to take Django out for a walk tomorrow or Saturday!  OK it was easy for a one-off ask; I'm sure I'll get used to it...  Although he is an English Pointer and can run for miles, now he is 10 1/2 he does not need a long walk every day and we have plenty of garden for him to mooch around in, so every couple of days is fine.  Once I am better and fit again, he is going to get such long walks, it is the thing I miss the most.
Django asleep in the small sunny spot

Our new baby..
On Wednesday, Mr H. left at 5am to drive up to Wales to look at a Transporter van, and bought it; he will collect it next week.  Now that the market is flooded with these vehicles, we thought it would be easy to find a replacement for ours, but there is such a huge variation in configurations, options and modificiations that we discovered that they were either too basic or too expensive; or blinged excessively (they have become popular in the surfing culture). Hence the long drive to find a suitable one. Even so it has 20" alloys instead of the standard 16", which is a bit much for us, not to mention tyres at £200 each...!  so they will come off as soon as we can find a suitable replacement.

This one is manual gearbox, and has no rear seats at present but they can be added later if we want them.
Something our friends will notice is that it is the same colour as the previous one, purely coincidental.   We wondered if some people might think this odd and that we wouldn't want one the same colour, but in our minds it was our friend. It saved our lives and if anything it will be comforting and feel like a bit of normality has returned.
We will get back windows put in next year, otherwise I will have no idea how close I am to anything when parking!
Now, it is 8.30am so I supposed I'd better sort myself out some breakfast! ;-)

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Labels and Tears

In general, I don't like labels. I'm talking about labels in the psychology sense, not the supermarket sense. I feel that they give an impression that life is black and white, while everyone knows that it is several shades of grey (and blue and yellow and red on occasion).

Take PTSD.   Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The Royal College of Psychiatrists says that:

PTSD can start after any traumatic event. A traumatic event is one where we can see that we are in danger, our life is threatened, or where we see other people dying or being injured. Some typical traumatic events would be: 
  • serious accidents
  • military combat
  • violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, abuse, robbery, mugging)
  • being taken hostage
  • terrorist attack
  • being a prisoner-of-war
  • natural or man-made disasters
  • being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
Even hearing about an the unexpected injury or violent death of a family member or close friend can start PTSD.

This covers a huge variation of experiences and I find it hard to see them all lumped under one heading. How could I possibly equate my experience with that of someone who has been kept hostage or been through a terrorist attack? I find it hard enough to say that is was a serious accident, rather than your average run-of-the-mill sort, but undoubtedly it was because someone died (is that what labels it as 'serious'?)

But of course that's where the shades of grey come in; yes I am experiencing moments of anxiety, and irrational worry about things that 'might happen' to me or my loved ones, and I get tearful easily (all someone has to do is ask me how I'm coping...), but I don't throw myself to the floor when there is a large bang.

On the subject of getting tearful, all my friends know that I am prone to this anyway in emotional situations. One of the things I remember from the crash was that it happened on a Sunday evening, but there was no trace of any emotion or tears from me until the Tuesday morning when the ward doctor came to tell me that the other driver had died. I don't even know why I cried then, I didn't feel anything for her and I still don't; I had no idea how seriously she was injured and it was unexpected news that she had died, so I suppose I was shocked. I didn't feel any guilt because I knew it wasn't my fault. So why did it upset me?

Maybe it was just a reminder that it wasn't a minor accident, that actually it had changed someone's family's life forever, and maybe - that it was all so pointlessly... pointless.

The little things that spark big thoughts

The physical symptom that makes me think most about the crash is not my aching, can't-use-it leg, or the big scar on my knee; it's the stiffness and aching I still have in the middle joint of the 4th finger of my right hand some mornings when I wake up.   It is this that makes me try and remember the moments between knowing there was going to be an impact, and the few seconds later when we were stationary.

I have no recollection of the actual impact so I have to make it up in my head... for instance I imagine that my right hand hit the windscreen as it was stove in, as it had a lot of bruising and surface cuts; I had an injury on my inner right arm that was 3 semi-circles, and before it faded to a couple of small scars I tried to work out what part of the dashboard had done it.  I obviously hit the steering wheel really hard with my upper left side judging by the bruising.  But I have no recollection of any of this.

I suppose it is human nature to try and fill in the gaps, and  I think of it as all part of the process, but I also know that trying to remember is pointless as I never will.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Kind of following on from my last post, is there an official name for the opposite of hypochondriac?  One suggestion I've seen is 'hyperchondriac' but that isn't a word, just a miss-spelling.

If there is, then I think I am one.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Don't fuss...

I, notoriously, hate fuss.  Especially when it involves people fussing over ME, even when I've said that I need for nothing and am perfectly comfortable. 

So here is a warning:  as soon as I start saying "I'm FINE" that means shut up or you might get a crutch round the head ;-)

Fun down at the Sailing Club

We had such fun this afternoon, it was the annual Bath Race at our sailing club; just as it sounds, teams pay £5 entry for charity and race custom-modified domestic baths around a (very short) course in the river.  Our office had entered a team for the first time, despite talking about it numerous times in the past!

Some of the contestants waiting to start
After a dull morning, the sun managed to break through, lots of friends and general public had come down to see the baths and line the sea wall to watch the racing, and cheer on their team.   The event was sponsored by the Ringwood Brewery who had a mobile bar there; there were ice-creams and burgers too.

They're off!
There were about 15 teams and they race in different heats.  Unfortunately our team boat was rather slow but made up for it in looks!   The atmosphere along the sea wall, where we had managed to find ourselves a good vantage point, was relaxed and friendly; and we bumped into several friends unexpectedly which added to our enjoyment of the day.

'Free for all' race
At the end there was a 'free for all' race, during which carnage ensued (being the main aim of the race) with capsizes, sinkings, boardings of the opposition and general sabotage.   Our team was boarded and suffered complete inversion, but managed to paddle home upside down and finish the race!

They might have had one of the slowest boats, but team "Rating Bandits" did take away the prize for Best Looking Bath so we were all very proud!

Me and Mr H. at the sea wall watching the racing
It was a great afternoon out and I barely thought about my leg or whether it hurt :-)

Friday, 13 August 2010


Seeing that I was feeling morose about his impending departure, Mr H. asked me "Would you rather I moved to Scotland leaving you with a broken leg or a small child?"

Ok, it won't be that bad.

Caught unawares

I've been doing so well - being out in the car doesn't really bother me now, but today caught me by surprise when Mr H. came a different way home and drove down the A35 - the road we had the crash on. It wasn't the same stretch, we turned off before that, but it looks the same; and there were signposts to Holmsley which was the area we were in and that was in the news reports. I didn't expect to find tears running down my cheeks, but there they were.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Is it just age?

It's summer and for the yachting fraternity summer brings stories of parties and hangovers and rum and suchlike.

Short question: at what age do people stop boasting about how much they have drunk?

Having said that, I've never done it, so it can't just be an age thing.... 

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Feelin' gooooood!!

Today I am feeling great!  I can do anything!

Me doing the 'knee lift' exercise. This is as high at it goes.

This morning Mr H. took me to see the physio, thankfully the appointment was in our home town so we didn't have the 20 mile drive to Southampton.  I had been referred by the consultant to make sure I knew how to do toe-touch weight bearing properly; as it is I had done some in hospital so knew how to do it. But I also wanted to check that the exercises I was given by the hospital physio were still relevant, and get a review of my progress compared with what they would expect.

As soon as I hopped (!) up on to the examination bed he said "Wow, most people wouldn't be able to lift the leg onto the bed without helping it!"; I then showed him that I can lift the whole leg off the bed by at least a foot (something I hadn't actually tried before), and bend my knee to 90 degrees.  

He says my progress is definitely better than would be normal, so that has put a spring in my step for sure! :-)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Mind games

In an earlier blog (Trains of thought) I talked a bit about how I felt out on the road, as a passenger at the moment obviously, after the crash.  Each time I go out, I feel less worried; although I have yet to tackle any journey further than 20 miles.

I also find that scenes in films or TV programmes that involve car crashes increase my heart-rate, I can feel it happening; I get a strange feeling of panic.  It is short-lived but very palpable.  

And yet I can look at the photographs of our crash scene and of the Transporter after the event (Mr H. took several pictures) with only a slight twinge of emotion.   Others looking at them find them quite disturbing.

The psyche is a complex thing.

The basic of all basics

This morning I am thinking about knickers and wondering why so many of them have sharp edges.

Apart from the fact that knickers with narrow elastic at the top and legs never look particularly flattering on those of us over a size 8 (UK) - that is, the majority of the population - they are also not as comfortable as those with wide lace trim.   And when you throw a healing surgery scar into the equation it just exacerbates the issue - they dig in, irritate it and are generally uncomfortable.

"Ah, a G-string is the answer!" you might say (or maybe not, knowing who might be reading this...) but I severed my extremely brief relationship with G-strings more years ago than I can remember, for two reasons: 1. they are excruciatingly uncomfortable and 2. they look ridiculous with low-rise jeans on anyone over 18 (and even on 18 years olds it is questionable).

"Commando...?" yes on the odd occasion, but not for every day.

So, for the moment, there is no more buying a 5-pack of bikini style knickers, and I'm not going to fork out for individual pairs at £5 + each (yes I'm tight).    I will just make do with what I have until I can get back to Debenhams and avail myself of their 'any 5 pairs for £10' happy deal.

Monday, 9 August 2010

I know my memory's bad, but...

This evening Mr H. and I were lying on my bed watching a film and I thought "my leg is really comfortable, it doesn't feel like there's anything wrong with it"; and then I actually worried that I would forget it is broken and try and jump out of bed to get something or answer the phone... until I realised that as soon as I moved I would remember!

Touching my toes

This week I have progressed from 'hopping around with one foot 4" off the ground' to 'toe-touch weight bearing'.   This means that when I'm using the crutches I can rest the toes of my right foot on the floor, without putting any weight on it (yes I know, its name suggests you do).

You would think that this wouldn't make much difference, still effectively hopping right, since there is no weight bearing involved?   Wrong!   Just being able to rest my foot on the ground means that I am no longer lifting my hip to keep the foot clear; as my knee isn't very flexible I now realise I've been using my hip rather than bending my knee.  So, I am immediately feeling more balanced and because I am 'walking' with that foot it feels more normal.   Suddenly I feel as though I am making great leaps and bounds of progress just from this small change!

Suddenly I feel that I could walk round to the shop; cook myself dinner; colour my hair; hoover the kitchen floor, walk the dog... well ok not that!   but I feel a little bit less helpless, which has got to be a good thing.

And before you tell me to 'be careful and don't overdo it', no need. Just because I feel like I could do all these things doesn't mean that I will ;-)

Saturday, 7 August 2010

In the blood, to a limit

I come from a family of artists, and have inherited what I would call a sideline talent.   Most of the time I do not have the inspiration, imagination or self-confidence to do any art, but have the odd phase of enthusiasm. at which point people invariably say "Oh, I didn't know you drew / painted?!"  

While I was in hospital I was given a sketch book and some pencils so thought you'd like to see what I produced!  

This is the view I was very familiar with by the end of my 2 week stay in hospital!  I initially drew it to illustrate the different shapes of my knees... note the anti-embollism ('flight') socks, very sexy!

This is our little bear 'Hedgy' chilling out by the bottles of eldeflower cordial and apple & blackberry squash.  Hedgy is so named because he was rescued from a car park at Hedge End; presumably he had been dropped by a small child, I hope they would be pleased that he now has a kind, warm home.

This one I did after I was home and is the two wooden ducks on top of the bookcase. The larger one stands around 15" high; the smaller one was part of a prize I won for 1st place in the Novice's Race at my sailing club.

I keep looking at my sketching/painting box and thinking I really must get it out; if and when I do I shall post more pictures here!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Going against the grain

I know that this post is going to bring howls of protest (well it would if my friends read it!) but blogs exist to unburden ourselves and be honest, don't they.

Mr H. moves to Scotland to start work on the 30th August; he's agreed this now with his new boss so we have a fixed date whereas for the last few weeks it's been a 'moveable feast'.   Once he has gone, I am going to need my friends and parents to help me out with domestic stuff such as walking the dog, washing the sheets (and changing the bed), putting the bins out, shopping, picking vegetables, helping with cooking meals, giving me lifts, etc.

Now, me being a very independent person who hates to ask others for help, I am really going to struggle with this!  However many times people say they are happy to help, in my mind I will be imposing on them.  Also, I think that so many people make empty offers throughout ones life, that you never really take them seriously... I suppose a situation like this sorts out the real friends from the fake ones. 

Anyway the upshot is that I am going to have to re-educate myself to ask for help; and more importantly, ACCEPT IT!  If I don't I will have the wrath of Mr H. to deal with when he finds out that I have been struggling to do things that I shouldn't.

You never stop learning in this life, or having to adapt to new situations; and actually I will be doing my friends a favour, because helping me out will ultimately make them feel GOOD (because I don't believe that altruism exists); so now I just need to convince myself of that!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

An evening in Cowes

Last night I went for my first real outing, over to Cowes on the Isle of Wight for a cocktail party, during Cowes Week.   It felt like quite an adventure!  

We drove to Southampton (which I found rather stressful because the traffic was heavy and quite stop-start and erratic, which I dislike at the best of times!) and took the Red Jet hi-speed ferry; as soon as we arrived at the ferry terminal I started to feel a little panicky, especially when I saw that there was a huge queue waiting for the ferry. It is always busy during Cowes Week.  

Well we got the tickets, and by the time we came out most of the queue had dispersed onto the boat that had just come in.   They have no special arrangements for people in wheelchairs, so we just joined the queue and that was the point at which I thought 'I don't want to do this'. It was partly the stress of getting there, and partly the knowledge that I was going to get a lot of attention on the other side, as it was the first time I'd seen most of the people at the party since the accident.  However, while we were shuffling forward in the queue, Mr H. spotted a friend of mine who was also coming over, a happy, bubbly girl, and she sat with us and really saved my evening, as I had recovered my composure and cheered up by the time we arrived in Cowes.

Wheelchair arrangements on the Red Jet were - basically - non existent.  We were advised to wheel it on backwards whereas forwards was a lot easier; then there was the question of where to park me. The only place we could find was right at the front where the rows are a bit shorter so there is space for my little wheelchair on the end of the row.   On the return journey, one of the staff started moving luggage to make a space in the luggage rack for me!  It was as if they never had passengers in wheelchairs, maybe they always go on the big ferry with a car? (the Red Jet is foot passengers only).  But even so we were surprised.

I read a blog recently by a lady who had evidently recently had head surgery and was talking about how people stare at people in wheelchairs.  Not in my experience: they are more likely to ignore you!  People walk directly towards you and leap out of the way at the last minute; stand in the way until you say 'excuse me', bump into you.    Maybe I should put a comment on her blog suggesting that the staring was not because she was in a wheelchair, but because she had a large white bandage on her head!

The party was good, the sun came out after a cloudy, wet afternoon, and it was lovely to see the girls from my office and the staff from our head office; everyone was really pleased to see me out and about, which made me realise how much they had probably been worried about me and not quite knowing what state I was in.   I also realised that when sitting in a wheelchair and chatting to mostly girls, you are sitting with your head at breast height, which is rather off-putting in a conversation; when I mentioned this, Mr H. promptly wanted to swap places with me!

By the end of all the sitting up and a bit of standing on crutches, my leg had developed the tight band around it, which feels a bit like a giant jubilee clip being tightened; and my knee and hip were sore and aching.  My body was very grateful to fall into bed at around 10pm, but I did feel good for having gone out and experienced more of real life and what it felt like in my current state - as one friend put it, a 'fact finding research trip'!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Trains of thought

A few things that have run through my head while either thinking about driving, or being out in the car:

"I'm nervous,
but it's ok, the accident didn't happen at traffic lights
or in the dark
or at a junction.
But listen to yourself
Statistically what are the chances of exactly the same thing happening again...?"

"White trucks.
Don't need to worry about the other vehicles.
But it's not the vehicles you need to worry about
It's the drivers.
Well I won't be meeting her again, at any rate."

More old dogs and new tricks

I have never been an A grade student academically; all through my O-levels, A-levels and various evening courses I have always achieved B or C grades.    I do have a vague recollection of getting Distinction in one of my violin exams in my teenage years, but I can't remember which one.

So when I received my result for the first year of my Open University study this morning it felt all the better to find I had achieved Grade level 1 - Distinction - with 88% overall for my first 6 assignments and 86% for my final 'exam' assignment, even more so because this last was marked by a different tutor.  

All the way through the course I have somehow felt like some kind of fraud as I got yet another 80+ mark for an assignment; surely this can't mean me?   I am just coming to terms that maybe I CAN actually do this, just as I told myself 18 months ago when I decided that if Mr.H could do a degree in his 40s then I damn well could as well!

I can't wait for my Year 2 pack to arrive in September, "Exploring Psychology", something to really get my teeth into.  Still I can't help thinking that my good grades were just because it was the 'easy' first year and from now on it will be different... but I am looking forward to trying to prove myself wrong!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


Today the in-laws are coming to visit for the day, and I dreamt about tidying up!  

In reality they are not 'those sort' of in-laws, you know the type that run their fingers through the dust.   No, mine are lovely and won't be at all bothered by the comfortable mess that is Base Camp.  They will come bearing cake and smiles and not expect us to go to any bother.

Monday, 2 August 2010

It's a thin line....

Where does one draw the line between being caring friends, and stating-the-obvious advice?  

It is 5 weeks since the crash, and I've been home for nearly 3 of those. I have discovered my limitations, and am living by them; occasionally something more comes up so I have to compensate for it by resting before or after it. I am 44 years old, female, sensible, and in the vein of a witness statement, "I consider myself to be an intelligent human being."  Yet friends still feel that they have to tell me to be careful, or take it easy; or not do to much or see too many people, in case I tire myself out.  Do they not trust me to know my limits or take responsibility for myself?

I keep telling myself that it's because people care, but I can't help that little bubble of irritation welling up... maybe I need to calm down and not overdo it; emotion can be terribly tiring.