My journey from 59 to ………

Archive for the tag “caring”

This girl can …… And does!!!

I’ve just changed my profile picture on Facebook to this: 
I made this up a little while ago and it was used by This Girl Can, build displayed in shopping centres!
Now, though, it’s been more relevant to me as I’ve bent, I’ve certainly bent, but I have NOT broken!
It’s been a strange couple of months. I think the kidney stone episode affected me more than I realised.
My way of being positive is to drive forward through all obstacles blasting them out of the way to create a path.
Unfortunately when the path of any vehicle is muddy, with water filled pits and mounds of loose debris the strain put on the engine can cause it to start to struggle. If it is not given the right treatment it can overheat, burn out and stop working.
This happened to me at the end of 1992 or early 1993, I don’t know the exact date.
Ray had his stroke on 30/11/88, my mum died in August 1992, I kept pushing forward until one day I pulled the quilt over my head and didn’t want to come out.
So I know what depression is! I was diagnosed with ‘reactive’ depression, took some wonderful tablets that anaesthetised me until I worked out the problem (I’d lost ‘me’) and the remedy (find somewhere I could go on my own and not have any demands made on me, for me this was going back to doing my family tree).
Why am I talking about this? Because I was driving along recently, found my eyes had started to leak (crying is active, this was passive) and realised that I was on the verge of slipping into depression again.
People say that you cannot cure depression by telling somebody to pull themselves together.
BUT ……. you can tell yourself that! And, for me that is the only thing that works!
I had lost my way. It’s been a long haul with problems with my knee followed by the kidney stone to say nothing about the issues surrounding being a carer!
Ray had been hiding all the medical appointments from me. Once I found out we ended up with loads of appointments that I had to take him to and support him through. He hates things like that so it was not easy! It also meant I had to spend a lot more time at home :-/
My nutrition’s been rubbish, I’ve hardly trained, my emotions have been all over the place and I’ve been kidding myself about all sorts of things.
BUT …….. that doesn’t mean I have to stay there!
Reaching that moment was good for me! Time to tackle everything, I’m not good at doing a bit at a time!
Because I feel sorry for Ray, and for some totally ridiculous, inexplicable reason I feel guilty about his stroke (!?!) I tend to let him get away with stuff. There is a feeling (that I’m sure we both have) that we are stuck in this situation. Well we are if we want to keep living here but we do not have to and there could be alternatives! After I spelled that out very clearly there has been some improvement. Ray has even made me a few cups of coffee! Things are far from perfect but I gave toughened up and I’m not being quite such a doormat!
I talked the issues through with Darryl, personal trainers really go through it!, and we came up with a plan. He decided to give me a new program (if I’d tried to continue with my last one I’d have been fed up because I wouldn’t have been as good) but that it would only contain things that I liked!!!
This has really worked!
I never write my program in the blog but I’m going to just this once!
Dynamic warm up

4×8 bench press

4 mins rowing, 10 fast then 10 recovery strokes

4×12 walking lunges holding a ViPR overhead

3×20 kettlebell snatches

4×8 seated cable row

4 mins boxing ‘beat up the bag’

4×8 leg press

3×20 rope slams
I love it! Most are now being done with heavier weights / more reps or sets. Only shall problem has been the lunges, my knees are not very keen and I need them for my walking so we will be talking about this!
I’m alternating the program with walking. I used to walk a lot, but that stopped when the knee was bad. I’m now getting back into it though, but not in trainers, in substantial walking boots!
Well, as you know I’ve been acting as a ‘misper’ for the search dogs for about a year but I now want to take that a stage further and I’ve joined Essex Search and Rescue. Look them up on Facebook!

Everybody’s heard of Mountain Rescue, but people aren’t so aware of Lowland Rescue who operate over much of the country. Everybody is a volunteer but they undergo thorough training and have to pass an annual fitness test …… now do the boots make sense?

Don’t tell them but the fitness won’t be a problem, the first aid should be fine, but the navigation may be a bit of a challenge! Although I’ve always managed to achieve anything I’ve really wanted to do so it should be fine!

So, I’m tackling the issues, regaining control, the engine us purring nicely and I’m moving forward nicely 🙂


Oh. The nutrition. Hmm.

Well, it’s improving ….. maybe I can do things a bit at a time after all 😃


A Multiple Sclerosis reminder :-(

Best weather of the year so far, and where am I? Lying on the bed, head raised because it’s the only place that I feel safe!

Everything seems to have calmed down at the moment, as long as I don’t move, so I thought I’d try and write down what’s been happening and how it makes me feel while I can and while I remember. I seem to have the ability to push these thoughts away and forget about them very quickly hence doing it now.

What is she on about you may wonder?

I didn’t feel took good when I got up this morning. Nothing I could put my finger on but I knew I wasn’t right. Thought it may be my cold (had that for about a week) and being overtired so I put my sensible head on (it only comes out occasionally) and sent my apologies to the meeting I was due to attend. 

I took the morning very gently, had a proper breakfast and took my time doing everything. I needed to get some shopping and wanted to train so gathered my stuff together and set off. 

Went to Rayleigh, got a few bits, then off to the gym. 

As soon as I entered the changing room I knew I wasn’t right and decided to leave. Back to the car and on to Sainsbury’s. 

Once I’d parked I got a shopping trolley and used that to help me as I walked across the car park. Do you remember me saying about needing something to ‘ground’ me? Well this time it was a trolley not a leaf!

I got all my shopping, as long as I was holding the trolley I was fine. A couple of times I let go and was disorientated but it wasn’t too bad. 

Sitting down I was fine, drove home without any problems, but as soon as I got out of the car I knew it was getting worse. 

Grabbed most of the shopping (not all the bottles of water!), straight past Ray, frozen stuff away, fridge stuff left on the side and straight to bed! 

[just changed position, sat up more, and had to wait 5 minutes for the world to stop moving before continuing 😠 ]

How to describe what is happening?

Well it is probably called vertigo.

I rarely drink and I do not like being drunk. I get motion sickness. I do not like fairground rides.  This is like all of those wrapped together!

Our house is set up with grab able surfaces everywhere so the journey to the bathroom’s relatively easy but the worst moments by far were the first two trips to the loo. I was sat there, holding on to the grab rail with all my strength whilst the whole room rotated and I was praying I wouldn’t be thrown to the floor. As this is all accompanied by a dodgy stomach this isn’t good news!

Caring for Ray, who I reckon is also on the autistic spectrum, meant I had to give him his shower part way through all this, but I now know he can wash his own feet!

He has, apart from that & getting me to make him coffee and food, been really sweet, even offering to lend me his quad stick!

Every time I moved it needed to be done slowly to try and stop the spinning. 

Gently lying down was fine, but if I closed my eyes the ‘helicoptering’ started 😦

It’s now about eight hours since the worst stage started and I’m feeling quite a bit better but not 100% yet. 

I decided to write this because I have this tactic of ignoring things I don’t like which means I can’t remember what has happened and the symptoms. 

This is exactly how the first MS attack affected me. Then it was scary because I didn’t know what it was. Now it’s scary because I do!!!!!!! I’m probably going to have a problem going to sleep tonight as I’ll be worried about which bits of me may decide not to work in the morning. This is the worst episode I’ve had in a long time …….. And it WILL be a one off!!!!!

So why did it happen?

I’ve probably been doing far too much over the last few weeks. 

The night before I  over reacted to something I’d normally take in my stride. 

I’ve been eating rubbish!!!!!

The weather suddenly got much warmer. 

I’ve had a stinking cold. 

Could be one, all, or none of the above! 

Whatever it is I want it gone by the morning as I’ve got a training session with Darryl and then I’m having my hair done!!!!

I’ve just realised that’s why I don’t like walking on uneven ground, it’s the same sensation!!!!

Felt loads better this morning.  Went to train with Darryl, doing the only sort of cleaning I do – barbell strength work, love it! 

After posting about this on Facebook a friend (who is also a personal trainer) suggested I watch this:


OMG! That could have been me saying that, all be it in a much simpler, less scientic way! 

This is how Darryl has encouraged me to eat for years now, and for years I have been well. 

I’ve just had the worst food intake period for years …… and I was ill!

If that doesn’t act as an incentive to get back on track I don’t know what will!!!!!

Discharge day!

Ray was finally discharged from hospital today. He’s really pleased to be home and very positive that he will never drink again. A positive start!

I don’t think the problems will start up again for a little while. At the moment the memory of how ill he was is very fresh. I think the danger will be that in a couple of weeks he may think one or two drinks would be OK and they wouldn’t. Lets hope I’m wrong and he sails through this!

We didn’t sail through the discharge though.

When I arrived at the hospital I knew I may have to wait a long time and was happy to do so, chatting to Ray.

I’d rung that morning to explain Ray’s glucose monitor had broken and the nurses were organising a replacement for him. When I arrived I told them we also needed some of the glucose shots in case he had a hypo.

One of the nurses was very helpful and went all over the hospital and found all of that for us.

The doctor arrived to do the discharge paperwork and I explained the glucose meter and the test strips we’d need as well as the glucose stuff. I gave him them tubes of glucose so he could order them, and never saw them again 😦

A very helpful nurse on his previous ward had told me all the things I’d need to make sure I got when he was discharged and I was working my way through it, not appreciated by the nurse I was asking! “Who gave you that list?”

The district nurses told me the referral was late for that night’s injection and as I’d been shown how to use the pen a couple of times I said we’d probably be ok tonight and that they’d come in the morning. I made sure I took their contact number though, and I’m very glad I did!

I was given a huge bag of medicines but when I asked for the discharge letter and drug list I was told they couldn’t print them but would post them on to us. I said I needed to be able to get them to the GP so we could organise prescriptions and was told the information was all on the system and he’d have immediate access to it.

The very helpful nurse went out of her way to try and get a wheelchair for us. She eventually borrowed one from another patient and took Ray to our car. She was lovely and very kind to him.

When we got home I settled Ray and went straight t the doctor’s surgery to say he was out of hospital and ask for a copy of his drugs list to help me sort it all out. They had received no information!

Back home I started to go through the pile of medication.


There were drugs he had prior to admission and others I’d never seen before. Different drugs had to be taken in different quantities at different times of day, but there was no indication as to what drugs could, or could not, be taken together.

In hospital Ray had been taking pain killers, we had none. I think he was having paracetamol so I’ve just been and bought some as I vaguely remember being told not to give him ibuprofen. Hope I’ve remembered right!

I have two containers of one of the drugs. One says one tablet once a day the other says one tablet three times a day. Which is correct?

There were boxes of needles, why? What are they for?

Then I took the lid off the insulin pen and found out – no needle! Now what do I do? I don’t know what to do with these.

Then I discovered I had two different insulin pens. What’s going on???????

I rang the District Nurses this was beyond me!

When they arrived they asked about the discharge letter and drug lists. I explained I didn’t have them, showed them what I’d got they seemed to be as shocked as I was!

Then I remembered that while we were still on the ward I’d become uncomfortable with how things were going. The form that the nurses faxed to the district nurses was on the desk, and I took photos of it!

This showed the doses of insulin that Ray should have


Great, but why have I also got this?


He appears to have developed arthritis


But no longer has any communication difficulties! (I have that photo but haven’t added it as it had lots of other details on it).

I’m clever and resourceful but this is dangerous! What would have happened had I not been there?

I am a great supporter of the NHS and the staff that work for it. We’ve been fortunate to meet some truly caring people who’ve looked after Ray really well but I have got to follow up on this, it is so wrong.

On a more positive note Ray says the food was lovely and that their chicken tikka masala was far superior to the one I get him from Morrisons!!!

60 years plus five and a half weeks

And what a five and a half weeks it has been!!!!

It could not have been any more different than last year! 12 months of fitness, exercise and challenges followed by enforced idleness 😦

It started with me getting the flu bug that’s doing the rounds and that wiped me out for about three weeks. I couldn’t believe it, I never get ill (well not common or garden, ordinary illnesses, I get things like Multiple Sclerosis!!!)

I was just starting to recover from that and then Ray became ill and had to be taken into hospital.

Now my stress levels have gone through the roof which has resulted in the flashing lights in my eyes increasing and the strange balance sensations I’ve had with the MS in the past coming back.

OK, that’s the outline. Now for the detail, if you’re interested read on, if not I suggest you quit now!

I’m not going to say any more about the flu bug, it was what it was, so I’ll fast forward to Sunday 14th April.

Woke up bright and early (5.30 am) and set off to Brighton to watch my friends running the marathon. Thoroughly enjoyed the day with Kirstein and Amelia cheering the runners on.

Got home at about 6.15pm, Ray was in bed so I went to talk to him. I said he didn’t look very well, he sat up and began projectile vomiting brown stuff which I quickly realised was blood (I now know it’s called coffee ground vomiting).

Ray was very dehydrated, drinking gallons of water and vomiting continuously. Very, very frightening for both of us.

He would not agree to my calling an ambulance but did agree to the non emergency number. They were great. The initial person took all the details then put me through to a nurse who said 999 but, as Ray said no, she got a doctor to ring us and Ray agreed to go and see him (I didn’t mention his clinic was in the grounds of the hospital until we were there!).

Off we set in the car, Ray clutching the bucket and continuing to vomit blood. The doctor was great. I explained Ray’s type 1 diabetic, that as far as I knew he hadn’t eaten anything for three days or had his insulin but that he had been drinking. I told him that we’d seen the GP recently who was very concerned about the amount Ray was drinking and had organised blood tests and a liver scan but that the results had not yet come through. The doctor examined Ray, made a phone call then told us the SHO had agreed to take him and that I should take him to A+E.

As we started to go I realised that Ray wasn’t able to manage the walk and got a wheelchair, something he would normally never agree to even though the walk would take a very long time, too bloody independent and stroppy!

We got to A+E where someone glanced at the letter and said we were in the wrong place and that we had to go to the AMU ward. Back outside then round to the ward, no, they were full and everything was diverted to A+E! Back we go. At this point I read the doctor’s notes which had said A+E in the first place!

When we got back to A+E I spoke to somebody who, after some huffing and puffing, told me to park Ray and that I should join the queue to see the first nurse. I did this, running back from time to time to change his bowl. When I saw the nurse she took the doctor’s letter and told me to complete a form and queue to hand it in to the receptionists.

Once I’d done this we were told to wait until a nurse called us.

We’d arrived at the doctors at 8 pm for an 8.30 appointment, at gone 11pm we were still in A+E waiting room, Ray was still vomiting blood (other people understandably moving away from us) and nobody had seen him! I kept going back to the receptionists who were lovely but could do nothing. I saw the first nurse a couple of times who just said we had to wait. I pointed out that he’d been seen by a doctor and that the SHO had agreed to take him but she said that we were now in A+E and had to follow their systems!

Eventually I got very angry. I had been to the receptionist yet again and discovered that there were three people in the queue ahead of us and that the first one had been waiting 57 minutes. If we had not been sent to the wrong places we would have been in front of them! I again went to the first nurse and told her all this, she again told me I had got it wrong but I knew I hadn’t and she finally, grudgingly, agreed to see him. After taking his blood pressure etc he was immediately moved through to the department where we waited in a cubicle with a family with a sick baby until Ray was finally moved into a bed in a room on his own. We were told that he would be staying there as there were no beds available. I left at 3am as I had to sleep and Ray still hadn’t been given the anti sickness medication.

On Monday Ray’s sister rang me in the morning to say that his step father had died, this was not unexpected, and I told her about Ray! They were worried about telling his mum as she was so upset about Syd so I didn’t get to speak to her until Thursday. All very difficult as I wanted to tell her how sorry I was about Syd but I could understand their concerns as well!

Ray spent the day in the room in A+E, he had been given the anti sickness drug which was working but he was not at all well. He was then moved to the AMU ward for assessment. He was on drips to rehydrate him, and drips for insulin and glucose to try and stabilise his blood sugars.

After about 24 hours there he was moved onto ‘his ward where they worked hard to control his diabetes. The nurses on this ward were lovely. They made him feel safe and relaxed and really tried to help both of us. I really wish I could say that about everybody else.

The diabetic specialist nurse rang me to see her on the ward one afternoon. I arrived at 3, she eventually spoke to me at 50 miles an hour for 2 minutes at just before five then rushed off to discharge another patient. I then discovered she was not going to see me and only did so because the nurse insisted.

I kept asking to speak to a doctor and they were never available. There was then talk of discharging him and, when I refused to agree, all of a sudden 2 doctors arrived! The Thursday before Ray was admitted he’d had a liver scan. I’d told the hospital about it and said the GP had written asking to see him about the results. Nobody had even looked at the results, I’m still not happy that everything there is OK!

He has now been moved on to the cardiac day ward while he waits to be discharged.

I’ve now accepted that Ray is an alcoholic. I don’t know if he has, but I have! He told me he’s not going to drink again and to get rid of his wine and beer, which I have, but I’m not convinced ……….

I always knew he drank massively but somehow kidded myself that, because he doesn’t get withdrawal symptoms he wasn’t an alcoholic. It was also easier for me to be in denial.

Two people have recently said to me ‘Well you shouldn’t buy it for him!” Easy for them to say, and something that I would have said prior to living this life, but not so easy to do! PLEASE people, think before you make comments like that. They hurt, they really hurt and my eyes are welling up thinking about it. Try to imagine how you would cope living someone else’s life before you criticise how they do it. You may intend the comment to be supportive, but don’t you think it may be something I’ve thought a thousand times???

I have looked after Ray for 24 years, 25 in November, since he had his stroke. I have done it on my own with no support. Ray rarely sees anybody but me.

He has some contact with our neighbours and with my family who are all great. He sees his mum and Syd at Christmas when I take him to exchange presents (if his sisters are there then he sees them too) and he’ll call out ‘Hello Mummy’ and when I chat to his mother on the phone.

I am very strong and find it hard to admit when I can’t cope (pride and loyalty are terrible things) but I have now done it!

I have met with the alcohol liaison worker and told him everything. He’s explained how difficult it is for people to stop drinking (much harder than smoking) and that there are going to be difficult times ahead but that he can, and will, be able to provide me with support as well as Ray.

This has been hard to write, but I needed to do it.

I had my goals for this year, but now I’ve got a far bigger one to contend with!

I’m due to collect Ray from the hospital tonight, I have to admit that I’m scared of what the future will be like, he’s been drinking very heavily since his teens and now it has to stop! We managed one argument on the ward, I’m sure there will be more to come 😦

The district nurses will be coming in to do his injections and blood tests, the re-enablement team will be looking at his washing and dressing, the sofa and toilet seat have been raised and a grab rail put on the bed.

The support teams will come while Ray needs them, that won’t be long as he’ll say he’s fine and all the decisions are ultimately made by him. I know that he’d be better off with a wet room rather than a bath, social services were willing to look at doing it but he said no. The disabled person has the rights, not the carer.

I haven’t done any real training during the last five and a half weeks but I need to get right back into it now. I’m going to need every bit of the mental and physical strength I get from training and I’m certainly going to need the endorphins!!!

A mixed week!

A week on from my last post, and what has been happening? Not a lot!

I’ve had the lurgy. A stinking cold with an accompanying nasty, chesty cough. I’ve felt awful. I’ve had to stay at home (very out of character) and done no exercise, or training, for a week.

We’ve had the joys of medical appointments as well. We’ve both had GP appointments and blood tests. Ray’s awaiting an abdominal scan. I’ve got to see an eye specialist. Is this what getting older does to you?

I used to take the mickey out of my father saying that his GP had him on a Monopoly board and was sending him round all the different clinics in the hospital. Now it appears to be happening to us!

It’s been a pretty difficult week indoors too. The life of a carer is not always easy and this has been one of “those” weeks. Stress factors have been high and I’ve had to confront a few issues. I’ve finally reached the point where tough love has to start happening! Rules have been laid down, we’ll see how it goes.

This is also the first week of detoxing. What a week to pick!

I haven’t been perfect (sorry D.) but I’m actually quite proud of myself as I haven’t collapsed completely. There’s been a few minor blips but it could have been so, so worse!

I have not had a single cappuccino. Nor have I eaten any chocolate or sweets. I know how much better I will feel and that’s helping me pull back from the edge!!!!! The dark chocolate Easter Egg I’ve been given is sitting in the larder. How long can I avoid that!

There have been a couple of good bits. I’ve now used Skype twice to talk to my nephew Harry in Australia (where it is warm and sunny) twice. Skype is amazing. So impressed that I can see, and talk, to him, for free, on the other side of the world. His mum’s told me that, when she’s talking to him she pretends he’s upstairs in his room! Bless.

He’s now blogging as well. have a look at bigboibranch.wordpress.com (proud auntie!) You may notice that he refers to me as GILLIAN, whilst all other names are in lower case. I can only assume that this is because I am the most important person in his life. Is that right H????

Today I was considering breaking the pattern. I finally felt well enough to go back to the gym. I’d had a really bad night’s sleep so was having a late, healthy, breakfast I realised that there were no high winds and there were occasional glimpses of sunshine.

I could go out and attack the garden!

Now I had a dilemma. I really wanted to go to the gym and restart my training BUT this was only the second day this year where I could get out there and I didn’t do it last time.

Two and a half hours of ‘functional exercise’ followed and I worked non stop with just two quick breaks for a glass of water

I am SO glad I chose to do it. The garden hadn’t been touched for months because of the appalling weather. Every time I looked out of the window it looked like it always does in winter. Depressing. 😦

Image    Image

Now though, it looks as if Spring may be on the way!! [Although, sadly, the photos don’t really show all the work I did but I’ve also got the aches as evidence!]


Image   Image


Early start in the morning for the Bluewater 4k. Really hope I feel well enough to take part, fed up with feeling rough.

Then to take my friend Dawn to Darryl for her first training session (hee hee), got a party in the evening and then the clocks go back.

Lighter evenings, summer will come!!!!


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