My journey from 59 to ………

Archive for the tag “diabetes”

5 months on ……

….. since I last posted. And how life has changed, yet again!

The beginning of this year was extremely difficult. I was finding my role as a carer very hard and could feel myself slipping into depression.

I did change my behaviour and, instead of bottling it all up and pretending that as superwoman I can deal with everything, my usual tactic, I asked for help. I asked the GP and agreed that I now wanted counselling, not tablets, as I needed to be able to talk through all my feelings after 28 years of caring. She gave me a number to call to refer myself which I did.

I then had a telephone assessment where I made it clear that I needed 1:1 support as in a group I’d just try to solve everybody else’s problems and not address my own. The assessor agreed and said she’d refer me for 1:1 but recommended that, whilst I was waiting I should go to the 6 week CBT group sessions.

I did this, starting on the 11th February. I’ve always thought of myself as a positive person and this course showed me I was right!

I am extremely good at looking for the positives in any situation (let’s face it, I’ve had to be!!!) and this course did not help me in any way, although I know plenty of people that it would!

It is now June and I am still waiting to hear about any 1:1 help. :-/

Ray’s been very depressed, his diabetes was out of control (I now know that his glucose meter can say Hi & Lo not just numbers!) The nurse at the surgery was great and referred Ray to the specialist diabetes nurse, the falls clinic, the service that provides aids and told me to contact Social Services.

The specialist nurse was fantastic. She could  see I was struggling (I did have a bit of a melt down in her office0  and so was Ray. She wanted to get his blood levels measured throughout the day for a week and FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME IN 28 YEARS did not just assume that I would stay indoors to do lunch time readings every day, she arranged for the district nurses to come in to do them.

I cannot begin to explain how much that meant to me. Finally somebody was giving me some practical support and encouraging me to have my own life, not just to be an unpaid carer. We got Ray to admit to being depressed and he agreed a course of anti depressants may help, she said she would contact our GP. His insulin doses were adjusted a bit which helped the diabetes but his moods remained the same and life was very difficult.

Somebody came from the falls clinic, took lots of notes and tried to get Ray to do a few exercises to help strengthen his muscles and improve his walking. Ray found it difficult to understand what was wanted and some of the exercises were completely beyond his ability. When I told the man that I did not think Ray would do the seated exercises regularly on his own he said he was going to discharge him, well that was a lot of help! He also said something about referring him for a support shoe but, to be honest, by this point I was so pissed off again I honestly don’t know if he was going to do it or if I was supposed to. Still, we haven’t heard any more about that either! No practical help was offered on how to stop the falls or how I should get him up!!!

We never heard anything from the aids people and, although Social Services said I would get a Carer’s Assessment nothing has happened.

Eventually I blew!

I had had enough. I’d been warning Ray for some time that I could not take this any more, that I had done my bit and that I was sick of it. I even told him to decide which of his two sisters or his mother he wanted to go and live with!

Eventually I blew, I told him that this was MY home, that I had paid for everything in it and provided everything for him and I needed to do stuff for me. He had an ultimatum, either:

  1. We got a dog, or
  2. He went in a home and I got a dog

Guess what?????

On the very first day of looking I found Donut, an RSPCA staffy cross, and three days later he arrived, complete with the cone of shame!







This dog has changed our lives. Ray was adamantly against having a dog, and now he adores him! His depression has lifted, he’s started laughing again and his health and mobility have improved. He finally has an interest in something!

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And me? Wow, what a difference! I don’t even mind being at home now!

Well that covers the most important aspects of the last five months but there are other things too 🙂

Looking back at the targets I set myself, there will be no problem covering 2016 km in 2016 although training has suffered and I’m nowhere near 3 sessions a week but that’s for positive reasons 🙂 I aimed to be leaner and I have lost a stone, feel better for it and plan to continue!

I qualified as a Lowland Search and Rescue technician and I’ve been out on a number of searches. As our first aid requirement is the same as for First Responders I decided I might as well do that too so now if you put in a 999 call in Wickford there is a possibility you may get me as well as an ambulance etc!

Voluntary work can be so much fun!!!!!!



What does a 62 year old do?

Two weeks since my last post, and in that time I’ve aged another year. I am now 62!

I remember that, throughout my life, I’ve heard people who are older than me saying how they don’t know how they got that old, that they don’t feel any different etc. etc. Very amusing thinking back to a friend’s 30th birthday when I bought him a walking stick and a bottle of Grecian 2000. Well, at that point he seemed old to me!

So, 62!

I’m fairly confident that most of the readers of my blog are younger than me and may wonder how one spends one’s time when one gets to that age.

Well, I don’t know how ‘one’ would, although I do see groups shopping and lunching together, but I do know what I’ve been doing.

So, in that last two weeks I have:

  • read an inspirational book called Unbroken. The true story of Louis Zamperini, an athlete who was on track to run a sub 4 minute mile when he was caught up in World War II, shot down and drifted for weeks in a life raft with no provisions, survived being captured and being placed in Japanese slave camps, got over his experiences,  forgave his captors and continued to be inspirational right up to his death. His experiences have been made into a film but I would really recommend the book, I learned so much about the war that I did not know. I love the photo of him skateboarding at 81!
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  • I’ve spent time in a men’s prison. As I’ve said before I’m on the Independent Monitoring Board of a Cat B men’s prison. It’s voluntary work (my medical problems and early retirement mean I’m not allowed to work) and it’s fascinating. There are masses of voluntary opportunities out there. You could help in a charity shop, do meals on wheels, help with youth organisations, visit housebound or elderly people or find ‘different’ things like I have!
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  • Talking of voluntary work, I’ve been out acting as a missing person (misper) for the search dogs both day and night time exercises. Now this is something anybody could do, you only have to stay put until the dog and it’s handler find you! Google search dogs and your county / area. They need new smells to look for so I’m sure you’d be welcome!
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  • This one is not something I do but only because I’m no longer allowed to and I want to make a plea for all of you to do it. DONATE BLOOD! Or better still donate platelets. A friend of mine’s two year old daughter has leukemia. She’s undergoing treatment which involves her needing a lot of platelets. Raising money is great (https://www.justgiving.com/hattieshaka) but giving blood / platelets doesn’t cost you anything but can make a huge difference to others.
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  • woken up at 4am to hear Ray grunting and shrieking. He’d fallen out of bed and was having a massive hypoglycemic attack. I tried to get glucose syrup into him but failed so it was 999 time. I love our emergency services! The operator took the details and immediately dispatched a paramedic but she insisted on staying on the line until they arrived in case of any changes. Chris, the paramedic, arrived very quickly, blue lights flashing, and established that, even after the bit of glucose I’d got into him, his blood sugar was only 2.3! The choices were: glucose gel (already tried and failed), injection in the bum or an intravenous drip (no chance of that!). Somehow we were able to get hold of him between us and hold him still for long enough for Chris to do the injection …… then we had to wait about 15 minutes for it to work! As Ray was very agitated we managed to get him sitting upright on the floor and I stood, knees bent, behind him so he could lean on me. The noises that were coming form my bad knee were unbelievable, well they kept Chris and I entertained for a while! Eventually Chris and I were able to get him back on the bed, remember Ray’s right arm is paralysed and his leg isn’t much use, it is so much easier when there are two of you! After persuading him to eat his blood sugar eventually rose to 5.7 when Chris felt he could leave him in my capable hands 🙂
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  • There was a four part series on television recently that I was completely hooked by, Walking the Nile. Explorer Levison Wood walked the length of the Nile (apart from a couple of hundred miles of active war zone that it was impossible to enter) from it’s source to the sea. The places he saw, the people he met and the experiences he had were amazing. The journey took him nine months and during that time I travelled through lush, green areas, areas that were almost impenetrable, deserts, war zones, you name it it was there! One of his companions died from the heat. They narrowly escaped in a gun battle. But the thing that stayed with me was the beauty of the country and the people. When I heard that he was doing a lecture on his experiences in London I had to go. My friends either could not come or didn’t want to so I went on my own! I’ve always been prepared to do stuff on my own, if I want to do something I’m not going to not do it just because nobody else wants to!!!!! It was fascinating to see ‘the man’ and to listen to what he had to say. You may remember in my last post I talked about JP Cole, Sierra Leone and how inspiring I found him. Both of these guys talk about the things they have done, seen and experienced in a matter of fact way and see the humour and humanity in situations. Neither of them over dramatise or sensationalise situations which makes their messages even more powerful. I’ve said before that if I didn’t have Ray I’d get a dog. Now I wonder if I would go to Africa???????
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  • There was another TV series I was hooked by, Lost Worlds with Monty Halls and Leo Houlding. I seem to be spotting a bit of a theme here! Whilst I have the commitment and sheer bloody mindedness to go on challenges involving walking and people I don’t think I’d have the skills and therefore the courage to do the stuff they were. If you get the chance watch both of these series!
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  • Last, but by no means least, my training! I love my training! Darryl’s just changed my programs again and I’ve got three new ones to do on my own at the gym. Getting new programs is always exciting because they push me out of my comfort zone and challenge me again! I can’t tell you what they are or I’d have to kill you (ha, ha, ha) but I can say they include kettlebells, dumbells, barbells, boxing, ViPR and TRX! One of the programs is intervals. Now I hate cardio …… unless it’s the right sort of cardio! This is the right sort for me! You may have heard of a formula to calculate your maximum heart rate 220 – your age. What a load of tosh! In that case I’m 40 years old!!!
  • I trained with Darryl today and we were doing cleaning …….. Which is sort of like this but with a lighter bar!
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  • Last week was our first session on this and I was learning the technique. At the end of the session I tried the last rep with 20kg and failed. By the end of today’s session I was doing sets of 5 with 25kg. Nothing when you compare it to my hero Zoe Smith but I was thrilled for me and it can only get better!
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  • I feel the need to say that Darryl lent me the book Unbreakable and told me about Walking the Nile (I told him about Lost Worlds!) Personal training is so much more than beating somebody up! Time to plug Club One Hundred again!!!
  • So, what can a 62 year old do?
  • Anything she wants!!!!!!!

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!!!

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