My journey from 59 to ………

Archive for the tag “voluntary work”

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!!!!!!!

Life continues to be busy!!!

In fact it’s been too busy which has meant my training has suffered 😦

Ray’s doing well and we finally seem to be getting some help (read that as he’s finally letting people know how rough he is!). We’ve had loads of appointments with the GP, OTs, various clinics etc. grab rails have been fitted at the front and back doors and a step with rail has made the rear access so much safer – I’m really pleased with that!


Plans are being drawn up to turn our bathroom into a wet room, that would make a huge difference so fingers crossed!

I do voluntary work which also had to take a back seat whilst Ray was so ill, but I’m now back there as well. Being me I looked for a different kind of voluntary work and I found it. I’m part of the Independent Monitoring Board at a prison. It’s a really interesting role, we are the eyes of the community and there to see that things are fair. It’s also very important and I’d really like to encourage other people to consider doing it especially younger people (we tend to be white, middle class, retired folk) who may have more in common with some of the prisoners. That said, with my background I seem to have lots in common and understand where many of the guys are coming from! Anybody who knows me will understand that I don’t find it depressing and always seem to be able to have a laugh with someone!

If you’re interested and want to know more have a look at http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/imb
or send me a message!

What else has happened?

I met a celebrity!

You may remember that I was lucky enough to go, with my family, to the men’s team gymnastics final at the Olympics last year and how much I enjoyed it. Well I’ve now met Louis Smith who was part of the team and a complete star on the pommel horse.

He’s a lovely bloke, very polite, friendly and happy to chat, and he let me have my picture taken with him!


There have been other photos too.

Along with some of my friends I’ve signed up to do the Sumo run in 2 weeks time.

This is a 5km run (ha!) to raise money for Link Community and their education projects in five countries in Africa.

The thing is, we have to do the run in our Sumo suits (yes, the same suit I was wearing when I stopped the runaway horse!).

Dawn and I donned our suits to go round Bluewater begging for prizes for our sports day and raffle to raise money to add to our sponsorship. Alec and Lesley joined us and the photos show we had some fun!

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If any of you feel you could sponsor me in this stupidity I’d really appreciate it (thanks to those who have already) the link is http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/59to60

I had a 10k race this weekend too. The British 10k in central London.

Last year I was out and about covering miles every week but with everything that’s been going on I haven’t had time for any long walks let alone runs and you all know I’m not a runner anyway!

I decided I needed to get out there so last week islet off for a long walk. Turned on my GPS watch and off I set. I could not believe how slow I was. Ok I was only walking and I wasn’t pushing it, but 15 minutes to cover one kilometre? I ploughed on but 10k took ages. I was really despondent about it, but when I uploaded the data on to the Garmin site I discovered they weren’t kilometres, they were miles!!!!

Anyway, Sunday came and Clair and I set off for London on what was probably the hottest day of the year so far.

I have to say the race was not well organised. Everybody was in one pen, not separated with the fastest at the front. Slow people (like me) were told in the instructions to keep to the right which I did but, as it is normally the left that caused problems. There was very little music on route and no St John’s giving out Vaseline.

Must compliment the volunteers on the water stations who were doing a fantastic job, especially the four Scouts who, after a small amount of encouragement from me, drenched me from top to toe with eight bottles of water -heaven!!!

When you finally reached the end it wasn’t very clear where it was. Normally when you finish race you are funnelled forwards to collect your goody bag and the all important medal. Here there was nothing! Everybody was wandering about wondering what to do. I ended up asking a security guy who said I had to go back to reclaim my bag and they would give me my medal.

Bit of an anticlimax. I could have left my bag, gone and sat in the park then returned and claimed the medal without doing anything.

But I didn’t! I earned my medal and it’s fantastic!!!


Met up with Clair, Sue and Michael and went for a well deserved coffee before the journey home.

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The BUPA run is cheaper and much better organised. Looks like I’ll probably enter that again for next year, but the British will be for Help the Heroes and I bet that’ll be a really cool medal ….,,.,

As part if the £50 entrance fee you get a ‘free’ photo.

I was looking at the ones of me on the site and was tempted by this one. When I saw the code, or as one of my friends said the title, I knew it was the one I had to have.

Yes, I am a loon, and long may it continue!!!!

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Oh, I’m adding this picture too. It hasn’t got anything to do with the rest of this blog. but I like it!!!!

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(Apologies to all my email followers, this was sent out last night without the photos by mistake so you’re stuck with 2 copies!)

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