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28 May 2008

Post 45: First try at cutting links with Tash

Yesterday, as if things couldn't get much worse, I did the hardest thing I've ever had to do – something that is still filling my eyes with tears – I told Tash not to bother visiting again and that I will stop calling her or emailing her because we both need to get on with our lives or in my case, start trying to live it again.
It's certainly true that it's nice to not be in hospital anymore. Although my tiredness persists I'd rather be tired in these surroundings. I have also been able to do a couple of things that would have been virtually impossible in hospital. The first was going to see the comedian Chris Rock at the O2 (the old dome) on friday night. For starters he was hilarious (one or two of his gags have still got me chuckling) especially how he would rename the desperate housewives 'the ungrateful bitches' and his diatribe about how stand up comedy or comedy in general was an anti-depressant in human form and that anyone who took anti-depressants and then went to watch a stand up comedian should be 'ashamed' of themselves. He has obviously never been depressed.
Anyway, on saturday night, I went too an awesome restaurant at the Piccadilly Circus end of Regent Street called Cocoon. It was the sort of dining that I'm definitely not used too. Saying Chardonnay was probably as likely to get the head of the nearest bleached blond bimbette to turn as to get you a bottle of wine... such was the clientele. What mattered was that the food was nice, did I say nice? I meant great. For both these expeditions which would have been unthinkable a few months ago, I have Tanya to thank. Her exotic taste coupled with great patience and tolerance have allowed me to go places that would have been way beyond my reach even recently. It is now imperative that if I go ANYWHERE it needs to be checked out ahead of time. Even this is sometimes not enough. A few weeks back Vicky kindly arranged My friend Emma's pre-wedding party at a bar on South Bank with disability access and me in mind. That was kind and considerate in itself. When we got there there was a huge curb outside which required me to stand up (supported to stop me falling over) and three big blokes to lift (my incredibly heavy wheelchair). After this mission we finally got in the ground floor only to be confronted by a lift that resolutely refused to work and to cap it off an extremely unapologetic manager. Luckily, everyone very kindly agreed to switch venues which was very kind of people, not to mention extremely lucky of us to find a suitable venue a few hundred yards down the river. I bring all this up to say thanks to all those who helped out but equally to highlight that nothing is ever simple anymore and it drives me mad, exhausts me and makes me cry (another thing to add to an incredibly (pathetically) long list).
Despite these adventures, which most would find routine , living out of hospital is working out OK. The work that my brother has done and continues to do on the house is incredible. Without his input none of this would have been possible and I probably would have ended up more of a basket case in the corner of some Nursing home! Despite all these positive points my mood remains low and is only ever buoyed by good weather, good comedy and good visits. Come on British Summer!

18 May 2008

Post 44: My cousin Nicky's wedding in Wales

I am utterly exhausted (dare I say pathetically?) I.e. when I'm too tired to talk (or type FFS!!) but it's been a while since my last effort and my monday efforts tend to be awful because of quite serious mondayitis! The reason I'm so exhausted is because I've just got back from my cousin Nicky's wedding. She lives in London so where did she get married? On the Welsh coast of course! So, a five hour drive! To be fair it is possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Perched on the clifftops we used to go there as kids, and from my recollection you're always taking a bit of a gamble with the weather. It duly obliged and it was cold and wet for the whole weekend. Luckily we were spared any wind which was miraculous because if it's rainin and blowing a gale it can be one of the most foreboding places on earth (and I have taken in most of Londons hospitals!).
Now, I love weddings, but since my stroke they have got so difficult for me. Weddings are a celebration of humanity. Without exception, every wedding I have been too ( even since my stroke) has been the most joyous day of the lives of those involved. This sounds trite but it is always an honour and a privilege to be invited for whatever reason to have some of the joy rub off (which it inevitably does). This weekend was no exception, Nicky looked amazing and (now her husband) – David , looked ever so smart. The wedding itself took place in a specially sanctioned room in Druidstone hotel and was simple, elegant and short. Being a wheelchair user, I have found that for most events you get a reserved seat right near the front ( possibly the only advantage of this condition I can think of!) but the great thing about being so close to the action, so to speak, is that you get to see how intense the proceedings are for the couple, it's so emotional for them and (as long as the vows go to plan) fills the whole room with happiness. Once the wedding is finished it's on to the serious business of the reception. I particularly love the speeches and on saturday they didn't dissapoint. My uncle Ian (a legend at the best of times) gave his speech in his capacity as father of the bride quite hilariously explained why he had rather enthusiastically given away the bride, he was followed extremely eloquently (and rather funnyly by the groom and then the best man. The time taken for the speeches was an extremely sociable 30mins. I think the girl who won the inevitable sweepstake was pleasantly astounded. Everyone had expected them to be a great deal longer! I was extremely well looked after by my cousins Julie and Danny abd entertained by hilarious Lisette and gorgeous Emma both friends of Nicky who I'd both last seen years previously. How I've changed: From obnoxious little brat to Obnoxious wheelchair user! Lisette seemed to think my sense of humour had survived although I'd say my predicament has made me rather more bitter and twisted. For example I used to love going to weddings. I used to love the sense of occasion. Seeing old friends and meeting new people. At the reception I used to adopt a 'last man standing' approach and then crash on the nearest available sofa or floor. Now events like this have to be planned meticulously and I have to be escorted everywhere (usually by my Dad because he is strong and can help me transfer). I no longer have the energy to last the course. It is so demeaning to have to have my food cut up or to have to make my excuses and slope off for a rest. It makes me cry how little I can cope with but at least I can go to these things. I think the long journey (as well as the unfamiliar environment and my total lack of independence) did for me this weekend but it was worth it to see Nicky and David that happy!

12 May 2008

Post 43: A message from Katie Cartwright

I have been inspired to write another blog post today by a lovely message I received from an old college friend Katie Cartwright (nee Williams) telling me about what has happened/is happening in her and her legendary husband, Anton's lives at the moment. I love emails like that because once I've made it readable because of my shocking eyesight it gives me time to sit down and have a proper read. Being able to do that without blowing up the text size is one of the things I miss most. Being able to immerse myself in a newspaper was one of life's pleasures. Not anymore! Nothing tremendously exciting is happening in my life because nothing exciting ever happens anymore. I suppose completing my 2nd week out of hospital is about as exciting as it gets. That said the reason I haven't written a blog post for a while is because I've been too damn busy! So, where to start – I think the first thing to say is that living like this isn't too bad compared to being in hospital. Sure, the fear of something going wrong is always there and the feeling of isolation and loneliness is more acute but being in your own space is so important. I no longer feel like a small child except when my parents just turn up unannounced, let themselves in and take over.Hopefully, that won't be happening again! It cannot be underestimated what having your own space does for your self esteem. OK, I Still need plenty of help to do anything and most of it seems to be coming from South Africans. Now in the past, I sometimes haven't been the most charitable to Saffas. I've changed my tune! My two housemates are two very kind and amusing Saffa ladies who are doing the job of evening carers ever so well, my physio is a delightful Saffa girl called Natalie. She is everything I'd want from a therapist, she is the right combination of experience/knowledge so I really respect what she says, she is also slightly sadistic and bossy – just enough to get me to work hard, 'yes, Natalie' is a common phrase from me, she is also very interestingly pretty which given my nature always helps! So far she has taken me through the rather mundane and exhausting process (1/1/2 days worth) of setting up my Saeboflex left arm splint. This is a weird looking device that looks rather like a robot arm which through a series of rather dull exercises is supposed to strengthen my shoulder, elbow and hand. I was rather hoping it would do rather more given the substantial outlay for it. I should know better, nothing comes easy in my world!
One thing that is working out is that I am still getting cooked amazing meals by my friend Tanya ( Herself a Joburgher). So why has it taken me so long to get around to this blog post? Well, between bouts of physio and Tanya's exquisite cooking I have been utterly absorbed (and exhausted) settling in out of hospital. I was rather hoping that new surroundings and new people would give me fresh energy. Not so sadly although one thing that really cheered me was going to see the filming of comedy panel show QI last Tuesday. Big thanks to Tony for organising it and the two Simon's ( Dawes and Winstanley) for taking me. It was quite brilliant as well as being quite interesting (see what I did there!), Sorry for my crap gags but I can't resist them. I would heartily commend going to one of these shows, it'll well be worth the £0 outlay and the investment in time. I think the only hardship would be waiting in the queue outside which you handily don't have to wait in if you happen to be with someone in a wheelchair (i.e. me). Anyway, you get the point – you won't regret going.

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