The month of May – part 5

Calendar entries highlighted in yellow

23rd May – Return to Black Dam!

Woke up to a gorgeous clear blue sky – not a single cloud in sight! With my personal care and breakfast out of the way, Francesca and I headed off to Black Dam once again. Although it’s the third time this month I’ve yet to grow tired of this tranquil little part of town that I’ve overlooked for so long. This time I got my trainee staff blog photographer to bring along my sturdy tripod and infra-red remote trigger in the hope that it might make it a bit easier to get some pictures of us together. As it turned out the remote trigger proved to be rather temperamental but we persevered and got there in the end. Technology! 🙄

There were lots of ducks and geese around this week and even Mr & Mrs Swan put in an appearance. I walked along the water’s edge under the shade of the weeping willows watching Francesca trying to entice the birds out of the water with pieces of bread. At one point we saw a whole brace of ducks swimming towards us, each one leaving a V shaped wake behind it. The pattern would have made a good picture. Anyway, here’s a few shots of Francesca and I just goofing around and having fun with the camera. Nothing too serious today, just enjoying the moment.

Lean on me! Francesca and I at Black Dam

Big smiles. Francesca and I at Black Dam

Happy! Francesca and I at Black Dam

Sneaky! Francesca and I at Black Dam

Is it on? Francesca and I at Black Dam

Where did those antlers come from? Francesca and I at Black Dam

Laughs. Francesca and I at Black Dam

Oh, and before I forget, thank you Francesca for writing out my nephew’s birthday card. I couldn’t have done it without you – literally. It’s so frustrating now not being able to write out family greetings cards for that personal touch.

25th May – More fun with the stairs

I’m not having a good time with the stairs lately. After last week’s fall I’ve had a hard time rebuilding my confidence and using the stairs has become very stressful. Yesterday when looking around my niece & nephew’s new home I was almost paralysed with fear coming down the straight, steep & narrow staircase. I was okay going up (albeit slowly) but as soon as I tried making my way down my balance seemed to alter, my legs felt weaker and my confidence left me. I ended up coming down the stairs sandwiched between my brother and sister-in-law with my hands resting on the banister.

Today when I woke up it took multiple attempts before I found the confidence to step off the landing and walk downstairs. Later in the day I got trapped upstairs again as my legs just felt too unreliable to attempt the descent and my arms are completely useless and cannot be relied on should I start to fall. Eventually I decided to try something different by sitting on my bottom and coming down the stairs one step at a time. So I held onto the banister rail that overhangs the stairwell and with my back against the wall gingerly slid down so that I was on the floor. No sooner had I done this when I realised that if this failed I would be trapped on the floor until my carer arrived. I have very little upper body strength now so it took a lot of wriggling along the carpet, whilst trying to ensure that my arms didn’t get trapped, before I was positioned face down with my legs pointing down the stairs. I then had to spin myself round and slowly descend on my bottom one step at a time in a completely undignified way until I was about three steps from the floor. At this height I was able to raise myself up albeit with trembling legs. Phew, what a nightmare! I think the staircase is an accident waiting to happen. I really wish I had the stairlift in place already but I’m still waiting for one more quote later this week. The other thing I wish I had was a downstairs toilet. That would make life so much easier for me as I would only need to use the stairs at the beginning and end of the day. I think every 2-story house should have one.

I tried to get on and edit some more digital photos from my recent excursions, but trying to simultaneously use the keyboard and mouse (required for certain editing tools) is proving frustratingly difficult. For all the time I spent on it this afternoon I still only managed to complete five photos.

Half way through the evening, shortly before I planned to sit down and watch some TV, I got stuck upstairs again on a visit to the bathroom. After the climb up my legs felt very weak and as soon as I attempted to descend my balance became unpredictable. I ended up having a very early night!

26th May – Taking it easy

Thanks to being stranded upstairs last night I ended up spending twelve hours in bed, haha. Amazingly I was able to sleep through most of it, although I did get confused at one point when I heard car doors slamming – I thought someone was off to work but it was someone arriving home at midnight! I’d only been asleep three hours! When morning finally arrived I didn’t attempt going down stairs until Ann arrived by which time my legs felt a bit more reliable. But I’m so wary of my legs now that I found myself trying to arrange my trips to the bathroom around the times when one of my carers was around. For the rest of the day I was sitting in one chair or another as I’ve noticed recently that my upper leg muscles are starting to hurt a little when I get up. It’s actually quite frightening the speed at which my legs are weakening now and I’m starting to grow concerned about the time I’m here at home on my own. Having carers around at least gives me some peace of mind.

Looking out the patio windows as I type away on my laptop and seeing the sun shining down from a clear blue sky brings a certain frustration and sadness. Not so many weeks ago I was at least able to go for short walks along the field behind the house but now I daren’t even attempt that. And I would give so much to be able to get on my bike and go cycling along the country lanes again. This is a very cruel disease.

28th May – More measuring up / An afternoon with Alison

‘Gavin the Gardener’ spent most of the morning tidying up my back garden and it really is starting to look a lot better. I’m glad I’ve been able to find such a hard working and reliable gardener. At least that’s one thing I don’t have to worry about anymore.

I had Paul from Bentley Mobility call at lunchtime to measure up and quote for a stairlift. This is the third and final quotation. Because of the way my legs are going lately I’m really keen to get things moving now. Delivery times with this company seem very good – if true. I’m being told that Stannah are currently able to offer an express service on curved track stairlifts and can deliver in 2 weeks. Add another week for the photographic survey and drawings and where still only looking at 3 weeks. Fingers crossed I’m hoping to be in a position next week to place an order.

Here’s a few scans from the brochure.

Page scan from the Stannah Sofia brochure

Page scan from the Stannah Sofia brochure

Page scan from the Stannah Sofia brochure

I had a pleasant afternoon with Alison using up some of this week’s social hours. She’d brought along a super-lightweight wheelchair that had been loaned by a friend just in case the walking proved too much. Although I had a little sit in it to see how it felt I was determined to get through the remainder of this month under my own steam. I had only been walking around the town centre for about ten or so minutes before I began to question the wisdom of my actions. My legs soon started to feel weak under the strain of supporting me and before heading back to the car I took a few minutes out to rest on a bench in the shopping mall. Clearly the days of me hoping on a bus and wandering around town by myself are over and in future I’ll just have to swallow my pride and accept being pushed around. The rest of the afternoon was less stressful and far more enjoyable as all I had to do was sit in Alison’s car whilst we took a pleasant drive down to Winchester. It was so nice just to sit there with the windows open and being buffeted by the warm air. Thank you, Alison, for everything this afternoon.

29th May – Spoilt by my carers – yet again!

Want another example of how much my carers spoil me? I have three flower tubs at the front of the house that through neglect had become infested with weeds. Ann had been to a garden centre yesterday and bought me a whole range of bedding plants so after she’d finished my care she got stuck into a spot of container gardening. By the time she had finished I had three tubs full of colourful plants that make the front of the house look so much nicer. How kind is that? I really am lucky to have such wonderful people looking after me.

Tried to go for a short walk with Francesca at lunchtime but didn’t get far before my legs started to tire and I felt it prudent to turn back and head for the safety of home. I never thought I’d ever hear myself say this but ‘roll on when I get my own wheelchair’! Well, it’s either that or spend my remaining days housebound and that is simply not an option. I want to continue going out, getting fresh air and having a change of scenery. To think, this time last year I was able to walk anywhere I wanted, and the year before I was cycling all over north Hampshire. What a horrible disease this is turning into as yet another of the things that made life enjoyable for me sails into the history book.

30th May – Weekly treat time again!


Sun is shinin’ in the sky,

There ain’t a cloud in sight

It’s stopped rainin’

Everybody’s in a play

And don’t you know

It’s a beautiful new day.


Runnin’ down the avenue,(Pant, Pant, Pant)

See how the sun shines brightly

In the city on the streets

Where once was pity,

Mr. Blue Sky is living here today.



Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why,

You had to hide away

For so long where did we go wrong.


Hey there Mr. Blue

We’re so pleased to be with you

Look around see what you do,

Everybody smiles at you.


Mr Blue Sky, Electric Light Orchestra (Jeff Lynne), 1978


It’s Saturday, the sun is shining, there’s a clear blue sky, I’ve got the camera loaded, Francesca has the car parked on the driveway, and where headed off to Black Dam once again to supplement the birds weekly food intake. At this rate there are going to be some very obese birds waddling around soon. Don’t blame me guys n gals if you can’t take off!

I’ve been lucky with the Saturdays this month and have been able to get out for most of them. Because of time constraints we are a bit limited how far we can travel so we’re lucky this is so close. Didn’t take too many photos this time but still enjoyed watching the birds antics and being able to relax in the lovely warm weather. My legs were not too bad this morning and I was able to walk around without too much bother although it was reassuring to have benches scattered about. Thank you, Francesca, I really enjoyed this morning.

At Black Dam

At Black Dam

Francesca and I at Black Dam

Alison very kindly dropped by half way through the afternoon to make sure I had plenty of cold drinks on hand as it’s getting more difficult to even get a drink of water from the tap by myself, and on a hot day like today I drink a lot more. This act of kindness is yet another example of how thoughtful and generous with their time my carers are. It’s not even Alison’s turn to provide care for me and yet she still goes out of her way to do so. That’s dedication. Thank you so much, Alison.

From a lovely morning to a frustrating afternoon stuck in the house. I know I should be grateful that I at least managed to get out for an hour this morning (and I am of course), but looking out the patio windows at that beautiful weather and I would have given anything to be able to jump on my bike and go cycling down the country lanes, or simply go walking over to Manydown Farm. Instead I sat in my glide about chair near the patio window and soaked up the heat of the sun like a lizard basking on a rock. We all take our mobility for granted until it starts to fail us. I was just the same and it is so heartbreaking seeing it wither away.


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3 Responses to The month of May – part 5

  1. thank you mark for your kind words, you are very welcome and yes wait till we get that racing chair, opps wheelchair. x

  2. jane c says:

    I know having a wheelchair is a horrible reminder of an ability that you have lost, but on the plus side, as you say, it does allow you to still get out and about. Richard went absolutely EVERWHERE in both of his (first his ordinary lightweight one and, later on, his reclining, electric one), thanks to the help and enthususiasm of very kind friends – sailing, shopping, parties, woodland walks, muddy farmyards and even Scarborough beach. We had to take the hose to it on more than one occasion and I was really worried about what the Wheelchair Loan service would say when I gave them back after his death but, much to my relief, they were of the opinion that they would far rather see a wheelchair used (and abused!) then be returned to them pristine after having obviously never been used to give someone an enjoyable time.

  3. Liked the ‘Mr Blue Sky’ bit and of course all the lovely photos Mark. It is so good to know that you have a fantastic network of carers there for you, makes being so far away more bearable. Keep up the good work on this blog. We are finally catching up as you can see!

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