3 Years of Blogging!

Celebrating three years of publishing to the web!

It’s time to break out the bubbly folks because today (15 February) I celebrate my blog’s third birthday. And what a year it has been too with so much to write about as I continued to document the changes brought on both in lifestyle and physical abilities by this horrendous disease.

For the blog itself the biggest change this past year has been in relocating it to a new home here at WordPress, something which was spurred on by the lack of development and limited feature set of my old blog’s home. I’d initially balked at the thought of recreating something like 2 1/2 years of content, and yes it did take a long time, but now that it is done I must say that I take considerable pride in being able to say that the whole of the new site has been created without touching the computer once! Everything you see here on this site is created and assembled using voice recognition software with the occasional movement of my foot controls to operate the screen cursor.

Moving the blog to WordPress has been one of my better decisions. Visitor traffic to the site has substantially improved; in fact it received more hits in its first six months here at WordPress than it did in its first 2 1/2 years in its previous home. There has also been a dramatic improvement in the number of people who have been kind enough to leave a comment or message in the guestbook (including a few nice surprises from people I’d thought had dropped off the radar – you know who you are), and it has been feedback like this that has fuelled my determination to continue developing the blog.

When I re-launched the blog last summer I started experimenting a little with raising its profile and trying to direct traffic to the site, an idea I got from my brother Jason who is very adept at this kind of thing. I won’t pretend for a moment that I’ve started to optimise the site using keywords and repetitive word usage (at the expense of readability) but I did dabble for a while in making use of blog search engines such as Technorati, and social websites like Twitter to try and increase the blog’s chances of being found and by the right kind of people. After all, there’s not much point in writing about motor neurone disease if the people who wish to find out about the disease aren’t aware of the blog’s existence. Surprisingly perhaps it was a subject that initially I had never given any thought to. All my energy had always been spent on creating content. I’d not made any effort to advertise it! So raising awareness of the blog so that I can in turn raise awareness of MND has been something I’ve devoted some of my time and effort to during the second half of last year.

Now as I mentioned last summer in my D+1000 post I feel that I have now reached the point where the story of my descent into quadriplegia has now been told. In addition I’ve also now completed the saga of getting a house extension built as well as documenting the ups and downs of dealing with care agencies. And so after all the turmoil of the past few years I have at last (he says with fingers firmly crossed) reached a point of relative stability. For how long, who can say? But now that I am living downstairs my options on how I wish to spend my time have been considerably increased. It is for this reason that the blog is going to receive less attention than it did last year. With time in short supply I want to spend some of it doing other things that bring happiness to me. I have quite a backlog of things to do which are going to demand quite a lot of my time. I’m also hoping to be able to get out and enjoy the fresh air on a regular basis. I’ve been cooped up inside too long and I want to make up for it. But there is no need to worry because the blog will definitely carry on; in fact for me it’s hard to imagine my life without it as it’s now become a part of me. I will continue to document anything significant that happens and intersperse this with special topics from time to time.

As time marches on I will become increasingly dependent on technology to allow me to communicate with the computer. Speech recognition software is now central to everything I do and that in turn is dependent on my voice. Although I can still talk clearly, and there is currently no indication that this is going to change any time soon, my ability to talk continuously and in an unbroken fashion for more than a sentence or so is diminishing as the months go by. I notice this now not only when I have a conversation but also when I dictate into my microphone continuously for any length of time. Consequently working the computer for a few hours with my voice is becoming quite tiring and it is now quite common for me to write these posts over several days so that I don’t feel exhausted. In more recent months I’ve found it increasingly difficult to use my feet to operate the mouse controls as they gradually succumb to the paralysis. For this reason I am now looking at alternative methods of controlling this aspect of the computer. At the time of writing this post my AbilityNet contact has placed an order for a head tracking system which they have asked me to try. They have also supplied me with a modified game console controller on a swivel arm which may also prove suitable. So yes there are solutions out there, it is just a case of finding the right one for me. The trouble with this disease is that you have to continuously be one or two steps ahead in terms of accessibility technology or risk being locked out.

Before I sign off I would like to express my gratitude to my carers, most of whom at some time or another have been kind enough to take up photographic duties for me so that I can continue to illustrate the blog. I would also like to thank all of you out there who have been kind enough to drop by and stay a while, especially those who took the time to leave a message. They are always very much appreciated.

Mark

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10 Responses to 3 Years of Blogging!

  1. Reinaldo M says:

    I have read your blog for the first time and think it is excellent. I congratulate you on your three years of blogging. Hopefully, I will get there (just started blogging). You’re an inspiration. Thanks.

  2. sweat pea says:

    congratulations on a brilliant write up once again. its good to read how you are doing. xx

  3. Jason Glover says:

    Well done, brother, on reaching three years of blogging. I can’t match that. It’s a great achievement!

    • Jane C says:

      Happy Birthday, Blog!

      Mark, good to hear that you’ve now got the option to do more of the other things that you want to do, especially being able to get out and about – long may it continue!

  4. Sarah says:

    Just wanted to say hello. I lost my beloved dad to mnd on new years eve. He was in St Michael’s Hospice.

    I have been inspired by your blog for over a year now, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading about your fight. I wish you all the very best and hope that you enjoy your year of doing things that you want to do. I think that you are a very brave man.

    Love and best wishes x

    • mndals says:

      Hello Sarah,

      I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Words sometimes feel inadequate to fully describe how we feel at times like this. One can only hope that he has found peace and an escape from this horrific disease. I hope you and your family have many fond memories to look back on and cherish in the days ahead.

      So you’re dad was at St Michael’s Hospice too, what a small world we live in! Well at least I know he was in very capable hands as both my experiences of spending time there were very positive. They really are lovely people and did everything they could to make me comfortable.

      Thank you very much for your kind words about the blog, they are very much appreciated.

      Best wishes

  5. wordsmithsuk says:

    Congratulations on the blog’s birthday. Just wanted to catch up with you and find out how you are. Hope you are enjoying some good weather now that you can get out and about. You are an inspiration to many people – keep it up!

  6. CHRIS RUSSELL says:

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK MARK!CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR PERSEVERENCE AND DILIGENCE IN DOING THE BLOG WHICH HAS BEEN A GREAT HELP TO ME AND OTHER PALS LIKE YOU AND I.
    CHEERS FOR NOW MARK,

    CHRIS

  7. marknico says:

    Dear Mark,
    I only found your blog last night and you are a true inspiration to all others out there battling their illnesses whatever they are. My friend from church has just let us know that he has mnd and I’d just googled it to find out more when I came across your blog. I will be sure to let him know about you as I think he will get tremendous encouragement and hope from your blog. I want to wish you all the best in your courageous battle with this disease.
    Kind regards
    Mark

  8. Julia Ashworth says:

    Dear Mark
    My brother (Chris Russell) told me some time ago about your blog and how much admiration he has for you. It is a great help for people and their families in the same situation to be able to read your blog. Thank you for it and I wish you all the best of luck and lots of love around you.

    Kind regards

    Julia Ashworth

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