Wednesday, March 23rd 2011

The joy of fresh air

We’re into the joys of spring and mother nature is awakening in a profusion of colour and sound. And what a contrast it is compared to last spring when the best I could hope for was a vase of cut flowers on my desk brought in from the garden by my kind hearted carers! Yes, moving to a downstairs living environment is really starting to come into its own now that the weather is improving and we have longer daylight hours in which to enjoy it. Vanessa, Kim and Debbie have all been treating me lately to walks around the housing estate both in the morning and afternoon. Fortunately where I live there are plenty of green spaces, trees and shrubs, and the air is quite often filled with birdsong so it feels really soothing being pushed along and just relaxing whilst taking in all the sights and sounds.

Today Kim and I ventured further and began retracing some of the steps I would take when I used to go out cycling and walking. Parked by a wooden bench halfway along a gravel track (which was not the most comfortable surface to be on when in a wheelchair) I gazed around at the gently rolling green fields with a tinge of sadness. It was around two years ago that I made my last few feeble attempts at walking this path alone. I remembered how as the weeks went by the distance I was able to walk gradually contracted until I no longer had the strength or the confidence to attempt it. I remembered how there had been times when I was so tired I had to sit on one of the park benches for 15 or so minutes all the while worried about whether I would have the energy to stand up by myself again and what I would do if I couldn’t. Worrying times indeed. Fortunately those days are now over and today I was able to enjoy just being out in the fresh air without a care in the world. And what a morning it has been too with the sun beating down from a clear blue sky. In fact it was so warm that I didn’t even need to be wrapped up like I usually am when venturing out. There was even a gentle breeze to enjoy when we reached higher ground. Well I enjoyed it but I think poor Kim was too busy catching her breath after pushing me and a heavy wheelchair up the incline!

But it is not just walks around the neighbourhood that bring the benefit of fresh air as I have now started using my new level access patio. Now that the outside temperature has been steadily improving it has allowed me to sit out in the garden whilst having my morning coffee break. It’s nice to be able to just sit there watching the antics of the birds and neighbourhood cats whilst admiring some of the shrubs coming in to bloom such as the Forsythia, now a blaze of yellow, or the Magnolia which is a mass of white flowers. Today Kim and I even had our lunch out there once we got back from our walk as it was so warm. I have to say this home extension was a long time coming but it really is making a tremendous difference to my quality of life, and for that I am truly grateful.

Mark

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Thursday, March 3rd 2011

Bits and pieces

I’m sitting here relaxing at my computer feeling very contented. I’ve just eaten a delicious toasted bacon and cheese melt sandwich that Kim had made me for my lunch. Not long before that I had been enjoying an Indian head massage courtesy of the lovely Sheila, one of the complimentary therapists at my local hospice. Now I’m just sitting back and relaxing and casting my mind back over recent events so I can get them into some kind of order in readiness for updating the blog.

We had the builders return in recent weeks to do a couple of little jobs for me. The first was to improve the performance of the shower system in the wet room. I’d not been happy with the temperature of the water since I first started using it. At best it could be described as warm even when set to maximum, but now they have tinkered with it the water runs much hotter and I can finally leave the wet room looking like a lobster if I so desire!

The second job they did for me was to fix a flat screen TV to the wall at the far end of the bed. This will make a significant difference and open up options for late evening entertainment, breakfast news or indeed allow for times when perhaps I am not well and need to stay in bed all day. And because the TV is fitted with Freeview it means that I also have access to radio stations as well. All of this is controllable via my Possum environmental control system which sits on a stand beside the bed. Finally I no longer have to try and get to sleep as soon as I am put to bed.

We seem to be suffering from a plague of ants in the new extension. We started noticing them shortly after I moved in. At first it was just the occasional one on the bedroom walls. Then we started noticing one or two in the bathroom. More recently we’ve been seeing half a dozen or more at a time crawling over the bathroom floor. Presumably they must have been disturbed during the building process but where they are getting in is anybody’s guess. We’re planning to capture one and radio tag it so I can track it on Google maps in the hope that it will lead me back to its nest! Picture the scene: a lone warrior ant returns to the nest and says “hey Queenie, look what the nice man gave me, this lovely orange stick with a sparkler attached!” And Queenie says “Why is that clock counting down?” I know, I’m bad. He he… On a more serious note a couple of days ago we had our first clue where they might be getting in and now we have coated the area with ant spray several times we’ve hardly seen any.

I’ve been suffering from some broadband woes this week. Last Sunday I lost all access to the Internet. My laptop was able to communicate with the router but the router was not able to connect to the Internet. This situation persisted for a few days whilst we tried to get BT to send out an engineer. Eventually they did and after conducting various tests concluded that it was the router at fault. Thankfully they replaced it, not only with a new one but also a new model released only last month. Within minutes everything was back up and running again so hopefully that will be the end of my troubles. But for those few days when I was cut off from the rest of the world it made me realise once again how dependent I am on technology and how we as a society have become so interwoven with the Internet. Just a few days away from it and we start to feel withdrawal symptoms. Perhaps I need to consider a contingency plan in case it should ever go down again for any length of time. Maybe it might be a good idea to look into the feasibility of investing in a mobile broadband dongle for emergencies.

And finally just before I sign off I would like to say thank you for all the lovely comments that have been left recently. I’ve really enjoyed reading them all.

Mark

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